What Sports Were Played in the 1700s?

Sports played in the 1700s include billiards and whist. Sports and recreation, unstructured and often violent in the 1700s, also included horse racing and boxing.

Billiards was originally played with just two balls and an implement resembling a hockey stick. The tables were made of wood, the cushions were stuffed with strips of felt and the table was covered in green woolen cloth. Some of the early billiards tables had obstacles such as hoops or pegs while others had pockets.

The development of the sport of horse racing began with the support of Charles the II, causing Newmarket to become the center of English racing. “The Racing Calendar,” which gives results of races, began publishing in 1727 and enhanced the English aristocracy’s interest in the genealogy of horses.

Whist is a four-player game competed in pairs. The goal is to win seven or more of the 13 four-card tricks. Whist received its form with the publication of Edmond Hoyle’s “Short Treatise on the Game of Whist” in 1742.

Boxing became prevalent in the 18th and 19th century. Jack Broughton, champion of England from 1734 to 1750, brought order to the sport by developing rules. According to the rules, each round continued until a man went down. Once a man was down, he was allowed to rest for 30 seconds. No man could be hit when down, and no man could be grabbed below the waist.