Ale Tunners And Tunner’s Ale in 1500s Leicester

beer1522People don’t give municipal records the respect they deserve. Where the rubber hits the road, that’s what a municipality is. Consider this from the Records of the Borough of Leicester Being a Series of Extracts from the Archives of the Corporation of Leicester, 1509-1603:

Aile tasters and sworne men within the towne of Leicester aforesaid to make inquiries there of the defaltes of tunners & typplers and especially to inquire and present the defaltes and trespaces of common dronckerdes that do vse to sitt typplynge at the aile houses all daye and all nyghte vnthryftely, and their wyves and children almost sterve at home for lacke of good releffe and sustentacion.

That cheery wee note from the Tudor world was entered into the records on November 18, 1569. Another dated April 7, 1592 just states “Ale 2\d. a gallon “as well strong ale as the tunner’s ale.” What’s a tunner? Or tunner’s ale? In the records of the municipal corporation of Boston, there may be a bit more information:

According to the Corporate records, the brewers in 1547 were ordered to sell good ale for 1¼d the gallon, double beer 1½d. the gallon, and single beer 1d. the gallon. In 1552 small ale was sold at three gallons for a penny, “till malt rise in price;” and good ale 2d. the gallon. In 1558 the brewers were to sell double beer at 20d. the firkin, and single beer for 10d. In 1575 certain persons were appointed ale-tunners to taste the ale and beer before it was sold. Brewers, before they “tunne their ale and beer, to send for the ale-tunners to taste the same to see that it is good wholesome drink:” prices to be regulated according to the price of malt.

That doesn’t look right. Muddies whether the ale tunner is an officer who is required to ensure that the beer is in good order or if they are someone who needs ordering about by an officer. The tunner seems to be consistently defined elsewhere as the cask filler, not the judge of anything. Hmm. This record from Nov. 16, 1520 also from Leicester helps a bit with the process:

Allso that no brewer within this towne sell forthe no ale tyll the allderman of that ward and too of ye XLVIll haue tasted their alls bothe the best and ye second in pene of forfeture the fyrst tyme iiij”. Wnd. and so to dowbyll as ofte as they make defawte; and yf the alderman of the ward be a brewer hymselfe or thos that [are] of the XLVIII, then to call the alderman of ye next ward to taste as aboweseyd for they that be brewers schallbe no tasters.

I love that “best and ye second” as the same was still going on in Vassar’s brewery in 1808 before things got too scientific. And there are a string of separate Tudor functions and trades all in those passages up there: the XLVIII, aldermen, brewers, tunners, typlers, tasters. The XLVIII or “the 48” appear to be members of a secondary level municipal council, beneath the one formed by the aldermen. A typler is a retailer as we can see the Leicester’s law of around that time provided “that no typler within this towne sell no ale with onlawfull mesures.”¹ It looks like the tunners and the typlers answer to the alderman and the tasters all to ensure thedronckerdes get their proper aile. If the aldermen and tasters are checking on on the tunners and typlers, they may be ensuring proper measures are sold at both the wholesale and retail levels and not just whether the stuff is foul or tasty. Quantity as well as quality control. Tasters were municipal officers who were otherwise titled better known as “ale conners” and lesser known as “ale founders” – the last of which lingers on as an especially obscure family last name. They also confirmed price. In 1853, of the 234 boroughs in England and Wales, 26 had officers titled “ale tasters”, six had an “ale founder” while only four officers were called “ale conners”. Martyn has explained that they did not sit in puddles of ale as part of their job despite modern sillinesses. Hornsey has more of both the law and the silly.

If all that is correct, the note about Boston is wrong and the tunner is not the taster as these were separate and separated tasks. Checks and balances. Still not sure what “tunner’s ale” was in 1500s Leicester… or any other place or time for that matter. Another day for that perhaps.

¹The named measures include “strykes”, gallons, “potell”, quarts, pintes. I can spot the pottle but not sure what a stryke is. By the way, I am not sure if that image is related to ale, is English or even from the 1500s. Looks swell, though.

Ontario: Skeleton Park Session Ale, Stone City Ales


Minimalism. I like this sort of labeling. It’s all I really need to know. Even if the Skeleton Park thing seems to be some sort of out of season Halloween branding. It’s actually the name of a district here in Kingston with its own claim to a particular corner of our a rich history. They have an arts fest there every June, just a couple of blocks from the brewery.

scaspsa1Golden amber cloudy ale under a fine clingy whipped egg white foam. Wafts of orange juice and ginger aromas from the Frankenhops these kids are brewing with these days. In the mouth, fruit cocktail. By which I mean the canned fruit cocktail of the 1970s dinner table. Lots of pear, a little cherry and a base of orange – all with a frame of weedy herbal bittering. By Stonch’s law, it is not much different than a lime and lager. Not a barley sandwich. Yet, it’s really attractive at this strength. Flavours that you see a lot a 7% or more but better suited in this more watery form. Lush. I like.

One thin BAer rating but certainly CAMWA approved.

Tom And Bob Drink With Coal Porters In Masquerade


A break from the maps… yet more of the rats’ warren of Georgian information online. I have no idea what I am going to do with it. Seems a bit of a waste. But then you find this, Real Life In London, Volumes I and II by one Pierce Egan. It’s an 1821 fictional exploration of London’s nightlife high and low by gentlemen cousins Tom and Bob – including a drinking session in a pub known as the Black Diamond… or Charley’s Crib wearing “tatter’d garments and slouch’d hats” to hide their identities:

…they were in a house of call for Coal Porters. Before the president (who, by way of distinction, had turned the broad flap of his coal-heaving hat forward in the fashion of a huntsman’s cap) was placed a small round table, on which stood a gallon measure of heavy wet. On his right sat a worn-out workman fast asleep, and occasionally affording his friends around him a snoring accompaniment to a roar of laughter.

As you know I enjoy seeing what is to be found in an image of pub life like this one from 1775 but the adventures of Tom and Bob go the next step and add text description to the information in the image. You can read the story yourself. It’s not much good 194 years after the fact but look at the information that’s stuck away in there:

• Drinks: They are drinking quarts of ale. Porter-pots. There is a gallon pitcher in the middle of the floor on a small table. Punch served in bowls but taken by the glass.

• Manners: hats stay on. A penny is placed in a dish for seemingly unending supply of tobacco. No credit. Singin’ and dancin’ for each other is the entertainment.

• Slang: the drinking session is a “heavy-wet”. Not sure what “blue ruin” is… no, I go – it’s gin. They all seem to have an accent with “v for “w” – why? “Quawt” for quart. “Toast” has the modern meaning.

• Space: The tables are set in a horseshoe. Candle light. Service from the middle. The text says this is a public house but it seems more like a club.

In itself, its not going to win the Nobel for literature anytime soon. But at well over 800 pages, a pretty extensive effort to describe the scene even if through the lens of two upper class twits. Hardly lines up with the stories told in the court reports from about the same time. Which is fine. That case of the ten year old getting off murder charges in 1756 after throwing a knife into the chest of mom’s abusive boyfriend was a bit much.

The Sun, Crown and Three Arrow Brewhouses, Golden Lane

goldenlane1834I didn’t expect this. Another brewery across the street. According to the folks selling a copy of the image, the map is likely originally from 1811. It shows a bit of Golden Lane on its side. Left is north and right is… OK, you don’t need being told that. So The Crown Brewhouse existed to at least 1811. And a policy of insurance was taken out by one Edward Bond in 1779. John Strype’s in his work A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster in 1720 is not being very helpful in that he writes this about Golden Lane:

Golden lane, of no great Account, either for Buildings or Inhabitants. It comes out of Redcross street, and runs up into Oldstreet; but the part of this Ward, goeth no further than Angel Alley, which is by the City Posts. The Courts and Alleys in this Lane, are, Jacob’s Well Alley, very mean. Cocks head Court, pretty large, and well built; hath a Door and Passage, by sufferance, into the Redcross Tavern in Barbican. Black Raven Court, pretty handsome, but small. Crown Court, a good open Place, Sun Court, long, and in some places pretty broad: It runs into Red Lion Market, which is in the Lordship. Near to this Place is the Sun Brewhouse; as also Three Arrows Brewhouse, both of a good Trade. Dinon’s Rents, very small and ordinary. Vine Court, indifferent good….

But then says this about Redcross Street immediately to the south of Golden Lane, continuing the north south route below the cross road of Beech :

Redcross street, wide, well built and inhabited; it comes out of Barbican, and runs up to Cripplegate Church. Besides the Courts and Alleys hereafter named, here are several large Brewhouses, which, by the Map, seem to be Courts. Three Herrings Court, pretty large, but ordinary. Red Lyon and Axe Inn, but indifferent. Three Faulcon Court, very good, and well built, with a Free stone Pavement. Cradle Court, pretty large and good, falls into Bowling Alley in Whitecross street. Pauls Alley, very long, with some pretty handsome Houses, fit for good Inhabitants; and runs into Aldersgate street, by the Half Moon Tavern. The Crown Brewhouse, of a considerable Trade. Bear and Ragged Staff Alley, very ordinary. Frying Pan Alley, very mean. Ship Yard, but ordinary.

The Crown Brewhouse off Redcross? He’s got it a whole chunk of the city to the south. Fine. I am not going to bother my pretty little head right now about where the Crown Brewhouse sat. Look at the reference to Golden Lane again. There is the Sun Brewhouse and the Three Arrows Brewhouse. Careful readers will recall that Joseph Towle was sentenced to the branding of his hands from stealing from his employers at the Three Arrows Brewhouse in 1694. Even more careful readers will have noted in the comments me trying to figure out where Sun Alley was and, other than being a nasty place in 1756, what its connection to the site of the Golden Lane Brewery was while Martyn gives me guidance.

goldenlane1795Perhaps another map will help. This is a wee bit of “Cary’s New And Accurate Plan Of London And Westminster” from 1795 which shows a few things. First, clearly Sun Alley is marked to the lower right. It comes off of Golden Lane and goes east to the Red Lion Market on White Cross. The southern arm of Golden Lane Brewery in the 1807 lithograph and 1827 map clearly sits on north side of the same lane running east to Red Lion Market. That southern arm also sits south of the dotted line on both the 1795 and 1827 maps. Because that is the northern extent of the City of London. Which means the Golden Lane Brewery which was an expansion of Combrune’s Brewhouse with a history going back to at least 1792 may itself have been build in the site of the Sun Brewhouse. Maybe. Second, there is a place called Brew House Court or Close, mid-block immediately to the north of the Golden Lane Brewery site. What the heck is that?

This map from 1720 isn’t much help nor is this one from 1700. The map of 1801 doesn’t give me much more than is on the one from 1795. Oh dear. Think I need to sleep on this and ask myself what this is all about.

Trials Of Ale House Crime In Cripplesgate Without


Like so many of the digitized records related to beer and brewing through the internet available to us now, Old Bailey Proceedings Online is a fabulous resource. One of the great levelers of the beery discourse is going to be more and more access to open records so that we won’t be subject to the great man theory of beer too much longer. The down side is that the mass of data is going to require a careful eye aware of greater context as well as the skill sets required to receive the information in itself. This post over at The Many Headed Monstergive us a taste. So, it’s just clean fun to come across a data set that one can really get one’s teeth into given the career path to date. What am I talking about? I am talking crime. Crime like this evidence from a case from 1780 in which the evidence of Cornelius Murphy was received:

I kept a public-house in Golden-lane . On the 7th of June, between six and seven o’clock, a great mob surrounded my house, some with swords and some with bludgeons. They came into the tap-room and had what liquor they wanted. They examined my books and were going off satisfied.

Was the prisoner among the mob? – “Not at that time. After giving three huzza’s in the house they went down the street some way. One Clark and his wife called the mob back, and said I was a Papist, and they must down with my house. The mob returned immediately, and began pulling down the house.

When did you see the prisoner? – “About half an hour after they began he was in the bar, drawing the liquor and drinking it.

Had you ever seen the prisoner before? – “Yes; he had been several times at my house; I am positive he is the man.

Did you see him do any thing else? – “I saw him break part of the bar down.

What was the rest of the mob doing? – “Pulling down the house and drinking the liquor.

Court. Whether the mob were pulling down the house during that hour in which you say the prisoner was in it? – “Yes, they were.

Be particular in describing what they did to the house, the wainscoting, and window frames? – “They had iron crows beating them down.

Excellent. An anti-Papist crowd rips apart a public house and someone gets nabbed. The funniest thing is apparently the particular accused was sent into the riot to save the spirits, the hard liquor from being part of the bust up – by the distiller who sold it to the place. The guy got off because he was folloing his boss’s orders: “he desired some of our men might go and assist him to get his liquor from the bar.” Not sure I’ve seen “bar” used for a public house that early but someone will correct me, will be better informed.

That’s what was going on on Golden Lane on one nutty day about 27 years before the image up there of the Golden Lane Brewery was created. You will recall Golden Lane and its ties to hundreds of years of perhaps unremarkable brewing history. It appears to also have associations with hundreds of years of drinks, ale and brewing related crime, too. What else went on there?

• A few generations earlier, one Joseph Towle, was tried for theft on October 10, 1694: “Joseph Towle was Tried for stealing 3 l. in Money, from William Underhill Esq ; at the Three Arrows Brewhouse in Golden-Lane ; the Prisoner was seen to come out of the Counting house, (being Cooper to the Brewhouse) and afterwards the Drawers were found open, and the Money gone; and he being strictly examin’d about it, confest.” Sticky fingered coopers. How often do you see that? He pleaded that he was drunk but was sentenced to a good hand branding anyway.

• Martha Purdew , of St. Giles without Cripplegate was sentenced to death in 1720 for stealing a money bag off someone who offered her a lift en route to Islington when they stopped for a dram of brandy.

• In 1726, Albertus Burnaby, a brewer who formerly lived on Golden Lane was brought before the court to explain himself for defrauding his creditors while being a bankrupt. He was acquitted for a lack of evidence.

• In 1752, Thomas Barnes was sentenced to transportation for stealing a silver tankard while at a public house on Golden Lane: “On the 26th of December, about three o’clock in the morning, two men came in and called for three pints of beer: before the boy could get down into the cellar, one of the men said, I am surprized to see you so dilatory, to be up yourself and have your cellar window open, than opens in the street: immediately the boy, in the cellar called out Aunt! Aunt! here is a thief in the cellar. I ran down, saw the prisoner at the bar, with a silver tankard in his hand…

• One more. In 1766, Sarah Stanley was sentenced to death for stealing money from her employer, the keeper of a public house. When confronted, a scene ensued: “She equivocated a great deal, and said she knew nothing of it; at last she said, they were at the foot of the bridge; in going, they met them both together accidentally by Cripplegate church; I was not there. They went in at the Ship-ale-house, in Whitecross-street, and I and the constable were sent for. The father used me there in a very abrupt manner; he pushed me down flat on my face, and threw beer over me and another…

It’s all so fabulous. In that last case, the details include one drinker testifying that “I had a pint of beer; I said to the girl, put a bit of toast in it…” while the tavern keeper cried out in despair “I am ruined, I am robbed of all I got; it is not mine, it is the brewer’s money“. Hints about serving options and the business of running a tavern all hidden in the sad tale of the thieving serving lass who met her death. Not to mention the glamorous testimony “I felt a knob in his fob.” Fun stuff. A great source of 18th century low life and public house manners – not to mention Stuart and Georgian sentencing horrors. The otherness of the past laid plain before you.

Image #1 for Note #5 below in the first comment:









The Hillars Of Golden Lane, Cripplesgate Without

hillarsUp there, that is a detail from the Agas map, a wood cut map of London from 1561. In the upper right you will see Golding Lane. If you were cleverer than I am you would have noticed that in the last couple of weeks I mentioned Golding Lane twice. In this post, I referred to a court case about the improper pulling down of a brewery in 1680. And in this post, I made mention of the Golden Lane Brewery of the early 1800s, a brewery set up as a joint stock company. It took me a few days to realize that Golding Lane was the same place as Golden Lane – as is Goldyng Lane and Gouldinge Lane. It’s still there but not much of the past remains. Its part of a district that was flattened by the Nazis in the Blitz. It’s not very long, running the few blocks from Old Street south to Beech Street now as it did in that map above 454 years ago, in the suburbs of Cripplesgate Without, the north part of an ancient ward of of the City of London. One thing has survived. The church. St-Giles-without-Cripplegate avoided being taken out by both the Nazi bombers and the Great Fire of 1666. My hero and early Canadian beer man Martyn Frobisher is buried there.

Golden Lane and the immediate vicinity seems to be inordinately beery. Or maybe just that its beeriness is well recorded. That’s the funny thing about records. Things recorded where the records survive gain as much importance as those breweries and brewing towns with a ripe habit of offering generous beer writer junkets. To be mentioned is to be important. Yet… there is something about the place worth considering. In Stow’s 1603 A Survay of London it notes that the Brewers Hall stood a few streets inside Cripplegate, one of the gates in London’s medieval wall. Stow states that the Company of Brewers was incorporated by Henry VI in 1438 but it was the brewers of London who built the gate in 1244.

I am not going to try to write about all the brewing connections to Golden Lane in one post. Let’s start with something fairly manageable. The brewery which was torn down in 1680 by a rather self-confident tenant. You will recall from that recent post that the case of Greene versus Cole – both at trial and appeal – provided a lot of information about the place including how William Cole came to be the owner, as successor to one John Hilliard who himself received it as son an heir from his father John Hilliard who died in 1651. The son himself only made it to 1658 at which time Cole received it under will of John the father. But it does not stop there. Mike Brown in his article “Some named brewhouses in early London” published in Brewery History issue 144 identified a bit more of the brewery’s history sets out a passage in a will probated in 1591:

To Robert Hyllyar my son for his life I give my messuage or brewhouse called the sign of the Flower de Luce lying in Gouldinge Lane, now in the tenure of Robert Allyson, brewer; and after his decease the remainder thereof to the issue of his body; for default, I will that the reversion thereof shall remain to the maintenance of the poor distressed people inhabiting within the freedom of the City of London in the said parish of St. Giles without Creplegate for ever, and the lease of the said messuage and brew-house shall from time to time be made by the good advice of the parson and Churchwardens of the same parish of St. Giles.

A more complete record of the will of John Hillar from 1591 can be found on line here. The brewery is said to be worth £6 annually. Richard the son of John was just 26 years old when he received the brewery in 1591. Which makes him a very likely candidate for being the father of John Hilliard who died in 1651. John (d. 1591), Richard (b.1565), John (d. 1651), John (d.1658) all owned the brewery on Golding Lane, which would be shown somewhere on that woodcut up there from 1561. Neato.

And it goes even further back that that as Brown in his article shows that in a will from 1407, a bequest was granted by Robert Gerthe to Agnes his wife to whome he left “a brew-house called ‘le Flourdelys’ in Goldynglane in the parish of S. Giles aforesaid for life.” Flower de Luce. Flourdelys. Fleur de Lys. A brewery just outside the wall of London for at least 273 years, torn down 335 years ago.

More References To That Shadowy Taunton Ale

tauntonmapAttentive readers will recall that I have a slow side project in figuring out what I can about Taunton ale. It was a bit of a by-catch to the whole Albany ale thing with references to it showing up in central New York around the time of the American Revolution. When I got to the New York State Library in Albany in 2012, I found a mass of references to it being sold in New York in the 1750s and 1760s. And then it pretty much fell off the table. I couldn’t find anything more online. But three more years means three more years of people throwing everything they can find onto the Information Super Highway. So what is there to add to the story now?

First, it was being exported to other parts of the British empire than just pre-Revolutionary New York. In 1774, Taunton ale is described as being one of Bristol’s exports to Jamaica along with products like West country cyder, cheese, leather, slate, grindstones, lead, lime for temper and Bristol water. Another record shows a ship for Jamaica in 1776 being loaded with Taunton ale, household goods as well as “volumes of entertaining history.” Taunton also is mentioned a number of time in The Bright-Meyler Papers: A Bristol-West India Connection, 1732-1837. In the entirely uncomfortably titled “Letters on the Cultivation of the Otaheite Cane: The Manufacture of Sugar and Rum; the Saving of Molasses; the Care and Preservation of Stock; with the Attention and Anxiety which is Due to Negroes and a Speech on the Slave Trade …”, what appears to be an 1801 guide to running a slave sugar plantation again in Jamaica, a warning is given on being too generous with one’s manager:

A very injudicious mode of remuneration, established by folly, and imitated by thoughtlessness, is that of fixed and stated presents. Such are, on many West Indian estates, invariably ordered for a manager, whether he is deserving of them or not; whether he makes fifty hogsheads, or five hundred; whether his Negroes increase or diminish; without regard to the situation of the stock, or to the improvement or neglect of any article entrusted to his care. These annual compliments consist sometimes of provision; as beef, butter, hams, and other articles of domestic consumption. But they are not judicious, even if they are merited. For their cost would invariably be turned to greater advantage, by an industrious economical manager, than the presents which are bestowed on him. Some of these acknowledgments, too, are pernicious in their nature: operate, though not intended, as an incentive to vice, and a seduction of the manager from his business. Such is the cask of Madeira before alluded to; and such are casks of porter and Taunton ale, with cases of claret. All these idle substitutes for judicious remuneration should be abolished, and proprietors should constantly reward their managers, in proportion to the services which they render, and the prosperity which they bestow, on whatever is entrusted to their care.

In 1808, a gazetteer states that large quantities of malt liquor called Taunton ale was also being sent to Bristol for exportation. Around the early 1820s, Taunton ale was selling in Bristol for 9s 6d a dozen quarts compared to 10s for Burton and 7s for porter.

Next, there is clearly a lifestyle aspect to Taunton ale in the beginning of the 1800s. It’s a beer for the destination traveling poet. Volume 30 of The Scots Magazine from 1777 included The Poem “In Praise of Tobacco” which included the lines “Say, Muse, how I regale, / How chearfully the minutes pass, / When with my bottle, friend, and glass, / Clean pipes and Taunton ale.” Yikes. In a 1797 letter, the clearly better poets Coleridge, Lamb and Southey are described as drinking Taunton along with a meal of bread and cheese. In the 1804 annual ofSporting Magazine, Taunton is described as most famous for that best of human beverage, good ale; though the author have I have before quoted thus mentions the attachment of the natives to it with some regret: “Hail Taunton! thou with cheerful plenty bless’d, / Of numerous lands and thriving trade possess’d, / Whose poor might live from biting want secure, / Did not their resistless ALE their hearts allure.” More bad poetry. Not sure how that reflects on the quality of Taunton ale.

What was it? The 1824 booklet “The Spirit, Wine Dealer’s and Publican’s Directory” gives some sense of the beer in its treatise on “the art of making vinegar, cider, perry and brewing malt liquors – and particularly Taunton strong beer and ale.” We are told the strong ale takes eight or nine bushels of the best pale malt to the hogshead as well as six pounds of Farnham hops – but use east Kent hops if the beer is meant to be kept for two or more years. Strike at 160F, cover the lot with dry malt or sweet bran and let it sit for three and a half hours. Strain off and boil the wort with the hops of an hour. A half hogshead of strong ale results from the first running with ale and table ale the second and third. Its an odd sort of set of instructions for something written 191 years ago. It all reads a lot like a 1960s Amateur Winemaker home brewing article. The short guide recommends spirit dealers lower the proof of their rum by adding a mix of two-thirds water and one third Taunton strong for softness. It is a soft water zone so they may have had a point.

Also, Taunton seems to become the drink of a certain sort of well placed gent, especially when from one particular brewer. In Benjamin Disraeli’s letters from the mid-1830s, he tells a correspondent that Eales White would send a barrel of Taunton ale which he describes as “something marvelous.” The 1851 annual of Sporting Review describes the morning of a hunt and the reception in one great house:

The merry young sportsmen returned to the house, not however till they had been gratified by the safe arrival of the jumper, who, led by Thomas, was placed in a stall perfectly fresh and fit to go; by which time things were looking more cheerful. A bright fire blazed on the dining-room hearth; breakfast was prepared, the sideboard groaning with good substantial cheer; and even the somewhat flamingo-faced butler had contrived—knowing the squire’s peculiarity, or, I should rather say, punctuality on hunting mornings—to rouse himself from a most agreeable nap, and honour the lower dominions with his portly presence. In fact, as far as I can recollect, he was decidedly the most substantial, if not the most important, person of the Hall or neighbourhood – et pourquoi non? Excuse a French term, for he was certainly most useful in his special department; added to which, he brewed without exception the best ale I ever tasted: and if-so-be it precisely suited his own palate—what then? all the country round pronounced it undeniable. Stogumber beer was, or rather is, mere wish-wash in comparison, though vastly agreeable; and White’s Taunton ale alone could bear it any comparison.

Martyn cleared up the Stogumber question in 2011, but it is White which is clearly the name which appears associated with the best Taunton ale in mid-1800s English society. The report of Crimean Army Fund Committee of 1855 also mentions Eales White, Esq. of the Taunton Ale Brewery as a contributor to the cause among those who gave presents of wine, spirits or beer. Probate of the will of Eales White, Brewer of Taunton, Somerset was before the court in 1855. He has a rather splendid headstone.

And that is it. A beer for the bastardly late 1700s Jamaica slave plantation manager, for the great and crap poets of the turn of the century as well as for the gentry of the mid-1800s. Three dislocated bits of society, no? Well, they do sorta all have the well placed slacker theme going for them. Is that what the beer represented? The lazy entitled bastards’ reward?

Legal Customs In Three Sorts Of Brewing Cases



More law. And why not? Beer is largely a function of law being a rich source of revenue for the crowd and a rich source of discord within the community. And with 178 volumes of court rulings in the English Reports covering the years from 1220 to 1866, there’s likely years’ worth of content to be examined. I am trying to wrap my head around it all. The court dealing with claims of ancient or at least established custom appear as a recurring theme. Two of the hops cases in the post from a couple of weeks ago were about a form of custom, the tithe to be paid to the church by the hop growers in a parish. Local rules. There are other customs to be identified as set out in cases like these:

• In the 1817 case Gard v. Callard [1817] EngR 255; (1817) 6 M & S 69; 105 ER 1169, the following claim was brought to the court in Devon.

… the plaintiff declared upon the custom that all the inhabitants within the borough of Modbury brewing in their houses there any ale or beer for sale, ought to grind at his mills in the parish of Modbury, all the malt used or spent ground by them in their said houses, in the brewing of ale or beer for sale, and to pay him a certain toll for the grinding thereof ; and alleged that the defendant was an inhabitant, &e. and that on the 1st January 1803, and on divers other days between that and the day of exhibiting the bill, he ground at other mills.

See the odd thing? The case is heard fourteen years after the wrong is alleged to have started occurring. The defendant, Callard, had not gotten his malt processed at Gard’s mill in all that time. The fee to be paid for the grinding was ” a toll of six quarts and a pint out of every bag of twenty gallons.” If there are four quarts in a gallon I make the fee 6.5 quarts out of every 80 or 8.125% of the malt. That is a hell of a toll for just milling the malt. No wonder they wanted to go elsewhere. But the toll was upheld. The lord of the manor was to be paid because “doubtless long usage and acquiescence in one uniform payment was cogent evidence that it was reasonable.” Because the internet is wonderful, here is more information on the manorial charter as well as the mills of Modbury. I wonder how much later it was until modernity hit, how long it was before beer was being brought in by train from somewhere else, undermining the manorial toll.

• Another sort of custom was claimed in Bosworth (Chamberlain of London) against Hearne [1791] EngR 130; (1791) Andr 91; 95 ER 312:

…that anno 1663 order was made by the mayor, aldermen and commonalty reciting, that the streets of the said city were much annoyed by brewers carts and drays, and therefore it was ordained thereby, that no brewer, drayman or brewers servants, shall work or be abroad in the streets with any cart or dray from Michaelmas to Lady-Day after one of the clock in the afternoon, or from Lady-Day to Michaelmas after eleven in the morning, upon the pain of forfeiting 20 s. for every time…

I am not sure why the annoyance of the City could be put up with for two hours more from Michaelmas to Lady-Day than in the rest of the year. For those of you who do not know, Lady Day is 25 March while Michaelmas falls on 29 September. The “Lady” is the Virgin Mary and the date on the calendar goes back to before the English Church split away from Roman Catholicism. Like the long standing civic holiday, the City of London’s order of 1663 was upheld as still good law in 1791. The fine for late deliveries was still good local law.

• The next case, Greene versus Cole, is harder to follow but it is laced with references to “custom” and “brew” which in itself qualifies it. The dispute relates to a will. A lot of these cases about breweries relate to a dispute in a will. But this one has a particularly spicy aspect – a charge of waste (perhaps as against the custom of the City of London) as set out in the ruling:

… the said Henry did make waste, sale, and destruction in the said house and messuage, that is to say, by prostrating a brew-house parcel of the said messuage of the price of 1000 [pounds], and taking away and selling the timber and roof thereof; and also by pulling down, pulling oft, and carrying away four ale-tuns fixed to the said brew-house, each of them of the price of 5 [pounds], a copper of brass covered with lead likewise fixed to the said brew-house, of the price of 200 [pounds], a mash-tun likewise fixed to the said brew-house, of the price of 20 [pounds], a pump erected in the said brewhouse, of the price of 5 [pounds], six brewing vessels called coolers made of timber likewise fixed to the said brew-house, each of them of the price of 6 [pounds], a malt-mill with a small millstone belonging to the said mill fixed in the ground in the said brew-house, of the price of 20 [pounds], and a cistern made of a cement called plaster of Paris, and fixed in the ground in the said brew-house, of the price of 10 [pounds], to the disinheriting of the said William, and against the form of the provision in such case provided ; wherefore he says that he is injured, and has damage to the value of 1000 [pounds] and therefore he brings suit…

Short version: the tenant (of a sort) tore down the brewery. The owner (of a sort) got upset. The brewery itself was “commonly called or known by the name or sign of the Flower de Luce” and was on Golding Lane (later Golden Lane) in the parish of St. Giles without Cripplegate, London. [See more about the brewery here.] There are two versions of the case that I see: Greene versus Cole [1845] EngR 97; (1845) 2 Wms Saund 228; 85 ER 1022 as well as Greene versus Cole [1845] EngR 98; (1845) 2 Wms Saund 252; 85 ER 1037. As you can see, the two cases were published in the same year, the second appearing to be a form of appeal. The passage set out above is from the first of the two. The second one explains what is going on a bit better. The first court hearing is before the “hustings,” a court of the city of London, held before the Lord Mayor, the sheriffs and aldermen. It handled matters related to land, common pleas, appeals from sheriffs and probate – or disputes over wills like in this case. Beadles are called in. Jurors are rounded up from the wards around the location of the brewery to advise what they think was going on. The hearing was held in the still standing Guildhall, illustrated above in the 1750s. The custom in this case is all about local municipal process. But the cases are not from 1845. They are from the 20th year of Charlies II, republished to illustrate the point being made in law. As a result, they also illustrate the value and the elements of a brewery from the 1680s. It had a cement cistern. Who knew? Again… neato.

That is enough for today. This ain’t easy reading.

The British Ale Brewery, A Joint Stock Company In 1807

bab1807In 1807, a correspondent who went by the name “The Plain Dealer” wrote a letter to the editor of The Morning Chronicle on the topic of joint stock companies:

SINCE my last letter a number of new projects have been announced to the public, and some of them of great magnitude…. Let us begin with the Breweries. No fewer than five companies have been established, to rescue the public from bad beer at an increased price. This was a most tempting proposal. There was, after the series of unfavourable harvests, which we suffered at the beginning of the new century, an universal complaint against the beer. It was not merely lowered in quality, but composed of substitutes for hops and malt, which were thought to be pernicious; and to add to the evil, it was said to be the practice of all the great brewers, both in town and country, to buy up the leases of ale-houses, so as to deprive the publican of the freedom of going to the best brewery for his liquor. If this statement be true, it was a crying evil; but it was, and is, capable of an easy remedy. It depends entirely on the Magistrates; for if, instead of the reluctance which they now feel at the licensing of new houses, they would make it a rule, whenever a public tap was known to be the property of a brewer, and that bad beer was the consequence, to license a free house, in the immediate neighbourhood; the competition would be renewed, and the people would be served with a wholesome, palatable, and strengthening beverage. We know that the worthy Chief Magistrate of a city in the county of Kent has announced this to be his determination, and the inhabitants have already reason to be grateful to him for his device.

Competition. That was the promise of the joint stock companies. Too much wealth had gravitated into too few hands through the reactionary period after the loss of thirteen of the fifteen American colonies and then the French Revolution. The quality of beer crashed as prices climbed. But this new cure by joint stock companies was not trusted. In the string of letters to the editor in which this one is found, complaints about “sleeping partners” and “middle men” are set out. The sorts of things that people who distrust big faceless corporations floating mid-air in the stock markets still raise today. Yet there was an argument that these were tools to break the monopolies of the fantastically well connected and landed, the means to introduce competition into a status based economy. Competition was a new idea. Distrust hovered.

There is another reason folk were concerned other than the shock of the new. 1720. Ever since 1720, the joint stock idea was cursed. See, from the mid-1500s to 1720 there was a system of chartered companies approved and given blessing by the Crown. The most famous in Canada is the Hudson Bay Company that continues today. In our book Ontario Beer, Jordan and I describe how in the 1670s beer was being brewed in Ontario’s Arctic north by staff of the HBC over-wintering in trading posts set up to supply the firm with furs and other goods from the exotic north. A number of these were set up to encourage trade with lands as far away as Russia and Turkey… and then in the first quarter of the 1700s the South Seas. Careful readers will recall a few days ago when in the 1760 case Hunter v. Sheppard the Court described the hop buying fraudulent scheme in this way: “…trade was at that time very particularly circumstanced, hops being in 1764, like South Sea stock in 1720, or India stock in 1767…” Frauds. Bubbles. Money going in but never a hope of return coming out. The disastrous South Sea Company was the last of these companies to be chartered. And for a hundred years they remained highly suspect.

By the new century, new problems with the economy demanded a return to the concept.Unincorporated and unlisted subscription joint stock companies were forming when large groups of people subscribed into what essentially was a extremely large partnership. Described as “associations of gentlemen” they formed to break the grip of the established and wealthy in the context of the new commercial liberties and the new industrial era. One of these new enterprises was the British Ale Brewery. In an 1809 edition of The Monthly Magazine in the listings of commodity prices, one aspect of the British Ale Brewery is described: you can purchase a share in the firm for a 4 pound premium. Trading in company shares was an innovation and one that caused distrust.

But what was the British Ale Brewery? Apparently, it operated. The formation of the company was described in the 1815 court case Davies v. Hawkins:

…in 1807 a number of persons, about 600, associated together as a company, and made subscriptions, which subscriptions were divided into shares of 50 pounds each, for the purpose of establishing a brewery for ale, &c. under the name of the British Brewery. The subscribers entered into a deed which contained, among others, these provisions: that the shares should be transferable, &c. the purchaser executing the deed, and binding himself to observe the regulations, etc. contained therein; that a committee to be appointed should have power to make rules, orders, and bye-laws, subject to confirmation by a majority of the proprietors at a general meeting; that the conduct of the business of the brewery should be confided to two persons who should be styled brewers, and the trade should be carried on in their names…

The two assigned to act as brewers 1807 were Begbie and Murray. Their British Ale Brewery along with the Golden Lane Brewery were the only two breweries to complete their share subscriptions and enter trading in Britain’s early 1800s stock markets. How did it fair? In the 1808 ruling in Buck v. Buck, counsel for the firm pleaded that the intentions of the brewing enterprise were the purest:

The object of The British Ale Brewery was to carry on a lawful trade in a lawful manner, and to furnish to the public at a cheap rate, and of a good quality, an article of the first necessity It was a public benefit, therefore, instead of a nuisance, and was no more illegal than any other partnership comprehending a great many members.

The court was not moved. It held the business to be outside the law. The brewery was supposedly located in 1810 on Church Street just south of Lambeth Palace in London between Pratt Street and Norfolk Row as shown in that 1818 map up there. Bits of those streets by those names still seem to exist near the Thames. Its twin, the Golden Lane, died off as a joint stock company in 1826. Hmm. In 1808, the same Begbie and Murray appear to take out an insurance policy for the Caledonian Brewery on Church Street in Lambeth. The equipment and the lease for the Caledonian Brewery of Lambeth are auctioned in 1824 and in 1831, one Thomas Begbie testifies before a committee on the state of the brewing trade. By 1844, the law of Britain required all joint stock companies to be incorporated and listed. Whatever happened, the brewery and the era appear to have been wound up by then.