Document referenceQAV
TitleRecords of licensed victuallers : North Riding Quarter Sessions
DescriptionThis sub-fonds consists of the administrative records of the North Riding Quarter Sessions. It consists of records of licensed victuallers, including:

- beer retail licence applications [1851, 1859]

- Compensation Authority records [1905-1980]

- Licensing Committee records [1873-1965]
Catalogue statusCatalogued
Administrative historyThe Justices have long been concerned (and still are) with the licensing of alehouses An Act of 1503 (19 Henry VII cap. 12) authorised them to suppress disorderly alehouse, while under an Act of 1551 (5 & 6 Edward VI cap. 25) all alehouse or tipplinghouse keepers were to be licensed in open Sessions or by two Justices, and to enter into recognizances from time to time (and soon afterwards yearly) "as well as for and against the using of unlawful gains as also for the using and maintenance of good order and rule". These recognizances were to be "certified" at the next Quarter Sessions and there "to remain of record". An Act of 1729 (2 George II cap. 28) established the yearly petty divisional licensing sessions to be held within the first 20 days of September. The main provisions of licensing legislation were enlarged and consolidated by an Act of 1753 (26 George II cap. 31). This provided that the Clerk of the Peace was required to keep registers of alehouse. The system of recognizances was abolished by the Act of 1828 (9 George IV cap. 61); this reduced and consolidated all the licensing laws and was the basis of all legislation until 1910. Under this Act, and that of 1830 (11 George IV and 1 William IV cap. 64) the powers of the Justices were limited. The only type of licence under the 1828 Act was a full publican's licence granted at special brewster sessions in August and September, while the 1830 Act (Beerhouse Act) enabled any householders assessed for the poor rate to obtain from the Excise without a Justices' licence a licence to sell beer.

There were further Acts in 1834 (4 & 5 William IV cap. 85) and 1840 (3 & 4 Victoria cap. 61) to regulate abuses which had arisen following the 1830 Act. The Justices regained some of their control over licensing following the Wine and Beerhouse Act of 1869 (32 & 33 Victoria cap. 27) and the Licensing Act of 1872 (35 & 36 Victoria cap. 94). The Act of 1869 provided that no licence was to be granted or renewed by the Excise except on the production of a Justice's certificate; the Act of 1872 required a Justice's licences or certificate in all cases where intoxicating liquor was sold by retail with the exception of the sale of wine and spirits of the premises. There was to be a uniform method of application for licences. The grant of new licences was to be confirmed by conformation authorities, while the Justices could remove licences from one part of a district to another. The Licensing Act of 1904 (4 Edward VII cap.23) made further amendments particularly in respect to the "extinction" of licences and the grant of new ones. Its main provisions were to guard against existing licences being taken away without any compensation for reasons other than misconduct. This compensation was raised by the "trade" through a mutual insurance scheme and the establishment of a compensation fund for each county. The Licensing (Consolidation) Act of 1910 (10 Edward VII & 1 George V cap. 24) mainly reproduced existing legislation in a simplified form. There was further amending legislation in 1949 and 1964.

Unlike all the other administrative functions of the Justices in Quarter Sessions, they continued to be concerned with the licensing of inns and alehouses after 1889 and the creation of the County Councils. Licensing is carried out by the Justices in Petty Sessions, supervised by the County Licensing Committee.

The North Riding Justices concerned themselves with the suppression of disorderly houses and houses kept without licence (chiefly through the legal devices of presentment and indictment at the Court) as well as with licensing. "Brewster Sessions" or Special Sessions for licensing were held from at least 1717 and perhaps earlier, possibly in an attempt to establish a regular system of licensing sessions even before the 1728-9 Act. The dates of special licensing sessions in the North Riding were further regulated at Michaelmas Sessions 1828 following the Act of that year.

By the middle of the 19th century, the North Riding Justices were apparently dissatisfied with the operation of the existing licensing laws and in January 1869 they passed a resolution that "in the opinion of the Court the present system of licensing for the sales of beer, wines and spirituous liquor is bad and requires to be amended". A memorial was sent to the Home Secretary and a Committee of Justices appointed to wait upon him and to act in conjunction with the Justices of Lancashire and other counties for this object. A County Licensing Committee under the Licensing Act of 1872 was set up at Michaelmas Sessions 1874. This continued, becoming the Committee under the Licensing Act 1904 and the Licensing (Consolidation) Act 1910. Under these two Acts, the Committee was to act both as the Compensation Authority and the Confirming Authority.
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