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Architect's impression of the proposed exhibition space. Image: Paul Vonberg Architects.

Statement on the conclusion of the Consistory Court hearing

A statement from Jesus College on the conclusion of the Consistory Court hearing of the petition for a faculty for the relocation of the memorial commemorating Tobias Rustat.

The College is grateful to the Court for allowing it to put forward its case.

In summary, our position is as follows.

  • The presence of the memorial in its prominent position in the Chapel is compromising the worship and mission of the Church of England.
  • Furthering the Christian gospel is compromised. In the words of the Dean, it “frustrates the Chapel’s ability to realise and host a credible Christian witness and ministry to all”.
  • The presence of the memorial has “a demonstrable negative impact on the mission and ministry of the Church”.
  • The court-appointed expert witnesses for both parties, two historians, agree that Rustat was undoubtedly involved in the slave trade and state the following: 
    • It is beyond dispute that, between 1663 and 1691, Rustat was involved with companies (the Royal Adventurers and the Royal African Company) that traded enslaved people; in both cases this involvement was as an investor, lender and in the running of those companies.
    • There is also no doubt that Rustat was fully aware that these companies were involved in trading enslaved people.
    • Rustat’s involvement pre-dated and post-dated his gifts to Jesus College, and he was involved in the Royal Adventurers when he donated to the College.
    • Rustat appears to have been more active than the average shareholder in the governance of the RAC.
  • This history is unambiguous and accurate, and the allegations that we have said something to the students that is inaccurate are false.
  • Rustat is not being cancelled, erased or destroyed, To the contrary, he will continue to be remembered in his final resting place in the Chapel, and elsewhere in the College – his name will remain prominently on the donors’ wall, and his coat of arms will remain in place in a window in the College. 
  • Under our proposal, his memorial will be put on display in an appropriate and prominent location – an educational exhibition space – a short distance from the Chapel and still within the College where it can be contextualised, without compromising the worship and mission of the Church of England in the College. 
  • Money deriving from funds established in Rustat’s name continues to be distributed, in accordance with their charitable purposes, primarily to support the education of the children of ordained clergy in the Church of England.