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Thomas Leyland Company account books (1789-1790, 1792-1793)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Philip Heslip, December 2010
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Thomas Leyland Company account books
Creator: Thomas Leyland Company
Inclusive dates: 1789-1790, 1792-1793
Extent: 2 volumes
The Thomas Leyland Company account books are two volumes of records for the slave ships Hannah (1789-90) and Jenny (1792-1793), traveling from Liverpool to Africa, then across the Atlantic to Jamaica and other West Indian Islands. The books record the goods sold in each port, such as slaves, fabric, and sugar, and contain details on seamen's wages and instructions to the captain for the treatment of slaves.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1980. M-1933.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

Thomas Leyland Company Account Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Thomas Leyland (1752-1827), born in Knowsley, England, was a prominent Liverpool merchant and banker. After winning a sizable lottery prize, he built a large Liverpool-based mercantile business that shipped goods to England, Europe, Africa, and the West Indies. He was particularly active in the Atlantic slave trade, having interests in at least 69 slaving ventures. Leyland was elected mayor of Liverpool in 1798, 1814, and 1820. In 1802, he started an investment in banking by establishing a partnership with Liverpool bankers Clarke and Roscoe, and, in 1807, he set up a partnership with his nephew Richard Bullin to form a new banking enterprise. At his death in 1827, Leyland was one of the richest men in England.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Thomas Leyland Company account books are two volumes of records for the slave ships Hannah (1789-90) and Jenny (1792-1793), which made trips from Liverpool to Africa, then across the Atlantic to Jamaica and other West Indian Islands. These record the goods (sugar, food, arms, and cloth) and slaves sold in each port, and contain details on seamen's wages and instructions to ship captains for the treatment of slaves.

The first volume documents the 2nd voyage of the Ship Hannah , captained by Charles Wilson (39 pages). The ship sailed from Liverpool on July 3, 1789, to the Calabar River in Africa (present day Nigeria), then to Barbadoes; Dominica; and Kingston, Jamaica; and finally back to Liverpool in December 1790.

The account book opens with directions to the captain, instructing him on the ship's itinerary and what to sell and purchase on the journey. The note also cautioned the captain to treat his crew with humanity and to show the "utmost tenderness to the Negroes" (page 1). The next item is the shipment invoice, which includes food (white barley, corn, rice, peas, beans, beef, salt, and bread), liquor (brandy, port, sherry), china, fabric and clothing (hats, trousers, jackets, silk, cotton, romal and photaes), arms (gunpowder, muskets, French guns, and knives), and purchased items including tobacco, wine, rum, sugar, raisins, cotton, sailcloth, iron, and gunpowder (pages 5-13). Page 15 contains a list of the 30 officers and seamen on board the Hannah , with their names, rank or profession, wages per month, and total pay. Professions included master, mate, carpenter, cooper, steward, surgeon, cook, and seaman. Pages 16-20 contain lists of trader's names along with notes on disbursements and what they purchased. Pages 22-24 cover accounts for the 294 slaves sold at Kingston, Jamaica, with details on the purchasers, prices, and types of slaves sold (privileged men, privileged women, cargo men, cargo women, men boys, women girls, boys, and girls). Finally, pages 25-32 provide information about the total amount of sugar purchased in Jamaica for Thomas Leyland, and the accounts of goods sold to various traders in the West Indies, including William Daggers of Kingston, Jamaica; Barton and Gibbald of Barbados; and Neilson and Heathcote of Dominica.

The second volume documents the first voyage of the Ship Jenny , captained by William Stringer (29 pages). The Jenny left Liverpool on November 27, 1792, and arrived at the Zaire River (Congo) off the coast of Angola on February 18, 1793. They arrived at the port town of Emboma (today Boma, Kongo Central) on February 23, 1793, then at Barbadoes (May 6, 1793), St. Vincent (May 7, 1793), Grenada (May 8, 1793), and finally Kingston, Jamaica (May 18, 1793).

The record keeping for both volumes is similar. The account book opens with an itinerary of the trade mission and instructions for the captain on selling and purchasing cargo (pages 1-3). Following that are the invoice for goods shipped and purchased (page 5-14), a list of the 29 officers and seamen on board (page 15), tradesmen's notes and disbursements (pages 16-20), sales for 250 slaves (pages 21-23), and accounts with Thomas Leyland, who funded the expedition (pages 24-29).

Subject Terms

  • Angola.
  • Barbados.
  • Boma (Bas-Fleuve, Congo)
  • Calabar (Nigeria)--Commerce.
  • Congo River.
  • Dominica.
  • Hannah (Ship)
  • Jenny (Ship)
  • Kingston (Jamaica)
  • Leyland, Thomas, 1752-1827.
  • Liverpool (England)
  • New Calabar River (Nigeria)
  • Old Calabar (Nigeria)
  • Slave trade--Africa.
  • Slave trade--England--Liverpool.
  • Slave trade--Great Britain.
  • Slave trade--West Indies, British.
  • Slave traders.
  • Sugar trade--West Indies, British.
Genre Terms:
  • Account books.

Contents List

Container / Location Title
Volumes   1-2  
Thomas Leyland Company account books,  July 3, 1789-May 18, 1793 [series]
Ship Hannah , 2nd Voyage,  July 3, 1789-December 6, 1790 [View Digital Surrogate]
Ship Jenny , 1st Voyage,  November 7, 1792-May 18, 1793 [View Digital Surrogate]

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The following Clements Library collections contain material on the British, African, and West Indian sugar and slave trade:
  • The African American collection
  • The Thomas Clarkson manuscript
  • The Charles Goore letter book
  • The Jacob Aemilius Irving letter books
  • The James Stothert papers
  • The Tailyour Papers

The Tailyour family papers contain 5 letters from Thomas Leyland (January-March 1794)

The National Archives of Great Britain has a collection of Thomas Leyland records, which includes ship account books and a personal letter book, held at the Liverpool Record Office.

The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool has a probate copy of Thomas Leyland's will.


Williams, Eric Eustace. Capitalism & Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944.