E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A society of persons who club together, or form themselves into a knot or lump.
The word was originally applied to persons bound together by a vow. (German, gelübde.) (See CARDS, 4 clubs.)
 was the era of chivalry, . . for bodies of men uniting themselves by a sacred vow, gelubde, which word and thing have passed over to us in a singularly dwindled condition, club we call it; and the vow does not rank very high.Carlyle: Frederick the Great, vol. i. p 111