Inside the Illicit Economy

Reconstructing the Smugglers' Trade of Sixteenth Century Bristol
Jones, Evan T.
Date published: 
June 2012

Whilst the popular image of smugglers remains an essentially romantic one, this book makes clear that smuggling was a large-scale systematic business reliant upon the connivance of well-connected merchants. Taking the port of Bristol as a case study, it provides the most sophisticated historical study of the smugglers' trade, ever undertaken anywhere in the world. What distinguishes it from previous studies of smuggling is that it uses the business accounts of sixteenth-century merchants to reconstruct their illicit operations. It examines how and why the illicit trade developed, why the Crown was unable to suppress it and the role smuggling played within Bristol's wider economy.