This collection contains financial records related to the mercantile interests of Henry, Richard, and Lowbridge Bright, who owned several ships that made trading voyages between Bristol, England, and the Caribbean in the late 18th century. Accounts cover prizes taken by the Tryall during the Seven Years' War, as well as transatlantic trade between Bristol and several Caribbean islands, primarily Jamaica.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Bright Shipping Account Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Henry Bright was born to a wealthy family in Worcestershire, England, on March 21, 1715, and at the age of 15 moved to Bristol, where he completed a business apprenticeship with Richard Meyler. In the late 1730s, he and Meyler started a shipping business, focusing on trade with the Caribbean; during this time, he lived in Jamaica while working as an agent for the firm. In 1746, he returned to Bristol temporarily and married Sarah Meyler (1720-1769), with whom he had one son, Richard. After a brief return to Jamaica between 1748 and 1751, he remained in Bristol, where he continued to be active in the mercantile and slave trades between Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. He earned additional profits from investing in privateers during the Seven Years' War. Upon his retirement in 1775, he placed his son Richard and nephew Lowbridge in charge of the family's mercantile interests, which continued successfully into the 19th century. He died on November 25, 1777.
Collection Scope and Content Note
This collection contains financial records related to the mercantile interests of Henry, Richard, and Lowbridge Bright, who owned several ships trading between Bristol, England, and the Caribbean in the late 18th century. Volume 1 (approximately 88 pages) consists of accounts related to six prizes captured by the Tryall under Captains George Burford and James McTaggart between 1757 and 1758, including wages paid to the ship's crew and money received as the prizes' goods went to auction; along with the seamen, investors Henry Bright and Richard Meyler also received a share of the profit. In addition to wage payouts, the book notes the cargo of the captured ships, and lists buyers and prices for the goods, which included foodstuffs, soap, oil, clothing, and a variety of other items. Expenses are also occasionally recorded, such as the cost of housing prisoners.
The captured ships were as follows:
La Bellona , captured from France on April 28, 1757
Cockermouth , re-captured from France on May 24, 1757
La Mutine , captured from France on June 17, 1757
Middenhoek , captured from the Netherlands on September 20, 1758
Juffron Maria , captured from the Denmark on October 1758
[Swimmer] , captured from the Netherlands on October 21, 1758
Records for the final three ships are brief and do not make note of receipts from auction sales of individual items.
Volume 2 (approximately 112 pages) contains invoices for goods shipped onboard several of the Brights' sailing ships between Bristol, Nevis, St. Vincent, Jamaica, and Ireland. The accounts, compiled between October 8, 1772, and May 4, 1775, cover the final years of Henry Bright's operations, and additional later records (May 25, 1780-May 1, 1789) reflect the financial affairs of his heirs, Lowbridge & Richard Bright. Most of the records are invoices that primarily pertain to shipments from Bristol to the Caribbean, and include the names of agents who would sell the goods locally. The Brights sent a variety of nonperishable goods across the Atlantic, frequently consisting of items made of iron and other manufactures not yet prevalent in the Americas. Along with nails, pans, and other necessary items were less traditional items such as rat traps and parrot cages. Another common cargo load was limestone. Though several westward trips included shipments of cheese, most of the foodstuffs handled by the firm originated in the Caribbean and were sent to Europe; later records indicate that the company sent shipments of sugar and rum to Cork and Dublin, Ireland. The later records, belonging to Lowbridge & Richard Bright, are more general, and most frequently include a summary of the total value of goods shipped rather than the detailed invoices.
Volume 3 (approximately 124 pages) contains financial records and documents for Lowbridge & Richard Bright and for Bush & Elton, including correspondence with their captains regarding assignments. Limestone and other general provisions appear most frequently in the book's detailed outgoing invoices, and sugar, rum, and other local spices and products from various Caribbean islands appear on invoices for return ships. Additional invoices detail wages paid to laborers prior to each voyage, and several contain lists of provisions taken onboard in addition to cargo. Many of the accounts relate to the firm Bright, Milward & Duncomb.
This volume holds records for the following ships:
Kingston Packett , Captain William Mattocks, March 23, 1775-January 30, 1778
Industry , Captains Thomas Powell, William Ball, James Henderson, and John Honeywell, December 9, 1780-June 26, 1787
Severn , Captain James Henderson, March 5, 1777
Volume 4 (approximately 43 pages) consists of records for the Union , owned by Lowbridge & Richard Bright and by Davis & Protheroe, covering May 15, 1778-January 1, 1809. In addition to correspondence containing Captain John Henderson's orders, the ship's owners provided a list of friendly agents at a number of ports, to use in case of an emergency on the way to Jamaica. This volume also records wages paid to various laborers and sailors, as well as invoices and lists of provisions. Though the accounts cover only two voyages, undertaken in 1778 and 1779, financial settlements continued until 1809.
Caribbean Area--Commerce--Great Britain.
Great Britain--Commerce--Caribbean Area.
Great Britain--Commerce--Early works to 1800.
Prizes (Property captured at sea)--Great Britain.
Seven Years' War, 1756-1763--Prizes, etc.
Container / Location
Tryall prize accounts, April 28, 1757-October 21, 1758
Henry Bright and Lowbridge & Richard Bright accounts, October 8, 1772-May 1, 1789
Lowbridge & Richard Bright accounts, March 23, 1775-June 26, 1787
Union records, May 15, 1778-January 1, 1809
Additional Descriptive Data
List of ships and captains covered in Volume 2
Nevis Planter , Henry Webb
Ruby , James Henderson
Pembroke , Philip Steevens
William , John Loraine
William and Mary , John Veysey
Pitt , William Gardner
Neptune , Henry Forrest
Kingston Packett , William Mattocks
Ann , Robert Hutchins
Mercury , William Seaton
Commerce , Nathaniel Wilson
Hanover Planter , William Harris
John , Benjamin Stokes
Milford , Richard Shaw
Bristol Packet , John Forristal
Rebecca , George Stott
Campbell , John Sutherland
Success , William Batt
Brittania , John Shaw
Juno , Samuel Williams
Bella , John Baker
Morgan, Kenneth. "Bright, Henry (1715-1777)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Oxford University Press, 2008.