Discovering publicans in Queensland

Do you have a publican in your Queensland family history? If so, one index you should look at is State Library’s Licenced Victuallers Index 1900-1914 now available to search through One Search. A licenced victualler was someone who was granted a licence to sell spirits and other types of alcohol. They may also have been known as a publican or innkeeper.

Sketch of the inside of a bush tavern in Queensland ca. 1875
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negative number: 146281, https://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/100531

The Licenced Victuallers Index 1900-1914 is a listing of licence holders whose names were regularly printed in the Queensland Government Gazette as licenced victuallers from 29 January 1901 to 27 June 1914. Gazettes for these years are available onsite at State Library on microfiche, microfilm and electronically.

This index contains information that may be useful for family history or general Queensland history research, including details such as names, dates, districts and hotel names. In the Government Gazette you may also find licence transfers, some of which have been included in the index.

There are approximately 33,000 index records for the period 1 July 1900 to 30 June 1914.  1447 of the entries are for names of persons where licences were transferred to or from between 1 July 1900 and 31 December 1903. You can search this index through One Search SLQ Family History Indexes.

One Search catalogue result for Licenced Vicutallers index

So, what’s so interesting about this index? You won’t just find the names of British men, you will also find women’s names as wives often took over the license from their husbands, non-British Europeans and Chinese, to name a few.

One such example is the licence for the Canton Hotel in Thornborough where the victualler’s licence appears to move between two Chinese men, Ah Tie Chang also recorded as Chang Ah Tie, and Ah Yam, between 1900 and 1913. You can also trace this movement through newspaper advertisements that can be searched on Trove digitised newspapers.

Newspaper advertisements for application for transfer of licenced victuallers or wine-sellers licence from The Cairns Post, 31 May 1909 and 15 June 1911.
Taken from Trove digitised newspapers.

If you’re looking for more information on Queensland publicans, why not try these resources:

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