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4 - Lottery Adventures and Adventurers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2022

Bob Harris
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

This chapter seeks to establish who adventured in the lottery, on what sorts of scale, and how regularly. It moves beyond purely impressionistic comment and evidence, and goes in search of systematic records for participation in the official lotteries. It underlines the sheer social and geographical extent of participation in the lottery, which developed first and most intensively in London and its environs, but which quickly spread far beyond the capital and its extensive shadow. The second half examines the motivations of those who undertook lottery adventures, focusing on attitudes towards ‘fortune’ or luck, and the extent to which the lottery served to exemplify and amplify the social solvent which was money, but also engage very widely entertained hopes for independence and social mobility present in British society in this period. Men, women, and children, from all social backgrounds, were susceptible to the allure of the lottery and the possibility of winning one of the capital prizes in the draw, even if some among the upper and middling ranks sought to distance themselves from such entrapments at the same time that they entertained them.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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