The Old Abingdonian Club from 1743

An Old Abingdonian Club was formed in 1743 under the auspices of the Revd Thomas Woods (Tesdale Usher, 1716-19, and Headmaster, 1719-56) primarily as a social gathering and dining club for men who had attended Abingdon School so that they could meet and exchange social and political intelligences in a convivial atmosphere. At its roots, the OA Club is one of the earliest of such formal school gatherings in England.

Each year from 1743, two Old Abingdonians were chosen as Stewards of the Club and their names recorded. This record is now bound in with the Registrum Benefactorum, which is kept in the School archives. There is no record for the years 1754 to 1758, when the Revd Dr John Abbot was Headmaster, nor for the years 1776 to 1804, which coincide with most of the time that the Revd Dr John Lemprière was Headmaster.

The recording of Stewards of the Club stopped in 1821, as did the notices regarding Old Boys dinners. However, we can see that Old Abingdonians were invited to attend the Mayor’s Dinner, which was held on the occasion of the annual visitation to the School by the Master of Pembroke College.

The Old Abingdonian Club was re-established in 1893 by the Revd William Henry Cam (Headmaster, 1883-93). It is fortunate that between 1743 and 1820 a largely continuous list of ninety Stewards has survived. The names of one hundred Presidents of the Old Abingdonian Club from 1893 to the present day make the record complete.