Thomas Staniforth

Thomas Staniforth by Joseph Wright of Derby

Thomas Staniforth (1735-1803) was an officer on the founding committee of the Athenaeum. He was also a prominent Liverpool slave trader and between 1758 and his death, Thomas and his two sons would invest in at least 77 slaving voyages. Thomas lived on Ranelagh Street, nearby to the Athenaeum, in a house that would later become the Waterloo Hotel and that stood on the site of what is now Central Station. The house was the gift of his father-in-law, Charles Goore (1701-1783 pictured below), who was also involved in slave-trading and the importation of slave-produced tobacco from Virginia. The Athenaeum was just the first in a number of private members’ clubs that were established in Liverpool at the beginning of the nineteenth century and when the Lyceum Club was built in 1802, it was on land that the proprietors had acquired from Staniforth, with the assistance of the abolitionist and great man of letters, William Roscoe. In 1797, the year the Athenaeum was founded, Staniforth was elected Mayor of Liverpool.

Both Staniforth and Goore were wealthy enough to afford to have their portraits painted by one of the great eighteenth century English artists, Joseph Wright of Derby. The portrait of Staniforth now hangs in Tate Britain in London and the painting of Goore is displayed in the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum, both are reproduced above (Staniforth) and below (Goore).

Charles Goore by Joseph Wright of Derby