History of Lottery in England

The first public  English lottery was projected in 1566, but was not drawn until 1569. Only one authentic record of this lottery is believed to be in existence, and it is carefully preserved in the muniment room at Losely House, Artington, Surrey.[1] It is printed in black letter, and is five feet long by nineteen inches wide, so that I can only give the preamble to it.

“A verie rich Lotterie Generall, without any blancks, contayning a number of good prices, as wel of redy money as of plate, and certaine sorts of marchaundizes, having been valued and priced by the comaundement of the Queene's most excellent majestie, by men expert and skilfull; and the same Lotterie is erected by her majestie's order, to the intent that such commoditie as may chaunce to arise thereof, after the charges borne, may be converted towardes the reparation of the havens and strength of the Realme, and towardes such other publique good workes. The number of lots shall be foure hundreth thousand, and no more; and every lot shall be the summe of tenne shillings sterling onely, and no more.”

And the bill, which was printed in 1567, winds up thus: “The shewe of the prices and rewardes above mencioned shall be set up to be seene in Cheapsyde in London, at the signe of the Queene's Majesties' Arms, in the house of M. Dericke, goldsmith, servant to the Queene's most excellent Majestie.”

But people fought so shy of the scheme that the proclamation had to be backed by the recommendation of the Lord Mayor, and, this proving of no avail, the Queen issued another on 3rd January 1586, postponing the drawing on account of the slack subscription, and, this not succeeding, the Earl of Leicester and Sir William Cecil, as Lords of the Council, on July 12, 1558, sent a circular to all the authorities in the Counties of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Southampton, and the Isle of Wight, begging them to do all in their power to get subscribers.

By the terms of the lottery, the subscribers were to be anonymous, their subscriptions being accompanied by a “devise or poesie.” Many of these remain in a little black letter book at Losely, and I give two or three from various shipping places.

“Yermouth haven, God send thee spede,
The Lord he knoweth thy great nede.”

“In good hope, poor East Greenwiche, God send us to remain,
And of some good lotte to have the gaine.”

“Draw Brightemston[2] a good lot,
Or else return them a turbot.”

“From Hastings we come,
God send us good speed;
Never a poor fisher town in England,
Of y e  great lot hath more need.”

At last, the Lottery was drawn, in 1569, as we learn from Holinshed. “A great lotterie being holden at London, in Poules Church Yard, at the west dore, was begun to be drawne the eleventh of Januarie, and continued daie and night till the sixt of Maie, wherein the said drawing was fullie ended.”

Stow, in his Annales, tells us of the next Lottery, 1585: “A lotterie for marvellous rich and beautifull armor was begunne to be drawne at London in S. Paules Churchyard, at the great West gate (an house of timber and boord being there erected for that purpose) on S. Peter's [3] day, in the morning, which lotterie continued in drawing day and night, for the space of two or three dayes.”

As far as I can learn, the next public lottery was that of 1612, and I quote once more from the Annales : “The King's maiestie in speciall favor for the present plantation of English Colonies in Virginia, granted a liberall Lottery, in which was contained five thousand pound in prizes certayne, besides rewardes of casualtie, and began to be drawne in a new built house at the West end of Paul's, the 29th of June 1612. But, of which Lottery, for want of filling uppe the number of lots, there were then taken out and throwne away three score thousand blanckes, without abating of any one prize; and by the twentith of July all was drawne and finished. This Lottery was so plainely carryed, and honestly performed, that it gave full satisfaction to all persons.Thomas Sharpliffe, a Taylor, of London, had the chiefe prize, viz. foure thousand Crownes in fayre plate, which was sent to his house in very stately manner: during the whole tyme of the drawing of this lottery there were alwaies present diuers worshipfull Knights and Esquiers, accompanied by sundry graue discreet Cittizens.”

There were three lotteries granted for the supply of water to the Metropolis, in 1627, 1631, and 1689, and a petition to hold a lottery for the same purpose in 1637, but this, I think, was not granted. There were many licences granted for various schemes, and there was one, called the Royal Oak lottery, for granting assistance to old Royalists, which seems to have been a swindle. Indeed, this may be said to have been the case with a good many of the Lotteries in Charles II.'s time, till, when Prince Rupert died, and his jewels were to be disposed of by lottery, the public would not subscribe unless the King consented to see that all was fair, as we see by the London Gazette, September 27—October 1, 1683:

“These are to give Notice, that the Jewels of his late Highness Prince Rupert, have been particularly valued and appraised by Mr Isaac Legouch, Mr Christopher Rosse, and Mr Richard Beauvoir, Jewellers, the whole amounting to Twenty Thousand Pounds, and will be sold by way of Lottery, each Lot to be Five Pounds. The biggest Prize will be a great Pearl Necklace valued at £8000, and none less than £100. A printed Particular of the said Appraisement, with their Division into Lots, will be delivered gratis  by Mr Francis Child, Goldsmith, at Temple Bar, London, into whose hands, such as are willing to be Adventurers, are desired to pay their Money, on, or about, the first day of November  next. As soon as the whole sum is paid in, a short day will be appointed (which ‘tis hoped will be before Christmas ) and notified in the Gazette, for the drawing thereof, which will be done in his Majesty's Presence, who is pleased to declare, that he, himself, will see all the Prizes put among the Blanks, and that the whole shall be managed with all Equity and Fairness; nothing being intended but the Sale of the said Jewels at a moderate Value.”

In another London Gazette  of Nov. 22/26, 1683, we are told how this Lottery will be drawn, and, as it is rare to have an English sovereign mixed up in such a speculation, I transcribe it:

“As soon as the Money is all come in, a day will be prefixed, and published for the drawing thereof, as has been formerly notified. In the morning of which day His Majesty will be pleased, publickly, in the Banquetting House, to see the Blanks told over, that they may not exceed their Number, and to read the Papers (which shall be exactly the same size as the Blanks) on which the Prizes are to be written; which, being rolled up in his presence, His Majesty will mix amongst the Blanks, as may, also, any of the Adventurers there present that shall desire it. This being done, a Child, appointed by His Majesty, or the Adventurers, shall, out of the Mass of Lots so mixed, take out the number that each Person adventures for, and put them into boxes (which shall be provided for the purpose) on the covers whereof, each Adventurer's Name shall be written with the number of Lots He or She adventures for; the Boxes to be filled in succession as the Money was paid in. As soon as all the lots are thus distributed, they shall be opened as fast as may be, and the prizes then and there delivered to those that win them; all which, ‘tis hoped, will be done and finished in one day.”

There was a Lottery, in which the subscription was a penny, and the Capital prize was One Thousand Pounds, drawn on 19th Oct. 1698, at the Dorset Garden Theatre, near Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, but when William III. came to the throne, it was seen that the Lottery was a very profitable thing, and the Government took it unto itself for its own purposes. In 1694, £1,000,000 was raised by Lottery, and in 1697, £1,400,000—but in 1699, by 10 and 11 Will. III., c. 17, lotteries were suppressed, the preamble to the Act stating, “That all such Lotteries, and all other Lotteries, are common and publick nuisances, and that all grants, patents, and licences for such Lotteries, or any other Lotteries, are void and against Law.”

It must have been about this time (for in 1698-9 three expeditions sailed from Scotland to Darien) that Ward wrote in The London Spy  a description of the Lottery fever in London:

“The Gazette  and Post-Papers  lay by Neglected, and nothing was Pur'd over in the Coffee Houses, but the Ticket-Catalogues ; No talking of the Jubilee, the want of Current Trade with France, or the Scotch  Settlement at Darien ; Nothing Buz'd about by the Purblind Trumpeters  of State News, but Blank  and BenefitMy Son had Five Pound in such a Lottery, but got nothing; my Daughter, says another, had but Five Shillings, and got the Twenty Pound Prize. People running up and down the Streets in Crowds and Numbers, as if one end of the Town was on Fire, and the other were running to help ‘em off with their Goods. One Stream of CoachmenFootmen,Prentice Boys, and Servant Wenches  flowing one way, with wonderful hopes of getting an estate for three pence. KnightsEsquiresGentlemen  and TradersMarry'd Ladies,Virgin MadamsJilts, etc.; moving on Foot, in SedansChariots, and Coaches, another way; with a pleasing Expectancy of getting Six Hundred a Year for a Crown.

“Thus were all the Fools  in Town so busily employed in running up and down from one Lottery, or another, that it was as much as London  could do to Conjure together such Numbers of Knaves  as might Cheat ‘em fast enough of their Money. The Unfortunate crying out, A Cheat, a Cheat, a Confounded Cheat, nothing of Fairness in't. The Fortunate, in opposition to the other, crying, 'Tis all Fair, all Fair; the Fairest Adventure that ever was drawn. And thus, every Body, according to their Success, Expressing variously their Sentiments; tho' the Losers, who may be said to be in the Wrong of it, to venture their Money, yet, were they most Right in their Conjectures of the Project, and the Gainers, who were in the Right of it, to hazard their Money, because they won, were most Wrong in their opinion of the matter. For I have much ado to forbear believing that Luck in a Bag  is almost as Honest as Fortune in a Wheel, or any other of the like Projects. Truly, says my Friend, I confess I cannot conceive any extraordinary Opinion of the Fairness of any Lottery, for I am apt to believe that whenever such a number of Fools  fall into a Knave's  hand, he will make the most of ‘em; and I think the Parliament  could not have given the Nation  greater Assurances of their especial Regard to the Welfare of the Publick, than by suppressing all Lotteries, which only serve to Buoy up the mistaken Multitude with Dreams of Golden Showers, to the Expence of that little Money, which, with hard Labour they have Earn'd; and often to the Neglect of their Business, which doubles the Inconveniency. The Gentry, indeed, might make it their Diversion, but the Common People  make it a great part of their Care and Business, hoping thereby to relieve a Necessitous Life; instead of which, they plunge themselves further into an Ocean of Difficulties. What if one Man in Ten Thousand gets Five Hundred Pounds, what Benefit is that to the rest, who have struggled hard for Fool 's Pence to make up that Sum, which, perhaps, falls to one who stood not in need of Fortune 's Favours.”

But the State Lotteries began again in Queen Anne's reign, for an Act (8 Anne, c. 4) was passed in 1710 authorising a loan of £1,500,000 by means of a lottery of 150,000 tickets at £10 each. The money was to be sunk, and 9 per cent. was allowed on it for 32 years, and the prizes were annuities from one of £1000 to 14s. a year, which latter was given as a consolation to every holder of a blank.

Luttrell tells us how greedily they were taken up. “21st Jan. 1710. Yesterday, books were opened at Mercer's Chapel for receiving subscriptions for the Lottery, and ‘tis said, above a Million is already subscribed; so that, ‘tis believed, ‘twill be full by Monday 7 night.” And he also tells us that “Mr Barnaby, who lately belonged to the 6 Clerk's Office, has got the £1000 per ann. ticket in the lottery.” This lottery was drawn by blue coat boys from Christ's Hospital, and from this time, until 1824 (except from 1814 to 1819), there was no year without a State Lottery.

There were Lotteries for everything, and to show how numerous they were take the advertisements in one paper, taken hap-hazard. The Tatler, Sep. 14/16, 1710: “Mr Stockton's Sale of Jewels, Plate, &c., will be drawn on Michaelmas Day.—The Lottery in Colson's Court will be drawn on the 21st inst.—The Sale of Goods to be seen at Mrs Butler's, &c., will certainly be drawn on Tuesday, the 19th inst.—Mrs Povy's Sale of Goods is put off to Saturday, 23rd inst.—Mrs Symond's Sale of Goods will begin on Wednesday, the 20th of this instant.—Mrs Guthridge's Sixpenny Sale of Goods, &c., continues to be drawn every Day.”

The prizes did not always fall to those who needed the money, as Swift writes to Stella about a son of Lord Abercorn. Aug. 29, 1711: “His second son has t'other day got a prize in the Lottery of Four Thousand Pounds, besides two small ones of two hundred pounds each; nay, the family was so fortunate, that my Lord bestowing one ticket, which is a hundred pounds, to one of his servants, who had been his page, the young fellow got a prize, which has made it another hundred.”

In 1721 private Lotteries were prescribed, by the 36th sec. of 8 Geo. I., c. 2, which imposed a penalty of £500 for carrying on such lotteries, in addition to any penalties inflicted by any former Acts; the offender being committed to prison for one year, and thenceforward until such times as the £500 should be fully paid and satisfied.

The first Westminster bridge was partially built through the instrumentality of a lottery, the drawing of which began on Dec. 8, 1740, at Stationers' Hall; and by an Act of Parliament (26 Geo. II., c. 22) passed in 1753, the nation purchased for £20,000, the library and collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and incorporated Sir Robert Cotton's library with it. Montague House was selected for their reception, and a lottery to provide for its purchase was got up; the subscription to which was £300,000 in tickets of £3 each. The Managers and Trustees of this Lottery were The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker, each of whom was to have £100 for his trouble.

In connection with this lottery was a gross fraud, and on 19th April 1755, Peter Leheup, one of the receivers of the Lottery was tried at the King's bench and found guilty, 1st, of receiving subscriptions before the day and hour advertised; 2nd, of permitting subscribers to use different names to cover the maximum of 20 tickets allowed to each holder; and 3rd, of disposing of the tickets which had been bespoke and not claimed, or were double-charged, instead of returning them to the managers. For these laches  he was, on the following 9th of May, fined £1000, which he immediately paid into Court.

In a lottery of 1767 a lady residing in Holborn was presented with a ticket by her husband, and so anxious was she for its success, that on the Sunday previous to the drawing, the clergyman gave out that “the prayers of the congregation are desired for the success of a person engaged in a new undertaking.”

[1]A catalogue of the MSS. in this room has been published in the Seventh Report of the Historical MS. Commission.


[3]June 29.

Twice  in the year 1775 were the blue coat boys, who drew the tickets from the lottery wheels, tampered with; and the following accounts are taken from the Annual Register of that year:

“1 June. A man was carried before the Lord Mayor, for attempting to bribe the two Blue Coat boys, who drew the Museum[1] lottery, to conceal a ticket, and bring it to him, promising he would, next day, let them have it again, when one of them was, it seems, to convey it back privately to the wheel, but without letting go his hold of it, and then produce it as if newly drawn; the man's intention being to insure it in all the offices against being drawn that day. But the boys were honest, gave notice of the intended fraud, and pointed out the delinquent, who, however, was discharged, as there is no law in being, to punish the offence.”

“5 Dec. By virtue of a warrant from Sir Charles Asgill, was brought before the magistrate, at Guildhall, the clerk of an eminent hop factor in Goodman's Fields, upon suspicion of being concerned with a person, not yet apprehended, in defrauding a lottery office keeper, near the ‘Change, of a large sum of money. This matter being undertaken by the Commissioners of the Lottery, the Solicitor of the Treasury appeared against the prisoner, and for him attended, as Counsel, Mr Cox.

“The first witness examined was the lottery office keeper, he said, that about a fortnight ago, the prisoner insured No. 21,481 six times over for the subsequent day of drawing; that the conversation he had with the prisoner at that time, and the seeming positiveness there appeared in the latter, that the ticket would come up, caused him to enquire at other lottery offices, when he found the same number insured, in the prisoner's name, at all the principal offices about the ‘Change; that the ticket was drawn the first hour of drawing the subsequent day. This, with his former suspicion, alarmed him, and he immediately went to Christ's Hospital, and saw the boy who drew the ticket; that he interrogated him, whether he had clandestinely taken that number out of the wheel, or whether he had been solicited to do so, which the boy positively denied; that, observing that he answered rather faintly, he importuned him to divulge the truth, which, after some hesitation, produced an acknowledgment of the fact.

“The next witness was the Blue Coat boy. He said that, about three weeks ago, the person who is not in custody, and whom he had known before he went to the Hospital, took him to a Coffee House, where they breakfasted together; that he wanted to know of the witness, whether it was possible to get a ticket out of the wheel; to which the latter answered, No. That being, afterwards, solicited for the same purpose, by him, to secrete a ticket, he, at length, promised to do so; that, accordingly, he took two at one time out of the wheel, gave one to the person who called it over, and put the other in his pocket; that the person who induced him to do it was then in the gallery, and nodded his head to the witness to signify when was a proper time; that, after the witness came out of the hall, he gave the ticket to the person who sat in the gallery, and who was then waiting for the witness in the Guildhall Yard; that the next time the witness drew the lottery, the person before mentioned returned him the ticket, which the witness put in the wheel, and drew out the same day; that he did this three severaltimes, and received from the person for whom he did it, several half guineas; that he has heard the prisoner's name mentioned by him, but never heard the latter acknowledge any connection between them in insurance; and, never before, saw the prisoner.

“The prisoner acknowledged he insured the ticket 79 times for one day. The mother of the person who was not apprehended, was next examined; she proved an acquaintance between her son and the prisoner; but denied any remembrance of ever hearing the latter mention anything relating to insurance. The prisoner was discharged.

“It is said that the person who absconded, got about £400 by the above fraud; and would have got £3000, had he been paid in all the offices where he insured.”

But, that such a fraud should not be perpetrated again, the Lords of the Treasury, on 12th Dec. 1775, issued an Order, of which the following is an extract:

It is therefore ordered , for preventing the like wicked practices in future, that every boy, before he is suffered to put his hand into either wheel, be brought by the proclaimer to the managers on duty, for them to see that the bosoms and sleeves of his coat be closely buttoned, his pockets sewed up, and his hands examined ; and that, during the time of his being on duty, he shall keep his left hand in his girdle behind him, and his right hand open, with his fingers extended : and the proclaimer is not to suffer him, at any time, to leave the wheel, without, first, being examined by the Manager nearest him.”

They also “requested of the Treasurer of Christ's Hospital, not to make known who are the twelve boys nominated for drawing the lottery, till the morning before the drawing begins; which said boys are all to attend every day, and the two who are to go on duty at the wheels, are to be taken promiscuously from amongst the whole number, by either of the secretaries, without observing any regular course, or order; so that no boy shall know when it will be his turn to go to either wheel.”

À propos  of insuring lottery tickets, Horace Walpole writes to the Countess of Ossory, 17th Dec. 1780: “As folks in the country love to hear of London fashions, know, Madam, that the reigning one amongst the quality, is to go, after the opera, to the lottery offices, where their Ladyships bet with the keepers. You choose any number you please; if it does not come up next day, you pay five guineas; if it does, receive forty, or in proportion to the age of the tirage. The Duchess of Devonshire, in one day, won nine hundred pounds. General Smith, as the luckiest of all mites, is of the most select parties, and chooses the numeros.”

On Jan. 6, 1777, two Jews were brought before the Lord Mayor, charged with counterfeiting a lottery ticket; but, as they brought plenty of false witnesses, they were acquitted. But one, Daniel Denny, was not so lucky on Feb. 24, the same year, for he was convicted of the same crime. The Annual Register  for this year says:

“The following is a true state of the different methods of getting money by lottery office keepers, and other ingenious persons, who have struck out different plans of getting money by the State Lottery of 1777.

“First, His Majesty's Royal Letters Patent for securing the Property of the purchasers.

“Secondly, A few office keepers who advertise ‘By authority of Parliament' to secure your property in shares and chances.

“Thirdly, Several schemes for shares and chances, only entitling the purchasers to all prizes above twenty pounds.

“Fourthly, A bait for those who can only afford to venture a shilling.

“Then come the ingenious sett of lottery merchants, viz. Lottery magazine proprietors—Lottery tailors—Lottery stay makers—Lottery glovers—Lottery hat makers—Lottery tea merchants—Lottery snuff and tobacco merchants—Lottery handkerchiefs—Lottery bakers—Lottery barbers (where a man, for being shaved, and paying threepence, may stand a chance of getting ten pounds)—Lottery shoe blacks—Lottery eating houses; one in Wych Street, Temple-bar, where, if you call for six penny worth of roast, or boiled beef, you receive a note of hand, with a number, which, should it turn out fortunate, may entitle the eater of the beef to sixty guineas—Lottery oyster stalls, by which the fortunate may get five guineas for three penny worth of oysters. And, to complete this curious catalogue, an old woman, who keeps a sausage stall in one of the little alleys leading to Smithfield, wrote up, in chalk, Lottery sausages, or, five shillings to be gained for a farthing relish.”

In 1782 an Act was passed, whereby lottery office keepers were to pay a licence of £50, under a penalty of £100 if they did not do so.

Sir Ashton Lever disposed of his Museum by lottery in 1758 by Act of Parliament, and another Act was procured to dispose of, by lottery, a large diamond, the property of the deceased Lord Pigot, valued at £30,000. This lottery was drawn on Jan. 2, 1801, and the winner of the prize was a young man, name unknown. It was, afterwards, sold at Christie's on May 10, 1802, for 9500 guineas. It was again sold, and is said to have passed into the possession of Messrs Rundell and Bridge, the Court jewellers, who are reported to have sold it to an Egyptian Pasha for £30,000.

But, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, a system of private lotteries, called “little goes” had sprung up, and they are thus described in the Times  of 22nd July 1795:

“Amongst the various species of Gaming that have ever been practised, we think none exceeds the mischiefs, and calamities that arise from the practice of private lotteries, which, at present, are carrying on, in various parts of the town, to very alarming extents, much to the discredit of those whose province it is to suppress such nefarious practices, as they cannot be ignorant of such transactions. ‘The little go,' which is the technical term for a private lottery, is calculated only for the meridian of those understandings, who are unused to calculate and discriminate between right and wrong, and roguery and fair dealing; and, in this particular case, it is those who compose the lower order of society, whom it so seriously affects, and, on whom, it is chiefly designed to operate. No man of common sense can suppose that the lottery wheels are fair and honest, or that the proprietors act upon principles anything like honour, or honesty; for, by the art, and contrivance, of the wheels, they are so constructed, with secret springs, and the application of gum, glue, &c., in the internal part of them, that they can draw the numbers out, or keep them in, at pleasure, just as it suits their purposes; so that the ensurer, robbed and cajoled, by such unfair means, has not the most distant chance of ever winning; the whole being a gross fraud, and imposition, in the extreme. We understand the most notorious of these standards of imposition, are situated in Carnaby Market, Oxford Road, in the Borough, Islington, Clerkenwell, and various other places, most of which are under the very nose of Magistracy, in seeming security, bidding defiance to law, and preying upon the vitals of the poor and ignorant.

“We hope the Magistrates of each jurisdiction, and those who possess the same power, will perform their duty on behalf of the poor, over whom they preside, and put a stop to such a growing, and alarming evil, of such pernicious and dangerous tendency; particularly as the proprietors are well-known bad characters, consisting of needy beggars, desperate swindlers, gamblers, sharpers, notorious thieves, and common convicted felons; most of whose names stand recorded in the Newgate Calendar for various offences of different descriptions.”

11th Aug. 1795. “On Friday night last, in consequence of searching warrants from the parochial magistrates of St James's Westminster, upwards of 30 persons were apprehended at the house of one M'Call, No. 2 Francis Street, near Golden Square, and in the house of J. Knight, King Street, where the most destructive practices to the poor were carrying on, that of Private Lotteries  (called Little Goes). Two wheels, with the tickets, were seized on the premises. Upon examination of those persons, who proved to be the poor deluded objects who had been there plundered, they were reprimanded, and discharged.

“The wives of many industrious mechanics, by attending these nefarious houses, have not only been duped out of their earnings (which ought to have been applied to the providing bread for their families), but have even pawned their beds, wedding rings, and almost every article they were possessed of, for that purpose.”

Here are two anecdotes of the winners of the great prize, which was, usually, £20,000, from the Times :

27th Dec. 1797. “Dr B., a physician at Lime  (Dorset), a few days since, being under pecuniary embarrassment, and his house surrounded by bailiffs, made his escape by a window, into a neighbour's house, from whence he fled to London. The furniture was seized, and the sale actually commenced, when it was stopped by a letter, stating that the Doctor, upon his arrival in London, found himself the proprietor of the £20,000 prize. We guarantee the truth of this fact.”

19th Mar. 1798. “The £20,000 prize, drawn on Friday, is divided amongst a number of poor persons: a female servant in Brook Street, Holborn, had a sixteenth; a woman who keeps a fruit stall in Gray's Inn Lane, another; a third is possessed by a servant of the Duke of Roxburghe; a fourth by a Chelsea carrier of vegetables to Covent Garden; one-eighth belongs to a poor family in Rutlandshire, and the remainder is similarly divided.”

In 1802, old Baron d'Aguilar, the Islington miser, was requested, by a relation, to purchase a particular ticket, No. 14,068; but it had been sold some few days previously. The baron died on the 16th of March following, and the number was the first drawn ticket on the 24th, and, as such, entitled to £20,000. The baron's representatives, under these circumstance, published an advertisement, offering a reward of £1000 to any person who might have found the said ticket, and would deliver it up. Payment was stopped. A wholesale linen draper in Cornhill (who had ordered his broker to buy him ten tickets, which he deposited in a chest), on copying the numbers for the purpose of examining them, made a mistake in one figure, and called it 14,168 instead of 14,068, which was the £20,000 prize. The lottery being finished, he sent his tickets to be examined and marked. To his utter astonishment, he then found the error in the number copied on his paper. On his demanding payment at the lottery office, a caveat  was entered by old d'Aguilar's executors; but, an explanation taking place, the £20,000 was paid to the lucky linen draper.

Although these lotteries were a great source of revenue to Government, and, consequently, relieved the taxpayer to the amount of their profit, it began to dawn upon the public that this legalised gambling was somewhat immoral; and, in 1808, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed, to inquire how far the evil attending lotteries had been remedied by the laws passed respecting the same; and, in their Report, they said that “the foundation of the lottery system is so radically vicious, that your Committee feel convinced that under no system of regulations, which can be devised, will it be possible for Parliament to adopt it as an efficacious source of revenue, and, at the same time, divest it of all the evils which it has, hitherto, proved so baneful a source.”

Yet they continued to be held; but, when the Lottery Act of 1818 was passing through the House of Commons, Mr Parnell protested against it, and, in the course of his speech, suggested that the following epitaph should be inscribed on the tomb of the Chancellor of the Exchequer: “Here lies the Right Hon. Nicholas Vansittart, once Chancellor of the Exchequer; the patron of Bible Societies, the builder of Churches, a friend to the education of the poor, an encourager of Savings' banks, and—a supporter of Lotteries!”

And, in 1819, when the lottery for that year was being discussed, Mr Lyttleton moved:

1. That by the establishment of State lotteries, a spirit of gambling, injurious, in the highest degree, to the morals of the people, is encouraged and provoked.

2. That such a habit, manifestly weakening the habits of industry, must diminish the permanent sources of the public revenue.

3. That the said lotteries have given rise to other systems of gambling, which have been but partially repressed by laws, whose provisions are extremely arbitrary, and their enforcement liable to the greatest abuse.

4. That this House, therefore, will no longer authorise the establishment of State lotteries under any system of regulations whatever.

Needless to say, these resolutions were not passed, but the Lottery was on its last legs, for, in the Lottery Act of 1823, provision was made for its discontinuance after the drawing of the lottery sanctioned in that Act. Yet this was not adhered to, and a “last lottery” was decreed to be drawn in 1826. Its date was originally fixed for the 18th of July, but the public did not subscribe readily, and it was postponed until the 18th of October, and, on that day it was drawn at Cooper's Hall, Basinghall Street. Here is an epitaph which was written on it:

In Memory of
The State of Lottery ,
the last of a long line
whose origin in England commenced
in the year 1569,
which, after a series of tedious complaints,
on the
18th day of October 1826.
During a period of 257 years, the family
flourished under the powerful protection
of the
British Parliament;
the Minister of the day continuing to
give them his support for the improvement
of the revenue.
As they increased, it was found that their
continuance corrupted the morals,
and encouraged a spirit
of Speculation and Gambling among the lower
classes of the people;
thousands of whom fell victims to their
insinuating and tempting allurements.
Many philanthropic individuals
in the Senate,
at various times, for a series of years,
pointed out their baneful influence,
without effect;
His Majesty's Ministers
still affording them their countenance
and protection.
The British Parliament
being, at length, convinced of their
mischievous tendency,
His Majesty GEORGE IV.
on the 9th of July 1823,
pronounced sentence of condemnation
on the whole race;
from which time they were almost
Neglected by the British Public.
Very great efforts were made by the
Partisans and friends of the family to
the public feeling in favour of the last
of the race, in vain:
It continued to linger out the few
moments of its existence without attention,
or sympathy, and finally terminated
its career unregretted by any
virtuous mind.

In 1836 an Act was passed “to prevent the advertising of Foreign and illegal lotteries,” but circulars still come from Hamburg and other places. In 1844 an Act was passed “to indemnify persons connected with Art Unions, and others, against certain penalties.” Still there were minor lotteries and raffles, and the law was seldom set in force against them, any more than it is now when applied to charitable purposes; yet in 1860 one Louis Dethier, was haled up at Bow Street for holding a lottery for £10,000 worth of Twelfth Cakes, and was only let off on consenting to stop it at once, and nowadays the lottery is practically dead, except when some petty rogue is taken up for deluding children with prize sweets.

[1]Cox's Museum. A collection of Automata, &c.