Tobacco is said to have been introduced
into this country in 1586; it was placed
under a duty of 2d. a pound in Elizabeth's
reign. The duty on Virginian tobacco was
raised to 6s. 10d. by James I. Under this
sovereign the industry became a monopoly,
and the Virginia planters were limited to an
export of 100 lb. a year. Tobacco is said to
have been first smoked at the 'Pied Bull' at
Islington, and the number of tobacconists'
shops in London in 1614 is estimated by
Barnaby Rich as over 7,000. (fn. 1) In the MS.
notes left by Sir Henry Oglander of Nunwell
in the Isle of Wight he records among other
expenses in the year 1626, 'for eight ounces
of tobacco five shillings'; this was procured
for him in London. Tobacco was also sold by
apothecaries, (fn. 2) and prescribed as a drug; it
came into very general use for this purpose
during the time of the Great Plague.
What we call smoking was then termed
'drinking' tobacco, the smoke being inhaled
and allowed to escape through the nose. An
anonymous writer in 1636, speaking of dissolute persons who spend most of their time
at taverns, says: (fn. 3) 'Men will not stand upon
it to drink either wine or tobacco with them
who are more fit for Bridewell.'
The signs of tobacconists' shops in the 18th
century generally consisted of a large wooden
figure of a black Indian, wearing a crown of
tobacco leaves and a kilt of the same material.
He was usually placed at the side of the door,
above which hung three rolls, also cut in
wood. The decorated cards or shop-bills of
tradesmen at this period were often designed
by artists of repute. Hogarth in his early
days designed one for 'Richard Lee at ye
Golden Tobacco-Roll in Panton Street near
Leicester Fields,' which much resembles his
Modern Midnight Conversation. Another
curious tobacconist's sign consists of three
hands issuing from an arm; the first holding
snuff, the second a pipe, and the third a quid
of tobacco; attached to this are the lines:-
We three are engaged in one cause;
I snuffs, I smokes, and I chaws.
This distich is sometimes found on painted
signs, beneath figures of a Scotchman, a
Dutchman, and a sailor.
The manufacture of tobacco is carried on
very largely in East London and Hackney,
which contain seventy-six factories for the
production of tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and
snuff. In all London there are about one
hundred and eighty factories in this trade, and
in the whole of England, the metropolis included, there are about four hundred and thirty,
so that in the number of its tobacco factories
East London occupies a conspicuous position.
The cigars produced in English factories are
known as British cigars, and vary considerably
in price and quality. Those made by the
best firms are infinitely superior to some of
the lower grades of imported Havanas. The
importation of sham Havanas from Belgium
and other countries has been checked by the
'Merchandise Marks Act,' but the British
manufacturer suffers severely from the competition of cheap Mexican cigars.
The process of manufacture begins with
'liquoring,' in which the leaf is treated with
pure water to render it soft and pliant for the
hands of the 'stripper.' The process of 'stripping' consists in stripping the leaf by taking
out its midrib. The leaf when stripped is
handed to the 'cigar-maker,' and in this branch
of the trade many female hands are employed. (fn. 4)
Tobacco as distinct from cigars is also
largely manufactured in East London, but
fewer hands are employed in its preparation
by reason of the extensive use of machinery.
After undergoing the process of 'liquoring'
and 'stripping,' the leaf is, in the case of cut
tobacco, handed over to the machine-men.
It is next passed on to the 'stovers,' who first
place it on a steam-pan to separate the
fibres, and then on a fire-pan to make it fit for
keeping and to improve its smoking quality.
The final process is that of 'cooling,' where a
current of cold air is passed through it to drive
off the moisture. By other processes are
produced the varieties known as 'roll' or
'spun' tobacco, and 'cake' or 'plug.'
The manufacture of snuff involves various
complicated processes, which space will not permit us to describe. The ingredients consist
largely of the shreds, stalks, and other leavings
resulting from the processes above mentioned.
Some thirty years ago the London tobacco
manufacturers comprised, it is estimated, about
one-fourth of the whole of the manufacturers
in England. Some old firms still exist, as that
of Richard Lloyd & Sons, of Clerkenwell
Road, which has been in existence for over