The Chequers August 2009
Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a document on the establishment of a Friendly Society in Westoning in 1826 [HA33], which reads as follows:
Articles of Agreement made, concluded and agreed upon by the Amicable and Brotherly Society to be held at the House of William Woodward at the Sign of the Chequers in Westoning in the County of Bedford. Begun in the Year 1826
Imprimis: That there shall be a meeting of the Members of this Society at the house aforesaid the last Monday in every month between the hours of six and eight in the evening from Michaelmas to Lady day and from Lady day to Michaelmas between the hours of seven and nine and that there be a strong Box provided and kept in good repair with three strong Locks and Keys at the charge of the stock the two Stewards are each and the Clerk one and that the steward shall continue two months in office and at the end of two months the steward shall give up their accounts to the next Steward which if they refuse to forfeit one shilling each to the Box and at each monthly meeting each members shall spend fourpence and put one shilling and two pence into the Box.
2nd: And if the Stewards and Clerk be not there nor send their Keys before one hour after meeting hours begin for such offence to forfeit sixpence each to the Box.
3rd. That each member that enters into this Society shall pay Two Shillings and six pence to the Box and to spend sixpence and that no member be admitted but in perfect Health and with the consent of the Stewards and the majority of the members present which shall be obtained by voting and not otherwise and that no person shall be admitted under the age of sixteen years nor above the age of forty one years except he has been a member before then he shall be permitted to re-enter as a new member and if it shall hereafter appear that any Member at his first entrance was above Forty one years of age such member to forfeit his entrance money to the Box and to be expelled this society.
4th. That if any member comes into the club room and does not go to the Steward and pay his just dues shall forfeit three pence to the Box and if any person member absent himself three months and not pay or cause to be paid to the society all his Arrears and just Dues he shall forfeit sixpence to the Box and if any members absent himself six months he shall be excluded this Society.
5th. That no member of this society shall receive any Benefit from the Box till he has been duly registered in the Book the full term of two years.
6th. That if any member having been duly registered as aforesaid and having paid all his just Dues to the Box shall by sickness, lameness or otherwise be disabled from working (provided such inability did not proceed from Fighting and he the aggressor, Gaming or Venereal Disease) he shall give notice to the stewards for satisfaction to the society by leaving or sending a Note to the Club House directed to the Stewards and one of the Stewards for the time being shall be obliged once a week to call at the club house to see if any note be left and to visit the member or members that so give notice to the society the next club night of the same or for every such offence to forfeit to the Box one shilling and if it appears to the Society that the said member is a proper claimant then he shall receive out of the stock eight shillings per week during the time of his sickness which shall be paid by the Stewards the next day after each week has expired or forfeit one shilling to the Box.
7th. That if any member or members should have the smallpox he shall receive Ten shillings a week for one month and no longer and if any member shall lie under affliction above the term of one year he shall be reduced from eight shillings per week to four shillings per week during such continuance and to prevent any Fraud that may happen by any afflicted member declaring off before the expiration of one year and declaring on again with intent to receive and be entitled to the said eight shillings weekly it is hereby agreed that if any member being or having been afflicted shall declare off within the year he shall attend this society at one of the aforesaid meetings and he shall be adjudged by the members then present to be perfectly recovered of that disease for which he has received benefit before he shall be entitled by any fresh disease to the said weekly allowance of eight shillings.
8th. That the society shall employ a surgeon or apothecary to attend on the sick or Lame living within four miles of Westoning and supply them with proper medicines such apothecary if required to send an account every society night of the state of such sick or lame member for which attendance and medicines he shall be allowed out of the Box after the rate of three shillings per annum for each member on the Roll of this Society.
9th. That every member at his entrance shall give to the Stewards an account of his abode and removals from time to time or forfeit two shillings to the Box which if within four miles of Westoning the steward shall visit him in sickness but if further from the said town he may appoint any person to receive his money for him upon producing an order from him with a Letter signed by the Minister and Churchwardens of the Parish where he resides to testify that they or some other person whom they can confide in have seen the member so visited with sickness they shall send such certificate when they first declare upon the Box and every time they receive any money from it to certify to the Stewards that they have continued sick or incapable of working.
10th. That upon the decease of any member there shall be allowed out of the stock Five pounds for his burial.
11th. That if any member reflect upon another on account of having received any benefit from the Box he shall forfeit to the Box five shillings and if any member endeavour to divide or break up this society upon full proof thereof shall be excluded this society.
12th. That for the better preserving good manners and discouragement of Vice during appointed hours of meeting if any member swear, curse or use any opprobrious Language or offer to lay wagers or come out into the Club Room disguised in Liquor shall for each offence forfeit twopence to the Box.
13th. That if any member goes into the Militia when out upon actual service and being regularly drawn he shall neither pay his money into the Box nor receive any when his sick but when he comes back to work at his Trade he shall be the same as before.
14th. That no member of this society shall call silence except the Steward on forfeiture of two pence to the Box.
15th. That if the Stewards call silence three times they who do not obey his orders shall forfeit two pence to the Box.
16th. That if any member of this society shall be put in prison for Debt the said member shall be freed from all payments and when discharged shall be received again without any charge.
17th. That when any member dies or for the feast the Clerk shall give notice to each member of the society (provided he shall be within four miles) of the time and place the day before the feast or funeral by leaving a Ticket for each member the stewards to take proper care for each member's burial and to attend at all members' Funerals or forfeit two shillings and each member to attend or forfeit two shillings to the Box (provided he did not die of the smallpox and the stewards or members had not had it) and each member to spend three pence at the nearest public house except in Westoning when the same shall be spent at the Club house and at the decease of any member each member shall pay to the Box one shilling for the better support of this Society.
18th. That for preventing the inconvenience of long debates about the matters and for the better preserving of Peace and a good understanding among the members of the society all debates shall be regulated as follows. 1st no articles already settled shall be publickly debated by any member without leave of the steward and Society any member so offending shall forfeit sixpence. 2nd All matters of debate have been first agreed upon by the members without referring to the stewards shall afterwards be related to the stewards by only one member at a time during which relation no person shall give any interruption when the stewards have given the answer the matter shall be put to the vote and determined upon by the Majority. 3rd That if the stewards shall observe during debate any undue behaviour tending to break the good order of this society the member so offending shall forfeit three pence to the Box and if any debate exceed half an hour the stewards may adjourn it to the next meeting. 4th If any member revive a debate after it is adjourned he shall forfeit one shilling.
19th. Every member who receives the benefit of the Box shall give notice to the stewards by leaving or sending a Letter to the clubhouse the day and date of the month when they declare off the Box or forfeit one shilling to the Box and if any member be found doing any business or work of his calling before he has given such notice as aforesaid upon full proof thereof shall be expelled this society and if any member impose on this society by pretending to be sick or lame upon proof the same shall be expelled this society.
20th. That if either the stewards be sick, lame or unable to do his duty or be on a journey he shall send a Letter and his Key to the club house for his Assistant to do his business who shall be obliged to act as Steward during such illness and on neglect be fined as steward in all respects and if either of the stewards or Clerk lose his Key the same shall provide a new one or forfeit one shilling and sixpence to the Box.
21st. That if either the stewards or clerk or member of this Society shall convert any of the society's money to his own use the same shall be excluded and if any member go to sea or enter his Majesty's Service he shall be excluded.
22nd. That if any of the stewards make any forfeiture the same shall forfeit double to any other member and a book shall be kept for the insertion of all Forfeits and all forfeits shall be paid directly.
23rd. That if any member offends any of these articles and refuses to pay the Fines mentioned he shall be excluded and no longer deemed worthy to be a member of this society.
24th. That no money shall be lent out of the stock otherwise than upon lawful Interest and such security as shall be approved of by the stewards and a majority of members and that the Interest shall be equally divided amongst the members of this society and that this society shall not be moved from the house aforesaid except upon a just occasion and that this society shall continue as long as five members remain.
25th. That every member shall pay sixpence for these Articles which shall be provided every Feast day or forfeit two pence to the Box and if not produced the next club night after the feast to buy another and that the feast be held annually on Monday in Whitsun week and every person who does not attend to forfeit one shilling and that the Landlord of the club house be allowed ten shillings for his trouble on the feast day out of the stock and that for the benefit of the clerk it is agreed that each member shall pay one penny on the feast day.
Whereas we who have hereunto subscribed our names have agreed, formed and united ourselves into an Amicable and Brotherly Society for the mutual good and benefit of each and considering the many uncertainties of life and fortune be means of which we may by lingering illness or otherwise be reduced and incapable of providing for ourselves We do hereby agree to the several Articles and Orders hereinbefore written by equal contribution subject to Penalties and forfeits for nonpayments and other omissions and irregularities to raise a fund in order to make provision against any misfortune that may happen to us or either of us.
- William Flemming
- William Heley
- Thomas Short
- William Astrey
- James Cawcutt
- Richard Peddar
- Thomas Bunker, his mark
- William Pedder, his mark
- Mark Herbett, his mark
- Jacob Bonner, his mark
- Job Sherwood, his mark
- William Yates, his mark
- William Sear, his mark
- James Neal, his mark
- Joseph Chance, his mark
- Peter Chance, his mark
- Joseph Bonner, his mark
- Thomas Odell, his mark
- John Short, his mark
We the undersigned his Majesty's Justices of the Peace assembled at our General Quarter Sessions at Bedford in the County of Bedford on the Sixteenth day of January 1828 have perused and do approve of the foregoing rules, orders and Regulations and we do consent to the same being Enrolled pursuant to the Statute in that case made and provided
Dated this 16th day of January 1828