Sometime in 1647 a Cheshire innkeeper recounted his troubles during the English civil war. William Summer of Over township had been forced to provide free-quarter to ‘Yorkshire souldiers under the Comand of Major George being 72 men and soe many horses one night when the seige was drawne off, by reason of prince Ruperts cominge to Beeston Castle anno domini 1645’. The horses had ‘eaten and destroyed’ four loads of hay worth ‘as I conceave’ £2, while their riders had cost him £2 in ‘meate, strong drinke, white bread, and cheese’; in all Summer estimated this involuntary hospitality at £5. On another occasion two soldiers with their horses had cost Summer 4s., besides 5s. ‘in strong drink for themselves and others which would have payd but he would not suffer them’. The social conventions of drink during a civil war were ambiguous: quartering two...

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