Posts Tagged ‘Brooks’s’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

March 1764-



In January 1762 a private society was established at 50 Pall Mall by Messrs. Boothby and James in response to having been blackballed for membership of White’s. This society then split to form the predecessors of both Brooks’s and Boodle’s. The club that was to become Brooks’s was founded in March 1764 by twenty-seven prominent Whig nobles including the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Crewe and Lord Strathmore. Charles James Fox was elected as a member the following year at the age of sixteen. The club premises at 49 Pall Mall was a former tavern owned by William Almack as was the neighbouring 50 Pall Mall where the society had previously met and so the club become simply known as Almack’s. These fashionable young men, known as Macaronis, would frequent the premises for the purposes of wining, dining and gambling.

In September 1777 William Brooks, a wine merchant and money lender who acted as Master, or manager, for Almack’s, commissioned Henry Holland to design and construct a purpose built clubhouse at a site on neighbouring St James’s Street. Paid for at Brooks’s own expense, the building was completed in October 1778 and all existing members of Almack’s were invited to join. Brooks’s gamble paid off as all existing members swiftly moved into the new building and the club then took on Brooks’s name as its own. Brooks himself however would not live long to enjoy this success, dying in poverty in 1782.

The new clubhouse was built of yellow brick and Portland stone in a Palladian style similar to Holland’s early country houses. The main suite of rooms on the first floor consisted of the Great Subscription Room, Small Drawing Room and the Card Room. The interiors are in neoclassical style, the Great Subscription Room having a segmental barrel vault ceiling. The interior of the building remained fairly unchanged until 1889 when neighbouring 2 Park Place, which had been purchased a few years before, was converted and adapted as part of Brooks’s.

The main historic attraction of Brooks’s was its gaming rooms. At several tables in one, gentlemen would stake fortunes on whist and hazard. Gambling all night was common; all day and all night, not unheard of. When the stakes far exceeded any ordinary expenses, all the club accounts were commonly deducted from winnings, so that no bills were rendered to members. Numerous eccentric bets were and are made in the Brooks’s betting book. One extraordinary entry from 1785 is “Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship fucks a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth.” (However, there is no further indication that the bet was paid, or even how they would check it if it was claimed.)

Notable Members covered in the Regency Era’s timeframe

  • Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797)
  • Edmund Burke (1729–1797)
  • Edward Gibbon (1737–1794)
  • William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809)
  • Philip Francis (1740–1818)
  • John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe (1740–1804)
  • John Crewe, 1st Baron Crewe (1742–1829)
  • John FitzPatrick, 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory (1745–1818)
  • William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748–1811)
  • Dudley Long North (1748–1829)
  • Charles James Fox (1749–1806)
  • William Windham (1750–1810)
  • Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816)
  • Hugh Fortescue, 1st Earl Fortescue (1753–1841)
  • Thomas Grenville (1755–1846)
  • Lord John Townshend (1757–1833)
  • Sir Scrope Bernard-Morland, 4th baronet (1758–1830)
  • William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806)
  • William Wilberforce (1759–1833)
  • Richard ‘Conversation’ Sharp (1759–1835)
  • Sir John Lade (1759–1838)
  • George FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton (1760–1844)
  • Pascoe Grenfell (1761–1838)
  • The Prince of Wales, later George IV (1762–1830)
  • Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827)
  • Prince William, Duke of Clarence, later William IV (1765–1837)
  • William Henry Fremantle (1766–1850)
  • Lord William Russell (1767–1840)
  • Jean-Lambert Tallien (1767–1820)
  • John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor (1768–1821)
  • Francis Burdett (1770–1844)
  • David Ricardo (1772–1823)
  • Charles Watkin Williams-Wynn (1775–1850)
  • Alexander Raphael (1775/6-1850)
  • Richard Temple-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776–1839)
  • Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778–1868)
  • Beau Brummell (1778–1840)
  • John Campbell, 1st Baron Campbell (1779–1861)
  • William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779–1848)
  • Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
  • James Evan Baillie (1781–1863)
  • Edward Ellice, the elder (1781–1863)
  • John Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (1781–1833)
  • Granville Proby, 3rd Earl of Carysfort (1782–1868)
  • Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue (1783–1861)
  • Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865)
  • Daniel O’Connell (1785–1847)
  • George Parkyns, 2nd Baron Rancliffe (1785–1850)
  • Thomas Francis Kennedy (1788–1879)
  • William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley (1789–1849)
  • George Nugent-Grenville, 2nd Baron Nugent (1789–1850)
  • Robert Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth (1790–1868)
  • Charles Compton Cavendish, 1st Baron Chesham (1793–1863)
  • George Glyn, 1st Baron Wolverton (1797–1873)
  • David Salomons (1797–1873)
  • John Townshend, 4th Marquess Townshend (1798–1863)
  • Matthew Talbot Baines (1799–1860)
  • Michael Thomas Bass, Jr. (1799–1884)
  • George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle (1799–1891)
  • Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799–1869)
  • Richard Bethell, 1st Baron Westbury (1800–1873)
  • Robert Vernon, 1st Baron Lyveden (1800–1873)
  • Fox Maule-Ramsay, 11th Earl of Dalhousie (1801–1874)
  • Robert Grosvenor, 1st Baron Ebury (1801–1893)
  • Charles Pelham Villiers (1802–1898)
  • Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley (1802–1869)
  • Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (1803–1873)
  • Edward Horsman (1807–1876)
  • Lionel de Rothschild (1808–1879)

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