1. The Birth of Two Fraternal Orders

In the early days of Odd Fellowship, the seeds of two fraternal orders, the ‘Patriotic Order’ and the ‘Ancient Order,’ were sown. The ‘Patriotic Order’s’ existence is authenticated by the discovery of rituals revised during a 1797 Grand Lodge meeting in London.

2. The ‘Amicable Lodge’ and Ambiguities

The official record of the Order’s inception is found in the Bond of Union, which was employed to establish ‘Amicable Lodge’ in Sheffield on January 6, 1798. However, this date is met with some doubt, as historical publications indicate that ‘Amicable Lodge’ declared its independence in 1813.

3. The Oldest Branch Friendly Society

Irrespective of the founding date, the Grand United Order of Oddfellows holds the distinction of being the oldest Branch Friendly Society. Early days were rife with conflicts between the Grand Lodge and the Branches, leading to a schism in 1810, giving rise to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (Manchester Unity) Friendly Society.

4. Divisions and New Orders

Subsequent divisions within the parent Order and the new Order led to the formation of additional Odd Fellows Orders. In 1832, various lodges seceded to establish the Ancient & Noble (Bolton Unity), dissolving in 1962. Meanwhile, the Nottingham Odd Fellows emerged from the New Order.

5. Resolving Disagreements and Governance Changes

Disagreements over undemocratic Rule revisions hindered membership growth. Eventually, these issues were resolved through the establishment of a biennial delegate General Meeting with the authority to make or amend rules and appoint a central committee (Board of Directors) for administration between meetings, now held annually as the Annual Moveable Conference.

6. Early Membership and Expansion

Membership initially focused on safeguarding family interests during times of sickness and adversity when the State did not provide such support. Between 1912 and 1948, the Order administered State Benefits. Branch meetings also served as training grounds for members with political aspirations, offering a sense of belonging and fraternity.

7. Open Membership and Leadership Opportunities

The Grand United Order of Oddfellows takes pride in its inclusive membership policy, without artificial barriers. Any member has the opportunity to ascend to key leadership positions within the Order, including the esteemed office of Grand Master.

8. Spreading “Friendship, Love, and Truth” Worldwide

The motto and watchwords “Friendship, Love, and Truth” transcended borders, and traveling members established branches overseas. Sub-Committees of Management were formed in America by Peter Ogden in 1843, comprising 50 main lodges and 56 Household of Ruth lodges, boasting nearly 1000 members. Similar committees were established in Africa and Australia, further expanding the Order’s global presence.


  • Odd Fellows
  • Grand lodge
  • Independent Order of Odd Fellows
  • Independent Order
    of Oddfellows Manchester Unity
  • John Wilkes
  • Sir George Savile,
  • 8th Baronet
  • Thomas Wildey
  • Peter Ogden
  • Schuyler Colfax
  • James L. Ridgely

The Grand United Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society (GUOOFS) is a venerable institution, established in 1798, with its headquarters located in Manchester, England.

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