Clubs and Societies
Source 6 : Extracts from the Sederunt book of the Knights Companion of the Cape
Manuscript (NLS reference: MS 2004)
The Sederunt book contains a record of the Cape Club meetings. The word ‘sederunt’ comes from the Latin verb ‘to sit’, and so refers to all the club members who sat down to hold a meeting.
This extract includes a brief account of the club’s history and aims, and a description of the tenth Grand Cape – a celebration of the poet James Thomson.
The Cape Club was one of many 18th-century ‘convivial’ clubs whose meetings were held in taverns. It is thought that the Club was established sometime in the 1730s, but, according to this source, the name dates from 1764.
The Cape Club was named after the distinctive ‘cape’ or headgear worn by the Sovereign, or president. The Sovereign also carried two specially made household pokers as a symbol of his authority.
All members, or Knights Companions of the Cape, were sworn to secrecy about the proceedings of the meetings. Each one took on a pseudonym based on a personal characteristic, for example Sir Silence, Sir Heavyhours, and Sir Complaints.
We are grateful to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for permission to reproduce this extract from the Sederunt book of the Knights Companion of the Cape.
The knights companions of the
Cape began to call themselves by that name
about the year 1764. The original constituents
of the order occasionally admitted by a prescribed
form such other members as they found agree-
able. The purpose and intention of the Society
from the beginning was: after the business
of the day was over to pass the evening socially
with a set of select companions in an agree-
able but at the same time a rational and
frugal manner; for this purpose beer
or porter were their liquors from four pence
to six pence each the extent of their usual
expence, conversation and a song theire
amusement, gaming generally prohibited
and a freedom for each to come and depart at
their pleasure was always considered as es-
sentiall to the constitution of the Society.
Upon these principles with some few va-
riations in different periods of time incident
to every association of mankind they have
gradually encreased and that a requisite
order among so considerable a number might
be more fully established. In the year 1768
proper officers having been chosen for conduct-
ing the affairs of the Society, such regulations
as were necessary for the benefit thereof were
agreed to be put in writing. Their method
of entering members and the practice intro-
duced by a late worthy knight of each assum-
ing a particular tittle was established into
a rule of the Society (this gentleman who
was one of the founders of the order is men-
tioned here only because he having died before
the roll was extended his name is not to be
found therein, it is Sir Poker).
A mace and seal were likewise appoin-
ted to be constructed and diplomas were
ordered to be issued. Without being possessed
of one regularly signed by the sovereign,
and sealed with the seal of the order bearing
their motto of Concordia Fratrum Decus
no person was to be entituled to the privilege
of a member. And after due considera-
tion and many meetings had for that
purpose on the 26th January 1769 a body
of laws was drawn up on vellum and is
signed by the respective members always before
receiving their diplomas of which laws and
names so subscribing the following is an
Tenth Grand Cape
In honour of James Thomson author of the
Held upon the anniversary of the birth of
At Capehall in Austine’s.
Saturday 22d September 1770
In consequence of the Society’s resolution on
the 22d September in the preceeding year
per sederunt in this book folio.
In celebration of this day the
hall was illuminated and emblematically
ornamented with flowers representing
the seasons etc. An ode wrote for the
occasion by Sir Forgetfull set to music
and conducted by Sir Stair was performed
by the musical gentlemen of the Society.
After which an ex tempore oration
pointing out the capital merits of the Bard
was delivered by Sir Crassus. To this
succeeded all the songs in Thomsons works
by way of garland adapted to Scottish
music by Sir Stair and sung by him and the
other respective musical knights.
And in every demonstration of heart
felt joy, rational happiness and
decent harmony characteristic of the
Bard. The evening entertainment
concluded with a glass to the particular
memorys of departed bards, great
genius’s and good men.
At this festival there were present
|Sir Tumble Senior||Speak||Dyke|
|Sir Lad Deputy Senior||Silence||Surprise|
|Sir Nun and Abbess Rector||Vote||Crassus|
|Sir Broun Stout Secretary||Sark||Ship|
|Sir Dry Cape||Blue Eye||Too Thach|
|In all 32|
|Bill £ 4.1s.|
- According to this source, what were the main aims of the Cape Club?
- Look at the description of the Grand Cape. What does this source tell you about the interests and nature of the Club?