The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Petition Against the Candlemas Fair, c. 1543

Source: Transcribed and annotated by: Vanes, J. (ed.), Documents Illustrating the Overseas Trade of Bristol in the Sixteenth Century, (Bristol Record Society Publications, Vol. XXXI, Kendal, 1979), No. 2, pp. 31-32.
P.R.O. E163/12/2

p. 31

The Complaynt of the Marchauntes of Bristowe agaynst the Fayre of Candelmas. Fyrst, the said marchauntes and owners of shippes of Bristowe do say that the contynuance of the said fayre shall be the utter distrucion and decay of the navy of the said towne by reason that all strangers of the parties of beyond the sea do resorte with their shippes and ballyngars unto the said towne purposly to serve the same fayre to th'entent the marchauntes strangers may by and sell with other strangers and foreners by the libertie of the said fayre so frely so that we the marchauntes of the said towne can have no suche utterance of the marchandises which we bryng whome in our owne shippis as we used to have in suche tyme before the said fayre was purchased. By reason wherof wheras our great shippis used to make ij or iij viages in the yere, nowe scarcely we make with them oon viage in the yere, so that for lak of utterance of our marchandizes we shall be compellid and constrayned to give over our great shippes and to use ballyngars and suche other small vesselles to the utter decay of the navy of the said towne. And when that the navy decayeth and mynysshith then decayeth the marchauntes, consequently when the marchauntes fayleth or decayeth then decayeth the whole comons of the said towne, for by the trade of marchandizes and by marchauntes ar menteyned wevers, towkers, shermen, dyers, an infynyte nombre of pore people, as spynners and carders for the mayntenance of cloth makyng within the said towne. Besides this, the baker, bruer and bochor have dayly convenyent lyvyng for the provision of vitalles for the said shippes. And also there be no small nombre of maryners the which all their lyvyng do depende upon the navigacion of the ftete of this towne, as it is well knowen. And those that be the suters for the mayntenance of the said fayre be towkers, wevers and vittaillers who for to sell vitailles by the space of viij days in the faire tyme to a small profett (as God knoweth) do not consyder that all the yere after they have their lyvyng by the marchauntes abovesaid. So that if the said farce have contynuance it shall be the utter undoyng to the said towkers and wevers, as by their impoverishyng dayly do appere for that in tymes past they were men of habilitie and of good substance, alweis redy to pay unto our Soveraigne Lord the Kyng their porcion of suche charges as the towne have byn appoynted to pay and nowe they be hable very lytle or nothyng.

Also all other occupiers the which have none other lyvyng but oonly

p. 32

biyng and sellyng within this towne do saye that the contynuance of this fayre at Candelmas will be also to their utter undoyng by reason that where in tymes past before the said fayre was used, all maner of strangers dyd resort with their shippes and ballyngars to this town at all tymes in the yere, in suche wise that at their handes they bought their wares and marchandises of the strangers at suche a reasonable prise that they myght sell the same agayn to the naturalles of this land at suche tymes when they resorted to this towne at a convenyent prise and havyng a sufficient gaynes by the same towardes their lyvyng. Which trade was coinonly every moneth in the yere, wheras nowe by reason of this fayre as well the strangers sellers as the stranger byer do appoynt to mete at the said fayre and then bargayneth together to the utter undoyng of the occupiers of this towne. And though the said strangers do com to this towne with their wares and marchandizes a moneth or ij before the said fayre begyn then they do putt up and house their said marchandizes in the common hall appoynted and by no meanes will make any sale therof to the inhabytantes of this towne but kepe it untill the fayre for their owne syngler advantage. The which in contynuance will be the utter undoyng and distruccion of the said towne of Bristowe for ever. The which we pray God defend.

Frauncis Codrington

by me Wylliam Cokkes, marchant

John Gorney, marchaunt

by me James Chester, marchant

William Willet

by me Robert Pressey, merchant

John Chacfyld

by me Gorge Snyge

John Cutte, marchaunt

Thomas Tysson, marchaunt

John Barbour, marchaunte

by me Robart Gettons, marchaunt

Robert Young

by me William Kyrke, marchaunt

John Hancok

by me Arthur Smythe, marchaunt

John Spacheford, marchant

by me John Chancelor, marchant

John Snyge, marchaunt

by me Thomas Shipman, marchaunt

John Cutt, marchaunt

by me Giles White, marchant

John Capes, marchaunt

by me William Car, marchaunt

Water Robarts, marchaunt

by me Thomas Hikys, marchaunt

Thomas Chestor, marchaunt

by me Francis Fuller, marchaunt

William Harves, marchaunt

Robart Bottlor, marchaunt

James Bayle, marchaunt

Nycollas Tyson, marchaunt

Fransys Wossely, marchant

by me Edward Pryn

per me Edward Butler, marchand

by me Allen Hill

per me William Blak, marchant

by me John Pytt

by me Nycholas Ware, marchant

by me John Pryn (1)

(1) Other merchants signed as members of the Town Council.

See also I. S. Leadam (ed.), Select Cases before the King's Council in the Star Chamber, Selden Society, xxv (1911) cii-cxxiv, 237-76.

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