The first state lottery was chartered by Elizabeth I in 1566 and took place in 1569. Its aim was to provide money for the defences of Portsmouth and other ports.
Each ticket holder won a prize and the total value of the prizes equalled the money raised, so it provided an interest free loan. Prizes came in the form of silver plate, jewellery and tapestries. The lottery was promoted by scrolls posted throughout the country showing sketches of the prizes.
Lotteries continued into the 19th century by which time they were organised through brokers.
Details of a new state lottery were announced on this day in 1808 in the Hampshire Telegraph.
Tickets were available from W Woodward, the town’s licensed lottery agent, at The Hard, Portsea.
There were 20,000 tickets with one winner in every four and prizes ranged from £15 to £20,000. Most people were unable to afford a ticket so shares in them were sold. By the 1820s the idea had fallen out of favour, one of the worries being the morality of speculators fleecing the poor who were desperate to improve their lot – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.