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Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract: The Story of a Tangled Inheritance

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He eventually became an MP and was a highly influential behind the scene fixer in some of the political shenanigans of the 18th century. As another review described, at the moment, this is an extensive family record as opposed to something for a wider audience.

Although there was much too much detailed political scene setting for the Richard Atkinson with the rum contract. The author, a distant kinsman of Richard 'rum' Atkinson, inherited a box of letters and started digging into his family history - and we are lucky that he has the knack of writing wonderfully readable prose. Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract is the story of a morally tangled inheritance, but it is also the story of Richard Atkinson the younger’s obsessive pursuit of Richard Atkinson the elder.Drawing on his ancestors’ private correspondence, Richard Atkinson pieces together their unsettling story, from the weather-beaten house in Cumbria where they once lived to the ruins of their sugar estates in Jamaica.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The paperwork that he produced and generated was mind-numbing; it’s no wonder Atkinson had to give up his day job. Rum’ Atkinson died young, at the height of his powers, leaving a vast inheritance to his many nephews and nieces, as well as the society beauty who had refused his proposal of marriage; 40 years of litigation followed as his heirs wrangled over his legacy. He also discovered DNA connections to several lines of formerly enslaved people in the Caribbean, one line possibly beginning with “Rum” himself.Also fascinating given the increasing acknowledgement of the role or slavery in the development of the UK and the author faces that head on, and it gives it a contemporary resonance.

Remarkables REMARKABLES Intriguing, stunning, or otherwise remarkable books These include fine editions, foreign publications that are exceptional for their interest or production, special editions and some first-rate books from very small publishers. Richard Atkinson was in his late 30s and approaching a milestone he had long feared - the age at which his father died – when one day he came across a box of old family letters gathering dust in a cupboard. See our Remarkables Archive for some that are no longer in print, but which we are happy to try to track down. I’m particularly embarrassed to have chosen to read this for Black History Month, although in my defence I had hoped it might help with my WIP which touches on the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade in Cumbria, where the Atkinson family has its roots.

Still, the thing that’s most interesting about it is the fact that many of his ancestors were slaveowners, holding significant estates in Jamaica. This extraordinarily original work of detective biography is also a uniquely personal account of one of the most disturbing chapters in Britain’s colonial past. This was an enjoyable read, with the author digging into the archives of his family to paint a portrait of Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. It may sound like a stretch to say that it's given me a new lens with which to view today's turbulent world.

The timing of this book intrigues; had it been published even a month later, I wonder if Atkinson’s publishers would have asked him to address this shameful legacy more directly. Rum’ Atkinson died young, at the height of his powers, leaving a vast inheritance to his many nephews and nieces, as well as the society beauty who had refused his proposal of marriage; forty years of litigation followed as his heirs wrangled over his legacy. Still, what it does do is drive home how many perfectly average middle-class families in Britain today have benefited from the slave trade.The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products.

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