Vintners, victuallers and taverners

Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia 1579-1664. Originally published by EJ Francis, London, 1878.

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'Vintners, victuallers and taverners', Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia 1579-1664, (London, 1878), pp. 539-549. British History Online [accessed 13 June 2024].

. "Vintners, victuallers and taverners", in Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia 1579-1664, (London, 1878) 539-549. British History Online, accessed June 13, 2024,

. "Vintners, victuallers and taverners", Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia 1579-1664, (London, 1878). 539-549. British History Online. Web. 13 June 2024,

Vintners, Victuallers, And Taverners.

I. 260. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lord Chancellor. The Wardens of the Vintners had been commanded to inquire at their Hall what persons retailed wines in the City without sufficient warrant by Her Majesty's licence or her grant to Sir Edward Horsey, or otherwise.

The Company had called before them Roger Richardson, who affirmed that his brother Robert had licence from Her Majesty by means of Sir Edward Horsey's warrant, and exhibited his licence under the Great Seal, made to Robert. It appeared the licence had been granted to Roger, but he, having authority to sell wine under the City's Charter, had caused his name to be taken out and Robert's inserted, whereby Sir Edward Horsey had been defrauded, for which offence Roger had been committed to ward in the Compter. He desired to be admitted to bail upon good security, and the Lord Mayor requested directions as to what steps he should take in the matter.
14th September, 1581.

I. 261. Letter from Sir Thomas Bromley, Lord Chancellor, to the Lord Mayor, in answer, authorizing the stay of further proceedings.
15th September, 1581.

I. 350. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Mayor of King's Lynn. Thomas Penn, Citizen and Vintner, had complained to the Court of Aldermen that he had certain wines at that town, which he desired to carry elsewhere, but which he had been prevented from doing by some officers and inhabitants of the town, to his great loss. The Lord Mayor begged that Penn, as an honest merchant, might be permitted to use and dispose of his goods as he lawfully might, and that the inhabitants and officers of the town might be required to make him some reasonable amends for the damage he had sustained.
3rd June, 1582.

I. 617. Letter from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to the Lord Treasurer, acknowledging his Letter on behalf of John Price recommending the continuance to him of his licence to carry on his trade as a Victualler in a cellar or room under the Burse. It had been determined by the City to restrain the carrying on of that trade in cellars throughout the City, since they found the practice to encourage drunkenness, whoredom, and receiving and harbouring malefactors, Touching this particular cellar, it had been found very inconvenient both to the inhabitants and the merchants who daily resorted to the Exchange. They therefore regretted that they could not comply with his Lordship's recommendation.
29th December, 1592.

II. 345. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral, acknowledging the receipt of a Letter from the King, requiring the Lord Mayor to restrain the cooks within the City from buying and selling venison, as it tended to encourage the UnderKeepers of His Majesty's Forests, Chases, and Parks, to become hunters or stealers of venison, and informing him that he had called the cooks before him, and had taken bond of them not to sell the flesh of red or fallow deer for the future.
3rd March, 1608.

III. 54. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen. Information had been given them that of late years the number of taverns had so exceedingly increased in the City and the Liberties, "that there is almost no house of receipt, or that hath a back door, but when it cometh to be let it is taken for a tavern." Although they had been often put in mind of their duty in the matter, by letters from the Council and otherwise, yet by connivance or allowance they had suffered such liberty of erecting taverns as to far exceed the number meet in a well ordered state. It was the more scandalous since the best houses, and such as were fit for the receipt of ambassadors or persons of the best quality, were caught up to be converted into taverns. Moreover, besides selling wine, of late they had got (by what warrant they knew not) a trade of victualling, and sold more meat than the ordinaries or any other places of resort within the City. The Council charged the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, as magistrates, in His Majesty's name, not to permit any house to be converted into a tavern without their permission. Little attention had been shown to the former Orders and Proclamations concerning the restraint of new houses and divided buildings, and they required the Lord Mayor to suffer no new building, either within the City or in any garden or place within the Liberties, and to certify to the Council any persons who should attempt the same.
10th July, 1612.

III. 121. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council. For the avoiding of abuses in tippling houses to the maintenance of drunkenness and vice he had lately taken some courses with the Victuallers and Brewers of the City, and done his best to remedy these enormities; and on account of the excessive quantities of barley daily converted into malt for the brewing of sweet and strong beer, had, with the advice of his brethren, limited the Brewers to the brewing of two sorts of beeronly, the one at 4s. and the other at 8s. the barrel, and had made proclamation thereof throughout the City. Lest the farmers and officers of his Majesty's Customs should allow the breach of the said Orders, by which his care would be frustrated, he begged that they might be instructed by the Council not to permit any beer to be transported without his knowledge.
31st December, 1613.

III. 126. Letter from the Lord Mayor to Lord Coke. (fn. 1) Knowing it to be his duty to prevent scarcity and dearth of corn, and finding a large quantity of malt and corn to be weekly used by Brewers in brewing strong beer and ale, and in supplying tippling houses therewith, and finding, upon a survey of all the victualling and tippling houses,—which were upwards of 1,000 in number—that in some cellars some men had 200 and others 300 barrels, and the whole quantity in such houses exceeded 4,000 barrels, he had done what he could to reform the abuse and save needless waste of corn. Notwithstanding his endeavours and orders for that purpose, reducing the number of alehouses, and limiting their number of barrels to twenty, by which means corn and malt had been reduced 5s. or 6s. per quarter in a fortnight, and above 2,000 quarters weekly had been saved, the brewers, combining with such as kept tippling houses, furnished them in the night with their accustomed quantity of barrels, and by their indirect dealing the price of corn had again risen 3s. 6d. per quarter, for prevention whereof he had had a Bill prepared by counsel which he recommended to his consideration and furtherance.
20th January, 1613.

III. 131. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, forwarding a complaint made to them by Edmund Pye against the conversion of a house on Ludgate Hill into a tavern, and expressing their hope that the Court of Aldermen would have such care as should be meet for the prevention of the increase of taverns.
8th February, 1613.

III. 132. Letter from Sir Henry Hobarte, Knt. and Bart., Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, to the Lord Mayor, on behalf of the bearer ("Mr. Locksmith" in margin), who by reason of the writer's having removed from his office of Attorney-General had lost the place he held under him, and was desirous, for the better support of himself and family, of converting a house which he had lately purchased on Ludgate Hill into a tavern.
Serjeants' Inn, 13th February, 1613.

III. 133. Letter from Sir Lawrence Tanfield, Knight, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, to the Lord Mayor, praying him to prevent the conversion by Mr. Locksmith of the house without Ludgate, not far from the house of the writer, into a tavern.
Dated from his house near Ludgate, 17th February, 1613.

III. 135. Letter from Sir Thomas Lake to the Lord Mayor, forwarding a petition presented to the King by Edmund Pye, Gentleman, against Mr. Locksmith, and intimating that the King, knowing how the City was pestered with taverns, and understanding that they had already taken order in the matter, and that the Lords of the Council had likewise written to them on behalf of the petitioner, and still Mr. Locksmith was not satisfied, had commanded him to signify His Majesty's pleasure that the intended tavern should be stayed according to the direction of the Lords.
Whitehall, 14th March, 1613.

III. 136. Copy of the petition of Edmund Pye and other the inhabitants of the parish of Saint Martin-at-Ludgate to the King, referred to in the preceding letter.

III. 140. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council, reciting the steps taken by him to restrain in the brewers from consuming excessive quantities of corn and malt in the brewing of stronger beer than was allowed by law, whereby the price of corn had been reduced 4s. or 5s. per quarter. The brewers continued to brew such beer, alleging it to be made for use at sea, though they conveyed it at night to the tippling-houses. He requested the Council to restrain the transportation of any beer exceeding the assize of 8s. and 4s. the barrel.
26th March, 1613.

III. 145. Letter from the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen to the Lords of the Council. By the charters and customs of the City, the Lords Mayor for the time being had the search and correction of all cooks, innkeepers, alehouse-keepers, and other victuallers and tipplers within the City and Liberties. For preventing the inconveniences arising by their receiving into their cellars whatever quantities of headstrong beer they liked, orders had been prescribed which had been approved by the Lord Chief Justice, and had since been confirmed by an order of the Council of the 27th March last. The cooks had lately very secretly and surreptitiously, upon wrong suggestions, obtained a new charter from the King, with a non obstante to dispense with all Statutes, Proclamations, Orders, and the aforesaid decree of the Council. They therefore prayed the Council to mediate with His Majesty, that the said letters patent might be referred to the consideration of the Judges to certify whether they were agreeable to law and the charter and good government of the City.
21st May, 1614.

Note in margin.—Upon this letter, the Cooks' new charter was referred to the consideration of the Lord Chief Justice Coke.

III. 175. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, reciting that there were divers good and wholesome laws enacted for restraining the excess of victuallers and brewers, and against the brewing and sale of beer and ale of unreasonable strength and price, the execution whereof had been so much neglected, that the greatest part of the tillage of the kingdom, usually employed for wheat and other bread corn, had been converted to the sowing of barley, which would produce dearth and scarcity unless some remedy were speedily taken. The Council intended to provide for prevention of this great abuse, and for the better execution of the before-mentioned laws throughout the kingdom; to begin, therefore, with London, the principal City of the realm, where these abuses were most practised, they required every Alderman in his Ward to call before him the innholders, victuallers, alehouse-keepers, cooks, and all those who brewed and sold again in bye-places, and to examine the quantity and prices of such ale and beer as they had received into their houses and cellars since Christmas, 1613, to ascertain the names of their brewers, and to report the particulars in writing to the Council.
15th October, 1614.

IV. 100. Letter from Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls, to the Lord Mayor. Lythan Price, desiring to use his trade as a cook, had bought the lease of a house and shop in Southwark, and set up a tippling-house without licence; but as he had done it in ignorance, he prayed his Lordship's favour in his behalf.
From the Rolls, 10th February, 1617.

V. 27. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen. They had been informed by a Petition from the inhabitants of the parish of St. Mildred, in London, that one Zacharie Letherland, who about seven years before had erected a tavern in the house wherein Sir Alexander Avenon kept his Mayoralty, in the parish of Allhallows, Bread Street, was about to erect another tavern in the parish of St. Mildred, in a house formerly inhabited by an Alderman. They were further informed that the City had within these few years become so pestered with taverns, that latterly the better sort of houses were taken up by vintners, at unreasonable rents, and converted into taverns, to the maintenance of riot and disorder, and the great inconvenience and disquiet of the neighbours. They understood that, by ancient Acts and Laws, made for the good government of the City, the number of taverns had been limited to forty, and their places assigned; but it was said there were now upwards of four hundred. As the Vintners, above all other trades, were permitted to keep eight or ten apprentices apiece, they would in time increase to such a number as to be insufferable in a well-governed city. The Council, therefore, desired that some speedy remedy might be applied by Act of Common Council for the restraint of this enormous liberty of setting up taverns. They also desired to commend the Court of Aldermen for the steps already taken by them, forbidding Letherland to proceed further in the erection of the tavern, and required them to hold a strict hand with him, and, in the event of his disobedience, to commit him to prison until he had given security to desist his present enterprise and never to attempt the same again.
Hampton Court, 25th September, 1618.

V. 73. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, with reference to taverns crected near to churches, some within the churchyards, and others so near thereto as to occasion offence and scandal both to civil government and to parishioners at times of divine service, requiring them to ascertain exactly all such taverns as were nearer to churches than was fitting, or were any ways offensive thereto, and to take effectual order for their removal, and for the prevention of similar erections for the future, and to report their proceedings, with all convenient expedition, to the Council.
28th June, 1620.

VI. 12. Order in Council reciting that the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London had reported to them that one Robert Burchmore having been called before them, and admonished to forbear converting his house into a tavern, they had, upon his refusal to conform himself to their order, committed him to Newgate, and directing that he should remain a prisoner therein until he submitted himself to the order's of the Court of Aldermen, or the Council should give further directions in the Matter.
Whitehall, 30th May, 1623.

VI. 40. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor. They had received a Petition from Henry Friar, complaining of the annoyance and prejudice sustained by him in consequence of the conversion, by John Burdett, vintner, of a goodly house, anciently inhabited by gentlemen, into a tabern. After referring to proceedings of the Court of Aldermen of the 27th January last, in relation thereto, and also to a letter from the Council, of the 25th September, 1618, for remedying the inconveniences occasioned by the great multitude of traverns within the City, they require the Lord Mayor to take steps for converting the house in question to some other use. (Marginal note says, the house was without Cripplegate.)
15th April, 1624.

VI. 73. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen. The King had been informed of great abuses committed by evil-disposed persons selling and retailing tobacco throughout the kingdom, and keeping under colour thereof tippling-houses and places of resort for lewd persons. The Council required steps to be taken to search, examine, and find out all persons selling tobacco by great or by retail by the pipe, and to be certified, within seven days, of their names, residences, conditions, and professions.
Whitehall, 25th August, 1626.

VII. 53. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor. The King foreseeing the present dearth and scarcity, had, by a late Proclamation, required that there should be an abstinence from flesh on fish-days, and no suppers on fasting-nights, in inns, taverns, &c., which Proclamation contained no new thing, but pointed directly to laws and statutes formerly made and still in force for the keeping of fasting-days, and restraining the eating of flesh in Lent and on fish-days, as in the 2nd and 3rd Edward VI., cap. 19; 5th and 6th Edward VI., cap. 3; 1st Elizabeth, cap. 5; and 35th Elizabeth, cap. 7. It seemed very strange to the King and the Council that a Proclamation grounded on so many good laws, &c., and in a time of such scarcity should be so much contemned in every tavern, ordinary, &c., in the City and suburbs, and the King was resolved to have it reformed; and to make the reformation thereof within the City an example to other places, it was His Majesty's command that the Aldermen and their Deputies in their several Wards and the Justices of the Peace should strictly examine as to offenders since the Proclamation had been issued, and inflict due punishment on delinquents, and in future see the laws put in constant examination in victualling-houses, &c., and especially the Law of the 2nd and 3rd Edward VI., Whereby offenders were to be imprisoned and kept without flesh during their imprisonment. His Majesty further commanded that the Lord Mayor should appoint fit persons, to be nominated by the Fishmongers' Company, to make search and present offenders, and to see them punished, certifying every fourteen days to the Council. The officers of the Ecclesiastical Courts had been commanded by the King to take order, according to their jurisdiction, that offenders were punished according to the Statute 5th and 6th Edward VI., cap. 3. That the reforming of the one abuse might not give advantage to the practising of another, the Court of Aldermen should take such a course with the Fishmongers' Company that the prices of fresh or salt fish were not enhanced, and that the markets were well served. The King's desire to see a reformation of these abuses by a fair way might thus be perceived; but, if he found no speedy effect, he would think of a sharper course to bring such wilful contemners of the laws and of his commands to better conformity.
Whitehall, 12th November, 1630.

VII. 77. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor, referring to their directions for the prevention of the sale of drink by defective measures, and for the employment of the penalties levied on the offenders for the relief of the poor, and requiring a strict account of the moneys received as penalties in each parish, and also from unlicensed victuallers, and how they had been disposed of.
Whitehall, 15th November, 1632.

VII. 91. Order in Council with respect to three newly erected taverns in the City, of which complaint had been made by the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, intimating that they, to whose care and charge it belonged, must judge of the convenience or inconvenience of any new taverns, and accordingly either permit or make stay thereof; and requiring a return of the number of taverns erected since the former Order of Council of the 10th July, 1612; how many of them were in inconvenient place; how many were in one man's hands; whether more than one man were interested by partnership in the keeping of one or more taverns; how many taverners used victualling, and how long they had done so.
17th July, 1633.

VII. 94. Certificate from the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen (in answer to No. 91) that there were sixty-one taverns in the City of which three were in inconvenient places—one in Finch Lane, another (the White Lion) in Candlewick Street, and another in Cheapside, of which the sign was not yet up. They could not ascertain whether more than one tavern was in one man's hands, or whether more than one were interested in one or more taverns. As to victualling, there was scarece a tavern which did not most frequently use it, and had not done so more or less of late years.
Dated in margin, 8th October, 1633.

VII. 96. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council, forwarding Certificate required by their letter No. 77.
Dated in margin, 8th October, 1633.

VII. 97.Order in Council reciting that the Certificate of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen (No. 94) only gave the number of taverns erected since 1612, but not how many were licensed by the King and how many by the Vintners' Company, nor the whole number within the City and Liberties, all of which they intended by their former order, and of which they required Certificate by the 6th November next.
25th October, 1633.

VII. 99. Order in Council for the suppression of all taverns having signs and stairs to the water, "having regard that loose persons, bankrupts, and such as are otherwise obnoxious, may privately resort thither, and likewise shift away, and withdraw themselves from the justice of the realm."
6th November, 1633.

VII. 100. Certificate from the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen to the Lords of the Council, that the whole number of taverns within the City and Liberties was 211, of which six were licensed by the King, 203 by Vintners, and two by neither, the situations of which are given. Another is also mentioned, which had been omitted in their last certificate.
Dated in margin, 6th November, 1633.

VIII. 33. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen with respect to a complaint made by merchants of the City dealing in French wines, that the vintners bought of the Frenchmen and other strangers rather than of the said merchants, to their continual loss and hindrance; and requiring the Court to have the parties before them, and ascertain and certify to the Council the price at which the vintners usually bought of the merchant, and the price at which they retailed.
24th April, 1616.

VIII. 82. Order in Council (upon the complaint of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen that John Price, Citizens and Vintner, would, contrary to their order, set up a tavern in an unfit and dangerous place, adjoining a warehouse in which flax and other combustibles were stored) directing that, forasmuch as the fitness and unfitness of places for setting up of taverns belonged to matter of government, and so therefore properly appertained to the said Court, the contrary whereof could not be understood or intended, either by the Statute or the Patent granted to the Vintners' Company by King James, the said Price should submit himself to the order and determination of the said Court, and not proceed nor use his trade without their licence, but remove himself and his goods within such time as they should appoint.
18th November, 1629.

VIII. 83. Further Order in Council, upon complaint of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, that Price had refused to conform to the above Order, instructing the Lord Mayor to give speedy directions for shutting the doors of the tavern, and taking down the bush (fn. 2) there set up, and ordering a warrant to be issued for the committal of Price to prison for contempt.
9th December, 1629.

VIII. 84. Further Order in Council, upon information that Price still continued to keep open the tavern and sell wine, and had taken in a great store of wine, intending to continue the sale, directing the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to shut the doors of the tavern, and take down the sign or bush before the same (if any there were), and to require Price, his wife, and servants, not to sell any wine by retail there, and, if they refused, to commit the said servants or any other persons to prison till further order.
19th February, 1629.

VIII. 107. Same as No. 91, Vol. VII.
17th July, 1633.

VIII. 108. Same as No. 77, Vol. VII.
15th November, 1632.

VIII. 116. Same as No. 99, Vol. VII.
6th November, 1633.

VIII. 130. Same as No. 99, Vol. VII.
6th November, 1633.

VIII. 169. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Clerk of the Peace or Town Clerk of the City of London, for a list of alehouse keepers and tipplers licensed in the City, distinguishing the places and parishes where they dwelt, their Christian and surnames, and their sureties, and the number of all the recognizances entered into by any alchouse keeper.
31st December, 1635.

VIII. 171. Letter from the King to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, with respect to his recent Proclamation against the unlawful destruction of game, requiring them, as a ready vent was found for the same in every tavern, inn, and alehouse, to cause every taverner, innkeeper, ordinary-keeper, common cook, and alehouse-keeper, once in every year, to become bound in the sum of 20l. not to dress, or suffer to be dressed, or directly or indirectly to buy to sell again, any such game. He had appointed two Commissioners to see the same put in execution. He requested them to have an eye to such as, being victuallers, transgressed therein, as unfit to be licensed, and to certify their names to the Privy Council.
4th April, 1636.


  • 1. Sir Edward Coke.
  • 2. Hotten, in his 'History of Signboards,' pages 233–4, gives an interesting account of the origin of the practice of setting up a bush or sign, or both, at the doors of inns, taverns, &c. Reference is made to the custom as extant in the City in 1375 in Letter Book H of the Corporation Records. Vide 'Memorials of London in the XIII., XIV., and XV. Century, p. 386.