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


The compiler must plead “extenuating circumstances” for making a further addition to the numerous histories of Bristol.

Whilst materials were being gathered for the Annals of the present century, facts frequently cropped up relating to its predecessor which were found to be either ignored or misreported in existing works. The number of such incidents became at length so great as to suggest a systematic search for others. By the courtesy of Mr. D.T. Burges, Town Clerk, and Mr. J.T. Lane, City Treasurer, the vast collection of documents preserved at the Council House was thoroughly examined for the first time, and yielded large returns. The late Archdeacon Norris kindly permitted access to the minute books of the Dean and Chapter, and to the mass of papers in the old Consistory Court, and the facts thus brought to light proved highly interesting. The extensive collection of local books and manuscripts made by the late Mr. C.T. Jefferies afforded another bountiful harvest. Much was gathered from the noble library of Mr. Alderman Fox, to whom sincere thanks are offered for his hospitality during the research. The valuable collection of local books, maps and manuscripts belonging to Mr. William George furnished original matter of great interest. An examination of the Bristol Wills preserved in the Probate Office, and at the Central Registry in London, supplied numerous instructive facts. Curious entries, again, were found in the vestry books of Christ Church, St. Nicholas, St. Stephen, Temple and St. Philip, and the courtesy of their custodians merits especial acknowledgment. At the Bodleian Library, in addition to various minor treasures, was found a manuscript “History of Bristol”, compiled by a local schoolmaster early in the last century, containing many original notes. And in the State Papers from 1700 to 1760, to which access was obtained, were found much correspondence relating to city affairs.

The almost overwhelming stores of the British Museum embraced material requiring mention in a little more detail.

The local history of the last century has been hitherto chiefly based on so-called “Calendars”, kept by private citizens, and very briefly recording the notable events of the time. From discrepancies existing in those manuscripts, some of them appear to have been written from memory, long after the incidents they record had passed away. In any case, it is obvious that such jottings are not to be compared, as regards trustworthiness, with the reports of local events published in contemporary newspapers. Yet the latter source of information has been neglected by the historians of the city, in despite of the baldness and inadequacy that characterise their later annals. Thanks to the usual kindness of Mr. T.D. Taylor, the volumes of early Bristol newspapers in his possession were made available. Mr. W.J. Phelps, of Chestal, Dursley, kindly permitted an examination of his fine set of Gloucester Journals, commencing in 1722. To supply the deficiencies still remaining, recourse was had to the piles of early newspapers in the British Museum, and although the inspection of many thousands of the pigmy sheets involved much time and labour, the facts brought to light amply repaid their cost.

With the mass of material thus accumulated, the compiler felt himself in a position to lay aside previous works, and to produce the story of the century entirely from new sources of information. How far this has been satisfactorily accomplished must be left to the judgment of the reader.

In addition to the gentlemen whose services have been acknowledged above, the compiler has to return grateful thanks for assistance received from the Earl of Ducie, Lord Lieutenant, Sir Charles Wathen, Mr. W.J. Braikenridge, Bath, the Rev. S.W. Wayte, Mr. G.H. Pope, Treasurer of the Merchants' Society, Colonel Bramble, Mr. W.H. Wills, Mr. J.J. Simpson, Clerk to the Corporation of the Poor, Mr. John Taylor, City Librarian, Mr. Harold B. Bowles, Mr. W. W. Hughes, Mr. R Hall Warren, Mr. Walter Frost, Mr. F.G. Powell, Mr. G.E. Weare, Weston-super-Mare, and the Rev. A.B. Beaven, Preston.

Trelawny Place,
January, 1893.



Demy 8vo, Price 13s. 6d., Large Paper, 22s. 6d. Net.


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

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