ANW logo

Archives Network Wales

Search the collections:        Search help | Advanced search   | Browse by repository

Browse the indices: Combined(searchable) Personal names Corporate names Places Subjects



[New to Archives?]

[Family history]

[Admin menu]

List of repositories  |  List of collections at National Library of Wales  |  Repository home page  |  Contact details

National Library of Wales
Gwalia Oddfellows Records

Reference code(s): GB 0210 GWALIA

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Gwalia Oddfellows Records

Short Title: Gwalia Oddfellows Records

Creation date(s): 1839-1973

Level of description: Fonds.

Extent: 1.286 cubic metres (44 boxes, 8 outsize volumes)

Name of creator(s): Gwalia District of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.


Administrative/Biographical history: The Gwalia District, which was established in 1916 following the amalgamation of the much older Aberystwyth and Dolgellau Districts, was affiliated to the Manchester Unity of Friendly Societies. The District was governed by the District Meeting composed of a management committee and deputies appointed by the Lodges. Gwalia District officers comprised a chairman, also called the Provincial Grand Master, a Provincial Deputy Grand Master, the Provincial Corresponding Secretary or Prov. C.S. and the Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master. The District had both supervisory and disciplinary powers over Lodges in that the accounts of each Lodge were checked annually by the District and, in cases of non-compliance of a District resolution, a Lodge could be fined monthly until such resolution had been complied with. The Rules of the Order of Oddfellows and the District were binding on all Lodges, and in cases of inconsistency the Rules of the Order were to prevail over the Rules of the District, and the Rules of the District over those of the Lodges. The District, through its District officers, also had the power in cases of mismanagement or misappropriation of funds to call a special committee of the Lodge and to take temporary possession of Lodge records and securities. -- Members of lodges paid a small contribution into a common fund once every four weeks. The funds provided sickness and funeral benefits for members, funeral expenses of a member's wife, medical assistance, assistance when members were travelling in search of employment, and for assisting members in distressed circumstances. Some of the contributions raised were also paid towards defraying the costs of District management and towards levies required by the Unity. The role of the insurance side of the friendly societies, however, was further enhanced by the passing of the Friendly Societies Act of 1875, and, under the the 1911 National Insurance Act, the societies were given a new role as agents in the state scheme of national health insurance. The 1911 Act in fact created a new type of member, one that simply joined in order to take advantage of the 1911 Act without taking any part in the society's other schemes nor in its ceremonies. This part of the society's work within the Gwalia District was invariably called the state side, as opposed to the remainder of its functions which were called the independent side. -- Members met monthly in a local public house, or in a local schoolroom, chapel room or restaurant to transact buisness. Both District and Lodges held open-air processions, with bands, banners and uniforms. Indoors, Lodges conducted initiation rites, using mystical symbols, private codes, grandiloquent titles and regalia, similar to the freemasons. -- The growth of the Welfare State ultimately heralded the end of the Gwalia District. In 1921 the District had 2078 members; in 1959, by which time one Lodge had already been dissolved, there were only 582 members. In 1972 there were only four Lodges left with a combined membership of only 300. Sometime after 1976 Gwalia District itself was dissolved and the last surviving lodge, the Rheidol in Aberystwyth, was transferred to the Montgomery district.


Scope and content/abstract: Records relating almost entirely to the management and accounting of funds, payments by and to members, payments by and between lodges and the Unity, to investments and to the general rules conducting District and Lodge affairs.


Language/scripts of material: English, some Welsh.

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into the following four sub-groups: records of the Gwalia District; records of the Aberystwyth District; records of the Dolgellau District; and records of the constituent lodges.

Conditions governing access: Medical certificates of lodge members claiming sickness benefit or insurance payments are closed (see file level descriptions). Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: Records which contain information more readily available elsewhere within the group, together with duplicates, have been destroyed.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated between 1949 and 1969 by Richard J. Ellis, Aberystwyth, District Secretary of the Gwalia Oddfellows, or deposited by the Independent Order of Oddfellows of the Manchester Unity Friendly Society per Richard J. Ellis in 1976. A small number of records were found in and removed from the personal papers of Richard J. Ellis which were donated by Dr Trevor Buckley in June 1978.


Related material: Some printed material relating to the Manchester Unity is also held by NLW including: Rules, 1860-1967 (with gaps), Welsh translations of Unity Rules, 1855-1905, Reports of Grand Master and Directors, 1868-1971 (with gaps), Lectures and Supplements, 1837-1935, Welsh translations of Lectures and Supplements, 1840-1866, Directories, 1968-1984, and Actuaries' reports, 1922-1960. A selection of records inherited by or submitted to the Registrar of Friendly Societies are held by The National Archives, Kew (Class FS). Further material relating to the Manchester Unity form part of the records of the Dovey Lodge held by the Meirionnydd Record Office (Z/DCP). Other related records are noted in the appropriate units of description.


Note: Some financial records, notably balance sheets, annual returns, ledgers and valuations, were drawn up some months after the period which they cover. Annual returns, for example, were compiled sometime between January and April of a given year, but they relate to the twelve months ending the previous December. To avoid confusion, especially in cases where items or files are lacking, the dates given for these records, at both series and file levels, are the dates covered and not the dates of creation.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Glyn Parry, Wil Williams and Mared Owen, and edited by Alwyn J. Roberts. The following source was used in the compilation of this description: Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Oddfellows: Directories and Annual Reports.

Rules or conventions: Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2008, edited June 2010.

Fraternal organizations | Wales | Cardiganshire | Records and correspondence
Fraternal organizations | Wales | Merionethshire | Records and correspondence
Independent Order of Odd Fellows | Records and correspondence
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. | Manchester Unity Friendly Society. | Gwalia District | Records and correspondence
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. | Manchester Unity | Records and correspondence

Personal names

Corporate names
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Independent Order of Odd Fellows | Manchester Unity
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. | Manchester Unity Friendly Society. | Gwalia District


List of repositories  |  List of collections at National Library of Wales  |  Repository home page  |  Contact details