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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Alehouse Licence Records, 1754-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Dorset Alehouse Licence Records. Dorchester, Dorset, England: Dorset History Centre.

About Dorset, England, Alehouse Licence Records, 1754-1821

This database contains a collection of alehouse licence and recognizance records from Dorset.

Historical Background

After the 1753 Licensing Act, to obtain a licence to keep an alehouse, the proprietor had to enter into a recognizance, in which the proprietor posted a bond that would be forfeited if the terms of the agreement were not kept. These terms included a guarantee of good behavior and might include not permitting “any unlawful Plays or Games” or “tipling or drinking, contrary to Law.”

What You May Find in the Records

These records include both licences and recognizance lists for alehouses. Documents typically include the name(s) of the person(s) obtaining the licence, the name of the establishment, and whom the bond was payable to if forfeit.

The recognizance lists typically list the name of the proprietor (publican or victualler) and the names of two others who stood as sureties for the bond. These lists have not been indexed because they tend to duplicate names, but they are available to browse. There is a gap in the records between 1770 and 1821, and for the licences from 1821, the year is sometimes identified as the second year during the reign of King George the IV.

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