Fines for selling liquor without a license these days can run into the thousands and the offense is chargeable (at least in my state) as a gross misdemeanor. Well it turns out, that in 1814, alcohol sales were not that much different. If you wanted to sell spirits, you needed a license or you could be charged. One Marks ancestor, Rebecca Compton Hope, found that out the hard way. In 1814, she was indicted in Hunterdon County, New Jersey for selling certain ardent spirits without a license. Here are the quick and somewhat dirty details:
According to the grand jury indictment, Rebecca Hope sold spirits or caused spirits to be sold on March 2, 1814 without a license to a Mr. Peter Smith. We don’t know much about Peter Smith from the indictment or how this offense even came to the attention of the authorities. All we know is Mr. Smith’s alcohol of choice . . . “certain ardent spirits commonly called whiskey.”
The indictment also specifies that Rebecca Hope is being indicted under the “act entitled ‘an act concerning Inns and Taverns'” and is signed by the the New Jersey Attorney General Aaron D. Woodruff.
By May 7, 1814, Mrs. Hope, who should not be mistaken for anyone else except the “wife of Samuel” got a court date. She was commanded to appear before the court of General Quarter Sessions “to be holden at Flemington” at 10:00 a.m. on August 1, 1814.
It appears that Mrs. Hope kept her court date. In fact, we know that she entered a guilty plea. Her sentence–a $1 fine.
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