This is the official home web page of The Flagon and Trencher Society: Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers. Here we present the purpose of the Society, the membership requirements, the history and publications of the Society. You can purchase our publications or download an application package. And members can update their address information or order insignia.

Please note: this information is provided gratis as a public service without frames or annoying ads. We do not collect any information about you other than that which you voluntarily mail us.

sign board with insignia of the society 

The Flagon and Trencher:
Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers

Record Extraction Project Now Underway!
The Objectives of the Society Explore the History and Art of Toasting
Who Can Join? A Page for Kids
History Place Order or Update Records
Meetings Site Map
Publications History of this Website
How to Join Us Contact Us
References and Links Search this Site
Photos from the 2013 meeting are here!
Photos from other meetings can be found in the meeting history.

The Objectives of the Society

To establish the good repute of colonial tavern keepers through:


Who Can Join?

Those persons, either male or female, who can prove direct descent from a person conducting a tavern, inn, ordinary, or other type of hostelry prior to 4 July 1776 (within the area which became the first 13 states). There is no age restriction for members. Please enroll your children and grandchildren!

In colonial times, taverns, ordinaries, pubs and other hostelries were usually kept in a person's home and no other building existed for this purpose. Therefore, the majority of the "taverns" as we think of them in that time probably did not have names. In smaller municipalities named taverns were probably not the rule. In larger ones the taverns had names to distinguish them apart.

The key to establishing membership is proving that your ancestor was licensed by the local authority to conduct the business of keeping an ordinary, hostelry, inn or hotel or licensed to sell spirituous liquors. The name of the establishment is not necessary. Brewers do not qualify. [top]


During a speech on "Genealogical Sources of the Philadelphia Area" delivered at the National Genealogical Society in March 1962, Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., remarked parenthetically that there seemed to be lineage societies for all kinds of ancestors except tavern keepers. Suggested Kenn Stryker-Rodda from the audience, "let's found one." Enough persons heard of the idea to prompt Kenn's sending a letter dated 1 September 1963 suggesting "an annual dinner at an old inn, with colonial menu (solid and liquid) spiced with learned and witty addresses on suitable topics, as the focus for the Society." It was Lee who dubbed the organization "Flagon and Trencher."

Sheppard and Stryker-Rodda were surprised by the response, but saw the feasibility of creating an organization that would not be bound by the usual rigid rules and regulations of other organizations, but would make it possible for interested persons to establish their ancestry from a tavern- inn- or ordinary-keeper who was in business during the colonial period.

The December 1963 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly carried an announcement stating the requirements for membership. In the two years that followed, many applications were received. Although it was suspected by Sheppard and Stryker-Rodda that membership would probably be small, by early 1965 it became evident to them that there was more interest in the Society than initially anticipated.

The first dinner meeting was held on 21 May 1965 at Frances Tavern in New York City . At that time there were twenty charter members and thirty-two other qualified members, whose applications had been carefully checked. More than half of the members attended the meeting. It was at this meeting that the name of the Society was formally chosen by its membership. It was also decided that a different host, with the title of "Mine Host," would be chosen for each future annual meeting. A constitution and by-laws were drafted soon thereafter, based on the many suggestions of the membership.

The second meeting was held 20 May 1967, at which time the constitution and bylaws were adopted and a design for the Society's insignia was chosen. The name of the Society is "FLAGON AND TRENCHER: Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers." The insignia is a tavern sign bearing the design of a flagon and a trencher with two wooden spoons and the name FLAGON and TRENCHER.

By 1973, there were more than 75 members, nearly half of whom attended the annual meeting at General Wayne Inn in Narbeth, PA. This meeting marked the beginning of an even greater interest in the Society, for in that year alone 35 new members were added. In 1974, the membership increased by 42 more, and in the year 2002, the Society reached a membership of more than 1,000. All told, the Society's members have numbered over 1,300; nearly 250 supplemental applications have been filed, and the membership thus far has honored more than 700 colonial tavernkeepers.

Throughout this growth the Society has been led by a remarkably small number of officers. You can see their names and a brief tribute in thanks for their contributions.

In the year 2002 Alexander Bannerman, only the third person to hold the office of Keeper of Tavern Records in the Society's 40-year history, developed three special-recognition awards. The first, known as the Flagon Award, is an engraved pewter flagon, awarded to a member who has contributed substsantially to the growth and maintenance of the Society. The second, known as the Trencher Award, is a lapel clutch-pin in the design of a trencher, awarded to individuals who serve as Mine Host for an annual meeting, or who in some other way provide a valuable service to the Society. Both awards are accompanied by a certificate of appreciation. The third award is a carved wooden plaque bearing the Society's insignia, and is presented in gratitude to the Tavern or Inn that hosts an annual meeting of the Society. [top]


The annual meeting shall take place in the first half of the year at such time and place as shall be determined by the Keeper of the Tavern Records and the MineHost/Mine Hostess for the year.

Each year we meet for luncheon in a colonial tavern. We enjoy an authentic meal and entertainment worthy of our ancestors. Some meetings since 2003 have links to a slide show of photographs. [top]


We have published thirteen small volumes of biographies of tavern keepers. See their Tables of Contents. These are all available for purchase. These brief volumes are NOT all inclusive, but rather, they only contain biographies of a few featured taverners and innkeepers. There are many thousands of men and women who provided this service over the course of the 140-year-long time period on which our Society focuses. After reviewing the contents, if you wish to submit a biography of your ancestor, please contact the Keeper of the Tavern Records for instructions on how to do so.

The Society offers a periodically updated list of established and verified taverners and innkeepers. If you wish to obtain a copy, please use our merchandise order form. Currently the list contains over 700 qualifying men and women, but it is by no means a complete list of all taverners and innkeepers, just those who have been named as qualifying ancestors for either primary or supplemental memberships in our Society.. Check the site from time to time to learn of future updates.

To obtain this list please use our merchandise order form. Better yet, buy two and donate one to your local genealogical library. You might also want to join our record extraction project. [top]

How to Join Us

You must fill out the application form with your lineage to a verified tavern-keeper. A copy of the documentation for each fact must be included. "Copy" means either certified copy of a record or photo copy of the original. Do not send original documents. If you are a close relative of a member, then there is a "short form" application.

There is a life membership fee of $100 which includes a nonrefundable examiner’s fee and a handsome membership certificate. There are no annual dues. After your membership based on a primary ancestor is established we welcome supplemental applications on other qualified ancestors. The current fee for supplementals is $35.

The first step is to download the instructions to your computer and print them. Then download the the application form and save it on your computer. Saving or doing "Save As" to your computer is imperative! While it may look OK on your browser, you can not properly print it because it is a web page at this point, not a document page. The first document is in the "rich text" format for Microsoft Word and many other word processing programs. The application form is ".doc" format - this may require some reformatting for your computer. Fill this out and mail it per the instructions.

When your application is approved you will be able to purchase the membership pin either with a clutch back or as a miniature medal. [top]

Updated 28 February 2014.