and in that unsuitable character aspired to be the lover of the Tsarina Anne. In Italy his outrages on religion and morality led to his expulsion from the dominions of the Church' (Horace Wapole, Memoirs of George III, ed. Barker, i. 237 ; Cust, Dilettanti Soc. pp. 9-10). On his return to England he obtained a minor post in the household of Frederick Lewis, prince of Wales, and this connection, coupled with the dismissal of his uncle the earl of Westmorland from his colonelcy of the first troop of horse guards, made Dashwood a violent opponent of Walpole's administration (Horace Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 136).
Meanwhile, 'if not the actual projector and founder of the [Dilettanti] Society, he was certainly its leading member in 1736' (Cust, p. 9). He took a prominent part in its proceedings, and on 2 March 1745-6, when the earl of Sandwich was suspended from his office of archmaster for 'his misbehaviour to and contempt of the Society,' Dashwood was elected in his place, and he presented to the king various petitions from the society when it was seeking to acquire a permanent home (ib. pp. 30, 61 sqq.) In 1740 Dashwood was at Florence with Horace Walpole, Gray, and others, and shortly afterwards he got into trouble with Sir Horace Mann ; there he also made the acquaintance of Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu. In 1743 Horace Walpole described the 'Dilettanti' as 'a club for which the nominal qualification is having been to Italy, and the real one, being drunk ; the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole time they were in Italy' (Letters, i. 240). In 1742 George Knapton [q. v.] painted Dashwood's portrait for the society.
During the general election of 1741 Dashwood fought vigorously against Walpole's supporters, and secured a seat for himself at New Romney on 5 May. In parliament he followed Samuel Sandys, first baron Sandys [q. v.], and vehemently attacked Sir Robert Walpole, declaring that abroad he was looked upon with contempt. Walpole's fall made no difference to Dash woods position, and as a courtier of Frederick Lewis he was in chronic opposition to all George II's governments. He was re-elected for New Romney on 26 June 1747, and in January 1751 made a rather ostentatious disavowal of jacobitism, of which Andrew Stone [q. v.] and others of the prince of Wales's (George Ill's) household were suspected. At Leicester House Dashwood abetted the influence of George Bubb Dodington (lord Melcombe) [q. v.], and opposed the regency bill of 15 May 175 (cf. Bubb Dodington, Diary, ed. 1809, pp. 6, 7, 59, 72). On 13 April 1749 he was created D.C.L. of Oxford University, and on 19 June 1746 he was elected F.R.S. (Thomson, Royal Soc. App. p. xliv).
On 29 May 1744 Horace Walpole wrote: 'Dashwood (Lady Carteret's quondam lover) has stolen a great fortune, a Miss Bateman' (Letters, i. 303) ; but this match was not effected, and on 19 Dec. 1745 Dashwood married at St. George's, Hanover Square, Sarah, daughter of George Gould of Iver, Buckinghamshire, and widow of Sir Richard Ellis, third baronet of Wyham, co. Lincoln, who died on 14 Jan. 1742 (Reg. of Marr., St. George's, Hanover Square, Harl. Soc. i. 35). Horace Walpole described her as 'a poor forlorn Presbyterian prude' (Letters, ii. 11). His marriage had no effect upon Dashwood's profligacy ; according to Wraxall he 'far exceeded in licentiousness of conduct any model exhibited since Charles II' (Memoirs, ed. Wheatley, ii. 18-19). About 1755 he founded the famous 'Hell-fire Club,' or monks of Medmenham abbey. The abbey, formerly belonging to the Cistercian order, was beautifully situated on the banks of the Thames near Marlow. It was rented by Dashwood, his half-brother Sir John Dashwood-King, his cousin Sir Thomas Stapleton, Paul Whitehead, John Wilkes, and others to the number of twelve, who frequently resorted thither during the summer (Almon, Mem. and Corr. of John Wilkes, iii. 60-3). Over the grand entrance was placed the famous inscription on Rabelais' abbey of Theleme, 'Fay ce que voudras,' the 'monks' were called Franciscans, from Dashwood's Christian name, and they amused themselves with obscene parodies of Franciscan rites, and with orgies of drunkenness and debauchery which even Almon, himself no prude, shrank from describing. Dashwood, the most profane of that blasphemous crew, acted as a sort of high priest, and used a communion cup to pour out libations to heathen deities. He had not even the excuse of comparative youth to palliate his conduct ; he was approaching fifty, and thus ten years older than Thomas Potter [q. v.], whom Almon describes as the worst of the set and the corruptor of Wilkes; he was nearly twenty years older than Wilkes, and two years older than 'the aged Paul' Whitehead [q. v.], who acted as secretary and steward of the order of ill-fame, and was branded by Churchill as 'a disgrace to manhood' (see Charles Johnston, Chrysal, 1768, iii. 231-280, for a full account of the proceedings of the ' monks '). As a contrast