The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.477075, -2.570137

12 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

In 1673 James Millerd published the first map of Bristol drawn from a measured survey. Millerd was a Bristol mercer. He received the gift a of silver tankard from the Corporation for his plan, described as "the largest, exactest and hansomest that ever was drawn of this city." The plan was revised and reissued at least four times, in 1684, 1696, c.1710 and c.1729.…

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Starting in the 11th century, ships from Bristol were involved in transporting children to sell as slaves in Ireland.
For most of the Middle Ages (1000 - 1453) Bristol was the second richest and busiest city after London, By the end of the 1500s it remained a great regional port.
Ships from Bristol traded mainly with Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
They brought back wine, olive oil and fish.
They also visited the north African coast, the Azores islands, Canary Islands and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean off North Africa, Hamburg, Venice, Holland, and the Baltic area in north east Europe.

From the 1440s the Portuguese had traded in slaves from Africa and after 1600 merchants from Holland and London joined in.
Initially the Royal African Company, made up of merchants from London only, had sole rights to trade in slaves.
Bristol merchants may have been trading in slaves (illegally) from Africa as early as 1670.
Bristol’s merchants were certainly campaigning during the 1690s to be allowed to trade with Africa.

There were many people involved in different aspects of the transatlantic slave trade.
In Bristol there were the ship owners and merchants, as well as slave-ship captains and crew.
The ship owners might invest money in a slaving voyage as well as providing the ship.
Merchants invested money in slaving voyages, in equipping the ship and in the goods that were traded with Africa.
The roles of slave traders, ship owners, and merchants often overlapped.
In West Africa, those involved were the caboceers (traders) on the coast and the enslaved Africans who were captured and sold to the slave ships.
In the Caribbean islands and the Americas, there were the slave traders’ agents who sold the enslaved Africans and the plantation owners who purchased the enslaved Africans when they arrived in what was known as the ‘New World’ .

The accounts book of the 1774 first slaving voyage of the ship the Africa gives much information about the finances of the trade. The eight owners seem to have made a small loss on this voyage, but four of them were happy to try again on a second voyage. This extract shows the payout of £641 1s and 6d (or £641.71/2p) to each investor. This would be about £32,050 today. The final payment was of £39 2s 6d six weeks later (about £1,950 today).


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Books and sources for research on Bristol’s transatlantic slave trade:

1. Books and articles with a substantial amount of information specifically about Bristol:
Madge Dresser Slavery Obscured: The Social History of the Slave Trade in an English Provincial Port (London: Continuum Books, 2001)
Madge Dresser and Sue Giles (editors) Bristol & Transatlantic Slavery (Bristol: Bristol Museums & Art Gallery, 2000)
Madge Dresser Caletta Jordan and Doreen Taylor Slave Trade Trail around Central Bristol (Bristol: Bristol Museums & Art Gallery, 1999)
Donald Jones Clifton: A history (Chichester:Phillimore, 1992)
Donald Jones Bristol’s Sugar Trade and Refining Industry (Bristol: Bristol Branch of the Historical Association, 19
Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (London: Verso, 2000)
Paul E. Lovejoy (editor) Africans in bondage: studies in slavery and the slave trade: essays in honor of Philip D. Curtin on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of African Studies at the University of Wisconsin (Madison: University of Winsconsin, 1986)
C M MacInnes Bristol: Gateway to Empire (reprint Newton Abbot David and Charles, 1968)
Kenneth Morgan Edward Colston and Bristol (Bristol: Historical Association, Bristol Branch, 1999)
Richard Pares A West India Fortune [the Pinney family] (London: Longman, 1950)
David Richardson Bristol, Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Slave Trade to America Vol.1 The Years of Expansion 1698-1729 (Bristol: The Bristol Record Society, 1986);
David Richardson The Bristol Slave Traders: A Collective Portrait (Bristol: Bristol Branch of the Historical Association, 1985)
Hugh Thomas The Slave Trade: The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870 (London: Picador, 1997)
Nigel Tattersfield The Forgotten Trade: Comprising the Log of the Daniel and Henry of 1700 and Accounts of the Slave Trade from the Minor Ports of England 1698-1725 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1991, London: Pimlico, 1998)


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

2. General Books on the Slave Trade and Slavery:

Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd (editors) Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World (Princeton : Marcus Wiener, 1999)
Ira Berlin and Philip D Morgan (editors) Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shalping of Slave Life in the Americas (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1993)
Robin Blackburn The making of New World Slavery from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London:Verso 1997)
David Brion Davis The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)
Seymour Drescher and Stanley L. Engerman (editors) A Historical Guide to World Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press,1998)
Susanne Everett History of Slavery (London: Grange Books, 1996)
Paul Farnsworth (ed) Island Lives (Alabama: 2001)
Peter Fryer Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1984)
Gretchen Gerzina Black England: Life Before Emancipation (London: John Murray, 1995)
Guy Grannum Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors; Sources in the Public Record Office (London: PRO Publications, 1995
Richard Hart Slaves Who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion (Barbados, Jamaica et al: University of the West Indies Press, 1985, 2002)
Patrick Manning Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
Kenneth Morgan Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy 1660-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
James A. Rawley The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History (New York and London: Norton, 1981)
Edward Reynolds Stand the Storm: A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade (London: Alison and Busby, 1985)
Verene Shepherd and Hilary McD. Beckles Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World: A Student Reader (Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2000)
Theresa A Singleton (editor) The Archaeology of Slavery and Plantation Life (Orlando: Academic Press, 1985)
Anthony Tibbles (editor) Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity (London: HMSO, 1995)
James Walvin Black Ivory: A History of British Slavery (London: Fontana, 1993)
Eric Williams Capitalism and Slavery (Chapletown, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press,1944)
Marcus Wood Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America (Manchester:Manchester University Press, 2000)


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

3. Journal Articles and Chapters in Books:

H. McD. Beckles ‘The “Hub of Empire”: the Caribbean and Britain in the Seventeenth Century’ in N. Canny (editor) The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Origins of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) vol. 1 pp. 218-240
H. McD. Beckles ‘White women and slavery in the Caribbean’ in History Workshop, Autumn 93, no.36, pp. 66-82
David Eltis and Stanley Engerman ‘The importance of slavery and the slave trade to industrialising Britain’ in Journal of Economic History, 60:1 (2000), pp. 123-44
P.E.H. Hair and R. Law ‘The English in Western Africa to 1700’ in The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) vol. 2, pp. 241-263
J.P.E. Lovejoy ‘Trust, pawnship, and Atlantic history: the institutional foundations of the Old Calabar slave trade’ in American Historical Review, 104:2 (1999), pp. 333-55.
Kenneth Morgan ‘Sugar refining in Bristol’ in Kristine Bruland and Patrick K. O’Brien (editors) From family firms to corporate capitalism: essays in business and industrial history in honour of Peter Mathias (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998) pp. 139-69.
Philip D. Morgan ‘The black Experience in the British Empire 1680-1765’ in The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) vol. 2, pp. 465-486
J. Pieterse ‘Slavery and the triangle of emancipation’ in Race and Class vol. 13 no. 3 (1998), pp.1-21
D. Richardson ‘Shipboard revolts, African authority and the Atlantic slave trade’ in The William and Mary Quarterly third series, vol. LVIII, no.1 (Jan. 2001): this is on line at…
R. Sheridan ‘The Formation of Caribbean Plantation Society, 1689-1748’ in P.J. Marshall (editor) The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1998) vol. 2, pp 394-414
Tim Taylor ‘Nevis, West Indies’ in TimeTeam 99: The Site Reports (London: Channel 4, 1999)


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

5. Websites (see also External Links – accessible through the home page, for a wider range of websites):

The Bristol slavery trail on-line with teacher’s notes:
To see how Bristol compared to other ports in terms of slave ship departures:…
For timelines (other than the one on this site):… and…
For two first rate American sites see:…
Other general websites on slavery
For a wealth of material on the African trade see:…
For some excellent material on slavery related material, see
Two good sites on Africa and slavery include:
The BBC’s World Service ‘Story of Africa’:……


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

7. Other Libraries and Archives in Bristol:

Bristol Library Service: Holds contemporary newspapers, and a wide range of books printed on the subject. It has the logbook of the slave ship the Black Prince, and a copy of the logbook of the slave ship the Molly. Many records are available on microfiche. It has a bibliography of its holdings available see…

Bristol Record Office: Holds the records of the Spring Hill Plantation in Jamaica,
Munkley papers (shipping), and various documents relating to trade and merchants. A pamphlet detailing the records held is available. See their website which has an on-line search engine:

University of Bristol: Holds the Pinney papers and a number of contemporary books, maps and other documents relating to the slave trade, the Caribbean and sugar. It publishes a leaflet on its slavery material.

Special Collections Librarian, Arts Library, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, BS8 1TQ

Empire & Commonwealth Museum: Holds books and government papers relating to the slave trade. The Curator, Empire & Commonwealth Museum, Clock Tower Yard, Temple Meads, Bristol BS1 6QH

Kuumba Cultural Centre: Has a library with a good selection on black history and culture. 2 Hepburn Road, Bristol BS5


8. Other Libraries and Archives:

Public Record Office: Holds a large number of documents that relate to Bristol, including the business papers of James Rogers (slave trader). There is a book by Guy Grannum, Tracing your West Indian Ancestors, available from the shop.

The millions of documents held here are well-catalogued, but records relating to Bristol merchants and slaving might be in an unexpected file, like ‘Portuguese trade’.

The Archivist, PRO, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU


Obviously this information was incomplete and obsolete before it went to press, but it'll get you started.
Many thanks to the City of Bristol for throwing open the archives.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Somerset Yearbook of 1933, page 90, has the following notice of a plaque recently installed in Bristol:

“From near this place
On July 26, 1643
Colonel Henry Washington
Attacked the Parliamentary defenses
Between Royal Fort and Brandon Hill
With a small force he effected
‘Washington’s Breach’
(at the present intersection of Park Row and Park Street)
Through which the Royalist troops
Entered Bristol and compelled its
He was the grandson of Lawrence Washington
of Sulgrave and a collateral ancestor of
George Washington (1732 – 1799)
First President of
the United States of America
Erected in 1931 by the Bristol Branch
Of the Geographical Association"

So the Washingtons were good Royalists during the English Civil Wars.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Much of the correspondence to Samuel Pepys comes from or refers to Kingroad or King Roads.

"A King Road (Marine Chart : 1859_1)

A King Road marine chart is included in BRISTOL CHANNEL & SOUTH IRELAND nautical charts folio. It is available as part of iBoating : United Kingdom / Ireland Marine & Fishing App (now supported on multiple platforms including Android, iPhone/iPad, MacBook, and Windows(tablet and phone)/PC based chartplotter. ).…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

At Avonmouth, on the Severn Estuary near the village of Pill, the difference
between high and low tide can be as much as 40 feet (12.3 metres) – the second highest tidal range in the world.

With each rising tide, enormous volumes of water push into the mouth of the river from the Bristol Channel, only to flow out again a few hours later.

The cargoes of some larger ships were transferred to smaller craft to make the journey up to Bristol.
The big ships were moored at Pill's Hung Road and the Pill Hobblers hauled the smaller boats upriver using the towpath and sometimes horses.
The Pill Hobblers also towed ships into Bristol with rowboats.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The trade and warfare conducted by the entrepreneurial merchants of Bristol as reported in:

Bristol -- British atlas of historic towns, Nr. 3
Author William Hunt
Publisher Longmans, Green, 1889
Original from Harvard University
Length 230 pages…

Although this is 100 years before Pepys, it does explain the Bristol mindset, and the scope of their imports and exports:

During the reign of Henry VIII, Bristol, in common with London and Southampton, carried on a brisk trade with Sicily, Candia, and the Levant, exporting fine and coarse kersies of various kinds, and receiving silks, rhubarb, sweet wines, sweet oils, Turkey carpets, and spices;
and in this trade its merchants largely employed ships of Ragusa, Venice, Genoa, and other states.

Commerce with the Levant was carried on at the risk of capture by the Turks, and especially by the Algerine pirates.

In 1621 John Rawlins, a Plymouth skipper, who was taken and sold as a slave in Algiers, but found there the 'Exchange' of Bristol which had been surprised by the pirates. He and some other English slaves were put on board her as part of her crew; they rose against the Turks, overcame them after a desperate fight, and brought the ship back to England.

Some years passed before the new trade of Bristol brought her ships into collision with any Christian state, for the Newfoundland discovery lay too far north to rouse Spanish interference, and such trade as there was with the West Indies was carried on in Spanish bottoms and was kept secret.

In 1552, three ships fitted out and freighted at Bristol, sailed from King Road, on the second voyage made from England for purposes of traffic with Morocco, carrying linen and woolen cloth, amber, and jet. The general importance of this voyage lies in the fact that it was an open defiance of the papal decision, as yet the law of Christendom, which reserved Africa for its discoverers, the Portuguese.

The ships returned safely despite the anger of the Portuguese, and of an attack made on them by some Spaniards.

As regards Bristol, this voyage marks the beginning of her African trade. From the Barbary coast her ships slowly worked their way to the Guinea coast, and there, in later times, took in slaves for the Western plantations.

On the accession of Edward VI, Cabot returned to England, and it is said he took up his residence in Bristol. He received a pension, and had the direction of the maritime affairs of the kingdom. In addition, he worked with all his heart on the method of determining longitude and on problems of a like nature, so that he should be remembered as an administrator and a man of science rather than simply as a seaman.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Ruslan clarified for us the truth behind the name "Blackboy Hill" in Bristol.

The street name comes from the Black Boy Inn. The pub's name was probably linked to Charles II, who was known as ‘the Black Boy’ because of his dark hair and complexion, rather than to the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

This information comes from an informative website hosted by Bristol Museum, entitled "Myths and Truths: The transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans is a dark area of Bristol’s history, and it’s important we can understand the city’s role in it. Do you know your fact from your myth?"

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



  • Jun


  • Feb