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In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 11

Lesson Eleven
What Does that Mean? "Licensed Houses"

Once a year the selectmen of a town were required to review all taverns in town and decide which could remain open for business. A tavern keeper’s license could not be renewed if he or she did not provide for travelers what the law required, or if any misbehavior had been reported.

Sect. 3. All tavern keepers had to provide suitable food and lodging for travelers and their horses and cattle, or their licenses could be taken away. This included pasture, stable space, hay and dry food for the animals (except in busy seaport towns where only stable space and food were required for the animals). A tavern had to have a sign posted where all could see it. A tavern keeper could lose his or her license and their sign would be taken down if they refused to provide suitable services for travelers and their animals.

Sect. 4. One needed a license to sell and serve alcoholic drinks in their tavern, house or other buildings. If someone with a license for only selling liquor and not running a tavern served liquor to customers in any of their buildings, they would receive the same penalty as someone without a license who did the same thing.

Sect. 5. Dice, cards, bowling, billiards, Quoits, and gambling games could not be played in any tavern building or on the grounds of a tavern. The fine was forty shillings each time. Anyone caught playing these games had to pay a fine of twenty shillings.

Sect. 6. No dancing or parties were allowed in taverns. The fine was thirty shillings to be paid by the tavern keeper and six shillings each to be paid by those involved in these activities.

Sect. 7. A tavern keeper could not let anyone get drunk in the tavern. Young people (except for travelers) and servants could not drink in a tavern without permission from their parent, master, or guardian. The penalty to the tavern keeper was 20 shillings each time.

Sect. 16. The town selectmen were responsible for making a sure a list of people who often got drunk or gambled was posted in taverns. A tavern keeper had to pay a thirty-shilling fine for serving or selling liquor to someone on the list, or letting someone from the list gamble in his or her tavern.


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