Moses Benson

1738 - 5th Jun 1806


  1. Liverpool slave-trader, in Jamaica in the 1770s then returning to Liverpool. In his will he left his substantial estate to his four 'reputed' children, including Ralph Benson (1773-1845), later MP for Stafford 1812-1818 and 1826-1830, who was born in Jamaica. To date no slave-ownership on estates in Jamaica has been traced for Moses Benson.

  2. Moses Benson contributed £10 to the University of Pennsylvania following Dr John Morgan's fundraising tour of the West Indies in 1772-1773.

  3. Moses Benson had six children with Judith Powell, "free mustee", baptised in Kingston, Jamaica between 1773 and 1781: Ralph (born 1773, baptised 1773), James born and baptised 1773), John (baptised 1775), Mary (1779) and Moses and Jane Dorothy (twins, 1781). The eldest, Ralph, and youngest, Moses, attended Manchester Grammar School.

  4. James Aspinall, in his 1853 book Liverpool a few years since, by an old Stager, gives a description of Moses Benson's house in Liverpool: "A little higher up than Colonel [John] Bolton’s, but on the same side of Duke-street, stood the noble palace mansion of Moses Benson, one of the merchant princes of the old times of which we are speaking, with its gardens and pleasure grounds, bounded on one side by Cornwallis-street, and on the other by Kent-street, and extending backwards to St. James-street. In Duke-street also lived his son, Ralph Benson, one of the pleasantest and most agreeable men we ever met with, but somewhat, indeed, too much of a Lothario. After his father’s death he resided at Lutwyche, in Shropshire, became connected with the turf, and represented Stafford in several parliaments. His wife, Mrs. Ralph Benson, was an Irish lady, of good family,—a Ross Lewin, we believe,—a charming person, handsome, and accomplished, who gave delightful parties, where all the wits and fashionables of the day used to assemble. And here we must say that the beaux of those times were beaux indeed." The Chetham Society publication of the Manchester Grammar School Admission Register includes the following: ""Moses Benson was a liberal patron of the fine arts, and of various philanthropic objects connected with the town of Liverpool, giving back to God largely of the wealth with which God had entrusted him, for church extension and the education of the poor."

  5. Moses Benson died 05/06/1806 aged 68.

We are grateful to Jim Brennan for his assistance with compiling this entry.


  1. PROB 11/1451/254; [accessed 08/05/2017], which describes Moses Benson as 'a well to do West India merchant of Lancashire yeoman stock'; Stephanie Barczewski, Country Houses and the British Empire, 1700-1930 p. 33 describes Moses Benson 'the slave trader and Jamaican plantation owner', and says that he left an estate - presumably personalty - of £265,000, and an income of £70,000 p.a. to his eldest son Ralph Benson.

  2. William Smith, Joseph Hopkinson, and Plunket Fleeson Glentworth, Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Minute Books, Volume 2, 1768-1779 p. 74, entry for 13/12/1773. Note amounts are in Jamaican currency.

  3., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  4. James Aspinall, Liverpool a few years since, by an old Stager (1853) p. 36; Jeremiah Finch Smith, The Admission Register of the Manchester School with Some Notices of the More Distinguished Scholars (1868) vol. 2 pp. 107-108 which includes a fullsome tribute to Ralph Benson.

  5., Lancashire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online].

Further Information

six children with Judith Powell
Manchester Grammar School

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Firm Investment
Lancaster Canal
Canal Company  
notes →
Moses Benson left 230 shares in the Lancaster Canal in his will proved in...

Cultural (1)

University of Pennsylvania...... 
notes →
William Smith, Joseph Hopkinson, and Plunket Fleeson Glentworth, Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Minute Books, Volume 2, 1768-1779 p. 74, entry for 13/12/1773. Note amounts are in...

Physical (1)

Country house
Lutwyche Hall [Purchased] 
description →
Estate and house purchased in 1807 by the trustees of Moses Benson and held in the Benson family for more than a century, during which the house was remodelled with a Jacobean-style front by S....

Relationships (1)

Father → Son

Addresses (1)

Duke Street, Liverpool, Lancashire, North-west England, England