Pubs and Publicans – Royal Oak Hotel

The first licensee was John Morrison.  Colonial Times of 9 Nov 1844 stated that Mr Morrison had applied for a licence (22 September 1844) to keep an inn at Evandale but it was refused “on account of not being wanted, in the opinion of the Justices”. That report goes on to say the case came on again on but the decision was “deferred until the 22nd, when no doubt, having heard the decision on this side in Mr. Bonney’s favour, their Worships will grant the applications.”  While details of the decision on 22nd have not been found, we know that Morrison held the licence in 1845 so we can assume it was granted.  He held the licence until 1852 when he died on 11 May 1852 at the age of 44. His wife, Eleanor Morrison took over the licence that same year.  Mrs Morrison is known to have transferred the licence to Mr Abraham Banks in February 1853 (Launceston Examiner, February 10, 1853).

Mr Banks held this licence until 1871, at which time “Richard Hood was granted permission to sell liquors in the Royal Oak hotel under the licence held by Abraham Banks, until the next licensing meeting”.

In 1855, Mr Banks was involved in an interesting case, one considered of considerable importance to all public house licensees, had it been successful. It was “an information” laid by A. T. Collett Esq. against Mr. Banks, at the Police office in Evandale.  “It involved having refused to receive the horse of a traveller, not being a guest at his inn, on Sunday last, the 7th January. The circumstances were these: Mr. Collett, who resides about two and a half miles from the township, drove to Evandale in his gig for the purpose of attending divine service, when he found Bank’s yard gate locked and secured, and was refused admission by Banks, and he was compelled to put up his horse at a friend’s place. There was a full attendance of magistrates (six), who unanimously dismissed the information, contending that Banks was perfectly justified in refusing to receive on Sunday any but travellers, and that persons coming to church could not be so designated. Another information against Banks for refusing to admit Mr. Collett into his licensed house on the Same day, in his capacity as a Justice of the Peace, arising out of the former case, was withdrawn by Mr. Collett.”

Upon obtaining the licence from Mr Banks, Mr Richard Hood soon set about leasing the business to someone else.  On 9 October 1871, he advertised “To BE LET BY TENDER-That well known business public house known as the Royal Oak Inn, Evandale. Tenders to be sent in on or before November 1st , 1871. Not bound to accept the highest or any tender. Apply to Mr R. Hood, near Trafalgar, Evandale.”  It is not known how successful this attempt was but we do know that Hood remained licensee until August 1874 at which time he transferred it to Elizabeth Hanney.  The Hobart Town Gazette of 18 January 1876 shows that Hanney was granted a licence until 31 December of that year.  The following year, the Hobart Town Gazette of 16 January 1877 states that a licence was now granted to Thomas Trant until 31 December that year.  However, The Tasmanian 15 December 1877 carried an advertisement that stated “WANTED TO BE KNOWN. – THAT I, the undersigned, have taken the Royal Oak Hotel, Evandale, lately in the occupation of Thomas Trant, and I beg to solicit a fair share of patronage. Good accommodation, stabling, etc. The best wines and spirits always on hand. – HENRY VINEY, Proprietor.” 

Viney held the licence until 29 May 1880 and the Hobart Town Gazette states that the licence was transferred from Viney to William Banks (1 June 1880).  That licence was renewed for 1881.

Mr Hood took back the licence in 1881 and held it till 1886.  In September that year he advertised to let or sell the Royal Oak and records show that George Herbert Wills successfully applied for licence and initially permission to continue selling liquor from Hood’s Royal Oak. Mr Wills continued as licensee until July 1887, at which time, Mr. Benjamin Cutler made an application to transfer the licence.  Cutler was then granted permission to sell under Wills’ license until next licensing day (normally December). 

It seems that Mr Cutler was very quick to get himself into the community by making his hotel available for many social events.  For example he hosted a pigeon shoot in 1889 and used his licence to set up booths at various sporting events.  For example, in 1887 he provided a scoring board for the pigeon shooting match at Longford and then “At the Evandale Races in May 1888, Mr. Benjamin Cutler, of the Royal Oak, Evandale, had a booth on the ground and did a brisk business, and also provided an excellent luncheon.” (Launceston Examiner 3 May 1888).  In September 1889 Cutler is also reported to have provided an excellent refreshment and luncheon booth at a ploughing competition of the Evandale Ploughing Association.  Something he repeated in 1889.  He did not confine himself to sporting events; in 1889 he provided dinner and refreshments to the Morven St. Andrew’s Benefit Society at the Council Chambers and then in 1890 he hosted a dinner for the anniversary of the Benefit Society at his hotel.

Mr Cutler held the licence until 1892.  The Launceston Examiner of 14 Oct 1892 states that a solicitor, Mr J J Rumpff of Patterson Street Launceston had “for sale the tenant rights, furniture, goodwill, and effects” for the Royal Oak.

In November 1893, Samuel Colgrave applied for a Justices’ Certificate approving of him receiving a public-house licence.  This may or may not have been granted.  The Mercury newspaper of Hobart on 6 December 1893 records that “Evandale Licensing Bench has decided to close Royal Oak Hotel, on the ground that it is not required for public convenience.

                                Summary of Licensees of Royal Oak Hotel

1844 – 1852 John Morrison
1852 – 1853 Eleanor Morrison
1853 – 1871 Abraham Banks
1871 – 1874 Richard Hood
1874 – 1876 Elizabeth Hanney
1877 – 1877 Thomas Trant
1877 – 1880 Henry Viney
1880 – 1881 William Banks
1881 – 1886 Richard Hood
1886 – 1887 George Herbert Wills
1887 – 1892 Benjamin Cutler
1892 – 1893? (possibly) Samuel Colgrave