East India Company

Oriental Club


The Oriental Club began on 24 February 1824, following a proposal by Major-General Sir John Malcolm. A committee was established with the Duke of Wellington as President. On 8 July 1824 the Club was opened to members at 16 Lower Grosvenor Street, London.

The original primary qualifications for membership of The Oriental Club ‘were to be present or previous residence, or employment present or previous either in the King’s or East India Company’s service, in any part of the East; membership of the Royal Asiatic Society; or any official connection with the administration of this country’s Eastern Governments abroad or at home. Members of the Bengal, Madras, Bombay, India, and China Clubs were invited to join the Oriental; and all persons who had travelled in the East were declared eligible.’ (Wheeler, p. vii) Indeed, the Oriental Club’s very roots were to be found in the Royal Asiatic Society’s house in Grafton Street, where Sir John Malcolm first proposed the formation of the club, and members of the Asiatic were invited to join the newer organization. Members of the Alfred Club were also invited to join the Oriental after the dissolution of the former in 1854.

The majority of members in the Club’s first decades were members of the East India Company. The Club also boasted the membership of Governors-General, Governors, Lieutenant-Governors, and later Viceroys of India. Membership was originally restricted to men; in 2009 the website states: ‘Whilst the Club has maintained its tradition as a Gentlemen's Club, associate membership is encouraged for wives, unmarried sisters and unmarried daughters of members’ (www.orientalclub.org.uk, accessed August 2009). Indeed until 1937, women were wholly excluded on Thursdays. In the early 1950s the Club faced financial ruin as membership fell; an extraordinary general meeting rejected a suggestion to go into liquidation, and the Club instead embarked on a recruitment drive. The move to Stratford House ten years later reinvigorated the club, whose primary function has been social rather than political. The Club’s symbol is an Indian elephant.

Non-British subjects could be granted honorary member status from 1831. Throughout the nineteenth century they included the likes of Oman Effendi (1831), The Prince of Oudh (1839), Dwarkanath Tagore and Mohun Lal (1842), H. H. Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of Ranjit Singh, ruler of Punjab (1854), Sir Cursetjee Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy (1860), H. E. Nazim Bey, Prime Minister of Turkey (1862), and Nawab Nazim of Bengal (1869).

Published works: 

Riches, Hugh, A History of the Oriental Club (London: The Oriental Club, 1998)

Website of Oriental Club: http://www.orientalclub.org.uk/


Alexander F. Baille., The Oriental Club and Hanover Square (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1901), p. 282


Secondary works: 

Baille, Alexander F., The Oriental Club and Hanover Square (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1901)

Forrest, Denys, The Oriental: Life Story of a West End Club (London: B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1968)

Wheeler, Stephen, Annals of the Oriental Club, 1824-1858 (printed for private circulation, London: Arden Press, 1925)


From the founding prospectus on the purpose of the Club.

Date began: 
24 Feb 1824

The objects of the establishment are – First, to give to persons who have been long resident abroad the means of entering, on their return, into a society where they will not only associate daily with those they have known before, but have an opportunity of forming acquaintance and connections in their own country; secondly, to give to those who have resided or served abroad the easy means of meeting old friends, and of keeping up their knowledge of the actual state of our Eastern Empire, by personal intercourse and friendship with those recently returned from scenes in which they have once acted; thirdly, giving to all persons who are solicitous of information regarding the past and present condition of the East, to those who are officially connected with our Governments abroad, and to all persons who are desirous of improving their knowledge and strengthening their personal ties with that quarter, additional means of accomplishing these ends.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Lord William Bentinck (founder member), Sir John Malcolm (founder member), Duke of Wellington (first (and only) Honorary President).


Lord Curzon, Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, Mohun Lal (Secretary to Sir Alexander Burnes, honorary member, 1842), Lord Metcalfe (member), Prince of Oudh (honorary member, 1839), H. H. Prince Ranjitsinhji (honorary member), H. H. Maharaja Duleep Singh (honorary member, 1854 and subscriber from 1858), Dwarkanath Tagore (honorary member, 1842).

Archive source: 

LMA/4452, London Metropolitan Archives


18 Hanover Square
London, W1S 1HP
United Kingdom
Subscribe to RSS - East India Company