One of Daniel Defoe’s (s.p.b.) earlier publications was an explanation of events leading-up to the Act of Union (England and Scotland), 1707 (see above). Defoe was well versed to write about this as he had been a spy for the English government working in Scotland. He had been accepted into the confidence of members of the Parliament of Scotland because, like them, he supported the Presbyterian form of Christian worship.
(Continued from blog 14) as regards Hull’s overseas trade Defoe records imports of iron, copper, hemp, flax and canvas from the Baltic region, wine, linen, oil and fruit from Holland, France and Spain and tobacco and sugar from the West Indies. ‘But besides all this’ he states the export of corn was greater than any other port but London. It is doubtful that Defoe had statistics to back-up his conclusions but the list of imports and exports and their relative importance is significant.
Of Hull itself Defoe considered it to be ‘close built’ and that fire unchecked could greatly damage the town and port, this somewhat conflicting with earlier descriptions commenting on the use of brick mostly for in-town building.
Like a previous traveller he reports on the Greenlander figure but now in the town-hall, not Trinity House. He writes glowingly of the ‘Exchange’, of the ‘free-school’ (the old Grammar School beside Holy Trinity’s graveyard) Trinity House and the Greenland fishery building, then (1720) defunct.
Finally he writes of the 14 arched bridge and ‘God’s House’, originally Michael de la Pole’s Carthusian monastic complex by then (1720, long after the Reformation) a hostel (‘hospital’, more like a care-home today). Defoe states that the hostel chapel and general building had ‘recently’ been restored and enlarged – these being the buildings as seen today, the chapel open for the annual Heritage Week – but not this year.