The Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century

By John Latimer

Author of ‘Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century’.

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013


In January, 1761, was published “An Hymn to the Nymph of Bristol Spring (with beautiful Cuts, price 1s. 6d.)”, by William Whitehead, who a few years later was honoured with the office of Poet Laureate. Mr. Whitehead's so-called poem is a finished specimen of the bastard classicism in vogue at that drearily prosaic period. Avonia, dishonoured by Neptune, is endowed by him, as an atonement, with the power of healing diseases, especially those that have relation to Love, and is always attended by her handmaids, Mirth and Peace. The respective beauties of the other English


spas are declared to be united in Avonia's retreat, which has an attraction peculiar to itself in the “lurking” diamonds which “mimic those of Ind”. An incomprehensible episode follows, in honour of a certain Leya, who is said to have given her name to the village of Leigh; and Avonia is finally petitioned to diffuse her healing influence over foreign nations, as her waters never lose their virtue by time or change of climate - a little puff for which the Bristol bottle makers were doubtless grateful. Mr. Whitehead's poem seems to have had some influence on the attendance at the Weil during the following summer, the London Morning Post of August 2nd observing:- “We hear from Bristol that there is the fullest season ever known at the Hot Wells”.

William Champion, of Bristol, merchant, who had obtained a patent in 1737 for manufacturing spelter (zinc) from English ores, petitioned the House of Commons in 1751 for a renewal of his privilege. He asserted that previous to his discovery spelter was obtained solely from the East Indies, the price being at one time raised by the combination of importers to £260 per ton. Having erected large works [at Warmley] in which many hundred men were employed, he had produced spelter of the best quality, whereupon his rivals, importing excessive supplies, had reduced the price per ton to £48, though at a heavy loss to themselves. Being a great sufferer from this proceeding, he prayed for an extension of his patent. The House ordered a Bill to be brought in for that purpose, but owing to an opposition organised in Lancashire the measure was dropped.

Early in the session of 1751, Mr. Nugent, a member of the Government, who subsequently represented Bristol in three Parliaments, brought forward a Bill for the naturalisation of foreign Protestants, refugees from the persecution of the Romanist powers of the continent. A similar Bill had become law in 1708, but was repealed under the Tory Ministry of 1711. Its revival excited alarm in many quarters, and several corporations petitioned against it, alleging that such an encouragement to immigration would flood the labour market, and throw English workmen out of employment. The Common Council and the Merchants' Society of Bristol supported the measure, which also found a warm advocate in the Rev. Josiah Tucker, rector of St. Stephen's, who published an able pamphlet on the subject. On the other hand a number of citizens memorialised the Commons against the scheme, disapproving of its provisions, and asserting that the two local petitions in its favour


expressed the opinion of less than forty persons. (The Opposition in London seized the opportunity to reprint Sir John Knight's famous tirade of 1694 against foreign Protestants. The rancorous effusion of the old Bristol Jacobite appeared in Read's Journal of March 9th, 1751.) The Ministry, with characteristic timidity, withdrew the Bill just before the third reading, in April. The intelligence was received with rejoicing by the opposition in Bristol. The church bells rang merry peals, while the populace patrolled the streets with Tucker's elegy, which was ignominiously burnt.

Petitions to the House of Commons were forwarded during the session by the Corporation and the Merchants' Society, expressing great concern at the excessive drinking of gin and other spirits amongst the working classes, leading to frequent instances of sudden death, the general depravation of health and morals, and the increase of crime and poverty. In consequence of numerous petitions to the same effect, an Act was passed, the preamble of which asserted that the above evils arose in a great measure from the number of persons who vended liquors under pretence of being distillers. The statute absolutely prohibited the retailing of spirits by manufacturers, and imposed increased penalties on unlicensed vendors, an offender being liable to a public whipping upon a second conviction and to transportation for seven years upon a third!

At a meeting of the Council on the 23rd of February, a plan was produced for building a new bridge over the Froom at the head of the Quay, by which a carriage road would be opened from the bottom of Small Street to St. Augustine's Back. The matter was referred to a committee, which, after considering the matter for nearly three years, reported that the proposed bridge would prove an accommodation to the citizens. The dean and chapter having some property near the spot, an application for the sanction of that body was made in December, 1753, and the first response was an unreserved assent. In February, 1755, the chapter required, however, that the approaches should not be wider than would admit two carriages abreast, and in the following year it was mutually agreed that the road should not exceed twenty-five feet in width. The bridge, which was completed in 1755, cost the Corporation nearly £1,826.

The death of the Prince of Wales, in May, 1761, occasioned demonstrations of regret which were probably much more noisy than sincere. Amongst the items of civic


expense were “Gunpowder, £20 18s. Paid John Simmons for painting two royal escution and plumb of feathers, placed in the mayor's chapel, hauling and firing guns £11 10s. 9d”.

At a meeting of the Council, in December, 1761, on the motion of Alderman Dampier, it was resolved that a handsome state coach and harness, bearing only the arms of the city, should be provided by the Corporation for the use of the mayor for the time being, “and that this coach shall not on any pretence whatsoever be used out of the liberty of this city”. It was further ordered, on the motion of the same gentleman, that a handsome scabbard of gilt plate, with arms and devices, should be bought at the expense of the Chamber, to be used by each mayor “instead of the scabbard which hath been usually presented by the sheriffs on New Year's Day”; future sheriffs undertaking to present each mayor “with such piece or pieces of plate as he himself shall choose, of a value of not less than 60 guineas, on New Year's Day, as usual”. It was further resolved that the cost of the new scabbard should be repaid by future sheriffs at the rate of five guineas yearly. The coach resulting from the above resolution was a very gorgeous affair, the pattern being taken from the carriage of the Lord Mayor of London; and it is amusing to find that the first payment (£34 8s.) was made to Alderman Dampier himself, for “42½ yards of crimson cassoy”. The manufacture of the vehicle occupied eighteen months. The coachbuilder was paid £139, the carver £134, the brazier £136, the lace-dealer £77, the painter £100, and the glass-maker £22 10s. With other items for leather, smith's work, etc., the outlay was over £700. The coach was displayed in public for the first time in June, 1763, on the anniversary of the king's accession, and excited much admiration. The vehicle had a brief career. After only sixteen years' use, it was reported as greatly out of repair, and it was soon after sold to Mr. William Weare for £63. The resolution in reference to the mayor's scabbard must have been tacitly modified, for the result was the magnificent sword still carried on state occasions, with a blade nearly 3½ feet in length, and a silver handle of great size and massive scroll work. The silver work on the sword and scabbard, weighing nearly 202 ounces, cost £176 13s. 3d., and the velvet, gold plate, and other items, raised the first outlay to £188 6s. 3d., exclusive of £3 3s, given to John Simmons, a painter of local repute, for “drawing the design”. In 1756 it required repairs,


costing £13, and the silversmith, Nath. Nangle, for “his extraordinary trouble and expenses about the sword”, was paid £21 more in 1768.

An attempt to ascertain the population of the city at the end of the first half of the century was made by a gentleman named John Browning, of Barton Hill. Having forwarded his calculations to the Royal Society, they were printed in the Transactions of that body for 1763 (vol. x. p. 379). Mr. Browning founded the statistics upon the number of burials recorded in the ten years ending 1760, and also upon the number of houses. As the interments of persons dying in the out-parishes of St. James and St. PhiUp took place in the city, the population of those suburban districts was necessarily included. The burials in the above period were stated to have been 17,317; and as “the latest and most accurate observations demonstrate that in great cities a 26th part of the people die yearly”, Mr. Browning estimated the population at 43,276. The number of houses rated to the land-tax at Michaelmas, 1761, was 4,866, to which the writer added 1,216 for small tenements, hospitals, etc., and 1,200 more for the out-parishes, making a total of 7,282. Reckoning the average number of inmates at six per house, the population was found to be 43,692, of whom about 36,600 lived within the city, and 7,200 in the suburbs. The calculations tend to confirm the accuracy of the statistics preserved by Browne Willis (p. 194).

An account of the local newspapers issued in the first half of the century was given under the year 1702. It is now proposed to deal briefly with their successors. In March, 1762, Samuel and Felix Farley, sons and successors of the Samuel Farley who started a paper about 1713, dissolved partnership, and became rivals in trade, the elder brother continuing to publish the old Bristol Journal in Castle Street, while Felix, on the 28th March, issued from Small Street the first number of a periodical bearing his own name, which was destined to live until within living memory. Felix Farley assured advertisers that his new Journal would extend further than any other yet published in the city, while purchasers were advised to preserve their copies, because, in addition to the news of the week, “we purpose to render our composition a kind of library of arts and sciences”. The brothers did not long survive their reparation. Felix's death was announced in his paper of the 28th April, 1763, when the public were informed that the business would be continued by his widow [Elizabeth]


and son, who alleged that their stock of types consisted “of a large and curious collection compleated by the most ingenious artists in Europe”. Samuel died in the autumn of the same year, and was succeeded by his niece, Sarah, who soon after announced that she would continue the Journal, and that to give greater publicity to advertisements they would be posted “in the most public places in the city, and especially the Exchange and Tolzey, in the market place, and on the several city gates, and by men who carry the Journal into the country by Monday (two days after publication) to fix them up in the cities of Bath and Wells, and all the market towns”. Neither of the papers showed any lack of vigour whilst conducted by ladies. Elizabeth published a letter in Felix Farley's Journal of January 11th, 1755, referring to the remarks of a rival editor, already mentioned:- “Edward Ward, originally a haberdasher, and late a maltster, distiller, &c., &c, at present a bookseller, printer, and publisher of a virulent party paper” - the Intelligencer, A little later she twitted Sarah Farley with publishing articles a month old, and described the editor of the Bristol Chronicle as unauthentic and hasty. Sarah was a Quaker, and horrified that pacific body in 1769 by reproducing in her paper Junius's celebrated “Letter to a King”, for which, according to the chapel minutes, she was severely reproached, and took “the monition kindly”. She continued, however, to reproduce Junius's invectives as they appeared. On her death, in 1774, the Journal was continued by her administratrix, Hester Farley, “a near relative”. As Hester was, in fact, a daughter of Felix, the chronic quarrels of the family seem to have been still unappeased. In the following year, however, Hester disposed of the paper to “Rouths and Company; ”who in July, 1777, gave it the distinctive title of Sarah Farley's Bristol Journal, In the meantime a new rival had appeared. Sarah's former foreman and clerk, annoyed at not being chosen as her successors, set up Bonner and Middleton's Bristol Journal in August, 1774, so that there were three local papers of the same name. The inconvenience of this arrangement was obvious, but it was not until about the close of the century that Sarah Farley's Journal was acquired by new proprietors, who changed its title, but were unable to keep it alive. Bonner and Middleton's Journal became the Mirror in April, 1804, and was for some years the most popular paper in the city. The Bristol Chronicle was started by John Grabham, in Narrow Wine Street, on the 5th January, 1760, but had a brief


career. The Bristol Gazette was begun in 1767 by William Pine, an able printer, who had been connected with the Chronicle, and his paper was throughout the remainder of the century the organ of the Corporation and of the Whig party. The Bristol Mercury, “a new and impartial weekly paper”, was started on the 1st March, 1790, by Messrs. Bulgin and Rosser, of Broad Street and Wine Street. Rosser retired a few years later, when Bulgin became sole proprietor.

The cruel sport of cock-throwing was still popular on Shrove Tuesday. An order was issued by the magistrates in the spring of 1752, requiring the parish constables to apprehend persons assembling for this purpose; but as the populace could easily evade the threatened penalties by taking a stroll into the suburbs, the decree can have had little effect.

A remarkable scene at an execution of three criminals at St. Michael's gallows is recorded in Felix Farley's Journal of April 26th, 1762: “After the cart drove away”, says the reporter, “the hangman very deservedly had his head broke for endeavouring to pull off Mooney's shoes, and a fellow had like to have been killed in mounting the gallows to take away the ropes that were left after the malefactors were cut down. A young woman came fifteen miles for the sake of the rope from Mooney's neck, which was given to her, it being by many apprehended that the halter of an executed person will charm away the ague, and perform many other cures”. (Another superstition of the time was that children suffering from wens could be cured by having their necks stroked nine times by the hand of an executed criminal, and little patients were often brought to the gallows to undergo this operation.) Mooney's life was afterwards published in pamphlet form by Felix Farley, at the instance of the local Methodists, who claimed him as a convert. On his own confession he had led a life of crime from the age of sixteen, and had fought with the rebels at Culloden after deserting from the army. As showing the insecurity of the streets at that period, it may be added that Mooney's first victim in Bristol was Mr. Rich, son of an alderman, who was robbed near his father's house in Maudlin Lane. An hour or two later the rogue despoiled Mr. Shiercliff, a skilful portrait painter, of his watch and money in Queen Square. On the following day, accompanied by another thief, who suffered death with him, he attacked Mr. Wasborough, of Pen Park, on Durdham Down, but that gentleman beat off his assailants after receiving a pistol bullet in his hat. Mooney then


went alone to College Green, where he robbed a gentleman of a ring and some money. In honour of his conversion, the Methodists buried the criminal's body with great ceremony, and afterwards attempted to hold services over his grave, which were suppressed by the magistrates. This opportunity may be taken to give a list of the local executions that occurred during the second half of the century. Mr. Pryce's roll for the period contains the names of 32 criminals. The number of death punishments recorded below is 61, of which only five were for murder. It is probable that many other executions for suburban offences occurred at Gloucester and Ilchester, the newspaper reports being often defective.

1752.April 24,Nicholas Mooney ++ highway robbery
 "John Jones
 " W. Cudmore - return from transportation.
1753.May 7,W. Critchett unnatural crime.
 "Rich. Arnold
1754.Sept. 27,Thos. Larey - highway robbery.
 "Eliz. Hind - highway robbery.
1755.Aug. 18,Cath. Gardner - child murder.
 Oct. 3,Wm. Williams - forgery.
1758.Mar. 10(at Gloucester), Thos. Roberts - murder, Cutler's Mills.
 Aug. 24,John Hobbs - murder.
 Sept. 8,John Price - stealing ribbon.
 "Wm. Saunders - stealing cloth.
1761.June 1,Wm. D. Sheppard - unnatural crime.
 Oct. 22,Pat. Ward (gibbeted)- murder.
 Nov. 6,John Cope - return from transportation.
1763.June 24,James Rendall - burglary.
1764.April 16,Wm. Dawson - robbery.
 May 14,Thos. Usher - robbery of £1800.
 Aug. 24(Gloucester), John Jordan - robbery on the Down.
1765.Apr. 12(Glouc.) Wm. O'Brien ++ burglary, Dordban. Down.
 "   "    James Wall
1769.June 9,Robt. Slack - horse stealing.
1771.Dec. 10,John Faulker, soldier, shot on Brandon hill - desertion.
1772.May 15,Jonathan Britain - forgery.
1774.Apr. 22,Isaac Barrett - street robbery.
1775.Sept. 22,Dan. Haynes - housebreaking.
1776.Apr. 19(Glouc.), John Gilbert- burglary at Clifton.
 Sept. 16(Ilchester), John Stock - robbery, Bedminster.
1778.May 15,Thos. Crewys - forgery.
1781.Oct. 12,Benj. Loveday ++ unnatural crime.
 "John Burke
1783.Mar. 31,Jenkin Prothero (gibbeted) - murder.
 Apr. 16(Ilchester), Jos. Elkins - coining, Bedminster.
 May 23,Wm. Morley - forgery.
 "Wm. Shutler - housebreaking.
 Sept. 6(Bedminster), Geo. Gaines (17) - stealing linen.
1784.Apr. 8(Totterdown), Rich. Randall - highway robbery.
 Sept. 1(Ilchester), Thos. Phillips - robbery, Totterdown.
1785.Apr. 8,John Collins - murder.
 Aug. 10(Ilchester), Wm. Jones ++ robbery, Knowl.
 "   "    Bar. O'Neal
1786.Oct. 6,Ambrose Cook - highway robbery.


1788.Apr. 16(Glouc), Thos. Fox ++++ burglary, Cote House, Durdham Down.
 "   "    Chas. Frost
 "   "    Jas. Thorp
 "   "    Rob. Collings
1790.May 7,Edw. Macnamara - forgery.
 July 9,Wm. Hungerford - robbery.
1792.Apr. 14(Glouc.), Chris. Rochford ++ robberies, Durdham Down.
 "   "    John Hughes
1793.Apr. 10(Ilchester), Jenkin Jones - robbery, Bedminster.
 May 3,Robt. Hamilton - robbery.
1795.Apr. 24 Benj. Smith - forgery.
1798.Aug. 11(Glou.), John Roberts +++ robbery, St. George's.
 "   "    John Hawkins
 "   "    Benj. Gullick
1799.Apr. 26,James Baber +++ forgery.
 "Charles Powell
 "John Duggan
1800.Apr. 25,Rich. Haynes - shooting at a constable.

An attempt was made about this time by a joint stock company of local merchants to establish a new branch of commerce - the whale fishery. The concern was divided into 99 shares, the whole of which were apparently taken up. Felix Farley's Journal of July 18th, 1752, stated that the Bristol and Adventure, two ships fitted out by the company, had just arrived, “having had the good fortune to catch five whales, and 'tis said they are valued at £2000, which with the bounty money of 40s. per ton, make their voyage a very successful one”. The odoriferous cargo was landed at Sea Mills dock. The enterprise was continued for some years with varying results; and a third ship, the St. Andrew, was sent out in 1766 and 1766, perhaps by the same adventurers. Some difficulty was found in securing crews, and an advertisement in March, 1757, assured sailors that “a Greenland voyage is found by experience to be the healthiest in the world”, and that out of over ninety men engaged in the Bristol and Adventure, only one had died a natural death, and two been killed, in six successive voyages. The announcement did not add that the Adventure in the previous year had been frozen in the ice for upwards of ten weeks. Some unsuccessful voyages followed, and the Bristol Journal of March 22nd, 1761, contained a notification that the Whale Fishery Company had dissolved. Nevertheless, in January, 1766, the same paper published a report that several eminent local merchants were then “soliciting the grant of an island in the Gulph of Lawrence, which they propose to settle at their own expense, it having on a late survey been found extremely commodious for carrying on a Whale Fishery in those seas”. The application appears to have been unsuccessful.


A corporate notice in Felix Farley's Journal of July 18th, 1762, forbids any person to buy or sell leather in any tanner's yard or shop in Bristol, “or within ten miles round”, on penalty of the forfeiture of the goods. Leather was to be sold only at the fair, or at the leather market in the Back Hall - an extensive building, from which a large rental was received by the civic body. The above regulation was certainly illegal, and could be safely set at defiance by the population outside the city boundaries.

Cricket had few local votaries in the middle of the eighteenth century. It is never mentioned in the newspapers except as offering, like pugilism, racing, and cockfighting, an opportunity for gambling. A London journal of 1729 notified that a cricket match would take place on the town ham [sic] at Gloucester on the 22nd September “for upwards of 20 guineas”, and it is probable that the players were imported for the purpose. Felix Farley's Journal of August 29th, 1762, contains the following advertisement: “On Monday next will be played a match of cricket between eleven men of London and eleven men of Bristol, on Durdham Down, for the sum of 20 guineas”. The result is not recorded. The following still more significant paragraph occurs in the Gloucester Journal of May 29th, 1769:- “We near from Cirencester that the young gentlemen of that place are introducing the manly exercise of cricket into this county, where it has been hitherto unknown”. The writer adds that some matches had been already played for “considerable sums”. It may be interesting to add that many early cricket matches mentioned in the London newspapers were played by five men on each side.

The great success of the first Bristol bank naturally led to the establishment of a second local institution. Felix Farley's Journal of September 16th says:- “We hear that a Bank is now opened in Corn Street by Thomas Goldney, Morgan Smith, Michael Miller, Richard Champion, James Reed, and John Vaughan”. Mr. Miller was the wealthy merchant whom Hume exasperated by criticising his ungrammatical epistles. Though Vaughan's name stood last in the roll of proprietors, the business of the concern was chiefly derived from the old and extensive financial connection formed by his father as a private banker; and he was for some years the managing partner of the firm. The names of Goldney and Champion soon disappeared. In 1789 the proprietors consisted of Messrs. Vaughan, Baker,


Smith, Hale, and Davis; but previous to July, 1794, important changes had taken place, the firm then consisting of Messrs. Philip Miles, Bichard Vaughan, Jeremy Baker, Philip John Miles, Benjamin Baugh, and Samuel New. “Miles's Bank”, as it was popularly called, had a lengthy and prosperous career.

The Act for the reformation of the Calendar came into force in 1752, when the legal supputation by which the year began on the 25th March was abolished, and the common mode of reckoning from the 1st of January was universally established. This alteration was generally popular, but it was far otherwise with the next clause of the Act, by which the day following the 2nd September, 1762, was ordered to be called the 14th September, the eleven intermediate nominal days being omitted from the almanacs. The arrangement caused much temporary inconvenience to traders, farmers, and others accustomed to settlements at stated periods; out it was especially obnoxious to the uneducated classes, who held certain fixed festivals in special veneration, who could not understand why they should be deprived of nearly half a month, and who, many of them, believed that their lives would be shortened to a corresponding extent. As is shown by a well known picture of Hogarth's, the popular demand for the restoration of “our eleven days” became an election cry in 1754. In the meantime the opponents of the law sulkily submitted to it until Christmas gave them an opportunity for a manifestation. Felix Farley's Journal of January 6th, 1763, says:- “Yesterday being Old Christmas Day, the same was obstinately observed by our country people in general, so that (being market day according to the order of our magistrates) there were but few at market, who embraced the opportunity of raising their butter to 9d. or 10d. per pound” - about double the ordinary price. In some market towns the farmers were wholly absent; and to gratify the feelings of their parishioners, many rural clergymen preached “Nativity sermons” on the following Sunday. The flowering of the celebrated Glastonbury thorn was looked for with much anxiety. The first intelligence of its deportment gave satisfaction, the above newspaper affirming that the holy plant, after having contemptuously ignored the new style, burst into blossom on the 5th January, thus indicating that Old Christmas Day should alone be observed, in spite of an irreligious legislature. This story, strange to say, was printed at Hull for the use of the “flying stationers” who


then traversed the country, and produced an immense effect in the rural districts. Eventually some one thought it worth while to write to the vicar of Glastonbury, and the emptiness of the report was at once made known, the reverend gentleman declaring that the thorn “blossomed the fullest and finest about Christmas Day, new style, or rather sooner”. As farmers and labourers were not newspaper readers, however, their faith in the fable was transmitted to their descendants. Mr. Humphrey, in his “History of Wellington”, published in 1889, states that many of the labouring classes in that neighbourhood still strictly observe Old Christmas Day, believing that it would be wicked to work on the ancient festival.

The error committed at this time by the local societies in fixing upon a day for commemorating Colston's birth has been noticed at page 154. The “Loyal” (Tory) Society assembled on the morning of the 13th November, and went in “grand” procession to the Cathedral, where they heard an appropriate sermon. Thence, says the Journal, they marched to St. Mary Redcliff, where another sermon was preached “to a prodigious audience by the Rev. Mr. Sawier” (Seyer, father of the historian). The duplicate religious service was repeated in 1753, when the Journal stated that about 600 citizens were present at the dinners of the various Colston societies.

In November, 1752, the Merchants' Society unanimously resolved to address the members of Parliament for the city, requesting their aid in procuring the repeal of an Act passed during the previous session permitting English-born Jews to enjoy the privileges of British citizens. Similar representations were made by public bodies in other towns, and the statute aroused a storm of indignation throughout the country. A general election was approaching, and the Duke of Newcastle, trembling for his majority, characteristically retreated in a panic. A Government Bill was introduced at the earliest moment to repeal the Ministerial measure of the previous year, and Mr. Nugent, soon to become member for Bristol, was deputed to pilot it through the Commons. Nugent cynically admitted that he believed the Naturalisation Act to be a wise and just measure, and that he was acting against his conviction in proposing its repeal. His excuse was that “the passions of the lower sort of people ought to be humoured; for such people, like children, sometimes take a fancy to a hobby horse, without which there is no keeping them quiet”. in the provinces,


he added, he was charged with being the author of the New Style Act as well as of the Jews Act; and an old woman had been heard to remark, that “It was no wonder he should be for naturalising the devil, since he was one of those who banished Old Christmas”. The political opponents of the Whigs having resisted Jewish emancipation from the outset, the Bill passed through both Houses with almost perfect unanimity.

Reference has been already made to the fatal prevalence of gin drinking. From a curious correspondence between Dr. Tucker and Lord Townshend in 1752, disinterred by the Historical Manuscripts Commission (11th Report, part iv.), it appears that merchants engaged in the slave trade found it profitable to spread a taste for the liquor on the African coast. Large supplies were bartered in exchange for human beings, and Tucker states, on the authority of “an eminent merchant of this place (Bristol), that he can get any quantity from Worcester to be delivered here at from 14d. to 15d. per gallon, the duty being drawn back”.

An account, in the local newspapers, of a robbery committed in the house of a fashionable silversmith, living in Orchard Street, in January, 1763, depicts the style of dress then worn by the upper class of citizens. Amongst the property stolen were the following articles:- “A new Mazareen blue coat, lined with white; a silk camblet coat, lined with green silk; a Mazareen blue silk waistcoat, embroidered with gold; and a pair of silk breeches with gold button holes and buttons”. Adding a large powdered wig, a cocked hat laced with gold, lace sleeve ruffles, silk stockings, shoes ornamented with gold buckles, and a scarlet cloak - all indispensable articles at that period - with a small muff carried during winter, we have the complete habiliments of the despoiled tradesman. The clergy, who also wore three-cornered hats and cauliflower wigs, with winter muffs, perambulated the streets in their cassocks, a practice which did not wholly expire until the beginning of the present century.

The magnates of the Corporation, although standing much on their dignity, occasionally condescended to patronise the entertainments offered to the dull city by roving showmen. On the 29th January, “the famous fire-eater, Mr. Powell”, was requested to display his skill at the Council House, before the mayor, aldermen, councillors, “and other persons of distinction”, which probably meant the ex-mayoresses and other worshipful females. Mr. Powell's advertisements


informed the world that “He eats red-hot coals out of the fire as natural as bread; he fills his mouth with red-hot charcoal, and broils a slice of beef upon his tongue, and any person may blow the fire with a pair of bellows; he melts a quantity of resin, bees-wax, sealing wax, brimstone, and lead in a chafing dish, and eats the said combustibles with a spoon”. The performance was rewarded by the pitiful payment of 21s. out of the corporate funds; but the poor conjurer may have been satisfied, for, unless he obtained the mayor's leave, he was liable to six months' imprisonment as a rogue and vagabond if he exhibited his tricks to the public. A few days later, the corporate dignitaries enjoyed another little relaxation, dimly indicated as follows in the civic accounts:- “James Kington, showing a machine for cut heads, &c. to Mr. Mayor and the Aldermen, £1 1s.” The instrument was probably for engraving seals or cameos.

Felix Farley's Journal of February 10th, 1753, contains details of a horrible tragedy arising out of the slave trade. It appears that the captain of the Bristol ship Marlborough, while on a voyage from Africa to the plantations “indulged 28 Gold Coast negroes with their liberty on deck, for the sake of their assistance in managing the ship” - in other words, they were compelled to conduct themselves into bondage. But three days after the vessel left Bonny, whilst the sailors were between decks, engaged in washing the filth from about 400 slaves chained down to the planks, the above negroes seized firearms from the captain and watch, whom they shot, and spent the day in butchering the white crew, numbering thirty-five. The boatswain and about seven others were spared on their undertaking to navigate the ship back to Bonny, which was done, an attempt of the Bristol slaver Hawk to recapture the vessel being defeated by the determined firing of the negroes. About 270 of the slaves had been shipped at Bonny, and were to have been landed there, but a furious quarrel arose between them and the Gold Coast blacks, and in the fight which ensued about a hundred were thrown overboard or killed. After disembarking the survivors, the Gold Coast men, numbering about 160, stood off, retaining six English sailors to navigate them to their homes. The fate of the Marlborough is not recorded.

Gardens were still common in the heart of the city. An advertisement in a local paper of the 24th February states that a house, garden, and summer-house, in Tower Lane, lately occupied by an attorney at a rent of £9, were to be


let. In the following week was a similar announcement respecting two houses in Milk Street, with “large gardens”.

The law forbidding the dressing of dead bodies in linen was still enforced by the magistrates. In March, Mr. Christopher Willoughby, merchant, was convicted of violating the Act, and was mulcted in the penalty of £5.

Marmaduke Bowdler (sheriff, 1693), who had withdrawn from the Council owing to mercantile disasters some years before this date, and was then appointed clerk of the markets, was in March, 1753, granted a pension of £30 on account of his age and indigence. At the same meeting Elizabeth Dobbins, granddaughter of Samuel Wallis (mayor, 1696), and great granddaughter of Ezekiel Wallis (mayor, 1638), was voted an annuity of £4 for life.

An urgent complaint was made to the House of Commons during this session by local sugar refiners respecting the conduct of the sugar planters in Jamaica, who, it was alleged, so greatly restricted the culture of canes that sugar sold in England at 35s. to 40s. per cwt., while in France and Holland the price was only 19s. A pamphleteer, advocating the views of the petitioners, gives an interesting estimate of the extent of the English refining trade. “It is the general opinion”, he says, “that there are about eighty refining houses in and about London, and twenty at least at Bristol; there are likewise refining houses at Chester, Liverpool, Lancaster, Whitehaven, Newcastle, Hull, and Southampton, and some in Scotland. I think there can be hardly fewer than 120 in all”. He estimates that each refinery employed nine men permanently. The petitions were without effect.

The local press reported on the 6th May that two young ladies had just been robbed by a highwayman whilst walking in the fields near the city, and that the thief had stripped them of 35s. and two silver snuff-boxes. Snuffing was then a practice common to all ranks of society, and had many ardent votaries amongst the fair sex. Defoe, in whose time fashionable snuffs sold at from 8s. to 32s. per pound, remarked in one of his essays that his servant-maid took her snuff with the airs of a duchess. From the accounts of the Gore family at Bourton, already referred to, it appears that at least a pound of snuff weekly was consumed on an average in that gentleman's family. The manufacture of the article rose to considerable local importance, and about this time many of the corn mills in the suburbs were converted into snuff mills. The business must have extended rapidly, for at the Christmas quarter sessions in 1756 the grand jury


represented to the justices that “the converting of any grist mills belonging to this city to any other purpose than that of grinding corn may become very detrimental to the publick”, and expressed pleasure that the aldermen had been animated by the same sentiment in giving “notice to the tenant of the only mill belonging to the Corporation speedily to quit the same”. The mill in question was the City Mill, St. James's Back, which was shortly afterwards advertised to be let for the grinding of corn only. The previous occupiers, Messrs. Weare, who were turned out in a very arbitrary manner, asked for compensation, but it was not until twenty years later that they were voted £200. Other snuff mills mentioned about the same period were known as Territt's, Lock's, Clifton (site of the Observatory), Combe Dingle, Barrow, Frenchay, and one or two others on the Froom. In 1764 William Hulme, a Scotch-snuff maker in Maryleport Street, leased a windmill at Cotham, and transformed it into a snuff manufactory. When he became bankrupt three years later, the place was advertised for sale, “having eleven mills erected for that purpose”. The stonework of this mill forms the foundation of the lofty tower now standing in Cotham Park. There is reason to believe that the sign over Hulme's shop was a parrot. At all events Parrot snuff, which had a great reputation, was long sold in Maryleport Street by Messrs. Ricketts, the predecessors of Messrs. W. and H.O. Wills, and the latter firm still possess the grotesque wooden bird that formerly decorated the premises.

Owing to a deficient harvest in the preceding year, and a destructive cattle plague, which swept away a large proportion of the herds of the district, the poor were plunged in great distress in the spring of 1753. In May, the intelligence that a quantity of wheat was about to be exported from Bristol excited the Kingswood colliers to open violence. On Monday, the 21st May, many hundred miners and labourers entered the city at Lawford's Gate, and made their way to the Council House, where they represented their misery to the mayor and aldermen, and urged that exportation should be stopped. The authorities promised such relief as was in their power, especially a reduction in the price of bread; and many of the colliers expressed themselves satisfied. Some of the more violent, however, proceeded to the quay to plunder a ship bound for Dublin, laden with corn; but being charged by the constables armed with staves, they dispersed after a brief struggle, a few being wounded and


others made prisoners. The news of this scuffle caused the rest of the colliers to take part with the rioters, and the constables, encountered in Small Street with their captives, having found it prudent to decamp, the victorious rabble smashed the windows of the Council House, wounded several parsons with missiles, and eventually went off, vowing further vengeance. The outlook being serious, the militia was raised, a number of citizens were enrolled as special constables, and the inhabitants were directed to supply themselves with arms and ammunition. On the 24th a mob again appeared outside Lawford's Gate, but was attacked and dispersed without difficulty. Next day, however, the colliers, joined by a horde of weavers and disorderly ruffians living “outside the Gate”, and numbering altogether about 900, entered the city by way of Milk Street, and advanced to Bridewell, where one of Monday's rioters was detained. The gates of the prison were attacked, and although one of the assailants was shot dead by a warder, the defences were speedily breached, the prison rifled, and the captive rescued. But before the rioters left, a small party of dragoons (sent from Gloucester by the Government) reached the place, and fired upon them, occasioning a general rout. The fugitives, scattered in small parties, were followed up by the special constables, and numberless petty conflicts took place, in which the partisans of order were not always successful, for the colliers carried off five or six gentlemen as prisoners. Three of these, Messrs. Brickdale, Knox, and Miller, were recaptured near Lawford's Gate, but the others were imprisoned in a coalpit for several days, and with difficulty released. In the various encounters, four colliers were shot dead, upwards of fifty wounded, and between thirty and forty made prisoners. (Owing to the extreme destitution of the sufferers who reached their homes, food and surgical aid were sent out of the city for their relief.) A quantity of correspondence relating to this affair is in the State Paper Office and the British Museum. Amongst the facts reported by the mayor to the Government it was stated that, even after the punishment they had received, the miners threatened “to return with armed force into the city”, and that “from the height to which the tumult has grown, and the inclination of the lower sort of citizens to join with the colliers, the task of repression may prove beyond our force”. The advance of troops from Worcester and other towns had a reassuring effect, but the colliers continued to threaten vengeance, and roved about the country endeavouring to


raise a revolt among the country labourers. They were especially exasperated against Mr. Brickdale, who found it prudent to depart for London. Anticipating his return, every coach was stopped and searched on its way from the capital, but the unlucky gentleman reached home under the protection of a large escort of Bristolians, who guarded his carriage for the last twenty miles. He was not safe even in the city. Edward West, one of the county coroners (whom Brickdale describes to the Premier as a man of very bad character), held an inquest in or near St. George's, on the body of a rioter who had died from his wounds, and a verdict of wilful murder having been returned against John Brickdale, woollen-draper, Michael Miller, jeweller, and others, warrants were issued for their arrest. A few days later, Brickdale informed the Duke of Newcastle that West had held two more inquests - presumably on additional victims - with similar results. The Government put a stop to those proceedings by getting the verdicts quashed in the Court of King's Bench, and by granting a general pardon to Brickdale and his companions. A special commission was also issued for the trial of the rioters. Indictments of high treason were preferred against two ringleaders, but they eluded apprehension. Eight of the prisoners were condemned to two years' imprisonment. Many others were discharged owing to the non-appearance of witnesses that could have given evidence against them. The affair was costly to the Corporation. The expense of maintaining fifty special constables for ten days reached £268 17s. 6d. The sum of £7 18s. 8d. was laid out in “repairing constables' staves of St. Nicholas's ward which were broken in defence of this city”; and new staves for St. Stephen's parish cost £8 15s. 6d. more. The expenses of entertaining the judges and recorder in September amounted to nearly £300. [One of the constables' staves broken during this riot, and thrown into the Froom, was recovered in 1888. The head is of brass, engraved with the royal arms and those of Bristol, and bearing the inscription, “St. Stephen's, 1748”.]

The corporate accounts for September contain the following unintelligible item:- “Paid for making the scarlet cloth, and for the gold fringe thereto, for Mr. Mayor's use when he goes to church, £11 6s.” Another entry of the same date reads:- “Paid the Chamber's contribution towards the charges of passing an Act of Parliament for enlarging and regulating the trade into the Levant seas,


£105”. The Act in question abolished the monopoly of the Levant trade enjoyed by the Turkey Company, of London; but Bristol merchants took little advantage of the new opening for commerce.

The ravages of the cattle plague having caused a great advance in the price of meat, attempts were made by adventurous people to smuggle in Irish beef - then a prohibited article - and large profits were made when the “run” was successful. In October the Custom House officers seized 108 barrels of this meat, which was sold for exportation, and £66 17s., half the proceeds, were distributed amongst the poor of St. Stephen's, the parish in which the capture was made. In December there was a further extensive seizure of Irish beef, etc., and three more discoveries of smuggled provisions took place in 1754, a moiety of the value in each case being paid to St. Stephen's parish.

A puritanic observance of Sunday was still enforced by the magistracy. Felix Farley's Journal of October 20th recorded that on the previous Monday two barbers were placed in the stocks in Temple Street for having shaved some customers on the preceding day. A fortnight later two other unhappy tonsors sat in the stocks on the Back for the same offence.

Christ Church, Broad Street, was re-opened on the 18th November, after having been closed upwards of two years for repairs. The restoration, which cost £1,500, did not succeed in preserving the old edifice.

On the 26th November, George Whitefield, who was then as popular in the fashionable world as amongst the poor, opened a chapel in Bristol for the accommodation of his followers. His “Society” had previously worshipped in the Smiths' Hall, near Merchant Street. The new chapel, like its founder's great building in London, was called the Tabernacle. It was, Whitefield recorded, “large, but not large enough; would the place contain them, I believe near as many would attend as in London”. The Earl of Chesterfield, the only too-celebrated letter writer, contributed £20 to the building fund, but requested that his name should not be published. From an account book of the chapel, in the possession of Mr. W.H. Wills, it appears that the congregation provided board and lodging for the ministers, who rarely remained more than a few weeks in one place. Stabling and food were also furnished for their horses. On the other hand, the remuneration of the itinerant preachers can hardly be deemed liberal, most of them previous to 1770 receiving


less than a guinea per week. Owing to the housekeeping arrangement, which cost under 20s. weekly, many of the items in the accounts have a singular look in a chapel record. For example, there are payments for tea kettles, “sugar knippers”, saucepans, bedding, warming pans, nightcaps, shoes, slippers, and cobbling; a barber was paid a shilling a week for shaving; a domestic servant received £3 18s. yearly; and on one occasion the chapel bought a horse, a saddle, and a bridle for £18 6s. The brewer's account, again, rose sometimes to over £6 yearly; but some of the ministers preferred stronger liquors, and six or eight quarts of brandy or rum were sometimes consumed in a month. As nearly two gallons of wine were required on each Communion day, the expense under this head was large. In December, 1776, there is an item - “To the Rev. Rowland Hill, for one-eighth of a pipe of port, 6 dozen and 5 bottles, £5 17s. 10½d”. (Mr. Hill had resided two months at the chapel in the previous year, and was paid six guineas for his services.) Candles were another heavy charge, and a special collection was made at intervals to meet the outlay. The total income of the congregation was only £143 in 1766, but it gradually increased until 1775-6, when there was a notable influx of new subscribers; and in 1777 Abraham Elton, Esq., joined the society, and contributed £50 both in that and the following year. About the same period a system was adopted of selling tickets for seats in the galleries - one of which was reserved for men and the other for women. The largest collection made at this period was in September, 1776, when, after a sermon by Mr. Hill, £20 14s. were obtained “for Kingswood Tabernacle, towards enlarging him”. It is somewhat remarkable that in a single twelvemonth the treasurer had to take credit for £2 1s. “bad halfpence and silver, at various collections”.

In the closing months of 1753, Messrs. Cranfield Becher and John Heylyn applied to the civic authorities, on behalf of several leading citizens, for the demise of certain premises in Prince's Street, for the purpose of erecting a handsome Assembly Room on the site. At a Council meeting in December, it was resolved to grant the applicants a lease of the spot, on which four old tenements then stood, on payment of a fine of £400, and a yearly rent of £6; the lease to be renewable every 14 years on payment, after the first renewal, of a fine of £100. The Corporation reserved a right of occupying the hall for six days in every year, thus securing a convenient dining or ball-room, for which recourse had previously to be

308THE ANNALS 07 BBI8T0L[1753-54.

made to the Merchants' Society. The promoters raised the needful capital by issuing 120 shares of £30 each on the principle of a tontine, the property to devolve eventually upon the nominees of the three last surviving lives. (One of these survivors was probably the once celebrated Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, Bart., born in Queen Square in 1761, who died in his 81st year.) The shares were allotted previous to the 23rd June, 1754, when the proprietors assented to the suggested scheme by formal deeds, one of which is amongst the Jefferies MSS. The building was constructed with unusual promptitude. In the Bristol Journal of December 20th, 1756, is the following advertisement:- “On Wednesday, the 14th January, 1756, will be open'd The New Musick Boom, with the oratorio of 'The Messiah'. The band will be composed of the principal performers, vocal and instrumental, from London, Oxford, Salisbury, Gloucester, Wells, Bath, &c. ... A concerto on the organ by Mr. Broderip”. The tickets were 5s. each. The Journal did not notice the performance, but a correspondent, in praising its excellence, observed, “'Twill be superfluous to mention the elegance of the room, chandeliers, &c”. Another musical festival took place in the building on the 2nd and 3rd March, 1757, “at the opening of the new organ”, when “Judas Maccabaeus” and “The Messiah” were produced. In the following July the furniture of the old Assembly Room was advertised for sale by auction, leaving the field open to the new institution. But according to “A Tour through Great Britain” (1761), the old theatre at Stoke's Croft was converted into an assembly room, and dancing took place there once a week during the winter.

The following announcement in Felix Farley's Journal of the 22nd December, 1763, reads like a sorry joke; but frequent notices of a similar character prove that it was in fact a grim reality:- “The miserable, poor, unhappy, and long-confined insolvent debtors in Newgate, being 36 in number, hereby return thanks for twopence each distributed to them”. In another paragraph, nine colliers, imprisoned for rioting, acknowledge with gratitude the receipt of a gift of sixpence each.

Mr. William Vick, a wealthy wine merchant, residing in Queen Square (often of late years, but inaccurately, stated an alderman), died on the 3rd January, 1754. By his will, Mr. Vick, after sundry dispositions, left his residuary estate to his sister Rebecca and to Roger Watts, subject to the payment of £1,000 to the Merchants' Society, directing that


this sum should be invested, together with the yearly interest, until it should have accumulated to £10,000. When that sum had been attained, the Society were directed to construct a stone bridge over the Avon from Clifton Down to the opposite height, the passage to be free from toll. In the event of this design proving impracticable, the fund was to be transferred to the Corporation, which was to devote £4,000 to granting temporary loans to young clothworkers of Minchinhampton or Bristol, while the remainder was to be bestowed in founding and maintaining a hospital for illegitimate children, which the testator described as a “useful and much needed charity”. The terms of Mr. Vick's bequest appear to have excited as much amusement as surprise, and witless gibes at the old wine merchant's morality have been re-echoed in our own time. The results of his gift are recorded in the Annals of the present century (pp. 131, 376).

Felix Farley's Journal of February 9th announces:- “The Bristol Flying Machine, for London, in two days, sets out on Monday, the 26th inst., at two o'clock in the morning”. The machines took wing three times a week during the summer, and had no competitors, the only other coaches out of Bristol being three plying to Bath, and one to Gloucester. It should be added that the Bristol coaches were amongst the swiftest in the kingdom. In this year, 1754, the flying coach from London to Edinburgh, “a genteel glass machine, exceedingly light”, performed the journey in “ten days in summer and twelve in winter”. A Manchester advertisement of the same date stated that, “however incredible it might appear”, a coach reached London from that town (187 miles) in four days and a half. Liverpool was destitute of a London coach until 1760.

An amusing illustration of the drinking habits of the age is afforded by an advertisement in Felix Farley's Journal for March 9th, 1754:- “Henry Haines, barber, Redcliff Pit, shaves each person for twopence, cuts hair for three half-pence, and bleeds for sixpence. All customers who are bled he treats with two quarts of good ale, and those whom he shaves or cuts their hair with a pint each”.

A general election took place in April. The Bristol Whigs, who had been unrepresented for twelve years, brought forward Mr. Robert Nugent, one of the Lords of the Treasury, and a prominent member of the dissolved House of Commons. (Mr. Nugent is said to have begun life as a teacher in a nobleman's family, but through three successive marriages


to wealthy ladies, aided by skilful trimming as a courtier, he acquired great riches.) Mr. Southwell and Mr. Hoblyn having both retired, their friends introduced Sir John Philipps, a Welsh baronet with Jacobite sympathies, and Richard Beckford, an alderman of London, largely interested in the sugar plantations. Beckford being then at Jamaica, his interests were championed by his more celebrated brother, William, and it is recorded that in the heat of the contest the peppery slaveowner, irritated by the jeers of a Whig mob, compared Bristolians in unequivocal language to “a parcel of hogs”. No fewer than 986 persons were admitted to the freedom during the month of April, the fees being paid by one or other of the candidates. The contest was prolific in squibs, in one of which Mr. Nugent, who was a convert from Romanism, was styled “a whitewashed Protestant”, while Mr. Beckford was stigmatised in others as a “West India hog” and “a Negroe tyrant”. Nugent's friends recommended him to the electors for having “ prevented the introduction of French bottles, and by that means saved hundreds of families in the city from starving”; while they jeeringly commended the candidature of Sir J. Philipps, who had paraded the streets of Bristol soon after the Jacobite rebellion in a plaid waistcoat, as “acceptable to our friends in the Highlands by wearing their livery”. The polling, which continued for a fortnight, closed on the 1st May, with the following result:- “Mr. Nugent, 2690; Mr. Beckford, 2248; Sir J. Philipps, 2163”. According to the poll book, only about 110 resident electors refrained from voting. Amongst the members of the Council, 33 polled for Nugent, 3 for Beckford, and 2 for Philipps; and Emanuel Collins, who seems to have opposed Nugent, praised the civic body for “gloriously” refraining from exercising any pressure on the citizens (“Miscellanies”, p. 21). A novelty in electioneering festivities was introduced at the close of the poll - a display of fireworks before the Merchants' Hall in honour of Mr. Nugent's return. Felix Farley's Journal (the Tory organ) chucklingly recorded, however, that heavy rain fell during the evening, and that, although the public lamps “had been conveyed to their summer repository”, leaving the streets in darkness, the display was so unsatisfactory that the populace, in spite of a “large quantity of liquor given away”, went off “cursing the Yellows' empty show”. In some doggerel lines that follow, Mr. Nugent's election is alleged to have cost the Whigs £20,000. As the Beckfords


spent their enormous fortunes with great prodigality, the expenditure is not likely to have been less on the other side. The new members were immediately presented with the freedom of the city, and the yearly compliment of a present of wine was revived and continued.

The increasing popularity of the Hot Well is attested by the following announcement, issued in May, 1754:- “Elizabeth Trinder, from the Lebeck's Head Tavern, Bath, has opened a house at the Hotwells for the reception of company as a tavern or eating-house. An ordinary every day at three o'clock, at half-a-crown a head . . . the house being the first of the kind attempted here”. The tavern keeper, who named her premises “the Lebeck” after a celebrated cook, occupied the large house standing at the south-west corner of Dowry Square.

The aldermanic order of 1736, requiring the inhabitants to maintain a body of fifty-one watchmen for the protection of the city during the night, was perfunctorily obeyed from the outset, and in the course of a few years, as appears from the Bristol Journal of January 13th, 1753, it became wholly obsolete. The Corporation was doubtless sincere in its anxiety to apply a remedy, but its usual practice of disclaiming any pecuniary burden while demanding unrestricted control of the needful machinery repelled popular support, and the announcement of its intention to apply for Parliamentary powers to levy a rate revived the hostile feeling excited by the Lighting Act of 1749. At a meeting of the Council on the 22nd May, 1754, a committee was appointed to prepare a Bill, and was empowered “to make use of, direct, and prosecute all such legal and justifiable measures as they shall think proper for the better support of the authority and the vindication of the honour and reputation of the magistracy of this city”. On the other hand, a powerful opposition was organised, in which many of the guardians of the poor took part, party passions aroused by the general election embittering the strife. The Bill was brought into the House of Commons by Mr. Nugent early in 1755, and was supported by petitions from the Merchants' Society and influential citizens, while a petition against the measure, declaring that the Corporation in no respect represented the inhabitants, was forwarded by persons styling themselves the principal merchants and traders. On the 14th February the scheme gave rise to a remarkable debate, Sir John Philipps, the rejected candidate of the previous year, who had found a seat elsewhere, moving that the


powers sought by the Corporation should be conferred on “trustees” elected by the ratepayers. The want of protection under which the city had long suffered was, he said, due to the contentions existing between the inhabitants and the Council. He was supported by the two Beckfords and a Mr. W. Northey, who contended, like the mover, that the Council was a narrow oligarchy, which had already usurped nearly all the rights of the inhabitants, and that the real object of the scheme was to corrupt the poor freemen by engaging some 300 as watchmen at a salary of 7s. a week each, by which means the members for the city would be practically nominated by the Chamber. The Bill was supported by three members of the Government, Mr. Nugent, Lord Barrington (grandson and co-heir of Sir Wm. Daines, M.P.) and Mr. Pitt. On a division - which was really a party one - the amendment was rejected by 153 votes against 71. Another amendment, disqualifying watchmen as electors, was negatived by 185 against 55 votes. The Corporation of the Poor then petitioned the House of Lords to reject the Bill, alleging that the guardians alone represented the opinion of the ratepayers; but the opposition was fruitless, and the scheme received the Royal Assent. It enacted that the number of watchmen should be settled yearly in quarter sessions, and that the aldermen should appoint or remove the constables, who were to keep watch nightly for eight hours in winter, and seven in summer. Their maintenance was to be defrayed by a rate on houses valued at £7 a year or upwards, and the ratepayers were discharged from the statutable liability to keep watch and ward. The Act was so badly drawn as to be unworkable, and an amending Bill was surreptitiously presented in the following session. The opposition, which gained scent of the scheme only through the privately printed votes of the Commons, again petitioned, asserting that men of bad character, having been appointed watchmen, had committed great irregularities, and even “committed a most horrid murder”. (Three watchmen had really ill-treated a woman so cruelly that they were afterwards convicted of man-slaughter.) The opponents did not challenge a division, and the Bill passed. New clauses in this measure restricted the number of constables to 160 (which in practice was reduced to 115), while occupiers of grasslands - still numerous in the city - were exempted from the rate.

In August, 1764, a ship captain was brought before the local magistrates and fined for having some soap


manufactured in Ireland on board his vessel. The prosecution was instigated by the Bristol soapmakers, who offered a reward in the Bristol Journal to any one giving information of infractions of the English monopoly.

The Council, on the 31st August, presented the freedom of the city to the Earl of Berkeley, Lord Lieutenant, and also to Viscount Barrington, in gratitude for his support of the Watching Bill. Lord Berkeley died in the following January, when Lord Ducie was appointed Lord Lieutenant, and, a few weeks later, was made a freeman.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for August, 1754, stated that the great west road from London to Bristol, “through the ignorance of its constructors, errs and blunders in all the forms. ... No outlets were made for the water that stagnates in the body of the road; it was never sufficiently widened. . . . 'Tis the worst public road in Europe, considering what vast sums have been collected from it”.

Glass was at this time very costly. The Corporation, in September, was called upon to pay £4 16s. for “a glass put into Mr. Alderman Laroche's coach, in the place of one broken at the gaol delivery”. About fifteen glass manufactories were then being carried on in the city, but many firms confined themselves to bottle making.

The vestry of Clifton parish resolved, in November, to impose a rate upon the inhabitants for the repair of the church tower and of the road near Jacob's Wells. The fact is now interesting only from the information it affords as to the rateable value of the parish, which amounted to no more than £5,030 - about one-fortieth of the value in 1892.

The city had been up to this time chiefly supplied with coal from Kingswood and Brislington. An advertisement in a local newspaper of January, 1755, announced that a new road had just been made from Bedminster Bridewell “to the new coal work there, where coal is sold on as reasonable terms as at any other colliery”.

Pugilism was so extremely popular with all classes of Bristolians that an occasional reference to the “sport” is required to illustrate social habits. Felix Farley's Journal of February 1st, 1756, contains the following advertisement:- “The famous boxing match depending between John Harris and John Slack will be decided on Thursday next, at the Tennis Court at Barton Hundred. The doors to be opened at 10, and the champions to mount at 2. Tickets to be had at the Bush and Bummer Taverns. . . . Gallery, 2s. 6d.;


court, 1s. N.B. - There will be several bye battles”. The victory of Slack (a Norwich man) is recorded in the following week's paper. The Bristolians were rash enough to bet 10 to 1 on their favourite Harris, but he was overthrown in six minutes. Another fight, for £150, between Slack and Cornelius Harris, of Brislington, took place on the 6th March at a yard in Guinea Street, when Harris was so dreadfully beaten that his recovery was considered improbable. “On this battle”, says the Journal, “centered all the hopes of that family, who have now lost their boasted honour of never having been beat”. In connection with this subject, a brief notice of the Whitsuntide sports announced at Long Ashton in the following May may not be out of place. A good beaver hat was promised to the best wrestler, and another to the skilfulest player at “Butt and Cudgel”, “he that breaks the most heads and saves his own” to have the prize. “A good buckskin pair of breeches” were also to be played for at backsword. In 1756 the “lovers of the noble and manly exercise of backsword” were invited to a tournament at the Ostrich inn, Durdham Down, five guineas being promised to “the first best man who breaks most heads, saving his own”, and smaller prizes to second and third best competitors. The advertisement ends with the significant note:- “Vinegar by J.W”.

War with France being imminent, the local authorities received instructions to employ the brutal measures then in favour for reinforcing the navy. A local journal of March 8th says:- “Last night the constables searched all our public houses, &c., for sailors, and having picked up about 120, lodged them in the Guildhall, where they are guarded by a party of soldiers”. From subsequent references to the subject, it appears that the pressgangs continued briskly employed for upwards of two months. On the arrival of several vessels from distant ports early in May, 170 men who had been long separated from their families were impressed in a single night.

The consumption of tea was still too limited to enable a tradesman to live by the sale of it alone. One of the best known local dealers in the article, Hannah James, of High Street, announced in April her new purchases in ornamental china, adding the following note:- “Her stock in the hosiery way is to be sold off very low. All sorts of chip hats of the newest fashion. Teas as usual”. A fortnight later, a snuff dealer in Maryleport Street announced that he sold “all sorts of fine teas at the London prices”.


A strike of journeymen tailors took place in May. A paragraph communicated to the local papers stated that the magistrates were determined to put the laws against workmen's combinations strictly in force, and pointed out, as a warning to the refractory, that for the first offence a man was liable to a fine of £10, or twenty days' imprisonment; for a second, to a penalty of £20, or exhibition in the pillory; and for a third, to a mulct of £40, or to be pilloried and lose an ear. In despite of this menace, the workmen refused to submit. The issue is not recorded. The current wages of tailors were then 1s. 9d. for a day of thirteen hours.

English iron, being manufactured by means of charcoal, was still a costly article. An advertisement of this period states that bar iron, “inferior to none”, was made by Nicholas Pryce and Son, and sold by Mr. Jenkins, Baldwin Street, “at £17 7s. 6d. per ton, ready money”.

The library in the chapter house of Bristol Cathedral dates from this year. The capitular minutes record that the Rev. Dr. Hamond had proposed to establish a library for the use of the residing “prebends and cannons”, and had paid for that purpose ten guineas, in lieu of a treat usually given by a new prebendary, whereupon he was desired to lay out the money in the purchase of books. A number of private gifts must have followed, for on the 27th August, 1760, the minutes state that the library had been “brought to some perfection, and was likely to meet with a great increase”. The Rev. John Camplin, precentor, was thereupon appointed the first librarian, with a salary of 40s. a year. Nearly the whole of this library was destroyed in the riots of 1831 (see “Annals”, p. 162).

The Bristol Journal of July 19th records that a soldier, convicted of stealing a shirt (of which he was probably in urgent need), had been sentenced by court martial to receive 1,000 lashes! The unhappy wretch, on learning the sentence, nearly killed himself by cutting his throat; so the authorities, on his partial recovery, ordered him 200 lashes, and had him drummed out of the regiment. About the same time a man, for an offence on a child, was sentenced by the magistrates to be twice whipped from Broad mead to Stoke's Croft Gate (Cheltenham Road) and back again.

The earliest mention of a long-popular place of recreation occurs in the Bristol Journal of July 19th. “The Old Fox public house, at Broad Stoney, near Lower Easton”, is offered to be sold or let, having “a bathing place in the river Froom, with commodious dressing houses”.


Dr. John Conybeare, Dean of Christ Church, who succeeded Bishop Butler in the see of Bristol, died in July, 1755, and was buried in his cathedral, being the ninth prelate whose remains had been interred there. Dr. Conybeare was little known in Bristol, but his theological works have still a high reputation. Poor as was the bishopric, there were many eager applicants for the vacancy. Amongst the Cole MSS. in the British Museum is a letter to Cole from Dr. Lyttelton, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle, dated September 8th, 1755:- “I thank you”, he writes, “for your good wishes to see me at Bristol, but I believe that mitre will be placed on another person's head. As to the revenue ... I am very certain Dr. Conybeare made no more than £330 clear, and during the whole time he was a bishop, except one fine of six guineas, which was all he ever received. It would almost ruin me to take it; but, however, was it offered, I should hardly refuse it, being a step to better things”. The fortunate candidate was John Hume, D.D., who, in 1758, was translated to Oxford.

Various strange natural phenomena, inexplicable at the moment, were noticed in the West of England on the 1st November. The ebbing tide in the Avon suddenly flowed back for a time, and the water in many deep wells became discoloured and undrinkable. Captain G.W. Manby, in his “Fugitive Sketches of Clifton”, published in 1802, stated on the authority of a person who witnessed the marvel that the Hot Well water suddenly became as red as blood, whereupon “all flew to the churches, where prayers were offered to avert the apparent approach of their destruction”, and that of the world. “The water ran foul for a length of time”. An explanation of the phenomenon was found soon afterwards in the tidings of the calamitous earthquake at Lisbon.

A document laid before the Council in December, 1755, offers the first indication of a feeling amongst some of the leading citizens that the shipping accommodation of the port was becoming too limited for its requirements. A committee appointed to consider the duties of the quay warden and water bailiff presented a report, recommending certain new regulations touching those officers, but expressing their opinion that “No human prudence could prevent the growing danger to ships without provision were made for further room, the want whereof doth greatly endanger the safety of ships, and by which they daily sustain considerable damage”. No action was taken by the Chamber. The need for improvement, however, became more urgent; and in August,


1757, a committee was appointed to consider what provision should be made for the better accommodation of vessels. As no report was presented, it must be assumed that the progressive party were in a minority. Nevertheless, in February, 1758, the town clerk was ordered to publish advertisements in the London papers “for persons to survey the rivers Avon and Froom, and consider of proper measures for making some convenient part thereof into a wet dock”. If this invitation produced any plans, the estimated cost of the improvement probably alarmed the Corporation. At all events, it abandoned all thoughts of a dock, and fell back upon a device which cast deep discredit upon its authors. In December, 1758, a committee appointed to consider “of ways and means for the better accommodation of the navigation of the port” reported that they had consulted with a similar committee nominated by the Merchants' Society, when the latter committee informed them that the Society would enlarge the quays and wharves at their own expense, provided that their lease of the quays and wharfage dues, which had “only 34 years to come”, were regranted for a longer number of years and for a greater extent of ground. It was recommended that such a lease should be conceded for the term of 99 years at a rental of £10, and that the Society should have the whole of the quays and wharves along the east side of the Froom, and also along the north bank of the Avon to a dung wharf near the Welsh Back, including all the houses, slips, and duties embraced in the lease then running. In consideration of this grant the Society would undertake to erect quay walls where none then existed on the demised ground, and would also build a little quay, 130 feet long, at St. Augustine's Back. The Common Council confirmed this extraordinary report, and ordered the proposed lease to be executed; but it was not sealed until September, 1764, when the Corporation surrendered its property in the quays and wharfage dues for nearly a century, receiving merely a nominal consideration. The expense of constructing the new quay on the Grove, finished about 1771, is said to have been only about £9,700. The other works were of comparatively trifling cost. No accounts of the wharfage dues were allowed to see the light, but Mr. Barrett, in his History, stated that the income in 1787 already reached upwards of £2,000 a year, and the subsequent increase must have been very large.

The population seems to have been increasing somewhat rapidly at this period, but the wealthier classes still shunned


the attractions of Clifton. About the close of 1755 a square was laid out on the slope of Kingsdown. “The New-Square”, for it was seldom styled King Square until some years later, was one of John Wesley's favourite preaching stations. Several wealthy families then inhabited it. The house numbered 18, built by a merchant named Ash, cost £3,000. Contemporaneously with these upper-class erections, a number of dwellings were rising in the “Old Orchard” of the Dominican friary - an estate which fell to the Penn family through the marriage of the famous William Penn with Hannah, daughter of Thomas Callowhill, a Bristol Quaker. “New built” houses in Callowhill Street are mentioned in a local paper in 1755. In March, 1757, another new dwelling was offered “in a street named Penn Street, in the Old Orchard”. Philadelphia Street was built a few years later.

An appeal entitled “The State of the Bristol Infirmary” was published in the local journals of February 14th, 1766. The writer stated that owing to the increased number of casualties, it had been necessary to lodge several patients in neighbouring houses. By the aid of donations the centre front had been raised a storey, and two new wards had just been completed, increasing the number of beds to 134. On the other hand the annual charge of the institution had risen to £2,200, while the 403 subscribers contributed only £926. The debt having increased in 1767, the position of the charity was forced on public attention, and for the first time collections were taken in all the parish churches, while a house to house requisition was made in each district. The movement, which brought in about £650, is now interesting as affording an indication of the localities inhabited by the wealthy classes. Clifton produced £33, and Redland £20. In the city proper, St. James's contributed £114, St. Nicholas' £82, St. Augustine's £57, St. Philip's £57, Castle Precincts £51, St. Stephen's £50, Christ Church £30, Redcliff £22, St. Michael's £21, St. John's £21. The other parishes produced amounts varying from £19 to £3.

The death of Mr. Richard Beckford, in January, caused a vacancy in the representation of the city, and an election took place in March. The Tory party brought forward Mr. Jarrit Smith, the eminent local attorney, while the Hon. John Spencer (afterwards Earl Spencer) offered himself as a Whig. The local press was singularly remiss in reporting the incidents of the contest. Felix Farley's Journal did not even take the trouble to record the number of votes polled.


After a close contest, continued for fourteen days, Mr. Smith was found to have received 2,426 votes, against 2,374 recorded for his opponent. A curious letter written by John Wesley at Marlborough, in the Duke of Newcastle's MSS., says:- “I am hastening to Bristol on account of the election”, and he is said to have worked energetically on behalf of Mr. Smith. A petition was presented against the return, alleging that many good votes for Spencer were rejected, but the case was eventually abandoned. Another document in the British Museum - a letter from Mr. Nugent to the Union Committee at Bristol - shows that the Whigs sought the pecuniary help of the Government. A deputation had applied to Lord Granville, but his lordship, says Nugent, had referred them to Mr. Spencer, who would soon be in London. “At the same time that you apply to Mr. Spencer for the £3,000, I suppose you will think it right to lay open to him the expenses already incurred, the debt now due by you, and the impossibility of raising by subscription a sufficient sum to carry on a petition”. Mr. Nugent strongly advised the Duke of Newcastle to help his Bristol friends out of their difficulties, which “would confirm them our's for ever”. The result does not appear. Mr. Smith, after taking his seat, set off for Bristol, and was met some miles outside the city by a large body of friends, in coaches, whose escort through the streets formed an imposing procession. At College Green a triumphal arch had been erected, in which a carved representation, of the royal arms of the Stewarts, borrowed from All Saints' Church, was a conspicuous ornament. It is a curious illustration of the passions of the time that this decoration, being without the heraldic blazon of the Hanoverian family, was held to be a token of sympathy for the Pretender, and caused so much excitement that it had to be removed. What is still more amusing is that Dr. Tucker informed Mr. Nugent:- “I have been pestered all day with a lot of Methodist preachers who insist upon it that they have started and are now hunting a strange kind of game called the Young Pretender, and have fairly tracked him to Mr. Jarrit Smith's house at Ashton, where he is at present under cover”. Tucker, with considerable difficulty, prevented his informants from making a deposition before the judges of assize (Newcastle MSS., British Museum).

The occupier of the Exchange Tavern, who was also a wine merchant, issued an advertisement in April, 1756, stating the current prices of wine. Madeira was 7s. 6d.,


port and sherry 6s., and mountain and Lisbon, 4s. 6d. per gallon respectively. Two years later a London vintner offered to supply local innkeepers with choice Malaga, in half hogsheads, at 2s. 6d. per gallon.

War with Trance was declared in May, 1756. The usual proclamation was made on the 22nd in Bristol by the sheriffs, accompanied by “the grand band of City Musick, assisted by two Trench Horns from the Prince Edward man of war, who, together with the chimes of Christ Church parish, played 'Britons, Strike Home'”.

Immediate measures were taken by the leading merchants and shipowners for the fitting out of privateers. The zeal displayed on this occasion produced a fleet of cruisers far exceeding anything attempted in previous wars; for within little more than a twelvemonth nearly forty Bristol ships had been equipped and sent to sea, over twenty more being added in the two subsequent years. The following imperfect list, made up from various sources, offers notable testimony as to the ardour of the citizens and the resources of the port. The * denotes vessels captured by the enemy.

 Tons.Men.Guns Tons.Men.Guns.
Duke of Cornwall40022030Xing George-20032
Antient Briton40025030Virginian---
Eagle40020030Duke of Cumberland--14
St. Andrew30018030Tartar's prize1008012
Defiance25017020Fortune (prize)10010014
*Hawke25016020St. George-8014
*Tryall15012026New Grace300-18
Prussian Hero12011016*Dispatch---


 Tons.Men.Guns Tons.Men.Guns.
Hornet---Duke of York---
Invincible (prize)500-36Gloucestershire---
Prince Ferdinand230-8Patriot--20
Fame---True Patriot--22

Several of the privateers were very successful in the early months of the war. The owner of the Fortune (captured from the French) boasted that she had brought in seventeen prizes in about three months. Later on, the number of Engish cruisers was so great that few French ships dared put to sea, and ruinous losses were sustained by privateer owners. The marvel is that crews could be obtained to man so many vessels. Many privateersmen, however, were rough and lawless youths drawn from the country districts, partly from hope of gain and partly from love of a reckless and idle life. To amuse those “gentleman volunteers”, the advertisements for hands frequently added that “French horns”, or even “a band of music”, would “find great encouragement”. Whilst on shore the crews were a terror to the citizens, committing many outrages, and frequently rescuing by force such of their comrades as were arrested.

In June, 1756, John Pitman and Son, “proprietors of the Bristol (new erected) Lead Smelting Works”, announced that they had begun operations, and solicited support. Their factory was situated on the Somerset side of the Avon, near to the Hot Well, and the clouds of poisonous smoke issuing from the furnaces proved highly offensive to fashionable visitors. The nuisance was long submitted to in silence, but in 1761 a complaint was raised in the Gentleman's Magazine by Dr. D.W. Linden, a metropolitan physician, who followed his patients to Clifton every summer (and who is scurrilously caricatured by Smollett in “ Humphrey Clinker”). Dr. Linden asserted that the Well was “not only the second medicinal spring in Britain, but in all Europe”, and expressed astonishment that the “necessary improvements to the place should have been so much neglected”. As no further reference to the subject has been found, the works were probably discontinued.

In the summer of 1766 the vestry of St. Mary Redcliff purchased of William Hogarth three large scriptural paintings, representing Christ and the Woman of Samaria, the Sealing of the Tomb, and the Resurrection. Hogarth's


receipt for the stipulated price, “£625, in full of all demands”, is dated the 14th August, and is in the archives of the church. Nearly £250 more were spent on frames and in placing the pictures (under the personal direction of the artist) upon the altar screen of the church, where they remained until 1857. Hogarth's true excellence - his intense realism - was of no service to him in work of a higher character; and the above paintings, now in the Fine Arts Academy, merely serve to prove his impotence in idealistic conception, his lack of a sense of beauty, and his poverty as a colourist.

The ferocity of the impressment system may be imagined from an incident that occurred in Kingroad on the 10th September. The Bristol ship Virginia Merchant, which had arrived from the West Indies on the previous day, was boarded by a naval tender, the commander of which intended to impress the crew; but as the men, who had been about a twelvemonth from home, made a firm resistance, the tender opened fire upon the ship. One man was killed and several others wounded, while the ship was so much damaged that, after “firing several guns of distress”, she sank in the sight of the spectators. The timid newspapers shrank from recording the fate of the crew.

Bristolians, in common with the nation at large, were flung into transports of indignation by the alleged cowardice of Admiral Byng in retreating from Minorca. Felix Farley's Journal of September 4th says:- “On Monday last the effigy of a (now) high-spirited admiral was carried through most of the streets of the city, accompanied by three gentlemen-dealers in soot; after which he was hung upon a gallows on St. Philip's Plain, and under it was made a large bonfire, which entirely consumed it in the sight of a number of spectators”. Party spirit, perhaps, inspired many of the popular manifestations. Letters or Dr. Tucker in the Newcastle MSS. show that the local Tories, at a very late hour one evening, announced a meeting next day to address the King in condemnation of the Government; whereupon Tucker got some printers out of their beds, and issued another placard, advising the meeting to promise hearty support to the King against the common enemy. His tactics threw the opposite party into confusion; the meeting was not held; and although the “red-hot” Tories sent about an address, soliciting signatures, Mr. Smith, M.P., waited upon the bishop “to purge himself from having had any hand” in the manoeuvre. The Duke of Newcastle complained to


Nugent of the apathy of the Whigs, when the member forwarded one of Tucker's missives stating that a corporate address had been drawn up, but that “this is the Assizes and Feasting time: all business is at a stand till that important affair is over”. Nugent is not complimentary to his supporters. “Their mouths”, he writes to the Duke, “are full of Turtle, and if you come in for the second place it is as much as I can hope for you. Their address will, I dare flatter myself, partake of their diet, for Turtle is wont to inspire warm, kind and vigorous sensations. ... Is not Tucker a fine fellow? He deserves a Bishopric”. (He was appointed a prebendary of Bristol a few weeks later, and dean of Gloucester in 1768.) Eventually two addresses, expressing confidence in the Government, were forwarded - one from the Corporation, and the other from the citizens, the latter being signed by “great property and numbers”. (Many letters on the subject from local magnates are in the British Museum.)

The copper coinage was at this period in a state of extreme degradation. A large portion of the halfpence having been worn entirely smooth, some unprincipled people at Birmingham issued an enormous quantity of “blanks”, worth less than a fourth of their nominal value, and equally knavish persons purchased the false coin wholesale at a trifling price and foisted it upon workmen in payment of wages. Emanuel Collins mentions in his “Miscellanies” another difficulty in relation to the coinage. He heard, he says, the Bristol bellman proclaiming that as many scrupulous people refused to accept the half-pence of William III., the public were to understand that they could take or leave them at their discretion. “Ungrateful city, are these your Revolution principles? But ye are the sons of barter: your principles are interest, and interest is your principle”. He adds that a Scotch agent was offering to buy up the halfpence at the rate of six a penny. “And I just now heard that some of our shopkeepers that are of the kirk will admit them again on one-fourth of their dignity curtailed; so that for a commodity which you may purchase for a shilling, you must pay in those plain halfpence sixteen pence”. The corporate rents of the market stands fell off largely from this cause. The loss in September, 1756, was £12 2s. 7½d., while in the month ending 19th March, 1757, out of a receipt of £138, the loss from “plain halfpence” was £19 17s. 4d.

The harvest of 1756 was greatly deficient, and owing to the war the imports of grain were scanty. The price of


wheat consequently rose to 80s. per quarter, causing dire distress. In November the Corporation offered two bounties of £50 each to the two first grain cargoes imported, and four of £25 each to the next arrivals. £200 were also granted for relieving poor householders. Mr. Nugent, M.P., purchased a cargo of 650 quarters of foreign wheat, which was to have been distributed to the distressed at half-price, but the ship was unluckily captured by the French. Another vessel, laden with corn, was stopped and plundered by a mob on her passage down the Severn. The prosecution of the rioters cost the Chamber £123. During the winter many hundreds of families were dependent for food upon the relief committees established by their wealthier neighbours. In January, 1757, the Corporation petitioned Parliament, representing that the barges coming down the Severn and Wye with food for Bristol were systematically plundered by the country people, and praying for the admission of foreign corn duty free, a suggestion which was adopted. In the following year, owing to the continuance of the dearth, an Act was passed permitting the importation for a short period of butter, pork, and salted beef from Ireland, and a subsequent statute allowed Irish cattle to enter English ports for a term of five years only. These unwonted concessions gave much offence to English landlords.

At a meeting of the Council in December, 1756, it was ordered that an apartment in the vestry room (the Poyntz Chantry) of the Mayor's Chapel should be fitted up as a receptacle for such corporate records and papers as it might be thought proper to remove there. Iron doors were soon afterwards affixed to two recesses, but the projected removal of documents never took place.

During a panic created by the preparations of France to invade this country with a large army, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1757, for raising a militia for the protection of the country. The number of men to be furnished by Gloucestershire and Bristol was 960 out of a total of 32,000. The local force was exceeded only by those of Devonshire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, and the West Riding of York.

A brief notice of the fashionable method of locomotion at this time occurs in a local newspaper of January, 1757, “Louthian and Lavendar, chairmen”, announced that they had “two commodious Sedan Chairs and one Boot Chair, with able men”, which stood for custom in Queen Square and College Green. The “boot chair”, having a projection


in front, was brought into popularity by, and possibly invented for, the great War Minister, Pitt, who was a chronic sufferer from gout.

The road from the city to Pill at this period was a mere horse track, traversing an extensive common from Rownham to Leigh. In March, 1757, the Common Council voted 20 guineas “towards making a road over Leigh Down”. Traffic by wheeled vehicles between Bristol and the neighbouring villages was then almost unknown. Mr. Tyson had a conversation in December, 1826, with a resident at Clevedon, 78 years of age, and recorded on his informant's authority that, when the latter was young, not more than four carts went from Clevedon to Bristol in the course of a year; almost everything being carried by pack-horses.

The protection of the Dean and Chapter was supposed to have been obtained for the High Cross when it was re-erected in College Green (p. 186). The capitular body, however, was apathetic about everything save its pecuniary interests. The Green was neglected for many years, and fell at last into so discreditable a condition that in December, 1756, the neighbouring inhabitants memorialised the Corporation, praying for assistance in restoring the turf and walks, and forty guineas were voted for that purpose. Shamed into action, the chapter thereupon doled out 15 guineas, which Mr. Wallis, the builder, was ordered to make the best of. In April, 1767, the chapter, in the absence of the dean, approved of what had been done. “And as the said Mr. Wallis has offered a plan for removing the Cross and cutting off a small part of the Green”, his proposal was sanctioned, subject to the approval of the dean. Dean Chamberlayne, however, systematically disapproved of the suggestions of the prebendaries, and the scheme of destruction was temporarily abandoned. Another quarrel amongst the cathedral dignitaries broke out immediately afterwards. The outlay of the chapter having exceeded the ordinary receipts for two or three years, a debt of £250 had accumulated, which the prebendaries proposed to wipe off by means of the next good fine received on the renewal of a lease. The dean having, of course, refused his sanction, the chapter resolved that, if he persisted in his resistance, all further renewals should be postponed. Three months later, in July, the dean having condescended to visit the city, he was urged to accede, but replied that “it would take a long time to consider the proposal, namely, till next winter”. He gave way, however, in September, a few days before his death.


The scandalous system of shipping off convicted felons in company with honest emigrants was still practised in 1757. The Intelligencer of May 7th contains an advertisement inviting artisans, husbandmen, and boys to take their passage to Maryland as “indentured servants” in the ship Frisby; and a paragraph in the same paper states that forty convicts had just been sent on board the vessel in question, which was a “letter of marque”. The Council had paid the keeper of Newgate £107 2s. in the previous year for transporting thirty-four convicts, indicating a remarkable prevalence of crime. Referring to the transportation system, a historian of Jamaica, writing about 1770, stated that above 2,000 abandoned felons were shipped yearly from England to Virginia and Maryland, and were “as useful as scavengers to a dirty town”.

Felix Farley's Journal of the 11th June contains the following paragraph:- “We hear that the churchwardens of a considerable parish in this city intend (conformable to the obligations of their oath) to put the laws in force against all those within the said parish who commonly absent themselves from the publick worship on the Lord's Day; and also against common swearers, drunkards, &c., and its hoped and much to be wished that an example of this kind will be followed by all others who are well-wishers to the country”. The fine imposable on every adult person who systematically neglected to attend his or her parish church was £20 a month, and 1s. for each casual default. No attempt, however, seems to have been made to put the law in operation.

In August, 1767, the Rev. John Castelman, vicar of St. Nicholas, revived a long-standing dispute between the incumbents of that parish and its select vestry. It appears from a letter addressed by Dean Towgood to the vestry shortly before his death, in 1682, that when he was instituted to St. Nicholas, in the reign of Charles I., he took possession of a house which from time immemorial had been used as a vicarage. He was, however, immediately deprived of it, and it was only after several years' entreaty that he obtained from the vestry a yearly compensation of £4, which was lost during the Commonwealth. At the Restoration he remained at his living at Tortworth until the vestry made a promise, apparently verbal, that he should be allowed £14 for house rent. When he came back to Bristol this promise was repudiated, and the dean concluded his letter by asking the vestry to consider whether he had not just cause to complain of hard dealing and wrong. The old vicarage house


was in the Rackhay, a part of which was converted into a burial ground in 1698, and a further portion was consecrated to the same purpose in 1743. In consequence of the alterations made at those periods the vicarage could no longer be identified. Mr. Castelman having found a copy of Dean Towgood's letter in the cathedral archives, now renewed the claim of his predecessor. He admitted that the old house could not be found, but suggested that he should be compensated by a money payment of not less than £400, in which case he “would scorn to claim arrears”. (The fixed income of the vicar, arising from bequests for sermons, was under £16.) The vestry appears to have treated his application with contemptuous silence, and the copies of the above letters inserted in the minute book were ordered to be expunged.

At a meeting of the Council, on the 8th September, orders were given for the construction of a new bridge over the Froom, in order to open a direct route from Christmas Street to Lewin's Mead. St. John's Bridge, as it was called, was of great convenience to the numerous members of the Corporation who attended Lewin's Mead Chapel.

At the same meeting it was “Ordered that Moses Cone”, possibly a phonetical spelling of Cohen, “who keeps a shop, with glass windows before the same, on the Key, and therein sells gold and silver ware without being a free burgess, be prosecuted for the same”. The fact that the Jew had placed glass windows in his shop front seems to have been considered by the conservative-minded Chamber as an aggravation of his offence. About four months later a local journal records that, on the previous Monday, “in the dusk, most of a loaf of sugar, a cheese, and a large knob of salt were taken out of the window of a shop in Baldwin Street, and carry'd off”. Southey states that his father came to Bristol about 1760, and was apprenticed to Mr. William Britton, the leading linendraper, who had an open-windowed shop in Wine Street.

The oratorio of “Samson” was performed in the Cathedral on the 7th September, by a “large band of the best vocal and instrumental performers”. The price of admission was 5s. “The Messiah” was given in 1768 and 1759, after which the performances, which were for the benefit of the families of poor clergymen, were discontinued.

The once celebrated William Warburton, D.D., was preferred by the Duke of Newcastle to the deanery of Bristol in October, 1767. The Newcastle MSS. show that if


Warburton did not sooner reach high rank in the Church the delay was not attributable to his diffidence. So early as 1725 he is found “presuming to acquaint your grace of the dangerous illness” of a well-beneficed clergyman, and hinting his hopes that the living he had already obtained from the duke might be the shoeing-horn to another. In 1727 he declines an offered incumbency, presses his suit “for a living of better value”, and regrets that while every district abounded with marks of his grace's goodness, “I should be the only one amongst your most devoted servants in which they do not appear”. Incessant importunity and flattery were rewarded by many gifts, and his lucky marriage with a niece of Ralph Allen, of Bath, placed Warburton on the road to the prizes of his profession. A curious incident occurred at his first visit to Bristol Cathedral, when he had to “read himself in”. According to the rubric, the Athanasian Creed should have formed part of the service of the day, but it was omitted by an oversight; and upon protest being made by some person present, Warburton ordered the creed to be sung on the following Sunday (when it ought not to have been performed), and read himself in a second time. As both services were irregular, it has been doubted whether Warburton was ever legally dean of Bristol. Little more than two years afterwards, through Allen's influence, Mr. Pitt, then M.P. for Bath, procured Warburton's promotion to the bishopric of Grloucester, and though the arrogant cleric had previously contemned the spiritual lords as a “wooden bench”, he eagerly took his place amongst them. Bishop Newton records that while Warburton was at Bristol “Mr. Allen laid out a good deal of money in repairing and refronting the deanery, and had not quite completed it when the dean was made bishop. However, such was Allen's generosity that he was willing to finish what he had begun, but inquired first who was likely to succeed to the deanery. It was supposed to lie between Dr. (Samuel) Squire and Dr. Tucker (rector of St. Stephen's), and Mr. Allen asked the bishop (Warburton) what sort of men they were; and the bishop answered in his lively manner that the one (Squire) made religion his trade, and the other trade, his religion. Dr. Squire succeeded to the deanery of Bristol, where Mr. Allen completed his intended alterations”. The writer goes on to defend Tucker from Warburton's malice, observing that while he wrote upon commercial topics “with more knowledge than any clergyman, and with as much, perhaps, as any merchant”, he also ably handled subjects


pertaining to his profession. “He was an exemplary parish priest and an exemplary dean . . . but it is to be lamented that he had not the respect for [Warburton] which was due to his personal character”. The truth probably is that Tucker held the bishop's literary and theological works in the contempt they deserved, and made no effort to disguise his scorn for their self-seeking author. As to Squire, one of Warburton's letters contains the following:- “Have you seen the Dean of Bristol's (the quondam Clerk of the Closet's) sermon at St. Margaret's? He has fairly canonised our gracious sovereign by the name of George the Good”. The courtly sycophant (who had already gained the king's favour by some act of peculiar baseness towards his patron, the Duke of Newcastle) was promptly rewarded, George III. conferring upon him the bishopric of St. David's in 1761.

Felix Farley's Journal of October 29th, 1757, published an announcement that the parish church of St. Werburgh had become so ruinous as to render it unsafe for public worship, and that the parishioners had resolved to take it down. Being unable of themselves to bear the charge of reconstruction, contributions were solicited from the charitable. In the following April, a “brief” was obtained for the collection of subscriptions throughout the kingdom, and in December, 1769, the Corporation voted £200 towards the works (raising the money by a loan). The most important alteration was the removal of the east end of the chancel, which projected so far into Small Street as to render carriage traffic dangerous. An altar-piece in the Corinthian style was introduced into the church, which was re-opened for service in February, 1761. The ancient edifice had been crowded with monuments, but it was not until 1766, when a subscription was started for the purpose, that some of those memorials were sought for and replaced. On the 1st March, 1766, Felix Farley's Journal recorded that “the real monumental stone of Mr. Nicholas Thome, founder of the Grammar School, and a liberal benefactor of this city”, had just been recovered and re-erected. “It was to have been put up to adorn a gentleman's Gothic stable in the neighbourhood”. From numerous fragments embedded in the walls of “Black Castle”, Mr. Reeve, who was an industrious picker-up of medieval trifles, must have retained the rest of his gleanings from St. Werburgh's.

The price of French wine advanced considerably at the outbreak of the war. Owing to the numerous captures of merchantmen, however, the supply soon exceeded the demand.


The Intelligencer of November 26th, 1757, contained the following:- “To be sold; a large quantity of prize wines, taken by the Lyon, Caesar, Phoenix, and Tygress privateers. Any person wishing to purchase any quantity not less than 10 hogsheads may pick any of it at 45s. per hogshead” - less than 1s. per gallon!

An amusing style of announcing marriages was in favour about the middle of the century, and several good examples occur in the local journals of 1757. The following are specimens:- February 3, “Was married Mr. Thomas Linford, an eminent cabinet maker in Redcliff Street, to Miss Cook, of Pipe Lane, an agreeable young lady, with a handsome fortune”. May 31, “Was married at Warminster, Mr. Henry Davis, in partnership with Mr. John Hooper, linen-draper in St. Maryleport Street, to Miss Hart, daughter of Richard Hart, Esq., late of Hanham; a young lady endowed with a plentiful fortune and every other qualification to render the married state at once happy and engaging”. June 23, “Was married, at St. Werburgh's, Dr. Archibald Drummond to Miss Parsons, of Rudgeway, a young lady with a fortune of £30,000”. In July, Mr. Deane Bayly, of Wine Street, married “a young lady of plentiful fortune and every other engaging accomplishment”. September 1, “Was married John Smith, Esq., of Long Ashton (eldest son of Jarrit Smith, M.P.), to Miss Woolner, of this city, a handsome lady with £40,000 fortune, and endowed with every other desirable quality that may render the married state compleatly happy”. December 17, “This week was married, Mr. Jackson, of Bath, to the daughter of Mr. Elisha Hellier, an eminent sope boiler in Redcliff Street, a lady of commanding beauty and £5000 fortune”. It is perhaps significant that in some notices, where the writer is silent as to the fortune of the brides, he is eloquent on their beauty and accomplishments; while in others he is reserved about the ladies' charms, but is emphatic about their money. On one occasion, when a spinster of 63 summers was led to the altar, the adroit chronicler recorded that she brought her husband “her weight in gold, and a comfortable landed estate, also with composed and prudent abilities that excel any fortune”. Another marriage (May, 1761) of the same character was that of “John Durbin, jun., Esq., to Miss Drax, sister to the Countess of Berkeley - a lady with a fortune of £10,000”, but whose age is politely concealed. Nothing is generally said about the wealth or character of the husband. The following is exceptional:- June 14, 1761, “Was married


at St. George's, the facetious Mr. Young, of Landogo, to the agreeable Mrs. Williams, late of Screws Hole, with a fortune of £10,000. ”Now and then the hymeneal announcement smells a little of the shop. April 19, 1755, “Was married at Bedminster, Samuel Baker, Esq., of Whitchurch, to Mrs. Hannah Bullock, sister to Mr. Thomas Broackes, who has lately contracted partnership with Mr. Bush, an eminent silk mercer in Wine Street”. February 12, 1784, “Married, at the new Church (St. George's), Mr. William Fripp, son of Mr. Samuel Fripp, partners with an eminent soapmakers' company of this city, to Miss Martha Catley, niece of the two Miss James's, formerly milliners in Wine Street, an agreeable young lady, with a fortune of £3,000”.

A Bill for the extension of local turnpikes having been brought into the House of Commons in 1758, some of the turnpike trustees petitioned for the inclusion in the measure of two more highways, namely, the road through Stoke Bishop to Shirehampton, and the road to Aust (the Welsh mail route), which “was up a very steep hill (Steep Street) going out of Bristol”. To avoid the latter difficulty, the petitioners suggested that a new turnpike road should be made from Frog Lane “through certain grounds (the site of Park Street) to a gate on the Aust road called the White Lady's Gate”. Clauses carrying out these proposals were introduced into the Bill, which became law. It was not until October, 1761, however, that the trustees resolved to proceed with the Whiteladies improvement. The Shirehampton turnpike opened out that district to the fashionable throng at the Hot Well, and excursions to Kingsweston inn and Penpole Hill became popular. For the accommodation of visitors to the latter, a building called the Breakfasting Room was erected, the patrons of which were permitted to ramble in the shrubberies of Kingsweston House.

The local journals of March 11th, 1758, contain the following announcement:- “At No. 6 in Trinity Street, near the College Green. On Monday after Easter will be opened a School for Young Ladies by Mary More and Sisters, where will be carefully taught French, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Needlework. Young Ladies boarded on reasonable terms”. A few weeks later an additional line appears: - “A Dancing Master will properly attend”. A few little boys were admitted as day pupils. Hannah More was at this date under thirteen years of age, which disposes of the statement of some historians that she was the foundress of the school. The institution, was prosperous from the outset.


and when Park Street was laid out, one of the first houses erected was the property of the Misses More, who removed the school there about 1762.

The achievements of the Bristol privateers were frequently the occasion of popular rejoicing. Early in April, 1758, a clever feat was reported of the Phoenix, of 16 guns and 90 men, which carried into Dartmouth the French privateer Bellona, of 20 heavier guns and 120 men. The Phoenix had come within hail of the Frenchman about midnight, and so terrified him by assuming the name of the King's ship Tartar (the terror of French privateers) that he immediately surrendered. A more gallant action was accomplished three weeks later by the Bristol privateer Bellona, of 16 guns. Her captain, Richards, ran the ship into St. Martin's, near Rochelle, and cut from their moorings fourteen French vessels, two of which, of 100 tons each, laden with wine, were brought safely to Galway. This daring act, says the London Chronicle, was done at noonday, and within gunshot of 7 French men of war and 4 frigates. It is needless to say that the contrast between the conduct of the English and the French Bellona was the source of exultation in Bristol. In October a brilliant deed was reported on the part of the local ship, Duke of Cornwall, Capt. Jenkins. The King's ship Winchelsea had been captured by a French man of war, which placed a crew on board, with directions to sail for France. On the voyage the Duke of Cornwall engaged the Winchelsea and succeeded in re-taking the ship. This achievement was crowned in November by the capture of the French man of war Belliqueux, the vessel supposed to have caught the Winchelsea. On the 21st October a despatch arrived in Bristol stating that a foreign ship of 64 guns was lying off Lundy Island, having been driven there by stress of weather. Captain Saumarez, of H.M.S. Antelope, of 60 guns, lying in Kingroad, was that evening at a ball at the Hotwells. The news being reported to him, he repaired on board, accompanied by several volunteers, and beat down Channel. On reaching the foreigner she showed signs of resistance, but soon struck her colours, and was towed up to Kingroad. The Belliqueux had 470 men on board, 60 of whom were sick, and the rest suffering from want of provisions. During the same week Bristol privateers brought eight French merchantmen to Kingroad, some of the prizes being of great value. The Merchants' Society presented Captain Saumarez with 100 guineas.

Paper-hangings for rooms were an expensive luxury


during the first half of the century. In one of the Countess of Hertford's letters, written in 1741, it is stated that superior paper-hangings then cost from 12s. to 13s. a yard. The Bristol Intelligencer of April 16th, 1768, contains an announcement of the sale of a house in Queen Square, “with the paper-hangings thereto affixed”.

An enterprising Bath innkeeper started, in May, a “new machine, on steel springs”, for the accommodation of travellers to and from Bristol. Each journey occupied three hours, and the fare was half a crown.

The original proposal for laying out what was to be subsequently called Park Street was recorded at page 227. After a sleep of 18 years, the project was again brought before the Common Council in July, 1758, its promoters. Alderman Day and George Tyndale, seeking approval of an extended design. They now proposed, on condition of being granted a fresh lease, to lay out a road from the top of the new street to Whiteladies' Gate, where it would join the turnpike road leading from the city viâ St. Michael's Hill, and thus afford a new and better route for the Welsh mail and other vehicles proceeding to Aust. The Chamber granted a renewed lease, but required the lessees to keep the intended new street in repair. The Act authorising the Whiteladies' extension has been already mentioned. It was not until February, 1761, that builders were invited to apply for sites in Park Street.

A modest equestrian entertainment - the first of its kind recorded - took place on the 17th July on Durdham Down. “The famous Thomas Johnson” rode two horses at full speed round the race-course with a foot on each of their backs, and afterwards rode 100 yards standing on his head, and 300 yards more standing on one leg. The public “encouraged this extraordinary undertaking” so liberally that it was repeated two days afterwards. To add to the enjoyment on the second occasion, a “game pig” with a greased tail was let off to be hunted by the populace, and afforded so much sport that it reached Westbury before it was caught, the efforts of a howling crowd of Bristolians being ultimately defeated by a nimble youth of the village. Probably in consequence of this disappointment a “free fight” followed on the Down, “in which several persons were much hurt”.

Felix Farley's Journal of July 27th announces the sale by auction of “the large commodious public-house known by the sign of the Duke of Marlborough, at Bedminster, in the occupation of the Reverend Emanuel Collins; let at £20 per


annum”. As has been already stated, Collins is reported to have made a shameless living by celebrating irregular marriages at his public-house. The Act rendering such unions illegal passed in 1753, and his abandonment of the tavern soon after lends support to the tradition. In 1762 Collins, who (falsely) styled himself M.A., of Oxford, published some poetical effusions under the title of “Miscellanies”, in which the depravity of his mind is only too clearly revealed.

Giles Earle, Esq., son of a once influential Bristolian, Sir Thomas Earle, died at his seat near Malmesbury on the 20th August, 1758, in his 80th year. Mr. Earle devoted himself in early life to politics, and after holding various inferior offices, was appointed a lord of the Treasury in 1737. He is often referred to in Horace Walpole's letters, and appears to have been famous for a wit which was coarse even for that age.

The Common Council, in September, granted the renewal, for fourteen years, to Thomas Tyndall, of the lease of a house in the Royal Fort, on payment of a fine of £60, and a yearly rent of £6. In May, 1762, the Corporation conveyed the fee simple of the property to the lessee for £670. Mr. Tyndall, in August, 1763, had purchased of a lessee of the dean and chapter an interest in plots of land called “Cantock's Closes”, and the lessors granted him fresh leases of the estate, in consideration of a fine of £58. Having acquired several other adjoining fields, Mr. Tyndall demolished the house in the Fort, and set about the construction of an imposing mansion, and the laying out of the meadows into a park, which received the name of its owner. His improvements excited admiration. In a poetical contribution, published in Felix Farley's Journal of June 27th, 1767, a writer says:-

Long in neglect, an ancient dwelling stood,
With tottering walls, worn roofs, and perish'd wood,
'Till gen'rous Tynd-l, fir'd with sense and taste,
Saw here confusion - ruin there - and waste,
Resolved at once to take the rubbish down,
And raise a palace there to grace the town.

Owing to the constant increase of population and the growth of trade, the difficulty of communication between the districts north and south of the Avon, through the extreme narrowness of Bristol Bridge, had been long painfully felt. Accidents to passengers being of frequent occurrence, memorials urging the necessity of a new bridge were presented to the Common Council from time to time; but the expense of an improvement involving the demolition of some


thirty houses standing on the old structure long paralysed the Chamber. At a meeting on the 28th October, 1758, however, a committee was appointed to consider the best means of providing funds for the improvement; and this body invited plans and suggestions. After prolonged deliberation the committee prepared a Bill, taking powers to remove the houses on the bridge and to widen the roadway; and the scheme was laid before a meeting of the inhabitants held in the Guildhall in February, 1751). Much difference of opinion having been elicited, a committee of twenty-four citizens, chosen out of the several wards, was formed to confer on the details with the corporate officials. The remainder of the year was spent in fruitless debates, and in December another public meeting was held in the Guildhall, when it was resolved that the approaches to the bridge should be enlarged, that a temporary bridge should be erected adjoining the old one pending its reconstruction, and that a new bridge of one arch should be thrown “from Temple side to the opposite shore”. The Council, still desirous of improving the old structure, accepted the citizens' suggestions as to the subsidiary bridges, and proposed that the cost of the improvements should be defrayed by a duty on coal, a rate on houses, a wharfage charge on imports and exports, and a toll for five years on the temporary and reconstructed bridges. The citizens' committee protested against the wharfage tax, and as the Council, offended at the opposition, refused to proceed with the scheme, a private Bill was presented to Parliament empowering its promoters to carry out the works. This brought the Corporation to terms, and another Bill was framed giving powers to construct a temporary bridge, and also a permanent bridge in a line with Temple Street, on the completion of which the old bridge was to be taken down and rebuilt. The measure also included powers for the removal of St. Nicholas's Gate and of the south side of the Shambles (the site of what is now Bridge Street). The citizens submitted to the wharfage duty, and the Corporation withdrew the proposed tax on coal; the rate on houses was fixed at 6d. in the pound, and the bridge tolls were to continue until the cost of the improvements was discharged. An Act of Parliament having been obtained (at a cost to the Corporation of £396), the construction of the temporary bridge was begun, and it was sufficiently advanced to permit the members of the Gloucestershire Society to make use of it for their annual feast-day procession on the Brd September, 1761. The designs


proposed for the new Bristol Bridge were the subject of protracted debates amongst the trustees appointed by the Act, who, like the citizens, were divided into two camps, one party urging that the river should be spanned by a single arch, while the economists contended that the old piers should be again made available. No less than seventy-six meetings were held by the trustees, who were bombarded by angry pamphlets and letters in the newspapers, emanating from rival architects, their supporters, and miscellaneous critics. The controversy raged for two years. At length, in November, 1763, it was resolved by a large majority to build a bridge of three arches on the old piers, according to the design of Mr. James Bridges. The foundation stone was laid on the 28th March, 1764. The bridge was opened for foot passengers in September, 1768, and on Michaelmas Day the retiring mayor was the first to traverse it in a carriage. The opening for general traffic took place in November.

A singular business was carried on at this period by a midwife living in Maudlin Lane, who announced that she conveyed or sent children every Wednesday to the Foundling Hospital in London, her charge to parents desirous of ridding themselves of their offspring being 2½ guineas for each child, or four guineas for a couple. As the advertisement was repeated for some months, the woman seems to have found the traffic profitable.

At the swearing-in of the Master of the Barbers' Company, says a journal of November 18th, 1768, “the mayor was pleased to take notice to them of the scandalous practice of shaving on the Lord's Day, desiring the same might be suppressed”. The barbers were accordingly warned that infractions of the law would be punished. Several convictions were subsequently recorded.

Mary Darby, styled by some admirers the English Sappho, was born in the Minster House, adjoining the Cathedral, on the 27th November. Her father was a local merchant, who ruined himself a few years later by a whale fishery scheme, when his daughter was removed from the Misses More's school in Park Street, and the family left Bristol for London. While in her sixteenth year Mary Darby was married to a worthless attorney named Robinson, who soon abandoned her, and the girl-wife, who was possessed of remarkable personal charms, adopted the stage as a profession, and at once became celebrated as an actress. In 1780, whilst playing the character of Perdita, she captivated


the fickle heart of George, Prince of Wales, then in his eighteenth year, and, having listened to his proposals, she was forthwith provided with a splendid establishment. The connection, however, was a short one. In August, 1781, George III. having learnt that the actress was in possession of many compromising love-letters, employed an agent to secure them for the sum of £5,000, which was insufficient to discharge the lady's debts. The king was not aware that his son had also given her, on her consenting to quit the stage for his gratification, a bond for £20,000; but this she surrendered to Mr. Fox on being promised an annuity of £500. She subsequently formed a connection with one Colonel Tarleton, whose rapacity, aided by her own extravagance, reduced her to penury. She also lost the use of her limbs through travelling during a wintry night to rescue Tarleton from a debtors' prison. In 1788 she betook herself to literature, and eventually published about twenty novels and books of poems, several of the latter being characterised by taste and feeling. In despite of her exertions, Mrs. Robinson sank in her later days into destitution, her appeals to her princely seducer being treated with characteristic callousness. She had, however, some devoted admirers, amongst whom were Coleridge, Dr. Walcott, and Sir R.K. Porter. The unhappy woman died at Englefield Green on the 26th December, 1800.

The following advertisement appeared in Felix Farley's Journal of March 31st, 1759:- “To be sold, a handsome dwelling house and garden, with a brickyard, situate in the parish of St. Philip and Jacob. The Jews' Burial Ground and some buildings are in the said yard”.

The impressment of sailors for the navy brought about many desperate conflicts between the press-gangs and their victims. A local newspaper of the 12th May reports that upon information being received that a number of privateers-men were concealed in a public-house at Long Ashton, a press-gang was sent off to capture them; but the sailors made a successful resistance, and mortally wounded the leader of the gang. On the following day a public-house in Marsh Street, in which were five of the privateersmen, was surrounded by the impressment officers, when the sailors mounted upon the roof and exchanged several volleys with their assailants, in one of which the landlady was shot in the neck by one of the press-gang. The privateersmen at last killed one of their own party, when the rest surrendered. The probable consequences of such conflicts to ordinary


wayfarers is left to the reader's imagination. A more desperate conflict took place at Cardiff in September, between about seventy of the crew of the Eagle privateer, of Bristol, and an impressment party who had surrounded the house in which the sailors were quartered. The latter drew up in battle array, their war-cry being “Liberty”: and after a sharp fire on both sides the press-gang retreated, and would have suffered severely but for the interposition of the magistrates. One man was killed and several wounded.

Whilst the crews of the privateers were threatened with life-long servitude on board the fleet, the owners of those vessels were menaced with ruinous actions at law for overstepping their rights. In the Duke of Newcastle's MSS. is a letter, dated May 22nd, 1759, addressed to Mr. Nugent, M.P., by John Noble, Robert Gordon, and other eminent Bristol merchants, soliciting the protection of the Government, “in our deplorable case of the Dutch captures”. A petition drawn up for presentation to Parliament accompanied the letter. The petitioners alleged that at an expense of £300,000 they had equipped and sent out a great number of privateers, which had been instrumental in preserving the commerce of the country and in annoying the enemy. Many French privateers had been captured, as well as ships laden with provisions, ammunition, and goods for the enemy; and more would have been caught but for the wiliness of the French in shipping their foreign imports in neutral bottoms. The petitioners, encouraged by the declaration of the king that he would not suffer French trade to be carried on under other flags, had seized vessels under Dutch and other colours trading with the French colonies; and such vessels had been duly condemned, with the effect of causing the petitioners to send out more privateers at great expense, by which many more neutral ships had been captured. If such prizes were to be delivered up, as was demanded by the neutral Governments, many of the petitioners, “who have adventured all or a large part of their property on the faith of the king's declaration, if not totally ruined, will be greatly injured, and many thousand brave seamen, whose sole dependence is upon their prize money, will be reduced to the utmost distress”. The matter nearly occasioned a war with Holland. Eventually one ship was given up to the Dutch, and owners of privateers were ordered to be more careful in their treatment of neutrals. Bristolians, however, had had enough of privateering, and, indeed, the


French mercantile marine had been swept off the ocean. Felix Farley's Journal of June 9th says:- “Of fifty-six privateers fitted out at this port, there is at this time but a single one remaining at sea”.

On the 16th October John Wesley inspected the French prisoners of war confined at Knowle. He wrote in his Journal:- “About 1100 of them were confined in that little place without anything to lie upon but a little dirty straw, or anything to cover them but a few foul thin rags, either by day or night, so that they died like rotten sheep”. After making this private memorandum, it is amazing to find Wesley writing to Felix Farley's Journal a few days later, to contradict the common report that the prisoners were “dying in whole shoals”. He declared that he had seen no sweeter or cleaner prison in England, and that even during a sickly season there were not thirty dangerously ill out of 1,000 or 1,200. He admitted, however, that many of the captives were almost naked, and commended their wants to public charity. Subsequently, having collected £24, he sent in a supply of shirts and stockings. A subscription was entered into by the citizens, by which £313 were raised, and as the Corporation provided the prison with mattresses and blankets, Wesley had the satisfaction of recording that the prisoners “were pretty well provided with all the necessaries of life”. The captives had increased to about 1,800 at the peace in 1763.

The announcement of the capture of Quebec was received in Bristol on the 18th October with transports of enthusiasm. In the evening the city and the shipping in the harbour burst into a general illumination, “every person”, says the imaginative newspaper chronicler, dazzled by the glare of tallow candles and oil, “seeming to vie with his neighbour how much they could exceed each other in making night itself as bright as midday. . . . The cloud-capt towers of St. James, St. Stephen, &c., were illuminated, and their tops to the distant eye appeared as if crown'd with stars”. On the invitation of the mayor, the influential citizens assembled at the Council House, where bumpers were drunk in honour of the victors, amidst volleys from the military drawn up in front of the building, and salutes from the cannon on the Grove. The French had threatened a descent on England by means of a vast flotilla of flat-bottomed boats, but the dread of invasion was forgotten in the general rejoicing, and the peril had, in fact, passed away. Another public celebration of a similar character took place on the


8th October, 1760, on the arrival of the news of the surrender of Montreal.

In an advertisement dated the 27th October, 1759, the Bristol turnpike trustees made the following generous proposal:- “Notice is hereby given that any Persons willing to take off the Dirt from any Part of the Turnpike Roads leading from the City of Bristol may do it at their own Expense between this and the 2nd February next”. The advertisement was repeated in subsequent years.

Resuming an ancient practice, the corporate body attended service at the Cathedral on the anniversary of Gunpowder Plot. Felix Farley's Journal thereupon congratulated the city on “the pleasing prospect of future peace” between the Council and the dean and chapter, who had been “unhappily divided for many years past”.

Mr. Nugent, M.P., having been appointed a Vice Treasurer of Ireland, his seat became vacant in December, when he was forthwith re-elected. No opposition having been offered, Mr. Nugent “generously gave £500 to be disposed of as the citizens should think proper”; and the money was handed over to the fund for rebuilding the Bridge.

Thanks to the extraordinary successes of the English arms in India, America, and Germany, the two leading Ministers, Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle, were pelted in 1760 with gold boxes by the civic corporations. The Common Council of Bristol was naturally one of the first to take action. On the 10th January the Chamber resolved that the freedom of the city should be presented in gold boxes to the Duke and his colleague “in the most respectful manner”. Two elegantly chased caskets were accordingly obtained at a cost of £113. (One of the above boxes, offered for sale in 1890, is now in the possession of Sir Charles Wathen.)

By a fire on the IGth March, 1760, in a house in Charles Street, “part of the new buildings in the parish of St. James”, a respected schoolmaster, named Jones, was burnt to death, in company with his wife. The disaster was attributed to the negligence of the city watchmen, and some doggrel lines in Felix Farley's Journal expressed the feeling of the inhabitants:-

The Watch burn Tobacco while Houses are burning,
And the Glass, not the Watch, goes its rounds.
A burning shame this and sad subject of mourning,
That our Guard's such a mute Pack of Hounds.

The same journal of July 11th, 1761, reporting an


attempted burglary, said, “The mistress of the house alarmed the watch, who came near enough to see them run away, but being an old decrepit man could not follow them”.

“The noted Mr. Slack”, a Bristol butcher, had a pugilistic encounter on the 2nd June, 1760, at St. James's tennis court in London, with “William Stephens, the nailer”. The odds were 5 to 1 upon Slack, but he was defeated in four minutes. Many noblemen were present, and upwards of £10,000 changed hands. A still more exciting battle was fought at the same place in March, 1761, between “the nailer” and George Maggs, of Pensford. “There were assembled”, says the Bristol Chronicle, “the greatest concourse of nobility, gentry, &c., ever known on a like occasion”. The prices of admission were 10s. 6d. and 5s. Three to one were betted upon “the nailer”, owing to his former victory, but Maggs defeated his adversary in 17½ minutes. “A certain Royal Personage [the Duke of Cumberland] was present and won large sums. 'Tis said upwards of £50,000 depended on the issue”. The London Evening Post adds:- “The Bristol people, it is supposed, have carried away above £10,000, and are so elate with their success that they offer to back their champion for 1000 guineas against any man in the world”.

In consequence of the narrowness of the roadway through the city gate near Needless Bridge, by which the traffic from the Stone Bridge to Broadmead was much impeded, the Council, in August, 1760, ordered the demolition of the gate and the widening of the thoroughfare.

Owing to the pressure of his judicial duties and advancing years, Sir Michael Foster tendered his resignation of the recordership to the Council on the 23rd August. The Chamber, however, begged that he would retain his office, and he temporarily complied. He refused his fee for the gaol delivery in 1762; but the Corporation presented him with a piece of plate. On his final resignation, in February, 1763, a second gift of plate was forwarded in appreciation of his services. His successor was the Hon. Daines Barrington, a grandson of Sir William Daines, and a distinguished antiquary. Sir Michael Foster died November 7th, 1763, and was buried at Stanton Drew. Blackstone and other eminent judges, as well as Horace Walpole, have referred to his distinguished learning, integrity and independence, and Churchill noted the general impression as to his character:-

Each judge was true, and steady to his trust,
As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster just.


The military glory surrounding the closing years of the reign of George II. evoked a feeling of respect for that monarch which had been previously lacking, and his death excited some popular regret. A poet, whose genius shone in the Bristol Chronicle, burst out as follows:-

Hark! hark! the Bells, now solemnly they rings
The Funeral Knell of George, the Best of Kings!

The accession of George III. was proclaimed on the 30th October, 1760, on the site of the High Cross and the other usual places, with the customary formalities. A hundred private coaches took part in the procession. Festivities followed in the evening, but the total outlay was only £129. The marriage and coronation of the young king in the following year were celebrated with greater parade. In the coronation procession of the trading fraternities - many of which displayed their waning numbers for the last time - the Smiths' Company was preceded by a man in armour; but the most interesting object was a stage drawn by four horses, whereon were printers engaged in working off an appropriate poetical effusion, copies of which were scattered amongst the spectators. Such an exhibition of the printing-press, according to Felix Farley's Journal, had never been made before in England. Following the trade companies were the boys of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital “with their hair powdered”. During the service at the Cathedral two coronation anthems were sung, “French horns, fiddles, drums, &c., playing with the organ”. Subsequently a quantity of beer was distributed, and many families wore provided with dinner, an ox having been roasted whole at Temple Meads for that purpose. In the evening a painted transparency, brilliantly illuminated, 73 feet high and of proportional breadth, retained vast crowds in Queen Square until 3 o'clock in the morning; whilst pyrotechnic displays took place on the tower of St. John's Church and at Lawford's Gate. Amongst the items of civic expense, which exceeded £400, were - A ball in Merchants' Hall, £119; fireworks, £46; music, £24; wine, £21; gunpowder, £27; the transparency (painted by an able local artist named Simmons), £40; and “expenses on account of a champion”, £10.

A gallant action between the Constantine privateer of Bristol and a French privateer called the Victoire took place on the 23rd November, 1760. Captain Forsyth was attacked by the enemy, which he had taken for an English man of war; and the French rushed upon the Constantine's


[Ed: part of the following page is obscured, so the lines are incomplete.]

"But my
English lions,
and head, though
engavement, the
sted all sail in
enabled him to
We made great
out of his scup-
was perfectly
I had but two
as they were
was won against
18 four-pound
20 six-pounders

the West Indies
rade, which was
protective duties.
English vessels
nearly one-half.
In 1762 the
bar coast. The
the 460 slaves
St. Michael, of
the loss, through
seven of the crew,

districts of the
lowly developed.
the families who
southern slope of
A correspondent
laments that
the pleasantest
down, delightful
experience the

The writer
concluded by hoping that the threatened devastation would be avoided by the purchase of the ground by public subscription. A few weeks later another, or perhaps the same, writer, lamented in verse the degraded condition of the hill, observing, -

Each petty tradesman here must have his seat,
And vainly thinks the heights will make him great;

adding that, whatever the place might be called in future,


its proper title was Pedlars' Hill. As a matter of fact, the extension of the new suburb was highly beneficial. Sea-side resorts being still neglected, the professional and mercantile class living in the close streets of the old city frequently sent their children during the summer holidays to Kingsdown for a change of air. It may be worth while to note the rental of various houses advertised to be let in this year. A house in Broad Street, occupied by a haberdasher, £21 house in High Street, £21; house on the Bridge, £30; another, £12; two houses in College Green, £21 and £18 house and warehouses, Thomas Street, £13 8s.

In consequence of frequent complaints as to the dilatoriness of the postal service, the authorities in London announced in 1760 that letters or packets would thenceforth be dispatched from the capital to the chief provincial towns “at any hour, without loss of time”, at certain specified rates. An express to Bristol cost £2 3s. 6d.; to Plymouth, £4 8s. 9d., Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are not mentioned.

The earliest recorded Bristol riding school was opened on the 2nd February, 1761, by “R.C. Carter, riding master from London”. The school was held in an extensive building called the Circular Stables, in the Backfields, Stoke's Croft, which had just been erected on the tontine principle by 95 citizens contributing £30 each, it being agreed that the property should be divided when the nominated lives were reduced to two.

A general election took place in March, 1761, when the local political leaders resolved to avoid a contest. The Bristol Chronicle stated that the Union (Whig) Society met in the Guildhall and nominated Robert Nugent, while the Steadfast (Tory) Club assembled at Merchants' Hall and nominated Jarrit Smith, “our late worthy representatives, which compromise have delivered the city from a very oppressive weight it used to labour under on such occasions”. The members were formally elected on the 27th March, and “carried round part of the city on chairs”. In the evening they entertained the electors of each parish. Mr. Smith was created a baronet in 1763, and subsequently took the name of Smyth.

Evidence as to the low price of animal food is offered by a Felix Farley's Journal of May, 1761, in which it is stated that a contractor had undertaken to provide “good beef” for the prisoners of war confined at Knowle at the rate of 13s. 11d. per cwt. - less than 1½d. per pound.


Down to this period the ancient gateway of St. Augustine's Abbey, in College Green, was provided with gates, and the communication between the upper and lower greens was under the control of the dean and chapter. Probably to save the expense of a porter, the capitular body resolved in June, 1761, that the gates should be removed; and as no steps were taken to safeguard the rights of the chapter, the thoroughfare became a public way. In the following September it was determined that the service held at 7 in the morning should be suspended from November 1st to March 31st. Scandal having been caused by the manner in which some of the members shirked their duties, it was further ordered that each prebendary should be mulcted £12 and the dean £24 if he failed to be in residence for the stipulated yearly period. This regulation was of no effect. Complaint being also made that “numbers of loose and disorderly people meet to go in the church cloisters as soon as it is dark, to the great scandal of the neighbourhood”, orders were given to close the cloisters' gate.

Philip Yonge, D.D., who had held the bishopric for three years, was translated to Norwich in August, 1761. Nothing is locally recorded of this prelate, who was Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, prebendary of Westminster, canon of St. Paul's, and rector of a Hertfordshire parish. In the Cole MSS., however, is the following minute of a conversation relating to Redcliff church, held in 1771, between Mr. Cole and the Rev. Dr. Lort. “Mr. Lort mentioned that, calling on the Bishop of Norwich [Yonge], and talking with his lordship on the great qualifications of Mr. Cannings, his merits to the town of Bristol and the kingdom in general, the bishop made answer that if he had not prevented it, the inhabitants of that grateful parish had thrown out the monument of its so worthy benefactor”. Cole adds:- “Bristol may be a good trading city, and skilled in those arts that will at last end in the destruction of this and every other great trading and luxurious nation, but the virtues of gratitude, decency, and generosity I think their historian will be much difficulted to point out in it”.

Dr. Yonge was succeeded in Bristol by Thomas Newton, D.D., prebendary of Westminster, sub-almoner and precentor of York, and rector of a rich London parish. A canonry of St. Paul's was conferred with the bishopric, when the other preferments were resigned. Dr. Johnson's contemptuous opinion of “Tom”, who like himself was the son of a Lichfield tradesman, is well known. But if Newton


lacked learning, he possessed all the arts by which adroit clergymen attained worldly distinction. No speculator ever watched the rise and fall of the funds with more anxious vigilance than Newton displayed in noting vacancies in and appointments to the great prizes of the church. The MSS. of the Duke of Newcastle prove his indefatigable activity as a suitor, while his numerous preferments attest the success of his exertions. In September, 1757, he sends off a hurried despatch to the all-powerful minister, advising him that one of the canonries of Windsor had just become vacant by the death of its holder. Writing on August 7th, 1761, he informs the duke that the archbishop of York lies in a dying state, and cannot possibly live beyond the next morning. “Upon this occasion of two vacancies, I beg, I hope, I trust your grace's kindness and goodness will be shown to one who has long solicited your favour”. The duke hastened to reassure him. Replying on the same day (before the archbishop was dead), the minister stated that he had recommended the bishop of Salisbury to the King to succeed at York. “I hope you will fill one of the vacant sees if there should be two, and I have not the least doubt of it”. Two days later Newton writes:- “Sunday morning, 10 o'clock. The archbishop of York is just now dead. My particular thanks are due to your grace for the honour of your letter”. While he was paying assiduous court to the duke, however, Newton confesses in his autobiography - an amusing picture of the author and his times - that he was ardently supplicating the patronage of Lord Bute, the king's favourite; and while roundly asserting that he owed his bishopric to the personal favour of George III., he loses no occasion to vilipend the Duke of Newcastle. Newton's elevation to the bench did not slacken his courtship of the powerful. He was offered the deanery of Westminster, but declined it, he says, “having something better in view”. His refusal of the Primacy of Ireland was due to the same cause - his anxiety to obtain the see of London, which according to his own account he was promised on two successive vacancies, but which the King conferred on other competitors. Unsuccessful in securing the rich bishopric of Ely on a later occasion, he was at length, in 1768, gratified with the deanery of St. Paul's, then much better endowed than many episcopates. In his memoirs Newton states that the office was spontaneously conferred upon him by the King. It was really gained by urgent solicitation. Warburton, writing to Hurd while the place was still vacant, said:- “I wish


success to the Bishop of Bristol, though he played the fool in the affair you mention. But that will not hinder his exchanging his rectory for a deanery”. Writing to the Duke of Newcastle in October, 1768, the lucky suitor thanks his grace for his congratulations on this windfall, regarding his esteem “a very considerable addition to the value of the preferment”. During the earlier part of his long tenure of the see of Bristol (twenty-one years), Dr. Newton resided three, and sometimes four or five, months yearly at the episcopal palace, though he states that the income of the bishopric was little more than £300, and never exceeded £400. “By living and residing there so much”, he wrote about 1781, “he was in hopes that his example would have induced the other members of the church to perform also their part, and to discharge at least their statutable duties. The deanery is worth at least £600 a year, and each prebend about half that sum, and for these preferments the residence usually required is three months for the dean and half that time for each prebendary. But, alas! never was church more shamefully neglected. The bishop has several times been there for months together, without seeing the face of anything better than a minor canon. His example having no kind of effect, he remonstrated several times, . . . their want of residence was the general complaint not only of the city, but likewise of all the country. . . . But the bishop's remonstrances had no better effect than his example, and to do more was not in his power. . . . While the deans of Gloucester, &c., were beautifying their churches, poor Bristol lay utterly neglected, like a disconsolate widow”. The dean of this period (1763-80) was Cutts Barton, who followed the example of another dignitary referred to by the bishop, and was simply in residence “the better part of the year”, - namely, the week during which the yearly revenues were divided.

The cruelty of the penal code is illustrated by the fate of John Cope, who was executed at St. Michael's Hill on the 6th November, 1761. Cope had been tried for felony in 1760, when he was sentenced to seven years' transportation. He subsequently succeeded in escaping from Newgate, in company with other prisoners, and on being recaptured he was tried at the next assizes for the capital offence of “being found at large after having received sentence of transportation”. He was of course convicted, and, perhaps with a view to deter others from attempting evasion, the extreme sentence of the law was carried out.


In December, 1761, much excitement was caused in the city by reports of alleged supernatural disturbances in the household of Richard Giles, landlord of the Lamb inn, near Lawford's Gate, who had just started certain “flying wagons” to London. Two of Giles's numerous family, “Molly” and “Dobby”, aged thirteen and eight, were stated to be nightly tormented by some invisible power, which bit them on the neck and arms, and pricked them with pins; various articles of furniture being at the same time thrown about their bedroom by incomprehensible forces. Amongst the persons desirous of probing the mystery was Mr. Henry Durbin, a prosperous druggist in Redcliff Street (uncle of Sir John Durbin), whose narrative of the marvels must be briefly summarised. When the children were together in bed, Mr. Durbin was shown marks of bites and scratchings that had just been made under the bed-clothes, and was at a loss to account for them naturally; though he notes that the girls were never tormented when asleep. He also saw a wine glass rise perpendicularly a foot in the air, and fling itself with a loud report against a nurse five feet distant. Then Molly's cap flew four feet off her head, and something beat the tattoo on the bed-ticking with the skill of a drummer. During the biting and pricking Mr. Durbin and others thumped the bed vigorously, when something squeaked like a rat, but the practices continued. After other experiences the evil spirit - for Mr. Durbin was now sure it was a spirit - condescended to reply to questions by giving as many knocks as the interrogator required for an affirmative reply. By this means it was discovered, as had been suspected, that the spirit was instigated by an old witch, living at Mangotsfield, who had been paid ten guineas by a rival carrier to bewitch Mr. Giles's family and wagons. This confession was confirmed by the fact that one of Mr. Giles's flying wagons had suddenly stuck fast in the road at Hanham, where eighteen horses had been required to move it; while another wagon had a trembling fit in Giles's own yard. By February the subject had become the talk of the city, and Mr. Durbin had been joined in his numberless visits to the inn by several clergymen, amongst them being the Rev. J. Camplin, precentor of the Cathedral, and vicar of St. Nicholas, the Rev. S. Seyer, head master of the Grammar School, the Rev. R. Symes, of St. Werburgh's, the Rev. J. Price, of Temple, the Rev. - Brown, and the Rev. - Shepherd. It was now thought desirable to interrogate the evil spirit in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and


Mr. Durbin asserts that it answered correctly by knocks to all the questions put in those tongues. What was still more marvellous, Mr. Camplin asked several questions mentally, and received truthful taps in reply. Mr. Symes, equally convinced that the agency was diabolical, asked in the pulpit for the prayers of his parishioners on behalf of the tormented children. Another believer addressed a letter to Felix Farley's Journal, declaring that scoffers of witchcraft cast a slur upon the Bible. Soon after, the children began to be thrown violently out of bed, and Major Drax, a relative of the Countess of Berkeley, and a powerful man, assured Mr. Durbin that his strength, together with that of his footman and coachman, was insufficient to prevent the girls from being thrown upon the floor. Indeed, “four stout men could scarce hold one child”, who was borne towards the ceiling. Pins next began to fly about the room. The major marked several pins, and laid them in a distant corner, but they were forthwith thrown back into his hand. The gallant officer then “carry'd them up to London to Court, and shewed them to several noblemen and bishops”, - with results unrecorded. Meanwhile the wagons were as much persecuted as the children, one vehicle being sixteen hours in making its way from the Lamb inn to Bath, while another had its iron chain twisted into knots; but Giles seems to have had a shrewd suspicion that the evil agency was simply the trickery of his servants. The children were removed to the houses of various friends, but the phenomena continued so long as they remained together, while there was a notable diminution of the marvels when they were separated. On the 12th May Mr. Giles suddenly became ill. He had ridden to Bath in a gig, but on returning home, on reaching the spot where his wagons were usually “affected”, the harness broke, and he saw an old woman standing by the wheel, to whom he had not the courage to speak. He died on the 16th, and Mr. Durbin clearly believed (and in fact the demon told him) that the carrier was a victim to witchcraft. The customary disturbances at the Lamb then ceased for about two months (the eldest girl had been sent to Swansea); but in July Dobby began to be again tormented, and at the following fair many old frequenters of the inn declined to lodge in the witch-stricken hostel. Soon after, the children being together again, the old phenomena revived, and Mr. Durbin, on questioning the spirit, learnt that the witch had received another fee of ten guineas to continue the persecution. The


necessity of taking energetic measures being now apparent, Mrs. Giles resolved on calling in the assistance of a “white witch”, commonly known as the Cunning Woman of Bedminster. A visit being paid to this redoubtable female, the witch at once stated to her disguised clients that she knew all about the case, named the spirit that had worked the mischief, and propounded a remedy for his summary overthrow which modern delicacy will not permit to be described. Her prescription was immediately followed with triumphant success. The demon was routed, and never ventured to return. The prosaic John Evans concludes his notice of the affair by stating that the whole imposture was planned by “Mrs. Nelmes, and her daughter, Mrs. Giles, the grandmother and mother of Molly and Dobby, for the purpose of depreciating the value of the house, of which Mrs. Nelmes became the purchaser”.

On the 28th December the Duke of York, brother of George III., and then heir-presumptive to the throne, paid a brief visit to Bristol. He was met at Temple Gate by the mayor, the members of the Corporation, and others, who escorted him to the mayor's residence in Queen Square; After being presented with the freedom of the city and of the Merchants' Society in gold boxes, the young prince was entertained to dinner at the Merchants' Hall, where the tables groaned under “400 dishes”; and a grand ball was held at a later hour in the Assembly Room. The duke next morning inspected some of the principal glass-houses, and then returned to Bath. Unusual preparations for this visit were made by the Common Council, who sent for a noted cook from Bath to dress the dinner, and ordered that the principal table, “for both courses”, should be set out with china plates and dishes, and silver knives, forks, and spoons. The plate was obtained by a perquisition on the wealthier aldermen and councillors, Thomas Deane and James Hilhouse lending 3 dozen each; John Durbin and Alderman Smith each 2 dozen; and Alderman Laroche, Alderman Abraham Elton, Isaac Baugh, Henry Bright, Daniel Harson, Charles Hotchkin, and M. Mease each 1 dozen. The chamberlain collected 138 more knives and forks from other persons. No less than 86 silver candlesticks figure in the list of borrowed plate, together with two punch bowls. Altogether the entertainment cost the Corporation upwards of £520.

The corporate accounts contain the following item, dated December 22nd, 1761:- “Paid for the ironwork in Gibleting Pat. Ward below Hungroad, Gloucestershire side, £10”.


There was a further outlay of £12 19s. 6d. for the gibbet. Ward was executed for having murdered “the warner” - a man appointed to notify to Bristol merchants the arrival of their vessels in Kingroad - and the gibbeting of the body at the mouth of the Avon was intended to strike terror in lawless sailors.

The outbreak of war with Spain, in January, 1762, was followed in Bristol by the usual preparations for harrying the enemy's merchantmen by privateers. A number of ships were fitted out, but without any striking success. In the following March seven sailors belonging to one of those vessels - the King George, of 32 guns and 200 men - were tried in London, charged with mutiny and carrying off the ship. It appeared that a majority of the crew, having determined to undertake a piratical excursion, seized and imprisoned Captain Reed and the officers, and placed the sailing master in command of the privateer, with orders to navigate her eastwards. He brought her, however, to a European port, where 100 of the mutineers escaped. Four of the prisoners were convicted, and two of them were afterwards hanged.

The first recorded “lock-out” of workmen by employers took place in April, when the journeymen tailors demanded a reduction in the hours of labour - then 14 per day, less an hour for dinner. The masters refused to make any concession, and unanimously agreed to close their workshops until the men withdrew their request. A strike occurred at Bath at the same time, the men demanding that their daily labour should be “only from six in the morning till seven in the evening, which is usual throughout the kingdom”. The issue is unknown.

Felix Farley's Journal of April 24th recorded the death, a week previously, of a wealthy pluralist, “the Rev. Mr. Thomas Taylor, minister or proprietor of Clifton”, also rector of Congresbury, curate of Wick, and rector of St. Ewen's, Bristol. Consequent upon his demise, “the great and small tithes of the parish of Clifton, of the yearly value of £110”, were offered for sale in October, 17G3. They were again offered for sale by auction in April, 1778, when they were stated to produce £150 yearly, and were then or soon afterwards purchased by Mr. Samuel Worrall, whose descendants have reaped enormous profits from the investment.

The Council, at a meeting in May, gave orders for the demolition of Queen Street Gate, Castle precincts. Castle Street Gate was demolished in 1766. The two portals were


erected at the close of the Commonwealth, when the locality was laid out for building sites.

Norborne Berkeley, Esq., of Stoke Park, Stapleton, having been appointed Lord Lieutenant of the city, the Council, in July, presented him with the freedom. Mr. Berkeley had shortly before rebuilt the ancient mansion of his family, to which his only sister, the wife of the fourth Duke of Beaufort, succeeded, the estate thus obtaining the vulgar name of “the Duchess's”. Mr. Berkeley, who was stigmatised by Junius as one of the obsequious “King's friends”, was gratified in 1704 by having the barony of Botetourt revived in his favour. In 1768 he was appointed Governor of Virginia, where he was so popular that the colonists, soon after his death, erected a statue to his memory at Richmond.

It has been already stated that the Act for rebuilding Bristol Bridge empowered the trustees to make improvements in its approaches, one of the most important of which was the throwing open of High Street by the removal of St. Nicholas's Gate. The work was beset with considerable difficulty, as the chancel of St. Nicholas's church, approached from the nave by about twenty steps, extended over the archway, and any interference with the crumbling old fabric threatened to bring the whole to the ground. The trustees long hesitated to take action; and the vestry was equally embarrassed as to the means they should take to supply the threatened loss of area in a church already too small. Early in 1702 the parochial authorities resolved to obtain estimate's for building a new church in King Street, but this project was abandoned as too expensive. Negotiations were then opened with the Bridge trustees, and it was agreed in February that, in consideration of a grant of £1,400 and of certain small plots of ground, the vestry would remove the nave and chancel, including the gateway, and build a larger church on nearly the original site. A design, in what the architect (James Bridges) facetiously called the “gothic” style, was accepted in May; the last services in the old edifice took place on the 29th August, and in November certain contractors undertook to remove the gateway and church and rebuild the latter for the sum of £2,733. Saving a small part forming the eastern end, the ancient crypt was preserved intact. The work of demolition was forthwith commenced; but, although the removal of the Gate was a great public convenience, the date of its disappearance is not recorded. The vestry proposed to retain the ancient tower; but, as the wooden spire was decayed, a design was obtained


for substituting a “cupola” similar to the All Saints' anomaly. When the spire was taken down, however, in 1763 (the leaden covering produced £246 17s.), the authorities learnt with dismay that the tower itself was ruinous, and they felt compelled to order its removal, and to accept a plan (by Thomas Patey) for a new one. In their tribulation to find funds for this and other charges the vestry hit upon a novel expedient. The only communication between Nicholas and Baldwin Streets was a dark and inconvenient flight of steps. The sub-structure of the spire offered space for another thoroughfare, and, an appeal having been made to the Corporation and the Society of Merchants, a grant of £210 was voted by the former and £105 by the latter towards making “an easy and convenient public passage under the new intended tower” from Nicholas Street to the Back. (Traces of this footway are still visible on the southern wall of the tower.) The deficit being still large, the vestry resolved to levy a yearly church-rate of 2s. in the pound on rack rentals; but the tax was stoutly resisted, the parishioners contending that the authorities should apply to the building fund the £1,241 received for church property on the old Bridge, or that the Bridge trustees should be compelled to pay the whole cost of the reconstruction. Secret negotiations followed between the vestry and the trustees, and the latter body, by what was subsequently denounced as a gross malfeasance, voted an additional sum of £1,000 towards the building fund. The vestry thereupon discarded the plan of a “cupola”. An Act to legalise the trustees' grant and to empower the levying of church rates was successfully applied for in November, 1768. The statute stated that the church and tower, then completed, had cost £6,549 6s., and that the spire would entail a further outlay of £1,075. The capstone of the spire, 206 feet from the ground, was laid in December, 1769, by George Catcott, who was ridiculed by Chatterton for the eccentric freak. St. Nicholas's Conduit was removed by the Bridge trustees in 1762, and was rebuilt at their expense on the Back, the vestry requiring them also to construct two cisterns holding eighty tons of water.

Felix Farley's Journal of August 21st, 1762, announced that “several workmen are now employed in raising the walks in College Green, and in taking down the High Cross”. No order for this demolition, subsequent to that of 1757, is to be found in the minutes of the dean and chapter; but it would appear that the Cathedral authorities were memorialised by


several leading residents to remove the Cross, the chief grievance being that from its intersecting the walks it prevented parties of promenaders from walking abreast, and was often defiled by nuisances. (Mr. Richard Champion, the china-maker, is said, in a local work, to have been an earnest agitator for the removal, and to have raised a subscription for that purpose; but he was then a youth of 18 years, living in London.) The newspaper scribe added that the Cross, “when beautified”, would be re-erected“ in the middle of the grass plot near the Lower Green”, near its former position; but if such a design was ever contemplated it was soon abandoned. The stonework and statues were deposited in the Cathedral, where they remained for two years. In the meantime the Rev. Cutts Barton became the head of the Cathedral, and that practical-minded worldling, dreading an appeal for the reconstruction of the Cross, which would have involved the chapter in some expense, resolved to get rid of the relics (of which he was not the owner) by presenting them to Mr. Henry Hoare, of Stourhead, a zealous collector of antiquities, who cordially accepted the gift. In October, 1764, the materials, excepting the much-worn lower columns, were despatched in six wagons to their final resting place in Wiltshire. Almost the only comment on this transaction published in the local press was the following epigram in F. Farley's Journal of October 28th:-

Ye people of Bristol, deplore the sad loss
Of the kings and the queens that once reigned in your Cross;
Your great men's great wisdom you surely must pity,
Who've banished what all men admired from the city.

By the death, on the 26th August, of the seventh Earl of Westmoreland, that title devolved upon Mr. Thomas Fane, long an eminent legal practitioner in Bristol, nephew and heir of John Scrope, M.P., and son-in-law of Alderman William Swymmer, a wealthy Bristolian. Mr. Fane, who lived many years in the Scrope mansion in Small Street, was appointed, through his uncle's influence, Customer of the port - a valuable sinecure - and was also steward of several royal manors, and clerk to the Merchants' Society. Having acquired a fortune, he retired from business about 1768, when his Bristol-born son and heir married a grand-daughter of the Duke of Ancaster, and he himself became M.P. for Lyme Regis. The statement in a local history that he was a low-class attorney, and succeeded to the earldom only through the rapid death of twelve intervening heirs, is a ridiculous fiction. After his death, in 1771, his widow


returned to Bristol, and resided in her ancestral house on St. Augustine's Back until her demise in 1782.

A Government notification in the local newspapers of the 4th September, 1762, announced an acceleration of the mails between the southern counties and Bristol. In future the postboy was to leave Salisbury on Mondays at six o'clock in the morning, to arrive at Bath (a distance of about 39 miles) at 8 or 9 at night, and to leave Bath for Bristol at six next morning. On Wednesdays and Fridays the departure from Salisbury was in the evening, the journey occupying about nineteen hours. By this arrangement letters from Portsmouth were received two days earlier than before.

Owing to the increasing population of the out-parish of St. Philip's, a private cemetery, styled the Universal Burial Ground, was opened about this time. It is described as “behind Eugene Street, near the Poor House, without Lawford's Gate”. The charge for an interment was 4s.

A local journal of the 30th October gave notice that an “Expert Tapster” was wanted for Newgate prison. “He will be under the protection of the Keeper from all harms and insults, and shall keep a genteel apartment free from disturbance. The Tap-house to be locked every night at half an hour after ten o'clock”. The place was a profitable one, for prisoners and visitors were allowed to drink as much as they could pay for, and previous to the execution of an interesting criminal the gaol was crowded with bibulous sympathisers. In October, 1764, two felons under sentence of death had a quarrel whilst drinking in the “genteel apartment”, when one of them drew the knife he was permitted to carry, and nearly killed his companion. Insolvent debtors mingled with criminals in this drinking den, and were physically and morally infected by them. Dr. Johnson, in a contemporary essay, computed that out of the 20,000 debtors in English prisons one-fourth perished yearly from the corruption of the air, want of exercise and food, the contagion of diseases, and the “severity of tyrants”.

The civic arrangements for preserving order in the streets being inefficient, drunken quarrels were of everyday occurrence. On the 23rd October a desperate affray, arising out of a pothouse dispute, occurred near St. Nicholas's church between the butchers in the market and a number of Glamorganshire militiamen then quartered in the city. One butcher was mortally injured, and several on both sides were grievously wounded. No steps were taken for the punishment of the rioters, but on the 2nd November two


of the militiamen, convicted of having taken money from French prisoners at Knowle to favour their escape, were drummed out of the regiment, “after receiving 1000 lashes each at three several times”. About the same date, a correspondent of the Bristol Journal complained of the foulness of the public thoroughfares, which he declared to be a scandal to the city. “Your lanes and alleys”, he said, “smell aloud”, and filth lay in every direction.

In consequence of a fire which took place on the 16th November in a house on St. Philip's Plain, by which eight of the inmates lost their lives, attention was again called to the inadequate provisions existing for the prevention of such disasters. The Corporation took no action, and shortly afterwards, when a sugar-house was burnt to the ground, the only apparatus in working order was the engine of the Crown Fire Office, which is shown by a contemporary engraving to have contained about forty gallons of water, and to have been worked by two men.

The increased taxation rendered necessary by the Seven Years' War caused a notable rise in the price of beer. In November, 1762, the following advertisement appeared in the local press:- “The publicans of Bristol... greatly oppressed by the late Act of advancing 3s. per barrel, and now malt being at 4s. per bushel... ale cannot be afforded at 3d. per quart, and therefore give notice that from and after the 29th November, all ale will be sold at 4d. per quart”. The announcement raised a storm of indignation, and three weeks later the trade notified that the price would be fixed at 3d½., “as in London, which we hope will be agreeable to the public”. The retail charge for wine continued low. At the fashionable Ostrich inn, on Durdham Down, the price of half a pint of wine was sixpence in November, 1761.

The wrath of the Common Council was aroused in December by the discovery that several “foreigners” had opened places of business in the city. The town-clerk was ordered to prosecute the intruders, many of whom made their peace by purchasing the freedom. The persecution was renewed in 1765, when a draper was required to pay no less than fifty guineas. On his petition, however, a moiety of the fine was remitted. After this period the old detestation of intruders gradually died out. In a brief account of the city prefixed to “The New Bristol Directory for the year 1792”, the compiler remarks:- “All kinds of persons are free to exercise their trades and callings here, without molestation from the Corporation”.


The fee for “breaking the ground” for a funeral in the Cathedral was £10 for a grave in the choir, and £6 in the nave or cloisters, irrespective of heavy fees for the funeral service. The dean and chapter condemned these charges as “exorbitant” in December, 1762, and ordered them to be reduced to £6, £3, and £2 respectively. In 1776, however, the authorities again raised the fee to £10 for interment in the Cathedral, and in 1802 the charge was increased to £16, a grave in the chancel costing £5 extra.

The proclamation of peace with France and Spain was made on the 30th March, 1763, with the usual formalities. The peace, effected by the king's favourite, the Earl of Bute, was exceedingly unpopular, and although the Corporation ordered “a rundlet of wine to be let run at the several conduits of All Saints, St. Thomas, and the Key”, for the gratification of the populace, enthusiasm was conspicuously absent. F. Farley's Journal indicated the prevalent feeling:-

The Peace is good - who dare dispute the fact?
See the first fruits thereof - the Cyder Act!

The Government had just kindled the wrath of the western counties by imposing an excise duty on the popular beverage of the district, and the hatred of the Scotch Minister was deep and widespread. In some neighbouring towns the peace proclamation was made amidst the funereal tolling of bells and the mocking salutes of “sowgelders' horns”. Another Bristol poet may be quoted:-

Our strong Beer is tax'd, and we're tax'd in our Lights,
And more would they tax of our national Rights;
But sooner than yield to a tax on our Fruit,
The trees, though in blossom, shall fall to the root.
May those who persist in enforcing the deed
For evermore dwell on the north side the Tweed.

A week or two later there was a sale, on the Quay, of a quantity of Gloucestershire “Syder”, which, says the reporter, “sold for three-farthings a gallon; so great is the aversion to the intended duty and the agreeable visits of the exciseman”. The Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the Peace excited renewed manifestations of discontent. In spite of the corporate outlay for gunpowder, bonfires, and hogsheads of beer, the people stood sulkily aloof. In another western city, the church porches were decked with crape and apples; the mayor walked alone to the cathedral; while in the evening the mob, provided with a jack-boot, a punning symbol of the Scotch favourite's name and title, paraded an effigy wrapped in a plaid, which they banged and burnt. When the Cider Act came into operation, in the


autumn, a county meeting was held in Gloucestershire, at which it was declared that the tax had “spread a universal face of sorrow over the cider counties”, while in the market towns apple boughs and empty barrels pranked with mourning were carried in procession, followed by “a number of poor objects with crape-covered apples in their bosoms”. In the Forest of Dean an exciseman was seized by the colliers, who imprisoned him for more than a month in the workings of a mine. Two young Bristolians, engaged by the excise authorities to survey the orchards in this neighbourhood, relinquished their duties after one day's experience. They had been permitted to return home only after solemnly swearing that they would never adventure again on a similar errand. The tax was abolished in 1766.

An ancient chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, but which in the reign of Elizabeth was converted into a grammar school, stood at this period in the cemetery of St. Mary Redcliff. Having become dilapidated, and being an obstruction to the south-western view of the church, it was taken down in March, 1763. No relic was preserved save the tombstone of a medieval chaplain, John Lavington, now in St. Mary's. The school was removed to the Lady Chapel in the church, where it remained for many years. The ancient Cross of Redcliff, standing in the churchyard, was demolished about the same time. The destructive mania provoked no comment. About the close of the year, however, Felix Farley's Journal stated that one of the churchwardens, styled “Joe” [Thomas], who had caused the removal of the Cross, had been carting away a quantity of earth from the churchyard to his brickfield, and was making bricks of the material. This story attracted attention, and “Joe” was the object of some violent attacks both in prose and verse. One satire (January, 1764), describing the apparition of Conscience to the culprit, was absurdly attributed by Mr. Tyson to Chatterton, then eleven years old, and complaisant editors have since inserted the verses in the poet's works. (The lines were doubtless written by the under-master of Colston's School, Thomas Phillips, a frequent contributor of rhymes to the Bristol Journal, who was eulogised by his friend and pupil, Chatterton, as one of the first of living poets.) A twelvemonth later the officers of the parish are recorded to have held their annual Easter feast in a “Banquetting Room lately erected at a very considerable expense”, when the health of “Saint Joe, the founder of the edifice”, was duly honoured.


The newspapers of the 9th April announced the starting of a “Flying Machine” which undertook the astounding feat of making the journey to London during the summer in “one day” - meaning twenty-four hours. The fare was 30s., or 3s. more than was charged by the two days' machine, which retained the favour of sober-minded travellers.

An advertisement in the local press of May shows that the White Hart inn, Lower Easton, “commonly called Barton Hundred”, was a favourite haunt of Bristolians bent on a holiday. The landlady announced that she prepared an ordinary every Sunday at half-past one o'clock. For upper class visitors “Barbacues, Turtles, and dinners of all kinds” were “dressed in a genteel manner”, while the best of tea and coffee were served in pleasant arbours in a spacious garden. Another advertisement shows that the large tennis-court attached to the inn was the scene of prize fights patronised by the upper classes. In July, 1763, “a public house known as Arno's Vale”, another popular resort for the discussion of “politics and ale”, according to one of Chatterton's poems, was advertised to be let. The derivation of the name is unknown. A publican named Arno occupied an inn in High Street in 1773. The Swan inn at Almondsbury was also much patronised by excursionists. The landlord, in May, 1773, announced that it had been greatly enlarged. There was an ordinary on Sundays; but turtles and dinners were dressed daily on the shortest notice, and a large bowling-green was open free every day except Friday.

One of the minor city gates, that of the Pithay, was ordered to be demolished in December, 1763.

The ducking stool for the punishment of scolds having gone out of fashion, a victim of female malice bethought herself about this time of another ancient piece of machinery - now equally obsolete - for castigating the evil-tongued. Eleanor Collins, a married woman, of St. Stephen's parish, commenced an action for slander in the Ecclesiastical Court of Bristol against a neighbour named Sarah Slack, wife of a butcher. The nature of the slander does not appear, but may be easily conjectured. After a solemn hearing before the chancellor of the diocese in the Consistory Court, a quaint old chamber adjoining the Cathedral, still to be seen, the defendant was convicted, and sentenced to undergo penance in her parish church. Mrs. Slack, however, was contumacious, and also refused to pay the prosecutrix's costs (£4 11s. 1d.). Having been vainly summoned three times


to submit, she was solemnly excommunicated by the bishop. This also proving ineffectual, a writ de excommunicato capiendo was issued by the Crown, setting forth the defendant's enormities, and “forasmuch as the Royal power ought not to be wanting to the Holy Church in its complaint”, the sheriffs were commanded “to attach the said Sarah by her body, according to the custom of England, until she shall have made satisfaction to the Holy Church”. The writ came in due course into the hands of the under-sheriff, the afterwards famous Alderman Bengough, who, being a Unitarian, was so tickled by the duties it imposed upon him that he left a note of the case amongst his papers, now in the Jefferies Collection. Unfortunately he failed to record the issue. Ecclesiastical suits for slander were not uncommon down to the close of the Georgian era, but as reporters did not penetrate into the Consistory Court, the only record of its transactions exists in the books of the registrar, and in the loose papers remaining in the audience chamber. The slander was invariably a slur on the chastity of the complainant. In one case an offender, during a drinking bout at the Blackamoor's Head, Redland, styled a companion a “poor cuckold dog”, whereupon a sharp attorney raised a suit on the part of the husband and his incriminated wife, and the culprit was mulcted in heavy costs. In another local case, that of a slanderous woman named Robinson, excommunicated in Bristol, the victim was by some legal trickery committed to Gloucester county gaol, and remained there three years and a half, only then obtaining her liberty on paying £11 12s. costs (Parl. Debates, xxi. 299). In 1808 one Mary Ann Dix, 18 years of age, of Redcliff parish, was cited to the Consistory Court for slandering an exciseman's wife, named Ruffy, who kept a house of ill-fame. In November, 1809, the defendant was adjudged guilty, and was enjoined in her absence to do penance and to pay the costs, £12 7s. 11d. Latter on she was excommunicated during divine service in Redcliff church for not conforming to the sentence, although she was ignorant of its purport, while her father, who had a large family, was unable to pay the costs, now £30. She was attached under a writ de excom. cap., and conveyed to Newgate, from which, in January, 1812, she petitioned the House of Commons, stating that she had been 26 months in prison, and would have starved but for the charity of the benevolent. The subject led to a lively debate, in the course of which it was stated that a man in the West of


England had been shortly before excommunicated and imprisoned for refusing to pay a church rate. A promise was made by the Government to deal with the Consistory Courts with a view to their reform, but nothing was effectually done until thirty years later. The fate of Mary Ann Dix is unknown.

The position of a common councillor named Joseph Love (sheriff, 1760) caused some embarrassment to his colleagues about this period. On the 24th March, 1764, the Chamber ordered that a present of 60 guineas be made to Mrs. Love, “towards her present subsistence”. Mr. Love continued to attend the Council until March, 1766. A few months later his son petitioned for help to maintain himself at the University of Oxford, when a vote of 20 guineas was accorded; a similar grant was also passed in each of the three following years. At length, in July, 1769, “formal complaint” was made that Love had quitted England four years previously; and a summons was issued requiring him to attend to show cause why he should not be removed from office. As he naturally made no response, his deposition was ordered at the next sitting. Mr. Love was not the only member under a financial cloud. In June, 1764, Joseph Daltera (sheriff, 1761) sent in his resignation, and, “being reduced through a series of misfortunes to very low circumstances”, the House granted him a life annuity of £40.

Felix Farley's Journal, of April 28th, 1764, records the death of “Dr. [George] Randolph, a physician of great eminence, well known... as the chief person who first brought the Bristol Hot Well into such public esteem by his judgment in directing the use of the waters, and his ingenious dissertation on the subject”. (Dr. Randolph's “Enquiry into the medicinal virtues of Bristol Water” was published in 1745.) The spring continued in great repute. The author of “The Beauties of England”, published in 1767, noted when in Bristol that the water was “not only drunk on the spot at the pump-room, but every morning cried in the streets, like milk”.

The urgency of port improvement increased with the development of trade after the Seven Years' War. A mere extension of the quays, the stop-gap invented by the non-progressive party, ignored the difficulties and losses arising from the tidal phenomena of the Avon. Vessels lying in the harbour, being left aground for some hours twice a day, were liable to be severely strained, especially when laden, and the possibility of an outbreak of fire whilst the crowded


shipping lay immovable was a constant danger. The commerce of the port was still much superior to that of any provincial rival, the net receipts of Customs in 1764 being £196,000, while those at Liverpool were only £70,000; but the rapid growth of the Lancashire town excited apprehension. After much private discussion, a numerously attended meeting of merchants was held in the Guildhall on the 25th July, 1764, when it was resolved that an efficient scheme for keeping vessels afloat would be highly beneficial, and that the sum of £30,000 should be raised by subscription, in £100 shares, for carrying out the design under the approval of the Corporation. Only one third of the proposed capital was, however, subscribed, and many wealthy men refused their co-operation. The promoters nevertheless applied to Smeaton, the celebrated engineer, to furnish a plan, which was produced in the following January. Mr. Smeaton proposed to convert the lower course of the Froom into a floating dock, to be connected with the Avon by a canal through Canons' Marsh. The cost of the works was estimated at £26,000, exclusive of compensation for the land required for the canal. Extraordinary as it now appears, the engineer's scheme took away the breath of the improvement party. Barrett, who was a witness of its effects, briefly notes in his history that the proposed outlay “was so great as to quash the enterprise”. In January, 1707, Mr. William Champion proposed a still bolder plan, by which lock gates would have been thrown across the Avon opposite Red Clift House, and both rivers converted into a floating harbour, capable of containing a thousand ships, at an estimated cost of £30,000. The anti-improvement party thereupon employed an engineer named Mylne to write down the scheme, and as the critic positively asserted that £60,000 would scarcely suffice to carry out the design, capitalists held aloof, and the whole matter went to sleep again.

The absence of an organ in the Mayor's Chapel having been complained of, the Common Council, in June, 1764, purchased of Mr. Edmund Broderip, for 300 guineas, the organ then standing in the Assembly Room, Prince's Street, and appointed him organist, at a salary of £25 a year.

The city was horrified on the 27th September by the murder of Mrs. Frances Ruscombe, a lady living in College Green, and of her servant, Mary Sweet. The crime was brought to light by a female relative who had been invited to dinner, and who, on entering the house, found the body


of the lady on the stairs, with the head mutilated, while that of the servant, with the head nearly cut off, was lying in the back parlour. The murders had been perpetrated only a short time, the bodies being still warm. The murderer, who had carried off a bag and purse containing about £90 in gold coin, was never detected, although Mr. Nugent, M.P., offered a reward of £600, supplemented by one of £100 by the Corporation, of 60 guineas by Mrs. Ruscombe's sisters, and of £10 more by her husband. Many persons were arrested, and amongst those vehemently suspected was the baker, Peaceable Robert Matthews (see p. 272); but no evidence could be discovered against any one. De Quincy, who learnt the details of the case during one of his visits to Bristol, refers to it in his well-known essay on “Murder as a Fine Art”. The house in which the deed was committed was afterwards demolished and rebuilt by Sir Jarrit Smith.

Owing to the demand for lodgings at the Hot Well, the houses known as Dowry Parade were erected about this time. The “third house on the New Parade, newly built, and let at £80 a year”, was advertised to be sold in September. “A Tour through Great Britain”, issued in 1761, states that “there are magnificent lodgings in the beautiful village of Clifton, on the top of the hill, for such as have carriages, and whose lungs can bear a keener air”; but the road down to the well is described as “far from commodious”. It was in fact a rocky precipice, afterwards converted into Granby Hill. The down, however, odoriferous and brilliant with “heath, eyebright, wild thyme, marjoram, maiden-hair, wild sage, geraniums, &c.”, and pasturing “cows, horses, sheep and asses”, afforded a delightful place of recreation.

When a well-connected clergyman thought himself unjustly treated if his friends did not provide him with at least two livings, pluralities became pardonable in the lower offices of the church. From a marriage notice in the Bristol papers of October 13th, 1764, it appears that one Mr. Ganthony, the father of the bride, was a lay-vicar of the Cathedral, parish clerk of St. Augustine's, and parish clerk of St. John's. The clerkship of St. Augustine's was very profitable, owing to the fees received from wealthy parishioners at marriages and burials. One of the contemporary lay-vicars improved his income by keeping a public-house; but the chapter was offended at the innovation, and the man was dismissed. Mr. Ganthony's lucrative arrangement passed unrebuked by a body of pluralists. Indeed in June,


1765, when a place of lay-vicar became vacant, the chapter presented it to the organist of the Cathedral.

St. Philip's Church underwent a partial reconstruction during the closing months of 1764. The ancient roof of the nave was preserved, but the arches supporting it were removed, and the number of piers diminished one half, thus increasing the accommodation at the sacrifice of architectural harmony. The walls were also rebuilt, and the old window tracery disappeared. The expense incurred amounted to about £1,600. Of this amount, £1,030 were raised by a church rate, to which the in-parish contributed £345, and the out-parish £686.

The laws prohibiting the entry into England of Irish food products were suspended in October, 1764, owing to domestic scarcity. They had, to that date, been rigorously executed, a quantity of Irish butter having been confiscated in 1763. The relaxation caused a sensible increase in the local trade with Ireland.

At a period when pearly all the wealthy families in the city inhabited Queen Square and the neighbourhood of St. James's Barton, the inconveniences attending a visit to the theatre at Jacob's Wells were naturally a subject of much complaint. Early in 1764 a movement was started for the erection of a theatre worthy of the city; and in a short time a body of proprietors was formed, consisting of 60 gentlemen, contributing £60 each. Amongst the promoters were Alexander Edgar, John Jones, John Vaughan, jun., Roger Watts (see p. 65), Michael Miller, Thomas Symons, John Cave, Jas. Laroche, jun., Henry Cruger, Wm. Sedgley, Henry Bright, Ezekial Nash, George Weare, George Daubeny, John Lambert (Chatterton's master), Thomas Eagles, Jeremy Baker, Paul Farr, and Thomas Harris. Strangely enough, three prominent Quakers, Joseph Harford, and William and Richard Champion, figure in the list of shareholders. In addition to the share capital, the sum of £1,400 was subscribed by various admirers of the drama. Some old property in King Street, having gardens in the rear, together with a piece of ground belonging to the Coopers' Company, was purchased; a design by James Patey, a local architect, was adopted; and the foundation stone of the theatre was laid on the 30th November, 1764. (The houses in King Street were retained, the upper storeys being intended to serve as a dwelling for the manager.) The new place of amusement was finished in the spring of 1766, at a cost of about £6,000, when an unforeseen difficulty presented itself.


The members of the Society of Friends, strongly disapproving of the stage, availed themselves of an Act passed in 1737, by which any person acting in a dramatic piece, in an unlicensed theatre, was liable to be convicted as a rogue and vagabond; and it was intimated that the provisions of the statute would be rigorously enforced. Mr. Champion, the potter, was one of the most ardent of the Quaker opposition, his chief objection to a theatre being the facility for amusement which it offered to the working classes. Another of the dissidents - or perhaps Mr. Champion himself - produced a poem entitled “Bristol Theatre”, printed by the Quakeress, Sarah Farley, in which it was affirmed that the stage tempted men to break all laws, human and divine, and that the results of establishing a theatre would be to entice Bristolians into the paths of misery and vice; truth, trade, and industry would decay together; honest men would turn highwaymen; and the gaol would need enlargement to accommodate the horde of criminals and debtors who would clamour for food at its portal! To avoid the penalties of the law, the manager resorted to a shift that had been invented by Foote in London; and the theatre was opened on the 30th May, 1766, with what was styled “A Concert of Musick and a Specimen of Rhetorick”, - the concert being simply the ordinary performances of the orchestra, and the rhetoric (professedly offered “gratis”), the comedy of “The Conscious Lovers” and the farce of “The Miller of Mansfield”. The net receipts (£63) were presented to the Infirmary. An opening address was written by Garrick, who declared the theatre to be, for its dimensions, the most complete in Europe. (Its semicircular auditorium was the first constructed in England.) The proprietors then took measures to obtain letters patent legalising the theatre, which the Crown was unable to grant without the consent of Parliament. Obstinate opposition was offered in the House of Commons to this and similar measures for other towns, and the necessary Act was not passed until 1778. Immediately afterwards the royal license was granted to George Daubeny, the nominee of the proprietors, who paid £275 for the letters patent. From its opening to the close of the century, the theatre was one of the most prosperous in the provinces. A Londoner, writing in 1792, remarked that “it was no uncommon thing to see 100 carriages at the doors” of the house. Every great actor of the time, Garrick excepted, appeared upon its boards; and some distinguished players were indebted to


it for their early training. The ordinary charges were:- boxes, 3s, 6d.; pit, 2s.; gallery, 1s. 6d. The performances commenced at half-past six; and in some of the early play bills ladies and gentlemen were requested “to send their servants at 5 o'clock to keep places”. Although the house was open only about three months during the summer, the rent was £300 per annum. The original proprietors each received a silver medal, entitling the holder and his assigns to admission to the house in perpetuity. These tokens were frequently sold, and in the prosperous days of the theatre were worth £30 each. On one occasion a medal was disposed of by raffle, but the lessee of the house, alleging that the ticket was a counterfeit, refused the winner admission. The latter - a High Street silk mercer named David - thereupon applied for advice to Mr. Henry Davis, a sharp attorney (brother to Mr. R. Hart Davis, afterwards M.P.). The lawyer obtained the medal from his client, and three years later he sent him in a bill of 16 guineas, for “many attendances at the theatre to assert your right” (R. Smith's MSS.).

In the autobiography of Bishop Newton is an account of an incident which must have occurred between September, 1764, when Henry Swymmer became mayor, and the fall of the Grenville Ministry in July, 1765. The bishop being in London, the mayor made a journey to town to complain to him of the steps that were being taken “for opening a Mass House at the Hot Wells under the protection of the Duke of Norfolk”. The alarmed bishop, with the approval of the Primate, forthwith applied to Mr. Grenville, who promised to prevent a violation of the law, but advised a previous resort to persuasion. Bishop Newton accordingly convened a meeting of civic officials at the mayor's house in Bristol, at which the resident Romanist priest (Father Scudamore) and the proprietor of the house intended for a chapel were also present. The two latter were admonished that their action was illegal, that their conduct was the more provoking inasmuch as their building stood upon Church land, being leased under the dean and chapter, and that they already had been allowed “a private Mass House in Bristol, where this same priest had officiated many years”. The opening of a public chapel in so frequented a place was declared to be too contemptuous a defiance of the law to be permitted by the Government, who, if they persisted, would prosecute them with the utmost rigour. The admonition had the desired effect, the culprits begging the bishop's pardon, and promising that their design should be


for ever abandoned. Dr. Newton concludes by observing that they were as good as their word. “Only a bastard kind of popery, Methodism, has troubled Bristol since that time”.

Unusual enterprise is visible at this period in the local coaching trade. In the summer of 1764 a coach to Exeter was started, which, setting out early in the morning from the George inn at Temple Gate, succeeded in accomplishing a journey of under 77 miles in the afternoon of the following day. The fare was a guinea. On the 30th March, 1766, it was announced that another public vehicle would reach Exeter “in one day”, starting at 4 a.m., “the first attempt of the kind ever set on foot in this city”. The adventure was unprofitable, for the two-days coach alone held the road in subsequent years. In April, 1766, a summer coach to Birmingham made its first appearance. It set off from the Lamb inn, Broadmead, twice a week, at 4 in the morning, and reached its destination at noon on the following day. This enterprise stirred up the owners of the old Gloucester coach, who gave notice that its “flying” journeys over 34 miles of road would be performed in the surprisingly short period of ten hours!

Although a stately house had been built for the reception of the City Library, the old theological works given by Archbishop Mathew offered no attraction to the inhabitants, and successive librarians turned the building to their own advantage. By some the house was let to private persons. Mr. Benjamin Donn, the librarian in 1766, resolved to establish a mathematical school in the premises (Bristol Journal, April 20th). In the following year the library was increased by a bequest of several hundred volumes by Mr. John Heylyn, of College Green, a collateral descendant of Dr. Peter Heylyn; but the books remained unpacked for some years, and Mr. Donn's office continued a sinecure. A contemporary note states that not more than two or three persons visited the library in a twelvemonth, and these were generally strangers. In 1769 Mr. Donn published a beautifully-executed map of the environs of the city, for which the Council complimented him with a gift of 20 guineas.

During a visit to Bath, in October, 1766, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, brothers of George III., honoured Lord Botetourt by spending a few days at Stoke House, Stapleton. On the 14th they attended a civic ball at the Assembly Room, Prince's Street, which was opened by the Duke of York and Miss Baugh, daughter of the mayor. In the


following year the Duke of York resided some time at Clifton for the purpose of drinking the Hot Well water. The prince died in 1767.

During the year 1765, Mr. William Champion, whose scheme for a floating harbour has been recorded, constructed a large dock for repairing ships on the bank of the Avon, near Rownham. The adventure proved unfortunate, and the place, commonly known as the Great Dock, was purchased by the Merchants' Society in 1770 for £1,420. The premises, with “the little dock” adjoining, were advertised to be let in May, 1772. Subsequently, a plan for deepening the large dock, to enable it to accommodate large vessels, was approved and carried out by the Society, and Parliamentary powers were obtained in 1776 to enlarge the dock and erect warehouses. The additional outlay is stated in the Bush MSS. to have been £ 1,500. A local pamphlet published in 1790 stated that “the dock is capable of containing 36 of the largest ships belonging to the port and it has never yet been completely filled”.

The progress of the new Bristol Bridge forced the Corporation to consider the crying necessity of further improvements for facilitating traffic in the narrow and crowded thoroughfares of the city. At a meeting of the Council in December a committee was appointed to prepare a scheme to be laid before Parliament, and its recommendations were adopted at another meeting in February, 1766. The suggestions, the comprehensiveness of which astounded conservative-minded citizens, included the removal of Lawford's Gate, the demolition of ten adjoining houses in order to widen the road; the widening of the narrow lanes connecting Christmas Street with Broadmead; the destruction of ten dwellings so as to broaden Blind Steps, between Nicholas and Baldwin Streets; the removal of Small Street Gate and adjoining buildings; the taking down of St. Leonard's Church and vicarage, which blocked the western end of Corn Street; and the clearing away of a number of hovels around Newgate gaol, which, owing to the increased number of prisoners and the want of ventilation, was stated to be frequently scourged by disease. Minor improvements were also proposed in other thoroughfares, and the widening of the road to the Hot Well formed another detail of the plan. But its crowning feature remains to be mentioned. In order to open a commodious approach to the Bridge from the eastern and northern parts of the city, the committee recommended the destruction of the whole of the Shambles and Bull Lane, and the erection


on their site (under the direction of the Bridge trustees) of a handsome street (Bridge Street), the formation of another street (Dolphin Street) from the east end of the new thoroughfare to Wine Street, involving the removal of St, Peter's Cross and Pump, and of a quantity of old property in Dolphin Lane and Peter Street; and finally the making (by the Corporation) of a new street, 40 feet wide (Union Street), from Wine Street to Broadmead, which would necessitate the sweeping away of numerous buildings standing on the proposed roadway. The committee added that another great improvement had been brought before them - a new street from Corn Street to the Drawbridge - which they admitted would be “very ornamental and of great utility”; but 64 houses and cellars then stood on the ground, and owing to the great outlay involved, they advised the Chamber to decline this responsibility. To encourage private persons to undertake the work, however, powers for its execution were included in the Bill. A scheme for a new street from Stoke's Croft to an intended square (Cumberland Street and Brunswick Square) was dealt with in a similar manner. It was further determined to insert clauses in the Bill to remedy defects in previous Acts; to require the streets to be lighted throughout the year; to remove projecting signs; to compel the erection of water-spouts; to improve the system of scavenging, paving, etc. The Bill embodied all the above suggestions, with the exception of that authorising the removal of St. Leonard's Church, some hitch having occurred with the ecclesiastical authorities. A few weeks later (when the difficulty was overcome by the incumbent being promised the incumbency of St. John's), the Corporation prayed for the insertion of the omitted item, stating that the bishop had sanctioned the union of the parish with that of St. Nicholas. The request was acceded to, and the Bill received the Royal Assent in May.

Considering the responsibilities thus assumed, one might suppose that the Council would have had neither leisure nor relish for additional obligations. Nevertheless, having received a memorial from certain clothiers and traders of Wiltshire, praying that it would undertake to extend the inland navigation of the port of Bristol, the Chamber bravely resolved to apply to Parliament for powers to make the Avon navigable to Chippenham, under the direction of the mayor and aldermen. The scheme, however, came to a speedy end. The Council minutes of February 5th, 1766, contain the following entry: “It appearing to the House


that several indecent and ungenteel resolutions have been lately agreed upon at a meeting held at Melksham, highly reflecting on the undertaking... it is resolved that the [previous] order be discharged”.

The Hon. Daines Harrington having resigned the recordership, the office was conferred, in February, 1766, upon John Dunning, who had just gained lasting fame for his arguments against the legality of general warrants in the case of John Wilkes. Dunning would have attained the office of Lord Chancellor in 1782, but for the obstinate resistance of George III. As a consolation, he was created a peer under the title of Baron Ashburton, whereupon the Common Council requested him to sit for his picture, “to be placed in the Council Chamber, as a testimony of the very great respect which this Corporation bears to his lordship”. The picture, one of the treasures of the Council House, was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who received 100 guineas for it. The portrait is a triumph of art, for the great lawyer was remarkably ugly. Lord Thurlow once stated that his countenance closely resembled the knave of spades.

As has been already recorded, the mayors of Bristol, by ancient custom, were severally entitled to nominate one person to the freedom of the city without payment of a fine. The privilege for some reason became unpopular, and the Chamber abolished it in February, 1766, but ordered that the sum of 40 guineas should be paid to each future mayor, and to each past mayor who had failed to nominate, in compensation for the abrogated right. Several ex-mayors claimed the prescribed equivalent.

The policy of the Government in 1766 in imposing taxation on the American colonists, and the menacing protests offered by the latter against this stretch of power, excited great anxiety in the local mercantile community. The Society of Merchants and many shipowners and commercial firms petitioned the House of Commons in 1766, urging the great benefit derived from the trade with the colonies, and the serious consequences likely to flow from the discontent of the settlements. The Corporation did not co-operate in this movement. It may have been embarrassed by the compliment it had paid to the Premier, Mr. Grenville, shortly before the production of his Stamp scheme, in presenting him with the freedom of the city for what was termed his “steady attention to the promotion and security of commerce”. This step was doubtless taken at the instance of Mr. Nugent, M.P., who had remained in office


on the fall of the Newcastle Ministry, and so strongly supported Grenville in his American policy that he would have been burnt in effigy at Richmond, Virginia, in July, 1765, if the authorities had not interfered. Nugent was dismissed from his place when Lord Rockingham became Premier. The repeal of the Stamp Act, which followed, gratified the mercantile interest, and the Corporation ordered the bells to be rung when the change of policy was accomplished. At a meeting of the Society of Merchants in September, a letter was ordered to be sent by the master (William Reeve) to Lord Rockingham, expressing the company's grateful and unanimous sense of his lordship's eminent services, especially in securing the abrogation of an Act “injudicious and detrimental to the colonies as well as to the trade and manufactures of the mother country”. The letter is said to have been drafted by Richard Champion, the china maker, though he did not become a member of the company until 1767, when he paid a fine for admission of £150.

Evidence as to the character of the vessels in which the West Indian trade was carried on is furnished by petitions presented to Parliament in 1766 by the merchants of Bristol and Liverpool. These documents expressed apprehension that the commerce with the islands would be “much injured, if not entirely ruined”, by an Act of the previous year, prohibiting the import and export of rum in vessels of less than 100 tons burden, and praying that the restriction should be applied only to ships of under 70 tons. No action followed, and the transatlantic voyages of many Lilliputian barques came to an end.

The increasing demand for dwelling houses within the city led to the offer for sale, in March, 1766, of the Bowling Green House in St. James's Barton, and the billiard room and bowling green attached to it. The green, a popular place of recreation, had a frontage of 184 feet in Montagu Street. A few weeks later John Berkeley, “of the Coffee Pot in St. James's Barton”, announced that he had put the bowling green in excellent order. This is the latest mention of the green, which fell soon afterwards into the hands of some speculative builder, who erected the sordid dwellings now covering the site.

Disputes in reference to wages were never recorded by the timid newsmongers of the time, but occasional information is obtained from advertisements. Thus, in the Bristol Journal of the 29th March, we read:- “The master


of the Company of Carpenters having received a paper signed by a number of journeymen, desiring their wages to be advanced to 12s. a week... the said Company has resolved that every master should pay them according to what they earned or deserved, and no more”. (The orders of the county magistrates, applying to Clifton and other suburbs, and fixing carpenters' wages at 1s. 2d. per day, were still in force.)

One of the schemes embraced in the great city improvement Act of 1766 was started before that measure became law. Felix Farley's Journal of April 19th stated that “the plan for building a handsome street from just below the Full Moon was put in execution Wednesday last by beginning the first house. The street is to run back through the gardens, and at the further end of it will be built a most elegant square”. The street received the name of Cumberland in honour of one of the king's brothers, and the thoroughfare connecting it with Milk Street was for a similar reason dignified with the name of York. The first house in Brunswick Square, another loyal appellation, was begun in 1769, but the supply of new dwellings in the district already exceeded the demand. The eastern row of the square was deferred for nearly twenty years, while half the western and the whole of the northern rows were never built at all. At an early date, indeed, the promoters demised a large plot of land to a body of trustees acting for the congregation of Lewin's Mead Chapel, who converted it into a cemetery. The first interment there took place in October, 1768. The rural character of the locality may be imagined from the terms of an advertisement in the Bristol Journal of February 16th, 1772. A house, “adjoining Brunswick Square”, was offered to be let, “with a prospect of two miles from the ground floor”.

A silk manufactory existed in Bristol at this time. Felix Farley's Journal of the 24th May, 1766, records that, a few days before, “the workmen employed in the silk manufactory in this city and its environs assembled at the Bull tavern in High Street, where they illuminated the windows and gave other public testimonies of joy for the stop put to the importation of foreign silk”. Another extinct industry is incidentally mentioned by the Journal in reporting the death, through drowning, of a man near Temple Backs, whilst placing his “fishing pots” in the Avon. Before the construction of the floating harbour immense quantities of young eels, called elvers, were yearly caught in the river.


About this period, Miss Hannah More, when in her twenty-third year, received an offer of marriage from Mr. William Turner, of Belmont, near Wraxall, a gentleman of large fortune, but nearly twenty years her senior. Having accepted the proposal, Miss More renounced her share in the Park Street school, and made preparations to take her expected position in fashionable society. Mr. Turner, however, was a man of peculiar disposition, and although he twice or thrice fixed a day for the marriage, he on each occasion postponed the event in a manner tending to cast ridicule upon the young lady. After the curious courtship had extended over six years. Miss More's sisters refused to allow her to be further trifled with, and the engagement was broken off, to the regret of the vacillating lover, who proposed to redeem his conduct by settling a large annuity on his lost bride to enable her to live in independence. Miss More was at length induced to accept a settlement of £200 a year for life, and turned her attention to literature. Her first work, “The Search after Happiness: a pastoral drama”, published in 1773, achieved a great success, and she was speedily admitted into the first literary society of the day, having the good fortune to be admired and flattered by its autocrat, Dr. Johnson. Miss More's friendship with Mrs. Garrick, with whom she spent several months yearly, led to the production of her tragedy of “Percy”, in 1778, for which Garrick wrote the prologue and epilogue, and which had a long and prosperous “run”. After writing another tragedy, she ceased to consider the stage as “becoming the countenance of a Christian”, and her numerous subsequent works were of a religious character. Of one of them, “The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain”, upwards of a million copies are said to have been printed, and by her entire writings Miss More was estimated to have realised over £30,000. When at the height of her reputation, she had a second amatory flirtation with the Rev. Dr. Langhome, rector of Blagdon, then a poet of some repute, but whose intemperate habits soon ended the affair. Her old lover, who remained her admirer through life, eventually bequeathed her a legacy of £1,000.

Although the improvement Act of this year marked a growing appreciation of the needs of the city, the civic authorities had occasional relapses into superannuated ideas. Bridewell Bridge, a wooden structure connecting St. James's parish with the quays, having been reported ruinous, it was resolved in May to replace it by “a substantial stone


bridge”, the width of which was fixed at 8 feet 6 inches! The edifice cost £55.

At a meeting of the Council on the 7th June, Sir William Draper, K.B., who, amongst other distinguished services, had commanded the English forces at the capture of Manilla in 1763, was presented with the freedom of the city. Sir William, whose father had been an officer in the Bristol Custom-house, occupied a large mansion at Clifton, and decorated the ground in front of it with a cenotaph to the memory of his companions in arms of the 79th regiment, and with a pyramidical column in honour of Lord Chatham, of whom he was a devoted admirer. The latter work was to have borne a pompous adulatory inscription, which at Chatham's entreaties was omitted. (It was however engraved on the monument after its recent removal to Clifton Down.) Another of Draper's idols was the Duke of Grafton, whom he was venturesome enough to defend against the attacks of “Junius”. The results were disastrous, Draper being so trampled in literary mud and held up to public ridicule that he fled to America to conceal his mortification. Sir William eventually died at Bath on the 8th January, 1787.

The meeting of the civic body on June 7th initiated a remarkable, not to say scandalous, transaction in reference to two of the endowed schools entrusted to the Corporation by philanthropic founders. The Grammar School was then settled in the old buildings of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, near the bottom of Christmas Steps, expressly purchased for that purpose by the executors of Robert Thorne. A good playground was attached to the premises, on which several hundred pounds had been laid out in improvements in 1759-60, when the place, according to the ideas of the age, was deemed in every way suitable for the purposes of a day-school. In 1764, however, on the preferment of the Rev. Samuel Seyer to the rectory of St. Michael, the head-mastership was conferred on the Rev. Charles Lee, who soon afterwards won the affections of the only daughter of Alderman Dampier, one of the leaders of the Council; and this apparently insignificant event was destined to have unforeseen results. The original parent of the design about to be described cannot now be identified. Mr. Lee may have pined for a more imposing abode, with more agreeable surroundings. Miss Dampier or her worshipful parent may have thought dingy premises in a vulgar street an unsuitable residence for a young lady brought up in the


aristocratic air of College Green. In any case, Alderman Dampier became the prime mover in a scheme designed for the benefit of his future son in law. The affair was put in motion with great astuteness. At the meeting already referred to, some one proposed the appointment of a committee to consider what additions should be made to the Grammar School “for the better accommodation”, not of the master, but “of the scholars”. The motion was adopted, and Mr. Dampier and a few other gentlemen were nominated to make the inquiry. A month later the committee reported, as the result of their deliberations, that “it would be a great public benefit if the masters and scholars belonging to the Grammar School were removed to the building called Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, and the master and boys belonging to that hospital removed to the Grammar School”. It is scarcely possible that disinterested members of the Chamber can have really approved of this proposal. The Corporation, in the sixteenth century, had given the buildings of St. Mark's Hospital to be “for ever” used by the boys of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital. The stately premises near College Green had been erected by subscription in 1703, on the suggestion of Colston, who had given £500 for the purpose, expressly for the accommodation of the boys of the hospital; and the removal of the boarding-school to a less healthy locality in order to convert its property into a day-school for boys of a wealthier class was an obvious and flagrant breach of trust. It was nevertheless resolved “that the committee be empowered to do therein as they shall think proper”. On the 6th September they accordingly presented another report. The Grammar School premises, they alleged, were not spacious enough to accommodate all the day scholars whose parents were desirous of a home education for their boys, while they were “fit for all the purposes” of the boarding-school. The College Green buildings, on the other hand, would “ accommodate more than twice the number of young gentlemen” then in the Grammar School. Unfortunately an Act of Parliament, passed in the reign of Elizabeth, had confirmed the Corporation's donation of St. Mark's to Carr's school “for ever”, and various subsequent bequests had been specifically made to the hospital near College Green. But the committee thought it was indifferent in what part of the town the charitable purposes of the school were “ effectuated” providing the endowments were properly applied, and they therefore recommended that the sanction of Parliament should be obtained for carrying out the proposed


exchange. The Chamber not only confirmed this report, but coolly ordered “that the said exchange do take place immediately”. On the 3rd November it was resolved that alterations should be made “in the building lately called Queen Elizabeth's Hospital” to fit it for the master and boys of the Grammar School, Messrs. Dampier and Laroche being charged with the direction of the work. In May, 1767, the chamberlain's accounts contain this item: “Paid for bricks used at the late hospital called Queen Elizabeth's, now the Grammar School, £28 14s.” A few weeks later there is a charge of £51 6s. 6d. for “altering the late Grammar School for the reception of the city blue boys, removed there”. Other similar disbursements occurred about the same time, the aggregate outlay exceeding £725. The respective schools having exchanged places in the spring of 1767, and the mansion in St. Mark's having been duly swept and garnished, on the 7th January, 1768, the head-master's happiness was crowned by his marriage with Miss Dampier. About a twelvemonth later, the Council resolved to apply to Parliament for power to alter the times of holding the great fairs, and the opportunity was seized to carry out the suggestion of the schools' committee. The framers of the Bill had the effrontery to make it allege that an exchange of schools would be of reciprocal advantage to the two institutions, but that this could not be done without the authority of Parliament; and the measure went on to enact that the Corporation, “from and after” the passing of the Act, should be empowered to remove the respective schools, and to vest the building at St. Bartholomew's in the governors of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, and that at St. Mark's in the governors of the Grammar School. The Act having passed, the Council played the final scene of a solemn farce on the 6th May, 1769 - two years after the revolution had taken place - by ordering that the master and scholars of the Grammar School “do immediately remove” to College Green, and that the master and scholars of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital “do immediately” betake themselves to Christmas Street! A few words will suffice to prove the falseness of the assertion that the exchange of schools would prove beneficial to the citizens. Lee held his office for forty-seven years. Being permitted to take boarders, who paid him well, he discouraged the attendance of Bristol boys, whose fees were low, and he eventually succeeded in getting rid of them altogether. The average number of city pupils under former masters was about a hundred.


For some years before his death, Lee had only one Bristol boy under his tuition - accepted, it was supposed, to ward against legal action as to the shameful misappropriation of Thorne's endowment.

At a meeting of the Bristol Bridge trustees, on the 7th July, 1766, it was resolved that St. Peter's Cross and Pump should be removed “with all expedition”, and that a new pump should be erected in Peter Street, having “a feather from the present well”. The intended removal of the Cross, which had been renovated in the reign of Charles I., came to the ears of Mr. Henry Hoare, who, thinking it a fitting companion for its old neighbour, the High Cross, already in his park at Stourhead, proffered to take it down provided the trustees would make him a present of the stones. The trustees accepted this proposal with alacrity, giving Mr. Hoare permission to at once remove the structure. A pump was subsequently placed in the ground floor of a house at the corner of Peter and Dolphin Streets. The gateway at Newgate was partially demolished about the same time, the gate itself, as well as two interesting medieval statues on each side of it, being removed. The figures were secured by Mr. Reeve, who placed them on the inner side of the entrance to “Black Castle”.

The literary and archaeological fribble, Horace Walpole, condescended to cast a glance upon Bristol in October, 1766, during a sojourn at Batn. In a letter to a friend, shortly after leaving the latter town, he wrote: “My excursions were very few... the city is so guarded with mountains. I did go to Bristol, the dirtiest great shop I ever saw, with so foul a river that, had I seen the least appearance of cleanliness, I should have concluded they washed all their linen in it, as they do at Paris. Going into the town, I was struck with a large Gothic building, coal black, and striped with white [Black Castle]. I took it for the devil's cathedral...! found it was an uniform castle, lately built, and serving for stables and offices to a smart false Gothic house on the other side of the road. The real cathedral is very neat... There is a new church besides, of St. Nicholas, neat and truly Gothic”. (!)

The poor were suffering under almost unprecedented distress at this period, owing to the dearness of bread, caused by a bad harvest. In ordinary years England produced more corn than could be consumed at home, but an embargo was now placed on exportations. Vigorous steps were taken by the Council for the relief of poor Bristolians.


Bounties were not only offered on imported cargoes of corn, but all the bakers of the city and suburbs were subsidised. The chamberlain records:- “Paid sundry bakers in and about the city 2s. per sack on 2368 sacks of flour baked from the 20th October to the 8th November, in consideration of their making the bread larger the the (sic) price of corn would admit of at that time, £235 16s.” This allowance being deemed insufficient, it was raised to 5s. per sack, and £408 10s. were disbursed during the following fortnight. As the money had to be borrowed, the Corporation abandoned a system which would have rapidly exhausted its resources; but bounties on imports continued to be paid. The country labourers attempted to prevent the removal of corn, and violent rioting occurred in Gloucestershire and Wilts, for which seven men were executed. The Chamber had to provide “for 22 pensioners going to newnam [Newnham] to protect the corn and flour destined for Bristol”. Altogether the Council expended over £800 on account of the dearth. Owing to the lack of grist mills, the Corporation proposed to build two or three wind-mills, and Brandon Hill, where it had been contemplated to erect an astronomical observatory, was selected for their site; but the design was soon after abandoned.

The Chamber, moreover, had sympathy to spare for a distant island, though it may be suspected that in this case the West India interest benevolently drew out of the civic pocket what should have come out of its own. It was resolved in October that 100 guineas be contributed “towards relieving the unhappy sufferers by a dreadful fire which lately happened at Bridgetown, Barbadoes”.

On the fall of the Rockingham Ministry, Mr. Nugent (who had married the Dowager Countess of Berkeley, and joined the ranks of the “King's friends”) was appointed First Lord of Trade, and created an Irish peer under the title of Viscount Clare. His seat was vacated by his acceptance of office, but he was re-elected in December, without opposition. The usual copious feasting followed. Felix Farley's Journal of December 20th grumbles:- “We are credibly informed that in Trinity Ward, out of the four houses opened for general entertainment, three of them were kept by people not free of this city, notwithstanding there were so many burgesses who ought to have had the preference”. Assuming that the other wards were treated with similar liberality, there must have been forty-eight inns opened “for general entertainment”. Lord Clare gained


much applause in courtly circles soon after this date by some verses he addressed to the Queen, accompanied by a present of Irish poplin.

On the 28th January, 1767, a man calling himself Hickson, and living at Frenchay in the style of a country gentleman, was arrested near Lawford's Gate, on suspicion of having committed several capital offences. The man's story, both before and after his apprehension, would have served the author of “Jack Sheppard” for the foundation of a romance. He was the son of a Worcestershire farmer named Higgins, and had led, with his brothers, a vicious life from boyhood. In 1764 he was convicted of a robbery at Worcester, and, being sentenced to transportation, was shipped at Bristol for America. Within a month of his being sold there into temporary slavery, he broke into a merchant's office at Boston, and stole sufficient money to enable him to secure a berth in a ship bound for England, which he reached within three months of his departure. He then resumed his former career of crime in Worcestershire; but after one of his brothers had been hanged there in 1763, for returning from transportation, he removed into Gloucestershire, and finally took a mansion at Frenchay, set up a pack of dogs and a stable of remarkably fine hunting horses, and lived in what the Bristol Journal termed “a splendid manner”. Suspicions having arisen that his hunters were really kept for the perpetration of highway robberies, he was carried before Sir Abraham Elton, committed for trial, and removed to Gloucester. But at the April assizes no evidence as to robberies could be obtained against him, and as the charge of returning from transportation could be tried only at Worcester, the judge liberated him upon two sureties of £60 each. Higgins then retired to Carmarthenshire, where he committed two daring burglaries before again falling into the hands of justice. In July he was conveyed in irons to Worcester, where his previous conviction was made clear; but the Crown neglected to prove his shipment at Bristol, and the judge ordered his acquittal. However, at the following assizes at Carmarthen he was sentenced to death for his latest crimes. Executions generally took place about a week after conviction; but powerful influences were exercised to rescue the “gentleman” rogue, an “Earl of” being referred to in the newspapers as especially active in his behalf. The execution, repeatedly postponed, took place in November - a respite received a few days before having turned out to be


a forgery. Higgins's exploits, as magnified by tradition, are recorded in Mr. Leech's “Brief Romances from Bristol History”; but the cleverly-told story of the highwayman's presence at a Hot Well ball, and of his subsequent robbery of a Bristol banker on the road to London, is the product of a lively imagination.

The prosperity of the slave trade, the ferocity of the men engaged in it, and the loss of life it entailed are graphically indicated in the following extracts from a letter from Old Calabar, dated August 12th, 1767, addressed by a ship captain to his employers at Liverpool:- “There are now seven vessels in the river, each of which expects to purchase 600 slaves, and I imagine there was seldom ever known a greater scarcity of slaves than at present. The natives are at variance with each other, and in my opinion it will never be ended before the destruction of all the people at Old Town, who have taken the lives of many a fine fellow. [It will be seen hereafter that an iniquitous bombardment of the town actually took place.] The river of late has been very fatal. There have been three captains belonging to Bristol died within these few months, besides a number of officers and sailors”. The ships lay an enormous time on the pestiferous coast, for the writer adds:- “I do not expect that our stay here will exceed eight months”. In a subsequent report of a committee of the House of Commons it is incidentally asserted that about 1766-7 a Bristol slaving ship was two years upon her voyage to the West Indies, having had to lie off the African coast until slaves were brought down from the interior.

The harvest of 1767 was again deficient, and the Corporation renewed its efforts to mitigate the sufferings of the poor. In September £269 were paid to Messrs. Lloyd, Elton, and Co., bankers, “the balance of an account for wheat and flower”, sold to the bakers below prime cost. In November, at the instance of Lord Clare, who made a handsome donation, a cargo of 6,000 bushels of wheat was purchased and dealt with in the same manner, the Corporation contributing £140. The distress continuing, the Council, in July, 1768, adopted another policy, advancing £1,000, free of interest, to the board of guardians. The money, which had to be borrowed, was not repaid by the guardians until 1779.

The increase of pauperism caused by the dearth induced the poor law authorities to revive the odious law requiring persons receiving relief to wear a badge of their misfortune.


An order of the guardians, dated September 7th, required every pauper to “wear on the right shoulder, in an open and visible manner, on the uppermost garment, a Badge, with the initial letters of the name” of their parish. The churchwardens were liable to a penalty if they gave relief to unbadged persons. The unpopular order was rescinded in November, 1773.

Clifton Church being no longer capable of accommodating the residents and visitors, the erection of a south aisle was begun in the autumn of 1767. Although the addition cost only £419, the church was not reopened until October, 1768. Fifteen persons, having subscribed 26 guineas each, were severally allotted pews in perpetuity in the new aisle. Sir William Draper and members of the Goldney, Elton, and Hobhouse families were amongst those contributors.

In consequence of frequent prosecutions of barbers for shaving on Sundays, “the master and company of barbers and peruke makers” gave notice in 1767 that they would close their shops on that day, and warned recalcitrant journeymen that the parish constables would take note if they failed to attend divine service.

At a meeting of the Council in December, 1767, John Berrow, sheriff in 1768, and son of a mayor of the same name, resigned his seat in the Chamber. “Being reduced to very low circumstances by a series of misfortunes”, he was granted a pension of £40 per annum.

The existence of a hitherto unknown china manufactory in Bristol in 1760 has been recorded under that year. Nothing is known of the history of the place after 1761, and no specimens of its productions are known to exist. But a porcelain bowl, dated January 9th, 1762, was discovered by Mr. Owen, F.S.A., at Devizes, the owner of which stated that it was sent to one of his ancestors by a relative connected with a Bristol pottery; from which it may be inferred that a factory was in operation at that date. In February, 1766, Richard Champion, writing to the Earl of Hyndford, a connection by marriage, who had sent him some porcelain clay from Carolina, stated that he had “had it tried at a manufactory set up here some time ago on the principle of the Chinese porcelain, but not being successful is given up”. The works appear to have been in Castle Green, and as Champion, soon after he commenced china-making, removed his factory to that place, he may have availed himself of the abandoned plant. Champion, who was then a merchant engaged in the American trade, started the new enterprise


in or about February, 1768. His capital being chiefly engaged in commerce, he was joined by Mr. Edward Brice, a sugar refiner, who advanced £1,000; by Mr. Joseph Harford, iron merchant, who ventured £3,000; and by Mr. Thomas Winwood, fruit merchant, whose subscription is unknown. Soon after, Mr. Joseph Fry, chocolate maker, contributed £1,600, Mr. Mark Harford, £1,600, and Mr. Thomas Frank, grocer, a member of a family of Bristol potters already mentioned, £1,000. Champion was from the outset closely connected with William Cookworthy, who had been experimenting at his porcelain factory at Plymouth on Cornish clay, and who was not improbably concerned in the previous enterprise in Castle Green, where the same clay was also used (see p. 286). He was at all events designated by Sarah Champion “the first inventor of the Bristol China Works”, and Champion's productions were made, under license, from the Cornish materials of which Cookworthy had obtained a monopoly by letters patent. In 1770 Cookworthy entered into negotiations with his licensee, which resulted in the Plymouth works being abandoned, their proprietor removing his plant to Bristol and joining Champion, and the firm, from 1771 to 1773, was styled William Cookworthy & Co. An advertisement in the Bristol Journal of June 10th, 1773, shows the character of the porcelain produced at this period:- “Complete Tea Sets in the Dresden taste, highly ornamented, £7 7s. to £12 12s. and upwards. Tea Sets, 43 pieces, of various prices as low as £2 2s. Cups and Saucers from 3s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. per half dozen, and all other sorts of useful Ware proportionately cheap”. In October, 1773, the patent rights passed into Champion's hands, and Cookworthy's name disappeared. The works soon afterwards attained their highest development. Some of Champion's productions were such admirable imitations of Dresden ware as to deceive the skilfullest connoisseurs; whilst the articles turned out, especially the vases and flower plaques, displayed singular artistic delicacy and beauty. How justly Champion claimed for his china the name of “true porcelain” was proved after the disastrous destruction by fire of the Alexandra Palace, near London, in 1873. Several thousand specimens of English ceramics, produced at Bow, Chelsea and Worcester, were reduced to a molten mass. But the Bristol China, being of hard paste, issued comparatively unscathed, the fashions of the figures and their painted decorations remaining nearly intact. In bringing the manufacture to a state of almost perfect excellence a heavy


outlay had been necessary, and in the hope of securing an ultimate return for his outlay and personal labour, Champion, in 1775, applied to Parliament for an extension of Cookworthy's patent. Through the wily manoeuvring of Wedgwood, who had powerful friends amongst the peers, the Act obtained, however, was practically valueless, the opaque potters being allowed the free use of the Cornish earths. The cost of the conflict at Westminster was a heavy blow to the Bristol works, already seriously menaced by the revolt of the American colonies, where Champion had expected to find a market for his cheaper products. In a letter to William Burke, in June, 1776, Champion described his manufactory as “the greatest ever known in England”, adding that his capital was insufficient to make it a thorough commercial success. “Bristol is not the place to find a man of fortune and spirit to give it its due extent, so as to supply the market. We have no such men, and to divide it out into shares I do not like...... £10,000 additional would make a capital concern”. Money was not to be found, owing, perhaps, to the severe commercial depression caused by the American war, Financial embarrassments followed, and Wedgwood, writing to a partner in August, 1778, exultingly announced that Champion was “quite demolished”, and hoped that the Cornish material might thus be got on easy terms. The mean-spirited joy was somewhat premature, for the manufactory in Castle Green was not closed until 1781, when the patent rights were sold to a Staffordshire company, and Mr. Champion removed to Tunstall to superintend the new works. In the following year, however, he held for a few months the office of joint-deputy paymaster of the forces, under Burke; and he again occupied that post from April, 1783, to January, 1784. Further public service having become hopeless, he resolved on emigrating with his family to America, and arrived in South Carolina in December, 1784. He died at Camden, in that State, on the 7th October, 1791, in his 48th year.

A general election took place in March, 1768, when Lord Clare again offered his services. Sir Jarrit Smith retired, owing to advancing age, and two Tory candidates came forward to supply the vacancy - Mr. Richard Combe, of College Green, who held a minor office in the Government; and Mr. Matthew Brickdale, once a woollen draper in High Street. On the eve of the nomination day. Combe retired, finding that many Whigs would vote for his rival; and Lord Clare and Mr. Brickdale were thereupon elected. “Many


houses”, says the Bristol Journal, “were opened in the several parishes for the general entertainment of the friends of all parties” whilst a contest seemed imminent; and “the poor freemen and their families” were bountifully regaled after the members were returned. Mr. Laroche, jun., a member of the Corporation, was elected for Bodmyn, and Mr. Dickenson, of College Green, for another borough. Mr. Combe soon after found a seat in Somerset, when he sold his house in Bristol, and left the city. (The following paragraph in Felix Farley's Journal of March 19th is not strictly local, but it is too racy to be omitted:- “We hear there is so great a demand for provisions in a certain borough in the West [probably Bridgwater] that 300 guineas have been given for half an ox, and 'tis yet expected to be at a more advanced price”. A fortnight later the same paper said it was confidently stated that the losing parties lad expended nearly £20,000. “One opulent elector was offered £50 a year and £700 in money for his vote and interest, which he nobly refused”.) In the following June, Lord Clare's seat was vacated by his appointment as one of the Vice-Treasurers of Ireland; when he was re-elected without opposition.

An advertisement issued by the Chandlers' and Soap Boilers' Company, dated from their “hall”, and offering a reward for the discovery of frauds in the trade, appeared in the Bristol papers in April, 1768. The locality of the hall, of which no later record has been found, is unknown. The “frauds” referred to smuggled imports of Irish soap and candles, then tabooed from this country.

An illustration of a practice already referred to is offered by the following advertisement in the Bristol Journal of May 7th, 1768:- “Whereas certain ill-disposed persons in and about Frenchay have propagated a report that Captain John Read of that place had murdered his negro servant, and that Thomas Mountjoy, of Whiteshill, surgeon, had dissected the body”. The announcement goes on to offer a reward of £10 for the discovery of the author of the report, adding that, in order “to clear his character”, Captain Read had been “at the expense of returning to Frenchay (from London), and bringing the negro with him, notwithstanding he had made him the property of another person by sale”. (In November, 1771, at a sale near London, a negro boy was put up to auction, and knocked down at £32.)

A disturbance occurred on the quays on the 13th May,


through a number of sailors having tried to force their comrades to strike for an advance of wages - then 26s. a month. The discontented men demanded 30s., but were unsuccessful. Arthur Young, in the inquiry he made this year into the agricultural condition of the South of England, found that the labourers' earnings in some parts of Gloucestershire were from 4s. to 6s. per week in winter, and 6s. in summer. “The stoutest fellows”, he says, “often want work for 9d. a day, and cannot readily get it”.

On October Ist, 1768, just a fortnight after the newly-erected Bristol Bridge had been opened for traffic on foot, a short contribution appeared in Felix Farley's Journal, styled a “description of the Mayor's first passing over the Old Bridge, taken from an old manuscript”. The narrative, which described in spurious antique diction and orthography the rejoicings alleged to have taken place in the city upwards of five hundred years before, excited much interest amongst the few Bristolians of antiquarian tastes, and led to inquiries for the name of the contributor. It then appeared that the manuscript had been handed in anonymously, together with two short poems, also professing to be ancient, but which had been laid aside. The author of the three pieces was, in fact; the gifted but misguided genius, Thomas Chatterton, who was the posthumous son of a master of Pyle Street school bearing the same name, and was born under the shadow of Redcliff Church on the 20th November, 1762. The boy was in infancy so unusually dull that he was dismissed from Pyle Street school as incapable of even learning his letters. When in his seventh year his slumbering intellect was awakened by a singular incident. His mother, who kept a sewing school near the church, was tearing up an old music book that had belonged to her husband, when its illuminated capitals attracted her son's admiration, and by its help she succeeded in teaching him the alphabet, and soon after taught him to read in an old black-letter Testament. About a year later (August 3rd, 1760) Chatterton was admitted into Colston's School on the nomination of John Gardiner, vicar of Henbury, and remained there until July 1st, 1767, on which day he was apprenticed as a scrivener to Mr. John Lambert, attorney. Corn Street. Although the training afforded in Colston's Hospital was limited to the mere rudiments of education, the blue-coat boy at an early age became known at the circulating libraries and second-hand book shops as a greedy hunter after old world literature, which he read


during play hours; whilst on Saturday afternoons he returned to his mother's, and spent the holiday in drawing heraldic and architectural subjects. One of his youthful feats, probably completed at Mr. Lambert's, was to compile a glossary of old English words, chiefly extracted from John Kersey's Dictionary, from which it may be inferred that the idea of which the Rowley Poems were the remarkable fruit had germed at an early period. In Mr. Lambert's office library, moreover, was an old edition of Camden's “Britannia”, to which the base of many of the lad's future fictions can be clearly traced. (Mr. Nicholls's statement that Chatterton was largely indebted for medieval knowledge to the City Library is certainly inaccurate.) Soon after leaving school, the boy made a discovery peculiarly to his taste. Over the north porch of Redcliff Church was a chamber known as the muniment room, amongst the contents of which, in the time of Chatterton's father, was a large chest, called Canynges' coffer, stored with deeds and ancient parochial papers. In 1727 this coffer, secured with six locks, of which the keys had been lost, was broken open by order of the vestry, and such of the documents as were considered of value were removed, whilst a quantity deemed worthless, contained in that and other chests, were left loose and unprotected. Old church documents were regarded in that age with little respect, and there is nothing surprising in the fact that the Pyle Street schoolmaster subsequently obtained permission to take away large bundles; a number of parchments being afterwards used in covering Bibles and other books for his scholars. After his death, his store of unused manuscripts still filled two boxes, from which his widow supplied her sewing pupils with patterns and thread papers. Whilst her son was one day on a visit, he examined one of the fragments of parchment, then being used as a silk winder, and exclaiming that he had found a treasure, he collected all the remaining morsels that could be found in the house, and carried them off. Mr. Lambert's ofiice hours extended from 8 in the morning until 8 at night; but the attorney's practice was not extensive, and the clerk had long intervals of leisure, which were devoted to poetry and the cultivation of his curious tastes. The prose narrative relating to the Bridge was his first published effort in the manufacture of spurious antiquities. On being shortly afterwards identified at the newspaper office as the contributor, Chatterton alleged that he had found the original, together with some poems, amongst the manuscripts


obtained by his father from Redcliff porch. The youth, who was still under 16 years of age, was thereupon introduced to Mr. George Catcott, a pewterer near Bristol Bridge, and a bustling but futile amateur in archaeology; and a few days later that gentleman was presented with the “Bristowe Tragedie”, shortly afterwards supplemented by an epitaph on Robert Canynges, the “Challenge to Lydgate”, and the “Song of Ella”, some being so-called originals and some copies, but all alleged to have been composed by Thomas Rowley, a monk or priest, in the fifteenth century. Catcott, overwhelmed with delight, carried one of the poems, written on scraps of parchment, to Mr. William Barrett, an eminent Bristol surgeon, then zealously collecting materials for his contemplated history of the city; and the “discoverer” of the treasures was forthwith introduced to this important personage. Chatterton, who appears to have soon gauged the character of his new patron, lost no time in supplying him with what was styled an “Account of Bristol”, written by a monk named Turgot, giving in the reign of the Conqueror, and “translated by Rowley from Saxon into English”. The prize was at once accepted as genuine, and when the gullible surgeon acquainted his young friend from time to time with his difficulties as to the early history of various Bristol churches, the “relics” that were opportunely furnished to meet his needs were received and made use of with the same unquestioning credulity, the boy being at intervals rewarded with small gifts of money as incentives to further “researches”. Though the weakness of the dupe was unscrupulously played upon, it must be remembered that the victimiser was very young, and had, like many boys, a mischievous pleasure in deception. He was, moreover, almost penniless, receiving no wages from his master, and was strongly tempted into wrong-doing by an innate fondness for fine clothing. Mr. Barrett's valuable library having been opened to him, Chatterton obtained from it materials for a less important and more amusing imposture. George Catcott had a partner in trade named Henry Burgum, a man of humble birth, but puffed with a little worldly success, and absurdly ambitious to be thought of good family. To this tradesman Chatterton announced that he had found amongst the Redcliff parchments the armorial bearings of the De Berghems, with proofs of their descent from one of the companions of William I. The pedigree further pretended to be verified by references to ancient charters, the Roll of Battle Abbey, and the works of various antiquaries.


(All the books quoted were in Barrett's collection.) The vain and credulous pewterer having testified his delight by bestowing five shillings on his informant, the latter soon concocted a continuation of the pedigree, cautiously closed at about 1686, accompanied by a piece of poetry alleged to have been written in 1320 by one John de Berghem; and for these the forger was rewarded with another crown. A more daring attempt at deception was made about the same time. Horace Walpole's “Anecdotes of Painting” having recently appeared, Chatterton addressed a letter to the author, enclosing, amongst other manuscripts, the fictitious Rowley's “Ryse of Peyncteyne in England” and some verses about Richard I. Walpole courteously acknowledged the papers, whereupon he received, by return of post, further particulars as to Rowley, with additional manuscripts, including the “Historic of Peyncters yn England”, and a significant intimation that the writer was a lover of literature in needy circumstances. The MSS. were submitted to the poets Gray and Mason, who pronounced them to be spurious, and after further correspondence Chatterton met with a mortifying but not undeserved repulse. In the meantime he had sought to better his narrow resources by contributing verses and prose essays to a London magazine. Later on, embittered by what he considered the parsimony of his local patrons, he satirised many prominent Bristolians, to some of whom, especially to Barrett and Catcott, he was under personal obligations. At length, in the spring of 1770, the unhappy youth avowed an intention to commit suicide, and one morning Mr. Lambert found on his desk the document now preserved in the Bristol Museum, entitled his “last will”, written “in the utmost distress of mind, 14th April”, and bitterly expressive of his forlorn misery. The attorney having at once dismissed his apprentice, Chatterton, aided by the subscription of a few friends, and with only £5 in his pocket, started on the 24th April for London. His miserable career in the capital is described by his biographers. It is sufficient to say that he displayed almost incredible industry, overtaxing his strength by the production of a prodigious pile of prose and verse, literary and political, dramatic and satirical. During one brief gleam of success, he purchased and sent off some little presents to his mother, sister, and grandmother, his affection for whom was unabated. On another occasion, a timely political essay brought him into communication with Lord Mayor Beckford, who seems to have promised to befriend him, for


the sudden death of the politician soon afterwards plunged him in despair. The magazines, again, were sordidly conducted. For 250 lines of the “Consuliad” the poet received only 10s. 6d., which indicates the general scale of his rewards. The last and most exquisite of the Rowley poems, the ballad on Charity, was rejected by the editors. The noblest poet of the age, in short, was literally starving, although he was always content to make a dinner on cakes and water. For the last three days of his life, according to the statement of the woman with whom he lodged (at 39, Brook Street, Holborn), he was wholly without food, but proudly rejected her assistance. His mind gave way under his sufferings, and he died from the effects of poison on the 26th August, 1770, aged seventeen years and nine months, and was buried in a pauper's grave. The publishers at that time owed him about £12 for accepted contributions. Such are the main incidents of the poet's life, which it has not been easy to disentangle from the web of fiction and confusion woven around them by the lying stories of Thistlethwaite, the fables engendered by the senile imagination of Mrs. Edkins, the gossip-inspired twaddle of Cottle, and the impudent fabrications of Dix. All that need be said here respecting the Rowley controversy that arose after the boy's death is that, in spite of the thinness of the veil which Chatterton threw over his inventions - a veil that modern schoolboys can easily pierce - many influential writers of the time, with the President of the Antiquarian Society at their head, acrimoniously contended for the antiquity of the poems, whilst all the Bristol acquaintances of Chatterton, with the solitary exception of the Rev. Alexander Catcott, scoffed at the supposition that the works were his own creation. The Rowleyites practically disappeared before the end of the century. Chatterton's lyrics are now ranked amongst the finest in the language, and the brilliant genius and intellectual precocity of “Bristol's marvellous boy” have been sung with admiration and pity by almost every English poet from Coleridge to Rossetti.

The public-house “at Passage Leaze, opposite Pill, commonly called Lamplighter's Hall”, was offered to be let in the Bristol Journal of December 17th, 1768. This is the first mention of a house that subsequently became a favourite resort of pleasure parties. In 1772, when the property was offered for sale, it was described as “some time the estate of Joseph Swetnam, tinman, of Small Street, deceased”.


Swetnam had at one period contracted to light the lamps in some of the city parishes. He was probably the son of another tinman, James Swetnam, who traded at the Three Ship Lanterns on the Back in 1740, and is believed to have been the first Bristol tradesman who used an engraved bill-head for making out his invoices.

The minutes of the corporation of the poor for the year 1768 contain the following entry:- “Mr. John Peach, one of the guardians, discharged in consequence of his having convicted a felon”. The minute, which led Mr. Nicholls to assume that Mr. Peach was himself a felon, is explained by a statute of 1698, which enacted that burglars, horse stealers, or thieves robbing shops to the value of five shillings, should on conviction be hanged, and that every person successfully prosecuting such a felon should be entitled to exemption from parochial and ward offices in the place where the crime was committed. This singular Act was not repealed until 1818.

In January, 1769, the Corporation presented a petition to the House of Commons, setting forth that the two ancient city fairs, beginning respectively on the 25th January and the 25th July, “did not answer the good ends of their institution, by reason that the times of the year at which they were held were extremely inconvenient to the manufacturers and traders resorting thereto”; and praying for power to alter the dates to “more convenient parts of the year”. A Bill fixing the opening of the fairs on the 1st March and 1st September (and also empowering the Common Council to carry out the arrangements already recorded respecting the Grammar School and Queen Elizabeth's Hospital) passed without opposition.

The St. James's Chronicle of July 1st contains an interesting paragraph in reference to Clifton:- “We hear from the Hot Wells that there is a good deal of very good company already; seldom less than 200 at the public breakfasts with cotillons, and fuller balls than were last year at the height of the season, which is generally about the third week in July”. The writer adds that owing to the nearness of Bath, entertainments were given at each place alternately all the year round, and this attraction, combined with the excellence of the play-house, the choice of lodging-houses, the purity of the air, and the virtues of the Hot Well water at all seasons, had “induced several persons of independent fortune either to purchase or take houses in order to live there winter and summer. The inhabitants met twice a


week last winter to drink tea and play at cards, which encreased its sociability”.

Mr. William Powell, manager of the Bristol theatre, and one of the patentees of Covent Garden theatre, London, died in this city on the 3rd July, aged 33. He had displayed such distinguished talent as a tragedian that he was regarded by his friends as the indicated successor of Garrick. His remains were buried in the Cathedral, the dean (Dr. Barton) performing the funeral service in the presence of a great concourse of influential citizens.

At a meeting of the Council on the 8th July a committee recommended the removal of Lawford's Gate, and the purchase and destruction of three adjoining houses, by which “a very convenient passage would be there opened for persons, horses, and carriages”. The Chamber ordered the work to be executed forthwith. The two ancient statues ornamenting the Gate were secured by Mr. Reeve, who placed them on the outside of the entrance arch to “Black Castle”. The demolished houses - one of which, it is said, was originally a lodge of one of the keepers of Kingswood chase, who was entitled to demand toll from every packhorse entering the city during the fairs - belonged to Trinity Hospital, and brought in £21 yearly. The Corporation granted the charity a perpetual annuity of £16 per annum. Five more old dwellings were demolished in 1792 to widen the street at this point.

A great pugilistic contest took place in the new Riding School on the 19th June between Stephens “the nailer” and a Kingswood collier named Milsom. The latter was successful, but it was generally suspected that his opponent “sold the fight”. Some thousands of spectators were present, including many gentry, and “two noblemen”.

During the summer, the treatment of John Wilkes by the House of Commons aroused a strong feeling in his favour. A dinner took place in June at the Cock inn, St. James's churchyard, at which, in honour of the famous number of the North Briton, 45 gentlemen sat down to a feast comprised of 45 fowls, a 451b. ham, a 451b. rump of beef, 45 cabbages, 45 cucumbers, 45 loaves and 45 tarts, to which were added 45 gallons of ale, 45 glasses of brandy, and 45 papers of tobacco. A meeting was held in the Guildhall in the following month, Mr. Henry Cruger presiding, at which a strongly-worded protest against the action of the Commons was adopted unanimously. It was stated during the proceedings that several attorneys and others


had been employed to prevent the meeting, by industriously alleging that those who took part in it would be summoned to Westminster and flung into prison.

On the 13th December, 1769, Thomas Lawrence, innholder (he had just become tenant of the White Lion in Broad Street), was admitted a freeman on payment of a fine of 12 guineas. His distinguished son, Thomas, afterwards President of the Royal Academy, was then an infant, having been born in Redcross Street on the Bth May. In April, 1772, Lawrence announced that the American coffee-house, adjoining the inn, had been united to his establishment; but the adventure was unprofitable, and at midsummer, 1773, he removed to the Black Bear inn at Devizes. The White Lion was at this time a favourite resort of Bristolians who approved of the king's policy towards America. An old citizen informed Mr. Tyson that he remembered having seen effigies of Hancock and Adams, two prominent founders of the United States, ignominiously hanged before the American coffee-house, after having been first “tarred and feathered”. After the defeat of the Government, the title of the house became offensive to its political patrons, and “American” was changed to “British” about 1785.

The Corporation, although accumulating a heavy debt, was generally disposed to protect the pockets of the wealthy interest by which it was dominated. In December, 1769, the Council voted a subscription of 100 guineas for the relief of the sufferers by a fire in the island of Antigua. There is no evidence that the West India merchants contributed a shilling towards the same object. The attention of the Chamber was directed at the same meeting to the devoted ministerial services rendered by the Rev. James Rouquet to the prisoners in the gaol for nearly twenty years. It was determined that a gift of £20 would be a sufficient compensation.

The earliest notice of a third Bristol Bank occurs in 1769, when the partners were Henry Bright, Thomas Deane, Jeremiah Ames, Thomas Whitehead, Edward Harford and Samuel Munckley. Business was carried on in Small Street, in a large mansion once belonging to Edward Colston. (The site is now occupied by the Post Office.) After a secession, which will be recorded under 1786, this bank was carried on for some years by Messrs. Deane, Whitehead, Harford, Son, and Aldridge. In 1799, when a removal took place to No. 8, Corn Street, the concern was styled Messrs. Harford, Davis and Company.


An advertisement, dated February 14th, 1770, announced in the local newspapers that the New Bristol Fire Office had opened for business. The company, which had a capital of £108,000, had been formed some years previously by the local sugar refiners for mutual protection against fire. Another local insurance office, styled the Bristol Universal, commenced business in September, 1774, with a subscribed capital of £60,000, undertaking to pay for losses of plate, china, glass, carved work, wainscot of rooms, etc. (which the older offices refused to insure), and to charge no more for large insurances than for small ones, namely, 2s. percent. The senior offices were soon compelled to follow the example of their new rivals. In 1790 the New Bristol company increased its capital to £240,000, and changed its name to the Bristol Fire Office.

An Act was obtained in 1770 empowering the Bishop of Bristol to dispose, on lease, of the “park” adjoining his palace, for building purposes. Similar powers were conferred on the dean and chapter as regarded “White's Garden”. Mr. Samuel Worrall obtained a lease of the Bishop's Park for 90 years, at a rent of £60 per annum, and soon after offered the land in building plots, “in the new street called College Street”. The chapter land was covered with low tenements, the inmates of which soon contributed to increase not merely the pauperism but the vice of the city; but the cathedral authorities, content to receive their reserved rents, long ignored the immorality that prevailed. The period was a lucrative one for the chapter. In June, 1770, it obtained £1,000 from two ladies named Clement for inserting a new life in their lease of Canons' Marsh. In April, 1772, another life in the same lease dropped, and £1,050 was paid for adding a fresh one; and two years later the same process had to be gone through again, at a further cost of £1,050.

A petition having been presented to the Council in 1769, urging the Corporation to exercise the powers conferred upon it for the removal of St. Leonard's Church and the laying out of a street from Corn Street to the Quay, the matter was referred to a committee, which, after consideration, declined to advise the Council to undertake the work. A petition was subsequently presented to the Chamber by Daniel Harson, John Fowler, Edward Harford, jun., William Hart, John Deverell, Cranford Becher, Wm. James, Edward Nicholas, John Powell, and John Anderson, praying that the Corporation would assign the powers to private citizens


willing to carry out the improvement, and would assist in the work by giving up the site of a public-house, and by a donation of £2,000, which was estimated to be the net loss likely to be incurred in destroying the old property. At a meeting of the Council on the 22nd May, 1770, the requests of the petitioners were unanimously assented to, and it was resolved that the new thoroughfare should be called Clare Street. The promoters lost no time in buying up the old property, the materials of nine houses “at Pyle End, near St. Leonard's Church”, and of various tenements in Marsh Street being offered for sale in November. In January, 1771, the church of St. Leonard's, with the dark and tortuous passage called Blind Gate on which it stood, communicating with Marsh Street, Fisher Lane (St. Stephen Street), and Baldwin Street, was demolished, and soon after building operations commenced in earnest. The street was nearly completed in 1776, when Sketchley compiled his Directory. The improvement was effected at a cost greatly below the estimates, and the undertakers reaped a large profit from their enterprise. An advertisement in Felix Farley's Journal of July 6th, 1776, stated that subscribers might receive back their subscriptions, “and also receive the final dividends of profits arising from said concern”.

Complaint having been made that the city was inadequately supplied with the better sorts of fish, the Corporation, in May, 1770, granted a bounty of 7s. 6d, per cwt. to a Welshman named James, for all the turbot, cod, and soles which he sent into the local market from places west of the Holmes.

An order issued by the Court of Quarter Sessions in August, 1770, offers amusing testimony as to the leisurely business habits of the age. Complaint having been made as to the blocking of the quays, the court decreed as follows:- “All vessels laden with tobacco [it was shown under 1766 that some of these ships were of only about 100 tons burden] to discharge their cargo in 40 working days; all vessels from other foreign parts in 21 working days.... All vessels bound to foreign parts to take in their loading in 80 working days”. From seventeen to twenty weeks were therefore allowed each ship between her arrival and departure. The following regulation was also made:- “No candle to be lighted on board any vessel at the keys on any night after the Candle Bell shall be rung”, on pain of a fine of 10s. The Candle Bell figures in some old engravings of the Drawbridge.


Tea was still an expensive luxury. Mrs. James, of High Street, announced in November that she had just opened “several chests of her so-much-admired bloom and hyson teas”, which she continued to sell at the old prices, namely, 11s., 14s., and, for best hyson, 16s. per lb. (Another tradesman sold fine gunpowder tea at 20s., and Mocha coffee at 6s.)

Reference has been already made to the haphazard system under which postal business was conducted early in the century. It would seem from the following paragraph in the Bristol Journal of November 3rd that the arrangements had undergone but little improvement in 1770:- “The London mail did not arrive so soon by several hours as usual on Monday, owing to the postman's getting a little intoxicated on his way between Newbury and Marlborough, and falling from his horse into a hedge, where he was found asleep by means of his dog”.

The improvements in and around Newgate prison, contemplated by the Act of 1766, were effected this year at a cost of £838.

A healing spring, of which few living Bristolians have perhaps ever heard, solicited the attention of bathers in the local journals of April 20th, 1771. “The Cold Bath, in Castle Ditch”, said the advertisement, had a neat drawing room for public accommodation. It was an exceeding fine spring, constantly overflowing, and its salutary qualities had been happily experienced by many afflicted with rheumatic, paralytic, and other nervous disorders. It moreover provoked lost appetites, and elevated sinking spirits. The bath was surrounded with gravel walks and pleasant flowery turfs for after recreation, and the subscription was 6s. per quarter, or a guinea per annum. The institution was in existence in 1820, when Mr. Seyer was compiling his history. It appears to have excited rivalry, for the local Gazette of October 17th, 1772, recorded that on the previous Monday “part of the wall against the Avon, belonging to St. Peter's Hospital, fell down, together with a new-erected Cold Bath, which stood near it, into the river”.

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

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