|Administrative / biographical background:
Little is known of Thomas Dixon. His name does not appear in any Liverpool Directory of the late 1780's or early 1790's.
He apparently served on board H.M.S. Agamemnon, for how long is not known, until June 1783 and then sailed on the slave ship Count du Nord in September of the same year. He appears to have sailed as mate under James Penny of Liverpool as captain. Samuel Knipe (see above and 387 MD 62/8 below) also forwarded to Thomas Dixon (Junior) "... a letter addressed to James Penny Esquire Master of the Compte du Nord on board of which your Father was Mate and was then at Mallimba Trading for Slaves: 31st December 1783 ...".
In March 1785 Dixon sailed from Liverpool in the brig Mampookata of which James Penny of Liverpool was the owner. Knipe wrote over 50 years later in 1848 (387 MD 62/8) to Thomas Dixon (Junior) that the Madampockata [sic] was the vessel of which Thomas Dixon (Senior) "... was Master for several Voyages viz in 1786 to 1789". It is not known when Thomas Dixon became more active as a merchant than a seaman or how close was his business relationship with James Penny. Knipe's account reads rather confusingly but it appears that although the Mampookata was later lost at sea, Thomas Dixon, having sold the ship's cargo of slaves in Dominica "... returned home with the proceeds in Bills in [another] Vessel as passenger ...". Knipe writes to Thomas Dixon (Junior) that he is sending "Relicks" of "... a little drama in which your Venerable Father figured as Mate, Master & Merchant; if you have one spark of his Noble bearing they will be prized for his sake ...". Knipe continues, again confusingly, that "... the Writer [Knipe] was twelve years confidentially employed, namely from 1797 to 1808 for his Interest in the Slave Trade his profit shared was £12,000 out of the Concern of Messrs. James Penny & Co. African Merchants, Liverpool. The Management of his Interest in the Vessels was exclusively with me ...". It would appear that "his Interest", "his profit" etc. refer to Thomas Dixon's interests etc.
From the documents listed at 387 MD 62/6, 62/7 (assuming them to relate to Thomas Dixon (Senior) it seems that Thomas Dixon was still active in trade with the West Indies in 1798.
His son, addressed by Knipe as "Thomas Dixon, Esq., Banker, Chester", is listed in the Chester section of the Commercial Directory, 1818-1820 under Dixon and Chilton, Market Place, Chester. Pigot's Directory of Cheshire, Derbyshire etc., 1828, lists the bankers Dixon and Chilton [sic], Northgate Street Chester, also under "Nobility, Gentry and Clergy", Thomas Dixon esq., Littleton Hall. It is possible that the T.H. Dixon mentioned by Gomer Williams (see above) may have been a grandson of the original Thomas Dixon.
James Penny (c.1741 - 1799)
More is known of James Penny but very little about his origins or background. He appears not to have been a native of Liverpool. Rev. Charles W. Bardsley in Chronicles of the Town and Church of Ulverston. 1885, in describing the connections of the Pennys of Penny Bridge with the Machell family, notes on p. 122 that James Machell married in June 1800 "... Anne, eldest daughter of James Penny of Arrad and Liverpool. She was born Jan. 17, 1777 [sic] ...". The register for St. Peter's, Church Street, Liverpool, 1776 - 1792 (283 PET 1/5, p. 11) records "Born 1777 January 12. Ann daur. of James Penny, Mariner, Church Street, Christened February 21, 1777".
The James Penny mentioned in both volumes would appear to be one and the same. According to the Victoria County History, 1907, Vol. 8, p. 357, Arrad was in the township of Mansriggs, Ulverston. It is not known when James Penny came to Liverpool but his marriage took place in Liverpool in 1768. The register of St. Nicholas Church, 1766 - 1771 (283 NIC 3/3, p. 123 and p. 127) records the marriage as having taken place twice - "James Penny of this Parish, Mariner and Ann Cooper of the same Place Spinster ... by Licence" on 18th June 1768 with Margaret Briggs and John Roper as witnesses and again on 28th June 1768 giving exactly the same details but with John and Oliver Cooper as witnesses. Liverpool parish registers subsequently record the baptisms of numerous children of James Penny - in St. Peter's, Church Street, James on 13 November 1772, Benjamin on 3rd July 1775, Ann on 21 February 1777; in St. George's, Derby Square, John on 18th June 1779, Margaret Maria on 23rd August 1781, Mary Margaret on 7th August 1783, Margaret on 20th September 1785, Jane on 8th January 1787, Elizabeth on 14th November 1788 and Margaret on 21st February 1790.
These baptism entries from 1772 to 1783 describe James Penny as "mariner". From 1785 to 1789 he is given as "merchant".
James Penny is listed in the available Gore's Directory of Liverpool for the period as follows:
1772, 1773 Capt. Penny, Church Street
1774 Captain Penny No. 18, Old Church Yard
1777 Capt. James Penny, 18 Church Street
1781 James Penny, merchant
1787 James Penny, merchant, Ranelagh Street
1790 James Penny, merchant, Hope Street, Martindale Hill
1796 James Penny, merchant, 2 Hope Street, Mount Pleasant Street
James Penny, Junior, merchant, is also listed at this last address.
According to F.E. Sanderson The Liverpool Delegates and Sir William Dolben's Bill in Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1972, Vol. 124, p. 64, James Penny had been a captain in the slave trade until the American War of Independence. He returned to the trade after the War "... but as a shipowner on his own account and in partnership with others". His knowledge of the African coast, which according to Sanderson, dated from 1776, included two years as a factor on the Windward coast. He was a "... man of considerable stature in the town, highly regarded by his fellow merchants, his forthright views on the slave trade must have brought him to their notice as a likely delegate". This refers to his having been chosen as one of the five delegates sent to represent the interests of Liverpool before a Committee of the Privy Council in 1788. In the years 1787 to 1789 there was an active parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. There was much public feeling in general in favour of abolition but for Liverpool "... the suppression of the African Slave Trade being suggested, ruin seemed to stare the Liverpool Merchants in the face..." (Touzeau). James Penny was one of five delegates sent to London in 1788 to represent the anti-abolitionist interests of the Liverpool merchants before a Privy Council Committee. There are many references to James Penny and the Liverpool delegation in Thomas Clarkson History of the ... Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament. 1808, Vols. 1 and 2, pp. 479 - 481 and other pages. Penny and his fellow delegates from Liverpool "... described the horrors attributed to the Slave Trade as so many fables ...". F.E. Sanderson quotes James Penny as having said "Interest is so much blended with Humanity in this Business that ... every Attention is generally paid to the Lives and Health of the Slaves" (see Liverpool and the Slave Trade: a guide to Sources in Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1972, Vol. 124, p. 158). Penny and his fellow delegates argued that slavery was a happier condition for the slaves than the barbaric life in their native lands "... so that there was a great accession of happiness to Africa since the introduction of the Trade" (Clarkson).
The Town Council of Liverpool was grateful for the efforts made by Penny and his colleagues and on 4th June 1788 the following resolution was passed:
"It having been reported to this Council that attempts have been lately made in Parliament to abolish the African Slave Trade and Messrs ... Robert Norris, James Penny, John Matthews ... having been deputed by the Committee of the Liverpool African Merchants to attend in London on this Business Ordered that the thanks of this Council be given to the above ... Gentlemen for the important Service rendered by them to the Town of Liverpool ..."
Freedom of the borough of Liverpool was conferred on James Penny and the others "... in consideration of the very essential Advantages derived to the trade of Liverpool from their evidence in support of the African Slave Trade".
James Penny was further rewarded in 1792, for his services against abolition, when the Council gave him "... a piece of plate value £100 ... together with the freedom of the Borough to Mr. James Penny, his eldest son" (see James Touzeau The Rise and Progess of Liverpool from 1551 to 1835, 1910, Vol. 2, pp. 589-599).
After 1788 James Penny continued to trade in slaves at a time when other Liverpool merchants "... were committing less of their property in slaving ventures and the trade of the town had become much more diversified ..." (see Sanderson The Liverpool Delegates ... op. cit. p. 64).
With his eldest son, James, he was elected to the African Company of Merchants trading in Liverpool in July 1793 (see African Company of Merchants Minute Book, 1750 - 1820, 352 MD 1, last page). According to Gomer Williams op. cit., Appendix XIII, pp. 681 - 685, from a list compiled from Liverpool Customs records, James Penny owned in the year January 1798 to January 1799, the following ships sailing to Africa, the figures denoting "the complement of slaves allowed to each", Margaret (225), Rosamund (323), Mona (293), Princess Augusta (365), Favourite (275) and Penny (360). The destination for all his six vessels is given as Angola.
James Penny died in 1799 apparently pre-deceased by his wife. His book-keeper Samuel Knipe (see 387 MD 62/8 below) was "... with him at that awful moment ... He had long been preparing for the change, his daily walks were in the Garden in my company: the loss bewailed was his beloved wife ...". The burial register of St. James, Toxteth, 1790 - 1799, gives the date of death for "James Penny, Mercht. Agd. 58 yrs" as 26th August 1799 and the date of burial as 29th August. James Gibson Epitaphs ... in Liverpool Churches ..., Vol. 3, p. 201, gives his date of death as 27th August 1799 and the death of his eldest son, James, as 7th August 1820, aged 47 years.
Gore's Liverpool Directories continue to include Penny entries after the 1820's but it is not certain if or how they were connected with the family of James Penny (the 1821 Directory gives an entry for Penny and Machell, ropers, for Penny - Machell connections see above). The family appears to have retained links with the Lake District. Rev. C.W. Bardsley op. cit, p. 122, states in a foot note that one of James Penny's daughters married Professor John Wilson. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 21, 1909, entry, John Wilson (1785 - 1954) "author, the 'Christopher North' of Blackwood's and professor of moral philosophy" at Edinburgh, married in 1811, Jame Penny "daughter of a Liverpool merchant and 'the leading belle of the lake country" who had removed to Ambleside to be near her married sister".
1871 64 gun ship launched at Bucklers Hard, Hampshire
Dec. 1781 involved in action against the French
Apr. 1782 in battle of Dominica against the French
1793 under the command of Horatio Nelson
1793 - 1796 under Nelson, involved in action against the French off Toulon, Sardinia, Corsica and off the French and Italian coasts
1797 was one of the ships "deeply implicated in the mutiny at the Nore", the men demanding "more pay, more leave, a more equitable distribution of prize money ..."
1801 in battle and siege of Copenhagen
21 Oct. 1805 commanded by Capt. Sir Edward Benny, took part in Battle of Trafalgar
1806 in action in West Indies
1807 in blockades of Copenhagen and Lisbon
Jun. 1809 wrecked and lost in River Plate, Brazil - "many of the men wept when ordered to leave the famous old ship".
See H.S. Lecky Agamemnon in The King's Ships, Vol.1, 1913, pp. 33 - 39
Count du Nord
(Count de Nord, Comte du Nord, Compte de Nord).
Listed in Lloyd's Register of Shipping 1783, 1784, 1786, 1787, 1789.
For 1783 - 1787 the master is given as James Penny, crossed out in 1787, the name J. Connor inserted. For all entries the owner is given as Hartly & Co.
In 1783, 1784 the "Surveying Port" is given as London, the ship sailing to Africa. From 1786 onwards the "Surveying Port" is Liverpool but the ship's destination is not clear. Under the ship's name in the 1784 entry, the name Oiseau inserted.
(Madam Pookata, Madam Pockata, Mampakata).
Listed in Lloyd's Register of Shipping (as Madam Pookata) 1783, 1784, 1786, 1787, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795.
In all entries the "Surveying Port" is given as Liverpool and the ship's destination as Africa.
The owner in 1783 and 1784 is given as T. Hodgson but in all subsequent entries as J. Penny or J. Penny and Co.
The entry for 1784 has been crossed through.
The names of the ship's masters are given as follows: 1783, C. Wilson; 1784, C. Wilson, crossed through; 1786, T. Dixon, crossed through and J. Brown entered; 1787, 1789, J. Brown; 1790 J. Brown crossed through, J. Swan inserted; 1791 J. Swan crossed through, R. Withering inserted; 1792 Withering crossed through, J. Hodgson inserted; 1793 - 1795, J. Hodgson
The Dumbell Papers among the Special Collections, Sydney Jones Library, University of Liverpool, include a log of the Mampookata, master Charles Wilson, owner Leyland Penny [sic], travelling to Angola in 1783.
Matthew Gregson in an "Account of Ships sailed from Jany. 1st 1785 to Jany. 1st 1786 for Africa from Liverpool" (see Holt & Gregson Papers 942 HOL 10, p. 373) lists the Mampookata, under the master, Dixon, as sailing to Angola and thence to Dominica. In a further list on p. 379 of the same volume "... A List of Vessels sailed from this Port to the Coast of Africa since 1st January 1787" Gregson lists the Madampookata as sailing from Liverpool on 4th July 1787 under the master Thomas Brown bound for Angola with a capacity for 200 slaves. The owner is given as Jas. Penny and Co.
According to Gomer Williams op. cit. Appendix XV, pp. 686 - 688, a log of the Mampookata on a voyage to Angola 1787 - 1788, was in the possession of T.H. Dixon of The Clappers, Gresford in 1897. Gomer Williams reproduces a transcript of part of this log and adds that the "... log book is adorned with water-colour drawings of the brig, and of the coast scenery, together with a pencil sketch of a gentleman in a cocked hat and pigtail, forming an exceptional specimen of maritime caligraphy".
Samuel Knipe's letter of 1848 (see 387 MD 62/8 below) recounts the loss of a vessel, apparently the Mampookata, at what date it is not clear - "the Vessel was lost and Crew perished: when years after this had rolled away ... the Head of the Vessel was picked up on the North Channel, a sure Omen it had been lost near home; it ["poor Madampockata's Head"] has been in my possession Fifty Years ..."