Pubs and Publicans – Patriot King William IV (Blenheim Inn)

Blenheim, the imposing building at 16 High Street was by one account (On the Convict Road), commenced in 1826 and another as circa 1832 as a hotel by John Williatt on part of a grant of 36.5 acres of land (or 372 acres according to K Von Stieglitz) on which he also built “The Laurels”.  The hotel was first licensed on 29 September 1832 and was called the “Patriot King William IV” after the then reigning sovereign.

The hotel was a rather grand establishment which included an assembly room upstairs that was used for concerts, dancing and a meeting room for the Masonic Lodge and other groups.  It was said to also have a skittles alley.

Outbuildings included a brew house, stables and loose boxes, hay loft, blacksmiths, a cottage and accommodation for grooms.  Some of these buildings were destroyed by fire; the blacksmith shop and cottage were latter demolished.

Mr Williatt was generally well regarded as a person of good character, however in 1838, he was convicted by the magistrate at Morven, for a breach of the licensing act, in that he kept “open the outer door of his house at improper hours”.  Despite an appeal of the conviction, “a patient investigation, confirmed the decision of the magistrates”. One wonders now whether this conviction was just the start of an ongoing stoush between Mr Williatt and the Assistant Magistrate for Morven, Mr Robert Wales because in September 1840, he and Mr Wales had another battle.

In September 1840, Mr Williatt applied for renewal of his publican’s.  Mr. Wales objected strongly to a license being granted and in a lengthy speech related in what manner he had been insulted by Mr. Williatt.  The Launceston Advertiser of 3 September 1840 reported that Wales said the Williatt was “in the habit of tampering with the constabulary, and by this means raising an opposition against him in his magisterial office, and thereby enabled to violate the laws with impunity”.  The report goes on to say “It was impossible, he said, to obtain a conviction against Mr. Williatt on account of the intimacy which existed between him and the constabulary of the district. He also objected to the situation of the house— being so placed that no one could approach it without being observed, by which an opportunity was afforded for allowing the escape of any person improperly tippling upon the premises, he called upon his brother magistrates to support him in his office.

A long discussion here ensued; most of the stipendiary magistrates supported Mr. Wales, and on the other hand Mr. Williatt was strongly supported by Mr. Sinclair, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Sams; all of whom spoke in the highest terms of Mr. Williatt, and, from their own personal experience, bore testimony to the good management, respectability, and accommodation of his licensed house. A document to this effect was also handed in, and read, signed by most of the magistrates in the neighbourhood. The supporters of Mr Williatt did not forget to point out the honourable testimony borne by Mr. Wales as to the efficiency and integrity of the police under his jurisdiction, when he asserted that they were guided more by the frown or the smile of Mr. Williatt, than by the fear of magisterial displeasure, or the hope of magisterial commendation.

After a prolonged discussion, interspersed with loud cries of order and chair, during which time a great deal of confusion took place, inasmuch as, by way (we presume) of getting through the business with greater celerity, every one spoke at once, the question was put to the vote, and Mr. Williatt lost his license by a majority of 12 to 8”.

The Cornwall Chronicle of the 12 September drew the following response by a contributor.

“The conduct of the Magistrate upon the occasion forming a Bench for the granting of Licences to publicans, has been, for the past two or three years, for the most part, unexceptionable; the public is, therefore, the more astonished at the treatment received by Mr. Williatt at the annual licensing day on the 1st of the present month; and, we are quite sure, that every gentleman who sat on that occasion in his official capacity, must sincerely regret having been misled with regard to Mr. Williatt, now the facts of the case have become public.

Mr. Williatt has, for many years, kept the only public-house at Evandale.  He is a respectable man, and his house has been remarked as one of the best, if not the best, conducted licensed houses on this side of the Colony.  Gentlemen, when travelling have called, have been accustomed to receive to good accommodation at the “Patriot King”, — the house too, being so quiet and “unlike a public-house” that no person hesitates to make it his quarters. It has been quite usual with gentlemen, disposed for recreation for a day or two, to go out to Williatt’s, where they were sure to find the best attention, -the best accommodation-, and actual retirement.

The house is in every way suitable for affording accommodation to travellers and visitors except, perhaps, to those of that class who would consider that house to be the best fitted for public accommodation that afforded the largest tap-room, and in which rioting and debauchery were permitted. Such folk Mr. Williatt had not accommodation for, and, as a matter of course, his house was not patronised by them. Respectable people had nothing to complain of, — but everything to be satisfied with.

Of Mr. Williatt we are borne out in saying, that he has always maintained an independent character — his conduct has been unassuming and just; he lives within his income,— pays his debts— and has an unencumbered estate.

On the Licensing day— when Mr. Williatt’s name was read, as a matter of course, for the renewal of his License—Mr. Robert Wales, the Police Magistrate of Evandale, addressing the Bench, objected to it for stated reasons, which the Magistrates took for granted were correct.

The Bench was bound to credit the assertions made publicly by Mr. Wales, in his capacity of Police Magistrate, and without calling in Mr. Williatt to hear the charges made against him, refused his licence.

Mr. Williatt denies the truth of many of the assertions made by Mr. Wales to the Bench, and attributes his opposition to an ill feeling towards him, Mr. Williatt. Mr. Wales gave as one reason for refusing the License, that he had often summoned Mr. Williatt as a juror on Coroner’s Inquests— that he had never attended and had advised other persons not to attend when summoned. Now, Mr. Williatt states, that he was summoned on three occasions, — the first he attended, and sat as foreman, — on the second he attended, and sat at a juror, — and the third time he arrived at the Inquest too late, for which he made an apology to the Coroner, who laid that his absence was of no consequence, as the jury had easily been made up.

Mr. Williatt moreover asserts, that he had expressed his willingness at any lime to attend on Inquests, and requested he might be called upon at any time when a difficulty existed in composing a jury.

But presuming it to be the fact that Mr. Williatt did refute to attend on inquests, was that a sufficient reason why the public should be denied the accommodation of a respectable and orderly conducted public house at Evandale?

Again. Mr. Wales complained that Mr. Williatt had more authority over the constabulary than he had. — A strange confession for Mr. Wales to make.  He also complained of the situation of Mr. Williatt’s house, he said that no one could approach it without being observed, by which an opportunity was afforded for the escape from it of persons improperly tippling. Logical objection that, of the Police Magistrate, and singular too, that the house he proposed to license, (which, by the bye, belongs to the owner of the house Mr. Wales lives in,) should be objected to by another magistrate, because the floor of it was level with the street.

The objections made by Mr. Wales to Mr. Williatt license would have come better from him had he not taken much pains on many occasions to show an unfriendly feeling towards him. We learn from Mr. Williatt, that on one occasion, about 9 o’clock on a, Saturday morning, Mr. Wales went into his tap-room, where he saw a man lying on a bench. Without speaking to any one he went to the Police Office, and shortly returned with a constable, whom he directed to take the man to the watch-house for being drunk. The man, who happened to be sober, refused to be taken into custody, alleging that he was a free man and was sober.  Mr. Wales then called for Mr. Williatt and charged him in the Queen’s name to aid and assist to take the man into custody for being drunk, Mr. Williatt refused, as the man was sober and free, unless a warrant or some legal authority was produced for his apprehension.

For this refusal Mr. Wales threatened to take away Mr. Williatt’s license and his assigned servant.

We refrain from commenting on the conduct of Mr. Wales in this affair, understanding that Mr. Williatt has commenced legal proceedings against him for damages.”

As a result of losing his licence, the hotel was operated by Mrs Eleanor Perkins.  Her licence was granted by the Court of Quarter Sessions on 2 November 1840 (Cornwall Chronicle 4 November 1840).  She attempted to get a licence in Evandale for another hotel when Williatt’s licence was renewed but her bid was unsuccessful.

The person referred to above as the owner of the house where Assistant Police Magistrate Wales lived is Mr Thomas Fall.  In 1843, Mr Fall took over the licence for the Patriot King Hotel although the ownership of the building was maintained by Mr Williatt.  During his time as licensee, Mr Fall set about constructing his own hotel in Russell Street.  The Clarendon Arms, as it is currently known, was completed in 1847 on the site of the old watch house and convict cells.  It was first licensed on 2 September 1849, but not until after another legal battle with Mr Williatt had ensued.

The Cornwall Chronicle of 5 September 1849 reported that Mr. Thomas Fall’s application to transfer the “original license” for the Patriot King William IV “to the premises lately erected by him at Evandale” was refused on the ground that the transfer would be injurious to the proprietor of the Patriot King, Mr. Williatt.  The lawyer for Mr Fall, Mr. Tarleton argued that “If you reject Fall as an original holder, you must consider him as a new applicant.”  This argument was persuasive, so ultimately a new license was granted to Mr. Fall for the Clarendon, and Mr. Williatt’s put in a successful application for the transfer of the original license for the Patriot King back to him.

The Courier of 16 June 1849 carries the following advert –

To let or lease from 1st September next, 1849  THOSE SUBSTANTIALLY-BUILT , and EXTENSIVE PREMISES situate at Evandale, within 12 miles of Launceston, known as the “PATRIOT KING WILLIAM the FOURTH” Inn; now in full trade. Established in 1832. The house is large and replete with every convenience, and requisite accommodation for a first-rate hotel. Brewhouse, cellar, commodious stabling, loose boxes, coach and harness house, with lofts over the whole. Sheep and cattle yards, and a well of excellent water on the premises. For particulars, and to treat for the same, apply personally, or by letter post-paid, to the undersigned. – JOHN WILLIATT.  – Elkington, near Evandale, June 11.”

In May 1853, Mr Williatt transferred the licence for the Patriot King to William Wright. It is thought that Wright held the lease until 1857 at which time the remaining 18 months of the lease was put up for sale (The Cornwall Chronicle 11 April 1857).  It appears that Mr John Duffell took up that offer as The Cornwall Chronicle of 23 May 1857 states “Dr Wigan has commenced the practice of his profession at Evandale, and will be found at his rooms, at Mr. Duffell’s, the Patriot King Hotel, from 8 to 11 in the morning.

Another advert in The Courier on 28 June 1858 shows that Mr Williatt put the hotel out for lease for 5 years and Mr Duffell also took up this lease.  John Duffell was still licensee in 1862 although a newspaper of the day gave his name as Duffett.  By 1871, his wife, Dinah Duffell had become licensee and would remain so until at least 1874.

In December 1873, Mrs Dinah Duffell, pleaded guilty to having an illicit still in her possession, but in extenuation said she was not aware that it was a still. After more than a decade at a pub, it was highly likely she knew what a still was and what it looked like.  She was fined £10 and costs.

In 1884, the property, then known locally as Duffell’s Hotel was put up for sale but apparently was not sold and remained in the Williatt estate.  A notice published in the Launceston Examiner of 24 June 1876 by Richard Chugg of the Macquarie Hotel tells us “NOTICE.–As Mrs Duffell has closed the hotel, known as the Patriot King, the undersigned will provide dinners, etc. for the accommodation of the public attending the sales at the above place.”

In the 1890’s the house became the home of David Collins and his family.  He was at one time, Warden of Evandale and later became Council Clerk.  Karl von Stieglitz states that the Collins family occupied the home for 60 years, however, we know from the Examiner of 8 Aug 1912 that the family did not initially own the property.  It was in this year that the estate of the late John Williatt was again put up for sale; “FOR SALE

The following desirable lots, situated in High-street

Lot 4, occupied by Mr. David Collins, 3a. 2r 29p.; large Brick House and Brick Stables; weighbridge on this lot.

Lot 5 “Ingleside,” occupied by Mrs. Hawley, 3a. 1r. 29p.; comfortable W.B. Cottage, Brick Stable, Outhouses; Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Gardens.

Lot 6-Cottage and Land, 2a. 0r. 16p., adjoining “Ingleside.” Lots 5 and 6 are offered together.

                                Summary of Licensees of Patriot King William IV

1832 – 1840 John Williatt
1840 – 1842 Eleanor Perkins
1842 – 1843 John Williatt
1843 – 1849 Thomas Fall
1849 – 1853 John Williatt
1853 – 1857 William Wright
1857 – 1871 John Duffell
1871 – 1874 Dinah Duffell