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universalmagazine Via #Telegraph x @azealiabanks (twitter) By Philip Sherwell
New York city commissioner who shares surname with Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch believes his ancestor owned her slave forebears

She is the grand-daughter of Caribbean immigrants to America who has just been appointed to a top job by Bill de Blasio, New York's new mayor.

He is the dashing British actor who stars as Sherlock Holmes in the hit television series on both sides of the Atlantic and plays a plantation owner in the Oscar-nominated film 12 Years A Slave.

Despite their very different backgrounds, Stacey Cumberbatch and Benedict Cumberbatch apparently do not just share a distinctively English-sounding surname.

Ms Cumberbatch believes that the star's fifth great-grandfather owned her ancestors on an 18th century sugar plantation on Barbados.

They are "related", not by blood, but by their shared roots in the brutal transatlantic slave trade, she told The New York Times after her appointment as a city commissioner.

Her ancestors were slaves on the island at the time when it was the practice for them to take the family names of plantation owners such as Abraham Cumberbatch.

The star has previously discussed how his name became common among families from the Caribbean because of his forebear's role on the island.

Although there are no paper records to establish the link, it now seems that New York's new chief of administrative services is among them.

Mr Cumberbatch's performance in 12 Years A Slave, which has been nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, is not the first time that he has chosen a role that harks back to his family's ties to slavery.

Abraham Cumberbatch, who was born in Bristol in 1726 and died in 1785, came from a family of merchants and adventurers and built the clan's fortune from a sugar plantation on Barbados.

The actor said that it was a "sort of apology" for this history when he played William Pitt the Younger, the abolitionist prime minister, in the 2006 film Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce's fight to eliminate the slave trade in the British empire.
#READMORE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/

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