Gooding's Tavern: Rules of Tavern Proprietorship

Fairfax County Ordinary Bond Book

Bond taken out by William Gooding, the proprieter of Gooding’s Tavern. It states that it is valid as long as the proprietor offers “clean” and “wholesome” lodging, food for travellers, and fodder and pasturage for their horses. It also prohibits gambling and drinking “more than is necessary” on the sabbath.

Legally speaking, because taverns served travelers, the General Assembly and county courts had to regulate their activities in order to make sure travelers had safe accommodations. They also had to ensure the fair treatment of tavern keepers. For example, a bond taken out by William Gooding, the proprietor of Gooding’s Tavern, stated that it was valid only as long as Gooding offered “clean” and “wholesome” lodging, diet for travelers, and fodder and pasturage for their horses. It also prohibited gambling and drinking “more than is necessary” on the sabbath, although one cannot be sure what “necessary” means exactly. Interestingly, one of the lines that has to be filled in is the gender pronoun one goes by before the word “house,” indicating that women could be the proprietors of taverns as well. This bond reveals that tavern owners had certain obligations to fulfill, and they had to provide adequate, government-regulated services to travelers and their horses. It also reveals that gambling was frowned upon, and so was drinking in excess on a “holy day." [1]

[1] “Fairfax County Ordinary Bond Book, 1816-1842.” 1820. In Fairfax County Ordinary Bond Book, 1816-1842, 199.

Gooding's Tavern: Rules of Tavern Proprietorship