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Liverpool began as a tidal pool next to the river Mersey and was known as 'Lifer pul', possibly meaning a pool or creek with muddy water.
. It was probably called the lifer pol meaning muddy pool. There may have been a hamlet at Liverpool before the town was founded in the 13th century. It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) but it may have been to small to merit a mention of its own.
King John founded the port of Liverpool in 1207 and announced the foundation of the borough of Liverpool. The English had recently conquered Ireland and John needed another port to send men and supplies across the Irish Sea. John started a weekly market by the pool. In those days there were very few shops so if you wanted to buy or sell goods you had to go to a market. Once a market was up and running at Liverpool craftsmen and tradesmen would come to live in the area.
As well as a weekly market the king gave the citizens of Liverpool the right to hold an annual fair. In the Middle Ages a fair was like a market but it was held only once a year for a period of a few days. A Liverpool fair would attract buyers and sellers from all over northwest England.
King John divided the land at Liverpool into plots called burgages on which people could build houses. He invited people to come and live in Liverpool. Then in 1229 the king granted the people of Liverpool another charter. This time he gave the merchants of Liverpool the right to form themselves into an organisation called a guild to protect their interests. In many medieval towns the Merchant's Guild also ran the town. In Liverpool the guildsmen elected an official called the Reeve to run the town on a day-to-day basis. The first mention of a Mayor of Liverpool was in 1351.
However even up to the middle of the 16th century the population was still only around 500.
Skins and hides were imported from Ireland. Iron and wool were exported from Liverpool. Despite its small size Liverpool sent 2 MPs to Parliament in 1295.
The original street plan of Liverpool is said to have been designed by King John near the same time it was granted a royal charter, making it a borough. The original seven streets were laid out in a H shape: Bank Street (now Water Street) Castle Street Chapel Street Dale Street Juggler Street (now High Street) Moor Street (now Tithebarn Street) Whiteacre Street (now Old Hall Street)
The (Trans)Atlantic slave trade refers to trade in mainly African slaves from central and western parts of the continent to colonies in North and South America by European traders. There, the slaves were made to labor on coffee, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, in gold and silver mines, in rice fields, the construction industry, timber, and shipping or in houses to work as servants. An estimated 15 million Africans were transported as slaves to the Americas between 1540 and 1850. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2408889
The first Europeans to use enslaved Africans were the Spaniards who sought workers for the expeditions in islands such as Cuba and Hispaniola (now Haiti and Dominican Republic) in 1501. They were then closely followed by the Portuguese who needed the slaves to work on their enourmous sugar plantations in Brazil around 1545 In order to produce goods at a profitable rate, cheap labour was required to work the plantations. Brazil's native Tupani population initially formed the bulk of the Portuguese slaves but overwork, disease and ill-treatment led to serious labour shortages, 84% of Africans that were shipped to the New World were destined for the sugar plantation of Brazil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_trade
Slavery already existed in Africa, where tribes enslaved people from other ethnic groups, as prisoners of war, in payment for debt or as a punishment for crimes. African slaves started to be shipped to the plantations in the Americas. To meet the increasing demand from European traders, there was a marked increase in the numbers of wars, raids and kidnapping of individuals, particularly on the west coast.
Landowners in the Americas quickly concluded that African slaves were more suitable than the English or Irish. The reasons usually stated for African slaves being preferred is that they could easily be bought from traders on the West African coast and were more immune to disease than indigenous Americans or imported white slaves. Although there is some truth in these arguments, the main reason was that Africans made good slave labourers because many of them were skilled artisans.
However the hard life of a slave meant nearly one-third of all slaves dying within three years, creating a constant demand to replace them.
The shippers were, in order of scale, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and Americans. The traders had outposts on the African coast where they purchased people from African slave-traders.
Between 1650 and 1900, 10.24 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas from the following regions in the following proportions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_trade
As Britain rose in naval power and settled continental North America and some islands of the West Indies, they became the leading slave traders. At one stage the trade was the monopoly of the Royal Africa Company, operating out of London, but following the loss of the company's monopoly in 1689, Bristol and Liverpool merchants became increasingly involved in the trade. By the late 17th century, one out of every four ships that left Liverpool harbour was a slave trading ship. Other British cities also profited from the slave trade. Birmingham, the largest gun producing town in Britain at the time, supplied guns to be traded for slaves. 75% of all sugar produced in the plantations came to London to supply the highly lucrative coffee houses there.
The growth of the trade was slow but solid. By the 1730s about 15 ships a year were leaving for Africa and this grew to about 50 a year in the 1750s, rising to just over a 100 in each of the early years of the 1770s. Numbers declined during the American War of Independence (1775-83), but rose to a new peak of 120-130 ships annually in the two decades preceding the abolition of the trade in 1807. Probably three-quarters of all European slaving ships at this period left from Liverpool. Overall, Liverpool ships transported half of the 3 million Africans carried across the Atlantic by British slavers.
The precise reasons for Liverpool's dominance of the trade are still debated by historians. Some suggest that Liverpool merchants were being pushed out of the other Atlantic trades, such as sugar and tobacco. Others claim that the town's merchants were more enterprising. A significant factor was the port's position with ready access via a network of rivers and canals to the goods traded in Africa - textiles from Lancashire and Yorkshire, copper and brass from Staffordshire and Cheshire and guns from Birmingham.
It would be wrong to attribute all of Liverpool's success to the slave trade, but it was undoubtedly the backbone of the town's prosperity. Historian, David Richardson suggests that slaving and related trades may have occupied a third and possibly a half of Liverpool's shipping activity in the period 1750 to 1807. The wealth acquired by the town was substantial and the stimulus it gave to trading and industrial development throughout the north-west of England and the Midlands was of crucial importance.
The last British slaver, the Kitty's Amelia, left Liverpool under Captain Hugh Crow in July 1807. However, even after abolition Liverpool continued to develop the trading connections which had been established by the slave trade, both in Africa and the Americas.
A significant factor in Liverpool's engagement in the Slave Trade was the port's geographical position in the north-west of England, with ready access via a network of rivers and canals to the goods traded in Africa - textiles from Lancashire and Yorkshire, copper and brass from Staffordshire and Cheshire and guns from Birmingham.
Liverpool's first slaving vessel, ironically named Blessing, set sail in 1700. In 1710 two slave ships departed from Liverpool, 24 from London and 20 from Bristol. London then declined and Bristol rose to prominence mid-century, but by 1771 Liverpool was the pre-eminent slave ship port. That year no fewer than 107 left dock on the Mersey on slaving voyages compared with 58 from London and 20 from Bristol. By the end of the 18th century, Liverpool had over 60% of the entire British trade and 40% of the entire European slave trade.
Profits could be huge: the ship Lively made a profit of 300% in 1737, although this was exceptional. Most ships could guarantee a 10% profit.
In Liverpool, there were ten large merchant houses engaged in the slave trade and 349 smaller firms. Shop windows displayed shining chains and manacles, devices to force open the mouths of slaves who refused to eat, neck rings, thumb screws and other implements of torment and oppression.
Not all of Liverpool's wealth was thanks to the slave trade, but it was undoubtedly the backbone of the town's prosperity. Slaving and related trades may have occupied a third and possibly a half of Liverpool's shipping activity in the period 1750 to 1807. The wealth acquired by the town was substantial and the stimulus it gave to trading and industrial development throughout the north-west of England and the Midlands was of crucial importance.
Defending the slave trade in the British Parliament in 1806, Liverpool's MP, General Bonastre Tarleton, himself from a slave-owning family, described with pride Liverpool's rise 'to become the second place in wealth and population in the British Empire'. During the same debate, William Roscoe and William Wilberforce worked on behalf of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and were adamant that 'nothing short of an entire and immediate abolition will satisfy'. The Parliamentary vote resulted in the abolition of slavery in Britain the following year.
After The Slave Trade
After abolition in Britain in 1807 Liverpool continued to develop the trading connections which had been established by the slave trade, both in Africa and the Americas. It continued to grow and prosper as a maritime port well into the 20th Century, until sea trade declined internationally and the demand for new ships from the Mersey shipyards reduced to such a level that they are now closed.
The Maritime Museum with its gallery detailing the city's role in the trade stands on the corner of Albert Dock. Built in 1841, the dock is next to the former entrance of Canning Dock, Liverpool's first dock used by the slave ships and today filled in and known as Canning Place. Two dry docks used to repair slave ships from the 1750s until the end of the trade are still used today by the Maritime Museum. Aside from this, some buildings of the era survive scattered around the town.
The Bluecoats School, founded and funded by slave merchants, is now an arts centre.
At Pier Head, buildings resonant of the British Empire such as the Liver Building dominate a landscape whose wealth was built with the slave ships that once docked just a few hundred yards away.
The city of Liverpool now officially acknowledges the fact of it once being a major slaving port with the opening of the International Slavery Museum on 23 August, 2007.
On 9 December 1999 Liverpool City Council passed a formal motion apologising for the City's part in the slave trade. It was unanimously agreed that Liverpool acknowledges its responsibility for its involvement in three centuries of the slave trade. The City Council has made an unreserved apology for Liverpool's involvement and the continual effect of slavery on Liverpool's Black communities.
By the start of the 19th century, 40% of the world's trade was passing through Liverpool and the construction of major buildings reflected this wealth. In 1830, Liverpool and Manchester became the first cities to have an intercity rail link, through the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
During the Irish potato famine in 1847 the Catholic population of Liverpool increased dramatically. About half a million Irish, who were predominantly Catholic, fled to England to escape the famine; many embarked from Liverpool to travel to America while others remained in city.
By 1851, approximately 25% of the city's population was Irish-born. During the first part of the 20th century, Liverpool was drawing immigrants from across Europe.
During the Famine approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the country's population to fall by between 20% and 25%. The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight. Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland — where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food—was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
The Liverpool Blitz was the heavy and sustained bombing of the city of Liverpool and its surrounding area, in the United Kingdom, during the Second World War by the German Luftwaffe Liverpool, Bootle and Wirral were the most heavily bombed areas of the country outside London , due to their importance to the British war effort. The government was desperate to hide from the Germans just how much damage they had wreaked on the ports and so reports on the bombing of the area were kept low-key. Over 4,000 residents lost their lives during the blitz, dwarfing the number of casualties sustained in other bombed industrial areas such as Birmingham, Coventry and Hull. This death toll was second only to London, which suffered 30,000 deaths by the end of the war. Liverpool, Bootle and the Wallasey Pool were strategically very important locations during the Second World War. The large port on the River Mersey, on the North West coast of England, had for many years been the United Kingdom's main link with USA destinations and this would prove to be a key part in the British participation in the Battle of the Atlantic. As well as providing anchorage for naval ships from many nations, the Mersey's ports and dockers would handle over 90% of all the war material brought into Britain from abroad, with some 75 million tons passing through its 11 miles (18 km) of quays. Liverpool was the eastern end of a Transatlantic chain of supplies from North America, without which Britain could not have pursued the war.
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May Allah bless Liverpool and our People. Ameen.
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