The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century

By John Latimer

Editor of The Bristol Mercury, 1858-83.

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

1801 - 1830

Before entering upon the chronological record to which the following pages are devoted, a faint attempt to sketch the state of Bristol and its inhabitants at the commencement of the century may not be uninteresting. The great commercial prosperity of the city down to the revolt of the American colonies is a matter of history; and though the subsequent war was disastrous to some distinguished local firms, the vast wealth that continued to flow in from the West India Islands, and the lucrative Spanish wool and wine trades, contributed largely to the well-being of the community, and were advantages on which the merchants of other ports looked with envious admiration. It is true that Bristol had lost its long-cherished title to rank as second city of the kingdom. The marvellous growth of the cotton trade in Lancashire after 1785 had caused a corresponding increase in the exports and imports of Liverpool; and no adequate efforts were made to compete with the upstart rival, either by the introduction of new industries, the reduction of the exorbitant duties levied upon shipping by the Corporation, or the removal of those difficulties in the navigation of the Avon which had tempted commerce to forsake the Bristol Channel for the more commodious Mersey. As is not unfrequently the case in ancient and solidly-founded communities, Bristol was too wealthy to be enterprising, and many of her influential sons, having become rich in the beaten paths of commerce, were opposed through selfishness or indolence to the striking out of new ones. In despite, for example, of the local cheapness of labour and fuel, only one feeble effort was made to introduce cotton spinning. The competition of Yorkshire in cheap woollen goods, which must have been an uphill task against the reputation and skill of the West of England, was contemptuously ignored until men suddenly awoke to the fact that the bulk of the trade was irrevocably lost through northern enterprise. With equally


disastrous consequences, the Avon, which from tidal peculiarities could not be entered in safety except by ships specially built for lying on its muddy shores at low water, was left with all its natural defects, as if to deter strangers from venturing in to jostle the old magnates of the Exchange.

The government of the city was conducted on the same narrow-minded principles. Many men of capital, paying large rentals, employing many workmen, and being in every sense entitled to rank as leading citizens, were not “freemen” according to corporate technology; they had consequently no votes at parliamentary elections, and their influence in local government could not have been less if they had been Hottentots. Having wrested their birthright from the inhabitants, the Corporation, self-elected, and repudiating all control, spent a large proportion of the city revenues in the maintenance of ostentatious “state”, and in luxurious entertainments to the select circle which found favour in its sight. On the other hand, the duties of civic government were for the most part either evaded or loftily ignored. The paving, lighting, and watching of the city were miserably imperfect. The footways, where they existed, were so narrow that, even a quarter of a century later, the newspapers occasionally congratulated their readers when a week passed away without an accident to pedestrians. These casualties were largely due to what a writer in the Monthly Magazine for May, 1799, termed “the barbarous custom of using sledges in the public streets for the conveyance of goods”, which appears to have been almost universal. The drivers in descending a slope dragged their sledges against the edge of the pavement; and, as the packages overhung the vehicles, the peril of foot-passengers may be imagined.

The cleansing of all but the leading thoroughfares was generally left to the elements. One of the local newspapers of Nov. 9th, 1799, complained:- “Pigs, goats, and other animals are suffered to wander about the streets with impunity; at the same time the lives of the inhabitants are nightly endangered by heaps of mortar, ashes, and rubbish”. The sprinkling of feeble lamps, lighted by the parochial authorities, often became extinct about midnight through lack of oil. From occasional broad insinuations in the public press, the watchmen - frequently decrepit old drunkards, and sometimes worn-out servants of members of the Corporation - were not merely inefficient, but were suspected of conniving at nocturnal offences. Beyond the city boundaries, in Clifton, Cotham, Redland, and the


populous eastern suburbs, there was not a single public lamp or a single night-constable. As was natural under such circumstances, burglaries and highway robberies were of constant occurrence, and a vast majority of the criminals escaped detection.

The prevalence of crime, however, contributed to delay that complete separation of the upper and lower classes of citizens which is one of the most striking phenomena of later times. In 1801, with comparatively few exceptions, the merchant dwelt near his warehouses, as the trader lived over his shop; and many narrow and sombre-looking streets, now lined with stores and offices or given up to labouring families, then contained the dwellings of the rich as well as the poor. Though the sanitary conditions of old-fashioned town life, especially in a city which had no public water supply, left much to be desired, they were accompanied by some compensating advantages. There was not that gulf between master and workman which has been deepened if not created by the isolation of the capitalist from the labourer, and disputes between the two classes were arranged without those terrible social conflicts which are amongst the greatest calamities of modern industry. A neighbourly feeling and habit of association also existed amongst the citizens to an extent unknown in our day. “Perhaps there is no place in England”, observed the writer in the Monthly Magazine already quoted, “where public and social amusements are so little attended to as here”. Such pleasures, in fact, were limited to a short theatrical season and to the rare dissipation of a ball or concert. Travelling for purposes of health, relaxation, or amusement was never dreamt of by the trading classes - a fact not very surprising when it is remembered that the speed of stage-coaches averaged only five miles an hour, that the fares were high, that the traveller was almost shaken to pieces through the execrable state of the roads, and that highway robberies formed an inevitable item of each week's news. A holiday sojourn at the seaside was practicable only to the wealthy. The population of the parish of Weston-super-Mare in 1801 numbered 188, only twelve of whom (probably three families) were not dependent on agriculture; and the lodging-house keeper was still in the future. The summer recreation of prosperous tradesmen therefore chiefly consisted in an evening stroll on the Grove or in Queen Square, where the noisy rooks added a rural attraction to the stately mansions of the merchants and to the masts of the sturdy old vessels


moored in the river. College Green had also its votaries, for there the youth of Bristol, enrolled as volunteers, trooped to drill after the labours of the day. But the most cherished amusement of middle-aged citizens was an occasional visit to the suburban bowling-greens kept at the Ostrich Inn, over Durdham Down, Stapleton, Totterdown, Brislington, Henbury, and other villages, to which parties of friends resorted to enjoy their grog and tobacco in the country air, and afforded each other mutual protection from footpads on their return. In the long nights of winter, after the dismal tallow candles in the shop windows[1] had been extinguished, and warerooms had been carefully secured, the parlours of the principal taverns were filled by neighbours eager to exchange the gossip of the day. Almost every citizen had his habitual evening resort; and when a charitable or patriotic subscription was on foot, “the gentlemen frequenting” the Bush, the White Lion, the Rummer, or the Mulberry Tree, would sometimes club upwards of fifty guineas in token of their sympathy.

Conviviality, as may be supposed, was often earned to excess. In fact, entire sobriety was commonly regarded as more contemptible than drunkenness, and there is abundant evidence that a “three-bottle man” had fewer censors than admirers. At the dinner of the Parent Colston Society in 1865, an old member, whose father had also belonged to the society, described the manner in which the anniversary was celebrated about the beginning of the century. The party assembled for dinner at four o'clock (an unusually late hour in those days), had oysters at nine, and grilled bones at four in the morning. Drinking was then resumed until the time came for breakfast, which was always hot and sumptuous, being made out of the presentable remains of the previous day's banquet. The example of the richer classes was followed, as far as their means would allow, by the poor, and in spite of the multitudinous public-houses few trades were so prosperous as that of the innkeeper. Schools, on the other hand, were few in number and bad in quality - facts which appear to have been regarded with great equanimity, for the general committee of the


local Sunday-schools reported in 1786 that “the instruction to be obtained at a Sanday-school is fully adequate to all the purposes of the lower classes of people”. Three-fourths of the labouring community thus attained mature age wholly illiterate, and many of the remainder gradually became so owing to the literary destitution in which they lived. Books were so dear that few were purchased by the trading class. And when the paltry little newspapers of the time cost sixpence each, while the average wages of working men did not reach 16s. a week, it is not difficult to imagine the scantiness of political knowledge amongst the masses.

As if the mental deprivation of the people was not sufficiently degrading in its tendency, the legislature lent its aid to make matters worse. It was at that time a capital felony to pick a pocket or to steal a pewter pot; and constant executions took place of men, women, and even boys and girls, for crimes now deemed deserving of only a few months' imprisonment. Persons merely suspected of offences were treated whilst awaiting their trial with abominable cruelty; ruffianly press gangs, trampling upon the liberty of the subject, seized upon unhappy sailors as they reached home after long voyages, and dragged them from their families for lifelong servitude in the navy; public whippings and the punishment of the pillory took place in the principal streets after almost every quarter session.

Brutalized by scenes to which the law lent its sanction, the poor plunged in so-called amusements of a congenial character. Bull-baiting, dog-fighting, badger-baiting, cock-fighting, had their devoted admirers; but pugilism was the especial delight of Bristolians, some of whom attained national fame for their tenacity and “science”. It must be added that these inhuman sports, so far from being disapproved, were lauded and patronized by distinguished politicians and men of fashion. Members of the Royal Family were not ashamed to be present at a prize-fight, while the services of a practised “bruiser” were in request by political agents at every contested election. One more social fact of the period is worthy of record. Down to 1800, nearly one-tenth of all the deaths in the kingdom were due to smallpox, and a large proportion of the population, in Bristol as elsewhere, had their faces disfigured by that terrible disease. The beneficent discovery of vaccination by a Gloucestershire worthy began, however, to be largely recognised in 1801, and in a few years the ravages of the malady sank to insignificance.


The nineteenth century opened gloomily. The war with France during the previous seven years had doubled the national debt and imposed a constantly increasing burden of taxation on the people, whilst the extensive conquests of the French on the Continent, coupled with the armed neutrality organized by Russia against England, had caused great embarrassment to commerce and deprived the consumer of foreign supplies of corn. The latter circumstance was the more calamitous inasmuch as the domestic crops, which had been deficient for four successive years, produced scarcely half of their average yield in 1800. In January, 1801, the official price of wheat in Gloucestershire stood at 169s. 6d. per quarter. Various measures were adopted by Parliament to avert the effects of the famine. Bounties were offered upon imports of grain and fish. The distillation of corn was forbidden. The manufacture of starch was suspended for a twelvemonth. Millers were subjected to supervision by the Excise and to a legal standard of profits, and they were prohibited from manufacturing fine flour. Bakers were allowed to make brown bread only, and penalties were imposed on those who sold bread less than twenty-four hours old, or who heated stale bread for the purpose of stimulating the consumer's appetite. [One Bristol baker was mulcted in a fine of £19 10s., and a large quantity of his bread was confiscated, for infringing the stale bread laws.]

Private ingenuity was racked to assist the efforts of the legislature. The mayor of Bristol, following the example of many of the nobility, announced that the Mansion-house dinners would be restricted to a single course; the serving of bread at “afternoon tea” was given up; pastry of every kind was tabooed from the tables of the rich; wearers of hair-powder, an article which had been almost universally used by the upper classes of both sexes, adopted various substitutes for flour, or dropped the practice altogether; poultices at public institutions were ordered to be made of linseed or turnips; persons in receipt of relief from the poor laws were forbidden to keep dogs. The Corporation of Bristol, which had voted £500 in the previous year for purchasing corn, offered premiums for importations of potatoes, and promised loans without interest to fishermen for fitting out additional boats. [Between 1800 and 1803 inclusive, the bounties paid for fish by the Corporation amounted to over £970.] In spite of every exertion the official average price of wheat in Gloucestershire for the month of March reached the astonishing sum of 184s. 4d. per quarter. The wages of unskilled labourers


in Bristol being only about 8s. or 9s. per week, it is needless to say that when coarse bread advanced to 1s. 10d. the quarter loaf it was beyond the reach of great numbers of the inhabitants. The flour of rice, oats, barley, rye, and peas was largely resorted to as a substitute; some housewives even attempted to make loaves from potatoes: while nettles were gathered and cooked in lieu of ordinary vegetables.

When prices had attained their maximum, some of the poor, driven almost mad by the misery of their children, made one or two riotous attacks on the stall-keepers in the city markets, and soldiers had to be called in to prevent further outbreaks. No account of the disturbances was published by the newspapers supporting the Government, on the pretext that such intelligence was likely to have a bad effect, but the following item appears in the Corporation accounts: “Paid expenses during the market riots in the month of April, 1801, £117 7s. 4d”. To what extent political discontent prevailed in the city it is now impossible to say. The prosecution of Hardy for high treason had brought out the fact that a “Bristol Society for Constitutional Information”, similar to the Radical organizations in other towns, had existed in 1794 [“State Trials”, xxiv. 480-484]; but the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act and other arbitrary measures of the Government had suppressed every indication of popular feeling, public meetings and even lectures being forbidden except by consent of the magistrates. The extreme distress of the lower classes, however, induced many half-famished men to seek relief by resorting to crime, and Felix Farley's Bristol Journal announced that highway robberies and burglaries in and around the city were of nightly occurrence. In the hope of checking the evil, justice was administered with relentless severity. After the spring assizes of 1801 three criminals were executed at Bristol, six at Gloucester, and nine at Taunton, although in none of the cases were the malefactors charged with murder.

An interesting incident of this disastrous period was the first appearance of the system of co-operative trading. The manufacture and sale of flour and bread were the objects chiefly aimed at by the societies which started up, it being widely believed that millers and bakers were reaping extortionate profits during the general distress. Flour-mills on the co-operative principle were started[2] in


various parts of the country; and the Bristol Flour and Bread Concern is a still existing relic of a movement which for the most part passed away with the dearth. In Bristol, as elsewhere, the wealthier classes contributed largely towards the relief of their famine-stricken neighbours. Mr. John Weeks, the landlord of the “Bush” Hotel, earned great popularity by buying upwards of fifty tons of meat and a corresponding quantity of peas, etc., which were sold to the poor at moderate prices. The extreme severity of the distress rapidly diminished with the advance of summer, which ended in a productive harvest; but the semi-starvation suffered by the labouring classes was followed, according to custom, by a terrible epidemic of fever. “The number of cases”, wrote Dr. Beddoes in The Monthly Magazine, “was prodigious. . . . Twenty-eight people lay down with fever in one house in Back Street (it is believed they had very little medical assistance), and eight were buried out of a single house in Elbroad Street”. During the dearth, the Corporation of the Poor set up a coarse woollen manufactory in St. Peter's Hospital, for the purpose of employing some of the poor who were forced to apply for relief. The plan, however, did not succeed, and the place was closed.

A change of Ministry took place in the spring of 1801, when Mr. Addington (afterwards Lord Sidmouth) became Premier in the room of Mr. Pitt. Lord Eldon is recorded to have complained that although Addington's followers were few in number they all claimed to be officers; and it is clear that Mr. Charles Bragge, one of the members for Bristol, and a brother-in-law of the new minister, was no exception to the rule. Mr. Bragge was already Chairman of Ways and Means; in November he was transferred to the Treasnrership of the Navy, thus vacating his seat. No opposition was offered to his re-election. On the evening after his return, “Brother Bragge”, as he was contemptuously styled in one of Canning's well-known satires, is reported by an admiring journalist to have treated “ the freemen in general with a supper, and liquor to drink his health”. Besides being returned at the general election in the following year, Mr. Bragge was again re-elected in 1803, when he became Secretary at War. He took the name of Bathurst in 1804, on the death of a relative who bequeathed to him the Lydney estate.

At a meeting of the Common Council in March, 1801, it was reported that the vestry of Christ Church had applied for the payment of £500, the last instalment of the gift of £2,000 promised by the Corporation in 1784 towards rebuilding


the church. A committee pointed out that the vestry had not complied with the conditions on which the subscription was granted, but suggested that if the churchwardens would so far fulfil their engagements as to lay into Broad street enough ground then covered by houses to widen the thoroughfare to twenty-two feet(!), the money might be paid. It may be presumed that this condition was complied with, as the Corporation, in 1803, ordered the remainder of their gift to be paid in instalments.

The census of 1801, the first attempted in England, was taken in March, greatly to the dissatisfaction of many pious persons, who condemned the numbering of the people as a national sin. The statistics showed that the population of the ancient city was 40,814. The inhabitants of Clifton numbered 4,457; St. George's had 4,038; the district of St. James and St. Paul, 1,897; St. Philip's, outside the city, 8,406; Mangotsfield, 2,942; and Stapleton, 1,541. Adding these suburban districts, the total given by the census-takers was 63,645. Bedminster, which had a population of 3,278, was omitted from the suburbs for reasons unexplained.

Much disappointment was felt at the result, local writers having confidently asserted that the city was inferior only to London in point of inhabitants, and that more than 100,000 persons dwelt within its boundaries.

About ten years before this date a project was started for the erection of an imposing crescent at Clifton, and several thousand pounds were expended on the undertaking. The outbreak of war with France, however, had ruinous effects on this and many other speculations,[3] and the scheme was abandoned for some years. On the 17th of May, 1800, “the pile of buildings called the Royal York Crescent”, with the and adjoining, being the sites for the unbuilt houses, was offered for sale in Felix Farley's Journal, but without success. In July, 1801, the newspapers announced that the Government intended to buy the site of the unfinished portion of the


crescent (about three-fourths of the whole), and to construct barracks there for the accommodation of a large body of troops. The ground, in fact, was actually secured for this purpose, but earnest petitions were forwarded by the inhabitants, urging that the intended building would be ruinous to the fame of Clifton as a watering-place, and the army authorities abandoned the design in July, 1803.[4] The crescent long remained in a desolate state. In May, 1809, a sale by auction was announced “by order of the Barrack Department” of fifteen unfinished houses, adjoining the first ten already standing at the west end. In the following year another sale was announced of “the remaining twenty-one unfinished houses, with a long range of void ground behind the same”. The advertisement of 1809 was accompanied by a notice, by private persons, of a sale of eleven partly erected houses “in the crescent”, by which, it may be presumed, was meant the lower or Cornwallis Crescent. This row was also begun in the prosperous years before the war, the first leases being granted by the Merchants' Society in November, 1791, but was left in an equally forlorn condition. In October, 1805, a local newspaper stated that the number of permanent residents in Clifton was becoming greater every season, “so that we should not be surprised if, in a very few years, the present ruinous piles of unfinished houses were to offer a lucrative speculation to the builder”. The last gaps in York Crescent, however, were not filled until about 1818. Comwallis Crescent was still longer in hand, nine of its unfinished houses being advertised for sale in July, 1824. In Saville Place, described in an advertisement as “in the centre of the village”, there were eleven houses partially finished in June, 1796. Some were not completed until a much later date. Richmond Terrace contained several unoccupied houses at the close of 1799, when a gang of thieves attempted to steal the lead from the roofs, “which was only prevented”, according to a local journalist, “by one of the gang being caught in a man-trap, which, from the quantity of blood left on the trap and premises, must have severely wounded him”. Another row of dwellings which remained long incomplete was Bellevue. “Eight of the unfinished houses” there were offered for sale in July, 1810.


On the petition of several tanners and curriers in the city, the Common Council, in June, 1801, resolved on the establishment of a market in the Back Hall for the sale, every Wednesday and Saturday, of hides and skins, and every Thursday of leather.

The Council at the same meeting granted a pension for life of £60 per annum to Mrs. Harris, widow of Alderman John Harris (mayor in 1790-91), who had died a few days before. Two gentlemen, Gregory Harris and Wintour Harris, were about the same time nominated to comfortable offices under the Corporation. Such arrangements were not unusual under the irresponsible system of government. In 1808 a pension of £40 was granted to the widow of Samuel Sedgley, common councillor. In 1817 the widow of Alderman Anderson was granted a life annuity of £100; and a little later Charles Anderson, presumably her son, resigned his seat in the Council, and was elected to the well-endowed office of collector of town dues. J.H. Wilcox (who twice filled the office of mayor) relinquished his aldermanic gown under financial reverses about the same time, and became deputy-chamberlain. In 1820, upon the death of Mr. Joseph Edye (mayor 1801-2), his widow was voted a pension of £60 yearly. Other cases occur in the minutes, and will be mentioned hereafter. Another singular item occurs regularly every six months in the civic accounts. The following is an example:- “1800, September 29, paid sundry coachmen for attending with their masters' carriages on public days; half-year to this day, £32 12s.” Then there are numerous payments for the robes and cocked hats of the petty officers of the Corporation, who were freshly caparisoned every other year. On the other hand, the Corporation declined to pay more than £26 12s. towards lighting the city. For this sum a lamp was lighted at Wine Street pump, four at the Drawbridge, as many in the centre of Queen Square, and three each at the Mansion House and Council House.

The tidings of the signature, at Amiens, of preliminaries of peace with France were received, in October, 1801, with enthusiastic tokens of joy. At Bath, the populace took the horses (which on this happy occasion were ten in number) out of the mail coach which brought the news, and insisted on dragging the vehicle as far as Twerton. Through the delay thus caused, the intelligence reached Bristol by a stagecoach, whereupon arrangements were made for meeting the mail and escorting it into the city. The procession, which to a later generation may have a somewhat ludicrous air,


consisted of a troop of cavalry stationed in the city, some civic officials, Mr. Weeks of the Bush, in a gig, magniloquently styled a curricle, accompanied by a “musical gentleman”, the “delightful sounds” of whose trumpet greatly affected the newspaper chronicler, and some thousands of the commonalty, whose continuous cheers were re-echoed by the spectators stationed along the route. This spectacle occurred about noontide on a Sunday, but the chronicler hastens to observe that the demonstration “did not trench upon the duties or decencies” of the day. On Monday, however, the air was rent with bell-ringing and cannon firing, and the irrepressible Weeks appeared on the balcony of his hotel “habited as a sailor, and delivered a string of appropriate toasts and sentiments, which were each of them preceded by an air from the band of the Oxfordshire militia, and by the plaudits of the populace”. At night the city was ablaze with tar barrels, oil lamps, and tallow candles, Mr. Weeks coming out again triumphantly with an illuminated allegorical group representing Britannia, Cupid, the arts and sciences, Hercules, Fortitude, Minerva, a French sansculotte, and various other astonishing personages.[5] The popular joy broke forth afresh upon the proclamation of peace in the following May. Unprecedented crowds flocked into the city from the surrounding districts to witness the ceremony, which was carried out according to ancient precedent, the proclamation being read on the site of the High Cross, at St. Peter's pump, at St. Thomas's Church, at Queen Square, and lastly opposite the Exchange. A large platform, covered with crimson cloth, for the use of the civic authorities, was carried about in the procession from place to place. In the evening the city broke into a general illumination, Felix Farley's Journal remarking that so numerous were the emblematical transparencies that a full detail would occupy “nearly every column” of the pigmy newspaper.


Considerable difficulty was found in filling the civic chair in 1801. Three gentlemen, Messrs. Gordon, Page, and Anderson, were successively elected mayor, but each in turn refused to accept the office, and paid the fine of £400. After a long delay, Mr. Joseph Edye was appointed.

The urgent need of improvement in the shipping accommodation of the port had been widely felt for many years before this date, and many schemes for that purpose were devised during the last half of the previous century. So early as 1765, Smeaton, the greatest engineer of the time, proposed to convert the lower part of the Froom into a dock, the estimated outlay being only about £20,000. Two years later, William Champion, an ingenious Bristolian, produced a scheme for damming up the Avon, the cost of which he estimated at £35,000. This was followed by a dock project, designed by John Champion. The completion of the merchants' dock, near Rownham, in 1768, which was the work of W. Champion, and was regarded as a great improvement, temporarily shelved the question; but the complaints of shipowners gradually became pressing, and numerous fresh schemes of improvement were promulgated towards the end of the century.

It was not, however, until 1802 that the citizens began to consider the matter seriously. Early in that year a plan was laid before the Corporation and the Merchants' Company, who agreed upon referring it to Mr. William Jessop, an engineer who had some nine years before suggested a floating harbour by means of a dam at Rownham. That gentleman having approved of the project, it was brought before the inhabitants generally; and on the 1st May a subscription was started to carry out an undertaking the boldness of which exceeded any engineering work hitherto attempted in the kingdom. Jessop proposed to cut a new course for the Avon from Princess Street to Rownham, and to form the old channel into a dock; which he estimated could be done for about £150,000. If this plan had been adopted, vessels would have had the option of entering the new harbour, or of taking up berths in the old river at the Grove and Welsh Back, as before. But the promoters of a floating harbour declined to sanction an arrangement which would have allowed merchants to escape the charges intended to recoup the cost of the undertaking. They preferred, at a great additional expense to themselves, to monopolize the whole of the ancient harbour; and their engineer was requested to alter his plan so as to extend the float to Temple


Back, a “cut” for the Avon being thus required from Rownham to Netham.

Vast as was the addition thus made to the intended excavations, Mr. Jessop, with the light-heartedness of his profession, estimated that the outlay for the cutting and locks would still not exceed £212,000, or, including the cost of the land, £300,000. It being arranged that the shareholders in the proposed company should receive 4 per cent, per annum for six years and 8 per cent. in perpetuity, a subscription covering £250,000 of the proposed capital was eventually obtained. An application to Parliament for the necessary powers was made in the session of 1808, when a lively opposition was manifested. The assent of the Corporation to the bill - which, besides imposing a tax upon every ship entering the port, levied an annual rate amounting to £2,400 (equal to sixpence in the pound) on the fixed property within the city - had been given by a majority of only one vote; and, as was natural, the difference of opinion in the Council largely prevailed out of doors. Many local shipowners, amongst whom were found the influential names of Bright, Gibbs, King, Baillie, Protheroe and Pinney, urged before the House of Commons' committee that at all the other ports where docks had been established the use of such accommodation was optional, the proprietors being content to look for profit from those who voluntarily came to them, whereas, if the proposed float were carried out, ships could not discharge their cargoes at Bristol without been mulcted for works which many of them did not require. Other opponents of the scheme submitted that an impost on house property for the benefit of private individuals was as unjustifiable as it was unprecedented. The legislature thought proper, however, to treat the scheme in an exceptional manner, and the bill received the royal assent. Under its provisions a company was incorporated under the title of the Bristol Docks Company, consisting of the Corporation, the Merchants' Company and the subscribers to the sum of £250,000. The total capital was fixed at £300,000.

According to the original draft of the bill, approved by the Common Council, the Corporation estates were made liable for the payment of one moiety of the interest on the intended loan of £60,000, The Court of Aldermen, however, denounced the proposed mortgage as unjust and dangerous, and, after the bill had passed the Commons, a successful appeal was made to the Upper House to strike out the provision. Parliament also rejected an audacious clause levying dues on


shipping trading to Newport. Twenty-seven directors were appointed, comprising the mayor and eight members of the Common Council, the master and eight members of the Merchants' Company, and nine gentlemen chosen by the shareholders. It was stipulated in the Act that the two corporate bodies were to have no interest in the dividends.

The excavation of a new bed for the Avon from St Philip's Marsh to Rownham was necessarily the first portion of the intended works, and was of itself an undertaking of a gigantic character. The first sod of “the cut” was turned in a field near Mr. Toast's shipbuilding yard, at Wapping, on the 1st of May, 1804. The hour of five in the morning, then the usual time at which labourers began work, was fixed for the ceremony, which was performed by Mr. G. Webb Hall, in the presence of the directors and many influential shareholders. The tax on the city came into operation on and from this date. At a meeting of the Company in the following year it was reported that the directors had been unable to borrow the £S0,000 authorized by the Act, and that the share capital was deficient by £14,500, owing to some of the subscribers having withdrawn their names before the bill became law. It was thereupon determined to augment the amount of the existing shares from £100 to £135 each, thereby supplying the required sum. (£12 9s. was afterwards added to each share by dividing the forfeited capital, making the total £147 9s.) As a sop to the proprietors for this compulsory demand upon them, the board promised that the interest named in the Act should be raised from 4 to 6 per cent.; and a bill to legalize this arrangement passed soon afterwards.

This, however, was but the beginning of the company's financial difficulties. The estimates originally framed, both as to the expense of the works and the time required for their completion, proved altogether deceptive. The task of constructing the lock and basin at Rownham had been especially underrated, and it was at last found necessary to contract the area of the basin by one-third. Even after making this reduction, the time fixed for the completion of the works was exceeded by a year, while the original capital of £300,000 defrayed only one-half of the total expenditure. To meet this formidable deficit, the directors, in 1807, promoted another bill, empowering them to raise fresh capital on the security of greatly enhanced chains on shipping and goods: the coasting trade, which had originally been exempted from dues on goods, being now


deprived of its immunity. Through the slovenly manner in which private legislation was conducted at that period, the bill was presented and made some progress in the House of Commons before the citizens, or even the Common Council, became acquainted with its character; but the underhand proceedings of the Dock Board having been at length discovered, an opposition was organized in the city, and was supported by the Corporation and by the petitions of several seaport towns. The scheme was ultimately rejected in the Commons by 88 votes against 55. But in 1808 another bill, deemed less objectionable in some of its details, and giving powers for the erection of a toll-bridge and caisson near Prince's Street, was allowed to pass unopposed. The capital was raised by this Act to £500,000. Under a fourth statute, obtained in 1809, the amount was increased to £600,000. During the parliamentary struggle the works had been slowly progressing, and it was not until January, 1809, that the Avon was diverted into its new channel. On the 2nd of April the first vessels passed up and entered Bathurst Basin - so called in honour of one of the city members. Finally, on the 1st May following, the docks were certified as completed.[6]

To commemorate this striking event in the history of the city, a thousand of the labourers who had been employed on the works were entertained to dinner in a field opposite Mardyke. The principal items of the bill of fare consisted of two oxen, roasted whole, a proportionate weight of potatoes, and six hundredweight of plum pudding, a gallon of strong beer being also provided for each guest. The excessive supply of liquor led, as might have been expected, to a general fight between the English and Irish parties amongst the labourers, who had always been on bad terms. The Irishmen, according to a reporter, attempted to take possession of a cart bringing up a fresh supply of “stingo”, and, being defeated in their attempt, ran off in a rage to their head-quarters in Marsh Street, whence they reappeared armed with shillelaghs. The Englishmen, equally


eager for the fray, having followed them up, the hostile camps met in Prince's Street, and a battle royal ensued immediately. As the civic guardians of the peace were ridiculously inadequate to meet the emergency, the “press gang”, a social institution already referred to, was called in to arrest the leaders of the two factions, and the tumult was suppressed. The new “Float”, eighty acres in extent, entirely removed the greatest defect of the port - the stranding at every ebb tide of the vessels awaiting discharge or loading, a test of strength which few ships save those built at Bristol were able to endure with impunity. The benefit conferred on local commerce by the dock was, however, in the opinion of some, outweighed by the extortionate dues imposed by the directors in their short-sighted and self-destructive efforts to realize large dividends for the shareholders. Complaints respecting this policy soon made themselves heard, and they increased from year to year; but, as will subsequently be seen, they long failed to produce the least effect upon the Board. No dividend on the share capital was paid until 1823.[7]

It has been already observed that the barbarity of the law in the reign of George III. afforded some excuse for the brutality which characterized the habits of the people. But for the indisputable testimony on which the following statements rest, they might well be deemed incredible by modern readers. In April, 1802, two women were executed at St. Michael's Hill gallows for infanticide. The bodies, according to the judge's sentence, were taken for dissection to the Infirmary, in an open cart, followed by an immense mob. Some of the surgeons were in attendance, and after the bodies had been at least partially stripped, a “crucial incision” was made in the breast of each, in the presence of as many of the rabble as were able to crush into the room. On the following day, at the request of the mayor and aldermen - who were present - the brain of one of the women was dissected and lectured upon by Mr. Richard Smith. The authority for this story is a manuscript note by Mr. Smith himself, who appears to have revelled in operations upon malefactors. Although somewhat out of date, another incident


relating to this gentleman may as well be added. In April, 1821, a man named John Horwood was hanged at the usual place, for the murder of a girl, and his body also fell into Mr. Smith's hands. The following tradesman's account is the first manuscript contained in a book in the Infirmary library:- “ Bristol, June, 1828. Richard Smith, Esq., Dr. to H.H. Essex. To binding, in the skin of John Horwood, a variety of papers, etc., relating to him, the same being lettered on each side of the book, 'Cutis vera Johannis Horwood', £1 10s.” Perhaps all that can be said in excuse for such an act is, that it had been surpassed in a neighbouring county a few years previously. According to the Bristol Journal of May 11, 1816, after a man named Marsh had been hanged in Somerset for murder, his body was flayed, and his skin sent to Taunton to be tanned.

At the general election in the summer of 1802, John Baker Holroyd, Lord Sheffield, who had represented the city during two Parliaments in the Whig interest, announced his intention to retire. He had been promised an English Peerage, to which he was promoted a few weeks later. Lord Sheffield gained much credit for his exertions in suppressing the riots in London in 1780, but he will be chiefly remembered by posterity as the correspondent and literary executor of Gibbon. Sir Frederick M. Eden, a supporter of the Addington Ministry, attempted to secure the vacant seat, but being unknown to the freemen, he met with a cold reception and speedily withdrew. The Whig party found a champion in Mr. Evan Baillie, ex-Colonel of the Bristol volunteers, and a wealthy local banker. Mr. Bragge was again the nominee of the Tories. There being no opposition, the two candidates were elected on the 5th of July.

A somewhat astonishing illustration of the character and conduct of ecclesiastical dignitaries in the Georgian era is afforded by an incident which occurred in the summer of this year. During some trivial reparations in the cathedral, the dean and chapter resolved that the lectern, which had been presented by a sub-dean in 1683, should be removed and sold as an inconvenience and obstruction. A firm of brass-founders was consequently called in, and the eagle, which weighed about the third of a ton, was disposed of as old brass at the rate of 9½d. per lb. The only person who appears to have been shocked by this procedure was a gentleman named William Ady, residing in St. James's, who rescued the eagle from the melting-pot by offering an advanced price. His attempt to awaken better feelings in the


chapter by proffering to return it for the sum paid down, proved, however, fruitless, and in August the lectern was advertised for sale by auction at the Exchange Coffee Room, Clergymen, churchwardens, and persons contemplating benefactions to their parish churches were especially invited to attend; but the advertiser, apparently dubious of finding a buyer in this direction, pointed out that “traders with foreign parts may find it worth their while to purchase, as a like opportunity may never occur again”. It was not until the scandal had reached this stage that Dean Layard and his colleagues thought fit to offer an explanation to the public. According to a brief statement published in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, the eagle, which “had not been used for many years”, had been removed simply to accommodate the congregation; and the authorities promised the introduction of “something in its stead of equal or greater value and ornament”. There is no evidence to show that this promise was ever performed. On the contrary, there is reason to believe that other articles, more especially two large candelabra that once stood on the communion table, disappeared about the same time. Churchmen, however, were almost as indifferent as the chapter. At the auction Mr. Ady could not get a bidder for the eagle, and he finally presented it to the authorities of St. Mary-le-port, on condition that it should be “placed in the chancel, there to remain for ever”. The conduct of the cathedral officials can scarcely have been approved by the citizens, but the only audible expression of censure is reported to have been uttered by one of the half-witted paupers then allowed to wander about the streets. Being rebuked by Dean Layard for disturbing the peace of the college precincts, the vagrant made an inquiry as to bird-stealers which effectually silenced the irritated dignitary.

Felix Farley's Bristol Journal of February 5, 1803, contains the following singular paragraph:- “On Saturday last, in order to decide a bet for 200 guineas which had been made dependent on his grace's presence there, the Duke of Norfolk dined with a party of gentlemen at what is commonly known in this city by the name of the stone kitchen, at the Rose and Crown, in Temple Street, where the evening was spent in the utmost conviviality and good humour”. From another paragraph in the same paper, it appears that the duke had been presented a short time previously with the freedom of the city by the Corporation. “Jockey of Norfolk”, as he was styled by his convivial contemporaries, had


for some reason a strong liking for the West of England, and especially for the city of Gloncester, of which he was elected mayor in 1798, afterwards becoming its recorder, lord high steward, and on two later occasions chief magistrate. His visit to the “stone kitchen” is said to have been brought about by one of his sporting friends in Herefordshire, who had been invited, daring a brief sojourn in Bristol, to one of the tripe and beefsteak feasts given every Saturday, for which the inn was famous. In despite of its name and locality, the place, which is said to have been occupied by a family named Sloper for nearly two centuries, until they died out in 1841, was the resort of several “well-seasoned” members of the Common Council and other leading citizens, amongst whom was the royal academician, Bird, who painted a large rose upon the ceiling of the “kitchen”.[8] In accordance with the terms of the wager, no alteration was made in the usual fare on the day of the duke's attendance, but his grace thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment, which indeed was congenial to his tastes, and is said to have “eaten like Ajax, and drunk with twenty-aldermanic power”. There is a further tradition recorded by an old contributor to the Bristol Times, namely, that the convivial nobleman, on his departure, was being conducted through a narrow alley which enabled visitors to avoid the front tavern, when his grace, whose size was proportioned to his gastronomic capacity, knocked over an oyster stall, and was objurgated by the choleric virago who owned it as a pot-bellied old brute. The duke, it is added, was profuse in his apologies, and assisted the angry dame in gathering up her stock-in-trade.

A sad incident, peculiar to the time, occurred one Sunday afternoon in March, 1808. On the previous night a large press-gang had scoured the city and seized upon upwards of two hundred able-bodied men, who were carried off to the “rendezvous”, or headquarters of the impressment service. On Sunday the gang, aided by a party of marine infantry, were conveying the unfortunate captives to Rownham, in order to their being shipped on board a frigate lying in Kingroad, when a mob attacked the guard in Hotwell Road, pelting the officers and soldiers with mud, stones, and broken bottles. Some of the marines, injured by the missiles, retaliated by firing into the crowd, with the effect of killing a boy. A woman was also shot in the breast, and a man had


an ankle fractured by a bullet. At the inquest on the boy, the jury, after bearing evidence as to the provocation offered by the mob, returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.

A musical festival, extending over three days, took place in Easter week. The morning performances were given in St. Paul's Church, and consisted of a selection from Handel's works, and the oratorios of “The Creation”, and “The Messiah”. Two miscellaneous evening concerts were given in the theatre. Mrs. Billington, “The British Syren”, was the leading vocalist, and excited general admiration.

War with France having again broken out in the summer, the Bristol volunteers, who had been disbanded with scant courtesy after the Peace of Amiens, forgot the affront, and were forthwith reorganised, a subscription of several thousand pounds being raised by the citizens in support of the movement. Owing to the arrogant language of Napoleon, and his stupendous preparations for invading England, the ardour shown in defence of the country rose to enthusiasm. It was at first proposed to enrol only 1,000 infantry volunteers, but 1,100 citizens pressed forward to join, and similar zeal was shown in volunteering for the local cavalry and artillery, the total number of effectives having soon reached 1,474. The following gentlemen were appointed as officers: Infantry - Colonel, Evan Baillie, M.P.; lieut.-colonels, William Gore and Thomas Tyndall; majors, Thos. Kington and Thomas Haynes; adjutant, Geo. Bradshaw; quarter-master, Stephen Cave; captains, G. Goldney, S.L. Harford, R. Vaughan, junr., Thos. Cole, Robert Bush, C. Payne, A.P. Collings, P. Baillie, J. Gordon, and J. Haythorne. Light horse - Major commandant, Henry Dupont; captains, Levi Ames, junr., Robert Kingsmill.[9] Artillery - Captain, W. Innis Pocock. Corps numbering about 200 each were also formed in Clifton, Westbury, and Bedminster, the two former being united in a battalion. In a short time more than 16,000 men were enrolled in Gloucestershire and Somerset - a notable fact when it is remembered that the entire population of the two counties was little more than half a million. In order to make use of the waterside community, a corps of about 150 Sea Fencibles was established, having its head-quarters at Pill. The commandant was Captain Sotheby, R.N. The Common Council voted 400 guineas towards the establishment of the various corps, and also offered £300 in bounties of £3 each to the


first hundred sailors who volunteered to enter the Royal Navy. Finally, Sir John White Jervis, then living in Clifton, undertook to raise at his own expense a volunteer rifle corps, two companies of which were soon organized. It may be observed in parenthesis that the land volunteers were exempted from service in the militia, then compulsory on persons capable of bearing arms, and that the pilots and watermen enrolled in the Fencibles secured protection against the ruthless press-gangs. The colours of the Bristol infantry were consecrated by the Rev. Sir A. Elton after a service in the cathedral; a “war anthem” being composed by the organist for the occasion. Telegraphs and beacons were erected on the principal hills of Somerset, Gloucestershire, and the neighbouring counties;[10] and the Duke of Cumberland, who had been appointed military commandant of the Severn district, visited the city to inspect the volunteers and to “fix on spots best calculated for the erection of batteries on the Avon”. The freedom of the city was presented to him on the occasion. A more lasting honour to a prince who was destined to be the most unpopular of his family, was the adoption of his name for the new tidal basin constructed a few years later at Rownham, in connection with the floating harbour. In October the “Royal Bristol Light Infantry” were engaged in guarding 500 French prisoners from Wells to Stapleton prison [now the Bristol workhouse]. These captives, who had marched from Plymouth, were followed from time to time by several thousand others consigned to the same place. In December a meeting was held in the Guildhall, at which General Tarleton, who had succeeded to the Duke of Cumberland's command, laid before the mayor (Mr. D. Evans), and other leading citizens, the defenceless state of the port in view of the threatened invasion. After a discussion, it was resolved to provide for the security of the harbour by gunboats, for the construction of which it was resolved to apply for an Act to raise £20,000, to be cleared off by a tax upon the citizens. This project, however, met with such decided disapproval at the parochial meetings which followed, that it was promptly abandoned. The volunteer regiments of each locality were called upon to perform permanent duty for a few weeks yearly, being generally quartered in some neighbouring town. During


this period the men received military pay. In September, 1804, when it was believed that a French landing might occur at any moment, it was arranged that the Bristol corps, on receiving a signal, should march on Burford, while the Somerset and Gloucestershire corps should be directed on Marlborough, measures being taken for the subsequent transport of the whole force eastwards by carts, to take part in the defence of London. Early in 1805, the city Guard-house in Wine Street, which had been for some years in a ruinous state, underwent a thorough repair in order to accommodate the garrison. About the same time the War Office entered into a contract for a magazine for 20,000 stand of arms, “to be erected in the Gloucester Road, without Lawford's Gate”. This building, locally known as the Armoury, has long disappeared, but its memory is preserved by the name of Annoury Square, given to the dwellings now standing on its site.

The Common Council was specially convoked in August, 1808, owing to a mournful event of an unusual character - the death of the mayor, Mr. Robert Castle, during his year of office. According to ancient precedent, the chair was taken by the senior alderman, Sir John Durbin, who announced the cause of the meeting. The quaint official minutes continue as follows:- “And the robes, swords, and other insignia belonging to the office of mayor, which the late mayor died possessed of, being laid upon the table in order to be disposed of to such person as should be elected”, three gentlemen were nominated, and David Evans was chosen. “Then the mayor-elect, there putting on his scarlet gown and the scarlet robe (always worn by the mayors of this city at their swearing), with the old sheriffs and the rest of the Common Council, also in their scarlet gowns, removed out of St. George's Chapel to the High Desk in the Guildhall”, where the oaths were administered by the mayor of the preceding year. “After which all the insignia were in the usual manner delivered to Mr. Mayor, who in the scarlet robes aforesaid was, with the sword and pearl scabbard borne before him, attended by the others of the Common Council (in their scarlet gowns) to the Council-house, where they separated”. Only four years later, the Corporation had again to regret the loss of its head, Mr. Henry Bright having died in November, 1807, in the second month of his mayoralty. Mr. Samuel Birch was appointed his successor in December, when the above ceremonies were repeated.

Puritanic views and practices respecting the sanctity of


the first day of the week lingered long amongst local guardians of order. Felix Farley's Journal of Feb. 2, 1804, contained the following paragraph:- “Several boys were on Sunday taken to Bridewell for playing in the streets in St. James's parish during the time of morning service”. In the following year the corporate accounts record a payment of £1 1s. 10d. “paid George Merrick, costs in prosecuting a man for prophaning the sabbath”.

Down to the year 1804, the only thoroughfare from Broad Street to Nelson Street, for foot-passengers as well as for vehicles, was the central archway under St. John's Church tower, now appropriated to carriages. Serious accidents were consequently of frequent occurrence. In March, of this year, the Corporation purchased a lease, granted by the feoffees of the parish, of the premises adjoining the west wall of the tower, and opened in 1805 what a contemporary journalist called a “noble” (though it was really a very mean) archway as a footpath for the public. In 1827, the parochial vestry resolved upon restoring the tower and removing the cistern attached to the south side of the church (the appearance of which is shown in plates in Mr. Seyer's and the Rev. J. Evans's histories), with the view of opening another footway on the east side of the tower. The entrance to the church, previously inside the great archway - as may still be seen from existing remains - was removed to the spot previously occupied by the cistern and fountain, and the latter was set up on its present site. While these alterations were in progress, the vestry memorialized the Common Council, pointing out that the gateway under the tower had been “for many years complained of as a great public nuisance, fraught with danger and difficulty from its extreme narrowness and the multitude of carriages and passengers passing through the same; and that by proper and adequate footways on each side of the tower the grievance would be greatly diminished”. To effect this, it would be necessary to take down the house abutting upon the west side of the tower, and the property being leased by the Corporation, the petitioners prayed that the Common Council would surrender its interests, in order that the site might be sold and the proceeds devoted to the improvement. The Corporation having assented, the building, which contained some window mouldings and other slight relics of the church of St. Lawrence (the roof, according to J. Evans, was remarkably perfect in 1824), was swept away. The alterations, which were generally approved, were finished in 1829.


In February, 1805, four habitual thieves, captured under peculiar circumstances, were committed to Newgate prison charged with a burglary in St. Augustine's parish. A local journalist wrote:- “They had converted a cavern in Cook's Folly wood, called St. John's Hole, into a kind of store-room, which was well supplied with bacon, cheese, etc., and were in the act of cooking when detected”. Crime was exceedingly prevalent about this time, and the Corporation had made the following payment only a few weeks before:- “Paid Wm. Gibbons, Esq., and Co., for 86 dozen hard Hand Cuffs for city use, £180 19s.”

Amongst the ill-advised fiscal laws passed during the struggle with the French, the tax on salt was probably the most oppressive and injurious. In seeking to lighten its severity on the poor, many of whom lived mainly on vegetables, and consequently consumed more of the condiment than the wealthy, Parliament resorted to singular devices. At the city quarter sessions in March, the justices, in compliance with the statute law, fixed the price of “rock salt, otherwise Bristol salt”, at fivepence per pound, and 1s. 4d. per quarter-peck. The penalty upon a tradesman charging a higher price was £20 for each offence. One conviction is recorded about the same date.

During the summer it was currently reported that George III., whose most extensive journeys had previously been to Cheltenham and Weymouth, intended to make a tour in the West of England. The Corporation was immediately on the alert, and Sir John Durbin, Alderman Noble, the two sheriffs, and the town clerk were sent off to London with an invitation to his Majesty to visit the city. If the king had ever contemplated a “progress”, however, he had changed his mind. The expenses of the deputation amounted to no less a sum than £282; but the details are unfortunately wanting. The religious delusions of a semi-lunatic Devonshire woman, named Joanna Southcott, attracted much attention about this time. Joanna had many enthusiastic followers, and probably some relatives, in Bristol. In 1805 and 1806 her “inspired writings” were advertised as on sale at “Mr. Southcott's, 69, Broad Quay”. Shortly afterwards her votaries announced that “there was a place in Bristol” where her inspirations “were publicly read and explained; which opens every Sunday evening at 6 o'clock and every Friday evening at 7”. Further information was to be had of “the expositor, the Rev. Samuel Eyre”. The place rented by the fanatics, at £25 a year, was a large room in


what has been called Colston's house in Small Street, then chiefly occupied by the printing office of the Mirror. Joanna died in 1814, and the discovery of imposture upon a surgical examination of her body so shook the faith of her Bristol admirers that the furniture of the room was seized for rent, and sold in the street. The more infatuated section of the Southcottites nevertheless retained the belief that their prophet would reappear; and the rent of the chamber was paid until 1854, when the death of Mr. Eyre, “of Stokes Croft”, put an end to the occupancy.

On Sunday, the 15th of Sept., 1805, the date fixed by the charter of Queen Anne, Mr. John Foy Edgar, a member of the Common Council, was elected mayor, but refused to accept the office, and was fined £400 for his contumacy. The fine was paid, although the refusal may have been due to the declining fortunes of Mr. Edgar, who had twice filled the then costly office of sheriff. In 1818, he relinquished his seat in the chamber, and was appointed sword-bearer. Mr. Edgar, who was descended maternally from Sir Robert Cann, a masterful mayor and member of Parliament occupying a conspicuous place in the city annals, was of a different stamp from the ordinary ruck of civic officials. Educated at Christchurch College, Oxford, he was found an acceptable acquaintance by young men of high social and intellectual position; and when the Earl of Liverpool and Mr. Canning paid a visit to Bristol, in 1825, they recognised and cordially saluted their old companion at the university - the Premier and his colleague, it is said, making offers of assistance which the fallen merchant was too proud to accept. Mr. Crabb Robinson, who visited Bristol in 1836, after recording in his diary a call upon Joseph Cottle, wrote:- “Here, too, was living a man I became acquainted with through Flaxman - Edgar, a man of accomplishments and taste. A merchant once enjoying wealth, he was the patron of Flaxman when little known. Adversity befell him, and then, though he was a Conservative, and the Radicals were in power,[11] they behaved, as he himself said, with generosity towards a political adversary, allowing him to retain the office of sword-bearer on terms more liberal than could have been required. He was an F.S.A., and possessed an unusual degree of antiquarian knowledge”.

It would appear that the Common Council found it


impossible to fill the civic chair except by promising to increase the salary attached to it. At all events, Mr. Daniel Wait had no sooner been elected in the place of Mr. Edgar, than the sum annually granted to the mayor, which had been increased from £1,200 to £1,500 in 1800, was further augmented to £2,000. Yet a twelvemonth after, Mr. Wm. Fripp refused the office, and was fined £500. Four years later, in 1810, Sir Henry Protheroe also paid the same fine rather than accept the chief magistracy, and indicated the cause of his refusal by giving notice of a motion for raising the salary to £2,500, to which amount it was actually advanced in September, 1813. Two gentlemen, Levi Ames, junr., and W. Inman, had declined the costly honour in 1811, and paid a fine of £500 each.

Intense public emotion was caused in November by the naval victory of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson at the moment of his greatest triumph. On the occasion of the national thanksgiving, in December, the collections made on behalf of the Patriotic Fund at the places of worship in the city amounted to over £1,000. The largest gifts were made at St. James's and St. Paul's Churches and Lewin's-mead Chapel,[12] each of these collections slightly exceeding £100.

On the 20th of February, 1806, the ironwork of the bridge intended to carry the Bath road over the new course of the Avon suddenly collapsed when it was on the point of completion. Two of the workmen were mortally injured. The art of iron bridge building being then in its infancy, the faultiness of the design escaped attention, and the bridge was rebuilt on the original plan. As had frequently been predicted, it fell a second time, many years later (see March, 1855).

The account books of the Corporation for the month of March contain the following item, which is eloquent enough to speak for itself:- “Paid John Noble, Esq., for wine sent as a present to the High Steward, members in Parliament, and Recorder, by order of Common Council, £295 9s.” The gifts, which were made every year, consisted of a butt of sherry to the two members, another to the Lord High Steward, and a hogshead to the Recorder. The fortunate purveyor, “John Noble, Esq”, was one of the aldermen of the city, and a Whig, as were the majority of the municipal body at that date. Mr. Noble was appointed one of the


Auditors of public accounts during the ministry of Lord Grenville (1806), and afterwards lived in London, but retained his aldermanic gown until his death in 1828.

The foundation-stone of the left wing of the Infirmary was laid in June by Mr. E. Protheroe. Prior to commencing the work the committee had collected a fund sufficient to provide for the cost of the building, and had also obtained by a public subscription the sum of £10,500, which was invested as an endowment for maintaining the new wards. For some inscrutable reason, the whole of the Infirmary buildings were painted black, and presented a most lugubrious appearance. Prince Puckler Muskau, who visited the city in 1828, noted the fact with astonishment, and compared the place to “an enormous mausoleum”. It was not until more than thirty years later that the doleful aspect of the institution was removed at the expense of Mr. H.A. Palmer.

A bill for amending previous local Acts relating to the sewerage, cleansing, paving, and lighting of the city, received the royal assent during the parliamentary session of 1806. For several years previous to this date, the Corporation was looked upon by the ratepayers with extreme distrust, and every effort made to extend its powers over the citizens had been obstinately resisted. On the present occasion the Common Council, in order to carry a bill unquestionably desirable, proclaimed its willingness to delegate the powers of the statute to a body of commissioners. This announcement was received with as much approval as surprise; but upon looking into the matter, the citizens found that the concession was rendered delusive by a provision under which the Corporation retained its predominance under disguise. The bill provided that the ratepayers of each parish should nominate ten persons, from whom the Council were to select two at their discretion - an arrangement by which the authorities doubtless expected to eliminate all who were likely to be critical or hostile. An influential body of ratepayers, acting as parochial delegates, combined to oppose this clause; but the corporate officials, after promising to delay the measure until the objectors had laid their case before Parliament, pushed the bill through its final stages, and then coolly laughed at their dupes. The latter held an indignation meeting to denounce the conduct of the authorities and protest against the blow struck at the rights and interests of the citizens; but the triumph of the Corporation was not the less complete, the commissioners being always the subservient instruments of the Common Council. A


sum of £2,280 in consols, being the surplus of the trust for repairing and lighting Bristol Bridge, was handed over to the new body, which continued to exercise its functions as a highway board, and to levy rates throughout the ancient city until so late a date as 1851, when it was superseded by the adoption of the Health of Towns Act by the Council.

The short-lived Whig Ministry of 1806 succeeded in passing through Parliament a bill for the suppression of the inhuman slave-trade between Africa and the West India colonies. The measure was opposed by Mr. Bathurst, one of the members for Bristol, where the trade had flourished exceedingly during the previous century. Public opinion, however, had nearly brought about its extinction, a paper in the Monthly Magazine for May, 1799, observing that it was “just expiring” in Bristol; and Mr. Protheroe, M.P., stated that when the Act passed not a single slaver hailed from the port. A reference to Clarkson's work on the subject will prove that the conversion of local merchants had been remarkably rapid. Slavery was even recognised in England. In Sarah Farley's Bristol Journal for Jan. 9, 1768, was the following advertisement:- “To be sold, a healthy Negro Slave, named Prince, 17 years of age, 6 feet 10 inches high, and extremely well grown. Enquire of Joshua Springer, in St. Stephen's Lane”. So late as Dec. 8, 1792, a local journal reported that a wealthy citizen had just sold a “black servant girl, who had been many years in his service”, into perpetual bondage, and that the price of the unhappy woman, who was shipped to Jamaica, was £80, colonial currency. When she “put her feet into the fatal boat at Lamplighters' Hall, her tears ran down her face like a shower of rain”.

The three election contests in 1780, 1781, and 1784 were long remembered for their extreme costliness. In 1780, the Prime Minister, with the consent of George III., contributed £1,000 from the king's private purse with the object of defeating Burke and his Whig colleague, Cruger. This gift was but a drop in the bucket, however, and in 1781, upon the death of one of the successful Tory members, the local leaders, exhausted by the previous struggle, made an earnest appeal for further assistance, and secretly received £5,000 from the royal bounty. About the same time the king's income was drawn upon to the extent of £2,000 on behalf of the Tory party in Gloucestershire (see “Correspondence of George III. and Lord North”, vol. ii., p.425). The still more expensive struggle in 1784 ended in a drawn battle, each side


returning a candidate, and the rival camps appear to have thereupon mutually agreed to avoid further conflicts upon the basis of a divided representation. Thus for many years there was not even the semblance of a struggle. A general election took place in October, 1806, when Mr. Bathurst, the Tory nominee, and Colonel Baillie, the representative of the Whigs, were re-elected. Parliament was again dissolved in the spring of 1807, and as the old compromise remained in force, Mr. Bathurst (who had just been appointed Master of the Mint) and Colonel Baillie were nominated for the third time. The intended unanimity of the proceedings at the Guildhall, on the 5th of May, was, however, interrupted by a man named Henry Hunt, who had recently started a “Clifton genuine beer brewery”, at Jacob's wells, and who afterwards obtained national notoriety for his demagogic oratory in support of annual parliaments and universal suffrage. Hunt presented himself on the platform to propose Sir John Jervis, a popular lawyer, and afterwards Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; but the sheriff's refused to accept the nomination, on the ground that its proposer was neither a freeholder nor a free burgess of the city. During the chairing of the members. Hunt's followers, who had on the previous night demolished the windows of the Council House and White Lion Hotel, pelted Mr. Bathurst so vigorously with mud and sticks that he was forced to leave his gilded car and beat a retreat. Another attack was being organized against his hostelry, the White Lion, when Hunt successfully diverted the attention of the mob by offering to distribute two butts of beer at his brewery. In the evening, the windows of the Council House and the neighbouring hotel were again assailed by a drunken crowd.

A new hotel was opened during the summer in a large mansion in College Place, for many years the residence of Alderman Noble. The opening dinner of “Reeves's Hotel” took place on the 25th of June, the mayor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Richard Vaughan, presiding. The company, twenty-two in number, consisted chiefly of aldermen and common councillors, and the bacchanalian powers of the party may be judged from the “wine bill” drawn up by the chairman, and religiously preserved by Mr. Reeves.[13] The items were as follows:- Dinners, at 25s., £27 10s.; 12 bottles of sherry, at 5s. 6d., £3 6s.; 12 bottles of port, at 6s., £3; 12 bottles of hock, at 10s. 6d., £6 6s.; 20 bottles of claret, at 11s., £11;


with 6 bottles of champagne (paid for by the mayor). The total was sixty-two bottles for twenty-two persons, Mr. Reeves, who was famous as a caterer, made a fortune of £20,000 before retiring from business.

The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duke of Sussex, having arrived at Berkeley Castle during a short tour in the West, his royal highness responded to an invitation of the Corporation by paying a visit to Bristol on the 6th of October. Attended by his brother, his noble host, and a numerous party of friends, he entered the city by Park Street, and was conducted by the sheriffs, Sir H. Protheroe and Mr. Haythorne, to the Mansion House, amidst the usual tokens of rejoicing. An address was there presented, in which the Corporation assured the prince that while they contemplated the blessings they enjoyed under the paternal reign of his father, “the true principles of greatness which adorn the character of your royal highness encourage us to hope in the prospect of their continuance”. A suitable reply having been made, the prince was presented with the freedom of the city in a gold box. The royal visitor explained that his entrance into the city in a close carriage - which, says the reporter, had greatly disappointed the spectators, and especially the fair sex - was due to his suffering from a swelled face, and he then condescended to inspect the guard of honour in front of the house, and to show himself to the populace. Having partaken of a sumptuous banquet at the Merchants' Hall, the royal party left for Berkeley, the visit having lasted about four hours. The entertainment cost the city £1,225. The Duke of Sussex also received the freedom of the city shortly afterwards, and a similar compliment was conferred upon the Duke of Gloucester in the following year. The small dome surmounting the tower of All Saints' Church, - a grotesque whim of churchwardendom in the previous century, - having become dilapidated, was replaced in January, 1808, by the existing structure, which is not less incongruous with a Norman fabric than was its predecessor.

On the 25th March, 1808, a double duel took place amongst four of the French war prisoners at Stapleton, two of whom were mortally wounded. A verdict of manslaughter against the two survivors was returned by the coroner's jury; but at the Gloucester assizes in the following month they were acquitted. In July, 1809, another fatal duel took place in the prison. Two of the captives, a naval and a military officer, quarrelled over a game of marbles, by which they were seeking to beguile the dreary monotony of the place.


whereupon a duel was arranged to come off in the chapel. Ordinary weapons being of course out of their reach, the antagonists fought with sticks, to the ends of which they had contrived to fix sharp pieces of iron, and one of the men was mortally injured. The coroner's inquest resulted in a verdict of wilful murder against the other; but at the ensuing summer assizes at Gloucester the jury acquitted the prisoner, who, it was deposed, acted in self-defence. A contemporary local newspaper stated that not less than 150 duels had been fought amongst the prisoners, averaging about 5,500 in number, during the previous three years. Owing to the enforced idleness of the unhappy men, gaming became a passion amongst them; and it was not uncommon to find a prisoner reduced to nakedness through wagering away the clothes upon his back.

An additional butcher market in Nicholas Street was opened on the 25th of June, 1808. The building had cost the Corporation upwards of £5,000.

Tne local journals for the early weeks of September contained an advertisement of the intended sale by auction, by order of the mayor (Mr. S. Birch) and the other surveyors of the city lands, of “the materials of Temple Gate, now standing at the top of Temple Street”. This step was determined upon in consequence of a petition addressed to the Common Council by residents in the neighbourhood, setting forth that the gate was very narrow and ruinous, a great impediment to traffic, as well as dangerous and inconvenient, and that its removal would considerably improve the street. Strangely enough, none of the newspapers appear to have noticed the sale itself, nor the destruction of a building which, though neither ancient nor beautiful, was still identified with the history of the city. From the diary of a citizen published in the Times and Mirror (March 15, 1884), it appears that the materials were bought by a Mr. Wilmot, carpenter, for £107. The city arms were on the outside of the gate, and the royal arms on the inside. The structure was removed shortly afterwards, much to the convenience of public traffic. In September, 1869, workmen came upon some remains of the gate, or possibly of its predecessor, when excavating the foundations of the bridge connected with the harbour railway.

A proposal to establish a Commercial Coffee Room, on the pattern of Lloyd's Coffee Room in London, was circulated during the autumn of this year. The project having been favourably received, a meeting was held in November, the


major (Mr. J. Haythorne) in the chair, when it was stated that £10,000 would be required to carry out the undertaking in a manner worthy of the city. The value of the shares was fixed at £20 each, and a subscription having been started, the entire sum was guaranteed within twenty-four hours. A design by a Mr. Busby having been selected, the foundation stone of the building was laid in March, 1810, by Mr. George Dyer, treasurer, in the presence of most of the leading citizens. The rooms, which cost about £17,000, were opened in September, 1811, when the original title was altered, the word “coffee” being suppressed. The number of members at the outset was about 500, but they increased in a few months to over 600.

A heavy snowstorm occurred early in the year 1809. Being followed by an unusually rapid thaw, the greatest flood ever remembered took place in the valleys of the Avon and the Froom, and caused great damage in the city. The water spread over large portions of Newfoundland, Gallowhill, Milk, King, and Merchant Streets, St. James's Back, and Broadmead, some houses being inundated to the depth of six feet. Provisions had to be conveyed to imprisoned families by means of boats. A temporary bridge over the Float, for use whilst the drawbridge was under repair, was carried away, some passengers having a narrow escape.

Up to this time both of the assembly rooms established in Clifton for balls and entertainments were in the neighbourhood of Dowry Square, which, through the increasing number of residences on the brow of the hill, was ceasing to be patronized by fashionable visitors. The need of a suitable public building in a commodious situation had been recognised in 1792, when a scheme was started to build an assembly room and hotel by means of a tontine, but the project collapsed. Having been revived, the foundation stone of the Mall Assembly Rooms, to which a new hostelry, to be called the Clifton Hotel, was to be attached, was laid in the spring of 1806. In January, 1809, the structure, which was of an imposing character, and occupied the whole east end of the Mall, was roofed in, when, says a contemporary diarist (Times and Mirror, March 15, 1884), “the proprietors had an ox roasted whole, and gave it to the populace”. The Assembly Room was opened in November, 1811, with the most brilliant ball ever known in Clifton. A room attached to the York Hotel (on the site of Clifton Down Hotel) which had occasionally served for balls, was rarely used after this date.


A fatal duel took place in a field near the Montagu Hotel on the 1st of March, 1809, and caused a lively sensation in the district. The parties, who, it was reported, had quarrelled at the theatre, were Mr. Henry Smith, attorney, a member of an old Bristol family, and Mr. Richard Priest, a tailor in Clare Street. The latter was mortally wounded in the thigh, and died within a few hours. [The account of the affair given in the local newspapers does not occupy half a dozen lines.] Smith fled to Portugal, but surrendered at the assizes in April, 1810. No indictment, however, was presented against him, and after being arraigned upon the verdict of the coroner's jury, a convenient informality was found in the document, upon which he was at once discharged.

In consequence of the occupation of Spain by the armies of the French emperor, and the enormous destruction of sheep by the foreign invaders, Spanish wool, which had previously formed one of the largest imports into Bristol, rose in this market to wholly unprecedented prices. The highest rate known before the war for fine Spanish wool was 6s. 9d. per lb.; but at a sale in the Exchange Coffee Room in the spring of 1809, Mr. Lane, a broker, disposed of a lot at 20s. 6d. per lb. A few days later, a cloth manufacturer of Wotton-under-Edge offered 21s. per lb. for a parcel, which was refused. One large transaction took place at 30s. per lb.; but the purchaser, discovering that he had been deceived by false representations, forced the vendors to return him a considerable sum. Some flocks of merino sheep were afterwards brought from the Peninsula, and sold at exceedingly high prices on being landed at Shirehampton. The Spaniards, through carelessness and blundering, subsequently allowed Germany to wrest from them the supremacy they had long enjoyed in the fine wool trade; and Bristol suffered much by the loss of this branch of her commerce.

One of the earliest railways, if not actually the first, projected in the West of England, was a proposed line to connect the Bristol with the English Channel. The promoters, whose scheme is mentioned in the Bristol Gazette of October 18, doubtless contemplated the laying down of a horse tramway, similar to the colliery lines then common in Northumberland; but the severe financial exigencies of the war rendered the project abortive.

Notwithstanding the gloomy condition of British affairs, international as well as domestic, the commencement of the fiftieth year of the reign of George III. was celebrated on


the 23rd of October with much rejoicing. A triumphal arch was erected in Corn Street near St. Werburgh's Church, under which the mayor and members of the Corporation passed in procession on their way to the mayor's chapel. Large congregations also attended divine service in the various places of worship. Subsequently, as the result of a liberal subscription, to which the Corporation contributed £220, distributions of meat, etc., were made to several thousand poor people, the children in the endowed schools were treated with cake and wine, and about twenty miserable debtors were liberated from Newgate. In the evening a gigantic bonfire was lighted on Brandon Hill, and lighted tar-barrels were kicked about in Corn Street. A more permanent memorial of the king's “happy reign” was devised in St. Paul's parish, the foundation-stone of an obelisk being laid during the day in Portland Square, in the presence of the volunteer corps of the city and neighbourhood. In the following April the obelisk was superseded by what the newspapers termed “a very fine statue of his Majesty”, the pedestal of which bore an inscription expressive of the gratitude of the subscribers for “the blessings enjoyed under the best of kings”. The size of the figure is not recorded, but the editor of the Gazette asserted that in point of execution it was equal to the work of “Plaxman and Nollekens”. On March 23, 1813, the night after one of “Orator Hunt's” demagogical performances on one of the brazen pillars at the Exchange, a party of eight or ten men entered the inclosure in Portland Square and flung down the statue, which was so much injured that it was never replaced. One of the perpetrators of this act was sentenced, at the ensuing quarter sessions, to twelve months' imprisonment.

The death of the Duke of Portland, then Prime Minister, in 1809, caused a vacancy in the office of Lord High Steward of Bristol. The Common Council, in March, 1810, appointed as his successor another eminent statesman, Lord Grenville. The new High Steward visited the city in May, 1811, and was magnificently entertained by the Corporation on being presented with the freedom of the city, the outlay, as shown by the civic accounts, being no less than £1,396. Many prominent citizens were excluded from this banquet because of their Tory principles, much to the discredit of the ruling party in the Corporation. Lord Grenville was also present at a banquet given by the Whig Club. Another guest at the latter feast was the Duke of Norfolk, the eccentric gastronome already referred to [p.19], who was toasted as “our


friend and fellow-citizen”. Lord Grenville held the office of Lord High Steward until his death, in 1834.

Shortly after the appointment of Lord Grenville, the Whig party in the Common Council lost its predominance. Some old Whigs, following the example of Burke, had previously changed sides, but the final defeat of the party in the civic chamber seems to have been due to the reckless conduct of its leaders, who lost the sympathy of the younger Whigs out of doors. A strong feeling had grown up amongst the citizens that the revenues of the Corporation, instead of being squandered in useless pomp, should be made subservient to purposes of public utility. The Corporation, on the other hand, showed a disposition to devote a continually increasing amount on enjoyments monopolized by themselves and their friends. The advance in the mayor's salary to £2,000 at a time of much national distress has been already recorded. The proceeding was followed by similar liberality towards the sheriffs, who had been previously allowed £420 each. This amount was found to be far from adequate to meet the expenditure on dinners, etc., expected from the functionaries in question; and when a gentleman was patriotic enough to serve the office twice, it became the custom to allow him a larger honorarium. In 1808, Sir Henry Protheroe was granted £974 12s. 3d., and Mr. J. Haythorne £840 on this account; they subsequently got a further vote of £84 between them, being the cost of a piece of plate presented by them to the mayor (H. Bright), who died during the municipal year. In 1811, the sheriffs' salaries were raised to £630 each; yet one of the functionaries of that year, W. Inman, was thought deserving of £213 18s. 4d. additional, for having served a second time. Adding to the salaries of the mayor and sheriffs the expenditure on the Mansion House, about £1,000 per annum, it appears that fully a fourth of the civic income was expended on display and feasting at a period when the mass of the inhabitants, in common with the country at large, were suffering under the burdens and misfortunes of the long struggle with the French emperor. The effect on public opinion in the city was manifested when it became necessary to fill vacant seats in the Common Council. Although a fine of £300 was imposed on gentlemen refusing to accept office after being elected, the repudiations became numerous after 1805. Five years later the difficulty assumed a form which strikingly illustrated the disgust of intelligent lookers-on. In August, 1810, upon the death of two common councillors, Messrs. J.B. Bence and


J. Thomson were elected, but they both refused to serve, and were fined. Messrs. W. Dowell and B. Bush were next chosen, only to pursue the same course. Messrs. J. Fowler and J. Vaughan were thereupon elected, and the former took his seat. Mr. Vaughan refused, and the gentleman elected to succeed him, Mr. G. Hill, refused also. At this point another councillor died, and fresh efforts were made to fill the two vacancies. Remembering that the Corporation was one of the wealthiest and most distinguished in the kingdom, it is not a little significant that fourteen gentlemen were successively appointed and successively paid the fine rather than accept what was once regarded as an honour. Their names were J. Cave, J. Sutton, Tim. Powell, C. Saunders, G. Thome, J.B. Lucas, J. Hurle, Jos. Powell, T. Stock, Jer. Hill, W. Dowson, J. Nicholas, Gr. Gibbs, and T. Hellicar. Finally, after a delay of two years, two gentlemen were found willing to accept the equivocal distinction - Messrs. George and Abraham Hilhouse. They were supposed to be Whigs by Alderman Bengough, who was then all-powerful in the Corporation; but a few months after their election they joined the Tory camp, which by their help obtained a majority, and Alderman Daniel, its leader, a strong-willed disciplinarian, gradually obtained so complete a predominance in civic affairs as to be styled by his admirers the “King of Bristol”. Bad as had been the system of local government, the change of autocrats cannot be said to have wrought any improvement. In 1812, at the close of the shrievalty of Messrs. E. Brice and B. Bickley, who had served twice, they were awarded £1,687 16s. 8d., as well as a further sum of £150, the fee paid to a barrister for acting as their assessor during the first election of that year. In 1813, the salary of the mayor was increased to £2,500, and in 1816, Sir W.J. Struth was voted £3,346 for his second term of office.[14] A few years later, as will be seen hereafter, the extravagance of the new regime, maintained as it was by crushing imposts on the trade of the port, excited a fierce storm of indignations amongst the leading Tory merchants, and the mayor's allowance was reduced (doubtless with much unwillingness) to £2,000. Returning for the present to the difficulty experienced in recruiting the Council, a remarkable resolution was adopted


in June, 1818, at the instance of the mayor (Mr. E. Castle), who moved that application be made to the Crown for a supplementary charter to the Corporation, empowering them to augment the fine for refusing to serve the office of mayor, alderman, sheriff, or common councillor, to any sum not exceeding £2,000, exemption being granted only to persons willing to swear that they were not worth £8,000. It was thereupon ordered that proper measures should be forthwith adopted for obtaining such powers; but the only further reference to the subject in the records is a payment to the city solicitors of £51 17s. “for the intended new charter”, after which the project was abandoned owing to the determined opposition of influential citizens of both political parties. For some years Alderman Daniel appears to have easily obtained new adherents, a result probably due, in some measure, to the system of admitting freemen which was adopted under his rule. In the early years of the century the fee imposed on “foreigners” - that is, men not free burgesses - on taking up the freedom averaged about 15 guineas. But in 1815 the fee of Mr. Joseph Reynolds (son of the philanthropist) was fixed at £84. Shortly after, Mr. R. Blakemore, Mr. George Grenfell, and Mr. C. Hare were severally required to pay £105 before their admission. On the other hand, the fees demanded from Mr. Gabriel Goldney, Mr. C.L. Walker, Mr. C. Pinney, and Mr. F. Savage, who all became town councillors, and were elected mayors (the last named refused the chief magistracy), were reduced to 12 guineas. Towards the close of the reign of George IV., when the Corporation had become, if possible, more unpopular than ever, it again became difficult to induce leading citizens to enter the Common Council.[15] Several gentlemen paid the fine rather than serve; and seven seats were vacant in December, 1829, of which only three could then be filled. The Whig element in the chamber had by that time dwindled away to insignificance; but Alderman Daniel was sagacious enough to prevent its entire extinction, and could easily afford to grant it an occasional recruit.

Great popular discontent, arising partly from the distressed state of industry and partly from the repressive measures adopted by the Government, existed in the spring of 1810. The feeling was much exasperated by the arrest of Sir Francis Burdett - a refined “Orator Hunt” - for expressions


that in later days would pass without remark, and by the shooting down of several persons in the streets of London whilst the frothy baronet was being conducted to the Tower. Unfortunately the protests of the people against arbitrary rule too often assumed a violent character. On the 16th of April, 1810, the day fixed for opening the assizes, Sir Vicary Gibbs, the Recorder (who, as Attorney-General, had made himself highly unpopular by his informations against the press), was received by the populace on his entry into the city with groans and hisses; and in the evening, whilst he was being entertained at the Mansion House, the windows were destroyed by stones amidst shouts of “Burdett for ever; no Tower!” The mob afterwards visited the Council House and Guildhall, where the windows were also demolished. In fact, but for the action of the authorities, disasters similar to those of 1881 would probably have occurred. On this occasion, however, the danger was faced with a courage and firmness which should have been an example twenty-one years later. The Bristol Gazette eulogizes “the temperate and dignified behaviour of the mayor and aldermen, who went among the people and reasoned with them on the impropriety of their conduct”; and praise is rendered to “the spirited exertions of a number of gentlemen who volunteered as constables”, these combined efforts being successful in suppressing the disturbance.

At this assize, Sir Henry Lippincott, bart., a somewhat debauched representative of the old Bristol family of Cann, was arraigned upon a charge of felonious assault upon a woman, whom he was alleged to have decoyed from the cathedral. Sir Vicary Gibbs summed up strongly in his favour, and the jury returned a verdict of acquittal. In another case two men, one of them a sheriff's officer, were convicted of a disgusting offence, and were sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and to stand in the pillory in Wine Street. The latter part of the sentence was carried out a few days later, when one of the men, according to the contemporary diarist already referred to, “was very near being killed”.

It would require a vivid imagination on the part of any one now traversing the Pithay and the sordid neighbouring thoroughfares lying between Broadmead and Tower Lane, to represent to himself the locality as a place of public recreation and fashionable resort. No more singular testimony of the local changes effected by time could well be adduced than is to be found in an advertisement published in the Bristol papers in May, 1810, announcing the sale of


twenty-nine void old houses in the Pithay and Bowling-green, in the parish of Christ Church. Amongst the lots were “the timber and materials of the Old City Assembly Room, situated in the Bowling-green aforesaid”, and “the timber and materials of the Old City Assembly Room Tavern” in the same place. Both those buildings had been last in the occupation of a basket-maker. The property belonged to All Saints parish, which afterwards disposed of the ground - now occupied by Wellington Street and All Saints Street.

The advantages of Weston-super-Mare as a watering-place appear to have dawned upon a speculative innkeeper about this time. In July, 1810, an advertisement in the Bristol newspapers announced that an hotel had been opened in that village for the accommodation of bathers. The house was stated to have about forty bedrooms, so that it could have sheltered, on an emergency, the entire population of the parish, which contained less than forty families. The enterprise came speedily to ruin; in about nine months the hotel-keeper failed, and the furniture was dispersed by auction. The fact was, that the mercantile and trading classes had not yet acquired a taste for the seaside. Their utmost desire in that direction appears to have been a stroll or sail towards the mouth of the river. From an advertisement published in June, 1810, it seems that Lamplighters' Hotel - a house built about half a century before by one Swetman, an oilman of Small Street, out of his profits as a contractor for lighting several Bristol parishes by means of oil-lamps, who reared his hostelry in full view of the picturesque beauties of Pill - was in especial favour; the landlord stating that his house was “so much frequented on Sunday” that he was “under the necessity of engaging additional waiters from Bath”. “Ordinary every Sunday at 2s.”. The Weston hotel does not appear to have been reopened until the summer of 1814, when a couple of coaches commenced plying to and from Bristol “every Saturday during the season”.[16]

One or two aerial ascents by means of the Montgolfier system of heated air had been made in Bristol a quarter of a century previous to this date. The announcement by a Mr. Sadler, in September, of a balloon which was to be raised by hydrogen gas, was deemed still more astonishing, and nearly 20,000 of the inhabitants thronged to the Assembly


Room to see the “machine”. On the appointed day, almost the whole population, and many thousands from the suburban villages, flocked to Stokes Croft and the adjoining high ground to witness the marvel. Coal gas being still in the future, the cost of providing the needful supply of hydrogen was considerable, upwards of three tons of iron filings and a proportionate quantity of sulphuric acid being placed in twenty-five large casks. The arrangements, however, were satisfactorily carried out, and the balloon arose about the time appointed, amidst the firing of cannon and the applause of the spectators, not a little astounded at the spectacle. The voyage of the two aeronauts, Mr. Sadler and a citizen named Clayfield, proved of a highly perilous character. The balloon sailed down to near Woodspring Priory, when it crossed the Channel to Cardiff; then it was again driven over the sea, nearing both shores alternately, till it approached the coast of Devon, where a large escape of gas caused it to descend rapidly, until the car floated on the water, four miles from land. After remaining three-quarters of an hour in this perilous plight, the voyagers were happily rescued by a boat from Lynmouth.

In December of this year the Kennet and Avon Canal, completing the water communication between Bristol and London, was opened for traffic. The canal had been originally proposed so long ago as 1661; but bills for its construction were frequently rejected by Parliament, owing to the vehement opposition of the landed interest and of the townspeople of Chippenham, Devizes, and other places, who declared that if corn, butter, and cheese reached the inland districts from the ports, the country markets would be destroyed, husbandry discouraged, the breed of horses deteriorated, and carriers and innkeepers ruined. The undertaking was eventually accomplished at a cost of a million sterling. The competition which it opened with the older Thames and Severn Canal was so disastrous to the latter concern that the original £100 shares were sold in 1814 for £1 each. The route of the link between the Kennet and Avon was not, however, well chosen, the summit level being 404 feet above the basin at Bath, necessitating the construction of seventy locks, exclusive of forty-four more on the rivers Thames, Kennet, and Avon. This obstacle greatly impeded traffic, and it was stated before a committee of the House of Commons, in 1834, that the average time required to pass goods from London to Bristol, even in fine weather, was seven days, while during frosts and floods there was generally a delay of a month, although


the distance to be traversed was only 150 miles. The Kennet and Avon Canal was transferred to the Great Western Railway Company in September, 1851.

In January, 1811, the Floating Harbour was frozen over for the first time, affording the citizens an unprecedented opportunity for recreation on the ice, of which numbers availed themselves. The frost continued for several days.

The second census of the kingdom was taken early in 1811, when the population of the “ancient city” was found to be 46,592. In the suburbs Clifton contained 6,984 (showing an increase of over 50 per cent. in the previous ten years); St. George's, 4,909; the District, 2,427; St. Philip's out parish, 10,702; and these, with Mangotsfield, 2,901, and Stapleton, 1,921, brought out a total of 76,483. Bedminster, excluded by the eccentric enumerator, had 4,577 souls. The increase over 1801 was greater in Bristol than in any provincial town except Liverpool and Manchester. In many towns, and notably in Newcastle and Hull, the population had diminished, owing to the effects of the war.

Nearly all the ports in Europe being at this time closed against English vessels, through the despotic influence of the French emperor, imports of grain became almost impracticable, notwithstanding the urgent demand for supplies owing to successive bad harvests at home. Bread therefore advanced to excessive rates, the average price throughout the year being 1s. per quartern loaf. Butter during the spring rose to 2s. 6d. per lb., which provoked a riot in the city markets, a mob of colliers and labourers seizing the farmers' baskets and selling the contents for 1s. a pound (though many of the purchasers re-sold the butter at 2s.). Finding that the attempt to regulate the price of bread made matters only worse, the magistrates abandoned the system during the summer. The harvest of the year was again disastrous, and bread advanced to 19s. 8d. per quartern loaf, causing terrible distress amongst the poor.

During the parliamentary session of this year an Act was passed for constructing a canal from Bristol - or rather from Pill - to Taunton. Although warmly supported for a time, the required funds were not forthcoming, and by an Act of 1823, the canal from Pill to the parish of Kenn was abandoned. The company were then constructing the canal between Taunton and Bridgwater.

The first attempt in Bristol to resort to coal gas for purposes of illumination was made this year by a Mr. Briellat, a dyer in Broadmead, who is supposed to have seen the gas


apparatus erected by Robert Murdoch, some years earlier, at the Soho works, Birmingham. The following advertisement appeared in the Bristol Gazette of the 6th of September:- “Lecture and Exhibition of the Gas Lights. J. Briellat respectfully informs the nobility, gentry, and public that he intends for a short time to exhibit every evening at his own house a specimen of the above interesting discovery, accompanied with a descriptive lecture, this present evening, Thursday, at 7 o'clock. For particulars see handbills. No. 56, Broadmead”. After having lighted up his shop, Mr. Briellat set up a few lamps in the street, thereby giving Bristol precedency over London in the use of gas for thoroughfares, the first experiment of the same kind in the metropolis being made at Westminster Bridge in 1812. It seems strange that the Bristolians who witnessed Briellat's success should have been reluctant to abandon their flickering and malodorous tallow candles; but for some time the Broadmead dyer passed amongst the vulgar as a man having unholy dealings with an infernal power, while the upper classes treated the innovation with contemptuous indifference. The aristocracy, indeed, were decidedly hostile to gas-lighting. In 1816, Lord Lauderdale, in the House of Peers, protested strongly against an invention which threatened to ruin the whale fisheries. Even some scientific men were not less opposed to the new system. When it was proposed to place gas lamps in the streets of London, Sir Humphrey Davy sneeringly asked whether the promoters were going to convert the dome of St. Paul's into a gasholder. It was not until 1816 that the Bristol Gas Company began operations, Mr. Briellat being engaged as manager. The views of the promoters must have been singularly modest, for the capital of the undertaking was fixed at £5,000; but great exertions were needed to raise even that paltry sum. A serious difficulty next arose with the Corporation. The company, after having erected a small gasometer near Temple Back, applied to the authorities for leave to lay pipes in the streets; but the Court of Aldermen (October, 1816) expressed grave apprehensions of danger from the proximity of the gasometer to the city depot of gunpowder (at Tower Harritz), and “considered it their imperative duty to withhold any measures being taken in the streets, the gasometer being in its present situation”. The obstacle having been, however, overcome by some means, a few shops were lighted up in May, 1817, and lamps were placed in the principal streets in the following December. In the same month, Lewin's Mead


chapel, the first public building in which the novelty found favour, was opened for evening service. In March, 1818, it was proposed to extend the gas pipes into the Commercial Rooms, where the annual cost of oil and candles was £140. As the new company asked £120 for the supply, however, the members of the rooms stuck to lamps and dips until 1825. Although the charge for gas was 15s. per 1,000 feet, the undertaking gradually won its way against prejudice, and the company was incorporated by an Act passed in 1819, the authorized capital being fixed in the statute at £50,000. Complaints were raised from time to time, and not without reason, against the offensive odour and the poor illuminating power of the new agent, the purification of which was then very defective; and in September, 1822, a rival establishment was started, styled the Bristol and Clifton Oil Gas Company, which undertook to produce a superior article. In spite of the vigorous opposition of the original company, the rival concern obtained an Act of Parliament in 1824, and, its capital of £30,000 having been subscribed, works were started near Limekiln Lane. The price of oil gas was 40s. per 1,000 feet; but its producers asserted, amidst the angry denials of the coal gas directors, that its illuminating power was four times greater than that of coal gas. Unfortunately for the rival establishment, the price of oil advanced considerably, and no dividend was paid for ten years. In 1835 it was admitted that the system of manufacture from oil was a failure; and an Act was obtained to permit distillation from coal, though not until severe restrictions had been imposed in the interests of the original company. Both concerns then reduced the price to 12s. per 1,000 feet, further concessions being made subsequently. The competition went on until 1853, when the undertakings were amalgamated under a new Act. By this time the apparatus for purification had greatly improved, and the rapid introduction of gas into houses brought in handsome profits, notwithstanding repeated reductions in price. In 1878 the company (whose capital had increased to £550,000) purchased forty acres of land near Stapleton Road, for the extension of their works. The first contract - for one-sixth of the buildings proposed to be constructed, was let for £80,000. It included a retort house capable of making a million cubic feet of gas daily, and a gasometer capable of storing 1¼ million cubic feet. The old works at St. Philip's and Limekiln Lane then yielded 5½ million cubic feet daily. The foundation stone of the new building was laid in March, 1879. On its completion, the


mains of the company were extended to Westbury, Shirehampton, and Avonmouth.

During the year 1811 water pipes were laid from Sion Spring to most of the houses in the neighbourhood, which had previously been supplied from it by means of water-carts. The spring was capable of yielding 88,560 gallons per day, and, as the quality was irreproachable, the owner was patronised by nearly every household within the range of his pipes. In 1845, during the Health of Towns inquiry, it was stated that 804 dwellings were thus supplied. The spring was soon afterwards purchased by the Bristol Water Company.

The practice of “stealing the common from the goose” was in great vogue during the early years of the century, when the landlords were rolling in wealth through the high prices occasioned by the continental blockade. Large tracts of commonable land in the parishes of Henbury and Westbury were inclosed this year under the provisions of an Act promoted by Mr. E. Sampson, solicitor, of Henbury, on behalf of himself and other landowners, who appropriated nearly the whole extent, with the utmost indifference to the claims of the resident labourers and of the public at large. Similar inclosures - for the most part unauthorised by Parliament - had been made in other suburban parishes, those in Clifton being especially obnoxious to Bristolians; but except a few timid grumbles in the newspapers, nothing was said or done in defence of public rights. In 1818 another Act swept into the hands of landed gentry a large extent of commonable land in the parishes of Long Ashton, Wraxall, Nailsea, and Bourton, and further extensive inclosures were made at Portishead, Dundry, and Almondsbury by subsequent statutes. Even before those “conveyances”, were effected, a writer in the Bristol Gazette of August 13, 1812, says:- “They who remember Ashton, Leigh, Westbury, Kingsweston, Clifton, and Stapleton twenty years ago, will need no description to recall to their minds the delightful and healthy walks now untrodden by vulgar feet - then open to the public for exercise or pleasure”.

An Act was passed this year for authorizing the cutting of a canal between Bristol and Bath, and the construction of works for supplying Bristol with water. The canal was to have been without locks, and the western terminus was intended to be in Temple Meads, adjoining the Floating Harbour. The proposed waterworks excited signs of life in a concern which had long lain dormant and forgotten - the old company


formed in the seventeenth century for supplying water from the Avon at Hanham. The local newspapers for June and July contained announcements of an intended sale by auction of “all the right, title, and privilege of the Bristol Waterworks Company to supply the inhabitants of Bristol with fresh water, granted to them by an Act passed in the reign of William III., and also all their leasehold land situate near Bristol, and a small piece of leasehold land near Hanham Mills”. A reservoir belonging to the company then existed at Lawrence Hill; but the supply of water had ceased for about half a century - it is supposed from want of funds to renew the pipes, which were formed of hollow trunks of trees. The projects authorized by the Act of 1811 were never carried out, and the land purchased for a depôt and warehouses at Temple Meads was bought by the Great Western Railway Company, and forms part of the site of the existing terminus.

The death was announced in October of the Rev. Charles Lee, who had been head-master of the Grammar School for forty-seven years. Having, when a young man, married the daughter of Alderman Henry Dampier, an influential member of the Corporation, his father-in-law induced the Common Council to remove the Grammar School from Bartholomew's Hospital, Christmas Street, to the large mansion in Unity Street belonging to the City School, the boys in the latter being sent to dwell in the unhealthy premises near the then open Froom. Mr. Lee is stated to have been a good classical scholar, and during the early years of his management the Grammar School was largely attended by the sons of respectable citizens. For a long period before his death, however, the institution “sank into disrepute”, to use the expression of a contemporary newspaper; and there is a tradition that for some years the head-master had only one pupil, commonly known as “Lee's chick”. In 1805 his friends in the Common Council endeavoured to induce that body to grant him a pension of £200, more than double his salary, but the proposal was rejected, as was another to the same effect in 1809. His death afforded the Corporation an opportunity of introducing regulations calculated to restore the school to its former popularity; but the recommendations made by a committee appointed to consider the matter were little adapted for such a result. The trust-deed of the founder, Nicholas Thorne, in 1561, declared that no charge was to be made for education other than fourpence on the admission of every scholar. This fee was raised in the reign of Charles II. to


five shillings. It was now determined to increase it to £4. By the regulations of 1666, each boy was required to pay ten shillings yearly for firing, and the same sum for sweeping the school. For these charges the committee recommended the substitution of a yearly fee of £6 6s., but the Common Council made no change under this head. The new master was permitted to take as many boarders and day scholars as he thought fit, and was left at liberty to fix his own terms for such pupils. The only other regulation worthy of notice was, that the scholars were, as under the old rules, to answer to their names at seven o'clock in the morning in the summer half year, and at eight o'clock in the winter months. The person chosen in March, 1812, for the post of headmaster, was the Rev. John Joseph Goodenough, who, like his predecessor, had married a daughter of a member of the Common Council, and who lost no time in converting the institution into a private high-class school. Fortified by a judgment of Lord Chancellor Eldon in the Highgate case, Mr. [afterwards Dr.] Goodenough refused to teach the “free” scholars, who were exclusively the sons of freemen, anything save Greek and Latin; and the natural, as it was the intended, effect was, to reduce the endowment to a sinecure. The complacent Common Council spent upwards of £220 in 1815, on the construction of a gallery in the mayor's chapel “for the Grammar-school boys”, in other words, for the head-master's private boarders, who were generally thirty-five in number. In 1820, in flagrant violation of the regulations, Dr. Goodenough was permitted to take a Church living in Buckinghamshire, his memorial for the leave of the Corporation asserting, with perhaps unintentional irony, that his acceptance of the incumbency “would not in any way interfere with the duties of his situation in this city”. In 1828, when the school - as a grammar school - was practically deserted, the Charity Commissioners addressed a letter to the Corporation on the state of the institution, with the effect of obtaining a reduction of the entrance fee to its original amount. The opportunity was taken, however, to shut out the sons of free burgesses living beyond the limits of the “ancient city”, and as the lowered charge was unaccompanied by any alteration in the system of teaching, it wrought no change in the condition of the school. How the abuse was remedied will be narrated at a later date.

Clifton churchyard having become much too small as compared with the population of the parish, a piece of ground near Bellevue - part of the site of an old quarry - was


obtained about the close of 1811, and was laid out as an additional cemetery.

Towards the end of 1811 the Assembly Rooms in Prince's Street[17] underwent considerable internal alteration, and were in the following year reopened under the name of the Regency Theatre. For some time the entertainments consisted chiefly of concerts, but during the summer it was announced that a Mr. Lawler, from London, having taken the management, a company had been engaged for pantomimes and burlettas, and a “prodigious expense” had been incurred to make the theatre worthy of public patronage. The first performance took place on the 24th of August; but Mr. Lawler's efforts were unsuccessful, and at the end of eight weeks the house was closed. A Mr. Clark became manager in November; and although he complained that he sustained heavy losses, the competition affected the receipts of the old theatre, which had now opened for the regular season. Alarmed at the attack upon their chartered rights, the proprietors and manager of the latter applied to the magistrates in January, 1813, and a warrant was issued against Clark under the old law placing stage-players under the category of rogues and vagabonds. The public, strongly resenting this proceeding, lent its patronage to the new enterprise. The law, however, could not be evaded, and the Regency shut its doors. When it was next noticed in the newspapers, in the following autumn, it had sunk to giving entertainments on the “musical glasses”.

The social condition of the Kingswood district,[18] early in the year 1812, is graphically illustrated in an address


published in the local journals by a committee of the respectable inhabitants. The document stated that robberies, burglaries, and other crimes were daily committed by an extensive combination of villains, who extended their ravages for miles around. “This scheme of enormity has been maturing for a long series of years, and whole families are dependent on this combination for their maintenance, and many hundreds of the younger branches are well known to be in training for the like purposes. Labourers are decoyed from employment and admitted into the society; great numbers of hucksters are in alliance with them, and the vendors of the [stolen] goods are seen passing with cartloads by night, none presuming to interrupt them”. The address goes on to say that many of the malefactors were known, but that the terrorism they exercised deterred honest persons from giving information, “and when it is recollected that thousands are connected, by receiving and vending the goods, it will not appear surprising that very few remain sufficiently virtuous or courageous to unite with us”. Appeals were therefore made to the citizens of Bristol and Bath for subscriptions to crush the gigantic conspiracy. Funds having been obtained, patrols were established in the district, which had a temporary effect in intimidating depredators. Nevertheless, throughout the severe distress which occurred during the winter of 1812-13, the number of robberies and burglaries in Kingswood exceeded anything before known. In 1813 the Wesleyan body, desiring to strike at the roots of the evil, started a school at Cock-road, in which locality seven-tenths of the children were found to be ignorant of the alphabet. Owing to lack of funds, however, the school for several years could not be kept open on week days. Improvement under such circumstances was necessarily slow. In August, 1814, a Bristol journalist compared the state of the honest population in and near Cockroad to that of loyal persons in some parts of Ireland. “They are frequently obliged to sit up all night with loaded muskets by their side to guard against assaults, depredations, and even murder”. An account follows of the firing of two guns into the bedroom of a constable who had been summoned to Gloucester assizes to give evidence against some captured ruffians. A few days later, when a gang of robbers was arrested, with a quantity of plunder in their possession, the constables were nearly killed by the friends of the thieves, who attempted to rescue them.

As the time drew near for the renewal of the East India


Company's charter, a movement sprang up in the leading provincial ports for the abolition of the monopoly so long enjoyed by the Company in the trade between India and this country. The mercantile interest in Bristol bestirred itself vigorously in the matter; and the Corporation, at a meeting in June, contributed £200 towards the subscription started for pressing the subject upon the attention of Parliament. The agitation was successful, an Act for throwing open the trade being passed in 1813. The first two Bristol vessels bound for Hindostan sailed in Aprils 1814, amidst various demonstrations of rejoicing. On the 27th of October, 1818, a ship arrived in Cumberland basin bringing the first East Indian cargo imported into Bristol. About 5,000 spectators greeted her appearance, and the bells rang merry peals when she passed into the Float. The hopes entertained of a large development of commerce in this direction were, however, disappointed. In August, 1862, when a vessel arrived with a cargo from Calcutta, it was stated in one of the local newspapers that no importation direct from India had been made into Bristol for twenty-five years.

Mr. Bragge Bathurst, M.P., obtained another ministerial promotion in June, 1812, being appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and a vacancy was thus created in the representation of the city. From some unexplained cause, the understanding which had long existed amongst local politicians was broken up, and as a costly struggle threatened to take place at the ensuing general election, Mr. Bathurst declined to offer himself for re-election. Three candidates presented themselves for the vacancy - Mr. Richard Hart Davis, M.P. for Colchester, who resigned that seat at the request of the Bristol Tories; Mr. Henry Hunt, the former brewer at Jacob's Wells, but now a blacking maker in London; and the well-known William Cobbett. The name of Cobbett was withdrawn, and the candidature of Hunt was merely the idle outcome of his vanity, the respectable Whigs holding aloof from him. With a recklessness that later days would deem criminal, Mr. Davis's friends set no limit to the corruption employed on behalf of their nominee, spending over £1,000 a day during the fortnight for which the poll was kept open. The numbers at the close of the voting were:- Mr. Davis, 1907; Mr. Hunt, 235. Owing to the floods of beer dispersed by the Tory committee, fights between the partisans of the rival candidates were almost continuous throughout the contest, and the city, was kept in a state of constant agitation. Hunt's mob, on the night of the first


day's poll, smashed the doors and windows of the Cooncil House, and then proceeded to Mr. Davis's residence, Mortimer House, Clifton, where similar destruction was committed. The military were called out, and in the confusion one man was killed and many wounded. It was deemed advisable to retain a guard of soldiers at the powder magazine at Tower Harratz until after the close of the polling. Amongst the items of corporate Expenditure caused by the conflict was one of £437, “paid to J.H. Wilcox, mayor”, expended in entertaining the military and peace officers, and for “beer for guards mounted in the city during the election”; a further sum of £158 4s. 6d. being reimbursed to the sheriffs, “what they expended for constables, etc”. The repair of the Guildhall and Council House windows cost £108 more. In October, the general election threatened to bring a renewal of disorder, and a large body of special constables was enrolled at an outlay of £516. Mr. Davis was again the nominee of the Tories. Mr. Baillie, the late Whig member having retired, Mr. Edward Protheroe came forward in the “old Whig” interest, whilst the progressive Whigs, or Reformers as they were beginning to be called, styled Mr. Protheroe a Tory in disguise, and nominated Sir Samuel Romilly, the distinguished lawyer. Finally, Mr. Hunt, whose hand was against all respectable parties and persons, offered himself as the champion of democracy. Owing to a coalition between Mr. Davis and Mr. Protheroe, or at least between the two political sections of the West India interest, which heartily concurred in detesting the anti-slavery principles of Romilly, the latter withdrew at the close of the ninth day's poll, when the numbers were: Mr. Davis, 2,895; Mr. Protheroe, 2,435; Sir S. Eomilly, 1,688; Mr. Hunt, 528. This was another costly contest. To insure success, the Davis and Protheroe parties were at the expense of placing about 1,100 freemen on the burgess roll, at an outlay of about £2,500. About 600 more freemen were entered by the Romilly party. [Amongst the total were seventy-five men who had obtained qualifications by means of marrying the widows of deceased freemen. It was said that many of these unions were merely colourable, the parties separating at the church doors.] In ordinary years the average number of burgesses taking up their freedom did not exceed fifty. Mr. Hunt petitioned against the two members, one of his leading points being that the payments for freemen were acts of bribery, the value of the freedom being considerable. In support of this contention before a committee of the House


of Commons, he showed that the mayors of the two preceding years had been paid £42 each out of the civic purse, “for not having nominated a freeman” during their official term, as they were entitled to do by ancient custom. [This item occurs in the civic accounts every year until the Corporation was reformed.] It was unquestionable that corruption had also extensively prevailed. Oxen ornamented with blue ribbons had been paraded through the streets, and every “blue” voter who claimed his “rights” had an allowance of fourteen pounds of beef, three quartern loaves (then selling at about 1s. 6d. each), and 7s. 6d, in money. Bludgeon men, styled constables, took possession of the entrance to the Guildhall on the nomination day, denying admission to all but their employers, partisans, and about 1,500 bludgeons, painted blue, were seen to be carried to the house of one of Mr. Davis's agents. It was alleged, moreover, that charity money had been corruptly dispensed by the parochial churchwardens, who were all active canvassers in the “blue” interest. The conduct of the Protheroe Whigs was not less demoralizing than that of their allies, and the printed evidence offers the reader a glimpse of Sir Henry Protheroe scattering his money at the Mulberry Tree Tavern,[19] and damning “French principles” - an allusion to Romilly's Huguenot descent. The Commons' committee, however, declared the members duly elected, to the unbounded delight of their chief supporters in Bristol, who forthwith repaired to a tavern, and emptied a gigantic bowl, containing twenty-eight gallons of punch, “suitably decorated with blue”, in honour of the victory. The Bristol Times of August 2, 1862, published a detailed account of the outlay of the Tory party at the above two elections. The total amounted to the sum of £29,429 14s. 7d., paid through the Steadfast Club. The first election, although never in doubt, cost £14,362, of which nearly £8,000 were distributed in money amongst the “constables” (voters), and over £2,000 at public-houses in entertaining the so-called guardians of order. The cost of blue ribbons supplied at the first contest was £3,366, yet £2,318 more for the same frippery were squandered three months later. “This money”, says the above authority, “seems to have been distributed amongst all the constitutional mercers in the city”. The expenses of the chairing were formidable, one Charles Smith, “the great physical force purveyor”,


being alone paid £2,577. The blue umbrella held over Mr. Davis's head figured for £6 13s., and £7 12s. were paid for the gaudy dress of the man who bore it. There were also charges for “the gold banner”, gold fringe, etc. The entertainment of the committee at the White Lion Hotel cost £2,182, besides which there was a heavy disbursement for the expenses of the various parochial committees. Towards defraying the total charge, Mr. Davis contributed £10,000. The balance was liquidated by means of subscriptions, several wealthy Tories giving £500 each.[20]

A piece of ground at Clifton, somewhat less than ten acres in extent, was sold in September for building sites, and brought what was then regarded as the extraordinary sum of £15,000. The houses erected upon it were called Richmond Hill, and an advertisement in September, 1814, shows that certain sanitary arrangements were limited to a short sewer and a cesspool. Clifton was still, so far as the elevated district was concerned, a mere village, and all its arrangements were primitive. An aged correspondent of the Times and Mirror (May 26, 1883), recalling the appearance of the place in 1813, stated that the post office was near Saville Place - a mere cottage with two small shop windows. The postmaster was a tailor, who used to sit at his work on the shopboard in one window, while his wife, at the other side, sold gingerbread and sweets. There were two letter carriers, one of whom was a woman, and the work of carrying the letter bags to and from Bristol, and of delivering the contents, was divided between them.

The Prudent Man's Friend Society, for the then novel object of encouraging thrift amongst the poor, founded by the philanthropic Richard Reynolds, Mr. T. Sanders, and a few friends, came into existence in December. To this society the city is indebted for the establishment of the Bristol Savings Bank, which was opened a few weeks later at No. 20, Small Street, although the title it now bears was not assumed until 1815. The society made great exertions to promote economy among the labouring community, but only seventy-three persons opened accounts at the bank during the first nine months of its existence, and as their deposits averaged over £7 each, very few could have belonged to the class it was designed to benefit. It was not indeed until 1817,


when the first Savings Bank Act was passed, that artisans and servants were attracted to the institution. Progress was afterwards rapid, and by 1827 the accumulated deposits amounted to over £300,000. It was not, however, until twenty-six years later that the aggregate exceeded £400,000, and the increase in the fund has been still slower since the introduction of the postal institutions. Soon after its establishment the Savings Bank was removed to Bridge Street, whence it again removed, in December, 1831, to St. Stephen's Avenue, where a building had been specially erected for it at a cost, including site, of £3,500. The premises have since been reconstructed on an enlarged scale.

In the course of the year 1812, the Rev. Samuel Seyer, who was then engaged upon his valuable history of the city, published “The Charters and Letters Patent granted by the Kings and Queens of England to the City and County of Bristol, newly Translated, and accompanied by the Original Latin”. In the preface to the work it was stated that the manuscripts forming the text were found in the Bodleian collection, but that Mr. Seyer, fearing verbal errors or omissions in those copies, addressed a memorial to the Common Council, praying to be permitted to have access to the originals for the purpose of collation. The response was a point-blank refusal, although the charters were, as Mr. Seyer went on to remark, “open letters”, granted to the burgesses generally, and for their benefit, and ought to have been accessible to all of them as members of the Corporation. It appears from the official minutes of the Common Council that the rejection of the reverend gentleman's request was due to the Recorder, Sir Vicary Gibbs, whose advice was solicited by the Corporation.

A “grand gala fête”, in honour of the British victories over the French armies in Spain, took place in September, 1813, “in the gardens of the Three Blackbirds tavern, near Stapleton”. In the following year the name of the place was changed to the “Wellington Gardens”, under which it became a fashionable resort for many years. The galas were of a somewhat exclusive character. The price of admission was half a crown; gentlemen were expected to appear in full evening dress; and livery servants were excluded. The gardens remained popular notwithstanding the opening of the Zoological Gardens at Clifton, though that event greatly altered the status of those who resorted to them. The latest notice of the place that has been found in the newspapers occurs in 1847, when there was a large attendance at a balloon ascent.


A somewhat singular accident occurred in September, 1813, at Cnmberland Basin. A heavily laden West India-man, named the William Miles, was entering the basin by the upper lock, when a press-gang was seen approaching for the purpose of seizing the crew. After having been many months absent from home, the men were by no means disposed to be captured, and instantly fled. Unfortunately the ship had not cleared the entrance, and as the tide rapidly ebbed, she remained suspended in the lock, the weight of the cargo crushing the hull out of shape and firmly fixing it between the walls. The lock thus became impracticable for other vessels until the obstruction was removed, which was not effected for upwards of three weeks.

Mr. Bathurst, late member for the city, who had retreated to the cheaper and less arduous representation of Bodmin, was presented by his Bristol admirers, in September, with an elegant piece of plate, valued at 700 guineas, in gratitude for his lengthened services.

The Bristol Journal of September the 4th contains the following advertisement:- “For sale, a Tyburn Ticket, exempting the holder from serving the parish and ward offices of the parish of St. Paul and ward of St. James. Apply to Mr. Evans, Bridewell”., The same newspaper a few weeks later announced that “two Tyburn tickets for the parish of Clifton” were for disposal. These ominously named documents had their origin in the statute 10th William III. c.12, which enacted that, after the 20th of May, 1699, every person convicted of burglary, horse stealing, or theft from a shop to the value of five shillings, should be debarred from benefit of clergy - that is, should be hanged; and that every person who should apprehend such an offender and prosecute him to conviction should be entitled to a certificate to that effect from the judge who tried the case, such certificate to discharge the holder from fulfilling all manner of parish and ward offices in the district where the felony was committed. The ticket was capable of being assigned to another person, but only once. The privilege was abolished by an Act passed in June, 1818. Only three months previously, according to the Stamford Mercury for March 17, 1818, a Tyburn ticket was sold in Manchester for £280. A copy of one of the tickets is given in Notes and Queries, 2nd series, xi. 395.

Up to this time the income of the bishopric of Bristol does not appear to have exceeded £600 or £800 a year - not a twentieth of the revenue of one of the episcopal prizes of the English Church. The irregularities which then prevailed


in the value of the various sees were considered to “work well”. A spiritual lord in the reign of George III. might find it difficult to make ends meet at Bristol, Exeter, or Llandaff; but he knew that preferment would come sooner or later if he offered himself as a submissive instrument to the royal or ministerial will. The distinguished Bishop Newton, declining to be a “king's friend”, was left in the cold at Bristol for twenty-one years. But in the next twenty-seven years he had eight successors, though only one vacancy was caused by death. If the fact proved that the system “worked well” for those who lived long enough, it was silent as to those who dropped by the wayside. At a meeting of a local clergy society so recently as 1860, it was stated that a former bishop had left a daughter absolutely penniless, and that, after having kept a small parish school until old age rendered her incapable, she had applied for relief to the society, having not a farthing to live upon save £5 a year granted by a charity in London. Going back to 1813, it would appear that the leaders of the Church were not wholly satisfied with “the system”. In the course of the year an arrangement was effected, at the instance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, by which the rectory of Almondsbury was united to the bishopric of Bristol. The effect of this union, according to the contemporary press, was to increase the income of the see from £600 to £2,000 per annum; but this estimate appears to have been greatly exaggerated. A significant incident of the affair was, that neither the primate, the bishop, the Government, nor the newspapers appear to have bestowed the slightest thought on the fact that the living of Almondsbury existed for the benefit of the parishioners, and that the non-residence of a rector - even though a bishop - was a scandalous abuse. The living was again detached from the see by Order of Council in July, 1851, when Bishop Monk was granted, in compensation, an additional income of £650 yearly.

Bristol Exchange, never very popular amongst mercantile men, was entirely abandoned by them upon the opening of the Commercial Rooms. The Corporation, in September, directed the south row of the deserted quadrangle to be converted into a corn market, an institution of which grain merchants and the neighbouring farmers had long felt the want. The market was opened on the 18th of October.

A Bristol newspaper editor of this year gravely speaks of pugilism as an “elegant and fashionable science”. That it was fashionable was beyond dispute, as the memoirs of


George IV., of Mr. Windham, and of other notabilities of the time bear witness. In Bristol “the ring” was especially popular, several of the leading “bruisers” being natives of the city or of its environs. Of these, early in the century, the Belchers, one of whom was “champion”, and Nichols, the “Game Chicken”, another “champion”, were the most conspicuous. A Bristol paper of 1805 stated that Miss Belcher, a sister of the heroic brothers, had a fight with another woman in one of the streets of the city, seconded by her mother, the combat lasting “more than fifty minutes”. Tom Belcher, who won eight great battles and lost only three, retired from the ring in 1814, but survived as a reputable London publican until December, 1854. Another favourite pugilist was William Neat, famed for many arduous victories, though, being at length unsuccessful in an encounter with Spring, in 1823, he was denounced by his former admirers for having “sold the fight”. Neat was prevailed upon to quit the “ring” by Mrs. Fry, the celebrated philanthropist. A local annalist, in recording Neat's death, in 1858,[21] states that 30,000 persons were present at his last battle, which took place near Andover. A large contingent had come from Bristol, every available horse in the city, including the black horses employed at funerals, being hired for the occasion. A still more famous combatant was John Gully, in youth a Bristol butcher. After having won national fame in “the ring”, he betook himself to the congenial, though not yet so miry, “turf”, where he was patronized by the Duke of York, and made a large fortune as a “betting man”. In 1832 Gully, then metamorphosed into a country gentleman, was elected member of parliament for Pontefact, in the neighbourhood of which town he resided. He died in 1863, aged 80 years. On the 21st of December, 1813, the Prince Regent was pleased to confer the honour of a baronetcy on Mr. Nathaniel William Wraxall, whose claims to such a distinction were much criticized by his contemporaries. Wraxall was the son of a Bristol merchant, and was born in Queen Square, on the 8th of April, 1751.[22] At the age of eighteen he entered the service of the East India Company, and sailed for Bombay; but he relinquished that employment on attaining his majority, and after returning to Europe he occupied himself for seven years in travelling, extending his tour from Italy


to Lapland. Daring a portion of his ramblings he was employed by an unfortunate princess, Caroline, wife of Christian VII. of Denmark, to seek the support of her brother, George III., to a conspiracy for placing the queen on the throne. Wraxall afterwards alleged that the English king was so pleased with his services as to order him to be presented with 1,000 guineas; but it is clear from his majesty's letter to Lord North (“Correspondence”, ii. 859), that the negotiator was treated with great indifference, and that his mission was unsuccessful. Tn 1775 Wraxall published an account of his travels, under the title of “Cursory Remarks”, the easy style of which carried the book through several editions. Other works, chiefly on the history of France, followed at intervals, but excited little attention. In 1815, however, he produced a work in three volumes, entitled “Memoirs of My Own Times”, which caused some sensation in political circles, and which the literary critics of the day concurred in condemning as throwing equal discredit on the author's head and heart. For a libel on the Russian Ambassador, printed in this book, Wraxall was fined £500 and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. The general charge of mendacity levelled against the author is, however, denied by Carlyle in his “Life of Frederick the Great”. After revising the “Memoirs” for a second edition, Wraxall published nothing more, though he enjoyed vigorous health until his eightieth year. He died on the 7th of November, 1831, whilst preparing for an extensive continental tour. In 1836 was published “Posthumous Memoirs of My Own Times”, in three volumes, which in character resembled the previous work, and which, as the author virtually confessed, had been held back until he should be beyond the reach of those whom he assailed. A new edition of both the above works has been published within the last few years. One of Sir Nathaniel's grandsons and successors. Sir C.F. Lascelles Wraxall, devoted himself to literature with considerable success. Having served in the Crimea with the Turkish contingent, the result was a book called “Camp Life”, which was perhaps the best of his productions. “The Armies of the Great Powers”, a “Life of Caroline of Denmark”, “The Second Empire”, and several novels also issued from his pen. On his death, in his thirty-seventh year, in 1865, the title reverted to his brother, Horatio Henry, who followed the vocation of a “betting man”, but died in a lunatic asylum in 1882, having been for some time chargeable as a pauper to the Union of Southwark. The baronetcy is still in existence.


A frost of extreme severity and unusual length was experienced in the opening months of 1814. The Floating Harbour from end to end was so thickly covered with ice as to permit of general locomotion upon it, and some thousands of persons are said to have enjoyed the novel experience of passing under Bristol bridge on foot. Owing to heavy snowstorms, the roads in all parts of the kingdom were drifted up, communication by coaches was cut off, and the mails were everywhere delayed for some days. So extensive a dislocation of traffic had not before occurred since the establishment of mail coaches.

On March 16, 1814, whilst workmen were sinking a vault near the vestry in St. Mary-le-port Church, under a mural monument in the Early Tudor style, they came upon a lead coffin, the ancient appearance of which was thought worthy of the inspection of local antiquaries. A group of amateurs was soon assembled, and it was forthwith decided that the remains were those of Robert Yeamans, one of the “royal martyrs” executed in 1643, though there is incontestable contemporary testimony to prove that the unfortunate man was buried in Christ Church. Assuming, however, that the supposition had been correct, its authors displayed their admiration of the victim of Puritan vengeance in a remarkable manner. Mr. Richard Smith, surgeon, who was always foremost in such affairs, cut up the body, which was in excellent preservation, and removed the heart as a precious addition to his “anatomical museum”. The incumbent, the Rev. W. Waite, carried off a slice of the shirt. Mr. Henry Smith possessed himself of a portion of the same garment, and further made prize of part of the handkerchief that bound up the head. The spoil of the other members of the party is not recorded, but it is highly probable that they followed the example of their leaders. Mr. Richard Smith subsequently published a characteristic account of the proceedings.

A musical festival for the benefit of the Infirmary took place in June, three oratorios, “The Messiah”, “The Creation”, and “The Mount of Olives”, being given in St. Paul's Church, and two evening concerts at the theatre. The chief vocalists were Madame Catalani, then at the summit of her fame, and the equally celebrated Mr. Braham. The surplus receipts, including collections, amounted to £845.

Bristolians, in common with Englishmen generally, were profoundly stirred at this time by the mighty events occurring on the Continent. The battles of Leipsic and Dresden, the general rising of Germany, the successive victories of


the English army on the Franco-Spanish frontier, and the final downfall of Bonaparte caused repeated illuminations and other tokens of rejoicing.[23] When the newspapers became almost hysterical, and shouted, as did the editor of Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, “Huzza! huzza! huzza! the Dutch have taken Holland!” one may imagine the fervour which animated the masses. The intelligence of the conclusion of a definitive treaty of peace, closing a war with France which had lasted, with a brief interval, for twenty-one years, was received with transports of joy. The mail coach conveying the news was stopped at Totterdown by the populace, who removed the horses, and dragged the vehicle through the streets amidst a whirlwind of cheers. The customary proclamations were made by the civic authorities on the 27th of June, the details of the ceremony being identical with those of 1801. In the evening the city was illuminated. A lofty triumphal arch, erected in Corn Street in front of the Commercial Rooms, was, when its pictorial embellishments were lighted up, an especial attraction; but the inhabitants of the chief streets appear to have vied with each other in the production of fanciful allegories, the description of which fills many columns of the newspapers. Probably the most picturesque and effective displays were the illumination of the battlements of the tower of St. Mary Redcliff, and the huge bonfire on Brandon Hill. Immediately after the peace, the volunteer infantry were disembodied by order of the Government. After the final parade, when Lieut.-Colonels Gore and Goldney took farewell of the regiment, the colours were deposited at the house of Colonel Baillie, in Park Row, and the weapons stored at the Armoury in Stapleton Road. Lieut.-Colonel Gore died within a fortnight of these events, deeply regretted by his regiment, which at once resolved to give £3,000, part of the fund subscribed and invested for the use of the corps, to the widow and five children of the deceased, “in respectful testimony of his meritorious conduct”. A further sum of £200 was ordered to be spent in striking silver medals to commemorate the services of the regiment, one of which was given to each officer and private. Colonel Baillie was presented by the Common Council with


a piece of plate, value £200, for nearly twenty years' services in connection with the regiment. In November, 1816, a cenotaph to the memory of Colonel Gore, bearing his portrait in basso alto-rilievo, was placed in the cathedral at the expense of the volunteers.

Daring the brief sojourn of the allied sovereigns in London in 1814, the Common Council sent off a deputation to invite the Prince Regent and his imperial guests to visit Bristol. The arrangements of the illustrious strangers rendered the step abortive; but the deputation by some means succeeded in spending £378 of the corporate money in performing the duty imposed upon them.

The close of the mayoralty of Mr. James Fowler was marked by an unusual scandal in the history of the Corporation. At the usual meeting in December, 1814, a motion that the ex-mayor should receive such a sum as would raise his receipts from fees and perquisites to £2,500 was rejected in favour of an amendment to limit the payment from the civic chest to such an amount “as should appear to the mayor and aldermen to have been expended”. The inferential censure having been ratified by a majority, the case was investigated by the Court of Aldermen in the following month, when, after an examination of the accounts and vouchers, it was resolved “that the sum of £2,000 should be paid to Mr. Fowler as a full and ample reimbursement for the expenses incurred by him”. Mr. B. Bickley was at the same time voted £844 for his third shrievalty. Some stories respecting an exceedingly parsimonious mayor early in the century probably date from this year. It is said that a large placard was posted upon the walls of the city, notifying that a cat had just brought forth kittens in the kitchen grate of the Mansion House, and was doing well. “The only fear is that the kittens may suffer from cold, as a fire has not been for some time lighted in the said kitchen grate”. A few mornings later, three dead rats were found suspended to the knocker of the civic residence, with the label: “Starved out of the Mansion House”.

On the 16th of January, 1815, the death occurred in London of a Mr. Samuel Gist, a wealthy planter in Virginia, but who was educated, three-quarters of a century earlier, in Queen Elizabeth's Hospital. The remains of the deceased were buried, at his own request, at Wormington, Gloucester. By his will he left the sum of £10,000 in consols, upon trust, to maintain six poor men, six poor women, and six poor boys in Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, and to maintain and educate six poor


girls. It being impossible to carry out this bequest in the manner directed, an application was made by the Common Council to the Court of Chancery, which in 1820 decreed that the income should be distributed in payments to three male and three female annuitants, who were to receive £115 16s. amongst them; £100 to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, for the maintenance of three boys; and £72 to the Red Maids' School for three girls. Mr. Gist's will also directed that his 800 slaves should have their freedom, and he devised a large sum for the education and religious instruction of their descendants, as well as for food and clothing to such as might become destitute.

A war with the United States, which, though of brief duration, had been exceedingly disastrous to English shipowners through the ravages of the enemy's privateers, was brought to a close by the Treaty of Ghent, in the spring of 1815. A congratulatory address to the Prince Regent was sent up by the Corporation, two of whose representatives, Mr. W.J. Struth, then mayor, and Alderman Richard Vaughan, received the honour of knighthood. The expenses of the deputation were, as usual, excessive, the amount paid out of the civic purse being £195 10s.

The close of the long continental struggle caused an almost immediate collapse in the artificial system which had grown up whilst nearly all the great foreign ports had been closed against us, and whilst prices had been almost continually rising under a factitious paper currency. When wheat rarely sold at under 8Os. per quarter, and meat advanced to 10d. per. lb.., or three times its price before the war, the rent of land naturally rose in proportion, estates more than doubled in value, and the price of labour in many trades was notably enhanced. The opening of the ports brought down prices of food with a crash, wheat falling to 56s. per quarter, and meat to 4d. per lb. As a natural consequence, the highly-rented farmers could no longer earn a profit, and every branch of industry felt the reaction. The panacea of a parliament of landlords was the prohibition of imports of corn whenever the domestic rates were under 80s. per quarter. Bristol, like all the commercial towns, strongly condemned the proposed law, and a petition signed by 40,000 of the inhabitants prayed the Commons for its rejection; but in the then state of the popular chamber all such efforts were futile. The attempt to bolster up prices, however, failed, and the first to feel the effects were the labouring classes. The workmen endeavoured to combine against


reductions of wages, but trades unions were illegal, and were sternly put down. On the other hand, it was equally illegal for employers to unite against their servants, and two master plasterers in Bristol were brought to trial charged with combining to lower wages. It transpired during the hearing that the journeymen did not earn more than 16s. per week throughout the year. The counsel for the two parties agreed to leave the matter to the bench, which decided that the old rate should be continued; but the masters refused to employ their former hands. The workmen of other trades, especially the tailors, took advantage of another old law, which forbade employers to hire any person who had not served an apprenticeship of seven years. The effect of this movement, however, was the abolition by Parliament of an obnoxious restraint on natural rights. The manufacturers and tradesmen of the city were so rejoiced at the relief, that they presented a piece of plate to Serjeant Onslow, who had framed the measure and conducted it through the House of Commons.

“The newspapers of Great Britain may be reckoned among its noblest spectacles”, modestly observed the Bristol Journal of September 9, 1815. The assertion was made in connection with the Budget of the year, which increased the stamp tax on newspapers from threepence-halfpenny to fourpence per copy. A discount of 20 per cent. was allowed on this oppressive impost; but the concession was counterbalanced by the duty of 3d. per lb. on printing paper, which was charged in addition to the stamp. Newspaper proprietors were consequently obliged to advance to sevenpence the price of each copy, the largest of which in Bristol contained much less than half the typography of the penny journals of later days. The Eldon and Sidmouth party, which at that time was supreme in the Cabinet, had always shown hostility towards the press, and it was suspected that the tax was increased not so much for the sake of the revenue, - which was only slightly benefited, - as to check the circulation of political intelligence amongst the people. The duty on advertisements was raised simultaneously to 3s. 6d. upon each announcement, a sum practically prohibitory to poor persons in search of employment.

At a meeting of the Bristol turnpike trustees, in December, 1815, Mr. John Loudon McAdam was appointed general surveyor of the roads belonging to the trust. Mr. McAdam was a Scotch country gentleman, who migrated to Bristol early in the century and engaged in mercantile pursuits. In


July, 1805, the Common Council assented to his becoming a freeman on paying a fine of thirty-eight guineas. After making practical experiments in road construction, at an expense to himself of several thousand pounds, he invented the system which is now known by his name throughout the civilized world. It was long, however, before he could overcome the dead weight of prejudice and the hatred of innovation which have so often obstructed great public improvements in this country; and the Bristol trust had the credit of being the first to appreciate the value of his labours. Some idea of the state of the turnpike roads prior to Mc Adam's improvements is furnished by a letter in the Monthly Magazine for August, 1804. “The usual method of making or mending roads”, says the writer, “consists in breaking stones taken out of neighbouring quarries into masses not much less than a common brick, and spreading them over the line of road. It may be conceived with what pain and difficulty a poor horse drags a carriage over such a track”. The change effected by McAdam in the roads of this district was too notable to be denied even by the admirers of “ancient ways”, and in the course of a few years “macadamization” spread into the most secluded parts of the island, everywhere working a beneficent revolution. It is painful to add that the section of local trustees representing the Corporation of Bristol, and animated by its reactionary spirit, attempted, in September, 1824, to summarily dismiss Mr. McAdam, without giving him a hint of their intention, and that a motion to that effect was negatived only by the casting vote of the chairman. Mr. McAdam's salary from the trust barely covered his travelling expenses. In an address to the trustees, he pointed out that he had accepted the post with no view to profit. When he entered on his work, the roads in the district were all but impassable in bad weather, and the trust was on the verge of bankruptcy. Through his exertions its funds had become flourishing, and the roads had been made “an example that has been followed and imitated from one end of the kingdom to the other”. Mr. McAdam resigned his office in the following year, protesting against what he termed the “mean persecution” of his enemies in the Common Council. He was then nearly eighty years of age. About the same time, the House of Commons, regarding him as a great benefactor, both to the public and to beasts of burden, voted him a grant of £10,000. In 1827, the Metropolitan road trustees (who had not adopted McAdam's system until 1823) gladly


appointed him their superintendent. Mr. McAdam died in 1836, in comparative poverty, aged ninety years. His son, many years surveyor of the Bristol roads, died in 1857.

From the time when the philanthropic Howard undertook his beneficent crusade in favour of prison reform down to the period now under review, numberless records exist as to the abominable condition of Newgate, the Bristol gaol. Howard himself describes it as white without and foul within. Criminals, he says, were allowed to mix with unfortunate debtors, and men with women; and although the place reeked with filth, yet the authorities made no allowance for mops, brooms, or towels. The accommodation was lamentably insufficient for the number of prisoners; and partly from this cause, and partly for security, a place called the “dungeon”, or “pit”, some twelve feet below the level of the soil, to which scarcely a ray of light could penetrate, was used for the detention of the worst class of felons. Seventeen persons slept nightly in this den, which was only fourteen feet square, neither straw nor rugs being provided for them, and the stench arising each morning on its being reopened turned the stomachs even of the warders. There was no employment to break the monotony of detention; but the chapel, on week-days, was used as a tippling room, and during the service on Sundays drinking and smoking went on in the galleries. It would appear that the city authorities provided nothing in the shape of food except two-pennyworth of bread daily per head. The local papers consequently contained almost every week an acknowledgment of gifts from the public to “the poor felons in Newgate”, who sometimes declared themselves to be “in great distress for the necessaries of life”. Besides numerous donations of money, the journals record the receipt, between 1785 and 1787, of many sacks of potatoes, various cartloads of coal, and doles of beef, salt fish, herrings, vegetables, “136 sixpenny loaves”, and “a dozen towels”. In 1792 the prisoners were even allowed to affix a box near the gaol door for the reception of donations; but many undoubtedly perished from want and fever. Another class of unhappy wretches consisted of those dragged to prison under the law of mesne process, and to these were added a great number of persons immured for non-payment of their debts. Under the mesne process system, any man could be arrested for a debt exceeding £10, and detained in prison until the cause was heard, which might not be for several months. It was notorious that this power was often used for iniquitous purposes, and


the legal abuse was rendered still more grievous by the fact that, even if the victim proved at the trial that the claim was unfounded, he could not obtain release except by an expensive course of procedure beyond the means of the poor. So late as 1820, nearly 8,700 persons were languishing in prison under the law of mesne process; and the filthy Bristol gaol contained its full share of them. As for the ordinary class of prisoners for debt, the penalty to which they were liable was, until 1818, detention for life. But the condition of Newgate was so horrible that local philanthropists frequently raised subscriptions for paying the debts of poor labourers, and thus obtained their removal from horrible surroundings. The state of Bridewell was no better. Howard found the place shockingly offensive from open sewers, and a Mr. Neild, who visited it in 1807, stated that so numerous were the rats that a cat was kept in each room at night to prevent the vermin from gnawing the prisoners' feet. Howard's revelations having excited general disgust, the Corporation, in 1792, obtained an Act to build a new gaol on the site of Bristol Castle; but as the authorities proposed to levy a county rate upon the citizens for the future maintenance of the prison, the statute was threatened with universal opposition, and ultimately became a dead letter. In the meantime, the condition of the gaol became an ever-increasing reproach to the city through the increase of the population. Felons convicted of atrocious crimes and untried striplings charged with venial offences were locked up promiscuously, as if the object of the authorities was to provide for an unfailing succession of housebreakers, ruffians, and thieves. In April, 1818, the grand jury at quarter sessions, having received a report from four eminent physicians of the city, to the effect that “it was almost impossible for any building to be worse calculated” for its purpose, drew up an unanimous presentment, declaring that “any measure short of rebuilding the prison would be of no effect as to remedying those great evils so long and so justly complained of”. The Corporation soon after announced that it would apply to Parliament for powers to erect a new gaol near Castle Street, provided the citizens would consent to pay for the structure and relieve the Council of the burden of maintaining it; but the proposal was indignantly scouted at meetings held by the ratepayers. Nothing having been done, Mr. J.S. Harford published a pamphlet in 1815, in which the practice of herding together degraded people of both sexes was denounced as monstrous. The author added:-


“I saw the irons put upon a little boy ten years old, who had just been brought in for stealing a pound and a half of sugar; he was then introduced into the felon's court, crowded with wretches among the most abandoned of their class”. Yet in spite of this and other protests, it appears from an incidental remark in a local newspaper that untried prisoners were kept in fetters in 1817. In the following year, Mr. (afterwards Sir) T.P. Buxton visited the gaol and published his experiences. In the too notorious “pit”, lying in a very dirty bed, was “a wretched human being who complained of severe illness. This was his infirmary - a place one short visit to which affected me with nausea for two days. The preceding night eighteen persons had here slept, and some of them were untried. A person only accused of crime may wear heavy irons and sleep in the 'pit', and this a whole year before his trial”. By this time, however, the scandal was in process of being removed. In the session of 1816 a committee of citizens had promoted a bill for building a new gaol on a proper site; but as the scheme repudiated the claim of the Corporation to control the expenditure, it was stoutly opposed by the civic oligarchy, who wrote secretly to other close corporations asking their help to resist the invasion on chartered “rights”. The discovery of this proceeding caused a commotion in the House of Commons, and the Common Council, dreading that further obstinacy would end in a defeat, reluctantly came to terms with the promoters of the bill, consenting to abandon the Castle Street scheme, permitting the ratepayers to nominate some of the commissioners charged with supervising the new erection, and confessing the liability of the Corporation to maintain the prison establishment, as in the past. Newgate, with its site, was moreover given up to the commissioners. The measure received the royal assent in June, 1816. The estimated cost of the new gaol, £60,000, was raised by a rate on the ancient city, and the site chosen was in Bedminster parish, between the new course of the river and the floating harbour. A singular dispute with the revenue officials arose in November, 1817, soon after the works were begun. Some of the stone intended for the walls, brought from Blackrock quarry, on the Avon, was seized by a customs officer, who contended that it was liable to the duty imposed by the Customs Consolidation Act of 1809, which imposed a tax of £20 per cent. ad valorem on limestone. The customs authorities also asserted that the stone brought from Hanham and Bath was liable to the same duty. The claim, however, was soon afterwards


abandoned. On the completion of the new building, in August, 1820, the prisoners in Newgate “were removed in a wagon to their new quarters”. The site of the old gaol was thereupon re-purchased by the Corporation for £682, and the materials were sold for £500. As will be seen hereafter, the new gaol was itself condemned as unfit for the purpose for which it was constructed.

Great local rejoicing took place upon the 2nd May, 1816, upon the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, heiress expectant to the throne, with Prince Leopold of Saxe Coburg (maternal uncle of Queen Victoria). The Common Council sent a deputation up to London, to present an address to the Begent on the happy event. As the expense of the trip was £166 11s., the emissaries appear to have enjoyed themselves. Unhappily the hopes which were excited by the union were speedily blighted; and the princesses death in the following year evoked a manifestation of national sorrow such as had never been witnessed since the accession of the House of Brunswick.

Bull-baiting was still a popular amusement amongst the lower classes. A paragraph in a local journal for June 8, 1816, gives the reader a brief but vivid glimpse of the manners of the time:- “A poor animal was led through our streets on Monday, with blue ribbons to its horns, for the savage purpose of being baited on Clifton Down. One of the ill effects of such an assemblage was a quarrel, in which the parties agreed to fight, when a man of the name of Donald was killed upon the first blow by a postboy of the name of Lambert”. There is no record that Lambert was brought to trial for the homicide. A few weeks later a parochial constable complained in the newspapers that after he had arrested a ruffian for an assault, the only two resident aldermen, as well as the mayor, proved to be out of town, and he was thus forced to release his prisoner. The latest case of bull-baiting in Bristol noticed in the local press occurred in 1822; but as the “sport” was continued at Wells until 1839 or 1840, it is not unlikely that the newspaper record is defective.

On the 27th July, the Duke of Wellington, the idolized hero of the time, paid a visit to Bristol in response to an invitation from the Common Council, which had sent deputies to Cheltenham for that purpose. His grace's entry was by Redland, where the sheriffs were in attendance to welcome him to the city. In the procession which was then formed, the duke's carriage was followed by the barouch of “that


old veteran, John Weeks”, whose mode of displaying his enthusiasm was not less characteristic than it had been years before (see p.12). In the midst of laurels, roses, leeks, and shamrocks, six ladies were seated in his vehicle, displaying banners inscribed with mottoes in honour of the great captain and his brother officers, while Weeks himself performed the feat of bearing an Irish harp, a royal standard, and three other national flags. On arriving at a handsome triumphal arch erected across Park Street, surmounted with “a figure of the genius of Bristol” - whatever that may have been - the horses of the noble visitor were removed by a party of sixty men, whose habiliments would probably appear grotesque to later eyes, but which, it is believed, formed the customary garb of those who bore the members for Bristol during the triumphal ceremony of chairing. The men were “dressed in black hats, white shirts over their waistcoats, ornamented with white ribbons, black breeches and white stockings”. After being dragged to the Mansion House, the duke was received by the mayor, aldermen, and councillors in the banqueting room, surrounded by the grandest state paraphernalia. The mayor (Sir W.J. Struth) in a brief address - the turgidness of which excited some ridicule out of doors - presented his grace with the freedom of the city in a gold box; and a similar gift was made, in much more graceful terms, by the Merchants' Company through their master. After a brief adjournment to the drawing-room to gratify the curiosity of a large gathering of ladies, the distinguished guest was conducted to the Merchants' Hall for dinner. A sumptuous repast having been followed by a few toasts, the duke left early in the evening to undergo a similar reception at Gloucester. The cost of the entertainment, including £100 for the loan of plate to decorate the tables, £63 for the gold box, and £50 spent by the deputation to Cheltenham, was £925 17s. Much dissatisfaction was expressed by the members of the Merchants' Society at the conduct of the corporate officials, who, after borrowing the Company's hall for the banquet, excluded its owners from the feast.

The next public ceremonial in the city was of a more touching character. On the 10th of September Richard Reynolds, who has been styled “the greatest of Bristol's great philanthropists”, expired at Cheltenham, where he was sojourning by the advice of his physicians, and ten days later his remains, which had been removed to Bristol, were conveyed from his house in St. James's Square to the


burial-ground attached to the Friends' meeting-house in the Friars. The attendance of mourners included many of the resident clergy, dissenting ministers of every persuasion, prominent citizens of every sect and party, the staffs of the various charitable institutions of the city, to which the deceased had been a munificent patron, the children of the parish schools of St. James's and St. Paul's, and great numbers of the poorer classes, who displayed much eagerness to pay a token of respect to the remains of their departed friend. A more affecting ceremony was probably never witnessed in the city. Mr. Reynolds was a native of Bristol, having been born in Corn Street in 1785; but he left the city in early life, and his wealth was accumulated during his long residence at and near Coalbrookdale. In 1804 he returned to his native town, where he soon distinguished himself by diffusive and universal benevolence, though from his solicitude to escape notice only a few of his munificent acts could be clearly traced. Of these may be mentioned a fund of £10,500 invested in the hands of trustees for the benefit of seven local charities, gifts of £2,000 and £4,000 for augmenting the weekly payments to the inmates of Trinity almshouses, and a donation of £2,600 for an extension of the Infirmary. These instances, however, do little to show the extent of his liberality. During one of the famine crises which occurred during the great war, he remitted £20,000 to an agent in London, and throughout his residence in Bristol he employed four almoners charged to inquire into the state of the poor and to distribute relief to the deserving. From statements made by Mr. Rathbone, who published a sketch of his career, Mr. Reynolds seems to have bestowed during his life upwards of £200,000 in acts of charity, exclusive of anonymous gifts of which no record appeared in his private accounts. A few days after the funeral, a meeting was held at the Guildhall, the mayor (Mr. J. Haythorne) presiding, when it was resolved to establish a Reynolds' Commemoration Society, for continuing relief to objects of his bounty, for assisting the charities of the city, and especially for succouring an institution founded by the deceased - the Samaritan Society. Unfortunately the support extended to the Commemoration Society has never been worthy of its objects.

During this year, the Freemasons of the city purchased a house in Bridge Street for £1,600, and fitted it up for the use of the craft at a further expense of £2,000. The removal


of the Freemasons' hall to Park Street will be recorded at a later date.

An interesting paper on the declining popularity of the Hotwell Springs with suggestions for its revival, was addressed, in 1816, to the Society of Merchant Venturers by Dr. Andrew Carrick, then one of the leading physicians of Clifton. The paper did not reach the public until nearly half a century later, being first published in the Bristol Times of October 18, 1862. The following are extracts: “Seven and twenty years ago (viz. 1789) when I first became acquainted with the place, the Hotwells during summer was one of the best-frequented and most crowded watering-places in the kingdom. Scores of the first nobility were to be found there every season, and such a crowd of invalids of all ranks resorted to the waters that it was often difficult for them to provide themselves with any sort of lodgings. About that period a considerable number of lodging letters had in the course of a few years realized very handsome fortunes, without any complaint of extortionate exactions. [Matthews' Guide to Bristol and Clifton, written in 1793, states that the general price of lodgings was 10s. per week in the summer and 5s. per week in the winter half year; boarding 16s. per week; servants' rooms and boarding half price.] Three extensive taverns were constantly full, and two spacious ballrooms were profitably kept open. There was a well-attended ball, a public breakfast, and a promenade every week, and often twice a week. The pump-room was all day long the resort of invalids, who left with the keeper of the well many hundreds a year in voluntary donations, and from twelve to two o'clock was generally so crowded that there was often some difficulty in getting up to drink the water. The walk adjoining was in the meantime filled with fashionable company, to whom the sublime scenery of the cliff's was enlivened by the sounds of a band of music. The downs and all the avenues to the Hotwells were filled with strings of carriages, and with parties on horseback and on foot”. Having drawn this graphic sketch from personal experience. Dr. Carrick proceeded to contrast it with the condition of the place in 1816: “The silence of the grave, to which it seems the inlet. Not a carriage to be seen once an hour, and scarcely more frequently does a solitary invalid approach the neglected spring. One of the ballrooms and taverns has been long ago shut up, and the other with great difficulty kept open. The lodging-houses, or such of them as still remain open, almost entirely empty in summer, and not very profitably filled even


in winter”. He went on to say that “not one tenth of the visitors of rank and fortune, and of invalids perhaps a still smaller proportion”, then resorted to the place; that the letters of lodgings became “almost universally bankrupt in a few years”, though visitors complained of “bad usage and exorbitant charges”; and that the value of houses at the Hotwells had “vastly depreciated - many houses, and even whole rows, are unoccupied and as it were deserted”. “With great difficulty can a ball be supported once a fortnight at Clifton; no public breakfasts; no promenades, or none deserving the name. At the Hotwells nothing of the kind”. Dr. Carrick attributed the declining fortunes of the spring, chiefly to the fact that about 1790 its proprietors (the Merchants Company) let the place at a price vastly beyond its value, and allowed the tenant to impose an exorbitant price - 26s. a month from each individual - for permission to drink the water. People in health refused to pay the impost, and betook themselves to other resorts. The charges thus restricted the use of the water to those who were suffering from consumption, and who were in fact incurable, and the high rate of mortality amongst the drinkers cast discredit upon the spring itself. “From the day that the Hotwell became practically a fountain sealed to the lips of every one but the actually moribund, the fame of the place began rapidly to decline. None who drank of the Lethean waters were thenceforth found to recover; because none did drink of them but such as were past recovery. It was now one uniform black list of disappointment and death; and in the course of a very few years it became all over the kingdom a source of horror and despair, instead of hope and confidence, to be ordered to the Hotwells, from whose awful bourne no traveller now returned”. A subsidiary cause of the decline was said to be the “difficult and dangerous” descent from Clifton to the well. “To many the hire of a carriage twice or thrice a day, at the increased charges of such conveyances, presented an insuperable obstacle. To others the fatigue and the terror of riding up and down the precipitous track (for it even now scarcely deserves the name of a road) of Granby Hill was an objection not to be overcome”. Dr. Carrick concluded by suggesting that a commodious footpath might be made from Prince's Buildings to the bottom of Granby Hill, and that a carriage road should be constructed from the Hotwell house to the downs. The latter, he urged, would not be difficulty as “the space at the foot of St. Vincent's rocks is already practicable for carriages.


or nearly so”.[24] If this thoroughfare were made, and the tollgate [which then stood opposite the site now occupied by Camp House] removed to the edge of the downs, Dr. Garrick believed the improvements would offer “a material accommodation to that part of the parish, and a powerful incitement to the use of the waters”. The worthy doctor, however, did not make allowance for the popularity of Continental watering-places that arose after the conclusion of the long French war, a popularity which struck a permanent blow at all the English resorts of the wealthy classes.

On January 17, 1817, whilst workmen were engaged in improving Leigh Down, the inclosure of which had been recently effected, they discovered a large quantity of Roman coins, which had apparently, been buried about six inches below the turf. It was believed that about 1,000 pieces of silver were found; but the labourers lost no time in disposing of their booty, and about 500 coins at once disappeared. The specimens seen by Mr. Seyer, who gave a lengthy account of them in his history (vol. i. 164-173) ranged from the reign of Nero to that of Constantius II., so that the treasure was probably buried about the year 350.

From the beginning of the century the deteriorated condition and scarcity of the silver coinage had been painfully felt by the trading classes and the poor. In some districts employers of labour, unable to obtain coins for the payment of wages, issued cards which were equivalent to notes for a given number of shillings; and these billets passed with comparative ease when confidence was placed in the issuers. Forgeries, however, were often perpetrated, to the great injury of the labouring community, as tradesmen made heavy deductions on the value of the primitive notes to secure themselves against loss. At a city meeting in Bristol, in 1803, it was stated, as the result of an extensive experiment, that forty of the sixpences then current were not by weight


worth more than 10s. 9d., and twenty of the current shillings not more than 14s. 5d. A memorial to the Government praying for a new coinage was adopted, but nothing was done; and the old coins becoming steadily worse from year to year, most of them at length became mere smooth pieces of silver of less than half their assumed value. The difficulty was exasperated [sic] in 1810-11 by the depreciation of bank notes through excessive issues. A 20s. note being really worth only about 14s. or 15s. in gold, many who got possession of silver coin naturally refused to part with it in exchange for paper, and thus shillings and sixpences became scarcer than ever. Many persons now ventured to issue “tokens”, generally of about half their nominal value, undertaking to redeem them for the sum they represented. Knavish people followed this example, issuing debased tokens, which were not intended to be, and which never were, redeemed; and the Government, whose short-sighted mismanagement had caused extreme embarrassment and distress to the retail trade of the country, was forced to shut its eyes whilst large profits were thus reaped at the expense of the community. Another source of public injury was the issue of 10s. notes by various persons, in spite of their illegality; but several convictions took place in Bristol in 1815, which put an end to the system in this locality. At the close of the war, when bank notes rose in value, the hoarded silver money reappeared, and the currency of tokens became illegal after December, 1814. Nearly all the silver coin in circulation, however, was so much worn as to be perfectly smooth on both sides; and in July, 1816, owing to mischievous rumours as to the intentions of the Government, a panic arose in Bristol market, and rapidly spread to Bath and other neighbouring towns, the refusal of many farmers to accept the “smooth shillings” in payment for their produce causing an almost complete suspension of business. The Ministry at length saw the necessity of action, and a large coinage was ordered. On January 27, 1817, says the diary of a contemporary citizen (Times and Mirror, April 11, 1885), “sixty boxes of the new silver coinage, of the value of £36,000, were sent from the Mint to the mayor, to be circulated in this city, which were deposited in the Council House till the 13th February, when inspectors were appointed to examine the old silver and give the new in exchange, which was done at the Council House, Guildhall, and Merchants' Hall, for the space of fourteen days”, Although every genuine coin, however worn and defaced, was


exchanged at its full value,[25] many people, especially country-folks, neglected the opportunity, and retained their hoards until after the old coinage was declared an illegal tender. The Bristol journals contain numerous advertisements of a later date, in which tradesmen offered to allow their customers 4d. for old sixpences, 9d. for shillings, and 2s. 1d. for half-crowns - the latter being soon scarce and curious.

The first steam vessel seen in Bristol made its appearance in the Float in June, 1818, and is reported to have been constructed under the direction of Mr. Theodore Lawrance, one of the city coroners. It was called the Charlotte, and was intended to carry passengers and goods between Bristol and Bath. The boat had accommodation for twenty cabin passengers, who paid half a crown each, the steerage fare being 1s. 6d. A few months later it was announced that the journeys of the boat had been suspended during the rebuilding of Keynsham bridge, but that it would resume work shortly, a larger and quicker vessel being also promised at an early date. The enterprise, however, proved a failure. In the Bristol Journal of May 3, 1817, is a paragraph stating that the Britannia steam-packet had arrived in this port from Swansea, “making the passage against the ebb tide in twelve hours”. This vessel was built for the Dublin and Holyhead service, and it is fair to surmise that the builders sent her to Bristol in the hope of stirring up a feeling of emulation amongst the citizens which might not be unprofitable to themselves. If so, they were disappointed, for the mercantile classes here made no effort to compete with their northern rivals, who for several years had a monopoly of steam traffic with Ireland. An advertisement in the Bristol papers of July 28, 1821, at last announced that “the steam-packets Talbot and Ivanhoe, so well known on the Holyhead station” - where, it may be suspected, they had been replaced by larger vessels - had “commenced plying between Bristol and Cork”; and a paragraph of the same date adds that the voyage was to be made in thirty hours. The first steamboat from Bristol to Dublin started in May, 1822, for the summer season only, calls being made at Tenby and Wexford on the outward, and at Liverpool on the return voyage. A daily steamer to Newport started at the same time. From inferential remarks in the contemporary press.


it is evident that many travellers refused to trust their lives to these dangerous novelties, in spite of difficulties and discomforts attending the old mode of transit which seem almost incredible in the present age. Mr. S.C. Hall, the well-known art critic, in a little work published in 1861, wrote:- “In the year 1815 it was my lot to visit Ireland. I was then a schoolboy in Bristol; my family resided in Cork; and the voyage from one port to the other occupied just six weeks. . . . The packet boat under the best circumstances was miserable enough. There was no separate accommodation for ladies. To undress was out of the question. Each passenger took his own sea store. Salt junk and hard biscuit were the only food to be obtained if the voyage lasted above three or four days. Imagine the wretchedness ... of those who had to bear it for weeks! The case I have stated was by no means rare. The voyage from Holyhead to Dublin often consumed a fortnight”. It is not surprising that in the face of such miseries old-fashioned apprehensions of steam rapidly died out. In 1823 the owners of the Irish steamers, in a petition to the Common Council, stated that they proposed to run three vessels weekly, but that the mayor's dues on the vessels would amount to £359 yearly, and they prayed relief from a burden which was not imposed either at Dublin or Liverpool. Similar appeals were made by other companies; and the Corporation, though declining to abate the charge, voted a sum of money to a committee, which practically refunded the dues at the end of the season. By 1824 steamers had come into general use for passenger traffic, and the Bristol Steam Navigation Company, which was established in 1837, soon possessed a numerous fleet. The slowness with which Bristol is charged by her critics was, however, remarkably exemplified in her attitude towards steam-tugs. Although vessels of this class had been started on the Clyde in 1803, and were soon after introduced on the Tyne, Mersey, and Thames, and although the cost of towing by men and horses, whether on entering or leaving the Avon, was £9 for a vessel of only 100 tons, many years passed away before Bristol shipowners thought of resorting to steam power, by which the cost would have been largely reduced. The Chamber of Commerce vainly pointed out, in 1824, that tugs were successfully employed at all the other leading ports. Two well-known Bristolians, Mr. C. Claxton and Mr. M. Whitwill, showed by actual experiment that steam power was equally applicable here, but their arguments for its


adoption met with no response; and the Common Council passed a resolution affirming that its members “at present were not capable of forming any accurate judgment of the expediency of the proposed plan”. The Great Western steamer was designed about ten years later for opening rapid communication with America, yet local bigwigs refused to admit that either time or money would be saved by substituting steam-tugs for men and horses on the Avon. In short, it was not until 1836 that a little vessel called the Fury was brought into operation between Kingroad and Bristol. Her appearance excited disturbances at Pill amongst the labourers who gained a scanty living by acting as towers. In February, 1836, the Fury was seized by a party of these men, who attempted to scuttle her, but finally set her adrift on the Severn. The vessel, however, soon returned to work, and her success being beyond dispute, the old arrangements at last became a matter of history. [The Fury was destroyed in Kingroad, by the explosion of her boiler, on the 21st September, 1859.]

On the night of the 23rd October, 1817, the sailing packet William and Mary, which had left Bristol a few hours previously for Waterford, with a number of passengers, struck on a rock near the Flat Holmes, and almost immediately sank. Out of about sixty persons who were on board only twenty-three were saved. The night was clear, with only a gentle breeze blowing, and the disaster was unquestionably due to the flagrant misconduct of the mate, who had been left in charge by the captain. The inhuman criminal saved his own life by forcing some ladies to quit the only boat - holding four persons - belonging to the packet. Most of the survivors were rescued by Pill pilots.

Queen Charlotte, wife of George III., being on a visit to Bath for the purpose of drinking the waters, was invited to this city by the mayor and Corporation, and responded to their request by driving over on the 17th December, accompanied by the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., and the Princess Elizabeth. After breakfasting at the Mansion House, the royal party crossed Prince's Street bridge, and proceeded along the “newly formed road” by the side of the New Cut to the Hotwells. They then returned to College Green, ascended Park Street, and drove through Berkeley Square to Clifton, “passing under the York Crescent, up Sion Hill, and through the turnpike to the Look-out (Wallis's Wall),[26] on Durdham Down”; returning


through another part of Clifton to Colonel Baillie's residence[27] in Park Row, where “every delicacy and luxury of the season” was “served up in the drawing-room on a most costly service of embossed plate”. On returning, the queen was to have gone over the Drawbridge and through Clare Street and Corn Street; but as the procession approached, the rigging of a small vessel passing the bridge, which was then really a drawbridge, got entangled in the lifted structure - an accident of common occurrence. The royal carriage was consequently stopped; and as the Float was then the receptacle of the city sewage, the overpowering odour of the water is said by a local poet to have forced her majesty to “snuff her royal nose”. [“Rhymes, Latin and English”, by the Rev. John Eagles.] Her majesty had at last to be taken to Bristol Bridge by way of Nelson Street, Union Street, and Dolphin Street, the beauties of which thoroughfares she had an opportunity of admiring, as the cortége proceeded at “a slow rate”. The queen, who died in the following year, was far from popular, and a courtly newswriter in the city noted, with assumed “surprise”, that the tradesmen in the principal streets manifested no tokens of mourning on her demise.

An illustration of the bibulous habits of the Regency is afforded by a tavern bill paid by a Bristolian in August, 1817, to the landlord of the Montagu Hotel (communicated to the Times and Mirror, May 24, 1878). The dinner, which was for twelve guests, and included venison and turtle, was charged 14 guineas; dessert, 2 guineas. The giver of the feast supplied twelve bottles of wine from his private cellar. Beside this, the guests drank claret costing £7; Madeira, £1 18s.; two bottles of hock, £1 8s.; two bottles of champagne, £1 14s.; and two bottles of port, 12s. Altogether the party must have swallowed about three bottles of liquor per head. The hotel bill amounted to £31 7s., exclusive of the wine privately supplied.

At a meeting of the Common Council in August, Alderman Daniel announced that a citizen of Bristol, Thomas Bonville, had authorized him to express his willingness to transfer into the hands of the Corporation, for charitable purposes, several sums of money invested in Government securities, subject to the life interest of himself and others. The Council accepted the proposed trust. In February, 1822, Alderman Daniel announced that Mr. Bonville proposed to hand over - subject


to a similar proviso - a further considerable sum, which was also accepted. Altogether the donations amounted to about £32,800 in three per cent. stock, ten shares in the Bristol Dock Company, and £1,200 in dock bonds; producing a revenue of upwards of £1,000 per annum. Upon the decease in April, 1&12, of Mrs. Bonville, widow of the donor, the Charity Trustees, who had taken the place of the Corporation, came into possession of nearly all the income, and the last annuitant died in 1866. The receipts, in accordance with Mr. Bonville's trust deeds, are distributed yearly in sums varying from £5 5s. to £21 amongst 124 poor housekeepers and residents in the “ancient city”, of a station of life superior to that of recipients of parochial relief. In some remarks on charitable bequests in the Bristol Times of April 4, 1874, the editor said: “Benevolent deeds done to the world at large while there are those of our own family who are in need can scarcely be an acceptable offering either to heaven or society. There is on our local list of charities one - that of Bonville's - the founder of which got the money which he bequeathed through marriage with a lady, some of whose relations were poor when he passed them over to endow strangers”.

The Common Council were informed by Mr. H. Bright in December, 1817, that, a member of the Corporation “taking into consideration the length of time (now 400 years) since any member hath endowed a hospital as a perpetual place of refuge for the aged and infirm”, proposed at his own charge to execute a deed granting to the Corporation in perpetuity the reversion and inheritance of a freehold estate purchased by him for the purpose, and situate in the parishes of Nempnett and Blagdon, the rack rental of which, subject to several leases for lives, was estimated at £600. The donor proposed that the Corporation, pending the existence of the leases, should allow the income to accumulate, and that when the entire property had fallen in hand an almshouse should be erected for the residence of poor aged people, in the proportion of three women to one man, half of the inmates to be members of the Church of England, and the remainder Dissenters. The Council, in accepting the trust, expressed its opinion that the gift reflected the highest honour on the Corporation. As was announced by Mr. Bright at the next meeting, the benevolent donor was Alderman Bengough - long the ruling member of the civic body - who was then suffering from an illness which proved fatal. On his demise, in the following April, it was found that the alderman, though a Unitarian, had expressed a wish in his will to be


buried in the Mayor's Chapel, and had left a large sum for the erection of a monument there to his memory. The Court of Aldermen gave the required permission for the interment, and it appears from the civic records that the inscription upon the monument was achieved by Mr. Bengough's former colleagues. His intentions with reference to the hospital, which legally were void under the statute of mortmain, were, under the provisions of his will, fulfilled by his nephew and heir, George Bengough, who executed a conveyance of the estate in September, 1818. The last of the leases expired in 1878, when the accumulated profits exceeded £11,000. The trustees shortly afterwards proceeded to the erection of a handsome almshouse in the Queen Anne style, a piece of ground in Horfield Road being purchased for the purpose from the Merchants' Society, The building cost about £5,500, and the site £8,500. A peculiarity of this charity - suggested by its founder - is that some of the inmates are aged married couples.

At the December meeting of the Common Council it was reported that the accounts of the late chamberlain, Wintour Harris, who had died a few months previously, showed a serious deficiency. The sureties were called upon to make good the sum of £3,600, which was subsequently reduced to £3,000 on the surrender by Mrs. Harris of certain securities. The new chamberlain, John Langley, was deprived of his post in 1822, on the ground that he had allowed his sisters to claim and collect the rents of a small property in Portwall Lane, which really belonged to Whitson's charities. The matter is obscurely recorded in the civic minute books, and it is significant that a common councillor forthwith resigned in order to take the office of deputy chamberlain, in the place of Mr. Garrard, promoted. The defalcations of the new chamberlain will be noticed hereafter.

In January, 1818, Sir Vicary Gibbs, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, resigned the office of Recorder of Bristol, owing to ill health. His lordship was notable in his time as a stickler for the maintenance of his personal dignity, and always had an officer to gallop before his carriage on his to and fro journeys between Bath and Bristol. He was also famed for an acrid temper, which earned him the name of Sir Vinegar, and for extreme harshness towards offenders tried before him. On one occasion a criminal named Lewis received the following sentence:- “You are to be whipped at a cart's tail from Newgate to the Gallows Field” [the site of Highbury Chapel]. The prisoner having rashly retorted:


“Thank you, my lord, that is all you can do”, Sir Vicary coolly added, as if he had been interrupted, “and back again”. He was a favourite, however, of the Corporation, which in 1816 paid Mr. Owen, R.A., £131 for painting his lordship's portrait. The new recorder was Sir Robert Gifford, then Solicitor-General, and subsequently Lord Chief Justice and a peer. At this period, and down to 1827, the recorders were accustomed to hold only one assize yearly, to the great injury of persons committed for trial, some of whom, after lying in the filthy and unwholesome gaol for nearly twelve months before their cases were decided, were found guiltless of the crimes imputed to them.

The Bristol Crown Fire Office, established in 1718, became extinct through effluxion of time early in 1818. A new company, however, was established under the name of the Crown Fire Office, and an advertisement soliciting continued support appeared on the 17th January. A portion of the old proprietors seceded, and started a new concern called the Bristol Union Fire Office. The latter company, the last local institution of the kind, resolved on discontinuing business on the 3rd of May, 1844. The goodwill of the concern was purchased by the Imperial Company, which had in January, 1840, bought up the Business of the Crown office,

During the month of January, 1818, an altar tomb, bearing an effigy, which had been plastered over early in the present century, when the building was repewed, was discovered in a recess in the south aisle of St. James's Church. The local Monkbarns of the time forthwith rushed to the conclusion that the tomb was that of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the builder of Bristol Castle and founder of St. James's Priory; and an inscription to that effect, bearing the alleged arms of the earl, was placed over the monument. Scientific antiquaries are agreed in repudiating the authenticity of the effigy, which is of later date than the period assigned to it, and clearly represents a civilian.

In the year 1818, the Attorney-General, at the instance of several corporate towns interested in Sir Thomas White's charities, filed an information against the Corporation of Bristol in reference to its management of the estates. In the year 1562, Sir Thomas White, an alderman of London; gave £2,000 to be laid out in the purchase of land for charitable uses, to produce “six score pounds or more”, the Mayor and Corporation of Bristol being appointed trustees. Sir Thomas ordered that, for the first ten years £100 yearly were to be advanced for the benefit of poor apprentices in


Bristol, to be selected by the Council; then, for twenty-four years, the same number of English Corporations were in succession to receive £104 each, to be applied to a similar purpose; and finally, at the end of thirty-four years, the rotation was to recommence. No provision was made for the application of the surplus, and it was supposed that the donor intended it to provide for contingencies. But in the course of years the estates originally producing about “six score pounds”, were estimated to be of the value of £3,500 a year, and the question raised by the information was whether the surplus should be appropriated by the Corporation of Bristol, as had hitherto been the case, or should be divided amongst the Corporations benefited by the original gift. The Bristol Council, contending that it was entitled to the balance, raised a demurrer, which was overruled by the vice-chancellor; but the cause was then carried on appeal to Lord-Chancellor Eldon, whose strong sympathies with Corporations overpowered his customary love of delay, and led to the immediate reversal of the previous judgment.

At the general election in 1818, Mr. R.H. Davis again came forward in the Tory interest. Mr. Protheroe's votes in support of Lord Sidmouth's repressive system of government (the Habeas Corpus Act had been again suspended in the previous year) had offended many of the Whigs, and, finding that they proposed to start Colonel Hugh Baillie, who was a parliamentary reformer, and an opponent of the laws against Roman Catholics, he declined to offer himself. Some of his supporters, however, insisted upon nominating him, and after a poll of four days, ending on the 20th June, during which many Tories split their votes in his favour, he was elected. The numbers were: Mr. Davis, 3,877; Mr. Protheroe, 2,250; Colonel Baillie, 1,684. The friends of the rejected candidate petitioned against the return, on the ground that the sheriffs, by prematurely closing the poll, had prevented nearly a thousand non-resident freemen from voting. The petition was unsuccessful. A few months later a serious misunderstanding arose between Mr. Protheroe and his committee (of which Mr. W. Fripp, jun., was chairman), respecting the expenses of the election, and the former announced that he should not again solicit the representation of the city. Mr. Fripp's name subsequently appeared in the list of leading Tories.

An Act of Parliament having been passed this year appropriating the sum of one million sterling of the national funds towards the erection of additional churches in


populous places, an early application was made to the Ministry by the authorities of St. Augustine's parish, for a grant in aid of the erection of a proposed church near Brandon hill. A donation, equal to one-third of the cost of the building and site (£7,000), having been made in October, the work was begun shortly afterwards, the workmen in the first place removing seven houses partially erected on the spot many years before, but never finished. [Other uncompleted houses in the neighbourhood remained in ruins many years after this date.] The church was consecrated in September, 1823. In December, 1832, a portion of St. Augustine's parish was separated from the mother church, and formed into an independent parish, called St. George's, the incumbent of which became a vicar. The new church, as originally built, was destitute of a chancel, but an annexe, after the model of some ancient basilicas, was erected in 1871.

The punishment of whipping appears to have been still highly approved by the local justices, and continued so for several years. The Bristol Journal of December 4, 1819, contained the following:- “ A man who has been loitering about our city for some days, and who was taken to the Council-house charged with being a nuisance, was publicly whipped on Tuesday at the pump in Wine Street, and immediately after passed to his parish. We cannot too highly applaud the conduct of the magistrates”. The same paper of May 12, 1821, stated that “three men were flogged yesterday at Wine Street pump, being apprehended as rogues and vagabonds”. A month later, it is recorded that “a man was placed in the stocks in St. James's churchyard last week for drunkenness”. In August, 1823, to quote the same authority, a man and two boys were flogged through Bedminster for stealing fruit from a garden. To give one more example, the Journal of April 22, 1826, reported that a man convicted of stealing a piece of meat had received forty-eight lashes at Wine Street pump. “During the exhibition several persons in the crowd had their pockets picked”.

The Bristolians who ventured at this early period to “trans-parish” themselves to Clifton must have found that suburban enjoyments were not without a drop of bitterness. The Bristol Journal of November 27, 1819, after recording several highway robberies in the suburbs, added:- “The roads leading to Clifton are so infested at night with desperadoes that few gentlemen think it safe to walk about alone or unarmed; and yet we hear that at a vestry meeting of the parish on Thursday, to propose measures for lighting and watching it,


a majority determined that it was unnecessary”. Repeated attempts were made without success to overcome the inveterate conservatism, or perhaps the parsimony, of the parishioners. At length, however, a Watching and Lighting Act was obtained during the session of 1824, and a sprinkling of gaslights and a few night-constables were established during the ensuing winter. Another great improvement dates from the year now under review. The roads in Clifton had hitherto been in as unsatisfactory a state as was the police of the parish. But amongst a number of roads which became turnpikes under an Act obtained in 1819 were “the road from the top of Bridge Valley, along the southern side of Durdham Down, to the top of Gallows Acre Lane” (Pembroke Road), and “the road from the bottom of Granby Hill to the Hot-well pumping room”. The construction of several new roads was authorised by the same Act, amongst them being “a new road to lead from . . . the Hot-well pumping room, to lead or pass by the river side, and up the hill, into the road leading from Clifton to Pill Passage, at the top of Bridge Valley”. Dr. Carrick's suggestion (see p.72) was thus adopted, and the new thoroughfare, laid out in 1822, afforded Cliftonians a point of view which has ever since been a theme of admiration.

A few references to the coaching arrangements of this period may not be unworthy of record. On the 6th April, 1819, a new coach began running from the Bush Hotel to Exeter, the time occupied in the journey, 74¾ miles, being fourteen hours - less than 5½ miles an hour! In June, 1820, another new coach started for Manchester, performing the journey in two days - the intervening night being spent at Birmingham. To accomplish the first half of the task, the vehicle left Bristol at half past eight in the morning, and reached Birmingham, 85½ miles, in thirteen hours. Finally, an advertisement published in December, 1821, headed “speed increased”, informed the public that the Regulator coach left London daily at 5 a.m., and arrived at the White Hart, Bristol, at five minutes before nine at night - the speed being barely seven miles an hour.

Great consternation was caused in the city and neighbourhood on the 5th July, 1819, by the failure of the Tolzey Bank, the proprietors of which were Messrs. Worrall and Pope. Though of recent origin, the bank had issued a great number of notes for 20s. and 30s. each, and the disaster affected all classes in the locality, causing a “run” upon some of the other banks, then eleven in number. The town


clerk, Mr. Samuel Worrall,[28] being one of the partners in the Tolzey concern, was obliged to resign his office a few days later, on being declared a bankrupt. He was succeeded, on the 22nd July, by Mr. Ebenezer Ludlow, afterwards a serjeant-at-law. At a meeting of the Common Council, in December, it was ordered that, in consideration of Mr. Worrall's faithful services for thirty-two years, the sum of £400 should be annually paid to the mayor and aldermen, in trust for the use of the late town clerk and of his wife and family, for the remainder of his life. Mr. Worrall, who died in November, 1821, was in his prosperous days a man of great entertaining powers in convivial society, which led to his introduction to the Prince Regent, and he was a frequent guest at Carlton House. On the other hand, he was rude and coarse to his inferiors, and gained in some way the name of “Devil Worrall”, of which he seemed proud. The present town clerk, Mr. D. Travers Surges, has been good enough to furnish the following anecdote, preserved in one of his late father's note-books, which affords an illustration of the social habits of the upper middle class in the early years of the century:- “Worrall lived for many years in a house opposite the Council House, and on one occasion, upon coming home from a party a little 'elevated', as he was getting out of the hackney coach his foot slipped, and he fell to the ground. A crowd immediately assembled, and amongst them a very harmless and quiet silk mercer who resided in High Street, of the name of Camplin. Worrall, still on his back, fixed his eyes on the unfortunate mercer, and pointing at him said, 'That's the man that knocked me down', upon which the crowd took part with the town clerk, and poor Camplin, protesting his innocence, was obliged to run”. To fully realise this scene it must be remembered that the bibulous official presided on the magisterial bench at every quarter sessions.

In July, 1819, the Common Council increased the allowance to the master of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital - who then fed and educated the boys by contract - to £20 per head. This was the last of several advances made in consequence of the great rise in prices in the early years of the century. Down to the outbreak of the French war, the master received £12 per head for the food and instruction of the boys. In


the years of scarcity which followed, the Council allowed him an extra lump sum of £70. This being found inadequate, an advance of £3 per head instead of the gratuity was made in 1805, £2 additional was voted in 1806, £1 more in 1813, and £2 more, as stated above, in 1819. A year or two later, “in consequence of the reduction in the price of provisions”, the grant was again fixed at £17 a head, but the master received a further allowance of £50 for instruction. The contract system was also adopted in the Red Maids' and Colston's Schools, and from some reminiscences of “old boys”, published in the Bristol Times in November, 1856, it appears that the fare in the latter institution down to the end of the Regency was of a somewhat Spartan character. On Saturdays the dinner of the boys consisted of milk gruel, with bread only. On Mondays they were regaled with water gruel, and bread and butter. For the rest of the week they had meat, with bread or vegetables. Breakfast always consisted of bread and butter; for supper there was a double allowance of bread, with butter or cheese. Table beer was given with each meal. The boys were required to mop and scrub the schoolroom, dormitories, and hall, and performed various other menial duties. Details are wanting in reference to the Red Maids' School, but if the accomplishments of the mistresses are to be inferred from the caligraphy of one of them appointed about this time, and whose signature is found in the aldermanic minute book, there can have been little ground for the old-fashioned complaint that the girls were “spoilt by education”.

Edward Bird, the only artist resident in Bristol ever honoured with the title of Royal Academician, expired after a protracted illness on the 2nd November, at his house in King's Parade. His interment took place a week later at the cathedral, when about two hundred leading residents attended to mark their respect for a man whose distinguished talents had conferred honour on the city. A subscription was subsequently raised for the relief of the deceased's family, to which Prince Leopold, husband of the late Princess Charlotte, to whom Bird was appointed historical painter, sent £100. The Earl of Bridgwater gave £650 for a picture of “the embarkation of Louis XVIII.”, the last great work of the artist. In the memoir of Bird published in Cunningham's “Lives of British Painters”, strong charges were made against the citizens of Bristol for their alleged neglect of the painter, but these statements were controverted in Blackwood's Magazine for December, 1833, in a paper by


Bird's friend, the Rev. J. Eagles. Subsequently the charges were revived by Mrs. S.C. Hall in the Art Journal for April, 1843, when Mr. Eagles again stigmatised them as untruthful in the Bristol Journal of the 22nd April of the same year.

The death of George III. occurred on the 29th January, 1820. The proclamation of his successor took place five days afterwards, and as no such event had occurred within the memory of nineteen-twentieths of the population, it excited some interest. The members of the Corporation assembled at the Council House in their black robes, but after proclaiming the new king at the site of the High Cross, they returned to their place of meeting and donned their scarlet habiliments. A procession was then formed, the mayor (Mr. W. Fripp, junr.) and sheriffs taking their places in “a splendid car, carried by twenty-four men”, and proclamation was made at the customary sites. At three of these - St. Peter's pump, St. Thomas's conduit, and the Quay pipe - a hogshead of wine was distributed to the populace, and four hogsheads of porter were given away at other places. Altogether, the Corporation spent £279 over the ceremony. Drinking appears to have been thought the most appropriate manner of inaugurating the new reign. According to the accounts of the Commercial Rooms for that year, the committee spent £67 18s. 11d. of the proprietors' money on wine “drunk on the night of his majesty s accession”! Perhaps these and other excesses brought about a certain amount of reaction. Down to this period it had been the custom, on the evening of the king's birthday, for the mayor and aldermen to invite many of their friends and acquaintances to drink his majesty's health at the Council House. A company of soldiers, standing opposite to the building, fired salutes at intervals, and a military band, stationed on the stairs, rendered musical honours to the carousal. Unseemly results had frequently arisen from this custom, which was also regarded by many as a gross misappropriation of the civic revenue; and the entertainment, which generally cost from £80 to £90, was now abolished.

The general election caused by the demise of the crown found both political parties in Bristol in a state of disorganisation. In the previous year, Mr. R.H. Davis, the Tory member, had been plunged in financial embarrassments by the ill success of a funding scheme, which, it is said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Vansittart) had adopted under his advice, though some contemporaries gave the credit


or discredit of the suggestion to Dr. Beeke, the Dean of Bristol, another private friend of the minister. In either case, Mr. Davis, having lost heavily by speculations connected with the scheme, had withdrawn from the local banking, mercantile, and manufacturing firms of which he was a partner, and the Steadfast Society (which claimed the right of nominating the “blue” candidate), under the belief that the honourable gentleman would be unable to continue his former profuse expenditure at elections, did not invite him to come forward. Mr. Davis, deeply hurt, consequently announced his retirement, observing in his address to the electors that “under the painful recollections of the past year, an invitation would have poured balm into a wounded mind”. Mr. P.J. Miles was chosen by the Steadfast Society as their champion, but his acceptance of their proposal was briskly followed by a withdrawal. Much difference of opinion became apparent in the party, the friends of Mr. Davis being indignant at the action of the society; and the latter at length declined to nominate a candidate unless the late member refused to offer himself. In the meantime, Mr. Davis had found sympathisers whose “liberality”, to use his own words, had “removed the obstacles which originally opposed” his candidature, and he again took the field. These incidents excited much irritation, and greatly shook the influence of the Steadfast Club, which had been allowed for many years to nominate persons for Government appointments. (The value of the offices under its “patronage” was estimated at upwards of £20,000 a year). On the other hand, the division caused amongst the Whigs by the contest of 1818 continued to rankle. Mr. Henry Bright having offered himself, a discontented section of the party nominated Mr. J.B. Baillie without obtaining his consent, and insisted on demanding a poll. In the result Mr. Bright had 2,997 votes; Mr. Davis, 2,250; and Mr. Baillie, 115, Mr. Davis refused to be chaired, by which he saved his friends an expenditure of about £2,500. Mr. Bright, however, continued the old practice, and John Evans states that “ he appeared in a procession of splendour without example on similar occasions”. [Chron. Hist. p, 316.]

The Common Council were informed in June that Mr. Alderman Ames, who died a few weeks previously, had devised the sum of £1,200 in consols to the Corporation, in trust to purchase for the night constable and nine night watchmen of the ward of St. Mary-le-port “a good and substantial great coat, a good strong pair of boots, and a good


strong hat, every two years”. Mr. Ames had been many years alderman of the ward. On the establishment of the present police force, the Corporation, on the pretext that the kind-hearted gentleman's bequest could no longer be applied in accordance with his intentions, thoughtlessly threw the £1,200 into the borough fund, and without doing any appreciable good to anybody the donation was irrecoverably lost.

Much inconvenience being caused by the want of a trustworthy public clock in the city, the Corporation ordered the erection of a timepiece at the Exchange. The clock, which was set up during the spring, cost £166 9s.

The forced withdrawal of the Bill of Pains and Penalties against Queen Caroline was hailed by a majority of the citizens with demonstrations of delight. In spite of a circular issued by the magistrates “earnestly recommending” the inhabitants to abstain from “a measure which might disturb the peace of the city”, a spontaneous illumination took place on the 13th November; and it was remarked by the unsympathetic editor of the Bristol Journal that the display extended to, and was most general in, the districts inhabited by the labouring classes. “The splendour of the dwellings of the out-door paupers”, wrote the angry scribe, “announced that the whole week's allowance from the workhouse had been expended in honour of Queen Caroline”. On the other hand, the upper class Tories displayed their affection for George IV. by keeping their houses in darkness. A congratulatory address to the Queen on the defeat of her persecutor was afterwards adopted at a meeting in the Guildhall, and this again was followed by a gathering of the king's friends, at which an address expressing fidelity to the monarch, and horror at the “treason and blasphemy” abetted by a “licentious press”, was agreed upon with enthusiasm.

The following paragraph, from the Bristol Journal of December 16, 1820, indicates the miserable inefficiency of the police of the city at this date: “We hear that the inhabitants of College-green and its vicinity have enrolled themselves, for the purpose of patrolling the neighbourhood nightly, during the winter, by an alternate watch of four hours each, armed with a bludgeon, dirk, and pistol. Were this plan generally adopted, it would doubtlessly be the means of preventing many depredations”. Although the Common Council regarded this scandalous state of affairs with perfect indifference, it allowed one of its members,


Mr. J. George, the exorbitant sum of £903 10s. 4d. for serving the office of sheriff a second time during this year.

A controversy between the Corporation and Mr. Edward Griffith, steward (judge) of the Tolzey Court, broke out about this time. It appeared from the complaints of the Bristol solicitors that Mr. Griffith, having succeeded in obtaining an appointment as a stipendiary magistrate in London, had taken up his residence in the capital, and persistently neglected his duties in the Tolzey Court, although continuing to receive the fees of his office. Remonstrances being without effect, the Common Council resolved, on the 6th January, 1821, that as Mr. Griffith had left the city, caused great inconvenience to the public by absenting himself from his court, and ignored the summons to attend that meeting, he should be “amoved and removed” from his functions. Mr. Griffith had the audacity to appeal to the superior courts in support of his claim to the judgeship, but was unsuccessful, and thenceforth dropped out of sight.

Much to the displeasure of many residents in the neighbourhood, four rows of lime trees, standing upon that part of the quay still known as the Grove, were removed about the close of 1820. It may be worth while to add that five or six large trees remained in front of the Apple-tree Inn, Broadmead, a door or two to the eastward of Union Street, so late as 1828 or 1829.

On the 28th February, 1821, the Royal Commissioners appointed under an Act of 1819 to inquire into the condition of the charities of the kingdom opened their investigations in the Council House, the charities under the control of the Corporation being the first subject of inquiry. The Commissioners paid another visit to the city in March, 1822, when they dealt with the parochial charities. The result was given in two thick Blue-books, known as the sixth and tenth reports of the Commissioners, of which the portions relating to Bristol were locally reprinted, in two quarto volumes, by Mr. T.J. Manchee, in 1831.

The Bristol Journal of March 11 stated that a few nights previously, “a brother of Mr. Southey, the Poet Laureate, performed the character of Sir Robert Bramble in the comedy of 'The Poor Gentleman', at our theatre. He is from Exeter theatre, and will be an acquisition to the company”. No further allusion to him, however, was made in the Journal. About two years later the same paper had an announcement of the publication of “The History of the West Indies”, in three volumes, by Captain T. Southey, R.M., another brother of the poet.


The census of 1821 credited the ancient city with a population of 52,889. To these figures Clifton added 8,811; St. George's, 5,334; the district of St. James and St. Paul, 3,605; St. Philip's out-parish, 11,824; Mangotsfield, 3,179; and Stapleton, 2,137, making a total for the city and suburbs of 87,779, an increase of 15 per cent. on the return for 1811. The population of Bedminster was now 7,979, and the tything of Stoke Bishop, in Westbury parish, was credited with 1,883.

A local journal of the 23rd June records that on the Monday previous, “as some workmen were removing a monument at the east end of the south aisle of our cathedral, they discovered an elegant altar-piece, similar to that which was lately found in the Mayor's Chapel. At the east end of the north aisle was also discovered a very superb piece of workmanship, the gilding and colours of which were remarkably bright, and the fluted columns very perfect. There are niches on each side with small pedestals”. There is no appearance of an “altar-piece” in the south aisle at the present time, a recess for a tomb occupying the place designated; but the existing work is not ancient, and as there was no outrage on the integrity of a building which chapters of the Georgian era were not capable of committing, the above account is probably correct. As regards the altar-piece, or reredos, in the north aisle, which is supposed to have been walled up during the civil war, its relics still attest the richness and beauty of the original workmanship and the barbarism of the authorities by whom it was brought to light. In 1821 the seventeenth century monument of the Codrington family was in the chancel, near the tomb of Abbot Morgan. But the chapter resolved upon fixing it to the reredos in question, and a large hole was hacked in the tabernacle work for the purpose! Four tablet monuments are also fixed in the reredos, little of which can now be seen.

The coronation of George IV. took place on the 19th July, but was not celebrated in Bristol with the liberality that had marked a similar event sixty years previously, there being no record of fat oxen roasted whole, or of fountains running wine or beer. The members of the Corporation, accompanied by the parochial clergy and officials, the Society of Merchants, the Freemasons, and representatives of various trades[29] walked in procession through the principal streets to the


cathedral to attend service. The building was filled, but it was believed that the only person who had attended a similar service at the coronation of the last king, and who now applied for a seat, was the Dowager Lady Smyth, who had been the reigning “toast” of her generation. The procession returned to the Council House by a circuitous route. The most remarkable feature of the parade was a triumphal car bearing a crown, and a man cased in armour of the time of Henry V. In the afternoon there was a dinner at the Assembly Rooms, the Mayor presiding, after which the company were called upon to drink thirty-five toasts, that of “Our glorious and inestimable Constitution in Church and State” being followed by the glee “With a jolly full bottle”. At night the Corporation gave a ball, which cost upwards of £700. The public buildings and many private houses were illuminated, but one gentleman dyed his candles black on account of “the unmerited exclusion of my queen”. On the Sunday following the coronation, Prebendary Randolph, then in residence at the cathedral, took as the text of his sermon two verses from the Book of Daniel, beginning: “Belshazzar the king made & great feast to a thousand of his lords”, and ending with a reference to the said monarch's “wives and concubines”.[30] The prebendary, it has been alleged, was a disappointed courtier; but a more probable explanation of his impropriety is, that he was a warm sympathiser with Queen Caroline, and had been irritated, like many other Whigs, by the political tergiversations of George IV.

Mention having been made of one of the cathedral dignitaries of the period, the opportunity may be taken to notice some of his ecclesiastical contemporaries. In touching upon some of the abuses of the age, however, it is only fair to observe that the functionaries in question ought not to be judged by the standard of the present day, but by that of their own generation. In an interview which once took place between Sydney Smith and Mr. Gladstone, the witty canon frankly observed to the then youthful statesman that “whenever you see a clergyman of my age, you may feel certain that he is a bad clergyman”; and allowance must be made for the habits of a time when nearly the whole profession was apathetic, slothful, and self-seeking. These conditions being premised, the prebendary entitled to precedence on the ground of seniority is the Rev. F.W. Blomberg, on whom the favours


of royalty were abundantly showered. Very soon after his ordination he was appointed to the valuable living of Shepton Mallet, in the gift of the Prince of Wales, to whom he was chaplain and private secretary, generally living at Carlton House. In 1790, in his 28th year, he was appointed Prebendary of Bristol. A few years later he became Prebendary of Westminster, Vicar of Bradford, Wilts, and Vicar of Banwell. His next elevation was to a canonry of St. Paul's, by right of which he obtained the vicarage of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, one of the richest livings in London. In addition to all this preferment - for much of which he rendered no service whatever - Felix Farley's Bristol Journal of November 2, 1816, announced that he had “lately been presented to a very handsome estate, which had become the property of the Crown in default of an heir-at-law”. Such abundant favour exciting curiosity, an explanation was offered, with the alleged approval of Dr. Blomberg himself. His father, it was said, was an officer in the army, who had made a secret marriage with a lady that died in a few years, whereupon the two children of the union were nursed in an obscure part of the country. During the wars the father died abroad, but immediately afterwards his ghost presented itself to a fellow officer, and gave him instructions where to find the children, and how to put them in possession of a valuable estate. This having been done, the marvel reached the ears of Queen Charlotte, who sent for the youthful Blomberg, and had him brought up and educated with the royal children. If the narrators of this story obtained it from the person chiefly interested, it is singular that their versions, three in number, should be utterly irreconcilable respecting the date and the place of the ghost's appearance, the locality of the deceased's estate, and every other detail into which they enter. Cynical people offered a perfectly unromantic explanation of Dr. Blomberg's good fortune. That he was brought up at Windsor appears certain, and it was generally agreed that in features he strikingly resembled the royal family. Dr. Blomberg's successor as Prebendary of Bristol was Lord W.G.H. Somerset. His lordship had been an officer in a cavalry regiment during the long war, but upon the army being reduced after the fall of Napoleon, he applied for ordination and entered the Church, when he was rapidly promoted by the head of his family to four rectories - Tormarton, Llangattock, Crickhowell, and Conduc. After obtaining a stall at Bristol, his income from the Church was estimated at £3,000 per annum. It was stated by those


acquainted with him that he never wrote a sermon; but there is a tradition that he preached twice in the cathedral in the course of twenty-three years. On the other hand, he had all the skill of his family for driving a coach and four, which it was his constant practice to do after morning service during his periods of residence here; and the stables he built at Tormarton were much more imposing than was the rectory. The Rev. John Surtees, appointed to a seat in the chapter in 1821, and holding two valuable Crown rectories in Norfolk, had no other claim to wealth and dignity than the fact that he was a relative of Lady Eldon, wife of the Lord Chancellor. He was as guiltless of sermon-writing as was his noble colleague, but he preached at intervals when in Bristol. If report is to be credited, he bought his discourses from one of the minor canons, but eventually availed himself of a cheaper market, though the reduced price and inferior quality of the article did not induce him to increase the quantity. During the latter half of his connection with the cathedral, which extended over thirty-six years, his irregularity of attendance and slovenly performance of his duties became almost proverbial. “Belshazzar Randolph”, as he was sometimes called in consequence of the escapade reported above, was the son of a Bristol physician, residing in Trinity Street. He was forty years a prebendary, holding for much of the time the lucrative rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London, the gift of his friend the Duke of Bedford, and also the vicarage of Banwell, Somerset. He was famous for his courtly manners, but through having misdelivered, in early life, a letter written by the Princess of Wales to a friend, sarcastically commenting on the English royal family, he destroyed his prospects of higher advancement in the Church. One of his contemporaries, the Rev. P. Simpson, held a prebend for nearly twenty years, but nothing is recorded of him save that he had three rectories and a vicarage in various parts of the kingdom. Another was the Rev. H.J. Ridley, a brother-in-law to Lord Chancellor Eldon, and described by Sydney Smith as “ worldly-minded, vain, noisy, and perfectly good-natured”. Ridley was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Bankes, who, having married a daughter of the Lord Chancellor, had more than the usual share of favours extended to the great lawyer's connections. In addition to his prebend at Bristol, he had another at Gloucester, and a good living in Dorset. Although he became enormously rich upon the death of his father-in-law, Mr. Bankes continued to hold his preferments for some years after he was incapable of


performing the duties attached to them. This was, however, natural enough, seeing that he had rendered very perfunctory service when in his vigour. In a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, of which a copy appeared in the London Sun of the 13th January, 1834, a citizen complained of “the general neglect and almost total abandonment of our cathedral service”. “We have had”, added the writer, “neither dean nor prebendary in residence for many months”. The defaulting officials at this date were, it was understood, Messrs. Surtees and Bankes. The dean, Dr. Beeke, who was then in his 84th year, was a finished scholar, and, before age disabled him, an energetic promoter of literature and science in the city. His only shortcoming, apparently, was his stature, Sydney Smith alleging that if Bishop Gray stood on the dean's shoulders their combined height would not equal that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. As to Sydney himself, it must be added that, although a political reformer, he was a zealous champion of abuses in the Church. Soon after becoming a prebendary of Bristol, he claimed by rotation the chapter living of Halberton, Devon, a place he is supposed to have never visited except to go through the legal formalities needed to secure the income. Non-residence in those days was so common as to excite little remark. Hannah More, writing from Cowslip Green in 1790, remarked that “thirteen adjoining parishes had not so much as one resident curate, much less rector”. And according to a parliamentary return printed in 1829, out of the 443 clergymen holding livings in the diocese of Bath and Wells, only 177 were resident. Bishops were content to follow the customs of their inferiors. Dr. Kaye, who held the see of Bristol from 1820 to 1827, was also Master of Christ Church College, Cambridge, Regius Professor of Divinity, and the incumbent of a valuable rectory. So indifferent was he to episcopal duties that on one occasion he is said to have compelled the local candidates for ordination to take a journey to Cambridge. His successor. Dr. Gray, was a prebendary of Durham, which was more valuable than his bishopric, whilst Bishop Monk held the deanery of Peterborough and two or three other preferments.

A musical festival was opened on the 30th October, 1821, in St. Paul's Church, when, after a sermon by the Dean of Bristol, Handel's oratorio of “Esther” was performed. On the following day a selection of sacred music was given, and the third morning performance was devoted to “The Messiah”. Evening concerts also took place at the Assembly Rooms


and theatre. Madame Catalani, equally famous for her voice and her rapacity, was the “star” of the festival, which was financially successful. The receipts from the first performance, indeed, reached only £59, which says little for the persuasiveness of the Dean's discourse; but “The Messiah” was especially productive, and the aggregate amounted to £1,856. Including the collections made at the doors, the Infirmary secured £587 by the gathering.

The minutes of the Common Council for the 9th of February, 1822, contain a reference to a local undertaking the story of which has been strangely neglected by Bristol annalists. Little more is recorded of the first Bristol Water Company than that it was formed about 1695 under a special Act of Parliament, that it undertook to pay the Corporation a septennial sum of £166 13s. 4d, for the privilege of supplying the city, that a supply of water obtained from the Avon at Hanham Mills was driven to the higher level by means of a remarkable atmospheric engine near Conham, that there was a reservoir at Lawrence Hill, and that the pipes into the city were formed of the hollowed trunks of trees. It has been stated that the company “soon failed”; but the Act of 1760 for rebuilding Bristol Bridge contained a clause requiring the bridge trustees to lay down new and sufficient pipes if they removed those belonging to the waterworks, and empowered the company to repair their pipes on or near to the bridge. Yet it is difficult to imagine how service pipes could be attached to trunks of trees, and there is no record of reservoirs for dispensing the water in another manner. The sixteenth septennial payment to the Corporation was made in 1807. The Common Council, on the day mentioned above, ordered “that the city seal should be affixed to a deed of release, from the Corporation to the proprietors of the waterworks, of the payments and covenants contained in a certain deed bearing date the 10th day of August, 1695, in consideration of the sum of £500 to be paid by the said proprietors to this Corporation”. It may be presumed that this release was obtained in order to enable the proprietors to dispose of their land at Lawrence Hill and other places. In 1848 several trunks of elm, hollowed with a very large bore, were discovered during excavations in Old Market Street, and a similar pipe was disinterred in West Street in March, 1886.

The West India interest was about this time in a seriously depressed state. In a petition of the West India merchants of Bristol, presented to the House of Commons in April, 1822,


it was stated that owing to the prohibition imposed by Parliament on intercourse between the islands and the United States, the planters were compelled to ship nearly the whole of their rum and molasses to this country, and that, as the supply exceeded the demand, the price of rum barely cleared the expense of distillation, while the low price of sugar, owing to the increased imports from our eastern colonies, left no return for capital after defraying the cost of production. The petitioners therefore prayed for a renewal of the free intercourse formerly existing between the settlements and the continent of North America. In response to this and other similar appeals, the Ministry brought in and passed a Bill for abolishing the restrictions complained of, the colonies being permitted to trade both with each other and with the American States. This was the first great inroad on the old Navigation Laws, and, although disapproved by the ultra-Tory party, was highly applauded by most of the mercantile community.

The Easter holidays of 1822 were thus recorded in the Bristol Journal of April 13: “The annual scenes of rude festivity, and, we may add, of low debauchery, known by the name of 'the Bedminster revels', took place on Monday, as usual at this period of the year; and a fight of no interest was exhibited on Durdham down, between two combatants of 'little note and less skill'”. The following equally singular indication of the changes effected by time is found in the same paper three weeks later: “May-day was celebrated this year with more than its wonted gaiety. Soon after sunrise there was an unusually strong muster upon Clifton down ... 'to sport the light fantastic toe.' . . . During the morning kings and queens out of number paraded the streets. The chimney sweeps, too, made a splendid appearance. The next and most attractive 'bit of life' was on Clifton down to see the racing. Here was life in all its variety. . . . The Fancy [pugilists] too, mustered pretty numerously. [An account of the racing follows] . A better day's sport was never witnessed. After the races, a ring was formed, and Jacky Cabbage shewed to challenge Hazell for a bellyful. Some interruption, however, occurred by the appearance of a Deputy Beak in the ring, so it was off. There was some milling afterwards. ... A [dinner and] ball concluded the evening”. It is rare to find the old-fashioned editor descending from his stilts in this way to notice the manners and customs of the time. In addition to the above seasons of revelry, a correspondent of the Times


and Mirror, whose memory carried him to about this period, recently stated that on Boxing Day a pleasure fair was held “outside the gate”, and was known as the “ Horn Fair”. “It took its name from a grotesque-looking gingerbread cake known as 'the horn', which was made to represent a man's head and shoulders, with two trumpets branching out from his back; they varied in size from a few inches to a yard long. . . . The fair was held in Wade Street. Stalls were pitched on the sides of the road . . . gilt horns were everywhere by hundreds. It was a wild, noisy affair, notable for petty gambling. . . . From morning till night groups of pleasure-seekers wandered up and down amongst the stalls, staking their pence until their pockets were emptied. On New Year's Day a similar fair was held in West Street, from Bullpaunch Lane [famous for bull baiters] to Gloucester Lane”.

Coronation Road, Bedminster, a new turnpike road from Harford's Bridge to the Ashton road, was opened on the 23rd April, 1822, with some ceremony. The Dowager Lady Smyth, of Clift House, in a coach and four, preceded by Captain Smyth's troop of Yeomanry, took part in the inaugural ceremony. The road, which had been under construction for about a year, had received its name when the workmen employed upon it were regaled on the coronation day of the new king.

In July the Prince and Princess of Denmark made a brief visit to the city during their incognito tour in the West of England. Being waited upon by the Mayor (Mr. A. Hilhouse) at their hotel in Clifton, they went down to the Mansion House and were sumptuously entertained. Subsequently they visited Mr. Ricketts's glass house and Mr. Hare's floor-cloth factory. The prince also accompanied the Mayor to the Guildhall, where the quarter sessions were proceeding, and subsequently visited the new gaol.

The parish church of St. Andrew, Clifton, a small and mean edifice, rebuilt during the Commonwealth, had long been inadequate to accommodate even a tithe [sic] of the inhabitants. Much difficulty, however, was encountered in obtaining funds for its reconstruction on a scale worthy of the parish, and it was at length found necessary to guarantee to each subscriber of a certain amount a freehold right to a pew in the best portions of the new church. More than two-thirds of the pews on the floor of the edifice were disposed of in this way. The foundation was laid in the summer of 1819, another site being selected in order that the old building


should remain until its successor was finished. The edifice - a characteristic specimen of Georgian mock Gothic - was consecrated on the 12th August, 1822, by the Bishop of Bristol. An admission fee of four shillings each was demanded from all save a limited section of the poorer inhabitants. A “capital dinner” afterwards took place, at which, says the reporter, “the utmost harmony and gentlemanly deportment prevailed”, the compliment being doubtless an indirect slap at the dubious amenities of Clifton parochial life sixty years ago. The freehold pews - locked up against the invasion of the vulgar - soon became a scandal. Many of the subscribers, on leaving the parish, sold their “property” by auction, and a “good family pew” was eagerly bought up for from £100 to £150; others were let at heavy rents. In 1844, when Mr. Leech wrote his “Church-goer”, he spoke of Clifton church as being “not to any extent the church of the parishioners; the rich and the non-resident occupy the reserved seats, and those few that are nominally free are filled with powdered footmen”. Further reference to the subject will be found under the year 1868.

Amongst the social incidents of the reign of George IV., the practice of stealing human bodies for anatomical purposes, which was then constantly resorted to by agents of the surgical profession, was perhaps the most revolting. The Bristol Journal of the 26th October, 1822, narrated that, a few nights previously, a body was stolen from a grave in St. Augustine's churchyard, and conveyed to the “dissecting-room”, a chamber hired by two or three Bristol surgeons, and situated in the precincts of the cathedral. A quarrel having arisen betwixt the “resurrection men” and their employers, a crowd gathered near the house, the door of which was eventually forced, and the crime discovered. The churchwardens were bound over to prosecute the ostensible occupier of the room, but no result is recorded, the surgeons having doubtless succeeded in hushing up the matter. Less than a fortnight after this affair, three parish constables, in consequence of private information, visited Bedminster churchyard at midnight, and found six persons busily engaged in raising the recently interred body of a young woman. A severe struggle followed. “There were pistols snapped and rapiers drawn, bloody noses and broken heads. The battle was long and severely contested before the patrol was able to secure five; the sixth escaped”. The prisoners were committed for trial, but the result has not been found. Offences of this character could not have been committed with


impunity in populous localities if the streets had been adequately guarded. As a matter of fact the police regulations were farcical. In the newspaper recording the Bedminster outrage is the mock trial of a gentleman, a stranger in the city, charged with whistling in the public thoroughfares between eleven at night and two in the morning, thereby preventing the watchmen from enjoying their accustomed slumbers. One of the injured fraternity, “about sixty years old, and decrepit in the extreme”, is made to depose that “he had originally been in the employment of a member of the - [Corporation], but his infirmities having unfitted him for labour, he was appointed watchman”. As regards “body snatching” in rural parishes, there is evidence that it was frequently practised, to the great horror of country people. A ghastly affair of this kind occurred about 1824 or 1825. Three medical students connected with “the college dissecting room” started one dark evening in a gig for Long Ashton churchyard, for the purpose of disinterring the body of a person whose malady had excited professional interest. One of the youths being left in charge of the vehicle, his companions entered the cemetery and began operations, when one of them was almost frozen with terror on seeing, or imagining he saw, the ghost of the intended “subject”. His companion became infected with his panic, and both fled to their conveyance, in which they hurried homewards. On the following day, the Long Ashton authorities offered a reward for the discovery of the body, which had been stolen during the night; and the students are believed to have had ocular evidence that they had been frightened away by the trick of a gang of professional “resurrectionists”, who did not relish the interference of amateurs. The youth who supposed he saw a spirit, however, died shortly afterwards, having never recovered from the mental shock. He was the son of a dissenting minister in Bristol. His companion in the churchyard, long a member of the Infirmary staff, recounted the story, under feigned names, in Once a Week for October, 1860.

During the year 1822 the old Hotwell house, overhanging the river, built about 1696, and the resort of so much fashionable company for several generations, was removed, to admit of the construction of the new Bridge Valley road to Clifton Down. A handsome pump room, in the Tuscan style, was shortly afterwards erected, a suite of baths - the want of which had always been complained of - being added to the building. The improvement came too late, however, to


arrest the declining popularity of the spring; and with few exceptions visitors resorted to the well rather from curiosity than from belief in its medical efficacy.[31] In June, 1867, the new pump room was in turn closed and demolished, in order to carry out Mr. Howard's plan for the removal of Hotwell Point - an inconvenient prominence on the right bank of the Avon. As the spring reached the surface in the projecting rock, it became entirely inaccessible to the public after March, 1868, and remained so for about ten years. At length, owing to the reasonable complaints of the inhabitants, pipes were laid down in the summer of 1877, and a pump was erected in a cavern hollowed out of the neighbouring cliff; but Dr. P.W. Griffin, in a letter addressed to a local paper in July, 1880, expressed his belief, as the result of analyses, that the true spring had been lost, or that it was subject to variable admixture from other sources. In any case, the distance between the source and the pump caused the water to lose its characteristic temperature before it reached the consumer, and the title of “hot” well - a misnomer from the outset - became wholly inapplicable.

Soon after the accession of George IV. the beautiful little church of St. Mark's, College Green, commonly known as the Mayor's Chapel, having been again allowed to fall into ignorant and presumptuous hands, became the victim of destructive “restorations” carried on for upwards of seven years. Strange to say, no reference to the subject appears in the records of the Common Council; but the cash-book of the city treasurer contains so many brief yet eloquent items that it is possible to form a chronicle of the devastations. The first payment occurred in August, 1822, when Mr. Thomas Clarke, sometimes called a sculptor and sometimes a mason, received £100 for “repairing vestry room, etc”. From an item in the following month, it appears that the renovators had resolved on pulling down the great west window of the church - an interesting specimen of the last era of Decorated architecture. For producing and setting up a copy of the original work, Mr. Clarke received £180. The old masonry was given to Mr. J. Cave, then or soon after a member of the Common Council, who had it placed in a mock ruin in his park at Brentry, where, after being buffetted by the storms


of more than sixty years, its sound condition still demonstrates the recklessness of those who expelled it from its original site. The next payment to Mr. Clarke is £25 4s. for “repairing tombs”. The erection, in 1815, of a gallery for the accommodation of Dr. Goodenough's private pupils has been already mentioned [see p.47]. In 1823 it was determined to construct a new gallery, and Mr. Clarke received £185 3s. for carrying out the order. At this point Mr. William Edkins, a house-painter, begins to figure often in the accounts. This gentleman was entrusted with the task of designing the gallery and superintending the “sculptor's” operations, for which he received £10; and he had £21 more for “superintending the erection of the altar screen” - the original work having been “restored” by Clarke after the removal of a huge and unsightly fabric, in the Dutch style, with which the church was “beautified” about 1721. These works, completed in 1824, were merely preliminary to the grand “embellishment” which the authorities had been induced to sanction through the persuasion of the city chamberlain, Mr. Thomas Garrard, a well-meaning collector of antique curiosities, but as ignorant of Gothic architecture as was the churchwardendom of his time. Having obtained practically unlimited powers, the amateur architect's first efforts were directed to the collection of stained glass of various styles And dates. One lot, costing £166, was obtained at a sale of the effects of Sir Paul Bagot, a Gloucestershire baronet; another, for which £192 were paid, was bought at the great sale at Fonthill: a third lot was purchased in London for £45; and “the figure of a bishop”, the original locality of which is not mentioned, cost £8. In 1828, the so-called renovation of the church began in earnest. The west window of the south aisle was reconstructed, the “cieling” underwent great alterations, a new gallery was built for the City School boys, the church was fresh paved, and the windows were “scraped”. Worse than all this, however, the house-painter already mentioned designed, in conjunction with Mr. Garrard, an “ante-chapel”, with wooden columns and mock vaulting, and was allowed to introduce into the building itself a mass of lath-and-plaster ornamentation, in imitation of carving, bedizened with gold and colour, but in execrable taste, and glaringly incongruous with the true character of the fabric. Upon this paltry gingerbread work alone nearly £1,400 were squandered. The entire “renovation”, including a new organ, a picture over the communion table, by Mr. King, a local artist, and a quantity of “velvet with cloth of


gold fringe for the pews”, entailed a cost of over £5,500. The chapel was reopened in October, 1830, when the Mayor and Corporation attended in great pomp. The organ at that time was placed over the “ante-chapel”, where it blocked up the western window. It was removed to a more suitable position in 1870, and it may be hoped that the time is not far distant when the chapel will undergo a real restoration in intelligent and sympathising hands.

It has been already observed that the high charges imposed on shipping by the Bristol Docks Company became the subject of complaint soon after the completion of the Floating Harbour; and there can be no question that those burdens, aggravated as they were by the exorbitant town and mayor's dues levied by the Corporation, crippled the commercial progress of the port, and diverted trade to places more liberally managed. A striking illustration of the shortsighted rapacity of the local bodies had been furnished in October, 1818, when a consignment of 400 flasks of quicksilver was sent from Cadiz to Bristol for a Liverpool consignee. The dock dues charged were £15; the town dues, £14 11s. 4d; and the wharfage dues, £3 14s. 9d; making a total of £33 6s. 1d. The owner protested against the charges, observing that at Liverpool the total dues demanded would have been only £10 8s. 4d.; but the authorities curtly replied that “it was not in their power to make any alteration”. It was stated, again, that Bristol might have carried on a large business in indigo, which was extensively used by the west of England clothiers; but that the charges on a chest of about 3 cwt. being 16s. 5½d., against 2s. 4½d. levied at Liverpool, the trade was almost entirely diverted. The mayor's dues on a vessel, imposed without reference to burden, were £2 5s., so that an Irish trading sloop of 60 or 80 tons, making twelve voyages yearly, paid £27, while a West India sugar ship of ten times the tonnage paid only £2 5s. on her annual entry. With a view to pressing for relief from these and other grievances, several influential firms co-operated in the spring of 1823 in establishing a local Chamber of Commerce, of which Mr. Joseph Reynolds was the first president, Messrs. Thomas Stock and Joseph Cookson being appointed vice-presidents. The new institution lost no time in appealing to public opinion on the subject. A paper showing the duties payable on leading imports at the chief ports, bringing into relief the enormous excess of taxation at Bristol, was published by the Chamber, and made a profound impression. When the new body memorialised the Common Council,


however (in September), urging for a remission of the taxes, the document was contemptuously “laid on the table”. The Chamber soon after returned to the charge, whereupon the Council, in January, 1824, passed a resolution condemning the acts of its critics as “hasty, premature, and animated by hostile feelings”. The result was a petition to the House of Commons, praying for an inquiry into the causes of the languishing condition of the city. The Corporation met the threatened attack by introducing a Bill into Parliament, ostensibly for the purpose of enabling it to reduce its dues, but really - its opponents asserted - with the object of obtaining legislative sanction for taxation which many merchants held to be illegally imposed. The Bill was withdrawn through the opposition offered by the Chamber of Commerce, supported by the citizens generally, who subscribed £3,000 to carry on the struggle. It was, however, revived in 1825, when a prolonged conflict took place between the civic authorities and the mercantile and trading interests. The latter, after laying bare the real motive of the promoters of the scheme, and asserting that the preferred abatement in the dues still left them excessive as compared with those of other leading ports, made a powerful attack on the Corporation itself. It was shown that the Common Council was self-elected and irresponsible, that it rendered no services in return for the taxes it imposed on shipping, that it published no accounts, and administered the revenues of which it was trustee with a wanton disregard for the opinion of the citizens. The oath of secrecy imposed on its members was, it was added, a practical avowal that its proceedings would not bear the face of day. What lent the greatest weight to these charges was the fact that they were supported by the testimony of influential citizens of both political parties, some prominent Tories being even more zealous in the attack than were their Whig colleagues. The Corporation, however, defiantly retorted through their parliamentary counsel, that the port dues, as well as all their other estates, though applicable to public purposes at their discretion, were their personal property - “as much so as any estate belonging to any peer” - and that no one had a right to demand an account as to how the revenues were administered. Mr. Serjeant Ludlow, the town clerk, scornfully declared to the Commons' committee that it was a new thing to contend that the law courts, or even Parliament itself, could control a Corporation in the expenditure of its own money. He flatly denied that the people of Bristol had any interest in the corporate funds,


and against each a principle, he said, the Corporation would straggle to the utmost extremity. What answer a reformed House of Commons would have made to these insolent pretensions may be left to the judgment of the reader. Even the Legislature of 1825, dominated as it was by aristocratic influences, repelled the attempt of the Common Council to exchange a doubtful prescriptive title for one resting on an Act of Parliament. As the Chamber of Commerce had suggested, power was given to reduce the dues without trenching on the question of legal rights, and in this form the Bill passed. A Government Commission to inquire into the collection and management of the revenue having visited the city in November, one of its members, the Hon. Mr. Wallace, deploring the differences between the authorities and the inhabitants, offered to remain in Bristol with a view to effecting a reconciliation. The Merchants' Society and the Chamber of Commerce cordially accepted the overture; but the Council forwarded Mr. Wallace a resolution in December, declaring that negotiation was useless, seeing that the differences “wholly consist of hostile aggression on the one hand on the revenue and constitutional government of the Corporation, and on the other on the necessary defence and maintenance of rights established for centuries”. By the alterations effected under the new Act, the obnoxious corporate imposts[32] were reduced nearly two-fifths, or from £5,500 to about £3,500. But the results justified the apprehensions of those who had contended that the concessions would prove inadequate to revive the commerce of the city, inasmuch as they left the port charges in excess of those of more enterprising rival towns. The question again became a burning one in 1833.

For some time previous to this date the Corporation had been perplexed how to administer the increasing revenues of Dr. Thomas White's charities with a due regard for the wishes of the donor. According to Dr. White's will, the Corporation were yearly to devote £100, part of the surplus income of his estate after providing for his collegiate endowment, to repairing the highways leading to the city of Bristol. But whilst the general introduction of turnpikes rendered this expenditure unnecessary, the rents of the property continued to increase, and though large sums were spent on


roads which were not turnpikes, the unexpended surplus accumulated from year to year. The recorder, Sir Robert Gifford, having advised the Corporation that they were not justified in spending more than £100 per annum on roads, it was determined in 1820 to apply for a scheme to the Court of Chancery, by which they might spend £200 in that way, and devote the remaining surplus to introducing additional almspeople into Dr. Whitens hospital in Temple Street - the inmates of which they had already increased from twelve to twenty-four. The court having objected to some of the details, a new scheme was suggested, which was ultimately sanctioned, and which the Common Council in March, 1823, formally approved, and ordered the mayor and aldermen to carry into effect. By this plan the surplus applicable to roads (£479) was distributed as follows:- £100 to roads; £100 to loans and gifts similar to those created by Dr. White; £162 to eight additional almspeople; £83 to augmenting the pay of those in the hospital; and £34 for contingencies. The fund in hand, £3,400, was to be spent in renovating and extending the almshouses. To avoid recurring to the subject again, it may be added that through the alterations made in the laws respecting highways, the last appropriation of money for the repair of roads was in 1860, when about £5 were paid to the Local Board towards the cost of repairing a footway to Bedminster. The fund having accumulated afresh to nearly £3,900, the Charity Trustees, in 1859, obtained an Act, under which £700 were applied to augment the endowment of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, £1,200 to the Grammar School endowment, about £100 towards repairs at Trinity Hospital, and the balance towards the exhibition fund of the Grammar School. It was further enacted that future surpluses should be invested for the benefit of the last-named institution.

Much consternation was excited amongst the West India interest in the spring of 1823 by an attempt of certain East India merchants to obtain the abolition of the heavy extra duties on sugar imported from our Eastern settlements. The Common Council adopted a petition to Parliament, asserting that as the West India trade was the most important branch of local commerce, and had largely absorbed the capital of the citizens, the project to deprive the sugar industry of the islands of its ancient protection had excited serious alarm. The Council expressed its belief that “from the ruinous prices of sugar of late years, the slightest further depression would lead to the total and speedy ruin of the planters, and the extinction of West India commerce” - with consequences


disastrous to Bristol. [The wholesale price of raw sugar was then about 4d. per pound.] Notwithstanding this and similar protests, the Goyemment, in 1826, admitted Mauritius sugar at the West India rates, and in 1830 reduced the extra burden on Bombay sugar to 8s. per cwt., to the great grief of the interest previously “protected”.

Some curious illustrations of the old law of deodands occur in the civic accounts about this time. According to the immemorial custom of the realm, any personal chattel which was the immediate occasion of the death of a man or woman (but not of a child) was forfeited to the king or to the lord of the manor, the value being applied, prior to the Reformation, to the purchase of prayers for the soul of the person snatched away. Thus, if a man fell from a ship in fresh water, and was drowned, ancient legal sages had laid down that the vessel and cargo were, in strictness of law, forfeited as a deodand. The absurdity of the system had, however, been mitigated by the juries empannelled to inquire into the cause of death, who took upon themselves to fix the value of the article forfeited to the lord of the franchise; and the Corporation of Bristol are thus found receiving one shilling as the value of a wagon and team of horses. In another case a ship is valued at two shillings; and in a third the jury assessed a ship and its contents as worth only one shilling. Reformers long protested against a law which practically forced coroners' juries to trifle with their oaths. Deodands were not abolished until 1847.

The Bristol Philosophical and Literary Institution was founded in 1817 by a few public-spirited citizens who felt the want of a local organisation for the promotion of science. Funds having been subscribed for the construction of a building suitable for the purpose in view, a site was purchased in Park Street, and the foundation stone was laid by the mayor (Mr. W. Fripp, junr.) in February, 1820. The edifice, which was much more imposing in its appearance than commodious in its arrangements, cost £11,000. It was finished and opened early in 1823. A dinner was given on the occasion, and some merry local gossips have recorded that, during the dubious “feast of reason” which followed the banquet, Mr. Samuel Lunell, an energetic promoter of the institution, in order to teach his scientific hearers humility, let an apple drop from his hand, and asked why it fell rather than rose, concluding with the poser: “What keeps the moon up in the sky?” The inconvenient querist received no response, save a request from an alderman to “pass the decanters”.


In an Act for “preventing encroachments, annoyances, and other nuisances”, obtained by the Corporation in 1788, power was taken for placing barriers at each end of Broad Street during the time business was being transacted at assizes and quarter sessions. This provision does not appear to have been exercised between 1703 and 1818, but after the election to the town clerkship of Mr. Ludlow, that fretful official caused the street to be blocked at every sitting of the court. After submitting to the annoyance from 1819 to the summer of 1823, the tradesmen of the city complained loudly of the interruption to business; and the Court of Aldermen, after a brief attempt to maintain the obstruction, advised that the portion of the street in front of the Guildhall should be macadamised. The only subsequent occasion on which the barriers were raised was in 1832, during the sitting of the special commission for the trial of the rioters.

A new assessment of the city was laid before the Court of Aldermen in May, 1823. The total annual value of the property within the ancient boundaries was £186,756.

During the mayoralty of Mr. James George, 1822-3, he was presented by his wife with an addition to his family. It was resolved by his brother corporators to commemorate an event so rare at the Mansion House by the presentation of a “silver cradle”, value 100 guineas; and the gift was soon afterwards made through the sheriffs, Messrs. Cave and Goldney.

The Council House, a modest but not ungraceful structure erected in 1704, had been long condemned, as inconvenient in its arrangements and unworthy of the wealthy body to whom it belonged. So early as 1788 an Act had been obtained for rebuilding the house on an enlarged scale by the absorption of the site of the disused church of St. Ewen's (the south aisle of which had been appropriated for the original Council House) and by the purchase of what was formerly known as Forster's Coffee House, together with an adjoining dwelling in Corn Street. The church was dismantled in 1791, but for some reason the Corporation took no further steps until the date now under review, when it obtained from the then celebrated architect. Sir R. Smirke, a design for a spacious and stately edifice in the classical style, comprising not only a Council House but a new Guildhall. The desirability of throwing back the municipal building in order to widen Broad Street and Corn Street led, however, to the rejection of the plan; and it was suggested that a Council House, assize court, etc., should be erected in


the centre of Queen Square. Eventually Smirke produced a design for a Council House only on the old spot, suggesting that the streets could be widened to the extent desired by the authorities if the two adjoining houses in Corn Street were removed. This scheme was approved in 1823, and the houses in Corn Street were afterwards bought for £2,740, but only one was then demolished. The foundation stone of the new civic premises was laid by the mayor (Mr. J. Barrow)[33] in May, 1824. A grand procession, including the members of the Corporation, the Merchants, Society, the Incorporation of the Poor, the clergy, citizens, schoolchildren, etc., marched from the Guilldhall by Broad Street, Quay Street, St. Stephen Street, and Corn Street, to the vacant ground; and his worship, after duly laying the stone, delivered an appropriate little address. As the building progressed, it became a subject of general remark that the lines of Smirke's design did not harmonise with those of Corn Street and Broad Street. Amongst the epigrams to which the fact gave rise, the following appeared in the high-Tory Bristol Journal:-

“Why yonder mansion stands awry,
Does Bristol wondering seek?
Like to its councils is its site,
Oblique, oblique, oblique!”

During the reconstruction of the council chamber, the Corporation held its sittings in a large room between Small Street and Broad Street, appertaining to the (former) Mulberry Tree tavern.[34] The Council House, which cost about £16,000, was completed and occupied in February, 1827, when a figure of Justice by the Bristol-born sculptor, Bailey Baily, B.A., was placed over the front in Corn Street. The aldermanic body was not held in much esteem, and a joke, to the effect that the statue was only too faithfully symbolic of the bench, inasmuch as it was armed with a sword but was destitute of a balance, had widespread success. The court for magisterial business designed by Smirke was so badly lighted that it was condemned, and another was subsequently erected at the west side of the Council House, and finished in November, 1829, at a further cost of about £1,400. To improve the approach to this court, “Forster's Coffee House”, the second of the quaint old houses in Corn Street purchased in 1823, was demolished in 1834.


Mr. Matthew Brickdale, eighteen years Member of Parliament for the city, and long the senior member of the Common Council, resigned his seat in the latter body in January, 1824. He had been in early life a wealthy woollen draper in High Street, but impoverished himself by profuse expenditure at four contested elections. During the closing years of his life he was chiefly supported by his daughter, who obtained the modest situation of housekeeper at the Custom House. On his resignation being read to the Council, it was suggested that he should be granted a pension of £200. The gift was, however, limited to a single vote of £200. Mr. Brickdale died in 1831, aged 97. Mr. Cruger, Brickdale's Whig rival, and once his colleague in the representation, surrendered his aldermanic gown in 1792, when he returned to his native city, New York; but he retained the office of Common Councillor until his death in 1827. An interesting letter from Cruger to Brickdale will be found in Mr. Leech's “Brief Romances of Bristol History”, p.237.

In February, 1824, in the course of some reparations on the first floor of the house in College Green adjoining the western side of the Mayor's Chapel, a small oratory was discovered in the thickness of the party wall, proving that the place had originally formed part of the monastic buildings. A piscina was found intact, and remains of paintings were observed on the walls, some of which were supposed to represent the Nativity and the Resurrection. In one corner was a double-sighted squint or hagioscope, by which an inmate would have been able to see the performance of Mass at the high altar of the church.

The foundation stone of the Arcade leading from St. James's Barton to the Horsefair was laid in May; and the building, which was esteemed at the time as remarkably ornamental and graceful, was finished and opened in 1825. The Lower Arcade was completed soon after.

For the purpose of making a street improvement in the neighbourhood, the Corporation during the spring purchased the interest of a Mr. William Player in the Castle Mill, for £453 10s. 10d., and the building, which represented the most ancient industrial institution in the city, was soon afterwards removed.

Locomotive steam engines had been employed upon two colliery railways near Newcastle-upon-Tyne for nearly ten years previously to this date, but the surpassing importance of the invention of Hedley and Stephenson remained unrecognised by even the keenest and most enterprising men of


business. At length, during a speculative mania which was to end in widespread disaster, the matter excited attention, and in December, 1824, a prospectus appeared of the Bath and Bristol Railway Company, which proposed to avail itself of “that grand improvement, the locomotive steam engine”, for the conveyance of passengers and merchandise. The cost of the proposed undertaking was estimated at £8,000 a mile, and a prospect was held out of travelling from Bristol to Bath in the incredibly short space of one hour. The scheme was received with much approval, and applications were made for shares to the amount of double the proposed capital of £100,000. Shortly afterwards a meeting was held, the mayor (Mr. T. Hassell) presiding, at which it was resolved to form a company, to be called the Bristol, Northern and Western Railway Company, for opening communications with the midland and western counties. The capital was to be £800,000 in £60 shares. The capital reserved for Bristol was subscribed within an hour, and equal enthusiasm was shown in Birmingham and other towns. This prospectus was followed by that of the London and Bristol Railroad Company, with a proposed capital of £1,500,000 in £100 shares. The celebrated road improver, Mr. McAdam, had made a preliminary survey of the country for this undertaking, which he recommended should follow the course of the White Horse Valley, characteristically suggesting that a new turnpike road should accompany the railroad from end to end, by which the distance to London would be reduced from 120 to 110 miles. The shares of this company were taken up before even the prospectus was printed. Next, some enterprising people at Taunton proposed the construction of the “Grand Western”, railway from Bristol to Exeter, the cost of which was estimated at only £200,000. The whole of these magnificent schemes, in common with hundreds of others less substantial, collapsed in the panic which is about to be noticed.

Early in the year 1825, the Earl of Liverpool, Prime Minister, and Mr. Canning, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who were sojourning at Bath in the hope of recovering health - though the life and labours of both were fast hastening to a close - accepted an invitation from the mayor and Corporation to pay a visit to Bristol, and arrived accordingly on the 12th January. The distinguished guests were first presented with the freedom of the city. In reply to the town clerk, who in a well-turned speech communicated the intention of the corporate body, Lord Liverpool expressed his thanks. He had, he observed, some patrimonial claims


upon the city which would have rendered such an honour desirable to him, but he preferred receiving it as a testimony of public approval. Mr. Canning having also briefly acknowledged the compliment, the two statesmen were then presented with the freedom of the Merchants' Company, and afterwards received an address from the Chamber of Commerce, thanking them for the reforms recently effected in the commercial code of the country. In his reply to the latter, Mr. Canning expressed his belief that “a free and liberal policy in regard to trade was increasing throughout the world”. In the evening the guests were entertained to dinner at the Mansion House, after which twenty-eight toasts were drunk. (The entertainment cost the Corporation £665.) The Prime Minister returned to Bath after dinner, but Mr. Canning slept in Clifton, and viewed the scenery of the neighbourhood next morning, before his departure.

The early months of 1825 are memorable in English history for a speculative mania as unreasoning and as widespread as that which seized the nation during the South Sea frenzy in the previous century. People of all classes rushed into joint-stock enterprises which were expected to bring in oceans of wealth; and gambling operations in shares, fomented by the madness of the hour, actually enabled some to make fortunes, which they forthwith invested in new bubbles. The rage could not have extended so far had not the Bank of England, in spite of continuous exportations of gold, enormously increased its issues of paper money, in which course it was followed with still greater recklessness by the provincial bankers, who in a few months more than doubled the previous circulation of their notes by making free advances to speculators. At length, in September, the London issues were materially reduced, and the inevitable collapse which followed brought about the most overwhelming revulsion of commerce ever known in the country. In December two large London banks stopped payment, and about seventy country banks became insolvent within a few weeks. The only failure in Bristol (December 20) was that of Messrs. Browne, Cavanagh & Co., whose establishment - the Bullion Bank - stood nearly opposite to the Exchange. Intense alarm being caused by the suspension, there was a rush upon the other banks to demand payment of their notes. A declaration of confidence in these establishments was, however, rapidly signed by the leading firms of the city, and the panic subsided. The crash nevertheless brought about a notable reduction in the local banking houses. In June, 1826,


Messrs. Pitt, Powell & Fripp, Bridge Parade, retired from business. Messrs. Cave, Ames & Gave, Corn Street, about the same time joined the Old Bank of Messrs. Elton, Baillie, Tyndall & Co. A few weeks later, Messrs. Ricketts, Thorne & Courtney, whose premises - the curious house at the corner of Wine and High Streets - were known as the Castle Bank, also withdrew, and their example was immediately afterwards followed by Messrs. Worrall and Gold, who had an office in the Exchange. Half the private banks in Bristol thus disappeared in less than a twelvemonth. In December, 1828, the firm of Savery, Towgood, Yerbury & Towgood, Wine Street, also relinquished business.

In 1824, a few promoters of education amongst the poor, the most prominent of whom were Dr. Birkbeck and Mr. (afterwards Lord) Brougham, suggested the establishment of Mechanics' Institutes in populous towns. The movement found local supporters in the following year, and in June; 1825, an institution on a modest scale was opened in some rooms in Prince's Street. Projects of this character were then regarded with suspicion by old-fashioned politicians. The Bristol Journal denounced the “mania for raising the lower orders above their proper sphere”, and gave prominence to an article extracted from a London paper, a brief extract from which may be amusing. After remarking that “there only wants a few years' working of Mr. Brougham's infidel college [University College, London], to enlist the shopkeepers on the side of the rabble, and thus sever the only remaining bond by which poverty, ignorance, and numbers are held in subordination to rank, wealth, and knowledge”, the able editor, referring to mechanics' institutions solemnly added: “A scheme more completely adapted to the destruction of this empire could not have been invented”. Unfortunately for the working classes, their educational training was so deficient at that period that comparatively few could avail themselves of the advantages of the institution, which was mainly supported by tradesmen and their families. In November, 1832, it was removed to a new building erected for the purpose in Broadmead, but when the attraction of novelty had passed away, the subscribers who had been gained by the change of site gradually fell off. After languishing for some years, the institution was dissolved, and its library was transferred to the Athenæum, founded in February, 1845.

An interesting religious body - descendants of the Huguenots who fled from France and settled in Bristol after the


revocation of the Edict of Nantes - disappeared in the summer of 1825. The original fugitives were for some years permitted to use the Mayor's Chapel for their weekly worship; but in the reign of George I. the Corporation resolved on resuming occupation of the building, and offered the French Protestants a plot of ground in Orchard Street at a nominal rent, upon which they built a chapel of their own. It was highly characteristic of the old Corporation, that the land thus disposed of was not its own property, but was held in trust for charitable purposes, being part of the estate of Queen Elizabeth's hospital. A lease, renewable every 14 years at a small fine, was granted in September, 1729, to Jacob Peloquin, merchant, and Peter Panon, stuff-maker, at a yearly rent of £1 17s. 6d. The congregation were negligent in securing renewals of the lease, but on several occasions no advantage was taken of their carelessness. In 1797 the lease seems to have lapsed, but the Rev. Francis de Soyres, chaplain, was allowed to rent the chapel at a charge of two guineas yearly. His successor, the Rev. J.S. Pons, had a similar grant in 1823. The rent was paid up to June, 1825, when the congregation, which, though once numerous, had been constantly diminishing, was finally broken up. The chapel, in 1832, was granted at the old rent to Dr. Kentish, Dr. Davies, and Mr. Wm. Mortimer, who fitted it up as a medical library. Having been again vacated about 1850, it was taken in 1856 by a congregation of Plymouth Brethren at a rent of £25 per annum.

The merchants, shipowners, and others who had agitated for the reduction of the town and mayor's dues, observing the impracticable tactics of the Corporation, resolved about this time upon trying whether the rights and privileges claimed by the civic oligarchy were not assailable in the law courts. It is noteworthy that the movers in this experiment were for the most part leading Tories, and that they were zealously supported by the Journal, one of the chief organs of the party, which denounced what it called “the system of favouritism perpetuated by a select body who have by degrees elected themselves into close and tyrannical family compacts”. The Whig Gazette, on the other hand, was the organ and apologist of the Corporation. Towards the close of 1825 an application was made in the King's Bench for a writ of quo warranto, calling upon the mayor and sheriffs to show by what authority they exercised their offices. The promoters of this proceeding contended that in the reign of Edward III. the mayor and sheriffs were elected by the


burgesses of the town, and that this right of the inhabitants generally had been filched from them by the help of an illegal charter obtained from Charles II. For the Corporation it was contended that the governing charter of the city was that of Queen Anne, by which the right of self-election was distinctly given to the Common Council; and this defence was upheld in May, 1826, by the Court of King's Bench. Whilst this case was pending, the assailants of the Corporation commenced another action, directed against the town dues. It appeared that whilst the civic archives were being explored in reference to the quo warranto a charter of Edward IV. was found, which, in conferring upon the Corporation the power to levy dues on shipping, directed that the receipts should be applied to the reparation of the quays, pavements, etc., of the city. In consequence of this discovery, application was made for a mandamus against the Corporation, requiring them to pay over to the commissioners of paving, in aid of their funds, the income derived from the town dues. In May, 1826, the Corporation put in the technical plea that they had never been asked to do so. In reply the promoters pointed out that, as all the paving commissioners were nominees of the Common Council, there was no independent official capable of taking action on behalf of the ratepayers; but the judges, whose sympathy for privileged bodies and vested rights was in those days carried to excess, held the plea of the Corporation to be sufficient, and the rule for a mandamus was discharged. The Corporation's law costs in the above cases exceeded £3,500. In November, 1826, the Chamber of Commerce, changing the object of its attack, requested the Society of Merchants, who held a lease of the wharfage dues of the Corporation for the sum of £10 yearly, to permit an examination of their accounts, it being urged that the dues were grievous to commerce, and produced a revenue enormously in excess of the expenditure incurred in maintaining the quays and wharves of the port. The society's emphatic refusal of this demand was warmly applauded by the Common Council.

“Cabriolets”, or “flys”, drawn by a single horse had been introduced into London shortly before this time, and had in a large measure superseded the old lumbering “hackney coach”. The Common Council in March, 1826, sanctioned a similar innovation in Bristol, but limited the number of the new vehicles to forty.[35] The number was doubled four years


later. As another novelty in locomotion, it may be stated that passenger “wherries”, began to ply from Cumberland Basin to Princess Street bridge in 1824, and proved so popular that bye-laws fixing the fares were passed by the Common Council in 1827.

Many thousand persons assembled on the banks of the Avon, near the Hotwell, on the 22nd May, 1826, in consequence of an announcement of an American, named Courtney, that he would take a “flying leap” from St. Vincent's rocks to the opposite side of the river. A rope stretched from the highest point of the rocks, above Giant's Cave, was made fast to a tree on the opposite side of the stream; and at the time fixed Courtney appeared, suspended below the rope in a horizontal position, and accomplished the descent, 1,100 feet, in a few seconds, amidst great applause. The feat was repeated on the 5th June with equal success. It may be added that it had been achieved nearly a century earlier, by a man named Thomas Eadman - immortalised in Hogarth's engraving of “The Fair” - who visited Clifton in April, 1736.

A general election took place in July, and promised at the outset to pass off quietly in this city. The sitting members, Messrs. Bright and Hart Davis, had informed their respective parties that they should prefer to resign rather than bear the onerous expenses of a contest; whereupon the local leaders resolved to avoid a struggle by re-electing the old representatives, and started private subscriptions for defraying the cost. This amicable arrangement, however, was promptly denounced by the more advanced section of the Whig party, who were discontented with Mr. Bright's votes on religious disabilities and other questions, and who determined to nominate Mr. Edward Protheroe. Though the latter declined to stand, he was brought to the poll, to the great joy of the freemen, who regarded economy in election matters as “robbing them of their rights”. A serious riot took place on the nomination day, during which the Bush Hotel, Mr. Bright's head-quarters, was partially sacked by the mob. The poll (the last taken in the Guildhall) was kept open for a week, and resulted as follows: Mr. Davis, 8,887; Mr. Bright, 2,315; Mr. Protheroe, 1,873. The names of 999


persons were added to the burgess roll during the contest, doubtless at the expense of the candidates, committees.

The noxious condition during the summer months of the Floating Harbour, which, as has been already observed, was then the receptacle of nearly all the sewage of the city, had for several years provoked loud complaints on the part of citizens whose dwellings or places of business lay near its banks. The dock directors, however, treated appeals for improvement with contemptuous indifference. In 1825, when the weather was exceptionally hot, and when the Float was described in one of the local journals as a “stagnant mass of putridity”, the intolerable character of the nuisance at last stirred up the citizens to co-operate for their own relief. In February, 1826, the Attorney-General applied to the Court of King's Bench for a mandamus against the Dock Company, requiring them to make proper provision for carrying the sewage into the tidal river, as it was held they were under an obligation to do by their original Act. It was stated in court that nearly six miles of sewers drained into the Float. The directors denied their liability, but a mandamus was granted in modified terms, ordering them to make such alterations as were necessary. Attempting to evade this requirement by delay, further proceedings were taken against them in the following year, when a peremptory order was issued. They then set about the construction of a culvert, known as Mylne's culvert, from the name of its designer, by which, at a cost of about £7,000, the filthy waters of the Frome were diverted from the harbour, and conveyed by a tunnel under the old bed of the Avon to the New Cut.

The latest record of punishment by the stocks in this city occurs in August, 1826, and the incident throws some light on the habits of the lower classes of that generation. One Sunday afternoon fourteen labourers entered St. Mary Redcliff churchyard, took possession of a form which had been placed at the south porch preparatory to a funeral, and carried it away to the lower part of the burial ground, where they held a noisy carousal. On being brought before the magistrates, two of them, refusing to pay a small fine, were ordered to be “exposed for three hours in the stocks on Redcliff Hill”, and the sentence was forthwith carried out.[36]

The recordership of the city became vacant in September


through the death of Lord Gifford, in whose room the Common Council elected Sir John Copley, Master of the Rolls. A few months later, on the break up of the Liverpool Ministry, Sir John was appointed Lord Chancellor, and raised to the peerage under the title of Lord Lyndhurst. It is said that Mr. Canning's despatch, offering him a seat in the Cabinet, was delivered to the recorder during morning service in Henbury church. The assize of 1827 was certainly held a day or two before the reconstruction of the Ministry. On the election of a new recorder some members of the Corporation appear to have had presentiments as to the danger of appointing a violent political partisan. At a meeting of the Common Council on the 11th July, 1827, a resolution inviting Sir Charles Wetherell to accept the office was lost, the votes for and against it (eleven) being equal. Another meeting on the 21st had a like result, thirteen votes being given on each side. A week later, however, the opposition was withdrawn, and Sir Charles was unanimously elected.

On the 28th of May, 1827, appeared the first number of a daily journal of four pages (about the size of ‘Punch’), styled ‘The Bristolian: Daily Local Publication’, and published at 16½, Broad Street, price three-halfpence. Its proprietor and conductor was a person named James Acland, who had recently taken up his residence in the city. The contents were almost exclusively of a local character, reports of police cases being a prominent feature. The newspaper - for it was unquestionably a newspaper - did not bear the stamp (costing nearly fourpence) required by law, the editor coolly alleging that the work was a pamphlet; and for a few days the Stamp Office authorities were content to receive the pamphlet duty of 3s. on each publication. On the 5th June, however, they decided that the Bristolian was a newspaper, whereupon Acland next morning produced what he called a new work. The Bristolian: Daily Literary Publication, all the local intelligence being suppressed. Though in this form it escaped the duty on newspapers, it ceased to be attractive to local readers, and the proprietor on the 14th June boldly revived his police intelligence. The case reported that day is still worthy of note. A sailor named Redding, who had served about twenty years in the navy, was convicted of having brought with him from Ireland a two-gallon keg of whisky, which he had bought of a spirit dealer at Cork. Irish whisky could not then be imported in less quantities than 100 gallons, and Redding, convicted of the “offence”, was sentenced to “five years' compulsory service on board a king's ship” - the


punishment imposed by an Act passed in 1825. The indignation excited by the decision was not lessened by the fact that Alderman Fripp, jun., one of the presiding justices, anxious to prevent the case from coming to the public ear, had insisted on expelling Acland, the only reporter present, from the court. As the latter naturally made the most of the affair, public feeling was so strongly stirred that Redding was eventually liberated; and the prisoner and his champion enjoyed a triumphal procession through the streets. In the meantime, however, Acland's newspaper had come to grief. The anger of the Government officials at the infraction of the stamp laws was aggravated by Redding's case, which redounded so little to the credit of their employers; and on the 18th June - in the nineteenth daily number of the Bristolian - Acland announced its cessation, but promised to produce a pamphlet every Wednesday and Saturday. In that form, owing largely to the personality in which its compiler indulged, the periodical attained a large circulation. Up to that time no Bristol newspaper had reported the business in the police court, although evidence is not wanting that the aldermen sometimes conducted themselves in a manner open to public criticism. To the extreme irritation of those gentlemen and their officers, the cases heard at each sitting were not only narrated at length by Acland, but were embellished with remarks far from complimentary to the dispensers of justice. Alderman Sir Richard Vaughan being for some time an especial target for banter. Orders were at length given to exclude the censor, and as, by some means, Acland still contrived to get information, a sergeant was placed at the door of the court, with orders to prevent the admittance of every one not concerned in the day's business. This aggression on public rights gave the Bristolian new matter for attack, and its conductor boldly assailed the entire Corporation as unjust, tyrannical, and corrupt. These charges provoked the Court of Aldermen to institute a criminal prosecution against their author, who was tried before Mr. Justice Park at the assizes in August, 1828. On being called on for his defence, Mr. Acland, in a speech occupying nearly three hours in delivery, contended that the conduct of the justices had been indefensible, and that he had not trespassed beyond legitimate criticism. He also commented strongly, and it must be confessed justly, on the circumstance that several of the jurymen were related to members of the Corporation, or were closely connected with them in business. He did not know - though it is now apparent in the civic cash-book - that no less than


£532 had been spent in bringing him to trial. A verdict of guilty being returned, the defendant was subsequently sentenced to two months' imprisonment in Gloucester gaol. In the following year Acland had the effrontery to petition the Common Council to be admitted a free burgess. His appeal was, of course, rejected, and the scribe revenged himself by renewed libels on prominent corporators in his Bristolian, which continued to appear twice a week until the spring of 1881. During a portion of this period of his career Acland got up a Bread Association, and one of the advertisements in his periodical stated that “pure flour and bread (4 lb. loaves at 10d.)”, were sold at the Bristolian office, at 4, All Saints' Street. Being threatened with another prosecution by the aldermen, Acland removed to Hull, where he set up a journal of a similar character, and where his acrimony against the aldermen was quite as bitter as before. Three prosecutions for libel having resulted in convictions, he was sent to prison for fifteen months. Shortly afterwards his wife, who had continued the Hull newspaper, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for publishing additional libels. And no sooner was Acland at liberty than he began to print another unstamped journal, for which he underwent incarceration for half a year more. A copy of probably his last local production, dated September 29, 1832, is in the City Library. It is a newspaper, styled A Free Reporter. To evade the stamp duty, its publisher added to the title, “Left to read six months, for three-halfpence”.

A branch of the Bank of England, for which premises had been purchased at the east end of Bridge Street, was opened for business on the 12th July, 1827. The institution was regarded with great disfavour by the private bankers of the city, and appears to have been long disliked by many members of the mercantile community. In April, 1844, the bank purchased two picturesque old houses in Broad Street, which were pulled down, and the existing heavy-looking edifice was erected on the site.

The city chamberlain's cash-book contains the following curious item: “August 1st, 1827. Paid James Poole for a scarlet and black gown and a pair of gloves, the property of Mr. George King, late a member of the Common Council, £12”. There is no reference to the matter in the minute books, but it seems probable that the payment was made to avoid scandal. The robes were purchased three years later, at the same price, by a new councillor, Mr. H.W. Newman.

The foundation-stone of the new asylum for orphan girls,


at Hook's Mills, replacing the building in which the charity had been established in 1795, was laid by the mayor (Mr. T. Camplin), on the 22nd August, in the presence of a numerous gathering of citizens. The chapel attached to the institution was consecrated a few months later by the bishop of the diocese.

The Drawbridge, a cumbrous structure, raised and lowered by a winch, which had been condemned by the Council so far back as 1808, was replaced in August by a new bridge, on the swivel principle. The opening of the latter - which cost £2,000 - took place on a Sunday, the first to pass over being the mayor and sheriffs as they proceeded to morning service at the Mayor's Chapel.

Much public interest was aroused about this time by a Mr. Gurmey's invention of a steam carriage, intended to supersede passenger coaches on turnpike roads. One of the vehicles, which was intended to run between London and Manchester, was of twelve-horse power, and carried six passengers inside and fifteen outside, exclusive of the guard, the promised rate of speed being from ten to twelve miles an hour. The Gentleman's Magazine for November, 1827, announced: “A steam-coach company are now making arrangements for stopping places on the line of road between London, Bath, and Bristol, which will occur every six or seven miles, where fresh fuel and water are to be supplied. There are fifteen coaches built”. Owing to the conservative prejudices of many turnpike trustees, who imposed inordinate tolls on steam carriages, the inventor was unable to make any practical progress. The threatened competition moreover stirred up the coach proprietors, whose vehicles were still going at a jog-trot of six or seven miles an hour, and a notable increase of speed took place throughout the country. Mr. Gurney had also to contend with the ignorant passions of the poor. On one occasion, as a steam carriage was on its way from London to the west, it was stopped on its arrival at Melksham by a crowd of agricultural labourers, at that time greatly irritated by the introduction of thrashing machines and other rural apparatus. Believing that the steam coach was likely to injure manual labour, they attacked it with stones, amidst shouts of “Down with machinery!” its occupants narrowly escaping serious injury.

A still more remarkable locomotive novelty than that of Mr. Gurney excited local attention about this time. An ingenious schoolmaster, Mr. George Pocock, residing near St. Michaels church, discovered that by fastening a kite to


the string attached to another kite already in the air, the combined power of the two toys, when elevated in a good breeze, was sufficient to drag a considerable weight along the surface of the ground. After many experiments, Mr. Pocock invented a vehicle somewhat similar in form to the modern tricycle, and found that one of these, capable of carrying four persons, could be drawn by two kites of twelve and ten feet in height respectively - the speed attained with a brisk wind being about twenty-five miles an hour. With kites of twenty feet and twelve feet, a carriage loaded with six persons was drawn with equal rapidity. When, by further developments, the kites were made capable of “tacking”, the carriages could be used in any wind which was not directly opposed to the intended line of advance. In June, 1828, the novel vehicle was exhibited at Ascot races before George IV. In the following month Mr. Pocock was at Liverpool, and made an experiment to show the use of kites for drawing a ferry boat across the Mersey. The Liverpool Mercury, recording the results, observed that with a good wind “a boat furnished with one of the largest pairs of kites would be able to make the passage from and to Birkenhead, whatever might be the state or the strength of the tide”, thus avoiding the great detentions which frequently occurred before steam power was adopted. The same paper stated that the kites could draw the boat in a direction “less than five points from the wind”, On another occasion a yacht was hired, and after the sails had been replaced by kites, a numerous party cruised for three weeks in the Bristol Channel off the coasts of Wales and Devon. In 1836, during the visit of the British Association to Bristol, a kite carriage was shown on Clifton Down, and amongst those who tried its remarkable powers was Prince George of Cumberland, afterwards King of Hanover. The local journals stated that a gigantic kite, thirty feet high, capable of drawing four cars with four persons in each, had been prepared, but that owing to some accident to the tackle it could not be used. Mr. Pocock obtained a patent for his kites and carriages, by which he and his family travelled about for many years. A not unimportant advantage of the vehicles, was their immunity from turnpike tolls, a heavy tax upon locomotion in those days. According to a “Treatise on the Aeropleustic Art, with a Description of the Charvolant, or Kite Carriage”, published by Longman & Co., the travelling kites were shown in operation daily at Ealing, Middlesex, during the Great Exhibition of 1851.


A partial revival of the project for constructing a railway from Bristol to Birmingham [see p.111] occurred in 1828, when an Act was obtained for making a colliery tramway from Coalpit Heath to St. Philip's, Bristol, on the line of country laid out for the previous undertaking. The promoters of this modest work adopted the name of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Railway Company; but their energy was scarcely equal to the pretentiousness of the title, for the nine miles of tramway, which cost about £77,000, were not opened until August, 1835. The line was worked by horses until 18S9, when an Act was passed for adapting it to locomotive engines. In the meantime another tramway, styled the Avon and Gloucestershire railway, had been laid from Coalpit Heath to the Avon, near Bitton, at a cost of £46,000, the promoters being under the belief that they could supply coal by canal boats to Bath and other inland towns at rates which would defy competition. This line had been originally contemplated so early as 1803, but the £23,000 then required for its formation could not be obtained. In 1843, after long negotiations, the first-mentioned tramway was absorbed in the undertaking of the Bristol and Gloucester Railway Company, which had been formed to construct a narrow-gauge line between the two cities. The new company, however, fell under the control of the Great Western board, in consequence of which that portion of the tramway between Lawrence Hill and Fishponds was converted into a broad-gauge railway, and became part of the new line to Gloucester. The Avon and Gloucestershire line opened out a considerable coal traffic; but its temporary success was succeeded by complete failure, and the works have long lain in ruins.

During the session of 1828 an Act was obtained, under the auspices of the Corporation, for constructing a cattle market at Temple Meads, power being also obtained to suppress the market previously held in Thomas Street, and to build a new wool hall. Compensation was to be paid (out of the receipts from tolls) to the feoffees of St. Thomas's parish for the relinquishment of their rights. The new market provided accommodation for 2,000 cattle, 7,000 sheep, 300 horses, and 500 pigs. Thomas Street market was held for the last time on the 28th January, 1830, and its successor was opened a week later. One of the first sales, according to a local newspaper, was that of the wife of a fellow named Gardner, of Felton, who “knocked her down” for £5 10s. The market cost £17,400, and the new wool hall £4,400. Towards these sums the Corporation advanced to the trustees on loan £10,800,


besides selling them four acres of land at £600 per acre. The remainder of the outlay was defrayed by the feoffees of St. Thomas, the Act providing that the interest on the loans effected by them should be a first charge on the tolls. It was further enacted that the feoffees should be entitled to a yearly sum of £300 out of the receipts before interest was paid on the Corporation debt. In the result, the profits of the market failed for many years to meet the preferential claims, and the Corporation received nothing. The place has since undergone great alterations. Part of the site was absorbed for the Bristol and Exeter railway station, and a still larger portion was appropriated under the Act for constructing the Joint Station, the railway authorities giving up other ground in the immediate neighbourhood. The new wool hall appears to have been a financial failure, and it was closed in 1834.

Mr. Francis Freeling, who had filled the appointment of Secretary to the General Post Office for more than thirty years, was created a baronet on the 11th March, 1828, in recognition of his services to the State. Sir Francis, the son of a journeyman sugar-baker, is said to have been born on Redcliff Hill in 1764, and was educated in Colston's School. He held a subordinate position in the Bristol Post Office in 1784, when the introduction of mail coaches, at the instance of Mr. John Palmer, of Bath, caused a mutiny amongst the clerks in the London establishment, who declared that the daily despatch of mails at a fixed hour was utterly impracticable. Freeling, whose energy had been remarked, was sent to the capital, where he succeeded, in spite of the antagonistic attitude of all the old-fashioned superior officers, in bringing the new system into successful operation. In reward for his exertions he was soon afterwards placed at the head of the department, and thoroughly justified the appointment by indefatigable devotion to his duties for thirty-eight years. The Corporation of Bristol presented him with the freedom of the city in 1822. Sir Francis died on the 10th July, 1836.

In April, 1828, the Society of Merchants granted to Mr. Wm. West, a local artist, at a nominal rent, the ruins of an old windmill, known as the snuff-mill, on Clifton Down, which had been destroyed by fire, October 30, 1777. Mr. West built a dwelling house on the spot, and reconstructed the tower, which he fitted, up in 1829 with telescopes and a camera-obscura, and styled an observatory. Some years later, at considerable expense, he excavated a passage from the building to the well-known “Giant's Cave”. This was opened in July,


1837. Photography appears to have been introduced to the people of Bristol at Mr. West's abode. In an advertisement in a Bristol newspaper of April 27, 1839, it was announced that “various kinds of photogenic drawing” might be seen, and that “superior photogenic paper” was sold at the observatory. The Corporation about this period appears to have experienced alternate fits of economy and extravagance. Having undertaken the re-erection of the Council House without possessing funds in hand adequate to meet a fourth of the expense, there was for a time a tendency towards retrenchment. In June, 1824, the Common Council reduced the salary of the future mayors from £2,500 to £2,000, while that of the sheriffs was curtailed from £1,260 to £800; but in the latter case the saving was comparatively small, the Corporation undertaking charges amounting to about £200 which had previously been borne by the two functionaries. Here, moreover, frugality ended, and two years later, when the works in hand had drained the treasury, the civic income was suddenly diminished by the serious sum of £2,000 a year through the reduction of the town dues. The advance made by the bankers at length became so large that they refused to increase it, and the Corporation, in extreme embarrassment, was obliged to borrow £6,000 from Mrs. Harford, the mother of the deputy chamberlain, and nearly as much more from other persons. Previous to that time the Common Council had rarely allowed its expenditure to exceed its income, the bonded debt in 1825 (excluding charity moneys which it had no power to pay off) being only about £5,000. But having once deviated from the proper path, it lost little time in plunging deeper, and a further sum of £10,000 was borrowed in 1827-8. Gratified by the ease with which troubles were thus overcome, the Common Council adopted a proposal the nature of which will be best explained by an entry in the city cash-book: “May 24 [1828]. Paid the first cost, freight, duty, bottling, etc., of four pipes of Madeira and four pipes of port, placed under the Council House for the purpose of supplying the mayor for the time being with wine on his entering into office, the cost of which is to be repaid on the same being delivered, £802 0s. 10d.” In the following year six pipes of port and two of Madeira were added to the stock, at a cost (excluding bottling) of £554 7s. 5d.; in 1830 the purchases consisted of two pipes of port and two of Madeira, costing (with £118 for bottling) £893 4s. 11d.; and in 1832 and 1834 two butts and a hogshead of sherry were obtained for £302. On the other hand, Mr.


Cave paid £188 19s. 5d. for a pipe of port and another of Madeira consumed during his mayoralty (1828-9), and Mr. Savage, who held office for two years, paid £199 2s. 9d. But the next mayor, Mr. Stanton, accounted for only £27 11s. 6d., and no repayments by later mayors have been found. Though the amount due for wine may have been deducted from the annual honorarium of each chief magistrate, it does not seem that the new system effected any saving to the city treasury. Economy, however, was less than ever in fashion since the Common Council had become accustomed to the easy process of borrowing. The vast expenditure squandered upon the Mayor's Chapel has been already mentioned. In September, 1828, the sum of £286 16s. 0d. was paid for a new gold chain for the use of the mayor, the ancient ornament being sold as old metal for £50. The law expenses incurred from 1826 to 1828 inclusive, amounted to over £8,500. In 1829, as will shortly be shown, upwards of £5,200 were paid for an intended new Mansion House, and about the same sum was soon afterwards disbursed for building a hotel at Portishead, while the grants made towards erecting new churches about this time amounted to nearly £3,000. As the ordinary revenue scarcely met the customary expenditure, further loans to the extent of £13,650 were made in 1829-30, yet the balance due to the Chamberlain's bankers frequently exceeded £10,000. One ingenious mode of raising money remains to be noticed. Under a pretence - wholly fictitious as will afterwards be shown - that Queen Elizabeth's hospital was largely indebted to the city, the Corporation, acting as trustees, made frequent raids upon the income of the charity, the appropriations amounting to £5,500 between 1828 and 1832, and £6,700 more between the latter date and 1836. In the same manner, an estate called the Bartholomew Lands was declared by the Common Council to belong to the Corporation and not, as had been previously held, to a charity, and a sum of nearly £4,000, accumulated income, was carried into the civic treasury. In spite of these “conveyances”, a financial equilibrium could not be effected, and more than £16,000 were borrowed between 1831 and 1833. Adding to the bonded debt the amount derived by sales of city property, it appears from a statement made before the reformed Council on the 22nd July, 1837, that the civic estate was impaired to the extent of £74,733 between the years 1824 and 1835, irrespective of over £16,000 improperly withdrawn from the charities - an aggregate exceeding £90,000.


A racecourse was improvised on Durdham Down in May, 1828, and a number of horses started for the prizes offered. Though the quality of the animals was indifferent, the affair attracted a great attendance. The meeting was continued for some years, the last taking place on the 9th and 10th May, 1838, when Mr. Blagden Hale and Mr. J. Goulston officiated as stewards. An interesting reminiscence of these gatherings is preserved in a picture by Miss Sharples, containing portraits of several Bristolians of the time, to be seen in the permanent collection at the Fine Arts Academy.

At a meeting in September, the Common Council resolved to apply to the Court of Chancery for a scheme for altering the regulations of the Loan Money Fund - investments derived from the charitable bequests of fourteen donors at various dates, but which had become almost inoperative owing to the smallness of the sums which the founders had directed to be advanced to individuals. An order approving of a scheme, by which loans varying from £50 to £300 were authorised to be lent to persons carrying on business in the “ancient city”, was confirmed by the Master of the Rolls in March, 1831.

In October, 1828, the interesting crypt of St. John's church, which, according to a contemporary newspaper, had been used at intervals as an engine-house, a sugar warehouse, and finally as an auctioneer's wareroom, was cleansed and put in decent order at a cost of £60.

On the 5th November, the Rev. Sydney Smith - termed by Lord Macaulay the greatest master of ridicule that has appeared in England since Swift - who had been appointed a prebendary of Bristol by Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst in the previous January, delivered a sermon in the cathedral which created a sensation not merely in the city but throughout the country. It had long been the custom for the Mayor and Corporation to attend the cathedral in state on the Gunpowder Plot anniversary; and the occasion had usually been seized by the dignitary in residence to pronounce a hearty denunciation of popery and a denial of the political rights of its adherents; after which the ecclesiastical and civic functionaries dined together at the Mansion House, and toasted Protestant Ascendency with mutual fervour. Mr. S.J. Reid, in his memoir of Mr. Smith observes: “Writing to inform one of his friends of his approaching duty on Guy Faux day, the Canon states: 'All sorts of bad theology are preached at the cathedral on that day, and all sorts of bad toasts drunk at the Mansion House. I will do neither the one nor the


other, nor bow the knee in the house of Rimmon'. He kept his word, and preached what he styled an 'honest sermon' on those 'rules of Christian charity by which our opinions of other sects should be formed'. He delivered a noble and closely reasoned plea for toleration in reference to the religious scruples of others. The sermon, as might have been expected, gave great offence, for the Corporation of Bristol included at that time many rigid and uncompromising Tories, and though some of them must have realised that the cause of bigotry was already lost, that fact increased rather than lessened their animosity towards a preacher who had compelled them for once to listen to a clear and dispassionate statement of the facts of the case.[37]. . . Bristol Cathedral was crowded during the delivery of Sydney Smith's sermon; and so great was the interest which it excited that he seldom stood in that pulpit again without looking down on a sea of upturned faces. The preacher became the talk of the town. . . . The newspapers took up the controversy, and in leading articles and letters the old warfare was waged. Sydney Smith was attacked at public dinners and declaimed against from the pulpit; but when the storm was past it was apparent that the cause of justice had been strengthened”. The sermon exists as a local pamphlet, four editions of which were issued in about ten days. It also appeared in the collected works of the author. The original manuscript of the preface, with a letter to the local printer, Mr. Manchee, is preserved in the City Library.

The announcement at the beginning of 1829 that the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, and the leader of the House of Commons, Sir Robert Peel, had changed their views on the long pending “Catholic question”, and that the Cabinet had prepared a Bill for enabling Romanists to sit in both Houses of Parliament, caused much excitement amongst Bristolians, a great majority of whom were opposed to the scheme. On the 12th February one of the largest meetings ever remembered was held in Queen's Square, to denounce the proposed concession. The petition against the scheme, adopted by acclamation, was forthwith signed by 25,000 inhabitants. All the parochial vestries and the local clergy, with only one or two exceptions, forwarded similar petitions. Even many Dissenters, whilst exulting that their own rights of conscience had just been secured by the repeal of the Test


and Corporation Acts, showed an eagerness to maintain the fetters on Roman Catholics. Mr. Bright, the Whig and Nonconformist member for Bristol, voted against the Bill, and the Rev. W. Thorp, minister of Castle-green chapel, was amongst the most active of its local opponents. The friends of religious liberty also addressed a petition to Parliament, but could master no more than 1,700 adherents. When it was seen that the measure was likely to pass both Houses, the Corporation forwarded, through Lord Eldon, an address to the King, denouncing his ministers for their intention to subvert Protestant ascendency, and this was soon followed by a second appeal to his Majesty, emanating from a public meeting, begging him to dissolve Parliament, Lord Eldon being again the intermediary. The Corporation, in the meantime, stamped the ex-Chancellor's efforts at Westminster with its approval by forwarding him the freedom of the city in an oak box (which cost £11 6s.). Almost the only member of the Ministry who refused to abandon his old opinions at the behest of his leaders, was Sir Charles Wetherell, then Attorney-General and Recorder of Bristol. He was consequently dismissed from his lucrative post in the Government; but his firmness brought him great popularity amongst those who agreed with him in politics. In April, on his arrival in Bristol to hold the gaol delivery. Sir Charles was welcomed by a large crowd at Totterdown, and continual shouts of “No Popery! Wetherell for ever!” greeted his progress to the Gruildhall. Similar scenes took place every morning and evening during the assizes. The mob, not satisfied with these demonstrations, broke the windows of the mayor (Mr. J. Cave) and of other prominent supporters of the Bill, and committed much destruction at the Roman Cathohc chapel in Trenchard Street, and amongst the dwellings of the Irish “Papists”. How fleeting was the popularity of the Recorder will shortly be seen.

Although the population of the suburban districts had greatly increased during the half century previous to this date, the accommodation for public worship offered by the Established Church had been increased only by the chapel-of-ease of St. George, near Park Street. The wants of Clifton were first brought before the public, it being pointed out that while the place contained nearly 12,000 inhabitants, the only provision for public devotion consisted of the parish church and a small chapel in Dowry Square. A subscription having been started, Mr. T. Whippie (who had given £2,000 towards the re-building of the church,


and subsequently built a Wesleyan Chapel in Hotwell Road at his sole expense), contributed £6,000; and £4,000 more were given by other benefactors. A site was obtained in Hotwell Road, upon which a large church, dedicated to the Trinity, was rapidly constructed, and the edifice, (the last in the city designed in a debased Italian style) was consecrated by the Bishop of Llandaff on the 10th November, 1830. [A district was attached to this church by an Order in Council in January, 1864.] In the meantime the spiritual destitution of the populous out-parish of St. Philip, in which, it was stated, 15,000 souls were living without a single place of religious worship, had also excited attention, and assistance was sought from the State grant for building new churches, already referred to [p.82]. The Commissioners charged with its administration made a donation of £6,000 for the erection of a church, afterwards styled Holy Trinity, St. Philip's; and the Corporation, who claimed the patronage of the living, granted a site and subscribed £1,000. The cost of the edifice was £8,200, of which only a trifling sum was given by laymen. A similar application was made on behalf of Bedminster, where the parish church, of extremely narrow dimensions, was absurdly inadequate to meet the requirements of twelve thousand parishioners. In this case it was resolved to form a chapelry of St. Paul. The State provided all but £2,000 of the cost of building (£9,796), the offering of the lay element being again insignificant. The promoters had even to purchase a site, at the rate of £200 per acre, from the wealthiest landlord of the locality. The foundation stones of both churches were laid in September, 1829. St. Paul's was consecrated in October, 1831 (five days before the Bristol riots), by Dr. Law, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who, in consequence of his votes against the Reform Bill, was treated with much indignity by the rabble of the parish. Trinity Church was consecrated by Bishop Gray, of Bristol, in the following February. Ecclesiastical districts were soon afterwards allotted to each of the new edifices.

At a meeting of the Common Council on the 4th July, 1829, it was announced that Mr. William Weare, the senior councillor, and a member of a family long connected with the Corporation, proposed to pay into the city treasury the sum of £10,000 as a free gift, on condition that the Corporation should pay him £500 yearly for life, and the same sum to Henry Weare for life in the event of his surviving the donor. The gift having been accepted, its object was declared in a deed entered into between the parties, in which Mr.


Weare expressed his wish that the money should be applied, either immediately or after his deaths to the widening and improving of Redcliff and Baldwin Streets, the opening of a new street from St. Augustine's Place to Trenchard Street, and the altering and improving of the thoroughfares at the lower end of Park Street. The Corporation resolved upon investing the money, which, as will afterwards be seen, was transferred to an Improvement Fund. All the schemes suggested by Mr. Weare were eventually carried out by the new Corporation.

The imposing design of another liberal-hearted citizen came prominently into notice during the summer. In 1753, seventy six years before the time under review, Mr. William Vick, a spirit merchant of Bristol, who is often, but erroneously, styled an alderman, devised the sum of £1,000 to the Merchant Venturers' Society, directing that it should be invested and suffered to accumulate until it reached £10,000, when it was to be devoted to the building of a bridge over the gorge of the Avon at Clifton, if such a design should be adjudged practicable. In 1829, when the fund had swollen to about £8,000, and when Telford's recent achievement at Menai Strait was one of the topics of the day, a proposal was started for carrying out Mr. Vick's project by the construction of a suspension bridge. The suggestion having been considered and approved by many influential citizens, a committee was formed, comprising the mayor, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, several members of the Common Council and of the Merchants' Company, and others; and as it was found that a stone bridge could not be constructed for less than £60,000, it was resolved to apply to Parliament in the session of 1831, for a Bill authorising the erection of an iron structure, the funds required to eke out Vick's bequest to be raised by loans and donations. In the meantime the committee invited engineers to send in plans for the work, and one of the first to respond was Mr. Telford, who produced a beautiful, but not quite satisfactory, design. Believing that the space from cliff to cliff was too wide to be prudently spanned at a bound, he proposed the erection of two enormous gothic towers on the river banks, so as to narrow the central opening to 360 feet. His estimate of the cost being £62,000, the promoters solicited designs from other leading engineers; and those of Messrs. Brunel, jun., Rendel, Brown, and Hawkes, together with that of Telford, were submitted to Mr. D. Gilbert, M.P., a distinguished authority on the subject of suspension bridges. Mr. Gilbert gave his


decision in favour of Brunel's plan, the cost of which was estimated at £57,000. The Bill, which was factiously but fruitlessly opposed by Mr. James Acland, received the royal assent in May, when the trustees were chosen, and some preliminary operations were begun during the summer. Owing to the hostile attitude of Sir John Smyth, the under-sheriff of Somerset summoned a court at Failand, to determine the value of four and a quarter acres of land, required for an approach to the bridge from the turnpike road to Leigh. The land in question formed part of an extensive common which had been enclosed by Sir John's predecessor in the baronetcy, who, when the Act was obtained, alleged that its value was ten shillings an acre. It was now alleged on behalf of Sir John that the new road would deprive him of the private use of 170 acres, which he could have thrown into his park; and one of his witnesses estimated the compensation due to him at £8,775. The trustees had offered £1,200, which had been scornfully rejected. The jury fixed the value at £1,107. The first turf for the approach on the Clifton side, the land for which was given by the Merchants' Society, was cut by Lady Elton. The gifts and loans promised on behalf of the undertaking representing only £82,000, or £20,000 short of the amount required, the trustees appointed under the Act thought it advisable to proceed with circumspection; and the disastrous riots of the following October caused the complete suspension of the project for four years. In 1885, when the passing of the Great Western Bill gave a stimulus to local spirit, Mr. Brunel suggested that the outlay might be reduced to £85,000 by contracting the width of the bridge and dispensing with some ornamental features. The trustees temporarily adopted this proposal; but in consequence of the strong disapproval of the public they reversed their decision in favour of the original plan. At a meeting held in January, 1886, it was reported that a sum of £17,000, in addition to the £38,000 already guaranteed, would finish the work, and as £9,000 were soon after forthcoming, operations were recommenced. On the 27th August, during the visit of the British Association to the city, its president, the Marquis of Northampton, laid the foundation stone of the south pier in the presence of many thousands of spectators; and at a breakfast which followed (at the Gloucester Hotel, on a service of china bearing views of the bridge, which was eagerly bought up and divided amongst the guests) it was believed that all difficulties were surmounted. For the convenience of the workmen, measures were taken to connect the two sides of the river by a car,


suspended from an iron bar 800 feet in length. The first attempt to carry out this plan was unsuccessful. Owing to the breaking of a hawser, one end of the ponderous bar fell into the river as it was being drawn into its place, blocking up the navigation; and though on the following day it was raised and secured in its intended position, the iron was so much bent in the middle as to be practically useless. In September a new bar was passed over, and the communication was opened by Mr. Brunel, accompanied by a boy named Claxton. The novelty of the contrivance attracted crowds of visitors desirous of making the airy journey, and the trustees found it necessary to impose a toll of five shillings, subsequently reduced to half a crown, and afterwards to a shilling. The income received from this traffic was £142. On one occasion, it is reported, a bride and bridegroom on their wedding day resolved on taking a trip over the fragile bridge; unfortunately the hauling ropes got out of order just as they reached the middle of the bar, and they were left for some hours to discuss the beauty of the scenery, with a prospect - not less moving, but happily avoided - of remaining suspended for the night. It may be observed in parenthesis, that the bar remained in its place until 1853, and that some political jokers availed themselves of it during the general election of 1852 to suspend over the Avon an effigy of one of the candidates. The figure being unapproachable, the services of a skilful rifleman were called in to sever the rope. The construction of the piers proceeded slowly, but the core of each - intended for an ornamental incrustation which was never applied - was finished in 1840, when a contract was entered into for a portion of the ironwork. In February, 1843, the public were informed that £40,000, including Mr. Vick's bequest, had been spent, and that no less than £30,000 more would be required to carry out the undertaking. The statement, which caused equal surprise and dissatisfaction, was regarded as the death-warrant of the project; and though the trustees made repeated appeals to public liberality, it was found impossible to obtain further subscriptions. The contractors for the chains, etc., at length pressing for the balance of their claim, it was resolved in 1851, when £47,400 had been expended, to sell the ironwork and plant, and in February, 1853, the former was purchased by the West Cornwall Railway Company, nothing then remaining visible of the abortive scheme save the two unsightly piers which deformed the landscape. The story of the bridge for a lengthened period was of the dreariest character, various plans for completing the structure


being produced, apathetically discussed, and incontinently dropped. After a lapse of seventeen years from the collapse of 1843, brighter days set in; but for the remainder of the tale the reader must be referred to 1860.

About the time when the suspension bridge project was first mooted, the Merchants, Society set about the improvement of the path leading from the bank of the river near the Hotwell to Clifton Down. The path, which was little more than a track, was approached at the back of the Colonnade by a long and steep flight of steps, and was almost impracticable in wet weather. The new footway, termed the Zigzag, was deemed a great acquisition. It was much improved in the autumn of 1849.

In the closing months of 1829, a new road was formed “from the top of St. Michael's Hill, through the Gallows' field, to Cotham”. The road in question was afterwards known as Cotham New Road. According to a contemporary writer (MS. Annals, City Library, vol. i., p.159), the workmen found the base of Bewell's Cross in the Gallows' field (a small portion of which was sold by the Corporation), and the stone was imbedded in the south wall of the road (now enclosing Highbury Chapel). But Roque's large map of the city, dated 1741, shows the cross to have stood nearly one hundred yards further to the north-west.

A design of the leading members of the Corporation, carefully concealed from the citizens at large, was cautiously introduced into the Common Council in December, 1829, when it was resolved that the mansion and grounds of Mr. Richard Bright, at the southern end of Great George Street, should be purchased at a cost not exceeding £5,250. At a meeting in February, 1830, it was announced that the property had been acquired for the above-named sum, but no hint of the purpose it was intended to serve appeared upon the minutes. Three months later, on the motion of Alderman A. Hilhouse, it was resolved that the building should be converted into a Mansion House, and that the City Lands' Committee should make the needful additions and alterations to the dwelling and provide new furniture. In June the committee reported that the required additions would alone cost £5,000, exclusive of furniture and stabling. Alderman Hilhouse thereupon moved that his original proposal should be carried out in its entirety; but an amendment, proposed by Mr. E. Protheroe, to the effect that the committee should look out for a house which could be made serviceable at a moderate expense, was approved by a majority. No further


mention of the subject appears in the minutes until September, 1831, when the committee recommended that as “the site of the present Mansion House” was “most desirable for the public convenience”, the building should be retained, provided some increased accommodation could be secured. The adjoining house, added the committee, was offered for £2,050, and they advised that it should be bought without delay. The outbreak of the riots, a few weeks later, blew the project into the air.

The month of January, 1830, was remarkable for a protracted snowstorm, which blocked up the roads in all parts of the country, communication between many towns being almost wholly suspended for several days. A local newspaper, in recording the incidents of the season, stated that on the 25th January a party of nineteen labourers dragged into the city a wagon containing upwards of two tons of flour, which they had succeeded in hauling from Melksham, a distance of twenty-five miles. They had been promised by a baker, and received, 28s. 4d. (being 1s. 8d. per sack) for performing this arduous task.

Sir Thomas Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy, expired on the 7th January, 1830, and his remains were honoured with a stately public funeral a fortnight later in St. Paul's Cathedral. Various inaccurate statements as to the place of his nativity have appeared in print, but the parochial records show that he was born at No. 6, Redcross Street, Bristol, and was baptised at St. Philip's Church on the 6th May, 1769. His father, a few months later, became landlord of the White Lion Hotel, Broad Street, whence he removed in 1773 to the Bear Hotel, Devizes, and after his failure there, in 1780, to Bath. Whilst almost an infant, the son manifested extraordinary indications of genius, and some drawings executed in his eighth year, which still exist, afford ample evidence to justify the admiration which he excited in cultivated circles. Before he had reached the age of twelve, his studio at Bath was the resort of many noble and fashionable persons who then frequented the city, so that he may be said to have become famous before establishing himself in London, which he did at the age of eighteen. On the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, in 1792, Lawrence was appointed to succeed him as portrait-painter in ordinary to the king, and thenceforth he was never able to keep abreast of the work which poured in upon him. There was scarcely a single upper-class family in the kingdom which did not solicit his services, and engravings of his most successful


portraits had an unexampled sale. When the presidency of the Royal Academy became vacant by the death of Sir B. West, the fashionable favourite was immediately appointed to the distinguished office, and received the customary honour of knighthood. In 1826, when Lord Gifford resigned the recordership of Bristol, the Corporation resolved upon having his portrait, and aware of the peculiarity of Lawrence, who with a princely income was always in an inexplicable state of impecuniosity,[38] they remitted 200 guineas with the order. Lord Gifford, however, died soon afterwards, and the painter eventually returned the money.

On the 15th June, Zion Chapel, Bedminster - to which an interesting story attaches - was opened with a sermon by the celebrated Scotch divine, Dr. Chalmers. The chapel, which cost £4,000, was erected at the sole expense of Mr. John Hare, the founder of an extensive floor-cloth manufactory in the city, in pursuance of a long-cherished design. In an address delivered by one of his descendants at the centenary of the factory in August, 1882, it was stated that Mr. Hare was born at Taunton in 1758. When in his twentieth year, at a time when the Government were forcing men into the army in the hope of reconquering America, he left home for Bristol with a few shillings in his pocket. On reaching the southern suburbs of the city he got over a dwarf wall, resolving to rest a few hours, and on awakening was so struck with the beauty of the spot that he felt he should like to build a house there. By dint of patient perseverance, prudence and skill, he ultimately became wealthy, but the impression formed on that early morning of his youth was never effaced, and about fifty-seven years after his arrival he erected the above-mentioned edifice on the scene of his slumbers. The chapel had not been occupied many years before serious dissensions arose amongst the congregation. During a debate in the Council, October 17, 1836, it was stated by the mayor (Alderman Fripp), that the trustees of the chapel had refused Mr. Hare a pew in the edifice which they owed to his liberality.

The death of George IV. in June, 1830, was followed a few days later by the usual civic ceremony of proclaiming his successor. The proceedings were marked with a few


deviations from precedent. At noon a “large and handsome car”, covered with a pall, was drawn by four grey horses to the site of the High Cross, when the mayor and members of the Corporation, in black robes, preceded by the civic sword covered with, crape, marched to the spot uncovered, and solemnly walked round the car in testimony of their respect for the deceased monarch. Their worships then returned to the Council House, donned their scarlet habiliments, and set off in state to make proclamation of the new king at the customary sites, the car being now stripped of its mournful panoply and adorned with a gorgeous crown on a velvet cushion. Two hogsheads of porter and three quarter-casks of sherry were distributed to the populace, the proceedings of the day costing the city treasury £240. A corporate deputation, sent to London to congratulate the new monarch, spent £90 additional.

In accordance with the law at that time, there was a general election in the following month. The retiring Tory member, Mr. Richard Hart Davis, was again nominated by his party. His Whig colleague, Mr. Bright, retired, being unwilling to bear the expense of a contest, and the Liberals - as they were now beginning to be called - were, as usual, unable to agree upon the choice of a successor, an unbridgeable gulf being still open between the slavery and anti-slavery sections of the party. The West India interest nominated Mr. James Evan Baillie, the candidate of 1820, Mr. C. Pinney, who seconded that gentleman, asserting on the hustings that five-eighths of the trade of the city depended upon the islands. The progressive camp brought forward Mr. Edward Protheroe, junr., son of a former member for the city. To give a fillip to the excitement, or perhaps to his newspaper, Mr. James Acland, of the Bristolian, who had just been released from gaol after suffering imprisonment for libel, also made his appearance in the field. The polling (which took place for the first time in booths erected in Queen Square), continued for five days, and was marked by violent disturbances. On one occasion the windows of Mr. John Hare, of Temple Gate, an earnest Liberal, were smashed by a pro-slavery Whig mob, who entered and did much damage to the factory. The Bush Hotel, Mr. Protheroe's head quarters, underwent its usual fate at elections, while on another occasion the friends of the same gentleman were attacked by a party of gentlemen on horseback, armed with bludgeons. After one of many street affrays, twenty-seven persons were so much injured as to require treatment at the


Infirmary. The poll closed on the 5th Augast, when Mr. Davis had received 5,012 votes, Mr. Baillie, 3,377; Mr. Protheroe, junr., 2,840; and Mr. Acland, 25. It was stated at the time that this election cost upwards of £34,000, and that Mr. Baillie's share of the outlay was £18,000. (The Parliament lasted about eight months.) More than 1,500 persons were placed on the list of freemen by the rival parties, in order to enable them to vote. Mr. Acland petitioned against Mr. Baillie's return, alleging intimidation and treating, but the sureties he offered were unsatisfactory, and the petition was withdrawn.

Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (soon after elected King of the Belgians) paid a visit to the city in September. He had been presented, whilst at Bath, with the freedom of that borough in a gold box; but for some cause the civic magnates of Bristol appear to have ignored his presence amongst them.

During the autumn. Prince Leopold's sister, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, accompanied by her daughter. Princess Victoria, heiress presumptive to the crown, also made a brief tour in the West of England. On the 20th October they arrived at Clifton from Malvern, and descended at the Mall Hotel amidst the cheers of a large assemblage. The Corporation, acquainted with the intended visit, proposed to present an address; but the Duchess of Kent, pleading the shortness of her stay, requested that the compliment should be withheld. On the 21st, however, the mayor (Mr. J. Savage), and several members of the Common Council, proceeded in state to Clifton to express their loyalty and devotion, and met with a cordial reception. During the morning their royal highnesses were driven round the Downs, and expressed themselves much delighted with the scenery. In the afternoon they left for London, being loudly cheered as they passed through the city on their way to Bath.

During this and the two following years, the trade of the country was unusually depressed, causing numbers of the labouring classes to fall into pauperism. As the city workhouse, St. Peter's Hospital, had even before the distress been full to repletion, the increased demands for relief plunged the Corporation of the Poor in extreme embarrassment. Various expedients having been discussed and rejected, it was at last determined to apply to the Government with a view to the purchase of the Armoury or “Ordnance Barracks”, in Stapleton Road, to which reference has been already made [see p.23]. Negotiations followed, and the


place was soon after acquired for £3,100. The intention to fit up the building for the reception of pauper lunatics was, however, first postponed, and then abandoned, it being deemed inadvisable to impose further taxation whilst the ratepayers were groaning under the burdens inflicted upon them by events about to be narrated. In the meantime, pauperism, owing to the defective system of relief then in force, advanced with alarming strides. From a letter published in June, 1832, by Mr. W. Barrett, deputy governor of the corporation, it appeared that, in the case of labourers out of work, a man with a wife and five children received 10s. 1d. per week as out-door relief, the only work exacted in return being a task of stone-breaking occupying about eight hours a day for four days a week. At that time the wages of agricultural labourers in the neighbouring counties were in many cases only 9s. weekly for more than double the quantity of work. As was natural under such circumstances, the demand for pauper relief became daily more formidable, and Mr. Barrett stated that the charge on Bristol ratepayers alone had increased by £5,000 in two years. The guardians, in the hope of arresting the evil, gave orders that the able-bodied paupers should work five days a week, and ten and a half hours a day; but although an additional sum of fourpence weekly was offered to the labourers, they rose in revolt when the announcement was made, and for a time St. Peter's Hospital was in great peril. The mayor and aldermen, however, acted with promptitude and firmness. The Riot Act was read, a body of troops was brought to the spot, and some of the ringleaders were sent to prison. The energy of the magistrates put an end to the disturbance, and the paupers submitted to the new scale. The pressure upon St. Peter's Hospital, however, continued, and the building, gorged with six hundred inmates, became in a most unhealthy condition, as well as a sink of moral contamination. According to an authentic contemporary statement, fifty-eight girls slept in ten beds, and between seventy and eighty boys in seventeen beds. Just at this time an epidemic of cholera reached the city, and it is not surprising to learn that the malady nowhere worked more dreadful havoc than in the workhouse. In fact, out of the first 261 cases reported in the city, 168 occurred in St. Peter's Hospital. The guardians now found themselves compelled to set about the long-needed reforms, and in 1833 another disused building belonging to the Government - the former “French prison” at Stapleton - was hired from the Admiralty at a rent of £80


a year, put in repair, and fitted up for the reception of a considerable number of paupers. The experiment proving satisfactory, the building, in 1837, was purchased for £2,000. Further extensive alterations being found necessary, the guardians raised £6,512 by the sale of their estate at Shirehampton (bought in 1701 for £1,600 for the purpose of employing paupers as farm labourers). The Armoury, which had been rented at £200 a year by the Corporation of Bristol, was also disposed of, though there was a loss on this transaction of £1,100. Thanks to these windfalls, the Stapleton workhouse was placed in satisfactory working order without any sensible cost to the ratepayers. As time went on, the propriety of removing the entire pauper establishment from St. Peter's became gradually recognised, and between 1861 and 1865 nearly £26,000 were spent in enlarging and improving the buildings at Stapleton. Some four years later, a fever hospital was constructed there at a further outlay of £4,200. To meet a portion of the expenditure, the guardians, in 1865, disposed of part of the premises at St. Peter's for £5,195, reserving only the interesting and picturesque mansion of the Nortons for their board-room and financial offices.

[1] By a common understanding, the number of candles in each window was limited to two. According to a tradition preserved by Mr. Leech, an old trader who had been alarmed by the competition of a new rival, was relieved of apprehension when the latter took to lighting up an additional dip: such reckless extravagance could end only in ruin. “Open” shops - that is, shops with unglazed windows - were rapidly disappearing at the beginning of the century, but there was one in High Street until 1824; and another, at 23, Castle Street, kept by a brushmaker, lingered until 1827, if not later.
[2] A plot of ground for a mill at Baptist Mills was purchased by a few philanthropists; but the project was apparently dropped.
[3] Tyndall's park was sold, in 1790, for conversion into an extensive crescent, and the construction of some homes had begun, when the war broke out and the project collapsed (Bonner's Bristol Journal, May 24th, 1794). About the same time, “Mother Pugsley's field”, on which St. Matthew's Church and a number of streets now stand, was sold to speculators, who sank the foundation of several houses - part of an immense crescent - but the purchasers were unable to complete the contract, and the turf was restored (Evans' Chron. Hist., p.202, where the owner is inaccurately styled “Freeman” instead of Freemantle). Several builders became insolvent in 1798, and a great number of unfinished houses in St. James's Parade, Richmond Place, York Buildings, Portland Square, the Mall, Cave Street, etc., were offered for sale.
[4] The result was disappointing to the liquor interests. The minutes of the Court of Aldermen for February, 1808, record the presentation of a petition from “several distillers, rectifiers, maltsters, etc., praying that the mayor and aldermen would recommend to Government the building barracks in or near this city. And it is agreed not to recommend the said petition”.
[5] Although Mr. Weeks's demonstrations were sometimes rather grotesque, his fellow-citizens had reason to he grateful to him. In an advertisement published in 1814, he stated that when he entered upon the Bush, in 1772, there was no coach from the city to London, Exeter, Oxford, or Birmingham which performed its journey in less than two days. After ineffectually urging the proprietors to quicken their speed, Weeks started a one-day coach to Birmingham himself, and carried it on against a bitter opposition, charging the passengers only 10s. 6d. and 8s. 6d. for inside and outside respectively, and giving each of them a dinner and a pint of wine at Gloucester into the bargain. After a two years' struggle his opponents gave in, and one-day journeys to the above towns became the established rule. Another of Weeks's boasts was, that he had “the honour to conduct Lord Rodney into the city in 1782” which cost him the sum of £447. - Bristol Journal, June 11, 1814.
[6] At Gloucester Summer assizes in 1809, the proprietors of a local brass manufactory (names carefully suppressed by the newspapers) claimed £40,000 damages from the Dock Company for depriving their factory of water during the construction of the floating harbour. The jury awarded the plaintiffs £10,000. Another dispute, which long remained unsettled, arose out of the practical destruction of the water-mill on St. James's Back, by the damming up of the Froom. The mill, which belonged to the Corporation, let for £48 a year. It was not until 1822 that the Dock Company consented to pay £992 to the Corporation and £50 to the tenant.
[7] The Dock Company obtained Authority in one of their Acts to employ the waste water of the Float in driving mills, which were intended to be constructed at the “overfall” near Comberland Basin. An advertisement appeared in the Bristol Journal of November 22, 1810, of a sale by auction of this water power, and of the foundations of three “thoroughs”, for powerful mills. No later reference to the subject has been discovered.
[8] It appears from Dr. Brace's Handbook to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that a “stone kitchen” also existed in that town about the same date, and that it was equally popular amongst the leading merchants.
[9] The cavalry corps, having become greatly diminished in numbers, was dissolved in July, 1813.
[10] The Corporation voted £200 for the erection of four of these signal posts, “fifty feet long, with halyyards” at “the snuff mill on Clifton Rocks, Dundry tower, Kingsweston Down, and Hobbs' Hill, above Portishead battery” for the security of the city.
[11] There is obviously some error in Mr. Robinson's reminiscence of the facts. Mr. Edgar was president of the Anchor Society in 1798.
[12] The congregation of Lewin's Mead Chapel at one time consisted of so many leading citizens that, with one exception, its members included the whole aldermanic bench. Of the feoffees of the Unitarian almshouse in Stokes Croft in 1786, eight had been mayors and three sheriffs.- Bristol Times April 9, 1853.
[13] “MS. Annals”, City Library, ii., 388.
[14] Sir William claimed and received a further sum of £120 14s. for earthenware left by him at the Mansion House. The breakage there mast have been enormous, for only a few months later a tradesman was paid nearly £40 for another supply of crockery.
[15] So early as 1822, three out of the eleven aldermanic seats long remained vacant - one of them for upwards of eighteen months.
[16] Clevedon did not obtain much patronage until a later date. The village is mentioned as a “newly established” watering-place in Phelps, “History of Somerset” published in 1836.
[17] Local annalists having overlooked the story of this building, it may be stated that in March, 1754, the Corporation granted a lease of four tenements to Granfield Becher, John Heylyn, Morgan Smith, and others, at a rent of £5, and a fine of £100 on renewal every fourteen years, on condition that they pulled down the old buildings and erected a large room suitable for an assembly room, with convenient appurtenances. The Corporation reserved a right to the free use of the premises for six days every year, should they be needful for the entertainment of members of the royal family visiting the city.
[18] A large part of this district lay in the parish of Bitton, a fact that explains the following anecdote, the date of which is ascribed to the closing years of the previous century. Mr. Justice Heath, while sitting in the Crown Court at Gloucester, asked a lying witness from what part of the county he came, and being answered “From Bitton, my lord”, he exclaimed. “You do seem to be of the Bitton breed, but I thought I had hanged the whole of that parish long ago”. (Campbell's Lives of the Chanellors, vi. 154.) A Bristol newspaper of April 8, 1786, stated that, including two men then under sentence of death, ten persons from the parish of Bitton had been hanged at Gloucester within three years. They had all belonged to the “Cock-road gang”, which regularly received black-mail from the neighbouring farmers at the annual fair on Lansdown.
[19] An etching inaccurately professing to give a view of this hostelry having been recently published, it may be useful to state that some remnants of the tavern may still be seen at the back of Guildhall Chambers, Broad Street.
[20] Not content with his demagogic displays in this city, Hunt made excursions to Bath, with the effect of exciting serious rioting in that city. The power of choosing members for Bath was vested solely in the Corporation, consisting of thirty persons, self-elected, and irresponsible.
[21] “Local Annals”, City Library, iii. 37.
[22] Another Nathaniel Wraxall, probably a cousin, was swordbearer to the Bristol Council in 1768. A third, holding the same office, died in 1781.
[23] The statue of William III. in Queen Square was brilliantly illuminated upon the evacuation of Holland by the French. The Corporation contributed £20 towards the expense. Another item in the civic accounts is £7 6s. 6d. for “500 fagots, haling, etc. to Brandon hill, to make a bonfire on the arrival of the glorious intelligence that the allies had obtained a decisive victory over the enemy of mankind”.
[24] Dr. Garrick here refers to operations which were proceeding at the time he wrote. Down to 1816, St. Vincent's rocks protruded almost to the brink of the Avon at high water, there being only a narrow path on the verge of the river to admit of the towage of vessels. In 1816-17, when extreme distress prevailed amongst the poor, owing to deficient harvests and the high price of food, a subscription was raised for employing labourers, to which the Corporation subscribed £241; and the Merchants' Society having granted permission to quarry the projecting rocks, a large quantity of stone was removed and broken for the roads around the city. [Redcliff Hill was lowered about three feet by another party of labourers, the wages in both cases being provided out of the fund.] The widening of the path continued for several years; and it will be seen hereafter that Dr. Garrick's suggested road was constructed in 1822.
[25] The Corporation had old silver in the city chest to the large amount of £356 7s. 6d. It sustained a loss in the exchange of £3 12s.; in other words, coins representing that sum proved to be counterfeit.
[26] Now called Sea Walls.
[27] Site of the Prince's Theatre.
[28] In addition to his high position in the Corporation and his business as a banker, Mr. Worrall held the Government appointment of distributor of stamps, and the patent office of publisher of the Bristol presentment in connection with the custom house.
[29] The incorporated companies were by this time practically extinct. The Bristol Journal states that the company of wire workers and pin makers was the only chartered one which took part in the procession.
[30] “Local Annals”, City Library, vol. i. p.282.
[31] The management appears to have been of an illiberal character. Threepence per glass was charged for the water, equivalent to a shilling a day for average drinkers, and only paupers were allowed to draw from a tap in the back yard. In 1831 this tap was removed, but in 1887 a free pump was erected in consequence of the public discontent.
[32] Previous to the passing of the Bill, the dues on a packet of woollen cloths exported from Bristol were £3 16s. 8d., whilst at Liverpool they were sixpence. -MS. Annals, City Library, 1824.
[33] Mr. (afterwards Alderman) Barrow was educated in Colston's School (MS. Annals, City Library), and was, it is believed, the only Oolston boy who attained the chief magistracy.
[34] The Corporation bought the premises for about £1,500.
[35] The Common Gomicil had of course no jurisdiction in Clifton, where ladies chiefly depended upon sedan chairs. The Bristol Times and Mirror of October 5, 1875, published a reminiscence to the effect that the chairmen of Clifton were so alarmed at their interests being imperilled by a fly which a daring individual started, that they assembled at night, broke open the door of the outhouse where the revolutionary vehicle was kept, and hurled it (the vehicle) over St. Vincent's rocks.
[36] The stocks belonging to St. James's parish were in existence in 1887, when the Corporation took a lease of the ground now used as a hay market, the stocks and parish watch-house being reserved.
[37] In a letter written shortly afterwards to a friend, Sydney Smith remarked that “they looked as if they could not keep turtle on their stomachs”.
[38] “Cannot think what keeps him so poor”, said George IV. to Croker in 1825; “I have paid him £24,000, and have not got my pictures. The Duke of Wellington is £2,800 in advance to him. All the world is ready to employ him at £1,000 a picture, yet he never has, I am told, a farthing”. - Croker's Correspondence, ii p.88.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in June & July 2013.

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