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A few words of explanation about the pages within this site.

The vast majority of the entries are from old trade directories, so if you see an entry where the source is Pigot's, Kelly's, White's, Post Office or some other name; this is from where the information was taken. These directories list who was at the premises around the time they were published, but they may have been some years out of date. They also didn't state what the person was doing there in relationship to the premises, but I have assumed that, like today, they would be the licensee - the equivalent to "having your name over the door". There are many instances where the occupation of the named person is listed as being other than that relating to the retailing of alcohol. This is because most entries in the directories listed the name of the premises, the name of the person there and any secondary trade they might be involved in. Indeed the earlier directories, up to the mid 1850's, would list the person there as "& Farmer" or suchlike.

Beerhouses also need an explanation. Back in days gone by, beer was considered part of the staple diet (still is to this author) because the process of boiling water to make beer was also a purification process. Unlike today, water in many areas wasn't safe to drink in its natural state, so beer took its place. Therefore it was made quite a simple process to obtain a license to sell beer to the local people out of a person's house, farm, smithy etc. Very few beerhouses are named within the directories, but most would have had a sign outside alerting the passing traveller to the fact that there was beer for sale. Census returns usually give the name of the sign.

Waffle over!


Folklore has it that this term for liquor comes from a Philadelphia distiller named E.C. Booz who prospered around 1840 by selling a popular spirit in bottles shaped like a log cabin. This is not correct. The word has been around since the fourteenth century and in use in America since the early eighteenth century. The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang records a cite of Benjamin Franklin using the term boozy from 1722, and Webster's 1828 dictionary has entries for boose and bouse meaning "to drink hard; to guzzle," and for boosy meaning "a little intoxicated; merry with liquor."

It derives from the Middle Dutch verb busen, meaning to drink heavily, and first appeared in English as a verb spelled bouse. 

From Spenser's 1590 The Faerie Queene, I.iv.22: 

    "And in his hand did bear a bouzing can, 

    Of which he supt so oft, that on his seat 

    His dronken corse he scarse upholden can"

From: Wilton's Word & Phrase Origins

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    And Last updated on: Wednesday, 03-Jul-2019 18:23:53 BST