The Annals of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century

By John Latimer

Author of “Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”.

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL
1631-1650

In January, 1631, the King issued a proclamation by which Bristol merchants were prohibited from pursuing one of the most important branches of their commerce. The mandate, after asserting that, notwithstanding previous royal decrees, great quantities of tobacco continued to be planted in several parts of England, whilst an incredible quantity was imported secretly, forbade the cultivation of the plant at home, or its importation from the plantations into any port save London. The quantity to be admitted was to be fixed at the King's discretion, His Majesty disapproving of an immeasurable outlay on so vain and needless a commodity. Notwithstanding this emphatic expression of the royal displeasure, the culture of tobacco in Gloucestershire became so prevalent in the following summer that the Privy Council sent down a peremptory order to the Sheriff to cut down the plantations, apparently with little effect. The above proclamation was re-issued in May, 1634, and in January, 1638. It is probable that the restriction of the foreign trade to London was devised to extort money for licenses to import into Bristol, and it will be shown under 1641 that such licenses were occasionally obtained. In the meantime a jealous watch was kept upon local merchants. In April, 1635, when a ship laden with tobacco was driven into this port through stress of weather, a petition was sent to the Government praying that she might be discharged here; but the Lords of the Treasury sneeringly expressed doubts as to the cause of the ship's change of course, and peremptorily ordered her to London.

The year 1631 was locally notable for an attempt made by Bristol enterprise to realize the long-cherished dream of navigators - the discovery of a North-West Passage to India and the far East. The King having taken some interest in the problem, and directed one of his ablest servants, Sir Thomas Roe, to equip a royal ship for an expedition, some leading Bristol merchants applied to Sir Thomas through Captain Thomas James, an experienced Bristol mariner, to be allowed to take part in the adventure, expressing willingness to fit out a ship under James's command. Roe cordially responded to the appeal, informing the Mayor, John Tomlmson, who had married his sister, that the Lord Treasurer, “being beholden to you for your love in choosing him Steward of your city”, proposed to give the Bristol undertakers an equal share in all the

1631]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.117

advantages expected to be derived from the discovery. The King was accustomed to grant audiences at an early hour on Sunday mornings, and when the Lord Treasurer's promises had been confirmed, Captain James was permitted to pay his respects to His Majesty. The Bristol adventurers, of whom Humphrey Hooke, Andrew Charlton, Miles Jackson, and Thomas Cole were the chiefs, thereupon procured a ship of eighty tons burden, which, in honour of the Queen, whose assistance in the business of the Castle was gratefully remembered, they named the Henrietta Maria. The crew was composed of twenty-two able seamen, and a large sum was spent in equipment. The vessel set sail on May 3rd, steered by way of Greenland to Hudson's Strait, the weather throughout being extremely unfavourable; and on September 3rd entered a bay, still named James's Bay in honour of its discoverer. A month later, the explorers reached a place they called Charlton, after the Bristolian mentioned above, and there they were compelled to remain. The ship being unable to approach within three miles of the shore, it was deemed advisable to sink her, to prevent injury from “bumping”, the crew seeking such shelter as could be found on land. After experiencing a winter of terrible severity, the crew, in the following May, dug the ice out of the ship, got her afloat again, and soon after sailed for England, arriving at Bristol after a stormy voyage on October 22nd. By that time the vessel was so shattered that the safe return was regarded as miraculous. The London adventure, led by a seaman named Fox, was of an inglorious character, his ship being brought home after a desultory cruise of six months in regions already well known. The intrepidity of James thus became the more conspicuous, and won the admiration of the Court. On his presenting himself at Whitehall with a chart of his voyage, the King welcomed him heartily, held him in conversation for two hours, and requested him to attend again and give further details. The nobility followed the royal example, and James, to use a modern phrase, was the lion of the season. A spirited account of his Arctic adventures was published in 1633, and proves the commander to have been a skilful and scientific navigator. In the same year he was appointed captain of a warship, which cruised in the Bristol Channel for the suppression of piracy. Some remarkable coincidences of thought and expression have been remarked in the narrative of the Above voyage and in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”,

118THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[163

from which it has been inferred that Coleridge had read and been impressed by James's story.

Another Government shift for wringing money from the public was put in force during the summer, and produced a good harvest. The case of Bristol illustrates what went on in every county end borough throughout the kingdom. On June 29th a royal commission was addressed to the Bishop of Bristol, the Mayor, and others, directing that they should call before them such inhabitants as, by their position in life, could be forced to take up the title of knights, and to fix the composition that should be paid for refusing it. It is clear from a minute of the Council of three weeks earlier date that the intention of the Government was known in the city, and that the Mayor and some of the wealthy aldermen had hastened to make personal compositions privately, for the purpose of getting themselves appointed as commissioners through the favour of the Lord Treasurer. In addition to those voluntary victims, there were no less than forty-four persons in the city qualified for knighthood, all of whom shunned the honour of a title, and were accordingly assessed according to their assumed means. The names of those gentlemen have been fortunately preserved amongst the State Papers, and are now published for the first time. They are of great interest, as they doubtless embrace the whole upper-class population of the city, with the exception of the royal commissioners, and indicate the presumed wealth of each individual. Alexander James, a Common Councillor, headed the list, and was required to pay £41 6s. 8d. Then followed Alderman Robert Rogers, the wealthiest of the soapmakers, who paid £30; Alderman Christopher Whitson, £25, and Richard Holworthy, C.C., £23 6s. 8d.; Alderman Abel Kitchin, Henry Hobson, innkeeper, C.C., Nicholas Heale, gentleman, Alderman Henry Gibbes, Henry Yate, soapmaker, C.C., and George Gibbes, brewer, paid £8 13s. 4d. each. Alderman William Young, Thomas Lloyd, brewer, William Jones, merchant, C.C., Richard Ballman, brewer, Oliver Smith, mercer, Ezekiel Wallis, mercer, C.C., and George Knight, mercer, C.C., £14 each; Walter Ellis, merchant, CO., William Sage, tanner, Anthony Prewett, draper, and Francis Creswick, merchant, C.C., £13 6s. 8d each; Nicholas Meredith, merchant, Matthew Warren, clothier, C.C., Edward Peters, merchant, William Lysett, grocer, C.C., and William Snigg, gentleman, £12 each, Richard Baugh, brewer, £11 13s. 4d.; Richard Johnson,

1631]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.119

smith, Richard Jackson, clothier, Edward Batten, gentleman, Miles Callowhill, mercer, John Lock, merchant, C.C., William Wyatt, merchant, and Francis Derrick, merchant, £11 each; John Pearce, draper, George Reece, gentleman, Robert Osborne, brewer, Robert Kitchin, merchant, John Baber, tailor, William Hayman, mariner, and Robert Blackborow, brewer, £10. The only person assessed under the last-named sum was William Colston, a young man, just beginning a mercantile career, who was assessed at £6 13s. 4d. The figures appended to the name of Alderman John Harrington, brewer, are illegible. One Thurston Harris, baker, was ordered to pay £12, but the item was afterwards struck out. The total amount netted by the process was £626, and as the compositions recorded above amount to £548, it is clear that the Mayor (John Tomlinson) and the aldermanic commissioners snowed conspicuous lenity in assessing themselves. The royal mandate required the whole of the money to be brought in within ten days of the hearing.

Amongst the many monopolies created about this time by Charles I. was one concerning saltpetre. In 1627 a commission was issued to the Duke of Buckingham and another nobleman, empowering them to dig for saltpetre in the houses, etc., of any of the King's subjects, the purchase, of this article being forbidden to all save the royal licensees. In September, 1631, on the information of the justices at Chippenham, two Bristol men, named Cossley and Baber, were dragged before the Privy Council charged with fraudulently buying the King's saltpetre and converting it into gunpowder. It is evident that the charge could not be proved against them, for two months later they petitioned for release from prison, having never been called on to answer their prosecutors. They were probably liberated on payment of a fine. In December, 1637, John Dowell, or Dowle, the local Customer, who devoted himself for many years to the persecution of Bristol merchants, sent information to Sir Henry Vane, probably the royal patentee, that large quantities of contraband gunpowder were stored in the city, and that forty-six persons were retailing without a license. The Lords of the Admiralty thereupon wrote to the Mayor, alleging that, in defiance of the King's mandate, gunpowder was still largely made in Bristol, Baber being mentioned as a conspicuous offender, and peremptory orders were given for the suppression of all the mills. The Mayor replied soon afterwards, asserting that

120THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1631

two mills had been discovered and the implements confiscated. In November, 1638, however, Dowell reported that Baber had a mill in the suburbs, and was making two cwt. a week, whilst much was covertly smuggled into the city, and a few weeks later the “commissioners for gunpowder” sent down orders to the Mayor to seize Baber's mills, break his utensils, and commit him and every other local maker to prison if they presumed to continue the trade. It is somewhat amusing to find that, after all this rough treatment, Baber became, during the Civil War, the chief local gunpowder-maker for the King, and not only sent £800 worth to Oxford, but supplied Prince Rupert when in Bristol with ammunition to the value of £1,500, for which he was never repaid.

An affair which caused much excitement in the city occurred during the autumn of 1631. The King had some time before granted powers to a neighbouring landowner to enclose large portions of the common land in the Forest of Dean, and to cut down the woods, contrary, as the inhabitants alleged, to their ancient rights. The destruction committed by the grantee having eventually led to tumultuary gatherings and acts of violence, steps were taken by the Government to punish the rioters, in the course of which John Wragg, one of the myrmidons of the Privy Council, arrested in Bristol a forester named Virtue, alleged to be one of the ringleaders, temporarily lodged him in Newgate, and reported the facts to his employers. Being sent back by them with orders to remove the prisoner to Gloucester for trial at the assizes, Wragg was himself arrested on a writ of the Piepowder Court, at the suit of Virtue, who claimed £600 damages for illegal imprisonment. According to Wragg's petition thereon to the Privy Council, the Steward (judge) of the Court, the keeper of Newgate, and various civic officials were abettors of Virtue's prosecution, and he especially complained of the conduct of the under-gaoler in refusing him fire, victuals, and bedding during his detention. The Privy Council promptly resented the treatment of their agent, and Miles Jackson, one of the city Sheriffs, who was held answerable for the keeper of Newgate, together with the under-gaoler and others, were prosecuted in the Star Chamber, and were apparently kept in custody for several weeks. The Sheriff vainly protested that Wragg's arrest took place without his knowledge, and that the messenger was liberated within twenty-four hours on his official position being ascertained; whilst the gaoler's

1631]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.121

plea that he had simply conformed to a legal mandate was equally unavailing. A local annalist says:- “It cost them dear before they were all discharged”. It is not surprising that in the struggle then drawing near Miles Jackson was a zealous Parliamentarian.

A new restriction upon local commerce was proclaimed at the High Cross in November. The King having just granted to six London merchants the sole right of trading with Guinea, Bonny, and Angola, local merchants were prohibited from competing with the monopolists. In 1633 a similar interdiction was published in reference to trade with “the gulf and river of Canada”, a monopoly having been conferred on another London confederacy.

Manufacturers suffered from royal restrictions as severely as did merchants. In December, 1631, a patent was granted to seventeen persons, courtiers and Londoners, conferring on them the sole right to make hard and soft soap out of home materials; and in the following month these monopolists, styled the Society of Soapmakers of Westminster, received a charter of Incorporation empowering them to destroy the vats and demolish the buildings of persons invading their privilege. In July, 1634, proclamation was made in Bristol that the King forbade the making of soap for private domestic use, and prohibited the importation of foreign, Irish, or Scotch soap. Bristol had then enjoyed a great repute for its soap for four hundred years, and the soapmakers were numerous and their business extensive when this monopoly was created. Seeing the prospect of ruin before them, the manufacturers naturally made terms with the Westminster Society, and in consideration of a large payment permission was obtained to make and dispose of the insignificant quantity of 600 tons yearly. But the Government, conceiving that more could be extorted from the Bristolians, then took action on its own account. In a petition dated May, 1635, the local manufacturers made an earnest appeal against a new order issued by the Privy Council forbidding them to vend soap outside Bristol save to Wales and the Western ports, and requiring them to pay an additional tax to the King of £4 per ton, a burden which they declared would simply be ruinous. No relief, however, was accorded beyond permission to sell in Wilts and Gloucestershire. About the same time the local Soapmakers' Company laid another grief before the Government, complaining that although they had conformed to the terms imposed by the King and the London monopolists, their

122THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1633

soap had been seized by orders of the latter, and they had, in spite of their poverty, been compelled to travel five times to London, and to make long sojourns there without obtaining any redress. Other documents show that the Londoners maintained spies in the city who constantly harassed the industry. In May, 1637, twelve Bristol soapmakers were lying in the Fleet prison for non-payment of the extra tax levied by the Crown, and were forced to redeem themselves on the terms imposed by the Lord Treasurer. (Some of these victims were afterwards conspicuous Parliamentarians.) Finally, in 1638, the King's Gentlemen Pensioners, whose salaries were two years in arrear, begged His Majesty to grant them the profits of “his soap in Bristol”, and this appears to have been conceded. By the King's order in Council, the number of soap-houses in the city was about the same time reduced to four. These brief citations from the State Papers afford but an inadequate conception of the suffering endured for several years by an inoffensive and useful body of manufacturers. Adams, the ablest of the contemporary chroniclers, who was a witness of the persecution, and whose zealous loyalty renders his statements on the subject unimpeachable, records that about thirty Bristol soapmakers “were served up to London, where against their wills they were retained long with great expenses, imprisoned, and fined in above £20,000, and were bound to more inconveniences before they could be discharged”.

Neither the State records nor those of the Corporation contain any reference to the tribulations of the Bristol brewers. But Adams notes:- “Another sort of [royal] commissioners were for brewers, on whose behalf some of the chiefest of that Company rode for London, where they had no remedy granted, but every brewer was enjoined to pay 40 marks a year, of all which the poor commons do feel the smart”. In January, 1633, a royal proclamation paralysed another branch of trade, the making of girdles, belts, and other articles of apparel being prohibited because, as the mandate asserted, competition impoverished the Girdlers' Company of London.

The relation of despotic restraints and exactions tends to become somewhat monotonous, but the grievances pressed so heavily on all classes, and had so marked an effect on public opinion in the final conflict between King and Pariament, that it would be misleading to suppress the facts. It was shown at page 85 that the enormity of the fees demanded at the Bristol Custom House was condemned in

1633]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.123

the House of Commons, and that the officials submitted to extensive reductions. Parliaments being now dispensed with, and their revival being improbable, Messrs. Dowell and Willett, the Customer and Collector, in June, 1633, impudently repudiated the compact made with the merchants, set forth a new and greatly enhanced scale of fees, and threatened to stop the landing and shipment of goods unless their demands were complied with. The mercantile body appealed to the Government, but it was speedily discovered that the Lord Treasurer had sanctioned, by warrant, the proceedings of Dowell and his colleagues, and that Attorney-General Noy, on the pretext that one of the subordinate officers had not signed the agreement of 1624, had given his opinion that the arrangement was invalid. The merchants continued their protests until April, 1634, when the Treasurer sent down a testy letter, requesting them to end the dispute by immediate submission, and to give him no further trouble. Two months later, however, for some mysterious reason, he thought proper to change his mind, revoked his warrant to the officers, and ordered them to repay the money they had extorted in excess of their just fees. Whilst this dispute was pending, the Corporation gave an order for the Lord Treasurer's portrait, which cost £2 15s. The picture, on arrival, did not give satisfaction, and a second commission was despatched, the artist being further directed to paint pictures of the King and of “Lord Cecil”. Only £6 10s. was paid for the three portraits to “Flechier the Dutchman”, and the fee included some “trimming” of other pictures in the Council House. The Chamberlain, a week or two later, disbursed £4 1s. 7d. “for a pie with two salmons baked in it, and for four lamprey pies, presented and sent to London to a friend, and for gilding them”.

A royal proclamation received in the city in February, 1633, fixed the prices at which wines were to be sold by retail for the ensuing year. The cost of Canary and Muscadel was not to exceed 12d. per quart, of sack and Malaga, 9d., of best French, 6d., and of Rochelle and inferior sorts, 3d. A Privy Council order on the same subject, dated December, 1638, shows that prices had risen 2d. per quart.

The demolition of Morgan's pothouse at Pill (see p.113) did not reduce that worthy to submission. He proved, in fact, as refractory as before, and the Somerset justices were called upon in 1631 to suppress his “sconce” of alehouses. In 1633 a “writ of rebellion” was issued against some of

124THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1633

his tenants, who were as intractable as their landlord, and they were arrested and imprisoned without any apparent result. In 1634 Morgan was prosecuted in the Court of Exchequer for exacting “duties”, resisting the erection of mooring posts, and encouraging unlicensed alehouses, whereby the King's Customs were evaded and the goods of merchants embezzled. It was proved by witnesses that he had built another house so close to the river that the men engaged in towing ships had to struggle through the deep mud along the shore. After a litigation extending over two years, the Court gave judgment against him, pronouncing his conduct insufferable, fining him a considerable sum, and ordering that one house only, for the use of the ferry, should be allowed to stand, and that all the rest should be demolished at his expense; the Corporation being further empowered to erect such mooring posts as they thought fit. The Common Council went to great expense in prosecuting the suit, and retained four leading barristers at the final hearing. The fees appear small to modern eyes. The Attorney and Solicitor-General received £5 each, the Recorder of London, £4, and Mr. Lenthall (afterwards so famous), £3. The Solicitor-General and the Recorder had, however, a present of £20 worth of wine and sugar. Fifty pounds were paid for the decree “and for a present to the Lords”, and a hogshead of wine with sugar loaves went to Sir Robert Eaton. Whether the two hogsheads of wine presented about the same time to the Lord Chief Baron had any connection with the affair is a matter of conjecture. Morgan having characteristically refused to obey the decree, more money was spent in obtaining a warrant for his arrest. It will be seen under 1637 that even imprisonment failed to reduce him to obedience.

Bishop Wright, with whom the Common Council had always maintained cordial relations, was translated to Lichfield in 1633. The Corporation soon afterwards sent him a handsome piece of plate “as a testimony of love and affection”. His successor in Bristol was Dr. George Coke, who owed his preferment to his brother, Sir John Coke, Secretary of State. The new prelate's letter to his relative, giving an account of his arrival and “good welcome” in the city, is interesting for the proof it affords of the attachment to the Church that then prevailed. His first sermon, he wrote, was preached to the greatest concourse he ever saw. The Mayor, aldermen and sheriffs were present,

1633]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.125

together with all the city clergy, so that not one sermon was preached in any of the other churches. The citizens, he added, were loving and friendly, the Mayor had invited himself and family to a royal feast; another was to be given by Sheriff Fitzherbert; and Alderman Barker, a wise and able man, had sent him a present, as had some others. Invitations were not expected from himself, “all they require is loving acquaintance”. The Bishop's account of his reception is confirmed by the civic accounts, which record the presentation to him, in the following December, of “three silver bowls and a salt”. His lordship's weak constitution obliged him to have recourse to the local medical practitioners, of whom he wrote with some bitterness in 1635:- “Such leeches are the physicians here that they will not leave hold as long as any blood remains”.

At a meeting on April 9th, the Council appointed a committee to superintend the repairing and beautifying of the High Cross, but directed that the outlay should not exceed £100, and that no alteration should be made in the form of the structure. The committee, however, thought proper to ignore those restrictions. Considering the graceful production of the fourteenth century not sufficiently pretentious, they gave orders that it should be considerably increased in height, in order to afford space for the insertion of statues of four additional monarchs - the reigning sovereign, James I., Elizabeth, and Henry VI. The debased Gothic work was executed by men engaged by the committee, the master mason being paid 2s. and each of his five or six subordinates 1s. per day. The stone was brought from Haselbury, and one great block for the summit cost 7s. 9d., besides 30s. for carriage. The total expenditure almost exactly doubled the amount prescribed by the Council, no less than £42 being expended in London in the purchase of the gold leaf and colours used in “decorating” the masonry.

In accordance with a commission under the Great Seal, a subscription was made in the Council Chamber in June, to promote the reparation of “the Church Paules”, otherwise St. Paul's Cathedral, then in a ruinous condition. The Mayor and aldermen contributed 20s. each; the councillors, on an average, 10s.

An old and inefficient crane on the Back, the only one existing in the city, was removed this year, and replaced by a more powerful one, at a cost of about £100. The

126THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1633-34

instrument was let on lease, in August, to a man named Partridge, at a rental of £8, which indicates the slender requirements of the commerce of the period. In the five years ending 1647 the Crane Master was unable to pay any rent at all. Business afterwards revived, and a fresh lease was granted to him at the same rental, on his undertaking to pay up the arrears, and £10 additional.

An order was given by the Council in September that two stately robes of scarlet and fur should be provided for the Mayor and the Mayor-elect, to be worn yearly at the great corporate ceremony on Michaelmas Day. The sum of £25 14s. was paid for one robe, and £14 for the other. The incident possibly inspired a wealthy citizen, George White, brother of the benevolent Dr. White, with a desire to confer a further decoration on the chief magistrate, for by his will, dated in 1634, he directed his executors to lay out £150 in the purchase of “one cheyne of gold”, to be worn by the Mayor on “scarlet days”. Somewhat strangely, the Council looked on the bequest with disfavour, for, though it was at first accepted by a narrow majority, the motion was shortly afterwards rescinded, and it was resolved that “in lieu thereof £100 for the poor was more requisite”. The implied rebuke was the more ungracious inasmuch as the testator had bequeathed £400 to the Corporation for charitable purposes. Several audit books of this period having been lost, it is uncertain whether the executors did or did not adopt the Council's suggestion, but from the directions of the will they probably complied. (Another of this gentleman's gifts was the brazen pillar bearing his name, now standing before the Exchange.) White's testament gives evidence as to the ostentation that commonly marked the interment of wealthy Bristolians. A sum of £150 - equivalent to £600 in our day - was left for funeral expenses, and £6 more were bequeathed to “the Society of Military Men” of the city for a funeral dinner, a custom not uncommon amongst the members. Few men Attempted to withstand the custom of the age. Robert Redwood, the founder of the City Library, who died in 1630, ordered that not more than £10 should be expended in funeral expenses and proving his will, but he directed that forty poor men, for their attendance, should have gowns, hats and shoes at a cost not exceeding £39; and by a codicil made a week later, finding his wealth greater than he had imagined, he allotted £100 more for the outlay on his burial.

1634]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.127

On May 31st, 1634, William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury - Carlyle's “lean little Tadpole of a man, with a face betokening hot blood” - held a visitation of the diocese of Bristol in the cathedral. His presence in the city is unmentioned in the civic records; the chroniclers are equally silent on the subject, and the account of the local churches that would, of course, be presented to him seems to have perished. The State Papers of the year, however, include two voluminous documents in reference to the cathedral and to the conduct of the capitular body. The replies which the Chapter made in writing to twenty interrogations submitted to them were characterized, not unjustly, as “dark answers”, and on more explicit statements being demanded many discreditable truths came to light. As the Dean and prebendaries all held other benefices - one prebendary had three parochial livings, and three of his colleagues two each - the permanent residence at the cathedral stipulated by the statutes was not observed, four weeks in the year being deemed sufficient. To increase the income divisable amongst the Chapter, miserable stipends were allotted to the other members of the staff, and several offices were suppressed. The minor canons were allowed to take other cures, and were therefore generally absentees. The salary of the gospeller was given to the organist and singing men to improve their paltry pay. A chorister also acted as epistoler, and most of his brethren were organists or parish clerks of churches in the city; so that the Litany was scarcely ever sung at Sunday morning services. The almsmen were non-resident, but allowed the sexton something for performing their duty (sweeping the church, bell-ringing, etc.) For the sake of the patronage, the offices of caterer, cook, and butler were maintained, though the common table had been long abolished. The schoolmaster, besides being needed elsewhere as Bishop's chaplain, was so aged that the singing boys were neither instructed nor governed. The office of usher had been suppressed. The dwellings provided for the prebendaries were mostly let to laymen. The library was converted into a private house. The common hall for the quire was leased to a stranger, as were several others in the precincts. The school-house in the Green was fitted up and used as a tennis-court. The cathedral was used as a common passage to the Bishop's palace and the houses in the cloisters. College Green was in a scandalous condition, being ploughed up by the sledges carrying clothes to dry on Brandon Hill, whilst the Corporation had erected a whipping-post in the centre for castigating

128THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1634

offenders, and a rout of disorderly people played stop-ball and other games from morning to night, on Sundays as well as on week-days. The Chapter's confessions incidentally refer to the visits of the Corporation to the cathedral. It had long been the practice, they said, if the Mayor arrived before the end of morning prayer, to abruptly close the service, and proceed with the sermon, If, on the other hand, prayers had concluded before his worship made his appearance, the custom was to wait in silence until the advent of the civic party gave the signal for the preacher to mount the pulpit. In February, 1638, the Archbishop sent down peremptory orders for the reform of some of the capitular abuses, and the Chapter, after a pertinacious resistance for nearly two years, consented that £20 should be set apart yearly for repairing the cathedral, that £20 should be devoted to increase the stipends of the choristers, and that the sinecure offices of caterer, etc., should be abolished.

The Court of Star Chamber published a decree in June, 1634, concerning “the abuse of farthings”, as well by persons counterfeiting the coin as by others who bought large quantities at cheap rates, and made profit by forcing labourers to accept them as wages. The latter practice was sternly forbidden, and it was ordered that no person should pay above two pence in farthings in any one payment. There is some reason to suspect that the Corporation had been profiting by the artifice thus prohibited. In April, 1636, the Chamberlain was ordered to deliver £10 in silver to Thomas Griffith, goldsmith, “which he is desired to exchange with poor people for farthings, not exceeding four pence to any, and to do it as of himself, in so discreet a way as he can, for pacifying the clamour of the poor”.

Allusion was made in page 120 to the destruction wrought in the Forest of Dean by the rapacious patentee to whom the King had granted the woods. The havoc at length became of grave concern to local merchants and shipowners, who, in July, 1634, made a vigorous remonstrance to Lord Holland, Chief Justice in Eyre. Documents of this kind generally presented facts in highly exaggerated colours; but there must have been a solid substratum of truth underlying the complaint, which was drawn up by the Attorney-General. It was asserted that one-half of the goodly forest had been destroyed within about twenty years, which had caused the price of timber to advance from 16s. to 25s. per ton, and rendered shipbuilding impracticable. Before wood

1634]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.129

became scarce, ships of from 100 to 200 tons were yearly launched at Bristol, whereas during the previous nine years only one ship of 100 tons had been built, and shipwrights were unemployed. Merchants were thus constrained to buy Dutch-built ships; but such vessels were liable to confiscation if they entered Spanish ports, and as the commerce of Bristol was chiefly with Spain, the merchants were unable to trade, and the King's Customs had diminished. If the iron furnaces in the Forest continued to work, all the remaining timber there would be consumed in fifteen years. Consequently iron, which had risen to £17 per ton during the late conflict with Spain, would be unprocurable for money in the event of a future war. The remedies proposed by the petitioners - the re-planting of the woods and the preservation of what remained - were urged by Alderman Barker and others at a “great seat of justice” held by Lord Holland at Gloucester, but there is no record of the result.

In the British Museum is a lengthy manuscript entitled, “A Relation of a late Survey into twenty-six counties . . . in nine weeks . . . August, 1634. By a captain, a lieutenant, and an ancient [ensign] of the Military Company in Norwich”. These worthy gentlemen, whose taste for travel was as remarkable in their time as their antiquarian proclivities, arrived at the “Gillards” inn, High Street, Bristol, at the end of the fifth week of their tour, and record that they were received by the landlord, “Mr. Hobson, a grave, proper, honest, and discreet host, lately a bounteous, gentle, free, and liberal Mayor of that sweet and rich city”. The visitors were pleased with the central streets, and much admired the Marsh, “a very pleasant and delightful place”, with its tree-sheltered walks and bowling green for wealthy and gentle citizens. Besides the cathedral, which is oddly described as “newly finished”, the visitors found eighteen churches, fairly beautified, and “in the major part of them neat, rich, and melodious organs. Their pulpits are most curious, all which the citizens have spared no cost to beautify ... for they daily strive in every parish who shall exceed other in their generous and religious bounty most to deck and enrich”. Some remarks follow on the general pleasantness of the city, the riches and numbers of her merchants and the excellent government of her Corporation. “To grace and add to her beauty, she maintains three foot companies, besides a voluntary company of gentle, proper, martial, disciplined men, who have their arms lodged in a handsome Artillery House, newly built up in the

130THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1634

Castle yard, where once a year they unite and entertain both Earls and Lords, and a great many knights and gentry of rank and quality at their military feast”. The Castle is incidentally mentioned as “almost quite demolished”. The visitors finally proceeded to inspect “a strange hot well, which comes gushing out of a mighty stony Rock. ... To it we descended by . . . near 200 slippery steps; which place, when the tide is gone, never wants good store of company to wash in this well, and to drink of that warm and medicinable water”. Having marvelled at the copious cold spring that fell from the rocks opposite to the hot well, they reclimbed the steps to betake themselves to delving for the “glittering bastard diamond stones” which the hill plentifully afforded. They then returned to their inn, tasting on their way “a clear spring kept to refresh travellers” (at Jacob's Wells). “And so, with a cup of Bristow milk, we parted with our honest and grave host, and bade this sweet city adieu”. In their journey to Wells they were convoyed for some miles “over huge stones and dangerous lead-mines” by a troop of the “gentle artillery citizens” with whom they had fraternized during their visit.

During the summer of this year the merchants of the city experienced almost incessant persecution from royal mercenaries of various kinds. The chroniclers maintain their usual silence on events of this character, but the State Papers give a trustworthy, though imperfect, picture of the situation. On August 1st Alderman Barker, who had become acquainted whilst in the House of Commons with Secretary Nicholas, addressed an emphatic remonstrance to that minister on the sufferings of his fellow-merchants. During the previous five years, he asserted, repeated and wholly unfounded informations had been laid against them in the Star Chamber; unwonted and vexatious commissions had been issued to pry into their affairs; Customs officials had harassed them with false charges, and they had been forced to endure the insolence of royal messengers and common informers, acting as was pretended in the King's service, though the consequences had been altogether contrary. Going into details, Mr. Barker especially complained of the manner in which, after merchants had paid for royal licenses overriding the statute law, and discharged the duties fixed by those instruments, the Customs officers had conspired with informers to bring false charges of fraud, and instigated the Attorney-General to prosecute upon them, in which suits, though nothing had been proved,

1634]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.131

heavy fees had been extorted from innocent persons. Twenty merchants had in this way been dragged into the Star Chamber, and though in some cases no definite charge had ever been made against them, none could obtain their discharge without paying largely. Commissions, again, had been sent down to examine sailors, clerks, and others, and attempts had been made to suborn and intimidate those men to bring false accusations against their employers. A commission of this kind was then sitting, and efforts were being made to convict the merchants of having fraudulently made short entries at the Custom House, though all duties had been honestly paid. In fine, more than £1,000 had been wrung out of innocent men within five years, to say nothing of the slur cast upon their reputations. As the writer had been informed that the Secretary disapproved of these proceedings, his advice was prayed for in the matter, and offers were made of further information. Nicholas replied a few days later, expressing regret, and asserting that the Lord Treasurer would redress the grievances if they were properly represented by so good a man as Barker. Portland, however, was too subservient a tool to do anything of the kind, and the oppression continued unabated.

On September 16th, the Court of Aldermen appointed a committee to take the first step for opening the Red Maids Hospital founded by John Whitson, by selecting a meet woman to take the charge of twelve young girls. The Chamberlain's first disbursement for the institution denotes his appreciation of feminine proclivities - he paid one shilling “for a looking-glass for the children”. By the end of the year he had given Goodwife Green, the matron, £4 4s. for the diet of the maids until Christmas, and expended various sums for clothing, furniture, and utensils, including six beds, a frying-pan, and wooden platters, the establishment being completely equipped for the modest sum of £33 13s. 8d. The litigation in Chancery over Whitson's will had just terminated, and the Corporation, at the suggestion of the Lord Keeper, bestowed £66 13s. 4d. on William Willett, one of the testator's disinherited nephews, “for his preferment”. The yearly sum allotted to the schoolmistress for boarding and teaching the girls was originally fixed at 50s. a head, a fraction less than one shilling per week; but in 1636 the stipend was raised to 60s. The children were indentured to the mistress for seven years, and the latter made such profit as she could out of the labours of her pupils, whose education was confined to

132THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1634

reading, and who were almost constantly employed on needlework.

Reference must now be made to a Government requisition that aroused great excitement at the time, and is still historically famous. A writ demanding ship money was issued on October 20th, and commanded the levying of £104,252 on the seaports and maritime counties. On November 6th the King addressed a special mandate to the Corporations of Bristol, Gloucester, Bridgwater, and Minehead, and to the Sheriffs of Gloucestershire and Somerset, requiring them to set forth a ship of 800 tons, with 260 men, fully equipped for half a year's service. The demand was afterwards commuted into a money payment of £6,500. The pretext put forward for the impost was the need of a fleet in view of the hostile attitude of France and Holland; but this statement was received with incredulity, and strong suspicions arose that the King was simply taking measures to render himself permanently independent of Parliamentary control. After many vain supplications made to the Court by the Corporation, in the course of which bribes were profusely distributed amongst officials, and an enormous quantity of wine was “bestowed on noble personages” without securing alleviation, the Privy Council, on December 3rd, forwarded a wrathful letter to the Mayor, stating that, as the local authorities had failed in their duty, the assessment of the city had been confided to the county sheriffs, and demanding immediate submission to their proceedings. The sheriffs, who had similar instructions as to Bridgwater and Gloucester, then took action, and, as was not unnatural in county gentlemen, they threw nearly the whole charge on the wealthy Bristolians to alleviate their own friends. The Corporation at once made a piteous protest to the Government, and the Privy Council, admitting the justice of the complaint, turned in a rage upon the sheriffs, accusing them of partiality, annulled their assessment, and ordered that Bristol should not pay more than one-third of the sum imposed - namely, £2,166 13s. 4d. That amount was then contributed, the sum assessed on the city being paid in full before March 14th, 1635. (The impost levied on Liverpool was £15.) Elated with the success of its manoeuvre, the Government then, without any definite foreign policy, issued a second writ in the following August, by which ship-money was converted into a general tax imposed upon the entire kingdom. The amount demanded from Bristol was £2,000, but after many prayers.

1634]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.133

for relief, accompanied by gratuities and tips as before, the burden was reduced to £1,200. This sum, added to the previous year's exaction, was represented by the Corporation as equal to the levy of eighteen subsidies - a wholly unprecedented charge, and far exceeding the burden laid on other counties and boroughs. The money having been, by some means, wrung from the inhabitants, the Privy Council sent down a third warrant in October, 1636, requiring the city to furnish a ship of 100 tons. This demand was converted into a money payment of £1,000, - commuted to £800, - most of which was collected within a twelvemonth. A fourth writ, demanding a ship of 80 tons, or £800, was received in 1637; but the taxpayers, who, as will be shown, were groaning under other oppressions, were well-nigh exhausted. The collection being delayed, the King's ministers, in May, 1638, sent an angry letter to the Mayor, complaining of his negligence, charging him with disaffection, and summoning him before the Privy Council to answer for his contempt of the King's will. In great alarm, the Corporation deputed the Town Clerk and others to appease their lordships, and as £400 were at once paid in and the remainder was being collected, the Mayor was discharged. The Government, however, found it prudent to mitigate its next demand, the fifth writ, of November, 1638, requiring the immediate levy of only £250, of which four-fifths had been paid in June, 1639. The sixth and last of these arbitrary exactions was called for in November, 1639, when £800 were required; but this sum was subsequently abated to £640, provided prompt payment were made, the full charge being insisted on in the event of delay. In July, 1640, shortly before the elections for the Long Parliament, the Corporation informed the Government that they had remitted all they could collect (amount not stated), and that more could be extracted only by distraints; they had already levied some distresses, but no one would buy the goods; and £700 had just been levied on the citizens for the maintenance and clothing of soldiers. One of the most remarkable facts in connection with the subject is the absence of local information as to the feeling of the inhabitants during these arbitrary proceedings. With the exception of a laconic reference to the first writ in two or three of the chronicles, the whole story of the impost is ignored by local historians; the civic audit books for the three years ending Michaelmas, 1639, have mysteriously vanished; and though the mercantile body must have been amongst the chief victims, the

134THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1634

records of the Merchants' Society are stated to be destitute of the faintest allusion to the matter. Nearly all the above information has been extracted from the State Papers. So far as can be made out, the Corporation contributed about one-sixth of each imposition, and the rest was levied by assessment on the householders.

It might be supposed that whilst the Government was enforcing the above system of extortion it would have forborne from illegally pillaging local merchants in other ways. Nevertheless, in December, 1634, only a month after the issue of the ship-money warrant, a writ was addressed by the King under the Privy Seal to the officers of his household, setting forth his “ancient right of purveyance”, and commanding them to levy an extra duty upon wines landed at Bristol in lieu of that privilege, the proceeds being needed, it was alleged, because the royal expenditure was likely “to increase by God's grace by reason of our children”, then infants. The composition was fixed at ten shillings per tun; and if any one refused to pay, 16 per cent, of his wines were to be seized, for which he was to receive a small proportion of the value. It will be observed that this edict was a flagrant violation of the solemn judgment of the Court of Exchequer in 1609 (see p.36). The Corporation urgently pleaded the facts bearing on the case, affirming that the burden would raise the net price of Bristol wines 30s. per tun in excess of those of London, to the obvious ruin of local trade. All remonstrances were ineffectual, and the impost was collected for some years.

The Privy Council at this period were seized with a desire to usurp the functions of the ordinary courts of justice. In November, 1634, Matthew Warren, who had just served the office of Mayor of Bristol, was arrested on a warrant and haled up to Court, to answer the mere assertion of a man named Helly, who alleged that the Mayor had caused him to be imprisoned on an unfounded charge of selling tobacco at the fair. Their lordships then found that Helly's story could not be substantiated, and Mr. Warren was “respited from attendance till the case be further considered”, which, of course, was never done. A week later, Robert Sheward, vintner, was dragged up in the same manner, on the information of the Innholders' Company of Bristol, who alleged that Sheward had dressed and sold victuals in his tavern to several persons “contrary to the decree of the Star Chamber”. The culprit's defence having been heard, their lordships ordered that his

1635]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.135

prosecution should be stopped on his promising not to offend again.

Extreme distress amongst the poor having become again prevalent in the early months of 1635, the Council took unusually extensive measures for its relief. A large warehouse was engaged for storing bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, and roots, which were purchased wholesale to the value of £800, and resold at prices barely sufficient to recoup the outlay. It was anticipated that the stock would be “ returned” (turned over) three or four times during the year, but the accounts do not enter into details. One of the main objects of the scheme was to prevent the alleged exactions of the local hucksters, who were stigmatised in the Council as “the vermin of the commonwealth”. Still larger purchases of grain, etc., were made in 1637 and 1638, when, owing to bad harvests, the distress was greater than ever.

The Council, in April, 1635, elected the Earl of Pembroke to the post of Lord High Steward, in the room of the Earl of Portland, who died in the previous month. The new official was Lord Chamberlain, and much was doubtless hoped from his influence at Court in reference to the demand for ship-money. That nothing might be wanting to secure his favour, a handsome silver basin and ewer were presented to him soon afterwards, and a “reward” (lumped up with a number of gratuities) was bestowed on his secretary. His lordship exercised his influence in 1636 by recommending a Mr. Mann to the vacant post of Master of the Grammar School, and his nominee was at once elected.

In consequence of the purchase from Sir Charles Gerard of part of the estate of the former Priory of St. James, the Corporation, in 1635, for the first time enjoyed the prisage of wine entering the port during the Whitsun week. Two barks having arrived, the Chamberlain sold the wine so obtained for £39 12s.

The establishment of a Government “running post” from London to Bristol, and other towns was ordered on July 31st. No messengers were thenceforth to run to and from Bristol except those appointed by Thomas Withering, but letters were allowed to be sent by common carriers, or by private messengers passing between friends. The postage was fixed at two pence for under 80 miles, and at four pence for under 140 miles. In October, 1637, John Freeman was appointed “thorough post” at Bristol, and ordered to provide horses for all men riding post on the King's affairs, letters were not to be detained more than half a quarter

136THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1635-36

of an hour, and the carriers were to run seven miles an hour in summer, and five in winter - ideal rates of speed, that were rarely attained even a hundred years later.

Difficulties were encountered at this time in inducing citizens to accept vacant seats in the Common Council. An ordinance was passed in August, 1635, by which it was decreed that any burgess elected into the Corporation, and refusing to serve, should, unless he could swear that he was not worth £1,600, pay such fine as the Chamber thought fit to impose. The order was first put in operation in 1641, when Michael Meredith, one of the Customers of the port, was elected a Councillor. Mr. Meredith at first “utterly refused” to accept the office, insisting that Customs officers were exempted from such service by statute; but eventually he pleaded infirmity, and asked to be released on payment of a fine. He was thereupon mulcted in £60, and dismissed.

The transactions of certain Bristol merchants in the purchase and export of Welsh butter were mentioned under 1620 (see p.76). There is some evidence that the monopolists had not been content to limit their dealings to the large quantity specified in the royal patent; for in February, 1636, the King granted a commission to Dowell, the notorious Bristol Customer, and others, empowering them to compound with those who had been prosecuted in the Star Chamber for transgressing the terms of the license; and a fine of £300 was subsequently levied before they were discharged from prison. By this time the Welsh butter patent had come into the hands of Lord Goring and Sir Henry Hungate, the latter of whom had transferred his share of the monopoly to several Bristol merchants in consideration of a rent of £700 a year. Other Bristolians, however, ventured into the trade, exporting English butter, and the patentees alleged that some officers of the Customs had connived with the interlopers, whose offences had been “smothered”. In the spring of 1639, during a season of great dearth, the King prohibited the exportation of Welsh butter, on which a warm dispute arose between Hungate and his licensees, the former demanding payment of his rent in full, whilst the merchants protested against his claim, alleging that only a thirtieth part of the fixed quantity had been shipped before the King's interference, and that a vast stock was lying on hand “ready to perish”. The result does not appear.

During the spring of 1636, four sail of Turkish corsairs

1636]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.137

boldly entered into the Bristol Channel, causing great consternation in the city. A letter amongst the State Papers alleges that twenty barks speedily fell victims to them, whilst Giles Penn, the Bristol mariner already referred to, addressing Secretary Nicholas in August, asserted that a thousand persons had fallen into the hands of the bandits within the previous six months. If there had been any truth in the Government's allegation that ship-money was imposed to defend the coast from outrage, the royal navy should have been capable of punishing the pirates; but the efforts made by the Corporation to stir the Government into action were wholly ineffectual. The local merchants at length asked permission to fit out three ships as privateers to deal with the malefactors, and on their request being granted Penn appears to have been engaged to command the vessels. He afterwards zealously urged that a Government expedition should be sent against Sallee under his directions, and in hopes of his appointment the Corporation ordered that £10 be given to him, to free English captives at Sallee and Algiers, Bristolians, if any there, to be preferred. He was set aside, however, in favour of Captain Rainsborough (who became a soldier during the Civil War, and distinguished himself at the siege of Bristol in 1646), and that officer, in 1637, not only delivered about 300 English captives from slavery, but relieved the Western coast for some time from piratical incursions. Owing to Penn's knowledge of the Moorish tongue, he was strongly recommended by English merchants to the attention of the Crown, and was subsequently appointed the King's Consul at Sallee. His name does not occur again in local records.

An outbreak of Plague occurred in London during the summer, and caused great alarm throughout the country. The matter is worth mentioning only on account of the incidental information which crops up as to the great importance of the Bristol fairs. The Corporation having given notice that Londoners and their goods would not be admitted into the city whilst the pestilence continued, the excluded traders applied for relief to the Privy Council, which had fled to Oatlands. Persons resorted to St. James's fair, they alleged, from most of the counties in England, Ireland, and Wales; many drapers, skinners, leather sellers, and “upholdsters” rode to the city to bestow many thousand pounds; and divers chapmen and debtors met there and nowhere else; so that the petitioners would be grievous losers if they were shut out. The disease having partially

138THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1636-37

abated in London, the Government ordered that traders from thence who could produce certificates of health from the Lord Mayor should be permitted to traffic at the fair. Similar orders were issued in January and July, 1637, for both fairs, the Lord Mayor being requested to be very careful in granting certificates. The anxiety in Bristol during the summer of the latter year was so extreme that the Corporation commanded every able-bodied citizen to take his turn in watching the Gates, to prevent the entrance of suspected strangers. Nineteen burgesses, assisted by four watchmen receiving 4d. a day, were to be on duty in the daytime, and twenty-one at night, who were to rigorously guard the entrances to the city and the quays at every flood tide. By this arrangement each burgess's turn was estimated “to come about every five weeks”; so that the able-bodied citizens were supposed to number about 1,400.

An order was issued by the Common Council in August respecting the tolling of church bells for the dead. It was decreed that a passing knell should not exceed two hours in length, and that for a funeral more than four hours, and the tolling was to be at one church only. The Corporation had really no power to make such an enactment, and it was probably never obeyed. It is recorded at a much later date that at the death of one wealthy inhabitant the bells of every church in the city were tolled from morning till night.

The Corporation purchased during the autumn, from William Winter, Esq., of Clapton, the manor of North Weston, near Portishead, for the sum of £1,409. The North Weston estate was sold in 1836 for upwards of £16,400.

A new method of harassing the Corporation was invented by some member of the Government in 1637. By a charter granted by Henry IV., subsequently confirmed by Edward IV., the Mayor and Commonalty, who had been grievously annoyed by officers of the Admiralty, were exempted from their interference, and empowered to establish a local Admiralty Court for determining disputes arising in the port. These royal grants were highly prized, inasmuch as many Lord Admirals and their subordinates had sought to encroach on the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals, and had succeeded in claiming cognisance not only of matters done on the high seas, but also of foreign contracts and debts, of causes between merchants and mariners, and even of some disputes between residents of inland towns. On repeated

1637]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.139

occasions the great Admiralty officials had endeavoured to repudiate the special privilege of Bristolians, but after the usual blackmailing had been borne by the victims, the rights conceded by the above charters had been sullenly admitted. On this occasion the Government itself sought to abrogate the ancient privilege, and, besides applying for a writ of Quo warranto, it sent down commissioners charged to inquire into the local system of procedure, and if possible to detect abuses that would throw a colour of justice over its policy. In the end the inquisition resulted in failure, but the Government, nevertheless, insisted on subverting the city's rights. For though permission was granted to hold a court in Bristol, the Judge of the Admiralty was empowered to take a seat in it whenever he chose, and all judgments were subject to appeal to his own Court, sitting in London. The affair was a costly one to the Corporation, involving lengthy visits of deputies to Whitehall, entertainments to the commissioners, and presents to the Lord High Steward and other courtiers. Amongst the last named was a well-known personage, Endymion Porter, Gentleman of the Bedchamber and a favourite of the King, who was admitted to the freedom of the city, and voted a gratuity for his “services”, now invisible.

The Admiralty case was still pending when the Government brought another and still more formidable engine to bear upon the citizens. In January, 1637, Hugh Lewis, Customs Searcher, who has a suspicious appearance of being a tool of Dowell, the Customer, complained to the Privy Council of the alleged malpractices of the Mayor (Richard Long) and other leading merchants. They had, he asserted, unlawfully shipped a quantity of tanned hides and candles, intending to export them, but he, refusing to be bribed by them to allow the goods to pass, had seized the cargo, and was proceeding by law for its confiscation when the owners appealed to the Privy Council, “whereby he was greatly discouraged in his service”. Their lordships gave directions that a commission of inquiry should be applied for to clear up the facts. Nothing more respecting the case appears in the Council's minutes for a twelvemonth, but it is clear that the local Customs authorities sent up further and graver charges against the Corporation, and that the Government changed the nature of the inquiry. For in November, 1637, the King issued a special commission, of which Lord Mohun and “two men of mean quality” (as the Town Clerk described them) named Foxe and Powlett proved to be the

140THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1637

acting members. The document recited that His Majesty had been credibly informed that the magistrates of the city, and others, had unlawfully levied very great sums of money upon imports and exports of merchandise, and ordered the commissioners to discover the offenders, and to ascertain what sums so obtained were due to the King, in order that they might be recovered. On what grounds any part of unlawfully levied money could be claimed by the Crown the commission omitted to explain. The case indeed was so bad that the commissioners carefully concealed the real object of the inquiry. When the royal deputies arrived, accompanied by a crowd of minor mercenaries, the Town Clerk requested that the terms of the commission should be made known, but the application was insolently rejected. The city swarmed with pursuivants and other officials, who browbeat tradesmen, merchants' clerks, shopmen, porters, etc., and dragged them before the inquisitors, who threatened them with imprisonment if they did not give satisfactory evidence, and actually sent some to gaol for disobedience to their behests. Mr. Long, the ex-Mayor, and Master of the Merchants' Society, was roundly abused as an abettor of frauds, whilst Mr. Arundel, another eminent merchant, and the Town Clerk were committed for alleged contempt. In spite of these unscrupulous tactics, the charge of levying illegal duties completely broke down. The truth was that the Corporation and their lessees, the Merchants' Company, had increased the wharfage, and possibly other local dues, to assist in discharging the demands for ship-money; but in this they had merely followed an ancient custom in emergencies. The commissioners next betook themselves to the charges originally raised by the Searcher, Lewis. As has been already shown, some merchants and manufacturers had been granted royal licenses to export butter and leather, to import currants, and to manufacture soap, starch, beer, etc., the quantities in each case being limited by the terms of the patents. The Crown officials, alleging that great frauds had been committed by the licensees exceeding their privileges, had caused writs to be issued out of the Star Chamber, and the inquisitors sought to further these proceedings by ordering the defendants to produce their books and give evidence against their partners, friends and neighbours, whilst the odious system of tempting or intimidating clerks and other servants to make accusations against their employers was resorted to unscrupulously. The proceedings in the Star Chamber were equally discreditable. Many

1637]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.141

respectable citizens, against whom nothing could be proved, were summoned to the Court, which threw some of them into prison, and after allowing others to return home demanded their presence in London afresh; whilst in all cases the men so treated were forced to pay enormous exactions in the shape of fees. After submitting to this tyranny for some months, a deputation of four aldermen and other merchants besought an audience of the King, and prayed him on their knees to take their distress into consideration, But Charles, who it is painful to say had taken much interest in the persecution from the outset, and had personally given orders in the Privy Council for the suits in the Star Chamber, coldly replied that the commission could not be withdrawn or the inquiry suspended; but that the petitioners might, if they thought fit, prefer a Bill in the Star Chamber against those they complained of. The ultimate judgment of that iniquitous tribunal cannot be found in the records. Possibly the fruitlessness of the commission of inquiry became so evident that the Government ordered its instruments to relinquish their work.

As was foreshadowed in a previous page, the case of Morgan, the irrepressible squire of Pill, turned up again in May, 1637, when the Corporation, in a petition to the Privy Council, represented that, in despite of the judgment of the Court of Exchequer, which had been followed by an order for Morgan's imprisonment for contempt, he and his tenants were still perversely disobedient, and nothing had been done. The magistrates had lately held a conference with some of the justices of Somerset with a view to taking action, but this had been ineffectual, and the obnoxious ale-houses were still unremoved. It appears that the Privy Council had forbidden the demolition of the hovels during the previous winter out of charity for the poor families. Their lordships now conceived that the tenants had received abundant notice, and empowered the Corporation to proceed forthwith in carrying out the decree of the Court of Exchequer. Owing to the disappearance of the corporate account-books, evidence is wanting as to the steps actually taken, but there can be little doubt that they were vigorous, and, for a time, effectual.

In spite of numerous royal proclamations, the tobacco plant was very extensively cultivated at this period in Gloucestershire. The Privy Council, in June, forwarded a letter to the county justices strongly censuring them for remissness in supporting the officers sent down to root out

142THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1637-38

the plantations, who had been riotously resisted in various districts. Similar missives were frequently dispatched, clearly without effect, and it is probable that the landed gentry winked at an industry that tended to enhance their rentals. A document in the Historical Manuscript reports (vol. x. part 2) states that the price of the best tobacco in 1638 was one shilling per ounce.

A minute in the Corporation Bargain Book, dated September 9th, shows that the medieval system of constructing town dwellings was still in favour. The surveyors certify that they had viewed the two tenements then being built by Francis Creswick in Corn Street, adjoining St. Werburgh's church, in which the upper story projected four feet beyond the lower story, and was supported by posts on the “city waste” - that is, the public street. It was determined that Creswick should pay, for liberty so to do, 6s. 8d. per annum. The houses in question were removed early in the nineteenth century, for the erection of the Commercial Rooms.

In the summer of 1638 the King issued a proclamation imposing an additional duty of 40s. per tun on all wines imported, and immediately afterwards farmed out the new tax to the Vintners' Company of London, who, little foreseeing the Parliamentary troubles in store for them, lost no time in putting their powers in operation. One morning in September, a deputation of the Company presented themselves in Bristol, accompanied by one of the detested royal pursuivants, and after presenting a mandate from the Privy Council commanding submission to their behests, they demanded a sight of all the wine stored in the city. The inspection having been made, they next requested the payment of the extra duty, not merely on the stock in hand, but on what had been sold during the previous three months. Urgent appeals for relief having been vainly addressed to the Privy Council, the merchants were driven to offer a composition, and the Londoners consented to accept a fixed sum of £3,500 per annum, providing that ten wealthy citizens would become security for its payment. The collection of the impost was soon found to be impracticable. Half the local vintners became insolvent, others refused to pay the tax, and the total amount received during two years was only £800, although 4,250 tuns of wine had been brought into port. In 1640 the Vintners' Company commenced an action against the guarantors for £4,450, being eighteen months' composition, less the above instalment.

1638]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.143

The suit was still proceeding in February, 1642, when only about £200 more had been wrung from the citizens. By that time, however, Parliament had dealt trenchantly with many of the King's arbitrary imposts, including those on wine. A report of a House of Commons' committee in May, 1641, charged the London vintners with having been projectors of the last tax, and asserted that the Company, whilst paying only £19,000 yearly to the Crown, had sought to exact £170,000 from the subject. The Bristol merchants were thus encouraged to urge their grievances on Parliament, and a deputation was sent up to Westminster, the leader of which was Mr. George Bowcher, whose tragic fate at no distant day was then unforeseen. The London vintners, whose chief, Alderman Abel, with some of his confederates, was already in prison, became panic-stricken at the prospect, submitted humbly to the Commons, offering fines for pardon, and doubtless dropped their suit, of which there is no further mention.

Monopolies being in high favour at Court in 1638, the Bristol Merchant Venturers were induced to hope that, by royal favour, they might realize their long-cherished desire to crush the competition of interlopers. On November 28th they presented a petition to the King, setting forth their incorporation by Edward VI., and their subsequent good works in supporting an almshouse, in providing pensions for decayed merchants and seamen's widows, and in maintaining a schoolmaster and curate; and urging that further privileges should be conceded to them as an encouragement to continue on the same path. The King referred the petition to the Attorney-General, who soon afterwards reported in its favour in general terms, but added that certain qualifications must be introduced into the additional privileges solicited. His report was approved by His Majesty, and a new charter was thereupon granted on January 7th, 1639. (All the above documents are preserved at the Record Office.) Unfortunately for the merchants, the Attorney-General's “qualifications” were destructive of the object the Society had at heart, no powers being conceded to suppress the rivalry of non-members. Improvements were made in the constitution of the Company. A body of ten “Assistants” was created, who with the Master and Wardens were to make ordinances and enforce penalties: but such ordinances were not to be prejudicial to the royal prerogative or to the Corporation of the city. The annual elections were thenceforth to take place on November 10th,

144THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1639

and new Masters and Wardens were to be sworn before the outgoing officials, and not, as previously, before the Mayor and Aldermen.

The Government, in February, 1639, was compelled to withdraw the arbitrary orders by which the foreign tobacco trade was made a monopoly for the benefit of London merchants. At a sitting of the Privy Council on the 17th a petition was considered of the farmers of the Customs for an abrogation of the system, owing to the great injury they sustained from it, many ships laden with tobacco being, they alleged, carried into western outports under pretence of damage, when the cargoes were smuggled ashore, and the duties lost. Their lordships determined to reverse their policy, and it was ordered that tobacco might be thereafter landed at Bristol, Plymouth, Dartmouth and Southampton. A great stimulus was thus imparted to local commerce, and the trade rapidly developed.

The country was now hastening to a crisis that was fated to shatter the financial fabric which the King had so laboriously built up during his ten years' despotism. The revolt of the Scotch nation against Laud's ecclesiastical policy could not be suppressed except by force of arms, and in February, 1639, the King issued a mandate for troops to the Lords-Lieutenant of counties. Being resolved, he said, to repair in person to the North with his army, to maintain the safety of the kingdom, he required a certain number of infantry to be drawn out of the trained bands, and sent to attend him at York. The contingent demanded from Bristol was 60, whilst 1,000 were summoned from Gloucestershire. From an imperfect minute in the Common Council books it appears that the request was immediately complied with, and that the cost of equipping and sending forward the men was borne by the Corporation, who paid £15 for the carriage to York of fifty stand of arms. How little ardour the new levies displayed in fighting the “Bishops' War” is a matter of history.

The starchmakers of Bristol being few in number, and apparently unrepresented in the Common Council, the story of their sufferings at the hands of London monopolists has been lost to posterity. They are supposed to have made terms with the King's patentees for the manufacture of a limited quantity of starch, and, like the soapmakers, they were harassed with charges of exceeding the allotted output. In August the Privy Council forwarded to the Mayor the complaints of the Corporation of Starchmakers, alleging

1639]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.145

illegalities; and their lordships ordered that the offenders should be brought before the justices and sharply examined, especially Thomas and John Collyer, who were charged with having resisted the starch-searchers (that is, the patentees' spies) with swords whilst attempting to seize contraband starch. All others engaged in the same illegal trade were also to be arrested, and to be compelled to give bonds to forbear the manufacture. The State Papers of this year are largely composed of documents of a similar character, arising out of the tyrannical proceedings of the Crown in reference to monopolies, illegal patents, imposts on wine, soap and other articles, forced loans, resumption of forest rights, invasions of private property by saltpetre men, commissions for compounding tor penal offences, and especially to the decisions of the Star Chamber and Court of High Commission in defiance of the common law.

A letter from Bishop Skinner, of Bristol, to Archbishop Laud, dated August 26th, shows the manner in which the royal minions attempted to intimidate judges in the administration of justice. A man named Davis having been arraigned at the local gaol delivery - it is not said for what offence, though it seems probable the prisoner was a Puritan preacher - the Bishop, one of Laud's most zealous instruments, states that he waited on the Recorder on the evening before the trial, and expressed his desire “that a matter of this high nature should not be slubbered over, but carried with severity”. Serjeant Glanville replied that he had advised upon the case with the Lord Keeper, and the Attorney-General, and also with the Primate himself, and the Bishop departed. But when the trial came on, though the Recorder showed a “semblance of severity”, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, to the great joy of the prisoner, who knelt down in the dock and prayed for the King, the archbishop, and the bishops. The irritated meddler concludes:- “My conceit is that the whole business was a mere scene, wherein the judge acted his part cunningly, the jury plausibly, and the prisoner craftily”.

An illustration of the manner in which Charles I. habitually intermeddled with public bodies appears in the civic minute-books for October. The office of Chamberlain having become vacant, eight candidates petitioned for the place, and the choice of the Council fell upon William Chetwyn, a merchant of good repute and of twenty years' experience. At the next meeting, early in November, a

146THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1639

letter from the King was produced, alleging that certain members of the Council, for their private ends, and in disregard of the city's liberties, had chosen a man then absent from the realm and unfit to hold such an office. “Our will and pleasure is that, notwithstanding your former election, you forbear to ratify the same, and forthwith proceed to a new election, recommending to your choice our well-beloved subject Ralph Farmer ... of whose abilities we have received ample testimony”. The King's will being law, the Council at once obeyed orders. But, in the belief that His Majesty had been secretly prejudiced, it was resolved to send a deputation to Court to plead the privileges of the city, with a further intimation that Farmer was not qualified to hold the office when he applied for it, being a non-burgess, and that Chetwyn was the worthiest of the candidates. The necessity of convoking a Parliament was already pressing upon the King, and he probably saw the imprudence of offending a great Corporation. At all events, His Majesty received the deputation graciously, and informed them that he left the Council free to act at their discretion. “ Whereupon, without loss of time, Farmer's election was ” frustrated and made void“, and Chetwyn was reappointed. There is reason to believe that the new Chamberlain introduced a remarkable innovation in the corporate system of book-keeping. All the audit books that have come down to us preceding his election display the receipts and payments in ancient Roman numerals. The accounts for the year ending Michaelmas, 1640, on the contrary, are made up in the Arabic figures now universally adopted in civilized countries. Having regard to the portentous difficulty of casting up the Roman formula, when, for example, xl£, xls. and xld. might follow each other in successive entries, the task of auditing must have been excessively arduous and protracted, even with the ”counters“ and other apparatus that the Corporation employed for facilitating the work.

It is well known that the King's system of civil Government and Laud's intolerant rule in ecclesiastical affairs caused many Puritans, despairing of relief, to seek homes and liberty in the infant settlements of New England; but local annalists afford no information as to the part taken by Bristolians in furthering this migration. Some interesting facts have been discovered in the minutes of the Privy Council. On November 22nd, 1639, their lordships considered a petition of Richard Long, John Taylor, and John Gonning, three eminent Bristol merchants, and

1639-40]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.147

owners of a ship of 180 tons, named the Mary Rose. The vessel had previously traded to Newfoundland, whence she carried cargoes of fish to Spain, and returned home laden with wine. She was now destined, however, if the Government would permit it, to carry over to New England a party of 120 emigrants - children of a grand destiny - and a miscellaneous cargo of meal, shoes, cheese, powder, shot, candles, pewter, soap, nails, wine, vinegar, and 260 gallons of ”hot water“ (spirits). The Privy Council directed that the Customs officers of the port should allow the vessel to proceed, provided the passengers first took the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, the latter being well known to be galling to Puritans. Similar licenses were granted on the same condition to the ship Neptune, with 125 passengers, and to the ship Fellowship, with 260 passengers, in January, 1640; and three months later to the ship Charles, with 260 passengers, and the ship William and John, with 60 passengers. All these vessels belonged to Bristol and carried general cargoes, the last-named taking out a consignment of 20 dozen of Monmouth caps, whilst the Charles had 760 gallons of ”strong waters“. It is probable that the above emigrants settled in that region of New England now known as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, both of which States have a county called Bristol, and the latter has also a town of that name. In 1632 Robert Aldworth and his relative Giles Elbridge, two leading local merchants, obtained a grant from the Council of New England of a considerable tract of land, and were promised 100 additional acres for every person they brought over, on condition that they founded and maintained a colony.

The expense of the Bishops' War in Scotland had plunged the King in financial embarrassment, and an appeal to Parliament for assistance was unwillingly resolved upon. The election for Bristol took place in March, 1640, when the Corporation, in conjunction with the freeholders, but excluding the free burgesses, returned the Recorder, Serjeant Glanville, and Alderman Humphrey Hooke. The former was elected Speaker by the House of Commons, to which a deputation was sent by the Common Council, at the suggestion of Alderman Hooke, to represent the many grievances under which the citizens were suffering. On the refusal of the House to grant supplies before discussing grievances, the King wrathfully dissolved Parliament after a session of only three weeks, producing bitter disappointment and irritation throughout the country.

148THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1640

The freemen of Bristol did not submit to their disfranchisement without a protest. At a meeting of the Common Council in October, a petition was presented on behalf of ”a great number of free burgesses, requesting that their body might be permitted to vote for representatives “in conformity with statutes”. The Council, however, fell back upon the ordinance of 1625 (see p.93), which they alleged was founded on usage, and it was ordered that all future elections should be conducted on the same narrow basis. Though nothing is to be found in the Journals of the Long Parliament, which are notoriously very imperfect, it may be inferred that the freemen represented their grievances and obtained redress, for their right to the franchise was never again disputed after 1640.

Even whilst the Short Parliament was sitting, the Government pursued its unconstitutional policy. On the dismissal of the Houses the patentees of monopolies exercised great oppression, and many people were prosecuted and ruined for alleged evasions. Ship-money was also rigorously exacted, seizures of goods and imprisonments for default being of constant occurrence. Towards the end of April, the King addressed a letter to the civic authorities,, requiring 200 men to be raised and equipped at the city's expense for service in the army. The troopers were to be paid eightpence per head daily from the time of their embodiment. The Council assented to the royal mandate, but the Town Clerk was despatched to London to seek relief from the burden, on the ground that a demand for land forces from a maritime port then being taxed to find money and men for the Navy was an unusual stretch of the royal prerogative. But no relief was obtainable, and the Corporation disbursed £674 on the troopers, and £308 for ammunition.

Ordinances for the Tailors' Company were drawn up by the Common Council in May. An idea of their general character may be derived from two brief extracts. A citizen, not a member of the Company, presuming to make any manner of garment except for himself and family, was to be fined 20s., or imprisoned in default of payment. Any tradesman, not being a tailor, making or selling linen or woollen stockings was made liable to a penalty of 3s. 4d.

The first recorded enunciation from a Bristol pulpit of advanced Puritanical opinions was made in September by the Rev. Matthew Hazard, who had been appointed incumbent of St. Mary Redcliff and vicar of St. Ewen's a

1640]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.149

few months previously. In consequence of the Scotch war, a form of prayer for the success of the King's arms had been drawn up by order of the Government, and was required to be read in every parish church. One clause of this formula denounced the traitorous subjects who had cast off obedience to their anointed sovereign, and were rebelliously seeking to invade the realm. Mr. Hazard thought proper to omit this condemnation, and substituted for it a prayer that God would reveal to the King those traitorous enemies that disturbed the public peace and molested the hearts of the Church and of faithful people. His expressions were forthwith reported to the Corporation, but they declined to express any opinion on the matter. The loyalty of the Council at this period is sufficiently proved by the fact that a carving of the royal arms was purchased about the same date, and ordered to be set up in the Guildhall.

The autumn assizes of the year were of unusual length. In September, Mr. Robert Yeamans, so soon to become tragically memorable, was paid £40 for entertaining Chief Justice Brampston at his house for four nights, the Chamberlain adding “which was extraordinary”. An outlay of £9 more was incurred for rowing his lordship down to Hungroad and entertaining him on board “the Globe” - probably to enable him to inspect the site of Morgan's demolished alehouses at Pill.

The local election of members for what was destined to be the Long Parliament took place on October 12th. For some unknown reason, the Corporation, who, as has been just stated, excluded the freemen from the franchise, did not re-elect the Recorder, but returned Alderman Richard Long as colleague of the former member, Alderman Hooke. In one of the most untrustworthy of local works, Tovey's “Life of Colston”, Alderman Long is stigmatised as “a gloomy fanatic, prepared to go to any extreme”. As a matter of fact, the Alderman, who was expelled from the House of Commons in 1642 for being concerned in monopolies, was a devoted Royalist, and had subsequently to compound for his “delinquency” by payment of £800 - one-tenth of his estate.

A sudden and unexpected change of the corporate policy in reference to the Welsh butter monopoly took place during the autumn. It has been already shown that the Council were accustomed to make large purchases of butter, and of vending it by retail at or even below cost-price,

150THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1640

with the undoubted object of facilitating the export transactions of the merchants interested in the royal patent. Even the audit book for the year under review notes the receipt of £170 for butter sold to the labouring classes. But at a meeting of the Privy Council on November 1st a petition from the Corporation was presented, setting forth that butter, “the principal food for the poorer sort of people”, was selling at the enormous price of 5d. per pound, causing the poor to complain of the exports still being made by the patentees in contravention of the terms of their license. Their lordships appointed a committee to inquire into the abuse, with directions, which were also sent to the Mayor, to prevent further exportations at Bristol until prices had fallen to normal rates. The ill-humour of the Corporation came to an end soon afterwards, and large purchases of butter were made in subsequent years.

The Privy Council dealt on the following day with another monopoly in which Bristol merchants were largely interested. Complaints had been previously made to the Government that sole leather had greatly advanced in price, owing to the practices of the patentees for exporting calf skins, by whom, under colour of their license, many hides of the best sort were illegally shipped to foreign ports; and the Government had consequently ordered that calf-skin exports should be stopped until the King's pleasure was made known. The interdict had dismayed the patentees of calf skins, one of whom, James Maxwell, had prayed the King to remove it, asserting that there had been no frauds, and that the export of the flimsy skins (only fit, as another interested party averred, to make shoes for foreigners) could not affect the price of good leather. At the above meeting the King's assent was announced to Maxwell's petition, and he and his lessees were allowed to continue the trade. No relaxation was made in favour of the Bristol patentee, but he certainly obtained one, for exports on an extensive scale continued as usual. The absence of direct evidence is due to the complete disorganization of the Privy Council, caused by the vigorous measures of the House of Commons. Laud, who had been practically Prime Minister, was consigned to the Tower, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary Windebank fled the country to avoid a similar fate, and the Council's minute-books for twenty years are an absolute blank after this date.

The year 1640 is locally notable for its record of the first

1640-41]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.151

open secession from the Church of England, a movement necessarily followed by the opening of the first “ dissenting” place of worship. One day, says the quaint and curious book known as the “Broadmead Records”, a farmer of Stapleton, a butcher of Lawford's Gate, a farrier of Wine Street, and a young minister, named Bacon, living in Lewin's Mead, met together in Broad Street, at the house of Mr. Hazard, the incumbent of St. Ewen's and St. Mary Redcliff already referred to. Mrs. Hazard having joined the party, it was agreed after grave deliberation to separate from the worship of the world, and to go no more to the services set down in the Book of Common Prayer. In the morning they proposed to attend church to hear Mr. Hazard preach, but in the afternoon they determined to meet in private to engage in such exercises as they approved. Subsequent notes will show that Mrs. Hazard, who probably instigated this meeting, was one of the phenomena of the period - a strong-minded female Puritan; and she saw no impropriety in offering her husband's vicarage as a place for the first separatist gatherings. In a short time the little band of “non-conformists” obtained as a regular minister one Mr. Pennell, who, having resigned the incumbency of St. Leonard's church, Corn Street, “closed in” with them, and “the Church” soon increased to about 160 persons, including many residents in the suburbs who came in to attend the services. Where the meetings took place is not stated, but it seems unlikely that so numerous a congregation could have assembled in an ordinary dwelling. By this time the separatist movement had made considerable progress, and other meetings were being held. In August, 1641, Dennis Hollister, afterwards M.P., and William Cooke, grocer, High Street, were brought before the magistrates and committed for trial, charged with keeping a conventicle and occasioning a riot for several hours before Cooke's door. One Mrs. Clements was also “presented” for openly asserting that the parson of Temple “could preach no more than a black dog”. The gatherings were broken up in 1643, owing to the brutality of the Royalist soldiers then in possession of the city, and most of the ministers took refuge in London until the tyranny was overpassed - many being plundered and maltreated during their migration.

In January, 1641, the Common Council resolved that a letter should be forwarded to the members for Bristol, representing the wrong done to the city - a Staple Town - by

152THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1641

the landing, with the assent of the officers of Customs, of wools at Minehead, “which ought to be landed here”. The grievance alleged by a body that was frequently clamorous against the favours bestowed on London was one unlikely to meet with much sympathy in the House of Commons, then busily engaged in abolishing obnoxious privileges, and there is no evidence that the subject was ever introduced. The members were further instructed to seek redress against the persons who, during the late despotism, “by unjust informations to his Majesty, and by unwarrantable proceedings in the city”, had injured and abused local merchants “by entering into the Merchants' Hall, taking away their books of account and other writings, and by procuring many of the inhabitants to be pursuivanted up and unjustly dealt with”. It seems pretty certain that some of the persons thus denounced were the London vintners, who had farmed the illegal wine duty, and whose imperious conduct in the city has been already described.

Amongst the numberless petitioners who were then besieging the House of Commons was the indomitable Pill landowner, Mr. Morgan, who raised a grievous moan over his demolished pothouses and his punishment for having done what he liked with his own. The Corporation appointed a committee to draw up a statement of his malpractices, and the Town Clerk was sent up to Westminster to offer detailed explanations. The subject is not mentioned in the Journals of the House of Commons.

A commission was issued by the Court of Exchequer in July, addressed to Thomas Colston, Nathaniel Cale, and other local merchants, ordering them to hold an inquiry in reference to a suit raised by a Customs Waiter against William Penneye, Bryan Rogers, and other Bristolians. The commissioners accordingly held a court in September at the Rose tavern, then a noted hostelry, and many witnesses were examined. The case arose out of the King's edict prohibiting the importation of tobacco into Bristol (see p.116), and the evidence shows how local merchants were driven to seek relief from the edict. It was deposed that in November, 1637, the Lord Treasurer, on the earnest petition (and doubtless at the heavy charge) of Richard Lock, merchant, and with the approval of Lord Goring and others, farmers of the tobacco duty, ordered the Customs officers at Bristol to permit Lock to land a cargo of tobacco from St. Kitts. Also that the same Minister, in January, 1638, on the prayer of Penneye, gave similar license for the

1641]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.153

landing at this port of ninety cwt. of tobacco from Barbadoes, and in the following month granted permission to a ship to take in as much St. Kitts tobacco as would “victual” her for a voyage to France. The prosecutor further deposed that during the last-mentioned year certain ships brought large quantities of tobacco into the Avon, and landed some without warrant, and that when he attempted to seize part of this prohibited merchandise he was thwarted by the defendants. The evidence on the other side disclosed the real cause of the prosecution. The defendant Rogers was the local agent of the tobacco farmers, and had been accustomed, with their approval, to grant licenses to merchants to land tobacco, on their paying handsomely for the privilege in addition to the regular duty. Cale, one of the commissioners, deposed that he had himself bought 40,000 weight by an arrangement with one of Lord Goring's officers. Other witnesses asserted that much of the tobacco alleged to have been smuggled out of Hungroad was in fact delivered to the agents of the farmers, and sent to London in accordance with the King's mandate, whilst the full duty was paid on what remained in Bristol. The whole testimony raises a suspicion that the prosecuting Landing Waiter was irritated by seeing that the bribes he coveted for himself went into the pockets of other people. He doubtless dropped his suit, of which there is no further mention.

The growing wealth of the Corporation is indicated by a resolution adopted in August, whereby the annual allowance of £52 previously made to the Mayor was increased to £104, and for serving a second time the sum was raised to £208. The Chamberlain's salary was increased about the same time from £20 to £60, exclusive of his numerous fees.

A great panic arose during the summer in consequence of an outbreak of Plague at Taunton and other towns. The Corporation adopted the customary measures to prevent infection, watchmen being posted at the Gates to keep out suspicious visitors, whilst inhabitants showing symptoms of infection were closely shut up in their houses, and supplied with food until their convalescence was no longer doubtful. A physician and a barber received £2 from the Chamberlain for looking after suspected invalids, but the leeches themselves fell into a sickly condition, and were rigorously confined to their homes, the doctor afterwards receiving £4 and the barber £10 in compensation for the

154THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1641-42

suspension of their businesses. Towards the close of the year the chronic distress of the working classes was aggravated by the excessive dearness of Kingswood coal, the cause of which is not explained. Several shiploads of fuel were consequently brought from Swansea and sold to the poor at cost-price. Perhaps to cheer the spirits of the citizens, the Corporation perambulated the boundaries of the borough with unusual ceremony, a banquet being held in the open air, followed by a great duck hunt at Treen Mills (the site of Bathurst Basin). One of the last disbursements of the year was for raising bonfires before the Mayor's house and the High Cross on the King's safe return out of Scotland - a further proof of the loyalty of the Corporation.

The uninterrupted sittings of Parliament would in any case have greatly increased the “wages” due to the city representatives. The charge was still further augmented by the liberality of the Common Council, who raised the honorarium to each member from 4s. to 6s. 8d. per day. For the year ending October those gentlemen received £206 for 309 days' services. Upwards of £100 was subsequently paid to them for the further period they were at Westminster previous to their expulsion from the House.

Modern historians concur in fixing on the opening weeks of 1642 as the turning-point in the great struggle between Charles I. and his Parliament. The latter, whose policy was originally supported by an overwhelming majority of the nation, had been sitting for fifteen months, during which it had swept away innumerable abuses and reestablished the constitutional rights so long trampled upon. Great popular movements are generally followed by a reaction, and the very achievements of the Parliament tended to cool the zeal of many moderate and cautious observers. Symptoms, moreover, were not wanting of the rise of a school of politicians which, not content with reinstating the nation in its rights and liberties, aimed at fundamental changes in the system of government, as well political as ecclesiastical. As a natural consequence, conservative instincts became alarmed at the prospect, and an ever-increasing party in the House of Commons rallied to the support of the Crown. Had the King displayed prudence and foresight in circumstances so favourable to him, it seems unquestionable that his triumph over the revolutionary theorists would have been speedy and complete. But in his impatience to trample on his enemies he brought ruin on himself. On January 4th, accompanied

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.155

by a band of armed and insolent troopers, who blocked the approaches to the House of Commons, he entered the Chamber itself, and demanded the surrender of Mr. Pym, the ablest of the Puritan leaders (a native of Somerset), and four others, whose treason, he said, was entitled to no privilege. The outrage, committed in the teeth of his promise a few days before, “on the honour of a King”, to defend the privileges of the House, destroyed the belief of thousands in his good faith, banished their hope of reconciliation and peace, and kindled a widespread feeling that His Majesty, even whilst making many concessions, was still looking forward to the re-establishment of absolutism and a bloody revenge.

These facts must be borne in mind in reviewing the local incidents of the crisis. It has been shown in the foregoing pages that the Corporation, though complaining of many grievances, had remained loyal to the Crown. But there are many indications, after the attempt on the five members, that the local supporters of Parliament increased in influence and numbers. The arrival in the port of about 400 famishing Irish Protestants, who had escaped from the savages then massacring thousands of English blood in the King's name, added fuel to the growing disaffection. Already, one of the captaincies in the trained bands having become vacant, the Council had appointed William Cann, a prominent partisan of the Parliament, to the post. Early in February the members for the city, by direction of the House of Commons, made an agreement with Miles Jackson and William Merrick, two local merchants of “Roundhead” principles, to man, equip, and victual three ships, with guns and ammunition equal to men-of-war, for a cruise of eight months, the outlay for which Parliament undertook to repay. About the same time the King, in a letter to the Mayor, after complaining of “upstart sects in religion” and of the rebellious conduct of some malevolent citizens, ordered his worship to receive no troops either on his own side or that of the Parliament, but to defend the city for His Majesty's use. But the sympathy of the Corporation was so far from being evoked that (if we may trust Mr. Seyer, probably quoting some chronicle) before the King's messenger had left the city the Mayor dispatched four cannon to Marlborough to assist in fortifying that place against His Majesty. On March 15th the Common Council appointed a numerous committee to draw up “a fit petition to Parliament, to be subscribed by the burgesses and

156THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642

inhabitants, as well for thanks to be given them as touching other things”. A copy of this petition has not been preserved, but it is obvious that its promoters were not friendly to the King. Threatened violence, however, was firmly provided against. In April, when it was reported that preparations were being made for a rising in the Redcliff district, the sheriffs were directed to proceed there with a sufficient force, and to seize the clubs and other weapons of those engaged in the confederacy. On May 21st the Common Council, after a full debate, resolved that petitions in favour of reconciliation should be addressed both to the King and the Parliament, and a committee of ten members, selected equally from the two parties, was appointed to draw them up with all expedition. The task, as might have been foreseen, proved insuperable, and the subsequent selection of two ardent Royalist clergymen, Messrs. Towgood and Standfast, directed to revise the draft memorials, was little calculated to restore harmony. After nearly two months' contention, the Council resolved to shelve both petitions “in regard they have been so long retarded”. Before that time, in fact, the civic body had definitely abandoned the Royalist cause. On June 7th the Speaker of the House of Commons sent a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen requesting contributions from the city, by way of loan, for the defence of the kingdom and the support of the army in Ireland; whereupon the Common Council resolved that £1,000 should be lent to Parliament for those purposes, and that loans should also be invited from the members individually and from the inhabitants. Altogether, the subscription in the Council Chamber, apart from the corporate vote, amounted to £2,625. The Mayor (John Locke) offered £50. Eight of the aldermen gave £300 amongst them. One councillor (Richard Aldworth) put down his name for £150. Two others subscribed £100 each, and most of the others either £50 or £25. It is a surprising fact that Robert Yeamans and Thomas Colston, afterwards famous as Royalists, contributed £50 each. The only non-subscribers were Aldermen Jones and Taylor, and Francis Creswick, Gabriel Sherman, John Gronning, Miles Jackson, John Langton, Edward Pitt, and John Bush.

Contemporaneously with the important incident just recorded, an event occurred in the city which is now not a little bewildering. On May 12th the House of Commons, after many previous discussions on monopolies, during which the licenses held by Bristol merchants were

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.157

doubtless sharply criticised, resolved that Humphrey Hooke and Richard Long, the two members for the city, were “ beneficiaries in the project of wines”, contrary to the order of the House, and thereby disqualified to sit in Parliament. A new writ was ordered to issue, and an election took place early in June, when the Recorder, Sir John Glanville, was reinstated in his former position, and Alderman John Taylor was returned as his colleague. As the new members have always been described as ardent Royalists, their selection seems to be in astounding contradiction to the action of the Common Council. The only feasible explanation appears to be that the opinions of the new representatives, like those of many worthy men at that period, were perplexed and uncertain, and that in a personal light they were generally respected for moderation and ability. Moreover, whilst the ex-Speaker's position in the Short Parliament had cast a reflected credit on his constituents, Mr. Taylor was, for some time longer, so much in harmony with the policy of the House of Commons that, after the outbreak of the Civil War, he subscribed £50 towards the needs of Parliament, “and promised more, if needful”. The annalists of the time are absolutely silent in reference to this remarkable election, which was also unknown to both Mr. Barrett and Mr. Seyer.

The King having resolved on war, the Marquis of Hertford, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset and Bristol, received a commission to proceed to the West to secure the county for the royal cause, and to seek for the sympathy and support of Bristol, the importance of which, in every point of view, was regarded as vital both by His Majesty and his opponents. At a meeting of the Council on July 11th, it was intimated that his lordship was drawing near, whereupon “it was thought fitting” that he should be suitably entertained, so that he might not “be driven to take up his lodgings at an inn”. The Great House on St. Augustine's Back having been offered for this purpose by Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Mr. Smyth, of Long Ashton, they were thanked “for their love, and suitable provision was made for the expected guest”. The Marquis, however, took up his quarters at Wells, contenting himself with applying to the Mayor, through Sir F. Gorges and Mr. Smyth, for permission to send some troops of cavalry into Bristol; but this the Mayor promptly refused, pleading the King's orders against the admittance of soldiers on either side. Lord Hertford, a few days later, whilst moving on Bristol

158THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642

with no friendly intent, was defeated at Chewton Mendip, and his forces were scattered by the troops collected by Alexander Popham and other Puritan gentry. The House of Commons passed a vote of thanks to the gentlemen of Somerset for their gallantry, and Mr. Taylor, M.P., was directed to thank the Bristolians who had “showed forward” in the affair. Mr. Smyth, who had been in the Royalist camp, for which he was expelled from Parliament, fled to Minehead, and thence to Carctiff, where he soon after died.

The combat at Chewton Mendip stirred the Council to take vigorous action for improving the defences of the city, and for providing for the wants of the inhabitants in the event of a siege. On August 14th it was ordered that the city Gates should be repaired and made strong with chains and other necessaries, that all defects in the walls should be made good, and that suitable ordnance and ammunition, with five skilled gunners, should be provided. The aldermen were directed to visit their wards and to report as to what arms were in the hands of the inhabitants, what persons were able to bear them but were unprovided, and what number of unarmed men were in a position to equip themselves. And the Chamberlain received orders to borrow £1,000 forthwith, and £1,000 as occasion required, for the purchase of corn, butter, cheese, and other provisions for the relief of the poor and other inhabitants. A few days later, it was resolved that 300 muskets and 150 corslets should be added to the city's store of arms. The erection of an extensive line of outworks was not then contemplated. One of the committees appointed to carry out the above resolutions reported that a piece of void ground between Bridewell and the Pithay Gate, with a tower there, was “a very fit and considerable place for planting one piece of ordnance for the safety of the city”, and the Council approved of the proposal and ordered it to be carried out. A very great quantity of gunpowder, bullets, etc., was purchased, much of the powder being stored in the Guildhall! The Mayor was directed to buy a cargo of 100 tons of wheat, offered at the then enormous price of 32s. per quarter. Of butter about 3,600 lb. was obtained from Wales and Newport at a cost of £413. Altogether £1,900 were expended for provisions, the money being borrowed from divers persons. Lady Mansell, of Margam Abbey, generously lent £600 free of interest, Alderman Holworthy advanced £600 at 6 per cent., but Alderman

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.159

Gonning, whom some annalists style a Royalist, demanded 7 per cent, interest for a loan of the same sum.

The minute-books bearing on these transactions are uniformly reticent as to the political opinions of the predominant party. But the members of the committee chosen to strengthen the defences are known to have been zealous Parliamentarians, and one of them, Joseph Jackson, was appointed trained-band captain of an additional company of 100 men raised during the summer. The Corporation, moreover, obeyed the order of Parliament that Denzil Holies, one of the Puritan leaders, should be admitted to review the trained bands - a fact which excludes all doubt as to the principles animating the majority both of the Council and the civic militia. But, as if to soothe the feelings of the minority, the hospitality hitherto always accorded to the reviewing officer was conspicuous from its absence, the Chamberlain's only disbursement on the occasion being 33s., the pay of six drummers, six “phifers”, and the usual sergeants. It is somewhat amazing, moreover, to find that at a time when the King had taken the field, and blood had already been spilt, the members of the Corporation gave themselves up to two days of jollification, and spent more than was usual on their duck-hunting and Froom fishing sports. The Council were still apathetic in October, when about 2,000 soldiers, under orders for Ireland, arrived in the city, accompanied by two members of Parliament, who had instructions to apply to the Corporation for an additional loan. The deputies, writing to the Speaker on the 17th, stated that they had seen the Mayor and many other well-affected persons, judging by their words, but nothing had been subscribed. They had also seen the aldermanic body, and put them in mind of their duties, but their only answer was a request for time to consider. There was also nothing being collected for Customs, which was an evil example to other towns. Two days later, at a meeting of the Council, it was resolved that, in view of the recent heavy disbursements and decay of trade, no money could be lent, and Mr. Hooke, Mr. Colston, and others were directed to draw up a “meet answer” to the House of Commons. On the other hand, it was agreed that a large outlay for victualling and shipping the troops should be advanced by the Corporation, on the faith of the Speaker's promise of repayment (which was redeemed in the following year); that the work of fortifying the Castle should be taken in hand forthwith, and that the

160THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642

owners of hovels standing against or about the Tower (the Norman Keep) should be compounded with, and the dwellings demolished.

The assumed attitude of neutrality became practically untenable in the following week. On October 24th the House of Commons, losing patience, addressed a communication to the Mayor, the Sheriffs, Aldermen Tomlinson, Charlton, Holworthy, and Vickris, and Luke Hodges, councillor, requiring them to go from house to house, throughout the city, asking for all men's subscriptions to the Parliament, and to receive money, plate, and horses on behalf of the cause. Under the influence of this spur, and of the more exciting incidents about to be recorded, the Council on November 1st raised a subscription amongst themselves with practical unanimity. Six aldermen contributed £20 each, and their four colleagues from £5 to £10. The only other, Mr. Taylor, was in the House of Commons. The councillors gave from £10 to £4, the only non-subscribers being F. Creswick, T. Colston, and Thomas Hooke. Directions were then given to each alderman to visit his ward, accompanied by the clergy, churchwardens, and chief constables, and to collect from those of ability to contribute. The result was recorded by the Chamberlain in the following January:- “Received of several persons, which was lent to furnish the present occasions of King and Kingdom, £2,397 13s. 7½d. (besides 1,591 ounces of plate afterwards delivered back to the owners, only some four parcels are sold)”. An additional item follows of £182 9s. 4d. received for 827 ounces of plate, contributed by Messrs. Tomlinson, Sherman, Wyatt, Miles Jackson, and Young, and sold to a goldsmith, raising the total subscription to nearly £2,600.

The Common Council's change of front at this juncture, however, was mainly caused, not by the letter of the House of Commons, but by the action of the Puritan gentry in the neighbouring counties. On October 24th the Chamber had to deliberate upon a letter forwarded by the Association of Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wilts, “desiring a mutual association with the city for the defence of the King and Kingdom against all forces sent into the district without consent of Parliament”. It was resolved to assent to such an association, and a committee of four members was appointed to confer with the promoters of the design. A letter to the gentry approving of the scheme was also unanimously adopted, in the following week it was determined that, in addition to the military preparations for the defence of the

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.161

city, an armed ship should be fitted out, to be followed by another, if found necessary. A hundred musketeers were to be in arms every night, under the supervision of five of the Council, who were to undertake this duty by turns. “And 'tis thought fit that a drum or two be at each Gate as occasion shall require in those times of distraction”.

The fight at Edgehill, on October 23rd, ought to have convinced all parties that a peaceful compromise had become hopeless. Yet the minutes of a pathetic meeting of the Council on November 8th cannot be read without a feeling of pity and respect for men overridden by events beyond their control. “This day, the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs and Common Council have declared themselves to be in love and amity one with another, and do desire a friendly association together in all mutual accommodation”. The former idea of appealing to both King and Parliament was revived, and a committee of seventeen members was appointed to frame a petition to each, praying for reconciliation, and also to draw up an “association” for the signature of all the inhabitants. Mr. Towgood and Mr. Standish were further desired, as representative of all the city clergy, to meet the committee “for an amiable accommodation one with another throughout the whole city”. At another meeting, two days later, the committee produced the two petitions, which were approved, and delegates were selected to present them, but there is indirect evidence that the matter went no further.

Amicable resolutions could not stay the inevitable course of events. On November 24th the Council, after giving directions for “new planking” of the great Keep, to enable cannon to be mounted there, ordered that “earthworks be made in all needful places round about the city for the necessary defence thereof . . . with all expedition”. This is the only definite information contained in the minute-books respecting the extensive line of fortifications that speedily grew up. And there is a remarkable lack of information as to the manner in which the execution was effected of works which even in the present day would be considered formidable, and which then must have involved an enormous strain on the resources of the citizens. The only part of the ancient walls which could be made serviceable was the comparatively short line of ramparts extending from Redcliff Hill to a place on the Avon known as Tower Harritz, now covered by the Railway Station. From the bank of the Avon fronting Tower Harritz to Lawson's Gate, and

162THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642

thence by way of Stokes Croft, Kingsdown, St. Michael's Hill, and Brandon Hill to “Water Fort” on the Avon, near the site of what was later Limekiln Dock - a total distance of nearly three miles - a “graff”, or rough wall, had to be built, defended on the outer side by a trench, which for a great distance had to be excavated out of a tenacious rock; and three bastioned forts had to be erected on the dominant positions of Prior's Hill, Windmill Hill (now Tyndall House), and Brandon Hill. Water Fort, a few redoubts to strengthen the graff, a “sconce” at Totterdown to command the southern road, and some batteries in the Marsh to guard against an attack by water, were subsidiary labours. Seeing what progress had been made in this vast undertaking early in the following summer, when Prince Rupert's army appeared, it is certain that a host of labourers must have been employed throughout the winter. The outlay on the works cannot be ascertained, but on one occasion the city treasurer recorded a payment, on account, of £1,260, of which £527 had been received from parochial collectors. This seems to prove that assessments were made upon the householders, and doubtless much of the expenditure was defrayed by means of rates. Although the account-books contain little information as to the facts, a minute oddly inserted in the Bargain Book shows that £2,000 were borrowed from William Yeamans and other trustees of Michael Meredith, half of which was lent “gratis for a time”, and the other moiety at 5 per cent.; £500 more, “orphanage money”, was taken at the same rate; while Alderman Charlton, for a loan of £500, and Alderman Gonning, for £300, demanded 8 per cent, interest. It will be seen later on that considerable grants in aid were made by the House of Commons.

It will be remembered that in October the Corporation had agreed to enter into the Association of the neighbouring counties for the support of the Parliament. Nothing, however, had been done to carry out this arrangement when, at the Council meeting on November 24th, information came to hand that the county gentry, angry at the delay, intended to bring matters to a crisis. A letter, it was alleged, had been sent by Alexander Popham to Captain Harrington of the city trained bands, announcing his purpose to bring forces to Bristol, and desiring Harrington to be ready with the trained bands and volunteers to join him at an hour's notice, but in the meantime to keep the design secret. The Council, in much perturbation, requested the Mayor and

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.163

Aldermen to write to Popham, “our loving friend”, dissuading him from taking such a step without their privity. “We shall be glad”, said the missive, “when occasion shall require, to receive all friendly assistance from you, but as we now stand we conceive there is none”. The Corporation, in fact, had gone back to armed neutrality. Popham, who had advanced to Pensford, replied on the following day, denying the alleged intention, but pointing out that the Council's lack of zeal was perilous to the city and surrounding districts, and might well cause him “to think of a remedy”. The remedy was indeed already determined upon. In the House of Commons, on November 26th, a letter was read from Sir Edward Hungerford and other allies of Popham, stating that the Cavaliers were reported to be preparing an attack on Bristol, and that the well-affected citizens had besought the help of the writers, which was willingly offered, but that the magistrates scrupled to admit them without an order of Parliament. The majority of the aldermen, it was added, were suspected of being malignants, but of the commonalty there were three good to one ill-affected member. Authority to lead 1,000 of the county troops into the city was therefore requested, and an order to that effect was approved by both Houses. Before this mandate was issued, however, the Common Council, at Popham's invitation, appointed a committee to meet the associated gentry at Bath, on the 28th. At the same time an effort was made to suppress the wearing of colours and badges on the hats of the inhabitants, who were forming into antagonistic factions. The result of the conference at Bath gave great dissatisfaction to the county gentry. The Bristol delegates declined to co-operate in any decisive step, and asked for further time to consider the Association's proposals. The delay was regarded as a mere evasion, and the gentry, who must soon after have received the Parliamentary warrant, resolved to take action. On December 2nd the Mayor and ten aldermen wrote to Popham and Sir John Seymour, alleging that no time was being lost in considering the proposals of the Association. “But on learning that a company of volunteers rode into Bedminster yesterday, where they yet remain in increasing numbers, and the report of some others to be billeted at Westbury and adjoining places to encompass the city, and then (as some give out) to enter the same, hath so distracted us that until we receive some overtures from you as to what is intended, we shall not be able to satisfy your

164THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642

expectations”. This assumed firmness was followed up, it would appear, by the mounting of a few cannon and the mustering of the trained bands, but soon ended in submission. The order of Parliament to admit the county troops was received on December 3rd. On the 7th letters were forwarded to Popham, Seymour, and Edward Stephens, an energetic Gloucestershire leader, stating that the Corporation had already sent off messengers to inform them of the number of troopers the city would entertain, “with all cheerfulness”, but that these envoys had been detained as prisoners by Colonel Essex, who, with his forces and the trained bands of Gloucestershire, “are this night to be at or about Thornbury, with intent to be here to-morrow”. The letters ended with a request that the county gentlemen would come into the city next morning before Essex's arrival, “whereby we may accommodate the premises to avoid effusion of blood, which otherwise will undoubtedly happen”; which proves that the Royalists were preparing for resistance

There is no trustworthy account of the entry of the Parliamentary forces. The most graphic narrative was first produced by Barrett, and was probably founded on oral tradition, as there is no reference to any written document. The fact that it misdates the event, and describes the conduct of the city authorities in a manner utterly irreconcilable with the letters quoted above, casts much suspicion on its authenticity. The story in brief is, that when Essex's forces appeared on “December 5th”, the citizens flew to arms, and the Council assembled at the Tolzey to devise measures for preserving the city for the King, when a number of women, with the Mayor's wife at their head, burst into the Chamber clamouring for the admittance of the soldiers, and so completely upset the resolution of the civic dignitaries that the Gates were forthwith opened, to the great grief of the commons. Other accounts, more inaccurate as to date, and still less credible as to details, are given in the calendars and summarized in Mr. Seyer's history. They allege that Essex was before the town as early as December 2nd, but was kept out for two days by the loyal citizens, who planted two guns at the High Cross(!) and two on Froom Gate; and that when Essex attempted to enter at the latter place he was bravely beaten off. During the fray there, however, Newgate was opened by the contrivance of a woman, and then the tale is repeated of the humiliating surrender of the city fathers to

1642]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.165

their tumultuous mates and miscellaneous viragoes - “to the number of 100”, says the indignant historian; whose belief that the Council's reluctance (if it really showed reluctance) was a preconcerted farce seems reasonable enough. Against these Royalist accounts may be set a Puritan version printed immediately afterwards in London, entitled:- “A Declaration from the City of Bristol by the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and others of the city, declaring their resolution and fidelity to the Parliament. . . . Sent from Mr. John Ball, in Bristol, to Mr. James Nicolls, merchant in London”. This writer alleges that though “many of the great ones amongst us, Colston, Yeomans and their brethren”, were malignants, yet the bulk of the city “stood firm for the Parliament”. The Corporation, indeed, had sent Sheriff Jackson, Alderman Locke, and Mr. James to Gloucester, to give warning that no troops would be allowed to enter, “but the Gloucester men were so incensed that they clapt them up, and would not liberate them until they had engaged their lives for the admission of a garrison”. The petition of the ladies, whose number is here magnified to 200, is next referred to, and is made to enlarge on the danger of the city being deprived of provisions by the irritated country people. But the capitulation of the Council, instead of being immediate, is postponed by the writer until the following day. The “malignants”, in the meanwhile, hired a number of seamen, armed with muskets and swords, and planted two cannon on Froom Gate. These mercenaries raised a tumult and refused to disperse when commanded by the Mayor; but the troops nevertheless entered without resistance at Pithay Gate and Newgate.

Coming to trustworthy documents, a despatch from Bristol, dated December 10th, informed Parliament that Colonel Essex with 2,000 men was then in the city; whereupon a letter was ordered to be sent to the citizens “to encourage them to go on in its defence”. On the 19th, the Earl of Stamford, Essex's superior officer, who had followed the troops, informed the House of Lords by letter that he had heard, whilst on his way here, that “some commotion” had occurred after the entry of the forces, but such had been the vigilance of his subordinate that all was in order on his arrival. “I find this city infinitely well affected towards the good cause”. As to this assertion there has been much difference of opinion. John Corbet, a Puritan minister, who in 1645 published an account of the famous siege of Gloucester,

166THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1642-43

confessed that the King's cause was favoured by two extremes in Bristol, “the wealthy and powerful men, and the basest and lowest sort”. Fiennes, in defence of his surrender, wrote “the great men of this town have been well acquainted with monopolies and engrossments of trade”, referring to the profitable butter and calf-skins patents, “and are therefore Malignants”. Mr. Seyer, again, argues, though far from convincingly, that the trained bands, drawn from the lower classes, were undoubtedly Royalists. But it seems admitted on all hands that the feeling of the majority of the Common Council, and of the great body of citizens standing between the rich and the poor, was decidedly in favour of the Parliament.

On January 4th, 1643, the House of Commons issued an order for the repayment of £2,000 that had been borrowed from Bristol, doubtless referring to the money contributed in the preceding June. On January 10th, a lengthy minute was inserted in the House of Lords' Journals, to the effect that the city had also lent £3,000 to the counties of Somerset, Gloucester and Wilts, to enable them to raise an army to co-operate with that of the Earl of Essex, which sum was promised on the public faith to be repaid if the counties made default. (From an incidental note in the city audit books it would appear that £1,000 of this loan was sent to Bridgwater, where the defences were being strengthened.) A further sum of £3,400 was advanced to Colonel Essex for the maintenance of the garrison; and the outlay on the new line of fortifications was constantly increasing. To meet this prodigious expenditure, the Corporation had practically no resource save the taxation or voluntary help of the inhabitants. The subscription of nearly £2,600 by the citizens, already referred to, happily came in largely during the early weeks of the year, and much alleviated the financial embarrassment. There is no indication in the accounts of any special demand imposed by the Corporation upon those suspected of “malignity”.

Reference has been made in previous pages to the repeated but abortive attempts of the Common Council to agree upon the terms of a petition to the King praying for reconciliation. The subject does not reappear in the minute-books, but on January 7th, 1643, a petition, drawn in the name of the city instead of the Corporation, was presented to His Majesty at Oxford by four unnamed aldermen. The document, which was couched in absurdly bombastic language, described the state of the kingdom as one of horror

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.167

and wrath. Trade had ceased, ships were rotting in harbour, credit was lost, the lives of men once happy were unsafe and miserable, fathers were fighting against sons, and sons against fathers, and all were overwhelmed with ever-growing troubles. The petitioners went on to declare their opinion as to the causes of these calamities. The King had divorced himself from Parliament, “the husbands of the commonwealth”, who had faithfully and zealously served him, and who prayed him simply to abandon the counsels of notorious malignants striving to destroy the liberty and rights of Englishmen. A strong denunciation followed of the new doctrines which Prelacy had sought to force upon the people, corroding the hearts of the religious and well-affected; and the King was finally implored to devise some speedy way to lasting peace by rectifying church abuses and finishing bleeding dissensions. In consequence, doubtless, of the negotiations for peace between the King and the Parliament then about to be opened, His Majesty made a lengthy and gracious reply, expressing compassion for the afflictions of the nation, assurances of his anxiety for reconciliation, and thanks to the petitioners for their advice.

After a brief sojourn in Bristol, the Earl of Stamford, commanding officer in the district, departed for Exeter with one of the regiments stationed here, leaving the other with Colonel Essex, who informally became Governor of the city. The conduct of the new official soon aroused Puritan suspicion. He showed no energy in pushing forward the fortifications, but spent much of his time in feasting, drinking and gambling; he accepted hospitality from, and had many conferences with, persons notoriously sympathising with the King, held aloof from leading Parliamentarians, and was suspected, Mr. Seyer thinks justly, of corresponding with Prince Rupert. An act of great brutality filled up the measure of his offences. The Parliament had forbidden the troops from extorting money from the citizens on whom they were billeted, the wages of the men being fixed sufficiently high to enable them to pay for all they required. From some inadvertence - probably through the carelessness of Essex - the soldiers were not paid for several weeks, and were forced to buy on credit, at enhanced prices. On the morning of January 24th, about twenty of the troopers laid their grievances before their captain, who, disclaiming responsibility, accompanied them to the lodgings of Essex, then sleeping off a night's carouse. Irritated at being

168THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

disturbed, the Governor shortly afterwards appeared, armed with a horse pistol, ordered some of the men out of the room, refusing to listen to their complaint, and on one of them asking permission to speak before departing, he shot the unfortunate man dead on the spot. The atrocity, which caused a great sensation, proved the unfitness of its author for a responsible position. The Earl of Essex, on being acquainted with the facts, accordingly ordered Colonel the Hon. Nathaniel Fiennes, then commanding a detachment in Wiltshire, to proceed to Bristol, with power to act as circumstances might require, and, if needful, to arrest Colonel Essex and send him to headquarters. Fiennes arrived in the city with additional troops about the middle of February, when further grave information respecting Essex's dissolute habits and suspicious connections was laid before him, and orders were given for the Governor's dismissal and removal from the city. His arrest took place on the 27th, whilst he was revelling at the house of one Captain Hill, at Redland, an alleged agent of Prince Rupert.

Apparently at the request of the Earl of Essex, Fiennes assumed the office of Governor, though, as he afterwards asserted, much against his inclination. The appointment was similar to many made in the early period of the war. The new officer was selected, not because of his military experience, of which he was entirely destitute, nor because of his undoubted ability as a politician, but because he belonged to an aristocratic family, being a son of Lord Saye and Sele, one of the most active and influential peers on the Parliamentary side. He was not, however, like his predecessor, a mere roystering bravo. Delegating the military duties of his position to his brother, Colonel John Fiennes, he took up his residence in Broad Street, to superintend administrative work, and his unwearied pains and watchfulness are acknowledged in a letter signed by the Mayor and several influential citizens. He immediately ordered the reorganization of the local armed forces, and the active prosecution of the outer line of fortifications; and according to a pamphlet written by Major Langrish, published in the same year, he armed 500 well-affected citizens, whilst “the works had more done unto them in five days than they had done unto them in six weeks before”. The House of Commons being unable to meet the numberless demands upon it, and Fiennes' first request for a loan of £1,000 having drained the corporate treasury, a local committee was appointed, comprising the Mayor, the

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.169

two Sheriffs, Alderman Holworthy, Luke Hodges, and other zealous “Roundheads”; and this body assessed and levied a weekly sum of £55 15s., payable on all real and personal property within the city. The tax, which came into operation on March 1st, and was to continue for three months, was confirmed by Parliament. It was soon found, however, that the rate was inadequate to provide pay for the garrison and keep in employment the numerous labourers needed to complete the defences; and throughout his governorship Fiennes made constant and piteous appeals to Parliament for relief. In May he complained that he had laid out £9,000, whilst the Commons had remitted him only £4,000, and the citizens were refusing to contribute any longer. In the following month he mournfully prayed to be delivered from the charge of a town which he had not half enough men to defend, whilst destitute of the means of supporting those he had. In another letter he asserted that the demands upon him were seldom under £1,000 a week, and sometimes reached £1,300. The Commons' Journals contain no information as to the sums actually transmitted to him. Prynn, a somewhat untrustworthy authority, says that he received “near £9,000”. Even with this assistance, it is difficult to imagine how he met his liabilities. About the same time, £2,000 were demanded from the city, on loan, by Sir William Waller, but only part of this amount was received by Fiennes, who got £1,000 more from the Corporation on his own account. Possibly contributions were levied upon the neighbouring counties, as became a regular practice later in the war, and large sums were certainly extorted from so-called Malignants. One mandate of the Governor has been preserved, desiring John Gonning, jun., son of the Alderman, to forthwith pay in £200, “which sum, in respect of your estate, is below the proportion required of other persons of your quality”, and threatening the victim, on refusal, with whatsoever course the desperation of necessitous soldiers might induce them to pursue.

Local historians of strong Royalist proclivities have asserted that the ascendancy of the Parliamentary party in the city was immediately signalised by the ejection, plunder, and imprisonment of the beneficed clergy. One of their charges against Fiennes is that he ejected Mr. Williamson, the vicar of All Saints, and replaced him by a Mr. Tombes. The truth respecting the matter may be found in the Commons' Journal for January 4th, 1643,

170THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

about six weeks before Fiends' arrival:- “On the petition of the major part of the parish of All Saints, Bristol, Ordered, that Mr. Tombes [who was a B.D.] be recommended to the parish as a lecturer, and that George Williamson, the vicar, be required to permit him the use of the pulpit”. The Rev. Richard Towgood, vicar of St. Nicholas, for his unfaltering support of the royal cause, was appointed, after the Restoration, Dean of Bristol. Yet he was held in such respect whilst Fiennes was Governor that - so far from being ejected, as Mr. Seyer asserts - the Corporation, in May, 1643, selected him as one of the lecturers whose stipends continued to be paid out of the civic purse. One of “the frantic preachers brought into the city”, writes Mr. Seyer, was “Matthew Hassard, whom they put into St. Ewen's, a principal incendiary of the rebellion”. The fact is that Mr. Hazard was appointed to the living by the Corporation in 1639, before civil dissensions were foreseen.

Early in 1643, the army under Prince Rupert advanced into the West of England with the object of recovering Gloucestershire for the King. The capture of Cirencester - its first success - must have caused a profound sensation in Bristol. On February 6th Lord Chandos and the chief Cavalier gentry of the county, jubilant at the prospect, issued a mandate to the high constables of the hundreds, announcing that the Prince demanded £3,000 from the inhabitants to raise forces to put into garrisons, and £4,000 per month for the maintenance of the soldiers, requests of which they approved, and which they ordered the constables to obey. Though events elsewhere subsequently induced Rupert to return for a time to Oxford, his forward movement stimulated, if it did not originate, a design in Bristol that was destined to end in a deplorable tragedy.

Several wealthy and influential citizens, as has been already stated, were supporters of the royal cause, and were naturally discontented at the ascendancy gained by the opposite party, and at the heavy burdens which that party imposed upon them. Perhaps the most resolute and active member of this minority was Robert Yeamans, a merchant who had held the office of sheriff in 1641-2, and who, whilst holding that office, had applied for and received a commission from Charles I. to raise a regiment for his service in the city. The existing evidence as to his character tends to show that Yeamans was one of those zealots whose rash enthusiasm is less dangerous to enemies than to friends. By displaying his commission, which he contended would,

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.171

if granted earlier, have enabled him to trample down rebellion, he was allowed to assume the leadership of the local loyalists, and he soon set about the formation of a widespread conspiracy, destined, as he persuaded himself, to overthrow both the garrison and the authorities. Fortune at first favoured his efforts in an unexpected quarter. The dismissal of Colonel Essex from the governorship had given offence to some of the officers of his regiment; a captain and three lieutenants are alleged to have been seduced by Yeamans, partly by his arguments, and partly by a bribe of £40, to promise their assistance in his design; and many of the political friends of the plotter, deluded by his assurances that the greater part of Essex's troopers were animated by the same resentment as their officers and were ready to rise for the King, consented to join in the confederacy. The next step of the movement was one common to most projects of the same character. A form of oath was drawn up binding the swearers to fidelity and secrecy, and this, it is said, was administered to a number of adherents by Yeamans' henchman, Mr. George Butcher, or Bowcher, a respected merchant, whose business abilities had been aforetime appreciated by both the Corporation and the Merchants' Society. The scheme being thus far advanced, a full disclosure of it was made to the Court at Oxford, with which a regular correspondence was maintained; and the King, after having twice sent down one Dr. Marks to ascertain the progress effected, expressed his cordial approval, promised to make Bristol “a famous place” when he got possession of it, and gave orders to Prince Rupert to approach the city and lend the assistance that would be required on the explosion of the plot, which was fixed to take place on the night of Tuesday, March 7th. Yeamans' dwelling was on the north side of Wine Street, nearly opposite to a building known as the Guard House, where troops were stationed, and the choice of such a spot for the mustering of a number of men, many of whom were probably suspected of “malignacy”, marks the heedlessness of the ringleader. There, however, upwards of thirty assembled in arms, whilst more than double that number gathered at Mr. Bowcher's house in the more secluded quarter of Christmas Street, where a large store of arms and ammunition had been collected. Two subsidiary bands met in St. Michael's parish, and much help was expected from a gang of slaughtermen, who undertook to muster near the Shambles (now Bridge Street), and also from a party of sailors.

172THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

The final outbreak had been arranged, it is said, with two of the officers whom Yeamans had suborned, who were that night in command at the Guard House, one of whom undertook to patrol the round at midnight with men he had gained over, and to seize Froom Gate, close to Bowcher's house, which would enable the party there and their confederates in St. Michael's to render assistance, and take possession of that important outlet. Bowcher had prepared the crypt of St. John's church as a temporary prison for the captured Roundheads. The other traitor was to remain at the Guard House, having undertaken to surrender it without bloodshed as soon as Yeamans' party came forward; and this body of expected victors was directed to seize the cannon there, scour the streets with them, and secure possession of Newgate. Prince Rupert, who was to advance stealthily in the darkness as far as the gallows at Cotham, was to be made acquainted with the capture of Froom Gate by the ringing of the bells of St. Michael's and St. John's churches, when his troops would be able to enter the city without striking a blow, and thus complete a practically certain triumph. As soon as all this was accomplished, a proclamation, drawn up by Yeamans, was to be issued, ordering all inhabitants of the Bridge, High Street and Corn Street - that is, the leading tradesmen of the city - to keep within doors on pain of their lives, whilst men prepared to stand for the King were summoned to appear in arms at the High Cross.

There are various stories as to the manner in which the enterprise became known to the Parliamentarians, and it is not unlikely that all are founded on pure conjecture. If faith can be put in the pamphlets recounting the affair, about two thousand persons in the city and surrounding districts were engaged in the conspiracy, and there have been few plots of a fiftieth part of that number of men which have not produced at least one traitor. It is confessed that Yeamans had been recklessly indiscreet in divulging his project to all whom he thought likely to join with him. His favourite resort had been the popular Rose tavern, where he entertained many open or pretended sympathisers, regardless of what might be heard by tapsters and unknown listeners. It is also significant that there is no record of any punishment inflicted on Essex's officers, who, if the foregoing allegations were true, deserved to be shot off-hand. Duly weighing these circumstances, it seems reasonable to assume that Governor Fiennes was well-informed

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.173

of the machination on foot, allowed it to proceed until explosion was imminent, and at last threw his net over the unsuspecting but self-convicted schemers. This assumption is greatly strengthened by the fact that about ten o'clock of the fateful night the Governor had assembled a Council of War, which forthwith gave orders to two detachments of troops to march respectively to the houses of Yeamans and Bowcher and arrest all whom they found assembled there. Yeamans, who is said to have learnt that the plot was betrayed, at first refused to open his door, protesting “with deep execrations” that he had no guests. An entrance, however, was forced, and the soldiers succeeded in capturing twenty-three men, though many of the party, chiefly ship captains and sailors, made a desperate resistance,, and additional troops were needed to convey them to prison. Several others escaped by the roof of the house. In the meantime, Bowcher's dwelling had been invested; but the crowd of conspirators within, instead of attempting defence,, were struck with panic. Keeping the door fast for a time, a great number jumped out of a back window overlooking the Froom, and dropped into the bed of the river, the tide being fortunately at low water. The number of prisoners caught in the house is variously stated, the discrepancies being doubtless due to the fact that several were seized outside whilst floundering out of the deep mud of the stream. “A great store of arms” was certainly secured. Prince Rupert, after vainly waiting for the promised signal, found it prudent to retreat about daybreak.

The intelligence of this inglorious miscarriage was rapidly spread by pamphlets and broadsides over the kingdom, exciting transports of joy in one camp and corresponding depression in the other. As is generally the case when political passions become superheated, the pamphlet-writers of the victorious party outrageously exaggerated the intentions of the conspirators, alleging that they had contemplated the murder of the Puritan Mayor, the wholesale plunder and massacre of all the reputable citizens save their slender band of sympathisers, and even the burning of the city. In the Houses of Parliament on March 14th, letters from the Mayor and others were read, narrating in more reasonable language the circumstances under which the betrayal of the town had been prevented, and ordinances were passed for confiscating the estates of the plotters, for the trial of the ringleaders, and for a national Thanksgiving for the wonderful deliverance. (Two sermons were preached on

174THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

that occasion in Bristol by the Rev. John Tombes, B.D., and were so much appreciated that they were ordered to be printed by the House of Commons. A copy of this rare pamphlet, entitled “Jehovah Jirah, or God's Providence in delivering the Godly . . . with a brief narrative of the bloody and abominable Plot”, is in the collection of Mr. G.E. Weare.) In the meantime Fiennes and the civil authorities were busily engaged in apprehending men whose complicity was known or suspected. In a letter of March 11th the Governor stated that the prisoners in the Castle numbered “well near sixty”, and others were doubtless arrested subsequently. A Royalist pamphleteer asserts that the captives were treated barbarously, but his statements, if not pure inventions, could have little basis but the rumours and gossip of his party. The bulk of the prisoners were poor men, and they cannot have been kept long in custody, for the Castle dungeons were empty when the Royalists entered four months later. The better-class men engaged in the design, according to the list drawn up by Mr. Seyer, included John Bowcher and William Yeamans, brothers of the prime movers, four other merchants named Edmund Arundel, Thomas Heyman, Rowland Searchfield, and John Taylor; the steward of the Sheriffs Court ( William Greene, who was a barrister); a soapboiler, a brewer, a hatter, a goldsmith, and two Oxford scholars. There is also one “William Coleston or Coulson”, who cannot be certainly identified. None of these persons except William Yeamans were brought to trial, but had to ransom themselves by the sacrifice of their estates, which the Governor took rigorous measures to secure. In a letter to his father, Fiennes stated that he did not expect to make £3,000 out of all of them, “there being never a rich man amongst them”, whilst creditors were claiming and carrying away most of their property.

The originators of the plot could not be let off so easily. On the receipt of a commission from the Earl of Essex, issued by order of Parliament, the Governor called a Council of war, presided over by himself, before which Yeamans, Bowcher, William Yeamans, and Edward Dacres, a plumber, underwent several examinations. The trial of Robert Yeamans took place on May 8th, on an indictment drawn up by Clement Walker, ex-Usher of the Exchequer, the proceedings taking place in Lady Rogers's great house at the Bridge. The Court consisted of the Governor and fifteen citizens, and the difficulty of the Royalist writers in finding

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.175

material to revile the jury is shown by their complaint that an attorney and a schoolmaster were members of the tribunal. No defence seems to have been made by the prisoner, except that he acted on the King's commission, and he bore the sentence of death with firmness. The trial of Bowcher and the two others followed on May 22nd, and had a similar result. Bowcher had admitted the charge against him, adding that he had provided chains and locks to bar the passage at St. John's Gate, so as to prevent the Parliament forces from rushing in whilst “the work was doing”. The sentence on William Yeamans and Dacres was remitted. The two ringleaders were executed in Wine Street on May 30th (the entry of Yeamans' interment in the Christ Church register, dated May 29th, is almost certainly inaccurate.) The scaffold was raised in front of Yeamans' house, but he, like his companion, displayed great resolution, and avowed his principles to the last. They were not allowed to have the ministrations of the vicars of Christ Church and St. Nicholas, and two Puritan preachers were suffered to disturb their last moments. The King, anxious to save them, had caused Lord Forth to warn Fiennes that if the sentences were carried out, certain Roundheads taken at Cirencester would also be put to death; but the Governor retorted that the law of nature, as of arms, drew a distinction between enemies taken in open warfare and secret conspirators, adding that if Lord Forth should execute his threat, an equal number of knights or squires, taken in rebellion against “the King and Kingdom”, would receive no mercy. Charles next forwarded a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen, commanding them to raise the inhabitants, and to slay those who attempted to take the lives of the prisoners; but the mandate did not arrive until the tragedy was over. The unfortunate men left no less than sixteen children to mourn their memories. Mrs. Bowcher appears to have been promised a pension of £100 by the King. Yeamans' widow found a second husband in Mr. Thomas Speed, a Puritan merchant, who generously undertook to bring up her numerous offspring, some of whom, like their step-father, became prominent Quakers. The proceedings of Fiennes were approved by the House of Commons. A virulently written Royalist pamphlet was published soon after the executions, entitled “The two State Martyrs”, which is reproduced in Mr. Seyer's history. It excited only the derision of the Puritans, who contended that the two plotters were no more martyrs than Guy Fawkes,

176THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

After the discovery of the plot, some of those implicated in the affair who had escaped immediate arrest thought it prudent to take to flight. From two petitions presented to the House of Commons on April 12th and 14th, on behalf of the Mayor, the Sheriffs, “and others well affected”, it appears that two ships in which the petitioners were interested had been seized and carried off “by malignant fugitives”, who had departed leaving heavy debts due to the complainants. The House ordered Governor Fiennes to give the petitioners fitting relief out of the estates of local delinquents.

A broadside in the British Museum, dated April 14th, and printed by order of the Lords and Commons, affords some interesting information as to the “weekly assessments imposed on various counties and towns” for the maintenance of the Parliamentary army. As compared with subsequent levies, the charges in this district were light. The weekly sum demanded from Bristol was £65 15s.; from the city of Gloucester, £62 10s.; from Gloucestershire, £750; and from Somerset, £1,050. The city of London paid £10,000, and York £62 10s. The local committee for assessing the amount on the householders were Richard Aldworth, Mayor, John Jackson and Hugh Browne, Sheriffs, Alderman Holworthy, Luke Hodges, and Henry Gibbes.

Notwithstanding the heavy burdens imposed on the inhabitants for the defence of the city, generous help was extended to those unhappy Irish Protestants who had escaped butchery only to be menaced with starvation. On May 4th, in the House of Commons, a letter was read from the Mayor and Aldermen, stating that provisions contributed by the “free benevolence” of the citizens, together with those brought in from the two neighbouring counties, had been embarked in two ships, which would convoy a similarly laden bark from Minehead. The cargo consisted of 3,880 cheese, great quantities of bread, corn, meat and beer, and £30 in money. The writers took the opportunity to thank the House for its care for the city in the appointment of Fiennes, who, they said, omitted “nothing conducive to our safety”, and was the sole director and daily superintendent of the fortifications, which had “cost us very much money”, but were “in great forwardness”.

Their worships' complacent reference to the defences was not justified by events which, though imminent, were not foreseen. The great forts, indeed, seem to have been completed as originally planned. Water Fort had been armed with seven guns; Brandon Hill Fort with six guns:

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.177

Windmill (afterwards Royal) Fort with about the same armament, and Prior's Hill Fort with thirteen guns; whilst Lawford's Gate had been strengthened, and furnished with seven cannon. Temple Gate and Tower Harritz appear to have had fourteen guns, and fifteen pieces were paced at and near Redcliff Gate. In the low-lying alluvial ground between Lawford's Gate and Stokes Croft, the earthen rampart, designed to be about six feet high, with an outer trench intended to be some five feet in depth, may have been “in great forwardness”. But in the long line of defences from Stokes Croft to Water Fort, the ditch out of which the “graff” was to be formed had to be mostly excavated in the hard rock, and when, as will be shown, Prince Rupert declared more than two years later that the wall and trench were still incomplete, in spite of the constant efforts of troops of labourers, the imperfections in 1643 may well have inspired Fiennes with anxiety. So little, indeed, had been done near St. Michael's Hill that the royal troops brought up to aid in Yeamans' plot knew they would have no obstruction to encounter in pushing towards the city. In the same way, the rampart and ditch in the valley between Windmill Fort and Brandon Hill had been little more than sketched out, even in July, when a few men furnished with shovels quickly levelled the ground, and enabled the Cavaliers to enter.

The defeat and rout of Sir William Waller at Roundway Down on July 13th gave a fatal blow to the Parliamentary cause in Bristol. Before the battle, Waller's imperious demands for reinforcements from the city had seriously reduced the garrison, and even after being strengthened with troops drawn from Bath, Fiennes had only about 2,000 foot men and 300 cavalry to defend several miles of fortifications against his advancing foes. The Governor, however, proclaimed his determination to hold out to the last extremity, and ordered the inhabitants to furnish themselves with three months' provisions, whilst many of the rural Puritans, hopeful of protection, flocked into the city with their portable property. Barrett, relying on oral tradition, asserts that Fiennes, to prevent a lodgment of the enemy near the Castle, commanded the demolition of the churches of St. Peter and St. Philip, but no evidence can be found in support of the story, which may be classed amongst the numberless calumnies of local gossip-mongers. Prince Rupert's forces, numbering about 20,000, had practically invested the town on Sunday, July 23rd, the Marquis

178THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

of Hertford and Prince Maurice being in command on the Somerset side, whilst Rupert established himself at Westbury, and attended service at Clifton church in the afternoon. On Monday the beleaguering forces made a display of their strength to discourage the besieged, and a summons to surrender followed, which Fiennes promptly rejected. The formation of batteries intended to play on the various forts was then begun, but Rupert was ill-provided with cannon until, by a stroke of good fortune, eight ships were captured (or voluntarily surrendered) in Kingroad, the guns from which were quickly made serviceable. In the evening some trivial attacks were made on the ramparts, but were easily repulsed. On Tuesday these assaults were repeated by greater numbers, and with more perseverance, but with no better success. The royal batteries on Clifton Hill, directed against Water Fort and Brandon Hill, proved also ineffectual, and the guns were removed to assail Prior's Hill Fort, on the eastern brow of Kingsdown. In the afternoon, Prince Rupert held a council of war with the officers on the southern side of the Avon, and it was resolved that a concerted storm of the defences at six different points should take place on the following morning. At dawn on Wednesday, the 26th, the enthusiastic Cornish regiments, under Lord Hertford, accordingly attempted to seize both Redcliff and Temple Gates, but were repulsed at each place with heavy loss. Lord Grandison led the attack against Prior's Hill Fort, defended by Blake, the afterwards renowned admiral and one of the noblest worthies of Somerset, who proved himself as skilful and resolute on land as he was subsequently on the ocean. The rampart near the fort was unfinished, and Grandison, who displayed great valour, took advantage of the defect; but after three fierce assaults he fell mortally wounded, and his men were beaten off. The attempt to carry the works at Stokes Croft was repulsed after a conflict of an hour and a half. A redoubt on Kingsdown, on the site of a later and enlarged fort called Colston's Mount, also encountered a vigorous but fruitless attack. The whole enterprise seemed fated to end in a disastrous failure, when tidings spread of an unlooked-for success.

Reference has been made to the rudimentary state of the rampart and trench between Brandon Hill and Windmill Forts. Fiennes and his engineering advisers had probably imagined that the approach to the city from Clifton would be sufficiently protected by the cannon on the heights, aided by a redoubt, styled Essex's Fort, on a site a little to

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.179

the east of the present Blind Asylum. This post, however, was also unfinished; the thick furze and underwood on the slopes of the two hills - so useful to an assailant - had not been cleared away; and, as the event proved, the mouths of the cannon in the forts could not be lowered to aim into the hollow. Captain Washington, a collateral ancestor of the American hero, had been directed with 200 or 300 dragoons to threaten the works at this spot, chiefly in order to distract the attention of the besieged; but the weakness of the defences being speedily detected, Washington, after arming his men with “fire pikes”, commanded an assault, dashed at the rampart, to the consternation of the few cavalry guarding the line, who would not face the blazing pikes and forthwith decamped. A handful of men then quickly levelled the ditch by throwing down the earthwork, making an open roadway for the reinforcements that their commander had at once demanded. The cowardice of a fresh body of the Roundhead cavalry, who made a fainthearted attempt to beat off Washington's slender force, together with the panic-stricken flight of a small party stationed in Essex's Fort, completely turned the fortune of the day. By about nine o'clock in the morning the Royalists were in possession of the cathedral and the two neighbouring churches, and some of them occupied St. Augustine's Back, commanding the ships moored in the Froom. Another party, forcing their way through narrow thoroughfares, some of which have been since swept away, bore down upon Froom Gate, where they encountered greater difficulties. When the news of Washington's entrance reached the city, Mrs. Dorothy Hazard, a Puritan lady whose ardour has been already noticed, rushed with about two hundred women and girls to this Gate, the importance of which was obvious, and with the help of some men the portal was solidly blocked up with woolsacks and earth. Mrs. Hazard then repaired to the Governor, and adjured him to remain firm, assuring him that her Amazons would face the besiegers with their children in their arms “to keep off the shot from the soldiers if they were afraid”. Her entreaties were of no avail, but some of the women stood firmly with the gunners in the Gate, and it was not until after repeated assaults that the Royalists were able to enter. About this time Fiennes ordered a sally against the Cavaliers in College Green, but, according to his subsequent statement, only two hundred men could be collected, and these were so tired out through having been on constant duty for four days that

180THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

they were easily repulsed by greatly superior numbers. It may be mentioned here that the Cornishmen who had been defeated on the Somerset side of the city were so thoroughly disheartened as to have made preparations for a general retreat, and one party fled as far as Whitchurch before tidings were received of the actual victory of their cause.

Within a few hours, Fiennes' precipitate submission sealed the fate of the city. Before the siege he had vowed that, if the outer fortifications were lost, he would retire behind the ancient walls, fight every inch of the streets, and make a last stand in the Castle. The Royalists had lost nearly 1,000 men, while less than a score of the garrison were said to have fallen. (A pamphlet published by the King's printer at Oxford, doubtless by order of the Court, stated that “near 600 common men” lost their lives on His Majesty's side, and that the total loss in the service - “the hottest that ever was since the war began” - was “at least 1,400”.) But though the principal forts were intact and commanded the city, the Governor ordered the soldiers still holding the ramparts to retire into the town on pain of death; and to the “exceeding comfort” of the besiegers, as they confessed, Fiennes sought for a parley with a view to a capitulation. (It must in fairness be added that, as he afterwards alleged, he took this step at the urgent entreaty of the Mayor and other influential citizens, and that Fairfax and Cromwell, as well as the Royalist engineer De Gomme, held that further resistance would have been useless.) Rupert gladly assented, and the preliminaries to a surrender were agreed upon in a garden house near Park Row. The final treaty, the original manuscript of which is preserved in the Council House, was executed in the evening. It was provided that the Parliamentary officers and cavalry, with their arms and horses, the foot soldiers, with arms, and the sick and wounded,, should be convoyed to Warminster; that all gentlemen should be free to retire unmolested with their portable property, and that the liberties of the city should be maintained. The arms, ammunition, and stores found in the place were, of course, to be surrendered. The terms were shamefully broken by the Royalists. About 800 of the vanquished, from Fiennes himself down to the grooms of the gentry, were pitilessly plundered and outraged on taking their departure, some being stripped almost naked and robbed of all they possessed. Ana although, as a Royalist writer admits, £1,400 were offered and paid by the

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.181

Corporation to save the inhabitants from pillage, the houses of those charged with disaffection by a few renegade Roundhead soldiers were broken into and ruthlessly sacked. A Puritan pamphlet published soon afterwards affirmed that one citizen, who had been already plundered of £500 worth of goods, was deprived of 2,300 ounces of plate by the direct orders of Prince Rupert, who refused him redress, reviled him as a rebel, and directed one of his houses to be demolished. Some tradesmen ransomed their goods by offering fines, but after payment was made, the soldiery burst into their houses and seized all they could find, selling the plunder openly in the streets. A great store of property had been placed in the Castle - several Royalist writers estimated its value at £100,000 - but in spite of the treaty the troops broke into the place, and the owners got nothing but what they redeemed by fines. Meanwhile the army was billeted on the inhabitants, some of whom had between twenty and thirty men thrust into their houses, and the families were turned out of their beds and deprived of their food.

Alarmed by the rapacity of the soldiery, and possibly in dread of a universal spoliation, the Council assembled, on July 28th, and resolved to offer a present to the King as a testimony of the “love and good affection” of the city. Giles Elbridge appears to have proposed that the gift should be £20,000, but the Mayor and twenty-five others voted for £10,000. Four aldermen and four councillors, amongst whom were Alderman Taylor and Thomas Colston, declined to vote for either sum. The bulk of the money was, of course, to be raised by a rate on the householders, who would thus, it was hoped, be protected from looting. A personal subscription towards the gift was then made in the Chamber, to which the Mayor contributed £300, Alderman Charlton £600, Aldermen Long and John Langton £200 each, Aldermen Gonning and Hooke, John Gonning, jun., and Hugh Browne £150 each, whilst many of the rest offered sums varying from £100 to £40. Miles Jackson closed the list with £20. Twelve gentlemen, about half of whom were Puritans and the others Royalists - amongst the latter being Aldermen Taylor and Jones, and Messrs. Elbridge, Colston, and Fitzherbert - declined to subscribe anything.

If the Corporation imagined that this peace-offering would satisfy the appetites of the conquerors their illusion was soon at an end. Documentary evidence as to the initial stages of what followed has not been preserved, but the Council must have been informed soon afterwards that

182THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

Prince Rupert required a handsome gratification, and the helpless civic body had to submit with such cheerfulness as it could muster. The collection of the “gifts” had evidently been proceeding for some time when, on October 16th, the Council approved of the labours of two committees previously appointed “for raising £20,000 for the King and Prince Rupert”, and they were desired “with all expedition to get in the arrears”, using any means to wring out the money that they might think proper. As the population of the city was then only about 16,000, and the value of money was certainly three times greater than it is now, a proportionate “gift” at the present day would exceed a million sterling. The civic treasury was then so exhausted that the Corporation were compelled to give 8 per cent, for a loan of £100, and to shut up the House of Correction in order to save the gaoler's paltry salary; while the members of the Council were called on to club up 40s. each to pay for £72 worth of wine presented to the King. Besides the above princely donations, a weekly assessment was levied upon householders for the support of the garrison. The amount, as originally fixed, does not appear, but it was probably £400, for in September a deputation was sent to Oxford to implore the King for a remission of £200 a week, and the tax was then apparently reduced to £300. Subsequently (May, 1644), when an enormous weekly rate was being levied to strengthen the fortifications, the King consented to reduce the £300 to £100; but the relief was in fact only nominal, the citizens being required to complete and furnish the new Royal Fort, for which purpose the Governor was ordered to assist the Corporation in raising additional taxes, and at the same time a lump sum of £2,000 was demanded for the maintenance of the garrison. The unfortunate Corporation had again to resort to borrowing, though the fact does not appear in the accounts, but is again hidden away in the Bargain Book. Robert Bing, the rector of Cannings, Wilts, lent £300 free, for six months. Local Royalists were not so liberal, Alderman Wallis requiring 8 per cent, interest for £200. Two daughters of Humphrey Hooke and one Thomas Fowens lent £200 each at 6 per cent., but four prominent and wealthy loyalists - Alderman Taylor, Francis Creswick, John Gonning, jun., and Alexander James - contributed only from £60 to £160 each. A loan of £80 was also wrung from William Cann, a leading Parliamentarian.

The capture of Bristol - which “struck the two Houses

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.183

to the heart” - brought a long-subsisting discord in the royal army to an acute stage. The moderate men who had taken arms in the King's cause thirsted for reconciliation, and were anxious that the constitutional reforms effected in the first year of the Long Parliament should be preserved intact. The extreme Cavaliers, on the other hand, of whom Prince Rupert was the idol, looked on national liberties with contempt, were eager to destroy the Parliament by the help of foreign and Irish mercenaries, and constantly urged the King to maintain the war until his opponents were under his heel and a future despotism assured. The Marquis of Hertford, a representative of the former section, had been for some time Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol and the two adjacent counties, and being by his commission in command of the Western troops (though he delegated the actual leadership to Sir Ralph Hopton), he looked upon Rupert as but an auxiliary to his army. The Prince, however, disregarding Hertford's position, had drawn up the articles of Fiennes' capitulation without even asking for his counsel, and assumed a right to deal with the city at his discretion. Hertford, to vindicate his authority, thereupon nominated the gallant Sir Ralph Hopton as Governor of Bristol, without consulting the Prince; on hearing of which the latter wrote to the King, concealing the fact of Hopton's appointment, and asking for the governorship for himself, to which Charles unwittingly consented. The jealous hostility that had long existed between the friends of the respective commanders now rose to exasperation, and the dissension threatened such serious consequences that the King paid a visit to the city to bring about a reconciliation. Accompanied by his youthful sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, Charles arrived on August 3rd, and took up his residence in the mansion of the Creswick family in Small Street, which stood on the site of the present post-office. (Barrett states that the King lodged in “Mr. Colston's house” in the same street, but the father of the philanthropist, from his marriage to his death, a period of nearly fifty years, resided in Wine Street.) According to a Royalist news-sheet, the King was received with great demonstrations of joy, and at night the city was ablaze with bonfires. His Majesty had not been appeased by the liberal gift of the Corporation, but informed his nephew that he would not admit the Mayor and Council to his presence until “the businesses be settled”; or, as the news-writer says, until

184THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

they had answered for the murder of the two “martyrs”. Possibly his ill-humour gave a spur to the “present” made to Rupert. Thanks to the nobility of character shown by Lord Hertford and Sir Ralph Hopton, a compromise between the rival parties was effected, Hopton (who was created a peer) consenting to become Lieutenant-Governor under the Prince. A more momentous decision was arrived at during the King's brief visit. The city of Gloucester alone interrupted the communications between the royal forces in Wales, the West, and the North, and Charles, sanguine of an easy triumph, resolved on besieging the Puritan town in person. It was eminently characteristic of the King's temper during a flash of prosperity that a day or two after his beleaguerment of Gloucester, he issued orders for the levy throughout the county of £6,000 a month for the maintenance of the garrisons at Bristol and other places within the shire. The money was to be paid by the high constables to “Thomas Walter of St. Nicholas's parish in Bristol”. The issue of his attempt on Gloucester is historical.

A few days after the King's departure, the Council appointed a committee to “mediate” with the new Lieutenant-Governor “for the liberties and freedom of the inhabitants, both for their persons and estate, especially those that are now in custody, and have petitioned for relief”. To propitiate his lordship, he was presented with a butt and three hogsheads of wine, a hundredweight of sugar, and the freedom of the city. The ultra party at Court were still so drunk with success that Lord Hopton seems to have been prevented from liberating the imprisoned Puritans, for on the discomfited King's return to Oxford the Corporation renewed their appeals for merciful consideration in humble petitions, accompanied with copious presents of wine. After many months' hesitation, marking the reluctance of the act, His Majesty granted the city his “gracious pardon” on February 24th, 1644, which may have brought liberty to the captives. The document cost the poverty-stricken Council £150 in cash, irrespective of numerous presents and the heavy travelling expenses of supplicating delegates. In other respects the civic body was treated with scant respect. The King ordered the appointment of his nominee to the vicarage of St. Michael; Lord Hopton “commanded” the grant of the freedom to one Ricnard Allan, “postmaster-general”; and pressure was exerted to secure a loyal majority in the Chamber. Councillors Vickris

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.185

and Hodges - probably in prison - were struck off the roll, and to supply these and other vacancies William Colston and five others of ultra-royal principles were elected. On September 15th, when Humphrey Hooke (now become a Royalist) was chosen Mayor, and William Colston and Henry Creswick were selected as Sheriffs, an illegal oath, the author of which is not stated, was tendered to each member of the Council, who was required to vow that he would not abet or assist, or hold any intelligence with, the forces of the Parliament, or pay any tax imposed by the Houses, or encourage any one to bear arms against the King. Thirty-two members swallowed this formula, it is said “voluntarily”, though that assertion may well be doubted. The outgoing Mayor, Richard Aldworth, and about nine others either refused to swear or absented themselves. Perhaps the most egregious instance of the high-handedness of the royal officers occurred in November, when the General of the Artillery, styled Lord Piercies in the minutes, demanded of the Council that all the church bells in the city should be immediately delivered up to him for conversion into cannon. The mandate evoked a dignified reply from the Mayor and Aldermen, pointing out that the request was contrary to the terms of the capitulation, and that, in any case, the Corporation had no right to dispose of parish property.

During the summer, Sir John Pennington arrived in the city for the purpose of taking the command of a number of ships of war that had gathered in the port for the royal service. To aid in procuring crews, the King issued a proclamation promising pardon to all sailors who deserted from the Parliamentary fleet, and threatening those who served against him with the punishment of rebels. A royal news-sheet of August 4th alleges that a ship of eighteen guns had come into Kingroad, and surrendered. Parliament, on the other hand, directed their admiral, the Earl of Warwick, to cruise near the mouth of the Bristol Channel, in order to capture ships sailing to Bristol, and prevent the transport of soldiers sent over to the King from Ireland, in which last service, however, Warwick was far from successful, considerable numbers of Irish mercenaries being afterwards landed in the Avon.

A royalist quarrel, somewhat similar to that already recorded, occurred at this time between Sir Edward Hyde, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord Ashburnham, Paymaster of the Forces. The latter, embarrassed for money,

186THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

lost no time in seizing the receipts of the Bristol Custom House, and when Hyde, the proper recipient of the dues, applied to the local officers for the amount collected, he was enraged to find that he had been forestalled by his military colleague. After a bitter controversy the King decided in favour of the Chancellor.

A brief reference must be made to the fortunes of ex-Governor Fiennes. On arriving in London that gentleman defended his conduct in the House of Commons, and invited an inquiry before a Council of War. His challenge having been taken up by the well-known William Prynn, seconded by a shifty politician, Clement Walker, who both alleged that they had “lost the best parts of their estate in Bristol”, and who stigmatised Fiennes as a coward in separate pamphlets, the Earl of Essex summoned him and his accusers before a Council of War, which after several weeks' delay, owing to the efforts of Fiennes' friends to avoid a trial, was opened at St. Albans on December 14th. The indictment, framed by Prynn with his usual acrimony, was of great length, and its virulence may be estimated by the fact that one charge was founded on the condemnation of Yeamans and Bowcher, which had been approved by both Lord Essex and the Houses of Parliament. The accusation of cowardice was put in various forms, and the evidence of numerous witnesses (one of whom was the strong-willed Dorothy Hazard) was produced in its support. Fiennes discredited his defence by raising the quibbling plea that as he was never legally invested with the governorship of the city, the whole indictment was vitiated. Having been confuted on this point, he fell back on assertions that he had done his best, and that the defence of the town was impracticable with the forces at his command. Puritan resentment, however, demanded a victim. The Court found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death. But his civil abilities, which were confessedly brilliant, and the powerful influence of his family, as well as the conflicting opinions of military men as to the justice of the sentence, were urged upon the Commander-in-Chief, who granted him a pardon, in which his valour at Edgehill fight is warmly applauded. A few years later Fiennes was appointed by Cromwell a member of the Council of State, and he was also for a time Keeper of the Great Seal.

When the sanitary condition of the city, as previous notes bear witness, had been always unsatisfactory,

1643]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.187

matters were not likely to be improved by the introduction of a large garrison and the contingencies of a siege. A minute of a Council meeting in October shows that householders were in the habit of throwing their refuse into the streets, and that filth was lying thickly in the unswept alleys and on the quays. Fines were threatened if those abuses were persisted in, but it was felt that something more was necessary, and the salary of “the Raker” was raised from £70 to £80, the Council ordering that the additional £10 should be levied on the inhabitants.

During August a Bristol ship with a valuable cargo was taken by one of the Parliamentary men-of-war, and sold as a prize in London by order of the House of Commons, to the serious loss of some Royalist merchants. Soon afterwards, Colonel Massey, the heroic Governor of Gloucester, equipped a frigate, by which a party of his soldiers, sailing down to Chepstow, succeeded in surprising and carrying on some of the officers of the royal garrison, and the vessel was afterwards employed in cruising for prizes in the Bristol Channel. To meet this danger to local commerce, efforts were made to send out ships for the defence of the port. In February, 1644, Sir John Winter, Governor of Chepstow, offered the Corporation a pinnace fit for this service, and undertook to pay half the outlay for the crew's wages and provisions. The proposal was accepted, and the Merchants' Company having contributed £20 towards the expense, the Corporation ordered that the remainder should be levied upon the inhabitants, who seem to have been regarded as a sort of inexhaustible milch cow. (They were now, by the way, paying a new contribution of over £1,000 a year for the relief of maimed soldiers and various military needs.) A second pinnace was afterwards manned, under a similar promise of assistance from Winter, which, as in the previous case, he entirely failed to fulfil. In February, 1645, the Corporation, who had borne all the outlay, informed him that if his moiety was not forthcoming, the city would bear no further charge. Though nothing was received, the King insisted that the ships should be kept at sea; but in July the Council resolved that in consequence of other excessive burdens on the ratepayers the charge could no longer be sustained.

The King, on December 22nd, 1643, granted a new charter to the Society of Merchant Venturers. The Patent stated that “in consideration that the merchants of Bristol have expressed their loyalty and fidelity to us in these late

188THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1643

times of differences, when even the merchants of London, who have enjoyed many more privileges and immunities, have many of them traitorously rebelled against us”, the King had granted the Society the same rights of trade as were possessed by the Russia and Turkey Companies of London, and also freedom to trade to the Hanse Towns and Denmark.

Owing to the lack of current money, always hoarded in troublous times, a large proportion of the contributions extracted from local householders on behalf of the royal cause were presented in the shape of silver plate, the value of which was taken at about 4s. 4d. per ounce. In order to turn this mass of treasure to account, a Mint was established in the Castle, and great quantities of half-crowns, shillings, and sixpences, dated 1643, were put into circulation. Several varieties are preserved, most of them bearing the mint mark BR. As plate continued to be offered in lieu of money, the Mint was busily employed throughout 1644, groats and half-groats being added to the previous pieces. In the early months of 1646, in addition to fresh issues of half-crowns and shillings, a number of sovereigns and half-sovereigns were struck in gold, the metal having doubtless been received in the shape of chains, etc.. tendered in lieu of cash. Descriptions of most of the various local specimens still in existence may be found in Henfrey's well-known work on the English coinage. In addition to these authorized coins, it would appear that vast numbers of tokens were made in the city during the royalist occupation. According to a contemporary news-sheet, quoted by Mr. Henfrey, it was stated in the House of Commons on September 13th, 1644, that the King's soldiers were for the most part paid with Bristol farthing tokens, some of which had been secretly conveyed to London for conversion into money. These base pieces, alleged in a Roundhead pamphlet to be made of “tinkers' metal”, are supposed to be represented by numerous coins dredged from time to time out of the Floating Harbour. They are somewhat larger than the modern silver threepence, and bear a crown and two crossed sceptres instead of the royal head, but have neither date nor mint mark.

The city was also indebted to the Royalists for the introduction of a printing-press. Out of about a dozen tracts emanating from it which have been preserved, the earliest is entitled:- “The Association Agreement and Protestation of the Counties of Cornwall and Devon. January 5, 1643

1644]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.189

[old style, really 1644]. Bristoll, Printed by Robert Barker and Jonn Bile [error for Bill] Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, MDCXLIII”. The latest of these pamphlets is:- “A Letter from the Earl of Essex to his Highness Prince Rupert”, dated 1646. All of them are of course in support of the Royalist cause. The King's Printers left the city on the entry of Fairfax and Cromwell, and it was not until half a century later that a local printing-press was definitely established.

A document amongst the State Papers for 1644 indicates how the Bristol and other mints were kept provided with raw material. It is a writ of Privy Seal under the sign manual, dated February 14th, 1644, and directed to William Wyatt, merchant, Bristol, setting forth that as the Parliament at Oxford had approved of the speedy raising of £100,000 for the royal defence, and had subscribed a large portion of that sum, the King hoped that the remainder would be made up by loyal subjects, and therefore required Wyatt to subscribe £20 in money or that value in plate. Appended to the mandate is a memorandum, signed by Francis Creswick, Sheriff, to the effect that Wyatt had brought in eighty ounces of “touched” plate, value £20. Similar extortions were largely practised in other towns where the Cavaliers were predominant.

The above reference to the mock Parliament at Oxford recalls attention to the somewhat equivocal position of the representatives of Bristol. Serjeant Glanville seems to have effaced himself from the time of his election, and received no “wages” from the Corporation; but, so long as the city was in Puritan hands, Alderman Taylor remained at Westminster, and, as has been shown, lent and promised pecuniary help to the Parliamentary cause. The entry of Prince Rupert greatly altered his position. Having his property and business in the city, he could not have remained in the House of Commons without being personally ruined, and, like many others subjected to the same peril, he repaired to Oxford, repudiated the assembly he had deserted (which declared him “disabled”), and thenceforth conducted himself as a supporter of the King. The change of front is noted in the corporate accounts for 1644 without remark:- “Paid Alderman Taylor, charges as burgess at London and Oxford, £10”. A few months later he received £160 more, in addition to £60 previously paid as salary whilst sitting at Westminster.

Though direct evidence is wanting, it is certain that

190THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1644

the royal officers had not been long in possession of the city before they felt the urgent necessity of strengthening the fortifications, and thus securing against such a mishap as had befallen their opponents. Whatever may have been the date at which the additional works were commenced, a corporate minute of March, 1644, shows that they were then in full operation, two members of the Council being ordered to ride round and view the works every afternoon and encourage the workmen. Entries of a month's later date show that money was collected in advance from the inhabitants every six weeks for the payment of the labourers, and that those unable to bear the burden were required to send an able man, who was to work from six a.m. to six p.m., save two hours at midday. Mr. Thomas Colston was then engaged in extending and strengthening the redoubt at Kingsdown that was afterwards known by his name, and the Council undertook to refund him all his disbursements. The most important extensions, however, were on the summit of St. Michael's Hill, where the little Windmill Fort had been constructed two years before. The royal engineers resolved on converting this place into a great pentagonal fortress, almost deserving the name of a citadel, styled the Royal Fort, deeply entrenched, mounted with twenty-two guns, and provided with magazines, barracks, and other military buildings. The city being unable to furnish the extra number of labourers needed for the completion of this stronghold with the rapidity which the course of the war rendered urgent, workmen were drafted by force from the surrounding country, the inhabitants of which were also required to contribute to the cost of maintaining the garrison. One of the warrants for labourers, dated June 15th,transmitted to the head constables of Grumboldsash hundred, Gloucestershire, many parishes of which are fifteen miles from Bristol, is amongst the State Papers. It requires the sending in of sixty able men for a “few days”, provided with good shovels and pickaxes, their wages being promised out of the monthly contributions levied on the hundred. Larger contingents would be available from the more populous hundreds surrounding the city, but even six months later £219 per week were still being expended upon the fortifications generally. The permanent military establishment had then been settled. The garrison was fixed at three regiments of infantry (3,600 men), the maintenance of which cost £834 a week; a regiment of cavalry,

1644]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.191

420 strong, costing weekly £352; the Prince's troop, 200 men, requiring £121, and about 60 gunners, receiving £38. The Governor's salary is not stated, but £21 weekly were apportioned to the Lieutenant-Governor, £10 to the Deputy-Governor, £5 each to the Major and Petardier, and minor sums to subordinates. Finally £350 a week were to be laid out for making arms and ammunition. With the exception of £200 derived from the Customs, the whole of this burden - £2,000 a week in round numbers - was arbitrarily levied upon the householders of the district, the hundreds of Somerset being compelled to pay £860, of Wilts £600, of the lower division of Gloucestershire £300, and Bristol £160.

About the end of January, 1644, a body of about 1,600 Irish soldiers, under the command of Lord Inchiquin and “the great O'Niel”, disembarked at Bristol for service in the royal army. The fact appears to have been suppressed by the Royalist news-sheets, the writers of which were aware of the detestation with which the “Papists” were regarded by Englishmen generally, in consequence of the wholesale massacres of Irish Protestants. The Roundhead scribes, on the other hand, made the most of the intelligence, adding that Mass was being openly celebrated in five different places in the city, and that the neighbouring counties were being pillaged to support the “rebels”. About two months later, when these mercenaries had departed, three more shiploads of Irish arrived, but the pilots at Pill rose in mutiny, and refused to allow the vessels to come up the river; whereupon Alderman Hooke called a meeting of about sixty leading citizens, who approved of the pilots' action, and warned the Deputy-Governor that an attempt to force the hated hirelings on the city would lead to an insurrection of the trained bands, and possibly to a general revolt. The Deputy-Governor then prudently ordered the ships to land the troopers at Bridgwater.

Although our local historians have overlooked the incident, the corporate records bear witness that Queen Henrietta Maria spent a night or two in the city in April, 1644. She was lodged in the Great House at St. Augustine's Back, which must have been scantily furnished, for beds were borrowed from the landlord of the Red Lion inn, who seems to have received nothing for the loan. On April 23rd the Council resolved that £500 should be “freely bestowed” on Her Majesty, hoping that she would “graciously accept it as a token of their love”. One

192THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1644

fourth of the amount was to be paid by the Chamber; the remainder was ordered to be forthwith “imposed on the inhabitants” whose experiences of such “benevolences” must by this time have been painful. Some trouble was found in raising the money, for Mr. John Gonning lent £40 to complete the sum. The present, being in silver, was a bulky one, and ten bags, costing 2s. 8d., were required to transport it. The Queen then disappears into black night. Lord Hopton, who had been absent from his post for some time, returned about the middle of May, after having been defeated by Sir William Waller in Hampshire, and appears to have apprehended an early investment of the city. Doubtless at his request, the Council, on May 21st, resolved that the trained band should be increased to 1,000 men. This and other expenses for defensive purposes necessitating an outlay of £1,000, it was determined that the Chamber should become security for the loan, but that the money should, at a convenient season, be levied upon the inhabitants. It was further decided that, as much previous expenditure imposed on the citizens had been only partially recovered, the Mayor and Aldermen should issue warrants for the collection of the arrears, and that persons refusing to pay should have their goods distrained, or be committed to Newgate till the money was forthcoming. Constables and churchwardens remiss in carrying out this order were also to be sent to prison. To make further provision for defence, it was determined on June 5th that Bristol should enter into an Association with the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall, in conformity with a proposal to that effect brought by Sir Edward Rodney from the central committee at Exeter. It will presently be seen that this step plunged the Corporation into fresh financial embarrassment. On September 20th the Council received an urgent letter from Lord Hopton's deputy, Sir Francis Hawley, for help to finish the Royal Port, which he was unable to accomplish through lack of means. The civic treasury being empty, the Mayor and Mayor-elect were requested to become security for £200, borrowed to furnish the needful assistance, the Chamber undertaking to save them harmless. By this time the royal cause was evidently becoming desperate. Amongst the many interesting documents in the collection of the late Mr. Sholto Hare, now in the possession of Mr. Fenton Miles, is a letter from Sir Francis Hawley to Prince Rupert, dated November 22nd, stating that many of the Bristol auxiliaries had run away,

1644]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.193

and begging for an order to impress 1,000 men. Shortly afterwards, the Corporation raised a loan of £400 at 8 per cent., and sent half the money to Hawley, then become a peer, towards his expenses in entertaining Prince Rupert, who had just passed through the city, after his defeat at Marston Moor, to join the King at Chard. The needs of the ships of war at Kingroad were next pressed upon the authorities, who promised £160, but for a time could raise only £20. Under these painful difficulties the salary of the Mayor was suspended, as was that of the Recorder, who ceased to exercise his functions after 1642, gaol deliveries being abandoned.

Owing to the distracted state of the country, the great fair at St. James's tide was not held in 1644. The suspension deprived the Sheriffs of their customary receipts from booths and standings, and the Council voted them £50 “in respect of their great loss”. Many persons, too, had quitted the city, leaving houses uninhabited, and upwards of £200 of rents due to the Corporation were reported as “utterly lost”.

The Common Council, on September 30th, deliberated upon a letter just received from the King, requiring a provision of 1,500 pairs of shoes and stockings for his army. There being no other means of meeting the outlay, it was resolved that the weekly levy on householders for maintaining the garrison should be doubled for a month. Another resolution passed at the same meeting shows that orders had been already given for doubling that imposition for four weeks to pay for “Prince Rupert's firelocks, frigate money, and other necessary occasions”. The condition of the citizens under these eternal exactions must have been pitiable. Nevertheless, on October 8th, the Chamber received another mandate from the King, requiring it to assist the Somerset Committee with a loan for the payment of the royal army. This order had been sent through Lord Hopton, who coolly “propounded” that £2,000 should be advanced in ready money, and £1,000 spent in providing the soldiers with clothing, allowance being made for the shoes and stockings already sent in. His lordship's demands staggered the impecunious Council, who adjourned without framing a reply. Two days later, however, after much debate, it was resolved by a majority that £1,000 only should be lent to the Somerset gentry, to be borrowed on the security of the Chamber, and ten Councillors, selected from former supporters of the Parliament, were requested

194THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1644

to raise the money on their personal credit. The King's necessities being in no degree mitigated, he sent down another mandate in February, 1645, requiring £1,600 more to be provided for his troops in Somerset. He had, however, so thoroughly exhausted the city that the Council frankly made answer that, in view of the increasing debts of the Corporation, the demand could not be complied with.

In or about December, the construction of the Royal Fort was at length completed, to the great relief of the labouring population that had been driven in to work upon it. On January 7th, 1645, the Council ordered a re- assessment of the citizens, and, in accordance with the King's requirements, increased the weekly rate for supporting the garrison from £100 to £150, but discontinued the tax for the fortifications.

Early in March, 1645, the Prince of Wales, who, although under fifteen years of age, had been appointed General of the Association of the four Western counties, arrived in Bristol, accompanied by Lord Capel, Sir Edward Hyde, Sir John Culpepper, and others, who had been nominated as his Council. Lord Hopton had previously solicited the assistance of the Corporation in receiving this little Court, which was accommodated in the Great House, St. Augustine's, and four hogsheads of wine, with coal and wood, were forthwith provided (on credit), and consigned to the cellars. The house being unfurnished, the Chamber further resolved that whosoever would lend furniture, bedding, etc., should have the guarantee of the Corporation for the return of their goods undamaged, whereupon, it is recorded, five Councillors each undertook to send in a feather bed, mattress, bolster, two pillows with pillow bearers (cases), a pair of sheets and a pair of blankets. The Corporation furnished a service of pewter for the royal table at a cost of £19. Some of the Prince's party were lodged in the Bishop's palace, for which furniture was also required. A few days later the Common Council determined to present the royal visitor with £500, which were to be raised “out of hand” by collecting “3s. and upwards” from the householders. Only £430 being obtained in this way, the Chamberlain contrived to make up the remainder, and five bags, costing 1s. 8d., were purchased to convey the gift, which was doubtless most acceptable. The juvenile General found the Royalists in complete confusion. The Association, on which high hopes had been founded, was

1645]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.195

still in embryo. The county of Somerset, which had professed much, had performed nothing; the £100 a week promised for the Prince's support were not forthcoming; not a man or a horse had been raised; and the county gentry were spending their time in squabbling amongst themselves. An alarming discovery had moreover been made through some intercepted letters, showing that Sir William Waller, then at Taunton, was contemplating an advance on Bristol, and had friends there eager to support him; but the disclosure of the design led to the flight of the local conspirators, and the adjournment of Waller's advance. Of course there was the chronic lack of money. On April 3rd the Corporation received a demand from the Prince's Council “to make good about £400 for the garrison”, which, adds the minute, was “pretended to be in arrears”. Remonstrance being futile, the collectors were ordered to get in funds with all expedition. The money was really wanted to victual the Royal Fort and the Castle, to which the Chamberlain sent large supplies, including nearly 12,000 gallons of beer, costing £81. About the middle of the month the Prince repaired for a few days to Bridgwater, where an attempt was made, with little success, to set the royal cause on a better footing. Before May 15th his Royal Highness had “propounded” to the Court of Aldermen the loan of £400, promising to allow it out of the “arrears” of the inhabitants, which were alleged to be “very great”; but the Common Council, who had heard too much of these imaginary liabilities, “humbly conceived” there were no arrears at all, and desired the magistrates to say so in a a meet manner. An attempt to extract more money on behalf of the phantom Association was dealt with in a similar manner; but a charge of £548 for coals and candles for the guard-rooms during the thirteen months ending May was paid without apparent protest.

The horrors of pestilence were now to be added to those of civil war. The Plague had made its appearance in the previous autumn, when the Corporation hired Knowle House, to which were sent some infected people in the Castle Precincts and other districts; but the sickness was not then serious, and there is no further reference to the subject until April. The Council then assessed a fortnight's contribution for the relief of sufferers, and appointed a committee to assist the aldermen in their respective wards. A Pest House was next established, to which those suspected of

196THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645

the disease were sent, with orders to remain for thirty days. This place of detention consisted of nineteen huts, specially built for the purpose, and large numbers of poor patients were consigned there “in great want and necessity”, in spite of loans taken up for their assistance. One of these loans, for £100, advanced by Alderman Farmer, remained owing for thirteen years owing to the penury of the Corporation. The mortality from the epidemic reached an alarming height about the middle of May. Sir John Culpepper, writing to Lord Digby on the 18th, says:- “The sickness increases fearfully. There died this week according to the proportion of 1500 in London. Thereupon the Prince is resolved to remove upon Monday to Bath”. No trustworthy statistics as to the ravages of the pestilence are to be found in the Calendars; but one of them asserts, perhaps from guesswork, that there were about 3,000 victims. One fifth of the trained-band auxiliaries are reported to have disappeared, but this may have been due partly to the want of employment, and partly to the desperate state of the royal cause. The mortality began to decline about the end of September, but there were 81 victims in the week ending September 23rd, and 32 in the week ending October 28th. There was another, but brief, outbreak in the following spring. In connection with this visitation a brief reference may be made to a tract entitled “A brief Treatise of the Nature . . . of the Pestilence”, by William Kemp, M.A. (a native of Bristol), a copy of which is in the British Museum. A fashion had become prevalent amongst Royalist ladies to wear small black patches, styled beauty spots, on their faces, whereupon one of the King's chaplains in Bristol preached an objurgatory sermon, warning his feminine hearers that these so-called ornaments were forerunners of other and more deadly spots (the Plague), which soon after broke out, and drove all the patched women out of the city. Fashion, however, was proof against either diseases or sermons, and beauty spots were still in vogue in the reign of George I.

If dread of the deadly scourge declined during the autumn months, the prospect of an early and sanguinary conflict of the opposing armies for the possession of the city must have daily grown more terrible. After the crushing defeat of the royal forces at Naseby in the middle of June, Prince Rupert retreated to Bristol, and made preparations against the obvious intentions of Parliament and the new modelled Puritan army to recover the second port in the kingdom. The Prince was accompanied by a brilliant staff, and a body

1645]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.197

of troops which must have brought up the garrison to an effective strength of nearly 4,000 men, exclusive of the auxiliaries, though Rupert afterwards asserted that the number did not exceed 2,300. The continuous labour and expenditure of two years, under the supervision of a skilful engineer, Sir Bernard de Gomme, had effected immense improvements in the fortifications. Besides the Great Fort, already described, Colston's strong redoubt on Kingsdown had been erected and furnished with seven guns; Prior's Hill Fort had been converted into a lofty stronghold with two tiers of loopholes and thirteen cannon; the Lawford's Gate works had been enlarged; flanking redoubts for musketry had been raised at intervals; and the entire line of defence had been made more formidable by the heightening of the rampart, and the deepening and widening of the trench. Altogether, the number of cannon mounted on the works reached 140. No exertions were spared to complete the preparations against a siege. The inhabitants were required to victual themselves for six months, and as 1,600 out of the 2,600 families remaining in the city were too poor to comply with the order, all the cattle in the surrounding districts were driven within the walls, and supplies of grain and other food were drawn from Wales and elsewhere to feed both the troops and the indigent. Writing in high spirits to the King on August 12th, Rupert undertook to hold the city for four months.

The Parliamentary generals did not give him a long respite. On July 11th, after having routed the royal army under Goring, near Langport, Sir Thomas Fairfax surrounded Bridgwater, which, after a gallant defence, capitulated on the 25th. Bath was taken with little difficulty, and Sherborne Castle was captured by storm on August 15th. Bristol thus became the only important Royalist stronghold in the district; and its reduction being an indispensable preliminary to the suppression of the war in the West, a rapid advance towards it was ordered, and Fairfax's army reached Chew Magna and Hanham on the 20th. The weather being extremely unfavourable, Rupert, to distress his assailants, ordered all the villages around the city to be destroyed. Bedminster, Clifton, and part of Westbury were accordingly burned to the ground; but Hanham, Keynsham, and Stapleton were saved by detached squadrons of the enemy. Fairfax, after careful reconnoitring on the 21st and 22nd, fixed his headquarters on the 23rd at Stoke House, Stapleton, the seat of a cadet branch of the Berkeleys. By

198THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645

that date orders had been given for the posting of the Puritan regiments around the works, especial attention being given to Prior's Hill Fort, which was regarded as the key of the whole; and Fairfax considered the place of such vital importance that he removed his headquarters to a humble farmhouse on the western brow of Ashley Down, since known as Montpelier farm, near which a battery was thrown up to support the attack on the opposite fort. Fairfax's practice of paying ready money for all that his troops consumed soon had a great effect on the country people, who had been mercilessly plundered by Goring and other Royalist officers, and supplies of provisions were cheerfully furnished. Public feeling in the rural districts was further stirred by the eloquence of Hugh Peters, Cromwell's chaplain, who boasted that by one sermon in Somerset he won over to the Puritan host 3,000 “clubmen” (who had armed to defend their property from the raids of both camps), and that a similar discourse brought in 2,000 more from Gloucestershire. Vast numbers did, in fact, come forward from both counties, and proved useful in keeping open Rownham Ferry, excavating batteries, etc. Hopes were also entertained that the “well affected” Bristolians would make a vigorous effort to promote their own deliverance, but, probably from the vigilance of the garrison, “their good affection”, Cromwell wrote, “did not answer expectation”. (The Gloucestershire auxiliaries, according to “The True Informer” of September 20th, were led by Sir John Seymour, of Bitton, Mr. John Codrington, of Codrington, Mr. Stevens, and Philip Langley, of Mangotsfield.) Prince Rupert showed characteristic energy whilst the investment was proceeding. On August 23rd. during heavy firing from the Royal Fort and Prior's Hill, a cavalry sally was made from the former, but was soon repulsed, Sir Richard Crane being mortally wounded. On Sunday, the 24th, the Royalists rushed from the sallyport at Stokes Croft, some horse being supported by infantry, but were again driven back with loss. At dawn on the 20th, a fresh outbreak was made, this time from Temple Gate, against the forces stationed near Bedminster, when twenty of the besiegers were killed or taken prisoners; but later in the day the Royalists lost Sir Bernard Ashley, who was captured mortally wounded. A fourth and wholly fruitless sally took place at Lawford's Gate on the evening of the 27th. Next day the Prince proffered ten prisoners in exchange for Sir B. Ashley, but his proposal was rejected. During this day

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.199

the fort at Portishead Point, with seven guns, after a siege of four days, surrendered, and five of the Parliament's warships were thus enabled to enter Kingroad and blockade the Avon. On the 29th, which was devoted by the besiegers to prayer and fasting, a fifth sally was made at Lawford's Gate, but resulted only in the capture of three or four Roundheads. Intelligence also reached the Puritan generals that the King was moving westwards, in the apparent hope of raising the siege in co-operation with Goring, who was advancing from Exeter; but, although the situation was admitted to be critical, it was resolved to continue the investment. On the 31st, Fairfax was cheered by the arrival of the Parliamentary Admiral from Kingroad, who offered the assistance of his seamen in the impending attack. On September 1st, a wet and murky day, Prince Rupert made a sixth and final sally from the Royal Fort, with 1,000 horse and 600 infantry; but the effort was as ineffectual as its forerunners, only one Puritan officer being killed, but Colonel Okey, of the Roundhead dragoons, lost his way in the mist and was captured. Rain having fallen for several successive days, the besiegers were now suffering severely from the saturated state of the ground. On the 2nd Fairfax held a Council of War, when it was felt that a regular blockade would be tedious as well as distressing, and might possibly be perilous; and it was resolved to effect a capture by storm whilst there was no enemy in the rear. The preparations for the enterprise were completed on the following day. Colonel Weldon's four regiments of foot and three of horse were ordered to assail the formidable southern ramparts. Three “forlorn hopes” of 200 men each were to lead the storm in different places. Montagu's brigade - four infantry and two cavalry regiments - proud of their great deeds at Naseby, were directed to attack the rampart on both sides of Lawford's Gate. To the veteran brigade of Rainsborough, comprising four foot regiments and one of horse, was reserved the most important task of all - the conquest of Prior's Hill Fort, commanding the greater part of the long line of entrenchments. Colonel Pride was to occupy the attention of the Royal Fort. Okey's dragoons were to feign an advance towards “Washington's breach”, which the Royalists had taken care to render practically unassailable. Three cavalry regiments under Fleetwood were to be posted on Durdham Down to act as necessity should arise, and the sailors coming up by boats were to attack Water Fort. Upwards of 2,000 countrymen, brought up

200THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645

by Sir John Seymour on the 4th, with twelve companies more that came in on the 6th, added somewhat to the impressive appearance of the besieging forces.

Preparations being now complete, a summons to surrender was forwarded on the 4th by Sir Thomas Fairfax to Prince Rupert, earnestly desiring him to avoid bloodshed. If, said Sir Thomas, through wilfulness, a great, famous and ancient city, full of people, be exposed to ruin, “I appeal to the righteous God to be judge between you and us, and to requite the wrong”. A personal appeal followed to the son of the Electress Palatine:- “Let all England judge whether the burning of its towns, ruining its cities, and destroying its people be a good requital from a person of your family, which hath had the prayers, tears, purses and blood of its Parliament and people”. As it was reported that Rupert had threatened to hang any one who brought in a demand to capitulate, the trumpeter charged with this missive must have been a courageous man. He got safely to his destination, however, and the Prince, opening the letter, cried, “Goddamn me! 'tis a summons”, and called for a cup of sack. The trumpeter was detained until the 5th, when he brought back a request from the Prince to be allowed to communicate with the King. This being refused, Rupert again held back the messenger for a day, and then returned him bearing an offer of surrender providing, amongst other things, that the Royalists were allowed to depart with all the honours of war, carrying off their cannon and ammunition, and that the fortifications be immediately destroyed. Fairfax responded by naming three of his generals to confer with the Prince on the terms of a treaty to be signed that night. After another delay, Rupert demanded that the objections to his proposals should be stated in writing; and when Fairfax, on the 8th, complied with this request, the royal general succeeded in delaying his reply until the evening of the 9th, when it was found to be as evasive as before. Feeling at last that he was being trifled with, and that Rupert was gaining time merely to strengthen the defences, Fairfax gave orders for the assault, at which, it is asserted, his soldiers “leaped for joy”.

About two o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, September 10th, the signal for attack was given from the battery on Ashley Hill, and by the firing of a great heap of straw, the blaze of which was everywhere visible. Montagu's brigade more than maintained its high reputation. Surmounting the rampart near Lawford's Gate, that

1645]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.201

position was assailed in every direction, and after a short resistance was captured, with many prisoners and twenty-two guns; the ditch, about seven feet wide and five deep, was bridged; and Bethell's and Desbrowe's horse, dashing down the Old Market, forced the great gate of the Castle after a fierce fight, in which Bethell was mortally wounded. Sir Hardress Waller's men, accompanied by Fairfax's regiment, had in the meantime carried the rampart between the Avon and Lawford's Gate, where the defences were weaker, and joined hands with Montagu. The sallyport at Stokes Croft simultaneously yielded to Hammond, while Skippon and Birch's troops carried the works between the Croft and Lawford's Gate. But a desperate resistance was made against Rainsborough's attack, with three regiments, on Prior's Hill Fort. For nearly three hours, mostly in profound darkness, the assailants vainly strove to gain a footing on the parapet, the top of which was hardly touched by ladders of thirty rungs; and a deadly fire of balls and case shot was all the while plied from the cannon on the summit, aided by musketry from the portholes. At length some of the men that had taken Stokes Croft climbed the hill on the inside of the rampart, and attacked the fort at its weakest point, whilst other assailants succeeded in forcing their way through the upper portholes and seizing the royal standard. After struggling some time longer, pike against pike, the garrison were forced to retreat below, where, owing to the exasperation of the victors, whose early offer of quarter had been rejected, most of the Royalists were put to the sword, a few only being saved by the personal exertions of Rainsborough and Hammond. The struggle was over before sunrise. The Puritans would almost certainly have been defeated if the attack had been postponed until daylight, for the fort was fully commanded by the guns of Royal Fort and Colston's Mount.

The Roundhead assaults on the Somerset side of the fortifications were as unsuccessful as those of the Cavaliers in 1643, and for the same reasons. There was no lack of zeal and gallantry; but the wall was so lofty and the ditch so deep that the longest scaling ladders did not reach the parapet, and proved mere death-traps to those who strove to mount. Water Fort was captured for a time, with its little garrison of Welshmen, but when the tide ebbed the victors, open to the fire of Brandon Hill Fort, found it expedient to withdraw. The attacks on Brandon Hill and Royal and Colston's Forts were mere feints, the chief object

202THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645

of the Puritan officers in that direction being to prevent the escape of any royal cavalry towards the Severn.

Two incidents of the day are worthy of mention. Soon after the capture of Prior's Hill Fort, whilst Fairfax and his great lieutenant, Cromwell, were viewing the city from the parapet, a cannon shot from the Castle grazed the wall within two handbreadths of them, but left them uninjured. Amongst the Cavaliers slain in that fort was a young officer named Pugsley, who had just been married, and who, by Fairfax's orders, was buried in an adjoining field with military honours. His widow survived him for no less than sixty years. On her death, in 1705, she was, in accordance with her dying request, buried by the side of her husband in her wedding dress, without a coffin, but with girls strewing flowers and musicians playing merrily as her body was borne to the grave.

In despite of the successes of the besiegers, Prince Rupert's position remained a strong one. He still held four great forts and the old Castle on the northern side of the Avon, with all the ancient inner defences; he was undisputed master of the parishes south of the Bridge, and his store of provisions and ammunition would have sufficed to maintain a lengthened resistance. Desperation, however, seems to have taken possession of his followers, who recklessly set fire to the city in three different places, to the grief and alarm of Fairfax and his generals. About four hours after the loss of Prior's Hill Fort, the royal commander, who seems to have suddenly lost his nerve, made voluntary proposals for a surrender, and commissioners were appointed on each side to arrange details. At this critical moment something occurred which was kept secret at the time, and will probably always remain a mystery. Alderman Hooke, Mayor in the previous year, a man of dubious principles, as previous notes bear witness, had posed as a zealous Cavalier during the Royalist occupation, but thought this a desirable opportunity to seek the favour of his previous friends. At all events, to use Cromwell's expression some years afterwards, he did “something considerable” in support of the Puritans, for which Sir Thomas Fairfax engaged that he and his property should be as free as before the war. In 1650, when Hooke was threatened by the Compounding Commissioners with a heavy fine, for “delinquency”, the Alderman urged this pledge upon Cromwell, and the latter stayed the hands of the spoilers, informing them that Hooke's proceeding was “for many reasons desired to be

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.203

concealed”. Before entering into negotiations, Fairfax, fearing the destruction of the city, insisted that the garrison should extinguish the fires, and this was complied with. Deputies were then sent in to draw up a treaty of surrender, which was concluded in the evening. The Prince, his officers, and other gentlemen were permitted to leave with their horses, arms, and baggage; the soldiers with their swords. Rupert was also allowed a convoy to guard him against the country people, the “clubmen”, who detested him for the cruelties he had permitted, and threatened revenge. The sick and wounded left in the city were to be sent to the King on their recovery. In return, Bristol was to be surrendered at noon, next day, and the Puritan prisoners were to be liberated. On Thursday, September 11th, the young Prince, splendidly clad in scarlet and silver, and mounted on a gallant steed, left the Royal Fort, followed by the distinguished party of lords, ladies, and gentlemen that had taken refuge there. As a mute but eloquent reproach on the ruffianly outrages committed on Fiennes and his companions under a similar misfortune, Sir Thomas Fairfax escorted Rupert and his friends for two miles over Durdham Down, and lent him 1,000 muskets (most of which were never returned) for protection against the infuriated peasantry. The King's printers, with their printing-press, were allowed to depart for Exeter. Even the malignant pamphleteers of Oxford were not able to adduce a single charge of pillage or ill-treatment on the part of the conquerors. The stores left by the Royalists showed the vastness of their preparations for defence, made at the cost of the city and district. The mounted cannon numbered 140, with 3,000 muskets, and an ample supply of ammunition. The Royal Fort contained nearly eleven months' provisions for 150 men, and about half that quantity was found in the Castle. The victory cost the lives of 200 Puritans, 400 more being wounded.

A few hours after the departure of the Cavaliers, Fairfax, accompanied by his Lieutenant-General, Cromwell, about whom the narrators of the storming maintain a singular silence, removed his headquarters into Bristol, and was shocked at the condition of the town. “It looked”, wrote Sprigge, the ablest of the reporters, “more like a prison than a city, and the people more like prisoners than citizens; being brought so low with taxations, so poor in habit, and so dejected in countenance; the streets so noisome, and the houses so nasty as that they were unfit to receive friends till

204THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645

they were cleansed”. The Plague was still raging, but Cromwell, in his historical letter to Parliament (given at length by Carlyle and Seyer), stated that, so far as he could learn, the army, though quartered in infected places, had lost only one man from the scourge. As it would have been foolhardy to incur useless danger, Fairfax soon departed with all his forces, except the regiment of General Philip Skippon, a valorous and high-minded Puritan. So early as September 15th the House of Commons was petitioned by several exiled citizens to appoint Skippon as Governor, and Fairfax, by the advice of the House, complied with the request. On September 17th, Parliament ordered a national Thanksgiving for the victory; and during the services collections were requested to be taken for the relief of the “many distressed and plundered people of Bristol” who had taken refuge in London during the Royalist occupation. Sir Thomas Fairfax, either before or soon after his departure, was presented by the Common Council with two pipes of wine, the political sentiments of the body having changed with marvellous celerity.

On receiving intelligence of the overwhelming disaster, Charles I., as was but natural, was bitterly incensed at the hasty submission of his nephew, whom he loaded with reproaches for the non-fulfilment of his promise, only a few weeks old, to hold out for four months, and concluded by dismissing the Prince from the army and ordering him to leave the kingdom. Rupert, however, though reviled with cries of “traitor” by the soldiery at Oxford, followed the King to Newark, where he treated his uncle with gross disrespect, abetted some mutinous officers, and insisted upon an inquiry into his conduct, which resulted on his being acquitted of all but indiscretion. His Majesty seems to have eventually come round to the same conclusion. In a letter to Prince Maurice, the King expressed his confidence that “this great error proceeded not from change of affection, but merely by having his [Rupert's] judgment seduced by some rotten-hearted villains” - a remark which deserves to be considered in conjunction with the Hooke mystery. It must be added that a “declaration” - really an apology - written by Rupert, and published about this time, does no credit to his reputation, his assertions as to the weakness of the fortifications and the feeble strength of the garrison being disproved by incontrovertible facts, adduced by Royalist writers. Perhaps his most daring contention was, that the Royal Fort was untenable because it was commanded by

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.205

Brandon Hill, where the works were but a fifth the size of the great pentagon, The assertion was false, and would have been frivolous if true, for both the strongholds were occupied by his soldiers. It is almost needless to add that the inglorious failure of the Prince threw Fiennes and his friends into transports of exultation, and a comparison between the action of the inexperienced lawyer and that of the much-vaunted general was certainly all in favour of the civilian.

A slight deviation from chronological order has been made to complete the story of the siege, which may be said to have sealed the doom of the royal cause. Attention must now be drawn to the proceedings of the civic Council. On September 3rd, when the siege was far advanced, the Royalist majority resolved to contribute to relieve necessitous members of the trained bands and other auxiliaries, lists of whom were to be brought in by the two colonels, Taylor and Colston. (Colonel Taylor, whose chequered career has been already referred to, was killed during the storm, a week later.) On the 5th, a proposition was received from Prince Rupert, proffering to refrain from demanding free quarters for his troops on condition of being paid £800. This being accepted, the money was ordered to be raised in a somewhat extraordinary manner. It was determined that a quantity of wine, ginger, cochineal, etc., lying in store (doubtless the property of strangers), should be compulsorily sold to the inhabitants. “Those that will not take some reasonable proportion, being able, and not doing duty in person on the lines, shall pay as much weekly as they are rated at for free quarters”. Whether this resolution was or was not carried out before the surrender took place cannot be discovered. On September 15th, when the Puritan victors were in possession, the Council, before proceeding to the annual elections, desired to know Fairfax's wishes as to the new officials. As Sir Thomas declined to interfere, and suggested that the ancient custom should be observed, Alderman Francis Creswick, a zealous Royalist, was chosen chief magistrate. As a counterpoise, Richard Vickris and Luke Hodges, two noted Roundhead councillors expelled in 1643, were reinstated in their places. Alderman Holworthy, another ejected member, was readmitted to his seat by order of Parliament. On October 2nd it was resolved that £5,000 should be given as a “gratuity” to the soldiers who had entered the city, the money to be raised, partly by the sale of all the goods of strangers stored in the

206THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1646

Back Hall and elsewhere, partly by a tax on such strangers as were in the town at the surrender, and partly by a rate on the inhabitants. Two days later, perhaps in alarm at the attitude of the troops, the gratuity was increased to £6,000, a motion to that effect being supported by Colonel Colston, and carried by the casting vote of another ex-Royalist, the Mayor. On November 12th it was reported to the Council that as only one-fourth of the gift had been collected, the military authorities had ordered the rate books to be handed to them, in order that the soldiers might gather in the money; whereupon the Council, in a panic, prayed for a brief respite, promising to bring in the gratuity with all despatch. Money being very scarce, contributions were largely made in silver plate, but it was not until February that the total amount could be extracted from the city.

Whilst this matter was in progress, two members of Parliament deputed by the Commons to superintend local affairs addressed some letters respecting their mission to the Speaker. These documents, which have been disinterred by the Historical MSS. Commission (Report XIII.), throw a flood of light upon the lamentable state of the city and neighbourhood. The writers, on October 8th, after observing that the irregularities of the military had begotten much trouble, refer to the immense destruction of provisions committed in the country districts by roving bands of soldiers and clubmen. The victimised people, who had previously been ravaged by the enemy, were now being eaten up by those that had flocked to the siege, and would perish unless they were relieved. “The city of Gloucester demands twenty-four months contributions to the very walls of this city, and enforces it by driving the country and imprisoning, beating and wounding such as resist”. The writers had especially complained of the treatment of Henbury hundred, but the Gloucester committee resented their interference, and continued the outrages. In Bristol, where the Plague was increasing, the inability of the writers to relieve the sick and wounded begot daily mutinies and desertions, and but for the gratuity raised for the troops ruin would have fallen on the city from the soldiers' appetites. It had been hoped that funds would be obtained from the wealth of the enemy; but the city was found to be a den of thieves, the goods of escaped Royalists being claimed under pretended transfers or for pretended debts. The citizens, moreover, refused to buy such prize goods as had been found. In a second letter, dated November 12th, the deputies warmly

1645]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.207

complain of the exaction of free quarters by the soldiers, and the cruel pressure exercised in the country districts by the Parliamentary committees of the two counties, who had no regard for the impoverished state of the people. The Bristol garrison could not subsist without help from the neighbouring hundreds, yet its maintenance was of great concern owing to the public discontent. Complaint is also made of the “crying down of the ryalls of eight”, previously current for 4s. 6d., but which the Customs and Excise officers had refused to accept at any price. This stop to trade, together with expected changes in the Corporation and the orders for fining and sequestering certain citizens, had put an end to all hopes of collecting the gratuity for the soldiers. The writers wish for Governor Skippon's return (their letter is the only evidence of his absence), as many officers were taking all they could lay hands on for themselves. The letter concludes with some remarks on religion which dispose of the baseless statements of various Royalist authors. The people, wrote the deputies, were still sitting in darkness owing to the want of a godly ministry. The collegiate (cathedral) men were still chanting out the Common Prayer to the wonted height, and no other discipline was thought of in the parish churches, there being hardly three sermons on Sundays in the whole city.

The conduct of many members of the Corporation during the Royalist occupation had not escaped attention at Westminster, and the Parliamentary leaders lost little time in determining upon extensive changes in the Common Council. On October 28th an Ordinance was passed by both Houses “for the better securing and government of Bristol”, setting forth that Aldermen Creswick (Mayor), Hooke, Long, Wallis, James, and Thomas Colston, and Councillors Fitzherbert, Henry Creswick, William Colston, Cale, Bevan, Gregson, and Elbridge had been so disaffected to Parliament, and so active in promoting the designs of the enemy, that their continuance in the magistracy and Council would be inconsistent with the safety and welfare of the city. They were therefore suspended, and threatened with prosecution for their delinquency. The Ordinance next nominated John Gonning, junior, as Mayor, and ordered the Sheriffs to assemble the remaining members of the Council, who were to proceed to the election of well-affected persons to supply the vacancies created by the above dismissals; but men under imprisonment, or whose estates had been sequestered by Parliament, were to be held as disqualified.

208THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1646

The “something considerable” done a few weeks before by Alderman Hooke was evidently unknown to the framers of this decree. The favour shown to John Gonning, who, if the minute-books can be trusted, had been a Royalist, is one of the puzzles of the time in reference to the conduct of some prominent citizens. The only explanation of their wavering and inconsistencies seems to be that they had no settled opinions as to the national issues then pending, and sought to protect their personal interests by favouring whichever party got uppermost, and by deserting each in turn when the tide of fortune turned. On November 1st the Houses approved of another Ordinance, requiring the reinstatement in their former places of Alderman Richard Aldworth and Messrs. Vickris and Hodges, “removed without lawful cause”, and of whose “great sufferings for being faithful the Houses had ample testimony”. (Vickris and Hodges, as stated above, had been already admitted.) Owing to the absence of Governor Skippon, these mandates did not reach the Council for several weeks. At length, on December 19th, they were presented by the General, who required them to be read, with the effect of producing the following characteristic minute:- “And all persons therein concerned willingly submitted thereunto, and Francis Creswick did next day in the usual place deliver up his office, sword and cap of maintenance unto Mr. John Gonning, who was thereupon sworn Mayor”. As if to further attest their obedience, the Council a few days later presented Governor Skippon with a pipe of Canary and two hogsheads of claret.

No class of society in Bristol appears to have suffered so much from the devastating effects of the war as did the incumbents of the parochial churches. Nearly all the livings being miserably endowed, the clergy had been accustomed to look for support to the yearly offerings of their flocks. But when the city became a garrison town, and ceaseless impositions were extorted for military purposes, the majority of householders grew indisposed, and many doubtless were rendered unable, to continue their voluntary subscriptions. In consequence of representations made at Westminster as to the poverty of the ministers, the Houses, on November 28th, empowered their delegates in Bristol to draw up a report, defining the number of churches that would suffice for the population, uniting parishes where it was thought desirable, and determining how adequate stipends could be provided for the reduced number of incumbents, either by taxation of the inhabitants or by an

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.209

allotment of part of the Dean and Chapter revenues. The Journals of the two Houses are silent as to the result of this order, but the Corporation will hereafter be found dealing with the subject. In the meantime, the local Parliamentary committee took action under a general Ordinance for the removal of ill-affected ministers. Early in 1646 Messrs. Towgood and Standfast, vicars of St. Nicholas and Christ Church, Mr. Pierce, vicar of St. Philip's, and Mr. Brent, vicar of Temple, were sequestered for “disaffection”, which then denoted loyalty, only a fifth of their incomes being paid by way of indemnity to their wives and children. The Nonconformists who had taken flight on the entry of the Royalists had returned soon after the recapture of the city, but no longer lived in their former harmony. Many new sects had arisen, doctrinal subtleties provoked disputes and divisions, rivalries arose amongst the preachers, and meetings called for prayer sometimes ended in angry confusion. The founders of the first Dissenting congregation (see p.151) held together, and for some time attended All Saints church to hear the sermons of a Mr. Ingello, who at length was chosen as their regular teacher. But Mr. Ingello, to the indignation and grief of his followers, not only flaunted in gay apparel, which was deemed absolutely sinful, but devoted much of his time to profane music, his love of that art tempting him to frequent the houses of various wealthy worldlings. Proving incorrigible, the devotee of harmony was dismissed. The Parliament, on December 3rd, passed an Ordinance confirming General Skippon in the governorship of the city, garrison, Castle, and forts, and empowering him to execute martial law. It was further decreed that, for the support of the garrison and for necessary charges, a levy should be made of £3,000 per month for six months, of which sum £200 were to be raised in Bristol, £1,200 in Somerset, and £800 each in Gloucestershire and Wilts. By another Ordinance of the same date, £6,000 were to be bestowed for “raising” the forces in Bristol, and for other necessary services; and it would appear that Major Samuel Kem was employed by the Government to raise a regiment amongst the inhabitants. Kem had been an army officer under Lord Denbigh, and, as was long customary in English regiments, combined the functions of major and chaplain. He was also for some time lecturer at St. Werburgh's, vice the Rev. Richard Standfast. Certain writers of limited knowledge, who have treated of the Civil War, have branded all the military preachers as uncultured fanatics. Kem,

210THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1645-46

however, like others, was an educated gentleman, and held the degree of B.D. In a letter to Lord Denbigh, dated December 19th, he refers with grief to the scandal caused in Bristol by a schismatical lieutenant, who “daily preacheth in a scarlet coat with silver lace and with his sword by his side . . . who holds the mortality of the soul”. “When called to other services in 1646, Kem preached, and afterwards printed, a farewell sermon to his Bristol regiment, in which he referred with scorn to the prevalent ”rabble of heresies“, and to ”the subservient actors for Scout-Master-General Self Ends“, who were slaying more than had perished by the sword.

On December 9th the House of Commons took into consideration the petition of Richard Netheway, a Bristol brewer, who made an urgent appeal for relief from the distress to which he had been reduced by the Royalists, owing to his affection for the Parliament. The enemy had, he averred, burned down his valuable houses near the Pithay Gate, and thereby ruined him. The Commons directed that he should be given £600 in money, and that their deputies in Bristol should provide him with a house suitable for his trade out of the estates of sequestered Royalists, and also consider how £500 more should be raised in compensation for his losses, which was done. Nothing more is heard of Netheway for twenty years; but in the State Papers for 1665 there is a petition from him to Charles II., affirming that he was reduced to poverty through his fervent loyalty. He had supplied Rupert's garrison with £120 worth of beer, never paid for, and his house at Pithay Gate was burnt with his consent, lest it should advantage the Roundhead besiegers. The impudent rogue begged for a place in the Custom House or some other compensation, declaring that he was likely to die in prison. The King's response has perished.

As the Recorder, Sir John Glanville, persistently refrained from visiting the city to perform his functions, the Council, on January 6th, 1646, declared that he was incapable of holding his place any longer, and that the office was therefore void. Edmund Prideaux, one of the Commissioners of the Great Seal, was thereupon appointed to the vacancy

Glanville had been ”disabled“ from sitting in Parliament by the House of Commons in the previous September, and Colonel Taylor, the other representative of Bristol, ”disabled“ in 1644, had been killed during the siege. An election for two members consequently took place on January 26th, 1646.

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.211

Major Kem, B.D., had previously preached a sermon exhorting the electors to return godly men, and Alderman Richard Aldworth and Luke Hodges, two of the Puritans expelled from the Council in 1643, were elected. Aldworth from time to time advanced considerable sums for the service of the Parliament, and appears to have been a popular member.

Early in the year the Corporation was sued, in the person of the Under Sheriff, by one John Roberts, who would have brought about the absolute ruin of the civic body if success had crowned his enterprise. When the ”gratuity“ of £20,000 to the King and Prince Rupert was being collected from the householders, Roberts's father was assessed at, and paid, £20; and the action was brought to recover this sum. The Court of King's Bench, however, seems to have summarily quashed the plaintiff's claim, for the law costs paid by the Corporation amounted to only ten shillings.

The soldiery of the garrison, having no serious duties to perform, occupied much of their leisure about this time in visiting the parish churches, and destroying what they styled ”idolatrous“ sculpture and stained glass, the latter being almost entirely demolished. Much havoc is said to have been wrought in the tabernacle work of the tombs, etc., in St. Mary Redcliff, where the organ was pulled to pieces, and the pipes carried away and blown as trumpets in the streets. The supposition that these zealots mutilated the once magnificent reredos at the end of the north aisle of the cathedral is, however, unfounded, the destruction of shrines and images in churches having been relentlessly carried out by order of the Government of Edward VI., a century earlier. Fearing that the painted glass in the Guildhall would fall a prey to the fanatics, the Corporation had 134 feet of it removed, and replaced by ordinary material at an outlay of £3 7s. Unfortunately, the ornamental glass seems to have perished through neglect, as it is never mentioned again.

When iconoclasts were aroused to fury by the sight of pictured glass and carved corbels, their hatred of what they styled prelacy was pretty sure to make them equally pitiless towards human beings. The local chroniclers are silent on the subject, and the only existing source of information is the book known as ”Walker's “Sufferings of the Clergy”, compiled upwards of sixty years later, and much of it avowedly based on hearsay and tradition, but which, it is only too probable, is in many cases trustworthy. Dr. Thomas Howell was nominated to the see of Bristol in 1644, and was in residence during a part of the second Puritan

212THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1646

occupation. His palace and park were sold by order of Parliament to Thomas and Samuel Clark for £240, and, as the Bishop refused to quit, the purchasers stripped the lead off the roof, by which the inmates, including Mrs. Howell, then advanced in pregnancy, were exposed to the weather. The unfortunate lady died in childbed, after which the Bishop was driven out of the house, which was first plundered and then converted into a malt mill and storehouse. Dr. Howell died a few months afterwards, leaving ten children.

When so little respect was paid to a bishop, it might be assumed that still less would be rendered to the King, against whom the Puritans were in arms. Yet the assumption would be erroneous as regards the period under review. Revolutionary ideas were developing rapidly in the Parliamentary army, but amongst civilians, in spite of years of misgovernment, loyalty was still deep and widespread, and possibly may have increased under the severe rule of the two Houses. In March, 1646, by order of the Corporation, the Chamberlain laid out 3s. 4d. “for wood for the bonfire before Mr. Mayor's door on Coronation Day, being the King's Holiday”. The same item occurs in the accounts of 1647 and 1648, the latter entry showing how the holiday was then celebrated:- “Paid Mr. Jessop for preaching a sermon at the College (cathedral), on the King's Coronation Day: ordered by the Mayor and Aldermen Lock, Vickris and Gibbs, but never paid before by the city, £1”. This entry, together with the usual quarterly items for dusting the Corporation seats, satisfactorily explodes the assertion made by some prejudiced writers that services in the cathedral were discontinued and the building desecrated soon after the departure of Prince Rupert.

Owing to the exorbitant demands of the Royalist officers whilst the city was in their power, the means of maintaining the ordinary machinery of police were no longer procurable, and the results may be imagined. The scavenger, for example, having been discharged through want of funds, the cleansing of the streets was left to the elements, and as the issue of two years' neglect, the main thoroughfares, according to a corporate minute of February 3rd, 1646, were “full of dirt, soil, and filth, and very dangerous in this time of infection”. Yet their condition was savoury when compared with that of the numerous narrow lanes inhabited by the poor. The Council, heavily burdened with debt, evaded the task of reform, and ordered the churchwardens

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.213

to levy rates with a view to purification; but after a lengthened trial of this system, the Corporation were compelled to resume their functions. In 1648 the Raker again became their servant at a salary of £100, of which sum the Council contributed £40, and the remainder was raised by a rate. The condition of the banks of the two rivers, especially of those of the Froom, was at low water even more sickening than that of the streets, owing to the impurities deposited there from the sewers and the filth cast in by the neighbouring inhabitants; but reformation was left to the winter floods, the authorities contenting themselves by threatening heavy penalties on detected malpractices.

General Skippon, who found the governorship of Bristol a by no means envious position, addressed a letter to the House of Lords on February 2nd, 1646, describing his embarrassments and praying for assistance, the want of which, he asserted, “is likely suddenly to bring this place into a very sad condition”. The order made by Parliament for contributions from the three neighbouring counties has been already recorded. Skippon's letter stated that though more than £9,000 ought to have been received from these sources, not so much as £900 had actually arrived; and that he had no power to raise money except in the city. Not a penny had been sent in from Gloucestershire and Wilts, and only about £700 had come from Somerset. He had thus been disabled from increasing the garrison, or rendering help to distressed friends in the three counties lately plundered by the enemy; whilst he had to keep in awe a multitude of ill-affected persons in Bristol (an assertion worthy of note). His earnest prayer for attention to his necessities led to an Ordinance of the two Houses, passed on February 24th, directing that the receipts from the Excise and new Impost in the city and district should be temporarily appropriated to the maintenance of the troops. In August, when the King was a prisoner, it was ordered that the garrison should be reduced to 800 infantry and one troop of horse, and that the soldiers be no longer employed in Gloucestershire in levying the contributions, the difficulty in procuring money from that county is explained in a letter addressed to the Speaker by Colonel Pynder, a deputy from the Commons. “The charge for free quarters during the siege”, he wrote, “amounts to so great a sum that, without your encouragement, the poor county will be undone, and disabled either to support the garrison or themselves”.

214THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1646

The Chamberlain, in August, disbursed £8 as a recompense to a citizen named Moore, on account of his house having been plundered by Prince Rupert's soldiers, “who possessed the same two whole years”. A shilling was also paid to a smith for his help in letting down “the portcullis at Froom Gate, to keep out carts”, which were always regarded as a nuisance by the Corporation.

Raglan Castle, the last stronghold of the Royalist cause in the West of England, surrendered to the Parliament forces in August. A London news-sheet reported soon afterwards that one Major Tuleday had arrived in Bristol on his way to the capital, with the King's standard and other badges of triumph borne before him, and that as he approached the city he was met by joyous crowds, who heartily welcomed him.

One of the earliest indications that the civic body was recovering from the blood-sucking practices of the Cavaliers occurs in the Council minutes of October 15th. There being much distress amongst the poor, owing to the dearness of food, the members clubbed up £266, the whole of which sum was expended, not in the purchase of corn, but of butter, destined for sale by retail at low prices. In the result there was a loss on the transaction of over £30, which was borne by the Chamber. Soon after, a gratuity of £30 was voted to Sir John Glanville for “arrears” of his fees when Recorder, though a much larger sum was nominally due to him. This was followed by the revival of the Mayor's fishing excursion on the Froom, by a perambulation of the boundaries, and by a duck-hunting feast, the expenses of each, though on a modest scale, indicating a desire to revert to old-fashioned festivities. A novel item crops up about the same time - a payment of £4 3s. 6d. for horse-meat, etc., for Mr. Recorder's horses - which the Chamberlain carefully noted was “not to be brought in president for the future”. In point of fact it became a “president” for annual items of far greater amount, extending over more than a hundred years. It is probable that the Recorder, during his first visit, may have pointed out the desirability of re-constituting the aldermanic body, which, by the purgation of the previous year, had been reduced to four members; for during his stay, eight gentlemen, all prominent Puritans, were elected, thus completing the magisterial bench. Six Common Councillors, of similar political views, were chosen about the same time, one of whom was William Yeamans, a relative

1646]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.215

of the “martyr”. Finally, in November, when Dublin was in danger of falling into hostile hands, the members of the Council subscribed upwards of £160 for the purchase and despatch of ammunition for the Puritan garrison.

Towards the close of the year the Parliamentary tribunal charged with inquiring into the value of “delinquents'” estates, and “compounding” with the owners for fines in lieu of sequestration, was actively fulfilling those duties, and several Bristol names occur in the State Papers, which often omit to mention the decisions arrived at. It is clear from these papers that some prominent local Royalists changed sides immediately after the Puritan victory. For example, Thomas Colston, the trained-band colonel who constructed Colston Fort, petitioned for favourable consideration because he had at once conformed to Parliament; while his subordinate, Captain Bevan, made the same prayer, alleging that he had laid down his arms even before the storming of the town, and had since advanced “great part” of the gratuity to the Roundhead soldiers. No fine is noted in either case. Ex-Alderman Wallis's petition admits that he was for Parliament until Prince Rupert entered, and for the King till the Royalists were driven out. Being now “well affected” again, he got off on paying £177 10s. Richard Gregson acknowledges having taken arms for the King, but pleads that he has now taken the Covenant, and had paid “£40 for his 25th part”, which was probably the assessment levied for raising the £6,000 given to the soldiery. He escaped on paying £106 more. Ex-Alderman Richard Long made no profession of change of opinion, but asked to be allowed to compound, which was granted on payment of £800. Thomas Chester, in the same way, compounded for his landed estate by a fine of £1,000, which would have been more but for the fact that some of his houses were destroyed by the fires raised by the defeated Royalists. He paid a further, but unrecorded, fine to redeem his personal estate. John Bowcher, merchant (doubtless the brother of the “martyr”), in praying to be allowed to compound, stated that he had been a captain in one of the King's foot regiments. He was fined £135. Alexander James, Mayor in 1644-5, appears to have been mulcted in £670. Ex-Alderman Humphrey Hooke, already well known to the reader, made an urgent appeal for tender treatment. When Fiennes was Governor of the city, the petitioner lent him £250, supplied powder (value £90), which was never paid for, and made other gifts in money.

216THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1646-47

It was true he had helped Prince Rupert to defend the town against Parliament, but he had since given much towards the soldiers' gratuity, and paid all contributions, and had finally become a good Puritan, by adhering to the Covenant! Mr. Hooke had large estates in the two adjoining counties and in Worcestershire, and his case occupied the commissioners for five years. Two fines, amounting to about £800, occur in the proceedings, but, as has been already mentioned, he appealed to Cromwell, and probably escaped scot-free. Sir Maurice Berkeley, of Stoke, near Stapleton, in asking to be allowed to compound, alleged that he had been forced, from the nearness of his house to Bristol, to adhere to the King's party. He was fined £1,030, but petitioned again “on a fresh particular”, when the mulct was fixed at £343. His son Richard declared that, “being under the power of the enemy”, he was forced to take the King's side. He appears to have got off on payment of £231. Sir Robert Poyntz, K.B., of Iron Acton, who had property in Bristol, and was in the city with the Royalists, was fined £723.

The most destructive fire recorded in local history until the present century occurred on February 17th, 1647. It originated in a house on Bristol Bridge occupied by an apothecary, named Edwards, and owing to the dwellings there being chiefly constructed of timber, the flames rapidly spread. About twenty-four houses lining the narrow thoroughfare between the relics of St. Mary's chapel and the northern end of the Bridge were consumed in a few hours. The tradesmen on the Bridge were regarded as amongst the wealthiest in the city, and some of the stocks destroyed were of great value. A London news-sheet stated that the flames were prevented from spreading further only by the pulling down of a number of dwellings. Such was the fruit, added the writer, of “paper or wooden buildings, which no loss will make to be laid aside”. The city was then destitute of a fire-engine, and it is improbable that such an apparatus would have been of much avail. At a meeting of the Council on the 26th it was ordered that, to repay the charges of quenching the flames, and also for erecting walls or rails for the protection of passengers, a rate should be levied on householders. Subsequently it was determined to send to London for a fire-engine, for which £31 10s. were paid, with £8 8s. more for forty-eight buckets. A further resolution required every member of the Council to keep six buckets in his house, and the magistrates were

1647]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.217

desired to fix the number to be kept in each parish church and in each hall of the trade companies. The owners of the burned property found some alleviation of their own misfortune in taking advantage of that of a great nobleman. As has been already noted, Raglan Castle, the princely seat of the aged Marquis of Worcester, was captured by the Parliamentary forces in August, 1646; and some months later, when the extensive building had been pulled to pieces, the timber, with the lead roofings, was removed to Monmouth, and sold in lots by auction, realizing only trivial prices. Much of the material was purchased by Bristolians, floated down the Wye and Severn on rafts, and made use of in the work of reconstruction.

Moved by the appeals made by the inhabitants of the city and district for relief from military imposts, the House of Commons, in March, 1647, ordered that the garrison of the Castle and Great Fort should be reduced to 260 men, and that the town should be disgarrisoned, and the outer ramparts and minor forts “slighted”. The Corporation lent no assistance in carrying out the work of demolition, and how it was effected is matter of conjecture. Probably the owners of the ground occupied by the wall and trench were allowed to resume possession of their property, and to restore it to its original condition. The levelling was executed so thoroughly that a hundred years later the precise course of the line between Stokes Croft and Lawford's Gate could no longer be traced. Several of the cannon from the forts and redoubts were stored in the Guildhall in January, 1648.

An Ordinance of the Corporation for the benefit of the Whitawers', Glovers' and Pointmakers' Company was issued in April. After reciting that the fines and forfeitures imposed by the Company for breaches of their laws had been previously recovered from offenders either by distraint or imprisonment, the document states that those processes often led to affrays and bloodshed, and sometimes to far worse misdemeanours. For remedy whereof it was ordered that the penalties should thenceforth be recovered by actions raised in the Mayor's Court, and the proceeds applied to works of charity. This suppression of brutality on the part of petty officials worked so satisfactorily that other trades applied for, and were granted, a similar recourse to a legal tribunal.

A corporate lease granted on April 14th to John Elliott, of Barton Regis, preserves the only record of the first place

218THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1647

of detention for offenders in the Gloucestershire portion of St. Philip's parish. The document demises “a splot or rag of ground near Lawford's Gate, behind the place where the Cage theretofore stood”. The Cage had doubtless been destroyed during the Civil War, and it was not replaced by a permanent prison until early in the following century.

A new office was created by the Court of Aldermen in June, a man styled a Warner being appointed to bring up intelligence from Avonmouth of the arrival of vessels. The appointment gave much offence to the pilots, who had previously fulfilled this duty in a perfunctory manner, and they often thwarted the new official by giving him false information as to the names of the ships. Threats of dismissal at length put an end to misconduct, and the Warner was a useful public servant until the introduction of steam-tugs.

The Common Council, in August, approved of a charter of incorporation for the Mercers' Company. This fraternity, though one of the latest, was for some time one of the most influential, of the trading societies, some of its members attaining high office in the Corporation. The first Master was John Young, Sheriff in the previous year. A “hall” was rented in St. Thomas's Lane, but the Company afterwards removed to Nicholas Street. Like many of the city fraternities, this incorporation seems to have died out in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

In September, 1647, a deputation of Bristolians carried to the House of Commons a petition, purporting to be signed by “many thousand hands”, praying for a variety of reforms. The petitioners asked, amongst other things, for such a settlement of peace as would prevent another war, for the redress of army grievances, the preservation of popular rights, the expulsion of incapable members from the House and from seats of justice, for tenderness in imposing the Covenant upon pious consciences, and for the restoration of the old supporters of the King to the privileges of Englishmen. The document evidently proceeded from persons opposed to the dominant Presbyterians, and sympathising with the new sect of Independents represented by Cromwell and the army; but it was possibly signed by many Royalists. After the petition had been read, the deputation were called in, and informed by the Speaker that the House did not approve of some of their requests, but thanked them for their good affections.

An entry in the corporate Bargain Book, dated

1647-48]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.219

November, 1647, affords some information respecting Tower Harritz, a building frequently mentioned in the city annals, but of which little is known. The record shows that the tower had lost its roof during the siege of 1646, probably from fire, and that a neighbouring dwelling-house had been burned down. In consideration of one Puxton covenanting to rebuild the house, the Corporation granted him the property for thirty years at a rent of £5. A sluice that, previous to the war, had been used to let water into and out of the moat in front of the town wall was to be repaired by the Chamber, so that masts might be left there according to ancient custom; and Puxton was allowed to put a roof on the tower, and to build against it if he pleased.

Some local histories assert that on November 23rd Parliament was informed that the garrison had mutinied, and had seized and threatened to keep in prison an alderman until they should receive a month's pay; that the Corporation protested against the outrage, and that the Houses ordered the immediate discharge of the captive. The story was probably copied from one of the mendacious pamphlets of the time. No mention of such an incident occurs in the Journals of the two Houses or in the minutes of the Common Council.

The Parliament, on December 30th, issued an order for the payment out of the Excise to one of the wealthiest of Bristolians, Alderman Aldworth, M.P., of £3,961, advanced by him for the service of the State, chiefly whilst Fiennes was Governor of the city, together with £1,313 interest.

Continuous symptoms of reviving prosperity are noticeable in the corporate account-books. At Christmas, the waits, rarely mentioned for several years, were furnished with new liveries at a cost of £4 16s. The Chamber was still paying 8 per cent, for money borrowed, but in January, 1648, Sir Robert Poyntz, of Iron Acton, advanced £800 at 5 per cent., and two pressing creditors were paid off. In the following month £80 were paid to Aldermen Aldworth and Hodges, on account, for their services in Parliament; and soon afterwards several long-outstanding debts for presents of wine and other matters were discharged. Owing to the distractions of the war it had been impossible to collect the rentals of various charity estates; but in February a sum of £480 was received from London as the recoverable instalment of rents arising from Dr. White's benefactions. For several years the Corporation suspended the payment of the

220THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1648

£104 per annum devised by Sir Thomas White to various English boroughs in rotation, alleging that the income from his estate had been entirely lost. The account-book of the charity preserved in the Council House proves that this assertion was wholly unfounded, but allowance must be made for the extreme penury to which the civic body had been reduced by military exactions.

The spring of 1648 was memorable for the outbreak of the second Civil War, brought about by the King's intrigues with the Scotch Presbyterians, and the drifting of many conspicuous members of Parliament towards the royal cause through fear and detestation of the Republican party. On May 1st letters from Bristol were received at Westminster, announcing that divers persons in the city were enlisting soldiers for the King, and that the garrison showed coldness in suppressing these proceedings. The Journals of the two Houses are strangely imperfect about this time, but their defects are partially supplied by documents amongst the State Papers. From these it appears that on the receipt of the above intelligence a committee of the two Houses directed the Gloucestershire committee to send forty barrels of gunpowder to Bristol. Orders were also given that £5,000, then lying in the city for transport to Ireland, should be instantly removed to a ship of war lying in Kingroad, until it could be safely despatched; and an order was sent to the Lord General Fairfax, pointing out the peril to the whole kingdom if the “malignants” should recover power in Bristol “now that there is so great a distemper among the people”, and requesting that 600 foot and 100 horse be sent under a faithful commander to secure the place. Whitelock records in his well-known “Memorials” that on May 2nd a sum of £6,000 was voted “for Bristol”, for what service he does not state. On May 10th the Commons passed an order for charging £500 on the Excise for reparations and provisions at Bristol, and Mr. Aldworth was directed to take it up to the Lords, by whom it was at once approved. Whitelock says the money was required “for fortifying Bristol in some new places”. On July 1st the Houses resolved that £1,000 should be advanced to the city for the repair of the Great Fort, and for furnishing that place and the Castle with provisions and ammunition, showing that great anxiety still prevailed. The money was to be raised out of the estates of local “delinquents”. An Ordinance for re-organizing the militia and raising forces for the better defence of the city was passed about

1648]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.221

the same time. Having regard to these panic-stricken arrangements, it is surprising to find that the Corporation, although unquestionably in sympathy with the then predominant party in Parliament, seem to have treated the alleged peril with almost perfect unconcern. On July 14th the Council ordered that £200 should be levied on the ablest inhabitants, by way of loan, for equipping the trained bands and auxiliaries, it being added that the money would be repaid in a short time by virtue of the Ordinance for charging the outlay upon the Excise. And this is practically the only local reference to the scare at Westminster.

The chief subject occupying corporate attention during the year was the famishing condition of the poor, resulting from a succession of bad harvests. It was resolved that a quantity of wheat and other grain should be stored in the Old Jewry (in Bell Lane), and sold in retail at the rate of 8s. 10d. per bushel for wheat, 6s. 8d. for rye, and 4s. for barley, the loss on the transactions to be borne by the Chamber. If reliance can be placed on the statement of a contemporary annalist, the above prices were greatly below the market rates, which are given at 96s. per quarter for wheat, 80s. for rye, and 64s. for barley. When it is remembered that the ordinary wages of artizans were then only one shilling per day, the general misery may be faintly conceived, butter, says the same authority, sold at 7d. per pound, nearly three times its normal value, a fact which perhaps prevented the Council from indulging in one of its favourite traffics. A little later in the year, a contribution of from 7s. to 10s. was required from each member of the Council to provide the poor with coal; and in December, bread being still at famine price, a generous subscription was made for the purchase of peas to relieve the starving.

After the use of the Book of Common Prayer, either in churches or private houses, was prohibited by Parliament in 1647, the usual liturgical services in the cathedral were suspended; though, as has been already shown, the members of the Corporation retained their seats in the building, occasionally went in state to hear a sermon, and made a donation to the preacher. Desirous that a service in conformity with their views should be permanently established, the Council, in August, sent a petition to Parliament, praying that steps might be taken for maintaining a preacher in the cathedral by an allowance out of the capitular estates; and a second petition, practically to the

222THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1648

same effect, was forwarded in September. Though, the Houses took no action on either memorial, the above facts are sufficient to disprove the reckless assertions made in Tovey's “Life of Colston”, that the sacred edifice, on the departure of Prince Rupert, was converted into a military stable, and polluted to the vilest purposes. On October 2nd the House of Commons directed the members for Bristol to draw up an Ordinance for levying a rate on the inhabitants for the maintenance of their ministers, whilst a committee was ordered to grant an augmentation of the ministers' stipends out of the revenues of the Dean and Chapter. The collapse of Presbyterianism, brought about soon afterwards by “Fride's Purge”, seems to have prevented either of these proposals from taking effect. In the meantime, as well as afterwards, the Corporation continued their state visits to the cathedral. A Mr. Paul was paid 20s. for preaching a sermon there on Guy Fawkes Day. The audit books for 1649-50 and 1660-1 nave been lost; but the accounts for 1651-2 contain the usual quarterly payments for looking after the corporate seats, while a further item occurs for repairs, indicating that Sunday sermons were then re- established, if they had ever been discontinued.

The Revenue Commissioners presented a report to the House of Commons in August, upon the petition of Robert Cann and the Merchants' Company of Bristol, complaining that merchandise to the value of £2,815 had been taken out of their ships at Scilly to supply the Parliamentary garrison, and praying for relief. The House ordered that the above amount should be paid “out of money due for the two subsidies of 1641, and in the collector's hands concealed”. As no further complaint appears in the records, the money seems to have been forthcoming. The Merchant Venturers applied about the same time to the Houses for the loan of a frigate to protect the commerce of the Bristol Channel, then infested with “Irish rebels” - that is, with privateers sent out by the Royalists. The request was granted, but owing to further heavy losses sustained from those raiders, the Society's intention to man and equip the frigate could not be carried out, and Bristol vessels were stated to be unsafe even in Kingroad. An increased Parliamentary fleet on the Irish coast probably put an end to the grievance.

The English colonies in North America and the West Indies were still in their infancy at this period, but the planters and settlers seem to have already acquired a

1648-49]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.223

yearning for forced labour. On Cromwell's victory over the Scotch Royalists in Lancashire, in August, several thousands of the invaders were captured, whereupon, says the Commons' Journal for September 4th, “the gentlemen of Bristol applied to have liberty to transport 500 of the prisoners to the plantations”, and their request was at once granted. Owing to the Custom House records having perished, all details as to this remarkable shipment - the first of its kind - have disappeared. After the battle of Worcester, in 1651, a great number of the defeated Scotch were brought to Bristol, not only from the scene of that fight, but from Chester, Stafford, Ludlow, and other places, some local merchants having undertaken with the Government to transport them to the colonies, where they were sold into slavery. Great delay occurred before the captives were shipped, and many perished through sickness. In July, 1652, again, the Council of State ordered the Governor of Waterford to deliver to Robert Cann, Robert Yate, and Thomas Speed, three wealthy Bristol merchants, as many Irish rebel prisoners as they might choose to embark in their ships, bound for the West Indies; and three months later Thomas Speed, who became a Quaker, was granted 200 more of the rebels for shipment to Barbadoes. The above facts are obtained from the State Papers, which contain many other documents relating to this abominable traffic.

On the annual civic elections day, in September, John Bush, Common Councillor, gave a bond for the payment of £100 in consideration of being relieved from his office. In a fit of economy the Council passed an ordinance reducing the Mayor's salary from £104 to half that sum. A twelve-month later it was resolved that the chief magistrate should have £104 notwithstanding the ordinance, and this payment continued until 1658, when another lurch towards frugality took place, it being determined that the existing Mayor, and he only, should have £104. But the salary was again raised two years later.

At a meeting of the Council on January 3rd, 1649, the members for the city were “requested to put Parliament in mind of the destruction of [blank] Forest, and to desire a restraint for the preservation thereof”. The obscurity of the minute is cleared up by a letter amongst the State Papers, dated March 26th, addressed by the Council of State to the Governor of Chepstow Castle, intimating that, in consequence of the complaints of the Corporation of Bristol as to the great waste of timber in the Forest of Dean,

224THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1649

directions had been given to the members for that city and other Bristolians to take measures for its preservation, and requesting the Governor to lend them his assistance. It is somewhat surprising that the Corporation should have directed their energies so far afield when the wholesale destruction of Kingswood Chase was going on almost under their eyes; the ravages of the labouring population on the deer and the woods being winked at, and not improbably encouraged, by neighbouring landowners, whose dubious claims to the soil were much furthered by the depredations on the old rights of the Crown. An obscure minute of June, 1652, shows that the Council had tardily discovered how deeply the citizens were interested in the valuable coalfield, but the negotiation for a lease then contemplated with the Government appears to have fallen still-born.

The Chapel of “the Assumption of the Virgin” on Bristol Bridge was purchased by the Corporation from the Government of Edward VI. soon after the suppression of the Chantries, and was subsequently assigned to a tradesman, subject to a small ground-rent, and converted into dwelling-houses and shops. The buildings extended over the centre and both sides of the bridge, there being a gateway in the middle similar to the still existing arch under the tower of St. John's church. Having sustained much damage from the great fire of February, 1647, and threatening peril to the public, the state of the fabric was represented to the owner by the Corporation, with the result set forth in the following minute of a Council meeting held on February 13th, 1649:- “Walter Stephens hath now promised to conform to the order of the Mayor and justices, and will either pull down or forthwith repair the arch hanging over the highway leading over the Bridge, which is very dangerous to all people travelling that way”. Mr. Stephens, who was Sheriff in 1646-6, was a draper, and was not only the owner but the occupier of the building. The ancient portal, which must have been a great impediment to traffic, was removed shortly afterwards. The matter is characteristically recorded in Tovey's “Life of Colston”, where it is antedated six years, and where Stephens, styled an “ obstinate visionary”, is pictured as inciting a “mob” to destroy a sacred building.

A letter of the Council of State to the Mayor, dated April 13th, 1649, a copy of which is preserved amongst the State Papers, introduces the reader to a man who played a notable part in local affairs for many years, and whose

1649]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.225

virulence towards political opponents is displayed on his first appearance. The Council state that the captain of the President frigate had reported an insult to him and the owners of the ship, and therein an insufferable affront to the authority of Parliament, offered by John Knight, who had called them “Parliament dogs” and “Parliament rogues”, and other like terms, his insolent speeches being approved by many others. The Mayor's conduct in refusing to take into his custody a vessel captured by the President is also noted. The Commonwealth, add the Council, cannot be preserved in peace if such attempts upon its authority go unpunished. The Mayor is therefore to call Knight before him, and to see that he is punished as his offence deserves. His worship is also to take charge of prizes, and to preserve authority by punishing disaffection. The Mayor thus admonished was William Cann, who had earned a dubious fame a few weeks earlier by formally proclaiming at the High Cross the abolition of the monarchy.

General Skippon's military duties with the army frequently required his absence from the city, and though no record exists of his removal from the office of Governor, he appears to have relinquished it. In March, 1647, Colonel Charles Dowly was appointed by Parliament Governor of the Great Fort and Castle, but his name does not occur after June of the same year. In July, 1649, the Council of State apprised Colonel John Haggett by letter that, for the better security of Bristol, the government of the place was committed to his care, and that, as security against danger, a regiment was to be enlisted there under his command, while £500 would be remitted for repair of the defences. But in the State Papers for January, 1660, only six months later, is a communication of Colonel Adrian Scrope, “Governor of Bristol”, and in the following June £1,000 were forwarded to that officer to repair the fortifications. Scrope, who was a member of the tribunal which passed sentence of death on Charles I., and who was executed as a regicide after the Restoration, was presented with the freedom in 1652. His son was subsequently an eminent local merchant, and his grandson, John Scrope, for some time Recorder and M.P. for Bristol, was long one of Walpole's trustiest lieutenants, holding the office of Secretary of the Treasury for upwards of a quarter of a century.

Oliver Cromwell, then Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, arrived on July 14th, to embark for Dublin on his memorable campaign. The future Protector travelled in great state, his

226THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1649

carriage, drawn by six horses, being followed by the chief members of his retinue in several coaches, and guarded by a fine body of life guards. The journey from London occupied four days. On his arrival, says one of the news-sheets of the following week, “he was royally entertained by the soldiers and officers in arms, and others who held offices by order of Parliament. The citizens also expressed much joy, and entertained him with great respect”. At a meeting of the Council on the 10th, it was “thought meet that convenient lodging should be provided” for the visitor, and the house of Alderman Jackson was selected “for his entertainment at the city's charge”. The two following items, although not paid until 1652, doubtless refer to the matter:- “Paid Mr. Mayor (Jackson) for entertaining the Lord General, £10. Paid for a butt of sack given to the Lord General, £20”. At another meeting, held before the great soldier's departure, the Council, on his recommendation, admitted a chirurgeon, named Allen, to the freedom without a fine, but the favoured intruder had to promise to keep no open shop until he had compounded with the Barber Surgeons' Company.

At the meeting on July 23rd just referred to. Alderman Aldworth, M.P., had a gratifying announcement to make to the Council. From the minutes it appears that in Aldworth's mayoralty, 1642-3, when Governor Fiennes and his friends were at their wits' end for means to hurry forward the fortifications and prepare for the approaching siege, the Corporation advanced upwards of £3,000 out of the “orphans' money” confided to them, on a pledge of repayment by Parliament. This loan, by Aldworth's exertions, had been at length recovered, and he was cordially thanked for his services. Little suspecting that the sum thus recovered from the frying-pan was about to be thrown into the fire, the Council desired the Alderman “to procure some convenient purchase of Dean and Chapter lands” for investment of the money. Negotiations were accordingly entered into with the commissioners appointed to dispose of capitular estates, and the manors of Blacksworth, West Hatch, and Torleton (formerly belonging to the Bristol Chapter), and the prebend of Henstridge in Wells Cathedral, were purchased by the Corporation in March, 1650, for £3,838. The estates were recovered after the Restoration by the revived Deans and Chapters; but the Corporation lost only about one half of the amount invested, the sum of £1,275 having been saved by a fortunate sale of Torleton,

1649-50]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.227

while the Henstridge estate was disposed of for £600 to William Carent, Esq., of Somerset.

An interesting reference to buildings still in existence - the porch of St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the adjoining house - occurs at this time in the corporate Bargain Books. On July 4th a lease for lives was granted to Arthur Farmer, brewer (Mayor, 1657-8), at a rent of 42s., of a corner tenement, and also of “two upper rooms lying over the porch leading into the Free School, situate in Horse Street”. It seems probable that the tenement and rooms had then been recently erected. A relic of the city defences disappeared about the same date, the Chamberlain disbursing 30s. “for making up the way at Temple Gate, where the false drawbridge did stand”.

An aspiration for greater comfort and dignity is betrayed by another item of expenditure. Up to this time the only seats in the Council Chamber consisted of long wooden benches, but in September an “upholster” was paid £5 5s. for “twelve Russian [leather] chairs”, doubtless for the accommodation of the aldermen. (Chairs were then an almost unknown luxury in private families. In the will of a wealthy draper named Kerswell, dated in July, 1642, mention is made with evident pride of two unusual articles of property, a library of books and “two chairs”.) The corporate furniture appears to have been of a substantial character, for there is no record of its renewal until 1700, when a new set of chairs cost £10.

Owing to the House of Commons sitting in permanence, the charge on the Corporation for the “wages” of the city members became very onerous. In January, 1650, the Council, at the request of Mr. Hodges, M.P., whose salary was “divers years” in arrear, ordered that £300 be paid to him on account. A suggestion seems to have been made that the future salary should be reduced, but the Council adjourned it for further consideration, and the proposal was not revived.

The distressed condition of the parochial clergy of the city at this period was noticed and explained at page 208. In February, 1650, a Bill promoted by some of the unfortunate gentlemen, apparently with the tacit approval of the Corporation, and styled a Bill for the more frequent preaching of the Gospel and the better maintenance of the ministers in Bristol, was brought into the House of Commons, and became law in the following month. Its provisions were of an extraordinary character, a yearly rate

228THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1650

being imposed of 1s. 6d. in the pound upon real property, and of 5s. per cent, upon merchandise and stock in every branch of trade, whilst several parishes were to be united with others so as to increase the incomes of certain favoured ministers. A number of leading Presbyterians were nominated in the Act as commissioners to carry out its provisions. But the measure aroused a storm for which the promoters were unprepared. A protest, signed by upwards of 400 free burgesses, chiefly adherents of the silenced Church of England, but joined by some zealous Independents and Baptists, declared that the provisions of the Act were in contravention of the city's great charter, granted by Edward III,, and a gross violation of the privileges and franchises of the burgesses, who could not submit to such a burden without breaking their oaths. Confronted by this opposition, the authorities refrained from exercising their powers, either as regarded the levying of rates or the consolidation of parishes. It will be seen hereafter that another statute of a similar character was obtained in 1657.

The Plague again visited the city in the summer of 1650. The Council, in June, ordered a rate to be levied on householders to defray the charges already incurred, and a day was appointed for a “private Fast”. No further reference to the subject occurs until 1651, when the alarm was so serious that the Corporation hired the “Little Park” (in the neighbourhood of Brandon Hill), where a number of huts were built for the reception of the infected. Precautions were still being taken in March, 1652, when the guards stationed at the gates to keep out suspicious strangers were ordered to remain on duty; and in the following November stringent provisions were issued against the introduction of goods from infected localities until they had been aired to the satisfaction of the justices.

Under an outward show of submission to the new Government there was much inward dissatisfaction, evinced to some extent by an unwillingness to accept or retain public offices. In September, 1650, three members of the Council prayed for dismissal from the Chamber on various pretexts. Robert Blackborow, whose turn had come for the shrievalty, pleaded infirmity, and was allowed to depart on paying £100, of which £20 were returned in consideration of prompt payment. William Pynney urged losses in trade, and was let off on a fine of £100, afterwards reduced to £50. Thomas Woodward, one of the signers of the Protest mentioned above, escaped on payment of £50.

1650]IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.229

Woodward's seat remained vacant for two years, and the Council thought it advisable to revive the ordinance of 1635, threatening to fine, at their discretion, any one refusing to accept office, but exempting those able to swear that they were not worth 2,000 marks. For reasons now unknown, the Council of State suspected the fidelity of the dignitaries elected about this time in Bristol and other towns, and requested the House of Commons to take steps to prevent danger to the Commonwealth arising from the appointment of “very disaffected” persons as magistrates.

The local elections mentioned above brought trouble to Constant Jessop, a Presbyterian minister, who seems to have been intruded into St. Nicholas's church on the expulsion of the vicar, the Rev. Richard Towgood. At a service on the election of the Mayor (Hugh Browne), Mr. Jessop preached a sermon that gave anything but satisfaction to some of his hearers. The fact was, that rigid Presbyterians of the minister's stamp, who were as intolerant of dissent from their doctrines as Laud had been towards all sectaries, were irritated by the laxity of the Government in maintaining the Solemn League and Covenant, and their pulpit discourses became so troublesome that Parliament was applied to for an Act to repress seditious preaching. Complaint as to Jessop's sermon was sent up by “the well-affected” - meaning the adherents of other sects - to the Council of State, and the minister was summoned to London to explain his language. As was to be expected, the reverend gentleman, whilst admitting some of the allegations against him, refused to retract anything, whereupon the Government insisted on his promising obedience to Parliament, and making an apology in the pulpit for the scandal he had provoked. Mr. Jessop refusing, of course, to comply, he was forbidden to exercise his ministry in Bristol, or to come within ten miles of the city. In February, 1652, on his petition, the Council of State allowed him to pay a two months' visit to his former quarters, and he clearly took advantage of the concession to denounce the liberty granted to “schismatics”. On May 20th the Government, in a letter to the Governor of Bristol, observed that it was not intended, in permitting Jessop's sojourn, that he should stir up former factions; and on a warning being given him, he departed. In September, however, he obtained a license to return for a fortnight, to remove some goods; and in 1654 the Government's interdiction was withdrawn, and he became free to preach if he pleased. In the same year,

230THE ANNALS OF BRISTOL[1651

“upon the petition of the inhabitants”, the Corporation appointed him to the living of St. Philip's, but he held it only for a few months.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in August & September 2013.

This is a Genealogy Website
URL of this page: http://texts.wishful-thinking.org.uk/Latimer1700/Annals1631.html
Logo by courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library