Printer Friendly

"DAMN YOU, YOU INFORMING BITCH." VOX POPULI AND THE UNMAKING OF THE GIN ACT OF 1736.

On August 16, 1738, Sarah Miller, wife of Michael Miller, stood outside the residence of Anne and George Adams and started screaming. She was, it was later claimed, there "to deter the said Anne Adams and others from ... giving Evidence against any person or persons who Should Offend against the Statute ... for laying a duty upon the Retalers of Spirituous Liquors ... and thereby to defeat the Execution of the said Act and to render the same useless and ineffectual." "Damn you, you informing Bitch," she is alleged to have exclaimed, and "Speaking the said Words great Numbers of Persons ... to the Number of Twenty did then and there Assemble themselves" outside the Adams' residence on London's Shoe Lane. Once the crowd was gathered, Sarah sought "to Excite the said persons ... to do some Bodily harm to the said Anne Adams," and toward that end she again identified Anne as an "informing Bitch who goes partners with the Informers ..." "You bitch," she added, "you had Share of the money ... which you bought your Scarlett cloack with ... "It was at this point that Anne Adams became truly frightened, and a few minutes later she miscarried. She was, it was further alleged, "in danger of losing her own life also." Unmoved, "Sarah Miller did then and there continue with the aid [of a] "1 Great Number of persons ... insulting and abusing of the said Ann Adams ..." [1] When it was all over, Anne decided to prosecute Sarah Miller, who was duly indicted in October of 1738, only to be acquitted by a jury two months later. [2]

This paper examines how communities in Hanoverian London punished the informers in their midst, and in the process helped subvert legislation designed to reform the morals of the working poor. The same materials shed considerable light on the rules of everyday life in Hanoverian London, and as such afford a glimpse into the workings of popular culture in an urban context. Our specific questions are fourfold. First, which statutory inducements caused Anne Adams and others like her to transgress the rules of her community by informing against its members, and how did the same inducements affect everyday life in greater London? To answer this pair of questions we examine the background to the Gin Acts of 1733, 1736, 1737, and 1738, and measure the impact of each on prosecutions brought by informers, ensuing attacks on informers and their agents, and per capita consumption of domestic distilled spirits. Second, which rules of the community did the informers violate? To answer this particular question we examine how the informers entrapped their victims, and then examine how these stratagems violated basic notions of community, obligation, and generosity in Hanoverian London. Third, which groups took it upon themselves to uphold the rules of the community? To answer this particular question we analyze popular attacks on informers, with an emphasis on the composition and behavior of the crowds involved. And fourth, to what extent did Sarah Miller and others like her contribute to the unmaking of the Gin Act of 1736, rendering "the same useless and ineffectual"? To answer this final question we examine the different factors that contributed to the unmaking of the Gin Act of 1736 just four years after it became law, with a particular emphasis on how the various agencies responsible for enforcing the Act became the mediators of political change.

These questions place our study on the intersection between the morality of the elites of early Hanoverian England and the morality of the people whom they governed. They address the larger question of how legislation and popular culture interact, each modifying the other in the process. By the same token, our materials offer a new perspective on plebeian culture in eighteenth-century London, and on the extent to which it intersected with the high or patrician culture of the country's elites. Of particular interest is the dialectic of "patrician culture" and "plebeian culture," as articulated by E.P. Thompson. [3] We look for and find both in a complex urban environment, the former primarily in the form of the legislative acts and other public statements issued by the nation's political elite; at the same time, we will also find mediators between the two cultures. These players, in turn, were to play a key role in articulating the standards of the larger community in such a way that their political masters c ould understand and act on them without seeming to submit to what one source described as "the rough discipline of the rabble." [4]

The study is set in greater London, even though informers would appear to have been active wherever distilled spirits were widely distributed. Two women in Norwich, described as "very expert in their Business," entrapped "several Top-Distillers, and a great number more of petty Traders in Spirituous Liquors." [5] An informer in Bristol ended up "set in the Stocks," and "while he was there, the Mob brought a Pitch-Kettle, pitch'd him all over, and afterwards roll'd him in Feathers ..." [6] London, however, was by far the nation's largest market for distilled spirits, meaning that it offered professional informers an especially high concentration of potential victims. [7] Moreover, the sheer size and concentration of the population afforded the same informers unique opportunities to form partnerships and operate in relative anonymity as they moved from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of new victims.

The study's temporal parameters also require a few words. The popular demonstrations that interest us occurred between 1737 and 1741, and would appear to have ceased altogether at least two years before the Gin Act of 1736 was repealed. We have excluded the scattered demonstrations that occurred just after the Gin Act of 1736 became law. This was because they were isolated and few in number, and because they already feature in a very thorough study by George Rude. [8] Moreover, these particular demonstrations did not target informers or the local officers responsible for enforcing the Act. Also excluded are the Gin Acts of 1743 and 1751. Both, it is true, offered rewards to informers, but the former effectively limited its scope to the very poorest of the hawkers of distilled spirits while making no provision for paying informers when defendants were too poor to do so themselves. The latter Act, in turn, encountered very little resistance. The conventional wisdom is that the Gin Act of 1751 succeeded because it was well-crafted, and avoided repeating the mistakes of past Gin Acts, [9] but it probably owed most, if not all, of its success to a deteriorating standard of living in the second half of the century, [10] brought on by increases in both the population and the price of bread and other consumables. [11]

Sources

The sample of retailers comes from two tallies. The first was conducted in Middlesex between 1735 and 1736, [12] and the second was conducted in London proper in 1751. [13] Both tallies were intended to provide a statistical basis for imposing new restrictions on the retail trade in distilled spirits, and for this reason they list licensed as well as unlicensed retailers. The sample contains 2,379 retailers, 265 of whom operated in London proper. There is reason to believe that in the case of Middlesex the constables and headboroughs in some parishes deliberately under reported the number of unlicensed retailers in their respective communities. In Blackwall, for example, only four retailers were listed as unlicensed; of these, one was described as "Sett up at Christmas ... he has ben at Justice Presently," while another, it was claimed, "wants to have A License." [14]

The sample of individuals charged under the Gin Act of 1736 was put together from several different sources. Unlike the sample of retailers, which is complete for London for the year 1751 and reasonably complete for Middlesex for the years 1735 and 1736, the sample of defendants is spotty, and probably amounts to less than a tenth of those charged within greater London over the lifetime of the Act. There are no records of the 5,000 or so individuals reportedly tried before the commissioners of Excise, while the justices of the peace did not routinely record summary convictions under the Gin Act of 1736. This leaves the historian with calendars of commitments to local houses of correction, which are complete for Southwark, [15] and nearly complete for Westminster. [16] There are no comparable records for London and Middlesex. Missing from the calendars are individuals who were acquitted or who were able to avoid incarceration by paying [pounds]10 or by failing to appear for trial. Reports submitted to the Pri vy Council list all individuals charged under the Gin Act of 1736, but are limited to April of 1738 through January of 1739 for Westminster, [17] and to April through June of 1738 for the Tower Division [18] and the Liberty of the Tower of London. [19] These three reports are our source for individuals who were acquitted or who failed to appear for trial. The same reports, along with scattered entries in parish registers, [20] are also our source for offenders who were able to avoid incarceration by paying [pounds]10 upon conviction.

Where appropriate, prosecutors in legal actions against informers have also been added to our data set of persons charged under the Gin Act of 1736. Here the sources consist of scattered indictments from the Public Record Office, the Corporation of London Records Office, the Corporation of London Metropolitan Archives, and the Surrey Record Office, as well as one case heard at the Old Bailey. [21] Prosecutors in these actions had to pay the costs of prosecution, which could be considerable, and so we may safely assume that all or most of the individuals in this subset were comfortably middle-class. [22] Putting it all together, we have 927 defendants in our sample, with 593 from Westminster, 236 from Southwark, 96 from Middlesex, and just two from London proper.

The clerk who recorded the names of prisoners at the Westminster house of correction often named the individual or individuals who had prosecuted them. This is where we got the names and occupations of most of the informers in our sample. We also included all informers named in indictments for perjury or extortion pursuant to the Gin Act of 1736. There were up to three informers in any one case, and for this reason our sample is grouped into three arrays. Because there were networks of professional informers, many names repeat within and often across the three arrays. The gross count of informers for all three arrays is 513.

Indictments from the Corporation of London Metropolitan Archives, the Corporation of London Records Office, the Surrey Record Office, and the Public Record Office account for most entries in our sample of informers charged with perjury or extortion pursuant to the Gin Act of 1736. Many of the same individuals are named in contemporary newspapers, which are also the source for the remaining entries in the sample. The newspapers consulted were: The Daily Post, The London Daily Post, The Daily Journal, The Grub-Street Journal, The Old Whig, The Universal Spectator, and Read's Weekly Journal. The same newspapers, in turn, account for most of the entries in our sample of riots and other actions against informers or against officers attempting to arrest individuals charged under the Gin Act of 1736. These are supplemented by indictments from the archives just mentioned. Newspapers account for the majority of the entries in this particular sample because very few of the ringleaders in question were ever apprehended . The two sources in combination give us a count of 57 attacks on informers, and 48 indictments for perjury or extortion.

Legislative variables

Informers figure prominently in English law from the late medieval and early modern periods, and were only formally abolished in 1951. [23] They operated in the absence of strong external mechanisms for apprehending and prosecuting malefactors, [24] and were rewarded primarily in the prosecution of regulatory or economic offences, including evasion of excise duties. In the late seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth century, rewards to informers were gradually increased, consistent with a growing concern over the incidence of crime, [25] and in the first third of the eighteenth century the Societies for the Reformation of Manners were to make extensive use of informers in the prosecution of vice. [26]

The Gin Acts of 1733, 1736, 1737, 1738, 1743, and 1751 all relied on informers for their enforcement, and in doing so effectively merged the use of informers in prosecuting regulatory or economic offences with the use of informers in prosecuting vice. Of the six Gin Acts just mentioned, only three, that of 1736 and the amendments made to it in 1737 and 1738, contained sufficient inducements to cause large numbers of men and women to become professional informers. This raises the question of which legislative variables worked, and why.

Three rules emerge. First, the number of potential offenders had to be large. This was because professional informers always worked under a system of diminishing returns: of the total population of potential offenders, only some would make the mistake of being caught in violation of the law, and of these, only some would actually be convicted. At the same time, the informer had shown his or her hand in the process regardless of its outcome, meaning that he or she would have to look farther afield for the next victim. This was because it was both unsafe and unprofitable for an informer to return to the same address or even to the same neighborhood once he or she was identified as such. Second, the rewards themselves had to be substantial. In the case of the Gin Acts of 1733, 1736, 1737, and 1738, informers received [pounds]5 for each conviction. This was, by contemporary standards, a small fortune, exceeding the annual wages of many female domestics in the capital. [27] And third, payment had to be guaranteed , whether from the defendant or from an agency mandated to pay on the defendant's behalf. The next task is to apply these three rules to the Gin Acts of 1733, 1736, 1737, and 1738, measuring the impact of each on prosecutions brought by informers, ensuing attacks on informers and their agents, and per capita consumption of distilled spirits.

The Gin Act of 1733 became law on 24 June of that year. [28] Like the Gin Act of 1729, [29] the Act limited sales of distilled spirits to licensed establishments, and explicitly forbade sales of the same "about the streets in any wheelbarrow, or upon the water in any ship, boat or vessel." Violators of this clause in the act were subject to summary conviction, meaning that they could be tried by a single justice of the peace, and violators were subject to a penalty of [pounds]10, half of which went to the informer, and half to the local overseer of the poor. Violators who refused to pay the penalty or who were too poor to do so were to be sentenced to one to three months' hard labor at the local house of correction.

The inducements contained in the Act proved insufficient to attract informers. This was because informers were paid only if the petty retailers whom they denounced paid the penalty mandated by the Act, and few, if any, had the means to do so. [30] As a consequence, the Gin Act of 1733 failed in its twofold goal of limiting the retail distribution and the consumption of distilled spirits, as is illustrated in Figure 1, and over the next three years pressure mounted for the enactment of further restrictions on retailers. This culminated in the passage of the Gin Act of 1736, which became law on 29 September of that year. [31]

Like the Gin Act of 1733, the Gin Act of 1736 mandated a penalty of [pounds] 10 for retailing distilled spirits in public places. Half of this continued to go to the informer, and the other half continued to go to the local overseer of the poor. Violators who would not or could not pay the penalty were to be sentenced to two months' hard labor at the local house of correction, in which case neither the informer nor the local overseer was compensated. These clauses were only supposed to apply to individuals who retailed distilled spirits in public places, and not to individuals who retailed out of their own homes. Individuals in the latter category fell under the jurisdiction of the commissioners of Excise, and were subject to a penalty of [pounds]100 for each violation. In practice the distinction was frequently blurred, with the result that established retailers who should have been tried before the commissioners of Excise were often tried by a local justice of the peace instead. [32] At the same time, the Act raised the annual fee for retailing distilled spirits to [pounds]50. Only 20 such licenses were purchased over the lifetime of the Act, [33] which meant that the thousands of publicans and shopkeepers who continued to retail distilled spirits in violation of the Act were now vulnerable to being entrapped and denounced by informers. Unlike the hawkers targeted by the Gin Act of 1733, most retailers in this class were able to pay [pounds]10 to avoid incarceration, with two predictable results: informers now had sufficient incentive to denounce retailers, [34] as is illustrated in Figure 1, and per capita consumption momentarily declined in response to active enforcement of the Act, as is also illustrated in Figure 1.

In balance, however, the Gin Act of 1736 failed to achieve its objectives. Per capita consumption dropped only temporarily, in large part because the Act provided no financial incentive for prosecuting the thousands of paupers who hawked distilled spirits in public places. At the same time, prosecutions of middle-class retailers were sufficiently numerous to provoke a backlash against informers and the various excisemen and constables who assisted them, as is illustrated in Figure 1.

What made these attacks especially alarming was that they occurred against a backdrop of recent and more serious riots in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. As such they gave the appearance of forming part of a larger challenge to an already unpopular government. [35] Lord Hervey, writing about the summer of 1736, remembered "a licentious, riotous, seditious, and almost ungovernable spirit in the people," manifest "in many tumults and disorders, in different shapes, and in several parts of the kingdom." [36] These included food riots in the west, followed by riots in Spitalfields against Irish laborers. The latter riots occurred at the end of July, and very rapidly evolved into a demonstration of support for the pretender James III. Equally alarming was an explosion that had occurred in Westminster Hall on 14 July. In it copies of five Acts of Parliament, including the pending Gin Act of 1736, were detonated, ostensibly at the behest "of the citizens and tradesmen of London, Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark." [37] These incidents account for the extraordinary precautions taken by the government when the Gin Act of 1736 became law two months later. [38] The government succeeded in averting any serious demonstrations against the Act, but faced new challenges to its authority when the so-called Porteous riots erupted in Edinburgh at the end of the year.

The Porteous riots figure in our narrative because they account in no small measure for why the government felt that scattered attacks on informers constituted a serious and direct challenge to its authority, especially since the riots in Edinburgh happened to coincide with the earliest attacks on informers in greater London. [39] Riots past and present were to dominate the king's address to the House of Commons on 1 February 1737, [40] and were also the subject of an extended debate in the House of Lords one week later. [41]

Attacks on informers and the officers who assisted them increased over the next six months, as is illustrated in Figure 2, By August the London Excise Office reported that it was in danger of being unable to enforce the Act, "As outrages of this kind, if not speedily suppress'd must necessarily tend to deter all persons whatsoever from giving ... Informations for the future " [42] The Office accordingly requested funds for publishing an advertisement "offering ... a Reward ... for discovering the Persons, who have been or shall hereafter be guilty of the like riotous and disorderly proceedings ... "The request was readily granted, [43] the reward being set at [pounds]20 for each conviction. [44] No one, however, stepped forward, and attacks on informers and officers continued unabated.

For its part, Parliament enacted two supplemental Gin Acts, one on 24 June 1737, [45] and one on 24 June 1738 [46] The two Acts specifically targeted "persons of little or no substance," toward which end they authorized the commissioners of Excise to pay informers [pounds]5 when convicted retailers refused to do so themselves. The same retailers were now to be whipped before being discharged from the local house of correction, although this particular clause, apart from attracting sporadic attention in contemporary newspapers and judicial documents, would appear to have had no effect whatsoever in deterring hawkers. The Gin Act of 1738 also made it a felony to attack an informer, the punishment for which was seven years' transportation to the colonies in America.

The Gin Act of 1737 and the addendum made to it the following year achieved their stated objectives for about a year. Thousands of petty retailers were prosecuted during this period of time, and the number of reported attacks on informers fell precipitously from the second half of 1738 on, presumably in response to the especially severe punishment mandated by the Gin Act of 1738. Then, as is illustrated in Figure 1, prosecutions for illegal sales came to a virtual halt, even as per capita consumption increased sharply. At the same time, the pool of potential victims was starting to shrink, which is to say that large numbers of retailers, having already been prosecuted, were able to identify and either evade or punish the informers in their midst.

By 1741, the Gin Act of 1736 was a dead letter, although it and the amendments made to it in 1737 and 1738 were to remain in force until March of 1743. [47] The Gin Act of 1743 continued to impose a penalty of [pounds]10 on illegal hawkers, and continued to award half of the amount to informers. At the same time, the Act reduced the fee for licensing distilled spirits to just 20 shillings a year, and made no provision for paying informers when convicted retailers were too poor to do so themselves. The first provision effectively reduced the population of unlicensed retailers to the very poor, while the second provision effectively removed any financial incentive to prosecute them. The clock had, for all intents and purposes, been set back to 1733.

The informers in action

In only a few instances do we find that informers operated out of spite. Sarah Jones, Elizabeth Armstrong, and Mary Jackson, three notorious informers, are quoted as saying that "Mary Leonard of Hammersmith, had been informed against by them, but she had escaped; yet nevertheless they would make her pay for it, right or wrong, for that she had affronted them, and had made them spend 6 s. in Coach-hire ... " [48] A club of journeymen shoemakers is supposed to have expelled one of its members for "having given an Information to a Magistrate." The journeyman "own'd the Charge to be true, but insisting that it was done merely in Revenge to an Injury done his Wife, rather than for the sake of Reward, he therefore hop'd they would excuse it, and he would never be guilty of the like again ... " [49] But again, these are exceptions to a very basic rule: informers chose to inform as long as the financial rewards for doing so outweighed the risks.

Nor do we find any informers motivated by a wish to reform the morals of the working poor. This sets them apart from the informers employed by the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, and marks them as essentially secular, subscribing neither to the morality of the larger community nor to that of their masters. This is an important point, for it helps explain why members of the middle class were willing to support the Gin Acts in principle, but were suspicious of informers as agents of enforcement.

Partnerships among informers

Our sample contains 160 instances in which two informers cooperated, and 16 instances in which three informers cooperated, three being the maximum number of informers in any one prosecution. That leaves 146 instances in which informers worked on their own, although many of the same individuals are to be found collaborating on other occasions. In 36 instances, men and women worked together, entering drinking establishments under the guise of being drinking companions; and in 36 instances women collaborated with other women, again under the guise of being drinking companions. This compares to 33 instances in which men collaborated with other men. Among informers who worked on their own we have 73 males and 53 females.

The social networks of the informers feature in a separate study; for now, two basic points bear emphasis. First, women figure prominently in our sample of informers, and were, by inference, accepted as legitimate customers in drinking establishments, whether on their own or as members of a group of drinkers. This suggests that in London, at least, working men and women occupied overlapping social spheres; [50] in eighteenth century Paris, by contrast, working-class taverns were predominantly male enclaves. [51]

The second point concerns the function of partnerships among informers. These are, as has already been noted, the subject of a separate study employing social network analysis; what we can say at this juncture is that partnerships were useful on several levels: they provided their members with a certain degree of security; they allowed witnesses to corroborate each other's testimony; and they probably also functioned as a sort of clearing-house, allowing informers to exchange information and operate in neighborhoods where they were still unknown. At the same time, partnerships and gangs fulfilled a function that was essentially social: they provided their members with a community of sorts, and as such compensated them for their exile from the larger community. Hence the question purportedly put to Elizabeth Gardiner when "she was introduced into the Company of Elizabeth Armstrong, Mary Jackson, Charles Darley and others": "Are you one of our Clan, and will you be true?" [52]

Stratagems employed by informers

Only seven of the 927 defendants in our sample are recorded as having confessed to violating the Gin Act of 1736. All others were convicted "by proof on the oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses." This placed a double burden on informers, for not only did they have to be credible as customers when approaching retailers, they also had to be credible as witnesses once they lodged an information with a magistrate. By implication, successful informers exploited the rules of two communities: those of their peers and those of their masters. This delicate balance helps explain the various stratagems employed by informers in both gathering and presenting evidence. Three basic stratagems emerge.

In the first stratagem, two or three informers enter an establishment and prevail upon the proprietor to sell them distilled spirits, which they then proceed to drink together in a room on the premises. The partner or partners to the transaction are then able to corroborate the evidence given by the primary informer. Charles Darley is supposed to have asked Elizabeth Gardiner "if they could not drink together"; [53] they then proceeded to the "Room of a House" in Hammersmith, where, they later claimed, they bought gin from Margaret Tyson. [54] Luke Burgis and Henry Devon claimed that they bought a quartern of gin "in a roome" from Elizabeth Maletrat. [55] Sarah Jones and Elizabeth Armstrong claimed that they bought gin in a "Room of a House situate in the parish of St. Giles's in the fields..." [56]

In the second stratagem, a lone informer enters an establishment and asks the proprietor to sell him or her distilled spirits for personal medicinal use or for a friend or relative who is ill. The drawback to this approach is that there is only one witness to the sale; its advantage is that the informer is able to present physical evidence to a magistrate. This was an extremely risky stratagem, as it violated the community's most basic rules for responding to illness and death. [57] An informer eating at a cook's shop "prevail'd, by a suppos'd sham sickness, upon the poor woman to let him have a dram of Gin"; he was, upon returning with two companions, attacked by a crowd who then "dragg'd him to a dunghill in Bishop's-court...and there buried him for some time with ashes and cynders." [58] An informer in Lutton asked a publican to sell him "a Quartern of Brandy for his Wife, who was very ill;" the publican, suspecting a ruse, "had a Viol fill'd deliver'd to him; on receiving of which he went directly before a Magistrate...but unhappily...it prov'd to be only fair Water..." [59] A man in Westminster, "his wife being sick," bought a quartern of gin from Mrs. How of Bow Street; foolishly, he told "three or four of his acquaintance...of his design, and let them see the liquor; they desired him to let them taste it, which he did; some of them amused him whilst the others drank it up, and one of them piss'd about the same quantity in the bottle and return'd it..." A "noted Justice in Westminster," quite possibly Thomas De Veil himself, later tasted the contents of the vial; the hapless informer was bound over to appear at the next quarter sessions for the affront. [60] A "Woman pretending Sickness went to an Apothecary's Shop of Credit at Westminster for a Dram, who believing her to be sincere, generously relieved her, but would take no Money for it"; she subsequently denounced him to a justice of the peace, only to be committed to the Westminster house of correction. Then there is the story of a farrier turned infor mer. He managed to procure "Half a Pint of Geneva from Mr. Mould" "under Pretence of a Horses being ill," and was subsequently attacked in the Stocks Market; "with much Difficulty he was brought back in a Coach to the Excise Office, at the Hazard of his Life." [61]

In the third stratagem, an informer enters an establishment and, being known to and trusted by the proprietor, is able to purchase distilled spirits without arousing suspicion. This was the weakest of the stratagems employed by the informers, providing neither corroboration nor physical evidence, and its short-term benefits were easily outweighed by the loss of patronage and support in the larger community. In particular, it violated the complex of mutual obligations governing relations between retailers and their neighbors, and when the retailer had previously offered some form of assistance or employment to the informer, it upset ties based on deference and obligation. A father and his son were supposedly betrayed by a man whom they had known for 14 years "and to whom each had shewn a thousand Kindnesses. [62] A servant, feigning illness, prevailed on an acquaintance to ask his master for a dram; the master, a prosperous distiller, readily complied "with his usual good nature." [63] Two men, having frequented the Nag's Head Inn for the past six weeks, accepted drains from their hostess, and then denounced her to a local justice. [64]

As has already been noted, informers exploited very basic rules of everyday life in Hanoverian London. In the case of informers who posed as drinking companions, it was the sanctuary of the drinking establishment that was violated, effectively leaving working men and women without a safe and public place of their own. It was here, too, that more marginal members of the community were able to socialize with neighbors who might be able to offer them an occasional meal or drink, or even occasional employment. Hence the particular scorn reserved for the "deceitful Wretch of a Washer-woman," and hence, too, the label of "ungrateful Villain" that attaches to the man who betrayed his two benefactors. These were not relationships among equals. As such, it would be simplistic to see in them examples of class solidarity or class consciousness among the putative proto-proletariat of Hanoverian London. Rather, these are the sorts of complex ties of deference and mutual obligation that exist between clients and their pot ential patrons. Hospitality, with its conspicuous displays of generosity and its lavish language of conviviality, masked and helped make bearable the inequalities of status and income that could exist side by side in a dense and highly volatile setting such as Westminster, and it was this delicate balance that was most threatened by the activities of the informers. Informers, Reay Sabourn wrote, were "ready to sacrifice Relation, Friend, and Foe, and even break thro' the Rules of all Hospitality for the sake of 5 Pounds per Man," thus giving "Opportunity to our Neighbours to charge us with Treachery and Falsehood, and on that Account to shun and distrust us..." [65]

The informers under attack

If the rewards associated with informing were substantial, so, too, were the risks. Dozens of informers were assaulted over the lifetime of the Gin Act of 1736, and at least four, including one woman, were beaten to death. [66] Those who survived presumably died a social death, their standing in the community having been ruined by violating its most basic rules. Two questions confront us at this juncture. Which groups took it upon themselves to uphold the rules of the community? And second, to what extent did their actions contribute to the unmaking of the Gin Act of 1736?

Seven of the demonstrations in our sample can be classified as riots. In four incidents, three outside Justice Thomas De Veil's house in Westminster and one outside Justice John Lade's house in Southwark, the Riot Act was read; the remaining three incidents were more loosely described as "riots" or "tumults," and may or may not have been riots in point of law. [67] In addition to the seven riots in our sample, there are 27 assaults on informers and eight assaults on constables. The sample also includes five instances of verbal abuse. This is because insults, typically made by women, were often the prelude or call to an actual assault. Moreover, insults had the power to ruin an individual's reputation, rendering him or her vulnerable to assault at some future time. Hence the seriousness of Sarah Miller's having publicly identified Anne Adams as an informer. Hence, too, the commitment of Elizabeth Tredwell to the Westminster house of correction for having assaulted Elizabeth Parker and for having given "her th e Title of an Informer and threatening her so that she goes in danger of her Life." [68]

In only six instances are we told how many people participated in a disturbance. The numbers, in ascending order, are four, four or five, 20, 50 to 60, 200 or more, [69] and about 1,000. The sources are equally taciturn when it comes to identifying the socioeconomic status of participants. Eight are identified as "yeomen," which would suggest that they were self-employed artisans or tradesmen, [70] and three are identified as "labourers." One was an attorney; one, Thomas Croft, was a publican; "four or five," all Croft's henchmen, were chairmen; [71] and one was a journeyman baker. [72] The spectrum very roughly matches that of the retailers themselves, and suggests but does not confirm the possibility that patrons and their clients participated in demonstrations and in so doing upheld their obligations to each other.

The overwhelming majority of the demonstrations in our sample took place in Westminster. This is consistent with the strength of popular politics in the city, and may also reflect the opposition of local publicans to Walpole and his regime, as noted by Nicholas Rogers. [73] No fewer than 36 such demonstrations took place in Westminster between 1737 and 1740, compared to eight for London proper, and just four each for Middlesex and Southwark. In nine instances a crowd gathered outside a place of trial, typically outside a justice's residence or outside the Excise Office in the City of London. There they would wait for informers to enter or exit the building. In four instances a crowd gathered outside the residence of a defendant, and in at least two incidents, including that involving Anne Adams, a crowd gathered outside the residence of an informer.

There were at least nine instances in which informers were dragged along the streets or were forced to march in a procession. This particular dimension to the demonstrations links them, if only loosely, to charivaris in which transgressors were placed on a cart or were paraded backwards on a horse or ass; [74] in one incident, an informer was actually "set upon an Ass ... whilst others beat and pelted him, leading him up and down Bond-street ... " [75] In the same incident, another informer was "dragg'd several times through the Horse Pond of the White Horse Inn." This particular punishment, in turn, can be linked to a subset of charivaris known as "riding the stang." [76] At least eight informers were forced to "ride the stang," whether in a trough, a muddy ditch, or the Thames itself. In another incident, an informer was burnt in effigy, a practice typical of rough music. [77]

In at least seven instances crowds succeeded in rescuing defendants, whether from an officer of the peace or from an informer. Incidents of this sort speak to the dangers inherent in apprehending violators of the various Gin Acts: not only were neighbors and friends likely to be present when a warrant was served, a violator could easily enlist the support of casual onlookers by identifying the person arresting him as an informer. When "some Bailiffs Arrested a man in Audly Street ... the Prisoner cry'd out Informers; the Mob rose immediately and almost killed the Bailiff and his Follower, and rescued the Prisoner." [78] When "some Fellows" seized a woman "she cry'd out Informers, on which the Mob secur'd, and dragg'd [them] thro' the Streets ... " [79] One of the informers subsequently died of the injuries received in the attack. Two persons convicted in Southwark "were, upon their crying out Informers, rescued out of the Hands of the Constable, who with his Assistants narrowly escap'd the rough Discipline o f the Rabble." [80]

Almost all of the informers who were attacked were male. The informers in our sample, by contrast, are fairly even balanced between males and females, with a gross count of 273 males and 238 females. We found only five assaults on female informers in the greater London area, along with two incidents in which there was verbal abuse but no actual violence. The latter include the incident outside Anne Adams' residence. This does not mean, however, that women were treated with any particular leniency once attacked. A crowd treated one woman "with such Severity, by beating, kicking, and cramming Dirt into her Mouth," that she subsequently died of her wounds; it was also reported that "even her own Sex exposed her to great Indecencies." The same week, "an elderly Woman having inform'd against a Retailer of Gin, was severely us'd by the Populace, who dragg'd her through the Kennel in Brewer-street, St. James's, and then threw her into a Horse Pond, belonging to a Stable Yard." [81] Another woman, described as "well dress'd," "fell into the Hands of the Mob, near Cheapside, and treated in such a manner, that her Life was thought to be in Danger " [82] Letitia Heathcoate, an especially active informer, was attacked after testifying against Catherine Croft; Croft's husband "and his Witnesses, and several other persons then in the House made a great Riot and Disturbance, and Some of them tore the said Heathcott's Cloaths, and threatened to murder her..." [83]

Women such as Sarah Miller played an active role in demonstrations against informers and those who assisted them. They are to be found in at least seven demonstrations; the actual number was probably much higher, as only a minority of the sources specify the sex of participants or otherwise differentiate them. Rose Biquall and Rose Murphy joined Thomas Davis and John Bell in assaulting Lawrence Parker, an exciseman, when he inspected the house of correction at Tothill Fields. He had, they claimed, "inform'd against several for selling Gin." All four were inmates at the time, and the two women, along with Davis, were sentenced to eight months' hard labor for their part in the assault. [84] Ann Bray, Margaret Reilly, a man by the name of Plant, and his wife were accused of "Unlawfully and Riotously Assembling themselves together" for the purpose of "Breaking... Peter Sneath's Window and calling him Informing Dog, and forcing Open his Door and Cutting his Face " [85] Susannah Harold, wife of John Harold, and He nrietta Wells, a spinster, were indicted along with six men for "violently assaulting and beating" John Hill, a constable in Saffron Hill. They were also accused of "rescuing from him an informer that was in his Custody and Calling out Informer against Ginn, which Occasion'd a Great Mobb to be raised about him" [86]

The more typical scenario, however, was for women to incite violence without actually participating in it, consistent with what has been observed of female rioters elsewhere in pre-industrial and industrial England. [87] These disturbances typically occurred outside the residence of a known informer, and involved "disturbing" or defaming the victim, a pattern in keeping with earlier riots in urban Middlesex. [88] This takes us back to the example of Sarah Miller, who sought "to Excite" others "to do some Bodily harm to" Anne Adams, but carefully avoided doing so herself. A woman in the Strand is supposed to have "cry'd out informers, on which the Mob secur'd" the informer in question "and us'd him so ill, that he is since dead of his Bruises." [89] Mary Brown and Susannah Fitter were committed to the house of correction in Westminster on the oath of Ann Furth; they had, it was alleged, "Frequently caused great numbers of People to assemble themselves and gather together about her in the Street, calling her I nformer, whereby she was severely pelted with Stones and Dirt ... " [90] Mary Burt was sentenced to twelve months' hard labor at the house of correction in Tothill Fields, having been convicted of "raising a Mob in the Streets on two Persons, signifying they were Informers, on which Occasion they were ill treated ..." [91]

The limited role of women in popular protests stands in contrast to their fairly active involvement in the retailing of distilled spirits. Two tallies of retailers, one conducted in Middlesex between 1735 and 1736, the other in the City of London in 1751, list 1,844 men, of whom 667, or roughly one third, retailed without a license. This particular number excludes wives, who, in all probability assisted their husbands in the trade. The same two tallies list 472 women, of whom 261, or more than half, retailed without a license. The latter number, in turn, helps account for the disproportionate number of women convicted and incarcerated under the Gin Act of 1736: our sample thus contains 428 women and 151 men, a proportion in keeping with the overall population in London's various houses of correction. [92]

The question that cannot be answered with any certainty is this: were members of the community likelier to intervene when the victim was female? There are signs that this was indeed the case, but, again, this is not an area where the sources support strong generalizations. Husbands doubtless intervened on behalf of their wives, if only because their honor was at stake. Hence Thomas Croft's repeated attempts to overturn the conviction of his wife, Catherine. Hence, too, the story of Marmaduke Biquall. Biquall happened to be employed at the Tothill Fields House of Correction while his wife was incarcerated there; he subsequently stood by and "did ... obstinately and contemptuously neglect and refuse to call to his Assistance the keeper of the same prison" while his wife joined other inmates in assaulting Lawrence Parker, a notorious exciseman. [93]

There are also instances where the community intervened on behalf of women who were on their own. A man who had "inform'd against a poor woman" was attacked and forced to march in a procession up Ludgate Hill. [94] Two excisemen "seiz'd a woman in Lambs conduit fields for retailing Geneva; but notice being given to some cricket-players, they immediately came to her assistance ... " [95] A "noted Informer" who had entrapped "a Poor Widow Woman in Virginia Street, Wapping, was, thro' the Instagation [sp] of a large Body of her Neighbours, press'd by a Gang, planted for that Purpose ..." [96] And when "a poor Woman, who kept a Publick house in White Lion Street, St. Giles's" was convicted, "her good Neighbours" assisted her in paying the penalty, "rather than that an honest Woman, who always behaved well, and had long lived reputably amongst them, should ... be sent to such an infamous Place as a House of Correction ..."[97]

In the scenarios that we have just considered women often acted as the arbiters of the rules of everyday life. They identified violations, and communicated them to the larger community. Neighbors, in turn, frequently intervened on their behalf, especially when the women at risk were too poor to do so themselves. Men more typically acted as the enforcers of the rules of everyday life. This does not change the fact that men and women cooperated in upholding the basic rules of the community. They are to be found living and acting in close proximity, sometimes collaborating as informers, and sometimes collaborating against them. This sets working women in early Hanoverian London apart from their sisters elsewhere in Europe, who, we are told, partook of a culture that differed fundamentally from that of their men. [98]

Popular protest and political change

It seems highly unlikely that popular protests, by themselves, had much impact beyond the immediate communities in which they occurred. They attracted attention in local newspapers; they distressed members of the Privy Council; they distressed certain segments of the justiciary; and they almost certainly discouraged some informers while deterring others from entering the field. They created, in other words, a small and secondary panic in the wake of the much larger moral panic that had been the force behind the Gin Act of 1736. The tide was turned not when protests reached their peak, but rather when the various groups responsible for upholding the Act concluded that the activities of the informers threatened existing social relations in the community, most notably, those between patrons and clients. These groups did not include the local justiciary, but they did include the Excise Office, the vestries most affected by the Act, and the various juries presiding over cases of riot, perjury, and extortion. Each of the three groups was in close contact with the larger community while also possessing sufficient political and social standing to communicate the need for change in a manner that was both comprehensible and palatable. They were to act as the pragmatic intermediaries between plebeian culture and patrician culture, effectively negotiating between two very different ideals of honor and order.

The first signs of dissent are to be found among the commissioners of Excise. An act dating from the reign of Charles II allowed them to exercise discretion in assessing penalties, and in the case of the Gin Act of 1736 they would appear to have first exercised this option in May of 1737. [99] Thirteen women and 91 men are recorded as having had their fines reduced at this time; in most cases, the commissioners reduced fines to just [pounds]10. [100] In June, the commissioners went one step further, and actually summoned "all the Persons before them, who had paid in their Fines of 100 l.... and after admonishing them for their offending against the Laws, and desiring them to take Care for the future, they were pleased to mitigate their Fines, some to 20 l. and others to 30 l. according to the Nature of their Offences; and the remaining part of their several Sums were return'd to them.,, [101] The commissioners continued to commute fines for the next year and a half, as is variously recorded in the minutes of the Board [102] and in local newspapers. [103]

The commissioners also sought to discourage prosecutions by professional informers. In February of 1737 the commissioners refused to issue any summons "without the Matter of Complaint first being exhibited to them, and supported by undoubted Evidence," [104] while two years later, in March of 1739, the commissioners put further obstacles in the way of professional informers, resolving "not to receive any more Informations against persons for retailing Spirituous Liquors, unless the Informers Characters are supported by reputable Persons, which doubtless will prevent innocent Persons from becoming a Prey to those People who live upon their Spoil." [105]

Three points bear emphasis in accounting for why the commissioners chose to exercise discretion in enforcing the Gin Act of 1736. First, the commissioners had not been consulted in drafting the Gin Act of 1736, [106] and like Walpole, they probably had serious misgivings about its fiscal impact. Second, the commissioners were put in the awkward position of having to judge distillers and middle-class retailers whose enterprises had up until this time been encouraged by the Crown. And third, many of the informers appearing before the commissioners were clearly disreputable. The individuals who denounced Nicholas Reynolds, for example, were unable to testify at his trial, having already been committed to jail "for several notorious Crimes." [107]

Even more disturbing from the perspective of the commissioners was the threat that professional informers posed to the usual social hierarchy governing relations between members of the middle class and their social inferiors. The evidence given by "a vagrant Boy, who serves the Hackney Coachmen's Horses with Water at their Stand" was thus rejected by the commissioners, [108] as was the case "against Mr. Holland, distiller, which appearing perfectly malicious, was (to the incouragement of the trade) most honourably rejected." [109] The commissioners could behave very differently when informers and defendants were equals or near equals, as was the case when distillers denounced apothecaries for retailing distilled spirits as medicine. In these cases the commissioners readily sided with prosecutors, and were disinclined to show leniency to defendants, or to invite them to apply for mitigation. [110]

The revolt of the commissioners was followed by the revolt of several key vestries in August of 1738. This particular revolt was highly significant. The vestries had, up until this time, been the natural allies of moral reform; [111] moreover, the Gin Acts of 1733, 1736, 1737, and 1738 had all encouraged their ongoing support by making churchwardens and overseers of the poor the recipients of one half of all fines paid by retailers upon summary conviction. Even so, in August of 1738 the vestry of St. Giles-in-the-Fields elected to return upwards of [pounds]500 of the [pounds]750 already paid in fines to the churchwardens of the parish; at the same time, the vestry in Highgate elected "to return to every Person the 5 l. each," it appearing "that there were not five Publick Houses" in Hornsey and Highgate "but what had been inform'd against, and had paid Ten Pound ... " [112] A week later, it was reported that "several Parishes within the Bills of Mortality" had "lately held Vestries in order to dispose of div ers Sums of Money paid into the Hands of the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of their respective Parishes ... " Once again the vestries "ordered most of the said Money to be paid back" to local retailers. [113]

Two motives are plausible in accounting for why certain vestries were prepared to register their dissent in so conspicuous a fashion. The first motive concerns the vestries' relations with the middle-class victims of the various Gin Acts, most notably, the publicans and other established retailers whose income depended in part on retailing distilled spirits. Here we may surmise that the vestries were anxious to avoid implicating themselves in a process that threatened to degrade both the status and livelihood of an important segment of the middle class. The latter included men such as Thomas Croft, who kept an alehouse with his wife Catherine in the Westminster parish of St. George Hanover Square. Croft is quoted as promising the justices who had convicted Catherine that "he would be revenged on them, if it cost him Hundred pounds"; [114] in addition to possessing considerable financial resources, he was also of sufficient social standing to enlist Mr. Clark, a local overseer of the poor, to intercede with J ustice Hill on Catherine's behalf. [115]

The second motive was fiscal. While the Gin Acts of 1736, 1737, and 1738 all provided the vestries with a new source of funds, they also threatened to add to the poor rates by depriving widows and other marginal members of the community of a livelihood. In the end, the vestries may have concluded that they stood to lose rather than profit. The evidence, however, is far from conclusive. The justices of the peace meeting at Hicks' Hall in March of 1738 complained "that some churchwardens or overseers of the poor, instead of applying such conviction-money to the use of the poor of their parish, have returned it to the parties so convicted, upon pretence of their being poor ... " [116] There is also the case of Clifford William Phillips. Justice Phillips was charged by Justice Thomas Farmer with obstructing the trial of Mary Bryan, a petty retailer of distilled spirits. Phillips is supposed to have told Farmer "that by his Encouraging such Rascally Scoundrell Fellows of Informers" he "not only unjustly deprived a great many Poor Familys from honestly getting their Bread but likewise promised him the Curses of all poor persons ..." This view was shared by the two overseers of the poor who subsequently wrote to the Lord High Chancellor on Phillips' behalf. Phillips, they claimed, had "acquired the Love and Esteem of these Inhabitants of our ... parish," and had done so "by his Knowledge and impartiality in the Discharge of his Duty ..." [117]

The final group for us to consider consists of jurors, whose verdicts may be taken as a rough barometer of middle-class opinion. Jurors would appear to have been unfavorably disposed toward individuals who participated in riots or who assaulted informers and the officers who assisted them; this, however, has to be balanced against the fact that there were very few prosecutions for this particular class of offences, consistent with a general reluctance to prosecute rioters, or to proceed past indicting conspicuous ringleaders. [118] Thus of the 72 individuals in our sample who participated in a riot or who otherwise attacked or intimidated informers and the officers who assisted them, only 30 were actually indicted. Of those indicted, only 13 were ever tried. Ten of these were found guilty, and three, including Sarah Miller, were acquitted. By contrast, jurors readily convicted informers of perjury and extortion, and here rates of prosecution were much higher. In the case of perjury, 31 out of the 38 individu als in our sample were indicted, and of these, 17 were convicted and nine were acquitted. This compares to 19 indictments for extortion out of a total sample of 22. Of these, 14 were convicted, and just one was acquitted.

A judicial retreat

How did the events and factors that we have been considering affect the justices who were expected to enforce the Gin Act of 1736? The answer depends, in part, on the communities in which the justices operated. In Southwark, there were relatively few riots and other disturbances in response to the Act, and individual justices were in most instances able to try defendants on their own, as is evident in the low incidence of convictions by justices sitting together in petty sessions. This is illustrated in Figure 3, and can be compared to the very high incidence of petty sessions in Westminster. Southwark was almost certainly the less volatile of the two communities; at the same time, its justices were prepared to make occasional symbolic concessions in enforcing an unpopular law. One such stratagem was to indict unlicensed retailers in quarter sessions but to avoid bringing them to trial. Ten men and one woman were able to sidestep the law in this fashion. There is also a revealing story featuring John Lade, a n especially active justice in Southwark. [119] Lade, the story goes, convicted a publican after an informer produced a punch bowl containing distilled spirits; the publican, paid the penalty of [pounds]10, then accused the informer and his partner of having "clandestinely robb'd him of his bowl; and making Affidavit of the same, Sir John committed the two Informers to the County Gaol." [120] The story is having revealing because it shows Lade enforcing an unpopular law while placating at least one of its victims.

In Westminster, by contrast, the Gin Act of 1736 was a point of contested authority from the very beginning. This is where most of the disturbances occasioned by the Act occurred, and this is also where the justices sought to achieve strength in numbers by sitting together in petty sessions, as is illustrated in Figure 4. In May of 1738, Thomas De Veil, Westminster's leading justice, sought to restore order by prosecuting Roger Allen for inciting a riot in which 1,000 persons are supposed to have participated. This was by far the most serious of the three riots known to have occurred outside De Veil's house, and De Veil, who was badly shaken by this most recent riot, put Allen to the expense and aggravation of having to defend himself at the King's Bench in Westminister [121] The case was from the start a cause celebre, and it it is clear that De Veil hoped to make an example of Allen. In this he was to be bitterly disappointed. The trial was closely watched by local authorities, who held troops in reserve o n the day of the trial, [122] and was also attended by "a prodigious mob," who, according to De Veil, "waited the event, as well in Westminster Hall, as in the Palace-yards.,, [123] Westminster Hall was, according to another account, "so full you might have walk'd on the People's Heads." [124] Their presence, insistent and menacing, would appear to have influenced the jurors, who may also have concluded that the time that Allen had already spent in Newgate was punishment enough. For their part, the defense chose to represent Allen as a lunatic [125] and as "an Idiot, and a silly weak Fellow." [126] It was a shrewd plea, for it allowed the jury to acquit Allen without considering the very strong case against him.

The acquittal of Roger Allen was a major setback for De Veil and his colleagues in the Westminster justiciary. It signaled that they could not rely on local juries to support them in enforcing the Gin Act of 1736, and over the next year they are to be found in discrete judicial retreat, convicting fewer and fewer retailers even as per capita consumption of distilled spirits was on the rise. For their part, the retailers and their supporters were quick to take advantage of their victory over the Westminster justices. That Monday, the justices sat at Westminster Hall, the scene of Allen's triumph just five days earlier, and not a single retailer was brought before them. It was reported that "the Constables were afraid to go Out with Precepts as they had done, least the Populace, encouraged by his Acquittal shou'd rise on them," while Edward Parker, the exciseman who was a prosecutor in the case against Allen, complained that "Witnesses were so terrified on Aliens Acquittal that he could not prevail on many of them to appear as usual." [127]

It is also likely that both the justices and the commissioners of Excise were over time worn down by a succession of minor challenges to their authority on the part of aggrieved defendants. The so-called trading justices of Westminster and Middlesex would have been especially vulnerable to challenges of this sort, consistent with their generally low social status. [128] In Westminster, Judith Walmsely "was Committed to the Gatehouse for intruding her self in a forceible and Contemptuous manner before the Bench of Justices, & insulting them in the Execution of their Office, and threatening the Informers that she wou'd wait their coming out." [129] Thomas Croft, also in Westminster, is supposed to have insulted Justices Griffiths and Hill "in the due Execution of their Office," behaving "very rude and insolent" to them. [130] When Justice De Veil committed Ann Mounckton to the Westminster House of Correction several of her friends went to his house to intervene on her behalf; among them "was a certain Distille r who behaved in a very audacious insolent Manner, insulting the Justice in his House ... [131] Then there is the example of a woman convicted by the commissioners of Excise. She was, it was reported, "so warm, that she insulted and abused the Evidence before the Court, who thereupon ordered her into Custody, but in Compassion to her Sex, and upon her humble Submission, she was released." [132]

In the end, however, it was probably the sheer volume of cases that overloaded the judicial system and exhausted its functionaries. By August of 1737, it was reported 127 petty hawkers had "been committed to the several Bridewells" within greater London. [133] Just one month later, the number incarcerated had jumped to 432, with an additional 83 paying [pounds]10 each to avoid being sent to the local house of correction. [134] These numbers grew approximately tenfold over the next year. Thus in late July and early August of 1738 it was widely reported that "about 12,000 Persons in all" had been convicted in greater London. Of these, 4,896 individuals had reportedly been convicted by the commissioners of Excise; another 3,000 or so had paid [pounds]10 each to avoid being sent to the local house of correction, leaving approximately 4,000 individuals who had been convicted and incarcerated by the justices of the peace. [135] To meet the demand, magistrates agreed to hold additional sessions, starting with the c ommissioners of Excise, who in October of 1737 "appointed every Tuesday and Thursday, for trying all Offenses against the Spirituous Liquors Act." [136] In March of 1738 the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, responding to a request from the Privy Council, agreed to sit in rotation Monday through Friday "for the Dispatch of Publick Justice ..." [137] The justices of Westminster, the Tower Division, and the Liberty of the Tower of London also agreed to redouble their efforts at this time, and held additional regular sessions, as did the justices presiding in Southwark. [138]

The justices were not, however, prepared to work additional hours on an indefinite basis, as is illustrated in Figure 5. In Westminster, for example, the mean number of justices attending petty sessions declined from 10 in April of 1738 to just four in January of 1739. In the Liberty of the Tower of London, the mean number of justices attending dropped from two in April of 1738 to one in June of the same year; during the same three months, there were five sessions in which no justices appeared to hear complaints. After June, the justices in the Liberty of the Tower ceased to meet to hear complaints against unlicensed retailers, as did their counterparts in the Tower Division.

External factors contributing to the unmaking of the Act

War and death also contributed to the unmaking of the Gin Act of 1736. Many of the part-time retailers who operated in and around the docks of East London were probably able to find full-time employment provisioning the fleet when the country went to war with Spain in 1739, while others, less fortunate, would have been pressed into service as the nation mobilized for war. [139] War also affected the careers of informers: some may have opted for safer employment at this juncture, while others were pressed into service, often at the instigation of their victims. In August of 1738 a press gang apprehended an informer "who had quitted the Sea Service ever since the Gin Act commenc'd, and liv'd by Informations against the Retailers of Spirituous Liquors."[140] In June of the following year "a noted Informer" met a similar fate in the dockside parish of Wapping, and was "press'd by a Gang, planted for that Purpose." [141] John Markham, another notorious informer, was "taken out of a Gin Shop" in the dockside distri ct of Saint Katherine's and was "carry'd on board a Tender ..." [142] At the same time, the war almost certainly created new opportunities for the many women who hawked distilled spirits, allowing them to find employment in trades from which they were ordinarily excluded. [143]

Three points stand out: first, the drop in prosecutions for illegal sales of distilled spirits coincided with the onset of war against Spain, consistent with an overall drop in prosecutions for property crimes at this time. [144] Second, war affected the careers of retailers and informers in very similar ways, offering new careers to some, while effectively exiling others from greater London. And third, it is likely that the onset of war helped end the moral panic that had created and then sustained the Gin Act of 1736. Thus from 1739 on we find news from the front supplanting domestic news in London's newspapers, and can at the same time observe politicians shifting their attention to the war while ceasing to worry publicly over gin and the people who drank it.

The demise of two key players also contributed to the unraveling of the Gin Act of 1736. The first of these was Sir Joseph Jekyll, who died at the age of 80 in August of 1738. [145] Jekyll had been a tireless crusader on behalf of the Act, both in Parliament and at Court, and his death left the cause of reform without a leader just as the moral panic over distilled spirits was starting to subside. The second was Edward Parker, who died four months later. Parker was the exciseman who ran a ring of informers in greater London, and was reportedly "instrumental in ... Informations against upwards of 1500 Persons." [146] He was the most zealous of the excisemen employed by the Board against petty retailers, and his death almost certainly severed a vital link in the networks and partnerships connecting informers in greater London.

In 1743, Parliament repealed the Gin Act of 1736, acknowledging that "great difficulties and inconveniences have attended the putting the said act in execution, and the same hath not been found effectual to answer the purpose thereby intended ... " The Gin Act of 1736 had been a study in unintended consequences. Far from curbing the distribution and consumption of distilled spirits, it created, from the perspective of an already unpopular government, a far more serious problem in the form of open contempt for the law and the agents chosen for its enforcement. For the next two years the government sought to regain the upper hand; that failing, it spent the next five years allowing an unpopular law to die a quiet death. The process, when compared to our own prohibitions on the distribution and consumption of illicit drugs, was astonishingly efficient.

It was also astonishingly democratic, if only in the loosest sense of the word. What at once obscures and explains the process is the presence of intermediaries with ties both to the plebeian culture of the retailers and their clients and to the patrician culture of the nation's political elite. It was these mediators who were most directly invested in maintaining existing social relations, especially those prevailing among patrons and clients. At the same time, they were sufficiently versed in the rules and discourse of patrician culture to challenge specific legislative acts and their agenda of social control without causing members of the political elite to lose face in the process. This takes us one step away from the stark and excessively simplistic dialectic of plebeian culture and patrician culture. The prominent role of women, especially in identifying violations of the rules of everyday life in early Hanoverian London, takes us one step away from a very similar dialectic, which, simplified, places m en and women in two separate cultures. The reality of daily life in Europe's largest metropolis was far more complex, as one might reasonably expect of a dense urban environment in which men and women worked and socialized side by side. Additional fissures appear when we attempt to label and group these men and women. Far from belonging to an undifferentiated proto-proletariat, they are to be found at various points along a fairly wide spectrum, with ties of deference and mutual obligation linking its more marginal members to retailers and other petty patrons. They, like the groups who operated as mediators between two cultures and who contributed most directly to the unmaking of the Gin Act of 1736, sought to maintain an essentially conservative social vision, which is to say that they mobilized not to challenge the larger structures of their society but rather to restore the stability and utility of existing social relations.

33 Russell Street

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M.5S 2S1

ENDNOTES

This publication was supported by Grant AA11312-02 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health. The authors are deeply grateful for the kind and expert help offered by Professor John Beattie of the University of Toronto, Dr. Ruth Paley of the Public Record Office, and Harriet Jones and Louise Falcini, both of the Corporation of London Metropolitan Archives.

Abbreviations CLMA Corporation of London Metropolitan Archives

CLRO Corporation of London Records Office

CWAC City of Westminster Archives Centre

PRO Public Record Office

SRO Surrey Record Office

(1.) CLRO, Sessions Rolls, City of London Quarter Sessions, SF 758, October 1738.

(2.) CLRO, Quarter Sessions Minutes, City of London, SM 106,1738-1739.

(3.) Edward P. Thompson, "Patrician Society, Plebian Culture," Journal of Social History 8, no. 4 (1974): 382-405; Whigs and Hunters. The Origins of the Black Act (New York, 1975), pp. 206-207; Customs in Common (London, 1991), p. 1.

(4.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 18 February 1738.

(5.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 2.

(6.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(7.) By April of 1738, the number of retailers convicted by the commissioners of Excise had reached 435 within greater London, compared to just 213 for the rest of England. See PRO, CUST, 48/13, 1733-1745, p. 179.

(8.) George EE. Rude, "'Mother Gin' and the London Riots of 1736," The Guildhall Miscellany 10 (1959): 53-63.

(9.) M. Dorothy George, London Life in the 18th Century, second ed. (New York: Capricorn Books, 1965), pp. 36-37; T.G. Coffey, "Beer Street: Gin Lane. Some Views of 18th-cent. Drinking," Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 27, no. 4 (1966): 669.

(10.) L. D. Schwarz, "The Standard of Living in the Long Run: London, 1700-1860," Economic History Review 38, no. 1 (1985): 25.

(11.) E. Anthony Wrigley and Roger S. Schofield, The Population History of England, 1541-1871. A Reconstruction (London, 1981), p. 534; E.H. Phelps Brown and Sheila V. Hopkins, "Seven Centuries of the Price of Consumables, Compared with Builders' Wage-rates," in Essays in Economic History, ed. E.M. Carus-Wilson (London, 1962), p. 195.

(12.) CLMA, MR/LV/6/43--58 and MR/LV/6/60-63. Two large documents in the series, MR/LV/6/59, 1735 and MR/LV/6/64, 1735, were marked unfit for consultation.

(13.) CLRO, MSS. 82.17, 1751.

(14.) CLMA, MR/LV/6/47, 4 January 1736.

(15.) SRO, Sessions Bundles, General Quarter Sessions, Surrey, from QS2/6/1736/ Michaelmas, 1736 to QS2/6/1740/Easter, 1740.

(16.) CLMA, Calendar of Commitments to the Westminster House of Correction, WJ/CC/B 146, 24 June 1738; WJ/CC/B 147, 7 October 1738; WJ/CC/B 148, 6 January 1738; WJ/CC/B 149, 28 April 1739; WJ/CC/B 151, 5 January 1739; WJ/CC/B 152, 12 April 1740; WJ/CC/B 154, 1740; WJ/CC/R 7, 5 April 1738; WJ/CC/R 8, 22 June 1738; WJ/CC/R 9,4 October 1738; WJ/CC/R 10,1 April 1739; WJ/CC/R 11, 25 April 1739; WJ/CC/R 12, 12 July 1739; WJ/CC/R 6, 5 October 1737; WJ/CC/R 13, 3 January 1739; Calendar of Commitments to the Westminster House of Correction, WJ/CC/R 14, 1 April 1741. Only one document in the series was marked unfit for consultation. This was Calendar of Commitments to the Westminster House of Correction, WJ/CC/B 145, June 1738.

(17.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 1, 1738; PC 1/15/5, part 2, 1738.

(18.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 3, 3 April-7 June 1738.

(19.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 4, 3 April-12 June 1738.

(20.) Bancroft Library, Accounts of the Overseers of the Poor, Bethnal Green, Bethnal Green MS. 307, 1737; CWAC, Churchwardens' Accounts, Parish of St. Anne, Soho, A2105-A2106 and A2108, 1737-1738 and 1740; Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, F99, 1739.

(21.) The Proceedings at the Sessions of Peace, Oyer and Terminer, for the City of London and County of Middlesex, on Wednesday the 11th, Thursday the 12th, and Friday the 13th of October (London, 1738), pp. 155-157.

(22.) John M. Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800 (Princeton, 1986), p. 40. Reay Sabourn, A Perfect View of the Gin Act (London, 1738), p. 39, claims that William Goudge spent [pounds]24 in prosecuting Mary Felton, George Anderson, and Johannah Clare for perjury; this did not include the [pounds]10 that he had already paid upon conviction.

(23.) M.W. Beresford, "The Common Informer, the Penal Statutes and Economic Regulation," Economic History Review 10, no. 2 (1958): 221.

(24.) John M. Beattie, "Violence and Society in Early-modern England," in Perspectives in Criminal Law. Essays in Honour of John LL.J. Edwards, ed. Anthony Doob and Edward L. Greenspan (Aurora, Ontario, 1985), p. 40.

(25.) John M. Beattie, "The Pattern of Crime in England 1600-1800," Past and Present 62 (1974): 56.

(26.) T. C. Curtis and W. A. Speck, "The Societies for the Reformation of Manners: a Case Study in the Theory and Practice of Moral Reform," Literature and History 3 (1976): 53; Robert B. Shoemaker, Prosecution and Punishment. Petty Crime and the Law in London and Rural Middlesex, c. 1660-1725, ed. Anthony Fletcher, John Guy, and John Morrill, Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 241-242.

(27.) D.A. Kent, "Ubiquitous but invisible: Female Domestic Servants in Mid-eighteenth Century London," History Workshop Journal 28 (1989): 118.

(28.) 6 Geo. 2. c. 17, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 16 (Cambridge, 1765).

(29.) 2 Geo. 2, c. 17, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 16 (Cambridge, 1765).

(30.) London's hawkers tended to consist primarily of poor and otherwise marginal women, many of whom were elderly. See Bridget Hill, Women, Work, and Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-century England (New York, 1989), p. 169, and Peter Earle, "The Female Labour Market in London in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries," Economic History Review 42, no. 3 (1989): 343.

(31.) 9 Geo. 2, c. 23, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 17 (Cambridge, 1765).

(32.) The confusion may be traced to section 20 in the Act, which encouraged excisemen to enter establishments where distilled spirits were sold, and to report any violations to one or more justices of the peace.

(33.) PRO, Treasury Papers, T 1/309, October-December 1742, entry 126; Lee Davison, "Experiments in the Social Regulation of Industry: Gin Legislation, 1729-1751," in Stilling the Grumbling Hive. The Response to Social and Economic Problems in England, 1689-1750, ed. Lee Davison, et al. (New York, 1992), p. 35. Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, The History of Liquor Licensing in England Principally from 1700 to 1830 (London, 1903), p. 26, erroneously claim that only two such licenses were ever purchased.

(34.) There were, just three weeks after the Gin Act of 1736 became law, already "upwards of twenty Informers about Town, who make it their sold Business to give Informations against Persons who presume to sell spirituous Liquors contrary to the late Act ... "This is according to The London Evening-Post, 6-9 November 1736, p. 2.

(35.) Rude, "'Mother Gin' and the London Riots of 1736," pp. 62-63, and Paris and London in the Eighteenth Century. Studies in Popular Protest (London, 1970), p. 305.

(36.) John Wilson Croker, ed., Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second, from his Accession to the Death of Queen Caroline. By John, Lord Hervey, 3 vols., vol. 2 (London, 1848), pp. 133-134.

(37.) Croker, Memoirs, p. 137.

(38.) Rude, "'Mother Gin' and the London Riots of 1736," pp. 53-63.

(39.) Walpole, writing to his brother Horace in October of 1736, thus reported that "there have been infinite care taken to observe and watch all their motions for above a month past, and upon the turn that the Spittlefields riotts took ... the whole spiritt was at once dashed and seemed to have been totally laid aside; but upon the contrary success at Edinburgh, the fire kindled anew, and nothing less than such vigorous measures could have prevented the evil ... But the murmuring and complaints of the common people, for want of ginn, and the great sufferings and loss of the dealers in spirituous liquors in general, have created such uneasiness, that they well deserve a great deal of attention and consideration." See "Letter of Sir Robert Walpole to Horace Walpole on the Riots Occasioned by the Gin Act," in Memoirs of the Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford. With Original Correspondence and Authentic Papers, Never before Published, ed. William Coxe (London, 1798), pp. 359-360.

(40.) British Library, Additional MS. 33033, 1737?, folios 327 recto-328 recto; William Cobbett, ed., The Parliamentary History of England. From the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, vol.9 (London, 1811), column 1278.

(41.) Cobbett, The Parliamentary History, vol. 9, column 1281 ff.

(42.) PRO, CUST, 48/13, 1733-1745, p. 179.

(43.) PRO, Treasury Minute Book, T 29/28, 1736-1741, p. 44; PRO, General Out-letters of the Treasury, T 27/25, 1730-1741, P. 449.

(44.) The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 24 June 1737, p. 3; Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetter, 17 December 1737.

(45.) 10 Geo. 2, c.17, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 17 (Cambridge, 1765).

(46.) 11 Geo. 2, c. 26, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 17 (Cambridge, 1765).

(47.) 16 Geo. 2, c. 8, in Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 18 (Cambridge, 1765).

(48.) Reay Sabourn, A Perfect View of the Gin Act (London, 1738), pp. 35-36.

(49.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(50.) The finding is consistent Medick's contention that "consumption was by no means tied to a separation of labour in which men would function as privileged consumers ..." The one difference is that his social drinkers are rural and ours are not. See Hans Medick, "The Proto-industrial Family Economy," in Industrialization before Industrialization. Rural Industry in the Genesis of Capitalism, ed. Peter Kriedte, Hans Medick, and Jurgen Schlumbohm, Studies in Modern Capitalism (Cambridge, 1981), pp. 62-63.

(51.) Thomas Brennan, Public Drinking and Popular Culture in Eighteenth-century Paris (Princeton, 1988), p. 8.

(52.) Sabourn, A Perfect View of the Gin Act, pp. 34-35.

(53.) Sabourn, A Perfect View of the Gin Act, p. 33.

(54.) CLMA, Sessions Rolls, Middlesex Quarter Sessions, MJ/SR 2701, September 1738.

(55.) CLMA, Sessions Papers, Middlesex Sessions, MJ/SP/1737/10/108, 1737.

(56.) CLMA, Sessions Rolls, Middlesex Quarter Sessions, MJ/SR 2701, September 1738.

(57.) The Gin Act of 1736 specifically exempted "any spirits or spirituous liquors" used "in the preparation or making up of medicines for sick, lame, or distempered persons." The exemption reflects the fact that distilled spirits were still widely regarded as possessing medicinal properties. When, for example, a family ate poisonous mushrooms and were "suddenly taken sick," they availed themselves of "Geneva, which heartily purg'd and vomited them, by which Means they are all now most happily recovered " When a young woman in Hackney "was taken with a violent Fit of the Cholick" her "landlady gave her a Glass of Geneva, which gave her Ease." And when a poor woman was found naked in a ditch workers in the area revived her with a glass of gin. See Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 5 August 1738, p. 1; and The Proceedings at the Sessions of Peace, Oyer and Terminer, for the City of London and County of Middlesex, on Wednesday the 20th, Thursday the 21st, Friday the 22d, and Saturday the 23d of April, 1737 (London, 1737), p. 117.

(58.) The Grub-Street Journal, 27 October 1737, pp. 2-3.

(59.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 27 July 1738, p. 1.

(60.) The Grub-Street Journal, 27 October 1737, p. 3.

(61.) The Daily Post, 27 April 1737, p. 2.

(62.) A Short History of the Gin Act (London, 1738), p. 20.

(63.) Short History of the Gin Act, pp. 27-28.

(64.) Short History of the Gin Act, pp. 46-47.

(65.) Sabourn, A Perfect View of the Gin Act, p. 16.

(66.) Two female informers, Elizabeth Beezley and Martha Sayer or Sawyer, may also have been killed in the course of a large and much-publicized riot outside Thomas De Veil's house in Westminster. The claim appears in The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 2, and is nor corroborated elsewhere.

(67.) John Stevenson, Popular Disturbances in England 1700-1870, ed. John Stevenson, Themes in British Social History (London, 1979), p. 9.

(68.) CLMA, Calendar of Commitments to the Westminster House of Correction, WJ/CC/R 9, 4 October 1738.

(69.) The indictment in CLMA, Sessions Rolls, Middlesex Quarter Sessions, MJ/SR 2696, May 1738, puts the number of participants in the last riot at 200; Justice Nicholas Blackerby, in turn, reported that there were 500 to 600 participants in the same riot, for which see PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 1,1738.

(70.) Nicholas Rogers, "Popular Protest in Early Hanoverian London," in Rebellion, Popular Protest and the Social Order in Early Modern England, ed. Paul Slack, Past and Present Publications (Cambridge, 1984), p. 277.

(71.) PRO, KB 1/6, Michaelmas, 13 Geo. 2, bundle 3, 22 November 1739.

(72.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 27 July 1738, p. 2.

(73.) Nicholas Rogers, Whigs and Cities. Popular Politics in the Age of Walpole and Pitt (Oxford, 1989), pp. 168; 180.

(74.) Martin Ingram, "Ridings, Rough Music and the 'Reform of Popular Culture' in Early Modern England," Past and Present 105 (1984): 92.

(75.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 5 August 1738, p. 1.

(76.) Edward P. Thompson, "'Rough music': le charivari anglais," Annales, economies, societes, civilisations 27, no. 2 (1972): 288.

(77.) The London Evening-Post, 15--l8 January 1737, p. 2. This is in fact the earliest known demonstration against the informers unleashed by the Gin Act of 1736, and in it "one Pullin, a Chairman, was carry'd in Effigy about the several Streets, Squares, &c. in the Parish of St. George Hanover-Square, for informing against a Victualler in Princess-street ... and after the Procession was over he was fix'd upon a Chair-Pole in Hanover-Square, with a Halter about his Neck, and then a Load of Faggots placed round him, in which Manner he was burnt in the Sight of a vast Concourse of People."

(78.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 9 February 1738, p. 1.

(79.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(80.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 18 February 1738.

(81.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 18 February 1738.

(82.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 5 August 1738, p. 1.

(83.) PRO, KB 1/6, Trinity, 13--14 Geo. 2, 1739.

(84.) CLMA, Middlesex Sessions, Process Register of Indictments, MJ/SBP/14, 1734-1741; Sessions Rolls, Middlesex Quarter Sessions, MJ/SR 2684, October 1737; The Grub-Street Journal, 17 February 1737, p. 2.

(85.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 4, 3 April--12 June 1738.

(86.) PRO, Process Book. London and Middlesex, KB 15/22, 1736-1745; Court of King's Bench Crown Side. Indictment Files for London and Middlesex, KB 10/24, part 2, Easter, 11 Geo. 2, 1738.

(87.) Malcom I. Thomis and Jennifer Grimmett, Women in Protest 1800-1850 (London, 1982), pp. 37--39; Edward P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," Post and Present 50 (1970): 115, and Customs in Common (London, 1991), p. 310.

(88.) Robert B. Shoemaker, "The London "Mob" in the Early Eighteenth Centuary," Journal of British Studies 26, no. 3 (1987): 285; John Bohstedt, "Gender, Household and Community Politics: Women in English Riots 1790-1810," Past and Present 120 (1988): 104.

(89.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(90.) CLMA, Calendar of Commitments to the Westminster House of Correction, WJ/CC/R 10, 1 April 1739.

(91.) The Daily Gazetteer, 10 April 1738, p. 1.

(92.) Joanna Innes, "Prisons for the Poor: English Bridewells, 1555-1800," in Labour, Law and Crime: a Historical Perspective, ed. Francis Snyder and Douglas Hay (London, 1987), p. 100.

(93.) CLMA, Sessions Rolls, Middlesex Quarter Sessions, MJ/SR 2684, October 1737.

(94.) The Grub-Street Journal, 17 February 1737, p. 2.

(95.) The Grub-Street Journal, 23 June 1737, p. 2.

(96.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 7 July 1739, P.3.

(97.) A Short History of the Gin Act (London, 1738), p. 27.

(98.) Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York, 1978), pp. 49-50.

(99.) Earlier requests for mitigation would appear to have been rejected. Thus according to The Daily Post, 12 November 1736, p. 1, "The Commissioners of Excise were not more troubled with Informations against such Persons who acted contrary to the late Act of Parliament prohibiting the Retail of Spirituous Liquors, than they are now with the Solicitations of the Friends of the Delinquents for a Mitigation, but their Honours stick close to the Letter of the Act ..." In November of 1736, it was again reported that "several Persons who had been convicted before the Commissioners of Excise, petition'd to have their Fines mitigated, but had no Relief." See The London Evening-Post, 6-9 November 1736, p. 2. For their part, the justices of the peace would appear to have interpreted the Act as precluding them from exercising any discretion in sentencing offenders. An amendment to the Gin Act of 1743 explicitly allowed both commissioners and justices to mitigate fines, for which see PRO, CUST, 48/13, 1733-1745, pp. 44 5-446, and Danby Pickering, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 18 (Cambridge, 1765), 17 Geo. 2. c.17, sect. 16.

(100.) Wealthier defendants were fined at proportionately higher rates, typically in the range of [pounds]20 to [pounds]40; like their poorer brethren, they were expected to promise "not to offend in future." See PRO, Excise Board's Minutes, 13 July 1737 to 13 January 1737, CUST 47/167, 1737, pp. 116-117; 156-158.

(101.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737; The London Magazine; or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer 1737, p. 333; The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 24 June 1737, p. 3.

(102.) PRO, Excise Board's Minutes, 13 July 1737 to 13 January 1737, CUST 47/167, 1737, pp. 47-48; 128; 7 November 1738 to 16 April 1739, CUST 47/170, 1738-1739, p. 18

(103.) The Grub-Street Journal, 17 February 1737, p. 2; The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 16 February 1738, p. 3; Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 7 July 1739, p. 3. The number of individuals benefitting from the commissioners' largesse would appear to have declined sharply over the same period; the decline probably reflects the Board's efforts to discourage spurious or unseemly prosecutions by professional informers, although this cannot be stated with absolute certainty in the absence of records detailing who was prosecuted when before the commissioners of Excise.

(104.) The Grub-Street Journal, 10 February 1736, p. 2.

(105.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 7 July 1739, p.3.

(106.) Peter Clark, "The 'Mother Gin' Controversy in the Early Eighteenth Century," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 38 (1988): 77. In 1743, the commissioners advice was sought, as is recorded in PRO, CUST, 48/13, 1733-1745, p. 398, and in Journals of the House of Commons, vol. 24 (London: 1803), p. 368. The commissioners also reviewed a draft of the Gin Act of 1751, for which see PRO, General Out-letters of the Treasury, T 27/27, 1751-1759, p. 9.

(107.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 22 July 1738, p. 3.

(108.) The Daily Post, 12 November 1736, p. 1.

(109.) The Grub-Street Journal, 17 February 1737, p. 2.

(110.) The Daily Post, 9 October 1736, p. 1; The Daily Journal, 14 October 1736, p. 2; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 15 December 1736, p. 2; The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 21 October 1736, p.2; The Daily Post, 12 November 1736, p. 1; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 22 October 1736, p. 1; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 27 October 1736, p. 1; The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 21 October 1736, p.2; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 15 December 1736, p.2.

(111.) In the parish of St. James Piccadilly, for example, the vestry ordered "That every Bedel in his respective Ward ... shall take an Account of all Geneva Shops and night houses who suffer tipling in their houses after the Watch is set and shall give such Account in writing on the first Monday in every month to one of the Churchwardens for the time being in order to his laying the same before the next Vestry that it may be recommended to the Justices of the Peace to hinder the renewal of their Licenses and that the Bedels forthwith Acquaint the persons who suffer tipling in their houses in their respective wards with this order." See CWAC, Vestry Minute Book, Parish of St. James, Piccadilly, D1759, 1712-1736, p. 420. For its part, the vestry of Sr. James Clerkenwell was at great pains to keep gin and other distilled spirits out of the local workhouse, as is recorded in the minutes for 16 May 1727, Finsbury Library, Archives Department, St James Clerkenwell Vestry Minutes 1725-1775, 1725-1775, pp. 25-26.

By 1751, the urban vestries were again active participants in the campaign to limit sales of distilled spirits, with the vestrymen of the Westminster parishes of Sr. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. George Hanover Square, Sr. Margaret, Sr. John the Evangelist, and St. Paul Covent Garden adding their names to petitions in favor of new and more restrictive legislation. See Journals of the House of Commons, vol. 26 (London: 1803), pp. 77; 94; 106. In the second half of the century, the vestries were especially active in regulating public houses, as noted by Webb and Webb, The History of Liquor Licensing in England, pp. 62-64; 74-76.

(112.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 5 August 1738, p. 3.

(113.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 5 August 1738, p. 3; Richard Hooker, The Weekly Miscellany, 18 August 1738, p. 3.

(114.) PRO, KB 1/6, Trinity, 13-14 Geo. 2,1739.

(115.) PRO, KB 1/6, Michaelmas, 13 Geo. 2, bundle 3, 22 November 1739.

(116.) CLMA, Middlesex Sessions Books & Orders of Court Calendar, 1735-1738, p. 106.

(117.) British Library, Hardwicke Papers, Additional MS. 35600, 1733-1741, folio 105 recto. Reference courtesy of Professor Norma Landau.

(118.) Rogers, "Popular Protest in Early Hanoverian London," p. 281; Joyce Ellis, "Urban Conflict and Popular Violence. The Guildhall Riots of 1740 in Newcastle upon Tyne," International Review of Social History 25, no. 3 (1980): 346; Robert B. Shoemaker, "The London 'Mob' in the Early Eighteenth Century," Journal of British Studies 26, no.3 (1987): 277; 295-296; Thompson, Customs in Common, p. 326.

(119.) Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800, p. 63.

(120.) The Daily Gazetteer, 11 May 1738, p. 2.; The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 16 February 1738, P. 3.

(121.) PRO, Court of King's Bench Crown Side. Indictment Files for London and Middlesex, KB 10/23, part 2, Hillary, 11 Geo. 2, 1737.

(122.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 5 August 1738, p. 2.

(123.) Thomas De Veil, Memoirs of the Life and limes, of Sir Thomas Deveil (London, 1748), p.42.

(124.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 2.

(125.) The Daily Gazetteer, 11 May 1738, p. 2; De Veil, Memoirs, (London, 1748), p. 42.

(126.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 2.

(127.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 1,1738.

(128.) Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, The Parish and the County, English Local Government (London, 1963), pp. 324-331; Norma Landau, The Justices of the Peace, 1679-1760 (Berkeley, 1986), pp. 202-203.

(129.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 1,1738; The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 1.

(130.) PRO, Pye Book. London and Middlesex, IND 1/6672.

(131.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December l737.

(132.) The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 23 May 1737, p. 4.

(133.) The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant, 25 August 1737, p. 2.

(134.) Read's Weekly Journal , or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(135.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 27 July 1738, p. 1; Richard Hooker, The Weekly Miscellany, 28 July 1738, pp. 2-3; Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 29 July 1738, p.4; The Gentleman's Magazine; or, Monthly Intelligencer, July 1738, p. 379; The London Magazine; or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, August 1738, p. 411. The number of individuals reportedly convicted by the commissioners of Excise cannot be reconciled with the much smaller number recorded by the commissioners themselves, and is probably inflated, as noted by Lee Davison, "Experiments in the Social Regulation of Industry: Gin Legislation, 1729-1751," in Stilling the Grumbling Hive. The Response to Social and Economic Problems in England, 1689-1750, ed. Lee Davison, et al. (New York, 1992), pp. 36-37. According to PRO, CUST, 48/13, 1733-1745, p. 397, and Treasury Papers, T1/309, October-December 1742, entry 128, the commissioners convicted about 900 retailers during the same period of time, and convicted 1,642 ret ailers over the lifetime of the Act.

(136.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 17 December 1737.

(137.) CLRO, Repertories, 1737-1738, p. 267.

(138.) PRO, PC 1/15/5, part 1, 1738; PC 1/15/5, part 3, 3 April-7 June 1738; PC 1/15/5, part 4, 3 April-12 June 1738; Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 29 July 1738, p. 2.

(139.) Our sample of retailers includes 14 shipwrights, one sailmaker, 12 rope-makers, two riggers, and 23 carpenters, in addition to 27 mariners and five soldiers.

(140.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 5 August 1738, p. 1.

(141.) Read's Weekly Journal , or, British-Gazetteer, 7 July 1739, p. 3.

(142.) The London Evening-Post, 21-23 July 1743, p. 2.

(143.) M. Dorothy George, London Life in the 18th Century, second ed. (New York, 1965), p. 182; John M. Beattie, "The Criminality of Women in Eighteenth-century England," Journal of Social History 8 (1975): 103; John M. Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800 (Princeton, 1986), pp. 230-231.

(144.) Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800, p. 213.

(145.) The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, 16 May 1738, p. 1.

(146.) Read's Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer, 6 January 1739, p. 2.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Ivis, Frank
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 1999
Words:16084
Previous Article:"AN ARGUMENT THAT GOES BACK TO THE WOMB": THE DEMEDICALIZATION OF FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, 1973-1992.
Next Article:POLITICS AND THE TECHNOLOGY OF HONOR: DUELING IN TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY MEXICO.
Topics:


Related Articles
Sensibly stonewalling the press.
The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, vol. 6: Parts 1 and 2.
Does American Democracy Need God?
Confession.
Letters to the Editor.
Voting in the next election.
Remission of Gin: what 18th-century London can teach us about fighting vice.
The Thrashard meets the Poser.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters