Bristol University logo

Ireland-Bristol Trade in the Sixteenth Century
Department of History, University of Bristol

ESRC logo


Valid XHTML 1.0!

Home Page

Welcome to the website for the ESRC-funded project 'Ireland-Bristol trade in the sixteenth century' (RES-000-23-1461). This project ran from 1 January 2006 - 31 December 2008 in the Department of History at the University of Bristol. Following the submission of the End of Award Report in April 2009, the project was rated 'Outstanding' by all four of the ESRC's independent reviewers.

The project was set up to examine changes in the size and structure of Ireland's sixteenth-century trade with Bristol. It aimed to throw light on the development of the economy of southeast Ireland, which was then the most developed region of the country. The study extended the results of unpublished analyses by the project team. Their early work suggested that the economy of southeast Ireland became more commercially and industrially orientated during the first half of the sixteenth century. The project sought to determine the nature and scale of this expansion and to reveal when and why it came to an end. The project's provisional findings were presented at the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland Annual Conference (Dublin, November 2007), the Fifth International Congress of Martime History (Greenwich, June 2008) and at a conference hosted by the project:: 'The Celtic Sea World, 1400-1700', (Bristol, September 2008). The papers given by the project team are currently being developed into articles for submission to scholarly journals.

The main source for the study were the 'particular' customs accounts / Port Books of Bristol. These record what was the most important branch of Ireland's overseas trade in minute detail. Customs accounts covering eleven individual years, spaced across the sixteenth century, were inputted into EXCEL workbooks. These workbooks were published, in draft form, on the Datasets page of this website during the life of the project. They were then updated on a regular basis as new datasets were completed or as existing datasets were revised. Now that the project has finished, the final versions of the EXCEL spreadsheets have been published on the Bristol Repository of Scholarly Eprints (ROSE), along with a number of supporting documents. This data is invaluable for studying Irish trade because poor record in Ireland itself mean that no other economic records of equivalent merit survive there. The Bristol customs accounts thus constitute the best quantitative source that exists for examining Ireland's economic development in the sixteenth century. The data can also, of course, be used by scholars to study other aspects of Bristol's commerce, such as the city's trade with France, Spain and Portugal.

In addition to the EXCEL versions of the data, available online, the customs accounts have been published in print format, as Susan Flavin & Evan T, Jones (eds.), Bristol’s Trade with Ireland and the Continent: The Evidence of the Exchequer Customs Accounts (Dublin, 2009), 1,094 pp. ISBN 978-1-84682-0. Copies of two of the chapters are available below:

More recent outputs of the project, or outputs that use the project's data, include:

Full details on the background to this project and the team's aims and methodology can be found on the Research page.

Home  | ResearchDatasets  | Contacts