Universiteit Leiden

nl en


To Be Led Astray?

The Effects of the 1881 Liquor Act on the Leiden Alcohol Trade

Ariadne Schmidt, Roos van Oosten, Astrid Theerens
03 December 2022
Website of the journal


The Dutch Drankwet (hereinafter: Liquor Act) of 1881, the result of decades of temperance activism, was met with much criticism — little had come of the national legislation’s aim to reduce the consumption of alcohol. Even so, did this also mean that little changed in the sale of alcohol? This article examines how the Liquor Act was implemented locally in Leiden and what impact this had on the sale of alcohol there. To this end, both city council minutes and patent registers are analyzed.

Patent registers served as compulsory patent taxes and as licenses for liquor stores and drinking establishments. They provide valuable insight into the variation within the sector for alcohol sales in Leiden throughout the nineteenth century. Our examination shows that, contrary to the criticism of the law, the Liquor Act had both short- and long-term effects on Leiden’s pubscape. It led to a limited decrease in the number of public houses and primarily affected the smallest public houses, often owned by women.

Read the whole article on the website of The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History.

This website uses cookies.  More information.