Club Government: How the Early Victorian World was Ruled from London Clubs

Club Government: How the Early Victorian World was Ruled from London Clubs

by Seth Alexander Thevoz


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The book phenomenon of 'Club Government' in the mid-nineteenth century, when many of the functions of government were alleged to have taken place behind closed doors, in the secretive clubs of London's St. James's district, has not been adequately historicized. Despite 'Club Government' being referenced in most major political histories of the period, it is a topic which has never before enjoyed a full-length study. Making use of previously-sealed club archives, and adopting a broad range of analytical techniques, this work of political history, social history, sociology and quantitative approaches to history seeks to deepen our understanding of the distinctive and novel ways in which British political culture evolved in this period. The book concludes that historians have hugely underestimated the extent of club influence on 'high politics' in Westminster, and though the reputation of clubs for intervening in elections was exaggerated, the culture and secrecy involved in gentleman's clubs had a huge impact on Britain and the British Empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784538187
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 05/30/2018
Series: International Library of Colonial History
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Seth Alexander Thevoz is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford, where he is a research assistant on the forthcoming official biography of Sir David Butler. He holds degrees from the universities of Cambridge, London and Warwick, and he completed his PhD in conjunction with the History of Parliament Trust. A former parliamentary researcher, his areas of expertise include the history of British politicians' outside financial interests, and the history of party political funding. He is Honorary Librarian of London's National Liberal Club. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction 1

1 The Development of Political Clubs 21

Introduction 21

The Traditional Clubs 23

The Carlton and Reform Clubs 31

Political Clubs after the Carlton and Reform 40

Politics in 'Apolitical' Clubs, 1832-68 45

Conclusion 48

2 Clubs and the MPs' World I: A Quantitative Analysis 50

Aims and Approach 50

MPs and their Clubs 54

Explaining MPs' Links to Clubs 70

Membership of Multiple Clubs by MPs 77

Trends in MPs' Elections to Clubs, Blackballing and Fast-Tracking 82

MPs who were not Club Members 93

Conclusion 97

3 Clubs and the MPs' World II: Experiences in Clubland Space 100

Introduction 100

Space: Its Politics and Dynamics 102

Meetings: Use of Club Space and Purpose 115

Clubs, Public Meetings and Protests 123

Masculinity and Sociability: Clubs' Single-Sex Spaces and their Rival Social Spaces 124

Gossip 131

Conclusion 139

4 Clubs as an MP's Base: Accommodation, Dining, Information and Organisational Support 141

Introduction 141

Accommodation 142

Dining 143

Information 147

Organisational Support 150

Conclusion 154

5 Clubs and Whips in the House of Commons 156

Introduction 156

Whips in Clubs 158

Subscriptions to the Whip 164

Whips, Clubs and Party Identity 169

Conclusion 173

6 Clubs and Electoral Interventions 175

Introduction 175

Individuals: Agents and Central Organisation 177

A Central Election Fund 186

Petitioning 194

Textual Influence 195

Funds, Candidates and Registration 198

Clubland in the Constituencies: Disraeli and the Gladstones 200

Conclusion 206

Conclusion 209

Appendix: Appendix to Chapter 2: List of sources used in the database of club memberships for MPs who sat in the House of Commons in 1832-68 219

Notes 223

Bibliography 282

Index 301

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