Freemasonry, industry and charity: the local community and the working man

Document type
Harrison, David
Date of publication
1 December 2002
Voluntary Action: the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research. Vol. 5; Number 1
Social welfare
Material type

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Focusing on the charitable aspects of Freemasonry at the local level in the north-west of England, this article discusses ways in which Freemasons became involved in local education and charitable organisations in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Combination Acts of 1799, introduced by Pitt the Younger amid the fears created by the French Revolution, changed Freemasonry. In certain industrial areas, such as Warrington, the Craft became open to the working classes, as the upper classes began to distance themselves from Freemasonry because of the radical image it had gained. Working men found within the Craft a traditional benevolent club, which had aspects of a Friendly Society and enabled them to claim relief for themselves and their families.

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