Tobacco Timeline

Chapter 3

The Seventeenth Century--"The Great Age of the Pipe"

When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are the founders of human civilization. -- Daniel Webster (1782-1852).

Tobacco comes into use as "Country Money" or "Country Pay" in the colonies. Tobacco continues to be used as a monetary standard--literally a "cash crop"-- throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, lasting twice as long as the gold standard.

Chines Philosopher Fang Yizhi states that years of smoking “scorches one’s lung”

"So prominent is the place that tobacco occupies in the early records of the middle Southern States, that its cultivation and commercial associations may be said to form the basis of their history. It was the direct source of their wealth, and became for a while the representative of gold and silver; the standard value of other merchantable products; and this tradition was further preserved by the stamping of a tobacco-leaf upon the old continental money used in the Revolution." --19th century historian (DB)

  • 1600: BRAZIL: AGRICULTURE: European cultivation of tobacco begins
  • 1600: ENGLAND: Sir Walter Raleigh persuades Queen Elizabeth to try smoking
  • 1601: TURKEY: Smoking is introduced, and rapidly takes hold while clerics denounce it. "Puffing in each other's faces, they made the streets and markets stink," writes historian Ibrahim Pecevi.
  • 1601 (approx): Samuel Rowlands writes,
    But this same poyson, steeped India weede
    In head, hart, lunges, do the soote and cobwebs breede
    With that he gasp'd, and breath'd out such a smoke
    That all the standers by were like to choke.
  • 1602: ENGLAND: Publication of Worke of Chimney Sweepers by anonymous author identified as 'Philaretes' states that illness of chimney sweepers is caused by soot and that tobacco may have similar effects. "Tobacco works by evaporating man's 'unctuous and radical moistures'- as was demonstrated in the fact that it was employed to cure gonorrhea by drying up the discharge. But this process, if too long continued, could only end by drying up 'spermatical humidity,' too, rendering him incapable of propagation. Experience also showed that tobacco left men in a state of depression, 'mopishness and sottishness,' which in the long run must damage memory, imagination and understanding." (Brian Inglis, The Forbidden Game: A Social History of Drugs, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975.)
  • 1602: ENGLAND: Roger Markecke writes A Defense of Tobacco, in response to Chimneysweeps (LB)
  • 1603: ENGLAND: Physicians, upset that tobacco is being used by people without a physician's prescription; complain to King James I.(TSW)

    A Counterblaste to Tobacco

  • 1604: ENGLAND: King James I writes "A Counterblaste to Tobacco"
  • 1604: ENGLAND: TAXES: King James I increases import tax on tobacco 4,000% [from 2 pence/lb to 6 shillings 10 pence/lb.

  • 1605: ENGLAND: Debate between King James I and Dr. Cheynell.(TSW)
  • 1606: SPAIN: King Philip Ill decrees that tobacco may only be grown in specific locations--including Cuba, Santo Domingo, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Sale of tobacco to foreigners is punishable by death.
  • 1606+: ADVERTISING: ENGLAND: America and advertising begin to grow together. One of the first products heavily marketed is America itself. Richard Hofstadter called the Virginia Company's recruitment effort for its new colony, "one of the first concerted and sustained advertising campaigns in the history of the modern world." The out-of-place, out-of-work "gentlemen" in an overpopulated England were sold quite a bill of goods about the bountiful land and riches to be had in the New World. Daniel J. Boorstin has mused whether "there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe in advertising."
  • 1607: JAMESTOWN saga begins

  • 1610: ENGLAND: Sir Francis Bacon writes that tobacco use is increasing and that it is a custom hard to quit. (LB)
  • 1610: ENGLAND: Edmond Gardiner publishes William Barclay's The Trial of Tobacco and provides a text of recipies and medicinal preparations. BArclay defends tobacco as a medicine but condemns casual use(LB)
  • 1612: CHINA: Imperial edict forbidding the planting and use tobacco.(TSW)
  • 1612: JAMESTOWN: John Rolfe raises Virginia's first commercial crop of "tall tobacco."
  • 1613-89: RUSSIA: Tobacco prohibition under the early Romanoffs (AHS)
  • 1614-04: JAMESTOWN: John Rolfe and Rebecca (nee Pocahontas) are married
  • 1613-06: ENGLAND: First shipment of Rolfe's tobacco arrives. (ASHES TO ASHES: THE HISTORY OF SMOKING AND HEALTH)
  • 1614: ENGLAND: First sale of native Virginia tobacco in England; Virginia colony enters world tobacco market, under English protection
  • 1614: ENGLAND: "[T]here be 7000 shops, in and about London, that doth vent Tobacco" -- The Honestie of this Age, Prooving by good circumstance that the world was never honest till now, by Barnabee Rych Gentleman (BD)
  • 1614: ENGLAND: King James I makes the import of tobacco a Royal monopoly, available for a yearly fee of 14,000.
  • 1614: LITERATURE: Nepenthes, or the Vertues of Tabacco, by William Barclay; Edinburgh, 1614. Touts tobacco's medicinal qualities, and recommends exclusively tobacco of American origin (BD)
  • 1614: SPAIN: King Philip III establishes Seville as tobacco center of the world.
  • Attempting to prevent a tobacco glut, Philip requires all tobacco grown in the Spanish New World to be shipped to a central location, Seville, Spain. Seville becomes the world center for the production of cigars. European cigarette use begins here, as beggars patch together tobacco from used cigars, and roll them in paper(papeletes). Spanish and Portuguese sailors spread the practice to Russia and the Levant.
  • 1616: Tobacco Nation Discovered. The French discover an Iroquoian branch of American Indians in present-day Ontario, Canada, and term them the Tobacco Nation, or Tionontati, because of their large tobacco fields. After attack by the Iroquois, the remnants of the Tobacco Nation, along with many Huron refugees, settled SW of Lake Superior. They were soon assimilated into one tribe, known as the Wyandot. In 1990 there were about 2,500 Wyandot left in the US.
  • 1616-06-03: JAMESTOWN: John Rolfe and Pocahontas arrive in London
  • 1617: Dr. William Vaughn writes:
    Tobacco that outlandish weede
    It spends the braine and spoiles the seede
    It dulls the spirite, it dims the sight
    It robs a woman of her right
  • 1617: MONGOLIA: Emperor places dealth penalty on using tobacco.(TSW)
  • 1618-48: THE THIRTY YEARS WAR spurs an expansion of smoking. (AHS)
  • 1618-48: ENGLAND: SIR WALTER RALEIGH, popularizer of tobacco in England, is beheaded for treason. Upon Ralegh's tobacco box, found in his cell afterwards, is the inscription, "Comes meus fuit illo miserrimo tempo." ("It was my comfort in those miserable times.")
  • 1619: ENGLAND: An unhappy King James I incorporates British pipe makers; London clay pipe makers were formed into a charter body with a coat of arm of a Moor holding a pipe and roll of tobacco. (TSW)
  • 1619: JAMESTOWN: First Africans brought into Virginia. John Rolfe writes in his diary, "About the last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty negars." They were needed for the booming tobacco crop, but had been baptized, so--as Christians--they could not be enslaved for life, but only indentured, just like many of the English colonists, for 5-7 years
  • 1619: ECONOMY: Tobacco is being used as currency. It will continue to be so used for 200 years in Virginia, for 150 years in Maryland, adjusting to the vagaries of shifting values and varying qualities. (see 1727, "Tobacco Notes")
  • 1619: JAMESTOWN: First shipment of women--meant to become wives for the settlers--arrives. A prospective husband must pay for his chosen mate's passage with 120 lbs. of tobacco.
  • 1619-07-30: JAMESTOWN: The first representative legislative assembly in America is held. The Virginia Colony's General Assembly meets in the choir of the Jamestown church from July 30-August 4. This assembly contained the embryo of representative self-government. The first law passed is a law concerning the economics of the tobacco trade: tobacco shall not be sold for under 3 shillings per pound.
  • 1619-12-04: BERKELEY, VA: The very first American Thanksgiving celebrates a good tobacco crop. The holiday was abandoned after the Indian Massacre of 1622.

  • 1620s: KOREA: Within only a few decades, tobacco has become a national pastime.
  • 1620: ENGLAND: 40,000 lbs of tobacco are imported from Virginia. (LB)
  • 1620: ENGLAND: King James proclaims rules of tobacco growing and import: limits tobacco sales to 100 weight of tobacco per man; restricts imports to Virginia colony, and establishes stamps or seals. Quanity has risen and quality has declined so drastically that growers could get no more than 3 shillings/lb. James suggested colonists concentrate more on corn, livestock and potash.
  • 1620: BUSINESS: Trade agreement between the Crown & Virginia Company bans commercial tobacco growing in England, in return for a 1 shilling/lb. duty on Virginia tobacco.
  • 1620 (about): JAPAN: Prohibition in Japan (AHS)
  • 1621: Sixty future wives arrive in Virginia and sell for 150 pounds of tobacco each. Price up since 1619.(TSW)
  • 1621: ENGLAND: Tobias Venner publishes "A briefe and accurate treatise, comcerning....tobacco" claiming medicinal properties, but condeming use for pleasure. (LB)
  • 1624: REGULATION: POPE URBAN VIII threatens excommunication for snuff users; sneezing is thought too close to sexual ecstasy
  • 1624: ENGLAND establishes a royal tobacco monopoly.
  • 1624: NEW YORK CITY is born. The town of New Amsterdam was established on lower Manhattan At this time, the western area of what is now Greenwich Village, NY, is known to Native Americans as (var.) Sapponckanican-- "tobacco fields," or "land where the tobacco grows."
  • 1628: REGULATION: SHAH SEFI punishes two merchants for selling tobacco by pouring hot lead down their throats. (TSW)
  • 1629: FRANCE: RICHELIEU puts a Customs duty on the import of tobacco.
  • 1629: Niewu Amsterdam's Gov. Wouter Van Twiller appropriates a farm belonging to the Dutch West India Company in the Bossen Bouwery ("Farm in the woods") area of Manhattan, in what is now Greenwich Village, and begins growing tobacco. The Minetta Spring provides water.

  • 1630: SWEDEN learns to smoke.(AHS)
  • 1631: AGRICULTURE: European-style cultivation of tobacco begins in Maryland
  • 1632: REGULATION: MASSACHUSETTS forbids public smoking
  • 1633: AGRICULTURE: CONNECTICUT is settled; first tobacco crop raised in Windsor.
  • 1633: REGULATION: TURKEY: Sultan Murad IV orders tobacco users executed as infidels. As many as 18 a day were executed. Some historians consider the ban an anti-plague measure, some a fire-prevention measure.
  • 1634: REGULATION: RUSSIA: Czar Alexis creates penalties for smoking: 1st offense is whipping, a slit nose, and trasportation to Siberia. 2nd offense is execution.(TSW) (BD)
  • 1634: REGULATION: EUROPE: Greek Church claims that it was tobacco smoke that intoxicated Noah and so bans tobacco use.(TSW)
  • 1635: AGRICULTURE: FRANCE: The first tobacco farms are begun in Clairac.
  • 1635: REGULATION: FRANCE: King allows sale of tobaccco only following prescription by physician.(TSW)
  • 1636: BUSINESS: SPAIN: Tabacalera, the oldest tobacco company in the world, is created.
  • 1637: REGULATION: FRANCE: King Louis XIII enjoys snuff and repeals restricions on its use.(TSW)
  • 1638: REGULATION: CHINA: Use or distribution of tobacco is made a crime punishable by decapitation. Snuff, introduced by the Jesuits in the mid-17th century, soon became quite popular, from the court on down, and remained so during much of the Qing dynasty (mid-17th century - 1912.)
  • 1639: REGULATION: NEW YORK CITY: Governor Kieft bans smoking in New Amsterdam

  • 1640s: BHUTAN: Bhutan's first ban on smoking in public enacted by the warrior monk Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of modern Bhutan. He outlaws the use of tobacco in government buildings.
  • 1640: The western area of what is now Greenwich Village, NY, is known to Native Americans as (var.) Sapponckanican-- "tobacco fields," or "land where the tobacco grows."
  • 1642: POPE URBAN VIII'S Bull against smoking in the churches in Seville. (AHS)
  • 1647: REGULATION: TURKEY: Tobacco ban is lifted. Pecevi writes that tobaco has now joined coffee, wine and opium as one of the four "cushions on the sofa of pleasure."
  • 1647: REGULATION: Colony of Connecticut bans public smoking: citizens may smoke only once a day, "and then not in company with any other."
  • 1648: Smoking generally prohibited. Writers now hostile to it. (AHS)

  • 1650: REGULATION: Colony of Connecticut General Court orders -- no smoking by person under age of 21, no smoking except with physicians order.(TSW)
  • 1650: Spread of smoking in Austria. (AHS)
  • 1650: REGULATION: Pope Innocent X's Bull against smoking in St Peter's, Rome.(AHS)
  • 1657: REGULATION: Prohibition in Switzerland.(AHS)
  • 1659: ITALY: VENICE establishes the first tobacco appalto.

  • 1660: ITALY: Pope ALEXANDER VII farms out tobacco monopolies
  • 1660: ENGLAND: THE RESTORATION OF THE MONARCHY The court of Charles II returns to London from exile in Paris, bringing the French court's snuffing practice with them; snuff becomes an aristocratic form of tobacco use. During Charles' reign (1660-1685), the growing of tobacco in England, except for small lots in physic gardens, is forbidden so as to preserve the taxes coming in from Virginian imports..
  • 1660: The Navigation Act mandates that 7 enumerated items--one of which was tobacco--may only be shipped to England or its colonies.
  • 1661: VIRGINIA Assembly begins institutionalizing slavery, making it de jure.
  • 1665-66: HEALTH: EUROPE: THE GREAT PLAGUE Smoking tobacco is thought to have a protective effect. Smoking is made compulsory at Eton to ward off infection.
  • 1665: HEALTH: ENGLAND: Samuel Pepys describes a Royal Society experiment in which a cat quickly dies when fed "a drop of distilled oil of tobacco."
  • 1666: AGRICULTURE: Maryland faces oversupply; bans production of tobacco for one year.

  • 1670: AUSTRIA: COUNT KHEVENHILLER's appalto is established.
  • 1674: RUSSIA: Smoking Can Carry the Death Penalty.
  • 1674: FRANCE: LOUIS XIV establishes a tobacco monopoly.
  • 1675: REGULATION: SWITZERLAND: The Berne town council establishes a special Chambres de Tabac to deal with smokers, who face the same dire penalties as adulterers.
  • 1676: RUSSIA: the smoking ban is lifted.
  • 1676: TAXES: Heavy taxes levied in tobacco by Virginia Governor BERKELEY lead to BACON'S REBELLION, a foretaste of American Revolution. (ATS)
  • 1679: Abraham a Santa Clara and the plague in Vienna.

  • 1682: VIRGINIA: The Tobacco Riots
  • 1683: Massachusetts passes the nation's first no-smoking law. It forbids the smoking of tobacco outdoors, because of the fire danger. Soon after, Philadelphia lawmakers approve a ban on "smoking seegars on the street." Fines are used to buy fire-fighting equipment.
  • 1689-1725: RUSSIA: PETER THE GREAT advocates smoking, repeals Romanov bans, which had punished smoking by flogging, lip-slitting, Siberian exile and death.

  • 1693: ENGLAND: Smoking banned in Commons chamber: "no member do presume to take tobacco in the gallery of the House or at a committee table"
  • 1698: RUSSIA: PETER THE GREAT establishes a trade monopoly with the English, against Church wishes.
  • 1699: LOUIS XIV and his physician, FAGON, oppose smoking.

    Next Chapter: The Eighteenth Century--Snuff Holds Sway


    Chapter 1: Discovery
    Chapter 2: The Sixteenth Century--Sailors Spread the Seeds
    Chapter 3: The Seventeenth Century--"The Great Age of the Pipe"
    Chapter 4: The Eighteenth Century--Snuff Holds Sway
    Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century--The Age of the Cigar
    Chapter 6: The Twentieth Century, 1900-1950--The Rise of the Cigarette
    Chapter 7: The Twentieth Century, 1950-1999--The Battle is Joined
    Chapter 8: The New Millennium
    This document's original URL is:

  • ©2001 Gene Borio, Tobacco BBS (212-982-4645). WebPage: Tobacco BBS material may be reprinted in any non-commercial venue if accompanied by this credit

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