The head of the London 2011 Olympics Lord Coe, has discovered that his ancestor sexually abused enslaved women in Jamaica and fathered children as a result.
Lord Coe discovered his shocking ancestral past when he took part in the BBC TV show, Who Do You Think You Are, which traces celebs’ family trees.
During research it was discovered that the former Olympic runner is related to the 18th century sugar baron George Hyde Park who fathered six illegitimate and owned plantations in the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica.
George Hyde Park owned 297 enlaved Africans and in an inventory their names and ‘value’, £700,000 in today’s money, were listed.
Coe, an Olympic gold medallist, was embarrassed at the revelation that Hyde Park fathered a total of six illegitimate children.
Hyde Park regularly had sexual relationships with his female slaves and one of them, named Sarah Lee, gave birth to his daughter.
Lord Coe, who said he had no idea his roots lay in the Caribbean, accepted that his ancestor was ‘not coming out of this as an Eton chorister.’
Hyde Park’s mixed-race daughter, Elizabeth Lee Clarke, was listed as a beneficiary in his will.
Before the start of the deeper search into his ancestor Lord Coe said: “My whole career has been surrounded by extraordinary Jamaican athletes. I guess I’m going to find deeper and less attractive roots.”
Tory peer Coe also found out that he is descended from another one of Hyde Clarke’s illegitimate children – a Captain Hyde John Clarke.
Coe said during the show: “There is an uncomfortable elephant in the room which is inescapable. Because every time we look at the plantation ownership there are slaves.
“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 the barbarous nature of the enslavers.”
ABUSED: Often the fate for many female slaves.
He added: “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.”
Coe said he knew little about his family past but had been aware of his Anglo-Indian roots – his maternal grandmother, Vera Swan, married Sardari Lal, a university student from the Punjab, India.