Sir John Tobin

1762 - 27th Feb 1851

Claimant or beneficiary


Slave-trader, palm oil merchant and Mayor of Liverpool 1819-1820, son of Patrick Tobin of Isle of Man.

  1. Sir John Tobin (1763-1851), 'merchant', born Isle of Man, 'by the 1790s was a master, operating in the slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean', and operated as a privateer in the early years of the war with France. Married 1798 Sarah Aspinall (1770-1853), daughter of James Aspinall (1729-1787), a prominent Liverpool slave-trader. 'This marriage may have brought him capital'. Pioneer of legitimate palm oil trade. Knighted 1820. Built Liscard Hall 1835. 

  2. Appears as Captain in 6 slaving voyages 1793-1803 and as owner in 10 slaving voyages 1794-1804, with William Aspinall in 7, with John Bridge Aspinall and James Aspinall and others (including Peter Whitfield Brancker in one) in 2, and with John Gladstone and others in one, in 1803, in which Tobin also appears as Captain. 

  3. Will of the son, Rev. John Tobin, who died 21/06/1874 formerly of Liscard House but late of Hill Side Caversham proved 10/08/1874 by Emily Ann his widow, effects under £10,000.

  4. After abolition, Tobin was instrumental in converting the trading links built through the slave-trade into an alternative trade in palm oil between Africa and Liverpool, from which he continued to amass even greater wealth. He was also part of a Tory elite that dominated Liverpool politics; Martin Lynn comments that his election to Mayor in 1819 “may at least partly have been due to the sudden and unexpected rise in palm oil prices to record heights in 1818. Certainly, he needed the money. According to the Liverpool Mercury - his political opponents - he paid six shillings per vote to get elected in one of 'the most barefaced acts of bribery that ever disgraced even the electioneering annals of this venal rotten borough”.

We are grateful to Martin Powell-Davies for his assistance in compiling this entry.


A J H Latham, 'Price fluctuations in the palm oil trade', Journal of African History, 19 (2) (1978), pp. 213-218.

  1. ODNB online, Martin Lynn, 'Tobin, Sir John (1763-1851), merchant.' An image of Liscard Hall is available here: [accessed 14/09/2015].

  2. [accessed 14/03/2011].

  3. National Probate Calendar 1874.

  4. Martin Lynn, "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.

Further Information

Sarah Aspinall
Elisabeth (1799-), Sarah (1806-), John (1810-), Margaret (1813-)
Merchant and former slave-trader
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (2)

£158 8s 11d
£875 1s 3d

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1834 [EA] - → Joint owner

His path to the joint ownership shown in the compensation records has not yet been traced.

Legacies Summary

Commercial (3)

Name partner
Hughes and Tobins
Senior partner
Tobin and Co.
Insurance Broker  
Other partner
Union Mill Company

Cultural (1)

Library - mss.
...Bedford Missal (Book of Hours)... 

Physical (2)

Country house
Liscard Hall [Built] 
notes →
Built by Sir John Tobin c. 1835, originally known as Moor Heys House. Demolished after a fire in...
Country house
Liscard House [Built] 
description →
Built c. 1833 by Sir John Tobin for his son on land he acquired in the Wirral. Two years later he built Liscard Hall for himself [Stephanie Barczewski, Country Houses and the British Empire,...

Political (1)

Local Government
office →
01/01/1819 - 01/01/1820

Relationships (1)

Business partners

Addresses (2)

Liscard Hall, Central Park, Wallasey, Liverpool, Lancashire, Merseyside, North-west England, England
Oak Hill House, Old Swan, Liverpool, Lancashire, Merseyside, North-west England, England