Formed in 1721, it was the first club to be named after an individual siege hero.Governor Colonel John Mitcheburne inspired the hoisting of the Crimson Flag from St. Columb’s Cathedral as a symbol of defiance to the enemy.
It is fitting that to Colonel John Mitchelburne, fell the distinction of being the first individual Defender of Londonderry, after whom was named a club of men formed to commemorate the Defence and Relief of Londonderry.
Colonel Mitchelburne played a prominent role in the Siege as joint Governor and is credited with flying the Crimson of Victory Flag from the Cathedral in 1689. In 1692 he organised the first commemoration service, when he deposited the captured French flags in the same cathedral and in 1714 he formed the very first Apprentice Boys Club.
Mitchelburne died in 1721 and for many years afterwards, a representative body of citizens met at his tomb to pay tribute to his memory; they referred to themselves as the Mitchelburne Club. On 18th July 1775, an advertisement appeared in the Londonderry Journal, signed by Thomas Anderson, President, requesting members of the newly formed Independent Mitchelburne Club to celebrate the Relief by assembling at the home of one George Campbell, in Bishop Street.
As records of the early Mitchelburne Club are not in existence, little is known of this Club or its activities. There was a Club in 1845 but it seemed to have lapsed until 1854, from which time it has prospered. The famous author, John Hempton, was the first President and, during the Shutting of the Gates, celebrations of 1860, when there was a general curtailment by law of the festivities, he flaunted the authorities and led his men in the firing of the ceremonial canon.
The Mitchelburne Club has flourished over the years with Branches all over Ulster, Scotland and England.