Richard Pennant was the son of a Liverpool merchant who founded his fortune on sugar plantations and inherited estates in Jamaica. He owned 8,000 acres of sugar plantations and over 600 slaves. He was MP for Liverpool 1767-80 and 1784-90 and spoke forcibly against the campaign to abolish the slave trade. He devoted much of the profits of his plantations to developing the Penrhyn estate and slate quarries of North Wales. He also set about improving transport links from the quarries to the newly established port of Port Penrhyn. He was created Baron Penrhyn in the peerage of Ireland in 1793. He rebuilt the medieval house at Penrhyn using the architect Samuel Wyatt. He died in 1808, leaving his property to his cousin, George Hay Dawkins (1764-1840), who inherited the estate following the death of Lady Penrhyn in 1816. Under the leadership of Dawkins-Pennant, the Penrhyn estate would grow to become one of the most powerful landowners and the leading slate-producing concern in North Wales.