The Case is Altered
The Case is Altered is a rare pub name, although it is found in places other than Stony Stratford. Quite why it was ever adopted as a pub name will probably remain a mystery.
The phrase originated with an Elizabethan lawyer, Sir Edmund Plowden, who died before 1585. He was called upon to defend a gentleman who was charged in those sensitive religious times with hearing Mass. This was against the law, but Plowden discovered that his client had been set up and the man conducting the mass was not an ordained priest. therefore he argued, if there was no priest there could be no mass. “The case is altered!” he triumphantly announced and all of Elizabethan England was buzzing with the news. The phrase slipped into the language as a sort of catch phrase and frequently in tavern arguments a man would assert the rights of his argument by saying, “The case is altered!” It later became the title of a Ben Jonson play, written in 1597. This play is a somewhat haphazard confection of intertwined comic plots and is thought by some critics to be the work of several authors, and has no special bearing on the naming of a pub in Stony Stratford.
Quite why this title should resurface four centuries later as a pub name may not be easily explained. Possibly by this date the phrase had come into general usage as a way of asserting one’s rights in an argument.
The Case is Altered got its first license in 1867, and was one of three that started up along the Wolverton Road at this time. The other two took their names, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of edinburgh from the titles of Queen Victoria’s two eldest sons, Albert and Alfred. The Case is Altered started out with a beer shop license and this seemed to continue for many years as the landlord appears in the trade directories as a “beer retailer”, so I presume it was not licensed for wines and spirits, which may have mattered not at all to its clientele.
The first landlord was John Franklin, a bricklayer by trade, which would suggest that the pub did not provide a full source of income.