Benefit / Friendly Societies

In 1780 the manor court book records a conditional surrender (mortgage) for £60 by Charles King, clock- and watchmaker:

To Richard Barton, James Barton, Francis Robinson, Richard Lomath, John Lomath, William Burley, James Newman, Robert Eden, Paul Parkins, Joseph Hunt, Robert Gurney and John Adams (Twelve of the Members of the Society called the Amicable and Brotherly Society now held at the House of Richard Barton)

It's not known what happened to this early mutual-help society of craftsmen and innkeepers which met at The George. The rise of benefit or friendly societies was primarily a feature of the early Victorian era. They were intended to provide an alternative to the Poor Law for those who could afford to make regular contributions while in work, in order to draw from the society when they were ill, or to provide for their widows. They also held annual celebrations or feasts around Whitsun, reports of some of which are given below. After 1863 only the Foresters sent regular bulletins to the local newspapers and it seems most of the others folded. The societies were:

1852: Oxford Chronicle, 19 June
The members of the Old Union Friendly Society held their anniversary gathering at the King’s-head Inn, on the 11th inst.  About 50 members and friends of this prosperous association partook of the excellent spread provided by the host Mortimer.  G. Cowley, Esq., presided.  The Quainton musicians added music to the festivities.  An agreeable meeting passed off harmoniously. – On Saturday a musical promenade with dancing took place in Mr. Mayne’s field;  the scene was an animated one, and about 100 couples were “tripping on the light fantastic toe” at one time.- The members of the National School Friendly Society dined together in the school-room on the 11th inst.  About eighty were present.

1853: Banbury Guardian, 26 May
The Foresters’ Court “Pride of the Crown,” No. 1447, held their anniversary on Tuesday week, at the George Inn.  A sumptuous dinner was provided, to the entire satisfaction of the numerous company.  George Cowley, Esq., presided.  After the usual loyal toasts, the Chairman gave the toast of the day – “Success to Forestry.”  He observed that the advantages of the Institution were becoming general, and that it had spread itself throughout England, and extended to Australia.  The health of the visitors was replied to in an eloquent manner by Mr. L. C. Gent.  The company loudly applauded the speaker.  A variety of sentiments were given, and the occasion was one of harmony and conviviality.

1853: Banbury Guardian, 2 June
CLUB FEAST.  The members of the Winslow New Benefit Society, held at the Bell Inn, had their annual feast gathering on Monday last.  J. Cowley, Esq., presided in the place of G Cowley, Esq., who was unavoidably absent.  The vice-chair was filled by Mr. B. Rawlins.  The Steeple Claydon brass band added music to the festivities.  An excellent dinner was provided by Mr. Neale.  From the balance sheet it appears, that it has 46 members;  that the income during the past year has been £70 16s. 8d., leaving a balance in favour of the club of £17 3s. 8d.; and that the funds are – bank, £90 14s. 2d.; box, £7 5s. 1d.; and treasurer, £5 – making a total of £102 19s. 3d.  In the evening a procession was, with the members, formed through the town, after which the company visited the chairman, who liberally entertained the assemblage, and as usual allowed the visitors to have a merry dance on the lawn in front of his residence.

1853: Bucks Herald, 18 June
On Friday, the Old Union Club held its annual meeting at the King's Head Inn, where the members partook of a capital dinner, provided by the landlord, Mr. Mortimer. The Claydon Band was in attendance the whole of the day, occasionally parading the streets, and delighting the inhabitants with its music. On the following day it performed in a field, a short distance from the town, where the young people amused themselves with cricketting, &c.

1854: Oxford Chronicle, 3 June
CLUB FEAST. – The annual meeting and dinner of the members and visitors of the benefit club, at the Bell Inn, took place on Monday, 29th May.  The town was shorn of its usual merry appearance as no band of music was engaged, nor did one gladdened peal from the bells of the old church steeple break the monotony of the day.  The only symbol of the festivities that reigned within, was the customary oak bough placed at the entrance of the inn.
            The tables were spread with meats of the best,
            The drink was without control,
            Yet one thing was lacking to give it a zest,
            ‘Twas music to gladden the soul.

1855: Bucks Chronicle, 2 June
THE NEW BENEFIT CLUB.- The members of this society held their annual festival at the Bell Inn, on Monday last, under the presidency of John Cowley, Esq., with Mr Rawlins vice-chairman.  Host Neale made ample preparations for the occasion, and about 50 friends partook of the excellent dinner.  The usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given, several good songs sung, and the meeting was of a convivial character.

1856: Oxford Chronicle, 31 May
On Monday last the members of the New United Benefit Club held their anniversary meeting at the Bell Inn, in this place, where they partook of a capital dinner, furnished by the worthy host (Neal), and to which ample justice was done.  A band was in attendance, but in consequence of the day being wet its harmonious strains were not heard much in the town.  The evening passed off with mirth and song, which enchained the company until the night had far waned.

1858: Bucks Herald, 5 June
  CLUB FEASTS. – On Friday, the 28th ult., the Provident Benefit Club held its annual gathering at the George Hotel, when about forty-six of its members sat down to a most substantial dinner provided by Host Barton for the occasion.  On Monday, the 31st ult., the Old Union Benefit Society also assembled at the Bell Hotel, and a goodly muster of its members took place, and sat down to a capital dinner provided by Mr. Neale.  Both clubs spent very pleasant evenings.  A brass band paraded the streets on the latter occasion.

1858: Bucks Herald, 12 June
FORESTERS’ LODGE.- The members of the Winslow Lodge of the Ancient Order of Foresters held their anniversary gathering at the George Inn in this town, on Tuesday the 8th instant, when thirty-two of its members and friends sat down to dinner, provided by Mr. Barton.  The spread was excellent, combining quality with good cookery, so that the gastronomic faculties of those present were brought into full play, and justice done to the viands.  Thomas Newham, Esq., occupied the chair, and Mr. Alfred Barton the vice-chair.  After the cloth was removed and the usual patriotic toasts were given and responded to, the company, which had received a large accession in numbers, enjoyed a very pleasant evening, during which several good songs and recitations were sung and given by some of those present.  The company did not break up till peep o’ day.

1859: Bucks Herald, 25 May
The members of the Winslow Benefit Club will hold their Anniversary Dinner at the Bell Inn, on Monday next.  The day is usually one of much festive enjoyment.  On Tuesday there will be a dance and cricketing, &c.  On Wednesday the races, and the town will be the scene of race, fun, and frolic, for the greater part of the week.

1859: Bucks Herald, 4 June
  BENEFIT CLUB FESTIVITIES.- On Friday, the 27th ult., the Provident Benefit Society met at the George Inn, in this place, to hold their annual festival, when a large number sat down to a capital dinner of good old English cheer, provided by host Barton.  A brass band was in attendance, which paraded the town at intervals during the day.
  NEW UNION BENEFIT SOCIETY.- This club also held its annual gathering at the Bell Hotel, on Monday last, where a goodly number of members and their friends were regaled with a most excellent dinner, provided by host William Neal.  A band which was in attendance on the occasion adjourned in the evening to a field in the occupation of Mr. Neal, where the young folks tripped it lightly o’er the grass till dusky eve.  A game of cricket was played, and other out-door sports were engaged in.

1860: Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News, 16 June
  UNION BENEFIT SOCIETY.- This society held its fourth anniversary, on Friday last, at the King’s Head Inn, when several members and their friends sat down to a substantial dinner provided by Host Bond.  A pleasant and convivial evening was spent.  The funds of the society are in a flourishing state, amounting to about £30.

1861: Bicester Herald, 21 June
  FORESTERS’ ANNIVERSARY AT WINSLOW. – On Tuesday the Foresters held their annual gathering at the George Inn, Winslow, where most of the members and some friends sat down to dinner, which was liberally supplied by Host Barton.  On the removal of the cloth, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts with others of a personal character were given and duly responded to.  A band of professionals were engaged for the occasion, who enlivened the company at intervals with their melodies.

1862: Bucks Herald, 6 Dec
  LANCASHIRE DISTRESS FUND.- The Ancient Order of Foresters- Pride of Crown Court, No. 1,447- at their monthly meeting voted the sum of two guineas towards the Fund for the Relief of the Distressed Operatives in Lancashire. [This was due to the effect of the American Civil War on the cotton industry.]

1863: Bucks Herald, 6th June
  BENEFIT CLUBS.- The Winslow Provident and The Old Union benefit clubs held their usual annual gathering on Friday last, the former at the George, the latter at the Bell, where the members of each regaled themselves with thorough good old English fare.  The Steeple Claydon Brass Band was in attendance, and paraded the town at intervals during the day, followed by a procession of the two clubs.  The funds of the above societies are in a very favourable state, showing balances of £112 and £78 respectively to their credit.

1864: Buckingham Advertiser, 9 July
  FORESTERS’ DINNER.- This annual dinner took place on Friday, the 1st instant, at the George Inn, when a goodly number of Foresters musterd on the occasion, who were joined by a few friends, and sat down soon after Two o’clock to a most excellent dinner.  The Viands were of the best quality and the wines and other liquors first-class.  After the cloth was removed, the chairman, (Dr. Newham), gave the usual loyal and other toasts-in-succession, interspersed with some capital songs.  The company spent a most agreeable evening, and did not depart until night was far advanced.

1865: Oxfordshire Telegraph, 19th July,
  FORESTERS’ FESTIVAL AT WINSLOW.- On the 7th instant the Foresters of Winslow held their annual festival at the George Inn, where several members and friends sat down to a first-class dinner, provided by host Barton, in his usual liberal style.  The usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given and responded to and an agreeable evening spent.

1866: Oxford Chronicle, 14 July
  FORESTERS’ ANNIVERSARY.- The Foresters held their meeting at the George Inn on the 5th inst., when the members, numbering 42, with several of their friends dined.  The meeting was presided over by Dr. Newham.  A musical treat was provided, with the addition of an excellent comic singer, who gave universal satisfaction.  The evening party was greatly enlarged by many townsmen and neighbours.  Songs and glees were sung by volunteers in capital style, which added much to the pleasure of the evening.  The party was prolonged to a late hour.  The dinner was well served up, with a complimentary toast to the landlord.

1867: Bucks Herald, 13 July
  FORESTRY.- The anniversary dinner of the Ancient Order of Foresters, Court 1467, “Pride of the Crown,” took place at the George Inn, Winslow, on Friday last.  John Denne, Esq., presided on the occasion.  The society numbers 47 members, most of whom were present.  Several visitors also honoured the members with their company.  The cloth having been removed, the usual loyal toasts were given, followed by others relating more particularly to the general welfare of the society.  The toast of the day, “Success to Forestry,” met with a hearty response.  The evening was spent convivially, the company being considerably augmented by several friends.  The dinner was admirably served up, and reflected the greatest credit on the host, whose catering gave general satisfaction.  We are pleased to state the society is in a most flourishing condition.

1869: Buckingham Advertiser, 10 July
  FORESTERS’ DINNER.- The  anniversary dinner of the Ancient order of Foresters (Court Pride of the Crown, No. 1,447) took place at the George Inn, on Friday, July 2nd.  The chair on the occasion was occupied by Mr. John Denne.  After the removal of the cloth the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given.  Then followed the toast of the day, “Success to the above Court,” which was received with all the honours of the order, amidst the most enthusiastic greetings.  The Winslow Amateur Band kindly lent their services, and we need only add their performances, which consisted of popular airs and operatic overtures, were exceedingly well given, and received an ovation of applause.  Some excellent vocal music was rendered during the evening, and the company was much increased by many friends and inhabitants joining in the evening’s conviviality, which was prolonged to a late hour.  The dinner was all that could be wished for, and was served up with the usual excellent care and management of host Barton.  The society is in a most flourishing state, and with 41 members.  Their funds exceed the sum of £700.

1873: Buckingham Advertiser, 7 June
  ANNIVERSARY DINNER OF THE PROVIDENT SOCIETY.- On Friday May 30, the members of the Winslow Provident Society, held their annual Festival, when about 60 sat down to an excellent dinner, provided by the committee in the Boy’s school.  The services of the Waddesdon band had been secured for the day.  The financial position of the society is good, although the two past years have been exceedingly heavy ones for sickness.

1873: Bicester Herald, 18 July
  AT THE GEORGE INN, WINSLOW, the anniversary dinner of the Ancient Order of Foresters took place on Friday, July 4, when the members of Court “Pride of the Crown,” No. 1,447, about 40 in number, assembled, and were presided over by John Denne, Esq., surgeon of the court.  After the removal of the cloth, the chairman, in eulogistic and loyal terms gave “The Health of Her Majesty the Queen,” which was most cordially received.  The next toast, “The Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family,” was also duly honoured.  The usual patriotic toast of “The Army, Navy, and Auxiliary Forces” followed, and was well received.  The Chairman then gave the toast of the day- “Success to Forestry,” with the honours of the order.  The evening meeting was considerably supported by many friends dropping in, and their presence was highly appreciated.  In addition, a talented party of professionals, instrumental and vocal, were engaged, and added much to the enjoyment of the day.  The worthy host, Barton, did all that could conduce to the enjoyment of the company by his excellent catering.

1875: Bucks Herald, 5 June
  WINSLOW CLUB FESTIVAL.- The annual festival of the Winslow Provident Society was held on Friday, May 28.  After parading the town with their band, about 50 of the members adjourned to the schoolroom, and sat down to a substantial dinner under the chairmanship of Mr. H. Monk, of Tuckey Farm.  From the annual balance sheet it appears that the society has paid during the last year for sick relief £67:14:0; to surgeon, £17:16:0; and to funerals, £17:10:0; and, although the past three years have been very heavy ones, it still has a balance in hand of £350.

1875: Bucks Herald, 17 July
  FORESTERS’ ANNUAL DINNER.- This event took place at the George Inn, on Thursday, the 8th inst., when a numerous party assembled to celebrate it.  After the removal of the cloth, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were proposed.  The toast of the day was given with great cordiality, followed by the usual Foresters’ honours.  A most agreeable evening was spent, some very good business speeches were made, and the harmony of the meeting was well sustained.  The host catered with his usual care, and great satisfaction was duly expressed.

1876: Buckingham Advertiser, 3 June
WINSLOW PROVIDENT CLUB.
  The members of this Club held their annual feast in the National School on Friday, May 26th.  The day was celebrated with much rejoicing, and its success materially assisted by the excellent playing of the Wing brass band engaged for the occasion.
  A most excellent dinner was provided in the school, and vigorously attacked by upwards of sixty members of this old established and sound society.  The chair was taken by Dr. Newham, the society’s medical officer, supported by Meyrick Selby Lowndes, Esq., T. P. Willis, Esq., and Mr. Thomas Marks…
  The members and their friends now paraded the town, headed by the band, and called at the houses of gentry and tradesmen.  This proceeding, which gave great pleasure, was prolonged until the shades of evening began to descend, when the members of the Club sat down to supper, and at an early hour broke up, and betook themselves to their homes, after spending a most pleasant day, and having earned the good will and good word of their friends by their straightforward and orderly behaviour.
  The Society is established on a good basis as to pay and contributions.  There is no division of funds.  The property amounts to £356 18s. 5d., and the number of members, two-thirds of whom are young, is upwards of 85.

1877: Buckingham Advertiser, 2 June
The members of the School Club [i.e. Provident Club] held their annual feast on Friday, May 25th ... members paraded the town before sitting down to dinner, which was provided in the National School.  Chairman: Dr Newham (connected with the club for over 20 years).  Balance in the bank: £348 17s 10d.  The vicar had resigned as President.  New President T.P. Willis.

1878: Buckingham Advertiser, 8 June
  ANNIVERSARY.- The annual meeting and dinner of the Winslow Provident Society, was held on Friday, May 31st., at the Boys School Room.  After parading the town with their band, the members sat down to a substantial repast.  In the afternoon they again paraded the town, visiting the houses of most of the principal inhabitants of the place, and finally adjourned to the School Room for supper.  The annual balance sheet shows that the society (although not quite so numerous as last year), is in a very prosperous state, having from May 1877, to May 1878, paid to sick members £62 6s. 8d.; to surgeon £19 15s.; for funerals £15 10s., and still having an available balance of £345.

1879: Oxfordshire Telegraph, 28 May
WINSLOW HAND IN HAND BENEFIT SOCIETY members held their first annual festival on May 16.  Although it has not been started twelve months it appears the number of members has already reached the promising number of 52, and being founded on the basis of two clubs in the neighbourhood now dissolved, there is every prospect of consolidated success in future years.  The “Nag’s Head” being the club room, a suggestive flag hung from the window, and the portals were adorned by oak boughs.  The members, with the Padbury Brass Band, engaged for the occasion, made a procession round the town, having the colors of the society in the form of a rosette attached to their coats, making quite an enlivening appearance.  At one o’clock a substantial dinner was partaken of at Host White’s, president of the society.  About 70 members and friends sat down to the excellent repast provided.  After dinner a statement of accounts was made by Mr. A. J. Clear, the secretary, which showed that for the past eleven months the society had contributed £52 7s. 3d. out of which they had paid for medical service £91 7s. 6d. and miscellaneous expenses £6 10s. 6d. leaving a balance in hand of £35 19s. 3d.  The healths were then drank of Dr. Collins and Mrs. Collins, and a vote of hearty thanks accorded to the doctor, to Mr. White, the president, to Mr. Clear, secretary, and Mr. J. Varney, treasurer, which were all suitably acknowledged.  After business was over, songs were given by several of the members, and after a jovial afternoon had been spent, the band again headed the members, who proceeded to Shipton and were hospitably received by Mr. C. Colgrove, Mr. Rands, and Mr. Denchfield, at their farms.  On returning to the town they played at the homes of several well-to-do householders, who lavishly acknowledged their attentions.  Returning to the club-room a supper was spread, after which repast the members separated in a becoming manner.

1879: Buckingham Advertiser, 7 June
The Annual Meeting and dinner of the Winslow Provident Society took place at the Boy’s School-room on Friday May 30th.  Towards eleven o’clock the Waddesdon Brass Band arrived on the scene, and in company with the members proceeded round the town, discoursing some excellent music on their way.  About one o’clock an adjournment was made to the School-room where 73 sat down to a substantial dinner provided for the occasion by the Secretary Mr. G. Baily.  The chair was taken by Dr.  Newham who was supported by T. P. Willis, Esq., (president of the Society) and Mr. H. Monk.  After dinner the account of the receipts and expenditure for the year was read by the Chairman, this very satisfactory document showed that the Society had been exceedingly useful during the year, having relieved 16 members at a cost of £37 6s 8d paid for medical aid £20 7s 0d for Funeral £5 and that it still remained in a prosperous state, having assets to the amount of £358 8s 7d and numbering 87 members, being an increase of 3 over the past.  After this, votes of thanks were awarded to the various officers for their respective services.  At intervals, pieces of music were played by the band and one of the bandsmen kindly volunteered several songs which were very warmly received.  During the afternoon and evening the band and members again visited the streets, serenading the principal inhabitants, and finally winding up the day with a supper in the School-room.  There were the usual number of round-abouts shooting-stalls &c., which however received rather scanty patronage.

1879: Bicester Herald, 4 July
  THE WINSLOW MEMBERS of the “Pride of the Crown” Benefit Society [i.e. Foresters] held their annual dinner at the George Inn, Winslow, on Thursday, June 26.  Host Barnes served a capital repast at which Dr. Newham presided with his characteristic ability, and made an excellent and timely speech.  During the former part of the evening three musicians from Oxford specially invited for the occasion, enlivened the company with their excellent performances.  The worthy doctor having vacated the chair, later on in the evening it was ably filled by Mr. T. Sare, when local talent delivered itself in songs, toasts, speeches, &c., and the evening passed in an enjoyable manner.

1880: Buckingham Advertiser, 29 May
  THE WINSLOW HAND IN HAND BENEFIT SOCIETY held its annual festival at the Nag’s Head Inn, on Friday, May 21st.  The Padbury Old Band was engaged for the day, and was met at the entrance of the town by a party of the members with the Society’s new silk flag, after paying several visits to the gentry and farmers, the members and friends, numbering about 60, sat down in the long market room, which was profusely decorated with boughs of oak, to a thoroughly substantial dinner, to which every one soon did ample justice, after the clearing of the cloth, the secretary read the financial statement, which on account of the Society having recently been registered as a Friendly Society had received by Members Contributions £23 3s. 5d., ditto for medical fund, £8 13s. 5d., Fines, £1 13s. 1d., Interest, 16s. 8d., and had paid to Doctor £12 9s. 7d., to sick members, £1 8d., and incidental expenses, £2 4s. 8d.; the assets being cash in hand £15 11s. 8d., ditto in bank, £41; a list of donations to the amount of £3 10s. was also read, and a letter from Dr. Collins who was unavoidably absent, but promised to be with them in the evening.  The healths of Mr. John Varney, one of the trustees, of Mr. Edwins, the president, the treasurer, Mr. White, and of the secretary, were proposed, and drunk with musical honors.  After the Band had played a selection of music, they again in company with the members paraded the town and visited the establishments of the gentry and tradespeople, until the evening when they met in the Club room to supper, the president, Mr. Edwins, taking the Chair, and being supported by Dr. Collins, Mr. Thomas White, Mr. John Varney, Mr. George Verney, Mr. F. Wilmore, &c, after supper hearty cheers were given for the host as hostess, Mr. and Mrs. White, for the admirable way in which they had catered during the day, the band played the National Anthem and the day’s festivities terminated.

1880: Buckingham Advertiser, 5 June
  THE WINSLOW PROVIDENT SOCIETY.- This firmly established Benefit Society held its yearly festival on Friday last, a red-letter day with its members who seem to make a point of attending, from whatever part of England they may happen to be located in.  The Waddesdon Brass Band was met at the entrance of the town by a body of the members, carrying the flag and several carrying gilt topped staves.  The Boys’ Schoolroom was kindly lent for the occasion, and the entrance was adorned on each side with large boughs of green oak; after parading the town once or twice, the members and band, numbering nearly 70 sat down in this Room and partook of a substantial dinner, provided by the secretary, Mr. Bailey.  The chair was taken by Dr. Newham, Medical Officer of the society, who was supported by T. P. Willis Esq.  After the good things had been dispatched, the chairman read the year’s Balance Sheet with which we should think every member felt gratified, the Society had received contributions from members £67 14s. 3d., fines £3 12s. 0d., entrance fees, 6s., honorary subscriptions £1 and interest £10 5s. 9d., and had paid £32 12s.0d., to 12 sick members, to the Surgeon £21 4s. 0d., and incidental expenses £5 7s. 6d., the assets being at Bank £353 17s. 4d., in Society’s hands £28 5s. 9d. - The usual patriotic toasts were given, and the healths of the president and the other officers of the club, were also proposed and enthusiastically drank.  In the evening the Members again assembled at the Schoolroom and finished the day with a supper.

1880: Bicester Herald, 11 June,
  CASH FOR DISTRIBUTION AT WINSLOW.  We understand that, at a meeting of the Foresters’ Lodge, “Court Pride of the Crown,” on Tuesday, June 1, at the George Hotel, Winslow, it was decided to dissolve the lodge and divide the assets (about £1,000) amongst the members.


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Copyright 13 January, 2021