John ALDER (c.1712–1780)
Lottery winner and public benefactor
39 Stert Street, Abingdon, formerly the Mitre Inn
John Alder, a cooper by trade, was the landlord of the Mitre Inn in Stert Street (right).
One day in 1767 Mrs Alder had apparently given her husband £22 to settle the brewer’s bill but he had paid only £10 and used the rest to buy a lottery ticket with the winning number 3379.
He instantly wiped out the debts of his regulars at the Mitre and there were ample supplies of free ale all round. In January 1768 he bought clothing, bread and beef to distribute to the poor. He also bought a new body for Francis Blewitt’s stagecoach, The Abingdon Machine.
He appears on the 1768 poll list as ‘John Alder, Gent.’ He was elected a churchwarden of St Nicholas Church and presented a set of chimes which rang out at three, six, nine and twelve until c.1856. He bought a successful racehorse which he renamed Prize and rented four parcels of land near the Thames, now part of the Abbey Grounds, at an annual value of £45. He died in April 1780.
Source: information provided by The Abingdon Joint Environmental Trust
The plaque was unveiled at 39 Stert Street, Abingdon (formerly the Mitre Inn) on 24 April 2003.
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
‘The fortunate cooper’
of the Mitre Inn
lived here when he won
the lottery in 1767.
He gave much of his
fortune to the town
Oxford Civic Society