Black Lives Matter: Statue to Guy’s Hospital founder could be torn down over slavery links

Josh Salisbury (10 June, 2020)

A statue to Guy's Hospital founder Thomas Guy could be removed over his slavery profiteering

37207A statue of Thomas Guy

A statue to the founder of Guy’s Hospital could be pulled down over his profiteering from the slave trade.

Thomas Guy made a colossal fortune from shares in the South Sea Company, which was granted a monopoly on trafficking slaves to Spain’s colonies in South America in 1713.

A statue to Guy stands by the hospital he helped to found in 1725, next to the Science Gallery, and is owned by the hospital’s charitable arm.

Now it may be removed after an outcry over statues honouring men involved in the British slave trade.

At the weekend, a statue to slave-trader Edward Colston was torn down by Black Lives Matters protesters in Bristol, and dramatically dumped into the city’s docks.

And on Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a commission to review landmarks and street names, saying he would push for those with clear links to slavery to be removed or changed.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust told the News it understood the anger of the black community over memorials celebrating slave-traders and that it would work with the commission to discuss the future of the memorial to its founder.

“We welcome the Mayor of London’s commission announced today and will work with the commission to consider the right way forward,” a spokesperson said.

“We recognise and understand the anger felt by the black community, and are fully committed to playing our part in ending racism, discrimination and inequality.”

While it did not rule out the possibility of removing the sculpture, Guy’s Hospital rejected the idea that it could be renamed.

“There are no current plans to rename the hospital,” the spokesperson said, adding the hospital could not say more on the topic.

It was revealed just hours later that a memorial praising the “genius” of prominent slave-trader Robert Milligan in West India Quay would be torn down immediately.

In a statement, the Museum of London Docklands, where Milligan’s statue stands, said: “Now more than ever at a time when Black Lives Matter is calling for an end to public monuments honouring slave owners, we advocate for the statue of Robert Milligan to be removed on the grounds of its historical links to colonial violence and exploitation.

“We are currently working with a consortium to remove this statue and are aware of other legacies and landmarks within the area.” It was removed at around 7pm Tuesday evening.

Kinika Tasie-Amadi says:

You said “Thomas Guy made a colossal fortune from shares in the South Sea Company, which was granted a monopoly on trafficking slaves to Spain’s colonies in South America in 1713”.

How much of that fortune actually came from trafficking slaves?

diana says:

Oh lets just close down all the hospitals , museums , galleries etc etc and then no one will be ashamed of our past . And whilst we are at it how about a conversation about the part black Africans played in facilitating the slave trade …it could not have happened without them .

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