Two private schools named after a merchant are considering dropping his name due to his "links to the slave trade".

Haberdashers Aske's Boys' and Girls’ Schools in Elstree could be renamed after the schools' governing body learnt its benefactor, Robert Aske, was a shareholder in the Royal African Company.

Parents at both Habs’ schools have been written to informing them a review of the future use of 'Aske' is underway.

The Haberdashers schools could be renamed

The Haberdashers' schools could be renamed

In a letter shared by the school following a request from the Times, Simon Cartmell, chairman of the governing body for Habs’ schools in Elstree, writes: “It is with great sadness that we report that the Haberdashers’ company and its schools both in Elstree and in the federation in south London, have become aware that our benefactor, Robert Aske, whose bequest over 300 years ago laid the foundation for education of children across London, was a shareholder in the Royal African Company.

"It is clear to us all that the role of the Royal African Company, and other companies involved in the slave trade, was deplorable and abhorrent.

"Such activity sits in stark contrast with the values which underpin the activities and philosophies of the company, its schools, and its beneficiaries today."

Haberdashers Girls Schools new STEM building

Haberdashers' Girls' School's new STEM building

Mr Cartmell went on to say: "As the founding benefactor, Robert Aske is a man whose legacy has been central to the schools.

"We cannot change the past, but equally we cannot ignore it. We can however learn from our history and use it to shape who we are today and what we will become tomorrow."

The letter, which is co-signed by Habs' Boys' headmaster Gus Lock and Habs' Girls' headmistress, Rose Hardy, goes on to say the schools are already engaged in "comprehensive reviews of their culture, values, and ideas".

Headmaster Gus Lock and headmistress Rose Hardy. Photo taken pre-Covid

Headmaster Gus Lock and headmistress Rose Hardy. Photo taken pre-Covid

Mr Cartmell continued: "Furthermore, the matter will now be subject to deliberation by the company, which is rightly proud of its ethos of benevolence, fellowship and inclusion, and the diverse nature of its membership.

"The outcome of these reviews, including the future use of the Aske name, will be communicated when conclusions are reached, and decisions made."

In November, the Haberdashers' schools announced for the first time in 145 years, the schools - which share the same site - would unite and learn together as one on the same campus.

Under the joint strategy, both schools will continue to deliver single sex education, while also benefitting from an expansive co-educational setting.