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Unlike the city of today, Glasgow at the end of the 18th century, was generally a rather conservative Presbyterian city. There was trade with Europe, but the most notable factor was the huge volume of trade with North and Central America. Rum, not whisky, would have been the preferred tipple, when it was taken. Tap water and soft drinks as we know and use them, were unknown; a pot of light beer or ale might accompany food instead. 'Porter', mentioned in the Declarations, was short for porter's beer or ale. It was popular among manual workers, hence its name. It was a bitter, dark coloured beer, brewed from partly charred malt. A 'half mutchkin', mentioned by Patrick Quigly in his Declaration, was a measure for liquids. A mutchkin was about a quarter of an old Scots pint (or three quarters of an imperial pint), so a half mutchkin was half of that.

By 1819 there were almost 74,000 people living in Glasgow with 885 licensed public houses for their use. This of course included only what we would think of as the old centre of Glasgow; the Calton, the Gorbals, the villages of Anderston, Maryhill, Springburn and others, found in modern maps of Glasgow, were merely a Glasgow of the future. Then, they were separate villages or burghs with their own collection of licensed premises.

In Patrick Quigly's day, to sell liquor to the public, you had to have a license - yes even then! Apparently such a license was easy to acquire, provided you were respectable. The applicant had to show references as to their good character from two respectable citizens, and if that was done satisfactorily a license was then granted. We know from the Declarations that Peter alias Patrick Quigly did not have such a license. What this said about his character we can but speculate.

Even the nearby University in the High Street had to apply for a license to sell alcoholic drink. The janitor of the University sold wine to students, and others too possibly, in the Porter's Lodge, which became a kind of tavern. This was allowed by the University authorities, since through usage and custom they believed no license was necessary within their grounds. In 1829, however, the sale of liquor was stopped, although the sale of food continued.

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