Sin and the City: William Hogarth's London

hogarth beer street3.jpg
Detail from Beer Street, 1751. Etching and engraving.

Since our new exhibition:

Sin & the City
William Hogarth’s London

will be opening next week, 26 August 2011, it might be a good time to see just how sinful London was in the eighteenth century. Happily, the trial records for the city of London have been digitized and recently opened to the public at:

Between 1700 and 1800, 1123 trials mention that “gin” was involved in some part of the crime. 2668 trials mention that the party or parties had been drinking and 3713 mention that beer was consumed. Among the many possible punishments, 385 trials ended in execusion, 9 hanging in chains, 551 in public whipping, and 699 in private whipping.

William Hogarth is mentioned in two trials, but as these took place after the death of our artist, we can assume it was a different William Hogarth. The poor Parish of St. Giles, where so many of Hogarth’s scenes took place, is mentioned in 706 proceedings.

The directors of the Old Bailey Online project, and authors of all the historical background pages, are Professor Clive Emsley (Open University), Professor Tim Hitchcock (University of Hertfordshire) and Professor Robert Shoemaker (University of Sheffield). Prof. Hitchcock has spent the last twenty years helping to create a ‘new history from below’ which puts the experiences and agency of the poor and of working people at the heart of our understanding of the history of eighteenth-century Britain. He will be speaking at Princeton University for the Library’s opening celebration on 7 October 2011.

For more information, see