Place:Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

Watchers
NameBristol
Alt namesKnowlesource: from redirect
Eastonsource: from redirect
Brislingtonsource: from redirect
Bishportsource: from redirect
Bishopswoodsource: from redirect
Ashton Courtsource: from redirect
Ashton Gatesource: from redirect
Bristousource: Gazetteer of Great Britain (1999) p 112
City of Bristolsource: Gazetteer of Great Britain (1999) xvii
Redcliffsource: village within Somerset part of Bristol
TypeCity, Borough (county)
Coordinates51.45°N 2.583°W
Located inGloucestershire, England     ( - 1974)
Also located inAvon, England     (1974 - 1996)
See alsoBristol, Englandunitary authority including the original county borough of Bristol in existence since 1996
Contained Places
Ancient parish
Bristol St. James and St. Paul Out ( 1837 - 1896 )
Civil parish
Bristol St. James and St. Paul Out ( 1837 - 1896 )
Inhabited place
Horfield ( 1996 - )
Redland ( 1996 - )
Sea Mills ( 1996 - )
Shirehampton ( 1996 - )
Stoke Bishop ( 1996 - )
Westbury-on-Trym ( 1996 - )
Parish
Henbury ( 1996 - )
Westbury-on-Trym ( 1996 - )
Suburb
Avonmouth ( 1996 - )
Bristol St. George ( 1996 - )
Clifton ( 1996 - )
Henbury ( 1996 - )
Henleaze ( 1996 - )
Horfield ( 1996 - )
Redland ( 1996 - )
Sea Mills ( 1996 - )
Shirehampton ( 1996 - )
Stapleton ( 1996 - )
Westbury-on-Trym ( 1996 - )
Unknown
Bishopston ( 1996 - )
Urban district
Bristol St. George ( 1996 - )
Horfield ( 1996 - )
Stapleton ( 1996 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


This is an article on the historic Bristol, located at the base of the Severn Estuary, with environs in the counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset. In 1974 Bristol and much of the area immediately surrounding was re-organized into a new county named Avon. This had its advantages: since both Somerset and Gloucestershire had always claimed Bristol, now they could no longer do so--it was in Avon. However, due to local pressure over the next 20 years, Avon was abolished in 1996 and a new organization of local government was put into place. The City of Bristol became a unitary authority, a single-tier organization under central government of the United Kingdom, known in WeRelate as Bristol, England on another page.

The other parts of Avon which had previously been part of Gloucestershire also chose to become unitary authorities route with the names "South Gloucestershire", "Bath and North East Somerset" and "North Somerset".


the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Bristol received a Royal Charter in 1155 and was granted County status in 1373. From the 13th century, for half a millennium, it ranked amongst the top four English cities on the basis of tax receipts after London, alongside York and Norwich. The Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century brought Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester into play. The city is built around the River Avon, and it also has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary, which flows into the Bristol Channel.

Bristol's prosperity has been linked with the sea since its earliest days. The commercial Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth. The Royal Portbury Dock faces Avonmouth on the opposite side of the River Avon. The two docks are on the western edge of the city boundary. In more recent years the economy has depended on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture.

Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Clifton in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Archaeological finds, including flint tools believed to be between 300,000 and 126,000years old made with the Levallois technique, indicate the presence of Neanderthals in the Shirehampton and St Annes areas of Bristol during the Middle Palaeolithic. Iron Age hill forts near the city are at Leigh Woods and Clifton Down, on the side of the Avon Gorge, and on Kings Weston Hill near Henbury. A Roman settlement, Abona, existed at what is now Sea Mills (connected to Bath by a Roman road); another was at the present-day Inns Court. Isolated Roman villas and small forts and settlements were also scattered throughout the area.

Middle Ages

Bristol was founded by 1000; by about 1020, it was a trading centre with a mint producing silver pennies bearing its name. By 1067 Brycgstow was a well-fortified burh, and that year the townsmen beat off a raiding party from Ireland led by three of Harold Godwinson's sons. Under Norman rule, the town had one of the strongest castles in southern England. Bristol was the place of exile for Diarmait Mac Murchada, the Irish king of Leinster, after being overthrown. The Bristol merchants subsequently played a prominent role in funding Richard Strongbow de Clare and the Norman invasion of Ireland.


The port developed in the 11th century around the confluence of the Rivers Frome and Avon, adjacent to Bristol Bridge just outside the town walls. By the 12th century Bristol was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland, including slaves. There was also an important Jewish community in Bristol from the late 12th century through to the late 13th century when all Jews were expelled from England. The stone bridge built in 1247 was replaced by the current bridge during the 1760s. The town incorporated neighbouring suburbs and became a county in 1373, the first town in England to be given this status. During this period, Bristol became a shipbuilding and manufacturing centre. By the 14th century Bristol, York and Norwich were England's largest medieval towns after London. One-third to one-half of the population died in the Black Death of 1348–49, which checked population growth, and its population remained between 10,000 and 12,000 for most of the 15th and 16th centuries.

15th and 16th centuries

During the 15th century Bristol was the second-most important port in the country, trading with Ireland, Iceland and Gascony. It was the starting point for many voyages, including Robert Sturmy's (1457–58) unsuccessful attempt to break the Italian monopoly of Eastern Mediterranean trade. New exploration voyages were launched by Venetian John Cabot, who in 1497 made landfall in North America. A 1499 voyage, led by merchant William Weston of Bristol, was the first expedition commanded by an Englishman to North America. During the first decade of the 16th century Bristol's merchants undertook a series of exploration voyages to North America and even founded a commercial organisation, 'The Company Adventurers to the New Found Land', to assist their endeavours. However, they seem to have lost interest in North America after 1509, having incurred great expenses and made little profit.

During the 16th century, Bristol merchants concentrated on developing trade with Spain and its American colonies. This included the smuggling of prohibited goods, such as food and guns, to Iberia during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). Bristol's illicit trade grew enormously after 1558, becoming integral to its economy.


The original Diocese of Bristol was founded in 1542, when the former Abbey of St. Augustine (founded by Robert Fitzharding four hundred years earlier) became Bristol Cathedral. Bristol also gained city status that year. During the English Civil War in the 1640s the city was occupied by Royalists, who built the Royal Fort House on the site of an earlier Parliamentarian stronghold.

17th and 18th centuries

Growth of the city and trade came with the rise of England's American colonies in the 17th century. Bristol's location on the west side of Great Britain gave its ships an advantage in sailing to and from the New World, and the city's merchants made the most of it. The 18th century saw an expansion of England's role in the Atlantic trade in Africans taken for slavery to the Americas. Bristol and Liverpool became centres of the Triangular Trade. In the first side of the slavery triangle, manufactured goods were shipped to West Africa and exchanged for Africans; the enslaved captives were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas in the Middle Passage under brutal conditions. In the third side of the triangle, plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton and a few slaves (sold to the aristocracy as house servants) returned across the Atlantic.[1] Some household slaves were baptised in the hope this would mean their freedom in England. The Somersett Case of 1772 clarified that slavery was illegal in England. At the height of the Bristol slave trade from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried a conservatively estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas. The Seven Stars public house, where abolitionist Thomas Clarkson collected information on the slave trade, is still operating.

Fishermen from Bristol, who had fished the Grand Banks of Newfoundland since the 16th century, began settling Newfoundland permanently in larger numbers during the 17th century, establishing colonies at Bristol's Hope and Cuper's Cove. Because of Bristol's nautical environment, maritime safety was an important issue in the city. During the 19th century, Samuel Plimsoll, known as "the sailor's friend," campaigned to make the seas safer; shocked by overloaded vessels, he successfully fought for a compulsory load line on ships.

In 1739 John Wesley founded the first Methodist chapel, the New Room, in Bristol. Wesley, along with his brother Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, preached to large congregations in Bristol and the neighbouring village of Kingswood, often in the open air.

19th century

The city was associated with Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London Paddington, two pioneering Bristol-built oceangoing steamships ( and ), and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The new railway replaced the Kennet and Avon Canal, which had fully opened in 1810 as the main route for the transport of goods between Bristol and London. Competition from Liverpool (beginning around 1760), disruptions of maritime commerce due to war with France (1793) and the abolition of the slave trade (1807) contributed to Bristol's failure to keep pace with the newer manufacturing centres of Northern England and the West Midlands. The tidal Avon Gorge, which had secured the port during the Middle Ages, had become a liability. An 1804–09 plan to improve the city's port with a floating harbour designed by William Jessop was a costly error, requiring high harbour fees.

By 1867, ships were getting larger and the meanders in the river Avon prevented boats over from reaching the harbour, resulting in falling trade. The port facilities were migrating downstream to Avonmouth and new industrial complexes were founded there. Some of the traditional industries including copper and brass manufacture went into decline, but the import and processing of tobacco flourished with the expansion of the W.D. & H.O. Wills business.

Supported by new industry and growing commerce, Bristol's population (66,000 in 1801), quintupled during the 19th century, resulting in the creation of new suburbs such as Clifton and Cotham. These provide architectural examples from the Georgian to the Regency style, with many fine terraces and villas facing the road, and at right angles to it. In the early 19th century, the romantic medieval gothic style appeared, partially as a reaction against the symmetry of Palladianism, and can be seen in buildings such as the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal West of England Academy, and The Victoria Rooms. Riots broke out in 1793 and 1831; the first over the renewal of tolls on Bristol Bridge, and the second against the rejection of the second Reform Bill by the House of Lords. The Diocese of Bristol had undergone several boundary changes by 1897 when it was "reconstituted" into the configuration which has lasted into the 21st century.


20th century

From a population of about 330,000 in 1901, Bristol grew steadily during the 20th century, peaking at 428,089 in 1971.[2] Its Avonmouth docklands were enlarged during the early 1900s by the Royal Edward Dock. Another new dock, the Royal Portbury Dock, opened across the river from Avonmouth during the 1970s. As air travel grew in the first half of the century, aircraft manufacturers built factories. The unsuccessful Bristol International Exhibition was held on Ashton Meadows in the Bower Ashton area in 1914. After the premature closure of the exhibition the site was used, until 1919, as barracks for the Gloucestershire Regiment during World War I.

Bristol was heavily damaged by Luftwaffe raids during World War II; about 1,300 people living or working in the city were killed and nearly 100,000 buildings were damaged, at least 3,000 beyond repair. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed churches and fragments of the castle. A third bomb-damaged church nearby, St Nicholas, has been restored and is a museum housing a 1756 William Hogarth triptych painted for the high altar of St Mary Redcliffe. The museum also has statues of King Edward I (moved from Arno's Court Triumphal Arch) and King Edward III (taken from Lawfords' Gate in the city walls when they were demolished about 1760), and 13th-century statues of Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester (builder of Bristol Castle) and Geoffrey de Montbray (who built the city's walls) from Bristol's Newgate.


The rebuilding of Bristol city centre was characterised by 1960s and 1970s skyscrapers, mid-century modern architecture and road improvements. Beginning in the 1980s some main roads were closed, the Georgian-era Queen Square and Portland Square were restored, the Broadmead shopping area regenerated, and one of the city centre's tallest mid-century towers was demolished. Bristol's road infrastructure changed dramatically during the 1960s and 1970s with the development of the M4 and M5 motorways, which meet at the Almondsbury Interchange just north of the city and link Bristol with London (M4 eastbound), Swansea (M4 westbound across the Severn Estuary), Exeter (M5 southbound) and Birmingham (M5 northbound). Bristol was bombed twice by the IRA, in 1974 and again in 1978.

The 20th-century relocation of the docks to Avonmouth Docks and Royal Portbury Dock, downstream from the city centre, has allowed the redevelopment of the old dock area (the Floating Harbour). Although the docks' existence was once in jeopardy (since the area was seen as a derelict industrial site), the inaugural 1996 International Festival of the Sea held in and around the docks affirmed the area as a leisure asset of the city.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Bristol., especially the sections "Boundaries" and "Economy and Industry"

Research Tips

  • Bristol Archives is where paper and microfilm copies of all records for Bristol and its environs are stored.

Online sources which may also be helpful:

  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected (except in the immediate Bristol area--for Bristol, see English Jurisdictions).
  • Gloucestershire Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Gloucestershire in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Gloucestershire in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s
  • A Vision of Britain through Time has a group of pages of statistical facts for almost every parish in the county
  • GENUKI gives pointers to other archive sources as well as providing some details on each parish. The emphasis here is on ecclesiastical parishes (useful before 1837)
  • A listing of all the Registration Districts in England and Wales since their introduction in 1837 and tables of the parishes that were part of each district and the time period covered with detailed notes on changes of parish name, mergers, etc. The compiler has gone to a lot of work to provide this material. Respect his copyright.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki for Gloucestershire provides a similar but not identical series of webpages to that provided by GENUKI
  • English Jurisdictions, a supplementary website to FamilySearch outlining local parish boundaries in the middle on the 19th century. The information provided is especially useful for establishing the locations of ecclesiastical parishes in large towns and cathedral cities, as well as changes in their dedications (names). Very useful for Bristol.
  • The Church Crawler has a website of photos and histories of English Churches with emphasis on Bristol.
  • Unfortunately, the Victoria County History series provided by the website British History Online only provides information on Gloucestershire Churches in this part of the county. More general information on the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area is sadly omitted.
  • Ancestry UK has recently added Gloucestershire Burials, 1813-1988; Confirmations, 1834-1913; Baptisms, 1813-1913; Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813; and Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938. (entry dated 1 Aug 2015)
  • Ancestry has also now updated Bristol, England, Select Church of England Parish Registers, 1720-1933 (entry dated 14 Mar 2016)

NOTE: The Family History Catalog lists references under the ancient parish churches of [St Mary] Redcliffe, St. Philip and St. Jacob, and Temple, as well as under Bristol itself.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Bristol. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.