genealogy of the Bird and Musgrove families
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Samuel Shire (1824 - 1871)

A sad death from the effects of alcoholism of an innkeeper in Taunton.

Western Gazette - Friday 20 October 1871


Western Times - Tuesday 24 October 1871


Delirium tremens

Also referred to as The DTs, "the horrors", or "the shakes." is an acute episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawl from alcohol.  When caused by alcohol it occurs only in patients with a history of alcoholism. 


Death Certificate

Fracture of base of skull caused by deceased throwing himself from a window whilst in a state of temporary mental insanity (probably Delirium tremens). 10 hours from time of fall to death.


The Saracens Head
The photograph is of The Saracens Head, Taunton but not from the same era as Samuel.  It is taken from
Somerset County Council archives .



Statutory licensing was first introduced by the Alehouse Act 1552 to regulate the alehouse, as it was known in those days, against increased levels of drunkenness and social disorder.  The Licensee was obliged to declare they would not keep a "disorderly house" and prohibited games of bowls, dice, football and tennis. 

The 1753 Licensing Act ensured new licenses would only be granted to those "of good character" and a Register of Victuallers had to be kept by the Court. 

The Beer Act of 1830 effectively disbanded many controls and allowed any householder "assessed to the poor rate" to sell beer, ale and cider without a license. 

It wasn't until the 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act and The Intoxicating Liquor (licensing) Act 1872 that stricter controls were reintroduced. Probably too late for poor Samuel ! 

It might be possible to find Samuel in the Register of Victuallers at the National Archives which from 1871 was required to include the names and occupations of the two guarantors who would have vouched for his probity.       



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