Benevolent Societies

Feltham writing in 1797/8 states that benevolent societies had been established in Douglas and Ramsey

I am happy to observe that at Douglas and at Ramsey, there are clubs for mutual benefit. The former, which was established in 1790, had, in 1798, a clear capital of more than 220l. The females have no society of this kind.

Curphey gives the following list of Isle of Man Friendly Societies (the initial column is Curphey's index number) - some of dates can be placed earlier by various deeds (Bond + Security or Mortgages) given as by ..





 wound up

1. Isle of Man Friendly Society [aka Douglas Friendly Society] 1790  premises from c1800 to 1844 were in Club Room in Society Lane (the lane deriving its name from the FS) [see CTD Tri 1802 12 for purchase from Edward Moore]
29. Ramsey Philanthropic Society 1795  c.1855
  Methodist Friendly Society 1798 financial irregularities c.1814
41. Old Friendly Society of Castletown Pre 1809  by 1835
5. Marown Friendly Society 1809  
*6. Onchan Friendly Society 1810  ? c.1882
*13. Kirk Michael Friendly Society 1810  
*27. Rushen Friendly Society 1811  
37. Douglas Artificers’ Friendly Society 1811  
*24. Kirk Andreas Benefit Society 1812 instigator Thomas Allen  
14. Peel Town Friendly Society by 1807 [see SSM Oct 1807 1]  
11. Castletown Artificers’ Friendly Society 1813  1913
*17. Santon Concordant Society 1814  
*35 Maughold Friendly Society 1814  
23. St. John’s Friendly Society 1815  
10. Isle of Man Sisterly Society 1816   
*22. Ramsey Amicable Society 1818  1889
7. Strangford Union Society 1822  
9. Castletown Philanthropic Society 1824  c.1860
4. Ballaugh Friendly Society 1826  
*30. Laxey Patriotic Society 1826  
12. Ballasalla Friendly Society 1828  
*3. Arbory Friendly Society by Jan 1817;  
*28. Colby Benevolent Society Pre 1830  
*34 Malew Friendly Society 1830  
21. Lezayre Friendly Society 1833  
*25. Peel Artificers’ Friendly Society 1833  
*26. Bride Friendly Society 1833  
2. Douglas Philanthropic Society by 1814 [see SSM Oct 1814 10]  
8. Abbeyland Friendly Society Pre 1834  
39. Labourers’ Friendly Society Pre 1835  
15. Braddan Amicable Society by 1813 [see SSM May 1814 45]  
*16. Kirk Patrick Benefit Society Pre 1838  
18. Lark Hill Friendly Society Pre 1838  
*19. Baldwin Friendly Society by 1835 [see SSM May 1835 65]  
*20. Jurby Friendly Society Pre 1839  
31. Rushen Female Society c. 1843  
32. Foxdale Benefit Society 1850  
*33 Renshent Union Society 1850  
- St Mark's Union Society
(not in Curphey)
36. Lonan Parish Club ? pre 1802 Thomas Kinley died 1802 was said to be 1st of Friendly soc of Laxey  
38. Primitive Methodist Benevolent Society ?  
*40. Laxey Miners’ Sick Club ?  
- Rushen Parish Club ? Henry Kelly founder member 1913

*Provident Societies and Clubs as returned to the Medical Aid and Poor Relief Commission 1879 - i.e. were still functioning in 1879 - see list in Browns 1881 Directory for membership, benefits etc. at this time.

These societies offered some protection against sickness (and would pay some money to any widow) but not against unemployment. Often some entry fee plus around 1s a week would be required as dues.

A major problem of the early societies was their lack of understanding of sound actuarial practice - when a society was formed, generally by young men of similar ages, a flat weekly rate independent of age, seemed to provide capital growth (so much so that some societies would fund an annual dinner). But as members aged their demands on the fund increased - prospective young members saw that it would be in their better interest to found a new society thus avoiding the need to support 'drones' (as so called by one such Ramsey breakaway group). National Friendly Societies, such as the Oddfellows and Rechabites, had been forced to put their finances on a sound actuarial basis in the mid 1850s and after some loss of membership prospered from then on.

Very few financial accounts or lists of members survive for these early clubs - numbers sitting down to some aniversary meal are sometimes reported in the press as are their appearance at some annual walk. An indication of the money laid out in longer term loans can be derived from the deeds known noted as Bond & Security to be found in the North and South Sale Mortgages and the Castletown Deeds - such deeds generally give the principal officers (President + two Stewards) of the societies both at grant and also at repayment of the loan. These documents are currently being researched to provide a list of such officers and amounts out on loan.

Sisterly Society

Founded 1 May 1816 - from a report in 1848 they had then 111 members (including 6 honorary members), they had a cash surplus of £300 after paying £57 16s 1d in sick benefit and £31 in funeral benefits during the year May 1847- May 1848. 'As many respectable females may be desirous of becoming members' they were to apply to Miss Mary Ann Hodgson, 2 Mona Terrace, Douglas.

Press Mentions

Train briefly reports on three in 1838



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