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Cock-Fighting

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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Cock-Fighting

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Casino Gambling in history


Cock-fighting was the favourite amusement of James I., in whose
reign there were cock-pits in St James's Park, Drury Lane, Tufton
Street, Shoe Lane, and Jermyn Street. There was a cock-pit in
Whitehall, erected for the more magnificent exhibition of the
sport; and the present room in Westminster in which her Majesty's
Privy Council hold their sittings, is called the Cock-pit, from
its being the site of the veritable arena of old.

Cock-fighting was prohibited by one of Oliver's acts in 1654; but
with the return of Charles and his profligacy, the sport again
flourished in England. Pepys often alludes to it in his 'Diary.'

Thus, Dec. 21, 1663, he writes:--

'To Shoe Lane, to see a cocke-fighting at a new pit there, a spot
I was never at in my life; but, Lord! to see the strange variety
of people, from Parliament man, by name Wildes, that was Deputy-
Governor of the Tower when Robinson was Lord Mayor, to the
poorest 'prentices, bakers, brewers, butchers, draymen, and what
not; and all these fellows one with another cursing and betting.
I soon had enough of it. It is strange to see how people of this
poor rank, that look as if they had not bread to put in their
mouths, shall bet three or four pounds at a time, and lose it,
and yet bet as much the next battle; so that one of them will
lose L10 or L20 at a meeting.'

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