Our History

The British Benevolent Society of California is a unique charity and social hub for Brits in the Bay Area. As a community, we provide aid and relief to British citizens in California, in times of dire need. Our support comes from generous donations, legacies and fundraising by members, and our community in California.

The British Benevolent Society has its roots dating back into the 1850s and 1860s when in San Francisco a number of doctors, professional men and merchants met with the British Consulate to organize medical help and financial relief for distressed British Nationals.

In 1858 this Relief Society was under the control of the Consulate, together with a Board of directors. The Consul and later the Consul-General served as President. The Consul-General continued as President until 1955 when the organization became independently run by the Board of Directors with its own nominated President.

William Lane Booker
(courtesy of Wikipedia)

On April 23rd 1858 with the British Consulate, Sir William Lane Booker, this group of individuals became known as the, “British Hospital and Relief Society”. As the organization became established and helped more individuals in need, it expanded and formalized into, “The British Benevolent Society of California, Inc.”, with a mission to assist British-born subjects in distress or sickness.

Today, “The British Benevolent Society of California, Inc.”, is a voluntary 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a Board of Directors controlling the distribution of funds. It plays a unique role in the British community in San Francisco and Northern California and is the only one of its kind to exist in the USA. It continues to enjoy cordial relations with the British Consulate-General particularly when special attention is needed with cases involving British nationals who have sought help through the San Francisco Consulate.

Did you know?

In 1985, the BBS created a “Visitor Program” to visit and aid shut-ins who were unable to reach out to the organization on their own.