Charlesworth Cow Club

Charlesworth is a rural village in Derbyshire. Whilst not wishing to offend anyone who lives in this obviously great village, I had never heard of it. That is until I discovered the Charlesworth Cow Club (hence the reason the village is “obviously great”; I mean come on… it’s a Cow Club!)

Joking aside Cow Clubs were not that uncommon in the 19th century. They provided a specific form of insurance for cow farmers. Members paid in a certain amount of money to the society and were recompensed if one of their cows died or was “incurable”. In the case of Charlesworth members paid in two shillings per cow and received eight pounds in return when after a cow died or was deemed “incurable” (i.e. dried up or was terminally ill). After the farmers had been recompensed for their animal, the cow belonged to the society who state in their rules that that they would then “make the most of her” (I can feel the shudders of vegan and vegetarians).

The existence of this society and others similar (such as Clothes Clubs) prove that 100% new ideas truly are hard to come by. When I came across this form of micro insurance the micro credit unions established by Muhammad Yunus immediately came to mind (Yunus has helped set up credit unions who, to this date, haven given small loans to seven million of the world’s poor).

Societies such as these are truly “bottom up” ventures; there help people help themselves and are ultimately helping the wider community. Certainly the Twenty Third Rule of the Charlesworth Cow Club is a testimony to this; they are aiming to pursue “Order and Goodwill” amongst themselves as well as “peace, success and order.”

D370/1/1, Derbyshire Record Office

Rules of the Charlesworth Cow Club, 1879 (D370/1/1)

Researched and written by Charlotte Gregory, Work Placement Student, Jan-Mar 2015

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