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News Story

Alumnus David Hearn to present new research findings on Liverpool’s links to slavery

Publish date: May 5, 2022

Slavery researcher and Edge Hill University alumnus David Hearn will be delivering three public webinars covering Liverpool’s troubling relationship with the slave trade from the 1600s to 1800s.

As part of Edge Hill’s ongoing commitment to promoting equality and diversity, the Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) has invited David to present his findings and to have an honest, frank discussion of Liverpool’s history in three webinars on 10, 17 and 24 February.

David Hearn said: “In his 1989 report on the Toxteth Riots, Lord Gifford says that Liverpool is a ‘city built on slavery’ and while many people know at least a little about the history of the city’s involvement in slavery the subject remains one which is sometimes misunderstood or even ignored.

“I will explore three different areas of Liverpool’s involvement in slavery: the slave trade itself; the Liverpool people who owned plantations in the Americas and the compensation they received when the enslaved people on these plantations received their freedom; and the involvement of Liverpool in the American Civil War.”

Between 1699 and 1862 almost 5,000 ships sailed from Liverpool on the first leg of a voyage that would see approximately 1.5 million African men, women and children taken from their homes to the Americas to be sold into lives of slavery and misery. Many people in Liverpool profited from this trade and some used their profits to establish businesses that are still in existence today.

Panoramic photograph of the Liverpool Waterfront, c1860. Liverpool Maritime Museum

“These subjects are all challenging. However, they’ve had a considerable impact on the city, and we need to understand this so that we can have an informed discussion on the subject and explore history openly and honestly,” said David.

After a career in export and property finance with a number of different banks in Liverpool, London and Manchester, David went to university for the first time at the age of 55, studying for a BA in History at Edge Hill University.

David then went on to take an MA in International Slavery Studies at the University of Liverpool. He has published three books and is currently working on a book about Liverpool’s legacy of slavery, and a fifth focusing on the ports.

“I’m delighted to be coming back to Edge Hill to present my work. It’s a place that believed in me when I decided to go to university for the first time in my 50s.”

More information and links to sign up for all three webinars can be found on the events pages.

This event has been organised by Edge Hill’s Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR). The ISR aims to make a positive impact on societal issues through cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange activities. It also regularly holds events, seminars, workshops and lectures, so check for updates or join the mailing list. Learn more about the work of the ISR on their homepage

History degree at Edge Hill provides the historical context of current events as you explore modern history from across the globe.