Views of the Drunkard in Victorian England

Ideas about the drunkard fueled political and moral debates about the extent of liquor controls.

By Dr. Thora Hands
Professor of the History of Alcohol and Drug Use
City of Glasgow College


This contains four parts that consider the way that Victorian alcohol consumers were imagined and represented in political discourse. The chapters draw upon the rich, qualitative and quantitative data found in the various parliamentary enquiries on alcohol that took place in the second half of the nineteenth century. At these enquiries, expert witnesses offered testimonies and opinions on the causes and consequences of alcohol consumption, often revealing the fears and prejudices that surrounded issues of drunkenness. Yet the witnesses also described the many different types of drinking behaviour that ranged across social class, gender, occupation, ethnicity and regional location.

Part 1: The Spectre of the Drunkard


This chapter considers the complexities of the ‘drink question’ in the nineteenth century with an overview of the political responses to the issues of alcohol sale and consumption which resulted in stricter licensing laws later in the century. It then examines the impact this legislation had on alcohol producers and retailers who formed local and national trade defense organisations. One of the ways to promote and protect business interests was through the publication of weekly or monthly trade journals. The main purpose of these journals was to harness interest and support in trade defense activities and to promote and advertise local and national businesses. The chapter explores the ways in which the drink trade endeavoured to ‘reinvent’ their business as a respectable and vital part of British society.

The issue of drunkenness cast a long shadow over the Victorian period and effectively masked ideas about the social benefits or pleasures to be gained from alcohol consumption. Ideas about the drunkard fuelled political and moral debates about the extent of liquor controls in Britain and drunkenness was the bane of the drink trade; leading to political organisation and the formation of trade defence leagues later in the period. As ideas about the causes and extent of drunkenness changed, so too did the proposed solutions and in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the parliamentary enquiries came thick and fast as the drink question topped political agendas.

This chapter provides an overview of the political responses to the issues of drunkenness in the Victorian period. The common enemy of both the state and the drink trade was the drunkard—a figure that emerged from public fears and moral concern about the drinking culture of the urban working classes which was constantly on public show—spilling onto the streets of industrial cities and towns, threatening public order and obstructing social and moral progress. By the late nineteenth century, the drunkard was believed to dwell not only on city streets, prisons and workhouses but also in asylums and hospitals. Although thought to exist mainly among the labouring population, the drunkard did not respect other social boundaries and breached gender, region, age, religion and ethnicity. The drunkard was viewed as a social pest and a danger to civilised and progressive society but perhaps most notably, the drunkard posed a very real threat to the majority of moderate drinkers because the political measures taken to thwart intemperance affected everyone. Towards the end of the century, as the grip of tighter licensing laws took hold, the drink trade made efforts to legitimise their existence as a vital and respectable part of British society.

The Legislative Jigsaw

1899 map showing number of public houses in a district of central London Cornell University Library, Wikimedia Commons

The 1899 Report of the Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws contained a summary of the various parliamentary commissions on alcohol held during the nineteenth century.1 The summary report was commissioned by Lord Peel (1829–1912) who chaired the enquiry for most of its duration from 1897 to 1899. David Fahey notes that Peel’s appointment was mainly due to his reputation for impartiality but during the course of the enquiry, for some unknown reason, he underwent ‘a drastic conversion to temperance principles.’2 Peel’s conversion split the committee who then produced two reports that differed over their recommendations for reducing the numbers of public houses and granting compensation for loss of licenses. By the end of the nineteenth century, the drink question must have seemed like a legislative jigsaw puzzle composed of a succession of ill-fitting political strategies. Peel perhaps regarded it as his task to make a decisive impact upon the confusion of liquor licensing and in order to do so, he enlisted the skills of Mr R. A. Smith, an archaeologist at the British Museum. Exactly why he chose an archaeologist for this job is unclear. However, Smith’s task was to review the various parliamentary enquiries on alcohol sale, licensing and intemperance which spanned the course of the century.

Smith’s survey began in 1817 with the Select committee on the State of Metropolitan Police and the Licensing of Victuallers and ended in 1888 with the Select Committee on Sunday Closing Acts. During that time, there were 28 parliamentary enquiries into the issues surrounding alcohol sale and consumption in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.3 Each major enquiry was subjected to a meticulous analysis, which formed part of a concise overview of the political process relating to alcohol throughout most of the nineteenth century. The report showed that by the end of the century, intemperance remained a pressing political issue despite numerous enquiries and legislative attempts to control the drink trade and limit alcohol consumption. Yet Peel did not believe that this marked any kind of failure in the political process. On the contrary, he believed that Smith’s report highlighted the important work done by parliamentary enquires

It is commonly asserted that such enquiries never result in anything. Anyone at all familiar with the liquor laws and their history, who will glance at these pages, will see how wide of the truth these assertions are; even from the point of view of those who regard immediate legislation as the only test, and forget the work done, sometimes constructive, sometimes beneficially destructive, in the formation and education of opinion.4

Peel had faith in the political process and the summary report was perhaps intended as a testament to the complexity and thoroughness of the parliamentary investigations into the issues that surrounded the sale and consumption of alcohol. From a historical perspective, Smith’s report is not only useful in providing a concise chronological summary of the main parliamentary enquiries but also as a means of identifying and situating the issues that surrounded the drink question and the various solutions proposed over the course of the century (see Appendix for the full table of enquiries).

The report began in 1818 when it was felt that the major brewers held a monopoly of tied (brewery owned) public houses in England and Wales and as a consequence, the public were forced to buy poor quality, over-priced beer and spirits. The solution was The 1830 Beer Act which was intended to weaken the position of the major brewers, discourage spirit drinking and promote the sale and consumption of better quality beer. However, this was a tall order considering the tempting and plentiful supply of cheap beer and spirits available to the burgeoning working classes within industrial towns and cities. The failure of the Beer Act to tackle intemperance was a constant theme during The 1834 Select Committee on Intoxication Among the Labouring Classes. It was believed that working-class drunkenness was the result of ingrained and problematic drinking customs; this belief essentially placed excessive drinking as a central feature of working-class life. The Beer Act was thought to have exacerbated drunkenness because it led to the proliferation of pubs and cheaper drinks. Therefore, the solutions proposed by the 1834 Committee were to limit access to alcohol by reducing pub numbers, regulating licensing and promoting alternative drinks such as tea and coffee. These were fairly radical recommendations for the time as they ran counter to laissez-faire principles and the rights of ‘free men’ to drink whatever and whenever they chose. However, the recommendations were, in Peel’s opinion at least, the result of a thorough investigation of the drink problem, which he believed some of the later committees had failed to achieve. The parliamentary committees of the 1850s and 1860s had to deal with different aspects of the drink question and if their investigations and recommendations appeared weak to Peel, it was perhaps because they were in a sense dealing with a new set of problems that came in the wake of The 1830 Beer Act.

By mid-century, it was no longer a case of blaming drunkenness on the customs of the working classes or on the practices of brewers. Instead, drunkenness was explicitly linked to increases in poverty, crime and disorder among the working classes. Industrialisation and urbanisation had created new drinking cultures, and the Beer Act was instrumental in this process. It was believed that since the 1830s, there were more pubs of poorer quality and more ‘bad characters’ drinking than ever before.5 The Beer Act had forged a distinction between beerhouses and pubs selling beer and spirits, which in turn fuelled competition to sell even more cheap spirits and beer to working-class populations. The solutions proposed were to tighten and simplify the licensing system and to also promote counter attractions for the working classes to steer them away from drunkenness and point them towards the sober pastimes offered by rational recreation.

The mid-century climate of moral improvement was evident in the 1850s and 1860s parliamentary commissions that examined the licensing system. By this time, the temperance movement was at its peak and drunkenness was encased within a moral framework but this was a framework still supported by laissez-faire ideology which favoured freedom of commerce. In effect, people had the absolute right to sell and consume alcohol but getting drunk was viewed as an individual moral failing. The type of alcohol consumed by the industrial working classes was also a cause of concern and spirit drinking in particular was singled out as a pernicious cause of intemperance. Therefore, one of the aims of The 1860 Wine and Refreshment Houses Act was to promote the sale and consumption of wine, which was not only less intoxicating than spirits but was also believed to promote more ‘civilised’ drinking habits.

However, by the 1870s drunkenness among the urban working classes was thought to prevail and it was no longer just a moral failing or a cause of crime and poverty but it was also believed to cause physical and mental illness.6 With the weight of this added problem, the drink question sank beneath the buoyancy of laissez faire. At a political level there was a pressing need to reform the licensing system, rein in the power of the drink trade and ‘rescue’ the working classes from the moral and physical ravages of intemperance. As Harrison notes, The 1872 Licensing Act may have marked a minor victory for the temperance movement but it did not erase the issue of intemperance, which carried on regardless until the tighter licensing restrictions brought in during the First World War.7 However, the parliamentary enquiries after 1872 were no longer constrained to the same extent by laissez faire—the state had already taken its first major step towards tighter control of alcohol sale and consumption. The main question driving the parliamentary enquiries after 1872 was the extent to which those controls should impinge upon the rights to sell and consume alcohol.

By the time that Peel chaired the 1897 commission, there was a vast array of proposed reforms to the licensing system ranging across a spectrum of direct state control of the alcohol trade to stepping up local powers to control licensing. As James Nicholls notes, the sheer number of proposed schemes was staggering but it was indicative of the general push towards restricting the trade in alcohol.8 The drunkard had not exactly disappeared but was instead reimagined as the undesirable and often detestable product of a morally questionable profit-driven industry. Therefore, increasingly, the drink trade fell under the spotlight of public and political scrutiny for its culpability in creating the social problems associated with drunkenness. This was evident in another parliamentary enquiry held at the end of the century. In 1895 The Departmental Committee on Habitual Offenders (Scotland) dealt extensively with issues related to drunkenness in towns and cities across Scotland. Police statistics showed higher levels of drink-related crime in Scotland as compared to England and one of the committee’s tasks was to investigate the causes of drink-related crime. There was the suggestion that policing tactics varied, and that in England, the lower number of arrests could be due to more lax procedures for dealing with drunkenness.9 However some witnesses pointed the finger of blame towards publicans who continued to supply alcohol to drunken people

There are some publicans—perhaps we can hardly say a majority or minority—who are very conscientious but there are others that are not so. There is no doubt that publicans know drunkards who go in and get drunk week after week. They are known to the police, to their neighbours, and to the publicans to be drunkards and yet they are supplied in these houses till they are drunk.10

Throughout that enquiry, Scottish publicans constantly came under scrutiny as a potential source of drink-related crime and public disorder. Scotland seemed to have a more widespread problem with drunkenness and the drink trade was held to account. It therefore became necessary for the trade to mount a defence against further political and legislative ‘attacks’ and promote its business as both vital and respectable. Above all it had to distance itself from the drunkard.

The Problems of Promoting a ‘Happiness Inducing Business’

In the late Victorian period, Scottish alcohol producers and retailers formed local and national trade defence organisations. One of the ways to promote and protect business interests was through the publication of weekly or monthly trade journals. In Scotland three of the prominent trade journals were The Scottish Wine, Beer and Spirits Trades Review , The Victualing Trades Review and The National Guardian , all of which circulated from around the 1880s onwards. The main purpose of these journals was to harness interest and support in trade defence activities and to promote and advertise local and national businesses. The journals also reported on national drink issues such as parliamentary enquiries on alcohol, legislation and temperance campaigning. What really stands out from the journals is the absolute conviction that the drink trade was unfairly targeted because it was a legitimate and respectable business which served the public and generated substantial revenue for the nation. There was however no escaping the fact that it was a business that dealt in the somewhat controversial realm of intoxication. An article on ‘why people drink’ in The National Guardian in 1913 described the act of consuming alcohol as ‘a happiness inducing business’ and this in essence captures the way the drink trade aimed to be perceived both internally and externally.11

One of the themes that arose constantly within the journals was the allegedly ‘ludicrous’ and ‘fanatical’ standpoint of the temperance movement, particularly the teetotal faction. Articles that reported on temperance meetings or rallies did so with a mercilessly scathing and hostile tone. An article on the Scottish temperance societies in The National Guardian in 1904 launched an attack on the perceived failings of the temperance movement. After sixty years of campaigning, drunkenness prevailed and it was felt that the movement had achieved little more than to ‘denounce the publican and pass the drunkard by.’12 The 1902 Licensing Act had, of course, ramped up the restrictive nature of alcohol sale and control. Most importantly, the act put the onus on publicans and retailers to control the sale of drink and stem drunkenness within their establishments. It was felt that this singled out publicans as the purveyors of social evils

Outside of fanaticism, every-one knows that licenses in the hands of respectable men, who respect the law and are respected by it, are legitimate and necessary, and their holding a respectable and necessary vocation.13

The counter-argument to the teetotal view was that the sale of drink was a legitimate and necessary vocation and a respectable one at that. The trade journals were therefore driven to promote and advertise the positive side of the liquor trade. An article in The Scottish Wine, Beer and Spirits Trades Review in 1895 reported on the annual festival of the Glasgow Wine, Beer and Spirits Trades Employees Benevolent Association. The main speech, given by Mr George MacLauchlan, the Vice President of the Association, focused on the ‘slander of temperance extremists’

A Trade the capital embarked in which exceeds 2 million Sterling; a Trade contributing to the revenue of the country to an extent of 40 million; a Trade funding employment for about 2 million of our population cannot be ignored and which commands imperative public recognition. What other trade in Glasgow contributes to any such extent? None … It is with sobriety, education and intelligence that out Trade prospers and can only prosper. The curse of our Trade is the drunkard, the friend – the sober (applause). I admit there are men so constituted that they cannot, without serious consequences, taste alcohol at all. These are the small and numerically trifling exception, although it is the example furnished by them that is seized upon by our opponents as warranting an attack upon our Trade thereby falsifying alike logic and reason.14

MacLauchlan gave a rousing speech which delivered a strong argument and raised some key questions: if the local and national economy benefitted from the sale of alcohol, why the lack of gratitude? And if the majority of consumers drank in a moderate and respectable fashion, why attribute drunkenness to the liquor trade? Surely that was evidence enough that the trade served the public in a responsible way. Yet the one damning thing that made all that irrelevant was the very thing that kept the liquor trade afloat: alcohol. There simply was no way to guarantee that an intoxicant that came in so many varieties and strengths could always be consumed in a moderate and respectable fashion—the spectre of the drunkard was proof of that.

The Drunkard’s Progress (1846) by Nathaniel Currier warns that moderate drinking leads to total disaster step-by-step / Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

It was also difficult for ‘respectable’ members of the liquor trade to avoid the shadow cast by the disreputable side of the business. Therefore, many articles in the trade journals, particularly after 1900, dealt with the issues of unlicensed shebeens and bogus drinking clubs. One article in The Victualing Trades Review in 1904 offered an expose on a bogus club in Glasgow’s East End. It claimed that there were around 200 bogus drinking clubs operating in Glasgow and that most sold cheap ‘raw’ whisky and poor quality beer. The clubs opened after the pubs closed on Saturdays and Sundays and remained open until the small hours of the morning. The article reported on a club known as The Literary and Social Institution in which it claimed there was:

… no literature, and the social intercourse of the members lay principally in discussions as to what would win the ‘back-end’ handicap at Newmarket, forthcoming prize fights and the like. If heavy drinking counts as social intercourse, then the club really fulfilled to the hilt one of its missions for I have seen more liquor put away here in a couple of hours than would be sold over the bar in a small public house in a day.15

As a consequence of increasingly restrictive licensing and forced reductions in pub numbers, the trade knew that in order to survive, it had to be seen to operate in a respectable manner. It was therefore important to differentiate and distance themselves from disreputable vendors and drunken customers. Another article in The National Guardian in 1908 explored the issue of publicans and intemperance

The publican alone, among merchants, habitually refuses undesirable business and he necessarily regards his drunken customer with aversion. He does not wish such to enter his shop … respectable people will not frequent a bar patronized by the vicious and disorderly and in order to keep his respectable customers pleased and content, the proprietor discourages traffic with obnoxious characters.16

A well-run establishment serving respectable, moderate-drinking customers was the trade ideal and this was precisely the image that publicans and licensed victuallers endeavoured to cultivate and promote both publicly and within their own ranks. Still, there was no escaping the ‘threat’ of drunkenness posed by the substance they dealt in. So, it was also important that alcohol itself was regarded not as a dangerous intoxicant but rather as a benign social lubricant. The trade journals carried many articles that promoted the social side of drinking by reporting on different pubs, drinking occasions and drinking customs in different countries. A piece in The Victualing Trades Review from 1900 listed the ‘drinks of great men’ and included Otto von Bismarck the German Chancellor who, as a ‘staunch patriot’ was known to drink mainly German beer and German wine. Gladstone drank claret and port and used a mix of sherry and egg yolk as a ‘vocal lubricant’ before public speaking, and Balfour preferred port.17 The light-hearted tone of the piece did not disguise its intent to promote alcohol consumption as an intrinsic attribute found among ‘great men’. There were few teetotallers listed and much use was made of the term ‘moderate drinking’.

A constant theme throughout the years leading up to 1914 was the issue of why people consumed alcohol at all and it was vital that the trade devised reasons for drinking other than getting drunk. This was particularly the case in Scotland with the passing of The Temperance (Scotland) Act in 1913, which gave local voters the right to withhold licenses to sell alcohol in their districts. The looming threat of local veto meant that there had to be good reasons for drinking alcohol. An article in The National Guardian in 1913 written by ‘a medical man’ explored the psychological effects of alcohol

What the vast majority of persons who drink alcohol drink do it for is not because they like the taste of it, nor because they are thirsty, but for what is sometimes called its physiological effect, but what ought to be called its psychological effect—that is to say, in plain terms, because it makes them feel jolly. It raises their spirits. It confers happiness. It gives them a good conceit of themselves. Is it any wonder that it is so much valued by the English, who are so wanting in this useful sentiment? … if it is taken regularly and always with the same moderation, although the full euphoric effect is not produced, some effect is produced; and the regular imbiber of moderate doses of alcohol is so much better off than the abstainer that though he does not attain the hilarious exhilaration of his first dose, he yet reaches a placid contentment, a good natured geniality.18

It was important for the trade to identify and promote the positive aspects of alcohol consumption. These could be social uses in dining and conviviality or drinking healths and toasts. Or as this quote demonstrates, alcohol could have the psychological effect of ‘lifting the spirits’ or making people ‘feel jolly.’ However, the key to securing the continued fortunes of the trade in alcohol lay in the direction of moderate drinking. This was known to the trade and also to alcohol consumers, as demonstrated by the formation of The National Temperate Society in Manchester in 1907. The society was formed to ‘combat the uncalled for interference with the liberties of citizens who choose to indulge to a moderate extent in alcoholic liquors.’19 The Manchester Courier reported on the activities of the society, which by 1907 had 700 members who embarked on ‘missionary work’ in local pubs to try and induce customers to form branches

That class of the community known as ‘moderate drinkers’, men who after a day’s work enjoy an hour or two’s social intercourse on licensed premises, have discovered that their rights were being menaced, and in one part of Manchester have banded themselves together under the title of The National Temperate Society with the object of resisting any unreasonable interference with the liberty of pleasing themselves.20

In the shadow cast by the spectre of the drunkard, drink became a political issue and by the turn of the century, the principles of laissez faire no longer supported an industry that dealt in intoxication. Increased state control over alcohol sale and consumption impacted not only upon the livelihoods and reputation of the drink trade but also on alcohol consumers and as the quote above demonstrates, some were prepared to campaign for the freedom to drink. The members of the National Temperate Society argued that not all paths led to Rome—in other words, not every drinker was a drunkard. There were many reasons why people across Britain consumed alcohol and many different types of drinking behaviour, other than drunkenness.

Part 2: The Great Army of Drinkers


This investigates ideas about the ‘great army of drinkers’ that continued to drink alcohol despite moral pressure and political control of alcohol sale and consumption. One of the richest sources of information on alcohol consumers lies within the reports of parliamentary enquiries on alcohol held during the second half of the nineteenth century. During these enquiries, witnesses from across Britain gave detailed accounts of drinking within their towns, cities and districts. This provides insights into different types of drinking behaviour and also into the ways in which alcohol consumers were imagined and portrayed.

There can be no doubt that the great majority of those who purchase and consume liquor are not guilty of intoxication, nor are the places where it is sold by any means so universally the scenes of drunkenness and disorder as to call for their universal suppression on that ground alone. It does not seem therefore either just or expedient that the perfectly moderate and harmless purchase and use of liquor by the majority of persons should be prevented because there are some who abuse the purchase and use of it to their own hurt and that of others.221

The Licensing Acts of 1869 and 1872 marked a turning point in British alcohol history. Laissez-faire policies were to some extent set aside because a greater degree of state control was considered necessary to prevent drunkenness and public disorder. Yet as the quote above shows, it was the nature and extent of alcohol controls that fuelled political debates and parliamentary enquiries in the late nineteenth century. The quote comes from the report of The Select Committee on Intemperance, which was appointed in 1877 to review the effects of the restrictive measures imposed by the Licensing Acts. Although the committee heard evidence of drunkenness across towns and cities in Britain, it rejected calls from temperance campaigners for strict licensing restrictions or for outright prohibition. The committee believed there were no grounds for such extreme measures because the majority of people drank moderately. In an analysis of the political manoeuvres of temperance campaigners, James Nicholls states that ‘standing between radical teetotallers and the sober millennium was an enormous army of moderate drinkers for whom teetotal reclamation meant nothing.’22 In other words, moral suasion and legislative controls did little to deter the majority of people from consuming alcohol. A great army of drinkers was a force to be reckoned with—not only for temperance campaigners and politicians but also for the drink trade. In a political battle between government and commerce over alcohol control, consumers were not mere pawns of war. Instead, they were the agents of victory for either side. Therefore, gaining knowledge of this army of drinkers held enormous political value.

This chapter examines the efforts made at a political level to investigate the majority of drinkers in the late Victorian period. One of the richest sources of information on alcohol consumers lies within the reports of various parliamentary enquiries on alcohol held during the second half of the nineteenth century. During these enquiries, witnesses from across Britain gave detailed accounts of drinking within their towns, cities and districts. A close reading of the minutes of evidence reveals that alcohol consumers were imagined and represented in different ways at different times, often reflecting the changing social and cultural context of alcohol sale and consumption. The chapter draws upon evidence from four major parliamentary enquiries on alcohol in the latter half of the nineteenth century: The 1853 Select Committee on Public Houses (1853 enquiry), which was appointed to investigate the regulation of drinking establishments created in the wake of The 1830 Beer Act; The 1872 Select Committee on Habitual Drunkards (1872 enquiry) which examined the existing laws on the control of drunkenness; The 1877 Select Committee on Intemperance (1877 enquiry) which was appointed to investigate the causes and extent of intemperance across Britain and The 1897 Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing (1897 enquiry) which examined the laws relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol. Another important enquiry on alcohol was The 1890 Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits (1890 enquiry), which was appointed in the interests of public health to examine the system for the manufacture and sale of spirits.

These enquires provide rich sources of qualitative and quantitative information on alcohol consumers. This evidence must however be weighed against the political nature of the enquiries. The reports could to some extent be regarded as discourses of alcohol consumption, which provide a distorted ‘top-down’ account of alcohol consumers framed by political motives and moral concerns about intemperance. Yet it is important to consider that many committee members were themselves alcohol consumers and often the line of questioning reveals as much about their ideas as the evidence given by witnesses. A close reading of the minutes of evidence reveals insights into ideas about the majority of alcohol consumers—who they were, what they drank and where they drank and how ideas about moderate drinking and drunkenness changed over time. This chapter considers the extent to which these ideas about drinkers, drinks and drinking places shaped impressions of alcohol consumers.

‘Is There Anything Among the Working Classes Like a Moderate Drinker’?

Joseph Chamberlain / National Portrait Gallery (London), Wikimedia Commons

The parliamentary enquiries on alcohol in the last half of the nineteenth century largely focused on investigating issues of intemperance primarily but not exclusively among the working classes. During the 1877 enquiry, one of the committee members asked Joseph Chamberlain, then an MP for Birmingham ‘We hear a great deal about moderate drinkers; is there anything among the working classes like a moderate drinker; that is to say, is there anything as a rule in the way of a medium between a teetotaller and a man going utterly into drink?’23 In reply to the question, Chamberlain stated that in his opinion there were many cases of ‘occasional drunkards’ and that habitual drunkards were a small minority in any social class. Yet he went on to provide evidence from a study on Saturday night drinking in Birmingham conducted by The UK Alliance, a prominent temperance organisation. The study showed that on one Saturday night alone, 14,165 people came out of 35 pubs during the three hours of observation and that 838 of those were deemed drunk. Chamberlain argued that the study highlighted the weakness in police statistics which under-represented the extent of drunkenness in larger cities. He stated that the drunkenness observed on that Saturday night was 1500 times greater than the drunken arrests recorded on the same night.24 It was perhaps Chamberlain’s aim to present evidence of widespread drinking among the working classes and therefore it did not matter if the Saturday night pub goers in Birmingham were moderate drinkers or habitual drunkards. Nor did the fact that 14,165 people were drinking on a Saturday night yet only 838 were deemed drunk which meant that over 13,000 pub goers remained relatively sober. Temperance advocates recorded the numbers of what they believed to be drunk people leaving pubs. The committee cross-examined Chamberlain on the reliability of a study conducted by temperance campaigners who were unlikely to be impartial when classifying drunkenness. Just how they classified drunkenness is unclear but it is likely to have been along the lines of ‘falling down drunk’ and since most people leaving the pubs were not showing visible signs of falling-down drunkenness, it could have reasonably been argued that most drank moderately. Yet this appeared to be less important than the sheer numbers of drinkers.

The 1877 enquiry heard evidence from a range of witnesses from urban and rural regions of Britain who described different types of drinking and drunkenness. The Chief Constable of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Captain Samuel James Nicholls gave evidence of drinking patterns in the Newcastle area. Nicholls described the character of the Newcastle population as manufacturing and industrial—chiefly mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, coal mining and the chemical industries. He noted that although Newcastle was a thriving industrial city, it was also prone to frequent trade depressions. Nicholls described the pattern of working men’s drinking which centred on their working lives and hours of employment. He believed that drinking was more of a ‘nuisance’ at the weekend when men finished work at 1 p.m. on a Saturday then went to the pub and drank away their wages until closing time. The drinking continued on a Sunday evening and all-day Monday, as many men in Newcastle still observed the unofficial day-off work known as Saint Monday. Nicholls described how miners in the region around Newcastle would ‘come into the moor’ (which was a large section of common ground on the outskirts of Newcastle) on Saturdays for sporting events and then carry on to the local pubs in the evening. The miners would take part in rabbit coursing which Nicholls described as ‘a very great nuisance to the respectable community, on account of the disgusting language used by competitors and their backers.’25 Although Nicholls found the weekend leisure pursuits of Newcastle’s miners somewhat distasteful, he linked their drinking habits to their type of employment. These were men employed in heavy industries and although many of them drank heavily at weekends, Nicholls believed that drunkenness was a problem mainly confined to poorer sections of the working classes and that the ‘respectable classes’ were becoming more sober. It is not clear from his evidence whether Nicholls’ considered the miners to be ‘respectable’ but he did draw a distinction between heavy weekend drinking and the type of drunkenness that resulted in crime or public disorder.

The dichotomy thought to exist between the drinking habits of the ‘respectable’ and ‘rough’ working classes was also highlighted in the evidence given to the committee by a Preston magistrate Charles Roger Jackson. In the late nineteenth century, Preston was a manufacturing and mining town with a large Irish population. Jackson’s evidence of the drinking habits of the working-class population mirrored that of Nicholls in that he believed most men drank at the weekends. The key difference was that the mill workers did not observe Saint Monday and therefore most drinking took place on the half-day Saturday holiday and Sunday evening. Jackson presented evidence from the Preston Savings Bank which detailed the employment status of depositors to make the point that not all men’s wages were drunk away at the weekend. Most were mill workers, followed by plasterers, railwaymen, policemen, labourers, shopwomen, workwomen, milliners, book keepers, clerks, shopkeepers, tradesmen, farmers, gardeners, spinsters, widows and married women.26 When asked for the point in presenting this evidence, Jackson replied that it was to show that money was being saved and not spent on drink and that not all of the working classes were frittering their wages away on drink every week but that some, arguably the more ‘respectable’ sections, were either abstaining or drinking moderately.

The witness testimonies of the 1877 enquiry showed that drinking was often an integral part of working men’s lives, particularly in heavy industries, manufacturing and also in the armed services. The 1877 committee was keen to investigate the relationship that existed between working life and drinking habits in order to assess how the numbers of pubs and pub opening hours impacted upon the extent of intemperance. Some witnesses believed that working-class men drank away their wages at the weekend and that heavy drinking was the main reason for observing Saint Monday. However, there seemed to be a distinction drawn between heavy drinking and drunkenness and although both were considered problematic, some witnesses implied that the worst problems of drunkenness existed mainly among the lowest classes of society. In this sense, heavy weekend drinking and indeed drinking during working hours rested somewhere on a spectrum between moderate drinking and drunkenness. The witnesses seemed to acknowledge that heavy drinking was a part of working-class masculinity and therefore it was not viewed as particularly deviant or immoral—unless it led to or involved other ‘social evils’ such as gambling, domestic violence or prostitution. It appeared that some men drank heavily but still held down jobs and supported families. A sober industrial workforce may have been the moral and political ideal, but the 1877 enquiry was dealing with the realities of working-class life and it is clear that on a political level it was understood that working-class men’s drinking habits varied.

1877 – The London Mission House, New Broad Street, London

It seemed to be difficult to pin down one definition or type of drunkenness. One witness at the 1877 enquiry, John Matthias Weylland of the London City Mission, reported on his observations of working-class drinking from visiting pubs, gin palaces and dram shops in London and from speaking with barmen, barwomen and customers. Weylland had previously given evidence before the 1853 enquiry on his observations of pubs in and around the Marylebone area of London. For the purposes of the 1877 enquiry, he revisited these pubs and noted any changes. Weylland claimed that there was a marked increase in spirit drinking among men and women, which he believed caused a ‘great deal of drunkenness.’27 When asked by the committee to define drunkenness, Weylland replied that he considered a man to be drunk when he had lost his reason and was not capable of receiving instruction. He believed that there was still a great deal of drinking among what he termed the ‘roughs’ or the ‘drinking class’ of London but that most ‘other’ working-class people were moderate drinkers.28 Another witness, Major John Grieg who was the Chief Constable of Liverpool, was questioned about the extent of drunkenness in the city. He presented statistics which showed an overall increase in drunken arrests in the city from 11,439 in 1857 to 20,551 in 1876.29 However, there were fluctuations in the numbers of arrests during this period. When asked to account for these fluctuations Grieg pointed towards the maritime population of Liverpool

The floating population are, upon average, 20,000 seamen, increased by a west wind and decreased by an east wind. The docks are at our doors and the sailors come home, frequently with large arrears of pay to receive, which they spend thoughtlessly and most wickedly, I should say.30

Grieg argued that the west wind brought in more ships and sailors who had money to spend on leisure activities that mainly involved alcohol and prostitutes. The pubs, beer houses and brothels situated around the Liverpool docks area made their livelihoods from catering to the demands and desires of the maritime population. A west wind may have blown in more drunkenness but Grieg seemed aware that it was a transient and in some ways an inevitable consequence of Liverpool’s status as a major port. This perhaps required a more pragmatic approach to policing drunkenness. When cross-examined on the types of drunken arrests, Grieg was asked to explain the category of ‘semi-drunkenness’ which appeared in the police statistics. He defined ‘semi drunkenness’ as being drunk but not sufficiently drunk to be locked up and explained that in some cases, people were apprehended and taken to the station where they would either sober up en route and go home or they would sober up in the police station. In either case they would be released without charge. This practice was not confined to Liverpool alone and witnesses from other parts of Britain gave evidence of cases of ‘simple’ drunkenness that were not considered to be criminal and therefore not a matter for the police. Indeed, Grieg stated that any officer who was found to have locked up a person unnecessarily was dealt with ‘severely’.31 The Chief Constable of Birmingham, Major Edwin Bond went further and argued that legislation and over-policing of drunkenness could in fact worsen the problem

If instead of letting people have their natural refreshment in the way of their beer and their wine, we are constantly to be legislating upon the subject and damming it up into narrower limits, it will lead to very much worse troubles. I believe we should have secret drinking all round.32

Major Bond also believed that there was a difference between ‘quietly drunk’ and ‘drunk and disorderly’ and when asked what measures were taken by his constables to deal with a drunken man he stated that ‘we do not say anything to him if he does not say anything to anybody else.’33 Another witness at the 1877 enquiry, Superintendent George Turner of the London Constabulary was asked to tell the committee what he called ‘really drunk’ and Turner replied

There are so many degrees of drunkenness, that I can hardly define it; but if a man is staggering and he can go home, we let him go. I should say that man was drunk, but if he could walk straight and reasonable, I should say he was ‘influenced’ but not drunk.34

Turner was told reproachfully by the committee that he held ‘a very high standard of drunkenness.’35 However this kind of pragmatic approach to policing drunkenness perhaps saved police time and resources. The evidence from the police also highlights the difficulties that people had in pinning down one universal definition of drunkenness. There was a sense that ideas about drunkenness varied regionally and that different constabularies had their own methods for dealing with drunkards. It seemed important to allow men to go about their business if they were not deemed to be a public nuisance. In a sense, this seemed to be protecting the rights of the majority of men to go out and have a drink without fear of being locked up.

William Connor Magee / Peterborough Town Hall, Wikimedia Commons

This issue of police interference in drinking habits was, of course, part of the larger debate about the liberty to drink versus state control. Although the parliamentary committees were established primarily to investigate issues of intemperance, any legislation enacted would affect the majority of drinkers. It sometimes fell to committee members to represent the views of the majority of drinkers by cross-examining pro-temperance witnesses. One example of this was the question and answer exchange that occurred during the 1877 enquiry when the Reverend D Burns of The UK Alliance (a national temperance association) was questioned by the Bishop of Peterborough, William Magee, who held anti-temperance views.36 When asked by Magee if he would interfere with the liberty of a man to drink alcohol in his own house, Burns replied that he would not. Magee seemed dissatisfied with this response and prodded him further Magee

: You would not pass a law that he should only drink at certain hours in his own house?Burns

: No.Magee

: And you would not send a policeman to see whether he drank more than was good for him, or drank at improper hours?Burns

: No.Magee

: Why would you not do so; I presume the reason would be that you respect the liberty of the individual?Burns

: Yes I would.Magee

: You would prefer that he should be free in his own house than be sober?Burns

: I should prefer him being both.Magee

: Supposing that you could make or keep a man sober by sending a policeman in and preventing his drinking, you would not do so because that would be an interference with the liberty of the subject?Burns

: It would be utterly impractical to do so.Magee

: I am not asking whether it would be impracticable to do so, but would you do it?Burns

: I would not.Magee

: Therefore if the choice were between a man being drunk in his own house and being kept sober by a visit from a policeman, you would not send in your policeman to make him sober or keep him so; in other words being compelled to choose, in that case you would rather leave him free than force him to be sober; is that not so?Burns

: That would depend upon the circumstances. I do not think that you can lay down any broad principle to that effect. If the people of this country were so abusing this freedom of which your Lordship speaks, and they were systematically getting drunk in their own houses and thus destroying the State, I think measures of a very strong kind might be desirable; and even that interference with personal liberty might be desirable.Magee

: But there is no doubt that many persons do abuse their personal liberty at this moment by getting drunk; do you propose that all persons sober as well as drunken, shall be put under the restraint of a policeman, because of the conduct of these people in their own house?Burns

: Our Bill37 does not propose to do that.Magee

: But your Bill does propose to deprive sober people of their drink, because of the abuse of drunken persons; do you propose to carry that out or not?Burns

: We propose only to interfere as far as the law has the right to interfere.38

This exchange highlights the extent to which ideas about the freedom to drink were grounded in the division between public and private drinking. One consequence of the reduced pub opening hours imposed by The 1869 and 1872 Licensing Acts, was the increased popularity of working men’s clubs which were run by private members. These places were not regulated by the licensing acts and for this reason, private members clubs attracted the scorn of the drink trade and the wrath of temperance campaigners who viewed such establishments as stealing trade while promoting drunkenness among working men.39 Throughout the 1877 and 1897 enquiries, witnesses were asked for their opinions or experiences of working men’s clubs and whether they considered these to be genuine and beneficial or ‘bogus’ establishments that operated as unlicensed pubs. Views were mixed and some witnesses like Joseph Chamberlain argued that the working men’s clubs in Birmingham were respectably run places that provided refreshments for men who worked late hours.40 Others witnesses at the 1877 enquiry disagreed but the recommendations of the committee were that no change in the law regarding private clubs was deemed necessary.41

By 1897 the issue of working men’s clubs lingered on. Witnesses such as Sir John Bridge, a senior London magistrate, argued that bogus clubs were a source of much illicit drinking.42 However one of the committee members pointed out that the issue of private clubs was directed mainly at the working classes yet these clubs permeated the class system.43 One witness at the 1897 enquiry was Algernon Bourke who the manager of Whites Club in London’s West End. In the late nineteenth century, the London club scene was thriving and many gentlemen’s clubs situated around Pall Mall and St James’s were frequented by men in prominent positions such as the landed elites, politicians, businessmen and the intelligentsia. Bourke was asked if the London clubs generated substantial amounts of income from the sale of liquor. He replied that this was not the case and that clubs made most of their money from membership fees.44 He claimed that although there was a large amount of alcohol sold within clubs, the prices charged were moderate because clubs did not pay any excise duties or license fees. He was then asked for his opinions on licensing private clubs and replied that a license would be unfair to the men who used the London clubs ‘like a home’ because this would restrict the hours of sale of alcohol. Bourke stated that in theory, Whites could sell liquor all day and night but in practice this did not happen and instead the club usually closed between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. and any alcohol sold within these hours was by special arrangement only.45 He was also asked if ‘intoxication’ had increased or decreased in the West End of London (the word drunkenness was never used) and replied that in his opinion there was a great decrease in drinking among the upper classes.

At the Gentleman’s Club, by Pierre-Charles Comte

The issue of regulating private clubs was controversial because it was a further infringement upon the personal liberty of men to drink alcohol in private whenever they chose to do so. Working men’s clubs and gentlemen’s clubs were created through male alliances and as such they represented masculine spaces where men could escape from the public world to socialise and drink alcohol in private. In essence, all the men-only private clubs delivered the same social goals. Political and moral concerns about working-class drunkenness cast a shadow over the idea of working men’s clubs. Yet it was never suggested that any of the London clubs could ever be ‘bogus’ and merely operate as unlicensed pubs and gambling dens. Implicit in the evidence about working men’s and gentlemen’s clubs was the assumption that ‘genuine’ clubs fostered moderate and respectable drinking habits. In a highly patriarchal culture, all men—including working-class men, had the right to socialise and drink in private. Even when the Licensing Act of 1902 made it compulsory for private clubs to be registered with local licensing authorities, this did not bring men’s clubs into line with other licensed premises and therefore meant that to some extent, private drinking was still protected by law.

The issue of genuine and bogus private members clubs was one of many instances where the committee’s sought to investigate the differences between respectably run and disreputable drinking places. During the 1897 enquiry, Sir John Bridge, a senior London Magistrate was asked if he could single out the worst types of pubs and beer shops. Bridge replied that he could not attach drunkenness to any particular drinking place, either licensed or illicit. However, another London magistrate, Alfred de Rutzen, believed that certain types of pubs encouraged more drunkenness. To illustrate his point, he gave an example of a London pub which by its design encouraged anonymous and sometimes illicit drinking

I went down to see it and I saw this state of things, which rather astonished me. The particular bar or compartment in which this man had been served was shut off from the bar by high sides, and between the bar and the compartment was an erection of dark glass through which nobody could see, and the consequence was that the people who were being served in the compartment could not see over it, and the only way you could see under it was through a little opening which was exactly the height of a quart pot through which any drink might be handed out and the money taken. As a matter of fact, nobody could see any single person who was in the bar and therefore almost any offence might have been committed, such as serving children or serving a policeman, serving spirits to young people under 16, and almost every single offence of that sort could have been committed without any human being who was serving in the bar seeing anybody.46

Many late Victorian pubs were designed with compartments or separate bars that offered some degree of privacy for customers. For example, public bars sometimes contained compartments for the sale of liquor to be consumed off the premises and women sometimes drank in private closed-off bars.47 Gin palaces, gin shops, vaults and dram shops were designed with less seating to attract high turnovers of customers, who drank quickly and left. Some witnesses regarded the profusion of pubs in cities and towns not as forming an integral and ‘normal’ part of daily life but rather as providing an escape from it.

A common theme running through the various parliamentary enquiries was that the working classes and particularly the poor were driven to drink through poor housing, poverty and a generally miserable existence. In the 1877 enquiry, John Bremner, a Manchester magistrate stated that in his opinion, the greatest numbers of pubs in Manchester were situated in the poorest areas with the worst types of housing.48 Another witness at that enquiry, William Sproston Caine went further and argued that there was a direct link between the numbers of pubs and the death rates in certain areas of Liverpool.49 Caine was a Liberal MP and fervent pro-temperance campaigner who held radical views on prohibition. He presented a map to the committee detailing the numbers of pubs and death rates in certain areas. When cross-examined by a somewhat sceptical sounding committee member who pointed out that death rates in poor areas may be linked to wider socio-economic factors, Caine stuck to his guns and argued that drinking, and particularly the trade in drink, caused death among the working classes.50 The pro-temperance witnesses tended to give the most radical and in some cases, sensationalist accounts of the ‘evils’ of the drink trade. One witness, Alfred Eccles, a cotton mill owner from Salford, claimed that his village of White Coppice which in 1877 had no pubs or beer shops, was a prime example of the tragedies that could result from the trade in liquor. He stated that

It is a singular fact that the people who have sold liquor in our district have been particularly liable to being burnt to death, and to accidents upon the railway and to having their children drowned etc. We had one beer seller who had his little child drowned within twelve months of his brother, who also kept a beer shop, having his child burnt to death; another brother was run over on the railway while in a state of intoxication and killed on the spot, and another beer shop keeper in our district had his little child drowned. The other beer shopkeeper committed suicide after being unsuccessful in two previous attempts at self-destruction.51

Looking towards Great Hill in White Coppice, this view of Dean Black Brook clearly shows evidence of the area’s mining past / Photo by PopUpPirate, Wikimedia Commons

Given all this tragedy it was hardly surprising that White Coppice had no beer shops. Eccles held up his village as a model of temperance and sobriety but the committee seemed sceptical and asked if there was any shebeening (illegal drinking in unlicensed premises) in the village or if the locals went to nearby pubs in other villages. Eccles replied that there were no cases of shebeening and that he had ‘never seen anyone’ bring back beer from the nearest pub which was three quarters of a mile away.52 One committee member then asked what people drank with their supper if they had no beer available locally. Eccles replied that they drank tea, water or milk.53 He claimed that his village was a ‘moral place’ due to the absence of a pub and he could prove it because the local register of births showed no illegitimate conceptions. Yet the committee seemed to find it very difficult to believe that the people of White Coppice were entirely teetotal. Drinking table beer with dinner or supper was an integral part of the day for working-class people and there was a sense that the committee not only knew that but felt that working-class people were perhaps entitled to beer with their evening meal.

Other witnesses at the 1877 enquiry such as Professor Leoni Levi, a barrister and statistician, presented less moralistic evidence. Levi offered statistics to corroborate his theory that any increase in drunkenness was directly linked to an increase in trade which was a consequence of better wages among the working classes.54 In this sense, the drink trade followed the money or vice versa and the result was intemperance. Some witnesses, and not just the pro-temperance ones seemed to find it hard to accept that the working classes even the more prosperous ones, went to pubs and other drinking places for reasons other than escapism or that the results of drinking were anything less than drunkenness. There was little discussion of the ways in which people drank for enjoyment and pleasure or to socialise or conduct business because the focus was always on intemperance and excess rather than on ‘normal’ or everyday drinking. For this reason, it was easier for some to view the drink trade as a ‘great evil’ that put profits before health, morality or social order. Ideas about municipal control of pubs, disinterested management schemes and counter-attractions for the working classes all stemmed from the belief that alcohol was something that the drink trade could not sell responsibly and the working classes could not consume moderately. Yet witnesses also gave evidence of a spectrum of working-class drinking that ranged from moderate consumption to ‘falling down drunk’. Implicit in this type of evidence was the knowledge that not all working-class men were drunkards and that not all types of drinking were problematic and had to be policed. This highlights the larger debate that fuelled the drink question in the nineteenth century—that of the freedom to drink versus state control. Legislation that impacted upon men’s rights to drink alcohol in public and in private had to be considered carefully since it was not only working-class men who were affected. Although this debate extended across class lines it did not cross the gender divide. Victorian society was highly patriarchal and, as the next chapter shows, this was reflected in attitudes towards all women’s drinking behaviour, regardless of class status.

Part 3: The Secret Army of Drinkers

This continues the analysis of alcohol consumers but shifts the focus on to women drinkers. If men can be defined as a ‘great army’ of drinkers then women could be viewed as the ‘secret army’ whose drinking behaviour was often shrouded by the constraints of gender norms and values or encased in ideas about deviancy and immorality. The chapter considers the division between women’s public and private drinking and shows that women’s drinking behaviour challenged patriarchal control and the ideals of femininity.

Of every-one hundred women who are drunk, it is probable that a larger number would commit disorderly acts, being of a more excitable temperament, and also because women when they take to evil courses are often more shameless than men?55

There was another group of drinkers in Victorian Britain for whom temperance and teetotalism held little weight. If working-class men can be defined as the ‘great army’ of drinkers then women can be regarded as the secret army, although as the quote above demonstrates, some were more secret about their drinking habits than others. The 1877 Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance (1877 enquiry) investigated two main aspects of women’s drinking: one was middle-class drinking linked to licensed grocers and the other was working-class drinking linked to vice and crime. The division in attitudes between public and private drinking was significant. There were many facts and figures presented regarding criminal drunkenness among poor women because they often drank publicly on the city streets and in pubs. Yet the private-drinking habits of higher-class women buying alcohol from grocers remained more elusive and often the evidence presented amounted to little more than conjecture. The standpoint of the investigation was that all women were, by their very nature, more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than men and were therefore worse drunks than men.

In the 1877 enquiry, the Chief Constable of Sheffield, John Jackson, stated that drunken arrests among women had increased from 15.7% in 1847 to 24.3% in 1876.56 When asked to account for this increase he stated that there were a higher proportion of women working in factories in Sheffield and he believed these women were adopting men’s drinking habits.57 This idea of women ‘mirroring’ male behaviour was a common argument put forward by many witnesses and while it did not appear to excuse women’s drinking behaviour, it did locate it within the boundaries of male control. The idea that women simply mimicked men was perhaps easier to comprehend than the alternative of women actively consuming alcohol for their own purposes. Jackson argued that lower-class women more generally were more prone to drunkenness and he cited hawkers, peddlers, petty traders and factory workers as the worst drunken offenders.58 Some committee members and witnesses seemed to share the opinion that drunken women were more of a public nuisance than drunken men and were therefore more likely to be arrested. The minister for Liverpool Prison, Reverend James Nugent, stated that in 1876 there were 4212 male prisoners and 5098 female prisoners within the gaol.59 Moreover he stated that the majority of women were imprisoned for drink related crime and some were repeat offenders having been convicted fifty, sixty or seventy times.60 He believed that the prison was overcrowded with women of Irish descent who lived and worked in and around the Liverpool docks making their living through prostitution.61 Nugent described these women as ruthless in their pursuit of sailors who would provide them with shelter, clothing and drink.62 The increase in drunken arrests among women in cities and large manufacturing towns was attributed mainly to prostitution and petty crime and often the Irish were singled out as the worst offenders.

John Bremner, a Manchester magistrate, presented statistics relating to the numbers of arrests for drunkenness among the Irish population. He stated that in 1876, the total number of drunken arrests among the Irish was 2466 and that 789 of these were women.63 Bremner did not provide any comparative figures for previous years but did state that in 1876 the total number of drunken arrests for all women was 2743.64 This meant that the overwhelming majority of drunken arrests were for non-Irish women. Yet this fact evaded scrutiny and instead the figures for drunken arrests among Irish women were set within the context of Bremner’s views on the changing drinking habits of the Manchester working classes. He believed that a recent influx of Irish immigrants from Liverpool to Manchester to work in the cotton mills had encouraged the popularity and spread of dram shops and dancing saloons. Bremner argued that the pubs in Manchester had ‘degenerated’ from being houses of refreshment which served food and drink to ‘simple dram shops’ which encouraged female drunkenness.65

Many witnesses expressed the belief that women were worse drunks than men because they were more of a nuisance and more shameful. Yet it was not only witnesses who held this belief. One member of the 1877 committee, the Bishop of Carlisle commented ‘I suppose the effect of liquor upon a woman is greater than upon a man; that they are more likely to be disorderly than a man would be on the same amount of liquor.’66 This idea that women simply could not ‘hold their drink’ in the same way as men were put to witnesses such as general practitioners, police, prison officials and asylum doctors. Mr William Smith, Governor of Ripon Prison in Yorkshire, stated that in his experience women were prone to more frequent habits of intoxication than men.67 He cited the example of a female prisoner who had been repeatedly convicted for drunkenness and had spent several years in and out of prison. The woman was released from prison and given a home and employment on the condition that she sign the pledge and give up drinking. The woman worked for a few weeks then she got drunk and left her job, claiming that she could not live on charity.68 In the 1872 Select Committee on Habitual Drunkards (1872 enquiry), Dr Alexander Peddie, an Edinburgh physician noted for his professional interest in treating inebriety, recounted his experience of treating women with dipsomania

I have had the most solemn assertions that not a drop of liquor has crossed their lips for many hours, when they could not have walked across the floor; that not a drop of liquor was within their power; when I would find bottles of liquor wrapped up in stockings and other articles of clothing … and on a late occasion, in the case of a lady, after all means had failed in discovering where the drink came from, on making a strict personal examination, found a bottle of brandy concealed in the armpit, hung around the neck with an elastic cord so that she might help herself as she pleased. Next morning seeing that the drunkenness still continued, and that something more was to be got at, there was actually found a bottle of brandy tied in some way, round the loins, and placed between her thighs.69

The Peddie monument, Warriston Cemetery / Photo by Stephencdickson, Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps it was Peddie’s intention to provide a shocking tale of drinking that transgressed the boundaries of ‘decent’ and ‘respectable’ femininity but the idea of alcohol as a temptation that some women simply could not resist was one of the reasons why the 1877 enquiry constantly returned to the question of women and licensed grocers. The 1860 Wine and Refreshment Houses Act had led to the expansion of the off-license trade and consequently the numbers of licensed grocers selling wine, beer and spirits had increased. The 1860 Act marked Gladstone’s attempts as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to overhaul the system of duties on alcohol. This involved lowering the duties on imported wine and allowing alcohol to be sold for consumption off the premises in a wider range of shops and restaurants. These measures were hoped to encourage the British population to consume wine instead of beer and spirits, which in turn was intended to promote more ‘civilised’ and moderate drinking habits.70 Allowing the sale of small quantities of wine and spirits in shops and restaurants meant that alcohol could be bought from places other than pubs. Consequently, women who did not or could not visit pubs were able to buy alcohol from an increased number of retail outlets.

Many witnesses were asked about an increase in drunkenness among women that could be directly attributed to the expansion of licensed grocers. The general consensus among witnesses seemed to be that it was mainly middle-class women who purchased alcohol from grocers and that women of the lower classes were more likely to buy alcohol from pubs. Obtaining alcohol from licensed grocers was regarded as perfectly acceptable if women were buying wine and spirits for household use in dining, cooking and entertaining. However, there were concerns that some women were purchasing alcohol for their own personal use and in the 1877 enquiry, the Rector of Wrexham, Reverend David Howell stated that he knew of several instances where respectable women were led to drinking through licensed grocers. He felt that licensed grocers made it easier for women to buy liquor because they could purchase it along with their groceries, thus escaping shame and detection by their husbands.71 Captain James Nicholls, the Chief Constable of Newcastle believed that women ‘of a higher station’ were inclined to purchase alcohol from grocers because they would be too ashamed to go to public houses and that grocer’s licenses were directly responsible for an increase in drinking among middle and upper class women. However, when asked if he had any evidence to support his views, he stated that it was just a general opinion.72 Witnesses often resorted to vague conjecture when asked about the links between women’s drinking and licensed grocers. However, some of the evidence given during The 1878 Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission provided more persuasive accounts of women’s drinking. The evidence from this enquiry was widely reported in the Scottish and national newspapers, providing sensationalist accounts of women’s drinking. One witness, Duncan McLaren an Edinburgh MP, read an extract from the medical journal The Lancet that reported on a meeting of the Brewster Sessions in West Riding. Brewster sessions were the annual meetings of licensing justices to deal with the granting, renewal, and transfer of licenses to sell intoxicating liquor. The report stated that there was evidence to suggest that women who visited licensed grocers to purchase groceries were tempted to procure a bottle of wine or spirits for their own private consumption.73 During 1877 The Lancet ran a series of articles relating to licensed grocers because a group of physicians, surgeons and general practitioners had signed a petition calling for parliament to look at the issue of secret drinking. In a statement published in The Lancet the group of 920 doctors claimed that

We believe women, servants and children of respectable households, who could not, or would not, procure intoxicating drinks at public houses are encouraged to purchase and use these liquors by the opportunity offered when visiting grocers shops for other purposes. Female domestic servants are often enabled to obtain bottles of spirits, wine and beer at a small cost on credit, or as ‘commission’ on the household bills. This trade is wholly removed from police supervision and is a direct incentive to ‘secret drinking’ – a practice more injurious to the health and morals and social prosperity of the community than ordinary trade in intoxicating liquors.74

The ‘evil of secret drinking’ that the doctors outlined in their petition went beyond a purely medical matter because it was embroiled with ideas about respectable femininity. One witness from the Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission, Reverend William Turner of the Edinburgh City Mission, read a statement from one of his informers who worked for the Mission. The informer was acquainted with the daughter of a ‘respectable’ married woman who claimed that her mother was ‘given to drink’ and had purchased alcohol ‘hundreds of times’ from Edinburgh grocers that concealed the purchases by falsifying the customer accounts.75 The statement continued that father of the family, described as ‘a hardworking and worthy man’ had checked the grocer’s account books to discover that the records had been falsified to conceal his wife’s purchases of whisky. The conclusion was that the grocer and the ‘foolish’ wife had colluded in this deceit.76 The main dilemma facing the parliamentary enquiries and the doctors who signed the petition was deciding if licensed grocers actively encouraged, either by their very existence or in collusion with women, the practice of secret domestic drinking. This type of drinking not only challenged feminine ideals but more importantly, it defied patriarchal authority—in other words ‘worthy’ and ‘hard working’ men were being duped into paying for liquor by unscrupulous grocers and ‘foolish’ wives.

Yet not all the witnesses agreed that licensed grocers actively encouraged women to drink and some still felt that men largely kept women’s drinking in check. One newspaper that reported on the Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission cited the testimony of Provost King of Rutherglen, a textile manufacturer who employed 250 women in his factory. King stated that he had no knowledge of wives drinking ‘without the consent’ of their husbands and therefore in this regard licensed grocers did not present any kind of temptation.77 However it seemed that not all women sought permission from their husbands to drink. The real issue with licensed grocers was that they enabled women to drink ‘in secret’ beyond the male gaze. In contrast, working-class women drank publicly under the glare of moral scrutiny.

This builds a picture of female drinking that ranged across social classes and occurred in both public and private settings. Although many witnesses believed alcohol presented a temptation to women, it could be argued that it also presented a means of resisting patriarchal authority. If the great army of male drinkers stood strong against temperance and sobriety, then perhaps the women’s secret army made their own stand against patriarchy and feminine ideals through the consumption of alcohol. This fits with de Certeau’s ideas of a consumer grid of resistance

Many everyday practices (talking, reading, moving about, shopping, cooking etc.) are tactical in character. And so are, more generally, many ‘ways of operating’: victories of the ‘weak’ over the ‘strong’ (whether the strength be that of powerful people or the violence of things or of an imposed order, etc.).78

Public drunkenness and secret drinking were constructed as deviant and immoral precisely because they were defiant acts that involved the agency of women as alcohol consumers. This agency held power and therefore it was difficult to grasp the concept that women could actively choose to buy and consume alcohol for their own purposes of intoxication. It was easier to locate women’s drinking within the framework of patriarchy and argue that women were simply mimicking male behaviour, or shift the blame on to licensed grocers for supplying women with alcohol. The idea that women were worse drunks than men cast them as the weaker sex in terms of alcohol consumption and intoxication more broadly. Put simply, it was believed that men could handle their drink and women could not and to some extent this dictated the social rules of public and private drinking. Therefore the women who chose to drink alcohol, in spite of the social rules, were in some ways resisting the status quo.

Part 4: Testing the ‘Character of Drink’

Wellcome Collection, Creative Commons

This examines the issues that surrounded the types of alcoholic drinks sold to the public. It was widely believed that the types and qualities of alcohol sold and consumed within pubs and other drinking places influenced drinking behaviour. The quality of beer, wine and spirits varied enormously and some brewers and publicans used adulterants to enhance the quality, taste or strength of the liquor sold. Strong alcoholic drinks and those adulterated with other intoxicants were believed to have an adverse effect on the behaviour of alcohol consumers.

There were many references made throughout the parliamentary enquiries to the type of alcohol sold and consumed within pubs and other drinking places because different types and qualities of alcohol were believed to influence drinking behaviour. The quality of beer, wine and spirits varied enormously and some brewers and publicans used adulterants to enhance the quality, taste or strength of the liquor sold.79 Joseph Chamberlain read a statement from a Birmingham chemical analyst who had been commissioned to examine the beer sold in certain ‘low class’ public houses

The samples are all very dark in colour, of a harsh disagreeable taste, and unusually bitter. The character of the bitter, which clung persistently to the palate, is altogether unlike the pleasant, transient, aromatic flavour of the hop, of which I believe all, or nearly all, the samples to be entirely innocent. I drank some of each sample and found them all heady in their effects and seemed to dispose of diarrhoea. I have however been unable, by either chemical or other tests to prove the presence of coccolus indicus.80

Chamberlain stated that in his opinion, many of the problems of drunkenness could be eradicated by changing ‘the character of the drink which the population consumes.’81 Moreover, he believed that the poorer working classes were so used to consuming poor quality beer that they offered ‘Bass’s best beer’ they would refuse it because the strength of the beer sold in lower-class pubs matched that of spirits such as brandy.82 Chamberlain and other witnesses believed that the problems of intemperance extended beyond the types of drinkers or amounts of alcohol consumed to encompass the type and quality of alcohol that was sold to the population.

In the late nineteenth century alcohol was produced on an industrial scale in Britain and those involved in the drink trade benefitted from advances in science and technology that increased productivity and maximised profits. Although this meant wider choice and cheaper prices for alcohol consumers, there were concerns at a political level regarding the quality of alcohol that was sold to the public. Chamberlain stated that the Birmingham analyst strongly suspected the presence of the drug cocculus indicus (an intoxicant added to boost the strength of weak beer) and that in his opinion, certain lower-class pubs were selling beer that was ‘unduly intoxicating and unwholesome and quite different from genuine ales.83 As Burns notes there was a ‘general climate of adulteration’ in the late nineteenth century and it was common practice for manufacturers and publicans to add a range of additives to food and drink to either improve the taste or to extract more profit.84 Some of these additives were legal and fairly benign in nature but others were potentially toxic and posed a risk to health. The main reasons that manufacturers and publicans had for adulterating alcohol were to improve the taste, appearance and strength of watered down or poor quality beer and spirits or to enhance the taste of ‘silent’ or ‘foreign’ spirits that were sold to the public as ‘genuine’ spirits. Although the 1872 Licensing Act made it an offence to keep or sell adulterated liquor, the practice was still widespread because detection and prosecution were difficult and some publicans were intent on boosting profits with the help of water and chemical additives.85

The adulteration of beer by publicans was one concern that featured throughout the parliamentary enquiries. However there was often more attention given to adulterated spirits because of the higher levels of alcohol and intoxication. The 1890 Select Committee on British and Foreign spirits looked at the issue of adulteration and heard evidence from witnesses such as Inland Revenue officials and chemical analysts. The enquiry was concerned with investigating three key issues regarding the production, sale and consumption of spirits in Britain: First was the bonding of spirits for maturity and whether this practice should be made compulsory to ensure the sale of better quality spirits. Second was the blending of spirits produced by patent and pot still distillation derived from different countries of origin and whether this practice was in the best interests of alcohol consumers. There were questions about the possible health implications of blending spirits and also over the labelling of blended spirits that were composed of different substances. The third issue under investigation was the consumption of intoxicants such as ether, methylated spirits and ‘new’ spirits that had not been matured and what impact these substances had on public health. The enquiry was conducted with a scientific rigour and chemical analysts were summoned to provide evidence on the distillation process and chemical composition of spirits. The subject of fusel oil featured prominently throughout the enquiry. Fusel oil was a generic name given to a range of chemical constituents sometimes referred to as ‘impurities’ which were produced by spirit distillation and included amyl-alcohol and other oily compounds. Fusel oil was believed to be present in different amounts and compositions in many alcoholic drinks. It was the amount of fusel oil present that mattered because it was believed to affect the quality and taste of spirits and also the health and behaviour of consumers.

The enquiry heard evidence from two analytical chemists employed by the Inland Revenue and the Board of Customs. These men tested various samples of spirits obtained from distilleries and pubs in order to assess the extent to which methods of distillation and the process of blending and bonding spirits affected the quality, purity, strength and taste of spirits sold to the public. Dr Bell, Principal Chemist of the Inland Revenue Laboratory obtained 51 samples of spirits from working-class pubs situated in the ‘lowest parts’ of towns in England, Ireland and Scotland. Bell subjected the samples to a chemical analysis and a taste test, which he concluded was ‘satisfactory’.86 He reported that the spirits sold in public houses were highly rectified (distilled) and of good quality and strength which was indicative of patent still distillation methods. This produced cheap, commercially viable spirits such as gin and whisky but also produced a ‘silent spirit’ or ‘German spirit’87 that could be mixed with other alcoholic drinks such as brandy, whisky and sherry to produce ‘fake’ spirits. Bell argued that from his perspective as a chemist cheap patent still spirits and ‘fake’ spirits were of a sufficient quality, strength and purity to pose no hazard to public health. However the Committee were not satisfied with his conclusions and pressed him to state for the record if he believed that ‘fake’ French brandy, Scotch whisky or West Indian rum were better than the genuine articles.88 Bell stated that the preference for ‘fake’ or ‘real’ spirits was purely a matter of consumer taste and that in his opinion the public preferred less highly flavoured spirits produced by patent still production and by blending cheap ‘silent’ spirit with more expensive ‘real’ spirits.89 Bell gave the impression that he did not think the public were being duped either in terms of taste or quality by cheap, mass produced blended spirits. However, the persistent line of questioning from the Committee suggested that they thought otherwise.

At one point the committee presented Bell with a glass of Scotch and a glass of Irish whisky purchased from the House of Commons bar. Bell was asked to test the whiskies in order to establish their point of origin—i.e. patent or pot still distillation and to test the quality and purity of the drinks. In 1890 James Buchanan & Co. had the contract to sell blended Scotch whisky in the Houses of Parliament so presumably the glass of Scotch was Buchanan’s blended whisky and the glass of Irish whisky was most likely a single malt whisky produced by traditional pot still methods. This whisky test was seemingly conducted in order to aid the committee’s deliberations over the correct labelling of spirits and to establish if labels should state the country of origin. However, the line of questioning leading up to the whisky test constantly pressed Bell for his opinions on which types of alcohol were ‘better’—British or foreign, patent or pot still, blended or single malt whiskies, bonded or ‘new’ spirits.90 There was a sense that the committee members were approaching the subject not only from a political standpoint but also as alcohol consumers. They were either reluctant to accept Bell’s view that there was little difference in the quality of single malt or blended whisky or perhaps they just wanted to know exactly what they were drinking.

Chief Chemist Walter L. Howell in the New Orleans Customs Laboratory

The second analytical chemist that gave evidence to the 1890 enquiry was Mr Cobden Samuel, the principal analyst of the Customs Laboratory. Cobden Samuel conducted experiments on himself using samples of spirits containing different levels of fusel oils in order to investigate the physical effects of drinking spirits produced by different distillation and blending methods. Over a period of days he regularly consumed quantities of ‘genuine’ 15-year-old brandy to which he added commercial fusel oil. He reported no ill effects and stated that his appetite and urine were normal. He then consumed quantities of ‘pure’ spirits with little or no fusel oil or ‘impurities’ present and reported that after a few days he began to feel unwell and suffered frequent headaches, tightness in the chest and acute attacks of indigestion.91 He, therefore, concluded that ‘plain’ or ‘silent’ spirits were in fact injurious to health in their pure form and that the presence of ‘impurities’ or fusels oil in spirits was beneficial not only in terms of health but also in terms of the quality and taste of spirits. Cobden Samuel essentially refuted Bell’s evidence by arguing that ‘genuine’ spirits containing fusel oil and impurities produced by traditional methods, were better for health than ‘fake’ or ‘silent’ spirits produced by commercial patent still methods. Cobden Samuel attributed the headaches he experienced after drinking silent spirits to the ‘maddening’ effects of new spirits which were believed to produce erratic, volatile and sometimes violent behaviour.92

The links between alcohol consumption and behaviour was a common theme throughout the parliamentary enquiries. Many witnesses believed that the cheap alcohol sold and consumed in lower working class areas was either adulterated beer or mass produced poor quality spirits and the effects of consumption were drunken and sometimes violent or criminal behaviour. The committees often returned to questions about certain types of alcohol inducing more or less drunkenness and whether there were any medical benefits to be gained from moderate drinking. At the 1877 enquiry, Thomas Lauder Brunton, a doctor and lecturer in Materia Medica at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London was asked if he believed that a glass of wine or spirits taken in moderation might be useful in the case of impaired digestion. He agreed that it was very useful and that: ‘a man working hard all day has an exhausted stomach that is slow to digest food and a glass of wine speeds digestion’.93 Brunton also stated that alcohol was a useful medicine in treating fevers and as an aid to insomnia. When asked about the types of alcohol used by doctors Brunton stated that he prescribed only ‘good wine’ or ‘pure wine’ because these left no bad effects afterwards.94 Another doctor that gave evidence was Sir William Gull who was consulting physician at Guy’s Hospital in London. Gull was asked if he would recommend that men working outdoors in hard physical labour should consume small amounts of ‘nutritious light beer.’ and replied

I think some stomachs have more power to consume common food, while others want food more highly prepared. I do not think at present, from our knowledge, we should be prepared to say that everybody could go without beer. It is a food of a light kind.95

Although Gull believed that working-class labourers benefitted from consuming moderate amounts of beer, he disagreed with one committee member’s suggestion that intellectual work also required alcohol and stated that in his opinion moderate consumption harmed the nervous systems and brains of the higher classes.96 Like the 1890 enquiry, the line of questioning often veered from impartiality and exposed the concerns of committee members as alcohol consumers. It is reasonable to assume that most committee members drank alcohol for various reasons—either to relax and socialise, for health reasons or to combat fatigue and ‘stimulate’ intellectual output. It is also likely that aside from the fervent pro-temperance supporters, many witnesses were regular drinkers and their opinions on their own drinking habits and those of others were coloured by their experiences as alcohol consumers. In this sense, professionalism and impartiality often gave way to the personal opinions and anecdotal evidence of alcohol consumers.


  1. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Volume XI: Précis of Minutes of Evidence: Appendix 5: Summary reports from Royal, Select and Departmental Committees on the liquor traffic in Great Britain and Ireland.2.
  2. Fahey D. 1971. ‘Temperance and the Liberal Party—Lord Peel’s Report, 1899’: Journal of British Studies: Volume 10:2: p. 135.3.
  3. HCPP. 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Volume XI: Précis of Minutes of Evidence: Appendix 5.4.
  4. HCPP. 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Volume XI: Précis of Minutes of Evidence: Appendix 5.5.
  5. HCPP. 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Volume XI: Précis of Minutes of Evidence: Appendix 5.6.
  6. HCPP. 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Volume XI: Précis of Minutes of Evidence: Appendix 5.7.
  7. Harrison B. 1971. Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England 18151872: London: Faber & Faber: p. 12.8.
  8. Nicholls J. 2011. The Politics of Alcohol: A History of the Drink Question in England: Manchester: Manchester University Press: pp. 130–131.9.
  9. HCCP. 1897. The Departmental Commission on Habitual Offenders (Scotland): p. vi.10.
  10. HCCP. 1897. The Departmental Commission on Habitual Offenders (Scotland): Testimony of Father John McMillan: p. 74.11.
  11. ‘Why Do People Take Alcohol?’ The National Guardian: January 1913.12.
  12. ‘Why Do People Take Alcohol?’ The National Guardian: January 1913.13.
  13. ‘Why Do People Take Alcohol?’ The National Guardian: January 1913.14.
  14. ‘Wine, Spirits and Beer Trades Employees Festival’: The Scottish Wine, Spirit and Beer Trades Review: 1895.15.
  15. ‘Sunday in a Drinking Club: The Unlicensed Pub’: The Victualing Trades Review: 1904.16.
  16. ‘Publicans and Intemperance’: The National Guardian: April 1908.17.
  17. ‘The Drinks of Great Men’: The Victualing Trades Review: 1900.18.
  18. ‘Drunkenness and the Physiological Effect of Alcohol’: The National Guardian: January 1913.19.
  19. ‘Moderate Drinkers: To Combat Teetotal Intolerance’: The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser: 11 April 1907.20.
  20. ‘Moderate Drinkers: To Combat Teetotal Intolerance’: The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser: 11 April 1907.
  21. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). 1878–1879: c. 113: 4th Report of The Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance.2.
  22. Nicholls J. 2011. The Politics of Alcohol: A History of the Drink Question in England: Manchester: Manchester University Press: p. 112.3.
  23. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance.4.
  24. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Joseph Chamberlain.5.
  25. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Captain Nicholls.6.
  26. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Captain Nicholls.7.
  27. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Matthias Weylland.8.
  28. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Evidence of John Matthias Weylland.9.
  29. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Major John James Grieg, Chief Constable of Liverpool.10.
  30. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: Evidence of Major John James Grieg.11.
  31. HCPP. 1977. c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Major John James Grieg.12.
  32. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Major Edwin Bond, Chief Constable of Birmingham.13.
  33. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Major Edwin Bond, Chief Constable of Birmingham.14.
  34. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Superintendent George Turner, London Constabulary.15.
  35. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Evidence of Superintendent George Turner.16.
  36. Brief biography of William Magee: https://en​.wikisource​.org/wiki/Magee,_William_Connor_​%28DNB00%29: accessed 10/3/2016.17.
  37. The bill that the Reverend referred to was The Permissive Bill submitted to parliament by Sir Wilfred Lawson in 1869. The Bill proposed that local ratepayers should be given power to decide on numbers of licensed premises within their districts.18.
  38. HCPP. 1878: No. 338: Fourth Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend D. Burns.19.
  39. Gutzke D. 1989. Protecting the Pub: Brewers and Publicans Against Temperance: New Hampshire: The Boydell Press: pp. 192–194.20.
  40. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Joseph Chamberlain.21.
  41. HCPP. 1899: c. 9076: Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Summary Report.22.
  42. HCPP. 1897: c. 8355: First Report of the Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Evidence of Sir John Bridge.23.
  43. HCCP. 1897: c. 8355: Evidence of Sir John Bridge.24.
  44. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Algernon Bourke.25.
  45. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Algernon Bourke.26.
  46. HCPP. 1897: c. 8355: First Report of the Royal Commission on Liquor Licensing Laws: Evidence of Albert de Rutzen.27.
  47. Girourard M. 1990. Victorian Pubs. Unites States: Yale University Press: pp. 2–7.28.
  48. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Alexander Bremner.29.
  49. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of William Sproston Caine.30.
  50. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: Evidence of William Sproston Caine.31.
  51. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Alfred Eccles.32.
  52. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: Evidence of Alfred Eccles.33.
  53. HCPP. 1877: c. 171.34.
  54. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Professor Leone Levi.
  55. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). 1877: c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Question from Lord Aberdaire to John Jackson, Chief Constable of Sheffield.2.
  56. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Jackson, Chief Constable of Sheffield.3.
  57. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Jackson, Chief Constable of Sheffield.4.
  58. HCPP. 1877: c. 171: First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Jackson, Chief Constable of Sheffield.5.
  59. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend James Nugent.6.
  60. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend James Nugent.7.
  61. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend James Nugent.8.
  62. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Evidence of Reverend James Nugent.9.
  63. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of John Alexander Bremner.10.
  64. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Evidence of John Alexander Bremner.11.
  65. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Evidence of John Alexander Bremner.12.
  66. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend James Nugent: Question from the Bishop of Carlisle to Reverend Nugent.13.
  67. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Mr William Smith.14.
  68. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Evidence of Mr William Smith.15.
  69. HCPP. 1872: c. 242: Select Committee on Habitual Drunkards: Evidence of Dr Alexander Peddie.16.
  70. Briggs A. 1985. Wine for Sale: Victoria Wine and the Liquor Trade 18601914: Chicago: University of Chicago Press: pp. 9–18.17.
  71. HCPP. 1877: c. 418: Third Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Reverend David Howell.18.
  72. HCPP. 1877: c. 271: Second Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Captain James Nicholls.19.
  73. HCPP. 1878: c. 1941: Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission: Evidence of Duncan McLaren MP.20.
  74. ‘The Grocers License’, The Lancet: Volume 110:2810: 7 July 1877: pp. 27–18.21.
  75. HCPP. 1878: c. 1941: Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission: Evidence of Reverend William Turner.22.
  76. HCPP. 1878: c. 1941: Grocers Licenses (Scotland) Commission: Evidence of Reverend William Turner.23.
  77. ‘Royal Commission on Licensed Grocers’: The Glasgow Herald: 25 October 1877.24.
  78. de Certeau M. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life: Berkeley: University of California Press: p. xix.
  79. Burns E. 1995. Bad Whisky: Glasgow: Balvag Books: p. 10.2.
  80. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP). c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Joseph Chamberlain.3.
  81. Ibid.4.
  82. Ibid.5.
  83. HCPP. c. 171: First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance: Evidence of Joseph Chamberlain.6.
  84. Burns: p. 13.7.
  85. Ibid.: p. 32.8.
  86. HCPP. c. 316: First Report of the Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits: Evidence of Dr Bell.9.
  87. Patent still spirit was often imported from abroad and the name ‘German spirit’ was applied to any imported spirit although most were imported from Russia.10.
  88. HCPP. c. 316: First Report of the Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits: Evidence of Dr Bell.11.
  89. Ibid.12.
  90. HCPP. c. 316: First Report of the Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits: Evidence of Dr Bell.13.
  91. HCPP. c. 316: First Report of the Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits: Evidence of Mr Cobden Samuel.14.
  92. HCPP. c. 316: First Report of the Select Committee on British and Foreign Spirits: Evidence of Mr Cobden Samuel.15.
  93. HCPP. c. 418: Third report of the Select Committee on Intemperance: Evidence of Thomas Lauder Brunton.16.
  94. Ibid.17.
  95. HCPP. c. 418: Third report of the Select Committee on Intemperance: Evidence of Sir William Gull.18.
  96. Ibid.

From Drinking in Victorian and Edwardian Britian, by Thora Hands (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.



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