Thomas Johnson (Liverpool merchant)

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For other people with the same name, see Thomas Johnson (disambiguation).

Sir Thomas Johnson (27 October 1664 – 28 December 1728) was an English merchant and Member of Parliament who was largely responsible for the foundation of the modern city of Liverpool.

Johnson was born in Liverpool in 1664. Left a considerable fortune by his father, he traded as a merchant with the British colonies in North America; he was particularly involved in the tobacco and sugar trades. In 1715, he transported 130 Jacobite prisoners to the American plantations. He also played an important role in the emergence of the rock salt industry in Cheshire.

Johnson succeeded his father in 1689 as bailiff of Liverpool and in 1695 as Mayor. He effected the separation of Liverpool from the parish of Walton-on-the-Hill in 1699. He obtained from the Crown a grant to the Corporation of the site of the old castle, where he planned the town market. He was the chief promoter of the construction of the first dry dock in 1708 and steered a bill through Parliament to authorise it. In addition, the building of St Peter's and St George's churches were due in great measure to his efforts. From 1701 to 1723 he represented Liverpool in Parliament, sitting as a Whig, and he was knighted by Queen Anne in 1708.

In 1723, having lost in speculation the fortune which he had inherited from his father, he retired from Parliament and was appointed collector of customs on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Many sources suggest that he went out to Virginia himself, and died in Jamaica in 1729, but Hayton et al.'s recently published volume in the authoritative History of Parliament series contradicts this, stating that he either never took up the post or exercised it through a deputy, and that he died in lodgings at Charing Cross on 28 December 1728.

A Liverpool street is named Sir Thomas Buildings after him.

References[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Clayton
Sir William Norris
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
December 1701–1707
With: William Clayton
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
1707–1723
With: William Clayton 1707–08
Richard Norris 1708–1710
John Cleiveland 1710–13
William Clayton 1713–15
Edward Norris 1715–22
William Cleiveland 1722–23
Succeeded by
William Cleiveland
Langham Booth