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Registering the Pilgrimage
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9. Registering the Pilgrimage

The growing importance for Bristol of trade with the American colonies had the paradoxical effect of diminishing the power of the city’s mere merchants in its economy. For decades these men had been pursuing high-profit imports—tobacco and sugar, as well as other wares—to their first markets. This process had led them from the Iberian peninsula into the Mediterranean and the Atlantic islands. With dreams of their city becoming a new Venice or a new Lisbon, they searched for the Northwest Passage to the riches of the East, only to find Newfoundland and begin their quest for wealth on American shores. But the very openness of the trans-Atlantic markets and their nearly unquenchable demand for strong backs and small wares had made most of Bristol’s old techniques of commercial regulation ineffective. The damage done to conservative aspirations was only enhanced by the turmoil of the Civil Wars and Interregnum. As a result, the merchants’ long-standing efforts to control the city through the maintenance of an exclusive organization of traders, exercising political as well as social and economic power, gave way to a new approach, one employing regulations geared to the disciplines of the market in an attempt to protect the interests of the civic elite. By increasing the transaction costs associated with the servant trade, the Bristol common councillors sought to give an advantage to those dealers who could bear them and thereby to concentrate the trade in the hands of a small number of large-scale entrepreneurs, traders whose economic behavior would be predictable. Since the export of servants was paid for through the import of sugar and tobacco, such a system of economic regulation, if it worked, would give order to the American trades in ways that the Society of Merchant Venturers desired but could no longer accomplish through its corporate powers.

By some measures the Merchant Venturers’ new strategy may be counted a success, since the servant trade, which had reached enormous heights in the 1650s and early 1660s, settled down after 1662. The average number of servants shipped annually from Bristol in the period from 1662 to 1678, the last full year for which a separately kept Register of Servants has survived, was more than 50 percent below the peak annual averages reached in the previous period (Table 29).[1] But in other respects it might seem that the project had failed, since the servant trade never became concentrated in a small number of hands. Most servant traders still limited themselves to shipping one or two servants a year. For example, in 1667–68, when four hundred and forty-nine servants left Bristol for America, two hundred and forty individuals took responsibility for their indentures; in 1677–78 ninety-four men and women took responsibility for the indentures of one hundred and forty-four servants.[2] A similar pattern can be observed in other aspects of trade as well. Leaving the Irish trade and coastal enterprise aside, seaborne traffic to and from the American colonies in the early 1670s accounted for about 45 percent of the vessels and 60 percent of the tonnage frequenting the port of Bristol. But this expansion in the colonial trades was accomplished primarily by numerous small exporters, most of them Bristolians, who still sent every variety of manufactured item along with servant labor to the planters in return for their produce, primarily sugar and tobacco. The concentration of colonial enterprise in the hands of large firms was a phenomenon primarily of the eighteenth century.[3]

29. Emigration and the English Economy, Michaelmas 1654 to Michaelmas 1678
Harvest Year Servants Wheat Prices, England (s./quarter) Wheat Prices, Exeter (s./quarter) Index of Consumer Prices Real Wages
Source: The symbols for harvest years, and the wheat prices, are derived from W. G. Hoskins, “Harvest Fluctuations and English Economic History, 1620–1759,” Agricultural History Review 16 (1968): 15–31: * = Harvest deficient or bad in West only; ** = Harvest generally bad, but average in the West; *** = Harvest generally deficient or bad. Servant data from Bristol Record Office, MSS 04220 (1–2). Price index data from E. H. Phelps-Brown and Sheila V. Hopkins, “Seven Centuries of the Prices of Consumables, Compared with Builders’ Wage-Rates,” in E. M. Carus-Wilson, ed., Essays in Economic History, 3 vols. (London: Edward Arnold, 1954–1962), vol. 2, p. 195. Wage data from E. A. Wrigley and R. S. Schofield, The Population History of England, 1541–1871: A Reconstruction (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 693. These figures are derived from those provided by Phelps-Brown and Hopkins, “Seven Centuries of the Prices of Consumables,” p. 195.
A. 1654–55 228 21.04 26.41 531 565
1655–56 318 35.13 44.56 559 537
1656–57* 538 36.77 44.84 612 490
1657–58*** 727 44.43 47.78 646 464
1658–59** 884 50.13 43.66 700 429
1659–60*** 667 47.42 45.50 684 439
1660–61*** 822 48.30 50.78 648 463
1661–62*** 805 64.04 58.37 769 390
   Total A 4,989        
   Annual average 624        
B. 1662–63 471 41.30 42.16 675 444
1663–64 266 41.61 39.50 657 457
1664–65 212 35.93 36.76 616 487
1665–66 227 32.25 34.94 664 452
1666–67 379 25.13 30.16 577 520
1667–68 449 27.53 29.32 602 498
1668–69* 417 35.43 45.07 572 524
1669–70 362 32.83 41.16 577 520
   Total B 2,783        
   Annual average 348        
C. 1670–71 299 33.72 35.15 595 504
1671–72 206 31.08 31.17 557 539
1672–73 142 32.48 34.19 585 513
1673–74*** 281 49.57 54.77 650 462
1674–75*** 445 47.79 52.11 691 434
1675–76 263 32.02 30.69 652 460
1676–77 216 27.26 30.77 592 509
1677–78 144 38.94 43.20 633 478
   Total C 1,996        
   Annual average 250        
     Total A–C 9,768        
     Annual average 407        
1654–1662 / (significance level) +.87 (.01) +.72 (.05) +.87 (.01) -.91 (.01)
1662–1678 / (significance level) +.13 (N.S.) +.25 (N.S.) +.16 (N.S.) -.07 (N.S.)
1654–1678 / (significance level) +.68 (.001) +.60 (.01) +.49 (.02) -.58 (.01)

The above conclusions assume, in part, that the Register of Servants offers a consistently accurate record of the scale and structure of the servant trade over the full life of the registration scheme. But perhaps this premise is mistaken. In order for the Register to provide us with a trustworthy tally of the movement of servants to the colonies, the Bristol magistrates would have had to maintain efficient enforcement of the law over a long interval, something they could rarely accomplish even when the policy being enforced was not controversial. Given the political emotions behind the scheme, the policy is all the more unlikely to have been carried out with a steady hand. Can we turn this possible shortcoming for economic history to the advantage of the story we have been telling? Since the Register was created as a weapon of war in a period of political turmoil, did political considerations affect—even distort—the data we can derive from this source? The main targets of the original ordinance, as we know, were the Bristol radicals who had come to play a large role in the increasingly important colonial trades. After the Restoration, they were an even greater source of concern to the local authorities than they had been under the Protectorate. In this chapter we shall use the Register to provide clues to the history of political conflict and revenge in Bristol we have been following.

The Bristol Register presents evidence of an anomaly in the statistics of the servant trade. The number of servants leaving the port was relatively low in 1654 and 1655, then rose steadily through the later 1650s and early 1660s, only to drop off during the summer and fall of 1663, never again to recover the old peak. The largest number to leave in a single year, measured from Michaelmas to Michaelmas, was over eight hundred, but after the fall of 1662 the totals exceed four hundred only four times and never exceed five hundred (see Table 29).[4] Calendar-year totals show the same pattern as those for harvest years (Table 30). When measured against the best available estimates of total migration to the colonies, these figures seem rather puzzling. Between 1654 and 1662, for example, Bristol’s share of average annual emigration from the British Isles to America may have been as high as 9.6 percent. But from 1662 to 1669, the city’s share appears to have dropped to 8.1 percent, and by the 1670s it seems to have amounted to no more than 5.0 percent. Yet Bristol’s involvement in trans-Atlantic commerce became, if anything, even stronger in these years than it had been in the 1650s. We would expect it to have maintained its share of the servant trade or at least to have experienced a less precipitous decline.[5] The relation of servant enrollments in Bristol to English population trends also points to another puzzle. In the years from 1655 to 1662, emigration from the city was closely correlated to net migration from England. After 1662 there is no longer any correlation between the figures for Bristol and those for the country as a whole.[6] Was there in fact an abrupt change in the nature of the servant trade after 1662, or are we observing an artifact of the registration system itself? Why did it cease working uniformly and effectively in the period after 1662?

30. Emigration and Tobacco Prices, 1655-1678
    Servants to the Chesapeake[a]    
Calendar Year Total No.
of Servants
1 2 3 4 Farm Price
of Tobacco
Source: Servant data are from Bristol Record Office, MSS 04220 (1–20); tobacco prices, given in pence sterling per pound of tobacco, are from Russell Menard, “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies,” Working Papers from the Regional Economic History Research Center 1, no. 3 (1978): 158–59. The figures for 1654 to 1658 are Virginia prices; thereafter they are Maryland prices.
(1654) 2.65
A. 1655 267 112 112 113 113 2.30
1656 336 70 110 123 117 2.20
1657 616 58 115 165 140 2.40
1658 779 103 188 210 199 1.90
1659 903 99 266 305 286 1.65[b]
1660 603 76 181 170 176 1.50[b]
1661 723 89 349 338 344 1.50
1662 836 374 506 501 503 1.60[b]
    Total A 5,063 981 1,827 1,925 1,878  
    Annual average 633 123 228 241 235  
B. 1663 397 158 159 159 159 1.55[b]
1664 251 121 121 121 121 1.35
1665 309 242 244 243 244 1.10
1666 332 257 257 257 257 0.90
1667 355 222 222 222 222 1.10
1668 402 291 291 291 291 1.25
1669 344 201 201 201 201 1.15
1670 334 168 172 172 172 1.15[b]
    Total B 2,724 1,660 1,667 1,666 1,667  
    Annual average 341 208 208 208 208  
C. 1671 284 152 152 152 152 1.05
1672 255 208 208 209 209 1.00
1673 93 69 69 69 69 1.00
1674 369 194 194 197 196 1.00
1675 395 294 294 295 295 1.00
1676 223 171 172 172 172 1.05
1677 202 129 129 129 129 1.15
1678 177 138 138 138 138 1.15
    Total C 1,998 1,355 1,356 1,361 1,360  
    Annual average 250 169 170 170 170  
       Total A–C 9,785 3,996 4,850 4,952 4,905  
       Annual average 408 167 202 206 204  
1655–1662 / (significance level) -.72 (.05) -.66 (.10) -.69 (.10)  
  Time lag [c] / (significance level) -.78 (.05) -.75 (.05) -.77 (.05)  
1663–1678 / (significance level) +.12 (N.S.) -.23 (N.S.) -.23 (N.S.)  
  Time lag [c] / (significance level) -.20 (N.S.) -.20 (N.S.) -.20 (N.S.)  
1655–1678 / (significance level) -.03 (N.S.) -.02 (N.S.) -.03 (N.S.)  
  Time lag [c] / (significance level) -.17 (N.S.) -.10 (N.S.) -.14 (N.S.)  
1659–1678 [d] / (significance level) +.40 (.10) +.42 (.10) +.41 (.10)  
  Time lag (1660–1678)[d] / (significance level) +.23 (N.S.) +.21 (N.S.) +.22 (N.S.)  

In recent years we have come to know a good deal about the overall pattern of migration from England in the seventeenth century. The peak years of this migration were the 1650s, when perhaps as many as seventy-two hundred individuals, many of them servants, went each year from England and Wales to the American colonies. In the decades thereafter, the pace slackened to between 60 and 70 percent of this total.[7] A number of explanations have been presented for this course of development. Mildred Campbell has argued that decayed conditions in the clothmaking districts of the West Country and economic pressures on West Country leaseholders at renewal of their tenures account for much of the emigration of the 1650s and that religious persecution of the Quakers may also have been important in the later 1650s and early 1660s. Wesley Frank Craven has added to this list the harvest failures of 1657 to 1661, which, he argues, drove many of the hungry to migrate. His reading of the evidence suggests that improved conditions after 1662 account for the drop in servant registrations at Bristol. Other hypotheses have appeared. Some scholars, for example, point to rising real wages in England and the increased demand for labor caused by the rebuilding of London after the great fire. In addition, changes in the colonies, such as the introduction of black slavery in the sugar plantations and the falling prices of tobacco, have been suggested. To this we might add the effects of war with the Dutch.[8] How do these explanations square with what we have learned about Bristol?

Seventeenth-century emigration was of course a highly complex social phenomenon. Each year hundreds of men and women of assorted ages and backgrounds left Bristol for a variety of overseas plantations. Some undoubtedly felt conditions at home to be pushing them abroad, while others almost as certainly found the opportunities for a new life in the colonies calling them forth. Many probably responded to pressures of both kinds. We can hardly expect a single explanation to account completely for their movement. In a sense, history has presented us with too many explanations. Not all of them are testable with the surviving data. For example, we shall probably never know enough about the West Country land market to assess whether the renewal rate for West Country leases corresponds in any way to the rate at which migrants from this region headed for America. However, a quick examination of the evidence we do have calls in doubt a few proposed hypotheses, at least as they might apply to Bristol.

Take the case of the trade in slaves, which competed with the servant trade in supplying agricultural labor to the American colonies. At first glance, the grant in January 1663 of a new charter to the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa might seem to explain the precipitous decline in the enrollment of servants at Bristol during this year, especially to Barbados, where the Africa company made most of its slave shipments. But Bristol’s servant trade operated independently of this competition. During the 1650s and early 1660s it exported large numbers of servants to Barbados, even though slaves were already in heavy use there. There is no reason to think that the Africa company’s activities in the island changed the situation enough to explain the decline in the servant figures. Since the fall in the number of servant enrollments after 1662 also affected Bristol’s traffic to Virginia, where the demand for slaves did not yet match that in the West Indies, some other factor must have been at work limiting the market.[9] As regards the role of war in disrupting Bristol’s servant trade, the timing seems to be somewhat off. Although warfare with the Dutch certainly affected English enterprise in American waters, the Second Dutch War began only in March 1665, albeit after a year of earnest preparations. The decline in servant enrollments in Bristol had already set in more than a year before the talk of war with the Dutch had become serious.[10] Again we are driven to look for further explanations.

Many of the proposed economic explanations, taken individually, seem plausible enough in accounting for the general pattern of change in the servant trade during the second half of the seventeenth century. Undoubtedly, the state of food prices and real wages in England and Wales and of tobacco and sugar prices in the international market affected the numbers of servants indentured and shipped from England and Wales to the colonies during this period. Yet when we trace the history of any particular causal factor in relation to Bristol’s own servant trade, we find that its effects vary widely from period to period. For example, if we lay out our data from Michaelmas to Michaelmas, the state of the harvest is significantly correlated with emigration. This result is almost entirely a consequence of famine conditions during the first eight years of the registration. During these years, the annual peak of servant registrations, which always occurred in the summer and early fall, appears especially high, just as we would expect if food shortages were driving the emigration.[11] But for the period after 1662 the pattern does not hold. The correlation of enrollment with wheat prices breaks down completely: emigration rates appear relatively high in some bad years and relatively low in others. Indeed, 1667–68, with its low grain prices, yields the highest emigration figures for the period following 1662–63 (see Table 29), a fact made all the more puzzling by the increased demand for labor in London that is said to have begun in this year.[12] One possible explanation for this uneven effect of grain prices on emigration may lie in the character of the food market, which had changed after the Restoration, when substitutes for wheat became more widely used. It has been argued that this change diminished the threat of famine in England and thus reduced the effect of high wheat prices upon population trends.[13] Use of the Phelps-Brown/Hopkins index of consumer prices, based on a wide variety of foods and other commodities, permits a test of this hypothesis, even though the data are drawn primarily from the southeast of England. The results are almost exactly the same as those obtained using wheat prices alone. There is a strong and significant positive correlation, but it is heavily dependent on the results for the first eight years of the series; this relationship disappears after 1662 (see Table 29).[14]

Food prices alone, however, tell us little about the economic pressures on population in periods without famine, since a rise in food prices may be matched by a corresponding increase in wages. To correct for this limitation we can look at real wages. These were on the increase in the later seventeenth century, as population growth leveled and then entered a thirty-year period of stagnation or even decline.[15] This change has been used by historians not only to explain the slackening pace of emigration to the colonies but even to account for the shift from indentured servitude to slavery as the preferred labor system in some of them.[16] However, comparison of our Bristol data with real wages yields almost exactly the same results as before. Once again, a strong and significant correlation appears for the years up to Michaelmas 1662, though this time a negative one, but after 1662 the relationship no longer seems meaningful.

If economic conditions in England cannot account for the pattern of servant migration from Bristol after 1662, perhaps economic conditions in the colonies can. Although we know that in general sugar prices fell during the later seventeenth century, no reliable series of them exists against which to test our data. We are somewhat better off for the tobacco trade with the Chesapeake, for which it has been shown that the number of new servants indentured in this region each year rose and fell with the farm price of tobacco.[17] But the same direct relationship does not appear to hold for the registration of indentures at Bristol, even if we allow a year’s time for the news of changing prices to reach the city (see Table 30). In fact, Bristol’s trade in servants to Virginia and Maryland appears at times to contradict the price trends. In the late 1650s and early 1660s, emigration rose at a steady pace despite falling prices; the correlation is a negative one. The years after 1662 witnessed something of the same confused relationship between emigration and prices. According to Russell Menard, the period from 1665 to 1667 was among the worst for the Chesapeake tobacco industry in the century, yet Bristol’s shipments of servants to the region recovered in these years from the low figures of 1663 and 1664.[18] When tobacco prices rose between 1668 and 1671, however, Bristol’s recorded shipment of servants dropped. In the following decade the arrival of new servants in the Chesapeake was disrupted by the Third Dutch War, but recovery is said to have begun in 1674, rising to a peak in 1678 or 1679.[19] Bristol’s recorded shipments fall significantly only in 1673, and they rise to a peak in 1675, on stagnant tobacco prices. With more buoyant prices, the export of servants from the city appears to have fallen to about 45 percent of the level in 1675.

Of course, we are working with a rather blunt instrument, one based only on scattered prices primarily from Maryland, which did not receive the majority of Bristol’s servant exports. Still, this evidence, taken together with our examination of the effects of the Africa company’s new charter, the coming of the Dutch War, and domestic prices and wages on emigration, makes it hard to escape the conclusion that after 1662 some intervening factor, not already accounted for, affected the number of servants registered from year to year. Up to that year the servant trade followed a steady course in which the impetus of hard times in England overcame the effects of poor commodity prices in the colonies to produce a pattern of enrollments in the Bristol Register explicable in economic terms. Even though there must have been considerable underregistration in these years, what there was appears to have occurred at an even rate, with enrollments closely following the rhythms of migration itself. As a result, the figures we have derived for the period from 1654 to 1662 give us a reliable idea of the secular trend in the trade, though probably not of its true volume. After 1662, however, the administration of the Register seems much more haphazard, with the numbers of enrollments rising and falling in an erratic fashion.

If economics alone cannot explain the patterns revealed by the Bristol Register, can politics provide a further understanding? Did the registration of servants respond to the rhythms of politics as well as to the ebb and flow of economic or demographic trends? For example, does the persecution of the Quakers and their despair over religious conditions in England account in part for the large numbers of emigrants in the late 1650s and early 1660s?[20] There can be no doubt, of course, that the Chesapeake and the West Indies had significant Quaker communities in the mid-seventeenth century and that Bristol was a way station for them and for other sectaries on their pilgrimages to the New World.[21] Bristol’s Quakers, many of them heavily engaged in colonial trade, certainly did not shy away from helping their fellows on both sides of the Atlantic. George Bishop acted as such a conduit for emigrant Friends in 1656, continuing a tradition among the Bristol sectaries that went back to the earliest days of colonial migration.[22]

The role of persecution in accounting for this movement during the 1650s, however, cannot be demonstrated so readily. Between 1654 and 1656, only twenty-one Bristol Quakers were actually imprisoned for their religious activities, although there were several serious riots and warrants were issued in the city for the arrest of John Camm, John Audland, George Fox, James Nayler, and Edward Burrough as members of “the Franciscan Order in Rome.” Moreover, the Bristol Quakers carefully disassociated themselves from the James Naylor affair in 1656 and as a result suffered little serious trouble with the authorities in the aftermath of this scandal.[23] Although the Quakers themselves complained loudly of persecution in Bristol in these years, the pattern seems much the same in other prominent Quaker strongholds. In London and Middlesex, for example, there were clashes between the Friends and their opponents, but no systematic persecutions.[24] For all the upheavals caused by the Quakers in the mid-1650s, it appears that they enjoyed a degree of religious toleration from the authorities, even if they were subject to periodic attacks from their religious enemies and to regulation of their nonreligious activities.

The same could not be said, however, for the early 1660s. As the decade began even James Powell, no friend to the Quakers, could see the signs of a terrible change about to wreck the delicate balance that had been reached in the 1650s. Just before the king’s return in 1660 Powell wrote to acquaint John Weaver of the Council of State “in what sad state and condition we are fallen unto.”

How the old good cause is now sunke and a horrid Spirit of Prophanenes Malignity and revenge is risen vp Trampling on all those that have the face of godlinesse and have been in ye Parliament party insomuch that if the Lord doe not interpose I doubt [not] a Massacre will follow on the godly. And the very name of fanaticke shall be sufficient to ruine any sober Christian as the name of Christian amongst the Heathens Lollards amongst the Papists and Puritan of Late amongst the Prelaticks.…The Lord prepare us for the great storm that is approaching.[25]

Even before the Restoration, the sectaries, especially the Quakers, became targets of violent apprentice riots encouraged by many of their masters.[26] With the return of the monarchy, the persecution took on an official character and proceeded with depressing regularity through the decade. As Edward Terrill of Bristol’s Broadmead Baptist Church reported when the Second Conventicle Act came into force in 1670, this “trouble was our seventh Persecution in Bristoll, since K. Charles II returned.” He noted persecutions in 1660, 1661, 1662, 1663, 1664, and 1666, as well as in 1670.[27]

These persecutions sprang from a variety of motives, ranging from a wish for revenge against Commonwealthmen to a desire to suppress all heterodox religious practices. But one recurring theme was fear of the sectaries as a source of disorder or even insurrection.[28] In 1660, for example, Richard Ellsworth, one of Bristol’s most ardent scourgers of dissent, urged the imprisonment of those who refused the oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, noting

[t]hat noe Quaker or rarely any Anabaptist, will take those Oathes, soe that the said Oathes are refused by many hundreds of those Judgments, being persons of very dangerous principalls, & euer Enimies (in this City) to his Majestie’s royall person, gouernment, & restauration, & some of them, petitioners to bringe His Martired Majestie of blessed Memory to his Triall; & will vndoubtedly fly out againe, & kicke vpp the heele against his Soueraigne Authority, should it lie in theire Power.[29]

The large public meetings favored by the sectaries were one source of this fear, for throngs, often composed of strangers as well as citizens, gathered at them. As Ellsworth says,

These…Monsters of Men with uss, are very, yea more Numerous, then in all the West of England…on this side [of ] London; & heere they all Confer, & haue Their Meetings, att all seasons till 9 of the clock att night, & later, sometymes aboue 1000, or 1200 att a tyme, to the greate affrighting of this City, as to what wilbe the Consequent thereof, If not restrained.[30]

At Bristol, moreover, the existence of the two fairs, at St. Paul’s tide in January and at St. James’s tide in July, only made matters worse; for these were not only great clearinghouses for trade but gathering places for the sectaries, many of whom, of course, were traders themselves.[31] At the same time, the city was well recognized by the authorities as a center vital to the control of the West, for, as a Somerset gentleman observed in 1663, it was “one of the most Considerable Townes vnder his Majesty’s subiection, beeing a good Port, and furnished with a well stored Magazine of Wealth & all ammunitions of warre, and able to secure themselves and give assistance to the neighbouring Countrys.”[32]

Not surprisingly, the authorities at Bristol displayed a marked skittishness at the first hint of danger.[33] Reacting perhaps to news of Venner’s Fifth Monarchy plot in London, they struck at once in January 1661, when Henry Roe, the Quaker ironmonger, and Samuel Clarke, the Baptist merchant, both former Cromwellian soldiers, were found to have large trading stocks of powder and shot in their cellars. These stocks, of course, were primarily to supply merchant vessels with the arms they needed on the high seas. Nevertheless, the ammunition was confiscated, and the magistrates in their zeal shut the city gates against impending insurrection.[34] Similar rumors of insurrection abounded in this period, forcing the civic authorities repeatedly into a posture of defense. The city gates had to be guarded again in November 1661, when wild stories of a fanatic uprising spread through the West, though these precautions were soon left off on “hearinge ye designe was quasshed.”[35] At the time of the St. James Fair of 1662, new rumors of trouble surfaced but could not be confirmed; still, the Trained Bands had to be called to keep watch over the fair-goers.[36] In the fall rumors spread again, and the deputy lieutenants resolved to raise part of the militia and to secure all suspected persons.[37] By December this vigilance had turned up evidence of what the deputy lieutenants called a “very dangerous” design to begin at Whitehall on 1 January and spread throughout the realm. Six or seven hundred persons were said to be engaged around Bristol alone, requiring “the speedy raising of the Militia for the safety” of the city.[38]

These conditions demanded vigilance from the authorities both against sectarian meetings and against the wanderings of vagrants and other masterless men, two issues closely connected in national politics from the outset of the Restoration, if not before.[39] Fear of sectarian vagabondage seemed to take precedence, partly to halt the work of the Quaker missionaries and partly to prevent the mass gatherings which caused such apprehension. For example, the very first day of business in the Convention Parliament saw a bill “against Vagrants, and wandering idle, dissolute persons,” which, having failed of passage in 1660, was entered again on the first day of business in the Cavalier Parliament and incorporated in part in the Quaker Act of 1662.[40] Moreover, this linkage of issues prevailed in Parliament even after the passage of the Quaker Act. It is no surprise, perhaps, that many of the MPs involved in the passage of the Act of Settlement in 1662 were also interested in the attack on the sects.[41]

Among these MPs we find John Knight, Senior, one of the members for Bristol. Not only did he work as a committeeman on the Act of Settlement and on later measures to explain and expand it, but he was similarly engaged in the Commons work on the Conventicle Act, and he is even said to have wept for joy on receiving news of its passage.[42] In Bristol this combination of issues had a special local flavor, conditioned by the city’s prominence both as a commercial center and as a sectarian stronghold. As we have seen, in the 1650s politics had already been penetrated by a mixture of religious and economic rivalries. Many of the old issues flared with new force at the Restoration. With Charles II’s return, the Smiths, the Bakers, the Barber-Surgeons, and the Shoemakers all complained that those not free of their gilds took apprentices and practiced their crafts outside gild regulations. As a result, the mayor and aldermen ordered the city clerks in each case to refrain from registering any apprentice in these crafts without the certificate of the master of each gild, and in 1667 the Common Council passed a comprehensive ordinance on the matter.[43] In these same years the Merchant Venturers made yet another try to halt the “interloping of Artificers & others…tradeing into forreigne parts, not haveing beene bounde Apprentices to ye Art & mistery.”[44] At the Restoration, the civic authorities turned their attention to the colonial trades, appointing as water bailiff John Towgood, son of a prebend in the Bristol Cathedral, and an enemy of the sectaries.[45] From early in 1660 evidence appears in the city of careful searches aboard ships for unindentured servants, and in Parliament in 1662 John Knight became engaged in an attempt to legislate against the stealing of children and servants.[46] When his efforts failed, Nathaniel Cale, mayor in 1662–63, petitioned the Crown, apparently without success, for letters patent to bolster his authority to enforce the procedures established in 1654.[47] The search for settlement at the Restoration revived with even greater force the heady mixture of religion, politics, and economics already present at the creation of the Bristol Register.

Although the scourging of the sects in England might well have encouraged some dissenters to seek relief in the colonies,[48] at the Restoration these places had become almost as incommodious for nonconformists as England itself. In Barbados, for example, official objections to the Quakers and other separatists began within weeks of Charles II’s return to the throne, and by the spring the Assembly of Barbados complained that the island’s many sectaries

have declared an absolute Dislike to the Government of the Church of England as well by their Aversion and utter Neglect or Refusal of the Prayers, Sermons and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ordinances thereof…as by holding Conventicles in private Houses and other places, scandalizing Ministers, and endeavouring to seduce others in their erroneous Opinions, upon Pretence of an alteration of Church-Government in England. All which their Misdemeanours have begotten many Distractions, a great Reproach and Disparagement to the Church and Ministry, and Disturbances of the Government of this Island.[49]

In response to an order from the Council of Foreign Plantations to settle religion, the legislature required all residents of the island to conform themselves to English law governing the practice of the Anglican church.[50] As a result, at least thirty-six of the island’s Quakers were imprisoned for their meetings and their subsequent refusals to take the oath of allegiance to the king.[51] During these same years the sectaries in Maryland, Nevis, Antigua, and other American plantations also suffered persecutions.[52]

Probably the most significant attacks on religious dissent, however, occurred in Virginia. Events there demand a close look, since the Bristol Register shows this colony to have experienced the greatest decline in the number of enrolled servants after 1662. Action against the sectaries in Virginia began even before the Restoration itself. In March 1660, at the same time as the Quakers in Bristol were being threatened by the city’s apprentices, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation forbidding ships’ captains from bringing Quakers to the colony and ordered the suppression of Quaker publications, the punishment of those who held conventicles, and the arrest and deportation of all Quakers already there.[53] But the colony remained interested in attracting new population and seems not to have enforced this measure vigorously; in any case the legislation did not stem the tide of Quaker migration. With the Restoration a somewhat less harsh approach was tried for a time, using fines and other punishments short of outright banishment.[54]

By the winter of 1661, the Virginia General Assembly had taken its first tentative steps to settle the church.[55] A year later, more comprehensive legislation appeared arranging church finances, subjecting all nonconformists to heavy fines for failing to attend the services of the established church in the colony—now fully restored in Anglican practice—and specially punishing the Quakers “for assembling in unlawful assemblies and conventicles.”[56] In December 1662 the General Assembly extended this policy of intolerance by ordering the punishment of all those who refused to have their children baptized, a direct confrontation with all the sects.[57] These measures were given teeth by vigorous enforcement, for in 1662 it was reported that many of the Virginia Quakers were imprisoned or even banished because they would not aid the established church, promise to abstain from their own meetings, or swear oaths.[58]

The climax of this process of persecution came in 1663. September saw the passage of an act against the “Quakers and any other separatists” that signaled a renewed desire to destroy the sects. The Virginia General Assembly, liberally plagiarizing the English Parliament’s Quaker Act of 1662 and anticipating the language of the English Conventicle Act of 1664, called the nonconformists a threat to “public peace and safety” and “a terror to the people.” It forbade all conventicles and again subjected all ships’ captains to heavy fines for transporting Quakers to the colony.[59] This measure put the final touches on an anti-sectarian code in Virginia almost as strict as the Clarendon Code taking shape in England itself. Moreover, at about the same time, news came of a “barbarous designe” of what Robert Beverley called “several muntinous and rebellious Oliverian Soldiers, that were sent thither as Servants,” who, “depending upon discontented People of all sorts, form’d a villanous Plot to destroy their Masters, and afterwards to set up for themselves.” This event caused an immediate shock in the colony. The militia was called at once, the plot thwarted, and arrests made. Even after the execution of the leaders, fear of its nearly successful “subversion of…religion lawes libertyes, rights and proprietyes” lingered in memory, and as late as 1670 the colony enforced an act to keep 13 September, the day of the plot, “holy” and “in perpetual commemoration.”[60]

As a result, Virginia in 1663 and 1664 was not an especially congenial place for the sectaries. Persecutions were harsh and, according to Beverley, made many of the nonconformists “flie to other Colonies, and prevented abundance of others from going over to seat themselves among ’em.”[61] It is possible that the sharp decline in servant enrollments in Bristol in the summer of 1663 and after owes something to this history. Virginia nevertheless continued to draw some dissenters to it even in the years after 1663, since the anti-Quaker legislation of the 1660s was used only against those Quakers who engaged in controversy; others remained free as long as they lived peaceably in the colony.[62]

In Bristol, as in Virginia, the chronology of persecutions also made 1663 and 1664 an especially dangerous period for the sectaries. Despite the Declaration of Indulgence of 1662, throughout the winter and early spring of 1663 there was considerable uneasiness about an impending insurrection in England, particularly in the West.[63] By the end of May word had come of a major plot set in Ireland for taking Dublin Castle in which, as the king reported in a speech before the Commons, “many parliament men were engaged.” “You will not doubt,” he said, “but that those seditious persons there had a correspondence with their friends here.”[64] And although this conspiracy had been nipped in the bud, evidence of further plots in England began to appear.[65] The threat to Dublin Castle, moreover, drew Bristol into the center of these affairs. Not only was the city the major English port for travel to and from Ireland, but some of the conspirators, such as Captain John Gregory and John Casbeard, who had been uncovered earlier by the city’s magistrates, appeared to be deeply involved in the Irish matter.[66]

As the year went on conditions seemed to worsen. In July, news of the Derwentdale plot broke in Yorkshire,[67] and the king issued orders to the justices of assize to “prevent and punish the scandalous and seditious Meetings of Sectaries.” In addition, he asked the members about to return home at the proroguing of Parliament to use their vigilance and authority in their counties to prevent disturbances by “the restless spirits of ill and unquiet men,” securing their persons if need be.[68] At the same time, a new militia act came into force, authorizing the lieutenants and their deputies to call up contingents of the Trained Bands for fourteen-day intervals, a course followed in many places in the north and west.[69] Although no direct evidence of Bristol’s reaction to these events in the summer of 1663 has survived, careful precautions by the commanders of the militia, similar to those taken in the previous year, would have been in order as the time of the St. James Fair approached in July. Early in September, the king and queen journeyed to Bath and Bristol, only to be met by sectarian disturbances in the region, for which Charles Baily, the Bristol Quaker, was among those arrested.[70] Finally, in October definite word came of a plot set especially in the western counties, in which Bristol was to have been one of the principal targets.[71] On receiving word from the Privy Council, two companies of foot soldiers were immediately put on guard, and the following day the whole regiment was mustered. Sir John Knight, the new mayor, whom we have already met as one of Bristol’s MPs, quickly took the opportunity to “putt in Execution his Majesties pleasure against the Sectaries in this Citty & theire seditious meetings.”[72]

Knight’s entrance into the mayoralty at Michaelmas 1663 began one of the most violent periods of religious persecution in Bristol’s history. Even before news of the plot reached him in mid-October, he was already at work suppressing the sects, arresting Thomas Ewins and other Baptists and threatening the Quakers.[73] By the end of November he had begun a series of attacks on sectarian meetings designed to procure, as reported by the Quakers, “the rooting of us, and the generation of us, out of this City.”[74] Over a four-week period he and the deputy lieutenants repeatedly disrupted the Quaker meetings, closed the meeting house, and arrested the sect’s leaders and imprisoned them.[75] On Christmas Day these attacks reached a level of genuine barbarity when three Quaker servants at work in their masters’ shops were caught by members of the militia, “tied Neck and Heels with half hundred Weights and Muskets about their Necks, in extreme cold Weather, till the Eyes of two of them were thought to be drawing out, their Faces being black.”[76]

The remainder of Knight’s year in office proceeded in much the same vein. From Christmas on, he and his officers repeatedly interrupted Quaker meetings, made arrests, and at one point even had the meetinghouse door nailed shut. In February Knight, joined by two aldermen, one of the sheriffs, and “sundry officers,” broke up a meeting of three hundred at Samuel Tovey’s house in Broadmead and arrested and imprisoned eighty men and women.[77] When January brought word of another plot of the “fanaticks” to surprise Bristol, the civic authorities again struck at the Quakers, this time arresting fifteen of them for unlawful assembly.[78] Yet all of this was but a prelude to the outburst of persecutions that occurred when the Conventicle Act came into force at the beginning of July. On the first Sunday in the month, Knight and two aldermen came to the Quaker meetinghouse and opened a court for the judgment of the violators of the act. On this day alone, one hundred and seventy persons were fined for a first offense under the statute.[79] During the following weeks Knight returned again and again to the Quakers to close down their meetings and to arrest their membership. In all, he succeeded in convicting two hundred and nineteen for a first offense, a further one hundred and five for a second offense, and twenty-three more for a third offense, a dozen of whom were sentenced to banishment in the West Indies. When he left office, one hundred and forty-five Quakers remained in prison under the act. Moreover, the new legislation placed other dissenting sects in the same jeopardy as the Quakers. The Bristol Baptists also found themselves targets for arrest and conviction and “were forced to…meet more Privately” and “to move from house to house.”[80]

After reviewing this dismal narrative, we can hardly be surprised to find intolerance contributing in some measure to emigration from England. Between 1659 and 1662, attacks on the dissenters must have added considerably to the pressures already produced by poor conditions in the English economy. Yet no simple explanation is possible. During this same period, religious oppression also grew in the colonies, although in Virginia the persecution of the sects in 1659–1660 abated somewhat just after the Restoration, and broke forth anew only in 1663. Until that year, Virginia may have remained reasonably attractive to the sectaries as a possible place of safety; afterward it could no longer have seemed very secure. This change in the practices of persecution in the colonies, taken together with improvements at the same time in English grain prices and real wages, may help explain the decline in servant enrollments at Bristol after the peaks reached in the late 1650s and early 1660s. Nevertheless, the whole story cannot turn on these two considerations alone, if only because sectarian migrations continued to Virginia itself and to other colonies throughout the Restoration period.[81] If religious persecution played a significant role in driving Englishmen to the colonies before 1663, we must wonder why, according to the Bristol Register, its effects diminished so dramatically just as the attacks grew to their most intense. Nothing in the history of intolerance in the colonies could have outweighed the oppressions in England in the mid-1660s.

To see what mechanisms were at work in determining the rate of servant enrollments in Bristol we need to return to England once again. Unfortunately, we can say little about whether events outside the city played a decisive role in limiting the registration of servants there. It might be, for example, that West Country justices of the peace, apprehensive about insurrection in 1663 and 1664, used the Act of Settlement to turn back migrants before they reached the city, especially at fair time, when large numbers of indentures were usually drawn. But no evidence has come to light to confirm such actions. An examination of Bristol’s own Restoration politics, however, can show us something of the way noneconomic events governed the administration of the servant Register during this period. Even though the policy of persecution followed by Sir John Knight and his allies had considerable support within the city, there was also much opposition to it from moderate members of the Restoration Common Council, as well as from the larger body of citizens. As the Quakers said with only slight exaggeration, Knight’s zeal “set-up to counter-buff the stability of the City, and to overturn…the well poized Government of unity and peace into disunion and troubles.”[82]

Bristol’s politics in these years are difficult to unravel, for a number of rivalries were at work both inside and outside the government.[83] For example, Richard Ellsworth, the Customer for Bristol who during the last days of the Commonwealth had played a major role in organizing Royalist efforts in the city, looked upon Knight as “disaffectious to the interest Royall” and used his connections in Westminster to advocate an even more vigilant and extreme policy against the sects.[84] On the other side, a number of officials had close ties to the sectaries. Many were engaged in the colonial trades, which regularly brought them in contact with the sectarian community. Of the twenty-seven Bristolians who petitioned the Crown for a convoy to Virginia in September 1665, eleven were members of the Common Council, and one a recently retired member. Yet along with them were James Wathen and Thomas Ellis, whom we have already met, and Gabriel Deane, who voted for John Haggatt in the parliamentary election of 1654 and who was purged from the council in 1661.[85] With such shared business interests, councillors and sectaries sometimes entered into partnership. In the Commonwealth period, Robert Cann, mayor in 1662–63, had invested in ventures with Thomas Speed, with whom his relations remained good even after the Restoration, when Cann became a planter in Barbados.[86] In 1661 William Willett, another councillor, owned the ship Resolution with Speed, Gabriel Deane, and five others.[87]

At about the same time, Sir Humphrey Hooke, a man with important family and political ties in Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Barbados who was deputy lieutenant for the city in 1664, received from the king an extensive grant of land in Virginia which he held jointly with Robert Vickris, whose wife and children were Quakers.[88] Kinship ties also affected the relations of the civic authorities to the sectaries. Richard Streamer, sheriff in 1663–64 and sometimes a colonial trader himself, was George Bishop’s brother-in-law, and Sir Robert Yeamans, sheriff in 1662–63 and a former Royalist officer, was a kinsman of Thomas Speed’s wife, who was a prominent Quaker in her own right.[89] As George Bishop reminded Knight, the Bristol sectaries were

a considerable body of people in this City, we, our families, our relations, our estates; we are of the City, and in the City, and inhabitants thereof, and enterwoven we are therein, and with the people thereof, as a mans flesh is in his body, and his spirit in his flesh.[90]

Business and kinship connections, of course, could not always counteract the power of religious conviction or political principle among the Bristolians. Sir John Knight, whose zealous hatred of sectarian and republican ideas went back to the 1640s, did not alter policy because of his own close family ties to the dissenters.[91] Nor did the rather similar family relations of Sheriff Streamer prevent his conscientious, though reluctant, performance of duty.[92] But they made full enforcement exceedingly difficult, because many Bristolians did not share Knight’s bloody-mindedness. Though prepared to resist public outrages by sectarian incendiaries, they preferred to ignore those dissenters who lived peaceably in the city. For example, juries at the Sessions in January 1664 would not find the Quakers guilty of unlawful assembly as charged: one group of defendants was acquitted, and a second convicted, after considerable debate, by special verdict covering only a part of the indictment.[93] Later in the same year, when the authorities attempted to transport three Quakers for their third conviction under the Conventicle Act, the crew of the Mary Fortune refused to take them, saying that “their Cry, and the Cry of their Family and Friends, are entered into the Ears of the Lord, and he hath smitten us even to the very Heart, saying, Cursed is he that parteth Man and Wife.[94] Many others were moved to acts of compassion as well. Sir Robert Cann, by now a baronet, and Sir Robert Yeamans visited the arrested Quakers in jail, and Robert Yate and John Knight, of the Sugar House on St. Augustine’s Back, both of whom had extensive business connections with Speed and other Quakers, offered to stand surety for the jailed sectaries.[95]

These events illustrate the degree to which Bristol was torn by political division in the 1660s. Sir John Knight, Senior, was among the leaders of a significant group of Cavaliers in the city. His principal allies were men like Nathaniel Cale, soapmaker, who had been purged from the city government as a Delinquent in 1645, and John Locke, merchant, who had left in 1656 because of his Royalist views.[96] These men and a few others like them, including several prominent members of the local gentry, served as deputy lieutenants for the city. Although in law, as some of them said, they had “no Authoritie to exercise any Ciuil power as magistrates in the Citty agaynst any man for delinquency,” their military office gave them considerable ability to control events, especially when the mayor was in sympathy with their cause, as in Sir John Knight’s term. When necessary, a large body of citizens under their command could be relied upon for political aid.[97] For most of the period, however, only a handful of leading aldermen held the office of deputy lieutenant concurrently. In any case, the Common Council did not consist entirely of men of similar background. At the outset of Knight’s mayoralty in 1663, only five aldermen and three common councillors were old Royalists, either having been ousted for their political views in the 1640s or 1650s or, like Knight himself, having refused to swear the oath of office until the Restoration.[98] By contrast, four aldermen and five common councillors had served in the civic body during the Interregnum and thus had worked closely at times with the members of the sects. Furthermore, a number of those elected to the council after the Restoration served only with great reluctance, in some instances caused by their unwillingness to enforce harsh government policy against friends and kinfolk. Among the latter may have been John Knight, the sugar refiner, who though elected in 1661 would not be sworn until September 1664, and then only under the Privy Council’s threat of a stiff fine.[99]

Under these conditions, it should come as no surprise to find the city government rent by fierce battles for political primacy in this period. During Sir John Knight’s term, the conflict took the form of a challenge to the precedence of the local leadership, in which Sir Robert Cann, Baronet, and Sir Robert Yeamans were in the vanguard. Cann and Yeamans claimed on behalf of those titled members of the council that they should have precedence before all others regardless of their seniority. In large measure the issue was a symbolic one that served to draw political support for Cann and Yeamans from aldermen who possessed knighthoods. But more was at stake than mere symbolism, since nominations and votes in the civic body proceeded by order of precedence. In effect, Sir Robert Cann was seeking to use his baronetcy to oust the mayor from his privileged place in directing the affairs of the city. For Yeamans, who was not yet an alderman, the issue also had special importance; had he won his point, he would have gained precedence over all but those aldermen who had received knighthoods before him. It is no wonder, therefore, that the issue created an explosion of antagonism in the city that quickly evinced itself in challenges to Knight’s actions against the dissenters.[100]

To a large degree, the rate of servant enrollments in Bristol depended upon which faction controlled the civic administration at the time. After Sir John Knight’s year of terror, no other mayor before the 1670s undertook an all-out attack on the dissenters.[101] John Lawford, Knight’s immediate successor, aided by Knight himself, vigorously enforced the Conventicle Act; yet he did not make mass arrests or attempt to impose the penalty of banishment.[102] During 1667–68, peace and quiet were said to have reigned in Bristol, and in 1669 little was done to suppress the sects, even after the issuance of a royal proclamation against conventicles.[103] The mayors during these years were Alderman Edward Morgan, father of John Morgan, upholsterer, one of Bristol’s great exporters of servants to the colonies, and Alderman Thomas Stevens, a grocer much of whose business must have been in colonial products. Both of these men had joined the Common Council in the Interregnum, and, interestingly, both had resisted accepting high office in the 1660s until forced by threats of confiscatory fines.[104]

In addition to Lawford, Sir Thomas Langton, mayor in 1666–67, and Sir Robert Yeamans, mayor in 1669–70, receive mention as prominent persecutors in these years. But neither man was hellbent on routing the sects. Langton acted only on direct evidence of apparent seditious activity, to which he was especially alert because of the threat of a Dutch attack during his term.[105] Yeamans, for his part, had the misfortune to hold office when the Second Conventicle Act came into force. Thus he found it his duty to execute a policy his enemy Sir John Knight had helped create.[106] This act gave substantial authority to the deputy lieutenants to aid in enforcement and subjected the justices of the peace and the chief magistrates of the towns to stiff fines for each failure to respond to informations duly presented them.[107] Even so, Yeamans acted only reluctantly, prodded by the bishop of Bristol, whose informers made it impossible to disregard the dissenters’ meetings. Furthermore, many of his colleagues, assistants, and fellow citizens refrained from supporting his efforts. Statutory fines were imposed; but when the cases arose, numerous aldermen absented themselves from the bench, and the goods distrained to pay the fines often found no buyers. With the aid of the Trained Bands, Yeamans managed to close the meetinghouses for a time, but the Baptists and the Quakers took to the streets to hold their services. For two months, in fact, Yeamans’s persecution amounted to little more than halfhearted threats against the sectaries put forth in combination with plaintive letters of apology to the Privy Council for failing to do better. Yeamans confined himself to his duty narrowly construed; he attacked sectarian religion according to law, but had no interest in abusing the dissenters in their businesses or everyday lives. Perhaps to indicate his distaste even for this task, he ended his term by nominating as his successor the moderate-minded sugar refiner Mr. John Knight, although the king had previously ordered that only aldermen were eligible for the office.[108]

The years following Sir John Knight’s mayoralty brought with them a moderation of religious persecution in Bristol. These same years also saw the beginning of an era of more favorable material conditions for English labor. As population growth ceased and agricultural production diversified, England no longer suffered periodic subsistence crises and real wages improved, with the result that everywhere in the country the rate of emigration to America fell to levels significantly below those reached in the 1650s. In a general way the decline in the number of indentured servants enrolled at Bristol after 1662 parallels the development nationally. Had the registrations for these years recovered their earlier peaks, we would have every reason to be surprised. From the beginning of 1663, however, a number of factors other than wages and prices intervened to affect the flow of servants through Bristol. War in colonial waters and the plague in London, though not the fire, appear to have played a short-term role. Religion and politics, in both England and the colonies, seem more significant, sometimes stirring religious discontent at home and at other times threatening equal danger abroad.

But Bristol itself is where the most important intervening factors can be found. As we have seen, the city was at times an exceedingly dangerous place for sectaries. In 1663–64, many of the leading colonial traders found themselves in jail for their religious beliefs and no doubt were unable to attend to their businesses. In other years, religious persecutions must have thoroughly distracted them, even though they did not result in long imprisonment. When persecutions raged in Bristol, emigrating dissenters may have avoided the city on their way abroad, using other and safer ports instead. However, the greatest effect was probably administrative, rather than economic. The system of registration could not be enforced for long without cooperation from the traders. The city’s administrative resources simply were far too small to do the work day in and day out. In July 1662, when Mayor Nathaniel Cale was maintaining his vigilance against impending insurrection, the whole registration scheme had come under challenge. Periodically during the previous two years, city officials had boarded ships to assure themselves that all servants were properly registered. But resistance by the ships’ captains and traders seems to have halted this practice, causing Cale to petition the Privy Council for authority to make these inquiries.[109]

No such grant was forthcoming, and the practice of boarding ships did not begin again until August 1670, at the very end of Yeamans’s mayoral term.[110] Thus for most of the 1660s the city seems to have employed no effective means of checking the indentures of servants. During periods of persecution it was easy enough for servants to embark on Bristol ships far from the scrutiny of the city authorities, boarding, as Farwell Meredith had done in 1654, at Kingroad at the mouth of the Avon, rather than nearer to the sources of trouble. In other words, persecution served to increase underregistration. Only when the city was relatively free of attacks on the sects or when those attacks were accompanied by vigilant searches for unindentured servants, as was the case from 1660 to 1662 and again during Ralph Olliffe’s troubled mayoralty in 1674–75, can the Bristol Register give us a reasonably accurate picture of the servant trade.[111]

The scheme to register indentured servants in Bristol was never exactly what it pretended to be. Instead of offering genuine protection for boys, maids, and other persons who might be spirited beyond the seas by the rogues who plied the servant trade, it sought to control the commercial activities of the numerous men and women, some of them religious and political radicals, who pursued profit in the American colonies. The entries in the Register responded as much to the fortunes of politics as to the economics of trade and agriculture. Since Bristol was a commercial city whose very social structure and social geography rested on its role as a major port, its community life was dominated by its connections with distant markets on the continent and in the Atlantic. Its politics and its economy had been inextricably intertwined ever since it received its first grants of privileges in the twelfth century, if not before.[112] This meant that the exercise of power never took a single form. Those who contested for command of the city’s markets also vied for control of its government and of its rituals and symbols, sacred and profane. Political strife centered on the regulation of trade and manufacture, which in turn became the means to enhance economic power and advance an ideology. As Bristol’s commerce with America increased in importance during the middle and late seventeenth century, not surprisingly it became the arena within which these battles for local domination were fought.


1. From 1679 to 1686, rough notes of the servant indentures entered in the Bristol Tolzey appear intermittently in the records of the Mayor’s Court. Between 1 September 1679 and 29 September 1680, notations of one hundred fifty-seven servant indentures were made in the Mayor’s Court Action Book: BRO, MS 04355 (6). A further thirty-one such entries appear in the same source between 30 September 1680 and 12 January 1681, a very low total for this season. There are no more entries until 26 April 1684, whence they run to 12 June 1686: BRO, MS 04356 (1). Even these records appear to be incomplete. [BACK]

2. BRO, MS 04220 (2), entries for 1667–68 and 1677–78; see also Coldham, Registers of Servants, pp. 233–46, 339–45. [BACK]

3. Based on PRO, E 190/1138/1. In 1671–72, one hundred fifty-nine vessels totaling 13,387 tons were recorded by customs officials as entering Bristol from European or Atlantic ports. Seventy-two (45.28 percent) had come from American waters. They amounted to 7,830 tons, or 58.49 percent of the total. In the same year one hundred vessels, totaling 9,159 tons, left Bristol bound for European or American destinations. Forty-seven (47.00 percent), totaling 5,630 tons (61.47 percent), were headed for the American colonies. On later developments in the organization of colonial trade, see Jacob M. Price and Paul G. E. Clemens, “A Revolution of Scale in Overseas Trade: British Firms in the Chesapeake Trade, 1675–1775,” JEcH 47 (1987): 1–44. [BACK]

4. For purposes of this analysis only the data recorded in the two volumes of the Bristol Register, BRO, MSS 04220 (1–2), have been used. These volumes were redacted by clerks from original entry books kept by the Bristol Mayor’s Court. The entries end in August 1679, which means that the last complete year is 1677–78. Since the purpose of this analysis is to test the reliability of the record, the data from the original entry books for the years 1680–1686 have not been included in the analysis. [BACK]

5. Henry Gemery, “Emigration from the British Isles to the New World, 1630–1700: Inferences from Colonial Populations,” Research in Economic History: A Research Annual 5 (1980): 215–16. At best this analysis can only suggest the rough dimension of the change, since Gemery gives his totals by the decade. [BACK]

6. For 1655–1662 we find a correlation of m-.698 (significant at .05) with population as measured by E. A. Wrigley and R. S. Schofield, The Population History of England, 1541–1871: A Reconstruction (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 532. That is, migration from Bristol in these years fluctuated inversely with increases or decreases in England’s population as a whole. But after 1662 the correlation is only m-.249 (n.s.). For the whole period from 1655 to 1678 we get a correlation of m+.464, which is significant only at .25 and should be discounted. But we should not make too much of these calculations, since Wrigley and Schofield give estimates of population for England only, whereas a considerable number of the migrants from Bristol were Welsh. In addition, given the limited number of years in our series, our results, even for 1655–1662, should be taken only as suggestive, not definitive. [BACK]

7. Gemery, “Emigration from the British Isles,” pp. 215–16; Wrigley and Schofield, Population History of England, pp. 186–87, 219–28; Menard, “British Migration,” pp. 99–105. [BACK]

8. Campbell, “Social Origins of Some Early Americans,” pp. 82–89; Mildred Campbell, “Mildred Campbell’s Response,” WMQ, 3d ser., 35 (1978): pp. 527–28; Craven, White, Red and Black, pp. 19, 20–21; Menard, “British Migration,” pp. 108–9, 115–17; Menard, “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies,” pp. 121–22, 132–37, 148; Menard, “From Servants to Slaves,” pp. 379–80; Richard N. Bean and Robert P. Thomas, “The Adoption of Slave Labor in British America,” in Henry Gemery and Jan S. Hagendorn, eds., The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade (New York: Academic Press, 1979), pp. 391–98; Dunn, Sugar and Slaves, pp. 71–74; Galenson, Traders, Planters and Slaves, esp. chap. 1; David W. Galenson, “The Rise and Fall of Indentured Servitude in the Americas: An Economic Analysis,” JEcH 44 (1984): 1–26; Galenson, “ ‘Middling People’ or ‘Common Sort’?” p. 504n. 9; Galenson, “Social Origins: Rejoinder,” p. 272n. 18; David Souden, “English Indentured Servants and the Transatlantic Colonial Economy,” in Shula Marks and Peter Richardson, eds., International Labour Migration: Historical Perspectives (Houndslow: M. Temple Smith, 1984), pp. 19–33; Clemens, Atlantic Economy, pp. 47–57 [BACK]

9. G. F. Zook, The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa (Lancaster, Penn.: Press of the New Era Printing Company, 1919), pp. 17, 82; K. G. Davies, The Royal Africa Company (New York: Atheneum, 1970), pp. 41–43; V. T. Harlow, A History of Barbados, 1625–1685 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926), pp. 310n., 338; Sheridan, Sugar and Slavery, p. 133; Dunn, Sugar and Slaves, pp. 74–75, 87; R. C. Batie, “Why Sugar?” pp. 1–41; Menard, “From Servants to Slaves,” pp. 360–71; Bean and Thomas, “Adoption of Slave Labor,” pp. 380–86; Beckles, “Economic Origins of Black Slavery”, pp. 36–56; Puckrein, Little England, pp. 30–32; Galenson, Traders, Planters and Slaves, chap. 1. [BACK]

10. Charles Wilson, Profit and Power: A Study of England and the Dutch Wars (London: Longmans, Green, 1957), chaps. 8–9. It is always difficult to judge the effect of war on commerce. In the Second Dutch War the Bristolians complained loudly of their losses at sea during 1664–65: PRO, SP 29/133/66. But in November 1665 at least thirty and possibly forty-five ships sailed from the port to the West Indies (PRO, SP 29/136/98), and in the following July a well-laden convoy of twenty-three vessels, mostly Bristol-owned, arrived in the port (PRO, SP 29/163/128; see also PRO, SP 29/175/3, and PRO, SP 29/ 177/39). Although the Third Dutch War seems to have made a much more noticeable impression on servant migration than did the second, it did so only during one year, that of 1673. In the previous and following years the war seems not to have damaged the trade to a significant degree: see Table 29. [BACK]

11. Andrew Appleby, Famine in Tudor and Stuart England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1978), chaps. 7–8. [BACK]

12. T. F. Reddaway, The Rebuilding of London after the Great Fire (London: Jonathan Cape, 1940), pp. 112ff. It might be noted, however, that if the fire had only a minor effect, the plague may well have had a greater, for Bristol established a quarantine for all strangers entering the town and cancelled its fairs during this outbreak: see Latimer, Annals, pp. 334–35; Robert Steele, ed., A Bibliography of Royal Proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart Sovereigns, 2 vols. [Bibliotheca Lindesiana, vols. 5–6] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), vol. 1, nos. 3424 and 3446. [BACK]

13. Andrew Appleby, “Grain Prices and Subsistence Crises in England and France, 1590–1740,” JcHR 39 (1979): 865–87; see also Joan Thirsk, ed., The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Volume 5: 1640–1750. Part II: Agrarian Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 95–101, 325–71, 506–30, 542–71. [BACK]

14. Phelps-Brown and Hopkins, “Seven Centuries of the Prices of Consumables,” pp. 179–96. I am grateful to Philip Hoffman for his advice in analyzing these data and interpreting the results. [BACK]

15. Wrigley and Schofield, Population History of England, pp. 174–91, 210–12, 412. [BACK]

16. For a strong argument on the significance of real wages in determining emigration rates, see Menard, “British Migration,” pp. 108–9, 108n. 18, and Bean and Thomas, “Adoption of Slave Labor,” pp. 390–98. The analysis offered by Bean and Thomas is fraught with difficulties: see Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America, p. 265n. 16. Menard’s analysis is also somewhat problematic. The real-wage figures he employs are based on harvest years: see Wrigley and Schofield, Population History of England, p. 312. But the migration figures Menard takes from Galenson and from Abbott Emerson Smith are for calendar years: see Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial America, pp. 220–21, 224–25; Smith, Colonists in Bondage, p. 309. For a more general critique of the use of the Phelps-Brown/Hopkins indexes to explain trends in the preindustrial economy, see Wrigley and Schofield, Population History of England, pp. 312–13, 431–35, 480–81, 638–41; Peter H. Lindert, “English Population, Wages, and Prices: 1541–1913,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 15 (1985): 618; David Loschky, “Seven Centuries of Real Income per Wage Earner Reconsidered,” Economica 57 (1980): 459–65; Donald Woodward, “Wage Rates and Living Standards in Pre-Industrial England,” Past and Present, no. 91 (May 1981): 28–45; David M. Palliser, “Tawney’s Century: Brave New World or Malthusian Trap?” EcHR, 2d ser., 35 (1982): 349–51; Menard, “British Migration,” p. 108n. 18. [BACK]

17. Menard, “British Migration,” pp. 116–17; Menard, “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies,” esp. pp. 118–20; Menard, “Immigration to the Chesapeake Colonies,” Maryland Historical Magazine 68 (1973): 327; Menard, “Farm Prices of Maryland Tobacco, 1659–1710,” Maryland Historical Magazine 68 (1973): 80–85. [BACK]

18. Menard, “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies,” p. 135. In July 1666, to give an example, nineteen ships, all Bristol-owned and totaling 2,770 tons, arrived in Bristol carrying tobacco. Most of these vessels must have carried some servants on the outward voyage the previous autumn: see PRO, SP 29/163/128 (20 July 1666); see also PRO, SP 29/133/66, 29/163/127, 29/164/23. [BACK]

19. Menard, “The Tobacco Industry in the Chesapeake Colonies,” p. 136. [BACK]

20. Campbell, “Social Origins of Some Early Americans,” p. 87; Campbell, “Mildred Campbell’s Response,” pp. 527–28. David Galenson has challenged this view by arguing, correctly, that Campbell has not “demonstrated” the presence of any Quakers among the servants on the Bristol lists. But the matter should not end with this negative criticism. As we shall see, there is good evidence to suggest that Campbell has a point. [BACK]

21. See, e.g., Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 2, pp. 278–391; James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America, 2 vols. (London: C. Gilpin, 1850–1854), vol. 1, chaps. 19–20; Rufus M. Jones, assisted by Isaac Sharpless and Amelia M. Gummere, The Quakers in the American Colonies (London: Macmillan, 1911), pp. 265–356. [BACK]

22. Letter of Henry Fell to Margaret Fell, 14 August 1656, Friends’ House Library, London, Swarthmore MSS 1/65. In the 1630s Dorothy Kelly, one of the founders of Bristol sectarianism, whose family were among the early Quakers there, had used her house on the High Street for this same purpose: Joseph Fletcher, The History of the Revival and Progress of Independency in England since the Period of the Reformation, 4 vols. (London: John Snow, 1847–1848), vol. 3, pp. 197–98; David Masson, The Life of John Milton: Narrated in Connection with the Political, Ecclesiastical and Literary History of His Time, new and rev. ed., 6 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1894), vol. 2, p. 581. [BACK]

23. Letter of George Bishop to Margaret Fell, 27 October 1656, Friends’ House Library, London, Swarthmore MSS 1/188; George Bishop, The Throne of Truth Exalted over the Powers of Darkness (London, 1656); George Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism, 2d rev. ed., ed. H. J. Cadbury (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955), pp. 253, 566. Besse names only two Bristol sufferers in the years 1657–1659, both of whom were punished for failing to swear the burgess oath and for refusing to remove their hats before the magistrates: Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 42. For an overview of the early history of dissent in Bristol, see J. G. Fuller, The Rise and Progress of Dissent in Bristol: Chiefly in Relation to the Broadmead Church (London: Hamilton, Adams, 1840); Russell Mortimer, Early Bristol Quakerism: The Society of Friends in the City, 1654–1700 (Historical Association, Bristol Branch, pamphlet no. 17, 1967); Hayden, ed., Records, pp. 16ff.; see also Jonathan Barry, “The Parish in Civic Life: Bristol and Its Churches, 1640–1750,” in Susan Wright, ed., Parish, Church and People: Local Studies of Lay Religion, 1350–1750 (London: Hutchinson, 1988), pp. 158ff. [BACK]

24. For Quaker complaints of persecution in this period, see, e.g., John Crook et al., A Declaration of the People of God in scorn called Quakers to all Magistrates and People (London, 1659), signed by Dennis Hollister of Bristol, among others; Bishop, Mene Tekel. But in contrast see Besse’s account of the actual persecutions in London and Middlesex, for example, Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, pp. 361–65. [BACK]

25. PRO, SP 18/220/80. [BACK]

26. BRO, MS 04376, f. 132v; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, p. 12; HMC, Report on the MSS of F. W. Leybourne-Popham, p. 160; PRO, SP 29/9/41, 42, 29/30/67; letter of William Dewsbury to Margaret Fell (February 1660?), Friends’ House Library, London, Swarthmore MSS 4/134; [Richard Ellsworth], A Letter of the Apprentices of the City of Bristol (London, 1660); William Sewel, The History of the Rise, Increase, and Progress of the Christian People Called Quakers, 2d ed. (London: J. Sowle, 1725), pp. 232–33; Seyer, Memoirs, vol. 2, pp. 507–9; Latimer, Annals, pp. 290–92; Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism, pp. 364–66; Barry Reay, “Popular Hostility towards Quakers in Mid-Seventeenth Century England,” Social History 5 (1980): 403–4; Reay, The Quakers and the English Revolution, pp. 73–75. The outcries against the Quakers in this year were closely tied to discontent over the depressed state of trade, as is revealed in the Letter of the Apprentices of the City of Bristol, and to a sense of impending release from the social restraints imposed during the Interregnum. Just before Shrove Tuesday in 1660, for example, the mayor and aldermen issued orders to the apprentices and other young men of the town banning cockthrowing, to avoid tumults (BRO, MS 04376, f. 134r–v) and just before the king’s restoration in May they issued orders to prevent their playing “farthing pitt & lead pitt” while taking the name of the Lord in vain, and their setting up maypoles (BRO, MS 04273, f. 135r–v). On the role of the Quakers in the events leading to the Restoration, see W. A. Cole, “The Quakers in Politics, 1652–1660,” Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1955, chaps. 3–8; W. A. Cole, “The Quakers and the English Revolution,” in Trevor Aston, ed., Crisis in Europe, 1560–1660 (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1957), pp. 358–76; J. F. Maclear, “Quakerism and the End of the Interregnum,” Church History 19 (1950): 240–70; Barry Reay, “The Quakers, 1659, and the Restoration of the Monarchy,” History 63 (1978): 193–215; Reay, The Quakers and the English Revolution, pp. 81–100. [BACK]

27. Hayden, ed., Records, p. 127. For persecutions in London in this period and their effects on dissenters there, see Tim Harris, London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II: Propaganda and Politics from the Restoration until the Exclusion Crisis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), chap. 4. [BACK]

28. On this theme, see Jonathan Barry, “The Politics of Religion in Restoration Bristol,” in Tim Harris, Paul Seaward, and Mark Goldie, eds., The Politics of Religion in Restoration England (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), esp. pp. 168–69. [BACK]

29. PRO, SP 29/21/107; see also PRO, SP 29/21/87. [BACK]

30. PRO, SP 29/21/107; see also PRO, SP 29/28/87, 29/81/16. [BACK]

31. PRO, SP 29/28/87, 29/56/83, 29/57/87, 122, 29/58/16, 29/68/4, 44/10, pp. 38–39, 29/100/89. On the social background to the Quakers, see W. A. Cole, “The Social Origins of the Early Friends,” Journal of Friends’ Historical Society 48 (1957): 99–118; Cole, “The Quakers in Politics, 1652–60,” pp. 295ff.; R. T. Vann, “Quakerism and the Social Structure of the Interregnum,” Past and Present, no. 48 (August, 1970): 71–91; Vann, Social Development of English Quakerism, pp. 47–93; A. Anderson, “The Social Origins of the Early Quakers,” Quaker History 68 (1979): 33–40; Barry Reay, “The Social Origins of Early Quakerism,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 11 (1980): 55–72; Reay, The Quakers and the English Revolution, pp. 20–31; Mortimer, ed., Minute Book, pp. xxvi–xxix; Russell Mortimer, “Quakerism in Seventeenth-Century Bristol,” M.A. thesis, University of Bristol, 1946, pp. 525–27. [BACK]

32. PRO, SP 29/81/16. [BACK]

33. For this and the following paragraphs, see, in general, Ronald Hutton, The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales, 1658–1667 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), esp. part 3; Richard L. Greaves, Deliver Us from Evil: The Radical Underground in Britain, 1660–1663 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); W. C. Abbott, “English Conspiracy and Dissent, 1660–1674: I,” AHR 11 (1908–1909): 503–28; Mortimer, “Quakerism in Seventeenth-Century Bristol,” pp. 22–40. [BACK]

34. PRO, SP 29/28/87, 29/34/68, 29/43/26; see also Stat. Realm, 13 Car. II st. i c. 6. A portion of Roe’s stock was later returned to him, however, for, as Secretary Nicholas said to the Bristol magistrates, the king did not mean to disturb him in the innocent pursuit of his calling. Nevertheless, at Nicholas’s urging Roe was forced to give a weekly accounting of his purchases and sales: [Nicholas] to the mayor of Bristol, 5 October 1661, PRO, SP 29/43/25. For discussion of the Venner plot, see C. Burrage, “The Fifth Monarchy Insurrections,” English Historical Review 25 (1910): 739–45; Sir W. Foster, “Venner’s Rebellion,” London Topographical Record 18 (1942): 30–33; P. G. Rogers, The Fifth Monarchy Men (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), pp. 110–22; Bernard Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English Millenarianism (London: Faber and Faber, 1972), pp. 199–200; Greaves, Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 50–57. [BACK]

35. PRO, SP 29/44/39, 39i–iv, 40, 83; see also PRO, SP 44/1, pp. 19, 71–72, 29/77/74, 75. [BACK]

36. PRO, SP 29/57/42, 42i, 57, 57i, 85, 87, 87i, 29/58/16, 16i–ii, 44/4, p. 62. [BACK]

37. PRO, SP 29/57/1, 29/61/98, 29/64/4, 64; see also Stat. Realm, 14 Car. II c. 3. On the organization and operation of the militia during the Restoration period, see J. R. Western, The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century: The Story of a Political Issue (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), chaps. 1–2; Lois Schwoerer, “No Standing Armies!” The Antiarmy Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), chap. 5. [BACK]

38. PRO, SP 29/65/6, 33, 33i–iii, 34, 63, 63i, 29/69/48, 49, 63, 29/86/20, 201i–v. [BACK]

39. Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (New York: Viking Press, 1972), pp. 32–40, esp. 40; Reay, “Popular Hostility towards Quakers,” pp. 388, 393–94; Smith, Colonists in Bondage, p. 175. [BACK]

40. CJ, vol. 8, pp. 2, 246; Stat. Realm, 14 Car. II c. 1. The bill against the Quakers and the bill against vagrants were so closely tied in the minds of the MPs that the two measures were sent to the same committee after the second readings: CJ, vol. 8, pp. 252, 285. [BACK]

41. Cf. the committees’ names in CJ, vol. 8, pp. 285, 346, 451, 491, 509. [BACK]

42. CJ, vol. 8, pp. 346, 451, 491, 509; Hutton, The Restoration, p. 210; A Relation of the Inhumane and Barbarous sufferings of the people called Quakers in the City of Bristol (London, 1665), pp. 76–77. The principal author of this work is probably George Bishop. As a member of the Cavalier Parliament, Sir John Knight sat on seven committees concerned with ecclesiastical legislation. Only ten other MPs sat on as many or more such committees: see Paul Seaward, The Cavalier Parliament and the Reconstruction of the Old Regime, 1661–1667 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 328. Later in Charles II’s reign, Knight’s Anglican and anti-popery views made him an active exclusionist: see Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 172–73. On Knight’s political career, see Basil Duke Henning, ed., The House of Commons, 1660–1690, 3 vols. (London: History of Parliament Trust, 1983), vol. 2, pp. 692–96. [BACK]

43. BRO, MS 04417 (2), ff. 136v, 158v, 159v, 166v; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 144–45. [BACK]

44. BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, p. 36. This complaint found its way into one of the petitions drafted by the Common Council in April 1661 requesting a confirmation of the city’s charters. There was some question, however, whether it was politically wise to include this complaint in the petition, and a second petition was drawn without it; it was left to the mayor, Henry Creswick, a Merchant Venturer, to decide, after he had scouted the territory in London, which of the two to use. [BACK]

45. A Relation, pp. 51–52. [BACK]

46. On the searches, see BRO, MS 04220 (1), ff. 351r–352r, 355v–367v, 482r–497v. For Knight’s attempt at legislation, see CJ, vol. 8, p. 401. The bill originated in the Commons just before the recess of the summer of 1661. It may have been a response to complaints in London about the stealing of children for transportation to Virginia, which surfaced the year before: Acts of the Privy Council (Colonial), vol. 1, pp. 296–97; see also Jeaffreson, ed., Middlesex County Records, vol. 3, pp. 302, 303, 306, 315. The bill was left to Alderman Fowkes of London to draft. It received its first reading in January 1662 and its second reading and commitment in April: CJ, vol. 8, pp. 316, 349, 401. But although the committee received further instructions from the House, it did not produce the bill for a final vote. For a connection between this bill and revenge against Civil War enemies, see CJ, vol. 8, pp. 403, 412. Knight remained interested in the matter of child-stealing throughout most of his long parliamentary career, serving on committees when legislation was introduced in 1670 and 1673: CJ, vol. 9, pp. 138, 251, 286. On each occasion the bill failed, sometimes because it could not pass the House of Lords. [BACK]

47. PRO, SP 29/57/71. The Long Parliament’s ordinance of May 1645 no longer, of course, had any force after the Restoration. This request of the mayor, however, did not, as far as I can determine, result in the grant of any new authority to the Bristol Corporation. [BACK]

48. See, e.g., CSP (Colonial) (1661–1668), no. 367. [BACK]

49. Acts of Assembly passed in the Island of Barbadoes from 1648, to 1718 (London: J. Baskett, 1721), p. 12. On the “Royalism” of the elites in the colonial Chesapeake region, especially Virginia, see David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 207–25; on the political effects of the Restoration on the colonies in general, see Stephen Saunders Webb, The Governors-General: The English Army and the Definition of Empire (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979); Alison Gilbert Olson, Anglo-American Politics, 1660–1775: The Relationship between Parties in England and Colonial America (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), chap. 2; Philip S. Haffenden, “The Anglican Church in Restoration Politics,” in Smith, ed., Seventeenth-Century America, pp. 166–91. [BACK]

50. CSP (Colonial) (1661–1668), no. 24; Acts passed in the Island of Barbadoes, p. 12. The impetus for this order and legislation appears to have been the royal proclamation of 10 January 1661, suppressing conventicles in England and requiring persons found at them to take the oath of allegiance: Steele, ed., Bibliography of Royal Proclamations, vol. 1, no. 3278. During this same year, the island’s legislature passed an act requiring that morning and evening prayers be said by the head of every household and that all those who lived within two miles of a parish church attend morning and evening services there: Acts passed in the Island of Barbadoes, pp. 12–13. [BACK]

51. Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 2, p. 279. In the following year difficulties for dissenters only increased when the island established a tithe on all landowners for support of the parish clergy, for everywhere it appeared the tithe was anathema to the Quakers and to many other nonconformist groups: Acts passed in the Island of Barbadoes, pp. 20–22; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 2, pp. 280–87. On the dissenters and the tithe, see Margaret James, “The Political Importance of the Tithe Controversy in the English Revolution,” History 26 (1941): 1–18; Blair Worden, The Rump Parliament, 1648–1653 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 13, 293–95, 298, 307–8, 316; Hill, The World Turned Upside Down, pp. 78–79, 82–83, 152, 156–57, 189, 196, 244; Barry Reay, “Quaker Opposition to Tithes, 1652–1660,” Past and Present, no. 86 (February 1980): 98–120. For a Bristol Quaker’s view of the tithe, see Thomas Speed, Christs Innocency Pleaded against the Cry of the Chief Priests (London, 1656), pp. 10–11. [BACK]

52. Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, pp. 352, 366, 370, 380–82; on Maryland, see Bowden, Society of Friends in America, vol. 1, pp. 369–71. [BACK]

53. William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large: being A Collection of all the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in the year 1619, 13 vols. (Richmond: Samuel Pleasants, Junior, 1809–1823), vol. 1, pp. 532–33. [BACK]

54. See Henry R. McIlwaine, The Struggles of Protestant Dissenters for Religious Toleration in Virginia (Johns Hopkins University Studies in History and Political Science, 12th ser., 1894, part 4), pp. 20–21; Sewel, Rise of the Christian People Called Quakers, pp. 264–65; Bowden, Society of Friends in America, vol. 1, pp. 347–49. McIlwaine says that no Quakers appear to have suffered under the act and suggests that this may have been due to the effect of the Declaration of Breda. But for evidence of such persecution, see The Lower Norfolk County Virginia Antiquary 3 (1901): 103–6, 138–46; Jones et al., Quakers in the American Colonies, pp. 273–74. The Bristol Register shows that the leading Quaker traders in the city, such as Speed and Bullock, continued to ship servants to Virginia in the early 1660s, but of course these emigrants may not themselves have been Quakers. [BACK]

55. Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 37. In 1661 Virginia received the same instructions on church settlement as had Barbados, but these may not have arrived in the colony before the end of the legislative session of March, 1661: see CSP (Colonial) (1661–1668), no. 24; Edward D. Neill, Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles the First and Second, a.d.1625–a.d.1685 (Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell’s Sons, 1886), pp. 282–83; see also George M. Brydon, Virginia’s Mother Church and the Conditions under Which It Grew, 2 vols. (Richmond: Virginia Historical Society, 1947–1952), vol. 1, chap. 15; Fischer, Albion’s Seed, pp. 232–36. [BACK]

56. Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 51–52, and esp. p. 48. [BACK]

57. Ibid., pp. 165–66. [BACK]

58. PRO, SP 29/56/134; Neill, Virginia Carolorum, pp. 285–86; Bowden, Society of Friends in America, vol. 1, pp. 344ff.; William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 vols., first ed. 1857 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1966), vol. 1, pp. 255, 427; in general see Brydon, Virginia’s Mother Church, vol. 1, pp. 191–98. In September 1662 the Council of Foreign Plantations ordered the continuance of the policies of church government already instituted in the colony, but at the same time instructed Berkeley not to molest men solely for religion, provided they “be content with a quiet and peaceably enjoying of it, not giving therein offense or scandall to the Government”: Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 3 (1895–96): 15; Neill, Virginia Carolorum, pp. 292–93. The council’s remarks suggest a desire to encourage some nonconformists to continue to people the colony, but since the Quakers were not thought to be peaceable or to act without offense to the government, probably they were not included. Nevertheless, see McIlwaine, Struggles of Protestant Dissenters, pp. 22–23. [BACK]

59. Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 180–83. For a discussion of this measure see McIlwaine, Struggles of Protestant Dissenters, pp. 23–24. [BACK]

60. Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705 ed., ed. Louis Wright (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1947), p. 69; Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 191, 510; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 15 (1907–8): 38–43; A. P. Scott, Criminal Law in Colonial Virginia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930), pp. 155, 156; Richard B. Morris, Government and Labor in Early America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946), pp. 173–74; Webb, Governors-General, pp. 84–85. [BACK]

61. Beverley, Present State of Virginia, p. 68; see also Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 198; Jones et al., The Quakers in the American Colonies, pp. 274–75. These conditions account for the specific exclusion of Virginia as a place to send those convicted of violating the Conventicle Act of 1664: Stat. Realm, 16 Car. II, c. 4; see also Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 510. [BACK]

62. Brydon, Virginia’s Mother Church, vol. 1, pp. 197–98; see also Neill, Virginia Carolorum, p. 296; Jones et al., The Quakers in the American Colonies, p. 280 and book 3. [BACK]

63. PRO, SP 29/72/11, 11i, 29/73/12, 12i–iv; William Cobbett and John Wright, eds., Parliamentary History of England from the Norman Conquest, in 1066…to 1803, 36 vols. (London: T. C. Hansard, 1806–1820), vol. 4, pp. 257–58. [BACK]

64. Cobbett and Wright, eds., Parliamentary History, vol. 4, p. 268. [BACK]

65. PRO, SP 29/74/48, 48i–iii, 66, 66i–ii, 29/75/11, 54, 54i, 99, 105, 115. [BACK]

66. On Captain Gregory, see PRO, SP 29/67/63, 63i, 44/9, pp. 206, 269, 296, 29/67/25, 29/68/4, 44/10, pp. 38–39, 29/69/48, 49, 63, 64, 29/86/20, 20i–v, 29/95/99, 29/97/81, 84. The Gregory affair implicated Henry Roe in the plots. On Casbeard, see PRO, SP 29/76/41, 71, 72, 29/77/48, 74, 74i, 75. See also Greaves, Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 140–50, 160–61; Abbott, “English Conspiracy and Dissent,” p. 518. [BACK]

67. PRO, SP 29/77/31, 50. See also Henry Gee, “The Derwentdale Plot, 1663,” TRHS, 3d ser., 9 (1917): esp. 135; Greaves, Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 165ff.; Abbott, “English Conspiracy and Dissent,” pp. 521–23; Hutton, The Restoration, pp. 204ff.; Steven C. A. Pincus, “Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideology and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650–1665,” Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1990, pp. 332–449. I am grateful to Dr. Pincus for allowing me to consult his dissertation. [BACK]

68. Cobbett and Wright, eds., Parliamentary History, vol. 4, pp. 288–89. [BACK]

69. PRO, SP 29/78/46, 47, 29/79/64, 126, 29/80/1, 29/80/8. Cf. the king’s speech of 16 March 1664: Cobbett and Wright, eds., Parliamentary History, vol. 4, pp. 289–90. On the operation of the militia in this period, see Western, English Militia, pp. 35–36. [BACK]

70. PRO, SP 29/80/10, 19, 20, 29/81/16, 73, 73i–iv. Note, however, that the Bristol Quakers were willing to contribute to a gift for the king: Latimer, Annals, p. 319. [BACK]

71. PRO, SP 29/81/29. [BACK]

72. PRO, SP 29/81/73, 92, 96. Knight, responding to a specific request from the Privy Council, searched the house of Richard Moone, a Baptist stationer, for seditious pamphlets: PRO, SP 29/81/73, 73i–ii. [BACK]

73. Hayden, ed., Records, pp. 117–18; A Relation, p. 11. [BACK]

74. A Relation, p. 17. [BACK]

75. Ibid., pp. 12–36; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 47. Knight claimed to initiate the campaign after receiving the Privy Council’s order to do so, but according to the Quakers this order in fact was solicited by Knight in a letter reporting the city in danger from them: A Relation, pp. 16, 24–25, 32. [BACK]

76. A Relation, pp. 66–67; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 50. [BACK]

77. A Relation, p. 74; BRO, MS 04417 (2), f. 129r–v; see also Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 50. [BACK]

78. A Relation, p. 81; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 50; PRO, SP 29/110/77. [BACK]

79. BRO, MS 04417 (2), ff. 122v–124r; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 51. According to the Quakers, Knight had publicly stated that with the passage of the act “he now hoped to send four Hundred Quakers out of the Land before the Expiration of his Mayoralty”: Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 51. [BACK]

80. BRO, MS 04417 (2), ff. 107r–121v; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 51, and vol. 2, pp. 637–38; A Relation, pp. 83–125; Bishop, A Manifesto, esp. pp. 20–27; Hayden, ed., Records, pp. 118–20; Sewel, Rise of the Christian People Called Quakers, p. 424. Sewel suggests that some of those guilty of a third offense were redeemed by kinsmen who were not Quakers but who paid the £100 fine mentioned in the statute: ibid., p. 430. [BACK]

81. See, e.g., J. C. Jeaffreson, ed., A Young Squire of the Seventeenth Century, from the Papers (a.d.1676–1686) of Christopher Jeaffreson of Dullingham House, Cambridgeshire, 2 vols. (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1878), vol. 2, p. 61; Jones et al., The Quakers in the American Colonies, pp. 283–300. [BACK]

82. A Relation, pp. 3–4; on this subject, see Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 169–70. [BACK]

83. See Latimer, Annals, pp. 290ff.; Latham, ed., Bristol Charters, 1509–1899, pp. 35–57; Henning, ed., House of Commons, vol. 1, pp. 327–40; Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 163–89. [BACK]

84. PRO, SP 29/94/20. See also PRO, SP 29/92/110; McGrath, ed., Merchants and Merchandise, p. 155n. Ellsworth’s animosity to the sectaries possibly was enhanced by the business disputes he had with William Bullock in the 1650s: see ibid., pp. 21–22. [BACK]

85. PRO, SP 29/133/66. [BACK]

86. PRO, SP 25/30/11, 44/25/111. On Robert Cann’s family ties, politics, and career, see Henning, ed., House of Commons, vol. 2, pp. 5–6; Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 172–73 and 185n. 35 with the works cited there. [BACK]

87. BRO, MS 04439 (4), ff. 156r–157v. [BACK]

88. CSP (Colonial) (1661–1668), nos. 391, 520. Sir Humphrey Hooke was the grandson of Alderman Humphrey Hooke, whom we have met. Sir Humphrey was high sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1661. He was elected for Bristol to the Cavalier Parliament, but withdrew in favor of Lord Ossory. When Ossory was raised to the peerage in 1666, Hooke reclaimed the seat: Latimer, Annals, p. 305. For Hooke’s connections in Barbados, see CSP (Colonial) (1661–1668), nos. 141, 1121, 1437. Robert Vickris was an officer in the militia during the Interregnum and a common councillor from 1650 to November 1662, when he withdrew or was ousted: PRO, SP 18/220/70i, 25/76A/33; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 7–8. See also BL, Stowe MS 185, ff. 157v–158r; Beaven, Lists, pp. 201, 311; Mortimer, ed., Minute Book, pp. 218–19. [BACK]

89. A Relation, p. 13; Mortimer, ed., Minute Book, pp. 216, 222; BRO, MS 04439 (4), f. 78v. Yeamans was the son of John Yeamans, brewer, and a nephew of William Yeamans, scrivener. The latter’s family provided one of the first contingents of the separatists in Bristol when the Broadmead church was formed in 1640 and later split from the Baptists to form the first Quaker group in the city: see Hayden, ed., Records, pp. 13, 84–90. Ann Yeamans, the daughter of William the scrivener, first married Robert Yeamans, merchant, who in 1643, as we know, became a martyr for King Charles I for attempting to turn Bristol over to Prince Rupert. She later married Thomas Speed, who adopted her children and brought them up in his household. John Yeamans, Robert’s brother, was also involved in the 1643 plot but was not executed. After a period of time in prison, he emigrated to Barbados and soon became one of the most important people on the island. Later he served as governor of Carolina: see “Sir John Yeamans” in Dictionary of American Biography. For an account of the 1643 plot, see above, pp. 238–41, and Seyer, Memoirs, vol. 2, pp. 341ff. The Robert Yeamans who was active in Restoration politics was a Royalist supporter in the Interregnum: see David Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy in England, 1649–60 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960), p. 264. He was a significant colonial trader as well: CSP (Colonial) (1574–1660), pp. 350, 406. He has been identified as the son of Robert the martyr (see Latham, ed., Bristol Charters, 1509–1899, p. 42n. 3), but this is an error; he was a close cousin. [BACK]

90. A Relation, p. 35. See also Some Reasons Briefly Suggested which have Prevailed with the Dissenters in Bristol to Continue Their Open Meetings, however Persecuted or Disturbed (London, 1675); Barry, “Politics of Religion,” p. 169. [BACK]

91. PRO, SP 25/94/87. Knight twice refused Common Council membership in the Interregnum: Beaven, Lists, p. 299. Knight’s sister-in-law was Joyce Warren, wife of Mathew Warren, who had been sheriff in 1639–40, and daughter-in-law of the Mathew Warren whom we have met as mayor in 1633–34. As we know, she was a leading figure among the Quakers in the 1660s: A Relation, p. 74. [BACK]

92. A Relation, p. 36. For Streamer’s defense of his position, see PRO, SP 29/90/10i, 76. [BACK]

93. A Relation, pp. 53–54, 65; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, pp. 48–49. It appears that Bristol grand juries in this period were more willing to indict sectaries than petty juries were to convict them: see BRO, MS 04451–52 (1); Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 167, 182n. 12. There were significant numbers of indictments for religious matters in 1662 and from 1664 on. Indictments for 1661, 1663, and 1667–1675 are missing, but for 1675 see A Sober Answer to the Address of the Grand Jurors (London, 1675). [BACK]

94. PRO, SP 29/110/42. Ironically, the crew members argued that the transportation of these individuals violated the ordinances against spiriting, because there were no indentures and because Barbados had a strict law against those who brought unindentured servants into the colony against their wills: see Acts passed in the Island of Barbadoes, pp. 22–23. [BACK]

95. PRO, SP 29/90/10, 10i, 62, 76, 29/92/76, 83, 83i–v, 104, 105, 110; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, p. 98; A Relation, pp. 33–35. On the business connection of Yate and John Knight, Junior, see PRO, SP 25/30/11; BRO, MSS 04439 (3), ff. 12r–13r, 04439 (4), ff. 156r–157v. John Knight, known as John Knight, Junior, was the cousin of Sir John Knight: Notes and Queries 3 (29 April 1899): 321–23; I. V. Hall, “John Knight, Junior, Sugar Refiner at the Great House on St. Augustine’s Back (1654–78),” BGAS 68 (1949): 110–64; I. V. Hall, “The Connections between John Knight, Junior, and the Jennings, Latch and Gorges Families,” BGAS 74 (1955): 188–99. [BACK]

96. Beaven, Lists, p. 185; Latimer, Annals, p. 265. [BACK]

97. PRO, SP 29/90/10; A Relation, pp. 14–18, 47–48; see also PRO, SP 29/11/185, 186, 44/1, pp. 71–72, 29/61/98, 29/64/4, 29/65/16, 63, 29/81/92, 96, 29/92/53, 76. On the significance of the deputy lieutenants as an inner circle of loyalists, see Western, English Militia, pp. 16–17. After 1679, this same function was provided by Bristol’s Artillery Company, formed under the inspiration of the marquis of Worcester, whom Barry calls the city’s “ultra-royalist” lord lieutenant: Barry, “Politics of Religion,” p. 170; M. de L. Landon, “The Bristol Artillery Company and the Tory Triumph in Bristol, 1679–84,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 114 (1970): 155–61. [BACK]

98. Beaven, Lists, pp. 186, 200–202; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 23, 45–47; BRO, MS 04417 (2), ff. 155v–156r; PRO, SP 29/14/77. See also Latham, ed., Bristol Charters, pp. 35–40; Latimer, Annals, pp. 296–98, 309–11. [BACK]

99. PRO, PC 2/51/217; BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 108–9. John Knight was joined by eleven others under the order, but despite it only Knight and five more took the oath and sat: see BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 65ff.; PRO, SP 44/13, p. 135, 29/57/41; Latham, ed., Bristol Charters, pp. 40–42, 175–78. [BACK]

100. BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 55, 60, 68, 86, 95, 99, 104, 112, 125; PRO, SP 29/57/55, 29/92/48, 77, 78, 83, 91, 111, 118, 29/93/47, 47i, 69, 29/94/118, 29/96/39. The outcome of the dispute was an order applying the custom of London to Bristol. In London those common councillors with titles enjoyed precedence only when not exercising their public functions or appearing as members of the civic body. In the council and aldermanic meetings they proceeded by seniority of membership. [BACK]

101. See Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 52. [BACK]

102. BRO, MS 04417 (2), ff. 104v–105v; Hayden, ed., Records, p. 121; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, p. 51. [BACK]

103. PRO, SP 29/217/75, 114, 29/220/44, 29/225/38, 29/265/15. [BACK]

104. BRO, Common Council Proceedings, vol. 6, pp. 28–30, 111; Beaven, Lists, pp. 200, 302, 309. [BACK]

105. PRO, SP 29/177/39, 29/178/135, 29/180/5, 89, 29/181/129, 29/206/1, 1i–ii, 29/209/75, 75i–ii; Hayden, ed., Records, p. 125; W. C. Abbott, “English Conspiracy and Dissent, 1660–1674: II,” AHR 14 (1908–9): 709. [BACK]

106. For Knight’s involvement in promoting the passage of the Second Conventicle Act, see CJ, vol. 9, pp. 104, 130. [BACK]

107. Stat. Realm, 22 Car. II c. 1. For evidence of Yeamans’s responses to the actions of informers, see G. Lyon Turner, ed., Original Records of Early Nonconformity under Persecution and Indulgence, 3 vols. (London: T. F. Unwin, 1911–1914), vol. 3, pp. 51n., 52n. [BACK]

108. Hayden, ed., Records, p. 128; Besse, Sufferings of the People called Quakers, vol. 1, pp. 52–53; Mortimer, ed., Minute Book, pp. 33, 40, 102; PRO, SP 29/275/132, 162, 163, 29/276/14, 75, 29/278/149. The king’s order requiring the mayor to be chosen from among the aldermen dates from 7 September 1665: PRO, SP 44/17, p. 134. Yeamans himself appears to have been elected in violation of the order, since he was not an alderman in 1669. The king’s order was to have been read before each election meeting and apparently was read in 1669, but Yeamans omitted to read it in 1670. The election of 1670 was hotly contested, with Mr. Knight winning by two votes over two conservative aldermen, and Sir John Knight moved immediately to quash the election. Having failed to get a Privy Council order soon enough, Sir John had his cousin hauled before the House of Commons. For the aftermath of the election, see PRO, SP 29/278/181, 210, 44/31/61, 29/279/45, 29/288/44; BRO, MS 04447 (1), p. 11; Latimer, Annals, pp. 355–57; Latham, ed., Bristol Charters, 1509–1899, p. 42. [BACK]

109. PRO, SP 29/57/71. Visitation of ships in Cale’s term appears to have begun on 21 April 1662 and to have ended abruptly on 7 July 1662: BRO, MS 04220 (1), ff. 482r–497v. [BACK]

110. BRO, MS 04220 (2), f. 187r. These entries run through 5 October 1672, i.e., they end soon after the installation of Christopher Griffeth as mayor: ibid., f. 231v. [BACK]

111. Olliffe’s year in the mayoralty saw almost as violent persecution as had Sir John Knight’s: see Hayden, ed., Records, pp. 144–70; Mortimer, ed., Minute Book, pp. 99–100. For evidence of the visitation of ships during his term, see BRO, MS 04220 (2), ff. 271v; these entries continue intermittently to the end of the volume in August 1679. Olliffe, an innkeeper and vintner, served as sheriff during Lawford’s term as mayor in 1664–65 and so had good experience of previous persecutions: Beaven, Lists, p. 303. The last days of the Register come at the height of the Exclusion crisis and its bitter aftermath of persecution and factional strife in Bristol: see Latimer, Annals, pp. 388ff.; HMC, The Manuscripts of the Duke of Beaufort, K.G., the Earl of Donoughmore, and Others, p. 101; Barry, “Politics of Religion,” pp. 172–81. These disruptive events may account in part for the apparent breakdown in the enforcement of the servant registration scheme in its last years: see above, Chapter 8, n. 1. In fall 1681 the new mayor of Bristol, Thomas Earle, whom Charles II knighted on 4 December of that year, instituted another vigorous campaign against the conventicles, for which the marquis of Worcester wrote to thank him on the king’s behalf: marquis of Worcester to the marchioness, 17 December 1681, HMC, Manuscripts of the Duke of Beaufort, p. 87. [BACK]

112. Sacks, Trade, Society and Politics, vol. 1, chap. 1. [BACK]

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