Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hellfire Club

Often written about, but never duplicated. .  It's The Hellfire Club

(wikihistory) The Hellfire Club was the popular name for a number of supposed exclusive clubs for high society rakesestablished all over Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. These clubs were rumoured to be the meeting places of "persons of quality" who wished to take part in immoral acts, and the members were often very involved in politics. Neither the activities nor membership of the club are easy to ascertain. 

The very first Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1719, by Philip, Duke of Wharton and a handful of other high society friends. The most infamous club associated with the name was established in Englandby Sir Francis Dashwood, and met irregularly from around 1749 to around 1760, and possibly up until 1766. Other clubs using the name "Hellfire Club" were set up throughout the 18th century. Most of these clubs were set up in Ireland after Wharton's were dispelled.

The club motto was Fais ce que tu voudras (Do what thou wilt), a philosophy of life associated withFrançois Rabelais' fictional abbey at Thélème and later used by Aleister Crowley.

The two most infamous Hellfire Clubs were founded by Philip, Duke of Wharton and Sir Francis Dashwood. Lord Wharton, made a Duke by George I, with the former being a prominent politician with two separate lives; the first, "a...man of letters" and the second, "...a drunkard, a rioter, an infidel and a rake". The members of Wharton's club are largely unknown. Blackett-Ord assumes that members included Wharton's immediate friends; Earl of Hillsborough, cousin - the Earl of Lichfield and Sir Ed. O'Brien as well as Benjamin Franklin. Aside from these names, other members are not revealed.

Sir Francis was much more of a trickster than his predecessor Wharton. He was well known for his pranks: for example, while in the Royal Court in St Petersburg, he dressed up as the King of Sweden - a great enemy of Russia. The membership of Sir Francis' club was initially limited to twelve but soon increased. Of the original twelve, some are regularly identified: Dashwood, Robert Vansittart, Thomas Potter, Francis Duffield, Edward Thompson, Paul Whitehead and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

 The list of supposed members is immense; among the more probable candidates are George Bubb Dodington, a fabulously corpulent man in his 60s;. William Hogarth, although hardly a gentleman, has been associated with the club after painting Dashwood as a Franciscan Friar and John Wilkes, though much later, under the pseudonym John of Aylesbury. Benjamin Franklin is also said to have occasionally attended the club's meetings during 1758 as a non-member during his time in England. However, some authors and historians would argue Benjamin Franklin was in fact a spy. As there are no records left (if there were any at all), many of these members are just assumed or linked by letters sent to each other
  HERE is a link to an article on the subject.

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