Odd Fellows

262x262px Odd Fellows (or Oddfellows; also Odd Fellowship or Oddfellowship) is an international fraternity consisting of lodges first documented in 1730 in London. The first known lodge was called Loyal Aristarcus Lodge No. 9, suggesting there were earlier ones in the 18th century. Notwithstanding, convivial meetings were held "in much revelry and, often as not, the calling of the Watch to restore order." Names of several British pubs today suggest past Odd Fellows affiliations. In the mid-18th century, following the Jacobite risings, the fraternity split into the rivaling Order of Patriotic Oddfellows in southern England, favouring William III of England, and the Ancient Order of Oddfellows in northern England and Scotland, favouring the House of Stuart.

Odd Fellows from that time include John Wilkes (1725–1797) and Sir George Savile, 8th Baronet of Thornton (1726–1784), advocating civil liberties and reliefs, including Catholic emancipation. Political repressions such as the Unlawful Oaths Act (1797) and the Unlawful Societies Act (1799), resulted in neutral amalgamation of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows in 1798. Since then the fraternity has remained religiously and politically independent. George IV of the United Kingdom, admitted in 1780 while he was Prince of Wales, was the first documented of many Odd Fellows to also attend freemasonry, although the societies remain mutually independent.

In 1810, further instigations led to the establishment of the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity in England. Odd Fellows spread overseas, including formally chartering the fraternity in the United States in 1819. In 1842, due to British authorities intervening in the customs and ceremonies of British Odd Fellows and in light of post-colonial American sovereignty, the American Odd Fellows became independent as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows under British-American Thomas Wildey (1782–1861), soon constituting the largest sovereign grand lodge. Likewise, by the mid-19th century, the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity had become the largest and richest fraternal organisation in the United Kingdom.

Odd Fellows promote philanthropy, the ethic of reciprocity and charity; some grand lodges imply a Judeo-Christian affiliation. The American-based Independent Order of Odd Fellows enrolls some 600,000 members divided into approximately 10,000 lodges in thirty countries, and is interfraternally recognised by the British-based Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity. In total, members of all international branches combined are estimated in the millions worldwide. Provided by Wikipedia

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