Friday, July 5, 2019

No Ticket, No Chance -- Regency Lotteries

I have never really given much thought to lotteries. I buy the occasional ticket, never win anything, and that's about it.

Then I began to notice advertisements in British newspapers of the Regency, mainly for the the State Lottery, and I began to wonder how prevalent and how popular lotteries were in the period 1800-1820. I discovered that the 18th century was the heyday of lottery play in Britain and that from 1815, they were dying out.

Hereford Journal - Wednesday 15 January 1800
The first notice in the British press of a lottery is from 1569, and the prize then was 'plate'--silver and gold in various forms. The next mention was in 1586 and the prize was 'armor', very fine armor apparently. The popularity of these initial forays in public gambling were so successful that government and royalty took note, and the first state lotteries took place. At one point around 1800 the government garnered half a million pounds per annum.
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Wednesday 10 April 1805
By 1700, there were literally hundreds of lotteries as well as the state and city events. There were private lotteries, and fraudulent lotteries with fines of 500l. for cheating. People then, as now, had their favourite numbers. Tickets were expensive, 10l. and up, and ticket sharing schemes, and companies, were popular. So was forgery and counterfeiting of tickets and corruption of ticket-drawing persons.

Worcester Journal - Thursday 29 November 1810
There were dozens of licensed lottery dealers: Hornsby and Co., Swift & Co., Sir J. Branscomb & Co., J. Warner, and T. Bish among them.

T. Bish (in business for some thirty years) became among the best known particularly because of their flamboyant ads after about 1812. Below are two simple advertisements; most included cartoon woodcuts.
Westmorland Advertiser and Kendal Chronicle - Saturday 15 July 1815
Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature etc. 1816
Between the state and city lotteries there were smaller events known as 'little goes'. Prizes were anything and everything; books enjoyed a vogue as prizes at one time. The following advertisement appeared in a Calcutta newspaper:
The Every-Day Book and Table Book by William Hone 1830
(There is a large section devoted to 'Lotteries' in this 1830 edition of Hone's Every-Day Book.  I recommend it.)

But by 1815 the tide of public opinion was turning against lotteries though in 1820, they still existed.

 In 1826 the government finally passed legislation which banned lotteries.

There was rejoicing but also disappointment and the furor leading to the final lottery drawing was intense. The companies who had the most to lose by the lottery closure were the most noticeable.
A final flourish from a newspaper of 1826 was recorded in Hone's Every-day Book:
In 1830 Hone noted that

And indeed it was not killed, for lotteries are with us still.

'Til next time,


Sources: British Newspaper Archive
               Hone's Every-Day Book and Table Book, download available at

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Scots Magazine--oldest magazine still published

Scotland is a country largely over-looked in Regency romance literature. Occasionally  a bonny Scots laird comes to London and captures hearts, and in my own book "The Rake's Reflection" the heroine comes from Edinburgh. But, by and large, the beau monde is in London and that's where Regency romance remains.

The story of Scotland is too big to be merely appended to that of Regency England. It was, and is, a country of strong identity and formidable citizens. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Edinburgh was sometimes called "The Athens of the North", and was at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment. Into this environment, The Scots Magazine was born.

First published in 1739, The Scots Magazine is still in print today. There were periods when it was dormant, 1826-1887, and times when publication was spotty, but in 1927 it was relaunched and it continues to serve Scotland to this day. When first published it was simply called The Scots Magazine, as it is today, but it was variously known as The Scots Magazine or General Repository of Literature, History, and Politics and The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany.

Of course, my interest is in the Regency era, and I offer the following excerpts from The Scots Magazine of the early 1800s as an illustration of life in Scotland during the extended Regency period.
July 1809 The Scots Magazine

January 1817 The Scots Magazine
Arniston Bridge over the River South Esk January 1811 The Scots Magazine
May 1809 The Scots Magazine
New Harbours and improvements, 1809, The Scots Magazine
January 1809 The Scots Magazine
Valleyfield House April 1811 The Scots Magazine

Calendonian Horticultural Society
January 1817 The Scots Magazine

If you have an interest in the Scotland of the British Regency era, The Scots Magazine is an invaluable resource. A wide-ranging publication it encapsulates the flavour, the character, and the intellect of the Scottish nation. I think it is required reading for those who love Regency Britain.

'Til next time,


All resources from Google Books

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Joy of Bakeries

I love bread--mmmmm, carbs. So I always notice bakeries and, when I am researching, I notice mention of bakeries and bakehouses.
mid-19th century advertisement
In the newspapers of the Regency, there seem to be frequent mentions of baking establishments changing ownership.

Morning Advertiser - Thursday 13 November 1806
Morning Advertiser - Wednesday 14 January 1818
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser Mon 13 Jan 1817
 So I did some investigation on baking and bake shops in the Regency era. (By the way, meal was the word for flour and grains, and meal-men were dealers in the same.) The best book I found on bread baking was:
In it, Mr. Edlin describes the best way of constructing a bakery:
And he describes the "most usual and indispensible requisites" (tools) for the bakery:

    The seasoning tub
    The seasoning sieve
    The warming pot
    The brass-wire sieve
    The pail
    The bowl
    The spade
    The salt bin
    The yeast tub
    The dough knife
    Scales and weights
    The scraper
    The rooker

An early 19th century bakery from 'Baking in America' by Panschar & Slater 1956
Baking was big business. Only the largest establishments made their own bread; most households routinely purchased the staple of life. Bake shops did a small sideline in baking items for householders but the Appendix in Mr. Edlin's book makes it clear it was a small earner for the baker.
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 15 September 1810
The man who took on a bake shop had to be a hard worker and a good manager of business. The margins were small and the regulations increased throughout the 19th century due to the dishonest practices of a few bakers. (Bread was often adulterated with such things as alum and chalk.)

There is a substantial appendix of interviews and statistics at the end of Mr. Edlin's book. He sums up the facts with the following paragraph. Reading it, I no longer wonder why there were so many bakeries for sale in Regency newspapers.
Hmm, I'm hungry. I think I'll go support a baker.

'Til next time,


Sources: Google Books
               British Newspaper Archives