We would like to thank Rosemary Mecklenburgh and the Mecklenburgh and Harrison families for sharing their donation story with us.

 


A Note for the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation

 

We write this note as the children and grand-children of Robin Harrison who was Warden of Merton
College, Oxford from 1963 to 1969. Over the past few years, since the shocking information about
the loans taken out to fund compensation to slave owners in the 1830s came to our attention, we
have been researching our family tree. We were disturbed to learn that that Robin’s Great-Great-
Grandfather had been a slave owner in Jamaica. As far as we have been able to establish he had
owned one slave, John Lawrence Freeman and we were glad to discover that he was freed in the 18th
century. We are sure that our ancestor would have owned other slaves to work in his house.
However we are confident that as his son, who was alive in 1833, lived in England and did not own
any slaves, that our forebears had not benefitted from the compensation paid to slave owners after
the Act of 1833. Nevertheless the scandalous treatment of the Windrush generation, the increased
risks faced by BAME frontline workers from COVID 19 and the murder of George Floyd led us to
contemplate what Robin’s reaction would have been had he been alive today. In his professional life
Robin worked hard to combat the inequalities that existed then in Higher Education. We remember
his strong views about the Windrush generation and the injustices of the Immigration Acts of the
early 1960s.

Furthermore, we believe that Robin would have strongly supported the Cowrie Scholarship
Foundation with its aim of funding 100 Black and [disadvantaged] students through university in the next
decade. We have already raised £2500 for the Foundation by auctioning furniture and other items
which had been inherited from our parents. The remainder of our families have agreed to donate to
the Foundation 10% of what we inherit from our Aunt Katharine when her estate is finalised. We
chose the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation because we felt that its aim was excellent and achievable
and also because one of us knew one of the Trustees, Professor Chris Jackson, and much admired
him with his aim of improving BAME representation not just at the undergraduate level but within
academia as a whole. The family have now met Professor Richard Oreffo, Founder and Trustee of
the Foundation via ZOOM and we are even more committed to this Charity as we found him equally
inspiring.

Rosemary Mecklenburgh
On behalf of the Harrison and Mecklenburgh Families


 

If you have a donation story we would love to hear from you- https://cowriescholarshipfoundation.org.uk/contact-us/

If you would like to help transform the lives of disadvantaged Black students, please visit our gofundme page- https://www.gofundme.com/f/cowrie-scholarship-foundation