Gin Alley

...From Pirates Revenge...

Maggie decided to take this opportunity to visit her parents.  Her Mum and Dad lived in the heart of the slum district known as "Gin Alley".  Filth, open sewage running in the gutters, beggars, drunken alcoholics, pickpockets, and scoundrels proliferated these streets.  With cautious determination, she made her way home.

James and Rebecca Alexander lived in a squalorous tenement in the very heart of Gin Alley.  She took in sewing and laundry, while he did the best he could, with whatever odd jobs his handicapping deformities would allow.  They barely got by, and Maggie's contribution from her pay by Lord Victor kept them from starvation.


Living in Gin Alley was to live in a morass of poverty, want, despair, and disease.  The stench of the sewers and unwashed vagrants permeated the air.  Drunken men and women often simply passed out on the curbs.  Street vendors plied their variety of wares while constantly running off beggars and thieves.
Gin Lane
And the real life inspiration...
Gin Lane

Gin Lane is arguably William Hogarth's most famous work of engraved art. Along with its companion, Beer Street, Gin Lane addressed a very real problem in mid eighteenth century England -- the abuse of spirits by the working classes and the poor. In the right foreground an emaciated ballad singer has just passed away. His left hand still clutches his bottle. Even worse, a drunken woman is taking her snuff while her unattended baby falls to his death in front of the Gin Royal Tavern. Behind the wall a man and his dog fight for a bone. Further back, a man pawns his coat and saw and his wife her kitchen utensils for a few more drinks. The sour faced pawn broker is appropriately named, "S. Gripe". Both his wealthy home and clothes stand in direct contrast to the ruination around. Only pawn brokers, coffin makers and distillers profit in such a society.

Various scenes of mayhem fill the street in the background. Murder and other forms of violence are anything but uncommon. Above a disrepaired building is about to crash to the ground and in the ruins of another house a man has committed suicide. Below him, the 'Kilman Distiller' has made a thriving trade by selling its gin to school children.

Hogarth's Gin Lane had an immediate impact. During the same year it was published, parliament passed the Gin act which regulated the sale of alcohol.

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This picture depicts the extreme squalor found in the lower levels of 17th and 18th century English society.  It also shows the hopeless plight of the poor, which forced many to become sailors, and to consider piracy as a means of improving their lot in life.

Just as Rafe did....