13 November 2013

Goostree's

Goostree’s was a late 18th century gentleman’s subscription club on, I believe, about number 51 Pall Mall, St James. Numbers 49 and 50 Pall Mall were occupied by Almack’s (Sheppard, 1960: Survey of London volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, part 1). In the early 1780s, Pitt was a regular frequenter and founding member of Goostree’s. He was joined there by his close friends, all young, politically-minded men, including Edward Eliot (one of Pitt’s closest intimates who he met at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge), William Wilberforce, Thomas Steele, Robert Smith (later Lord Carrington), Richard Pepper Arden, Pitt’s older brother John (the 2nd Earl of Chatham), Bankes, Pratt, St John, and others. Pitt’s best biographer John Ehrman (1969: 106-7) says there were about twenty-five members in total. At Goostree’s Pitt felt he could let himself go, and before taking office he spent a great deal of time at the club. Unfortunately, after Pitt became First Lord of the Treasury he was too busy to go to Goostree’s very often, and the club eventually came to an end in early 1787. 
Of note, below is a snapshot of the 1799 Horwood map of London featuring the area including number 51 Pall Mall where Goostree’s was located (several houses before the turning on to St. James’s Square):
image

Sadly, the building where Goostree’s once stood is no longer. Ehrman (1969: 106) believed that Goostree’s was “on part of the site now occupied by the British Legion’s offices,” which today stand at 48 Pall Mall. Pitt himself refers to Goostree’s in a letter of 29 August 1781: “I shall return to town with the fullest intention of devoting myself to Westminster Hall and getting as much money as I can, notwithstanding such avocations as the House of Commons, and (which is a much more dangerous one) Goostree’s itself” (Holland Rose, 1911: 89). Let’s imagine him supping there with his close companions, maybe playing at a game of chance, and having a glass or two of port.

References:

Ehrman, J. (1969) The Younger Pitt: The years of acclaim. London: Constable, pp. 106-7.

Holland Rose, J. (1911) William Pitt and National Revival. London: G. Bell and Sons, p. 89.

Sheppard, F.H.W. (ed.) (1960) Survey of London Volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster part 1.


Also see:

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40580#n113

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