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Banks, John (1934–2003), bookmaker, was born John Boyle on 19 August 1934 at 62 Dover Street, Anderston, Glasgow, the son of Hugh Boyle, window cleaner, and his wife, Rachel Williamson, née Brown. As a child he took his father's bets to the local (illegal) bookmaker and on leaving ...

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Brady, William (1881–1960), bookmaker, was born in Yorkshire Street, Salford, son of John Brady, commission agent, and his wife, Mary, née Hanoran. Known as Billy, he attended St John's Cathedral Boys' School in Salford and went to work with his two brothers at a local cable manufacturing business. He played rugby league for the factory team and later for ...

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Coral [formerly Kagarlitsky], Joseph [Joe] (1904–1996), bookmaker, was born on 11 December 1904 into a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Abraham Kagarlitsky, died when he was very young; his mother, Jessica, took Joe and his two brothers to London, before the First World War, and they settled in the ...

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Joseph Coral (1904–1996) by unknown photographer, 1969 © News International Newspapers Ltd

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G. C. Boase

revised by Wray Vamplew

Davies, William Edmund (1819–1879), bookmaker, was born in London. His father was a carpenter and Davies too entered the building trade, working for Cubitt & Co., contractors and builders, Gray's Inn Road, London. On one occasion he was sent to Newmarket to help repair the inside of the subscription rooms. Whether this influenced him to begin taking bets from his fellow workers is a matter for conjecture, but his success as a petty bookmaker enabled him to give up working as a carpenter. He was a major pioneer of the betting list, in which the names of horses and the odds against them would be displayed openly, often in public-house windows. His first list was at the ...

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Hill, William (1903–1971), bookmaker, was born in Birmingham on 16 July 1903, the second son and fourth of the eleven children (there were also a twin son and daughter who died at birth) of William Hill, journeyman coach-painter, and his wife, Lavinia Knight...

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William Hill (1903–1971) by unknown photographer, 1951 © Popperfoto

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Ogden, William (fl. c. 1790), bookmaker, is a figure whose life is obscure, but is nevertheless credited as the 'father of bookmaking' (Bookmaking then and now, 78).

For centuries horse-racing involved the matching of two horses by owners who wished to bet against each other. These contests were often foregone conclusions and were sterile for betting purposes. Consequently by the late 1750s sweepstakes had come into vogue. Such races included more horses and so had a variety of outcomes. The increased number of owners involved in a contest meant that there was a selection of odds against their horses winning. This meant that a clever owner could bet in a more sophisticated fashion. He could cover himself against the loss of his horse and the prize money by backing other runners to win....

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Pickersgill, Joseph (1849/50–1920), racecourse bookmaker, grew up in Leeds, but little else is known about his origins. He began work as butcher's boy, after which he may have become an off-course bookmaker at ‘The Midden’. This was an open space where bookies gathered because street betting was not banned in ...

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Robinson, Crutch (fl. 1804–1830), bookmaker, played an important role in the development of betting at horse races, but nothing is known about his life off the course. He was disabled, and dependent on a crutch (hence his nickname).

In the early nineteenth century ...