Liverpool and the slave trade

During the 18th century, Liverpool made about £300,000 a year from the slave trade. The rest of Britain's slave trading ports put together made about the same amount again.

In the 1780s Liverpool-based vessels alone carried more than 300,000 Africans into slavery. By 1795 Liverpool controlled over 60 per cent of the British and over 40 per cent of the entire European slave trade.

Although Liverpool merchants engaged in many other trades and commodities, involvement in the slave trade occupied the whole port. Nearly all the main merchants and citizens of Liverpool, including many of the mayors, were involved.

The wealth acquired by the town was substantial. The slave trade made a great deal of money for the city's docks. The stimulus it gave to trading and industrial development throughout the north-west of England and the Midlands was of crucial importance.

In 1700 Liverpool was a fishing port with a population of 5,000 people. By 1800, 78,000 people lived and worked in Liverpool. Thousands found work because of the slave trade:

  • Ships were needed which had to be built and equipped.
  • Carpenters, rope makers, dock workers and sailors were all in demand.
  • Others found work in banking and insurance.

Liverpool was prosperous and booming, and its success was the result of its involvement in the slave trade.