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Maritime Kent
Frederick Nash (1782-1856), 'Rochester Cathedral and Castle',
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Kent's Maritime Communities and their European Neighbours: Connections and Relations Across the Narrow Seas, c.1450-c.1650

Welcome to the website for a project that focuses on Kent's maritime history and its place within the geopolitics of Europe. The project's key aims are to investigate the growth and development of Kent's merchant fleet, examine the key commodities traded from and into the county's ports, and examine its coastal communities.

Led by Professor Craig Lambert from the University of Southampton, 'Maritime Kent' will undertake an investigation of records relating to Kent's nautical past, including port books which record seaborne trade entering and leaving the county's harbours, muster lists, probate, and a host of civic records held in Kent's local archive. These sources allow us to investigate Kent's merchant fleet and examine the direction, volume, and flow of the county's maritime trade. These documents provide nominal information which can be linked, allowing us to reconstruct the lives of those that lived and worked in Kent's coastal communities.

The project is supported by Co-Investigator Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh (Canterbury Christ Church University), an expert in late medieval history and coastal communities. The project's Research Fellow is Dr Robert Blackmore, who has expertise in late medieval social, political, and economic history. Technical support is provided by the GeoData Institute at the University of Southampton.

The project will showcase a free to access searchable database of Kent's maritime activity. This database will combine the information contained in the port books (the names of Kent's shipmasters, merchants, and the commodities they traded) with lists of people mustered and the weapons they carried, as well as the names of Kent's taxpayers.