In Georgian London, gin had become such a menace to society it had been outlawed. Captain Dudley Bradstreet - an Irish rogue and adventurer, recently arrived in London - conceived a cunning ruse to evade the authorities and make his fortune. He discerned the recently passed Gin Act did not empower the excise men to break down doors, nor to prosecute gin sellers if their identity remained unknown. He set upon a scheme to sell gin in secret.....
Bradstreet secured rooms under a pseudonym and hung the sign of a black cat over his window. He let it be known that a knock, a whispered word and placement of money in the cat's mouth would see a generous measure of gin dispensed. In his words "This scheme of puss was a great success, netting me a considerable fortune"
Unfortunately for Bradstreet, his scheme proved all too easy to copy. Cat signs appeared across London and a new gin craze was born. Bradstreet retired from the illicit gin business, frittering away his gains on drink, gambling and women. He dabbled in theatre, tried his hand as a magician and became embroiled with the law in an ill fated attempt to set up a brewery. In 1755 he was to make another fortune with the publication of his scandalous memoir - The Life and Uncommon Adventures of Captain Dudley Bradstreet.
Bradstreet died in 1763 - an infamous rogue who lived life to the full: the inspiration for Wildcat Gin