Ancestors of secularist campaigner Richard Dawkins made their fortune from the slave trade, it has been revealed.
The outspoken atheist, who once branded the Catholic Church 'evil', is the direct descendent of Henry Dawkins who owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica until he died in 1744.
His 400-acre family estate, Over Norton Park near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, is believed to have been bought with money made through slave ownership hundreds of years ago.
Another ancestor was a member of the clergy while two were MPs who campaigned against the abolition of the slave trade.
Slavery was eventually abolished with the help of evangelical Christian, William Wilberforce - a deeply religious English member of parliament and social reformer.
But Professor Dawkins, author of The Selfish Game, told The Sunday Telegraph that linking him with the slave trade was a 'smear tactic'.
He said: 'I condemn slavery with the utmost vehemence, but the fact that my remote ancestors may have been involved in it is nothing to do with me.'
[link to www.dailymail.co.uk