Emily’s half brother, Dr. William Burke, was a member of the fraternity, the Odd Fellows. When he attended the Loyal Midland Lodge’s anniversary in 1883 he was admitted as an honorary member. He cited the same in the medical directories, perhaps to add prestige to his profile.
The Odd Fellows are, like the Freemasons and Foresters a friendly society that permits only male membership. When Emily’s brother was accepted into the fraternity in 1883, many of the medical profession were members. Reflected in the medical journals at the time, articles with titles such as “Friendly Societies And The Medical Profession. Statements Of The Friendly Societies, And The Facts As Ascertained”. There was also a air of distrust around such societies due to their secretive nature.
Provoked by the French Revolution, societies such as the Odd Fellows were classed as illegal. Informers sent in by the government were paid to infiltrate Lodges (branches). Secret signs and passwords were introduced to sort the real brothers from the imposters, as a matter of security. This tradition, which origin is not widely known is still used today, more as a tradition than necessity.
How the Odd Fellows Became the Odd Fellows
31 March 1883 – Barnsley Chronicle, etc. – Barnsley, Yorkshire, England
“Friendly Societies And The Medical Profession. Statements Of The Friendly Societies, And The Facts As Ascertained.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 1, no. 1956, 1898, pp. 1661–1662. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20255058.