Bristol is famous for its role in the tobacco trade: less well known is the part that it played as a major centre for the production of clay pipes. Pipes have been of great use to archaeologists who are attempting to date material that is found on excavations at post-medieval sites. The main reasons for that are:
- pipes were very commonly used from the early 17th century onwards;
- they are easily broken, and when discarded they survive well in the soil;
- their makers often marked them with their name or initials.
For present purposes, the latter point is the most important because it has led a number of people to research the histories of those manufacturers to try to refine the dating evidence. This study of the industry by Roger Price is the largest and most detailed that has yet been undertaken. It has developed far beyond a mere study of the probable dates when any pipemaker was running his business and has evolved into a series of histories which may be of interest to anyone who is researching their own family. The study now runs to more than 5000 pages which set out alphabetically what is known of the people involved in the trade. It is lavishly illustrated with pictures of original records; accompanied by family trees, maps, photos of surviving dwellings, and so on. These are mostly taken from documents and artefacts that are held in the collections of the Bristol Record Office, Bristol Reference Library and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. All sources of information are cited in the text.
Even if you have no reason to suppose that any of your ancestors was ever involved in the pipemaking industry, it is well worth taking a look at it anyway. You never know what you might find!
Please bear in mind that this is a very large publication consisting of 10 PDF files and may take between several minutes and several hours to download, depending on the speed of your internet connection.