Humans have learned to form clubs and associations since people of like minds have learnt to play and work together — but not all clubs are formed for the good.
Some were formed for purely evil reasons while others are formed for nothing other than their ridiculousness. However, all are remembered for being downright controversial.
10 The Man-killer Club
The Man-killer club was a pro-murder club that existed in England between 1660 and 1685.
Members were exclusively murderers although men that had only injured but not killed someone were allowed to attend meetings on the condition they sat on a separate table.
Those that had committed murders sat at their own table based on the number of people they had killed.
The president of the club sat at the head of the table. He is said to have killed six men at a go.
It was normal for members to have deep wounds or missing limbs, which were proofs of their fights. Discussions were about death, blood, injuries and bullets.
The Man-killer club only existed for a short time before its members were either hanged or beheaded for obvious reasons.
9 The Thieves Club
Membership of the Thieves club included thieves, highway robbers, burglars and the like-minded. The group was very active in Tyburn, Middesex, England.
Members met at a local tavern where they drank and boasted of their actions.
One told of how he sent one of his mistresses to work as a maid for an old woman he later robbed.
Another boasted of how his gang robbed four men and dragged the fifth one into the bushes where they ordered him to give them a sermon.
The tavern also doubled as a meeting point between the thieves and daring businessmen who bought their loot at half its worth.
The tavern was open day and night, and thieves could remain there for several days until they completely disposed their loot.
8 The Spunker Club
The Spunker club was formed in Harvard University in 1770.
It was also called the Anatomical club because its membership consisted of several anatomy students that engaged in the vice of body snatching.
That is, they stole fresh corpses from graves for dissection in anatomy classes.
The students were proud of their craft and even held competitions to know who could steal the most bodies.
When a grave was left open in 1775, one of its members called John Warren boasted in a letter that the theft was definitely the work of resurrectionists (non-students who raided graves for corpses) as the Sp—s were too experienced to leave a grave open after stealing a corpse.
Warren wrote the association’s name as Sp—s because members were forbidden from writing its name in full.
7 The Beggars Club
The Beggars club was exclusively for beggars who pretended to be deformed or afflicted with one ailment or the other.
They met once a week at a local tavern where they drank alcohol and mocked all those who pitied them for their non-existent deformities.
At the meetings, blind beggars opened their eyes, lame beggars walked and those with life threatening medical conditions suddenly regained good health.
The beggars drank and sang the contradictory beggars song that started with “Tho’ begging is an honest trade”.
Thereafter which they demonstrated their acts — the same they did when they were at their begging posts, to the delight of their fellow beggars.
6 The Surly Club
The Surly club was the go-to association for coachmen and watchmen who wanted to improve their fluency in the art of insulting and cursing others.
Meetings were held once a week in Billingsgate, London, and members were required to be as vulgar and ill-mannered as possible.
Anyone that made any remark that was not vulgar enough or behaved in a manner not considered rude enough was expelled from the club.
Club members wisely realized that insulting other people could sometimes end in beatings and kicks, so they installed a bumping post where every member was kicked in the buttocks once a year.
This was to get them used to the kicks they might receive from the people they insulted.
5 The Borough Boys
The Borough Boys were body snatchers, just like the Spunkers.
But unlike the Spunkers, they were not students but resurrectionists who took body snatching as a full-time profession.
The Borough Boys were the most notorious of all resurrectionists. They operated in London, especially in Southwark graveyard.
We know much about the group from the diary of one of its members, Joseph Naples.
According to Naples, the gang referred to corpses of adults as “large” and corpses of children as “small”.
They operated around 1812 and often sold their loot to the Guys and St. Thomas hospital in London.
4 The Atheistical Club
The Atheistical club was a radical, atheist-only club that met in Posture Clark Tavern between 1702 and 1707.
Membership consisted of people who hated religion, which they spent their time criticizing at meetings.
They compared priests with the devil and disregarded the belief that God created man. They believed the first humans grew on trees or came out of the ground like mushrooms.
They insisted that the first men were about the size of a thumb and slowly increased in height after several generations.
3 The Broken Shopkeepers’ Club
The Broken Shopkeepers’ club was exclusively for bankrupted shopkeepers.
The club met at a tavern in Southwark, London, where members hid from their creditors.
Members spent their time drinking, insulting their creditors and blaming their misfortunes on their wives, servants and relatives. They blamed everyone except themselves.
Members drank and cursed in the tavern all day, before they retired to their homes and returned the next day.
2 The Mollies Club
The Mollies club was a group of men who behaved like women. They called themselves “sisters” and mimicked all sort of feminine behavior.
They operated in England in the 18th century, when they met at a tavern every evening. They often staged different female activities including mock childbirths where a pregnant “mother” gave birth to a child.
The birthing was made to look as real as possible with the “woman” in labor making groaning sounds while being assisted by a midwife and some gossips that had come to witness the scenario.
The baby, which was usually a wooden doll, was thereafter christened in an elaborate ceremony.
At other times, members engaged in gossips about their non-existent husbands and children. Some members even posed as widows.
The Mollies club was disbanded after it was exposed by members of the British reforming society, which was tasked with clearing Britain of immoral acts.
1 The Sam Scot’s Smoking Club
The Sam Scott Smoking Club was a heavy-smoker-only club that existed in 18th century England.
It was founded by a music instrument seller called Sam and membership included he and his four closest friends.
The men could inhale a pound of tobacco in just an hour and they sometimes visited filled taverns to see how long other patrons could put up with their extreme smoking habits.
Angry customers often left the taverns but the tavern keeper sometimes intervened and sent Sam and his friends away.
Sam and his friends once visited a tavern where the owner — who was already aware of their antics — faked a fire alarm.
Sam and his friends threw away their pipes and fled outside the tavern into the waiting hands of people who poured buckets of water on them.
This did not deter the club members. They returned into the tavern to continue smoking the moment they discovered the alarm was false.