Browse collection: Bluecoat and Slavery
James Lonsdale (1777–1839), portrait of George Brown, with Liverpool Blue Coat School in the background.
Orphan George Brown entered Blue Coat School in 1765, aged eight. A successful pupil, he was apprenticed to the sea. Before taking his first voyage, he got tangled in a rope and broke both legs. Recovering, he went to sea, eventually making his fortune and becoming one of Liverpool's wealthiest merchants. He donated money to the Blue Coat, in gratitude for the help it had given him. As a slave ship captain, Brown benefitted from Transatlantic slavery, making journeys to Africa and transporting enslaved people to the Americas to work on plantations. In five such journeys, 754 people were boarded, against their will, on to one of his ships, 85 of them dying during the passage. Despite his business as a slaver, Brown was considered a success story for the school at the time, and was said to be the ‘best of Christian men.’ This undated, oil on canvas portrait was commissioned by the school to thank him for his donations and support. Image courtesy of The Liverpool Blue Coat School.