The Death of Mother Gin

Friday 23 September 1735   LONDON, Sept. 18.   The Grand Jury of this City, met at the Old Bailey, have Presented to the Lord Mayor, &c. the surprizing Increase of Gin-shops, and the most dreadful and lasting ill Consequences attending the same; as, 1, That our lower kind of People are enfeebled, having neither Will nor Power to labour for Bread, which is one Cause of the Increse of our Poor. 2, Servants are corrupted and bribed to rob their Masters. 3, The Nation (if obliged to enter into the War) will want stout and lusty Soldiers; the Merchant, Sailors; and the Husbandman, Labourers: The Children of such as are addicted to this Vice, being observed to be proportionably weakened and lessen'd, as well as depraved; and as the Riches and Strength of a Nation chiefly arise from the Number of strong and laborious Inhabitants; so as these are enfeebled or diminished, must the Power and Riches of a Nation decrease. 4, To this growing Evil is much owing the many Fires that have happened of late. 5, that most of the late Murders and Robberies have been concerted in Gin-shops, and thence, fired with these hot Spirits, they proceed, ready to execute the most daring Attempts. 6, The daily Increase of Immorality is owing to the Passion being inflamed by these Spirits; Cursing, Blaspheming, and Fighting in our Streets, Women throwing off all Modesty and Shame in open Day; and in private, not common Lust alone is satisfied, but Rapes and Sodomy perpetrated, above what we have ever known. Therefore crave, That none presume to retail Spirits who have not Licences; and that the Licences be taken from all such as keep disorderly Houses, Night-cellars, &c. the common Concealers of Stolen Goods, &c.
          A Scheme is before the ministry, for preventing the making and vending those vast Quantities of Geneva [i.e. gin], so pernicious to the People. (Caledonian Mercury)

5 October 1736
Last Wednesday ... several people made themselves very merry on the death of Madam Gin, and some of both sexes got soundly drunk at her funeral, for which the mob made a formal procession with torches, but committed no outrages.

     The exit of Mother Gin in Bristol, has been enough bewail’d by the retailers and drinkers of it; many of the latter, willing to have their fill, and to take the last farewel in a respectful manner of their beloved Dame, have not scrupled to pawn and sell their very cloaths, as the last devoir they can pay to her memory. It was observ’d, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that several retailers shops were well crowded, some tippling on the spot, while others were carrying it off from a pint to a gallon, and one of those shops had such a good trade, that it put every cask they had upon the stoop; and the owner with sorrowful sighs said, Is not this a barbarous and cruel thing, that I must not be permitted to fill them again? And pronounc’d a heavy woe, on the instruments of their dropping. Such has been the lamentation, that on Wednesday night her funeral obsequies were perform’d with formality in several parishes, and some of the votaries appeared in ragged cloaths, some without gowns, and others with one stocking; but among them all, we don’t hear of any that have carried their grief so far, as to hang or drown themselves, rather chusing the drinking part to finish their sorrow; and accordingly a few old women are pretty near tipping off the perch, by siping too large a draught.
     We hear from Bath, that Mother Gin has been lamented in that city much after the same manner. (Daily Gazetteer)

13 October 1736
’Tis remarkable, that the Justices of the Peace within the City and Liberty of Westminster and elsewhere, are (since the commencement of the Gin Act) not so fatigued, and daily perplex’d, with persons of the meaner sort, in taking out warrants for assaults, they behaving now in a quiet and peaceable manner, since they are prevented from that intoxicating liquor; to the great credit of the late Act, few or no quarrels arising, so that the gaols are almost empty. (Daily Gazetteer)

22 January 1737
Monday one Pulling, 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 for retaiing spirituous liquors, 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. (Read's Weekly Journal, or, British Gazetteer)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "The Death of Mother Gin", 2 December 2003, updated 24 January 2012 <>

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