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A Sin and A Secret: The Quarrelsome Tavern Keeper and Fish House Punch

Welcome back to another "A Sin and A Secret." Mix yourself a drink based on a colonial recipe and then curl with a completely true, completely salacious story. Enjoy a new #ASinAndASecret post every week.

A Midnight Modern Conversation, March, 1732, William Hogarth Source:

The Quarrelsome Tavern Keeper

If you saw the last A Sin and A Secret post on the luckless Jacobites, you may remember William Grant, a Jacobite who was forced into convict servitude and worked for a notoriously quarrelsome tavern keeper, Thomas Davis, of London Town. Thomas Davis lived in London Town during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Davis married twice and had eleven children. In November 1706, Davis received a license to open an ordinary (a tavern) in London Town. In 1713, Davis had a notable disagreement with Edward Rumney Sr., a boatwright in London Town. During the fight, Davis was said to have used swords, fists, canes, and perhaps even barrel staves (the wooden parts that make up a barrel). One can almost see the two men scrabbling, grabbing for anything in reach with which to clobber each other. Davis was found guilty of assault. Rumney recovered twelve pounds current money in damages from Davis at a criminal court held on June 1713. Two months later, Davis brought a suit against Rumney, He charged that it was in fact Rumney who had assaulted him. However, the court ruled in the Rumney’s favor and ordered Davis to pay 416 pounds of tobacco. Bad feelings continued to fester after the court decision. An otherwise unknown man by the name of Thomas Clark committed an act of vandalism in stealing the sign from Davis’ ordinary in November 1713. Clark’s bail was paid by none other than Edward Rumney. Davis appeared in the court records again in 1715 as his London Town house had been purchased by a man named Patrick Sympson. After departing London Town, Davis became a successful planter. He owned land all across Anne Arundel County, and left a detailed will dividing his considerable assets up among his sons after his death in 1749.


Fish House Punch

Fish House Punch Today’s recipe is a punch. Punch was a common tavern drink in the colonial era because it made a bottle or two of alcohol stretch farther. That being said, this Fish House Punch evidences just how much alcohol colonists expected to be in their punch bowls. A single colonist could drink up to 3.6 gallons of rum a year. This perhaps sheds light on the alcohol fueled brawl of Davis and Rumney! Punch was a communal beverage, either drunk directly from the bowl, or poured into wine glasses. Alcohol, citrus fruits, and sugar are common elements of most colonial punches.