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Special Collections & Archives: William Rathbone IV (10 Jun 1757 - 11 Feb 1809)accredited archive service logo

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William Rathbone IV (10 Jun 1757 - 11 Feb 1809) & Hannah Mary Rathbone (3 May 1761 - 29 May 1839)

"one of the most conspicuous and extraordinary men which the annals of this town ever recorded"- from an obituary to William Rathbone IV, Liverpool, 1809

Portrait of William Rathbone IV

Portrait of Hannah Mary Rathbone I


Son of William Rathbone III and Rachel Rutter.

m. (17 Aug 1786) at the Friends Meeting House, Shrewsbury Hannah Mary(1761-1839), eldest daughter of Richard Reynolds, of Bristol, a philanthropist and partner with the Darby family in the Coalbrookdale Iron Works, Shropshire and Hannah Mary (née Darby). She was born at Ketley and had a Quaker upbringing. She was buried in the Hunter Street Burial Ground. Eight children:
William Rathbone V (1787-1868)
Richard (2 Dec 1788 - 10 Nov 1860)
Hannah Mary (1791-1865) m. (4 Jan 1831) Dr William Reynolds
Joseph (1793-1794)
Theophilus (1795-1798)
Theodore Woolman (4 Aug 1798 - 15 Aug 1863)
Benson (26 Aug 1800 - 27 Oct 1834)
Basil (1802-1804)

William IV was a Liverpool ship-owner and merchant, involved in the organisation of American trade with Liverpool. Originally a member of the Society of Friends, he felt compelled to write a Narrative of Events in Ireland among the Quakers (1804) in protest against religious intolerance in the Society. As a committed opponent to slavery, he was a founder member of the Liverpool Committee for the Aboliton of the Slave Trade.

In 1788, he leased the family house and estate of Greenbank, then part of the Toxteth Park estate, to serve as a country retreat for his young family, and purchased the freehold of the house in 1809, the year of his death. He was buried at Liverpool Friends' Burial Ground.

William Rathbone IV and Hannah Mary in the Rathbone papers

The papers of William Rathbone IV (RP II) date from 1777-1809 and include:

  • RP II.1 - General correspondence (169 items)
  • RP II.2 - Deeds (3 items)
  • RP II.3 - Quaker material (11 items)
  • RP II.4 - General papers (23 items) including notes, collected newscuttings and printed circulars relating to public and personal affairs of WR IV

The papers of Hannah Mary Rathbone I (RP III) date from 1773-1839 and include:

  • RP III.1 - General Correspondence (274 items)
  • RP III.2 - Deeds (1 item)
  • RP III.3 - Personal Papers (3 items, including diaries and MS notes)


Related holdings

  • Ironbridge Gorge Museum - holdings include a copy letter book of William Rathbone IV's letters out including notes on Quakerism, philosophy and theology 1805-1808

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