"Bristol, city, municipal and parliamentary borough, seaport, and county of itself, chiefly in Gloucestershire but partly in Somerset, at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Frome, 6 miles from the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth and 120 miles west of London by rail, the port being 29 miles from Cardiff, 70 from Swansea, 245 from Dublin, 255 from Cork, and 325 from Liverpool; municipal borough, 4632 acres, population 206,874; parliamentary borough, population 253,906. Bristol is built on a number of eminences, and has a fine appearance. It contains important institutions, religious, educational, and charitable. It has several fine churches, notably the Cathedral (1142-1160), and the church of St Mary Redcliffe. It includes the suburbs of Clifton Down, a magnificent suspension bridge spans the river Avon, having an elevation of 245 ft. above the high water mark. From an early date Bristol has been a seaport of great importance, its position being very favourable to commerce. In the reign of Henry II. it carried on trade with the north of Europe, and between 1239 and 1247 there was occasion for enlarging and improving the accommodation for the shipping. There are now extensive docks, not only within the city itself, but also at Avonmouth on the north side of the mouth of the river, and at Portishead on the south side; both these harbours being in direct communication with the city by railway. The coasting trade is of great magnitude, steamers plying regularly between Bristol and Cardiff, Swansea, London, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, and Glasgow; while the foreign trade extends to nearly all parts of the world. Bristol has manufacturers of glass, soap, and earthenware; shipbuilding, tanning, and sugar-refining; and extensive chemical and engineering works. Bristol returns 4 members to Parliament - 4 divisions, viz., West, North, East, and South, 1 member for each division; the parliamentary limits were extended in 1885 so as to include the local government districts of St George, Horfield, and Stapleton, and an additional part of the parish of Bedminster. It returned 2 members till 1885." [Extract from Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]
This page deals with issues common to the whole of Bristol. For more detail of some of the parishes within Bristol see the links in the list below
Edward III made Bristol a "City and County" in 1373, although today, and in recent times past, it is not generally considered to be both. For genealogical purposes, and specifically in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) the City of Bristol is considered as part of the County of Gloucestershire. In contrast, the postal address prior to 1974, and the creation of the county of Avon was "Bristol, Somerset".
"It has always been a proud place. In 1485 Henry VII visited and the citizens appeared in their best apparel; but the king, thinking their wives too richly dressed for their station, imposed a fine of twenty shillings upon every citizen who was worth £20."
(From the item on Bristol in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary, 1835, very kindly supplied by David Hawgood)
The area today known as "Bristol" is larger than the historic City and County. The City Boundaries now extend as far north as Stoke Gifford and Winterbourne, and to Shirehampton and Henbury in the west.
You can see the administrative areas in which Bristol has been placed at times in the past.
Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
Bristol's Lost Pubs - a very attractive, and easily navigable site dedicated to providing information about public houses that have disappeared from Bristol, with photographs and information gleaned from trade and street directories, &c.