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TO 1830 





IT is needful to preface this little book with 
an explanation. Four years ago we began 
an elaborate investigation into English Loeal 
Government during the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries. Our task quickly divided 
itself into two parts. We had first to discover 
the structure of local government., to unravel 
and describe the exact constitution and working 
all over the country of the Open arid Select 
Vestries, the Manorial Courts, the Commissioners 
of Sewers, the various kinds of statutory bodies 
established under special Acts, the County 
Justices in Petty arid Quarter Sessions, and the 
Municipal Corporations. We had then to classify 
local government according to function, and to 
treat, one by one, such different public services 
as the Relief of Destitution, the Prevention of 
Crime, the Cleaning and Paving of Streets, the 



Regulation of Trade, the Maintenance of Churches, 
Harbours, Docks, Roads, and Bridges, and the 
raising of a municipal revenue by duties and 
tolls, rates and assessments. The results of this 
investigation into both structure and function, 
for the period up to the reforms of 1832-35, we 
hope to publish in the course of 1904. Moan- 
while it has been suggested to us that our 
chapter on the Regulation of the Liquor Traffic, 
especially its hitherto unknown episode of 178 Or 
87, with the dramatic suppression of licensed 
houses without compensation, might be specially 
instructive at this juncture, and that it may 
interest readers who would not care to study 
the whole range of English Local Government. 
The drawbacks of separate publication are con- 
siderable. In the course of our narrative we 
have constantly referred to contemporary facts 
dealt with in other chapters, such, for instance, 
as the diversity in character and procedure of 
the different benches of Justices of the Peace in 
urban and rural districts, in London and the 
municipal corporations. These facts will not 
necessarily be known to the general reader. 
Moreover, for students mainly interested in the 


modern controversy, a mere shred of history 
cut out of its context, beginning at 1700, and 
ending abruptly at 1830, cannot provide satis- 
factory reading. The first of these drawbacks 
we have sought to meet by appending many 
footnotes to the text. The second we have 
tried to diminish, by prefixing a short historical 
introduction, and appending a summary of 
licensing legislation since 1830, drawn from 
obvious sources. 

With this explanation of some of its imper- 
fections, we offer the following sketch of what 
did happen between 1700 and 1830, as possibly 
contributing towards an understanding of the 
present problem. We carefully abstain from 
pointing any moral or drawing any conclu- 
sions as to present day policy. 

We must add that we are indebted for the 
fulness of detail and richness of variety in 
our work to our two zealous and able assist- 
ants and colleagues, Mr. K II Spencer, and 
Miss Amy Harrison, B.A., D.Sc. (now Mrs. 
Spencer). Nor would the work have been 
possible but for the treasures of the British 
Maiseum, and, in particular, its invaluable col- 


lection of old provincial newspapers, which it 
was, at one time, actually proposed to disperse ! 
We venture to express our strongest hopes that 
whatever else is sent away, these files of old 
provincial newspapers without which the social 
history of England cannot possibly be written 
will be kept at Bloomsbury, where they arc 
accessible to the historical student, and where 
(as it is privately admitted) there is ample 
accommodation for them. 


September 1903. 






A PwEroi) ov LAXNK.SS ........ 16 












WK have made no study of the numerous in- 
stances of manorial or municipal regulation of 
the liquor traffic in England prior to the six- 
teenth century. It is easy to find, in such 
scanty records of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries as are yet printed, curiously exact 
precedents, in one town or manor or another, 
at one period or another, for almost every 
modern expedient of dealing with the liquor 
traffic. 1 Nor can we pretend to have made any 
systematic investigation into the working of the 
legislation of the sixteenth century. But in 

1 Some of tliOHO arc given, together with a good account of 
licensing history down to 1642, in the article, "Early Stages of 
English Public HOUHO Regulation," by Mina C. M. lies, of tho 
London School of Economics and Political Science, in tho Economic 
Jown&l for Juno 1903. For examples of enforcement of the liquor 
regulations of the manorial Court from M15 onwards see Fulham Old 
and New, by 0. J. Fdrot (1900), vol. i. pp. 25-26 ; and tho Manchester 
Court L&ct .Records, 



order to enable the history of the eighteenth 
century to be understood, we shall give a brief 
outline of the course of events during the pre- 
ceding century and a half. 

The regulation of the trade in alcoholic liquors 
originated, not in any abstract theory, but in a 
practical necessity of the State. It was found 
that the free use of intoxicating drinks pro- 
duced not only incapacity and disease among 
all classes, but also, among the " lower orders," 
idleness and disorderly living, crimes against 
life and property, and even riot and rebellion. 
Total prohibition of the production and sale of 
intoxicants was, in face of the ease of manufac- 
ture and the absence of police, plainly impractic- 
able. Moreover, beer, at any rate, was univer- 
sally regarded as a necessity of life ; it was the 
common beverage at every meal; and all but 
a small minority of the population habitually 
enjoyed drinking. On the other hand, the evils 
of excessive drinking were so manifest and 
so widespread, that the Government, in every 
generation, has felt compelled to do something 
more than punish the crimes which drunkenness 
produces. For more than three hundred years 
the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks has 
been brought under special statutory regulation. 
The primary object of this legislation has been 


to prevent the social disorder and personal mis- 
conduct brought about by excessive drinking; 
and the legislators have sought to place obstacles 
to the unrestricted sale of intoxicants to in- 
dividuals. But this main purpose has been, 
from time to time, complicated and thwarted 
by two material considerations : the discovery, 
made by successive governments, that taxes on 
alcoholic drinks provided an easy and copious 
source of revenue, and the desire to promote the 
extensive native industries of brewing and dis- 
tilling. Under the influence of these diverse 
and often conflicting motives, the regulation of 
the liquor traffic has, in England, been shared 
between the central executive and the local 
authorities. The national Government has always 
taken for itself the revenue to be derived from 
alcohol, whether in the form of royal patents, 
excise duties on the manufacture, custom duties 
on the imports, or revenue licences of the 
dealers. We might omit all reference to these 
national taxes, and to the extensive system of 
official control devised for their protection, as 
forming no part of English local government. 
On the other hand, the duty of regulating the 
consumption of alcoholic drinks in such a way 
as to obviate social disorder has always been 
left to the local authorities, and we shall find it 


impossible, in describing their exercise of this 
function, to avoid mentioning the action of the 
national Government, when, in the purmiit of 
revenue or for other reasons, ita regulations 
interfered with, and even ousted, the powers of 
Justices of the Peace. 

The device of licensingthat is, the require- 
ment that any person desiring to puraue a 
particular occupation shall first obtain specific 
permission from a governing authority may be 
used to attain many different ends. The licence 
may be merely an occasion for extracting a fee 
or levying a tax. It may be an iiwtrument for 
registering all those who are following a particu- 
lar occupation, in order, for some reason or 
another, to ensure their being brought under 
public notice. It may be a device for limiting 
the numbers of those so engaged, or for Helecting 
them according to their possession of certain 
qualifications. Finally, the act of licenwing may 
be the means of imposing special rules upon the 
occupation, or of more easily enforcing the ful- 
filment either of these special rules or of the 
general law of the land. 

The function of licensing, as it has been 
delegated by Parliament to the Justices of the 
Peace, has always included three distinct forms 
of control : the power of selection, the power 


of withdrawal, and the power of imposing 

By the statute of 5 and 6 Edward VI c. 25 
(1552) the Justices of the Peace were authorised 
to select from time to time, at their discretion, 
certain persons in each county or borough who 
were alone to exercise the trade of keeping a 
common alehouse. 1 From this time forth, the 
occupation became an exceptional privilege, to 
which no person could assert a right.* The 
Justices had full discretion as to the persons 
whom they would license, a discretion which 
Parliament limited only by certain insignificant 
requirements. 3 What was of importance was 

1 There has always been a. di.stinc.tiou between an inn which 
lodges and entertains traveller, and a common alehouse which aoll 
alo to all-comers. Originally an inn (Dal ton, o. 56 ; Blackorby, 170) 
or a lodging-houso (Parker and Flint, 1(199, 12 Mod. 254), even if 
it supplied alo to its lodgers, required no licence. An inn might, by 
common law, bo indicted an a public nuisance, if it wan improperly 
conducted, or oven if it wan Hot n]> where it was not needed (1 Haw. 
226), But, aa imiK practically always supplied alo to all-comers, 
they wore quickly brought under the operation of the requirement to 
obtain licences an common alehouses and their regulation by way of 
indictment became obsolete. 

* In 1604 the King pointed out in a Privy Council circular letter 
that, " By the law and statutes of thin our realm, the keeping of ale- 
houses and victualling houses is none of trades which it is free 
and lawful for any subject to net up and exorcise, but inhibited to all 
save such at* are thereto licensed." 

8 Prior to 1729 the licence might be granted at any time by any 
two JuBliooH, but by 2 George II, c. 28 (1729) the woll-knowu 
" BrewaterSeHHiouH" was innUtutcd, all licences having to be granted 
at a general HCHHion.s of the Justices of the (Uvision, of which one was 
to be held for this purpose in September of each year. 


the fact that Parliament, from the outset, 
implied l that the number of licences was to be 
kept down to just enough for the supply of the 
legitimate wants of each neighbourhood, thus 
creating a sort of monopoly. Moreover, there 
was no idea of selling this monopoly to the 
highest bidder, and the Justices were, in fact, 
required to issue their licence without charge. 
The result was that the Justices had it in their 
power to create a valuable property, and to give 
it to whom they chose. 

The power of withdrawing the permission to 
sell intoxicating liquors is, curiously enough, 
older than the power to select the sellers. By 
11 Henry VII. c. 2 (1495), strengthened by 
19 Henry VII. c. 12 (1504), as part of the policy 
of discouraging indoor games, which diverted the 
people from archery, any two Justices were 
authorised summarily to suppress useless ale- 
houses in their neighbourhood, 2 and it was 
primarily to strengthen this power " to reject 
and put away common ale-selling in the towns 
and places where they should think convenient " 
as they thought meet and convenient, in order 

1 Thus, the reason for the institution of special "Browator 
Sessions " was so that licences might not bo granted ' { by Justices who, 
living remote from the places of abode " of the applicants, " may not 
be truly informed as to the occasion or want o/such inns or common 
alehouses " (2 George II. c. 28, 1729). 

2 History of Taxes and Taxation, by S. DowoH (1888), vol. iv. p. 91. 


to prevent " the intolerable hurts and troubles to 
the commonwealth of the realm, daily growing 
and increasing," that the first licencing Act of 
1552 was passed. With the same object, these 
alehouse licences were required by the Justices to 
be renewed annually, so that a mere refusal to 
renew amounted to, and apparently superseded, 
the statutory power of suppression. 1 The full 
power of the Justices to refuse the renewal of a 
licence, entirely at their own discretion, and 
without assigning cause, was questioned, from 
time to time, but has always been upheld by the 
superior courts. The reason for refusal in the 
Justices' minds might be Home misconduct of the 
publican, or it might be merely that they had 
come to the conclusion that the. number of 
licences in the neighbourhood was greater than 
the existing needs warranted. Tims, jtiat as the 
magistrates could create valuable property, and 

1 The term for which tho permission or licence of the Justices 
should ho granted was not; specified by 5 and Edward VI. c. 26 
(1552), but before tho end of tho sixteenth century it scorns to have 
become customary for Justices to give tho licence for one your only 
(see a form of 1591 in Wost'fl tfymlwliMujrttpliy, 1000). A royal pro- 
clamation of 1018 definitely proscribed a form of licence for ono year, 
and this acorns to havo boon universally adopted. Tho annual 
renewal wan implicitly required by Anno c. 10 (1711), imposing an 
annual stamp duty, but it was not explicitly mado requisite by 
statute until 20 George II, c, 81 (1758). See Mr. Bonharn Carter's 
evidence before tho Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing, 1897-90, 
and his valuable historical memorandum, in vol. iii. of tho 
ings of this Commission. 


freely endow any individual with it, so they 
could, at any "brewster sessions," arbitrarily 
destroy the property that they had created, and 
deprive the holder of it without compensation, 1 

The power of imposing conditions on the 
licensees was not expressly conferred by statute 
but really flowed from the coexistence of the 
powers of selection and withdrawal. Parlia- 
ment, whilst repeating that there was to be no 
tippling or disorder, had failed to prescribe under 
what accompaniments in the way of accommo- 
dation or recreation the sale of liquor should be 
conducted. Eight down to the end of the period 

1 The Judges always refused to issue a mandamufl to the JunticeH to 
grant a licence, even on affidavit of their having maliciously or 
corruptly refused it (Strange, 881 ; 1 Barnard i.ston, 402). The 
superior courts showed, in fact, groat reluctances to question tho 
Justices' discretion in tho matter. But "if it clearly appears," nai<l 
Lord Mansfield in 1758, "that the Justices havu boon partially, 
maliciously, or corruptly influenced in tho exorcise of thuirdiHcrx.ttion, 
and have consequently abused the trust reposed in thum, tlw.y aro 
liable to prosecution by indictment or information " (E. v. Young and 
Pitts, Burr. Mansf. 556). In 1765 two Justices of tho tiny borough 
of Corfe Castle were committed to prison for a month, and iinod 50 
each, for refusing an alehouse licence to an hmkoopw, merely lx.u?uuo 
he had voted for a candidate for Parliament whom they oppwiug 
(E. v. Hann and Price, Burr. Mansf. 1716, 1780), Such criminal pro- 
ceedings were rare, and convictions still rarer, though wo hear of 
Justices refusing licences to any persons who petitioned for a work- 
house ; and there can be no doubt that licences wore frequently 
restricted, in practice to adherents of the dominant soot or political 
party. The full discretion of the Justices was uphold by tha HOUHO 
of Lords in Sharp i>. Wakefield ; see tho judgment roprintwl in vol. 
ix. of the Proceedings of the Royal Commission on Liquor Liccnsim/, 


that we have under review, Parliament abstained 
from fixing the hours of opening ami closing, 
on week-clays and Sundays, or prescribing the 
conditions under which the sale of liquor should 
take place, contenting itself always with the 
arbitrary control of the Justices, on the one hand, 
and the profit which the Exchequer derived from 
the exaction of excise and licence duties on the 
other. 1 Thus, it was open to the Justices at any 
particular time or place to make it known that 
they would not license the sale of liquor in 
premises remote from public observation, or in- 
adequate in accommodation .for the customers ; 
that they did not approve of music or dancing 
or other entertainments on licensed premises ; 
that they insisted on the premises being closed 
at nine o'clock in the evening ; and, in fact, to 
make the renewal of the licence virtually con- 
ditional on compliance with any requirement 
connected with the conduct of the trade that 
they might think lit to impose. 

That the Act of 1552 was carried out by the 

1 Tho oarliont Htatuto (11 Henry VII. . 2, 1405) had om powered any 
two JtiHtiiJGfl "to tako Hurotios of kooporn of alohouHca in their good 
bohaving," ThcHO had d<tvlopod by 1618 into elaborate recognisances, 
in which wore inserted many spooifio conditions imposed by the 
Justicos, and proHcribod by the royal proclamation of that year. After 
tho Revolution thoKO rocogninamHw became much shorter and simpler, 
confined usual ly to a moroly fonnal undertaking not to infringe the 
stattito law against tippling, illegal gamoH, otc?. 


Justices is sliown by the frequent references to it 

in the annals both of counties and corporate 

towns. 1 From 1587 to 1631 their administra- 

tion, in this as in other branches of local govern- 

ment, was quickened and kept up to the mark 

by the series of " Books of Orders/' issued by 

the Privy Council, which formed so important 

a feature of the administrative system of the 

time. 2 That unnecessary alehouses were to be sup- 

pressed was constantly enjoined upon the Justices, 

and it is clear that drastic, and often arbitrary 

action was taken. The " pulling down of the 

sign" of an alehouse, summarily suppressed 

by a choleric Justice of the Peace, is more than 

once mentioned in contemporary literature. 8 

In 1599, 1604, and 1608, the Justices were 

1 See, for instance, the Middlesex Vmnty Jtawrdsi by J. 0. 
Jeaffreson (1888-92) ; Sessions Rolls of the, North, Midintj of Yorkshire; 
West Hiding Sessions Molls (1888) ; Worcester County Records ; Three 
Centuries of Derlyshwe Annals, by J. G. Cox (1890) ; Annals of 
Ipswich, by Nathaniel Bacon (1654, soo edition of 1884). 

a For an admirable account of thin attempt to establish a eontrally 
supervised and efficient administrative system, soo The JSarly History 
of the English Poor Law, by Miss E. M. Leonard (Cambridge, 

8 The withdrawal of the licence was accompanied by tbo re- 
moval of the sign by the parish constable, 

For this gross fault I hero do damn thy llconco, 

Forbidding thee ever to tap or draw, 

For instantly I will in mine own person 

Command the constables to pull down thy nlgn, 

Massinger, A New Way to Pay Old Debts, iv. 2, quoted in The 
History of Sign-boards, by J. Larwood and J. C. Hottou 
p. 11. 


specially enjoined to bo careful in granting 
licences for "the keeping of alehouses and 
victualling houses . . . which/' said the Privy 
Council in 1604, "ought to be no more than a 
number competent for the receipt of travellers, 
and for the supply of wants to poor people not 
able to provide for any quantity of victual for 
themselves (which are the true, ancient, and 
natural use of these houses), and with this also, 
that they be not made the receptacle of drunkards, 
felons, and loose and idle persons/' 1 That the 
Justices at this period took some trouble in the 
matter is shown by the " articles" which Dalton 
tells us they drew up in sonic counties, and 
forced the alehouse-keepers to agree to, fixing 
the hours of (dosing at night, providing for 
complete Sunday cloning, except as regards 
travellers, and forbidding any tippler to remain 
more than one hour. 2 

We give one out of the many cases in which 
alehouses were suppressed simply as being uu- 

1 Privy Council Circular Lot tor to Mayors and Justices, 1004 ; 
g\vQftii\JIi3twyof8ou-tk(tM.ptMi t by *F. S, Davios (1883), p. 278. 

2 Seo tho form of licence to koop an alehouse, and that termed 
"a condition for alohoxiso - koopors " (The Countrey Justice, by 
Michael Dultou (1618), p. #34-&iG). Thosa "conditions" contained 
in some oases an interesting anticipation of the '* black-list " of 1902 : 
"Nor willingly admit or receive . . . any portion . . . that ahall 
be beforehand notified to him, tho said A.B. by tho constable of M. 
or by IUH deputy, to be an unmeet person to bo received into a 
common alehouse." 


necessary. The Mayor and aldermen of Ripon 
(Yorks) report to the Privy Council in 1623 
that, in. pursuance of the directions received, they 
have made inquiry as to the number of ale- 
houses in the town, and " finding the number to 
be great, we have reduced them to half the 
number/ 7 1 

In 1618 a royal proclamation recited many of 
the conditions imposed by Justices, definitely 
prescribed the form of the licence, and directed 
that it should be for one year only. It was part 
of the business of the Judges of assize on their 
circuits to inquire if the directions of the Privy 
Council had been duly carried out by the Jus- 
tices, and the manuscript circuit records .show 
that this administrative supervision of the local 
authorities was, during the first half of the seven- 
teenth century, frequently made effective by 
peremptory orders by the Judges/ 2 

1 Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, James /., vol. c.xxxvii. ; 
Chapters in the History of Yorkshire, by ,T. ,T. Cartwright (WakofioM, 
1872), pp. 289, 290. 

2 Thus, to give one out of many instances, tho MS. Order Book 
of the Western Circuit contains, under 13th August 1046, the 
following order made at the Dorchester Assizes :" Upon tho groat 
complaint of the gentlemen of the Grand Inquest of this county, 
made to this Court at this present assizes, against the multiplicity of 
alehouses within this county, and the daily abuses and disorders 
vext and suffered in such alehouses, especially on tho Sabbath days, 
whereby the service of Almighty God is much hindered ; for reform- 
ing whereof this Court doth think and declare that tho Just lew* of 
the Peace within the several divisions and liberties of this county, 


The supervision of the. Privy Council, by 
which the Justices had been kept, up to the 
mark, was suddenly broken by the outbreak of 
the Civil War. We do not find that any serious 
attempt was made, either during the. Protectorate 
or after the Restoration, to r<M.;onstrue.t the cen- 
trally supervised administrative system at which 
the statesmen of Elizabeth and James L had 
evidently aimed. The Privy Council orders 
cease. The Judges of assixe gradually abandon 

aliall, with all convenient speed, inform themsoiveM by the boat ways 
and means that pos.sibly they MII, conn-ruing the .said nlmwB om- 
mittod and suffered by such aloli0usvhkp % r.H, and not to sutler or 
license any to sell ale or beer but such as can bring their certificates 
under tho hands of tho most Huflioionl and best inlmbiiantn of the 
several places and parishes whore they dwell, c.onct'rning their good 
boliavlour and carriage, and tlw eonvoniency of tho plaw;B lit for such 
alohoitHOM to bo bost, and to tako Hjx?Mly courso for tho punishing 
and supproHsing of all othor alehouse kimpors according to tho 
BtatutoH in that cano inado aiid provided." Tho Judgtw of fiHsizo 
would occasionally thonwo.lvoB Huppmns an akdummn Thus, at 
Exeter AHSISWH in August 1H(J5, it in rocordod that **whortsas it 
appears unto tho Court that K. P., who wan omiviV.tcd of man- 
slaughter at the HHHISSOH for killing of ono Q, M. , wan drinking at tho 
house of ono J. M., in the parish of St. Thomas tho Apostle in this 
county, an alehouse-lumper ; and that the challenge was made for 
thorn to wrestle whilst they sat drinking in the said house, which 
occasioned tho said death. Thin Court doth, therefore, order that 
the house of the said J, M. shall be from hence suppressed from 
being an alehouse any longer" (MH. Order Book, Western Circuit, 
Exeter, August 1085). In the same way earlier in the century, in 
the intorcssts of temperance and keeping the peace, "at the Exeter 
Assizes (1627) Chief Baron Walter and Baron Denham made an order 
for the suppression, of all wakes. Judge Eiehardson made a like order 
for the county of SomorHot (1681)" (Nineteen Centuries of Drink in 
England, by E, V. French, p. 200), 


all interest in the civil administration of the 
counties included in their circuits, and after 
1688, at any rate, we find them confining them- 
selves strictly to their judicial functions. Except 
when Jacobite plots were feared, or serious dis- 
orders were threatened, the Justices of the Peace, 
whether in municipal corporations or on county 
benches, were, at the end of the seventeenth 
century, abandoned entirely to their own devices. 



FROM the end of the seventeenth century, at 
any rate, a period of extreme laxness set in. 
Licences to keep alehouses were granted by any 
two Justices of the county, whether or not they 
belonged to the neighbourhood, or had any 
knowledge of applicant, or his house. We 
gather that practically any one could obtain a 
licence, which, once granted, was never with- 
drawn. The suppression of alehouses by the 
Justices went entirely into desuetude. There 
was, on the contrary, a constant tendency 
towards their multiplication, " The superfluous 
number of such petty inns and alehouses," 
complains a contemporary writer, " seems to 
proceed from these two causes : the first is 
from the application which is frequently made 
on the behalf of some broken, half -starved 
merchant or idle fellow, who rather than beg, or 
steal, and be hanged, or at best become charge- 



able to the parish, hopes to get a subsistence by 
the little cheatings and degenerate shifts of ale- 
selling. The other course is much of the same 
figure, it being commonly no other than the 
sordid interest of some mean-spirited Justices, 
who, to maintain a superfluous or indigent 
member of his family or acquaintance, is 
tempted easily to license alehouses for the sake 
of fees." l 

Whether or not we need accept as a true 
generalisation this cynical description of the 
Justices' motives, of the actual increase in the 
number of licensed houses there is no shadow of 
doubt. With the possible exception of the city 
of London, 2 our search through contemporary 

1 Campmia Felix, by Timothy Nourso (1700), h. xii, "Of Inns 
and Alehouses," p. 170. 

2 In the MS. Journals of the Common Council of the (Jityuf London 
(vol. lii. p. 373), under date of 1700, there, in an order by tho Lord 
Mayor to the aldermen of the several wards, annually rquwtud for 
the next few years, "for the bettor choice of all uh victualler, 
tiplers (sic), alehouse-keepers, and others soiling luior and ale, an arc 
to be licensed within this City ami liberties thereof, and suppimsing 
those not thought fit to be licensed. These arc therefore to will and 
require you forthwith upon sight hereof to repair into your Haul 
ward, and there, as well by the advice of your deputy and common 
council, as upon view of tho parties themselves, consider who arc fit 
to be licensed, having respect to their agCH, liven, conversations, and 
places of abode ; and that you certify mo under your hand in fair 
writing the names and surnames of all such persons an you Khali think 
fit to be licensed within your ward, and in what they dwoll, and in 
what company every one of them is free (for you arc to present none 
but what are free of the city)." Corresponding orders were issued to 
the ward beadles." 


newspapers and official records during the first 
quarter of the eighteenth century, has revealed 
no evidence of any care or thought by the 
Justices, either in restricting the grant of new 
licences or in regulating the conduct of existing 
alehouse -keepers. Nor was there any attempt 
made to limit the traffic to licensed houses. It 
was a special feature of the period that the sale 
of beer was not confined to the inns, or victual- 
ling houses, and the alehouses, or " mug-houses/ 7 
as some of them were termed in London. The 
coffee-houses, which filled HO large a part in the 
public life under William HI, and Anne, sold 
alcoholic drinks as well as coffee. At Shrews- 
bury, De Foe noted in 1714, there are "the most 
coffee-houses round the Town House that ever I 
saw in any town, but when you come into them 
they are but alehouses, only they think that 
the name of coffee-house gives a better air/' 1 

It is therefore scarcely to be wondered at 
that the consumption of ale and beer rapidly 
increased. In 1722 the production of malt for 
brewing beer attained the extraordinary figure 
of 33,000,000 bushelrt, indicating a consumption 
in the year of a whole barrel of beer (tSG gallons) 
for every man, woman, and child of the popu- 
lation, a total production not again reached 

1 De Foe's Tour through the whok IslmwZ of Great Britain (1724-7), 


until more than a hundred yearn later, and an 
average consumption per head which has never 
subsequently been equalled. 1 

Meanwhile other forms of intoxicating drinks 
were coming extensively into consumption, and 
these were to a great extent exempt from the 
Justices 7 control. Already in 1553 we are told 
that " great numbers of taverns "that is, wine- 
shops " had recently been net up in back lanes, 
corners, and suspicious places within the City of 
London, and in divers other towns and villages 
within the realm/ 7 winch became "the common 
resort of misruled people." " Therefore, in the 
year next following the first licensing of ale- 
houses, all taverns outside the limits of boroughs 
or market towns were suppressed ; those in such 
towns were limited to two in each place, or to 
three, four, six, or eight in twenty specified large 

1 Report of the Commissioners of Inland Rwmuo (1870), vol. i. 
Appendix, pp. 15, 17 ; Twenty-Eighth, Report of tho CommiHaionerH of 
Inland Revenue (1885), p. 20. For tho history of tho maimfar-turo, 
retailing, and taxation of alo and boor, aoe the convonumt Jkcr 
Manual, by Joseph Scarisbrick (Wolverhampton, 1802). 
_ 2 7 Edward VI. c. 5 (1553). " Tavum-'-fa&mift -.wan tho dis- 
tinctive name for the wine-house of tho Middle Agon, iw oppoBinl to 
the alehouse" (History of Taxation and 2te'a, by S. Powull, 1888, 
vol. iv. p. 136). A tavern, it was said, " is a degree, or (if you will) 
a pair of stairs, above an alehouse, whoro men are drunk with mow 
credit and apology " (Mt&rocosTHography, by John Karlo). Wine- 
shops were dealt with apart from alehouses until 1792, but tho word 
tavern seems to have been loosely used already in tho eighteenth 
century for all drinking-places. 


towns ; and forty in the city of London. Up to 
this maximum all taverns were to be licensed, 
during pleasure, by the municipal corporations 
or county Justices. 1 But this extension of the 
Justices' jurisdiction wan, to a great extent, 
rendered nugatory by the exercise of the King's 
prerogative, recognised by the statute of 1623, 
to give a licence to any tavern-keeper to sell 
wine/ 2 These royal licences, which were made a 

1 7 Edward VI. c, 5 (15fiJJ), Gravosond, Sittingbonruo, Tuxford, and 
Bagftliot wore Kpocially jw'hulwi an townn whk'h might havo taverns. 
(As to the Chvivoscnd privilege, WM H, 1*. Orudon's Hi-story of 
Gfravcsend, 18-13, p. 171.) The Mayor and Corporation of St. Albans 
enjoyed tlio excluHivo privilog<, by charter of Edward VI. In 1560, 
of appointing tlmw \viu<j taverns in that borough for the main- 
tenance of tho local school. Their privilogo \vn,s pivwerved by 12 
Car. II. c. 25 (1W50), i Anno, c. 2H (1710), and 43 and 44 Vit. o. 20, 
sec, 48 (18BG), and ntill uxwt.s (Mtriii I'apcrs rr.rftirdiiuj the Excise 
Department, by John OWWIH (Linlithgow), pp. 4S)(M98 ; History of 
Hertfordshire, by Hobtirt. Cluttcrbuck (1815), vol. i. p. 49; History 
of Taxation and 7V^y*,t, liy S. Dowoll (1888), vol. iv. p. 138; The 
Licensing Laws, by H. M. Montgomery ('2nd edition, 1000), p. 2). 

2 For tlio statuton regulating UWHO royal wine licences, aoe 12 
Car. II. c. 25 (1600), 15 Oar. IL c. M (1008), and 22 and 23 Gar. IL 
c. 26 (1070), and Ooorgo IL c. 10 and 15 (1757), Freemen of the 
Vintners Company of tlio city of London wow, by thoir charter of 
Jamoa I. (1612), allowud tho privilcgo of Hulling wino without any 
licence within throe inilcn of tho city of London, in cities and port 
townn, and in tho " thoroughfaro towim" on certain groat roads. 
This privikgo still conlimioH, but it i now roatri<;td to freomon by 
patrimony or apprenticeship, who may havo each only one house* 
and nuiat give formal nolico to tho KXCJHO (B^O JJO George IL o, 19, 
sees. 10-11 ; 9 (3oorg< IV. c. 61, HIWS. 30 ; 25 and 26 Viet, c, 22, sec. 16 ; 
and The Limsiwj Ads t by J. Pataraon, 13th edition, 1900, p, 2). In 
1737 (10 George II. c. 17) retailors of British wines, mead, etc* 
technically known an "sweets," and in 1792 (32 Qoorge III. o. 59) 
retailors of wine, to bo drunk on tho promises, were required to be 


regular source of revenue for the Crown, were 
not abolished until 1757. After the Restoration, 
as De Foe remarks, taverns multiplied fast, 1 and 
the consumption of wine grew apace. 

The drunkenness caused by the wine-shops 

was completely thrown into the shade by the 

results of the free sale of gin. 2 During the 

greater part of the seventeenth century the 

new art of the distillation of spirits had been 

a monopoly in the hands of the Distillers' 

Company and other royal patentees, and the 

trade had remained small But after the llevolu- 

tion, as part of the commercial warfare levied 

against the French, the importation of foreign 

brandy was prohibited or heavily taxed, and a 

general permission was granted in 1(590 to all 

persons to distil and retail spirits made from 

English-grown com. The habit of drinking 

ardent spirits now assumed alarming proportions. 

The Legislature, far from desiring to suppress 

this new drink traffic, at first gave it distinct 

licensed victuallers, and were thus brought und<T tho control of the 
magistrates (History of Taxation mid Taxes, by S. Dowoll, vol. iv. 
p. 140). 

1 Memoirs of the Life and Times of Daniel De. /< T w, by Wai tor 
Wilson (1830), vol. ii. p. 203. 

2 For the history of the manufacture, Halo, and taxation of spirits, 
see the convenient Spirit Manual, Historical and Technical, by 
Joseph Scarishrick (Wolverhampton, 1891) ; Seventh Roport of the 
Commission of Excise Enquiry, 1836 ; IIi$tory of Taxation and 
Taxes, by S. Dowell (1888), vol. iv. 


encouragement. It became an object of the 
Government to develop the manufacture of 
English brandy and strong waters*, seeing that, 
in this way, " great quantities of the worst sort 
of malted corn, not useful to the brewers, hath 
been yearly consumed by those who set up works 
for that purpose/ 7 Between 1690 and 1701 a 
series of statutes provided, for the encouragement 
of these patriotic distillers, that, if they used 
malted corn, they should pay only a low pre- 
ferential duty on their product, whilst " French 
and other foreign brandies " should be as far as 
possible excluded. No provision had been made 
by Parliament for requiring retailers of spirits 
to obtain a licence, and " punch houses " and 
"dram shops/' as the new places were called, 
multiplied rapidly in London and Westminster. 
It is true that in 1701 the retailers of British 
spirits were required to obtain an alehouse licence 
from two Justices, but as this was found, in the 
words of a House of Commons Committee, to be 
" a great hindrance to the consumption of English 
brandies," l it was, in the very next year, so far 
repealed as to leave the distillers themselves free 
to open as many retail spirit shops as they chose, 
and also to permit a like free sale in the case of 
" all other shopkeepers whose principal dealings 

1 House of Commons Journals, 17th and 27th February 1702. 


shall be more in other goods ami merchandises 
than in brandy or strong waters." l The result 
of this free sale of a powerfully intoxicating 
liquor, rendered Hpeemlly clump by the extremely 
low duty on KB manufacture, wan a perfect 
pandemonium of drunkenness, in which the 
greater part of the population of the metropolis 
seems to have participated. Not only were 
there in London and WcHtiniimter six or seven 
thousand regular drum-shops, but cheap gin was 
given by masters to their workpeople instead of 
wages, Bold by the barbers and tobacconists, 
hawked about the Htreot>s on barrows by men 
and women, openly exposed for sale on every 
market stall, forced on tin*- maidservant-H and 
other purchasers at the chandler's shop, distri- 
buted by the watermen on the* Thames, vended 
by pedlars in the suburban bines, and freely 
offered in every house of ill-fame, until, as one 
contemporary writer puts in, " one-half of the 
town seems set up to furnish poison to the other 
half," 2 "Every one who now panseB through 

1 12 and 13 William III, o. 11 (1701), and I Ann*', Mat. 2, c. 14 
(1702). An attempt by tho DUtillurH' Company to obtain jwwr to 
inspect all spirits, and hwint ou good quality, though at tot 
favoured by the House of Comment*, was not mado law (iiouKQ of 
Commons Journals, 17 tit and 27th February, <Jth, 18th, and 27th 
March 1702). 

a " Theopkilus," in Gentleman* 9 Magazine, February 1733, vol. iii. 
p. 88. 


the streets of this great Metropolis," says a 
contemporary pamphleteer, " and looks into the 
distillers' shops . . . must see, even in shops of 
a creditable and wholesale appearance, a crowd 
of poor ragged people, cursing and quarrelling 
with one another over repeated glasses of these 
destructive liquors. . . . In one place not far 
from East Smithfield ... a trader has a large 
empty room backwards where, as his wretched 
guests get intoxicated, they are laid together in 
heaps, promiscuously, men, women, and children, 
till they recover their senses, when they proceed 
to drink on, or, having spent all they had, go 
out to find wherewithal to return to the same 
dreadful pursuit, and how they acquire more 
money the sessions paper too often acquaints us/ 71 
" Such a shameful degree of profligacy pre- 
vailed/ 7 writes Smollett, who saw the London 
of that date with his own eyes, cc that the 
retailers of this poisonous compound set up 
painted boards in public, inviting people to be 
drunk for the small expense of one penny, 
assuring them they might be dead drunk for 
twopence, and have straw for nothing. They 

1 Distilled Liquors the Jtonc of the Nation, being some consulara- 
tions humbly off wed to thfi Lcyisl&ture, with the late Presentment of 
the Orand Juries of London, Middlesex and the Tower Hamlets, 
together with the lleyort made by His Majesty's Justices at Hicks EM 
(London, 1730) ; preserved in the Vlaco Add. MBS. 27825, p. 178, 


accordingly provided cellars and places strewed 
with straw, to which they conveyed those 
wretches who were overwhelmed with intoxica- 
tion. In these dismal caverns they lay until 
they recovered some use of their faculties, and 
then they had recourse to the same mischievous 
potion." l 

Presently we find the general disgust at the 
carnival of bestial drunkenness which had been 
allowed to grow up in the metropolis gaining 
official expression. The Middlesex Justices, con- 
cerned for the public order, begin to petition 
Parliament for immediate action. " The drink- 
ing of Geneva and other distilled spirituous 
liquors," they emphatically state in 1736, " hath 
for some years past greatly increased, especially 
among the people of inferior rank. . . . Thin 
pernicious liquor is now sold, not only by 
distillers and Geneva shops, but by many other 
persons of inferior trades, by which means 
journeymen, apprentices, and servants are drawn 
in to taste, and by degrees . . , to . . . im- 
moderately drink thereof." 2 

But, already in 1729, Parliament had tried to 
cope with the evil by a sudden reversal of policy. 

1 History of England, by Smollett, vol. ii. eh. xviii. p. 430 (1848 

2 Middlesex Quarter Sessions, Epiphany, 1736 ; see Houao of 
Commons Journals, 20th February 1736. 


In place of " free sale " it had sought to intro- 
duce, with regard to the most pernicious forms 
of alcoholic drinks, a system of licensing and 
heavy taxation of the retail trade. By the first 
" Gin Act " not to be confused with the more 
celebrated one of 1736 a new and additional 
excise duty of five shillings per gallon was put 
on gin and other "compounded" spirits, and 
every retailer of them was required to pay 
twenty pounds a year for a licence, whilst the 
hawking about the streets of any kind of spirits 
was expressly prohibited. 1 This Act merely led 
to the invention of new forms of spirit, one of 
them called in derision "Parliament Brandy/ 7 
which did not fall within its scope ; and it was 
repealed in 1733, on the plea that, whilst doing 
DO good, it checked the sale of barley to the 
distillers. The orgy became, however, so terrible 
that, in 17 30, Sir John Joky 11, then Master of 
the .Rolls, induced Parliament to adopt a prac- 
tically prohibitory policy, extending the policy 
of the Act of 1729 to all spirits whatsoever, im- 
posing a new tax on the retailers of the enormous 
sum of twenty shillings for every gallon sold, 
and restricting this retail sale to publicans who 
paid fifty pounds a year for the privilege. This 
drastic measure led only to riots and a complete 

1 2 George II. c. 17 (1729) ; repealed by George II. c. 17 (1783). 


collapse of the Justices' authority. The law 
simply could not be put in force. "Every 
man . . . foresaw/' subsequently remarked 
a shrewd member of the House of Lords, 
"that it was such a law as could not be 
executed, but as the poor had run gin-mad, 
the rich had run anti-gin-mad, and in this fit 
of madness no one would give ear to reason." l 

In the course of seven years only two licences 
at the exorbitant fee of fifty pounds were ever 
taken out. " Since the populace saw they could 
not evade the law," Lord Cartaret plainly told 
the House of Lords " they openly and avowedly 
transgressed it; and the transgressors were so 
numerous that they even set the Government 
itself at defiance. No private man, no under 
officer durst inform, no magistrate durst punish, 
without being in danger of being De Witt-ed by 
the mob as he passed along the streets/ 7 2 

1 The Earl of Islay, in the debate in the House of Lords (Parlia- 
mentary History, 21st February 1743). 

2 Parliamentary History, vol. is. pp. 1132-1138 ; vol. xii. pp. 1191- 
1439. For this whole episode, see Mr. Lecky's History of England 
in the Eighteenth Century (1883), vol. i. pp. 476-482, and the 
authorities there quoted ; also Smollett's History of England (1756-7) j 
TindalTs continuation of Rapin's History of England (1759), vol. viii. 
pp. 358-388 ; Lord Mahon's History of England (1839), vol. iii. ch. 
xxv. pp. 213-214 ; Macfarlane and Thomson's History of England 
(1856), vol. iii. p. 258 ; An Argument for the Legislative Prohibition 
of the Liquor Traffic, by F. E. Lees (1856), p. 82 ; History of Drink, 
by J. Samuelson (1880), pp. 161-162 ; Nineteen Centuries of Drink 


It appears that the distillers at Cambridge, 
rather than pay the exorbitant new taxes under 
the 1736 Act, " with great loss, disadvantage and 
expense, converted their effects into the wine 
trade," and " hired, furnished, and opened cellars 
and taverns" (see their petitions in House of 
Commons Journals, 23rd March, 19th April, and 
2nd May 1737). This brought down upon them 
the university authorities, who claimed that by 
ancient custom the sole right of licensing any 
kind of public-houses lay in them. To maintain 
this monopoly, the university obtained a clause 
in a new Act (see House of Commons Journals, 
16th March 1737). 

In spite of the fact that no spirits could 
legally be sold by retail at all for no one had 
taken out the necessary licence 1 the amount 
manufactured, on which the excise duty was 
paid, rose from 4,947,000 gallons in 1734 to no 
less than 7,160,000 gallons in 1742. 

The 1736 Act had, it is said, never secured 
the approval of Walpole, the then all-powerful 
minister, but he had not cared to oppose the 

in England, by R. V. French (1884), pp. 285-292 ; Gentleman's 
Magazine, vol. vi pp. 550, 682 ; vol. vii. pp. 513, 701, etc. 

1 The fact that, in seven years, only two (or three) licences had 
been taken out, was stated in the House of Lords by Lord Bathurst, 
on the authority of Burton, a Commissioner of Excise (Parliamentary 
History, vol. xii. pp. 1201, 1294). 


momentary tide of opinion in Parliament. 
Within a very few years it became evident that 
it had totally failed to suppress excessive 
gin-drinking. Though', the Government got no 
revenue either from licences or the duty on retail 
sales, the consumption was enormously increas- 
ing. " You can hardly pass along any street of 
this great city," said the Bishop of Salisbury in 
1743, " at any hour of the day, but you may see 
some poor creatures mad drunk with this liquor, 
and committing outrages in the street, or lying 
dead asleep upon bulks, or at the doors of empty 
houses. It is true we have not now those public 
and open scenes of wickedness and debauchery 
that appeared in every gin-shop before the 
making of the law . . . but the trade is carried 
on, though more privately, yet with as great 
excess as ever, and the reason we do not see 
more objects in streets is because most of 
them sleep out the dose in the private corner 
where they took it in." l 

"Every one knows," said Lord Bathurst, 
"that the 1736 Act did not diminish the con- 
sumption, nor prevent the excessive use of 
spirituous liquors. They were not, it is true, 
retailed publicly and avowedly, but they were 
clandestinely retailed in every coffee-house and 

1 Parliamentary History, 21st February 1743. 


alehouse, and in. many shops and private houses, 
so that the use and even the abuse of spiritu- 
ous liquors continued as frequent, though not 
so apparent, as before the Act was made ; 
and the consumption rather increased than 
diminished, as appears from the amount of the 
duty for these last two years." 1 

It is clear that the Act of 1736, as it stood, 
was of no use. To strengthen both the law and 
the administration in such a way as to make it 
really effective would have caused a diminution 
in the revenue. By 1748, the Government 
needed actually more revenue, and was in no 
mood to dispense with any. It therefore 
brought forward a Bill which it had got drafted 
by Kent, one of the great distillers of the time. 2 
This measure repealed the 1736 Act, and adopted 
the policy ever since maintained in this country, 
namely,' the combination of revenue duties on 
the manufacture of spirits, with the licensing of 
retailers at a moderate annual fee under magis- 
terial supervision. This momentous reversal of 
policy " was hurried through the House of 
Commons with the utmost precipitation, and 
passed almost without the formality of a debate." 8 

1 Parlmmmitary History, 21st February 1743. 

a Ibid. vol. xii p. 1299. 

8 Lord ChostorJiolcTs speech, Parliamentary History, 21st February 


But in the House of Lords the enemies of 
Ministers rallied their forces, and they were 
powerfully aided by the whole bench of bishops. 
The debate which ensued happens to have been 
more fully recorded than, perhaps, any other 
parliamentary discussion of the century. 1 The 
Government urged that the Bill, though removing 
the virtual prohibition professedly imposed by 
the Act of 1736, would really diminish the 
consumption of spirituous liquors, by enabling it 
to be brought under control. " We find by 
experience/' said Lord Bathurst, " that we 
cannot absolutely prevent the retailing of such 
liquors. "What then are we to do? Does not 
common sense point out to us the most proper 
method, which is to allow their being publicly 
retailed, but to lay such a duty upon the still 
head and upon licences as, without amounting 
to a prohibition, will make them come so dear to 
the consumer, that the poor will not be able to 
launch out into an excessive use of them." 

1743 ; Memoirs of Kir Robert Walpoh, by W. Coxo (1798) ; History of 
Hhigland, by Lord Mahon (1839), vol. iii. ch. xxv. p. 213. 

1 Besides the general histories already cited, the student of this groat 
debate will consult Archbishop Secker'a Diary xmder 24th February 
1743, in his Works (1811) ; Ebenozor Timbcrland's History and 
Proceedings of the House of Lords (1744), vol. viii. ; Cobbott's 
Parliamentary History, which devotes no less thati 248 pages to the 
proceedings (vol. xii. pp. 1191-1439) ; the London Magazine, October 
1743 j and the Gentleman's Magazine, November 1743. 


The bishops, on the other hand, strenuously 
opposed the setting up of a traffic destructive 
alike of health and morality. They seem to 
have suggested as a remedy an increased strin- 
gency of the prohibitory law, and the exercise 
of greater care by the Justices in granting ale- 
house licences. " If," said the Bishop of Salis- 
bury, "Justices of Peace did their duty they 
would be much more cautious than they are in 
granting or continuing licences ; but they never 
did, they never will do, their duty in this 
respect. Do not we know that they never do 
refuse a licence to any one that is willing and 
able to pay for it ? Are there not now many 
notorious vile houses licensed as coffee-houses or 
alehouses? Do not we know that when such 
houses become a nuisance to the whole neigh- 
bourhood, it is with the utmost difficulty that 
the honest neighbours can prevail with the Jus- 
tices to take away the licence ? " 

Lord Ilervey, in opposing the Bill, endorsed 
this condemnation of the Justices, and urged that 
their lax ness was directly encouraged by the 
financial interest of the Government in multi- 
plying licences. "Originally," he said, "no 
licence was granted unless upon inquiry it was 
found that such a house was in that place really 
wanted for the convenience of the neighbour- 


hood. . . . But since the high duties and excises 
have been laid upon wines, and upon beer and 
ale, has such an inquiry ever been made ? Has 
not a licence been granted to every one that 
asked it? Has not the execution of our laws 
against drunkenness and tippling been most 
egregiously neglected? This, my Lords, will 
be the consequence of the duty now proposed to 
be laid on gin. The duty proposed is not near 
so high as to amount to a prohibition. ... It is 
not designed as such ; it is designed as a fund 
for bringing money into the King's exchequer, 
and therefore . . . the use of this commodity, 
and even the excessive use of it, will be encour- 
aged, or at least connived at by the King's 
Ministers, and by all those under their direc- 
tion. The Justices of Peace may, perhaps, for 
the first year or two refuse granting a licence to 
a house known to be designed to be made a gin- 
shop under the pretence of being a coffee-house 
or alehouse; but they will soon have private 
directions, and a licence will be granted to every 
one that desires it. ... I foresee that if you. 
again open gin-shops under the denomination of 
coffee-houses or alehouses, we shall presently 
have a new deluge of all those calamities whicK 
were so severely felt, and so much complained o~ 
in the year 1736." 


It is needless to add that, notwithstanding 
the zeal and fervour of the bishops, and the 
eloquence of the noble opponents of the new 
administration, the new Prime Minister got his 
way. The Bill of 1743 passed into law. 1 The 
retail licence duty was reduced from 50 to 1, 
and the prohibitive duty of 20s. per gallon 
on retail sales was abolished, whilst the very 
moderate duty then levied on the manufacture 
was only slightly increased. 2 

These incessant and revolutionary interfer- 
ences by Parliament with the regulation of the 
liquor traffic between 1690 and 1743 absolve, 
we think, the Justices of the Peace from any con- 
siderable responsibility for the outburst of bestial 
drunkenness and brutal disorder that charac- 
terised the first decades of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. But it is clear that neither in London 
nor in the country did they show any zeal or 
efficiency in exercising the powers which they 
possessed. Alehouses, which were exclusively 
under their jurisdiction, were greatly multiplied 
in number. All this time, moreover, the laws 

1 16 George II. c. 8 (1743). 

2 In 1747 there was, for reasons unknown to us, a temporary 
departure from tMs policy, in that distillers were allowed to retail 
without magisterial licence. This led to abuses, stigmatised by H. 
Fielding in his Inquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of JZobbers 
(1748), and to the total prohibition of distillers to retail, even with 
a licence, in 1751. 



against " continuing drinking' 7 or " tippling" 
were in fall force, and the' Justices were expressly 
required to see that the victuallers whom they 
licensed prevented any such " continuing drink- 
ing, and maintained good order in their houses." 
Yet we do not hear of any withdrawal of licences 
for misconduct, or the suppression of unnecessary 
drinking places. From 1701 onward, as we have 
seen, the law, though subject to large exceptions, 
required the ordinary " dram-shops " and " punch- 
houses" to be licensed, and the indiscriminate 
retailing of spirits was plainly illegal ; but there 
is no indication in Hogarth's " Gin Lane " of any 
interference by the Justices or the constables. 1 
To induce the vendors of spirituous liquors to 
take out a licence was, no doubt, in the contem- 
porary anarchy, a difficult and unpleasant task. 

1 Yet even the Middlesex Justices could be particular enough if 
they chose. "One of the curious sights of the year 1717," writes 
Dr. Doran, " was the assembling by summons of a thousand Middle- 
sex tavern-keepers in front of Hicks' Hall, where announcement was 
made to them that in future no licence would be granted save to 
those who had taken the oath of allegiance before the Justices of the 
various parishes'* (London m Jacobite Times, by Dr. Doran, 1877, 
vol. i. p. 288). So in 1745, a critical year, we read that the magis- 
trates for the division of St. George's, Hanover Square, in petty 
sessions, resolved "that for the future no persons that are Roman 
Catholics, or others who shall refuse to take the oaths of allegiance 
and supremacy, be admitted to have licences in this parish. That 
all persons that shall hereafter apply for new licences do first take 
the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and repeat the declaration 
against transubstantiation " (MS. Minutes, Petty Sessions, St. 
George's, Hanover Square (Middlesex), 5th October 1745). 


" When a Justice of the Peace/' we are told, 
" meets with inferior officers of courage and 
intrepidity, and sets about a reformation of the 
unlicensed houses, he finds himself surrounded 
with numbers of pettifogging attorneys and 
solicitors who watch his steps, and if there 
happens to be the least flaw in the method of 
drawing up and managing the several proceed- 
ings, he finds himself obliged to attend a cer- 
tiorari in the King's Bench, where, failing in 
some circumstance, the whole proceedings are 
quashed, and the magistrate, who has been at 
great expense, has the mortification to see the 
impudent fellow triumph over him and increase 
his iniquitous trade." l The committee of 
Middlesex magistrates which reported to Quarter 
Sessions in 1736, may well have been " firmly 
persuaded that there has been great negligence 
and remissness in several of the officers in this 
occasion," seeing that they discovered that nearly 
half the constables whom they employed were 
themselves retailers of spirituous liquors. " While 
all other tradesmen endeavour to get excused 
from serving the office of constable, the dealers 
in Geneva court the office, whence they infer 
that the constables find their account in encour- 

1 Distilled Liquors the Bam of the Nation (1736), p. viii. (p. 180 
of Add. MSS. 27825). 



aging the commission of vices and crimes." The 
net result was that in 1736 this committee 
reported the existence, not only of almost in- 
numerable cases in which spirits were clandes- 
tinely sold in cellars, garrets, and backyards, 
but, in the metropolitan parishes alone (exclud- 
ing the city of London and Southwark), of no 
fewer than 2105 open and regular retailers who 
kept dram-shops without being licensed, as com- 
pared with 4939 holders of licences ; and that 
these had formed a common fund to defend them- 
selves against the prosecutions which the Justices 
were afraid to institute. The licensing powers 
of the Justices, as well as the laws of Parliament, 
were, in fact, simply set at defiance. 

In this dilemma Parliament seems to have 
found no alternative to the policy of throwing 
all responsibility upon the Justices of the Peace. 
The ten years which succeeded the main Act of 
1743 witnessed a series of minor reforms, all 
directed towards making more effective the Jus- 
; tices' authority. Licences were to be granted 

only at the annual " Brewster Sessions," specially 
summoned for the purpose, and at no other 
time; 1 the procedure as to the transfer of 
licensed houses was systematically regulated; 2 

* 26 George II. c. 31. 
2 26 Gteorge II. c. 31 and 29 Gteorge II. c. 12. 


no Justice who was himself a brewer or distiller 
could take part in granting a licence ; l the fee 
of the Justice's clerk was expressly restricted to 
half a crown, 2 whilst the Government stamp was 
raised to a guinea. 3 No licence was to be granted 
to any person but the keeper of a house of public 
refreshment for that house only ; 4 and the 
licensee was not allowed to carry on the trade 
of grocer or chandler, or that of a distiller, or to 
keep a "brandy shop." 5 As some guarantee 
that the premises were of sufficient size, they 
had (if spirits were to be sold as well as beer) 
to be rated to the poor rate, and in London to 
be of at least 12 rental or ,10 ratable value. 6 
The licensee had not only to enter into his own 
recognisances for good behaviour, but had also 
to furnish two sureties for the same. 7 More- 
over, no new licence was to be granted outside 
London and the corporate towns, except on the 
certificate of the incumbent and churchwardens 
of the parish, or of three or four substantial 
householders therein, that the applicant was " of 
good fame and sober life and conversation." 8 

1 26 George II. e. 31 c. 13, sec. 11. 
2 24 George II. c. 40. 3 29 George II. c. 12. 
4 17 George II. c. 17, c. 19. 5 17 George II. c. 17, c. 19. 
6 24 George II. c. 40 ; 26 George II. c. 13. 

7 26 George II. c. 31, sec. 1. 

8 26 George II. c. 31, sec. 16. 


Finally, in order to strengthen the hands of the 
Justices, the procedure relating to their proceed- 
ing against defaulting publicans was simplified 
and defined ; * they were protected against writs 
of certiorari and actions for damages, and they 
were given summary powers of search and dis- 
covery. 2 From 1753 onward, at any rate, the 
Justices had in their uncontrolled discretion to 
grant or refuse a licence, and in the crushing 
penalties against unlicensed sellers, an almost 
unlimited power of confining the drink traffic 
within legitimate bounds. 3 

During the decades immediately following 
the legislation of 1743-53, the Justices seem to 

1 26 George II. c. 31, sec. 7, 8 ; 28 George II. c. 19. 

2 24 George II. c. 40, and 26 George II. c. 31, sec. 9. 

3 Trustworthy statistics of the consumption of spirits cannot be 
given, owing to the varying prevalence of illicit distilling, and the 
uncertainty as to the amount smuggled from other countries. For 
the first half of the eighteenth century the statistics of the amount 
of British spirits charged with duty seem to have, at any rate, some 
significance. The records begin in 1684, when the total was only 
527,492 gallons, and it did not reach a million until 1696. It then 
rose rapidly to 2,200,721 in 1710, 3,879,695 in 1722, 4,612,275 in 
1727, and 6,074,562 in 1734, the known production being thus at the 
latter date about one gallon per head of the estimated population of 
England. The first Gin Act of 1729-33 effected no reduction at 
all. The second, of 1736-43, caused the amount to fall off for the 
first three years only, the increase for the last four years of its opera- 
tion being at a greater rate than before. This was again checked by 
the Acts of 1751 and 1753, when the total amount fell from 7,049,822 
gallons in 1751 to only 4,483,341 in 1752, and to 1,849,370 in 1758 

v | (see the tables in First Report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, 

| 1857, Appendix, Ho. 19). 


have set themselves to carry out the spirit of 
Walpole's Act, by aiming at licensing the sale of 
alcoholic liquors rather than restricting, or even 
controlling it. Gradually, with many prosecu- 
tions, the indiscriminate sale of liquor in London 
and Westminster was put down, but only at the 
cost of steadily increasing the number of licensed 
houses, and allowing them to remain practically 
unregulated. 1 In 1750 we learn that "7000 
out of 12,000 quarters of wheat sold in the 
London markets per week were converted into 
spirituous liquors . . . and there were 500 out 
of 2000 houses in the parish of St. Giles-in- 
the-Field open for" their sale. 2 "The suburbs 
of the Metropolis/ 7 writes Smollett of 1752, 
" abounded with an incredible number of public- 
houses, which continually resounded with the 
noise of riot and intemperance ; they were the 
haunts of idleness, fraud, and rapine, and the 
seminaries of drunkenness, debauchery, extrava- 
gance, and every vice incident to human 
nature." 3 In contrast with the drastic "articles" 

1 "In 1750 the following is given as an authentic account of the 
proportion of (drink shops) ... in the City of London one to every 
fifteen houses ; in "Westminster one to every eight dwellings ; in 
Holborn district one to every five ; and in St. Giles above one to 
every four houses " (History of the Temperance Movement, by Samuel 
Couling (1862), p. 19). 

2 Gentleman's Magazine, January 1760, p. 21. 

3 History of England, by T. Smollett, ch. xxii. vol. iii. p. 81 of 
1848 edition. 


enforced by the Justices under James the First, 
those who were commissioned by George the 
Third made, for the first twenty years of his 
reign, absolutely no attempt to enforce the laws 
against tippling, or to stop drinking during 
divine service on Sunday, or to prescribe any 
hours of closing, or even to require the obser- 
vance of the most elementary decency. The 
overgrown parishes of the metropolitan area 
became specially notorious for their gin-shops 
and night-houses. 1 "In many parts 77 (of the 
Metropolis), writes a reviewer of 1759, "par- 
ticularly in Chelsea, every house, comparatively 
speaking, is a public-house." 2 In Westminster, 
in spite of an unrepealed order of 1585, by 
which the High Steward and Burgesses had 
ordained that there should be "one hundred 
common alehouses and no more 77 within the 
city and liberties, there were in 1770 no fewer 

1 "These * night-houses ' were kept open the whole night, pro- 
fessedly for the purpose of receiving all manner of persons who think 
proper to resort to them ; where every one is permitted to sit tippling 
and gambling the whole night apprentices, journeymen, family 
servants, known thieves, the most abandoned prostitutes, all 
assemble and mix together" (Address by W. Mainwaring to the 
Middlesex Grand Jury, 12th September 1785 ; see Chelmsford 
Chronicle, 21st April 1786). 

2 Monthly Review, December 1759, vol. xxi. p. 575, in a notice of 
a pamphlet entitled The Number of Alehouses shown to be extremely 
Pernicious to the Publick by the Vicar of S. in Kent, 1758, This little 
work, which is signed R, C., is by the vicar of a small rural parish. 


than two thousand. 1 Loud and frequent are 
the complaints of the obvious partiality and 
corrupt laxity of the Middlesex magistrates, 
" men of profligate lives, needy, mean, ignorant 
and rapacious/' Smollet calls them, in all that 
concerned licensing. 2 

The magistrates of the other counties and 
municipal boroughs, though free from the gross 
and unashamed corruption of the " trading 
Justices" of Middlesex, seem to have been, 
between 1729 and 1786, hardly less negligent in 
the performance of the duties which Parliament 
had cast upon them. In most parts of the 
country it became, apparently, easy to get an 
alehouse licence, and we hear on all sides that 

1 A Brief Account of the Powers given to and Exercised ly the 
Burgess Court of Westminster, by An Inhabitant of Westminster 
(n.d. 1770?), p. 12. 

2 The disreputable public-houses in St. Luke's parish, in spite of 
the laws against tippling and drinking during divine service, had 
" benches set at the doors " on Sundays to accommodate their crowds 
of customers. " And do not the churchwardens and Justices," asks 
an indignant critic in 1782, " see many wallowing in the streets who 
have been harboured all night at the houses alluded to ? Why not 
severely fine the occupiers of these houses for such conduct ; and if 
that does not remove the evil, you are justified in preventing their 
ever being again licensed. The time of renewing licences is now near 
at hand. You are hereby publicly called on to remove the evil. You 
as managers of the aifairs of this parish can, with propriety, and 
without any partiality, remove that which individuals cannot, and 
by complying with which you will gain the approbation of every 
peaceable inhabitant" (Gazetteer, 2nd August 1782 ; and again to the 
same effect, 19th February 1782). 


the number of " little alehouses, those nurseries 
of highwaymen, street robbers, housebreakers," 
etc., 1 was enormously increased. 2 The character- 
istic desire of the eighteenth century governing 
class to extract revenue out of the evil propen- 
sities of the population s had, as Lord Hervey 
predicted in 1743, seriously infected the licensing 
work of the Justices. " We are unhappily fallen," 
said the Gentleman's Magazine already in 1739, 
" into a way of raising great part of the public 
and civil list revenue on malt, beer, wine, etc., 
the consumption of which, and consequently the 
revenue, is mightily increased by the vices of 
the people. This naturally stops the current of 
justice, and is an over -ruling argument with 

1 See, for instance, the correspondent to the London Magazine, 
ilarch 1758 (vol. xxvii. p. 135). 

2 "I live in a country village," says a -writer in 1751, "and we 
have six common stews or alehouses ; they brew near 130 quarters of 
malt in the year. Our farmers drink but little, our day-labourers 
drink less ; the consumption is chiefly by our weavers and combers " 
(Gentleman's Magazine, May 1751, p. 206). 

3 The use made of lotteries is one example of this desire. Nor 
was it altogether in jest that a writer, in 1732, proposed that the 
National Debt should be paid by a tax on each particular vice. 
"Drunkenness he taxes at sixpence, and supposing only 20,000 
persons daily liable to be taxed, the amount would be 500 per day. 
This is a moderate computation if one considers that, besides the 
usual opportunities of taverns and private houses, there are elections, 
fairs, mayors' feasts, university treats, corporation dinners, Christmas 
regals, weddings, and christenings ; but would exempt county 

""I Justices and parsons, not willing they should be insulted by inferior 

4 *' officers " (Read's Journal, 22nd January 1732, quoted in Gentleman's 

Magazine, January 1732). 


avaricious ministers and falsely loyal magistrates, 
not to exert themselves, according to their duty, 
to nip the first buddings of vicious, disorderly 
spirits. Hence the innumerable alehouses with 
which England abounds ; hence the non-execu- 
tion of so many good laws against tippling 
houses. ... To this may be added a supine 
neglect of duty too apparent in many magis- 
trates, who seem to have little sense of the 
concatenation of vicious habits and unruly 
actions with each other, and over some of whom 
the large fees for warrants, licences, mittimuses, 
orders, etc., into their clerk's, or their own 
pockets, may reasonably be supposed to have 
some little influence. Within these two years I 
was at a session held at a trading town in Wilts 
for licensing alehouses, where there were seven 
Justices, one of whose clerks told me with an air 
of gladness that his share came to between three 
and four pounds." l 

Nor were the brewers and distillers idle in 
the promotion of the trade. They are "not 
contented," says a writer in 1773, "with such 
trade and gain as might fairly and spontaneously 
arise/' and " are known to buy up paltry houses 
and settle retailers in every little parish, as well 
as in every town and city, and for fear there 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, March 1739, p. 124. 


should be a place in the kingdom exempt from 
their advantage, we have scarce a village with- 
out some of their cottages and huts, where 
servants and labourers, inferior tradesmen and 
handicraftsmen, young people and old, are 
secreted and allured by various sports, pastimes, 
and fooleries, till, intoxicated with every mixture 
that can tempt the palate or drain the pocket, 
they swallow in like swine the filth of debauchery, 
and are a disgrace to our laws and a reproach to 
human nature/' 1 

Avarice, whether public or private, was, it is 
hardly necessary to say, not the only influence at 
work on the mind of the licensing Justices ; there 
was also the charitable desire to help poor people 
to get a living. The evil multiplication of 
"petty alehouses," says a writer in 1766, 
" arises from a mistaken notion in many re- 
putable people in different parishes, who think 
that, by signing certificates to the Justices to 
obtain licences for some needy persons, they 
thereby keep them off the poor rate, and prevent 
their being troublesome to the parish." . . . 
The situation of these little public-houses is 
commonly on the side of a common ... or 
some such, place, and being out of the public 
road, of course are of no service in accommodating 

1 M&nthty JRei)iew t January 1773, vol. xlviii p. 20. 


travellers. The chief support, therefore, of the 
occupiers of them arises from their harbouring 
and entertaining poachers, as well as others who 
pursue indirect practices, and also from enticing 
labouring men to loiter their time and spend their 
money with them." l Nor were things any better 
in the corporate boroughs. The little town of 
Woodstock (Oxfordshire), for instance, which 
cannot, at the middle of the eighteenth century, 
have had more than a thousand inhabitants 

1 London Chronicle, 26tlx-28th Juno 1766. 

The laxity of the Justices in granting too many licences is strongly 
animadverted on in The Number of Alehouses shown to be extremely 
Pernicious to the, PulUck, by the Vicar of S. in Kent (signed E. C. ), 

We do not know how far the following lively picture of a licensing 
sessions in 1754 may he accepted as typical. At "the Brewster 
sessions at Bray in Northungria " five Justices arc represented as 
being present. " Mrs. Drab " comes in to apply for a renewal of her 
licence ; she bringu a certificate signed by some of her neighbours, 
certifying that " Mrs. Drab of the Hound keeps a very regular and 
orderly house ; and that we have been often entertained there with 
much pleasure, wit and humour ; and desire that her licence may be 
renewed ; for wo cannot live without her and hers." 

Sir John Bear "Tho Hound lies in my neighbourhood. I 
wish there was never a liound near me ; it debauches my servants. 
I could give many reasons why she ought not to have a licence." Mr. 
J. Lock then refers to " irregularities committed at the house in 
April" and "shameful doings in May and June," and "infamous 
revels in August." Other objections are made, 

Tho Chairman "Horn! hem! There are two Justices required 
to the granting every licence by the statute. Brother Friar, yon and 
I must sign it Tho woman must not be undone, nor the excise 
diminished. Tho house draws a great deal of ale, and pays a round 
sum into the office." (They sign the licence). Gentleman's 
Magazine, October 1754. 


always had over a score of alehouses. 1 In 
wide area of the borough of Leeds, which eoverecl 
twenty square miles of country, the terrible 
increase in the " nightly depredations committee! 
in the town and neighbourhood" is, in 1786* 
attributed largely to " the immense multitude of 
the lower sort of alehouses within the borough- . 
. . . They are too numerous to enable their 
inhabitants to gain a livelihood by fair and 
honourable means. In one village not far froncL 
Leeds . . . their number is between thirty and 
forty. . . . These little pothouses . . . are tho 
rendezvous of these nocturnal villains, whero 
they plan their depredations, and where not un- 
frequently they divide their spoil. 7 ' 2 All the 
keepers of these alehouses and gin shops, these 
haunts of criminals and " night-houses," it must) 
be remembered, had entered into elaborate re- 
cognisances for good behaviour and came up 
annually for a renewal of their licences. The 

1 Minutes of { Portmouth. Court" and " Acts'* of the Town. 
Council ; see Chronicles of Woodstock, by A. Ballard (Oxford, 1896). 
Occasionally the granting of new licences in corporate towns was 
checked by the Influence in the corporations of local brewers, who did 
not want the business of their own licence-holders competed with. 
Snch a case certainly occurred at Canterbury (Kent) ; see Charters 
Destructive to Liberty and Property, by Thomas Koch (1776), pp. 
85-93. But the testimony of the Municipal Corporation Com- 
missioners in 1835 leads us to think that such influences were not 

3 Leeds Intelligencer, 25th April 1786. 


remissness of the Justices in neglecting their 
powers of control was as complete and universal 
as their laxness in granting licences. The 
recognisances and surety bonds and certificates 
became mere meaningless formalities. 1 In one 
county, at any rate that of Durham the 
''practice . . . had long prevailed of signing 
blank licences, and leaving them to be filled up 
at the discretion of the Clerk of the Peace." 2 

1 Here is a description of the recognisances at the latter part of 
the eighteenth century : " On every day of licensing the Clerk of 
the Peace or his deputy attends the meeting of the Justices of the 
Peace, and upon a large roll takes a recognisance of the alehouse- 
keeper, -who produces any sureties without enquiry "being made into 
their circumstances upon oath (which I admit the statute doth not 
empower the Justices to do), and for this he, the Clerk of the Peace, 
receives twelve pence, which I am sorry to say is the only advantage 
arises to any one from these recognisances, and then the roll is carried 
to the Clerk of the Peace office and never heard of after . . . and 
hereby is this statute of King Edward VI. evaded" (Serious Thoughts 
in Regard to the Piibliclt Disorders, by a County Justice of the Peace 
(n.d.), pp. 14, 15). 

2 Paley, when rector of Bishop Wearmouth and a Justice of the 
Peace, induced the Justices to abandon this lax practice (see Memoirs 
of William Paley, D.D., by George Wilson ileadley (Edinburgh, 
1810), p. 192). 

It is unfortunately impossible to give statistics of any significance 
as to the increase of licences, and the amount of consumption during 
this period. Ko statistics as to the total number of alehouse licences 
were obtained until 1810, when the stamp on the licence was re- 
placed by an excise duty (by 48 George III. c. 143 of 1808). There 
were said to be 40,000 in 1773, for a population which probably did 
not then reach eight millions (Monthly Review, Jan. 1773, vol. 
xlviii. p. 20) ; but this was far within the mark. 

The number of spirit licences is known, and it is significant that 
this rose from 22,821 in 1744 to no fewer than 37,172 in 1779 a high- 
water mark not again reached, in spite of the enormous growth of 


population until 1811 (see Appendix 32a to First Eeport of Com- 
missioners of Inland Revenue, 1857). In this period there was so 
much illicit distilling, private brewing, and smuggling of foreign 
spirits that the revenue statistics afford no guide to the total con- 
sumption. The statistics of malt and British spirits charged for 
duty between 1758 and 1784 show a fairly stationary taxed pro- 
duction ; for beer somewhat less than in 1716-27 ; for spirits only a 
third of the swollen totals of 1734-51 (see the tables in Appendices 
Nos. 19 and 20 of First Keport of Commissioners of Inland Revenue, 



WE come now to the most remarkable episode 
in the whole history of public-house licensing 
in England, the sudden and almost universal 
adoption by county and borough benches of a 
policy of restriction and regulation, lasting, in a 
systematic and self-conscious form, only for half 
a dozen years, but surviving in most of the 
counties as an ideal, and to some extent as a 
governing principle, right" down to the adoption 
of Free Trade in Beer by the Parliament of 
1830. This episode, which has, so far as we 
know, never been described, 1 included the 
deliberate and systematic adoption, by benches 
of magistrates in different parts of the country, 
of such modern devices as Early Closing, Sunday 

1 We have found no mention of it in the voluminous literature of 
the temperance movement, so far as we have examined it ; and we 
are not aware of any case in which it has been cited in the various 
Parliamentary inquiries from 1817 to 1900. 

49 E 


Closing, the Refusal of New Licences, the With- 
drawal of Licences from badly conducted houses, 
the peremptory closing of a proportion of houses 
in a district over-supplied with licences, and in 
some remarkable instances, even the establish- 
ment of a system of Local Option or Local Veto, 
both as regards the opening of new public-houses 
and the closing of those already in existence, all 
without the slightest idea of compensation. As 
this reform movement was not only important in 
itself, but is of special interest in our own day, 
we propose, principally by means of extracts 
from contemporary sources, to describe it at 
some length. 

"We have elsewhere 1 described the powerful 
movement for the reformation of the manners 
and niorals of the lower orders which was in- 
augurated by Zouch and Wilberforce in 1786-87, 
cordially endorsed by the pious king, and sup- 
ported by the whole governing class. This 
movement came, as we pointed out, from several 
distinct but converging currents of public 
opinion the new-found Evangelical zeal for 
saving men's souls, the growing dislike of the 
propertied class of the insecurity of life and 
property, the alarm both of the financier and the 
ratepayer at the increasing burden of the poor 

1 See Appendix, pp. 137-151. 


rate, and last but not, we think, least, the half- 
conscious desire of the rising class of industrial 
capitalists to drive the manual workers out of 
the alehouse and gin-shop into the factory and 
workshop. Such being the influences at work, it 
is not surprising that the most signal and durable 
manifestation of the movement should have been 
a strenuous attempt to restrict the temptations 
to, and the opportunities for, licentious conduct, 
disorderly gatherings, wasteful expenditure and 
idle hours, which an unlimited supply of un- 
regulated public-houses afforded to the lower 
orders. 1 

The first indication of the movement came 
from the heart of the new manufacturing dis- 
tricts. 2 The high earnings of certain classes of 

1 " That many (alehouses) are opened without any licence at all ; 
that many are improperly licensed, being more in number than are 
necessary ; and being in situations very dangerous and remote from 
the public eye ; and that very many of those which are licensed are 
irregularly conducted, are facts which no one will venture to 
contradict " (Narrative of Proceedings tending towards a National 
Reformation, 1787, p. 5). 

2 Individual magistrates up and down the country had for some 
time been suggesting the propriety of restriction. Thus, in a 
pamphlet entitled Thoughts on the Great Circumspection necessary 
in Licensing Public Nouses, a country Justice of 1777 earnestly 
exhorts his brother magistrates not to licence any but absolutely 
necessary alehouses, to make "the most strict and impartial 
inquisition" into their conduct, and "to exercise with unremitting 
vigour the power entrusted with them," and "to lay the axe to the 
root of an enormous and growing evil " (see Monthly Review^ Nov. 
1777, vol. Ivii. p. 408). 


operatives in the new textile and iron manu- 
factures liad led to a pandemonium of hard 
drinking and brutal amusements. We find the 
Lancashire Justices in Quarter Sessions in 1782 
giving public notice that, " whereas divers inn- 
keepers within the said county have for some 
time past made a common practice of suffering 
great numbers of ill-disposed persons to assemble 
at their houses and fight cocks, to the great im- 
poverishing of themselves and their families, and 
to the great encouragement of vice, ... in 
future no licences will be granted to any . . . 
who shall encourage, connive at, or suffer the 
fighting of cocks at or in their houses, outhouses, 
or grounds, and that the magistrates . . . are 
determined to prosecute and punish all such 
persons." l Presently, fiscal changes gave a great 
stimulus to the drinking habits of the new 
manufacturing population. The manufacture of 
British spirits, which had remained for five~and- 
twenty years at a relatively low level, and had 
even drooped under the heavy war taxes of 
1780-85, suddenly bounded up in 1785, on the 
reduction of the duty, and rose to double 
its accustomed amount. 2 It is not without 

1 Lancashire Quarter Sessions, Easter 1782 (see Manchester 
Mercury, 28th May 1782). 

2 See the statistics in Appendix No. 19 of First Report of Com- 
missioners of Inland Revenue, 1857. 


significance that, in 1786, the "West Riding Justices 
found themselves driven to consider seriously the 
condition of the county, and that they incorpor- 
ated in their general scheme of reforms of 
"police" strict rules with regard to licensing. 
A general reduction in the number of public- 
houses was, they stated, eminently desirable. 
In the meantime, they gave notice that all 
publicans offending against the law would have 
their licences withdrawn and their recognisances 
estreated. 1 That this was no empty threat was 
proved at the next Brewster Sessions at Barnsley, 
where " the licences of several alehouse-keepers 
were stopped, who had entertained tipplers, 
particularly on Sundays, and encouraged cock- 
ings, bull-baitings, bear-baitings, etc." 2 The 
Royal Proclamation against vice and immorality, 
issued at the instance of Wilberforce early in 
1787, and sent by the Home Secretary to every 
bench of magistrates, set going a national move- 
ment in the same direction. Throughout the 
next two or three years we find recorded in every 
provincial newspaper from one end of the king- 
dom to the other the repeated discussions and 
elaborate resolutions of the county Justices as to 
the evils which, neglect had produced, and the 

1 West Riding Quarter Sessions, Eastor 1786 (soo Leeds Intelli- 
gencer, 16th May 1786). 

2 Leeds Intelligencer, 19tli September 1786. 


way to remedy them. Each county recognised 
that too many alehouses had been licensed, and 
that these " swarms of petty pothouses" had, 
from lack of regulation and supervision, become 
" haunts of idleness," " nurseries of sottishness," 
and " seminaries of crime." Practically, every 
county resolved to insist on a strict observ- 
ance of the laws against allowing gaming or 
cock-fighting on licensed premises, tippling 
during divine service, and the harbouring of 
vagrants. Everywhere the constables were 
incited to more diligent supervision, 1 and the 
ministers and churchwardens were urged to 
greater care in signing certificates in support of 
new licences, and to be prompt to report any 
misconduct of the alehouse - keepers already 
licensed. But in many counties the Justices went 
much further, and prescribed for themselves in 
Brewster Sessions rules of action, and for the 
publicans conditions of licensing, which not only 
revived the " articles " enforced by the Justices 
under James L, but even anticipated nearly all 
the suggestions of modern temperance reformers. 

1 The effect of the 1787 proclamation in stirring up the then Mayor 
of Leeds to an active enforcement of the law is described in the Life 
of William Hey, hy John Pearson (1822), pp. 109-131. The Mayor's 
campaign against the liquor-sellers led to a great outcry, and several 
vexatious actions were instituted against him and his constables by 
aggrieved publicans. 


To begin with the Justices' own action, we see 
them putting the procedure of granting the 
licence, and the relation to the publican of the 
local constable, on a more satisfactory footing. 
The Surrey Justices resolved " that licences re- 
fused at any or either of these meetings shall 
not be granted at any other time or place 
without the consent of the majority of the 
Justices present at the time of such refusal. 77 
They went on to prohibit skittle grounds and 
billiard tables, and to determine that houses 
shut up on account of disorders suffered therein 
should not be re-licensed for the ensuing year, 
arid that whenever a mere dram-shop became 
vacant by death or removal of the occupier, its 
licence should lapse for ever. 1 

The Justices of the Northern Division of the 
Lath of Aylesford, Kent, gave public notice that 
" if any information shall be given, to the said 
Justices on or before the licensing clay, of any 
irregularities committed or encouraged at any 
alehouse within the said Division, such as per- 
mitting the playing at cards, skittles, or any 
other game prohibited by law to be there 
used ; suffering tippling, especially on Sundays 
during the time of divine service ; keeping late 

1 Surrey Quarter Sessions (seo PuUic Advertiser, 17th August 


and irregular hours, and entertaining night 
customers," they would not only stop the 
licence, but would also cause proceedings to be 
taken to estreat the recognisances. 1 

It was ordered in various counties that no 
publican should henceforth be " appointed either 
high or petty constable/ 7 2 nor accepted as surety 
for another applicant for a licence ; 3 nor was 
any " beadle " or "other parochial servant "to 
be allowed to act in that capacity. 4 On the 

1 Kentish Gazette, 10th August 1787. This notice seems to have 
arisen from the charge to the grand jury of the chairman of Quarter 
Sessions at Maidstone, in which, replying to the question, " Why are 
not these houses suppressed ? " declared that magistrates could not 
act without formal information being laid before them (Kentish 
Gazette, 20th July 1787) a confusion of mind between their judicial 
character and the essentially administrative duties cast upon them 
in licensing which goes far to explain their failure. "I take upon 
me to say," he continued, "that the magistrates have not been 
remiss. I cannot recollect an instance where a proper information 
has been given and it has not been attended to. Magistrates, I will 
allow, have been merciful, and if that be a fault. His Majesty's 
proclamation has now set a keener edge on the sword of justice." 

2 Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 (see Bristol 
Journal, 15th September 1787). Licensed victuallers had been 
expressly disqualified to be constables in Westminster by the Local 
Act, 29 George II. c. 25 (1756). The adoption. of a similar rule by 
the Justices elsewhere, "numberless inconveniences having been 
found to arise from such appointment/' is recommended in The 
Whole Duty of Constables, by an acting magistrate of the county of 
Norfolk (Norwich, 1810), p. vii. 

3 Justices for the Bampton Division of Oxfordshire (see Jackson's 
Oxford Journal, 18th August 1787) ; Justices for the City of Oxford 
(ibid. 12th April 1788). 

4 Surrey Quarter Sessions (see Public Advertiser, 17th August 


otter hand, tlae Wiltshire magistrates in the 
Salisbury Division hit upon the idea that " com- 
mon brewers, being the owners of public-houses, 
should be themselves securities for the good 
conduct of their tenants/' 1 Many benches 
adopted a formal resolution to grant no " new 
licence to any public-house but where the con- 
venience of the public absolutely required it " ; 2 
or " excepting the case where some other house 
in the same parish or place shall have been 
suppressed within the preceding twelve months" ; s 
or "until the present number shall have been 
considerably reduced, 4 or for any house " situate 
upon the skirts or outparts of any village/' 5 or 
to any person intending to set up a dram-shop, 6 
and in any case to insist on four weeks' notice 
prior to the Brewster Sessions, in order to enable 
inquiries to be made. 7 The Nottinghamshire 

1 Justices for the Salisbury Division of Wilts (see Bristol Journal, 
29th September 1787). 

2 For instance, Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 
(see Bristol Journal, 15th September 1787). 

3 Suffolk Quarter Sessions (see Ipswich Journal, 1st September 
1787); Essex Quarter Sessions, 23rd July 1787 (see Chelmsford 
Chronicle, 27th July 1787). 

4 West Riding Quarter Sessions 3 16th April 1787 (see Leeds 
Intelligencer, 1st May 1787). 

5 Nottinghamshire Quarter Sessions (see Nottingham Journal, 
21st July 1787). 

6 West Riding Quarter Sessions (see Leeds Intelligencer, 16th May 
1786) ; Surrey Quarter Sessions (see Pullic Advertiser, 17th August 

7 West Riding Quarter Sessions (see Leeds Intelligencer, 16th May 


Justices declared their intention of refusing to 
grant a spirit licence to any person who did 
" not sell any wine, chocolate, coffee, tea, ale, 
beer, or other liquors/' 1 The Essex Justices 
made up their minds, " with mild firmness . . . 
gradually at least, to licence no alehouses 
occupied by persons carrying on some other 
business ; to lessen the number, so as to make 
each the means of a decent support to a worthy 
family and consequently a heavy loss to be 
forfeited by an omission of the conditions on 
which such a beneficial licence is granted; and 
to receive no certificate of recommendation of 
character for licence unless signed, together with 
the other inhabitants, by the officiating minister 
of the parish, if resident in the same/ 7 2 The 
magistrates of the borough of Leeds resolved in 
1790 that they would " not on any account, 
or upon any solicitations whatever, grant any 
licence for the opening any other house as an 
alehouse than those that are at present licensed ; 

1786). It became customary for the magistrates to notify, by public 
advertisement prior to each Brewster Sessions, that they invited 
complaints or information from any person as to misconduct com- 
mitted by any licence-holder. See, for instance, Public Advertiser, 
20th August 1787 ; Leeds Intelligencer, 27th April 1790, and 23rd 
April 1792. In 1792 (by 32 George III. c. 59) the Justices' consent 
was first required for the transfer of a licence. 

1 Nottinghamshire Quarter Sessions (see Nottingham Journal, 
21st July 1787). 

3 Ghelmsford Chronicle, 24th August 1787. 


and that as the keepers of such small alehouses 
in the borough either cease to keep public- 
houses, or remove out of the borough, or die, the 
magistrates are determined to reduce the present 
number of these houses. Any person or persons, 
therefore, purchasing a licence or licences, or 
entering upon any licensed public-house at any 
intermediate part of the year for which the 
licence is granted, will do the same at his or her 
peril of being refused a licence. " l 

But the Justices did more than refuse new 
licences, and forfeit those of publicans who had 
broken the law ; they, like their predecessors of 
two centuries before, used their power to insist 
on quite new conditions of carrying on the trade. 

In Newcastle-on-Tyne the alehouse-keepers 
were given " a printed copy of rules for their 
guidance, together with a printed copy of 
His Majesty's proclamation for preventing and 
punishing vice, profaneness, and immorality/' 
and the licences were declared to be void " upon 
breach of any one of the printed rules so 
delivered, " when the recognisances were also to 
be estreated; and every alehouse -keeper was 
expressly required "to keep the aforesaid two 

1 Borough Justices' Meeting, 3rd May 1790 (see Leeds Intelligencer, 
llth May 1790). This resolution was repeated two years later (ibid. 
18th June 1792). 


printed copies constantly hanging up, either in 
frames or pasted on boards, in the most proper 
and conspicuous place in Ms or her house, where 
all persons resorting to the house may read the 
same." l What these conditions were we learn 
in other cases. In many counties the Justices 
made it a condition of all licences that the public- 
houses should be closed at nine o'clock in winter 
and ten o'clock in summer. 2 At Leeds, the 
Borough Justices fixed ten o'clock as the closing 
hour all the year round. 3 More or less Sunday 
closing became the rule everywhere out of 
London. The publicans in Manchester "had 
notice that no liquor must be sold before noon 
on Sundays"; 4 whilst those of Gloucestershire 

1 Ipsirich Journal, 24th May 1788. 

2 Oxford Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 (see Bristol Journal, 
15th September 1787) ; Berkshire Quarter Sessions (see Northampton 
Mercury, 8th September 1787 ; Leeds Intelligencer, 18th September 
1787) ; Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions (see Bristol Gazette, 24th 
January 1788). 

3 Borough Justices' Meeting, 3rd May 1792 (see Leeds Intelligencer, 
18th June 1792). At Derby no closing time seems to have been 
fixed until 1799, and then only for Saturdays, when all public-houses 
were directed to close at 11 P.M. (see Derby Mercury, 21st November 
1799). The Mayor of Plymouth printed a handbill in 1809, warning 
licensed victuallers that they must close at 10 P.M., and must not 
allow persons to remain tippling, or serve night-watchmen (IFol. 
Misc. Papers, 1800 to 1835, p. 53, in Plymouth Corporation MS. 

4 Bristol Journal, 22nd September 1787. At Stockport there was 
a similar prohibition up to half-past twelve (Keport of House of 
Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 238). 


were directed not to serve on Sundays any one 
but travellers " until after the evening service/' 
and then only up to eight o'clock. 1 In other 
counties all houses of public entertainment were 
to cease selling drink during the hours of divine 
service, during which time no one was to be 
received or remain in such houses. 12 The Leeds 
Justices drew a queer distinction between beer, 
which was not to be sold during divine service, 
and " drams " (of spirit), which were not to be 
sold on Sundays at all. 3 The Berkshire Justuses 
went further, and enforced complete Sunday 
closing, except for the " hona-fide traveller," 
making it a condition of all their licences, " that 
on the Lord's Day they do not receive, or suffer 
to remain, any persons as guests to tipple, eat, 
or drink, other than travellers, or such as come 

1 Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions (see Bristol Journal, 24th 
January 1788). 

2 Essex Quarter Sessions, llth July 1786 (HOC Chelmsford Chronicle, 
28th July 1786) ; Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 (BOO 
Bristol Journal, 15th September 1787) ; Derby Borough Justices (HOO 
Derby Mercury, 21st November 1799) ; Nottinghamshire Quarter 
Sessions (see Nottingham Journal, 21st July 1787). It was the same 
desire for Sunday closing that led to the direction that no ntago- 
waggon or cart was to be received at any time on Sunday, and tho 
publican was required, at his peril, promptly to inform against tho 
owners of public vehicles so breaking the Sabbath, so that they 
could be prosecuted. Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 
(see Bristol Journal, 15th September 1787). 

8 Borough Justices' Meeting, 3rd May 1792 (see Leeds Intelligencer, 
18th June 1792). 


upon necessary business/' 1 Another revival of the 
" articles" of the beginning of the seventeenth 
century was the rule, adopted by Gloucester 
and many other counties, that one hour should 
be the maximum time that " any journeyman, 
labourer, servant, or apprentice" should " re- 
main tippling " ; and that if such a person was 
allowed to remain more than that time, or should 
become intoxicated by tippling for less than 
that time, the alehouse-keeper would be deemed 
guilty of an offence against the Statute of 1603. 2 
It is significant that the Justices of the Peace 
of the latter part of the eighteenth century 
frequently cited as the most oligarchical and 
autocratic of governing authorities habitually 
made use of local option or local veto in their 
administration of the Liquor Laws. The Act 
of 1753 had, as we have seen, required every 
applicant for a licence, except in corporate towns, 

1 Berkshire Quarter Sessions (see Northampton Mercury, 8th 
September, and Leeds Intelligencer, 18th September 1787). 

2 Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions (see Bristol Gazette, 24= th January 
1788). A new instrument of order was found by some rural parishes, 
in which the Vestry offered a reward of two or three guineas to any 
person giving information leading to the conviction of any person 
"for selling beer or spirituous liquors within the said parish without 
a licence " ; so at Saxmundham, Great Glemham, and Swafflmg (see 
Ipswich Journal, April, May, and June 1788 ; and other cases in 
Suffolk). Kirby and Walton (Essex) (see Chelmsford Chronicle, 
9th May 1780). This policy was approved by the Suffolk Quarter 
Sessions (see Ipswich Journal, 18th October 1788). 


to support his application by a certificate of 
personal character, signed either by the clergy- 
man and churchwardens, or by three or four 
householders. The Gloucester Justices bettered 
this statutory requirement by requiring the 
certificate to be in all cases signed by the 
clergyman and principal inhabitants of the 
parish, and directing that it was to be signed 
" at a vestry to be called for that purpose with 
proper notice." 1 That the consent of the 
" principal inhabitants in vestry assembled" 
became, during the next two decades, a necessary 
condition of the granting of new licences in 
many counties is proved by the vestry records. 
Thus, in the lively little town of Brighthelm- 
stone (Brighton), we find the question of whether 
or not new public-houses should be licensed 
becoming the subject of prolonged agitation. 
In 1801 a " public vestry" was held C( to take 
into consideration the propriety of licensing a 
victualling house situate at the back part of the 
Royal Crescent." The clergyman who presided 
succeeded in persuading the meeting to resolve 
"that it is the opinion of this meeting that 
there are already public-houses enough in the 
town of Brighthelmstone for the convenience of 

1 Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions, Epiphany, 1788 (see Bristol 
Gazette, 24th January 1788). ' 


its inhabitants and the good of the trade, and 
that the increase would be ruinous to the trade 
and principally injurious to the lower class of 
people." 1 Three years later we find the Chief 
Constable, whom we suspect of being friendly 
to the publicans, presiding over another public 
vestry, duly summoned by notice in church for 
the express purpose, which resolved "that it 
appears to this meeting that there are already 
forty-two public-houses in the parish," but that 
these are " not sufficient for the accommodation 
of the parish," and that accordingly five named 
persons are recommended to the Justices as 
eligible to receive licences. 2 

Even more revolutionary was the practice of 
calling into council the " principal inhabitants " 
of the parish as to the expediency of renewing 
the old licences. The Justices for the Bathsorum 
Division of the county of Somerset " recommend 
it to the Ministers and Churchwardens to be care- 
ful in inquiring into the characters and behaviour 
of publicans within their respective parishes ; to 

1 3IS. Vestry Minutes, Brighthelmstone (Sussex). 24th February 

1801. - 

2 IMcL 24th August 1804. Another vestry meeting a week later re- 
commends six additional persons for licences (iUd. 31st August 1804). 
In the city of London it was apparently the custom to require the 
support of the Aldermen and Common Councillors of the particular 
ward before a new licence was granted (Report of House of Commons 
Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1830, p. 16). 


point out to us where there are too many public- 
houses for the reasonable accommodation of the 
neighbourhood, and by no means to recommend 
the licensing of new ones without very sufficient 
cause for so doing, as we are determined to keep 
a watchful eye particularly over that part of the 
police." l 

Elsewhere the practice of requiring local 

1 Bath Chronicle, 16th August 1787. We see the effect of such a 
circular from the Justices in the following case : " The parish officers 
of Prome," we are told, "have determined not only to see that good 
order is kept in the public -houses on Sundays, but at all other times, 
particularly on Saturday nights, which are generally appropriated to 
drunkenness and dissipation ; and to report such houses to the 
Justices as are not shut at ten o'clock" (Bristol Journal, 10th 
September 1787). 

What happened in an energetic Vestry we may gather from the 
following report of the proceedings at Wanstcad (Essex): "At a 
Vestry held at the parish church of Wanstead for the purpose of 
carrying into effect the objects proposed by His Majesty's late pro- 
clamation, it was resolved that the . . , parish officers and police 
officers he required to pay particular attention to the conduct of the 
several keepers of public-houses within this parish, and that they 
make their report to the Vestry concerning them ; whether they keep 
good order ; whether they suffer gambling or tippling at unseason- 
able hours ; whether they have any skittle grounds or any place or 
instrument for gambling of any kind j and especially whether they 
keep their houses open for the entertainment of their guests in the 
time of Divine Service on the Lord's Day. 

"That a Vestry be held on the last Sunday in August for the 
purpose of receiving the said report. 

" That the constables be required to visit the public-houses within 
this parish at ten o'clock every night, and see that the publican 
dismiss Ms guests and shut up his house at that hour ; and that 
they take into their custody all such persons as shall refuse quietly 
to depart when called upon by the constables and pxiblicans so to do " 
(Ohelmsford Chronicle, 10th August 1787). 


consent was systematically applied to all tlie 
existing licences. Thus the Justices of the 
Bampton Division of Oxfordshire publicly noti- 
fied in August 1787 that they would, 'at the 
next " Brewster Sessions," require in all cases 
fresh certificates, not merely as testimony to 
character by any three or four householders, 
but " under the hands of the Minister, Church- 
wardens, and at least six of the principal in- 
habitant householders (if so many there be) of 
their respective parishes . . . asserting the ex- 
pedience and necessity of such house to be 
licensed, without which certificate no licence 
will in future be granted." l The North Biding 
Justices laconically request the ministers of all 
the parishes in the Biding " to state how many 
alehouses they think necessary in their respective 
parishes." 2 

More specific were the West Biding Justices 
who resolved, at Michaelmas 1787, to hold 
annually at Easter in each division an ad- 
journed Brewster Sessions, for the special purpose 
of inquiring into "the state and situation" of 

1 Jackson's Oxford Journal, 18th August 1787. Fresh certificates 
were also called for by the Justices for the Woodbridge and Ipswich 
and Beccles divisions of Suffolk (see Ipswich Journal, 1st Sept. 1787 ; 
and 3rd May 1788), and by those of the county of Durham (see New- 
castle Chronicle, 18th August 1787). 

2 North Riding Quarter Sessions, 10th July 1787 (see Leeds Intel- 
ligtncer, 7th August 1787). 


all the licensed houses, prior to which "the 
Minister and Churchwardens of every Town- 
ship " were "to call a meeting of the overseers 
of the Poor, Constables, and all the Principal 
Inhabitants of their Townships for the express 
purpose of making a return to the Justices of 
such public-houses as they, or a majority of 
them, shall think useful and necessary, and also 
of such others as are either improperly situated, 
or on account of the past irregular and dis- 
orderly conduct of the occupiers they would 
wish to have suppressed in future." l 

1 West Riding Quarter Sessions (see Leeds Intelligencer, 9th October 
1787). We have a vision of this local option at work in the follow- 
ing letter from the Rector of Twerton (Somerset). "In the year 1786 
I addressed a letter to the Justices of the Peace for the Division of 
Bathsorum, stating the inconvenience which the parish of Twerton 
(of which I am the minister) laboured under from the number of 
public-houses. I alleged no instance of misconduct against either, 
but the Justices were pleased to suppress two out of three : a circum- 
stance with which I was highly gratified, being convinced that one 
was fully sufficient for the accommodation of the neighbourhood. 
My parishioners thought otherwise, and constantly expressed their 
wish that another house or houses should be licensed. I was 
frequently applied to by the owners of the suppressed houses to join 
in recommending them to the Justices, but I uniformly declined to 
interfere in the business. When the time for renewing the licences 
approached, these solicitations were repeated, and I even received 
applications from several persons of credit both in Bath and Bristol 
in behalf of the respective houses, with the assurances that it was 
the wish of my parishioners that they should be licensed, and that 
the Justices would not grant a licence to either unless I would sign 
the recommendation. To these applications I replied that if a 
majority of my parishioners were in favour of another public-house, 
I would join them in recommending whichever of the two they should 


From the standpoint of the present day the 
most notable action taken by the magistrates 
was the drastic suppression up and down the 
country of public-houses, without compensation, 
sometimes because these were complained of as 
disorderly, as ill -constructed, or as improperly 
situated, but frequently because they were 
deemed superfluous affording injurious en- 
couragement to the consumption of intoxicating 
drinks. "At the Petty Sessions held here/ 7 we 
read of Gloucester in 1786, "a petition was pre- 

think most proper, provided they would agree to recommend only 
two at this or any future period. At this time a printed paper was 
delivered to me signed by the Justices of the Peace, purporting their 
intention to exert their authority for accomplishing the desirable 
objects of His Majesty's proclamation, and recommending to the 
Minister, Churchwardens, etc., in every parish to use their utmost 
caution in the recommendation of public-houses. I, therefore, at a 
meeting of the principal inhabitants of the parish, recommended this 
paper, as well as the King's proclamation, to their particular atten- 
tion. I then made the declaration above mentioned, and added as 
an additional condition that they should never sign any recommenda- 
tion or certificate for a publican but at a meeting of the parishioners 
called for that purpose. . . . The persons present at this meeting 
were unanimous for another public-house ; they readily acceded to 
the conditions I had proposed, and resolutions were accordingly 
entered in the parish book to that purpose. They were also unani- 
mous in recommending the Crown public-house, together with the 
one licensed the former year. The reason assigned for their prefer- 
ence was that the person who was to keep it was well known to 
them. ... I accordingly signed a recommendation for the houses 
above mentioned." The Justices, it seems, accepted the parish 
decision as to the number, and licensed two public-houses. But 
they had not intended a local popular election of publicans, and 
chose another person as the holder of the second licence (JSath 
Courant, 18th October 1787). 


sented to the Justices by the principal inhabitants 
of the parish of Pitchcombe, stating that their 
poor's rates before the licensing an alehouse in 
the parish were two shillings in the pound, but 
since two alehouses had been opened the common 
people have become idle, drunken, and profligate, 
and have spent their wages in the public-houses, 
leaving their families to be supported by the 
parish ; by which means the rates have lately 
risen to eight shillings in the pound." Upon 
this representation the Justices suppressed both 
the alehouses. 1 The Gloucestershire Justices were 
evidently in earnest. " Last year/ 7 it was said, 
" no less than ten alehouses were licensed in the 
parish of Horseley , near Gloucester. The Justices 
have now reduced them to three/ 7 2 A Somerset- 
shire correspondent writes in 1787 : " We learn 
that the licences of six public-houses in the parish 
of "Widcomb, the Blue Lodge ' in the parish of 
Weston, and several others, were suppressed by 
the Justices of Bathsorum Division (Somerset) at 
their late meeting. 77 3 " "We hear from Holywell," 
says another, " that, at the meeting for licensing 
public-houses held there, the magistrates, to give 
force to His Majesty 7 s proclamation, refused the 

1 Leeds Intelligencer, 26th September 1786. 

2 Ibid. lOtli October 1786. 
3 Bristol Journal, 22nd September 1787. 


renewal of licences to eight public-houses in the 
town, and several others within their district, 
which they deemed superfluous, and tending to 
the increase of immorality and debauchery." l 

" "We are informed that the magistrates have 
refused licensing seventeen public - houses in 
Speen Division of Berkshire, and that the magi- 
strates for "Wiltshire have put down fifteen public- 
houses in one division in that county." 2 

That the refusals to renew old licences were 
"persisted in we learn from the instance of a 
northern city. " Tuesday last," it was reported 
in 1789, "the ale licences were granted for the 
city of Carlisle by the Earl of Lonsdale and the 
Mayor, but the innkeepers who were refused the 
last year were again denied." 3 

Even stronger action than the suppression of 
a few unnecessary village alehouses is recorded 
of the "West Eiding Justices in the case of a large 
manufacturing centre. The rapidly growing 
town of Sheffield, with a rough and turbulent 
population of cutlers, file -makers, and miners, 

1 Bristol Journal, 6th October 1787. 

2 lUd. 22nd September 1787. A week later it is reported that, 
at the Brewster Sessions of the Justices for the Salisbury Division 
of Wilts, " several houses of notorious character were suppressed, and 
some useful regulations adopted. . . . Returns were made to the 
Justices from many parishes of the public-houses therein, and the 
conduct of landlords" (ibid. 29th September 1787). 

3 Newcastle CJwonicle, 3rd October 1789. 


had suffered specially by the multiplication of 
" dram-shops/' which, like those of London, sold 
large quantities of cheap gin and other spirits. 
The magistrates acting for that division of the 
West Riding began by closing them on Sunday, 1 
and three months later took the strong step of 
suppressing them all at one fell swoop. 2 The 
Devon county magistrates in 1805 took drastic 
action at Plymouth Dock (now Devonport), at 
that date thronged with sailors and dockyard 
workmen, and the largest town in the west of 
England. Every street had its own series of 
public -houses and beer shops, which vied with 
one another in offering music, dancing, and other 
attractions to attract custom. The 24,000 in- 
habitants had enjoyed over 200 public -houses, 
which the Justices suddenly reduced to 100, at 
the same time ordering each " inn " to have a 
lamp over its front door, and each " tavern " 
two lamps. 3 

1 Leeds Intelligencer, 26th June 1787. 

2 "At the Brewster Sessions held at Sheffield yesterday s'en night 
(10th September), before the Justices of the Peace for this Riding, a 
total suppression was ordered of the numerous dram-shops in that 
town, by withholding from them ale licences, which, according to 
the Act in that respect made, restrains them from selling less than 
two gallons of any kind of spirituous liquors " (Leeds Intelligencer, 
18th September 1787). 

3 History of the Town and Borough, of JDcwnport, by R. K. Worth 
(Plymouth, 1870, pp. 20, 36). We may add that, about 1818, the 
publicans of the. neighbouring borough of Plymouth petitioned the 


It might reasonably be assumed that so essen- 
tially a national movement in favour of regula- 
tion and restriction could not fail to influence 
the metropolis. We do, indeed, find the Justices 
for the St. James's Division of Westminster 
deciding, as early as 1785, to adopt a stringent 
policy. They resolve that the cc constables and 
beadles do return lists of the names of all 
victuallers and other persons who shall set up 
or keep any bawdy-house, or house of ill-fame, 
or shall permit, suffer, or set up any E.O. table, 
billiard, or other gaming-table, or any shuffle- 
board, or suffer any skittle - playing/' They 
threaten to proceed against any publican who 
" shall keep his or her house open in the night 
or suffer any drunkenness or tippling, or any 
dancing or music." They resolve " where any 
licensed victualler is convicted of any of the 
offences aforesaid, that no licence be afterwards 
granted to the house where the offence was com- 
mitted." They declare " that there are too many 
licensed houses in this parish," and " that the 
number ought to be reduced . . . that no 

Mayor for a revocation of a recent order forbidding music and dancing 
in public-houses. The petitioners declare that, should the soldiers* 
and sailors* "favourite entertainment of a fiddle and a dance be 
withheld from them, the houses will be entirely deserted, and your 
petitioners will be ruined " (Fol. Misc. Papers, 77, in Plymouth 
Corporation MS. Records). 


licence be granted on any pretence whatever to 
any house not licensed the preceding year . . . 
and that whenever it shall appear to the satis- 
faction of the magistrates that there is not 
sufficient custom to a house for the victualler 
to get a livelihood, that the licence be not 
renewed the next year." l 

That these resolutions were acted upon we 
learn in 1787, when it is reported that " the 
magistrates have refused licences to several 
public -houses ; they have also caused all the 
other regulations to be carried into execution, 
and continue to meet, as formerly, three times 
a week to receive complaints and grant redress.' 7 2 

The Justices of the Kensington Division of 
Middlesex were stirred into activity by a local 
tragedy. " Two men at an alehouse in the 
King's Eoad, between Fulham and Chelsea . . . 
drank gin to such an excess that one of them, a 
gardener in that neighbourhood, died beastly 
intoxicated a few minutes after he drank the 
last half -pint. . . . The magistrates in that 
division have since, at a general meeting, refused 
to renew the publican's licence, and have also, 
to their credit, begun the good and necessary 

1 Justices for the St. James's Division of Westminster, 7th Sep- 
tember 1785 (see Morning Herald, llth August 1787). 

2 Morning Herald, llth August 1787. 


work of reformation by stopping the licences of 
forty-three useless and improper public -houses 
in the parishes of Fulham, Chelsea, Hammer- 
smith, and Kensington ; and however strange it 
may appear, there is at this time twenty-one 
licensed public -houses within the space of one 
mile fronting the road in the parish of Hammer- 
smith." l 

Here and there we find a Metropolitan Vestry 
protesting against the licensing of this or that 
public -house, or taking action possibly insti- 
gated by the local Justices to enforce order on 
licensed premises. Thus, in July 1787, we see the 
Fulham Vestry earnestly recommending " to the 
constables and head borough of this parish to 
be diligent and regular in searching the public- 
houses, particularly on Sundays ; and if any shall 
be found where tippling is suffered during the 
time of Divine Service, or gaming or any other 
disorders or irregularities at any time, to give 
notice thereof to the magistrates resident in this 
parish to the intent that the persons keeping 
such houses may not be again licensed/' 2 

The records of the Marylebone Vestry show 
that it had occasion to oppose the renewal of 

1 Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 10th. September 1787, 

2 Vestry Minutes, Fulliam (Middlesex), 8th July 1787, i 
Old and New, by C. J. Feret (1900), vol. i. p. 26. 


licences to persons of bad character. Thus, in 
1800, "the Vestry having been informed that 
application had been again made to the magis- 
trates acting for the Holborn Division for the 
renewal of the licence to the public-house called 
the '"Wheatsheaf in Callmel Buildings in this 
parish, which had been refused last year on 
account of the many irregularities committed in 
the said house by gamblers and other persons of 
the most abandoned characters, resolved unani- 
mously, that in consideration of the advantages 
already derived to the peaceable inhabitants of 
that neighbourhood, and of those likely to accrue* 
to them in future, should the licence be refused, 
it be recommended to the magistrates at their 
adjourned meeting not to renew the said licence/' l 
In 1795 " J. B., keeper of the public -house known 
by the sign of the Elephant and Castle, in Oxford 
Market, according to notice for that purpose, 
attended to answer a complaint against him for 
suffering disorderly persons to tipple in his house 
at unseasonable hours." After a severe warning, 
the Vestry " dismissed the complaint/ 7 2 But 
making due allowance for these and other 
instances, we cannot refrain from noticing that, 

1 MS. Vestry Minutes, Marylebone (Middlesex), 13th September 

2 Ibid. 9th June 1795. 


in spite of the greater publicity ensured by the 
London newspapers, our search has brought to 
light comparatively little in the way of activity, 
the regulation or restriction of liquor licensing, 
either by the Yestries or by the Justices of the 
Peace who had under their government the 
populous parishes of the metropolis. The 
remarkable movement for greater stringency 
which swept over the provinces appears scarcely 
to have touched the metropolis. The notorious 
" trading justice" of Middlesex, who, to quote 
a contemporary, " turns the exercise of his 
authority into an iniquitous traffic/' l had, by the 
establishment of the public police-offices, lost 
the particular opportunities for " creating business 
for his own emolument/' described by Fielding. 
No general proclamation against vice and im- 
morality was likely to prevent him, at the 
Brewster Sessions, from creating valuable pro- 
perty for his creatures and friends, by merely 
signing his name to new alehouse licences. 
Hence it is not surprising to learn on excellent 
authority that the habitual practice in Middlesex 
was for licences to be " granted with great 
facility, and far beyond what appears to be 
necessary for the public accommodation, and in 
some instances in direct violation of the laws of 

1 Miquiry into the Duties of Men, by Thomas Gisborne (1794), p. 287. 


the land/' 1 The same authority tells us that 
the licences of "completely infamous" houses 
were renewed in spite of the protests of the 
police officers and the principal inhabitants. 
When additional stipendiary magistrates were 
appointed in 1792, they seem at first to have 
attended the licensing sessions, and to have 
brought to notice " the ill-regulated public-houses 
conducted by men of loose conduct and depraved 
morals." 2 But " perceiving the inutility of 
those efforts," with the little coterie of Justices 
who had assumed all the licensing duties, they 
" ceased attendance " at the Brewster Sessions. 3 
The ablest and strongest of the new stipendiaries, 
the celebrated Dr. Patrick Colquhoun, did, 
indeed, work a temporary reformation in the 
Tower Hamlets. In 1792, among a total of 
1100 public-houses in the division, he managed 
to get suppressed 87 of the worst gin-shops. 4 
But any such suppression was quite exceptional. 
" Once a public-house always a public-house," 
and "bricks and mortar commit no sin," were 
favourite axioms of the Middlesex bench. If 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee upon the Police of the 
Metropolis, 1816, p. 97. 

2 Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis, by Dr. Patrick Colquhoun 
(1800), p. 324. 

3 Report of Committee upon the State of the Police of the 
Metropolis, 1816, p. 96. 

4 Ibid. p. 50. 


one occupier misconducted himself, it was for the 
brewer to put in another. 

There was, however, one direction in which 
the metropolitan Justices seem to have exercised 
their regulative powers. Ever since the terrify- 
ing orgies of the earlier decades of the eighteenth 
century there had remained, in the minds of all 
thoughtful persons, a strong desire that the 
people should give the preference to beer over 
spirits. The evidence before the committee of 
1816-17 shows that the Middlesex magistrates 
thought that they were only carrying out the 
policy implied in the Acts of 1743-53, in in- 
sisting that the public-houses licensed by them 
should be and continue, in the main, alehouses, 
providing accommodation for social intercourse ; 
and should not be converted into mere " bars/' 
for the sale of spirits to a constant stream of 
persons seeking only an intoxicant. 1 It was 
this policy of discrimination against the incipient 
" gin palace," somewhat unintelligently pursued 
by the Justices, that was sarcastically described 

1 The magistrates who, as it was said, had " imbibed the principle 
laid down in tlie preamble of the Act of 9 George II. (1736), objected 
to the publicans having a separate door to a shop fitted up with 
barrels and inscriptions to show the great consumption of the gin 
and cordials, with a long counter, and syphons to draw up the 
yarious liquors with expedition for the customers who come in and 
out, , . . thus giving incitement to the excessive use of spirituous 
liquors " (ibid. p. 188). 


by a hostile critic in 1816. The Middlesex 
Justices, he said, instead of enforcing publicity 
and responsibility, had lost themselves in a maze 
of arbitrary distinctions between " taprooms and 
pewter counters, tobacco pipes and brass cocks, 
checquers and glass phials/ 7 1 

1 Eeport of Committee upon the State of the Police of the 
Metropolis, 1817, p, 63. In spite of the growing objection to 
magisterial interference with the conduct of the trade, this policy 
was persisted in ; and in 1816, and again in 1829, it was resolved by 
the Middlesex Quarter Sessions that "The Court taking into con- 
sideration the increasing use of spirituous liquors amongst the inferior 
ranks of people of "both sexes within their jurisdiction, so destructive 
to their health and morals, and attributing it in a great measure to 
the facility and privacy by which the liquor may be obtained through 
the means of houses licensed by the Justices to sell beer, but which 
are appropriated either solely to the purpose of retailing spirits, or 
have rooms, fitted up for this use only, that communicate directly 
with the street, or with some court or alley adjoining it," in viola- 
tion of the Act of 1753, recommends the Justices in Brewster Sessions 
not to license any publican who shall be found to have obtained an 
alehouse licence as a mere pretext for obtaining a spirit licence ; nor 
any person " who cannot prove to their satisfaction that he has sold 
in his house during the preceding year a reasonable quantity of malt 
liquor, respect being had to its size and situation ; and that he has a 
public tap-room in front of ! his house, fitted up and frequented for 
that purpose" (MS, Minutes, Quarter Sessions, Middlesex, July 
1816 ; repeated verbatim, 29th October 1829). The same policy was 
adopted by the Surrey Justices, who resolved "not to license any 
house which had not good accommodation for such persons as should 
prefer beer to spirits, and good beer to furnish them with " (see report 
in Hull Packet, 23rd January 1816). It was violently denounced by 
the licence-holders as an arbitrary interference with liberty and 
property (see Suggestions and Correspondence relative to Magistrates* 
Licences, arranged by H. B. Fearon (1830), one of the principal gin- 
sellers of the Metropolis, preserved in the Place Papers, Additional 
MSS. 27829-40 ; also Report of House of Commons Committee on 
the Sale of Beer, 1830, pp. 95-116). 


How energetically and how long the various 
county benches carried out the policy of restric- 
tion and regulation, started in 1786-87, we 
cannot exactly discover. After the end of the 
eighteenth century the general meetings of 
magistrates at Quarter Sessions, of which alone 
records or reports exist, seem to have ceased to 
concern themselves with licensing ; and the new 
policy may have been quietly either continued 
or abandoned by the Brewster Sessions. "When 
again the Justices' action becomes a matter of 
public controversy, namely, from 1816 to 1830, 
the complaints against them are principally that 
they refuse new licences or arbitrarily withdraw 
old ones ; and from this fact it is not unreason- 
able to infer that the old indiscriminate granting 
of licences had not been resumed. Still more 
difficult is it to ascertain with any accuracy what 
were the results of this restrictive policy. We 
cannot even get statistics as to the total number 
of alehouses licensed, or the number of licences 
withdrawn. The number of alehouses in England 
and Wales, vaguely supposed in 1773 to be 
about 40,000 plainly an underestimate 1 was 

1 A considerable proportion of the alehouses, including apparently 
the majority of those in the rural districts, had no spirit licence ; 
yet there were in 1779 no fewer than 37,172 houses licensed for the 
retail sale of spirits (Appendix 32a of First Report of Commissioners 
of Inland Bevenue, 1857). We suspect that, at this date ? there were 


found in 1810, when the statistics begin, and 
when the population had greatly risen, to be 
no more than 48,000. The effect of the move- 
ment of 1786-87 can, however, most clearly be 
seen in the number of houses where spirits were 
sold, of which accurate statistics exist. In spite 
of the rapid growth of population, and its aggre- 
gation in new centres, the total number of 
publicans' spirit licences in England and Wales, 
which reached a high point in 1779, shows the 
following reductions in the next decade : l 

1779 . 37,172 

1780 .... 36,712 

1781 .... 36,033 

1782 .... 34,923 

1783 .... 34,329 

1784 .... 35,176 

1785 .... 35,697 

1786 .... 36,029 

1787 .... 36,675 

1788 .... 34,503 

1789 .... 33,349 

1790 .... 32,850 

The population went on increasing by leaps 

altogether not less tlian 100,000 licensed houses for a population of 
fewer than eight millions. 

1 See Appendix No. 32a of First Report of Commissioners of 
Inland Revenue, 1857. The drop in 1789-90 is probably to be 
ascribed, in part, to the reduction of licence duty which took place 
in 1788. 



and bounds, but the number of spirit licences 
went on sinking, until in 1799 it was only about 
30,000, or fewer than in any year since 1769. 
From 1799 the numbers rose very slowly, at 
the rate of about 1 . per cent per annum, until 
in 1825 they reached 38,472, or hardly more 
than the number granted by the Justices of 
1779 for two thirds the population. Mean- 
while the number of alehouse licences had, be- 
tween 1810 and 1825, actually remained nearly 
stationary, at about 485000. 1 

Owing to the amount of private brewing, 
and the illicit distillation and smuggling of 
spirits, no trustworthy statistics can be given as 
to the total consumption. There is, however, 
a certain amount of testimony that the average 
consumption of alcoholic drinks diminished 
during this period, a diminution which the 
authorities declare to have taken place among 
the "lower orders/' And it is interesting to 
record that our own researches into the history 
of crime for this same period, concluded prior to 
our discovery of this movement for the regula- 
tion and restriction of the sale of alcoholic 
drinks, had already caused us to note what we 
termed a " lull " in crime and rioting, licentious 

1 See the tables at pp. 44 and 60 of Thirteenth Report of Com- 
missioners of Inland Revenue, 1870. 


living, disorderly conduct, and brutal amuse- 
ments between 1790 and 1810. We entertain 
no doubt that, compared with, the immediately 
preceding period, there was in England, during 
these years, a marked diminution of overt acts 
of crime and disorder. "We had suggested that 
this might possibly have been due to the 
absorption of disorderly characters in the army 
and navy during the years of war, and to the 
greater regularity of life introduced by the 
factory system. Both these circumstances, and 
others that might be cited, seem to us to afford 
an inadequate explanation. Any good effects 
they ' ; may have had were probably more than 
counterbalanced by the demoralisation of large 
sections of the population by the worst features 
of the Old Poor Law, which became prevalent in 
1795, and by the terrible stringency of the 
famines and high prices of these very years. 
Our subsequent discovery of the regulation and 
restriction of the sale of alcoholic drinks carried 
out by the Justices from 1786-87, and lasting, as 
we infer, in many parts of the country for a 
whole generation, appears to us to throw new 
light on the subject. We think that any im- 
partial student of the contemporary records 
will be driven to the inference that the limita- 
tion of the opportunities for disorderly drinking 


^ ! 



between 1787 and 1825 outside the metropolis 
was at any rate an important contributory cause 
of tie remarkable advance in " respectability " 
made by the English working-man during the 
first two decades of the nineteenth century. 



IN the opinion of the country Justices of the 
Peace, concerned for the good order of their 
villages and, as we may believe, for the reforma- 
tion of the manners and morals of the people, 
the regulative and restrictive policy of 1786-87 
had proved a distinct success. It is therefore 
with surprise that the student finds this policy, 
from 1816 onwards, meeting with almost uni- 
versal condemnation. 

To the Whigs, and still more to the rising 
school of philosophic Radicals, the arbitrary 
authority vested in the Justices of the Peace 
was in itself an offence. They vehemently 
resented the fact that unrepresentative bodies, 
like the magistrates in Brewster Sessions, could, 
without appeal, deprive the working-man of his 
beer, the honest publican of his means of 
livelihood, and the brewer of his property, out 
of mere caprice, and not without grave suspicions 



of political partisanship 1 and even pecuniary 
corruption. There was at this time nothing in 
the nature of a temperance party, and though 
the vice of drunkenness was deplored, beer was 
still habitually regarded as a necessary of life, 
and any idea of interfering with individual 
liberty was more abhorrent even than drunken- 
ness itself. The Tories, on the other hand, did 
not see any objection to the authority of the 
Justices, which, haunted by the spectre of the 
French Eevolution, they would willingly have 
strengthened. But they had a sentimental 
objection to any interference with the pleasures 
of the people. Some of them may have thought, 
like Wyndham, that if the lower orders were 
rendered less self-indulgent, they would become 
more seditious. The Tory leaders were at any rate 
so desperately keen on maintaining the authority 
of the Government against the rising tide of 
reform, that they were, after 1825, not disposed 
to lose any popularity by restraining the 
common people from their sensual and brutal- 
ising amusements. 

1 The publican at the beginning of the nineteenth century was 
apparently usually a Radical. "The public-houses resorted to by 
the lower classes," we read in 1800, " particularly in the metropolis, 
though under the immediate control of the magistrates, almost 
inyariably take in newspapers of a pernicious tendency " (Reflections 
on the Moral and Political State of Society at the Close of the JSighteenth 
Century, by John Bowles, 1800, p. 164). 


Finally, we have to take account of what 
seems, between 1820 and 1830, to have become 
almost an obsession of the mind of every en- 
lightened legislator, Tory and Eadical alike, that 
every person ought to be left free to invest 
his capital and employ his talents in whatever 
way he thought best ; that cheapness and good 
quality could only be secured by an absolutely 
unrestricted competition ; and that there was no 
reason why the number and position of public- 
houses should not be left as free as those of 
bakers' shops. All these abstract doctrines 
found illustrations and arguments in two un- 
doubted facts, the rapid growth of a monopoly 
of public - houses in the hands of the great 
brewers, and the proved corruption of the Justices 
in one or two divisions of the metropolis. These 
facts were brought to light by a remarkable 
series of Parliamentary inquiries into the 
"police" of the capital during the years 1816- 
18. In the Parliamentary proceedings of 
the ensuing decade the personal grievances 
and public wrongs alleged to be caused by 
the arbitrary action of the Justices and the 
brewers' monopoly recur with monotonous 

It is not our business here to enter into the 
history of the industries of brewing and distilling, 


or to describe the gradual development, from the 
latter part of the eighteenth century, of the old- 
fashioned " family brewers" into gigantic estab- 
lishments supplying the whole world. Nor can 
we explore with any thoroughness the causes 
and circumstances of one feature of this develop- 
ment, the "tied-house" system, which was, in 
1816-30, being energetically complained of. 
The ownership of licensed premises by brewers 
and distillers had, as we have seen, been common 
for more than a century. But increased strin- 
gency in licensing undoubtedly increased the 
practice. When the Justices made it a practice, 
before granting a licence, to require that the 
applicant should show that he occupied premises 
suitable for the business, they insensibly passed 
into virtually licensing the houses, as w6ll as the 
particular occupiers. It then became inevitable 
that the brewers, commanding large capitals, 
should advance money to enable the necessary 
alterations to be made, and thus obtain control 
of a large proportion of the premises on which 
drink was sold, either by simple purchase of the 
property or by the publican's indebtedness. 1 It 

1 The purchase of tied houses by the brewers was admitted and 
defended in 1802 (see Observation on Seer and Brewers, by Richard 
Flower (1802), pp. 24-27). Much information is given in the Report of 
the House of Commons Committee on Public Breweries (1818), and 
the evidence (1819). 


was reiterated on all sides that the limitation 
of the number of public-houses, their alteration 
and enlargement to suit the requirements of the 
Justices, the insistence on substantial sureties for 
good behaviour, and the general increase of 
pecuniary responsibility involved in stricter 
regulation, all fostered the tied-house system. 
The Justices up and down the country had 
attempted to counteract this assumed result of 
their restrictive policy, and to keep alive the 
old-fashioned alehouse - keeper, free to brew his 
own beer, or at any rate to buy it where he 
chose. Thus it was reported in 1816 that " at 
the late meeting for licensing alehouse-keepers 
... in Newbury Division (Berks), the com- 
plaints made by the publicans of the badness of 
the beer served to them by brewers were so 
general, and in some instances their interference 
in, and monopoly of public-houses so flagrant, 
that the magistrates, nine in number, unani- 
mously resolved ' that the full extent of time for 
granting licences should be allowed to several 
publicans, in order that they might procure 
other houses, which the Justices would license in 
lieu of those so monopolised, or wherein any 
undue interference had been used/ " l In the 
following year " the magistrates of the Division 

1 Cornwall Gazette, 21st September 1816, 


of Marlborougli (Wilts) . . . refused to grant 
licences to those who held their houses of 
common brewers, unless such brewers first 
declared that they were not bound to take their 
beer of their respective landlords, except it was 
good and such as was generally approved of. 
The magistrates at the same time informed those 
persons who held public -houses under brewers 
that, in case their landlords gave them notice to 
quit their houses in consequence of taking beer 
from other brewers, they would authorise them 
to remove their licence to any other house, and 
never license such brewer's house in future." l 
It is needless to say that spasmodic and local 
efforts of this sort did not deter the agents of 
the great brewers from seizing every opportunity 
to purchase public-house property. 

The ownership of public-houses by brewers 
seems to have struck the House of Commons 
Committee of 1816-17 as a revelation of un- 
suspected wickedness. They noted, with alarm, 
that " one half of the victualling houses in the 
Metropolis " were held by brewers as " owners, 
purchasers, or equitable mortgagees." In the 
provinces " it prevailed in a greater degree than 
in the Metropolis." At Reading, for instance, 
the local brewers owned or controlled 66 out 

1 Carmarthen Journal, 3rd October 1817. 


of 68 licences. 1 To the House of Commons 
Committee of 1816-17, the most objectionable 
feature of this monopoly was not any effect 
which it may have had on the consumption of 
drink or social disorder , but " the restricted 
power which the public at large possess of 
employing their capital in the trade of victualling 
houses/ 7 2 The Committee would not inquire 
whether or not, as a matter of fact, the houses 
belonging to brewers were better constructed 
and better regulated than those which were 
" free " ; or whether the commodity which the 
great brewers supplied as the product of a 
highly organised industry, using the newest 
improvements on a large scale, was or was not at 
least equal in quality and cheapness to that 
which the old-fashioned little alehouse - keeper 
had brewed for himself. The evidence on these 
points brought by the brewers before this and 
subsequent committees was left unrefated. 3 To 

1 Report of Select Committee on the Police of the Metropolis, 1817, 
p. 10. An Excise return, of 1816 stated that, out of the total of 
48,000 licensed alehouses in England and Wales, 14,200 actually 
"belonged to brewers, 10,800 to the occupiers, and 22,700 to disinter- 
ested persons. This, however, took no account of the "tie by 
indebtedness. " 

2 Report of Select Committee on the Police of the Metropolis, 1817, 
p. 10. 

8 The House of Commons Committee on Public Breweries, 1818-19, 
dealt specially with these points, and found no evidence that the 
consumer had been injured. But they nevertheless objected to the 
monopoly which the great capitalist brewers were obtaining. 


the enlightened members of Parliament of 1816- 
30, it seemed a matter of mere logical infer- 
ence, from necessary axioms that the more 
limited the competition of sellers, the worse 
conducted would be the business, the less would 
be the accommodation afforded to the public, 
the higher would be the price, and the more 
inferior would be the quality. "The eleven 
chief brewers 7 ' of London, it was said in 1818, 
" met together like partners in one concern and 
fixed the price of porter/' l To the dullest intel- 
lect on the committee, it was plain that any 
such meeting would, to quote the classic words 
of Adam Smith, " end in a conspiracy against the 
public or in some contrivance to raise prices." 
This conviction found apparent confirmation in 
the rapidly rising value of public-house property. 
The fact that the grant of a licence to a house in 
a good position in a populous neighbourhood 
was equivalent to the creation of property 
worth thousands of pounds puzzled the ordinary 
members of Parliament. It seemed to them that 
the exaction of such a price from the purchasers 
of licensed houses " of course . . . raised the 
price of everything that was sold in them." 2 
Such large investments of capital, they said, 

1 Hansard, 1st May 1818. 
2 Keport of Select Committee on Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 32. 


" must . . . create a necessity of selling at such, 
a price as may secure a trade interest on money 
so advanced/' l The House of Commons failed 
to discriminate between the gains due to an 
organised trade "ring" of the great brewers; 
the monopoly value of licensed houses restricted 
in numbers, by whomsoever owned ; and the 
mere rental value of premises in situations which 
enabled them to attract an exceptional amount 
of custom. These three " unearned increments " 
seemed, to legislators who ignored the teaching 
of Kicardo, alike explicable only on the supposi- 
tion that the consumer was being made to pay 
" an extravagant price " for his beer. 2 

The second fact which influenced public 
opinion against the restrictive policy of the 
Justices was the obvious breakdown of the 
Middlesex bench. This breakdown was, we may 
here explain, a general one, affecting not licen- 
sing alone but all their functions ; and resulting, 
as our investigations show, from the inherent 
inadequacy of this type of authority for the 
circumstances of an overgrown capital city. 
The chairman of the committee, a fanatical 
believer in freedom of trade in alcoholic drinks, 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on Public Breweries, 

2 See the whole statement of C. Barclay, before the House of 
Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1830. 


occupied a whole year over an elaborate investi- 
gation into the doings of the little coterie oJ 
Justices into whose hands the licensing work of the 
Tower Hamlets Division had been allowed to fall. : 
Owners of East End house property, for whict 
new licences had been refused, old established 
publicans, who had had their licences withdrawn, 
clergymen, and respectable inhabitants, aggrieved 
at the disorder of the multitude of low drink 
shops and " flash-houses " in their parishes, wen 
encouraged to vent their several grievances 
before the committee. "We need not attempt ai 
this date to disentangle the unsavoury story ir 
which Joseph Merceron, of Bethnal Green, whc 
had a lively career as a corrupt parish " boss/ 
played the leading part. That the half a dozer 
acting Justices of this particular division hac 
given, withheld, and renewed licences for corrupl 
reasons was clearly proved. 2 But in spite of on( 

1 A whole report, followed by 562 pages of evidence, is devoted ti 
tMs subject (see Eirst Eeport of the Committee on the State of th 
Police of the Metropolis, 1817). 

2 Accusations of a more indefinite character, without attempt a 
verification, were loosely made against the other divisions of th 
Middlesex bench. A glimpse of similar licensing partiality" in 179: 
among some of the magistrates of the Hammersmith Division o 
Middlesex may be gained from a Letter to Sir John Danvers, Bart. 
by William Hyde (1791). The general laxness of the Middlese: 
Justices in licensing is graphically pictured in Observations and Fact 
relative to Licensed Alehouses, etc., by a magistrate (Dr. P. Colquhoun) 
(1794). For the Surrey Justices at a later date, see A Better to th 


or two sensational instances of an improper 
refusal or withdrawal of a licence, the net result 
of all this corruption and favouritism liad been, 
according to the weight of evidence, not an 
undue restriction but an undue multiplication of 
licensed houses, not a Puritanical regulation of 
the conduct of publicans but a notorious laxity. 
The scandalous failure of the Tower Hamlets 
bench was, in fact, not an argument against the 
policy of 1787, but an instance of the results of 
not adopting it. The House of Commons Com- 
mittee, biassed by its free trade proclivities, and 
concerned only about the metropolis, did not 
attempt to examine the policy of restriction and 
regulation quietly persisted in by the county 
and borough benches up and down the country. 
The outcome of this one-sided investigation 
was a report which, in effect, pronounced against 
the control of the liquor traffic by the Justices of 
the Peace. The essential feature of the licensing 
system, on which Parliament had, since 1743, 
relied, was the genuine exercise of the free dis- 
cretion of the Justices in regard to their three- 
fold power of selection, power of withdrawal, and 
power of imposing conditions. It was in the 

Lord- Lieutenant of the County of Surrey on the Misconduct of the 
Licensing Magistrates and the consequent Degradation of the Magis- 
tracy, "by Thomas Edwards, LL.D. (1825), reviewed in Edinburgh 
Review, September 1826. 


exercise of that discretion that the provincial 
Justices had, from 1786-87 onward, effected the 
remarkable changes as most of them thought, 
the important reforms implied in the reduction 
of the number of licensed houses, the insistence 
on suitable position and adequate accommoda- 
tion, the prohibition of mere dram-shops, com- 
plete or partial Sunday closing, a nine or ten 
o'clock closing on week days, and the suppression 
of brutal amusements and other disorder. "We 
cannot discover that any member of the House 
of Commons Committee of 1816-17 had ever 
heard of the remarkable movement for the 
Eeformation of Manners in 1786-87, still less 
inquired into the circumstances and results of 
the drastic withdrawal of licences which then 
took place. It is an amazing instance of the 
ignorance with which English official business 
was at that time transacted, that from beginning 
to end of the voluminous proceedings of 1816-17 
there is no mention of the striking upheaval 
which had taken place only thirty years pre- 
viously. Under the influence of the contem- 
porary theories at Westminster, the Committee 
took the view, dead in the teeth of a long series 
of decisions of the Courts of Justice, that the 
functions of the Justices in licensing were, and 
ought to be, confined to a merely ministerial 


execution of statutory provisions. In granting 
new licences, their duty was almost, if not 
entirely, confined to seeing that the applicant 
was a responsible person of good character. 
Though the Eeport does not expressly declare 
for complete freedom of trade, the Committee 
nowhere deprecate the granting of additional 
licences, and specifically " advise ^that licences 
should be granted to new houses ... in those 
districts in which the monopoly is at present 
complete/' so that the trade may be taken out 
of the few hands which, in some districts, have 
entirely engrossed it. In fact, they " strongly 
implore the different magistrates of the country 
to lend their aid to break down a confederacy 
which is so injurious to the interests of the poor 
and middling orders of the community." 

The second part of the Justices' licensing 
power that of withdrawal is entirely con- 
demned. "Your Committee think it by no 
means clear that the legislature ever contem- 
plated that magistrates would assume the power 
of considering old licensed houses as new ones ; 
or that . . . they should be able to deprive by 
their sole will and pleasure persons of their 
property, to which long enjoyment had given 
them a right, and upon which their existence 
and that of their families depended." They 



emphatically recommend " that no established 
victualler be deprived of his licence under any 
pretence whatever without a trial by jury/ 7 for 
some statutory crime. 

The third power that of imposing conditions 
stands or falls with the discretional power of 
withdrawal, and is thus implicitly condemned 
by the Committee. The necessity of imposing 
conditions as to disorderly games, or hours of 
closing, or Sunday observance, or all the thou- 
sand and one details of conduct that from time 
to time arise, is not so much as mentioned. 
The Committee insist that the publican shall 
be as free as the butcher and the baker to do 
anything which Parliament has not specifically 
forbidden. They go out of their way to uphold 
" the long-undisputed and exercised right en- 
joyed by the victuallers to conduct their houses, 
and to sell ale, beer, wine, and spirits, in the 
manner and after the mode as suited best to the 
character of their respective customers." 1 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee upon the Police of the 
Metropolis, 1817. The remarkable exemption from all regulation 
of the sale of beer at fairs may here be noted. It had apparently 
long been customary for the needs of the concourse of people at a 
fair to be met by many persons opening their houses for the sale of 
beer for the occasion only. This right of any one to brew and sell at 
fair time, without a licence, was preserved by 5 and 6 Edward VI. 
c. 25 (1552), and was continued by all successive licensing Acts 
until 1874. This led to an orgy of drunkenness and disorder at 
every fair. A writer in 1787 appeals in vain for "some regulation 


The publication in 1817 of this report, with 
its two volumes of evidence about the brewers' 

and restriction of the bush-houses as they were called, viz. temporary 
alehouses where vice in all her forms is permitted to revel uncon- 
trolled. A number of abandoned females are entertained in these 
houses, and suffered to molest every person who passes them, and to 
seduce the unwary in the face of day. Villains of all descriptions 
find in them an asylum, and too often form connections to break open 
houses and commit other atrocious depredations on society " (Bristol 
Journal, 25th August 1787). These u bush-houses," as they were 
called, were frequently complained of. Thus, of Barnstaple (Devon) 
in 1830, we read that "at fair times the right to sell strong drink 
irrespective of Justices and excise was claimed and fully exercised. 
The person who wished to sell liquor during the three days of the Fair 
simply stuck a bush in front of his house, and he thereby became a 
publican for the time" (Gardiner's Barnstaple, p. 57). As late as 
1849, at the great annual fairs at Fazeley and Rugeley (Staffs), they are 
reported to be " an intolerable nuisance . . . the constabulary have 
no power to enter ... or to punish the occupiers for selling beer all 
night, and for permitting drunkenness or immorality . . . there are 
constant complaints about it " (Report of House of Commons Com- 
mittee on the Sale of Beer, 1850, p. 34). ". . . After the five or six 
hours of the cattle fair, their houses are ... the peculiar rendezvous 
of all the thieves and prostitutes that attend from Birmingham the 
three days' fair " (ibid. pp. 134-135). In the first quarter of the nine- 
teenth century the exemption, which in strict law was confined to 
prescriptive or chartered fairs, was commonly taken to apply to all 
"wakes" and village revels. Thus it was reported in 1817 from 
Shropshire that "during a certain week in every year there takes 
place in most parishes in this county a kind of rural revelling gene- 
rally known by the name of wake. ... On these occasions it is not 
unusual (in villages where there is no public-house) for unlicensed 
persons to brew a certain quantity of beer to be sold during the wake, 
at all hours, . . . which sale is commonly announced to the excise 
officer of the district, who gives an apparent sanction to it by receiving 
the customary duties for the liquor brewer with that design." On 
certain Justices trying to suppress this custom in 1815 - 16, the 
Commissioners of Excise insisted on its continuance, and obtained 
statutory powers (56 George III. c. 104 sec. 105) to give temporary 
permits to sell beer without the Justices' licence (Report of House of 


monopoly and the Tower Hamlets Justices, 
marks a turning-point in the history of licensing 
practice. The tales told to the Committee of 
the corrupt and arbitrary conduct of the Tower 
Hamlets Justices were adapted or varied to suit 
the local circumstances by every Radical news- 
paper, and repeated by every Radical member 
in the House of Commons, whilst the recom- 
mendations of the Committee as to what the 
Justices' licensing powers ought to be, were 
boldly assumed to be the actual state of the 
law. No one writes to describe the actual 
practice of the Justices, or mentions their 
inquiry of the Vestries as to how many public- 
houses are required. We find absolutely no 
mention of the policy of 1786-87, or of its 
dramatic and even wholesale withdrawals of 
licences. The whole episode seems to have 
been forgotten by friends and foes alike. The 
letters to the newspapers do not, as in 1787, 
complain of the prevalence of disorderly drink- 
ing. What the correspondents are concerned 
about is the fact that a licensed victualler, 

Commons Committee on the State of the Police of the Metropolis, 
1817, pp. 218-220). It is astonishing that not until 1874 was this 
immemorial abuse put a stop to. The Licensing Act of that year 
(37 and 38 Viet. c. 49 sec. 18) abolished the ancient privilege of free 
sale, made a licence necessary, and enabled the Justices to grant an 
"occasional " licence to meet the temporary need (see The Licensing 
Acts, by JT. Paterson, 13th edition, 1900, p. 202). 


alone among tradesmen, is "subjected to the 
ruinous effects of petty tyranny ... lie is 
punished without a hearing and without know- 
ing his offence, on a secret information. . . . 
Thus after a man has embarked his whole pro- 
perty in this line of life he is frequently, on 
the mere fiat of a licensing magistrate, robbed 
of his only means of subsistence. In a case 
laid before the Police Committee, a person paid 
1000 for the lease of a house, the licence was 
taken from it without any assigned or apparent 
reason, and he was ruined." 1 

"We see the effect on the minds of the Justices 
themselves. One bench after another begins 

1 Manchester Observer, 14th February 1818, In the Tory Quarterly 
tieview for April 1818 we see what may perhaps be called the last stand 
of old-fashioned folk for the old idea. In discussing "the means of 
improving the people," the multiplicity of unnecessary licensed 
houses is alluded, to as an evil. " To advise any sudden reduction of 
their number would be absurd . . . but no new house should be 
licensed without clear proof that it would be useful to the neighbour- 
hood, which it could only be where a new village was rising, or where 
there was a rapid increase of inhabitants from some local causes. 
That a gentleman's servant wanted an establishment or that a brewer 
found it advantageous to have another taproom opened for the con- 
sumption of his beer, ought not to be considered sufficient causes for 
adding to what are already far too numerous. With regard to the 
unnecessary number of houses that are already open, the licence 
should not be renewed when the present occupier removes or dies ; 
one generation would then produce the desired reduction. And in 
every instance where riot and drunkenness were suffered, or the doors 
kept open till an improper hour of the night, the licence should 
uniformly be taken away. "Were the magistrates and parish officers 
strictly to enforce these latter . . . they would soon perceive the 
good effect in the amended morals of the parish." 


to weaken in its adhesion to the policy of 1787. 
All idea of regulation is given up. The very 
power to make conditions is assumed to be non- 
existent. 1 As regards increasing the number of 
publicans the change of policy was, however, 
neither universal nor simultaneous. Throughout 
the greater part of rural England, right down 
to 1830, it continued to be taken for granted 
that each parish should have its one public- 
house just as it had its one church. 2 The old- 
fashioned village inn, with its parlour and tap- 
room, " kept by a regular steady man ... of 
some property, " 3 was resorted to by men of 
all classes, the labourers thus drinking, as it 
was said, " under the eye of parlour company." 4 

1 Thus, in spite of the "articles" of 1618, of the "conditions" 
mentioned in Burn's Justice of the Peace, and of the innumerable 
precedents of Justices in every county, when the Surrey magistrates 
in 1828 wished to make licensed houses, which were also places of 
entertainment, like Yauxhall Gardens, close at some definite hour, 
they considered that they had no power to enforce this or any 
other requirement as a condition of granting the licence. "It 
is, " they said, ' ' a licence either to be given absolutely, or denied 
absolutely ; it is not in our power to impose any conditions " (Report 
of Select Committee on the Police of the Metropolis, 1828, p. 136). 

2 Thus it appears that, prior to 1830, 22 parishes in Somerset had 
exactly 22 licensed houses ; 12 parishes in Berks and Oxon had just 
about 12 licensed houses ; and of one parish in Sussex we are expressly 
told that no second public-house was allowed (Report of House of 
Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, pp. 145, 160, 192). 

3 Ibid. p. 160. 

4 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, 
p. 33. 


In many districts the Justices continued to 
recognise the right of the " principal inhabitants " 
to veto the establishment of even one public- 
house where none had previously existed. 1 In 
other divisions the Justices, thinking the public- 
houses too numerous, withdrew licences at their 
discretion. 2 Nor were the magistrates in the 
municipal corporations more free-handed than 
the county Justices. The reports of the Muni- 
cipal Corporation Commissioners show that 
where the population was stationary, it was 
customary for the old-established public-houses 
in the small boroughs to remain, decade after 
decade, undisturbed, the number of licences 
being neither increased nor diminished. 3 In 

1 Thus in Devonshire we hear of one village in which, through 
local influence, the Justices for twenty years refused to grant any 
licence ; whilst in Hampshire a leading brewer bitterly complained 
that there were many parishes without any public-house ; the " country 
gentlemen and clergymen," he said, "were very averse to having 
beer-shops near their residences, not considering the advantages the 
consumers of beer derived from them " (Report of House of Commons 
Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, pp. 52, 199, 200). There were 
evidently many small rural parishes in which there was no licensed 
house of any sort. In the remote villages near Falmouth (Cornwall) 
it was said of the last decade of the eighteenth century " there were 
then neither beer -shops nor gin-shops anywhere within reach" 
(Autobiography of J&mes Silk JB-ucJcinghawi (1855), vol. i. p. 21). 

2 So in the Aylesbury division of Bucks (Keport of House of 
Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1830, p. 79 ; and at Yoxall 
(Staffs), where 14 had been reduced to 2 (ibid. 1833, p. 171). 

3 In nearly every case in which the Municipal Corporation Com- 
missioners give particulars in 1883 as to the increase or decrease of 


some of the larger towns, as we have seen, 
licences had been multiplied in the old lax times, 
and the Justices were in the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century still trying to reduce their 
numbers. 1 

licensed victuallers, they record a restrictive policy on the part of the 
borough magistrates. Thus at Heading (Berks) the bench had 
resolved to grant no new licences j at Bodmin (Cornwall) only two 
had been granted during twenty years ; at Falmouth (Cornwall), in 
spite of frequent applications, only one had been granted during ten 
or twelve years, and at Penryn none ; at West Looe (Cornwall) the 
number had not been increased for thirty years ; at Plymouth (Devon) 
the magistrates had for years tried to reduce the number, refusing 
eight applications in a batch ; at Chichester (Sussex) no new licences 
had been granted for over seventeen years ; at Portsmouth (Hants) a 
new licence was scarcely ever granted, and 14 out of 242 had not 
been renewed ; at Eochester (Kent) the number had been reduced 
from 61 in 1811 to 58 in 1833 ; at Dover (Kent) there had been only 
one new licence since 1824 ; at Faversham (Kent) none for many 
years ; at Doncaster (Yorks) the number had remained stationary 
for five years ; at Beverley (Yorks) it had been reduced by one ; at 
Hull (Yorks) the number had been reduced from 223 to 211 ; at 
Lancaster (Lanes) there had been no new licence since 1823 ; at Leeds 
(Yorks) a few were granted each year, but the magistrates strove to 
keep them down, refusing nineteen of the applications ; at Kipon 
(Yorks) the number had been reduced from 49 to 39 in ten years. 
At Scarborough (Yorks) there had been no increase for seven years, 
until shortly before, when three had been granted. At Maidstone 
(Kent) six new licences had been granted since 1825. (See the 
various volumes of the Appendix to the First Report of the 
Municipal Corporation Commission, 1835.) This undisturbed mono- 
poly had its bad side. Wayfaring artisans and pedestrians of all 
sorts often found difficulty in obtaining accommodation. The 
well-to-do publicans in the small towns became "so high and 
saucy," and demurred to receiving travellers " unless they come 
by coach, or have a horse or gig " (Eeport of House of Commons 
Committee on Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 171). On the other hand, such 
public-houses kept themselves free from any kind of disorder. 

1 So at Liverpool in 1821, where it was said that " the vast number 


Presently we see the wave of opinion against 
the brewers' monopoly and in favour of freedom 
of trade overtaking some of the county benches. 
In 1825, as if with the object of encouraging 
the smaller alehouses to sell spirits, Parliament 
reduced the publicans' spirit licence, hitherto 
costing at least five guineas a year, to only two 
guineas a year for houses under 10 value. 
This led to a large proportion of the alehouses 
both in town and country to become also places 
for the sale of spirits. There was also an increase 
in the number of alehouses. In one county 
after another, as in Buckinghamshire about 
1826, "the liberal spirit of the age" 1 leads to 
new public -houses being licensed, even where 
population -and trade were declining. The Surrey 
magistrates actually petitioned Parliament in 
1826 "to authorise the excise to grant a beer 

of public-houses in this town has long been a subject of remark with 
strangers and of regret with residents, and never was the licensing 
system a topic of discussion here as since the last licensing sessions, 
when the magistrates, anxious to reduce the number of public-houses 
and dram-shops, refused to renew the licences of many whose mis- 
conduct had incurred the penalties of the law, or whose entire pursuit 
of the dram -selling trade appeared to be injurious to the morals of 
the community. The consequences of this refusal have, in many 
cases, been extremely salutary, but in others highly injurious to 
respectable and industrious individuals," owing, as the writer 
explains, to the Justices' failure to discriminate (Liverpool Mercury, 
7th December 1821). 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 
1830, p. 76. 


licence after the manner in which a tea licence 
was granted." 1 Other benches virtually adopted 
this policy of freedom of their own accord. Thus, 
in the Morley division of Devon, the magistrates, 
after for years pursuing a restrictive policy, came 
to the conclusion that the effect of this was 
merely to " raise the price of beer beyond its 
natural level/' and decided, about 1827-28, 
" to grant a licence to every man of respectable 
character who applied for it ; in fact, they opened 
the trade in public-houses." The 60 or 70 public- 
houses which had for years supplied their 33,000 
population were suddenly increased to 110. 
" The trade in beer," said one of the acting Jus- 
tices, " should be quite as open as the trades of 
the butchers and bakers." 2 In part of Cornwall 
we are told licences had, about 1827-30, 
become perfectly free ; they " are granted to 
any one who chooses to ask for them." 3 The 
same influences were at work in the northern 
counties. In Durham, where a period of laxity 
had been, after 1787, followed by one of restric- 
tion, and where, during the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century, " the habit " of the magis- 

1 House of Commons, 13th April 1826 (Plain Papers relating to 
tht Excise, by John Owens (Linlithgow, 1878), p. 87). 

2 Report of House of Commons Committee on. the Sale of Beer, 
1833, pp. 57-58. 

3 End. 1830, p. 89. 


trates had been "to impose a considerable 
restraint upon the granting of new licences . , . 
the feeling . . . gave way to the general prin- 
ciples of free trade. It was thought that the 
throwing licences more freely open would be the 
means at least of an improvement of the article 
itself, and restraining the monopoly of brewers 
over public-houses." The Justices forgot, said 
a repentant member of this very bench, giving 
evidence in 1834 as to the disastrous increase 
in drunkenness, that spirits were not the " same 
as groceries/' l Licences were accordingly multi- 
plied freely. " You would scarcely now be able," 
said this witness, " to put your foot down without 
meeting with a public-house ; they are found in 
all directions." In Leeds, too, it was stated in 
1833 that "the number of ... licensed vic- 
tuallers has increased. We probably were too 
tight at one time : we kept down the number, 
and we found that it only had the effect of 
increasing the value of the premises. . . . Every 
year we have increased the number." 2 Partial 
and gradual as was this change of policy among 
county benches, we see it reflected unmistak- 
ably in the statistics. The total number of ale- 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, 
p. 311. 

2 Report of House of Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 
1833, p. 109. 


house licences increased from 47,933 in 1824 to 
51,482 in 1830, and the number of these en- 
joying also a spirit licence bounded up from 
37,196 in 1824 to 42,599 in 1826 and 45,675 
in 1830. 1 

Meanwhile the agitation in favour of freedom 
of trade in alcoholic liquors was steadily growing 
in the House of Commons. Those who take the 
trouble to read the parliamentary proceedings 
from 1818 to 1830 become aware, alongside of 
the more sensational episodes of the time, of a 
persistent clamour by a small knot of people 
against the Justices' control of the liquor traffic. 
This took many forms. Pathetic petitions from 
persons distressed at the withdrawal of their 
licences were laid before the House, and these 
hard cases were dilated on by Ministers as well 
as by private members. Owners of house pro- 
perty and newly established brewers found Free 
Traders in the lobby ready to hear their tales 
of new licences unwarrantably refused. Old- 
established publicans were sympathetically 
listened to when they complained of being 
ordered to close their houses on Sundays or at 
fixed hours at night, or to provide a parlour, a 
fire, and a newspaper, whilst disorderly coffee- 

1 See Appendices to First Report of Commissioners of Inland 
Revenue, 1857. 


houses and " night - cookshops " were free to 
do as they liked. There were rumours of 
political favouritism in the licensing work of the 
aldermen of the close municipal corporations ; 
whilst as to the metropolis it was continuously 
asserted that all the respectable magistrates 
withdrew from the Middlesex licensing sessions, 
so despicable had become the social status 
and personal conduct of the acting Justices. 
Even the county magnates were charged with 
a selfish refusal to allow alehouses in their 
villages, because such places gave them trouble 
as haunts of poachers and Radicals. 1 More 
influential was probably the alarm felt at 
a falling off in the consumption of beer 
which not only threatened the interests of the 
revenue, but was felt to be a serious loss to 
the producers of barley and hops. 2 The old 
prejudice against the consumption of ardent 

1 See for all this the various petitions, bills, and debates recorded 
in Hansard for the period, e.g. vol. xxxix., 28th January 1819 ; vol. 
xl., 5th and 21st May 1819 ; 6th, 14th, 24th, and 29th May, and 
18th July 1822 ; 28th February 1823 ; 13th and 21st April 1826 ; 
7th and 14th March, and 21st May 1828. 

2 The revenue statistics indicate that "the production of 1722, 
when beer was the beverage of the people at every meal, gave a barrel 
of beer per head ; but in 1830 the rate of consumption had fallen to 
half a barrel per head. In the meantime the consumption of tea had 
increased from 1 ounce per head to 36 ounces, and spirits from half a 
gallon to six-sevenths of a gallon per head " (Twenty-Eighth Report 
of Commissioners of Inland Revenue (1885), p. 20, quoting that of 
the Commissioners of Excise for 1833). 


spirits was revived. Beer, on the other hand, 
was still universally regarded as a necessary of 
life. Hence the more practical of the reformers 
who wanted to abolish the licensing system alto- 
gether confined their immediate proposal to 
"free trade in beer." Measures in 1823 and 
1824 encouraged the manufacture of a cheaper 
beer, and permitted the " home brewer " to retail 
his product for consumption off the premises 
without a Justices' licence. 1 These Acts failed 
to shake the increased hold of the great brewing 
firms. " Intermediate beer/' as the cheaper pro- 
duct was called, did not become popular, and 
the unregulated " retail brewers " obtained only 
an insignificant fraction of the trade. It so 
happened that both the great political parties 
were inclined, though for different reasons, to 
favour what Sydney Smith called " Free Trade 
in ale and alehouses." To the Eadicals it 
seemed a step towards the universal freedom 
of every one to do what he liked with his own. 2 

1 4 George IV. c. 51 (1823), and 5 George IV. c. 54 (1824), the 
latter containing also important modifications of the tax on spirit 
licences (see History of Taxation and Taxes, by S. Dowell (1888), 
vol. iv. ; the Beer Manual (1892), and the Spirit Manual, Historical 
and Technical, both by Joseph Scarisbrick). 

2 Sydney Smith, writing on 26th December 1826 to Edward 
Davenport who was entering Parliament, said, " Advocate free trade 
in ale and alehouses " (Memoir of Sydney Smith, by Lady Holland, 
vol. ii. p. 271). It is wrongly dated in Temperance in the Victorian 
Age, by Dr. Dawson Burns (1897), p. 173. In the House of Commons, 


The Tories were captivated by the idea of 
encouraging the growth of hops and barley to 
the benefit of the agricultural interest, and of 
enabling the sale of beer to displace that of 
spirits or wine to the advantage, it was assumed, 
of the public health. Presently the movement 
obtained the great aid of Huskisson, who was 
then, step by step, liberating the trade of the 
country from fiscal fetters. Against all these 
forces there seems to have been practically no 
opposition. No one at this time asserted the 
need for a temperance policy. Whatever may 
have been left of the movement for the reforma- 
tion of manners had, at any rate, become com- 
pletely ineffective in Parliament, in which the 
Radicals were, as Daniel O'Connell observed, 

Slaney, one of the leading social reformers among the Radicals, em- 
phatically declared, in connection with Estcourt's Licensing Bill, that 
"he would not put into the hands of .any individual a power affecting 
the price of what in England was considered the second necessary of 
life : such a power was contrary to the principles of Free Trade ; and 
he thought the general principle that the demand for goods ought to 
regulate the number of vendors should be applied to this trade as 
well as any other " (Hansard, 21st May 1828). The attitude of the 
most philanthropic and enlightened Radicals may be gathered also 
from an amazing article in the Edinburgh Review for September 1826, 
in which beer-drinking by the labourers is justified and glorified, the 
licensing Justices are ridiculed and denounced for attempting to 
regulate the number or conduct of public-houses, and the utmost 
freedom of competition in the liquor traffic is demanded. This 
article, though not catalogued by Lady Holland as Sydney Smith's, 
is evidently by him. In July 1826 he asks Jeffrey for permission to 
do it (Memoir^ vol. ii. p. 266). 


averse from anything like "this perpetual 
meddling with, the habits of the poor." 1 So far 
as excessive drinking led to disorder and crime, 
the answer of the Tory Government of that day 
was not any development of the restrictive and 
regulative policy of the licensing Justices, but 
the establishment of a highly disciplined preven- 
tive police. Even the " vested interests " which 
were threatened by Free Trade in beer were 
unable to offer a coherent opposition. The 
licensed victuallers had given themselves away 
to the Free Trade party by their persistent 
agitation against being regulated by the Justices, 
and when they pleaded the " sanctity of pro- 
perty," arising out of the monopoly which that 
very regulation by the Justices had created, they 
were simply not listened to. The brewers had 
a divided mind. They naturally desired the 
reduction of the taxation on beer, and the aboli- 
tion of the existing discrimination in favour of 
the home-brewed product. As brewers, they had 
all to gain by the throwing open of the retail 
trade. On the other hand, as owners of public- 
house property, they shared with the licensed 
victuallers themselves an alarm lest the selling 
value of their houses should be diminished by 
the abolition of their monopoly. After various 

1 Hansard, 24th August 1831. 


ineffectual attempts by private members, 1 Goul- 
burn, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 
Duke of Wellington's Ministry, determined in 
1830, as part of the Budget, both to remove the 
tax on beer and cider, and to throw the retail 
sale completely open. 2 The brewers thereupon 
publicly withdrew all opposition. The country 
gentlemen, appeased by the prospect of an 
increased demand for barley and hops, seem not 
to have realised that the whole control of the 
rural alehouse was about to be taken from them. 

1 Mention may here be made of a meritorious Act of 1828 got 
through, by Estcourt, which codified the law as to the Justices' pro- 
cedure in licensing, repealed a bewildering mass of old statutes, and 
in 1903 still forms the basis of the law (9 George IV. c. 61). His 
attempt to increase the regulative and restrictive powers of the Jus- 
tices was successfully opposed by the House of Commons, Sir J. C. 
Hobhouse declaring that the magistrates were in general already 
" too much disinclined to grant licences " (see Hansard, 14th and 
21st May 1828). The Justices' powers of supervision were even 
limited in such matters as their right to order licensed premises to 
be searched on mere suspicion of offence (Report of House of Commons 
Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 101), and their general 
authority was greatly weakened by abolishing the requirement of 
certificates of character, even for new licences, and by permitting an 
appeal from the Brewster Sessions to Quarter Sessions, The sale of 
beer for consumption off the premises was made free without licence. 
The power of two Justices peremptorily to "reject and put away " 
that is, suppress a common alehouse, under 11 Henry VII. c. 2. 
(1495) was explicitly repealed. 

2 Goulburn declared, as one of his reasons, * ' that the consump- 
tion of spirits had doubled in twenty years (1807-27), and while 
the beer and ale licences had fallen off, the spirit licences had 
increased by 11,000" (Beer Manual, by Joseph Scarisbrick (Wolver- 
hampton, 1892), p. 19). 



A perfunctory select committee, appointed to 
endorse a foregone conclusion, gave formal audi- 
ence to the exaggerated estimates of ruin appre- 
hended by existing licence - holders. 1 But no 
attempt was made to inquire what would be 
the effect of the measure on drunkenness and 
disorder. No one recalled the experience of Free 
Trade in liquor between 1689 and 1729 ; or that 
of the indiscriminate granting of licences and 
neglect of regulation between 1753 and 1787. 
No evidence was sought or tendered as to the 
relative social condition of districts in which 
licences had been restricted and publicans regu- 
lated, compared with those in which licences had 
been granted practically without limit or condi- 
tions. The decision to allow Free Trade in 
beer, momentous, as we shall see, in its con- 
sequences, may indeed be cited as the leading 
case of legislation based on abstract theory on 
axioms deduced from first principles without 
investigation of previous experiments, without 
inquiry into the existing facts, and even without 
any clear conception of the state of society which 
it was desired to bring about. The proposals of 
the Government were adopted in their entirety. 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on the Laws and 
Regulations restricting the Sale of Beer by retail, 1830 ; see also A 
Few Words on the Licensing System and the Proposed Unlimited 
Increase of Public- Houses (1830). 


The second reading of the Beer Bill was carried 
by the overwhelming majority of 245 to 29. 1 
Attempts to restrict the new beer-shops to sales 
for consumption off the premises only were 
defeated by large majorities in both houses. 
Within a few weeks from the introduction of 
the measure it had become law that, from and 
after the ensuing autumn, any person whose 
name was on the rate-book might open his house 
as a beer-shop free from any Justices 7 licence or 
control, merely on payment of two guineas to 
the local office of excise. 2 

So instantaneous and dramatic a transforma- 
tion as occurred in October 1830 has seldom 

1 Hansard, 4th May 1830 (vol. xxv.). 

2 11 George IV. and 1 William IV. c. 64 (1830) ; Hansard, vol. 
xxv. 1830, pp. 580, 1104, etc. ; History of England, by Spencer 
Walpole (1879), vol. ii. pp. 545-546; History of England during the 
Thirty Tears 1 Peace, by Harriet Martineau (1849), vol. i. ch. x. p. 
545. It lias been said, we know not on what authority, "that the 
Duke of Wellington considered that the passing of this Bill was a 
greater achievement than any of his military victories" (The Tem- 
perance Movement, by P. T. Winskill (1892), vol. i. p. 18). So fax- 
was the Free Trade policy carried by the executive government that 
retailers of table-beer only, charging not more than 1 Jd. per quart, 
whether for consumption on or off the premises, were exempted evert 
from taking out an excise licence or other formality (see Treasury 
letter of 9th November 1830 interpreting 42 George III. c. 38, sec. 
18 (1802), in the sense most favourable to freedom). Such " swankey 
shops," as they were called, remained for a whole generation absol- 
utely unenumerated, untaxed, unlicensed, and unrestricted (Report 
of Select Committee on the Operation of the Acts for the Sale of Beer, 
1850, pp. 44, 54, 75 ; History of Taxation and Taxes, by S. Dowell 
(1888), vol. iv. p. 97). ' ' 


been effected by any Act of Parliament. The 
very day on which the statute came into opera- 
tion, a perfect swarm of what, for some in- 
explicable reason, were called " Tom and Jerry 
shops" or " tiddly winks," were opened in every 
town and village. The excise offices were 
besieged by householders eager to pay the two 
guineas by which they acquired the privilege 
of retailing beer. In Liverpool alone there 
opened more than fifty additional beer - shops 
every day for several weeks. Within less than 
six months no fewer than 24,342 new beer-sellers 
had paid the excise fee, and the number still 
continued to grow with great rapidity. 1 It is 
impossible to describe the orgies that ensued. 
" The new Beer Bill," wrote Sydney Smith only 
a fortnight after it had come into force, "has 
begun its operations. Everybody is drunk. 
Those who are not singing are sprawling. The 
sovereign people are in a beastly state." 2 The 

1 "Within nineteen days from 10th October, as many as 800 
licences were taken out under the Act in Liverpool alone, and by the 
end of the year the total number of licences granted in England and 
Wales rose to 24,342" (The Temperance Movement, by P. T. Winskill, 
1892, vol. i. p. 18). The number rose to 30,978 in 1831, 33,515 in 
1832, and to no fewer than 45,717 in 1838. See p. 44 of Thirteenth 
Eeport of Commissioners of Inland Revenue, 1870 ; History of 
Taxation and Taxes, by S. Dowell, 1888, vol. iv. pp. 95-96. 

2 Sydney Smith to John Murray, 24th October 1830, in Lady 
Holland's Memoir, vol. ii. p. 310. Only four years before, as pre- 
viously mentioned, he had been advocating Free Trade in ale and in 


new beer-shops were naturally kept by all sorts 
and conditions of men persons who had been 
refused public-house licences on account of bad 
character, "petty tradesmen who would rather 
get their bread by any other way than by hard 
labour/' l poor widows set up in an easy business 
by the charity of their neighbours, or even by 
gifts from the poor rate, unemployed labourers 
whose cottages happened to be rated, and all 
the nondescript class of those who combined a 
little poaching and gambling with the occasional 
receipt of stolen property. Many of these per- 
sons were mere pawns in the hands of those who 
supplied the beer. To take advantage of Free 
Trade, a new type of brewer sprang up, whose 
agents travelled from village to village to per- 
suade all and sundry persons to start selling 
beer, even in the smallest way, advancing the 
two guineas for the excise fee and supplying 
casks on credit. One firm boasted in 1833 of 
having itself opened 200 such beer -shops in 
the town of Birmingham and the neighbour- 
hood. 2 In country villages, "where there was 
formerly only one public-house," the workman 
had " now to run the gauntlet through three or 
four beer -shops, in each of which are fellow- 

1 Eeport of the Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 7, 
2 Ibid. p. 170. 


labourers carousing who urge him to stay and 
drink with them. 77 1 The local veto exercised 
by the squire, the clergyman, and the principal 
inhabitants was ruthlessly broken down. One 
large brewer prided himself on having set up 
beer-shops throughout Hampshire in one hamlet 
after another, where, as he said, the selfish policy 
of the farmers had made the labourers " hardly 
know the taste of beer/' a commodity which he 
intended should become to the rural population, 
" as it has to the inhabitants of towns, almost a 
necessary of life." 2 The situation and character 
of the new drink-shops were as harmful as their 
numbers. Hitherto the houses in which in- 
toxicants had been allowed to be sold had been 
premises of a certain size and prominence of 
position, devoted exclusively to this trade, and 
situated in such a way as to be always under 
public supervision. Not only was beer now sold 
at every baker's and petty chandler's shop : 
regular drinking - places were opened in cellars 
and back premises in every alley in the town 
slums ; in lonely cottages in the country by- 
lanes ; often, indeed, in mere sheds behind the 
village street, by the roadside, or in the remote 
recesses of a wood. It is easy to imagine, in 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, 
p. ai. a IbuL p. 200. 


the absence of any efficient police, the accom- 
paniments of gambling, brutal amusements, and 
licentiousness, which the competition of beer- 
sellers for custom encouraged in such places. 
The regulations of Parliament as to hours 
of closing, etc., were simply set at naught. 
" Houses of this description/ 7 writes one observer 
in 1834, " sprung up in every corner of the land, 
by the roadside, in every city, town, and village 
. . . have become the resort of individuals of 
depraved, abandoned, and desperate character," 
who are " encouraged in but too many cases by 
the loose principles of those who have adopted 
this line of trade." l 

It is hard to find a redeeming feature of this 
debauch. 2 The optimistic prophecy that an 
increased consumption of beer would be accom- 
panied by a permanent reduction in dram- 
drinking was completely falsified. For the 
first two years that the 30,000 new alehouses 
were plying the labourers with beer, there was 
a slight check to the growing consumption of 

1 Bristol Journal, 25th October 1834. 

2 Apart from the profit to the public revenue, and to the growers 
of barley and hops involved in the greater consumption of beer, the 
only thing that can be said in favour of the new beer-houses seems to 
be that they did multiply the facilities for lodging the travelling 
artisan or .poor pedestrian, a kind of accommodation which had in 
some places been deficient (see the experiences given in Bamford's 
Early Days). 


spirits. 1 But within a very short time this had 
again risen to a total never before reached. Nor 
are the reasons for this increase far to seek. 
The existing licensed victuallers naturally strove 
to develop the sale of the article which the beer- 
shops could not supply, with the result, as we 
are told in 1834, that " many of the old victual- 
ling houses where beer was principally consumed, 
and not spirits, have been turned into splendid 
gin - shops." 2 It was this new competition of 
the beer-shop, in fact, which led to the creation 
of the modern " gin-shop rising like a palace," 
which, in the words of a witness of 1834, 
" absorbs the wealth and the health and the 
life of the labouring class." 3 Contemporary 
observers described the transformation " A low 
dirty public -house with only one doorway" 
would be converted "into a splendid edifice, 
the front ornamented with pilasters supporting 

1 The amount of British spirits charged to duty in England and 
Wales was 3,684,049 gallons in 1825 ; 7,407,204 in 1826, on reduction 
of duty ; 7,759,687 in 1828 ; 7,732,101 in 1830 ; 7,281,900 in 1832 ; 
7,644,301 in 1834; 7,930,490 in 1838; and 9,076,381 in 1845 (see 
Appendix Kb. 19 in First Report of Commissioners of Inland Revenue, 

2 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, p. 
115. " The "beer-shops have tended to increase the number of dram- 
shops. . . . The publicans complain that they were compelled to 
adopt the system of opening a dram-shop ... in order to make up 
for the deficiency in the sale of their beer" (ibid. p. 53). 

8 lUd. p. 99. 


a handsome cornice and entablature and 
balustrade, and the whole elevation remarkably 
striking and handsome ; the doorways were 
increased in number from one, and that a small 
one only three or four feet wide, to three, and 
each of those eight to ten feet wide ; the floor 
was sunk so as to be level with the street ; and 
the doors and windows glazed with very large 
single squares of plate glass, and the gasfittings 
of the most costly description ; the whole excited 
the surprise of the neighbourhood. , . . When 
this edifice was completed, notice was given 
by placards taken round the parish ; a band of 
music was stationed in front . . . the street 
became almost impassable from the number of 
people collected; and when the doors were 
opened the rush was tremendous ; it was in- 
stantly filled with customers and continued so 
till midnight. I naturally concluded . . . that 
this house had all the customers . . . (but) we 
found all the other gin - palaces were equally 
crowded as before; they had all lowered their 
prices to compete with this new shop, and 
attracted a large number of customers ; each 
gin-shop, in fact, was as fall as it was possible 
to be of customers. " l Moreover, the establish- 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, 
p. 274. It became increasingly the custom for the licensed victuallers 


ment of new beer-shops was a direct cause of an 
increase in tlie number of fully licensed public- 
houses. It became the policy of some licensing 
benches to press and persuade the beer -shop 
keepers to take out a licence for the sale of 
spirits in order to get some hold over them, 
and so obtain a more effective guarantee of 
orderly conduct. 1 Even the regulations which 
the Justices had made for the public - houses 
had to be relaxed in face of the competition 
of the unregulated beer-house. Up and down 
the country, as we have described, the Justices 
had striven to enforce some measure of Sunday 
closing. Parliament had forbidden the beer- 
shops to be open after ten o'clock at night or 
before five in the morning, but had made no 
special law as to Sunday hours. The conse- 
quence was that where the Justices had insisted 
on the public - houses being entirely closed on 

to employ musicians and singers. '* Many of the publicans," we are 
told in 1834, * ' have organs in their houses " j and in Manchester, 
declared the Boroughreeve, they even played psalm tunes on Sunday 
evenings, " as an inducement for the parties to go and spend their 
money there rather than go to the beer- shops ' ' ({bid. p. 53). No licence 
or permission was then required for public music or dancing except 
(by 25 George II. c. 2) within twenty miles of London, and in a few 
towns by their Local Acts. 

1 Thus, both at Dartmouth and at Torririgton (Devon) the magis- 
trates, between 1830 and 1833, deliberately granted new licences in 
order to obviate the establishment of more beer -shops not under 
their control (First Report of Municipal Corporation Commissioners, 
Appendix, vol. i. pp. 475 and 671). 


Sunday, or closed until after divine service, 
they were practically compelled to relax these 
rules and allow the licensed victuallers, like the 
beer-shops, to be open all Sunday, provided that 
they respected the general prohibition of drink- 
ing during the hours of divine service. 1 

By the time the new Parliament met, in 
March 1831, the first results of Free Trade in 
beer had caused a perfect panic of alarm among 
those who were responsible for the peace and 
good order of the countryside. The winter had, 
in the south of England, been one of almost 
constant uproar and sullen rebellion, during 
which ricks had been burnt and machinery 
destroyed. 2 The new beer-houses, exempt from 
magisterial control, were the places of meeting 
of the disaffected labourers, and thus, ifc was 
said, the centres where rebellion was fomented 
and plans of incendiarism were concocted. 
Resolutions poured in from Quarter Sessions, 
expatiating on the evils which the Act of 1830 
had brought on peaceful villages. 3 The bishops 

1 See the case of Stockport (Cheshire) in Report of House of 
Commons Committee on the Sale of Beer, 1833, p. 238. 

2 A description of the riots and rick burnings in Dorset in 1830 is 
given in The Jouwial of Mary Frampton, edited by H. Gr. Mundy, 
1885, pp. 361-368. 

8 The following is but a sample of innumerable contemporary 
resolutions : " That it is the opinion of the magistrates here present 
that, in villages and country places, the provisions of the Act 


in the House of Lords forcibly urged on the 
new Whig Ministry the " alarming increase of 
immorality, pauperism, and vice among the 
lower orders arising from the great number of 
beer-shops." l " Every third or fourth house in 
some of the country towns/' said the Bishop of 
Bath, " had become a beer-shop." 2 

Petitions from Justices and clergymen, church- 
wardens and overseers, vividly described the 
horrors of the new trade the tippling, the late 
hours, the noise and disorder, the indiscriminate 
intercourse of young and old and both sexes, 
the music and dancing, the gambling, the receiv- 
ing of stolen goods or the proceeds of poaching, 
the filling of the prisons and the raising of 
the poor rates and beseeched the House of 
Commons for an immediate repeal of the Act. 5 

(11 George IV. and 1 William IV. c. 51) have been productive of great 
inconvenience and injury both to the peace and good order and morals 
of the people. That in towns similar bad consequences do not appear 
to have arisen, but that, on the whole, the multiplication of houses for 
drinking beer on the premises has been productive of serious evil" 
(MB. Minutes, Quarter Sessions, "Wiltshire, 5th April 1831). 

1 Hansard, 24th March 1831. 

2 Ibid. 23rd June 1831. 

3 Testimony to similar effect was constantly repeated all over the 
country. The chairman of the Cheshire Quarter Sessions in 1833, 
in charging the grand jury, pointed out "that the castle of Chester 
contained a greater number of persons for trial at the ensuing assizes 
than was ever known in the memory of man.'* He unhesitatingly 
attributed this " to the general demoralisation arising from . . . the 
pernicious effects of the Beer Bill. ... He had had repeated com- 
plaints against beer-house-keepers for allowing gambling in their 


Brougham, Melbourne, and Althorp all admitted 
tlie weight of evidence against the new system, 
but they suggested that the county magistrates 
and clergymen were exaggerating; that the 
evils were local only, not prevailing to the 
same extent in the northern towns ; that matters 
would right themselves in due time ; and that 
the Government were not u prepared to abandon 
the principle of the measure, and to place again 
under any local authorities the choice of the 
places in which there should be houses for the 
sale of beer." l No amount of evidence as to 
the harm which the new beer-houses were doing 
could shake the determination of the doctrinaires. 
It was in vain that nearly all the Whig Govern- 
ment's own Commissioners notably those who 
investigated the Old Poor Law and the Muni- 
cipal Corporations brought back to London the 
strongest testimony against the new beer-shops. 
It was useless for the first House of Commons 
Committee on Drunkenness in 1834 to report 
in the strongest terms against "the increased 
number and force of the temptations ... by 
the additional establishment of places at which 

houses ; at such places farm-servants were plundered of their earn- 
ings, and offences were in consequence increased. ... So long as the 
beer-shops were permitted to remain, he feared they (the Justices) 
would be impeded in their efforts to do anything for the benefit of 
the county" (Chester Courant, 31st December 1833). 
1 Lord Althorp (see Hansard, 30th June 1831). 


intoxicating drinks are sold/' amounting to " not 
less than one such place to every twenty families 
throughout the United Kingdom/' * Practically 
nothing was done by the Whig Ministry to alter 
the law. Our investigation into the licensing 
system thus ends, as it began, with the free sale 
of one kind of intoxicant. The student of con- 
temporary accounts of the nineteenth century 
Free Trade in beer will find it easy to parallel, 
almost line for line and word for word, the con- 
temporary descriptions of the previous experi- 
ment of the eighteenth century Free Trade in 

1 Report of House of Commons Committee on Drunkenness, 1834, 
p. iii. 



WE are not in a position at present to carry 
beyond the passage of the Beer Act of 1830 our 
detailed description of the development of the 
English licensing system. When we have com- 
pleted the first volumes of our History of Local 
Government, bringing the story down to the 
reforms of 1832-35, we hope to be able to con- 
tinue our investigations down to the end of the 
nineteenth century. In due course, therefore, 
we anticipate an interesting voyage of discovery 
among sessions records and local newspapers, 
controversial pamphlets and other contemporary 
documents from which we shall hope to describe 
other interesting experiments in licensing policy, 
and as far as possible chronicle their results. 
Meanwhile, in order just to round off the present 
fragment of history, we append a few paragraphs 
of extremely superficial survey of the legislative 
repentance since the Act of 1830. 



The widespread discontent of the Justices of 
the Peace, and of many of the most practical 
social reformers of the day, with the results of 
Free Trade in beer, led, for the next few years, 
to very little result. 1 

A strong House of Commons Committee of 

1834, appointed at the instance of James Silk 
Buckingham, M.P., to investigate the prevalence 
of drunkenness, is important as marking the first 
appearance at Westminster of the Temperance 
Party. In spite of valuable and voluminous 
evidence, which, by Buckingham's energy, was 
reprinted 2 and widely circulated, nothing was 
done. A House of Commons Committee in 
1833 had already found abundant confirmation 
of the evil results of the new beer-houses, but 

1 A full examination of the effect of the Beer Act of 1830 on the 
licensing policy of the Justices, on the brewers' monopoly and the 
tied-house system, and on pauperism and crime, must "be left for a 
subsequent volume. The student may be referred, in addition to 
the authorities quoted, to the following important sources prior to 

1835, viz. the Eeport of the House of Commons Committee of 1834 
on an inquiry into drunkenness, presided over by J. S. Buckingham, 
before which evidence was given by Place, Chadwick, and the 
earliest temperance reformers ; the volume entitled Evidence on 
Drunkenness presented by the House of Commons by the Select Com- 
mittee (1834), 591 pp. octavo ; the reports of the Assistant Com- 
missioners in the First Appendix to the Poor Law Inquiry 
Commissioners Report of 1834 ; the evidence taken by the Factory 
Commissioners in 1833; and the works of Kay, Gaskell and 

2 See the thick volume entitled JSmdence on Drunkenness pre- 
sented to the House of Commons by the Select Committee (1834). 


led to no important change. The second Beer 
Act of 1834 (4 and 5 William IV. c. 85) imposed 
the futile requirement that, for sales on the 
premises, intending beer-sellers should, except 
in London, produce a certificate of personal 
character signed by any six rated householders 
of the parish, and raised the excise fee from 
two to three guineas. In 1840, by the third 
Beer Act (3 and 4 Viet. c. 61), a similar certificate 
was required as regards persons subsequently 
entering the trade on each annual renewal ; and 
such persons were restricted to occupiers of 
15, 11, or 8 rateable value in London, 
provincial towns, and rural districts respectively. 
But it still remained possible for the number of 
beer-shops to be indefinitely multiplied. Under 
these circumstances no effective regulation of the 
traffic was possible. 

Up and down the country the Justices found 
themselves paralysed by the Beer Act, by the 
public opinion which had brought it into law, 
and by an administration of the Excise Depart- 
ment in fullest accord with the spirit of Free 
Trade in liquor. It was useless to attempt any 
restriction in the number of fully licensed 
houses when beer-shops could be multiplied 
ad libitum. In many cases it appeared the best 
policy to press the beer-shop-keeper to accept 



a spirit licence, in order that his premises might 
come under some control. 1 On the whole, the 
tendency for the next two decades after 1830 
seems to have been for the Justices to take up 
a purely ministerial attitude. Whatever control 
or authority there was to be exercised over the 
sale of liquor was left to the decision of Parlia- 
ment, the Commissioners of Excise, and the 
metropolitan police. In particular, the regula- 
tion of the hours of closing, which, as we have 
seen, had always been decided by the Justices 
as a condition of their licence, now came to be 
entirely statutory, 2 taken up primarily as a 
matter of police. This legislation was gradual 
and experimental. "In 1839 a Police Act was 
passed for the Metropolis, which contained a 
clause closing public-houses from midnight on 
Saturday till one o'clock on Sunday afternoon. 

1 In a few cases we have traced a great increase in licences since 
1830, especially in the old corporate towns. Thus Chichester 
(Susses), with a population in 1831 of 8270, had, under the close 
corporation, twenty-seven licensed houses. In 1891 the population 
had only grown to 10,808, hut there were in 1896 no fewer than 
ninety -two "on" licences and fourteen "off" licences (vol. v. of 
Proceedings of Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing, 1897-99). 

2 A clause in the 1830 Acts had prescribed the hours of closing for 
the new beer-shops, viz. from 10 P.M. to 4 A.M. every night, and 
from 10 to 1 and 3 to 5 on Sundays (11 George IY. and 1 William 
IY. c. 51 and c. 64). The Act of 1834 (sec. 6) gave the Justices power 
to regulate hours, but this was repealed in 1840 by 3 and 4 Yict. cap. 
61, sec. 14) (see The Licensing Acts, by J. Paterson, 13th edition 
(1900), pp. 260, 271). 


This provision was extended to Liverpool in 
1842, to Manchester in 1845, to Newcastle-on- 
Tyne in 1846, and subsequently to Sheffield. 
In 1848 a Bill was passed covering the whole 
of England, where public-houses were closed from 
midnight on Saturday to 12.30 P.M. on Sunday, 
except in London and Liverpool, where the 
hour was 1 P.M." l 

About the middle of the century we see the 
effect of the growing force of the temperance 
movement in the appointment of successive 
parliamentary committees, whose investigations 
confirmed the repeated complaints as to the evil 
results of the unlimited and uncontrolled beer- 
houses. 2 But the current in favour of Free 
Trade was still strong. In 1860, by the French 
Treaty Act, the Government could even establish, 
with much public approval, a new class of 
drinking-places, by its wine licence to refresh- 
ment houses, and a new source of family supply, 
by its off-licence for wine to grocers 3 and other 
retail shops. 3 

1 The Temperance Movement, by P. T. Winskill (1892), vol. iii. 
p. 131 ; see Temperance in the Victorian Age, by Dr. Dawson Burns 
(1897), p. 176. 

2 These Blue-books are dated 1849-50, 1852-53 (in which the 
reports of the previous inquiries of 1817, 1818, 1830, 1833, and 1849- 
1850 were reprinted), and 1854-55. 

3 23 and 24 Viet. c. 27 (1860). In 1861 and 1863 spirit- dealers 
and beer-dealers were allowed to sell by retail in small quantities. 


During these years falls, too, the much 
debated Liverpool policy of granting a licence 
practically to every respectable applicant ; 1 
which was, as we now find, merely a revival of 
the experiment tried by several county benches 
in 1828-30. Not until 1869 could Parliament 
nerve itself to retrace the step taken in 1830 
and bring all licensed premises under the 
Justices' control. 2 

The Act of 1869 seems to us to mark 
practically the first step in the path of legis- 
lative repentance. Down to this date, though 
the fully-licensed public-house was under the 
Justices, the retailers of table-beer only were, as 
we have already mentioned, neither enumerated 
nor inspected, neither licensed nor taxed, by any 
authority. The beer -shops, cider -shops, 'and 
wine-shops, whether for consumption on or off 
the premises, could open on payment merely of 
an excise fee. Henceforth, all these sellers of 
intoxicating drinks had to obtain the Justices' 
licence, though the discretion to refuse a renewal 
was limited in the case of then existing beer- 
shops to the well-known four grounds of 
refusal 3 The privileged status thus given to 

1 For this experiment see The Temperance Movement, by T. P. 
WinsMll (1892), vol. iii. pp. 135-137. 

2 See the Blue-book of 1866-67, which led up to the Act of 1869. 

3 82 and 33 Viet. c. 27 (1869). This privileged status of the 


the "ante-1869" beer-houses is important, as 
introducing for the first time a limitation of the 
discretion of the Justices in refusing a licence, 
and also as making a sharp distinction between 
the renewal of an existing licence and the grant 
of a new one. There has been no extension of 
this distinction. It has, on the contrary, been 

The Act of 1869 gave a like privileged status 
to the holders of licences for the sale of beer for 
consumption off the premises, but this provision 
was repealed by the Acts of 1880 and 1882, so 
that renewals may be refused in these cases 
without cause assigned. The Act of 1872, con- 
solidating the law as to offences by publicans, 
with some minor reforms of value, further 
strengthened the Justices' power, 1 and gave 
them renewed discretion as to the hours of 
closing elsewhere than in the metropolis a 
discretion since limited by the Act of 1874, 
which fixes the present closing hours. An in- 
conclusive parliamentary inquiry in 1877-78 led 
only to another thick Blue-book. 

Four more statutes remain to be cited, all 

" ante-1869 beer-houses " was intended to apply only to their first 
application to the Justices, and the Act was temporary only. In 
1870 the privilege was extended to all subsequent renewals, and the 
Act was made permanent. 
1 See the Blue-book of 1872. 


significantly in the direction of restriction. The 
Sunday Closing (Wales) Act of 1881 made law 
for Wales and Monmouthshire one of the most 
important of the conditions imposed by the 
Justices of 1787. The Act of 1886 prohibiting 
the sale of liquor to children for consumption on 
the premises, and that of 1901 forbidding such 
sale at all except in sealed vessels, represent an 
entirely new departure, never thought of by 
the magistrates of the eighteenth century. 
Finally, the " black list " established by the Act 
of 1902 reminds us of the precisely similar 
provision included in the " articles " under 
James I. three centuries before. 

But the most important part of the history 
since 1830 is to be found, we think, in the 
wonderful story of the growth of Temperance 
organisations and their effect in changing public 
opinion. That change, as yet reflected only to 
a small extent by the contents of the statute- 
book, and unfortunately not much in the total 
consumption of alcoholic liquor, 1 began to be 
perceptible in legislative projects and parlia- 
mentary debates between 1860 and 1870, and 

1 See the statistics given in The Temperance Problem, by J. 
Eowntree and A. Sherwell (1899). In 1897 the average consumption 
per head was 1 '03 gallons spirits, 0'40 gallons wine, and 31'4 gallons 
beer per annum (Final Report of the Royal Commission on Liquor 
Licensing, 1899, p. 362). 


markedly influenced those of the following 
decade. Since about 1877, at any rate, it may 
be traced in the growing stringency of the 
licensing policy of nearly all benches of magis- 
trates. The outcome of this transformation of 
opinion sometimes reminds us of the movement 
of 1786-87, and sometimes, by its contrasts, 
marks the changes of a couple of centuries. 

The popular movement in favour of Local 
Option and Local Veto recalls one of the widely 
adopted devices of 1787. On the other hand, 
such powerful aid to the cause of temperance as 
has been given by the London County Council 
was not looked for in the municipal administra- 
tion of the eighteenth century. Still less could 
the reformers of that day have contemplated 
the idea of municipalising the liquor traffic. It 
never occurred to the Justices of the eighteenth 
century to bargain with a brewer for the sur- 
render of two or three existing licences in return 
for one new one, because, as we have seen, it 
never entered into their heads, or those of the 
lawyers of the time, that there could be any 
question of compensation. 1 And it is only within 
the last few years that the licensing benches of 

1 For a discussion of compensation, see The Place of Compensation 
in Temperance fief orm, by C. P. Sanger (1901), one of the publications 
of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 


the present generation have plucked up courage 
to exercise the discretion which their predecessors 
under George the Third used so freely, in sup- 
pressing licensed houses which were unnecessary 
for the supply of the legitimate wants of the 
neighbourhood. 1 

It is interesting to notice that, whereas in 
the middle of the nineteenth century the tend- 
ency seemed to be to take the licensing and 
regulation of the liquor traffic out of the hands 
of the local authorities, and to make it as exclu- 
sively part of the national administration as are 
the Factories and "Workshops Acts, the tendency 
of the last quarter of a century has been to 
restore it to the sphere of Local Government. 

On this note we pause. We prefer to draw 
no inferences and to come to no conclusion until 
we have had opportunities of further investiga- 

1 For the case of Sharp v. Wakefield (1 Appeal Cases, 1891, p. 473), 
in which this right of the Justices was elaborately argued, and 
ultimately upheld, see The Licensing Acts, by J. Paterson (13th edit. 
1900), pp. 397-407, or vol. ix, of the Proceedings of the Royal Com- 
mission on Liquor Licensing^ 1897-99. 



THE Societies for the Reformation of Manners appear to 
have been established soon after the Revolution, and 
securing, from 1691 onwards, the patronage of the Queen 
and repeated commendations from Parliament, they grew 
rapidly, during the ensuing years, into a large and 
influential organisation. We need not concern ourselves 
with the particular forms which they assumed, especially 
as the several societies were always dying away and 
being resuscitated, according to the waxing or waning of 
the feeling that public morals needed to be reformed. 
The various groups seem to have been composed of very 
different classes of persons. There were, in the grandest 
of them, great lawyers and divines, members of Parliament 
and other dignitaries in close connection with the Govern- 
ment. Others were composed of clergymen of the Church 
of England; there was one of Justices of the Peace, and 
several mainly of tradesmen ; there was one of persons 
connected with parish government in the metropolis ; 
one of constables ; and even one of " such as made it 
some part of their business to give information to a 
magistrate," that is to say, of professional informers. 1 

1 The main source of information for the earlier societies is An 
Account of the Rise and Progress of the Religiow Societies in the City 



These Societies for the Eeformation of Manners, which 
sprang up in most of the corporate towns as well as in 
the metropolis, set themselves to carry into execution the 
various royal proclamations " for the encouragement of 
piety and virtue, and for the preventing and punishing of 
vice, profaneness, and immorality," which we have already 
described. They repressed licentiousness and disorderly 
conduct rather than crimes against life or property. 
" We are told that many thousands have been brought to 
punishment for swearing and cursing; that a multitude 
of drunkards and profaners of the Lord's Day, some of 
whom kept, as it were, open markets within a few years 
past, have been made examples of ... that hundreds of 
disorderly houses, which were little better than stews, and 
nests for thieves, clippers, and coiners, etc., have been 
rooted out and suppressed . . . public disorders are 
remarkably cured; and, in short, vice is afraid and 
ashamed to show its head, where within a few years past 
it was daring and triumphant." 1 What the societies 
actually did seems to have been to pay the expenses of 
the prosecution of criminals, to encourage voluntary inf or- 

of London, etc., and of the Endeavours for Reformation of Manners 
which have teen made therein, by Josiali Woodward (London, 1698) ; 
see also An Address from the London Society for the Suppression of 
Vice (London, 1803) ; An Account of the Societies for Eeformation of 
Manners in London and Westminster and Other Parts of the Kingdom, 
Anon. (London, 1699) ; An Account of the Progress of the Reformation 
of Manners in England, etc., Anon., 12th edition (London, 1704) ; 
The Poor Man's Plea in Relation to all the Declarations, Acts of 
Parliament , etc., which have leen made or published for a Reformation 
of Manners and Suppressing Immorality in the Nation, by Daniel do 
Foe (London, 1698) ; Wilson's Memoirs of the Life and Times of 
Daniel de Foe (1830), i pp. 301-302. 

1 Quoted, in relation to the societies of 16904710, in An Address 
from the London Society for the Suppression of Vice (London, 1803), 
p. 79. 


mation as to breaches of the law, and, occasionally, at any 
rate, to employ paid officers, who were often sworn in as 
constables or deputy constables, to get up cases and 
apprehend offenders. Thus, when in 1698 the inhabitants 
of the Tower Hamlets were " much perplexed by pilfering 
the people, picklocks, housebreakers, and such ill persons," 
and annoyed by scenes of open profligacy, which the 
Justices of the Peace did nothing to repress, the local 
Society for the Reformation of Manners set to work, and 
were soon able to report that " by means of this Society 
alone about 2000 persons have been legally prosecuted 
and convicted, either as keepers of houses of bawdry and 
disorder, or as whores, night-walkers, and the like. . . . 
They have also been instrumental to put down several 
music houses, which had degenerated into notorious 
nurseries of lewdness and debauchery." 1 

It is needless to say that this repressive activity was 
wholly directed against the drunkenness and immorality 
of the humbler classes, not against the licentiousness of 
the rich. This made them unpopular with the people, 
and called forth the animadversions of De Foe. His Poor 
Man's Plea was a sturdy protest against the prevailing 
tendency to repress, with savage punishments, the dis- 
orderly amusements and licentiousness of the common 
people, whilst allowing practical freedom to the rich to be 
as idle and vicious as they pleased. "These are," he 
said, "all cobweb laws, in which the small flies are 
catched, and the great ones break through. My Lord 
Mayor has whipped about the poor beggars, and a few 
scandalous whores have been sent to the House of 
Correction; some alehouse -keepers and vintners have 
been fined for drawing drink on the Sabbath day, but all 
1 Woodward's Account, pp. 74, 78, 79. 


this falls upon us of the mob, as if all the vice lay among 
us. ... The very benches of our Justices are infected. 
Tis hard, gentlemen, to be punished for a crime by a 
man as guilty as ourselves ; this is really punishing men 
for being poor, which is no crime at all." l After the 
death of Queen Anne the Societies for the Kef ormation of 
Manners lost the patronage of the Court and of the 
fashionable world ; but they evidently continued to exist, 
in one form or another, for more than half a century. 

In 1786 begins a new outburst of an analogous volun- 
tary association of much broader type. We trace this to 
the influence of the Eev. H. Zouch, a Yorkshire Justice of 
the Peace of great energy and ability. 2 The rapid growth 
of a new manufacturing population in the West Riding 
had brought about an obvious breakdown of the primitive 
organisation of local constabulary. To quote the panic- 
stricken utterances of the principal newspaper of the 
neighbourhood, " The overflowings of vice and immorality, 
the vast increase of crimes, and the precarious situation of 
property, are such as to call aloud for the exertion of 
every individual who has either the good of his country, 

1 Wilson's Memoirs of the Life and Times of Daniel de J?oe t vol. i. 
p. 200. 

2 The Eev. Henry Zouch, Rector of Swillington and Tankersley, 
and chaplain to the Marchioness of Kockingham, was for many years 
the most active and influential of the West Eiding Justices. His 
pamphlet, Hints respecting the Public Police (London, 1786), marked 
by good sense and ability, seems to have had a wide circulation. He 
was deputed to go to London in 1790, to confer with the Proclamation 
Society as to means of improving the police (Leeds Intelligencer, 21st 
July 1789), On Ms death in 1795, it was said that," he displayed an 
accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the laws of England, an 
unbiassed integrity in the administration of justice, and a most con- 
descending attention to the complaints of the lower classes of society " 
(Lteds Intelligencer, 29th June 1795). 


or the safety of his own person or property at heart." 1 
Zouch published a pamphlet entitled Hints respecting the 
Public Police, and brought such pressure to bear on his 
fellow-magistrates that Quarter Sessions, in April 1786, 
u earnestly recommended to the principal inhabitants of 
all places to agree in uniting together under certain rules 
and regulations for the better purpose of detecting felons, 
cheats, vagrants, night-walkers, and night-poachers, pawn- 
brokers who are often guilty of malpractices, and par- 
ticularly in receiving stolen goods knowing them to be 
such, sellers by false weights and measures, persons 
adulterating or improperly mixing meal, flour, etc., 
and, in short, all those who are in any way guilty 
of a breach of the law." 2 The Justices on the 
same occasion resolved to withhold licences from all 
public-houses offending against the law, and to organise 
privy searches for vagrants in their respective districts. 3 
The movement became one for a general vigilance in 
every branch of local administration. At a subsequent 
meeting, the Justices required all constables " as soon as 
may be, to call a meeting of the inhabitants within their 
respective districts, and to represent to them the necessity 
theva is for all honest men to form themselves into com- 
mittees, or otherwise to associate themselves as well in 
aid of the civil magistrate, as to superintend and regulate 
all parochial matters, more especially relative to the poor 
and the highways, where the overseers appointed are 
incapable or are negligent in the discharge of their duty." 4 

1 Leeds Intelligencer, 26th September 1786. 

2 Quarter Sessions, West Riding of Yorkshire, 24th April 1786 
(Leeds Intelligencer, 16th May 1786). 

3 Leeds Intelligencer, 16th May 1786. 

4 Quarter Sessions, 16th April 1787 (Leeds Intelligencer , 1st May 


Committees or societies of this kind, meeting weekly, 
were immediately formed in many West Riding towns. 1 
We may judge of their work by the following extract 
from the rules of the Pontefract society : " That we will 
on every proper occasion encourage and assist the various 
parochial officers in the execution of their duty, particu- 
larly in suppressing all kinds of irregularities or tippling 
in the alehouses in the Lord's Day, and in searching 
for vagrants, cheats, etc., and taking them before the 
magistrates ; and also in giving information ourselves, 
where we have personal knowledge and proof of the 
breaking of our excellent laws, for the due observance of 
the Sabbath, and against swearing and other notorious 
immoralities." 2 That their vigilance arid active co- 
operation with the magistrates had, for the moment, a great 
effect in repressing disorderly conduct and crime is 
universally reported, and is probably true, but this 
ephemeral and purely local movement suddenly gained an 
importance which it would otherwise have lacked, by the 
action of Wilberforce, at that time one of the members of 
Parliament for Yorkshire. Deeply impressed by the 
prevalence of immorality, he felt, to quote the words 
written in the secrecy of his diary, that " God has set 
before me as my object the reformation of (my country's) 
manners." He was struck by the success of the West 
Riding magistrates in uniting all the respectable inhabit- 
ants of the county for the suppression of breaches of 
the kw, and he set himself, with all his influence among 
the governing classes, to convert the movement into a 

1 Within a month, the Leeds Intelligencer (23rd May 1786) reports 
them as formed in several towns. The rules for that of Pontefract 

r@ giTcn in the issue for 19th September 1786. 
s Leeds Intelligencer, 19th September 1786. 


national one. In his hands it became like the earlier 
movement of 1690-1710, principally a campaign 
against licentiousness and profanation of the Sabbath, 
rather than one for the protection of life and property. 
He induced the Privy Council to issue a proclamation on 
the lines of those issued at the beginning of each reign ; 
the Secretary of State to write to all the lord lieutenants 
to incite the Justices to activity, and a large number of 
distinguished persons to form a society to see that the 
various laws regulating personal conduct were put in force. 
The proclamation declared the royal intention to punish 
" all manner of vice, profaneness, and immorality," forbade 
" playing on the Lord's Day at dice, cards, or any other 
game whatsoever, either in public or private houses," 
and commanded special energy in the enforcement of the 
laws against "excessive drinking, blasphemy, profane 
swearing or cursing, lewdness, profanation of the Lord's 
Day, or other dissolute, immoral, or disorderly practices 
. . . public gaming-houses . . . unlicensed public shows, 
interludes, and places of entertainments . . . loose and 
licentious prints, books, and publications," and the 
supplying of refreshments during the time of divine 
service. 1 But though the scope and wording of the 
proclamation reveals Wilberforce's own preoccupation 
with the personal morals of his fellow-citizens, the Home 
Secretary's covering letter lays stress upon " the depreda- 
tions which have been committed in every part of the 
kingdom, and which have of late been carried to such an 
extent as to be even a disgrace to a civilised nation," and 
urges action "for the preservation of the lives and 
properties of His Majesty's subjects." 2 These two strains, 

1 Proclamation, 1st June 1787; in London Gazette, 2nd June 1787. 

2 Lord Sydney's Letter of 23rd June 1787, given in full in A General 


that of " depravity, dissipation, and profanation of the 
Lord's Day" on the one hand, and that of "alarming 
depredations on life and property" on the other, are 
about equally mixed in the resolutions which Quarter 
Sessions everywhere hastened to pass. 1 

"We have elsewhere described the spurt of vigilance 
and activity which, doubtless in consequence of the Royal 
Proclamation and the Home Secretary's letter, the Justices 
in 1787-88 every where put into execution of the vagrancy 
and licensing laws. Meanwhile, the society established 
by Wilberforce and his aristocratic friends was setting 
energetically to work, holding in 1790 a national con- 
ference of two Justices of the Peace from each Quarter 
Sessions, prosecuting the purveyors of blasphemous or 
obscene literature and indecent shows ; 2 getting 
convicted those who opened places of entertainment 
on Sunday, gaming-houses or places of resort for 
immoral purposes, stopping the collusive transfer of 
liquor licences, enforcing the vagrancy laws, and "main- 
taining the sancity of the Lord's Day." That this agita- 

Plan, of Parochial and Provincial Police, by W. M. Godschall 

(London, 17S7). 

1 Among these we may cite Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Somerset, 
Flint, Surrey, Norfolk, Lincoln, Northamptonshire, Cumberland, 
Xorth and West Ridings of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, and 
Kent, which we hare examined, either in the MS. Minutes or in the 
reports in local newspapers for 1787-88. See also A General Plan of 
Parochial Police, by W. M. Godschall (London, 1787) ; Correspondence 
of William Jl'ilberforcc, by R. and S. Wilberforce (London, 1840), 
TO! i. p. 130, etc. ; Keport of the Committee of the Society for 
currying into effect His Majesty's Proclamation against Vice and 
Immorality (London, 1799); and the "Ironical Defence of Yice 
mad Immorality," in the Annual Register for 1788 (vol. xxx.), 
p. 140. 

9 Among the publications it sought to suppress was Paine's Age 


tion for setting the law in motion produced a considerable 
effect is abundantly proved by contemporary evidence. 1 

1 Thus, to quote only one case, we read that "in the town of 
Stroud a great diminution of irregularity and misbehaviour has of 
late been observed, to the comfort and satisfaction of the inhabitants. 
Such a change shows what may be effected in time by the uniform 
but gentle perseverance of a worthy minister, when supported by a 
few active and exemplary characters. The present High Constable 
has proved that our laws give full power for the suppression of every 
enormity, when the execution of them is consigned to men of spirit 
and integrity " (Bristol Gazette, 10th April 1788). The following 
record of the action taken in a Hertfordshire village gives us a picture 
of its contemporary local government. "An extraordinary meeting 
of the committee was held on 31st October 1787, for the purpose 
of taking into consideration the Proclamation for preventing and 
punishing profaneness, vice, and immorality, by order of the Rev. Mr. 
"Weston ; present (eight names and the chief constable). 

Words of the Act : No drover, horse courier, waggoner, butcher, 
higgler, or their servants shall travel on a Sunday. 

Ordered that the above be prevented so far as relates to carriages, 
punishments 21s. ; and for default, stocks two hours. 

No fruit, herbs, or goods of any kind shall be cried or exposed to 
sale on a Sunday. N.JB. Goods forfeited. 

No shoemaker shall expose to sale upon a Sunday any boots, 
shoes, or slippers, 3s. 4d. per pair, and the value forfeited. 

Any persons offending against these laws are to be prosecuted, 
except butchers, who may sell meat till nine o'clock in the morning, 
at which time all barbers' shops are to be shut up, and no business to 
be done after that time. 

No person without a reasonable excuse shall be absent from some 
place of Divine Worship on a Sunday Is. to the poor. 

The constables to go about the town, and particularly the Cross, 
to see that this is complied with, and if they find any number of 
people assembled together, to take down their names, and return 
them to the committee that they may be prosecuted. 

No innkeeper or alehouse-keeper shall suffer any one to continue 
drinking or tippling in his house. Forfeit 10s. and disabled for three 

Ordered that the constables go to the public-houses to see that no 
tippling or drinking is done during Divine Service, and to prevent 
drunkenness, etc., any time of the day. 



But in a very few years the activity of the "Proclamation 
Society," as it was usually termed, came to a natural 
end; its meetings ceased to be held, and though it 
lingered on into the nineteenth century, it calls for no 
further notice. 

The voluntary associations of 1690-1710 and 1786- 
1795 were succeeded by a third movement which started 
in 1802. We find, in that year, established a "Society 
for the Suppression of Yice and the Encouragement of 
Eeligion and Virtue throughout the United Kingdom," 
which took up the work of the moribund " Proclamation 
Society," but confined its operations still more exclusively 
to the prevention of " profanation of the Lord's Day " 
and the suppression of indecent literature and sexual im- 
morality. This society appears to have found its sup- 
porters entirely among the rising Evangelical party, and 
to have had no very close connection with the official or 
governing class. We have but scanty records of its work, 
which was carried on by three committees, each meeting 
weekly, but though branches or imitations of this society 
long continued to exist in many towns, the organisation 
does not appear to have exercised any important influence 
on local government. 1 

Persons who sell by false weights and measures in market towns 
6s. 8d. first offence ; 13s. 4d. second offence ; 20s. third, and 

Ordered that the constables see that the weights and measures 
were good and lawful" (Fragments of Two Centuries t by Alfred 
Kingston (Royston, 1893), pp. 26-27). 

1 Proposal for establishing a Satiety for the Suppression of Vice 
(London, 1802) ; Address to the Public from the London Society for 
the Suppression of Vice (London, 1803). For a similar society at 
Gloucester in 1818, and at Carmarthen 1816-20, see Carmarthen 
Jwm&l, 6th ^Torember 1818, and 14th January 1820 ; for one newly 
formed at Leeds in 1825, see Leeds Intelligencer, 31st March 1825. 


These three distinct outbreaks of voluntary associations 
for reforming the manners and morals of the poor were 
only manifestations of a spirit which we trace continuously 
in the moralists and statesmen of the whole period. What 
the educated classes always had at heart was the re- 
clamation of " the lower orders " to a life of regular and 
continuous work. 1 For this desire there were several 
different motives, variously combined. What Queen Mary 
and Wilberforce were most concerned about was the fact 
that the common people were defying God's law, and 
incurring the penalty of eternal damnation. The magis- 
trates, manufacturers, and quiet folk generally wanted, 
like the Home Secretary of 1787, to stop the depredations 
on life and property. To the employers and " principal 
inhabitants " of each district the worst part of the evil 
seemed to be the waste of time and money by the poor,* 2 

1 " A journeyman," it was said in 1749, "can no more afford to 
throw away his time than a tradesman can his commodity ; and the 
best way of preventing this useful body of men from this species of 
extravagance is to remove from their sight all temptation to idle- 
ness " (An Account of the Origin and Effects of the Police set on Foot 
"by the Duke of Newcastle on a, Plan of Henry Fielding, London, 1758). 

2 " How often do we see the whole inhabitants of a country village 
drawn from their harvest -work to see a cudgel playing or a cricket 
match ? and how common is it to behold the vulgar people thronging 
from every quarter of the Metropolis to some of its environs to 
partake of the silliest pastimes that can be invented for the excite- 
ment of their curiosity. On these occasions the poor do not only 
suffer from the loss of a half or whole day's labour, which is often to 
them a matter of great importance, but also spend as much as they 
can earn in another day, or perhaps two, and besides disqualify them- 
selves by intemperance for working on the next. ... It is a 
mortifying consideration that so many of our labouring people mis- 
spend at least a fourth part of the week, and an equal proportion of 
its earnings, in the most idle gratification and most destructive intem- 
perance " (London Chronicle, 4th-6th October 1764). " To prevent 
gaming among the lower sort of people is principally the business of 
society ; and for this plain reason, because they are tfce most useful 


which checked production and increased the poor rate. 
All three motives pointed, as it happened, to one main, 
device, the adoption of which was accordingly always 
attempted. What seemed to be required was to suppress 
the opportunities for the idleness, drinking, and licentious- 
ness of the common people. This meant the suppression, 
wherever possible, of the old fairs and village festivals, a 
reduction in the number of alehouses x and the prohibition 
of all games and amusements in them, 2 and as strict a 
limitation as possible of musical and theatrical perform- 
ances. Each outburst of zeal for the reformation of 
manners was accordingly marked, as De Foe complained, 
by attempts to put down popular amusements. This 
is specially characteristic of the movement of 1786-95. 
" In London and other large towns/' urges one thoughtful 
critic in 1787, "diversions calculated to slacken the in- 
dustry of the useful hands are innumerable; to lessen, 
therefore, the number of these is the business of the magistrate" 3 

members of the society, winch by such means will lose the benefit of 
their labour" (Charge to the, Grand Jury of Westminster, June 1749, 
by Henry Fielding (London. 1749), p. 161). 

1 "These little pot-houses, it is a known fact, are the rendezvous 
of these nocturnal villains, where they plan, their depredations, and 
where not infrequently they divide their spoil. The landlord con- 
nives at their malpractices it is his interest so to do perhaps his 
daily bread depends upon itperhaps he is connected with them " 
(Leeds Intelligencer, 25th April 1786). " There are villages in remote 
country places which can date the commencement of their poor 
rates from the introduction of a public -house " (Bristol Journal, 19th 
January ITS 8). 

1 " Amongst the number of diversions that call for redress are 

carried on in public-houses, such as cards, dice, draughts, 

huHk-bounds, billiards, and skittles. These are the places that rob 

the journeymen and labourers of their time, their little property, and 

thttr leas morals" (Bristol Journal, 18th August 1787). 

"Reflections on the great Importance of magistrates licensing 
to proper persons," in Bristol Journal, 18th August 1787. 


"As this is the season when country feasts, wakes, etc. 
usually begin," observes the principal newspaper in York- 
shire in 1786, "a correspondent earnestly recommends it 
to the ministers and officers in every parish to prevent 
them from being held on the Lord's Day. Indeed, it would 
be much better to suppress these feasts 'entirely, for, as the 
Eev. Mr. Zouch justly remarks in his excellent pamphlet 
on the police, it is found by long experience that, when 
the common people are drawn together upon any public 
occasion, a variety of mischiefs are certain to ensue ; 
allured by unlawful pastimes, or even by vulgar amuse- 
ments only, they wantonly waste their time and money 
to their own great loss and that of their employers. Nay, 
a whole neighbourhood becomes unhinged for many days, 
quarrels are too often promoted, and the young and in- 
experienced are initiated into every species of immorality." 1 
The same period saw the suppression of many unnecessary 
alehouses in small villages, and, in many places, also a 
partial and temporary prohibition of bull-baiting. 2 

1 Leeds Intelligencer, 2Qth June 1786. It is interesting to find the 
zealous Zouch specially reprobating, in this connection, f t the practice 
of performing oratorios in country churches," which he thinks "very 
exceptionable, not only by the indecencies committed therein, but 
by giving occasion for great numbers of persons of all kinds to be 
brought together, so that the adjoining villages do often become 
scenes of drunkenness, disorder, and riot." The Archbishop of York 
has disapproved of "introducing sacred music in this way" (SMs 
respecting the Public Police, by the Eev. H. Zouch, J.P., p. 7). 

2 At the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, held at Stamford 
in October 1789, it was ordered "that there shall be no bull-running 
on the said 13th day of November, nor at any other time, as bull- 
runnings are productive of vice, profaneness, immorality, disorder, 
riot, drunkenness, and mischief among many people, inhabitants of 
this borough and the neighbourhood thereof; of every species of 
inhumanity in the lower order of the people to an unhappy animal ; 
and of great annoyance, danger, and delay to all travellers passing 


There is, to our modern feelings, something unsavoury 
in this combination of concern for the spiritual welfare of 
the poor and for the security and profit of the rich, especi- 
ally when it led merely to attempts to deprive the lower 
orders of their margin of leisure and opportunities for 
amusement. The sturdy protest of De Foe was, in fact, 
repeated in 1787 by an outspoken country gentleman. 
At a meeting of the Norfolk Justices (4th August 1787), 
"after many observations had been made upon the 
depravity of the lower orders of the people, and the 
necessity there was for lessening the number of alehouses 
and other places of fashionable resort, Sir Thomas Beevor 
reprobated the plans proposed. He said ' he was very far 
from thinking the sum of iniquity in this country was 
greater than it had been, and still further from believing 
the poor were either more vicious or more abandoned 
than their forefathers. That it was, and ever had been, 
the cant language of every age to condemn the present 
time and to applaud the past. That, from his reading 
and acquaintance with the history of England, he would 
venture to affirm that the police of it was never more 
strictly attended to than at present . . . that this was a 
frivolous rather than a wicked age; but if gentlemen 
thought otherwise, and really wished to amend it, he was 
ready to concur most heartily with them in the good 
design. He must, however, warmly reprobate the plans 
proposed as both ineffectual and oppressive. They are/ 
said he, 'ineffectual and partial as beginning with, and 
being confined solely to the reformation of the lower class 
of people ; they are oppressive, as they tend to deprive 
the poor of a great part of that scanty pittance of happi- 

and repessing npon the King's Highway in this Borough " (Lincoln, 

Mutl&nd, and Stamford Mercury, 9th October 1789). 


ness which their lot in this life can afford.' Sir Thomas 
Beevor went on to recommend that the Justices them- 
selves should set an example of temperance." The usual 
resolution was, however, passed. 1 

1 Leeds Intelligencer, 4th. September 1787. 


Acts of Parliament 

11 Henry VII. o. 2 : 6, 9, 13 
19 Henry VII. c. 12 : 6 

5 and 6 Edw. VI. c. 25 : 5, 6, 7, 
9, 14, 98 

7 Edw. VI. c. 5 : 18, 19 

11 Jac. I. c. 9 : 62 

21 Jac. I. c. 7 : 19 

12 Car. II. c. 25 : 19 

15 Car. II. c. 14 : 19 

22 and 23 Car. II. c. 26 : 19 
12 and 13 Wm. III. c. 11 : 22 
9 Anne c. 16: 7 

9 Anne c. 23 : 19 

2 Geo. II. c. 17 : 24, 25 

2 Geo. II. c. 28 : 5, 6 

6 Geo. II. c. 17 : 25 

9 Geo. II. c. 23 : 25-26, 78 

10 Geo. II. c. 17 : 19 

16 Geo. II. c. 8 : 29, 33 

17 Geo. II. c. 17 : 37 

24 Geo. II. c. 40 : 37, 38 
26 Geo. II. c. 13 : 37, 79 
26 Geo. II. c. 31 : 7, 36 } 38, 62 

28 Geo. II. c. 19 : 38 

29 Geo. II. c. 12 : 36, 37 

29 Geo. II. o. 25 : 56 

30 Geo. II. c. 19 : 19 
32 Geo. III. c. 59 : 19 
42 Geo. III. c. 38 : 115 
48 Geo. III. c. 143 : 47 
56 Geo. III. e. 104 : 99 

4 Geo. IV. c. 51 : 110 

5 Geo. IV. c. 54 : 110 

9 Geo. IV. c. 61 : 19, 113 

11 Geo. IV. and 1 Wm. IV. c. 
51: 124 

Acts of Parliament 

11 Geo. IV. and 1 Wm. IV. c. 

64: 115 

4 and 5 Wm. IV. c. 85 : 130 
3 and 4 Viet. c. 61 : 130 
23 and 24 Viet, c, 27 : 131 
25 and 26 Viet. c. 22 : 19 
32 and 33 Viet. c. 27 : 132, 133 
35 and 36 Viet. c. 94 : 133 
37 and 38 Viet. e. 49 : 100 

43 and 44 Viet. c. 20 : 19 

44 and 45 Viet. c. 61 : 134 
49 and 50 Viet. c. 56 : 134 

1 Edw. VII. c. 27 : 134 

2 Edw. VII. c. 28 : 134 
Aldermen, city of London, 64 ; 

licensing work of, 109 
Ale, increase in consumption of, 

17-18. See also Beer 
Alehouse-keepers, rules for, 59-60 
Alehouses, distinction between inns 
and, 5 ; licensing of, ib. ; sup- 
pression of, by Justices, 6, 10- 
12, 15, 68-74, 149 ; by Judges 
of Assize, 13 ; power of Jus- 
tices to suppress repealed, 113 ; 
multiplication of, 15, 33, 42, 
105, 106 ; licences for, easily 
obtained, 41 ; given to needy 
persons, 44 ; in villages and 
country places, 42, 44, -46, 51, 
103 ; cause of, innumerable, 
43 ; number of, in Westminster, 
40-41 ; in Leeds, 46 ; without 
a licence, 51 ; reduction in 
number of advocated, 51, 53 ; 
number of, reduced, 53, 58- 



59, 113 ; preference given to, 
78 ; licensed to sell spirits, 80, 
105 ; statistics of, 80-81, 82, 
108 ; temporary ones, at fairs, 
99; "free trade" in, 110; 
owned by brewers. See Tied 

Althorp, Lord, 125 

Anne, Queen, 140 

Articles of 1618, 54, 62, 102, 

Assize, Judges of. See Judges 

Aylesbury (Bucks), 103 

Aylesford (Kent), 55 

Bacon, Nathaniel, 10 

Bagshot (Surrey), 19 

Ballard, A., 46 

Bampton (Oxon), 56, 66 

Barclay, C., 93 

Barnsley (Yorks), 53 

Barnstaple (Devon), 99 

Bars, drinking, 78 

Bathsorum Division (Somerset), 64, 

Bathurst, Lord, 27, 28, 30 

Beadles, not accepted as sureties, 

Beccles (Suffolk), 66 

Beer, assumed to be a necessary of 
life, 2, 86, 110, 111, 118 ; sale 
of,' in unlicensed premises, 17 ; 
increase in consumption of, 
17-18 ; statistics of duty OB, 
48 ; preference given to, over 
spirits, 78, 79, 111 ; quality 
of, in "tied houses," 89, 91 ; 
price of, 92-93, 106, 111 ; sale 
of, atfairs, 98-100 ; brewing of, 
without a licence, 98-99 ; "free 
trade" in, 106, 110, 111, 113, 
115, 131 ; effects of "free 
trade " in, 116-126 ; decrease 
in consumption of, 109 ; 
** home-brewed," retailed with- 
out licence, 110 ;" off" sale of, 
without licence, 113 ; tax on, 
withdrawn, ib. ; decrease in 
number of licences for sale of, 
i&. ; Eeport of House of Com- 

mons Committee on Sale of, 
by retail (1830), 114; uni- 
versal sale of, 118 ; average 
consumption of, per head, 134 

Beer Act, the First (1830), 115, 
116 ; petitions for repeal of, 
124 ; effects of, 128 ; powers 
of Justices rendered useless by, 

the Second (1834), 129 
the Third (1843), 129 

Beer-shops, no licence required for, 
115 ; in Liverpool, 116 ; in- 
crease in number of, 117 ; in 
Birmingham, ib. ; set up by 
brewers, 117, 118 ; hours of 
closing, 122, 130 ; evils of 
unlimited number of, 131 ; 
brought under control of Jus- 
tices, 132 ; privileges of those 
established before 1869, 133 

Beevor, Sir Thomas, 150, 151 

Berkshire, 60, 61, 62, 70, 89, 102, 

Bethnal Green, 94 

Beverley (Yorks), 104 

Birmingham (Warwickshire), 99, 

Bishop Wearmouth (Durham), 47 

Bishops, attitude of, towards Act of 
1743, 30, 31 

Black list, 11, 134 

Bodmin (Cornwall), 104 

" Books of Orders," 10 

Bowles, John, quoted, 86 

Brandy, importation of foreign, 20 ; 
English, manufacture of, en- 
couraged, 21 ; " Parliament," 

Breweries, Report of House of 
Commons Committee on (1818- 
1819), 91, 93 

Brewers, promotion of liquor traffic 
by, 43 ; as sureties for good 
behaviour of publicans, 57 ; 
monopoly of public-houses in 
hands of, 87-93, 112 ; break- 
down of monopoly of, 105 ; 
price of porter fixed by, 92 ; 
"home" brewers, 110; "re- 



tail " brewers, i&. ; new type 
of, 117 ; attitude of, towards 
"free trade" in beer, 112, 113 

Brewing, encouragement of, 3 ; de- 
velopment of, 87-88 ; private, 
82 ; without a licence at fairs, 

Brewster Sessions, origin of, 5, 6 ; 
referred to, 36, 57, 76, 77, 80, 
85 ; description of scene at, 
45 ; rules prescribed by Jus- 
tices in, 54 ; at Barnsley, 53 ; 
at Bamptou., 66 ; at Salisbury, 
70 ; at Sheffield, 71 ; special, 
66 ; recommendations to Jus- 
tices in, 79 ; appeal from, to 
Quarter Sessions permitted, 

Brighthelmstone (Sussex), 63-64 

Brighton. See Brightkdmstone 

Brougham, Lord, 125 

Buckingham, James Silk, M.P., 
103, 128 

Buckinghamshire, 105 

Bull-baiting, 53, 87, 149 

Burns, Jitstice of the Peace by, 
quoted, 102 

Burns, Dr. Dawson, 110, 131 

"Bush-houses," 99 

Cambridge, 27 

Carlisle (Cumberland), 70 

Carmarthen, 146 

Cartaret, Lord, 26 

Carter, Bonham, 7 

Cartwright, J. J., quoted, 12 

Certificates of good character, 54, 

58, 63, 66, 129 ; requirement 

of, abolished, 113 
Chadwick, Edwin, 128 
Charter, of Vintners' Company, 19 ; 

of St. Albans, #. 
Chelsea (Middlesex), 40, 74 
Cheshire, 124 
Chester, 124 
Chesterfield, Lord, 29 
Chichester (Sussex), 104, 130 
Children, sale of liquor to, 134 
Cider, tax on, withdrawn, 113 
Cider-shops, 132 

Clerk of the Peace, fees received by, 
47 ; blank licences filled up 
by, &. 

Clerks, Justices', fees received by, 

Closing, hours of, 11, 60, 96, 108, 
119, 131, 133 ; in beer-shops, 
122, 130 ; not fixed by Par- 
liament, 9 ; prescribed by 
Justices, 40 ; not enforced in 
St. Luke's, 41 

Clutterbuck, Kobert, quoted, 19 

Cock-fighting, 52, 53, 54 

Coffee-houses, alcoholic drinks sold 
in, 17 ; in Shrewsbury, ifo. 

Colquhoun, Dr. Patrick, 77, 94 

Company, Vintners', 19 ; Dis- 
tillers 5 , 20 

Compensation, 135 ; instances of 
suppression of public -houses 
without, 8, 68, 85, 101, 

Constable, High, of Stroud, 145 ; 
Chief, of Brighthelmstone, 64 

Constables, licensed victuallers as, 
35, 56 ; required to visit public- 
houses, 65 ; of Westminster, 
instructions to, 72 ; directions 
to, by Fulham Vestry, 74 ; a 
society for ^Reformation of 
Manners formed by, 137 : 
special, sworn in, 139 

Constabulary, breakdown of local, 

Corfe Castle (Dorset), 8 

Cornwall, 106 

Couling, Samuel, 39 

Cox, J. C., 10 

Crimes, produced by drunkenness, 
2 ; encouraged by retailers of 
spirits, 35 j originated in 
public-houses, 46; diminution 
of, 82 

Cruden, E. P., 19 

Cumberland, 144 

Dalton, Michael, 11 
Danvers, Sir John, 94 
Davenport, Edward, 110 
Dayies, J. S., 11 


De Foe, Daniel, 17, 20, 138, 139, 
140, 148, 150 

Denham, Baron, 13 

Derby, 60, 61 

Devonport. See Plymouth Dock 

Devonshire, 71, 103 

Disorderly houses, suppression of, 

Distillation, of spirits, a monopoly, 
20 ; monopoly destroyed, ib. 

Distillers, free to open retail spirit 
shops, 21, 33 ; and to permit 
free sale of spirits in shops, 21- 
22 ; prohibited from retailing 
even -with licence, 33 ; pro- 
motion of liquor trade by, 43 ; 
ownership of licensed premises 
by, 88 

Distillers 1 Company, 20 ; power to 
inspect spirits sought for, 22 

Distilling, encouragement of, by 
Government, 3, 21 ; illicit, 38, 
48, 82 ; development of, 87-88 

Doncaster (Yorks), 104 

Doran, Dr.. 34 

Dorchester (Dorset), 12 

Dorset, 123 

Dover (Kent), 104 

Dowell, S. 0., 18, 19, 20, 110, 
115, 116 

Dram-shops, in London and West- 
minister, 22-24 ; description 
of one, 23 ; unlicensed, in 
London, 36 ; licence of, to 
lapse, 55 ; refusal to license, 
57 ; suppression of, at Sheffield, 

Drunkenness, from free sale of gin, 
22 ; from free sale of beer, 
116 ; prevalence of, 28, 107 ; 
in London, 22, 23-24, 39 ; in 
Tillages, 44, 149 ; in manu- 
facturing districts, 51, 52 ; at 
Mrs, 98, 99 ; laws against, 
neglected, 32 ; proposed tax on, 
42 ; Report of House of Com- 
mons Committee on, 125-126, 

Itatam, 47, 66, 106 

Duties, preferential, on manufacture 

of brandy, 21 ; on sale of spirits, 
25, 33, 81, 105 ; on manu- 
facture of spirits, 52'; on sale 
of gin, 32; statistics of, on 
malt and British spirits, 48 ; 
on beer, ib. 

Earle, John, quoted, 18 

Early closing, 49. See also Closing, 

hours of, and Sunday Closing. 
Edinburgh Review, 95, 111 
Edwards, Thomas, LL.D., 95 
Essex, 58, 61 
Estcourt, 111 

Excise, Commissioners of, 99, 130 
duty, on spirits, 25 ; on ale, 

Exeter (Devon), 13 

Factory and Workshops Acts, 136 
Commissioners, 128 

Fairs, sale of beer at, 98-100 ; sup- 
pression of, 148, 149 

Falmouth (Cornwall), 103, 104 

Faversham (Kent), 104 

Fazeley (Staffs), 99 

Fearon, H. B., 79 

Fees, received by Justices' Clerks, 
43 ; received by Clerk of the 
Peace, 47 

Felons, societies for the prosecution 
of, 141-142 

Feret, C, J., 1, 74 

Fielding, Henry, 33, 76, 148 

Flint, 144 

Flower, Richard, 88 

Frampton, Mary, 123 

"Free trade" in beer, 112-113, 
115, 131 ; effects of, 116-126 

Freemen, of Vintners* Company, 

French, R. V., 13, 27 

Frome (Somerset), 65 

Fulham (Middlesex), 74 

Gaming, 40, 65, 72, 74, 124, 143, 

144, 148 
Gardiner, 99 
Gaskell, 128 



Gentleman's Magazine) 22, 27, 30, 

39, 42, 43, 45 
Gin Act, the First (1729), 24-25 ; 

repeal of, 25 ; effects of, 38 
the Second (1736), 25-26 ; not 

approved of by Walpole, 27-28 ; 

effects of, 28-29, 38 ; repeal 

of, 29 
Gin, free sale of, 20 ; excessive 

drinking of, 22, 28 ; excise 

duty on, 25 
"Gin Lane," 34 

Gin palaces, rise of, 78, 120-121 
Gin-shops, 40, 120 
Gisborne, T., 76 
Gloucester, 68, 146 
Gloucestershire, 60-63, 69, 144 
Godschall, W. M., 144 
Goulburn, 113 
Gravesend (Kent), 19 
Great Glenham (Suffolk), 62 
Grocers' Licence. See SJiops 

Hammersmith (Middlesex), 74, 94 

Hampshire, 103, 118 

Hansard, 92, 109, 111, 112, 113, 

115, 124, 125 
Hertfordshire, 145 
Hervey, Lord, 31, 42 
Hey, William, 54 
Hobhouse, Sir J. C., 113 
Hogarth, 34 

Holborn (Middlesex), 39, 75 
Holland, Lady, 110, 111, 116 
Horseley (Glos.), 69 
Hours of closing. See Closing 
Hull (Yorks), 104 
Huskisson, 111 
Hyde, William, 94 

lies, Miss C. M., 1 

Informers, a Society for the Ke- 
formation of Manners formed 
by, 137 

Inns, distinction between inns and 
alehouses, 5 ; might be in- 
dicted under common law as 
a nuisance, ib. ; brought under 
regulation, ib. 

Ipswich (Suffolk), 66 
Islay, Earl of, 26 

Jeaffreson, J. C., 10 

Jeffrey, 111 

Jekyll, Sir John, 25 

Judges of Assize, enforcement of 
Privy Council Orders by, 12- 
14 ; suppression of alehouses 
*>?, 13 

Justices' Clerk, fees received by, 

Justices, licensing powers given to, 
5, 6, 19 ; suppression of un- 
necessary alehouses by, 6 ; 
administration of Licensing 
Act (1552) by, 9-14 ; "articles" 
drawn up by, 11, 54, 62; 
motives of, in granting licences, 
15, 16, 42-43,44 ; .collapse of 
authority of, 26 ; condemna- 
tion of licensing policy of, 31 ; 
powers of regulation neglected, 
33-36, 40, 41, 43, 47, 102; 
authority of, made more effect- 
ive, 36-38 ; laxness in granting 
of licences, 41, 43, 44, 46, 
105-108 ; at Brewster Sessions, 
45 ; powers of regulation, and 
discretion in licensing exercised 
by, 34, 49-50, 52-74, 141 ; in- 
cited to activity by Privy 
Council, 53, 143 ; confusion 
of mind between judicial and 
administrative duties, 56 ; use 
of local option by, 62, 103 ; 
arbitrary authority of, con- 
demned, 85, 97-98, 108 ; ap- 
proved of by Tories, 86 ; dis- 
cretionary powers of, limited, 
96, 113, 133; power of, to 
suppress alehouses, repealed, 
113 ; powers rendered useless 
by Beer Act, 129-130 ; control 
of, over all licensed premises, 
re -established, 132, 133 ; a 
Society for the Beformation of 
Manners formed by, 137 
of Middlesex, 41, 76-79, 87, 93- 
95, 100, 109 


Kay, 128 

Kensington (Middlesex), 74 

Kent, 144 

Kent (distiller), 29 

Kirby (Essex), 62 

Laissez-faire, doctrine of, prevalent, 
87 ; recommended by Com- 
mittee of House of Commons, 


Lancashire, 52, 144 

Lancaster, 104 

Larwood, J., 10 

Lecky, Bt Hon. W. E. H., 26 

Leeds (Yorks), 46, 54, 58-59, 60, 
61. 104, 107, 146 

Lees, F. R., 26 

Legislation regulating liquor trade, 
See Regulation 

Leonard, Miss E. M., 10 

Licences, for alehouses, 5, 7, 41, 
51, 58, 80-81, 82, 105, 106, 
110, 113 ; for sale of wine, 
19, 20, 131 ; Eoyal, 19 ; for 
retail sale of spirits, 21, 47, 
80, 81, 82, 113; refusal to 
grant new, 31, 50, 57, 58, 59, 
73, 80, 95, 104, 105, 108, 133 ; 
granted indiscriminately, 31, 
32, 76 ; to be granted only at 
annual Brewster Sessions, 36 ; 
certificates required from ap- 
plicants for, 37 ; given to 
needy persons, 44 ; annual re- 
newal of, 46; filled tip by 
Clerk of the Peace, 47 ; increase 
IB number of, 47, 116-122, 130 ; 
withdrawal of, 50, 53, 68, 69, 
70, 71, 73, 74, 80, 85, 95, 97, 
98, 100, 101, 103, 108, 136, 
141 ; restriction in granting 
of, recommended, 51, 53, 57, 
101 ; for drain-shops, 55, 57 ; 
allowed to lapse, 55, 59 ; notice 
of application for, required, 
57 ; consent of Vestry required 
for granting of new, 63 ; for 
renewal of old, 64 ; conditions 
of grating w, in. city of 
& ; monopoly in, 

condemned, 97; occasioned, at 
fairs, 98-100 ; number of, in 
small boroughs, 103 ; in larger 
towns, 104 jjjin provinces, 105- 
108 ; for sale of beer, 106, 115- 
116 ; granted to respectable 
applicants, 132 

Licensed nouses, increase of, in 
London and Westminster, 39 

Licensing, different aims of, 4 ; 
different forms of control, 5 ; 
first licensing act, 5 ; of taverns, 
19 ; in Cambridge, 27 ; fees, 
29 ; procedure regulated, 36- 
38, 55, HE ; conditions of, en- 
forced by Justices, 52-55, 59- 
62, 72-73 ; rules prescribed by 
Justices, 53, 54 ; conditions 
of, enforced by Vestries, 74-76 ; 
business relating to, discon- 
tinued at Quarter Sessions, 80 ; 
effects of increased stringency 
in, 88-89 ; in Tower Hamlets, 
93-95 ; discretionary powers 
of Justices in, limited, 96, 
133 ; change in policy of, 99- 
102 conditions of, not en- 
forced, 102 ; restrictive policy 
of borough magistrates in, 

Lincoln, 144 

Liquor, alcoholic, consumption of, 
82 ; sale of, to children, 134 ; 
municipalisation. of traffic, 135 

Liverpool, 104, 105, 116, 131, 132 

Local option, instances of applica- 
tion of, 50, 62, 63-68, 103, 
118, 138 
veto. See Local Option 

London, 16, 18, 21, 22, 33, 36, 39, 
40, 64, 72-79, 87, 90, 130,139 

London County Council, 135 

London Magazine, 30 

Lonsdale, Earl of, 70 

Lords, House of, 30-33, 123-124 

Lotteries, 42 

Haefarlane, Charles, 26 
Mahon, Lord, 26, 30 
Haidstone (Kent), 56, 104 




[ainwaring, W., 40 

Canchester, 60, 131 ; Court Leet 
Records of, 1 

tanners, movement for the re- 
formation of, 50-53, 96, 111 
Societies for Eeformation of, 
137, 139, 140-143 

[anorial Court, 1 

Cansfield, Lord, 8 

Carlborougli (Wilts), 90 

tartineau, Harriet, 115 

Cary, Queen, 147 

[arylebone (Middlesex), 74, 75 

[assinger, 10 

[eadley, George Wilson, 47 

[elbourne, Lord, 125 

Cerceron, Joseph, 94 

[iddlesex, 34, 35, 40, 41, 76, 77, 
78, 79, 93, 94, 95, 109, 144 

[ontgomery, B. M., 19 

Monthly Review, 40, 47 

Eorley (Devon), 106 

Mug-houses," 17 

[unicipal administration, 135 

[unicipal Corporation Commis- 
sioners (1833-37), 46, 103 

[unicipalisation of liquor traffic, 135 

Cundy, H. G., 123 

"ewbury (Berks), 89 

'ewcastle - on - Tyne (Northumber- 
land), 59, 131 

Night-houses," 40, 46 

"orfolk, 144, 150 ; pamphlet by 
magistrate of, quoted, 56 

"orthamptonshire, 144 

'ottinghamshire, 57-58, 61 

'ourse, Timothy, 16 

'Connell, Daniel, 111 
wens, John, 19, 106 
xford, 56 
xfordshire, 56, 57, 61, 102 

aine, Tom, 144 
aley, Rev. William, D.D., 47 
arliament, Acts of. See Acts 
arliamentary History quoted, 26, 

27, 28, 30 
iterson, J., 19, 100, 130, 136 

Pearson, John, 54 

Penryn (Cornwall), 104 

Petitions, from Distillers' Company, 
22 ; from Middlesex Justices, 
24 ; from distillers of Cam- 
bridge, 27 

Pitchcombe (Somerset), 69 

Place MSS., 23, 79, 128 

Plymouth (Devon), 60, 71-72, 104 

Plymouth Dock (Devon), 71 

Poachers, 45 

Police, 119, 140 ; Eeport of Com- 
mittee on, in metropolis, 77- 
79, 87, 90, 91, 94, 95-100, 

Police Act (1839), 130 

Pontefract (Yorks), 142 

Poor Law Inquiry Commissioners, 

Poor Law, Old, 83 

Poor rates increased, 148 

Portsmouth (Hants), 104 

Privy Council, circular letter to 
Mayors and Justices, 5, 11 ; 
" Orders" to Justices, 10, 13 ; 
proclamation issued by, 143. 
See also Proclamation 

"Privy searches," 141 

Procedure of Justices in licensing 
codified, 113 

Proclamation, Royal (1618), 7, 9, 
12 ; (1787), 53, 59, 69, 143 ; 
influence of, on policy of 
Justices, 56 ; societies formed 
to carry into execution, 138, 
140, 144, 146 

Prohibition, impracticable in seven- 
teenth century, 2 ; of spirits, 
virtual, under Gin Act of 
1736, 26, 30 

Prostitutes, 40, 99, 139 

Publicans, not to be appointed 
constables, 5 6 ; popular election 
of, 68 ; politics of, 86 

Public-houses, reduction in number 
of, advocated, 57 ; suppression, 
68-74 ; number of, in Plymouth 
Dock, 71 j in Tower Hamlets, 
77 ; monopoly of, in hands of 
brawers, 89-93 ; unnecessary 


number of, 101 ; number of, in 
Tillages, 103 ; suppression of, 
138 ; licences of, withdrawn, 
141. See also Alehouses 
"Punch houses, "21 

Quarter Sessions, licensing business 
discontinued at, 80 ; appeal 
to, permitted, 113 

Quarterly Review, 101 

Bates, Poor, 69 

Reading (Berks), 90, 104 

Recognisances, for good behaviour, 
37, 47 ; estreated, 56, 59 

Refreshment-houses, wine licence 
to s 131 

Register, Annual, 144 

Regulation of liquor trade, origin 
of, 2 ; conflicting motives for, 
3 ; of licensed houses neglected 
by Justices, 16, 17, 33-36, 39, 
40, 41, 47, 51; powers of, 
exercised by Justices, 49-50, 
52 - 74, 441, 142 ; Justices' 
policy of, condemned, 85, 111, 
112 ; Justices 1 powers of, 
limited, 96 ; policy of, aban- 
doned by Justices, 102 ; sale 
of beer without, 98 - 100 ; 
Justices 7 powers of, restored, 
132 ; beer-shops brought under, 
132. See also Licensing 

Retailers, of wine, 19-20; of spirits, 
21, 25, 29 ; set up by brewers 
and distillers, 43. See also 
Spirits and Beer 

Reenue, taxes on alcoholic drinks 
a source of, 3 ; royal licences 
a source of, 19-20 ; duties on 
manufacture of spirits, 29 ; 
gin duty designed as means of, 
32 ; Justices influenced by 
desire to increase, 42-43 ; from 
sale of beer, decrease in, 109 

Rewards, offered for information of 
sale of beer or spirits without 
licence, 62 

Ricardo, David, 93 
Richardson, Judge, 13 

Ripon (Yorks), 12, 104 
Roch, Thomas, 46 
Rochester (Kent), 104 
Rocldnghani, Marchioness of, 140 
Rowntree, J., 134 
Rugeley (Staffs), 99 

S., Vicar of, in Kent, 40, 45 

St. Albans (Herts), 19 

St. George's, Hanover Squar< 
(Middlesex), 34 

St. G-iles-in-the-Fields (Middlesex 

St. Luke's (Middlesex), 41 

Salisbury, Bishop of (1743), 28, 2 

Salisbury (Wilts), 57, 70 

Samuelson, J., 26 

Sanger, 0. P.. 135 

Saxmundham (Suffolk), 62 

Scarborough (Yorks), 104 

Scarisbrick, Joseph, 18, 20, 11 

Seeker, Archbishop, 30 

Sheffield (Yorks), 70-71, 131 

Sherwell, A., 134 

Shops, sale of spirits in, 21-2! 
sale of beer in, 118 ; "off 
licence for wine, 131 

Shrewsbury (Salop), 17 

Shropshire, 99 

Signboards, 10 

Sittingbourne (Kent), 19 

Slaney, 111 

Smith, Sydney, 111, 116 

Smithfield, East (Tower Hamlet 

Smollett, Tobias, 23-24, 26, 39 

Societies, parochial, for prosecuti 
of felons, 141-142. See a 
Proclamation and Vice 

Somerset, 13, 64, 69, 102, 144 

Speen Division (Berks), 70 

Spirits, distillation of, a monopo 
20 ; free sale of, by distill* 
21 ; licences for retail sale 
21, 25, 26, 29, 33, 47, 80, I 
82, 113 ; free sale of, in sho 
21-22 ; increased consumpt: 
of, 20, 22, 79, 120 ; statisl 
of consumption o 38, 48, IS 



practical prohibition of retail 
sale of, 25 ; duties on manu- 
facture of, 27, 29, 52 : clandes- 
tinely retailed, 28-29, 34, 36, 
39 ; licences for sale of, refused, 
58 ; sale of, in Leeds, on Sun- 
days prohibited, 61 ; incite- 
ments to excessive use of, 7S ; 
sale of, discouraged in London, 
78, 79 ; sale of, in alehonses 
encouraged, 105 

Stamford (Lincolnshire), 149 

State Papers, calendar of, domestic, 
quoted, 12 

Stipendiary magistrates in Middle- 
sex, 77 

Stockport (Cheshire), 60, 123 

Stroud (Glos.), 145 

Suffolk, 57, 62, 66 

Sunday, closing, 11, 40, 49-50, 55, 
60 3 61, 71, 96, 108, 130, 131, 
134, 142, 144 ; rules relaxed, 
123 ; sale of spirits on, pro- 
hibited in Leeds, 61 ; receiving 
of guests, stage-waggons, and 
carts on, prohibited, ib. 

Suppression, of alehouses, 6 3 7, 10, 
11-12, 13, 15 ; of taverns, 18- 
19 ; of public-houses, 56, 68- 
74 ; of dram-shops, 71 ; of 
disorderly houses, 138 ; Jus- 
tices' power of, repealed, 113 

Sureties for good behaviour of 
publicans, 56, 57 

Surety bonds, 47 

Surrey, 55, 56, 79, 94, 102, 105, 144 

Sussex, 102 

Swaffiing (Suffolk), 62 
" Swaukey shops," 115 

Swillington (Yorkshire). 140 

Sydney, Lord, 143 

Tankersley (Yorks) 140 

Taverns, definition of, IS ; suppres- 
sion of, 18 ; licensing of, 19 ; 
at St. Albans, 19 

Tax, on alcoholic drinks, a source 
of revenue, 3 ; on retailers of 
spirits, 25 ; on beer and cider 
withdrawn, 113 

Temperance movement, 131 

Temperance party, S6, 128, 134- 

Thackreh, C. T., 128 

Tiddly winks, 116 

Tied-house system, S8-93, 97 

Tied houses, number of, 91 

Timberland, Ebenezer, SO 

Tom and Jerry shop*, 116 

Tories, licensing policy of, 86, 111, 

Tower Hamlets, 77, 94, 95, 100, 

Trading Justices, 76. See also 
Justice* of Middlesex 

Transfer of licensed houses, pro- 
cedure of, regulated, 36 

Travellers, 11 

Treaty Act (French), 131 

Tusford, 19 

Twerton (Somerset), 67 

Vagrants, harbouring of, 54 ; ap- 
prehension of, 141 : "privy 
searches" for, 141 

"Vested interests," 112 

Vestries, rewards offered by, 62 ; 
consent of, and condition of 

(1) granting new licences, 63 ; 

(2) renewing licences, 64 ; 
special meetings of, (1) for 
signing certificates of good 
character, 63 ; (2) for recom- 
mending the licensing and 
suppression of public -houses ; 
regulation of public-houses by, 

Vestry, at Brighthelmstone, 63-64 ; 
proceedings of, at Wanstead, 
65 ; at Marylebone, 74, 75 

Veto, local. See Local Option, 

Vice, prevalent in public-houses, 39 ; 
encouraged by innkeepers, 52 ; 
proclamation against Society 
for the Suppression of, 140. 
See Pr&damaiim 

Victuallers, licensed, as coBStabk^, 
56 ; in Westminster diaqntt- 
fied to be constables, A- ; agi- 
tation against Justice* y r IW 


Villages, public-houses in, 42, 44, 
46, 98-100, 102, 103, 116, 
117 ; licences not to be granted 
to public -houses on the out- 
skirts of, 57 ; increase of Poor 
Rates in, 148 ; suppression of 
fairs in, ib. ; suppression of 
alehouses in, 149 

Vintners, Company of, 19 

"Wakes," 99, 149 

Wales, 134 

Walpole, Rt. Hon. Spencer, 115 

Walpole, Sir Robert, 27, 29, 30 

Walter, Chief Baron, 13 

Walton (Esses), 62 

Wanstead (Essex), 65 

Wellington, Duke of, 113, 115 

West Looe (Cornwall), 104 

West, Synibolceography by, referred 

to, 7 
Westminster, 21, 22, 39, 40, 41, 

56 ; Burgess Court of, 40, 41 ; 

St. James's, 72, 73 ; pamphlet 

by Inhabitant of, 41 
Weston, Rev. Mr., 145 
Weston (Somerset), 69 

Widcomb (Somerset), 69 

Wilberforce, William, 50, 53, 142- 
144, 147 

"Wilson, Walter, 20 

Wiltshire, 57, 70, 124 

Wine, licences to sell, given to 
tavern-keepers, 19; privilege 
of Vintners' Company to sell 
without licence, 19 ; retailers 
of, required to be licensed 
victuallers, 19-20 

Wine-shops, 18, 131 

Winskill, P. T., 115, 116, 131, 132 

Woodbridge (Suffolk), 66 

Woodstock (Oxfordshire), 45 

Woodward, Josiah, 138 

Worth, R. N., 71 

Wyndham, Rt. Hon. Wm., 87 

Yorkshire, JSTorth Riding of, 66, 

West Riding of, 53, 57, 66, 67, 

70, 71, 140, 142 
Yoxall (Staffordshire), 103 

Zouch, Rev. Henry, 50, 140, 141 


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