Giles Rickards: Puritan Tavern Owner

Puritans drinking.

The colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts were religious, well-educated... and moderate drinkers. If you were a Puritan, serving God was your supreme purpose. But you could do so with the assistance of "God's gift of beer and wine." 

Giles Rickard, our ancestor, was a weaver by trade. He and his family left Somerset, England in 1637 on the ship, The Speedwell. When he arrived, he was granted seven acres of land and awarded his freeman status (giving him the ability to vote). Over the next few years, he served as a juror on two landmark cases and also served in the community as a constable (policeman):

  • September, 4 1638 - Giles was on the jury that convicted four Englishmen of murdering an Indian.
  • October 4, 1648 - Giles was on the trial jury that convicted Alice Bishop of murdering her 4-year old daughter.
  • March 1, 1641/42  - Giles was made a constable (policeman) and surveyor of highways for Plymouth town.

Around 1653, Giles' lifestyle seems to change quite a bit....

  • 1653 - Giles is brought before a grand jury for "lascivious carriages towards Mary, the daughter of Barnard Lumberd, of Barnstable." 
  • 1658/59 - Giles was granted a license to keep an "ordinary" [a Tavern] at Plymouth for entertaining visitors, but not for the use of the townspeople.
  • 1659/60 - The license was renewed with a provision that he could also sell wine and strong liquors to townspeople, but only to be consumed in their own houses.
  • 1660/61 - Giles was fined or given short jail sentences for offenses such as: selling liquor to Indians, allowing John Barnes [his good friend] to be drunk in his house, and for swearing.
  • 1666 - Giles' liquor license was revoked. He complained that the liquor on hand would be lost, and so he was allowed to sell his remaining stock to out-of-towners, or to townspeople "for the relief of the weake or sicke." 

Giles married three times: to Judith Cogan, Joan Tilson and Hannah Churchill. His first wife, Judith, was the mother of John and Giles and is our direct ancestor. 

Giles signed his will in January 1684/5. His inventory consisted of several pieces of real estate vallued at £95, and about £66 in livestock and personal property, including some small books and two Bibles.

That's about all I know of Giles Rickards. I did a quick search and found several Rickards still living in Somerset, England - which is about a 3 hour drive from my house! Should I go knock on their door?