In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.
Oriental Club of London
April 1824 –
The Oriental Club of London was founded perhaps a little prior to April of 1824.
The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany reported in its April, 1824, issue –
||An Oriental Club has just been established in London, of which the Duke of Wellington is President, and upwards of forty individuals of rank and talent connected with our Eastern empire are appointed a Committee. The following is the Prospectus… The Oriental club will be established at a house in a convenient situation. The utmost economy shall be observed in the whole establishment, and the subscription for its foundation and support shall not exceed fifteen pounds entrance, and six pounds per annum. There will be a commodious reading room… A library will be gradually formed, chiefly of works on oriental subjects. The coffee room of the club will be established on the most economical principles, similar to those of the United Service and Union. There will be occasional house dinners. The qualifications for members of this club are, having been resident or employed in the public service of His Majesty, or the East-India Company, in any part of the East – belonging to the Royal Asiatic Society – being officially connected with our Eastern Governments at home or abroad… The British Empire in the East is now so extensive, and the persons connected with it so numerous, that the establishment of an institution where they may meet on a footing of social intercourse, seems particularly desirable. It is the chief object of the Oriental club to promote that intercourse…||”
James Grant said of the club in The Great Metropolis (1837) –
||The Oriental Club, corner of Hanover Square, consists of gentlemen who have resided some time in the East. A great majority of its members are persons who are living at home on fortunes they have amassed in India. India and Indian matters form the everlasting topics of their conversation. I have often thought it would be worth the while of some curious person to count the number of times the words Calcutta, Bombay and Madras are pronounced by the members in the course of a day. The admission money to the Oriental Club is twenty pounds, the annual subscription is eight pounds. The number of members is 550. The finances of the Oriental are in a flourishing state, the receipts last year amounted to 5,609l, while the expenditure was only 4,923l, thus leaving a balance in favour of the club of 685l… at this rate they will get more rapidly out of debt than clubs usually do… Nabobs are usually remarkable for the quantity of snuff they take; the account against the club for this article is so small that they must be sparing in the use of it; it only averages 17l. 10s. per annum. Possibly, however, most of the members are in the habit of carrying boxes of their own…||”
To this day the old Smoking Room is adorned with an elaborate ram’s head snuff box complete with snuff rake and spoons, though most members have forgotten its original function.
In its monthly issue for June 1824, The Asiatic Journal reported that “The Oriental Club expect to open their house, No. 16, Lower Grosvenor Street, early in June. The Members, in the mean time, are requested to send their names to the Secretary as above, and to pay their admission fee and first year’s subscription to the bankers, Messrs Martin, Call and Co., Bond Street.”
The club’s first purpose-built club house, in Hanover Square, was constructed in 1827–1828 and designed by Philip Wyatt and his brother Benjamin Dean Wyatt. Edward Walford, in his Old and New London (Volume 4, 1878) wrote of this building
||At the north-west angle of the square, facing Tenterden Street, is the Oriental Club, founded about the year 1825… The building is constructed after the manner of club-houses in general, having only one tier of windows above the ground-floor. The interior received some fresh embellishment about the year 1850, some of the rooms and ceilings having been decorated in a superior style by Collman, and it contains some fine portraits of Indian and other celebrities, such as Lord Clive, Nott, Pottinger, Sir Eyre Coote, &c. This club is jocosely called by one of the critics of ‘Michael Angelo Titmarsh’ the “horizontal jungle” off Hanover Square.|
The club possesses a fine collection of paintings, including many early portraits of Britons in India such as Warren Hastings. The Bar is overlooked by a painting of Tippu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore (1750–1799). There are portraits of the club’s principal founders, the first Duke of Wellington (by H. W. Pickersgill) and Sir John Malcolm (by Samuel Lane). Other portraits include Lord Cornwallis (1738–1805), also by Samuel Lane, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy, 1st Baronet (1783–1859), by John Smart, Clive of India (1725–1774) by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, Major-General Stringer Lawrence by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Major General Sir Thomas Munro, 1st Baronet (1761–1827), by Ramsay Richard Reinagle, Edward Stratford, second Earl of Aldborough (died 1801) by Mather Brown, Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt (c. 1769–1849) and General Sir William Nott, both by Thomas Brigstocke.
President of the Club
- 1824–1852: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (Honorary President)
After Wellington’s death in 1852, no further Presidents were appointed.
The first club Committee of 1824 included:
- Lord William Bentinck GCB (1774–1839)
- Right Hon. Charles Williams Wynn MP (1775–1850)
- General Sir Alured Clarke GCB (1744–1832)
- General Sir George Nugent, Bt GCB (1757–1849)
- Vice-Admiral Sir Richard King, Bt (1774–1834)
- Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm KCB (1768–1838)
- Major General Sir John Malcolm GCB KLS (1769–1833)
- Sir George Staunton, Bt. MP (1781–1859)
- Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet MP
- Lt General Sir Thomas Hislop Bart GCB
- Lt General Sir Miles Nightingall, KCB
- Major General Sir Patrick Rose
- Sir Robert Farquhar, Bt.
- Sir Christopher Cole KCB MP
- Major General Malcolm Grant
- Major General Haldane, CB
- Rear Admiral Lamber
- Major General Rumley
- Colonel Baron Tuyll
- Colonel Alston
- Colonel Baillie MP
- Alexander Boswell, Esq.