Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

January 31, 2013

Dalton column: Innkeepers' dispute

In 1680 the General Court allowed Andover to have two public houses (inns) and that opened the door, so to speak, for some trouble.

By 1689, John Osgood had been an innholder for some time and didn’t like the competition he was receiving from the elderly William Chandler, who had become an innkeeper in 1687, so Osgood complained to the county court that Chandler didn’t have a license to sell cider and strong drink. Each of these men were among the original settlers of the town, and the feud was likely watched carefully by the town’s small population.

In order to establish his continuing right to be an innholder, Chandler was put to the work of finding the proper documentation and then adding an affidavit from five men who stated Chandler’s inn was necessary. They lived on the roads from Andover to Ipswich and Billerica, and stated in the affidavit that prior to Chandler’s “Horseshoe,” as it was called, they often heard strangers complain there was no public house of entertainment on those roads and the strangers had to travel a mile and a half out of their way for a bed and refreshment or, even worse, intrude upon private houses. That intrusion, said the five men, was burdensome to the neighborhood; therefore, William Chandler’s house was located in a convenient location for innkeeping.

A year after Osgood’s original complaint, 35 Andover men filed a lengthy petition critical of Chandler. For the benefit of my readers, I have abbreviated that bloviated petition; where there are words in quotation marks, they come from the petition itself, as copied in historian Sarah Loring Bailey’s 1880 book, “Historical Sketches of Andover.”

The petitioners stated they spoke for “many more, if not most of the town,” and said Chandler’s behavior had become an “epidemicall evil that overspreads and is like to corrupt the greater part of our towne if not speedily prevented.” The petitioners continued, “...in his first setting up he seemed to have had tendernesse upon his conscience not to admit of excess or disorder in his house... but the earnest desire for money hath proved an evil root to him... for through his over forwardness to promote his own gaine he hath been apt to animate and entice persons to spend their own money & time to ye great wrong of themselves and family they belong to.”

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