Bristol shipping records: imports and exports, 1770-1917

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Bristol Presentments, 1770-1917

Bristol Presentments, 1770-1917

The Board of Customs and Excise have ordered that, until further notice, particulars of Imports of Food, Drink and Tobacco, Clearances of Dutiable Goods and Drawback Tobacco, shall not be disclosed
H. M. Customs ans Excise; Bill of Entry; Custom House; Monday, December 31st, 19171910-1917; 1917; img 112

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The shipping records cover all arrivals at Bristol from the Americas over 140 years

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The Bristol Presentments are bills of entry derived from official sources (the reports and manifests of ships) which contain information about the trade of Bristol. This collection of Bristol Presentments, now in the Central Reference Library, Bristol, is the earliest series of bills of entry known to exist. Returns are available for the following years: imports 1770, 1775, 1777-80. 1791-1828, 1830-44, 1846-1917;" exports 1773-80, 1790-1828. 1830-44, 1846-1917. Some of the volumes are incomplete and those for 1829 and 1845 are missing. Precisely when the Bristol Presentments started is not known but a note at the end of no. 3838 (31 December 1917) informs subscribers that 'His Majesty's Treasury has decided not to continue the publication of the Bristol Bill of Entry after the 31st inst.'. Prior to this, from December 1916 the detailed ship's reports had been discontinued. The notice stated that 'A List of Ships arriving will be published under the heading Ships Entered Inwards, and cargoes will appear under the classified heading of Imports'. From 5 April 1917 the Board of Customs and Excise ordered that 'until further notice, particulars of Imports of Food, Drink and Tobacco and of clearances of Dutiable and Drawback Goods shall not be disclosed, and that the countries whence Imports are shipped or consigned, or to which Exports are destined shall not be published'. These Copies were printed daily and sent to any Merchant, or other person, in the city that would pay forty shillings a year to recieve them. Contents include the quantity of goods, the names of the merchants involved and the places where the goods had arrived from or were to go to. These Bills are divided into two parts, the first contains details of goods arriving in to port on various vessels which tended to be the produce or products of foreign countries. The second variety of goods listed are exports which tended to be the produce or manufacture of Britain carried out. These records also include an account of all the ships that enter and leave port daily, with the name of the Master, the places they had come from and the locations they were to depart to. Some entries included advertisements of the names of ships that lay waiting to take-in goods. This description was drawn from the introduction and online guide to the microfilm edition by Professor Walter E. Minchinton of the University of Exeter.


Bristol shipping records: imports and exports, 1770-1917...

Containing 28,562 pages belonging to 132 documents housed in 14 volumes...

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Contains details of imports from 1770, 1775, and 1777 - 1780. Records of exports include those from 1773 - 1780....


Contains details of imports from 1791 - 1799 and records of exports from 1790 - 1799. These records are not...


Contains details of imports and exports from 1800 - 1809. These records are not complete please see guide or document...


Contains details of imports and exports from 1810 - 1819. These records are not complete please see guide or document...


  • The presentments from the 18th century include ships' names and cargoes. They also include the names of people and companies associated with each shipment on board.
  • During the 19th century these presentments became more formal and began to include warehousing records, as well as import taxes paid.
  • By the 20th century the focus of these items was upon totals of goods sent to or received from different national ports and foreign countries.
  • These records reveal how the quantities of items shipped each week changed during the industrial revolution. They also reveal the changes in trading priorities over this time.
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