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


IN despite of the splendour of the national history during the later years of Queen Elizabeth, there are many indications that, at the opening of the seventeenth century, the commerce and industry of Bristol were passing through a period of depression. The series of victories that followed the destruction of the Armada and broke the power of Spain, though ultimately promoting a great development of foreign trade, gravely affected a port whose prosperity had been long based on its extensive transactions with the Peninsula. In a petition to the Crown forwarded by the Corporation in 1595, it was stated that, before the quarrel with Philip II., some thirty “tall” barks belonging to Bristolians were engaged in this traffic, but that, through the war, this fleet had been reduced to “eight or ten small ships”, and the owners and merchants were “undone”. A large business had also been carried on with Ireland, but in 1600 the island had been in revolt for several years, and commerce was at an end. In the Middle Ages the shipping of Bristol had been very little inferior in number to that of London. But when the Government were making preparations to resist the Armada, and obtained returns from each port as to the strength of the mercantile marine, London was found to have 62 ships exceeding 100 tons burden and 23 of between 80 and 100 tons, while the three Western ports of Bristol, Bridgwater and Minehead put together could muster only nine vessels of the larger and one of the smaller class. The decline had been much aggravated by the impolitic policy of the Crown, which had diverted foreign trade into the hands of confederacies in the capital by the concession of chartered monopolies. The Muscovy Company debarred all outside their pale from traffic with Russia;


the Eastland Company enjoyed exclusive dealings with the Baltic; the Levant Company permitted no private competition in Turkey, Greece and Asia Minor, while the East India Company were supreme in China and Hindostan. Hemmed in by so many barriers, the Merchant Venturers of Bristol, who had previously been flourishing, had allowed their privileges to lapse, and many members were driven to seek for admission into the Spanish Company of London to preserve the little business that remained to them. Other causes led to the decline of the once prosperous clothing trade of the city. The quality of west-country wool is said to have deteriorated after the inclosure of the commons, but perhaps the main cause of decay was the fondness of Elizabeth and her gay courtiers for the light and gaudy mercery produced in distant looms. The Government, again, insisted upon “regulating” domestic industries, more to the injury than the benefit of those concerned. In 1601 the Statute of Apprentices, fixing the number to be employed by each master, the rate of wages, and the hours of work, and debarring men from exercising any trade to which they had not been bound for seven years, was made more stringent; whilst a system of granting “monopolies”, by which the right of making and selling a number of articles of the first necessity was established for the benefit of royal nominees, who sold their rights to the highest bidder, inflicted much injury on the public at large. From these and other causes, the price of commodities had greatly increased; but the profits were enjoyed by a limited class, whilst wages, as represented by the cost of necessaries, had largely diminished, and the working community, as a consequence, were in a much worse condition than they had been in a century earlier. To take a single illustration, the price of sugar had been raised through a monopoly from the old rate of fourpence to half a crown per pound, a sum equal to an artisan's wages for two days and a half. The consequences of such a policy were seen in the demoralizing Poor Law Act of 1601.

English labour being chiefly devoted to agriculture, the population of even the most important provincial towns was, as compared with the present time, exceedingly small. Weston-super-Mare is a mere village in modern eyes, yet its inhabitants are more numerous than any English city could boast of in 1600, with the sole exception of London. The population of Bristol, one of the largest centres, has been estimated at 15,000, but there is reason to believe that the figures are in excess of the truth. Except a handful of


merchants, whose wealth was probably inferior to that of the Canynges, Shipwards and Sturmys of an earlier age, but who nevertheless lived in mansions regarded as sumptuous, the citizens dwelt in small timber-framed houses, generally of two stories and a garret, having their gables projecting over the street. Many of these have been swept away within living memory, but a typical specimen still stands in Temple Street (No. 115), bearing the date of 1587 upon its door-jamb. The general aspect of the town, apart from the church towers, must have been that of a mass of cottages, crushed together in dark, narrow and ill-paved thoroughfares, of which the Maryleport Street of forty years ago was a much-improved type. In these defiles, the inhabitants, mostly of humble means, toiled at their respective trades, trafficking in little but the common necessaries of life. The insanitary condition of the community is sufficiently proved by the repeated ravages of the Plague to be noted hereafter. The average brevity of life is attested by the wills enrolled at the Council House, numerous testators speaking of their offspring as infants, and anticipating a posthumous addition to the family. Of comfort in the modern sense there are few indications. The thatched hovels of the working classes, and even of petty traders, were destitute of glass windows - always specifically mentioned, when in existence, in the conveyance of a house; the floors of the living rooms were of stone, generally covered with soddened rushes; the ceilings were of open rafters; whilst the furniture embraced little more than a table and a few wooden stools, benches and trunks. Dinner was served upon wooden trenchers, unsupplied with forks; the only attainable sweetening compound was honey, and, except in plentiful seasons, household bread was made of barley, with which pease were mingled in times of dearth. Soap was so dear that the clothes of the poor were cleansed by the help of most unsavoury materials. In a word, the sordid and squalid surroundings of the bulk of the population would do offensive in the present age to the poorest agricultural labourer. Evidences of rude well-being were, of course, visible in the houses of prosperous tradesmen, who arrayed themselves in stately “gowns”, and whose wills record the possession of jewellery, valuable pieces of plate, a dinner-service of pewter, and a plentiful stock of linen, cushions and bed-curtains; but chairs were a rare luxury, and the only “carpet” was a covering for the parlour table. A handsome pair of andirons, to arrange the wooden fuel of


the family hearth, and a “great brass pan”, for cooking or brewing purposes, are frequently bequeathed with amusing solemnity; but of books, pictures, or household ornaments of any kind there is an eloquent and universal silence.

The difference between the Bristol of Elizabeth and that of Victoria is perhaps most strikingly exhibited in the habits of social life. From the time when the burgesses had purchased from Edward III. a concession of municipal privileges, amounting practically to self-government, free from the interference and exactions of the county sheriffs, and other royal officials, the object of the leading townsmen was to defend those franchises from attack by a consolidation of the community into a united whole and by a rigorous exclusion of interloping strangers. That such an arrangement could not be thoroughly carried out without some sacrifice of individual freedom of action was clearly regarded as immaterial. As a member of one great family, every one was expected to give up some amount of personal liberty for the general good. All being presumed to earn their living by industry, the mass was subdivided into industrial companies, in which every man was required to take his place according to his avocation. A youth was at liberty to choose his calling, but a choice once made was irrevocable; after a long apprenticeship he was bound to enter into his special fraternity, to obey its regulations, and to support it by his services. The laws of the various confederacies were ordained by the Corporation, which rigorously forbade the encroachment of one company on another. No shopkeeper could deal in goods made by men of other trades. No carpenter could work as a joiner. No butcher could sell cooked meat. No victualler could bake bread for sale. No one but a butcher could slaughter even a pig. Besides an infinity of such restrictions, the hours of work, the rate of wages, and the number of journeymen employed by a master were peremptorily fixed; articles made by suburban craftsmen and brought in for sale were liable to confiscation; and the introduction of “foreigners” from the rural districts to work as journeymen was interdicted under heavy penalties. The attempt of any stranger to intrude into the city with the view of establishing a business without the consent of the authorities was an unpardonable enormity, punished by speedy ejection. Perhaps the most striking outcome of the ancient principles ruling urban life was the right of supervision claimed by the Corporation over the family and property of deceased burgesses. The Mayor was recognised


as the “Father” of all the orphans in the city. On the death of the head of a family, it was the duty of the man's executors to deposit his assets in the hands of the chief magistrate and his assistants, who undertook to administer the estate until the offspring came of age, and in the meantime to provide for their education and training. Some resistance having been made against these powers, the Privy Council, in 1689, in a letter to the Mayor expressing warm approval of the custom, gave emphatic orders for its maintenance, and authorized the commitment of refractory executors to gaol, “there to remain until they effectually submit”. No effort, in short, was spared to maintain the solidarity of the community; and though in practice it must have been impossible to carry out the system in its integrity, that end was always as far as possible kept in view, and met with general approval. It will be found in subsequent pages that this old-world idea of town life, intolerable as it seems to modern eyes, had undergone no sensible relaxation (except as regards orphans) at the end of the seventeenth century.

Little is recorded in reference to the popular sports and amusements of the time. They were doubtless of the rough and often barbarous character common to the country at large, dog-tossing, cock-fighting, bull-baiting, duck-hunting, and cudgel-playing being especially in favour. Alderman Whitson, we are told, “kept his hawks”, and hawking could be enjoyed by numerous spectators. The Queen, who maintained some bears, and a pack of hounds to bait them, allowed them to travel from town to town for “ entertainments”; and “Harry the bearward” was always welcomed, and rewarded by the Corporation. Many times a year the civic dignitaries were enlivened by companies of peripatetic comedians, the party called the Queen's players being frequent visitors. In John Hort's mayoralty, 1599-1600, six bands of actors, described respectively as the players of Lord Howard, Lord Morley, Lord Pembroke, the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Chandos and Lord Cromwell, received donations from the civic purse for their personations, though in two cases the gift was limited to ten shillings. It may be assumed that the entertainment given before the Mayor and Corporation on each occasion was followed by others for the inhabitants generally. It would be needless to refer further to indoor amusements but for the then rudimentary growth of a habit that was fated to enlist millions of devotees, to overspread the world, and to yield to the


Government of Queen Victoria a revenue twenty-fold greater than the total income of Elizabeth. How early the smoking of tobacco had made its way to Bristol is shown by a document dated October 9th, 1593, only about eight years after tobacco had been first landed in England, and still nearer to the time at which Sir Walter Raleigh had astonished the villagers of Iron Acton by “blowing a cloud”, in the garden of Sir Robert Poyntz. In a letter to Mayors and justices in the Western counties, the Lord Admiral Howard stated that he had been informed by Thomas Aldworth, of Bristol, merchant, that a vessel partly belonging to him had been carried off by lewd mariners, who sold her to others, and that the buyers, naming her the Tobacco Pipe, had sent her to sea as a privateer, and had had the good luck to take an Indian prize, which the justices were ordered to seize, together with the stolen ship, and deliver both to Aldworth. The Wiltshire antiquary, Aubrey, who gathered information on the subject from aged yeomen whose memories extended to the reign of James I., states that the pipes first used by the middle classes were made of a walnut-shell and a straw, but that a silver pipe was used by the gentry, who passed it round from man to man during an after-dinner carouse. The manufacture of ordinary clay pipes, however, began in Bristol at a very early date, and employed many workmen. The bowls were at first little larger than a lady's thimble. The price of tobacco was then very high. Aubrey asserts that it sold for its weight in silver, and that when yeomen went to Malmesbury or Chippenham market “they culled out their biggest shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco”.

A more remarkable characteristic of the closing years of Elizabeth's reign must be briefly pointed out - namely, the steady growth of Puritanism in all classes of society, and especially amongst the urban population. The sanguinary measures employed by the Spanish and French Governments to extirpate Protestantism on the Continent, their promotion of reactionary plots against the life of the Queen, and the avowed design of Philip II. to force Romanism upon the English people by dint of conquest and the Inquisition, excited a passionate religious fervour throughout the country, which by no means subsided when the peril to national liberty had passed away. At a time when literature was practically non-existent as regarded the great bulk of the nation, when political discussion in large gatherings had not been invented, and when a newspaper had not been


even dreamt of, the pulpit was the only institution by which the popular enthusiasm could be enlightened, directed and sustained. As was perhaps natural under the circumstances, preachers based their discourses on the sufferings and triumphs of the Hebrews, begirt with implacable heathen foes; and the zeal and eloquence of the clergy imparted a moral and religious impulse upon their hearers which spread in every direction, and had a profound effect on the temper and character of the people. The Queen's treatment of these phenomena displayed little of her customary tact, and had deplorable results. The Puritans of her time bore no hostility to the Established Church, and would have been conciliated by slight relaxations of the liturgy, some abatement of ritual, freedom to abstain from a few “superstitious usages”, such as bowing and kneeling, and a moderate restriction of episcopal autocracy. To such requests, approved by a great number of clergymen, the Queen angrily retorted by the institution of a permanent Ecclesiastical Commission, which forbade religious services and lecturing except in church, insisted on absolute compliance with the ritual, on pain of banishment, and punished trivial infractions of the Act of Uniformity with relentless severity. The effect of the spiritual tyranny thus wielded by the bishops was to rouse the indignation of those who sympathised with the sufferers, to raise up a crowd of malcontents, and to extend and deepen the demands for greater liberty. It will be seen in later pages that the citizens of Bristol, who had submitted to Elizabeth's intolerance in consideration for her age and her glorious career, became profoundly stirred after her death by the religious currents of the time, and that their attachment to Puritanism rapidly increased during the imbecile rule of James I.

During the rule of the Tudors, when usurpations on the liberty of the subject, arbitrary taxation, and forced loans were of frequent occurrence, it was but natural that a community like that of Bristol should endeavour to protect itself by securing a powerful “friend at Court”. Henry the Eighth's terrible minister, Thomas Cromwell, was doubtless appointed Recorder, with what was then deemed a handsome salary, for this especial purpose. After his fall, the Corporation ingeniously invented the more dignified office of Lord High Steward, in order to confer it upon the


King's brother-in-law, afterwards known as the Protector Somerset. A few years later, when the Earl of Leicester became Queen Elizabeth's “Sweet Robin”, he was speedily offered the same tribute of adulation; and after his disappearance from the scene, the office was conferred on her Majesty's greatest minister, Lord Burghley, who graciously received £4 per annum as an honorarium for the rest of his life. His portrait, executed by the Queen's Sergeant Painter, who received £3 for the work, is still in the Council House. On his death, in 1598, the Corporation, satisfied with the results of its policy, profferred the dignity to Elizabeth's last favourite, the Earl of Essex, and complimented him by setting up a costly picture of his arms in their place of meeting. His reckless ambition, however, soon warned the Council of their blunder, and in 1600, before the final catastrophe, they sought to ingratiate themselves with a new patron, the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst, afterwards Earl of Dorset, by sending him a copious present of the wine for which the city was already famous. On the 17th February, 1601, immediately after the execution of Essex, the Council ordered that a patent of the Lord Stewardship, ornamented with gold and silk and accompanied with “the accustomed fee”, should be forwarded to the Treasurer “with all convenient speed”. The Court limner was also commissioned to paint the minister's portrait, which is still to be seen. As will be shown later on, the city's need of an influential friend at the seat of government became more urgent than ever after the accession of the Stewarts.

Owing to the enormous price of foreign iron, by which the English market was chiefly supplied, some attempts were made at this period to produce the metal from local sources; but as smelting could be effected only by the use of charcoal, the enterprise was regarded with much disapproval. In December, 1600, the Corporation resolved on renewing an appeal to the Privy Council, made in the previous year, for the suppression of the “iron mills” set up at Mangotsfield by Arthur Player and others, it being alleged that the extensive destruction of the woods had raised the price of timber, to the injury of “poor craftsmen”. Another mill was alleged to be working similar havoc at “Staunton” (Stanton Drew?). The reply of the Privy Council is not recorded.

Some references in the corporate minute-books of 1600-1 to a then infant institution, Queen Elizabeth's Hospital,


cannot be fully understood without a brief glance at the events of a few previous years. John Carr, the founder of the school, was a soapboiler, having works in Bristol and at Bow, near London, and had acquired great wealth by means of a secret process of manufacture. He died in 1586, having vested his estate by will in the hands of trustees, who were directed to sell certain portions within three years for the payment of mortgages and debts, and then to retain the profits of the remainder for five years more, in order to wipe off annuities bequeathed by the testator and to provide a surplus stock. This being accomplished, a hospital was to be established for the maintenance and tuition of boys on the pattern of Christ's Hospital in London. The Corporation were appointed governors of the projected charity, Mr. Carr expressing a hope that they would provide it with a suitable building. Under the founder's scheme the hospital would not have come into existence until 1594; but the Corporation were unwilling to admit this delay. Immediately after the death of Mr. Carr, they began to make advances to liquidate his liabilities, seeking donations for this purpose from the parish vestries and private persons, induced creditors to release sums due to them, and imposed local taxes on lead and iron in aid of the object in view. The validity of the will was disputed by Carr's brother and heir-at-law, but this difficulty was also surmounted by surrendering to him the Woodspring Priory estate, remitting a debt of £666 which he owed to the testator, and making him a gift of £1,000, which was advanced by the Corporation. Having thus cleared the ground, the Common Council, in March, 1590, less than four years after Carr's death, obtained a charter from the Crown for the foundation of “Queen Elizabeth's Hospital”, as it was styled in compliment to her Majesty; the letters patent setting forth that the Corporation had “bestowed and laid out some thousands of pounds” in order that the founder's intentions should be “more quickly hastened and performed”. The school was accordingly opened in or about September, 1590, the “mansion house” of the former monks of Gaunt's Hospital being granted to it by the Council. Some charges, however, still remained on Carr's estate, while the Corporation were burdened with a debt of £3,800 borrowed to hasten the work; and to clear off these liabilities portions of the estate were sold between 1592 and 1596, producing over £5,000. The financial position being


at length deemed satisfactory, Carr's trustees, in June, 1596, transferred the estate to the Corporation, who in the following year obtained an Act of Parliament, which settled the property, together with the “mansion house”, on the charity for ever, and apparently precluded further alienations of the property. Nevertheless, in September, 1600, the Common Council, ignoring their former professions of munificence, appear to have thought themselves entitled to reclaim the money they had “bestowed” for hastening Carr's intentions, a resolution being passed that so much of the school lands should be sold as would satisfy “all debts”. The Corporation were then the only creditors of the charity, and their claim was set down at £4,000. Accordingly, by September, 1601, sales had been effected to the value of £3,856. The purchasers were members of the Corporation and their relatives or connections, and it is significant that, in violation of long-established custom, two aldermen and a councillor, who acquired a large part of the land, were not described by their titles in the conveyances. Strange to say, although the alleged liabilities were practically discharged by these alienations, a memorandum occurs in the corporate audit book of 1606, to the effect that the charity was still indebted to the civic body in “£3000 and a more sum”. But no action was taken on this statement, and in December, 1620, the Council, again posing as great benefactors, ordered that the schoolboys should wear badges distinguishing the patrons of the hospital - eight of which were to be in memory of Carr, six in honour of the Corporation, ranking the civic liberality as little less than that of the founder, and ten in commemoration of various later bequests. A further reference to the management of the institution will be found under 1700. For the later story of the alleged “debt”, reference must be made to the Annals of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.

The ruinous state of the roads leading to the city was a chronic grievance throughout the century, and somewhat extraordinary measures were sometimes taken in the vain hope of remedying the evil. At a meeting of the Council in April, 1600, it was ordered that every inhabitant “scassed” (assessed) for raising the Queen's subsidies should pay 4d. in the pound on the amount at which he was rated. (The burden was not an onerous one, for only a few magnates of the city were rated at so much as £8.) The proceeds were to be employed towards the repair of the


“decayed” highways in the city suburbs; and every householder exempt from the subsidy was required, when summoned, to personally work on the roads for one day of eight hours yearly, providing his own pickaxe and shovel. This ordinance was re-enacted in 1605, when those refusing to pay or work were ordered to be imprisoned until they submitted. The cleansing of the streets was another endless difficulty. The Corporation appointed a Raker, whose wages, collected from householders, were fixed at ten shillings a week, horse hire included. Efficient scavenging was, of course, impossible under these conditions, and as if to make matters worse, many of the inhabitants, in spite of corporate interdicts, obstinately threw their household refuse into streets that were always rank with the garbage of the open markets. Some even refused to contribute towards the Raker's humble salary, and the Council were compelled to order in 1606 that defaulters should be committed to gaol till the money was forthcoming. The work of paving the streets was thrown upon householders, who were required to repair the pavement in front of their premises, as far as the central gutter that ran along each thoroughfare. Shortly before the beginning of the century, the Corporation munificently rewarded a new Pitcher with the sum of twenty shillings “for taking up his abode here until he pitches all the streets, and will take not above three-halfpence a yard to do his work well”. By a vote of May, 1602, the Mayor and Aldermen were directed to set this official to work when and where they thought fit, and his charges were ordered to be levied on the occupants of the adjoining houses, who were to be imprisoned in default of payment.

The Corporation, at the period under review, possessed a singular source of income - namely, the profits arising from the issue of copper tokens called farthings - a fact that has been somewhat overlooked by local historians. The story of Bristol farthings begins in the last quarter of the previous century, but a retrospective glance may be permitted to show the extent of the operations. In December, 1577, the Corporation, through their Recorder, Thomas Hannam, represented to the Privy Council that great abuses had arisen in the city through the stamping and uttering of farthing tokens by innholders, bakers, brewers, and other victuallers, who refused to receive them again from the public, alleging that many had been counterfeited; for remedy whereof, and for the benefit of the poor, the Recorder recommended the use of a general stamp, by which he meant a die


belonging solely to the Corporation. The Privy Council, to use their own language, “very well allow this, commend the providence of the citizens, and notify their contentment that the use of these farthings shall continue, provided the quantity do not exceed the [yearly] value of £30, and that they may be made current only within the city”. The first issue was accordingly made in 1578, when the Corporation obtained the services of a goldsmith, who provided the metal and struck the pieces, receiving one third of the nominal value for his trouble. The city Chamberlain, as the treasurer was then styled, thereupon got rid of the tokens at their full value by paying them as wages to the corporate workmen and others, a clear profit being made of £20. A similar issue was made in 1580, in 1581, and in 1583 (when a new mould cost 6s. 8d. extra), and probably in 1582 and 1584, the audit books of which years are missing. In course of time the excessive profit derived from the tokens - a shilling's worth of copper producing a pound's worth of farthings - excited the cupidity of knavish persons, and large counterfeit issues made their appearance to the serious loss of the community. In 1587 one Gallwey, a butcher, was convicted of coining, and was fined £5; but his detection failed to deter similar rogues, and in the same year, by a vote of the Common Council, the Chamberlain disbursed £13 2s. 10d. “to divers persons, as well of the city as of the country, for 12,600 false farthings” that had been palmed off by illicit coiners. In 1594 the Privy Council, in a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen, stated that it had come to their knowledge that many small tradesmen in the city had illegally stamped lead and brass farthing tokens and uttered them to their customers, but refused to accept them again in payments, whereby grievous inconvenience was caused to the poor. The Mayor and Aldermen were therefore required to suppress such proceedings, and to compel the fraudulent utterers to change the tokens for current money. Some further powers must have been obtained from the Government, for the Chamberlain's accounts for the same year show that he had obtained £40 worth of new tokens - equal to 38,400 farthings - whilst he had paid £7 for the Privy Council's warrant authorizing the issue, 3s. 4d. for a stamp, £6 for stamping, and £2 for the copper, which, deducting £2 more for himself in compensation for his trouble in paying away the tokens, left a clear gain of £22 16s. 8d. The accounts for the next two years have been lost; but it may be surmised from the


audit book of 1597 that the issues had proceeded swimmingly. The item reads:- “Received of Thomas Wall, goldsmith, in copper tokens made this year, £13 10s. [equal to 12,960 coins], whereof abated for the stuff, stamping, cutting and exchanging at 5s. per lb., £3 7s. 6d. So rests clear £10 2s. 6d”. In another corporate book is a minute stating that a new and broader stamp was cut in 1598, doubtless in preparation for a further coinage. But by that time the Corporation had so deluged the market that a crash took place in the summer, and the Chamberlain was constrained to employ Mr. Wall to buy up no less than 32,470 tokens at full price to allay the popular clamour. The transaction involved an outlay of £33 16s. 6d., wiping away about three years' profits. In 1600, however, a fresh issue took place, leaving a gain of £3; in 1601 there was a further profit of 31s. 4d., and in 1603-4 upwards of 10,000 tokens were put in circulation, though the net gain was only 29s. 5d. This appears to have been the last corporate issue of farthings previous to the Commonwealth, but curious references to local tokens will hereafter be found under 1613 and 1636. So far as is known, all the Elizabethan issues were square or diamond-shaped. There are numerous types extant, most of them bearing the arms of the city, rudely cut, and sometimes reversed, on one side, and the letters “C.B”. on the other.

Vagrancy was a social evil in England throughout the Middle Ages, and greatly increased during the reigns of the Tudors, in spite of legislative enactments. On the 5th February, 1601, the Common Council resolved that a special officer should be appointed to search for and apprehend rogues, vagrants, idle and disorderly people, and “inmates” infesting the city, and to carry out the orders of the justices concerning these offenders. A “beadle of the beggars” thereupon came into existence, and one officer proving unable to cope with the work, a second beadle was soon after elected, together with a “beadle of the rogues”, for whose use whips were provided, and a “cage” was set up in Newgate to incarcerate strollers. Irish beggars especially abounded. On one occasion 66 of these tramps were shipped off to Ireland in a drove, the Corporation disbursing a shilling a head for their passage; and in 1607 the Government, through Alderman Whitson, paid £21 18s. for the transport of others, who, if the same rate of transport continued, must have numbered several hundreds. The “ inmates” referred to above were a peculiarly unhappy class.


They were, in fact, workpeople from districts outside the city, who took lodgings in it and strove to earn a living in contravention of the orders of the civic body, in whose eyes all strangers were “foreigners”, and who took constant pains to exterminate them, lest they should gain a “ settlement” under the poor laws. Under a corporate ordinance then in force any tradesman or artificer within the city who employed a “foreigner”, even though the stranger's family lived elsewhere, was subjected to a fine of 6s. 8d. per week so long as he retained the workman, while innkeepers were mulcted in the same penalty if they harboured such intruders, except during the fairs.

The miserable stipends of the Bristol clergy during the whole of the seventeenth century will be noticed from time to time. In 1600-1 a rate, producing £44 6s. 8d., appears to have been levied on the inhabitants for the relief of the incumbents, out of which the vicar of St. Nicholas (who received only £2 13s. 4d. yearly out of the parochial estates) was to have £10, the parson of All Saints' £6, and his colleagues at St. Werburgh's and Christ Church £4 each, the remainder being doled out to the other clergy in sums of from £5 to £1. The Corporation, however, had really no power to impose a tax of this character, and evidence is wanting that the householders submitted to it. At a meeting of the Council in October, 1601, a committee was directed to consider the necessitous circumstances of two clergymen styled “city preachers”, apparently nominated by the Corporation, though, owing to the loss of most of the minute-books during Elizabeth's reign, no record exists as to their appointment, nor is there anything to show how their stipends of £40 each were raised. The committee never reported. This is an early indication of the Puritanic predilection for sermons and antipathy to the ritual of the Book of Common Prayer which rapidly increased during the reign of James I.

The granting of monopolies and licenses which crippled private manufactures and commerce was an unhappy feature of the later rule of Elizabeth. Bristol merchants, forbidden to trade with India, the Levant, and other regions, naturally sought compensation by applying for privileges of a similar character, and brief entries in the civic records for 1600 show that the Merchant Venturers' Society had made suit to the Crown for a license, overriding the statute law, giving them permission to export tanned calf-skins, that such a license was granted, by dint of


considerable outlay, in favour of the Corporation, and that it was sold for £45 to one William Lewis, Customs' Searcher, who possibly acted as agent for the merchants. But in 1601 the Queen, daunted by the protests of the House of Commons, assented to an Act for abolishing monopolies, and the above license sank with the rest. See September, 1614.

A general election took place in September, 1601, when George Snigge, Recorder and Serjeant-at-Law, and Alderman John Hopkins, then retiring from the civic chair, were elected members for Bristol. The principal event of a very brief session has just been recorded.

John Hopkins, fishmonger, mayor of the city for the year ending Michaelmas, 1601, had gained great renown in 1596 for having equipped a ship, which sailed under his own command and took part in the memorable sack of Cadiz. On his return, says a local chronicler, “he was with much joy met by the citizens on Durdham Down”, who conducted him home in triumph, and lighted “all their tallow candles and a great bonfire at the High Cross, very beautiful to behold”. In the audit book of his mayoralty there is the following somewhat obscure item:- “Paid the Mayor for the loan of four pieces of ordnance put aboard the Pleasure of Bristol in the voyage for Cales, £9 5s.”

One of the greatest troubles of the magistrates at this period arose out of the frequent arrivals of troops despatched by the Government for shipment to Ireland. When unfavourable winds prevailed, the soldiers were often detained for weeks in the city, and their chronic unruliness caused many disorders. On one or two occasions the Common Council took the singular step of erecting a gallows at the High Cross to strike terror in those disposed to run riot. In Hopkins' mayoralty upwards of 1,000 soldiers were sent to the city, and his worship's exertions to keep order were of little avail. “They were so unruly”, says a chronicler, “that the citizens could not pass the streets in quiet, especially in the night, so that many frays took place, though the soldiers had still the worst”. At last “they began to draw their weapons in the Marsh against the Mayor”; but the town bell was rung, the citizens flew to arms, and the troopers were so thoroughly beaten that they were glad to take refuge in the transport ships. “Some were sore hurt, and one was killed, and the chiefest put into prison”. Extraordinary burdens were imposed from time to time on members of the Corporation for the


victualling and shipment of these unwelcome visitors. On January 1st, 1602, the aldermen and such of the councillors as had been required to advance money for these purposes were ordered to bring in their loans. The Mayor was called on for £100; the aldermen had to find £20 each (save one who escaped for £10), and various councillors lent from £10 to £20. Those who failed to pay up were to have as many soldiers billeted upon them as the Mayor should think fit. The total sum advanced on this occasion was £670, and a second imposition of the same kind was made four months later. Occasionally the charge was much heavier, and though the loans were eventually repaid by the Government, there was always delay and the money was never recovered without a journey to London and many “tips” to Court officials. One of the Chamberlain's items during Lord Burghley's treasurership is amusing:- “Paid one of my Lord Treasurer's secretaries 10s. for his pains in examining my account, for it was very much misliked and evil taken by my Lord Treasurer, the charge was so great, being £1160 8s. 8¾d. so that two days was spent in trying of the said account, which thanks be to God could not be faulted in one half-penny”. This money was conveyed from Whitehall to London by water, but how so large a sum was brought to Bristol in safety is not stated. The Chamberlain's journey altogether occupied twelve days, and the modesty of his expenses is worthy of note. The hire of two horses for himself and servant cost 2s. a day, the man's wages were 6d. a day. and the various innkeepers' charges for food and lodging, for both the travellers and their steeds, amounted only to 6s. 8d. daily.

Another singular burden on the members of the Council was the provision of armour for the use of the city trained bands, which were mustered annually. The Corporation had a large store of muskets, calivers, corslets, etc. for this purpose: but each common councillor also furnished a corslet and a musket, while other wealthy citizens, when called on by the Mayor, were required to engage one or more soldiers for the training, and to find them coats, under a penalty of 20s. for each default. Still another anomalous charge may be noted. About this period the Corporation took up a loan of £500, and payment of the interest was imposed pro rata on the members of the Council!

In September 1601, the Corporation granted a lease for 90 years to the Merchants Company - a body then, as will presently be shown, in a decayed and almost moribund


condition - of “all those duties which usually and of right ought to be taken of all vessels arriving in the port for anchorage, cannage and plankage”. The rent reserved was £3 6s. 8d. This is the first mention in the records of cannage and plankage, and anchorage appears to have been previously an occasional tax imposed only on foreigners. It is not improbable that all the charges were now laid on citizens for the first time.

The ordinances of the Weavers' Company, revised and re-enacted by the Corporation in 1602, indicate the narrow prejudices of the age. Any citizen sending linen or woollen yarn to be woven outside the city, or who confided it to any “foreigner” living in Bristol, was to forfeit the goods and to be fined 13s. 4d. A “foreigner” desiring admission into the Company was required to show that he was worth £40, and to pay an entrance fee of £20. Youths were to be at least 17 years of age when apprenticed, and were to serve for seven years; but no one born outside the city could be apprenticed on any terms unless with the special license of the Mayor, and any master infringing the latter rule was to forfeit 40s. The trade Companies were at this time in high reputation, and it was accounted an honourable privilege to be admitted to membership. For example, it is entered on the minutes of the Tailors' Company under June 24th, 1602:- “The right worshipful William Vawer, Mayor, received Brother, and Anne, his wife, Sister, and sworne for term of their lives”. Two days later the vicar of St. Nicholas and his wife received a similar honour, the reverend gentleman having promised to preach a funeral sermon at the burial of any Master of the Company that might die during his incumbency. The Tailors were an exceptionally powerful fraternity, and in the middle of the century they demanded a fine, on the admission of a stranger, of no less than £30, a larger sum than was then imposed on “foreigners” by the Merchant Venturers' Society.

Early in 1602 a legacy of £1,000 bequeathed by a native of Bristol, Lady Mary, widow of Alderman Sir Thomas Ramsey of London, to be laid out in lands for the use of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, came into the hands of the Corporation. Shortly afterwards a large estate at Winterbourne was purchased for £1,400, half of the additional outlay being advanced by Ann, wife of Alderman Thomas Colston (a niece of John Carr, founder of the school), and the rest by the Corporation.


In spite of her advanced age, Queen Elizabeth made many gay progresses in the last few years of her reign. The corporate records show that Bristol was promised a second visit in the summer of 1602; and the authorities, in view of the heavy outlay that a fitting reception would entail, ordered a tax to be levied on the leading inhabitants at the rate of ten shillings in the pound on the amount they contributed to the royal subsidy, while three assessors were appointed for each ward to assess the less wealthy citizens “as they shall think meet”. Recalcitrants were threatened with imprisonment in Newgate until their quotas were forthcoming. The Queen, however, relinquished her intention, and died in the following March, to the deep regret of her subjects. In Bristol her birthday continued to be celebrated by several generations.

A few days after Her Majesty's demise, the accession of her successor, King James of Scotland, was proclaimed at the High Cross with as much lip-reverence as the civic fathers could muster. A trumpeter walked four times round the edifice sounding mournful strains for the late monarch, and then pranced four times about it joyfully for the new king, a picture of whom, by some imaginative artist, had been hoisted upon the Cross for the admiration of beholders. Genuine enthusiasm for the foreigner was, of course, out of the question, but his accession stirred up the Council to a display of mock loyalty, largely at the expense of other people. On May 3rd it was determined that presents from the city should be provided and sent to the King, the Queen, and the new Prince of Wales on their arrival in London, and that for such purpose a Benevolence should be extracted from the inhabitants. In the Council, John Barker, perhaps the first local merchant of the time, gave £20; Alderman Whitson, £8; two aldermen, ten marks each; sixteen other members, £5 each; and six contributed smaller sums. The remaining members seem to have declined to subscribe. Owing to the loss of the year's audit book, the amount obtained from the citizens generally is unknown, but it is unlikely to have been liberal.

Bristolians had, in fact, a subject of much greater gravity to consider than the coining of a Scottish king. The Plague made its appearance in London during the spring, and it was only too likely to spread westward. In June the Common Council issued an order that no Londoner should send wares to the great summer fair, or be admitted to lodge in


the city, unless he could produce a certificate from the Lord Mayor that his house had been free from infection during the previous six weeks. The goods of such certified persons were to be thoroughly aired for some days at a place outside Lawford's Gate, at the charge of the owners. In spite of precautions, the pestilence broke out in Marsh Street even before the fair, and a committee was appointed to dispose of infected persons and to bury the dead, the inhabitants being taxed to meet the outlay, and defaulters being threatened with imprisonment. The malady having wrought unprecedented havoc, the Corporation in September ordered every wealthy burgess to be taxed to the value of a royal subsidy, other householders being rated at one tenth of their rental for the relief of suffering families. This order was repeated in May, 1604, and the Privy Council soon afterwards issued a proclamation forbidding Londoners to resort to the fair. The scourge did not disappear until February, 1606. A chronicle in the Council House states that the total number of deaths during this visitation amounted to 2,956, probably representing about one fourth of the population.

A local adventure of historical interest marked the year 1603. The best account of it is to be found in “Purchas's Pilgrims”, volume iv., which contains a section headed:- “A voyage set out from the city of Bristol, at the charge of the chiefest merchants and inhabitants, with a small ship and a bark, for the discovery of the north part of Virginia, under the command of me, Martin Fringe”. This gallant sailor, then only twenty-three years of age, states that the voyage was undertaken through the “reasonable inducement of Richard Hakluyt, prebendary of the cathedral church”, whose fame is still high amongst geographers. The “chief furtherers” of the undertaking, he adds, were Aldermen Aldworth and Whitson, and altogether £1,000 were ventured on the enterprise. The ships under the young explorer's command would in modern days be regarded as absurdly unfitted to confront Atlantic storms. The Speedwell was of fifty tons burden, with a crew of thirty-five men. Her companion, the Discoverer, was of only twenty tons, and carried thirteen men. Pring, however, fearlessly sailed from Kingroad on March 20th, 1603, and reached the coast of Northern Virginia - the New England of later days - early in June. He remained nearly two months in or near the Bay of Massachusetts, lying for some time in a harbour to which he gave the name of


Whitson, but which was afterwards to become memorable as the Plymouth at which the Pilgrim Fathers landed seventeen years later. Having closely surveyed the coast, discovered several rivers and harbours, and loaded his ships with sassafras, then a valuable medicinal plant, Pring set sail homewards, and reached Bristol on October 2nd, when he reported the new land to be “full of God's good blessings”. It may be remarked that not a single European settlement then existed on the American continent to the north of the Spanish colonies in Mexico.

James I. had scarcely been seated on his new throne before he set up that claim of absolute power to override the privileges of Parliament and the laws of the realm which was fated to lead to an eventful struggle, and a tragical result to his successor. His first great innovation was the imposition of Customs duties on almost all kinds of merchandise, and this was followed by illegal extortions under the form of what were styled compositions for purveyance, under which merchants were compelled to pay large sums, on pain, in default, of having their wines and other goods appropriated for the royal household. As Bristol was the largest of the provincial ports, the exactions naturally excited indignation, and on April 26th, 1604, the compositions grievance was brought before the House of Commons by Mr. Thomas James, who had just been elected one of the members for the city, in conjunction with Mr. Serjeant Snigge, Recorder. Demands for a composition for groceries had been, he stated, made by the King's Customer by order of the Board of Green Cloth, but they had been resisted by the Mayor (Ald. Whitson) and other merchants, who had indicted the Customer for his illegal proceedings, and the Board had thereupon despatched an angry letter, which was read to the House. The writers sternly rebuked the Mayor for his opposition to the King's commission, alleging that it was a great contempt of the royal prerogative, and that a warrant for his appearance at Court was withheld only because of his official duties during the visitation of Plague. Nevertheless, continued the letter, he must expect to hear further respecting the audacious proceedings of himself and others, unless he gave good satisfaction to the Customer. Mr. James further complained that his own action in the matter had evoked some insolent remarks from one of the members of the Board. The House, after a debate, presented a petition to the King, detailing the gross abuses sanctioned by the Board, one of whom had


openly boasted that the Commons should have no redress. As regarded Bristol, the petition stated that large sums had been extorted from merchants, and that those who resisted payment had been carried up in custody to London, where some were committed to prison, and forced to pay great sums to pursuivants for fees. The Green Cloth authorities now found it expedient to forward to the House a lengthy answer to the charges, in which they alleged that the composition was first demanded during the previous reign, and that the Bristolians had offered no resistance until after the accession of the King, both which statements were declared in Bristol to be absolutely false. It was also contended that the Board's prohibition of the action against the Customer had prevented a great breach of the royal income from this source. Parliament was angrily prorogued by the King on July 7th, owing to the resolute attitude of the Lower House, and the abuses in Bristol were at once revived by a new warrant from Court, authorizing the collection of compositions on wines and groceries. In November the Corporation resolved that suit should be made to the Privy Council for the exemption of the city from imposts that were held to be contrary to the liberties granted to it by charter. The expenses attending this suit were characteristically evaded by the civic body, which ordered that the charge should be borne by merchants and others of ability, who were also to save harmless such persons as might be prosecuted by the Crown officials. In January, 1605, the Common Council adopted a petition to the King praying for relief from the new burdens, Alderman James being nominated to present the appeal, and £50 were voted to defray his travelling expenses and to satisfy the greedy underlings at Court. In May Alderman Whitson was despatched on a similar errand; and in August Mr. John Aldworth, who had been summoned to the Privy Council and imprisoned for refusing to pay the impost, was granted £17 11s. 4d. towards his expenses. How fruitless were the efforts of the Corporation may be judged from the fact that in the same year, when the King paid a visit to Woodstock, his purveyors made a swoop on the merchants of Bristol, and carried off fifty-one hogsheads of claret and ten butts of sack, the prices promised for which were greatly below the market value. No money being forthcoming - the wine, in fact, was not paid for until ten years afterwards - the Corporation were compelled to advance about £350 on loan to those who had been despoiled. The Council, however,


recouped themselves, as will shortly be seen, by imposing a permanent tax upon the commerce of the port.

A suspicion as to the evil consequences likely to arise if the Bakers' Company were permitted to establish a monopoly in that branch of trade seems to have long weighed on the local authorities. “Foreigners”, hateful in nearly all other occupations, were at this time allowed to bring in bread from the country, but the number of intruders was carefully limited to five. In August, 1604, an additional country baker was suffered to trade, but, as before, the “foreign” bread was admitted only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It will be seen under 1615 that the city bakers, greatly irritated at this competition, sought to set up a monopoly by the help of the Crown.

The Chamberlain's accounts for 1604 contain the following item:- “Paid for the charge of our new Charter and Commission of Piracy granted by the King, £88 9s. 2d.” About £23 more were paid to the Town Clerk and Chamberlain, who had been sent to London to bestow the obligatory “tips”, without which no business could be transacted at Court. The Charter, dated July 12th, 1604, conferred no new privileges, simply confirming the two charters granted by Elizabeth, but the Corporation always deemed it prudent, at the beginning of a new reign, to secure the rights they already possessed. The Commission of Piracy was doubtless obtained to empower the justices to try buccaneers captured outside the city, boundaries, who would otherwise have come under the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court.

From the earliest days of the House of Commons, the Corporation, according to a custom at first universal, paid “wages” to the members returned to Parliament. The amount for about three centuries was 2s. per day, and this rate was continued in Bristol until the early years of Elizabeth's reign. In 1571 it had risen to 4s. per day, and subsequently it was increased to 6s. 8d., with a small allowance for travelling expenses. In September, 1604, Alderman James received £31 10s., and George Snigge, Recorder, £30 5s., for the services they had rendered in the session already referred to. In October, 1604, Mr. Serjeant Snigge was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer, but continued to sit in the Commons until a question arose as to his qualification, his legal functions requiring frequent attendance in the Upper House. The Commons resolved that he was “not to be recalled”, and in November, 1605, Alderman John


Whitson was elected in his room, and took an active part in public business.

Sir George Snigge having announced his intention to resign the Recordership soon after his elevation to the Bench, an incident occurred characteristic of the age. The Earl of Salisbury, then all powerful at Court, wrote to the Mayor recommending a then obscure barrister, Laurence Hyde, as a fitting successor, whereupon the ancient civic ordinance requiring a Recorder to be a Bencher of one of the Inns of Court was summarily repealed, and Hyde was practically elected before Snigge had resigned. That some trickery had been employed to bring about the appointment is indicated by the proceedings of the Council a few weeks later, when it was ordered that, whenever a meeting was to be held for the election of any officer, the Mayor should, under pain of being fined £100 in default, summon every member to attend, it being further decreed that any councillor accepting a bribe, either personally or through, his wife or child, for giving his vote should forfeit £200, “unless he should first receive the consent of the Common Council to receive such bribe”. A good understanding with Mr. Baron Snigge was kept up by means of presents of wine. A butt of sack was sent to him in 1607, and another in 1609, and we shall hear of his lordship again.

It would appear that sermons were not generally preached on Sundays in the city churches. Some clergymen held two livings, and could not afford to keep curates, and others contented themselves with a liturgical service. The Corporation, which had a growing taste for sermons, were much dissatisfied, and in November, 1605, the Council directed the Mayor and Aldermen to write to the President of St. John's College, Oxford, requesting his aid in procuring a learned minister to preach a lecture twice a week in the city, at a stipend of £60. The application must have been unsuccessful, for in October, 1605, two councillors were deputed to wait upon the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford for the same purpose. No result is recorded in the minutes, but in January, 1607, the Council ordered that Mr. [Edward] Chetwynd should have a stipend paid him for the quarter ending Christmas, in consideration of his expense in removing his wife and family from Oxford. This was followed in June by another resolution, ordering that Mr. Chetwynd should preach every Sunday afternoon, and on holy days, in a church selected by the Mayor. The stipend was fixed at £52, with a house rent-free, but instead of the salary


being furnished by the Corporation, as was originally contemplated, it was determined that the money should be paid by the churchwardens out of the church estates of their parishes! Puritanical feeling peeps out in a further provision that Mr. Chetwynd was not to lecture at the Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide holidays unless he thought fit. The preacher gave satisfaction to the corporate body, and the following curious minute occurs three months later:- “This day there were committees appointed in every parish to deal with the citizens for the raising of a contribution for the maintenance of two preachers in this city, besides Mr. Chetwynd, of which two Mr. Yeomans is to be one”. Mr. Yeomans was vicar of St. Philip's, and was held in great esteem by the adherents of Puritanism. In December of the same year one Mr. Arnold was paid 6s. 8d. for “reading service and prayer in the Council House”, but the item does not occur again. Another preacher was nominated soon afterwards, with a stipend of £40, which was to be collected from the inhabitants. In Mr. G.E. Weare's library is a rare pamphlet, printed in London in 1612, with the following title:- “A Diet for a Drunkard; delivered in two sermons in St. Nicholas' Church in Bristol. By Thomas Thompson, B.D., one of the public preachers in that city”.

At an interesting and important meeting of the Common Council on December 31st, 1605, the condition of the Society of Merchant Venturers underwent grave consideration. As readers of local history are aware, this Society, which unquestionably developed out of the Merchants' Guild of Bristol, a body of immemorial antiquity, was established as an independent corporation under a charter granted by Edward VI. in 1552, confirmed by Elizabeth in 1566, with power to choose its own Master and Wardens; its members being given an exclusive right to pursue the art of merchandise within the city. The Society, however, fell into decay during the reign of Elizabeth, and seems to have been held together at the accession of James I. only by an alliance with certain merchants in London. The Common Council now resolved that the Society should exempt themselves from the control of the Londoners trading to Spain and Portugal, and that there should be established a Company of Merchant Adventurers of Bristol, to be governed amongst themselves by such orders and conditions as should be laid down by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Council according to the charters of the city. Further, that any burgess


desirous to be of the Company should, if he applied within a year, be admitted on payment of a fine of 20s., providing that he gave up other avocations and made his living solely as a merchant. Those applying at a later period were to pay such sum as was paid in London, except members of the Council, who were never to be charged more than 20s. Existing members were to pay only 6s. 8d., and the same fine was fixed for the admission, at any future time, of the sons or apprentices of members. Completely ignoring the charter of Edward VI., the Council went on to appoint Alderman John Hopkins as Master, Aldermen William Vawer and John Whitson as Wardens, and Alderman William Hicks as Treasurer of the Company. “And every man to bring in his fine before the 15th January next”. The Municipal Corporations Commissioners of 1835, after recording these facts, observed:- “It deserves to be noticed that the continuous record of the Society of Merchants begins from this same December, 1605, and refer to it as the year in which, after much debate, the Society had been re-established”. The Corporation thenceforth relinquished its assumed right to appoint the Society's officers, but the persons elected at Merchants' Hall were expected to present themselves to the Mayor and Aldermen to receive confirmation. This practice was, however, quietly dropped a few years later.

The civic rulers were almost constantly engaged in strengthening and extending the privileges of the trading companies. In 1605 the Hoopers' (Coopers') Company were granted new ordinances under which tradesmen were forbidden to buy “foreign” (that is, country-made) casks or pails to sell again, on pain of forfeiting ten shillings, while any citizen not free of the Company presuming to pack herrings, etc., in casks was liable to a penalty of 3s. 4d. per cask. In March, 1606, a new ordinance in favour of the Innholders' Company forbade butchers to cook victuals for sale either in their own houses or elsewhere. Any one save an innholder taking money for stabling horses coming to market, or taking in a horse to graze or livery, was to be fined 1s. in the former case, and 6s. 8d. in the latter. The ordinance of the Joiners' Company, issued in the same year, imposed a heavy fine on persons bringing in joinery work from outside the city. Any man working as a joiner, not being a member of the Company, was to be fined 40s., and a carpenter presuming to work as a joiner was mulcted in 10s. No member was allowed to employ more than two


journeymen. The Whitawers (white leather dressers), Pointmakers, and Glovers were at the same time protected by similar provisions. A “foreigner” caught buying skins was liable to a fine of £5; no woman was to be permitted to work at these trades, and a pointmaker making gloves, or a glover making points, was liable to disfranchisement. By the Smiths' and Cutlers' ordinance of 1607, a joiner or carpenter undertaking in a contract to supply locks or other ironmongery was to forfeit 40s., and the same amount was payable by any citizen selling knives, shovels, or carpenters' tools. Even the grinding of knives and scissors by non-members was strictly forbidden. Finally, the Feltmakers' and Haberdashers' ordinance of 1611 graciously allowed “foreigners” to sell hats and caps in the city for one day weekly, provided the articles were approved by the Company, which was to receive a toll of 3d. per dozen for hats and 1d. for caps. As a guarantee of good workmanship, a feltmaker was forbidden to set up in trade until he had made three hats in the house of one of the officers of the Company to that person's satisfaction. The last-named ordinance was confirmed by the Corporation in 1668, when trading restrictions were still rigorously enforced.

An odd entry occurs in the Chamberlain's accounts for December, 1605:- “Paid the Mayor's and Sheriffs' sergeants and yeomen for that they shall not beg at Christmas, 10s. each, £4”. The item became an annual charge. The eight men in question constituted the police force of the city, but were apparently often aged and inefficient, being recruited from worn-out servants of civic dignitaries. Their salaries were so small that, on their death, the Council were generally called upon for a donation to bury them.

The manor of Bedminster was purchased in 1605 by Sir Hugh Smyth, of Long Ashton, from a Mr. Nevill. The manor had formed part of the great possessions of the Duke of Buckingham, of Thornbury Castle, judicially murdered by order of Henry VIII., and being held of the Crown in capite, a royal license ought to have been obtained previous to Nevill's conveyance. The defect was detected some years afterwards by some legal official with a keen scent for fees, and Sir Hugh Smyth had to petition King James in 1613 for letters patent confirming his title, which were not granted without a heavy fine. The Smyths, who made a large fortune as Bristol merchants, had purchased the manor of Long Ashton in 1545. It had previously belonged to Daubeny, Earl of Bridgwater.


Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who has been termed “the Father of English Colonization in North America”, came of a family of good position long seated at Wraxall, near this city. Probably born in 1566, he adopted the profession of arms, and whilst still quite young he had charge of the defences of Plymouth, and generally resided there. In 1605 he took an active part in promoting a voyage made by one George Weymouth to the coast of what is now the State of Maine, and when the explorer returned to Plymouth in the same year, bringing five natives of the country, Gorges received the “Indians” into his own house. Moved by the information he derived from them, he formed a project for colonization, and through his efforts a Virginia Company was established in 1606. By a charter of April in that year James I. authorized the foundation of two separate colonies, the principal promoters of the northern settlement being Gorges and Lord Chief Justice Popham, backed by several West-country gentlemen and merchants. This document, says the historian Bancroft, was “the first colonial charter under which the English were planted in America”. The projectors were naturally solicitous to obtain the support of Bristolians, and at a meeting of the Common Council on March 12th a letter was read from the Lord Chief Justice, who had been Recorder of the city, desiring the co-operation of the local merchants. The Council, says the minute-book, “were all of opinion not to adventure anything in that scheme unless the King undertakes to join in the charge, and then they will be contributory in some reasonable proportion”; and an answer to that effect was forwarded to Popham. A few weeks later, however, when the terms of the royal patent became known, a subscription in support of the scheme was opened at the Council house for “the plantation and inhabiting of Virginia”, the contributions to extend over five years. Only thirteen merchants, however, responded to the invitation. The Mayor, Thomas James, M.P., promised £13 6s. 8d. yearly, and the same sum was offered by John Guy, sheriff, who will be presently heard of again in connection with colonial enterprise. Alderman John Hopkins and Mr. Robert Aldworth offered £12 10s. each. The other subscriptions varied from 10 marks to 60s. Soon afterwards, Sir F. Gorges despatched a ship from Plymouth on an exploring expedition, and Chief Justice Popham and the above subscribers equipped another vessel at Bristol with the same object, of which Thomas Hannam was commander and Martin Pring master. The


latter ship sailed in September or October, but there is little recorded of its adventures save a brief note by Gorges, stating that several more harbours were explored, and that Pring returned with “the most exact discovery of that coast that ever came to my hands”. The adventurers were at all events so satisfied with the results that in May, 1607, two ships with emigrants were despatched from Plymouth, and a colony styled St. George was attempted in “Northern Virginia” (really New England), but proved wholly unsuccessful, the emigrants returning to England in the following year.

It has been already stated that the exactions of the Crown in the shape of illegal imposts induced the Corporation to devise a new method of raising money to defray the burdens. On May 20th, 1606, the Common Council ordered that every trader not a free burgess should pay sixpence per ton on the merchandise he entered or cleared at Bristol, excepting salt, corn, fish, coals, and goods brought in or carried away by trows or woodbushes (market-boats). It was further resolved that Londoners importing or exporting here should pay the same dues for weighage and wharfage as were charged on Bristolians in London. As it would have been imprudent to declare the real object of the new tax, it was asserted that the money was needed for the reparation of the quays. Soon afterwards doubts arose as to the power of the Corporation to impose the dues, and in February, 1607, the members of Parliament for the city were instructed to appeal to the King for a confirmation of the tax, which was now stated to be payable by free burgesses as well as strangers. The result is not recorded, but wharfage from this time became a permanent charge on goods, and eventually produced a large revenue.

The real object of the tax is disclosed in the Council minutes of July 8th, 1606. A considerable sum being still due to merchants for the wines seized by the royal purveyors, it was resolved that £200 should be raised by loan, to be distributed amongst them on account. The resolution proceeds:- “And for the full payment of the said King's debt due to the merchants there shall be levied a tax of 12d. per ton on all merchandise brought to this city, except salt and fish, tar and pitch, trayne (etc), iron and wool; the tax to be continued until the debt be paid either by the King or this taxation”. At a meeting in September it was further decreed that any one refusing to pay should be discommoned and regarded as a foreigner.


In the meantime the abuse of purveyance had been exposed in the House of Commons by Alderman James, who took an active part in public business. A conference on the subject took place between the two Houses, when it was stated that the Lord Treasurer had admitted the merchants' complaints to be true, and that the royal officials, like the Egyptian plague of frogs, leaped into every man's dish. The Peers undertook to represent the grievance to the King, but Parliament was soon after angrily prorogued, and the purveyors lost no time in demanding a fresh composition for groceries. In May, 1607, notification was received that a commission for purveyance of wine would also be put in execution unless a money composition was offered by the city; and Aldermen Whitson and James were earnestly directed to appeal for relief. The issue is unrecorded, but it is highly probable that further exactions were made on the citizens, who were practically defenceless.

Complaints were repeatedly raised about this time as to the deficient measures used by the Kingswood colliers in supplying “stone coal” to the inhabitants. In August, 1606, the Chamberlain took the heroic step of riding into the Chase to measure the miners' bushels, a guide being employed to conduct him to the pits. By dint of a gift of a couple of shillings the colliers proved tractable, and the somewhat perilous commission into a lawless region was successfully performed. It may be noted that although coal was used by the inhabitants, the fires at the Council House were always supplied with wood or charcoal. Only twice during the entire century does a small item occur for stone coal in the civic accounts.

In September, 1606, the Corporation resolved upon a perambulation of the city boundaries, a custom that had been suspended for several years. A little entertainment took place in the morning, and another, composed of cheese, cakes, marmalade, conserves, confits, carraways, fruit and beer, occurred later in the day. There was also a “drink” at Jacob's Wells, costing 2s. 6d., and another at Lawford's Gate, for the small consideration of sixpence. The dinner of five porters cost only 1s. 8d., and the entire outlay was but 60s.

In October the Common Council came to a resolution that eventually brought about much excitement and ill-feeling. It was ordered that a convenient structure should be erected in the Cathedral, where the Mayor, Aldermen and Councillors, and their wives might sit and hear “the


sermons” on “Sabbaths” and festival days. Each member was to contribute 40s. (afterwards reduced to 20s.) towards the work. The Dean and Chapter, after some demur, consented to the proposed erection and also to the removal of the pulpit to a spot fronting the intended seats. The cost of these operations exceeded the subscription, and £9 were paid out of the civic fund to “even the account”. The municipal construction is described by a contemporary chronicler as a fair gallery, curiously wrought, standing upon pillars, the centre part being reserved for the King or any noble visitor, while underneath were seats for the wives of the city rulers. This statement, however, needs correction on a point which soon proved to be of serious importance. By the Dean and Chapter's formal grant to the Corporation it was stipulated that the Bishop, and also the Dean, might take their places in the new seats “by the side of the Mayor at their will and pleasure”. The fabric had not been long finished when the Bishop, Dr. Thornborough, who was also Dean of York, paid a visit to his diocese after a lengthy absence, and, taking offence at the imposing gallery, in which he had not been allowed, or perhaps not invited, to seat himself, he informed the Archbishop of Canterbury that it made the church look like a playhouse, and induced the Primate to send down orders for its removal. The Council, greatly incensed, requested the Bishop to allow the seats to remain until an appeal had been made to the Archbishop, and letters and deputations were sent off in hot haste to his grace and Lord Salisbury desiring their favour, large sums being disbursed for travelling expenses. The Bishop, however, was obdurate, treated a corporate deputation with contempt, and peremptorily ordered the gallery to be swept away, which was accordingly done. It will be observed that the Corporation had the seats erected simply to hear “sermons”, and the objection of the Puritanic section of society to the liturgical services of the Church had become so deep, and the party so numerous, that the bells of each church were specially rung to give notice when the sermons were about to be delivered. The chroniclers go on to state that the Bishop was so wrath at the opposition he encountered that he forbade the parish bells to be rung in this manner, but that the Primate, on the appeal of the Mayor, gave the Council permission to have as many sermons as they liked, and where they chose; whereupon the worshipful body forsook the Cathedral, and went every Sunday to hear the


sermons at St. Mary Redcliff, a church outside the Bishop's jurisdiction. One annalist adds that the Corporation found friends at Court, and that the King, after sharply rebuking the Bishop, ordered him to replace the gallery, which was forthwith set about, though on a humbler scale. The latter statement, however, seems at variance with the records in the Council House. In 1613 the Council resolved that if the Archbishop would allow the seats to be set up as first erected, the cost of the work should be defrayed by the Chamberlain, provided the Dean and Chapter would make a new grant of them to the civic body, leaving the Bishop and Dean to seat themselves elsewhere. This was not acceded to, for in 1614 the Council desired the Mayor and Aldermen to give directions for removing the timber work for the use of the city, and this was immediately done. Dr. Thornborough - a servile flatterer of King James - was preferred to Worcester a few months later. He was still allowed to hold the deanery of York, to which was attached the rectory of the large market-town of Pickering. In 1615 the people of the latter place complained to the Privy Council that for many previous years scarcely a single sermon had been preached in their church. Thornborough thereupon impudently offered to get a discourse delivered once a month, but, being warmly rebuked, he doled out money for a weekly sermon.

“1606, November. Paid the bellman for giving
warning to hang out candle light, 2s. 6d”. This entry in the corporate accounts is the first indication that some modest illumination of the streets in the winter months had been approved of by the authorities. The minute-books are silent on the subject until half a century later; and as there was no penalty for default, the bellman's summons is not likely to have been widely complied with. The entry, however, may have another explanation. From casual items in the accounts, it would appear that the Corporation had set up lanterns at three or four busy localities, such as the High Cross, the Quay, Froom Gate, etc., and in December, 1608, a man was paid half a crown “for looking to the lanterns this quarter”. But there was no outlay for candles for a long series of years, and it is possible that the illumination was supplied by the neighbouring householders according to the bellman's directions.

The civic records afford ample evidence that in the opinion of the Common Council a slender stock of education was sufficient for the working classes. In November, 1606,


directions were given that the boys in Queen Elizabeth's Hospital should be set to work on the afternoon of every day, “whereby they may be better able to get their living”. The order was frequently renewed in subsequent years.

A phenomenal flood tide occurred in the Severn on the morning of January 20th, 1607, whereby the lowlying lands on each bank of the river from Gloucester downwards were inundated over some hundreds of square miles. The loss of life was estimated at 600, and a greater number of people were saved only by climbing upon trees, haystacks and roofs of houses. In Bristol the tide, being partially dammed back by the Bridge, flowed over Redcliff, St. Thomas and Temple Streets to a depth of several feet. St. Stephen's Church and the quays were deeply flooded, and the loss of goods in cellars and warehouses was enormous.

The manufacture of pins appears to have been introduced into the West of England about this time, and led to the employment of numbers of young children, who were easily trained as “headers”. (Solid heads were not introduced until about 1834.) In April, 1607, the Corporation advanced Thomas Nash, pinmaker, a loan of £6, free of interest, on his undertaking to employ poor children in his manufactory.

In the same month a haulier's sledge delivered at the Mayor's house, for the delectation of himself and family, a strange fish just caught at Kingroad. The creature is described by a veracious chronicler as being five feet in length by three in breadth, with a huge mouth, two hands and two feet! What the Mayor did with the prize is not recorded.

An outbreak of Plague in London excited great anxiety during the summer. All wagons and carriages from the capital were forbidden to enter the city, and their passengers had to submit to a lengthy “airing” before admission. The alarm subsided in the autumn, but in May, 1608, the pestilence made its appearance, and a Pest-house was established in the suburbs. Other remarkable measures to prevent infection were adopted by the Council. The Guilders' Inn was one of the leading hostelries, and the landlord, Henry Hobson, afterwards served the offices of sheriff and mayor. But a case of Plague having occurred in his house, the great gate of the inn was boarded up, and watchmen were appointed to stand, day and night, at the front and back doors to prevent ingress or egress. After a fortnight's isolation the premises were allowed to be


reopened, but Hobson was ordered to pay £7, half the cost of his imprisonment. A similar course was adopted with the house of a cutler in St. Thomas' Street, the inmates of which were fed during their incarceration at the expense of the city. In this case the Corporation attempted to recover the outlay from the churchwardens of the parish, but only 28s. could be extracted from them.

It has been already shown that the authorities were accustomed to commit burgesses and other inhabitants to prison on their refusal to pay local taxes arbitrarily imposed by the Council. The cruelty of forcing such defaulters to herd with thieves and ruffians in Newgate seems to have been at length recognised, and in August, 1607, a house adjoining the prison was hired at £4 a year for the accommodation of those “committed to ward” on their paying the ordinary gaol fees.

The Mayor, John Barker, died on the 13th September, two days before the annual civic elections. Following the precedent of 1543, when the chief magistracy became vacant under similar circumstances, a meeting took place on the 14th, when Alderman Richard Smith was chosen to fill the chair until Michaelmas Day. But on the 15th, when the Council wished to elect the same Alderman for the ensuing year, his worship resisted, and undertook to pay a fine of £100 on condition that he should be exempted from the office for life. (Only £40 appear to have been actually paid.) Mr. Barker's interment took place with great pomp in St. Werburgh's Church at midnight on September 21st. The members of the trading Companies attended, bearing torches, the interior of the church was covered with black cloth, and much destruction was wrought by the rabble, who crushed into the building - probably for nefarious purposes. Barker's stately monument is preserved in the new church of St. Werburgh.

The extreme narrowness of the thoroughfare over Bristol Bridge, wedged between the houses on each side, made it unsafe to foot passengers at all times, and highly perilous on market-days through the influx of country people. On October 5th the Council gave order that “the chain at the Bridge End” - clearly an established institution - should be locked up on every market-day from 8 o'clock in the morning until 2 in the afternoon, during which time no hauliers', brewers', or other great carriages with drays (sledges) were to be suffered to cross the bridge. The


ordinance was re-enacted in 1651, but the interdicted days were limited to Wednesday and Saturday.

Some irregularity in admissions to the freedom seems to have been discovered at this time, for at the above meeting of the Council a resolution was passed that no person should be entered on the burgess roll unless he had served a seven years' apprenticeship to a freeman, or was the son or daughter of a freeman, or had married a freeman's widows or daughter, or had been admitted by a vote of the Council. A Mayor or Chamberlain acting contrary to this ordinance was to be fined 100 marks.

November 6th, 1607, was the second anniversary of the discovery of the Guy Fawkes Plot, and the records show that the day was already celebrated by popular manifestations. The Corporation on this occasion provided an enormous bonfire, and in many subsequent years, besides exploding plentiful gunpowder, they lighted up two great fires, one at the High Cross and another before the dwelling of the Mayor. The day is sometimes styled in the account “England's Holiday”.

The harvest of 1607 having proved extremely disastrous; the Corporation felt compelled to take energetic measure to avert the danger of famine. They began, it appears, by ordering a census. One of the old calendars states that “a view was taken in the city to know how many people were in it; and there were found, of all sorts, 10,549 in the whole. It was done because they should know how much corn would serve the whole by the week”. (The population of the out-parishes of St. James and St. Philip and of the parish of Clifton, not included in the city, may have raised the total to about 12,000.) In April, 1608, the Church ordered that 1,000 bushels of wheat, or more, should be bought at Milford, or “wherever it could be had best cheap”, for the provision of the inhabitants; and in the following week £1,000 were directed to be borrowed under the common seal for buying corn in Holland, certain merchants having undertaken to see the Corporation discharged of this debt. A third order, for £300 worth of wheat, was sent to Ireland. Much was also done by private enterprise to mitigate the sufferings of the poor. In the twelve months ending in July, 1609, sixty ships arrived from Dantzic and other ports, bringing in what was then deemed the marvellous quantities of 38,600 bushels of wheat and barley, and 73,700 bushels of rye, then the chief food of the labouring classes.


The office of Lord High Steward having become vacant by the death, on April 19th, 1608, of the Earl of Dorset, it was conferred exactly a week later on Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and Lord Treasurer. In the previous September, during the violent dispute with Bishop Thornborough, a pipe of wine had been sent to Lord Dorset, in the hope of securing his assistance; and although the cost of this present was practically thrown away through his demise, the Council, knowing the value of a powerful protector at Court, not only sent the new minister a finely decorated patent of office, but accompanied it with a gift of £30 in hard cash, praying for his countenance and support.

Amongst the local institutions of the age were the city waits or musicians, who, in return for a modest quarterly payment from the civic treasury and tips from the sheriffs, were required to take part in processions and rejoicings. In August they were provided with new instruments at a cost of £10, it being possibly thought that their fantasias might cheer up the inhabitants, still suffering from the effects of both pestilence and dearth. Occasional payments occur for the reparation of the elegant silver chains worn by the musicians, still preserved at the Council House. In 1611 there was a further outlay of £4 for a new “sagbutt for the waits”.

The Corporation, whose economical administration of the civic revenue had brought about a flowing exchequer, about this time began the purchase of landed estates at Portishead and North Weston, including the manor of the former place, belonging to the celebrated Hall family, of Bradford. The transactions extended over the following eight years, and the total outlay appears to have reached the then considerable sum of £2,000. It need scarcely be added that the investments ultimately proved very profitable.

At the civic elections in 1608, a councillor named Hugh Murcott, to escape serving the office of sheriff for life, consented to pay a fine of £100, which, having regard to the heavy expenditure incumbent on the sheriffs, was a profitable investment. Payments of a similar kind occur from time to time, and the Council was somewhat capricious in fixing the amount of the fine. In 1612 John Tomlinson was exempted from the sheriffdom for life in consideration of £50. In the following year, George White, praying escape on account of private losses, was dismissed from the Council gratis; while Alderman Hicks on paying £40 was


freed for life from the office of Mayor. In 1615 Alderman Vawer obtained the latter favour for the trifling sum of £20.

In the autumn of 1608, the King, having obtained a judgment in the Court of Exchequer by which his assumed right to levy arbitrary Customs duties was confirmed by the abject judges, threw consternation amongst the merchants of Bristol by imposing an additional tax upon sweet wines, styling the charge a composition in lieu of purveyance. The peculiar hardship of this impost from a local point of view lay in the fact that wines imported into Bristol already paid a “prisage” to the lessees of the Crown of one tenth of each cargo, and thus were taxed double what was paid at London and Southampton, the other wine ports, where prisage did not exist. An urgent letter was accordingly addressed by the Corporation to the Lord Treasurer, praying for relief; and after considerable delay, Lord Salisbury, by the direction of the Privy Council, requested the Lord Chief Baron to summon the Purveyors and some of the merchants before him, to hear their respective cases, and to report what was proper to be done for the settlement of the dispute. A commission was first issued out of the Exchequer to take evidence on the subject, and on October 1st the commissioners sat at Bristol, when Robert Aldworth and other local merchants declared on oath, in flat contradiction to the assertions of their oppressors, that purveyance had never been heard of in the city until after the accession of the King. Wines, they added, were being landed in Wales to escape the impost, much to the prejudice of local commerce. Finally, the Chief Baron, calling Mr. Baron Snigge to his assistance, heard the parties in London, and in May, 1609, he reported to the Lord Treasurer that the grievance of the merchants had been attested by evidence, and that prisage was an exceptional burden on Bristolians; but that the merchants, having been admonished as to the King's prerogative, had consented to bear purveyance both for wines and groceries whenever the Court came within twenty miles of the city, provided they were exempted from it at other times; which the two judges considered a reasonable compromise. This decision appears to have been confirmed by the Privy Council, but the minutes of the year have perished. The Corporation, which had presented Sir George Snigge with a butt of wine whilst the dispute was pending, now forwarded a similar gift to the Lord Chief Baron, besides defraying


heavy legal and other charges. It will be seen under 1622 that the relief was but temporary.

In January, 1609, the city was visited by the Earl of Sussex's company of players, who received 20s. as a reward for performing before the Mayor and Aldermen in the Guildhall. In 1610 “my Lord President's” players appeared twice in the Guildhall, and received £2 on each occasion. The same sum was bestowed on the Queen's “revellers” in 1612, on the Lady [Princess] Elizabeth's players in 1613, on the Palgrave's and the Prince's players in 1618, and on four companies, including the King's children players, in 1621. In the last-named year a tumbler also put in an appearance, but this was too much for the authorities, and he was paid 20s. “that he should not play”. It seems probable that the comedians, after exhibiting before the civic dignitaries, were allowed to act for brief periods for the entertainment of the inhabitants. The poor players, however, gradually became unpopular. See 1630.

Some extraordinary proceedings of the Corporation in reference to the estates bequeathed for the endowment of the Grammar School led to an inquiry in the spring of 1609 by commissioners under the Statute of Charitable Uses. It appeared that Robert Thorne, a wealthy merchant, who in 1632 obtained a grant from Lord de la Warr of the estates of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in Bristol, and also permission from Henry VIII. to convey them in mortmain to the Corporation for the maintenance of a free grammar school, died before the execution of such conveyance, although the school was actually opened. His brother Nicholas, as heir-at-law, then took possession of the estate; but although he survived for many years, no steps were taken to transfer it to the Corporation. He appointed, however, the second schoolmaster, and by his will, dated shortly before his death in 1646, he directed that the property should be delivered up by his executors, and bequeathed some money, his library, and his maps and charts to the school. Owing, possibly, to his eldest son, Robert, being under age, the conveyance of the estate was further delayed, and nothing was done until 1668, when Robert was dead, leaving a brother Nicholas, aged 18, his heir-at-law. The Council having at length taken action, Nicholas, in consideration of a promise that certain portions of the estate should be granted him on lease for his life, executed a deed undertaking to carry out the intentions of his uncle and


father; and three years later he granted the Bartholomew lands to the Corporation for ever, to the use of the school, which was to be opened free to the sons of burgesses on payment of an admission fee of fourpence. Almost immediately afterwards, however, in processed conformity with the above promise, the Corporation demised to him, in perpetuity, the entire charity estates acquired by his uncle from Lord de la Warr (saving only the hospital buildings and the school-house), reserving a rent of no more than £30. Nicholas Thorne thus became again seized of all the lands left for the endowment of the school; and on his death, in 1591, this and other property was divided amongst his three daughters, who, by the legal legerdemain of fines and recoveries, became, in fact, independent owners. One of these ladies, Alice, the widow of John Pykes, got for her share the Bartholomew lands, subject to the fee farm rent, and by granting a great number of long leases at low rents secured large sums from the lessees. The indefensible conduct of the Corporation, which had rendered this malfeisance practicable, at length aroused the indignation of the citizens, and on their appeal to the Crown the above commission of inquiry was appointed. The facts being undeniable, the commissioners reported that the demise made to Nicholas Thorne was a fraud upon the charity. Mrs. Pykes, however, clung to the estate, and after some litigation a second commission was granted, when the commissioners advised the Corporation to make terms with her. The Council accordingly determined that she should be allowed to retain the property on paying £41 6s. 8d. yearly, and this arrangement was confirmed by Lord Chancellor Ellesmere in 1610. The bargain being unsatisfactory to the citizens, the Corporation, in 1617, bought up Mrs. Pykes' interest for £660, and recovered the estates.

The reports made by Martin Pring and other explorers as to the climate and resources of North America aroused a strong desire in Bristol and other ports to promote colonization. In February, 1609, an application was made to the Privy Council for leave to found a plantation in Newfoundland, in a district uninhabited by Christians, the promoters being a number of merchants in London and Bristol. The King in the following year granted a patent to the Earl of Northampton, Sir Francis Bacon, and a great many others (the Bristol beneficiaries included Matthew Haviland, Thomas Aldworth, William Lewes, John Guy, Richard Holworthy, John Langton, Humphry Hooke,


Philip Guy, William Meredith, Adrian Jennings, and John Doughty), establishing an incorporation styled the “ Company of Adventurers and Planters of London and Bristol for the colony or plantation of Newfoundland in the southern and eastern parts”. John Guy, an eminent local merchant, was appointed the first governor of this body, and his heart was thoroughly in the enterprise. Three ships having been equipped, the governor, with his brother, Philip Guy, his brother-in-law, William Colston, and thirty-nine emigrants of both sexes, embarked, a store of live cattle, goats, poultry, etc., was put on board, and the vessels left Bristol early in May, 1610, arriving at their destination in twenty-three days, when a landing was made at a little landlocked harbour called Cupids. The emigrants forthwith began the erection of dwellings, storehouses, wharves, and a fort defended by a stockade, while Guy built himself a mansion, called Sea Forest House. Guy returned to Bristol in the autumn of 1611, leaving his brother deputy-governor, but sailed again for the island in the following year, accompanied by a clergyman and several more emigrants. After his final return to England, William Colston was deputy-governor in 1613-14. The settlement, however, was not a permanent success. By his will, dated in February, 1626, Mr. Guy left his Sea Forest estate to his four sons, then under age, but the historians of Newfoundland have found no record of the colony after 1628.

For many previous centuries the burgesses of the cities and towns held in fee-farm under the Crown were entitled by their charters to import goods into Bristol free from dues levied by the Corporation, whilst Bristolians enjoyed a similar privilege when they carried merchandise into these favoured localities. As an illustration of this system, it is recorded that in July, 1609, Nicholas Ecolston, Mayor of Lancaster, having arrived from that town in a ship, produced before the city authorities the charter granted by King John to the burgesses of his borough declaring them free from all duties imposed in other ports. The claim to exemption was at once admitted. The like privilege was accorded about the same period on demands emanating from Exeter, Stafford, Shrewsbury, and other towns. In 1627 a person living at “Athie”, in Ireland, claimed immunity as a citizen of London, and six or eight Irishmen were afterwards granted exemption through being freemen of New Ross, Waterford, and Kilkenny.

On the other hand, vexatious restrictions were placed on


persons applying for the freedom in Bristol. In July, 1609, a painter and also an embroiderer were admitted on paying £6 each, but were forbidden to take as an apprentice a boy not the son of a freeman. Soon after, a virginal maker was made a freeman for life on payment of £2 4s. 6d., but was interdicted from exercising any other trade; while an innkeeper, though mulcted in £5, had to covenant to forbear from retail trading and to sell nothing but what was consumed in his house. Much jealousy arose upon a haberdasher from London seeking permission to open a shop. Several members of the Council demanded that his fine should be at least £60, but it was fixed by a majority at the still exorbitant sum of £40, then equivalent to the yearly profits of the average shopkeeper.

Another visitation of the Plague occurred in the autumn, and continued until the following summer. To defray the charge of relieving the sick and guarding infected dwellings, the justices levied a tax for six months which practically doubled the poor rate. The mortality on this occasion is not recorded. Another outbreak occurred in 1611, when a pest-house was established in Earls' Mead, and an infected family in Corn Street was closely immured till the disease disappeared. In 1613 the pestilence was raging in South Wales, and the Council, in alarm, prohibited the performance of stage plays during St. James's fair. A few cases of Plague were nevertheless reported in Marsh Street and on the Quay, which were dealt with in the usual stringent manner.

An attempt was made by the Corporation in the early months of 1610 to introduce a new industry into the city. The initial stages of the scheme are obscurely reported, but on May 15th the Council ordered that such persons as had promised and been appointed to come from Colchester, to set up the trade of “bayes and sayes”, should be admitted as freemen gratis, and that the money spent in engaging them to come, as well as the cost of bringing them here with their effects, should be disbursed by the Chamberlain. The charge amounted to £79. In August it was further ordered that six sums of £60 each should be advanced on loan to the baysmakers, whose trade was to be “ regulated” by the magistrates. The manufactory was set up in the Smiths' Hall (part of the old Dominican friary). The intrusion of these “foreigners” gave great offence to the ancient craft of weavers, who loudly protested against any infringement of their long-established privileges, and


the Council was much exercised to allay the clamour. It was ultimately ordered that the baysmakers should be strictly confined to their peculiar calling, and they were even forbidden to retail their baize in the city. The experiment, thus restricted, was, of course, a failure. In 1613 it was resolved that four of the men who had received the above loans should, on account of their poverty, have a remission of half their debts on giving fresh bonds for repayment of the balance. There is no evidence that any of the money was ever recovered.

The “wages” of the two members of Parliament for the session of this year amounted to £78 4s. 4d. In addition, Alderman Whitson was repaid the cost of a hogshead of claret, £8 5s., which he had presented to the Speaker, doubtless for what was thought to he a good consideration; whilst his colleague, Alderman James, was refunded £11 5s. 8d., “spent in the Star Chamber” in resisting one of the numberless persecutions of the royal officials.

The summer was marked by a great drought. A contemporary chronicler records with amazement that the price of butter advanced from the ordinary rate of 2d. or 2½d. to 6d. per lb., and cheese from 2d. to 5d., while wheat sold at 72s. per quarter, causing fearful distress amongst the poor.

At the annual election of mayor, etc., on September 15th, the minutes record that George Rychards, a councillor, used “very undecent and reproachful words” to Mr. Abel Kitchin, for which he was fined £5; and as he not only refused to pay, but offered unseemly insults to some of the aldermen, he was at once “dismissed from the society and fellowship of the Common Council”.

A curious item occurs in the Chamberlain's accounts for November:- “Paid for new gilding and painting of the picture of the Kings set up at Lafford's Gate, £2”. The ornamentation was bestowed on the ancient statues fixed on each side of the gate, which, after a somewhat adventurous career, have recently returned to the custody of the Corporation.

Bristol Marsh (the site of Queen's Square and Prince's Street) being outside the city walls, and almost surrounded by the tidal rivers, was at this period the spot to which the citizens, pent up in the contracted streets, and dreading the robbers who lurked in the suburbs, generally resorted to breathe fresh air and gaze on green fields. Some attempts had been made in the previous century to lay out walks


and plant trees, but the Corporation nevertheless permitted all the street refuse, or at least as much as the scavenger cared to remove, to be cast about the green space, and its condition at length became a scandal. Public attention seems to have been called to the matter by a bequest of one hundred marks made to the Corporation in 1609, the interest of which, £4, was to be paid to two labourers for keeping clean the Marsh and the walks about it; and in June, 1611, a committee was appointed for the “decent keeping and beautifying” of the place and the needful regulation of the scavenger. The rents paid by butchers for grazing cattle in the Marsh were afterwards left at the disposition of the committee. Much improvement was thus effected, and the locality became more popular than ever. In 1622 the city surveyors were directed to select a fitting site on the Marsh “for merchants and gentlemen to recreate themselves on at bowles”. A space was thereupon enclosed as a bowling-green, which subsequently brought in a good rental; and as a terror to unruly loiterers a pair of stocks was set up in 1631. From an incidental note by a local chronicler, it appears that a “bowling-green and cockpit” existed about this time in the Pithay.

Although many of the regulations of the trade Companies were conceived in a spirit of narrow selfishness, it is but fair to state that some at least of the crafts showed a desire to protect the public from dishonest or incapable workmanship. As has been already stated, a man could not set up as a hatter, even after serving his apprenticeship, until he had passed a severe trial of his capacity. In the same manner, the Tailors' Guild would not permit a member to exercise his trade until he had proved his ability to do so worthily. Thus, in the minutes of June 17th, 1611, it is recorded that Anthony Basset had been “tried and allowed” for a pair of boddes (stays), a pair of trunk sleeves, and a farthingale, “which is newly used now in those days”, but for nothing else, and he received warning that, if he intermeddled in the making of other garments, he would be fined 20s. for each such offence. In a somewhat later case, a young tailor was adjudged to be “a perfect workman for a hosier only”.

The Council, in August, 1611, promulgated some remarkable orders for the regulation of the port. It was decreed that no ship exceeding sixty tons burden should be allowed to sail up to Bristol without the license of the justices, under a penalty of 40s., such vessels being required to


discharge their cargoes into boats at Hungroad. No ship of thirty tons was to pass beyond the lower penthouse at the Quay, on pain of a similar fine. A number of old and unserviceable ships were lying about the quays, and these were ordered to be forthwith broken up and removed. As to the numerous trows and market-boats, it was directed that such vessels should not come up the Avon until the head of a post at Pill was under water, nor sail downwards until a post at Rownham was no longer visible. The minuteness of the regulations indicates the difficulties attending the navigation of the narrow and tortuous river, the stranding of ships - small as they then were - being of frequent occurrence. But it was easier to make laws than to get them obeyed, and the masters of both large and tiny craft generally ignored the corporate behests.

The condition of the Castle precincts at this period closely resembled that of the precincts of the Whitefriars in London, so graphically described in “Quentin Durward”. Being exempt from civic jurisdiction, the place was a safe refuge, not merely for persons in dread of arrest for debt, but for sturdy beggars, swindlers, thieves, highwaymen, and malefactors of every description, who set the officers of justice at defiance, and preyed with impunity upon the city and surrounding districts. On the death of the Earl of Leicester in 1588, Queen Elizabeth had granted the Constableship of the Castle (which had long been a sinecure office, since the fortress was “tending to ruin” so early as 1480) to Sir John Stafford, of Thornbury; and that gentleman seems to have turned the post to account by letting off fragments of the buildings as hovels for sheltering the outlaw community. In October, 1611, the Corporation, which had previously petitioned the Privy Council, representing the extent of the evil and praying for relief, commissioned Alderman Whitson to apply to the Lord Treasurer for the purchase of the Castle, for which he was empowered to offer £666. This step must have been taken in consequence of some hint thrown out at Court of the Government's willingness to sell, for Sir John Stafford, having already heard a report to that effect, had urged the Lord Treasurer not to dispose of “the castle of the second city of the kingdom”. For some unknown reason, Alderman Whitson met with unexpected difficulties, although the Council resorted to the usual and generally successful plan of seeking favour, orders being given for presenting the Lord Treasurer with “a pipe of Canary or a very good butt of Sack”, two


hogsheads of claret, and a number of sugar loaves. The next document relating to the subject is amongst the State Papers, and is a summary of “reasons” to induce Lord Salisbury to sell the Castle to Sir John Stafford, he being, it was alleged, willing to pay a much larger sum than was offered by the citizens! Eventually the Government declined both offers, and the western Alsatia was left free to develop from bad to worse. In 1615 one Sir George Chaworth was appointed Constable for life, and evidence is given of the state of the fortress by a royal warrant of that year, in which a number of old stone walls and decayed towers within the precincts were presented to the new officer, possibly for the repair of the extensive building (the old State apartments) known as the Military House. Presumably on the death of Chaworth, Sir John Stafford was reinstated in his former office, and the old abuses became again rampant. In March, 1620, the Corporation represented to the Privy Council that the Constable had appointed a mean and unworthy deputy, who suffered upwards of 260 lewd persons and thieves to harbour within the precincts, making them a refuge and receptacle of malefactors. The Lord Treasurer and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were thereupon directed to summon the Constable before them and to insist upon an immediate and thorough reform of the scandal. Sir John, however, was then very aged, and little or nothing was done, for the Corporation renewed its complaints in successive years until the Constable's death in 1624.

The Corporation, in April, 1612, came to the help of the Merchant Venturers' Company, who, like tradesmen and artificers in every branch of industry, desired to protect themselves from competition. It was solemnly “ordained” that the Society should make an ordinance by virtue of their charter, forbidding every member from exercising any other trade but that of a merchant, and prohibiting any outsider from practising as a merchant until he had been admitted into the freedom of the Company. Like many other corporate edicts, this resolution perished stillborn, neither the Corporation nor the Society having power to inflict penalties on its infringement.

Alderman Robert Aldworth, who was at this time one of the wealthiest “meer (oversea) merchants” in the city, and who, in spite of the above ordinance, combined sugar-refining with mercantile trade, dwelt in the great mansion fronting St. Peter's churchyard, originally the seat of the


Norton family, and subsequently, after strange vicissitudes, acquired by the Corporation of the Poor. The house, in 1612, was being reconstructed by Aldworth, who had his initials inserted amidst some bizarre carving in the south porch. In September the Corporation granted him, at a fee-farm rent of £3, the fee of another house in the same parish. It is probable that this acquisition forms the eastern portion of the present building, which the alderman left unaltered. Aldworth died in 1634, and directed his body to be buried in “myne own ile” in St. Peter's Church, where his enormous monument is still to be seen. He bequeathed £3 to each of the workmen in his sugar house, and upwards of £1,200 for charitable purposes.

The Common Council, on October 1st, made a new ordinance for the regulation of Newgate prison. The gaoler was required to keep a stock of beer on the premises for the consumption of the prisoners and visitors, the price of a “full quart” of single beer being fixed at a halfpenny, and of double ale at a penny, “and no more”. A prisoner who got drunk on those easy terms was to be fined a shilling towards the relief of his pauper companions who “lived by the bagg” - that is, on the alms of passers-by; in default he was to be put in the stocks. A poor prisoner made drunk by others was also relegated to the stocks, where he was to have a dish of cold water set before him. The payment of “garnish” by new-comers was forbidden. Debtors were clearly allowed to stroll out during the daytime, for it was ordered that the gaoler should not suffer a prisoner to stray beyond the city boundaries without a special warrant, under a penalty of £10. In 1621 the Council ordered that persons imprisoned for debt or for non-payment of fines should pay a fee of 2s. on admission, 8d. a meal for their diet, and 4d. a night for lodging. Poor debtors and felons, consigned to a dungeon called Traitors' Ward, were to pay 12d. weekly “and no more”.

In the later months of the year great consternation was caused in commercial circles by the arrival in the Bristol Channel of some piratical vessels designing to prey upon merchantmen. The peril was so serious that two ships, the Concord and True Love, were armed and sent out to attack the freebooters, a gang of whom, twelve in number, were captured, lodged in Newgate, and ultimately sent to London for trial. Shortly after, another band of the sea brigands was tried and convicted at Exeter on the evidence of Bristolians and others. The pirates nevertheless became


still more formidable, and in 1613-14 the Merchants' Society, at a large outlay, fitted out four “ships of war” for their suppression. The Government, after being long vainly importuned to deal with the evil, finally despatched a man-of-war to cruise in the Channel, when the plunderers decamped. Sir Thomas Button, the able and vigilant captain of the King's ship, was gratefully entertained in Bristol, and received a handsome present for his services. After Button had departed, however, the pirates reappeared, and three private vessels were engaged to protect navigation, the Council and the Merchants Society dividing the expense (£160) in equal shares.

Until 1612 it had been customary for one of the city sheriffs to be elected by the Council, and the other on the nomination of the Mayor-elect, and it had not been unusual for a gentleman to be chosen who was not a member of the Corporation. As both practices were in contravention of the charters, they were abolished in December. In the following year the Council abrogated the Mayor's petty perquisites on imports of fish, oysters, oranges, etc., in compensation whereof, “and for divers good causes”, the Mayor's yearly salary - then £40 - was increased to £52, or, if he were serving a second time, to £104. It was further resolved that no one indebted to the Chamber should be nominated to the office of mayor or sheriff until he had wiped off his liabilities. (This regulation seems to have been unpalatable to some of the members, but an attempt made to revoke it in 1614 was unsuccessful.) By another ordinance the Masters of the trading Companies were forbidden to exact a breakfast or other treat from young men at the end of their apprenticeship, but were to content themselves with a fee of 3s. 4d., on pain of forfeiting £10. Finally, the country butchers permitted to bring meat to market on Saturdays were forbidden to keep open their stalls after three o'clock p.m.

A brief item in the corporate minutes, dated February 9th, 1613, directs that a complete survey should be made of the property “lately purchased” from Mr. George Owen. In 1663 Dr. George Owen granted to the Corporation certain lands, chiefly in Redcliff, in trust, to provide weekly doles of 7d. each to ten poor men, who were to be added to the inmates of Foster's Almshouse. For reasons now inexplicable, the Corporation, at the date of the above minute, had entered into negotiations with the benefactor's representative for a re-grant of the same estate, and a deed


carrying out this object was signed in the following June, transferring the property in fee, but containing no mention of the charitable uses! Founding their rights on this second instrument, which the younger Owen appears to have executed without any consideration, the Corporation, in 1836, claimed the estate as city property; but their pretensions were resisted by the newly appointed Charity Trustees, and set aside by the Court of Chancery. They were, however, suffered to retain the enormous sums received from the charity estates during the previous two hundred and twenty years. The case offers a remarkable illustration of the advance in the value of real property which has taken place since the Tudor era. In 1553 Dr. Owen estimated the profits of the estate as being simply adequate to provide 5s. 10d. a week, or about £15 a year, for charitable purposes. In 1897 the receipts were nearly £1,100. Five-sixths of the proceeds are now devoted to the support of the Grammar School, the remainder being allotted towards the maintenance of Foster's Almshouse.

On March 14th, 1613, another notable local benefactor, Thomas White, D.D., a native of Temple parish, executed a deed in which, after reciting that he had set up ten tenements in Temple Street, to be a hospital for impotent people and for setting poor persons to work, and had placed ten inmates therein, he incorporated those inmates and their successors, under the name of “The Ancient Brother, the Brethren and Sisters of the Temple Hospital”, and granted them the hospital buildings for ever. By another deed, of 1615, he gave the hospital certain houses and lands for the maintenance of the inmates, who were each to receive 20s. every quarter-day, and in 1620 he granted to the Corporation some house property in London, the rents of which were to be distributed for certain charitable and religious purposes, £6 being allotted to his hospital. The last-named conveyance could not be effected without a license from the King, to avoid the statutes of mortmain, for which the Corporation were heavily mulcted. Finally, by his will, dated in 1622-23, Dr. White, after endowing his foundation of Sion College, London, bequeathed to the Corporation a part of the rental of his lands in Essex, to be expended in amending the roads around Bristol, in giving marriage portions of £10 each to four honest maidens, and in maintaining two more inmates in Trinity Hospital. Dr. White was an eminent preacher, and acquired wealth from his numerous preferments, being a prebendary of St.


Paul's, a canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and a canon of Windsor. His “Road-Money Charity” is now chiefly devoted to the support of the Grammar School.

Sermons were still a crying want in the opinion of the Common Council. At a meeting on April 10th, 1613, any three of the city clergy were invited to preach on Sundays - indicating that many spared themselves that trouble - and a lecture was also requested every Tuesday. If the clergy responded to this proposal, a “convenient” allowance was promised for their pains, the money to be collected from the inhabitants. The answer of the incumbents is not recorded. But in the following month the Council determined that Mr. Yeamans, vicar of St. Philip's, and noted for the regularity of his preaching, should be granted £25 a year out of the living of Stockland Bristol as soon as it became vacant, for which he was to preach an additional sermon weekly on working days in some city church appointed by the donors! The Council, still dissatisfied with the lack of spiritual provision, unanimously resolved in 1614 that every member should contribute 6s. 8d. yearly to maintain a lecture or sermon on Tuesday evenings, the preacher to be rewarded with 6s. 8d. on each occasion. The strange resolution in reference to Stockland proved unworkable, for it was soon afterwards rescinded, and Yeamans' stipend was ordered to be paid by the Chamberlain.

In April, 1613, the consort of James I. journeyed to Bath for the recovery of her health, and Bristolians were forthwith called upon by the royal purveyors to furnish wine and groceries for her Majesty's household, the demands of which were insatiable. In all, 6 tuns, 5 butts, 3 pipes and 50 hogsheads of wine, making a total of upwards of 5,200 gallons, were furnished, together with over £360 worth of sugar and other groceries, spices costing £94, and pepper to the value of £9 6s. 8d. No money was, of course, to be obtained from the Court, and the Corporation had to relieve the merchants by advancing upwards of £1,000. The loyalty of the inhabitants, however, was unimpaired, and on learning that the Queen proposed to pay them a visit on June 4th, the Corporation spared neither labour nor expense to give her a joyous reception. The first necessity was to purify the streets. There was a portentous dunghill at St. Augustine's Back, nearly opposite to her intended lodgings in the Great House, another on the Quay, and two others in the line of streets near the Castle through which her


Majesty had to pass. These being removed, the roadways, scarred with ruts and holes, were repaired, some of the city-gates were whitewashed, and a prodigious quantity of sand was brought in to spread over the thoroughfares. Then the sword of state and the maces were newly gilded, drummers and “phifers” were engaged and gaily attired to supplement the waits, 500 of the trained bands were so finely apparelled that they looked to a contemporary annalist more like officers than privates, sixty great guns were stationed on the Quay to fire salutes, the trading Companies were ordered to turn out in their full strength, and a wooden form was bought to enable the aldermen to mount their horses with fitting dignity. The great day having arrived, the members of the Corporation, blazing in scarlet robes, bestrode their steeds at the Tolzey, each attended by a page, and proceeded majestically to Lawford's Gate, where they met the royal train. The Mayor (Abel Kitchin) thereupon fell on his knees whilst the Recorder offered the greetings of the city in a flattering oration, after which the chief magistrate courteously presented her Majesty with a purse (which had cost £4) containing 100 “units” of gold (that had cost £110 more). The royal thanks having been graciously tendered, the Mayor and his legal coadjutor took horse again, accompanied by two gentlemen ushers, and rode bareheaded before the Queen's chariot through the crowded streets. Distrustful, perhaps, of their qualifications to witch the world by their horsemanship, the Common Council had given orders that no salutes should be fired until the procession was ended; but the Queen had no sooner entered the Great House than the cannon thundered from the Quay, whilst the trained bands stationed on the green before the mansion responded with feux de joie. A sumptuous entertainment concluded the day's proceedings. Owing to unfavourable weather, the Queen remained indoors on Saturday; but on Sunday she proceeded in state to the Cathedral, the Mayor walking uncovered before her coach, preceded by the aldermen and councillors, while the ladies of the Court, on horseback, and a guard of trained bands brought up the rear. Monday witnessed the crowning effort of the citizens. After entertaining the Court to dinner at his own house, the Mayor conducted her Majesty to Canons' Marsh, near the confluence of the Avon and Froom, where a bower of oak boughs, garnished with roses and plentifully sprinkled with perfumes, was prepared for her reception. An imposing sham


fight then commenced, an English ship being attacked by two Turkish galleys, the crews of which strove to board, but were finally repulsed with great slaughter (six bladders full of blood being at hand to pour out of the scupper holes). The carnage resulted, of course, in the flight of the galleys and the capture of some of the infidels, who, much begrimed with smoke and blood, were presented to and laughingly complimented by the delighted Queen, who declared that they looked like real Turks and that she had never witnessed so exciting a spectacle. The Mayor again entertained the Court to supper in the evening, when her Majesty sent him a splendid ring set with diamonds as a mark of her approval. On Tuesday, after dinner, the Queen departed for Siston Court, being attended to Lawford's Gate with all the pomp that marked her arrival Her Majesty, who is described by a humorous historian as a princess of considerable amplitude of figure, massiveness of feature, and readiness of wit, seems to have been really charmed with her excursion. On the Mayor kneeling to take leave, the royal visitor, “with tears in her eyes”, promised the city her protection, declaring that she “never knew she was a queen till she came to Bristol”. It is needless to add that her entertainment entailed a very heavy outlay, but so much was disbursed by the private subscriptions of leading citizens that the total cannot be discovered. In despite of this liberality, moreover, the royal purveyors made another descent upon the merchants, and the Corporation found it necessary to pay for about 2,200 gallons of wine carried off for the Queen's household.

Amongst the State Papers for May in this year is a document offering “Reasons to prove the necessity for making small copper coins to avoid the great abuse of leaden tokens made by the city of Bristol and others”. No farthings had been coined by the Corporation since the accession of James, and, so far as numismatists can discover, no specimen of the alleged leaden tokens now exists. This is the more extraordinary inasmuch as the celebrated Sir Robert Cotton made a suggestion to the Government in 1609 for a legal issue of small coins, alleging that there were then 3,000 persons in London, chiefly victuallers and small traders, and at least as many more in the provinces, who cast yearly £5 a piece in leaden tokens, “whereof nine-tenths”, he said, disappeared in the course of a year. Cotton added that the Crown might gain £10,000 a year by suppressing the abuse; but soon after the presentation of the above “Reasons” the


King, besieged by many courtiers for a grant of a profitable monopoly, conceded to one of them, Lord Harrington, the sole privilege for three years of coining farthing tokens, and a royal proclamation was issued prohibiting the currency of tokens issued by tradesmen. In or about 1622 the Corporation of Bristol solicited the Government for a renewal of their former privilege. In a petition to the Privy Council it was stated that the Bristol Farthings had formerly been of great relief and comfort to the poor, a number of the tokens having been given in alms by charitable people, but that none had been stamped since his Majesty's accession, owing to the royal warrant not having been renewed. It was therefore prayed that, in consideration of the great number of poor in the city, greatly distressed by a recent dearth and a visitation of sickness, their lordships would be pleased to revive the warrant for the stamping of tokens, the petition, it would appear, remained unanswered.

At a meeting of the Privy Council on June 6th a singular letter was indited to the Mayor of Bristol. The Council state that they are being constantly advertised from parts beyond the seas, and particularly from Spain, that the masters of Bristol ships do usually carry into Spain and Portugal such a number of youths and children, of both sexes, under pretence of learning the language, that this emigration is much observed, and by experience found to be corrupting in point of religion and dangerous to the State, owing to the pernicious doctrines instilled by the enemies of this country. The Council cannot excuse the Mayor for his neglect in this matter, and require him thenceforth to be vigilant, and to suffer none to pass over except known merchants and factors and persons licensed by the Government. It is somewhat remarkable that no record of this letter, or of any measures taken to obey its instructions, is to be found at the Council House.

The earliest example of a civic pension occurs in the corporate minutes in July. Muriel, the aged widow of Michael Pepwall, a former mayor, was voted £4 yearly “during the good liking of the Common Council”. In 1616 the widow of John Young, a former sheriff, was granted £2 a year out of the funds of Trinity Hospital. Relief of this kind to impoverished councillors or their relatives subsequently became common.

On the death of the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Treasurer, the Council seems to have been in some perplexity as to the choice of a new High Steward. After considerable delay,


the election fell, in August, upon William, Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain. His lordship was presented in 1618 with a pipe of Canary, and in 1625 he had a gift of another pipe, together with two hogsheads of claret.

A highly interesting donation to the city was offered to the Council on December 7th. Mr. Robert Redwood, a wealthy Bristolian living in St. Leonard's parish, proffered his “lodge near the Marsh” for conversion into a library for the benefit of the citizens; and the gift was thankfully accepted. With one exception - at Norwich - this was the first public library established in England. The donor had probably been in correspondence with Dr. Tobias Matthew, Archbishop of York, born over the shop of his father on Bristol Bridge, and may have been induced by his grace to take the step just recorded. At all events, the Archbishop hastened to forward a number of books drawn from his extensive library, which he desired should be preserved “for the free use of the merchants and shopkeepers of the city”. In January, 1616, the Council resolved that “40s. yearly should be allowed to him that now keepeth the new erected Library”. In a few years the institution became so popular as to require extended accommodation, and in April, 1634, the Corporation determined on its enlargement, “for which, purpose”, says the minute, “Mr. Richard Vickris hath freely given a parcel of ground adjoining the said Library”. A vote of not exceeding £30 was then granted “as well for new building the addition to be made as for repairing the old house”, the money being handed over to a gentleman charged with superintending the work, whose tragic fate was then undreamt of - “Mr. George Butcher” (or Boucher). In 1640, when the extension had been completed, an ironmonger was paid £3 17s. 6d. “for 15 dozen and a half of book chains for the Library”, a mode of protection against thieves that, having regard to the portliness of most of the volumes, seems somewhat superfluous.

On December 12th the Privy Council addressed a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol and other towns, and to the sheriffs of counties, respecting the observance of Lent. Notwithstanding the strict orders previously issued on that subject, the Council found they had been contemptuously neglected, and their lordships directed that an account should be taken of non-observers, and that the magistrates should show a good example in their own families. A second mandate to the same effect was sent down a twelvemonth later. It appears from the Privy


Council minutes that many butchers were prosecuted for selling meat during Lent, while the acting of dramas was suppressed by the threatened imprisonment of the players.

In the spring of 1614, when Parliaments had been dispensed with for three years, during which the King had vainly striven to meet the boundless extravagance of his expenditure by imposing arbitrary Customs duties, and selling monopolies and baronetcies to the best bidder, legislative help was found to be indispensable for the liquidation of the royal debts. The elections evoked an unparalleled spirit of opposition against the nominees of the Government, and the House of Commons met in a state of excitement. The members for Bristol were Alderman Thomas James, whose resistance to the Court has been already noticed, and Alderman John Whitson, who forthwith displayed an equal zeal against abuses. On April 18th, during a debate on the second reading of a Bill “concerning taxes and impositions on merchants”, it was shown that only two or three such impositions were in force at the King's accession, while they now numbered nearly eleven hundred. Mr. Whitson declared that if he had forty hearts they would be all for the Bill. No man could wear a shirt or a band without feeling a grievance. He would rather pay a subsidy every month than allow those imposts to stand. Edward III. once prayed his subjects to pay an imposition from Candlemas to Whitsuntide; he would not have prayed if he had had the power to demand it. Another great debate took place in May when the policy of the Court was again warmly denounced. Some of the Court party having suggested that the House should confer with the King, Whitson protested against the manoeuvre. In presence of his Majesty, he said, none dared speak their thoughts. On the previous day the King had told some of them that no merchant was a groat the worse for impositions, and no man dared reply; yet every merchant felt the smart of the burdens. Unhappily the Commons soon afterwards quarrelled with the Lords on a point of privilege, and the King, seizing this pretext, ordered a dissolution early in June, and declared all the proceedings of the session null and void. The Corporation of Bristol were so satisfied with the conduct of the city members that Alderman James was elected mayor in September, and Alderman Whitson was his successor.

Moved either by intolerance of absentees or by the pressure of aspirants to office, the Council, in April, 1614, dealt summarily with two members who were alleged to be


unable to attend and give their advice in the Chamber, and were in consequence dismissed. Four seats had previously become vacant, and eight candidates appear to have sought for admission. One of those elected was Henry Hobson, host of the Guilders' Inn, already mentioned in connection with the Plague. Another was Humphrey Hooke, a native of Chichester, who acquired a great fortune in mercantile adventures, and eventually purchased Kingsweston and other large estates. In 1616 another councillor was dismissed, “for special causes thereunto moving”. Whether the “special causes” were represented by the six gentlemen who sought election to the vacancy is left to conjecture.

At a meeting of the Council in August, 1614, it was announced that a bequest had been made to the Corporation by the late Mrs. Katherine Butcher, widow of Alderman John Butcher. Owing to the loss of the audit book for the year, the amount of the legacy is unknown, but it was resolved that the money should be devoted to the purchase of a silver gilt “skinker”, and of a similar “bowle; to remain always with the Mayor for the time being”. It was further ordered that, in conformity with Mrs. Butcher's will, a yearly sum of 6s. 8d. should be disbursed for a sermon on the day of each Mayor's election; but this ordinance, like many others, was rescinded in 1703.

The cool manner in which many corporate bodies presumed to levy illegal taxes for their own profit is a marked feature of the age. In August the Council directed a letter to be written to the Mayor of “Lymbrick” and his brethren, requesting them to restore the money they had unlawfully taken from a Bristol merchant under the name of Customs. It was further ordered that if the demand were refused the goods of any Limerick man found in Bristol should be sequestrated to indemnify the person aggrieved, and that similar reprisals should be taken as regarded other Irish ports.

King James, reckless of the signs of the times, was at this period inclined to dispense with Parliaments, and to adopt means of raising money that even the iron government of Henry VIII. had been forced to abandon. In August a letter was addressed by the Privy Council to the Mayor and Sheriffs of Bristol, in common with other towns, demanding a Benevolence, or gift of money or plate, to be presented to the King towards the payment of his ever-increasing debts. All the inhabitants of ability were to be “moved” to contribute generously, and the names of


those who refused to subscribe were to be sent up to the Privy Council. The Corporation appointed a committee in conformity with the mandate, but the Council made no contribution on their own account, and there is no evidence that the wealthy merchants were more liberally disposed. Similar reluctance was displayed in other parts of the kingdom, and, in spite of threats and intimidation, all that could be collected in three years did not exceed £60,000.

At a meeting of the Council in September, three men, one of them a “platemaker”, meaning probably a silversmith, were admitted to the freedom on payment of £2 4s. 6d. each. It was, however, provided that if they, or any others admitted by fine, should open an ale-house without the license of the justices, they should be forthwith disfranchised.

At a time when every branch of trade and commerce was harassed by monopolies conceded to Crown favourites and wealthy confederacies in London, it was natural that local merchants should seek to better their condition by taking part in a system that enriched their rivals. In the summer of this year they applied to the Government for a revival of the license to export calf-skin leather, which had been granted and subsequently withdrawn by Queen Elizabeth (see p.16), and in September the King, doubtless for a valuable consideration, issued letters patent to Alderman Whitson and four other merchants, granting them liberty to export yearly, for forty years, 1,000 dickers (120,000) of tanned calf-skins, a Crown rent of £260 being reserved. For some unexplained reason, this patent was soon afterwards set aside, and a new one granted on the same terms to William Lewis, Customs Searcher, the patentee of 1600, who immediately conceded his privilege to the local merchants in consideration of a yearly rent. The trade thus created in contravention of the statute law was exceedingly profitable for many years. The subject will turn up again in 1640.

Down to this year the only gathering-place for discussing and transacting mercantile business in the city, as well in winter as in summer, was practically the open street. Some protection against inclement weather being thought desirable, the Corporation, in December, entered into an agreement with the vestry of All Saints, by which the latter granted permission for the building of a merchants' Tolzey on that part of Corn Street which adjoined the church, the penthouse to be of the same length and form as the civic


Tolzey opposite, and to be covered with lead. The Corporation laid out about £44 on the work, to which the Merchants' Society also contributed. The new Tolzey was provided, for the conveniency of signing documents and settling accounts, with several brazen-headed pillars, similar to those now standing before the Exchange.

Abuses respecting the use of proxies at the yearly election of officers were dealt with by the Common Council in January, 1615. Certain members having claimed to give votes for several absentees, it was ordered that each person present at an election should have only one voice in addition to his own whilst representing a friend having reasonable cause of absence, and that the authority for this second voice should be in writing.

The first mention of a postman in the local annals occurs in the spring of 1615, when the Chamberlain paid a tradesman 12s. “for cloth to make Packer, the foot-post, a coat”. In 1616 Packer was sent by the same official to Brewham to collect rents, and was paid 3s. 8d. for a journey, out and home, of 60 miles. At the same time there is a record of “Baker the foot-post”, who for travelling to London and back on city business received 13s. 4d. for his pains and expenses. At a somewhat later date there was a payment of £2 2s. “given to the foot-post for his badge”. Whether these men were simply engaged by the Corporation when there was need of a messenger, or made their living by offering their services to the public at large, cannot be determined. No Government postal establishment existed in the provinces until 1635.

In the State Papers for July, 1616, is a curious letter, in the nature of a circular, signed by Sir George Buck, the King's Master of the Revels. It sets forth that his Majesty had been pleased, at the solicitation of the Queen, to appoint a company of youths to perform plays at Bristol and other towns, under the name of the “Youths of Her Majesty's Royal Chamber of Bristol”. [The Queen had been informed during her visit by her local entertainers that by ancient custom the city was entitled to be styled the Queen's Chamber, just as London was called the King's Chamber.] The license to the above effect was granted to John Daniel (brother of Samuel, the well-known poet), who was to bring up the children properly. In April, 1618, permission was given by the Privy Council to three men to act plays in Bristol and other towns under Daniel's patent, the company to stay only fourteen days in each place, and “not to play


during church hours”. Two months later, these players arrived at Exeter and offered an entertainment, but were summarily suppressed by a puritanical mayor. His worship, in a letter to Under-Secretary Coke, stated that he had stopped the Bristol players because their patent was only for children and youths, whereas most of them were men; nevertheless, as they were appealing to the Court, he was willing they should play if such was the pleasure of the Privy Council, “although those who spend their money on plays are ordinarily very poor people”. In the autumn following, the Corporation of Bristol gave 21s. to “Sir George Buck's players”, possibly the same party.

In August, 1615, Sir Laurence Hyde resigned the Recordership, and the Council forthwith appointed his more celebrated brother, Nicholas, afterwards Chief Justice, as his successor. The election was informal, as an ancient ordinance required the Recorder to have been a reader at one of the Inns of Court; but powerful influence was privately exercised, and the rule was set aside “for this time only”.

At the same meeting, the Council dealt with a grievous offender, one Matthew Cable, a member of a family long resident in St. Thomas's parish. It was ordered that unless Cable, then a prisoner in Newgate, did in open session humbly submit himself to the Mayor, and acknowledge his great fault in uttering lewd words against his worship whilst being carried to prison, he should be indicted and punished at the next gaol delivery. The assize records nave unfortunately perished.

It would be tedious to narrate all the vexatious annoyances inflicted on merchants through the persecutions of the royal purveyors. In the hope of a respite the Corporation offered at this time a gift of £110 to the King's grocer, on condition of his demanding no purveyance of grocery for the remainder of his life, and a bargain was struck to that effect. The relief was for freemen only, “foreigners” being left to the tender mercy of the extortioner.

The grotesque headgear still worn on State occasions by the civic swordbearer was an established institution in 1615, when it was a somewhat expensive adornment. A new “hat of maintenance” was purchased this year, the fur and trimmings of which cost £8 6s., equivalent to about £40 in modern currency, and 17s. were paid for a box to preserve it. The office of swordbearer was one of great dignity, and


the salary attached to it of £20 (exclusive of numerous fees) equalled that of the Recorder. Occasionally, too, the holder turned his place into a sinecure by appointing a poorly paid deputy. The Mayor's head covering was still more costly than that of his henchman. In 1621 a new hat of crimson velvet with gold lace embroidery, etc., cost £10 9s., but its box was provided for 10s.

An indication of increasing reverence for what Puritanism styled the Sabbath is observable in the minutes of a Council meeting in October. Previously, the premises of vintners, victuallers, and ale-house keepers appear to have been open throughout Sundays; but it was now decreed that no eating or drinking should be permitted in such places between eight o'clock in the morning and five in the evening, except for two hours in the middle of the day; and the same restriction was imposed on the selling of fruit by hucksters and boatmen. Some general police regulations were also resolved upon. No cart or car having wheels bound with iron was to be admitted within the walls, except those which stood at St. Peter's “plump” and at the end of Broadmead. Wood for fuel was to come in on drays (sledges) only. As coal was brought only on the backs of horses and asses, it escaped supervision. Hay, however, was a frequent difficulty. In 1617 a payment was made for letting down the portcullis at Temple Gate to debar the entrance of hay wains; and as 23s. were spent a few weeks later for repairing the portcullis at Redcliff Gate, it was doubtless made use of for the same purpose.

A revolt of the Bakers' Company against the city authorities caused much excitement towards the close of the year. Irritated by the restrictions which the magistrates imposed upon prices, and by the competition of the country bakers authorized by the Council (see p.22), the bakers, by dint of a heavy bribe sent to Court, obtained from the King a special grant of incorporation with power to frame their own laws, by which they proposed to set the civic body at defiance and to establish a lucrative monopoly. The new charter, however, required the Master of the Company to be sworn in before the Mayor and Aldermen, and on the bench insisting on certain conditions the Master-elect refused to take the oath, while his brethren, to support him, threatened to close their shops. Alderman Whitson, then Mayor, was nevertheless equal to the crisis. Two “foreign” bakers, one at Wrington and the other at Portbury, received permission to bring in as much bread as they chose, and, as


the twopenny loaf thus supplied was half a pound heavier than that of the Bristol men, the latter were compelled to change their tactics. After an interval, however, they again attempted to put their new charter into operation, whereupon, in 1619, the Corporation instituted a suit against them in the Star Chamber. The Privy Council then took the matter in hand, and their lordships resolved, in November, that the King's charter was against all good policy, the bakers having availed themselves of it to diminish the size of their bread and to shut out their country competitors, who had served the city time out of mind. The Attorney-General was therefore ordered to take legal step to annul the charter, leaving the bakers to be governed by the Corporation as in former times. The triumphant city authorities next resolved on prosecuting the bakers for their conduct before the King's charter was revoked, but the Privy Council ordered the judges of assize to stop the proceedings. The State Papers for July, 1621, contain a petition of the bakers to the Privy Council, praying for protection, but it was left unanswered. Being at length compelled to capitulate, the Company were granted a new ordinance by the Common Council in 1623, imposing some strange restrictions both on themselves and the public. The only kinds of bread permitted to be made for sale were white and household bread, and biscuits. Buns or cakes, if produced, were liable to confiscation, except during Lent, when cracknells and symnals might also be sold. No baker was to open two shops or to employ a “foreigner” as journeyman. Four “foreign” bakers living at or near Pensford were to be licensed by the Mayor to bring in five horse-loads of leavened bread twice a week, but were to sell only at the High Cross, and not to hawk in the streets. Finally, no innholder or victualler was allowed to bring in country bread, or even to bake in their own houses, under pain of a heavy fine! In 1624 the Company resolved that no bread of any kind should be sold to hucksters to sell again. Of twenty-two members who signed this agreement ten could not write their own names.

The State Papers for 1615 include a document endorsed:- “The Surveyes of the Forest of Kingswood and Chase of Fillwood”, drawn up by one John Norden, who with others had been appointed by the King as commissioners to inquire into the state of those royal possessions. It is evident from Norden's statements that the woods in question, through the neglect or more probably the suborned apathy of the


royal officers employed there for a long series of years, had been practically lost to the Crown and appropriated by neighbouring landowners. In Plantagenet times the King was the sole proprietor, and, as records testify, was wont to grant timber for building purposes to religious houses in Bristol. In 1615 the claims put forward by local landlords, says the report, “swallowed up the whole forest, not allowing his Majesty the breadth of a foot”, and the profits of the timber, soil, coal-mines, etc., were carried off from the King by those who had usurped his rights. Nothing, in fact, was left to the Crown but the herbage for the deer, and even this was in jeopardy, as every “pretended owner” cut down and consumed the “vert” at his pleasure, in despite of law. Four keepers were maintained, each with a separate “walk”, but instead of the 2,000 deer that had once roamed through the woods, the men admitted that none of them had more than about a hundred under his charge. The keepers had deserted their lodges, the oldest of which was in ruins, while another, in the principal part of the forest, had been appropriated by Mr. Richard Berkeley, who had converted it for his own profit into an alehouse, haunted by poachers and thieves. Each keeper had 40s. a year, and the ranger under Sir George Chaworth, Constable of Bristol Castle and Master of the Game, had a salary of £3 8s. 1½d. which sums were paid by the Sheriffs of Bristol. “Sheep and goats, most pernicious cattle in a forest, make a far greater show than his Majesty's game”. The goats had spoiled an infinite number of holly trees, “the chief browse”, by barking them; the colliers had destroyed many more, using them to support the workings, and large spaces had been laid waste by the throwing about of pit refuse. In former times the keepers used to cut down oak boughs as food for the deer, but this was now forbidden by the pretended owners, as was the cutting of bush browse; and the herds, from want of nourishment, were consuming away. The number of cottages that had been erected far exceeded the needs of the coal-mines, and the inhabitants, who paid rent to the assumed landlords, committed great spoil. The value of the coal carried out of the forest was alleged by witnesses to be about £200 yearly, but Norden had been informed privately that it was worth at least £500. A man named Player farmed the whole of the coalpits, and the report suggested that he should be inhibited until he proved his pretended rights. Thomas Chester, who claimed a portion of the Chase, had cut down forty great


trees, and had lately sold about forty more to a Bristolian, though the land was said to belong to the King. The total area of the forest was estimated at 4,297 acres, of which Chester made claim to 1,380, Lord Berkeley and Lady Newton to 1,350, Sir Henry Billingsley to 810, and Richard Berkeley to 540. The remainder, about 200 acres, was alleged to belong to a Mr. Weston, Ralph Sadler, Lady Stafford, Sir R. Lacy, and one Evans, of Bitton. Turning to Fillwood Chase, on the south side of the Avon, and anciently appurtenant to Kingswood, Norden was unable to determine its true boundaries, owing to ages of neglect, but he believed that Bedminster, Bisford (Bishport), Knowle, Whitchurch, and Norton Malreward were formerly within the perambulation, as those places paid, or should pay, 32s. yearly for what was called wood-lease-silver, supposed to belong to Bristol Castle in right of the forest, but now chiefly received by one Chester for his master's use. It was proved on oath that in former times the deer, crossing the Avon from Kingswood, used to feed freely as far as Dundry hills, but the bounds had been altered, the old names of places forgotten, and the King's lands lost. One Hugh Smyth, uncle of the living Sir Hugh Smyth, once impaled a park there, but the palings had since been carried to Ashton. Certain lands, retaining the name of Fillwood, were 249 acres in extent, and of about £209 yearly value, and the estimated value of the timber thereon was £1,300. If the entire estate were in the King's hands it was estimated to yield £5,487, exclusive of land and a common near Whitchurch, worth £4,000, which were probably part of the Chase, though claimed by Sir Hugh Smyth. There was also a common of 200 acres called Bristleton (Brislington) Heath, supposed to be part of the Chase, with coal-mines there; but the neighbouring landowners were turning the whole to their own profit. The Government took no action upon this report, and the “ pretended owners” were practically left undisturbed until 1661, under which year the subject will be continued. In the Record Office are some depositions taken at Bristol Castle in September, 1629, the only interesting feature of which is the evidence of one of the rangers respecting a singular right of himself and his brother officers. They were entitled, he swore, by ancient custom, to take a toll called conducting money, or cheminage, at Lawford's Gate, from all passengers bringing in or carrying away goods in wains, carts, or pack-saddles, to or from the great fairs of


the city, the privilege extending from nine days before St. Paul's tide to Lady Day (about ten weeks), and from a fortnight before St. James's tide to St. Lawrence's Day (about six weeks). The toll was fourpence for a wheeled vehicle and a penny for a pack-horse.

The year 1616 was singularly uneventful in a local point of view. In the absence of subjects of serious import, the citizens resolved upon challenging the merchants and traders of Exeter to a shooting match, and the details of the subsequent competition are related with somewhat tedious minuteness in what is known as “Adams's Chronicle”. In brief the story is as follows. The Devonians having accepted the challenge, a party of fifteen Bristol marksmen, gallantly arrayed, and accompanied by Sheriff Tomlinson, two captains, and about forty worshipful men, set off on horseback on May 27th, and arrived next day at their destination, where they were cordially welcomed and sumptuously feasted. On the 29th the visitors had a private trial of their muskets, but a spy gave an account of their skill to the opposite party, and on the 30th, when the match should have come off, the Exeter men fell to wrangling, and nothing was done. In the evening the visitors were entertained by the Sheriff of Exeter, and so plentifully supplied with burnt sack that “the young wilful heads” spent nearly all the night in drinking healths, while the Exeter men stayed soberly at home. The morning bringing much sickness, fatigue, and reflection, the Bristolians seriously thought of returning forthwith, but the jeers of their hosts supplied the needful stimulus, and the match at length began. In the result, the Exeter men were adjudged to be the victors by “two rounds to one”, and the wager of one hundred nobles was consequently awarded them. In other respects the Bristolians had nothing to complain of. They were not suffered to expend a penny in the city, and they, in return, distributed £100 amongst the local officers and poor. On July 1st the Exeter marksmen arrived in Bristol for the return match, being met four miles off by 300 horse, escorted to the Bear Inn, and bountifully feasted. Next day butts were erected in College Green, but on the 3rd, when the Mayor and Council, knights and gentry, had assembled to witness the competition, it was not until after a long delay that the visitors could be induced to present themselves. Shooting then began during a severe gale, in consequence of which, out of fifty-two shots on each side, the Bristolians made but seven hits and their rivals only five.


The contest was renewed next morning in calm weather, when the home team scored three and their opponents nothing. “So our men were best, second, and third, won the three rounds, and £100, besides much bets, all of which was spent upon them (the Exonians), and £100 to double repay their courtesy; our captains not suffering them to give aught to any officer or poor in our city”.

At the gaol delivery this year the horrible punishment of the peine forte et dure was inflicted upon a prisoner who refused to plead to his indictment in proper form, and insisted on being tried “by God and Somersetshire”. Being taken back to Newgate, the prisoner was placed under the pressure of heavy weights, which were gradually increased until life was extinct.

A curious contest for precedency in the Common Council arose at Michaelmas on the conclusion of Alderman Whitson's second mayoralty. Mr. Whitson proposed to resume his previous place as senior alderman, but was withstood by Alderman Thomas James, on the ground that as he (James) had twice filled the chair before a similar honour was conferred on Whitson, he was entitled to priority; while Whitson contended that he was James's senior by four years in the aldermanic office. The struggle appears to have ended in a personal conflict, in which Whitson was worsted. The Court of Aldermen at once took the dispute into serious consideration, and as the members were divided in opinion, a case was drawn up for presentation to Garter King-at-Arms. That official soon afterwards decided in favour of Whitson, on the ground that as both the parties had been twice mayor, precedence must be given to seniority in the position of magistrate. In August, 1617, the Council practically carried out this judgment by requesting James to take rank after his rival until he could show his right to the premier position. James's death, a few months later, put an end to the controversy.

The city treasurer led a somewhat adventurous life at this period. Some hint having been received from London that a portion of the King's debts for wine and provisions might be recovered by due supplication, the chamberlain was despatched to make the needful effort. Two long and weary journeys proved fruitless, but a third had better success. He credits himself as follows in his accounts:- “My charges in my journey to London, being out forty days, and for horse hire, boat hire, diet, and other charges at the Court, £10 2s. 6d”. Certainly a moderate sum for so lengthy a


sojourn. The sum of £417 (less than a third of the debt) was, however, recovered, but not without liberal bribing, the King's cofferers receiving £20 and the Queen's secretary £11, while many tips were exacted by subordinates. Encouraged by this result, the treasurer made two more journeys in the same economical manner, and got £400 on one occasion, but only £64 on the other. The latter sum represented part of the money due for the wines sent to Woodstock eleven years before. The “gratuities” wrung from the Chamberlain by Court underlings before the cash could be received amounted to £26 16s. 6d., besides which Sir Robert Fludd, “for his pains”, had a present in gold of £55 and a barrel of sack, whilst £10 17s. 6d. were extorted by an officer of the Exchequer.

It was stated in a previous page that the Corporation, in 1605, flung the work of cleansing the streets upon the inhabitants. For many subsequent years the authorities washed their hands of the matter, and the state of the city when the Queen was about to visit it has been already shown. The filth at last becoming intolerable, the Council, in April, 1617, adopted “the Raker” as a public servant, and voted him a salary of £30 a year, in return for which he was expected to sweep the thoroughfares, remove the refuse, and keep the entire city in proper order. (See November, 1629).

Having erected a Tolzey for the mercantile classes, the Corporation, in 1617, resolved on the reconstruction of the similar penthouse adjoining the Council House, reserved for transacting civic business. This building was considerably increased in height for the admission of five upper lights, and the outlay amounted to about £150. On the completion of the work an order was given for furnishing the Council Room and Tolzey with green cloth “carpets” - not as coverings for the floor, which were then deemed superfluous, but as drapery for the tables. A few years later two of the brazen pillars now standing before the Exchange were presented to the Corporation by two citizens, Thomas Hobson and George White, and were placed in this Tolzey as companions to the two others of more ancient date.

Great distress prevailed amongst the poor during the closing months of 1617, and continued throughout the following year. The Corporation advanced £200, and opened a house in Temple Street for the employment of children in the manufacture of “kersey”, while additional rates were levied for the relief of adults. As was the


invariable fate of corporate industrial enterprises, the kersey works proved a failure, and were soon abandoned. A singular mode of affording help to the poor crops up in this and several following years. The Council took no steps to reduce the high price of bread, but they evinced much anxiety to provide the commons with cheap butter. Large purchases were made every year of this article, which was sold by retail at, and often below, the wholesale price, a little loss being apparently deemed unimportant, provided the community were kept in good humour. An explanation of this policy will be found later on.

One of the many obnoxious monopolies granted by James I. was that excluding merchants generally from trading to Turkey and the Levant, that privilege being conceded only to a body of wealthy Londoners styled the Levant or Turkey Company, who reaped enormous profits from the public by charging excessive prices for dried fruits and other eastern merchandise. It may be assumed, though no positive proof exists of the fact, that the Bristol Society of Merchants, who had vainly claimed the right of free trading conferred on them by their charter, at length set the monopolists at defiance by despatching a ship to the East, and by bringing in a cargo of the prohibited articles. At all events, they were being sued by the Levant Company in the early months of 1618, and Alderman Whitson, with a worthy companion, Mr. John Barker, was sent to London to maintain the justice of their cause before the Privy Council. On investigation, the Government found that the terms of the charter of Edward VI. to Bristol merchants could not be wholly ignored, and the State Papers show that an Order in Council was issued in March, granting the Bristolians permission, “on trial for three years”, to import 200 tons of currants yearly from the Venetian (Ionian) islands, notwithstanding the Levant Company's monopoly, they paying the latter body 6s. 8d. per ton on the fruit. The concession had doubtless been obtained by financial expedients, then indispensable at Court, and the expenses of the two deputies were very large. That the Earl of Pembroke, Lord High Steward, had proved a helpful friend is indicated by the present to him of two pipes of Canary by the Corporation and the merchants. No time was lost in fitting out a ship, though but of 160 tons; and the voyage was so successful that two vessels sailed in the following year, carrying out cargoes And money to the then enormous value of £5,400, Nothing


more is heard for nearly half a century about the three years' trial, and little note seems to have been taken of the prescribed maximum of 200 tons. William Colston, the father of Edward, was carrying on an extensive and lucrative traffic with the fruit islands, when the Levant Company made a renewed attempt to exclude Bristolians from the trade. See 1665.

The appetite of the members of the Corporation for religious lectures seems to have been sharpened by what it fed on. The lectureship maintained at St. Nicholas' Church out of funds drawn from the city parishes having become vacant in March, 1618, the Council ordered that a learned man should be procured from Oxford or Cambridge to supply the vacancy and to lecture on two days a week. The stipend was £52 a year. A satisfactory candidate was not found till the autumn of 1619, when Thomas Tucker, B.D. (having a certificate of competency from Dr. Laud), was appointed with the approval of the Bishop. The Council, to provide the new-comer with a house, then increased the salary by £6, abstracting that sum out of the rental of the Bartholomew Lands, held in trust for the Grammar School!

An early mention of the Penn family occurs in a memorial addressed to the Privy Council by the Corporation in June, 1618, on behalf of Giles and William Penn, local merchants. The document prayed protection for five years for the Penns, who had been reduced to ruin through misfortunes, and who proposed to go oversea, with the help of some mercantile friends, to seek the recovery of large debts due to them. This project, it was added, was being thwarted by a few of their creditors, who refused them, license to embark. The Privy Council, in a reply addressed to the Mayor, Alderman Doughty, and others, granted the prayer of the petition, and requested them to call the objectors before them and move them to more charitable conduct. If they still were refractory their names were to be sent to the Council, a hint likely to remove all obstacles. Giles Penn, who afterwards became a captain in the Royal Navy, was the father of Admiral Sir William Penn, and the grandfather of the founder of Pennsylvania.

The northern limits of the city still extended no further than St. James's Barton. A deed of 1579, in referring to Stokes Croft, describes it as a field containing one little lodge and a garden; but there was a footpath through the ground, and in 1618 the city paviour received sixpence


from the Chamberlain “for mending holes at Stokes Croft style”.

The legal profession does not appear to have been much esteemed by the Corporation. It was ordered in September that, there being six attorneys practising in the court of the Guildhall, whereas of ancient time there were only four, no new election should take place until after the number had been reduced to the old standard. It may be added that free burgesses were not allowed to raise actions against each other in the courts at Westminster. In 1617 two citizens were fined £10 each for this “offence”, which was stated to be in violation of their burgess oath and of the charters.

An extraordinary ordinance respecting the manufacture of soap was made by the Council in November. It was decreed that no soapmaker should thenceforth boil any oil or stuff other than olive oil, under a penalty of £10, and that in default of payment he should be committed to gaol till he paid the money. This outrageous attempt to promote the interests of merchants trading to Southern Europe evidently aroused indignation. A month later the ordinance was repealed, but another was adopted, forbidding makers of black soap to boil train and rape oil and tallow, under pain of a fine of £40 for a first offence and of disfranchisement for a second. After an interval of only five weeks this decree made way for a third, which affirmed, in bold defiance of the truth, that olive oil had always been the only oil used by honest makers in producing black soap, and that the use of rape and train oil and tallow had been devised by evil-disposed and covetous persons to the injury of the commonwealth. A penalty of £40 was imposed on any one using those “noisome and unwholesome” materials, and on any one buying or selling such “base” soap. The searchers of the Soapmakers' Company were to have £4 out of every fine, and the rest was to be divided between the Company and the Corporation. Another ordinance to the same effect, but reducing the penalty by two-thirds, was issued in 1624, indicating that the regulations had been ignored by manufacturers. On this occasion a show of vigour was thought desirable, and Henry Yate, a Common Councillor, was fined £10 for contemptuously making soap of rape oil and other base stuff. The ordinance afterwards became obsolete.

A renewed attempt was made in 1618 to further the colonization of Newfoundland. Some Bristol merchants


obtained a grant of land there from the London and Bristol Chartered Company (see p.39), and resolved on the establishment of a settlement, to be called “Bristol Hope”, apparently not far distant from Guy's little colony at Sea Forest. The project, however, like its forerunner, was abandoned after a few years 7 trial.

A characteristic defiance of popular feeling on the part of James I. was the issue by his orders, in 1618, of what was styled the Book of Sports, which the incumbent of every church was required to read from the pulpit and to assist in carrying into effect. After requiring Romanists and Puritans to conform to the Church, the royal rescript enjoined that those who attended divine service should not be disturbed on Sunday afternoons in their lawful recreations, such as archery, dancing, football, leap-frog, vaulting, etc; neither were they to be prevented from enjoying May games around the maypole, Whitsun ales, and morrice dancing at Christmas. Sunday bear and bull-baiting, and the playing of interludes, were, however, forbidden, as was bowling “by the meaner sort of people”. The mandate was received with speechless horror by the bulk of religious-minded people, and unquestionably promoted the growth of Puritanism in Bristol and other populous centres. Perhaps there is no more striking proof of the wilful blindness of Charles I. in defying the feelings of the nation than his republication of this Book of Sports in October, 1633, with an additional and highly offensive clause, permitting the holding of yearly wakes, or ale drinkings, around parish churches on the feast of the saint to whom the building was dedicated. In May, 1643, the detested book was burned by the common hangman, by order of Parliament.

Another device of the Government for arbitrarily extorting money from the mercantile community aroused much excitement about this time. One of the crying evils of James's reign was the constant seizure of merchant vessels by corsairs sailing out of Algiers, Sallee and Tunis, who not only plundered the ships, but carried off the crews to languish in slavery for life, unless large sums were offered for their ransom, the English Government meanwhile treating these iniquities with perfect unconcern. In 1617 the Privy Council, in a letter to the Mayor of Bristol, after stating that within a few years 300 sail of ships, with many hundreds of English sailors, had been captured by the Turks, and that the merchants of London had offered to raise £40,000 to assist the King in suppressing the evil,


requested that the hearty support of Bristol should be given to the movement. For some unknown reason, this demand was not followed up for nearly two years. But in January, 1619, the Privy Council again addressed the Mayor, requiring that the local merchants should be assembled and asked to subscribe liberally towards an intended expedition, the writers adding that the contribution must not be less than £2,500, and that half the amount must be forthcoming within two months. (Exeter, Plymouth and Dartmouth were assessed at £1,000 each, and Hull at £600.) The mandate excited general dissatisfaction. The ravages of the pirates were, indeed, incontestable; the brigands often swarmed at the mouth of the Bristol Channel, and the city was frequently appealed to for subscriptions to redeem captives. But the task of suppressing the robbers was a national one; and if the Royal Navy was incapable of dealing with it the blame rested with a Government which, with double the income enjoyed by Elizabeth, profligately squandered its resources, and had spurned the advice of Parliament for nearly eight years. Who could feel certain, moreover, that the money thus arbitrarily demanded would not be diverted to some unworthy purpose? These objections, of course, could not be publicly expressed, but when the mandate of the Privy council was laid before a meeting of the merchants, they declared that the sum required was wholly beyond their capacity; they had sustained great misfortunes by the loss of five valuable ships, and the utmost they could contribute was £600. In replying to the Government, the Mayor, foreseeing the wrath that would be excited by the response, stated that he had addressed earnest persuasions to the leading citizens, and had raised £400 more, which was all that could be obtained. The Privy Council promptly expressed surprise at the backwardness of Bristol when other and inferior towns were, it was alleged, displaying zeal. Their lordships added that no part of the assessment could be remitted, and the Mayor was directed to deal with the merchants “effectually”. Another order followed, peremptorily requiring a remittance of half the impost, or the appearance at Court of the Mayor and two aldermen to answer for their negligence. The Mayor, Alderman Whitson and Alderman Barker thereupon departed for London, with £1,000 in hand, while other delegates went up on behalf of the Merchants' Society. The deputations specially prayed that the loans made by the city to the


King, still outstanding, together with the large sums expended in equipping ships to suppress piracy in the Bristol Channel, should be taken into account; and relief was also sought in consideration of the losses borne by the merchants in providing wine for the King at Woodstock and the Queen at Bath. These pleas were scornfully rejected, and, strangely enough, the Privy Council even refused to accept the £1,000 tendered on account, and dismissed the suppliants to their homes with threats as to future proceedings. The intended expedition was afterwards postponed for a year. In February, 1620, the Government renewed its demands, informing the Mayor that no abatement or further delay could be tolerated. The merchants then held another meeting, and repeated their previous allegations of poverty and inability, and the Mayor stamped these statements as truthful, asserting that the citizens had lost £8,000 in a single year by shipwrecks and pirates. But the excuses were of no avail, and the Government eventually extracted the full amount it had imposed. About £1,000 was raised on loans, which were gradually cleared off by levying local dues on shipping and merchandise. The expedition, which did not sail until October, 1620, ended, like most of James's enterprises, in disgraceful failure, through lack of gunpowder and provisions.

The city waits, four in number, have been already mentioned. In January, 1619, the Council thought that the band needed strengthening, and resolved to give 26s. 8d. a year “to a fifth man, to play with the other musitions of the dty on the saggebutt, to make up a fifth part”.

Early in the year, the Earl of Arundel, the premier peer of the realm and an influential member of the Privy Council, paid a visit to Bristol, and met with what he regarded as a cold reception from the authorities. The latter, getting a hint of his discontent, and knowing his influence at Court, gave orders to a comfit maker for a quantity of sweetmeats; but his lordship, unappeased by the tardy compliment, rejected the present, and departed in dudgeon. Making the best of the rebuff, the Corporation bargained with the confectioner to take his cates back again on payment of 10s. The Earl's displeasure was but temporary, for in 1621 the Council bestowed £11 on his secretary “for painstaking towards the city business”.

The Corporation displayed abnormal zeal about this period in providing the trained bands with arms,


ammunition, and armour. The previous provision was for twenty men, but new corslets, head-pieces, muskets, pikes and swords were laid in for thirty additional soldiers. The corslets cost 22s. 6d. each, and the muskets from 12s. to 15s. A new ensign was bought for £8 5s., a drum for £2 12s., and half a ton of gunpowder (stored in the old Council House at the Guildhall!) at 9½d. per pound.

In July, 1619, James I. made a grant under sign manual to the Mayor and Corporation of Bath, permitting them to make the Avon navigable from Bristol to their city for the carriage of merchandise, and to receive the profits therefrom. Though nothing was done, or apparently attempted, to carry out the project, it was long a cherished idea of the Bathonians. (See 1666.)

An odd proposal was made by the Privy Council in December. writing to the Mayor and Aldermen, their lordships stated that the King, before granting a Corporation to Waterford, was desirous of seeing some additional Englishmen in the place, and directed inquiries to be made as to the willingness of any Bristolians to settle there and form part of the new corporation. Such persons should be worth £1,000 each, or £500 at the least, and should be of good temper, not turbulent or violent, so that they might take their turns in the magistracy. The reply of the justices has not been preserved, and there is no record of any migration.

Alderman Matthew Haviland, one of the wealthiest of local merchants, died in March, 1620. By a remarkable instruction given in his will, he desired that his body, instead of being interred in his parish church, like those of other city magnates, should be buried in St. Werburgh's churchyard, “without a coffin, if I may”. Another custom of the time was to give black cloaks to as many poor persons as represented the age of the deceased; but Mr. Haviland ordered that gowns of russet cloth should be bestowed on only twelve “honest men”, with 12d. each for their funeral dinners. If, however, the cloth could not be had, thirty such men were to be clothed in frieze gowns. The popular Puritan vicar, Mr. Yeamans, was bequeathed a legacy for preaching a funeral sermon on a text named in the will, and £4 yearly were left for preaching twelve sermons to the prisoners in Newgate.

The creation by the King of new monopolies was of constant occurrence. A monopoly of making tobacco pipes having been sold to a company in London, a royal


proclamation was issued in May, 1620, forbidding any one from violating the terms of the patent by manufacturing pipes or buying from unlawful makers, and threatening offenders with fine and imprisonment. A few months later, a similar proclamation was issued in connection with a monopoly just granted to Londoners for the exclusive making of starch. Both these industries were then largely prosecuted in Bristol, and the grievance caused by the royal policy must have been keenly felt. The monopolies continued until they were dealt with by the Long Parliament. By that time smoking had become so prevalent that the House of Commons, in July, 1644, passed an Ordinance, imposing an excise duty on “tobacco pipes of all sorts, to be paid by the first buyer, for every grosse four pence”.

The first local bookseller of whom there is authentic record is mentioned in the Council minutes for June, 1620. One Eliazer Edgar petitioned for the freedom, “only for the using of the trade of binding and selling of books”, and he was admitted on payment of £4.

With a view to employing the prisoners confined in Bridewell, the Corporation, in September, set up a “Brassil” [logwood?] mill in the building at a cost of about £45. How the machine was put in action does not appear.

In October the Corporation granted a new lease for thirty-one years to the Master and Company of Innholders of a tenement, containing two chambers, called the Innholders' Hall, situate in Broad Street, “near the Tennis Court there” - an interesting reference to a place of amusement at that spot, of which this is the earliest record, though a tennis-court had existed near Bell Lane previous to 1568. In December, 1662, the Corporation, on payment of a fine of £80, granted a new lease of the tennis-court and an adjoining house for a term of forty-one years at a rent of £4 6s. 8d. yearly.

The vegetable market had up to this period been held chiefly in High Street; but a corporate ordinance was issued in October forbidding the sale of carrots, cabbages, and turnips in that thoroughfare, and requiring dealers to resort to Wine Street only. As the pillory in the latter street was frequently in requisition, handy missiles were thus provided for the rabble, which rarely failed to pelt offenders with merciless severity.

The early efforts of Sir Ferdinando Gorges to promote the colonization of America were noticed at page 27. After some years' inaction, Gorges petitioned for and was


conceded, in November, 1620, a new royal patent incorporating what was commonly styled “the Council for New England”, to which James I. made the extraordinary grant of the whole of North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, lying between the 40th and 48th degrees of latitude. A practically free trade with England was conceded to the colonists, with exclusive rights of fishing on the east coast. The earliest extant document relating to the incorporation is a letter of the Privy Council to the Mayors of Bristol and other Western towns, dated September 18th, 1621, stating that although the Company had offered every facility to merchants to partake in their privileges by becoming members, yet unauthorized persons had intruded in the trade to New England and fished on the coast, and requesting the Mayors to give warning that future offenders would be severely punished. The Mayor of Bristol forwarded the missive to the Merchants' Society, accompanying it with an elaborate document that he had received from Sir F. Gorges (then staying with Sir Hugh Smyth at Long Ashton). From the latter paper it appears that the Company wished to farm out its privileges to a separate joint-stock concern, having subsidiary branches at Bristol, Exeter, etc., the whole to be under the supervision of the New England Council, who demanded a share of the profits. The scheme was regarded by the Bristol merchants, who invariably shunned joint-stock companies, as unpractical and unworkable, and, in spite of an expostulatory letter from Gorges, followed up by a personal conference with him, he was informed through the Mayor on October 13th that the Merchants' Company found the details of his plan so “difficult” that, in the absence from home of several members, they could arrive at no conclusion until they received further explanations; but that they hoped in the meantime they would be permitted to fish, on undertaking to pay a proportion of the profits. About the same date some leading members of the Merchants' Society wrote to the members for the city, then in London, stating that they “in no wise liked” Gorges' propositions, yet, in consequence of the failure of the Newfoundland fishery, some Bristolians were anxious to make a trial of the new grounds, and Gorges had offered to grant a ship the perpetual privilege of fishing for a payment of £10 for each 30 tons burthen, or £60 for a ship of 160 tons. Some being willing to adventure on these terms, the writers desired that the New England charter might be perused to


discover whether the Council had really power to restrain fishing on the coast. The answer to this letter has not been preserved. In December, 1622, Sir. F. Gorges and his colleagues addressed a letter to the Mayor, stating that, although the Privy Council had just rigorously forbidden any invasion of the Company's privileges, they were still willing to grant licenses to trade and to fish on reasonable conditions, and desired the fact might be made known. Another proposition was also forwarded by the Company, by which every person who adventured £12 10s. in their settlement was offered a free gift of 200 acres of land in fee; while, to defray the cost of transporting the adventurer's family, he was promised 100 acres for each soul carried out, at a chief rent of only on. To promote the success of the colony, the King, in December, 1623, sent a letter to the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and Bristol, and the justices and deputy-lieutenants, urging them to move persons of quality and means to advance a plantation so especially advantageous to the trade of the Western counties. A copy of this missive was sent by Lord Pembroke to the Mayor, urging compliance with the royal request; but the mercantile community seem to have made no response. After the death of Sir Hugh Smyth, in 1627, Sir Ferdinando Gorges married his widow, and in right of her jointure became temporary owner of the Great House on St. Augustine's Back. In a letter written in that mansion on April 6th, 1632, the gallant knight refers to a sport that is known to have been popular amongst the gentry of the time, though never mentioned by local annalists. He was prevented, he told a friend in London, from travelling to town, having “taken a fall” from his horse at a race meeting, and was unable to move. Almost the last mention of Gorges in the State Papers occurs in a charter granted to him on March 29th, 1639, when he was upwards of seventy years of age, by which Charles I. conceded to him and his heirs the entire province of Maine, New England, with the islands thereto appertaining, with a reservation to the Crown of a fifth part of the gold and silver-mines and of the pearl fishery, together with a yearly rent of one quarter of wheat.

The “Articles and Decrees” of the Company of St. Stephen's Ringers appear to have been drawn up in the closing months of 1620; but it is clear from the tenor of some of the rules that the Society was even then an ancient institution. Like the Fraternity of St. Mary of the


Bellhouse, who had a chapel and chantry priest in St. Peter's Church, the Ringers had been probably a pre-Reformation guild for religious, benevolent, and social purposes. In 1620 the members were still exclusively bell-ringers, and the 22nd article of their “Ordinary” indicates the feeling that survived amongst them. “If any one of the said Company shall be so rude as to run into the belfry before he do kneel down and pray, ... he shall pay, for the first offence, sixpence, and for the second he shall be cast out of the Company”. Each “freeman”, or member, on being admitted gave a breakfast to the brethren, or paid down 3s. 4d., and afterwards contributed a penny per quarter to the Society's funds. On Michaelmas Day, between five and eight o'clock in the morning, the Fraternity were required to meet for the election of a master and two wardens for the ensuing year. Three members were to be put in nomination for the former, and four for the latter office, and the man selected as master was to contribute two shillings towards a breakfast for those assembled, whilst the new wardens were to give the master a pint of wine apiece. But the great yearly gathering of the Company was fixed, as it continues to be, for November 17th, the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth, who is traditionally said to have been charmed by the sweet peals of the St. Stephen's Ringers on her visit to the city, and to whom they have always rendered exceptional honour. The early minute-books of the Society have been lost. The earliest known master was Thomas Atkins, elected in 1681.

The Bishop of Bristol, Dr. Searchfield, made an appeal to the citizens in December on behalf of the parochial clergy, pointing to their inadequate stipends, and suggesting that an application should be made to Parliament for an increase in their incomes. His action gave offence to the Common Council, which passed a resolution declaring that similar attempts had been made on sundry previous occasions, and that, as the livings had of late increased in value, there was less cause than ever for the course proposed, which would be vigorously opposed by the Corporation. The incumbents thereupon appealed for relief to the Privy Council, stating that the directions, formerly given by their lordships for an increase of their incomes had not been acted upon, and praying that they might be repeated. The petitioners were, they alleged, in great poverty, no single benefice yielding more than £8 or £10 yearly, although all


in superstitious times gave a sufficient maintenance to a learned man. The Privy Council, in March, 1621, sent this petition to the Bishop and the Mayor, requesting them, until further orders, to persuade the burgesses and men of ability to contribute towards the maintenance of the ministers, “especially of those who are preachers” - a proof that some were still remiss in their duties. The names and abilities of persons refusing to subscribe were to be sent up to the Council. Notwithstanding the implied threat, no evidence is to be found that the order was obeyed.

A general election took place in December, when Alderman Whitson and Alderman John Guy were returned for the city. The Houses met early in 1621, and the Commons lost no time in denouncing the trading monopolies granted by the King, several of the more oppressive monopolists being impeached. Some local bearings of the subject are not without interest.

About three years before this date the King granted a patent to two Welshmen, giving them an exclusive right, for twenty-one years, to export from South Wales 6,000 kilderkins of butter on payment of one shilling per kilderkin to the Crown. The patent was forthwith sold to a London merchant named Henley, who put a stop to the large and profitable business previously carried on in the same district by certain Bristolians. The latter then found it necessary to negotiate with Henley, and, for a ready-money payment of £400, and an undertaking to pay the Crown rent, with 2s. per kilderkin more to the patentee, they obtained a concession of two-thirds of the monopoly. The landed interest in Wales, deprived of an open market for their produce, and seeing great profits made by the engrossers, naturally felt aggrieved, and instructed their representatives to complain to the House of Commons; whilst the Bristol merchants, in great alarm, sent pressing requests to the city members to support their cause. The price of butter, it was alleged, had not been unduly enhanced in England, for through the care taken in supplying the Bristol market - a statement throwing a flood of light on the curious butter transactions of the Corporation (see p.65) - the price had not exceeded 4d. per lb. even in times of scarcity. Fortunately for the monopolists, the House of Commons was not allowed time to remedy the Welsh grievance, and the patent remained in force.

Strangely indifferent to the current of national opinion,


the Merchants' Society thought the moment a favourable one for appealing to Parliament for an extension of their privileges. They had always claimed an exclusive right to trade as merchants in the port of Bristol, but the Act which they obtained in 1566 to enforce that claim was repealed five years later on the petition of the Corporation, and they had been unable to prevent the influx of competitors. A new effort to establish a monopoly being now resolved upon, a Bill was prepared to revive the Act of 1566, and the Common Council, in which the mercantile interest had become predominant, published what was styled a “certificate”, for circulation in the House of Commons, alleging the urgency of the measure. Beginning with a flagrantly untruthful assertion that the former Act had been repealed through the manoeuvring of petty “shopkeepers”, the certificate went on to affirm that the liberty of trading thus secured had tempted inexperienced retailers, and even mean craftsmen, to forsake their callings and traffic as merchants, with the result of impoverishing both themselves and the Society, to the great prejudice of the city, the decay of navigation, and the diminution of the King's Customs. Owing to the pressure of public business, the city members did not introduce the Bill, but it will shortly be heard of again.

The Corporation, in January, 1621, resolved on an ordinance “for the setting of the Common Watch”, of which we hear for the first time. By this document, “all the inhabitants”, probably meaning all the male householders, were required in turn either to serve as watchmen or to pay a weekly sum for a substitute. The regulation as to numbers is somewhat unintelligible, but seems to show that personal service was not anticipated. The sergeants were to warn “32 persons for the watch every night, 5 for Froom Gate, 5 for Newgate, 5 for Redcliff Gate, 5 for Temple Gate, and 4 for Pithay Gate”, - a total of only twenty-four, - “and shall retain six of the pays for their pains and candlelight, and two pays for the bellman”. The sheriffs were to see the watch sworn in nightly for one month, and then two councillors, “as they are in antiquity”, were to perform the same duty for each following month throughout the year. In July, 1628, the Council ordered that the above “Act” should be revived - a plain admission that the new institution had been objected to by the householders, and had been suffered to become extinct. By the revived ordinance burgesses were


required to watch in person, a decree which wealthy men were not likely to obey.

Another ordinance of January, 1621, relates to certain “good gifts heretofore given to the city which cannot now be restored to the uses intended by the donors”, - clearly referring to pre-Reformation bequests left to the Corporation for superstitious services. It was decreed that £60 per annum arising from such gifts should be bestowed on placing (apprenticing) poor burgesses' children, and that £10 more should be spent in the purchase of coals for the poor. Subsequently a third of the former amount was diverted to the maintenance of poor children sent to work in the House of Correction. These payments came to an end during the financial embarrassments caused by the Civil War, when the capital of the above benefactions disappeared.

Early in the year, the Privy Council addressed a letter to the Mayor requesting the contributions of the citizens in the King's name for the recovery of the Palatinate, “his children's patrimony”. The Prince Palatine's misfortunes had excited intense sympathy amongst Englishmen, and the citizens appear to have responded liberally. In the Council every member save one (Henry Gibbes) added his name to the subscription list, the donations varying from 20s. to £5. Shortly afterwards, however, the Palatinate was hopelessly lost, mainly through the besotted policy of James I., and the Bristol fund remained in hand. In 1623 the Council ordered that the amount should be paid over to the Chamberlain, and that £160 should be disbursed for ransoming upwards of forty Bristolians held in slavery at Algiers. The Privy Council seems to have forgotten the matter until eight years later, when an informer brought the facts under its notice, and a demand for an explanation was instantly forwarded. Strange to say the subject was again allowed to go to sleep, and nothing more is heard of it until 1637, when the Attorney-General filed an information against the Chamberlain, to which the latter pleaded that all the money, with the approval of the subscribers, had been expended in the ransom of slaves. As the Government had obviously no right to the contributions, the prosecution was quietly dropped.

Another instance of aristocratic interference in civic affairs took place in March, 1621. The aged and much respected town clerk, Hierom Ham, having intimated his intention to resign office, one James Dyer, a young law


student in London, procured a “letter of recommendation” from the Earl of Arundel to the Common Council, and the ancient law requiring the clerk to be a barrister - a very necessary qualification, seeing that the officer presided at quarter sessions, and was legal adviser to the magistrates and Corporation- having been dispensed with “for this time only”, the Earl's nominee was at once elected.

Thomas Cecill, one of the sheriffs appointed in 1618, was accused in August, 1621, of a discreditable offence. During his shrievalty he had the nomination of one of the sheriffs sergeants, and appointed a man who had promised him a bribe of £3, secured on a bond for double the amount. By an ancient ordinance the penalty for such a misdemeanour was £200, but on Cecill making an apology, the Council merely ordered him to deliver up the bond and pay a fine of £3.

A curious imbroglio in reference to the Rectory of Portishead occurred at this time. The manor having been purchased by the Corporation, they claimed the patronage of the living, and Mr. Tucker, the lecturer already mentioned, was preferred on the incumbency becoming vacant. The right to do this was, however, disputed, the King nominating one candidate, whilst a Mr. Bond, the heirs of Lord Latimer, and Lord Berkeley severally claimed the right of patronage. Eventually Bond obtained £360 from the Corporation for withdrawing his pretensions, and the other claims having been abandoned, the Council sold the next presentation to Tucker for £160. Upwards of eleven years later Bond raised a fresh claim, alleging that he had paid a large sum to get rid of the King's nominee, and the disgusted Corporation had to give him two hogsheads of claret and a butt of sack to silence his demands.

The ducking of female scolds, an ancient English institution, emerges from obscurity in the summer of 1621, when, by order of the magistrates, a new cucking-stool was erected on the north bank of the Froom, near the Weir. A trial of the apparatus took place a few weeks later, when a vixenish woman from Redcliff was set in the stool, whirled over the river, and ducked three times by the city beadles, who received two shillings for their “pains”. The shrew, nevertheless, offended again, and underwent ducking a second time, but the beadles' fee was reduced to 1s. 6d.; and in 1624 they were allowed only 8d., though they had to deal with two women “washed” together. Another function


of these officers is noted by the Chamberlain about the same time: “Paid the beadles for cutting off pigs' tails that went about the streets, 7d”. A prodigious number of pigs appears to have been kept in the city throughout the century.

The Mayor, in September, 1621, received a letter from the Privy Council, requesting that an experienced man of business should be sent up to London to offer them suggestions as to the obvious decay of the national trade and the scarcity of coin. Alderman Guy accordingly presented himself at Court, and alleged on behalf of his brother merchants that the decline in trade was owing to the taxes levied on merchandise, the restraints on commerce imposed at the outports, especially on the export of corn, the frauds of cloth manufacturers, the depredations of pirates, the decay of the Newfoundland fishery, foreign wars, etc. With reference to the scarcity of money, Mr. Guy adduced as its primary cause “the extraordinary importation and use of tobacco”, a surprising complaint in the mouth of a Bristolian. (Tobacco, however, was still a costly article. Although the Customs duty was insignificant, the Corporation in 1624 paid 3s. for a quarter of a pound presented to one Sir Richard Hill.) Contributory causes, added Mr. Guy, were the export of coin to the East Indies, the prohibition of grain exports, and the excessive use of gold, silver, silk and velvet in the dress of the upper classes. Some of the alderman's statements must nave been far from palatable to the Government, which was at its wits' end for money, and he was politely dismissed. Every source of revenue that could be “farmed” was disposed of about this time. Even the penalties on profane cursing and swearing were let to a farmer. An attempt made to induce Bristolians to farm the Customs of the port was, however, declined with thanks, the Crown demanding a sum in excess of previous receipts. According to an official return in the Record Office, the average annual amount received at the local Custom House during the seven years ending 1620 was only £3,706.

The head mastership of the Grammar School becoming vacant in 1622 a corporate deputation was dispatched to Oxford in search of a fitting successor. The expenses of two gentlemen and a servant, with three horses, “being out five days”, amounted to £4 5s. 5d. The result was the appointment of Richard Cheynie, at the usual salary of £26 13s. 4d. As the sons of freemen had a free education,


the scholars were doubtless numerous, and the Council, to augment the stipend, permitted the master to take twenty “foreign” boys, half of whom he was allowed “to table” (as boarders). In 1629 the Council increased the fixed salary to £40, and dismissed the usher, whose negligence or incapacity was said to have caused many lads to be sent to schools outside the city. The man was, however, given £60 owing to his poverty. A new usher was then appointed, and the previous salary of £13 6s. 8d. was increased to £30.

During the year 1622 a curious tract was printed in London by one Nathaniel Butter, bearing the following lengthy title:- “A Relation strange and true of a ship of Bristol named the Jacob, of 120 tons, which was about the end of October last, 1621, taken by the Turkish pirates of Argier, And how within five days after, four English youths did valiantly overcome thirteen of the said Turks, and brought the ship to St. Lucar, in Spain, where they sold nine of the Turks for Galley Slaves”. The narrator states that after the capture of the Jacob the four Bristol youths were left on board, together with thirteen Turks charged to carry the vessel to Algiers. During a heavy storm, the Bristolians set upon and killed the captain and three Turks, another leaping overboard to escape them. The rest of the corsairs, many of whom had been wounded in attacking the Jacob, were below deck when the lads revolted, and were kept prisoners there until the ship reached Spain, with the result recorded in the title-page. A copy of this very rare tract is in the collection of Mr. G.E. Weare.

A somewhat curious letter from the Privy Council was received in July by the Mayor and Aldermen. Their lordships stated they had been informed by John Scott, of Bristol, that he had for forty years refined silver out of lead, and made such lead into sheets and pipes, but was now molested and troubled by indictments raised against him for such work. Scott being now in the King's mines royal, the Council thought him more worthy of encouragement than interruption, and requested the justices to protect him for the future.

Amongst the civic officials of the age were two men charged with the duty of “tasting” the ale brewed for public consumption and of informing against knavish brewers. Their united salaries, 53s. 4d., were in September, 1622, reduced to 40s. On the other hand, the two coroners, who had previously received a very meagre stipend, were


gratified with 40s. each yearly, “to encourage them to discharge their office”. (See 1651.)

Notwithstanding the settlement of the purveyance dispute by the Lord Chief Baron in 1609 (see p.36), the Government in November, 1622, revived its former claim, and sent down orders to the Customs officers to levy the same composition for groceries in Bristol as was paid in London. Local merchants, of course, made a strong protest against this arbitrary abrogation of a solemn legal decision, but when Alderman Guy, as their deputy, appealed to the Lord Treasurer, that minister coolly declared that the Chief Baron's judgment was of no effect, as he had been unduly influenced by his Bristolian colleague, Mr. Baron Snigge. Ultimately, however, the Treasurer consented to accept such dues as were paid in 1601. But on examination it was found that no dues for purveyance had been paid until 1603, when the Customs officers levied certain sums, for which illegality they were arraigned and convicted in the Mayor's Court. Mr. Guy was thereupon instructed by the merchants to stand out stoutly, but if he thought the matter could be ended by a “thankful acknowledgement” to the Lord Treasurer and one of his colleagues in the shape of a present not exceeding £100 (in addition to a like sum already given) the money would be forthcoming. The merchants had a just appreciation of the persons they had to deal with. In February, 1623, the Customs staff received orders to forbear levying the dues in ready money, and to accept bonds for the same, payable on demand - an expedient which enabled the Government to withdraw their claims without loss of dignity.

Thomas Cecill, the discredited ex-sheriff already referred to, made another indecorous appearance before the Council in January, 1623. The minute is as follows:- “Ordered that Mr. Thomas Cecill, for his opprobrious and undecent speeches used against Mr. Mayor in saying that he cared not a ____ for him, nor yet for Doughtie, meaning Mr. Alderman Doughtie, as also for his loose carriage and behaviour, having often been seen drunk within this city, shall be expelled and dismissed”. The unabashed offender soon after applied to the Court of King's Bench for a mandamus requiring his restoration, but before the Council showed cause against the writ, Mr. Alderman Guy, desirous of avoiding litigation, informed his colleagues that Cecill had sought his intercession, and undertaken to submit on such terms as he (the Alderman) could obtain. It was


therefore ordered, with Guy's approval, that the culprit should ask pardon, acknowledge the justice of his sentence, and pay a fine of £100 for re-admission. Cecill was then brought in, but although he confessed his promise to Mr. Guy, he refused to submit to the terms. Nothing is heard of him again until January, 1624, when he attended a meeting of the Council, professing abundant sorrow for his misdeeds, apologising to everybody, and begging for kindly consideration. The fine being thereupon reduced to £60, he “thankfully accepted” the judgment, paid the money, and resumed his seat.

The inexpediency of holding an extensive corn market in the open streets dawned upon the Council in February, 1623, but the adopted remedy substituted a perpetual for an occasional inconvenience. Although Wine Street was then only about half its present width, the Corporation resolved on building a market-house eighty feet in length and twelve in breadth in the centre of the thoroughfare, leaving only a narrow alley on each side. A well was sunk, and the long-celebrated Wine Street Pump erected, at the same time. The ground thus occupied having previously been let for booths during the fairs, the sheriffs were granted a yearly sum of 2s. 6d. for every foot appropriated. The ugly building soon afterwards constructed was a nuisance from the outset, and was demolished in 1727. The tolls during its existence appear to have been collected in kind. The Council, in Decemoer, 1628, gave orders that the ancient toll on grain brought to market, “a pint upon every sack”, and the toll on meal, taken time out of mind, (quantity not stated), should be collected from all comers, and that those refusing to pay should be distrained or prosecuted. The whole of the corn from the surrounding districts must have been brought in by pack-horses, the entry of carts being forbidden.

The price of beer was long fixed by the magistrates. In 1623 the standard wholesale price was 8s. per barrel, or slightly more than 2½d. per gallon. One Barnes, a brewer, was committed for trial in March, charged on his own confession with having demanded £10 for twenty barrels shipped for Wales. In October the justices fixed the number of “tipplers”, licensed to sell victuals also, at 126, St. Stephen's parish being allotted twenty, and the other populous parishes twelve each. “Tipplers”, it will be seen, were not drinkers, but publicans; on the other hand, smokers were then styled “tobacconists”.


In an age when medical charities were unknown a slight but kindly provision for the sick poor was made by the Council in August. It was resolved that “Mr. Doctor Chappell” should be paid £1 quarterly so long as he should continue to reside in the city and give advice in his profession to such poor people as should repair to him.

In March, 1623, Dr. Robert Wright was consecrated Bishop of Bristol in the place of Dr. Searchfield, deceased, and appears to have at once endeavoured to close the breach between the Corporation and the cathedral authorities, so rudely opened by Bishop Thornborough. In November the Council appointed a committee to confer with him in reference to a proposal he had made to the Mayor for the re-erection of the corporate seats in the cathedral for the hearing of sermons. At the same time, a “good” butt of sack and two hogsheads of claret were ordered to be sent to his lordship “as a token of the city's love”, and a few weeks later he was presented with the freedom. The new seats, of which a lease in perpetuity was granted by the Dean and Chapter, were erected in 1624, at a cost of £45, exclusive of 15s. paid for a gilt “branch” for the State sword, which was fated to be the origin of another bitter quarrel. The seats occupied a large space on both sides of the choir, the members of the Council occupying one side and their wives the other. Ten pounds were afterwards presented to “Mr. Doctor Hussie”, Chancellor of the diocese, who had probably supervised the work.

Owing to the complaints of the inhabitants as to the increased price of Kingswood coal, the Council, in July, appointed a committee to confer with a Mr. Player, who “farmed” all the collieries in the Chase, with the view of obtaining an abatement. The negotiation appears to have been fruitless, for the Corporation soon afterwards addressed a petition to the Privy Council, setting forth that the poor had been accustomed to buy coal at the rate of 3½d. per bushel, delivered in horse loads, but that Arthur Player, after engrossing all the pits, with greedy designs, had diminished the size of the coal sacks by one half, charging the old price for half the quantity. Relief was prayed for this grievance, but there is no record of the result.

A new plan for providing employment for the poor was started by the Council in November. A purchase was made of a garden adjoining the House of Correction (Bridewell), and that building was enlarged to provide a workhouse for the unemployed. A master was next appointed, and


furnished with £200 to lay in a “stock”, apparently of flax and hemp, and such persons were sent in to make nets and pick “occombe” as the magistrates thought fit. Some boys were also employed in making pins, the Corporation advancing £100 to one Tilsley to set up the industry. As usual, the latter experiment failed, and Tilsley became insolvent. The condition of the working classes became much worse in 1624, and an ordinance was passed in September declaring that the great increase of poverty was due to the creeping in of strangers and the growth of mendicancy; though it was in fact mainly attributable to a bad harvest and the general crippling of trade caused by the system of monopolies. Funds were ordered to be raised in each parish for providing work, vagabonds and “inmates” were to be rigorously expelled, begging was nowhere to be suffered, and all offenders were to be incarcerated in the House of Correction. Large quantities of wheat and rye were purchased for relieving the distress, and the Council, as usual, provided a bountiful supply of butter.

At the general election, in January, 1624, the members returned for Bristol were two prominent citizens, Alderman Guy and Mr. John Barker. The latter, educated at Oxford, and an able and energetic politician, laid before the Commons the grievances suffered by his fellow-merchants from the local Customs officials, who had enormously increased the legal scale of fees. He also exposed the arbitrary demands made on the city in reference to the prisage of wines. In both cases the Commons resolved that the grievances had been established, and their action was so menacing that the Customs staff hurried to make an agreement with the Bristol merchants, by which the fees were reduced to the small sums paid forty years previously. (See 1633, when this concession was repudiated.) As the House refused to grant the money demanded by the Government until grievances were redressed, the session came to a premature end. A characteristic display of kingly arrogance followed in October. His Majesty declared in a writ of Privy Seal that he had, in 1621, ordered the wine duties to be doubled, but had soon afterwards withdrawn that mandate, and issued another, requiring that a duty of 20s. a tun in London, and 13s. 4d. at the outports, in excess of the legal Customs, should be levied on wines for the maintenance of his daughter, the Princess Palatine. This tax, he added, had been suspended in April in the expectation that other means would be provided for the same purpose, but as Parliament


had not voted him a convenient supply he ordered the revival of the above duties from Michaelmas Day; any person refusing payment to forfeit his wines, and to undergo such “corporal punishment” as his contempt deserved.

The growing influence of Bishop Laud appears to be indicated by the renewed attempts of the Privy Council to secure a rigorous observance of Lent. The city treasurer, in 1624, paid £5 18s. to the Butchers' Company, “by order of the Mayor and Aldermen, towards the relief of the poor of that Company in time of Lent, to keep them from selling flesh”.

Some idea of the character of the country roads around the city may be gained from a resolution of the Court of Aldermen in June. It was ordered that these “causeways” should in future be made six feet in breadth, “and no more”; and Dr. White's gift (see p.47) was to be devoted to pitching them. Nearly £60 was spent in 1626 in setting up posts along the highway and the causeway at Kingswood, for the guidance of travellers, the tracks being then unenclosed. Some remains of the pack-horse roads are still to be found. The best preserved is the old causeway from Brislington to the city, via Knowle. “Holly bush Lane”, on the north-western side of Durdham Down, was the only, road to Shirehampton until the construction of turnpikes.

The corporate purchases of land at Portishead had by this time become so considerable that it was determined in September to revive the Manor Court there. The function was celebrated with fitting pomp. The Mayor, aldermen, and councillors, with their wives and divers invited persons, were rowed down in boats, and the procession following the disembarkation, headed by the sword-bearer and his mighty weapon, the waits, and the civic officials, must have somewhat astonished the secluded villagers. A feast, of course, wound up the manorial proceedings, and the expenses altogether amounted to £27 8s. 1d.

Another novelty also came into favour - the purchase of the portraits of city benefactors. Pictures of Robert and Nicholas Thorne were borrowed from a family in Wiltshire, and copies were made for the Council House by some artist, who received £2 4s. for his pains. A few weeks later a payment of the same amount was made to “a Dutch painter” for two more copies, which were hung up in the Grammar School. In 1625 “John the painter” received an order to draw Dr. White's portrait, for which he received 30s. A blunder seems to have been made in the


next commission, for the Chamberlain enters in his accounts:- “Paid for Sir Thomas White's picture that was sent from Coventry hither, instead of Mr. Thomas White's picture that I sent for, he being a worthy benefactor to this city, £2 16s”. In 1630 the Council gave a large order, which the Chamberlain deals with as follows:- “Paid the painter for making the pictures of benefactors to hang up in the Council House, £15”. The accounts of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital for the same year contain the following item:- “Paid for making of Mr. John Carr's picture, at the Gaunts, £2”.

Some curious letters concerning John Digby, first Earl of Bristol, are amongst the State Papers of 1624. Digby, one of the King's favourites, was sent to Madrid to further the notorious Spanish marriage project, and was created an earl in 1622, to increase his influence in the negotiations. But he subsequently quarrelled with the Duke of Buckingham, then supreme at Court, and, of course, fell into disgrace. On September 23rd, 1624, he wrote to Secretary Conway, stating that he intended to settle his family at Bristol, and wished to go there to buy a house, but thought it advisable to ask whether the King would be displeased with the journey. In October the Secretary, writing to a friend on various matters, incidentally remarked that the Earl had been refused leave to live in Bristol. Yet a month later Conway informed Bristol himself that His Majesty was well pleased he should settle with his family as he proposed. There is no record that his lordship ever visited the city, or had any family connection with it. Possibly the death of the King caused him to change his purpose.

The heaviness of the burden known as prisage, exclusively borne by wine importers in Bristol - those of other ports being exempt - is exemplified by an agreement made in November by the local merchants with the “prisage masters” - that is, the persons to whom the impost had been sublet by the Waller family, the patentees under the Crown. (The lessees were a few wealthy Bristolians who had combined for self-protection.) It was arranged that, to avoid the privilege of tasting and selecting previously exercised before one-tenth of a cargo was carried off, the merchants should pay £25 for each prisage tun of claret, £14 for each tun of Canary, Madeira, Malaga, or sack, and as much for “Coniack or sherant” as the best brought in the market.

In the minutes of the Privy Council for January 4th,


1625, is a copy of a letter addressed to the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol, of a somewhat interesting character. Their lordships write:- “Hearing that you propose to make a new dock for the use of ships, of which we much approve, so that it be further extended for his Majesty's service, which will not cause much increased charge, We recommend that it be made 100 feet within the Apron, and 34 feet broad at high water, by which it will serve as well for the King's as for private ships. By which, and building larger ships, you will do yourselves honour”. Strangely enough, the corporate records contain no reference of any kind to the alleged undertaking, and it would seem that the letter refers to an enterprise of Alderman Robert Aldworth, who had, in fact, already made in the Marsh what was called a dock - namely, a berth in which a couple of ships could lie at low water without danger of being upset - and was proposing to construct another. A civic minute of July 20th, 1626, reads:- “Whereas Alderman Aldworth hath a grant . . . for a term of four score years . . . of a dwelling house, storehouse, and new dock lately erected by him in the Marsh . . . Agreed that in consideration of his making a sufficient dry dock (albeit it may cost him £500) in the place where the great dock now is, and of his freely giving the same ... to the Merchants' Company, there shall be a grant in feoffment made to him for ever, of the said dwelling house, storehouse, and small (sic) dock already made, at a rent of 12d”. Mr. Aldworth did not accept this proposal, but carried out his previous intention of excavating another inlet for the berthing of a ship. A local annalist, noting his death in 1634, records that “he made two docks for shipping, which came to nothing”. In September, 1637, the Corporation granted his heir, Giles Elbridge, a lease for ninety-nine years of the dwelling, storehouse, new buildings, “and the little new dock lately made by Alderman Aldworth, lying in a corner of the Marsh adjoining the Froom”, at a rent of £3, some arrears being remitted, and “all former agreements touching the premises discharged”. The excavations, the site of which is indicated by Alderskey (Aldsworth's Quay) Lane, at the north end of Prince's Street, were filled up about 1687.

Evidence as to the decreasing value of money occurs in January, 1625. In wills made at the beginning of the century it was not unusual for testators to direct their executors to invest money at 10 per cent, interest, and up to the period now arrived at the Corporation had never been able


to raise loans at a lower rate than 6 per cent. The Council now resolved that the maximum interest payable on bonds should not exceed 5 per cent. A revulsion took place during the Civil War, when lenders often demanded 8 per cent.

The accession of Charles I. was proclaimed at the High Cross on April 1st with the accustomed ceremony. The civic expenses on the occasion were notably moderate, 18s. 6d. in all being paid to a trumpeter, a drummer, two “phifers”, and the waits. The young King promptly gave the citizens a taste of the polity he had determined to pursue. Before the end of the month he issued a Privy Seal, ordering that all the Customs duties levied in his father's reign, many of which had never been sanctioned by Parliament, whilst others had become invalid by the late King's demise, should continue in force, and that any person refusing to pay them should be committed to prison until he submitted. The arbitrary extra tax on wines, ordained in the previous year, had expired on the death of James, but on May 6th the new monarch, by another warrant, directed the Lord Treasurer to demand the tax on such wines as had since arrived, and to continue its collection for the future, recusants being threatened with corporal punishment and the confiscation of their imports. The claim of immunity for Bristol, doubly taxed by paying prisage, was silently ignored.

At the general election in May Alderman Whitson and Nicholas Hyde, the Recorder, were returned as burgesses. A distrust of the King was soon perceptible in the House of Commons, and, whilst various grievances were being ventilated, the Bristol merchants sent up a petition against the arbitrary impost on wines, from which, they alleged, they had suffered heavy losses, and the continuance of which would force them to withdraw from trade. An address to the King on the subject was adopted, but His Majesty replied that he marvelled the Commons should press such a matter, since the receipts from the impost were applied to the maintenance of his sister. The management of the war against Prance was also criticised, and Alderman Whitson complained strongly of the neglect of the royal officers. As the House persisted in discussing grievances prior to granting supplies, Parliament was soon afterwards dissolved.

Great alarm was excited during the spring by the outbreak of Plague in London. In June the Corporation,


with the assent of the Privy Council, forbade Londoners from attending the great summer fair, and goods from the capital were required before entering to be “aired” for a month outside Lawford's Gate. Any citizen returning from London had to undergo a similar purification before being re-admitted. Watchmen were on guard day and night at all the city gates to debar the entrance of suspected strangers. The precautions, which entailed an outlay of £250, proved effectual, though a few cases of disease were reported outside Lawford's Gate, amongst the numerous Londoners and others gathered there. The pestilence having raged violently at Bath, Bridgwater, and Exeter, a subscription was raised for the relief of those towns, out of gratitude for the city's escape.

The depraved inhabitants of the Castle Precincts continued to set law and order at defiance. The Corporation in May resolved on a petition to the King, praying him to make the place part and parcel of the city, so that the magistrates might have jurisdiction over it. The Town Clerk was also directed to ascertain on what terms the farm of the Castle might be purchased as well from the King as from the Earl of Arundel, the latter being the holder in reversion of a patent granted to Sir George Chaworth. Ultimately a bargain of some kind was struck, for in September, 1626, Alderman Doughty was repaid £5, a bribe that he had given to the “Master of the Requests, for getting the King's hand to the reversion of the Castle”. (The document is now missing from the civic archives.) This, however, was only a prospective advantage, and the Council soon besought the Court afresh. In March, 1629, a petition to the King recounted the old grievances, adding as a seasonable hint that when the Government demanded impressments of men, many able persons fled into the Castle as a safe refuge, and thus escaped the King's service. Instead of forwarding this appeal direct, the Council despatched it to the Queen, reminding her that Bristol was Her Majesty's Chamber, and formed part of her jointure, and praying her favour and recommendation. This adroit manoeuvre proved successful. Reference having been made to the Chief Justices, who approved of the city's request, Charles I. granted a charter, dated April 13th, 1629, which, after reciting the county jurisdiction conferred on Bristol by Edward III., the exceptional liberties of the Castle Precincts, and the resort there of thieves and other malefactors, ordained that, for the benefit of faithful subjects


and at the request of the Queen, the Castle and its appurtenances should thenceforth be separated from Gloucestershire, and be made part and parcel of the city, sole jurisdiction being conferred on the local justices and corporate officers. A final clause required that the honest residents in the precincts should be reputed as citizens, and thirty-seven such persons were accordingly admitted as freemen. The charter cost the Corporation £143, exclusive of £6 for a Persian carpet given to the Lord Chief Baron, to whom £20 were ordered to be presented “in wine or anything else”. One Sir John Tunstall had been previously promised £100 if he would promote the affair, and though the payment does not appear in the audit book, the pledge was doubtless fulfilled.

The preparations for the Duke of Buckingham's inglorious attack on Cadiz having occasioned a demand for soldiers, the Corporation received an order to impress fifty Bristolians to take part in the expedition. The capture of the men and their despatch to Plymouth cost the city £61. The same number of men were pressed for the still more disastrous attempt on the Isle of Rhé in 1627, at an expense to the Council of £97.

Another item in the Chamberlain's accounts for 1625 shows that the punishment of the ducking-stool had threatened to result in a fatality:- “Paid for cords and aqua vitae for the women that were cuckte, 7d”. A more formidable instrument of the law, brought into use after nearly every assizes, needed frequent repairs. A new “double-ladder for the gallows” was bought this year, but the cost is included in other expenses. One side of the ladder was for the criminal and the other for the hangman, rendering a cart unnecessary; and, to save expense, the convict was required to walk to his doom. An annalist records that seven criminals were executed in 1624 - two of them for witchcraft.

Turkish corsairs again swarmed on the coast in the autumn of 1625. The Corporation wrote in great alarm to the Government that a pirate had threatened to burn Ilfracombe, and begged that a ship of war should be sent to protect the trade with Ireland and the fleet nearly due from Newfoundland.

Trade monopolies conceded by the Crown increased the peril of the situation. In October the Privy Council received a petition from the merchants and shipowners of Bristol stating that, having sustained great losses at sea by sending out


small barks, they had now built sundry large ships fit to cope with the enemy, but could not obtain either ammunition or guns except at excessive prices. They therefore prayed permission to manufacture about 500 barrels of gunpowder and forty cannon yearly - the latter to be made at Cardiff, where the best iron was available. The first request was granted, but the second was evaded. The gunpowder monopolists, however, raised a protest against the decision, and proved so influential that the Privy Council, in a letter to the Mayor, forbade the use of domestic saltpetre in producing the powder, limiting the makers to the more expensive foreign article. In April, 1626, the Corporation ordered that thirty barrels of gunpowder and half a ton of musket bullets should be provided as a store.

Mr. Evans, in his Chronological History, asserts that the Corporation, in 1625, purchased Brandon Hill, and the statement has been reproduced by several later writers. As a matter of fact, the hill (saving a plot on the summit, once belonging to Tewkesbury Abbey, and sometimes occupied by a hermit) was ancient city property. In or about 1533 the Corporation granted a lease of the hill, for sixty years, to John Northall, afterwards Mayor, who was required to permit the free passage of pedestrians, and to suffer all persons to dry clothes there; which disposes of the legend that the latter right was conferred by Queen Elizabeth. In 1564 another lease in reversion for the same term was granted to William Head, many years Town Clerk, who probably bought up Northall's interest, as he built a windmill on the site of the old hermitage. The fact that four acres of the summit were abbey property was overlooked when Tewkesbury was despoiled, doubtless because the ground produced no rent. But the circumstance came to the ears of two of the informers who earned an execrable living by prowling about in search of “ concealed lands”, which they obtained on easy terms from the Crown, and then levied blackmail on the existing possessors. In 1581 Queen Elizabeth granted the plot in fee to these men at a rent of 5s., and within a few months the land was sold to the Corporation for £30. This transaction having vitiated Read's title to the site of the windmill, he was granted a new reversionary lease for sixty years in 1584 at the old rent of 26s. 8d., with 5s. additional for the Crown fee-farm. After passing through several hands, the interest in this lease was transferred to Anthony Hodges, of Clifton, in 1611, and what the Corporation purchased in


1625 was simply the unexpired term of about twenty-eight years which the lease had still to run. The windmill seems to have then disappeared. In March, 1626, the Common Council determined that the yearly profits of Brandon Hill should be enjoyed in moieties by the Mayor and the Sheriffs, the grantees paying the old rent of 26s. 8d. and permitting the drying of clothes according to custom. From an item in the civic account-book for 1630 it appears that the royal fee-farm rent of 5s. had been granted by Queen Elizabeth to a private person, who omitted to demand it for twenty-nine years. The Corporation at first refused to pay the arrears, but finding the claim to be incontestable, the debt was discharged, the recipient being further mollified by a gift of a shilling's worth of wine.

The first corps of Bristol Volunteers was established at this time. At a meeting of the Privy Council on October 22nd, a petition was read from the captains, trained men, and other young men of the city, praying for permission to set up an artillery yard, where they might learn the use of arms, offensive and defensive, at their own charge. The application was approved, and permission was given to carry the project into effect. Though it is not so stated in the minutes, their lordships granted the corps the use of part of the Castle yard as an exercise ground, and a house was soon afterwards built there for the accommodation of the men and the storage of their weapons. The force, which appears to have been popular, held an annual festival, attended by the neighbouring county gentry. The dissensions arising out of political troubles probably broke up the association about 1642.

A remarkable resolution of the Council appears in an ordinance dated November 8th, 1625. It was “ordained that, according to ancient and laudable custom, whenever a writ for the election of knights, citizens, or burgesses for the Parliament shall come to the Sheriffs, the election shall be made by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, and by the freeholders resident within the city and liberties, and none others”. In despite of this recital of “ancient and laudable custom”, it may be safely asserted that the Corporation were, in fact, seeking to narrow the electoral body by excluding the free burgesses from a right they had always enjoyed. The usurpation was repeated in 1640.

The Earl of Denbigh, one of the commanders in the futile expedition to Cadiz, arrived with his ship at


Kingroad about the end of the year, when the Corporation hastened to send him a present of fresh provisions. The prices of the chief articles are of interest. “Two muttons and a half” cost 38s.; three turkeys, 11s.; six capons and hens, 9s.; sixteen gallons of wine, 45s. 9d.; and seventy-two gallons of double beer, 20s.

For some unexplained cause, the Kingswood colliers refused during the winter to supply the city with coal. To relieve the suffering of the poor, a quantity of fuel was obtained from Swansea, and distributed at slightly under cost, the loss being borne by the Corporation. Two cargoes of corn and a goodly supply of butter were disposed of in the same manner.

Another general election took place in January, 1626, when Alderman Whitson and Alderman John Doughty were returned to a short but memorable Parliament. At an early sitting of the Commons, the extra tax of wine imposed by the King, falling with exceptional severity on Bristol, was voted to be a grievance, and supplies were postponed until this and other complaints had been redressed. The King, setting the House at defiance, dissolved Parliament in June. Each of the city members received £6 for travelling expenses, £29 for his “wages” at 4s. a day, and £1 6s. 8d. for the carriage up and down of his trunk.

A naval campaign against Spain was resolved upon by the Government in the spring, and was attended for some time with much success. Having regard to the excitement that must have been created in Bristol by the arrival of many rich prizes, the silence of the annalists on the subject is inexplicable. Much information is to be found in the State Papers. In May, Mr. Willett, the local Collector of Customs, informed Secretary Nicholas that a Brazilian ship had been brought in with 300 chests of sugar; in June the capture was announced of another sugar ship, with a cargo valued at £5,000; in July the ship Charles, of 300 tons and 30 guns, launched in Bristol six months earlier, and commanded by Martin Pring, brought in a Hamburgher; in September a rich prize laden with oil and sugar was reported, while Pring sent in an English ship captured by the Turks and retaken by himself; and this was followed within ten days by a third prize. “Bristol”, wrote the exultant Collector, “will be one of the Duke's best ports for profits” (Buckingham, as Lord Admiral, was entitled to a tenth of each capture); and Willett dares to offer his grace


£1,000, and Nicholas £200, for a tenth of only one of the prizes. In October Nicholas received an account of the cargoes of three more ships brought into Bristol. Pring was stated to have taken a Dunkirker, and two additional prizes were announced a few days later. By this time war had been declared against France. Bristolians soon after equipped seventeen privateers, and it would be tedious to describe the numerous valuable captures that were reported in 1627. The last of that year was announced by Alderman Whitson to a Government agent on December 17th. The Charles, he wrote, had just brought in a Spanish man-of-war of 30 or 40 guns, having on board an English pilot accounted an arch-traitor; and Whitson was persuaded that if the fellow were brought to the torture he would confess many great things. The man was sent up to London, but his fate is unknown.

Returning to the summer of 1626, we find the first local intimation of the Government's demand for ship money. The Parliament, then just dissolved, having refused to vote the King four subsidies, the Privy Council in June addressed letters to the ports and the maritime counties, setting forth the need for ships, and requesting that an amount equivalent to the subsidies should be furnished as a token of sympathy with the Crown. The sum demanded from Bristol was £2,400, for the hire and equipment of three ships of 200 tons and 12 guns each, but the city petitioned so earnestly for relief that the Privy Council, in July, admitting the decay of trade and the recent great losses of the citizens, fixed the contribution at £1,600, or two ships. The two adjoining counties were required to supply the other vessel, or £800, in equal moieties. An impost of this kind was not without precedent in earlier reigns, and those liable to the burden contented themselves with seeking to lighten their own shoulders by shifting the load on others. The citizens represented to the Privy Council that they were unfairly weighted in proportion to their country neighbours, and that the tax was more than they could bear, seeing that they had recently lost fifty ships through captures and wrecks, and were impoverished by the suspension of the Spanish trade. The county justices, on the other hand, protested that the claim made upon them was unreasonably large, and that Bristol, “a rich and wealthy city”, might well pay a larger sum. No relief could be obtained, and the sum assessed on the citizens was expended in hiring and equipping the two ships, which


lay idly in the harbour until their three months' stock of provisions was consumed, when the Corporation declined to re-victual them, informing the Duke of Buckingham that the outlay incurred was already equal to four subsidies, and that the county contributions were still withheld. The ships eventually sailed to guard the Irish coast. Rendered the more rapacious by success, the Government in December demanded that the city should hire and equip a third ship, but the Corporation refused to make any further effort, and though the mandate was twice repeated it remained ineffectual.

Following an ancient custom observed at the beginning of every reign, a charter was obtained from Charles I. in August, 1626, confirming the liberties conferred on the city by previous monarchs. The cost of the instrument was £139. chiefly spent in fees to Court officials.

A shocking attempt to murder Alderman Whitson occurred on November 7th. The Alderman, in conjunction with a worthy colleague, Alderman Guy, was holding a court, by order of a decree in Chancery, to arbitrate upon a long-standing dispute between two Bristolians - William Tresham and Christopher Callowhill. After a full hearing, the two justices decided that Callowhill owed his opponent £48, but, owing to the debtor's “weak estate”, they adjudged him to pay only £20. On the announcement of this decision, Callowhill pulled out a knife, rushed upon Whitson, and dealt him a violent stab in the face, penetrating through the cheek and nose into the mouth. The wretch was, of course, immediately seized and committed to prison, where he remained, heavily ironed, until his trial; but the annalists strangely omitted to record his punishment. Whitson, who was upwards of seventy years of age, recovered from his wound, and bequeathed a legacy to St. Nicholas's church for an annual sermon to commemorate his escape.

In December the Corporation resolved upon reviving and rendering more effectual the old restraints on the sale of imports belonging to “strangers”. An ordinance was accordingly issued, reciting that by local laws passed in the previous century no bargains for the purchase of “foreigners'” merchandise could be made until the goods had been taken to the Back Hall; but that disorderly persons had of late disobeyed this injunction through the smallness of the fine imposed on offenders (20s.). It was therefore decreed that any one infringing the law should in


future pay a penalty equal to one-sixth of the value of the goods. Moreover, any person bargaining for such merchandise to the value of £20, even after it was lodged in the Hall, without first acquainting the Mayor and Aldermen - “who are to dispose of one-half of such goods for the use and benefit of the inhabitants as anciently hath been accustomed” - was made liable to a penalty equal to one-tenth of the value!

During its numerous troubles with the Privy Council, the Corporation found a powerful advocate in the Lord High Steward, the Earl of Pembroke. In return, he was the recipient of large presents of wine, and in the spring his portrait was obtained from a “picture maker” for £3 13s. 4d. Immediately afterwards, on his declining an invitation to visit the city, a present was forwarded to him whilst at Bath. The gift was characteristic of the age. A chest of dry “succades” (comfits) cost £5 10s.; half a hundredweight of loaf sugar at 20d. per lb., £4 13s. 4d.; a hundredweight of oranges and lemons, 16s. 8d.; two boxes of marmalade, two boxes of prunes, a jar of olives, four rundlets of sack, and two barrels of claret, £9 10s. 4d. Minor presents were also made to other useful courtiers. Lord Grandison, Privy Councillor, had a gift of 24 lb. of sugar at 18d. per lb., and 35 gallons of sack at 4s. 6d. A silver basin and ewer, costing £21 10s., were sent to Mr. Clark, groom of the bedchamber. One of the clerks of the Privy Council had £5 6s. in “money and entertainment”, and was subsequently voted a pension of £20 yearly for life, having doubtless promised to render permanent services. Finally, Lord Chief Justice Hyde, the Recorder, having brought down his wife at the gaol delivery, the lady had a present of sugar loaves, comfits, and prunes to the value of £3 18s. 10½d.

Sir Charles Gerard, grandson and co-heir of Henry Brayne, to whom the estates of St. James's Priory were granted by Henry VIII., made proposals to the Corporation in 1622 for the alienation of part of the property, but no bargain was effected for some years, owing to the vendor's reluctance to incur the expense of procuring the indispensable license from the Crown, the estate being held in capite. In April, 1627, however, the civic body acquired from him the advowsons of St. James, St. Peter, Christ Church, St. Ewen, St. Michael, and St. Philip, the prisage of wine imported during the Whitsun-week of every alternate year, and a number of small chief rents, the purchase money for


the whole being only £460. As a sample of the strange system of book-keeping then in corporate favour - a system which now plunges many matters in hopeless mystery - it may be stated that no payment to Gerard is to be found in the accounts; the only reference to the purchase being a small payment to a lawyer for “levying a fine” to assure the title.

Having vainly endeavoured to raise money by what was speciously called a Benevolence, the King's advisers, in April, resolved upon levying a forced loan, and orders were forwarded to the Mayor to apply to the citizens, and send up the names of contributors. The demand was openly resisted in many districts, and, so far as local records show, the members of the Council offered no subscriptions. In October, however, Sir John Drake, one of Buckingham's creatures, wrote to Secretary Nicholas from Bristol, stating that he had remitted £1,660, and would speedily send the remainder. The Dean of Bristol, he added, should have paid £600, “but, like a minister, pays a month after the day”.

Attention has been drawn to the inexplicable silence of contemporary chroniclers in reference to the exciting local events of 1626, arising out of the war with France and Spain. When search is made into the State Papers of the two following years, the dumbness of the annalists becomes simply astounding; for the documents afford indisputable proof that the wealth and enterprise of Bristol at this period advanced by leaps and bounds. When England was threatened with destruction by the Spanish Armada, the city was able to furnish only three small ships and a pinnace for the national defence. Between 1626 and 1628, when there was practically no danger at all, Bristol merchants obtained permission from the Government to fit out upwards of sixty vessels with letters of marque, to prey upon the enemy's commerce. The following list, compiled from the Government records, gives the names and tonnage of the ships, and the names of their chief owners. (The owners marked with an * commanded their own vessels.)

Charles, 800 tons, John Barker, etc.White Angel, 150, G. Elbridge.
Mary Rose, 150, Wm. Pitt, etc.Fortune, 30, do.
Porcupigge, 100, Ric. Gough,* etc.Mary Fortune, 100, do.
Content, 120, Wm. Wyatt, etc.Deliverance, 70, G. Lyndsay.*
George, 300, Hum. Browne, etc.Hercules, 150, And. Bevan.*
Abraham, 200, Hum. Hooke.Joseph, 150, John Barker, etc.
Patience, 190, Nic. Gatonby.*Bon Esperance, 100, J. Gonning, etc.
Angel Gabriel, 300, G. Elbridge.Fortune, 200, T. Cole,* etc.


Comfort, 160, J. Woodson.*Friendship, 50, T. Wilde.
George, 200, C. Driver.*Neptune, 120, C. Driver, etc.
Recovery, - do.(unnamed), 40, do.
Elizabeth, 200, W. Ellis.(unnamed), 40, do.
Porcupine, 50, T. Wright.Amity, 100, E. Peters, etc.
Mary, 60, Thos. Colston.Endeavour, 50, J. Tomlinson, etc.
Falcon, 80, J. Mynnes,* etc.Rosemary, 100, W. Ellis, etc.
Mary Rose, 200, J. Barker,* etc.Falcon, 100, T. Wilde, etc.
Thunder, 70, J. Taylor, etc.Mayflower, 50, T. Wilde, etc.
Gilbert, 140, Wm. Ofield.*Mary, 80, Peter White,* etc.
Eagle, 140, H. Hooke, etc.Dolphin, 150, J. Mynnes,* etc.
Falcon, 40, do.Thomas, 100, B. Elliott,* etc.
Thomas, 60, T. Wright.*(unnamed), 40, do.
Sarah, 100, Michael Wright.*Little Charles, 80, H. Hooke, etc.
Swiftsure, 100, do.Dragon, 200, Thos. James,* etc.
Martha, 100, do.*Greyhound, 100, J. Reeves,* etc.
Primrose, 40, do.Hercules, 70, H. Hawley,* etc.
Bristol Merchant, 250, T. Colston,etc.Marigold, 70, W. Ellis, etc.
Supply, 200, Wm. Pitt, etc.Lion, 220, J. Gonning, etc.
Renew, 80, T. Barker.Lion's Whelp, 50, do.
St. George, 30, G. Elbridge, etc.Flying Hart, 25, Wm. Pitt, etc.
James, 100, Hum. Hooke, etc.Scout, 15, Hum. Hooke.
Hope, 100, T. Wilde, etc.Several small pinnaces.

The Collector of Customs continued to send tidings of captures to Secretary Nicholas, but the number of prizes in 1628 did not equal that of the previous year. To take the two principal successes, he reported in April the arrival of a Brazilian, taken by the Mary, with a cargo valued at £10,000; and less than a week later he noted the capture by the Comfort of another Brazilian, “the best prize come to Bristol since letters of marque were granted”. In November a small French war vessel grounded at Penarth, and was taken by Captain Ofield, of the Gilbert, who carried her off in spite of the protests of the vicar of Penarth, who claimed her “in right of his church”!

In the above list will be found the name of the Angel Gabriel, the valour of whose crew against great odds was long an exultant theme amongst Bristol sailors. In the British Museum is a black-letter broadside printed about this date, entitled:- “The Honour of Bristol. Showing how the Angel Gabriel, of Bristol fought with three ships, which boarded us many times, wherein we cleared our decks, and killed five hundred of their men, and wounded many more, and made them fly into Cales [Cadiz], where we lost but three men to the Honour of the Angel Gabriel of Bristol”. This vigorous ballad - as heart-stirring as the Battle of Chevy Chase - is printed in Seyer's “Memoirs of Bristol”, vol. ii. p.287. The poet styles the ship's captain Nethewey, and Thomas Nethoway was the commander


certified in the Government letter of marque. That the Spanish admiral's “lustiest” vessel had forty-eight big guns, whilst the Angel Gabriel carried only twenty, and that 600 were killed “outright” on one side and only three on the other during a desperate conflict for seven hours, we know only on the authority of the song-writer. It is satisfactory to read his final statement that the owner of the Gabriel, Giles Elbridge, presented the gallant crew of forty men with “two hundred pounds in gold and plate”, as a reward for their achievement.

A number of documents relating to St. Peter's parish, dated in and about 1628, and preserved in the collection of the late Mr. Sholto Hare, throw much light on the system of poor-law administration then everywhere in vogue. Under the old law of settlement the poor were jealously penned into the parish where they were born, and unceasing vigilance was displayed by parochial officers, and indeed by parishioners generally, to debar the intrusion of strangers in search of work, who, by abiding amongst them for a twelvemonth, would thus be enabled to relieve their native parish of the burden of their maintenance when in distress. Thus when a trader in St. Peter's parish took an apprentice or a domestic servant from outside the parochial bounds, a veto was forthwith pronounced by the overseers, and the interloper was required to find substantial sureties that he or she would never claim a settlement by virtue of residence. In the same way a small shopkeeper or mechanic, intending to remove from another part of the city with his family, had in the first place to give similar guarantees, and if he failed to do so was shut out; whilst an incessant search was made for “inmates” (lodgers), seeking to earn an honest livelihood. In spite of these precautions, endless litigation respecting settlements was waged between parishes seeking to repudiate their liabilities, and no small portion of the national poor-rates was squandered amongst lawyers.

Preparations were made early in 1628 for another expedition against France. A naval agent, writing to the Duke of Buckingham from Bristol in February and March, stated that he had fulfilled orders in impressing ten ships, and also ten barks intended for fire-boats, but that some of the owners of privateers, especially three of the wealthiest, John Barker, Giles Elbridge, and Humphrey Hooke, refused his request to fit out their ships, and ought to be compelled to do so. They were in consequence summoned to London


by the Privy Council, but the result is unrecorded. The above agent incidentally reports that a man-of-war was then lying at Bristol, whose crew had received no wages for sixteen months.

The poverty of the Government compelled the King to summon another Parliament in March, 1628. Alderman Doughty and Mr. John Barker, the members elected for Bristol, carried up with them another petition of the merchants against the illegal wine duties, the complaint being on this occasion the more pressing inasmuch as some of the victims had been arrested by royal messengers, and imprisoned in default of payment. The city members, after the prorogation, laid before the Common Council six books “containing the arguments used in Parliament concerning the liberty of the subject”. It will be remembered that the Petition of Right, by which arbitrary taxes and imprisonment were solemnly condemned, was the great work of the session.

The Council, in April, ordered the distribution of £30 amongst poor clothiers, traders and householders “against this good time of Easter”. Holiday sports, however, were not held in much favour. The Chamberlain, in the same month, disbursed sixpence “for taking down a Maypole”. Archery was one of the King's predilections, and His Majesty appointed a Commission to quicken the execution of an Act of Henry VIII. for the encouragement of that sport; but the proceedings of the commissioners were so unpopular that their powers were rescinded in 1631.

In spite of the increased strength of the royal navy and of the large fleet of local privateers, commerce was frequently jeopardized by the enemy's cruisers. In June, 1628, the Privy Council informed the Duke of Buckingham that in consequence of divers French warships committing daily ravages in the Severn, the city of Bristol was willing to bear the charge of setting out two ships for securing the Channel. He was therefore directed, as Lord Admiral, to treat with the citizens, letting them know that £1,000 of the charge would be repaid out of the subsidies voted by Parliament. The Corporation informed the Duke, a few days later, that the two ships would be ready to sail on the arrival of his commission, but the fifty barrels of gunpowder promised by the Government had not come to hand five weeks later, when Mr. Barker, M.P., informed Secretary Nicholas that French ships were still committing spoil. The equipment of the ships cost the Corporation


£1,357. The Treasury eventually paid £983 of this amount, but not until the Chamberlain had spent nearly six weeks in London over the business, and been well plucked by Court underlings, a present being even found necessary for the wife of Secretary Nicholas.

On August 22nd the Mayor informed the Privy Council by letter that he had provided transport for 700 soldiers sent to Bristol for shipment to Ireland, but who were delayed by adverse winds. Their voyage would cost £175, and his worship had already disbursed £140 out of purse for their victualling. Other documents show that the Government, in sending the troops to the city, made no provision whatever for their maintenance and shipment. On the day the above letter was written, the Council were informed by the regimental officers that the Mayor's advance was exhausted and that the men were without food. As rioting might be immediately expected, the Chamberlain was ordered to disburse sixpence per head daily for food, until a change of wind. The incident was repeated in the following November, when 200 soldiers, without officers, were detained in the city for several weeks through stormy weather, and were very unruly.

A succession of bad harvests began in 1628, and continued for three years. Large quantities of grain and several tons of butter were purchased each winter by the Corporation, and sold at cost price to the poor. The distress was much aggravated, in 1631, by a Government proclamation forbidding the purchase of corn in Devon and other counties, the real object being to extort money for licenses to buy there, the cost of which further enhanced the price of grain.

The distress of the time was widespread. On January 1st, 1629, the Mayor and Aldermen, in petitioning the Privy Council for leave to export grain to Ireland, stated that the dearth there was so extreme that the famishing Irish poor were crowding to this country, and were causing great trouble. The invasion of beggars at length assumed such proportions that the Corporation were compelled to act with vigour. Seven ships were hired to carry back the mendicants, and upwards of 1,200 were shipped off. About two shillings a head was paid as passage money, and upwards of £30 was laid out for their food. Similar, but less numerous, transportations were made in subsequent years.

Alderman John Whitson, one of the wealthiest


merchants of the city, died on February 25th, aged seventy-five, in consequence of an accident caused by the stumbling of his horse. His remains were interred in the crypt of St. Nicholas's church on March 9th with every mark of public respect, the trained bands, of which he was a captain, rendering him military honours. The details of the funeral expenses, which have been preserved, present a singular collocation of items:- “Epitaph, 10s.; Mustard, 1d.; Making 75 gowns for the poor, 75s.; Wine from the Bull, £5 17s. 6d.; Making a coffin, 14s.; Baking of pies, 7s. 6d.; To Mr. Palmer for making the verses on the monument, 20s”. Owing to a vast sum laid out for mourning, the total expenses of the ceremony amounted to £418. As many inaccuracies have been published respecting Whitson's early life in Bristol, it may be well to state that he migrated when young from his birthplace in the Forest of Dean, and after receiving some education in Bristol was apprenticed, in September, 1570, for eight years to Nicholas Cutt, wine merchant, and Bridget his wife, a youthful couple, both of aldermanic parentage, who had been married only a few months. Whether Whitson remained with his master after the end of the apprenticeship in 1578 is uncertain; but soon after Cutt's death, about two years later, he was in the employment of the widow, for whom he managed the profitable business that had been bequeathed to her, together with all his property, by her late husband. About the same time, by the death of her father, Alderman Saxey, Mrs. Cutt, an only child, inherited another considerable estate. What is said to have happened under these circumstances is told by the Wiltshire antiquary, John Aubrey, who was a grandson of Whitson's third wife, and a godson of Whitson himself, but who erroneously styles the lady Vawr instead of Cutt. “He [Whitson] was a handsome young fellow, and his old master being dead, his mistress one day called him into the wine cellar, and bade him broach the best butt in the cellar for her. . . . His mistress afterwards married him. This story will last perhaps as long as Bristol is a city”. The wedding took place on April 12th, 1585, when Whitson was over thirty years of age, and the bride thirty-eight. A daughter was born to them in 1586. The union appears to have been approved by the lady's family, for in the latter year her mother transferred to Whitson and his wife several houses in various parts of the city (including property then standing on the site of the curious timber house at the corner


of Wine and High Street) in consideration of a small life annuity; while a few years later John Cutt, a nephew of Nicholas, conveyed the manor of Burnet, Somerset, to trustees, for the benefit of the same parties. Entering upon a mercantile career under these advantages, Whitson soon attained a high position, and eventually became the most prominent and influential citizen of his time. As has been already shown, he was five times elected one of the members of Parliament for Bristol, and seems to have won much repute in the House of Commons for intelligence and ability. “He kept”, says Aubrey, “a noble house, and did entertain the peers and great persons that came to the city. He kept his hawks. I remember five [youths] that had been bred up under him, but not one of them came to good; they lived so luxuriously. He was charitable in breeding up of poor scholars. . . . He had a fair house in St. Nicnolas Street [on the site of Stuckey's Bank], where is the stateliest dining-room in the city. His only daughter dying, Richard Wheeler, his nephew, who was bred a merchant under him, was his heir, but he proving a sot and a coxcomb, he settled all his estate upon the city for pious uses”. Wheeler's unworthiness is attested by one of the codicils to Whitson's will, but it must be admitted that the old alderman, like some other philanthropists, in his desire to win lasting fame for munificent charity, treated his near relatives with slender consideration. Eight years before his death he had enfeoffed nearly the whole of his real estate on trustees, to uses to be defined by his will, and by a testament made in 1627 almost the whole was ordered to be transferred to the Corporation, who were to apply the profits to benevolent purposes, chief of which was the foundation of a hospital for the maintenance and training of forty girls, daughters of freemen, “to go and be apparelled in red cloth”. The residue of his personal estate, after the payment of a great number of small legacies, was to devolve, as to two-thirds (about £3,000) on the Corporation for charities, and as to one-third on his two sisters and their children. The latter beneficiaries were to be entirely disinherited if they sought to upset the testator's arrangements. They nevertheless filed a Bill in Chancery, disputing the validity of the will, and a long and costly litigation followed; but though the Court finally decided against them, and upheld Whitson's bequests, their third of the residue was not withheld.

In the State Papers for June, 1629, is a remarkable


petition presented by Captain Charles Driver, of Bristol, to the Lords of the Admiralty. It sets forth that, in conformity with the commission of the late Lord Admiral, two Bristol merchants, Humphrey Hooke and Humphrey Browne, had sent out two ships in command of the petitioner and another man, who had captured a Sallee corsair, brought it into Bristol, and had it condemned as lawful prize. Whereupon, on the complaint of some London merchants, the petitioner had been summoned before the Privy Council for having acted illegally, and now prayed relief. It is shown by another document that, although the people of Sallee practically lived by piracy, and though hosts of Englishmen had languished there in slavery, the Londoners who raised the above complaint had established a trading settlement amongst the bandits, had turned over £60,000 in their traffic there during the previous year, and were anxious that the freebooters should not be interfered with, lest “they should take example by Algiers”, where the impudent complainants had a similar settlement, and where they alleged they had lost £8,600, in reprisal for the “wrongs” committed by Captain Driver and others! The issue of this scandalous affair has unfortunately perished.

Much ingenuity was displayed by the King's advisers in inventing new devices for raising money in contravention of the statute law. On June 23rd, doubtless in consideration of a handsome payment, His Majesty granted to Robert Wright, of Bristol, and his sons Erasmus and Thomas, for their lives, license to keep a tavern or wine-cellar in the mansion house in which they dwelt in the city, and therein to sell good wine, notwithstanding the provisions of an Act of James I. for regulating licenses. The grant was to be held to date from June, 1628, and any penalties for acts committed after that time were pardoned. Subsequently the privilege of issuing those illegal licenses was sold to Lord Goring, and amongst an immense number conceded by that nobleman was one dated October 8th, 1633, to Henry and Charles Whitaker, for their lives, permitting them to keep a tavern or wine-cellar in their mansion in the town or village of Clifton, Gloucestershire, paying 20s. yearly. In the following year, in consideration of £10, and yearly payments of the same sum, Goring granted two similar licenses to Walter Steevens and Richard Gardiner, of Bristol.

The earliest mention of the Bristol Hot Well as a resort of aristocratic invalids occurs in a letter dated July 22nd,


preserved in the State Papers. Lord Poulett, writing from his Somerset seat at Hinton to Secretary Lord Dorchester, announces his return home after having left his wife at “the Wells” at Bristol. The well-known Bulstrode Whitelock, afterwards Recorder of the city, had visited the spring in 1628, and noted that it was famous for the cure of leprosy. In the same year Thomas Venner, M.D., published a treatise on “The Baths of Bath”, to which he added a “Censure”, meaning a criticism, “concerning the water of St. Vincent's Rock, near Bristol (urbs pulchra et emporium celebre), which begins to grow in great request and use against the Stone”. The learned writer, whose dogmatism is not a little amusing, asserts that the medical efficacy of the water arose from the presence of sulphur and nitre, and possibly of other good minerals. “The water is frequented for no other use but for the drinking of it against the Stone”, yet he immediately adds that in consequence of this peculiar virtue people of all sorts repaired to the place, and so abundantly glutted themselves at the spring that but few were benefitted and many hurt, seeing that they weakened the stomach, subverted the liver, annoyed the head, occasioned cramps and pain of the joints, and bred crudities, rhumes, coughs, dropsy, and consumption! After drawing this appalling picture, the doctor lays down ten voluminous rules for the guidance of visitors, who are nevertheless warned to obtain the advice of a local physician. Especial care was to be taken not to give the water to children or to aged persons, as it would “abbreviate their life by extinguishing their innate heat”. “Some perilous accidents may happen oftentimes in the use of the water” if it were rashly taken, but its “virtues will be better known if people make a right and good use thereof”. About two years after the publication of this pompous drivel, in March, 1630, one John Bruckshaw addressed a petition to the King, in which he had the effrontery to assert that at great labour and expense he had discovered the spring (described 160 years before by William Worcester). It lay, he said, between high-water and low-water mark, and cured many diseases, far beyond any known bath in the kingdom. On June 5th, in the same year, Charles I. granted permission to the impostor to enclose the spring for forty years, with power to take in adjoining ground “from the sea” for making baths and building a house, to which visitors could resort; and with further power to dig in the rocks for gold, silver, and crystal, on paying to the Crown a yearly rent of 20s. The


lords of the manor of Clifton being doubtless on the alert, Mr. Bruckshaw's impudent manoeuvres proved abortive. In 1632 another Bath physician, Edward Jordan, in a treatise on mineral waters, speaks of the spring as ranking with the chalybeate waters of Spa and Tunbridge; while Fuller, in his “Book of Worthies” (1662), extols the well as “sovereign for sores and sicknesses”, and alleges that beer brewed therewith was “wholesome against the spleen”. Further evidence as to the extensive reputation of the Hot Well will be given in 1634. The above facts dispose of a legend, originally printed in 1764 by Dr. Randolph, of Bristol, that the medicinal virtues of the spring were first made known in 1668, by the case of James Gagg, a baker, in Castle Street, whose repeated dreams that he would be cured of a painful disease by drinking the water were fulfilled, to the amazement of the public.

The Corporation resolved in 1629 to bear the yearly expense of entertaining the judges and Recorder during the assizes and gaol delivery. Lord Chief Justice Hyde, who was also Recorder, paid one visit in the spring and another in the autumn, when he was invited to take up his quarters in the houses of Alderman Rogers and Alderman Pitt, the former being afterwards paid £13 10s. and the latter £26 10s. for the outlay they had incurred. His lordship also received £10 as travelling expenses to the assizes, besides his usual fee of £26 13s. 4d. as Recorder. The liberality was probably inspired by the anxiety of the Council to retain the Chief Justice's services in the civic office.

Alderman Robert Rogers, mentioned above, was a member of a family of soapmakers, which acquired great wealth in the later years of Elizabeth, and lived in some magnificence in the mansion known as the Great House on the Bridge, but which really stood at the end of Redcliff Street. After his death, in 1633, the Great House became untenanted, and subsequently was for some time converted into an inn. Towards the end of the century it was purchased by Sir Thomas Day of Sir Edward Fust, and again became a private residence.

Contemptuously trampling upon the decision of the Court of Exchequer twenty years before (see p.36), the demands of the Board of Green Cloth for a composition in lieu of wine purveyance were revived this year against the Bristol merchants. A corporate deputation was vainly sent up to the Government to protest against the extortion, and an action was raised by the King's patentee in the Court of


Exchequer. At the trial, however, the judgment of 1609 was produced by the defendants, when the patentee was non-suited, and forbidden to further molest them. In the meantime the Board of Green Cloth made a fresh claim for a composition for purveyance of groceries, spices, and oils, against which the merchants made a strong remonstrance to the Privy Council; and the latter body, after much discussion, gave up the claim as regarded groceries, except when the Court was near Bristol, but insisted on an entirely novel imposition on sweet (Levant) oils, and rejected a composition offered by the merchants, about sixty of whom were interested in the trade. A bargain was, however, struck in April, 1630, between the Green Cloth officials and two delegates of the Corporation, Humphrey Hooke and Thomas Colston, it being agreed that the royal claims should be dropped on the merchants paying £100 for “arrerages”, and 100 marks yearly for the future. “Foreigners” or non-freemen were excluded from this arrangement, and were victimised at the caprice of the purveyance collectors. Before the negotiation was concluded the Privy Council demanded a loan from the city on behalf of the King; but the Common Council ordered that a “fair letter” should be forwarded to the Lord Treasurer stating inability to comply with the request, and directing attention to the large sums already due to the Corporation from the Exchequer. The Government temporarily withdrew its request, but so far as can be inferred from an extremely obscure civic minute of December, 1630, the loan had been then again demanded, with a promise of early repayment. A subscription was started in the Council Chamber, and produced a total of £680. The subscriptions varied from £60 to £10, but nine members refused to contribute.

The abominable foulness of the streets, caused by the parsimony of the authorities, was the subject of much debate in the Council about this time, a committee being at length appointed to effect a reform. That body reported that the Raker had stated that it was impossible to cleanse all the city thoroughfares for the £30 yearly allowed to him, and prayed to be freed from the employment or better paid. They therefore recommended that, to avoid noisome stenches, preserve the public health, and maintain the credit of the city, the allowance should be increased to £70 a year, the additional sum to be assessed upon the inhabitants. The report was confirmed by the Council in December, 1629, it being stipulated that, in addition to the


streets usually cleansed, the scavenger should attend to the Pithay, Broadmead, St. James's Back, Lewin's Mead, and Christmas Street, that had previously been wholly neglected.

Examples have been already given of the singular manner in which corporate ordinances, after having long fallen into disuse, were suddenly revived. The Council, in December, seemingly annoyed by the disregard of pomp that characterized some of its members, disinterred an obsolete ordinance, passed about sixty years before, requiring aldermen and councillors, on certain holidays, to array themselves in scarlet, and ordered this to be thenceforth “continued”, a fine of 6s. 8d. being imposed on any one appearing in church on such days without his scarlet, whether attending the Mayor or not. It was further ordained that on ordinary Sundays every member attending church, either for prayer or sermon, should wear a black gown, or pay the same fine. Any past sheriff neglecting to provide himself with a gown lined with fur was to be mulcted 40s. All the corporate officials, great and small, had gowns provided yearly out of the civic purse. In 1634 order was given that any of the sheriffs' yeomen neglecting to wear their coats, basket-hilted swords and daggers, were to be immediately dismissed.

Many of the Bristol privateers mentioned in the previous list obtained renewed letters of marque in 1629, and were reinforced by four others, whose names and owners were as follows:-

Phoenix, 200 tons, R. Hull, etc.Endeavour, 80, R. Strangway, etc.
Willing Mind, 200, R. Strangway, etc.Dainty, 80, G. Headland, etc.

The reports of prizes are less numerous than in 1628. The Collector of Customs, writing to Secretary Nicholas in April, 1630, announces the arrival of “a great prize” brought in by the Eagle, and also of two others, adding that he had forwarded in a box a mermaid's hand and rib, said to be good to make rings for the cramp, and to stop blood, with other virtues. The same writer, in December, reports the return of the Eagle with another rich prize, adding that the chief owner of the privateer, Humphrey Hooke, is regarded as “the only happy man that way”, the prizes taken by the Eagle being worth not less than £40,000. The owners, he added, were fearful because this last prize was taken so near the conclusion of peace, and would discharge at once without acquainting the Admiralty. “A


letter from the Lords for that presumption would beget two or three chests of sugar” - a hint that was not likely to fall on deaf ears. The accounts of the Auditor of the Exchequer in 1632 state that the net value of the prizes brought into Bristol, Weymouth, Lyme, and Minehead during the war amounted to £134,600, of which one-tenth was received by the Admiralty; but the figures are almost certainly inaccurate. In the State Papers for November, 1635, is a petition to the King from the merchants and shipowners of Bristol, alleging that the Admiralty tenth, paid on prizes entering the port, had amounted to £20,000, and that an equal sum had been paid to the Crown in Customs on the merchandise, in spite of which the local Customer, Dowle, was persecuting the owners of privateers by an Exchequer Commission, and making groundless charges of fraud. The evidence taken in Bristol by this commission, which was directed to the Bishop and others, is also in the Record Office, and attests the malignity of Dowle, who could produce nothing in support of his allegations. The only interesting fact disclosed was a statement of the Vice-Admiral's deputy in Bristol, to the effect that during the three years he was employed there were “three score and odd” prizes brought into the port. Willett, he added, on one occasion accepted a gift of a chest of sugar, to hasten the passing of a prize cargo.

Some light is thrown on the habits of the cathedral dignitaries of the period by a letter which Bishop Wright addressed to Archbishop Abbot and Bishop Laud in February, 1630. His recent ordination, he wrote, had wanted nothing in solemnity save the presence of the Dean or Canons, or some of them, to assist in the imposition of hands. In their absence, he had been fain to use singing men and others, who should not approach so high.

On April 1st the Lords of the Admiralty directed Sir Thomas Button to repair with two ships of war to the coast of Ireland and the Severn for the protection of such merchants as traded to the fairs at Bristol held at St. James's and St. Paul's tide - which indicates the importance of those great marts. H.M.S. Convertine, then lying at Hungroad, probably received similar instructions, for the commander, Captain Plumley, writing to the Admiralty on April 22nd, narrates the difficulties he had encountered in leaving the Avon. He set sail, the wind being in the east, with the help of eight great tow-boats and sixty yokes of oxen, but the ship was nevertheless in much hazard of


being lost, and he “never knew what hearty fear meant till then”. In July the Bristol Customer informed Secretary Nicholas that the Fifth Whelp warship was at Waterford to waft over vessels to Bristol fair, but that many Irish and English barks had been taken by the “Biscayners”, who were a terror to traders. In August, 1633, the commander of a King's ship wrote to Secretary Nicholas that he had convoyed fifty barks in safety from Ireland to Bristol fair, though they sighted “a villain” that lay in wait for them.

Tidings of the birth of the Prince of Wales on May 29th reached Bristol three days later, and were hailed with demonstrations of joy. The Corporation reared a prodigious bonfire in the evening near the High Cross, and similar fires blazed, says a chronicler, in every street, “that the like was never seen”.

So early as 1604 the proceedings of one Morgan, a landowner at Pill, in interfering with the navigation of the Avon, had given the Corporation much trouble. He was prosecuted for nuisances, convicted, and imprisoned during the reign of James I., but the punishment seems to have had little effect, for his name repeatedly crops up in the corporate records, though in too vague a manner to be worth reproduction. Before 1630 he had been succeeded by a son, whose conduct was more intolerable than that of his father, and the irritated Corporation resolved on complaining of his malpractices to the Government, and of sparing no expense in putting an end to them. In June, 1630, a petition was laid before the Privy Council, setting forth that Morgan had not only prevented the use of certain posts set up at Pill for the mooring of ships, but had erected a house on the river bank, directly in front of an ancient tree, which for time out of mind had been used for mooring purposes, besides committing other abuses tending to the ruin of the citizens. Evidence having been adduced in support of these charges, the Privy Council expressed itself convinced of the damage caused by Morgan's exorbitant proceedings, ordered him to demolish the house, and to suffer new posts to be erected, the magistrates being empowered, on his refusal, to commit him to prison until he submitted. By some means, however, the culprit obtained a rehearing of the case, and it would appear that the Government determined on sending two influential and impartial personages to visit the place, and report upon the matters in dispute. A few weeks later, the Archbishop of York, and subsequently the Chief Justice of the Common


Pleas, arrived for this purpose in Bristol, and, after being sumptuously entertained by the Corporation, were severally conducted to Pill, in boats stored with roast beef, pies, sweetmeats, cakes, and wine, an enormous quantity of gunpowder being spent in firing salutes. The report of the judge is not to be found; but that of the Archbishop denounces Morgan's conduct in vigorous terms. The tree and posts, wrote his grace, were so indispensable to shipping that no power of man without them could prevent wrecks and loss of life in bad weather; and the port might be utterly overthrown if other riparian landlords followed a similar course. But this was not all. Morgan's perversity had induced him to set up a sconce (fort), which, whilst impeding commerce, was destroying the morals and spirit of seafaring men; for it was a sconce fortified with eleven great ordnance, namely, strong pothouses or tap-houses, discharging, not powder and shot, but [tobacco] smoke and strong beer, defiling the people with drunkenness, filthiness, and robbery of their masters' goods - all which should be totally and finally eradicated. The Archbishop concluded with a glowing eulogium on Bristol, asserting that for orderly government, care of religion and the poor, advancement of the King's customs, and heartiness to do him service, he knew no city worthy to be preferred to it; whilst for good treatment of the clergy it surpassed all. With this report before them, the Privy Council, on October 29th, re-affirmed the previous order, requiring the occupier of the pothouse in front of the old tree to demolish his dwelling forthwith, or to appear before them to answer for his contempt. If he resisted, the Corporation (who had offered him £30 towards building another house) were empowered to remove the nuisance. The Council at the same time directed the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas to give proper instructions to the judges of assize for the holding of an inquiry “into the erecting of a little town, as they call it, consisting all of alehouses at Crockern Pill, and to give orders for remedying the abuse”. The civic dignitaries who had been sent up to Court returned home in triumph, but the affair had entailed an infinity of “gratifications”. A gentleman of the King's Bedchamber, the clerks of the Privy Council, the clerks' men, the doorkeepers, the doorkeepers' men, the Lord Treasurer's secretary and his doorkeeper, the porters of the Privy Seal, the Archbishop's secretary, and various minor underlings received gratuities. A buck was presented to the


Archbishop, and a handsome gift of wine, sugar, etc., costing £20 14s. 8d., was forwarded to him at York. Six sugar loaves, value £4 6s. 6d., and wine to the value of £16 9s. 8d., were sent to the Lord Chief Justice. The £30 promised to the alehouse keeper were paid, and the building was demolished. Morgan, however, was not yet disposed of, and will turn up again.

Concurrently with the above proceedings, the Corporation were carrying on a negotiation with the Government for the purchase of Bristol Castle. On July 1st the Council petitioned the King on the subject, stating that they had expended £759 for billeting soldiers and transporting them to Ireland. His Majesty having lately granted a lease of the Castle to one Brewster, for three lives, at a rent of £100, the petitioners prayed that, in consideration of the above outlay, they might be granted the fortress in fee-farm at a rent of £40. The memorial was referred to Sir Thomas Fanshaw, who reported that on an inspection made in 1625 he found the ruins of the Castle exceeding great, and the precincts covered with little cottages piled on the head of one another, and used as a sanctuary from arrests. As the only profit derived by the Crown was the rent of £100, which was not likely to be maintained, he thought a grant to the Corporation would not be prejudicial. The Lord Treasurer thereupon directed the grant to be prepared, but an additional sum of £200 was first wrung from the Corporation. Numerous as had been the tips required in the Pill case, they were insignificant when compared with those extorted during the Castle business. The Attorney-General and his staff demanded over £27. A secretary, for procuring the King's signature, got nearly £12, and nearly £18 were paid to the Privy Seal officials. The Great Seal cost £17 11s. A Mr. Gibbons received £80; his man, £3; Sir Tobias Matthew, £20; and Sir Thomas Fanshaw, £10, “all gratuities”. The Lord Treasurer had a gift of 98 ounces of double gilt silver plate; Mr. Noy (about to become Attorney-General) accepted similar plate weighing 45 ounces; the Lord Privy Seal had a hogshead of wine; and “one of the Kind's bedchamber, for his favour”, a large consignment of wine, oil, and sugar. Gifts to clerks and underlings were made by the city delegates in London, to which the Chamberlain made three journeys, and where he remained nearly half a year. Brewster's rent of £100 was henceforth received by the Corporation; but he profited largely from the rentals


paid by the occupiers of the precincts, besides enjoying the occupation of the great mansion known as the Military House, with its extensive gardens. As was perhaps natural, the two parties concerned in the property were soon on bad terms, in April, 1632, Brewster, in a petition to the Privy Council, complained that though he had been at great charge in repairing the place - which probably means that he had been striving to increase his tenants and his rentals - he had been much wronged and hindered by the magistrates. Their lordships thereupon instructed the Bishop, the Mayor, the Sheriff of Gloucestershire, and Sir Ferdinando Gorges to meet and hold an inquiry into the facts, and to report the result. No report is now to be found, but the Corporation doubtless found it desirable to get rid of an inconvenient tenant, and in 1634 Brewster's outstanding interest was acquired for the sum of £520 10s.

Lord Chief Justice Hyde resigned the Recordership in June, 1630, owing to the impossibility of reconciling the duties of his dual offices. It appears that the Attorney-General had applied for a Quo warranto against the Corporation (though the civic records afford no information on the matter except that the writ was ultimately stayed on payment of £10), and the judgment of the Chief Justice on the case, whatever it might be, would not have been seemly if it had come from the mouth of the Recorder. He therefore withdrew, and declined to recommend a successor, though, if the Council desired his opinion, he would “name Mr. ”William Noy, a man of great note, hardly to be matched“. Noy was forthwith elected; but on being apprised of his appointment, he at once wrote to the Mayor, desiring to be excused, ”for reasons best known to himself“. He was, in fact, appointed Attorney-General in the following October. On his refusal, John Glanville, afterwards Serjeant-at-Law and Speaker of the House of Commons, was elected Recorder.

The office of Lord High Steward became vacant in July by the death of the Earl of Pembroke. Faithful to the custom of securing support in high places, the Council, in August, elected to the vacancy the Lord Treasurer, Lord Weston, afterwards Earl of Portland, an abject flatterer and pliant tool of the then despotic King, and notorious for his insolence and arrogance towards others.

After the death of James I., the custom amongst the nobility of permitting a company of travelling actors to assume the name of their patron went out of fashion, and


dramatic entertainments in Bristol, except possibly at the great fairs, became very rare. In the summer of 1630 the ”King's players“ performed before the Corporation for the first time, with one exception, during five years, and received the usual gift of £2. But in September, when another troop made their appearance, they were ordered out of the city with a dole of 20s.; and the King's players were similarly treated in 1631, though the gift was doubled. In 1633 the Mayor gave another company 20s. ”to be rid of them“, and his successor, in 1634, bestowed 30s. on a party 44 to rid them out of town”. Later in the same year a company received £2, and may, perhaps, have performed; but in 1635 the same sum is stated to have been disbursed to a band 44 because they should not play“, and also to 44 a player”, probably a conjuror, “for that he should not use his skill here”. A tumbler, armed with a license from the Master of the Revels, had the munificent gift of half a crown from the Chamberlain. Dramatic and other amusements thenceforth disappear from the city accounts for a quarter of a century.

In anticipation of the usual muster of the trained bands, the Corporation, in September, presented two of the three captains, Richard Aldworth and Giles Elbridge, with new “antients” (colours), which cost nearly £30. The yearly marshalling of the bands was occasionally enlivened by the presence of a nobleman of distinction. The Earl of Arundel came down in 1634, and the Corporation, mindful of a former oversight, not only hastened to present him with wine, sugar, conserves, prunes, and other delicacies, but invited his son, Lord Maltravers, who had inspected the troopers, to a sumptuous dinner in the great mansion of the Creswick family, in Small Street.

In the State Papers for November, 1630, is an account of the troubles of Derrick Popley, one of the Sheriffs of Bristol, then in custody, by order of the Privy Council, charged with engrossing salt. Mr. Popley explained in a petition for relief that he yearly imported 5,000 bushels of foreign salt, but that, having a ship bound on a fishing voyage, he had sent an agent to the Somerset ports, who had bought up 700 tons, for which he and his agent had been arrested And carried to London. One Windham, the informer, alleged before the Privy Council that Popley's purchases at Watchet and other places had raised the local price of salt from 4s. 8d. to 15s. a bushel. The issue is not recorded. In the following year, at the election of Mayor, the


ex-Sheriff was fined £10 for contemptuously neglecting to be present in the Chamber.

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

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