Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Arthur's Club


This Club, established more than a century since, at No. 69, St. James's-street, derives its name from Mr. Arthur, the master of White's Chocolate-house in the same street. Mr. Cunningham records: "Arthur died in June, 1761, in St. James's-place; and in the following October, Mr. Mackreth married Arthur's only child, and Arthur's Chocolate-house, as it was then called, became the property of this Mr. Mackreth."

Walpole, writing in 1759, has this odd note: "I stared to-day at Piccadilly like a country squire; there are twenty new stone houses: at first I concluded that all the grooms that used to live there, had got estates and built palaces. One young gentleman, who was getting an estate, but was so indiscreet as to step out of his way to rob a comrade, is convicted, and to be transported; in short, one of the waiters at Arthur's. George Selwyn says, 'What a horrid idea he will give us of the people in Newgate?'"

Mackreth prospered; for Walpole, writing to Mann, in 1774, speaking of the New Parliament, says: "Bob, formerly a waiter at White's, was set up by my nephew for two boroughs, and actually is returned for Castle Rising with Mr. Wedderburne;

"'Servus curru portatur eodem;'

which I suppose will offend the Scottish Consul, as most of his countrymen resent an Irishman standing for Westminster, which the former reckon a borough of their own. For my part, waiter for waiter, I see little difference; they were all equally ready to cry, 'Coming, coming, Sir.'"

Mackreth was afterwards knighted; and upon him appeared this smart and well-remembered epigram:

"When Mackreth served in Arthur's crew,

He said to Rumbold, 'Black my shoe;'

To which he answer'd, 'Ay, Bob.'

But when return'd from India's land,

And grown too proud to brook command,

He sternly answer'd, 'Nay, Bob.'"

The Club-house was rebuilt in 1825, upon the site of the original Chocolate-house, Thomas Hopper, architect, at which time it possessed more than average design: the front is of stone, and is enriched with fluted Corinthian columns.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. I
London, 1866