Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 31, 2013

Dalton column: Innkeepers' dispute

Bill Dalton
The Andover Townsman

---- — 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.”

Further, the men stated, servants and children were allowed by Chandler in his house at all hours “...sometimes until the break of day ...till they know not their way to their habitations.... [A]nd gaming is freely allowed in this house by which the looser must call for drink.” The petitioners noted they could state many more “perticklers,” but, in sum, Chandler was corrupting the younger generation, “...and what comfort will that be to parents to see such a posterity coming on upon the stage after them?”

But Chandler, having learned of the negative petition before it was filed, asked the Andover selectmen for support. They gave it to him by filing a short petition with the court stating that Chandler had kept a house for public entertainment for some considerable time and had kept good order in it, and the selectmen indicated that he was an infirm man and not capable of hard labor. The selectmen were comprised of eminences including a Chandler, a Holt, a Ballard, an Abbot, and Duncan Bradstreet, whose father had recently been governor of Massachusetts, and the selectmen’s words were dispositive of the matter.

So, that ends the story of Osgood versus Chandler, with Mr. Chandler pretty much winning out except for restrictions placed on his license against gambling and the like, and except for the fact that he died soon after.

As a side note, when Chandler’s license was renewed, he posted a bond for 50 pounds, and the bondsman was Andrew Peters of Ipswich. When Chandler died, Peters took over Chandler’s business and moved to Andover because his Ipswich distillery business had recently been burned by Indians. Peters became a distiller and innkeeper in Andover, and the Andover selectmen welcomed this man of high reputation, allowing him to sell liquor by the quart “out of doors,” which meant he could sell to people not staying at the inn. He became Andover’s first and perhaps only ever distiller/retailer/innkeeper and eventually became a selectman as well. Coincidentally, Peters was an ancestor of Andover historian and Phillips Academy headmaster Claude Fuess, even though Fuess’ family was not from Andover, and he didn’t move here until early in the 20th Century.

Except for the last paragraph, the above information is mostly derived from Sarah Loring Bailey’s book.

Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Andover Townsman. His email address is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com