Bristol in 1836
BRISTOL, a sea-port town in the West of England, 108 miles from London and 313 from Edinburgh, direct distance, between the counties of Gloucester and Somerset, and at the of the junction of the rivers Avon and Froome, about 10 miles, measured by the course of the water, or 7 miles in a straight from the spot where the Avon enters the Bristol Channel.
Etymology of its Name
The most ancient name of Bristol on record is Caer Odor, the city of the gap, or chasm through which the Avon finds a passage to the sea ; and to this was added the local description of Nant Baddon, in the valley of the baths. Much diversity of opinion has existed with regard to the etymology of its present name, Bristol ; and much of this uncertainty probably arises from the looseness of its orthography in ancient documents. Seyer, in his history of Bristol, has enumerated 47 variations, mostly from different, some from the same authorities ; and even these are not all. But the only modes of writing the name that are material, as serving to lead to the etymology, are Bristuit, and Bricstow. The Rev. Dr. Shaw derives Bristol from the Celtic words 'bras,' quick, rapid, or 'braos,' a gap, chasm, or rent, and 'tuile,' a stream : a derivation entitled to some credit. With regard to Bricstow, Chatterton derives it from Brictric, the last king of Wessex, who commenced his reign in 784, and died by poison in 800, supposing it to have been originally called Brictricstow. It appears also that Bricstow, or a similar name, prevailed from 1064 to 1204 ; and it is remarkable that a Brictric was Lord of Bristol at the earlier of these two dates. But, notwithstanding this, the following conjecture as to the origin of the name seems by far the most probable. The Saxon word 'brie' signifies a break, a breach ; and bric would thus be a literal translation of Odor ; dropping then the British prefix 'caer,' and substituting the Saxon suffix 'stow,' we should at once arrive at Bricstow, retaining the name which is most descriptive of the locality, and obtaining pure Saxon in exchange for pure British.
Of the footing which the Romans obtained in this part of England sufficient evidence exists ; and to Vespasian, afterwards emperor, the founding of the Roman station Abona, at Sea Mills, upon the Avon below Westbury-upon-Trym, has with great plausibility been ascribed. It is certain that the Romans obtained early possession of Bristol ; and in the time of Constantine, the time assumed by Seyer for its foundation, they invested it with a wall and gates, which inclosed the area now occupied by the most central portions of the town. After the withdrawal of the Roman troops, and at the epoch of the invasion of Cerdic (A.D. 495), who first carried the Saxon arms into Western England, Bristol formed part of the dominions of the princes of Cornwall, whose jurisdiction extended over all Somersetshire and part of Gloucestershire. It is recorded in Ellis's 'Specimens of Early English Romances,' that 'a vast army of Sarazens (pagans) from Denmark made an attack on Bristol with 30,000 men, in which they were so completely defeated that not five of them escaped.' Whatever may be of this tale, or rather of its authority, it is impossible that Bristol could have escaped from a strife which raged for a time so hotly around its walls ; but it appears to have maintained its independence until the invasion of Crida, who in 584 totally subdued the country upon the Gloucestershire side of the Avon, and erected upon the ruins of the ancient governments the Saxon kingdom of Mercia, of which, it is to be presumed, Bristol formed the frontier city bordering upon the neighbouring Saxon state of Wessex, and divided from it by the Avon. Caer Odor had now become Bric-stow ; and in 596 Jordan, the companion of Augustine, in his mission for the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, preached on the spot now called College Green, which subsequently became the site of the monastery, built in honour of the chief missionary, and now the cathedral church of Bristol. In 930 Bristol was held under Athelstan by Ailward, as Lord of the Honor. Ailward was a Saxon nobleman of considerable power and wealth in the adjoining counties : he was succeeded (980) in his lordship by his son Algar. Upon the coins of Canute the name of the town first appears as Bric and Bricstow ; so that at this date (1017) it must have possessed some importance. Indeed from this time its rise as a port may with certainty be dated ; for we find that upon the condemnation of Earl Godwin (1051) his sons Harold and Leofwine escaping to Bristol, thence embarked for Ireland ; and that after their reconciliation with the king, and the employment of Harold by Edward to chastise the Welsh, that chieftain embarked a body of men on board his fleet from Brikestow. We gather also from the life of Wolstan, who was consecrated Bishop of Worcester in 1062, that Brichtou was, from its convenience as a port, especially for embarkation to Ireland, used commonly for the purpose of exporting slaves : a practice which Wolstan denounced to the Conqueror, who forbade, but failed utterly to extinguish, the inhuman traffic by a royal edict. On the accession of William, Brictric then held the honour in succession from his father Algar ; but his estates were seized by William and himself confined in Winchester Castle, where he died. The profits of the Honor the king gave to his queen, and resumed them at her death. To the early part of the Norman period the addition of the second wall around the town is ascribed ; probably it was built together with the castle by Godfrey, bishop of Coutances, in Normandy, and of Exeter, in England, who followed the Conqueror to this country.
The castle is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Book, compiled 1086 ; and the first historical notice of it occurs on the death of William I, when it was fortified and held by Godfrey on behalf of Robert, the Conqueror's eldest son. It must at that time have been a place of considerable strength, for the insurgents in the west made it their headquarters, bearing thither all the plunder accumulated in foraging the adjoining counties, until, on the final success of Rufus, Godfrey retired into Normandy, and the king, in whom the honor then was, conferred it upon his cousin, Fitzhamon. By referring to Domesday Book, we shall be enabled very readily to trace the actual position of Bristol at the time of the Norman invasion. In that compilation the burgenses of Bristol are repeatedly referred to ; Bristol then was a burgh or walled town : it is also recorded that the burgenses paid to the king in reserved rents, fines, customs, and tolls, £57, 6 shillings, 8 pence. It follows that it was a royal burgh, the tenants in which held for the most part immediately under the king. The local government of the city was vested in a prepositor or chief magistrate, who acted under the custos of the castle, the 'caput honoris, the constable of which was either the lord of the Honor when he made it his residence, or an individual holding under him or the king. It does not appear that the prepositor was a salaried officer, although, as he was de vir-tute officii escheator to the king, his reasonable charges on that head were defrayed : but the town was charged with the maintenance of the castle ; and in addition to the sum recorded in Domesday Book as paid to the king, there is this item, 'And to the Lord Bishop [Godfrey] £28,' which was the precise sum annually paid by the town to the constable -of the castle for several subsequent reigns. The prepositor, at the accession of William I, was Hardyng, a wealthy merchant of the town, and the founder of the Berkeley family. He was continued in his office by the Conqueror, and was succeeded on his death, which did not occur till the reign of Henry I (1115), by Robert commonly called Fitzharding, and first Lord of Berkeley. But during this period that part of the present city which lies upon the Somersetshire side of the Avon, and comprises the parishes of Redcliff, St. Thomas, and Temple, possessed a separate jurisdiction and a prepositor of its own. It was called the Vil de Radcleeve, and was in every respect the rival of the neighbouring town until the two were incorporated. The estimated number of houses contained at this time within the walls of the town was 480 ; the population could not have far exceeded 3,000. To Robert Fitzhamon the grant of Rufus appears to have been absolute. Robert founded the abbey of Tewkesbury, conferring on it the church of St. Peter at Brigston, and a tithe of the rents of the town ; and as warden of the Welsh Marches, (an office attached to the Honor, and bearing somewhat onerously upon the townsmen, who were charged with checking the turbulent Welsh,) be conquered the county of Glamorgan, making Cardiff his capital. He died in 1107, leaving his three daughters to the wardship of Henry I, to which king he had, on the death of Rufus, transferred his allegiance. Henry gave the eldest daughter, Mabile, in marriage to his natural son Robert, on whom he conferred the Honor, creating him first (Norman) Earl of Gloucester : the annual value of the earldom has been estimated at £1,000 in the money of the time. Robert Earl of Gloucester has been justly esteemed the first man of his age ; and to his care after the capture of Duke Robert of Normandy (1126) Henry confided his unfortunate brother, whom the earl for some time confined in the castle at Bristol, until, for greater security, he was removed to Cardiff Castle, where he died. On the death of Henry, Earl Robert maintained Bristol and its castle on behalf of his sister Matilda, against the usurpation of Stephen. The castle he is said to have built ; but as a castle was certainly in existence, the probability is that he enlarged its site and added to its defences only ; and this he appears to have done most effectually, for under him it became one of the largest and strongest fortresses in the kingdom. It occupied about 6 acres of ground, and William Botoner, surnamed Wyrcestre, states that the walls were 25 feet thick at the base and 9½ at the top. Stephen was brought to this castle after his capture at the battle of Lincoln (1140), and kept prisoner until the following year, when he was exchanged against Earl Robert.
During this stormy period the prepositor of the town, Robert Fitzharding, was employing a portion of his wealth in erecting the abbey of St. Augustine, now the cathedral church ; and William of Malmesbury writes that the port was at this time 'the resort of ships coming from Ireland, Norway, and other countries beyond sea ; lest a region so fortunate in native riches should be destitute of the commerce of foreign wealth.' Earl Robert died at Bristol of a severe fever in November, 1147, having previously founded the priory of St. James (subsequently the parochial church of that name) in Bristol, in the choir of which he was, at his own request, interred. He was succeeded in his earldom by his son William. Henry II, on his accession (1154) resumed the royal jurisdiction over the towns, castles, &c., which belonged to the crown, by taking them into his own hands ; but 20 years elapsed before he obtained possession of the castle of Bristol, when (1175) the earl surrendered it into the king's hand, constituting the king's son his heir, the king at the same time contracting for the marriage of his son John with Isabel the earl's daughter. The rise of Bristol into a free municipal town may now be said fairly to commence, and its progress was rapid in the extreme. For the services rendered to the king's mother during the wars with Stephen the burgesses had a right to expect favours at his hand ; but the first gracious act on record is a charter, granted 1164, in which they are exempted from toll, passage, and custom throughout all the king's lands wherever they shall come, they and their goods. At his father's death, Prince John was Earl of Moreton (Mortagne, Normandy) and Lord of Ireland ; and by his marriage with the Lady lsabel, solemnized at Marlborough, August 29, 1189, he became also Lord of Bristol, to which city he in the following year granted a charter, which is historically most valuable, for it recites all the existing privileges of the place. From this document we find that the burgesses were exempted from pleading or being impleaded without the walls of the town, except in cases of foreign tenure, in which the town had no jurisdiction ; from the fine levied by the lord on the hundred in which murder had been committed ; and from wager of duel, unless appealed to on the death of a stranger killed within the walls : that no one could take an inn (hospitium) within the walls without leave of the burgesses ; that they were exempt from toll, lastage (privileged porterage), pontage and all other customs throughout their lord's land ; and that they could not be condemned in money above 40 shillings ; that the hundred court was held once in the week, and that the burgesses had power of recovering all debts, &c., throughout their lord's land ; that lands and tenures within the town were to be held according to the customs of the place ; that pleas with regard to all debts contracted in the town must be there held ; and that in case of tolls taken against the charter, the prepositor could enforce restoration by seizure ; that strangers within the town could not buy leather, corn, or wool, but of a burgess, nor sell wine except from a ship, nor cloth except at the fair, nor remain in the town to sell goods longer than 40 days ; that no burgess could he elsewhere detained for any debt except of his own or for one in which he had become surety ; that he could marry without the license of his lord, and that the lord had wardship only so far as regarded the lands in his own fee ; that no one could take tyne (a tax levied in kind in those primitive times ad libitum) except for the use of the lord earl ; that the burgesses could grind their corn where they chose ; that they were not obliged to bail any one, not even their servants ; and that they were allowed to have all their reasonable guilds. These existing privileges the charter confirms : it grants in addition the privilege of holding property in free burgage on land-gable service (payment of ground-rent), and of making improvements by building upon the banks of the river and upon the other void places of the town. This may serve to show us what the feudal system was, as well as to indicate very nearly what was the social position of Bristol at the time the whole of these privileges were extended to the men of Redcliff.
On the accession of Henry III, he was crowned at Gloucester, and the barons being then in arms against the tyranny of the late king, Henry came with his retinue to Bristol for greater security. Here a reconciliation was effected ; and an important alteration took place in the municipal government of the town. Hitherto the only local magistrate appears to have been the prepositor, who also seems to have acted as the king's manorial steward ; but now the privilege of choosing a mayor and two prepositors was granted to the burgesses. The functions of the latter from henceforth were similar to those of bailiffs or sheriffs, into which offices their own subsequently lapsed ; and upon the mayor devolved the duty of escheator to the king. In the 8th of his reign (1225) Henry let the farm of the town (hitherto granted to individuals) for the first time to the burgesses themselves, for eight years, at the advanced rent of £245 per annum, saving to the king certain bailiwicks in the suburbs, and of the prisage of beer so much as should be necessary for the use of the constable of the castle and his people - the rest for the burgesses. But the rents and profits so leased did not comprise the whole of the revenues of the town ; for in the charter roll for the 11th of this king's reign, preserved among the records of Chancery, it is written that the king had granted to Jordan Laurence and his heirs the tronage and pesage (customs paid for the weighing of wool and merchandize) in the town of Bristol for the 'service of 10 shillings per annum.
In the 26th of his reign the king again farmed the town to the burgesses for a term of twenty years, at a rental of £250 ; and at the termination of ten years the lease was renewed for a term of sixty years, at a rental of £266, 13 shillings, 4 pence. The course of the river Froome within the town had previously been to the east of its present channel, so that it passed through a part of the town now called Baldwin Street, joining the Avon a little below the bridge, and flooding the ground, until those parts now occupied by Queen square and the quay were converted into a marsh ; and the anchorage was confined to a small stretch of quay above the bridge, where the vessels lay on a rough and stony bottom, with a very high and inconvenient place of landing. The trade of the port had now however outgrown the extent of this quay, and the burgesses resolving to cut a new course for the Avon, the ground necessary to the purpose was ceded to the mayor and commonalty by the abbot of St. Augustines for the sum of ten marks. The work was commenced in 1239, and completed about the year 1247. The extent of the quay obtained by this spirited proceeding was 2,400 feet ; and the channel of the river was dug 18 feet deep and 40 yards wide. For the completion of this undertaking, which for its day well deserves the title of great, the burgesses of Bristol obtained a writ of mandamus from the king to the burgesses of Radcleeve, requiring them to render their assistance ; and in the year of its completion, both towns were by royal charter incorporated into one. A stone bridge was immediately commenced for the better means of communication between the united towns, the wall of the town was extended so as to embrace the new district, and Redcliff shortly became the seat of those manufactories which, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, almost supplied England with cloth, glass, and soap. In the year 1243 it is recorded that the latter article of Bristol manufacture was first sold in London.
During the unsettled state of the kingdom in the reign of Edward II, consequent upon the quarrel of the king with his barons, the town was for some time held by the citizens against the sovereign, and the royal authority completely set aside. This rebellion originated in an alleged attempt of fourteen of the principal citizens (de majoribus), to usurp the management and disposal of the corporate funds to the exclusion of the burgesses at large, in whom the right was ; a usurpation which was resented by the burgesses who complained also that a custom called cockett was levied upon their goods contrary to their ancient privileges. Upon appeal to the king, a special commission of Oyer and Terminer was issued to inquire into the case ; but the commission was objected to by the popular party, on the ground that foreigners (that is, persons not burgesses of Bristol) were put upon the inquisition or jury ; and a tumult arising during its sitting in the Guildhall, the commissioners narrowly escaped with their lives. The parties indicted for this offence, refusing to appear before the kings justices at Gloucester, were outlawed ; and the burgesses retaliated by banishing the obnoxious fourteen from the town, seizing upon their property, and collecting the kings rents and customs to their own use. The rebellion began in 1311 ; and the town 'held its own' for the spaces of four years, during which time it continued to exist, a little republic in the heart of a great monarchy, if a sovereignty so torn with dissensions can properly be termed great. The local government was carried on according to its ancient form, with this exception : the burgesses held the authority of the castle at defiance, and, for their better security, built against it a strong wall with forts, traces of which, of an immense thickness, have been recently discovered in making excavations on its site in Dolphin Street, anciently, from this fact, termed Defence Lane. In the spring of 1314 the city was invested on the part of Edward by the earl of Gloucester, at the head of an army of 20,000 men, raised by the sheriffs of the adjoining counties of Somerset, Gloucester, and Wiltshire, under writs issued in the midsummer of the preceding year ; but the townsmen, encouraged by their mayor, John le Taverner, stoutly resisted their besiegers, and the king requiring men for his Scottish wars, the siege was raised. About the latter end of 1316, the burgess refusing to submit without a full admission of their ancient privileges and exemption from the obnoxious tax, the town was again besieged, and, after a few days' resistance, surrendered to the army of the king. The 14 majoris were reinstated, and a general pardon was procured from the king on the payment of a considerable fine and the arrears of the cockett. The only charter of this king to town was one granted in the 15th of his reign, in confirmation of 28th of Edward I.
In 1327, the year succeeding the accession of Edward III, the castle and borough of Liverpool were together taken to be worth £30, 10 shillings per annum ; while three years afterwards the town of Bristol was farmed at a rental of £240. In the 5th of his reign the king granted to the town the privilege of receiving, for the term of four years, a custom on goods coming to the town for sale, in aid of repairing its walls. The articles taxed will show the nature of the traffic at that time : they consist of live stock, agricultural produce and fish, wine, wool, skins, linen cloth, and cloth of silk, 'Irish Galway cloths,' salt, ashes, honey, iron, lean, alum, brass, tallow, millstones, copper, leather, oil, and wood. The copy of this grant is still preserved among the records of the Court of Chancery. In the 5th year of his reign Edward granted a charter to the burgesses, confirming 31st of Henry III. and 15th of Edward II, and providing, that to prevent waste and fraud the mayor should have ward over the goods and chattels of orphans, and that the burgesses should have view of frank-pledge in the suburbs of the town ; a privilege of some importance, as the right of the town to hold court in Redcliff Street was contested by the lords of Berkeley. For the encouragement of the home manufacture of cloth, the use of the foreign article was, in 1337, expressly forbidden ; and of the promise of golden profit which the prohibition held out Bristol appears to have availed itself with great spirit. Some of the principal towns-men erected looms in their dwelling-houses, and on a tax being levied on the new trade by the local powers, it was relieved from so impolitic an impost on petition to the king. In the 15th of Edward III the parliament having granted a subsidy of 30,000 sacks of wool, London was rated at 503 bags, Bristol at 63, and York at 49 ; and in the 27th of the same reign a wool staple was fixed at Bristol, and the trade was prosecuted with such activity, that the suburbs of the town became peopled with the makers of cloth. The trade continued to prosper until the reign of Henry VIII, when cloth of Bristol' was held in high esteem ; and it lingered about the city till 1739, when the electoral body of freemen, in number 3,899, then residing within the town, contained 300 weavers : the trade has since altogether re-tired into the adjoining counties.
Recurring to the history of the town during the reign of Edward III, we find that in 1338, the king requiring vessels of the several ports for the defence of the kingdom, Bristol was commanded to furnish 24 vessels, and Liverpool one small bark. In the war with France, which commenced in the spring of 1345, 642 men were raised in Bristol and Gloucester ; Bristol also contributed 22 ships with 608 mariners, and London the same number of vessels with 662 marines.
A most important step in the municipal history of the town was taken at this time. A charter was granted in the 47th of the kings reign (and confirmed by Parliament, a circumstance which has since caused much difficulty with re-ference to the subsequent royal charters) to the burgesses, in consideration of the good service done by them to the king by their shipping, and for 600 marks. Previously, the town being partly in the county of Gloucester and partly in that of Somerset, the burgesses had been put to considerable expense and inconvenience in their attendance at the assize towns of Gloucester and Ilchester. By this charter both were in future obviated by the erection of Bristol into a county of itself. By the same charter it was ordained that every future mayor should, by virtue of his office, be escheator ; that the burgesses should annually choose three persons, out of whom the king should select one to be sheriff ; and that these might account at the king's exchequer for the issue of the town by attorney ; privilege was also given to mayor and sheriff each to hold his monthly court, and to collect the profits thereof to the use of the commonalty ; it was also provided that the new mayor might be sworn in before his predecessor instead of by the constable of the castle as to heretofore, and the sheriff before the mayor ; that the burgesses might hold the gaol, and the mayor and sheriff have cognizance of all pleas, and hear and determine all felonies, saving all fees, and the jurisdiction of the Tolzey Court to the crown ; that the mayor for the time being should have power to recognise deeds, receive probates of wills and put them in execution ; that the town should not be burthened to send more than two burgesses to parliament ; and that in cases to which existing privileges and customs did not apply, a remedy should be provided, and a power of local taxation be possessed by a council of 40, to be elected from time to time by the mayor, sheriff, and commonalit-y of the town, the money so to be raised to be expended for the necessities and profits of the town, by two honest men chosen by common consent, and accountable for the same before the mayor and others deputed for the purpose by the commonalty of the town. By this important charter the jurisdiction of the castle was confined to its own precinct ; and the independence of the town was at once established.
Three charters were granted to the burgesses by Richard II ; the first two are merely confirmatory of preceding privileges, and were given in the 1st of his reign (1377), in which year also a royal grant for murage, for the space of ten years, was made. The new articles of traffic on which imposts are granted in this document, a copy of which is still preserved in the records of the Court of Chancery, are timber, coal, bark, flax, hemp, pitch, tar, wax, pepper, fruit, almonds, and chalk. The third charter adverted to, granted in the 19th year of the king's reign, provides that, on royal visits, the kings steward and marshal shall not exercise their offices in Bristol. The value of this privilege will be understood when the reader is informed that the jurisdiction of these officers within the verge of the king's residence superseded all others. In the previous year (1395) the town was granted to the mayor and commonalty, for the space of twelve years, at a rental of £100, chargeable in addition with certain expenses for the support of the castle and the keeper of the royal forest at Kingswood.
A charter granted in the 24th year of his reign by Henry VI exempted Bristol from the jurisdiction of the Admiralty in consideration of £200 freely granted to the king in his necessities. The value of this privilege will be understood when it is explained that the Court of Admiralty claimed to determine alt cases occurring super altum mare and that at this period the trouble and expense of prosecuting a suit in the metropolis were infinitely greater than at present ; by the charter an admiralty jurisdiction was granted to the local municipality. In 1437, in the reign of Henry VI, Clement Bagot, the then mayor and escheator, rendered in an account to the Exchequer, still preserved among its records, which enumerates the various sources of revenue which constituted what was called the ferm of the town, and which will to some extent show what was the state of commerce. The most important part of this revenue arises from a custom on merchandise. It appears that Bristol had at this early date extended its commerce along the whole west coast of England, to South Wales and Ireland, and to France and Russia. The only classification of vessels attempted is into ships and boats ; of the former there are reckoned 66, of the latter 64 ; but many of them, from the amount of their cargoes, must have been of large tonnage : 13 ships and 10 boats are distinctly stated to be freighted for going out, and some few others appear to have had parts of cargoes on board having the same destination. The exports by this account appear to have been 500 dozen of cloths, 7 tons, 6 hundredweight, 4 pipes, and 1 cask of iron, 400 pieces of glass, and 10 gross of cutlery, with various quantities of honey, meath, alum, pitch, wine, salt, fish, and cardys (corduroys). The imports are infinitely more numerous ; and among the most material are 12 tons of iron ; 10,600 bales of linen cloths (Irish) ; 829 pieces of tin, averaging 2 hundredweight to the piece ; 10,575 lamb-skins ; 5,239 goat-skins ; 800 calf-skins ; 16,507 sheep-skins, and 4,522 others, principally hare and deer ; 900 barrels of hides ; 39,000 fish in bulk, and 1,197 packages, principally barrels and pipes of salmon and herrings ; 110 barrels of salt ; 12 tun of wine ; 43 dickers of leather, and some others, including oil and about 26 packages of fruit. The total amount of customs accounted for on these exports and imports is £21, 16 shillings, 10 pence ; for merchandise entering in and going out through the gates of the town, £8, 17 shillings, 10 pence ; for the fines and amercements in the court of Tolzey, £15, 6 shillings, 8 pence ; and for the mills, £9, 14 shillings, which, with the landgables and rentals of tenements, give a royal revenue from that source amounting to £80, 14 shillings, 4½ pence. But this income appears to have been very unequal ; for in the three successive years these rents and profits severally amounted to £62, 3 shillings, 2 pence, £116, 8 shillings, 5 pence, and £104, 14 shillings.
Custom was the ancient toll or customary payment at the port and gates of a town ; and as there can be no doubt that here it was identical with the present town dues, from which the burgesses have ever been exempt, it would follow that these imports and exports were that part of the trade only which lay in the hands of individuals not free of the town. This may account for the absence of many articles in the list known to have been then imported, and for the smallness of the traffic in others. And indeed it seems certain that a more productive tax was collected under a similar name, and probably payable alike by citizen and stranger ; for when at this same date parliament granted a sum for defraying the expenses of the king's household, £266, 13 shillings, 4 pence was directed to be token out of the customs at Bristol. In the 20th of the same king the Commons ordered 8 ships, having each 150 men, to keep the sea continually, of which number Bristol was directed to furnish 2 ; and 12 years after, when a fleet was ordered for the protection of trade, London lent towards its fitting out £300 and Bristol £150.
At the time of Edward lV's succession to the crown, 1461, he came, in his progress through the western counties, to Bristol. William Canynges, the most celebrated merchant of his day, the (reputed) founder of the church of St. Mary, Redcliff, was then mayor ; and of him it is reported by William of Worcester, a contemporary authority, that he paid to the king 3,000 marks for his peace pro pace sua habenda.' This must be understood to refer to the whole fine levied on the Lancastrian party in the town, and which Canynges would have had, in his official character of escheator to the king, to pay into the exchequer. The king appears to have been well satisfied with the transfer of allegiance on the part of the burgesses, and with the ready service rendered on their part ; for he immediately, on surrender of the lease previously held under Henry, re-granted the town to the burgesses for ever on payment of the same annual rental : this charter bears date 12th February, 1461, and it was accompanied, or nearly so, by a grant in fee of the customs for murage, keyage, and pavage, and by two charters confirmatory of privileges previously enjoyed. The fame of Canynges requires some further notice. It is recorded by William of Worcester that he employed for the space of 8 years 800 seamen, and every day 100 artificers. The same writer furnishes a list of his vessels, 10 in number, and including one of 900 tons burthen, one of 500, one of 400, and two of 220 ; and though some doubts have been entertained as to the then existence of a vessel so large as the largest here specified, yet when it is considered that it would not necessarily follow that it should have equalled the size of a modern vessel of the same registered burthen, there does not seem any legitimate reason for disturbing the text. The wealth of Canynges was certainly considerable : in his old age he became a priest in the college of Westbury, which he had founded. Reference has been made above to Canynges as the reputed founder of Redcliff Church ; but the honour has been claimed for Simon de Bourton, previously adverted to, for the grandfather of William Canynges, and for William himself. It is certain that a church previously existed on the cliff, and that it continued to exist as the chapel of the Holy Spirit contemporaneously with the present edifice for a considerable period : it is also certain that Simon de Bourton did found a church of St. Mary, Redcliff ; and it is no less certain that to the wealth of the Canynges we are indebted for much of the beauty of the present structure. The difficulty may be got over by concluding, not with Mr. Dallaway, that three distinct churches of St. Mary, Redcliff, have from time to time existed on the same spot, but with Mr. Britton, that Canynges completed what De Bourton begun. Mr. Britton has traced in the architecture of the church three distinct eras, which, with considerable ingenuity, he refers to the ages of the three individuals whose claims have been here alluded to. Of the general character of the edifice (one of the finest specimens of parochial church architecture in England), the view given in No 169 of the 'Penny Magazine' will serve to convey a tolerable idea ; and the sketch opposite of the North Porch, the grand though disused entrance, may furnish some concep-tion of the labour bestowed in the architectural decorations. It is a splendid specimen of its kind, but unfortunately hidden from general observation by the near approach of the surrounding buildings.
In 1486 Henry VII came to Bristol, and the burgesses, through the medium of a pageant of king Brennus, complained to him of a decay in the prosperity of the place. Brennus was made to say that he had left the town in possession of 'riches and wealth manifold,' but that since that time 'Bristow had fallen into a decay,' from which there was no hope of recovery without some remedy at the hands of the king, which was accordingly prayed. Leland reports that 'after evensong the king sent for the mayre and sheriff, and part of the best burgesses of the town, and demanded of them the cause of their poverty ; and they showed his grace that it was by reason of the great loss of ships and goods which they had suffered within five years. The king comforted them, that they should set on and make new ships, and exercise their merchandise, as they were wont to do : and his grace would so help them by divers means, like as he showed unto them ; so that the mayre of the town told me they had not heard these hundred yeares from any king so good a comfort.' The following year his 'grace so helped them by extorting from the town a benevolence of £500 in levying a tax of 5 per cent upon each of the commons worth more than £20 in goods, his plea was that their wives went too sumptuously apparelled. The burgesses however obtained from him in the same year a charter confirmatory of their former privileges. In 1499 an important charter was granted by Henry. From this charter we learn that the town was then possessed a recorder, which officer and five others, to be chosen by the mayor and common council, were appointed aldermen with powers equal to those exercised by the aldermen of London. In future it was provided that the mayor and aldermen, of whom the recorder must always be one, should exercise the power of deposing any member of the body and of filling all vacancies. To the mayor and commonalty of the town was given power to elect two bailiffs annually, who were also to act as sheriffs, and to appoint the common council of 40 as before, in whom the local government should be vested. By the same charter the office of water-bailiff, previously in the crown, was ceded with all powers and perquisites to the town on payment of four marks per annum into the exchequer ; and the mayor and aldermen were empowered to deliver the gaol, saving all fines and fees to the crown.
From the temporary stagnation of trade Bristol was now recovering, and entered with spirit upon voyages of discovery under Sebastian Cabot, a native of the town, and the most experienced navigator of his age. The name of the vessel which first touched the shores of the vast continent of America was the Matthew of Bristol, and the earliest letters patent on record for the discovery and colonization of new lands were granted to three merchants of Bristol in conjunction with three Portuguese. The history of Bristol during the reign of Henry VIII is principally a history of the Reformation within its walls. Among the suppressed religious houses of the greatest note were the monastery of St. Augustine, now the cathedral church, and the hospital of the Gaunts, now the mayors chapel, originally founded by the Berkeleys after their intermarriage with the Gaunts, barons of Folkinghame. Henry VIII founded upon the ruins of the abbey lands a bishopric, thus first erecting the town into the dignity of a city and a bishop's see : it originally formed part of the diocese of Salisbury. The abbey he converted into a cathedral church, erecting a dean and chapter therein. The Gaunts chapel and lands he sold to the corporation. Speed, in the list of suppressed religious houses, contained in his chronicle of England's monarchs, gives as the value of this hospital, which was a charity for orphans, £140 ; the value of the monastery he states at £767, 15 shillings, 3 pence ; and of Westbury College, to which Canynge was so large a benefactor, and wherein, as has been stated, he ended his days, £232, 14 shillings. In the year following, 1546, a mint and a printing-press were set up in the castle. On the accession of Elizabeth she granted (1558) a charter confirmatory of ancient privileges ; and in 1561 the city was finally exempted from the charge of keeping the marches of Wales.
In 1578 it is recorded that the Aid, a vessel of 200 tons, came into Bristol, bringing with her an Esquimaux, his wife and child. The Aid had returned from an unsuccessful attempt to discover a North-West Passage : the name of captain was Martin Frobisher. In 1581 the queen granted a new charter, confirming that of Henry VII, granted in the 15th of his reign, and increasing the number of aldermen to 12. When preparation was made to oppose the Spanish Armada, Bristol contributed 3 ships and 1 pinnace ; London,16 ships and 1 pinnace. A return of ships belonging to the United Kingdom in this year gives, of ships above 100 tons, to London, 62 ; Bristol, 9 ; above 80, London, 23 ; Bristol, 1 ; and under 80, London, 44 ; Bristol, 27 : in which appears either to be some mistake, or that the commerce of the kingdom had materially declined. The annual receipt of customs during the reign of Elizabeth was at all the ports, London excepted, £77,000, of which sum Bristol paid £5,000.
Six years after the accession of James I (in 1609), Newfoundland was colonized from Bristol. In 1630, in consideration of the sum of £959, Charles I granted the whole of the lands, buildings, and hereditaments connected with the castle to the burgesses and commonalty of the town, to be holden by them and their successors for ever in free soccage at a rental of £40 per annum. In 1631 the merchant adventurers of Bristol fitted out the Henrietta Maria, of 80 tons, under the command of Captain James, who sailed from Kingsroad on the 3rd of May in that year, purposing the discovery of a North-West Passage to China, to which enterprise the merchants of this country were then excited by the report of the immense wealth acquired by the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the Dutch, in their traffic with the East. Captain James's crew consisted of 20 men and 2 boys ; he proceeded as far as latitude 52 degrees, where, finding his course further impeded, and the winter setting in with danger of injury to his vessel, he adopted the bold expedient of sinking her in the bay named after himself, and wintered on shore. In July 2, 1632, the vessel was raised again, and the adventurous crew proceeded as far as latitude 65 degrees 30 minutes, when, finding further perseverance useless, they shaped their course for England, and arrived in Bristol in October.
In 1634 the customs at Bristol produced annually about £10,000 ; for several years following the receipts exceeded £15,000. From this time may be dated the commencement of that struggle between Charles and the people. It began in the demand for ship-money ; and on Bristol was at once assessed the sum of £2,163, 13 shillings, 4 pence : in 1636 the assessments between Bristol and Liverpool were, according to Rushworth, thus distributed :- Bristol, 1 ship of 100 tons, 40 men, and £1000 charges ; Liverpool, no ship, £25 charges. The sufferings of Bristol during the struggle for its possession between the royalists and the parliament were severe. Fiennes reports that the 'riches of Bristol since the stop of trade, and many malignants withdrawing their estates, is much otherwise than is conceived.' To this state of things Colonel Fiennes, who held Bristol for the parliament, contributed his share. It was his custom to levy contributions on individuals by a written demand for the supply of the garrison ; and during his ascendency some citizens were executed on a charge of conspiracy, and their estates confiscated by him, from which source he admitted the receipt of £3,000. During the royal occupation of the place, the weekly cost of its garrison, and of Bath, Berkeley and some others, amounted to about £2,000, which was assessed upon the neighbouring country. Bristol paid £150, the customs of the port, £200 : the proportion borne by the hundred of Redcliff cum Bedminster was £200 per month. Under the parliament the sum of £3,000 per month was ordered to be raised for the defences of the city and its castle; of which sum Bristol paid £200, and the surrounding counties of Gloucester, Somerset, and Wiltshire the remainder. In the year 1656 the castle was demolished by order of parliament, their last and best act with regard to Bristol under the commonwealth.
Three years after the Restoration, Charles II visited Bristol ; and in the following year (1664) the burgesses obtained from him a charter of confirmation, with a proviso that the members of the corporation should take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance. In 1682-3 the attorney-general, Sir Robert Sawyer, in pursuance of the king's general attack upon the corporations of the king-dom, moved for a writ of 'Quo warranto' against that of Bristol ; and in November, 1683, the corporation, acting under the advice of its law officers, made an unconditional surrender of the privileges of the city into the king's hands. Upon this surrender, which was never enrolled, the king granted a charter confirmatory of all old privileges, but vesting the exercise of them all in the existing executive branch of the corporation, and conferring upon that branch the power of electing its successors. The king however retained in his own hands the power of removing any member by an order in council ; and the corporation paid him £500.
In 1687 King James chose to exercise the power reserved by charter of Charles II, and removed by writ twenty-eight of the corporate body, supplying their places with others ; but on the issuing of the proclamation for the resumption of charters, October, 1688, the corporation returned to their ancient privileges and modes of election.
By an act obtained 11 and 12 William III, the corporation, for the better preservation of the river, extended their jurisdiction four miles along the course of the Avon inward above Bristol bridge, to the village of Hannam in Gloucestershire ; and in the 9th of the succeeding reign the same body obtained a charter from Queen Anne, which, confirming all previous privileges, removed, with every other right of the crown in fines, fees, &c., the power of deposing any member of the corporation by writ of privy council. The reason of seeking this charter appears to have been some question as to the legality of that of Charles, founded in some degree upon doubts respecting the legality of the surrender upon which it was granted.
The following facts will serve to illustrate the condition of the city during the eighteenth century. In 1735 the number of houses in the city was 6,701 ; in 1788 they had increased to 8,701, of which, as appears from the returns of land tax then laid before parliament, 3,947 paid severally a rental exceeding £5 per annum ; the population at this last period was between 70,000 and 80,000. In 1762, Busching, a German writer on the political and commercial geography of Europe, estimated the number of houses in the city and suburbs at 13,000, and the population of the whole district at 95,000. This estimate is in a note, added, apparently, by the English translator of Busching : the probability however is that this exceeded the fact. The manufactory of brass was commenced in 1704 ; that of zinc in 1743. In 1745 the receipt for one year of wharfage, a local toll on foreign imports and exports, was £918 ; thirty years afterwards it was £2000. From the year 1750 to 1757 the average net receipts of the customs at Bristol was £155,189 ; at Liverpool £51,136 ; the net receipt at Bristol in 1764 was £195,000 ; the number of vessels reported inwards 2,353. In 1784 the customs at Bristol yielded £334,909 ; those of Liverpool £648,684. In 1786 the tonnage belonging to the port of Liverpool amounted to 49,541 tons, comprised in 465 vessels ; the number of vessels belonging to the port of Bristol in 1787 was 360, with a burthen of 56,909 tons. In the same year the entire trade of Bristol stood thus :- Foreign trade - British vessels in, 255, tonnage 38,502 ; out vessels 243, tonnage 37,542 : foreign bottoms in 69, tonnage 11,112 ; out 66, tonnage 37,542. Coasting trade - in vessels 1,862, tonnage 66,200 ; out vessels 1,632, tonnage 62,139 : Irish vessels, in 161, tonnage 9,623 ; out 139, tonnage 9,187. From this time Bristol may date her loss of claim to be considered the second commercial place in the kingdom, and the superior importance of Liverpool began to be felt.
The only remaining facts necessary to be mentioned in the historical division of this article are the bridge riots of 1793, and the still more memorable riots of 1831. As to the former, it is unnecessary here to do more than to allude to them ; of the latter some account will be given from personal observation.
The Bristol riots of 1831 originated in some disturbances which attended the visit of the recorder, Sir Charles Wetherell, to that city in the exercise of his judicial functions in April, 1831. These disturbances were at first nothing more than the expression of the popular dislike to the recorder whose opinions on the question of reform, as stated by him in the House of Commons, were at variance with those of a large part of the population of Bristol. Owing to injudicious measures taken to prevent a recurrence of the same scenes at the recorder's visit, Saturday, October 29, 1831, the popular feeling was still more excited, and broke out into open violence. The military were called in, a skirmish took place, and a man was shot by a soldier. This exasperated the populace still more, and it was judged prudent that the obnoxious regiment (the 14th) should be marched out of the town on the following morning. At this crisis, when the mob had forced its way to the cellars of the Mansion-house, and the disturbances, instead of being marked by any expression of political feeling, were assuming the character of mere rioting and plunder, the indecision of the corporate authorities completed the scene of confusion. Several citizens who had attended at the Guildhall on the invitation of the magistrates to assist them in repressing the disturbances were told to go home to dinner, to give the magistrates time to consult over several private letters of advice. A second meeting took place in the afternoon, but in the mean time both gaols had been forced and fired. Opinions were very divided : some refused to assist in dispersing the rioters, because the magistrates would not sanction the use of arms. At this time the rioters were still in possession of the larger gaol, and employed in feeding the flames in the governor's house and debtors' rooms with the furniture ; and the few who consented to accompany the magistrates to the scene of disturbance being unarmed, fled at the first charge. Speaking from knowledge acquired on the spot, it is not too much to say that at any time during this day, subsequent to the retreat of the military, a very small force, with good management, might have effectually put down the disturbance ; the half-dozen dragoons within the town were quite equal to the defence of the large prison, had measures been taken to garrison it in time ; and upon revision of the whole transaction, nothing appears more strange than the character and number of the mob actively engaged in the work of destruction, which seems almost contemptible. From the city prison the mob proceeded to the Gloucester county prison, where, as in the city, the prisoners were all liberated and the gaol fired. In the evening of the same day (Sunday) the Mansion-house was plundered and burned down ; from the Mansion-house the destruction was extended to the private dwellings adjoining, and to the Bishop's Palace in another part of the town ; and during the night fifty buildings, including the three prisons, the Mansion-house the Bishop's Palace, and forty-five private houses were consumed, and the property either destroyed or carried away. The total loss was estimated, and perhaps not over estimated, at £200,000. In the morning of Monday the first check was given to the rioters about six o'clock, by the spirited defence of a private house, then attacked, by its owner and a few friends ; and a charge simultaneously made by the few dragoons, upon the enfeebled remnants of the mob, overpowered with their previous excesses, effectually quelled further violence. The public engines were brought to assist in extinguishing the flames ; the citizens, who as a body had hitherto withheld support from the unpopular local government, finding that support to be no longer implied expression of confidence in the magistracy, came forth generally to restore the public peace ; and by nine o clock on the Monday the streets were entirely free from rioters, and the passengers within them were confined to some few persons anxious to ascertain the fate of their friends residing within the neighbourhood of the fires, and a few working men proceeding to their usual employment. Unhappily the definite order was now given, for the first time, by the magistrates, of course in ignorance of the then state of the city, to charge through the streets, and given to troops just recalled to the place, or who had not till then been on the spot : the effect of this measure was as fatal as the charge itself was uncalled for and unexpected. Active search also was made after the stolen property, much of which was recovered, and many captures were made of persons who were plainly implicated in the riots. The list of killed and wounded, as subsequently made out, was, killed 12, wounded 96 ; but this list included only those a taken to the public hospitals : many rioters perished in the flames, being suddenly overtaken while engaged in plundering or drinking.
At the special commission, opened on the 2nd of January, 1832, in the Guildhall at Bristol, before the Lord Chief Justice Tyndal, and Mr. Justices Taunton and Bosanquet, 114 persons were indicted for offences committed during these disturbances, the bills against 12 of whom were ignored; 21 were acquitted, and 81 convicted : of the prisoners convicted, 5 were condemned to death, 4 of whom were executed, 1 having been reprieved on the ground of defective intellect : against 26 the sentence of death was recorded ; 1 was transported for 14 years, 6 for 7 years ; and 23 were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Courts-martial were at the same time held on Colonel Brereton, the military commander of the district, and upon the second-in-command, Captain Warrington. The proceedings of the first court-martial were brought suddenly to a close by the melancholy suicide of Colonel Brereton ; the second terminated in the object of it being cashiered, with liberty to sell his commission. Ex officio informations were also subsequently filed against several of the magistrates for neglect of duty, and that against the mayor, Mr. Pinney, came to trial before the Court of King's Bench. The defence was, that the citizens refused to confide in or assist the magistrates, and that consequently, deserted as they were by the public, they could not have acted more efficiently. Upon these grounds the verdict of acquittal appears to have been given ; and the other informations were withdrawn. Subsequent to the riots the corporation introduced a bill into parliament for providing compensation for the sufferers ; but this measure was taken out of their hands by a committee appointed for the purpose by the rate-payers, under whose care the bill was materially amended and ultimately carried. This measure provided for the awarding of damages by commissioners to be elected by the rate-payers. Of 102 claims taken before the commissioners, 101 have been amicably settled, and only one carried into court ; thus furnishing an admirable illustration of the sufficiency of the principle of arbitration and mutual agreement, which in this case has reduced the amount chargeable on the city in respect of the fires to £68,208, a sum which, if the law had been suffered to take the common expensive course, would have been doubled. The amount annually levied is £10,000.
Present State of Bristol. Local Government.
The corporation of Bristol, prior to 5 and 6 of William IV, was styled the mayor, burgesses, and commonalty of the city of Bristol,' and consisted of a common council of forty-three persons ; this body was composed of a mayor, two sheriffs, twelve aldermen, the recorder (necessarily a barrister of five years' standing) being one, and twenty-eight common councilmen. The patronage of this body consisted of the direct or indirect appointment to nearly 100 offices, with salaries and fees attached, making average incomes of from £50 to £1500 per annum, and of the presentation to fourteen advowsons, and to two lectureships. The public property in its entire control netted from £16,000 to £18,000 yearly, but this, under the system of leasing on lives, is considerably less than the improvable value : its debt, which in 1825 amounted to £5,140 only, had in 1833, when the commissioners of corporate inquiry visited the city, increased to nearly £55,000. But this amount does not contain monies accepted on condition of paying certain endowments, about £31,000, making its total liabilities at that time £86,000. This total, up to the extinction of the old body, December 1835, had increased by excess of expenditure to a round sum of £100,000. The value of the corporate property is estimated at £398,000
The jurisdiction of the corporation extended by water over the whole of the old and new course of the Avon, inland into Gloucestershire about four miles beyond the limits of the city, and outwards along the English coast to high-water mark on the Severn, from Aust Passage to Clevedon, including the islands of the Denny, and of the Flat and Steep Holmes in the channel : by land it included eighteen parishes, each governed by a self-elected vestry, and the precincts of the castle; also, for judicial purposes, parts of the out-parishes of Clifton, Bedminster, and St. Philip and Jacob, contiguous to the dock company's works, the whole containing a population of about 65,000 souls. The remainder of the out-parishes were under the jurisdiction of their several counties of Somerset and Gloucester, and contain, in the immediate suburbs of the city, a population of about 40,000, comprised within five parishes, and principally consisting of the poorer classes
The governing body of the corporation, commencing with the 1st of January, in the present year (1836), consists of 48 councillors, annually elected by the rated inhabitants, and of 16 aldermen, and a mayor : the city is divided into 10 wards. The jurisdiction is extended over the whole of the suburbs included within the parliamentary borough, which embraces the whole of the out-parishes, except some inconsiderable parts of Bedminster and Westbury, more closely connected with the county than the city. The government of the poor of the in-parishes is vested in a corporation, under 3rd of George IV, cap. 24, but first created by 7 and 8 of William III, cap. 32, consisting of 13 members of the municipal body (late the mayor and aldermen), the 18 senior churchwardens of the 18 parishes, the overseer of the precinct of the castle, and 48 persons elected by the rate payers of the old 12 city wards, 4 to each. The corporation possess two workhouses, one within the city, anciently the mint, but purchased for the use of the poor in 1698, and principally used for the meetings of the corporation, and as an infirmary ; the other, properly the workhouse, a large building on the Gloucester road, purchased in 1831 of the government, by whom it had previously been used as a military depot, and subsequently made part of the city of Bristol by act of parliament. The money relief given by the corporation exceeds £17,000 per annum ; the increase of pauperism in Bristol is shown below upon an average of two periods of five years, each ending with the years specified.
1805 :- Rate, £11,630 ; In-poor, 305 ; Out-poor, 3089 ; Population, 40,814
1835 :- Rate, £31,000 ; In-poor, 597 ; Out-poor, 4662 ; Population, 59,074
The increase of pauperism at Bristol is disproportionately large, compared with that of England and Wales, and also as compared with the relative increase of the population :-
Cost of Poor
England and Wales : in 1816 £5,500,000 ; in 1832 £7,000,000 (27 percent increase)
Bristol : in 1816 £15,500 ; in 1832 £27,000 (74 percent increase)
England and Wales : 1821 census 11,977,693 ; 1831 census 13,894572 (16 percent increase)
Bristol : 1821 census 52,889 ; 1831 census 59,074 (11.69 percent increase)
To the average of £31,000 given above must be added an average of £4,000 of uncollected poor rates annually re-assessed in addition under the last act of incorporation (and separately allowed by the justices, although subsequently added to and collected with the rate) upon the entire 19 parishes and precinct.
In the out-parishes of Clifton, St. Philip and Jacob, and the district of St. James and Paul, the poor are governed by local acts ; in those of Bedminster and Westbury they are regulated under the general law. At present the entire parliamentary borough cannot contain less than 110,000 souls ; nor can the rack rental be much under £425,000, of which £200,000 may be taken to be shared by the out parishes. The pauperism of Bristol is doubtless in part owing to the decline of its trade and manufactures ; but the whole district within the boundary has suffered materially from a vicious system of management, and from laxity in collecting the rates generally. By the practice of excusing the occupants of small houses from all payment on the ground of poverty, encouragement is also given to speculative builders and small capitalists, in a neighbourhood where building materials are cheap and there is much poor waste ground, to multiply the erection of small houses. The district of St. James 'and St. Paul has escaped this evil by means of a local act, under which the landlord is rated, and which has been found to be a sufficient check. The local taxation annually assessed within the 19 city parishes and precinct, including church rates estimated at £2,000, poors rate at £31,000, compensation rate £10,000, harbour rate at £2,400, watch rate at £4,500, pitching and paving rates at £10,000, and re-assessments of the whole at £6,000, is £65,900 : this total has not averaged less than £65,000 for many years.
The constituency of Bristol return two members to parliament, and have continued to do so from 1283. Prior to the passing of the Reform Act the electoral right was in the freeholders and freemen resident and non-resident, in all 6,000, the proportion of freeholders to freemen being 1 in 7, and of non-resident to resident voters, 1 in 4. The freemen acquired the right either by birth within the walls, the father having been previously enrolled, by marriage with the daughter or widow of a freeman, by servitude to a free-man within the walls, or by purchase ; the price of enrolment in the three first cases was about £3 ; in the last the presumed value of the exemption from town dues, conferred by admission, regulated the demand ; and £300 has been asked. The average admissions of ordinary years were 50 : in the years of contested elections they averaged from 800 to 2000, and have sometimes of themselves decided an election, giving a clear majority to the candidate by whom or by whose friends the fees were paid. Contested elections under the old system sometimes involved an expenditure of from £20,000 to £30,000. The Reform Act extended the freeholders' privilege to the out-parishes, removed the abuse of non-residence and of admission to the freedom for election purposes after teste of the writ, and introduced the £10 constituency. The following is the relative proportions of each subsequent registration and polling :-
1832 : Householders 4,138 ; Freeholders 868 ; Freemen 5,309 ; Total 10,315
1833 : Householders 3,817 ; Freeholders 933 ; Freemen 5,383 ; Total 10,133
1834 : Householders 3,759 ; Freeholders 953 ; Freemen 5,388 ; Total 10,100
1835 : Householders 4,713 ; Freeholders 1,302 ; Freemen 4,332 ; Total 10,347
1832 : Householders 2,267 ; Freeholders 537 ; Freemen 4,010 ; Total 6,814
1833 : Householders 2,267 ; Freeholders 537 ; Freemen 4,010 ; Total 6,814
1834 : Householders 1,192 ; Freeholders 370 ; Freemen 3,439 ; Total 5,001
1835 : Householders 1,192 ; Freeholders 370 ; Freemen 3,439 ; Total 5,001
For municipal purposes Bristol, as already observed, is now divided into 10 wards. The number of rated properties within the boundary is 19,927, of which 10,428 are within the old city bounds ; but the municipal constituency does hot at present exceed 4,000.
The foreign trade of Bristol principally consists in imports, of sugar, rum, wine, brandy, colonial and Baltic timber, tallow, hemp, turpentine, barilla, dye-woods, fruits and, when the ports are open, wheat, and, within the year 1835, tea. In 1831 the import of foreign corn was 147,076 quarters ; in 1832, the last, 6,304 quarters. In 1834 the customs revenue for the three quarters ending Michaelmas was £762,221 ; for the three corresponding quarters of 1835 it was £889,778 ; the increase of £127,557 is attributable to the new traffic opened with China. The average import of sugar is about 30,000 hogsheads ; of tallow, 6,799 casks ; of wine, 1,615 pipes ; of rum, 2,553 puncheons ; of brandy, 115,192 gallons; and in the timber trade about 15,000 tons of shipping are engaged. The principal articles of export are iron, tin, bricks, refined sugar, glass bottles, Irish linen, and manufactured goods. The annexed table will show the comparative state of the direct foreign trade of Bristol for the last 8 years ending January 5, 1835, on the average of the 5 first and the 3 last years ending with the 5th of January of the given dates :-
1832 : Tonnage in 80,856 ; Tonnage out 52,750 ; Export value £403,881 ; Customs £1,208,184
1835 : Tonnage in 57,389 ; Tonnage out 43,788 ; Export value £203,900 ; Customs £1,078,437
Bristol derives a considerable portion of her supply of foreign produce coastwise under bond principally from London and Liverpool, but also from the minor ports of Gloucester, Newport, Bridgewater, Exeter, Barnstaple and Bideford. In the quarter ending January 5, 1835, a fair average period, Bridgewater furnished to Bristol 225 casks of foreign tallow, about 13 percent of the average import ; and during the same period 2,000 tons of foreign goods were sent round from London and Liverpool. The decline of the foreign trade of Bristol both in imports and exports, with the increased supply coastwise, is attributed to the excess of local taxation in the shape of municipal and other imposts levied upon shipping and goods, and levied almost wholly upon the foreign trade ; so that, independent of the direct effect of the tax in contracting the market by the prohibitory scale of duties which prevails, there is a premium held out for supplying the existing demand coastwise, the difference on the tax being more than sufficient to cover the extra cost of transhipments. The amounts collected average £42,000 per annum, but the pressure is to be estimated rather by what is not received than by that which is. Public attention has been very forcibly directed to this subject within the last 10 years, and considerable though inadequate reductions have been made with a corresponding good effect. The coasting trade of Bristol is very considerable, particularly with Ireland. The imports principally consist of iron, tin, coal, salt, and Irish linens and agricultural produce ; the exports, of arti-cles of foreign and colonial produce, particularly groceries, tea, wines, and spirits, and of the manufactures of the place. The total coasting tonnage engaged, on the three years average ending January 5, 1835, is :-
Outwards 293,200 tons ; including steam-vessels, 134,807 tons
Inwards 475,684 tons ; including steam vessels, 134,615
Bristol, upon the same average, takes from Ireland among other articles, 1,193 tons of butter, 97,966 quarters of grain, 1,996 tons of flour, 1,114 tons of potatoes, 3,507 sheep, 3,115 head of cattle, 109,263 pigs ; and Ireland takes in exchange from Bristol, 2,406 tons of wrought iron, 1,325 hundredweights of lea-ther, 5,790 hundredweights of raw sugar, 36,840 hundredweights of refined sugars, 59,058 lbs. of tea, and 5,509 boxes of tin plates. The coasting trade of Bristol has considerably increased within the last 10 years, the steamers put on in 1826 being very nearly in addition to the previous traffic. The advocates of reduction of local taxation ground their strongest argument on the fact that this increase has been subsequent to and consequent on the entire removal of town dues in 1824 from the coasting and Irish trades, without which the trade by steam could scarcely have had existence : the effect of this on the Irish trade may be estimated from the following figures :-
Year ending Jan. 5, 1824
10,000 tons out ; 38,709 tons in ; Export value of British goods £126,999
Average 3 years to 1835, 74,573 tons out ; 90,764 tons in ; Export value £280,000
The existing manufactures of Bristol are glass bottles, crown and flint glass, brass wire, pins, sheet lead, zinc, speltre, chain cables, anchors, machinery, drugs, colours, dyes, painted floor-cloth, earthenware, refined sugar, starch, soap, British spirits, tin, copper, and brass wares, bricks, beer, porter, pipes, tobacco, and hats. Most of these are either carried on within the city or in its immediate neighbourhood ; but the manufacturing circuit may be considered to extend six miles around, and the principal factories are those for glass, sugar, iron, brass, floor-cloth, and earthen-ware. The ability of the workers in flint glass and sugar refining has been long known but manufacturing industry in Bristol is far from being in a flourishing State, and several branches have withdrawn from the place. This, in a neighbourhood which, in addition to a ready port, furnishes a cheap and inexhaustible supply of building materials, water, coals, iron, and provisions, with great facilities of internal conveyance, is mainly to he attributed to that long, prejudicial, and impolitic excess of local taxation which even now compels the manufacturer often to send his goods round to Liverpool for exportation, in some cases to save the difference on the tax, in others because the port does not sup-ply the necessary tonnage for direct shipment.
Public Buildings, Institutions, and Companies
There are in Bristol 23 churches connected with the establishment and 36 dissenting places of worship. The churches of Bristol present some beautiful specimens of ancient English ecclesiastical architecture, the finest being the tower of St. Stephen's, celebrated for the decorated elegance of its summit : the church of St. Mary, Redcliff, of which a characteristic specimen has been already given ; and the cathedral church, anciently part of the abbey of St. Augustine, the Norman gateway of which presents one of the finest existing specimens of its style in England. The proportions of the arch are in the original somewhat destroyed by the rising of the ground, and the effect is otherwise weakened by the introduction of modern sashes.
Forty religious societies connected with the establishment and the various dissenting bodies of Bristol collect annually in furtherance of the peculiar views of their members about £10,000 : this is exclusive of schools, maintenance of places of worship, and chance collections after the Sunday services for other specific objects.
The council house is in the centre of the town, partly in Corn Street, partly in Broad Street. It was erected in 1827 at an expense of £14,000, and is a very plain but convenient building executed by Sir R. Smirke, and surmounted with a statue of Justice by Baily, a native the city ; it communicates with the justice-room, a smaller building annexed. The courts are held in the in Guildhall in Broad Street, an ancient building. The Mansion House, burnt down in 1831, has not been rebuilt. The gaol was erected of stone, west of the city, upon the new course of the river Avon, in 1816, at a cost of £60,000, under the powers of an act of parliament then obtained. It is a singular fact that the mortality is greater in the new gaol it was in the old prison : this is probably attributable to the greater degree of cold which must prevail in the present than in the former locality. The bridewell, entirely destroyed during the riots, has been rebuilt upon its old site in an enlarged and more convenient form. The principal bridge is that connecting the centre of the town with the Redcliff side of the Avon ; it is built of stone, and has 3 arches, the centre one being elliptical with a span of 55 feet, the side arches semicircular, each 40 ft. in span. A swivel bridge of iron, opened in 1827, in the place of the old drawbridge, crosses the harbour, connecting the parishes of Clifton and St. Augustine with the city ; and two iron bridges, each with one arch spanning 100 ft., cross the new course of the Avon, severally connecting the city with the Bath and Wells and Exeter roads
The docks at Bristol were commenced in 1804, under the powers of an act of parliament obtained 43 of George III, by a proprietary body, and were first opened in 1809. They were formed by digging a new course for the Avon south of the city, and by converting the whole of the old channel, from an overfall dam erected above the Bristol bridge in St. Philip's Marsh to the entrance lock at Rownham, including the branch of the Frome within the quays of St. Augustine and St. Stephen, into one floating harbour, about three miles in length. The quays thus inclose one end of the city, extending from Bristol bridge to the small stone bridge across the Frome, where that river ceases to be navigable, and thus form three sides of a parallelogram, the eastern and southern being washed by the Avon, the western by the Frome. The total extent of quay is 2000 yards ; but these limits admit of any extension along the banks of the harbour below the town which the increase of trade could require. There are two basins for the temporary accommodation of vessels entering or quitting the harbour, one at Rownham, principally used by large vessels, and containing in length between the locks 275 yards, in extreme width 147 yards : it rounds smaller towards the mouth, and empties itself through two locks into the Avon. The second basin lies south of the quay communicating with the Avon branch of the harbour, above its junction with the Frome, and emptying itself into the river Avon through a single lock, about 300 yards below the iron bridge at Bedminster : it is used by the coasting-vessels, and is about 170 yards long, and averages 80 yards of width. Previous to the construction of this harbour, vessels were suffered to take the ground, and considerable injury and delay were occasioned ; important facilities were consequently afforded to the trade of the port by these works.
The estimated expense of the docks was £300,000 ; their actual cost exceeded £600,000, which sum was made up, under the powers of four acts of parliament obtained subsequently to the institutory act, by forced calls upon the subscribers, which raised the shares from their original sum of £100 to £147 each, and by loans. The present capital of the company is £594,059, of which £268,342 is debt, bearing interest at five per cent ; the remainder of the capital is comprised in 2,209 shares, on which the maximum dividend allowed is 8 per cent. In point of fact however they were for a long time wholly unproductive, and the dividend when made seldom exceeds 2 per cent. The income of the company averages about £31,000, of which £20,000 arises from a tonnage on vessels, £7,000 from the rates on foreign goods, £2,355 (net) from an assessment of £2,400 on the property of the city parishes, and the remainder from lockages, canal rates, boat licences, and other inconsiderable sources of income. The cost of maintenance averages about £7,000. The dock rates on vessels and goods far exceed the corresponding rates at the ports of London, Liverpool, Hull, and Gloucester. The rates on goods have been recently reduced. The affairs of the dock company are managed by a directorate of 27 gentlemen, 9 of whom are chosen by the proprietors, 9 by the corporation, in whom the docks vest after payment of the debt and capital, and 9 by the Society of Merchant Venturers, an ancient guild which has outlived its original purpose.
The custom-house and excise offices, destroyed during the riots, are rebuilding on their old sites in Queen Square. The Exchange in Corn Street is a fine stone building, erected in 1740, and opened in 1743 : the cost was £50,000. It is partly let out in offices, one of the wings forming the post-office, and its rental, including that of the market behind, is about £4,000. The interior, however, a fine quad-rangle with a piazza, is open freely to, but little employed by the merchants, who prefer the commercial rooms ; and it has recently been proposed to roof the whole in, with a lantern in the centre, so as to convert the interior into town-hall. The market behind the Exchange is open daily for the sale of dairy produce, vegetables, and butcher's meat : the principal days are Wednesday and Saturday, and the supply is excellent. A similar market is held in Union Street, in the parish of St. James.
The other markets are the fish-market, a small stone building erected on the Back near Bristol bridge, in 1831, at an expense of £376 ; the rental in 1832 amounted to but £2, 7 shillings, 6 pence ; it is principally confined to the sale of oysters ; the supply of fish, which for the locality is exceedingly small, being limited almost entirely to the shops.
The Welsh market is held on the Back every Wednesday, from the 29th September to the 25th March, in a building erected far the sale of poultry, eggs, fruit, &c from the principality. The corn-market is held in the Exchange every Tuesday and Thursday.
The cheese-market is held in Wine Street, in a building devoted to the purpose : its rental is about £8 per annum. The hay-market is held every Tuesday and Friday in the open street called Broadmead. The leather-market and fellmongers' market are held, the first every Tuesday and Thursday, the second every Wednesday and Saturday, in a building called the Back Hall, in Baldwin Street.
The cattle-market, previously to February, 1830, was held in the street in the open street in the parish of St. Thomas, under charter granted 13th of Elizabeth, for the profit of the almshouse and the aqueduct there, recited then to have been in peril of extreme ruin, from the poverty of the inhabitants of St. Thomas Street, in consequence of the decline of the woollen cloth manufacture, by which they were principally sustained. The site of the new market is upon the new course of the river Avon, between the overfall dam in St. Philip's Marsh and the iron bridge which connects the city side of the river with the Bath and Wells road : it was erected under 9th of George IV at an expense of £16,600, and first opened in February, 1830. The market, which is walled in, covers four acres of ground, and may be extended over two more acres adjoining, which were subsequently purchased at an additional cost of £800. The present limits will accommodate 7,000 sheep (2,000 under cover), 5,000 pigs, 300 horses - with a trotting course 30 feet wide and 140 yards long, and upwards of 1,000 head of cattle. The market is opened every Thursday; and the supply fluctuates considerably, but the average is about - for cattle 500, sheep 3,000, pigs 400, horses 80. The tolls produce about £500 per annum.
The great market is held on the Thursday preceding Christmas Day, when the shows are generally very fine. Extra markets are also held at the two fairs, the first of which is kept in March in Avon Street, in the parish of Temple ; the second in September, in an open space of ground anciently part of the churchyard of St James's parish, and traditionally the burial place of those who had died of the plague. Of these fairs the most considerable is the last ; both commence on the 1st of the several months, and continue about eight days : they are largely frequented by the graziers and horse-dealers of the West of England and South Wales, by the clothiers of the counties of Gloucester, Somerset, and Wiltshire, and by the leather-factors of the kingdom. The sales of leather are mostly very extensive.
The commercial rooms in Clare Street were opened in 1811, having been erected under the powers of an act of parliament by a proprietary body of shareholders. The chamber of commerce, instituted in 1823, for the purpose of protecting and promoting the commercial trading, and manufacturing interests of Bristol, is supported by subscriptions of one guinea per annum. The reductions effected in 1825 in the town dues were consequent upon the exertions of this body ; of late however its labours have been of very limited utility, and are likely to be shortly altogether superseded by the legitimate guardians of the commerce of the port - the new town council. There are two gas companies at Bristol, the first, the Coal Gas Company, erected under 59th of George III, with a capital of £100,000, the second the Oil Gas Company, erected under 4th of George IV, with a capital of £30,000. By the former company the public lamps of the city are lighted : by the latter the public lamps of the adjoining parish of Clifton. The Great Western Railway Company have already commenced their line, which is to unite Bristol with the metropolis. The capital is £2,500,000. Two companies have since been formed, the first with a capital of £1,500,000, for a railway from Bristol to Exeter ; the second with a capital of £1,000,000, for continuing the line from Exeter to Plymouth and Devonport. A Bristol and Gloucestershire Railway Company already exists, with a line of 9 miles in extent, from the city of Bristol to Coal-pit Heath. It was opened 6th August, 1835, previous to which a shorter line of 3½ miles, connecting the collieries with the Kennet and Avon canal, had been in operation from the March of 1832, during which intervening period the tonnage of coals carried down to Bristol has increased on the line from less than an average of 1,000 tons per month, to an average exceeding 3,000 tons. It is intended to extend the line from Coal-Pit Heath on to Gloucester, the capital for which has been subscribed.
There are eight banking establishments in Bristol, including the branch of the Bank of England and the Savings Bank : two are on the principle of an extended proprietary, one being a branch of the Northern and central bank, the head-quarters of which are at Manchester, and the other having its head-quarters at Bristol. The latter, under the title of the West of England and South Wales District Bank, has a capital of £1,000,000, in shares of £20, and commenced business December 1835.
The Savings Bank, instituted in 1813, has a capital of £245,811, due to 6,160 depositors.
The Bristol Institution, a handsome building erected in Park Street, by shares of £25 each, is supported by annual subscriptions of two guineas. It was first opened in 1823. It has a reading-room, a small library, and a museum. The museum contains a very fine collection of ancient and modern works of art ; among them, Baily's statue of Eve at the fountain, and a complete set of casts from the Aegina marbles. It possesses a very fine cabinet of British and foreign insects, MuIler's collection of crinital remains, the originals upon which his great work on the natural history of the crinoida was founded ; of minerals about 2,000 fine characteristic specimens, arranged according to W. Phillips ; in conchology above 2,500 species ; mammalia and birds above 1,600. The collections of reptiles, in spirits, of mi-neral conchology, and of zoophytes, are exceedingly nume-rous. Several courses of lectures are annually given in the theatre of the institution, where also papers on literary and philosophical subjects are occasionally read by the members of a society associated for the purpose and annexed to the institution. In the large room of the Museum, exhibitions of pictures annually take place, under the superintendence of a local society of artists, associated for the purposes of mutual improvement in sculpture and painting. The Bristol Mechanics' Institution was founded in 1823 ; it now meets in a building erected for the purpose in Broadmead, and opened 1832. It has a lecture and reading-room, the latter open daily. The Bristol library, in King Street, founded in 1772 by 24 private gentlemen, has now 300 subscribers, each of whom pays an annual subscription of one guinea and a half, and holds a proprietary share of £10. The number of books is about 18,000 volumes, of which 2,000 belong to the city, having been left with a building, in which they were con-tained, for the use of the aldermen and shopkeepers of the town. But the corporation have granted both the books and the building to the subscribers to the library, who, in return, agree to consider the mayor, sheriffs, and chamberlain as part of its members. The Bristol Law Library, in Clare Street, possesses 495 sets of books, including complete copies of all the Reports, and the best theoretical and practical professional treatises. There is also a Medical Library, the members of which meet in a building, formerly the French Protestant Chapel, in Orchard Street, where papers on medical subjects are occasionally read.
The Bristol college was founded in 1830 by a proprietary body for the purpose of affording the youth of Bristol a scientific and classical education at a moderate charge, without quitting their homes. It is situated in Park Row, and is open to students of all religious denominations. Shortly after the opening of the college in January, 1831, a junior department was annexed to it, in which, by the due admixture of scientific with classical studies, the latter of which are not entered upon before the age of ten, and by the methods employed to cultivate the moral and so-cial qualities of the students as well as their intellectual powers, the most gratifying results have been experienced. Discipline is maintained without recourse being had in any instance to corporal punishment. The Bristol Medical School, established on its present efficient scale in 1834, is held in the Old Park near the Bristol college, and furnishes a complete course of lectures to the pupils : its character, as a school of anatomy, medicine, and chemistry, ranks very high, and the certificates of its professors are recognized at Apothecaries' Hall. There are about 30 charity schools open daily in Bristol ; and the number of Sunday schools is considerably larger. Twelve of the 30 day schools are en-dowed ; in the whole are educated about 2,000 children, and in the Sunday schools not less than 10,000. The income of the endowed schools is nearly £7,000, for which are wholly maintained, educated, and apprenticed 168 boys and 40 girls ; educated and clothed, 90 boys and 68 girls : and educated wholly, 148 boys. The income of all other schools, including that of two societies for educating young men in the ministry in the church establishment and in the Baptist connection, may he estimated at £6,000. Among the endowed schools the principal is the Free Grammar School, instituted for the purpose of educating freely all who may resort thither in "good literature." The school has two fellowships at St. John's College, Oxford, and five exhibitions at the same university, and is otherwise very liberally endowed, but under the trusteeship of the late corporation it has ceased to have a scholar.
Among the charitable institutions of Bristol the Infirmary, founded in 1735, stands pre-eminent it is a large building with accommodation for 200 in-patients, the average number of whom admitted in the year is 1,600 : the average number of out-patients is 5,000 ; all casualties are admitted on presentation at the door. The income of the institution is £7,000 per annum, of which £2,200 arises from annual subscriptions of two guineas, the remainder from funded property, legacies and donations. The Bristol General Hospital instituted in 1832 at the opposite end of the town, is a much smaller establishment, and principally remarkable for its stipendiary ward and self-supporting dispensary, to which the patients contribute a small sum ; the object being to restore that desirable feeling of independence among the poor which has certainly suffered in Bristol under the influence of its many local charities. The Dispensary, another establishment, which has two stations at separate ends of the town, visits patients at their houses to the annual number of 2,700, including about 500 midwifery cases. Its income arising from subscriptions, averages £1,000 per annum. Among other minor institutions of a similar character are two for the cure of diseases of the eyes. The one in Maudlin Lane is incorporated by Act of Parliament, and has an asylum and basket manufactory annexed : that in Frogmore Street exists entirely on voluntary contributions, and treats 1,300 patients annually, boarding some of them, at an expense of £70 only. There are besides about 40 voluntary charitable societies, which collect and distribute annually among the poor, in food, clothing, medicine, and in other forms, about £15,000. The endowed charities are estimated at £23,000, of which £6,000 consists of moneys left for the purposes of being lent out in various sums and for various terms free of interest, and £9,000 is distributed annually among the poor ; the remainder is appropriated to the maintenance of schools and other endowments. This statement does not include casual charitable collections, which sometimes extend from £5,000 to £8,000.
Bristol supports four newspapers, three of which are printed on the Saturday and one on the Thursday in each week. A quarterly journal, devoted to science and literature, is also printed at Bristol, of which four numbers have appeared.
The rocks in the immediate neighbourhood of Bristol are composed of carboniferous limestone, coal measures, and the newer red sandstone formation with the dolomitic conglomerate ; in the last formation there have recently been discovered some saurian remains, which form three new genera. The ranges of mountain limestone at St. Vincents Rocks are remarkably fine ; the coal-fields extend north and south of the city about 28 miles, but the beds are comparatively thin, as compared with those of the other coal districts of England. The rocks at Clifton supply a saline spring ; the temperature of which from the pump is 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and it then evolves free carbonic acid gas. It is principally celebrated in consumptive cases. The Hotwell House is beautifully situated beneath the rocks, looking on the river, along the banks of which a fine new carriage road leads from the well round the rocks to Clifton Down ; but a readier means of access to the village of Clifton, which is the fashionable retreat - the west end of the city - is furnished by an easy serpentine path, leading up the rocks from behind the Hotwell House. The scenery around Bristol, particularly the Clifton Hotwells, is exquisitely beautiful and the botanical features of the country highly interesting. In a catalogue recently compiled by a resident (Mr. G. H. Stephens) and printed in the West of England Journal, 375 specimens are enumerated as part of those found in the immediate neighbourhood. Many of these are of extreme rarity, and of some the habitats described are the only ones known in the country. The richest fields for the botanists are the downs, the rocks, and the woods of Leigh, on the opposite shore. The phenomena of the tides having recently attracted considerable attention, a self-registering tide gauge, contrived by Mr. Shirreff, the sub-curator of the Bristol institution, was, upon the suggestion of Professor Whewell, erected at Kingroad, about halfway between the port and the mouth of the river, and a register of the several heights of water has been since regularly kept. A series of observations has also been simultaneously made at the entrance to the Bristol docks ; and the result has been already so far satisfactory as to induce the publication of an improved set of tide tables for the port, calculated by Mr. Hunt of Bristol, in which the errors of preceding calculations, to the amount of more than 30 minutes, have been reduced to 1 in 25. The greatest difference between the height of the tide at springs and neaps, observed on the gauge during the year 1835, was between the 17th September and the 14th of May. On the former date the water rose to 48 feet, 10 inches ; on the latter to 23 feet, 4 inches. The difference between the height of the neap and spring tides, at the dock gates, is from 4 to 5 feet less than at the gauge, although the intervening distance is but four miles - a fact which very clearly shows that the supposition of the wave maintaining, the same level is clearly erroneous.