Tag Archives: pub history

The Gun Inn, Blackboys: A little background on pub history

11 May

Pub history is something I became interested in through my local history studies, so it was really pleasing to discover that one of my ancestors had been the owner and licensee of a pub.

That ancestor was Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) and the pub in question (actually a beerhouse) was The Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written several posts about Henry HEMSLEY before, but haven’t written a lot about the pub itself.

Pub history is closely related to family history because an important part of the pub is its people, whether it is the owners/workers or the people/organisations that used it. Many of the same sources are used such as census returns and directories.

Pub history is also closely related to house history after all it is about a building and it’s contents. As such it uses many of the same records that are used in house history, like tax and rate books and maps and plans.

Pubs have also generated their own set of records as a result of the fact that they were licensed. Of course they weren’t unique in being licensed but it has helped generate a potentially large set of records to investigate.

It also helps that pubs have always needed to attract customers, so they needed to be advertised, which means they are often mentioned in guide books and in more recent decades there have been books devoted to lists of pubs and their facilities.

As well as providing a resting place for the weary traveller they also served an important role in the local community, they have served as meeting places for a range of organisations and groups, another excuse for the pub to be featured in newspaper reports.

Then there is the physical building itself (if it still exists) which potentially offers many clues to its history and what it used to look like. There might be architectural features that provide a connection to a brewery or maybe the layout of the building will provide clues to the original layout of the building.

In short there are lots of sources of information for pub history, pulling them all together to create a complete picture can be a complicated task. Just like family history part of the challenge is knowing where to look for the information and not being disheartened when that missing piece of information is not where it should be.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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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).

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 9)

28 Feb

I think I am going to rename this weekly post, to reflect the fact that it is becoming more about what I have done, rather than what I want to do.

Last week was very busy with emails from people who have been reading my blog, it took the focus off of my own research, which wasn’t really a bad thing. There have been some very interesting and challenging queries raised by my readers, and it has really been very stimulating, so thank you to all of you who got in touch.

So, I didn’t get much of my own work done last week, or that is how it appeared. I did however go through some ideas about so future projects, including more pub history research. I also tried to get my head around my mental block over the BATEMAN family, and think I have an idea how I am going to get myself interested on working on the family.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Create a research plan for the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex. I really want to find a connection with Thomas Geering and prove the connection with “the old druggist”
  • Conduct a review of Gloucestershire sources available online and at the Society of Genealogist’s library and the London Family History Centre (to help with my BATEMAN research).
  • Create a trial “Sussex pub history profile” to see how much work is involved and how much information I can find online, the intention being to make it a weekly feature of a (new?) blog.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 8)

21 Feb

More of the same I am afraid this week. I am still struggling to find real focus in my research, and I think that is the way it will stay whilst I am sorting through my folders.

The only exception seems to be the GEERING family and the book by Thomas GEERING. His book seems to mention my ancestors, even if a connection with Thomas himself can’t be found, but I need to find more evidence to prove this.

My visit to the Pub History Society Conference has encouraged me to get more actively involved in pub history research again. I am not quite sure how this will manifest itself, I have at least one unfinished project on my shelf, and I had several ideas that I never developed, as well as several family connections.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Create a research plan for the GEERINGs of Hailsham, and see what options I have for further research.
  • Make my final preparations for Who Do You Think You Are? Live next weekend.
  • Brainstorm some ideas on doing some more pub history research and getting it published (another blog?)
  • I must make a final effort to get myself interested in researching the BATEMAN family from Gloucestershire, so far they just haven’t hooked me. I think I need to take a step back and not blame the BATEMANs for not being interesting, but rather work out what is putting me off.

The Pub History Society Conference

20 Feb

I spent the day at The National Archives today, but didn’t do a single piece of research! Instead I attended the Pub History Society Conference held at the archives.

This was the first time the Pub History Society have held a conference, and hopefully it will become an annual event. For me it seemed that The National Archives was an ideal place to hold it, not only were the conference facilities excellent, but we also had the benefit of the other facilities at the archives, such as the café, cyber-café, lockers and bookshop.

There were five excellent talks, on varied aspects of pub history, some of which (if not all) will hopefully appear as podcasts:

  • The Lost Pubs of London (Jack Adams)
  • The Pub and the People (Simon Fowler)
  • Women, Darts and the Pub in the Interwar Period (Patrick Chaplin)
  • Pub Signs and Names (David Roe)
  • A Short History of Coaching Inns (David Thomas)

I wouldn’t like to try and pick a favourite, they were all thought provoking and made me think about aspects of pub history aside from my usual family history angle.

However, I couldn’t get away from family history entirely, especially during the talk on coaching inns. I couldn’t help wondering what Thomas KINGHORN (my 4x great-grandfather) thought about the coaching inns that he stopped at whilst guarding the mail coaches.

All in all it was a truly memorable day, and what really made it extra special was a guided tour of The National Archives given by Simon Fowler (editor of Ancestors magazine), giving us a peek behind the scenes.

A successful evening tracing some HEMSLEY ancestors

12 Apr

This evening has been spent in the company of some of my HEMSLEY ancestors. This was one of the branches where my family tree was looking a bit bare, but now I have added three more generations, back to my 4x great grandfather Samuel HEMSLEY.

I still have much information to add, looking at the census returns there were plenty of siblings to my direct ancestors to add, and dates of birth to check in the GRO BMD indexes.

Fortunately for me they were all from the parish of Framfield, Sussex (now in East Sussex) with the exception of my 2x great grandmother who was from Kent (possibly Tunbridge Wells). I do like it when I have several generations of ancestors for the same parish, as it makes it worthwhile investigating the parish in some depth and even buying indexes and transcriptions of the parish records if they are available.

Most of the occupations are pretty much what I would expect from my ancestors, more farmers and labourers, but there is one interesting exception, in the 1871 Henry HEMSLEY (3x great grandfather) is described as a farmer of 12 acres and beer house keeper. As a long time member of the Pub History Society, I am pleased to at last have an ancestor who was in the trade. I will definitely be paying close attention to him at some stage in the future.

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