A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
To later historians the 18th century (fn. 1) seemed a placid, uneventful era for Gloucester. G. W. Counsel, writing in the 1820s, declared that 'no interesting event … occurred' between the visit of James II in 1687 and the visit of George III in 1788. (fn. 2) The apparently unremarkable nature of the period was emphasized both by the stirring events of the century that had preceded it and by the increased economic activity and growth in progress at the time when Counsel was writing.
There was certainly little evidence of growth during the first 70 or 80 years of the period covered by this chapter. Such new initiatives in the field of trade and industry as there were generally proved unsuccessful. There was hardly any physical expansion, and the population barely increased. The number of people living within the city boundary was estimated at c. 5,585 in 1743 (fn. 3) compared with an estimate of c. 4,990 in about 1710. (fn. 4) It is suggested that the level of population, which was reduced periodically by outbreaks of disease, notably a smallpox epidemic which killed 99 people in 1726, was maintained during the earlier 18th century only by immigration from the surrounding area. (fn. 5) In the later 18th century there was a modest increase and a figure of 7,579 people was returned in 1801. (fn. 6) In spite of the lack of growth, however, the city during the 18th century performed a dominant and varied role in the trade, communications, and social life of its region; its government, though principally under the control of the non-elective corporation, was carried on responsibly and reasonably efficiently; and substantial improvements were made to its buildings and streets.
After the Napoleonic Wars there were at last signs of progress. New initiatives culminated in 1827 in the opening of the Gloucester and Berkeley canal, which gave the city a major role in seagoing trade and laid the basis for its commercial and industrial expansion in the Victorian era. There was new building on the outskirts of the city, associated in particular with the development of a spa after 1814. The population began a steady increase. Within the city boundary it rose from 8,280 in 1811 to 9,744 in 1821 and to 11,933 in 1831; in the adjoining hamlets, some of which were affected by new building, it rose from 1,819 in 1811 to 4,249 in 1831. (fn. 7)
Economic Development 1720–91
Gloucester's economy remained on a plateau during the 18th century. The city kept its dominance of the north Gloucestershire region, which it supplied with products acquired through the river trade and with services such as banking. It was also the hub of the developing road transport system of the region. Pinmaking remained the most significant manufacturing industry, though woolstapling and other industries also gave employment in the second half of the century. There was, however, little growth in the economy, and to some observers that seemed at variance with the city's geographical advantages: a visitor in the 1750s commented on the failure of the inhabitants 'to make the most of their advantageous situation for trade'. (fn. 8) Because of the problems of navigation on the lower Severn Gloucester remained under the commercial dominance of Bristol, and some new enterprises that were attempted were thwarted by competition from Bristol.
In the early 18th century most of Gloucester's inhabitants were employed in providing for the household needs of the city and its region. (fn. 9) In the decade 1720–9 half of all apprentices registered joined the clothing trades (28 per cent), the processors of food and drink (13 per cent), and those engaged in distributive trades and transport (9 per cent). Similarly, those categories accounted during the decade for 54 per cent of men admitted as freemen on completion of apprenticeship. The other main categories attracting apprentices were then metal working (18 per cent), mainly pinmaking, and the building and allied trades (14 per cent), boosted by the rebuilding of many houses in brick at the period. (fn. 10) The individual trades attracting the highest number of apprentices are listed in Table IV.
The pattern of employment remained broadly similar throughout the century, though the further development of pinmaking and the establishment of woolstapling may have increased the proportion involved in manufacturing. A trades directory of 1791 (by no means a comparable source to the apprentice registers, for it listed only master craftsmen and tradesmen and included many trades outside the apprenticeship system) recorded the most numerous groups of tradesmen, as shown in Table V.
A total of 120 different trades and professions was represented in 1791, (fn. 11) reflecting the wide-ranging functions of the city and its paramount position in the economy of Gloucestershire. The two middle-sized market towns, Cirencester and Tewkesbury, then mustered 70 and 60 different trades respectively, and the growing leisure resort of Cheltenham 50. (fn. 12)
At the start of the period members of the distributive trades still provided a high proportion of the most wealthy and influential citizens. (fn. 13) At the beginning of the civic year 1720–1 the bench of aldermen included 3 mercers, a draper, and an ironmonger, and the common councilmen included 4 mercers, 4 grocers, and a draper. (fn. 14) The dominance of that group was weakened in the middle of the century by the rise to prominence of men from the pinmaking and woolstapling industries, but it remained an important element in the city. John Blanch of Barton Street, who left £950 for local charitable and religious purposes at his death in 1756, (fn. 15) and Samuel Burroughs (d. 1763), who acquired a considerable fortune and lands in several surrounding parishes, (fn. 16) were among wealthy drapers of the mid century. Grocers were represented on the aldermanic bench by Richard Webb and his son John in the 1760s and 1770s. (fn. 17) It was mainly mercers and grocers who, in the late years of the century, established the city's banks. (fn. 18)
The city's function as a supplier of goods to its region and the livelihood of the leading wholesalers, particularly wine merchants, grocers, ironmongers, and timber merchants, depended largely on the trade on the river Severn. Much of the economic activity was linked directly to goods brought up river from Bristol and down river from the industrial West Midlands.
From Bristol were brought the traditional imports of that city, wine and citrus fruits from Spain and Portugal, sugar and tobacco from the West Indies, and timber from the Baltic, as well as Bristol's own products of brass wire (used in the pinmaking industry), lead shot, glass bottles, and occasionally Hotwells water. Also carried up the river to Gloucester, though for the most part transhipped at the creeks such as Gatcombe, were goods from South Wales, particularly coal from Neath (Glam.) and Tenby (Pemb.) used by the city's maltsters, and copper and iron from Neath and Swansea (Glam.). On their voyages down river to Bristol the Gloucester trows carried such local products as malt, cheese, cider, pins, and leather, together with some goods, including Manchester wares and pottery, from up river. Wool from the Cotswolds and further afield was another regular item in the cargoes; in 1747 a Gloucester wharfinger John Harmar was acting as agent for Kidderminster (Worcs.), Birmingham, Winchcombe, and Cirencester suppliers. In some years, depending on the state of the export trade, large quantities of grain were shipped down. (fn. 19)
In the cargoes brought down the Severn to Gloucester the principal item was coal from the Staffordshire and Shropshire colleries, then the city's main source of supply; (fn. 20) the relatively undeveloped Forest of Dean coalfield was resorted to only when navigation of the river was impeded by lack of water in times of drought or by icing in severe winters. (fn. 21) Coalyards at the quay and at some of the inns supplied both the city and its region; in 1744 a yard at the Black Spread Eagle, in lower Northgate Street, stocked coal for collection by wagons from the Cotswolds. (fn. 22) It was the city's role as a supplier of coal to the Cotswolds that caused the corporation to oppose the schemes for a Strondwater canal in 1730 and 1759. (fn. 23)
Other goods brought from the West Midlands were ironware from Coalbrookdale (Salop.), bricks and tiles from Stourbridge (Worcs.), Bewdley (Worcs.), and Worcester, (fn. 24) and Staffordshire pottery, which a man from Newcastle under Lyme was selling at the quay in 1773. (fn. 25) Droitwich salt was another regular item. (fn. 26) A Worcester trow owner was supplying it to country chapmen at the quay in 1727 (fn. 27) and a Droitwich salt merchant set up business there in 1755. (fn. 28) Three salt merchants were trading in the city in 1791. (fn. 29) Manchester goods, for which a warehouse was opened at Gloucester in 1758, (fn. 30) were also brought down by the trows.
The sale of iron and ironwares, brought from Coalbrookdale, the Forest of Dean, and South Wales, provided a good livelihood for a number of Gloucester men, who usually acted also as general wharfingers. Rowland Pytt, who held ironworks at Lydney and Lydbrook on lease from the early 1740s, (fn. 31) traded as an ironmonger from Gloucester quay. Pytt (d. 1755) also had interests in tinworks in Glamorganshire, and his son-in-law William Coles, (fn. 32) one of two ironmongers based at the quay in 1757, (fn. 33) employed a number of vessels in bringing copper, pig iron, tinplate, and coal from Swansea and Neath and coal from Tenby. Coles later settled at Cadoxton, near Neath, but continued his trade to the quay, (fn. 34) which after his death in 1779 was taken on by his son John (d. 1799). (fn. 35) Other ironmongers included John Ellis (d. 1758), who was succeeded by his son Robert and grandson Anthony, (fn. 36) and John Quarington (d. 1790) and his two sons. Both the Ellises and Quaringtons were engaged to some extent in manufacture, employing men at Gloucester in nailmaking. (fn. 37)
Dealing in timber was another activity directly connected with the river trade. John Pasco, builder and deal merchant, and his partner, Barnabas Gunn, the cathedral organist, occupied a former sugar house beside the river in 1736, (fn. 38) and Pasco and Cornelius Gardiner were importing large quantities of timber from the Baltic in the 1750s. (fn. 39) The most durable business proved to be that founded by Morgan Price, who opened a warehouse in 1756 and with a partner was importing Baltic deals in 1771; (fn. 40) he was succeeded at his death in 1776 by his son William. (fn. 41) The timber merchants were also the city's chief builders at the period. Members of the Roberts family, timber merchants and carpenters, (fn. 42) were regularly employed by the corporation during the middle years of the century, (fn. 43) and William Price was employed in the 1780s to build new markets and St. Bartholomew's Hospital. (fn. 44)
The sale of imported wines and spirits supported a number of other Gloucester businesses. Benjamin Saunders, landlord of the King's Head, was trading in wine by 1731, (fn. 45) and was succeeded at his death in 1763 by his son Abraham; both became aldermen. (fn. 46) Four wine merchants and four brandy merchants were active in the city in 1791. (fn. 47)
Few imported goods or goods from coastal ports came directly to the quay. In 1732 Thomas Yerbury planned to operate a brig between London and Gloucester (fn. 48) and a brig with Tenby coal was at the quay in 1754, (fn. 49) but few seagoing craft came so far up river and by 1791 the voyage had come to be regarded as impossible. (fn. 50) Some goods for the city were transhipped at the creeks of the port of Gloucester: Gatcombe was used for the South Wales trade (fn. 51) and from the 1750s Newnham merchants carried goods to and from London for Gloucester tradesmen. (fn. 52) Chepstow (Mon.) was used as a transhipment port by Gloucester's timber merchants. (fn. 53) Most goods, however, passed through Bristol, with which Gloucester trow owners maintained a regular connexion. In the 1720s and 1730s the principal owners were Richard Lewis and Francis Owen, who made the voyage each month at the spring tide, (fn. 54) and a similar pattern evidently continued later. (fn. 55) Other Gloucester men operated barges and wherries (which carried passengers) up river to Worcester (fn. 56) but the more distant carrying up river was almost entirely in the hands of owners from such places as Bridgnorth (Salop.), Bewdley, and Stourport (Worcs.). (fn. 57)
The restrictions on foreign and coastal trade imposed by the problem of navigating the lower Severn prevented any major enlargement in Gloucester's trading position. Among new schemes which foundered was an attempt in 1723 by John Blanch of Wotton to make Gloucester a centre for marketing and shipping cloth produced in the Stroud and Dursley areas and in West Midland towns. (fn. 58) The almost total lack of foreign trade made the separate Gloucester port area appear merely a hindrance. Owners of vessels from up river objected to having to take out cockets to clear the port on their way to Bristol and Bridgwater (Som.), on the grounds that their voyages were not into the open sea; they secured legal opinions in their favour in 1789 and 1792. (fn. 59)
Road communications also had a significant role in Gloucester's economy, particularly in the later 18th century as the city began to benefit from the improvements achieved belatedly by local turnpike trusts. The original Act of 1698 for the Northgate roads had been allowed to expire and a new one was acquired in 1723 with the aid of a loan from the city corporation. Of the two important routes covered by the Act, that up Birdlip Hill, leading to Lechlade and Abingdon (Berks.), then still ranked as the main London road, but that up Crickley Hill, leading to Burford (Oxon.) and Oxford, (fn. 60) was used as an alternative way to London by the 1730s (fn. 61) and later became the main London coach road. (fn. 62) The other main roads leading from the city were brought under the turnpike system in 1726. One Act covered the western road towards Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.) and Hereford, with various branches towards Chepstow, Newent, and Worcester (then reached through Upton upon Severn), (fn. 63) and another Act covered the southern road towards Bristol, with its branch towards Bath by way of Frocester Hill, and the eastern road through Upton St. Leonards to Painswick and Stroud. (fn. 64) An Act acquired in 1756 with the active support of the corporation turnpiked the Cheltenham road, branching out of the London road at Wotton Pitch, and the Tewkesbury road (fn. 65) which, out of various routes formerly used, became established as that via Prior's Norton and Coombe Hill. (fn. 66)
In their early years the local turnpike trusts were ineffective and the dissatisfaction of road users sometimes erupted in violence. The toll gate by Over bridge on the western road was pulled down on several occasions in the early 1730s, (fn. 67) and in 1734 a mob destroyed the gates at all the approaches to the city. (fn. 68) A more energetic policy by the trusts is evident from the 1760s. The new Northgate trustees under a renewal of the Act in 1761 experimented with new methods of roadbuilding and publicized their efforts through annual reports. (fn. 69) The trustees of the western roads were active in widening and altering parts of their routes in the late 1760s. (fn. 70) The roads also benefited in the late 18th century from more durable materials acquired by the trustees: slag from the Bristol copper works was introduced c. 1769, (fn. 71) and from c. 1783 roadstone from quarries in the Avon gorge near Bristol and the Wye near Chepstow became one of the main cargoes carried up river to Gloucester quay. (fn. 72)
In 1722 a coach ran from Gloucester to London once a week, taking three days on the journey. A mercer, John Harris, was the Gloucester partner in that concern (fn. 73) until 1753. (fn. 74) It was taken on by John Turner, (fn. 75) who was the leading Gloucester coachmaster during the next 25 years, though on his London route he had a rival in Thomas Pruen of the Bell inn by 1774. (fn. 76) Turner's business apparently passed to Paine & Co., who with Isaac Thompson, landlord of the King's Head, were partners in the first London mailcoach, introduced in August 1785. Within a few weeks, however, the contract was transferred to John Phillpotts, landlord of the Bell. (fn. 77) In 1791 the mail and a London coach of Paine & Co. ran on six days a week. (fn. 78)
Coaches to Bristol and Bath ran twice a week in the 1720s, (fn. 79) and in 1733 John Harris and a rival operator were running the Bristol coaches. (fn. 80) By the 1780s Bristol coaches left the city two or three times a day. (fn. 81) The first coach from Gloucester into Wales was apparently that to Brecon established by John Turner in 1756; its arrival in Abergavenny was greeted by the ringing of the church bells, (fn. 82) but the service proved unprofitable and was later discontinued, being revived c. 1764. (fn. 83) In 1785 John Phillpotts introduced a service to Milford Haven to connect with the Irish packets. (fn. 84) Worcester and Birmingham coaches were being run in 1773 (fn. 85) and a Coventry coach was established in 1791. (fn. 86)
Wagons to London, taking four days on the journey, were being run in 1729 by Robert Arnold. (fn. 87) His widow sold the business to Samuel Manning in 1755 when there were two other Gloucester carriers operating on the London route. (fn. 88) Manning was succeeded in 1787 by his book keeper Rowland Heane (fn. 89) who sent wagons to London twice a week in 1791 and also ran a weekly wagon into South Wales. (fn. 90) On more local routes, to Bristol, Worcester, and Ledbury (Herefs.), some carriers continued to operate with strings of packhorses until the middle of the century, (fn. 91) but by the 1740s there were also wagons, run by Samuel Manning, to Bristol, Worcester, Birmingham, and Coventry. (fn. 92) Connexions with the Stroud valleys, important for Gloucester's woolstaplers, were also regularly maintained. Manning's Bristol wagon went by way of Stroud and Minchinhampton in 1773. (fn. 93)
The city's inns benefited from the volume of travelling through the city. Apart from some of the larger inns which operated coach services, others found a specialized role in road transport. The Three Cocks claimed in 1724 to be the usual lodging place for clergy travelling between Oxford and South Wales; (fn. 94) the Lamb put up Hereford and Monmouth carriers on their weekly journeys to London; (fn. 95) and the Black Spread Eagle offered grazing for the cattle of passing Welsh drovers in 1744. (fn. 96) The custom of commercial travellers had significance for some inns by the 1770s and at least one, the Lower George, later concentrated on providing accommodation for that group. (fn. 97)
Gloucester's role as a market for produce and livestock also remained a steady source of livelihood. Many neighbouring villagers, including in the 1750s between 30 and 50 country butchers, (fn. 98) had their stalls and standings in the weekly produce markets, and congestion of the streets led to the building of two new market places in 1786. Gloucester remained the principal corn market for the county. The four annual fairs also continued, though the importance of Barton Fair for the sale of cheese from the Vale of Gloucester declined at the end of the period as travelling factors increased their operations. (fn. 99) Enough, however, was sold in the city to employ three cheesemongers in 1791. (fn. 100) The marketing of cider from Severnside orchards also employed some citizens during the period, (fn. 101) and Severn salmon continued to be sold through Gloucester in the 1750s when it was carried to London by fast fish-carts run by the coachmaster John Turner. (fn. 102) Market and nursery gardens, supplying the needs of the city, were a feature of the inner suburbs, in the London road, in lower Southgate Street, and at Chapel House. (fn. 103) James Wheeler, a Gloucester nurseryman who published the Botanist's and Gardener's New Dictionary in 1763, (fn. 104) was followed in the business by several generations of his family. (fn. 105)
Gloucester's chief manufacturing industry during the period was pinmaking. (fn. 106) In the early 18th century it was an expanding trade, attracting many new apprentices: 32 were registered in the years 1710–19, 41 in 1720–9, and 49 in 1730–9. (fn. 107) In 1744 it was said to bring c. £300 a week into the city, and in the early 1770s it was estimated that c. £20,000 a year was earned from sales in London, (fn. 108) the chief market for Gloucester pins. The later 18th century was probably the most profitable time for the industry, indicated by the accession of five pinmakers to the bench of aldermen between 1768 and 1785. Among them were John Jefferies (d. 1778) and his son John, who were successively partners of Thomas Weaver (fn. 109) in one of the most successful firms; it was selected to be visited by George III when he came to the city in 1788. (fn. 110) Another business was run by the Cowcher family, including Alderman William Cowcher (d. 1785), and there were a number of smaller firms, making a total of nine in 1791. (fn. 111)
Gloucester's main contribution to the textile trades in the period was through woolstapling and woolcombing. Established on a small scale by the 1720s, (fn. 112) woolstapling was apparently a growing trade in 1752 when a house was advertised as suitable for a woolstapler, (fn. 113) and stapling and combing were mentioned in 1755 among the 'new trades' which were to be allowed to register apprentices in the same way as the old company trades. (fn. 114) Several men came to prominence through woolstapling, the first to become aldermen being John and Edward Baylis in 1760. The case of Alderman John Bush, who died in 1781 leaving over £8,000 among his relatives, indicates the substantial profits to be made in the trade at the period. (fn. 115) Nine woolstaplers and two woolcombers were in business in the city in 1791. (fn. 116)
Gloucester's involvement in the making of woollen cloth had almost lapsed by the early 18th century. (fn. 117) When a Woodchester clothier Benjamin Gegg began to operate new fulling and napping mills in Barton Street in 1741 there were hopes of a revival, (fn. 118) but his business is not found recorded later and was possibly the only venture into those branches of clothmaking during the period. A few weavers continued to work in the city, however, (fn. 119) and dyeing was being carried on at a dyehouse in the Island in 1755 (fn. 120) and at Morin's Mill, in Brook Street, from 1782. (fn. 121)
The malting industry was of considerable importance. Numerous malthouses operated during the 18th century, many of them in the Island where they were conveniently situated for shipping malt to Bristol and for taking in supplies of Tenby malting coal. (fn. 122) Three city aldermen followed the trade in 1720 (fn. 123) but there were no later recruits to the bench from it, though it remained a major industry. In 1791 there were 18 maltsters in the city, most combining the business with some other trade. (fn. 124)
Ropemaking and sackmaking provided some employment. Richard Evans, presumably a successor of the man of the same name recorded in the trade in 1731, (fn. 125) was carrying on an extensive ropemaking business at his death in 1781; (fn. 126) he was succeeded by his nephew Luke Church. (fn. 127) In 1791 ropemaking was listed with pinmaking, woolstapling, and malting as the city's chief trades, though the businesses of Church and another man were then the only two. (fn. 128) Brushmaking, established in the city by 1730, (fn. 129) was included among the new trades that were coming to the fore in 1755, (fn. 130) and there were three brushmakers in 1791. (fn. 131) The making of edgetools was introduced from Cirencester c. 1759 by William Cox. (fn. 132) Among older trades brickmaking continued in the meadows on Alney Island. (fn. 133) In the late 18th century bricklayers and builders owned a works at Pool Meadow and also dealt in bricks and tiles shipped from the West Midlands. Limekilns were operated at Pool Meadow (fn. 134) and at the quay. (fn. 135)
At the Gloucester bell foundry Abraham Rudhall (d. 1736) was joined by his son Abraham (d. 1735), and the business was later carried on by the younger Abraham's son Abel (d. 1760). (fn. 136) Francis Tyler ran the business for some years during the minority of Abel's son (fn. 137) Thomas, after whose death in 1783 the foundry in Oxbode Lane was run by his brother Charles and half-brother John. (fn. 138) The firm established a near monopoly of the local church trade as well as supplying bells further afield. In 1789 John Rudhall claimed that 4,000 church bells had been cast by the firm in its hundred years of existence. (fn. 139)
Industries which had a more spasmodic existence were glassmaking and sugar refining. Two glasshouses were apparently in production in the early 1720s, the large conical building at the quay and one north of the Foreign bridge; the latter was then occupied by a member of the Wilcox family, who had permission to take boats to it up Dockham ditch. (fn. 140) In 1740 the glasshouse at the quay was taken on by a partnership consisting of six Gloucester tradesmen (four of them grocers), Henry Powell, a Bristol bottle maker, and John Platt of Bristol who was to manage the business; the partners put a sum of £1,500 into the firm. (fn. 141) The following year glass bottles, pickling and butter pots, and melon glasses were being produced, (fn. 142) but the venture came to an end in 1744 after the death of Platt and some of the other partners. (fn. 143) The great glasshouse was evidently in production again in 1778 when a Gloucester wharfinger offered glass bottles for sale as cheap as at the glasshouse. (fn. 144) No later record of glassmaking has been found, and its failure to get firmly established was later attributed to Bristol competition. (fn. 145) A sugar house for refining imported sugar was in operation in the Island in 1722. (fn. 146) In 1729, however, the refiner John Pinfold moved his business to Bristol and a group of Bristol refiners took over the Gloucester premises for warehousing sugar destined for the Midlands. (fn. 147) In the late 1750s the sugar house was once more put to work refining, (fn. 148) but it was for sale in 1760 (fn. 149) and that venture too was later said to have been ended by the manoeuvres of Bristol refiners. (fn. 150)
Another industry which failed to establish itself was shipbuilding. Three partners planned to open a yard at the quay for building trows and other vessels in 1755, (fn. 151) but the business is not recorded later and shipbuilding was not revived until the early 19th century.
The supply of luxury goods and services to the gentry of the surrounding countryside and to wealthy citizens employed many Gloucester tradesmen. They included booksellers (notably the aldermen Gabriel Harris (d. 1744) and his son Gabriel), (fn. 152) printers (of whom Robert Raikes and William Dicey, founders of the Gloucester Journal in 1722, are the earliest known), (fn. 153) sellers of musical instruments, (fn. 154) dancing masters, miniature painters, an engraver (Thomas Bonnor, fl. 1763, 1807), gunsmiths, (fn. 155) makers of hunting saddles, (fn. 156) and coach builders (including a business carried on for many years from the 1760s by the Marsh family); (fn. 157) there were also the more numerous watchmakers, wigmakers, milliners, and hairdressers. (fn. 158) Some men, including jewellers and silversmiths of the Jewish community established in the city from c. 1764, (fn. 159) travelled out into the surrounding area in search of customers. Henry Whittick, described in 1791 as a hairdresser, perfumer, and umbrella maker, (fn. 160) visited race meetings in the county and as far afield as Cardiff and Cowbridge (Glam.) with an assortment of luxury goods ranging from jewellery to guns. (fn. 161) The gentry attracted to Gloucester's own race meeting and the triennial music meeting increased the trade of such men and also brought an influx of hairdressers and other travelling tradesmen. (fn. 162)
At the end of the period banking became one of the principal services that Gloucester supplied to its region. James Wood's bank was continued after his death in 1761, together with his mercer's business, by his son Richard. (fn. 163) A goldsmith Thomas Price also acted as a banker in 1747 and until at least 1758. (fn. 164) The grocers Samuel Niblett and his son John were in business as bankers by 1783 (fn. 165) and are said to have begun as travelling bankers, visiting markets and fairs in the region. In 1789 they were joined in partnership (in what was known as the Old Bank) by James Jelf, a man who, unusually, came into banking by apprenticeship rather than from another trade. (fn. 166) Another banker by 1785 was John Turner (fn. 167) who later took into partnership the mercer Edwin Jeynes. The mercer Merrot Stephens was also a banker by 1791, bringing the number of banks in the city to four. (fn. 168)
Lawyers continued to be a strong element in the city. Fourteen Gloucester attorneys were mentioned in the 1720s, (fn. 169) and 16 attorneys and 2 barristers were practising there in 1791. (fn. 170) The various administrative bodies which, besides private practice, gave employment to such men are indicated in the career of Thomas Stephens (d. 1723), who was registrar of the diocese, clerk of the peace for the county, and town clerk of the city. (fn. 171) Few lawyers, however, sought a role on the corporation at the period. An exception was William Lane who was deputy town clerk in the 1770s (fn. 172) and later became an alderman; he bought farms in Lea (Herefs. and Glos.) and English Bicknor and at his death in 1789 left £1,000 to endow a charity school in his native Mitcheldean. (fn. 173)
The medical needs of the inhabitants of the city and its region were supplied in the earlier 18th century mainly by apothecaries, who numbered at least ten in 1739; several achieved the rank of alderman. There were apparently no more than two qualified physicians in the earlier 18th century (fn. 174) but the number of physicians and surgeons increased later, encouraged partly by the founding of the Gloucester Infirmary in 1755. (fn. 175)