Clarke Aspinall

WAG 7614


This artwork has been identified as having links to a person connected with transatlantic slavery. This research is part of the Walker Art Gallery’s ongoing work to be more transparent about the collection’s relationship to Britain's colonial past. Clarke Aspinall (1827 - 1891) was a solicitor who became Coroner of Liverpool in 1867, a post he held until his death. He came from a prominent family of merchants who were active in the Caribbean and whose wealth was derived from the transatlantic slave trade. His grandfather was the merchant and trader of enslaved African people John Bridge Aspinall (1759 - 1830), who became Mayor of Liverpool in 1803. Aspinall’s great grandfather, James Aspinall (1729 - 1787), was part of a Liverpool syndicate of slave traders which also included William Gregson (1721 - 1800) and George Case (1747 - 1836). The syndicate owned the slave ship Zong which became infamous for the Zong Massacre in 1781. The Zong crew threw 142 enslaved African people overboard because they were reportedly low on drinking water, having made navigational errors during a voyage across the Atlantic. The ship owners made a claim to their insurers for £30 compensation for each enslaved person who had died. Although unsuccessful with the claim, the trial caused a public outcry and strengthened the British abolition movement. The artist Giovanni Giuseppe Fontana (1821 - 1893) was an Italian sculptor and watercolourist.