Skip to main content

Sir Henry Tate

1819 - 1899

This person is the subject of ongoing research. We have started by researching their relationship to the enslavement of people.

Biographical notes

Sugar merchant and philanthropist.

National Gallery Trustee (1897–1899).

Slavery connections

Statement on Tate’s website: ‘Neither Henry Tate nor Abram Lyle was born when the British slave-trade was abolished in 1807. Henry Tate was 14 years old when the Act for the abolition of slavery was passed in 1833; Abram Lyle was 12. By definition, neither was a slave-owner; nor have we found any evidence of their families or partners owning enslaved people. However, we believe the firms founded by the two men, which later combined as Tate & Lyle, do connect to slavery in less direct but fundamental ways. First, the sugar industry on which both the Tate and the Lyle firms (the two merged in 1921) were built in the 19th century was itself absolutely constructed on the foundation of slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries, both in supply and in demand. Without slavery, the British sugar industry and the wider Atlantic sugar industry would not have existed in the form and on the scale they did’. (‘The Tate Galleries and Slavery’, Tate [online], August 2019, <> accessed 5 August 2021.)

National Gallery painting connections

Former owner: works from Tate’s collection presented between 1894 and 1897 and placed in the Tate Gallery upon its opening: NG1504–1568, NG1703, NG1752 and NG1753.


anon., 'Tate, Sir Henry', in J. Turner et al. (eds), Grove Art Online, Oxford 1998-,
Checked and foundItem on publisher's website

History of Parliament Trust (ed.), The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History, London 1964-,
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website

R. Munting, 'Tate, Sir Henry, first baronet', in C. Matthew et al. (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 1992-,
Checked and foundItem on publisher's website

UCL Department of History (ed.), Legacies of British Slave-ownership, London 2020,
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website