The idea soon took shape and 1891 saw the first officially sanctioned tour to the southern hemisphere from 'the British Isles', before 1899 heralded a travelling party containing players representing each of the four home nations for the first time.
After dominating the opposition in those first few encounters the dawn of the century brought increased competition, South Africa beating the tourists for the first time in 1903.
Then in 1908 came the first tour to New Zealand, who were arguably just as dominant as their current incarnation - they would go on to secure a 2-1 Test series victory.
Two years later the 'Lions' emerged, as a single lion-rampant crest was used on the jerseys in the tour to South Africa, though it was not until visiting the Springboks in 1924 when the nickname became prominent.
The Lions' identity was fully fleshed out by 1950 as the team that toured New Zealand, Australia and Ceylon - the first post-war side - adopted the red jersey, white shorts and green and blue socks.
The tourists then embarked on perhaps the most thrilling schedule to date in 1955, securing 19 wins and one draw from 25 fixtures including a remarkable 2-2 Test series with South Africa.
In Australia and New Zealand four years later the Lions lost just six of their 35 clashes - but the 1960s was to prove less successful.
The decade saw the first-ever Lions coach, John Robins, take charge for the 1966 Tour and though the Lions recorded two Test wins in Australia the All Blacks were their typically-dominant selves.
That would all change in 1971. To date the Lions' only Test victory in New Zealand, the squad made legends out of names such as Gareth Edwards, Barry John and captain John Dawes.
Despite losing their opening tour match in Queensland, the Lions would go on to win 15 games on the spin, including the first Test against the All Blacks 9-3.
The second Test would prove their only other defeat on Tour and, bringing a 2-1 series lead into the fourth and final New Zealand clash at Eden Park, the tourists flew home triumphant after a thrilling 14-14 draw.
No Lions fan needs reminding of what was to come in 1974 as Willie John McBride's boys responded to the '99 call' and matched the South Africans blow to blow in another Test series-winning tour.
Those two trips proved that the Lions could beast the best Test sides in the world but it remained a fiendishly tough feat to accomplish.
Indeed, the Lions got little change out of the Test clashes during the 1980s even though their general record on Tour remained impressive.
But the decade ended with a bang as the Lions, led by Sir Ian McGeechan for the first time, recovered from a heavy loss in the first Test to humble Australia in 1989.
It was the first time they had ever come back from behind to win a Test series and the 1990s would also prove a highly-competitive one for the tourists.
The 1993 tour to New Zealand, the last of the amateur era, could have been wrapped up by the second Test but the Lions were on the losing end of a 20-18 thriller in the first clash.
A Gavin Hastings-inspired touring party did level the series up but the wait would go on for another triumph in the Land of the Long White Cloud after defeat in the third Test.
The combined minds of Fran Cotton, Jim Telfer and Sir Ian then masterminded the 1997 triumph in South Africa. The second Test, a hearts-in-mouths affair, was won by a Jerry Guscott drop-goal and a Lawrence Dallaglio intervention at the other end.
The turn of the century did not prove too kind for the tourists, however, with efforts in Australia and South Africa slipping from the Lions' grasps at key moments.
But that 16-year drought for another series triumph was ended in 2013 after Warren Gatland and company conquered Australia.
The first two Tests were settled by two points and one point respectively, owing much to the unerring boot of Leigh Halfpenny.
But the argument was well and truly settled in the third Test after a second-half salvo led the Lions to a 41-16 win in Sydney.