The Club obtained its name from the tavern where the members originally met, run by Christopher Cat (or Kat), famous for his "Kit-cat" mutton pies. Luminaries included nearly all the most powerful Whig politicians from 1688 to 1710, and there was much gossip in the period about the activities of the members. By 1703 the group had grown too large for Christopher Cat's tavern, and soon thereafter Tonson used the members' dues to build a special clubroom at his residence in Barn Elms, Surrey. Around this time Tonson commissioned Sir Godfrey Kneller (himself a member) to paint portraits of forty-eight of the Kit-Cats—including the Dukes of Newcastle and Somerset, the Earls of Dorset and Essex, and others including Cornwallis and Godolphin—as well as Tonson himself (these originals are housed in the National Portrait Gallery). This series of plates, by the leading mezzotint artist of his era John Faber the younger, was issued by Tonson in the 1730s.
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