Robert and Alice Williamson

(fl1748 - after 1769)

Robert Williamson, who according to his own map, A General Chart of St. George’s Channel (1766), was shipwrecked in 1748, subsequently became a very colourful and influential character in Liverpool from about 1752-1769. He, and sometimes his sister Alice (died 1793), published The Liverpool Memorandum Book(1752 and 1753), and Williamson’s Liverpool Advertiser and Mercantile Register, from 28th May 1756 – 1769. The latter was the primogenitor of the Liverpool Times, which remained in circulation until 1856.

Self-described as “printer, bookseller, stationer, editor, publisher, agent for the State Lottery, general broker, auctioneer, etc. etc.”, Williamson also operated a “Circulating Library near the Exchange” in 1761. Situated in Castle St. from 1765, he ran an employment register, sold ships “by the candle”, the plunder brought back to Liverpool by privateers; and slaves.

Three maps were published by him, all in 1766, all exceedingly rare: Williamson’s Plan of Liverpool ; Williamson’s S.W. Prospect of Liverpool; and A General Chart of St. George’s Channel.

In the mid 1760s he was pursued by creditors, and by 1769 he was to be found in the Commercial Quarter, Black Town, Madras. His portrait hangs in the Liverpool Athenaeum.