HELL-FIRE AND MONKEY BUSINESS

12189910_175717226103701_7598238169639763391_nSir Francis Dashwood (1708-81) is probably most famous for establishing the Hell-Fire Club, which, allegedly, counted among its members John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. At one meeting a prayer was said to the Devil, at which another member, John Wilkes, released a baboon which he had dressed as Satan himself complete with red clothing and horns. The baboon jumped onto the unfortunate Lord Sandwich’s back, at which he is alleged to have cried “Spare me, gracious Devil! Spare a wretch who was never your servant! I am but half a sinner”. Sandwich, as Secretary of State for the Northern Department, was later involved in prosecuting Wilkes, a radical MP, for obscene libel.

The Baboon was cleared of all charges.

JJ