Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Explanation For An "Ordinary"

Virginia Library's Roots List has had an extraordinary topic thread the past few days. While it is not something that you may encounter frequently, unless you choose to research early tax rolls, it is still something undoubtedly you will encounter from time to time. The following is a copy of the thread:

"I always learn something new on this list.
Could someone explain what "Joseph Wood that has a license to run an Ordinary in 1785" means.Ordinary is that like a Inn or tavern or ?


"The term has a number of definitions, but in the sense of your reference, it is " dining room or eating house, or house of public entertainment (as opposed to a house of private entertainment) where a meal is prepared for all comers, at a fixed price for the meal, in distinction from one where each dish is separately charged."
from the Dictionary of Genealogical & Archaic Terms,"


"And quite usually those sold booze, it too being price regulated.Ordinaries seldom had overnight service or accommodations for horses."


I submit the following as well, taken from the "Online Dictionary" at:
1] a member of the clergy appointed to prepare condemned prisoners for death

2] a bishop, archbishop, or other ecclesiastic or his deputy, in his capacity as an ex officio ecclesiastical authority

3] (in some U.S. states) a judge of a court of probate

4] a restaurant, public house, or dining room serving all guests and customers the same standard meal or fare

Of course, in light of the original question, only this 4th definition would apply to the circumstance of requiring a license, and so could only be the correct answer to the query.

File this tidbit of information away for the next time you come across some research that lists an "ordinary", for you will need it!

Have a blessed weekend!

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