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The Carluke Friendly Societies

Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds 1909


As in most towns in Scotland the early adoption of friendly societies acted as a welcome insurance plan at a time when there was no standardised or national health or unemployment system. The oldest society recorded was the Carters Society of Leith in 1555 but modern societies came about during the industrial revolution.
They were created to combat punitive employment law and the Combination Act of 1799 which outlawed trade unions. Remember, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were transported to Tasmania in 1834. By then, a Friendly Society was a union by any other name. To those with families, societies offered a small hope when tragedy or illness struck. Here are a set of historical documents which we are lucky to have in our collection, which we reproduce for anyone who may be interested.


We have a one page document which was the invitation to the 1890 Annual Meeting and Ball for the Ancient Loyal Order of Foresters.



We have two documents which we present on the following page. The first is the Eighth Annual Report in 1894 for the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds.  It contains a full accounting record for each of 294 members who had a deposit on account with the society. It also makes mention in the report that 11 members had been struck off for non-payment of contributions.  Each entry shows how much was paid to the society by each member and the amount of any arrears. If your friends knew your account number then you were publicly shamed for non-payment. One poor fellow #261 died leaving 6/2d in his account. It is not known how much was required to bury him. The shame of a pauper's grave and burial drove God-fearing people to ensure they could afford a decent send-off. Indeed that is still the opinion of Carluke folks today who have their Coop funeral all paid up and ready.

The next document is the Jubilee Souvenir for the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds 1887-1937 which was the 50 year anniversary of their Carluke foundation and coincidentally was 100  years from the passing in 1837 of the Poor Law which regulated pauper burials, workhouses and medical relief. The document contains the minutes of the first Carluke session, opened by Reverend Oliphant on 29th January 1887 in Rankin Memorial Hall when 71 members were initiated.  After the minutes there are three pages of  historical notes, such as the year 1892 when the Lodge purchased a banner from a company in London which had Dr Rankin's photo reproduced on it.

On 3rd September the Lodge marched in Carluke at a Demonstration when the new banner was unfurled.

May 1901 the group marched with other Friendly Societies to honour the Lanarkshire Volunteers returning from the  Boer War

20th September 1905 the group marched to join other Societies in laying the foundation stone for the Templar Hall.

22nd March 1912 The group heard Bro. Alex Scott in the Town Hall explain the new National Health Insurance Act.

13th August 1914 Members in the military are excused payment of membership dues.

 View the documents...

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Last Updated on Apr-28-2014