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The Great Barford Amicable Society

Rules of the Amicable Society [CRT130GreatBarford3]
Rules of the Amicable Society [CRT130GreatBarford3]

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a copy of the rules and orders of the Amicable Society established in Great Barford in 1827 [CRT130GreatBarford3]. These rules are set out below.


That this Society consist of two Stewards, a Clerk, and an indefinite number of members, each having such qualifications and elected in such manner as hereinafter directed 


That the meetings of this Society be held in the SCHOOL-HOUSE, or such other place within GREAT-BARFORD, as a majority of the members think proper, and can be procured; and that the hours of meeting be from seven till nine o'clock, every fourth Monday evening between Michaelmas [29th September] and Lady-day [25th March] and from eight till ten o'clock, every forth Monday evening the rest of the year; and that the anniversary shall be held on Old Lady-day [6th April], when the members shall meet in the club-room at eleven o'clock, to examine the accounts, and ratify or disannul such rules and decisions of importance as have been made at the several quarterly meetings; after which they shall go to some public-house in Great-Barford, where a dinner shall be provided against one o'clock, the house being previously chosen by the members. 


Each member, on his admission, shall appear at the club-room and pay two shillings and sixpence. 


No person shall be admitted a member of this Society, whose trade or calling is pernicious to their health, or very laborious; - nor any, but such as are healthy, and sound in body and mind; - nor any, who shall be disaffected to our happy established constitution in church and state; - nor any, who are members of any other Box-Club, or similar Society; - nor any, who are bailiffs, bailiffs' followers, soldiers, seamen, watchmen, or who are embodied in the militia; and any member who, after his admission, shall become a person of either of the above descriptions, shall be excluded; except such as are balloted to serve in the militia, who may be re-admitted and entitled to every benefit of the Society, immediately after their discharge, if sound in body and in health, and on paying up all arrears within three months after their discharge. And any person offering himself a member of this Society, shall be desired by the Stewards to withdraw, till he is either elected a member of the Society, or rejected. 


Every member, on his admission, shall sign an article to the above effect, and shall have his name, trade, age, and place of abode, entered in the Society's book (being subject to exclusion if he deceives the Society) and as often as he removes from one place to another, he must acquaint the Clerk or Stewards with the same, within one month, or forfeit sixpence. 


Every member, after his admission, shall pay one shilling a month to the Society, an hour before the expiration of the club-hours, or be fined two-pence; and if he does not pay one shilling the second month-night, he shall be fined two-pence more; and shall pay up all arrears on the quarter-night, or be excluded: except any member residing above five miles from Great-Barford, who shall be allowed one month for payment of his money without fine; but who shall be fined tow-pence if he does not pay one shilling the second-month night; and shall pay up all arrears on the quarter-night, or be excluded. Nevertheless, if it shall afterwards appear, at the next monthly night after the quarter-night, (the member neglecting to pay being summoned by the Stewards then to appear) that such non-payment of arrears was occasioned by mistaking the club-night, or by some good and sufficient reason, which shall satisfy the majority of five members present, (who shall be chosen by ballot to continue or exclude such member) and not through contempt, or with a design to exclude himself; then, and in such case, the said member may be continued, on paying all arrears, and a fine not less than one shilling, nor more than [blank] shillings. 


Every member shall have a vote in any of the affairs of the Society, and be entitled to relief in case of sickness, lameness, or inability to earn a livelihood, after he shall have paid twelve months to the Society, and not before.


Every member shall serve the office of Steward for half a year, by rotation, according to the order of admission (and find security if required, for this responsibility), or be fined as a majority of the members present think proper, the fine not exceeding ten shillings. And the Stewards shall enter on their office the first monthly night after Michaelmas, and the first monthly night after Lady-day, having had one month's notice given them by the preceding Stewards; who shall be fined for neglecting to give such notice. 


The office of the Stewards shall be to receive and pay out, let out, and be answerable for the cash and securities of the Society; - to preserve order and decorum in the club-room, during the hours of meeting; - and to enforce the observation of these rules and orders: at the expiration of their office they shall make up their accounts, and deliver all the money and other effects of the Society unto the new Stewards; who shall, in the presence of the Clerk, and four of the oldest members then present, examine the accounts, and tell over the money and effects, and see that they have given a just account of their Stewardship. If any Steward embezzle any of the Society's money, he shall make good the deficiency and pay a fine of five shillings, or be excluded: if either of the Stewards shall not come to the club-room, at the opening of the club, he shall forfeit three-pence; and if he shall not send his key, on his non-attendance, he shall forfeit sixpence; and if he neither comes nor sends his key, at the said time appointed, he shall forfeit two shillings and sixpence, or be excluded. The Stewards in all cases shall act without favour or partiality, and not screen any one from paying their forfeits, on pain of exclusion. 


The Clerk shall be elected the monthly night next after the office becomes vacant, by a majority of the members present, who shall also appoint him his salary, and which shall be paid quarterly. 


The office of the Clerk shall be to keep the Society's accounts, in a clean and plain manner; - to draw out the securities; - and every quarter-night, to draw out and lay on the table, for the inspection of the members, a fair copy of all that hath been received ad disbursed by the Society, during the preceding quarter: on neglect of doing his duty, - or non-attendance, if he does not find a proper substitute, at the hour appointed for the meeting, he shall pay a fine of one shilling. 


The cash, accounts, securities, and other writings, books, and articles of this Society, shall be kept in in [sic] a BOX provided with three locks and keys at the expence [sic] of the Society: - one key shall be kept by each Steward, and one by the Clerk, and the box shall be kept where a majority of the members think proper. 


When a member has paid twelve calendar months to the Society, he shall be said to be free of the box; when he petitions for relief, to declare on the box; and when he receives a weekly allowance, to be upon the box. 


If any member, after he shall have paid twelve calendar months to the box, shall be incapable of following his trade or employment, through sickness or lameness, he shall be allowed eight shillings a week out of the box, so long as he is incapacitated, provided it is not above nine months, and that he continues to pay to the box as usual. - If any member continues sick and on the box for nine months together, and there is no hopes of his recovery, he shall be allowed only four shillings a week during his infirmity, if the stock cannot be thought sufficient to continue him any longer on full pay; but he shall be allowed to do such small matters as he shall be able, without further injuring his health, or retarding his recovery, until he is able to maintain himself as usual by his trade or labour. 


When any member shall declare on the box, he shall send his name, and place of abode, to the place where the Society is held, or to the Clerk, who shall, within forty-eight hours, acquaint the Stewards with the same, who shall, immediately on such notice, visit the sick member, if within five miles of Great-Barford, and, if they find him afflicted according to his declaration, they shall give him half a week's pay, and the other half on that day week on which he declared, by seven o'clock in the evening; except he declared on the Sunday or Monday, in which case he shall be paid on the Saturday following. 


If any member who resides above five miles from the village of Great-Barford, declares on the box, he shall send a certificate signed by the churchwardens and overseers of the parish, and by some surgeon and apothecary in the neighbourhood, setting forth the true cause of his disorder, and the time of his first applying for such certificate; on which, the money in the case allowed, as in the last article, shall be sent by the Society, in as quick a manner, as safety and other circumstances will allow. 


If any sick member, having declared on the box, shall be found afflicted with the venereal disease, or with any disorder in consequence of it. - or with any disorder which comes by fighting, (except in his own defence) - or by any danger to which he wilfully and unnecessarily exposed himself, by drinking, intemperance, play or too violent exercise - or shall be found by the Stewards or visiting members gaming in any public house or public place, - or found drunk when they visit him, - or working or assisting to work while on the box, (except as allowed in the 14th article) - or if any of these circumstances shall appear true on the solemn declaration of any other credible person, then, and in such case, he shall be excluded: and when any sick member, on the box, shall walk to take the air, he must leave word at his home where he is gone and may be found, that the Stewards, or Visitors appointed by them, as in the next article, may know where to find him: the sick member shall forfeit sixpence for the first neglect, and be excluded if he neglects leaving word for two visiting days together. 


The Stewards for neglect of paying the sick members on the proper days and times of payment, which shall be once a week, shall pay a fine of five shillings, or be excluded; and the Stewards shall appoint three members residing nearest to the sick member to visit him, one of them each day, by rotation, according to seniority, as long as he continues on the box, under penalty of paying a fine of sixpence for every neglect: any sick member on the box, not declaring such omission of not being regularly visited, according to these articles, shall pay a fine of one shilling for every time he shall not declare such omission: for which purpose, the Stewards shall leave a roll with the sick member, within which, each visiting member shall write his name or make his mark, when he visits. If any of his visiting members find the sick member guilty of any of the crimes set forth in the last article, or breach of the rules therein mentioned, he shall stop the roll, and the payment of his money until the next monthly night; and if such accusations shall not prove just, the sick member shall be paid his full money from the time the roll was stopped; and the visiting member being found to accuse unjustly and maliciously, shall pay the fine of five shillings or be excluded. 


If any member shall die, after he shall have paid twelve calendar months to the box, the sum of four pounds shall be paid to his widow, if he leaves one, or to his representatives (except he dies of the small-pox, when nothing is allowed) to defray the expences [sic] of his funeral, which the Stewards shall attend, if within five miles of Great-Barford, with hat-bands and gloves, provided by the Society for that purpose, and see that the member be buried in a decent manner, as to coffin and shroud, and other circumstances attending it, without any expence [sic] to the township to which he belonged: the same circumstances are also to be attended to on the death of the wife of any member, for whose funeral the sum of two pounds shall be allowed such member. The Stewards shall be allowed one shillings and sixpence each for their trouble on these occasions. And any member of member's wife dying, above five miles from the town of ­Great-Barford, there shall be allowed the same sums as before, on a certificate being first signed by the minister and clerk of the parish or Chapelry where he or she was buried, setting forth that the funeral was decent and becoming one of their rank in life, and without any expence [sic] to the township to which he or she belonged. And if any member die before he be free of the box, each member shall contribute sixpence towards his funeral, or be excluded. 


All monthly payments, admittance fees, fines, forfeits, gifts and benefactions to the Society, and the interest of their money, shall be put in the box for the increase of the joint stock: and what sum or sums can be spared (after relieving the sick and infirm members, and paying for funerals) shall from time to time, with the consent of the majority of the members, be lent out, on good and sufficient security, on interest, (for a fund) in the names of the Stewards, Clerk, and Members of the Amicable Society, Great-Barford, Beds.


If any member be guilty of coming into the club-room drunk, during the hours of the monthly or annual meetings, - or is detected in profane cursing or swearing, or lying, - or found guilty of using approbrious [sic] and provoking language or gestures, - or calling any member by a nick name, - behaving disrespectfully to the Stewards, - not keeping off his hat in the club-room, or in the dining-room at the anniversary, (if all are ordered so to do by the Stewards) - or of promoting gaming or mischief, - or of concerning himself with state affairs, - or abusing his neighbours, - or making rude speeches, he shall forfeit a sum, not less than two-pence, nor more than one shilling, for each offence, to be determined by a majority of the members present, according to the nature of the offence. 


If any member shall be guilty of striking any other member in the club-room, - or of any theft, riot, petty-larceny, or any felony whatsoever, proof being made thereof within twelve months after the same was committed, he shall be excluded. 


If any one member shall accuse another with the breach of any of these rules, and cannot make his accusation appear just and true, he shall pay a fine of five shillings or be excluded: and the Steward shall be allowed one shilling and sixpence each for summoning the members to appear the next quarterly night, to discuss and determine the same; and every member, who shall not appear on the occasion, or who shall depart the house before the matter is decided, or who shall refuse to give his vote, shall pay a fine of sixpence. 


Any member who desires to make a motion in behalf of himself or any other member, or of the Society in general, shall stand up, uncovered, during the hours of the meeting, and ask leave of the Stewards to be heard: such leave being granted, he shall be attended to, without interruption, till he hath ended his discourse; when any other member shall have leave to second such motion by new arguments in its favour, others to reply to them in order; no more than one shall speak at a time, or any one interrupt another speaker, on forfeiture of two-pence to the box; and if he persists to do so, he shall leave the room and not vote. When the debate is ended silence shall be demanded, and the members seated in order, according to seniority, and then the Steward shall relate the affair under consideration, mentioning the principal arguments for and against it, and giving their own opinion about it; after which, the votes of the members shall be taken in order from right to left, beginning with the youngest members first, and ending with the eldest; thus proceeding from room to room, if one room is not able to contain them; when a majority of votes shall bind the whole. 


If the motion was to repeal or alter any old rule, to make any new one, or utterly to exclude any member, it must be made at a quarterly meeting, and the Stewards shall resume the affair in a full house at the annual meeting, with the principal arguments alledged [sic] for and against it; and if a majority of the members then present shall approve of what has been done, the same shall be entered in the book of  the Society, and if it be a new rule it shall be of the same force as the printed rules, and be printed amongst them the first impression; having been stuck up in the club-room, and made as public as possible in the mean-time. 


If any disputes about things of inferior importance occur at a monthly night, and which cannot with propriety be postponed to a quarterly night, they shall be decided by a majority of the members the present, according to the method laid down in the twenty-fifth article.


The expence [sic] of the box, books, rolls, printed rues and orders, postage on the Society's account (if not from members on their own business, who in case ate to pay their own postage) the expence [sic] of recovering any money belonging to the Society, and the reasonable expences [sic] attending every thing which is for the benefit of the Society, and as such agreed on, shall be paid by the Stewards out of the box.


That these rules and orders shall subsist, be binding and conclusive to all parties comprehended therein, according to the true intent and meaning of them; except repealed or altered, as the 25th and 26th articles allows: that the Society shall not be broken or dissolved so long as any three members of it agree to its continuance but that all the members in their several stations shall endeavour to promote its interest, shall pay and receive, sue and be sued, according and so far as is consistent with, and agreeable to the rules and orders of this Society, and permitted by the laws of the realm. 


Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has another copy of rules and orders of the Society [Z461/1] from a later date which, sadly, is not given. There are a number of changes, including:

  • Instead of two stewards and a clerk the officers were a treasurer, clerk and one steward.
  • Meetings were to be held in a private house every fourth Monday in June, July and August from eight until nine and the other months from seven until nine. The anniversary was to be celebrated on Whit-Tuesday.
  • Potential members had to give a month's notice of their intention to join;
  • The treasurer was responsible for all cash and securities of the society.
  • The Clerk was to e an honorary member but could be selected from members if no non-member would do the job.
  • The means of setting out the accounts was specified.
  • Each member paid sixpence specifically to defray funeral expenses of deceased members or their wives.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service also has an account book of the society (in which it is called simply the Great Barford Club) dating from 1860 to 1903 [Z461/2] at which date it had £80/16/9. This contains the names of all members benefiting from the box.  And the amounts they received and so is a useful source for family historians. For example, the following is an extract from 14th August 1882:

  • Goodman, William 18/-
  • Hall, Joseph £1/16/-
  • Parker, Samuel 15/-
  • Cross, James 16/6
  • Murfin Jun[ior] 4/6