Law and Disorder

License and Libel in Bottesford Two Hundred Years Ago

The Red Lion c. 1860
1822 License

We are grateful to Mr. Nigel Beacroft for allowing us to copy these documents relating to the Red Lion, Bottesford in the early nineteenth century.

The license, (below) was given to Mr Brian Beacroft, landlord of the Red Lion, in 1962, by decendants of Richard Cooper, the licensee named in 1822.

As today, Mr. Cooper is prohibited from adulterating or diluting his wares or selling false measure

The following terms of the license indicate the kind of activities which the licensing magistrates felt it necessary to guard against in the village pubs of the day.The ‘lower orders’, journeymen and apprentices, labourers and servants, were prohinited from gaming and gambling. Bull, bear and badger baiting and cock fighting were banned. The landlord was not to harbour ‘men and women of notoriously bad fame’ or ‘dissolute girls and boys’.

Drinking was not allowed on Sundays during church services.

A bill for spirits fom Oliver’s of Bingham reveals that at the time gin cost 10 shillings a gallonĀ  and rum 14 shillings.

The availability of cheap alcohol caused problems then, as now, and may perhaps account for the unseemly behaviour revealed by another recently discovered document. In the archive of the ecclesiatical court of the Archdeaconry of Leicester there is a record of a claim for defamation brought by Elizabeth Brewitt, wife of George Brewitt, labourer of Bottesford, against Levi Robinson, farmer of the parish. Elizabeth alleged that Levi exclaimed “Damn you for an old bitch and a whore!” in the public street in Bottesford on Friday 11th August 1797. Levi admitted he was wrong and offered a guinea in compensation, but Elizabeth rejected his apology and claimed 20 guineas. This provoked a petition in support of Levi by ten men, ‘principal inhabitants’, who declared Elizabeth “to be a bad woman that makes mischief her stydy and a terror to the parish.” John Thornton (Thoroton, rector?) wrote to the court, “I must foreworn you that Elizabeth is not of good character.”

Jess Jenkins describes this incident in The Dustsheet 38, the newsletter of the Record Office for Leicester and Rutland.

Sadly. we do not know how the case was concluded.

This page was added on 27/07/2009.

Comments about this page

  • The above description of a claim for defamation against Levi Robinson 1797, is a great find as Levi Robinson is an ancestor of mine and his descendants moved to Bottesford. So thank you for posting this.

    By Karen (30/11/2012)
  • Hello Karen. Thank you for getting in touch. I wonder if you might other information about Levi and his family. We would love to hear more about him. Neil (editor)

    By Neil Fortey (01/12/2012)
  • Hello Neil, Concerning my earlier comment concerning Levi Robinson. I am his Grandchild 5x I am still in the process of researching his line. I do however have a massive amount of info concerning his wife’s family. Levi married Elizabeth Lee, daughter of John lee and Ann King, in Bottesford Leicestershire 1806: all of Lincolnshire. Levi was born in east Allington, Lincolnshire, in 1752, to Thomas and Jane Robinson. One interesting story is of Levi’s grandson, also called Levi, who was prosecuted: HULL AND NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE TIMES APRIL 24TH 1869 MONDAY – Levi Robinson, a tramping showman, was sent to prison for one calendar month with hard labour for stealing a cotton shirt, the property of Benjamin Whitehead, at Barrow Mere. The shirt which was valued at two shillings was stolen from off a hedge where, with other linen, it had been placed to dry. I have a hunch that this Robinson-Lee family were Travelers as most of them lived in Lincolnshire but married in Leicestershire, also there are many references to the Robinson family as Circus entertainers? Hope this helps! If you want any info on the Lee family you can e-mail me on as there is too much info to post here.

    By Karen (05/12/2012)

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