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The Bristol Chronicles 1700 - 1800 | by brizzle born and bred
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The Bristol Chronicles 1700 - 1800

1700 - The population of Bristol is estimated to have risen to about 25,000.


1702 - Work begins on building Queen Square to celebrate a visit to Bristol by Queen Anne.


1702 - Bristol’s first newspaper, the Bristol Postboy, is founded. The 91st issue, published in August 1704, is the earliest surviving copy of a provincial newspaper in the world and is now at the Central Reference Library. It was produced weekly as a single sheet.


1709 - Food riots sweep the city. Two hundred coal miners from Kingswood. always a rowdy bunch, march into the city and riot against a big increase in the cost of food — a bushel of wheat had doubled in price to eight shillings.The miners disperse after being promised a reduction in the price of a bushel to five shillings and sixpence.


1710 - Colston School is founded.


1714 - Celebrations for the Coronation of King George turns into a riot and two people are killed in the violence.


1727- 49 - The introduction of tollgates on June 26, 1727 sparks off far more serious riots than those of 1709 or 1714. Two days after they are installed, the turnpikes are destroyed. Wherever they appear the tollgates are wrecked. For a time in 1734 not a single tollgate is left standing between Bristol and Gloucester. This continues for 21 years, the length of time that the law that allows the tollgates is in force.


1728 - 33 - A series of riots by Easton and Kingswood weavers, impoverished by the industrialisation of their industry results in a mill owner shooting dead eight protesters. Two of the Easton weavers’ leaders are executed.


1737 - Bristol Royal Infirmary opens.


1739 - John Wesley invents Methodism. On April 2,Wesley gives his first open-air sermon in St Philip’s.The New Room in the Horsefair is established as the world’s first Methodist chapel later in the year.


1743 - The Exchange in Corn Street is built by John Wood the Elder.


1745 - The original glass-roofed St Nicholas Market is built.


1749 - John Wesley’s brother Charles, the greatest ever hymn writer, moves to Bristol and lives in a house at 4 Charles Street. opposite the present site of the bus station.


1750 - Population of Bristol about 50,000: the city has doubled in size in just 50 years.


1752 - The poet Thomas Chatterton is born into an impoverished Bristol family in Redcliffe.


1753 - Very bad harvests in 1752 are the cause of food riots in 1753. Despite shortages, Bristol merchants are still exporting grain for huge profits.


On May 21,1753 - Kingswood miners lead a march into the city and ransack a ship. the Lamb. that was preparing to sail with 70 tons of wheat to Dublin. On May 25. a crowd of 900, made up of colliers and weavers, break into the Bridewell and release prisoners. Four rioters are killed, around 50 injured and 30 are captured.


1750 - There were some 2,000 sailors who lived in Bristol by the 1750s. Of these, only the most desperate worked on slave ships. This was because illness, terrible heat and the threat of slave rebellions made the trip to Africa hard. Sailors tried to avoid joining a slaving voyage. Thomas Clarkson campaigned against the slave trade. In order to understand more about the slave trade and those who took part in it, he came to Bristol in 1787. He spoke to many sailors to get an idea of the horrors they went through on the trip to Africa and the Caribbean on slaving voyages. Later Clarkson wrote that 'Men on their first [slaving] voyages usually dislike the traffic; ... but if they went a second or third time, their disposition became ... accustomed to carry away men and women by force ...'. Clarkson meant that sailors on their first slaving voyage might not have liked the job of taking slaves, but by the second or third voyage they were used to it.


By the 1780s many sailors were recruited from the rough drinking taverns on Marsh Street, in Bristol. They were often taken by trickery by the ships captains who were looking for crew to man their slaving ships. This was one of the few ways that the captains could get sailors. The captains would pay pub landlords to help them trick men into joining the slaving voyages. Pub landlords would lend money to sailors so that they could afford to buy drinks. Once the sailor was drunk, the bill was given to them, and the sailor would be unable to pay it or repay the loan from the landlord. The corrupt landlord would then give them a choice. Either the sailor would go to jail, or, to repay the debt, could join the crew of a slaving ship bound for Africa. Most sailors would choose the second option rather than go to jail. The landlords would be paid for their help and so recover their money that way. The sailors would pay the debt from their wages for the voyage.


Groups of merchants, or traders, owned the slave ships. They would then employ the captain and the crew. Sometimes slave ship captains owned a share in the slave ship with the merchants. The captain and crew all received a wage. But the higher ranking members, such as the captain, the ship's surgeon and the first mate (the captain's assistant), would also be given a 'a privilege negroe' . This was a a slave bought in Africa, which they could sell for their own profit. It was a bonus to encourage them to look after the slaves well.


Occasionally sailors found themselves in the position of slaves themselves. In the early 1700s an English ship was captured off the coast of North Africa by pirates from Morocco (known as Barbary pirates, from the name given to the North African coast). They were taken as slaves by the pirates who demanded a ransom to free them. European sailors were often captured like this. Often they were freed by friends who paid the ransom money. Some would be sold as slaves, though, if they had no friends able to raise the money.


1766 - The Theatre Royal is opened.


1774 - The Poet Laureate Robert Southey is born the son of a linen draper at 9 Wine Street on August 12.


1780 - The development of Upper Clifton begins.


1786 - Tobacco company WD & HO Wills is founded by Henry Overton Wills when he moves from Salisbury to Bristol and goes into partnership with Samuel Watkins.Their first shop is in Castle Street but by 1791 the firm has moved to 112 Redcliffe Street.


1799 - Humphry Davy administers nitrous oxide to visitors to the Pneumatic Institute in Dowry Square, Hotwells. After watching the effects on people who inhale it. Davy coins the term ‘laughing gas’.


1800 - Humphry Davy works with Thomas Beddoes at his clinic in Dowry Square, Hotwells. Davy publishes the book Reseorches, Chemical and Philosophical: Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide in which he describes inhaling nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and obtaining a degree of analgesia from a painful condition he was suffering.


Davy’s research into anaesthetic effect are not tested and utilised for another 45 years; instead, the primary use of nitrous oxide is for recreational enjoyment and public shows. So-called ‘nitrous oxide capers’ took place in travelling medicine shows and carnivals, where the public paid a small price to inhale a minute’s worth of gas.


Many dignitaries and famous individuals come to inhale Davy’s purified nitrous oxide for recreational purposes, including the poets Coleridge and Southey, the potter Josiah (later Sir Josiah) Wedgwood, and Roget of Roget’s Thesaurus.'l am sure the air in heaven must be this wonder working gas of delight,' wrote Southey after a swift inhalation in Dowry Square.


Bristol Chronicles 55BC - 1698


Bristol Chronicles 1700 - 1800


Bristol Chronicles 1860 - 1889


Bristol Chronicles 1900 - 1904


Bristol Chronicles 1905


Bristol Chronicles 1906


Bristol Chronicles 1907


Bristol Chronicles 1908


Bristol Chronicles 1909


Bristol Chronicles 1910


Bristol Chronicles 1911 - 1912


Bristol Chronicles 1913


Bristol Chronicles 1914-18


Bristol Chronicles 1920s


Bristol Chronicles 1930 - 1933


Bristol Chronicles 1930s


Bristol Chronicles 1939-45


Bristol Chronicles 1946 - 1959


Bristol Chronicles 1960 - 1965


Bristol Chronicles 1966 - 1969


Bristol Chronicles 1970s


Bristol Chronicles 1980s


Bristol Chronicles 1990 - 2008

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Taken on October 17, 2009