Wrexham's Elihu Yale pub name rethink over slave trade link

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Grave of Elihu YaleImage source, Colin Park | Geograph
Image caption,
Elihu Yale is buried at St Giles Parish Church in Wrexham

A pub named after a man linked to the 17th Century slave trade could be renamed following public pressure.

Wrexham's Elihu Yale pub is at the centre of the issue after a petition said people connected with slavery should not be commemorated.

Yale was an official for the East India Company in Madras and played a role in its Indian Ocean slave trading.

Wetherspoon said it had used his name for the pub as he was the benefactor of Yale University in the US.

A statue of another 17th Century slave trader was torn from its plinth during a demonstration in Bristol over the weekend.

Image source, Google

It came as Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place across the world after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, in May.

A number of locations in Wrexham have adopted Yale's name, including a college campus and private hospital.

In the US, Yale University, which acknowledges its namesake's involvement in slave trading, took his name due to the donations he made to the then fledging institution.

Who was Elihu Yale?

Image source, Enoch Seeman | Yale University Art Gallery

Elihu Yale was born 5 April 1649 in Boston, Massachusetts, the second son of David Yale, a prosperous Boston merchant.

The family's connection with Wrexham began in the late 16th century when Yale's great grandfather bought what is now part of the Erddig estate, run by the National Trust.

Yale joined his father's firm and later entered the service of the East India Company as a clerk.

He travelled to India in 1671 where he remained for 27 years, rising to become governor of Fort St George, an important trading post, in 1684.

He returned to Britain in 1699 and he died in 1721. His remains are buried at Wrexham's St Giles Parish Church.

The petition, signed by almost 200 people, suggests renaming the pub to "Old Man Spoons" or the Welsh language equivalent.

Organiser Eleanor Lee said Yale and his family "made their fortune within the slave trade and has since been glorified".

"This is not what our town and local pubs should be commemorating," she said.

Wetherspoon told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it was willing to consider changing the pub's name as it was "not aware of any connections with the slave trade".

"We called it The Elihu Yale because he was involved in the foundation of what is now Yale University in the US, as we understand it," said a spokesman.

"We will look into these allegations, which are very concerning. Wetherspoon is certainly willing to consider a change of name."