WHITSON, John (c.1554-1629), of St. Nicholas Street, Bristol, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



11 Nov. 1605

Family and Education

b. c.1554,1 s. of William Whitson of Clearwell, Newland, Glos. ?educ. Newland g.s.; appr. Bristol 1570. m. (1) 12 Apr. 1585, Bridget (d.1608), da. of Robert Saxey, merchant, of Bristol, wid. of Nicholas Cutt, merchant, of Bristol, 3da. d.v.p.; (2) 21 Sept. 1609 (with £500), Magdalen (bur. 19 Sept. 1615), da. of Thomas Barber, Salter, of London, wid. of William Hynde, Salter, of London, s.p.; (3) 18 May 1617 (?with £2,000), Rachel (bur. 18 Sept. 1654), da. of Richard Danvers of Tockenham, Wilts., wid. of John Aubrey of Burlton Court, Burghill, Herefs., s.p.2 d. 27 Feb. 1629.3 sig. John Whitsone.

Offices Held

Freeman, Bristol 1585,4 collector subsidy 1586,5 sheriff 1589-90,6 common councilman by 1598, surveyor, St. Bartholomew’s free school (jt.) 1598,7 alderman 1600-d.,8 constable of staple 1602-3, 1604-5, 1611-12, 1616-17, 1623-4, 1625-6,9 mayor 1603-4, 1615-16,10 j.p. by 1604,11 commr. piracy 1604,12 subsidy 1608, 1621, 1624, 1629,13 aid 1609,14 lic. passengers overseas 1611,15 French prize goods 1627,16 charitable uses 1628,17 auditor (jt.) 1628,18 capt. of militia ft. at d.19

Feoffee, Bristol Merchant Venturers 1600,20 warden 1605-6, master 1606-7, 1611-12;21 asst. Spanish Co. May-December 1605;22 member, Virg. Co. 1622.23

Under-dep. farmer of wine duties (jt.), western ports 1611-22.24


Remembered by his godson, John Aubrey, as ‘the most popular magistrate’ in Bristol, whose house boasted ‘the stateliest dining room in the city’, Whitson was born into an obscure family in the Forest of Dean, where he perhaps acquired his interest in falconry.25 He was probably educated locally at the free school in Newland, which he remembered in his will, although Aubrey claims that he was schooled at Bristol, ‘where he made a good proficiency in the Latin tongue’.26 Aubrey further alleges that Whitson was subsequently apprenticed to Alderman Vawer of Bristol, but in fact he was indentured for eight years to Nicholas Cutt, a wealthy Bristol vintner. Following Cutt’s death in 1582, Whitson, ‘a handsome young fellow’, supposedly seduced his master’s widow in a wine cellar. Certainly Whitson married Bridget Cutt in April 1585, and their first child was born less than seven months later.

This marriage undoubtedly laid the foundations of Whitson’s fortune. At the very least it allowed him, rather belatedly, to take up the freedom of Bristol in March 1585. It was not long before Whitson, whom Aubrey described as ‘an early riser’ and a man who liked to transact all his business before noon, became one of the city’s leading merchants, trading mainly to France, Spain and the Mediterranean, but also to Ireland, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Danzig and Newfoundland. He primarily exported lead (perhaps in association with the Italian merchant Philip Corsini), leather and cloth, in return for wine, currants, alum and oil;27 he also regularly bought and sold iron. In 1607 he offered to buy up to 200 tons of iron each year from Richard Boyle’s Irish ironworks provided that Boyle agreed to refuse to sell to any other merchant in the Severn.28 Unlike many of Bristol’s leading merchants, Whitson was apparently not a shipowner,29 though during the 1590s he helped fit out two privateers.30 As a significant importer of Spanish wine,31 he naturally joined the newly revived Spanish Company in May 1605. By 1603 he also belonged to a syndicate that established a wireworks at Chilworth, Surrey. It is unlikely, however, that he and his colleagues traded for long as they were prosecuted in 1605 for infringing the monopoly of the London Mineral and Battery Works Company.32 Perhaps a more profitable sideline was moneylending. In 1624 Whitson claimed before Chancery never to have lent out money at interest ‘other than for his wife’s children, and that of late’,33 but a subsequent attempt to recover £140 which he had lent to a Bath clothier in 1622, together with papers and plate left as security in his house at the time of his death, proves otherwise.34 His business methods may not have been entirely scrupulous. In 1600 it was alleged that he was a party to customs fraud,35 and though the charge was apparently never proven, in 1623 the Exchequer found him guilty of failing to pay prisage on wine.36 Although commerce made him wealthy, Whitson was not entirely avaricious. The contemporary Bristol chronicler, William Adams, noted that in the 1590s Whitson donated his share of two enemy prizes to various Bristol almshouses.37

Early in his career Whitson incurred the displeasure of Bristol’s city fathers: in 1586 and 1587 he was fined a total of £44 for breaching the city’s ordinances. However, he soon became a member of the ruling oligarchy himself, and in May 1598 he was asked to consider which of the city’s ordinances should be repealed.38 Appointed alderman of All Saints’ Ward two years later, he was elected mayor in 1603. As such he was persuaded by Richard Hakluyt, a prebend of Bristol Cathedral, to help finance Martin Pring’s voyage to New England. Whitson’s importance as ‘one of the chief adventurers’ was subsequently acknowledged by Pring, who named a bay after him.39 It was also as mayor that Whitson angered the board of Greencloth by prosecuting the customer of Bristol for collecting composition for purveyance. In February 1604 the board informed him that the only reason he had not been summoned to London to answer for his contempt was that his presence at Bristol during time of plague could not be spared. Bristol’s corporation responded by instructing its parliamentary representative, Thomas James, to bring the matter to the attention of the Commons.40 The following January Whitson, by now no longer mayor, was ordered by the corporation to assist James in lobbying the lord treasurer and the king’s counsel in London over the city’s petition against both purveyance and composition.41

Whitson was himself returned to Parliament for Bristol in November 1605 following the appointment of George Snygge as baron of the Exchequer. On 10 Feb. 1606 he was added to the committee to consider the incorporation of the Spanish Company, a body he no longer viewed favourably, for shortly before taking his seat he had helped Bristol secede from membership and revive its own Society of Merchant Venturers. He was subsequently added to committees to consider restrictions on travel abroad (19 May), a bill for the relief of artisan skinners (2 May) and the management of an intended conference on the export of beer (16 May). Along with his fellow Member, Thomas James, he took part in the debate of 11 Apr. 1606 on the imposition on currants, but his words went unrecorded.42 He subsequently received £10 13s. 4d. in parliamentary expenses from Bristol.43

In the interval between the second and third sessions, Whitson was required to deliver Bristol’s refusal to a demand for £800 from the Exchequer, which sum related to the cost of incorporating the Spanish Company.44 At around the same time he answered charges in Star Chamber that he had connived with two other defendants to fabricate the will of Joan Snow, to whom he owed money. Among the accusations levelled by the plaintiff, William Walton, it was alleged that Whitson was a well-known perjurer who lived ‘incontinently as well with other men’s wives as with other women’. It was also insinuated that, during his recent mayoralty, he had entered into an ill-judged sexual liaison with a serving maid, whom he had removed to Ireland or Wales before the birth of her child. Whitson hotly denied these attempts to blacken his name, declaring that the maid had left his house because it was feared she had contracted the plague.45

During the third session, for which he received £32 in expenses, Whitson considered a bill against unlicensed alehouses, and on 13 Dec. he secured the appointment of further committeemen.46 He was named to three other committees, including one for a bill to clarify the 1604 statute on tanners (9 December).47 During the Easter adjournment, he and Thomas James were required to remain in London to seek Privy Council approval for a new tax to be levied on all goods passing through the city.48

In September 1609, following the death of his first wife, Whitson married Magdalen Hynde, the beautiful widow of a London Salter. Her previous husband had left her an estate worth just £60, a sum which Whitson claimed covered only her removal costs from London to Bristol. Her father, however, promised to bequeath Whitson £500 at his death as a belated dowry.49 During his absence in London, Whitson entrusted his business affairs to Nicholas Meredith, his former apprentice, whom he later accused of mismanagement.50 On returning to Bristol he was summoned by lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) to answer certain unspecified charges, but the town’s mayor replied that Whitson was lame, unable to travel and needed at home ‘in matters of importance for the king’s service’.51

Whitson was named to four legislative committees during the fourth session, two for the payment of debts (20 Feb. and 27 June 1610), and one each for the Minehead harbour (23 Feb.) and New River bills (20 June). He was also among those ordered to search port books to ascertain the impact of impositions on trade (16 June).52 The question of impositions naturally concerned Whitson and his fellow Bristol Merchant Venturers, who as early as 1608 had complained of a newly introduced duty on sweet wines.53 A shared interest with his constituents must also explain his introduction, on 28 Feb., of a bill against piracy, which was beginning to cause serious harm to Bristol’s trade.54 However, it was probably a concern for the poor which prompted him, on 11 July, to speak against the addition of a fifteenth to a proposed grant of subsidy; later, in the 1621 Parliament, he would explain that he preferred subsidies ‘because they fall upon the best and ablest’, whereas ‘fifteenths arise upon the poorest’. The next day he was granted a leave of absence.55 As well as his wages for this session, which amounted to £37 17s., Whitson was repaid £8 5s. for a hogshead of sack he gave to the Speaker, whose favour he presumably courted over the piracy bill. He left no mark on the imperfect records of the fifth session, perhaps because he was involved in prosecuting a suit against the French Company on behalf of the Bristol Merchant Venturers, but received £14 3s. 4d. for his attendance.56

In September 1611 Whitson and two other Bristol merchants obtained an 11-year grant of the farm of the duties on wines imported from Spain and the Mediterranean collected at various western ports, including Bristol. Though they initially agreed to pay an annual rent of £1,400 to John Mayle, the London scrivener to whom the farm of these duties had been deputed by Sir John Swinarton*, Whitson and his colleagues evidently miscalculated the amount of profit arising from the farm, as they soon persuaded Mayle to reduce their rent by £50.57 In the following month Whitson was sent to London to negotiate the purchase of Bristol Castle, which was being used as a refuge by local law-breakers to escape justice, and to defend the Merchant Venturers, of which Company he was now master, against demands for payment of the new duty on sweet wines.58 While in London the following year, he unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the seizure of a small quantity of alum that he had imported. In his letter to lord treasurer Salisbury, he explained that he had resisted the demands of the Crown’s patentees, led by Sir John Bourchier*, because he had presumed ‘the laws of this kingdom to be otherwise’.59

Returned once more to Parliament for Bristol in 1614, Whitson’s principal concern was with impositions. Speaking on 18 Apr. he averred that if he had 40 hearts they would all be for the bill against impositions. He was worried that, like Martha, whose preoccupation with domestic chores contrasted with the attention paid by her sister Mary to Jesus’s words, the House was overly concerned with bills of grace, whereas the bill against impositions was ‘the chief thing to be regarded’, for everyone was affected by impositions. Though his choice of scriptural simile apparently provoked laughter, Whitson declared himself ‘ready to weep’. Like many Members, he regarded impositions as illegal, and though he conceded that Edward III had once obtained a temporary grant of them on wool, he pointed out that Edward would not have made such a request ‘if by law he might have done it’. However, unlike most Members, Whitson accepted that the king would not surrender impositions without compensation. Indeed, on 3 June, he proposed that a committee be established to consider how to approach James about buying them out.60 Consequently, his earlier suggestion, that it was preferable to give a subsidy every month than permit impositions to remain, was perhaps not entirely rhetorical.61 It is true that, on the final day of the Parliament (7 June), Whitson declared that he neither supported nor opposed a grant of subsidies, but this was probably because four days earlier James had made supply a condition of continuing the Parliament rather than the basis for negotiation over impositions. Yet if Whitson showed a rare willingness to compound with the king, he nonetheless objected, on 5 May, to the proposal that the conference on impositions, to which he was named, should be held in James’s presence, ‘for if he present, none dare reply’.62

Impositions were not Whitson’s sole concern during the Parliament. In the debate on the French Company on 3 May, he compared the latter’s patent to ‘the Court of Rome, that would have no sheep come there without his fleece’, by which he meant that those who were unprepared to pay for their admittance were denied entry to the Company.63 That same day he also introduced a bill to enable creditors to recover small debts quickly. It received a second reading eights days later, when it appears to have been in some danger, but it was committed after Whitson announced that he would not ‘suffer his bill to be rejected without speaking one word for it, as a learned serjeant of this House did’. When the measure was reported on 19 May, Whitson again pressed his case, drawing attention to a suit which had been referred from one court to another on no less than seven occasions and claiming that this illustrated why his bill was needed. On 31 May he introduced a further bill to abolish the duty on imported corn. 64 Following the king’s threat of 3 June to dissolve Parliament, Whitson announced ‘that they that dissuaded a Parliament will do the best they can to dissolve it’.65 Outside Parliament, Whitson and his fellow Bristol Member, Thomas James, continued to oppose purveyance on behalf of their constituents, receiving instructions from the city’s corporation in mid-April to petition the Treasury commissioners for payment for wine taken up by the royal Household.66

In December 1614 Whitson and four other leading Bristol Merchant Venturers were licensed to export 1,000 calfskins yearly for 40 years at preferential rates.67 A few years later he was forced into a conflict over aldermanic precedence with Thomas James, which was eventually resolved in his favour.68 Although not re-elected as mayor of Bristol in 1614, despite nomination,69 he served a second term as mayor in 1615-16, and continued to act as one of the town’s most important lobbyists. When, in 1617, the Levant Company obtained an order from the lord treasurer requiring Bristol’s merchants to cease trading with the Middle East in order to protect their monopoly rights, it was Whitson who wrote to the Company and helped to represent the city’s views in London. In the following year he and Alderman John Barker* unsuccessfully tried to resist pressure from the Privy Council to pay for the right to import currants.70 Whitson also represented Bristol at the Council table regarding its contribution towards the cost of the intended expedition against the Algerian pirates in 1620.71 That same year he was allowed £10 by the corporation towards the cost of entertaining the chief baron of the Exchequer, (Sir) Lawrence Tanfield*.72

Following the death of his second wife in September 1615, Whitson married Rachel Aubrey, the widow of a Herefordshire gentleman, who evidently brought with her a handsome dowry. Elected to Parliament for a third time in 1620, Whitson and his colleague John Guy took up lodgings at the Three Cups in Bread Street, an inn already familiar to Whitson from a previous visit to London and situated near the Bread Street residence of his London agent, the Salter Ellis Crispe, whom Whitson had known for roughly 40 years.73 They were instructed by Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers to secure parliamentary confirmation of its charters ‘for the better ordering of traffic and merchandizing’, and paid £40 to that end, but though Bristol’s corporation authorized them to confer a hogshead of wine on the Speaker at their discretion no bill was introduced.74 Instead, on 8 Feb. 1621 Whitson brought in a bill to improve the quality of woollen cards, which were used in the manufacture of cloth. Damned by one Member at its first reading (13 Feb.) as ‘an idle bill, tending to a monopoly’, it was defended by Whitson, who traded in cloth. He pointed out that cards, which were made with old wire, had previously lasted for 10 weeks each, whereas ‘now they serve not three weeks’. At the second reading on 10 Mar. he also observed that the Dutch were importing large quantities of old wire, to the detriment of the poor workers who relied on wire manufacture for their employment, and that old wire was being scoured and sold as new. However, though committed, the measure failed to reach the statute book.75 Many of Whitson’s other speeches during the 1621 Parliament also concerned trade, a subject in which his interests and those of his constituents frequently overlapped. When Whitson argued during the debate on the free trade bill on 28 Apr. that chartered Companies ‘should not restrain others’, he not only expressed the concern of his constituents, who were now compelled to compound for the right to trade with the Levant, but his own interests as an importer of currants.76 Likewise, on hearing the monopolies bill reported (20 Mar.) he sought to defend the export of calfskins because it formed a large part of both his own and Bristol’s trade.77

Like most outport merchants, Whitson advocated free trade, but only when it suited him. Speaking on 8 Mar., he opposed a measure designed to prohibit the import of corn, urging that its passage was not in the interests of free trade, but two days later he opposed a bill intended to suppress a patent which hindered free trade in Welsh butter as he had apparently obtained a share in the patent himself.78 His attitude towards proposed free trade legislation was discriminating in other respects too. On 2 Mar. he disputed the need for a bill to permit free trade in the purchase of Welsh cloth, which trade in theory was monopolized by the drapers of Shropshire, arguing ‘that all, besides London, are not restrained; for he hath ever had power to carry these commodities’.79

As an occasional moneylender, Whitson naturally opposed the usury bill, which sought to impose an eight per cent ceiling on interest rates, arguing that ‘none can judge of eight per cent’ (7 May).80 Two days later his experience of trading to Ireland led him to complain of the law that prevented merchants from taking with them more than 6s. 8d. each. Those buying goods in Ireland were thereby forced ‘to lose £30 in the 100’.81 Other trade bills in which Whitson expressed an opinion included a measure to abolish payment of tithe by fishermen, which he supported on the grounds that other mariners, ‘who make better voyages’, were already exempt (1 Mar.), and a bill against the export of iron ordnance, which he tried to amend, saying that such exports were economically vital (14 May).82

In the supply committee (15 Feb.) Whitson supported a vote of two subsidies.83 Two days later, in a debate on recusancy fines, he proposed that Catholics should be ‘taken in their own deceit’, and allowed to keep only ‘what they say their estates to be, and that the king should have the rest’.84 On 1 May he eagerly joined in the calls to inflict savage punishment on the Catholic lawyer Edward Floyd, who had insulted he king’s daughter, by urging that Floyd be whipped, and have hot bacon dropped on him every six lashes.85 On 24 Apr. he was named to a committee to draft three bills concerning the regulation of inns, the price of horsemeat and the clerk of the market. His interest in hostelries may have been personal, for in 1615 he had had been refused permission to convert a house in Bewdley, Worcestershire, into a tavern.86 His other appointments were to consider bills to restrain the abuses connected with levying the king’s debts (6 Mar.), to naturalize the financier Philip Burlamachi (19 Mar.), with whom he subsequently had business dealings, and to improve the quality of cloth manufacture (12 May).87 His wages and charges for this Parliament amounted to £61 1s.88

During the summer recess Whitson returned to Bristol, where he was visited by one Richard Croshawe, who had obtained from John Mayle a half share in the farm of the duties on sweet wines collected in the western ports. Croshawe persuaded Whitson to pay him part of the rent owed to Mayle, but the latter had not agreed to this arrangement and subsequently refused to allow Whitson the £262 10s. paid to Croshawe on his accounts. Mayle also threatened to confiscate a bond for £3,000 entered into earlier by Whitson as a guarantee of payment of his rent. Unwilling to pay Croshawe an additional £687 10s. without Mayle’s written authorization, Whitson subsequently found himself prosecuted in the Exchequer by Croshawe, whom he described as his ‘mighty adversary’. The suit, which Whitson complained was ‘long, tedious and chargeable’, was only brought to a conclusion in February 1625, when the court ruled in Croshawe’s favour but ordered Mayle to surrender Whitson’s bond.89

Whitson was replaced by John Barker in the 1624 Parliament, but was re-elected to serve Bristol in 1625. During the Westminster sitting he agreed with the proposal for a general fast made on 21 June, and two days later, in committee, he again brought forward his scheme ‘whereby the king may be righted upon recusants’, whom he said were ‘exceedingly under-valued’.90 After the removal to Oxford, when the corporation required him to confer with the earl of Arundel and lord treasurer Marlborough (Sir James Ley*) concerning terms for granting a lease of Bristol Castle, he produced two letters on piracy, but took no ascertainable part in the ensuing debate.91 He was paid £12 ‘in part of his charges’ later that year and a further £12 17s. 7d. in 1626 ‘in full payment of his bill of charges’.92 Re-elected in 1626, he was among those appointed to consider the proposal made by Sir Dudley Digges* for financing the war at sea by a voluntary joint stock Company (14 March). His legislative interests comprised the Charterhouse bill (11 Feb.), urban escheats (3 May) and the subscription bill (6 May).93 On 20 Feb. he complained that more than half the purchase price of a tun of wine was paid to the king in impositions. In a subsidy debate on 27 Mar. he bemoaned Bristol’s loss of 89 ships, but expressed himself willing to vote three subsidies and, unusually, one fifteenth.94 He was absent from a call of the House on 2 June, but avoided payment of the fine of £10 on supplying an explanation eight days later.95 Although he was named to just four committees, Bristol was satisfied with his attendance, paying him £6 travelling expenses, £29 wages and £1 6s. 8d. ‘for carriage of his trunks’.96

It was apparently later in 1626 that Whitson, ‘long since cloyed with the tedious vanities of this life’, wrote The Aged Christian’s Final Farewell to the World, first published in 1829. Condemning as ‘the idols of earthly minds’ the amassing of ‘riches, wealth and large endowments’, he also had nothing but bitter memories of his Commons career:

I have been a representative Member in many parliaments, where I daily learned new lessons of the world’s vanity, and augmented my grief together with my experience. More expressly at a late meeting, when both the honourable Houses were unexpectedly, unfortunately, and very suddenly dissolved; much time being spent, and nothing done, to the world’s wonder, and to the exceeding grief and discontent of all true-hearted subjects.

Hoping that God would ‘grant me a quiet and peaceable passage’ rather than a slow death from disease or ‘any violent casualty’, his prayers were seemingly answered on 7 Nov. when he escaped fatal injury at the hands of a disgruntled litigant, who stabbed him through the nose and lip.97

During the summer of 1627 Whitson was directed to assist Sir John Drake* compile accounts concerning the collection of prize tenths for submission to the duke of Buckingham’s commissioners and to help supply two naval warships at Bristol with ironwork and other materials on behalf of the Ordnance Office.98 At the next parliamentary election for Bristol he was again replaced by John Barker. He died on 27 Feb. 1629 after falling from his horse, ‘his head pitching on a nail that stood on its head by a smith’s shop’.99 Though he had ordered a funeral without ‘superfluous charge or pomp’, he was buried on 9 Mar. in his local church of St. Nicholas, Bristol at a cost of over £400. The mourners included the local trained band, whose musketeers fired three volleys in salute over the body of their former captain as it was laid to rest.100

By the terms of his will, drawn up in March 1627, Whitson provided for his third wife Rachel, whom he appointed as his executrix, but having no surviving children he left much of his estate to charity, according to a settlement made in 1622. The fact that all three of his own children had been girls, and that one of them had died in childbirth, appears to have strongly influenced the nature of two of his bequests. In the first case he left £90 p.a., assigned from the revenues of the Somerset manor of Burnett, which he had acquired in 1599 from a relative of his first wife’s first husband, to provide a home for 40 poor girls, who were to be taught to read English and sew by a female tutor at what became the Red Maids School. In the other he bequeathed £20 p.a., to be distributed equally among 20 poor women of Bristol ‘lying in childbed’. Among the remainder of his bequests, Whitson ordered that £500 was to be lent to five young freemen of Bristol, ‘being mere merchants’, and 20 poor Bristol tradesmen. He also arranged for two annual sermons to be delivered in St. Nicholas, one of them on the anniversary of the attempt on his life. Of the residue of his estate, which he estimated would amount to £3,000, two-thirds was to be employed by Bristol’s corporation as they, his widow and overseers should think fit. The remaining third was to be divided between his sisters and their children.101 This division of her husband’s wealth evidently annoyed Rachel, who was later accused of failing to distribute legacies in accordance with the terms of the will.102

At his death Whitson held property in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Worcestershire, as well as Bristol. An inventory taken on 1 June 1629 at his house in Bristol found that, besides books, some of which were in Latin and one in Spanish, his estate was worth more than £5,400, not counting £3,000 in ‘debts desperate’ but including £505 ‘in adventures at sea’, £1,123 ‘in debts due by bills and books for iron’ and £800 in cash.103 The accuracy of this valuation was subsequently challenged, however, when it was revealed that the contents of three other properties, including Burnett house, had been omitted.104 The culprit was undoubtedly Rachel who, in addition to refusing to hand over parts of her late husband’s estate, sued 17 sets of creditors for debt, even though Whitson had apparently urged her ‘to be merciful towards those of his debtors which were poor and needy, as she hoped for mercy’.105 No other member of Whitson’s family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Andrew Thrush


Merchants and Merchandise ed. P. McGrath (Bristol Rec. Soc. xix), 103.

  • 1. J. Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 299; STAC 8/292/10. The monument erected to Whitson in 1741 suggests a birth-date of c.1558: I.M. Roper, ‘Effigies of Bristol’, Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvii. 87.
  • 2. P. McGrath, John Whitson and the Merchant Community of Bristol, (Hist. Assoc. Bristol 1970), pp. 7, 9-10, 13-14, 19; W. Leighton, ‘Manor of Burnett’, Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lix. 264; C2/Chas.I/M32/24; C21/B17/2.
  • 3. C142/537/68.
  • 4. McGrath, John Whitson, 9.
  • 5. Ordinances of Bristol ed. M. Stanford (Bristol Rec. Soc. xli), 88.
  • 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 167.
  • 7. Ordinances of Bristol, 103, 105.
  • 8. A.B. Beaven, Bristol Lists, 313.
  • 9. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1598-1608, pp. 52, 86; 1608-27, ff. 20v, 62v, 115, 131.
  • 10. Beaven, 313.
  • 11. CJ, i. 185b; W. Adams, Chronicle of Bristol, 204.
  • 12. C181/1, f. 92.
  • 13. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20, 23; E115/94/102.
  • 14. SP14/43/107.
  • 15. C193/6/220-1.
  • 16. APC, 1627, p. 87.
  • 17. Cal. Bristol Charters comp. J. Latimer, 152.
  • 18. City Chamberlains’ Accts. ed. D.M. Livock (Bristol Rec. Soc. xxiv), 148-9, 160-2.
  • 19. Adams, 223.
  • 20. P. McGrath, Merchant Venturers of Bristol, 19n.
  • 21. Recs. relating to Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol ed. P. McGrath (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvii), 6, 54; J. Latimer, Hist. of Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, 66, 326.
  • 22. Spanish Co. ed. P. Croft (London Rec. Soc. lx), xliii. 101.
  • 23. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, ii. 20.
  • 24. E112/119/416.
  • 25. For his interest in falconry, see Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2) ed. A.B. Grosart, i. 231; J. Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 298.
  • 26. Aubrey, ii. 297; McGrath, Whitson, 6; PROB 11/156, f. 98.
  • 27. BL, RP 3261; E190/1131/12, ff. 4v-6, 8v, 10, 34-5; 190/1132/7, ff. 6v, 7, 12v-13v, 15; 190/1132/8, ff. 5, 6v, 12r-v; SP46/22, ff. 65r-v, 130-1v, 135-7v; C2/Jas.I/W30/21; E112/119/420; McGrath, Whitson, 11.
  • 28. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2), i. 117-18.
  • 29. Whitson is unmentioned in the list of owners recorded in 1629; see P. McGrath, ‘Merchant Venturers and Bristol Shipping’, Mariners’ Mirror, xxxvi. 79-80.
  • 30. McGrath, Whitson, 10.
  • 31. H.A. Nicolle, ‘Anglo-French Trade, 1540-1640’, (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1976), p. 239.
  • 32. E134/2Jas.I/Hil.12. See also E123/29, ff. 277v, 282, 305.
  • 33. C2/Chas.I/S108/32.
  • 34. C2/Chas.I/T45/54; McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 83, 88.
  • 35. Docs. Illustrating Overseas Trade at Bristol ed. J. Vanes (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxxi), 56-7.
  • 36. E126/2, f. 288r-v. He had been accused of non-payment as early as 1608: E112/117/297.
  • 37. McGrath, Whitson, 10.
  • 38. Ordinances of Bristol, 90, 94, 103.
  • 39. The English New Eng. Voyages ed. D.B. and A.M. Quinn (Hakluyt Soc. ser. 2. clxi), 212, 219n, 229.
  • 40. CJ, i. 185b.
  • 41. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1598-1608, p. 93.
  • 42. CJ, i. 265a, 297a, 304a, 310a-b.
  • 43. Bristol RO, mayor’s audit bk. 1605-9, p. 152.
  • 44. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1598-1608, p. 124.
  • 45. STAC 8/292/10, article 35 of the interrogatories.
  • 46. Bristol RO, mayor’s audit bk. 1605-9, p. 156; CJ, i. 330b, 1006b.
  • 47. CJ, i. 329a, 366a, 374a.
  • 48. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1598-1608, pp. 132, 135.
  • 49. C2/Chas.I/M32/24; Aubrey, ii. 297.
  • 50. C2/Jas.I/W30/21.
  • 51. HMC Hatfield, xxi. 169.
  • 52. CJ, i. 397b, 399a, 440b, 442b, 444a.
  • 53. Recs. relating to the Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, 235.
  • 54. CJ, i. 402a.
  • 55. Ibid. 448b; CD 1621, ii. 88.
  • 56. Recs. relating to the Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, 208; Bristol RO, mayor’s audit bk. 1610-13, pp. 33, 86.
  • 57. E112/119/416.
  • 58. SP14/66/73; Recs. relating to the Soc. of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, 237.
  • 59. SP14/68/87.
  • 60. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 97, 415, 421.
  • 61. Ibid. 97; Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 69; C. Russell, Addled Parl.: The Limits of Revision, 7.
  • 62. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 151.
  • 63. Ibid. 129.
  • 64. Ibid. 127, 206, 290, 396.
  • 65. Ibid. 415.
  • 66. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1608-27, f. 45v.
  • 67. C66/2033/1.
  • 68. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1608-27, f. 65v; Adams, 204-5.
  • 69. Bristol RO, common council procs. 1608-27, f. 49.
  • 70. SP105/147, f. 90r-v; McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 213-14.
  • 71. APC, 1619-21, p. 250; McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 179-81.
  • 72. Bristol RO, mayor’s audit bk. 1620-4, p. 36.
  • 73. McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 11, 214-15. For Crispe’s association with Whitson, see E133/135/14.
  • 74. McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 9, 11-12; Bristol RO, common council procs. 1608-27, f. 95.
  • 75. CD 1621, ii. 68; iv. 45, 141; CJ, i. 513a, 548a, 630a.
  • 76. CD 1621, v. 109.
  • 77. CJ, i. 564a. For the importance of calfskin exports to Bristol, see HMC Hatfield, xxi. 123.
  • 78. CJ, i. 549a; CD 1621, iv. 142; v. 270.
  • 79. CJ, i. 534b. For the bill, see CD 1621, vi. 70-2.
  • 80. CD, 1621, iii. 184.
  • 81. Ibid. ii. 357.
  • 82. CJ, i. 533a; CD 1621, iii. 252.
  • 83. CD 1621, ii. 88.
  • 84. Ibid. iv. 67; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 56.
  • 85. CD 1621, iii. 123.
  • 86. CJ, i. 590a; Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OEt66.
  • 87. CJ, i. 540a, 562b, 619a; HMC Cowper, i. 332.
  • 88. Bristol RO, mayors’ audit bk. 1620-4, pp. 110, 193.
  • 89. E112/119/416, 420; 126/3, ff. 41v-3v; 133/135/14; McGrath, Merchant Venturers, 169.
  • 90. Procs. 1625, pp. 204, 232, 457.
  • 91. Ibid. 457; Bristol RO, common council procs. 1608-27, f. 128.
  • 92. Bristol RO, mayors’ audit bk. 1625-9, pp. 41, 94.
  • 93. CJ, i. 818a, 836a, 853b, 856a.
  • 94. Procs. 1626, ii. 76, 379.
  • 95. Ibid. iii. 415.
  • 96. Bristol RO, mayor’s audit bk. 1625-9, p. 110.
  • 97. J. Whitson, A Pious Meditation (1829), pp. 7, 10, 19, 24; PROB 11/156, f. 100v; McGrath, Whitson, 17.
  • 98. Bodl. Eng. Misc. C208, ff. 171v-2; Harl. 429, f. 24v.
  • 99. Aubrey, ii. 299.
  • 100. Adams, 223; Leighton, 258. Robert Morgan, Whitson’s former apprentice, said the funeral cost £377: C21/B17/2.
  • 101. PROB 11/156, ff. 96-101v.
  • 102. C21/B66/4.
  • 103. Merchants and Merchandise, 81, 88-9.
  • 104. C21/B17/2; 21/B18/21.
  • 105. C21/B17/2.