Finding out the history of your local can be a fascinating pastime and one which many of the members of the society enjoy. If you're embarking upon discovering your particular pub's past then there are many ways to do this and the Pub History Society is here to help.
Please read the following notes which have been prepared by the Society to help you in your research.
There are, and have been, many thousands of pubs with their numerous licensees and there is no central place to provide all the answers . Our resources are limited so we hope that the advice below outlines what actions and procedures we suggest you should take before submitting your enquiry form .
Please let us know which of these resources you have tried when you submit your form.
Potential sources to try first:
• Have you typed in the pub name and its location (eg History of the Dog and Duck Manchester) into Google or other search engines? You may be surprised at the results. If the pub still trades they may have their own website with details of history (Example: White Cross, North Cray) However it might be wise to treat the information found on a pub’s own site as a starting point only since often the “facts” are not distilled from primary sources and may perpetuate stale myths or distortions of the truth.
• Put into web ‘History of Pubs in (village/town/city/county)’ and try results.
• Contact the library local to where the pub was/is or the appropriate County Record Office. It may turn out someone has already researched the local pubs and it has been published. No point in duplicating work.
• The government has always issued laws regarding licensing of premises and the licensees but the survival of the records is patchy across the country. Victuallers had to take out recognizances - sureties for good behaviour, lists of which may or may not note a pub name. Licensing Registers from 1871 list pub and changes of licensee and may note law infringements which lead to reports in local newspapers.
• You should consult a guide ‘Victuallers’ Licenses; Records for Family & Local Historians’ by Jeremy Gibson & Judith Hunter. This details county by county types of record which survive and which repository holds them.
• If you are interested in a person involved in the pub trade then the decennial Census returns from 1841 are available in many forms. (However, please note that records are closed for 100 years.)
• From 1790s commercial directories by County appear and they list by Parish people and their various trades. A publican/licensed victualler invariably is listed under the sign of the pub but if a beerhouse keeper (established by the Beerhouse Act 1830) they are listed under personal name and the sign is rarely mentioned.
Having tried the above, and you find you are still in need of more information, then submit the enquiry form to us, telling us what you have discovered and what further information you are looking for. Once we have this information we'd be only too happy to circulate your enquiry around our research network to see if we can dig further down and discover the more obscure facets of your local pub's hidden history.
Good luck in your research.
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