"House to let, inquire within; people turned out for drinking gin” became a popular jump-rope rhyme in the 20th century. It originated as a house sign in the 19th century.
The New York (NY) Star cited a version of the lines in 1837.
12 May 1837, Barre (MA) Gazette, pg. 3, col. 1:
The New York Star copies the following from a playcard on a house in that city:
“This house to let—enquire within
The people turned out for drinking Gin.”
6 September 1837, Norwich (CT) Courier, pg. 4, col. 1:
The New York Star copies the following from a placard on a house in that city:
“This house to let—enquire within --
The people turn’d out for drinking Gin.”
Edited by G. F. Northall
London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.
“House to let, enquire within,
Men turned out for drinking gin,
Smoking tobacco and pinching snuff,
Don’t you think that’s quite enough?”
Familiar in Warwickshire towns; repeated in front of a house in the window of which a “To Let” bill is placed.
3 April 1922, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “In the Wake of the News,” pg. 8:
For Rent signs read: “Rooms for rent, inquire within, people turned out for drinking gin”?—Ginger.
28 July 1923, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), pg. 7, col. 7 ad:
House for Rent
People Put Out for Drinking Gin
(Martin J. Cull.—ed.)
New York Folklore Quarterly
Perhaps the best known of all jump rope songs is “House to Let”:
House to let inquire within
Lady got put out for drinking gin.
If she promises to drink no more
Here’s the key to open the door.
One, two, three, four, five, six, etc.
We have traced “House to Let” back to 1900 in Nassau County, and it probably goes back farther elsewhere. Once widely heard, it is now used only occasionally on Long Island, although in 1943 a variation on its verses appeared in a popular jump song called “Ten Penny Nail”: ...
4 August 1972, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 19, cols. 7-8:
Readers Send Us
Jump Rope Ditties
Rooms for rent,
A lady got put out
For drinking gin.
If she promises
To drink no more
Here’s the key
To (--) door.