The Early seventeenth-century port books for Londonderry, Coleraine, Carrickfergus and the Lecale ports are an underrated source which have been underutilised by historians of the early seventeenth century. As Robert Hunter himself highlighted, they can be used to establish the character of the merchant class of the emerging plantation towns and the incipient commercialisation which was one of the characteristics of plantation. They can also be used, as names are gradually identified, to indicate the hinterlands of the Ulster ports, for example, Strabane merchants trading through Derry.
The commodities exported illuminate the plantation economy; the enormous range of imports indicates that Ulster participated in the contemorary consumer society. The port books also provide fairly accurate information about the places of origin of the ships that traded with Ulster and indicate the size of local Ulster merchant fleets. This edition of Robert Hunter's transcription of the Ulster Port Books - furthers our knowledge and understanding of trade and society during this turbulent period of resettlement.