John Bolton

1756 - 24th Feb 1837

Claimant or beneficiary


Liverpool merchant, slave-trader and slave-owner, leaving £180,000 derived from the slave-economy in 1837. Subject of George Baillie's 'Interesting letters addressed to John Bolton Esq. Of Liverpool, merchant, and Colonel of a regiment of volunteers' (London, J. Gold 1809).

  1. According to George Baillie, Bolton arrived in St Vincent 1773 as apprentice to Messrs Rawlinson & Chorley: 'You carried a bag of potatoes on your back and a cheese under your arm'; then shop assistant in Mr Drinkall's store. Took over shop on Drinkall's death shortly afterwards [pp. 5-6]. Agent for Rawlinson & Chorley, then to St Lucia 1778; Barbados 1779. George Baillie took care of Bolton when sick in Barbados. Bolton back to Liverpool c. 1782-3 with £10000: set up with Thomas Gudgeon, Bolton's 'principal correspondent in the West Indies'. John Bolton was a slave-trader in Liverpool [p. 10]. Bolton hit by collapse of Caldwell & Smyth c. 1793 [p. 12]. George Baillie was a trustee to John Bolton's marriage settlement. Bolton recovered, made known his profits in Liverpool [p. 14], at £38,000-40,000 p.a. Baillie and Bolton intimate in business 1793-1803 [p.15]. Baillie in difficulty Dec. 1803 onwards. Bolton and Case and [J.B.] Aspinall set up a committee of billholders in Liverpool. George Baillie cleared £500,000 of debt 01/01/1804- 01/01/1805. Pamphlet hostile to George Baillie by Simon Cock circulated in West Indies, led to libel suit. George Baillie's partner was John Jaffray. Wolfert Katz (q.v.) paid one of the acceptances drawn on George Baillie [p. 24].

  2. Obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1837. 'Liverpool has lost by the demise of Mr. Bolton one of its most honourable merchants and bountiful benefactors, one who was the ornament of society, a gentleman in mind and manners, who was held in the highest estimation by his friends, whom the poor blessed, and whose memory will long be cherished by all who appreciate worth and benevolence. Mr. Bolton was a native of Ulverston, in the same county. He entered early in life into commercial pursuits, resided for some time in the West Indies, and finally settled in Liverpool where he acquired an almost princely fortune. In 1803, when England was menaced with foreign invasion, Mr. Bolton raised and clothed a corps in Liverpool at his own expense, consisting of 10 companies and 600 men. Mr. Bolton was not less distinguished for his devoted attachment to Conservative principles, than for the goodness of his heart and the extend of his philanthropy. He had a beautiful villa at Storrs, near the Lakes, in Westmorland, where he resided during the summer, and which was the resort of the most distinguished literary and political characters. Mr. Bolton has left numerous legacies; the bulk of his property goes to his widow, and will revert on her death to the Rev. Thomas Staniforth, son of S. Staniforth, esq. of Liverpool. Mr. Bolton presented 2000l. to various charities of Liverpool shortly before his death.'

  3. John Bolton Esquire of Liverpool, bachelor, married Elizabeth Littledale, spinster, in St Marylebone, London, 31/05/1797. Witnesses were Johnson Wilkinson, Mary Littledale, Joseph Littledale and Margaret Osborn.

  4. Merchant of Liverpool, 'heavily involved in the slave-trade'. Left £180,000


T71/887 British Guiana claim nos. 2273 (Waterloo) and 2478. The Transatlantic Slave-Trade Database shows 69 voyages for John Bolton between 1788-1807, many without partners, and several on ships named 'Bolton' and 'John.'

  1. George Baillie, 'Interesting letters addressed to John Bolton Esq. Of Liverpool, merchant, and Colonel of a regiment of volunteers' (London, J. Gold 1809).

  2. Gentleman's Magazine Vol. 161 (April 1837) p. 431.

  3., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online].

  4. W. D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Vol. 1 1809-1839 (2009), 'John Bolton' 1837/47.

Further Information

Elizabeth Littledale
Wealth at death

Associated Claims (3)

£15,391 17S 11D
£7,306 6S 7D
Unsuccessful claimant (Mortgagee)
£8,723 12S 8D

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Senior partner
Bolton & Littledale
West India merchant  

Physical (1)

Country house
Storrs Hall 

Relationships (3)

Deceased Husband → Widow
Brother-in-law → Sister-in-law
Legatee → Testator

Addresses (1)

Storrs Hall, Bowness, Westmorland, Northern England, England