Friendly Societies



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Friendly Societies

Friendly Societies were introduced and the constitution was drawn up [by Mr. Bradley and Mr. McPherson.] In the event of any member becoming ill and unable to work, the Friendly Society was bound to pay 20/- a week so long as the member remained unable to work. There was however, a serious error in neither introducing a limit to the liability of the members, nor specifying a period when the sick benefit/pay would decrease and then end altogether.

Another Society also operated, but on a much smaller scale. The weekly payment was 1d, and the sick benefit was 7/- per week. In this Penny Society, members could apply for benefit when required, and again there was no stated period at which this would terminate.

Dr Cameron tells the story of Alexander Farquar, a labourer in Lennoxmill who became a member of both societies. When he became unwell and alleged he was unfit to work, he became entitled to 20/- from one society, and 7/- from the other. His working wage would have been 12 - 14/-  per week, so his sick allowance was double his ordinary wage.

He became a permanent burden on both societies because he never resumed work, and he outlived most of the original members. As the membership decreased, the financial burden on the remaining members became heavier and unsustainable. They took the case to court but failed to get rid of their liability. The constant drain on the funds was known about, and prevented new members from joining.

The Penny Society made a concerted effort to raise 60 which they offered to Farquar to relinquish his claim, and he accepted the offer. The original society, which was latterly reduced to only 4 members, continued to pay his weekly allowance until his death.

A local Roman Catholic clergyman, the Rev. John Gillan, took up the idea of the friendly societies, and instituted a new one called St Patrick's Society. He took an active part in it, and oversaw its operation for years. Protestants also joined what became a very successful society.

Because of his work in the society and his attendance on the victims of Cholera outbreak in 1854, (see Cholera), the inhabitants, chiefly the protestants, presented him with an 8 day clock in a mahogany case, which had a suitable inscription engraved on a silver plate. Rev. Gillon was often called the Protestant Priest.

A new society eventually replaced the St Patrick's society. It was called the 'Campsie Yearly Friendly Society'.

The Penny Savings bank  was another movement of the time. Its objective was to cultivate thrift and thoughtful consideration of future events through saving.


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