Running a pub really was a way of life, in fact it basically took over the life of the publican and his wife, if he had a helpmate. The open hours were long, from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm in most places but in London they were from 5:00 am to past midnight. And, while legislation was enacted in Scotland, Ireland and Wales which closed pubs on Sunday, the legislation was never passed in England so pubs remained open on Sundays.
Responsibility for running a pub seven days a week with long hours supervising staff, making sure the beer serving apparatus was clean and in good working order, dealing with taxes and problem customers took their toll. Added to this, married publicans and their spouses found it difficult to take time off together. Even more strain could be added to the working partnership if one of the members developed a fondness for alcohol. As Paul Jennings wrote in The Local, “One drawback to sociability, and arising from the very nature of the business, was a fondness for drink. Many paid the price in their health and life. In the period 1880 to 1882 mortality from alcoholism among publicans was five times the general rate for males and from diseases of the liver six times greater.”*
Since their marriage, Henry and Ellen Booth had moved a few times, each time ending up running a different pub. By 1911 they fetched up at the Hearts of Oak Pub on Dock Street in Whitechapel close to the St. Katherine Docks. It was there in 1913, at the age of 40, that Henry succumbed to that common complaint of publicans; he died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Jennings, Paul. The Local: A History of the English Pub. Tempus Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2007 *p 97
Monckton, H.A. A History of the English Public House. The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1969