When officers of Ludlow's Palmers' Gild composed their reply to a royal inquiry into the state of English gilds in 1388–89, they included the following description of their organization's plan for assisting indigent brothers and sisters:
When it happens that any of the brothers or sisters of the gild shall have been brought to such want, through theft, fire, shipwreck, fall of a house, or any other mishap, that they have not enough to live on; then once, twice, and thrice, but not a fourth time, as much help shall be given to them, out of the goods of the gild, as the rector and stewards, having regard to the deserts of each, and to the means of the gild, shall order; so that whoever bears the name of this gild, shall be upraised again, through the ordinances, goods, and help of his fellows.
The same gild also offered aid to sick, aged, and wrongfully imprisoned members and set aside money for dowries so that daughters of families that had experienced unexpected misfortune might marry or enter nunneries.
The Palmers' Gild was a religious fraternity, a type of voluntary association that enjoyed tremendous popularity during the late Middle Ages. These gilds were lay associations of men and women that devoted themselves to a variety of religious and social undertakings. Unlike the more well known craft fraternities, religious gilds drew their members from a variety of professions and made no attempts at industrial regulation.