City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Supplementary Statement by the Salters' Company.
The Salters' Company beg to remark that the first recorded evidence of their existence is dated in 1394, when it was licensed by Richard II., in the joint title of the Guild or Fraternity of Brethren and Sisters of Corpus Christi and the Company of Salters.
This combination of the religious and trading elements, together with other circumstances referred to in their return, render it highly probable that this Company was never exclusively a community of traders. Moreover, it would appear that this, as well as other guilds, could not have existed for the sole purpose of benefiting the particular trades from which they derive their names; for the right of freedom by patrimony has prevailed from time immemorial, and this would necessarily introduce many members who would follow other callings.
Statements have been made which suggest that the funds entrusted to the Companies for charitable uses have been misapplied. So far as the Salters' Company is concerned, it may be stated that suits instituted against the Company, and designed to prove a breach of trust, have failed; and the returns of the Company show that the sums expended on the charitable trusts under the Company's administration have considerably exceeded the amount which has been received from the Trust Estate.
With regard to the income derived from their Corporate Estate, a large proportion has been always devoted to works of benevolence and public utility, to the promotion of education, and the support of aged, poor, and deserving members of their Guild.
The Salters' Company may avail themselves of this occasion to state that, in addition to the educational grants alluded to in their report, they have now brought into practical operation a scheme which for some time past they had in contemplation, having for its object the promotion of the education of the sons and daughters of their own members, by grants of money, varying in each case from 20l. to 80l. per annum. The advantages offered by this scheme are much appreciated, the freemen and liverymen having readily availed themselves of it.
Statements were made by witnesses who tendered evidence on the twelfth day, that the Companies' estates in Ireland are Trust Estates : that the purchase money was not taken from the funds of the Corporation or of the Companies, and that the tenants have been invariably rack-rented.
In reply it may be stated that the conveyance of the estate to the Companies was absolute and without any covenant of trust: that the Companies at first declined to have any dealing with the property, but were ultimately persuaded, by representations on the part of the Government, that the undertaking would conduce to their profit. That there is no doubt the Companies provided all the money; and so far as regards the Salters' Company (and probably the other Livery Companies), the amount required was raised, partly from their corporate funds, and partly from loans from individual members of the Company.
There is evidence that these loans were in process of repayment from the corporate funds of the Company, several years afterwards. As to the estates being rackrented, the rents of the Salters' Company have always been, in the aggregate, under the Government valuation. Tenant-right interests are readily saleable; and the witnesses generally admit that the tenants are, on the average, better off under the Companies than under private landlords.
It has also been implied that the Companies have not promoted the interests of their tenants by expenditure of income derived from the estate.
In reply to such suggestions, the Salters' Company beg to place before the Commissioners the following particulars of their expenditure during the last 28 years.
Statement of Expenditure on Improvements, &c., from 1853 to 1881.
The above expenditure is exclusive of any outlay from which the Company derive profit, and the cost of management is not included.
Mr. Andrew Brown, a tenant on the estate, who gave evidence before the Commission, also on the 12th day, complains that an appeal which was made against an advance of 20 per cent. put on a portion of the estate in bad years, was rejected.
This augmented rent was an addition of 20 per cent. on a small section of the Town-park holdings, which had been reduced 10 per cent. in 1855, and not increased when the rentals of the agricultural holdings were raised 10 per cent. in 1866.
The aggregate annual accretion of rent from this source amounted to about 150l., and simply placed all town-parks and agricultural holdings on the same footing.
Mr. Brown adds that a recent appeal for reduction of rent was also rejected.
It is true that the Company declined to adopt a general reduction of their moderate rental, which, for agricultural holdings, is about 10 per cent. below the Government valuation; but they promised to take into consideration individual applications for relief, and to determine them on their respective merits. This decision has been acted on, and in several instances remission of rent has been granted, and pecuniary assistance afforded to needy tenants.
Mr. Brown further says that from 1854 to 1866 "there are many living witnesses to prove that none but the tenants do anything to their farms."
The facts are that a sum of 16,560l. 6s. 6d. was expended on the rural districts, and 12,283l. 5s. 10d. on the town of Magherafelt, in improvements during those 12 years; the money spent in the town being in excess of the entire rent received from the town holdings.
Only a fraction of the above expenditure, viz., 1,500l. for mills and milldams, was in any degree remunerative to the Company.
Mr. Brown also affirms that from 1866 to 1882 the agricultural holdings have not in any way been improved by the landlords. The answer to this accusation has been already given in the previous statement, where the cost and character of the improvements effected are enumerated.
Expenditure from 1853 to 1866.
These sums are of course included in the previous Statement of Expenditure from 1853 to 1881.