Looking at Petty Session licence registers

12 Jul

As I mentioned the Uckfield Petty Sessional Division licence registers last week I thought it might be worth explaining a bit more about them and what sort of information you might expect to find in them.

Why were they created?

These particular registers were introduced as a result of The Licensing Act of 1872, the full text of which is available on the Office of Public Sector Information website. Section 36 of the Act details the requirements for keeping the registers:

There shall be kept in every licensing district by the clerk of the licensing justices of that district a register, to be called the register of licenses, in such form as may be prescribed by such justices, containing the particulars of all licenses granted in the district … 

What was recorded in them?

Section 36 of The Licensing Act of 1872 also describes what should be recorded in the register:

… the premises in respect of which they were granted, the names of the owners of such premises, and the names of the holders for the time being of such licenses. There shall also be entered on the register all forfeitures of licenses, disqualifications of premises, records of convictions, and other matters relating to the licenses on the register.

The first of the registers that I looked at (ESRO PTS 5/4/1 1872-77) contained the following column headings, although not all columns were used.

  1. Date
  2. Particulars of Licence
  3. Name and Situation of Property
  4. Annual Value of Premises
  5. Name and Address of Owner of Premises
  6. Name of Holder of Licence
  7. Transferee, New Tenant, or Occupier
  8. Date of Transfer
  9. Forfeitures of Licences
  10. Disqualifications of Premises
  11. Record of Convictions

Subsequent registers followed much the same format until after The Licensing Act of 1904, which introduced financial compensation for licences that were not renewed for reasons other than cases of misconduct.

This lead to further columns being added to the registers under the overall heading of Reference to Compensation Authority.

  1. Whether upon Application for Renewal or Transfer
  2. Date of Reference
  3. Decision of Compensation Authority
  4. Date of Extinction of Licence

Where can I find them?

The definitive guide to finding registers of licenses is Victuallers’ Licences – Records for Family and Local Historians by Jeremy Gibson and Judith Hunter. Originally published by the Federation of Family History Societies in 1994, it is now in it’s third edition.

This book is divided into two sections, the first part describes the different types of licensing records that have been created, and the second section is a listing of the records that have survived for each county and where they can be found (usually the county record office).

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