The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century

By John Latimer

Editor of the Bristol Mercury, 1858-83.

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013



The collection of materials with a view to a continuation of Evans's Chronological History of Bristol was begun upwards of twenty years ago by the compiler of this work. The pressure of other literary pursuits, however, caused the project to be deferred from time to time; and it eventually became a question whether, if a supplementary record were to be produced at all, the story of so eventful a century was not deserving of a worthier memorial than the bald epitome of facts and dates which had been originally contemplated. As is not unusual in such labours, the introduction of details in connection with topics of prominent importance threw into relief the meagreness of the rest of the narrative; and it at length seemed desirable - whilst retaining the chronological form adopted at the outset - to attempt a comprehensive sketch of the political, municipal, commercial, and social life of the community during a period which has been hitherto imperfectly treated by local writers.

To what extent the task has been satisfactorily performed must be left to the judgment of the reader. Some may possibly complain that events which they deem important have been inadequately treated, or even omitted. Others may object that incidents in their eyes trivial have received an attention they did not deserve. A third class of critics, again, may disapprove of the expressions of personal opinion which are sometimes, though rarely, introduced. To those who do not find all their conceptions realised, it can only be pleaded, that the work of selecting and narrating historical facts, either in a national or a local point of view, is seldom accomplished so as to satisfy all tastes. Disclaiming any pretension to complete success where faultlessness was perhaps unattainable, the compiler trusts that few occurrences of permanent interest have wholly escaped notice, that his criticisms, where he has ventured to express an opinion, are untinctured by party or sectarian spirit, and that the volume presents as broad and faithful a picture of the period under review as space and materials would allow.

Though the “annals” have been for the most part compiled from the local newspapers - of which many thousand copies have been examined - much new and valuable matter has been derived from official documents, notably from the records and account books of the Corporation, a perusal of which was kindly permitted by Mr. Daniel Travers Surges, the Town Clerk, and Mr. John Tremayne Lane, the City Treasurer. Both gentlemen were also so obliging as to render personal assistance in clearing up points of difficulty, and the former has also contributed some interesting anecdotes of bygone celebrities. A friend who passed away whilst the closing sheets of the work were in the hands of the printer, the late Mr. Edward Greenfield Doggett, Clerk to the Incorporation of the Poor, allowed extracts to be taken from the minute books of that ancient body. Mr. John Taylor, the City Librarian, offered essential service by throwing open the large and curious store of local literature under his charge, and by supplementing it from his private collection. Amongst others to whom the compiler owes grateful thanks may be mentioned the Rev. Canon Norris, Archdeacon of Bristol, the Rev. S.W. Wayte, Mr. P.W. Newton, Secretary to the Charity Trustees, the late Mr. Leonard Bruton, Secretary to the Chamber of Commerce, the Rev. J.M. Wilson, headmaster of Clifton College, the Rev. Talbot Greaves, vicar of Clifton, Mr. Edward C. Sampson, Postmaster of Bristol, Mr. C.H. Hunt, Clerk to the Barton Regis Board of Guardians, Mr. Alderman Naish, Mr. W. Edwards George, Mr. S.H. Swayne, Mr. Josiah Thomas, and Mr. John Lavars. Finally, an especial acknowledgment is due to Mr. William George, an indefatigable antiquary whose knowledge of local history and vast accumulation of rarities rendered his unwearied assistance of peculiar value.

Trelawny Place,
March, 1887.


1801Manners and Customs in 18013-5
 Death and Distress7
 Census of 1801. The Clifton Crescents9
 Corporation Pensions. The Peace11
1802Scheme for a Floating Harbour13
 Construction of the Float15
 Strange Scene at the Infirmary17
1803The Duke of Norfolk at the Stone Kitchen19
 Enrolement of the Bristol Volunteers21
 Death of the Mayor23
1805Tax on Salt. Joanna Southcott25
1806The Mayor's Salary, Corporate Presents27
 Slavery in Bristol. Election Expenditure29
1808Visit of the Prince of Wales. Fatal Duels31
1809Comercial Rooms. Mall Assembly Room33
1810Statue of George III. The Duke of Portland35
 End of Whig Rule in the Corporation37
 A Riot Prevented. Fashion in the Pithay39
 The Kennet and Avon Canal41
1811Introduction of Gas Lighting43
 Sion Spring. Inclosure of Commons45
 Abuses in the Grammar School47
1812Terrorism in Kingswood49
 Costly Elections51
 Establishment of the Savings Bank53
1813Tyburn Tickets. The Bishop's Income55
 Bristol Pugilists. Sir N.W. Wraxall57
1814A Disinterment. Fall of Napoleon59
1815A Penurious Mayor. Gist's Charity61
 The Price of Newspapers. Macadamization63
1816Shocking State of Newgate65
 Treatment of Untried Prisoners67
 Death of Richard Reynolds69
 The Hotwell in Prosperous Days71
1817Roman Relics. The Silver Coinage73
 Introduction of Steamboats75
 Fatal Shipwreck. Visit of the Queen77
 Bonville and Bengough's Charities79
1818A New Recorder. Sir T. White's Charity81
1819Flogging Criminals in Wine Street83
 A Bibulous Town Clerk85
1820Accession of George IV. Election87
 Queen Caroline. A Volunteer Police89
1821Census. Coronation Festivities91
 Cathedral Dignataries. Blomberg's Ghost93
 Cathedral Dignitaries95
1822Easter and May-Day Amusements97
 Clifton Church. Stealing Dead Bodies99
 The Hotwell. A Destructive Restoration101
1823Post Charges. The Chamber of Commerce103
 The Town Dues. Dr. White's Charity105
 Deodands. The Bristol Institution107
1824The Council House Rebuilt109
1825Proposed Railways. Distinguished Visitors111
 Mechanics' Institute. The French Chapel113
1826Port Charges. Introduction of Flys115
 Sewage in the Float. The Stocks117
1827The First Daily Newspaper119
 Steam Carriages. Travelling by Kites121
1828First Local Railway. Cattle Market123
 Corporate Improvidence125
 Races. Sydney Smith's Famous Sermon127
1829Popularity of Sir C. Wetherell129
 Weare's Gift, Clifton Suspension Bridge131
 Clifton Suspension Bridge133
1830Snowstorm. Death of Sir T. Lawrence135
 Proclamation of William IV. Election137
 St. Peter's Hospital. Revolt of the Paupers139
1831Bristol College and Bishop's College141
 Election. Census. Death of Mr. Seyer143
 The General Hospital145
 The Riots: Sir C. Wetherell's Speeches147
 The Riots: Arrival of the Recorder149
 The Riots: Attack on the Mansion House151
 The Riots: Escape of the Recorder153
 The Riots: Sack of the Mansion House155
 The Riots: The Corporation Deserted157
 The Riots: Destruction of Bridewell159
 Burning of the Prisons and Bishop's Palace161
 The Riots: Burning of the Mansion House163
 The Riots: The Fires in Queen Square165
 The Riots: Extraordinary Scenes167
 The Riots: The Troops Ordered to Act169
 The Riots: Attitude of the Aldermen171
 The Riots: Restoration of Order173
 The Riots: Recovery of the Plunder175
 Conviction and Execution of Rioters177
 Trial of the Mayor179
 Compensation Claims for Damages181
 Compensations. The Mansion House183
1832Extension of the Borough. Election185
 Cholera. Abuses of the Old Poor Laws187
1833The Great Western Railway Projected189
 Early Railway Travelling191
 Renewed Conflict Against Town-Dues193
 Royal Commission on Corporations195-197
1834The Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral199
 West of England Bank. Red Maids' School201
1835General Election. Imports of Tea203
 Bridewell Rebuilt. The Zoological Gardens205
 Municipal Corporations Reform Act207
 Corporation Reform. The Burgess Roll209
1836First Municipal Elections211
 Election of Mayor. Serjeant Ludlow213
 Debts and Property of the Corporation215
 Rateable Value of City. New Magistrates217
 Transatlantic Navigation219
 The Great Western Steamer Driven Away221
 The Ashley Down Orphanages223-225
 The Bishopric of Bristol227
 Visit of the British Association229
 Appointment of Charity Trustees231
 The Old Corporation and the Charities233-235
1837The Great Western Cotton Company237
 The Queen Proclaimed. Election239
1838St. Philip's Bridge. The Victoria Rooms241
 Abolition of the Fairs243
 The Old Postal System. Penance245
1839The Broad Gauge on Railways247
 Monument to Chatterton. Pugsley's Field249
1840The Round Point. The Broadmead Rooms251
1841Local Time253
 Rebuilding of the Guildhall255
 Christ Church, Clifton. Deaf and Dumb Asylum257
1842Royal Agricultural Show. St. Mary Redcliff259
 St. Mary Redcliff. Colston's School261
 The Woolley Hoax268
 Destruction of Leigh Woods265
1843Robert Southey267
 Pen Park Hole. Ecclesiastical Suit269
 Launch of the “Great Britain”271
 Supposed Remains of Edward Colston273
1844Tombs in St. Stephen's. Sugar Duties275
 Railway to Gloucester. Monument to Southey277
 New Workhouse. Wilts and Somerset Railway279
1845Establishment of the Water Company281
 The Water Company. Great Drought283
 The Corporation and the Water Works285
 The Fine Arts Academy287
 The AthenÆUm. Stock Exchange289
 South Wales Union Railway291
 Death of W.J. Müller293
1846City Improvements. The Corn Laws295
 First Ragged School and Reformatory297
 Purchase of Bristol Docks299
 Transfer of the Docks to the City301
1847County Court Created. General Election303
1848Suple's Prizes, the Manor of Horfield305
 The Manor of Horfield307
1849Reduction of Port Dues. Baths for the Poor309
 The Merchant Taylors' Company311
1850The Cholera. Sanitary Shortcomings313
 Filthy Condition of the Suburbs315
 Purchase of the Downs317
 Arno's Court. Fatal Explosion319
 Quarrels in Clifton “Society”321
1851The Merchants' Society. A Local Knight323
 A Threatened Duel. Electric Telegraphs325
 The Chamber of Commerce. The “Demerara”327
 Amateur Theatricals. Queen's Road329
1852The Bedminster Reredos. Election331
1853Recovery of the City Library333
 Hogarth's Pictures. Claim of Tom Provis335
1854Trade School. Burial Grounds Closed337
 The Council at Badminton. Stapleton Church339
 The War. Parish Clerks and “Three Deckers”341
1855Sneyd Park. A Glimpse of Old Clifton343
 Funeral of Lord Raglan345
 Lunatic Asylum. Gift to Mr. Berkeley, M.P347
1856Peace With Russia. The Queen in Bristol349
1857Bristol Guardians and the Poor Law Board351
 Clifton Club. The Russian Guns353
 Mr. Greville Smith and the Shrievalty355
1858Daily Newspapers. Mardyke Wharf357
 Proposed Docks and Dockisation359
 Docks and Dockisation361
 Colston's School Removed. The Volunteers363
1859The Rifle Volunteers. Dkinking Fountains365
 Italian Patriots. Bristol Workhouse367
 Great Wine Sale. The Cathedral369
 The Artillery Volunteers371
1860St. Stephen's Tower. Clifton College373
 Completion of the Suspension Bridge375
 Cricketing by the Grace Family377
 Horfield Gardens. The Cathedral Eagle379
1861The Wharfage Dues. Census381
 Street Watering. “General” Mathias383
 Bristol Bridges Widened, Post Office Banks385
 A Geographical Phenomenon387
 Rival Railway Schemes. Colston's Hall389
1862Rifle Drill Hall. Channel Fortifications391
 Volunteer Review. Clifton Down Hotel393
 Improvement of the Avon395
1863Avonmouth and Portishead Docks397-401
 North Somerset Railway403
 Royal Marriage. Clifton Church Pews405
 Proposed Destruction of Leigh Woods407
1864Lifeboats. Agricultural Shows409
 A Naval Incident. Port Improvement411
 Mock Benedictines413
 Bristol Channel Tunnel415
1865The Severn Bridge. John Hampden417
 New Assize Court. Joint Railway Station419
 Election. Important Street Improvements421
 Roman Relics. Lovers' Walk423
1866Bristol Library. Bristol Institution425
 Harbour Railway. Turnpikes Abolished427
 Erection of the Cathedral Nave429
 Redistribution of Councillors431
 Suspected Murder433
1867Sugar Refining in Bristol435
1868The Queen's Prize to Riflemen. Banquet437
 New Post Office. An Election439
 Street Improvements441
 Clifton College Mission443
1869The Exchange Quadrangle. Lord Broughton445
 Mr. George Thomas. Accident at the Theatre447
1870Death of Mr. Berkeley. Election449
 Reorganisation of the Endowed Schools451
 The Endowed Schools. Railway to Clifton453
 Establishment of a School Board455
1871Census. Sales of Bristol China457
 American Steamers. St. Werburgh's Removed459
 Removal of St. Werburgh's Church461
 Construction of City Tramways463
1872Tramways. Third Class Railway Fares465
 Cromwell's Batteries. Coal Famine467
 Another New Gaol. The Neptune Statue469
1873Musical Festivals471
 The Prince of Wales at Bristol Races473
 University College475
1874Free Libraries. Election477
 Gift of a Mansion House. New Streets479
 Burges Hospital. Haberfield's Almshouse481
 Jenkins v. Cook, Birkin's Charity483
1875Red-tapism. Archæological Society485
 Workmen's Dwellings. Railway Amalgamation487
1876The Cathedral Porch Controversy489
 Completion of the Cathedral. Fire491
1877Revival of the Bishopric. Fire Brigade493
 The Competition of the Docks495
 Conduct of the Portishead Dock Board497
 An Arrangement Affected499
 Purchase of This Rival Docks501
1878Grand Reception of the Prince of Wales503
 Disastrous Bank Failure505
1879Churchyard Gardens. Civic Debt507
1880Lawford's Gate Prison, General Election509
 Salvation Army. Bedminster Bridge511
1881Electric Lighting. General Roberts513
 Police Bills Defeated. Sad Fatality515
1882Six New Parishes Created517
 Gift of a Park. New Pleasure Grounds519
 Disastrous Floods521
1883Tabernacle Burial Ground523
1884Horse Parade. The Price of Gas525
1885New Parliamentary Divisions527
 Phillips's Charity. Dock Improvements529
1886General Election. Sewerage Scheme531
 General Election. Death of Mr. Morley533
 The Queen's Jubilee535
 Cathedral and Civic Dignitaries. 1801-1887537

Butler & Tanner,
The Selwood Printing Works,
Frome and London.

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

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