Disorderly Houses Act, 1751

Unlicens’d places of publick entertainment deemed disorderly houses.

Constables may enter and seize all persons found therein.

Persons keeping the same to forfeit £100.

2. And whereas the multitude of places of entertainment for the lower sort of people is another great cause of thefts and robberies, as they are thereby tempted to spend their small substance in riotous pleasures, and in consequence are put on unlawful methods of supplying their wants and renewing their pleasures: In order, therefore, to prevent the said temptation to thefts and robberies, and to correct as far as may be the habit of idleness which is become too general over the whole kingdom, and is productive of much mischief and inconvenience, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the first day of December one thousand seven hundred and fifty-two, any house, room, garden, or other place kept for publick dancing, music, or other publick entertainment of the like kind, in the cities of London and Westminster, or within twenty miles thereof, without a licence had for that purpose from the last preceding Michaelmas quarter sessions of the peace to be holden for the county, city, riding, liberty, or division in which such house, room, garden, or other place is situate, (who are hereby authorized and impowered to grant such licences as they in their discretion shall think proper,) signified under the hands and seals of four or more of the justices there assembled, shall be deemed a disorderly house or place; and every such licence shall be signed and sealed by the said justices in open court, and afterwards be publickly read by the clerk of the peace, together with the names of the justices subscribing the same; and no such licence shall be granted at any adjourned sessions, nor shall any fee or reward be taken for any such licence; and it shall and may be lawful to and for any constable or other person, being thereunto authorized by warrant under the hand and seal of one or more of his Majesty's justices of the peace of the county, city, riding, division, or liberty where such house or place shall be situate, to enter such house or place, and to seize every person who shall be found therein, in order that they may be dealt with according to law; and every person keeping such house, room, garden, or other place, without such licence as aforesaid, shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds to such person as will sue for the same, and be otherwise punishable as the law directs in cases of disorderly houses.