Tobacco Pipes in Ireland

The following typescript with handwritten annotations was found among R.J. Hunter’s unpublished notes and is now in PRONI (D4446/A/1/44).

Tobacco pipes in Ireland in the reign of James I

The Study of Irish trade in the early seventeenth century is greatly hampered by the scarcity of relevant source materials, However, a unique group of port books for. Ulster ports for the years 1612-151 (which for the most part only specify goods in detail for the year Michaelmas 1614 to Michaelmas 1615), yields, when correlated with English port books,2 detailed evidence of Ulster trade shortly after the British colony there had been established. For any more extended period or for the rest of Ireland non-Irish port books have to be used.

This brief note indicates the dimensions of recorded tobacco pipe imports into three Ulster ports. The evidence supplied for the other towns was noted from English port books being searched for another purpose. The table shows ports of arrival and departure with the dates of entry inwards and outwards where available and also the quantities involved. However, port books often use general terms such as ‘and other small necessaries’ which may make them unreliable for the statistical treatment of such commodities as tobacco pipes.

Londonderry 10July 1615 9 gross London, Ap.-May 16153
Coleraine 29 July 1615 2 gross London, Ap.-May 16154
Carrickfergus 6 Nov. 1614 4 dozen Beaumaris, 20 Oct. 16145
Carrickfergus 2 June 1615 4 gross Barnstable, 22 May 16156
Dublin 4 gross London 12 Sept. 16127
Dublin ½ gross Chester, 12 Dec. 16148
Cork 2 gross Bristol, 1 Dec. 16129
Baltimore 1 gross London, 12 Aug. 161510

The quantities of tobacco entering Ulster ports in these years were also small, by far the largest consignment being one of 50 lbs. which arrived in Londonderry, on the Daniel of Leith in May 1615.11 Nonetheless the fact that William Temple, provost of Trinity College, Dublin, issued a statute, c. 1613, forbidding the use of tobacco there,12 suggests that the habit was becoming fashionable. An impost on tobacco pipes and tobacco imported into Ireland was established in 1614.13 The impression left, however, by the English port books14 that exports of tobacco from England to Ireland had probably greatly increased by the 1630s. This may also be true of direct imports.

The only historical evidence for the manufacture of tobacco pipes in Ireland in this period appears to consist in a license in 1617 to J. Coker of Dublin to manufacture and sell tobacco pipes for twenty-one years at a rent of £10.15 It is possible that he did indeed engage in pipe making and if so internal trade facilities were such that they could have received a wide distribution.

1. Leeds Public Library (now West Yorkshire Archive Service), TN/P07/1/1a – 4d.

2. Public Record Office, London (now The National Archives), E190, passim. The equivalent Scottish sources, customs books (Scottish Record Office, Edinburgh  (now the National Archives of Scotland),, E71), survive in smaller quantities for this period. I hope to examine later in greater detail the points tentatively approached here for all of Ireland in the first half of the seventeenth century.

3. Leeds Public Library, TN/P07/1/4d, ingates 10 July 1615; P.R.O., E190/19/1, ff. 24-39.

4. Leeds Public Library, TN/P07/1/lc, ingates 29 July 1615; P.R.O., E190/19/1, as above This was the same ship.

5. Leeds Public Library,. TN/P07/1/3, ingates 6 Nov. 1614.; P.R.O., E190/1330/13, outwards 20 Oct. 1614.

6. Leeds Public Library, TN/P07/1/3, in 12 June 1615; P.R. 0., E190/94.2/13, f.5.

7. P.R.O., E190/16/2, f.81.

8. P.R.O., E190/1330/11, ff.38v, 39v.

9. P.R.O., E190/1133/12, ff. 44-4v.

10. P.R.O., E190/19/1, f.66v.

11. Leeds Public Library, TN/P07/i/4.d, ingates 19 May 1615. The port of departure has not been established.

12. J.P. Mahaffy, An epoch in Irish history (London, 1903), p. 162.

13. Calendar of the patent rolls, Ireland, James I, p. 276, see also p. 513; Calendar of state papers Ireland, 1611-14, p. 530, see also Cal. S.P. Ire., 1615-25, p. 316.

14. For example P.R.O., E190/1334/f.15v (Chester, 1632).

15. Cal. pat. rolls Ire., Jas. I, p. 342.

Cork, from Barnstable  3½ gross,  12 Sept. 1615 (E190/942/13, f.8)
Dublin, from Chester  2 gross, ?3 Oct. 1614 (E190/1330/11, f 31v)
Dublin, from Chester ½ gross, 15 March 1615 (E190/1330/14, f 14v)
Dublin, from Chester 2 doy.,  part of ‘provision’ entry of Richard Parrincheefe of London, miht ? 29 June 1615 (E190/1330/14, F 24V)
Derry, from Chester  2 gross, part of ‘provision’ entry 30 June 1615 (E190/1330/14, f. 25)