Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Ramble about some Benevolent Societies

In the 18th and 19th Centuries the rise of rich industrialists led to them donating funds to a large number of newly established philanthropic and missionary societies.  Their wives and the wives and daughters of the upper classes often assisted these charities by sitting on their committees and even doing work for them.  Amongst some of the more interesting charities were –

The Society of Universal Goodwill  (there is now a society of a similar name – The International Society of Friendship and Good Will which began in 1978)

The Society for Superseding the Necessity of Climbing Boys (to reduce the number of boys that sweeps sent climbing up chimneys to clean them).

The Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress.

 Guy's Hospital for sick and impotent persons and lunaticks (founded 1721)

 The General Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Decayed Artists of the United Kingdom

The Institution for the Protection of Young Country Girls (founded 1801).

 The Society for the Suppression of Mendicity

The Society for Carrying into Effect His Majesty’s Proclamations Against Vice and Immorality (Founded in 1788 - Its purpose was the Reformation of Manners - to enforce the Execution of the Laws against Drunkenness, Lewdness, indecent Prints & indecent Publications, disorderly Public Houses & all the various Profanations of the Lord's Day...).

The London Society for the Encouragement of Faithful Female Servants (Insituted 1813).

The Association for the Refutation of Infidel Publications.

The Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge upon the Punishment of Death

The Guardian Society for the Preservation of Public Morals by Providing Temporary Asylums for Prostitutes

The Episcopal Floating Church Society - a real society of honest people. 

 The Society for improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes.
The Ladies Association for the Benefit of Gentlewomen of Good Family, Reduced in Fortunes Below the State of Comfort to Which They Have Been Accustomed.

The London Truss Society for the Ruptured Poor.  (Founded 1807 - I wonder if there was enmity or collaboration between this and the Rupture Society for the Supply of Trusses to the Indigent Poor of both Sexes founded in 1804/5  (and also known as the New Rupture Society).  This latter was certainly at war with the original Rupture Society founded in 1796 - they fought their war via correspondence in The Medical Observer.  In fairness rupture was a major problem and it was estimated in 1807 that in some parts of the country as many as a quarter of the labouring population were affected by hernias and ruptures, including men and women of all ages.  That year the Duke of Bedford donated 100 guineas to the New Rupture Society  which was still advertising meetings in 1950 and survived long enough to be given a registered charity number though it was removed from the listings of the Charity Commission in 2001 because it had then ceased to exist.)
You couldn't make these up if you tried!!! 

The Friendly Female Society for the Relief of the Poor, Infirm, Aged Widows and Single Women, of Good Character who Have Seen Better Days,

And my favourite
The Forlorn Female’s Fund of Mercy.   If you know any Forlorn Females I shall try to find if it still exists.


  1. These really cheered me up though perhaps they shouldn't have.
    I wonder if anyone was executed for diffusing knowledge?

  2. Some wonderful titles here, and these really are fascinating. But, what pray tell, is a "decayed artist?"

    1. I imagine they are artists 'Reduced in Fortunes Below the State of Comfort to Which They Have Been Accustomed' Either that or they are dead but not buried!!.

    2. You crack me up, John. I knew you'd have the answer! :) xoxoxoxo

  3. At least we can't say these wealthy people didn't try to help others. It's just a bit odd to us how they went about it.

  4. I had to look up "mendicity" although I should have known what it means - "mendicare" is begging in Italian. But I am not yet fully awake and it shows in the slowness of my mind. Is there a Society of Friends of Sleepy Librarians Suffering Slowness of Mind?

  5. And what about the "Society for Befriending Young Servants" which I think did a similar job to protecting the young country girls.

  6. I think I should start a "Society"


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