LONDON, CMC – Lord Sebastien Coe has expressed shock to have learned that his ancestor sexually abused slaves in Jamaica and fathered a child as a result.
Lord Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 Olympics organising committee, discovered the sordid details when he took part in a BBC Television show, Who Do You Think You Are, which traces the family trees of British celebrities.
The former Olympic distance running champion is related to George Hyde Park, an18th century sugar baron, who reportedly fathered six illegitimate and owned plantations in the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica, the home parish of sprint king Usain Bolt.
George Hyde Park close to 300 slaves, whose “value” in today’s economy would be a little over US $1.15 million.
“My whole career has been surrounded by extraordinary Jamaican athletes,” said Lord Coe. “I guess I’m going to find deeper and less attractive roots.”
“There is an uncomfortable elephant in the room which is inescapable. Because every time we look at the plantation ownership there are slaves.”
Hyde Park regularly had sexual relationships with his female slaves and one of them, named Sarah Lee, gave birth to a daughter, named Elizabeth Lee Clarke, who was listed as a beneficiary in his will.
“There are odd contradictions because with the horror of all that went with slave labour and the brutality of everyday existence on those plantations, you occasionally get glimpses of redemptive features – the way he made provision for Sarah Lee and their child,” he said.
“How would I feel if I was living on the inherited wealth of the sugar industry? Well, I know I’m not and that’s a bit of a cop-out. But I don’t think I’d be that comfortable if that was the source of [my] wealth accretion. Mercifully, it’s not, and I don’t have to enter that moral maze.”