Bristol was a merchant/seafaring town. Its safe harbor made it second only to London as a port. In the late medieval times cloth was the basis of Bristol's Trade. Over the years the cloth textile industry spread out across the Avon into the new industrial suburb of Redcliffe. The looms of weavers converted wool from the surrounding areas into cloth. Fullers pounded it, dyers dipped it and it was hung out to dry on great racks. Then the merchants set out to market it. Their cloth was traded around England, but the truly ambitious set sail for parts unknown to market their goods, sale them, buy more goods and bring those goods back to England for sale. A Merchant could possibly become a wealthy man, if he was willing to take the risk. The risk of pirates, storms and disease. This was not an ordinary merchant. This was the Merchant Adventurer.
Our Merchant Adventure is Walter Chiles. In the High Court of Admiralty Examinations in England No. 301 dated July 24, 1637, Walter gives his age of 29 which would make his birth year approximately 1608 and his occupation was a cloth worker.
So at the age of 29, Walter Chiles sets out on an adventure to the New World as the assistant to the Purser Henry Tutton on the ship the "Blessing". Our intrepid cloth worker was seeking his fortune on the other side of the world. Whether this was his first trip to Virginia or even his first trip on a ship we do not know, but we do know this: His age, his birth year of approximately 1608, his home is Bristol, his occupation-cloth worker and his new job, assistant purser to Henry Tutton on the Ship "Blessing".
For a young man with no title and no large wealth, this was his best opportunity. That is, if you were courageous enough to take the chance. He may have learned the cloth trade with the assistance of his father or by an apprenticeship which would have placed him in contact with merchants of the shipping trade. How advantageous for an ambitious young man, to meet and make connections to further his career. As assistant to the purser, he was in charge of the supplies and merchandise on board the ship. When arriving at their destination, they would sell the merchandise, bring back tobacco and other goods from the new world to sell. The owner of the ship would reap great rewards, but so would our young adventurer.
The information that we know for a fact is the following:
The Ship Blessing. Owned by William Harris and Nicholas Jollye. William Harris was probably the owner of the merchandise.
Captain: Mr. Phillip Luxon (drank most of the liquor on board causing a drop in sales and low morale on the ship. There were desertions at Kinsale, Ireland and at Falmouth which caused her tobacco to be neglected and spoiled.
Cooper and Steward; Phillip Callow of Bristol 20 years of age
Assistant to Purser: Walter Childes of Briston 29 years of age
Purser: Henry Tatton of Bristol 21 years of age
Steward: John Marten
The ships company numbered 14 and she carried 2 to 3 passengers.
The ship "Blessing" remained in Virginia for 14 weeks which was probably during the year 1636.
There is a book English Adventurers and Emigrants, 1609-1660 Abstracts of Examinations, by Peter Wilson Coldham that provides all this information.