From Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, volume 1: Papayanni Line. George Papayanni, Greek emigré merchant, moved from London to Liverpool in 1844, as he considered it a better centre for the Mediterranean trade. He took as a partner a Turk, Pierre Massabini. The firm traded to the Levant (northeast Mediterranean; Greece and Turkey), later extending to the whole of the eastern Mediterranean. Papayanni and Massabini chartered steamers from 1846 and owned them from 1855 under the guidance of George's brother, Basilio. In 1861 the firm helped to develop the Egyptian cotton trade as an alternative to the American southern states. From 1870 Basilio ran the shipping business.
The company was British-registered but maintained its contacts in Greece. The line owned nine steamers on its incorporation in 1897. Basilio's death in 1897 had the effect of spreading the shares among six family members which made it difficult to modernise the fleet without capital injection, and in 1901 the firm was sold to Ellerman. It continued to be operated as a separate entity until 1932. In 1958 Ellerman Papayanni acquired the Mossgiel S.S. Co. of Glasgow and began containerisation in 1969. Mediterranean services have continued after the 1973 Ellerman reorganisation and two changes of ownership.
The majority of the Ellerman Papayanni records are from the years following the Second World War and none date from the Papayanni family ownership. For further details see the attached catalogue.