Bolton 1st March 1816
Agreeable to your request I have made Enquiries contained in your last respecting Friendly Societies—I find at the time that Delegates, where sent to London with a Petition, from the Weavers to get a fixed Minimum of Wages according to sorts & quantities of cloth [worked]. An affiliation was made by them, through the committee at Bolton to the different Friendly Societies for a Sum of Money, to be advanced to them, out of their [respective] Funds—In consequence of which their was General Meetings called of a Number of the Societies for that purpose—and several clubbs agreed, to lend them money, on point notes being given for the same, by such of the members as would come forward & who where thought to be Eligible to which several of the Members agreed to on condition, they might be allowed to sollicit Subscriptions, [illegible] the Members the ensuing Quarter day, for the repayment of the same but they delegates not succeeding in their affiliation, to Parliament—when they began to make their Collections from they Members it came far short of their expectations and they had trouble to make the Deficiency out of their own Pockets—They where other Societies that advanced five Pounds each, out of their respective Funds, without any notes being required—but it has been a bone of contention ever since, with those that where opposed to it who declare their shall never any more money to go out again but for the Purposes it was put in for viz to Relive the Sick & Bury the dead
In the year 1808 at the General turn out of the Weavers, a number of Families where brought into distress by having their Shuttles &c took from them their was General Meetings of several Societies again called, to consider of the propriety of assisting such of their Members, who were in distress—when it was agreed to [allow] out of their respective Funds, ten Shillings to such Member that would apply for the same they repaying it back in Six or 12 Months with Interest—the Principle fact of such Money so advanced, has been paid back when such Members hath not repaid the same, it is deducted from their Burial Money—I cannot learn of any Society failing to Relieve their Sick or becoming Bankrupt in consequence of any Sums advanced to the Weavers delegates—as the Largest Sum advanced by any Society was ten Pounds I learn there has been 2 or 3 Sick clubbs broke up—but it was owing to not having a sufficient number of Paying Members joining their Societies—and being principly composed of old Persons their Funds got reduced so low—that they agreed to divide what little Money they have left—
I believe the Money received in Friendly Societies in Bolton has been invariably applied to the paying of their Sick and Burying their dead except in the before mentioned cases—And I understand that those who where advocates for the advance of such Money is convinced of the impropriety of letting any Money go out of their Funds for any purpose whatever but for what it was subscribed for—
you're very obedt Servant
To Col Fletcher
This letter can be found at HO 42/149.