Economy of the ages John Trow

Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education
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It seems not to have been cotton cloth, but rather trimmings, such as ribbons. However, there was no other town making these goods within the catchment area of the River Severn. It may appear strange that Manchester lies within the catchment area, but in fact it is only about fifty miles overland from Manchester to Shrewsbury, and it was probably quicker to send goods downriver to Bristol than by sea round the coast of Wales.


Kidderminster ware meant glass and hats. The information in Table I shows the name of the boat and its master, its destination and the name of the merchant who owned the cargo, or any part of it. April 4th. The 'Anne of Tewkesbury to Bristol. James Harrison, senior, merchant and master; 8 tons of rock salt, 5 hogsheads of white salt, 25 hogsheads of cider, 1 wey of malt. Edward Bryam merchant, Walter Edwards master: 20 weys of malt, 40 hogsheads of cider and perry, one steel mill, one dozen pails,. The 'John of Tewkesbury' to Bristol. William Fisher merchant, John Harper master: 20 tons of soap ashes, 16 weys of malt, one bag of hops, of iron wares, 3 boxes of apparel.

The 'Orange of Tewkesbury' to Bristol.

Thomas Tyler merchant and master: one ton of bacon, half a ton of tallow, 7 hogsheads of glovers' shreds, one vat of glue, one wey of malt, 4 hogsheads of vinegar, 23 hogsheads of cider and perry. John Glover merchant and master: 25 weys of 2 hogsheads of cider, bushels of white salt, 2 dozen chairs, 10 reams of paper. Inwards, there was more variety; serge, made in the west of England, Somerset and Devon, and in Scotland; sugar; molasses; wool cards, used in the process of making cloth for carding the wool: train oil, and 36, lbs.

In most years Tewkesbury consumed about 60, lbs. It is surprising that so little French wine was imported, though both Spanish wine and a great deal of port came in.

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At that time there was a very heavy customs duty on French wine, so little was consumed in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, unlike the middle ages or today. From , the last year for which we have a Gloucester port book, going upstream; the first item was 50 tons of Russian bar iron; peach wood, which was used in joinery, Madeira wine, three blocks of marble, dye stuff, shoe black, deal, deal boards, salt fish; all comprising a huge cargo, which must have been carried by a very large boat, which had sailed round from London.

This is the kind of information that can be gathered from the port books, and it is possible to single out the trade of a particular town, like Tewkesbury. With the help of many people we have been able to put something like 37, cargoes on the computer, and the program is designed to allow us to extract any information we need. We can ascertain how much iron was carried from Shrewsbury as opposed to Tewkesbury, how many boats sailed per month, the names of the masters and merchants, and a variety of other things. It has taken almost ten years to assemble this data base. Provided it does not take too much time, information can now be provided for anyone who desires it.

Chapter 1: Inequality Is Rising against a Background of Low Social Mobility

Port books are not available for every year. The information for this first period is limited; it seems as if the customs officials had been told to record only particular items, of which lead was one, and was, of course, very important. Very little was recorded of the trade upriver, though it is not clear why this was so.

We can only tell by inference what was not recorded. Other information given is the tonnage of the boat, where the merchant lived, and frequently his occupation, Later on that information was not given. In the middle period, from until , there were much larger cargoes, but no information was given about the masters. In the last period, from to , they no longer entered the boat's home port, so it is impossible to differentiate between a Tewkesbury and a Shrewsbury boat.

In the years part of the year was recorded rather than the full year, but there was good coverage for the early 's, the early 's and the early 's, with gaps in between. The first part of the seventeenth century is extremely disappointing; we have records from only one port per year.

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Goebel, Julius, Jr. Campus: Frankfurt am Main. Smith resigned in July , as Hamilton scolded him for slowness, and told Wolcott to tax houses instead of land. One can distinguish layers and dimensions at different moments of time, for example, by using subscripts and superscripts as indices. Gibowicz, Charles J. Chernow, Ron

From the 's there are records from four or five, or even seven, ports each year, but there was a falling off after about , Many records have been damaged; rats have nibbled them, corners have been torn off, bottles of ink have been spilt over them, and some are incredibly filthy, so there are problems in transcription. However, there are something like 7, cargoes in the port books and now in the data base. I have only recently started work on Tewkesbury, but I can tell you the sort of data that is coming from the port books.

We have less information about Tewkesbury's trading background than about any of the other river ports, because we have not had a volunteer group working here. There is one at Worcester, a large one at Gloucester and a number of people working in Shropshire.

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There wasn't a local history society here to do any research, and the books about Tewkesbury that have been published recently have concentrated not on the economy of the town, but on other aspects of its history. It may be that the records are not available to produce a thorough account of the town's economy.


There is no detailed account of the town, no breakdown of the number of people involved in a particular trade or industry, so there is no context for the information from the port books. We have not been able to see the effect of the improvement of the navigability of the Avon; did it improve the trade, or did it cause it to deteriorate?


Was Tewkesbury the port for Herefordshire? How far did its marketing area go into the Cotswolds? Our information enables us to shed a certain amount of light on these questions. The most useful thing to do is to demonstrate the form in which we have transcribed the information from the port book, showing the categories into which the information has been broken down. First is the number of ships; Tewkesbury did not have the problems with the depth of water in the river which affected other ports upstream, so there was a much more regular traffic pattern than for Shrewsbury or Bridgnorth.

A boat left Tewkesbury for Bristol or further afield about once every fortnight.

Economy of the ages John Trow

Traffic upstream was much smaller. There were two reasons for this; boats travelled upriver empty or in ballast on many occasions; the second reason was connected with the system of recording. There was a second way by which a cargo could be taken through customs, by using something called a 'transire'. The government was hazy as to whether it wanted transires entered into the port books or not, so some ports did enter them while others did not.

Fortunately, Gloucester never issued transires, so far as we know, but only coquets. The coquets probably represent the whole of the trade apart from fruit. Fruit was exempt, because by the time all the legal documents had been completed it would have gone off and be unsaleable; or so it was maintained in the argument presented to the Exchequer Court. We know that Bristol issued transires for traffic going upriver.

They were not entered in the Bristol port book, no documents were issued, and so there is nothing to pick up at Gloucester. It is only through the work of David Hopley , another researcher, at Bridgwater, where they did record their transires, that we know that a number of Tewkesbury boats went there, though they were not recorded at Bristol or Gloucester.

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Upriver trade can only be used for illustrative purposes, and great care must be taken in attempting to quantify it. There was a sharp decline in Tewkesbury trade in the middle years of the seventeenth century; there was some recovery in the early eighteenth century, but never to the level of the Elizabethan period. This refers to percentages of the totals, not to numbers.

The number of voyages was as high in as in the 's. This only applies to Tewkesbury; at Bewdley there were four times as many, at Worcester six times as many and altogether there was more traffic on the river. The other factor was, of course, that boats had increased in size. This did not mean that the amount of goods shipped through Tewkesbury had gone down; in fact, it had gone up, but not as fast as at Worcester or Bewdley. In the early years the biggest boat, in , the last year in which tonnage is given, was 25 tons.

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