John Bridge Aspinall

WAG 7026


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. John Bridge Aspinall (1759 - 1830) was a prominent Liverpool merchant and trader in enslaved African people. He became Mayor of Liverpool in 1803 and his family were heavily involved in commerce and slavery in the Caribbean. Aspinall’s father, 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. John Bridge Aspinall was also the father-in-law of Richard Addison (dates unknown) who married his daughter, Elisabeth or Betty Aspinall (dates unknown). Richard Addison was paid compensation for freed enslaved African people following the Slavery Abolition Act (1833) and the Aspinall family became more influential through the union.