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  Tickhill's Friendly Society


Before twentieth century reforms introduced benefits such as sick pay and free health care, families whose main breadwinners suffered illness or injury could face considerable hardships, even starvation. In the absence of any national provision, local communities developed self-help schemes to give financial support in the event of ill health. These schemes were known variously as sick clubs, mutual societies or friendly societies. For example, the first club of this type for men in Doncaster, called the Mutual Society, was established in 1738 according to Miller’s History of Doncaster. By the beginning of the nineteenth century Doncaster had ten such clubs for men and three for women. The men paid six shillings on joining, then one shilling a month afterwards. If ill health prevented any man from working he received eight shillings a week. If he died before being in the Society for five years, his heirs would receive £5. If death occurred after five years’ membership, £10 was paid to his heirs. Members who lived beyond the age of seventy received the benefits without having to make any more regular contributions. Women’s payments to the Doncaster sick clubs were much less: one shilling on joining the scheme and then six pence each month. In return a woman unable to work due to ill health received four shillings a week and her heirs received £5 10s for her funeral. Two pounds out of the funeral allocation could be allowed if a woman’s husband predeceased her.

Tickhill’s Friendly Society was founded in 1751. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, members’ joining fees were five shillings (payable half on joining and half within six months), then one shilling per month, one shilling at a funeral, three payments of sixpence in March, July and November for a surgeon and one payment of sixpence annually for an accident fund. Only after being a member for two years would any help be given and this amounted to seven shillings a week for the first six months and then half that amount for a further six months. Various other payments could be made if, for instance, the member was not so ill as to be confined to the house. As with the Doncaster schemes, payment would be given to members’ heirs if death occurred, ranging from £4 to £8 according to the length of time in the Society. The Society’s rules showed that it was well-regulated with four main officers, a steward, secretary, book-keeper and cashier, both the book-keeper and cashier making separate records of all payments. Fines could be levied for a variety of misdemeanours.    

Sue and Joe Green have kindly let TDLHS copy a leaflet about Tickhill’s Friendly Society. Its front page and examples of the Society’s rules are reproduced below. The leaflet originally belonged to William Wardingley, an unmarried joiner from Church Lane, who, in his forties, became a member of the Society in 1896.


The Stewards shall be chosen from the Secretary's list in regular rotation; only one shall stand the office at a time, and continue in office three months or forfeit sixpence, members out of town excepted. The other officers shall continue until others are appointed in their room by the society. Any Steward or officer not attending a meeting, or neglecting to send his key [to the cash box], shall forfeit sixpence. 

The strictest order and silence shall be kept during club hours. Any member swearing, betting wagers, or in any way disturbing or annoying the meeting, shall for each offence forfeit two pence. 

The annual feast shall be held on Whit Monday, when each member shall have one pint of ale before eleven o’clock in the forenoon; any member not attending church shall forfeit one shilling, unless special business calls him from home.       

No member shall have any benefit from this   society who, by fighting, wrestling, drinking, or any other unlawful means, renders himself incapable of work.                    

   Every member shall give notice in writing, signed by the Surgeon, to one of the officers, when he wants pay. Those out of town to be signed by the churchwardens, and the same when they declare off; or to pay five shillings fine, or be expelled.

The money belonging to this society shall never be divided, shared or allotted amongst its members; nor any part or parcel thereof; but shall only be used for the several purposes as specified in these orders. Nor shall any money be lent unto any member or members under any pretence whatsoever; but when the stock wants decreasing, the amount shall be placed out upon mortgage or government security.

If any member upbraids another with having received relief from the society, or in any way scandalizes the club, he shall pay the sum of five shillings, or be expelled. Any member detected in wilfully defrauding the society, shall be excluded.









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