Family Lessons 98: Wormwood Ale

My 9x great-uncle, John Kelsall (from whom I suspect all the ubiquitous Lancashire Kelsalls descend) and his wife, Elizabeth, my great aunt, moved to London and lived at Hart Street, near the Tower. He was a tailor by trade but became a successful seller of Purl. This is a liquor made by infusing wormwood and other bitter herbs in ale or beer, hence its alternative name of wormwood ale. Later it became a mixture of hot beer and gin (also called Dog's Nose), sometimes also with ginger and sugar. It was considered a morning draught; John could evidently make more money selling booze than making clothes. This strikes me as odd, however, seeing as he published a tract in 1682 entitled:

A Testimony against Gaming, Musick, Dancing, Singing, Swearing, and Peoples calling upon GOD to DAMN them. As also against Drinking to Excess, Whoring, Lying and Cheating. Commended to the Consciences of all People in the Sight of God, but more especially to those, who keep Publick Houses.

I have already written about his clumsily but charmingly titled publication. Although teetotalism was another 150 years away, it still seems a little odd that a purveyor of liquor should complain about the many behaviours with which it is associated. Whether he sold directly to pubs and found from experience that publicans were in particular need of his admonition, I do not know. Yet we might consider our own positions here. Do we ever contribute to others’ behaviours which we later condemn? Causing another, especially a little one, to sin is a grievous endeavour in God’s sight. May we not just keep ourselves aright, but others with whom we come into contact. 

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.

-Perronet & Ripon

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay