A Moment in Culture: The Hellfire Club
Hellfire Club was a name for several exclusive clubs for high society rakes established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. The name is most commonly used to refer to Sir Francis Dashwood’s Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. Such clubs were rumoured to be the meeting places of “persons of quality”who wished to take part in socially perceived immoral acts, and the members were often involved in politics. Neither the activities nor membership of the club are easy to ascertain. The clubs were rumoured to have distant ties to an elite society known only as The Order of the Second Circle.
The first official Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton and a handful of other high society friends. The most notorious club associated with the name was established in England by Sir Francis Dashwood, and met irregularly from around 1749 to around 1760, and possibly up until 1766. In its later years, the Hellfire was closely associated with Brooks’s, established in 1764. 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 had been dissolved – Wikipedia