Taverns as Lecture Halls

Virginia Gazette: With the Freshest Advices, Foreign and Domestick- Jan. 8th, 1767

Raleigh, having large rooms and the capacity to hold large groups, could be used for lectures and classes.

Virginia Gazette: With the Latest Advices, Foreign and Domestick- Oct. 13th, 1768

The Virginia Gazette mentions that Lord Charles Greville Montague, governor of South Carolina in 1768, went to dinner with his wife to the Raleigh tavern with the President and other members of his Council.

Specific taverns were not considered to be dens of “depravity.”

The Virginia Gazette mentions in an announcement column that Lord Charles Greville Montague, governor of South Carolina in 1768, went to dinner with his wife to the Raleigh tavern with the president and other “members” of his Council. Taverns could be political stages, public spaces of elegance and social grace [1]. The Raleigh tavern in particular is mentioned in many sources searched through for mentions of taverns.

It was one of the largest taverns in colonial Virginia and was often a gathering place for legislators. This indicates that while some taverns perhaps had disreputable activities and housed illegal activities and seedy patrons, others could hold balls and important political figures.

The Raleigh tavern’s name is also of interest, since it has been mentioned in other sources as catering to the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. It is later mentioned in relation to Wetherburn’s tavern. [2]

The Raleigh, having large rooms and the capacity to hold large groups, was even used for lectures and classes. At Raleigh tavern, Mr. William Verlings was scheduled to give two lectures on Monday and Tuesday night, at 6pm. These lectures were described as “admired and applauded by all who have heard it performed.” He would only perform these two lectures on these two nights, at this one place. This indicates that taverns, or at least, Raleigh’s tavern, could act as a place of sophisticated social gathering. [3]

[1] "Virginia Gazette: With the Latest Advices, Foreign and Domestick." Edited by Purdie and Dixon. The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site. Oct. 13, 1768. Accessed March 19, 2018.

[2] “A Study of Taverns of Virginia in the Eighteenth-Century with Special Emphasis on Taverns of Williamsburg.” Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation , 1990.

[3] Virginia Gazette: With the Freshest Advices, Foreign and Domestick." The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site. Jan. 8, 1767. Accessed March 19, 2018.