Archive for the ‘Families’ Category

Forresters Hall – An Early Benefits System

December 2nd, 2010 Comments off

In the summer of 2010 a Moonrakers walk prompted questions regarding the origins and use of the Foresters Hall on Colne Road, at the top of the village, in the area known as Cock Hall. It is a fine, large three storied building. The Hall itself was on the top floor.

Dr Roger Logan of The Foresters Heritage Trust, a charitable organisation who store archives of the trust and answer queries, such as ours was very useful and supplied the information here.

The hall was built around 1869/70. However by then the Foresters had been active in Cowling for over 30 years, meeting regularly in different  public houses over that period. Thus the Foresters were active in the village when New Roadside (as the early modern village was known) was in its infancy and most textile workers were either domestic or working in small mills or workshops.

The Western end of the Foresters Hall

The Western end of the Foresters Hall

Trevor Hodgson & David Gulliver in The History of Cononley, where similar friendy societies were forming, suggest it may have been that working people were feeling increasingly insecure. Poverty had been on the increase after the Napoleonic Wars and the wealthy had been more reluctant to help. The 1834 Poor Law Ammemdment Act  had brought in the fear of the workhouse for the needy. Agitation among working classes manifested itself in the Chartist movement and so Hodgson & Gulliver say it is not surprising to see working men banding together to protect themselves against misfortune.

One public house used for meetings  was the long gone Masons’ Arms, Middleton. The Foresters record of this confirmed the existence of this 19th century pub for Moonrakers. Dr Logan thought that the move to build their own Hall by the Court “Compassion” No 104 of the Ancient Order of Foresters might have been prompted by Temperance movement of the time. Possibly it was no longer good for business to be linked to a public house for meetings.

A court was a branch. The earlier courts, such as Cowling’s were in The Royal Order of Foresters. The original founders would have given the court its name and number. The names tended to be virtues or have moral attributes, so Court Compassion fits into this pattern.

Dr Logan stated “The registered purposes of a Foresters Court were, as laid down by contemporary legislation. However as a general rule we might say that members combined for establishing locally a common financial fund, into which they all paid, and were, in consequence, eligible for sickness and death benefits.”

He goes on to say, “As the century progressed some courts extended their activities, as authorised by law, such as making mortgages avialable to members. There were also added benefits such as the  travelling  system by means of which members could receive financial support whilst searching for work away from home.

Dr Logan was surprised at the size of Cowling’s Foresters Hall. Funds could not be used to pay for the building, which was paid for by subscription. He suggested that the lower part of the building might always have been used, as now, for residential purposes.

The members would have met in the hall weekly, to pay their contributions and hear the sick list. They therefore knew who was gaining benefits that week!

The hall would also used for social purposes by the Foresters and others.

The Cowling Court Compassion No 104, seceded or left the Ancient Order of Foresters as early as 1899. However Dr Logan suggested that the Cowling Foresters may have continued independently long after the secetion from the order.

This shows that Cowling folk, were from quite early in the 19th century, grouping together to provide benefits in times of difficulty.’ Cowinheeaders’ have long had a reputation for being careful with money. Here we have 19th century proof!

We thank Dr Roger Logan of The Foresters Heritage Trust for his hard work in answering our queries and enclose his information and statistics below.

Court “Compassion”, No. 104 of the Ancient Order of Foresters (AOF)

Established 1834 at the Black Bull, Cowling

From the outset it functioned as a Court-out-of District, thus bearing the full liabilities of the Sick and Funeral fund.

Named founders : James Nelson, James Thompson, John Emmott.

Landlord at Black Bull in 1834 – Christopher Snowden

The Court originated as a Court of the Royal Foresters. In this it had the same name, but with the number 163. It had probably been founded in 1831 (see note below).

Year     Meeting place                                    Secretary        Treasurer        Members

1840       Black Bull Inn, Ickornshaw               nk                     nk                           68

1845       Black Bull, Freegate, Ickornshaw    nk                     nk                           81

1846       Masons Arms, Middleton, Cowling nk                   nk                           79

1847       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           84

1848       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           90

1849       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           112

1850       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           115

1851       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           116

1852       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           129

1853       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           nk

1854       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           139

1855       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           139

1856       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           136

1857       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           156

1858       Black Bull Inn, Cowling                       nk                     mk                          170

1859       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           171

1860       Black Bull Inn, Icornshaw, Cowling nk                    nk                           174

1861       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           201

1862       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           207

1863       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           208

1864       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           208

1865       ditto                                                            nk                     nk                           204

1866       ditto                                                      James Dawson  nk                           204

1867       ditto                                                      James Dawson  nk                           221

1868       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           224

1869       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           227

1870       Foresters Hall, Cowling                  ditto                      nk                           238

1871       Foresters’ Hall, Roadside, Cowling   J Dawson      nk                           240

1872       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           241

1873       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           243

1874       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           246

1875       ditto                                                      ditto                      nk                           245

1876       ditto                                                      ditto                      C Snowden         240

1877       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      232

1878       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      230

1879       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      224

1880       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      221

1881       Foresters’ Hall, Cowling                 ditto                      ditto                      214

1882       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      215

1883       Foresters’ Hall, New Rd.Side, Cowling   ditto        ditto                      209

1884       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      205

1885       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      205

1886       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      204

1887       ditto                                                      ditto                      S Shuttleworth  204

1888       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      202

1889       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      198

1890       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      189

1891       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      183

1892       ditto                                                      ditto                     ditto                      181

1893       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      176

1894       ditto                                                      S ShuttlewortthS Hartley              170

1895       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      166

1896       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      tba

1897       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      158

1898       ditto                                                      ditto                      ditto                      151

1899       ditto                                                      seceded from the Order

At the date of secession it had 151 members, and £1,962 in funds

The Foresters Hall is the large building in the middle distance.

The Foresters Hall is the large building in the middle distance.

Cowling Foresters

Court “Compassion”, No. 163 of the Royal Order of Foresters was established in Cowling in 1831.  The date of 13th August 1831, shown on the inscribed tablet on the external wall of the building, is consistent with the little information that we have of formation dates for this period.  [ Note – I cannot now find the image of the stone tablet, which I viewed some years back, on the current cowlingweb site]

Following the decision taken by Royal Order delegates  to the Great Convention of Foresters , held at Rochdale on 4, 5, 6 August 1834, to re-form as the Ancient Order of Foresters, members of Court “Compassion” decided to join the new organisation. As a consequence on 6th October 1834, a new Dispensation (document authorising the Court’s existence) was issued to James Nelson, James Thompson, and John Emmott, meeting at the Black Bull, landlord Christopher Snowden, with the Court now being No. 104 of the AOF. (AOF, Court Dispensation Book)

Details of the known meeting places, Secretaries, and Treasurers, are shown on the accompanying schedule. (AOF, Foresters’ Directory, various)

The Court registered under the 1850, etc., Friendly Society Acts, and the date of 22nd February 1851 refers to this. The number 161A was, presumably, that given by the Registrar.  In 1875 a new Friendly  Society  Act became Law, and Courts were required to register as branches of the Order, to enable them to be eligible to benefit from the provisions of the new Act.  Court “Compassion” did not register until 1888, however when it did, it was assigned the registered no. C211. (AOF, Foresters’ Directory, 1889)

As to the reference to the Compassion Benefit Society, my view is that this is the name taken after the members seceded from the AOF in 1899, however this is just a best guess based on facts currently known.

One interesting point emerges from this. Philip Snowden, the local man who became Chancellor of the Exchequer, is reported in the biographies I have read as being a son of a temperance advocate, John Snowden, and himself a member of a temperance society. This is interesting to note in the context of the initial involvement with the AOF locally of the landlord of the Black Bull, Christopher Snowden in 1834, and the subsequent identified connection of C Snowden (the same as Christopher?) as Treasurer.

I wonder if the construction of the Foresters Hall was an attempt to provide a meeting place for members away from public houses, and thereby induce membership faced with competition from a temperance society that may also have offered friendly society benefits?  Funding for the construction of the Hall should have been from voluntary subscriptions made by members and other well wishers. It would have been illegal to use any of the benefit funds maintained by the Court for such a purpose. 

Sanctuary “Compassion”, No. 104 of the Ancient Order of Shepherds

Associated with the Ancient Order of Foresters was the Ancient Order of Shepherds. This was described as the second degree of Forestry. Effectively it was a means by which existing Foresters could, by paying additional contributions, receive additional benefits. To belong to a Shepherds Sanctuary (branch) it was necessary to be a Forester, up to the late 1880’s. The existence of a Sanctuary associated with a Court can be interpreted as an indication of the relative wealth of members, since clearly they would need to have sufficient earnings to pay for the two lots of contributions.

Sanctuary “Compassion”, No. 104, was established in 1839. Early details remain to be ascertained, however it clearly maintained a presence, being shown in the Shepherds Sanctuary Directory for 1879 as having 39 members. The Scribe (Secretary) was then J. Smith and meetings were held at the Foresters Hall.  During the 1880’s moves were made to separate the Ancient Shepherds from the Ancient Order of Foresters, and it became an Order in its own right prior to 1890. The entry for Sanctuary “Compassion” shows that it had 36 members in 1886 with J Smith still Scribe.

It should be noted that the Ancient Order of Shepherds connected with the Ancient Order of Foresters was entirely distinct from the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds (Ashton Unity) established in 1826, and its splinter organisation, the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds (Wisbech Unity). These were both entirely separate friendly society Orders.

Roger Logan

6th July 2010