Catalogue description Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Port Books

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Details of E 190
Reference: E 190
Title: Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Port Books

The records in this series resulted from an Exchequer Order of November 1564 requiring all customs officials in the various ports of England and Wales thenceforth to make their entries in blank books issued by the Exchequer.

The books are of three kinds:

  • Entry books of the collectors and other officials, recording the details of cockets issued as receipts for the payment of the various duties on imports and exports;
  • Entry books of searchers, waiters and other officials who were concerned with shipping movements and the inspection of cargoes, not with the collection of duties; and
  • Coasting books, which record the issue and return of certificates for the transit of goods by coast from one English port to another. The certificate stated that the shipper had entered into bonds to unlade only at another port within the realm.

Each entry in a Port Book generally contains:

  • the name of the ship and its master;
  • the names of the merchants (sometimes giving the merchant's mark) and whether they were aliens;
  • date on which duty was paid (not the date of arrival or unloading);
  • a description of their goods;
  • the amount of duties paid (in the entry books of the collectors);
  • the ship's destination or port to which it was sailing next.

After 1600 few books omit details of the places to and from which shipments were made.

Before 1600 many entries in the port books are in Latin. By 1660 most are in English.

Date: 1565-1798

Lesser ports, sometimes known as 'creeks' or 'havens', were grouped together under 'head ports'. Therefore Liverpool, Beaumaris and Conway, for instance, came under the head port of Chester. The arrangement of the series largely reflects this grouping into head ports. Note that the individual catalogue descripions include the name of the relevant head port as well as the name of the member port where the goods actually arrived or departed. For example, if the description states: 'THE PORT OF CHESTER. Port: Beaumaris', the returns will relate to Beaumaris only, not to Chester itself.

Related material:

See also the Mainland English, Scottish and Irish Outport records: Division within CUST

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 1553 bundle(s)

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