Palaver Society


The first meeting of this society was held at the Ramshorn Inn (which might be the same as the Ramshorn Bar, 437 Arglye Street, in the city centre) at the end of May 1831. (For more information on this bar, see the entry for ‘The Ramshorn Bar‘ on the Old Glasgow Pubs website). In June of that year, members voted to move their meetings to the Argyll Cafe Coffee House, described in the minutes as ‘the premises in the Argyll Arcade under the Superintendance [sic] of the Temperance Society […] and if convenient, in the same place in time to come on the Evenings for conversation’ (Minute entry, 9 June 1831, Palaver Society Minute Book, 1831-34). This suggests that the group was pro-Temperance.

According to the society’s ‘Rules’, the group’s object was to promote learning amongst its members and to improve their skills in extempore speaking. It is unknown how much the group charged for its entrance fee, as this space in the minutes has been left blank.

Members met weekly on Thursday evenings for debates and for conversation on alternate weeks. At the meetings, there was an eclectic mix of topics covered in the fields of literature, history, science, but religion, particularly ‘Controversial Theology’, was explicitly forbidden.

This society was stricter than other groups in the sense that it imposed fines for a number of different ‘offenses’: a member could receive a hefty fine for: lateness (6d); absence (1s, unless unavoidable); failing to deliver an essay of the required length (2s); and ‘intemperate language’, swearing or ‘abusive ungentlemanlike remarks or behaviours’ (6d, later repealed). There are 46 names listed between 20 October 1831 and 30 April 1835.

Date of Existence

28 May 1831-1834?

Source of Information

Palaver Society Minute Book, 1831-34


Mitchell Library Special Collections

Reference Number


Additional Notes