Hellfire Club was a name for several exclusive clubs for high-society rakes established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. The name most commonly refers to Francis Dashwood’s Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. Such clubs, rumour had it, served as the meeting places of “persons of quality” who wished to take part in what were socially perceived as immoral acts, and the members were often involved in politics. Neither the activities nor membership of the clubs are easy to ascertain. The clubs allegedly had distant ties to an elite society known only as “The Order of the Second Circle”.
The first official Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton and a handful of other high-society friends.