The port of Liverpool benefited from improved trade with America and the West Indies during the latter part of the 1600s and the city’s economy steadily improved. It was October 1699 when the first recorded slave ship, Liverpool Merchant, left the port bound for Africa. The ship arrived in Barbados with more than 200 chained and starving Africans in her hold, who were treated as cargo rather than human beings.
16 It was not known at the time that these would be the final such executions in England but a subtle change in the law a mere month or two later saw to it that the hangmen were soon handed their pensions. The story goes that cell number two in the prison’s G wing is haunted by the spirit of another former inmate who met his death on Walton’s gallows. 17, 18, 19 One source goes into greater detail about the case stating that Kennedy and an accomplice by the name of Guy Frederick hanged for the murder of a constable.
Between 1845 and 1852 the Great Irish Famine (also known as An Gorta Mór – ‘the Great Hunger’) led to the death of over one million Irish citizens. Many of those who fled the country found themselves in the overcrowded port of Liverpool where living conditions amongst the poor were, sadly, not much better. Typhus took the lives of many immigrants living in truly dreadful circumstances and the bodies of thousands were buried hastily in unmarked graves. Even so, for many Liverpool held a brighter future than Eire and some estimate that as much as 25 per cent of the city’s total population were Irish by 1851.
800 Years of Haunted Liverpool by John Reppion