Calls for Wrexham pub named after 'infamous racist' slave trader to change name

Credit: Google Maps/Yale University

There are calls for a pub in Wrexham to change its name because of links to the slave trade.

The Elihu Yale Wetherspoon pub in Wrexham is named after a British merchant who was involved in the slave trade in the 17th century.

An online petition calling for the renaming has reached more than 300 signatures in one day.

Wetherspoon said they did not know about the links to slavery and are "willing to consider a change of name."

Thousands have taken part in protests and campaigned internationally against racism as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. One protest in Bristol saw the statue of Edward Colston, a slave owner, pulled down.

The petition has gathered more than 300 signatures in the space of one day. Credit: change.org

The online petition calls for the pub on Regent Street to be renamed as "Old Man Spoons" or Llwyau Hen Ddyn in Welsh, claiming that is what it is more commonly known as in the area.

The petition also says that until recently, "the sign on the front of the pub depicted Elihu with a black slave chained next to him."

The petition writer, Eleanor Lee, states that Wrexham should not be commemorating figures like Yale who were slave traders.

Wrexham is a small town, but I'm sure I speak for most members of the community in agreeing that this is not what our town and local pubs should be commemorating; an infamous racist, slave trader who made his notoriety and fortune off the suffering of others.

Eleanor Lee, petition starter
Protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been staged across Wales and internationally. Credit: Charanpreet Khaira
Elihu Yale made donations of books and art to Yale University - who named themselves after Elihu. Credit: Yale University

Originally born in America, Elihu Yale moved to Wales with his family as a child - although later moving again to live in London. His great grandfather bought the Plas Grono estate in Wrexham, which is now part of the Erddig estate, in the late 16th century.

In the 1680's, Yale became the governor of the East India Company's operation in Madras - now Chennai.

During this time, company officials like Yale, bought and trafficked slaves. Yale was also part of the decision to enforce a rule that each ship headed for Europe should carry at least ten slaves on board.

Most of those people would have been kept as the official property of the East India Company and not of Yale himself, however, he would have profited from their sale.

Yale did instruct that the company would stop buying and selling slaves in May 1688 however, there are suggestions that this was due to pressure from the local Mughal government in Madras who were complaining about the loss of their loved ones. A company ship was ordered to leave Madras and head to Madagascar to buy slaves just a few months before the ban in May.

Yale was removed from his position with the East India Company in 1692 but was still able to bring his fortune back with him to Britain - where he spent his time split between his homes in Wrexham and in London.

Yale University in America is named after Elihu, who donated to the institution after leaving Madras.

Elihu Yale died in 1721 and was buried at Wrexham's St Giles Parish Church.

Elihu Yale remains buried at the St Giles Parish Church in Wrexham. Credit: Wrexham Council

A Wetherspoon spokesperson explained the pub was named after Elihu's involvement in the creation of Yale University and they are "willing" to change the pub's name if necessary.

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

Wetherspoon spokesperson