Height 19 ¼ inches Width 27 ½ inches Depth 18 inches
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A mahogany strong box made for the Ovenden Female Society, Instituted May 1809, of deep rectangular form with a hinged lid, three brass locks, brass carrying handles and an applied brass plaque stating, ‘Ovenden Female Society, Instituted May 1809.’ English.
The Ramsden family connection
This fascinating box is known to have been owned by a member of the Ramsden brewing family in Halifax and our research has discovered a long link between the family and the Ovenden Female Benefit Society. The Society’s founder, Elizabeth Wadsworth, chose the Reverend Edward Ramsden to conduct the early services for the Society’s membership. Extracts from Wadsworth’s diaries were published in a series of articles in the Halifax Evening Courier newspaper in 1945 and one such extract, published on the 1st of December of that year, records events from 1821 when Ramsden “preached at Illingworth Chapel both morning and afternoon” on the 3rd of June and on the 12th of June Ramsden “officiated again…drank tea with us at David Walton’s and gave a donation of £1 to the sick fund”. Later in her life, Miss Wadsworth sought to have a church built closer to Ovenden itself and this church was eventually completed in 1838-a year after her death. Edward Ramsden was executor of her will and was also given the role of reverend at the church upon its official opening later that year.
When Edward Ramsden died in 1853 he left no children of his own so his estates descended through other family lines to the Ramsden brewing family. The most successful member of this family was John Taylor Ramsden who was responsible for the expansion of the brewery in to a very successful national concern. A newspaper report published in the Halifax Evening Courier on the 12th of June 1911 records a “Mr J. T. Ramsden” as treasurer of the Ovenden Female Benefit Society and it is highly likely that this box was used as part of that role and was retained by the family upon the closure of the society. In 1911 the Society had 95 members and a cash balance for the year of £1423 0s 7d, with “the average worth per member” being £14 19s 6d.
The society existed for some 100 years and the benefits to the local area over that time must have been incalculable. This box is a truly fascinating piece of social history.
For more information read our blog entry on The Ramsden family connection
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A mahogany strong box made for the Ovenden Female Society, Instituted May 1809