Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Friendly Societies

Friendly Societies, a form of mutual provident association which grew up in the latter part of the 17th century. They were recognised by the legislature in 1793, and by the Act of 1829 central was substituted for local registration - separate registrars being appointed for England, Scotland, and Ireland. During the present reign they have been organised on a sound financial basis, and the "Ratcliffe Tables," the final outcome of much study, were accepted by the Royal Commission of 1871-74. By the legislation of 1875-76 one chief registrar was appointed, and it was enacted that audits should be held annually and a valuation of assets and liabilities at intervals of five years. Affiliation became legal in 1850, and since 1874 no obstacle has been placed in the way of the registration of branches. The affiliated societies, of which the Oddfellows and the Foresters are the most important, now include many members in the Colonies as well as Great Britain. Each lodge, court, senate, or tent has its own sick-fund, and enjoys almost unlimited freedom in the management of its own affairs. They are, however, grouped together in districts under the general control of a central body composed of elected delegates. The collecting societies, so called because they collect subscriptions by calling every week or fortnight at each house, occupy the first place numerically, containing over three million members, chiefly belonging to the poorest class. Their benefits are confined to insurance at death, and expenses of management absorb a large part of the funds. There are several other kinds of friendly societies, including the old local societies, which are gradually diminishing in number with the advance of those of a superior type. To this class belong the clubs which periodically divide their funds among the members.