Spotlight on . . .
WAVERTREE & SLAVERY
by Mike Chitty
Last year a searchable database was made available by University College London - at www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs - listing all of those individuals who received compensation payments when slavery in the British Empire was abolished in 1833. (It was the slave owners, not the slaves, who were compensated!). Four of the individuals gave their address as 'Wavertree': Luke Thomas Crossley of Olive Mount, Peter Whitfield Brancker of Field House, Robert Semple of Richmond Lodge and James Pownall of Mayfield. The last three of these men were near-neighbours at the south end of Church Road/Cow Lane (Prince Alfred Road).
LUKE THOMAS CROSSLEY inherited property, including slaves, from his brother Benjamin Crossley of St George parish, Jamaica, in 1822. The holdings to which his compensation related included the Paradise Estate, Lennox Castle and Kendall Plantation. By 1841 he had moved from Yorkshire to Olive Mount, Wavertree; the Census describes the 50-year-old Crossley as 'independent' (i.e. not working for a living). He had been in partnership with Joseph Robinson at Monkpitts Mills, Leeds, under the title Crossley, Robinson & Co. 'stuff and woollen-printers and dyers'. The Olive Mount estate was sold by auction in 1859, following the death of Crossley in 1857; though Crossley himself had been living at Hankelow Hall near Nantwich in Cheshire. Olive Mount and its grounds later became the Cottage Homes/Children's Hospital, until being redeveloped for housing in the 20th century. The only vestige surviving today is the former Manweb Playing Fields, together with the house itself (Grade II Listed) which until recently served as offices for Merseycare NHS Trust.
PETER WHITFIELD BRANCKER (1750-1836) was a Liverpool-born businessman, who had been a captain in the slave trade and then a slave-trader himself in the 1780s and 90s. He was a partner in the worsted-spinning mill at Dolphinholme near Lancaster, and his son/grandsons ran a Liverpool sugar refinery. Bennison's map of Liverpool, 1835, shows P W Brancker as the owner of Field House, Cow Lane - where his son (another Peter Whitfield Brancker) died in 1864. Brancker's compensation payment related to his slave holdings in the Kingston and St Mary's parishes of Jamaica. Field House survived until 1910, when it was demolished to make way for terraced housing off the newly-created Grant Avenue. Most of the new streets were given names ending in 'field' by way of a reminder.
ROBERT SEMPLE was a partner in the firm of Robert Semple & Co., 'West India merchants' of Berbice (part of British Guiana) and Liverpool. His compensation payment related to properties in British Guiana called Prospect, Reliance, Plantation Union and Enfield. On his marriage in 1818 he was described as 'of Demerary' (i.e. Demerara, another part of British Guiana/Guyana) but by the mid-1830s he had returned to Liverpool, his office being in Cook Street. Semple was the owner of Richmond Lodge, Cow Lane, where he remained until the mid-1840s. He died in Stafford in 1850. Richmond Lodge later became an Industrial School - the junior branch of the workhouse - for the Township of Toxteth Park (on the boundary of which it was located) until being demolished to make way for the Prince Alfred Road tramshed in the 1920s. Nowadays the Penny Lane Neighbourhood Centre occupies the site, and the Richmond Tavern commemorates the name of the long-lost house.
JAMES POWNALL, who was born in 1791, was a member of a longstanding Liverpool merchant family. His grandfather William Pownall had been Mayor of Liverpool in 1767. James Pownall's slave holdings were in St Lucia: the Canelle Estate, Micoud and Vieux Fort. Gore's Liverpool directory records him at Mayfield House, Wavertree, in 1827, and Bennison's map of the Environs of Liverpool confirms him as the owner in 1835. The building still exists: as Gladstone House, 2 Church Road (previously known as Angers House, and before that as the Windsor High School). It is the offices of HBD Accountancy Services.