The strategic use of kinship in creating a social or political alliance in the Anglo-Norman realm shows the deliberate and ongoing construction of networks that provide practical support for each other locally and beyond. These networks were often created through marriage, in localities endogamous marriages built cohesive networks that could act together when necessary. The events of 1066 disrupted these networks, as neighbours in Normandy were not necessarily neighbours in England. The extended Tosny kin-group was a political and social entity before and after the Conquest, and a force that was subsequently involved in both local and royal politics on both sides of the Channel.
Bristol and Ireland were trading partners throughout the middle ages especially during the 15th century. This paper will begin by examining the goods that were traded and the resulting patterns of ship usage. From this point, the paper will develop the concept of social contacts and will concentrate on those merchants involved in the Bristol-Ireland trade. Who were these men (and a few women)? Did they participate in local government? Did they trade elsewhere? What do their wills tell us about their social networks? Using Bristol custom accounts, wills, and early chancery proceedings, this paper will attempt to answer these questions.