Beilby’s Ball

For anyone writing about or interested in Britain in the 18th and early 19th century, the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: a dictionary of buckish slang, university wit and pickpocket eloquence, brought to you by Project Gutenberg, is an indispensable resource.

Here’s a little gem I came across today:

BEILBY’S BALL. He will dance at Beilby’s ball, where the sheriff pays the music; he will be hanged. Who Mr. Beilby was, or why that ceremony was so called, remains with the quadrature of the circle, the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, and divers other desiderata yet undiscovered.

Tyburn_gallows_1746

Map of Tyburn gallows and immediate surroundings, from John Rocque’s map of London, Westminster and Southwark (1746), courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

 

 

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