Manchester Friendly Societies - Orange Order

Before the introduction of the welfare state, working class people joined what were known as ‘friendly societies’ to provide financial assistance in times of sickness, unemployment and death.  English Orange Lodges also acted as friendly societies, with lodge members paying in contributions and receiving benefits in times of hardship. The following article gives a brief insight into the lives of working class Manchester's Protestant community during the 19th Century. Names of Orangemen have been listed on bold to aid family historians.


LOL 8 met in the Church Tavern, Newton Heath, Manchester and was ‘opened on the third day of March 1817 for the benefit of the Orange Institution’ with twenty-four members.  The following year the membership of the lodge had risen to forty-four with George Yates as Master, Thomas Yates as Deputy Master, John Fildes as treasurer and Thomas Allowson as secretary.  In November 1824 the lodge paid out to Thomas Bates for five weeks sick (£2 17s 6d), John Marsden for one week sick (10s), David Horrox for one week sick (10s 6d), William Robinson for his wife’s funeral (£2) and John Marsden for his child’s funeral (£1).

Originally it appears that each individual lodge operated its own independent scheme, however, districts comprising of a number of lodges, began to operate funeral societies, as these reports from ‘The Orange and Protestant Banner’ from the mid 1850s show: 
‘The annual meeting of the Ashton-under-Lyne and Stockport districts Funeral Society, in connection with the Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen, was held on the 5th May, at No 319 lodge room, Ashton Hotel, Market-place – Bro Isaac Callinson, No 1049 lodge and DM for the Stockport district, in the chair; and Bro John Jackson, No 14 lodge in the vice-chair.  Delegates from the following lodges were present – Bros. Wm. Lomas, No 4 StockportJerry Harrop, No 9 MottramJohn Jackson, No 14, AshtonJoseph Braddock, No 21 High-laneEdward Clegg, No 172, Newton-moorHenry Fielding, No 176, Staley-bridge – Wm. Hastle, No 228, Hurst-brookJames Hambleton, No 288, AshtonCharles Revill, No 319, AshtonThomas Callinson, No 104, GortonRobert Newton, No 1220, AshtonJ Smith No 1223, Staley-bridgeThomas Leigh No 288, Ashton, sec. & W. Lindsay. The accounts were read by the secretary for the year, and approved by the delegates, which showed that the income for the last half-year was £158 2s. 0d. and the expenditure £41 12s. 2d. leaving a balance in the hands of the trustees of £116 9s. 10d.; of the £41 12s. 2d. £40 were for the internment of deceased brothers and wives.  The elections officers were as follows – Cheque signers for the money in the bank, Bro's. Charles Revity, Thomas W Heap and John Newton; Thomas Leigh remains secretary for the next twelve months.  The business was then brought to a close, after which an excellent dinner was served up, and about 56 sat down to the same.  The cloth being removed the following toasts were given from the chair –The Queen, with the National Anthem, all the company standing – The Earl of Enniskillen, G.M., with a song Its a Way we have in our Order – The G. P. And Immortal Memory of William the 3rd, - Song, by Bro Leigh, And Crowned King William –Toast, Colonel Verner – Recitation, Battle of the Diamond, by J Mottaram. – The chairman then called on Bro T Leigh to give us a little of his travels, as he was an old veteran, and had seen a great deal of popery abroad.  Brother Leigh responded at some length on what he had seen in Corfu, Malta, Naples, Rome, Gibralter and the West Indies.  Bro Leigh concluded by giving the health of Brother Auty, and success to the Banner, and pressed on all Orangemen to become subscribers to it, which was received by nine-times-nine and Kentish fire.  There was a general feeling expressed for Bro Auty’s presence. – Song, by Bro W Fielding, The Scarlet Ringar – Toast, The Army and Navy, with three-times-three – Toast, Dr Gregg, one of the great Protestant champions of Ireland, with Kentish fire.  Other toasts and songs followed, which gave great satisfaction, and the brethren separated highly delighted with the evening’s proceedings’.

‘The half-yearly meeting of Ashton and Stockport districts funeral society, connected with the Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen, was held in Openshaw, at Bro Howarth’s, Railway Station Hotel, Gorton station, at No 1049 lodge room, on Saturday, the 3rd November.  The business was duly opened with prayer, and Bro Isaac Callinson, D.M., occupied the chair, and Bro W. Lomas in the vice-chair.  There were delegates from the following lodges present – Nos 4,9,14, 21, 172, 176, 228, 288, 319, 1049, 1220 and the whole of the members of No 1049 lodge, with many visitors.  The accounts for the last half-year were read, which gave general satisfaction.  The income was £147 9s 4d and the expenditure £39 6s 11d.  After a few motions had passed the business was brought to a close, and the table was set out by the host, and 40 members sat down to a substantial dinner.  After the cloth was drawn, the following toasts were given by the chairman – The Queen – Prince Albert, and the rest of the Royal Family – The Glorious, Pious and Immortal Memory of William the 3rd – Song, by Brother T Leigh, ‘Crowned King William’ – Our Grand Master, the Earl of Enniskillen, with all honours and Kentish fire – The Army and Navy – Bro Lyne said as he was called upon for the next toast, that as the 5th of November was on Monday, and he would not have an opportunity of seeing them on that day, he would give ‘The glorious Reformation in church and state, and the discovery of the plot of the papists to destroy the protestant government by gunpowder, and the landing of that good and great King, on the 5th of November, 1688, at Torbay’, which was received with honours – The Orange and Protestant Banner, and the health of Bro Auty, which was received with three-times-three and one cheer for his wife, - Song, ‘It’s a way we have got in the Army’ followed by a recitation, by Bro T Callison, ‘What is an Orangeman’.  The night was brought to a close at an early hour in consequence of some of the delegation having to leave by the 10 o’clock train.  Toast and sentiment were then given by all separately, and at the conclusion sang – ‘May we all meet together in the Grand Lodge above’.  The next meeting will be held at No 288 lodge room, Punch Bowl Inn, Park Parade, on the 1st Saturday in May, 1856, at 5 o’clock, p.m.’  

The Orangemen of Manchester formed the ‘Manchester Loyal Orangemen’s sick and funeral society’ in the 1890s; and in 1906 questions were asked in the House of Commons about the Loyal Cranmer Orange Friendly Society of Blackburn, which had expelled members who had voted for what was seen as the wrong candidate in an election.  In Preston there was the ‘Grand Protestant Institution and Association of Loyal Orange Juvenile and Burial Friendly Society, Preston District’.
The situation in the North West of England was mirrored by that in Scotland.  In 1834 some Glasgow Orangemen had formed the ‘Orange Union Funeral Society’ whose membership was limited to Orangemen aged between 18 and 50.  They paid 2/6 to join the society followed by regular contributions.  Death benefits were £3 for a member and his wife, £1 10/ for a child if under 5 and 10/ if stillborn.  Orange Friendly Societies were formed all over Scotland, in April 1844 the members of King William LOL 102 from Paisley agreed to establish a friendly society with members paying one shilling per month.  Some lodges, such as Drumgelloch Bible and Crown LOL 75, purchased burial plots in their local cemetery to be used for the deceased members of the lodge.
The ‘Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland Friendly Society’ was opend on 9 December 1899 and branches were soon operating in Glasgow, Paisley, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Belshill and Blantyre.  By 1913 there were 12,000 members and 41 branches.  In December 1911 the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland set up the ‘Orange and Protestant Friendly Society’ which attracted members from throughout the United Kingdom.  On 11 December 1912 the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was informed that the society had 70,000 members in Ireland, 10,000 in Scotland and 5,000 in England.  The creation of the welfare state and the setting up of the National Health Service in the 1940s removed the need for friendly societies and they were wound up.








Manchester Orange

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