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England Occupations, Lodging, Eating, Coffee Houses (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military & Services  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Lodging, Eating and Coffee Houses[edit | edit source]

Lodging for travellers[edit | edit source]

In mediaeval times the monasteries and inns provided overnight accommodation for those few who had to travel. Inns flourished after the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII and the 2,000-3,000 inn keepers had to be licensed at the brewster sessions. As lodging places, inns along the coach routes tended to be displaced by public houses close to railway stations from the 1830s, although those situated in market places prospered. The first hotel was built in Exeter in 1768 and was called simply, The Hotel, but when it was enlarged in 1827 it became the Royal Clarence Hotel after the visit of the eponymous Duchess that year. There were few other hotels before 1800 but the Regency fashion for holidays by the sea, and the necessity for accommodations close to the larger railway stations caused them to multiply.

In earlier centuries inn keepers were members of the Innholders Company. Coaching inns and their more modern counterparts needed to advertise for trade and it is not hard to find annual listings in the various directories, including the Law List and in newspapers.

Eating places[edit | edit source]

Food had traditionally been available for the traveller at monastic houses, and then from inns, taverns, public houses, hotels and restaurants as they successively developed to meet the increasing demand. The early records of the London Cooks’ Company are kept at the Guildhall Library and Webb (London Apprentices Volume 26. Cooks’ Company 1654-1800. Society of Genealogists, 1999) has indexed over 3,000 apprenticeships from 1654-1800. Those who ran premises licensed to sell alcohol will be found in the Victuallers Licences (Gibson and Hunter). Hudson (Where We Used to Work.  J. Baker, London.  FHL book 942 U2hk, 1980) has discussed the practice of eating out mainly in the 20th century, and if your ancestress was a nippy at a Joe Lyons teahouse there is a great history of the company by Bird (The First Food Empire - A History of J. Lyons and Co. Phillimore).

Coffee Houses[edit | edit source]

Coffee was introduced into England about 1650, chocolate about 1657 and tea about 1660 (Rumens), and the coffee house, where all three could be consumed, became so popular that by 1698 there were over 2,000 of them in London (Miniature Books). They became the centres of commercial and literary life in the capital and Lloyd’s coffee house went on to become a major shipping and insurance concern. Since much business was transacted therein they tend to be listed in directories and the Law List.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military and Services offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.