Black Ball Line (trans-Atlantic packet)

This article refers to the trans-Atlantic packet shipping company, for other uses see Black Ball Line

The Black Ball Line was a fleet of packet ships running between Liverpool, England and New York, the first scheduled trans-Atlantic service, founded in 1817. In operation for some 60 years, it took its name from its flag, a black ball on a red background. The line was founded by a group of New York Quaker merchants headed by Jeremiah Thompson, and included Isaac Wright & Son, Francis Thompson and Benjamin Marshall. In 1851, James Baines & Co. of Liverpool entered the packet trade using the same name and flag as the New York company, despite its protests. Thus, for about twenty years, two "Black Ball lines" under separate ownership were operating in direct competition on the transatlantic packet trade. James Baines & Co. also operated ships running between Liverpool and Australia, including famous clipper ships such as Champion of the Seas, James Baines, Lightning, Indian Queen, Marco Polo and Sovereign of the Seas.


  • Stephen Fox, Transatlantic: Samuel Cunard, Isambard Brunel, and the Great Atlantic Steamships, Harper Collins (2003) ISBN 0060195959, pp. 3-16 (introductory chapter on sailing packets).
  • Transatlantic WNYC Reading Room (reproduces chapter referred to above)

Search another word or see Black_Ball_Line_(trans-Atlantic_packet)on Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature