Under Edward VI, in 1552, licensed victuallers were required to
appear before two Justices at
the quarter sessions in order to certify their behaviour. Licence renewal could be refused if
the conduct of the house fell short of expectations.
By 1753 a register of licensees (Recognizances) was to be
presented to the Justices at annual Brewster Sessions, held in
September. (Alehouse Recognizances existed from at least the
In December 1848 it was
reported that drunkenness was not such a big problem as it had been
in earlier years.
For instance in 1736 it was not uncommon for publicans to paint
above their doors that "You may get drunk here for a penny, dead
drunk for twopence and have clean straw for nothing".
Legislation had imposed a 20s per gallon on spirits and prohibited
sale by retail. This had led to clandestine sales of gin which in
turn resulted in some 12,000 people being convicted, 5000 of whom
had been fined £100 and 3000 who had been fined £10.
In 1742 there were three gallons of spirits produced for each member
of the population, per year. By 1848 the population was some sixteen million
persons and spirit production was 8,166,985 gallons, or half a
gallon per head.
In the Westminster election of May 1807, Mr. Sheridan said it was
not his intention to fall foul of the Brewer, a trade in which he
respected many individuals, such as Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Combe and Mr.
Calvert, but just before the dissolution of Parliament, he had been
about to introduce a Bill preventing brewers from owning public
houses. His aim was to protect the publican who was unable to
provide the products from the best source. It was not possible for
the publican, who was provided with an inferior product, seeking
supply elsewhere without changing their habitation and
situation. Mr. Sheridan also said that the Magistrates of
Westminster, paid and pensioned by the Government, had the power to
remove the licence of any publican, without assigning any reason and
without the option of appeal. This was an improper power for freemen
to allow to be exercised by any Magistrate.
The Retail Beer Act of 1824 gained Royal Assent in June 1824 and
came into effect on 5th July. Under the act any Brewer, retailing
beer from his premises, to be consumed elsewhere, was to pay Five
Guineas per annum, payable 10th October. War duties on beer, wine
and spirit were removed, but other duties remained. Any
house valued at under £20 a year would be charged One Guinea for a
Brewers were not allowed to sell Table Beer in the same shop as
Strong Beer. Brewers were not allowed to mash less than two quarters
of malt at each brewing and were not entitled to renew their
licence, unless they paid duty for 100 barrels a year. Brewers were
not to retail beer except between the hours of six in the morning
and nine in the evening, nor during divine service on Sundays.
Persons prevented from keeping a common inn by conviction could not
take out a retail brewers licence.
The Acts passed by Charles II, prohibiting the loan of brewing
utensils, were repealed.
Wholesale Brewers were allowed one barrel in twelve, duty free.
Retail brewers were not given any allowance for waste.
At the Sessions for the County, Wednesday 22nd February 1823, the
Chairman Mr. Henry Dover, called for the attention of the Jury, to
the subject of Beer-houses. `Which he observed were public
nuisances, from becoming the receptacles of drunken and dissolute
persons and where crimes are planned. it was not for him to say
whether the Legislature would think it advisable to make any
alteration to the existing laws, but all persons, particularly the
Magistracy, were called upon to exert themselves to put the
provisions of the present Act in force; by compelling such houses to
be shut during divine service, and to be closed at ten o'clock at
night; and it should be understood, for the information of the
public, as well as keepers of such houses, that though the doors
were closed, if there were persons in the houses at, or after the
times mentioned, it amounted to keeping the house open contrary to
the Act and subjected the parties to penalties.'
Acts passed between 1828 and 1830 removed all control from the
Justices and many beer houses appeared.
At the Grand Jury Chamber, Norwich, Friday 8th April 1831, the
Viscount Melbourne stated by letter, that he had been approached
from various quarters concerning the numerous shops opened for the
sale of Beer under the provisions of the 1st William 4th, c51 and
was desirous of ascertaining if the fears were well founded.
Colonel Wodehouse said he was "sensible of the bad effects of these
houses" it was the unanimous decision of the Court that the morals
of the country had been injuriously affected by such houses. It was
resolved that the Court had "too much reason to believe that many of
the houses, frequented by the most profligate and dangerous
characters, gave great encouragement to the scenes of riot and
insubordination". The houses were so numerous that it was impossible
for the Civil Powers to sufficiently overlook them. However the
Court believed that good would arise from "encouraging
competition in the sale of beer, provided it was free of the present
The Reverend John Fellowes said that in his own parish, before the
late Act, there was no public house at all, but there were now 5
beer-shops. <He lived at Shottesham Park>
The Chairman stated that 25,000 beerhouses had opened, besides
45,000 public houses in England.
The Beer Act passed 15th August 1834 required Commissioners of
Excise to issue licenses for the sale of beer or cider, but not
to be drunk in the house or premises, unless the certificate of
good character of the applicant could be sworn by six respectable
parishioners. (Each rated at no less than six pounds)
The same Act allowed billeting of soldiers on licensed premises,
but only if an `on' licence was held. Also the Justices of the Peace
were to fix, once a year, at some time between 20th August and 14th
September the hours at which licensed houses could trade. In no case
was this to be before five in the morning or after eleven at night;
or before one o'clock in the afternoon on a Sunday, Good Friday,
Christmas Day, or any Fast or Thanksgiving Day.
The 1834 Act allowed police to enter premises whenever they thought
fit and refusal of admission was liable to a fine of £5. A second
such offence was liable to a conviction leading to the prevention of
selling beer etc., for a period up to 2 years.
A Certificate was NOT REQUIRED for any house in London and
Westminster, nor any town or city with a population exceeding 5,000,
NOR within the distance of one mile from the last polling place for
Members of Parliament.
Under Queen Victoria, in 1840, no house with a rateable yearly value
under £8 could be granted a licence to sell beer. Proof of rateable
value had to be presented to the clerk of the peace.
14th October 1847 - A bill came into force prohibiting any public
house, or place of amusement, from remaining open after midnight on
a Saturday or to open before 30 minutes after noon on a Sunday, or
to open before termination of divine service on a Sunday, Christmas
Day, Good Friday or any day appointed for public fast or
thanksgiving, under a penalty not exceeding £5. (Sale to
travellers was exempt.)
15th July 1869 - The Beer Act made alterations to the laws regarding
the sale of beer, cider and wine. Hitherto it had been permitted to
grant a licence for a beerhouse, without any requirement as to the
personal fitness of the applicant.
From the above date the justices of the peace could only issue
licenses at the annual licensing day or at special sessions and
satisfactory evidence of good character of the applicant must be
given. Evidence of unruly behaviour at the house, or of being
frequented by prostitutes or persons of bad character would result
in refusal of licence. The police were given powers to enter any
beerhouse and should there be any drinking of beer at any time
outside of legal hours, irrespective of the culprit being a lodger
or otherwise, a penalty of 40s could be imposed. Any person, other
than a servant or inmate, discovered on the premises outside of
legal drinking hours would also be liable of a fine of 40s each.
||It was reported 31st August 1872 that
the Houses of Parliament had fixed the opening and
closing hours of public houses.
All parties were required to close their houses between
10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on six days of the week.
(However another report of the new law said that Old
houses were allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and
it was New houses that were restricted to closing at 10
p.m. It was further stated that an old licence would
only be granted if the annual rateable value was £15 at
the least and £12 for a new or a beerhouse.)
On Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday the
houses were only to be open between 12:30 in the
afternoon to 2:30 and then from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
|At the Annual Book Hawking Association meeting, Thursday
14th October 1858, held in Norwich, the Rev. E. T. Yates
reported that two opponents of the Society were hawkers of
obscene and blasphemous publications and beerhouse keepers.
Although few of the bad publications were circulated, the
beerhouse keeper was an enemy he feared they could not be expel.
The good news was that every penny spent on cheap publications
was one saved from the beerhouse.
|The New Licensing Bill presented to the House
of Commons in March 1906 was to amend the Licensing Acts from
1828 to date.
There was to be a compulsory reduction of the number of
on-licenses to One for every 750 persons in town and One for
every 400 persons in country districts.
This to result in a suppression from 30,000 to 32,000
on-licences, or one third.
Powers taken away from the licensing authorities in the 1904 Act
would be restored.
The reduction of licenses to be completed within 14 years.
Any refusal of a new licence could only be rescinded after an
interval of three years.
The exemption given to serve, out of hours to travellers, from a
limit of three miles was extended to six miles.
Sunday opening in the country to be limited to one hour in the
middle of the day and two hours at night.
Exclusion of children from public houses, the closing of public
houses on polling days and the employment of barmaids was to be
left to the discretion of the justices.