Early modern Chester 1550-1762: Introduction

Page 90

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 5 Part 1, the City of Chester: General History and Topography. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.

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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 extensive region.


  • 1. 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 A. M. Johnson for generously making available his unpublished thesis, 'Some Aspects of the Political, Constitutional, Social, and Economic History of the City of Chester, 1550-1662' (Oxf.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.
  • 2. A. R. Myres, 'Tudor Chester', J.C.A.S. lxiii. 53, 57.