At this time gin was already being produced in England having been discovered as “Dutch Courage” by British naval sailors when supporting Holland during the Dutch War of Independence in 1568. William began by imposing high taxes on the popular imports of other spirits (such as French brandy) while equally offering tax benefits to help drive British subjects to distil their own spirits from, “good English corn” in an attempt to increase sale of national produce. Up to that point the production of national spirits were well controlled and monopolized through the London Guild of Distillers, a guild who was promptly disbanded as part of William’s grand plan. By the end of the first two years of activation, national gin production rocketed to 500,000 gallons a year. Enter “Madam Geneva”.
By 1721 English Excise and Revenue accounts noted that approximately one quarter of London’s residents were employed in the production of gin, equating for almost 2 million gallons (9.1 million liters) of tax free product a year. Over the following decade, gin consumption (by the average adult over the age of 15) would double again and the cities half a million population would be able to purchase a dram of gin for little more than a penny at a choice of almost 7000 gin shops. Naturally the major cities in England began to fall into a “well-documented drunken stupor”.
A 1736 pamphlet from some of the teetotal minority entitled, Distilled Liquors: The Bane of the Nation mentioned,
“In one place not far from East Smithfield, a trader has a large empty room where, as his wretched guests get intoxicated, they are laid together in heaps, men women and children, until they recover their senses, when they proceed to drink on, or having spent all they had, go out to find the means to return to the same dreadful pursuit”.
Possibly the most horrendous crime in the name of gin was the case of Judith Defour and her female accomplice known simply as Sukey. The statement recorded during her trail at the Old Bailey, London on 27th February, 1734 – recorded the following confession from Miss Defour; “On Sunday [sic] Night we took the Child into the Fields, and stripp’d it, and ty’d a Linen Handkerchief hard about its Neck to keep it from crying, and then laid it in a Ditch. And after that, we went together, and sold the Coat and Stay for a Shilling, and the Petticoat and Stockings for a Groat. We parted the Money, and join’d for a Quartern of Gin”. The most sobering piece of this story lies in the fact that the victim was Miss Defours two year old daughter Mary…and all for 60 mls each of Gin.
When the parliament finally passed the first Gin Act in 1736, the nation (long addicted) rioted from Bristol to London, Norwich to Warrington and Liverpool to Plymouth with mock funeral processions held by some in protest to, “The death of Madam Geneva”. Despite this first regulatory action, gin madness continued to rise and reached an all-time high in 1743 when it was recorded that 2.2 gallons (8 litres) were consumed per person per year (of ALL ages).
Consumption of gin finally began to decline with the passing of a second official Gin Act in 1751. The success of this Act placed limitations on the production and retail of the spirit including increased excise taxes along with the manpower to help enforce it. Despite these final regulations coming into effect it was estimated that 9000 children in London alone died of alcohol poisoning that single year.
The excessive consumption by the general English population during the gin epidemic is difficult to comprehend by today’s comforts. The two key elements of note to help understand the times were that Europe was undergoing what is known as “The Mini Ice Age” with frequent snow storms and even the River Thames commonly freezing over completely. As such, drinking spirits was a cheap and relatively simple way to help escape the chill. Additionally the general hygiene conditions of the time and the poor state of available drinking water meant that a distilled liquid guaranteed a purified hydration from any disease or parasites that were commonly found therein, and therefore gin not just safe to drink but very easy and cheap to obtain.
Kicked Out of Heaven Vol. II
Now Available $54.00
The Untold History of The White Races cir. 700 – 1700 a.d.
666 pages 197 pages
- ISBN-10: 1943820058
- ISBN-13: 978-1943820054
ONLY 2 COPIES LEFT!
Kicked Out Of Heaven Vol. II: The Untold History of The White Races cir. 700-1700 a.d. is a 3 volume series that will be released one by one. This book details everything about European society and mentality. In this edition you will find these facts: Alcoholism & The Blue Devils, Insanity & Lead Poisoning, Ergot (LSD) Hallucinations, The Sweating Sickness & Leprosy, The Tobacco Enema & Leeches, The Defloration Mania, The Dancing Mania, The Black Death, The Gravediggers & Body Snatchers, Jews Poisoning the Wells, Millions of Deaths, Folklore & Superstition, Magic Mirrors & Crystal Balls, Witches Dancing in Baby Blood, Pants Made of Human Skin, Necromancy & Ghost Armies, Attacks from The Undead, Lycanthropy & Were-Wolves, Multiple Cases of Vampires, Who is Satan, Lucifer & The Devil!