Premises licenced to sell alcohol were given names for a variety of reasons. Most inns, taverns and pubs had official names, but most beer houses did not, although they probably had popular local names.
Pub signs in Britain
English / Welsh Names
Most licenced premises in Wales originally had English names, but it is possible that they were known by Welsh names locally. There are several possible explanations for the general use of English names for Licenced Premises in Wales:
o Licenced premises had to be licenced, and the legal language was English.
o Travellers who did not speak Welsh and who needed to use licenced premises for refreshments and accommodation might have felt more confident about entering an inn with an English name.
Surveys of tithe and other early large scale maps which record field names have shown that almost the only English names which appear on them are pub or former or possible pub names.
A very few pubs appear to have had Welsh names originally e.g. Crwe y Lili (near New Quay).
There are also a number of pubs which are now known as Tafarn followed by a descriptive, place or personal name e.g. Tafarn Bach, Tafarn Maria, Tafarn y Bont, Tafarn y Gors, Tafarndy Inn. These might have been the original or local name for some of these pubs, but in some cases, they have now replaced an English name.
Other examples of pubs which now have recently been given Welsh names are Y Ffarmers (The Farmers), Y Llong (The Boat), Yr Hen Llew Du (The Old Black Lion) and Y Cwps (The Coopers).
It is interesting to note that very few inns or pubs are named after Welsh themes. There were no Red Dragon pubs in Ceredigion but there is a Druid Inn and a Harp Inn.
In a few rare cases there were pubs with the same name in the same place at the same time – this can be confirmed by checking published lists such as trade directories and the 1905 list of licenced premises.
In other cases, a pub might have closed and the name reused for a new one.
It is also possible that some of the entries in various original documents and lists are incorrect, or that they have given a different address to that on other sources (this especially occurs when a pub is on the corner of two streets).
‘Old’ and ‘New’
In a few cases, a pub name was prefaced with ‘New’ or ‘Old’, presumably to distinguish it from a nearby pub of the same name.
Inns called ‘New Inn’ are often found on main roads between towns where new facilities for travellers were created. In at least one place in Ceredigion, the name of the Inn also became the name for the place where it was built.
Pub names may be categorised under the following headings:
Animals and Birds
Some inns and pubs were named after the coat of arms of prominent landowners.
Pryse of Gogerddan
A Black Lion appeared on the coat arms of the Pryse family of Gogerddan who owned many thousands of acres of land in Ceredigion, mostly in the north. They owned land within the former walled area of Aberystwyth, and they thought they had rights over the governance of the town. There are several pubs in Ceredigion called the Gogerddan Arms. In the village of Llanbadarn Fawr, there are two pubs on opposite sides of the road, once called the Black Lion, the other called the Gogerddan Arms.
Webley Arms. This name is linked to the Pryse family of Gogerddan.
Powells of Nanteos
Talbot Inn (Aberystwyth and Tregaron)
Johnes of Hafod
Hafod Arms (at Devil’s Bridge, near Hafod)
The Earls of Lisburne,
originally the Vaughan family of Trawscoed (Crosswood).
Gwynne family of Aberaeron
Owned the Monachty Estate, near Aberaeron
ANIMALS AND BIRDS
o Cross Foxes From the coat of arms of the Watkin Wynn family of north Wales, especially Wynnstay.
o Black Horse
o White Horse From the arms of the House of Hanover (George I onwards). Some people wanted to show that they supported the new Royal Dynasty.
o Lions appear on many coats of arms and ‘Red Lion’ is one of the most common pub names in Britain.
o Black Lion
o Golden Lion
o Red Lion
o White Lion
The White Hart was the livery badge of Richard II. A law passed during his reign insisted that inns and public houses displayed a sign (or ‘arms’)
There are a few inns named after the place in which they are situated, but some are named after distant places. For example, in Cardigan there are the following: Emlyn (presumably after Newcastle Emlyn); Fishguard Arms; Newport Arms (possibly after Newport in Pembrokeshire as Fishguard is); Liverpool Arms.
Lloyd Jack Arms (Pubs in Aberaeron and Ystrad Aeron, named after a farm in Ystrad Aeron)
Bridge End Arms
Half Way Inn
Lime Kiln Arms
Crown and Anchor
Fish and Anchor
Hope and Anchor
Ship and Castle
Prince of Wales
Rose and Crown
Bunch of Grapes
Coach and Horses
Ivy Bush (an ancient sign for public houses)
Square and Compass
Names starting with "Three" are often based on the arms of a London Livery company or trade guild:
Three Horseshoes (and at least one example of the ‘Three Horse Shoe’)
(The Worshipful Company of Farriers)
Three Tuns (The Brewers and the Worshipful Company of Vintners)