The friendly society known as the Downham Benevolent Society was formed by 12 men who met in the George and Dragon Inn, Downham, on 5 March, 1785. The society membership was not restricted to inhabitants of Downham and there are records of many members from Rimington and other surrounding villages.

What were friendly societies? Essentially, they were micro insurance companies, giving their members a benefit if they were unable to work through illness or an accident, and also a lump sum if one of their members died. Some offered a lump sum on the death of a member’s spouse and sometimes a pension, usually at the age of 70. In Lancashire, there were societies for men only, women only and a very few were mixed. They were formed by, or on behalf of, ordinary working men and women and were to be found in rural as well as urban areas. At the time the Downham society was formed, there were at least 90 friendly societies in Lancashire. There was a society in the neighbouring village of Chatburn that had started in 1780 and the John Taylor’s Society started in Clitheroe in 1788. 

Below are links to pages on the Downham Banner section of the Downham Village Website.

Downham Benevolent Society History

Downham Benevolent Society Members