What, in late 18th century England, did it mean to "play at 'chuck'"?
February 17, 2014 1:23 PM Subscribe
I have read a reference from Glouchester, England in 1783 of poor children in the streets "playing at 'chuck'." I have no idea what that means.
posted by Pater Aletheias to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's the full context. It is from a letter written by Robert Raikes, the originator of Sunday School, about why he began the program.
The beginning of the scheme was entirely owing to accident. Some business leading me one morning into the suburbs of the city, where the lowest of the people (who are principally employed in the pin manufactory) chiefly reside, I was struck with concern at seeing a group of children, wretchedly ragged, at play in the streets. I asked an inhabitant whether those children belonged to that part of the town, and lamented their misery and idleness. "Ah! sir," said the woman to whom I was speaking, "could you take a view of this part of the town on Sunday, you would be shocked indeed; for then the street is filled with multitudes of these wretches, who, released on that day from employment, spend their time in noise and riot, playing at 'chuck,' and cursing and swearing in a manner so horrid as to convey to any serious mind an idea of hell rather than any other place.
I haven't yet stumbled upon the right search terms to help me figure out what "chuck" would involve, and I am at the added disadvantage of living in 21st century America. Any clue what it meant in late 18th century England to play at chuck?