Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Smart

  The role I play in the 1773 Muster Day and Garden Party is a tavern keeper who is contracted to cater this combined event. As I live in the province of New Hampshire and the event will take place in the province of Massachusetts Bay, I have several questions that need answers.

          Do I need a special license to provide strong drink at this event? What is the process for obtaining a license if I need to have one for the day? Is it my sole responsibility to maintain good order?  Does the host, Mr. Northbridge, hold the ultimate responsibility for the behavior of his guests?  Are there any special regulations about taverns or tavern activities on Muster Day? 

  Muster Days have been known to get out of hand. There seems to be a problem with the combination of men, strong drink and gun powder, especially if the men divide up and participate in a sham battle. Mr. Northbridge would not want the Garden Party disrupted by riotous behavior.

  While others have begun their sewing, I am searching for answers to my questions in the provincial laws of New Hampshire and Massachusetts Bay.  Luckily, most of the provincial laws were published in the 19th century and now have been digitized.  The guide to the New Hampshire Provincial Papers is in the UNH Library. You can link to the volume you want to read from there. The General Laws of Massachusetts Bay are here. These volumes not only codify the the rules and regulations for tavern keepers, the militia, etc; they set out the parameters of acceptable and expected behavior for the residents of the province.  These statutes will keep me mindful that the world we are presenting to the public next August is very different from the one we live in today.

Oh, another aspect I need to explore as I ground my role in 18th Century reality, is how His Excellency, Thomas Hutchinson, Esq., Governor of Massachusetts Bay at the time of our event,  came to be possibly the most hated man in the province.  I've put The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson by Bernard Bailyn on my reading list and selected parts of Hutchinson's diary.  

I'm going to be busy!

S. Glasse

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