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Star & Garter, Pall Mall : London coffee houses and taverns
A historical site about early London coffee houses and taverns
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STAR AND GARTER, PALL MALL.
Pall Mall has long been noted for its taverns, as well as for its chocolate- and
coffee-houses, and " houses for clubbing." They were resorted to by gay nobility
and men of estate ; and, in times when gaming and drinking were indulged in to
frightful excess, these taverns often proved hot-beds of quarrel and fray. One
of the most sanguinary duels on record — that between the Duke of Hamilton and
Lord Mohun — was planned at the Queen's Arms, in Pall Mall, and the Rose in
Covent Garden ; at the former, Lord Mohun supped with his second on the two
nights preceding the fatal conflict in Hyde Park.
Still more closely associated with Pall Mall was the fatal duel between Lord
Byron and Mr. Chaworth, which was fought in a room of the Star and Garter, when
the grand-uncle of the poet Lord killed in a duel, or rather scuffle, his
relation and neighbour, " who was run through the body, and died next day." The
duellists were neighbours in the country, and were members of the
Nottinghamshire Club, which met at the Star and Garter once a month.
The meeting at which arose the unfortunate dispute that produced the duel, was
on the 26th of January, 1765, when were present Mr. John Hewet, who sat as
chairman ; the Hon. Thomas Willoughby ; Frederick Montagu, John Sherwin, Francis
Molyneux, Esqrs., and Lord Byron ; William Chaworth, George Donston, and Charles
Mellish, junior, Esq. ; and Sir Robert Burdett; who were all the company. The
usual hour of dining was soon after four, and the rule of the Club was to have
the bill and a bottle brought in at seven. Till this hour all was jollity and
good-h amour ; but Mr. Hewet, happening to start some conversation about the
best method of preserving game, setting the laws for that purpose out of the
question, Mr. Chaworth and Lord Byron were of different opinions; Mr. Chaworth
insisting on severity against poachers and unqualified persons; and Lord Byron
declaring that the way to have most game was to take no care of it at all. Mr.
Chaworth, in confirmation of what he had said, insisted that Sir Charles Sedley
and himself had more game on five acres than Lord Byron had on all his manors.
Lord Byron, in reply, proposed a bet of 100 guineas, but this was not laid. Mr.
Chaworth then said, that were it not for Sir Charles Sedley's care, and his own,
Lord Byron would not have a hare on his estate ; and his Lordship asking with a
smile, what Sir Charles Sedley's manors were, was answered by Mr. Chaworth, —
Nuttall and Bulwell. Lord Byron did not dispute Nuttall, but added, Bulwell was
his ; on which Mr. Chaworth, with some heat, replied : " If you want information
as to Sir Charles Sedley's manors, he lives at Mr. Cooper's, in Dean Street,
and, I doubt not, will be ready to give you satisfaction ; and, as to myself,
your Lordship knows where to find me, in Berkeley Row."
The subject was now dropped ; and little was said, when Mr. Chaworth called to
settle the reckoning, in doing which the master of the tavern observed him to be
flurried. In a few minutes, Mr. Chaworth having paid the bill, went out, and was
followed by Mr. Donston, whom Mr. C. asked if he thought he had been short
in what he had said ; to which Mr. D. replied, " No ; he had gone rather too far
upon so trifling an occasion, but did not believe that Lord Byron or the company
would think any more of it." Mr. Donston then returned to the club-room. Lord
Byron now came out, and found Mr. Chaworth still on the stairs : it is doubtful
whether his Lordship called upon Mr. Chaworth, or Mr. Chaworth called upon Lord
Byron ; but both went down to the first landing-place — having dined upon the
second floor — and both called a waiter to show an empty room, which the waiter
did, having first opened the door, and placed a small tallow- candle, which he
had in his hand, on the table; he then retired, when the gentlemen entered, and
shut the door after them.
In a few minutes the affair was decided : the bell was rung, but by whom is
uncertain : the waiter went up, and perceiving what had happened, ran down very
frightened, told his master of the catastrophe, when he ran up to the room, and
found the two antagonists standing close together : Mr. Chaworth had his sword
in his left hand, and Lord Byron his sword in his right ; Lord Byron's left hand
was round Mr. Chaworth, and Mr. Chaworth' s right hand was round Lord Byron's
neck, and over his shoulder. Mr. C. desired Mr. Fynmore, the landlord, to take
his sword, and Lord B. delivered up his sword at the same moment : a surgeon was
sent for, and came immediately. In the meantime, six of the company entered the
room ; when Mr. Chaworth said that " he could not live many hours ; that he
forgave Lord Byron, and hoped the world would ; that the affair had passed in
the dark, only a small tallowcandle burning in the room ; that Lord Byron asked
him, if he addressed the observation on the game to Sir Charles Sedley, or to
him ? — to which he replied, ' If you have anything to say, we had better shut
the door ;* that while he was doing this, Lord Byron bid him draw, and in
turning he saw his Lordship's sword half-drawn, on which he whipped out his own
sword and made the first pass ; that the sword being through my Lord's
waistcoat, he thought that he had killed him; and, asking whether he was not
mortally wounded, Lord Byron, while he was speaking, shortened his sword, and
stabbed him in the belly."
When Mr. Mawkins, the surgeon, arrived, he found Mr. Chaworth sitting by the
fire, with the lower part of his waistcoat open, his shirt bloody, and his hand
upon his belly. He inquired if he was in immediate danger, and being answered in
the affirmative, he desired his uncle, Mr. Levinz, might be sent for. In the
meantime, he stated to Mr. Hawkins, that Lord Byron and he (Mr. Chaworth)
entered the room together; that his Lordship said something of the dispute, on
which he, Mr. C, fastened the door, and turning round, perceived his Lordship
with his sword either drawn or nearly so; on which he instantly drew his own and
made a thrust at him, which he thought had wounded or killed him ; that then
perceiving his Lordship shorten his sword to return the thrust, he thought to
have parried it with his left hand, at which he looked twice, imagining that he
had cut it in the attempt; that he felt the sword enter his body, and go deep
through his back; that he struggled, and being the stronger man, disarmed his
Lordship, and expressed his apprehension that he had mortally wounded him ; that
Lord Byron replied by saying something to the like effect ; adding that he hoped
now he would allow him to be as brave a man as any in the kingdom.
After a little while, Mr. Chaworth seemed to grow stronger, and was removed to
his own house : additional medical advice arrived, but no relief could be given
him : he continued sensible till his death. Mr. Levinz, his uncle, now arrived
with an attorney, to whom Mr. Chaworth gave very sensible and distinct
instructions for making his will. The will was then executed, and the attorney,
Mr. Partington, committed to writing the last words Mr. Chaworth was heard to
say. This writing was handed to Mr. Levinz, and gave rise to a report that a
paper was written by the deceased, and sealed up, not to be opened till the time
that Lord Byron should be tried ; but no paper was written by Mr. Chaworth, and
that written by Mr. Partington was as follows : " Sunday morning, the 27th of
January, about three of the clock, Mr. Chaworth said, that my Lord's sword was
half-drawn, and that he, knowing the man, immediately, or as quick as he could,
whipped out his sword, and had the first thrust; that then my Lord wounded him,
and he disarmed my Lord, who then said, f By G — , I have as much courage as any
man in England/ "
Lord Byron was committed to the Tower, and was tried before the House of Peers,
in Westminster Hall, on the 16th and 17th of April, 1765. Lord Byron's defence
was reduced by him into writing, and read by the clerk. The Peers present,
including the High Steward, declared Lord Byron, on their honour, to be not
guilty of murder, but of manslaughter ; with the exception of four Peers, who
found him not guilty generally. On this verdict being given, Lord Byron was
called upon to say why judgment of manslaughter should not be pronounced upon
him. His Lordship immediately claimed the benefit of the 1st Edward VI. cap. 12,
a statute, by which, whenever a Peer was convicted of any felony for which a
commoner might have Benefit of Clergy, such Peer, on praying the benefit of that
Act, was always to be discharged without burning in the hand, or any penal
consequence whatever. The claim of Lord Byron being accordingly allowed, he was
forthwith discharged on payment of his fees. This singular privilege was
supposed to be abrogated by the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. cap. 28, s. 6, which abolished
Benefit of Clergy; but some doubt arising on the subject, it was positively put
an end to by the 4 & 5 Vict. cap. 22. (See Celebrated Trials connected with the
Aristocracy, by Mr. Serjeant Burke.)
Mr. Chaworth was the descendant of one of the oldest houses in England, a branch
of which obtained an Irish peerage. His grand-niece, the eventual heiress of the
family, was Mary Chaworth, the object of the early unrequited love of Lord
Byron, the poet. Singularly enough, there was the same degree of relationship
between that nobleman and the Lord Byron who killed Mr. Chaworth, as existed
between the latter unfortunate gentleman and Mr. Chaworth."*
Several stories are told of the high charges of the Star and Garter Tavern, even
in the reign of Queen Anne. The Duke of Ormond, who gave here a dinner to a few
friends, was charged twenty-one pounds, six shillings, and eight pence, for
four, that is, first and second course, without wine or dessert.
From the Connoisseur of 1754, we learn that the fools of quality of that day "
drove to the Star and Garter to regale on macaroni, or piddle with an ortolan at
White's or Pontac's."
* Abridged from the Romance of London, vol. i. pp. 225-232.
At the Star and Garter, in 1774, was formed the first Cricket Club. Sir Horace
Mann, who had promoted cricket in Kent, and the Duke of Dorset and Lord
Tankerville, leaders of the Surrey and Hants Eleven, conjointly with other
noblemen and gentlemen, formed a committee under the presidency of Sir William
Draper. They met at the Star and Garter, and laid down the first rules of
cricket, which very rules form the basis of the laws of cricket of this day.
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2
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