Waterford’s 16th Century trade to Bristol

Last year I wrote about the astonishing flotilla that departed from Passage East for St James Fair in Bristol in 1635. I’d long been aware of this connection of course, and particularly Faithlegg’s connection with the English city dating back to the Norman conquest.  That said I’m constantly amazed at the level of trade that departed or entered Waterford harbour.  Although principally embarked or disembarked for either the city or New Ross, the trade flourished in all the harbour villages and via the rivers far inland. Recently Andy Kelly loaned me a copy of an interesting book(1) chronicling some of the trade between us and Bristol. It makes for fascinating reading.
In running to 1081 pages and detailing over a century of trade I decided to just look at one years trade, 1503-04 and to look at the quantity of journey and one ships manifest inbound and outbound.  Most of the ships were trading with Waterford city, far fewer with New Ross at the time (at least in this record). The trade disputes with New Ross and the arguments over primacy had existed for many years before, and arguably still exist today.
A Cog, an example of what may have been plying the route
By I, VollwertBIT, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2311499
The first ship mentioned is bata (2) Lenard.  We can only speculate as to the size and design of the ship that was sailing the waters of the medieval ages. She arrived to Bristol from Waterford under her Master William Gombon 4th October 1503.  She departed for Waterford 20th October, arriving back to Bristol 16th December.  She returned to Waterford in the new year, 17th January 1504.
On the 4th October the Lenard was carrying manifest on behalf of several merchants; William Gombon (also her master), Walter Mothell, Thomas Langton, Philip Power, Robert Garvie, William White, Denis Ffolan, Peter Cassie, John Hyall, Denis Sherman, Peter Talbot, Thomas Axbridge, Patrick Kent and Robert Cransbie. 
The cargo carried was varied but included fish such as Hake and Salmon (Herring of various type was a popular commodity at other times of the year) Linen, wool, mantles, hides, skins of sheep, lamb, fox, and wax.  The return cargo to Waterford included silks, cloth of Assize(3), knives, saffron, pepper, verdigras, ainseed and 4 wey(4) of coal. As the year went on animal exports dropped and fish exports increased.  Imports of Waterford remained of a similar cargo/manifest
Accessed from http://brisray.com/bristol/bhist4.htm 12/1/2018

The Katren of New Ross under her master William Grase arrived to Bristol on the 31st January 1504 departing 13th February.  She arrived back on the 22nd June that same year.  I could not find a record of a departure.  I could only find one other ship from New Ross in the period; the Miell under master William Blake.

The Katern’s cargo of January was carried for William Grase, Thomas Bent, Patrick Kelly, John Clarke, Thoimas Shenell, Robert Laurens, Robert Grase and John Carpynter.  The manifest was made up of fish; Salmon, Herring White and mantles. 
Other Waterford ships in this time period included; the Mawdlen under master William Power, the Trinite under master William Browne, the Clement under master Walter Barry, the James under master James Leach, the Mare under master Peter de John, the Savioure under master Thomas Meryn, and the Sondaie under master John Walshe.  I can’t say that these ships were owned in Waterford.  Indeed isn’t it also possible that they were bound from and/or to Passage East or Cheekpoint.
Another typical vessel of the time, A Carrack
Accessed from https://media1.britannica.com/eb-media/64/158764-004-798F86CB.jpg 12/1/2018

A century on the exports of animal products were unchanged, but fish exports seemed to have dropped in favour of Newfoundland fish! The only real change is in the quantity and variety of imports into the Waterford area. So for example in 1601 Marie Busher of Waterford under James Baron master was loading for several days for the following merchants; Robert Cramsburrowe of Waterford, Robert Wealshe of Waterford, Walter Rian of Kilkenny and Pierce Vyne and Charles Strannge of Waterford.  The manifest is vast and varied; foodstuffs such as raisins, ginger, currants, rice, and prunes.  Hops possibly for brewing.  A wide variety of ironmongery including steel, locks, bellows, rings, bolts, hinges, frying pans and pots.  Lace, Paris silk, canvas, Milan  Faustian cloth, Jean Faustian Cloth, bibs, cotton, taffeta, wool cards, threads, needles and hats. Soap was popular, glassware, looking glasses, playing cards, paper, inkwells, books for grammar, books cato and purile!? penners and inkhorns.  

The other change perhaps is that I would imaging the Marie Busher was a bigger vessel than those of 100 years previous.

My thanks to Andy Kelly, without which this piece would not have been possible.

(1) Flavin.S. & Joens ET. Eds.  Bristols Trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601. Vol 61.  2009. Four Courts Press. Dublin

(2) Bata is latin for boat.  No great idea is given of their capacity or tonnage
(3) Cloth of Azzize was a unit of measurement of broadcloth
(4) A wey of coal was a unit of measurement, but depending on the item had varied weight, eg Coal was one measurement, wheat was another etc

My book on growing up in a fishing village is now published.     

Details of online purchases, local stockists or ebook store available here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *