Elizabeth Gabay: How did punch survive the impact of the Gin Acts 1729-1751…
Posted on 03-09-2013
Between 1729 and 1751 Parliament passed a series of Acts raising the duty payable on cheap spirits in an attempt to control excessive gin consumption. The 1736 Act in particular sparked impassioned debate concerning alcoholic consumption. Health, crime and the financial importance of the Sugar Colonies were all issues raised. ‘Mother’s Ruin’ (gin), the drink of the urban poor and associated with crime, eventually declined in popularity. Punch, made with
the more expensive brandy, arrack and occasionally rum, was drunk by all classes and an ‘inspiration’ towards debate and conversation. Punch was also the subject of moral condemnation as seen in Hogarth’s ‘Modern Midnight Conversation’ (1732-33) which shows the drunken effects of consuming several bowls of punch. Using the evidence of debates, letters and recipes, I will show how the impact of moral judgement, stirred by the Gin Acts, led to the style of punch evolving during the eighteenth century, from the undiluted drink of the early 1700s, to the classic punch with a ratio of one measure of spirits to four or five measures of weak (water, milk or tea). In the early nineteenth century, gin resurfaced as a fashionable ingredient in punch.


Under Control?

Location: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

"Under Control? Alcohol and Drug Regulation, Past and Present"  conference was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 21-23rd June 2013. Under Control? was supported by the Alcohol Research UK; Bowling Green State University; the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, Brock University (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences); the Society for the Study…

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Lifeline Project & FEAD Read more

Welcome to Lifeline and FEAD (Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs). This project has been shaped by the wealth of experience, openness, and knowledge of the contributors. You are invited to comment on the clips, which are supported by footnotes to which you can add. FEAD is an ongoing Lifeline Project initiative.

Lifeline Project: In 1971 the Lifeline Project opened a day centre for drug users in Manchester. Since its foundation Lifeline has grown and developed, and now works in a diverse range of settings across the UK. Our purpose is to relieve poverty, sickness and distress among those persons affected by addiction to drugs of any kind, and to educate the public on matters relating to drug misuse.