Thursday, 28 July 2016

Week 30: Licensed Victualler

I am almost embarrassed to say this out loud, but I don’t know really anything about pubs.  It is not something that I have frequented.  I do remember in one of my trips to England a cousin took me to a pub and all the patrons there got a kick out of my Canadian accent, there was a lot of laughter and I believe some of that laughter was at my poor dart playing.  That was my one and only time in and English pub.

There are so many references to publican, or victualler in the census, that I knew at some point in time I would have to research it further. 

So the first thing I wanted to look into is the history of drinking in Britain. On one of the sites that I had seen it stated that beer making had been around back in the roman time.  It also stated that “Beer was one of the most common drinks during the Middle Ages. It was consumed daily by all social classes in the northern and eastern parts of Europe where grape cultivation was difficult or impossible. Beer provided a considerable amount of the daily calories in the northern regions. In England, the per capita consumption was 275–300 liters (60–66 gallons) a year by the Late Middle Ages, and beer was drunk with every meal” 
In the Middle Ages, ale would have been brewed on the premises from which it was sold. Alewives would put out an ale-wand to show when their beer was ready. The mediaeval authorities were more interested in ensuring adequate quality and strength of the beer than discouraging drinking. Gradually men became involved in brewing and organized themselves into guilds such as the Brewers Guild in London of 1342 and the Edinburgh Society of Brewers in 1598” (

There were a number of sites that also mentioned that since the water was so bad in London and that the Thames was already polluted – they drank beer for refreshment.

The licensing changed for beer selling in England with the passing of the Beerhouse Act 1830 which would then allow anyone to brew and sell beer on payment of a licence costing two guineas.  The law makers were hoping that by encouraging more places selling beer that would lower the price and then perhaps people would then stop drinking the hard stuff like gin.

So what is the difference between a publican and a victualler?   A publican sells beer and a victualler sells spirits, beer and food.  An inn keeper would be another term used for victualler.

I have also found where there seemed to be just as many bankruptcies as there were publicans/victuallers and perhaps they had to give it up because they could no longer pay for the licence. I have found where in one census the profession may be listed as publican and the next census he is a general labourer.

So it came as a surprise when I was researching one particular victualler in the tree and found where he did quite well for himself!

William Ellerton Sherratt was born in Liverpool in 1868 to Richard Sherratt and Anne Elizabeth Palin.  In the 1871 census Richard’s occupation was given as a carver and a gilder.  The interesting thing about this census is they lived next door to a licenced victualler.

William was one of 12 children born to his parents and he was number 10 in the birth order.  In the 1881 census, William’s parents are both alive and his father’s occupation is still wood carver and gilder.

In the 1891 census, William is not living at home but currently at a Hotel in Birmingham and his occupation is commercial traveler.

In the 1901 census we find William is now living in South Wimbledon, Surrey, he is married and has a child.  His occupation is still listed as commercial traveler but this time it also says cordage worker.

In the 1911 census William’s address is The Middleton Hotel, High Street, Southend-On-Sea, Essex and his occupation is licensed victualler.  It shows where he has been married for 16 years and has 2 children.  The census also shows there are 3 barmen, 3 barmaids, 1 waitress, 1 waiter, 1 cook, 1 housemaid and 2 guests living there.

According to, it lists the different hotels that William ran.
1911  Gauden Hotel, 104 Gauden Road, Clapham SW4
1912-1926   Middleton Hotel, High Street, Prittlewell

The next thing we find for William is in the 1939 Registry.

 Then I found where William died 1947 and I was able to find a probate listing for him. 

Then I was became curious to know what would be the equivalent in today’s money from what was listed in the probate and went to this great site where it will figure out that equivalent.

So then I had to google that address as seen in the 1939 Registry.

Yep, I would definitely say that he did alright for himself!

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