In order to make space for new entries it has become necessary to put some of the shorter entries together on one page.  Scroll down to find entries for:
  1. ADSHEAD, Mary
  2. AGNEW, Thomas Frederick Andrew
  3. ALMOND, St. John
  4. ASPINALL, Butler
  5. BAKER, John N L
  6. BAKER, Peter
  7. BANKS, Leslie
  8. BEDDOWS, Richard
  9. BEHAN, Brendan
  10. BEHREND, Henry

ADSHEAD, Sylvia Mary [1904-1995]

 It was her father's (Stanley Adshead) appointment as Professor Civic Design at Liverpool University in 1910 that brought the young Mary Adshead to live in the city until the family moved to London in 1914. She then went on to attend the Slade School of Fine Art and subsequently established herself as a notable muralist whose works included a large mural entitled Housing the People for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 and private commissions for such wealthy figures as Lord Beaverbrook. In 1929 she married the artist Stephen Bone and the arrival of a family of three children inevitably restricted the time available for her work. Nonetheless, she enjoyed an extremely varied artistic career which included providing designs for Great Britain's first pictorial stamps in 1941. She undertook the illustration of Mary Norton's children's book Bonfires and Broomsticks, later to be the basis of Disney's film Bedknobs and Broomsticks , and the decoration of Selfridge's restaurant with jungle scenes. Mural commissions were a constant feature of her activity and in 1953 she became the secretary of the Society of Mural Painters. She died on 3 September 1995 and was cremated at Golders Green. Her paintings are in many public gallery collections including The Tate , The Graves Art Gallery Sheffield, The Imperial War Museum , Manchester City Art Gallery , The London Transport Museum and The University Art Gallery Liverpool.

 The picture (below) is a self-portrait painted in 1931


There is an extensive biography of Mary Adshead at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

67 Hope Street L1

AGNEW, Thomas Frederick Andrew [1835-1924]

Thomas Frederick Andrew Agnew first came to Liverpool to commence a career in commerce. His varied enterprises saw him spend time in India at the time of the Indian Mutiny, resulting in his joining the Madras Volunteer Cavalry. In 1889 he was appointed the representative of the Bank of England in the city, a post which involved residence at the prestigious premises at 31 Castle Street. Notwithstanding his commercial achievements and a range of philanthropic interests in the city Agnew’s particular footprint stems from a visit he made to New York in 1881. Whilst there he visited the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Impressed by the organisation’s work and mindful of the appalling conditions under which many Liverpool children existed, upon his return home he set about establishing a similar society. This was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was directly as a result of this venture that other societies were formed across the country, resulting in the conversion of the London organisation into the N.S.P.C.C. in 1889. Prior to his move to the Bank of England premises he lived at 16 Mersey Road L17 (demolished). The building at 31 Castle Street L1 remains.


There is a comprehensive entry for Agnew in the book Liverpool's Legion of Honour  [B Guinness Orchard 1893] and in Liverpool and Birkenhead in the 20th Century Contemporary Biographies [W T Pike 1911]

Bank of England 31 Castle Street L1

ALMOND, Saint John [1576-1612]

Just six years after the death of Saint John Almond another famous son of the city, the noted astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks, was born near Toxteth. And some four and a half centuries later their names were commemoratively juxtaposed when a new Catholic Secondary School in Horrocks Avenue, Garston, was named after John Almond. Initially called Blessed John Almond in 1955, it became Saint John Almond School after Pope Paul IV canonised him as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970. Fitting tribute to a devout and pious son of the city. However, in 2005, the governors decided to ‘re-brand’ the school in an effort to shed its rather poor image. It was a case of out with Saint John Almond and in with St Benedict. It seems highly unlikely that John Almond was responsible for the school’s failings, (or that St Benedict had a hand in its improvement), so it seems a little sad that such a commemoration of this saintly man should have been revoked in the name of improving the school ‘brand.’ The school subsequently became the more prosaic Enterprise South Liverpool College, fared little better on the education front and has now been re-born as The Academy of St Nicholas. It remains to be seen whether this third saint will better inspire the confidence of OFSTED.

John Almond was born in Allerton c.1576 into a Catholic family at a time when the Catholic Church stood in opposition to Elizabeth I in the wake of the Catholic rising of 1569. Little detail is known of his early life but it seems that he spent his childhood in Allerton, then a village near Liverpool, although the precise location of his home is not known. Educated at nearby Much Woolton he moved to Ireland with his parents and it was there that he finished his education. He went on to study in Reims, France, where he pursued his vocation into the priesthood. At the age of 20 he went to the English College in Rome where he was ordained into the priesthood in 1598, returning to England as a missionary priest in 1602. He was first arrested in 1608, and was then accused of high treason in 1612 . On the 5th December 1612 he was taken to Tyburn to be hung, drawn and quartered. John Almond was venerated on 8th December 1929, beatified by Pope Pius XI on the 15th December 1929 and Canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.


The best source for St John Almond is undoubtedly Kenneth A Almond's slim volume Saint John Almond and the Society of his Time [Athena Press 2008]

ASPINALL , Butler Cole  [1830-1875]

Butler Cole Aspinall was born In Liverpool in 1830 and died in the same city aged just 44 in 1875. In the interim he had qualified as a barrister, emigrated to Australia, risen to some prominence as a radical politician in Victoria, seen his career crumble due to mental health problems and returned to England where after a sojourn in a ‘lunatic asylum’ (the term applying at the time) he died penniless.

He was the son of James Aspinall, a Church of England clergyman, who himself achieved some fame for his writings and espousal of radical causes. At the time of Butler’s birth he was joint minister of St Luke’s church in Liverpool, living at 17 Bedford Street L7. (The house was demolished to make way for University buildings.) He would move to be rector of Althorp, Lincolnshire in 1838, remaining in this post until his death in 1861. Butler’s mother was Harriet, née Lake, the daughter of South Carolinan William Charles Lake who owned estates in Jamaica and was in business as a merchant in Liverpool.

Aspinall was admitted to the Bar in 1853 and migrated to Victoria, Australia the following year. He had secured a post involving  the oversight of the parliamentary reporting staff of The Argus newspaper, having done some similar work for the Morning Chronicle during his time as a law student. The job did not last too long as the paper refused permission for him to continue to practice law alongside his duties. He then joined barrister Archibald Michie in practice. Michie was also the proprietor of the Melbourne Morning Herald and he duly appointed his new partner as editor.

His arrival on the Victoria legal scene coincided with the aftermath of the Eureka rebellion, a hugely significant event in the development of Australian democracy. The revolt came about when gold miners’ hit out against the British colonial authorities on such issues as the cost of mining licences. There was considerable bloodshed and subsequently the rebels faced trial in Melbourne. In addition to acting as counsel for some of the men without charge, he also spoke publicly against the refusal of the Governor to grant an amnesty.

Aspinall’s success in these trials brought him two benefits. Firstly his prowess was recognised by a healthy flow of criminal briefs. Secondly, he was able to use his great popularity in the goldfields to gain election to the Victoria Legislative Assembly in 1856. He was subsequently to serve as both Attorney General and Solicitor General but the consensus was that he shone more in opposition. Attention to detail was not a great strength and it was widely agreed that he had a distinct dislike of hard work. He did enjoy a great reputation as a wit and one who pursued a somewhat intemperate lifestyle.

His career came to a halt following a mental breakdown in 1871 and he returned to England. After his return he spent time in asylums and died in 1874, being buried in the family grave in St James' Cemetery. His wife Marguerita died penniless  6 days later in Melbourne. The couple had six children, one of whom, Butler Cole (1861-1935) followed his father into the legal profession, becoming King’s Counsel and achieving some prominence at the enquiries into the sinkings of the Titanic and Lusitania.


There is a comprehensive entry for Butler Aspinall in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.


BAKER, John Norman Leonard [1893 - 1971]

John Norman Leonard Baker (commonly known as J.N.L.B.) was born in Liverpool on 12th December 1893, the son of a Church of England clergyman. He had a relationship with Jesus College, Oxford for more than half a century, being a prominent figure in the field of the history of geography. Outside his academic career he served in both world wars, firstly with the King’s Liverpool Regiment and re-enlisting with the RAF in World War Two to undertake intelligence work.

At the time of his birth Baker’s family were living at 33 Beaumont Street L8 (now demolished) but he spent most of his early life at his father’s vicarage at 115 Shaw Street L6. He attended the nearby Liverpool Collegiate before moving to the Liverpool College (he would later serve many years on the College’s governing body). Winning an Open Exhibition to read Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford in 1913, his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War.

Serving as a Second Lieutenant with the King’s Liverpool Regiment he was severely injured on the Somme and it was during a lengthy period of convalescence that he married Phyllis Marguerite Hancock in 1917. Baker went on to serve two years in the Indian Army, an experience which nurtured his interest in geography. He returned to Oxford, completed his history degree and then took a Geography Diploma.

Baker went on to enjoy a celebrated academic career, his 1931 work History of Geographical Discovery and Exploration, was particularly outstanding and would remain an obligatory text for many decades after its publication. He became the bursar of Jesus College and served on Oxford City Council for many years, becoming an alderman and, in 1964, the first University representative to serve as the city’s Lord Mayor. His daughter, Janet, as Baroness Young, was the only woman to serve in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, holding various ministerial appointments and serving as Leader of the House of Lords.

Baker died in Oxford in 1971.


The Wikipedia entry gives a general outline of his life and career but there is a much more detailed account available on the webpage of Bloomsbury Collections.

J N L Baker
115 Shaw Street L6

BAKER, Peter [1731-1796]

Peter Baker became Mayor of Liverpool in 1795, a recognition of his wealth and the pre-eminent position he had held in the trade that had enriched his town, the delivery of slaves to the islands of the Caribbean. Between 1783 and 1792 Baker, in partnership with his son-in-law John Dawson, ran the largest company of slave traders in England, their activities boosted by an exclusive contract with the Spanish government to supply their colonies. Notwithstanding the exclusivity of their contract, the enterprise ran into trouble when the Spanish started to return slaves considered too sickly and weak to be of value. Ultimately Dawson would become bankrupt but in the interim they shipped more slaves than any contemporary competitor and railed against the British government for regulations which limited the number which a ship could carry.

If there was justice in this life Baker should have suffered great ill-fortune for his leading role in this inhuman trade, one which would have been even worse if he had been successful in his challenges to the governments limited attempts to ameliorate suffering. However, on the contrary, Baker could possible lay claim to being the luckiest Liverpudlian to walk its streets.

In 1778 he built a ship called the Mentor, a venture which had exhausted his accumulated capital. Ruin faced him when the prospective owners refused to accept is as they considered it thoroughly unseaworthy. Desperate to recoup some of his outlay Baker determined to fit out the vessel himself and take it see as a privateer. Reportedly the crew Baker recruited was as unseaworthy as the Mentor itself, and it was a pitiful sight sailing lobsidedly out of the port on a mission to keep its owner out of the debtors’ prison.  On 28th October 1778 the ship, with barely a fight, took possession of a French East Indiaman, the Carnatic, which proved to be carrying great treasure including a spectacular chest of diamonds. Reports said the value of the cargo was £135,000, but others claimed this was merely the value of the diamonds, the whole being nearer £400,000. In today’s value that is somewhere between £20 - £40 million, but this probably vastly underestimates its buying power in the late 18th century. Not only was Baker able to buy a stately mansion, Mossley Hall, atop Mossley Hill, but he also purchased the manor of Garston. It seems it was the local wags who dubbed his home ‘Carnatic Hall’.

The ship Mentor, did not enjoy much more good fortune. She took two prizes en route to Jamaica in 1779 but foundered when returning to Liverpool in 1782. Only the Captain (Whiteside) his second mate and a boy survived.

Baker was to die in 1796, before his year of office as mayor was completed. ‘Mossley Hall’ was destroyed by fire in 1891 and a new mansion was built on its site by Walter Holland, a senior partner in the shipping line Lamport and Holt. This time the house was officially dubbed ‘Carnatic Hall’. It was demolished in 1964 to make way for the University halls of residence ( which are now also in the course of demolition). Howard Channon [Portrait of Liverpool, Robert Hale & Co. 1970] records how he was able to visit the ‘2nd’ Carnatic Hall just before its demolition where he found rooms occupied by Egyptian mummies thousands of years old. Apparently, its final use was as a storage facility for Liverpool Museum while they awaited completion of repair work to its premises necessitated by bomb damage. Baker’s enterprise is ‘permanently’ recalled by Carnatic Road.

Sadly I can find no images of Baker, the Mentor, or Carnatic Hall.


The Wikipedia entry gives a general overview of his life. Information on the Mentor is available on the three decks website. It is interesting that many accounts of Baker's life written in the 1950's and 60's wholly exclude his career as a slaver. There are references to him in Liverpool [by George Chandler, Batsford, 1957. p156],  Portrait of Liverpool [by Howard Channon, Robert Hale & Co. 1970, pp 66-68], Liverpool Shipping [by George Chandler, Phoenix House, 1960. p 30]. Baker is also referred to in the classic work of 1897 by Gomer Williams A History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque, with an Account of the Liverpool Slave Trade. I have an electronic copy of this and would be happy to forward if anyone would like a copy - please email.

BANKS, Leslie James [1890-1952]

Now little remembered, in the 1930s and 40s Leslie Banks established himself as a versatile West End star before going to Hollywood and achieving trans-Atlantic fame with a host of films and successful Broadway appearances.

He was born in Liverpool in 1890, the son of George Banks, an affluent ‘general merchant'. At the time of his baptism the family were living at 38 Russian Drive L13. They moved shortly after his birth to Holly Bank, Bankfield Road L13 (now the site of a school) and by 1901 had moved to Hoylake. Educated in Scotland he then attended Keble College, Oxford. His original intention had been to enter the church but instead he chose to enter the somewhat contrasting world of the theatre, making his professional debut in 1911. Serving throughout World War One, he received injuries which left his face scarred and partially paralysed. However, far from deterring him from returning to the stage, he used the disfigurement to some advantage in the many darker roles which came his way.

Already a leading stage actor, he made his screen debut in 1932 and went on to make over 30 films. Notable roles included the Chorus in Olivier's Henry V (1944), the Earl of Leicester in Fire Over England (1937) (the first film in which Laurence Olivier appeared with Vivien Leigh) and Oliver Wisford, the treacherous squire in Went The Day Well ? (1942).

Banks received a CBE for his services to the theatre in 1950. He died in 1952 from a stroke suffered whilst he was out walking.


The Wikipedia entry for Leslie Banks is quite comprehensive. IMDB provides full details of his screen roles.

38 Russian Drive L13

BEDDOWS, Richard [1843 - 1922]

During the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse (18th May 1864) in the American Civil War, the conduct of Richard Beddows, a British soldier fighting for the Union Army, won him the Medal of Honour, the United States’ highest award for bravery during combat.

The citation for the award recorded that he “brought his guidon off in safety under a heavy fire of musketry after he had lost it by his horse becoming furious from the bursting of a shell”. (A guidon is a small flag).

Beddows had been born in Liverpool on 27th June 1843. At the time of the 1851 census, aged 8, he was living with his widowed mother, a ‘charwoman’, at 21 Blair Street L8 (runs between Upper Parliament Street and Upper Stanhope Street). He must have emigrated to the USA at an early age as by August 1861, aged 18, he was enlisting in the Union army at Flushing, New York. He served in the 35th New York Light Artillery until June 1865 and became a US citizen in 1887, dying in New Lafayette, NY, in 1922.

It appears from an article in a New York newspaper dated 24th July 1896 that for over 30 years Beddows was unaware that he had been awarded this most prestigious medal. It was only when applying for an army pension that a clerk brought the award to his attention.


There is little written about Beddows and the Wikipedia entry is as detailed as anything else I have found

Beddows' grave
Article from a New York newspaper [24th July 1896

BEHAN, Brendan [1923-1964]

Brendan Behan’s fame was based upon his literary achievements coupled with an alcohol-fuelled violently iconoclastic public life. With such notable plays as The Hostage and The Quare Fellow and his best-selling memoir Borstal Boy behind him he died aged just 41 from the effects of his lifelong drinking.

His sojourn in Liverpool came when he was just 16 and most of his time here was spent in Walton Gaol where he was on remand after being arrested in possession of bomb-making equipment. Prior to his arrest he was lodging at 17 Aubrey Street L6 which stood where there is now open ground adjacent to the Everton Water Tower. Having just been recruited into the IRA Behan had barely set foot in Liverpool before he was being tailed by the police, informed of his mission by their Irish counterparts. Arrested at the house in Aubrey Street he remained in Walton Gaol until his trial in February 1940 when he was found guilty and sentenced to three years borstal detention. His time in Walton and Hollesley Bay borstal in Suffolk were the subject of his autobiographical Borstal Boy.

Brendan Behan

A view of Aubrey Street c.1967

Walton Prison c 1910.


Besides the aforementioned Borstal Boy  [Brendan Behan 1958] the biography Brendan Behan: A Life [Michael O'Sullivan 1997] gives a good account of his brief IRA foray in Liverpool. There is a lengthy documentary on YouTube entitled A Hungry Feeling: The Life and Death of Brendan Behan

BEHREND, Henry Michael [1827-1893]

He was born in Liverpool on 19th November 1827 , the son of ship broker David Behrend, who was born in Hanover in 1792 and having settled in Liverpool married Priscilla Aaron in 1823. At the time of Henry’s birth the family were living at 25 Upper Parliament Street L8, a house long-since demolished which stood where the Anglican Cathedral and St James Cemetery now stand. Studying medicine (in what has been referred to as a “brilliant academic career”) at University College Hospital London, in 1850 he was elected a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1859 and a member in 1868.

He first practised in Liverpool, living in his parents’ home at 15 Canning Street L8. During this spell in his home city he was appointed honorary physician of the Liverpool Dispensary and acted at surgeon to a Lancashire regiment of militia.

Moving to London, where he lived until his death in 1893, besides having a thriving practice he was a regular contributor to the Lancet. He was particularly concerned with the relationship between ‘unfit’ meat and tuberculosis and his articles on the “Communicability of Diseases from Animals to Man” were translated into several languages. He also wrote and lectured on subjects such as Jewish history and archaeology. His involvement with the wider Jewish community was exemplified by his personal devotion to the Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum in Norwood, which he served as Chairman and President

15 Canning Street L8

Behrend lived in this house with his parents when he began his medical career in Liverpool.


The only biographical material I have found for Behrend is an entry in the online copy of the Jewish Enyclopedia.