Introduction to the project
Ever since the customs system was created in 1272 we have had records of England's foreign trade. Internal trade was much more extensive, yet passes almost unrecorded until the 18th century. Apart from a few accounts for the River Tyne and Cornwall, we possess only the unique and wonderful brokage books of the city of Southampton.
All trade leaving Southampton through the Bargate for its hinterland "Winchester and Salisbury, Romsey and Newbury, Bristol and London, even Coventry and Dudley" was charged tolls (pontage and brokage) by the city's brokers. The image on the left is a close-up view of an extract from brokage book SC5/5/8 for 1447-48, showing Latin text and typical handwriting of the period. All images of the brokage books are reproduced by kind permission of Southampton Archives Services.
The pilot project
The Overland Trade Project has been researched by Dr Winifred Harwood under the direction of Professor Michael Hicks and pump-primed by the University from the Higher Education Innovation Fund. A pilot project commenced in 2004 and examples of the output are shown on the preliminary results page. Two products have been created as a result of this pilot:
- A CD of the 1447-8 account was published by Wessex Historical Databases in 2006
- The brokage book for 1447-48 was published in a volume of the Southampton Records Series (vol. 42, 2008) ISBN: 978-085432-883-3
The Overland Trade Project enters the data from the brokage books into an inter-relational database. The database includes the following information: day, date, month, carrier forename, standard surname, carter of/place, items paid custom only, carts in, items in, carts out, leaving towards, items out, no. indeterminate, no. designated units, owner forename, owner surname, owner of/place. Some of the outputs include charts, graphs and maps, examples of which can be seen on the preliminary results page. One of the products of the project is a volume in the Southampton Records Series.
Visit the Overland Trade Project Database website.
Since the completion of the pilot project more work has been undertaken and the long-awaited volume English Inland Trade 1430 - 1540: Southampton and its region, edited by Michael Hicks (Oxford: Oxbow, 2015) is now available.