Following on from the card tables from Clytha Castle, I wondered what card-games were in vogue in the eighteenth century. I found mention of Whist, Loo – which could cause spectacular ruin, Brag – a forerunner of Poker, Pope Joan - a mild and homely gambling game for all the family, especially that of clergymen, Reversis – an ancestor of Hearts and Speculation – a mild domestic gambling game mentioned by Jane Austen. Edmond Hoyle wrote A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in 1742; the twelfth edition contained the new laws of ... whist, as played at White's and Saunders's chocolate houses[i]. In 1770 Mr. Hoyle’s Games was published containing Easy Rules for Playing the Games of Whist, Quadrille, Cribbage, Piquet, Chess, Backgammon.
The German cabinet-maker David Roentgen produced an ingenious games table (c.1780-83) which has different leaves for playing different games. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has produced an animation to show how it unfolded.
Ince & Mayhew produced three round Loo tables for the Prince of Wales at Carlton House in 1788-89[ii]. They were billed at £5, £9 and £9 9s and the most expensive had a central mahogany pool, five counterwells and a three branch adjustable light. The third Lord Monson hired card tables and chairs from Ince & Mayhew presumably for a party at his home, Burton Hall in Lincolnshire. Sir John Griffin Griffin Bt. paid for a neat Morroco Backgammon Table and Leather Boxes in 1774 at a cost of £2 for Audley End or his London residence 10 New Burlington Street. At Goodnestone Park, Kent there were a pair of Ince & Mayhew yew-wood card tables with ebonized borders inlaid with engraved flowersprays bought by Sir Brook Bridges. Sir Brook’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Austen, the brother of Jane Austen. Jane would visit them at Goodnestone and started writing Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying there in 1796[iii]. Did she perhaps play Speculation on an Ince & Mayhew card table?!
[i] British Library catalogue
[ii] Roberts, H and Cator, C. 1986. Mayhew, John and Ince, William. In Beard, G and Gilbert, C eds. Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840 Leeds,London : Furniture History Society: W.S. Maney & Son Ltd, pp. 589-598.
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.