Smuggling through customs at Bristol in 1681

"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".

The Notorious Case of James Nayler

'James Naylor's entry into Bristol in 1656, seated on an ass in imitation of Christ, together with the severity of his public punishment, has long been regarded as one of the most notorious and colourful episodes of the Civil War era. But was the punitive reaction of the city authorities a response to his political radicalism or to his religious heterodoxy? Flora Menzies takes a fresh look at the evidence'.

Captain Bishop of the…The Military Career of George Bishop

In 1668, the King's council was informed that George Bishop, 'The Grand Ringleader (or Archbishop) of the Quakers had been buried in Bristol 'attended by a more numerous company than ever I yet saw at any funeral'. If the title of 'Archbishop' was a play on his name, it was a barbed one: Quakers rejected all forms of priesthood. But Bishop was indeed famous, or infamous, as a Quaker leader, bracketed at times with George Fox. He had been especially active as a writer, and for some time maintained at Bristol the sort of secretariat and information centre for which his previous career had well qualified him. In this article, Jonothan Harlow reconstructs the story of the man who was entrusted with the responsibility of ‘discovering conspiracies against the Commonwealth’.

Criminals or Martyrs? Wiltshire Quakers and the Law in Seventeenth-Century England

The first recorded Quaker meeting in Wiltshire took place in 1653. From the very beginning, the Wiltshire Quakers were met with staunch opposition from the local authorities of law and order. It was widely believed among the ruling elite that the nonconformist nature of Quakerism would lead to widespread resistance to authority. In this article, Kay Taylor looks into the ways in which Quakerism in Wiltshire was criminalised, how the Quaker community sought to justify their practices, and the phenomenon of martyrdom.

‘A silly, ridiculous Jack in Office’: Bath’s Town Clerk and the Keppel Affair of 1779

'Admiral Keppel's trial for cowardice in 1779 made him one of the most talked-about naval figures of the age. The political ramifications of his recovery and reinstatement as a popular Whig hero are well-known; much less familiar however, is the enormous impact the affair had upon Georgian Bath. Trevor Fawcett probes the local angle'.