Beefsteak Club - Encyclopedia

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BEEFSTEAK CLUB, the name of several clubs formed in London during the ,8th and 19th centuries. The first seems to have been that founded in 1709 with Richard Estcourt, the actor, as steward. Of this the chief wits and great men of the nation were members and its badge was a gridiron. Its fame was, however, entirely eclipsed in 1735 when "The Sublime Society of Steaks" was established by John Rich at Covent Garden theatre, of which he was then manager. It is said that Lord Peterborough supping one night with Rich in his private room, was so delighted with the steak the latter grilled him that he suggested a repetition of the meal the next week. From this started the Club, the members of which delighted to call themselves "The Steaks." Among them were Hogarth, Garrick, Wilkes, Bubb Doddington and many other celebrities. The rendezvous was the theatre till the fire in 1808, when the club moved first to the Bedford Coffee House, and the next year to the Old Lyceum. In 1785 the prince of Wales joined, and later his brothers the dukes of Clarence and Sussex became members. On the burning of the Lyceum, "The Steaks" met again in the Bedford Coffee House till 1838, when the New Lyceum was opened, and a large room there was allotted the club. These meetings were held till the club ceased to exist in 1867. Thomas Sheridan founded a Beefsteak Club in Dublin at the Theatre Royal in 1749, and of this Peg Woffington was president. The modern Beefsteak Club was founded by J. L. Toole, the actor, in 1876.

See J. Timbs Clubs and Club Life in London (1873); Walter Arnold, Life and Death of the Sublime Society of Steaks (1871).

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