This is a complete text only version of Liverpool History for kids.
from the interactive cartoon pages found elsewhere on this Schools History of Liverpool website.
On 5th January 1066 King Edward III died. He was known as Edward the ‘Confessor’ because he was a very religious man (therefore may have confessed or admitted his sins). Edward had no children (heirs) to the throne and as a result two powerful landowners Harold Godwinson (brother of Edwards’s wife) and William of Normandy (Edward’s cousin) fought a huge battle to decide who was to be the rightful king of England. The battle, perhaps the most famous in English history, was of course in Hastings, a small village in the South East of England. So what did this all have to do with Liverpool History?
As he marched into battle at Hastings, Harold Godwinson had already been crowned as the new king. His army was made up of people from all over the country. Before fighting William, Harold had already been in another battle at Stamford bridge in Yorkshire (fighting another claimant to the throne Harald Hardrada The king of Norway and descendent of a older English king) and as the army traveled up and then down the country they would have drafted in men (and women) to help in it.
For most people however, life carried on as normal. Most of the English population (about a million people) would have had no idea a battle for the crown was about to take place and would have just carried on farming their fields as usual.
West Derby had several Hawk Aeries (places for training Hawks to hunt and catch food) and people with hawks were known to be in Harold’s army at the time.
The Domesday book records there being 128 ‘cottages’ in the area we today call Liverpool, but there are lots of reasons why this may not be an exact number. (People lied about things to avoid paying taxes basically!)
Roughly 1 in every 5 cottages was required to send a man to do his service for a few months in the kings army. This service in the army was known as fyrd, and people from the Liverpool area would have been drafted into the army especially, as a huge battle was looming.
With 128 cottages (128 / 5 = 25) this means that there could have been 25 or so ‘scousers’ fighting in the battle of Hastings!
It is impossible to know exactly how many because although a lot was recorded in the Domesday book, an awful lot was left out or is hard to interpret, but it could just be that some of your Liverpool ancestors fought in the Battle of Hastings.
In 1086 the new King, William of Normandy, ordered his men to survey and record the new land that he had conquered. The king sent his officials out across the country to write down a huge list of every person, household and even livestock (animals) that they found. The list eventually became a huge book called the Domesday book.
The actual pages of the book were made from Sheepskin, 900 of them. The skins were washed and scraped to remove the animal hair and then stretched out to make a parchment. The book was written in Latin using a goose feather quill, probably by one single Monk in Winchester Cathedral!
Each area visited was known as a ‘hide’ this was roughly the area of land needed to support a family on a small farm. An area of 100 hides was known as a ‘hundred’.
When King William’s officials visited this area in 1086 they didn’t come to an area called ‘Liverpool’. This was the name given to a small fishing area near the river Mersey (a tiny village of a few wooden huts probably). Instead, the king’s men came to the ‘West Derby Hundred’. This area covered roughly what we now call the whole of Merseyside.
The book would allow him to collect taxes from everyone in the country more accurately. Domesday means ‘judgement day’ and William used it to understand more about the land he had just conquered and learn where to build more castles to keep the population under control.
The problem in collecting the information was that William’s men spoke Norman-French whilst the English spoke ‘Old English’ (Anglo-Saxon). The English would never had had anyone ask them questions before and were also fearful of having to pay more taxes on what little they had.
West Derby Castle
After 1066, King William asked his Norman Barons (rich knights) to control England for him. One of these Barons was Roger de Poitou who was given Liverpool and Manchester to look after. In 1100 Roger de Poitou built a Motte and Bailey Castle in West Derby for his knights to live in.
west derby castle was made of two parts. The Motte was a raised hill (earthwork) with a wooden fort at the top. The highup Motte fort would have given Roger’s knights a great view of the surrounding area. The ‘Bailey’ was the lower part. A courtyard where peasants and animals would be kept.
west derby castle was surrounded by a water Moat with a drawbridge connecting the castle to the surrounding land. Being wooden, these castles were quick to build, especially in West Derby, which had a huge forest (a great source of wood). Documents from 1213 show 140 soliders, 10 knights and 10 crossbow men lived at the castle.
A west derby castle ‘shopping list’ from 1213 shows the knights spent £30 on wheat and oats, meat, salt and £170 on castle repairs. After the founding of the town of ‘Liverpool’ in 1207 people started to move from West Derby towards what is now the city centre. west derby castle was abandoned by 1297 and was reported to be in ruins by 1327. The earthwork mound was at the site was leveled in 1817.
Today names like Castleview Road, Castlesite Road, The Armoury and Castle Keep – are all reminders of where west derby castle used to be.
King John’s 1207 Charter
On the 28th August 1207 King John decided to make Liverpool an official town and gave it a Royal Charter.
Liverpool was known by lots of different names because not many people could write and there was little common way of spelling the area’s name. Liverpool was know in the middle ages as either Lyrpul, Litherpul, Ly’rpole, Lyverpool, Lyverpol, Lurpole, Liverpol, Liuerpul, or Leverpool.
In 1207 Liverpool was still only a tiny village made up of seven streets in this area. Many of these streets survive today; They were Dale Street, Castle Street, Chapel Street, Moor Street (now Tithebarn Street), Bancke Street (now Water Street), Peppard Street (Old Hall Street) and Juggler Street (High Street).
Whereas in the past everything there belonged to the King, the Charter gave them more freedom in the things they bought and sold, and generally improved their lives.
King John invited people to come and live in the area as they could now rent a house and a piece of land to grow things. The Charter allowed people to have a weekly market and gradually more people with skills and trades came to settle in the area.
A court was set up to help people sort out problems, and a ferry to take people across the River Mersey.
The King also built a new castle at the highest point in area (what is now Castle Street) and brought his soldiers from West Derby Castle to live there. The English had recently conquered Ireland and King John needed another port to send men and supplies across the Irish Sea.
King John is usually shown as the nasty ruler of the Robin Hood stories, but he did a lot for Liverpool and also the whole country with the signing of the Magna Carta. The first ever time a King agreed to play by a set of rules.
The Liverpool medieval feudal system was based around a hierarchy that determined who was in charge of who across the entire land.
At the top of the medieval feudal system was the King. He gave lands over to his Barons (rich noblemen), the Barons in turn gave land to the knights (the tough guys), in return for protection and military service. Finally the knights gave land to the peasant farmers in exchange for food.
Bottom of the heap in the feudal system were the peasants were also known as serfs or villeins. Because of the villeins low status the term ended up being used today to mean villain (a bad person). The villeins life was a bad one, working six days a week and probably dying by the time they were 30.
Most peasants were little more than slaves. They could only keep a small portion of what they grew, they also had to ask the local Baron for permission to leave the manor or to even marry someone!
The more skilled peasants were known as ‘freemen’ and could work as craftsmen, carpenters, bakers, blacksmiths and so on. They were also known as ‘journeymen’ and could travel from town to town selling their wares.
Like most of the country, scouse villiens were mostly farmers and craftsmen, but a lot were fishermen.
Liverpool was a busy little trading area at this time and King Edward II visited Liverpool Castle in 1323. It was becoming an important port for war ships fighting the Irish and the Scottish. Liverpool was also a major port for importing French Wine.
In 1229 medieval feudal Liverpool had its first ‘guild’. This was a group of traders that acted as a ‘quality control’ on other craftsmen in the area. The guild would make sure that people were making things to an agreed quality. Craftsmen paid to be part of the guild, but it also provided help for them and sick pay to its members.
At about 12 years of age you could be being trained as an apprentice by a guild member. You would spend several years learning a particular trade. When you completed your training you became an independent journeyman.
When a journeyman was good enough to create items that the guild approved of then he would be allowed to become a guild-maker himself and sell things at the local market.
Far from a backwater hovel, medieval Liverpool was a thriving port full of exciting food and drink from around the world. Providing you were clever enough not to end up a plague-ridden peasant you would have probably really enjoyed life!
During the early 1300s there was a lot of climate change with many years of cold wet weather that caused crop failure and famine. As if things could not get worse, in 1348 a deadly plague from China known as the black death spread across Europe. Half the population – about 150 million people – were killed.
The black death killed people within a week. Their bodies became covered in black lumps which gave the disease it’s name. In the summer of 1349 the black death reached Liverpool.The Liverpool area at this time had a population of about 1000 people. The dirty streets would have been like an open toilet, but with added rubbish, dead animals and food waste. Liverpool did not receive its first street pavements until 1328.
At the time no one knew what the disease was or how to cure it. Cures included washing in vinegar, rubbing the wounds with a live chicken and drinking your own wee. Plague doctors wore bird-like masks with large beaks stuffed with flowers, herbs, spices to disguise the smell.
People believed the liverpool black death plague was a punishment from god, and the official advice from the Latin church was to ‘Cito, Longe, Tarde’. which meant Leave quickly, go far away and come back slowly.’ There were also huge problems with crime and poverty at this time. Walton Churchyard was said to be full of plague victims and in 1360 they started burying people in St. Nicholas’s Churchyard near the river front. The plague died down a little over the late 1300’s but still killed many 100,000’s over the next several hundred years.
Whole fields would be left unploughed and many were killed not only by plague, but also by starvation.
One benefit of the plague is that due to the huge shortage of people, working peasants had more say in where they worked and how much they would be paid. They also believed that god had saved them.
Molyneux Stanley families
The plague hit Liverpool badly. During the late 1300s and early 1400s it entered a period of lawlessness and poverty. The Stanley family, descended from Norman Nobility, were rulers in the Isle of Mann.
The Lathom family had also been rich landowners since Norman times and owned much of what is now Knowsley.
John Stanley mets Isabel Lathom (daughter of wealthy landowners) at a jousting tournament held by King Edward III.
John triumphed at the tournament beating the dreaded French Admiral of Hainault and was knighted by the King. Soon afterwards John Stanley married Isabel Lathom and John inherited her land and wealth.
Things could have turned out differently for John Stanley, as Isabel’s father Sir Thomas Lathom was believed to have found a child one day whilst walking in woodland and this child should have rightfully inherited the family fortune.
The child, which was said to have been protected by an Eagle, was named ‘Oskatel’ (meaning foundling).
On his deathbed Sir Thomas decided to give most of his land over to Isabel and not Oskatel. Today many pubs in the north west are called The Eagle and Child.
For protection, one of Liverpool’s most important noblemen Sir John Stanley (the lord of the Isle of Mann) built a huge fort-tower in Water Street in 1406. Very close to the existing Liverpool Castle. The tower gave the Stanley family protection to sail back and forth to the Isle of Mann.
The Molyneux family descended from William de Molines who came over with William in the Norman Conquests – Their name means ‘Mill’ and was gradually changed to Molyneux as they integrated with the English people.
The family ended up owning areas to the north of Liverpool (now Sefton) but made their family home in St Helens (before later moving to Croxteth Hall) Their family crest is the now familiar Cross Moline.
In 1421 Richard Molyneux was allowed to live with his soliders at Liverpool Castle. An arrow shot away from the Stanley Family’s tower. In 1424 a violent feud broke out between Thomas Stanley and Sir Richard Molyneux.
Richard Molyneux marched on Stanley tower with 1,000 men ready to do battle with the Stanleys. The Stanleys were waiting in the tower with double the men – some 2000 waiting for the attack.
Before a scouse civil-war broke out the Sheriff was called in and eventually an order from King Henry VI told them to ‘calm-down’ (more or less).
The feud between John Stanley and Richard Molynuex was soon over and before you know it their son and grand-daughter are married and lived happily every after.
Since 1066 the rulers of England and France were very much two of the same thing. The French noblemen who came over here soon considered themselves to be English, but they still controlled lands back in France.
When the French King Charles IV died in 1328 without any male heir, England’s 15 year old King Edward III claimed France as his own. As he was King Charles’s sister was also Edward’s mother. However, Charles’s French cousin Phillip had other ideas.
This is when the 100 Years War started.
The 100 Years War was really a series of separate battles from 1337 to 1453. The English won most of the battles and at one point England ruled over half of France, but by the end it was all French again.
The key to the English victories was the use of the longbow. A much more powerful weapon than the French crossbow, it could reach further and be reloaded much quicker, firing 15 arrows a minute.
Liverpool’s Molyneux family, and men from this area, fought across France with the 16 year old ‘Black Prince’. The Black Prince got his name from the black armour he wore and also for his brutal and fearsome reputation. In one French town he ordered the slaughter of 3000 peasants.
On 25th October 1415 perhaps the most famous battle of the French wars took place at Agincourt. English King Henry V with about 6000 men (mostly longbow archers on foot) met with up to 30,000 French (many on horseback).
Tired and hungry, Henry’s army were actually heading back home to England when the French army blocked their path. The Agincourt battle field was thick with mud and the French knights wore very heavy, thick armor making it very hard for them to move.
Agincourt was a disaster for the French, they had too many men at the battle and simply could not move. Stuck in one place the English archers slaughtered them. The English lost 100 men whilst the French lost 10,000.
Although they were Rivals at home in Liverpool, both Richard Molyneux and John Stanley were united on the Agincourt battlefield. After the victory both Molyneux and Stanley were knighted by King Henry V.
Richard Moyneux was also given Croxteth and Toxteth Deer Parks as his own private hunting gardens.
The Molyneux and Stanley’s took their own Liverpool men with them to fight at Agincourt. These could have been your ancestors.
It took the ‘magic’ of Joan of Arc (a peasant girl burnt to death by the English) to inspire the French to later victory. Her death helped the French to have more belief in themselves, a national pride that eventually forced the English armies out of France, and thus ending the 100 years war.
The war of the roses was a battle between two rival royal families to determine who should be king of England.
On one side was the House of Lancaster (with a red rose as their symbol) and on the other, the House of York (with a white rose as their symbol).
The conflict started when the ruling Lancastrian King Henry VI became mentally ill and was blamed for losing the French lands during the 100 years war.
The first conflict took place in 1455 resulting in King Henry VI being captured and the winning Richard Duke of York declared ‘Lord Protector’ of England (sort of a stand-in king). The nursery rhyme ‘Grand old Duke of York’ is supposed to be about him!
By 1460 the crown is back in Lancastrian hands when The Duke of York is killed in another battle. His head is placed on a spike in York itself.
A series of battles take place over the next 20 years with the crown criss-crossing between the houses of York and Lancaster many times. By 1483 it is next due to Edward V a 12 year old prince, he was being looked after by his uncle Richard.
The Liverpool connection when Thomas Stanley, from Liverpool Tower, is given a job by Richard to guard the prince (and his brother) at the Tower of London.
In a bid to secure the crown for himself, it is rumoured that Richard (presumably with Stanley’s help) killed the two young princes. They disappeared from the Tower of London in 1483. Hundreds of years later their two skeletons were found hidden in the tower walls.
Richard III became king and invited Thomas Stanley and his army of men (many who would have been from the Liverpool area) to the next roses battle at Bosworth field against Henry Tudor.
Whilst the Battle of Bosworth battle raged, Stanley and his band of scouse soldiers stood on the sidelines watching ‘their side’ getting beat.
At the last minute Stanley decides to fight on the side of Henry Tudor and sends his men in to fight their own king. Richard III cried out “Trechery” at being double-crossed.
Lord Stanley and is merry band of scouse men find the crown of the dead king Richard III under a hawthorn bush at bosworth field and placed it on Henry Tudor’s head to crown him the new king.
The new king Henry VII gave Stanley the title of Earl of Derby after the Battle of Bosworth. This refers to the ‘Hundred of West Derby’ and in later years the Stanley family settle at what is now Knowsley Hall.
In 1625 Charles I became king. He believed in the Divine Right of Kings (believing he was a representative of God) so decided to rule without a Parliament.
He had also married a French catholic queen which angered parliament, as they were protestants, and many puritans (very strict ‘no-frills’ protestants)
Having no parliament to provide him with money, the king introduced new taxes which people hated.
Charles started to have many arguments with parliament. They tried to pass new laws to reduce the kings powers and give greater control to themselves. Parliament was also concerned the country could become catholic again.
On 4th January 1642 Charles I burst into the House of Commons with 400 soldiers to arrest five Members of Parliament he accused of treason. But they were warned in advance and fled the scene before the king got there.
A few months later, a civil war broke out between the Roundheads (supporters of Parliament – mostly from the south) and the Cavaliers (supporters of the king – mostly from the north).
For the next few years, Charles and his ‘Royalists’ won most of their battles, so parliament (led by Oliver Cromwell) had to think of a new plan…
In 1645 Cromwell created the ‘new model army’, a fighting group made up, and led by everyday people, regardless of how rich or aristocratic they were.
Parliament’s new model army became the country’s first ever uniformed army, wearing red coats and ‘lobster pot’ helmets to help protect their head, neck and face. They were known as roundheads due to their shaven heads.
During one battle, king Charles escaped from the roundheads by hiding up an oak tree. Today many pubs are called ‘the royal oak’ because of this.
In 1646 the king gave himself up to parliament, battles still continued and eventually parliament put the king himself on trial and he was sentenced to death on a cold January morning in 1649.
England was then ruled by Parliament with Oliver Cromwell given the title of ‘lord protector’ of England. History has considered him both a hero and a villain.
Cromwell was a strict puritan, leading a pure and simple life. He banned lots of things people enjoyed like pubs, theatres, football, make-up and even Christmas!
People became sick of Cromwell’s rule and after his death the son of King Charles I was invited back to become the new king Charles II. Known as the restoration of the monarchy. The dead Cromwell’s body was later dug up, put to trial and hanged.
Charles II became known as the Merry Monarch because he gave people back many of the freedoms that Cromwell had taken away.
The English civil war was responsible for 250,000 deaths. 10% of the population, a bigger percentage than any other war before or since.
At the start of the civil war, Liverpool was under control of the crown. The ruling molyneux and Stanley families having royal connections.
in the early parts of the war, battles took place around Manchester and Wigan with parliament gaining control.
The Liverpool royalists took up positions at the east. In the high up area by childwall church, where the any advancing armies could be spotted.
Today, there is an area by the church known as ‘bloody acre field’ – a small field which has remained untouched since civil war times.
Never recorded in history, it is thought that a civil war battle took place here. In years since, cannon balls have been found in the area and many people believe this part of Liverpool to be haunted.
Whatever happened at childwall, it was not enough to stop a 1000 strong army of ‘roundhead’ parliament forces mostly from Manchester marching on liverpool castle, and many more arriving via boat from the Mersey.
The parliament army killed 80 scouse royalists, took 300 prisoner and gained control of Liverpool castle in April 1643. The molyneux family and other royalists fled to high up land around Everton for protection.
to protect themselves from royalist attack, The roundhead army built a huge mud TRENCH – 10 meters wide and 3 meters deep across the length of what is now dale street right down to the riverfront.
with an arsenal of cannons pointing out towards the east (the lime street area today) the parliament roundheads sat and waited for the royalists to attack. the siege of Liverpool was about to begin.
The Siege of Liverpool
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History – The Siege of Liverpool page.
It is June 1644, during the English civil war (between the royal king and parliament) Liverpool was seen by both armies as part of the important trade route with Ireland.
parliament’s roundhead army lead by Oliver Cromwell have taken over Liverpool castle waiting for the next royalist cavalier attack.
Enter prince Rupert of the rhine (part of Germany). A popular, dashing and adventurous young royalist leader.
Prince Rupert arrived at Liverpool with an army of 10,000 men and also his pet dog and monkey.
His dog (called boye) was thought to have magical powers. He could sniff out buried treasure and catch bullets in his mouth.
Rupert’s monkey was thought to be a ‘shape-shifter’ and could disguise itself and even turn invisible to spy on the enemy.
On arriving at Liverpool Rupert camped his men along what is now everton brow, right down to lime street. Allowing him to look down upon the roundheads at Liverpool castle near the river.
Prince Rupert opened a barrage of cannonfire at night and this led to many days of fighting between the parliament roundheads and royalist cavillers. Known as the Civil War Siege of Liverpool.
The scouse ‘royalist’ molyneux family helped Rupert be smuggling secret information to him about the layout of the town, and before long, Rupert’s men took over Liverpool castle.
Prince Rupert’s men then set about torching the town and wrecking the castle, stealing much of its gold and treasure. King John’s original liverbird ‘seal’ was lost during this siege of Liverpool.
The treasure Rupert stolen was buried in tunnels under the everton district and never seen again. The tunnels still remain, and the stolen treasure still thought to be buried there.
During the siege of Liverpool, prince Rupert, his dog and monkey all lived at a cottage up on everton brow, nearby where the everton ‘tower’ (prince rupert’s tower) stands today.
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History – Liverpool Privateers page.
Pirates existed in Liverpool in the 1700s, but not the type shown in modern day Disney films. They flew the British Flag above their ship and not the Jolly Roger.
These pirates were known as Privateers and were employed (to attack and steal from other ships) by the government.
The Liverpool Privateers were given a document called a Letter of Marquee from the High Admiralty to officially be employed to go out and attack ships from countries that Britain was at war with.
Liverpool along with London and Bristol was the main port of Privateers set sail from to plunder the seven seas.
The Privateers had huge industrial sailing ships equipped with 20-30 cannons on them and often over 100 men. Many ships were old navy warships left over from the wars against the Spanish Armada.
The Privateers gave their ships fearsome names like The Terrible, The Vulture, The Revenge, The Wasp and the Wheel of Fortune.
100s of ships would leave Liverpool each year and it is thought that everyone in the town was connected to Privateering in some way. You either worked on the ships, fixed them, loaded and unload them or someone in your family did.
Liverpool Privateers plundered literally millions of pounds worth of spices, tobacco, cotton, rum, cocoa, coffee and ivory from other ships. Not to mention the gold and jewels.
If you were brave enough a fortune could be robbed at sea. It was privateering and not slavery that Liverpool made its name on (either way, its still not something to be particularly proud of!)
The Liverpool Privateers were the real Pirates of the Caribbean, but they were mostly wealthy businessmen, like William Hutchinson, with not a parrot or eye-patch in sight.
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History – Liverpool Slave Trade page.
By 1700, Liverpool was a growing port and over the next 100 years it was transformed into the most important shipping and trade centre in the world.
Since the late 1600s Liverpool had started importing the newly discovered tobacco back from America. More and more shipping merchants move to Liverpool to seek their fortune.
In 1715 the world’s first ‘gated dock’ a lockable area was built. It kept ships afloat after the tide had gone out and allowed goods to be loaded and unloaded easier.
Around the same time a canal is created to link Liverpool and Manchester, and a ‘turnpike’ (toll) road created between Liverpool, Prescot and Warrington. (Now the A57 road eastwards out of the city – London Road, Kensington, East Prescot Road, Liverpool Road)
All the pieces were now in place to allow the whole of Northern England to start trading with the newly discovered America. The ‘Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool’ is about to begin.
How the Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool worked:
Liverpool to West Africa – Ships carried goods from Northern England out to Africa. Cotton material from Manchester, jewellery from Lancashire, knives and steel from Sheffield and Pottery from Stoke. These goods where then sold to African Chiefs in exchange for captured Africans.
Note that the slave trade in Africa had been long practiced by Muslim Slave Traders for 100s of years and they took far more people from Africa over a much longer period than any European traders did.
West Africa to America – The enslaved Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and North and South America to work as unpaid slaves. The journey usually took six to eight weeks. Conditions on-board were terrible and many died.
America to Liverpool – Before returning back to Liverpool, the traders stocked up with new and exciting things like sugar, coffee, cocoa, raw cotton and tobacco to bring back to home. No actual Slaves were ever bought or sold in Liverpool.
Liverpool played a huge part in the Slave Trade Triangle, but it did not play as big a part in Liverpool’s own history. It is thought only 10-30% of the ships leaving Liverpool during the period were actually destined for Africa.
By the end of the 1700s Liverpool lead the way to abolish the African slave trade. It took the courage of Liverpool politician William Roscoe to stand up and call for an end to British ships involvement with it.
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History – Georgian Liverpool page.
By 1720 the old ‘pool’ in Liverpool (A huge pond stretching across the town centre) was filled in. The area changed rapidly and became almost unrecognisable over the next 100 .
The 1700s are generally known as the Georgian Period (after King George.) The years saw huge change for the country and Liverpool in particular.
During the period, Liverpool’s population grew from 5,000 in 1700 to 80,000 in 1800. Huge brick mansions were built up across the town as a new ‘middle class’ of wealthy, but not super-rich, people grew. Most of these people made their money from the shipping industry.
For most living through Georgian Liverpool History, their lives improved dramatically. People were richer, with access to food and drink their grandparents had simply never heard of. New gadgets and machines are springing up everywhere.
For the poorest, however, Georgian Liverpool was still hard and many, including children, died from drinking gin (a strong alcoholic drink). Many drank gin because it was cleaner than the water.
For the wealthy, tooth decay was their biggest problem. This was caused by the huge amounts of sugar they could now eat. (arriving in Liverpool ports from the West Indies) If you could afford it, you could have false teeth made from ivory or even from the teeth of dead soldiers.
The abundance of sugar lead to Molly Bushell opening up a toffee shop next to Prince Rupert’s Tower in Everton. She is remembered today as the Everton Toffeelady, who throws toffees into the crowd before matches.
In 1704 imported 760 tons of sugar, by the end of the century this had increased to a teeth-shattering 46,000 tons.
With so much sugar, it was probably no coincidence that a Liverpool doctor, Matthew Dobson, who first discovered the link between sugar and diabetes in 1776.
Liverpool did a lot to helps the less fortunate. During the period and gave away free medicines to people, set up the Blue Coat school for the poor and even the world’s first school for the blind.
Georgian Liverpool was an exciting place to be, and if that wasn’t enough, you could now get to London by horse-drawn coach in a record-breaking 4-days!
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History Railways page
By 1830, The Industrial Revolution was well under way. Britain was the most important country in the world. Queen Victoria would not sit on the throne for another 7 years, but it is now that the Victorian Era began with the birth of the Railways.
Robert Stephenson’s Rocket train won the Rainhill trials. A Competition to see which new steam powered train would run on the newly built Liverpool – Manchester train line.
Experiments with steam powered movement had been happening for the past 50 years and the Liverpool Railway was not the first to carry passengers, it was however the first steam-powered twin line railway to carry passengers, and as a result the modern railway system started here in Liverpool.
in September 1830 people gathered in Liverpool to see the Rocket’s first ever passenger train journey to Manchester.
The crowds were huge with thousands of people trying to catch a glance of this incredible new invention.
At one point local Liverpool MP William Huskinsson accidentally fell onto the line and was crushed by the oncoming Rocket train. William Huskinsson died from his injuries and as a result goes down in history as the first person to be killed by a passenger train.
Other Liverpool railway first include Edge Hill the world’s first train station. Liverpool also had the world’s first underground train tunnel.
Before arriving into Lime Street, passengers would have to jump off at edge hill and have their trains pulled down by ropes to complete the last part of the journey into Lime Street through the tunnel. On arriving at Lime Street Station people were greeted by the world’s largest iron-roofed building.
The lines, tracks and tunnels have changed slightly over the years, but most of the journey from Manchester to Liverpool today is along the same route as Stephenson’s Rocket in 1830.
The railways transformed England and the world perhaps more than any other invention in history.
Before them, a horse-drawn coach would take 4 days to travel from Liverpool to London, by train it could take just 4 hours.
Railways provided a much cheaper and faster method of transporting goods than canals did and fresh food from the countryside could reach people in cities within hours.
The railways meant that for the first time people could travel about the country and work in different places easily. People went on holidays for the first time in places like Blackpool, which became hugely popular.
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History Football page
The earliest reference to people playing football in England was in the 800s. Back then the game back then would involve 100s of people taking part trying to get the ball from one village to another.
In the city of Derby the games between two rival villages would turn very violent with many people being killed. It is from this city that the phrase ‘local derby match’ comes.
Football gained popularity in Medieval times and even Henry VIII was known to own a pair of football boots
The Victorian invention of the railways allowed football teams and fans to travel across the country to play each other, and quickly the idea of founding a football league was born.
In 1865 a group of men from St. Domingo Methodist Chapel in Breckfield Road North, Liverpool decided to form a football team. This is where Everton Football History begins.
By 1878 the team had changed its name to Everton after the district they came from, later they used the nearby Prince Rupert’s Tower (an old jail named after the civil war legend) as their badge emblem.
Everton FC originally played in the open air at Stanley Park but within a couple of years they were playing to upto 20,000 people in a new purpose built stadium at Anfield.
The owner of Anfield John Houlding was a brewer of beer and the Everton team (mostly strict ‘teetotal’ Methodists) disapproved of this and accused Houlding of just using the team as a means of selling Beer at matches.
Everton FC soon left the Anfield ground to go and play at Mere Green field in Walton. By 1892 they had built a new stadium named Goodison Park there.
John Houlding was now stuck with an Anfield stadium and no team to play in it, so he quickly set a new team up and called it Liverpool. With few local players to choose from, Liverpool bought in a team of players from Scotland to create the team and for their first four years actually played in Blue!
On 22nd April 1893 the first Everton V Liverpool ‘Derby’ match took place. 10,000 people watched Liverpool win 1-0. The season after however, Liverpool were relegated!
The expansion of the railways and the huge amounts of people working in northern cities, led to a huge explosion of football in late Victorian times. To illustrate just how quickly football’s popularity developed, in 1872 the first FA Cup final was watched by just 2000 people but by 1901 there were 110,000 watching it (or trying to!).
Everton first won the league in 1890, Liverpool in 1900 and from then on both teams dominated English football and if you know your history, it’s enough to make your heart go…
The Poor in Victorian Liverpool
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History Poor in Victorian Liverpool page
When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Liverpool’s population stood at about 160,000 people. By the time the Queen died, it had increased to almost 700,000.
Most of this increase came from people moving from old farming villages to the city to seek their fortune. The increase in people had a terrible effect on the poorest in the city.
Most of Liverpool’s Victorian poor population lived in the crowded slums of the Everton district. A maze of long uphill streets and courtyards.
Often a whole family would live and sleep in one room. Consider also that a typical Victorian poor family could have 10 children! Any spare room in a house would usually be rented out to someone else to bring much needed money in.
Many would have escaped this hardship each day by working as domestic servants for the rich. This was one of the most common jobs during the Victorian period.
Victorian poor children worked in the cities factories, working around dangerous machinery. Many worked as chimney sweeps as they were small enough to fit up the chimneys.
Many adults died due to the terrible conditions and as a result their children would have to live in orphanages.
In 1832 there was an outbreak of cholera in Liverpool. Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria in drinking water that causes terrible sickness.
The Liverpool Cholera epidemic caused riots in the worse effected areas as people felt the authorities were doing nothing to help. Many also believed the Cholera victims were killed to stop the disease spreading rather than actually treated.
The Liverpool Cholera epidemic of 1832 killed 1500 people. It was believed to have started in India and spread into Liverpool from the shipping port.
In 1847 immigrants from the Irish potato famine reached their peak with a further 300,000 people arriving in Liverpool to escape starvation in Ireland.
The 1851 census shows that a quarter of Liverpool’s Victorian poor population had been born in Ireland. They, along with the many Welsh people who came here helped to create our ‘scouse’ accent.
One Irish lady helped to create the country’s first public baths and laundry in Liverpool. Her name was Kitty Wilkinson. The baths allowed people to wash properly and use chlorine bleach (made from lime and salt) to clean themselves and their clothes. The baths saved 1000s of lives.
Victorian poverty in Liverpool lasted way into the 20th century. Huge new housing estates were built in the 1930s but it wasn’t until the 1960s that people finally moved out of the slum districts of Everton, which were sadly all torn down.
The Rich in Victorian Liverpool
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History Rich in Victorian Liverpool page
In Victorian times, 100,000s of people came to Liverpool to work, it was one of the most powerful and wealthiest cities in the world, and the most densely populated area in the country.
If you were rich enough however, and lots were, you could have escaped the inner city slums and lived in one of the many mansion houses that were built during this period.
Liverpool boasts some of the finest Victorian architecture in the world, a reflection of just how rich it used to be.
Architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes was just 23 years old when he designed St George’s Hall as a concert hall for Liverpool’s wealthy upper classes. There is an urban myth that St George’s Hall was built back-to-front and that on discovering this, the architect killed himself in horror!
This is not true. People today think the Hall steps should come out onto the gardens, but the truth is that those gardens were not there when the Hall was built. Originally there was a graveyard for the nearby church (St John’s) there and St George’s Hall naturally faces away from this.
In 1858 people would have seen Charles Dickens give readings of his novels including a Christmas Carol at St George’s hall. Much of the novel was inspired by his many visits to Liverpool.
Charles Dickens used to walk around Liverpool a lot at night to get ideas for his novels. At one point he worked as an undercover policeman to enable him to get a closer look into the darker side of Liverpool Victorian Life.
Those wealthy enough to do so may have enjoyed watching the Grand National horse race which started in Liverpool around 1836.
The first winner was a horse called The Duke ridden by Martin Becher. The fence Becher’s Brook is named after him and is where he fell in the next year’s race.
The William Brown Street library opened in 1857, but at this time only about half the population could actually read! We know this from studying ‘signatures’ (or lack of) on people’s marriage certificates. Many people could only write an ‘X’ for their name.
Many wealthy Victorians put a lot of their money back into the society around them and built huge parks, monuments and statues. Sefton Palm House, Picton Clock Tower, Princes Park are examples of this.
Outside of Westminster, London. Liverpool has more public art works than anywhere else in the country and we owe this to the generous Victorians.
Many people made huge sums of money in Liverpool during Victorian times, wealth unimaginable today. With this money they did huge amounts of charity work and improved the lives of thousands of poorer people.
People like William Rathbone, James Picton, Charles Booth, Joseph Williamson and Alexander Balfour were known as philanthropists and gave lots of their fortunes away to the needy.
Hitler in Liverpool
Click image to read a cartoon version of this Liverpool Hitlers text at the main Liverpool History Hitler in Liverpool page.
dolf Hitler had a half-brother Alois. Like Adolf, Alois had a bad reputation and was imprisoned several times for theft. On leaving prison in 1909 he moved to Ireland where he met his future wife Bridget Dowling.
Like many people from Ireland, Alois and Bridget moved to Liverpool. They lived at 102 Upper Stanhope Street in Toxteth.
Alois worked in Liverpool as a waiter. German waiters were common in Britain at this time, so much so that British soldiers shouted “Waiter” over the trenches at Germans during World War One.
The 1911 Census shows Alois was referred to as Anton Hitler and he had a son (written as ‘sohn’ on the census), suggesting that Alois wrote this himself. The census also shows he worked at the Jewish-owned Lyons Café in Toxteth.
This leads us to wonder if Alois shared the same chilling views of Jewish people as his half-brother Adolf would later adopt?
In November 1912 Alois invited some of his family from Austria over to visit him in Liverpool and this is when half-brother Adolf arrived.
Adolf was thought to be escaping Austria because, ironically, he didn’t want to be drafted into the Austrian army.
An out-of work painter, Adolf decided to live with them. He may have been aware that Liverpool had a reputation for artists and art schools.
Adolf Hitler was rejected from Art schools across Austria, which supports the idea
that he travelled to Liverpool to study. He spoke little English and spent most nights wandering the streets of Liverpool alone.
It is thought that Bridget not only advised Adolf to shave off the sides of his moustache, but that she also introduced him to Astrology which he later became fascinated with. Lots of Hitler’s later war decisions would be based on astrology and fortune readings.
Adolf is thought to have lived in Liverpool until April 1913 when he returned to Austria, his half-brother Alois was sick of living with him and bought him the ticket to leave!
Soon after, Alois left his wife Bridget and returned to Germany. She took their scouse son William Hitler and went to live in America.
William Hitler changed his name to Houston and joined the Army to fight against his Uncle Adolf!
The Hitlers’ old Liverpool home was ironically destroyed by German bombers in January 1942.
We know about Hitler’s visit due to the diaries of Bridget Hitler, who wrote all about his visit. Although some people believe Bridget could have invented the story of Adolf’s Liverpool adventure.
Much of the ‘Hitler in Liverpool’ story is clouded in mystery. This stems from the fact that after the horrors of the war, many of Hitler’s relatives changed their names to avoid being associated with him. This has made it difficult to establish true facts about him.
Some unsupported tales are that Hitler applied to study Art at Liverpool (and was rejected), was banned from the Walker art Gallery, drank in Peter Kavanagh’s Pub, worked in the Adelphi and watched Everton.
Another tale is that Hitler loved the Liver Building so much that he ordered his Luftwaffe bombers not to destroy it during the Blitz bombings.
The Liverpool Blitz
Click image to read a cartoon version of this text at the main Liverpool History of the Blitz page.
Outside of London, Liverpool was the most bombed area of the country. The bombing was known as The Blitz from the German word Blitzkrieg meaning lightning war.
The bombing was designed to destroy Britain and demoralise us into surrendering. It didn’t, and the people’s fight would be later called the spirit of the blitz.
Liverpool was attacked because it had a huge port which brought much needed food, fuel, weapons and raw materials into the country.
Without the Liverpool port in a working state, Britain may not have won the war and therefore Hitler was out to destroy the city.
Liverpool was also the main link with America who eventually sent troops over to help win the war.
It is thought some 4000 people died in Liverpool during the Blitz, with 100,000s left homeless.
The bombing started on 28th August 1940 when 160 German bombers attacked Liverpool. Bombing continued over 1940.
After a brief lull, 1st May 1941 saw a renewed German attack with a whole week of continual bombing of the whole city.
At one point during the Liverpool May blitz a fleet of almost 700 bombers attacked the city.
The bombers attacked at night, so people were instructed to use thick black curtains and use very little lighting. The streets and city buildings would be in total darkness, so not to be spotted from air.
The amount of damage Liverpool suffered was mostly hidden from the radio and newspapers at the time for fears it would scare and demoralise other British people.
The signs of the Blitz are still here today. Many parts of Liverpool have been left untouched since the bombings. Most notably St Luke’s, the ‘Bombed-Out Church’ on Berry Street.
The Liverpool war-effort affected everyone in the city. Many factories and warehouses turned to creating bombs and other war ammunition.
The 10th January 1942 saw the last air-raid on Liverpool. It is on this night that The German Luftwaffe bombed the house on 102 Upper Stanhope Street where Hitler himself once lived.
Germany then turned towards fighting Russia and people started the huge job of clearing up the destruction left behind by the bombings.
The sites of many bombed buildings were cleared, dug over and then used as allotment gardens to grow vegetables on. They were known as ‘Victory Gardens’.
The Evacuation of Liverpool
Click image to read a cartoon version of this Liverpool Evacuees text at the main Evacuation of Liverpool page.
As soon as war was declared in September 1939 the government started to move children out of Liverpool and other major UK cities for their safety.
This massive movement, 100,000s of children, was known as evacuation, and code-named “operation pied-piper.”
The basic idea was that, even if millions of adult lives were lost in the fighting and the bombing of cities, the children would be safe in the countryside and would be able to return after the war.
Evacuation was designed to make sure there would be a generation left to live on after the war ended. The government feared the worst and planned ahead for it.
Unlike Liverpool which had an important port and factories, North Wales was not a target for the German army and it was felt Liverpool children would be safe there.
Some children were sent via ship as far as Canada and even Australia and many never returned.
North Wales was not ideal, there was little housing or electricity and lots of people spoke only Welsh.
Most parents understood that if their children were to survive the bombing they were best to leave Liverpool, but some did not and kept the children with them in the city.
Some children did not realise they were going to live somewhere else, with another family or in a boarding school, for many years! Some thought they were just going on a day-trip.
For many scouse children who had grown up in an industrial 1930’s city this was their first smell of clean air and taste of fresh, home-grown country food.
For most, the evacuation was a time of freedom and discovery. Some even learnt to speak fluent Welsh.
Some children, however, found themselves being used as unpaid ‘slaves’ by the people chosen (and paid) to look after them.
It was not until many months after the war had actually ended that the children returned home.
Liverpool was in ruins, but its children and future had been kept alive.
Additional links about the battle of hastings:
The Liverpool Molyneux Family and their battle of hastings connection
BBC History – The Normans
Bayeux Tapesty Website
Basic Overview of the battle of hastings
Complete Overview of battle of hastings
Additional Links about Liverpool Domesday Book
Domesday place names
Open Domesday – See the actual written records for the West Derby Hundred
Mike Royden’s History of West Derby
Additional Links about West Derby Castle
The Gatehouse Keeper – West Derby Castle
Mike Royden’s Liverpool History Pages
British History site about West Derby Castle
Historic Liverpool – West Derby
Liverpool ‘Pipe Rolls’ – Historical records referencing West Derby Castle
Motte and Bailey Castles Link 1
Motte and Bailey Castles Link 2
Additional Links about King John and the 1207 Liverpool Charter
Mike Royden’s History Pages
The story of the lost Liverpool seal
A timeline of King John’s Life
Liverpool 1207 ’700 years’ – set of postcards from 1907
Additional Links about the liverpool plague black death:
Additional Links about the liverpool Stanley & Molyneux families:
Complete History of Liverpool Castle and Stanley – Molynuex feud
Local history group website dedicated to Molyneux family
1824 History of Lancashire – Story of Stanley – Molyneux battle
Richard Molyneux biography
Biography of John Stanley
Story of The Eagle & Child
Stanley family history
Additional Links about the 100 Years War:
Additional Links about the War of the Roses:
History on the net – War of the Roses
Ducksters- War of the Roses basics
Battle of Bosworth
Thomas Stanley at the War of the Roses
Thomas Stanley at the War of the Roses 2
Thomas Stanley at the War of the Roses 3
Thomas Stanley basic biography
Additional links about the English Civil War:
BBC Bitesize – Civil War
History On The Net – Civil War
Battle Of Bosworth Site
Oliver Cromwell Site
Roundheads and the Cavaliers Beliefs
The Siege of Liverpool
Forum Discussion on Civil War in Liverpool
The role of Richard Molyneux in the Civil War
Liverpool Castle during the Civil War
History of Liverpool – Civil War
Excerpt from Haunted Liverpool – Prince Rupert’s Dog
Prince Rupert’s Tower
The Siege of Liverpool
Prince Rupert’s Cottage
Additional Links about Liverpool Privateers
Additional Links about the Liverpool Slave Trade Triangle
Liverpool – Warrington Turnpike Trade Route Map
Understanding the Liverpool Slave Trade
Liverpool Cotton Trade
General facts about slavery
The transatlantic slave trade
Liverpool Slave Trade Abolition
Slave Trade Triangle Liverpool
Additional Links about Georgian Liverpool History:
Additional Links about the Liverpool’s Railway History:
Edge Hill Station – History of the world’s first ever railway station
Edge Hill Station – History of railways
Liverpool Railway History
How the railways created a standardised time
How the railways changed society
Railway Deaths – William Huskinsson
Additional Links about the Liverpool Football History:
Liverpool FC first ever match programme
History of Liverpool Football Club
The Everton Collection – Huge collection of Everton FC History
Report of Liverpool’s first ever match
School’s History – Victorian Football Teaching Resource
History of Liverpool football kits
History of Everton football kits
Additional Links about Victorian Liverpool Poverty:
Hidden Lives of Victorian Poor
Reports on the 1832 Liverpool Cholera Epidemic
Liverpool Victorian Cholera Riots
Interactive lesson on how scouse accent was created
Baths and Wash houses – Kitty Wilkinson History
Kitty Wilkinson – Victorian Health Page
Little Italy – History of Italian Immigration into Victorian Liverpool
Liverpool Welsh Society
Additional links about the rich in Victorian Times:
Victorian Liverpool Monuments Gallery
Charles Dickens in Liverpool
History of Charles Dickens working for Liverpool Police
Charles Dicken’s Victorian Liverpool
Liverpool’s Lost Mansion Houses
Additional links about Hitler Living in Liverpool:
Additional links about the Blitz of Liverpool:
Google map of where (some) bombs hit
Airminded – Week by week reports on the Blitz
Liverpool Remembrance – Comprehensive list of many Liverpool Blitz victims
Liverpool Museums – Blitz Website
Liverpool Battle of The Atlantic Headquarters Museum
Liverpool Blitz at 70 (2011 Commemoration site)
Additional links about the Evacuation of Liverpool WW2: