An interesting George III silver Jewel for the Tewkesbury Lodge of Oddfellows.
A George III silver Jewel for the Tewkesbury Lodge of Oddfellows, Number 5, ‘Holland Griffith No. 32‘, London 1792, by Peter and Ann Bateman.
The reverse of the jewel is engraved with a coat-of-arms for Peter Moore and his wife, Sarah, the daughter of Lt. Col. Richmond Webb.
Holland Griffith [1756-1839] was the son of John Griffith of Carreglwyd, Anglesey [died 1776] and his wife, Mary [Trygarn]. Holland married Mary Potter, daughter of John Potter, the Rector of Badgworth, Somerset. The reason for Holland Griffith’s membership of the Tewkesbury Lodge of Oddfellows remains unclear. Griffith had a home near Bristol, Knowle Lodge, as well as his home in Carreglwyd but had no obvious connection with Tewkesbury.
The earliest Oddfellows lodges seem to have been quasi-masonic convivial societies, rather than the friendly societies that they became in the early 19th century. In 1789, a humorous print by the artist Samuel Collins, engraved by Barlow, was published depicting a meeting of an oddfellows club but there are very few verifiable references to oddfellows clubs prior to the publication in the ‘Publick Advertiser‘ of July 27th 1790 of an account of a meeting of the ‘Grand Original Lodge of Oddfellows, held at Brother Watt’s, the Cock, Old-street-square‘ in London. A further advertisement on January 14th 1793 declared the loyalty of the Grand United Lodge of Oddfellows, meeting at Mr. Lea’s, the Ben Johnson’s Head, in Great Wild Street, London, to the King and Constitution. In July of the same year, the ‘Morning Chronicle‘ carried an advertisement recording the Union of the Imperial and United Lodges of Oddfellows in London. No reference is made to Oddfellows lodges in the country.
Peter Moore, 1753-1828, whose arms appear engraved on the obverse of the jewel, made a fortune in India, having arrived in Bengal in 1769. He returned to England in 1789 and bought the manor of Hadley in Middlesex, soon afterwards looking for an opportunity to enter parliament. In 1792, Sir William Coddrington, M.P. for Tewkesbury, died and Moore visited Tewkesbury to explore the possibility of standing for the vacant seat. The Reverend William Smith, rector of Birtsmorton, and a resident of Tewkesbury, supported Moore’s cause. Moore evidently promised £20-£30,000 for the benefit of the electors. He had no direct connection with Tewkesbury, his nearest link being the family of his mother-in-law, Sarah Webb, the daughter of Jeremiah Griffith [died 1759] of Downton House in Radnor on the western edge of Herefordshire. In the event, Moore did not stand in 1792 but did stand in 1796, when he was soundly defeated. Eventually, Moore became M.P. for Coventry. There was clearly a very strong opposition to candidates from outside the lovcality of Tewkesbury who attempted to stand for the seat.
The Tewkesbury Oddfellows clearly offered an opportunity for Moore in 1792 to explore connections which might be useful in the event of his standing for the seat.
For a fascinating account of the local politics of Tewkesbury at this time, see ‘Ripples From the French Revolution in Tewkesbury‘, by Derek Benson of the Tewkesbury Historical Society [Bulletin 23, March 2014]. My thanks to Derek Benson for further comments on Moore’s activities in Tewkesbury. See also an account of Peter Moore’s life in the History of Parliament [online].
Length – 5.50 cm.; Width – 3.70 cm.; Weight – 20.20 gms.