The second edition of our funeral plan blog starts with the Victorians and their ideas for funeral plans
Now this is the time that we really saw funeral plan ideas beginning to be laid down.
The Victorians were highly conscious of the need for a ‘respectable’ funeral. They feared the prospect of a ‘pauper’s burial’ for themselves and for a loved one. People who died in the workhouse, or whose family could not afford a proper funeral, were given a pauper’s burial, with no service and no headstone to mark their grave.
It was seen as a great shame to have a pauper’s burial, but in a culture where the death rate was high and wages were low, many working class families were anxious to secure the funds for a decent funeral, so that they could mark their loved ones death.
This is where something known as ‘burial clubs’ came in. Similar to the idea of guilds, burial clubs allowed working class families to make small payments each week and in return they would have all funeral costs paid for upon the death of a family member.
It didn’t matter how long the family had been paying into the burial club fund, they would still receive financial help to give their loved one a full, respectable funeral.
Burial clubs allowed the poor to plan ahead for their funerals and, as a result, they quickly became incredibly popular.
“Burial club schemes, to which most working-class families subscribed, had long provided a model for thrift among the poor. Many friendly societies and trade unions ran sick relief schemes in conjunction with life insurance plans.
By the turn of the 20th century, a significant percentage of those in stable employment subscribed to a friendly society; at the end of 1904 approximately 19 million people held some form of death or sickness insurance.”
Unfortunately, burial clubs in Victorian Britain earned themselves a bad reputation for mismanagement and fraud. The government had to enforce strict legal controls by the end of the century to ensure poor families were not scammed into paying into false clubs, and that desperate families could not subscribe to two or more clubs to gain multiple pay-outs when someone died.
Keep an eye on our blog page to know more about funeral plans and the history.