Peter Whitfield Brancker

WAG 9055


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. Peter Whitfield Brancker (1750 - 1836) was originally a ship's captain. He was involved in nine voyages, transporting many enslaved African people to the Caribbean. From 1784 until 1799 he became a ship co-owner and merchant associated with 29 voyages to the Caribbean. Brancker’s family first settled in Liverpool in the late 17th century. He was elected to Liverpool’s Common Council in 1793 where he objected to the abolition of the slave trade. He became Bailiff in 1795, and Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1801. In 1804 he was Major Commandant of the Artillery in the Liverpool Volunteers, raised by Colonel John Bolton (1756 - 1837) to defend Liverpool against Napoleon. Brancker’s involvement in the trade of enslaved African people is closely connected to his marriage to Hannah Aspinall (1756 - 1814) in 1782. She came from a prominent Liverpool family and many of her relatives were involved in transatlantic slavery. Her father James Aspinall (1729 - 1787) was a slave ship-owner, and her brothers Thomas Aspinall (1765 - 1813) and John Bridge Aspinall (1759 - 1830) were merchants and plantation owners. Following his marriage and his newly elevated status, Brancker formed business partnerships with other prominent Liverpool merchant families including the Bensons, Tarletons and Backhouses. He was also a co-owner of the plantation Cold Spring in Jamaica, with his brother-in-law Sir John Tobin (1762 - 1851). The artist Joseph Allen (1770 - 1839) was born in Birmingham but built up an extensive practice in Northern cities. He was a founder member of the Liverpool Academy.