11 Jan: England’s First Lottery

With a top prize of £5,000 and a celebrity backer in the form of Queen Elizabeth I, England embarked on its first ever national lottery draw at St Paul’s Cathedral on 11th January, 1569.

The results continued to be announced, day and night, for four months; a particularly prolonged process due to the fact that the prizes had to be divided into twelve, as the organisers had only sold a twelfth as many tickets as had been predicted. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why the cost of entry had been set so high (a year’s salary for a working class labourer); reveal the desperate ‘get out of jail free’ tactic to flog more tickets; and ask whether, despite its apparent failure, the event was, at least, proof-of-concept for the state funded lotteries we still know today…

Further Reading:

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