Clubs & Societies

Which learned clubs and societies did Pitt-Rivers join?

Athenaeum Club, London in 2006 from Wikipedia

Pitt-Rivers belonged to many clubs and societies. This page gives some information about when his memberships began and also how active he was. In addition after around 1885 he was made an honorary member of many UK and foreign archaeological and anthropological societies.

Royal United Service Institution

Joined by 1850, the first such institution he is known to have belonged to. A report in John Bull of 2 March 1850 [p. 144] records him giving a model of a bridge from Alcantara to RUSI museum, so he must have been a member by that time. The account in which this donation was noted was the 19th Annual Report of the Institution. His interest presumably is a reflection of a his professional life in the Army. Chapman in his D.Phil thesis discusses his membership at length. [see also Thompson, 1977: 27 and Bowden] He was a very active member of the Institution, reading papers at meetings, and publishing articles in their journal. His first paper was given in 1858 on the rifle.

Guards Club of Pall Mall

He must have been a member of the Guards Club by 1861 when he joined the Ethnological Society of London as this is given as his address. His accounts book [B388 S&SWM PR papers] for the 1860s regularly lists his subscription fees from 1863. He also paid fees for the 'Regimental Club', which appears to be different (it is listed separately with different fees) but not otherwise identified. The Guards club was based at 70 Pall Mall and a club for army officers from the Coldstream, Grenadier and Scots Guards.

Royal Geographical Society

Joined 1859 [Chapman, 1981: 77] Pitt-Rivers is not known to have been a particularly active member of this society.

Ethnological Society of London

Joined 1861. This is the first of the anthropological societies that Pitt-Rivers is known to have joined and marks his growing interest in matters evolutionary and anthropological. [Thompson, 1977: 33] [Chapman, 1981: 77, 173 and on] He was elected honorary secretary and member of the council in November 1868.

Cork Royal Institution & Cork Antiquarian Society

According to Chapman, 1989: 25 Pitt-Rivers was a member of both these learned societies during his stay in Ireland from 1862.

Kilkenny and South East Ireland Archaeological Society

Later the Royal Archaeological Society of Ireland. Again according to Chapman, 1989: 25 Pitt-Rivers was a member during his stay in Ireland from 1862.

Archaeological Institute

Applied to join in 1863, elected in April 1864 [Chapman, 1981: 131, 1989: 25] President from August 1887.

Cuvierian Society of Cork

Lane Fox joins on 7 October 1863, on Council of Society from 1865-1876. [Twohig, 1987: 40]

Society of Antiquaries

Elected Fellow of Society of Antiquaries in June 1864. [Thompson, 1977: 32] This is the first society with archaeological leanings he is known to have been a member. In 1867 he was elected to the Council. [Chapman, 1989: 32] In 1871 and 1892 he was elected vice-President.

Anthropological Society / Anthropological Institute

Joined 1865. [Chapman, 1981: 77] This is the second of the anthropological societies he joined. At the time the Ethnological Society and Anthropological Societies were at loggerheads, Pitt-Rivers became embroiled in their messy disputes which eventually resolved in the founding of the Anthropological Institute, later the Royal Anthropological Institute. He was very actively involved in all the anthropological societies, acting as committee member on several occasions, giving many papers, showing artefacts and writing many articles.In1881-2 he was president of the Anthropological Institute

Geological Society

Joined 1867 [Chapman, 1981: 77] or 1868 [Chapman, 1989: 31]. Until recently this author would not have said that Pitt-Rivers was a very active member of this society but it is clear from the research into the second collection that many objects came from mineralogists and geologists whom he had presumably met via the Geological Society so perhaps it was more important than seemed at first apparent. He did publish at least one paper with the society.

International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeology

Joined by 1868. He was the honorary secretary in that year and gave two presentations at the meeting where he met Lubbock, Huxley, Lyell and Hooker. [Thompson, 1977: 34; Chapman, 1981: 194]

British Association for the Advancement of Science

Joined 1868 [Chapman, 1981: 78]. Pitt-Rivers was a very active member of the BAAS attending many of the annual meetings and was also Vice-President of Anthropology Section of BAAS meetings in 1872, 1874, and 1875, he made presentations. [Chapman, 1981: 400] He often was involved in sub-committees established by the BAAS to examine specific issues including the setting up of Notes and Queries for travellers.

Royal Institution

Joined 1871. [Chapman, 1981: 78] In 1875 he was invited to lecture at the Royal Institution. [Thompson, 1977: 40]

Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland

Joined 1873, removed from list of members in January 1901 (my thanks to Donal Fenlon for this information)

Royal Society
In 1876 he was elected fellow, his nomination was supported by many eminent thinkers of the day.  [Thompson, 1977: 41] [Chapman, 1981: 78, 400] His election to the foremost learned society of the UK was probably his ultimate accolade and recognition of his scientific contribution.

Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society

Pitt-Rivers became a member of this group in 1881 and continued his membership until at least 1889. [My thanks to Jane de Gruchy, Archivist for this information]

The Athenaeum

He joined the club in 1881 according to their membership database. [My thanks to Jennie de Protani, Archivist, for this information] He was member by April as reported in Academy 9 April 1881 p. 259.

Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland

Pitt-Rivers was elected to the Fellowship in 1882. [My thanks to Jacqueline Clabby for this information]

Society of Anthropology of Paris

Elected Foreign Associate in March 1882 or earlier. [Athenaeum, 2838 18 March 1882 p. 352]

Royal Asiatic Society

Elected Resident member of Asiatic Society at meeting on 19 March 1883. Pitt-Rivers received the journals for 1883-1885, so presumably he was a member for at least these years.

London and Middlesex Archaeological Society

President of society around November 1883 (exact dates unknown). [Athenaeum 2925 17 November 1883 p. 634]

Wellington Club

Pitt-Rivers was elected as an Original Member in August 1884. The club, about which I can find no information, was based at 1 Grosvenor Place, London SW [L156 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Pitt-Rivers papers] Pitt-Rivers was a member of this London club until the end of 1892. [L989 S&SWM PR papers]

Zoological Society
Joined 1885 [Chapman, 1981: 78] Pitt-Rivers became very keen on animal breeding and the care of exotic species on his estate at Rushmore, this may have influenced his membership of the Zoological Society.

Folklore Society

Joined 1885-6 (eight years after Society was founded). Member of Council of the Society in 1889. In 1890 he was appointed one of four vice-presidents and he served in this role until his death.

Hampshire Field Club

Honorary member from April 1886. [L211 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Pitt-Rivers papers]

Cambridge Antiquarian Society

Pitt-Rivers was elected an Honorary Member on 31 October 1887, and he continued so until his death which is mentioned 'with regret' in the notice of the Society's A.G.M. in May 1900. [My thanks to John Pickles, Honorary Librarian for this information]

Egypt Exploration Fund

Subscriber from 1887-1888. He remained a subscriber until his death. (My thanks to Alice Stevenson for confirming this)

Burlington Fine Arts Club

Pitt-Rivers appears to have been a member of this Club, a gentleman's club for men interested in the arts. In November 1888 he asked the Club to be 'furnished with the Catalogues of the past Exhibitions of the Club'. [see L587 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Pitt-Rivers papers] As members received these catalogues at no cost when issued it would seem that he joined the Club at about that date. It seems to coincide with an increased interest in art as shown by his belonging to the National Association for the Advancement of Art (see below).

National Association for the Advancement of Art and its application to Industry

He seems to have joined this Association as soon as it was formed and may have spoken at its first Congress in Liverpool in 1888.

Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society

It is not known when Pitt-Rivers joined this society but he was President from 1890 to 1893. [My thanks to Lorna Haycock, Sandell Librarian and Archivist for this information]

Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society

Joined 13 November 1890, there is an obituary for 'Pitt-Rivers, Lt.Gen. A.H.L.F., Tribute by W. Boyd-Dawkins' in the society's Transactions, XVIII (1900), 151-152 [My thanks to Roy Westall and the current secretary of the society for this information]

International Folk-lore Congress

Pitt-Rivers was a member of the International Folk-lore Council from 1891. [S&SWM PR papers, L723] He is elected to council of Council [Morning Post 2 October 1891 p. 2]

Sociéte Nationale des Antiquaires de France

He was an 'Associè correspondant ètranger en Angleterre' from April 1891. [L667, S&SWM PR papers]

Royal Society of the Arts

Fellow of Society, Pitt-Rivers is known to have been a member in 1892 and his fellowship ceased at his death. He gave a paper to the society in 1891 and attended a meeting on 16 December, so it is likely that he was a member by then. [My thanks to Rebecca Short, RSA, for this information]

Royal Horticultural Society

L928 and L951 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum's Pitt-Rivers papers confirm that Pitt-Rivers became a Fellow in October 1892.

Royal Irish Academy

Pitt-Rivers was an honorary member from 16 March 1895 until his death. (My thanks to Petra Schnabel for this information)

Blandford Cycling Club

Pitt-Rivers was vice-President and member from April 1895. [L1255 S&SWM PR papers]

Possible membership?:

He was also supposed to have been a member of the following societies though no details are known:

Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-on-Tyne
Dorset Field Club
Essex Archaeological Society
Arundel Society
Foreign associate of Anthropological Societies of Paris and Italy
[some listed in Gray, 1905: xxxix]

After 1882 he seems to have become a much less active member of learned societies than he had been before. [Chapman, 1981: 443] This may have been due to his primary residence being Rushmore and the border of Wiltshire and Dorset not being known for their ease of access to London (where most societies held their regular and annual meetings). It may also have been because of his declining health.

Societies Pitt-Rivers did not belong to:

Ben Sherwood, Assistant Librarian Linnean Society, confirmed that Pitt-Rivers had never been a member.

If you know of another society or club that Pitt-Rivers belonged to please let us know via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Pitt-Rivers was a trustee of the Tenby Museum, National Museum of Welsh Antiquities from 17 July 1878 with George Rolleston

AP, 29 April 2010, updated May 2011, October 2011, January 2012, March 2012

My thanks to Peter Rivière for his help in compiling this list.

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