Elmington Manor Farm: 1584-1911

"Elmington Manor Farm is the best-documented farm in the Lower Severn Vale Levels, which is why James Powell chose as his topic 'The Estate Management of Elmington Manor Farm and environs 1066-1950'". From sources in "public archives, planning departments, libraries and museums" Powell looks at the earliest records of the farm, and how it survived to be surveyed by the "Second World War Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries".

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'.

Early Records of the Church Court in Bristol

The Consistory Court was established in Bristol following the creation of the bishopric and diocese in 1542. Previously the Bristol parishes north of the river Avon had been part of the diocese of Worcester, while the parishes south of the river were in the diocese of Bath and Wells. In this article, Joseph Bettey explores a neglected source for local history and genealogy in Bristol and the surrounding area: the records of the Church or Consistory Court. Proceedings of the court, including statements by witnesses, were recorded in detail, and 45 Cause Books survive starting in 1545, as well as numerous bundles of Cause Papers from 1600.Ecclesiastical jurisdiction dealt with many aspects of daily life, including disputes over wills, marriage and inheritance, offences such as heresy, immorality, drunkenness and slander, failure to attend church and misdemeanours of the clergy.

Gleanings from Wiltshire Parish Registers 1538-1812

Parish registers have long been regarded as the preserve of family historians, and, more recently, demographic historians. They should be regarded not only as bureaucratic records of the rites of passage, or sources of population data, important as these are, but also as chronicles of communal memory and experience. In this study, Steve Hobbs reveals the wide range of historical research that can be informed by the memoranda and jottings found in these sources.

The Spanish source of the name of The Malago, Bedminster

Richard Coates addresses another place-name mystery of Bristol, putting forward a number of persuasive possibilities. This article explores the exotic-sounding name of the polluted three-and-a-half-mile stream which joins the Bristol Avon from the south in Bedminster.

“The poor do not need long epitaphs”: the provenance of some West Country memorials

An epitaph may be defined as something written about the dead. Often epitaphs found on gravestones and memorials are wholly or in part some fitting quotation or poem which, from the perspective of the bereaved, seems to befit the departed. In this article, Michael Weller explores the provenance of those epitaphs found on gravestones of south west England, and the very different form of writing found on memorial plaques and the like

Reconstructing the Parish in South Western England: the 1650 Church Survey

The ecclesiastical legislation of the early 1640s is justly famous. In the space of a few short years the ancient apparatus of the episcopal Church was replaced with a Presbyterian equivalent. Bishops were removed from the Lords, whilst the Book of Common Prayer was replaced with the Directory for Public Worship. Having abolished the episcopal hierarchy, the parliamentarian state was left in possession of land, tithes and impropriate rectories across the country. Following the execution of the king in 1649, the new Republic appointed trustees to carry out a survey of the state of the church. In this article, Alex Craven provides an insight into the local parish and the relationship between the Church and State through the evidence of the Church survey.

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’.

The Transition of Taunton from ‘wicked town’ to ‘peaceable borough’

In the years after 1600 Taunton was marked by a heady mixture of radical Puritanism and the volatile wool trade. Together these pitched Taunton into the centre of the Civil War in the area and, on two occasions in the second half of the seventeenth century, into open rebellion against the government. William Gibson follows Taunton’s transition from a centre of rebellion to peaceable borough in the eighteenth century.