ALEHOUSES. By the common law of England, a person might open a house for the sale of beer and ale as freely as he might keep a shop for the purpose of selling any other commodity; subject only to a criminal prosecution for a nui sance if his house was kept in a disorderly manner, by permitting tippling or exces sive drinking, or encouraging bad com pany to resort thither, to the danger and disturbance of the neighbourhood. But in course of time this restriction was found to be insufficient; and in the eleventh year of the reign of Henry VII. (1496) an act was passed " against vacabonnds and beggers passed (11 Hen. VII. c. 2), whichcontained a clause empowering two jus tices of the peace " to rejects and put awey comen ale selling in tonnes and places where they shall think convenyent, and to take snertie of the keepers of ale-houses of their Bode behavyng by the discrecion of the seidjustices, and in the same to be avysed and aggreed at the tyme of their sessions." This slight notice of the sub ject in the statute 11 Henry VII. c. 2, seems to have been entirely disregarded in practice; and a statute passed in 1552 (5 & 6 Edward VI. c. 25) recites that "in tolerable harts and troubles to the com monwealth of this realm doth daily grow and increase through such abuses and dis orders as are had and used in common ale houses and other houses called tippling houses," and power was given to two jus tices to forbid the selling of beer and ale at each alehouses ; and it was enacted that none should be suffered to keep alehouses unless they were publicly admitted and allowed at the sessions, or by two justices of the peace ; and the justices were di rected to take security, by recognizanoes, from all keepers of alehouses, against the ruing of unlawful games, and for the maintenance of good order therein ; which recognizances were to be certified to the quarter-sessions and there recorded. Au thority is then given to the justices at quarter-sessions to inquire whether any acts have been done by alehouse-keepers which may subject them to a foribiture of their recognizances. It is also pro
vided that if any person, not allowed by the justices, should keep a common ale house, he might be committed to gaol for three days, and, before his deliverance, must enter into a recognizance not to re peat his offence ; a certificate of the re cognizance and the offence is to be given to the next sessions, where the offender is to be fined 20s. This statute formed the commencement of the licensing system, and was the first act of the legislature which placed alehouses expressly under the control and direction of the local magistrates; and alehouses continued to be regulated by its provisions, without any further interference of the legisla ture, for upwards of fifty years.
In 1604 a statute was passed (2 Jac. I. c. 9) expressly, as the preamble states, for the purpose of restraining the "inordinate haunting and tippling in inns, alehouses, and other victualling houses." This act of parliament recites, that "the ancient, true, and principal use of such houses was for the lodging of wayfaring people, and for the supply of the wants of such as were not able, by greater quantities, to make their provision of victuals, and not for entertainment and harbouring of lewd and idle people, to spend their money and their time in lewd and drunken manner ;" and then enacts "that any alehouse-keeper suffering the inhabitants of any city, town, or village, in which his alehouse is situ ated (excepting persons invited by any traveller as his companion during his abode there ; excepting also labourers and handicraftsmen, on working-days, for one hour at dinner time to take their diet, and occasional workmen in cities, by the day, or by the great (by the piece), lodging at such alehouses during the time of their working), to continue drinking or tippling therein, shall forfeit lfts. to the poor of the for each offence." From the exceptions introduced into this statute, and also from the preamble, it is clear that, in the time of James I., it was common for country labourers both to eat their meals and to lodge in alehouses.