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The Tradition of Budget Parties

The Budget, which is primarily a correspondence circle, has over the years provided the basis on which Cousinly Parties have been organised. These grew from a tradition of such gatherings in and around the Birmingham area in the late 19th and early 20th Century, involving many interlinked branches of the family, many of whom were still Quakers. More recently, they have been held on notable anniversaries of the Budget's birthday. Humphrey Lloyd wrote a short history which is reproduced here with later additions. Notes and pictures of recent parties are available.

Recent Parties 1999: Putney 2004: Colwall 2007: Kew
Written by Humphrey Lloyd in 1968

The Budget and the Parties of the Past

Looking back on the 1968 party at Areley for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Lord's Meade Budget one is led to think not only of its Founder, Cousin May Fox of Wellington who started the Budget in 1893 or of those who have written and read its letters all these years, our parents and in some cases our grandparents, but also of the tradition of family gatherings to which this party belongs.

Probably it is due to many long-forgotten forebears that we sometimes have the impulse, not unlike that of writing home after notable occasions, to make some special note or record while such events are fresh in mind. Where cousinly parties are concerned this impulse has been at work in our families for at least a hundred years and must already have been rooted in the traditions of a hundred years before that. Ever since the Quaker way of doing things became established such excellent records have been made and handed down that a recording attitude has been transmitted, and it may be partly due to this that we have, some of us, in private drawers and treasure boxes, the records of past gatherings going back at least to our grandfathers' times. Another tradition in the Quaker stock, stronger perhaps among nonconformist families than elsewhere, is that of having cousins parties at all, of knowing your relations and liking to get them together. And it seems that these two instincts, to meet and to record, have a lot to do with the party habits which some people outside the family think so odd.

Cousinly gatherings have not been all of one kind. They have changed with circumstances from one generation to another and will doubtless continue to do so. The simplest kind is probably the large wedding, a form of assembly which always has brought people together. The Quakers made records of these too. The Quaker marriage certificate with its long columns of signatures provides a record which can take you back at a glance into any such assembly in the last three hundred years. You have only to go, for instance, to the library of the Society of Friends and pick out the right certificate from the manuscripts there to be present in spirit at any one of many ancestral marriage parties, right back to that of Charles Lloyd of Dolobran in the days of the Quaker persecutions.

As time moves on, milestones in the succession of family gatherings may be singled out. At the marriage of Rachel Lloyd of Farm in 1776 to the rather imposing David Barclay from London the record tells us how the drawing room of Farm itself was enlarged to accommodate the party that was expected. Again, at the marriage of George Lloyd, a future head of the family, to Mary Dearman at Birmingham in 1819 nearly every cousin you ever heard of signed the certificate both from the Farm branch and from the Bingley branch; and the plum-coloured suit that the bridegroom wore is still preserved, suggesting to posterity that the Quaker grey at that stage had perhaps become a little flushed.

During the last hundred years cousinly parties naturally continued to include large wedding gatherings but at various times they have also taken the form of Christmas Parties, Tennis Tournaments, 80th Birthday Parties, 21st Birthday Parties, The Cousins Party of 1914, Dances, Lord's Meade Budget Parties and now Areley. All these are in the tradition, each fresh generation deciding what form they are to take.

One of the earliest of those for which we all know the evidence, on the Howard side, is the wedding of two Tottenham daughters to two Lloyds in 1867. At this time of day the wedding group that some of us have has become a social document and a family record rolled into one. Another early record in the drawer is that of the Christmas Party of 1887, organised by Birmingham cousins for descendants of Samuel and Rachel Lloyd and held at the John Edward Wilson's, at Wyddrington. Those running it included the Farm Lloyds, the Wilsons and the young John Henry Lloyd. The printed souvenir offers an account of the party and a comprehensive Tree. Again, another kind of party,there was the ambitious gathering of 1893 when ‘dear aunt Edward’, herself childless, brought together at a hotel in Malvern all the grown-up descendants of John Eliot Howard for a weekend of evangelical inspiration and of this again the photograph exists, surely the earliest Lord's Meade party not held at Lord's Meade. It was at about this stage, as we know from our fathers and mothers, that those famous tennis tournaments were taking place on the cousinly courts at Birmingham at which the younger members of the circle all got to know each other so well. The pre-war chapter reached its climax with the Cousins' Party of 1 January 1914 which a fair number of us still remember. Planned and carried out by Lloyds, Wilsons and Albrights, it seems to have been inspired by the appearance of the stud-book, in its original form, not long before. As a result new souvenirs were added to the family collections, notably the pullout pedigree in the dark red container and the silhouettes of the sons and daughters of Samuel and Rachel Lloyd which accompanied it - by John Henry Lloyd again.

After that War a new golden age of cousins' parties unrolled itself. Starting with Molly Fox's 21st birthday dance in 1921 there followed the classic succession of the post-war tennis tournaments. From Wellington more than once, from Edgbaston, from Chislehurst, all through the 1920's those envied invitations were received, if you were the right age to be invited. On Cousin Howard Fox, it seemed, was now falling the mantle of John Henry. But John Henry, old now, still appeared, and ran a tournament himself in 1926, and he had found time in between whiles for an 80th birthday party for Cousin Anna Lloyd as well. Then came the 1930's in which there were sectional gatherings in parts of the family, we know, but there does not seem to have been any general tournament or great party after that of 1932 at Wellington, remembered by some of us as `the married tournament', and then followed-another War.

This brings us to our own day when few any longer have well-to-do tennis courts, large houses or plentiful staff but cousins parties have simply changed their look. One indeed was arranged on traditional lines, the Cousins' Tournament at Ipswich in 1949. But times change and also in the course of nature the circle grows larger. Since 1949 there has been a pause for breath and for accommodation to new scales. In its way the Lord's Meade Budget, with its strands of Howard, Fox and Lloyd, may have done its bit to keep the tradition alight. When it was discovered by chance that the Budget was going to be 60 years old the 1953 Budget Party at Cheltenham was planned. Ten years later there was a party in London for its seventieth anniversary and in 1968 at Areley for its seventy-fifth. How much we owe to the William Lloyds not only for giving such a party in their own house but for their initiative in enlarging it from the Budget Party it was to be into the Cousins' Party which it became. Who can doubt that it renewed again this long tradition of cousins gatherings, so many of them recorded and not without their Quaker start, or deny it a tribute and a record of its own.

Written by Crewdson Lloyd in 1988 and 1993 Humphrey Lloyd died in 1975, and the mantle fell upon his eldest son Crewdson, often working jointly with Humphrey's brother Raymond and with Janet Kirkwood. So the story continues...

To bring the record up to date we recall with pleasure the party given by Janet Kirkwood at Kidnam's Farm, Whitminster, in July 1978 to mark the EIGHTY-FIFTH anniversary and the lunch party at Exeter College, Oxford, in September 1983 which marked the NINETIETH anniversary.

The NINETY-FIFTH anniversary was marked by the party held at Shiplake College on 16 July 1988 thanks to Peter and Diana Lapping. 4th September 1993 saw the CENTENARY of the Lord’s Meade Budget. A large party was held at The Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, which was attended by about 250 cousins.

Written by Richard Lloyd from 2004 onwards Janet and Crewdson both died in 1999; the mantle of the scribe has since fallen on Humphrey’s nephew and godson, Richard Lloyd, and so the story continues...

One should add to the above list of events the party held in November 1972 at the Science Museum in Kensington to mark the Bicentenary of the birth of Luke Howard.

On 10 July 1999, a party was hosted by Andrew and Hermione Gerry at Hermione’s school in Putney. This was targeted at "the younger cousins" – families largely under 40 in age with children – about 100 in all. It took the form of a do-it-yourself picnic. At this time, the idea of using the Internet for linking a wider grouping of the cousins together was launched. (See picture and lists)

On 29 May 2004, another school, The Downs, in Colwall, near Malvern, was the venue for a gathering of about 160 organised by Ian and Angela Beer, supported by Alan Lloyd and Susan Humphreys. This was a "hybrid" party, not strictly "Budget", though around half those attending were from Budget families; members of the Somervell and Hoyland families with some other Lloyds added a new dimension - or rather harked back to the wider gatherings of the earlier era. (See pictures and transcripts of talks)

On 15th September 2007, again about 160 cousins gathered to celebrate the Bicentenary of the birth of John Eliot Howard in December 1807. This took place in Kew Gardens, with the support and involvement of Dr Mark Nesbitt of its Centre for Economic Botany , who is researching the development of the use of Cinchona barks to produce Quinine. The party was organised by Bridget Drummond and Mado Phillips, and began with a 2 hour cruise on the Thames from The Embankment Pier to Kew, and the whole event was bathed in glorious sunshine! (See The Kew Page for pictures and other information about the day) 

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