Majesty and Machinations: A Glimpse into Pre-1900s United Kingdom

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11 Victorian Brothels

Victorian Brothels

In 1857, there were an estimated 80,000 prostitutes in London, and one out of every 60 houses functioned as a brothel.

12 Gin Epidemic Effects

Gin Epidemic Effects

In 1723, London’s death rate exceeded the birth rate, a trend lasting a decade due to Gin. Women addicted to gin often neglected or sedated their infants with it. The term ‘Mother’s Ruin’ endures to this day.

13 Dublin’s Whiskey Fire

Dublin's Whiskey Fire

The 1875 Great Whiskey Fire in Dublin claimed 13 lives. Interestingly, none died from smoke or burns; instead, they died of alcohol poisoning resulting from drinking the flowing whiskey in the streets.

14 London’s “Harris’s List”


The Harris’s List, an 18th-century catalog of London prostitutes, offered details like addresses, prices, skills, and appearance ratings. Published annually for decades, it provided a unique insight into the sex industry.

15 Longest Legal Case

Longest Legal Case

William Jennens, Britain’s wealthiest man in the late 18th century, passed away in 1798 without a signed will. The legal proceedings spanned over a century, draining the inheritance in legal costs, and the case only concluded in 1915.

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16 British Curry Legacy

British Curry Legacy

Curry’s presence in Britain predates fish and chips. The first Indian restaurant emerged in 1809, while fish and chips only appeared around 1858 at the earliest.

17 UK’s Slavery Payment

UK's Slavery Payment

In 1833, Britain allocated 40% of its national budget to purchasing freedom for all Empire slaves. However, true freedom only came after seven years of “apprenticeship.” This act, though, excluded the British East India Company’s territories.

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18 Historical Jewish Ban

Historical Jewish Ban

In 1290, Jews were banned from England for 300 years and earlier had to wear a distinctive mark signifying their Jewish identity.

19 Taxation of Bricks

Taxation of Bricks

In 1784, Britain introduced a brick tax to fund colonial wars. The tax was levied per thousand bricks, resulting in manufacturers using larger bricks. To counter this, the government restricted brick dimensions and increased the tax on larger bricks in 1801.

20 Last Teen Execution

Last Teen Execution

In 1849, 17-year-old Sarah Thomas became Britain’s last teenage girl to be hanged. Found guilty of killing her employer. Sarah was dragged screaming and crying to the gallows, pleading for her life. So distressing was the scene that the prison governor even fainted.

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