'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'.
In the spring of 1801, the county of Somerset was convulsed by some of the most severe and sustained food rioting ever experienced in the southwest region. Against a background of wildly spiralling prices in every basic commodity, large crowds toured the county’s mills,markets, baker's shops and farms demanding cheaper bread and forcing fair-price agreements on both producers and local magistrates. Steve Poole introduces a 200 year old letter recording tumultuous events in a small West Somerset village.