The Norwich Mercury of 11th November 1876 reported that a branch of the Universal Beneficent Society was formed in Great Ellingham under the patronage of the Marquis Townshend on the 3rd October.
The object of the society was to relieve the poor and needy in the parish of Great Ellingham. A membership fee was payable, with a one shilling entrance fee and an annual payment of one shilling.
The society was unconnected with any place of worship and the report stated that the society would help church people and dissenters alike.
Public Inauguration Meeting
A meeting open to the public to inaugurate the society and to enrol members was held at the Board School at the beginning of November 1876.
The Chair, the Reverend J Toll (Baptist Minister) explained the nature and object of the society. The newspaper reported that “the meeting was well attended and all seemed to think that the society will be a good thing for the parish”.
At the close of the meeting a “hearty vote of thanks was given to the noble Marquess for his assistance and the Chairman for his exertions in bringing the society into existence”.
The committee officers of the society were: The Reverend J Toll, Messrs W Lebbell, J Lane, G Butler, T Wilby, J Ashby and J Berry.
Norwich Mercury 11th November 1876