Blue Anchor Tavern

The Blue Anchor Tavern


This tavern, built in 1735, is typical of the lower-end taverns of the city of Boston. It stands on the corner of Water and Batterymarch streets by the docks and is owned by Richard Wilson, son of the original owner and now an old man of 65 himself. Richard is a widower, but his ex-sailor son Joseph along with Joseph’s wife Maggie, their two early-twenties sons John and Bart, and teen daughter Maggie help run the place.

The building itself has a stone-built first floor topped by a timber second floor and an attic converted into rooms for Richard and his family. It has a spacious public room off to one side with a vaulted roof and a smaller, more secluded, private room along with kitchen and stores under the second floor. The second floor comprises six rooms, each with two beds, which are rented out. Out back, there is a stable with room for four horses and a latrine, along with a small vegetable garden and a chicken coop. The rooms upstairs rent for $25 a night, per person – double that if you wish to have a room to yourself. Drink and food come as cheaply as anywhere in the city, and are of decent but basic quality (except if you ask for a glass from the “special cask of rum” – in which case you’ll get the good stuff, smuggled, and while it costs $30 a glass that’s half the price anywhere else would charge for it).

The Blue Anchor is popular with seamen and dockhands, obviously, but also with smugglers and merchants dealing with the ship’s captains who dock so near by. It has the usual other clientele for a dockside bar – prostitutes, drunks, and some of the criminal element – but has very little trouble beyond the occasional short bar-fight, and certainly no pickpockets would dare to work the place. Partly this is because of the cook, Joseph’s old sea-going friend Bartholomew Smith; a massive black man with a reputation as a ferocious street fighter. Partly it is because it is a favorite stop for the ‘pawnbroker’ Ezekiel Farley, who often rents the private room for a night of high-stakes whist or backgammon and hates to be disturbed while he is relaxing.


Blue Anchor Tavern

Arcanum 1780: A New World Cernig