Is the church’s payment of compensation based on a false premise?

If these claims are correct, then the Church is dead wrong in using the £440m claim to justify its £100m spending today

Last January, the Church Commissioner responsible for Anglican investments released a report into the Bounty Scheme of Queen Anne, one of its key predecessors. The report states that between 1720 and 1740, bounty organizations invested approximately £440 million in the slave trade through the South Sea Company.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “I am deeply sorry for these links”. In atonement, commissioners committed £100m to a nine-year program of “impact investment, research and engagement”. The decision was not universally welcomed by Anglicans in general. The parish was getting poorer. Many believe that all available funds should be used for Christian ministries today rather than correcting mistakes made 300 years ago.

However, the senior officers prevailed over the poor bloody infantry. The £100m scheme is underway.Funds also used to recruit “racial justice” officers [see my columns of March 5 and 19] Preach “deconstructing whiteness” to the heathen (better known as the man or woman in every seat in England).

The report’s foreword talks about the modern church’s “commitment to telling the truth” in order to achieve “Sankofa,” a Ghanaian word that means “looking back to the past and moving toward a better future.” But is the history recorded in the report true? Professor Richard Dale, a business historian who studied the famous “South Sea Bubble” of 1720, said in a recent article in the Church Times that this was not the case. I called him to find out more.

Professor Dyer pointed out that the commissioners’ report was not peer-reviewed before publication, as appropriate academic articles must be. He praised the diligent research of Grant Thornton’s report on the details of the bounty investments, but noted that its work lacked different, critical dimensions that peer reviewers would have noticed.

The fact is that in 1723, three years after the South Sea Bubble burst, Parliament passed an act splitting the South Sea Company in two. One of them is a trading company. Another company sells what is effectively government debt and pays annuity interest on it.

The committee’s report said that “anyone who invested in the company before 1740 was consciously investing in these [slave-trading] voyage. Professor Dyer says the opposite is true. Those who purchase annuities are consciously not investing in slavery.The purpose of this regulation is
This is made possible through what is now called “fencing,” which prevents any financial or legal relationship between the transaction and the annuity. This seems to have been done because the trade (of which slaves were a large part, but not all) was very risky. The crash of 1720 had shown how toxic a mix of government debt and high risk could be.

After the act was enacted, the Queen Anne’s Bounty Fund invested all of its money in annuities—exactly the lower but safer return a sober church organization sought. Once the secession occurred, it no longer bought any stocks related to slavery.

Indeed, the Bounty did invest £14,000 (equivalent to £2.4 million today) into the undivided company between 1720 and 1723, so for a time the Bounty was able to profit from slavery . However, it is not. When Parliament divided the South Sea Company in 1723, it also divided the shares of the Bounty Company equally. Bounty soon sold his shares in his trading company but retained and greatly expanded his annuity.

Incredibly, Bounty’s administrators in 1720 seemed to have had no moral qualms about the slave trade. However, they subsequently made no further investment and made no money from it.

The commission’s report also concluded that the bounty program received tainted funds because the donors who supported its primary purpose – aiding poor clergy – often had made their fortunes from slavery. This is presumably true, but it is independent of and secondary to the main allegation of the report.

I don’t think Professor Dyer’s objection is quibbling. If correct, the £440m claim used by the church to justify today’s £100m payout is dead wrong and the Queen Anne’s Bounty is not guilty of the crime alleged. The church commissioners did not ensure that the necessary comprehensive, factual research was conducted.

“A significant portion of the Bounty’s revenue… came from sources possibly related to transatlantic chattel slavery, primarily interest and dividends from the South Sea Company,” the report said.
Annuity”. The word “connect” is tricky. Annuities had no meaningful connection to slavery, and the commissioners had the ability to know that. So what remains of their main accusation?

This isn’t the first time the church has tried to deny its past and done so unfairly. In recent years, the Holy See has posthumously accused the Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, of child abuse. After repeated denials, they eventually admitted that their claims were baseless and without due process.

The estate’s current claim to Queen Anne’s bounty seemed equally unfair, and, as in the Bell case, was motivated more by a desire to look good than by a passion for the truth. You could call it ethical bounty hunting.

Furthermore, spending £100 million on a false premise is a huge expense, especially when the real needs of the clergy and their followers are so great.

So far, no bishop or archbishop has commented publicly on Professor Dyer’s work. Until they do so, a huge cloud hangs over the church commissioners’ report.

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