John Bridge Aspinall

???? - 1830


Liverpool slave-trader, brother of Thomas Aspinall (q.v.) and Mayor of Liverpool. John Bridge Aspinall's son James has an entry in the ODNB as 'Church of England clergyman and author', which describes John Bridge Aspinall simply as 'of Liverpool', making no mention of his slave-trading. His great-grandson Sir John Audley Frederick Aspinall has an entry as 'mechanical engineer' which is equally silent on the source of the family wealth.

His father James Aspinall, along with William Gregson, John Gregson, James Gregson and Edward Wilson were the co-owners of the slave ship Zong, the subject of a famous legal action in 1781-3. Hundreds of enslaved people were thrown overboard in a voyage across the Atlantic when the ship ran low on drinking water. 232 of the 440 enslaved people who embarked on the voyage died before disembarkation at Black River, Jamaica. The ship's owners then claimed compensation from their insurers. The insurers refused to honour the claim. Judge Mansfield ruled that, although the ship's crew were found to be negligent, the enslaved people were to be treated like any other property and the ship's owners were acquitted of any liability.

The Aspinalls were a prominent slavetradeing family in late 18th-century Liverpool. Three members of the family, John, James and William, traded as J. and J. Aspinall with the Niger Delta and Angola. Martin Lynn writes: "a further member of the family, Thomas, lived in Jamaica and was responsible for selling the slaves as they arrived from Africa. After 1807 they turned to 'legitimate' commerce and continued to trade until 1830."


Matthew, H. C. G. "Aspinall, James (1795?–1861), Church of England clergyman and author." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Birse, Ronald M. "Aspinall, Sir John Audley Frederick (1851–1937), mechanical engineer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Lynn, Martin. "Trade and politics in 19th century Liverpool: the Tobin and Horsfall families and Liverpool’s African trade." Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1992) vol. 142, p.103. ID 84106; 'Gregson v. Gilbert', Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King's Bench (1831) vol. 3, pp. 232-235.

We are grateful to Christopher J. Barnes and Martin Powell-Davies for their assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Married but no further details

Relationships (3)

Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Business partners