Sir Francis Dashwood is the head of the Hellfire Club which meets at his property of the Medmenham Abbey.
Francis Dashwood is a man of wealth and power. He purchased the defunct Medmenham Abbey and uses it to host his Hellfire Club events.
Events of the Lord John SeriesEdit
On Dashwood's behalf, George Bubb-Dodington attempts to convince Robert Gerald to return for a secondary visit to his West Wycombe home. The same day that Gerald refuses this offer, he is murdered in a mass of people, before the eyes of Harry Quarry and Lord John Grey.
A few days following Gerald's death, Dashwood attends a party at the home of Sir Richard Joffrey and Lady Lucinda Joffrey. He keeps to his circle of compatriots which includes Bubb-Dodington and George Everett. At Dashwood's request, Bubb-Dodington extends an invitation to Grey to visit the Abbey. After Grey works out that Gerald's last word was 'Dashwood', he accepts the invitation.
Dashwood himself has an alibi for when Gerald was murdered, eliminating him from Grey's list of suspects. During Grey's stay, the behavior of the men at the Abbey shows no evidence of guilt or depravity; it is much like any other house party Grey has attended, though with more politics and less hunting.
By the third night of Grey's stay at the Abbey, the Hellfire Club begins Grey's initiation ceremony. The group of men is dressed in hooded robes like monks; they pull Grey from his bed and dress him in a similar fashion. They chant as they form two neat lines and lead Grey away from the Abbey. To distinguish himself, Dashwood wears a robe of cardinal red.
Dashwood leads the rite, mostly a parody of the Mass, enacted with great solemnity with invocations made to the Master of Darkness. Much was drunk during the rites, so that by its conclusion most men were considerably less solemn. After two men seize Grey, bending him backwards over a marble basin, Dashwood intones a prayer in reverse Latin and pours pig's blood over his head to baptize him into the Hellfire Club. Grey tries to fight back, kicking Dashwood in the chin and sending him backwards. Another member puts Grey back into line so Dashwood can complete the rite. With that done, Grey is left to complete the initiation in a locked room with a woman.
Everett is sent in to ensure that Grey completes the initiation. Everett explains, among other things, that it was he who killed Gerald, not Dashwood. The broadsheets that tried to tarnish Gerald's reputation were the idea of the rest of the club, written by Whitehead, to discomfit Sir Richard. In Everett's efforts to kill Grey, he is instead the one left dead on Dashwood's property.
Dashwood does not directly appear in this novel. However he, his Hellfire Club, and the death of George Everett are mentioned by Lord John Grey as payment for information about Joseph Trevelyan from the proprietor of Lavender House.
Dashwood is a man of substance. He likes the finer things and more importantly he likes power.
Dashwood is heavy-bodied, but betrays no softness of flesh; his sloping shoulders are thick with muscles, and waist and calves were thick as well but by natural inclination of form rather than indulgence. With a broad chest and likewise broad face of ruddy in color. Preferring to not wear a wig Dashwood wears his natural dark hair.
- Francis is the English form of the Late Latin name Franciscus which meant "Frenchman".
- Dashwood is either a topographical for someone living in an Ashwood or a locational name from a place called Ashwood in Staffordshire. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century aesc, "ash" with wudu, a "wood". The Anglo Norman French preposition de, meaning "of, from" having become fused to the name.
- Sir Francis Dashwood was a historical figure that started his own Hellfire Club.