Ancient Charges as adopted by the United Grand Lodge of England 1815, Memorial of a Masonic Union
Of the FUND of MASONIC BENEVOLENCE.
1. The fund appropriated to the object of masonic benevolence shall not be infringed on for any purpose, but shall be kept strictly and solely devoted to charity.
2. The distribution and application of this charitable fund shall be made monthly ; for which purpose a committee or lodge of benevolence shall be holden, on the third Wednesday of every month, which lodge shall consist of thirty-six masters of lodges, within the London district, three members of the grand stewards' lodge, and nine grand officers, one of whom shall act as president : the said masters of lodges, grand stewards, and grand officers, to be summoned by the choice and direction of the grand master or his deputy, one week at least prior to the day of meeting, not by rotation but by discretion, so that the members shall not be subject to canvas or to previous application, but shall have their minds free from pi'ejudice, to decide on the merits of each case with the impartiality and purity of masonic feeling. No member, therefore, shall vote upon the petition of any person to whom he is related or who is a member of the lodge to which he himself belongs, though such brother may be heard on the merits of the petition. No master of a lodge shall be summoned a second time until all the masters of the lodges in the London district shall have been once summoned.
3. No master shall be a member of the lodge of benevolence if his lodge has neglected to contribute to the funds of the grand lodge during the preceding twelve months.
4. If any brother summoned as a member of the lodge of benevolence do not attend, he shall be fined, as follows ; a grand officer or member of the grand stewards lodge, five shillings ; the master of a lodge, two shillings and sixpence ; to be applied to the fund of charity.
5. Applications for relief must be by petition, stating the name, occupation, place of abode, and present circumstances of the petitioner, together with the name and number of the lodge in which he was initiated, and the time when he was made a mason. The applicant, unless disabled by disease or accident, must sign his name to the petition.
6. To every petition must be added a recommendation, signed in open lodge, by the master, wardens, and a majority of the members then present, to which the petitioner does or did belong, or by some other contributing lodge, certifying (see the form at the end) that they have known him to have been in reputable or at least tolerable circumstances, and that he has been not less than two years a subscribing member to a regular lodge, with such other observations as they may think proper ; and the master or one of the wardens, or some member of the lodge, except it be a country petition, shall attend the committee, to speak to the truth of the statement set forth in the petition, and to certify that the signatures thereto are genuine.
7. No persons shall receive the benefit of this fund, but those who have been regularly initiated in a warranted lodge, who have paid the full consideration-fee, who have been registered in the books of the grand lodge, and who have continued members of a contributing lodge for at least two years, and have, during that period, paid their quarterly dues to the fund of benevolence. The limitation of two years, however, does not apply to the cases of shipwreck or capture at sea, loss by fire, or breaking or dislocating a limb, fully attested and proved.
8. No petition for relief shall be presented to the committee, unless it have been left with the grand secretary three days at least previous to their meeting.
9. No petition shall be read, unless the petitioner attend the committee in person, except in case of sickness, lameness, imprisonment, or residence in the country, beyond the London district.
10. A brother who has been once reheved, cannot petition a second timewithin one year.
1 1.. The committee may order the payment of any sum not exceeding ten pounds towards the relief of a distressed brother, whom they may think a proper object.
12. The committee may also grant any sum, not exceeding hve pounds, towards the relief of the indigent widow or orphan children of a deceased mason, who would himself have been qualified to receive assistance, provided that application be made to the committee within three months after the death of the husband or father, and that proper certificates and testimonials be produced. Should there be many children totally dependent on the widow, the grant may, at the discretion of the committee, be extended to any sum not exceeding ten pounds.