The Fund has over 40 volumes of various sorts containing information about the Fund and its members. These are Subscription Books, Books of Proceedings, Cash Books, Ledgers, Journals, a Letter Book and Rule Books. Some are original volumes written by the Secretary and others are duplicate volumes or notebooks.
Although the Fund was founded in 1766 a number of years had to pass before there was enough money to pay the first annuities. Most of the information begins at 1775.
There is an unexplained gap in the reports of Proceedings from 9th June 1800 until 19th June 1802. In the early years of the 19th century the Minutes are often very brief and during the time that the Theatre was being rebuilt after the fire of 1809 there is very little information. Many members left the Fund during the years 1809 - 1812 because life was especially hard and the Fund's very existence was in jeopardy during the Napoleonic wars. After 1818 when fund-raising Dinners became an annual event things gradually returned to normal.
The Committee is always made up of members who are generally working actors and stage managers. John Hughes, who was the Secretary from 1819 - 1840 was massively overworked. He would have been in many new plays and farces each season which entailed rehearsals and at the time of the annual Dinner he would have to write a huge number of letters as well as coping with weekly and even daily Fund meetings just before the event. He was also a great friend of Edmund Kean, who was then Master of the Fund, and had to spend time on his business too. It is very lucky that he found time to produce any Minutes at all, scant as they are.
Presented to Robert Stanton.
Designed and made by Mr Alan Bickley
Tragically, there are almost no original letters in the Archive before the mid 1900's. Most correspondence was written in to the proceedings books but sometimes only a report that a letter had been received is there with a brief precis of its contents.
The current Archivist, Jennie Walton, has been working for many years trying to find more information on the members of the Fund going back to 1800. The members up to this date are well covered in the 16 volume Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660 - 1800.
This is a never ending task and any help that visitors to this site may be able to give would be much appreciated