Monday, November 24, 2008

The Five Alls

I was fascinated to read this explanation for a village pub sign of 1811.
'The five alls is a country sign, representing five human figures, each having a motto under him. The first is a king in his regalia; his motto, I govern all: the second, a bishop in pontificals; motto, I pray for all: third, a lawyer in his gown; motto, I plead for all: fourth: a soldier in his regimentals, fully accoutred; motto, I fight for all: fifth, a poor countryman with his scythe and rake; motto, I pay for all.'
I could only find a sign depicting The Four Alls.
There are people in the UK who visit and photgraph public house signs as a hobby - I wonder if they've ever come across The Five Alls.
Fenella Miller
'The House Party' is on offer at Amazon and is also available as a download from


Nicola Cornick said...

It is a very unusual name, isn't it. There is a pub called the Five Alls about 10 miles from where I live. I pass it each time I drive to visit my parents in law. I was so curious I looked up the meaning in my book of pub name derivations. It's a fascinating book and a made me realise how interesting pub names are as a source of social history.

Joanna Waugh said...

Perhaps the fifth "all" is represented by the pub itself which "feeds all" or "comforts all."

Elaine Saunders - Complete Text said...

In Medieval times these signs would usually show only three alls – the monk, I pray for all; the knight, I fight for all; the commoner, I work for all. Later a king and a lawyer were added,

The commoner, farmer or John Bull figure on the sign sometimes means - I work for all.

It very often depended on the whim of the sign artist and they were sometimes known to add a sixth character, The Devil - I take all.

Whilst researching my book on pub history I also found one source claiming that alls are the drippings from the beer tap, collected and resold but there is no evidence to support this.

Elaine Saunders
Author: A Book About Pub Names
Complete Text
It’s A Book About….blog

Historical Romance Author said...

Fascinating! Thanks for all that- I know after seeing the news item on local TV I've been looking out for unual signs. I know The Black Boy, was changed to The Black Buoy in Wivenhoe. Sometimes it was changed to a portrait of King Charles, or was it Bonnie Prince Cahrlie?