EARLY MODERN CHESTER 1550-1762
In 1550 Chester was a regional capital whose
trade and political importance to the government were
largely based on the city's links with Ireland. (fn. 1) Although
not one of the very largest provincial towns, it was the
only sizeable place in the North-West, and its standing
had recently been enhanced by the acquisition of
county status, a cathedral, and parliamentary representation. (fn. 2) The city declined over the following two
centuries, not in absolute terms, but in relation to
similar regional capitals and to other places in its own
region, especially Liverpool. A long blockade during
the Civil War, and the severe epidemic which immediately followed, were destructive only in the short
term, and Chester's long-term decline was caused more
by the loss to Liverpool of its position as the main port
for Ireland. The city, however, retained and in many
ways enhanced its standing as a cultural capital for an
||Thanks are offered to Dr. A. M. Johnson for generously
making available his unpublished thesis, 'Some Aspects of the
Political, Constitutional, Social, and Economic History of the
City of Chester, 1550-1662' (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1971).
What follows makes extensive use of his work.
||A. R. Myres, 'Tudor Chester', J.C.A.S. lxiii. 53, 57.