The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century

By John Latimer

Editor of The Bristol Mercury, 1858-83.

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

1831 - 1850

The absence in Bristol of an institution capable of providing a complete system of higher education had long been deplored by the more intelligent citizens. A movement for supplying the want was started in 1829, by the distinguished physician. Dr. J.C. Prichard, Mr. J. Naish Sanders, the Rev. J. Eden, Mr. J.C. Swayne, Mr. S.S. Wayte, Dr. Carrick, and others, who suggested the erection of a college, with an efficient staff of masters and lecturers, theological instruction according to the doctrines of the Church of England being also provided for such pupils as might desire to avail themselves of it. The proposed capital was £15,000, to be raised by £50 shares, the proprietors of which were to nominate a student for each share. The required sum could not, however, be obtained from the public - owing in a large measure to the hostile attitude of the Bishop of Bristol, Dr. Gray, - and the promoters had to content themselves with hiring a large house in Park Row, “formerly occupied by Matthew Wright, Esq”, and since swept away for modern improvements. A competent staff having been engaged, “Bristol College” was opened on the 17th January, 1831, with about thirty pupils, the principal being Dr. J.H. Jerrard, and the vice-principal Mr. Charles Smith, both graduates of Cambridge. The Rev. W.D. Conybeare, F.R.S., afterwards


Dean of Llandaff, was visitor, and undertook to preside at the examinations. The terms of admission were £18 for the nominees of shareholders, and £21 for other students. Though comparatively few in number, a large proportion of the youths educated at the College attested in after life the value of the institution. Amongst them were Edward Fry, afterwards Lord Justice, the Rev. S.W. Wayte, who became President of Trinity College, Oxford, G.G. Stokes, senior wrangler of his year, and afterwards Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, Walter Bagehot, eminent as a writer on financial and constitutional questions, and the Rev. G. Swayne, a well-known Greek scholar. The college, in fact, might have afforded the city all the advantages which were to be offered by Clifton College, thirty years later. But its promoters were a generation before their contemporaries, and the institution was of too liberal a character for the age. Although great care had been taken to avoid ruffling theological prejudices, the college had not been long in operation before a section of the clergy, vehemently opposed to the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, began to protest against the sons of Nonconformists being allowed to attend the school without participating in the religious instruction provided for Churchmen. The cry of “godless education” was a formidable one in that day; and the persons who raised it at length found a sufficient number of local sympathisers to encourage them to set up a rival institution, from which the unorthodox could be debarred. The new Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol (Dr. Monk) having lent his patronage and support to this movement, a “Bishop's College” was opened in August, 1840, in a house in Bellevue, Clifton, from which it was removed in October, 1841, to extensive premises at the top of Park Street (designed for the Red Maids' School), purchased by Bishop Monk from the Charity Trustees for £9,750. The competition at once proved fatal to Bristol College, which closed its doors at Christmas, 1841. The successor of the first principal had been the Rev. J.E. Bromby, D.D., who left to establish a school in Clifton, but afterwards emigrated to Australia, where he became Warden of the Senate of Melbourne University. The last head master, holding the office only a few months, was Dr. J. Booth. Bishop's College began its course under the head mastership of the Rev. H. Dale, the second master being the Rev. J.R. Woodford, one of the most eloquent preachers of his time, who, before his death in 1885, became Bishop of Ely. The institution was not, however, successful. At a meeting


of the proprietors in 1851, it was reported that the school was carried on at a loss, and that the interest due to the Bishop on the purchase money was unpaid. His lordship having requested the return of his loan, it was resolved that he should be left to exercise his power of sale. The college languished on until 1861, when the premises were purchased by the promoters of a Volunteer Club. The two last head masters were Dr. Robertson and the Rev. T. Bowman.

The death, on the 21st February, 1831, of the Rev. Robert Hall, one of the most celebrated pulpit orators of his time, occasioned widespread regret amongst the members of every Christian denomination. Mr. Hall, who is said to have declined high preferment in the English Church from Mr. Pitt while Prime Minister, accepted the pastorate of Broadmead Baptist Chapel in 1826, and officiated until within a few days of his death. His remains were removed, on the 2nd March, from his residence in Ashley Place to the burial ground adjoining the chapel, in the presence of a great concourse of mourners. Mr. Hall's body, with others buried at this place, was removed to Arno's Vale Cemetery some years after this date.

On the night of the 16th March, the steamboat Frolic, plying between this city and Haverfordwest, was wrecked on the Nash Sands, on the coast of Glamorganshire, whilst on a return voyage to Bristol. Fifty persons, including General Macleod, Colonel Gordon, Major Boyd, and several respectable tradesmen of Haverfordwest lost their lives by the calamity.

In consequence of the defeat of Lord Grey's Ministry upon an important detail of the Reform Bill, the Parliament of 1830 was dissolved in the following April, after an existence of less than nine months. In Bristol, as in almost every constituency uncontrolled by what were called borough-mongers, the current of opinion in favour of “the Bill” swept away even the appearance of opposition. Mr. Davis, who in the previous year had been supported by five-sixths of the voters, and who solicited re-election, soon found that his resistance to Reform had wrecked his chances of success, and he speedily quitted the field. The Whigs and Liberals, divided at the previous contest, had been welded together by the popular passion of the hour, and their candidates, Mr. J.E. Baillie and Mr. E. Protheroe, were unanimously elected. The most telling illustration of the general enthusiasm was furnished by Dr. Lant Carpenter in the Monthly Repository of the following December. “The expenses of the preceding election”,


he wrote, “were estimated at not short of £30,000; this time, on the part of Mr. Protheroe, up to the day of election, they had not amounted to £200”. The ceremony of chairing, omitted in 1830, was revived, and was the occasion of an unprecedented demonstration, almost the whole operative class in the city, accompanied by great numbers of tradesmen, taking part - at their own expense - in the triumphal procession of the two members. In the evening the city was illuminated. This was the first occasion on which two Whigs had been returned together for Bristol since 1774.

The census of 1831, taken in the spring of that year, for the first time gave a population exceeding 100,000 to Bristol and its suburbs. The “ancient city” was found to contain 59,074 souls. Clifton, which had nearly trebled its numbers within thirty years, returned a total of 12,032; St. George's, 6,285; the District, 4,495; St. Philip's out, 15,777; Mangotsfield, 3,508; Stapleton, 2,715; making altogether 44,812, and, with the city proper, 103,886. Bedminster, which through some caprice was still excluded from the reckoning, had a population of 13,130, being more than fourfold the numbers of 1801. The tything of Stoke Bishop, in Westbury parish, which the enumerator also ignored as a suburb, contained 2,328 persons.

Langton Street Chapel, built by Lady Huntingdon's connection, was opened in August. The building, which cost about £4,500, is remarkable only as being the first in Bristol in which a mediæval style was adopted for a dissenting place of worship.

The death of the Rev. Samuel Seyer took place on the 25th August. Mr. Seyer was a native of Bristol, being the son of a rector of St. Michael's parish who had been also head master of the Grammar School. After being educated at Oxford, he opened a school in the Royal Fort, at which the sons of many respectable citizens enjoyed the benefit of his classical attainments. His translation of the “Charters and letters patent granted to Bristol”, has been already noticed [p.54]. In 1881, after many years' laborious study, Mr. Seyer commenced the publication of his “Memoirs of Bristol”, two quarto volumes, comprising the history of the city, illustrated with many beautiful engravings, being eventually issued from the press. Towards the expense of this work the Corporation subscribed £200. The second and more interesting section of the work, containing the topography of Bristol, was left in manuscript, owing, it was supposed, to apprehensions as to the pecuniary risks attendant


on its production. Mr. Seyer was also the author of a Latin grammar, a few other school books, and one or two religious tracts. An original member of the Bristol Library Society, Mr. Seyer was its active vice-president for upwards of thirty years. His useful life, however, passed away ignored by the Corporation, one of whose numerous livings might have been gracefully conferred on native merit of no ordinary character. The reverend gentleman, according to a friend who contributed a brief biography of him to a local journal, was one of the few surviving members “of a well known club of literary gentlemen who for many years, during the winter months, assembled by the sound of the mail horn in the Bush Tavern”, of which reunions he is said to have been a distinguished ornament. His remains were interred at Shirehampton.

The coronation of William IV. was celebrated in Bristol on the 8th September with more than usual enthusiasm, his Majesty being at that time very popular amongst the working classes on account of his attitude towards the Reform Bill. Shortly after midday, an imposing procession was formed at the Council House, consisting of the members and officials of the Corporation, of the Society of Merchant Venturers, and of the Incorporation of the Poor, the Dean and clergy of the city, the boys in the endowed schools, the Freemasons of the district, and the workmen of the various trades, bearing emblems of their respective crafts. With these were mingled certain so-called “heralds”, “knights” accoutred in ancient armour, a “crown and cushion”, and innumerable flags and banners, the general appearance of the pageant being picturesque and attractive. The procession made its way, by High Street, Queen Square, and the Quay, to the cathedral, where the civic dignitaries attended service, leaving their followers in College Green. Afterwards the procession was again formed, and returned by a circuitous route to the Council House, which was reached about half-past five o'clock. Besides the enormous crowds of citizens who lined the streets, it was calculated that 30,000 persons had been attracted from the neighbouring districts to witness the civic parade. In the evening all the public buildings and a great number of private houses and places of business were gaily illuminated. The civic expenses on the occasion amounted to £257 16s. 10d.

Some months previous to this date a proposal had been started by a few philanthropic persons, chiefly members of the Society of Friends, for the establishment of a medical


and surgical institution for the southern districts of the city, and at a meeting held at the Guildhall on the 21st September the creation of the General Hospital was definitely resolved upon. The project was deprecated by many friends of the Infirmary, who argued that the receipts of the existing charity were barely able to cover the expenditure, and that a fraction of the money proposed to be spent on a new building and an additional staff would enable the older institution to meet all the needs of the inhabitants. The promoters of the Hospital, who objected to the interference of the medical officers in the administration of the Infirmary, proceeded with their work, and having purchased some property in Guinea Street for £3,725, they had the premises suitably fitted up, and opened them for the reception of patients in 1832. In 1850, in consequence of the dilapidated state of the property, and of the insufficient accommodation available for patients, it was resolved to build a large and appropriate hospital near the same spot. Mr. Joseph Eaton, one of the original promoters, subscribed £5,000, and upwards of £15,000 were offered by other friends. On the completion of the new hospital, in 1858, it was found that the outlay, £28,000, had exceeded the funds in hand by several thousand pounds. At a meeting held in May, 1858, Mr. Eaton increased his gift to £6,500; Mr. George Thomas, another earnest Quaker supporter, augmented his donation to £6,000; Messrs. Finzell gave £300, and Mr. Greville Smyth £100. These and other contributions cleared off the debt. A few days after the meeting, Mr. Eaton suddenly died. He left by will £3,500 to the hospital, making with former gifts £10,000. [His almost equally munificent friend, Mr. Thomas, died on the 7th December, 1869.] The patients were removed from the old to the new hospital in August, 1858. In 1873 a new out-patients' department was added to the building at a cost of £9,000; and in 1882-3, at an outlay of £9,000 additional, the hospital underwent extensive alterations to improve its sanitary condition. Notwithstanding the intentions of the founders, however, the medical staff of the institution have succeeded in acquiring much of the power which was originally withheld from them.

An “affair of honour” was arranged to take place on the 24th September at Wimbledon, between Mr. E. Protheroe, junr., M.P. for the city, and Lieut. Claxton, R.N., who afterwards held the office of corn meter under the Corporation. The cause of the intended duel was a letter on the slavery question, addressed by Mr. Protheroe to the freemen and


citizens, in which he alluded to a certain “hired agent of the West India aristocracy”. The seconds of the two gentlemen, however, succeeded in effecting an arrangement, and Mr. Protheroe, having admitted that Mr. Glaxton was the person alluded to, and declared that he had not believed the lieutenant to be a “hired agent in the common acceptation of the term”, the matter came to a bloodless end.

The date has now been reached of the most disastrous outbreak of popular violence which has occurred in this country during the present century. A few preliminary facts require to be stated to explain the origin of the tumults. Sir Charles Wetherell had held the office of recorder for about four years, and down to 1830 had been popular with the lower classes, owing to his violent opposition to the Roman Catholic claims [see p.129]. On the question of Reform coming to the front, Sir Charles was found to be as vehement and abusive in his condemnation of that Bill as he had been of the other. If he had confined himself to attacks on the general principles of the ministerial scheme, the extravagance of his speeches and demeanour might not have excited more attention in Bristol than elsewhere. In spite of the coarseness of his invective, his speeches were often amusing, whilst his extraordinary display of “gymnastics” in delivery, forgetful of the downward shrinking of his unbraced nether garments, wrought effects on his costume which caricaturists were delighted to reproduce. “He had no interval of lucidity”, said a witty senator after one of his exhibitions, “save the interval between his waistcoat and his breeches”. The declamation of men of this kind is seldom taken seriously. But Sir Charles was indiscreet enough to perorate as a self-constituted representative of Bristol. During a debate in the spring of 1831, he stated that the citizens were indifferent to Reform, an assertion which evoked indignant denials, and which led, upon his entering the city for the April assize, to emphatic demonstrations of popular disapproval. Far from taking warning from this incident, however, the recorder, on the 27th August, assured the House of Commons that “the Reform fever had a good deal abated in Bristol”. Mr. Protheroe, one of the members for the city, forthwith rose to declare that this assertion was the very reverse of the fact, inasmuch as local feeling in favour of the measure had increased rather than diminished; but Sir Charles, reminding the House that he was the senior alderman of the city, said “he felt quite sure that the Bill did not stand so high as it did in the Bristol thermometer”. His


belief may have been founded on the assertions of the local organ of ultra Toryism, or on the communications of some of his brother aldermen, who, living out of the city, and keeping aloof from all but their own select circle, represented facts, not as they were, but as they wished them to be. In either case, the truth was, that since the recorder's previous misrepresentation, as the election had borne witness, public feeling in support of the Bill had become far more intensely enthusiastic than before, and the news of this second and wholly unjustifiable offence excited great irritation. It was pointed out, that whilst Sir C. Wetherell was using every device to obstruct the progress of a measure demanded by the country (the Mirror of Parliament credits him with 180 addresses against the Bill during the two sessions of 1831), he was in no legitimate sense of the term a popular representative at all. He was, in fact, one of four members, nominally elected by a small rural parish in Yorkshire, but actually the nominees of the Duke of Newcastle, who, if he had chosen to follow the example of another noble borough-owner referred to by Earl Russell in the introduction to his collected speeches, could have dictated the election of his negro valet. The connection of Sir Charles with Bristol, again, was not one to challenge public criticism. His selection for an office which gave him powers of life and death over the prisoners brought before him was the work of a self-elected coterie, entirely out of harmony with the opinions of the citizens. The claim of such an official to interpret the political views of Bristolians was therefore regarded as an impertinent challenge, which the advocates of Reform were called upon to take up; and it speedily became known that the recorder, on his next visit, would be furnished with unmistakable proofs of the inaccuracy of his assertions. Matters became still more critical at the beginning of October, when the House of Lords, taking the course which Sir Charles had conjured them to follow, and perhaps putting faith in his and other allegations about popular reaction, rejected the Reform Bill by a large majority. A few days later, following the course adopted in all the great towns, the local supporters of the measure convened a meeting at the Guildhall (but which was adjourned to Queen Square owing to the unexampled attendance), when intemperate speeches were made by Mr. Protheroe, M.P., and others, amidst enthusiastic cheering. The historians of the time are agreed that a large majority of the middle and working classes were prepared for a national convulsion rather than submit to a continuance


of the so-called borough-mongering system, and there is no evidence to show that Bristolians were less in earnest than the rest of their countrymen. They had, moreover, special reasons for discontent, which their political opponents in the city, jubilant at the action of the Peers, were ill-advised enough to throw into relief by taunts and defiance. The members of the Corporation, becoming alarmed at the ferment, took steps which made matters only worse. After the Queen Square meeting, and about a fortnight before the day fixed for the assizes, Lieut. Claxton, R.N., the gentleman mentioned in a former page, privately solicited signatures to a requisition calling on the mayor to convene a meeting, at which the seamen of the port might “express their loyalty to the king”. The mayor assented to the request, and a meeting was accordingly held on board a West Indiaman belonging to the mayor, Lieut. Claxton, and others. In the course of the proceedings, however, Mr. Claxton, who had taken the chair, admitted that the real object of the gathering was to organise the sailors as a body-guard for Sir Charles Wetherell on his approaching visit. The avowal met with a reception little expected by the agent of the Corporation. The sailors present refused to be employed in a manner which would identify them with the anti-reformers, and, being forthwith ordered out of the ship by the discomfited chairman, they held another meeting on shore, where they passed a resolution expressing loyalty to the king, but declaring that they “would not allow themselves to be made catspaws by the Corporation or its paid agents”. Baffled in this direction, the aldermen thought of postponing the assizes, but found that Sir Charles Wetherell would not consent to such a course. Application was then made to the Home Secretary (Lord Melbourne) for a military force to support the civil authorities. The Secretary of State, before assenting to this request, asked the opinion of Mr. Protheroe, M.P., then in London, when that gentleman replied that it was not to be supposed that the reformers of the city would fail to manifest their disapproval of the recorder's political conduct, since, if they remained silent, the opponents of Reform would assert that the alleged reaction was triumphantly proved; he would not be answerable for tranquillity if military force were employed, but, if the Corporation would assent, he would conduct Sir C. Wetherell to the Guildhall in his own carriage. Treating this proposal with scorn, the corporate officials persisted in their request for troops, and Lord Melbourne assented. The next step of the civic body was to direct the chief


constables of the wards to swear in 800 inhabitants as special constables. The result afforded a striking illustration of the feeling entertained towards the Corporation. With rare exceptions, the gentlemen and tradesmen summoned refused to attend, and almost the only persons forthcoming were Tory young men, zealous anti-reformers, who, according to a contemporary historian, “viewed the lower classes with contempt, as a troublesome rabble, and rather relished an occasion for defying and humbling them”. Even with this risky assistance, only 200 constables could be marshalled, and it was necessary to have recourse to a still more questionable class - the rough labourers who were hired as “bludgeon men” at elections. Whilst the preparations were still proceeding, Mr. Alderman Daniel, who was not only the guiding spirit of the Common Council, but the head of the local Tory party, entered into negotiations with Mr. Wm. Herapath, the president of a numerous working-class organisation known as the Political Union, with the object of obtaining the help of the latter body in the preservation of order. Mr. Herapath, who was kept in ignorance of the approach of troops, consented to lend his assistance; but the arrangement with Lord Melbourne becoming known a few hours later, the committee of the Union, expressing strong censure on the conduct of the authorities, refused further cooperation; requesting the Unionists, however, to assist individually in maintaining the public peace. The day fixed for the opening of the assize - Saturday the 29th October - at length arrived, and the state of the streets from an early hour manifested the excitement of the populace. The aldermen, in the hope of lightening the difficulty, had arranged with the recorder that his state entrance should take place at 10 o'clock in the morning, instead of at the usual hour in the afternoon; but the change of time had become known to many persons on the previous evening, and the gathering of the special constables in the Exchange early in the day put all classes on the alert. The promised cavalry - a troop of the 3rd Dragoons and another of the 14th Hussars - were known to be quartered in the suburbs; and though they were moved to the cattle market and the gaol with the least possible display, their presence tended to increase the excitement. At the time appointed, between one and two thousand persons, chiefly labourers, had assembled at Totterdown, where it was customary for the recorder to leave the private carriage in which he had driven from Bath, and to take his seat in the state coach of the sheriffs; and when Sir Charles made his


appearance he was received with a load burst of hisses and groans. The change of vehicles having been made, however, the constables closed around the civic coach in a somewhat disorderly manner, and the procession started for the city, accompanied by the mob, which vented its wrath in continuous yells. On reaching Temple Street the crowd, increasing at every step, became so dense as almost to choke up the narrow thoroughfare, while a number of women of the lowest class, flinging mud at the carriage, shrieked invectives at the recorder, and upbraided the men around them for the cowardice of their inaction. At Bristol Bridge another vast crowd had assembled, and the groaning and hissing became more furious than ever, occasional stones being flung towards the carriage, but without doing any injury. Amongst ever-increasing numbers and amidst whirlwinds of yells, the procession at length reached the Guildhall, where the constables with great difficulty cleared a passage and enabled the recorder to alight. Sir Charles was naturally somewhat agitated by so emphatic an expression of public feeling, but after taking his seat in court he recovered his equanimity, rebuked the tumultuous rabble that filled the gallery, and threatened to commit any disturber of order. The usual preliminaries of an assize having been achieved, and the court adjourned to the following Monday amidst cheering for the king, another critical task had to be faced - the procession to the Mansion House in Queen Square. A dense crowd occupied the entire route, and the cries and groans were not less boisterous than before; but beyond the flinging of a few stones by the crowd gathered in the square there was no symptom of violence, and the civic residence was reached in safety.

The situation at this moment was very similar to what it had been twenty-one years before on the entry of another unpopular judge [see p.39]. Unhappily the magistrates did not now display similar vigour to that which restored tranquillity on the previous occasion. A large portion of the crowd, thinking that the protest against the recorder's offence had been sufficiently explicit, soon dispersed, and many more would have left the square if an appeal had been made to their reason. Even as it was, the commotion so much settled down that the magistrates actually discussed the propriety of proceeding to church in the accustomed pomp next morning. The advisability of confronting and remonstrating with the noisy assemblage before the house was not thought of; and the special constables were left to


exercise their discretion - or rather indiscretion - with truly calamitous consequences. Some of the young guardians of order, without leadership, eager to display their zeal for the established order of things, and destitute alike of prudence and forbearance, had been hit by some of the missiles which greeted the recorder's arrival at the Mansion House. No sooner were the civic authorities in safety than the constables, in retaliation for these insults, rushed into the crowd, which for the most part fled at their approach, and, after belabouring those that could be reached with their heavy staves, carried off a few prisoners in triumph. Desultory incursions, of the same character, and with similar results, were made at intervals by parties of constables for two or three hours, and, as was to be expected, the people who were maltreated by the officers were rarely the most mischievous or ill intentioned of the rabble. It was equally natural that the haphazard administration of bludgeon law by men crying, “We'll give you 'reaction!'” should excite a desire for revenge; and whilst the constables were exulting over the success of their raids, it was evident to cooler-headed observers that a strong feeling of exasperation was rising in the crowd. Intelligence of the situation was moreover quickly spread about the city by those who fled bleeding from the scene of action, while the removal of wounded men to the Infirmary, and the dragging of prisoners to Bridewell, were perilous advertisements of the strife. The captives in many cases were rescued, whereupon they returned to the square, in company with enraged sympathisers who added fresh elements of danger. Nevertheless the situation did not cause great anxiety within the Mansion House. The town clerk, Mr. Serjeant Ludlow, it is true, expressed an opinion that some of the troops should be brought to the spot; but Sir Charles Wetherell disapproved of the suggestion, and his view of the matter prevailed. A little later, when the fiercer spirits amongst the crowd were searching the neighbourhood for sticks and missiles, a large body of the special constables, having been many hours without food, were permitted to return to their homes for refreshment, but with instructions to collect again in the evening at the Guildhall. Observing their departure, and unacquainted with its cause, the more disorderly section of the populace attributed the retreat to fear, and acted as ruffians are prone to act at such a moment. A rush was made against the constables remaining on duty, who were quickly scattered; the railings in front of the Mansion House were then torn down; and the whole of the


windows on the ground floor were demolished with stones and brickbats.

At last thoroughly alarmed, some of the magistrates made their appearance, and the mayor (Mr. C. Finney), who, being a Reformer, was not personally unpopular, with great difficulty obtained a hearing. The earnest remonstrances he addressed to the people on the folly and wickedness of their conduct, and the warnings he added as to the consequences of further tumult were, however, of no avail, and his entreaties to disperse were interrupted by a shower of missiles. The reading of the Riot Act, which followed, was received with howls of derision, whilst such of the constables as had re-assembled were attacked, disarmed, and mercilessly beaten - one of the luckless band being compelled by threats to fling his staff through the windows of the Mansion House, whilst another was driven into the Floating Harbour, and narrowly escaped with his life. Every vestige of defence being swept away, a general assault was made on the Mansion House, the broken railings of which became destructive weapons in the hands of the wreckers. A neighbouring wall was soon pulled down to furnish materials for the assault, and beams of timber were brought up and used as battering rams. The door and window frames being reduced to splinters, the rabble made their way into the ground floor of the building, the furniture, mirrors, chandeliers, and other contents of which were demolished in a few minutes. The kitchens, where a great civic feast was in preparation, were next entered, the cooks driven away, and joints, fowls, game, and pastry were carried off and devoured by the rioters, amidst the cheers of hundreds of spectators. All that the imprisoned mayor and his colleagues could do was to protect themselves from missiles in the upper rooms by barricading the broken casements with feather beds, the whole resources of the establishment being applied to this purpose. Complete ruin having been wrought in the basement apartments, straw and faggots were collected by the mob and carried into the dining room for the purpose of setting fire to the house. That end, it is said, was temporarily averted by a singular obstacle - the inability of the rabble to procure a light, (lucifers being still in the future). Their villanous intentions, however, were manifested by the attempts which were begun to barricade the entrances to the square with planks and paving stones, with the view of preventing the interference of the military.

It was about this point that Sir Charles Wetherell resolved


on making his escape. The rioters, apprehensive that he would take flighty had surrounded the Mansion House as far as the adjoining dwellings permitted, and no doubt destined him to the fate they were preparing for the building itself. The recorder, however, guided by his friends, got upon the flat roof of the dining room, clambered from it by a ladder to a window of the next house, and ultimately made his way to a stable at the back. Here he changed clothes with a postillion, and succeeded so easily in passing through the crowd, and reaching a house at Kingsdown, that he is said to have taken a voluntary stroll through the streets at a later hour in the evening, to ascertain the state of the city. Finding the disturbance showed no signs of abatement, he ordered a chaise and left for Newport, which he reached early on the following morning.

Ignorant of the evasion, the rioters continued their preparations for a fire, when, about six o'clock, in response to the request of the magistrates, the two troops of horse soldiers were brought into the square by Lieut.-Colonel Brereton, the resident Inspecting Field Officer of the Bristol recruiting district, who, by virtue of his rank, had assumed the command. Their arrival put an end to the attack on the house, but the rioters, far from showing fear of the troops, received them with cheers, and sang “God save the king!” Colonel Brereton had already had an interview with the besieged mayor and aldermen. After perambulating the square, he returned to the house, and a lively discussion ensued as to the steps that should be taken. The aldermen and the town clerk advocated the instant employment of force to clear the square; and the mayor told the officer he must order his men to fire if the tumult could not otherwise be suppressed. But Major (afterwards Sir) Digby Mackworth (aide-de-camp to Lord Hill, commander in chief), who had shortly before returned from the Forest of Dean after putting down some agrarian disturbances, urged that no firing should take place, for the sake of the innocent who would certainly suffer, and expressed his conviction that by combining the civil and military forces the populace might be dispersed. Colonel Brereton also strongly disapproved of bloodshed. After again going into the square, he reported on his return that the mob were in good humour, and that he should be able to disperse them by simply walking his troops about. This he sought to do for some hours. But although, whenever he appeared, the rabble received him with cheers, many of them seizing and shaking his hand, the


crowd continued in the square with but little diminution. During one of the colonel's numerous calls at the Mansion House, the town clerk, who seems to have made himself the mouthpiece of the authorities, expressed much dissatisfaction at the delay, and told the colonel that the magistrates required the square to be cleared. To this the officer more than once replied that if his men were to fire he must have an explicit order to that effect. In giving evidence afterwards, Serjeant Ludlow admitted that “he was not aware that any explicit orders were given”. However, about an hour before midnight, the situation remaining unchanged, Colonel Brereton gave directions to Captain Gage, of the 14th Hussars, to clear the streets by force, and the troops thereupon made a charge on the populace, striking only with the flat of their sabres. Though the rioters instantly scattered, the traditional obstinacy of a Bristol mob was nevertheless visible. Many ruffians, taking refuge in narrow alleys, pelted the soldiers with stones and pieces of iron, and Captain Gage, returning to the Mansion House, asked for orders to fire. The mayor hesitated, Colonel Brereton refused to give the order on his own responsibility; and Captain Gage, resuming the command of his troop, had to be satisfied with clearing the interior of Queen Square; while the special constables, organised by Major Mackworth, were posted around the house, which now seemed secure against attack. Major Mackworth subsequently stated that when he left the building, about two hours later, “the crowds had nearly all dispersed, and I thought the worst of the riot was over”. In the meantime, however, some of the populace had repaired to the Council House, the doors and windows of which were assailed, and Captain Gage was sent off to take such measures for its protection as he deemed expedient. A scene of great confusion ensued, the troops making dashes at the crowd, while the more determined rioters, ensconcing themselves in narrow lanes which the cavalry could not enter, hurled volleys of missiles on the troops. Exasperated by their injuries, some of the soldiers at length fired, and one man, a peaceful ostler returning from his stable, was killed at the head of the Pithay. Sabres were also vigorously wielded, and several men were wounded, one of them mortally. The effect of the charges was, however, decisive. The rioters wholly disappeared, and for some hours all was quiet. During the night carpenters were employed to board up the breaches in the Mansion House, where a few soldiers remained on guard, and the work was completed without


interruption. The mayor remained at his post, though rest was of course impossible; but the aldermen, the town clerk, in fact the whole civic body with the exception of Mr. Sheriff Lax, quietly disappeared. The special constables followed the example, and when Major Mackworth returned early on Sunday morning, the force of 250 which he had drilled the night before had “dwindled to about a dozen, and were even then diminishing in number”. Their defection sealed the fate of the civic mansion. Soon after dawn about a score of the rioters gathered in the square, and by eight o'clock the knot of men had increased to a crowd, almost wholly composed of the most vicious class in the city. Through another of the many blunders incidental to this deplorable affair, the handful of troops patrolling the square was about this time withdrawn, and the moment the stage was clear the rioting recommenced. The newly-constructed defences of the Mansion House having been quickly demolished, a number of ruffians dashed into the premises, clambered to the upper rooms, and threw the furniture, bedding, etc., into the square, where much was carried off and the rest wantonly destroyed. Amongst the articles found were Sir Charles Wetherell's judicial robe and wig, which were forthwith torn to fragments and distributed amongst the plunderers as souvenirs of their triumph.

Just before the capture of the house, the mayor, accompanied by Major Mackworth, effected his escape, by getting out of an attic window, crouching along between the double roofs of eight or nine houses for concealment from the mob, kicking out a pane of glass in the Custom House to raise a sash, and then quietly leaving that building for the Guildhall! Regardless of the fate of the inmates of the Mansion House, and even of Sir Charles Wetherell himself - whose escape was still unknown - the rioters lost no time in making their way to the wine cellars, which were reported to be well stored. Several hundred bottles of port, sherry, and Madeira were forthwith stolen and carried into the square, where an astonishing orgie was soon in full swing. A crowd of men, women, and boys were to be seen staggering about, madly intoxicated, yelling, swearing, singing, and vociferating threats against the recorder; whilst scores, too drunk to stand, were rolling on the ground, where those not already insensible from their excesses were re-echoing the maledictions and menaces of their companions. Intelligence of the debauch spread with remarkable quickness into all the low-class quarters of the city, and the concourse in the square was


rapidly reinforced by those eager to share in the saturnalia. Some of the cavalry having been brought back at the request of the mayor, the Riot Act was three times read by one of the aldermen. No order to fire was, however, given, and Colonel Brereton, in spite of the scene before his eyes, declared that fire-arms should not be used, and that the troops were so exhausted as to absolutely require rest. Having remarked, moreover, that the rabble, whilst cheering the dragoons, were intensely exasperated against the hussars, in consequence of the charge in Wine Street on the previous night, Colonel Brereton told Captain Gage that his troop was the sole cause of the renewed disturbance, and directed him to take his men out of the city, Keynsham being selected as their future station. The colonel's order excited great indignation, not merely in the city but throughout the country. It is only fair to state that Major Mackworth, in his “personal narrative”, remarked that the hussars were in absolute need of rest, and that, though “they might have executed a few charges, unless supported by some other description of force they could have done no permanent good, and would soon have been so exhausted as to leave the city wholly defenceless”. Their retreat was not effected without bloodshed. The unpopular cavalry, being first directed to their quarters in College Place, were violently attacked with stones on St. Augustine's Back, when some of them, painfully injured, fired in self-defence, killing one rioter and wounding seven or eight others. They soon after left for Keynsham, whereupon Colonel Brereton returned to Queen Square, and, in response to the cheers with which he was greeted, addressed the mob, begging them to disperse, but adding that there would be no more firing, and that the hussars had been sent away.

Such language was not calculated to discourage the rioters, and though the dragoons prevented further plundering in the wine cellars, the mob went on carousing as before. In a short time the bells began to chime for Sunday morning service, and, incredible as it now seems, the attendance at the churches and chapels was so nearly of an average character that a stranger could not have suspected the actual condition of the city. This was doubtless largely due to the singularly isolated position of Queen Square, surrounded on three sides by water, and to the ignorance of the great bulk of the respectable inhabitants of the events that had transpired. But it was partly attributable, as will be shown, to the unpopularity of the Corporation. The mayor and some


of the aldermen had assembled early at the Guildhall, where they received offers of service from some of the army pensioners. There were about 250 of those disciplined veterans in the city; and if, as Major Mackworth had counselled the mayor, they had been called out before the recorder's arrival, the tumult in Queen Square would have been suppressed at the outset. Even after the experience of the previous night, however, the magistrates were unable to appreciate the value of these auxiliaries, who met with so cold a reception that they withdrew. About eleven o'clock the mayor issued a placard stating that Sir Charles Wetherell had left the city, and another announcing that the Riot Act had been read. Handbills were also sent to the churches and chapels, describing the perilous state of affairs, and earnestly calling upon the citizens to support the mayor in maintaining order. His worship's appeal was made known to most of the congregations at the close of the service; but although Dr. Carpenter estimated that some 20,000 persons were in attendance, only about 200 gentlemen assembled at the Guildhall. Many of the absentees, according to a subsequent deposition, excused themselves by asking: “Why should we protect the Corporation's property? Let them protect their own property”. The muncipality, it was argued, instead of being a public institution for the public security, claimed to be a private monopoly, and had shown itself contemptuous of public opinion [see p.104]; it had no right to complain when almost the entire community showed its discontent and distrust by holding aloof. The gathering of citizens was so small that after multitudinous plans of action had been discussed - “every one differing from his neighbour” according to Major Mackworth - it was finally determined that each gentleman should go home, endeavour to obtain the cooperation of his neighbours, and return in the afternoon.

The three o'clock meeting was not more numerously attended than its forerunner, owing in some degree, perhaps, to thoughtless arrangements, entrance into the hall being obtainable only by a side-door unknown to the general public. The mayor, who presided, stated that the mob had been in possession of the city for some time, and were then in the act of burning down Bridewell. Being asked if he had any plan to propose, his worship answered in the negative, and upon further questions being put, Mr. Serjeant Ludlow, with his habitual garrulity and self-sufficiency, undertook to speak for the magistrates. Having delivered himself of his news on political affairs, the town clerk, however, vouchsafed


no information or advice except that “every man must act on his own discretion and responsibility”. Some of the gentlemen present offered to act as constables if a few soldiers were sent in company with them; but Colonel Brereton, who arrived at this point, declared that his men were then too fatigued to go out. After further desultory conversation, in which union and energy were as conspicuously absent as in the morning, Serjeant Ludlow declared that nothing more could be done, that it would shortly be dark, and that it was high time to take care of themselves - a rule which the learned gentleman faithfully followed throughout. The mayor next observed that being without an efficient civil force, and the military being untrustworthy, the best advice he could give was that each person should go home and take care of his own property. The meeting was nevertheless adjourned to the Council House, and continued some hours longer in a disorderly and unfruitful fashion. But it is useless to dwell further on the melancholy exhibition of feebleness and indecision, and the scene must be shifted to the centre of the disturbance, in Queen Square.

After Colonel Brereton's imprudent remarks already recorded, no change in the aspect of affairs occurred for two or three hours. The official placard announcing that Sir Charles Wetherell had left the city was followed by another to the same effect, posted by the Political Union; but the mob put no faith in either document, and the Mansion House continued to be rigorously watched. At length, about one o'clock, Mr. S. Waring, a respected Quaker merchant, addressed the crowd, assuring them that the recorder had departed. After some hesitation, the men who assumed the position of ringleaders said they would “believe the Quaker”, adding: “We will do no more here; we will go to Bridewell, and release the prisoners taken last night; and then we will go to the gaol, and release those Sir Charles was to have tried”. Mr. Waring at once went to Alderman A. Hilhouse to acquaint him with the purpose of the rioters, and urged the necessity of immediately guarding the prisons; but the alderman treated the warning very lightly, asserting that the walls and gates “were strong enough”. Little time was lost by the rioters in carrying out their design, and a gang of desperadoes was soon in front of Bridewell. The buildings forming the prison at that time stood on both sides of what was called Bridewell Lane, the gaoler, Mr. Evans, residing on one side, while the prison proper, on the other, was connected with the dwelling-house by two strong


archways, each of which could be closed by a heavy gate. The position was so strong that a dozen resolute men could have kept an unlimited number of ragamuffins at bay; but the gaoler had only himself and two under-officers to depend upon. On the approach of the mob, Evans armed himself and his subordinates with swords, drove the front rank of the assailants from the space between the two buildings, and closed the gates. The garrison, however, was too weak to withstand the pressure of a multitude, and in a few minutes the mob succeeded in lifting the gates from their hinges and in throwing them into the Froom - then uncovered at Bridewell Bridge. Evans, in spite of the threats and missiles showered upon him, next appeared armed with a blunderbuss at one of the windows of his house, and for a further time kept the assailants at a distance. Sledge hammers had however been obtained from a neighbouring smithy, an entry into the gaoler's house was effected through a window, and as Evans had his wife and family, as well as the wife and children of the turnkey, in the building, he found himself compelled to order the warder to surrender the keys. He managed, however, to send a messenger to the magistrates, describing the peril of the prison; and the man assured the aldermen that he could still protect the place with twenty constables and ten soldiers. The answer which the messenger swore to having received was:- “You say they have released the prisoners: pooh pooh! there will be nothing more done”. The issue was very different. As soon as the criminals in custody were set free, the rioters set fire to the chapel and cells, which were speedily consumed. The gaoler's house for the time escaped destruction.

Having carried out this part of their plan, the rioters proceeded to the gaol, then only a few years old, and standing on the southern bank of the new river. Mr. Waring, who had made another reconnoitre, had already warned Alderman A. Hilhouse that an attack was imminent, but met with no better success than before. About half an hour before the mob reached the prison, Mr. Humphries, the governor, made his way to the Guildhall, and asked whether he was to defend the place or release the prisoners. No answer was given, and it was not until the question had been pressed two or three times that Alderman A. Hilhouse informed the governor that “he was to use his own discretion; the magistrates gave him no directions”. After further consultation, however, the above alderman, accompanied by Alderman Savage and a few other gentlemen, went down to the gaol to


see if anything could be done; but the mob, which was making for the spot, refused to listen to them, and drove the party away with stones.

The reader will find it difficult to produce before his mind's eye a glimmering picture of the state of the city during that wet and murky October afternoon. Let him add, however, to the following rapid sketch of the rioters by Dr. Carpenter a few pallid and anxious spectators on the dingy pavements, and he may faintly conceive the scene:- “They could not have been more than from five to six hundred, and the number might have been less. I saw them about a quarter after two, as they were coming down Clare Street on their way. They were a compact body, without stragglers or attendants. They moved with great expedition; and their object was well known. Most of them had bludgeons; some had hatchets; and others were armed with iron palisades, from the front of the Mansion House. All I noticed were the dregs of the city; and a large part were under twenty years of age. . . . The sledge hammers with which they broke [the gaol] open, they procured at a neighbouring manufactory; and the proprietor told me they brought all back but two”.

The outer gates of the gaol were of great strength, and the place was even more capable of defence than Bridewell. Though no defence was attempted, the assailants had to ply their hammers and iron bars for three quarters of an hour before a hole was made sufficiently large to admit of the entrance of one of the mob. But this once achieved, the ringleaders were soon within the archway, whence they attacked the inner iron gates, which were comparatively weak. Resistance being hopeless, one of the warders unlocked the gates, and in a few minutes about 800 of the criminal crew penetrated into every nook of the building, destroyed the doors of the cells, and liberated the prisoners, about 170 in number, several of whom stripped themselves of their gaol dress, and ran off to their former haunts in a state of nudity. As the main object of the rioters was being achieved, a body of about twenty dragoons trotted to the prison, led by a young comet named Kelson, whose account of what occurred was afterwards given on oath. He was, he said, ordered by Lieut.-Colonel Brereten to go with a party of men to the gaol. He had asked the colonel what he was to do when he got there, and was told that, as a magistrate was not to be found, he must on no account use violence, but simply go and return. The soldiers therefore


advanced to the gates, where the officer could see the mob “knocking things to pieces”, and then the troops, who had been welcomed with cheers by the rioters, and had waved their caps in return, were marched back to College Green, where Colonel Brereton, on receiving the comet's report, told him he had acted “perfectly right”. About the same time, Mr. Herapath and other members of the Political Union remonstrated with the mob, but were roughly told by its leaders that they knew their own business and would attend to it. After the prisoners had been set free, the governor's house was sacked, a large portion of the contents, including the prison records, being thrown into the Avon amidst the cheers of thousands of the labouring class who lined the river banks. The devastation was completed by setting fire to the buildings - every part that would burn, including the governor's dwelling, the chapel, and the treadmill being speedily destroyed.

Whilst the flames were still raging, the ruffians held a council in the gaol yard to consider their next point of attack. Several public buildings were marked out for destruction, but it was eventually, determined to burn the toll-houses near the Floating Harbour, and then to break open the Gloucestershire House of Correction at Lawford's Gate, where several prisoners were known to be detained. The firing of the toll-houses was the work of only a few minutes, though the rioters allowed the toll-collectors a brief interval to remove their furniture. About seven o'clock in the evening, the rabble reached Lawford's Gate prison, the gates of which were quickly demolished by hammers and other weapons; and as soon as the prisoners had been released the building was set on fire, and speedily burnt down. Simultaneously with this outrage, a small band of ragamuffins, not exceeding thirty in number, and chiefly Irish boys, returned to Bridewell, and completed the havoc in that quarter by burning the gaoler's house.

The gang which committed the latter wanton piece of mischief next moved towards the Bishop's Palace, situated on the south side of the cathedral. Bishop Gray, who had made himself unpopular amongst the working classes by his speech and vote against the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, had preached in the cathedral at the morning service, but had left his residence during the afternoon from apprehensions as to its fate, and the more valuable contents had been removed. Notice of the intended attack was in this case also sent to the magistrates; and several gentlemen, who


had gone to the Council House to offer their services, addressed Alderman Savage, requesting him to authorise them to defend the palace. The alderman, however, replied:- “We can give no such permission: we are advised to call out the posse comitatus to-morrow morning; and can do nothing until then”. The first gang which entered Lower College Green, according to the evidence of Jones, the bishop's butler, who displayed much courage, consisted of about a hundred men and boys; but other witnesses estimated the number at not more than thirty. The account in the Bristol Mirror describes them as “a mere handful”. On reaching the Green, about eight o'clock, this body, with the hammers brought from Bridewell, attacked the gate leading into the cloisters, which was soon broken down. The door into the palace, which Jones refused to open, was next demolished, and the rioters rushed into the apartments in search of plunder. The arrival of a party of troops in the Green, however, caused a panic; and the mob, who had flung the red-hot cinders in the grates about the fine old dining parlour and some of the bedrooms, took to flight, carrying off such portable articles as had attracted their cupidity. Cornet Kelson, in command of the cavalry, was invited by Jones to dismount and enter; but he replied that Colonel Brereton's orders did not permit him to do so. A few minutes afterwards he received instructions to leave for Queen Square; and no sooner had the troops departed than the rioters, reinforced by many of the gang from Lawford's Gate, burst afresh into the palace, drove Jones from his post, thoroughly sacked the premises from the attics to the cellars, and finally kindled fires in several places at once. The bishop's wine, cleared out from the cellars, is said to have been sold in the Green at a penny or twopence a bottle. The chapter house was next broken into, and a library of 6,000 volumes, together with some valuable manuscripts, was recklessly tossed about, the major portion of the books being flung through one of the windows into the burning palace, while a bonfire was made with several hundred others in the cloisters. The rest were chiefly stolen, or flung into the harbour. The rioters now resolved to burn the chapter house and cathedral, but were resisted for a time by Phillips, the sub-sacrist. The exertions of that worthy official would, however, have been fruitless but for the courage of four or five gentlemen (Dissenters) who ventured into the crowd. Mr. B. Ralph, the most energetic of the party, faced the ringleader of the incendiaries, and told him that no Reformer would destroy


the people's property; whereupon the ruffian, shouting for Reform, said they would not burn the college, and the flames in the chapter room were extinguished. Before they quitted the neighbourhood, the rioters had the insolence to make an attack on Reeves' hotel in College Place, the head-quarters of the dragoons; but upon a few of the cavalry turning out, the assailants decamped, after demolishing some windows.

Whilst those scenes were being enacted in St. Augustine's, more extensive devastation had begun in Queen Square. The liberation of a horde of hardened criminals from the prisons had doubtless a serious influence on subsequent events. Political feeling had brought about the demonstration of Saturday, but the mass of those who took part in it had withdrawn, and the undisguised purpose of the vicious crew who had succeeded them, consisting, according to the Mirror, “entirely of low Irish”, was outrage with a view to plunder. During the attack on Lawford's Gate, a crowd had remained in front of the Mansion House, for the protection of which, strangely enough, the magistrates had made no provision throughout the entire day, but had contented themselves with removing the plate and several valuable pictures. For some hours the rabble were prevented from doing serious mischief by a picket of seven soldiers which perambulated the thoroughfare; but the intention of the ringleaders was in no doubt, for they were seen by Father Edgeworth in one of the adjoining by-streets preparing balls of pitch and flax, which, according to his deposition, “they significantly held up to the people and the soldiers”. When the handful of the latter were despatched for the so-called protection of the bishop's palace, a few desperadoes again burst into the Mansion House wine-cellars, and ransacked the cupboards etc., on the ground floor. The testimony of Father Edgeworth, who had been drawn to the spot by a desire to keep his Irish flock in order, affords a graphic idea of the scene. The plunderers, he said, hesitated before mounting to the upper floors of the house; but a boy, of about thirteen years, with a candle in his hand, ran up a few of the stairs and cried out, “Why do you not come on; are you afraid?” whereupon about twenty or thirty, chiefly lads of about sixteen years, followed the boy with a cheer. Everything which could be carried away was then stolen; the larger pieces of furniture were knocked to pieces; and the raiders finished the work by setting fire to most of the chambers, a quantity of wine and spirits being thrown upon the straw in the cellar before it was lighted. A few remained


upstairs in search of plunder until retreat was no longer practicable; and the remains found in the ruins showed how dearly they had paid for their villany. So rapid was the progress of the flames, that the dragoons directed to Lower College Green saw, on arriving there, the Mansion House in a blaze. Believing that the palace was no longer in danger, the troops returned to Queen Square - only to behold, immediately afterwards, that the episcopal residence had shared the same fate. A little before ten o'clock, Comet Kelson, who was left without orders, and believed that nothing more could be done, ordered his slender force to their quarters; and the rioters were left to work havoc at their discretion. “Not a fire engine was present”, wrote Mr. Somerton, proprietor of the ‘Bristol Mercury’, a spectator, “nor do we hear that any made the attempt. The firemen of the different companies alone, armed with their fire hatchets, would have been more than sufficient to have routed the mob at this or any subsequent time during the evening”. The special constables had disappeared early in the day; and the only regular officers of police, the mayor's and sheriffs' sergeants, were so panic-stricken that they hid themselves in their houses, taking the name-plates off their doors in order to escape attention.

A new illustration of the mental condition of the authorities was given about this time. The magistrates had despatched expresses in various directions for military assistance. Amongst others, the Dodington troop of Gloucestershire Yeomanry was summoned; but no arrangements were made for the quartering of that or any other body. The troop in question having arrived about ten o'clock in the evening, the commander, Captain Codrington, marched to the Council House; but no magistrate was in attendance to give him instructions. The captain next proceeded to the recruiting office in College Green, in search of Colonel Brereton; but that officer declined to give him orders to act until he had the co-operation of a magistrate. Later on, Captain Codrington and his men made their way to Queen Square while the Mansion House was in flames; but they could still obtain no intelligence of a guardian of the law. In a letter, addressed next day to the Home Secretary, the captain wrote:-

“Having paraded through the principal streets of the city for more than two hours, without being able to find a magistrate; hearing that they had in fact left the town after withdrawing both his majesty's troops and the police; finding ourselves thus unsupported, and without a hope of being in


any way serviceable, the city being actually in the uncontrolled power of the populace, I had no alternative but that of withdrawing also my men, and we returned home about five o'clock this morning”. Soon after his interview with Captain Codrington, Colonel Brereton retired to bed, apparently washing his hands of all responsibility. If he supposed that the rioters would be satisfied with the havoc they had wrought on public property, he was soon undeceived.

The Mansion House was still burning fiercely when it became apparent to the thousands of persons hitherto looking on with indifference, that the ringleaders were preparing to fire the adjoining houses. The attack commenced by beating in the ground-floor windows and forcing the doors; admission having been gained, the rooms were ransacked and the lighter furniture and effects thrown into the thoroughfare; finally, the heavy furniture was broken to pieces, piled in a heap, and set on fire. Most of the apartments being lined with wainscot, and combustible articles being kindled on every storey, the flames spread with astonishing rapidity. Indeed, before midnight the range of dwellings between the Mansion House and the Custom House, including several houses at the back, formed one immense conflagration. The occupiers, having received from the rioters a brief notice to leave, had carried off a portion of their more valuable effects; but much of the salvage was deposited in other houses, then supposed to be out of harm's way, and eventually also destroyed.

The sack and destruction of the Custom House were the next flagrant incidents of the night. After an entry had been effected, a band of wretches, including a few women, allowing the officials to pack up and remove the documents and books, rushed upstairs to the dwelling rooms, where, finding a quantity of provisions and liquor, they deliberately sat down to regale themselves, whilst a more active gang pursued the work of destruction in the adjoining apartments. A dreadful fate befell many of the carousers. In the midst of their brutal revelry, the fires lighted by their companions reached the staircase, which soon became impassable. Some of the revellers slid from the balcony outside and escaped; others jumped from the windows and fell crushed on the pavement; one or two leaped upon the portico, the leaden roof of which was already in a molten state, and, being held fast by the viscous metal, were literally roasted to death. [At the Bristol meeting of the British Association in 1836, Dr. Buckland perpetrated a grim joke on the geological


section by producing for inspection a bone, which he said had just been handed to him, and which he described as part of the rib of a mammal, found upon the red sandstone. The relic haying greatly puzzled the learned gathering, the doctor at length explained, that it was a bone of one of the rioters who perished at the Custom House. The animal matter had been decomposed by intense heat, and the cavities were filled with melted lead]. About four or five fell back into the flames, and their bodies, half reduced to cinders, were afterwards found in the ruins. Their ghastly end, however, made no impression on the bulk of the rioters. As an avenue separated the Custom House from the remaining dwellings on that side of the square, the spectators, estimated at from 15,000 to 20,000, hoped that the incendiaries would now be satisfied with their devastations. But this was far from their thoughts. The houses on the western side of the avenue met with precisely the same fate as those in the eastern wing. The proceedings of the miscreants were of the simplest character. A brief notice was given to the occupants to leave. If a house were abandoned and shut up, it was entered by boys through the windows in the manner already described; portable articles of value were carried off, others were thrown into the square to be picked up by confederates; and then fires were lighted in most of the rooms. The whole row was in flames about an hour after midnight; and from the thoroughly effectual way in which the villains pursued their operations, the destruction was as rapid as it was complete. Besides the property in Queen Square, some warehouses were burning in King Street; and from a bonded store, containing about fifty puncheons of rum, the ignited spirit poured into the street, forming a “hedge of fire” in front of several dwelling houses, the inmates of which were saved by the courage of a party of sailors.

Most of the older criminals were by this time in a brutal state of drunkenness, from the quantity of liquor which had been consumed during their raids. But the fury of the younger gang was insatiable, and the western side of the vast quadrangle, beginning with the Excise Office, was next vowed to ruin, a number of neighbouring warehouses fronting Prince's Street being destined to the same fate. Nearly all the mischief in this locality was committed by young boys, whose number, according to one witness, did not exceed fifty, while many respectable persons reduced the total to about thirty. Mr. Somerton wrote:- “We saw three urchins.


apparently not more than ten or eleven years of age, who, when their retreat from the attic floor of one of the houses had been cut off, and while the flames were bursting out beneath them, coolly clambered along a coping, projecting not more than three inches, and, entering an adjoining house, immediately set fire to a bedstead and furniture”. Language cannot do justice to the extraordinary scene which the city presented at this time. Almost the entire population was afoot, and in spite of a continuous drizzling rain, every eminence dominating the burning square was crowded with a terror-stricken multitude of all ages. Charles Kingsley, at that time a boy of thirteen, residing in a boarding school on St. Michaels Hill, was one of the units of this great mass, and twenty-seven years afterwards narrated to a Bristol audience his reminiscences of the spectacle. “One seemed”, he said, “to look down upon Dante's Inferno, and to hear the multitudinous moan and wail of the lost spirits surging to and fro amid that sea of fire”. After a graphic sketch of Brandon Hill, tinged with diversified tints of colour, he added:- “Higher and higher the fog was scorched and shrivelled by the fierce heat below, glowing through and through with red reflected glare till it arched itself into one vast dome of red-hot iron - fit roof for all the madness down below; and beneath it, miles away, I could see the lovely tower of Dundry, shining red”. How dazzling was the refulgence may be imagined from the statement of an inhabitant of Beachley, near Chepstow, who averred that the illumination of the sky enabled him to read a book in his garden. The most bewildering scenes, however, were in Queen Square itself. Scores of rioters in the last stages of drunkenness were rolling about in front of the burning property, or carousing in groups, or grovelling on the sward; now and then a barrel of wine or beer was brought out of one of the houses to keep up the brutal debauch; a few lads were rushing with torches or burning brands from one doomed house to another; and about one hundred and fifty older and more wily villains were engaged in gathering up the plunder extracted from the dwellings - many of them selling it openly in the square and adjoining streets, amidst the ruddy glare from the blazing buildings. Mr. Somerton saw “what appeared to be a beautiful silver teapot offered for a shilling, and feather beds, mahogany tables, and a variety of costly and valuable articles of furniture were offered at the same rate”. According to the Mirror, a handsome pianoforte taken out of the Mansion House was


bought by a gentleman for four shillings. The enormous quantity of stolen goods could not, however, be got rid of in this way, and a number of fellows might be seen busily piling their spoil upon wagons, cars, carts, and trucks, a stream of which came and went as deliberately as if they had been engaged at a gigantic auction, whilst thousands of citizens of all classes, apparently paralysed at the spectacle, looked helplessly on. How little courage would have been needed to trample down the riot, may be judged from a few facts elicited during the subsequent trials. Whilst the incendiaries were at the height of their triumph, a porter named Mills, employed by Messrs. Bartlett & Mogg, wine merchants, saw some of the gang attempting to remove the padlock from one of his masters, warehouses, when he wrested a hammer from one of the men, set his back against the door, and threatened to knock out the brains of any one who should come nigh him. The ruffians at once went off; and the warehouse was saved for the time. In another case, Martha Davis, servant to a Mr. Cross, living in Queen Square, withstood the rioters who entered the house; and though she was knocked down insensible by a blow, she on recovering seized one of the crew by the collar, and eventually drove out the whole party, shutting the door in their faces. Similar bravery was shown near Lawford's Gate prison by Mrs. Mack, wife of a publican, and by her brother, William Field. The mob which set fire to the prison had afterwards burst into Mack's house, and attempted to burn it; but Field and his sister resisted them so stoutly that Mr. Justice Taunton, who tried three of the criminals at Gloucester, declared that if twenty men had acted like Field, the riots would have been suppressed.

It is now time to return to the doings of the authorities. As already stated, the troops had been ordered to their quarters, and Colonel Brereton had gone to bed. No evidence is forthcoming as to what had become of the aldermen. The mayor, though exhausted from want of rest, declined to leave the city, but had some difficulty in obtaining shelter, being refused admission at the house of Mr. Sheriff Lax, in Park Street, by the servants left in charge (the family, like many others, had fled from the city), whilst he was virtually turned out of that of Mr. Granger, a surgeon. He at last found refuge at Mr. Daniel Fripp's, in Berkeley Square, whence a letter was sent to Colonel Brereton, notifying where he was to be found. About two o'clock on Monday morning, Mr. Samuel Goldney, surgeon, a relative of one of the aldermen,


was in Queen Square, and satisfied himself, as he afterwards deposed, that the actual number of rioters was only between fifty and a hundred, and that a single rigorous effort would put an end to the havoc. He accordingly went to the cavalry stables, where he found Cornet Kelson eager to act if he could obtain a proper order to that effect. Mr. Goldney then proceeded to Mr. Fripp's, where, after great hesitation, that gentleman admitted him, and heard his report, which he conveyed to the mayor. The latter thereupon wrote a note, bearing the vague address, “Bristol, 3 o'clock, Monday morning” requiring the officer in command of the troops to use the most vigorous measures to suppress the riot. Mr. Fripp, in delivering this missive to Mr. Goldney, remarked, “You are particularly requested not to say where the mayor is”. The letter was taken to Leigh's stables, and delivered to Captain Warrington, who was technically in command of the dragoons during Colonel Brereton's absence. The captain at first declined to open the letter, on the ground that it was not directed to him, but ultimately consented to do so. He then said that his superior officer would return in two or three hours, and that, although willing to turn out the troops on the receipt of proper orders, he would not move except in company with a magistrate. Mr. Goldney made no reply, as he did not know where an alderman was to be found, and was unwilling to mention the whereabouts of the mayor. Through this unfortunate error of judgment on the part of Captain Warrington, which was the ruin of his professional career, the rioters remained unchecked for nearly two hours longer, during which the devastation was greatly extended. About four o'clock, Mr. Alderman Camplin found his way to Captain Warrington, and requested the troops to be brought out; but the captain, though expressing a desire to act, would not give orders until he had seen Colonel Brereton. He and the alderman, however, roused up the colonel at his lodgings in Unity Street; and although the commanding officer still protested that a few jaded troops could do no good against such a mob, he was at last prevailed upon to order out the dragoons, who arrived at the scene of ruin between five and six o'clock.

At this time, a large warehouse in Prince's Street was in flames, the whole of the western side of Queen Square - excepting two dwellings which the rioters were pillaging[39] -


was burnt or burning; and an attack had just commenced against the corner house on the southern side, which had been sentenced to the same fate as the northern and western facades. Tbe dragoons had begun to patrol the square, as before, when Major Mackworth arrived. “It immediately struck me”, be afterwards wrote, “that if this house were fired, the shipping would soon be in a blaze, and nearly the whole city must inevitably be burned. It was no longer time to consider numbers or await magistrates' orders. I called out 'Colonel Brereton, we must instantly charge', and without waiting for his answer (he could not but approve), I called out, 'Charge, men, and charge home'. The troops obeyed with the utmost alacrity. Colonel Brereton charging with great spirit at their head. . . . Numbers were cut down and ridden over; some were driven into the burning houses, out of which they were never seen to return; and our dragoons, after sabring all they could come at in the square, collected and formed, and then charged down Prince's Street, and again returned to the square, riding at the miserable mob in all directions; about 120 or 130 of the incendiaries were killed and wounded here”. In the meantime a party of public-spirited citizens, who had gradually collected (amongst whom Mr. B. Ralph was again prominent), offered themselves to Colonel Brereton, who readily accepted their services. They first entered the two unburned houses on the western side, from which they dislodged the plunderers by main force, one of the gang having his neck dislocated, while others were cut down by the soldiers outside. Strengthened by a few volunteers, the salvage party advanced to the house of ex-Sheriff Claxton, at the west end of the south side, which was being stripped by the rioters in the usual manner, prior to being set on fire. As a further evidence of the astonishing weakness of the horde that had perpetrated so much ruin, it may be stated that the band found wrecking this house, numbered only sixteen persons, of whom five were women and young boys. After a smart conflict, during which Mr. Henry Smith, solicitor, received two stabs, while Mr. Claxton's negro servant threw one of the thieves clean out of an upstairs window, the villanous crew were driven off, and the fires they had kindled in three rooms extinguished. With the pertinacity they bad displayed throughout, however, the rioters, though repeatedly charged by the dragoons, retreated into the little courts railed off in front of the houses; and about half past six o'clock about fifty ruffians actually attempted to renew their work; but the armed force, slender


as it was (21 men), prevented further acts of violence. Major Mackworth, moreover, had already galloped off to Keynsham, bearing Colonel Brereton's order for the return of the 14th Hussars, and these troops were joined in trotting back by about fourteen of the Bedminster Yeomanry - whose “discretion” throughout the crisis excited some uncomplimentary, criticism. [It was stated in a newspaper, that they had been for some time shut up in the riding-house in Portwall Lane, to keep them out of harm's way.]

Before the hussars reached Bristol, effectual help had arrived from another quarter. Major Beckwith, commanding a portion of the same regiment stationed at Gloucester, had hurried from that city on receiving a demand for assistance, and reached the Council House about seven o'clock, an hour and a half in advance of his troops. He was received by the mayor, three or four aldermen, and the town clerk; and his description of the civic authorities, afterwards given on oath, is deserving of record. They appeared, he said, bewildered and stupified with terror, the mayor being the most collected of the party. Having requested that one or two magistrates would accompany him on horseback, they individually and positively refused to do so. “One of them stated it would make him unpopular; another, that it would cause his shipping to be destroyed; another, his property. They also informed me that none of them knew how to ride on horseback, except one gentleman, and they pointed to the tall alderman [A.] Hilhouse. Mr. Hilhouse said he had not been on horseback for eighteen years, and he would hold anybody responsible who said a second time that he could ride”. [Major Beckwith subsequently stated that he had mistaken the identity of the alderman who used these expressions. A contemporary writer, in defending the Corporation, alleged that at ordinary times most of the aldermen could be seen riding into the city every morning.] The major having demanded written authority sanctioning any steps he might take, the required document was signed by the mayor. He then went to Queen Square to have an interview with Colonel Brereton, and, expressing his astonishment at the scene before him, he asked what had become of the 14th Hussars. Colonel Brereton said that they had been sent away, but were about to return; that the magistrates would not authorise him to use force; that he had too few men to put down the tumult; and that he should go to his lodgings to dress, which he incontinently did. Major Beckwith had a further conversation with him pending the arrival


of the squadron from Gloucester; and it may be presumed from the major's subsequent acts that he resolved, in spite of his inferior rank, to take his own measures for suppressing the riot, regardless of the opinion of his superior officer. Colonel Brereton calmly submitted to this military offence, contenting himself with declaring that Major Beckwith must take the whole responsibility. Just as the troops from Gloucester reached the city, a report was received that the cellars of the bishop's palace were being again pillaged; but the charges of the fresh troops, which were made wherever the rabble collected, and in which Colonel Brereton again took part, brought the atrocious disorders to an end in less than two hours.

Unhappily order was not restored without much bloodshed. Major Mackworth stated that he saw “at least 250 rioters killed or wounded” in the concluding charges. And, as is usual in collisions of this kind, several innocent pedestrians, unexpectedly encountering the troops, were grievously injured. The officers of the public hospitals recorded a total of twelve deaths arising from the riots - four from shots or sword cuts, six from burns, and two from excessive drinking. The wounded under treatment numbered 96, of whom 59 were injured by the troops, and 87 from various other causes. It was known, however, that these figures far from represented the aggregate casualties, either fatal or otherwise. Some of the mortally injured were not taken to the hospitals, and some bodies, it was suspected, were secretly thrown into the Avon. Probably at least a dozen rioters were burnt to ashes in the destroyed houses. The relics of five or six others were dug out of the ruins. They were not corpses, said Mr. Kingsley, but “corpse fragments”, and he added, “there was one charred fragment, with a scrap of old red petticoat adhering to it, which I never forgot”. (One man was disinterred alive, but had an arm entirely burned off.) A great number injured in the charges of the troops, again, were concealed by their friends, through fear of recognition if they were removed to the infirmary. There is every reason to believe, however, that Mr. Eagles' assertion, that five hundred of the rioters paid for their crimes with their lives, is a ridiculous exaggeration. In addition to the hussars from Keynsham, some troops of the North Somerset Yeomanry from Frome, Wincanton, and other places soon after arrived, and the magistrates, reassembled at the Council House, resolved on calling out the posse comitatus, and appointed a number of deputy sheriffs, amongst them Mr.


Herapath, whose proffered assistance of the members of the Political Union was at last welcomed. By these measures upwards of 4,000 citizens were soon embodied, wearing a strip of white calico round the right arm as a distinguishing badge. In a few hours the streets were deserted except by the guardians of the peace, while the ringleaders of disorder, already dreading discovery, hid themselves in obscure dens - one of the worst of the ruffians, however, having the audacity to assume the badge of a constable, which he was wearing when arrested.

The restoration of order had not come a moment too soon. The news of the devastation had spread far and wide, and all the evil characters of the western counties were flocking to the city to share in its plunder. The lower labouring class in the suburbs had already become demoralised. On the night of Sunday, when the city was illuminated by the gigantic fires in Queen Square (which were seen for forty miles around), gangs of low ruffians attacked and entered the public houses in almost every part of the town, demanding unlimited supplies of liquor with horrible menaces, recklessly breaking open barrels and wasting more than they consumed. To say nothing of many such outrages in the heart of the city, Mr. Somerton stated that there was scarcely a tavern from Queen Square to Easton that was not more or less ravaged. “In Wine Street”, he added, “the houses of respectable tradesmen were visited, and money was demanded under threats of murdering the owners in case of refusal; and in some instances - such was the terror in which the wretches were held - handfuls of silver coin were thrown to them from the upper windows”. After many of the rioters had fled into the country in consequence of the charges of the hussars, news was received that they were plundering houses near St. George's, and cavalry had to be sent there before they would disperse. A despatch had been previously sent to Bath for military aid; but the populace of that city forthwith broke into disturbance, and did so much damage at one of the hotels[40] that it was deemed prudent to retain the troops. Again, when two or three companies of infantry sent from Cardiff were about to embark in a steamer at


Newport, a mob in sympathy with the Bristol rioters attempted to cut the boat adrift, and even threatened a regular attack on the troops. These soldiers (for whom no accommodation had been provided in Bristol,[41] and who took shelter in the Guildhall and the White Lion dining-room) had to be sent back to Wales two or three days later, owing to an apprehension of riots at Merthyr Tydvil, where some of the Bristol fugitives were reported to have fled. Such facts suffice to show the widespread peril of the crisis, and the urgent need of the vigour which was so tardily displayed. Until the arrival of a large body of troops, including artillery, which were promptly despatched by the military authorities, watch and ward were kept by the special constables, the parish churches being lighted up nightly for use as headquarters for each district. Even so late as the 5th November it was deemed advisable to close the markets at six o'clock; though, from the co-operation of all supporters of order, danger had then disappeared.

With the return of security came arrangements for detecting the ringleaders, and for recovering as much of the stolen property as could be traced; and extraordinary were the results of the investigation that followed. Mr. John Mills, editor of the Bristol Gazette, a man thoroughly acquainted with all classes of the population, stated in his journal that the great bulk of the rioters had sprung from the Irish colonies located in the slums of the city; and his assertion was confirmed by those engaged as searchers. In Marsh Street, the denizens of which were nearly all Irish, an almost incredible quantity of stolen property was discovered, many of the houses being crammed with goods. Many cartloads were collected in Lewin's Mead; two loads were taken out of a dwelling in Host Street; and still larger stores of booty came to light in the low alleys in St. James's, the Pithay, the Dings, Baptist Mills, Bedminster, and Kingswood. The aggregate is said to have loaded forty wagons, and occupied so much space that the parish churches were opened for its reception, the quadrangle of the Exchange being also full of recovered property of every kind, piled up in heaps several feet high. Many stratagems for secreting their prey, or for getting rid of it when discovery became threatening, were resorted to by the freebooters. Some property was found


buried in back yards, laid upon roofs, and lodged in water cisterns and pigsties. In other houses, the constables found fragments of valuable furniture burning in the grates, while occasionally the thieves divested themselves of their ill-gotten booty by throwing it into the Float or the Avon.

One recovery will long be memorable, the article saved - a massive sixteenth century silver salver - forming an interesting item in the collection of civic plate. The salver, accidentally forgotten when the rest of the plate was removed from the Mansion House, was purloined by a rioter named Ives, who cut it into no less than 169 pieces. Supposing its identification would thus be impossible, Ives offered a portion of it for sale to Mr. Williams, a silversmith, who, suspecting a robbery, asked to see the remainder before making a purchase. Next day, when Ives brought the rest of his spoil, he was captured, and was soon after sentenced to fourteen years, transportation. The whole of the salver was recovered save two minute fragments, and by Mr. Williams's ingenuity it was so successfully riveted together that its original beauty remains intact, while it has acquired an additional historic value.[42] Of the valuable cathedral library about eleven hundred volumes were rescued from marine stores, old clothes shops, etc., but only two or three works were recovered entire. The discoveries of stolen goods led to the capture of several more of the leading rioters, some of whom were caught whilst carousing on the liquors they had carried off. One Irishman, when apprehended, was wearing three shirts, three jackets, and three pairs of trousers, while an Irishwoman was indebted for the “interesting condition” in which she posed, to two silk waistcoats and a pair of blankets wrapped around her waist. About forty of the criminals who had been liberated from prison were also arrested; and in a few days the gaol, having undergone hasty repair, contained nearly 240 inmates compromised in the tumults.

In the then existing state of the city, political party spirit might well have been hushed. On the 1st December, however, a meeting took place of local anti-Reformers, Alderman Daniel presiding, when an address to the king was adopted, in which, according to the London Times, it was argued that anarchists, atheists, robbers, and incendiaries were the only allies of Lord Grey's Ministry. Shortly afterwards, a


so-called history of the riots was published, professedly from the pen of “a citizen”, but really compiled by the Rev. John Eagles, then living in a secluded village in Somerset, who reproduced the most extravagant rumours and gossip of the time. Ignoring the obligations of his sacred calling, the author boldly avowed that his object was to excite a belief that “the perpetrators of the [Reform] Bill” - in other words the Ministry - “were in connection with the perpetrators of the plot”, which “had been long in preparation, and had been carried out by hirelings from Birmingham”. The reverend censor was of course unable to produce a vestige of trustworthy evidence in support of his assertions. So far from the mob being led by hired desperadoes prepared for slaughter and destruction, it does not appear that a single rioter was possessed of a lethal weapon until he stole one during his search for plunder; and the idle tales reproduced in the book about incendiary powders, cakes, pastes, liquids, and so forth, found no support in the testimony of the witnesses at the trials, excepting that one fire-raiser was believed to have had a pocket bottle of spirits of turpentine. [It is only fair to add, that in his later years, Mr. Eagles, seemingly ashamed of the work, endeavoured to escape from the stigma which attached to its authorship.]

To the great indignation of the citizens, the Corporation proposed that the rioters should be tried before Sir Charles Wetherell; but the Government resolved on issuing a special commission directed to Lord Chief Justice Tindal, Mr. Justice Taunton, Mr. Justice Bosanquet, and the Duke of Beaufort (lord high steward of the city), ordering them to proceed with their task on the 2nd January, 1832. The recorder was indignant at being excluded from the commission, and had the courage to demand, “as a matter of right”, that his name and that of his brother aldermen should be added to the list. His request was rejected by the Government, as “simply a claim by the Corporation to sit as judges on their own cause”, and Sir Charles vented his rage at the rebuff by a characteristic outburst in the House of Commons. Due preparations were made for receiving the judges with a solemnity worthy of the occasion. The whole of the ratepayers were again sworn in as constables, a body of policemen was formed for the special protection of the judges, and detachments of troops were posted at various points in case of emergency; though, as may be supposed, there was no indication of disrespect or ill-feeling. The trials occupied twelve days, during which 102 prisoners were brought up. Of these 81


were convicted and 21 acquitted. In addition to these cases, 12 indictments were rejected by the grand jury, and on 13 others no evidence was offered. Of the criminals convicted, 5 were left for execution; sentence of death was recorded against 26, but it was commuted to transportation for life; one was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years, and 6 for seven years; while the remaining 43 suffered various terms of imprisonment with hard labour. [Four of the aldermen had the courage to take their seats on the judicial bench whilst the Lord Chief Justice passed sentence on the criminals. Their intrusion appears to have been looked upon as a notable manifestation of bad taste.] Richard Vines, one of the five capitally convicted, received a reprieve, owing to his semi-idiocy. On behalf of the others - Christopher Davis, for destroying the gaol; William Clarke, for destroying the gaol and Bridewell; and Thomas Gregory and Joseph Kayes, for destroying private houses - a petition for a commutation of the punishment was addressed to the Crown by about 10,000 citizens, including many of the highest respectability. Especial exertions were made on behalf of Davis, a man who had amassed a small competence in his former business as a carrier, but was addicted to violent language when excited by liquor. It was pleaded that he had been guilty of no act of violence, his crime consisting in cheering on the rabble by waving his hat on an umbrella, in cursing the bishops and the Corporation, and in expressing hopes of their downfall. He had, however, boasted that he had drunk some of the wine stolen from the Mansion House. Owing to the detestable jurisprudence of the age, Davis's counsel was not allowed to address the jury, and the culprit had not the ability to plead for himself. The Government resolved that the law must take its course, and the convicts were executed at midday on the 27th January, in front of the gaol, in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators. Besides the prisoners tried in Bristol, six men were convicted at Gloucester, of attacking and attempting to burn a public house and other premises near Lawford's Gate prison. Sentence of death was recorded against them, but it was commuted to transportation.

In the meantime inquiries had taken place by order of the Commander-in-chief into the conduct of the officers who had held the command of the troops during the tumults. The court-martial in the case of Lieut.-Colonel Brereton was opened on the 9th January, 1832, when a series of eleven charges was formulated against him by General Sir Charles


Dalbiac, who acted as prosecutor, and who described them as “bearing on their face every character of culpability unprecedented in the case of a British officer”. The proceedings were abruptly brought to a close, after four sittings, by the suicide of the unhappy defendant, whose mind gave way under the weight of his misfortunes. Colonel Brereton, who had been major of a West India regiment, took up his residence in Clifton some years before the riots, on being appointed Inspecting Field Officer of this recruiting district. He resided at the time of his death at Redfield house, St. George's, and is stated to have been highly esteemed by his friends and acquaintances. The trial of Captain Warrington, who commanded the troop of dragoons, followed a few days later. The chief charge against him was his refusal to instantly comply with the order of the mayor, under circumstances already narrated - a refusal which unquestionably enabled the incendiaries to greatly extend their devastations. It was proved, however, that the defendant was so ill at the time as to be almost unfit for duty. The court adjudged him guilty, and ordered him to be cashiered, but accompanied the sentence with a recommendation to mercy, on the ground that his offences were mere errors of judgment. The Crown approved the sentence, but allowed Captain Warrington to dispose of his commission.

The last prosecution was that directed against the mayor and aldermen for their conduct during the riots. Immediately after the restoration of order, the apathetic action of the magistrates was condemned by the respectable classes in the city, regardless of party - a meeting of merchants, etc., at the Commercial Rooms, and a still larger gathering at the Assembly Rooms, being practically unanimous in their expression of disapproval. (Mr. J. Mills, at the former meeting, endeavoured to apologise for the aldermen, but was stopped by general cries of “off, off”.) The parliamentary battle on the Reform Bill was, however, then raging violently, and party spirit throughout the country - furious to a degree unknown since the time of the Stewarts - speedily laid hold of the events in Bristol. As Liberals were vehement in their accusation of the local authorities, Tories began to feel themselves bound to defend the cause of the magistrates, and to throw the guilt of the havoc on the Ministry and their scheme at Reform. It was even alleged by enemies of “the Bill” that the object of the Government in prosecuting the justices was to strike at the independence of the municipalities. As the trials were fixed to take place before a jury of Berkshire


landowners, a large majority of whom were known to be anti-Reformers, the result was never in much doubt. The Corporation, however, was more than usually prodigal in making preparations to defend its incriminated members, and upwards of £3,800 were paid out of the civic treasury. The trial of Mr. Pinney began in the Court of Queen's Bench on the 25th October, 1832, and occupied seven days, the chief counsel employed being the Attorney General (Sir Thomas Denman) with the Solicitor General (Sir W. Home) for the prosecution, and Sir James Scarlett (afterwards Lord Abinger) for the defence. The summing up of the judge (Mr. Justice Littledale, in the absence of Lord Tenterden, who was seized with fatal illness during the trial) was criticised by the Liberal press as being rather a speech for the defendant than an impartial comment on the facts; but it was highly lauded by the organs of the Opposition, and was doubtless satisfactory to the jury. They not merely acquitted the defendant, but declared their opinion that circumstanced as he was, “unsupported by any adequate civil or military force, and deserted by those from whom he might reasonably have expected assistance”, the mayor “discharged his duty with zeal and personal courage”. The Government thereupon withdrew the indictments against the aldermen. Whatever might be the opinion of the Berkshire gentry, however, the ratepayers of Bristol seem to have held strong views as to the conduct of the authorities. Shortly after the riots, at parochial meetings held for the purpose, it was declared that the Corporation had forfeited the confidence of the citizens. A later generation, exempt from the party spirit of those agitated times, can have little difficulty in forming a sound opinion on the subject.

Immediately after the opening of Parliament, in December, 1831, Mr. Protheroe gave notice of his intention to introduce a Bill for altering and amending the charter of the city. The Reform question, however, then exclusively absorbed the attention both of the House of Commons and the country, and it is not improbable that the member for Bristol received a hint that the work of reforming the English corporations was under the consideration of the Government. His scheme was at all events dropped. In the meantime the Corporation, calmly ignoring its unpopularity, promoted a Bill by which it was proposed to establish a police force on the system introduced a year or two previously in London. The chief part of the cost was to be borne by the ratepayers, while the Common Council was practically to have the control of the


force. This project being scouted by the public, the authorities proposed that commissioners should be elected by the citizens for the management of the constabulary, and that a stipendiary magistrate should be appointed for the city; towards which purposes they undertook to contribute £1,500 a year providing the remainder were raised by a county rate. The matter was earnestly discussed at meetings of each parish, and delegates were appointed by those gatherings to watch the proceedings of the Common Council in the interest of the ratepayers, the renewed attempt to establish a county rate - which by law would have been assessed by the aldermen - being unanimously condemned as depriving the ratepayers of all control over their money, and as “opening an illimitable field for future taxation”. The relations of the rulers and the ruled were not improved by an announcement that the Corporation had commenced an action against the city to recover £25,000, the alleged value of the corporate property destroyed during the riots, and that the imposition of a county rate was contemplated for the purpose of rebuilding Bridewell. The ratepayers' delegates protested strongly against this policy, urging that it ought first to be shown that the civic revenue was insufficient to bear the proposed charge; but the Corporation haughtily denied the alleged liability, and refused to permit the delegates to look into the civic accounts. In answer to the demand for an abandonment of the projected county rate, the authorities availed themselves of a threadbare subtlety. The citizens knew that the magisterial bench was filled exclusively by the aldermen, and that these aldermen were supreme in the Council Chamber. But the Corporation argued that the magistrates had no control over civic affairs, and that if they thought fit to establish a county rate, the Council had no power to restrain them. The controversy was still pending when an apparently self-elected committee of influential inhabitants, nearly all of whom were closely related to members of the Council, announced that they had been allowed to examine the civic account books, and to publish a summary of receipts and expenditure. From this document it appeared that the average ordinary outlay for the seven previous years had been £18,329, against an average income of only £15,474, leaving a deficit of nearly £3,000 per annum. The publication of this statement merely increased public distrust, the ratepayers professing their inability to understand how the Corporation could guarantee a yearly contribution of £1,500 towards the cost of the proposed police, seeing that the civic income was already


unable to provide for ordinary expenditure. After further abortive negotiations, the authorities were threatened with “universal passive resistance” against the collection of the contemplated rate, and the opposition of the inhabitants became so formidable that the Bill was abandoned. Another Police Bill had been framed to carry out the views of the ratepayers. But the King's Speech at the opening of the session, after referring with regret to “the scenes of violence and outrage” that had occurred in this city, intimated the wish of the Ministry to improve the municipal police of the kingdom generally, with a view to prevent the recurrence of such commotions, and the local project was therefore withdrawn.

One important legislative scheme affecting the city became law, however, during that stormy session, namely, the Bill to provide for the losses occasioned by the riots - afterwards generally known as the Compensation Act. As originally drawn under the direction of the Common Council, it contained several clauses that were deemed objectionable by the ratepayers - a renewed attempt to insinuate powers for a county rate being especially unpopular. But through the exertions of the parochial delegates referred to in the preceding paragraph, the offensive proposals were removed, and the scheme, as it eventually passed, met with general approval, and worked to the satisfaction of all parties. Under its provisions a board of twelve commissioners, elected by the ratepayers, was empowered to make private arrangements with persons entitled to damages, thus avoiding a great amount of costly litigation. When the commissioners began their labours, no fewer than 121 actions at law had been instituted against the city, the aggregate amount of compensation demanded by the plaintiffs being nearly £150,000. Negotiations were forthwith opened with the claimants, and large reductions were soon effected. The Corporation, which had first estimated its loss at £25,000, and afterwards at about half the amount, consented to accept £5,000. For the destroyed Custom House and Excise Office the Government had put in a claim for £10,500, but ultimately relinquished its right to compensation. The private suitors, with a single exception, came to terms with the commissioners, the total sum paid in liquidation of their claims being £42,783. The exception was Dr. Gray, the bishop of the diocese. His lordship accepted an offer of £2,040 for the loss of his furniture, but was unyielding in the prosecution of his claim for the destroyed palace, the value of which was estimated by his


agents at £10,000. The case came before a jury, empannelled at Bridgwater, when a verdict was given for £6,000, but the city had to bear the heavy costs attending the trial. The net result of the commissioners' labours was to reduce the original total of the compensation claims from £150,000 to £55,824. A sum of £7,424 was, however, expended in legal charges, and £4,960 more in obtaining the Act and carrying it into operation, so that the aggregate charge was £68,208. The immediate liquidation of even the reduced burden would, nevertheless, have been almost impracticable, seeing that it would have necessitated the exaction of a tax equal to nearly ten shillings in the pound on the rateable value of the “ancient city”. On an appeal made by the commissioners, the Government proffered a loan of about £68,000, bearing interest at the rate of 2¼ per cent., repayments being made in yearly instalments of £10,000. To clear off this annual amount the Corporation of the Poor levied an additional rate of about 1s. 6d. in the pound. As will be explained hereafter, the passing of the Corporations' Reform Act in 1835, by which Clifton, St. Philip's out-parish, and other populous suburbs were placed under the new municipality, caused a modification of the above arrangement. The commissioners, whose energy and skill effected so sensible a relief to the city, had before that time concluded their labours, their final report bearing date the 11th January, 1835. Their names were: James Wood (for All Saints' Ward); Richard Jones (St. Stephen's); Robert Suple (Trinity); William Herapath (St. James's); William Watson (St. Ewen's); Thomas Carlisle (St. Maryleport); William Evans (Castle Precincts); George Jones (St. Michael's); Benjamin Ogden (St. Nicholas'); John Kerle Haberfield (Redcliff); Edward Kidd (Temple); and Thomas Sanders (St. Thomas's) . The committee of parochial delegates, who had so largely contributed to the economy and efficiency of the system adopted, dissolved in September, 1835. Their expenses, during upwards of three years, had been only about £200.

The following were the heaviest claims made against the city - those mentioned above excepted. The amounts actually paid are appended in parentheses:-

P.H. Ashworth, warehouse, etc., King Street, £1,000 (£275); Falke T. Barnard, furniture, etc., 8, Queen Square, £2,000 (£722); Jesse Barrett, house and furniture, 67, Queen Square, £1,490 (£855); Benjamin Bickley, furniture and stock, 54, Queen Square and Prince's Street, £8,500 (£2,042); Cambridge & Williams, warehouse, etc., Avenue, £1,000 (£400); J.B. & E.W. Clift, warehouse, etc.. King Street, £1,200 (£685); Cooke & Turner, stock, behind 51, Queen Square, £1,000 (£327); Thomas Crocker, furniture, 52, Queen


Square, £1,100 (£52); Richard T. Coombe, houses, 6 and 7, Queen Square, and warehouse behind, £2,900 (£2,050); Daniel & Haythorne, house, 51, Queen Square, lofte, etc., £1,600 (£950); Fryer, Oosse & Pack, oil in warehouses. Prince's Street, £1,000 (£793); Joseph S. Fry A Co., cocoa in warehouse, Prince's Street, £6,900 (£2,400); William Gibbons, houses, 54, Queen Square, 4, Prince's Street, and warehouses, £4,000 (£1,752); Martha Harford, house, Excise Avenue, and furniture £1,600 (£908); William Humphries, furniture in gaol, £1,300 (£900); James Johnson, warehouses. King Street, etc., £1,500 (£963); Maria Jones, house, 50, Queen Square, £1,600 (£930); Richard Lambert, two houses, 45, Queen Square, £1.150 (£1,005); Langley & Arding, share in 43, 44, 52, Queen Square, and 9, Prince's Street, £1,700 (£660); Joseph Lax, spirits, etc., in warehouses. King Street, etc., £3,000 (£387); Philip John Miles, house and warehouse, 61, Queen Square, wine, etc., £3,500 (£1,312); Mogg & Bartlett, wine, etc., in warehouse. Avenue, £1,000 (£493); John Morgan, house and warehouse, 8, Queen Square, £1,690 (£1,000); Charles Pinney, china, wine, etc.. Mansion House, £2,000 (£714); James Room, furniture and books, 61, Queen Square, £3,000 (£1,172); Henry Burnley, share of house and furniture, 46, Queen Square, £1,779 (£605); Joseph Richardson, furniture, 45, Queen Square, £2,000 (£381); Henry B. Smith, houses and furniture, 59 and 60, Queen Square, £4,649 (£2,938); William G. Stephens, furniture, 53, Queen Square, £1,600 (£309); Thomas Sheppard, furniture, 5, Queen Square, £1,100 (£712); William Strong, furniture, 63, Queen Square, £2,000 (£336); Robert Thomas, shares in 43, 44, 52, Queen Square, and 9, Prince's Street, £1,700 (£285); M.M.J. & E. Vigor, furniture, 6, Queen Square, £1,000 (£450); Thomas Webb & Co., wines, spirits, etc., 4, Queen Square, £2,000 (£652); George Worrall, house, 5, Queen Square, £2,000 (£1,016); John Tilladam, house, 4, Queen Square, £1,000 (abated by plaintiff's death); Samuel Webb, houses, 47 and 48, Queen Square £1,800 (abated by plaintiffs death). The report to which these statistics are appended states that the law prevented claimants from receiving any compensation for articles stolen, when they were carried off and destroyed elsewhere, though these reductions pressed with great hardship on many sufferers. In other cases, abatements were caused by the remission of excise duty on spirits, etc., and it is added: “In justice to the plaintiffs generally, the commissioners expressly state that blame is not imputable to them for the discrepancy between the sums claimed and those accepted”.

To the great indignation of many citizens, the Common Council resolved, soon after the riots, upon the establishment of a new Mansion House, for keeping up the convivialities and entertainments previously in vogue. Notwithstanding the financial distress of the city, and the recently avowed embarrassment of the civic treasury, the house in Great George Street already referred to [see page 134], was fitted up and furnished at a heavy cost. [After the reconstruction of the corporate body under the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the new Mansion House was closed, and the furniture and stock of wine were sold by auction, producing £2,232.] Some attempts at retrenchment were, however, made. At a meeting of the Common Council, in December, 1831, the customary motion to present a butt or pipe of wine to the lord high steward, and another to the members for the city, was negatived, but Sir Charles Wetherell was voted his annual hogshead. In June, 1833, the salary of the mayor was reduced from £2,000 to £1,604, his worship being recommended


to curtail the number of his banquets. In 1835, however, a vote of £350, in addition to the usual sum of £400, was passed to Mr. J.N. Franklyn, who had served the office of sheriff a second time. The extra allowance granted to Mr. T. Hassall in 1827, on the same ground, was only £125. Amongst the very numerous items of civic expenditure caused by the riots may be noticed the following: Sundry expenses to April 11, 1832, £1,188, 8s. 11d.; Tolzey, keeper, for entertaining magistrates during the disturbances, £300; providing accommodation for troops at Armoury, wool hall, warehouse in Thomas Street, and premises [for an hospital] in Great Gardens, rent, gas, etc., £2,293. [The troops remained in these temporary barracks until about September, 1833. The Government refunded £326 8s. 11d. of the above amount.] Special constables, £437 15s.; city solicitor's expenses, £734; subscriptions on behalf of sufferers, whose losses were £30 or under, £500; expenses in connection with the trial of the mayor, £3,871 15s. 10d.; repairing pictures, £59 12s.; Mr. Williams, for repairing the silver salver, £55; law proceedings against inhabitants for compensation, £581.

On December 31, 1831, the old mill on the left bank of the Avon, nearly opposite to the Hotwell House, was destroyed by fire. The building was used in 1761 as a lead smelting-house, but was converted at a later date into a cotton mill, and afterwards to other purposes.

Upon the passing of the Reform Bill, in June, 1832, its local supporters resolved upon a “grand demonstration” to celebrate their triumph. Accordingly, on the 18th June, many thousands of tradesmen and working-men belonging to the city, reinforced by large contingents from St. George's, Bitton, and other districts, assembled at Lawford's Gate, and marched in procession through the principal streets, the artisans of each trade displaying models, emblems, etc., illustrative of their respective crafts, while music and banners lent further animation to the display. The date had probably been fixed upon on account of its being the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo - the yearly return of which was then always hailed with bell ringing. The clergy of the city, however, had been unanimously hostile to the Reform Bill; and they won a small victory over their political opponents by locking up the belfries. On the 14th August the leading Reformers provided a dinner for 5,500 working-men on Brandon Hill. Unfortunately for the success of this affair, a rough mob assembled round the tables and seized upon


the viands, causing great tumult and confusion. Some of the fireworks prepared for the evening were also stolen or destroyed.

The Reform Act effected important changes in the city and its constituent body. The boundaries of the borough were largely extended, the parish of Clifton, the district of the out-parishes of St. James and St. Paul, the out-parish of St. Philip, and parts of the parishes of Bedminster and Westbury, - embracing an aggregate population of about 50,000, - being added to the “ancient city”. Up to this time the franchise had been enjoyed exclusively by freeholders and freemen, whose right to vote was not impaired by non-residence. Those classes retained their privilege, so far as concerned persons living in, or within seven miles of, the city; and to them were joined all men rated for and occupying premises of the yearly value of £10. The immediate effect of the extensions was less than modern readers might suppose, the population of the suburban parishes being then insignificant as compared with the central mass. Already, however, there was a tendency on the part of both rich and poor to remove to the outlying districts; and before the Reform Act had attained its jubilee, the population of the added parishes was about three times greater than that of the old borough. The register of electors for 1882 contained the names of 5,301 freemen, 862 freeholders, and 4,215 householders.

The passing of the Reform Act necessarily caused a fresh appeal to the constituencies, and a general election took place in December. The victory of the united Liberal party at the previous contest had been followed by a re-opening of the old division in reference to the slavery question. Mr. Baillie at first proposed to retire into private life; but the West India Whigs insisted on his candidature. The anti-slavery Liberals thereupon nominated, in conjunction with Mr. Edward Protheroe, junr. (the former member), Mr. John Williams, an eminent barrister who soon afterwards was raised to the bench, both those gentlemen being ardent advocates of slave emancipation. The Tories found a champion in Sir Richard R. Vyvyan, a Cornish baronet, who had manifested his uncompromising hostility to change by moving the rejection of the Reform Bill. Ultimately a coalition was formed between the supporters of Vyvyan and Baillie. The poll at the close stood as follows: Sir R.R. Vyvyan, 8,695; Mr. Balllie, 3,l60; Mr. Protheroe, 8,028; Mr. Williams, 2,789. The result was alleged to have been due to unjustifiable


means. The Bristol Mercury of the following week published a view of a house (No. 8, King Street) at which bribes were said to have been distributed wholesale to the poorer classes of voters after the poll; whereupon it was jubilantly retorted in the Bristol Journal that, according to a decision of the Court of King's Bench, the giving of money to electors after they had voted did not constitute bribery. A number of gentlemen who petitioned against the return undertook to prove that upwards of a thousand electors were paid by the committees of the successful candidates for attendance at the nomination proceedings, and that more than twelve hundred voters received tickets at the “bribery box” in King Street, entitling them to 23s. each after polling for Vyvyan and Baillie. A list was also given of twenty-six public houses at which liquor was distributed gratis for some weeks previous to the contest. It was further asserted that a so-called charity, called the Conservative Operatives' Association, had enrolled 1,200 freemen by promising them, in return for their votes, relief when sick or out of work, and 71b. per head of “blue beef” at Christmas, the funds being provided by certain “honorary” members, whose names remained a secret. No proof, however, was forthcoming that the successful candidates had been privy to corruption, and the return was upheld by a committee of the House of Commons. Mr. Richard Hart Davis, who had refused to be nominated at this election, was soon afterwards presented by his admirers with a service of plate valued at £750.

Indian cholera, which made its way to this country for the first time in 1831, by way of the northern coal ports, gradually spread over the island, to the intense terror of the people, and reached Bristol in the following summer. The first case was reported to have occurred on the 11th July, in Greyhound Court, near the Stone Bridge, a region then reeking with sewage and filth, and rarely free from epidemics. As already stated, the malady worked deadly havoc in the overcrowded wards of St. Peter's poor-house [see p.189]. The numerous burials in the neighbouring churchyard of St. Philip's appear to have driven many of the poor of the locality out of their senses. A delusion became prevalent that the authorities were burying paupers alive; and on one occasion a mob broke into the burial ground, and tore up some of the recently interred bodies. A similar frantic occurrence took place in Temple churchyard, where thirty-one victims of the disease were buried in a single day. Owing to the crowded state of the parochial cemeteries, a piece of


ground was inclosed near the Cattle Market, and those who afterwards died at St. Peter's Hospital were removed there by water, so that the interments might escape public notice. The disease disappeared in October, when there had been 1,521 cases; and 584 deaths. Clifton was almost wholly deserted by the wealthier class of residents during the epidemic. To prevent the influx of strangers, St. James's fair was forbidden to be held this year by an Order in Council. The precaution did not prevent the disease from penetrating into the rural districts, in some of which it was comparatively more fatal than in Bristol. At the village of Paulton, for instance, there were no less than 229 cases in sixteen days, and forty deaths in eight days.

The Corporation resolved during the autumn upon establishing a body of twelve day constables or policemen, after the London model. The wages of the men were fixed at 15s. weekly per head, so that the total annual charge, irrespective of clothings amounted to the modest sum of £468. The night watching continued in the hands of the inefficient old “Charleys”.

Owing to the great abuses existing in the administration of the poor rates, the Government appointed a Commission to inquire into the subject, and sub-commissioners were directed to make local investigations in various districts. One of those gentlemen, the Rev. H. Bishop, visited Gloucestershire and Bristol, and a few extracts may be given from his report, written on the 22nd September 1832. With respect to Kingswood, it was stated that the miners seldom earned 12s. a week. Boys of ten or eleven years earned 4d. to 6d. a day. “During the summer months women may earn above ground 10d. a day; girls from 6d. to 8d.” Agricultural wages fluctuated between 8s. and 12s. a week. In Clifton the administration of poor relief was described as profuse and corrupt. “A man who gains 10s. or even 20s. a week will come, after a few days' indisposition, for relief, and obtains it. . . . The overseers and select vestrymen are very frequently tradesmen enjoying the custom of those who have been lavishly assisted. . . . Those paupers who are in the employment of the parish are paid at a public house, and are expected to promote the 'good of the house' by expending in liquor a portion of their parish earnings. . . Above the age of fifty the paupers claim permanent relief, which is regarded as a sort of pension, so certain that it may be sold or mortgaged. It is no uncommon thing for apprentices to be receiving relief for three or four children”. The writer


goes on to detail particular instances of indiscriminate and scandalous waste in the administration of parochial and charitable funds. Abuses also extensively prevailed in Bedminster. The parish contained 14,000 persons, but the rates were made to fall on only 831 householders, and many of these escaped; “the whole weight of local taxation is thrown upon about 330 individuals”. Mr. Bishop mentions incidentally that Bristol was then taxed £1,200 a year for paying the passage money of Irish vagrants sent back to their own country, and this charge, he added, did not nearly represent the whole expense which those paupers entailed upon the citizens.

One of the earliest ameliorative measures proposed by Lord Grey's Ministry to the reformed House of Commons was a Bill for the abolition of slavery in the English colonies. Mr. Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby) explained the scheme on the 14th May, 1833, its chief features being that the slaves should undergo a period of apprenticeship, and that the planters should be granted, a loan of £15,000,000 to provide against the loss they might sustain at the outset. To the latter proposal the slave-holding interest in Bristol, as elsewhere, refused to listen; and as the result of the pressure brought to bear on the Ministry, the loan was converted into a gift, and was ultimately raised to £20,000,000. The Act came into force in the colonies on the 1st August, 1834. According to a parliamentary return issued in 1838, the principal firms and persons in this district owning slaves received compensation as follows: Messrs. Thos. & John Daniel, £55,178; Messrs. H.J.D.E. Baillie & G.H. Ames, £23,024; Sir C. Codrington, Bart., £29,867; Mr. James E. Baillie, £12,968; Mr. Philip John Miles, £9,076; Mr. James Cunningham, £12,357; Mr. Richard Bright, £8,092; Mr. Robert Bright, £3,820; Messrs. Charles Pinney & E. Case, £3,572. The list does not include payments under £8,000. The Bristol Times of April 8, 1854, stated that Messrs. Daniel & Sons, who had a house in London as well as in Bristol, “obtained not much less than a quarter of a million” in compensation for their slaves.

By this time the country had recovered from the effects of the great panic of 1825-6, while the absurd alarm created amongst the moneyed classes by the concession of the franchise to the trading community had largely passed away. With the return of confidence came a revival of the railway projects which had come to grief seven years before. About the close of 1832, when the shares of the Liverpool and


Manchester railway were selling at double, and those of the Stockton and Darlington line at treble, their original cost, a few public-spirited Bristolians resolved upon making a renewed effort for the construction of a railway to London. There is a tradition that the Great Western Company was projected in a small office in Temple Backs. However that may be, it is certain that Messrs. George Jones, John Harford, T.R. Guppy, and William Tothill were the most energetic in promoting the undertaking. Animated by their appeals, in January, 1833, the Corporation, the Merchant Venturers' Society, the Dock Company, and the Bristol and Gloucestershire railway company severally appointed three gentlemen, empowering them to inquire into the best mode of procedure, and furnishing them with funds for the purpose. This committee[43] directed Mr. J.K. Brunel and Mr. Townsend to make a survey of the country, and in a few months elaborate plans were produced by the two engineers, who estimated the cost of the undertaking at the modest sum of £2,805,000. On the 30th July a meeting was held in the Guildhall to evoke the sympathy of the citizens. The promoters urged that if the advantages of cheapness and speed which railways offered should only double the existing carriage traffic the line would yield a clear yearly profit of about 14 per cent. Though the response of the public does not appear to have been very enthusiastic, the company was soon after formed, the title of “Great Western” being assumed in the following September. One half of the directors were nominated by London capitalists; the other moiety were Bristolians, whose names and subscriptions were as follows: Robert Bright, £25,900; John Cave, £17,900; Henry Bush, £8,000; C.B. Fripp, £15,500; George Jones, £20,000; Peter Maze, £23,000; Fred. Bicketts, £10,000; William Tothill, £14,000; John Vining, £11,500; Charles L. Walker, £6,000; George Gibbs, £14,000; Thomaa R. Guppy, £14,900; John Harford, £11,900; Willlam S. Jacques, £12,000; James Lean, £1,000; Nicholas Bush, £11,900. A Bill authorising the construction of two sections of the line - from London (where the station was originally fixed at Vauxhall and afterwards at Brompton)


to Reading, and from Bristol to Bath - was laid before Parliament in 1834. Railway projects, however, were exceedingly unpopular amongst the aristocracy and landed gentry. Lord Eldon's last speech and vote in the Upper House were against what he called “the dangerous invention of railways”, and the old Tory chief found many of kindred views amongst his hearers. The country squire, again, dreaded danger to his game, farmers were afraid that the smoke of the locomotives would injure the wool of their sheep, and breeders of horses predicted that they would be ruined if coaches and posting carriages were superseded. In addition to the rural clamour against railways generally, the Great Western Bill was resisted by the canal companies and turnpike trusts of the district, and encountered formidable opposition from the authorities of Eton College, who alleged that the line would excite revolutionary ideas in the minds of the schoolboys. After an obstinate struggle of fifty-seven days in committee, the Bill passed the House of Commons by a small majority, but it was rejected in the Lords by 47 votes against 30. Public opinion, however, became rapidly converted to the arguments in favour of the new mode of travelling, and the company's second Bill, authorising the construction of the trunk line and branches to Bradford and Trowbridge, with some modifications to soothe Eton and squirearchal susceptibilities, received the royal assent in August, 1885. A competing scheme, which proposed a railway from Bath to Basing, was rejected; and an attempt made in the House of Commons by Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Miles to prevent Great Western trains from running on Sundays was defeated by a large majority. The parliamentary campaign during the two years cost the company £90,000. The line, as sanctioned by the legislature, was to join the London and Birmingham railway near Acton, whence the trains were to run to the station of the latter undertaking in Euston Square, London; but the Great Western board subsequently resolved on having an independent terminus at Paddington, for which powers were obtained in the session of 1837. The land for the station at Bristol was purchased of the Corporation for £12,000. Operations having been vigorously prosecuted at both ends of the system, the section from London to Maidenhead was opened in May, 1838, and that from Bristol to Bath on the 3rd July following. Intermediate sections were completed from time to time, and finally, on the 30th January, 1841, the line was opened throughout, and the coaches, which had formed so striking a feature both of town and country


life, disappeared. (In October, 1837, there were twenty-two coaches running daily between Bristol and London, and twenty-seven others passed between this city and Bath every twenty-four hours.) One coach, however, obstinately held its ground in spite of the railway, continuing to carry passengers from and to London and Bristol, at the rate of a penny per mile, until October, 1843. Perhaps the wretched accommodation afforded on the new line to second and third class passengers may have partially accounted for this sustained opposition. For several years the only trains carrying third class passengers from Bristol started at four o'clock in the morning and nine o'clock at night, offering the travellers - who were wholly unprotected from the weather - an alternative of miseries. What is more surprising, the second class carriages, down to May, 1845, were also open to the elements, both as regards roof and sides, and according to a statement in a contemporary newspaper, were “dangerous not only to health but to life”. In the year 1844, to the intense wrath of the railway interest. Parliament insisted on covered carriages being provided for third class travellers at the rate of a penny per mile; but the boards revenged themselves by inventing a “horse-box” for the obnoxious caste, and by reducing the speed of the cheap trains to twelve miles an hour. The first of these trains on the Great Western line started on the 1st November, 1844, the journey from Bristol to London being timed at nine hours and a half.[44] A history of the Great Western Railway is not within the province of this work, but a few facts concerning an enterprise so closely connected with the city may not be out of place. The time has long passed away since there was any difference of opinion as to the deplorable error of the original board in neglecting the sober-minded, practical, and economical engineers of the North, already deservedly famous, and in preferring to them an inexperienced theorist, enamoured of novelty, prone to seek for difficulties rather than to evade them, and utterly indifferent as to the outlay which his recklessness entailed upon his employers. The evil consequences of his pet crotchet, the “broad gauge” system, on the commerce of Bristol will have to be noticed hereafter. For the present it will suffice to show the fallaciousness of Mr.


Brunel's estimates. The original share capital was fixed by his advice at £2,500,000. Before the line to London was completed, the directors had to ask for votes bringing up the expenditure to £6,300,000, which did not include any part of the outlay for the permanent station at Paddington. In 1844 this vast sum was increased to £8,160,000, inclusive of loans. As may be suspected from the figures, the directors were even more imprudent than was their subordinate. For several successive years there seemed to be no limit to their aggressive designs. In 1845 they obtained Acts for making no less than 574 miles of new railways; and in November, 1847, their notices of intended applications for Acts in the following session are said to have numbered forty-seven. That the war against rival companies - possibly quite as pugnacious - was carried on for many years with unflagging pertinacity is sufficiently proved by the fact that between 1851 and 1855 alone the board spent an aggregate sum of £188,421 in legal and parliamentary expenses. Nor was this the worst. The lines constructed in the neighbourhood of Oxford, Birmingham, Dudley, etc., in rivalry with the North-Western Company, and consequently unprofitable, cost £6,600,000, while the unfruitful Shropshire lines, competing with the same undertaking, required an additional capital of £3,300,000. In the meantime, Bristol proprietors complained that an undertaking intended to develop the trade and industry of their own city and district was recklessly squandering its resources in the construction of vast works at Plymouth, Milford Haven, and Birkenhead. The consequences of this policy were such as might have been expected. In its early days the Great Western board was able to declare a dividend at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum, and the shares, when only £80 were paid up, were quoted in the market at 236. On the other hand, the directors' report for the first six months of 1858 recommended that no dividend should be declared. The subsequent meeting at Bristol (the last held in the city, whose moiety of directors had already vanished) was of a stormy character, the exasperation of the shareholders being increased by the fact that during the previous half year, when the dividend was only 5s. per share, the board had carried a grant of £5,000 to the secretary, Mr. Saunders, who had previously received a similar present, though his salary was £2,500 a year. In July, 1862, the accounts showed that the net profits of the previous six months had been only £992, but a reserve brought forward produced a dividend of 5s. per cent. Affairs improved in the following years; but for


the last half of 1866 the dividend was only 10s. per cent. The embarrassment, it transpired, arose from a floating debt of about £1,250,000, which the board had allowed to grow up, and upon which the interest for the first half of the year had averaged £8 7s. per cent. per annum. The directors appealed to the Government and to the Bank of England for the loan of a million to clear off pressing obligations, but the relief was refused. An appeal was then vainly made to the shareholders to take up a six per cent. stocky to prevent the company from being thrown into liquidation; and as a last resource, the board issued six per cent. bonds for the amount of preferential interest then due. These were offered in the Stock Exchange at the rate of 16s. in the pound, the shares of the company being quoted for a considerable period at 40, and sometimes lower - a memorable example of the results of reckless management on a substantial and once prosperous concern. Happily the lesson was not wasted on the board, and the company have since enjoyed a career of continuous prosperity. As has been already stated, the original capital was under three millions; it is now [1887] upwards of seventy-six millions. The line first sanctioned by Parliament was 114 miles in length; the board have now upwards of 2,360 miles under their control, while the employés, a mere handful at the outset, now number little short of 30,000.

The conflict which began in 1828 between the mercantile interest of the city and the Corporation, in reference to the heavy charges imposed by the latter on the commerce of the port, has been recorded in a previous page. It will be remembered that after a struggle of two years, the Common Council had to be content with obtaining an Act authorising it to reduce the civic dues, the clause conferring a parliamentary title on those imposts being struck out in the House of Commons at the instance of the Chamber of Commerce. The concessions made under this statute proved insufficient to bring back the trade which had been blindly driven away; and in the hope of securing a larger measure of relief, Mr. Henry Bush, one of the leaders of local Toryism, supported by many influential firms, refused to pay the town dues, thus challenging the Corporation to prove their legality in a court of law. The case was heard before Lord Chief Justice Tenterden, in the Court of King's Bench, in July, 1828. The judge, who had a superstitious reverence for privilege and prerogative, was alleged by the mercantile party to have acted throughout the hearing rather as a counsel for the Corporation than as


an impartial expounder of the law. He summed up, according to the newspaper reporter, “decidedly in favour” of the plaintiffs; and the jury, submitting to his influence, gave the verdict he desired. But although the Common Council exulted over this affirmation of a dubious title, its members can scarcely have seen without misgivings the gradual and continuous decline of the shipping trade of the port. The value of English goods exported from Bristol, which had been £315,000 in 1822, sank in 1833 to £205,000; the once magnificent fleet of foreign-going ships belonging to the city was reduced in number to about thirty; whilst the warehouses, once filled with produce, offered accommodation so much in excess of the demand that their formerly prosperous owners could not realise one per cent. on the capital invested in the buildings. The depression in fact became so severe that it provoked another agitation against the port charges, the Chamber of Commerce again taking the lead by forwarding memorials to the Corporation and the Dock Company, pressing for a mitigation of the burdens. The dock directors were the first to acknowledge the reasonableness of the complaints; and in July, 1834, reductions were announced in the dock dues on certain classes of goods. The concessions, however, were regarded by the suffering interests as illusory, the commodities relieved producing but a small revenue, while, so far as concerned the chief branches of local commerce, the dock rates still exceeded those of Liverpool to the extent of about 50 per cent. on sugar, 70 per cent. on tobacco, 157 per cent. on wine, 200 per cent. on foreign spirits, and 1,100 per cent. on wool. The dues were still more oppressive as regarded foreign goods imported coastwise; for, whilst the Liverpool authorities contented themselves with half the rates imposed on direct foreign imports, the Bristol board imposed the full rates. According to another table published by the Chamber of Commerce, showing the comparative charges on all the leading articles of import, the duties at Bristol were 20s. as compared with 11s. 5d. at Liverpool, 7s. 3d. at Hull, and 6s. 2d. at Gloucester. The Dock Company, nevertheless, refused to grant any further relief, urging in excuse that the shareholders were receiving less than 2¼ per cent. per annum in dividends, and held a deaf ear to the retort that the inadequate profits were the natural fruit of unreasonable exactions. The pressure placed on the Corporation had more satisfactory results. One of the last important acts of the unreformed Common Council was to order a large reduction in the town dues, which were wholly


abolished as regarded exports. Unhappily the latter concession was not made until the export trade of the city had almost disappeared, the civic receipts from this source in the previous year having been only £466. Concurrently with these remissions, the Common Council abolished the tolls on fish, which were obnoxious to fishermen yet practically unproductive. The mayor claimed one hundred oysters from each oyster boat, and six mackerel, a pair of soles, and twelve herrings from each fishing boat. The sheriffs had fifty oysters from each cargo. Nearly the whole of the fish collected were distributed amongst the petty officials of the corporate body.

It had been understood throughout the agitation of 1831-2 that one of the first efforts of a reorganised House of Commons would be directed to the reconstitution of the municipal corporations of the country - most of which, for more than a century, had been the object of widespread complaint - and the establishment of a system of local government based on the opinions and interests of the urban community. With a view to these ends, a royal commission was issued in the summer of 1833, to inquire into the constitution and working of the existing bodies. Twenty gentlemen, for the most part experienced barristers, were chosen for this purpose, and in order to hasten the proceedings, the corporations in England and Wales were divided into nine territorial districts, in which investigations took place simultaneously. The formation of this tribunal excited violent indignation amongst the class who had monopolised authority in many towns. Protests were raised against what was styled “the Radical Inquisition”, and the Corporations of Dover, Lichfield, and a few other notoriously misgoverned places, set the commissioners at defiance, denying the legality of their powers, and refusing them access to the civic archives. This course was also followed by the Merchant Venturers' Society of this city, and by the Bristol Dock Company. In a great majority of cases, however, the municipal bodies, though exceedingly irritated at being called upon to render an account of their proceedings, prudently submitted to the royal request. The commissioners allotted to this district, Mr. E.J. Gambier and Mr. J.B. Drinkwater, opened their court at Bristol on the 7th October, and continued their sittings until the 2nd November. The complaints of the inhabitants against the Corporation were laid before the commissioners by Messrs. Visger, Manchee, Thomas, and other prominent members of the Liberal party, while the Common Council was defended


by the town clerk (Mr. Serjeant Ludlow), Messrs. Brice & Barges, and other officials, who afforded every facility to the visitors during the progress of the inquiry. The proceedings were miserably reported in the local newspapers, but it appears that the chief grievances adduced against the corporate body were, that it was constituted on the closest principles of self-election, that the members, bound together by an oath of secrecy, claimed to be irresponsible in administering the large public revenues entrusted to them by the city charters, that they refused to produce accounts, that, as was natural under such circumstances, their transactions had been frequently marked with mismanagement and extravagance, and that the declining prosperity of the port was largely due to their neglectful and mischievous conduct as conservators, and to their imposition of taxes on shipping and goods for which they made no beneficial return. Offices in the gift of the Common Council were, it was alleged, often filled by decayed members of the body, or by relations and connections. The legal jurisdiction of the aldermen extended to life and death, but it was shown that, although the residence of those functionaries in the city was compulsory under the charters, only the mayor and one alderman lived in Bristol, while the town clerk, with a salary of £1,000 a year, was a practising barrister in London.[45] The result of those abuses, it was asserted, had been to excite and perpetuate a general distrust and contempt of the magistracy, and to taint with suspicion the administration of justice. With regard to the great charity funds vested in the Corporation, it was complained that large sums of money were distributed under the recommendation of the parish churchwardens, themselves chosen by self-elected vestries, and acting at parliamentary elections as canvassers and local managers of the party to which most of the members of the Common Council were attached. Much dissatisfaction was expressed at the management of the Grammar School and of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital. Finally, it was declared that the establishment maintained by the Corporation, consisting of upwards of forty salaried officers, was not merely overgrown and expensive, but inefficient; that the civic pomp assumed amidst declining prosperity was idle and unseemly, and that the confession wrung from the officials of a heavy debt offered convincing evidence of the evil system that had prevailed.


The net result of that system was alleged to be, that the Corporation was generally distrusted and unpopular, the desertion of the authorities by the ratepayers at the time of the riots being adduced as an unmistakable proof of the feeling inspiring all classes. Prom the report drawn up by the two commissioners, it may be inferred that they regarded this indictment as substantiated. It had been shown, they said, by accounts which the Corporation produced for the first time in the previous year, that the civic expenditure had been for a long period in excess of the receipts, the bonded redeemable debt having increased from £5,140 in 1825, to 54,949 in 1833. That much of the outlay was unnecessary was regarded as proved by the fact that when the Corporation attempted to carry their Police Bill through Parliament in 1832, they promised to effect such retrenchments as would permit them not merely to establish a financial equilibrium, but to grant £1,500 a year towards the maintenance of the police. The commissioners commented severely upon the transaction by which the Corporation, about half a century previously, had handed over the wharfage dues - popularly supposed to produce some £2,000 a year - to the Merchant Venturers' Company, on a lease for 99 years, for the trivial consideration of £10 per annum. The police arrangements of the city were stated to be utterly insufficient even in the central districts, while no protection whatever existed in the southern and eastern suburbs. As to paving and lighting, the Corporation denied that such matters came within their province. In their concluding “general remarks”, the two commissioners observed that the Corporation of Bristol offered a very unfavourable specimen of the results of self-election and irresponsibility. Although there had been no improper appropriation of public funds, the Corporation could not be acquitted of mismanagement and profusion. In the face of a sinking and overburdened trade, its large resources had been unprofitably squandered in the maintenance of an overgrown establishment and in the display of state magnificence. Its ruling principle had been the desire of power, and each of its applications to Parliament to extend or prop up its privileges had become a topic of general discontent. So intense a spirit of opposition and distrust had been aroused, that it seemed doubtful whether an act of real liberality on the part of the governing body would not arouse suspicion and reproach. As owners and guardians of the port, the conduct of the Corporation was condemned as indefensible. They had suffered burdensome charges of every description


to be accumulated upon trade, of which they were the last to see the impolicy, and had placed out of their own control - for a nominal consideration - a heavy and oppressive tax, which in its beginning was at least applied to the purposes of the harbour. They had procured a parliamentary title for their lessees, from whom they could demand no account, and had suffered the tax, imposed for public services, to be absorbed in paying the debts, incurred in other speculations, of those who now claimed to be a private and irresponsible company. “We are informed”, added the commissioners, “that the same political party has not always held the ascendency in the Council House. We should not seek for a stronger proof that the fault is inherent in the system itself”. [For further details the reader is referred to the Appendix to the First Report of the Municipal Corporations' Commissioners.]

The Kingsweston estate, late the property of Lord de Clifford, deceased, was purchased in July, 1833, by Mr. Philip John Miles, of Leigh Court, for £210,000. Sir R. Southwell, Lord de Clifford's ancestor, bought the estate shortly before the Revolution from its former owners, the Hookes, a family long connected with Bristol. The story to be found in some local histories, to the effect that a walled-up room (shut up during the civil wars) was discovered in the mansion during the last century, containing records of a barony granted to the Southwell family by Henry III., is therefore untrustworthy.

During the summer of 1833 the trustees of the Bristol turnpikes, with a view to improving the chief southern entrance to the city, caused a deep cutting to be made at Totterdown, near the junction of the Wells road with that from Bath. A very steep hill there, much disliked by stage coachmen, was thus practically removed. A similar improvement was effected at the same time near Clifton church, a new road being cut in front of Goldney House.

The death was announced, on the 7th September, of Hannah More, who expired at her house in Windsor Terrace, aged 88, having outlived not only all the celebrated literary friends of her youth, but, to a certain extent, her once considerable reputation as an author. Her funeral was of a private character, only four mourning coaches and as many private carriages following the hearse to Wrington, where the sisters of the deceased had been already interred. There being no near relatives surviving, Mr. J.S. Harford and Mr. J. Gwatkin acted as chief mourners. Miss More, after


making many charitable bequests, left the residue of her estate (about £3,000) to the church of Trinity, St. Philip's. Extensive parochial schools in the neighbourhood of the church were erected by subscription in 1838-9, and dedicated to her memory.

The Bristol Medical School began its first session on the 14th October. The institution, first located in King Square, but removed to Old Park in 1834, was founded upon two private schools which had been in existence for some years - one of which has been already noticed in connection with a ghastly story [see p.100].

In February, 1834, the Common Council appointed the sixth Duke of Beaufort Lord High Steward of Bristol, in the place of Lord Grenville, deceased. His grace held the office for only a brief period, having died in November, 1835. His son, the seventh duke, was shortly afterwards elected to the vacant dignity.

Amongst several sales of property effected by the Corporation about this time, the well-known island in the Bristol Channel - the Steep Holmes - was disposed of to Colonel Tynte, of Cefn Mably, Glamorganshire.

In the early months of 1834 the Rev. Francis Edgeworth, then officiating at St. Joseph's Chapel, Trenchard Street, the only Roman Catholic place of worship in the city, resolved upon the erection of a gigantic church in the classical style, to be dedicated to the Holy Apostles. Having purchased a field lying to the east of a large quarry called Honeypen Hill (on which Meridian Place then looked), the foundation stone of the intended edifice was laid in October, and the mason-work slowly progressed for some years. In the meanwhile a small chapel was built within the area, and Mass was performed there in 1842. Unfortunately for the reverend promoter, two or three landslips took place, and his pecuniary difficulties became at last so serious that operations were suspended. Father Edgeworth, declared a bankrupt, fled to Belgium (where he died in 1850), and the unfinished building was in June, 1844, advertised for sale by auction. Although saved from this fate by the exertions of the faithful, the fabric long remained in a state of semi-ruin. In 1847, Bishop Ullathorne purchased the land and building from the mortgagees for £2,500; but it was not until 1848, when all hope of completing the church according to the original plan was abandoned, that a portion was fitted up for worship. The opening ceremony, marked with the customary pomp of the Romish Church, took place on the 21st September, the


officiating prelates being Bishops Hendren and Ullathorne, the existing and previous vicars-general of the western, district. A convent and chapel dedicated to St. Catherine of Sienna, for the use of nuns of the order of St. Dominic, were added in 1849. The church was termed a pro-cathedral after the revival of the English episcopate by Pius IX. in 1850, and shortly afterwards a mansion of mediæval design was erected near it for the “Bishop of Clifton”. Several years later an eastern extension of the church was made in an incongruous Lombardic style. One of the most stately ceremonials that have taken place in the “pro-cathedral” occurred in February, 1855, on the death of the bishop at Plymouth, when a chapter was held, under the presidency of Cardinal Wiseman, for the selection of three ecclesiastics worthy of the Pope's consideration in filling the vacancy.

During the session of 1834, a measure for the amendment of the poor laws passed both Houses of Parliament, and received the royal assent. At the instance of the Bristol Incorporation of the Poor, that body, and a few others of the same character, were permitted to retain the privileges granted them under their special Acts; but this exemption, as will be recorded under the year 1857, was subsequently withdrawn. One effect of the Poor Law Breform Act was to constitute the “Clifton Union”, including, besides several rural parishes, Clifton itself, the parishes of Westbury and Horfield, the district of St. James and St. Paul, and the outparish of St. Philip[46] - all forming part of the municipal borough of Bristol. The parish of Bedminster, similarly situated, and several other parishes in Somerset, formed another new union, called after Bedminster. The title of “union” given to the confederations was somewhat of a


misnomer, for each parish continued to defray the cost of its out-door poor. As a necessary consequence the local rates varied considerably, and the anomalies appeared the more unjust inasmuch as the taxation was lowest where the inhabitants were wealthy, and highest where the ratepayers were least able to endure the burden. For example, in Bedminster, in 1849, the yearly charge was nearly 5s. in the pound on the rental, while in Westbury it was 7½d., and in Clifton only 7d. In 1858 an agitation was started for amalgamating all the suburban parishes with the Bristol union, but the movement was unsuccessful, and though it has been revived in later years it has hitherto met with no better success. The passing of the Union Chargeability Act, however, did much to remove the previous inequalities in local taxation.

The prospectus of the West of England and South Wales District Banking Company was published in August. The shares - 50,000 of £20 each - having been subscribed for, the bank opened its central office on the 29th December in the Exchange, Bristol, branches being also established at Bath, Bridgwater, Taunton, Exeter, Barnstaple, Newport, Cardiff, and Swansea. In 1854 the directors purchased and demolished the once great coaching hostelry, the Bush, opposite to the Exchange, together with some adjoining houses, and built on the site a remarkably ornate edifice, in the Venetian style, the cost of the site and building exceeding £40,000. The new bank was opened for business in February, 1857. A local paper stated that the Corporation of the Poor assessed the building at £2,000 per annum, which was £50 more than the assessment of all the other bank premises in the city put together

For some years previous to this date, the Court of Aldermen, which had the management of the Red Maids' School, seems to have been much exercised as to the desirability of removing the institution from the old premises in Denmark Street. Complaints had been made as to the inconvenience of the building, but the governors, in November, 1830, resolved that it was inexpedient to alter the site, and plans were soon after approved for reconstructing the house. Three months later the position of the school was condemned; and in September, 1831, it was resolved to buy part of the property in Great George Street which had been acquired for a Mansion House [see p.134]. The matter then dropped out of sight until March, 1833, when the last motion was rescinded, and it was again determined to rebuild


on the old site, if the adjoining premises could be obtained for an extension. This condition having turned out to be impracticable, the Common Council in the following September sold 1 acre and 22 poles of Tyndall's Park (part of “Bang's Orchard”), belonging to the Corporation, to Whitson's trustees for the new school.[47] The authorities then selected a design of an imposing and expensive character, and building operations had proceeded for some time when the progress of the Municipal Reform Bill suggested the desirability of suspending operations. Nothing further was done until the appointment of the Charity Trustees, who made an inquiry in January, 1837, and discovered that the cost of the school buildings and site would be nearly £17,000, a sum which could not be raised except by disposing of part of the hospital estates, and permanently reducing the income of the charity. A few months later the trustees had under consideration a project for removing the City School to the spot in question, but this scheme was also rejected. The property was at length sold to Bishop Monk, for the purposes of the Bishop's College [see p.141]. The Charity Trustees rebuilt the school in Denmark Street in 1842.

The new Blind Asylum, adjoining the intended Red Maids' School, was also progressing in 1834, the remainder of the King's Orchard having been purchased of the Corporation for £1,850. The asylum was founded in 1792 by a few Quaker philanthropists, the manager and secretary being Messrs. Fox and Bath. Until 1803 it was located in a disused Quaker meeting-house in Callowhill Street; but the building, together with adjoining premises called the Dove House [the columbarium of the ancient friary?] , was then offered for sale (Felix Farley, Bristol Journal, March 3), and the asylum was removed to Lower Maudlin Street, where it remained until its present habitation was finished. The chapel erected for the use of the inmates, and also designed to serve as a chapel-of-ease to St. Michael's, was opened on the 20th November, 1838. At a meeting held after the inaugural service, it was stated that the new asylum had cost £15,000, and the chapel £6,000, A new wing was added to the asylum in January, 1883.

With some appreciation of the signs of the times, the


Common Council gave an order during the year to Mr. Pickersgill, B.A., to paint the portrait of Alderman Daniel, to commemorate the long connection of that gentleman with civic affairs. Excepting four individuals, the entire body of aldermen and common councillors owed their position in the municipality to the influence or passive assent of the autocrat of the Corporation; and seeing that the balance due to their bankers exceeded £10,000, it would have been creditable to the authorities if their manifestation of gratitude had come out of their own pockets. In December, however, the artist received 150 guineas for his picture, and the alderman was paid his expenses in journeying to London to sit for it - £24 8s. 3d.

A general election occurred unexpectedly in January, 1835, owing to the summary dismissal of Lord Melbourne's Ministry by William IV. The result in Bristol, as in many other places, indicated a marked reaction in favour of the Tory party - now first called Conservatives. At the formal nomination of candidates, that party, desirous of avoiding a contest, put forward only Sir Richard R. Vyvyan. But in consequence of the Liberals unexpectedly proposing two gentlemen - Mr. J.E. Baillie and Sir John Cam Hobhouse (son of a candidate of 1796, a Bristolian by birth, and a member of the two previous Ministries), Mr. P.J. Miles was brought forward as a second “blue” candidate, without being formally nominated before the sheriff. Both the Conservative nominees were triumphantly returned, the numbers being: Mr. Miles, 8,709; Sir R.R. Vyvyan, 3,812; Mr. Baillie, 2,520; Sir J.O. Hobhouse, 1,808. Two Tory candidates had not been elected simultaneously since 1780.

In April, 1836, the monopoly of the China trade, previously held by the East India Company, having been abolished by Parliament, a cargo of tea was brought into Bristol direct from Canton. An attempt was afterwards made to establish a Bristol Tea Company, with a capital of half a million, for the purpose of carrying on an extensive trade with the Celestial Empire; but the project met with slender encouragement from local tea merchants, and was dropped. A few more cargoes were afterwards imported by the same firm - Messrs. Acraman, Bush, Castle & Co. - who built extensive warehouses in Prince's Street especially for this trade. Subsequently a London merchant named Robertson continued for some time to import tea by way of Bristol. Grocers, however, preferred to follow the old ruts of the trade, and Mr. Robertson's enterprise proving unprofitable, it was discontinued in 1843.


A charge of murder, which had caused intense excitement in the city, was opened at the assizes on the 10th April, 1835, and occupied the court two days. The case was tried before Sir Charles Wetherell, recorder, who had not held an assize since the riots in 1831. It appeared that on the 23rd October, 1833, an elderly woman named Clara Ann Smith, who had lodged for some time with one Mary Ann Burdock, the occupier of a lodging-house in College Street, suddenly died. The relatives of the deceased, having had no tidings from her for upwards of a year, at last made inquiries, and finding that Mrs. Burdock would not give a satisfactory account of her death, or of the considerable property which she was known to have possessed, application was made to the police, and the body was disinterred fourteen months after the burial. Identification was difficult after such a lapse of time, but two fellow lodgers of the deceased swore to certain marks on the stockings, and the undertaker proved that he had supplied the coffin. The stomach was thereupon handed to Mr. Herapath, who discovered that it contained arsenic, and three medical witnesses testified that the quantity of poison detected was sufficient to cause death. The purchase of arsenic by a person in Burdock's house also came to light, as well as the fact that Mrs. Burdock had alone administered food to the deceased, and had cautioned a servant not to eat of what remained after each meal. It further transpired that the murdered woman had received £800 shortly before her demise, and that Burdock became suddenly rich after that event. Other circumstantial evidence pressing against the woman was adduced, and, the jury having found her guilty, she was sentenced to be hanged. Her subsequent indifference to her fate was another strange feature in the case. She ordered her brother not to spend more than £2 upon her coffin, which she desired to have by her bedside on the night before her execution, and she gave especial directions to be provided with a “warm, comfortable shroud”. The wretched woman was hanged at the gaol on the 15th April, in the presence, it was computed, of 50,000 spectators.

St. Matthew's Church, Kingsdown, which had just been finished at a cost of about £7,900, including a sum set apart for the endowment, was consecrated by Dr. Ryder, Bishop of Lichfield, on the 23rd April. A peal of eight bells, the gift of Mr. John Bangley, a liberal contributor to the church, was subsequently placed in the tower. In July, 1882, Mr. George Gay, builder, presented the parish with a handsome villa and garden in Cotham Park, for the use of the vicar and his successors.


Brunswick Square Chapel, built at a cost of £5,000 by some seceders from the congregation of Castle Green Chapel, was opened in May, when a sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Raffles, of Liverpool. The first marriage celebrated in a dissenting place of worship in Bristol took place in this building shortly after the passing of the Marriage Act of 1837.

The Corporation cash-book contains the following item dated the 14th May: “Paid John Willis for various embazonments (sic) to embellish the Mayors' Kalendar, £23 15s.” The payment can refer only to the coats of arms which have been placed against the names of many of the mayors and sheriffs of later times - often, it may be suspected, at the fantasy of the illuminator.

The new Bridewell, entirely rebuilt after the deplorable events of 1831, was finished in July, 1835, at a cost of £7,800. The new prison was constructed entirely on the northern side of Bridewell Lane. The ground on the opposite side, - on which the old Bridewell chiefly stood, - was a few years later made available for a central police station. In 1842 it was reported that the prison was deficient in accommodation, there being 100 prisoners confined in it, whilst the cells were constructed to contain only 56. The Council subsequently resolved to enlarge the building, and appropriated some adjacent void ground for the purpose. The alterations cost the city upwards of £4,000. The abolition of the prison will be recorded under a later date.

After having been for some time contemplated by a few public-spirited citizens, the Bristol and Clifton Zoological Gardens Society was definitely established in July, 1835, the capital being in the first instance fixed at £7,500 in £25 shares. It was originally proposed to lay out a garden at Pyle Hill, Bedminster, where a plot of ten acres was actually purchased, and planting commenced. A change of plans, however, took place, and the present site - about twelve acres - having been purchased of Mr. F. Adams for £3,456, about £6,300 more were spent in laying out the ground and erecting the necessary buildings. The gardens were opened to the public on the 11th July, 1836. According to the original proposal, annual subscribers were admitted into the grounds on Sundays, in common with the proprietors. A section of the latter, a few years later, endeavoured to close the gardens entirely on that day, but met with a decisive defeat. On directing their attack against those who had no votes, however, they were quite successful, a resolution depriving the subscribers of their former privilege being


adopted in April, 1841. Forty-five years later, in April, 1886, the society returned to its original policy, a vote to admit subscribers on Sundays being carried with only one dissentient voice.

During this year a monument to the memory of Dr. Gray, Bishop of Bristol, who died on the 28th September, 1834, was erected in the cathedral at a cost of £260.

The last of the few public improvements effected by the old Corporation, whose extinction is about to be recorded, were made in the autumn of 1835. Maudlin Lane was widened, by pulling down some old houses and removing the small inclosures which stood in front of others. A more important work was effected in Bridewell Lane, by opening through it a street from Nelson Street to the Horse Fair, covering over part of the Froom, and pulling down some old dwellings which contracted the thoroughfare. The total cost was about £3,000. The dean and chapter about the same time improved the appearance of the cathedral by removing some ugly houses adjoining the west end of the building, and demolishing others built upon the cloisters.

In November, 1835, Lord John Russell, then Home Secretary and leader of the House of Commons, having won extensive popularity from the manner in which he had conducted the Reform Bill and other important measures through the Lower House, was entertained to dinner at the Gloucester Hotel, Clifton, by his admirers in this district. The occasion was seized to present his lordship with a handsome piece of plate, purchased by a sixpenny subscription, commemorative of his services to the cause of civil and religious liberty. An amusing illustration of the political acrimony of the time was furnished by a local newspaper, which recorded that the parochial authorities, “to their honour”, refused to allow the church bells to be rung on the Home Secretary's visit to the city.

The report of the Municipal Corporations' Commmission, occupying five bulky folio volumes, was laid before Parliament in the spring of 1835. Even before the production of the entire work, the irresistible proofs of corruption, extravagance, and inefficiency that had become public in the course of the inquiry had extorted an avowal from Sir Robert Peel, then Prime Minister and leader of the Tory party, that it would be impossible to resist a thorough reform of abuses, and the concession of popular election and control in municipal affairs. A change of Ministry having taken place soon afterwards, the question returned to its original hands, and


early in June Lord John Russell, in producing a Bill, described to the House of Commons the plan of municipal government which the Cabinet intended to provide. So great was the effect produced by the Commissioners' report, that the measure was read a second time without opposition; nor was any resistance offered to the principle of the Bill when it underwent examination in committee. A few of the old corporations, however, amongst which those of Bristol and Liverpool were especially conspicuous, continued to maintain that a scheme which would deprive them of the enjoyment of property and privileges derived from royal charters was both oppressive and unconstitutional; and when the Bill reached the House of Lords they petitioned to be heard against it by counsel. The Ministry, opposed by an overwhelming majority of peers, were forced to give way, and in July and August Sir Charles Wetherell, recorder of Bristol, supported by other counsel,[48] protested against what he termed the tyrannical annihilation of ancient rights, and poured a flood of insulting invective on the commissioners, the Government, and the House of Commons. The Opposition peers next moved that Sir Charles should be permitted to call evidence on behalf of his clients, it being hoped that at so late a period of the session (August 3rd) the Ministry would abandon the Bill, rather than continue the sittings. The point having been carried, Mr. Daniel Burges, one of the solicitors for the Corporation of Bristol, Alderman Fripp, an ex-mayor of the city, and officials representing about thirty other close bodies, were examined, but with little other result than to show that they approved of the existing system, and that the proposed reforms were in their opinion unadvisable. The noble opponents of the Government appear to have been disappointed at the emptiness of this testimony, for only the Duke of Newcastle and one or two other uncompromising enemies of change advised the Tory majority to reject what they termed an “atrocious and revolutionary Bill”. But though this counsel was ignored, many of the clauses were, to use Lord Brongham's expression, “butchered” by the Conservative peers, with the avowed purpose of checking the control intended to be conferred on the ratepayers. The most unpopular of those “amendments” was that reviving the body of aldermen, who were to be chosen, as far as practicable, from the existing aldermen, and to be elected for life. Other


alterations, strongly opposed by the Government, were the introduction of property qualifications for councillors, and the rejection of the clauses conferring power on councils to nominate magistrates and to grant public-house licences. The Ministry were for a time undetermined whether to proceed with or to drop the Bill in what they regarded as a mutilated form; but the House of Commons was ultimately invited to sanction most of the changes. The aldermanic tenure was however reduced to six years, and the provision in favour of the old dignitaries was rejected. The House of Lords having assented to the modification, the Bill received the royal assent in September.

The passing of the Act, which excited great interest amongst all classes in the city, revolutionized the existing system, and involved a number of initiatory steps prior to the establishment of the new order of things. In the old Corporation, vacancies in the Common Council (of thirty members) were filled by the aldermen and councillors, while on the death of one of the twelve aldermen his successor was appointed by the mayor and aldermen only, the opinions of the citizens counting for nothing in such affairs. Under the new Act the municipal boundaries of the city were made conterminous with its parliamentary limits by the inclusion within the “city and county” of Clifton, the district of St. James and St. Paul, St. Philip's, and the urban portions of Westbury and Bedminster parishes, thus increasing the area from 755 to 4,879 acres. The rated male inhabitants, or rather such as had been rated for three years, were required to elect a body of forty-eight councillors. Those councillors were then to appoint sixteen aldermen - chosen either from amongst themselves or from qualified ratepayers - and the aggregate body of sixty-four, entitled the Council, was charged with the responsible administration of municipal business and of the corporate revenues. Under the old system the aldermen and common councillors were elected for life. The new aldermen were to sit for six years, and the councillors for three years, but were eligible for re-election; and in order that the council might keep touch with public opinion, it was arranged that one third of the councillors should retire every year on the 1st November, and one half of the aldermen every three years on the 9th November - the day fixed for the annual election of the mayor. Under the ancient charters, the Corporation could spend its revenues at the caprice of the majority, and contract debts at its discretion. The new Act contained stringent provisions


against financial abuses, and the Council was unable to borrow money except with the consent of the Treasury, and for purposes manifestly beneficial to the community. Finally, the jurisdiction of the old sheriffs was preserved, but the Bristol custom of appointing two such officers, in puerile imitation of London, was abolished. As the reformed system did not come into operation until the end of the year, the old Corporation had in the first place to appoint a mayor and two sheriffs for the three months which intervened between the retirement of the existing officials at Michaelmas and the creation of the Council. This was easily arranged, however, by the re-appointment of the gentlemen then in office.[49] Another indispensable work was the preparation of the “Burgess Roll” - a register of the qualified rated inhabitants - a task for which there was but scanty time, owing to the late date at which the Act passed. Equally urgent was the division of the borough into wards, which was to be effected by barristers nominated by the Government for the purpose. These functionaries did not reach Bristol until the 28th October. The importance of the work confided to them does not appear to have been generally appreciated, and their proceedings were almost ignored by the inefficient newspaper reporters of the age. It was not, indeed, until the wards had been created that the supporters of the new system opened their eyes to the fact that the interests of the ratepayers had been deeply compromised by the arrangements effected. The following were the divisions as settled by the legal visitors.

 Burgesses.Rated value.Councillors.
Bristol (or Central)870£41,4469
St. Augustine's33520,1576
St. James's41314,9763
St. Michael's3057,9263
St. Paul's33615,6143
St. Philip's43215,3103


The net result was that the first four of the above wards, with just over 2,200 burgesses, had thirty representatives, whilst the rest of the city, with nearly 2,000 ratepayers, was allotted only eighteen. The distribution was the more extraordinary inasmuch as it was a flagrant deviation from the arrangement proposed by the Royal Commissioners on Corporations, who in their report on Bristol (page 39) had advised the formation of sixteen wards, with three councillors each, by which St, Philip's, Bedminster, and the District would each have had six representatives. The Liberal newspapers - when it was too late - commented warmly on the disproportionate number of councillors awarded to the parishes where the Tory party was known to be most influential. The critics admitted that the division did not seem so unjust when the rateable value of the respective wards was taken into account; but on the other hand, it was pointed out that while three out of the four favoured wards were practically built over, the suburban districts were certain to rapidly increase, both in population and rateable value. Application was eventually made to the Government, which admitted the unfairness of the distribution, and promised redress by legislation, but never carried out its pledge. It will afterwards be seen how excessive the disproportion became before a remedy was applied. The preparations for the elections having been completed, the field became open for candidates, of whom a great number made their appearance, including many members of the old Corporation. Eventually ninety went to the poll, nearly every seat being contended for by representatives of both political parties. The elections took place on the 26th December, and two days afterwards the results were declared by the mayor (Mr. Charles Payne), whose functions thereupon terminated. The following summary gives the results in each ward, the names of members of the old Common Council being distinguished by an asterisk. Further evidence of the unequal distribution of representatives is afforded by the number of voters which is appended to the name of each ward.

BEDMINSTER (177 voters).- Robert Phippin (C). 93; John Drake (L.), 92; Samuel Brown (L.). 79. Defeated: Henry Glascodine (C.), 58; James Bartlett (C.), 56; James Powell (L.), 46.

CENTRAL (870 voters). - James Wood (L.), 388; William Edward Acraman (C.), 379; Thomas Stock (L.), 377; Fred. Ricketts (L). 366; Peter Maze (C.), 366; Charles B. Fripp (L.), 344; Henry Bush (C.), 335; James Lean* (C.), 322; John Savage* (C.), 315. Defeated: Rich. Bligh (L.), 314; Thomas Carlisle (L.), 307; William Terrell (L.), 302; George W. Franklyn (C.), 291: Samuel Waring (L.), 289; Samuel Morgan (L.), 272; William Watson* (C.), 268 William Plummer (C.), 246; A.J. Drewe (C.), 238.


CLIFTON (494 voters).- Charles Payne* (C.). 274; Gabriel Goldney* (C.). 268; James N. Franklyn* (C.), 258; Joeeph Cookson (C.), 238; Abraham Hilhouse* (C.), 223; William S. Jaques (L.), 204; Robert E. Case (C.), 204; James Ford (C.), 304; Michael H. Castle* (L.), 198. Defeated: John Warne (L), 196; Joseph Lax* (C.), 184; John Vining (C.)* 184; James Johnson (L.), 177; L. McBayne (L.), 165.

DISTRICT (314 voters).- James E. Lunell* (L.), 221; Thomas B. Sanders (L.), 131; Richard Ash (L.), 127. Defeated: Robert H. Webb (C.), 124; George Shapland (C.). 119.

REDCLIFF (517 voters).- Christopher George* (L.), 236; Henry Ricketts* (L.), 236; Richard P. King (C.), 228; George Thomas (L.), 228; William O. Gwyer (C.), 222; George E. Sanders (Ii.), 222. Defeated: John Hare, jun. (L.), 213; William Fripp* (C.), 209; William Tothill (L.), 206; Robert Fiske (L.), 182; Nicholas Roch* (C.), 176; Henry B. Llewellyn (L.), 166.

St. AUGUSTINE'S (235 voters).- Thomas Daniel* (C.), 152; Charles Hare (C.), 149; Richard Smith (C.), 147; James E. Nash (C.), 145; P. Maze, jun.,* (C.), 134; Thomas Powell (C.), 124. Defeated: Charles Pinney* (C.), 90; John Maimingford (L.), 72; James Reynolds (L.), 69; Richard Ricketts (L.), 68; Joseph F. Alexander (L ), 68; James Jenkins (L.), 54.

ST. JAMES'S (413 voters).- James Cunningham (L.) 224; Samuel S. Wayte (L.), 214; John W. Hall (L.), 208. Defeated: Thomas Menlove (C.), 118; James Moore (C.), 111; M.H. Castle* (L.), 54.

ST. MICHAEL'S (305 voters).- John Howell (C.), 208; James George* (C.) 156: Charles L. Walker* (C.), 136. Defeated: John Mills (L.), 115; John Irving (L), 87.

ST. PAUL'S (336 voters).- Nehemiah Moore (L.), 170; Thomas B. Guppy (L.) 164; William Harwood (L.), 137. Defeated: Robert T. Lilly (C.), 129; Thomas H. Riddle (C.), 106; Edward Harley (C.), 105.

ST. PHILIP'S (432 voters). - Thomas Harris (L.), 302; William Herapath, (L.), 242; Edward B. Fripp (L.), 236. Defeated: Samuel G. Flook (C.), 107; John Winwood (C.), 92.

The net result of the struggle being the return of twenty-four Tories and the same number of Liberals, extreme interest turned upon the election of aldermen, which was fixed for the 1st January, 1836. On this occasion, Mr. Thomas Daniel, senior ex-alderman, was voted into the chair, as a compliment due to his long connection with civic affairs; after which Mr. Stock, one of the leading Liberals, appealed to gentlemen of both political parties to discard party feelings, and to concur in the nomination of a moiety of the aldermanic body from each side. His proposal, however, met with no response from the Conservative ranks. Much discussion followed as to the best mode of procedure, the Tories being desirous of proposing sixteen candidates in a batch, while their opponents urged that a member should be nominated alternately by each party. A division took place on this point, but as the numbers were equal, and the chairman had no casting vote, the Council were unable to make any progress. It being at length determined to resort to alternate nominations, Mr. Wm. Fripp was proposed by the Tories,


Mr. Charles Pinney by the Liberals, Mr. T.H. Riddle by the Tories, and Mr. Richard Ricketts by the Liberals; and in each case the election was unanimous. The third Conservative candidate was Mr. Wm. Bushell, who was also chosen without opposition. But the nomination of the third Liberal, Mr. Wm. Tothill, one of the most respected members of the party, brought about a defection which had been partially anticipated from the outset. Mr. Christopher George, a member of the old Corporation, had won some popularity three or four years before by his ardent advocacy of Reform principles. But, as frequently occurred amongst old-fashioned Whigs about that period, Mr. George's admiration of political improvements came to an end when they threatened to affect his own interests and position. The abolition of rotten boroughs was all well enough, but the purification of effete corporations, of one of which he was a member, was not to his taste. His election into the Council gave him an opportunity of revenging himself upon the party to which he had hitherto professed attachment, and the time had arrived for the blow that had been secretly concerted with his new allies.[50] A division was called for by the Tories, and as Mr. George voted with them, Mr. Tothill was rejected by 25 votes against 23. Mr. Wm. Watson was next nominated by the Conservatives, and elected; but when the Liberals proposed Mr. J. Reynolds, son of the distinguished philanthropist, he was also rejected by the vote of Mr. George. Mr. John K. Haberfield (Tory) owed his election to the same gentleman. Mr. J. Maningford (Liberal) and Mr. J. Gibbs (Tory) were also successful. Another desertion then took place from the Liberals, Mr. Henry Ricketts, the last gentleman admitted into the old Corporation, following Mr. George's example and voting against Mr. R. Castle. After this change of sides, only one gentleman on the Liberal list was elected - Mr. Thomas Stock. The remaining Conservative nominees appointed were Messrs. N. Roch, Edward Harley, George W. Franklyn, J. Winwood, Wm. K. Wait, and John Vining. As Mr. Pinney, though proposed by the Liberals, immediately joined the Tory camp, the issue of the election was the return of 13 Conservatives and 3 Liberals, giving the former an overwhelming preponderance in the Council.[51] On the


following day, January 2, the jubilant victors carried the election of ex-Alderman Daniel as mayor, 38 votes being recorded for him against 22 given for Mr. Stock. Immediately afterwards, Mr. D. Cave (Tory) was elected sheriff by 35 Yotes against 25, the latter representing the supporters of Mr. G. Bengough (Liberal). [Mr. Daniel refusing - as was anticipated - to accept the chief magistracy on account of his advanced age, Mr. William Fripp, another alderman of the old régime, was shortly afterwards appointed in his place. Mr. Fripp's qualification being contested, an application was made to the Court of King's Bench in the following month for a writ of quo warranto; but for some reason the judges did not grant the document until November, when the new mayor's term had expired.] Finally, Mr. Serjeant Ludlow was re-appointed town-clerk; but upon being called in and informed of his election, he stated that for the present he should neither decline nor accept an office which, as defined under the Act, was entirely different from that which he held under the old Corporation, and he must be allowed time for reflection. The learned gentleman continued to maintain this attitude for some weeks. The explanation of his conduct was obvious. For a great number of years Serjeant Ludlow had converted his office into a practical sinecure, his only service consisting in his direction of the aldermanic justices at the quarter sessions. As the recorder would thenceforth be required to fulfil the duties of judge, Mr. Ludlow's object was to induce the Council to dismiss him, when he would be entitled to compensation under the Act. According to a letter he addressed to the Council, his average income from the town-clerkship had been £913 per annum, and he claimed a lump sum of £5,336. In the course of the controversy, Mr. Ludlow, whose hastiness and impatience were as marked as his legal abilities, took offence at some strictures passed upon him by the ex-mayor, Mr. C. Payne, and made the customary preparations for an “affair of honour”; but the explanations that were tendered were accepted as satisfactory. Eventually the town-clerkship was declared vacant, owing to Mr. Ludlow's refusal to fulfil the duties, and the Council consented to pay him a life annuity of £533 yearly, which he


enjoyed until his death in March, 1851. [During his later career he was one of the commissioners in bankruptcy for the city, and chairman of quarter sessions for Gloucestershire.]

The Council lost no time in facing the formidable labours which lay before it. Committees were appointed to inquire into the financial position of the Corporation, into the duties and emoluments of the official staff, and into the measures to be taken for the establishment of a police force; and those subjects each underwent lengthy discussion in the chamber. With respect to salaries, it was resolved to reduce the amount paid to the mayor from £1,604 to £700,[52] the Council also providing him with a carriage. The two sheriffs had previously received £400 a year each; there was now to be only one sheriff, without a salary. The recorder had received £105 for each assize, and a hogshead of wine; but as he was thenceforth to preside at quarter sessions, the salary was increased to £500, and £200 more were added on his becoming judge of the Tolzey Court. The chamberlain and deputy chamberlain had enjoyed incomes of £1,200 and £500 respectively; these were reduced to £700 and £350, and the title of treasurer was adopted for that of chamberlain. Mr. Daniel Burges was appointed town-clerk in the place of Mr. Ludlow,[53] and Messrs. Brice & Burges were selected as city solicitors, the salaries for these offices being fixed at £2,150, which was to include the cost of providing clerks, etc., while Messrs. Brice & Burges surrendered the fees and other emoluments attached to their functions. This arrangement, it was stated, would be productive of a considerable saving. Economies were effected in other departments. The Mansion House was given up, and many of the useless officials maintained for purposes of “state”, including four mayor's serjeants, four sheriffs' serjeants, four sheriffs'


yeomen, two mayor's marshals, the mayor's beadle, two sheriffs' beadles, four wait-players, etc., were suppressed. The aggregate sayings were estimated by the mayor at about £6,600. With respect to finance there was an initial question of considerable gravity. Under the scheme for providing compensation to sufferers from the riots of 1831, the ratepayers within the “ancient city” were required to pay a sum of about £10,000 a year. On the other hand, the householders in the districts added to the borough were now entitled to share in the advantages derived from the city estates, whilst they were exempt from taxation under the Compensation Act. This arrangement being obviously inequitable, the Finance Committee recommended that an Act should be obtained, empowering the Council to sell corporation property and apply the money to discharge the amount of compensation still outstanding - about £35,000, after the current year's rate had been collected. Their report was adopted, in despite of the opposition of some of the Clifton councillors, and the proposed Bill received the royal assent. The debts of the old Corporation were stated by the mayor to amount to £110,000, including about £30,000 accepted on condition of paying interest for charitable purposes; and nearly the whole of the total was required at once, partly to meet the claims of the bankers and of bondholders, and partly for the purpose of transferring the charity estates to a new body of trustees, of whom mention will shortly be made. The Corporation, however, possessed large resources. According to an estimate presented to the Council, the landed estates in various parts of the country (3,816 acres) were worth £144,400; ground in the city and suburbs, £14,000; capital value of chief rents, £39,060; premises in Bristol (gross rental £3,620), £57,940; the city markets (producing £2,155 yearly)[54] £38,772; town dues (producing £1,582 per annum) £,31,640; reversions of property, £65,200; and the Mansion House, £4,760; making a total of £395,772, exclusive of public buildings in the city, valued at £80,000, and of the advowsons belonging to the Corporation, estimated at £27,000 more. The work of liquidation necessarily occupied some time. The advowsons, which were first offered for sale, produced £27,753, the separate amounts being as follows:


Portishead, £8,050; Christ Church, £4,555; St. James's, £2,555; St. Paul's, £3,210; St. Michael's, £1,710; Temple, £1,510; St. George's, £2,003; St. Peter's, £930; St. John's, £605; St. Philip's, £510; Trinity, St. Philip's, £1,010; Stockland, £1,105. Two estates at Aldmondsbury brought in £16,420, another at Ashton, £2,200, and certain fee-farm rents and properties in Bristol nearly £12,000; by which the compensation charge was cleared off and some pressing bondholders satisfied. Later on, with a view to wiping off the old debt and meeting the first claims of the Charity Trustees, the estate of Stockland (708 acres) was sold for £36,368; the rectorial estate of Nether Stowey (65 acres) for £2,677; the farms at Gaunt's Earthcott (654 acres) for £20,866; and the estate at North Weston (521 acres) for £16,443. These alienations, however, gravely reduced the income of the Corporation at a moment when new and heavy expenditure had to be provided for. The creation of an efficient police force was obligatory on the Council, and in conformity with the recommendations of the Watch Committee, the constabulary, numbering 232, were duly enrolled, and commenced their duties on the 25th June, 1836. [The first superintendent was Mr. Joseph Bishop, who had been an officer in the Metropolitan police. The central station was established at the Guardhouse, in Wine Street, much to the discontent of the leading tradesmen there, and in 1842 the building was condemned by the Council as inconvenient and unhealthy. A more commodious station, erected opposite to the new Bridewell, and upon the site of the old one, was completed in 1844. The force, after being slightly increased in strength in 1845, and again in 1857, was augmented in 1872 to 357 officers and men, of whom 13 were specially charged with the protection of the Floating Harbour. The pay of the civic army has also been raised at intervals, and the annual expenditure under this head, estimated at £9,000 in 1836, has amounted of late years to £32,000.] It was originally intended to defray the cost of the police establishment by means of a watch rate; but difficulties arose out of the peculiar circumstances of the districts added to the city, and the Council was driven to resort to a borough rate, and to submit to restrictions in administering the corporate revenues which such a rate imposed upon it under the Corporations Act. A new assessment of the city was therefore ordered, the result of which was reported to the Council in January, 1837, as follows. [The town-clerk having been kind enough to furnish corresponding statistics for 1886


they are appended for the purpose of showing the progress effected during half a century of representative local government.]

 1836.     1886.     
Ancient City£198,865£377,503
St. Philip's, out34,125133,472
Westbury, part of10,34792,201

Only one other matter arising out of the change in local government remains to be noticed - the appointment of borough magistrates in the place of the superseded aldermen of the old Corporation. The Municipal Reform Bill originally contained a clause vesting the nomination of justices in the local councils, but the provision was rejected by the House of Lords. Lord John Russell, Home Secretary, in advising the Commons to assent to the alteration, promised that the Ministry would receive the suggestions of the municipalities with the utmost consideration, and a meeting of the Bristol Council took place in February, 1836, to select a list of persons deemed worthy of the local bench. At the beginning of the discussion it was proposed that the two political parties should each suggest twelve names; but some of the Conservative members showed so decided a determination to claim a majority that Mr. Cunningham, a leading Liberal, advised his friends to leave the room and permit their opponents to act at their discretion. Conciliatory counsels thereupon prevailed, and twelve gentlemen were selected from each side of the chamber, in despite of the opposition offered to three Liberal nominations by an extreme section of their opponents. Shortly after the list had been forwarded to the Home Office, the mayor received a notification from Lord J. Russell that only eighteen names had been accepted, six of the Tory candidates, Messrs T. Daniel, C.L. Walker, J. George, A. Hilhouse, N. Roch, and J.N. Franklyn - comprising four of the old aldermen and two common councillors - being rejected. The announcement was received with intense indignation by the local Conservatives, and gave rise to a debate in the House of Commons on the 29th March, in the course of which Sir R.R. Vyvyan charged Lord J. Russell


with corrupt practices, while his lordship stigmatised his assailant as a calumniator. By order of the Speaker, the two gentlemen pledged themselves to refrain from “an affair of honour”, and the matter dropped.

The prospect of direct railway communication being opened with London at an early date inspired an enterprising Bristolian, Mr. T.R. Guppy, with the happy thought of connecting the port with the United States by means of a regular service of steam vessels, which had not hitherto been attempted by the most adventurous spirits on either side of the Atlantic. The proposal having found many supporters, a prospectus appeared, early in January, 1836, of the Great Western Steamship Company, with a capital of £250,000, and the project was received with a cordiality which augured success. The design of the first transatlantic steamer, the Great Western, was furnished by Mr. Brunel, and the building of the vessel, which was to be of 1,340 tons measurement, having been confided to Mr. William Patterson, of Wapping, the stern frame of the ship was raised on the 28th July amidst much rejoicing. The builder proceeded with so much vigour that on the 19th July, 1837, the Great Western was launched; in the following month she left for London, to be fitted with engines of 440 horse power; and in April, 1838, she returned to Bristol, having made the return journey (about 670 miles) in fifty-six hours. The vessel cost her owners £63,000. On the 8th April the ship, big with many hopes, left Kingroad for America, seven passengers risking their lives in an enterprise which many scientific men and ancient mariners declared to be impracticable. Before her departure, however, an adroit scheme was devised in other quarters to deprive the city of the credit which was undoubtedly due to its undertaking. A large steamer called the Sirius, usually plying between London and Cork, was despatched under Liverpool orders from the Thames to the Irish port, whence, after receiving a fresh store of fuel, she left for New York on the 4th April, having a start over the Great Western of four days and over 250 miles. Notwithstanding those advantages, the race was very close. The Sirius arrived at Sandyhook at midnight on the 22nd April, but being unable to proceed further until she had obtained coal, she did not reach New York until midday on the 23rd. The Great Western arrived two hours later, with eighty tons of coal on board. The result of the experiment had been awaited with intense interest in America; and both vessels were greeted with characteristic enthusiasm


by the New Yorkers. The superiority of the Bristol ship was manifest, and it was again attested by the return voyage. The Sirius left on the 1st May and reached England on the 18th. The Great Western with sixty-six passengers and 20,000 letters, started on the 7th May in the presence of 100,000 spectators, and arrived at Bristol on the 22nd, having solved the great problem in spite of winds, waves, and philosophers. Instead of consuming 1,480 tons of coal, the minimum fixed by scientific calculators, the engines had required only 892 tons on the return journey. The second voyage was still more satisfactory, the outward passage being made in fourteen days sixteen hours, and the homeward run in twelve days fourteen hours.[55] The practicability of steam navigation across the Atlantic being triumphantly established, the policy which should have been adopted by the Bristol company seems now obvious. Three or four additional vessels of the Great Western type, rapidly placed on the line, would have enabled the concern to establish a weekly service between this port and New York, and the passenger traffic between the two continents would unquestionably have flowed towards the route which was not only first established but which was shorter than that of Liverpool by little less than a day. The merchants of the Mersey were not long in perceiving the danger; and the construction of a fleet of steamers fitted for a regular service was ordered by Mr. Cunard and his friends during the autumn. It was not until late in the following year that anything was resolved upon at Bristol to supplement the Great Western. And the step at length taken was as imprudent as it was tardy. In lieu of pushing forward two or three more Great Westerns, it was determined, to use a homely proverb, to put all the company's eggs into one basket - to build, in fact, a single ship nearly three times the capacity of the Great Western, and to leave Mr. Brunel full scope and leisure to indulge his passion for experiments and novelties. The consequence was a series of disasters. The Great Britain was to be constructed of iron, and as no engineers could be found willing to undertake the task by contract, the company were induced by their scientific guide to establish works of their own - at a cost of £52,000, and with financial results that the sagacious


anticipated. The colossal ship was laid down in July, 1839; at a subsequent date, Mr. Brunel determined that she should be propelled by a screw instead of by paddles; other alterations followed, and it was not until four years later, July, 19th, 1843 - when the Cunard company had long had four steamers on the transatlantic service, besides having two more nearly ready - that the ship was launched. [The ceremony will be noticed hereafter.] By putting the engines into the vessel at the works, it was found, at the end of March, 1844, that the hull was so deeply immersed as to be unable to pass out of the Float, and seven months more elapsed before the requisite alterations could be made for its release. It was not, indeed, until December 11 - nearly seventeen months after launching, and five and a half years after her inception - that the Great Britain left Cumberland basin for an experimental cruise. That she then proved an excellent sea-boat was nothing to the purpose. Liverpool had recovered the supremacy which the Great Western had temporarily shaken, and the competition of Bristol was at an end. The Great Britain's career as an Atlantic steamer was, moreover, prematurely cut short. In September, 1846, a few hours after leaving Liverpool on her second voyage, the great ship stranded on the coast of Ireland, and remained there for over eleven months, which certainly proved the wonderful strength of her frame - if that was any consolation to her luckless proprietors, whose loss by the wreck exceeded £20,000. Their works, as well as the Great Western, had been already offered for sale. The Great Western was ultimately disposed of for £24,750 to the West India Royal Mail Company, and Messrs Gibbs, Bright & Co. bought the Great Britain in 1850 for £18,000, her original cost to the company having been £97,154. Both vessels were sent to ply in the trade of rival ports. In fact, they had been driven from Bristol long before. The dues charged by the Bristol Dock Company on the Great Western amounted to £106 on each voyage (as much more being levied on the cargo), although the ship was forced to remain in Kingroad owing to the defective accommodation in the Floating Harbour, and had even to proceed to Milford for some repairs.[56] The Dock


Board was appealed to for some reduction in its demands, owing to the admitted inadequacy of its works; but the cold response was, that the directors had no power to make abatements. It was then proposed to provide the required accommodation at a lower point in the Avon. A joint committee was formed, representing the Corporation, the Merchant Venturers, and the Steamship Company, and Mr. Brunel, who was called on to advise as to what should be done, suggested a dock at Sea Mills and a pier at Portishead.[57] This, however, would have involved an increase in the capital of the Dock Company, who were not disposed to spend money, and who appear to have thought that the tolls on the Great Western would continue in any case to flow into their coffers. An attempt to secure a reduction of the town dues imposed on the cargo having been also unsuccessful,[58] the proprietors of the steamship resolved in February, 1842, that the vessel should sail alternately from Bristol and Liverpool, and as the expenses at the latter port were found to be less by £200 per voyage, the Great Western was shortly afterwards removed entirely from Bristol, as was the Great Britain from the outset of her career. The fate of the spirited company which started this local enterprise may be imagined from the facts already recorded. The Bristol Journal of February 14, 1852, remarked: “The accounts of the company show some very disastrous results. The whole of the original £100 shares are written off as a total loss. The loss on the Great Britain alone was £107,896, and on the works £47,277”. The Great Western and the Severn (another Bristol built steamer) were sold by the Royal Mail Steamship Company in October, 1856, to a shipbreaker for £11,500.

An official statement was published early in 1836 of the excise duties which had been collected in Bristol during the previous year. The figures, which illustrate not only the fiscal system of the age, but also the industries of the city, were as follows:- spirits, £175,980; soap, £52,304; glass, £47,085; malt, £65,662; bricks, £2,008; paper, £5,660; licences, £13,868; auctions, £3,452.

The popularity of the Great Western Railway scheme, then in coarse of construction, naturally gave rise to a project


for extending the new system westwards. The Bristol and Exeter Railway Company, with a capital of £2,000,000, was started under influential patronage; the shares were quickly taken up; and a Bill for the construction of the undertaking passed both Houses of Parliament without difficulty, receiving the royal assent in May, 1836. The line, like its forerunner, was laid out by Mr. Brunel, who again adopted his pet theory of the broad gauge. The work of construction proceeded very slowly, the board having encountered much difficulty in obtaining the necessary loans. It was indeed at one time seriously discussed “whether it would not be the wisest course to wind up and abandon the undertaking, or, if it should be continued, whether the construction of a single narrow gauge line to Bridgwater was not the extent to which the works could be conducted” (Directors' Report, 1850). The confidence of capitalists was, however, restored by an arrangement made with the Great Western Company, under which the latter advanced £20,000, and undertook to lease and work the line for a term expiring in April, 1849. The first section, between Bristol and Bridgwater, was opened on the 1st June, 1841, amidst much rejoicing in the district. The section to Taunton was completed in July, 1842, and the entire undertaking was finished and opened on the 1st May, 1844. As if to give a new illustration of the unpractical mind of the engineer, the station erected in Bristol was placed at a right angle with the Great Western terminus, occasioning extreme annoyance to through passengers, and great delay. The blunder was partially remedied under an Act passed in 1845, a junction railway being then formed to connect the two lines. This, however, necessitated a third set of booking offices for the through trains - a monument of Mr. Brunel's ingenuity which excited general derision. In 1845, the boards of the two companies came to an arrangement for the absorption of the Bristol and Exeter line into the Great Western system. But the proprietors of the former, who were to receive a dividend of six per cent. in perpetuity, were greatly irritated by the announcement, and when the scheme was laid before them, in November, it was rejected with indignation. The shareholders had reason, however, to regret their decision. When the lease terminated, and the line had to be worked independently, the first year's dividend was only three per cent.; for several years afterwards the distribution did not exceed five per cent.; and, as will be seen hereafter, the concerns were at last amalgamated in 1876 on terms which by no means recouped the shareholders


for the loss they had brought on themselves. It must be added, that throughout its career as an independent concern, the company was complained of for the extreme illiberality of its system of management. So late as September, 1869, only one third-class train was daily run from Exeter to Bristol, while the second-class fare was higher than some companies charged for first-class accommodation; yet at the same time the board carried Bristol excursionists to and from Weston at the rate of about one farthing per mile, declaring that such trains paid “as well as any they had”.

The 21st April, 1836, will long be memorable as the date of the foundation of the most remarkable charity of which the city, and indeed the kingdom, can boast - the great orphan houses at Ashley Down. The story of its author, the Rev. George Müller, has been narrated by himself, and it is unnecessary to enter into it in detail. Born at Kroppenstædt, Prussia, in 1805, and educated at the university of Halle, Mr. Müller came to this country when in his twenty-fourth year, with a desire to labour as a missionary of the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. After studying for some time with a view to fitting himself for the position, he had a serious illness, and was ordered to Devonshire for change of air. There he encountered Henry Craik, an able and earnest minister, with whom he formed a life-long friendship. Beginning to entertain doubts as to the course of life he had fixed upon, Mr. Müller resigned his studentship, and accepted the ministry of an Independent congregation at Teignmouth, with the modest salary of £55 a year. In a short time, however, he felt conscientious scruples about accepting a stipend derived from pew rents, and he thereupon resolved as his role of life to place his entire reliance upon Providence, and “never to ask for money from any human being”. In 1832 he left Devonshire for Bristol, where Mr. Craik had already been favourably received as a preacher, and the two friends laboured together as ministers of Gideon Independent chapel, in Newfoundland Street. Subsequently, Bethesda chapel, near Brandon Hill, was temporarily hired as an experiment, and the results were so satisfactory that it was permanently retained. [In June, 1857, Mr. C.W. Finzel purchased the chapel, and presented it to Messrs. Müller and Craik's congregation.] In 1834 Mr. Müller established a Scriptural Knowledge Institution, the objects of which were to circulate the Scriptures, to promote education amongst the poor, to aid in missionary enterprise, and - most remarkable and successful of its ends - to feed, clothe, and educate destitute orphan


children. Mr. Müller's diary for October, 1835, contained the first notice of the extraordinary undertaking he had resolved upon, for it was his purpose from the outset to ask no help from the public for the immense family he was soon to draw around him. He next recorded that the first donation he received after intimating his purpose was a shilling, which came to hand in December. Soon afterwards a friend undertook to pay £50 for the rent of a house, and nearly £500 were soon forthcoming for fitting it up. The necessary preparations being completed, the orphanage, furnished for thirty female children, was opened on the 21st April, 1836, in the house No. 6, Wilson Street, St. Paul's, near which Mr. Müller resided. Three weeks later the founder resolved upon establishing another orphanage for infants, and this was opened on the 15th December following, at No. 1, Wilson Street. In October, 1837, a third house in the same street was hired and fitted up as an orphanage for boys, and before the close of that year Mr. Müller had seventy-five young children dependent on him. “ Several more are daily expected. During the last twelvemonth, the expenses have been about £240, and the income about £840”. Seven months later, the fund in hand was reduced to £20, but so far from feeling apprehension, “we have given notice for five children to come in, and purpose to give notice for five more”. The entry characterises the story of the institution for several of its early years, evolving an uninterrupted series of trials and deliverances. Oftentimes there were not funds or stock to provide for twenty-four hours in advance, yet help always came in time; a debt was never contracted; and Mr. Müller neither doubted nor desponded. As time went on, and the phenomenal character of the institution became more widely known, subscriptions from distant places - in fact from all parts of the world - began to flow in. The funds accumulating, a fourth house for girls was opened in the same street in July, 1843. Ordinary dwelling houses were necessarily ill-adapted for Mr. Müller's requirements; and the inhabitants of Wilson Street remonstrated against the inconveniences to which the institutions exposed them. In 1846, accordingly, the philanthropist resolved on building an orphanage large enough to accommodate 300 children. The announcement appears to have alarmed his usual supporters, for scarcely any donations were offered for some time. At length, however, two gifts of £1,000 each came in, and Mr. Müller entered into a contract for the purchase of seven acres of ground at Ashley Hill, the owner of which accepted £120 an


acre out of sympathy with the object. No further pecuniary difficulty was encountered; and in June 1849, when the building was finished at a cost of £14,500, the whole of which, with £500 to boot, had been provided, the children were removed and the houses in Wilson Street abandoned. The housekeeping expenses of the new institution, when it became fully occupied, were £70 per week; and many people condemned the founder for what they termed his rashness and presumption in trusting upon casual gifts for the maintenance of so great an undertaking. In point of fact, the enlarged hospital was scarcely ever threatened with the embarrassments that hung so long over the Wilson Street establishments; and within eighteen months from its opening Mr. Müller determined on the erection of a second and much more spacious building, capable of accommodating seven hundred additional orphans. The estimated cost was about £35,000. Subsequently the plan was extended, and it was determined to erect two new orphanages, one for 400 infants and girls, and the other for 450 girls. The former was begun in 1855, and opened in 1857; the other was finished in 1862. Enormous as had become the responsibilities and expenditure of the institution, Mr. Müller felt an inward conviction that his work was not accomplished; and he next declared his intention to construct two additional houses, to accommodate 900 children, about equally divided between the sexes, and raising the total number of orphans to 2,050. One of these was finished in 1868, and the other in 1870. [Those who are unacquainted with the institution may form an idea of its extent from the following figures, published in 1868, giving the quantity of materials consumed in the construction of the last two orphanages only:- building stone, 36,000 tons; freestone, 15,000 tons; lime and ashes, 14,000 tons; timber, 10,000 tons; deal boarding, 2 acres; paving, 1½ acre; plastering, 10 acres; slating, 2 acres; painting, 4, acres; glazing, ¼ acre; rainwater pipes, 1¾ mile; drain pipes 3 miles.] The total expenditure for buildings had then been raised to about £115,000. The annual cost of the establishment has since been nearly £25,000. The sole conditions of admittance, which have never varied from the outset, are that a child be a legitimate orphan, destitute, and deprived of both parents by death. According to the yearly report published in August, 1886, the amount forwarded to Mr. Müller for the various objects of his Scriptural Knowledge Institution then exceeded £1,086,000, of which about £700,000 were for the orphanages. No debt was ever


incurred on behalf of the charity, which is still, as when its benevolent head began the work, entirely dependent on the liberality of the Christian world. The number of children confided to Mr. Müller had reached 7,294 in May, 1886. The contributors are of all classes. Sometimes a poor person sends a few pence; rich sympathisers occasionally forward from £1,000 to £5,000, and as much as £11,000 have been presented at once. Ostentation, moreover, cannot influence the givers, for their names never appear in print. Mr. Müller relinquished his personal superintendence of the orphanages in 1872, when he delegated his labours to his son-in-law, Mr. Wright.

The population of the city at this date was probably ten or twelve times greater than it had been during the middle ages. Nevertheless the extent of the parochial churchyards had remained practically unaltered, the only addition of any importance being the cemetery attached to Trinity Church, St. Philip's; and as only a few Dissenting bodies had made provision for interments, the urgent need of increased space had long been painfully known to all classes. In May, 1836, the Bristol General Cemetery Company, with a capital of £15,000 in £20 shares, was formed tor supplying this want. According to statistics published by the promoters, the area of the existing churchyards, including the sites of the churches, was only fourteen acres. An Act of Parliament having been obtained in 1837, about twenty-eight acres of ground were purchased at Arno's Vale, a moiety of which was laid out as a cemetery, and a portion was consecrated in October, 1840. The entire cost was £16,887. Owing to a clause inserted in the Company's Act through the interference of Bishop Monk, a fee of ten shillings was reserved to the clergy of the city on each body interred in the consecrated portion of the ground. As this cost doubled the charge on every simple interment, its effect was almost prohibitive. The number of burials in 1842 was only twenty-five, and the average for the first seven years was under 100. The closing of the city churchyards under the Health of Towns Act, however, wrought a complete change in the position of the company. In 1860 the remaining half of the land was included in the cemetery, and as this was rapidly appropriated, an Act for obtaining additional ground was obtained in 1880.

The reorganisation of the Established Church, with a view to the better application of its revenues to the altered conditions of society, was another of the great questions which were pressed upon the reformed House of Commons


by the constituencies. Amongst the defects most urgently demanding amendment were the anomalous incomes and position of the English sees. The Bishop of Durham, with the supervision of two thinly populated counties, had an income of about £21,000 a year, besides extensive and valuable patronage. The bishopric of London was worth £15,000, and the bishopric of Ely £11,000 a year, to say nothing of the opportunities they afforded to their occupants of enriching relatives and friends. On the other hand, the sees of Bristol, Carlisle, and Gloucester were endowed with only about £2,200 apiece, while the Bishop of Rochester had only £1,500, and the Bishop of Llandaff barely £900. The diocese of York, again, contained a population of nearly a million and a half, and that of Chester nearly two millions; while Ely, with its excessive wealth, embraced only 126,000 souls, and several others had less than 200,000. In March, 1836, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to whom those gigantic anomalies had been referred with a view to legislation, recommended, amongst other matters, a rearrangement of dioceses and the creation of two new bishoprics - Manchester and Ripon - for the supervision of the swarming population of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It was, however, one of the cherished theories of the Churchmen of that age that every bishop must be a member of the House of Peers; and as the feeling of the popular chamber was known to be decidedly hostile to the increase of the ecclesiastical lords, the Commissioners proposed to avoid the difficulty by suppressing two of the old sees. The diocese of Bristol, it was suggested, might be conveniently amalgamated with that of Llandaff (or, as it was subsequently proposed, with Wells), while Bangor could be united with St. Asaph. A few months later, a further report recommended the blending of the sees of Bristol and Gloucester, and in despite of several local protests the plan was forthwith sanctioned. A death which unluckily occurred in the episcopal body allowed the Commissioners' scheme to be carried out without delay. Dr. Allen, appointed Bishop of Bristol in 1834, on the death of Dr. Gray, was transferred to the vacant see of Ely, whereupon Dr. Monk, Bishop of Gloucester, added the archdeaconry of Bristol to his former diocese under the direction of an Order in Council of the 17th October, 1836 - the county of Dorset, the remaining part of the diocese of Bristol, being added to Salisbury. [About the same time the prebendaries of Bristol - thenceforth styled canons - were ordered to be reduced from six to four, but the existing functionaries retained their places for life or


until they received promotion.] The episcopal arrangement was loudly condemned by Churchmen in Bristol, and, being regarded as a slur on the dignity of the city, it was far from approved by many Dissenters. To soften the blow, an implied promise was made that Bishop Monk and his successors should reside in or near Bristol during a part of each year; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took measures for providing the bishop with a second palace for that purpose. Stapleton House, the property of Isaac Elton, Esq., with about sixty acres of adjoining land, was eventually selected as the most convenient and desirable site, and the estate was purchased in April, 1840, for £11,500. Towards the payment of the purchase money the Commissioners had £6,000 paid by the citizens in compensation for the palace burned during the riots, and £1,450 more obtained in 1837 by selling the site and garden of the ruined edifice.[59] The charge incurred for the new residence might therefore have been inconsiderable. But the Commissioners, whose reckless profusion in reference to episcopal palaces was frequently criticised in the House of Commons, were not content to make the modest alterations suggested by Bishop Monk, the cost of which need not have exceeded £3,000; and in spite of his lordship's remonstrances they set about a wholesale reconstruction, designed by their London architect, who rapidly raised the total expenditure on the mansion to £28,908.[60] To put a climax to their extravagance, it was resolved, on the death of Dr. Monk, to rebuild the palace at Gloucester, on which £14,411 were soon afterwards squandered. The latter transaction was sought to be veiled by a so-called economy, - the abandonment and sale of the palace at Stapleton, in defiance of the promises that had been held out to the citizens of Bristol. After standing for many years unoccupied, Stapleton House, with the land, was sold in October, 1858, to the trustees of Colston's School for £12,000 - almost exactly half its cost. The steps recently taken for the restoration of the bishopric will be recorded hereafter.

The sixth annual congress of the British Association was held in Bristol in August, when upwards of 1,100 members took part in the proceedings. The sections into which the


Association was divided were accommodated as follows: Mathematics (President, Professor Whewell), in the Merchants' Hall. Chemistry (Professor Gumming), Grammar School. Geography and Geology (Dr. Buckland), Institution. Zoology (Professor Henslow), and Botany (Dr. Roget), Colston's School. Statistics (Sir Charles Lemon) Cathedral Chapter House. Mechanics (Mr. Davies Gilbert) Merchants' Hall. Amongst the crowd of distinguished men present were the Marquis of Northampton (who presided in the absence of the Marquis of Lansdowne), Lord King, Sir David Brewster, Sir John Bennie, Sir W. Hamilton, and Messrs Faraday, Sedgwick, Murchison, Wheatstone, De la Beche, Hallam, Cubitt, Lubbock, Fox Talbot, Brunel, and the poets Moore and Bowles. The general committee met in the Chapter House, and reunions took place nightly at the theatre. The meeting was especially interesting to geologists, owing to the extensive cuttings made in the district for the construction of the Great Western railway. Another prominent feature of the proceedings was the laying, by the President, of the foundation stone of the south pier of the Suspension Bridge. In order that this ceremony might not interfere with the work of the sections, it took place at the unusual hour of seven in the morning. The “wise week” of 1836 is now chiefly memorable for an unlucky prediction, uttered by Dr. Lardner in the course of a lecture at the Institution on the subject of steam communication with America. The lecturer and his audience were aware that a few enterprising Bristolians were building a steam vessel in the hope of establishing a more rapid system of transit between the two continents. The learned doctor, however, contended that such an enterprise was “Quixotic”, and produced voluminous calculations to show that “2,080 miles was the longest run a steamer could encounter; at the end of that distance she would require a relay of coal”. At the conclusion of the discourse, Mr. Brunel, the designer of the new ship, briefly observed that the lecturer had founded his conclusions upon the performances of old vessels; but the Doctor was not to be shaken from opinions which he had repeatedly affirmed in his “Encyclopædia” and elsewhere. In December of the previous year he had lectured on the subject at Liverpool, where he affirmed that the project of direct steam intercourse between that port and New York was “perfectly chimerical; they might as well talk of making a voyage from New York or Liverpool to the moon”. Some half dozen years afterwards. Dr. Lardner proceeded to the United States by the


system of navigation he had deemed practically impossible, He had previously admitted his mistake by urging the establishment of steam communication with India.

Amongst the local papers read during the above congress was one on education, by Mr. C.B. Fripp, which records some noteworthy statistics. Mr. Fripp showed, that while the population of the city was over 112,000, of whom 20,000 ought to be attending school, the actual number receiving instruction in Bristol was only about 5,200. In 1882, when the population had not quite doubled, the number of children on the school registers was 30,000, and the average attendance 22,170.

One of the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act having transferred the judgeship of the court of quarter sessions and of the local courts of record to the Recorder, Sir Charles Wetherell in his new capacity opened the ancient Court of Piepoudre according to ancient forms, in the Old Market, at the time of the September fair. According to immemorial precedent, toast, cheese, and metheglin were provided for the entertainment of the official staff and their friends, beer and cider being also distributed to the commonalty. The scene was, as usual, a disorderly one, a portion of the victuals and liquor being thrown about in a roisterous way amongst the populace. Sir Charles Wetherell, however, maintained his gravest demeanour on the occasion, having previously ordered that all the old customs of the court should be strictly maintained. The summoning of a long roll of people “to come forth and do suit and service” - although they had been dead for centuries - was another farce of this ancient tribunal; but Sir Charles never relaxed a muscle when, in reply to the clerk, he declined to fine the defaulters for non-attendance, seeing that, as he was informed, they could not be found. The yearly disturbance arising from the feast ultimately led to its suppression, and the holding of the court was discontinued after 1870.

During the parliamentary contest over the Municipal Corporations Bill, it was found impossible to make arrangements for the future administration of the charity estates which the old corporations, in their capacity of trustees, were alleged to have abused for political purposes. Towards the end of the conflict between the two Houses, it was accordingly determined to insert a clause in the Act leaving the charities in the hands of their former governors until August, 1836, after which date, if Parliament had not otherwise directed, new trustees were to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor


on petitions from each locality. In the session of 1836 a Bill was brought in for the administration of the charities by boards chosen by popular election, but this proposal was not unjustly condemned by the Conservatives as highly objectionable, and it was rejected by the House of Lords. As the Ministry refused to assent to the request of the Tory peers for a further delay of a year, the Lord Chancellor became entitled to exercise his jurisdiction. Some Liberal members of the Bristol Council thereupon petitioned his lordship for the creation of a board of trustees, composed of eighteen members, half of whom, it was suggested, should be Conservatives. The proposal was approved at a meeting of the Council in September, and the names of nine Tories and nine Liberals were forwarded to the Chancellor. At another meeting, a week later, it was reported that the Master in Chancery to whom the case had been referred wished the board to consist of an uneven number of trustees, whereupon the promoters of the trust requested the Conservatives to increase the names on their list from nine to ten, stating that they should themselves select eleven. Most of the Tories who had been nominated were greatly offended at their party being refused predominance in the trust, and requested that their names should be withdrawn. Other members of the majority, still more irritated, flung aside the dictates of prudence, and a resolution was angrily passed, at the instance of Mr. Pinney, by which the Council refused to take any further steps in the formation of a charity board. In consequence of this unfortunate resolution the matter was thrown entirely into the hands of the Liberals, and the desire of the latter party to avenge their treatment at the aldermanic election prompted them to a policy as indefensible as was that of their opponents. Another petition to the Chancellor was forwarded by Mr. R. Ash and Mr. G.E. Sanders, and in October, 1836, his lordship confirmed the appointment of the gentlemen they had nominated, namely: Richard Ash, George Bengough, Samuel Brown, Thomas Carlisle, Michael H. Castle, James Cunningham, Thomas Davies, Robert Fiske, Charles Bowles Fripp, John Kerle Haberfield, William Harwood, William Herapath, Thomas Powell, George E. Sanders, John Savage, Richard Smith, W.P. Taunton, George Thomas, William Tothill, Harman Visger, and James Wood. Only three of those gentlemen - Messrs. Haberfield, Smith, and Savage - were Conservatives, against eighteen Liberals, a disproportion obviously inequitable in every point of view. The board lost no time in entering upon its work; Mr. James Cunningham being


appointed chairman, and Mr. T.J. Manchee (the compiler of a useful work on Bristol charities) secretary. Inquiries were forthwith set on foot with reference to the estates and accounts of the various charities; and the results soon threw a singular light on the asserted honest and faithful administration of the old corporate body. The manipulation of the funds of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital by the Common Council had provoked some strong reflections from the Royal Commissioners. But those officials, it was now discovered, had been allowed a very imperfect acquaintance with the true facts of the case. In the year 1767 the boys of the hospital, then located in a stately house in Orchard Street, erected at the expense of Colston and other benevolent citizens, were transferred to inconvenient and unhealthy premises in Christmas Street, previously appropriated to the Grammar School. The pretext for this transfer was, that the Orchard Street school would accommodate “twice the number of young gentlemen” who attended in Christmas Street; but the real motive of the change - as has been already shown at page 46 - was to give a better and more fashionable domicile to the head-master of the Grammar School, who had married the daughter of an influential alderman. Not content with depriving the charity of its “stately house”, the Corporation proceeded to acts still more unjustifiable. For some years previous to the above transfer, the Common Council had been spending more than its income, and money had been borrowed from the hospital funds to supply the deficiency; “seals” (bonds) to the total amount of £4,715 being outstanding in 1771. The Corporation paid no interest on this debt, as it ought to have done. On the contrary, it being convenient to make the most of so productive a milch cow, the boys in the hospital were reduced from forty-eight to forty, in order to liberate a larger portion of the yearly income. Matters proceeded in this way until 1781, when the Corporation was in serious pecuniary embarrassment, and owed the hospital £2,400 for interest alone. The difficulty was surmounted by the ingenuity of Alderman Harris, at whose instigation the Common Council resolved on a financial masterstroke. When the hospital was established, the Corporation, to further the designs of its benevolent founder, made certain gifts, amounting to £8,000, towards the work - claiming the praise of Queen Elizabeth for the munificent spirit which had actuated them. Alderman Harris's device - cordially approved by his colleagues - was to treat those gifts as loans, and to charge the hospital compound interest


on the so-called debt, at rates varying from ten to five per cent, per annum. The result of this operation was to bring the charity under enormous liabilities; and the corporate body thereupon quashed the “seals” due to the hospital, together with the arrears of interest, and ordered the scholars to be reduced to thirty-six. As all the proceedings of the Corporation were transacted in private and under an oath of secrecy, nothing was publicly known of this financial legerdemain until the Charity Commissioners examined the accounts in 1821. The Corporation then unblushingly asserted that the hospital was indebted to their treasury in the sum of £46,499. Such were the facts which the Charity Trustees had to deal with. It was impossible to restore the ancient schoolhouse to the charity, since an Act of Parliament had been astutely obtained to legalise the transfer; but the manipulation of the funds admitted of different treatment. A skilful accountant, Mr. Joshua Jones, made a thorough examination of the civic accounts on behalf of the trustees, and he eventually reported, in October, 1837, that, so far from the hospital being hugely indebted to the city, as was still contended at the Council House, the Corporation owed the charity a capital sum of £57,916, which, if simple interest were added at the rates charged by the Common Council on their fictitious claim, would be increased to £240,569. The Council had also engaged an accountant, Mr. Fletcher, and that gentleman produced his version of the facts in February, 1839, asserting that £21,000 were due to his clients. This calculation, however, appears to have been universally discredited. Various abortive efforts were made to effect a compromise, during which the local newspaper which had at first ridiculed as a “mare's nest” the claim of the trustees, began to violently assail them for endeavouring to “ruin the ratepayers”. The trustees having at length commenced proceedings in the Court of Chancery, some influential members of the Council, warned by legal advisers of the hopelessness of the defence, entered into private negotiations with the plaintiffs, who made large concessions, and the matter was finally arranged in January, 1842. The basis of the agreement was that - in this as in other cases - the property belonging to the charity should be surrendered by the Corporation, which should also refund the revenue received subsequent to the Municipal Reform Act coming into operation. As regarded this hospital, the Common Council paid off the old bonds for £4,715 already referred to, with interest from January, 1836, and returned £1,200


received from rents; two crown-rents amounting to £61 3s. 5d. per annum were surrendered; and “Alderman Barker's gift” of £103, with several years' arrears, was refunded. In all, £7,174, and crown-rents of a capital value of £1,500 were returned to the charity. During the later days of the management of the old Corporation the number of boys in the school was forty-two. The trustees at once increased the number to 120, and afterwards augmented it to 220. - Another dispute arose between the Council and the trustees with reference to the Bartholomew Lands, which the latter body held to be the property of the Grammar School. It appears from the minutes of the Common Council that on the 15th September, 1814, it was resolved that the rental of an estate at Brislington, part of the Bartholomew Lands, and previously carried into the city chest, should be thenceforth transferred to Foster's Almshouse, to which the property was held to belong. In July, 1827, however, an alderman, emulous of the fame of Mr. Harris, moved for a committee to investigate the title of the entire estate. This body, of whom the alderman in question was the guiding spirit, having produced a report “after careful investigation”, asserting in effect that the Bartholomew Lands vested absolutely in the Corporation, subject to a small payment to the Grammar School, the Council, in December, 1827, again inspired by the alderman aforesaid, declared the resolution of 1814 to be rescinded, and decreed the funds in hand (about £4,000) to be the sole property of the Corporation. It must now be added that the prime mover in this transaction was Mr. Alderman Fripp (jun.), who testified before the House of Lords in 1835 that the Corporation had piously, honourably, and discreetly administered the charities which had been confided to its control. The Charity Trustees, in 1837, commenced a legal suit for the recovery of the estate; and after lengthy proceedings in Chancery, that court, in January, 1842, with the consent of the defendants, gave judgment in favour of the trustees. The Council accordingly surrendered the property, and returned about £1,260, being the mesne profits from January, 1836, with interest. - Another and more remarkable litigation arose out of what was known as “Codrington's gift” to Trinity Hospital. Previous to the year 1572, Francis Codrington (sheriff in 1544) bequeathed £50 to his friend and fellow merchant, William Carr, requesting him to invest the money in land, and to apply the profits to maintaining the bedding in Barstaple's (Trinity) Hospital, which then provided entertainment for poor travellers. In pursuance of


this bequest, Carr purchased nearly 210 acres of land at Portishead for £48, and soon after leased the estate for 1,000 years to the Corporation of Bristol, upon trust that the lessees would devote the entire receipts arising therefrom to the maintenance of the hospital. This trust was fulfilled for some forty years. But about 1616 the Corporation bought a large estate at Portishead on its own account, and thenceforward appropriated the rents of the whole property, Codrington's gift included. The malfeasance escaped the notice of the Charity Commissioners in 1820; and it was not until the misappropriation had continued for nearly two centuries and a quarter that the Charity Trustees discovered the facts. The Codrington estate then yielded over £200 a year. Application for relief was made to the Court of Chancery, which - by consent of the litigants - ordered the property to be transferred to the Charity Trustees, its legal owners; £708 being refunded in the shape of arrears. In all the above cases, the vast misappropriations of the old Corporation, which certainly exceeded a quarter of a million sterling, including interest, were condoned in the interest of the rate-payers, who had possessed no control over the Common Council, and who reasonably protested against being victimised for its misdeeds. Still another case remains to be noticed. In 1553 Dr. George Owen granted certain lands in Redcliff and other parts of the city to the Corporation, in order to increase the number of inmates in Foster's Almshouse by ten poor men, the cost being estimated by the donor at £15 3s. per annum. In course of time the property in question greatly increased in value; but in order to diminish the yearly proceeds it became the custom of the Common Council to grant leases upon lives at very low annual rents, while the fines on renewals, which were proportionably large, were coolly carried to the corporate treasury. This estate was also claimed through the Court of Chancery by the Charity Trustees, and after a struggle the Council consented to yield up the entire property (estimated to be worth £1,200 a year after the leases had expired), and also paid over arrears from 1836, amounting to £1,027. [By a scheme confirmed by Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst in 1843, five-sixths of Owen's estate were applied to the use of the Grammar School, and the remainder to the support of Foster's Almshouse.] This brief summary of the proceedings of the Charity Trustees during the early years of their existence will suffice to show the true character of that system of charity administration which was described by Alderman


Fripp in his evidence before the House of Lords as wholly irreproachable. It is needless to state that the members of the reformed body did no more than their duty in defending the interests committed to their charge. The proposal for a compromise of the disputes on the terms actually adopted was informally made by the Charity Trustees about the close of 1841, when the Council applied to Sir Charles Wetherell for his advice upon the subject. The recorder having on the 5th January following, recommended the acceptance of the proposal, the corporate committee who had charge of the matter recommended the Council to sanction the arrangement, which “would terminate a painful and irritating litigation, and would in its results relieve the inhabitants not only from the expenditure attending its continuance, but also the risk of a much larger pecuniary sacrifice”. A resolution adopting this report was formally passed by the Council on the 12th January, 1842, and was confirmed by the Lord Chancellor in a judgment delivered on the 27th of the same month. By the decree of the latter, the Corporation retained the management of the “gifts” left by the following persons - chiefly for sermons or church poor: Thomasine Harrington, Alderman Long, - Powell or Powl, - Silk, - Wheatley, W. Spencer, W. Carr, Lady Rogers, J. Bagod, M. Brown, P. Matthews, Sir J. Young, - Fownes, J. Griffin, W. Gibbs, and E. Cross; also “the Mayor's gift”. After all the disputes had been settled, the Charity Trustees passed a vote of thanks to their solicitor, Mr. Meshach Brittan, to whose unwearied zeal and judicious counsel the recovery of the funds was largely due. In 1851, when the number of trustees had been much diminished by death, the political majority in the Council, who had long repented of their hasty action in 1836, petitioned the Lord Chancellor to appoint nine new members, all the persons suggested to him being Conservatives. The Liberal majority of the trustees - to prove, perhaps, that wrongheadedness was not peculiar to any political party - applied to be recruited by gentlemen from their own camp. In the following year, Lord St. Leonards, implying a rebuke to both sides, selected four names from the Council's list, and five from that of the trustees. This reconstruction of the board put an end to the charges of party animus which had been frequently, though groundlessly, made against the trust by exasperated party writers.

The last local duel of which any record has been found in the newspapers was fought on the 24th January, 1837, upon Durdham Down. The antagonists are described as “a


gentleman of the Hotwells, and a foreigner residing in this neighbourhood”. After an exchange of shots, the seconds succeeded in effecting an arrangement.

The manufacture of cotton cloth was established in Bristol in 1793, when about 250 hands were employed in a factory in Temple Street. The price of the poorly-printed goods intended for ladies' dress was at that time about four shillings a yard. In the Bristol Journal of July 6, 1805, “a capital cotton manufactory in Temple Street carried on for several years past” was advertised to be let. There were seventy looms on the premises, and the advertiser added: “There is a cotton mill and bleaching-field in the neighbourhood, where good twist and weft may be had”. No further mention has been found of this establishment, and it was probably discontinued. In 1835 another attempt was made to add cotton-spinning to the industries of the city, a cotton twist and cloth company being proposed, with a capital of £200,000. The scheme was abandoned, owing to insufficient support; but in the spring of 1837, a party of ten influential gentlemen, in conjunction with a Mr. G.B. Clarke, of Manchester, started a private company under the style of Clarke, Acramans, Maze & Co. A little later, this concern merged into a joint-stock adventure, and assumed the name of the Great Western Cotton Company. A piece of land having been purchased at Barton Hill, the foundation stone of the intended factory was laid on the 18th April, 1837. A twelvemonth later a fête took place on the completion of the building. The first piece of cotton manufactured by the company was presented to the mayor (Mr. Haberfield) in January, 1839. The company, which had been already once or twice reorganised owing to the death of its proprietors - always a limited number - was again reconstructed in the spring of 1885, when the capital was fixed at £100,000 in £20 shares. Mr. [Sir] J.D. Weston became chairman of the new company, in which several wealthy citizens held an interest.

The new Custom House, Queen Square, erected upon the site of the building destroyed during the riots, was opened for business purposes on the 14th March, 1837. During its construction the work of the department had been conducted in a large house in St. Augustine's Place, near Colston's School, once the mansion of the Swymmer family, whose ultimate heiress married Thomas Fane, who about the middle of the eighteenth century was clerk to the Merchant Venturers' Company, but afterwards succeeded to the earldom of Westmoreland. [This fine old house, since demolished for the


formation of Colston Street, contained a quantity of carved oak wainscoting, etc., which was purchased by Mr. W. Carne for beautifying some of the chief rooms in St. Donat's Castle, near Cowbridge.]

The destruction of spring garden produce in 1837 by repeated frosts gave rise to a new trade between Cornwall and this port. Mr. Dupen, master of a steamer plying to and from Hayle, brought on one occasion about fifty Cornish brocoli, which Bristolians eagerly purchased. About fifteen dozen were brought in on his next trip, and sixty dozen in the following week, a portion of the last being sent to Bath, where they were quickly sold. Mr. Dupen carried on the trade for some years, and gave a great impetus to market-gardening in Cornwall. A local journal of March, 1859, in stating that the quantity of brocoli received from that county each spring had swollen to from 30,000 to 40,000 dozen, added: “This week the Cornubia brought 880 baskets, containing from fifteen to eighteen dozen each”.

In April, 1837, the churchwardens of St. Stephen's, exercising the power vested in them by the law, seized part of the furniture of a Mr. Brown, of Queen Square, a respectable Dissenter, on account of his refusal to pay the sum of 9s. demanded for church-rates. The seizure occasioned some excitement, and so large a crowd assembled at the Albion Tavern, Prince's Street, where the property was to be sold, that the auctioneer was afraid to proceed. The goods were disposed of privately, however, and the rate, with the costs, was recovered. Church-rates were then levied in nearly all the parishes of the city, and the defeats of dissenting minorities at the annual vestry meetings were invariably reported in the Bristol Journal as “victories of the Establishment”. A more sagacious view of the matter, however, gradually prevailed. The above case is the latest recorded of an enforced payment by means of bailiffs, and, some years before the law was altered to meet the wishes of Nonconformists, the compulsory system was abandoned in Bristol, except in the parish of St. Augustine's.

The death of William IV. took place on the 20th June. His successor. Queen Victoria, whose majority in the preceding month had caused general rejoicing, was proclaimed in Bristol on the 24th; and the ceremony offered a great contrast to the cold pageants which had marked the accession of the two previous monarchs. Much of the “state” of the old Corporation - including the “knights in armour” - had, indeed, disappeared; but, in addition to the civic


officials, a number of the local clergy and ministers, the magistrates, the Charity Trustees, and many respectable inhabitants joined in the procession, much sympathy being felt for one called to the cares of sovereignty at so early an age. It must be added in the interests of truth, that the attachment of the people to the monarchy had been rudely shaken by the experience of the previous quarter of a century; and the opinion expressed about this time by Sir Robert Peel, that the throne was visibly hastening to its fall, denoted the critical condition of the public mind. Chartism, which really meant republicanism, had many supporters amongst the working classes in Bristol, but there was little open manifestation of hostility during the proceedings of the day. Proclamation was made at the seven accustomed places from a car drawn by grey horses, the red cloth-covered rostrum of Georgian days being superseded.

At the general election in July, caused by the demise of the king, the two Conservative members of the previous Parliament retired into private life - Mr. Miles on the ground of his advanced age; Sir Richard Vyvyan from his disgust at the attitude of the leaders of his party, who in his opinion were pusillanimously truckling to new-fangled principles and ideas. The local heads of Conservatism nominated in their room Mr. Philip W.S. Miles, a youthful son of the late senior member, and Mr. William Fripp, an ex-alderman of the old Corporation, and first mayor under the Municipal Reform Act. The Liberal party selected the Hon. Francis Henry P. Berkeley. After an exciting contest, the poll was declared on the 25th July, as follows: Mr. Miles, 3,838; Mr. Berkeley, 3,812; Mr. Fripp, 8,156. In lieu of the old ceremony of chairing, the Liberals celebrated their victory by a procession of the trades of the city, in which some thousands of artisans took part. A petition against the return of Mr. Berkeley was presented on behalf of the defeated candidate. It alleged extensive bribery and treating, and further affirmed that certain agents of Mr. Berkeley, being also Charity Trustees, had been openly guilty of corruption and undue influence, by giving or promising charity gifts in order to secure votes against Mr. Fripp. On the publication of this document a declaration was made by nineteen out of the twenty-one trustees, including two who had voted for Mr. Fripp, asserting that the charge made against them was “entirely unfounded, calumnious, and false”. The committee of the House of Commons appointed to hear the case assembled in February, 1838. After a three days' hearing


the petition was abandoned, whereupon the chairman of the committee announced that they were unanimously of opinion that nothing had been proved against the Charity Trustees. Concurrently with the proceedings in Parliament, Mr. Fripp's supporters[61] brought actions at law against a number of Mr. Berkeley's friends, to recover penalties for bribery, and the trials took place at the ensuing Gloucester assizes. The juries in three cases having returned verdicts for the defendants, the remaining actions were withdrawn. Shortly afterwards, a woman named Verrier, who had deposed before the Commons' committee to an act of bribery committed by Mr. Berkeley, was tried for perjury, and convicted of the offence. In commenting upon this case, the editor of the Bristol Journal, who had been for some time noted for his acrimonious personal attacks, published gross charges against three of the Charity Trustees. Those gentlemen retorted by instituting actions for libel, and challenged their accuser to prove his assertions. The trials, which took place in July, 1839, resulted in the defendant being cast in damages in each case - for £400, £175, and £150 respectively - with heavy costs. The oldest of the Bristol newspapers, and once the most powerful, never recovered from the blow. It lingered on for several years, but its place was taken by more ably conducted Conservative organs, and on March 26, 1853, after a career of one hundred and one years, Felix Farley's Bristol Journal appeared for the last time.

The Bristol Teetotal Society celebrated its first anniversary in June, 1837. It then boasted of about a thousand members. A Temperance Society, which required a pledge from its adherents to abstain from spirituous liquors, was started about seven years earlier; but “mere temperance”, was bitterly denounced and caricatured by the total abstinence party, and the moderate camp appears to have succumbed under their attacks.

At a meeting held on the 25th November, 1837, it was resolved to form a company, with a capital of £25,000, for the construction of a bridge across the Avon from Temple Back to Queen Street, St. Philip's. The company paid the Corporation £2,157 in compensation for the ferry which had previously occupied the site, the number of passengers over which had been ascertained to be 115,500 per annum. An Act of Parliament to carry out the undertaking having been


obtained in the session of 1838, a temporary bridge was built and opened during the autumn, and 342,000 persons passed over it during the first twelvemonths of its existence. The permanent bridge was opened by the mayor (Mr. G.W. Franklyn) on the 1st December, 1841, It had cost £11,000. The remainder of the company's capital, and a further sum raised by loan, were expended in the purchase of property for, and in the construction of, the approaches. [One of the buildings destroyed was a fine sixteenth century house, which in its later days had been known as the Giant's Castle Inn.] As the new bridge was a great improvement upon the old ferry, the public spirit of the shareholders, who received slender dividends for several years, was much commended by the residents of the neighbourhood. In course of time, however, the halfpenny toll came to be regarded as a grievance, and a movement was started to secure its abolition. The agitation gradually acquired strength, and in consequence of memorials addressed to the Council on the subject, that body, in November, 1873, resolved to enter into negotiations with the proprietors with a view to the purchase of the bridge. Legal difficulties then arose, causing a lengthened delay; but in the closing months of 1874 it was agreed that the Council should lease the property in perpetuity, paying the shareholders a yearly sum equivalent to 6 per cent. on their investments. The Corporation was also to take over the debt (£5,000) on the bridge, and to pay £2,000 to cover compensations, etc. An Act of Parliament having been obtained to sanction this arrangement, the toll on foot-passengers was abolished on the 31st July, 1875. The bridge was shortly afterwards widened at a cost of £5,000.

The first serious disaster in connection with the steamship service between Bristol and Ireland occurred on the 20th January, 1838, when a vessel named the Killarney, whilst on her passage from Cork to this city, struck during a heavy gale upon the Rennie rocks, near Youghal, and became a total wreck. Twenty-nine of the passengers and crew were drowned. The survivors, thirteen in number, succeeded in clinging to the slippery rocks, where they remained for two nights and a day, enduring extreme suffering from cold and hunger, before means for their rescue could be devised. One of the passengers, styling himself Baron Spolasco, published a local pamphlet, narrating the details of the disaster.

The foundation-stone of the Victoria Rooms was laid on the Queen's birthday, May 24th, 1838, by the mayor (Mr. Haberfield). The building - which is the noblest classical


erection in the city, and for the first time provided the inhabitants with spacious and convenient apartments for public entertainments - was built at the expense of a body of Conservative citizens, and cost about £23,000. It was opened on the 24th May, 1842, with a dinner, at which the mayor (Mr. G.W. Franklyn) presided. A fine organ was placed in the large saloon about 1873.

The coronation of the youthful Queen, on the 28th June, was celebrated in Bristol with many demonstrations of joy. On previous occasions the expense of the festivities had been borne by the Corporation. Such an expenditure of public funds was no longer legal, but the voluntary subscriptions of the citizens were largely offered to meet the outlay, and the rejoicing was all the more genuine inasmuch as it was entirely spontaneous. At noon an imposing procession started from the Council House for the cathedral, headed by a troop of the North Somerset Yeomanry, a “champion” on horseback accoutred in full armour, and the boys of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital. Then followed the officers of the Corporation, the mayor and members of the Council, the foreign consuls, the local clergy and Dissenting ministers, the boys of Colston's School, the master and members of the Merchants' Society, the governor and members of the Incorporation of the Poor, the parochial officials, the Freemasons, and finally the workmen of the various trades, with banners, devices and emblems, etc., of their crafts. Two more “knights in armour” were strange fish in these modern waters, but they at least lent variety to the interesting pageant, the concluding divisions of which consisted of the members of the principal benefit societies, the firemen, and a troop of Gloucestershire Yeomanry. The procession passed through all the chief thoroughfares of the ancient city. So great was its length that its two extremities encountered each other in Dolphin Street, the main body then occupying Peter Street, Castle Street, Lower Castle Street, the Broadweir, Merchant Street, Broadmead, and Union Street. Whilst the members of the Corporation attended service at the cathedral, the procession passed up Park Street, Berkeley Square, etc., and then returned to the Council House, where it separated. Various public dinners were held in the afternoon, and the festivities concluded with a general illumination.

At a meeting of the Council on the 16th July, 1838, the fair annually held in St. James's Churchyard in the month of September, as well as the March fair held in Temple Street, was abolished; and fairs for the sale of live stock


exclusively were ordered to be held in the cattle market on the two first days of March and September. The decree put an end to saturnalia of which but a faint conception can be formed in our times. That St. James's fair in the seventeenth century had been very extensively resorted to is proved by a letter of the Mayor of Penzance, forwarded to the Grovemment in 1636, stating that twelve Turkish men of war, bearing English colours, were lurking in St. George's Channel to capture travellers to the fair. In the same year the Corporation of Bristol wrote to the Privy Council, pointing out that the manufacture of goods for the fair was being carried on in parts of London then infected with the plague. Obtaining no protection from this danger, the Corporation resolved to prohibit the entry of the perilous commodities, whereupon the wholesale traders of London also appealed to the Government, declaring that they - “drapers, skinners, leather sellers, and upholsterers” - yearly turned over “many thousand pounds” at the fair, and had “the chief part of their estates owing them by chapmen who meet nowhere else but at Bristol”. The local inhibition was thereupon quashed. According to an official report to the Admiralty, a royal ship had “convoyed all the vessels from Bristol fair to Tenby and Milford”, in 1657; and ten years later a Government official at Bridgwater reported that the Channel had been in great danger from French pickaroons, but two of the king's frigates had scared them. “It was feared they would have done mischief at Bristol fair”. Down even to the close of the first quarter of the present century, the influx of wares and merchandise from all parts of the kingdom was astonishing, having regard to the defective means of communication. Blankets and woollens from Yorkshire, silks from Macclesfield, linens from Belfast and Lancashire, carpets from Kidderminster, cutlery from Sheffield, hardware from Walsall and Wolverhampton, china and earthenware from Staffordshire and other counties, cotton stockings from Tewkesbury, lace from Buckinghamshire and Devon, trinkets from Birmingham and London, ribbons from Coventry, buck and hog skins for breeches, hats and caps, millinery, haberdashery, female ornaments, sweetmeats, and multitudinous toys from various quarters arrived in heavily-laden wagons, and were joined by equally large contributions from the chief industries of the district. To these again were added nearly all the travelling exhibitions and entertainments then in the country - menageries, circuses, theatres, puppet shows, waxworks, flying coaches, rope-dancers, acrobats, conjurors, pig-faced ladies, living


skeletons, and mummers of all sorts, who attracted patronage by raising a fearful din. It need scarcely be added that the scene attracted a too-plentiful supply of pickpockets, thieves, thimble-riggers, and swindlers of every genus. To make purchases or to gratify curiosity, the population of the surrounding district, from the family of the Duke of Beaufort down to the children of the Kingswood colliers, thronged into the city, and from early morning until late in the evening the alleys between the stalls and standing-places (which, being built and covered with wood, took a month in construction) presented a busy and often an amusing scene. As time went on, the places of business rapidly diminished, while the shows, entertainments, and general disorder increased; and as liquor was sold at a number of “bush” [unlicensed] houses, the fair, which by charter lasted nine days, but was generally permitted to continue a fortnight, became a centre of corruption and demoralisation. Strong vested interests were long, however, arrayed in support of the nuisance. About 1813 Mr. E.B. Pripp, then a vestryman of the parish, made an effort for its suppression, he and his friends offering £8,000 to the vestry as a compensation for the loss of tolls; but the receipts were so large that the proposal was contemptuously rejected. In 1837, when the “foreign” tradesmen had dwindled to less than a dozen, and the tolls scarcely defrayed the cost of erecting standings, the vestry gladly listened to terms; and Mr. George Thomas, one of the Quaker founders of the General Hospital, was largely instrumental in effecting an arrangement, having, with the aid of a few friends, raised a sum of about £1,000 for laying out the ground for a hay and coal market, and for compensating the vestry. The Corporation thereupon took a lease for ninety-nine years, at a rent of £150 per annum, of the open plot to the south of the churchyard. To this place, in May, 1841, the hay market was removed from Broadmead. The attempt to establish a coal market on the spot seems to have failed from the outset.

Up to this time, owing to the post office authorities measuring the distance between Bristol and London by way of Bath, the postage of what was called a “single” letter - that is, a single sheet of letter paper without envelope or enclosure - from or to the capital, was tenpence. In September, 1838, however, the officials discovered that the distance of Bristol from London by way of Marshfield was not over, but under, 120 miles, and the single letter postage was consequently reduced to ninepence. A letter enclosing a slip of paper,


such as a cheque, was charged 1s. 6d., one enclosing two cheques, 2s. 3d.; more numerous enclosures, not exceeding an ounce in weight, 3s. A system of penny postage for letters and small packets had been established for some years between the city and a few of the neighbouring villages, but the arrangement was of a very arbitrary character. For example, although Oakhill and Axbridge were each eighteen miles from Bristol, the charge for a four ounce packet to the former place was a penny, while to the more important town the postage was 6s. 8d. During the session of 1839, Lord Melbourne's Ministry succeeded in passing an Act for carrying out the penny postal scheme of Mr. Rowland Hill; and in December a uniform charge of fourpence per half-ounce came into force as regarded all letters on which the postage had previously exceeded threepence. In the following January the rate was reduced to a penny per half ounce. The new system was strongly condemned by the political opponents of the Cabinet. The Bristol Journal of December 7, 1839, feared that “this new plan of Whig Reform will be a more serious evil to the country than even any one of their more flagrant jobs”. On the first adhesive stamp (printed in black ink) and the first envelope coming into use in the following year, the same paper of May 16 said: “Fortunately those who send letters have still the option of prepayment, and are not obliged to use the contemptible cover or black patch which the (government have been asses enough to sanction. Both patch and envelope are beneath criticism. How long is the revenue of this once powerful country to be entrusted to the hands of the nincompoops who are now wasting it ?rdquo; The actual results of Mr. Hill's scheme, so far as regards Bristol, will be shown later on. The editor's shortsightedness was, however, pardonable, seeing that the heads of the postal service in London predicted the certain failure of the cheap system. [In 1844 a “national testimonial” to Rowland Hill was started, and resulted in a subscription of about £13,000. The sum contributed in Bristol was £292.]

On the 16th December, in conformity with a decision of the ecclesiastical tribunal of the diocese, two persons, living in Pomphrey's Court, Christmas Street, performed penance in the vestry room of St. John's Church, between the hours of morning and evening service. The punishment inflicted was the result of a cross suit between the parties in the above court.

A new survey of the city took place towards the close of


the year, when the rateable value of the various districts was assessed as follows: “Ancient city”, £213,818; Clifton, £69,822; St, Philip's, out, £36,364; District, £20,310; part of Westbury, £10,467; part of Bedminster, £28,005.

Much discontent, arising largely from the depressed state of trade, prevailed amongst the working classes at this time, and Chartism had many followers in Bristol, as in other large towns. On the 26th December a meeting of the party took place on Brandon Hill, when Mr. Feargus O'Connor, a noisy platform orator, made a violent speech. For some months afterwards gatherings took place on the hill almost nightly, and owing to the tumultuous character of the proceedings, and the threats occasionally uttered to resort to physical force, the agitation excited some anxiety amongst the citizens. At length, early in May, 1889, the magistrates issued a circular prohibiting further nocturnal assemblies, and a number of the ratepayers were sworn in as special constables. This action had the desired effect, and, in spite of the unhappy outbreak at Newport in the following November, the peace of the city was undisturbed.

A discovery of some interest in connection with the Roman occupation of this part of the island was made in January, 1839, at Ashton Waters, near Long Ashton, during the excavation of the ground for the Bristol and Exeter railway. The workmen came across the remains of a building, the foundations of which extended for a considerable distance; and a number of coins, including one of Julius Cassar, another of Diocletian, and several of Constantine, were disinterred. Two bronze spoons, a portion of the capitals of two columns, and various broken articles were also found. About the same time the remains of a villa, with a large tesselated pavement, were disinterred near Newton St. Loe.

Although two short sections of the Great Western railway had been opened in 1838, the question of gauge, which from the outset had excited much controversy, had not been definitively settled. On the 9th January, 1839, a great meeting of the proprietors was held in London to consider the reports of two eminent engineers, Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Hawkshaw, and Mr. Nicholas Wood, and to determine the problem on which those gentlemen had been consulted. Mr. Wood, whilst disapproving of Mr. Brunel's seven feet gauge, recommended that, in view of the outlay already incurred, it should be retained. Mr. Hawkshaw, though regretting the narrowness of the north country gauge, decidedly condemned the introduction of another, on the


ground that it would be a serious impediment to the working and development of the railway system of the country. The directors, in a report commenting upon the objections of the two engineers, declared them to have “little weight”, and the shareholders were confidently assured that Mr. Hawkshaw's assertions would prove groundless. A member of the board having moved that Mr. Brunel's system be adhered to, an amendment was proposed condemning it as wasteful and injudicious; but the result of the voting was in favour of the original motion by a majority of 7,792 against 6,145. The only excuse that can be offered for those who adopted a shortsighted resolution is, that unlimited confidence was placed by many wealthy shareholders in Mr. Brunel's genius. When Mr. George Stephenson was asked about the same time what gauge should be adopted on two lines, one near Leicester and another near Canterbury, he at once pronounced in favour of the system adopted on the Stockton and Darlington and the Manchester and Liverpool railways. “Though they are”, he observed, “a long way apart from each other now, they will be joined together some day”. Brunel, on the other hand, assured the Great Western board that their undertaking “could never have any connection with any other of the main lines”, three or four of which, he felt assured, would suffice for the traffic of the country. This opinion rapidly proved to be a delusion, and the natural effect of the break of gauge was to excite the then existing directorates to fight for the territory which lay between them. A fierce war thus broke out, which lasted for several years, with deplorable consequences to the shareholders. So long as the two gauges were apart, the public of course felt no inconvenience. But in 1844, when the Bristol and Gloucester line (then broad gauge) was opened, it came in contact at the latter city with the Birmingham and Gloucester narrow gauge railway, and whilst through passengers complained of the trouble and loss of time involved in a change of carriages - often in bad weather and in the darkness of the night - the stoppage in the transit of cattle, minerals, and goods through the necessity of unloading and reloading the trucks excited widespread discontent. The merchants of Bristol speedily felt the grievance. Birmingham manufacturers, finding that their wares forwarded for shipment at this port were delayed or mislaid at Gloucester, and that the distance between their factories and Bristol was as difficult of transit as in the days before railways, forwarded their goods to Liverpool or London, where no such difficulty arose. In a lesser degree a similar


impediment to Bristol traffic was experienced at Worcester, Warwick, Rugby, Salisbury, and Dorchester, at each of which places broad gauge wagons came in contact with narrow gauge lines, and could travel no further. In short, the West of England was as completely isolated from other parts of the country as if a river too wide to be bridged lay between it and the rest of the kingdom. And this, according to Mr. Brunel and the Great Western board, was to go on for ever along a boundary line 200 miles in length, running on both sides of the railway. The grievance became the more crying [sic] when Mr. Brunel himself laid out plans for several narrow gauge lines, and the matter at length came to be viewed in commercial circles as a public calamity. At the instance of Mr. Cobden, a royal commission was appointed to consider the subject, and a lengthened inquiry commenced in August, 1845. The result was an overwhelming mass of scientific testimony in condemnation of Mr. Brunel's theory, which had no supporters but himself and two Great Western officials. The Commissioners consequently recommended that the narrow gauge should be used on all future railways, and that some equitable means should be devised for producing an entire uniformity of gauge throughout the kingdom. Parliament practically adopted the first of those suggestions, but it was estimated that the alteration of the Great Western lines would involve an expense of a million sterling, and the legislature, declining to lay any burden upon the public for the reparation of the company's blunder, left the directors to their own devices. The board had in the long run to admit that their favourite theory was deeply injurious to the interests of the shareholders. In August, 1868, it was determined to convert all the broad gauge lines north of Oxford into narrow gauge. In 1871 it was resolved to abandon the broad gauge on the South Wales section of the railway, and to lay the narrow gauge from Didcot to Milford Haven. This was obviously but the beginning of a general change in the western districts. In June, 1874, a similar alteration took place between Bristol and Bath, and towards the end of the same year the narrow system was extended throughout the trunk line, the old gauge being retained for express trains only. The Bristol and Exeter board being then forced to take action, the “mixed gauge” was completed from Bristol to Exeter in May, 1877.

The Royal Western Hotel, College Place, a building of some architectural pretensions, but erected on an ill-chosen site (previously occupied by Reeves's hotel, see p.80), was


opened on the 18th April. A public dinner in celebration of the event took place soon after, the mayor (Mr. Haberfield) presiding. The house, built by Messrs. Rogers, ceased to be an hotel in April, 1855. Some five years later, Turkish baths were fitted up in the building by Mr. Bartholomew.

A gigantic tusk of a mammoth was discovered in June by some workmen engaged in excavating in St. Philip's Marsh. The tusk, which was nearly six feet in length, was forwarded to the museum of the Bristol Institution.

The foundation-stone of a monument dedicated to Chatterton was laid on the 13th November, 1839, in St. Mary Redcliff churchyard.[62] The site chosen was the angle between the tower and the north porch. The statue, which was universally condemned as mean in execution and absurdly diminutive as compared with its pedestal, was erected on the 30th April, 1840. In February, 1846, the vicar of the parish, the Rev. M.R. Whish, whose eccentricities brought him frequently before the public, suddenly gave orders for the removal of the monument, asserting that it had been erected without his sanction. As the reverend gentleman - whose action was applauded by a few contemporary bigots - was omnipotent in his churchyard, the structure was taken down, and disappeared from public view for some years. In July, 1857, however, it was re-erected on the (unconsecrated) spot where it now stands, a few members of the parochial vestry having defrayed the cost of the restoration.

In the course of this year some negotiations took place between the Corporation and the dock directors, with a view to the purchase of the Floating Harbour by the city, and thus to get rid of the shortsighted exactions by which the commerce of the port was weighed down. It was intimated to the dock beard that the Council were prepared to pay interest at the rate of 2¼ per cent. on the share capital if the transfer were effected; but the offer was rejected as inadequate, and the matter was suffered to drop.

About this time the land known to all Bristolians as Mother Pugsley's Field, together with some adjoining plots, was disposed of in sites for building. Pedestrians had enjoyed access from time immemorial to the spring in Pugsley's Field; but, to use the language of a local journalist, Sir Thomas Fremantle, the owner of the land, flourished his title deeds in the face of the public, and nobody had the spirit to defend


the rights of the community. A builder, named Hacker, who purchased part of the property, enclosed the spring - which had a reputation for healing virtues amongst the vulvar - ,for private use at his residence, Spring Villa, Nugent Hill.

Bristol Cathedral was reopened in February, 1840, after undergoing partial “restoration”. The most important alterations were the removal of a large screen in the Greek style erected behind the communion table, and the construction of a richly decorated central recess corresponding with those on each side. No vestige remained of the original decorative work at the back of the altar, so that the arrangement is merely the conception of a modern architect. It would appear from the view of the reredos in the frontispiece to Britten's account of the cathedral, that the renovator took great liberties with the beautiful work of Abbot Knowle. The Corinthian screen was purchased by the Irvingites for their church on the Quay. Although the chapter showed an improved taste in this proceeding, its ideas of seemliness were still somewhat chaotic. A letter in the Bristol Journal of the 5th April, 1845, stated that “a cast-iron stove, with an immense black vertical flue, passing through the beautiful groined roof”, had just been placed in the choir of the cathedral!

The lighthouse at the mouth of the Avon, erected by the Corporation of the Trinity House, was completed in April, 1840, and was lighted up in the following June.

In June, 1840, the royal assent was given to a Bill “for regulating the buildings and party walls within the city, and for widening and improving certain streets”. The Corporation by this statute obtained power to open a new street [Phippen Street] , and to widen and improve the thoroughfares in that neighbourhood. Power was taken to borrow £15,000 for those purposes, and a sum of £10,000, given some years previously by Mr. William Weare (see page 130) to further various improvements, was ordered to form part of a fund, to be called “the Improvement Fund”.

In July, 1840, the Society of Merchants undertook to remove one of the greatest obstructions to the navigation of the Avon - the Round Point, a little below St. Vincent's rocks - and obtained the consent of the Corporation, as conservators of the river, to carry out the necessary work. It was announced that the undertaking would involve the removal of 25,000 cubic yards of rock. The operations of the Society, however, must have been of a limited nature, for in March, 1852, after the Demerara disaster, the removal


of the Round Point was reported to the Council to be urgently necessary, and in the following September a resolution was passed authorising the docks committee to carry out the needful improvement at an expense not exceeding £5,000. The Merchants' Society having been asked to contribute to the cost, in consideration of the large revenue they derived from the wharfage dues, subscribed £1,000. Upwards of 30,000 tons of rock were cut away on this occasion, and about the same quantity was removed from the projection on the Somerset bank, a portion of the hill on each side being also taken down to open the line of sight upon the river. Even after this was done the place continued to be very dangerous; and under Mr. Howard's improvement scheme of 1864 another and much more costly effort was made to straighten the river. Bridge Valley Road, which overhang the Avon at the “point”, being carried further back, and many thousand tons of rock being blasted away under high-water mark. Nevertheless, in 1884, the obstruction was still complained of, and once more the Council ordered excavations, which were continued for several months at low tides, the electric light being employed to facilitate operations during the night. In 1885 similar operations were begun on the opposite shore, and are still unfinished. Even now the state of the Round Point leaves much to be desired.

Another disastrous wreck of an Irish passenger steam vessel occurred on the 18th November, 1840. The ship in question. The City of Bristol, had left Waterford on the previous night, and was driven during a violent storm on the Welsh coast, near Worm's Head. Of the twenty-seven persons who were on board only two survived to tell the lamentable story.

Up to this time the citizens were very scantily provided with public rooms fitted for meetings or social gatherings. With the exception, indeed, of an inconveniently situated Assembly-room, in Prince's Street, and two halls of the ancient trading companies, there was no place in the city where the inhabitants could meet together in large bodies. In December, 1840, a spacious public room, called the Hall of Science - built by the admirers of the then celebrated socialist, Robert Owen, and intended for the dissemination of his doctrines - was opened in Broadmead, when a lecture was delivered by Mr. Owen. Its founders being unable to meet the expenditure, the building was purchased in January, 1843, by a few members of the Liberal party, and was subsequently known as the Broadmead Rooms. Until the erection


of Colston Hall, this place, in spite of its inconvenient access, was the favourite spot for popular gatherings in the city. It subsequently reverted into the hands of the Corporation, which in 1875 granted a lease of it at a rental of £100 per annum, the lessee undertaking to build a factory on the site. In December, 1840, the newly-appointed mayor, Mr. Robert Phippen, revived the custom of attending the Mayor's Chapel in state, which had been discontinued for some years. In anticipation of the pageant his worship was presented by his friends with a state robe and gauntlets, similar to those worn in the old Common Council, and their use was afterwards continued. The cost of maintaining divine service in the Mayor's Chapel had, from 1836 to this time, been provided by private subscriptions, the Liberal section of the Council having protested against the application of the corporate funds to denominational purposes. In 1841, however, the Conservatives formed an overwhelming majority of the civic body,[63] and on the 22nd March it was resolved, by forty votes against six, that the chapel should be “supported and maintained in the same manner, to the same extent, and for the same purpose in all respects, as before the passing of the Municipal Act”. The expenditure originated by this decision was set down at £260 in the accounts for the year. As a complement to the resolution, the aldermen and a large majority of the councillors revived, in December, 1850, the ancient custom of wearing scarlet robes when attending the chapel on state occasions.

At a meeting of the Council on the 8rd February, 1841, a matter was brought to light which provoked much criticism in Dissenting circles. It appeared that a few months previously an application had been made on behalf of a Wesleyan congregation in the parish of Dyrham, for a lease, at the full value, of a plot of ground on which it was intended to erect a schoolroom, to be used occasionally for religious services. The Finance Committee had at first expressed its willingness to assent, and had directed the surveyor to fix the rental, whereupon the rector of Dyrham forwarded an earnest request that the lease should be refused, observing that great evils would arise from the introduction of schism, and that there was ample accommodation for the parishioners in his church. The reverend gentleman omitted to state that the village of Hinton, where it was proposed

1841.]LOCAL TIME.253

to build the schoolroom, was nearly a mile and a half from the church; and that an existing small building used by the Wesleyans was inconveniently crowded every Sunday. The Finance Committee at once complied with the rector's wishes, and several of its members defended its action in the Council, Mr. Powell, of St. Augustine's, asserting that only two or three itinerant Wesleyan preachers, who “sent the hat round every Sunday, and made a good thing of it”, were at the bottom of the scheme. The Council having referred the matter to the committee for further consideration, a report was presented a month later, recommending that the lease be granted; but the Council rejected the advice by 28 votes to 12. The subject was revived in 1845; but the application for a lease, at a rental to be fixed by the Corporation, was again rejected by 26 votes against 14. Yet in October, 1847, when a piece of ground valued by the corporate surveyor at £500 was selected as the site for St. Matthias' Church on the Weir, the Council, by 24 votes against 9, resolved to reduce the purchase money to £150. The Lords of the Treasury, however, put a veto on this transaction, and the price was ultimately fixed at £800.

The opening of the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London took place, as has been already recorded, on the 30th January, 1841. Amongst the incidental difficulties connected with the introduction of rapid travelling, the question of “time” was amongst the most perplexing. Down to this period each provincial town kept its own time, which was generally determined with accuracy by some scientific resident, and coaches found no trouble in accommodating themselves to local arrangements. But the railway lines starting from the capital naturally fixed on Greenwich time, and adopted it throughout their respective systems. There was thus a difference between Bristol time and railway time of about ten minutes; and a few years later, when the line was extended to Plymouth, the time of that town varied seventeen minutes from that of the railway station. The authorities in Bristol, doubtless with an intention to accommodate the public, had two minute hands placed on the clock at the Exchange, and a similar plan was adopted at Bath; but as local time continued to be recorded by the church clocks, the public seem to have been more puzzled than instructed. The people of Exeter, on the other hand, obstinately refused for some years to recognise “cockney time”. As will hereafter be noted, the introduction of the electric telegraph quickly routed provincial prejudices on the subject.


The church of St. John the Evangelist, near Redland, was consecrated on the 27th April, 1841, by the bishop of the diocese. The remarkable change which has since occurred in that district is illustrated by the fact that, in the appeals made to the public on behalf of the building fund, it was stated that the church was intended to meet the spiritual destitution of a locality almost exclusively inhabited by the poorest class of labourers, and that a large proportion of the sittings would in consequence be free. In course of time, the free seats in the choir were calmly appropriated by the middle-class families which had come into the district; and in 1864 a fresh set of free seats was provided in less fashionable parts of the church. Dr. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, is said to have preached his first sermon as a deacon in this building.

At a meeting of the Council on the 5th May, a committee, to whom the subject had been referred, reported that it would not be advisable to make alterations in the Guildhall, but that the most advantageous course would be to take down the edifice, together with some adjoining houses, and to erect a more commodious hall upon the site. A hope was held out that the sale of the surplus ground would sensibly diminish the cost of the new structure. The Council gave power to the committee to carry out the recommendations of the report. After the subject had been postponed for nearly two years, the Guildhall committee, on the 12th April, 1843, presented a fresh report, accompanied by plans prepared by Mr. R.S. Pope. It was proposed that the new building should comprise, in addition to an assize court capable of containing 1,000 persons, two bankruptcy courts, a Court of Requests, a mayor's parlour, and other apartments. The cost was estimated at £10,000, but it was supposed that an income of £428 would be derived from rents. It was objected in the Council that the principal hall shown in the plans would be one-third less than the Guildhall then in existence, which was often found too small for election nominations and public meetings. Nevertheless, Mr. Pope's design was, with slight modifications, adopted, and in June workmen commenced demolishing the old building. [The large traceried window in that part of the structure known as St. George's Chapel was shortly afterwards re-erected in the grounds of “The Grove”, Stapleton. On removing the roof of the chapel, in the space between the modern ceiling and the rafters, a row of pointed window arches was found in the walls on each side, showing that the building had originally been lofty and finely


formed.] On the 30th October, 1843, the foundation stone of the new Guildhall was laid by the mayor (Mr. James Gibbs). It had been intended to mark the event with much ceremony, and the Freemasons of the district were invited to take part in the proceedings; but torrents of rain fell at the appointed hour, and the procession, which was to have passed through the principal streets, dwindled to an undignified “scuttle” down Broad Street. During the construction of the building the assizes and quarter sessions were held in Coopers' Hall, King Street. The new court was used for the first time on the 28th July, 1846, when the sessions were opened by Sir Charles Wetherell (who died less than three weeks afterwards). The interior of the structure excited a universal wail of disappointment. The feeling of the public was embodied in homely but explicit doggerel:

“They pulled down the old hall, because it was too email,
And now they've built a new Guildhall, with no hall at all”.

Only one opinion was expressed as to the arrangements by those called upon to make use of the building; and Mr. Justice Coleridge's remark, that the place was “the perfection of inconvenience”, was re-echoed by jurors, counsel, litigants, witnesses, and reporters. Defective as it was, the Guildhall was in some respects an improvement on its predecessor. The shortcomings of the latter were described from recollection by Mr. Leech in the Bristol Times of July 17, 1858. The writer remarked: “Justice was at times administered with anything but gravity and decorum. The chief portion of the great hall was occupied by the sessions, and once a year by the assizes, whilst at the lower end was a smaller court, where the late Mr. A. Palmer administered justice in matters whose gravity did not exceed the weight of forty shillings. The division between the two courts was an imaginary line, which led to an occasional collision between the two jurisdictions. . . . Sometimes a message would be sent down to urge the necessity of the actors in the inferior tribunal conducting their proceedings sotto voce, . . . and it might be that the herald would receive an answer couched not merely in strong language, but actually in phrase not to be repeated to ears polite. Bankruptcy was administered in lofts upstairs, and the barristers robed in an old garret magnificently furnished by the city with a tenpenny looking-glass. Bows in the Guildhall we all remember, when blue and yellow roared and fought around the door for the possession of the premises on the election nomination days; and


then, when the point had been carried by a column headed by the Game Chicken, or some other local champion, with what a rush and a bellowing up the flight of stone steps burst the strugglers”. The additional assize court and other buildings fronting Small Street will be referred to under 1865.

The fifth decennial census of the population was taken on the 7th June, when the city of Bristol, as extended by the Municipal Corporations Act, was found to contain 123,188 souls. For the purpose of comparison with previous returns, it may be added that the ancient city had a population of 64,266; Clifton, 14,177; the District, 6,139; St. Philip's, out, 21,590; St. George's, 8,318; Mangotsfield, 3,862; Stapleton, 3,944; Bedminster, 17,862; and Stoke Bishop tything, 2,651.

On the dissolution of Parliament in June, 1841, the previous members, Mr. P.W.S. Miles, and Mr. F.H.F. Berkeley, offered themselves for re-election. The Conservatives proposed to oust the latter by again nominating Mr. W. Fripp; but at the close of the poll, which took place on the 29th June, the numbers were found to be: Mr. Miles, 4,197; Mr. Berkeley, 3,743; Mr. Fripp, 3,689. Much irritation was caused amongst Mr. Fripp's friends by Mr. Miles's disclaimer on the hustings of a coalition, and an angry controversy took place on the subject, which, as will afterwards be seen, ended in a temporary disruption of the Conservative party in the city. The polling had hitherto taken place in Queen Square only; but on this occasion the sheriff resolved on erecting forty-three booths in various parts of the borough, much to the convenience of the electors.

As an illustration of the manner in which elections were still conducted, the following extract from an article published in the Bristol Journal on the eve of the contest is not unworthy of preservation: “Remember that a Conservative Government will be the inevitable result of the coming elections, and that all the situations in the Customs and Excise will be in their gift, on the nomination of Miles and Fripp.[64] Freemen of Bristol! The following is a list of the gifts in


the hands of the Conservative churchwardens and vestries of this city: All Saints, 19; St. Augustine's, 56; Christ Church, 26; St. Ewen, 5; St. James's, 66; St. John's, 26; St. Leonard's, 6; St. Maryleport, 10; St. Mary Redcliff, 46; St. Michael's, 48; St. Nicholas' 60; St. Paul's, 6; St. Peter's, 45; St. Philip's, 45; St. Stephen's 31; Temple, 62; St. Thomas's, 61; St. Werburgh's, 14 - 631. This is a goodly array of gifts which are in the power of the Conservatives to bestow, and will no doubt brighten the eyes of many a poor freeman”. It was true, continued the writer, that the Charity Trustees, who were abusing the powers confided to them in the interests of Liberalism, had 129 gifts at their disposal. But a Conservative Government would “displace every one of these men in the very next session” of Parliament, and Liberal electors “having already had such a large picking, must in common justice give way to the claims of those who now vote for Miles and Fripp”. In the meantime the “poor freemen” were assured that “our generous Conservative mayoress, our Conservative Town Council, our Conservative churchwardens, our Conservative vestries, our Conservative Merchant Venturers would not turn a deaf ear to their supplications”.

Christ Church, Clifton, the finest example of the Early English style of architecture in the city, was consecrated by Bishop Monk on the 8th October. It had cost about £10,500, including the purchase of the site. In 1858, the then incumbent urged that the building should be enlarged by the addition of aisles, but the parishioners preferred to add the tower and spire, according to the original design. These graceful ornaments were completed on the 22nd November, 1859, at a cost of £2,400 (a workman celebrating the fixing of the capstone - which weighed a quarter of a ton - by standing upon it on his head, at a distance of 212 feet from the ground). In 1884 the aisles were again projected, and the proposal caused fresh dissension and some litigation, several influential residents being of opinion that the additions, if carried out, would irreparably destroy the beauty of the edifice. Their opponents, however, prevailed, and the new aisles, which cost upwards of £4,000, were opened by Bishop Ellicott in September, 1885.

The Bristol Deaf and Dumb Institution was established in the course of this year. In the case of this charity, the city did not occupy its customary position amongst the great towns of the country. Edinburgh founded a Deaf and Dumb Institution in 1760, and the example had been largely followed


before Bristol entered the field. The charity, which was for many years located in Park Row, was removed in August, 1874, to the entrance to Tyndall's Park, where a building in the Tudor style had been erected for it at an outlay of £7,000.

Under the Cathedral Acts passed in 1841 and 1842, the bishop of this diocese was authorised to appoint, at the rate of two per annum, twenty-four honorary canons of Bristol. An equal number was awarded to Gloucester.

In March, 1842, workmen commenced the removal of the old houses which earlier generations had allowed to cluster against the north side of St. Mary Redcliff Church, some encroaching on the west front of the edifice being also demolished, with the object of laying out a new street, which was called Phippen Street, in honour of the mayor for the previous year. By the destruction of several miserable dwellings, the north front of the parish church, the details of which had been concealed for two or three centuries, were thrown open to public view. [The statue of Chatterton (see p.249) was re-erected on the site of one of those hovels.] The cost of the property destroyed (about eighty-six tenements), with other expenses, was upwards of £20,700; but by the sale of ground rents the expenditure was reduced to about £8,700. In May, 1843, a further improvement was effected near the church by the lowering of Redcliff Hill, a commencement being also made with the widening of Redcliff Street, by the setting back of one or two houses. These works raised the total amount spent in the locality to £18,500.

On the 18th March, a man styling himself Signor Irving walked across a rope stretched over the Floating Harbour, from a warehouse on Redcliff Back to the Welsh Back. The feat attracted a great concourse of spectators. Three days later, the precursor of Blondin was repeating the performance, when the rope broke, and he was seriously bruised by falling upon a barge.

On the 7th July, 1842, an exhibition of machinery, works of art, etc., promoted by the members of the Mechanics' Institute, was opened in a building at the top of Park Street, and continued on view, with a short interval, until the end of October. Amongst the visitors was H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, who expressed himself much pleased. The exhibition was very popular, upwards of 74,000 persons paying for admission; and the net profits, nearly £800, sufficed to wipe off the debt of the Institute.

The Royal Agricultural Society opened the fourth of its annual country meetings at Bristol on the 12th July. The


site selected for the exhibition of implements is now occupied by the Triangle, while the show ground for animals was in the fields which then lay immediately behind the Victoria Rooms, about six acres being enclosed for the purpose. Amongst the miscellaneous articles on view was a gigantic cheese, weighing nine hundredweight, made at West Pennard, Somerset, and intended by the dairy farmers of the district as a present to the Queen. [The cheese subsequently got into the Court of Chancery.] The showyard was visited by 33,000 persons. The trials of implements took place in a field at Sneyd Park. Amongst the crowds of distinguished personages who visited the city on the occasion, were the Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Saxe Meiningen, the Dukes of Richmond and Beaufort, the Marquis of Downshire, the Earls of Ilchester, Somers, Ducie, Spencer, Essex, Chichester, Fortescue, and Zetland, the Hon. E. Everett, United States minister, H. Handley, Esq., president of the Society, etc. The annual dinner of the Society was held on the 14th July in a pavilion capable of accommodating about 2,500 persons. On the same day a single train from London brought down 2,115 passengers. The receipts of the Great Western Railway for the week were £20,627, which by a generation accustomed to coach travelling was deemed a truly marvellous amount.

About this date a curious official seal or die of the reign of Henry VIII. was found in a sewer near Castle Street. It was of copper, gilt, about three inches in diameter, and bore an effigy of the king in his robes, seated under a canopy, and holding a sceptre and orb. The inscription was as follows: “Anno Regis Henrici Octavi 34, racium (?) anno gracia, 1542”.

The local journals of the 30th July published a long and earnest appeal to the citizens on behalf of the venerable parish church of St. Mary Redcliff, then crumbling to decay through the neglect and parsimony of previous generations. The appeal, which was signed by the Rev. M.R. Whish, vicar, and Thomas Proctor and John Farler, churchwardens, stated that the objects to be kept in view were the solid and substantial repair of the fabric, the restoration of its ornamental parts, and such alterations, chiefly internal, as might be necessary to restore the church to its ancient and pristine beauty. The services of Mr. Britton, the eminent antiquary, had been obtained for the restoration, and Mr. William Hosking, professor of architecture at King's College, had co-operated in the preparation of plans and drawings illustrative of the work to be accomplished. The cost of the restoration was estimated at “very nearly £40,000”. The


response of the citizens to this document was of a frigid character; and although the promoters of the work nevertheless persevered in pressing it upon the public, they long failed to shake the apathy of the wealthier classes. At a meeting in March, 1845, it was reported, that although the ruinous state of the church was daily becoming more alarming, the total amount subscribed (less a vote of £2,000 made by the Testry and £1,000 contributed by the committee) was only £2,400. Urgent appeals were repeatedly made through the press; and in the following September, in the hope that if the work were once begun it would not be suffered to drop, Mr. George Godwin was appointed architect. A contract was also entered into for the restoration of the east window and of one section of the church. The foundation-stone of the new works was laid on the 21st April, 1846, by the mayor (Mr. Haberfield), a long masonic procession accompanying his worship to the spot. In the course of carrying out this contract, which was completed in September, 1847, some brickwork blocking up an arch between the chancel and the Lady Chapel was removed, when a beautiful but much-mutilated stone screen was exposed to view. [Another interesting discovery was made some years later in the south aisle of the nave, namely, the original tombs of William Canynges and his wife. The face of these beautifully canopied recesses had been ruthlessly cut away and wainscoted over in the reign of Queen Anne, when the church was repewed. It was supposed that the effigies then lying in the south transept had been removed from the recesses by the perpetrators of the mutilation, and in 1852 the figures were replaced in their original position.] In January, 1848, the Canynges Society was formed for the purpose of helping forward the restoration, directing its efforts in the first instance to the chancel. In the summer of the same year an anonymous contributor, signing himself “Nil Desperandum”, began to forward money for the restoration of the north porch, the cost of which was nearly £2,600. [On the death of Alderman Proctor, in May, 1876, his executors discovered - as had long been suspected - that he had effected this work at his sole expense, besides contributing largely to the subscriptions for the church]. The assistance of the public continued to be rendered grudgingly for several years; and but for the exertions of the Canynges Society, and its auxiliary, the Commercial Association (which rebuilt the south porch), little progress could have been effected. At the close of 1857, after nearly sixteen years' efforts, less than


£13,000 had been obtained from every source. More interest, however, began to be shown by the wealthier classes after that date; and in 1860 a stimulus was given to the work by the offer of Mr. S.W. Lucas, of Birmingham, to give £1,000 provided £4,000 additional were collected. The result was a subscription exceeding £5,500, which enabled the committee to make considerable progress during the following five years. In the meantime, the freemasons of the city resolved upon restoring the Lady Chapel at their sole expense. The first stone of this work was laid on the 28th August, 1861, when the masonic body in full regalia assembled in the Exchange, and walked in procession through the streets, the unusual pageant exciting much public interest. The stone was laid by Mr. Henry Shute, P.G.M. At the close of 1865, when the treasury was again exhausted, another subscription was set on foot. Alderman Proctor, Mr. R.P. King, Mr. J. Lucas, and the Rev. H.G. Randall offering £500 each, to which the public added about £4,000. In 1870 it was announced that this fund, which had reached £7,500, was absorbed. The restoration of the Lady Chapel was completed in the same year. Only £5,000 additional were now asked for to complete the restoration, including the spire, and as about £2,000 were soon forthcoming, the committee began operations for “crowning the edifice” in the summer of 1871. No time was lost in prosecuting the task, for on the 9th May, 1872, the capstone of the spire - a piece of Portland stone thirteen feet in girth, and weighing about a ton - was laid by the mayor (Alderman W.P. Baker), who was accompanied to the summit, 276½ feet above the ground, by the mayoress, the vicar, and some officials of the parish. The vane, which stands 15½ feet above the capstone, was fixed a few days later. In the closing months of the year an illuminated dial was placed in the tower, and the peal of bells was increased from ten to twelve. In October, 1874, a “final appeal” was made by the Canynges Society, who stated that up to that date £45,000 had been expended in the restoration, of which sum £2,000 remained as a debt. Various details were also left uncompleted, and for these £4,000 more were required. The incumbrance was shortly after cleared off, and the additional works were undertaken and finished at intervals.

On the 1st August, 1842, Lord Langdale, Master of the Rolls, gave judgment upon an information filed by the Attorney-General against the Society of Merchant Venturers in the matter of Colston's School. The question at issue was the disposition of the surplus of the funds left by Colston


after the expenses of the school had been provided for, it being argued by the Society, that as they were liable for deficiencies, they were entitled to appropriate the surpluses which might remain in hand. A particular transaction appeared to have led to the information. The Merchants' Society had demised to one Edward Bowyer and his wife a portion of the Colston property on lease, at a yearly rent of £315; but subsequently, in consideration of the lessees undertaking to pay down £2,500, the rent was reduced to £5 per annum. The lessees had actually paid only £600 of the promised amount; for the balance of £2,000 the Society obtained as security the manor of Stogursey, which subsequently, saving certain rights of Eton College, passed wholly into their possession, when the profits were retained by themselves. Lord Langdale, in giving judgment, said the Society were not entitled to deal with the funds of the school for their own benefit. There must be an inquiry, and the Society must be charged on account of the £2,500, but the inquiry was not to go further back than the date of the information. There was, his lordship added, much to be urged for the defendants, considering the difficulties imposed upon them by Colston's executors. The Society appealed against the decision, but the Lord Chancellor, in January, 1848, confirmed the judgment of Lord Langdale. During the hearing of the case it was stated by counsel that certain estates, ground-rents, etc., given by Colston to the school, and producing £1,280 at the time of the foundation, had become worth more than £3,000 a year, and that the surplus had been retained for many years by the Merchants' Society.

The conversion, in 1786, of the Weavers' Hall, Temple Street, then a Methodist chapel, into a Jewish synagogue, is recorded in Barrett's history of the city. On the 18th August, 1842, the Jews opened a new synagogue near the same spot, having purchased and decorated a chapel built for the Society of Friends, but which had been for some years hired by the Wesleyans, who were thus twice succeeded by the Jews. The Weavers' Hall, again vacated by the removal of the synagogue, was bought soon after by the authorities of Temple parish for the purpose of being converted into a school.

About the end of September a local case, marked by astonishing credulity on the one hand and of rarely matched baseness and treachery on the other, excited widespread attention. The main features of the story were as follows: At No. 5, Cumberland Terrace, Cumberland Road, resided


Mr. John Woolley, a timber merchant, considerably advanced in years. After the death of his wife, in 1838, his house had been managed by his sister-in-law, Mary Bryers, whom he was said to have adopted whilst a child, and to have treated with much kindness. Woolley, however, was vain, weak-minded, and greedy; and the housekeeper, who was inordinately fond of finery and display, resolved upon gratifying her tastes by playing upon his weaknesses. Her first essay, made about a year before this date, was to induce him to believe that his personal charms and amiable disposition had won the heart of a young lady with a fortune of £5,000, and large “expectations” from a wealthy aunt, who knew of and sympathised with her niece's affection. Woolley thereupon began to write amorous letters to his Dulcinea, the missives being placed in the hands of Bryers, who quickly concocted responses calculated to keep up his delusion. The sympathetic aunt was also made to play a part in the farce. Under the pretence that her large income came in irregularly, loans of money were requested in letters to Woolley, who advanced some £70 on being made the custodian of a pretended will, by which the dupe was promised a legacy of £5,000. Feeling that further imposture in this direction might lead to exposure, Bryers now devised a fresh and more daring scheme. Her brother-in-law was informed that another young lady - a Miss Poole King - with a fortune of £47,000, had conceived so ardent a passion for his person, through having seen him frequently passing her house in Redcliff Parade, that she was ready to throw herself and fortune into his arms. Although, as in the former case, Woolley was wholly unacquainted with his reputed adorer, he seemed to have accepted her advances as a matter of course, and the first charmer was so completely neglected that Bryers was enabled to forge a letter purporting to come from that lady, upbraiding him with inconstancy, and declining further correspondence. Released from this difficulty, Woolley fell eagerly into the new web of fraud framed by his impudent relative, who obtained a gold watch from a tradesman on the credit of his name, induced him to believe that it was a present from Miss King, and secured his own watch for an imaginary exchange of love tokens. A correspondence was next started, Bryers producing letters from the lady expressing the warmest attachment - accompanied on one occasion with a request for a loan of £20 to meet an emergency, which met, of course, with a prompt response. Eventually, on being told that Miss King's family were


violently opposed to her marriage, Woolley expressed his willingness to assist in her elopement; and one Sunday evening Bryers informed him that the lady had taken refugee in his house, bat declined to see him. A pretended fugitive did, in fact, remain in the house until the following Wednesday, Bryers in the meanwhile obtaining money from her complacent employer under various pretexts. All preparations having been made, Woolley was at length permitted to see his intended bride; and though the slightest perspicacity would have sufficed to convince him that the alleged lady was of the vulgarist materials, the gull appears to have been perfectly satisfied. A post-chaise having been obtained, the party set off for London, where the “fair one”, to Woolley's great satisfaction, undertook to make over £27,000 of her fortune. A licence being next obtained, the couple were married at Southwark on the 12th September - the bride being so “overcome” when her signature was required in the vestry that Bryers had to guide her hand. A week having been gaily spent at an hotel, the party returned to Bristol, where, on the pretence that the lady was going to Redcliff Parade to prepare her home for her husband's reception, the two women took to flight, with certain luggage belonging to Woolley. The wretched man soon after discovered that he had not only been robbed of his valuables, but had been united to a girl of low origin, named Mary Ann Morgan, who had earned her living as a domestic servant. About a fortnight later, Bryers and her tool were captured in London, and were taken before a magistrate; but Woolley, overwhelmed by the roar of popular ridicule excited by his tale, ultimately declined to prosecute, and was left to ponder for the rest of his life over his egregious credulity.

In the autumn of this year public attention was called in the local press to the destruction of the natural beauties of Leigh Woods and of the Somerset bank of the Avon by the proprietors of the property. From the statements made in newspaper articles and correspondence, it appeared that a portion of the ancient British camp had been converted into a potato garden; the wood was let as a rabbit warren; many of the large trees were cut or thrown down; and sylvan spots of eminent beauty, open to the public from time immemorial, were hedged off from pedestrians, who were insultingly driven away by the man who had taken possession of the place. All this was done, it was added, in order that “the poor annual pittance of some £20 sterling” might fall “into coffers already overflowing”; and letters addressed


to the owner of the estate were contemptuously ignored. On the river bank, the destruction worked on another property by pickaxe and blasting powder was playing still greater havoc with scenery of surpassing grandeur and beauty. A Conservative editor remarked: “Of the unintelllgent, unscrupulous, and merely mercenary and vulgar character of the general invasion of which this fine scenery has long been the victim, there can be in every generous and feeling mind but one opinion”. The protests of the public were, however, of no effect, A toll was demanded of every one entering Leigh Woods, while on the other estate every large tree was cut down in the wood overhanging the river from Stokeleigh camp to opposite Cook's Folly. In July, 1849, the restrictions imposed upon pedestrians frequenting Leigh Woods were abandoned, and the boorish potato grower disappeared. In the summer of 1879, on the other hand, an ancient foot and bridle path from Leigh road to the wood overhanging the Abbot's Pond, was closed by the owner of the land, and as no one felt called upon to resist his action, the right of the public was surrendered. In the meantime the devastation of the riverside scenery had gone on, as it still goes on, without interruption. The English Illustrated Magazine for November, 1886, contains the indignant protest of a well-known literary citizen against the destruction of the “waving forest that had been the nursery of art to W.J. Müller, Danby, Pyne, and Turner, and the scenery that has given character to Clifton”, which had become “only a record of an utilitarian age, whose sordid spirit could convert so choice a piece of landscape into crumbling stones for the sake of their value in money”.

An interesting geological discovery was made in November, 1842, in one of the quarries which were then worked in the middle of Durdham Down, the workmen having found an opening into a cavern containing a quantity of the remains of animals for ages extinct in this country. The cavity, though narrow, was of some extent, being traceable to a depth of ninety feet. The bones had belonged to about twelve hyenas, a bear, two rhinoceros, several hippopotami, numerous examples of wild bulls, about five deer, and five or six elephants, besides the relics of animals of later date. The bones were nearly all fractured into small pieces, and the proportion of teeth and horns to other parts of the body greatly preponderated. Taking this fact into consideration, together with the marks of gnawing on the bones, and the certainty that the cave could not have accommodated more


than a small fraction of the animals represented by the vestiges, scientific observers concluded that the den had been the retreat of hyenas, which had carried to it portions of their prey. By comparison of the teeth of the hyena and bear with those of the present races, the larger size of the early animals became strikingly apparent; those of the hyena testified that the beast had been bigger than the largest known species of tiger. The appearance of the remains suggested the hypothesis that a considerable movement had taken place in the sides of the fissure since the animals had lived there; and this, it was presumed, had produced the closure of the orifice, and the consequent high preservation of the bones.

In February, 1843, the Government purchased a plot of land, part of Horfield Court Farm, the property of Mr. A.M. Storey, for the purpose of erecting cavalry and infantry barracks on the site, and so avoiding the quartering of troops on the publicans of the city - a system which had long been condemned both by the victuallers and the public. The foundation-stone of the new buildings was laid with masonic ceremony on the 3rd June, 1845, and the completed premises were handed over to the Board of Ordnance on the 26th April, 1847. The barracks, which cost £57,000, were constructed to accommodate four companies of infantry and two troops of cavalry. In 1873 considerable additions were made to the buildings, which became a “local military centre” under the Army Re-organization Act. A field opposite to the barracks was also purchased, to serve as a camping ground for the Gloucestershire militia during the annual period of training.

Robert Soathey, one of Bristol's most distinguished sons, died on the 21st March, 1843, at Keswick, Cumberland. A detailed notice of the literary labours of one of the most indefatigable and voluminous of English writers would be inconsistent with the character of this work, but it may be interesting to record a few local facts connected with his career. Born on the 12th August, 1774, at No. 9, Wine Street, where his father carried on business as a draper, at the sign of “The Hare”, Southey received the elements of instruction from various teachers in and near the city, and showed at an early age such strong indications of ability and genius that an uncle, the Rev. H, Hill, undertook to bear the expense of his education at a public school. At Westminster the boy soon found congenial associates, amongst whom was Mr. Charles W. Wynn, afterwards for nearly half a century


a highly esteemed member of the House of Commons. Southey's career at the school was cut short by an unlucky essay on corporal punishment, published in the school magazine which he had contributed to establish, the lucubration being supposed by the servile head-master to reflect upon the inhuman floggings which were then of constant occurrence in the army and navy. The punishment was expulsion; and, as the elder Southey failed in business about the same date, the lad's prospects would have been seriously compromised but for the continued protection of his uncle, Hill, who provided means for sending him to Oxford. It was during his college life, 1792-4, that he encountered Coleridge, then, like himself, a Unitarian and a republican, and the new friends a little later found themselves at Bristol, disgusted with scholasticism and with the superannuated customs of old world civilization, and eager to form a Utopian “Pantosocracy” in America - a bubble which happily soon burst. The dreamers, moreover, fell in love with two young Bristol ladies named Fricker, daughters of a maker of sugar-loaf moulds at Westbury, who had died in embarrassed circumstances. Being themselves in sorry pecuniary plight, the amorous youths resolved on giving a course of lectures in the city - Southey selecting historical, and Coleridge political and moral subjects. For the former's course of twelve lectures, tickets, 10s. 6d. each, were “to be had of Mr. Cottle, bookseller. High Street”, from whose published reminiscences it appears that the experiment met with liberal patronage.[65] A few months later, Cottle, who was himself a poet, was so pleased with “Joan of Arc”, Southey's first important work, that he offered £50 for the copyright, promising also as many gratis copies of the book as the author should obtain subscriptions for. While the poem was passing through the press, Southey accepted an invitation of his generous uncle, who lived at Lisbon, to spend six months in the Peninsula, Mr. Hill being doubtless wishful to break off his nephew's love affair. On the day of his departure, however (in November, 1795), the enthusiastic young man effectually baffled this intention by marrying Miss Edith Fricker at St. Mary Redcliff, the parties separating at the church door. Such was the bridegroom's poverty at the moment that Cottle furnished the money to buy the wedding


ring, and paid the fees of the ceremony; yet no union was ever more happy, and Sonthey wrote forty years later, that his partner had always been “the life of his life”. On his return from the Continent, in 1796, the young couple established themselves in lodgings in Bristol, where Southey wrote his “Letters from Spain and Portugal”, Cottle, who bought the copyright, advancing money on account, and thus keeping the wolf from the door. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Wynn, though not a rich man, granted Southey an annuity of £160 a year (which was continued until the generous giver was able to obtain for him a Government pension of an equal amount); and Southey, who had had brief flirtations with the clerical, the medical, and finally the legal professions, definitely resolved to devote himself to literature. In 1797, out of sympathy for the sister and niece of the unfortunate Chatterton, who had been shamefully defrauded and left destitute by a literary charlatan - Sir Herbert Croft - Southey undertook an edition of the works of the youthful genius. The liberal-hearted Cottle was again the publisher (as he had already been of two volumes of Southey's minor poems), and the effort resulted in a clear profit of £300 for Chatterton's relatives. A year later, Southey, whose health was impaired, took a house at Westbury-on-Trym, which he styled Martin Hall from the number of those summer visitors that hovered around it, and there he spent, as he afterwards said, “one of the happiest years of his life”. “I never before or since produced so much poetry in the same space of time”. There, too, he formed the acquaintance of Humphry Davy, who, when scarce twenty years old, had come to Bristol to superintend Dr. Beddoes' Pneumatic Institution, and whose brilliant career was predicted by his new friend. Another visit to the Peninsula and a brief official charge in Dublin followed the sojour at Westbury. In 1802 Southey was again living in Bristol; but the loss of a child while in the city caused him profound grief, and in the following year, having gone with his wife to see Mr. and Mrs. Coleridge at Keswick, he was so charmed with the locality that what was intended to be a temporary visit turned out to be a permanent settlement for life. His labours from that date belong to the literary history of the century. In 1813 he was appointed poet laureate, which added £90 a year to his income but nothing to his fame. In later years he was offered a seat in Parliament and a baronetcy, but wisely eschewed both distinctions. He accepted, however, a further pension of £300, which was gracefully offered by Sir Robert Peel in


1835. Southey's poems, deemed imperishable by himself, have been long forgotten; but as a prose writer he sometimes displayed talent of the highest order; and Thackeray's eulogy on the true nobility of his life, his indefatigable industry, and his self-sacrificing devotion to his relatives and dependants, will remain a monument to his memory so long as the English language endures.

The singular cavern known as Pen-park Hole, which excited much interest in the previous century, was explored in April, 1843, by Mr. Richard Rowe, of St. Agnes, Cornwall, and a party of working miners from that county. After descending about 140 feet, the party reached a large body of water, and it was found necessary to take down a boat before any progress could be made. The piece of water was stated to be eight fathoms deep, twelve fathoms long, and fifteen fathoms broad; though on the last previous occasion on which the cavern was visited - in the autumn of 1776 - Mr. George Catcott estimated the pool to be “not more than four yards over, and its greatest depth not above six feet”. The explorers obtained some fine specimens of lead ore, which were afterwards stated to have yielded more than 75 per cent. of metal. The results were deemed so satisfactory that it was proposed to form a company in Cornwall for the purpose of regularly working the mine; but from some reason the project was abandoned.

On the 19th May a commission of preliminary investigation was opened in the chapter house of the cathedral to inquire whether there were sufficient grounds for proceeding in the Episcopal court against the Rev. M.R. Whish, vicar of St, Mary Redcliff, and the Rev. D.V. Irvine, his curate, and also chaplain of Bridewell, for a breach of church discipline. The alleged offence consisted in Dr. Irvine having solemnized the marriage of two persons living in the parish of Nailsea, the woman being a sister of the deceased wife of the man. The proceedings were instituted by Archdeacon Thorp, who conducted the case. After a hearing which extended over two days. Dr. Phillimore, the presiding commissioner, declared that there were sufficient grounds for instituting further proceeding against Dr. Irvine, who loudly protested that he was the victim of a High Church persecution. The charge against Mr. Whish fell to the ground. The parties having agreed that Bishop Monk should pronounce sentence in Dr. Irvine's case, without further proceedings, his lordship suspended the curate for a year, his licences being also revoked. Petitions in the reverend gentleman's favour were


presented to the bishop by the visiting justices of Bridewell and the parishioners of Redcliff but Dr. Monk refused to make any remission.

Some quaint old houses in Baldwin Street (a view of which is preserved in Prout's Sketches) were demolished about the end of May for the purpose of widening that thoroughfare, which was in some places exceedingly narrow. The net cost of the improvement was about £2,700. The premises built upon the sites were tasteless in the extreme. About the same time a picturesque old house was pulled down in Broad Street, in order to open a communication into Small Street through Albion Chambers.

The first mention of tricycles found in the newspapers of this part of the kingdom occurs in the Bath Gazette of the last week in May. The paragraph stated that two descriptions of three-wheeled self-propelling machines were then traversing the streets of Bath. One of them was propelled by the rider “rising up and down, after the manner of horse exercise”; the other, invented by a local artisan, was worked by treadles which moved a crank close to the small guiding wheel. “The inventor lately came on it from Bristol to Bath in an hour and a half”. Bicycles came into favour about 1860, and caused much astonishment in the rural districts. One Somerset peasant, dumbfoundered by their speed and inexplicable mode of propulsion, is recorded to have described a party of excursionists as being “the cheeribums as Daniel seed”.

The stately chapel on St. Augustine's Back, erected in 1840 by the Irvingite denomination at a cost of about £14,000, was purchased for £5,000 in the summer of 1843 by the Roman Catholics of the city, and was consecrated, under the name of St. Mary, on the 5th July, by Bishop Baines, vicar apostolic of the western district. Dr. Baines expired during the night following the ceremonial at his residence. Prior Park, Bath. In 1871 the chapel was purchased by the fraternity of Jesuits.

Highbury Chapel, Cotham, erected on the ground where three unhappy Protestants were burned to death for their religious opinions during the reign of the intolerant Mary, was opened on the 6th July by the Rev. William Jay, of Bath. It had cost £3,000, exclusive of the site, which was given by Mr. Richard Ash. The original design appears to have included a western tower, which was never carried higher than the roof of the chapel. During an enlargement which was made in the autumn of 1863, another tower, in a


style uncommon in this district, was erected on the south transept of the building. The outlay on the additional buildings exceeded the cost of the original edifice.

On the 19th July, the day fixed for launching the Great Britain [see p.219], his royal highness Prince Albert paid a brief visit to the city, on the invitation of the proprietors of the Great Western Shipbuilding Company, and was received with many demonstrations of joy. The train which brought the Prince down from London performed the distance in what was then deemed the astonishingly short space of three hours and ten and a half minutes. On arriving at Bristol Terminus, the royal visitor was presented with an address by the mayor (Mr. James Gibbs) on behalf of the Corporation, to which he made a courteous reply. The Merchants' Society also presented an address, accompanying it with the freedom of the Society in a gold box. The Prince (who was accompanied by the Marquis of Exeter, Lord Wharncliffe, and the Earl of Lincoln) was then conducted by Temple Street, High Street, and Corn Street, College Green, Park Street, and Clifton Church to the Downs, thence by Bridge Valley Road to Hotwell House, and finally along Cumberland Road to the shipbuilding yard at Wapping. Triumphal arches had been erected at judiciously selected spots; and the visitor was greatly pleased with the appearance of the city and with the adjacent scenery. On nearing the rude towers of the unfinished suspension bridge, some men, by means of a basket-car, traversed the bar which united the two banks of the Avon, much to the wonder of the Prince and his attendants. On reaching the gigantic vessel, his royal highness inspected the platform on which the ship was to descend, and expressed his admiration of the “magnificent sight”. A banquet followed, in a saloon fitted up for the purpose, Mr. Thomas Kington presiding. At its conclusion the Prince named the ship the “Great Britain” in the customary manner, and the colossal vessel glided into the water amidst a whirlwind of cheers. The Prince's return journey was accomplished with as much celerity as his morning trip. It was estimated that, in addition to the crowds which lined the sides of the Floating Harbour, about 30,000 persons assembled on Brandon Hill to witness the launch. A medal was struck to commemorate Prince Albert's visit to the city. Whilst the Great Britain remained in the Float, a number of royal and distinguished personages visited Bristol, to inspect what was then termed the “monster” vessel. Amongst them were the Duke of Bordeaux (“Henry V”. of France), the King of Saxony, and


Prince William of Prussia (afterwards Emperor of Germany). The Queen visited the ship when it was fitting out in the Thames.

The steamer Queen, whilst on her passage from Bristol to Dublin, was totally lost on the Welsh coast near Milford Haven, during a dense fog, on the night of the 1st September. All the passengers, with the exception of one who was drowned in his berth, were taken off by a passing sloop; but, owing to the fog, they had to remain for twenty-four hours without food or shelter before they could reach the shore. The crew had previously made off in the steamer's boats. The Queen belonged to the Bristol Steam Navigation Company, and was said to be worth about £15,000.

During the autumn of 1843, whilst alterations were being made in the pews and other internal arrangements of All Saints' Church, the authorities thought the opportunity a favourable one for endeavouring to ascertain where the remains of Edward Colston were deposited, the site of his grave having been for many years in doubt. After some unsuccessful attempts, the matter was supposed to have been cleared up on the 2nd September, in the presence of the vicar (the Rev. H. Rogers), the churchwardens, and a few of the leading parishioners. From a memorandum written by Mr. H. Penton, a churchwarden, and published in the local journals, it appeared that at the suggestion of Mr. Garrard, the city treasurer, who had discovered that Alderman Colston (ob. 1597) was buried in a vault opposite “the little vestry door” [discovered during the alterations], a search was made at the place indicated. The vault in question was found packed with coffins, the uppermost being within a few inches of the surface. One of the last bodies interred had been that of Sir Stephen Nash, LL.D., sheriff in 1785-6. “The rotten remains of several wooden coffins” having been removed, two others were found at the bottom of the vault. One was supposed to be that of Sarah Colston, the philanthropist's niece, who was buried in 1721, but no name could be traced upon it. “The larger coffin of the two”, wrote Mr. Penton, “was evidently that of a man of good stature, and was on the left of the vault. It appeared to be found necessary, when the body was interred, to excavate a portion of the rock, to admit of length sufficient for the foot of the coffin. The falling away of the wood from the sides disclosed a leaden case of substantial thickness, which it was determined to bring to the surface, the vault being deep. The treasurer, vicar, churchwarden, and myself concluded to open


the upper part of the coffin, when to our great surprise and gratification, we found it was the immortal Colston himself, lying in all the apparent tranquillity of sleep. The features were so perfect as to be readily recognised; so much so (sic) that it is not improbable that a cast of his head was taken for the celebrated monument of him in the church, sculptured by Boubillac! The face was covered with a sheet quite strong and perfect, and a diaper cap or napkin on his head: his cravat and shirt exactly of the make and form of those shown on the same admirable monument in front of the vault. The whole was sacredly and immediately closed and replaced; a leaden plate being soldered on, inscribed - 'Edward Colston, 1721'”. If the vicar and churchwardens had, at the beginning of their operations, a fitting sense of the “sacred” character of the remains, they appear to have speedily lost it. A fortnight later, on the 14th September, the contents of the vault were again disturbed, and Colston's coffin was opened a second time to gratify the curiosity of Mr. P.B. Colston, of Roundway Park, Wilts, grotesquely styled by the Bristol Journal a “lineal descendant” of Colston, but really the representative of a collateral branch of the family. The church, in fact, was turned into a sort of show, and “about a hundred gentlemen” were permitted to witness the exhibition. The repulsive extent to which curiosity was pushed may be divined from the account of the journalist mentioned above. “The body”, he says, “was clothed in a shirt, drawers, and stockings [some portions of which were purloined and appropriated by persons who were present], all of which were yet strong and perfect; the enamel of the teeth was scarcely discoloured. On a portion of the upper part of the shirt being removed, the breast appeared almost of the colour of living flesh, and was firm to the touch. The face and arms were very dark; the only portions of the grave clothes that bore any marks of decay were the gloves that covered the hands”. The alleged discovery gave rise to much controversy, it being maintained by several persons that the remains could not have been those of Colston. One argument adduced by the sceptics was, that, according to an inscription formerly in the church, the text of which is preserved in Barrett's History, the body was laid in a vault “in the first cross alley, under the reading desk ” - which, down to 1757, stood against the north column of the chancel arch, whereas the vault near “the little vestry door” was in the south aisle. It was also shown that the body of Ann Colston, Edward's sister, was brought from Mortlake, and interred


with his own, according to his express directions, but no such coffin was in the opened vault. Finally, the head of the exhumed body contained a set of teeth in excellent preservation, which was not to be expected in the case of a man who had reached his eighty-fifth year. The question at issue was never authoritatively settled.

The “Old Castle” tavern, one of the oldest buildings in Castle Street, and chiefly constructed of wood, was destroyed by fire on the night of the 6th September. The occupier, Mr. Thomas Worthington, who was an invalid, perished in the flames, and one of his relatives afterwards died from the effects of her injuries.

St. Barnabas' Church, Ashley Road, was consecrated by Bishop Monk on the 12th September. The building cost the modest sum of £2,200, of which only £175 appear to have been contributed by the citizens. St. Luke's Church, Barton Hill, was consecrated on the 20th of the same month, having just been finished at an outlay of £2,700. The proprietors of the adjacent cotton factory, for whose workpeople it was chiefly intended, contributed largely to the building fund.

The last coach between Bristol and London ceased to ran in October, 1843. The Bristol Journal of March 80th, 1844, announced: “The Bush coach office, where an extensive business has been carried on for, we believe, more than a century, has this week closed”. But in April, 1849, in consequence of the Great Western railway board having reduced the number of trains, and discontinued return tickets, two coaches ran daily to and fro between Bristol and Bath, and were well patronised during the summer months.

The Charity Trustees having resolved to remove the boys of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital from the unhealthy premises in Christmas Street, and to erect convenient school buildings in a more salubrious locality, submitted a scheme to the Lord Chancellor, praying for his assent. His lordship, in January, 1844, deputed a London architect to inquire into and report upon the eligibility of the plans, and, the result being satisfactory, the scheme was approved. The site selected was on the north-west side of Brandon Hill, on land once used as a cemetery by the Jews. The scholars took possession of the new premises, which cost £14,000, on the 27th September, 1847. The abandoned hospital in Christmas Street was occupied for some time by a cooper; but in the early months of 1856 it was taken by the local branch of an association for improving the dwellings of the industrial classes; and after being partially reconstructed, was opened in the following


October as an “establishment of model dwellings”. The association about the same time constructed another range of buildings in Limekiln Road. The scheme, however, was unprofitable, and the old “Bartholomew's” was subsequently converted into a shoe factory.

In consequence of the increasing traffic through Baldwin Street, the Council, at a meeting in February, 1844, ordered the removal of the Fish Market, an ugly building standing on St. Nicholas' Back, opposite to the church. The fish dealers appear to have removed to the Welsh Back. [See June, 1872.]

Miss Ann Dimsdale, of Frenchay, who died about this time, bequeathed by will the sum of £26,000 to local charities and religious societies. Miss Dimsdale was a member of an old Quaker family.

During the spring of 1844, nine quaint old houses in Broad Street, between the Council House and the entrance to Albion Chambers, had their projecting gabled fronts removed, for the purpose of widening the thoroughfare. The Corporation effected this improvement for £630, Three projecting houses on the opposite side, adjoining Christ Church, had been thrown back in 1835. The last old houses in the western row were purchased, as already stated, by the Bank of England, whose banking house, erected on the site, was opened in November, 1847.

In May, whilst workmen were engaged in repewing St. Stephen's Church, a richly canopied altar tomb, bearing two effigies, was discovered plastered up under one of the windows of the north aisle. The male effigy was habited in civil costume, but bore a studded swordbelt of the peculiar fashion of the later half of the fourteenth century. It was suggested that the effigy was that of John Shipward, elected mayor in 1455, who built the magnificent tower of the church; but the dress of the figure, as well as the style of the tomb, clearly indicated an earlier date. A few days later, another male effigy was discovered in the south wall. Both figures are engraved in the Archceological Journal, vol. iii. pp.82, 83. [The church was repewed, in a more tasteful manner, in the autumn of 1886.]

On the 14th June, the ministry of Sir Robert Peel met with a severe defeat in the House of Commons, upon an amendment brought forward by Mr. P.W. Miles, one of the members for Bristol, on the question of the sugar duties. Up to this time, the duty on foreign grown sugar was 63s. per cwt., while the tax on our colonial product was 24s. The Ministry proposed to reduce the former duty to 34s., giving the West India


interest a protection of 10s. per cwt. Mr. Miles objected to this reduction as inexpedient and as wanting in finality. After entering into lengthy details to show the depressed condition of the colonies, and contrasting their former prosperity with their late decay, he said: “He wished the Chancellor of the Excheqner could pay a visit to his (Mr. M.'s) estates in Jamaica, and view a state of things which was the sad spectre of what it once had been”. Already many estates had been thrown up; and he called on the agriculturists of England, whose cause with that of the West Indies was a common one, to save the colonists from the very great distress which the ministerial proposal would create. He concluded by moving that the duty on British sugars should be reduced to 20s. per cwt. The Opposition, on the ground that the amendment, if carried into effect, would be more advantageous to the consumer than the Government proposal, supported Mr. Miles, and on a division the Ministry were defeated by 241 votes against 221. The result caused great excitement in political circles. Three days later, Sir Robert Peel moved a resolution annulling the effect of the previous vote, and restoring the duty to 24s. - a proposal much condemned by several speakers, and especially by Mr. Disraeli, who charged the Premier with “laying down a tariff of political disgrace”. Mr. Miles also sharply complained of the conduct of the Ministry, and declared that he should continue to defend the interests of the West Indies. Sir Robert Peel's resolution was however carried by 256 votes against 233. About forty of the members of Mr. Miles's previous majority either absented themselves or changed sides.

The Bristol and Gloucester railway, which had been under construction about two years [see p.123] was opened to the shareholders on the 6th and to the public on the 8th July. The first six days' traffic on the line (which was closed on Sundays) amounted to £735. Of the seven coaches which had been running between the two cities, six were immediately withdrawn; and on the 22nd July the time honoured “north mail” left Bristol for the last time - the horses' heads surmounted with funereal plumes, and the coachman and guard in equally lugubrious array. The portion of the railway between Stonehouse and Gloucester had been made by the Great Western Company; the rest of the line (which had cost about £500,000), though originally intended to be of the narrow gauge, had been laid down on the broad gauge, under the advice of Mr. Brunel, the company's engineer. The result of this arrangement was, that although the opening


of the railway completed the chain of communications between Bristol and Newcastle on Tyne and all the leading towns on the route, every train was stopped at Gloucester as if a wall had been built across the way. In the course of the year, negotiations were set on foot for an amalgamation of the new line with that of the Gloucester and Birmingham Company (who had completed their task in December, 1840), and an arrangement between the two boards was soon after effected. The united companies then received offers of alliance from the Great Western and Midland directorates - each eager to secure the valuable territory. The rivalry of the two great concerns was close and keen; but the Midland Company, then under the rule of Hudson, “the railway king”, were eventually the successful bidders, their offer of a guaranteed dividend of six per cent. per annum in perpetuity being accepted in February, 1845. In the following year, to escape from obligations to the Great Western board, the Midland Company resolved to make a new line from Gloucester to Stonehouse, alongside that of their competitors, but so obstinate was the opposition of the latter that an Act for the purpose was not obtained until 1848. Preparations were then made to extend the narrow gauge system to Bristol; but further obstacles were successfully raised by the Great Western magnates, and for several years the passenger and goods traffic between the West of England and the manufacturing districts was brought to a dead stop at Gloucester. The narrow gauge carriages did not, in fact, reach Bristol until the 22nd May, 1854.[66]

A meeting of the friends and admirers of Robert Southey was held at the Institution, Park Street, on the 13th July, for the purpose of raising a subscription for the erection in his native city of a monument to the memory of the distinguished writer. The mayor (Mr. W.L. Clarke) presided over a scanty gathering, which appointed a committee to carry out the project, with an understanding that the artist of the memorial should be another distinguished Bristolian - Mr. E.H. Baily, B.A. It was found that £500 would suffice to erect a monument which would be worthy of the object and creditable to the city; but the subscriptions, excluding £20 by Mr. Baily and £30 by literary men unconnected with Bristol, amounted only to about £50. The subsequent


donations were so trifling that the committee abandoned the idea of a monument in College Green, which Southey had hoped for during his declining years, and contented themselves with obtaining a bust of the poet, which was placed in the north aisle of the cathedral in December, 1845.

About this time, the condition of the south lock at Cumberland Basin having occasioned some anxiety, the directors of the Dock Company applied to Mr. Brunel for his opinion as to the course to be taken. That gentleman reported that repairs of a costly character were indispensable, and that, considering the insufficient breadth of the lock (45 feet), it was advisable to entirely reconstruct the entrance, enlarging it to 52 feet, which he thought would adequately meet the future requirements of the port. The cost was estimated at £22,000. This report was approved by the directors, who communicated their intentions to the Council. The latter body, at a meeting on the 15th July, passed a resolution expressive of its gratification at the liberality of the Dock Company, and cordially concurring in their plan. The lock, afterwards known as Brunel's lock, was constructed of a width of 54 feet.

At the sale of the Chew Magna and Dundry estates of Mr. John Harford, which took place in Bristol in July, the Charity Trustees purchased farms and land at North Chew and Littleton, of the area of 207 acres, for which £11,500 were paid.

A company was formed in July, with a proposed capital of £8,000 in £20 shares, for the construction of a swivel bridge from Redcliff Back to the Grove. The shares were taken up, but in April, 1845, a resolution disapproving of the scheme was carried in the Council by 21 votes against 18. The project was consequently suffered to drop.

By the Bank Charter Act, passed in the session of 1844 at the instance of Sir Robert Peel, the issue of notes by provincial banks was limited to the average amount of their circulation during the previous two years. From an official return published in the London Gazette in September, it appeared that the average circulation of the local banks had been as follows: Bristol Old Bank (Messrs. Baillie, Ames & Co.), £89,540; Bristol Bank (Messrs. Miles & Co.), £48,277; West of England and South Wales District Bank, £83,535; Stuckey's Banking Company, £356,970.

Up to this time the guardians of the Clifton poor-law union had maintained three workhouses for the indoor paupers of the district - at Clifton for the aged and infirm, at Pennywell


Road for the able-bodied, and at St. George's for children. A proposal was now brought forward for the erection of one large establishment, with a view to economy in management. At a meeting of ratepayers, at Clifton, in October, it was stated that since the union was founded a new workhouse had been built in the parish at a cost of £4,000. It was contended that this building fulfilled the requirements of the locality; but the Penneywell Road workhouse was admitted to be a disgrace to the union [see p.200]. A resolution was passed to agitate for a separation of Clifton from the other parishes if the guardians persisted in the new project. At a meeting of the board, a few days later, however, it was resolved by a large majority to negotiate for the purchase of land near Stapleton, upon which to erect a workhouse capable of accommodating 1,180 inmates. An area of about seventeen acres was obtained for £3,500, and the builder's contract for the workhouse amounted to £10,916. The premises were first occupied in September, 1847, but they were at once found inadequate, and in December, 1848, the Poor Law Board authorised an expenditure of £25,000, including the cost of site. Additional buildings have been added from time to time, and the total outlay has been probably not less than £40,000. In spite of these extensions, the workhouse now accommodates only 1,161 inmates, recent regulations insisting on an increased cubic space for each pauper. The workhouse at Clifton, after its abandonment, was hired from the overseers, and became the Clifton Wood Industrial School. A vestry hall and parochial offices were built on part of the site in Penneywell Road, the rest of which was sold, as was the workhouse at St. George's.

In November, 1844, a prospectus appeared of the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth Railway Company, with a capital of £1,500,000 in £50 shares, for the construction of a railway from Corsham to Trowbridge and Westbury, with diverging lines from the last-named town to Salisbury and to Weymouth. The Great Western board, which promoted the scheme, undertook to work the line on a lease, and guaranteed a minimum yearly dividend of 4 per cent. The proposal excited strong disapproval amongst Bristol traders, on the ground that it threatened to obstruct if not destroy their extensive business in the commercial districts of Wilts and East Somerset, and measures were taken to oppose it in Parliament. The Great Western directors, however, undertook to establish direct communication between Bristol and the towns in question, and the Bill passed. Subsequently, an


Act was obtained to carry out the promise of the boards but the construction of the additional line was postponed from year to year, and the directors at last attempted to repudiate their pledges. The Court of Queen's Bench was eventually applied to for redress, when the construction of a railway from Bathampton to the above line at Bradford was declared to be obligatory on the Great Western Company. Another Act was obtained in the session of 1854, and the junction line was opened in February, 1857. The line to Salisbury had been finished in June, 1856, and the Weymouth section was completed in December of the same year. The cost of the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth system to the concern which absorbed it was over £3,000,000 - a sum exceeding the original capital of the Great Western Company.

The urgent need of providing the city with an additional supply of water had for some years before this time become a pressing public question. The state of the poor in many districts was lamentable in the extreme; and the high rate of mortality which generally prevailed was held to be largely attributable to the consumption of impure water, and to the dirt and squalor that prevailed amongst the labouring classes. At length, in March, 1840, a meeting was held, the mayor (Mr. J.N. Franklyn) presiding, when it was proposed to form a Bristol and Clifton Waterworks Company, with a capital of £60,000 in £50 shares. The scheme, however, failed from want of support. In November, 1841, notice of an intended application for parliamentary powers was given on behalf of the Merchant Yentarers' Company, who proposed to obtain a supply from springs in various suburban parishes, though it was understood that the chief source depended upon was the lower hot-well spring, near Black Rock. The subject was brought before the Council by a far-sighted member, who urged that the work of supplying the city ought to be undertaken by the Corporation; but the majority, sympathising with the Merchants' Company, refused to take any action. The Bill was shortly afterwards dropped, and nothing was done for some years. In the meantime Bristol was described in an official report as “worse supplied with water than any great city in England”. About a hundred houses near Richmond Terrace were supplied from wells known as Richmond and Buckingham springs; some 400 dwellings were connected with Sion spring, while a few families in and near College Green were provided from Jacob's Wells, the pipes from which were the property of the dean and chapter. The poor, excepting those living near the public conduits,


were generally without any provision. Water-carrying was therefore a common and lucrative trade, and as many thousand poor families had to pay on an average a penny daily for a scanty supply, it was not surprising that they should be stigmatised as extremely dirty in their habits. Unfortunately, too much of the water drawn from private wells was affected by neighbouring cesspools, and was pernicious to health.

Early in 1845, the Merchants' Society set about the construction of works for tapping the springs near Black Back, an engine-house[67] of somewhat fantastic design being erected near what was known during the previous century as the “New Hot Well”, while excavations for a reservoir were made in the ancient British camp on Clifton Down. It being obvious that this supply would be inadequate to meet the wants of the city, a company was started in April, 1845, to bring in a copious provision from more distant sources. The result was an obstinate and expensive struggle between the rival parties before a parliamentary committee in 1846, the Merchants' Society seeking to obtain exclusive powers for the supply of Clifton and the adjoining parishes. The committee of the House of Commons eventually approved of the more comprehensive scheme, and the company s Bill received the royal assent on the 16th July, 1846, the capital sanctioned being £200,000 in shares, and £66,000 in loans. [In order to buy off opposition when the Bill was before Parliament, negotiations were opened with the proprietors of the chief springs in Clifton, and the following sums were ultimately paid: The Merchants' Society for the river-side springs, machinery, and plant, £18,000; Mr. Coates, for Sion House spring, £13,500; Mr. W. Hamley, for Buckingham spring, £2,196; Mr. J. Coombe, for Richmond spring, £4,950; and for Whiteladies' spring, £400; total, £39,046.] Various sources of supply having been examined, it was resolved to have recourse to certain springs at Barrow Gurney and Harptree Combe, with others forming the head of the river Chew, at Litton and Chewton Mendip, the first two being about five, and the latter nearly sixteen miles distant from Bristol. Operations having been begun and continued with great vigour, the water from the Barrow springs was brought into the city for distribution on the 1st October, 1847. The remoter sources necessitated more


costly operations. The springs at Litton and Chewton were conveyed by several branches to a principal aqueduct, proceeding for upwards of two miles towards East Harptree, where it entered a tunnel about a mile and a quarter in length. Emerging from the rock of the hill, the aqueduct was carried over Harptree Combe (where it met with a feeder) by means of an iron tube supported at intervals by masonry. The valley haying been bridged, the water passed into a line of pipes of thirty inches diameter and upwards of four miles in length. At their termination was a tunnel of three-quarters of a mile through North Hill, followed by stone aqueducts over valleys at Leigh Down and Winford, and those were succeeded by the Winford tunnel, a mile long. The total length from Chewton Mendip to the Barrow reservoir was eleven miles, and it will be seen that most of the route necessitated costly operations. The springs brought to the store reservoir were calculated to yield four million gallons daily, and the reservoir being 25 acres in extent, it was estimated that the works as a whole would meet more than double the probable demands of the inhabitants. Three service reservoirs were also constructed for maintaining a constant supply throughout the city; the first at Bedminster Down, for that portion of the borough south of the Float; the second near Whiteladies Road, for the rest of the lower parishes and the suburbs; and the third on Durdham Down, at an elevation of 300 feet above high water mark in the Avon, for the service of the more elevated districts. The first of these was finished in 1847, and the others came into use in the following summer. The water flowed from Barrow to Whiteladies Road by simple gravitation, and was then driven up to Durdham Down by powerful pumps. The water rates fixed by the Act were moderate; for example, the charge upon a house of £20 rental was £1; on £50 rental, £2, and on £100 rental £3. For shops and offices the rate was 5s. per year for rentals under £20, and 8s. if under £50. To owners of small tenements a reduction was offered on the ordinary rates. The terms of the company were nevertheless far from being enthusiastically received, the water rents during the second year of its existence amounting to under £3,000. Up to February, 1850, only 3,152 houses were supplied throughout the city, of which 75 per cent. were rented at upwards of £20. The number, however, increased steadily after that date. In 1854 the company encountered its first serious difficulty. Early in the year a leakage occurred in the Barrow reservoir, which had to be emptied


before the repairs could be executed. A drought, unexampled for nearly sixty years, then set in, and from May to October the supply of water to the city was very limited, much to the wrath of the consumers. Throughout this era of the company's existence, the proprietors received no dividend on their capital, and it was not until March, 1856, that the directors were able to recommend a distribution at the modest rate of 14s. per cent. The average return of each of the three following years was only 2 per cent., and the £25 shares naturally sold much below par, the quotation being for some time between £8 and £9. Despairing of an adequate return under the original arrangement, the company, in the session of 1862, under a pretext of seeking for powers to construct a new reservoir at Barrow, promoted a Bill intended to materially change their relations with the inhabitants. The directors in applying for their first Act had undertaken to furnish a constant supply of water to consumers. It was now sought to cut off the supply for nine hours daily. Under the plea that it was necessary to prevent waste - it being alleged that through the carelessness which prevailed the whole freshwater current of the Avon would not suffice for the city - the scheme proposed that every family should be compelled to use and pay for a meter, to be supplied by the company. Finally it was proposed to levy an increased rate of 1½ per cent, on the rental of houses standing 200 feet above the level of Bristol Bridge. To the dissatisfaction of many citizens, the parliamentary committee of the Council manifested a marked sympathy towards the proposals of the company, and the Council itself was charged with indifference to the interests of the inhabitants. The clause abolishing constant service was approved with trifling modifications, and an extra rent of 1 per cent. on the high level dwellings was also conceded. The directors could well afford, under those circumstances, to abandon the clause enforcing the use of meters; and in this form the Bill became law. The new system had not been long in force, however, before the company had to encounter a fresh embarrassment. The spring and summer months of 1864 were accompanied by an unprecedented drought in the south and west of England. During the five months ending August, the rainfall at Clifton was only about 6½ inches, or less than half the average of the ten previous years. The company's springs produced only a small fraction of their usual supply; and as the store in the reservoirs rapidly diminished, the directors were compelled to make repeated deductions in the period of


service. This was for some weeks limited to one or two hours a day, but in various parts of the city the supply ceased altogether. Fortunately the drought broke up at the beginning of September, and the Bristol Times of the 10th announced that, on and after the 12th, the citizens would have “at least two hours, supply daily”. Additional sources were tapped to alleviate the pressure, a well in the coal measures at Bedminster being especially useful in supplying 160,000 gallons daily. Another source made available was the old “boiling well” at Ashton, which yielded no less than 200,000 gallons daily. In spite of these aids, however, the above newspaper of the 8th October, referring to the “water famine” in Clifton, said: “ Several housekeepers have been driven to such straits that in some cases we have actually seen Paterfamilias start in a fly with an empty barrel by the side of the driver, and go in search of a supply to the nearest spring, which is in some instances a mile off”. A week later the same writer reported that the “boiling well” was the only source of supply for Clifton and the upper districts, the Mendip springs having dried up. Urged by the Corporation, which bore the expense, the company opened Richmond spring, from which a valuable contingent could have been obtained; but the residents in the neighbouring houses, protesting against the noise that would be caused by a steam-engine, threatened to apply to Chancery for an injunction, and the preparations were dropped. It was not until December that the board were able to extend the supply to six hours a day. They intimated about the same time that they should insist upon payment of the full rates for the current six months - an announcement which did not contribute to their popularity. In the following session application was made to Parliament for powers to appropriate additional springs at Chelvey and other places, and to construct fresh reservoirs at Barrow and Knowle. It was also sought to largely increase the scale of charges then in force. The proposed advance in the rates varied from 30 to 66 per cent., but on this occasion the Council resolved on opposing the demands of the company, and the increase in the rates was eventually limited to about 20 per cent. An attempt to reduce the hours of service to ten per day was also resisted and defeated. That the directors were ungenerous in framing their Bill was proved by the subsequent progress of the undertaking, the dividends of which soon rose to ten per cent., while the shares attained a premium of nearly 180 per cent. In January, 1877, the Council, tardily repentant of its apathetic


policy in 1841, adopted by a large majority a resolution brought forward by Alderman Jones, affirming the desirability of the Corporation acquiring the water works; and a committee was appointed to negotiate with the company. After protracted labours, the committee reported in November. The directors, it appeared, had proposed that the entire capital of the undertaking, including a large sum not paid up in respect of new shares, and an additional £100,000 demanded in compensation for arrears of dividend, should be converted into £1,400,000 four per cent. bonds. On the other hand the committee had suggested that the Corporation should pay 10 per cent. yearly on the ordinary stock of £200,000 until 1883, and thereafter 12 per cent. on that stock and 10 per cent. on later issues. The directors subsequently offered concessions, and the differences were so narrowed as to give hopes of a compromise, when the committee, considering the year too far advanced to permit of legislation in the ensuing session, suspended their labours and reported progress to the Council, adding as an expression of their opinion that the transfer would be beneficial to the city. From the outset of the negotiations a section of the citizens had warmly opposed the purchase, and resolutions condemning the scheme had been passed at some thinly attended ward meetings. Certain persons interested in a project for partially supplying the city with water from old mine workings at Frampton Cotterell were especially active in their hostility. (A Bill for carrying out that speculation was rejected by the House of Commons in 1878.) The Council, moreover, had become indifferent about the matter. The report of the committee was simply “received”, and, as the committee was not re-appointed in the following year, the question dropped. In March, 1882, at the request of a public meeting, the Council again manifested a desire to acquire the works; but the directors peremptorily declined to reopen the negotiations. During the same year the company, which by that time had extended their mains to many suburban districts, finding it again advisable to increase their supplies, obtained parliamentary powers to acquire certain springs near Chewton Mendip and the Sherborne springs flowing into the Chew, and also to take an increased quantity from the Kenn, near Chelvey. These works were expected to give an additional supply of two and a half millions of gallons daily. The capital of the company, by Acts of 1850, 1858, 1862, 1865, and 1872, had been increased to £800,000. The new Bill asked for power to raise £400,000 more at the rate of 7 per cent.


per annum, by which the proprietors, whose £25 shares were already quoted at £70, would have been insured a luxuriant bonus on the new stock. Similar powers had been obtained on previous occasions, and most of the capital raised by loans had been converted into shares bearing a high rate of interest. But the Corporation, which had hitherto been strangely apathetic, now awoke to the interests of the citizens, and appealed to the House of Lords against the proposed rate of profit as unreasonable and extortionate. The Upper House reduced the rate of interest to 5 per cent. Amongst the works undertaken under this Act was the laying of a large conduit from the Sherborne springs for a distance of over thirteen miles, including a tunnel about a mile in length, near Whitchurch. The water from this source reached the city in 1885.

The perennial discontent of the commercial classes at the charges on vessels entering the port was the subject of a discussion in the Council in January, 1845, when it was stated on behalf of Messrs Hilhouse and Hill that the dues on Australian wool were seven times greater at Bristol docks than they were at London and Liverpool. Mr. K. Acraman had also represented to the Finance Committee that the charges on guano were 2s. 4d. per ton in Bristol, while they were only 2½d. at Liverpool. Mr. F. Green said that the local dues on shipping were 3s. a ton, against 1s. 6d. in the Mersey docks. The Council forthwith reduced the town dues on guano from 8d. to 1d. per ton, but had no power to deal with the wharfage due of 8d. levied by the Merchants' Company, or with the dock due of 1s. imposed by the dock board. At the same meeting it was announced that the Corporation had no power to expend the borough funds in enforcing the restoration to the public of Mother Pugsley's well [see p.249] or in resisting similar encroachments. It appeared that a clause to enable the Council to make payments out of the borough fund in defence of public rights to footpaths, etc., would have been inserted in the last Improvement Act, but that the Dock Company threatened such strenuous opposition at every stage of the Bill as to render it prudent to withdraw the clause in order to prevent the loss of the entire measure.

A proposed branch of the Bristol and Exeter railway, from Yatton to Clevedon, received the approval of the shareholders at a meeting on the 16th January. The line, which cost about £40,000, was opened on the 4th August, 1847.

The establishment of the Bristol Academy for the promotion of the Fine Arts was announced in the local newspapers of


the 1st January, 1845. A lady named Sharples headed the list of donors with a gift of £2,000, the president, Mr. J.S. Harford, and the vice-president, Mr. P.W. Miles, M.P., subscribing £100 each. The first exhibition of pictures was opened at the Institution, Park Street, in the following April. The Academy met with very feeble support from the citizens, and there seemed no probability that it would be furnished with funds for erecting a building suitable for its intended purposes. In 1848 it was suggested that the Institution should give up a portion of its premises to the Fine Arts Society, in consideration of a payment of £3,000; but the proposal was strongly opposed by Mr. J.N. Nash Sanders, on account of the weakness of the new organisation. It had begun, he pointed out, with sixty-three subscribers of a guinea each, and already they had dwindled to nineteen. The plan having been abandoned, the annual exhibitions of the society were held for some years in St. Augustine's Parade, in the large house fronting the drawbridge. Under the will of Mrs. Sharples, who died in 1849, the society eventually came into possession of the bulk of her estate, amounting to about £3,500; and the construction of an Academy of Art was determined upon in 1855. A building with a facade in the Italian style, but far from convenient in its internal arrangements, was erected near the Victoria Rooms, and opened on the 12th April, 1858. The society, nevertheless, did not make much progress in public favour. At the annual meeting in 1863, Mr. P.W. Miles observed: “It really seemed as if the people of this neighbourhood did not care in the least about the fine arts. Though there was a good collection of pictures on the walls, he always found the rooms perfectly empty. No amount of effort to bring pictures of the first class there seemed to be of any avail”. The net proceeds of the exhibition of that year were under £25. The situation does not appear to have been much more satisfactory in 1882, when Mr. B. Lang stated at the annual meeting that the total amount of donations for the previous thirty years had not averaged £4 annually. “That was Bristol love of art. They had tried year after year to get up a fund to buy some pictures, but the results had been pitiful. More recently, he had endeavoured to purchase some of the late Charles Branwhite's pictures, which it would have been an easy thing to do; but the sum promised was so ridiculous that he was forced to give up the project”. It ought to be added that Mr. Lang had himself offered a noble example to the wealthier class of citizens by presenting the institution with a number


of valuable paintings, chiefly by Bristol artists. His gift, however, remains unique.

St. Andrew's Church, Montpelier, was consecrated by Bishop Monk on the 31st January, 1845. It had cost only £2,428 in erection. The building was much enlarged in 1878, owing to the greatly increased population of the district. The ecclesiastical parish created for this church was subtracted from those of St. Paul and Horfield.

About this time the efforts of an Early Closing Association were successful in releasing a number of young men from business at an earlier hour than had previously been the rule,[68] and the necessity of an institution in which such persons could find instruction and innocent amusement soon became apparent. A committee having been formed, a course of lectures was delivered during the winter, and this experiment having proved successful, a meeting was held on the 24th February, the mayor (Mr. R.P. King) presiding, when it was resolved to found a literary institution under the title of the Bristol Athenæum. Negotiations were soon afterwards opened with the committees of the Mechanics' Institute and of the Clergy Book Society, both of which organisations were in a declining state, and the overtures resulted in their consolidation with the new body, their libraries, apparatus, etc., being also taken over. The Athenæum thus came into active operation in September, 1845, the rooms of the Clergy Book Society, in Broad Street, being fitted up for the accommodation of the members. In the following year the library was removed to a large room in a house in Corn Street (on the site now occupied by the bank of Messrs. Stuckey & Co.). The institution gradually became very popular; and in 1850, when the members numbered nearly 1,000, and when the scantiness of the accommodation provided was painfully felt, the directors recommended the acquirement on lease of the Queen Bess Tavern (formerly the residence of Whitson) and certain adjoining property lying between Corn Street and Nicholas Street, the access from the former being through Cypher Lane, and from the latter through Queen Bess Passage. [In removing these old constructions, some beautiful architectural remains were exposed of an edifice apparently erected at the beginning of the thirteenth century. On one side were three bays of semi-circular arches, springing from triple shafts, while the south wall was perforated by a Decorated two-light trefoil


headed window. Two Romanesque pilasters with sculptured capitals were also found in situ. The place had been traditionally styled Alderman Whitson's Chapel, from having adjoined his mansion.] The new buildings, which, with the furniture, etc., cost £6,600, were “inaugurated”, by Lord John Russell, President of the Council, on the 25th October, 1854. His lordship spent two days in the city, in the course of which he was entertained to breakfast by the mayor (Mr. J.G. Shaw), to a public soirée in the Victoria Rooms, at which 1,500 persons were present, and to a grand dinner by the members of the Council, to which the Duke of Beaufort and the Earl of Ducie were also invited. Party spirit, however, was still so strong that the bells of the city churches were all silent, and many Conservative members of the Council refused to contribute to the cost of the dinner, which was about £400. The Athenæum became so popular in its new quarters that in 1855 the members numbered 1,577; but after a brief period of prosperity, the roll rapidly diminished, the desertions being partially due to a violent attack made on the committee by the Rev. J.B. Clifford, of St. Matthew's, because they refused at his dictation to remove the Westminster Review from the library tables. Unfortunately, too, a debt of £2,000 had been left unprovided for; and in 1861 the bankers threatened to take possession of the property and to recoup themselves by a sale. By dint of strenuous exertions, the liabilities were at length wiped off.

The Bristol Stock Exchange was founded on the 17th Marcb, 1845, at a meeting of brokers, Mr. R.H. Webb presiding. Mr. J.K. Haberfield, an honorary member, was the first president and treasurer of the Exchange, which was opened on the 16th April. The “railway mania”, destined to end in a disastrous collapse, attained its highest development during this year; and amongst the extravagances to which it gave rise were two schemes for linking Bristol with Dover, two for railways from London to the Land's End, a line from Bristol to Norwich, etc. Writing some years after the fever, a contributor to the Bristol Times, who could be easily identified, observed:- “Fairy legends had no wonders for us like that time. You saw a man to-day in the streets of Bristol whom you would not trust with the loan of a five-pound note; to-morrow he splashed you with the wheels of a new Long-acre carriage. He was as suddenly transformed from a twenty pound house to a mansion in the country, and though small beer refreshed him during the greater part of his life, he now became critical in the taste of Bordeaux. A


railway, in fact, was not a means of transport but a thing to bet and gamble about. . . . Once in the height of the sorrowful farce, I had occasion to call on a couple of 'bold brokers' in a certain street not a mile from the centre of Bristol. The flavour of old Havannahs and new scrip filled the place; the clerks were having chops and tomato sauce, and a silver-necked bottle proved they enjoyed at least a reversion of the Saint Peray from the principals' apartment, into which I was summoned. Softly I trod on a Turkey carpet; a tray well furnished stood on a sideboard; and piles of prospectuses flanked the fine ponderous bronze inkstand of the man of projects, who sat in a richly cushioned chair. Voices issued from the neighbouring room, where the second principal saw others on business, and the click of plates and occasional flying of corks proved how actively the business of allotments was progressing. But they came like shadows, and so departed”.

The commercial interests of Bristol in South Wales being seriously threatened by the construction of railways connecting the Principality with London and the midland districts, a prospectus was issued in April of the Bristol and South Wales Junction Railway Company, The proposed capital was £200,000, and so popular was the scheme, and so eager the desire to invest during the mania then prevailing, that the shares soon commanded a preposterous premium. According to the plan of the promoters, fop which an Act was obtained, the line was to proceed from the Great Western terminus to the Old and New Passages by way of Baptist mills, Horfield Down, and Almondsbury. In connection with this railway, a second scheme was propounded for a railway from the northern shore of the Severn to Chepstow and Monmouth. Another prospectus, issued about the same time, was that of the Bristol and Liverpool Railway Company, with a capital of two millions, which proposed to construct a bridge over the Severn. This project had the support of the mayor and sheriff of Bristol, and the subscriptions for shares far exceeded the number proposed to be issued. None of these designs were, however, carried out, the two latter being abandoned before application was made to Parliament. In 1851, after about a third of the share capital had been spent, it was acknowledged by all concerned that the South Wales Junction scheme was in a hopeless condition; but difficulty was encountered in dissolving the company, owing to the invariable absence of a quorum when a statutory meeting was convened. In October, 1853, the undertaking


was formally relinquished. Nevertheless, in 1854 a new scheme was started, having the same end in view, but proposing to construct a line to the New Passage by way of Queen Square, the Hotwells, Sea-mills, and Shirehampton, with a floating bridge over the Severn by which entire trains were to be carried across, and unloading avoided. The capital was fixed at £600,000. The proposal was approved at an influentially attended meeting, and the Council intimated its assent, but the paucity of subscriptions and threatened opposition led to the project being dropped. In July, 1856, another prospectus was issued by the party of Bristolians who had all along urged the necessity of action. The original line of country was, with modifications, adopted; the capital was fixed at £300,000; and “floating steam bridges” were to be devised by Mr. Brunel for crossing the Channel. An Act authorising the project was obtained in 1857, but it was not until October, 1850, that the contractor began operations, the tunnel of 1,242 yards at Patchway being first undertaken. The New Passage ferry was bought soon after for £2,700, and the construction of the immense wooden piers followed. The tunnel was completed in July, 1860, and the line was formally opened on the 25th August, 1863. In 1867 an arrangement was made by the directors with the Great Western board, under which the railway and works at the end of three years became the property of the latter company. Originally constructed on the broad gauge, the line was altered to narrow gauge in August, 1873.

At a meeting of the Council on the 13th August, 1845, the Improvement Committee presented a report strongly condemning the narrow, inconvenient, and dangerous streets between Bristol Bridge and the railway station, and recommending the construction of a new thoroughfare, to be called Victoria Street. The expenditure required for this purpose was estimated at £84,510, but it was anticipated that £44,200 would be recovered by the resale of building sites, etc. The committee also recommended an extensive alteration of the road from Cumberland Basin to St. Austustine's Back, including improvements in the Jacob's Wells road, the gross expense of which was estimated at £63,900 and the net outlay at £26,250. The widening of Bristol Bridge at a cost of £8,000, the improvement of the road from Park Street to the Victoria Rooms at an expense of £4,200, and the arching over of a part of the malodorous Froom, set down at £3,400, also formed features of this report, the comprehensiveness and boldness of which were without precedent in local annals.


In the following year the Improvement Committee suggested various alterations in the scheme, and added to it a project for a new street commencing in Nelson Street opposite Bridewell Street, and having terminations in Wine Street and Broad Street. This plan, which was intended to sweep away a quantity of wretched habitations, was expected to cost £38,000. A Bill to authorise this and other improvements was introduced into Parliament in 1847. [At the sitting of the inspectors sent down by the Government to inquire into the merits of the scheme, the town clerk stated that Bristol then contained 250 streets, 50 lanes, and 390 courts and alleys; the number of houses, was about 20,000. In regard to the number and area of places for public recreation, he said that Queen Square had an area of over 6¾ acres, College Green about 4¼ acres, Brunswick Square 1¼ acre, Portland Square 2¼ acres, and King Square nearly 1¼ acre. Brandon Hill was 19½ acres in extent, and £800 had been recently collected by private subscription for the purpose of forming walks there.] The Bill - which empowered the Council to levy a yearly Improvement Rate not exceeding twopence in the pound - received the royal assent; but owing to the financial charges attending the transfer of the docks to the city the proposed works were not popular, and in 1849 the more costly schemes were indefinitely deferred. The Council resolved, however, on widening portions of Hotwell Road, Limekiln Lane, and Bread Street, broadening the roadway at the Stone Bridge, and effecting some minor improvements in the out-parish of St. Philip's. In March, 1852, when the powers of the Act in reference to Victoria Street, Bristol Bridge, etc., were about to expire from effluxion of time, the Council determined upon undertaking a portion of the new street at a net cost of £11,300; but the intention was strongly condemned at ward meetings of the ratepayers, and the resolution was rescinded a few weeks later.

Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV., paid a brief visit to Bristol on the 20th August, stopping one night at the Royal Hotel, Mall, Clifton, and spending a few hours on the following day at Blaize Castle and Kingsweston.

William James Müller, the greatest painter to which Bristol has given birth, expired at the residence of his brother, Mr. E.G. Müller, on the 8th September, aged 33. Mr. Müller was born at No. 13, Hillsbridge Parade, on the 28th June, 1812. His father, a Prussian of good scientific abilities, had fled from Germany upon the occupation of the country by the French, and found his way to Bristol, where he married

1845.]DEATH OF W.J. MÜLLER.293

a Miss James, a member of an old family in the city, and was for some years curator of the Bristol Institution. The son showed artistic talent whilst very young, and a promising original picture, executed in his fourteenth year, was accepted and shown at the Bristol annual exhibition of works of art. Shortly afterwards he was apprenticed to Mr. J.B. Pyne, a meritorious artist then residing on St. Michael's Hill; but the connection was broken at the end of about three years, and young Müller thenceforth became his own master. His first picture exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1833, “The destruction of old London Bridge”, was painted when he was little more than twenty years old. Before that date he had produced some hundreds of sketches, chiefly of quaint old buildings in Bristol and picturesque spots in the neighbourhood, most of which were disposed of to local collectors at a few shillings each. Eager for a wider fields he accompanied another local artist, Mr. G. Fripp, in a tour through Germany and Italy. But he seems to have had an early longing for the East, and as soon as his circumstances permitted, he departed for Greece, following up this tour with another in Egypt, and subsequently a third in Asia Minor, and producing works on each occasion which gained him high repute in the artistic world. One of these pictures, “Chess Players in Cairo”, was sold at the dispersion of the Gillott gallery for upwards of 5,000 guineas. Unhappily Müller's constitution was never robust, and it is not improbable that the effects of an Eastern climate and the fatigues of travelling brought about the malady which cut short his career. He had removed from Bristol to London in 1889. He returned here in the summer of 1845, in the hope of recovering strength in his native air; but he came back only to die. His remains were interred in the Unitarian cemetery in Brunswick Square. Shortly afterwards his sketches, etc., were sold in London, and produced £4,242. An interesting biography of Müller, written by his friend, W. Neal Solly, was published in 1872. Upon the death, in September, of Dr. Law, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the parish of Bedminster was detached from that diocese, and came under the episcopal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. The change did not take place without manifold protests in the press and elsewhere on the part of the rector, the Rev. M.R. Whish; but when that eccentric gentleman, who was noted for his pertinacity, followed them up by reading a document from the pulpit of his church, denying the jurisdiction of his new diocesan, a suit was raised against him in the Prerogative Court of


Canterbury. On his making a formal apology, however, the freak was condoned.

Towards the close of Mr. King's mayoralty, and chiefly at his instigation, another attempt was made by the Council to purchase the rights of the Dock Company over the port and harbour. At a meeting of the civic body on the 19th November, it was reported by the special committee appointed to negotiate with the directors, that their efforts had been fruitless. Although the annual dividends of the company for the previous twenty-three years had averaged only £2 2s. 3d. per cent., the committee had proposed that the city should guarantee the shareholders £2 10s. per cent.; but the directors demanded 3 per cent. The Council approved of the steps taken by the committee; and in the following February renewed its efforts for a solution by proposing to the directors that the amount of dividend to be guaranteed should be fixed by arbitration. The company maintaining its attitude of stolid resistance, the matter again fell to the ground.

The details of a dispute which threatened to culminate in an “affair of honour”, were laid before the public in the Bristol Gazette of the 10th December. It appeared that a few days previously a paragraph appeared in the Bristol Times stating that a situation in the Custom House had been conferred upon an Irishman, and that this was the second or third instance in which - probably through the remissness of those who were expected to look after such matters - the patronage of the Government offices had been snatched by other localities. At a meeting of the True Blue Club (formed in 1844 with a view to promoting unity in the Tory party), the honorary secretary, Mr. Charles Blisset, of Clifton, characterised this statement as “a wilful and deliberate falsehood”. Mr. Leech, the proprietor of the Times, forthwith requested an explanation, but Mr. Blisset only replied that the committee of the club were of the same opinion as himself. Mr. Henry Shute, the “friend” of Mr. Leech, thereupon requested Mr. Blisset to appoint a “friend” also, with a view to a hostile encounter; whereupon Mr. Blisset wrote that he “peremptorily declined the challenge; first, because I can substantiate the charge, and, secondly, because every member of the committee who adopted my opinion would be liable to a similar attack, so that Mr. Leech, in addition to his title as a public slanderer, may have to add that of a murderer also”. The writer went on to assail Mr. Leech's character in acrimonious terms, and concluded by declaring that so long as the editor of the Bristol Times criticised the True Blue Club, he


(Mr. B.) would continue to expose his treachery. The correspondence having been published for the edification of the public, Mr. Leech, in commenting upon the charges of treachery and falsehood, said “they are comprised in the offence of my wishing to have an independent opinion of my own, and determining not to be made the means of gratifying the personal animosities of two or three individuals”. His explanation was briefly as follows. In November, 1844, the chief promoters of the True Blue Club published a poll book of the municipal election for Clifton Ward, with the avowed object of depriving Liberal tradesmen of Conservative patron, age. This, it appeared, Mr. Leech had condemned, whereupon, “the fiat went forth, that the paper that would not defend exclusive dealing was unworthy of confidence, and must be crushed”. This retort led to an animated correspondence on the part of Mr. Henry Bush and others, and had doubtless the effect of exasperating the discord already prevailing in the party since the election of 1841, and ending, as will shortly be seen, in the complete rupture of 1847.

The old almshouses in Barrs' Lane, belonging to St. James's parish, having been taken down for reconstruction, the Council, in February, 1846, succeeded in purchasing the site, and were thus enabled to widen the thoroughfare - afterwards called Barrs' Street. About the same time the Council determined on buying some houses in Barton Alley, leading from St. James's Barton to the churchyard, in which, as a committee reported, two persons carrying umbrellas could not pass. Property was also acquired in Bridewell Street, and the widening of both thoroughfares was commenced. The Bridewell Street improvement was soon finished, but owing to the obstinacy of one or two persons. Barton Alley was not opened for vehicles until some fifteen years later.

During the memorable debates in the House of Commons on Sir Robert Peel's proposal for the abolition of the corn laws at the end of three years, one of the members for Bristol, Mr. P.W. Miles, was selected by the Protectionists to resist the motion of the Ministry for going into committee on the subject. After an unusually protracted struggle, Mr. Miles's amendment was defeated on the 27th February by 337 votes against 240. In the course of the discussion, the junior member for the city, Mr. Berkeley, excited amusement by reading to the House a letter to a Bristol merchant in which Mr. Miles had declared that “it would be better for all parties that the repeal [of the corn laws] should be immediate”, and that he should not oppose such a motion if it


were made. Mr. Berkeley presented a petition in favour of the ministerial scheme, signed by 18,000 Bristolians, “Conservatives equally with Liberals”. There was no petition from the city in a contrary sense.

About the month of April, the large mansion in Dighton Street, commonly known as Harford House from having been formerly the residence of the Harford family, was purchased by certain Roman Catholics, who established in it a convent dedicated to “Our Lady of Mercy”. The nuns subsequently established an orphanage for sixty children, and added a large school-house.

In May, the mansion known as Cotham Lodge, which had been evacuated a short time before by Mr. William Fripp, was razed to the ground, the estate having been purchased for conversion into building sites. The place was afterwards called Cotham Park. The only relic of the original buildings is a lofty “observatory” or tower, erected in 1779 on the base of a windmill, and commanding a very extensive prospect.

Persons who have grown up since the creation of educational machinery embracing all classes of society can with difficulty realize the ignorance prevailing amongst the poor at the period now under review. A year or two earlier, a committee had been formed in the city to promote unsectarian education; but, as the Roman Catholic priests and the Unitarian ministers were forthwith excluded from the work, the chief effect of the movement was to demonstrate the prejudices of its leaders. In the summer of 1846, Miss Mary Carpenter and a few kindred spirits, taking compassion on the “gutter children” or “street Arabs” which prowled about in great numbers, resolved upon opening a room in Lewin's Mead, then notorious for the degraded character of its inhabitants, and offering free instruction to the waifs who would attend. On the first morning (Sunday, August 2nd), three boys presented themselves, and in the afternoon the attendance exceeded a dozen. A short extract from the master's diary will afford an idea of the difficulties of the enterprise in which he had engaged: “That afternoon I shall never forget. Only thirteen or fourteen boys present; some swearing, some fighting, some crying. One boy struck another's head through the window. I tried to offer up a short prayer, but found it was impossible. The boys, instead of kneeling, began to tumble over one another, and to sing 'Jim Crow'”. From one of the promoters of the school we further learn that “none of the lads had shoes or stockings;


some had no shirt and no home, sleeping in casks on the quay or on steps, and living by petty depredations”. By untiring patience and kindliness, however, the teacher obtained such influence over many of his reckless pupils as to secure the regular and orderly attendance of thirty boys, several of whom made good progress, and some, after being reclaimed from moral degradation, were enabled to earn an honest livelihood. A visible improvement was effected in Lewin's Mead, which had previously been the scene of almost constant disorder. Gratified with the results of this experiment, the promoters of the “Ragged School”, hired the historic old chapel in St. James's Back, to which the institution was removed in December. A night school was then added, bringing in “a swarm of young men and women, whose habits and character almost caused even the stout heart of Mary Carpenter to quail. Early in 1847 the numbers one Sunday evening amounted to two hundred; the attempt to close the school with prayer was baffled by mockery, and the court beneath resounded with screams and blows”. Nevertheless, through the devotion of Miss Carpenter, the institution gradually became a centre of enlightenment and civilisation, and it is difficult to overrate its effects on the miserable district in which it was situated. The experience gained in it by its foundress led her, a few years later, to widen her aims in reference to the youthful semi-criminal population, and the result was the establishment in 1852 of a Reformatory school at Kingswood - in the house once hired by John Wesley. This was followed, two years later, by the creation of a second institution of this class for girls, in the Red Lodge, Park Row, which was purchased for the purpose by Lady Byron, and placed under Miss Carpenter's sole control. For an adequate account of the indefatigable efforts of this remarkable woman on behalf of the juvenile poor, the reader must be referred to the memoir written by one of her nephews. In October, 1877, four months after her death, a meeting, notable for the total absence of sectarian spirit displayed by its promoters, was held in the Guildhall for the purpose of taking measures to found a suitable memorial of her philanthropic exertions. The chief speakers were Canon Girdlestone, the Rev. Dr. Percival, the Rev. Dr. Caldicott, the Rev. A.N. Blatchford (Unitarian), the Rev. U. Thomas Independent), and Mr. L. Fry (Friend). It was resolved to extend the operation of the Home for boys established by Miss Carpenter, to establish a Home for girls, and to erect a monument to her memory in the Cathedral. The subscriptions


for these objects amounted to about £2,700. The monument bears a profile bust of Miss Carpenter by Mr. J. H. Thomas, a Bristol sculptor.

Sir Charles Wetherell, recorder of Bristol, died on the 17th August, 1846, in consequence of injuries sustained by having been thrown from a phæton. Sir Charles was 76 years of age, and, according to a notice of him in the Bristol Times of July 17, 1858, he was in the constant habit, for some years previous to his death, of going to sleep whilst trying prisoners at quarter sessions. The vacant office (no longer in the gift of the Corporation) was conferred by the Government on Mr. Richard Budden Crowder, Q.C., who, on becoming a judge in March, 1854, was succeeded by Sir Alexander Cockburn, then Attorney General, the salary being reduced from £700 to £600 a year. In November, 1856, the office again became vacant, its occupant having been appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. The salary was then further reduced to £500. Mr. Serjeant Kinglake, the new recorder, held the office until his death, in July, 1870. Sir Robert Collier, Attorney General, was his successor; but during his re-election as Member of Parliament for Plymouth, rendered necessary by the appointment, he was so severely censured by his constituents for holding dual offices that he forthwith resigned the post. The recordership was thereupon conferred upon Mr. Montague Bere, Q.C., who relinquished it in July, 1872, and was succeeded by Mr. Thomas Kingdon Kingdon, Q.C., who died in December, 1879. Mr. Charles Grevile Prideaux, then recorder of Exeter, and son of the late Mr. N.G. Prideaux, solicitor, Bristol, was appointed to the vacancy.

The exactions of the Dock Company, and the consequent depression of the commerce of the city, became the more insupportable at this time from the rapid progress which was taking place in the neighbouring ports. The Council having shown an unwillingness to take action, notwithstanding memorials from the ratepayers, a great meeting of merchants, traders, and others was held on the 29th September, 1846, Mr. Robert Bright presiding, when it was resolved to form a Free Port Association, with the view of emancipating the city from the thraldom under which it groaned. The movement was enthusiastically welcomed by a large majority of the inhabitants, meetings of whom were convened in each ward to consider the question. At each of those gatherings a demand for an equitable arrangement was loudly urged, and two gentlemen were delegated to co-operate with the


promoters of the association, while at meetings of the various trades cordial support was offered to the agitation by the establishment of an Operatives' Free Port Association. Subsequently a committee of the Council was nominated to act in conjunction with Mr. Bright and his friends, and at a meeting of the municipality, on the 1st January, 1847, this body presented a report which displayed the wrong-headed policy of the dock board in striking colours. From a table showing the dock dues and charges on vessels entering inwards at the leading ports, it appeared that the charges at Bristol amounted to 2s. 1d. per ton, as compared with 9½d. at London, 1s. 7d. at Liverpool, 3½d. at Southampton, 3d. at Cardiff, and nothing at Gloucester. As regarded the import charges on the principal articles of commerce, they were found to be 8s. 8d. at Bristol, against 4s. 6d. at Liverpool, 2s. 10d. at Gloucester, 1s. 7½d. at Hull, and 1s. 3½d. at Cardiff. After prolonged negotiations with the dock directors a bargain was at last struck, and the Council, on the 25th of October, 1847, by a majority of 42 votes against 4, approved of a scheme by which the dock estate was to be transferred to the Corporation, on the latter undertaking to pay the proprietors a rent charge of £2 12s. 6d. per cent.[69] on the original shares of £147 9s. each (redeemable at any time at the sum of £96 15s. 6d.), and interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum for the first twelve years on the bonds of the company. In order to secure those conditions by an unquestionable guarantee, the dock board demanded that a rate should be imposed on the entire fixed property of the city, and to this the Council agreed, but fixed the maximum rate at fourpence in the pound. The increase of 2s. 6d. per cent. on the terms offered to the dock shareholders in 1845 was defended on the ground that the company had in the meantime expended two years' income (£30,000) in improvements, and that the net receipts of the dock had increased about £700 a year. The proposed arrangement caused great excitement in the city. At a public meeting on the 14th February, 1848, at which the trading classes were largely represented, an approval of the transfer was subjected to a condition, imposed on the motion of Mr. W. Herapath, namely, that the new dock board should consist of commissioners chosen by the ratepayers, and that a fund of £50,000 should be previously formed by means of subscriptions to provide for repairs and contingencies. The


controversy almost wholly monopolised local attention for many months, the working classes at repeated meetings expressing approval of the movement. At length, in the session of 1848, the Free Port Association (in which the Chamber of Commerce had been merged) promoted a Bill for carrying the above arrangement into effect. A petition signed by 19,000 Bristolians was presented in support of the scheme, and others praying for its adoption were forwarded from Bath, Stroud, Trowbridge, and other towns. But a formidable opposition had been organised against the clause authorising a rate upon household property; and it was also urged before the House of Commons Committee that it was inexpedient to vest the docks in the Corporation, whose antecedents were declared to have caused discontent amongst the majority of ratepayers. The House nevertheless followed the example of 1803 in reference to the rating clause; but a provision was inserted rendering it imperative on the Corporation to reduce the dues to an extent equivalent to the sum charged upon the ratepayers. As the opposition did not renew the struggle in the Upper Chamber, the Bill received the royal assent on the 30th June, 1848. On the 23rd August following, the deed transferring the docks from the company to the Corporation was formally executed. The capital of the company at that date was found to be £259,954 in shares, and £256,400 in “notes” bearing interest - a sinking fund having reduced the total original capital by £77,665. [In 1860, the docks' committee of the Council paid off the “notes”, and issued bonds at a lower rate of interest, thus effecting a saving of £2,500 a year. In 1882 another great financial operation was completed, the rent charge of £2 12s. 6d. per cent. being redeemed, and the proprietors paid off in corporation bonds or in cash. On the termination of this arrangement the old Dock Company ceased to exist.] Under the provisions of the Act the Council forthwith elected a Docks Committee for the management of its new property. No time was lost by this body in preparing a new table of dues, showing an average reduction of upwards of 50 per cent. on vessels and of 20 per cent, on goods as compared with that previously in force. The dues on 530 articles of merchandise were wholly abolished. [Notwithstanding the remissions, the surplus income in 1851 was reported to be £3,800, and the dues on some imports were further reduced. But the aggregate reductions proved to be too large, the receipts being insufficient to provide for maintenance and repairs, and in January, 1856, the Council slightly raised the charges, so


as to obtain an additional income of £3,500. The scale was reduced to its former level in 1861.] The Merchants' Society, soon after the transfer, abolished the wharfage dues on Irish importations, and on the general exports of the port. The new tariff came into effect on the 15th November, 1848, when the event was celebrated by a general holiday, and by a “free port demonstration” - one of the most imposing displays ever known in the city. The mayor (Mr. Haberfield), the members of the Corporation, of the Merchants' Society, and of the Corporation of the Poor, the Free Port Association, and numbers of merchants and traders, assembled at the Cattle Market, where they were joined by the artisans of every branch of local industry, the members of the chief benefit societies, and innumerable bands of music. The immense procession made its way towards Clifton Down through the principal streets, amidst the acclamations of many thousands gathered to witness the parade. The day concluded with numerous public dinners. Notwithstanding the natural elation which characterised the speeches of the “free port” leaders, however, it could not be disguised that the object which gave the organisation its name had not been achieved. The port was far from “free”. As a matter of fact, the harbour charges were still higher than those existing at some other ports; and those who had opposed the scheme called upon the successful party to carry out their programme. In the course of the struggle Mr. E. Bright and other free port men had admitted that, in the face of the tax placed on the citizens, the mercantile and shipowning interests ought to make a considerable sacrifice. A subscription of £50,000 was suggested; but although Mr. Bright offered to become responsible for a considerable sum, the appeal generally fell on deaf ears. The association, asserting that it had fulfilled its mission, dissolved on the 1st October, 1850, and nothing more was heard of the mercantile donation. Unfortunately this was not all. The expenses of the association having exceeded the subscriptions by about £650, an appeal was made to the commercial classes to clear off the liabilities; but the response was disappointing, only about £160 being contributed. After some months' delay, Mr. Bright forwarded a cheque for £500 to a member of the executive, observing: “Every effort which propriety and self-respect will permit has now been made to obtain the assistance of our fellow citizens with but imperfect success, and I cannot allow either myself, or a body of gentlemen from whom I received singular confidence, to remain longer in the painful and unfit situation in which we are placed by claims


on the association remaining unsatisfied”. Subsequently a subscription was started for presenting a testimonial of public gratitude to Mr. Bright as the person chiefly instrumental in conducting the movement to success, and a sum exceeding £700 was contributed. Mr. Bright expressed his desire that the money should be bestowed upon some local institution, whereupon an amusing rivalry broke forth, a crowd of organisations severally making eager demands for the golden prize. The competition eventually led Mr. Bright to withdraw his request, and the fund was devoted to the purchase of a handsome service of plate, the centre-piece of which bore an allegorical group representing Bristol accompanied by Commerce and Prosperity, and under the protection of Commercial Liberty. The plate was presented to Mr. Bright by Mr. P.W. Miles, M.P., at a meeting held in the Council Chamber on the 21st January, 1855. Mr. Bright's portrait was also painted, and presented to the Merchants' Society. Mr. Leonard Bruton, who had acted as secretary of the association, was presented in 1865 with a handsome piece of plate and £500 “in recognition of his zealous, disinterested, and valuable services”, the subscribers to the testimonial embracing most of the leading citizens.[70] It would be interesting to discover the precise effect of the scheme by which the Corporation recovered control over the port; but in adducing statistics on the subject it is necessary to bear in mind that the abolition of the corn and navigation laws, and the great gold discoveries in California and Australia were contemporaneous with the early years of the new system, and that the commerce of the city would probably have largely increased even if no local change had occurred. Keeping these facts in view, the following summary of a statement made by Mr. Bruton before the British Association in 1875 will be found of interest. In the last twenty years of the old dock board the progressive increase of the import trade of Bristol was at the average rate of 33 per cent.; the first ten years following the transfer showed an increase of 66½ per cent., and in the next ten years there was a further advance of over 62 per cent. Comparing 1848 with 1874, the foreign import trade of the port had


increased 300 per cent. The net rateable value of property had remained almost stationary under the restrictive system; but it had risen from £406,000 in 1841 to £720,000 in 1871. Notwithstanding the redaction in dock dues, the receipts from that source had increased 50 per cent., while the income from town and other port charges was three times greater in 1874 than in 1847.

The famine which afflicted Ireland and the Scottish Highlands daring the year 1847 called forth liberal manifestations of public sympathy in Bristol and the neighbourhood. The amount subscribed in this city for the sufferers amounted to upwards of £9,000.

During the autumn of this year the inhabitants of Cotham and Redland appear to have become awakened to the defects in the sanitary and police arrangements of the district. The residents complained of the utter absence of sewers and lamps; and their remonstrances on the latter point led to a resolution of the Council, declaring it expedient that all parts of the city should be lighted with gas, and ordering negotiations with the gas companies with a view to a reduction in their shares. The matter, however, was suffered to drop, and the suburbs remained as dark as before.

Under the provisions of an Act passed in the previous session, the Bristol County Court came into existence in 1847, Mr. Arthur Palmer, jun., the first judge, opening the new tribunal in the Guildhall on the 15th March. The old Court of Conscience, which had existed from the time of William III., was superseded, but the more ancient Tolzey Court was not interfered with. In 1855 Mr. Palmer resigned his judgeship from ill-health, and was succeeded by Sir Eardley Wilmot, bart., who held the office until 1862, when he was promoted to a metropolitan court. His successor here was Mr. W.H. Willes, who died a few days after his appointment. The next judge was Mr. Edward J. Lloyd, Q.C., who resigned in 1874, and was followed by Mr. R.A. Fisher. The latter died in 1879, and was succeeded by Mr. W.J. Metcalfe, Q.C., recorder of Norwich.

Buckingham Chapel, Clifton, erected by the Baptist denomination at a cost of £6,000, was opened on the 2nd June, 1847. The architecture of the building showed a marked improvement upon most of the so-called Gothic erections of the period; and the richness of the front excited much admiration.

At the dissolution of Parliament, in July, a local contest of an unusually exciting character took place. As has been


already recorded, the defeat of Mr. Tripp in 1841 caused great irritation amongst many stanch Conservatiyes, who contended that that gentleman had been unfairly treated by some of the friends of Mr. Miles. The ill-feeling between the two camps had been only aggravated by time, Mr. Miles remaining a firm protectionist, whilst Mr. Fripp approved of the free-trade policy of Sir Robert Peel. As another election drew near, the rival sections seemed to forget their political enemies, and prepared for a fierce contest for supremacy between themselves. There seems to have been dissension in the Liberal camp also, for a Mr. Apsley Pellatt, introduced by some Nonconformists, met with a very cold reception. Mr. Berkeley, the former Liberal representative, was returned at the head of the poll. The numbers were: Mr. Berkeley, 4,381; Mr. Miles, 2,595; Mr. Fripp, 2,476; Mr. Pellatt, 171. Mr. Miles had 970 plumpers, Mr. Fripp 912, and Mr. Berkeley 2,247. The friends of Mr. Fripp loudly complained of the intimidation exercised by the leading supporters of Mr. Miles, and the wounds given in the fratricidal conflict remained unhealed for several years.

An appearance of the celebrated Swedish vocalist, Jenny Lind, at the Bristol theatre, on September 27th, caused such excitement in the locality that the event seems worthy of a permanent record. Notwithstanding the high prices fixed for admission - 25s. for the boxes, 20s. for the pit, and 10s. for the gallery - the demand for seats exceeded the supply, and a portion of the stage was railed off for the accommodation, at 5s. each, of about 500 persons condemned to stand throughout the performance. The programme consisted of selections from operas, an air from “The Creation”, and some Swedish melodies. Mdlle. Lind sang at a miscellaneous concert, given a few evenings later at the Victoria Rooms, at which the prices of admission ranged from 5s. to 21s.

Two new churches for the populous eastern districts of the city were in course of construction, and a third was resolved upon, in the course of this year. That of St. Simon's, Baptist Mills, was consecrated on the 22nd December; a similar ceremony took place at St. Mark's, Lower Easton, on the 18th May, 1848, and St. Jude's, Poyntz Pool, was opened in June, 1849. The three buildings cost about £2,500 each. The ecclesiastical districts of St. Simon and of St. Jude were taken out of Trinity parish, St. Philip's; the other was abstracted from St. George's and Stapleton. The Rev. J.R. Woodford, afterwards Bishop of Ely, was the first incumbent of St. Mark's.


By the will of Mr. Robert Suple, of the Mall, Clifton (a retired Bristol linen draper), who died in 1847, the sum of £8,300 was bequeathed to various local charities. Amongst the bequests was one of £1,000 to the Infirmary, for providing two annual prizes to medical students in that institution for the encouragement of medical and surgical science.

The parish church of Abbot's Leigh was partially destroyed by fire on Sunday the 20th February, 1848. The flames burst from the building soon after the conclusion of afternoon service, and were attributed to the foulness of the heating flues. The tower escaped with little injury.

During the spring an arrangement was effected by the Improvement Committee of the Corporation and the Charity Trustees, by which the former surrendered certain property in Portwall Lane, formerly known as the Law Ditch, which the trustees had claimed as part of the estates devised for charitable purposes by Alderman Whitson. The trustees gave up part of the frontage for the purpose of widening the thoroughfare, on receiving £350 as compensation.

In April, 1848, Bishop Monk informed the rural deans in his diocese of his intention to surrender a considerable sum of money which he expected to receive from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with a view to benefiting the poorer class of livings. The money in question was to be paid for the surrender of the bishop's interest in the manor of Horfield, and the matter soon afterwards excited attention in Parliament. From Dr. Monk's subsequent statement, it appeared that the manor of Horfield had been leased many years previously for three lives. Two of these had fallen in about 1831, in the episcopate of Bishop Gray, but neither that prelate nor his successor, Bishop Allen, had been able to agree with the lessee on terms for a renewal. The matter was complicated by the fact that some of the land was held under the lessee by copyholders, while the double uncertainty of leasehold and copyhold tenures had prevented the erection of houses upon the estate, though from its contiguity to Bristol it was otherwise attractive to builders. Being unwilling to perpetuate the evil, Dr. Monk declined renewing the lease unless the tenures were altered, and the negotiations made no progress for several years. While matters were in this position, the bishop was informed, in December, 1846, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had resolved to take possession of the property upon the first vacancy of the see, on the ground that the average revenues of the bishopric were in excess of the £5,000 a year intended to be assigned to it - a


statement which Dr. Monk warmly controverted. The decision of the commissioners, however, induced his lordship to think of renewing the Horfield lease, which, as he explained, would give him the command of a considerable sum of money, and enable him to carry out certain objects which he had at heart. As the lessee did not offer acceptable terms, the bishop applied to the commissioners, with whom he concluded a bargain for the surrender of his interests for £11,587. He had originally intended, he said, to present the whole of this sum to the diocese. But the Bishop s College had not proved successful, and the loan he had made towards its establishment threatened to be lost. He therefore proposed to set apart half of the Horfield money to secure the interests of his family, and to devote the remainder - which, with funds remaining unexpended from his previous donations for improving poor livings, would be raised to £9,238 - to the erection of parsonages in benefices worth under £200 a year. Obstacles, however, arose to the completion of the arrangements. In the course of an inquiry before a committee of the House of Commons, the secretary to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners insinuated that the bishop had undertaken never to renew the Horfield lease; and it was alleged that the sale of his interest was not consistent with his engagements. These charges were indignantly denied by Dr. Monk, who stated that they had been instigated by the Rev. Henry Richards, perpetual curate of Horfield, the advowson of which living was leased with the manor. Mr. Richards, he added, was the largest copyholder in the parish, and had been solicitous to obtain for himself a new lease of the manor, by which he would have been able to deal with the estate, in the double capacity of lord and copyholder, in a manner extremely to his own advantage. Disappointed in this desire, wrote Dr. Monk, “his indignation exhibited itself in railing against his bishop”. Ultimately the Government refused to ratify the bargain made between the commissioners and the bishop, whereupon, after the dropping of the life of the “lord farmer” in 1849 - who had held that position for seventy-two years - Dr. Monk granted a new lease for three lives to his secretary. The income of the manor was then £545 a year. This proceeding, though legal, excited much unfavourable comment in Parliament, it being generally held that his lordship ought to have treated the manor as a trust bequeathed to him by his predecessors for public purposes. Dr. Monk's defence was, that he wished to commute the manorial rights, to set an example of good agriculture, and to improve the living of Horfield,


which was inadequately endowed; and that these objects could be accomplished only by a lease controlled by himself. In March, 1852, he executed trust deeds conveying the whole of his interest in the estate to five trustees. A rent charge of £192 yearly was directed to be divided, one half towards increasing the income of the living of Horfield, and the other moiety towards the endowment of a new church when the growing population required one. The rents of the demesne lands, and of 320 acres of additional land just awarded to the bishop by the Copyhold Commissioners in lieu of manorial rights (together about £900 a year), were to be devoted to the building of parsonages in poor parishes in the archdeaconry, and to the increase of curates' stipends in small livings in the diocese. Dr. Monk expressed a hope that when the lease lapsed, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would continue his disposition of the funds. All apprehension on this point was removed, however, in October, 1858, when the bishop's trustees purchased the reversion of the lease from the commissioners for the sum of £5,000. With the emancipation of the district from the copyhold system dates its rise and rapid growth as a suburb. The Bristol Journal of May 22, 1852, contained the following: “The National Freehold Land Society has purchased thirty acres of excellent land near Naylor's cottages at Horfield, which will be divided into about 300 allotments, and apportioned to the Bristol members of the society”. It was not, however, until about 1860 that building operations became general in the locality. Complaint having been made respecting the decayed state of the butchers' shambles in the Exchange market, the Council, on the 9th May, 1848, approved of the design of a new market house for meat and vegetables, prepared by Mr. Pope, the city architect. The expense of the reconstruction was estimated at £3,000. The plan included the widening of a portion of Nicholas Street. A restoration of the front of the Exchange took place at the same time, and the works were completed, and the market opened in April, 1849. Only five years later, in May, 1854, the Finance Committee reported to the Council that the Exchange market was not in a state creditable to the city, and a vote of £2,170 was granted for alterations.

The ceremony of consecrating a Roman Catholic bishop as vicar apostolic of the western district took place in the church of St. Mary, on the Quay, on the 10th September. The prelate was Dr. Joseph William Hendren, Bishop of Uranopolis. The sermon was preached by Dr. Nicholas Wiseman, bishop


in partibus, afterwards a cardinal, and so-called “Archbisliop of Westminster”.

At a meeting held on the 22nd September, the Dean of Bristol (Dr. Lamb) presiding, it was resolved to raise a subscription for the purpose of erecting in College Green a copy of the original Bristol High Cross, of which the city was scandalously deprived by a dean and chapter of the last century. The cost was estimated at about £630. The foundation stone of the new structure was laid on the 8th August, 1850, by the mayor (Mr. Haberfield), attended by the local Freemasons. The stone selected by the committee was from the Nailsworth quarries; but the vaunted durability of the material was not verified by experience. The cross, which varied in details from the original construction [see Pooley's work on Gloucestershire Crosses], was finished in November, 1851, when the amount expended had been £450. The cost of the eight statues of kings proposed to be introduced was estimated at £480; but the money could not be raised. The solitary statue of Edward III. was placed in the cross in 1855 by the Freemasons of the province.

In December, 1848, to the great surprise of cathedral-goers, the dean and chapter intimated to the minor canons that the priest's portion of the daily services must no longer be intoned, according to the usage of three centuries, but that it must be read, as in all parish churches of that day. The first service under this regulation took place on Sunday, December 10th, when Canon Surtees officiated, the Rev. E.C. Carter, the minor canon on duty, having refused to obey the order on the ground that he should thereby violate the oath taken on his appointment. He was thereupon excluded from the cathedral by direction of the chapter. Another minor canon, the Rev. Sir Charles Macgregor, who had been chosen a few weeks previously, was, it turned out, unable to intone, and it was currently reported that the ancient custom had been abolished for the benefit of an incompetent person. Mr. Carter, who had the sympathy of the precentor, the Rev. R.L. Caley, shortly afterwards appealed to the bishop as visitor of the cathedral, and a memorial in his support was forwarded to Dr. Monk by the mayor and sheriff. No visitation having been held for a great number of years, there was some doubt as to the power of the diocesan, who hesitated to take action. In February, 1849, a majority of the chapter rescinded the order of December; but Dean Lamb, claiming to possess supreme power in such matters, issued a document requiring the officiating clergyman to


continue to read the service. The bishop consequently held a court on the 27th February; and a few days later he formally declared the order of the dean to be null and void, enjoining the chapter to maintain the service according to ancient custom. The dean having set this judgment at defiance, a memorial was presented to the bishop by a number of churchmen, setting forth that Dr. Lamb had set at naught the bishop's order, and allowed the service to be mutilated for six months out of twelve. The position becoming untenable, Sir Charles Macgregor resigned in November, and the appointment of a qualified successor brought the dispute to an end. Dr. Lamb, who in addition to the deanery held the mastership of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and the rectory of Olveston, died in April, 1850. Down to the period of cathedral reform, the minor canons had been six in number, including the precentor. They were gradually reduced to three by death or preferment, and in March, 1854, the latter number was permanently established by an Order in Council.

In the closing month of 1848, in excavating for a new sewer in Quay Street, the workmen came upon the foundation of the old city wall, which it is probable was once washed by the tide. At a considerable depth from the surface, the workmen discovered a canoe, fourteen feet long and four feet wide, shaped from a single trunk of timber. Unfortunately this relic of antiquity had to be sawn through, as it was found impossible to remove it entire.

At the usual New Year's day meeting of the Council in 1849, Mr. Visger brought forward a resolution for the abolition of the town dues on 325 out of the 350 articles included in the schedule then in force. After stating that half the foreign goods consumed in Bristol arrived coastwise from London and Liverpool, he showed that the commodities he proposed to relieve produced an insignificant revenue (£227), and predicted that, if the duty were abolished on hides and articles used in tanning, the trade of the city would be greatly promoted. The resolution was carried unanimously, and Mr. Visger's prophecy speedily proved to be well founded, one or two large tanning firms having removed soon after to Bristol from other localities, and established extensive works in the city.

At a meeting of the Council on the 9th January, it was resolved to establish cheap baths and washhouses on the Weir, at a cost not exceeding £7,000, to be paid off in twenty annual instalments. It was believed that the annual profits would soon suffice to liquidate the debt. The baths were


opened on the 12th August, 1850, but the hope that the undertaking would be self-supporting was destined to prove fallacious, the receipts having been always insufficient to meet the working expenditure. The great benefit which the establishment conferred on the poor being considered to outweigh the loss to the ratepayers, the Council, in June, 1871, resolved on the construction of a more complete building in the Mayor's Paddock, on the north bank of the Avon, for the accommodation of the working classes of Bedminster and Redcliff. These baths, the first cost of which was about £15,500, were opened on the 1st May, 1878, but they were even less successful, financially speaking, than those on the Weir, it being stated in October, 1882, that while £17,000 had been then laid out upon them, and while the working staff were paid £10 a week in wages, the average receipts averaged only £10 1s. 2d. per week. In 1877 a swimming bath was added to the Weir buildings, at an outlay of about £2,400. In August, 1881, the Council approved of a plan for baths and washhouses at Jacob's Wells, the expense being estimated at about £22,000. The design met with scanty approval amongst the ratepayers, and the residents of the locality intended to be benefited held an “indignation meeting”, and were the loudest in condemning the extravagance of the proposal. With the November elections in view, the Council beat a hasty retreat, and the previous resolution was cancelled. In October, 1885, however, a more modest plan for baths at the same spot, to cost about £9,000, received the sanction of the civic body.

During the summer of 1849 some judicious improvements were effected on and near Clifton Down by a committee of gentlemen resident in the neighbourhood. Upwards of a hundred seats were erected in picturesque spots, a few pathways were laid out, trees and shrubs were planted, and a band of music was engaged for the summer months. Although only modest funds were entrusted to the committee, the results of their labours were much appreciated. The promoters of the movement attempted to make further efforts towards increasing the attractions of the place; but the “Clifton Improvement Association”, which they established, met with very limited support. Its designs for improvements were moreover threatened with opposition on the part of the lords of the manor of Henbury - ever jealous of their rights and little regardful of the rights of others. Under these discouraging circumstances, the association was dissolved in January, 1855.


A prospectus was issued in August, 1849, of the Clifton Victoria Baths, for which a piece of ground had been secured “adjoining Oakfield House garden”. The baths were opened in July, 1850.

At the instance of Bishop Monk, a meeting was held in the Victoria Rooms on the 7th November, 1849, for the purpose of promoting the establishment of a training institution for schoolmistresses, as an adjunct to the training school for masters which was about to be founded in the diocese of Oxford, it being intended that the advantages of the two schools should be equally shared between the two districts. The bishop announced that donations to the amount of £4,300 and yearly subscriptions of about £280 had been already promised. Resolutions in approval of his lordship's scheme were adopted, and the executive committee soon afterwards purchased a site at Fishponds, and proceeded with the buildings, the foundations of which were laid in the spring of 1852. The cost of the erections was about £12,000. The college was opened on the 10th September, 1853.

In the course of this year, a scheme was sanctioned by the Court of Chancery for the administration of the estates of the Merchant Taylors' Company of Bristol. The Company, which in the previous century embraced every tailor in the city, had become extinct in 1824 by the death of Mr. Isaac Amos, its only surviving member. Mr. Amos, so long as he lived, carried out the ancient customs of the guild with great gravity. He yearly elected himself master, and allowed himself £10 10s. for serving “an extra time”; summoned himself to committee meetings, and paid himself £12 12s. for his attendances; audited his own accounts, and rewarded himself with £2 2s. therefor; and finally put into his pocket various trifling gratuities authorised by established precedents. In 1802 the property of the Company - producing about £100 a year - had been placed by deed in the hands of a body of trustees, and the surplus income was devoted to the maintenance of the almshouse in Merchant Street, erected by the guild in 1701. It was feared on the extinction of the Company that most of the estate had escheated to the Crown; but the surviving trustees petitioned to be permitted to apply the proceeds to charitable purposes, and after many years' delay the rights of the sovereign were surrendered. The scheme above mentioned placed the trust on a permanent basis, and some eighteen pensioners are now maintained out of the estate. Some curious details respecting the Company may be found in Manchee's Bristol Charities, and in Mr.


Alderman Fox's privately printed “Account of the Ancient Fraternity of Merchant Taylors of Bristol”.

In the closing months of 1849 some five or six local firms engaged in the corn trade resisted payment of the town dues on grain imported by them, alleging that the impost was illegal. A gentleman at the same time claimed exemption from dues on a cargo of timber, on the ground that he was a “Queen's tenant”; while another demanded free entry for a quantity of sugar in his quality as a freeman of London. The corn merchants submitted on being threatened with actions at law. The alleged “Queen's tenant” turned out to be merely an occupier under the office of Woods and Forests, and found his claim to be untenable. The Corporation maintained that a freeman of London could claim exemption only when he paid scot and lot in the city of London, and, precedents being produced in support of this position, the claimant eventually surrendered.

From the time of the great outbreak of cholera in England in 1831-2, a strong suspicion had existed amongst observant men that the terrible mortality caused by the disease was attributable to the evil sanitary condition of the people. It was not, however, until about 1840 that public opinion became sufficiently instructed to give force to the theory that bad drainage, filthy dwellings, and unwholesome water exercised a deplorable effect, not merely in fostering epidemics, but in sapping the human constitution. In 1840 a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the state of the public health; and the investigation then made being deemed inadequate, a Royal Commission was appointed in 1844 to make local inquiries into the matter. Two of the commissioners. Sir H. de la Beche and Dr. Lyon Playfair, consequently paid a visit to Bristol; and their report, published early in 1845, drew a very unflattering picture of the state of the city. The mortality, it appeared, averaged 31 per 1,000, which was exceeded by only two towns in the kingdom; while the deaths in places of average salubrity averaged only 20 per 1,000. The causes of the evil were declared to be obvious. Many parts of Bristol and fashionable portions of Clifton were totally without sewerage; others, which were drained, daily discharged a mass of filth into the stagnant harbour - forty-one sewers having no other outlet. House drainage in poor dwellings was almost unknown. With the exception of about 400 houses, inhabited by the affluent class in Clifton, and a few in the neighbourhood of College Green, there was no water laid by pipes into any dwellings,


and those of the poor, besides being crowded, were generally filthy; while the well water on which the inhabitants depended was often unwholesome. In despite of the grave nature of this report, little was done to remedy shortcomings; and in 1849 another epidemic of cholera occurred in Bristol. The disease broke out in the city on the 10th June, and did not disappear until the 16th October, between which dates there were upwards of 15,000 cases of sickness and 778 of actual cholera, the deaths from that disease being 444. The scourge effectually awakened the authorities to the condition of the city. In consequence of a resolution passed by the Council, the Government appointed Mr. G.T. Clark, of the Board of Health, to hold another inquiry into the state of the borough; and that gentleman opened his court in the Guildhall on the 18th February, 1850, and continued to take evidence until the 2nd March. His report is a document which future generations will read with profound astonishment. Many of its statements may possibly seem incredible even to youthful Bristolians of the present day. Not merely as an astounding picture of old-fashioned ignorance, supineness, and folly, but as an eloquent testimonial to later energy and public spirit, a few of its salient features are worthy of record. Mr. Clark reported that the management of the paving, cleansing, and lighting of the “old city” was still in the paving commissioners constituted in 1806. The parishes known as “the District” had obtained a local Act in 1842, which created a similar body. But as regarded the 60,000 people dwelling in Clifton, in the out-parish of St. Philip, and in the urban parts of Westbury and Bedminster, there were no sanitary authorities whatever. It is needless to dwell upon the state of the poorer localities in the centre of the city, which, in spite of the sanitary precautions adopted during the then recent cholera visitation, shocked every visitor. No conception of the actual facts could be given without employing terms repugnant to modern habits and good taste. The course of the Froom through the city was simply a sewer, into which scores of small sewers poured their contents; and as a large portion of the stream was uncovered, the stench which spread from it every summer often sufficed to turn weak stomachs. In many other localities were damp, uncleanly courts, unpaved and undrained, without any decent provision for unavoidable wants, and where the only water available was rank with contamination. In a single house in one of the filthiest of these courts, sixty-four people were living during the cholera


epidemic; and it was of course in such dens that the disease was most deadly. The dwellings of the poor in all the outlying parishes of the city were found to be equally deplorable, in addition to which, the roads were unmade in many streets; and in some cases, in wet weather, water lodged in the centre of the thoroughfares to the depth of four feet. Not one of the sixty-eight streets in Bedminster was ever cleansed by a scavenger. Still more surprising is the account of the localities inhabited by the middle classes. The sewage from a house in Montagu (now Kingsdown) Parade ran down an open gutter in Montagu Hill. The road at the back of Kingsdown and St. James's Parades was almost always floating with water, which occasionally ran into the dwellings. There were no drains to carry away the filth from those houses, but there were cesspools, the contents of some of which filtered into neighbouring wells. At the back of Highbury Place were two very large pools of sewage, giving out a pestilential odour. The sewage of Clarence Place drained into two great cesspools directly under the houses, and required to be emptied about once a month, causing an intolerable stench. Nearly all the houses in Richmond Terrace, Clifton, drained into cesspools; and to this was attributed a severe epidemic which had recently prevailed there. At Clifton Park, Cambridge Place, Burlington Place, South Parade, and in other high-class thoroughfares, there was no drainage except into cesspools. In the Black-boy district, near Durdham Down, there was only surface drainage. “The Whiteladies Road has an open gutter, down which the house drainage runs into a side ditch, and is most offensive. [This sewer was the subject of many objurgations in the newspaper correspondence of the time.] Above Whiteladies Gate, in the bottom of the valley, several open sewers meet, and their contents are generally complained of. In a field in front of West Clifton Terrace”, now the site of Alma Road, “the sewage [from the Black-boy district and West Park] escapes over a large space. Hampton Terrace suffers materially from an old ditch, in which the sewage is collected. From thence it finds its way to the Froom”. A resident at Vittoria Place deposed that, owing to the defective drainage, it was almost impossible to support the stench during the night. The road now known as Oakfield Road had only one lamp, and was a “perfect quagmire”. “At the back of Park Place is a peculiarly filthy cross-road and a market garden, the stench of which is much complained of”. With regard to lighting, about half the old city, Clifton, and


the District were imperfectly lighted; while the very populous parishes of St. Philip (out) and Bedminster, as well as the Redland, Cotham, and Kingsdown districts, were not lighted at all. Although numerous tollgates were within the borough, the condition of the turnpike roads was reported to be discreditable. They were badly drained, badly repaired, and badly cleaned; and in Bedminster there was a continuous bank of scrapings a quarter of a mile long and about five feet high. As to the parish roads in that parish and in St. Philip's, they were “scarcely worthy of the name”. In all the suburbs were numerous private roads, some of which had been streets for ten or twenty years, which were “mere troughs of mud, into which all the ashes, soil, and house refuse were daily thrown and never removed”. Finally, in reference to cemeteries, Mr. Clark reported that there were sixty-one places of burial in the city, of which thirty-seven belonged to the Established Church, and five to private persons (undertakers).[71] The great majority, being full to repletion, were unfit for further interments; and burials in the vaults under parish churches were also strongly condemned. The Inspector concluded by asserting that the two great evils of Bristol, to which its drunkenness, filth, and excessive mortality were largely attributable, were want of drainage and want of water. No efficient reform was declared to be possible so long as the various outlying districts were separately and irresponsibly governed. Happily a strong conviction prevailed in the city of the prevailing evils, together with an earnest disposition to support the introduction of reforms. The Council lost no time in taking measures to follow out Mr. Clark's recommendations. A Bill enabling the Corporation to apply the powers of the Health of Towns' Act, and to abolish the paving commissioners in the city, and the watching bodies in Clifton and the District, received the royal assent in August, 1851. A committee of the Council was forthwith appointed for sanitary purposes. Under the new statute the Council, as the Local Board of Health, was vested with sole jurisdiction over the city streets, roads (except turnpikes), sewers, lighting, scavenging, and watering, the removal of nuisances, the regulation of slaughter-houses, and other analogous matters. There was no longer any question of want of power, dubious boundaries, or clashing administration, and the effects of


concentrating authority in a single responsible body rapidly became apparent. One of the first and most striking improvements effected, was the efficient lighting of Clifton and the other suburban districts. A survey of the municipal area having been made, a well-considered plan of sewerage, embracing the whole of the borough, and designed to intercept the drains discharging into the harbour, was laid out and approved. In 1855 four great arterial sewers, each averaging nearly a mile and a half in length, were begun, with a view to diverting the sewage of the western suburbs, to a point in the Avon about a mile below Cumberland Basin. [In the carrying out of this work, the contractors were required to make a footpath from Clifton Down to the river, thus forming a second “Zigzag”, one of the most picturesque walks in the neighbourhood.] Upwards of three miles of main sewers were constructed in Bedminster, and a still more extensive system was laid down for St. Philip's and the District. The operations necessarily occupied many years. In 1872 it was officially stated that the Corporation had spent during the previous sixteen years the sum of £137,000 on sewerage works alone. A further outlay of about £18,000 was incurred for Bedminster in 1878. The expense was amply compensated by the reduction effected in sickness and mortality. In 1866, when cholera again visited the city, the fatalities from the disease numbered only 29; and, instead of having one of the highest death rates in the kingdom, Bristol has for many years vied with London for the place of honour on the Registrar-General's returns.

In January, 1850, the death was announced of a man named James Ivyleaf, supposed to have been a native of Bristol,[72] but who resided in Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London. It soon after transpired that he had left nearly the whole of his property to the trustees of Bristol Infirmary. On making inquiries, however, the trustees were led to believe that the testator died in embarrassed circumstances, and they renounced probate of the will. One Evan Bees, in whose house Ivyleaf had expired, then took out letters of administration, on the plea that he was a creditor, a person named Lloyd, a money-lender, becoming one of his sureties. After a considerable lapse of time, the trustees of the Infirmary, acting on private information, made a second inquiry, and satisfied themselves that Rees and Lloyd had


appropriated nearly £6,000, the proceeds of the sale of Government stock held by Ivyleaf. Legal proceedings were thereupon commenced, but Rees had emigrated to Australia, and Lloyd, after becoming bankrupt, died. It was nevertheless discovered that Lloyd, with about £3,000 of the money, had made advances to the spendthrift heir of the Earl of Wicklow, receiving as security a post-obit deed for £25,000, which he had transferred to his wife. The Court of Chancery was therefore appealed to, and in February, 1855, Mrs. Lloyd was ordered to pay the Infirmary £2,800.

At a meeting of the Council on the 12th February, 1850, a discussion took place upon the extensive encroachments which had been recently made upon the valuable common land in the neighbourhood of Clifton. Mr. Visger observed that measures were in progress which would eventually terminate in the inclosure of Clifton Down. A considerable portion, indeed, had been already built upon. “These encroachments”, he said, “had all been gradual. When he was a boy a great part of Clifton was open, and consisted chiefly of sheep walks, A few rails were put up, ostensibly to prevent the sheep from wandering. These soon gave way to iron stanchions; by-and-by a wall was built, and then houses were erected. Opposite these houses small shrubs were planted, and under pretence of protecting them, posts were put up. Within a few years the posts were pulled down and regular plantations formed. He well remembered having ridden up and down places that were now inclosed”. Mr. Visger's remarks called forth no contradiction; but when Ald. Pinney advised the purchase of the downs, Mr. Powell (St. Augustine's)[73] protested against the Council interfering with the property of others. If the Merchants' Society, he said, chose to build upon Clifton Down, they would be dealing with their own property, and the Council had no more right to intervene than to pull down Badminton House. It was resolved to represent to the Board of Health Inspector, then holding his inquiry in the city, the great value of these open spaces, and the danger to which they were exposed from systematic encroachments. In the following August, the lords of the manor of Henbury, “doing what they liked with their own”, disposed of a portion of Durdham Down to the authorities of St. John's district church, for the purpose


of building a schoolhouse. Other encroachments were made from time to time, and in 1856 some enterprising individuals, as an experiment, built a cottage in one of the five quarries which were then being worked in various parts of the downs. This step excited so much indignation, however, that the building was forthwith removed. In the course of the following year, the Corporation succeeded in purchasing, for £450, a small property at Westbury, to which commonable rights on Durdham Down were attached, whereby it was hoped a title had been obtained to resist further encroachments in that direction. Soon afterwards Mr. Baker, as owner of the Sneyd Park estate, claimed, and apparently made good his claim to, a strip of ground at Sea Walls, which had hitherto been a favourite promenade for pedestrians. In 1859 the public were startled by another unexpected proceeding - the inclosure by a Mr. Samuel Worrall, descendant of a former clerk of the Merchants' Society, of two large pieces of common land which had been popularly considered to form part of Clifton Down. His action was the subject of indignant reprobation in the Council; but according to legal authorities the inclosures could not be prevented, and the utmost the public could claim was a footpath over the plots. Further encroachments being reported as imminent, a committee was appointed to negotiate with the Merchants' Society and the lords of Henbury Manor. In the result, the Society, while refusing to sell their rights over either the turf or the minerals of Clifton Down, expressed willingness to see the public assured of the free enjoyment of the open space, whilst the lords consented to sell in fee simple their estate in Durdham Down, including the quarries, for £15,000. A resolution empowering the committee to arrange with the parties on those terms was passed by the Council on the 24th May, 1860; and an Act of Parliament legalising the settlement received the royal assent a year later. The lordship of the manor of Henbury was divided between two persons, Sir J. Greville Smyth, who held three-fourths, and who therefore received £11,250; and the trustees of Mrs. Colston, of Roundway, Wilts, who obtained £3,750 in right of the remaining quarter. The expense of obtaining the statute raised the total cost of the transaction to £16,296. The area over which the public acquired a right of perpetual enjoyment was 442 acres - 230 acres of which belong to Cliiton Down, and 212 to that of Durdham. In March, 1862, an excited controversy arose respecting a contract made by the Downs Committee - which under the Act consists of seven


members of the Council and seven of the Merchants' Society - for the construction of a carriage road from Belgrave Place to Sneyd Park. Mr. Baker, the gentleman mentioned above, received £550 for the work, but owing to the disapproval expressed by the citizens, the turf was ordered to be replaced, and Mr. Baker not merely retained the contract price, but got £200 more for restoring the ground to its former state. The necessity of a road to Sneyd Park was nevertheless obvious, and the destruction of the grass by carriages, etc., at length wrought a change in public opinion. In 1875 over £1,000 were raised by private subscription for making a road from near Alderman Proctor's fountain to Sea Walls; and a few months later, the drive was extended to the road leading to Combe Dingle. At the same time, by private arrangement, the carriage road from near St. John's School to Down House [formerly the famous summer resort known as the Ostrich Inn, see p.4], was closed and turfed. In 1879 these improvements were further extended, the Sea Walls road being continued to the Westbury road. A footpath on the site of “Baker's road” was laid down in 1880, and in January, 1882, another was made in the ravine, affording access to the shore of the Avon.

An ecclesiastical district, afterwards styled St. Matthias's parish, was formed out of the parishes of St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Philip, by an Order in Council in May, 1846; but for some reason the foundation-stone of the new church was not laid until March, 1850. Much difficulty was encountered in the construction of the edifice, owing to the marshy nature of the site. The church was consecrated in November, 1851.

The large mansion known as Amo's Court, near Brislington, came into the market during the spring of 1850, and was purchased for a Roman Catholic body called “The Sisterhood of the Asylum of the Good Shepherd”. The nuns established in it a penitentiary, and added a large chapel to the building. In 1858 the penitentiary was converted into a reformatory for youthful criminals of the Romish faith. The remarkable outbuildings formerly attached to the property, which have obtained the local name of Black Castle, and were styled by Horace Walpole “the Devil's Cathedral”, were, with the gardens, detached from the mansion and sold in 1821. They are still decorated with the statues depicted in Mr. Seyer's “Memoirs of Bristol”.

In the summer of 1849 a small steam vessel commenced to ply as a passenger boat between the Drawbridge and Cumberland Basin; when the novelty and cheapness of the mode


of transit caused the enterprise to be very profitable, and naturally brought competitors into the field. In the summer of 1850, seven additional steamers were provided for carrying on the traffic, which had largely increased. On the evening of the 22nd July, one of the vessels, the Red Rover, which was said to have carried a thousand passengers during the day, was starting on her concluding voyage from Cumberland Basin, with about fifty persons on board, when the boiler exploded, scattering death and destruction around. Fifteen individuals were either instantly killed or died from the effects of their injuries; several others were seriously maimed. The verdict given at the first coroner's inquest was, “that the deceased had met with his death in consequence of the bursting of a boiler which at the time was in an unfit state for use”.

Upon the death, about October, 1850, of Mr. Charles Vaughan, the office of master of the ceremonies at the balls in Clifton became extinct. The want of some recognised official to organize the amusements of the place was soon productive of difficulties. Even in the days of the old Corporation, when Clifton was but a village, there had been struggles on the part of some of the inhabitants to exclude others from public entertainments. One lady, wife of a wealthy alderman, explained to Prebendary Sydney Smith that she and her friends wished to establish a sort of Almacks, “with of course due consideration for the differing circumstances of the locality”. “Yes”, replied the canon, “the difference, that is, between refined and raw sugar”. Two or three years after Mr. Vaughan's death, rival coteries were formed, one of which held its balls in the large room at the Mall, while the second, which did not deem the other sufficiently “exclusive”, set up its camp at the Victoria Rooms. The offensive proceedings of the latter party[74] were productive of so much ill-feeling that balls were discontinued for some years. Another acrimonious controversy occurred in December, 1860, when Mr. W.P. King, a member of one of the leading mercantile houses in Bristol, published a letter complaining that his family, having applied for tickets for certain proposed “private Clifton subscription balls”, had been


refused them by one of the promoters - “the son of a London tradesman, his father having been an undertaker”. The friends of this aristocratic youth rushed into print in his defence; and the Bristol Times, the organ of both the exasperated parties, felt called upon to rebuke a community “composed entirely of traders or sons of traders”, who were ashamed of the means by which they had acquired wealth, and were ridiculously “turning up their noses at each other”. A twelvemonth later, at a meeting of leading inhabitants, it was stated that the proceedings of the supercilious undertaker's son and of his youthful supporters had had the effect of breaking up society in Clifton, and had caused some families to leave the place. The balls were then arranged to be held under the supervision of a committee. In the winter of 1862, a Mr. Henry Lucas Bean was appointed master of the ceremonies, but appears to have held the post for only a short period.

In October, 1850, an unwonted outburst of national feeling occurred on the promulgation by Pope Pius IX. of a Bull, by which England was carved into thirteen sees - an archbishopric and twelve bishoprics - the prelates appointed to which were designated by territorial titles. By this bull was created the so-called “diocese of Clifton”, which included the three adjoining counties. The new bishop, Dr. J.W. Hendren, was enthroned on the 15th December, in the Church of the Apostles, Clifton, which was thenceforth styled a pro-cathedral. In the following July the bishop was transferred to Nottingham, and was succeeded by Dr. Burgess. The Protestant excitement in Bristol was increased by the fact that the Rev. J.H. Woodward, incumbent of St. James's, and his two curates, Messrs. Parry and Todd, “went over” to the Romish Church about the same time. It may be noted that several of the Oxford men who followed Dr. Newman in the same direction came to reside in Clifton, and published tracts there in defence of their conduct.

In the course of this year, during the reconstruction of the house numbered 41, High Street, the remains were discovered of a fifteenth century roof, resting upon corbels of demi-angels. The place was supposed to have been the site of the chapel of an almshouse, known to have anciently existed in that locality.

[39] The Mirror states that these houses escaped destruction through the exertions of Mr. B. Ralph and a young man named Thomas. They still stand in the middle of the western side, immediately below the central avenue.
[40] The hotel in question, the White Hart, was threatened with the fate of the Bristol Mansion House. The mob were rushing in after destroying the windows. “They however met with a warm reception, a charge being made by the inmates with red hot pokers, previously prepared, which had an admirable effect in causing the assailing party to beat a precipitate retreat”. - Mainwaring's “Annals of Bath”, p.375.
[41] A few days later the Armoury in Stapleton Road, hired from the Corporation of the Poor, was fitted up for the accommodation of the troops sent down by the Goyemment, and additional barracks were temporarily formed in the Wool Hall and in a warehouse in Thomas Street.
[42] Ives returned to Bristol after undergoing his sentence, and had the effrontery to call at the Council House and ask permission to see the restored salver.
[43] Some of the members of this committee possessed so remarkable a foresight into the future of railways that it deserves to be noted as unique in that generation. They recommended that a quadruple line of rails be laid down, “two lines for light carriages to convey passengers at a rapid pace, and two for heavier vehicles carrying goods at a slower rate”, the advantage of which arrangement, “as a means of preventing both delays and accidents, is too obvious to be insisted upon”. Common Council Minutes, Feb. 1833.
[44] The commercial classes were so dissatisfied with the charges imposed on the transit of goods that in 1855 a steamer, called the Pioneer, was built for the purpose of trading between London and Bristol. The vessel plied regularly until Febmary, 1865, when it was wrecked off Penzance. The average passage was made in sixty-eight hours, equal to ten miles an hour.
[45] The commissioners do not seem to have been aware that Serjeant Ludlow also held the office of auditor to the Duke of Beaufort.
[46] Each parish, up to this time, had provided relief for the poor in its own way - which was generally a bad one. In 1823 the authorities of Winterbourne offered the poor of that parish “to be let by tender” for a year to any person willing to “farm” them (Bristol Journal August 30). In June, 1835, Mr. C. Mott, Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, visited St. Philip's workhouse, in Pennywell Road, and reported on it in these terms:- “I was ill-prepared to find in a parish with nearly 17,000 inhabitants, expending annually £6,000 for the support of the poor, and immediately adjoining one of the most cleanly and well-ventilated establishments in England (St. Peter's Hospital), such a disgraceful instance of neglect and mismanagement. The state of the workhouse was filthy in the extreme; the appearance of the inmates dirty and wretched. There was no classification, men, women, and children being indiscriminately huddled together”. A dismal filthy room, as dirty as a coal cellar, contained, he added, a poor distressed lunatic as dirty as the floor, clothed in rags, and with feet protruding through his shoes. The poor creature had never quitted the den for years. Another room contained a young lunatic, almost in a state of nudity, who had been detained there for four years.
[47] The price fixed was £1,270. Some want of forethought was shown in the transaction. The thoroughfare in front of the plot was too narrow for the traffic; and some years later, when the Council wished to bay a narrow slip of the land to widen Queen's Bead, the Rifles' Headquarters Company, who had become the owners, asked £600 for a few square yards.
[48] The expenses were divided amongst the petitioning Corporations. The share paid by Bristol was £210 18s. 9d.
[49] The last meeting of the old Common Council took place on the 9th December. It would have been interesting to possess some description of the expiring throes of the old regime, but the mystery which shrouded its career was maintained to the last. Curiously enough, even the official minutes are defective. A resolution was passed to grant the sheriffs an extra allowance for their additional period of service, but the amount to be paid them was never filled in; and the mayor, forgetful of invariable custom, neglected to sign the record.
[50] Mr. George was a brother-in-law of Alderman Fripp, who had become a convert to Toryism a few years earlier, and had now been selected by his party for the mayoralty.
[51] One of the Liberal aldermen died; the other two were refused re-election in 1838. According to an interesting series of papers by the Rev. A.B. Beaven, published in the Times and Mirror in 1880, the three places were filled by Conservatives, and of the 52 gentlemen elected to fill vacancies between 1838 and 1880 there were only 4 Liberals - appointed at distant intervals - against 48 Tories. Of the 68 aldermen appointed up to the same date, Mr. Beaven's statistics show that 27 had been rejected by the ratepayers when they offered themselves for the office of councillor.
[52] The salary was reduced to £460 in the autumn of 1837, when the Council was in financial straits, but it was again raised to £700 in Noyember, 1843.
[53] Mr. Burges (the son of a gentleman of the same name who had held the office of city solicitor for some years when he died in 1791) held the appointment of mayor's clerk, and in conjunction with Mr. Brice that of city solicitor, from 1819 until the end of the old Corporation. His long experience in civic affairs was of great value to the new body; and it was largely through his tact and ability that the antagonistic parties in the Council were brought into harmonious action. Upon his retirement, in 1842 - when he was succeeded by his son, Daniel Burges, jun. - he received many marks of respect both from members of the Corporation and his fellow citizens; and a costly and beautiful piece of plate was presented to him in recognition “of his personal worth and public service during a long and honourable life”. Mr. Burges died in April, 1864, in his 89th year.
[54] Four markets, the oyster, Welch, and cheese markets and the corn market on the Back, were stated to produce little or no income, and had no value affixed to them. The last-named market, however, lingered on until 1839. The oyster market was demolished in 1844. The cheese market, after long costing more than it produced, was closed about 1850, and entirely disappeared in 1886.
[55] A keen rivalry for early intelligence existed at this time between two London journals, The Times and Morning Herald, Both concerns engaged boats at Portishead to board the Great Wetsern, and their messengers were carried at racing speed in posting carriages from Bristol to Maidenhead, where special trains were in waiting for the rest of the journey.
[56] The local author of “Rambling Rhymes” [J.B. Dix] commented on the subject as follows:-
“The Western an unnatural parent has,
For all her beauty;
Her mother never harboured her, and yet
She asks for duty.
Hull, Liverpool, and other ports aloud
Cry 'Go a-head!'
A certain place that I know seems to say
'Reverse!' instead”.
[57] “The Corporation of Bristol and its Trade and Commerce”. By L. Bruton, pp.10,43.
[58] Ibid.
[59] The Commissioners displayed characteristic shortsightedness in disposing of this ground. In August, 1884, apprehensive that a noisy or offensive factory might be built on the portion abutting on the cathedral, the Commissioners Dean and Chapter purchased of the Corporation (which had recently acquired the site) a strip of 1,580 square yards (less than a fourth of the whole) for the sum of £1,100.
[60] Parliamentary return, 1847; Report of Commons' Committee, 1846.
[61] Who are said to have spent £12,000 on the petition and subsequent trials. - MS. Annals, City Library, ii. 118.
[62] So early as September, 1805, a movement was started in the city for the erection of a “magnificent cenotaph” to the unfortunate boy poet. The scheme, however, found few supporters, and was soon dropped.
[63] In October, 1843, the Council consisted, according to the Bristol Journal, of fifty-three Conservatives and eleven Liberals.
[64] “A meeting of Mr. Miles's committee was held on Monday, Sir. J.E. Haberfield in the chair, when the following appointments were made to fill up vacancies in our Custom House: Mr. Baber, son to our well-known and respected fellow citizen, Mr. Harry Baber, was appointed to a clerkship in the Long Room; Mr. William Boss Davis to a weigher's situation, and Mr. George Collins as tidewaiter”. - Bristol Journal, May 22, 1852. In the same newspaper for the following week it is stated that the appointment of a postmaster for Clifton by Mr. Hale (M.P. for Gloucestershire) had caused great dissatisfaction amongst the dispensers of Government patronage in Bristol.
[65] Southey's fourth lecture was to be “On the Rise, Progress, and Decline of the Roman Empire”, a theme which so excited Coleridge's imagination that he asked permission to deal with it himself. The room was thronged on the occasion; but Coleridge, with customary absence of mind, never made his appearance, and the assembled citizens were forced to go lectureless to bed.
[66] The Midland board subsequently gained much popularity by its cheap excursion trains. On August 6, 1856, about 7,000 Bristollans were conveyed to and from Birmingham, a distance of 182 miles, for 1s. 6d. each.
[67] This building, which was a puzzle to strangers owing to its bizarre architecture, was removed in February, 1864, during the construction of the railway to Avonmonth. It was at one time suggested that it should be converted into a church for the use of sailors and bargemen.
[68] According to a statement in the Bristol Journal, drapers' shops in 1825, and doubtless for many years later, were usually kept open for fourteen hours a day, and the assistants were allowed only one hour for meals.
[69] The dock proprietors received no dividend down to 1822. Between 1828 and 1844 inclusive the average distribution was £2 4s. 5d. per cent. In 1845 and 1846 no dividend was paid.
[70] Mr. Bruton became secretary to the Chamber of Commerce on the revival of that institution in September, 1851. In September, 1880, he was presented with £1,000 and an address. The latter, which was signed by the mayor (Mr. H. Taylor), the master of the Merchants' Society (Alderman Edwards), and the President of the Chamber (Mr. C. Wills), stated that the testimonial was offered by nearly two hundred firms and individuals, as a token of the high admiration in which they held Mr. Bruton's “nearly forty years of untiring and unselfish devotion to the maritime and commercial interests of the port and city”.
[71] A correspondent of the Bristol Times stated (April 30, 1853), that from “two to three dozen” bodies were buried every Sunday in each of two private burial grounds, belonging to persons named Francis and Wms.
[72] A Mr. Ivyleaf, linendraper, High Street, was residing in King Square in 1770.
[73] This gentleman, who held many eccentric opinions, was accustomed to warn the civil body at intervals that Brandon Hill was an old volcano, and that it would some fine morning give renewed proof of its ancient forces by filling up the Floating Harbour.
[74] According to the reminiscences of a correspondent published in the Bristol Times, one of the “patronesses” refused to forward tickets of admission to a lady until she had been allowed a sight of the latter's marriage certificate. The response was, that the document would be produced as soon as the “patroness” had exhibited a specimen of the weekly washing bills which she was accustomed to forward to her customers in her younger days.

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

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