John Bolton was a prominent slave trader and Caribbean plantation owner. As a sixteen year old, Bolton travelled to St. Vincent as a penniless apprentice. Within ten years of being in the West Indies he had amassed a £10,000 fortune and returned to Liverpool, where he established himself as one of Liverpool’s most prominent slave merchants. He invested in at least 69 slaving voyages and by 1793 was earning approximately £40,000 per annum. In 1804, from the proceeds of his slaving, he bought the magnificent Storrs Hall (pictured below), on the banks of Windermere, not far from his birthplace at Ulverston. Here he would hold regattas that were attended by the celebrities of the day, including Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott.
As well as investing in slave trading, he also owned slave plantations in the Caribbean and at abolition received more than £28,000 in compensation for the enslaved people he had to free. The story of Bolton and a number of other Liverpool merchants demonstrates how involvement in the slave trade allowed individuals who came from humble beginnings to be able to amass large fortunes, regardless of their origins. Storrs Hall is now a luxury hotel.
John Bolton was an investor in the Royal Institution and owned one share.