Maundy Gregory – a St John’s Wood Gatsby

IMG_1829Found in a 1955 Punch – a review by the novelist Anthony Powell of Honours for Sale. The Strange Story of Maundy Gregory. (Gerald Macmillan, London: Richards Press 1954). Maundy Gregory had in the 1920s what amounted to a licence to print money. He sold honours, a profession that made a comeback in the Blair years. For £10,000 (about $1 million now) he could get you an earldom; knighthoods were a bit cheaper. You could, in fact, sign a cheque to him in your expected new name–only cashable when you assumed the title. He liked rare books, especially the works of the fantastical Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo.) In some cases (according to AJA Symons in Quest for Corvo) he would pay his agents to track down supposedly unfindable books, money no object. He had a mansion in St John’s Wood which later became the world famous Beatle’s recording studio.

Powell calls him an ‘honours tout’, a ‘real life Gatsby’ and ‘a mad aspect of the 1920s incarnate’. He suggests that anyone  ‘who enjoys a good laugh’ should read the list of  guests at his Derby Eve Dinner at his own club ‘The Ambassador’s.’ Something of a ‘sausage fest’ (i.e. no women) but, as Powell says, Gregory certainly knew how to ‘bring them in.’  The author of the book, Gerald Macmillan, may  be exaggerating when he says it was the most distinguished gathering ever held…

List of guests at Ambassador Derby Eve Dinner, held on June 2, 1931.

Major-General J. E. B. Seely (in the Chair), Sir Austen Chamberlain, Mr. Winston Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, Mr. J. H. Thomas, the Duke of Sutherland, Viscount Craigavon, the Marquess of Reading, Major-General the Earl of Scarborough, Sir John Simon, Lord Southborough, Viscount Elibank, Mr. J. Maundy Gregory, Lord Jessel, Mr. Ralph E. Harwood, Earl Winterton, Lord Queenborough, Lord Bayford, Mr. W. Dudley Ward, Lord Plender, Marquis del Moral, Lieutenant-Commander Sir Warden Chilcott.

The Marquess of Linlithgow, Sir Robert Horne, Earl Spencer, Lord Camrose, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, Captain the Hon. F. E. Guest, Major Sir George Hennessy, Sir Maurice Levy, Lord Cushendun, Sir Herbert Creedy, Sir Charles Frederick, Sir Joseph Isherwood, Lord Fairhaven, Captain Woolf Barnato, Lord Ashfield, Lord Lurgan, Sir Edward Iliffe, Viscount Burnham, Brigadier-General Sir William Horwood, Sir William Goode, Sir Harry McGowan, Sir Campbell Stuart, Sir Arthur Hazlerigg, Mr. J. C. C. Davidson, Sir Harold Bowden, Lord Glanely, Mr. Walter G. Fish.


Sir Albert Levy, Sir Nairne Stewart-Sandeman, Lieutenant-Commander Godfrey E. Duveen, Mr. O. Pulvermacher, Mr. Ralph Milbourn, Mr. Julius Jacobs, Colonel H. W. Burton, Sir Edward Knapp-Fisher, Mr. Bernard Cuddon, Mr. Stanley S. Bond, Colonel J. L. Sleeman, Sir Archibald Mitchelson, Mr. Alfred C. Bossom, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles Lowther, Sir Clement Hindley, Sir Henry Rothband, Brigadier-General the Hon. Everard Baring, Mr. Albert Van den Bergh, Mr. Douglas Crawford, Sir James Calder, Mr. Detmar Blow, Mr. Jesse W. Hind, Sir Julien Cahn.

Alderman Sir William Miller Burton, Majr Guy Paget, Mr. R. W. Lloyd, Mr. E. H. Marsh, Mr. H. A. Gwynne, Mr. Harry Preston, Lieutenant-Colonel P. R. Laurie, Mr. George H. Pinckard, Mr. Daniel Radcliffe, Mr. A. C. H. Borrer, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Seymour Mellor, Mr. W. H. Smith, Mr. Ernest Rechnitzer, Mr. Eugen Spier, Sir Harry Peat, Mr. R. H. Meatyard, Sir Ducan Watson, Mr. Reginald Wright, Mr. Cecil A. Joll, Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph C. Bingham, Colonel H. A. Browne, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Mr. Frank Hodges, Sir Ernest Roney, Major H. Piers Dyer, Mr. Frank P. Whitbred, Mr. David Greif, Mr. Reginald M. Mason, Mr. J. H. Clynes, Mr. H. F. Robertson.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir George A. Hussey, Mr. A. T. Butler, Sir Herbert Walker, K. C. B. , Mr. Leslie K. Osmond, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Kenyon Vaughan-Morgan, Major Sir Archibald Boyd-Carpenter, Lord Strathspey, Captain R. C. Kelly, Commander O. Locker-Lampson, Major Guy Kindersley, Mr. Edward Majoribanks, Mr. Joseph Ball, Sir Walter Allen, Mr. Charles Graves, Mr. Warwick Brooks, Alderman Sir George T. Broadbridge, the Hon. Evan Morgan, Vice-Admiral P. Wemyss, Sir Sven Hansen, Mr. T. W. Byford, Commander M. Graham-White, Mr. Lewis Levy, Mr. C. T. Gordon, Mr. H. E. Paul Popovitch, Colonel H. Driver Jonas, Dr. F. W. M. Cunningham.

Mr. Arthur B. Portman, Mr. W. H. Collins, Dr. R. Fielding-Ould, Mr. Jack Wilson, Sir George Middleton, Captain G. H. F. Nichols, Mr. Jack Wilson, Sir George Middleton, Captain G. H. F. Quintin-Jones, Mr. D. A. Bourn, Mr. R. L. J. Llewellyn, Mr. Henry F. Compton, Mr. Quintin Bridge, Mr. Copley de Lisle Hewitt, Mr. Eric Cuddon, Mr. George A. Spencer, Mr. Corbett W. Woodall, Brigadier-General J. Charteris, Colonel J. Aubrey Smith, Mr. Harold E. Eastwood, Captain F. H. J. Drummond, Mr. H. Price Gordon, Captain Ivor

Stewart Liberty, Mr. A. J. A. Symons, Mr. Vyvyan Holland, Mr. B. Kemp-Wlech, Mr. A. F. Sims, Mr. R. H. Carruthers, Professor Tancred Borenius, and Mr. David Levi.

2 thoughts on “Maundy Gregory – a St John’s Wood Gatsby

  1. James

    I just picked up a copy of ‘Emin’ inscribed to Major-General ‘Jack’ Seely by A.J.A. Symons who seems to have tried his best to make the most of his Maundy-related social connections.


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