Petition of Liverpool to the House of Commons, 14 February 1788

"To the honourable the House of Commons, the humble petition of the Mayor, showeth that the trade of Liverpool having met with the countenance of this honourable House in many Acts of Parliament, which have been granted at different times during the present century, for the constructing of proper and convenient wet docks for shipping, and more especially for the African ships, which from their form require to be constantly afloat, your Petitioners have been emboldened to lay out considerable sums of money and to pledge their Corporates seal for other sums to a very large amount for effectuating these goods and laudable purposes.

That your petitioners have also been happy to see the great increase and different resources of trade which has flowed in upon their town by the numerous canals and other communications from the interior parts of this kingdom, in which many individuals, as well as public bodies of proprietors are materially interested. And that from these causes, particularly the convenience of the docks, and some other local advantages, added to the enterprising spirit of the people, which has enabled them to carry on the African Slave Trade with vigour, the town of Liverpool has arrived at a pitch of mercantile consequence which cannot but affect and improve the wealth and prosperity of the kingdom at large.

Your Petitioners therefore contemplate with real concern the attempts now making by the petitions lately preferred to your honourable House to obtain a total abolition of the African Slave Trade, which has hitherto received the sanction of Parliament, and for a long series of years has constituted and still continues to form a very extensive branch of the commerce of Liverpool, and in effect gives strength and energy to the whole; but confiding in the wisdom and justice of the British Senate, your Petitioners humbly pray to be heard by their counsel against the abolition of this source of wealth before the Honourable House shall proceed to determine upon a point which so essentially concerns the welfare of the town and port of Liverpool in Particular, and the landed interest of the kingdom in general and which in their judgement must also tend to the prejudice of the British manufacturers, must ruin the property of the English merchants in the West Indies, diminish the public revenue and impair the maritime strength of Great Britain."

Petitioners:

Thomas Earle Esquire, Mayor John Sparling, William Gregson, John Blackburne, Thomas Golightly, Peter Rigby, Richard Gerard, George Case, James Clemens, John Gregson, John Crosbie, James Gildart Junior, William Kerketh, Thomas Staniforth, Clayton Tarleton, John Hughes, Robert Moss, Edmund Rigby, Johne Blackburne Junior, Thomas Crowder Clemens, Harry Hardwar, Peter Baker, John Greenwood, Thomas Smyth, Richard Stratham, Spencer Steers, John Colquitt.