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History of West Calder
Chapter XV. Friendly Societys in 1799 and 1812


The first friendly society, in this parish, was instituted in 1799. There is nothing uncommon in its regulations. The entry -money 1s 5s., and the quarterly payment 1s 1s. There is a widows’ fund attached to it; on such a plan as can never prove pernicious to its funds. It is supported by Is. yearly for each member; and all the fines for irregular payment, and the sum given to the widows must always be in proportion to the sum accumulated. The first payment made from it were in 1807; and since that time the members, the funds, the annual payments to the sick and to the widows, have been always increasing. Before stating them, it is proper to say, that when the funds of the friendly society amounted to £100, the members had it in their power to transfer a certain part of the overplus every year to the widows’ fund, if they thought it necessary. The weekly allowance to sick members was four shillings at first, and the annual sum to the widows £1. Since the fund increased, the sick, for three years past, have received five shillings, and the widows £2.

It is evident, from this statement, that- as the number of widows may considerably increase, and as the contingencies against the society may be greater, that the balances are not sufficient for the prosperity of the respective funds; and therefore the society have retained it in their power to reduce the weekly payments to 4s. when the capital is reduced to less than £150, and the widows to £1 when necessary.

Another friendly society, on a different plan, was instituted in February, 1812: The object of it is not to accumulate a great capital, but to make the subscribers at all times responsible for the deficiency of the funds. The subscription is one penny per week, collected at the end of every six weeks; and, the payments to the sick members, commence from their entry. The admission money is 5s. The stock is at this date £20, and about half of that sum for widows. The members, 104, and the yearly payments of £40.


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