Robert Griffiths’ Toxteth Park: The mystery of the Old Hall and the slave owners of Aigburth Road

The mystery of Old Hall

On reading Robert Griffiths’ history of Toxteth Park (1907), a property is mentioned that is easy to overlook, indeed I think the importance of it has been missed by all the histories of the area I have read. I have looked at older descriptions of the area, but so far have not found any that mention it (I am beginning to wonder if some of the writers had actually visited the area or instead copied other published accounts). Even if Griffiths was wrong about the date of construction (early 17th Century), the fact it appears as ‘Old Hall’ on a map from 1835 and it appears on a map from 1765 is proof of its great age. If any readers know of any old reference where the house is mentioned please let me know and I will post it here. To start to solve the mystery it is important to find out what it was called prior to ‘Old Hall’.

Old Hall, Griffiths states, was probably built in the early 1600’s and as such one of the earliest houses in Toxteth Park, so the fact it never gets mentioned seems incredible.

old hall and aigburth hall 1816On the map below from 1816 I have indicated in red what I believe to “Old Hall” further east by Aigburth Hall you can see another “Old Hall”.

Old Hall being overlooked may be partly due to another more documented property called Aigburth (Old) Hall by the grounds of Stanlawe Grange. Maybe this has caused the Old Hall to be confused and significance of the house lost. I have searched for records for descriptions of the hall and struggled to find much information. How could a house that had stood already for almost 300 years before it was demolished over 100 years ago have gone unnoticed. Modern histories, at best, mention it in passing by saying it was owned by Misses Backhouse but nothing else.

In 1907 when Griffiths wrote his history of Toxteth, he describes the already demolished Old Hall but in true Griffiths rambling style this information is split over different sections:

Opposite Lark Lane was a footpath through the fields to St. Michael’s Church, just built (the Hamlet had not then appeared). At the corner of this footpath stood ST. MICHAEL’S OLD HALL, built, probably, early in the seventeenth century. The occupier of this house was exempt from paying tollage at the Otterspool toll-bar. Near the Old Hall stood Mr. Neilson’s house, then came Mr. Hughes’ house; after that “Dingle Cottage,” now Ivy House, then “Fulwood Lodge” and the “Three Sixes.”

…St. Michael’s Old Hall, which was in the possession of the Misses Backhouse, which stood on the opposite corner, has now disappeared to make room for the present shops.

…the only people exempt from paying toll (Otterspool toll Gate and Bar) were the occupiers of the Three Sixes and the Backhouse family, who lived in a house even older than the Three Sixes. (so called as it was built in 1666, GH)

Robert Griffiths, The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth

1765 map cropped
1765 Map, greatly enlarged from Robert Griffiths book. Old Hall is clearly shown between the land Barn Hey and Meadow in the top middle area of the map.
Not many neighbours at this point in history.

Prince's Park Appraisal final illustrated version with cover
The Sheriff’s map of 1816. This shows the house of Mr Neilson referred to by Griffiths –
but not Old Hall

Jonathon Bennison 1835 old hall
Jonathan Bennison Map 1835, courtesy of Liverpool Record Office. Old Hall now owned by Misses Backhouse

1845 old hallThe Tithe Award map of 1845, courtesy of Liverpool Record Office

Old hall 2014The site of Old Hall in October 2104, to the right and below is St Michael’s Hall, looking much older but built only in 1887 close to the time as the terraced housing and shops were erected.
Until recently this was home to The Living Word Bible Church.

St Michaels hall 2014
st michaels temporaty school 1888St Michael’s Hall was used as a temporary school in 1888 before the building in Neilson Road (now replaced). Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive ©.

1893 assembly roooms1897 and Old Hall has been demolished and replaced with the current buildings. Glen Huntly and Barn Hey await the same fate.

The Old Hall

To find any information on the Old Hall I had to locate it first and as I am an amateur with hardly any decent quality maps available online, this would mean trips to Liverpool’s Central Library to photograph their old maps. I suspected Griffiths had made an error but I had to be sure.

“Near the Old Hall stood Mr. Neilson’s house”

Griffiths locates Mr Neilson’s house being near Old Hall walking east after Parkfield and opposite Lark Lane. He probably took this information from the 1816 Sheriff’s map (see above) as he also mentions Dingle Cottage, the earlier name for Ivy House. The 1845 Tithe Award Map and the Ordnance Survey Map of 1846 show no house between the Old Hall and Ivy Cottage/Dingle Cottage (there is a very small building next to it but this is probably a stable or suchlike), this leads me to believe that Mr Neilson’s house and the Old Hall may have been the same building.

To the west of the Old Hall ran Dickenson’s Dingle, the path of this dried up stream became Neilson Road.  As we know Old Hall was later owned by Misses Backhouse I looked for a connection between the two Neilson and Backhouse:

In the records for Marriages at St Mary in the District of Walton on the Hill, Liverpool on 29 May 1798 William Neilson, Esq – Liverpool married Fanny Backhouse –
(This brings together the names Neilson and Backhouse.)

Jane Backhouse died there aged 69 in 1846. She was buried by The Reverand William Hesketh. The Backhouse’s lived at the Old Hall until 1857 (see sale advertisement below), 

Hesketh married Lucy Hannah Satterthwaite, (born 6th July, 1800) at St. Michael’s, Toxteth on 9th April, 1822. In 1824 Lucy is recorded as running a Ladies Boarding School at St Michael’s Old Hall (Her mother Ann and Sister Alice ran another at Upper Stanhope Street).
(This brings together the names Neilson, Backhouse, Hesketh and Satterthwaite, all at the Old Hall.)

Old Hall Mercury 1857

Liverpool Mercury 1857, Sale of the Old Hall Estate on the death of Miss Backhouse. Including nine other plots of land, each commands beautiful views of the river, …a portion of the dell which runs through the property.
The dell referred to is Dickenson’s Dingle that is detailed on another post:
Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive ©.

Update January 2015 and December 2015: Watercolour of The Old Hall Found!

I am indebted to Daz W, who has found a watercolour of The Old Hall, Daz has also given some details about the architectural features of the house that confirms Robert Griffiths’ dating of the hall as being older than the Three Sixes house (built in 1666), thanks to Daz we can now appreciate the size and grandeur of the Hall and also wonder why a property of such age, size and history should of been ignored.

“The painting’s from the Liverpool Record Office, part of the new Central Library. I think it was part of their “Watercolour and Print Collection”. I was looking for paintings of Aigburth Road at the time, which are cataloged in a A4 folder. Dating the Old Hall itself: it has stone hood mouldings over the window head – a rain-drip feature over the window head, used from the late 16th century to the 17th century. The middle section of the hall looks older, as the windows are smaller. The hall has an open veranda on the back. I suspect the view of Dickenson’s Dingle from it would have been picturesque in its day. I’m also curious why some of the chimney stacks appear to be in metal? The stack on the building next door could even be a bell. It is also topped with a weather vane.”

old hall 2

old hall 2 cropped
H. Magenis, 1886 “The Old Hall, Aigburth” Courtesy Liverpool Record Office.

On further trips to the Liverpool Record Office archives, Daz was able to find another:
“I also found another painting dated 1880, six years earlier, from the same vantage point, but a more amateur attempt”

Old hall
Painted by R. M. “The Old Hall, Aigburth” Courtesy Liverpool Record Office

So who were William Neilson and Daniel Backhouse?

Amongst other areas of business, Neilson and Backhouse were both involved with the Slave trade. Robert Griffiths’ in his history of Toxteth Park (1907) doesn’t mention slavery, even though quite a few of the people he mentions were involved in it in one way or other. A great portion of the book is dedicated to the The Dingle and also two of it’s most acclaimed residents, Cropper and Roscoe. Although these men are often mentioned, he neglects to say one of the reasons for their fame; as abolitionists of slavery in a city that had grown on the back of it.

But whereas the men of the Dingle took the moral highground, just a short walk away, the attitudes of some men like the Aigburth Road itself, went down hill.

“Around 1823 they (The Croppers) managed to secure the lease of the Dingle Bank estate from the Yates family and proceeded to build three houses, one for themselves and one each for their sons, Edward and John. The site was of outstanding natural beauty. It is about two miles south of Liverpool and encompassed an area of about thirty acres. The land sloped down to the River Mersey, looking south away from the docks up the River where it broadened out into a great lake with shining islands of sand at low tide. The magnificent views of the Welsh hills and Beeston Castle were also obtainable. The position of the estate was the subject of much envy and as one tenant reminisced it was “like living in the country and at a very interesting seaside place at the time, with the shipping and yacht racing and yet within a couple of miles of the centre of a huge town.”

“…The Cropper family’s social conscience ran into the world of politics too, in particular their campaign against slavery. James Cropper, for example, made up parcels of sugar and coffee from the East Indies and sent them to every MP to show that slave labour was not essential to their cultivation. The crockery used in the Cropper household constantly reminded the family of the evils of slave labour by bearing the picture of a slave in irons and around him the mottoes, “Alas my poor brother” and “Am I not a man and brother”. They rallied around them the supporters of the anti-slavery movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” visited Dingle Bank on her tour of England. she was overwhelmed by the welcome she received there and from other dignitaries of Liverpool. she found the beauty of Dingle Bank captivating, “the green of the turf on April 10th dazzled her and the lawns were enclosed by banks of washed gravel to an ivied porch, where deft servants took charge of the visitors, leading Harriet to the most delightful bedchamber she had ever seen.”

Am I not a man and brother” Josiah Wedgwood pendant 1787.

As with a lot of rich merchants of the time, trying to understand their lives and trades can be complicated and contradictory but after researching several of Liverpool’s rich from the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, I have come to treat the term “Merchant” with suspicion. A perfect example of this contradiction is John Moss of Otterspool: slave owner, railway pioneer but also builder of St Anne’s Church.

Whether involved directly as plantation owners or ship owners or in less direct means like the factory owners, Liverpool like London and Bristol profitted greatly. Aigburth was not the only area of Liverpool where slave-ship and plantation owners lived of course but Neilson, Backhouse and some other merchants who owned large houses in the area were involved in it. Most of these merchants were from other areas of Britain who had moved to Liverpool as its status as a major port grew.

“Although Liverpool merchants engaged in many other trades and commodities, involvement in the slave trade pervaded the whole port. Nearly all the principal merchants and citizens of Liverpool, including many of the mayors, were involved. Thomas Golightly (1732-1821), who was first elected to the Town Council in 1770 and became Mayor in 1772-3, is just one example. Several of the town’s MPs invested in the trade and spoke strongly in its favour in Parliament. James Penny, a slave trader, was presented with a magnificent silver epergne in 1792 for speaking in favour of the slave trade to a parliamentary committee.”

“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.”

Neilson, Backhouse and the Slave Owners on Aigburth Road

In the “History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque With an Account of the Liverpool Slave Trade” both names appear:

slave owner list

David Sekers has published the “Diary of Hanna Lightbody 1786/1770” that mentions William Neilson several times and links Neilson to the slave trade”

“The Diary provides a vivid record of the world of books and of Dissenting opinions at a dramatic period in Liverpool’s history, when the slave trade was first publicly denounced. Hannah recorded the crucial sermon in February 1788 when this bombshell first struck, and describes the aftershock. Her Diary paints portraits of some of the outstanding men and women who became her friends and records conversations with them, men such as Dr Percival, Dr Currie, William Rathbone; and women such as Anna Cropper and Hannah Rathbone.”

This facsinating diary is available to read here:
or online here

“Politics and political reform were subjects dear to the heart of the Liverpool ‘Friends of Liberty’ but are hardly mentioned in the diary. Hannah records jubilation on the king’s recovery, but nothing about the French Revolution. Though interested in discussing women’s roles, she was no radical. She admits she did not pay attention to an important sermon based almost certainly on Dr. Richard Price’s Discourse on the love of our country.
The exception is the issue of the abolition of the slave trade, where Hannah, after reporting on the noted 1788 sermon by John Yates, was drawn into discussions with the leading Liverpool abolitionists. (Her summary of the Yates sermon may well be the only account that survives). In his early days, her brother-in-lawThomas Hodgson had been an agent for a Lancaster slave trader in Gambia. He later owned and ran a trading fort on the Isle de Los off Sierra Leone and even after the 1788 agitation he continued to invest in slaving ships from Liverpool. Others in Hannah’s circle and that of the Hodgsons, such as Thomas Rawlinson, Samuel Hartley, William Neilson, Ellis and Robert Bent and indeed the uncle of Samuel Greg, had connections with the slave trade and slavery.”
Diary of Hanna Lightbody 1786/1770. Edited by David Sekers

Roscoe, a famous abolitionist, historian, poet, botanist and politician lived at the Dingle close to Old Hall, and in extracts on Kevin Little’s blog “The Roscoes of Liverpool” he mentions Roscoe had a group of friends:

In his memoir Roscoe styled them the the Castle Inn conversazione, but it was a rather polite word for this band of disaffected, frustrated youths on the make”

One of which was William ‘Billy’ Neilson.

“These young men were eager for self improvement, but they also liked to enjoy themselves in less passive pursuits. They wandered country lanes declaiming poetry, they huddled in pubs to complain about apprenticeships, clerkships, religious toleration, celibacy and low wages, and at the end of the evening they liked to sing, accompanied by Holden on guitar and Neilson on flute They played absurdist word games based on Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1759-66), but their bible was Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s best-selling Julie ou la nouvelle Heloïse (1761), a novel was set in the Romantic landscape of the foothills of the Swiss Alps.”

Roscoe and Neilson worked together at the stationery shop of John Sibbald in 1790. Kevin Little explains the complex relationships between the abolitionists and their slave owning friends in the then close-knit merchant community of Liverpool.

Extract from Kevin Little’s book can be read here or you can purchase the full ebook:

“A list, compiled in 1752, of 101 Liverpool merchants trading to Arica included 12 who had been, or were to become, mayor of the town,19 and 15 who were pewholders in the fashionable Benn’s Garden Presbyterian chapel. At least 26 of Liverpool’s mayors, holding office for 35 after years from 1700 to 1820, were or had been slave-merchants or close relatives. By 1795 though there was still ample scope for the small investor, ten firms had secured control of more than half the port’s slaving fleet and accounted for almost two-thirds of the cargoes; in the years 1789-91 over half the total number of slaving ventures were accounted for by the seven largest firms, The leading names were now William Neilson, John Shaw, William Forbes, Edward Philip Grayson, Francis Ingram, Thomas Rodie and, above all. Thomas Leyland.”
Staying Power The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer

Update December 2015:

Back in March 2015 Ralph Mills gave an excellent family history of the Backhouse family in the comments section that included birth and marriage dates for the family (see the bottom of this page). Following his contribution  I am further indebted to Yvonne for the following contribution. Yvonne is a descendant of Daniel and Elizabeth Backhouse and was kind enough to share portraits of Daniel Backhouse and Elizabeth Drinkwater. It was especially rewarding to see the reverse that mentions Toxteth Old Hall:

“Thank you to you and Ralph Mills for all the informative background on my 5th great grandparents (Daniel Backhouse & his wife Elizabeth Drinkwater.) Their daughter Margaret married John Birley, of whom I am descended. His brother, Hugh Hornby Birley, is a great great grandfather of “Marcus Lecky Oswald Hornby Birley” who died in 2007. I understand his 2 children (Robin Birley & India Jane Birley) are extremely wealthy and often on the society pages of your papers over there in England. Here are pictures we have of Daniel & Elizabeth, with the writing on the back”.

1_Daniel_Backhouse_MSPainting of Daniel Backhouse, courtesy of Yvonne.

Painting of Elizabeth Drinkwater, courtesy of Yvonne.

Reverse showing ‘Toxteth Old Hall’, courtesy of Yvonne.

1841 Dempsey Hollow lodge Laurel Mount Grove House Old Hall

From my research, the 1841 Census return showing Dempsey Hollow Lodge, Laurel Mount, Grove House, Old Hall {with Elizabeth Backhouse and Elizabeth Neilson in residence), Laurel Mount and Park Road Lodge.

Tarleton & Backhouse

As shown earlier Griffiths mentions that”

“only people exempt from paying toll (Otterspool toll Gate and Bar) were the occupiers of the Three Sixes and the Backhouse family”

This was because the Toll Gate was owned and enforced by John Tarelon. Tarleton came from a long line of Slave traders and was in partnership with Backhouse, “Tarleton & Backhouse” was the third largest slaving company in Liverpool (worth £85,000 in 1780).

“Tarleton, who received £5,000 by his father’s will on coming of age, was a Liverpool West India merchant, in partnership with his brothers Thomas and Clayton Tarleton and one Daniel Backhouse. Between 1786 and 1804 he invested in 39 Liverpool registered ships, with a total tonnage of 7,874. He was a member of the delegation sent to London in 1788 by the committee of Liverpool Africa merchants opposed to abolition of the slave trade and promoted resistance to Dolben’s bill for regulating slaving ships.”


Read more about the Old Hall here:
Old Hall: John Leigh-Clare, Cotton Broker and Art Collector

John Tarleton and Aigburth Hall

The Tarleton connection also brings us to another of Toxteth Park’s most famous historic houses, Aigburth Hall:

“In 1484 a marriage was arranged between James son of John Toxteth and Isabel his wife, and Alice daughter of Thomas Norris of Speke.  John, probably a son of James, in 1525 entered into a bond in £20 to perform certain covenants. In 1544 there was a settlement of disputes between John Toxteth of Aigburth and Henry Tarleton of Fazakerley on the one part and Sir William Norris on the other part. Sir William had enclosed a piece of waste in Aigburth Lane, as common appertaining to the manor of Garston; and he further claimed the marriage of Ellen Toxteth, younger daughter and one of the coheirs of John, for Richard Norris son and heir apparent of Henry Norris of West Derby. Arbitrators were appointed who decided in favour of Sir William, expressing the wish that he would be ‘good master’ to the tenants of John Toxteth and Alice his wife, as before the variance.  The elder daughter, not mentioned here, married William Brettargh of the Holt in Little Woolton; and this family owned a portion of Aigburth until the beginning of the eighteenth century.”

The Tarletons came originally from Fazakerley and Aigburth, near Liverpool. Aigburth Hall was the family seat in the early seventeenth century, though how it came into the family’s possession is uncertain. In the late seventeenth century, failing a male heir in the senior branch of the family, Aigburth Hall passed into the Harrington family as a result of the marriage of Dorothy Tarleton to John Harrington of Huyton Hey. During the next century the ownership of this estate changed several times until it was ultimately repurchased on the eve of the War of American Independence by John Tarleton IV and his son, Thomas, members of a junior family line which had settled at Liverpool during the seventeenth century.

In March 1790, investment at Liverpool in ships and their outfits and cargo for Africa totalled over £1 million, of which the firm of Tarleton & Backhouse accounted for £85,000.38 In terms of investment Tarleton & Backhouse was the third largest firm engaged in the Liverpool slave trade at this date.
Courtesy of American Material from the Tarleton Papers in Liverpool Record Office

‘The Patriot’ and Aigburth Hall

John Tarleton, John Tarleton who was Mayor of Liverpool in 1764/5 and died in 1773. He was the fourth generation of slave owners, his father was “Butcher” and “Bloody Ban” General Sir Banastre Tarleton. In the 2000 Mel Gibson film ‘The Patriot’ a character Colonel William Tavington was probably based on Banastre Tarleton. I remember the controversy at the films release about the portrayal of him, I didn’t realise he was from Liverpool never mind Aigburth. You can read more about him here:

“While Tarleton was far from a saint, he was just as far from being a monster, and he deserves a better accounting than he is normally given by popular “history.” I was inspired to start work on this website when his reputation has been tarred-and-feathered yet again by the movie The Patriot, whose producers cite him as the template for their elegant but antisocial villain, Colonel William Tavington. As a fictional movie foe, Will Tavington is an utter delight, and I was blown away by the quality of Jason Isaacs’ performance in the role. Tavington, however, has virtually nothing in common with Banastre Tarleton! There are vague similarities between their names, they each show plenty of panache when leading a cavalry column, and they share a fondness for fluffy black hats. Beyond that, the resemblance between them is nothing more than a figment of the Hollywood imagination.

Painting of Banastre Tarleton: “Portrait of an Officer” by Sir Joshua Reynolds. National Gallery
Image courtesy of “Oatmeal for the Foxhounds”, a website about Banastre Tarleton that is well worth visiting:
More about the painting is here:

Tarleton’s Obelisk

John Tarleton erected a monument to his father after his death, called “Tarleton’s Obelisk” it stood next to St Georges Church.

Image and information found on

There is a plaque to Banastre Tarleton in Liverpool at the corner of Water Street and Fenwick Street, marking one of the families residences.

Tarleton sold Aigburth Hall in 1808 to Thomas Dixon then passing through several hands was in 1821 to John Hopkinson.

John Hopkinson of Aigburth Hall

Hopkinson with his brother Benjamin had interests in ten plantations, John had two nine illegitimate children from two women “of colour” or “mullato” (historical and derogatory term for mixed race) one of these families (Rebecca Rogers) lived at Aigburth Hall (1817). Rebbeca herself was the daughter of a plantation owner and servant to John Hopkinson.

“Rebecca Rogers died c. 1809 and was the sister of Elizabeth Rogers. They were the daughters of Thomas Rogers, a neighbouring plantation owner. The same source gives James, Joseph, Thomas and Elizabeth as the children of Rebecca Rogers and Jonas, Jonathan, Hugh, Benjamin, David, Rebecca and Samuel as the children of Elizabeth Rogers. Two consecutive notices of intention to leave the colony appeared in the Demerara and Essequebo Gazette of 20/04/1816: ‘John Hopkinson and two servants, in 14 days or six weeks, from April 17’; ‘Elizabeth Rogers, and six children, in 14 days or six weeks, from April 17’.”

“In 1817 John Hopkinson ‘late of Demerara but then of Liverpool’ bought Aigburth Hall for £14,652. He died in September 1821, aged 60, leaving his estates ‘in Demerara and elsewhere’ to his nine natural [illegitimate] children, seven sons and two daughters. These children were the offspring of two women of colour, one of whom lived in Aigburth Hall, the other in London.”
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Volume 20.

“Benjamin and John Hopkinson were brothers who by 1798 had an interest in ten plantations in Demerara. They owned Bachelors’ Adventure and Enterprise jointly; Benjamin owned Rotterdam, Oranje Nassau, Cove and two others; John owned one; and on two estates, Taymouth Manor and the adjoining plantation, they were in the partnership Campbell, Baillie & Hopkinson.

Benjamin Hopkinson [d1801]
Benjamin, who had been in Tobago before moving to Demerara, died in Bath in 1801. He had married in Bath but already had four children by the ‘mulatto’ woman Johanna Hopkinson – Benjamin James, Elizabeth Ann, Jonathan and John Thomas. His executors were his brother John and Thomas Cuming.

His son Benjamin James was born in Tobago in November 1785, baptised in London in 1798 and attended Oriel College, Oxford (1802) and Trinity College, Cambridge [1804]. By 1816 he was established as a merchant in Throgmorton Street, London [Guild Hall records, MS 11936/466/922569] and later went to Demerara, where, in 1823, he owned plantations Cove and John. He later became a member of the Court of Policy of the colony and died there in 1839.

His son John Thomas was born in Demerara on 14 Feb 1787 and baptised in London in 1798. By 1841 he had been confined to a private mental hospital at Much Hadham Palace, Herefordshire and died in 1869.

John Hopkinson [1761-1821]
In 1817 John Hopkinson ‘late of Demerara but then of Liverpool’ bought Aigburth Hall for £14,652. He died in September 1821, aged 60, leaving his estates ‘in Demerara and elsewhere’ to his nine natural [illegitimate] children, seven sons and two daughters. These children were the offspring of two women of colour, one of whom lived in Aigburth Hall, the other in London.”
Information courtesy of

The grave of John Hopkinson, St Michaels in the Hamlet

Tombstone inscription for John Hopkinson in St Michael in the Hamlet. The grave mentions John, his sons James, Hugh and Samuel, his daughters Rebecca and Elizabeth, and his grandson and his wife. I don’t know where Rebbeca his wife is buried:

Here lies the remains of James HOPKINSON Son of John Hopkinson
Who departed this life on the 15th of May 1818 Aged 18 yrs.
John Hopkinson of Aigburth Hall died 25th September 1821 Aged 60
Also Samuel, son of the above John Hopkinson who died June 11th 1824
Aged 4 years
Also Hugh Stephen Hopkinson Son of Hugh Hopkinson and Aigelle his wife, grandson of the above John born at Marseille 14th July 1836 Died in Liverpool 11 August 1838
In memory of Rebecca, the wife of John Joseph Gunning and daughter of the above John Hopkinson who died January 16th 1841
Aged 22 years
Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth Hopkinson
Who died at Wavertree on 4th of December 1859 Aged 70 years.

John’s brother and business partner Benjamin’s wife, Johanna Hopkinson, was also of mixed race and herself a slave owner:

“Run Away from the Subscriber, about Ten Days ago, a young Negro Woman, named Sophia, yellow complexion, about 4 feet 10 inches, or 5 feet high, of the Congo Nation is well known in Kingston. Whoever will apprehend the said Girl, and bring her to the Subscriber, or lodge her in the Barracks, shall receive Two Joes Reward.
Johanna Hopkinson.
Demerary, April 2, 1807.

The story of John Hopkinson and his wife reminded me of Dido Elizebeth Belle, a once enslaved woman living in with aristocracy in Kenwood House, London in the 1760s.

__upload__img_200__18_didoPortrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) and Lady Elizabeth Murray. From the collection of the Earl of Mansfield, Scone Palace, Perth.

“Dido Elizabeth Belle grew up at Kenwood House, Hampstead, London NW3. She was the great-niece of William Murray, Lord Mansfield, who as Lord Chief Justice presided over some of the most historic cases that affected enslaved Africans.

Dido was the illegitimate daughter of Lord Mansfield’s nephew, Sir John Lindsay, a British Navy captain, and an enslaved woman whom Sir John encountered while his ship was in the Caribbean. Sir John acknowledged Dido as his child and, from the 1760s, Dido was brought up in aristocratic surroundings at Kenwood House by the childless Lord and Lady Mansfield, along with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died.

Dido lived at Kenwood for 30 years. Her status in the household was commented on by several visitors. One said that her great-uncle “called upon (her)…every minute for this and that, and showed the greatest attention to everything she said.” However, her position in the household may have been that of a loved but poor relation and she did not always dine with guests.

Black presence in Liverpool

Rebecca would not of been alone in Liverpool in that time as there are many graves of black people in Liverpool cemeteries. But due to the Triangular route of the slave trade: Manufactured goods from England to Africa – Slaves to the Americas – Sugar, Cotton and Tobacco to Europe, few slaves came to Liverpool. Those that did were ‘free’. There is evidence though of a significant population of black people living in Liverpool and elsewhere in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 

“In the last quarter of the 18th century England was home to a black population of between 10-15,000 people – mostly in major ports but also in market towns and villages across the country. Many worked as domestic servants both paid and unpaid – and it was often unclear whether they were free or not.”

St James in The City Church, Toxteth:

“The graveyard surrounding the Church of St James is the final resting place for more than 9,000 people. Here slave traders, captains of slave ships, slavery abolitionists and emancipated victims rest side by side.”


On looking for information about the merchant houses of Toxteth Park, I found an account of Dingle Cottage in 1855. There were two houses called Dingle Cottage, one at the Dingle owned by Yates and another next to Old Hall, later called Ivy Cottage or Ivy House/Lodge. ( Liverpool was at the hub of Mormon migration and the account below is of someone emigrating to America and staying at the house. It mentions a term a derogatory term that I can’t find anywhere else that sounds ominous and the fact the the police are called to return him to the house, leave me to suspect the worst. Whoever they were searching for doesn’t sound very free at any rate.
Note: I contacting The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool twice to get their professional opinion of this account but didn’t get an answer so if any academics can clarify I would be grateful:

Morman Migration, Liverpool to New York 22 Apr 1855 – 22 May 1855
Reminiscences and Journal of David K. Moffat
“Thursday the 19th. After breakfast the day was devoted in the purchase of articles for the voyage, and provisions, so far as our means would go. And in the afternoon your mother and I went to Dingle Cottage to pay our last visit to your Uncle George Leishman. It was a good distance from where we lodged and this occupied us some time. During our absence the family was left in charge of Jessie McDonald (of whose history you will know hereafter). A band of music came past the lodgings, and William Hinking I suppose he was their Nogrie, got into the crowd and marched on with the band, until he was lost. His cousin James fortunately happened to be at the lodgings, and he set about in search of him with all his might. He reported him to the police and gave the bell man a shilling to make proclamation of him and at length a policeman brought on a horse. We was grieved to hear this affair when we returned from Dingle Cottage, and especially at a time when we was just going on board. On our return we was notified to go on ship board, consequently we collected all our goods and repaired to the Samuel Curling, this was about [p.67] half past eight o’clock on the evening of the 19th. We slept on board.”

Further information on the early Black population of Liverpool can be found here:

“Small numbers of slaves, of both sexes and all ages, were brought to Liverpool and were occasionally sold at local auctions. Others became house slaves for the more wealthy families in the Town: Black domestic servants in great houses were seen as a conspicuous sign of wealth at that time and, whilst some were paid wages and could leave their employers, others were treated as property or as ‘fashion statements.”
Ken Pye, Liverpool Historian via

And here:

“Of the little research into the Black presence in Britain during the slave trade period most has focused solely on London, yet Liverpool had a considerable Black population during the 18th and 19th centuries, many of whom were slaves. Although there seems to be no evidence of large scale slave auctions taking place here, slaves can be found advertised for sale in the early Liverpool newspapers. Merchants would also place ‘WANTED’ advertisements in the press, demonstrating their eagerness to purchase an African servant.

As well as slave sales, there were also advertisements for runaways, showing that Black people did not accept their enslavement in Britain passively. The newspapers also show the reality of life for Black people in Britain’s most important slave trading port after the lauded Mansfield Decision of 1772. The last slave sale advertised in a Liverpool newspaper took place in 1779, seven years after Mansfield had ruled in the case of James Somersett.

Church records of the time also give us a great insight into the African presence in the town and show many Black people being baptised and buried in Liverpool churchyards. From these records and others, we know there were many free Black people living in Liverpool during the latter part of the 18th century, including students and craftsmen, as well as soldiers and sailors who fought with honour during the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars.”

Barn Hey and The Baronets, of Dingle Bank

This house is not mentioned by Griffiths which is surprising as it has a lot of history. This house was on the site from the old Roughley’s/Gerrards Newsagents (now High Street Solictitors) ito the HSBC bank on the corner of Dalmeny Street. The house was named after the land it was built upon and the name appears on earlier maps. It may of been built after 1835 as it doesn’t appear on Bennison’s map of that year but it does on the Tithe Award map of 1845. The house and gardens are really clear on the Ordnance Survey map of 1864.

1864 barn hey and old hall
Ordnance Survey map of 1864 (below courtesy of National Library of Scotland).

1845 barn heyThe Tithe Award map of 1845, courtesy of Liverpool Record Office

barn Hey 2014
The site in October 2014.

Daniel Willink

Barn Hey belonged to the Willink family. He was a Liverpool (originally London) merchant and Consul for the Netherlands. He married Anne Latham 16/03/1808 and moved to Liverpool around 1815.


Golden Wedding of Daniel Willink and Anne Latham, 1858

Amongst other business ventures he owned slaves and plantations. Although in 1807 Britain passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act which outlawed the British Atlantic slave trade, slaves continued to be used in the colonies. In 1832 Willink was paid £33,000 for mortgages owned in a slave plantation in Demerera:

John Turnbull and John Forbes (the bankrupts), of the second part; Daniel Willink, or the third part and the Secretary of the colony of Demarara, of the fourth part;
the said two third parts or shares of the said plantation and slaves were conveyed to Willink, in pursuance of the indenture of tile 1st of August 1807.
In the year 1826. the appellants under the will of the survivor of the Dentincks, who bad been parties to the preceding indenture, became owners of the said two third parts of the said plantation and slaves.
Daniel Willink, by bis attorney, was in possession of these two third parts of the estate and slaves from the year 1807 until 1829; and in the year 1818, and three or four following years, at an expense of upwards of 20,000 l., converted the estate from a coffee and cotton into a sugar plantation.
Reports Cases Argued Determined Before Committees His Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council great britain 1831-1836. Google books

In 1827 his name appears alongside John Moss of Otterspool, railway pioneer, banker and owner of 1,000 inherited slaves and John Gladstone (father of W. E. Gladstone) in the petition to the Privy council entitled “Proceedings Before the Privy Council, Against Compulsory Manumission in the Colonies of Demerera and Berbice. This was to seek compensation for slave owners if they were to get their freedom.


John Moss

You can read the full story of John Moss in a book by Graham Trust.

Otterspool, the home of John Moss, from a thread about lost mansions of Liverpool:

More here: and here

Daniel Willink in partnership with the Croppers

Further to my earlier comment about understanding the slave trade from a modern perspective, it surprised me to find that Daniel Willink was a business partner of James Cropper, the abolitionist.

“According to Vincent Nolte, a German-born merchant who acted as New Orlean agent for a number of English houses, James Cropper was responsible for a widely circulated idea that the natural (i.e. climatic) limit of cotton glowing and the supply of slaves following the British abolition of the slave trade was producing a situation in which consumption was overtaking production, and this would inevitably drive up the price of cotton. The early 1820s were a period of buoyant trade and rising prices so the idea had immediate appeal and evidently won support among Cropper’s circle of friends. So in 1823 Cropper formed what Nolte called ‘the Quaker Confederation’ to specu1ate on the rising price of cotton. The members of this loose group, apart from Cropper Bensons, were Rathbone Bros and Isaac Cooke of Cooke &; Coma, an American-based Quaker firm of cotton broken that had succeeded Waterhouse as the first in Liverpool. They drew in Daniel Willink, the son of an Amsterdam merchant and himself Dutch Consul in Liverpool, and Hottinguer of Le Havre, a member of the Parisian banking family who had been trained for a period with Cropper, Benson and Co. Willink was supported by Barings of London, the leading merchant banker of the day, and Hopes of Amsterdam, partners of Barings in numerous ventures and probably the best-known bank in that city.”
‘Merchant Enterprise in Britain From The Industrial Revolution to World War 1’ by Stanley Chapman 

The son of a plantation owner marries the daughter of an abolitionist

Daniel’s son Arthur Willink was born on 27 March 1824. He married Sarah Wakefield Cropper, daughter of John Cropper, on 6 September 1849. John Cropper (1797–1876) was a philanthropist and abolitionist and known as “the most generous man in Liverpool”. The Croppers were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and their home was Dingle Bank. John Cropper’s father, James, started a business with Daniel Willink and the Rathone Brothers. This group of quakers speculated on the rising cost of cotton due to the abolition of slave trade. In 1825 the market collapsed and Willink, along with others, was bankrupt.

Daniel Willink’s daughter Hester married William Robertson Sandbach the Liverpool and British Guiana merchant, in 1837. He was son of Samuel Sandbach, another plantation owner and Mayor of Liverpool 1831-2.

William Edward Willink was born on 17 March 1856, son of Rev Arthur Willink and Sarah Wakefield Cropper. Arthur died 1862 in Madeira. William’s subsequent childhood was spent with his widowed mother and the Cropper family at Dingle Bank, Toxteth Park. William married Florence Macan Urmston in 1893. In this year Florence painted watercolours of her new home, Dingle Bank, shown below.



Willink and Thicknesse

William, Grandson of Daniel, was an architect and founded Willink and Thicknesse with Philip Coldwell Thicknesse. They designed some of Liverpool’s famous buildings and monuments including:

Cunard Building
The Florence Nightingale Memorial
Bank of Liverpool, 301 Aigburth Road
National Westminster Bank in Castle Street

Photograph of the Cunard Building (right) from Liverpool Landscapes


The Cunard building, one of  ‘The Three Graces’, part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Image of Bank of Liverpool, 1900 in Aigburth Vale (I had a flat in here) via Billy Smith:

RLJ_PC 010
The Victoria Memorial, Liverpool.
Courtesy of:

Willink Baronets of Dingle Bank

The Willink Baronetcy, of Dingle Bank in the City of Liverpool, is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1957 for the Conservative politician Henry Willink, Minister of Health from 1943 to 1945. As of 2010 the title is held by his grandson, the third Baronet, who succeeded in 2009.

Willink Baronets, of Dingle Bank (1957)
Sir Henry Urmston Willink, 1st Baronet (1894–1973)
Sir Charles William Willink, 2nd Baronet (1929–2009)
Sir Edward Daniel Willink, 3rd Baronet (born 1957)

Barn Hey, a new era:
Raise your glass to “The King of Toxteth”, Robert Cain

Robert Cain

In the 1870s, Barn Hey was the home of the Liverpool brewing magnate, Robert Cain. He had 11 children 6 living at home and known as ‘The King of Toxteth’.

“Cain became one of Liverpool’s most successful businessmen with a passion for using the most modern techniques and equipment. He expanded the brewery several times, most notably in 1887 and in 1900–1902, when the landmark redbrick part of the brewery was constructed. By the time of his death on 19 July 1907 Cain was one of Britain’s richest men, leaving a personal estate of £400,000 (around £28 million at 2005 prices). He also had political influence, working behind the scenes to help the Conservative Party maintain control of Liverpool throughout the late nineteenth century. In fact he was so influential in the area of Toxteth Park, Liverpool where he lived that he became known as “King of the Toxteth”. Contemporary reports of his funeral and burial at St. James’s Cemetery suggest as many as 3,000 people attended.”

“The company, Robert Cain and Sons, owned over 200 pubs in Liverpool but is most notable for having built three of the most gloriously extravagant pubs in Britain: The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, The Vines and The Central. These highly ornate and elaborate pubs, built to celebrate Robert Cain’s own success and to demonstrate the skill of Liverpool craftsmen, remain landmark Liverpool buildings in the twenty-first century.”

51QDKFDUbQLYou can read the full story of Robert Cain in “Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint” by Christopher Routledge.


Please Note:
I am an enthusiastic amateur with no formal training in map reading or history, so any input by academics is welcomed. In particular if anyone can send any more information on the early history of Old Hall I would love to post it here. If anyone has earlier maps that show Old Hall or any earlier name for the house to assist in establishing its age I look forward to hearing from you.
If any of the information is incorrect please let me know and I will update the post and as always I look forward to your comments.


In trying to find maps for my research I have been frustrated by the lack of high resolution images of some of the most important maps in Liverpool’s history, to that end I have made the maps the the highest resolution possible. If any anyone can shed any more light on the buildings or people mentioned I would love to hear from you and include or correct my correct this post.

Recommended websites for old maps: (click on an area, select a map on the right: amazing high resolution O/S maps from 1846)

For more information on Aigburth Hall visit:

On Liverpool slave traders and abolitionists:

See also:



28 comments on “Robert Griffiths’ Toxteth Park: The mystery of the Old Hall and the slave owners of Aigburth Road

  1. Darren White says:

    The Old Hall, Aigburth Road (open Photobucket link)

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Darren
      That’s amazing where did you find that?
      Is it ok to update the post and include it? I’ll credit yourself of course. A brilliant find and great to see what the hall looked like, I wish I knew more about architecture. Do you know anything about the building?
      Thanks so much for sending this.

      • Darren says:

        Hi Glen, I thought you might like it. The painting’s from the Liverpool Record Office, part of the new Central Library, in the top floor archives section, so you should credit them rather than me. I usually just credit LRO when I’m posting their images. I think it was part of their “Watercolour and Print Collection”. I was looking for paintings of Aigburth Road at the time, which are cataloged in a A4 folder. Dating the Old Hall itself: it has stone hood mouldings over the window head – a rain-drip feature over the window head, used from the late 16th century to the 17th century. The middle section of the hall looks older, as the windows are smaller.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Darren
        Thanks for the update on your excellent find, even better that you can give some kind of date to the building – brilliant!
        It is just so great to see what it looked like. Do you thing it could be a W. G. Herdman drawing as it certainly has the look of one, especially the figures and the colouring of the watercolours? I think it is so strange that so little information exists (or what I could find anyway) about such a large building of such age. It gives me an excuse to visit Central Library again! It is good to discover that Robert Griffiths was right about the age also. All the contemporary descriptions of the area I have read omit it which leaves me to believe that some of them never actually visited Toxteth Park but just copied other books, it’s not as though you could miss it, is it? The painting of the gardens of The Hollies is really interesting too, that certainly needs looking in to. I’ll update the post as soon as I can. I really appreciate the help and input I have in writing the posts. Thanks again, excellent work.

  2. Darren White says:

    Glen, have you come across a property on Aigburth Road called “The Hollies”. This is a painting of its gardens by owner, Robert Coltart, painted 1880. On the 1881 Census he’s listed as being in between the following properties: Ellerslie House. Dingle Farm. Laurel Mount cottage, Laurel Mount, Woodcote cottage, The Hollies, Bain Hey, Glen Huntley, Old Hall…

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Darren
      Re; The Hollies House, I don’t know if you have seen this before but when I was researching Robert Cain I came across a newspaper clipping in the British Newspaper Archive about The Hollies. Cain’s family is living there and he is trying to get a license for it to become a public house. At this point (June 1899) it states that he hadn’t lived in Barn Hey for 18 months. He is using all his powers of persuasion to turn public opinion. The new terraced houses had just been built and he was desperate to get all of the trade. There are quite a few articles where the guardians of Toxteth are trying their best to keep the number of Public Houses in the area to a minimum (they succeed I suppose as there was never many pubs on Aigburth Road was there?) The article is also of interest as it mentions that the Masonic on Lark Lane sold for over £28,000, more than my Mum’s corner terrace in the same area sold for in the early 1980s, I think! There are a few articles about this sale also as the bids were going up £1000 a time.
      I attach the clipping here.

  3. Darren White says:

    Hi Glen

    W.G.Herdman – although the painting is very similar in style to his work, I don’t think it was by him – I feel sure that I would have remembered. Unless that is, there was no attribution for the artist?

    Also, I wonder whether there was a bridge at the junction of St Michael’s Road with Dickenson’s Dingle, as the road bends to meet the dingle at right-angles, square-on, as if a bridge were crossing at the shortest route. That may account for the funny dog-leg that St Michael’s Road has, just before joining Aigburth Road?

    I’ll look forward to reading you’re update. Hopefully you can capture a better quality image of the Old Hall than the one I took? Congratulations on your blog, very interesting reading…

  4. Darren White says:

    Hi Glen, thanks for the credit. The painting looks right at home in your blog, which I’ve found fascinating – it’s certainly helped de-shroud some of the Old Hall’s secrets.

  5. Ralph Mills says:

    I went to school in Toxteth Park, South Liverpool and your web pages relate to that Area: –

    The school I went to, St. Michael in the Hamlet, and I was also in the choir at the Church, with the same name. Being interested in local history I also know that area quite well.

    I thought you might like to see a little bit more of the Backhouse family history.

    First Name Daniel Last Name Backhouse married
    First Name(S) Elizabeth Last Name Drinkwater
    Birth year 1743 Place Newbie in Dumfrieshire
    Marriage year 1765
    Marriage Licence dated 27 August 1765
    Parish Liverpool
    Bride’s age 22 Bride’s residence Liverpool Bride’s marital status Spinster
    Groom’s age 22 Groom’s residence Liverpool,
    Groom’s occupation Merchant Groom’s marital status Bachelor
    Place Liverpool
    Date of Marriage – 01 September 1765 Marriage place St. George’s Church, Liverpool, Lancaster, England.]
    County Lancashire, Country England
    Cheshire Marriage licence bonds and allegations 1606-1905

    Marriage: 1 September 1765 at St George, Derby Square, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
    Daniel Backhouse – Merchant, Liverpool
    Elizabeth Drinkwater – Spinster, Liverpool
    Witness: Geo. Drinkwater; John Wright
    Married by Licence by: Thos. Maddock, Chaplain
    Register: Marriages 1760 – 1777, Page 57, Entry 4
    Source: LDS Film 1656155

    Name: Fanny Backhouse, Gender: Female, Christening Date: 18 December 1766 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 26 November 1766 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: Alice Backhouse, Gender: Female, Christening Date 1768 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 12 May 1768 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: John Backhouse, Gender: Male, Christening Date 09 April 1770, Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 31 March 1770, Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: Elizabeth Backhouse, Gender: Female, Christening Date: 14 January 1772 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 14 January 1772 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: Margaret Backhouse, Gender: Female, Christening Date: 06 December 1773 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 26 November 1773 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: Mary Backhouse, Gender: Female Christening Date: 12 October 1775 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 15 Sep 1775 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Name: Jane Backhouse, Gender: Female, Christening Date: 25 June 1777 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 30 May 1777 Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Jane Backhouse died aged 69 in 1846.

    Name: Ellin Backhouse, Gender: Female, 14 February 1782 Christening Place: St George, Castle Street, Liverpool, Lancaster, England Birth Date: 19 January 1782, Father’s Name Daniel Backhouse

    Daniel Backhouse Burial at St. Andrew’s, Renshaw Street, Liverpool – 12 August 1811 demolished
    Name: Elizabeth Backhouse Gender: Female Burial Date: 06 May 1794 Burial Place: St. Andrew, Liverpool, Lancashire, England Marital Status: Married Spouse’s Name: Daniel Backhouse

    Name: William Neilson
    Spouse’s Name: Fanny Backhouse
    Event Date: 1798
    Event Place: Walton On The Hill, Lancashire, England

    Name: William Neilson
    Gender: Male
    Christening Date: 01 May 1800
    Christening Place: St. Thomas’, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
    Birth Date: 28 February 1800
    Father’s Name: William Neilson
    Mother’s Name: Fanny Backhouse

    Name: Robert Neilson
    Gender: Male
    Christening Date: 27 October 1803
    Christening Place: St. Thomas’, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
    Birth Date: 09 April 1801
    Father’s Name: William Neilson
    Mother’s Name: Fanny Backhouse

    Name: Fanny Neilson
    Gender: Female
    Christening Date: 27 October 1803
    Christening Place: St. Thomas’, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
    Birth Date: 22 August 1802
    Father’s Name: William Neilson
    Mother’s Name: Fanny Backhouse

    First name(s) William Last name Neilson
    Occupation Merchant
    Residence Liverpool
    Probate year 1819 County Cheshire
    Country England
    Record set Cheshire Wills and Probate

    Also: –
    The Three Sixes still stands today and is now a private residence. I have been in there on many occasions because in the 1940’s and 1950’s it was my doctors’ surgery and waiting room. I believe the Aspinwall or Aspinall family, who were famous for their watch-making skills, built the original premises on the site. I think they were living in London in 1666 when the Great Fire of London destroyed their London home. The watch mechanisms were made here in Lancashire, but quite often the gold or silver cases were added in London. The best watch mechanisms were always sold in London to get the best prices! The family has strong Lancashire connections, and for a time Edward Aspinall was Lord of the Manor of Hale. The Aspinall families were early Puritan dissenters. They contributed to the establishment of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth – Jeremiah Horrox the famous astronomer, and Richard Mather were their contemporaries.

    Kind Regards Ralph Mills

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Ralph
      Thanks for taking the time to find this information and sharing it here, excellent.
      I have been meaning to update the post with new finds but I can’t seem to find the time. There are some places you mention that deserve looking into further. I thought the home if the Aspinwalls (and Horrocks) was Lower Lodge in Otterspool?
      I’ll have to look into it further.
      I have a census somewhere I found that shows the Backhouse family at Old Hall, I’ll upload it later.
      Thanks again

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Ralph
      Here are the census documents I mentioned. Old Hall in 1841 with Elizabeth Backhouse and Elizabeth Neilson living there.


      and from the same year the Aspinwalls still living at Lower Lodge:

      Whether they had lived in the Three Sixes prior to this I don’t know but I would be interested to find out.

      Thanks again.

  6. audrey kane says:

    hello, i am trying to find any info or picture of kingsland house , aigburth hall road grassendale the home of george henry loxdale 1808 – 88 he was a merchant/cotton grower . i have recently bought a dolls house with a letter of provinance that it is a copy of the house built in 1858 for his daughter anne loxdale later married to the rev william basil jones the bishop of st davids in wales.
    i was told it was bombed in the 2nd world war.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Audrey,
      I had a quick Google, is that the dolls house that has a picture on the Bonhams site?
      I will see what I can find but finding individual houses is pretty difficult as you are lucky if even a picture of a street remains. Having a such a beautiful model of the house makes it easier to identify if one did turn up though. I’m sure you will have seen it before but George Henry Loxdale appears on the site ‘Legacies of British Slave Ownership’ here so there may well be some archives that may also show his house. I live very close to Aigburth Hall Road so I will have a look to see if any clues remain the next time I take my dog for a walk and I will see if the house is shown on any old maps, this will at the least show the plan of the house and you would be able to check it it matches your dolls house. I will also have a look at some of the collections online to see if anything turns up or at least give you some places to contact.

      • audrey kane says:

        hello glen, thanks for the reply yes it is the house from bonhams auction. i have done a lot of research on the internet on the loxdale family and i will start to look for any sale details as you suggested.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Audrey,
      I forgot to mention, if you look in The British Newspaper Archive you may well find an advertisement for the sale of the house. This will not have a photograph but could well have a detailed description which would help to identify it. There are examples of these advertisements on various posts of my blog. There are often special offers where you can get a subscription for just £1 but as with all subscription sites, just make sure the auto renewal is not selected or your will be charged the full amount each month.

    • Moi Ali says:

      hi Audrey, I was given a photograph of your dolls house by bonhams for my forthcoming book on dolls houses. So your house will be famous! Well, not quite, but I’d be interested to know what you’ve found out about its history. Moi Ali

  7. Yvonne W. says:

    Hello Glen, Thank you to you and Ralph Mills for all the informative background on my 5th great grandparents (Daniel Backhouse & his wife Elizabeth Drinkwater.) Their daughter Margaret married John Birley, of whom I am descended. His brother, Hugh Hornby Birley, is a great great grandfather of “Marcus Lecky Oswald Hornby Birley” who died in 2007. I understand his 2 children (Robin Birley & India Jane Birley) are extremely wealthy and often on the society pgs of your papers over there in England. Here are pictures we have of Daniel & Elizabeth, with the writing on the back.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Yvonne,
      Thank you so much for getting in touch and sharing those amazing portraits! You can’t beat a portrait to make a connection. When I started the post I would never of thought I would have so much help in bringing to light this old lost building. I can’t believe one of the portraits actually mentions Toxteth Old Hall on the back too, what more could I ask for? I will update the post this week as I have neglected it of late as I have been researching my own family history (on the other end of the social scale). I will add your photos and comments into the post proper alongside Ralph’s findings, a higher quality scan of the Old Hall and some other bits and corrections.
      Very best wishes.

  8. Brenda Watson says:

    I have really enjoyed reading all this information, I was born at Aigburth Vale over 70 year`s ago so know the area very well we use to go down Jericho Lane to the farm by the railway, was a foot path to Fullwood Park had family live down there and to the Shore and would dip our feet in the river many happy times .

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Brenda. We walked our dog down to Cressington Park prom this morning and wished we could get down onto the shore. We saw two herons behind a large stone sheildings themselves from a cold wind, lovely.

  9. Moi Ali says:

    I have come across a photograph of a dolls house made in the 19th century, based on Kingsland and belonging to Ann Loxdale of Aigburth.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Moi, funnily enough the person who bought the dolls house contacted me asking for any information. You can read Audrey’s request and my reply a few comments above yours.
      It’s a lovely object isn’t it? And a great piece of Aigburth history.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Moi Ali says:

        Hi Glen! I’ve left a reply for Audrey. If you have her email address, I’d be interested in being put in touch with her – or she can contact me direct via you or at I think it would make an interesting story for the dolls’ house magazine I write for.

  10. […] Robert was a merchant and Chairman of the Liverpool East India Company, The Liverpool and Manchester Railway and also the Liverpool Shipowners Association. With his brother John Gladstone they traded to the West Indies and East India, both were slave owners who were awarded compensation by the British Government in 1835, “slavery had been abolished in 1807 but it but it had taken another 26 years to effect the emancipation of the enslaved”, the Government compensated the slave owners not the slaves. See also Slave Owners of Aigburth Road post. […]

  11. […] the church above the number 405, this was Backhouse Road, named after the family that lived in the Old Hall on the corner. Later this would be much extended to the west and become Bryanston […]

  12. Anne nelson says:

    I have just seen an old photograph of the old toll Aigburth and it looks like a shop called Hawleys that is our family name just interested in any information you may have thank you

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Anne,

      I have been meaning to do a piece on the Aigburth Toll Gate for a while, I will update the post with more information very soon. In the meantime here is a little preview.

      The original Toll Gate was converted into shops and these stood (in much altered form) until recently. Comparing the chimneys on the photos below, you can see that they are the same, they just altered the old fronts to have bigger shop windows.

      This will be the photo you mentioned:

      Here is the shows at the turn of the century:

      This is 1960s?:


      I certainly remember shopping at the Pet Shop shown on the above link.

      I’m sure these shops lasted until the 2000s, I should remember because I had a flat above the Old Bank at the time.

      The area now:,-2.9343106,3a,75y,355.86h,90.85t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-s0hTzlNQQeKUwBE6H9tHQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?dcr=0

      I then looked up that Hawley on the census on In 1901 (probably around the time the photo was taken) they are listed as living at 216 Aigburth Road. The head is John Hawley, Chemist and Druggist born 1834 in Melton Mowbray (no wife possibly died). He’ll be the man on the photo.
      He has two daughters Ada (1869 Aigburth) and Mabel (1871 Aigburth) and one son John W (1874 Aigburth). In 1871 the family are living at Georges Terrace, Garston. His wife is Martha born 1833 in Yorkshire. There are children not listed in 1901: Clara (1862 Yorkshire), Blanche (1863 Lancashire), Mary Elizabeth (1865 Lancashire), Gertrude (1867 Lancashire). So I’m presuming they arrived in Liverpool between 1862 and 1863.

      Looking at earlier records, In 1851 John was an apprentice to Grocer and Druggist called Thomas Wing, who’s shop was located at “North Side of Market Place, Melton Mowbray”. In 1841 John was possibly living at Thorpe End, aged 8, the son of William and Jane Hawley.

      I think John died in 1902, Martha possibly 1900/early 1901.

      I hope this helps, and thanks for showing an interest in the site. Please let me know if they are your relatives as it would be good to add to the page when I do it.

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