My 4th great grandfather William Symons had his occupation in Helston, Cornwall described at least half a dozen times in christening records and marriage certificates of his children and his own death certificate as being a Wine/Spirits Merchant/Dealer (but never as an Inn Keeper). This was mostly from 1829 until his death (aged 55) in 1840, but also once in 1813 - in between he was usually recorded as being a Grocer (or Shop Keeper). His widow Alice (nee Rutter) appears, from the 1841 Census and the 1844 Pigot's Directory, to have continued to run the business at Coinage Hall Street for at least four years after his death.

I am picturing that he/they probably had a shop with a "liquor license" rather than him/them running a pub.

Were "liquor licenses" required in that place and time and, if so, are records likely to have survived, that I could use to try and locate his/their precise premise(s)?

  • William Symons and Alice Rutter are my 3rd Great grandparents. I would be interested to make contact.
    – Retrogirl
    Nov 19, 2017 at 4:09
  • @Retrogirl by all means please do - if you click on my username it will take you to my usercard where there is an email address that you can use to reach me.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 19, 2017 at 6:40

1 Answer 1


Yes, a licence was needed from 1552 onwards (see A brief history of licensing) for a good overview of the legalities involved as well as the kind of records that might survive(e.g. registers of licences, court records relating to the granting or refusal of licences, or breaches of licenses). The document's focus is Licensed Victuallers in London but the same sort of documentation and processes were in place across England and Wales.

Any records that do survive will be at Cornwall Record Office.

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