Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Townshend, Charles Fox

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TOWNSHEND, CHARLES FOX (1795–1817), founder of the Eton Society, born at Balls Park, Hertfordshire, on 28 June 1795, was the eldest son of John Townshend (1757–1833), member of parliament successively for Cambridge University, Westminster, and Knaresborough, by his wife Georgiana Anne, daughter of William Poyntz of Midgham [see under Poyntz, Stephen]. George Townshend, second marquis [q. v.], was his uncle, and John, the fourth marquis, was his younger brother. Charles Fox was educated at Eton (1807–12) under Keate. In 1811 he founded the ‘Eton Society.’ Its members were originally known as the ‘Literati,’ but afterwards the society was called ‘Pop,’ from ‘Popina,’ an eating-house, because its meetings were held in a room over the shop of Mrs. Hatton, a confectioner. In 1846 this house was pulled down and the club removed to the ‘Christopher.’ Keate approved the objects of the society, and the translation docti sumus, ‘I belong to the Literati,’ became one of his stock jokes.

The original number of members was twenty; it was increased to thirty, but by 1816 had sunk to four, and but for the protest of the founder would have probably become extinct. ‘Pop’ has included among its orators G. A. Selwyn, A. H. Hallam, Sir Francis Doyle, Gerald Wellesley, Sir E. S. Creasy, Sir John Wickens, the Earls of Derby and Granville, and W. E. Gladstone (elected 1825, æt. 15). The club, which at present numbers twenty-eight, possesses a bust of its founder. Townshend proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge, and graduated M.A. in 1816. He died unmarried on 2 April 1817, while a candidate for the representation in parliament of Cambridge University, being then only in his twenty-second year.

[Stapylton's Eton Lists, 1864; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Eton Loan Collection Cat. 1891, pp. 41, 76; Wilkinson's Reminiscences of Eton in Keate's Time, chap. xix.; Collins's Etoniana; Lyte's Hist. of Eton College, 1887; Luard's Alumni Cantabr.]

T. S.