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The Black Lion Inn Woburn

The register of dues owed to the Vicar of Woburn notes licensees of the Black Lion from 1726 to 1764 [P118/3/1] and is one of only two pieces of evidence held at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service regarding the inn. This evidence indicates that the inn may have been short lived. Interestingly the inn is mentioned wrongly in the deeds of the Wheatsheaf. The Wheatsheaf was previously known as the White Lion, but from 1803 the deeds mistakenly describe it as formerly being known as the Black Lion. This is, presumably, because another inn called the White Lion had opened in Woburn and the clerk drawing up the deed knew there had recently been an inn called the Black Lion in Woburn, but not the older White Lion which had closed some time before 1724.

This mistake indicates that the Black Lion had certainly closed by 1803 and, in fact, probably some years before then, to allow the clerk to mistakenly put it where the Wheatsheaf stood, since the Wheatsheaf and the Black Lion both existed at the same time; thus a closure date of around 1764 seems reasonable. Unfortunately there is no indication of where the inn stood, but most licensed premises were within a hundred yards or so of the Market Place.

The other piece of evidence is a notebook of people admitted to various properties in Woburn held as copyhold from the Manor of Woburn [X18/8]. This reveals that in 1738 Virtue Savage was admitted to two thirds of the inn. In 1743 Virtue and Elizabeth, probably his wife, were admitted once again. They were admitted again in 1745 and again in 1748. The other third of the inn was held by Thomas Edmunds, admitted in 1738. He was readmitted to his third in 1745 but in 1748 it was Richard Smith and John Pursell who were admitted. Later in 1748 the whole of the Black Lion was held by Smith and Pursell who had, presumably, bought out the Savages. The final reference in the notebook is in 1771 when the property was surrendered by Sarah and Thomas Roe. It is not referred to as the Black Lion at this date. It is probable that Sarah and Thomas were the children of Mrs. Roe, the licensee from 1759 to 1764.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1726-1733: Thomas Cave;
1734-1735: Elizabeth Cave;
1736-1747: John Atkins;
1749: Joseph Eaton;
1756: John Middlebrook;
1757: Cooper;
1759-1764: Mrs.Roe

List of Sources:

  • P118/3/1: parochial dues: 1709-1796 [1726-1764]