A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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In this section
- HULL IN THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES
HULL IN THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES
Politics and the Reformation, p. 90. Religious Life, 1558–1642, p. 95. Military Affairs, 1558–1642, p. 98. Parliamentary Representation to 1640, p. 100. Politics and the Civil War, p. 102. Religious Life, 1642–60, p. 107. Religious Life after 1660, p. 109. Political and Military Affairs after 1660, p. 112. The Charters, p. 117. Town Government, p. 120. The Port, p. 130. Trade and Shipping, p. 132. Merchants and Mariners, p. 141. Economy, p. 148. Population and Social Conditions, p. 154. Topography, p. 166.
Politics and the Reformation
The reign of Henry VIII began quietly in Hull. The Earl of Northumberland's local inquiry into the misdeeds of Empson and Dudley seems to have caused no stir, and from 1500 until 1536 the town played little part in English political history. (fn. 1) Intermittently it was called upon to supply men, money, and more especially victuals and ships for the royal campaigns against Scotland, but such burdens had been imposed before, and there is no sign of any refusal to discharge them. (fn. 2) Similarly, traditional religion was rarely disturbed. Habitual piety rather than heterodoxy or change is suggested by the wills of the period, with their conventional bequests for church fabrics, the friars, the provision of lights and ornaments, and for the saying of obits and dirges to aid the souls of wealthy townsmen. (fn. 3) Some of these legacies were administered by the corporation itself. In 1534 the corporation also appointed a new chaplain for Corpus Christi guild, in Holy Trinity Church. A chantry was founded at St. Mary's in 1521, and two years later the existing guild of St. George was incorporated at Holy Trinity Church. (fn. 4) Even an unexplained interdict imposed on the latter church in 1522 seems to have had nothing to do with heretical clergy, as some local historians have suggested. (fn. 5) Nevertheless, there are isolated indications that in Hull, as elsewhere, beneath the surface orthodoxy was being questioned by ordinary people. In 1528 Robert Robynson, a Hull seaman or trader, was forced by the Archbishop's court to abjure his Lollard opinions and to perform prolonged penances in York, as well as in the market-place at Hull and in Holy Trinity Church. It appeared that Robynson and several shipmates had witnessed Lutheran worship in Bremen, and although they had probably not understood the service they had perhaps bragged too loudly of their adventures, thus falling foul of the diocesan authorities who examined their beliefs. Another Hull man in the same party possessed a copy of Tyndale's New Testament, and this was confiscated. This case provides an example of early Protestantism in a sea-faring community, some members of which had access to Reforming literature and opinions both on the Continent and in other parts of England. (fn. 6)
Such unorthodoxy was probably confined to a very small number at this time. The majority seem to have been conservative in their religion but acquiescent in the Henrician breach with Rome. Indeed, in 1535 the Archdeacon of the East Riding reported that all men in Hull, including the corporation and the monks of the Charterhouse, were well inclined to the king's proceedings and 'quiet and comfortable' to his pleasure. (fn. 7) The corporation, however, showed some independence in the following year by selling its plate to meet certain public expenses, including the repair of both churches, thus forestalling the anticipated confiscation of its valuables by the Crown. (fn. 8) When the royal commissioners visited the Charterhouse in 1536 they discovered that, while the inmates were submissive to the king's will, they all wished to remain in their Order. The house was, moreover, warmly commended by local people for the quality of its life and hospitality, and because of this testimony it was spared; (fn. 9) two recalcitrant monks from the London Charterhouse were sent there in the vain hope that the Carthusians of Hull could persuade them to take the royal oaths. (fn. 10)
Whatever religious divisions and uncertainties existed at this time were reflected in the ambivalent attitude of the town to the Pilgrimage of Grace. In the late summer of 1536 local resistance to the king, according to contemporaries, was stimulated by the currency of a garbled account of the corporation's sale of plate. (fn. 11) After the outbreak of the insurrection in the East Riding some of the gentry fled to Hull and prepared to defend it for Henry, though it was suspected that they did so against the wishes of the mayor and townspeople. These suspicions were heightened when the corporation began to treat with the insurgents about assisting them. The latter were uncertain of the corporation's good faith and held three of its messengers as hostages while the negotiations were transferred to Hull, where the discussions became heated. The corporation equivocated, showing hostility to rebel leaders and saying it would hold the town for the king, but promising to allow townsmen to join the Pilgrims. This news aroused much anger among the rebels who straightway laid siege to Hull on 15 October. Here, as in other places during the revolt, motives far removed from religion had come into play. The East Riding men, especially those from Beverley, resented the town's advancing trade and its monopoly of the navigation of the River Hull, and these grievances prompted a perhaps natural wish to destroy the shipping in the haven. Rebel leaders and two loyalist gentlemen, Sir Ralph Ellerker and Sir William Constable, had a fruitless meeting at the Charterhouse, where the gentlemen professed themselves ready to join the Pilgrimage, admitting that many townsmen would also come in. The insurgents were reinforced on 19 October and threatened to assault the town. In face of this danger Aldermen Eland and Knowles were sent to yield the town to the Pilgrims, who were admitted the next day on the sole condition that no one should be obliged to take their oath. How many did so is not known, but it is possible that the presence in Hull of a substantial body of sympathizers, mentioned by Ellerker and Constable, may have helped to undermine the corporation's will to hold out, though it subsequently excused its conduct by pleading the fear of fire, starvation, and the destruction of shipping. As in the parallel case of York the king wrote to thank the corporation for its resistance on the day following the surrender. (fn. 12)
When the main force of the Pilgrims departed a garrison of 200 men was left behind and, after a visit by Robert Aske himself, Sir Robert Constable took command, repaired the walls, and requisitioned ships and customs money to assist the defence of the rebels' position. The corporation later maintained that all this was done without its approval. Constable held the town in the name of the Pilgrimage until the rising was dispersed early in December. Thereupon the government agreed to release impounded Hull ships, and the king issued a pardon for the town on receiving from the corporation assurances of its loyalty. (fn. 13)
This was soon put to the test. During the weeks of alarm and uncertainty following the collapse of the revolt in Yorkshire it was rumoured that the king, with the approval of the corporation and local gentry, intended to make Hull into a stronghold which would overawe the commons of the East Riding. In the hope of preventing this Sir Francis Bigod plotted with John Hallam to seize both Hull and Scarborough, for Bigod had grasped the crucial importance of seaports in a Yorkshire rebellion and saw that these places could be used as 'security towns' against royal oppression. In the early days of January 1537 he and Hallam began to raise men for their purpose. Hallam then set off to surprise Hull but when he arrived in the town incognito on 16 January he had fewer men with him than expected because his orders had miscarried and, sensing danger, he tried to make good his escape. His intentions had, however, already been betrayed to the mayor by some of his own party, and members of the corporation acted promptly on this warning: orders to shut the gates were issued, Hallam was challenged, and after a short scuffle he was arrested near Beverley Gate by Aldermen Knowles and Eland, who were no doubt eager to redeem themselves for their poor showing in the previous autumn. A last desperate threat to Hull by Bigod himself was beaten off when he was routed at Beverley by Sir Francis Ellerker with a force of loyalists. (fn. 14) The corporation lost no time in informing the king of its loyal action and was not only thanked but was entrusted with the task of seeking out and interrogating the remaining rebels. After a flurry of inquiries and allegations Hallam and two other ringleaders were hanged at Hull early in February, the two obdurate Carthusians from London were executed in May, and in July Sir Robert Constable, Aske's 'ruler' of Hull, was hanged in chains outside Beverley Gate as a discouragement to others. This completed the tale of royal vengeance, and Hull shared in the free and general pardon for the north proclaimed in the same month; (fn. 15) Knowles and Eland were rewarded with annuities. (fn. 16)
The dissolution of the friaries and the remaining monasteries in 1538–9 was accomplished peacefully. Although local people had been strongly attached to the Charterhouse, such conservative loyalties did not deter some of them from becoming purchasers or lessees of religious property. The priory itself remained in the hands of courtiers and local officials, but townsmen including the Kemsey family leased the Augustinian Friary, and Alderman Henry Thurscross secured much of the property of the Carmelites. A less tangible link with the religious houses was maintained by the appointment of Robert Pursglove as suffragan bishop of Hull in 1538; he was the ex-prior of Guisborough, to which the parish of Hessle (including Holy Trinity, Hull) had been appropriated. (fn. 17)
One of the measures of pacification after the emergency of 1536–7 was the reorganization of the Council in the North, and until 1556 Hull was one of its regular meetingplaces. (fn. 18) The more settled condition of the region under the Council's government was signalized by the arrival of Henry VIII in the north in 1541. He paid two brief visits to Hull, where he was enthusiastically received by the populace: the mayor made a fulsome address, and the royal party enjoyed sumptuous hospitality. In return the king took a significant interest in the town, intervened in the mayoral election to cast his vote for Sir John Eland, and promised a charter to Trinity House. (fn. 19) Moreover, it is likely that the Crown had already recognized the potential importance of Hull as a fortified base in the north, with access to the sea, for in 1539 it acquired the 'manor' of Hull and other local property from Sir William Sydney. (fn. 20) Henry took the opportunity provided by his visit to make further dispositions about the defences, inspecting the walls and towers, calling for improvements, and promising a contribution to the expenses. As a result of what they had seen the king and his advisers decided to construct the castle and blockhouses on the east side of the haven, assuring the citizens that these works were for their defence and formed no threat to their privileges. Building began soon afterwards and arrangements were made for a garrison under the command of Sir Richard Long as captain and Michael (later Sir Michael) Stanhope as lieutenant. (fn. 21)
The erection of the castle and blockhouses consolidated the good relations between Hull and Henry VIII and enhanced considerably the traditional worth of the town as a military and naval base. (fn. 22) In this role it figured prominently in the warlike activities of the early 1540s, when it was repeatedly called upon to fit out ships for expeditions to Calais and the Scottish wars. Some of these sailed under royal orders with men, horses, and supplies, others went 'at their own adventure' to harry French and Scottish shipping in the North Sea. (fn. 23) In 1546 Stanhope, who had been very active in these arrangements, was made governor, though not without some opposition from leading townsmen who feared the implications of this title. (fn. 24) Subsequently there was some friction with the town authorities about their rights, (fn. 25) but towards the end of 1551 the disgrace and arrest of Stanhope (who as Somerset's brother-in-law had troubles of his own with Northumberland's government) allowed the problem to be considered afresh. (fn. 26) A solution was found in the extensive grant of March 1552 which gave the corporation the custody of the castle and blockhouses, as well as manorial rights and properties to meet the cost of repairs. (fn. 27) This confirmed Hull as a place trusted by the Tudor monarchy, and with the growing importance of sea power the town consolidated its position as the 'key of the north', (fn. 28) as later experience was to prove.
No disturbances resulted from the Edwardian confiscation of the chantries and church plate and the removal of images. Most of the chantries in Hull had already suffered a great decline in the value of their endowments which made them attractive only to the humbler clergy: one priest who was the schoolmaster had £10, but the average yearly income was only about £5 and four of the stipends had to be subsidized by the corporation. None of the ten chantry priests in 1548 was a pluralist. Only one, the schoolmaster, was a graduate but another five were moderately learned and all were described favourably by the commissioners, who made no accusations against them. (fn. 29) After the dissolution of the chantries some of their property was acquired by local gentry and by four aldermen, Thurscross, Stockdale, Jobson, and Oversal, and a proportion was secured by the corporation; from the endowments of Bishop Alcock's chantry, however, sums were reserved for the schoolmaster and for a curate at Holy Trinity. (fn. 30) The abolition of the chantries meant that the inhabitants now depended for their religious ministrations on a much smaller number of clergy than before, the main responsibility devolving on the two incumbents and a curate. The Chantries Act also led to the disappearance of the medieval religious fraternities and certain of the hospitals, and it threatened the existence of both Holy Trinity and St. Mary's, which were technically endowed chapels. As their loss would have left the growing seaport and stronghold without churches, however, they were permitted to continue. (fn. 31)
Ties with the Edwardian regime were strengthened by movements of religious opinion in the town. During Henry's later years the townsmen had been able to avoid giving too much evidence of their beliefs to religious inquisitors, for Hull was a closelyknit community with few resident clergy and no ecclesiastical courts. There are, nevertheless, convincing indications that by the mid-16th century the town had become a centre of Protestant opinion. (fn. 32) Indeed, Edward's government would hardly have entrusted it with the castle had matters been otherwise. Changes in popular religion, like the destruction of images, may not have been universally welcome. It is probable, however, that local protests against the untoward effects of the Chantries Act or the fight against popery and ignorance prompted the government to make financial provision for the curate and schoolmaster and to continue the Trinity House hospital, the Charterhouse hospital, and two lesser hospitals; this was not done in any conservative spirit but in the interests of true religion. (fn. 33) Protestant teaching may well have been advanced not only by the contacts of local seafarers with other places but also by the presence in Hull of two men. One of these, Sir Michael Stanhope, had close connexions with Protector Somerset and the inner circle of Edwardian courtiers and was governor during the crucial 1540s. (fn. 34) The other, John Rough, was a Scottish clergyman who also had connexions with Somerset and with Archbishop Holgate, by whom he was sent to preach in Hull, where he had a significant influence; he fled at Mary's accession but was subsequently martyred. (fn. 35)
During the Marian reaction signs of the growing acceptance of Reformist teachings multiply. No more spectacular offence than marriage was alleged against one of the Hull clergy, an ex-regular named William Harland who was compulsorily divorced; but another priest, William Harper, converted himself into a layman and became a mariner, presumably to avoid persecution and perhaps to go into exile. (fn. 36) A third, William Utley, former Curate of St. Mary's and also married, was accused of consenting to the abstraction of the reserved sacrament from his church; this was a gross offence with a taint of heresy. Although Utley was able to clear himself and later agreed to live apart from his wife and submit to penance, the lay perpetrators of the sacrilege went undetected, which suggests local connivance in their misdeed for they were surely widely known. (fn. 37) The main agent of the Church in these proceedings was Thomas Fugall, Vicar of Hessle and Hull, who was himself accused in 1561 of persecuting married clergy and Protestant laymen during Mary's reign. It was alleged that he had harassed a man and wife for their religion, and had refused to bury a Protestant parishioner until ordered to do so by the corporation; he had slashed with a knife an English Bible which a Yarmouth man 'did read upon' in a townsman's house; and he had made the sinister threat to 'make all England to wonder of the town of Hull'. These charges were well-attested, and Fugall's defence was unconvincing. (fn. 38) The religious divisions in the town at this time are also illustrated by the case of a merchant, Walter Flynton. He was either a conservative or a trouble-maker who in 1555 slandered the mayor, aldermen, and other townsmen, and accused them of opposition to the government's proceedings, pressing the allegation before the Marian Council in the North. No doubt feeling themselves vulnerable to this charge of Protestant sympathies, the mayor and aldermen disfranchised Flynton and allowed his reinstatement only after the Lord President of the Council and the Queen had pleaded for him. The bench may have agreed to accept Flynton's submission chiefly to avoid any inquiry into the truth of his allegations, for several of its members were by then, or were soon to be, identified with Reforming ideas and one at least, Alderman Jobson, had acted with the opposition to Mary in Parliament. (fn. 39)
Religious Life, 1558–1642
By the time of the Elizabethan Settlement local Protestantism had firm roots, and further evidence of its strength was quickly forthcoming in the lay attack on the Marian vicar, Thomas Fugall, who was pronounced contumacious by the ecclesiastical authorities after his absence from the royal visitation of 1559. Two years later Fugall was brought before the church courts: the accusations included the persecutions already mentioned, immorality, attachment to popish ceremonies and service books, and refusal to use the new Prayer Book when first ordered by the corporation to do so. Several parishioners testified against him, and he was deprived, apparently the only clergyman in Hull to be removed at this time. (fn. 40) His successor at Holy Trinity was Melchior Smith who, significantly, was persuaded by members of the corporation to come to Hull from Boston (Lincs.) where he had already identified himself as an advanced Protestant. He was clearly a strong, perhaps an overbearing, personality, whose religious opinions and the vigour with which he expressed them antagonized some parishioners, including aldermen. In 1564 he was arraigned before the Ecclesiastical Commission and ordered to exercise more discretion in his speech and to wear the correct vestments. Two years later, at the height of the Vestiarian Controversy, he was in trouble again. It seems that Archbishop Young had determined to make an example of Smith, along with certain other prominent northern Puritans, and on pain of deprivation he was forced to submit, the corporation eventually certifying that he had conformed to the injunctions concerning clerical dress. Smith professed several characteristically Puritan beliefs: bitter hatred of popery, dislike of ceremonies, and emphasis on the Bible, above all upon preaching, which he considered to be 'the highest and most excellent function of a priest'. (fn. 41) He remained vicar until 1591, and from the widespread influence of his teaching during his long incumbency grew much of the reputation of Elizabethan Hull as a centre of militant Protestantism.
The corporation was in harmony with the Puritan desire for sermons, and as early as 1560 it arranged to pay a fee to a preacher. There was no further move until 1573 when Archbishop Grindal, who had something of Melchior Smith's outlook, made an agreement with the corporation and the vicar for the foundation of a lectureship at Holy Trinity; the holder was to have the substantial stipend of £40, one-third of which was to be paid from the town's chamber and the rest from the profits of the vicarage and from the subscriptions of aldermen and townsmen. At the same time the logical further step of separating Hull from the parish of Hessle was discussed but came to nothing. (fn. 42) Five years later the corporation supported an apparently unsuccessful appeal for the augmentation of the stipend of the minister at St. Mary's, while in 1583 it began the practice of appointing the town's lecturer to the mastership of the Charterhouse hospital as well, thus securing his income and providing him with a residence. (fn. 43) The first lecturer was Grindal's nominee, Griffith Briskin, who in 1578 and again in 1581 was before the Ecclesiastical Commission for conduct which suggests non-acceptance of parts of the Prayer Book. He held office from 1573 until 1598 and by supplementing Smith's ministry no doubt made his own contribution to the religious temper of the town. (fn. 44)
In addition to the lectureship the corporation made special provision from time to time for sermons at Holy Trinity, where from 1602 it enjoyed the right to choose the curate, and it occasionally intervened to ensure that the vicar and the lecturer made arrangements for regular preaching. (fn. 45) The corporation was involved in religious affairs in other ways. It issued several orders for the repair of Holy Trinity and tried to ensure that tithe-owners discharged their obligations to the church fabric. (fn. 46) In 1571 it played a part in the prosecution of the parish clerk before the Ecclesiastical Commission for alleged unseemly conduct and neglect of duty, and soon afterwards appointed another man to the office. (fn. 47) Following a commotion about pews at Holy Trinity in 1598 it joined with the Archbishop and the lecturer in allotting the places according to social precedence. (fn. 48)
More important, during Elizabeth's reign the corporation showed an increasing concern with the morals and behaviour of the people. As early as 1563 it forbade immorality and excessive drinking, and it repeated the orders three years later with an exhortation to godly living and a warning against lewd conduct and blasphemy; in 1572 mummers and masked players were prohibited. There was a ready municipal response in 1574 to Grindal's letter asking for help in the prevention of wickedness and vice, and regular searches were then begun for absentees from church; the churchwardens were even ordered to fine parents whose children cried during sermons. The campaign was renewed at the Archbishop's request in 1582, and again in 1599 when stringent orders were also issued against plays and interludes which debauched the people and led them into idleness. (fn. 49) This municipal godliness shows that the corporation was in tune with the Erastian outlook of the Elizabethan government and its archbishops. Such measures were still enforced after 1603 but less frequently and perhaps with less vigour. (fn. 50) Moreover, very few of the laity appeared before the church courts during this period, and then only rarely on account of the grosser sins; (fn. 51) this probably reflects the success of Puritan influences in the town.
For the same reason recusancy took very little hold either in Hull or in the surrounding country. Upholders of traditional beliefs offered little resistance to the advance of Protestantism during the 1560s, while the subsequent efforts of the Seminarist missions produced few new adherents for the old faith. There were no more than a dozen recusants in Hull in 1586 and probably fewer rather than more during the rest of the period; the only notables involved were certain members of the aldermanic family of Dalton and some of the Ellerkers. (fn. 52) The town achieved notoriety in recusant circles, however, especially after 1575 when Lord President Huntingdon and the Ecclesiastical Commission decided to make more use of the castle and blockhouses for the imprisonment of unyielding recusant laymen and priests alike. By 1577 twenty-two obstinate recusants were incarcerated there, and before 1600 the number of recusants gaoled at Hull totalled about seventy-five, of whom at least twelve died in prison. There was much suffering: conditions were intentionally more severe than at York, and it was easier to keep prisoners in isolation than in the northern capital, but they were permitted to listen to sermons and to confer with the learned preachers in Hull. (fn. 53)
Although recusancy was negligible there were strong cross-currents of religious opinion in the town during early Stuart times. Friction about the fencing of the churchyard in 1608 led to a suit in Star Chamber between the corporation and the vicar, Theophilus Smith, in which both sides agreed that there were Separatists in Hull, although the corporation denied, with a vigour which arouses suspicion, that it countenanced such extremists. The vicar himself seems to have been a moderate Puritan whose quarrel with the corporation was soon settled, through the Archbishop's mediation. (fn. 54) His successor in the living of Hessle and Hull was Richard Perrott, a conforming Anglican later to be associated with High Church views. During his ministry Perrott faced opposition. His attempt to have the organ at Holy Trinity repaired and used won only lukewarm support and failed. (fn. 55) He also had a disagreement about preaching in 1625 with the newly-appointed lecturer, Andrew Marvell, the elder. Marvell became a most influential minister and a respected figure in the town: he was a moderate Puritan who renewed earlier complaints about local Separatists. (fn. 56) Perrott's teaching could also have been counteracted by John Gouge, the curate chosen by the corporation in 1627, by various Puritan clergy in neighbouring parishes, notably North Ferriby, and by Anthony Stevenson, a minister whom the corporation appointed as master of the Grammar School in 1632. (fn. 57)
By this time the diocesan authorities had launched their counter-attack on Puritan worship in towns like York, Beverley, and Hull. Perrott himself served on commissions to survey churches, and in 1633 orders were issued to 'beautify' both Holy Trinity and St. Mary's after the Laudian manner; the churchwardens apparently complied. (fn. 58) Moreover, Perrott had already introduced a daily service at Holy Trinity to promote the Prayer Book in the affections of his parishioners. In this he probably had some success, at least among the moderates. The service was suspended during the plague of 1637 but once that danger was passed the mayor and some of the aldermen asked for the service to be resumed. Perrott professed himself willing to comply but could not do so because of the opposition of his curate, Gouge, who was already lapsing into nonconformity; Perrott was warned that any attempt to discipline Gouge would cause uproar in the town. Members of the corporation maintained their pressure, however, but when they failed to persuade Gouge to conduct the service Archbishop Neile intervened to order him to do so, and he was haled before the diocesan courts. The inability of the vicar and and his aldermanic supporters to coerce Gouge shows that their views were not representative of popular opinion. Neile's officials were able to achieve their aim of frequent services by acting as arbitrators in the dispute. Their interest in Hull's religious life continued in 1639 when Marvell was disciplined and instructed to read more of the Prayer Book liturgy before his weekly lecture. (fn. 59)
Their success was short-lived. When Marvell was drowned in 1641 the corporation, with much popular support, chose another moderate Puritan, William Styles, to succeed him in preference to a Laudian prebendary of York. About the same time Gouge complained to the House of Commons about one of Perrott's sermons; the vicar was impeached but died before the year ended. Styles thereupon succeeded to the vicarage and to the task of upholding the town's religious traditions. (fn. 60)
Military Affairs, 1558–1642
As a government stronghold in the north Hull was not seriously tested during Elizabeth's reign. The rebels of 1569 realized its importance and had designs upon it, but here as elsewhere the measures taken by the Council in the North were adequate. Ships were made ready, two hundred soldiers were sent, and money was borrowed from wealthy townsmen to meet the expenses. It is said that a plot to open the gates to the rebels was frustrated, and there was no threat to the defences. (fn. 61) This was perhaps fortunate, for by the mid-seventies there were complaints of the decayed state of the castle and blockhouses, and the corporation asked for a royal grant for the repairs. The resulting inquiry revealed much dilapidation. Heavy expenditure continued, but attempts to secure help from the government seem to have been in vain. Indeed, before 1603 the corporation was obliged to defend itself at law on three occasions against charges of neglect, for the government sustained its interest in the fortifications and was determined that they should be secure, especially in wartime. (fn. 62)
Other aspects of defence were not disregarded. During the first half of the reign there were occasional musters of the trained bands, which in 1584 comprised 82 men, mainly pike- or billmen; the total was later increased to 200, probably in 1588. Defective arms were replaced, fresh gunpowder was purchased, and the town's walls and ditches were maintained. (fn. 63) Following the outbreak of war with Spain there was a greater sense of urgency. In 1587 regular watch and ward was ordered, and only Beverley and North Gates were to be left open at night; a guard was to be mounted at the South End and the blockhouses, and a chain was to be drawn across the haven at nightfall. These instructions were repeated from time to time during the next ten years. Other precautions included the checking of strangers and the identification and searching of ships. Arms and provisions were stored in the castle, whence recusants were removed because their loyalty was suspect. In all these measures the corporation worked closely with the Lord President and the Archbishop, although it complained in 1599 about the heavy military charges imposed on the townspeople. (fn. 64) These also included the supply of victuals for the garrison at Berwick, and the provision of ships for troops going abroad; there were the usual difficulties about billets for troops in transit. (fn. 65)
Moreover, as a maritime town Hull was liable to contribute to the cost of ships for the navy. In 1558 it unsuccessfully sought help from York to meet this obligation. When it was called upon during the emergency of 1588 to provide two ships and a pinnace, fully manned and equipped, it at first refused, saying that the best ships were all at sea, and then submitted, but pleaded poverty; whereupon the Privy Council ordered York to contribute. York corporation resisted at first but was eventually compelled to pay £600 towards the total charge of £1,015. (fn. 66) This, however, was not the end of the matter. When another ship was demanded in 1591 Hull and York co-operated at the outset, but were unable to agree on the apportionment of the costs, which they therefore submitted to arbitration. (fn. 67) Five years later Hull was ordered to provide a ship for the summer's expedition and promptly suggested that there should be contributions not only from York but also from the cloth towns of the West Riding, as these benefited from the port facilities at Hull. The Privy Council granted this request, and York reluctantly paid a substantial share, but there was a violent and prolonged dispute about the liability of the West Riding; it was not until 1598 that the justices there submitted and agreed to relieve Hull of £400 of its expenses. (fn. 68) Before the end of the year, however, Hull was called upon to set forth two ships to act against Dunkirk pirates off the coast and again it experienced great difficulty in obtaining financial help from elsewhere in the county, despite the orders of the government. (fn. 69)
The whole question was reopened by the issue of ship-money writs in 1626. Hull and York appealed jointly against the size and apportionment of the assessment. Hull corporation, faced with a demand for three ships, pleaded the earlier decisions in its favour, but again the obstinacy of the county justices, and especially of the clothiers, meant a lengthy and heated argument; they contributed a share of the tax only under strong pressure. Hull was thus relieved of two-thirds of the levy, and in the following year it joined in the general resistance to further payments for the provision of ships. (fn. 70) The writs of 1634–40 gave little opportunity for obstruction: Hull attempted unsuccessfully to pass part of the charge of the first writ on to other places, but thereafter it regularly paid its share of the tax, like the rest of Yorkshire, until 1640 when nothing was collected. (fn. 71)
Other public obligations during the 1620s and 1630s were discharged more readily. There was a contribution of £132 for the recovery of the Palatinate, and both the privy seal loans and the compositions for knighthood seem to have been paid with little delay. (fn. 72) Moreover, in 1625 and 1627 Hull was again the scene of warlike preparations when the port was used for the embarkation of troops bound for the Low Countries and North Germany. Seamen were impressed, ships hired, equipped, and victualled, and men billeted: to meet the cost of these arrangements the corporation had to borrow money which was later reimbursed by the government. (fn. 73)
The defences of Hull itself received some attention: the trained bands were drilled, new muskets were bought, the artillery ground at the South End was made ready, and the corporation persuaded the Privy Council to send more ordnance to the castle. (fn. 74) The condition of the latter was a subject of governmental concern by 1634 when the corporation was again involved in a lawsuit about its responsibilities. In 1638 the danger of invasion from Scotland prompted the government to order a detailed survey of the fortifications of this strategically important town, and Capt. William Legge was sent for the purpose. Repair work lasted for several months. Stocks of arms in the magazine were also repaired, replenished, and guarded. The heavy costs were largely borne by the town and county of Hull, and refusal to contribute was severely discouraged by the government. (fn. 75) Coming so soon after the plague of 1637–8 these charges put a heavy strain on the town which nevertheless seems to have been very co-operative. In April 1639 the king visited Hull to inspect the magazine and the defences. He was warmly welcomed and professed himself satisfied with Hull's preparations. The town was more tangibly rewarded in the late autumn by a grant of £500 for the repair of defective arms, and by the Privy Council's decision to stop legal proceedings against it. (fn. 76)
Precautions against attack, however, continued. Because of the corporation's firm objections, no soldiers were billeted in Hull during the spring and early summer of 1640, but by August a strong watch was mounted and the trained bands were held in readiness. These men had been under the command of Sir John Hotham as governor, and there had already been difficulties about Capt. Legge's authority because of Hotham's commission. (fn. 77) As the latter was now in disgrace at Court he was superseded by Sir Thomas Glemham, who was ordered to Hull with a county regiment of foot; his position was reinforced by Strafford who ordered the town to surrender its keys to him. Strained relations about this matter probably accounted for the cool reception given to the king in September. Although the danger of a Scottish attack quickly evaporated, the town remained in a state of readiness for several months. Glemham's regiment was not withdrawn until the following July, and in November 1641 further repairs were carried out on the fortifications. (fn. 78)
Parliamentary Representation to 1640
The system of election remained unchanged, and the members for Hull were, as before, predominantly townsmen, (fn. 79) a fact which reveals both the independent outlook of the town and the importance which it attached to the informed representation of its interests. Twenty men have been identified as M.P.s between 1547 and 1601, fourteen of whom were aldermen who were usually sent to Parliament only after service on the bench. Ten of these members sat in one Parliament, six sat in two, and four in three or more. Pre-eminent among M.P.s with the greatest parliamentary experience was Alderman Walter Jobson (M.P. in 1547, 1554, 1555, 1558, and 1559) whose repeated election may have been due to his wealth, to his Protestantism, and to his close connexions with the business and municipal life of London, as well as of Hull. Although no other local man sat through equally stirring times in Parliament during the 16th century, Alderman John Thacker represented Hull on three occasions between 1547 and 1554, while Alderman John Thornton's parliamentary career extended over an unusually long time, for he was first elected in 1554 and sat on three later occasions, in 1563, 1571, and 1584; Alderman Leonard Willan sat in 1589 and was re-elected in 1593 and 1597.
Six outsiders became M.P.s, but they were not importunate local gentry: five were lawyers and one, Henry Fanshawe, held a major office in the Exchequer and probably owed his return at a by-election in 1566 to official influence. Among the lawyers Thomas Fleming was returned at a by-election in 1581, apparently unopposed, but his connexions with the town are unknown. The others had local associations: Christopher Estoft (M.P. in 1563) and John Aldred (1584 and 1586) had family links and property in Hull; William Gee (1589) was the son of Alderman William Gee, a local benefactor, and grandson of Alderman Jobson; and Peter Proby (1593) did legal work for the corporation. No doubt lawyers were particularly acceptable as members for a commercial town, and only Proby owed his election to external influence: he was nominated by his patron, Sir Thomas Heneage, High Steward of Hull. There is no evidence that Heneage's predecessor in that office, Sir Francis Walsingham, exercised any parliamentary patronage in the town, and when Lord President Huntingdon asked for the right to nominate one member in 1586, the corporation quietly ignored his request, despite its usually good relations with him. (fn. 80)
During the earlier 17th century Hull was less successful in avoiding interference in its choice of M.P.s, though in the by-election of 1607 the nominee of Salisbury, then high steward, was not chosen. Four of the eight members returned in James I's reign were aldermen but four were outsiders. Of the latter, John Edmonds (M.P. in 1604) and Sir John Bourchier (1614) probably owed their election to their official connexions. (fn. 81) Maurice Abbot (1621, 1624, and 1625) was first nominated by his brother, Archbishop Abbot, the town's high steward. (fn. 82) He was elected on the second occasion apparently before support came from the Archbishop, and Sir John Suckling, a Privy Councillor, was chosen with him. When the latter decided to sit for Middlesex instead, strangers were nominated by Buckingham, Cranfield, and Sir Arthur Ingram; nevertheless the choice fell on Alderman John Lister. (fn. 83) Abbot and Lister sat again in 1625, but in the following year the former decided to sit for London and another alderman, Lancelot Roper, was chosen in his stead. (fn. 84) By this time the corporation had resolved to elect only burgesses to Parliament, and this rule was followed in 1628. (fn. 85) In the two Parliaments of 1640 Lister again represented Hull, along with Henry Vane, the younger, treasurer of the navy. The nomination of the latter by the Lord High Admiral was coolly received at first and he was selected primarily because his father, the treasurer of the household, had been instrumental in freeing Hull from the lawsuit about the repair of the castle. (fn. 86)
Between 1604 and 1640 only one of the six local men served more than once, namely John Lister, the younger, whose length of service in all the Parliaments from 1621 to 1640 inclusive clearly reflects his ability and the extent of his family's influence in Hull. Lister was an active member, and both he and Abbot were involved in the important Commons debate in 1621 on the country's trading position. (fn. 87) The repeated election of Abbot, a prominent London merchant, may have seemed a good move during the depression of the early twenties, but, when he dropped out, the economic crisis probably influenced the corporation's decision to choose only its own men with their intimate knowledge of local conditions. (fn. 88)
Letters passed between the town and its members, who were requested to safeguard its interests in various ways, but few detailed instructions, like those given at York, have survived, and until 1640 there are no recorded indications of the attitude of Hull members to the political issues of the day. (fn. 89) Court influence brought in Vane, and Strafford was chosen as high steward in 1640, (fn. 90) but at this time the latter was still in the ascendant. It may be more significant that when Lister died in December 1640, Peregrine Pelham, a merchant and ex-sheriff, was elected to succeed him as Vane's parliamentary colleague, and both men gradually moved into opposition. (fn. 91)
Politics and the Civil War
The deepening division between king and Parliament in 1641–2 was bound to affect a seaport and stronghold with the strategic importance of Hull. As early as January 1642 both sides endeavoured to take control of the town and the large magazine still stored in the manor-house. On 11 January the king named the Earl of Newcastle as governor and ordered Capt. Legge to assist him, while Parliament nominated Sir John Hotham and asked his son, Capt. John Hotham, to secure the town at once. Within three days Newcastle and Legge found that the corporation was unwilling to recognize their commission or to admit any troops under their command, although Legge reported that he had at least been able to persuade the corporation not to admit Capt. Hotham either. This may have been so, for Hotham was refused entrance at first, and the corporation allowed him to enter later with some of the county trained bands only at the express command of Parliament. (fn. 92) Even then the corporation made difficulties about billets which were provided only after the mayor, Henry Barnard, and Alderman James Watkinson had been summoned before the Commons; the town's obstruction, however, was largely due, not to politics, but to a desire to uphold its chartered rights against interference. (fn. 93)
The troops in Hull were provided with arms and ammunition from the magazine and were reinforced after the arrival of Sir John Hotham, who made other defensive preparations at the walls and gates. (fn. 94) Before the end of March the king and the court had moved to York, which during the next few months counterbalanced Hull by acting as a focus of royal strength. Meanwhile there were discussions in Parliament about the transfer of the magazine to London, and the next royal attempt to win Hull was made partly to prevent such a step. (fn. 95) On 22 April the Duke of York, the Elector Palatine, and their entourage arrived in Hull informally, were entertained by the mayor and the governor, and stayed over-night. Sir John Hotham, however, had already suspected a trap, and his alarm was increased when he was told that the king was on his way to rejoin his son in Hull with a troop of horse. With his resolution stiffened by the advice of Peregrine Pelham, M.P., Hotham ordered the gates to be closed and came out on the walls near Beverley Gate to refuse entry to the king. Despite a heated argument with his sovereign who alternately threatened and bargained, and in defiance of the mayor's wish to admit the king, Hotham stoutly maintained his refusal. Charles withdrew to Beverley, followed shortly after by the Duke of York and his party who seem to have been kept in ignorance of the incident. Hotham was proclaimed a traitor and next day refused the promise of a pardon if he would conform to the royal wishes. His act of defiance in the interests of Parliament marked an important stage in the onset of the Civil War and formed the subject of sharp exchanges between king and Parliament in which royal complaints against the governor of Hull were flatly rejected. (fn. 96)
Soon afterwards a large part of the magazine was removed to London, but measures for the safety of Hull continued: a parliamentary committee was sent to support Hotham and to raise the trained bands for defence. (fn. 97) The capture of Hull remained a prime objective for Charles who, with his headquarters at York, needed a defensible seaport to provide access for possible aid from abroad. Early in June some royalist troopers under a local gentleman made an ineffectual demonstration outside the walls, and there were two futile attempts to win the town by treachery. (fn. 98) Towards the end of the month, however, Lord Digby, who had been captured at sea, was landed at Hull where, by concealing his identity, he was able to talk to Hotham. What happened is uncertain for the evidence is conflicting, but the governor may have given Digby some grounds for hoping that Hull would return to its allegiance. This possibility may have prompted Charles to send a force of soldiers to Hull early in July. For about three weeks the town was loosely besieged: attempts were made to prevent the passage of supplies, some windmills were burnt, and a bombardment was mounted. But there was no sign of any treachery within Hull, and its resistance was stronger and more effective than expected: bastions were erected outside the gates, the walls were strengthened, parliamentary supply ships reached the haven, and the surrounding country was flooded when the dikes and river banks were cut. The defenders made two successful sallies, in the second of which the royalists were driven from their quarters at Anlaby and were obliged to raise the siege. (fn. 99)
During the following weeks the walls and the castle were repaired, and regular watch and ward was maintained, partly for security, partly to prevent disorders among the garrison. There was little military activity in the neighbourhood of Hull, but parties of soldiers from the town harried royalists in the East Riding, and Capt. Hotham broke Yorkshire's treaty of neutrality by taking troops to capture Cawood castle. Shortly afterwards another treacherous attempt to deliver the town was frustrated. (fn. 100)
It is difficult to ascertain the political temper of Hull during 1642. After defying the king the Hothams may have been reluctant to see the conflict widened, and before the end of the year Sir John had quarrelled with Pelham, who supported the 'war party' in Parliament, while Capt. Hotham was in touch with Newcastle, the royalist commander in Yorkshire; both had already shown jealousy towards the Fairfaxes. (fn. 101) Moreover, on his arrival in Hull Hotham declared that the town was 'five parts of seven' for the king, and there is evidence that some of the townsmen wished Charles to be admitted in April. (fn. 102) Such sympathies found little support, however, among the corporation. Although aldermanic attendances at meetings fell during the autumn, James Watkinson was the only alderman to withdraw from Hull to join the king. The mayor, Barnard, did not support Hotham's stand in April and bad relations between the two men seem to have persisted, but Barnard remained in the town and assiduously attended corporation meetings. Indeed, throughout 1642 the major share of municipal work was borne by a small group which included Barnard, his successor Thomas Raikes, and Aldermen Jefferson and Smith. (fn. 103) These men and their brethren felt sufficiently involved with the parliamentary side to ask their M.P.s to ensure that if peace were made they would be included in any act of oblivion. (fn. 104)
During the winter of 1642–3 the main fighting took place in other parts of Yorkshire, but some parliamentarian troops were supplied from Hull, where the garrison remained on the alert. (fn. 105) The walls, castle, and blockhouses were surveyed, and further steps were taken to strengthen them, while the townsmen were required to help with the work as well as to maintain a regular watch when the spring heralded a renewal of the campaign against Hull. The governor was already in dire straits for money to pay his troops and feared that he might have to ask the inhabitants for free quarter. (fn. 106)
By this time, however, the Hothams had lost any enthusiasm for the parliamentary conduct of the war and were communicating with royalist leaders. But their intention to surrender Hull was suspected by Parliament and their failure to act quickly enabled the parliamentary leaders to warn Sir Matthew Boynton and others of the danger. On 28 June these men met the mayor, some of the aldermen, and Capt. Lawrence Moyer of the parliamentary ship Hercules to concert a plan to prevent the betrayal of the town. Early next day the crew of the Hercules landed and, with the help of soldiers and citizens, quickly secured the castle, blockhouses, walls, and gates. Capt. Hotham was arrested but Sir John escaped through Beverley Gate with some of his bodyguard in the nick of time; he was captured in Beverley and then imprisoned on board the Hercules. Both men were closely guarded until they could be taken to London to await trial and punishment. (fn. 107)
There was no show of popular support for the Hothams: Sir John's relations with the citizens had been difficult, he had not favoured the activities of the 'preciser clergy', and feeling against him had been stirred up by Alderman Pelham. (fn. 108) The corporation acted to prevent his treachery with commendable efficiency and constituted a small committee of defence. The committee included Thomas Raikes, the mayor, Aldermen Denman, Popple, Roper, and Henry and John Barnard, William Styles, the Vicar of Holy Trinity, and Boynton. It assumed control of the town with the mayor acting as governor. It is probably a sign of the corporation's confidence in its mastery of the situation that details of the events of 29 June and the precautions taken were at once entered in the bench book. (fn. 109) Moreover, the frustration of royalist hopes of Hull's defection came at a crucial point in the struggle, for it coincided with the climax of royalist successes in Yorkshire at Adwalton Moor (W.R.), which left the king's side in almost undisputed control of the whole county except Hull. Early in July, therefore, the Fairfaxes were able to retreat to the safety of the town where their forces were succoured by the committee of defence. The committee pleaded successfully for Lord Fairfax to be made governor, although it later expressed some dissatisfaction that its own share of the command was not more clearly stipulated. (fn. 110)
In July and August the preoccupation of Newcastle's royalist forces in Lincolnshire gave the governor and corporation the chance to reorganize the defences against the expected attack. (fn. 111) This began on 2 September when Newcastle approached the town with a large army. At first the siege was not a close one and the attackers' siege-works were far enough from the walls to enable the governor to destroy much of the Charterhouse hospital and to use the ruins as a gun emplacement. From their batteries further north the besiegers poured red-hot shot into the town in the vain hope of starting fires, and most of the fighting during the earlier half of the siege consisted of artillery duels and skirmishes along the north side of the town. When Fairfax cut the banks to flood the country on 14 September, however, the royalists switched their attack to the west. More siege-works were prepared by both sides and the bombardment continued sporadically. Sallies by the defenders achieved little, the royalists were hampered by wet weather, and both sides suffered accidents: in one, due to carelessness, the north blockhouse was partly blown up, and in the other much of Newcastle's magazine was destroyed in an explosion. Although the besiegers had cut the town's fresh-water supply at the start, brackish water was available from wells within the defences. Parliamentary ships were able to carry in supplies, Col. Oliver Cromwell brought reinforcements on 26 September, and after the arrival of Sir John Meldrum with more troops Fairfax determined to break the siege. On 11 October a strong force made a sortie and after bitter fighting overran the royalist positions. The siege was raised the next day, (fn. 112) and for some years 11 October was observed as a day of public thanksgiving. (fn. 113)
Casualties do not seem to have been heavy, but the inhabitants suffered some privations and mortality was high. Members of the corporation stayed in their posts, but because of the gravity of the situation they asked Raikes to serve as mayor for another year; the governor joined his pleas to theirs, and Raikes reluctantly agreed. (fn. 114) The successful resistance of Hull immobilized the royal army in the north at a vital time and prevented the king from gaining the full advantage of victories earlier in the year. It also retained for Parliament a strategically important stronghold and base, which the Fairfaxes used in military operations in the county during the rest of 1643, while the corporation, whose general administration had been curtailed, worked to bring local life back to normal.
The most pressing military problem was the repair and strengthening of the fortifications damaged during the fighting. In March 1644 the corporation agreed to do this, but although the work was in progress during the next year very little seems to have been accomplished until an extensive survey was made in the autumn of 1646. (fn. 115) Part of the cost was borne by the inhabitants but in the spring of 1648 Parliament made a grant for the purpose. Work continued for more than ten years but was frequently delayed by shortage of money, and in 1659 the governor was still reporting defects in the castle and blockhouses. (fn. 116)
The corporation made great efforts to retain its military independence once the emergency of 1643 was over, but despite its wishes the town was attached to the Northern Association in 1645. Although some members of the corporation were included in the Association's committee there were complaints later about Hull's dis- proportionate share of the tax assessments, and in this, as in other matters concerning the town's welfare, the influence of the two M.P.s was used. (fn. 117) In 1645 Sir Thomas Fairfax succeeded his father as governor and during the following year an establishment was fixed for a permanent garrison. There were some misgivings about this at first, because of the burdens and difficulties which the continued presence of soldiers might entail, but the corporation worked with the governor in guarding the town's security. (fn. 118) Relations with the garrison became strained in 1648, partly because of the billeting of soldiers, partly because Col. Robert Overton, the new deputy governor, interfered in the town's religious affairs. His enemies in the corporation tried in vain to have him removed, but although the government took steps to ensure that the ill-feeling engendered did not undermine the safety of Hull, the tension lasted until Overton's dismissal in 1655. (fn. 119) By this time the end of fighting in the country had permitted a reduction in the size of the garrison, which was, however, strengthened in the less settled times of 1658 and 1659, to the dismay of the townspeople. (fn. 120)
Hull's usefulness was enhanced by the protection which its walls afforded to the magazine. From time to time it was restocked with arms, ammunition, and other military supplies, which were then distributed to parliamentarian armies fighting in the north and even in Ireland. (fn. 121) Apart from its role as a military base Hull was again a victualling station for the fleet during the first Dutch war; it also provided mariners and scout-boats, as well as armed vessels for the protection of convoys against both pirates and the Dutch. (fn. 122)
The strategic importance of Hull demanded constant watchfulness for its security. In 1646 seven local royalists were fined for their delinquency, among them James Watkinson, the only royalist alderman, who had been dismissed from the bench two years earlier. (fn. 123) No immediate purge of members of the corporation was necessary, but in 1650 one of the aldermen, John Ramsden, was replaced by the government for refusing the Engagement, and between then and 1652 there was further interference. The Council of State dismissed three more aldermen, nominated their successors, filled two other vacancies on the bench, and appointed the mayor on two occasions. (fn. 124) This was done to ensure that the civilian government of the town was in the hands of trustworthy men, well-affected to the new order and likely to resist the blandishments of royalist plotters. The latter took some interest in Hull, and the governor and corporation received a steady stream of government orders for the arrest of suspects and for other precautions. (fn. 125) In 1655 it was reported that there was little political dissatisfaction in the town, despite the religious rivalries, but knowing of royalist intrigues the government remained nervous about its security and called for further care. (fn. 126) Royalist hopes were dashed, however, when Sir Henry Slingsby's attempt during the winter of 1657–8 to subvert officers of the garrison was revealed to the government by the officers themselves; Slingsby was tried and executed. (fn. 127)
Soon afterwards the governor was able to report that the proclamation of Richard Cromwell was well received, but there had already been complaints about the burden of the garrison, (fn. 128) and growing disaffection was revealed in the election for Richard's Parliament. In the elections of 1654 and 1656 Hull had returned William Lister, the recorder, apparently without a contest, (fn. 129) but in 1659 there were five candidates: Thomas Strickland, son of the prominent republican; Sir Henry Vane, the former member; Col. Henry Smith, the governor; John Ramsden, the former alderman; and the poet Andrew Marvell, the government's Latin secretary and son of the moderate Puritan lecturer. There were strong divisions among the burgesses, but at the poll the governor and the two extremists were rejected in favour of Marvell and Ramsden. (fn. 130)
Later in the year Overton returned as governor and perhaps did nothing to increase the popularity of the regime by making further military dispositions and rounding up men suspected of royalist sympathies. (fn. 131) Moreover, in the winter of 1659–60 he showed himself ready to make a stand for the republic. The town joined in the general petitioning for a free Parliament but the governor prevaricated and made some show of preparing for a siege. When Gen. Monck moved from Yorkshire to London, therefore, Hull was left unsubdued and during the following weeks the general had to put strong pressure on Overton to abandon his resistance; eventually he complied and was replaced by Col. Charles Fairfax, but even then some of the garrison sent a petition complaining against Monck's actions. (fn. 132) The townsmen clearly welcomed what was taking place, however, and had given the garrison and its obdurate commander no support. In the warmly-fought election contest of April 1660 six candidates appeared: two republicans were at the bottom of the poll, two local worthies were also defeated, and Ramsden and Marvell were again returned. (fn. 133) On 8 May the Royal Arms were replaced, three days later Charles II was proclaimed with bell-ringing, gun salutes, and much jubilation, as elsewhere, and in June almost 250 leading citizens signed a loyal address to the restored king. (fn. 134)
Religious Life, 1642–60
The Puritan clergy continued their ministrations during 1642–3 without molestation, and even though the governor did not support their activities he perhaps looked with still less favour on those of the Separatist clergy, Robert Luddington and Philip Nye, who by 1643 were founding an Independent congregation in the town. Their work was, moreover, disliked by the corporation which in the summer of 1643 expressed the fear that if Sir Robert Constable were appointed governor he and Nye would have a disruptive effect on the town's religious life. (fn. 135) The corporation still maintained its interest in church affairs, and in 1644 it agreed to petition Parliament for the separation of Hull from Hessle parish, for the election of its own ministers, and for an augmentation of the living. After a year of discussions, in which the corporation was helped by its own and neighbouring M.P.s, an augmentation was ordered from sequestered ecclesiastical revenues, the award being increased later. (fn. 136) Furthermore, the corporation was particularly anxious about the choice of preachers in 1644, when the vicar, Styles, was living at Hessle. (fn. 137) In the same year John Shawe, who had failed to get the civic lectureship at York, accepted a call to St. Mary's 'as a place of visible quiet and rest'. Shawe was a militant Puritan who had embraced Presbyterian teachings, and after only six months at St. Mary's he was appointed to the lectureship at Holy Trinity with the wholehearted support of the congregation, who were dissatisfied with the former lecturer. (fn. 138)
Shawe was determined to become the main influence in the religious life of Hull. Before the end of 1645 he was involved in a bitter quarrel with the moderate Puritan Styles, and there were reports of one preaching against the other. The two ministers disagreed about their respective rights of addressing the main congregation on Sunday mornings: they disputed the matter in public, both made a bid for popular support, and there was confusion among the multitude. Finally the two agreed on a compromise which gave each a share of the most desirable times for sermons. (fn. 139) Nevertheless, within twelve months Shawe made two further attempts to bolster his position in the town. First, he applied unsuccessfully for the chaplaincy of Trinity House, which went to the less extreme John Boatman instead. (fn. 140) Secondly, he tried to dislodge Styles from the mastership of the Charterhouse hospital, which the vicar had retained. Styles flatly refused to resign if his successor were to be Shawe, against whom he used 'passionate expressions', and the corporation let the matter rest. Rivalry about stipends and the division of the augmentation complicated the relations between the vicar and the lecturer; the latter's Memoirs show his firm belief that the labourer was worthy of his hire, but the later records of both men indicate differences in religious emphasis as well. (fn. 141)
Following his Presbyterian inclinations Shawe set up a strict church discipline in Hull, an attempt to impose order which found little favour either with conservativeminded people or with those 'dangerous seducers', the Independents. (fn. 142) The latter were considerably encouraged by the arrival in the town during 1648 of John Canne, who was appointed chaplain to the garrison by Col. Overton. Canne had been pastor of the English Separatists in Amsterdam and quickly identified himself with the Independent congregation. His ministry soon aroused the hostility of the clergy of Holy Trinity and St. Mary's and seems to have found no favour with the corporation. Feeling between the religious groups ran so high that eventually Overton, Canne, and their supporters arranged for the chancel of Holy Trinity to be divided from the nave by a wall: Canne thus preached to his people at the east end of the church, while Presbyterian worship was conducted in the nave. (fn. 143)
By this time, however, the religious situation had become more complicated by the refusal of Styles and Boatman, the latter now at St. Mary's, to take the Engagement in the autumn of 1650. Both were displaced, but although the government pressed the claims of Shawe to succeed to the vicarage, the corporation would have none of him and asked for the order against Styles and Boatman to be respited, in the hope that they would take the required oath. (fn. 144) When this did not happen, the corporation relented so far as to allow Shawe to take the vacant mastership of the Charterhouse hospital, whereupon he began, perhaps characteristically, to stir up trouble about the revenues of this charity, (fn. 145) an action which set the corporation firmly against his appointment to the vicarage. It was, moreover, also determined that Canne should not be appointed, for he was blamed as a divisive influence in the town. To consolidate his position in Hull Shawe again tried for the chaplaincy of Trinity House, but he was unsuccessful. Canne and Shawe fiercely contested each other's claims to the living of Holy Trinity, Canne accused his rival of dabbling in municipal politics, and for twelve months there was stalemate. The problem was resolved only when the corporation secured the appointment in the spring of 1652 of Henry Hibbert as minister at Holy Trinity, and since other men served at Hessle the much-discussed separation was brought a step nearer. (fn. 146)
This did not heal the religious divisions, however, for both Shawe and Canne continued to preach to their respective flocks; Canne himself was removed in 1656, soon after Overton's fall, but the Independents remained in possession of the chancel of Holy Trinity until 1660. (fn. 147) Although Canne was something of a fanatic and was regarded by many as a danger to the peace of the town he contributed much to the later strength of Independency in Hull. Little is known of Hibbert, whose later career suggests that he was less extreme than Shawe. A man of more than local importance, Shawe's services as a public preacher were in demand at York and elsewhere. He worked hard at the Charterhouse hospital; he comforted and converted many of the townsmen, whom he compared to Jeremiah's figs, 'the good very good and the bad very bad'; he preached to large congregations at Holy Trinity and claimed that his flock had a 'sweet Christian society one with another, week and sabbath'. (fn. 148)
In addition to the Presbyterians and Independents preachers of various opinions worked in and around the town, while some of the earliest Quaker converts were to be found in the district. (fn. 149) Nevertheless the corporation disapproved of the sectaries and gave its support to more moderate Puritans. It made its own contribution to the religious life of the town by encouraging daily prayers and by sustaining its earlier emphasis on godly behaviour; schoolmasters, too, played an important part in religious instruction. In both the churches new pews and galleries were erected to facilitate the hearing of the very frequent sermons, and during these years Hull was a centre of Puritan influences in the East Riding. (fn. 150)
Religious Life after 1660
At the Restoration Hibbert, Shawe, and John Bewe, the minister of St. Mary's, signed the declaration of loyalty to the king, and a few weeks later Shawe was appointed a royal chaplain. (fn. 151) During the autumn, however, William Styles pressed his legal claim for reinstatement as Vicar of Hessle and Hull; after some argument his case was upheld, and Hibbert was obliged to depart from Holy Trinity. (fn. 152) About the same time the corporation renewed its suit for the separation of Hull from Hessle and sought to retain its influence in religious affairs by asking for the right to nominate the minister. The vacancy caused by the death of Styles early in 1661 facilitated the negotiations, which ended successfully in June when a royal licence was issued allowing the proposed division of the parish. A statute subsequently embodied the new arrangements, which permitted the corporation to name the Vicar of Holy Trinity subject to royal approval, but placed on the town the obligation to provide a yearly stipend of £100 by means of a local rate. (fn. 153)
By this time complaints had mounted against Shawe's continued ministry, and he was inhibited by royal order from preaching at Holy Trinity. For a short time he remained master of the Charterhouse hospital, where his sermons attracted large congregations. Shawe's success in holding his flock together in the changed atmosphere of the Restoration is a further testimony to the strength of his local influence, but it aroused the displeasure of the government and the corporation, which removed him from the office before the end of 1661, although he made difficulties about his departure. (fn. 154) At St. Mary's Bewe was undisturbed, while at Holy Trinity the corporation brought in a new curate to read daily prayers until a vicar and a lecturer could be found. (fn. 155) In October 1661 William Ainsworth was appointed to the lectureship and the Charterhouse mastership, but it was not until the following May that, with royal approval, Nicholas Anderson was made the first vicar of the new parish of Holy Trinity. (fn. 156) Several clergy in the district, some of them with Hull connexions, were ejected in the summer of 1662, but in the town itself Bewe, Ainsworth, Anderson, and John Shoare, the schoolmaster and chaplain at Trinity House, all made the subscription required by the Act of Uniformity. (fn. 157)
The task of restoring Anglican worship had already been started. At Holy Trinity, where there had been extensive changes in the internal arrangement of the church during the Interregnum, the partition between the nave and the chancel was demolished and the pews in the latter were removed. The font was set up again in its usual place but an order to rail off the communion table seems to have been ignored; and an assessment was raised in the parish to pay for repairs to the fabric. In the interests of good order, boys were forbidden to play in the church. Nevertheless, the visitations in 1663 revealed further deficiencies requiring remedy. The churchwardens of Holy Trinity were charged with failing to beautify the church, while the Lord's Prayer and the Creed were not displayed on the walls either there or at St. Mary's. Holy Trinity lacked a register, and St. Mary's had neither the prayer book nor the book of homilies. The appointment of the parish clerk at Holy Trinity was irregular, and in that parish there were unlicensed midwives, while at St. Mary's a surgeon and a physician were not licensed. (fn. 158) These faults, which reflect the disorganization of the Church during the Interregnum, were presumably remedied in the years following, for no similar offences were presented at later visitations. On the other hand, clerical stipends posed a further problem during the sixties. The assessment in Holy Trinity parish never yielded enough, and the vicar's salary had to be subsidized by the corporation which also contributed occasionally to the stipend of the curate at St. Mary's. This period of difficulty culminated in 1669 with a sharp disagreement about ecclesiastical revenues between the vicar, Anderson, and the corporation; this was settled two years later only by the mediation of Lord Bellasis, the governor. (fn. 159)
A complicating factor in that dispute was the openly-expressed dissatisfaction of many townsmen with the preaching of Ainsworth, who by 1671 was physically too weak to fulfil his duties properly. He was persuaded to resign his lectureship and given a place in Lister's Hospital, where he died shortly afterwards. The new lecturer was Richard Kitson, the nominee of the parishioners who had protested against Ainsworth. At first the vicar refused to accept Kitson and did so only after the intervention of the governor. (fn. 160) Ten years later there were complaints that the vicar himself, now failing in sight and memory, was not carrying out his preaching duties; it was alleged that he thus discouraged his parishioners and encouraged dissenters. The corporation reached an agreement with him about preaching, but disharmony grew when he failed to keep it; for fifteen months, indeed, the corporation employed a curate to provide sermons instead of the vicar, and this problem was solved only by the latter's death early in 1689. (fn. 161)
The Anglican clergy in post-Restoration Hull showed no sign of distinction and none of the fervour which had characterized either some of their predecessors or men like Shawe and Canne. Indeed, the occasional charges made at visitations against the two incumbents reveal some negligence on their part, while the parishioners' complaints against the growing incapacity of Ainsworth and Anderson were clearly justified. (fn. 162) The inadequacy of the clergy of the Establishment partly accounts for the deepening religious divisions in Hull, as elsewhere, after 1660. During the next decade a growing number of townsmen found their spiritual needs unsatisfied by the Church of England: many of the absentees from church presented at visitations were dissenters, and, significantly, among those men who petitioned against the lecturer in 1671 were several who later identified themselves with nonconformity. (fn. 163) Presbyterian and Independent congregations in the town flourished and enjoyed the guidance of several ministers ejected in 1662. The most notable of these were Richard Astley, pastor of the Independents, and Joseph Wilson, who took charge of Shawe's Presbyterian group. Quakers also met in and near Hull, but lacked the numbers of the other nonconformist bodies. In 1670 and 1671 the authorities showed some alarm about the strength of conventicles in the town, (fn. 164) but after the temporary licensing of meeting-places for the Presbyterians and Independents in 1672 their adherents grew in number: in 1676 it was estimated that there were 500 nonconformists in Holy Trinity parish alone. (fn. 165) Both the main dissenting congregations flourished until the early eighties, when the governor and corporation decided to enforce the law against them more vigorously. Some members of the corporation showed no enthusiasm for repressive measures for they were themselves sympathizers with nonconformity, (fn. 166) but they could do little to help, and for a time the life of both congregations was disrupted: Astley fled the town, and Samuel Charles, Wilson's Presbyterian successor, was gaoled. Not surprisingly few new members came forward while the persecution lasted, although from 1686 to 1688 both nonconformist clergymen were again ministering to their flocks and winning converts. (fn. 167)
By contrast the Roman Catholics were very weak in Hull: priests worked in the district, but although a mass centre was established in the town, only a handful of recusants was detected by the ecclesiastical authorities. (fn. 168) There was, therefore, no sign of local enthusiasm for the romanizing policy of James II and no upsurge of recusancy as a result of it. Indeed the mass-house is said to have been ransacked in 1688. (fn. 169) The attitude of the Anglican clergy in Hull to James's conduct is revealed by the fact that the two incumbents refused to read the Declaration of Indulgence; furthermore only one of the clergy, Thomas Sagg, Curate at Holy Trinity, joined the Curates of Sutton and Drypool in the ranks of the non-jurors after the Revolution. (fn. 170) At the same time the Toleration Act again gave the Presbyterians and Independents the opportunity to possess their own chapels, which were built during the next few years. (fn. 171) In the more favourable conditions of the nineties the membership of both congregations increased, while by the end of the 17th century nonconformists were playing an influential part in the Society for the Reformation of Manners in Kingston upon Hull. This body, founded in 1698, campaigned against vice and tried to uphold true religion by distributing pamphlets and by enforcing observance of the sabbath, activities which were in line with the local Puritan tradition. (fn. 172) Abraham de la Pryme, who became Curate at Holy Trinity in 1698, declared that Hull was 'a mighty factious town, there being people of all sects in it', (fn. 173) but there was little to disturb the even tenor of religious life after 1689. Robert Banks, who became Vicar of Holy Trinity in that year, seems to have worked harmoniously with the corporation and his Anglican colleagues. (fn. 174) The corporation and townspeople maintained their unceasing interest in the provision of sermons and in church affairs, while acceptance of the religious implications of the Revolution was easy in a town where the laity had for generations concerned themselves with the choice of clergy, and where Protestantism had such deep roots.
Political and Military Affairs after 1660
After the Restoration early fears of a republican rising in the north, the alarm over popish conspiracies, and the Anglo-Dutch conflict all combined to stimulate the government's continued interest in the security of Hull. At the outset an ardent Yorkshire royalist, John, Lord Bellasis, became governor and to him fell the task of making good the defects in the fortifications and reorganizing the garrison on a permanent basis. The magazine was inspected, the walls and guardhouses were repaired, and the inevitable financial difficulties were overcome without acrimony. (fn. 175) Extensive precautions against invasion were taken during the Dutch wars, when the garrison was reinforced, pilots were impressed for naval service, and ships were kept ready for sinking in the mouth of the haven. Hull was again a supply base, the corporation patriotically agreeing to lend money for the initial expenses of billets and victuals. (fn. 176) Although the defences were not tested during these years the importance of the military stronghold at Hull led the government to undertake their total reconstruction east of the haven: the new Citadel was begun in 1681, but its completion was delayed by the familiar shortages of labour and money. (fn. 177)
Strategic and political considerations gave the government a stronger motive than usual for endeavouring to influence the conduct of municipal affairs and the choice of parliamentary representatives, while the presence of a governor and army officers potentially afforded a useful means of doing so. The successive high stewards of the town (fn. 178) were all men with close connexions at court, and in addition the influence of Bellasis, Monmouth, and Plymouth was enhanced by their tenure of the governorship. Between 1661 and 1685, therefore, the character of Hull's parliamentary representation changed as the result of rising political passions, the organization of political interests in the county, and the preoccupation of many leading townsmen with their own business overseas. Competition for the seats was strong, and there were several contests. Only one alderman, William Ramsden, was among the eight men serving in Parliament; four were members of local families, two were strangers and government nominees, and one was an army officer. Again, only one M.P., Andrew Marvell, sat both before and after 1660; his period of service covered three Parliaments, while William Ramsden, Sir Michael Warton, and William Gee each sat twice before the Revolution. (fn. 179)
At the election of 1661, when enthusiasm for the king's cause was at its height, the poll was headed by a royalist soldier, Col. Anthony Gilby, the deputy governor, who was supported by Bellasis, but Marvell was able to retain his seat despite his Cromwellian connexions; the former member and alderman, John Ramsden, and Edward Barnard, a local lawyer, were defeated. (fn. 180) The corporation, which was soon afterwards purged of aldermen whose loyalties were suspect, (fn. 181) showed further enthusiasm for the restored monarchy by choosing the Duke of Albemarle as high steward, (fn. 182) but early in 1663 it ignored a clumsy attempt by the governor to unseat Marvell for alleged neglect of duty and to replace him by a government nominee. (fn. 183) Gilby was always a staunch political supporter of the court and an enemy of conventicles; both members had a strong hatred of popery, but Marvell, who was a court dependent at first, moved into opposition later, showing sympathy with the nonconformists yet avoiding factions. (fn. 184) Indeed, in 1675 Marvell believed that the correspondence between himself and the corporation was being examined by the government, although it contained nothing incriminating. (fn. 185) Both Marvell and Gilby industriously supplied the corporation and Trinity House with news letters about national affairs in which there was obviously some interest in the constituency. (fn. 186)
There was open government interference in the by-election following Marvell's death in 1678, when political tension was rising. Shortly after the news was known Monmouth nominated a minor official, John Shales, who also had the support of Danby and the Duke of York. Such powerful recommendations were, however, resisted: Alderman William Ramsden was returned and attached himself to the Whigs. Although the issues at the time were coloured by the corporation's wish to assert the town's electoral independence, the result shows the growing disapproval in Hull of royal policy. (fn. 187) Similarly the court suffered another rebuff in the first election of 1679 when the corporation ignored the offer of the assiduous ex-member, Col. Gilby, to stand again. On this occasion Monmouth nominated Lemuel Kingdon, paymaster of the forces; the majority of the bench tried to avoid accepting the high steward's nominee, but Alderman George Crowle agreed to stand down in his favour. There were two Whig candidates, Alderman Ramsden and William Gee, a country gentleman with strong family links with the town. Ramsden and Kingdon were elected, a result showing a local cleavage of opinion, but Gee complained unavailingly of illegal pressure on the burgesses by the court interest. (fn. 188) By the time of the second election in 1679 the situation had changed. Ramsden did not stand, probably because of age and infirmity, but Monmouth, with growing hopes of being declared heir to the throne, decided to make no recommendation, and the corporation found it could therefore easily ignore Kingdon. Instead Gee and another local Whig gentleman, Sir Michael Warton, were returned without a contest, and the same men were re-elected unopposed in 1681, to the delight of the Whig press. (fn. 189)
During the next four years local opposition to the government grew, and matters were complicated by differences over the attack on dissenters as well as by the usual wish to maintain municipal independence. In 1680 the bench had split sharply on the question of the removal of an alderman suspected of being a nonconformist. (fn. 190) Moreover, in the autumn of 1681, with tempers raised by the 'Exclusion' crisis, a declaration of loyalty to the king by the aldermen was carried by only four votes to three, and in the following June it was decided by seven votes to four not to send an address abhorring the Whigs' 'association' to promote the exclusion of the Duke of York. (fn. 191) Following the fall of Monmouth, however, the government set about the task of restoring its influence. Its first nominee for the vacant governorship, the Earl of Mulgrave, quickly found his commission cancelled because he was suspected of adhering to Monmouth's interest. In his place a Tory, the Earl of Plymouth, was appointed, and shortly afterwards he became high steward as well at the request of the corporation, which had at first considered an invitation to the Marquess of Halifax. Its decision to ask Plymouth to serve instead was no doubt taken in the hope of securing the help of an influential patron at court. (fn. 192) Nevertheless, the political disaffection of Hull was a reason for the government's attack on the town's privileges in the summer of 1684, and the bench's unanimous decision to surrender the charter voluntarily was an attempt to avoid further trouble. (fn. 193)
An upsurge of enthusiasm in Hull, as elsewhere, greeted the accession of James II, but the governor had to insist on the inclusion of more fervently loyal phrases in the town's address to the new king. (fn. 194) In a tense atmosphere, with the corporation awaiting a new charter, the political influence of the royal government was at its height. At the election of 1685, therefore, although the corporation made some show of independence, it could not resist Plymouth's strong pressure for the right to nominate to both seats: one of his kinsmen, Sir Willoughby Hickman, and John Ramsden, a local man but another supporter of the court, were returned in preference to the two Whig ex-M.P.s Gee and Warton, who were routed at the poll. (fn. 195) With the corporation and burgesses thus overawed and with the local political tide running strongly in favour of the Stuart reaction, it is perhaps not surprising that Monmouth's rebellion aroused no response in a town where his cause had once been popular; the military authorities simply confined a number of suspects to their houses and imprisoned several enemies of the government in the Citadel. (fn. 196) At the same time royal power in Hull was further strengthened by the new charter which named Plymouth as recorder and permitted the government to interfere in the choice of aldermen. (fn. 197)
From time to time during the next two years more troops were garrisoned in Hull, partly to enforce obedience, and the government took additional steps to consolidate its hold on the town. In 1687 opinions were canvassed to see whether the two court supporters, Hickman and Ramsden, would be acceptable as M.P.s if Parliament were called, while shortly after, on Plymouth's death, Lord Langdale and Lord Dover, both Roman Catholics, were named governor and high steward respectively. (fn. 198) By the early summer of 1688, when royal measures had clearly alienated the majority of the aldermen, the government began further proceedings against the town's chartered rights and eventually removed its opponents from the bench. (fn. 199) At the same time the garrison was reinforced, but opposition grew, for the people of Hull had shown no liking for James's religious policy. (fn. 200) Perhaps recalling the lesson of 1642 the Privy Council took steps to ensure that Hull did not pass into the hands of the king's enemies: the governor was ordered to strengthen the garrison and fortifications and to be prepared to cut the dikes if a siege was threatened; the Citadel was provisioned and troops of the county militia marched in, only to be dismissed in the general administrative confusion. (fn. 201) Finally, in the mounting crisis, the king made a desperate attempt to achieve reconciliation in various places, including Hull, by restoring earlier charters and allowing displaced aldermen to resume office. (fn. 202)
Meanwhile, James's opponents in Yorkshire were making plans to gain control of Hull, for they were well aware of its strategic value and of the widespread hostility to the king in the town. Danby hoped that William of Orange could land at Hull; although this did not happen, Danby was nevertheless determined to make himself master of the place, calculating that possession of it would strengthen his personal position in the north and would cast him for the role of mediator in any negotiations between the king and the prince. (fn. 203) After York had fallen to Danby and his associates, a careful watch was kept on the movements of the garrison at Hull, and at the end of November Danby wrote to a trusted friend among the officers, urging him to assist in the surprise of the fortress. (fn. 204) The arrival of this letter was delayed, however, and the deputy governor, Capt. Lionel Copley, probably acted on his own initiative to forestall a scheme of Langdale's to seize all the Protestant officers in the garrison. On the night of 3 December Copley, together with the Protestant officers, some trusted soldiers, and a number of aldermen and reliable citizens, captured the governor, secured other Roman Catholic officers, took control of the Citadel, and declared for Prince William. There were no counter-measures, and the possession of the town by the prince's supporters put an end to all resistance in Yorkshire. (fn. 205)
Arrangements were at once made for military stores to be sent to Hull, (fn. 206) but Danby's request for the governorship was not immediately successful, for Sir John Hotham, who had landed at Torbay with William of Orange, was appointed. The corporation approved of the choice of a man so heavily committed to the prince's cause and made a point of expressing this view in its address to William thanking him for the deliverance of the country. (fn. 207) Another firm adherent of the prince, the Earl of Kingston, became the new high steward at the request of the corporation. (fn. 208) On the other hand, prudence possibly dictated the choice of members with differing standpoints for the Convention Parliament: one was Gee, the Whig gentleman, a close friend of Hotham, the other was John Ramsden, previously a court nominee. (fn. 209) Danby, however, was still determined to obtain for himself the governorship of Hull, which would provide him with a strong position in the event of a counter-revolution, and after Hotham's death in March 1689 he was appointed to the office; Copley, who had played such a notable part in the previous December, remained in his post. (fn. 210) The new regime was thus firmly established in Hull. Two aldermen were displaced for refusing to recognize the Protestant succession, and the only other sign of trouble was a complaint about the repayment of billet money to the townsmen, who showed their own loyalty to the new monarchy by forming a civilian guard in August 1689 when there was no garrison in the town. (fn. 211)
For his own ends Danby (fn. 212) was still trying to bolster his position in Hull, and in July 1690, after Copley's departure, his authority was increased by the appointment of his brother, Charles Osborne, as deputy governor, while six months later he himself became high steward on Kingston's death. (fn. 213) Danby could, therefore, exercise a strong influence on the choice of M.P.s for the town. Already in the election of March 1690 his patronage had secured, against some opposition, the return of his brother, a moderate Tory, along with Ramsden. Whig electoral fortunes recovered in 1695, but Osborne was able to use his own and his brother's position to retain his seat in the Tory interest; he was joined by Sir William St. Quintin, a Whig gentleman with many local links, to which he probably owed his victory over a Tory outsider. Osborne and St. Quintin were returned again in 1698, but in the elections of 1701, by which time Danby was in disgrace and had lost the governorship, St. Quintin was returned with another Whig, William Maister, a local man. (fn. 214)
Re-election was, therefore, a feature of the last years of the century, but the activities of a highly-placed patron did not deliver the town's parliamentary seats to outsiders: four of the five men who represented Hull between 1689 and 1702 were local men, the other was deputy governor. Only one member of the corporation, St. Quintin, served and he was M.P. before he became an alderman, but by being returned in 1690 John Ramsden set the seal on a notable family achievement, for a Ramsden had then represented Hull in seven Parliaments since 1659. It is likely that some electors had little regard to the political affiliations of these local men. The members kept the corporation informed of developments in the affairs of state and took an interest in matters affecting the well-being of the town. (fn. 215) One such matter was the quartering of soldiers during the years of war. (fn. 216) The only other problem to disturb harmonious relations between the town and the government at this time was the responsibility for repairs to the works on the east of the haven, a matter involving lawsuits in 1693 and 1699. (fn. 217) But these difficulties did not shake the town's loyalty to the Protestant monarchs, and when, a generation later, a statue of William III was erected in the market-place it was unveiled on the anniversary of Hull's revolt in December 1688 against James II and his popish soldiers.
The town constitution which had evolved during the Middle Ages remained substantially unaltered in the succeeding centuries. Certain trading privileges were granted by letters patent, (fn. 218) and Hull secured the confirmation of its chartered liberties in 1510, 1547, and 1553, while in 1552 the king conferred on the town important manorial rights along with control of the castle and blockhouses. (fn. 219) Although the detailed charter of 1598 in general confirmed earlier grants, it included only some of the innovations desired by the corporation: the date of the annual fair was altered; custody of orphans was vested in the corporation; the office of high steward, already existing, was officially recognized for the first time; and the date for swearing in a new mayor and sheriff was moved from 30 September to 18 October, thereby giving a convenient interval between the election and the entry into office. (fn. 220) In 1611 the corporation asked for a further confirmation of its charters, partly no doubt to safeguard its right to port dues; the letters patent of that year in the main restated privileges long enjoyed, and they finally settled the question of Trippett, granting the town possession of it. No more charters were granted to Hull until after the Restoration. (fn. 221)
The established structure of municipal government was not only unchanged in Tudor times, but there were only two recorded instances of outside interference in its electoral process. The first of these was the celebrated occasion in 1541 when the king personally intervened in the mayoral election, and the second came two years later when the Privy Council asked that Sir William Knowles should not be chosen mayor because of his responsibilities as customer in Hull. (fn. 222) In the 17th century, however, there was interference with the election of the mayor or aldermen on several occasions, always for political or religious reasons.
The first period of governmental infringement of the town's chartered rights fell between 1642 and 1662, when, because the security of Hull had a more than local importance, successive governments were determined that its administration should be in the hands of reliable men. This sequence of events began in 1643 when Raikes was prevailed upon, partly by military pressure, to accept re-election as mayor, and the following year Alderman Watkinson was displaced for royalism. (fn. 223) Early in 1650 Parliament appointed Raikes, a firm supporter, to act as deputy to the mayor, Pelham, whose duties as M.P. naturally involved frequent absences from Hull. (fn. 224) Later in the same year there was more blatant interference. There were two vacancies on the aldermanic bench, one caused by death, the other by the dismissal of Ramsden for failing to take the Engagement. Parliament resolved to fill the places with its own nominees, John Key and Francis Dewick, both of whom had served as sheriff during the Civil War. On the orders of the council of state Dewick was immediately appointed mayor, protests apparently being forestalled by the assurance that this nomination was without prejudice to the town's privileges. (fn. 225)
But intervention continued. By March 1651 Pelham's death caused another vacancy among the aldermen, and the council of state created two more by dismissing John Barnard and Robert Morton, whose political sympathies were suspect. In their stead the council named two ex-sheriffs, John Rogers and Richard Wood, and an exchamberlain, Lancelot Roper. This time the corporation showed some unwillingness to comply, making the excuse that Wood was inaccurately named in the mandate, but this objection was quickly overruled. (fn. 226) In September 1652, however, the government again intervened to put men of its own choice into positions of local responsibility: Rogers was nominated for the mayoralty, Alderman Richard Perkins was displaced, and the sheriff, William Raikes, was to succeed him. This arrangement seems to have been accepted without demur save by Raikes, who flatly refused to become an alderman, but it was not until January 1655 that a substitute was appointed, by free election. (fn. 227) These were the only breaches of Hull's chartered privileges during the Interregnum, for although the charters were inspected by the committee for corporations no alterations were ordered. (fn. 228) Likewise the election of Leonard Barnard to an aldermanship in 1656 provoked an investigation by Maj.-Gen. Lilburne because he was suspected of disaffection, but nothing happened. (fn. 229) Thus by 1652 five aldermen had been displaced by government order, but thereafter the corporation was able to conduct its elections freely in the customary way.
Reaction, and perhaps a measure of revenge, followed a year after Charles II's homecoming. In the order which banned Shawe's ministry the king also commanded the dismissal of the aldermen nominated by the republican governments in defiance of the charter. Of the five intruded aldermen, Key and Roper were already dead, but Dewick, Rogers, and Wood were at once removed. The fate of most of the aldermen dismissed in the 1650s is not known, but they may have been dead by 1661, for only John Ramsden was invited to resume his office, and when he refused an election was arranged to fill the vacancies: two ex-sheriffs from Cromwellian times, Richard Wilson and George Crowle, were chosen, along with William Raikes, who again objected to serving and only did so to avoid a fine. (fn. 230)
Later in 1661 the corporation sought a renewal of the charter, no doubt because of the political uncertainties of the time. The new charter, while confirming earlier grants, reserved to the Crown the future nomination of the high steward, recorder, and town clerk, all officers with much influence in town affairs. (fn. 231) This charter was one of the early signs of the Stuart attack on municipal independence, which soon began in earnest: by the autumn of 1662, despite the mayor's protest, the commissioners for regulating corporations were at work in Hull. The majority of the members of the corporation took the required oaths but the commissioners promptly dismissed two aldermen who refused to do so, William Raikes and Richard Vevers, both of whom had been elected since the Restoration. To fill the vacancies the commissioners appointed two men who had served as chamberlain during the Interregnum, Robert Bloom and Lancelot Anderson, but as the latter was quickly found to be unsuitable he was dropped, and William Skinner, a stranger to local office, was named instead. (fn. 232) The very limited nature of this purge, which did not affect any of the aldermen lawfully elected during the Interregnum, may have been due to some sacrifice of principle on their part, but it also reflects the generally moderate political and religious standpoint adopted by the corporation during the previous decade.
In addition to causing the removal of certain aldermen the statutory tests occasionally barred men from office: in 1663, for example, Edmund Popple was elected an alderman but was disqualified for refusing to renounce the Covenant. (fn. 233) Similarly, in May 1680 the bench, under pressure from the Privy Council to enforce the law, resolved by seven votes to three to dismiss Alderman Daniel Hoare for failing to take the sacrament. Hoare appealed to the council which ruled in his favour, whereupon the majority of the aldermen objected and asked for their decision to be upheld. After a legal wrangle the Privy Council decided against the reinstatement of Hoare who nevertheless took his place on the bench and had to be ejected by the mayor's officers before the corporation could fill the vacancy caused by his dismissal. (fn. 234) Throughout the dispute Hoare maintained his loyalty to the Church of England but his later career indicates connexions with nonconformity, while his few supporters among the aldermen showed similar sympathies. It is therefore probable that the affair marked the beginning of the attack on dissent in the town, as well as a further stage in the curtailment of local liberties. (fn. 235)
It was not until June 1684 that quo warranto proceedings were threatened against the corporation which at once decided to surrender the charter; accordingly it was taken to London in September. At the same time the corporation agreed to press for the inclusion in a new charter of several additional clauses which would benefit the town. (fn. 236) During the next ten months negotiations on these and other matters took place in London and were regularly reported to the mayor and corporation. Two questions caused difficulty. One was the possibility of compensation to the town for land taken into the Citadel, and this led to prolonged discussion. The other was the future composition of the aldermanic bench. At first it seemed that Thomas Johnson, an alderman of fourteen years' standing, was likely to be excluded on the advice of the high steward because of his nonconformist leanings. Johnson objected sharply, pointed to his voting record, and secured declarations of support from other aldermen, although it seems that the majority was against him. Likewise Plymouth opposed the reappointment of Robert Carlile, who was believed to have supported Gee and the Whig interest in the election of 1685, but Carlile's denial was endorsed by his brother aldermen, and after some hesitation Plymouth agreed to his inclusion. (fn. 237)
In the end the new charter granted in July 1685 generally confirmed the town's rights and constitution, but in naming the members of the corporation it retained Johnson and Carlile yet displaced three other aldermen, Francis Delacamp, Mark Kirby, and William Shires, for reasons now unknown. There was also a clause, normal in charters of this date, reserving to the Crown the right to remove town office-holders by Order in Council. At the corporation's request the dates for the mayoral election and swearing-in ceremony were rearranged to avoid the inconvenience of holding them on the sabbath. Finally, although the corporation failed in its attempt to rid itself of the burden of repairing the banks and jetties on the east side of the haven, the town was compensated for the loss of land used for the Citadel, maintenance of which was henceforth to be a royal responsibility. (fn. 238)
The charter of 1685 thus conferred some benefits on the town, at the same time as it extended royal influence over local government in order to further the king's designs. It remained in force for three years, and not until near the end of that time was there any more interference with Hull's liberties. In May 1688 quo warranto proceedings began again. The corporation was at first inclined to enter suit in defence of its rights, but changed its decision under pressure in the form of grievous costs and surrendered the charter; the deed of surrender included a firm assertion of the town's ancient liberties. On the other hand it was agreed to raise again the possibility of an extension of privileges, but before these requests could be pressed an Order in Council dismissed the entire corporation. For almost two months Hull lacked a governing body, but on two occasions at least the out-going bench met to transact public business.
In mid-September a new charter was granted, following the pattern normal at the time: it named the corporation and principal officers, giving the Crown the unqualified right to remove them and to fill any vacancy; and it dispensed members of the corporation from the provisions of the Corporation Act. Among the office-holders under the previous charter, only the recorder and the high steward (both royal nominees), Aldermen Johnson and Richardson, the sheriff, and the two chamberlains were retained. Hoare replaced Carlile as mayor, and there were eleven new aldermen in all; these included Delacamp and Kirby, ousted in 1685, while besides Hoare at least three others had nonconformist connexions, namely Anthony Ivison, John Robinson, and John Yates. The nomination of these men in particular shows that James took advantage of the relaxation of sacramental tests to recruit the bench from the generality of his supporters in the town. Although the parliamentary franchise was not mentioned in Hull's charter, as it was in grants made elsewhere, the beneficial clauses first included in 1685 were confirmed. (fn. 239)
Whether the corporation named by the charter of 1688 ever met is not known, for during the short period of its nominal existence the pages of the bench book are blank. The municipal structure erected by James II in Hull was, however, destroyed on 17 October by a royal proclamation which in effect annulled the charters of 1685 and 1688 by restoring to the town the liberties enjoyed before the proceedings began in 1684. (fn. 240) The corporation existing in June 1684 was therefore reinstated under the mayor at that time, Alderman Delacamp. The surviving members met on 6 November to recover official documents from the intruded officers and to arrange an election to fill vacancies: three of the aldermen of midsummer 1684 had died, and another, Kirby, was allowed to resign for lack of substance. Hence four new aldermen were elected; one of them, William Hydes, was at once chosen mayor, the fourth man to hold the office within five months. Three of the new aldermen had served on the bench under the charter of 1685, (fn. 241) but two of them, William Hayes and another William Skinner, were displaced in August 1689 for failing to take the new oath of allegiance and were later suspected of Jacobitism. (fn. 242) The Revolution of 1688–9 occasioned no further upheaval in the town's constitution, however, and the charter of 1665 remained the governing charter until municipal reform.
Under the charters the mayor and aldermen formed a largely self-perpetuating body with the major influence in the choice of town officers, and their independence in this matter was curtailed only intermittently during the period of purges and 'obnoxious charters' in the later 17th century. They nominated candidates for mayor, alderman, sheriff, and chamberlain, the final choice being made by themselves with an unspecified number of burgesses; by the 1690s 100 or even 150 of the latter were voting in these elections, but clearly the choice of candidate was all-important. Each aspirant to office moved through a cursus honorum which led to the mayoralty, but, as aldermen were appointed for life while the sheriff and chamberlains held office only for one year, in the nature of things a large number of men failed to reach the highest offices. Moreover, ex-sheriffs and ex-chamberlains had no special voice in town affairs, and while each office was usually recruited from former holders of the office immediately below, this was by no means always the case: political interference, for example, resulted in several men by-passing the shrievalty to become aldermen. (fn. 243)
Most would-be town rulers gained their first experience of elective office as chamberlain, a more arduous position during Tudor and Stuart times than in the 18th century, (fn. 244) and one which could involve financial risk for the holder, as well as much responsibility. The shrievalty, with its legal and ceremonial duties, gave a man further knowledge of the workings of the corporation, and holders of the office were, like the chamberlains, closely supervised in their work by the mayor and aldermen. The sheriff was obliged to reside in the town and was held responsible for the misdeeds of his officers, while on one occasion an ex-sheriff was gaoled until he paid certain dues to the recorder. In 1599, indeed, the corporation decided that sheriffs were to be liable to a fine of £200 for malfeasance in office. (fn. 245) During Elizabeth's reign less than half the ex-sheriffs were promoted to alderman, whereas the proportion was about two-thirds during the 17th century. Among the factors which determined whether an ex-sheriff joined the bench were ability, wealth, and the longevity of the sitting aldermen.
In most fields of public business the mayor and aldermen acted as one body, and it is impossible to discern any tendency for the power of the chief magistrate to grow at the expense of the rest. Unless a man died very soon after reaching the bench he could count on becoming mayor within a short time, for by Elizabeth's reign it had become the practice to raise new aldermen to the office within two or three years of their election. There were strict rules governing re-election to the mayoralty: no one was to serve twice until all the aldermen had served once; no one was to have a third term until all had had two; no one was to be re-elected within six years of holding office; and after 1558 no one was to be expected to bear the office more than three times because of the expense involved. (fn. 246) Observance of these rules meant that the elections were often a formality, and that throughout the period most of the aldermen were able to avoid serving as mayor more than once. Thus between 1509 and 1603 60 aldermen held the mayoralty: one served four times, 8 served three times, 15 served twice, and the remaining 36 only once. (fn. 247) From 1603 to 1702, when political interference affected membership of the bench, the office was shared by 77 aldermen: 26 served twice, 51 only once. (fn. 248) Since the mayoralty involved constant residence in Hull, the fact that it fell no more than once on the majority of aldermen was clearly a convenience for the leading members of a trading community with business elsewhere.
Scarcity of biographical material and the absence of inventories make it impossible to draw a clear picture of the wealth of the town's ruling group, but the surviving evidence gives some pointers to the social and economic status of its members. (fn. 249) The occupations of rather more than half of the aldermen can be determined, and of these the overwhelming majority were merchants, whose preponderance on the bench was maintained throughout the period. By comparison few other aldermanic occupations have been identified: the only non-merchant known to have sat in the 16th century was Thomas Alured, a local gentleman who held the customership, while in the following century there were at least five shipmasters, four drapers, a grocer, and an apothecary. Whether other occupations enjoyed better representation among the sheriffs and chamberlains is not known, but it is clear that, even if this were so, promotion to the bench came most readily to the merchants. This necessarily incomplete analysis confirms, as might have been expected, the local dominance of the mercantile group and emphasizes the close involvement of the town's rulers in the mainstream of its economic life.
Although a few of the aldermen suffered declining fortunes in later life, (fn. 250) the great majority remained men of substance to the last. Their wealth is revealed both in the tax returns of the period and in the personal and charitable bequests made in wills, of which the legacies of William Gee, Thomas Ferries, and Sir John Lister were the most notable. (fn. 251) Again, aldermen usually possessed a certain amount of property in the town, and rent, as well as trading profits, formed part of their income. Indeed the large number of tenements accumulated by such men as James Clerkson, William Bray, William Gee, Anthony Burnsall, and Anthony Cole, suggests that they, like the Daltons, Listers, and Ramsdens, had deliberately secured urban property as a long-term investment. (fn. 252)
Rural property was no less attractive to most of the aldermen, although many of them confined their interest to holdings in the hinterland of the town; this may reflect not merely a certain insularity of outlook but also a cautious desire to invest only in property which could readily be inspected. Nevertheless, some leading townsmen had extensive possessions in the country: Sir William Knowles had a house and estate at Bilton and lands elsewhere in Holderness; (fn. 253) John Gregory had interests in numerous places in the East Riding, and the same was true of the Daltons and of Thomas Raikes; (fn. 254) Thomas Swan had property in Holderness, the county of Hull, and further afield at Flamborough, Wistow, and Doncaster (W.R. Yorks.). (fn. 255) Several aldermen had possessions in Lincolnshire, and Sir John Lister, perhaps the most notable landowner, had property not only there but also in Derbyshire, Durham, and various parts of Yorkshire. (fn. 256)
Rural estates, furthermore, enabled members of some of the ruling families to quit the town, live as country gentlemen, and rise to a wider prominence: the sons of Luke Thurscross and Sir John Lister both settled down as local squires, at Langton and at Linton (near Malton, N.R. Yorks.), respectively; (fn. 257) a similar story could be told of the Stockdales; (fn. 258) and Alderman Gee's son, William, secured an estate at Bishop Burton, a knighthood, and the secretaryship of the Council in the North. (fn. 259) The Daltons abandoned municipal affairs after Robert's resignation from the bench in 1602, but they thenceforth figured as wealthy East Riding gentry, and one of them, Sir William, was king's attorney in the north. (fn. 260) Similarly, marriage alliances with the gentry were not uncommon, and these also linked the town with the countryside. The Stockdales had such ties with the Estofts and the Moysers; Henry Barnard's daughter married William Thompson, of Humbleton; (fn. 261) William Dobson's daughter married Sir Henry Thompson, of Middlethorpe (W.R. Yorks.); (fn. 262) and both the Barnards and the Ramsdens had connexions by marriage with the Boyntons. (fn. 263)
Intermarriage between the families of town leaders was much more frequent. During the 16th century, for example, Aldermen Jobson, Gee, and Cole had such links. The pattern of marital relationships became perhaps even more complex during the following century (fn. 264) when there were ties between Aldermen Lambert and Skinner, between Aldermen Henry Chambers, William Maister, and Richard Perkins, and between the great families of Barnard, Lister, and Ramsden. (fn. 265) Thus the list of aldermen usually included several men related by blood or marriage, and two other features also combined to give the bench the character of a closely-knit oligarchy: these were long service, and the presence of successive generations of the same family. During the 16th century there were several cases of notably long service: Sir John Eland, for example, served for more than 30 years and was mayor four times; John Thornton was an alderman for over 40 years, holding the mayoralty three times; and William Gee's record was similar. In the 17th century Bernard Smith was an alderman for 30 years, while Nicholas Denman held a place on the bench for 27 years and Sir John Lister for 24; several others were aldermen for about 20 years, but some aldermen, for political reasons among others, held office for only a short time. The Mattison, Stockdale, Thurscross, Rogers, Chambers, and Maister families, among others, all provided more than one alderman during the period. Above all, four families played a preeminent part in municipal life. The Barnards provided three aldermen and two recorders. Four members of the Dalton family served as aldermen, two of these were also M.P.s, and another, Sir William, was recorder. The elder John Lister was succeeded on the bench by his son, Sir John, and their combined service totalled 46 years. Finally, the Ramsdens, in addition to their outstanding parliamentary record, supplied three aldermen in the 17th century. (fn. 266)
In contrast to these families giving long service to the town, others became increasingly reluctant to accept such responsibilities. This was perhaps not surprising for, as the discharge of official duties was both costly and arduous, only a comparatively small number of burgesses had the means and the time to uphold the dignity of office. During the earlier 16th century avoidance of office was probably not common. At that time there were no conventions about payments for exoneration: permission to pay such a fine was sometimes refused, and exemption, when granted, was only for a term of years, not for life. In 1577–8, however, the corporation agreed to allow freemen to fine for the offices of chamberlain, sheriff, or alderman, and before the Civil War a number took advantage of this arrangement, paying fines which varied between £20 and £100, according to the office and, perhaps, the means of the individual. (fn. 267) Occasionally the sum demanded was higher: in 1625, for example, John Barnard was chosen to serve a second time as sheriff but, although he had been away abroad for much of his first term, he refused to serve again and a heavy fine was imposed on him. (fn. 268)
From the 1640s to the end of the century some men were no doubt anxious to avoid office on political grounds, and a steady stream of freemen fined for office. The rising number of exonerations was matched by an increase in the size of the fines: £100 might be demanded from those wishing to avoid the shrievalty, while the fine for alderman rose in some cases to £250. (fn. 269) Few of those who fined for office were ever formally candidates and presumably they paid when warned that they might be. This suggests that in Hull, as elsewhere, the corporation had by this time begun to threaten burgesses with election in order to bolster the town's shaky finances with their payments for exoneration, and this suspicion is strengthened by the scale of fines agreed in 1678: the sum for mayor was to be £500, for alderman £300, for sheriff £200, and for chamberlain £50. (fn. 270) The corporation exercised its discretion in imposing such heavy penalties, but subsequent fines were large; they did not, however, deter men wishing to avoid the troublesome obligations of office. (fn. 271) A fine was sometimes demanded from aldermen wishing to retire from what was strictly an appointment for life, but more often they were allowed, though not encouraged, to do so without penalty; resignation on account of ill-health, advanced age, or reduced circumstances was usually marked by the grant of a gratuity or a regular pension. (fn. 272)
The corporation met frequently, but mainly at irregular intervals, either in Holy Trinity or in one or other of the Guildhalls. (fn. 273) During the 16th century some attempt was made to establish a weekly meeting, and the mayor and aldermen occasionally assembled more often than that; usually, however, there was a longer interval between their sittings. (fn. 274) The political crisis of the early 1640s resulted in much more frequent meetings, mainly for business connected with defence, (fn. 275) but thereafter the corporation used to meet fortnightly on Thursdays, while still retaining some flexibility in its arrangements. (fn. 276) The mayor was normally present but the attendance of the aldermen varied considerably, being greatest on election days and averaging about seven at other times. In 1642 and 1643 more aldermen were present than hitherto, while both then and at other times small groups were most assiduous in attendance, and the preponderance of these men made the ruling group seem even more exclusive. (fn. 277) From time to time the corporation tried to discipline those aldermen who failed to attend, threatening fines and even displacement for continued absence. (fn. 278) Similarly in the autumn of 1666 the aldermen were seriously perturbed about the negligence of the mayor, Robert Bloom, who had been away for some time, first in Newcastle to pursue litigation and then in Scotland, where he was injured in an affray while gaming; after taking legal advice they removed him from the mayoralty and elected another alderman to complete his term. (fn. 279)
There was some formality about the conduct of meetings: aldermen took precedence in speaking and other matters by seniority, there was an elaborate ceremony when the mayor and other officers were sworn in, and scarlet gowns were worn both in council and on other official occasions. (fn. 280) Steps were taken to ensure that the records were kept in good order, while from 1555, soon after Simon Kemsey became town clerk, the bench books recorded formal minutes of meetings instead of miscellaneous memoranda as hitherto. A further important stage in the history of the archives was reached in 1700, when the corporation agreed to allow Abraham de la Pryme to catalogue the charters and other records. (fn. 281) In addition to the formality and ceremonial, town business was enlivened by feasting and drinking. Newly-elected aldermen and sheriffs were obliged to make a banquet, a custom which the corporation was careful to enforce except when plague made it inadvisable; and Midsummer was marked by a fish treat and other celebrations. There were junketings on special occasions such as a royal accession, while the Restoration was celebrated by much merry-making, in which the corporation gave hospitality to the officers of the garrison and provided drinks for the soldiers. The rare visits of royalty called forth lavish entertainment, and dignitaries of Church and State were always accorded a formal reception by the mayor and corporation, with wining and feasting, sometimes on shipboard. (fn. 282)
On at least two occasions men challenging the corporation grumbled about the lack of a representative body for the commons, but there is no sign of any widespread agitation to institute the sort of common council existing elsewhere. (fn. 283) As before, the corporation consulted selected burgesses on certain matters of general concern, chiefly financial: these included a dispute over measuring rights at the haven, the debts of the corporation, and the terms of leases for municipal property. A group of burgesses also audited the chamberlains' accounts. Leading burgesses were, moreover, drawn into the discussions about defensive measures in the Civil War. (fn. 284) It seems that increasing numbers of burgesses voted in parliamentary elections: only about two dozen of the most senior were called to participate in Elizabeth's reign, but by the later 17th century between 400 and 500 freemen cast their votes. Similarly, by that time over 100 burgesses were voting in elections for town office, even though the choice of mayor was something of a formality because of the rules. (fn. 285) Nevertheless, voting on candidates selected by the mayor and aldermen and intermittent consultation on a limited range of subjects gave the burgesses, however senior or substantial, no very effective voice in municipal affairs.
A greater influence was probably exercised by the professional element in the government of the town. The recorders of the period included two lawyers of considerable distinction, Sir Thomas Gargrave, Vice-President of the Council in the North, and Francis Thorpe, a judge during the Interregnum, while two others, Sir William Gee and Sir William Dalton, also held important offices under the Council in the North. As principal legal adviser the recorder was consulted on questions involving the town's jurisdiction, privileges, and interests; a solicitor was sometimes appointed to assist him. (fn. 286) For a short time during the 1680s the king treated the recordership as a means of political influence, but after 1688 the office was restored to its original character. (fn. 287) Routine legal business and municipal administration in general were conducted by the town clerk, with his assistants. Three holders of this office gave long service: John Lewes, clerk for more than 20 years in Elizabeth's reign, William Smeaton (1606–26), and Charles Vaux (1648–80). (fn. 288) The recorder enjoyed a fee from the corporation as well as occasional presents of ale or wine in recognition of his services, and the town clerk had a regular salary in addition to certain fees and perquisites.
There were also numerous minor official posts which had for the most part been created in medieval times and were concerned with a variety of duties, both ceremonial and practical. Two of the most important, the mastership of the weigh-house and the office of water-bailiff, were frequently farmed during this period, (fn. 289) but small wages were paid to several lesser officers, including the sword- and mace-bearers, the clockand gate-keepers, porters, the waits, and the mayor's cook. (fn. 290) The common officer, later called the town husband, seems to have been first appointed in Tudor times to look after the corporation's property, but by the mid-17th century he had accepted much wider financial responsibilities. (fn. 291) Lastly, in 1629 a scavenger was appointed. (fn. 292)
At meetings of the corporation a great variety of business was transacted: civic elections; maintenance of the town's privileges and interests; public order; the regulation of trade and industry; the upkeep of municipal property; provision of elementary public services; poor relief; religious and educational affairs; and the management of the town's finances. The routine nature of much of this work is reflected in the repetitious entries in the bench books, but there are few signs of the internal squabbles which racked corporate bodies in some other places. From time to time a lengthy series of by-laws, known as the 'mayor's cry', was proclaimed; these were far-reaching in character, touching the conduct of both social and business life. For their enforcement, and for the good government of the town in general, two aldermen had a special responsibility in each of the six wards, as in the Middle Ages; they organized, for example, the watch by householders through the wards in times of plague or of political emergency. (fn. 293)
The structure of the law courts also remained unaltered from earlier times, but commercial expansion after 1500 meant that the corporation's jurisdiction in civil pleas and in Admiralty matters became increasingly useful and convenient to the townsmen. (fn. 294) Law-breakers were presented by constables and juries to the mayor and aldermen, whether sitting as members of the corporation or as Justices of the Peace in Quarter Sessions, where they tried the usual range of offences. (fn. 295) In Elizabeth's reign they were occasionally commissioned to deliver the gaol, and in 1583 they requested the Lord President of the Council in the North to do so, while at irregular intervals in these centuries a summer assize lasting one day was held at Hull: there were twelve such sittings between 1658 and 1678. (fn. 296) None of the recorded breaches of public order was serious enough to suggest deep unrest in the town, but from time to time, as elsewhere, the authority of the mayor and aldermen was challenged by slanderous attacks or other forms of disrespect. (fn. 297) Two such outbursts, in 1577 and 1643, involved charges of partiality and revealed a measure of antagonism towards the ruling group by substantial men on its fringe. (fn. 298)
The corporation was not involved in any major conflicts of jurisdiction except those arising from trading disputes with other towns. (fn. 299) Similarly, thanks to Hull's staunch Protestant loyalty, its relations with the central government were on the whole harmonious, and differences were largely confined to taxation and military charges until the later Stuart kings began to tamper with the charters. Occasionally town deputations went to London to discuss matters of particular concern—Sir John Lister, for example, was very active in such work (fn. 300) —and the institution of the lord high stewardship in 1584 gave the corporation the chance to appoint a succession of distinguished and powerful patrons who could, and did, act as friends at court for the town. (fn. 301)
The lord high steward sometimes influenced the choice of M.P.s, who formed the link with Parliament and national affairs. During the 17th century several of the M.P.s, above all Gilby and Marvell, wrote assiduously to the town about political questions. In turn they received instructions from the bench on a variety of business which involved the interests of their constituents, including tolls, lightships, the charters, the advowson, the supply of ordnance, and the lead trade. (fn. 302) The local men who formed the majority of the M.P.s no doubt already had some personal knowledge of such matters, and on one occasion, shortly before his death, Marvell visited Hull specially to discourse with the corporation about the town's affairs. (fn. 303) For much of the period the M.P.s received wages. Before 1640 the money was provided by a special local assessment known as knight's pence and levied when occasion demanded. In that year, however, Lister and Vane took nothing more than a barrel of ale, but in 1641 Pelham secured an order from the bench allowing him 6s. 8d. daily from the town's funds. This seems to have established a precedent, for thereafter the M.P.s were paid at that rate until 1679, when Hull ceased to pay its members. The practice had endured so long partly because in Hull, as in other seaports, there was a steady flow of local business, and partly because few outsiders were chosen, but it ceased when the election of two country gentlemen altered the usual character of the town's parliamentary representation. (fn. 304) The high steward enjoyed a regular fee, and both he and the M.P.s received occasional gifts of ale or wine in appreciation of their services. (fn. 305)
To meet the expenses of government the corporation had numerous sources of income at its disposal. Four of these were particularly important: rents from property, fines paid by strangers for licence to sell goods, profits from local tolls, and manorial revenues. In addition there were occasional loans and charitable bequests, which meant capital accretion, and fines for exoneration from office, which, as already noted, had become an important source of money by the 17th century. Minor but regular receipts included fines from the courts and the town's share of guild fees, while an irregular income was derived from sales of property and from profits on trading deals by the corporation. The management of these funds was in the hands of various men. Much, but by no means all, of the revenue was administered by the two chamberlains, who each paid £20 into the common stock, as in the Middle Ages, and who kept separate accounts which were audited by selected burgesses at the end of the financial year. Certain revenues were, however, appropriated to the mayor, who met a number of expenses from them and who accounted for them himself. Moreover, at some time, possibly but not certainly in the 16th century, the practice developed of paying some of the money straight into the town chest, which was controlled, not by the chamberlains, but by the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 306)
Rents of property became an increasingly important part of the funds handled by the chamberlains, the rental including gardens, shops, and other tenements in all parts of the town, chambers and cellars attached to the inner side of the walls, and the grazing of Garrison Side. In the mid-16th century the chamberlains' income from rents was about £50 a year, but it rose by more than half during the last decades and the yield continued to grow during the 17th century, reaching about £180 in the 1650s and £250 by 1700. (fn. 307) From time to time the income from property was increased by the improvement of rents, by the more careful management of leases, and by proceedings against tenants in arrears. (fn. 308) Similarly, the manorial revenues from Myton and Sutton collected by the chamberlains after the mid-16th century rose from about £150 a year to about twice that figure by 1660, falling back to £250 a year during the later 17th century. (fn. 309)
Fines for strangers to trade fluctuated in response to economic circumstances and the will of the corporation to enforce its rights: in Elizabeth's reign the chamberlains rarely derived less than £50 a year from this source, and the proceeds sometimes topped £80, but they steadily dwindled to nothing between 1600 and 1640. (fn. 310) Various local tolls together produced an important part of the chamberlain's revenues. The market tolls were usually let during this period at an annual farm which rose to £40 by the 1690s. The water-bailiff's dues on goods shipped usually amounted to some £50–£60 a year before 1600; they were leased in the 17th century for sums ranging between £30 and £50 a year, being fixed at £40 during the last two decades of the century. Other port dues collected by the water-bailiff were jettage, hostage, ballastage, and anchorage. They usually brought in £10–£30 in the later 16th century and often £50–£100 in the 17th century. They were normally accounted for by the chamberlains, though some were received by the mayor in the late 17th century.
The weigh-house dues were let at a farm rising from £33 yearly in 1570–1 to £260 in 1634–5. During the next 30 years, when the weigh-house was sometimes farmed, sometimes managed by an accountant, the chamberlains continued to receive either the entire farm, which rose to £340 in 1662–3, or the profits, which fluctuated in those troubled times between £18 in 1640–1 and £484 in 1653–4. From the 1670s onwards, however, when the weigh-house was no longer farmed, the chamberlains received a constant £200 a year from the profits, the remainder of which went straight into the chest, while after 1685 they ceased to receive any money from this source, and the chest received all the proceeds. (fn. 311) Finally, from time to time, other sources of income produced large sums: the sale of licences for the export of corn, for example, raised over £1,400 between 1577 and 1583; (fn. 312) in 1641–2 fines for leases totalled £535; (fn. 313) and in 1674–5 fines for office amounted to £270. (fn. 314)
The chamberlains used these monies to pay fees and salaries, to defray the expenses of litigation, entertainment, and administration, and to pay for repairs to the walls, streets, and municipal property. The amount spent on salaries roughly doubled: in 1563–4 it was £95, by 1694–5 it had reached £192, despite some slight reductions agreed in 1689. The mayor's salary swallowed a large part of this sum, increasing from £40 in the mid-16th century to £80 by 1700, money which was largely spent on entertainment. The town clerk's salary also rose, from £6 13s. 4d. in mid-Tudor times to £20 at the end of the period. By the 1680s the town husband was receiving a yearly salary of £24. Fees were often paid to preachers; and a number of humbler town officers, some of them probably part-time, received wages ranging from £4 to £12 a year. (fn. 315) Repairs to property and building were a heavy and increasing charge on the town's finances. The amounts varied, of course, but in the 16th century they were seldom less then £100 a year, while after 1600 they usually ranged between £100 and £200, rising above £400 in 1650–1 and above £300 in 1684–5. In addition, expenditure on the corporation's manors was considerable and reached more than £450 three times in the 17th century, though the more usual annual total was between £200 and £300. The miscellaneous payments made every year 'by command' always bulked large in the chamberlains' expenditure. Before 1600 sums ranging from £150 to over £300 were involved but much larger amounts were sometimes paid out in the earlier 17th century: thus over £1,000 was spent under this head in 1627–8, and only slightly less than that seven years later. After 1660 the scale of such payments was much smaller and sometimes fell below £100 during the last decade of the century. These 'commandments' included expenditure for entertainment, presents, law-suits, and the maintenance of the castle. (fn. 316)
In all, the chamberlains usually handled £150–£250 of the town's monies each year during the earlier 16th century, a sum which frequently exceeded £900, sometimes £1,000, before 1600. During the first quarter of the 17th century the funds at the chamberlains' disposal were somewhat diminished, but after the 1620s they often amounted to £1,200–£1,400, despite some lean years. After 1685, however, they dwindled rapidly to about £800 a year, as a result of the decay of certain revenues. The chamberlains' regular sources of income were sometimes insufficient to meet expenditure and whenever that happened they had recourse to money taken from the stock accumulated in the town's chest. (fn. 317) In addition to such emergency payments, the practice of granting the chamberlains a 'float' of £200 a year from the chest seems to have begun about 1537 and continued until the 1590s; it was resumed spasmodically after 1627 and paid regularly for some years after 1658, although it seems to have lapsed in the 1680s. (fn. 318)
When the chamberlains had a surplus at the end of the year they paid it into the chest, but a great deal more reached the chest without ever passing through the chamberlains' hands. Absence of records for much of the period prevents an exact determination of its stock, but surviving accounts after 1654 show that among the monies paid into the chest during the later 17th century were fines for exonerations, legacies, loans, interest, fee-farm rents, the balance of the mayor's personal account, and the profits accruing when the weigh-house was not farmed. Outgoings from the chest included loans to townsmen and even to the government, the purchase of the fee farm in 1650, and payments for expenses similar to those met by the chamberlains; apart from charitable bequests, the amount in the chest ranged from £735 in 1658 to £675 30 years later, but it had fallen to £81 in 1699. (fn. 319)
It is likewise impossible to ascertain many details of the mayor's account, for which there is little evidence until the 1690s. At that time the mayor had a rental of his own, together with miscellaneous revenues from court and freemens' fines, sales of goods and stone, and certain port dues, namely jettage and ballastage from strangers and aliens' hostage. The mayor's expenses were equally various but grants for poor relief were an important part of them; the mayor handled between £300 and £400. (fn. 320) The existence of the mayor's funds and those of the chest, outside the control of the chamberlains, as well as the loss of records, makes it impossible to draw up a complete balance sheet. But the occasional deficits, the often small surpluses, and the modest stock of capital show that the corporation's financial position was usually precarious, and this meant that in Hull, as elsewhere during this period, the authorities were reluctant to shoulder new financial burdens or to undertake the provision of costly buildings or amenities.
The corporation paid considerable attention to the maintenance of the staiths and to the protection of the banks of the haven, where damage caused by erosion and dilapidation always threatened to reduce the advantages of the natural shelter afforded by the River Hull. The common staiths were repaired regularly, and owners of private jetties along the west bank were frequently enjoined to keep their property in a sound condition, lest the collapse of a shed or jetty should cause an obstruction. When necessary, orders were issued for the removal of goods or wagons which blocked the landward approaches to the staiths. (fn. 321) In order to preserve the banks there were occasional attempts to persuade shipmasters not to berth at a staith but to unload their vessels by catch. (fn. 322) This did not solve the problem and in the later 17th century the corporation agreed to the construction of fenders along the bank to assist mooring; it was reluctant, however, to allow any more piles to be driven in because they would inconveniently narrow the river. (fn. 323)
By early Stuart times general control of the port was in the hands of a harbour master appointed by Trinity House. (fn. 324) The main problem was congestion, which formed the subject of repeated orders by both the House and the corporation. Attempts were made to restrict the numbers of ships lying in the haven at any one time: ships were not allowed to tie up more than two abreast, masters were asked to berth stern on and to unload over the stern, the use of catches was further encouraged, and an effort was made to keep vessels standing out in the Humber as long as possible, even in winter. (fn. 325) As trade expanded overcrowding in the haven became worse so that berthing three abreast was allowed, and North Bridge was enlarged in the 1670s, partly to allow more ships to pass above it. In the late 17th century many boats out of commission were moored above the bridge, and more than 200 keels a year paid for anchorages there. (fn. 326)
Congestion in the haven and rivalry for berths caused numerous collisions as well as deliberate damage to vessels and the cutting of cables: Trinity House sat in judgment upon a great number of such cases and awarded compensation to injured parties. (fn. 327) A much greater danger was that of fire, which could easily sweep through the craft moored close together at the staiths. From 1564 onwards, after a big fire on the Dragon, the corporation regularly banned candles and fires on shipboard, enjoined shipwrights to be careful about heating pitch and tar on board, banned fires on the staiths, and arranged inspections by the town husband to ensure that these orders were obeyed. (fn. 328) Such precautions seem to have been effective. The corporation also recognized the need to keep the river channel clear: it persistently tried to ban the tipping of rubbish which might cause silting in the haven or produce a bar across its mouth. (fn. 329) Similarly wrecks and derelict boats were either to be cleared or broken up. (fn. 330) Finally, another method of clearing the haven was to allow shipmasters, at a fee, to dig sand and shingle for ballast, and in 1678 it was ordered that half of every ship's ballast was to be taken from the haven. (fn. 331)
Port facilities at Hull, as elsewhere, remained rudimentary throughout the period. In addition to the common staiths and cranes, some merchants had their own jetties, cranes, and warehouses adjoining their residences in High Street. (fn. 332) Ships were loaded and unloaded by seamen, with the assistance of catchmen when goods were handled 'in the water': only burgesses might use their own catches, others had to employ the common catchmen who also supplied ballast. (fn. 333) On land, merchants could employ the services of common porters, whose work and charges were controlled by the corporation; after 1592, as the bulk of goods passing through the port increased, the bench appointed a number of labourers to help the porters. Sledmen, also controlled by the corporation, carried goods to the market or to different parts of the town on sledges pulled by horses. (fn. 334) Goods bound to or from Beverley, or York and other places on the Ouse, were loaded into keels of 30 to 40 tons for the river passage, while for passengers there were ferries across both the River Hull, at least until North Bridge was built, and the Humber. (fn. 335)
In response to the increase in shipping more navigational aids were provided. From 1512, for instance, Trinity House provided river pilots in the Humber in addition to its examination of shipmasters in the arts of navigation. (fn. 336) During the later 16th century the House also began to undertake the buoyage of the Humber, while at the end of the century a 'dolphin' was placed at the mouth of the River Hull to help ships in and out of the haven. (fn. 337) Trinity House was always reluctant, however, to have beacons or lighthouses along the coast and opposed various schemes in the 17th century for lights at Flamborough or Spurn Head. (fn. 338) To defray its expenses Trinity House levied certain tolls, which were increased from time to time, on shipping using the port, and it experienced the difficulties familiar in the collection of such dues. By the late 17th century one of the problems was that of collecting buoyage and beaconage from the large number of ships which entered Hull roads but did not go into the haven. (fn. 339)
Similar difficulties arose about the payment of customs in the port, for Hull still lacked a public legal quay, and an increase in the staff of the customs office did not prevent evasion of dues. (fn. 340) For a short time after 1579 the corporation leased the customs in Hull from the Crown, but a dispute ensued about arrears, and during the rest of Elizabeth's reign relations between customs officials and townsmen were strained. (fn. 341) The officials themselves were not above reproach, as the lawsuits brought against them by local people for corruption and fraudulent practices bear witness; the accusations culminated in the disgrace of the searcher, Anthony Atkinson, for his malpractices. (fn. 342)
In addition to the customs dues, goods and ships passing through the port were, as in the Middle Ages, subject to local tolls. Strangers' goods had to be landed at the weigh-house, where shore-duties were charged for weighing, measuring, carriage, and storage; burgesses could also use the weigh-house, but at more favourable rates. The weigh-house had its own staith, crane, and weigh-beam and its own catches and porters for moving the freight. (fn. 343) In the 16th century it was still used for various goods, including wool and cloth, but by the early 17th century lead was the commodity chiefly handled there. (fn. 344) The corporation defended its right to weigh strangers' goods and the privilege was confirmed in the charter of 1611, (fn. 345) but more and more merchants ignored the obligation, which was difficult to enforce: thus some lead was landed at private staiths, some was not landed at all but taken direct to other ports. (fn. 346) Agreements for the payment of weigh-house dues were made with London lead dealers in 1635, with various lead merchants in 1657, and with those of Derbyshire in 1675, but with little permanent effect, and in 1683 the corporation failed to win a legal decision in favour of its claim to these dues. (fn. 347) The revenues from the weigh-house fell as its business declined, but by a reduction in staff it was able to produce a small profit during the closing years of the 17th century. (fn. 348) The water-bailiff also encountered difficulties in collecting the various dues for which he was responsible during the period. The rates of toll on goods shipped were increased in 1575, but the proceeds were inevitably reduced when trade was bad and merchants constantly avoided payment by misrepresenting foreign goods as those of freemen. (fn. 349) There were, too, as in the Middle Ages, many towns whose merchants were exempt from tolls in Hull; 21 such towns were listed in 1575. (fn. 350) Port-duties were perhaps easier to collect, but the water-bailiff paid these either to the chamberlains or to the mayor: they were thus absorbed by general expenditure, instead of being earmarked for improvements in what had become by the end of the 17th century a much overcrowded haven with inadequate port facilities.
Trade and Shipping
The outports shared in the commercial recovery of Henry VII's reign, and early in the 16th century the trade of Hull was the most valuable on the east coast. During the brief period of prosperity before 1520 between 50 and 100 ships a year, most of them English, were entering Hull from foreign ports. (fn. 351) Most of this traffic was with the Low Countries, where there was fierce competition from the Londoners. Exports of wool to Calais rallied somewhat after 1500, reached their highest point for 30 years in 1508–9, and enjoyed a further short recovery between 1516 and 1520; at that time the cargoes employed more than a quarter of the ships leaving Hull. (fn. 352) Thereafter, although the Staplers continued to make shipments of wool from the port, the amounts involved were small and had dwindled to insignificance by the 1570s. (fn. 353) There was also a limited trade in cloth, much of it carried in Dutch or Flemish ships, with Antwerp, whence a variety of European and Asiatic goods was imported. (fn. 354) Cloth and large quantities of skins and hides were exported to the Baltic, in return for flax, pitch, and tar, and a small number of Hull-owned ships participated in this branch of commerce, which was dominated by the Danzigers. (fn. 355) Each year English ships, probably those which had taken the wool clip to Calais, brought wine into Hull from Bordeaux, while in the early decades of the 16th century there was a flourishing trade between Hull and Normandy, where lead was exchanged for wine, salt, and onions. (fn. 356) There is no evidence to suggest that any Hull vessels entered the Mediterranean, but there was a modest export of lead and cloth to Spain and Portugal, which provided wine and oil in return. (fn. 357)
During the earlier 16th century the only other forms of maritime activity at Hull were fishing, (fn. 358) privateering, (fn. 359) and a modest but thriving coastal trade, in which many of the smaller locally-owned ships were engaged. (fn. 360) There was some increase in the numbers of these ships before mid-century: it was recorded that some 20 ships were owned at Hull in 1520, 23 in 1544, and 35 in 1550. Most of these were small ships, but there were some larger ones: two local ships of 250 tons each were mentioned before 1525, while the list of 1544 included six comparatively large ships of over 100 tons each. This resurgence of Hull's shipping was due to the demands of the coastal trade and of London merchants for extra tonnage, rather than to any improvement in Hull's oversea trade. (fn. 361) Hull ships took a smaller share of that trade as wool exports declined, while after 1520 both the number of sailings and the proportion of English ships using Hull dropped. The oversea trade of the port was in decline after 1520, and in the thirties, when the Hanseatic merchants who handled a large part of the cloth exports abandoned Hull for London, their business was not secured by the town's merchants. (fn. 362) From that time the trade in cloth, Hull's chief export, diminished steadily: between 1537 and 1542 an average of only two ships a year reached Antwerp from Hull, for most of the West Riding cloth sold abroad then went through London. As a result of this competition from the merchants of the capital Hull handled less than 1 per cent. of the country's cloth exports in the late 1540s, by which time the trade of the port was sinking to the depressed level of a hundred years earlier. (fn. 363)
Maritime activity at Hull began to increase again about the middle of the 16th century. The number of Hull ships unlading in the Zeeland anchorages grew from two a year to twelve, rising to about 20 in the 1560s. At the same time Hull ships were sailing through the Sound into the Baltic in greater numbers, soon reaching about 20 a year, and Hull men, like other English merchants, were clearly challenging the Hanseatics in their own preserves. (fn. 364) This challenge extended as far afield as Narva, where merchants trading through Hull were among the first to do business with the Russians, in defiance of the Russia Company's attempt to impose a monopoly. The interloping continued into the 1570s, by which time Hull merchants had made good their right to take part in the trade of the company, which some of them joined. (fn. 365) The enterprise of Hull men in penetrating so far into the Baltic shows their familiarity with Baltic waters and with the markets of the area. (fn. 366)
Furthermore an increase in the size and number of vessels owned at the port suggests longer voyages and expanding trade. In 1560 Hull had six ships of 100 tons or more, a figure which had risen to ten by 1572, and the total later included two ships of 150 tons and one of 200. In 1572 there were 40 locally-owned vessels in the port. This increase continued during the prosperous 1570s until in 1582 about 2,500 tons of shipping were owned at Hull. (fn. 367) At least eighteen of these ships were of 80 to 100 tons, and were large enough for the Baltic, French, and Spanish trades; the medium-sized vessels of between 30 and 80 tons went to Antwerp, while the smaller ones were mostly coasters. (fn. 368)
The commercial basis of Hull's maritime growth was the expanding manufacture of cheap kerseys in the West Riding. Exports of this northern cloth rose rapidly for about 20 years after 1565, as the town began to take advantage of the products of its promising hinterland, and a further sharp increase took place in the 1590s. (fn. 369) The activity of Hull's merchants and mariners in the Baltic trades began to increase at the same time as the Londoners' much greater oversea business, which was concentrated at Antwerp, began to run into difficulties there because of political crises in the Low Countries. The same upheavals diverted Dutch attention from the Baltic for some years, during which English merchants, including those of Hull, were able to gain for themselves a growing share of that market; in this they were helped by the contemporary attack on Hanseatic privileges in English trade. Thus a firm basis was laid for Hull's commerce which thenceforth was closely bound up with the Baltic. (fn. 370)
From there the Hull traders brought in flax, which was required in growing quantities by the manufacturers of linen and of sailcloth canvas. Beginning in the 1570s Hull regularly imported several hundred tons of flax every year, an undertaking which involved the use of much shipping. Along with flax came other naval stores—hemp, pitch, tar, and timber—imports which reached a peak in 1586–7 when naval preparations against a Spanish invasion were in full swing. In addition, after 1580 corn, especially rye, was imported in varying quantities as the yield of the harvests at home demanded. During good years Hull exported corn, but during the food shortage of the 1590s large quantities were imported. This made possible a great increase in Hull's cloth exports which reached their highest point in 1598–9, at a time when the town was petitioning to be made the staple for the export of northern kerseys. Flax and corn remained the chief elements in Hull's imports from the Baltic until the late 17th century. (fn. 371)
The position of the Hull traders, in common with that of other Englishmen in the Baltic, was only established with difficulty, for Danzig firmly upheld the Hanseatic privileges. Troubles mounted until, in 1579, the English were provoked to transfer their mart to Elbing, and in order to consolidate the organization of their newlythriving trade the merchants founded the Eastland Company. In this the influence of the Londoners was strong, but merchants trading from Hull, who had hitherto made much use of the port of Danzig, quickly established themselves at Elbing and were able to secure their own rights in the new company. (fn. 372)
In trading with the Low Countries Hull's previously strong connexions with Antwerp were maintained as long as that port remained the Merchant Adventurers' staple: in 1566–7, for example, 25 ships sailed from Hull to Antwerp, compared with 14 to other places in the Low Countries. Despite political difficulties and the loss of the Antwerp market, trade with the Low Countries continued: in 1588–9 16 ships left Hull for various ports in the area, including Middelburg, Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, and Rotterdam. Hull merchants traded in the various staple towns of Germany or the Netherlands, and although this trade, carried on in the face of Hanseatic and London competition, showed none of the spectacular growth of the Baltic commerce, it remained important. (fn. 373) While Hull exported cloth and a certain amount of lead, it imported from the Low Countries miscellaneous cargoes including alum, madder, and oil for the textile industry, wine and hops, glass and battery ware, and sugar, rice, ginger, and Flanders treacle. (fn. 374) Finally, the trade with France and Spain in wine and other commodities also made a valuable contribution to Hull's commerce and to the variety of goods passing through the town. (fn. 375)
Apart from political upheavals and the competition of Hanseatic, East Anglian, and London merchants, the traders of Hull had to contend with piratical attacks upon their shipping. These seem to have been unusually numerous while commerce was especially active in the 1570s and 1590s, when the seafarers of Hull armed ships to take action against the pirates, apparently with some success. (fn. 376) On one occasion Hull complained bitterly of pirates and Londoners alike, (fn. 377) yet despite all these obstacles the last four decades of the 16th century saw a continuous and rapid growth of the town's oversea trade. This was associated particularly with the Baltic, for Hull was coming to be, after London, the chief importer of the products of that region. The balance of Hull's trade may have been favourable: in 1588–9, for example, customs revenue from exports greatly exceeded that from imports; and by the last decade of the century Hull had developed such a considerable foreign trade that in 1594–5 in yield of customs it ranked fourth among the outports. (fn. 378)
A measure of expansion in the coastal trade meant that before 1600 more than 60 ships a year visited the port; all of these were English, many were Hull-owned, and there were other Hull vessels which plied their trade along the coast without touching their home port. By this traffic Hull secured a great variety of commodities, while it supported the shipping and economies of smaller 'creeks and havens' by importing foodstuffs from them and by supplying loads of wine and luxuries in exchange. But Hull's coastal trade, unlike that of King's Lynn or Newcastle, was much less important than its trade overseas. (fn. 379)
Cargoes were miscellaneous, but lead figured prominently among them. Supplies came down the Humber from Derbyshire or the Pennine dales of Yorkshire, and disputes arose when it was loaded at Bawtry (W.R.) or York on to sea-going craft, which did not call at Hull. Lead was shipped to numerous places, but above all to London. (fn. 380) A certain amount of cloth also went to London, as well as to Lynn and other ports. (fn. 381) In addition there was a bulky and increasing trade in foodstuffs. London received shipments of corn from Hull at various times, and occasionally butter and cheese as well, while sizeable cargoes also went to Tyneside, East Anglia, and, more rarely, to Scotland. (fn. 382) Early in the 16th century the Fife coalfields exported growing amounts of coal to Hull, but by mid-century this trade had been superseded in quantity by the import of coal from Tyneside. Before 1600 5,000 to 6,000 tons of coal a year were being brought into Hull from Newcastle, some of it for re-export, and the volume of this trade exceeded that in lead. (fn. 383) From London Hull received domestic goods, the products of haberdashers and upholsterers for example, along with spices and groceries of all kinds. (fn. 384)
Fish was imported from East Anglia, the north-east coast, and above all from Scotland, where a trade in fish from the Fife ports flourished until the 1580s but slackened before 1600. (fn. 385) Hanse merchants brought in fish, which also came from a number of ports in the Low Countries, the Baltic, and Scandinavia, including Bergen and Marstrand. (fn. 386) This trade in fish was important because the Icelandic fishery carried on by Hull men in the Middle Ages seems to have come to an end in the 1520s, and during the rest of the century it is possible that very little coastal fishing was done from Hull. (fn. 387) Nevertheless, Hull seafarers went about their business in more distant waters, fishing and trading, at least from the 1570s, along the Norwegian coast to Lapland and Vardö, and beyond to Russian harbours on the Kola Peninsula. Their voyages became more frequent after 1580 and aroused the opposition of both the Russia Company, which sought to defend its privileges in the area, and the Danish king, who in 1599, for example, seized five Hull ships fishing off Vardö. (fn. 388) The presence of Hull men in these northern waters, however, resulted in their participation in whaling before the end of the 16th century, when Hull whalers were already active off Bear Island and Spitzbergen. (fn. 389)
A number of expeditions left Hull in the early years of the 17th century, when the whale fishery off Trinity Island was largely developed by Hull men who brought back valuable cargoes of whale-oil. Although on at least one occasion seamen from the port were able to help voyagers sponsored by the Russia Company, rivalry grew rapidly, probably because of the Hull whalers' success, and by 1614 the Company was again trying to enforce a monopoly in northern waters. (fn. 390) In 1618 Hull successfully challenged this attempt, but disputes continued: in 1626, for example, it was alleged that Hull crews had destroyed the Company's whaling settlement in Bell Sound. The Hull mariners steadily maintained their right to a share in the whaling, in return for their efforts in establishing the trade, and in 1627–8 their pressure was sufficient to secure an order from the Privy Council allowing them a prescribed share in future whaling voyages, a right which they exercised until later in the century. (fn. 391)
At the same time as the search for whales grew more vigorous off the northern coast of Norway, there was a rapid expansion of Hull's trade in timber with Norwegian ports around Oslo Fjord. The Norwegians themselves took a substantial share of this trade, which was paralleled by bigger imports of timber from within the Baltic, notably from Riga and Danzig. Moreover, although cloth exports from Hull were still concentrated at the Eastland Company's staple at Elbing during the first two decades of the 17th century, increasing numbers of ships sailed to other Baltic ports for return cargoes. At Danzig and Königsberg, for example, they laded corn, clapboard, flax, hemp, and linens, while in the 1630s Hull ships began to cross the Baltic to Stockholm in search of cargoes of iron, pitch, and tar. These newer commodities quickly became important, but flax, hemp, and corn dominated the trade until the Civil War. The quantity of flax involved grew quickly, while corn imports expanded and became more regular. They exceeded those of flax in value in 1615 and 1633, but in some years no corn was required, and the trade naturally fluctuated with the yield of the English harvest. (fn. 392)
Hull's commerce in the Baltic was adversely affected during the later 1620s by Swedish military campaigns which occasionally stopped the traffic and which caused generally depressed trading conditions. By the time a recovery began in 1633 political and navigational difficulties had led to the gradual abandonment by the English of Elbing in favour of Danzig and Königsberg, and from these two ports 30 ships entered Hull in 1634, against only five from Elbing. (fn. 393) Meanwhile the Dutch were playing an increasing part in the Baltic trade, with important effects on Hull. The second and third decades of the 17th century saw the growth of the indirect supply of Baltic goods to Hull through Amsterdam and Rotterdam: in 1633 one-fifth of the flax entering Hull came from Holland, while of the newer imports more than two-thirds of the pitch, tar, and iron was carried in by the Dutch, as well as a large proportion of the timber. Thus the expanding traffic in these goods added little to the business of Hull's Baltic shippers. Hull joined in the general outcry against the Dutch carrying trade, but such protests were of little avail when the Hollanders were able to bring Baltic and Norwegian products to Hull more cheaply than English traders shipping direct to the port. (fn. 394)
Hull's staple exports were still hides and the cheap West Riding cloths. Although the traffic soon fell from the peak reached in the 1590s, expansion continued and this branch of the town's commerce usually flourished during the first quarter of the 17th century, when about one-third of the Eastland Company's total exports passed through the port. Prosperity lasted even during most of the decade after 1614, when exports from London collapsed, but Hull suffered a brief fall in trade in 1622, when the town added to the widespread complaints of decaying commerce and growing poverty and suggested measures for their alleviation. (fn. 395) Yet the mid-twenties were Hull's best exporting years since the 1590s, and in terms of customs revenue Hull had in the first quarter of the 17th century a larger foreign trade than any other outport. (fn. 396) From 1626, however, Hull's direct Baltic export began to fall as war affected Elbing and Danzig; there was a short-lived recovery in the mid-thirties, but this faded away before 1642 and there followed decades of stagnation. (fn. 397)
At the same time as Baltic exports were checked there was a considerable rise in the export of cloth from Hull to the Low Countries and North Germany. In part this trade was carried on by Hull Merchant Adventurers at the Company's staples, but increasingly it was conducted through Amsterdam, where Hull shippers had for some time exchanged lead for Baltic and other goods. By the second decade of the century they had secretly begun to take growing quantities of cloth, too, in ships falsely recorded as being bound for Spain and Portugal, outside the Merchant Adventurers' monopoly. (fn. 398) When the Adventurers changed their regulations in 1620, Hull men were thus in a good position to take advantage of the freer trading conditions, which allowed English cloth to be taken openly to Amsterdam for distribution in northern Europe by land transport. Hull's cloth exports thereupon rose impressively, and there was a further rapid expansion in this trade during the early thirties, coupled with an increase in exports to Hamburg, at a time when direct traffic through the Baltic was in difficulties. (fn. 399)
During the first forty years of the 17th century, therefore, the growth and the changes in Hull's oversea trade were associated with the development of Amsterdam as an entrepôt for Baltic goods, brought from there to Hull in increasing quantities. This exchange with the Netherlands thus replaced the earlier direct traffic with the Baltic which had flourished vigorously during the preceding half century. Hull's trade nevertheless continued during these years to grow steadily, if not dramatically, and as sales of Yorkshire cloth through London dealers fell away, Hull secured a bigger share of the country's cloth exports, especially to the Low Countries and Hamburg. (fn. 400) There was, moreover, an increase in the amount of English shipping sailing into the port between 1600 and 1640; and the total tonnage of ships entering Hull from the Baltic was higher than ever before, for the average size of a Hull ship in this branch of commerce probably doubled between 1580 and 1640. By 1626 the port had about 20 vessels of over 100 tons, and in 1630 at least one of 300 tons. It nevertheless ranked only fourth or fifth among the outports in tonnage of ships owned at this time, and its shipping was undoubtedly threatened by Dutch competition. (fn. 401)
The Civil War had a disastrous, if short-lived, effect on Hull's commercial position. In the early forties business fell to a very low level, and the Dutch were quick to extend their activities in the Baltic, where they gained a larger portion of the trade. (fn. 402) Foreign wars during the early 1650s also affected Hull's trade adversely, but thereafter there was a measure of recovery, which showed that the port's trading links with northern Europe were sufficiently resilient to withstand both the shock of war and the rivalry of the Dutch. (fn. 403) Piratical attacks were another menace to Hull's trade at this time. Throughout the early 17th century there had been growing difficulties with pirates, whose activities aroused much alarm in the 1650s. In response to the concerted pleas of the merchants and mariners of Hull, Newcastle, and elsewhere, naval convoys were often provided for the protection of shipping, but complaints were fewer after 1660 when the danger seems to have receded. (fn. 404)
There was a striking fall in the use of foreign ships in Hull's trade after 1660. The Dutch found the growth of their share of the trade halted by the Navigation Acts which undermined their carrying trade to such an extent that most of the foreign vessels entering Hull after 1660 were Norwegian, carrying Norwegian timber. By 1700 Hull had well over 100 ships, the average size of which had increased during the century. The growing tonnage of locally-owned ships reflected the fortunes of the port's commerce, which by the end of the century probably engaged about 7,600 tons of Hull shipping, nearly half of it in foreign trade. (fn. 405)
After the mid-17th century the Baltic clearly emerged as the main source of Hull's imports, but changes of emphasis and direction in this branch of trade gave it a different character. The import of corn from Danzig came to an end, and, while that port still had some trade in cloth, from the 1670s Hull men frequented more distant places— Reval, Narva, and Riga—for their hemp, flax, timber, and other naval stores. (fn. 406) Imports of flax and hemp rose rapidly to a peak in the 1680s, and there was a similar growth in the cargoes of pitch and tar. (fn. 407) Meanwhile the firm establishment of a direct and regular route from Stockholm and Gothenburg to Hull resulted in the import of bigger quantities of iron. (fn. 408) Although Hull remained the leading English port in the flax trade, the latter was now overshadowed by the traffic in other raw materials from Norway and the Baltic. Since the early 17th century there had been a great change in the scale of these northern trades: thus Hull's imports of Baltic products, except timber, averaged just over 1,000 tons a year in the 1630s, but had reached a yearly average of 4,000 to 5,000 tons by 1700, and timber products grew in even greater proportion. The country's rising demand for iron, building wood, and naval stores gave a powerful stimulus to this traffic in raw materials, which formed over half the volume of English imports by 1700. Hull was then second only to London as an importer of these goods, and its trade in iron and timber closely rivalled that of the capital. (fn. 409)
In the Baltic trade of the later 17th century the main stress was on imports. Hull's cloth exports to the area stagnated after 1660, and although there was an important trade in lead the direct export traffic did not recover until the 18th century. The proceeds of these exports did not pay for a full return cargo, some Hull ships sailed eastwards through the Sound in ballast, and a large trading deficit developed between England and the northern countries, with important consequences in the organization of Hull's commerce. (fn. 410)
The Navigation Acts, moreover, excluded Dutch ships from Hull's Baltic trade, and after 1660 few Baltic goods were brought to the port from Holland, which became simply a supplier of goods from its own territory and its north German hinterland. These were miscellaneous in character and included a lively trade in pantiles. (fn. 411) The Dutch market nevertheless absorbed much of the newly increasing production of the Yorkshire woollen and worsted industry; there was a swift expansion in the export of cottons, kerseys, and dozens, while that of bays soared. (fn. 412) Conventional official valuations of the trade in cloth show that Hull's export cargoes rose from £109,000 in 1609 to £166,000 in 1640 and £340,000 in 1700. As the main outlet for the booming West Riding textile industry, Hull rivalled Exeter at the end of the 17th century for first place among provincial exporters of cloth, handling more than one-tenth of the country's total export. (fn. 413)
The Low Countries were also taking most of the lead shipped abroad during the later 17th century, while after 1673 the bounty on corn exports stimulated a substantial trade in cereals to various European ports. (fn. 414) Lead and cloth bulked large among goods sent to French ports in exchange for wine, which arrived at Hull in increasing quantities throughout the century: in the 1670s, for example, many ships came from Bordeaux, and in 1698–9 nineteen ships landed wine at Hull. (fn. 415) The modest traffic with Spain continued, and, although Hull took little part in the expanding colonial trade of the period, from time to time a ship sailed in from the plantations with sugar, ginger, molasses, and above all with tobacco, some of which was re-exported. (fn. 416)
Hull's whaling enterprise formed a contrast to these developments, despite its initial promise. In 1654 it was said that eighteen local merchants were active in the whale fishery, and Hull stoutly upheld its right to participate against the monopolistic claims of the Muscovy Company's offshoot, the Greenland Adventurers. Hull men continued to take an important part in whaling after the Restoration, but squabbles among the English and fierce competition from the Dutch meant a great reduction in the number of vessels involved, and Hull's whaling activity slowly petered out. (fn. 417) Similarly no significant local fishing was established in the 17th century, for, although there were fishermen in Hull, the rivalry of Dutch and other suppliers limited their activity. Supplies of fish, therefore, came mainly from Norway, Holland, and Scottish and English ports, notably Great Yarmouth. (fn. 418)
Coal, however, remained Hull's major coastal import. During the earlier 17th century large quantities came from Sunderland, as well as from Newcastle, and the expansion of the trade continued until after mid-century, when the advance was checked as a consequence of the exploitation of coalfields in south Yorkshire and the north Midlands. The existing level of imports was nevertheless maintained and Hull was able to develop a small re-export trade in coal. (fn. 419) Lead was still the most important commodity shipped coastwise from Hull: lead shipments totalled over 2,800 fothers in 1627–8 and over 5,700 fothers in 1683–4. In 1627–8 94 per cent. of the cargoes went to London, and, despite the attempts of inland merchants to avoid Hull, the port's lead merchants kept their dominating position in the trade throughout the century, sending lead to various outports as well as to London itself. (fn. 420) In addition, towards the end of the 16th century the capital began to receive regular shipments of foodstuffs from Hull, the traffic growing steadily during the 17th century in response to London's needs. Hull thus became one of the two chief distributing centres for corn on the east coast, but the trade fluctuated violently: 375 quarters were shipped to London in 1627–8 and 22,537 quarters in 1683–4. Shipments of butter and cheese also expanded greatly and continued to grow in the latter years of the century when corn exports were somewhat reduced. (fn. 421) After 1660 the growth of Hull's export of foodstuffs was accompanied by a rapid expansion in the rest of its coastal trade. There were 32 shipments from London to Hull in 1627–8 and 84 in 1682–3, when there were 197 in the opposite direction; Hull had about 4,500 tons of coastal shipping soon after 1700. (fn. 422) By this time a wider variety of goods was usually handled. Coastal shipments from Hull included some Swedish iron, substantial quantities of south Yorkshire ironware, and Sheffield cutlery, as well as a growing volume of West Riding cloth bound for London and other ports. (fn. 423) Much of this cloth was made from East Anglian wool, imported at Hull in considerable and growing bulk; in 1685, for example, of 13,900 stones of wool shipped from King's Lynn, Hull took all but 60 stones, and this trade grew in importance as the West Riding industry became dependent on it for the manufacture of worsteds. (fn. 424) Among miscellaneous imports luxury goods figured prominently: these usually included exotic foodstuffs, glassware, wine, silks, stationery, and books, while in 1684 48 violin bellies and a pair of virginals arrived from London. Finally, during the later 17th century hundreds of tons of tobacco were imported from the capital as Hull became the gateway for colonial produce on its way to Yorkshire and the east Midlands. (fn. 425)
Hull thus increasingly enjoyed a lucrative import trade in the raw materials and the consumers' goods required by the people of its hinterland, the products of which were collected at the port and shipped to a variety of places at home and abroad. The development of this commercial role was greatly assisted by the river system which converged on the Humber. (fn. 426) Above all Hull became the port which connected northern England with northern Europe, where during the 17th century its merchants had successfully overcome the competition of the Dutch. By 1700, therefore, Hull was a specialist port whose prosperity, based on trade with the Baltic and the Low Countries, enabled it to claim second or third place among the outports. (fn. 427)
Merchants and Mariners
Even in the depressed trading conditions of the earlier 16th century there were some substantial men among the small mercantile community in the town. One was George Matheson, a general trader whose dealings in lead, cloth, wine, and fish appear in the customs records from about 1518; Matheson also had a flourishing business in the coastal trade, supplying provisions to the monastery at Durham. (fn. 428) Another was Sir John Eland, a Calais Stapler, who left a large stock of goods and money at his death. (fn. 429) Thomas Dalton was also a Stapler, trading in wool, cloth, and lead. (fn. 430) Perhaps the most notable Hull merchant at this time, however, was Walter Jobson, a man of considerable wealth, who traded at London and Colchester, as well as Hull, in lead, alum, and corn, and above all in wine. (fn. 431) But Hanseatic merchants still frequented the port in these years, (fn. 432) and much of the business was in the hands of York merchants. (fn. 433)
The development of Hull's trade between 1560 and 1640 enhanced the fortunes of many local traders. Among the most prosperous in the earlier part of the period were members of the Dalton family. Two other substantial merchants were James Clerkson and John Thornton, exporters of lead to the Low Countries, (fn. 434) while one of the greatest men in the Russia Company, Francis Cherry, pursued his trade with Kola through Hull. (fn. 435) One of the most successful was William Gee, whose enterprise brought him a great fortune. (fn. 436) In 1609 the ten leading merchants each exported through Hull goods estimated to be worth over £3,000, while in 1636–7, and again in 1640, 22 merchants came into this category. Only one exported more than 1,000 shortcloths in 1609, but three merchants sent out more than 1,000 pieces in 1640. (fn. 437) These lists of leading merchants, however, included the names of some Leeds men as well as a significant proportion of York citizens. Indeed, the biggest exporter in 1609, Christopher Dickinson, was a York man, and he still figured prominently in the port books of the early 1630s, along with members of other York mercantile families, including the Geldarts, the Tophams, and the Thompsons. Although a few of the leading York merchants outstripped those of Hull in bulk of trade, there were some very substantial dealers among the men of Hull by this time, notably Sir John Lister, Peregrine Pelham, and, above all, John Ramsden. The last named's exports of cloth to the Baltic in 1632–3 were second only to those of the leading exporter, Henry Thompson, of York. (fn. 438)
Most of the earlier merchants using the port were general traders but from the beginning of the 17th century signs of specialization multiply. By 1640, for example, the leading merchants sent most of their goods to the Netherlands; this had not been true 30 years earlier, but the pattern of trade had changed in the intervening years. (fn. 439) In 1633 five Hull merchants together handled as much as one-third of the flax imported, and while all the biggest importers of flax also sent out cloth to the Baltic, many of the middling-sized flax merchants were not involved in exports. (fn. 440) There are some indications, too, of specialized interest in the wine trade, (fn. 441) while in the 1630s the brothers Raikes had a tight grip on the timber traffic between Norway and Hull. (fn. 442) About the same time Sir John Lister, Gilbert and Alexander Morwood, and Henry Thompson, of York, were the most active merchants in the lead trade. (fn. 443)
Changes in Hull's Baltic commerce after 1660 gave less scope to the general trader, and merchants specialized much more, particularly those in the iron and timber trades. The town's Baltic trade, therefore, was eventually dominated by a small group of merchants who imported the main bulk of the region's products. In 1685 a large proportion of this business was in the hands of eight big merchants, dealing in goods of an estimated value of more than £3,000; 21 medium-sized merchants handled goods valued at between £500 and £3,000, while 62 smaller merchants each dealt in goods worth less than £500. (fn. 444) The larger Baltic merchants were involved in both exports and imports, and they covered all, or most of, the Baltic area, with a lively trade in Norway and Holland besides. But the 21 merchants with a medium-sized business tended to concentrate their activities: four of them, for example, imported only from Sweden, and three exported only to Danzig. (fn. 445) Similarly, seven of the 21 were solely importers although Hull was a great centre for cheap cloth exports; indeed, about two-thirds of the Baltic merchants in 1685 concentrated exclusively on exports, whereas in 1633 only a handful had done so. (fn. 446)
Specialization facilitated the emergence of some great merchanting houses after the Restoration. The Maisters, one of whom had pioneered the direct trade in Swedish iron during the 1630s, became mainly dealers in iron; so too did the Mowlds. In the 1680s, moreover, Henry Maister's business was far ahead of that of Hull's other Baltic merchants, and he was the only one to trade on a scale comparable with that of the great London merchants in the area. (fn. 447) Merchants from York, Leeds, and elsewhere, some even from London, (fn. 448) still shipped through the port, but its specialization in particular commodities, and its closer links with the West Riding cloth industry, resulted in the steady diminution of York's share in its trade. Three of the eight chief Baltic importers in 1685 were York men, and a number of other York citizens were among those with a more modest business. (fn. 449) But by 1702 Hull's trade had fallen under the domination of a small group of local men. In that year only seven merchants each made more than 40 shipments out of Hull, and of these seven, William Crowle made 85 shipments, John Thornton made 80, Philip Wilkinson 68, and Daniel Hoare 48. The scale of their operations can be gauged by the fact that Crowle and Thornton between them handled half of Hull's exports of kerseys, while they and Wilkinson also handled seven-eighths of the lead exported. Similarly, the iron importers were headed by the Mowlds and the Maisters. (fn. 450)
The changing pattern of trade was also responsible for newer methods of business. As the Norwegians, for example, imported comparatively little from England, merchants had to send silver to Norway to pay for their cargoes of timber. The Baltic trade at first simply involved the exchange of goods for goods, but when the stream of commerce shifted in the early 17th century, so that the Netherlands became the entrepôt for Hull's exports to the Baltic, new means of settling debts in Amsterdam had to be evolved. Direct exports to the Baltic did not recover, and after 1660 Hull merchants had to make purely financial arrangements to pay for their purchases in the region. They settled their debts by bills of exchange, drawn on London, Hamburg, or Amsterdam. The lesser merchants arranged such matters through agents in London, but the larger ones, such as the Maisters, dealt directly with finance houses in Amsterdam, using exports to Holland to provide funds for their payments. (fn. 451)
Most of the merchants traded on their own account, but some worked in partnership, and efforts were sometimes made to prevent Hull traders from taking strangers as partners. (fn. 452) Merchants undoubtedly lived and worked overseas, especially when young, but many, perhaps most, business deals were arranged through factors in the European ports. Some of these men were commission agents, either English or foreign, but some were younger members of the families whose firms they represented. Several of the Maisters, for example, worked as factors in Stockholm, Riga, or Narva, but the head of the family was always a merchant resident in Hull. (fn. 453)
Although there is nothing to suggest widespread dishonesty among the merchants, some of them did engage in malpractices of various kinds. (fn. 454) Early in the 17th century it was alleged that Hull traders upset the market by unloading their goods at Stade or Danzig when least expected, and a contemporary asserted that there was 'no truth in Hull men'. (fn. 455) Some made misleading statements of the destination of goods, which allowed them to establish a healthy trade in cloth at Amsterdam. Others unquestionably smuggled cloth through the Sound and concealed the size of their imports when passing their cargoes through the customs at Hull. (fn. 456) But gains, whether through enterprise or sharp practice, were always likely to be nullified by losses at sea. The evidence for such losses is not extensive, yet a few merchants were sadly reduced in their fortunes as a consequence of them. (fn. 457) Shipowners and merchants shared these misfortunes. As in the Middle Ages, some local merchants owned ships, a few of them having one or more but most probably owning only part shares. Others, however, hired vessels for particular voyages. (fn. 458) Trinity House always enforced its regulation requiring the use of native ships when available and regularly fined merchants for shipping in foreign vessels; these fines were more in the nature of payment for a licence than a deterrent. (fn. 459)
From early in the 16th century the Merchant Adventurers of England had a branch in Hull, and membership of it brought Hull merchants into conflict with their competitors in London. There were disputes about the position of provincial merchants in the marts of the Low Countries, about contravention of agreed arrangements for shipping goods, and about an embargo on the export of lead. In spite of their quarrels over certain privileges the men of Hull and York usually co-operated in matters of common concern. (fn. 460) They successfully asserted their right to join the new Eastland Company in 1579–80, and later they were able to resist an increase in the export duty on northern cloth. (fn. 461) By the early 17th century the Eastland Company had come to represent the more promising commercial interests of Hull. Indeed, it was said that only one in nine of the town's merchants was a Merchant Adventurer, but many belonged to both companies and collaboration with the men of York continued. (fn. 462) In 1619 the merchants of the two towns succeeded both in securing some relaxation of the Adventurers' restrictions on cloth and lead exports, and in strengthening their own position against interlopers. (fn. 463) Soon afterwards they were partly successful in their opposition to the pretermitted customs and impositions on lead. (fn. 464) There had been collaboration with Newcastle in this matter, as well as in an attack on the dictatorial attitude of London Eastlanders, but the Yorkshiremen protested bitterly when the Adventurers reduced the fees for their members in Newcastle. (fn. 465) Jealousy over this question, however, did not prevent joint action against interlopers and joint requests for convoys during the troubled years of the mid-century. (fn. 466) The Adventurers and Eastlanders at Hull joined together in 1661 to ask for the renewal of their companies' privileges, (fn. 467) but later there were wrangles in both companies between provincial merchants and Londoners. The Adventurers in Hull and York opposed the gradual freeing of the North German trade in 1689 and 1693, and the last years of the Eastland Company's monopoly were troubled by a dispute between York and Hull about payment of dues. (fn. 468) This was a petty quarrel which perhaps concealed a sharper rivalry as the men of Hull enlarged their share of the Baltic trade.
For 20 years after the dissolution of the guild of St. George, along with other religious fraternities, the merchants of Hull had no local guild, but a company seems to have been formed in 1567, and ten years later was incorporated by royal charter as the Society of Merchants. The new company was to be ruled by a governor and six assistants, and its members were to enjoy a monopoly of the seaborne trade of the town. (fn. 469) There were 39 founder-members, and thereafter new members were admitted regularly: between 1578 and 1604 there were 141 enrolments, between 1605 and 1646 147, and between 1647 and 1706 202. For many years the Society enforced an apprenticeship of eight years, though after 1649 this was usually reduced to seven, and many of the apprentices were local boys. (fn. 470) At first the Society met in the old Cloth Hall, in High Street, later in the upper part of the new grammar-school building. In 1620–1, however, the corporation constructed the Exchange; here the regular business of the Society was transacted, but an attempt in the mid-17th century to hold daily meetings failed. (fn. 471) The Society strenuously tried to force all merchants into its ranks, and the goods of unfree traders were regularly confiscated, but there were always merchants whose defiance undermined the Society's efforts. (fn. 472)
The Society's insistence on its rights, however, eventually brought it into collision with Trinity House. Early in the 17th century relations between the two had been good enough to permit co-operation on such questions as customs charges, but there were always rivalries beneath the surface. The master mariners insisted on the exclusion of merchants from the House lest they used their membership to evade primage and the ban on freighting strangers' vessels. By long-standing custom, moreover, masters and seamen alike had traded on their own account and had defended their right to do so against the Eastland Company. (fn. 473) After the Restoration, however, the Merchants' Society obtained confirmation of its charter and redoubled its efforts to establish a monopoly of seaborne trade. Strengthened numerically by the admission of large numbers of retailers, the merchants enforced their privileges by fining importers who were not free of the Society, confiscating goods, and victimizing shipmasters. Late in 1664, therefore, Trinity House resolved to challenge the Society's claims at law. The town corporation, dominated by merchants, decided to support the Society. The merchants offered to allow members of the House to deal in goods up to a certain value, but this concession was rejected and, after a bitter legal struggle, the House won its case. (fn. 474) The loss of its claim to monopolize trade was a severe blow to the Merchants' Society, from which it never recovered. Although its members made some attempt to continue their commercial regulations, attendance diminished, elections ceased, and in 1707 their books and plate were removed to the Guildhall. (fn. 475)
The conflict between the Merchants' Society and Trinity House was only one of many struggles in which Hull merchants sought to uphold their interests and privileges. There were disputes over tolls with Hedon in 1552 and Scarborough in 1578, as well as a recurring argument about the same matter with Beverley in the 1530s and 1550s, and again in the 1680s. (fn. 476) With York there were controversies in the earlier 16th century about infringements of the city's commercial privileges, the gauging of wines, the collection of local tolls, and the weighing of lead on the common beam. Implicit in all quarrels was the suggestion of unfair discrimination against the merchants of York. (fn. 477) Antagonism was heightened after 1532 by the grant to Hull of the right to insist that a freeman should be a party to all transactions involving the sale of goods in the town, except in the markets or fairs. (fn. 478) This privilege, usually known as 'foreign bought and foreign sold', meant that profits would accrue to Hull traders who acted as middlemen and to the town's merchants, who would benefit by this limitation on the business of merchant-strangers. The right was occasionally enforced against merchants from other places, especially those from London, whose goods were liable to confiscation if 'foreign bought and foreign sold'. (fn. 479) But in particular the grant struck a blow at York merchants who held such an important place in the town's trade. For 40 years, therefore, York made repeated attempts to secure the annulment of the grant. (fn. 480) During the 1570s the dispute reached its highest pitch: York prohibited its merchants from freighting Hull ships, restrained its citizens from buying goods in Hull, and forbade its keelmen to carry goods from the port. Hull replied by boycotting all York merchants and merchandise, and by securing royal confirmation of its privilege. (fn. 481) At this point Lord President Huntingdon mediated between the parties and secured an agreement in June 1578: this restored to York merchants the use of the facilities of the port, on payment of their legal dues, in return for which York agreed to recognize Hull's right of 'foreign bought and foreign sold'. (fn. 482)
In the interests of local merchants the corporation continued to demand observance of its privileges by merchant-strangers, and in 1591 a special officer was appointed to enforce them. The dispute with York flared up again in 1622–3 but was quickly settled, again through the mediation of the Council in the North. (fn. 483) On several occasions during the next 50 years goods were distrained as 'foreign bought and foreign sold', and the corporation made a vigorous attack on similar offences in the 1670s and 1680s, perhaps partly to raise money. (fn. 484) By that time, however, the merchants of Hull had less need of protection against their rivals in York, and the right of 'foreign bought and foreign sold' was allowed to lapse. It could no longer be argued, as it was early in the 16th century, that Hull was 'but port town to the said City of York', (fn. 485) for by the late 17th century Hull's own merchants were coming to dominate the town's trade.
Seafaring men became more numerous, and more important in the life of the town, as Hull's trade expanded. (fn. 486) One reflection of this was the incorporation of Trinity House in 1541, although it was a guild long before then, consisting of shipmasters and exercising many of the charitable and navigational functions authorized by its charter of incorporation. (fn. 487) Shipmasters seem always to have begun as ordinary mariners and to have acquired the necessary experience by being apprenticed to a master or by being promoted mate. (fn. 488) During the 16th century over 600 master mariners were admitted as brethren of Trinity House, and during the 17th century over 650, 290 of them after 1664. Not surprisingly, almost nine-tenths of those qualifying between 1640 and 1700 were entered as fit to take charge of ships sailing between Hull and either Holland or the Baltic ports. In the later 17th century a few were qualified for the North American route. (fn. 489) No one was allowed to take charge of a ship without the House's certificate, and masters were occasionally suspended for incompetence. (fn. 490) Masters were often merely the employees of shipowners, but many of them were part-owners of the vessels they commanded and merchants bargained with them for each voyage which they undertook. (fn. 491) The fines levied by Trinity House for 'shipping foreign' may have encouraged merchants to hire local ships when available, to the obvious benefit of Hull shipmasters and mariners alike. (fn. 492)
The ranks of the shipmasters included men with very considerable experience of coastal and more distant waters, and their advice was sought by the government on several occasions. Some master mariners served in municipal office, although few reached the aldermanic bench, partly because their calling necessitated prolonged absence from the town. (fn. 493) The most prominent shipmaster in local affairs, and one of the wealthiest, was Alderman Thomas Ferries, a notable benefactor of the town and of Trinity House. (fn. 494) Some masters perforce acted as naval commanders in wartime. (fn. 495) This happened, for example, to Henry Appleton, who served in the Mediterranean, (fn. 496) and to John Lawson, who became a parliamentary naval commander and eventually an admiral. (fn. 497) During the early years of the 17th century, moreover, several local masters became explorers and some made notable additions to geographical knowledge. James Hall, having sailed to Greenland in 1605, fitted out a new expedition, which left Hull in 1612 with William Baffin as navigator. (fn. 498) About the same time Thomas Marmaduke, in the Hopewell, was also cruising in far northern waters, (fn. 499) and between 1616 and 1618 Nicholas Gatenby, a prominent shipmaster and ex-warden of Trinity House, sailed near Greenland and brought home cargoes of whale-oil. (fn. 500) Meanwhile Luke Fox, son of another local master mariner, was acquiring in his voyages from Hull some of the experience in seamanship which eventually helped him in his search for the northwest passage. (fn. 501)
A boy wishing to follow the sea first served as an apprentice to an ordinary seaman; once qualified he was able to take service with a shipmaster. Each mariner made his own agreement about wages with the master, and disputes were referred to Trinity House. Wages were paid by the voyage, by the month, or by the year, the first method being perhaps the most popular. In 1546 a scale of seamen's wages was drawn up by Trinity House, but from the later 16th century variations in wages were considerable and suggest a good deal of hard bargaining between masters and mariners. During the 1630s the payment to a seaman for a return voyage to Newcastle was 15s. to £1 5s., the agreed wage for a round voyage to Rotterdam and Bordeaux was £7 10s., and the rate for the journey to the Baltic was about £4. Monthly wages at this time averaged between £1 and £1 10s. Wages rose a little during the Dutch wars, and the rates of pay in the Commonwealth navy during the 1650s compare unfavourably with the earnings of a Hull seaman during the period, but overall between 1580 and 1670 wages remained fairly stationary. Wages normally included victuals and sometimes additional payments and perquisites. Above all, some cargo space was reserved for use by members of the ship's company who were thereby enabled to trade for their own profit; this privilege, known as 'furthing', was stoutly upheld by Trinity House. (fn. 502) The number of voyages made in a year clearly varied considerably. In 1609 the Desire of Hull made five return voyages to Middelberg, while in the same year the Prosperous made four round trips to Elbing. (fn. 503) The Norwegian and Baltic trades were seasonal, carried on only in the summer and autumn, and sailings from Hull were at their peak from March to August. These voyages probably lasted two months: thus in 1685 John Scott, one of the Hull captains involved in the iron trade from Stockholm, sailed from Sweden for Hull in June and again in October. (fn. 504) Finally, shipwreck and losses at sea sometimes brought masters and mariners alike to poverty, and they might then be looked after by Trinity House, with its pensions for seafarers and its hospitals for shipmasters and their widows. (fn. 505)
The port and its trade had considerable effects on the town. Capital was required to furnish ships and to provide trading finance, (fn. 506) while repairs, supplies, and handling charges, as well as commerce itself, all produced profits. The functions of a port community are most clearly revealed in its provision of services, and seagoing activities had a profound influence on the occupations of the townspeople. Thus the repair and maintenance of ships gave work for a variety of craftsmen, including ropers, block-and sail-makers, caulkers, holders, ships-carpenters, and anchor-smiths, as well as custom for vendors of pitch, tar, sails, cordage, and other tackle. (fn. 507) Not surprisingly the increased demand for ships led to the establishment of shipbuilding yards, where vessels of a few score tons could be built. (fn. 508) Joseph Blaydes, a shipwright, leased ground adjoining the haven outside North Gate in 1607, and his family eventually became important shipbuilders. (fn. 509) Two other men had permission to build ships in the same place in the 1630s. (fn. 510) The industry seems, however, to have grown only slowly. After 1660 the corporation made attempts to attract other shipwrights to the town, but although Hull shipbuilders secured certain naval contracts in the 1670s, expansion was hampered by their inability to produce ships of the largest size. (fn. 511) Nevertheless, thanks in part to the training of apprentices by the Blaydes family, third-and fourth-rate naval vessels were built at Hull and Hessle during the closing years of the century, including the Kingston of 64 guns, 'compact and built for swift sailing'. (fn. 512)
The victualling of ships for oversea and coastal voyages gave suppliers of foodstuffs in the town a growing, if predominantly seasonal, market for their goods. Moreover, from time to time during these centuries local dealers were called upon to provide food for billeted soldiers and for military and naval expeditions bound either for Scotland or for the Continent. (fn. 513) Large quantities of food, and large sums of money, then changed hands, (fn. 514) and the economic importance of Hull's role as a base for military operations, though occasional and impossible to measure, cannot be doubted. Similarly the provision of board and lodging for a transitory population of sailors, merchants, and travellers was another vital function for a trading town. (fn. 515) Finally, the facilities in the port for the handling of cargoes provided jobs for wharfingers, keelmen, porters, and sledmen. (fn. 516)
Admissions to the Freedom, 1500–1699 (fn. 715)
|Dates (fn. 716)||By apprenticeship||By fine||By patrimony||Others (fn. 717)||Total|
It is difficult to determine either the number or the proportion of townsmen engaged in occupations directly dependent on foreign trade. The freemen's registers often fail to record a burgess's calling. (fn. 517) Besides, as in earlier centuries, not all craftsmen or tradesmen troubled to become freemen, preferring to pay a small fine instead: 27 such fines were paid in 1634–5, for example, and 114 in 1638–9. (fn. 518) Some men were thus able to avoid the charges and responsibilities which enfranchisement involved, while in the later 17th century a number of men successfully requested their disfranchisement, presumably to avoid liability for office. (fn. 519) The corporation sought to suppress unfree interlopers, but it did so by sporadic onslaughts rather than by continuous pressure, and its attempts became less numerous during the later 17th century. It always upheld the system of apprenticeship, however, and, while the numbers enfranchised dropped during the 1690s, many men still took up their freedom. (fn. 520) Despite all their imperfections, therefore, the freemen's registers probably afford some guide to the balance of occupations in the town. Here, as elsewhere, most burgesses served an apprenticeship; indeed, about 1,100 apprentices were enrolled between 1668 and 1697. (fn. 521) The small proportion of freemen by patrimony suggests that some fathers appreciated the educational value of apprenticeship for their sons, and that the economy of Hull, unlike that of York, did not depend on established families. (fn. 522) Again in contrast to York, the economic opportunities provided by a growing commerce attracted to Hull many newcomers, who were allowed to purchase their freedom, although for a short time in the middle of Elizabeth's reign the corporation, perhaps fearing too much competition for work, sought to check the number of these redemptioners. The fees for freedom, however, which sometimes amounted to £30, were occasionally reduced, notably in the 1670s when the corporation wished to attract shipwrights to the port. (fn. 523)
A substantial proportion of the enfranchised working population was involved in the shipping and distributive trades. (fn. 524) In the former group mariners were predominant: 58 were admitted in 1620–9 and 43 in 1660–9, but the number of admissions fell later in the century, probably because of the comparative ease with which men could go to sea. Shipwrights also became more numerous from the early years of the 17th century, and in 1682 at least 40 of them were at work in the town. (fn. 525) This group included a few ropers and compass-makers. Among the distributive trades merchants and mercers were the most numerous: 45 were admitted in 1580–9 and 46 in 1660–9, but thereafter fewer merchants were enfranchised, probably as a consequence of the Merchants' Society's humiliation by Trinity House. (fn. 526) In this group, drapers and grocers had become important during the later 17th century. Victualling benefited directly from the demands of the port, and purveyors of food and drink steadily became more numerous, especially after 1600.
Admissions to the Freedom, 1500–1699, by Occupations (fn. 718)
Among other occupations the direct influence of maritime trade, though often discernible, was perhaps less important. Apart from victualling, two other groups of crafts satisfied basic needs in Hull as elsewhere, namely clothing and building. There was a marked increase in the number of freemen in the clothing group, of which tailors and shoemakers formed the great majority. Expansion in the building trades was no doubt due to the growing prosperity of Hull and its hinterland, but the joiners and carpenters, the largest occupations, possibly benefited from the substantial imports of timber at Hull. Bricklayers also flourished: there were still brickyards around Hull, and some bricklayers had building contracts in the surrounding countryside as well as in the town. (fn. 527) Thus from the mid-16th century onwards some 30 to 40 per cent. of the working population was employed in the three fundamental groups of trades, catering, clothing, and building.
In contrast, manufacturing, which comprised the metal, leather, and textile trades, played a small part in the economy. Only metal-working showed any signs of growth, no doubt because smiths, who formed the largest occupation in this group, were involved in the repair of ships. Again, a handful of weavers was employed in sailmaking, but otherwise there was little activity in textiles. The Cloth Hall was still in use, but in 1555 it was said that much cloth was no longer taken there and by 1598 most of the premises appear to have been converted into the George Inn. (fn. 528) Certain other local industries, however, demand mention: first, beyond the walls the lime-kilns were still worked; (fn. 529) secondly, there were flax-dressers by the early 17th century, as well as oil-mills and a short-lived sugar refinery, and these can be attributed directly to the import of flax, rape-seed, and sugar. (fn. 530) Seed-crushing is referred to as early as 1525, when a Hull alderman bequeathed to his son 'my oil mill, with all the cisterns of lead', and instructed that his wife was to have 'half the oil that shall be made of the seed that I have of this year'. (fn. 531) Finally, there was a host of miscellaneous occupations, which grew in number after 1660. They included the comparatively numerous coopers, and by the later 17th century the needs of commerce were served by several scriveners and mathematicians. Barber-surgeons, tobacco-pipe-makers, and booksellers were among the occupations meeting the demands of the more prosperous townspeople. (fn. 532) There were also a few men in agricultural occupations, and Myton Carr continued to provide pasture for many sheep belonging to townsmen. (fn. 533)
Only seven occupations seem to have been organized in guilds by 1500; the weavers, glovers, tilers, and brewers each formed craft guilds, while the shipmen, merchants, and tailors were associated with particular religious fraternities which gave way at different times in the 16th century to the guild of Trinity House, the Merchants' Society, and the guild of tailors. (fn. 534) The cordwainers formed a guild before 1564, but although there are signs of guilds, perhaps of an informal kind, for ropers and other crafts during Elizabeth's reign, it was not until 1598 that the corporation showed any marked concern with guild arrangements in the town. In that year new guilds were apparently founded for carpenters and joiners, while the guilds of glovers, bakers, and coopers were reorganized. At the same time two united guilds were formed, one for bricklayers, tilers, wallers, plasterers, and pavers, the other for goldsmiths, plumbers, glaziers, cutlers, and seven other diverse occupations. (fn. 535) By 1622 the cobblers had organized their own guild, possibly in self-defence against the cordwainers, and later in the 17th century the innholders and shipwrights also formed guilds, which perhaps reflected the growing importance of these traders. Finally, the barber-surgeons and periwig-makers founded a guild early in the 18th century, when their arts were much in demand. (fn. 536)
From time to time the guilds submitted ordinances for the approval of the corporation. (fn. 537) Although it is difficult to penetrate behind these somewhat formal documents into the realities of guild life, it is seemingly significant that most of the town's guilds were founded or reorganized during the period of Hull's greatest commercial expansion. Guild control of apprenticeship, methods of production, and standards of quality was enforced by the searchers with the support of the corporation. Fines for breaches of regulations were levied with the help of the mayor and aldermen, who sometimes consulted the officers of the appropriate guild before enfranchising craftsmen. (fn. 538) They also intervened to settle disputes between guilds about the division of work. (fn. 539) Lastly, the wages of certain craftsmen were assessed from time to time by the corporation, which slowly raised the maximum rates payable. (fn. 540) Nevertheless, there is less evidence of the strength and activity of guilds in Hull than in towns such as York. Although more than 90 occupations can be traced in the records of freemen and apprentices during this period, no more than 33 of them developed a guild organization of any significance. This may be due partly to the lack of any large-scale manufacturing, partly to the flexibility in working arrangements engendered by the needs of seafaring and oversea trade. Finally, in the later 17th century, the guilds which existed were probably weakened by the failure of the powerful Merchants' Society to enforce its own exclusive privileges.
The goods produced by local craftsmen found a sale not only among the townsmen but also among the people of the surrounding countryside. Above all, Hull's fortunes as a trading centre depended on its position as a combined river and seaport, with a network of routes converging upon it. A great variety of goods, native and foreign, was collected and distributed there, and some industrial and agricultural products of the hinterland came from far afield by the end of the 17th century. (fn. 541) So much of this traffic passed along the Ouse that Hull always had as strong an interest as York in keeping that river free of obstructions, while in the 1690s the corporation agreed to support a scheme to make the Derbyshire Derwent navigable in the hope that this would redound to the advantage of the town. (fn. 542) Although the inland trade of Hull was chiefly served by the rivers, the nearby roads and North Bridge also carried valuable traffic and these, too, were a matter of concern to the corporation and an object of charitable endowment for their maintenance. (fn. 543)
Many of the commodities brought to Hull were handled in the town's market. There the arrangements for the supply of provisions and the conduct of business were a constant preoccupation of the mayor and aldermen. They confined dealings in certain goods to specific parts of the market-place, for example, and through the marketkeeper they carefully regulated standings: townspeople were usually given the front rank, and pedlars were prevented from setting up their stalls in front of shops. (fn. 544) On the other hand, 'foreign' provisioners were usually welcome, for the corporation's main concern was to ensure adequate supplies. Country butchers were encouraged as long as they traded only in the market and did not hawk their meat from door to door. (fn. 545) Among various 'foreign' fishers selling their catches in the town, Scotsmen were perhaps the most numerous. In Elizabeth's reign they were subject to two restrictions: they were to allow townsmen the first choice of fish, and they were to spend some of their takings in the town and not to depart for home with scarce English coins. (fn. 546)
Again in the interests of maintaining adequate supplies the authorities tried unceasingly to detect and punish forestalling, regrating, and engrossing, especially of fish, meat, milk, and butter. A natural corollary of these measures against a threat of monopoly was a concern with prices, shown in the corporation's periodic inquiries and in its occasional attempts to lay down prices for the main commodities. (fn. 547) The assize of bread and ale was regularly enforced, while there was an unending struggle against dealers who gave short weight or sold unwholesome food. Special care was taken to prevent the sale of bad meat, and searchers examined fish before it was marketed: in Elizabeth's reign they cut the tails off bad fish so that it could easily be recognized by the public. (fn. 548) Finally, for a time during the 17th century increasing numbers of trade tokens were issued by retailers anxious to remedy the lack of specie, and in 1668 the corporation sought to protect townsmen against frauds and the dishonouring of tokens by appointing a single stamp for them. (fn. 549)
With the safeguards provided by these regulations, the markets and shops of Hull established a thriving trade. From the middle of Elizabeth's reign very large quantities of grain were dispensed from Hull, a trade interrupted only by bad harvests and war. (fn. 550) In 1578 Hull was described as the best market for fish in England: white and red herring could be purchased there, as well as sprats and sturgeon, and in 1582 the town received a special royal licence to import herring for distribution inland. (fn. 551) Meanwhile, Hull became the main source of supply for wines and hides required in Yorkshire and elsewhere in the north. (fn. 552) Its dealers handled a host of other goods, some serving the needs of the more affluent customers in particular: earthen- and lustre-ware from the Continent, Dutch wall-tiles, (fn. 553) glass, fashionable clothes and domestic goods, and fine groceries from London. (fn. 554) Similar opportunities were offered by the great annual fair, reorganized in 1598. (fn. 555) Not surprisingly the markets excited favourable comments from a number of visitors, among them Defoe who wrote of 'a market stored with an infinite plenty of provisions'. (fn. 556)
Markets and water-borne traffic contributed to local prosperity through handling charges and profits, at the same time enabling Hull dealers to act as middlemen between large importers and individual customers, whether of the town or country. The corporation and the guilds hoped to maximize these returns by ensuring that goods were duly tolled, and they made repeated efforts to prevent townsmen from abusing their privileges by passing off strangers' goods as their own. (fn. 557) It is likely, however, that merchants and dealers did not adequately pay for the local facilities by way of tolls, for these were often low and many people were exempt from payment. Moreover, goods liable to toll often passed freely through the town without being handled by Hull men. To prevent this loss of trading profit, the corporation regularly took steps to ensure that as far as possible goods, especially imports, changed hands within the town: hence the insistence for much of the period on the right of 'foreign bought and foreign sold', as well as the attempts to restrain the by-passing of the port by the lead merchants. (fn. 558)
It is, however, difficult to assess the precise contribution of inland and maritime trade to the prosperity of the town itself. Baltic, Norwegian, and Dutch traders handled much of the traffic, at least until well into the 17th century, while the merchants of York had controlled a large part of the trade since the later Middle Ages. The fortunes of York and Hull were, therefore, closely bound together, a fact which was recognized even by the York men themselves on several occasions between 1588 and 1640 when they agreed to shoulder part of Hull's tax burden. The governments of the day, who were not notoriously sympathetic to attempts by subjects to unload their financial liabilities on to others, encouraged these apportionments which doubtless represented the realities of the situation. As late as 1639 the corporation of Hull, in a bid to avoid a tax, claimed that the chief merchants conducting business through the port lived in York or elsewhere and that the town, with all the charge of the port but only one-fifth of the trade, consisted of sailors, lightermen, and porters. This was clearly an exaggeration, as was the statement made by the bench in 1645 that outsiders enjoyed nineteentwentieths of the town's trade. (fn. 559) Until about 1640 the primacy of York merchants is well attested by other evidence, but this at the same time reveals the existence of a growing number of prosperous local merchants, even before 1600. Moreover, changes in the character and direction of Hull's trade, especially after the mid-17th century, caused the steady diminution of York's share, and by the end of the 17th century the men of Hull clearly controlled the trade of their own port. (fn. 560)
These changes manifestly influenced the general well-being of Hull during the period. Early in the 16th century Hull, like York, showed signs of decay. To remedy this it was included in the Act for the re-edification of towns, and in 1541–2 its right to levy duties on fish, which had earlier been withdrawn, was given statutory confirmation. (fn. 561) Thereafter, indications of growing prosperity multiply. The tax records, with due allowance for their well-known imperfections, show a growth in Hull's taxable capacity which coincides with the expansion of trade after 1560. (fn. 562) Complaints of decay were largely confined to a few years when trade was particularly bad, as it was, for example, in the mid-1570s, in 1622, and again during the aftermath of civil war. (fn. 563) With the growing bulk of goods handled at the port there was a corresponding increase in the numbers and size of local ships, and in the occupations directly influenced by the port. (fn. 564) Though there was poverty, and some destitution, the problem was perhaps not so severe as in York or Lincoln. (fn. 565) There were new public and commercial buildings, along with an improvement in the quality of some of the houses. (fn. 566) Above all, personal fortunes grew and wealthy local merchants became far more numerous in the 17th century. By 1700 the port's trade was carried on first and foremost to the profit of the people of Hull. (fn. 567)
Population and Social Conditions
In Hull, as in other towns, epidemics were a recurrent threat to the well-being of the townspeople. There was an outbreak of plague in 1537, though it is not possible to determine its severity, (fn. 568) and a serious visitation in the autumn of 1575, which called forth a spate of precautions. The worst-stricken district was around Blackfriargate, where the corporation took steps to restrict the movement of people, clothes, and household goods: the street was enclosed by a fence and a door at each end, and gatekeepers were installed. The inhabitants were permitted to emerge only at fixed times to leave their garbage and ordures in a place whence they could be taken and dumped in the Humber, while anyone fortunate enough to recover from the sickness was ordered to cleanse and fumigate his house but to keep away from all assemblies. A special assessment was raised to meet the cost of relieving the distressed, and at least one physician, a York man, ministered to the sick. Although the outbreak lasted until the early summer of 1576, the counter-measures seem to have had some effect in controlling the spread of the disease. (fn. 569) Nevertheless, in the two years 1575–6 no fewer than 322 people were buried in Hull, where the annual average of burials had been about 110 during the preceding years; mortality thus rose by nearly 50 per cent., most of the increase being in Holy Trinity parish, where the main centre of infection lay. (fn. 570)
Only six years later deaths in Hull occurred at twice the normal rate, apparently as a result of an epidemic of influenza, but for 20 years after 1582 the town was free of such outbreaks. In 1602 the plague struck again and seems to have lasted intermittently for two years, by which time the corporation had begun to build pest-houses in Myton Carr and to remove infected persons to them. Deaths again increased sharply: 210 were registered in 1602, almost double the usual number, and of these no fewer than 98 were buried at Holy Trinity from July to September. In the following year 185 deaths were recorded, despite attempts to minimize the infection by excluding ships, sailors, and goods from other plague-stricken places. (fn. 571)
Later in the century such measures were more successful. At different times in the 1620s, when plague raged in other parts of Yorkshire, watchmen were posted at the gates to exclude travellers from infected places. (fn. 572) Precautions became more stringent in 1630 and 1631: London and French ships were stayed out in the roads; men from York were allowed in only with a certificate of good health from that city's lord mayor; a house in Whitefriargate was shut up because a visitor there had come in secretly from a plague-affected area in Nottinghamshire; the watch was strengthened; some of the gates were shut; and in 1631 Hull fair was cancelled. (fn. 573) The town thus escaped serious mortality, unlike York, but the corporation prudently maintained the special watch until January 1635, by which time the outbreak had subsided elsewhere in the county. (fn. 574)
By July 1637 the plague had reached Hull again, despite a careful watch during the previous twelve months on incoming strangers and goods. The first district to be affected was around Mytongate, but the pestilence spread rapidly to other western parts of the town, and the corporation took more elaborate counter-measures than hitherto. More pest-houses were built in Myton Carr, together with a house for storing provisions, and there two men were appointed to look after the sick and bury the dead. All festivities at births and weddings were banned, drinking in alehouses was restrained, the schools and the daily services in church were suspended, and a special assessment was raised to meet the cost of relief. In August the twice-weekly market was suppressed, and a special market on the Drypool side of the River Hull was instituted, lasting until June 1638. In September the corporation estimated that 200 people had died since July, but it insisted that the disease was subsiding and that there was no infection among the merchants or along the waterside; it therefore successfully pleaded for the Privy Council's ban on trading with Hull to be rescinded. At the same time a cleanser was appointed to treat infected houses, and some people were allowed to return home from the pest-houses. Other restrictions were maintained during the autumn, when it is apparent that the epidemic flared up again. Additional pest-houses were built, and orders were given to clear all pigs from the town because of the danger to health. A number of townsmen were placed in quarantine, among them Andrew Marvell and his wife, and with their own safety in mind the mayor and aldermen met in the castle. More detailed arrangements were made to supply the inhabitants from the market on 'Drypool Side'. Meanwhile the visitation continued unabated, claiming the mayor, John Ramsden, as one of its victims before the end of the year, when three other aldermen had to be specially summoned back to the town to elect his successor. (fn. 575)
In the early months of 1638 the corporation redoubled its efforts to control the spread of the disease: the period of quarantine was extended, the isolation and confinement of the sick was enforced, and parents were ordered to forbid gatherings of children. The pest-houses were altered to facilitate cleansing, while arrangements were made to improve the supply of fresh water to them. No begging was permitted, and care was taken to ensure that all rubbish from plague-stricken dwellings was promptly thrown into the Humber. These measures possibly played some part in bringing about the abatement of the plague during the spring. In June small assemblies were permitted at family festivities, but the schools remained closed for a few more weeks, and other restrictions were lifted only gradually: the cleansers in Myton Carr, for example, were not discharged until September, and two more months elapsed before the complete resumption of church services was allowed. (fn. 576)
The social effects of such a severe epidemic were necessarily great. There was some interruption of trade. Mortality rose sharply: in 1637 deaths totalled as many as 770, six times the average, which suggests that an eighth of the town's population was carried off at this time. (fn. 577) Many families were reduced to poverty. But Hull was not left to bear these burdens alone, for before the end of 1637 the Privy Council, on a petition from the corporation, ordered York and the J.P.s of the three Ridings to make collections for the relief of the town. In the event the contributions proved niggardly and were accompanied by the familiar counter-arguments about the extent of the need, but the corporation persuaded the Council to renew its adjurations to other local authorities to make adequate contributions. Further, there were gifts of money or food from local gentry and from the drapers and the Merchant Adventurers of York, whose trading interests in the town were manifestly affected. (fn. 578) Soon, however, the government itself added to Hull's problem of recovery by demanding money for the repair of the defences. (fn. 579)
Mortality was high in 1643, and disease again reached epidemic proportions in 1644 when almost 400 people died, many of them apparently from typhus. (fn. 580) Towards the middle of the following year the corporation, mindful of the scourge of 1637, took stringent measures to exclude ships and people coming from places where the plague was raging, but its vigilance was not rewarded, for the infection broke out in the town during September. The Michaelmas fair was cancelled, and the orders issued in 1637–8 were repeated, with special emphasis on the restraint of pigs, dogs, and cattle, and on the cleansing of butchers' shops. The corporation thus showed some awareness of the nature of the problem. Stricken people were removed to the pest-houses, and there was a special assessment to buy turves and coal for them in the winter, but this outbreak was mercifully short and caused no notable rise in the number of deaths. (fn. 581) This proved to be the last visitation of plague in Hull, but in 1660 typhus seems to have struck again, and there was a sharp rise in mortality. (fn. 582)
Immunity from plague was partly due to the fact that in the early 1660s, when plague raged in various parts of England and the Continent, quarantine measures were strictly enforced in Hull, especially against ships from London, Holland, and France. Vessels were obliged to stand out in the roads for 40 days, while anyone landing from them was shut up for a similar period. Means were devised to unload perishables: catches were tied to the dolphin in the mouth of the River Hull, whence they were taken by the crews to their ships, loaded, and returned to the dolphin to await collection. Even when ships were released from quarantine their cargoes were aired in the catches before being landed. Once, because of stormy weather, ships were permitted into the haven but were obliged to sail up beyond North Bridge, and the crews were forbidden to come ashore. These measures were paralleled by the customary precautions on the landward side, with much stress on the restriction of movement. Although such stringency was successful in warding off the plague, it induced no complacency: the watch continued for two years after 1665, while from time to time ships from infected places were forced to stand off in the roads. (fn. 583) Moreover, two other epidemics took a hold in the town before the end of the century: in 1680 there were at least 520 deaths, more than twice the usual number, apparently because of an outbreak of the fever known as 'agues', and five years later 400 people died, partly from typhus. (fn. 584) In combating these diseases the elaborate precautions devised against the plague were no doubt less effective.
Hull's population does not seem to have increased spectacularly during these years, despite the economic development of the town, and these intermittent outbreaks of sickness may have been a main cause. The evidence is too sparse to enable a reliable guess at the total population in the 16th century to be hazarded. (fn. 585) The chantry certificates of the mid-century record 1,500 communicants at Holy Trinity and 500 at St. Mary's, (fn. 586) figures which are in themselves suspiciously round and to which an unknown number of children must be added. The registers of both parishes record an excess of baptisms over burials: at Holy Trinity this averaged 4.3 a year between 1559 and 1568 and 9.4 a year between 1591 and 1600. The numbers of men who paid a fine for their freedom indicate a steady trickle of immigrants (see Table 1).
The number of inhabitants seems to have risen during the first two and a half, comparatively healthy, decades of the 17th century, when the excess of baptisms over burials was rather greater than in Elizabeth's last ten years. (fn. 587) But the disastrous deathroll of 1637, quickly succeeded in the 1640s by an unusually large number of deaths caused by war as well as by epidemics, set expansion back severely. In the light of these circumstances there is much to commend the view that by the mid-17th century Hull was a town of only some 6,000 people. (fn. 588) After 1660 burials often preponderated over baptisms, though the registers lose much of their value with the rise of nonconformity. Moreover, the expansion of trade and shipping must have attracted people to the town. The hearth-tax assessment of 1673 enumerates 1,370 householders: on the assumption that a household numbered 4.5 to 5 people on average, the total population was between about 6,200 and 6,900; if some allowance is made for the number of servants and apprentices, a reasonable estimate of the population might be between 6,900 and 7,600 (see Table 6). On the other hand, the 'religious census' of 1676 gives a total of 6,000 adults in Hull, which, allowing for children, points to a population of more than 8,000; (fn. 589) the round number of adults arouses suspicion, but the estimate derived from it, while possibly too high, is not so far removed from the hearth-tax figures as seriously to undermine their credibility. The population of the town may thereafter have remained stationary on account of the great increase in deaths caused by virulent disease during the 1680s. Support for such a conclusion is afforded by the lists of taxpayers drawn up for the tax of 1695. These give a total of 5,759 adult inhabitants, a figure which again justifies an estimate approaching 8,000 for the population of Hull at the close of the century. (fn. 590)
Subsidy, 1525: Distribution of Taxable Wealth (fn. 719)
The taxable capacity of Hull agrees broadly with the foregoing estimates of its growth, as well as with the main lines of its economic development. Thus, among the 25 leading provincial towns Hull ranked 21st in the amount of tax paid in 1523–7. (fn. 591) By 1576 it had risen in a similar list by six or seven places, a relative rise clearly resulting from the increase in the town's trade and population since mid-century. (fn. 592) Sixty years later the ship-money assessments show that Hull had lost ground relatively, dropping back to 25th place among the country's more substantial towns; to some extent, however, this loss of position is illusory, for it can be partly explained by the ravages of disease which coincided with the ship-money writs and by Hull's success in passing a portion of its tax burden on to York. (fn. 593) Moreover, by 1662 the town had climbed back to 16th position, despite the incidence of war and plague. (fn. 594)
It is possible to be rather more precise about the distribution of wealth within the town. The subsidy returns of 1525 (see Table 3) show that only 16 people were assessed in the two highest categories; the wealthiest was Katherine Henryson, a member of a wealthy aldermanic family, (fn. 595) and this group also included members of other such families, notably Rogers, Oversal, Dalton, Mattison, and Eland. Below these affluent and privileged inhabitants came another 18 taxpayers assessed at £20 or over who may be classed as substantial, and some aldermen were to be found in this section of the population, too, among them, Thomas Wilkinson and Henry Thurscross. More modest were those assessed at £10 or over who totalled nearly 13 per cent. of all taxpayers. A smaller number of townspeople, rated at £5 or over, can only be described as men of limited, if sufficient, means; some of them were mariners, others craftsmen or retailers. Most taxpayers were considered by the assessors to fall below this level and were clearly poor, though not destitute: much of this group was assessed on wages and included, along with seamen and humbler craftsmen, the dependent labourers.
Subsidy, 1525: Distribution of Tax Assessments (fn. 720)
Although it is not known how many were exempted from the tax altogether for poverty the main lines of social stratification can be discerned (see Table 4). The wealthiest inhabitants amounted to 6 per cent. of the population, owning almost twofifths of the assessed property; those of comfortable wealth formed 19 per cent. of the total with another two-fifths of the taxed property; the 'humbler sort' totalled a further 7 per cent., and the poorer people 67 per cent. of the population, together commanding barely one-fifth of the assessable wealth in the town. In the third decade of the 16th century, therefore, at Hull as in other towns there was a predominance of poor people, many of them dependent on wages; but the number of very wealthy people was small. This conclusion accords with what has already been established about the town's commerce at this time, and about the role of York merchants.
Trinity appears as the richest of the wards (see Table 5): it had the greatest number of taxable inhabitants, and paid the biggest share of the town's assessment; among the wards it had the largest number of wealthy or substantial taxpayers assessed at £20 or over; it also had the smallest proportion assessed at only £1, while it was the only ward with less than 60 per cent. of its taxpayers assessed below £5. Away from this prosperous heart of the town lay Humber Ward, along the riverside. Here half the taxpayers were assessed at £2 or under and there were no inhabitants within the higher ranges of assessment, while the ward paid the smallest proportion of the town's tax burden and, unlike Trinity, housed very few important families. Although St. Mary and Whitefriar Wards both provided the same number of taxpayers, the former had a taxable capacity more than double that of the latter, which provided the largest proportion of taxed wage-earners in the town. In St. Mary dwelt some of the most substantial townsmen, while the same was true of the smaller North Ward, the assessable wealth of which was similar to that of Austin Ward, where the number of taxpayers was appreciably higher. Finally, although Austin Ward had an unusually small proportion of taxed wage-earners, it can hardly be described as a prosperous district, with more than three-quarters of its taxpayers assessed below £5.
Subsidy, 1525: Distribution of Tax Assessments by Wards (fn. 721)
Note: In each ward column the first figure represents the value, the second figure the number.
Because of the well-known deficiencies of later subsidy rolls, there is no further opportunity for analysis of society in Hull until 1673, when the hearth-tax assessment yields a detailed picture of the social orders within the town and of the wealth of the inhabitants as measured by the number of their hearths (see Table 6). In the entire town 3,642 taxable hearths were enumerated in 1,109 households, giving an average of 3.3 hearths to a household. In addition, 261 householders, 19 per cent. of all those listed, were discharged for poverty. Approximately one-fifth of the taxed householders had only one hearth and may therefore also be classed as poor, so that 499 taxed and exempted households, 36 per cent. of the total, comprised the poorest sections of the community and no doubt consisted of paupers or wage-earning labourers. The householders assessed on two hearths probably comprised the humbler seamen and craftsmen, and those with three to five hearths probably included shopkeepers, master craftsmen, many of the mariners, and the smaller traders. (fn. 596) Above them, a group with six to nine hearths comprised professional men and substantial merchants. This category included many of the men prominent in public life, among them Popple, Blaydes, Perkins, Hoare, Raikes, Acklam, Foxley, and Mould. Those assessed on ten hearths or more no doubt included a number of innkeepers, but this group also contained the richest inhabitants, men like Crowle, Metcalfe, Barnard, Skinner, Johnson, and Ramsden.
Hearth Tax, 1673: Analysis of Hearths and Households (fn. 722)
|Households paying||122||113 (fn. 723)||208||202 (fn. 724)||241||223||1,109 (fn. 726)|
|Hearths paying||465||430||775||663||690||619 (fn. 725)||3,642|
|Average number of hearths to a household||3.8||3.8||3.7||3.6||2.7||2.8||3.3|
|Hearths in a household: 1: number||19||17||25||44||75||58||238|
|10 or more: number||6||3||11||4||7||3||34|
By the test of the average number of hearths to a household both Whitefriar and Humber Wards, which each contained about one-fifth of the town's taxed households, appear poor. They also had the lowest proportion of households in the two highest categories, as well as the largest proportion of households taxed on only one hearth. Even so, they counted among their inhabitants some men of substance, including five aldermen, four of them—Crowle, Lambert, Acklam, and Foxley—in Whitefriar. Poor households amounted to a fifth of those taxed in Austin Ward, where a third of the householders nevertheless figured among those comfortably placed with three to five hearths. Wealthier families in this ward included those of Maister, Raikes, and Richardson. Trinity emerges in 1673 as still the most prosperous of the wards: its return shows the lowest proportion of poor households and the highest in the 'middling' category of three to five hearths, as well as by far the largest number in the two highest categories of assessment. The latter included the homes of Aldermen Rogers and Skinner, besides the prominent local families of Bloom, Dewick, Delacamp, Barnard, and Shires. But the two northernmost wards enjoyed the highest average of hearths to a household. Both had only a modest proportion of single-hearth households and a substantial number of households taxed on three to five hearths. Moreover, both had a significant proportion in the two highest categories, and St. Mary numbered Aldermen Hoare, Johnson, Ramsden, and Frank among its inhabitants. These signs of advancing prosperity may be attributed to the development of mercantile residences at the north end of High Street since the late 16th century, for as trade had grown during the intervening years merchants had been obliged to establish their homes and business premises further from the mouth of the haven. There are, indeed, grounds for supposing that the northern half of High Street had by this time become the most fashionable part of Hull. (fn. 597)
The hearth-tax assessment reveals something of the extent to which the wealth of the town had grown since the early 16th century and also shows the dissemination of prosperity among the different orders in urban society. By the end of the 17th century Hull numbered a considerable group of rich people among its inhabitants, but it is clear that here, as in York, wealthy townsmen lived in close proximity to the poor, who were to be found in significant numbers throughout the town. It is evident that poverty was already a big problem in early Tudor times, but there is little record of serious counter-measures until later in the century, beyond the occasional punishment of vagrants at Quarter Sessions, and the appointment of a beadle for beggars. (fn. 598) In 1559 and 1560 there were careful searches for able-bodied mendicants who were liable to banishment from the town for obstinate refusal to work, and the corporation's orders against vice in 1563 and 1574 included injunctions against vagrancy. (fn. 599) Legislation of 1572 and 1576, as well as the plague of 1575–6, awakened the town authorities to the serious danger of uncontrolled wanderers and people lacking visible means of support. Regular searches were undertaken in the wards for beggars, who were threatened with expulsion, while newcomers were reported to the aldermen. Impotent poor without a three-year settlement in the town were removed, and attempts were made to discourage householders from harbouring 'inmates' or 'undersettlers', who were admonished by the clergy to return home. (fn. 600)
Hull was not among those towns, such as York or Norwich, which devised measures in advance of national legislation for the relief of the impotent poor; such people were therefore obliged to rely on private charity until the idea of a parochial poor-rate was nationally adopted in 1572. With its interest prompted by statute and sharpened by the local emergency of 1575–6, the corporation soon began to supervise the administration of the poor-rate by the parish overseers, to punish those who defaulted in their payments, and to consider pleas for inclusion among the recipients of relief. (fn. 601) Above all, in 1577 the corporation made its first attempt to organize gainful employment for poor people: a stock of wool was purchased, and two women from Doncaster were paid to set up a knitting-school under its supervision. The duration of this scheme is not known, but probably as part of the same policy a Great Yarmouth fisherman was hired in 1583 to teach his skills to townsmen. (fn. 602)
Repression was bound to continue, however, for despite all discouragements, beggars and vagrants still arrived, no doubt drawn to Hull, as to other towns, by the prospect of alms, but also by the chance of casual employment provided by the port. The presumed severity of the treatment of them may well have given rise at this time to the well-known saw, 'From Hull, Hell, and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us'. (fn. 603) In 1599 steps were taken to prevent wholesale begging, and a master of beggars was chosen to organize collecting-boxes under the supervision of the mayor, who distributed their contents. Periodically 'undersettlers' were detected and removed. By 1620, however, the problem was sufficiently pressing to justify the establishment of a house of correction, where able-bodied rogues could be set to work; the master of the house also undertook the responsibility of searching regularly for 'undersettlers' and wanderers. (fn. 604) Although the house was closed in 1642 it had to be reopened and re-equipped in 1647, to deal with the large number of vagrants who flocked into the town in the turmoil of civil war. Soon afterwards monthly searches for 'undersettlers' were resumed, and the aldermen themselves undertook to prevent the harbouring of these undesirable lodgers. (fn. 605) The searches continued after 1660, when the corporation several times exercised its statutory rights to refuse a settlement to newcomers who were thereupon removed from the town. (fn. 606) But the reiteration of orders about this problem indicates that no permanently effective solution could be found.
Part of the magistrates' work was therefore designed to prevent an increase in the burden of pauperism, but they maintained a strong interest in the administration of relief as well as in the more repressive aspects of the treatment of poverty. In 1599 the corporation assumed control of poor relief, claiming the right to name the recipients of doles as well as to nominate people for admission to hospitals and almshouses, and these things it continued to do throughout the 17th century. (fn. 607) At the same time it supervised the work of the parish officers and held monthly meetings, especially during times of distress, at which the accounts and the lists of poor were examined. From the 1570s until the 1660s, and perhaps later, repeated efforts were made to ensure the availability of parochial stocks of raw material on which the poor could work at home, while pauper children were apprenticed at public expense; (fn. 608) the latter form of relief was probably facilitated by the grant of the legal custody of orphans in the charter of 1598. (fn. 609) Varying numbers of poor children were also cared for at Charity Hall during the 17th century. This institution, which was reorganized by the corporation in the 1590s, may have originated in a knitting-school founded 20 years earlier. It, too, taught knitting, as well as spinning, and some of the able-bodied, adult poor also worked on the raw materials provided by the master. Although Charity Hall occasionally suffered from mismanagement, the corporation was determined to keep the project in being and always tried to secure masters capable of teaching the children skills by which they could become self-supporting. (fn. 610)
The poor were also helped by the corporation in other ways. Thus the control it exercised over prices in time of dearth, and its attempts to check forestalling and other marketing offences, clearly benefited the humblest of the townspeople. Sometimes, when corn was scarce, as in 1585–6 and 1595–7, the corporation itself bought corn and sold it to the poor at a reasonable price. Lastly, from time to time payments were made to lame soldiers, distressed seamen, and the families of seamen who were abroad. (fn. 611)
Poor families formed a substantial part of the town's population, and during the 17th century the problem was sometimes aggravated by the presence of wives and children deserted by soldiers. (fn. 612) In 1673 261 households, totalling perhaps between 1,170 and 1,300 people, were too poor to pay the hearth tax, but by no means all of these were paupers who qualified for financial help. Indeed, in the 1690s doles were being paid regularly to only 130 adults (103 of them women) and 72 children, apart from the inmates of the almshouses. At the same time about £6 weekly was raised for their relief, a sum which was the same as that assessed in the 1670s, if not before. (fn. 613) Since the mid-17th century, however, the corporation had frequently supplemented parish poor relief by sums ranging from £30 to £50 a year, while the moneys administered by the mayor were also drawn on for the same purpose. These funds were used for the relief of parish paupers, occasional payments ex gratia to people overtaken by misfortune, and the provision of food and raw material at Charity Hall and the house of correction. (fn. 614) Furthermore, the corporation took an important step towards the unification of the system of poor relief in 1656, when it ordered that the two parishes were to be assessed together for the poor of both. Then, early in the 1690s, poor relief was made the responsibility of overseers appointed for each ward. (fn. 615)
By this time there was some concern in the town about the growing burden of poor relief, especially at a time when trade was temporarily bad. (fn. 616) The corporation decided to deal with the problem on a municipal, rather than a parochial, basis and obtained the necessary powers under a statute of 1698. (fn. 617) This constituted a 'Corporation of the Poor' consisting of the mayor, recorder, and aldermen, and 24 guardians elected in the wards, with power to apprehend idlers, build a workhouse, and arrange assessments both for the workhouse and for outdoor relief. Before the end of the year the new corporation had appointed Alderman Nettleton as its first governor and had chosen a deputy governor and a treasurer. The recipients of poor relief were inspected, while arrangements were made for a new workhouse to be built, incorporating Charity Hall and the house of correction. A woolcomber from Halifax was appointed to teach the inmates, together with a nurse and a physician to look after them. The town corporation agreed to pay £100 a year to the treasurer for the poor, in addition to the usual assessments, and it was decided to take as many beggars as possible into the workhouse. (fn. 618) Hull was thus among the first towns in the country to follow the example of Bristol in securing statutory powers for the organization of poor relief on a municipal basis. (fn. 619)
Private charities augmented public relief. They provided doles of money or food for paupers, met the cost of apprenticeship, helped young artificers to set up in their callings, and assisted poor scholars. By the 1560s many of the charities were controlled by the corporation, and a century later Hull, in relation to its size, held huge endowments: most of these had been provided by wealthier townsmen and a small proportion by Londoners with local connexions. (fn. 620) The most notable benefactors during the period were three aldermen, William Gee, Thomas Ferries, and Sir John Lister, whose gifts and bequests included money for poor relief as well as for religious, municipal, and educational purposes, all of them typical of the charitable giving of the time. (fn. 621) Moreover, Hull was generously provided with almshouses, the two most important being the Charterhouse hospital, controlled by the corporation, and the Trinity House hospital, both of which were enlarged in the 17th century. (fn. 622)
Expanding educational facilities gave the sons of some of the humbler families the opportunity to improve their station in life. The number of petty schools grew from the late 16th century onwards, and besides the instructors at Charity Hall there were by 1700 various teachers in the town. Above all the Grammar School played an increasingly significant part in the life of the town during these centuries. Having survived the threats to its existence posed by the Reformation the school gradually passed into the full control of the corporation. During the last decades of the 16th century it enjoyed one of its most flourishing periods, and it continued to prosper until the mid-17th century. The school took its pupils not only from the great town families but from those of humbler craftsmen and tradesmen as well, thus achieving a mixture which helped to promote a measure of social cohesion in the town. Anthony Stevenson and John Catlin were perhaps the most successful masters, and the latter in particular took a close personal interest in the welfare of his less affluent pupils. From the 1670s, however, the school sank in numbers, achievement, and esteem. Of the former pupils who went to Cambridge, some returned to their native district, often as teachers or clergymen; others stayed to teach at the university, the most notable of these being Thomas Watson, who later became Bishop of St. David's. (fn. 623)
Some Hull graduates took medical or legal qualifications, and returned to their native town to swell the numbers of those who served a sophisticated community. In addition to the teachers and clergy already mentioned, these included attornies, customs officers, apothecaries, scriveners, mathematicians, surgeons, and physicians. (fn. 624) Among the last named Dr. Robert Witty was the most outstanding: he was usher at the school, as well as a successful physician who became a doughty champion of the medicinal quality of the spa waters at Scarborough and elsewhere. (fn. 625) The presence of educated people in rising numbers stimulated the spread of literary interests in Hull, and wills attest the ownership of books by laity as well as clergy. (fn. 626) Permission was given to Thomas Woodhouse in 1596 to set up in business as a bookseller and book-binder. Other men following the same occupations appeared subsequently, though there were no printers, (fn. 627) while in the 1670s an ejected minister living in the town, James Calvert, was a well-known collector of books and manuscripts. (fn. 628) Thanks to local generosity, the stock of books at the Grammar School was considerably enlarged after 1660. (fn. 629) Unfortunately for the townspeople, the corporation's suggestion in 1644 that Sir John Hotham's books, confiscated with the rest of his property, should be used for a public library was not accepted by the government. (fn. 630) In 1665, however, the nucleus of a parish library was formed at Holy Trinity, and another in 1682 at St. Mary's. (fn. 631)
Some of the works available for reading were written by local residents. Several of the 17th-century clergy, including Henry Hibbert, John Canne, and Samuel Charles, published sermons, while John Shawe had a formidable list of religious publications to his credit, including some highly polemical writings: Three Kingdoms' Case is perhaps his best-known work. (fn. 632) Abraham de la Pryme began to read and sort the corporation's records in 1700, and he prepared from them the first history of Hull. (fn. 633) Among laymen the schoolmaster Robert Fowbery composed Latin epitaphs for his neighbours, while Captain Luke Fox published The West Fox, an account of his voyages of discovery. (fn. 634) The most notable of all was Andrew Marvell, who spent his early years in Hull and attended the Grammar School; he became an accomplished scholar, as well as an important metaphysical poet, but the bulk of his poems were not published until after his death, and his local reputation rested on his services as a member of parliament. (fn. 635)
Other forms of cultural activity in the town were very limited. Performances of the religious play about Noah ended at the Reformation, and although companies of players sometimes visited Hull they were discouraged by the Puritan-minded magistrates. The same men showed little enthusiasm for music in church, but the corporation occasionally employed musicians to perform at public ceremonies. (fn. 636) Creativity in the arts was otherwise confined to the craftsmen who worked, usually anonymously, to produce carvings in such public buildings as the Grammar School, as well as some of the plate and monumental sculpture in the churches. (fn. 637)
The sports and pastimes of ordinary people showed no local pecularities. Archery and other games were permitted on Butcroft, and in the 17th century tobacco-pipesmoking achieved rapid popularity. (fn. 638) Everyone could enjoy the familiar pleasures of the alehouse: Hull was noted for a specially strong ale known as 'Hull cheese', which attracted the attention of travellers. (fn. 639) Drunkenness was often rife, and the bench books contain repeated and vigorous orders by the corporation for a reduction in the number of alehouses; this campaign was at its height between 1566 and 1640, no doubt because of religious influences, but the results seem always to have been short-lived. The corporation showed a similar concern about vice, which is understandable in a town where a transitory population of seamen, soldiers, and travellers could pose a serious threat to morality. Unmarried mothers were severely treated, while on one occasion at least women were threatened with legal penalties for wearing extravagant clothes. (fn. 640) In the later years of the 17th century social life was also influenced by the Society for the Reformation of Manners, with its campaign against swearing and drunkenness. (fn. 641) Nevertheless, despite the poverty and the complaints against drinking and immorality, there were apparently no grave or widespread breaches of public order in the town.
During the 17th century Hull's traditional links with the rest of the country were strengthened by the inauguration of a postal service which, in turn, facilitated the receipt of newsletters from London correspondents commissioned by the corporation. (fn. 642) But Hull was not a social centre and most of its visitors came on business rather than pleasure. Nevertheless, the rare royal visits, and the arrival of other important national figures, provided a measure of public entertainment for the ordinary inhabitants. Otherwise they had to be content with local celebrations, like the fish feast at midsummer, as well as national days of rejoicing (fn. 643) to relieve the hardships and monotony of the daily round, to which, in the 17th century at least, they were called by the 'five o'clock man' who roused the town at the beginning of each day. (fn. 644)
During these centuries the appearance of the town was much altered, though hardly radically transformed, as a consequence of governmental measures and the activities of the townspeople. The most spectacular addition to the landscape resulted from Henry VIII's decision in 1541 not merely to order the strengthening of the medieval fortifications but also to command the construction of a 'castle' and two blockhouses on the east bank of the haven. (fn. 645) These extensive royal works, which were finished with commendable speed, were built in stone and brick, the former coming from secularized Church property. The new fortifications were connected by a wall and moat and were linked to the town by the newly-erected North Bridge. (fn. 646) Built like the town walls in the traditional style of fortification, the castle and blockhouses formed a strong defensive curtain for the town and haven. They gave Hull the air of a military stronghold and prompted the comment of later visitors. (fn. 647) The corporation remained responsible for the upkeep of the town walls, but, following the royal grant of the castle and blockhouses to the town in 1552, there were repeated disputes about the responsibility for repairs, and the fabric may have deteriorated in consequence. (fn. 648) During the early 17th century the defences were further strengthened by the completion of a battery at the South End. During the Civil War the fortifications were not merely repaired but considerably reinforced by bastions at the main gates and new outer ramparts with another ditch. (fn. 649) The fighting resulted in extensive damage to all the defences, but repairs and improvements were quickly begun, if slowly completed. During the later 17th century the continuing military importance of Hull resulted in the entire reconstruction after 1681 of the defences east of the haven following a report by Major (later Sir) Martin Beckman, as a result of which the castle and south blockhouse were enclosed within a triangular fortification surrounded by a moat. The new Citadel, which incorporated contemporary notions of military architecture, long remained an outstanding feature of the town.
Religious changes had less notable effects on the appearance of the town. The dissolution of the Charterhouse, the two friaries, the chantry chapels, and the other minor religious houses led to the eventual loss of some buildings (fn. 650) and added significantly to the amount of open space within the walls, (fn. 651) probably contributing to the decayed appearance of parts of the town in the 16th century. The two churches, shorn of their statues, remained largely unaltered. Holy Trinity, the tower of which was completed only in the 1520s, was often in need of repair, and St. Mary's, the tower of which probably fell down about the same time, shows similar evidence of dilapidation. Both, however, were 'beautified' in the Laudian manner after 1633, and adorned by monumental sculpture. (fn. 652) To receive the large number who died during the Civil War a garth was made available to supplement the churchyard at Holy Trinity, (fn. 653) where the arrangements for worship during the Interregnum seem to have occasioned so much damage to the fabric that extensive renovations were subsequently undertaken. (fn. 654) Visitors to Hull after 1660 were impressed by the sight of Holy Trinity, but St. Mary's aroused little interest, although the skyline was no doubt improved by the rebuilding of its tower, begun in 1697. (fn. 655) By this time, moreover, there were new religious buildings in Hull, for two nonconformist congregations each built a chapel, the Presbyterians in Bowlalley Lane and the Independents in Dagger Lane. (fn. 656)
A religious impulse lay behind other buildings in the town. Certain medieval hospitals, or almshouses, amongst which the Charterhouse and Trinity House hospitals were the most important, survived the Reformation and continued to provide homes for the aged and the poor. (fn. 657) Charterhouse Hospital, which lay beyond the walls, was demolished during the siege of 1643 but quickly rebuilt on a larger scale, with further additions after 1663, all in a simple style; with its chapel and walled gardens it remained one of the sights of Hull. (fn. 658) Trinity House Hospital also attracted visitors in the 17th century, partly to see the accommodation but chiefly to inspect the embalmed corpse of an eskimo, who had been captured in 1613, dressed in skins and complete with canoe. (fn. 659) Thomas Ferries's hospital, founded nearby about 1625, came to be associated with Trinity House. (fn. 660) Various other benefactors added to the number of almshouses during the period; these included Gee's and Lister's hospitals, and Crowle's hospital in Sewer Lane, with its three stories, ornamental brickwork, and Corinthian pilasters. (fn. 661) Provision for the undeserving poor and for misdemeanants was made after 1620 at the house of correction, in Whitefriargate, which stood close to Charity Hall, the corporation workhouse. (fn. 662) Finally, the Grammar School, which had always been closely linked with the church both institutionally and geographically, moved in 1583 into a new, and larger, building on the south side of Holy Trinity churchyard, with gardens and open ground behind it. (fn. 663)
Economic activities affected the topography of Hull in the 16th and 17th centuries in several ways. The weigh-house in High Street incorporated the custom house, which may have been rebuilt in the late 16th century. Part of the weigh-house was also rebuilt about 1620 as the exchange, for the use of the Merchants' Society as a daily meeting-place to replace the society's hall on the upper floor of the Grammar School. (fn. 664) Traders concerned with the Greenland fishery erected their own hall near Charterhouse Hospital in 1674. (fn. 665) The ancillary trades of the port continued to feature in its topography: ropers, for example, leased the Ropery and loopholes in the Humber wall from the corporation, as before, although they occasionally exceeded their rights by building in the loopholes. (fn. 666) There was a small shipyard near North Bridge in 1607 which had expanded by the end of the century. (fn. 667) Among other industrial premises were brickyards, limekilns, horse- and windmills, and mills for treating rape-seed; there were also sugar-mills at the South End and Trippett, the latter mill changing over to rapeseed in 1673. (fn. 668) Such industries caused nuisances: the corporation had to forbid the burning of rape-cakes owing to their 'filthy smell', the firing of casks in the streets by coopers (although the order was later rescinded), and the washing of skins by glovers from the South End and Horse Staiths at certain times. (fn. 669) Few of the craft guilds had their own halls: several met in a room over Beverley Gate, others shared the coopers' hall in White Horse Yard or the hall near St. Mary's Church which had belonged to the medieval guild of St. John the Baptist, and which was subsequently acquired by the tailors. (fn. 670)
The market-place became increasingly the focus of local government. At its southern end stood the medieval prison and the Guildhall. During the 16th century the corporation had continued to use a chapel at Holy Trinity Church for some of its meetings. This practice ceased, however, soon after the construction in the 1630s of a new Guildhall, which, with the old Guildhall alongside, gradually became the centre of municipal administration. (fn. 671) Nearby a new market cross was completed, perhaps in 1622, and it was rebuilt more elaborately in 1682. (fn. 672) During these centuries shops and stalls multiplied in the market-place itself, under the Guildhall, and along the adjoining streets, as well as in other parts of the town: by the 1670s, for example, ships' chandlers had congregated near North Bridge. (fn. 673) Alehouses were as ubiquitous as shops, and among the inns catering for the growing numbers of travellers were the 'George', in High Street, the half-timbered 'King's Head', also in High Street, with its gables, yard, and gallery, and the 'White Horse', in the market-place. (fn. 674)
Although there was little development outside the walls, evidence abounds of building and rebuilding within. Hull was included in the Act of 1540 for the re-edification of towns, and throughout the remainder of the 16th century the corporation made repeated attempts to prevent its own and others' property from falling into decay and to encourage building on vacant sites, especially in High Street. (fn. 675) After 1600 the corporation continued to spend lavishly on the maintenance of its property but its adjurations were no longer needed by the many townsmen intent on embellishing their own houses. The embellishments included extra rooms, additional stories, projecting bays, and porches, but it is difficult to describe this rebuilding precisely for few examples have survived into modern times. Undoubtedly, however, there were some fine houses in Stuart Hull. (fn. 676) One of them, now the White Hart Inn, in Silver Street, was reputedly used by Sir John Hotham while governor. (fn. 677) In High Street noteworthy houses included those of the Crowle and Etherington families, as well as the splendid house built for the Lister family (now Wilberforce House Museum). The Listers also leased from the corporation in the mid-17th century the 'great garden' and ancillary buildings called 'Club Hall'. (fn. 678) The most magnificent house of all, however, was the medieval manorhouse adjoining Lowgate: this vast and imposing building, with its gatehouse, outer and inner courtyards, towers, chapel, garden, orchard, fishponds, stables, and outbuildings, perhaps underwent some improvement during the earlier 16th century, and its gradual demolition after 1663 was a considerable architectural loss for the town. (fn. 679)
The extent of new building notwithstanding, the grid pattern of the streets of Hull remained basically unchanged. Sections of the original long thoroughfares were given separate names, however: in the 16th century Beverley Street came to comprise Fish Street (fn. 680) and Land of Green Ginger, the last a name of uncertain origin; (fn. 681) part of Church Lane was called Posterngate; (fn. 682) and part of Blackfriargate became Blanket Row. (fn. 683) By the late 17th century another part of Beverley Street was called Sewer Lane, (fn. 684) and a section of Whitefriargate was called Silver Street. (fn. 685) Some smaller streets also had new names: by the early 16th century Daggard Lane had become Dagger Lane, (fn. 686) and by the end of the 17th century Denton Lane was called Bowlalley Lane. (fn. 687) Other streets seem to have had temporary alternative names: Chapel Lane was apparently called St. Mary Lane in the early 16th century; (fn. 688) the names Oggar Lane, Hutchinson's Row, and Bruer Lane were applied respectively to Sewer Lane, Dagger Lane, and Fish Street in the mid-17th century; (fn. 689) and Lowgate was otherwise known as Manor Side later in that century. (fn. 690)
At least one new street, Tan House Lane, appeared beyond the walls. (fn. 691) Two streets, Jesus Gate or Street and 'Redelayn' or Chapman Street, mentioned in the late 16th century, cannot now be identified. (fn. 692) Equally difficult to identify are the several entries and alleys leading off the streets, some no doubt giving access to newly-built property. Fisher Lane, Wilsbie Entry, Wilflet Lane, and Watten Lane first appear in the 16th century; (fn. 693) Porter's Entry and Deadman's Lane in the 17th century. (fn. 694) White Horse Entry or Yard, however, which is mentioned in the early 16th century, existed on the east side of Market Place until the late 1930s. (fn. 695) Some rows of houses received names apparently for the first time: Priests' or Canons' Row, at the west end of Holy Trinity Church, for example, was so called at least from the mid-16th century, (fn. 696) and Merchants' Row, in Blackfriargate, from the early 17th century. (fn. 697)
Many of the shops and houses displayed the familiar characteristics of timber and plaster construction, but as in the Middle Ages brick was frequently used, for parts of buildings at least, and many were entirely of brick. (fn. 698) This material afforded some protection against fire, always a serious danger in closely-built streets and yards. The corporation was aware of the problem and during Elizabeth's reign occasionally prohibited the substitution of wood for brickwork and tried to encourage the use of bricks by manipulating their price. (fn. 699) In 1576 and 1577 the corporation ordered that thatched property should be roofed with tiles and threatened punishment for the use of thatch in new buildings. (fn. 700) It repeatedly banned both the use of lighted candles in stables and ships and the heating of pitch on ships, and eventually it doubled the fine for making haystacks within the walls. (fn. 701) This campaign of fire precaution culminated in 1585 in orders for the provision in various places of leather buckets, iron hooks, and other tools. Perhaps these measures were effective, for the records do not suggest the occurrence of any serious fires for some time. The order for buckets and tools was repeated in 1630, however, and after 1658 the corporation enforced a series of precautionary measures: bonfires on 5 November were occasionally banned, a permanent watch was ordered during the alarm following the Great Fire of London, bricklayers were instructed to inspect hearths and chimneys in all brewhouses, and safeguards were ordered against fire in workshops, yards, and ships moored in the haven. There was a renewed sense of urgency about the danger of conflagration after a fire near the South End in 1671 which involved four houses and in which two people died, and in 1673 the corporation purchased a fire-engine to be kept in Holy Trinity Church. (fn. 702) Finally, as a result of a fire which caused extensive damage in Whitefriargate in 1694, flax-dressing by candlelight was forbidden and the fire-engine was regularly tested. (fn. 703)
The nature of the surrounding country meant that flooding was a further danger, and the town suffered severe inundations in 1527 and 1571. (fn. 704) A much greater problem, however, was that of supplying the townspeople with fresh water. Throughout the 16th century the only means of so doing was that devised in the Middle Ages, and the corporation was always careful to uphold its rights in Derringham Well and the freshwater dikes. (fn. 705) Indeed the corporation bought the well in 1571, hoping to secure permanent access to this vital source of supply, but later threats to the well forced the corporation to defend its rights at law. (fn. 706) The construction of the waterworks outside Beverley Gate in 1613, however, enabled water to be piped along some streets to the houses of subscribers, although the corporation sometimes had to contend with the theft of water, faulty pipes, and an inadequate flow. (fn. 707)
There was no improvement in the unsavoury condition of the streets, despite the authorities' continuous battle against the dumping of filth and other insanitary habits of the townspeople. Repeated orders for cleaning the streets and carrying rubbish and ordure to the appointed dumping places suggest ineffectiveness as well as persistence. Swine and other animals ran loose in the streets despite the corporation's measures to prevent it, including the building of a pinfold; in 1576 the townspeople were forbidden to keep more than two cows each inside the walls. (fn. 708) Even the continued provision of common privies and the appointment after 1629 of a scavenger probably did little to alleviate the problem, which was common to all towns during the period. (fn. 709) By the early 16th century some of the streets were cobbled, with stones said to have been brought into Hull in ballast. The corporation tried to maintain and improve the surfaces, but this also was difficult, despite legacies for the purpose from wealthy citizens, for too many townspeople clearly evaded their responsibilities. (fn. 710) The same was true of the requirement, first announced as the nights lengthened in 1621 and often repeated, that substantial householders should hang lanterns outside their doors. (fn. 711)
If movement through Hull was often made difficult and unpleasant by filth and by uneven surfaces in ill-drained, ill-lit streets, traffic in and out of the town was probably helped by the efforts of the corporation. Passage across the Humber to Barton was afforded as before by a ferry; another ferry, across the River Hull, ceased to operate soon after the completion of North Bridge. (fn. 712) The bridge and the drawbridges at the gates were maintained by the corporation, a charge which grew heavier in the late 17th century with the building of the Civil War ditch and the increase of wheeled traffic. Moreover, North Bridge was rebuilt and enlarged in 1676 in order to facilitate the passage of vessels upstream and to improve communications with the castle and Holderness. (fn. 713)
Among visitors to the town during the 17th century were several topographical writers whose accounts confirm the impression that Hull, with its staiths, warehouses, fortifications, almshouses, and splendid church, had a distinctive character. Although contemporaries commented on the closely packed streets, there were still plenty of open spaces, orchards, and gardens. In general it seems that by later Stuart times Hull had become a well-built town of pleasant aspect, with a measure of prosperity and promise for the future. (fn. 714)