Liverpool, the city that gave us the Liver Birds, The Beatles, Scouse, Ferries ‘Cross the Mersey and you, me, is 812 years old today!
Liverpool is forever my home, yet I only lived there for 9 months. I lived in New Brighton (over the water) for 17 years and then in South-West London for another 31 years! However, a trip to Liverpool, a walk along the Pier Head, taking steps in my parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps and locating streets and locations where ancestors I have found through genealogical research have lived or worked, excites me.
My Liverpool lineage began around the middle of the nineteenth century on my father’s side, when a three times great grandfather and his wife and family, moved from Skibereen, Ireland to Liverpool, via Bristol. At least two other branches of my father’s side of the family moved to Liverpool around this time, too.
On my mother’s side, my grandparents travelled to Liverpool around 1924 and settled in the dock area until World War II threatened their safety. My grandfather perceived their location a threat and so they moved to Bootle, where the family was promptly bombed out!
King John (he of the Magna Carta and not much else, except . . .) founded the borough of Liverpool in 1207.
In 1207 King John decided it was expedient to visit Ireland and needed a port to facilitate his Irish plans.
In 1207, King John arrived in ‘Liverpul’ which was a fishing hamlet on the banks of the River Mersey. It was so small it didn’t even warrant a mention in the Doomsday Book, William the Conquer’s great survey of England. King John had previously gifted the hamlet to Henry Fitzwardin of Lancaster and he now struck a deal to exchange Liverpul for other lands. In time, King John was named the Lord of Liverpool.
On 28 August 1207, King John invited people to settle in his new town, Liverpul, as it was called in King John’s Charter. The Charter gave new settlers a strip of land called a burgage to build a home close to common land for animals to graze.
Several streets in this new settlement still survive today, Dale Street, Castle Street, Chapel Street, Moor Street (now Thithebarn Street), Bancke Street (now Water Street), Peppard Street (now Old Hall Street) and Juggler Street (now High Street). The Charter, permitting a weekly market, improved the trading and merchant activities in the town and generally improved the lives of its inhabitants.
A castle was also built (on Castle Street) and an army was stationed there, as opposed to West Derby, protecting the King’s new port and preparing for campaigns in the recently-conquered Ireland.
Liverpool has had many spellings in its 800-year existence – Lyrpul, Litherpul, Ly’rpole, Lyverpool, Lurpole, Liuerpul, Leeverpool and Liverpol – for uniformity, I kept with just two!