Sources for research into Pub history

Many different sources have been used to build the pubs database but the absence of a pub on a list is not indicative of its absence in reality – not all lists were comprehensive. Those who were serving the tourist trade advertised regularly in Trade Directories and Guide Books but those who served only the local population did not need to spend money on publicity.
Systematic searches for some places (Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Llanon, Llandysul, Lampeter, New Quay) have been based on trade directories (mostly 1830s – 1920), census returns (1841-1911), and some guide books (1840-1960s) which contain adverts.
This page includes:
The 1905 list
County Licencing Committee, 1905-1938
County Council Clerk’s records
Trade directories
Other sources
List of premises which were provided with water by the Aberystwyth Improvement Commissioners, 1837-1865
Pratt’s List of Friendly Societies from 1846
List of all licences granted for the sale of intoxicating liquor in the hundred of Ilar, 1889-1924
Census returns
Topographical Directories
Guide Books
Legal papers
Estate papers
Lists of Ratepayers

The 1905 list
Return of public houses in each Petty Sessional Division of the county of Cardigan. January 1905. (Ceredigion Archives, Aberystwyth, TPS/1/1 printed).
This is probably a complete list of all premises licenced to sell alcohol in the county, compiled to aid the County Licencing Committee in deciding which pubs should be closed under the 1904 act. It consists of 305 entries, 14 of which are off-licences.

County Licencing Committee, 1905-1938 (Ceredigion Archives, Cards/QS/L/1)
This lists the pubs which the Licencing Committee refused renewal of licences, in order to reduce the number of public houses in the county under an Act of Parliament of 1904. Compensation was paid to the licensees and owners by the Inland Revenue, with funds raised by a levy on all licenced premises.
Only the first minute book of this committee survives: it covers the period 1905-1938. By 1938 (the last entry in the volume), nearly 100 pubs had been closed in this way - a third of those which were open in 1905.

County Council Clerk’s records
Bundle of correspondence relating to the licensing of public houses in Cardiganshire, 1910-1912, (Ceredigion Archives, CDC/SE/14/2)
This bundle is a fortuitous survival of the papers required by the committee for deciding which pubs should be closed under the 1904 Act, for a few pubs in the County in about 1911. It includes:
• Forms used to calculate the compensation to be paid to the licensee and owner of the premises, based on sales during the past few years;
• Reports of evidence presented to the committee including those who campaigned against renewal of licences, (the police, chapel elders, supporters of temperance campaigns), and those who wanted the licence to be renewed, (the licensee and members of their family, and legal representatives)
• Detailed descriptions of the premises (function and size of each room, including outbuildings, stables etc.)
• Invoices and Receipts for payments made by the Committee including payment of compensation and costs of publishing public notices about the meetings.
• Petitions signed by many people supporting the renewal of licences of two pubs.
• Printed letter from the Licensed Victuallers’ Defence League of England and Wales to the Clerk of the Compensation Authority expressing concern about ‘The Extinction of Licenses’
This bundle includes papers for the following pubs:
• Blue Bell Inn, Llandysul
• Carpenter’s Arms, Ffynonsaer, Tregroes
• Cilgwyn Arms, Llandysul
• Cross Roads, Henllan / Llandyfriog
• Crown and Anchor, Tregaron
• Gwernant Arms, Rhydlewis
• Ivy Bush, Cardigan
• New Market Tavern, Market St Aberystwyth
• Old Crown Inn, Tregaron,
• Pritchard Arms, Cardigan
• Red Lion Inn, Ffosyffin
• Trewern Arms, Aberporth
• Railway Refreshment room, Lampeter

Trade directories
These can be very useful, but they often include only pubs in the main towns.

Local newspapers include many references to public houses. Many of them are available online (to 1919) at Welsh Newspapers Online. Many of the references are to court cases, involving drunkenness, selling alcohol to a drunken person and pub brawls, but they also contain some lists of the pubs granted licences, but often only where the list is short.


Nanteos Rentals (in National Library of Wales)
Nanteos owned many plots of land in Aberystwyth on which buildings had been constructed. The list of rentals paid is almost complete for 1772-1854. It includes a few malthouses and un-named public houses, but it also includes a few named pubs as well as the Talbot Inn which was their most valuable property in the town at £120 a year (most pubs were paying £5 to £50 p.a.)

List of premises which were provided with water by the Aberystwyth Improvement Commissioners, 1837-1865 (Ceredigion Archives)
Many public houses brewed their own beer and this became an issue when piped water was first supplied to the town from 1835. In 1837, excise officers were asked to provide the Aberystwyth Improvement Commissioners (who installed the water supply) with the quantity of ale and beer brewed by inn keepers and licenced victuallers in the town so the Commissioners could regulate the amount of rents to be paid for the supply of water.
see also Orders and Proceedings of the Commissioners of the Aberystwyth Improvements and Water Works, NLW , ABR, B2(a), 14th November 1837

Pratt’s List.
Friendly Societies often met in public houses (unless they were tee-total).
John Tidd Pratt was appointed to compile a Registry of Friendly Societies, from 1846. The Original List in the National Archives, London, has manuscript additions. At least 73 of over 200 known Friendly Societies in Ceredigion met in pubs and inns.

List of all licences granted for the sale of intoxicating liquor in the hundred of Ilar, 1889-1924 (Ceredigion Archives, TPS/LLI/1/7).
This lists licences granted each year, for each premises in the hundred; the name and address of the owner; the name of the licensee; and if the licence was transferred, the date of the transfer and the name of the person to whom it was transferred, and any offences of which the licensee was convicted. This is one of the very few volumes of this sort to survive. Each Hundred (group of parishes) must have had several volumes of this sort and they would provide very detailed records of changes of ownership and licensees. Another volume of this sort exists for Llandysul (Ceredigion Archives)

Census returns
These were taken every 10 years from 1801, but only those from 1841 list the names and occupations of all the people in a particular pub on the night of the census. Parts of the 1861 census are missing. Pressure from non-conformists and tee-totalers meant that some people did not necessarily record their main occupation as pub landlord or brewer.

Topographical Directories
These provided travellers with information about essential services required by them when travelling throughout Britain. They sometimes listed inns, but in many towns there were only one or two, so it wasn’t essential to name them.

Guide Books
These were produced mostly for tourists. They date back to the late 18th century and often list the main inns in each town, but not public houses. Some include adverts for hotels and inns.

Legal papers
These might include details of court cases concerning the selling of alcohol outside opening hours; drunkenness, fights etc. but most of this information would have been published in newspapers.

Estate papers
These might include information on ownership of pubs etc. and leases to landlords.