Elizabeth I signed letter (1533-1603) (PF260)
Elizabeth I signed two-page letter regarding England's first public lottery
Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was born into royalty and an age of religious controversy. Her reign, lasting from 1558 until her death in 1603, was marked by two major occurrences: the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587; and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588. Often thought of as The Golden Age, Elizabeth's reign saw a flourishing culture of arts and exploration.
Famed for her temper, Elizabeth was well educated, quick-witted and did not suffer fools gladly. Uncertainty was caused by her stubborn refusal to marry and the succession was in jeopardy due to her lack of heirs. However, Elizabeth named her first cousin twice-removed, James VI, as her successor and he became the first sovereign to reign over both England and Scotland.
Elizabeth was an innovative thinker and pioneered the introduction of England's first public lottery in 1566. Writing to Sir John Spencer, 31st August 1567, she instructs:
"Where we have com[m]anded a ceratine carte of a Lotterie to be published by our Shirif of Countie in the principal townes of the same, of which, we send you certen copies for the further execution thereof it is expedient to have somme persons appointed of good trust to receave such particular sommes as our subjects shall of their owne free disposition be ready to deliver upon the said lotterie who also shall we w[it]hout faile be dewly authorised and their adventures shall happen w[it]hout either deceypt or delaye"
The letter continues to describe how Spencer will conduct his orders, first by consulting with his superiors and then choosing appropriate collectors. The allocation of monies is also detailed whereby, out of every pound sterling he is to be allowed sixpence to pay the collectors, and those who bring the proceeds to the Chamber of the City of London, and to issue books of numbers and tickets. As an incentive to Spencer, he will receive 50 shillings for every five hundred pounds sent to London.
Anyone who slanders the workings of the lottery is ordered to be arrested and punished, as Elizabeth is forceful in her intent that the lottery will be uncorrupted, stating: "Anything advantagious is ordered to be employed to good and publique acts and beneficially for o[u]r Realme and o[u]r Subjects".
Signed by the Queen, "Elizabeth R", on the top of the first page, her exuberant and flourishing signature is large and prominent. This rare two-page document written at Windsor Castle is in excellent condition.
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