1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Liverpool
LIVERPOOL, a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, and seaport of Lancashire, England, 201 m. N.W. of London by rail, situated on the right bank of the estuary of the Mersey, the centre of the city being about 3 m. from the open sea. The form of the city is that of an irregular semicircle, having the base line formed by the docks and quays extending about 9 m. along the east bank of the estuary, which here runs nearly north and south, and varies in breadth from 1 to 2 m. On the north the city is partly bounded by the borough of Bootle, along the shore of which the line of docks is continued. The area of the city is 16,619 acres exclusive of water area. The population at the census of 1901 was 684,958; the estimated population in 1908 was 753,203; the birth-rate for 1907 was 31.7 and the death-rate 18.3; in 1908 the rateable value was £4,679,520.
The city lies on a continuous slope varying in gradient, but in some districts very steep. Exposed to the western sea breezes, with a dry subsoil and excellent natural drainage, the site is naturally healthy. The old borough, lying between the pool, now completely obliterated, and the river, was a conglomeration of narrow alleys without any regard to sanitary provisions; and during the 16th and 17th centuries it was several times visited by plague. When the town expanded beyond its original limits, and spread up the slopes beyond the pool, a better state of things began to exist. The older parts of the town have at successive periods been entirely taken down and renovated. The commercial part of the city is remarkable for the number of palatial piles of offices, built chiefly of stone, among which the banks and insurance offices stand pre-eminent. The demand for cottages about the beginning of the 19th century led to the construction of what are called “courts,” being narrow culs de sac, close packed, with no through ventilation. This resulted in a high rate of mortality, to contend with which enormous sums have been expended in sanitary reforms of various kinds. The more modern cottages and blocks of artisan dwellings have tended to reduce the rate of mortality.
Parks.—The earliest public park, the Prince’s Park, was laid out in 1843 by private enterprise, and is owned by trustees, but the reversion has been acquired by the corporation. Sefton Park, the most extensive, containing 269 acres, was opened in 1872. A large portion of the land round the margin has been leased for the erection of villas. Wavertree, Newsham, Sheil and Stanley Parks have also been constructed at the public expense. Connected with Wavertree Park are the botanic gardens. A palm house in Sefton Park was opened in 1896 and a conservatory in Stanley Park in 1900. Since 1882 several of the city churchyards and burial grounds and many open spaces have been laid out as gardens and recreation grounds. A playground containing 108 acres in Wavertree was presented to the city in 1895 by an anonymous donor, and in 1902 the grounds of a private residence outside the city boundaries containing 94 acres were acquired and are now known as Calderstones Park. In 1906 about 100 acres of land in Roby, also outside the boundaries, was presented to the city. The total area of the parks and gardens of the city, not including the two last named, is 8811 acres. A boulevard about 1 m. in length, planted with trees in the centre, leads to the entrance of Prince’s Park.
Public Buildings.—Scarcely any of the public buildings date from an earlier period than the 19th century. One of the earliest, and in many respects the most interesting, is the town-hall in Castle Street. This was erected from the designs of John Wood of Bath, and was opened in 1754. The building has since undergone considerable alterations and extensions, but the main features remain. It is a rectangular stone building in the Corinthian style, with an advanced portico added to the original building in 1811, and crowned with a lofty dome surmounted by a seated statue of Britannia, added in 1802. The interior was destroyed by fire in 1795, and was entirely remodelled in the restoration. In 1900 considerable alterations in the internal structure were made, and the council chamber extended so as to afford accommodation for the enlarged council. It contains a splendid suite of apartments, including a ball-room approached by a noble staircase. The building is occupied by the mayor as the municipal mansion house. A range of municipal offices was erected in Dale Street in 1860. The building is in the Palladian style, with a dominating tower and square pyramidal spire.
The crowning architectural feature of Liverpool is St George’s Hall, completed in 1854. The original intention was to erect a hall suited for the triennial music festivals which had been held in the town. About the same time the corporation proposed to erect law-courts for the assizes, which had been transferred to Liverpool and Manchester. In the competitive designs, the first prize was gained in both cases by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes. He was employed to combine the two objects in a new design, of which the present building is the outcome. It is fortunate in its situation, occupying the most central position in the town, and surrounded by an area sufficiently extensive to exhibit its proportions, an advantage which was accentuated in 1898 by the removal of St John’s church, which previously prevented an uninterrupted view of the west side. The plan is simple. The centre is occupied by the great hall, 169 ft. in length, and, with the galleries, 87 ft. wide and 74 ft. high, covered with a solid vault in masonry. Attached to each end, and opening therefrom, are the law-courts. A corridor runs round the hall and the courts, communicating with the various accessory rooms. Externally the east front is faced with a fine portico of sixteen Corinthian columns about 60 ft. in height. An advanced portico of similar columns fronts the south end crowned with a pediment filled with sculpture. The style is Roman, but the refinement of the details is suggestive of the best period of Grecian art. The great hall is finished with polished granite columns, marble balustrades and pavements, polished brass doors with foliated tracery. The fine organ was built by Messrs Willis of London, from the specification of Dr Samuel Wesley. Elmes having died in 1847 during the progress of the work, the building was completed by C. R. Cockerell, R.A.
Next to the public buildings belonging to the city, the most important is the exchange, forming three sides of a quadrangle on the north side of the town-hall. The town-hall was originally built to combine a mercantile exchange with municipal offices, but the merchants preferred to meet in the open street adjoining. This, with other circumstances, led to the erection of a new exchange, a building of considerable merit, which was begun in 1803 and opened in 1808. It had scarcely been in use for more than fifty years when it was found that the wants of commerce had outstripped the accommodation, and the structure was taken down to make room for the present building.
The revenue buildings, begun in 1828 on the site of the original Liverpool dock, formerly combined the customs, inland revenue, post-office and dock board departments but are now only used by the two first named. It is a heavy structure, with three advanced porticoes in the Ilyssus Ionic style. Near by stands the sailors’ home, a large building in the Elizabethan style. The Philharmonic Hall in Hope Street, with not much pretension externally, is one of the finest music rooms in the kingdom; it accommodates an audience of about 2500.
The group of buildings forming the county sessions house, the free public library, museum, central technical school and gallery of art are finely situated on the slope to the north of St George’s Hall. The library and gallery of art are separate buildings, connected by the circular reading-room in the middle. The latter possesses some features in construction worthy of note, having a circular floor 100 ft. in diameter without columns or any intermediate support, and a lecture-room underneath, amphitheatrical in form, with grades or benches hewn out of the solid rock. In 1884 the county sessions house just mentioned, adjoining the art gallery was opened for public business. In 1899 new post-office buildings in Victoria Street were completed. In 1907 two important additions were made to the buildings of Liverpool, the new offices of the dock board, built on the site of a portion of the Old George’s dock, and the new cotton exchange in Oldhall street. The fine mass of buildings which constitute the university and the Royal Infirmary, lying between Brownlow Hill and Pembroke Place, both groups designed by Alfred Waterhouse, was begun in 1885.
Liverpool cathedral, intended when completed to be the largest in the country, from designs by G. F. Bodley and G. Gilbert Scott, was begun in 1904, when the foundation stone was laid by King Edward VII. The foundations were completed in 1906 and the superstructure begun. The foundation of the chapter-house was laid in that year by the duke of Connaught, and work was then begun on the Lady chapel, the vestries and the choir.
Railways.—There are three terminal passenger stations in Liverpool, the London & North Western at Lime Street, the Lancashire & Yorkshire at Exchange and the combined station of the Midland, Great Northern & Great Central at Central. By the Mersey tunnel (opened in 1886) connexion is made with the Wirral railway, the Great Central, the Great Western and the London & North Western, on the Cheshire side of the river. The Liverpool electric overhead railway running along the line of docks from Seaforth to Dingle was opened in 1893, and in 1905 a junction was made with the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway by which through passenger traffic between Southport and the Dingle has been established. In 1895 the Riverside station at the Prince’s dock was completed, giving direct access from the landing stage to the London and North Western system.
Water Supply.—The original supply of water was from wells in the sandstone rock, but in 1847 an act was passed, under which extensive works were constructed at Rivington, about 25 m. distant, and a much larger supply was obtained. The vast increase of population led to further requirements, and in 1880 another act gave power to impound the waters of the Vyrnwy, one of the affluents of the Severn. These works were completed in 1892, a temporary supply having been obtained a year earlier. The corporation had also, however, obtained power to impound the waters of the Conwy and Marchnant rivers, and to bring them into Lake Vyrnwy, the main reservoir, by means of tunnels. This work was completed and opened by the prince of Wales (George V.) in March 1910.
Tramways.—The corporation in 1896 purchased the property, rights, powers and privileges of the Liverpool Electric Supply Company, and in the following year the undertaking of the Liverpool Tramway Company, which they formally took over in the autumn of the same year. Since that date a large and extended system of electric tramways has been laid down, which has led to a very remarkable increase in the receipts and the number of passengers carried.
Administration of Justice.—The city has quarter-sessions for criminal cases, presided over by the recorder, and held eight times in the year. At least two police courts sit daily, and more if required. One is presided over by the stipendiary magistrate and the others by the lay magistrates and the coroner. The court of passage is a very ancient institution, possibly dating from the foundation of the borough by King John, and intended for cases arising out of the imports and exports passing through the town. Its jurisdiction has been confirmed and settled by parliament and it is competent to try civil cases arising within the city to any amount. The mayor is ex-officio the judge, but the presiding judge is an assessor appointed by the crown and paid by the corporation. The court sits about five times a year. There is a Liverpool district registry of the chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster which has concurrent jurisdiction with the high court (chancery division) within the hundred of West Derby. The vice-chancellor holds sittings in Liverpool. There is a Liverpool district registry of the high court of justice with common law, chancery, probate and admiralty jurisdiction, under two district registrars. The Liverpool county court has the usual limited jurisdiction over a wide local area, together with bankruptcy jurisdiction over the county court districts of St Helens, Widnes, Ormskirk and Southport, and admiralty jurisdiction over the same districts with the addition of Birkenhead, Chester, Runcorn and Warrington. There are two judges attached to the court.
Ecclesiastical.—The see of Liverpool was created in 1880 under the act of 1879, by the authority of the ecclesiastical commissioners, an endowment fund of about £100,000 having been subscribed for the purpose. The parish, which was separated from Walton-on-the-Hill in 1699, contained two churches, St Nicholas, the ancient chapel, and St Peter’s, then built. There were two rectors, the living being held in medieties. Of recent years changes have been sanctioned by parliament. The living is now held by a single incumbent, and a large number of the churches which have since been built have been formed into parishes by the ecclesiastical commissioners. St Peter’s has been constituted the pro-cathedral, pending the erection of the cathedral. Besides the two original parish churches, there are 103 others belonging to the establishment. The Roman Catholics form a very numerous and powerful body in the city, and it is estimated that from a third to a fourth of the entire population are Roman Catholics. A large part of these are Irish settlers or their descendants, but this district of Lancashire has always been a stronghold of Roman Catholicism, many of the landed gentry belonging to old Roman Catholic families.
Charities.—The earliest charitable foundation is the Blue Coat hospital, established in 1708, for orphans and fatherless children born within the borough. The original building, opened in 1718, is a quaint and characteristic specimen of the architecture of the period. It now maintains two hundred and fifty boys and one hundred girls. In 1906 the school was removed to new buildings at Wavertree. There is an orphan asylum, established in 1840, for boys, girls and infants, and a seamen’s orphan asylum, begun in 1869, for boys and girls. The Roman Catholics have similar establishments. The Liverpool dispensaries founded in 1778 were among the pioneers of medical charity. The Royal Infirmary (opened in 1749) had a school of medicine attached, which has been very successful, and is now merged in the university. The sailors’ home, opened in 1852, designed to provide board, lodging and medical attendance at a moderate charge for the seamen frequenting the port, is one of Liverpool’s best-known charities. The David Lewis Workmen’s Hostel is an effort to solve the difficulty of providing accommodation for unmarried men of the artizan class.
Literature, Art and Science.—The free library, museum and gallery of arts, established and managed by the city council, was originated in 1850. The first library building was erected by Sir William Brown. The Derby museum, containing the collections of Edward, the 13th earl, was presented by his son. The Mayer museum of historical antiquities and art was contributed by Mr Joseph Mayer, F.S.A. Sir Andrew Walker (d. 1893) erected in 1877 the art gallery which bears his name. Large additions were made in 1884, the cost being again defrayed by Sir Andrew Walker. An annual exhibition of painting is held in the autumn and a permanent collection has been formed, which was augmented in 1894 when the examples of early Italian art numbering altogether about 180 pictures, collected at the beginning of the 19th century by William Roscoe, were deposited in the gallery. The Picton circular reading-room, and the rotunda lecture-room were built by the corporation and opened in 1879. Alterations in the museum were completed in 1902 by which its size was practically doubled. The literary and philosophical society was established in 1812. The Royal Institution, established mainly through the efforts of Roscoe in 1817, possessed a fine gallery of early art in the Walker Art Gallery, and is the centre of the literary institutions of the town.
Education.—Sunday schools were founded for poor children in 1784, as the result of a town’s meeting. These were soon followed by day-schools supplied by the various denominations. The first were the Old Church schools in Moorfields (1789), the Unitarian schools in Mount Pleasant (1790) and Manesty Lane (1792) and the Wesleyan Brunswick school (1790). In 1826 the corporation founded two elementary schools, one of which, the North Corporation school, was erected in part substitution for the grammar school founded by John Crosse, rector of St Nicholas Fleshshambles, London, a native of Liverpool, in 1515, and carried on by the Corporation until 1815. From this date onward the number rapidly increased until the beginning of the School Board in 1870, and afterwards. Mention should be made of the training ship “Indefatigable” moored in the Mersey for the sons and orphans of sailors, and the reformatory institution at Heswall, Co. Chester, which has recently replaced the training ship “Akbar” formerly moored in the Mersey. Semi-private schools were founded by public subscription—the Royal Institution school (1819), the Liverpool Institute (1825) and the Liverpool College (1840). The first has ceased to exist. The Institute was a development of the Mechanics’ Institute and was managed by a council of subscribers. It was divided into a high school and a commercial school. Under a scheme of the Board of Education under the Charitable Trusts Act this school, together with the Blackburne House high school for girls, became a public secondary school and was handed over to the corporation in 1905. Liverpool College was formerly divided into three schools, upper, middle and lower, for different classes of the community. The middle and lower schools passed into the control of the corporation in 1907. The Sefton Park elementary school and the Pupil Teachers’ College in Clarence Street were transformed into municipal secondary schools for boys and girls in 1907; the corporation has also a secondary school for girls at Aigburth. There are several schools maintained by the Roman Catholics, two schools of the Girls’ Public Day School Company and a large number of private schools. A cadet ship, the “Conway,” for the training of boys intending to become officers in the mercantile marine, is moored in the Mersey. There are two training colleges for women, one undenominational, and the other conducted by the sisters of Notre Dame for Roman Catholic women. The central municipal technical school is in the Museum Buildings, and there are three branch technical schools. There are also a nautical college, a school of cookery and a school of art controlled by the Education Committee.
Liverpool University, as University College, received its charter of incorporation in 1881, and in 1884 was admitted as a college of the Victoria University. In the same year the medical school of the Royal Infirmary became part of the University College. In 1900 a supplemental charter extended the powers of self-government and brought the college into closer relations with the authorities of the city and with local institutions by providing for their fuller representation on the court of governors. In 1903 the charter of incorporation of the university of Liverpool was received, thus constituting it an independent university. The university is governed by the king as visitor, by a chancellor, two pro-chancellors, a vice-chancellor and a treasurer, by a court of over 300 members representing donors and public bodies, a council, senate, faculties and convocation. The fine group of buildings is situated on Brownlow Hill.
Trade and Commerce.—In 1800 the tonnage of ships entering the port was 490,060; in 1908 it reached 17,111,814 tons. In 1800 4746 vessels entered, averaging 94 tons; in 1908 there were 25,739, averaging 665 tons. The commerce of Liverpool extends to every part of the world, but probably the intercourse with North America stands pre-eminent, there being lines of steamers to New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Galveston, New Orleans and the Canadian ports. Cotton is the great staple import. Grain comes next, American (North and South) and Australian wheat and oats occupying a large proportion of the market. An enormous trade in American provisions, including live cattle, is carried on. Tobacco has always been a leading article of import into Liverpool, along with the sugar and rum from the West Indies. Timber forms an important part of the imports, the stacking yards extending for miles along the northern docks. In regard to exports, Liverpool possesses decided advantages; lying so near the great manufacturing districts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, this port is the natural channel of transmission for their goods, although the Manchester ship canal diverts a certain proportion of the traffic, while coal and salt are also largely exported.
Manufactures.—The manufactures of Liverpool are not extensive. Attempts have been repeatedly made to establish cotton mills in and near the city, but have resulted in failure. Engineering works, especially connected with marine navigation, have grown up on a large scale. Shipbuilding, in the early part of the 19th century, was active and prosperous, but has practically ceased. During the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, pottery and china manufacture flourished in Liverpool. John Sadler, a Liverpool manufacturer, was the inventor of printing on pottery, and during the early period of Josiah Wedgwood’s career all his goods which required printing had to be sent to Liverpool. A large establishment, called the Herculaneum Pottery, was founded in a suburb on the bank of the Mersey, but the trade has long disappeared. Litherland, the inventor of the lever watch, was a Liverpool manufacturer, and Liverpool-made watches have always been held in high estimation. There are several extensive sugar refineries and corn mills. The confectionery trade has developed during recent years, several large works having been built, induced by the prospect of obtaining cheap sugar directly from the Liverpool quays. The cutting, blending and preparing of crude tobacco have led to the erection of factories employing some thousands of hands. There are also large mills for oil-pressing and making cattle-cake.
Docks.—The docks of the port of Liverpool on both sides of the Mersey are owned and managed by the same public trust, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. On the Liverpool side they extend along the margin of the estuary 61 m., of which 11 m. is in the borough of Bootle. The Birkenhead docks have not such a frontage, but they extend a long way backward. The water area of the Liverpool docks and basins is 418 acres, with a lineal quayage of 27 m. The Birkenhead docks, including the great float of 120 acres, contain a water area of 165 acres, with a lineal quayage of 91 m. The system of enclosed docks was begun by the corporation in 1709. They constituted from the first a public trust, the corporation never having derived any direct revenue from them, though the common council of the borough were the trustees, and in the first instance formed the committee of management. Gradually the payers of dock rates on ships and goods acquired influence, and were introduced into the governing body, and ultimately, by an act of 1857, the corporation was superseded. The management is vested in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, consisting of twenty-eight members, four of whom are nominated by the Mersey Conservancy commissioners, who consist of the first lord of the Admiralty, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and the president of the Board of Trade, and the rest elected by the payers of rates on ships and goods, of whom a register is kept and annually revised. The revenue is derived from tonnage rates on ships, dock rates on goods, town dues on goods, with various minor sources of income.
Down to 1843 the docks were confined to the Liverpool side of the Mersey. Several attempts made to establish docks in Cheshire had been frustrated by the Liverpool corporation, who bought up the land and kept it in their own hands. In 1843, however, a scheme for docks in Birkenhead was carried through which ultimately proved unsuccessful, and the enterprise was acquired in 1855 by Liverpool. The Birkenhead docks were for many years only partially used, but are now an important centre for corn-milling, the importation of foreign cattle and export trade to the East. In addition to the wet docks, there are in Liverpool fourteen graving docks and three in Birkenhead, besides a gridiron on the Liverpool side.
The first portion of the great landing stage, known as the Georges’ stage, was constructed in 1847, from the plans of Mr (afterwards Sir) William Cubitt, F.R.S. This was 500 ft. long. In 1857 the Prince’s stage, 1000 ft. long, was built to the north of the Georges’ stage and distant from it 500 ft. In 1874 the intervening space was filled up and the Georges’ stage reconstructed. The fabric had just been completed, and was waiting to be inaugurated, when on the 28th of July 1874 it was destroyed by fire. It was again constructed with improvements. In 1896 it was farther extended to the north, and its length is now 2478 ft. and its breadth 80 ft. It is supported on floating pontoons about 200 in number, connected with the river wall by eight bridges, besides a floating bridge for heavy traffic 550 ft. in length and 35 ft. in width. The southern half is devoted to the traffic of the Mersey ferries, of which there are seven—New Brighton, Egremont, Seacombe, Birkenhead, Rock Ferry, New Ferry and Eastham. The northern half is used by ocean-going steamers and their tenders. The warehouses for storing produce form a prominent feature in the commercial part of the city. Down to 1841 these were entirely in private hands, distributed as chance might direct, but in that year a determined effort was made to construct docks with warehouses on the margin of the quays. This met with considerable opposition from those interested, and led to a municipal revolution, but the project was ultimately carried out in the construction of the Albert dock and warehouses, which were opened by Prince Albert in 1845. For general produce these warehouses are falling somewhat into disuse, but grain warehouses have been constructed by the dock board at Liverpool and Birkenhead, with machinery for discharging, elevating, distributing, drying and delivering. Warehouses for the storage of tobacco and wool have also been built by the board. The Stanley tobacco warehouse is the largest of its kind in the world, the area of its fourteen floors being some 36 acres.
Dredging operations at the bar of the Queen’s channel, in the channel itself and at the landing stage enables the largest ocean liners to enter the river and approach the stage at practically all states of the tide. The dredging at the bar was begun as an experiment in September 1890 by two of the board’s ordinary hopper barges of 500 tons capacity each fitted with centrifugal pumps. The result was favourable, and larger vessels have been introduced. Before dredging was begun the depth of water at dead low water of spring tides on the bar was only 11 ft.; now there is about 28 ft. under the same conditions. The space over which dredging has been carried on at the bar measures about 7000 ft. by 1250 ft., the latter being the average width of the buoyed cut or channel through the bar. Dredging has also taken place on shoals and projections of sand-banks in the main sea channels.
Municipality.—Under the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the boundaries of the original borough were extended by the annexation of portions of the surrounding district, while further additions were made in 1895, 1902 and 1905. The city is divided into thirty-five wards with 103 councillors and 34 aldermen. In 1893 the title of mayor was raised to that of lord mayor. In 1885 the number of members of parliament was increased to nine by the creation of six new wards. The corporation of Liverpool has possessed from a very early period considerable landed property, the first grant having been made by Thomas, earl of Lancaster, in 1309. This land was originally of value only as a source of supply of turf for firing, but in modern times its capacity as building land has been a fruitful source of profit to the town. A large proportion of the southern district is held in freehold by the corporation and leased to tenants for terms of seventy-five years, renewable from time to time on a fixed scale of fines. There was formerly another source of income now cut off. The fee farm rents and town dues originally belonging to the crown were purchased from the Molyneux family in 1672 on a long lease, and subsequently in 1777 converted into a perpetuity. With the growth of the commerce of the port these dues enormously increased, and became a cause of great complaint by the shipping interest. In 1856 a bill was introduced into parliament, and passed, by which the town dues were transferred to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board on payment of £1,500,000, which was applied in part to the liquidation of the bonded debt of the corporation, amounting to £1,150,000.
History.—During the Norse irruption of the 8th century colonies of Norsemen settled on both sides of the Mersey, as is indicated by some of the place-names. After the Conquest, the site of Liverpool formed part of the fief (inter Ripam et Mersham) granted by the Conqueror to Roger de Poictou, one of the great family of Montgomery. Although Liverpool is not named in Domesday it is believed to have been one of the six berewicks dependent on the manor of West Derby therein mentioned. After various forfeitures and regrants from the crown, it was handed over by Henry II. to his falconer Warine. In a deed executed by King John, then earl of Mortain, about 1191, confirming the grant of this with other manors to Henry Fitzwarine, son of the former grantee, the name of Liverpool first occurs. Probably its most plausible derivation is from the Norse Hlithar-pollr, “the pool of the slopes,” the pool or inlet at the mouth of which the village grew up being surrounded by gently rising slopes. Another possible derivation is from the Prov. E. lever, the yellow flag or rush, A.S. laefer.
After the partial conquest of Ireland by Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, under Henry II., the principal ports of communication were Bristol for the south and Chester for the north. The gradual silting up of the river Dee soon so obstructed the navigation as to render Chester unsuitable. A quay was then constructed at Shotwick, about 8 m. below Chester, with a castle to protect it from the incursions of the neighbouring Welsh; but a better site was sought and soon found. Into the tidal waters of the Mersey a small stream, fed by a peat moss on the elevated land to the eastward, ran from north-east to south-west, forming at its mouth an open pool or sea lake, of which many existed on both sides of the river. The triangular piece of land thus separated formed a promontory of red sandstone rock, rising in the centre about 50 ft. above the sea-level, sloping on three sides to the water. The pool was admirably adapted as a harbour for the vessels of that period, being well protected, and the tide rising from 15 to 21 ft. King John repurchased the manor from Henry Fitzwarine, giving him other lands in exchange. Here he founded a borough, and by letters patent dated at Winchester, 28th of August 1207, invited his subjects to take up burgages.
From the patent rolls and the sheriff’s accounts it appears that considerable use was made of Liverpool in the 13th century for shipping stores and reinforcements to Ireland and Wales.
In 1229 a charter was granted by Henry III., authorizing the formation of a merchants’ gild, with hanse and other liberties and free customs, with freedom from toll throughout the kingdom. Charters were subsequently granted by successive monarchs down to the reign of William and Mary, which last was the governing charter to the date of the Municipal Reform Act (1835). In 1880 when the diocese of Liverpool was created, the borough was transformed into a city by royal charter.
The crown revenues from the burgage rents and the royal customs were leased in fee-farm from time to time, sometimes to the corporation, at other times to private persons. The first lease was from Henry III., in 1229, at £10 per annum. In the same year the borough, with all its appurtenances, was bestowed with other lands on Ranulf, earl of Chester, from whom it passed to his brother-in-law William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, who seems to have built Liverpool castle between 1232 and 1237. His grandson, Robert de Ferrers, was implicated in the rising of Simon de Montfort and his lands were confiscated in 1266 when Liverpool passed into the hands of Edmund, earl of Lancaster. Ultimately Liverpool again became the property of the crown, when Henry IV. inherited it from his father John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. In 1628 Charles I., in great straits for means which were refused by parliament, offered for sale about a thousand manors, among which Liverpool was included. The portion containing Liverpool was purchased by certain merchants of London, who, in 1635, reconveyed the crown rights, including the fee-farm rent of £14, 6s. 8d., to Sir Richard Molyneux, then recently created Viscount Molyneux of Maryborough, for the sum of £450. In 1672 all these rights and interests were acquired by the corporation.
Apart from the national objects for which Liverpool was founded, its trade developed slowly. From £10 per annum, in the beginning of the 13th century, the crown revenues had increased towards the end of the 14th century, to £38; but then they underwent a decline. The black death passed over Liverpool about 1360, and carried off a large part of the population. The Wars of the Roses in the 15th century unsettled the north-western districts and retarded progress for at least a century. The crown revenues diminished from £38 to less than half that sum, and were finally leased at £14, 6s. 8d., at which they continued until the sale by Charles I. It is, however, not safe to conclude that the reduced fee-farm rent represents an equivalent decline in prosperity; the privileges conferred by the various leases differed widely and may account for much of the apparent discrepancy.
Liverpool sent no representatives to Simon de Montfort’s parliament in 1264, but to the first royal parliament, summoned in 1295, the borough sent two members, and again in 1307. The writs of summons were then suspended for two centuries and a half. In 1547 Liverpool resumed the privilege of returning members. In 1588 the borough was represented by Francis Bacon, the philosopher and statesman. During the Civil War the town was fortified and garrisoned by the parliament. It sustained three sieges, and in 1644 was escaladed and taken by Prince Rupert with considerable slaughter.
The true rise of the commerce of Liverpool dates from the Restoration. Down to that period its population had been either stationary or retrogressive, probably never exceeding about 1000. Its trade was chiefly with Ireland, France and Spain, exporting fish and wool to the continent, and importing wines, iron and other commodities. The rise of the manufacturing industry of south Lancashire, and the opening of the American and West Indian trade, gave the first impulse to the progress which has since continued. By the end of the century the population had increased to 5000. In 1699 the borough was constituted a parish distinct from Walton, to which it had previously appertained. In 1709, the small existing harbour being found insufficient to accommodate the shipping, several schemes were propounded for its enlargement, which resulted in the construction of a wet dock closed with flood-gates impounding the water, so as to keep the vessels floating during the recess of the tide. This dock was the first of its kind. The name of the engineer was Thomas Steers.
About this date the merchants of Liverpool entered upon the slave trade, into which they were led by their connexion with the West Indies. In 1709 a single vessel of 30 tons burden made a venture from Liverpool and carried fifteen slaves across the Atlantic. In 1730, encouraged by parliament, Liverpool went heartily into the new trade. In 1751, fifty-three ships sailed from Liverpool for Africa, of 5334 tons in the aggregate. The ships sailed first to the west coast of Africa, where they shipped the slaves, and thence to the West India Islands, where the slaves were sold and the proceeds brought home in cargoes of sugar and rum. In 1765 the number of Liverpool slavers had increased to eighty-six, carrying 24,200 slaves. By the end of the century five-sixths of the African trade centred in Liverpool. Just before its abolition in 1807 the number of Liverpool ships engaged in the traffic was 185, carrying 49,213 slaves in the year.
Another branch of maritime enterprise which attracted the attention of the merchants of Liverpool was privateering, which, during the latter half of the 18th century, was a favourite investment. After the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War with France and Spain, in 1756, the commerce of Liverpool suffered severely, the French having overrun the narrow seas with privateers, and the premiums for insurance against sea risks rose to an amount almost prohibitive. The Liverpool merchants took a lesson from the enemy, and armed and sent out their ships as privateers. Some of the early expeditions proving very successful, almost the whole community rushed into privateering, with results of a very chequered character. When the War of Independence broke out in 1775 American privateers swarmed about the West India Islands, and crossing the Atlantic intercepted British commerce in the narrow seas. The Liverpool merchants again turned their attention to retaliation. Between August 1778 and April 1779, 120 privateers were fitted out in Liverpool, carrying 1986 guns and 8745 men.
See W. Enfield, Hist. of Leverpool (1773); J. Aikin, Forty Miles round Manchester (1795); T. Troughton, Hist. of Liverpool (1810); M. Gregson, Portfolio of Fragments relating to Hist. of Lancashire (1817); H. Smithers, Liverpool, its Commerce, &c. (1825); R. Syers, Hist. of Everton (1830); E. Baines, Hist. of County Palatine of Lancaster, vol. iv. (1836); T. Baines, Hist. of Commerce and Town of Liverpool (1852); R. Brooke, Liverpool during the last quarter of 18th Century (1853); J. A. Picton, Memorials of Liverpool (2 vols., 1873); Ramsay Muir and Edith M. Platt, A History of Municipal Government in Liverpool (1906); Ramsay Muir, A History of Liverpool (1907). (W. F. I.)