written out of history.
WILLIAMS, Gomer. History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque with an Account of the Liverpool Slave Trade. London, William Heinemann, 1897.
8vo. Original dark red cloth, spine lettered in gilt; pp. xv, 718, ; four folding facsimiles, minimal wear to binding; provenance: bookplate Cuthbert Woods, ms. Liverpool song, written down in 1917 pasted on front fly-leaf verso, carbon-copied typed 18th-century letter of Marque tipped in before title.
Scarce first edition of the first full-length book to tap into the history of the 'national sin' (p. v). - We could not find any information about the author, despite - or maybe because - of him having written this substantial book.
'History of the Liverpool Privateers… is one of the most detailed 19th century accounts of the slave trade. It gathers original source materials which feature comparative tables of figures and profits connected with the trade, newspaper articles and advertisements, and facsimiles of manuscript documents, including ship logs. Also included are descriptive accounts of the treacherous journeys at sea, the brutal treatment received by African peoples, and the Abolition campaign. Although the book was written retrospectively in 1897, after Britain ceased involvement in the slave trade, it is still regarded as a reputable source. […] On page 680 a comparative table shows the numbers of ships that left Liverpool, London and Bristol for Africa, to board African people and transport them to America as slaves. This movement is part of the ‘trade triangle’ in the transatlantic slave trade. The table, covering years 1795-1804, reveals that the port of Liverpool dominated the slave trade in the late 18th century. In 1798, for example, ships from Liverpool potentially boarded 53,051 Africans ("Slaves Allowed"), compared with figures of 2,650 and 1,433 from London and Bristol, respectively. On page 477, Williams presents a broader view of England’s involvement in the slave trade. Here, he makes reference to an estimate that 20,000 Africans were held as slaves by London families or businesses in the late 18th century. To put that figure into perspective, today 20,000 people constitute a regular population size for a British town. Williams also details some of the horrendous, brutalising treatment carried out by English slaveholders (British Library, online, apparently not being able to provide us with any biographical information about Gomer Williams either).
'This book, first published in 1897, examines two important factors in the growth of Liverpool as a major port: privateering and the slave trade. It incorporates a large amount of primary source material, including extracts from letters and newspaper reports. Privateeering developed as Britain became a global maritime power through merchant shipping and exploration, privateers being ships and individuals authorised by the government through Letters of Marque to attack and capture foreign ships for profit. Williams recounts the exploits of several notorious privateers sailing from Liverpool, and describes how the industry functioned and flourished during the French revolution, the Seven Years' War and the American wars. He provides much practical detail, including how best to capture ships while causing them minimal damage. The second part of his book is still regarded as a classic history of the Liverpool slave trade, and clearly reveals the author's anti-imperialist views' (Cambridge Library Collection - Naval and Military History, online).
Provenance: Cuthbert Woods (1879-1966) was a Liberpool dentist, local historian and collector.