Lotteries have been present in history for longer than you’d think. Although they weren’t as efficient and rewarding compared to today’s platforms like lottoroyals.com, some of them hold crucial significance in the overall history.
In March 12, 1612, the first fundraising lottery of London took place, authorized by King James I, for the settlement of Jamestown. The idea of a lottery was new at the time and proved to be revolutionary in the long run.
The Settlement of Jamestown
Jamestown was America’s first, permanent English Colony, funded and sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, expecting to profit from the venture of a new colony. The town was named after King James I, who was, at the time, leasing the company.
The Virginia Company held English National ideals of expansion, especially to the Orient, and the conversion of Virginia Indians to the Anglican religion, which is exactly what the Company had hoped to do with the new settlement.
Right after its establishment, however, the settlement began to suffer from illnesses, starvation, and attacks from outraged Indians. The Virginia Company could not aid its own settlement due to severe economic losses. Ultimately, King James I approved a proposed plan in support of the venture.
Beginning of the Fundraising Lottery
The plan was to create a system of lottery, a game of lucky chance where the common people would invest in an opportunity for a grand prize.
At the time of this lottery, charitable donations or contributions was beyond the conceptual understanding of people, making this London’s first fundraising lottery event. Marketing for the event was done in the form of a song to appeal to the masses, which went like:
“To London, worthy Gentlemen, / go venture there your chaunce: / good lucke stands now in readinesse, / your fortunes to advance”
The Events that Took Place in the Lottery in 1612
John Stow, an English historian, documented a series of events that took place in England’s history in what he called Stow’s Chronicles, and in a book named Survey of London. In Stow’s Chronicles, he recorded that in March 12, 1612, a common man named Thomas Sharplisse, who was a tailor and who was from London, gathered around with thousands of others at the lottery house near St. Paul’s Church, to watch the lottery tickets being drawn.
Sharplisse spent two shillings and six pence on a lottery ticket, and according to Stow’s documents, won the Grand Prize of four thousand crowns. Two other Englishmen also took home smaller prizes. It seemed to be a great victory for all.
With the sales from the lottery tickets, the Virginia Company paid for the prizes, the fees of the salesmen and managers, and for other auxiliary expenses. The remaining revenue was used to provide supplies to Jamestown to aid their condition. The event was a brilliant success.
Significance and Consequences
Over the years, fundraising lotteries became a potent resource even though nearly sixty thousand lottery tickets were unsold during the first event. Captain John Smith referred to the idea of lotteries as the “real and substantial food”, aptly so, because of the sheer power of these events to transcend adversity.
However, eventually, the king banned lotteries that were for the benefit of Jamestown because of the series of complaints that the crown kept receiving about how lotteries were robbing England of money. It was primarily English commoners who would spend their hard-earned dimes in hopes of winning a chance draw. Meaning that, Jamestown was benefitting directly from England’s economy. So the king was essentially pressurized to place a ban.
Aftermath and the Legacy of the First Lottery
Regardless, the first fundraising lottery of London was tremendously successful, and paved the way for a revolutionary concept. Even though lotteries were banned eventually by the crown, the idea of it being a powerful tool remained. A century later, the masses of the Thirteen Colonies came together and used fundraising lotteries to fund for the American Revolutionary War.