The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Bridgwater Port Survey, 14 May 1565

Source: Transcribed by Evan Jones (2003)
Manuscript: PRO E159/350 hil, no. 336, r, v, seq.

Bridgewater. Articles to be ~
enquired upon towching the porte of Bridgewater in the
Countie of Somerset and the creekes belonginge to the same ~
porte Inprimis [1] whether the saide porte be commenly ~
frequented & haunted withe trafyque of marchaunts ~
& marchandises bothe inwarde & outwarde and ~
whether it be meete to be contynued for the said purpose/.
Item [2] whether the said porte be decayed & not so moche
frequented & haunted withe marchants & marchandises
as some of the creekes thereunto belonging nowe ~
comenly are and howe longe the same hathe bene ~
decayed and by what ocasion And if it be decayed ~ ~
whether it be necessary the same to be repaired And ~
what costes & charges therof wolde be./ Item [3] what
customes howse dothe belonge to the saide porte and ~
whose enheritance the same howse is, And if it be any
other then her majesties what yerely Rente is paide for the ~
same And howe commodiouse it standeth for the service ~
of her highnes there   And in what good state it ys of ~ ~
reparacions./.   Item [4] what nomber of creekes do belonge to the saide
porte and howe farre every of them be distante from others And
into what sheres every of the saide creekes doe extende ./. ~
Item [5] whiche of the saide creekes be most frequented and
haunted withe the trafique of merchants and merchandises ~
and are mete to be contynued for the same /. Item [6] whether ~
any of the saide creekes be decayed & not meete to be ~ ~ ~
contynued for trafique & howe longe the same hathe ~
bene decayed and by what occasion and whether it be ~ ~ ~

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necessary for the service of her majestie and for the commen ~ ~
wealthe of the countrey thereabouts to repaire the sayde ~
decayed creke & what the charges therof wilbe ./. Item [7] ~
what custome howses doe belonge to every of the saide creekes ~
and whoe are owners of thenheritance of the same And ~
what yerely rente her highnes standeth charged withe ~
for the same howse   And howe commodiously the same ~
howse standethe for the service of her majestie and in what ~ ~
state of reparacions it ys./   Item [8] what other howse or place ~
either where the saide porte is or where any of the saide ~
creekes be standeth more fytte & commodious for the better ~
service of her highnes then the howse or howses nowe used ~
for the same And whoe be the owner or owners of the ~
saide howse or places and what the value of them are ~
to be purchased or hired for her majestie./   Item [9] in howe many ~
of the saide creekes the customers of the saide port have had ~
deputies or servants that have taken entries bothe indwarde and ~
outwarde within tene yeres next before the first yere of her ~
majesties reigne   And who be presently their deputies there   And ~
howe longe they have so contynued/. Item [10] whether there ~
be any places within the lymyttes of the saide porte or ~ ~
severall creekes that wares or merchandizes be used to be ~
taken in, or discharged other then at the acustomed place of ~
the saide portes or creekes   And if there be any such places ~
howe longe the same hathe bene used for that purpose ~
And whether it be meete to contynue or dampne [i.e. supress] the same ~
for the better service of her majestie & of those parts yea or ~
not /. Item [11] what other places be within the said sheire
where wares merchandizes victualls or other commodities of the ~
Realme be transported into any of the parties of beyonde the sea ~
or to any porte or creeke within the Realme ./ Item [12] whether
any merchants or other that use to trafique beyond sea
or from porte to porte within the Realme have any ~ ~
warehowses or storehowses or any other device or meanes ~
nighe unto the porte or anye of the creekes or places where
ladyng or unladyng ys or hathe bene used to be whereby her
majestie hath bene or may be defrauded of her majesties duties and ~
customes ./

The Certyfycate of Henry Portman and ~ ~
William Hawley esquires commyssioners appointed by the quenes ~
majesties commyssioners to enquire survey examine doe & execute ~
and certifie all and singuler the thinges conteyned in ~
certen Articles to be enquired upon touchinge the porte ~
of Bridgewater in the county of Somerset and the creekes
belonginge to the same as it appered to the said Henry ~
and William as well by their owne vyewe as also by
the reporte of the Customer, Comptroller, Sercher and
other officers of the saide porte & creekes and the inhabitants
dwellinge there and nere thereabouts. Inprimis [1] the saide
Porte of Bridgewater is commonly frequented and hawnted ~ ~
withe trafyque of marchants and marchandizes bothe inwarde
& outwarde and is meete to be contynued for that purpose./ Itm [2]
the saide porte is frequented withe marchaunts as moche as it
hathe bene before this tyme or more as may appere by the ~
customers bookes there. And also the same is more frequented ~
and hawnted then any creeke belongine to the same porte
Itm there is a decaye at thende of the key of the same ~
porte whiche is like shortly to be the utter ruyng of the
same key yf spedy remedy be not had and hathe byn
amended before this tyme by Nicholas Halswell esquire ty__
the Quenes Majesties officer about foures past and the charges
thereof to be amended & well repaired will amounte to ~
the some of XV or thereabouts. So that stone may be ~
had for the reparacions thereof out of the olde decayed castell

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of Bridgewater aforesaid /. Item [3] there is no custome howse ~
belonginge to the saide porte other then suche that the ~ ~
customer dothe hyre from yere to yere for the whiche he ~ ~
hathe xxvi s. viii d. by the yere allowed hym in the ~ ~ ~
Exchequer. / Itm [4] there belongeth unto the same porte ~
too creekes viz Mynhedd & Axewater. And the said creeke ~
called Mynehedd is distant from the saide porte of Bridgewater
west by lande xvi myles and by water xxiiii myles. And the ~
saide creeke called Axewater is distant from the saide porte ~
of Bridgewater Northeast by lande x myles and by water
xv miles and doe extende only into the saide county of Somerset ~
Itm [5] the saide creekes of myneheadd and Axewater be ~ ~ ~
hawnted with vessels byinging in victualls salte wyne ~
coole and wood for whiche purpose they are fytte to be ~ ~
contynued for the commoditie of the countrye and are but little
frequented withe other marchandyse. / Itm [6] the saide ~
creekes of mynehed is decayed by a parocke whiche hathe ~
encreased within the weare withe stones for the ~ ~ ~
amendement whereof the inhabitants of mynehed are bounde ~
by their Charter and doe yerely travell thereupon /. Itm [7] there ~
belongeth not any Custome howse to any of the saide creekes ./
Itm [8] there is nere adjoynynge unto the key of the saide porte of ~
Brydgewater an olde decayed castell of the quenes majesty within ~
the walles thereof there is a Greene conteyning halfe an ~
Acre of grounde or thereabout the profytt whereof is taken ~
by the Constable of the saide castell whiche is a fytte ~
place for the buyldinge of a Customehouse and wilbe buylded
for xl so that there may be had convenient stone of the ~
saide decayed castell and tymber out of the Quenes majesties
wood called queens wood belonging thereunto /. Itm [9] the Customer
Comptroller and Sercher of the saide porte have contynually ~
eche of them a deputye at the side creeke of mynhedd ~
and so have had tyme out of mynde & doe and have ~ ~ ~
alwayes taken entries there bothe inwarde & outwardes. And ~
at this tyme Roberte Quyrke is deputye there to the ~
Customer Thomas Pers is deputy to the Comptroller & ~
William Beamont is deputy unto the Sercher.   And for the
purpose aforesaid the Customer dothe yerely hire a howse ~
there fore the yerely Rent of vi s viii d for the whiche he ~
hathe no allowance as he saithe ./ Itm [10] within the ~ ~
precyncte of the saide porte of Bridgwater there are three ~
other places whereof thone is called Wachet the seconde
Dunster Haven & the thirde Porlocke Baye where small ~
Botes have and doe use to come in with salte, ~
wyne, vyctualls, wood & coole for whiche purpose they are ~
fytte to be continued for the commoditie of the contrye ./
Itm [11] there are no other places within the Shire of Sommerset
where any wares merchandises or other commodities be ~ ~
transported laden or discharged /. Itm [12] there are noe places ~
or sellers warehouses nere unto the saide porte where ~
ladyng or unladyng is or hathe bene used whereby the ~
quenes majestie is defrauded of her custome asfarre as we ~
the saide commyssioners knowe or can lerne ./.

Notes:
A calendar of the above survey, based on another copy of the manuscript, can be found in: J.H. Bettey, 'Somerset ports and harbours, 1559 and 1565', Notes and Queries of Somerset and Dorset, 30 (1974-9), p. 15
Customer, Comptroller and Searcher: The Customer was the chief customs officer in the port, who collected the customs dues dues and recorded all entries and exits. The Comptroller (or controller) took an independent record of dues collected, as a way of keeping a check on the customer. The Searcher's job was to prevent smuggling outside the port.
Parocke: 'Parrock'. A fence or hurdles enclosing an area. From the answer given to question 6, it appears that a barrier, possibly a fish trap, was hindering passage into the harbour.


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