One aim of these Blogs will be to build up a picture of the Friendly Society world in 1903. It is an entirely arbitary date but it is serviceable.
Gloucester is thought of as a Cathedral City but it was a busy port town in the 19th century. The picture shows Gloucester docks in around 1900.
On the 13th April 1903 the Gloucester Citizen reported on the April half yearly meeting of the Gloucester District of the Ancient Order of Foresters. The meeting was held at the Foresters Hall, presided over by the District Chief Ranger Bro. S. Croose.
All 13 Courts in the District (Nos. 1826, 2612, 2638, 3372, 3464, 4747, 6148, 6511, 6601, 6604, 6646, 7015 and a ladies Court No. 8340) were represented. The Balance Sheet for the half year ending December 31st 1902 was presented to the meeting - during that period £228 had been paid out in death claims (£144 for members, £70 for members wives and £14 for widows of late members). At the end of 1902 the total worth of the District was £12,355-12s-4d and it was reported that the District had at present 2096 members. During 1902 £2,253-10s-6d had been paid out as Sick Pay and £524 as death claims.
It is obvious from one comment made that there was a feeling that there were "town" Courts and "Country" Courts in the District. I can remember that distinction being made in the 1990s.
The attention of the Delegates was drawn to remarks of a Poor Law Guardian in connections with 2 applications for relief made by members of Court "Royal", Gloucester 1826. "The greatest surprise and indignation were shown by everyone present that such remarks should have been made without thoroughly investigating the cause of such applications" .......... "it was unanimously resolved "That this meeting representing the whole of the Gloucester District of the Ancient Order of Foresters most emphatically protests against the unwarrantable attack made upon the District generally by a member of the Gloucester Board of Guardians before making himself fully acquainted with the facts of the question"".