The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


Updated:
27-May-2003

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Customs Account: The Matthew of Bristol, 1503/4

Source: Transcribed and translated by Evan Jones with assistance from Wendy Childs and Duncan Kennedy.
Manuscript: PRO E122 199/1

The following accounts are translated from the Bristol Customs Accounts covering the year 29 September 1503 - 28 September 1504. It is highly probable that this Matthew of Bristol, is the same ship in which John Cabot sailed across the Atlantic in his 1497 voyage of discovery to North America. A glossary and notes are provided at the end.

A small ship called the Mathewe of Bristol, in which Edmund Griffeth is master, exited towards Ireland the same day [20 December 1503] and the same [ship] has in her: [1]

Hugh Eliet den.

6 tons corrupt wine, val. 9

sub. 9s.

Idem

12 lb. worked silk, val. 8

sub. 8s.

Idem

3 tons salt, val. 50s.

sub. 2s. 6d.

Idem

4 clb. aniseed, val. 40s.

sub. 2s.

Idem

12 stone orchil, val. 20s.

sub. 12d.

Idem

2 barrels honey, val. 23s. 4d.

sub. 14d.

Idem

11 woollen cloths [2]

cust. 12s. 10d.

Edmund Griffeths den.

2 woollen cloths

cust. 2s. 4d.

Idem

20 lbs. dyed cloth [3], val. 6s. 8d.

sub. 4d.

A small ship called the Mathewe of Bristol, in which Edmund Griffeth is master,
came from Ireland the same day [4 May 1504]
and the same [ship] has in her:

The same master den.

4.5 dicker salted hides, val. 60s.

sub. 3s.

Idem

11 burden salt fish, val. 36s. 8d.

sub. 22d.

Jonyco, alien [4]

60 lbs. wax, val. 20s.

sub. 12d. cust. 3d.

Idem

120 lamb skins, val. 5s.

sub. 3d. cust. 3f.

Idem

26 otter skins, val. 10s. 10d.

sub. 5d 2f. cust. 1d. 3f.

Edmund Griffeth den.

2.5 burden salt fish, val. 8s. 4d.

sub. 5d.

A small ship called the Mathewe of Bristol, in which William Claron is master, exited towards Bordeaux the same day [13 June 1504] and the same [ship] has in her:

Richard Hobie den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

Robert Barrero den.

 

16 woollen cloths

cust. 18s. 8d.

A small ship called the Mathewe of Bristol, in which William Claron is master, came from Bordeaux the same day [12 August 1504] and the same [ship] has in her:

John Shipman den.

8 pipes, 3 measure woad,
val. 40 18s. 9d.

sub. 40s. 11d. 1f.

Idem

1 tun vinegar, val. 40s.

sub. 2s.

Idem

10 tons salt, val. 4 3s. 4d.

sub. 4s. 2d.

William Jeffereis den.

22 pipes woad, val. 110

sub. 110s.

Richard Hobie den.

3 pipes, 10 measures woad,
val. 18 2s. 6d.

sub. 18s. 1d. 2f.

Humphrey Brown den.

1.5 pipes woad, val. 7 10s.

sub. 7s. 6d.

Robert Barrero den.

10 pipe, 12 measures woad,
val. 53 15s.

sub. 53s. 9d.

A small ship called the Mathewe of Bristol, in which William Claron is master, exited towards northern Spain [5] the same day [28 August 1504] and the same [ship] has in her:

Roger Dawes den.

1 woollen cloth

cust. 14d.

Idem

14 'Dozen' [6] woollen cloths

cust. 8s. 2d.

William Hurste den.

13.5 woollen cloths

cust. 15s. 9d.

John Grene den.

1.5 woollen cloths

cust. 21d.

Idem

2 dozen tanned calf skins, val. 5s.

sub. 3d.

John Shipman &
John Ware den.

36 woollen cloths

cust. 42s.

John Shipman den.

8 cwt. worked tin, val. 12

sub. 12s.

Richard Hobie den.

43 cwt. worked lead, val. 10 15s.

sub. 10s. 9d.

Idem

9 woollen cloths

cust. 10s. 6d.

John Meysam den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

Thomas Hawkens den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

Robert Barrero den.

10 woollen cloths

cust. 11s. 8d.

William Thorne den.

5 woollen cloths

cust. 5s. 10d.

John Edee den.

20 woollen cloths

cust. 23s. 4d.

William Aphowell den.

7 woollen cloths

cust. 8s. 2d.

John Ware &
John Shipman den.s

6 woollen cloths

cust. 7s.

John Jansie den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

Richard Hobie den.

7 woollen cloths

cust. 8s. 8d.

Robert Rowlowe den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

John Qwirke den.

1 woollen cloth

cust. 14d.

John Rowland den.

17 doz strait welsh cloths, val. 70s. 10d.

sub. 3s. 6d. 2f.

Thomas Badcok den.

8 woollen cloths

cust. 9s. 4d.

Robert Rowlowe den.

2 woollen cloths

cust. 2s. 4d.

Thomas Aphowell den.

2 woollen cloths

cust. 2s. 4d.

William Estbie den.

5 woollen cloths

cust. 5s. 10d.

Robert Rowlowe den.

7 woollen cloths

cust. 8s. 2d.

Glossary:

burden: A unit of measure often used for salt fish. Perhaps around 30 cod, weighing c. 60lbs.
clb.: A 'hundred' pounds, which could mean 100, 112, 120 or even 124.
cust.: Custom. Two main taxes were described as custom in the 'customs' accounts. All woollen cloths of assize, dyed without grain, paid custom of 1s. 2d. per cloth. The term custom was also applied to a tax paid by alien (foreign) merchants in addition to the standard tax of 'Subsidy' paid by all merchants. Custom for alien merchants amounted to 3d. in the £ -i.e. 1.25% of the nominal value of the goods.
d.: Pence.
den.: denizen (i.e. a resident of England, Wales or Ireland)
f.: Farthing.
measure: 32 measures of woad = 1 ton.
pipe: 2 pipes woad = 1 ton.
s.: Shilling.
sub.: Subsidy. A tax of one shilling in the £ on the value of all goods that paid the subsidy - i.e. 5% of the nominal value of the goods. This tax is also known as 'poundage'.
val.: Value. Note, this represents the nominal value of the goods according to the customs rates book. The real value might be somewhat different to the listed value.

Notes:

[1] Translated from the Latin (italics indicate suspensions): 'Navicula vocata le Mathewe de Bristol unde Edmundus Griffeth est magister exivit versus hibernia eodem die et habet intus eadem'.
[2] 'pann sine grano' = a woollen cloth of assize, 24 yards long x 2 yards wide, dyed without grain. The fact that the cloth was dyed without 'grain' (an expensive red dye) meant that it paid a lower rate of tax than cloth dyed with grain. By the sixteenth century almost all the cloth shipped from England was dyed without grain, so in this translation such cloth is simply listed as 'woollen cloth'.
[3] 'pilior tinct' = According to Longfield, Anglo-Irish Trade (1929), pp. 151-3, this is 'pilus tinctus', i.e. dyed cloth.  On the other hand, Carus-Wilson, Overseas Trade of Bristol (1937) p. 269, suggests it may stand for 'pilorum tinct' (dyed hair).
[4] 'alien' merchants paid an additional duty 'custom' equivalent to one quarter of the 'subsidy'.
[5] 'Hispan' = Spain. In this context almost always northern Spain, esp. the Basque provinces, from where Bristol ships brought back iron.
[6] A 'Dozen' is a short cloth (12 yards long) which paid half the custom of a standard cloth of assize.


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