Act 24. Geo. II c. 40 was a response to a long-standing campaign to
curb the dreadful consequences of cheap gin. Henry Fielding
inveighed against the “diabolical liquour” in his Inquiry into
the Late Increase in Robbers
(January 1751) and William
Hogarth gave graphic representation to its effects in his
engravings Beer Street
1751). The Act made it unlawful for distillers to sell directly,
restricting gin sales to taverns worth £10 per annum.
Gin distilling had in fact been encouraged by official
government policy and its paid journalists since the 1710s since it
increased the demand for corn, and therefore contributed to the
revenues of large landowners who produced for …
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