Hoyle, Edmond (DNB00)

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HOYLE, EDMOND (1672–1769), writer on whist, was born in 1672. The statements that Yorkshire was the county of his birth (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vii. 270), that he was registrar of the prerogative court of Dublin in 1742, and that he held property in Dublin (Gent. Mag. December 1742, p. 659; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 259), apply to another person. Hoyle is said to have been called to the bar. In 1741 he was living in Queen Square, London, and gave lessons on whist-playing. He also circulated a manuscript handbook, which developed into his famous 'Short Treatise on the Game of Whist,' first printed in 1742. In the early editions the author offers for a guinea to disclose the secret of his ' artificial memory which does not take off your Attention from your Game.' The success of his first book encouraged Hoyle to bring out similar manuals on 'Backgammon,' 'Piquet,' 'Quadrille,' and 'Brag.' An amusing skit, 'The Humours of Whist ' (1743), satirised the teacher and his pupils, and alluded to the dismay of sharpers who found their secrets made known (Cavendish [i.e. H. Jones], Laws and Principles of Whist, 18th edit. 1889, p.45-8). A lady, unfortunate at brag, wrote to the 'Rambler' on 8 May 1750, that 'Mr. Hoyle, when he had not given me above forty lessons, said I was one of his best scholars.' Hoyle and his teaching are spoken of in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' February 1755, p. 75, in Fielding's 'Tom Jones' (bk. xiii. c. 5), in Alexander Thomson's poem on 'Whist' (1792), and in Byron's 'Don Juan' (canto iii. v. xc.), which first appeared in 1821.

Hoyle died 29 Aug. 1769 at Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square, aged 97 (Gent. Mag.1769,p.463; Chambers,Book of Days, ii.282), and was buried in Marylebone churchyard. His will, dated 26 Sept. 1761, was proved in London on 6 Sept. 1769; the executors were his sister Eleanor, a spinster, and Robert Crispin (Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vii. 481-2). No authentic portrait is known; the picture by Hogarth, exhibited at the Crystal Palace in 1870, represents a Yorkshire Hoyle.

Hoyle was the first to write scientifically on whist, or indeed any card game. His 'Short Treatise' soon became popular. He was a careless editor, but possessed a vigorous style of writing and much originality. He seems to have profited by the experience of the best players of the day, and introduced many improvements in his successive editions. The 'Short Treatise' was entered at Stationers' Hall on 17 Nov. 1742 by the author, as sole proprietor of the copyright. Its full title is 'A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, containing the Laws of the Game: And also some Rules whereby a Beginner may, with due attention to them, attain to the Playing it well. Calculations for those who will Bet the Odds on any Point of the Score of the Game then playing and depending. Cases stated, to shew what may be effected by a very good Player in Critical Parts of the Game. References to Cases, viz. at the End of the Rule you are directed how to find them. Calculations, directing with moral Certainty, how to play well any Hand or Game, by shewing the Chances of your Partner's having 1, 2, or 3 certain Cards. With Variety of Cases added in the Appendix,' London, printed by John Watts for the Author, 1742, 12mo. The copy in the Bodleian Library is the only one known of this first edition; several of the other early editions are only preserved in single copies. The price, one guinea, gave rise to piracies, of which the first appeared in 1743. Hoyle's own second edition (1743), with additions, was sold at 2s. 'in a neat pocket size.' The third and fourth editions were published in 1743; in the fourth edition the laws were reduced to twenty-four, and so remained until the twelfth edition, when the laws of 1760 were given. Fifth edition (1744), sixth (1746), seventh (no copy known). In the eighth edition (1748) thirteen new cases are added, together with the treatises on quadrille, piquet, and backgammon. The ninth edition (1748) appeared as 'The Accurate Gamester's Companion.' The tenth edition (1750 and 1755) bears the same title as the eighth, with which it is identical. The eleventh edition is undated: 'Mr. Hoyle's Games of Whist, Quadrille, Piquet, Chess, and Backgammon, Complete.' The twelfth edition is also undated (1761), with the same title; also reissued 'with two new cases' at Edinburgh, 1761. The thirteenth edition is undated (1763), as well as the fourteenth and the fifteenth (1770). For many years every genuine copy bore the signature of Hoyle. In the fifteenth edition it is reproduced from a wood block. Hoyle's laws of 1760, revised by members of White's and Saunders's, ruled whist until 1864, when they were superseded by the code drawn up by the Arlington (now Turf) and Portland clubs (Cavendish, p. 51). After Hoyle's death C. Jones revised many editions. The book has been frequently reprinted down to recent times. The word 'Hoyle' came to be used as representative of any book on games. An 'American Hoyle' was published about 1860. 'A Handbook of Whist on the Text of Hoyle' was published by G. F. Pardon in 1861, and 'Hoyle's Games Modernized' by the same editor, in 1863, 1870, and 1872. 'The Standard Hoyle, a complete Guide upon all Games of Chance,' appeared at New York, 1887. A French translation, 'Traité abrégé de Jeu de Whist,' was issued in 1764, 1765, and 1776, 12mo, as well as in the 'Académie Universelle des Jeux,' 1786, 12mo. A German translation, 'Anweisung zum Whistspiel,' was printed at Gotha, 1768, 12mo. 'Calculations, Cautions, and Observations relating to the various Games played with Cards' (1761), by Edmond Hoyle, jun., is a pamphlet against card-playing; the name was apparently adopted as a pseudonym.

Hoyle's other works are: 1. 'Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon,' London, 1743, 12mo (1st edit. no title; 2nd edit. 1745; 3rd edit. 1748, in 8th edit. of 'Whist'). 2. 'Short Treatise on the Game of Piquet, to which are added some Rules and Observations for playing well at Chess,' London, 1744, 12mo (2nd edit. 1746; 3rd edit. 1748, in 8th edit. of 'Whist'). 3. 'Short Treatise on the Game of Quadrille, to which is added the Laws of the Game,' London, 1745, 12mo (2nd edit. 1748, in 8th edit. of 'Whist;' 'A brief and necessary Supplement to all former Treatises on Quadrille,' 1764, is from another hand). 4. 'Short Treatise of the Game of Brag, containing the Laws of the Game; also Calculations, shewing the Odds of winning or losing certain Hands dealt,' London, 1751, 12mo. 5. 'An Essay Towards making the Doctrine of Chances Easy to those who understand Vulgar Arithmetick only, To which is added, Some Useful Tables on Annuities for Lives,' London, 1754, 12mo, new edit. 1764. The book was announced in the 'Public Advertiser,' 23 and 31 Jan. 1754, to be published at half a guinea. It appeared about the middle of the year. 'When the immortal Edmond Hoyle consolidated the game,' says Dr. Pole (Philosophy of Whist, 1886, p. 95), 'he paid particular attention' to the calculus of probabilities. The book explains the modes of calculation of various problems referring to piquet, allfours, whist, dice, lotteries, and annuities. 6. 'An Essay Towards making the Game of Chess Easily learned By those who know the Moves only, without the Assistance of a Master,' London, 1761, 12mo (see also No. 2. Italian translations appeared in 1760 and 1803; in 1808 was published 'Mr. Hoyle's Game of Chess, including his Chess Lectures').

[All the known facts relating to Hoyle have been collected by Mr. Henry Jones, 'Cavendish,' see Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th edit. xxiv. art. Whist, and Cavendish's Laws and Principles of Whist, 18th edit. 1889, and in greater detail by Mr. Julian Marshall, with an interesting bibliographical account of the early editions, in Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vii. 481-2, viii. 3, 42, 83, 144, 201, 262, 343, 404, 482, ix. 24, 142, A. van der Linde's Geschichte des Schachspiels, ii. 61-5.]

H. R. T.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.162
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
133 ii 57-57 Hoyle, Edmond: for (no copy known) read (1747)
134 i 19f.e. omit 1st edit. no title ;