27 June 1903
HOOLEY HILL FRIENDLY SOCIETY WAS MANAGED
Remarkable Case at Ashton County Court
On Thursday afternoon his Honour Judge Reginald BROWN,
K.C., had a singular claim arising out of a dispute between
members and officials of a friendly society at Hooley
Hill. The plaintiffs were: James PLATT, of 26 Seymour-street,
Denton; William HOWORTH, 17 Garden-street, Hooley Hill;
Ralph RYDER, Ryecroft Terrace, Hamilton-street, Hamilton-street,
Ashton; John Henry RYDER, 4 Canal-street, Openshaw; and
Henry RYDER, also of Canal-street, Openshaw, all of them
suing as member of the Welcome Friend Lodge (1,211) of
the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, Denton district.
The defendants were Cornelius
DOUGLAS, of 118 Moorside-lane, Denton, felt hat finisher,
and Frederick HOWARD, of Gibson Terrace, Ashton, an oiler
and greaser. Mr Joseph HURST, solicitor, represented plaintiffs,
and defendants appeared in person.
It was alleged that DOUGLAS
had withheld about £13 and HOWARD £2, in addition
to the books of the society, which the plaintiffs demanded.
Asked by the judge what their defence would be, DOUGLAS
denied having the money. He had, he said, paid it away
in sick benefits. HOWARD admitted liability, and accordingly
the case contested was against DOUGLAS only.
Mr HURST said his clients were
member of an old Oddfellows’ lodge established 50
years ago – the Welcome Friend Lodge, which held
its meetings at the Pack Horse Inn, Hooley Hill. Most
of the members had been connected with the lodge many
years, periods extending over 50, 47, 38 and 35 years.
The lodge held a subordinate degree in Oddfellowship,
and was attached to the district and lodges known as the
At any rate, it was so attached
up to payment of the last levy in October 1902. Since
that period in consequence of defendants withholding the
funds of the society, no levies had been paid to the district,
and the funeral benefits of £8 per member –
or a total sum of £80 – had been placed in
jeopardy by the conduct of DOUGLAS and HOWARD in withholding
His Honour: Is the only question
to decide whether DOUGLAS has paid away the money on behalf
of the society for sick relief? I suppose he admits having
had the money which he says he has paid away? –
Mr HURST: Quite so, but we have nothing to do with that.
I shall call evidence to prove that DOUGLAS has admitted
the sum which we say he owes, for he stated in tears he
was in possession of the money.
Mr HURST went on to say that
he wrote to DOUGLAS and HOWARD as treasurer and secretary
respectively, pointing out the membership had been reduced
to eight, and that for some time no balance-sheet had
been supplied. The sum of £14 4s was supposed to
be in their hands, though no subscriptions had been paid
for the past nine months, and as the Lodge did not contain
13 members, the dispensation of the Grand Lodge had been
forfeited. They requested that the books and cash should
be handed over, otherwise proceedings would be instituted.
Subsequently the parties met, and DOUGLAS admitted having
received the sum above mentioned, but that he had not
then possession of the money.
His Honour: Have they handed
over the books? – Mr Hurst: Part of the books have
been received. Nearly all the eight members except the
treasurer and secretary are old working men of imperfect
education, and if the evidence is gone into you will see
that advantage has been taken by defendants of the ignorance
of these old men. The district lodges have held meetings
in order to compel them to return the books and the money,
and it only after certain threats that some of the books
were handed over this morning. DOUGLAS has never before
made any suggestion that he had paid away the money; on
the contrary, he has admitted owing it, and he promised
to pay it back.
Defendant HOWARD (whom Mr HURST
had also subpoenaed as a witness) was then sworn. He said
it was DOUGLAS’ duty to enter in a book any money
he paid away. – Mr HURST: Are you aware he has paid
any money in benefits? – Witness: Yes. – His
Honour: But you do not think he has paid anything except
what is in the books? – Witness: I do not think
so. – Mr HURST: Has the dispensation been withdrawn
in consequence of what has happened? – Witness:
DOUGLAS: I paid 13 weeks at
4s a week to a person named RYDER. – His Honour:
Is that in the books? – DOUGLAS: No, sir, because
I have no books. HOWARD is the very man who took it to
him week after week. – HOWARD shook his head, and
the Judge inquired if RYDER lived at Ardwick. –
DOUGLAS: You know he received 13 weeks at 4s a week. –
HOWARD: I have no knowledge of it. What I have paid is
in the books.
His Honour: Is RYDER here?
– DOUGLAS: No, sir, he is dead. Besides that I paid
money to a member named DEEMING, and that is not in the
books. – HOWARD: It seems strange that the sick
steward (DOUGLAS) should not have reported these matters
before. – His Honour: To the best of your belief
you think you have entered everything he has told you
he has paid away? – Witness: Yes, sir, month by
DOUGLAS said DEEMING was not
a member now. Further he paid 8s for the framing of an
emblem for Samuel HOWARD. His Honour: But it would be
your duty to tell HOWARD you had paid these sums so that
they could be debited. – DOUGLAS: I have done, and
I have asked for members to be called and an audit, but
they have always put it off. I have been here, there and
everywhere for them! HOWARD has had the books, and I have
Witness: You have had “tally”
books. – DOUGLAS: Yes, I have had them since this
case commenced. When I have asked him to prepare a full
statement he said that if he made up the books they would
find three members out of benefit! – Witness denied
this, and produced a letter signed by Messrs WALKER and
WOOD saying that the books were well kept. – DOUGLAS:
Who has had the “tally” books? – Witness:
You. – DOUGLAS: No, you have had them all the time!
His Honour: Who drew £7
18s 10d from the bank? – DOUGLAS: I did. His Honour:
Then you have got that in any event. – DOUGLAS replied
that he had paid out all the money he received. He had
also paid his own expenses when he had been to Manchester
on lodge business. He had not received anything for 16
years. – His Honour (sharply): You are not entitled
to anything. If you take over the secretaryship you do
it for the good of your fellow creatures. You are not
entitled to any pay unless you make a bargain.
DOUGLAS: I have worked my utmost
for the lodge and district. – His Honour: I should
like to have a witness called who has heard him admit
having the money. – HOWARD then said he heard DOUGLAS
admit that, but that he had spent it. DOUGLAS started
“skriking” when he made the admission. –
His Honour: “Skriking,” what’s that?
– (Laughter.) – Witness: Crying, sir. James
PLATT, William HOWARD, and John Hy. RYDER next gave evidence.
They spoke to having heard DOUGLAS say he had had the
money, but had spent it. HOWARD said that DOUGLAS remarked
that he was going to have something while he lived!”
His Honour: I never saw such
a way these clubs are managed. – Mr HURST: It is
very loose indeed. – DOUGLAS: It is all malice against
me, and I have done my duty as well as I could under the
circumstances. I have paid sick money when members have
come to me, and they have never bothered at all.
His Honour pointed out to DOUGLAS
that it was his duty to put in writing anything he paid
away. What was he by trade? – DOUGLAS: A hatter.
– What do you make a week? – Fifteen shillings.
– Mr HURST: They make a few pounds a week. –
DOUGLAS: Mr HURST knows that is wrong, and he lives in
the district. – Are you married? – No, sir.
– What offer can you make? – I cannot make
any. In the end the Judge made an order upon DOUGLAS to
pay £13 4s 10d, and HOWARD £2 0s 6d, together
with the books. J H RYDER was appointed trustee, and payment
was ordered forthwith.