Yuletide 2017 marks the 143rd holiday gathering of The Lambs, and the anniversary of our formation in New York. A little history of the club before then, and our original founder, John Hare:
The Lambs was a men’s dining club put together in London, in the spring of 1869 by Henry Montague’s friend, John Hare. Named in honor of Charles and Mary Lamb of literary fame, it had a membership of twelve, recalling the mythical number that supped at King Arthur’s table. Hare was voted its first shepherd. The first monthly dinner was held on a Saturday, October 16 of that year. At it’s meeting of October 14, 1871, Hare proposed Henry Montague for membership as one of the twelve Lambkins, those elected after the original twelve. In 1873 Montague was elect (it’s 3rd) Shepherd.
It consisted of 24 members and among the original were: Sir Squire Sydney Bancroft, Henry Irving, Charles Santley, Charles Collette, Sir Douglas Straight, Lord Henry Tufton, Lord Newry (later Earl of Kilmorey), Baron Hathfield, Sir Bruce Seton.There was no regular club house, but they met for many years at the Gaiety Restaurant, and subsequently at the Albemarle Hotel. The Shepherd wore a badge, and called attention by the means of a silver bell mounted to a crook. The object of the club was simply fun and good fellowship.
To accommodate working actors, the dinner hour was in the late afternoon. Rules were drawn up in the club book of 1872. Among them: That the Fold do meet to browse every Saturdays
at 4:30 PM. That the Shepherd may inflict a fine of two schillings on any member who fails in attention to the bell….and the club motto was Floreant Agni – may The Lambs Flourish.
In spring of 1874, Montague headed for New York. At Yuletide time several actors from Wallack’s theater walked a short distance away to the north-east corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue, to Delmonico’s. In the Blue Room they decided to form themselves into a regular supper club. After Montague’s description of The Lambs in London, the excited little party decided to choose the name.
By 1896 The London Lambs had ceased to function since 1876 and the Shepherd’s badge of office, the crook and the bell (upon which the names of the 12 founding members were engrave) were sent to NY. May 10th, 1896, The Lambs NY flock honored Hare with a banquet (Keen’s) at which time he presented the official tokens from the old Lambs to the new. One year later, May 10th 1877, The Lambs was incorporated in the State of New York.
John Hare ,in character, is pictured left.