Cosgrove Girls’ Friendly Society



The core values of the GFS, which was a national movement started in 1875, aimed at high moral standards for its members; they attempted to supply for every working girl of unblemished character a friend in a class above her own. There were two classes of membership: the working class girls, known as members, and the ladies, called associates. Both classes paid annual subscription fees tailored for their class, half of which went to the local group and half to the central office. Associates provided "recreation rooms" often in parish facilities, although sometimes in their own homes, where working-class girls could meet with associates and each other, read, sew, sing, and enjoy simple refreshments.

The GFS was not a participant in the women's suffrage movement in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

In 1901 in Cosgrove, Mrs Atkinson at the Priory started a branch for girls who were mostly teenagers when the group began. They may have met at the Priory sometimes but mostly held groups in the Old School building. They paid 1/- each year to cover small expenses.

The first group included Mary Atkinson, the daughter of the Priory, Maggie Bull, who we can see from the census may have been a laundress, working from home, seven girls who were recorded as doing “Home Duties”, seven girls who were at work, and seven who were in service locally. It was common at the time for village girls to leave school and work at home for a time before going into service.

The youngest members were 15 years old and the oldest was Mary Clarke, who was a farmer’s daughter. This group must have been a great social event for girls who were away from home in service, isolated on farms, or simply bored with working or engaging in domestic work at home. Certainly from the register we can see that the girls out at work didn’t stay in the group very long.

The first cohort stayed in the Society until 1906, when there was a break in the records. When it re-started in 1909 it was with a much younger core group with girls as young as 11, getting ready to leave school. In the next few years only three of the original group stayed on, including the faithful Maggie Bull and Mary Atkinson. In this period a system of candidature was introduce whereby younger girls were introduced to the Society but were not full members until the following year.

Girls from the same family often joined at a similar time, although they didn’t always stay in the Society. Village families like the Jelleys, the Eglesfields and the Bushells all sent their girls to the group and Mrs Jelley eventually became an associate.

From 1915 some of the older members, now in their 30s, were designated as associates. The Society required these to be “ladies” rather than working class girls, and they were assumed to be the organisers of the groups. However, these ladies did not generally stay very long, possibly marrying or moving away, and by the 1920s Mrs Atkinson, Mary Atkinson and Mrs Jelley were the stalwarts carrying on the Society’s work.

The exception was Maggie Bull, who, as a working class girl started as an ordinary member at 17 and stayed with the Society until 1930, when it appears to have closed, by which time she would have been 46 years old. She was never made an associate, presumably because of the class rules at the time, but we know that she ended her days as an old lady living at Ivy Cottage on Priory Lane, where she was respected and looked after by local residents like the Tompkins family.


Published 1899

Below is a chart of the register for the Society. You will need to scroll across to the right to see which years each girl was registered for.

First Name Surname d.o.b. Occupation Dates                                               Address
                                                         
Mrs Atkinson   Started the Society                       associate a a a a a a a a a a a  
Mary Atkinson 1884 Home Duties 1901 1902                   associate a a a a a a a a a a a Priory
Maggie Bull 1884 1901 Home Duties, 1905 Service 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906  1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1929 1930 Cottage
Alice Bianchi 1880 Home Duties 1901 1902   1904 1905 moved to America                                      
Mary Clarke 1875 Home Duties 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906 1909 1911 1912     associate left                      
Kate Noble 1885 1901 Works, 1904 Service 1901 1902   1904 1905                                        
Sidella Gee 1880 Dressmaker 1901 1902   1904 1905                                        
Carrie  Toombs 1885 1901 Dressmaker, 1904 Service 1901 1902     1905 1906 1909                                    
Lizzie Haynes 1886 Service 1901 left                                              
Florrie Smith 1886 Works 1901 1902   1904 1905 left                                     Wolverton
Kate Lyman 1883 Home Duties 1901 left                                              
Gertie Willison 1884 1901 Home Duties, 1905 Business 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906 left                                    
Florrie Horn 1884 Works 1901 1902   1904                                          
Theodora  Valentine 1883 1901 Home Duties, 1905 Teacher 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906 married                                    
Lizzie Nicholls 1887 Service 1901 1902   1904 1905 left                                      
Lucy Atkins  1883 Service 1901 1902   withdrawn                                          
Sophie Herbert 1883 Works 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906 1909                                   Hanslope
Minnie Pitham 1882 Works 1901 1902                                              
Louisa Horn 1885 Works 1901 1902   1904                                          
Elizabeth Woodcock 1882   1901                                                
Mabel Jelley 1885 Service 1901 1902   withdrawn                                          
Gertude Payne 1885 Service 1901 1902                                              
Lizzie Litchfield 1884 Service 1901 1902                                              
Emma Bridmore 1885 Service 1901 1902                                              
Maud Luck 1886 1901 Home Duties, 1905 Service (Hall) 1901 1902   1904 1905 1906 left                                    
Sarah Pitham 1881 Works 1901 1902   1904 1905 withdrawn                                   Old Stratford
A Gertrude Atkins 1889 Works   1902 withdrawn                                            
Fanny Bayley ? 1889 Home Duties   1902   withdrawn                                          
Lillie Bushell 1889 Home Duties   1902   1904 1905 1906 1909 left                                  
Lizzie Noble 1889 Home Duties   1902   1904 1905 1906 died                                    
Winifred Gee 1890 1902 Home Duties, 1905 Dressmaker   1902   1904 1905 1906 1909 left                                  
Lucy Nicholls   Service   1902   1904 1905 left                                      
May Luck 1882 Service   1902   1904 1905 1906                                      
Lizzie Lambert 1891 1905 Service     1903 1904 1905 1906                                      
Nellie Childs 1891 1905 Home Duties     1903 1904 1905 1906   1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916                        
Ellen Arthur   Service                                                  
Lizzie Bushell 1889 Home Duties       1904 1905 1906                                      
Amy Bushell 1889 Home Duties       1904 1905                                        
Mary Percival 1883 Service       1904 1905 left                                     Cosgrove Hall
Rose Garratt   Service         1905 c left                                     Cottage
Mary Luck 1891 Service         1905 c 1906 1909                                    
Connie Jelley 1892 Home Duties         1905 c 1906 1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 associate left                      
Ada Johnson 1892 1905 Home Duties, 1906 Factories         1905 c 1906 left                                    
Minnie Lambert 1892 1905 Home Duties, 1909 Service         1905 c 1906 left                                    
Elsie Wootton 1892 1905 Home Duties, 1906 Service         1905 c 1906 left                                    
Bertha Brown 1892 1905 Home Duties, 1906 Works         1905 c 1906 1909                                    
Edith Brown   Home Duties         1905 c left                                      
Edith Bushell   Home Duties         1905 c left                                      
Jinnie Panter   Service Cosgrove Priory         1905 c 1906                                     Old Stratford
Kate Bushell 1893 Home Duties         1905 c 1906                                      
Lillie Holloway 1892 Service, Potterspury         1905 c 1906 left                                    
Elsie Shingles 1892 Home Duties         1905 c 1906 left                                    
Amy Rainbow 1895 Home Duties           1906 c                                      
Annie Jelley 1894 Home Duties           1906 c left                                    
Edith Johnson   Service             1909                                    
Edith Morrall   Home Duties             1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 left                          
Fanny Jelley 1896 Home Duties             1909 1911 left                                
Ellen Swain 1898 Home Duties             1909                                    
Lizzie Littleman 1896 Home Duties             1909 1911 1912 1913 1914                            
Olive Brown 1894 Home Duties             1909 1911 left                                
Dorrie Adkins 1897 1909 Home Duties, 1912 Service             1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915                          
May Stonton 1896 Home Duties             1909                                    
Winifred Tack   Home Duties             1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915                          
Charlotte Almond   Service             1909                                    
Daisy Johnson                 1909 1911 1912                                
Mary Hillyer   Home Duties             1909 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916                        
Gertrude Jelley 1895                 1911 c   1913 1914 1915                          
Alice Williams 1895                 1911 c   1913 1914 1915 1916                        
Gladys Wise 1899                 1911 c   1913 1914 1915 1916 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924            
Daisy Pettifer 1899                 1911 c   1913 1914 1915                          
Winifred Childs 1891                 1911 c   1913 c 1914 1915 1916                        
Georgie Wilson 1899                 1911 c   1913 1914 1915 1916 1919 1920 1921 1922 left              
Mabel Hobbs 1883 Service                 1912                                
Minnie Burnell?                       1913 1914   1916                        
Mabel Popham 1889                     1913 1914 associate left                      
Elsie Canham                       1913 c 1914                            
Norah Brown                       1913 c 1914 1915   1919                      
Gertie Noble                       1913 c 1914 1915                          
Sarah Burnell                        1913 c                              
Irene Jelley                       1913 c 1914 1915 1916 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Florence Eglesfield                       1913 c                              
Alice Floate 1895 Service                 Transferred in 1914                           The Cottage
Miss Buthrum                             associate left                    
Mrs M Jelley                             assoc a a a a a a a a a a  
Dot Eglesfield                           1915 c 1916 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Doris Brown                               1919 1920 1921 1922 left              
Myrtle Barby                               1919   1921 1922 1923 1924            
Ida Beasley                               1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Annie Hurst                               1919 1920                    
Lottie Jelley                               1919 1920 1921 1922   1924 left          
M F  Noble                               1919                      
Olive Eglesfield                               1919 c 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925          
Ethel Barby                                 1920                    
Mona Clarke                                 1920 1921 1922 left              
Lily Hall                                 1920 1921 1922 left              
Dora Williams                                 1920 1921                  
Miss Wagdelin                                   associate left                
Dorothy Jelley                                   1921 c 1922 1923 1924            
Phyllis Gascoyne                                     1922 c 1923 left            
Elsie Barby                                     1922 c 1923 1924   1926 1927      
Muriel Eglesfield                                     1922 c 1923 1924 1925          
Lizzie Williams                                     1922 c 1923              
Iris Lord                                     1922 c 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Lily Bushell                                     1922 c 1923 1924     1927      
Nancy Hillyer                                     1922 c 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Nellie Wilcox                                       1923 c 1924            
Edna Meakins                                       1923 c 1924 1925          
Bessie Noble                                       1923 c 1924   1926 1927      
Gladys Lord                                       1923 c 1924 1925 1926 1927      
Alice Nunn                                         1924            
Dorothy Eglesfield                                         1924   1926 1927 1929 1930  
Louisa Gascoyne                                         1924 1925          
Mrs Stockton                                           associate a a a  
Maud Barby                                           1925          
Florrie Noble                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Hilda Castle                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Edith Kightley                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Florrie Hall                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Dorothy Giles                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Joan Higgins                                             1926 1927 1929 1930  
Lucy Scott                                               1927 1929 1930  
Gladys Gascoyne                                               1927 1929 1930  
Dorothy Higgins                                               1927 1929 1930  
Ivy Williams                                               1927 c 1929 1930  
Agnes Noble                                               1927 c 1929 1930  
Violet Ashby                                                 1929 1930  


Wolverton Express 11th November, 1927

Cosgrove

Whist Drive: The Girls’ Friendly Society held an enjoyable whist drive in the Old Schools on Friday evening.  About 60 took part, and the duties of MC were discharged by the Rev. J. Stockton.  The prizewinners were: Ladies: 1 (cut glass jug given by Mrs M. Atkinson) Mr. W Swain (181), 2 (fruit dish given by Miss M. Atkinson) Miss B Tack (172), booby prize (bottle of scent given by Mrs Stockton) Mr. C Knight (132).  Gentlemen: 1 (hall set given by Mrs. C. Compton, Wolverton) Mr. A Noble (172), 2 (scarf given by Mr. S Eglesfield) Mr. E Eglesfield (164) after a cut with two others; booby prize (50 cigarettes given by Mrs Stockton) Mr. W. Sanders (139).  Miss M. Atkinson was responsible for the arrangements, assisted by members of the society.  The sum of about £3.00 was raised as the result of the drive, for the GFS funds.