Cavalier And Roundhead Smokers

A custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose,

harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the lungs, and in the

blacke stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the

horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is

bottomelesse.--JAMES I, _A Counterblaste to Tobacco._

The social history of smoking from the point of view of fashion,

during the period covered by this and the next t
o chapters may be

summarized in a sentence. Through the middle of the seventeenth

century smoking maintained its hold upon all classes of society, but

in the later decades there are distinct signs that the habit was

becoming less universal; and it seems pretty clear that by the time of

Queen Anne, smoking, though still extensively practised in many

classes of society, was to a considerable extent out of vogue among

those most amenable to the dictates of Fashion.

It is certain that the armies of the Parliament were great smokers,

for the finds of seventeenth-century pipes on the sites of their camps

have been numerous. A considerable number of pipes of the Caroline

period, with the usual small elongated bowls, were found in 1902 at

Chichester, in the course of excavating the foundations of the Old

Swan Inn, East Street, for building the present branch of the London

and County Bank.

We know also that the Roundhead soldiers smoked in circumstances that

did them no credit. In the account of the trial of Charles I, written

by Dr. George Bates, principal physician to his Majesty, and to

Charles II also, we read that when the sentence of the Court presided

over by Bradshaw, condemning the King to death by severing his Head

from his Body, had been read, the soldiers treated the fallen monarch

with great indignity and barbarity. They spat on his clothes as he

passed by, and even in his face; and they blew the smoak of Tobacco,

a thing which they knew his Majesty hated, in his sacred mouth,

throwing their broken Pipes in his way as he passed along.

Time brought its revenges. The dead Protector was not treated too

respectfully by his soldiery. Evelyn, describing Cromwell's superb

funeral, says that the soldiers in the procession were drinking and

taking tobacco in the streets as they went.

Whether the use of tobacco prevailed as generally among the Cavalier

forces is less certain; but as King Charles hated the weed, courtiers

may have frowned upon its use. One distinguished cavalier, however,

either smoked his pipe, or proposed to do so, on a historic occasion.

In Markham's Life of the Great Lord Fairfax there is a lively

account of how the Duke, then Marquis, of Newcastle, with his brother

Charles Cavendish, drove in a coach and six to the field of Marston

Moor on the afternoon before the battle. His Grace was in a very bad

humour. He applied to Rupert, says Markham, for orders as to the

disposal of his own most noble person, and was told that there would

be no battle that night, and that he had better get into his coach and

go to sleep, which he accordingly did. But the decision as to battle

or no battle did not rest with Prince Rupert. Cromwell attacked the

royal army with the most disastrous results to the King's cause. His

Grace of Newcastle woke up, left his coach, and fought bravely, being,

according to his Duchess, the last to ride off the fatal field,

leaving his coach and six behind him.

So far Markham: but according to another account, when Rupert told him

that there would be no battle, the Duke betook himself to his coach,

lit his pipe, and making himself very comfortable, fell asleep. The

original authority, however, for the whole story is to be found in a

paper of notes by Clarendon on the affairs of the North, preserved

among his MSS. In this paper Clarendon writes: The marq. asked the

prince what he would do? His highness answered, 'Wee will charge them

to-morrow morninge.' My lord asked him whether he were sure the enimy

would not fall on them sooner? He answered, 'No'; and the marquisse

thereupon going to his coach hard by, and callinge for a pype of

tobacco, before he could take it the enimy charged, and instantly all

the prince's horse were routed.

Gardiner evidently follows this account, for his version of the story

is: Newcastle strolled towards his coach to solace himself with a

pipe. Before he had time to take a whiff, the battle had begun. The

incident was made the subject of a picture by Ernest Crofts, A.R.A.,

which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888. It shows the Duke

leaning out of his carriage window, with his pipe in his hand.

Among the documents in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of

Scotland there is a letter patent under the great seal of Charles I,

in 1634, granted for the purpose of correcting the irregular sales and

restraining the immoderate use of tobacco in Scotland. The letter

states that tobacco was used on its first introduction as a medicine,

but had since been so largely indulged in and was frequently of such

bad quality, as not only to injure the health, but deprave the morals

of the King's subjects. These were sentiments worthy of King James.

Mr. Matthew Livingstone, who has calendared this document, says that

the King therein proceeds, in order to prevent such injurious results

of the use of tobacco, to appoint Sir James Leslie and Thomas Dalmahoy

to enjoy for seven years the sole power of appointing licensed vendors

of the commodity. These vendors, after due examination as to their

fitness, were to be permitted, on payment of certain compositions and

an annual rent in augmentation of the King's revenue, to sell tobacco

in small quantities. The letter further directs that the licensees so

appointed shall become bound to sell only sound tobacco--an admirable

provision, if a trifle difficult to enforce--and to keep good order in

their houses and shops. The latter clause, adds Mr. Livingstone,

would almost suggest that the tobacco was to be sold for consumption

on the premises,--as I have no doubt it was--and that the smokers

were probably in the habit at their symposiums of using, even as they

may still, I dare say, other indulgences not so soothing in their

effects as the coveted weed--a suggestion for which there seems

little foundation in the clause to which Mr. Livingstone refers.

One inference at least may be fairly drawn, I think, from this

document, and that is that smoking was very popular north as well as

south of the Tweed.

Tobacco was certainly cheap in Scotland. The following entries are

from a MS. account of household expenses kept by the minister of the

parish of Eastwood, near Glasgow, the Rev. William Hamilton. They

cover two months only and show that the minister was a furious smoker.

The prices given are in Scots currency, the pound Scots being worth

about twenty pence sterling:

Maii, 1651

It. to Andro Carnduff for 4 pund of Tobacco L1. 0. 0.

It. to Robert Hamilton Chapman for Tobacco 0. 18. 0.

It. 9 June to my wife to give for sax trenchers

and tobacco 1. 13. 4.

It. 10 June, The sd day for tobacco and stuffes 0. 14. 4.

28 June, It. for tobacco 0. 13. 9.

It may perhaps be interesting to compare with these prices, from

which, apparently, it may be inferred that near Glasgow tobacco could

be bought for some 5d. a pound, which seems incredibly cheap, the

occasional expenditure upon tobacco of a worthy citizen of Exeter some

few years earlier. Extracts from the Financial Diary of this good

man, whose name was John Hayne, and who was an extensive dealer in

serges and woollen goods generally, as well as in a smaller degree of

cotton goods also, were printed some years ago, with copious

annotations, by the late Dr. Brushfield.

In this Diary, covering the years 1631-43, there are some forty

entries concerning the purchase of what is always, save in one case,

called tobacka. These entries give valuable information as to the

prices of the two chief kinds of tobacco. One was imported from

Spanish America, which up to 1639 Hayne calls Varinaes, and after

that date Spanish; the other was imported from English

colonies--chiefly from Virginia. The Varinaes kind, Dr. Brushfield

suggests, was obtained from Varina, near the foot of the range of

mountains forming the west boundary of Venezuela, and watered by a

branch of the Orinoco River. Hayne also notes the purchase of

Tertudoes tobacco, but what that may have been I cannot say. From

the various entries relating respectively to Varinaes or Spanish

tobacco, and to Virginia tobacco, it is clear that the former ranged

in price from 8s. to 13s. per lb., while the latter was from 1s. 6d.

to 4s. per lb. There is one entry of perfumed Tobacka, 10 oz. of

which were bought at the very high price of 15s. 6d.

The variations in price of both Spanish and Virginia tobacco were

largely due to the frequent changes in the amount of the duty thereon.

In 1604 King James I, newly come to the throne, and full of

iconoclastic fervour against the weed, raised the duty to 6s. 8d. per

lb. in addition to the original duty of 2d. On March 29, 1615, there

was a grant to a licensed importer of the late imposition of 2s. per

lb. on tobacco--which shows that there must have been considerable

fluctuation between 1604 and 1615--while in September 1621 the duty

stood at 9d. Through James's reign much dissatisfaction was expressed

about the importation of Spanish tobacco, and the outcome of this may

probably be seen in the proclamations issued by the King in his last

two years forbidding the importation, buying, or selling tobacco

which was not of the proper growth of the colonies of Virginia and the

Somers Islands. These proclamations were several times confirmed by

Charles I, the latest being on January 8, 1631; but they do not seem

to have had much effect.

Hayne's Diary contains one or two entries relating to smokers'

requisites. In September 1639 he spent 2d. on a new spring to his

Tobacka tonges. These were the tongs used for lifting a live coal to

light the pipe, to which I have referred on a previous page. On the

last day of 1640 Hayne paid Mr. Drakes man 1s. 5d. for 6 doz:


From the various entries in the Diary relating to the purchase of

tobacco, it seems clear that there was no shop in Exeter devoted

specially or exclusively to the sale of the weed. Hayne bought his

supplies from four of the leading goldsmiths of the city, who can be

identified by the fact that he had dealings with them in their own

special wares, also from two drapers, one grocer, and four other

tradesmen (on a single occasion each) whose particular occupations are


But to turn from this worthy Exeter citizen to more famous names: I do

not know of any good evidence as to whether or not Cromwell smoked,

although he is said to have taken an occasional pipe while considering

the offer of the crown, but John Milton certainly did. The account of

how the blind poet passed his days, after his retirement from public

office, was first told by his contemporary Richardson, and has since

been repeated by all his biographers. His placid day ended early. The

poet took his frugal supper at eight o'clock, and at nine, having

smoked a pipe and drunk a glass of water, he went to bed. Apparently

this modest allowance of a daily evening pipe was the extent of

Milton's indulgence in tobacco. He knew nothing of what most smokers

regard as the best pipe of the day--the after-breakfast pipe.

It is somewhat singular that the Puritans, who denounced most

amusements and pleasures, and who frowned upon most of the occupations

or diversions that make for gaiety and the enjoyment of life, did not,

as Puritans, denounce the use of tobacco. One or two of their writers

abused it roundly; but these were not representative of Puritan

feeling on the subject. The explanation doubtless is that the practice

of smoking was so very general and so much a matter of course among

men of all ranks and of all opinions, that the mouths of Puritans were

closed, so to speak, by their own pipes. A precisian, however, could

take his tobacco with a difference. The seventeenth-century diarist,

Abraham de la Pryme, says that he had heard of a Presbyterian minister

who was so precise that he would not as much as take a pipe of

tobacco before that he had first sayed grace over it. George Wither,

one of the most noteworthy of the poets who took the side of the

Parliament, was confined in Newgate after the Restoration, and found

comfort in his pipe.

Some of the Puritan colonists in America took a strong line on the

subject. Under the famous Blue Laws of 1650 it was ordered by the

General Court of Connecticut that no one under twenty-one was to

smoke--nor any other that hath not already accustomed himself to the

use thereof. And no smoker could enjoy his pipe unless he obtained a

doctor's certificate that tobacco would be usefull for him, and

allso that he hath received a lycense from the Courte for the same.

But the unhappy smoker having passed the doctor and obtained his

licence was still harassed by restrictions, for it was ordered that no

man within the colony, after the publication of the order, should take

any tobacco publicly in the streett, highwayes, or any barn-yardes,

or uppon training dayes, in any open places, under the penalty of

six-pence for each offence against this order. The ingenuities of

petty tyranny are ineffable. It is said that these Blue Laws are not

authentic; but if they are not literally true, they are certainly well

invented, for most of them can be paralleled and illustrated by laws

and regulations of undoubted authenticity.

Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, in her interesting book, abounding in curious

information, on The Sabbath in Puritan New England, says that the

use of tobacco was absolutely forbidden under any circumstances on

the Sabbath within two miles of the meeting-house, which (since at

that date all the houses were clustered round the church-green) was

equivalent to not smoking it at all on the Lord's Day, if the law were

obeyed. But wicked backsliders existed, poor slaves of habit, who were

in Duxbury fixed 10s. for each offence, and in Portsmouth, not only

were fined, but to their shame be it told, set as jail-birds in the

Portsmouth cage. In Sandwich and in Boston the fine for 'drinking

tobacco in the meeting-house' was 5s. for each drink, which I take to

mean chewing tobacco rather than smoking it; many men were fined for

thus drinking, and solacing the weary hours, though doubtless they

were as sly and kept themselves as unobserved as possible. Four

Yarmouth men--old sea-dogs, perhaps, who loved their pipe--were in

1687 fined 4s. each for smoking tobacco around the end of the

meeting-house. Silly, ostrich-brained Yarmouth men! to fancy to escape

detection by hiding around the corner of the church; and to think that

the tithing-man had no nose when he was so Argus-eyed.

On weekdays many New England Puritans probably smoked as their friends

in old England did. A contemporary painting of a group of Puritan

divines over the mantelpiece of Parson Lowell, of Newbury, shows them

well provided with punch-bowl and drinking-cups, tobacco and pipes.

One parson, the Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, of the First Church of

Charlestown, was very unconventional in his attire. He seldom wore a

coat, but generally appeared in a plaid gown, and was always seen

with a pipe in his mouth. John Eliot, the noble preacher and

missionary to the Indians, warmly denounced both the wearing of wigs

and the smoking of tobacco. But his denunciations were ineffectual in

both matters--heads continued to be adorned with curls of foreign

growth, and pipe-smoke continued to ascend.

In this country tobacco is said to have invaded even the House of

Commons itself. Mr. J.H. Burn, in his Descriptive Catalogue of London

Tokens, writes: About the middle of the seventeenth century it was

ordered: That no member of the House do presume to smoke tobacco in

the gallery or at the table of the House sitting as Committees. I do

not know what the authority for this order may be, but there is no

doubt that smoking was practised in the precincts of the House. In

Mercurius Pragmaticus, December 19-26, 1648, the writer says on

December 20, speaking of the excluded members: Col. Pride standing

sentinell at the door, denyed entrance, and caused them to retreat

into the Lobby where they used to drink ale and tobacco.

There is a curious entry in Thomas Burton's diary of the proceedings

of Cromwell's Parliament, which suggests that there may then have been

the luxury of a members' smoking-room. Burton was a member of the

Parliaments of Oliver and Richard Cromwell from 1656 to 1659, and made

a practice--for which historical students have been and are much his

debtors--of taking notes of the debates as he sat in the House.

Members sometimes objected to and protested against this note-taking,

but Burton quietly went on using his pencil, and though his summaries

of speeches are often difficult to follow, argument and sense

suffering by compression, he has preserved much very valuable matter.

Referring to a debate on January 7, 1656-57, on an attempt to go

behind the previously passed Act of Oblivion, the diarist records that

Sir John Reynolds had numbered the House, and said at rising there

were 220 at the least, besides tobacconists. This can only mean that

there were at least 220 members actually present in the House when it

rose, not counting the tobacconists or smokers, who were enjoying

their pipes, not in the Chamber itself, but in some conveniently

adjoining place, which may have been a room for the purpose, or may

simply have been the lobby referred to above in the extract from

Mercurius Pragmaticus.

It seems likely that Richard Cromwell was a smoker. In 1689, long

after he had retired into private life and had ample leisure for

blowing clouds, he sent to a friend a Boxe of Tobacco, which was

described as A.J. Bod (den's) ... best Virginnea. In a letter to

his daughter Elizabeth, dated 21 January 1705, there is a reference to

this same dealer, whom he describes as Adam Bodden, Bacconist in

George Yard, Lumber [Lombard] Street. The allusion is worth noting as

a very early instance of the colloquial trick of abbreviation familiar

in later days in such forms as baccy and bacca and their