William Canynges (1402-1474) was one of Bristol's wealthiest merchants in the 15th Century, controlling nearly a quarter of shipping at the port of Bristol. Canynges invested a significant amount of his wealth in St Mary Redcliffe Church. He also formed a strong bond with John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, who assisted Canynges to prepare him for death. In this article, Burgess investigates William Canynges' spiritual investments in the closing years of his life and their broader social and political implications.
"Bristol, the Lower Severn Vale, the Severn Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean are all closely connected by trade. Liz Napier paints a vivid picture of port life in Tudor Bristol and the beginnings of international trade from original records".
"Wealthy Bristolians have always escaped the pressures of city life for the peace of rural South Gloucestershire. Country estates frequently changed hands as fortunes were made and lost and fashionable mansions were built with the profits of trade, including the Slave Trade. Sarah Hands has traced the story of Over Court from its medieval origins".
"The Powder House, sometimes referred to as The (Gun-)Powder Magazine, is a well-known landmark on the bank of the Avon in Shirehampton. A number of misunderstandings about its nature and history are in common circulation. In this article, using evidence which is in the public domain but not widely known,Richard Coates attempts to set the record straight".
"The trade which made Bristol prosperous was also valuable to the English government. About half the Parliamentary revenue of the Crown came from Customs duties and Bristol contributed around £50-60,000 of it, perhaps up to ten percent of the whole". Jonathan Harlow looks at smuggling through Bristol's port, and various attempts made to lessen the amount of criminal activity".
'Over the years of the slave trade Bristol's merchants learned the best combination of 'sortings' to facilitate their business in the West Indies. It was an eclectic, international collection of trade goods containing, for instance Maldive cowries, Manchester cottons, Birmingham guns, Swedish iron bars, Bristol copper and glassware, West Indian rum, Virginian tobacco and South Gloucestershire felt hats. The goods were used as customs duties and homage for the coastal kings, 'dash' payments for African middlemen, and barter for slaves'.
The General Election which followed the death of King George IV in June 1830 is generally remembered in Bristol as a contest between the two Whig candidates over slavery. There were, however, two other candidates. One of them scored the greatest political triumph of his career; the other mustered barely two dozen votes. John Stevens tells the story of these Bristol electorates and their political campaigns.
‘Shortly after midnight on 3rd October 1730, a series of brilliant 'fire balls' or hand-made grenades were seen arching through the air on St Augustine's Back, Bristol, and over the back wall of George Packer's large and opulent mansion house. There was 'a noise like the report of several guns', followed by quickly spreading flames. Within minutes, the merchant's home was ablaze, his household in full flight, and it was only a favourable wind that prevented the flames spreading to nearby warehouses and the dense flotilla of wooden ships crowding the adjacent quay.’ In this article, Steve Poole uncovers a story of organised extortion by arson at Bristol, and the ethnic and religious prejudices which it exposed.
The diary of John Bound of Sheepwash reveals a number of fascinating things. Through this source we are able to gain information not only about Bound himself, but also about the lives of the women he interacts with, as well as contemporary trade and culture in Devon. In this article, Simon Dixon highlights the inadequacies of categorising historical characters as either devout Christians or ‘ungodly reprobates’. The diary reveals a surprising overlap between those who frequented the alehouse and those who were staunch churchgoers.
St James’s fair in Bristol was a wonderful microcosm of Georgian life. The Georgians were globally aware, acquisitive and had a hearty appetite for entertainment and vice. Madge Dresser and Steve Poole explore different aspects of this social occasion; from trade and entertainment, both local and exotic, to thievery and debauchery. The fair caught the attention of moral reformers who viewed it as an arena symbolic of the cheating and corruption which they so fervently opposed.