The Clothing Club

May 6, 2004

The middle of the 19th century was a time of increasing population in Fontmell Magna, reaching a peak of 875 residents in 1861. During this period of growth the village began to form groups dedicated to social welfare amongst which were the Clothing Club and the Coal Club. The account book we have shows the Clothing Club starting in 1859, but unfortunately after 1861 the records are dedicated to the Wesleyan (Methodist) Sunday School. We do know the Clothing Club existed after 1861 as it is referred to in the Parish Magazine of 1905. Then it was known as the Clothing and Coal Club. Alas we do not have any records for the merged institution.

Methodist Chapel, village shop,malthouse and maypole

Methodist Chapel, village shop,malthouse and maypole

The Clothing Club was a popular method of saving in each of the 3 years for which we have records, one assumes it was to help with Christmas expenses as pay-outs were made to members at the end of December. The impetus for this organisation seems to have come from the members of the Methodist Church.

The rules were very explicit although Rule 3 seems to have been broken by several members; according to the payment records some villagers saved from 11/2d to 3d per week rather than the 1d laid down.

 Rules of the Clothing Club.
1. The secretary shall keep all accounts and no money shall be spent or application in any way but by the sanction of the Committee at a regular Committee Meeting.
2. The money shall be placed in the hands of the Treasurer who shall pay all accounts by order of the Committee.
3. No member shall pay more than one penny per week, nor less.
4. The members shall receive their money near the close of the year with such percentage as the Committee can afford.
5. The money of the Club shall be distributed among the members by means of tickets, which shall be spent at the places by the Committee.
6. Any member ceasing their payment for three successive months shall forfeit their membership and shall not regain the same but by consent of the Committee and the payment of the arrears.
7. The Committee shall have power to make any alteration in the rules of the club or to add new ones to it.

The ‘Free Subscribers’ are something of a mystery. Were these pre-payments? Or balances left over from the previous year? It does appear less likely to be pre-payments as Mrs Baker is credited with only 4d, whereas Mrs R Edwards has the grand sum of 10 shillings. These subscribers are also listed showing their title, Mr, Mrs or Miss, but the weekly payers are recorded by their Christian and surnames. In the latter group, this may be because it includes a number of children and young people whose parents were encouraging them to learn to save.
Some of the initials of the married women employ the old convention of using their husband’s first name, thus Mrs George Hart and Mrs Robert Hart.
Despite its obvious appeal to some families, membership declined from 59 members in 1859 to 20 in 1861.

FREE SUBSCRIBERS
Mrs Baker
Mrs Mary Brown
Miss M Cole
J Dibbon (or Dibben)
W Edwards, Mr George Edwards, Mr Joe Edwards, Mr R Edwards, Mrs Edwards

Robert Edwards

Robert Edwards

Mrs Easton
Mrs Feltham (Bedchester)
Mrs C Hart, Mrs R Hart, George Hart

George Hart

George Hart

Mrs H Horder
A King
Mrs Lawrence (Bedchester)
Mrs M Martin
Mrs Parsons
Mrs Ralph
Mrs H Spinney, A Spinney
Mr W Street
Mr Story

WEEKLY PAYING MEMBERS

Emily and Bessie Beck

Emily and Bessie Beck

Emily Beck
Mark Bowles
Lot Bowles
Albert Cole
William Cox
Eliza Hardiman, Fanny Hardiman
John Isaac

Lurmer Street, Fontmell Magna

Jenkins, the blacksmith, lived in the cottage on the left

Charles Jenkins, Rachel Jenkins
Henry Lawrence,
Elizabeth, Emma, Richard and Charles Lawrence
Priscilla Lush, Henry Lush
Elizabeth Merefield
Lois Mullins
Charles Moody
Sarah Monkton
Fanny and Mary Pinney
William and Sarah Ann Rideout (or Ridout)
Edwin, Elizabeth, Tom, Thomas and Samuel Steel
Mary Ann, Charles, Henry and William Steel
Rachel and William Street
Ann, Philip, George and Charles Tuffin
Jane, Edith and William Toomer
Emma West

This is an on-going research project and in due course we hope to be able to provide more links to the persons listed above. If you can help, please email us with your information.

Author: Maureen Webber