Did you know, our founder Elfrida Rathbone’s great grandfather, William Rathbone IV (1757 – 1809) was a committed opponent to slavery.
He was a wealthy merchant, with strong religious values and in 1788 became a founding member of the Liverpool Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
The group was actively campaigning for the abolition of the slave trade in a city (Liverpool) whose commercial prosperity largely depended on it. 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.
In the late 1700’s Liverpool was a major slaving port and its ships and merchants dominated the transatlantic slave trade in the second half of the 18th century. Probably three quarters of all European slaving ships at this period left from Liverpool. Overall, it’s estimated Liverpool ships transported half of the 3 million African people carried across the Atlantic by British slavers.
Life on board a slave ship was cramped and unhygienic, with many slaves dying on the journey across the Atlantic to the Americas. Eventually with the support of sympathetic politicians, the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was introduced which outlawed the slave trade.
We follow the Rathbone family principles of economic empowerment and social mobility through education, equality and freedom. Our founder Elfrida Rathbone believed every young person could learn, regardless of their starting point in life.
Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience
By Susan Pedersen