Gomer Williams, the historian of the privateering and slavetrading ventures of Liverpool, has written of this period :

" The general effect of the American war of independence on the position of Liverpool, was to put an entire stop to the commercial progress of the port, during seven long and disastrous years. The foreign trade of the port, which had doubled itself between the accession of George the Third, in 1760, and the commencement of hostilities, in 1775, declined in all its branches, from the beginning of the struggle, to its close in 1783. The customs revenue of the port, which amounted to £274,655 at the commencement of the war, had fallen to £188,830 in 1780, the sixth year of the contest. The tonnage declined from 84,792 tons to 79,450 of which a large part consisted of privateers. The population decreased from 35,600 to 34,107 ; and the condition of the inhabitants was deteriorated so greatly in the latter years of the war, that, at its close, not less than 10,000 of the poorer classes, were supported either by the parish, or by charitable donations." 2 The St. Helens area was so much at this time a subsidiary

sphere of operations of the Liverpool merchant that we would naturally expect some repercussions of this disastrous state of affairs on the coalfield. Moreover, it would be expected that those coalowners most deeply involved in the decline of Liverpool trade would be most affected, while those capitalists who were purely industrial would stand a better chance of escaping. Thomas Case, who in 1774 had taken over the nominal ownership and control of Sarah Clayton's Parr collieries, was a partner in the West India firm of Case & Southworth3 and owned a Jamaica plantation. He was a leading member of the Africa Company in Liverpool, and one of the most prominent owners of slave ships, being associated with William Gregson4 and John Dobson. He was also interested in insurance as a partner in the

firm of Gregson, Case, & Co., presumably an extension of the slave trade interests of the two men. l In addition to his association with Gregson and Dobson, Thomas Case was also concerned in a slave trade partnership with his brother, Clayton Case. 2 For him it was very unfortunate that the depression was so general; not merely were his insurance, West India, and Africa concerns hard hit, but at the same time competition in the coal trade was intense.