The Friendly Hunt A jacobite Association Wine Glass c1750

Heading : The Friendly Hunt A jacobite Association Wine Glass
Period : George II
Origin : England
Colour : Clear, good grey tone
Bowl : Drawn trumpet. Engraved The Friendly Hunt with foliate sprig
Stem : Plain
Foot : Conical and folded
Pontil : Snapped
Glass Type : Lead
Size :  Height 13.6cm, bowl 6.1cm, foot 7.5cm
Condition : Excellent
Restoration : None
Weight: 201 grams

The reasoning for Jacobite attribution given by Seddon and other standard publications for The Friendly Hunt lacks depth. We have decided to plug a few gaps and to complete the story.

The association of ‘hunt clubs’ with the Jacobite cause is veiled in mystery, which is, of course, entirely reasonable bearing in mind that members would have been considered certainly seditious and possibly guilty of treason were their actions or beliefs ever exposed to public or judicial scrutiny. Secrecy was their watchword which was the prime motivation behind the creation of the lexicon of codes and cyphers used to embellish glassware, ceramics and other material which intimated a loyalty to ‘The Cause’. This subtle approach to ‘branding’ has left us with the sought-after selection of Jacobite glassware with which we are already familiar, with its cryptic, Latinate and acrostic messages and allusory imagery, all of which is discussed at length elsewhere.

Suffice to say that any Jacobite leanings were best kept under wraps if one was to avoid potentially unpleasant intervention by the authorities, but this need for the utmost discretion also means that there is little definitive evidence with regard to the composition of the loose network of concomitant sympathisers, particularly in regions somewhat remote from the Scottish heartlands. It is worth noting that there were numerically more Jacobite sympathisers within the Catholic population of England than the entire population of Scotland.

The 18th century, however, was already awash with clubs, associations, societies, leagues and unions, all proceeding with their affairs quite openly and without fear of censure. These were almost all aligned with business or commerce in some way, as the newly-minted middle classes made wealthy by burgeoning mercantile concerns sought to forge bonds with like-minded individuals and accrue the collective benefits. Some of the more altruistic folk also founded benevolent societies to redistribute their new found prosperity, and hence there were numerous bodies established which were to later coalesce in to institutions such as the Foresters and Oddfellows, not to mention provident associations and building societies. On top of this there were further slightly more riotous assemblies, gathered together on a less prosaic premise purely for ‘social intercourse and diversion’ such as the much-vaunted Kit Cat club.

It was, therefore, an entirely sensible move for gentleman of a ‘common persuasion,’ as it were, to come together under the banner of such societies, and meet without raising suspicion. What was discussed behind closed doors, of course, may well have been the foment of insurrection and the overthrow of the monarchy, but in these more innocent days before electronic surveillance and the like, this would have stayed strictly between the assembled brethren – unless they were betrayed by a good old-fashioned spy, or carelessly discarded memorandum, of course.

Perhaps the foremost of these societies was The Cycle Club, who were constituted under the auspices of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn near Oswestry in the Welsh Marches. Williams-Wynn operated in plain sight, using his connections to install others who were favourable to the Jacobite cause in Parliament, relying on his public profile and otherwise un-impugned reputation to provide a degree of immunity, in spite of his flagrant support for ‘The Cause’.
All of this meandering and somewhat understated dissent was almost entirely confounded in the wake of the 1745 uprising; sympathisers south of the border were taken aback by the ferocity of the government’s response – the actions of Butcher Cumberland in the aftermath of Culloden, and – later - the Highland Clearances, and although their ambitions remained fervent, it was deemed more prudent than ever to ensure that they were now nurtured in a far more surreptitious environment.

A number of the aforementioned associations provided ideal cover for the continuance of Jacobite machinations behind closed doors - particularly if there were ‘offshoots’ of outwardly seemly societies - which could be brought together with perhaps more ‘careful’ selection criteria for membership having been applied to ensure that everyone was of one mind, so to speak. Bearing in mind the demographic of the members, it would have been seen as entirely natural for any nominal parent association to have a ‘sporting’ branch given that the pursuance of field sports of all kinds was the go-to leisure pursuit of the type of gentlemen in question; hence, there were a significant number of ‘hunt societies’ which were formed for this clandestine purpose, either affiliated to existing organisations or in isolation.

There is a degree of irony in the adoption of hunting as a means by which such clubs could be legitimised, as there was – already extant – a somewhat ad-hoc volunteer squadron of cavalrymen known as The Yorkshire Hunters who were drawn together in response to the threat of a Jacobite invasion. They were made up of a selection from the gentlemen of the Yorkshire ridings, who would all have been familiar to one another through their existing membership of local hunting fraternities. There were also complementary foot soldiers – The Yorkshire Blues – perhaps made up of hunt followers and associated workers, rather than the mounted gentry. Obviously, this particular assemblage of loyal militiamen, although also maintaining their hunting ‘persona’ in their new found roles – even if in name only - were diametrically opposed to their Jacobite counterparts.

And so – specifically – to the glass, from the description of which you will have hopefully navigated your way to this blog post – The Friendly Hunt. We can now see how the correlation between such hunts and their overarching societies came about, so we must find the source for our glass. For this, we need look no further than Worcestershire in the early 1740’s, and to the endeavours of a gentleman by the name of Edmund Pytts esq. of Kyre Park, near Tenbury Wells. Pytts was a university educated landowner, elected as MP for his home county in 1741 (following in the footsteps of his father, Samuel) and – resplendent in his country pile with its gardens designed by Capability Brown – outwardly an unlikely candidate to be propagating insurgency. However, it is noted in Bellow’s Worcester Journal of July 1747 that he was “charged with being disaffected towards King George II”, which infers a degree of enmity towards the ruling dynasty. Pytts established a society known as The Friendly Meeting which – as others have noted – held its General Meetings on an annual basis, rotating between at venues in Dudley, Kidderminster, Droitwich, Bromsgrove and Stourbridge. These meetings, far from being cloaked in secrecy, were held in public venues; The Golden Lyon in Kidderminster, Dudley Town Hall and The Talbot in Stourbridge being such premises. Incidentally, it was a similar rotation of host venues which had earlier given The Cycle Club its name, though – in that instance – meetings were for the most part held in members’ homes.

Pytt’s well-heeled coterie, at some point, changed its name to The Friendly Association of Worcester Gentlemen – possibly to distinguish themselves from another contemporaneous Friendly Association which advertised its functions in the same journals as did our featured protagonists, and operated from hostelries in Pershore - very much the same neck of the woods (or fox-filled covert). The fact that the society promoted itself in this manner is very much in keeping with other similar bodies, also of a Jacobite persuasion, who regularly utilised the ‘small ad’ columns of their local broadsheets to advertise their functions in understated terms, listing them simply as events ‘at which dinner would be served’. Another layer of obfuscation was clearly the preferred modus operandi for the machinations of these already polysemous organisations…

The convention for having ‘branded’ glassware produced bearing the name of clubs and societies was well established by the time that the hunting subsidiary of the Friendly Association were holding their dinners. There are noted examples endorsing other groups, specifically glasses bearing the name of the Tarporley Hunt, Buxton Hunt and Confederate Hunt, on which similar Jacobite provenance has been conferred. The location of Mr Pytts’ endeavours - close to the heart of England’s nascent porcelain industry - may well have also allowed him to cast a slightly wider net when it came to sourcing wares for his confederates to enjoy than by simply acquiring glassware, as mention has been made in an early edition of Country Life magazine of “sporting punch bowls” including “early blue and white examples” showing “stag hunting scenes, and strangely inscribed The Friendly Hunt”.

And so it can be seen that although incontrovertible proof is somewhat lacking, there is a body of compelling evidence which indicates that our glass can indeed be attributed to the sanguine Mr Pytts and his colleagues, as they vacillated on the cusp of political rectitude between the pursuits of the Friendly Association of Worcester Gentleman one the one hand, and the more invidious principles of the Friendly Hunt on the other.

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  • Product Code: 22071305
  • Availability: Sold
  • £2,250.00

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