Oddfellows and Others:
The World of the Victorian Friendly Societies

Mr R.L. Greenall

6th October 2007

St Andrew's Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton

One feature which struck foreign commentators on British society in the 19th century was the degree to which working men associated together to avoid such disasters as the workhouse or a pauper's grave. They did this by insuring themselves in 'mutual' organisations against the incidental misfortunes of life such as sickness, unemployment old age, or premature death. Every village had its club or friendly society, and many had several. In the towns there was usually a richer network of local clubs and branches of nationally federated orders, with such esoteric names as Oddfellows, Foresters, Good Shepherds, Free Gardeners and Rechabites. This lecture will explore this worls, with particular reference to Victorian Northamptonshire.

Ron Greenall first came to Northamptonshire in 1965 as the University of Leicester's adult education organiser in Northampton, and became the first warden of the University Centre in Barrack Road. As a historian he began to interest himself in the county's history, teaching in Northampton and other centres for over thirty years. He is an author of several books on local history, the most recent of which is his History of Kettering (2003). He has been a member of the Northamptonshire Record Society since 1970 and edited Northamptonshire Past and Present for sixteen years and served for another twelve as general editor of the society's main series, retiring earlier this year.

return to the index page