James Cox - Bristol Channel Pilot

I am grateful to Grahame Farr for some of this detail as set out in his book of 1954, Somerset Harbours.

Pilots have always been necessary to guide shipping into any port, Bristol, Cardiff, Bridgwater and other smaller ports in the Bristol Channel were no exception and some of the earliest can be found in the records of the Society of Merchant Ventures. James was one such being officially licensed as opposed to some others who were known as "Yaulers" who although being unlicensed, were called upon when no licensed pilot was available, the assistants were known as "Westernmen." Many pilots lived at Pill on the North Somerset coast and were very often called to seaports further south.


James received his certificate or "Branch" on 3rd August 1831. These were known as Branch Pilots which term has not been readily recognised by some researchers, appearing to be somewhat ambiguous! - All pilots kept a book in which their tasks undertaken in the course of his duty were recorded, one of which I which copy below:

August 8th, the Brig Emma, 139 tons to James Cox Pilot

To my Pilotage from Minehead to Kingroad            1    8s    0d

To my Pilotage from Kingroad to the Bason                   15s  0d

To 1 Yaul and 5 men from Kingroad to the Bason   1      1s   9d

To 2 Horses and 1 driver                                                   11s  0d

To Allowances of Beer                                                         2s  5d

To Haven Master's Fee                                                        1s   0d

                                                                                  3      19s   2d


The BASON referred to above would have at Bristol docking area

KINGROAD is a roadstead at the mutual boundary of Somerset and Gloucestershire; in the Bristol Channel, of the mouth of the river Avon.

ROAD in this context indicates a marine highway known as KING.