Memorials with Colonial Links

At least 200 of our memorials relate to lives connected to the British Empire and colonialism from the 1600s onwards. Sadly, this means what we see in the Abbey today was sometimes paid for from profits made through the suffering and exploitation of enslaved people.

The Abbey deeply regrets this part of its history, and all human exploitation and racism, past and present. Along with the whole Church of England, we apologise unreservedly for having condoned or sustained transatlantic slavery, in any way whatsoever.

The Monumental Lives team is aware of the sensitivity of this subject matter and have taken responsibility for educating ourselves by undergoing diversity and inclusion training by Renée Jacobs. We have also consulted with Lisa Kennedy, an independent writer and researcher who advocates for the inclusion of wider perspectives within museums and the study of history. We have followed her recent guidance: ‘Finding the Words: addressing language in archive collections’.  Lisa has edited and advised us on the use of appropriate language in the biographies of some of the people connected to colonialism, ​​with the intention to actively acknowledge and address this history. 

Find out more

We hope to gradually add more biographies across the website, giving voice to those memorialised within our walls. The seven people below provide a snapshot of Bath Abbey’s colonial connections:

Hannah Alleyne

Hannah Alleyne was born Hannah Downes c.1727 in Barbados. She was the daughter of John Downes (1698-1772) of The Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados. The Downes were a family who owned plantations, where enslaved people worked…


John Bridge Aspinall

Born on 28th April 1759, John Bridge Aspinall became Mayor of Liverpool in 1804 when the city was home to a leading port driving trade of enslaved people and commodities. By 1810, John Bridge was frequenting Bath and later took up residence. Until the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807, he and other family members were heavily involved in the transportation and trading of enslaved people….


Joseph Beete

Joseph Beete (1753-1815) was born in London. He spent most of his life in Grenada and Demerara, now known as Guyana. He bought land in Grenada in 1785  and was Secretary of the Island Council in 1795. Grenada was a French colony from 1690 until 1763…


Alan Gardner

Gardner was born in 1742 to Lieutenant-Colonel William Gardner and Elizabeth Farrington. Gardner started his journey to admiralty in 1755 when he joined the crew of the Medway, aged just 13. The Medway was part of the Western Squadron….


William Mackinnon

It can be reasonably assumed that William Mackinnon was born in Antigua. But this is uncertain. His father, Daniel, arrived in Antigua as a ship’s physician, and became the owner of a sugar plantation. Following his father, William was elected a member of the Antiguan Assembly…


James Dottin Maycock

James Dottin Maycock was born in Barbados, the eldest son of Catherine O’Brien and Dottin Maycock (1742-1793), Solicitor General of Barbados. He was educated at Harrow and the University of Edinburgh where he gained a medical degree in 1811...


John Mervin Nooth

The exact date of birth for John Mervin Nooth is uncertain. Nooth’s memorial inscriptions states his age to be 38 years old by the time of his death.
In April 1797, it is documented that he purchased a commission as Lieutenant in the 7th Foot regiment.

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