Tag: Gin Craze

Parliament Created the 18th-Century’s Great Gin Craze

“[N]oe sort of Brandy Aqua vite or other Spirits or distilled Waters of any Kingdome Country or place whatsoever shall after the said foure and twentyeth day of August be imported into the Kingdoms of England or Ireland . . .”.

If you read the Wikipedia entries about England’s Great Gin Craze, you see descriptions about how bad it was and how Parliament passed a series of acts to stop it.

But you see scarcely any references to the series of Parliamentary Acts that caused it in the first place.

Let’s look at England at the end of the 17th century.

It had a new royal family in the form of William of Orange, who usurped James II’s throne in the 1688 Glorious Revolution.

William was not universally liked, especially among the Jacobites, who never stopped scheming to get James Stuart II back on the throne.

William was also not liked by the French, whom he bitterly fought in the War of the Grand Alliance and who worked with the Jacobites to get the Stuarts back on the throne.

William, in turn, hated the French and so did his supporters in Parliament.

What better way to strike at the French than to ban trade with them, including a prohibition on its brandy? And so that’s what happened, almost immediately after taking the throne by the passage of the Trade with France Act of 1688, which took specific aim at French brandy (the most popular liquor in England at the time).


“The Howards . . . the Cavendishes, the Cecils, the Russells, and fifty other new families . . . rose upon the ruins of religion.” Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State.

At the same time, Parliament passed the Distilling Act of 1690 that authorized anybody to distill spirits. This created … Read the rest