Raleigh had been found guilty of treason for his involvement in the Main Plot that sought to depose Elizabeth’s successor James I and replace him with his cousin Arabella Stuart.

The concept of a lottery, in which lots were drawn to determine a winner, had been around for centuries before Queen Elizabeth I chartered a prize draw to raise money for the “reparation of the havens and strength of the Realme, and towardes such other publique good works”.