John Moss

18th Jan 1782 - 3rd Oct 1858

Claimant or beneficiary


Liverpool banker and slave-owner, and an important figure in early railway schemes. Son of Thomas Moss, brother of Henry Moss (q.v.) and founder of the Liverpool bank Moss & Co. (q.v., under Moss, Dales, & Rogers). He has an entry in the ODNB as 'banker, railway pioneer and slave-owner.'

  1. He joined his father's merchant firm in 1803 and founded the banking firm of Moss, Dales & Rogers in 1807. Thomas Moss & Sons held a small cotton estate called Craig Miln (abandoned by 1827 but then apparently added to Cove by the Hopkinson family) in 1822. Moss's deepened involvement in slave-ownership was triggered when with his brothers Henry and James (20/03/1783-24/09/1847), he inherited 1000 people in the Bahamas from his uncle James, who was in the process of moving them from his plantation on Crooked Island in the Bahamas when he died in October 1820. John and Henry Moss bought Anna Regina (and the Lancaster cotton estate) in 1823 for £10,000 in cash and a balance of £40,000 to be paid in crops to utilise these enslaved people as a condition of the license to move them from the Bahamas.

  2. Under deeds of lease and release of 21/08/1809 and 22/08/1809 between Thomas Brown of St Vincent and of Howton [sic] House Yorkshire but at present residing at Holylands Coffee House Strand London and John Moss merchant of Liverpool, Thomas Brown conveyed to John Moss all his plantations in the Charaib country on St Vincent to secure his debt of £20,000 and upwards to Moss and also the sums of money he owed to James Moss, James Moss the younger and David Sudley [Studley?] all of the ____ islands trading under James Moss & Co.

  3. The extent of the dependence of the family fortunes on slavery is unclear, but the family appears to have been embedded in slave-trading and slave-factoring. Thomas Moss (1748-1805) was a 'timber/general merchant and shipowner' who left his business to John and £10,000 to each of his 3 sons. He does not feature in David Pope's lists of Liverpool slave-traders, and Trust cites only the ownership of the slave-ship Ellen between 1787 and 1790.   However, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database shows 14 voyages for Thomas Moss between 1784 and 1803 (12 of them between 1796-1803); 3 voyages of Thomas and William Moss (1804-5) and 2 for Thomas William and James Moss (1798-1799).  In addition William Moss appears in 1 voyage in 1790; there are also 4 voyages for Thomas Moss between 1771-1775 and one for William Moss in 1766 that appear too early to be the same generation of the family but might be an earlier one. Between 01/01/1821 and 13/12/1825, 1762 enslaved people (927 men and 835 women) were recorded as imported under licence into Demerary and Essequibo: 603 of these were exported from the Bahamas by John, Henry and James Moss, with the consignee shown as M'Inroy & Co.

  4. John Moss was a significant investor in railways, becoming Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool & Manchester board in 1824 and Chairman of the Grand Junction board in 1834. See Commercial legacies for sums invested; other investments included the London & Birmingham, the London & Southampton, the Great North of England and North Midland railways.


T71/887 British Guiana claim no. 2455 (Anna Regina); Graham Trust, ‘Moss, John (1782–1858)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2016 [, accessed 19 Oct 2016]

  1. Graham Trust, John Moss of Otterspool (1782-1858) Railway Pioneer - Slave Owner - Banker (Milton Keynes, AuthorHouse, 2010) p. 6, pp. 81-84; pp. 11-12.

  2. Deed Book 1810, British Library, EAP688/1/1/21, pp. 1-26.

  3. Ibid., pp. 5-6 [the Ellen is sourced to Suzanne Schwarz's Slave Captain p. 64]; David Pope, 'The wealth and social aspirations of Liverpool's slave merchants of the second half of the Eighteenth century', in Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery, ed. David Richardson, Suzanne Schwarz and Anthony Tibbles (Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2007), ch. 7; The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, [accessed 07/02/2011]; Parliamentary Papers, Papers and returns relating to the slave population in all His Majesty's colonies, vol. 1, Session 02/02/1826-31/05-1826, Vol. XXVIII p. 163.

  4. M. C. Reed, Investments in Railways in Britain, 1820-1844; A study of the Development of the Capital Market (Oxford University Press, 1975) p. 206. 'Grace's Guide - Grand Junction Railway', [accessed 19/04/2016].

We are grateful to John Beales and Graham Trust for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Hannah Taylor (3/9/1805)
Thomas [later Sir Thomas Edwards-Moss], Gilbert Winter, Rev. John James, James
Wealth at death
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (1)

£40,353 18s 3d

Associated Estates (2)

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
1826 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Joint owner
1809 [EA] - 1809 [LA] → Mortgage Holder

Under deeds of lease and release of 20 and 21/08/1809 Thomas Browne conveyed to John Moss all his plantations in the Charaib country to secure £20,000 and upward owed to John Moss and further amounts to James Moss & Co. It appears it was later remortgaged to the Snell Chauncy firm of London.

Legacies Summary

Commercial (12)

Railway Investment
Caledonian [184523]  
Railway Investment
Buckinhamshire (Tring to Banbury) [184656]  
Deputy Chairman
Railway Investment
Liverpool and Manchester [184599]  
Railway Investment
Trent Valley [1845190]  
Railway Investment
Railway Investment
Shrewsbury and Grand Junction [1845172]  
Railway Investment
Derby and Crewe Junction [184699]  
Railway Investment
Shrewsburt, Wolverhampton, and South Staffordshire Junction (Coalbrookdale Branch) [1846461]  
Senior partner
Railway Investment
Birmingham and Oxford Junction [184629]  
notes →
From 1832 to at least...

Physical (1)

Country house
Otterspool House [Built] 
notes →
See for more details and for a...

Relationships (5)

Nephew → Uncle
Father → Son
Son → Father

Addresses (1)

Otterspool House, Aigburth Road, Otterspool, Liverpool, Lancashire, North-west England, England