Dear Liverpool History Society,
I am not certain where to begin with this story which starts (or so I thought) with a grand old house in West End, Hampstead, belonging to the Miles family who were deeply into the book trade in London.
Further enquires show, interestingly, that the publisher, John Miles of Hampstead, was actually born in Byrom St, Liverpool (20/10/1784) the son of Joseph Miles, brewer of Liverpool (confirmed in Liverpool directory, 1790, and Gazetteer of Liverpool Breweries, 1803 etc), and Mary Johnson. In fact it was through an uncle of his mother's that
John Miles inherited the publishing business. This uncle was Joseph Johnson (1738 - 1809) sometimes called "father of the book trade." Joseph Johnson came from Everton, Liverpool.
To date I am not certain of all the family connections re the Johnsons of Everton, Liverpool, but it appears that they were strongly aligned with the Baptist Churches in the area. For example, in 1741 a John Johnson (1706 - 1791) was the minister of the Baptist Church at Byrom
Street. This did not last for long however, as there was dissension in the church regarding some of the Rev John Johnson's more radical? views. The resulting splinter group, headed by Rev John Johnson, started their own chapel in Stanley Street....
I think this was the group who were later labelled the "Johnsonian Baptists". It was when I began to read some of their material (taken from old pamphlets, letters etc) that I realised that the radical and dissenting publisher, Joseph Johnson (please see above) must have been
strongly influenced by these ideas as a young Baptist living in Everton....Joseph Johnson's later associations with the radical thinkers of his day, his strong support of the Unitarian Church
movement (some of their ideas were not that far removed from the Johnsonians...) and finally his imprisonment, all make much more sense in the light of his early family connections and religious affiliations. It all began in Liverpool.
My apologies for the preamble, but wanted to give a little background to show why I am curious to learn more about the Johnsons of Everton - their occupations, various family connections, church affiliations etc. Also, I am be very interested in the Miles brewing
establishment. I am not certain that the Miles - Johnson marriage (poss 1781, St Paul's, Liverpool) would have been approved of by the Johnsons who may not have been pleased about Joseph Miles brewing connections. Joseph Miles family came from Westmorland I believe, and there appears to be a family connection (not yet confirmed) with the Miles of Kendal and possibly Ambleside etc who were millers, and so able to supply the malt to the Liverpool brewery/s.
There are some interesting connections and possibilities re these two families. My interest is both local history and family history, Joseph Miles and Mary (nee Johnson) Miles being my great x 4 grandparents.
Perhaps you may be able to point me further in the right direction re this enquiry please. Having discovered firm family links to Liverpool, I am keen to learn more of the area, and follow up on some of these family and other interesting connections. I have a lot of questions...For example, as the Johnsons have been described as yeoman and landowners of Everton, I wonder was this area still rural in the 18th century...? What did the chapel in Byrom Street look like.?..and
Any info, guidance or pointers, on any of the above would be very much appreciated. I would also be very interested to make contact with others who may have similar interests or family connections. I suspect the Everton "Johnsonians" were relations of my Mary nee
Johnson Miles, and that they had a strong influence on the radical bookseller/publisher Joseph Johnson.
I look forward to your knowledgeable assistance an/or advice.
Rosemary Totton, Auckland, New Zealand