Throughout the 1770s John Molesworth repeatedly, spectacularly and notoriously offered for sale tickets in the British state lotteries that he claimed were more likely than others to win prizes. In this article I tell his story and explore how he defended his claim against attacks that it was ‘absurd’ and an ‘imposition’, and how he persuaded adventurers in the lottery to purchase his tickets. He drew on a wide range of knowledge-making and trust-promoting techniques from natural philosophical, corporate and legal contexts, but at the heart of the strategy was his own status as a gentleman.
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- John Molesworth
- Print culture