Early Anniversary Dinners 1724-1824

According to the Cambridge Youths’ account books, the first annual dinner was held in January 1779. It almost certainly took place at whichever one of the many inns in Cambridge was being used as the Society’s clubhouse. We know that the landlord was a Mr Conner and other evidence in the accounts makes it likely that his establishment was the Dog and Duck at 2, St Mary’s Passage (opposite the south door of Great St Mary’s). It is currently occupied by the Cambridge Satchel Company.

The site of the Dog and Duck

There were fifteen members at the time and the cost of the meal was thirty shillings [£165 at 2021 prices]. It was paid for from the Society’s accumulated earnings. At the same monthly meeting that recorded the dinner expenditure, each of the fifteen members also received a dividend of one guinea. The Society could afford it. More than thirty guineas [nearly £3500] had been earned in 1778 from, amongst other things, nine weddings, eight university events, the election of six town councillors, and welcoming the circuit judges to the summer and winter assizes.

The annual dinner became a regular feature after 1789, though the amount spent on it varied depending on the number of members and, possibly, by how lucrative the previous year’s activities had been. In 1793, though, the eleven members splashed out a record ten guineas [£1310] on the ‘anniversary supper’ even though 1792 had been a lean year for income. The 1793 payment was made to a Mr Woolard, suggesting that either the Society had changed its clubhouse or the Dog and Duck had a new landlord.

The clubhouse and, therefore, the dinner location changed several times in the following thirty years. In 1797 it moved to the Eagle & Child (now just the Eagle) in Bene’t Street where the landlord was then John Hazard, one of the leading members of the Society. It remained there after Hazard’s death in 1807, when his wife took over the running of the inn. In 1815 a Mr Mitchell became landlord at the Eagle and at some point between then and 1824 the Society moved again, this time to the Lamb Inn in Butcher’s Row (now Guildhall Street). The centenary dinner was held there in 1824 at which time there were twelve members. Mr Khiy’s bill for the event was a relatively modest £2.12s.2d [£244] but to enhance the occasion the Society also paid for a leg of mutton at an additional cost of seven shillings and sixpence [£35].






2 responses to “Early Anniversary Dinners 1724-1824”

  1. Pubman avatar

    Very interesting. Would be interesting to have a list of all the “establishments” the Society has frequented over the last 300 years.

    1. Gareth Davies avatar
      Gareth Davies

      I’m working on it. Over the dinner weekend there will be a guided tour around some of those that no longer exist and, probably, a few that still do.

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