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An uncommon and attractive 4to edition of the Book of Common Prayer. From the library of Liverpool slave trader Moses Benson (1738-1806), with his red morocco library label on the front board.


In the 1760s, Benson became a captain in the West Indies trade for Abraham Rawlinson, a Lancaster merchant. Benson served as Rawlinson's agent in Jamaica before forming his own trading company. In the West Indies he acquired a considerable fortune before returning to Liverpool in 1775, where he entered the slave trade. The SlaveVoyages website lists over 80 slave voyages between 1775 and 1806 in which he was involved. It's no surprise, then, that slavery provided much of Liverpool's wealth.


Although he continued to live on Kent Street in Liverpool, Benson invested part of his fortune in a Shropshire estate, Lutwyche Hall, in the 1780s. With Judith Powell, a "free mustee," he had six children, including Ralph Benson (1773-1845), a later member of parliament. Judging from the present book, Benson appears to have combined his slave trading business with Christian teachings.


This copy of the Book of Common Prayer is bound with the famous New Version of the Psalms of David by poets Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady. First published in 1696, their metrical version of the Psalms was very influential, indeed, their version of Psalm 34 is still sung today.

Book of Common Prayer, from the library of Liverpool slave trader Moses Benson

€ 1.150,00Price
  • The Book of Common Prayer, and administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Church of England: Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David.

    Oxford, Printed by T. Wright and W. Gill [...] and sold by S. Crowder, in Paternoster Row, London; and by W. Jackson, in the High Street, Oxford, 1775.

    [Bound with:]

    Nicholas Brady & Nahum Tate.

    A new version of the Psalms of David, fitted to the tunes used in churches.

    London, printed by H.S. Woodfalls for the Company of Stationers, 1775. 

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