Course:History 344 Nasty Families/Estates and gentry income/Lottery

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History of the Lottery

The English Lottery began in the sixteenth century during the reign of Elizabeth I. The early lottery was the first of which had a prize for every ticket sold. A single ticket was sold for 10 schillings and there were roughly 40,000 tickets or plates that were sold per lottery.1 The first lotteries that were held in Europe originated either from Holland or Italy during the fifteenth century. Early Roman lotteries were similar to the modern idea and concept of gift giving at Christmas. When the lottery reemerged in Europe it became a mode for gambling and fundraising.2

The lottery was adopted in England in 1566 with the initiation from Elizabeth I. Even through the selling of tickets took place in 1566, the actual draw did not take place for three years later in 1569. The original prize schedule for this lottery included many prizes of all shapes and forms. The first prize winner would receive 50 pounds worth of Gilt silver in plate form as well as 5000 pounds. Of that 5000 pounds, 3000 pounds would be readily given in pounds alongside 700 pounds worth of plate silver and lastly the remainder in quality tapestries. 3 The second prize was the exact same as the first prize just in a lower amount; 3500 pounds, 2000 in ready money, 600 pounds in plate silver and lastly the remainder in quality tapestries. The rest of the prizes would be similar as the first and second but would gradually and continually dwindle in prize amount until eventually a prize of 2 shillings and 6 pence was provided in cash. 4 Apart from prize winnings, those who took part in the lottery would receive protection provisions for one full month following the draw and the feast of Saint Bartholomew. The provisions stated that those who took part in the lottery shall not be molested or arrested for any crime other than piracy, treason, murder, breaching of her majesties peace, or any other felonies. This provision seems to have been put in place during the travel time in which those who took part in the lottery traveled back to their homes potentially carrying winnings up to 5000 pounds. 5

Private Lotteries

Lotteries primarily existed in the monarchic domain for the purpose of "fundraising" taxes. Lotteries also existed in private domains in which individuals and enterprises would hold lotteries. The first major private lottery took place in 1612 through the Virginia Company Lottery. This particular lottery had a grand prize of 4000 pounds which was quite a significant amount and on par with the levels of the monarchic prizes. Both knights and esquires often accompanied the lottery draw and the delivery of any winnings in a stately manner. 6 Most private lotteries were not anywhere near as large as the Virginia Company Lottery but still existed. Ultimately the total earnings from the Virginia lottery reached approximately 29,000 pounds.7

In 1630 another prominent private lottery was held with the goal of raising proceeds towards building an aqueduct into London. Since this lottery was outwardly beneficial it received favor from the crown that was due to an annual 4000 pound payment to the crown. This lottery also gained royal favor because it provided an opportunity to have clean accessible water for the city of London. 8

Private lotteries could also be held for the purpose of raising funds for gentry families that wished to improve their land or businesses. The Early of Pembroke contacted the King directly and petitioning that he host a lottery to raise funds to repair the fishing vessels that were damaged along the coast by the Spanish; The Earl of Pembroke succeeded and was granted permission by Charles I.9

How to Host

In order to host a lottery it would be necessary to gain the permission from the mayor of the town in which the lottery was going to be held in. Often times rural areas that might span or border multiple cities, the permission of multiple mayors would be required or alternatively the permission of the Lord Treasurer would suffice. If permission was not granted, it was possibly to petition to the King in hopes for his granted permission to hold a lottery. After receiving the required permission a venue must be secured. In the case of the 1612 Virginia Company lottery, a home was actually bought for the purpose of holding the lottery. This would have been the location that people could partake and could claim their winnings. After securing both requirements, it was necessary to advertise the lottery, the potential winnings, the logistics and how to partake in the lottery; this would be advertised through local print.10 The print would be sure to mention methods to purchase tickets in which if one could not afford to purchase an entire ticket by themselves, they could purchase either 1/4 of the ticket cost or even 1/8. This depended on the potential value there would be in selling shares in a single lottery ticket.

Anecdotal aside: From what I have read and the images I have seen it is important that the tickets and flyers are mainly visual in description so that all are able to understand that a lottery is being held.

1 Progress Publishing Co., "Lottery History." Accessed February 1, 2012. �2 Ashton, John. A History of English Lotteries. London: The Leadenhall Press, 1893. (accessed February 2, 2012). p.3� 3 John Ashton. p.6� 4 John Ashton p.9 �5 John Ashton p.12 �6 John Ashton p.29 �7 Archibald Marks� 8 John Ashton p.31 �9 John Ashton p.34 �10 John Ashton p.24-34