‘A misdemeanour such as cheating at cards was regarded as more shameful than such sins as murder and adultery…might well cause a gentleman of sensitive honour to make away with himself ‘ : Clouds of Witness, D.L.Sayers.
The 1845 Gaming Act dated Today amended the law concerning Gaming and Wagers which had been on the Statute Book since Henry VIII.(1)
The new Act which banned all casinos and gaming establishments was influenced by Clapham Sect Evangelicals as the Rev Thomas Gisborne, notable for saying, ‘the Master of the House should not attend savage spectacle of the cockpit and boxing matches nor engage in ruinous occupation of race courses and gaming tables. Rather he should in the evenings sit with family reading history and poetry and other enlightening pursuits’.
The revived Puritanism of the early 19thc saw Lotteries abolished in 1826 as, ‘the inducement to gambling held out by lotteries was a great moral evil, helping to impoverish many, and diverting attention from the more legitimate industrial modes of moneymaking’. Thus ended ‘Blanks and Prizes’ the jocular reference to lottery losers and winners.
It was a moral drive from the pulpit and elsewhere which set the tone for Victorian Britain well into the 20thc.
The novelist Jane Austen familiar with the views of Gisborne and others however regarded gaming in a small way, as relief for boredom, with card games portrayed in Mansfield Park, though where it involved ruinous sums as with Mr. Wickham was ‘beyond the pale’.
However despite The Gaming Act the rich in country houses carried on as usual as highlighted by the Tranby Croft Scandal involving Sir William Gordon-Cumming(Bart). The baronet was charged with cheating at baccarat at a house-party at the home of shipping magnate, Sir Arthur Wilson, attended by Edward, Prince of Wales.
Gordon-Cumming was forced to write a confession never to play cards again in exchange for silence, but when the scandal became public Cumming brought a charge of libel against Wilson, in proceedings, which was ticket only, before the Lord Chief Justice.
Edward was called as a witness, the first time since 1411 for an heir to the throne, Cumming lost his case, dismissed the army and banished from High Society, with The Times saying: ‘The mortal offence means that Society can know him no more’.
Gamblers come from all classes, the aristocracy just do it bigger; the Hastings’ Family lost its estates in the 19thc, and the 11th Duke of Devonshire in the 20thc once confided that his chemin de fer losses often ran to five figures [at illegal premises], this when trying to save Chatsworth from the taxman.
Laws were relaxed on gambling in the mid-20thc.
(1) Relating to an ‘Act passed in the reign of King Henry the eighth intituled (sic) The Bill for maintaining Artillery, and the debarring of unlawful Games whereby any Game or mere skill such as Bowling, Coyting, Cloyshcayls, Half Bowl, Tennis…which regulated the making, selling or using Bows and Arrows…[ which] requires Mayors, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Constables…within every City, Borough and Town…to make search weekly or at The farthest Once a Month….shall be repealed.’
The Times. 10th June 1891 p.9.
Google Books. Mike Atherton, 2007.
Daily Mail. 25.7.2007.Ray Connelly. Secrets of Clermont Con.
Professor Rowland Williams, one of the most influential theologians of the 19th century, was a supporter of the new Biblical criticism and a pioneer of comparative religious studies in Britain.
After being charged with heresy along with the Editor of ‘Essays and Reviews’, they were acquitted on appeal to the Privy Council. It proved to be a turning point in protecting the liberty and conscience, of those within the Church of England.
Four months after Darwin’s publication on evolution, ‘Essays and Reviews’ was published in March 1860. It was a Broad Church volume of seven essays on Christianity by seven academics and Anglican churchman, reflecting the new theological thinking.
Today in 1862 Professor Rowland Williams, vice-Principal and Professor of Hebrew at St.David’s, Lampeter, Wales, was found guilty along with theologian, Henry Bristow Wilson on 3 out of the 8 Articles brought against them in the dissertation on the ‘National Church’ in the influential ‘ Essays and Reviews’.(1)
They were prosecuted by Walter Kerr Hamilton, Bishop of Salisbury for heterodoxy, three of which were admitted, and cited before The Arches Court of Canterbury. The trial occupied ten days between the 19th and 21st of December 1861, and between the 7th and 16th of January 1862-constituting a cause-celebre at the time.
However the Judgement handed down, sanctioned most positions of Biblical criticism and the relationship of scripture to science. Later hearings dealt with those relating to the three indictments concerning the admitted articles.
The charges related to the ‘Essays and Reviews’ published in February 1860 by seven theologians who had been influenced by the new German Higher Biblical criticism, contributors who included academics such Benjamin Jowett and Frederick Temple, later Archbishop of Canterbury, and Baden-Powell (father of Boy Scouts’ founder.
The early 19th century was the age of the ‘scriptural geologists’ many of them Anglican clergymen, such as Cockburn, Dean of York, and the influential and Evangelistic Rev.Thomas Gisborne who wrote ‘Testimony of Natural Theology to Christianity (1818), and Concerns on the Modern Theories of Geology (1837), which went against the trend of the new scientific geologists whose work on strata was demonstrating processes over millennia, thus conflicting with Biblical accounts.
(1) Williams was in office, at Lampeter, between 1849 and 1862. Bristow was a Fellow of St. John’s, Oxford.
Ref: Rowland Williams/ wikipedia.org/wikipedia/d-n-b
Ref: Essays and Reviews wikipedia.org
Next Post looks at the General who ‘Gott’ Away or ‘Monty’s’ luck.