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Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England

Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England

Mark Hailwood
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England
    Book Description:

    This book provides a history of the alehouse between the years 1550 and 1700, the period during which it first assumed its long celebrated role as the key site for public recreation in the villages and market towns of England. In the face of considerable animosity from Church and State, the patrons of alehouses, who were drawn from a wide cross section of village society, fought for and won a central place in their communities for an institution that they cherished as a vital facilitator of what they termed 'good fellowship'. For them, sharing a drink in the alehouse was fundamental to the formation of social bonds, to the expression of their identity, and to the definition of communities, allegiances and friendships. Bringing together social and cultural history approaches, this book draws on a wide range of source material - from legal records and diary evidence to printed drinking songs - to investigate battles over alehouse licensing and the regulation of drinking; the political views and allegiances that ordinary men and women expressed from the alebench; the meanings and values that drinking rituals and practices held for contemporaries; and the social networks and collective identities expressed through the choice of drinking companions. Focusing on an institution and a social practice at the heart of everyday life in early modern England, this book allows us to see some of the ways in which ordinary men and women responded to historical processes such as religious change and state formation, and just as importantly reveals how they shaped their own communities and collective identities. MARK HAILWOOD is Lecturer in Early Modern British History at St Hilda's College, University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-311-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    From the starting point for Chaucer’s pilgrims – and thus arguably for English literature – through Thomas Young’s complaint that it was ‘too much frequented by yong and old of all conditions’, to its prominent place on twenty-first century lists of ‘what makes England “England”’, the pub has played a defining role in English social and cultural life. It has done so over many centuries, and eulogies to its significance as an integral strand in the fabric of English society often accord a sense of timelessness to that role. But the place of the pub in English life is not...

  7. Part One The Alehouse in the Community

    • 1 ‘True and Principal Uses’: The Role and Regulation of Alehouses
      (pp. 17-58)

      John Noyes was a prominent figure in the early-seventeenth-century economic and political spheres of the Wiltshire town of Calne. He was a clothier – a trader in the town’s main commodity, woollen cloth – and served as a Member of Parliament for the borough in 1604, and between 1599 and 1630 was several times Burgess Steward, the chief executive of the town’s corporation.¹ In 1612, he took his turn to act as town constable, a role that made him responsible for the keeping of the peace. Here, like so many of the office-holders in the towns and villages of early-seventeenth-century...

    • 2 ‘Authority and Good Government Trampled Underfoot’: Authority and the Alehouse
      (pp. 59-110)

      In 1656 the mayor of Salisbury, William Stone, opened a petition against ‘needless alehouses’ in his town with the following entreaty to the magistrates of Wiltshire:

      Lay to hart the great disorders & variety of sin & wickednesse comitted in alehouses dens of sathan in which most commonly god is highly dishonoured religion abused authority and good government trampled under foot.¹

      As the previous chapter showed, such concerns with the ‘great disorders’ that were feared to occur in alehouses were prevalent amongst the middling and upper sort opponents of the institution, and served to underpin a regulatory framework designed to closely police...

  8. Part Two The Community in the Alehouse

    • 3 ‘Good Companions and Fellow Boozers’: The Idiom of Good Fellowship
      (pp. 113-170)

      The French Renaissance writer François Rabelais claimed that recreational drinking was – for its participants at least – a positive sociocultural activity, one that conferred upon its partakers ‘pure honour and glory’ derived from the admiration of one’s ‘fellow-boozers’. In hisGargantua and Pantagruel, a chapter entitled ‘The Drunkards’ Conversation’ deployed a celebratory lexicon of alcohol consumption – ‘Let’s have a song, let’s have a drink, let’s sing a catch!’; ‘fill this up till it spills over’; ‘let’s knock it all back’ – in a tone that revels in liberal drinking and jovial companionship, and highlights that for Rabelais drink...

    • 4 ‘Joining and Fastening Together’: The Practice and Bonds of Good Fellowship
      (pp. 171-222)

      On a Wednesday evening in October 1604, in the Essex parish of Layer Marney, at around 6.00p.m. John Oultings entered a drinking establishment known locally as Turner’s alehouse. Oultings was in search of refreshment and accommodation, and in the course of his overnight stay witnessed some rather intriguing drinking antics. On his arrival he found John Lufkin, Thomas Marsh, and other unnamed men drinking together. It’s not entirely clear whether Oultings joined these men or watched them from across the room, but at around 9.00p.m. he witnessed John Lufkin call for ‘a huge great stone pot’ – ‘conteyneinge by his...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 223-230)

    Good fellowship – a practice centred on recreational drinking in alehouses – was a widespread, meaningful, and potent form of social bonding in early modern England. Yet it was not an activity in which participation was an uncontested right for all. Those who looked to the alehouse – as opposed to the inn or tavern – as the principal site for the practice of recreational sociability, did so in contravention of the laws of the land. In the years between 1550 and 1630 a national system of alehouse regulation was established on the principle that whilst alehouses were an essential...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-246)
  11. Index
    (pp. 247-254)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-257)