Pilgrims Society

Last updated

The Pilgrims Society, founded on 16 July 1902 [1] by Sir Harry Brittain, is a British-American society established, in the words of American diplomat Joseph Choate, 'to promote good-will, good-fellowship, and everlasting peace between the United States and Great Britain'.



Over the years it has boasted an elite membership of politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and writers who have included Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Caspar Weinberger, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Henry Luce, Lord Carrington, Alexander Haig, Paul Volcker, Thomas Kean, George Shultz, and Walter Cronkite among many others. Members of the immediate Royal Family, United States secretaries of state and United States ambassadors to the Court of St. James's are customarily admitted to membership in the Society.

Henry Kissinger 56th United States Secretary of State

Henry Alfred Kissinger is an American elder statesman, political scientist, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, he became National Security Advisor in 1969 and U.S. Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later sought, unsuccessfully, to return the prize after the ceasefire failed.

Margaret Thatcher Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was a British stateswoman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. A Soviet journalist dubbed her "The 'Iron Lady'", a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies known as Thatcherism.

Caspar Weinberger American politician

Caspar Willard "Cap" Weinberger was an American politician and businessman. As a prominent Republican, he served in a variety of state and federal positions for three decades, including Chairman of the California Republican Party, 1962–68. Most notably he was Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987.


The Society is notable for holding dinners to welcome into office each successive U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The patron of the society is Queen Elizabeth II.


The first informal meeting of the Pilgrims of Great Britain included General Joseph Wheeler, Colonel (later General Sir) Bryan Mahon, the Hon Charles Rolls and Harry Brittain.

Joseph Wheeler Confederate Army general

Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler was an American military commander and politician. He is known for having served both as a cavalry general in the Confederate States Army in the 1860s during the American Civil War, and then as a general in the United States Army during both the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War near the turn of the twentieth century. For much of the Civil War he served as the senior cavalry general in the Army of Tennessee and fought in most of its battles in the Western Theater.

Bryan Mahon British Army general

General Sir Bryan Thomas Mahon, was an Irish born general of the British Army and senator of the short-lived Senate of Southern Ireland..

Charles Rolls English motoring and aviation pioneer, co-founder of Rolls-Royce

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls was a Welsh motoring and aviation pioneer. With Henry Royce, he co-founded the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. He was the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident with a powered aircraft, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display in Bournemouth. He was aged 32.

The first meeting of the Pilgrims of the United States was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on 13 January 1903.

The Pilgrims of Great Britain and the Pilgrims of the United States have reciprocal membership.

Executive Committee members, as of 2017, are:

Jock Stirrup Retired senior Royal Air Force commander and now a Crossbench member of the House of Lords.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Graham Eric Stirrup, Baron Stirrup,, informally known as Jock Stirrup, is a former senior Royal Air Force commander who was the Chief of the Defence Staff from 2006 until his retirement in late 2010. He is now a Crossbench member of the House of Lords. In April 2013, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II.

Peter Bottomley British politician

Sir Peter James Bottomley is a British Conservative Party politician who has served as a Member of Parliament since 1975. He has represented the Worthing West constituency since 1997.

Piers Coleman is a British American theoretical physicist, working in the field of theoretical condensed matter physics. Coleman is Professor of Physics at Rutgers University in New Jersey and at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the elder brother of musician and composer Jaz Coleman.

Mrs Amy Thompson is the executive secretary, successor to Mrs Tessa Wells

Noteworthy members

Nelson W. Aldrich American politician

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was a prominent American politician and a leader of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1911. By the 1890s he was one of the "Big Four" key Republicans who largely controlled the major decisions of the Senate, along with Orville H. Platt, William B. Allison and John Coit Spooner. Because of his impact on national politics and central position on the pivotal Senate Finance Committee, he was referred to by the press and public alike as the "General Manager of the Nation", dominating tariff and monetary policy in the first decade of the 20th century.

Winthrop Williams Aldrich GBE was an American banker and financier, scion of a prominent and powerful political family, and US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

John Nicholas Brown II was the United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR) from 1946 to 1949. He was a member of the Brown family that had been active in American life since before the American Revolution and who were the major early benefactors of Brown University.

Related Research Articles

Council on Foreign Relations think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), founded in 1921, is a United States nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. Its membership, which numbers 4,900, has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures.

Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Clockmakers were formed by a Royal Charter in 1631. Originally, no person was allowed to sell clocks unless they were a member of the Company. However, such requirements have since been relaxed and later removed. The Company now exists as a charitable institution, as do a majority of Livery Companies.

The National Conservative Convention (NCC), is the most senior body of the Conservative Party's voluntary wing. The National Convention effectively serves as the Party's internal Parliament, and is made up of its 800 highest-ranking Party Officers.

The Rockefeller family is an American industrial, political, and banking family that owns one of the world's largest fortunes. The fortune was initially made in the American petroleum industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by John D. Rockefeller and his brother William Rockefeller, primarily through Standard Oil. The family is also known for its long association with, and control of, Chase Manhattan Bank. The Rockefellers are considered to be one of the most powerful families, if not the most powerful family, in the history of the United States.

David Rockefeller American banker and philanthropist

David Rockefeller was an American banker who was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Corporation. He was the oldest living member of third generation of the Rockefeller family and family patriarch from August 2004 until his death in March 2017. Rockefeller was the youngest child of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and a grandson of John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman Rockefeller.

The Royal Television Society, or RTS, is a British-based educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present and future. It is the oldest television society in the world. It currently has thirteen regional and national centres in the UK, as well as a branch in the Republic of Ireland.

Primrose League political party

The Primrose League was an organisation for spreading Conservative principles in Great Britain. It was founded in 1883.

This is a list of people who have served as Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. Since 1703, all Lord Lieutenants have also been Custos Rotulorum of Leicestershire.

Richard Luce, Baron Luce British politician

Richard Napier Luce, Baron Luce, is former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen from 2000 to 2006, and has been Governor of Gibraltar, a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and Government Minister. He now sits as a crossbench peer.

The Royal Society of Arts Benjamin Franklin Medal was instituted in 1956 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth and the 200th anniversary of his membership to the Royal Society of Arts.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire is the British monarch's personal representative in the county of Lincolnshire. Historically, the lord-lieutenant was responsible for organising the county's militia. In 1871, the lord-lieutenant's responsibility over the local militia was removed. However, it was not until 1921 that they formally lost the right to call upon able-bodied men to fight when needed. Since 1660, all lord-lieutenants have also been Custos Rotulorum of Lincolnshire.

Britain–Australia Society

The Britain–Australia Society was established in 1971 as a friendship society to promote historic links between the United Kingdom and Australia. It has headquarters in the Australia Centre within Australia House in London and branches throughout the United Kingdom.

<i>Memory Hold-the-Door</i> autobiography of John Buchan

Memory Hold-the-Door is the 1940 autobiography of John Buchan. It was published in the United States under the title Pilgrim's Way.

Harry Brittain British journalist and politician

Sir Harry Ernest Brittain, KBE, CMG was a British journalist and Conservative politician.

Thomas Brimelow, Baron Brimelow British politician

Thomas Brimelow, Baron Brimelow was a British diplomat.

St George's House, based in Windsor Castle, is a British organisation committed to effecting change for the better by nurturing wisdom through dialogue.


  1. "The Pilgrims Society and Public Diplomacy, 1895–1945". Edinburgh University Press Books. Retrieved 27 February 2019.

Further reading