The port of London in the fourteenth century : its topography, administration, and trade
The port of London in the 14th century accommodated a wide range of activities and interests, several important aspects of which are considered here.The first part of the thesis looks successively at the general topography of the port, at the authorities which administered it, and at trade and shipping in London. It is clear that the port was effectively only the city waterfront, but within this stretch were several areas with different characteristics. Certain well-established 'ports' or inlets for general merchandise, especially victuals, contrasted with areas where there was little or no mercantile activity, and with areas like the Vintry and the Wool Wharf where major overseas trades were located. Waterfront structures were very varied in type and use. Both the City and the Crown exercised jurisdiction in the port. The City collected local customs and legislated to preserve the port's facilities and control wholesale and retail trade. The royal Customs accounts provide information for the operation of that system, which had some shortcomings, and also for trade itself, showing the range of London's trading contacts, and changes in the major trades in wool, woollen cloth, and wine. Ships of widely differing sizes, types, and origins visited London, and an estimate of the annual volume of shipping is made. Ownership and contractual arrangements are considered. The second part of the thesis returns to more detailed examination of the topography of the waterfront, in gazetteer form. The first attempt to study such a large area of the City through topographical reconstruction, it shows,through brief accounts of all the properties to the south of Thames Street, what the area was like in physical terms, and who owned it, aspects which were clearly related to the way in which the waterfront was used.