Early English Charities (National Institute)Edit This Page

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Poor Law and Parish Chest Records  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Contents

Introduction

Early charities were usual local ones benefitting the parish or town in which the benefactor lived, but others were to a hospital or guild that served a wider geographical area.

Worthy causes were mainly deemed to be assistance for the poor in the form of clothing, food, fuel, school fees or cash, provision of schools, schoolmasters and almshouses, upkeep of the church, and to pay the fees and new outfit of clothes needed for apprenticing orphans and pauper children, even to provide a marriage portion for a maid (Alexander). Benefactions may have been lifetime deeds of settlement, but most were of money, shares or land bequeathed by a will.

Charities are often listed in contemporary directories and local histories, and there is detailed information in the comprehensive summary of charities made in the early 19th century by a national commission. The latter does not give names of recipients but details of the benefactor and the charity itself.

Sources of Charity Income

Records are not always on paper or parchment. Charity boards dating from the 18-19th centuries still hang inside parish church towers or porches listing the charitable endowments of the parish. Some parish churches still have their dole cupboards in which bread was kept for distribution to the poor; a term which is preserved in the phraseon the dole.

Below shows an undated list of benefactors and benefactions found at the back of a Pew Book, normally used for recording rentals of the church pews.

Benefactors and Benefactions List of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Middlesex

Benefactor
Benefactions
Mr.    Charles Rampayne  By Deed gave several Tenements in the Broadway Let at £[no figure given] For setting boys apprentice 1st from the Grey Coat Hospital, 2nd from the Green Coat Hospital, 3rd from the Revd Mr Palmer’s Almshouses, and 4th from such as are chargeable to the Parish.
Mrs Katherine Dunch By Will gave £200 to be laid out in a Purchase of £10 per annum to be distributed to 10 Poor Widows of Saint Margaret Westminster.
NB Mr John Musgrave and Mr Jos Smith are the Trustees of this Charity and the Money is in Old South Sea Annuitys.


Extract from Will of John Mann, Whippingham, Isle of Wight, Hampshire 1706 FHL film 1526198

And All That Tree Farm Rent of Forty three Pounds eleven shillings and four Pence issuing out of the Grange of Lazenby in the County of York be paid and payable to or received by the Minister, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor for the time being of the Parish of Whippingham and the Parish of Northwood both in the said Isle of Wight and in the said County of Southton (that is to say), twenty three Pound to the Parish of Whippingham and the remainder being twenty three Pounds fifteen shillings to the Parish of Northwood, and by them and the rest of the Inhabitants in each District parish the major part of them shall from time be paid, laid out and disposed of in the first place for the maintenance, education and setting up or otherwise providing in the world of and for poor orphan children that shall be at East of West Cowes and after that to other poor children in the said Parishes at large, and after that to the maintenance and provision of poor ancient, Lame and impotent People within the said Parishes.


Charities Left in Graffham, Sussex 1598-1699 FHL film 0919112

                                             In perpetuam rei memoriam
Ann Hebberden
widow of Wicke in the Parish of Graffham deceased and was buried the 21 day of July An: Dom: 1598 and gave by will and Testament to the poor of this Parish five pounds for a stock to remaine for ever to be put out after one year after her decease to the same use by the discretion of the Parson or Parsons and by four of the choisest Householders of the said Parish to be distributed at the day of her Burial for the Poor.
Mr John Lancaster Parson of Graffham deceased was buryed the 25th day of .... An: Dom: 1607 and gave by will and Testament to the Poor of the said Parish five pounds for a stock to remain for ever; and the use thereof to be given yearly to the Poor of the said Parish at the Discretion of the Parson his successors and four of the chief of the said Parish, whereof the 2 Church-Wardens and 2 of the ...
Alice Smyth of Petersfield Widdow late deceased gave by her last Will and Testament to the Poor of our Parish of Graffton five pounds for a Stock to remain for ever, and the use thereof to be given yearly to the poor of the parish at the discretion of the Parson his successors and four of the chief men of the said Parish, whereof the 2 Church Wardens and 2 of them the said five pounds ... placed out on Saturday the 10th of November An: Dom: 1621.
Isaac Woodruffe M.A. Rector of Graffton at his death which happened at Michs 1698 gave forty shillings to the same Use and to be distributed after the same manner as is menc’ond above. All which summes are in the hands of W.... Wisdome malter of this Parish.
The Account of Ann Hebberden’s Gift I found in an old Book of Parish church accounts which I supposed written by Mr Lancaster above named. The Account of Mr Lancaster’s and Alice Smyth’s I found in the same old Book, both written by Mr Wm Stepnoth formerly Rector (?) of this Parish with his hand to both of them, to wch I added Mr Woodruffe’s on my .... Knowledge. I transcribed these Accounts word for word out of that old book. If it should happen to be lost, they who are concerned may have ye best Account that I could ever learn either by Writing or the Tradition of any of the parish.
          Jan 17 1699                                                  Geo: Goodwin Rect: ibid


This is accompanied by annual accounts of the disbursements to the needy, examples being shown below.

Church Ale

Another form of Middle Ages fund-raising for the maintenance of the parish church and the poor was the Church Ale, to which reference is occasionally found in parish materials. Home-brewed ales were sold in the nave of the church, or in a neighbouring church-house, some of which still survive from the 16th century. Church ales were mainly suppressed at the Reformation, but some of the church-houses became secular alehouses and may have had a name and sign reflecting the former clerical connection.

Similar fund raising social functions organized by the churchwardens were the bid ale, in aid of deserving persons in perhaps temporary distress, and the bride ale to help a young couple set up house. Another term seen in records is a harkye or harkey, which is a harvest supper announced in church at the official end of the harvest by the parson saying Hark ye...

Charity Disbursements

The records of recipients are usually in the parish chest until 1812 when they were then kept by the Clerk of the Peace and are thus more likely to be with the county records, but both of these are now in the county archives.

Mann Charity Disbursements 1708 FHL film 1526198

Distributions
£
s
d
To Mr Hornby for receiving the Laid money
1
3
0
To Mr Bowter for Poundage
0

1 1

6
To Wm Facey
1
0
0
To Michael Burfoott
1
0
0
To John How
1
0
0
To Wido Russell
0

1

0

0
To Wido Lassenger
0

1

0

0
Wido Larkins
0

1

5

0
To Wm Lodman
0
5
0
Wido Bigger
1
0
0
Wido Hasely
0
5
0
Paid Wm Mackett and Children Schooling
0

1

6

0
Paid Jon Purkesses Schooling 0 3 8
To Robt Howard
0
8
8
Paid for Stockens, mending the cloths and making ye Indentures of Jon Purkess when he was bound Apprentice
0
9
6
Paid for John Moryes schooling
0
8
7
Paid Joseph Baker at sevral times
7
4
0
To Thomas Browne
0

1

3

1

0

Expences in receiving ye money and making up ye acct
0
7

1

1

Due to balance on ye last acct
0

1

6

6

2

4

0
2


Mann Charity Disbursements 1726 FHL film 1526198

An Account how the Said Moneys has been Distributed £ s   d
To John Facey in the Small Pox   0   6   6
Widow Bartley Ditto   0   7   6
Edward Orchard Ditto   0   5   0
Widow Bartlet’s Children’s Schooling   0

 1

 7

  0
Apprenticing of Denton’s Boy   5

  1

  0

  0
Daniel Parker in the Small Pox   0   6   9
Richard Burt Ditto   0   7   6
Denton’s Children’s Schooling   0   7   6
Norrises Children’s Schooling   0   5   5
To Richard Burford   1   5   0
James Baker   1   5   0
Goodman Cuttler   1   5   0
Widow Bartlet   1   0   0
Goodman Orchard   0

  1

  0

  0
Widow Merredith   0

  1

  5

  0
Peter Sherrin   1   0   0
Widow Morren   0

  1

  0

  0
Palmer and his Daughter   0

  1

  5

  0
Widow Osman   0   5   0
Goodman Gilbert   0   5   0
Forder’s Daughter   0   5   0
William Legg    0   5   0
Widow Spragg   0   5   0
Daniel Parker   0   5   0
John Facey   0   6

  1

  0


  1

  8

  1

  5

  2
May 14 1726 Seen and allowed by us. Will: Stephens, A. Morgan


Discovery of a long run of years of charity disbursements can really help the researcher understand the family’s economic situation and relationships.

My 4th great grandparents John Allingham and his wife Elizabeth née Potter were considered deserving of a clothing charity given at Christmas time in the early 19th century. Their son William also received similar aid from 1821 to 1828, so he was in no position to assist his parents. Times were tough after the men came back from the Napoleonic Wars and agricultural wages were too low to support a family, with the resultant Swing Riots and eventual reforms. This sequence for my family provides further items for the three pieces of proof needed to document John’s death, (buried 12 Jan 1823) and his widow’s remarriage to William Crayford (7 Nov 1825).

Hadlow, Kent Parish Chest Poors Meads Charity Recipients FHL film 1,701,919

         Date                    Name                 Item
1817 John ALLINGHAM 2 changes - children
1818 John ALLINGHAM 1 change
1819 John ALLINGHAM 1 change and 1 pair of hose
1820 John ALLINGHAM 1 change and 1 pair of hose
1821 18 Dec John ALLINGHAM 2 changes - children
1822 18 Dec John ALLINGHAM 4 yards [cloth]
1823 18 Dec Widow ALLINGHAM 3 yards and 2 pair of hose
1824 22 Dec Widow ALLINGHAM 3 yards and 1 pair of hose
1825 19 Dec CRAYFORD (late ALLINGHAM) 4 yards calico


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Poor Law and Parish Chest Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

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  • This page was last modified on 10 September 2014, at 16:49.
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