The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Gambling

Ah, gambling. Gambling was an aspect of Regency life that was accepted as normal, even required. It was, however, technically illegal.

Gambling was made illegal in the early-1700s when it was decided that such an addictive pastime, where whole fortunes were won and lost, needed to be curtailed. This merely forced the activity to go behind closed doors. By the time the Regency rolled around, gambling was more than just a pleasurable pursuit. It was nearly a requirement in High Society.

The things one could gamble on were many and varied. Ladies and gentlemen could gamble at nearly every Society function, as most of these had card rooms for those who didn't care to dance. For gentlemen, they could also gamble at horse races, pugilistic events (boxing), cock fights, dog fights, and many other sports that ran along the same lines.

Gambling at private parties such as balls usually had limits. Even card parties tended towards smaller stakes, although fortunes could still be won or lost on the turn of a card. If a gentleman wanted to take real chances with his money or property, he had to go to a gaming house or gambling hell.

Curiously, in researching for this post, I have stumbled across a name that I have never heard before. William Crockford was possibly the richest self-made man of the time. His gambling house was said to rival the Palace of Versailles for opulence. He built his gambling house in 1827 in St James's Street, calling it Crockford's Club.

Perhaps the reason this man and his club goes unmentioned is the time he was known. Few Regencies venture into the time after the coronation of the George IV even though this time was still considered the "Regency" by most.

Speaking of George IV, he was quite the gambler himself. However, I think maybe he deserves his own post, don't you?

*Further reading: The Regency Underworld by Donald A Low and the Wikipedia article titled William Crockford.
**As always, I welcome comments or questions. Feel free to correct or question everything. :o)


jrlindermuth said...

Interesting, Jaimey. I enjoy checking out your blog. On the same subject, One of my recent newspaper history columns was about two fellows who wagered their wives. Naturally the wives weren't amused.

Jaimey Grant said...

Thanx, John! I appreciate your interest.

And, LOL! Maybe the wives would have been better off without the husbands altogether. :o)

In researching the post, I read about a blacksmith who bet he could eat a pint of periwinkles (small snails) with their shells. When he did that, he agreed to do it again. He got so sick that they didn't expect him to recover. I have to wonder at the common sense of gamblers. Does it just go begging when it's time to play?

Thanx for stopping by!


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