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Cheshire Record Office

Was your ancestor a 16th century Macclesfield Aleseller?

Members may be aware of the annual licensing courts held at the local magistrate courts to re-licence various types of premises that are allowed to sell alcohol. This procedure has been a part of the local scene for hundreds of years but if a recommendation of a recent Parliamentary Select Committee is adopted, the control of such licences will pass to the local authority.

The Public Record Office in London holds a collection of Aleseller Recognizances (licences) covering the period 1581 to 1638. (PRO reference CHES 38/35). The collection consists of one large box of parchment rolls of widely varying sizes, some rolls listing the Recognizances for a Hundred of the County, amounting to several towns and villages and dozens of alesellers, others showing an individual village or person. The rolls cover the following periods:

Bundle No. No.of membranes Period
1 9 1581 to 1609
2 100 1586 to 1598
3 17 1590 to 1593
4 87 1601 to 1603
5 88 1605 to 1606
6 7 1612
7 3 1613
8 19 1634 to 1638

All of the seven Cheshire hundreds are listed, with many of the villages in each hundred shown in at least one roll. I have made a note of as many locations as possible and will be depositing the details in the society's library and at Cheshire Record Office. If any member requires further information I will be pleased to supply it.

I have partially transcribed the 1587 returns from Macclefield and the names are shown below. The list consists of the applicant and two persons acting as sureties. The whole process gives the impression of a private club, with justices of the peace applying for licences, licensees acting as sureties for other licensees, and sureties standing for other licensees. Even the town gaoler is in the act! All the applicants and sureties are from Macclesfield except for Homfredus Clerke, who lived at Butley.

The licence given by magistrates was meant to strictly control the selling of ale and the conduct of the licensed premises. The aleseller had to ensure that he did not "use or suffer to be used in his house or groundes any unlawfull game or games prohibited by any lawe or Statute of this Realme nor kepe or supporte any offender or offenders there wyth meat drynke or Lodgynge nor receve any stollen goodes or chattels nor lodge support or mayntene any suspecte psn or psns notoriously knowen and deputed for suche nor use or suffer to be used any mysorders or lyke rules wthin his said house or groundes nor at any tyme or tymes hereaftr brew make or kepe in his said house or grounde any maner of ale beare or brayotte but suche only do he his wieff and famylye shall sell for five pence the lawful gallon without any deceit neither shall lodge any vacabonde or roges or suche lyke people". Times haven't changed all that much since those days!!

Public Record Office reference CHES 38/35 membrane 95

Recognizances of Alesellers
in Macclesfield Hundred

made before Justices of the Peace
dated Eliz. vicesimo nono (1587)

Name Occupation Sureties
Johes Bateman yoman Johes Andrewe blacksmith & Johes Blagge husbandman
Johes Andrewe blacksmith Johes Bateman Aldermanus Edwardus Cherye Taylor
Johes Knight glov Johes Bancrofte husbandman Rogerus Knight glover
Johes Warde yoman Johes Sommer Alderman George Norburye Sherman
Edwardus Cherye gaoler Rogus Hodgekinson yoman Johes Andrewe blacksmith
Johes Jepson husbandman Johes Bancrofte husbandman Hugo Oldfeld husbandman
Johes Bancrofte husbandman Georgius Shrigley woollen draper Johes Jepson husbndmn
Brymine Hardyne glasyer Georgius Shrigley woollen draper Hugo Booth yoman
Georgme Button victualler Edwardus Stubbes taylior Georgius Norburye Sherman
Hugo Oldfeld husbandman Hugo Booth yoman Johes Andrewe blacksmith
Hugo Booth yoman Johes Sommer Alderman Hugo Oldfeld husbandman
XXofer Gardener victualler Edwardus Worth Johes Sommer Aldermen
Willmus Dabye husbandman Laurenc Shore draper Brymine Hardyne glasyer
Aloicia Neshed vidua Thoma Marler yoman Edwardus Browster merser
Jonnia Leighe spinster Rogerus Hodgekinson yoman Johannes Hull yoman
Thomas Bodes victualler Homfridus Clerke de Butley husbandsman

The above material is Crown Copyright and is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.


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