Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: ORDINARIES, OR PUBLIC HOUSES

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An ordinary was an Inn, or Public House for the accommodation of travelers, with lodgings and refreshments at established prices. The first ordinary in Hampton was opened at a very early period, by Robert Tuck, in accordance with the expressed wish of the town. His house was on the corner at the junction of the town roads, near Rand's hill, about forty rods northwest from the site of the first Meeting-houses. He continued to keep an ordinary there till he had occasion to visit England about the year 1654. It then became necessary for some other person to engage in the business. The town having made choice of, or at least, authorized Anthony Taylor to open an ordinary, though he lived on the border of the settlement, about two miles from the Meeting-house, the county court approved the choice and allowed him "to sell wine and strong water."

Goodman Tuck remained abroad about one year. After his return, he was invited by the town to reopen his ordinary for the accommodation of travelers. He consented, and soon after resumed business, having received, as he said, "great Incoridgement to sett it up againe." Indeed, he reopened his house immediately, without waiting for the sitting of the county court to procure a renewal of his former license, not doubting that the existing ordinary would soon be closed. But at the next term of the court, he found himself in trouble. His license was indeed renewed, but he was fined £5, for violating the law by engaging in the business before its renewal, and was allowed a year in which to pay the fine. At the next session of the General Court, in May, 1658, he petioned to have his fine remitted, as he had offended ignorantly, suppposing that his former license had not become void. The Court remitted £3 of the fine, leaving enough of it to be paid to teach him the danger of violating the law, even through ignorance.

Goodman Tuck continued to keep the ordinary till his death, which occurred in the autumn of 1664; when it was found difficult for his family to go on with the business, as his son who had come to America with him, had died several years before, and the grandson who was heir to the estate, was still in his minority. The house and land were soon after leased to Mr. Henry Deering, of Salisbury. On motion of Mr. John Sanborn, made in town meeting about a year after Tuck's death, the town admitted Mr. Deering as an inhabitant, and voted their approval of him as a suitable person to keep the ordinary.

By request of the town, the court had, several months before, licensed Mr. Deering "to sell wine and strong waters by retaile." His license was renewed for each of the two following years, but about six months after the second renewal, he was invited by the selectmen of Portsmouth to keep the ordinary for that town. The court approved, and granted him license. This seems to indicate that he was held in good repute.

At a town meeting held early in the fall of 1667, Mr. Anthony Stanyan was chosen to keep an ordinary, and to "make conuenientt pruision [provision] for the Courtt & Juries att ye next County Courtt to be held att Hampton, & to pruid [provide] for corters & strangers as the law directs." At this term of the court, Mr. Stanyan was approved, and licensed. His license was renewed the next year, but during his second year he failed to give entire satisfaction; and at the term of the court held at Salisbury in the spring of 1669, complaint was made, with the following result: "Anthony Stanian being prsented by ye grand Jurie for not haueing accomodation for horses, & other conveniences according to law: The prsentmt being proud [proved] ye Court judges yt hee shall pay fiue [five] shillings as a fine, & costs; & in case of non paymt of ye fine & costs; then to appear at Hampton Court next to answer for his non appearance at this prsent Court."

At the next term of the court, October 12, Henry Roby was allowed to keep an ordinary in the town; and the court licensed him "to sell beere & wine & strong waters by retaile & ye sd Roby doth binde himself in ye sum of 40 lb, on condition not to suffer any townsmen, men's childeren & servants to lie tipling in his house. This bond is owned by Hen: Roby in open court."

Mr. Roby kept the ordinary about ten years, his license being renewed from year to year. Still there was some dissatisfaction, for after about five years, he was presented at a court held in Hampton "for not keeping things convenient for enterteinjng strangers either for horse or man wch causeth strangers to complayne." "Upon ye sd Robie's prmiseng amendmt ye Court thinks good to discharge the prsentmt he paijng [paying] fees of ye Court."

At the court held at Salisbury in the spring of 1674, permission was given for opening another ordinary in the town, as is shown by the record: "John Souter of Hampton haueing had ye consent of selectmen to keep an ordinary, this court doth allow of him to keepe an house of entertajnmt for ye yeare ensuing; prvided yt hee sell no wine or strong waters to bee drunke in his house or yards or out houses, to any of ye Inhahitants of ye sd towne, either directly or indirectly." One year later, John Souter was allowed to continue his house of entertainment another year, "according to ye condicons mentioned in his first license."

At a court held at Hampton, October 8, 1678, the selectmen of Hampton having asked that Samuel Sherburne, "who hath bought ye living at Hampton, where old goodman Tuck lived & kept ordinary, for a house of entertainmt may have a license to keep a publique house of entertainmt for horse & man or travellers, [the court] Doe grant the same wth this prviso, that he attend all ye laws relating to Innkeepers, & wth speed may bee provided of an house there that may be sutable to entertaine ye Court & strangers."

Though ordinaries, or public houses, were required by law to be kept in every town, and though they were essential to the convenience and comfort of travelers, yet they were liable to abuse. We have no means of knowing what reputation the ordinaries kept in this town before the close of the seventeenth century, sustained. But in some of the ordinaries in the colony, certain practices were allowed, which by many persons were esteemed disreputable and disorderly. These practices attracted the attention of the magistrates and deputies, and were made a subject of legislation. The following act, passed in 1651, may serve as a specimen:

"Whereas it is observed that there are may Abuses and disorders by dancing in ordynaryes, whether mixt or unmixt, uppon marriage of some persons; This Court doth order, that henceforward there shall be no dancing uppon such occasion, or at other times, in ordinaries, uppon the paine or penaltie of five shillings for every person that shall so dance in ordinaries."

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