How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Family connections in the economic life of Manchester

by Dr Emma Poulter

Several family partnerships were prominent as investors in many aspects of Manchester's economic life in the heyday of the cotton and textile economic era. These families invested in several areas of the industry as its connection to slavery trading networks were quite lucrative in almost every sector; cotton import and exports, insurance and banking, warehousing, cotton machines and tools among others. McConnel & Kennedy was one of the very successful partnerships.

McConnel & Kennedy

The partnership of McConnel and Kennedy was founded in 1795 by James McConnel and John Kennedy. They came from Scotland to Manchester. At first, the emphasis of their business was on making cotton machinery, but by the beginning of the nineteenth century the firm was exclusively involved in cotton spinning.

McConnel and Kennedy imported their raw cotton through Liverpool. They used Sea Island cotton, a slave-grown crop which was very high quality and was confined to a small geographical area of the USA. The firm was a major employer, in 1816 they were employing 1,020 people and were one of only four firms employing over 700 people in Manchester.

For more information on McConnel and Kennedy see McConnel & Kennedy in Manchester