The first official reference to Bristol is found on a coin from the time of the Anglo-Saxon king Aethelred II, in the year 911. The name means ‘the settlement by the bridge’. The town, later city, of Bristol developed on the banks of the Rivers Avon and Frome. The port of Bristol was well inland from the sea, but it provided a safe harbour and became a major trading port . At the beginning of the 18th century, Bristol was the second most important port in the country after London, and the third largest city.

This map shows the city of Bristol in 1673, at the beginning of the slave trading period, which continued until the trade was ended in 1834.