City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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The third part of Your Majesty's Commission is as follows:—"To inquire into and ascertain the officers and servants of the Companies, and the salaries or other emoluments to which such officers and servants are entitled, and the mode of appointment of such officers and servants, and the duties which they perform."
The fourth part of your Majesty's Commission relates to (1) the amount of the income of the Companies, and the sources from which it arises, (2) the capital value of their property, (3) their management of their property, (4) their expenditure. Its text is as follows: "To inquire into and ascertain the property of, or held in trust for or by such companies, both real and personal, and where the same is situate, and of what it is composed, and the capital value of the several descriptions of such property, and the annual income of such property, and the mode in which the property is managed and the income is expended."
1. As to the amount of the income of the Companies, the interrogatories administered by us to the courts and officers on this subject were of an exhaustive kind, and in the cases (they were not numerous), in which the returns in answer to these interrogatories seemed to us to require explanation, we have not scrupled to put further questions.
A few, however, of the minor Companies have declined to make returns (fn. 1) or have made returns which are not satisfactory; so that we are not in possession of full information.
Moreover, there is considerable difficulty in estimating the value which should be placed for the purposes of this head of your Majesty's Commission on certain kinds of property which the Companies of London possess, for instance, (1) their halls, almshouses, and schools, (2) their plate and furniture, (3) the livings of which they are patrons. It is obvious that the Companies' property, real and personal, which falls under any of these three heads is not strictly speaking a source of income; yet, for the purposes of this head of your Majesty's Commission, an allowance ought probably to be made in respect of the annual value of this property (fn. 2).
Again, between 1870 and 1879, the time over which we have extended the inquiry, the yearly income of the Companies has increased by more than 100,000l. (fn. 3).
On the whole we estimate the trust and corporate income of the Companies of London for 1879 (or 1880) (fn. 4) as between 750,000l. and 800,000l, a sum exceeding the income of the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and of the colleges therein, at the time when these learned bodies were inquired into by the Commission recently appointed by Your Majesty for that purpose (fn. 5).
2. As to the "capital value" of the property of the Companies, into which we are required by Your Majesty to inquire as a branch of this head of the Commission, we laid a case before Your Majesty's Commissioners of Woods and Forests, consisting of the materials for forming an estimate which are contained in the returns of the Companies. Your Majesty's Commissioners referred the matter to gentlemen who are accustomed to act as surveyors to the department. These gentlemen, however, stated, that they could not undertake to furnish an estimate, and that none of any real accuracy could be made without a regular survey, which would require a long time and involve great expense.
Taking the real property owned by the Companies at a number of years' purchase, which we are informed cannot be excessive, and the income of their personal property as representing an ordinary percentage on the capital, we are of opinion that the capital value of the Companies' property cannot be less than 15 millions sterling.
The income arising from this property is partly (1) corporate income, i.e., income which is at the absolute disposal of the Companies, that is to say, according to their present constitution at the absolute disposal of the governing bodies or courts of the Companies, (2) trust income, i.e., income which the Companies or their courts are bound to apply in accordance with (1) the wills of founders, (2) Acts of Parliament, (3) the decrees of the Chancery Division of Your Majesty's High Court of Justice, and (4) schemes framed by your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities, and your Majesty's Commissioners of Endowed Schools.
The rateable value of the halls of these Companies is about 35,000l., that of their schools and almshouses is probably about 15,000l. The value of their plate and furniture is approximately, as returned, about 270,000l. The annual income of the livings in their gift is about 12,000l. a year.
Their debts amount to about 180,000l. (fn. 6)
The rateable value of the halls of the minor Companies is about 20,000l. a year, that of their almshouses, schools, &c. is about 3,000l. a year. The value of their plate and furniture is, approximately, as returned, about 50,000l. They are not patrons of livings. Their debts amount to upwards of 90,000l.
It will be noticed that there is great disparity in the amount of the trust incomes of the Companies. In some cases it is a mere nothing. The strongest instances are those of (1) the Grocers' Company, the trust income of which is 500l. out of a total income of 38,000l., (2) the Armourers' Company, the trust income of which is 60l. out of a total income of 8,000l. Other, though less striking, examples are those of (1) the Fishmongers' Company, the trust income of which is 3,800l. out of a total income of upwards of 50,000l., (2) the Leathersellers' Company, the trust income of which is 2,300l., out of a total income of nearly 19,000l., (3) the Saddlers' Company, the trust income of which is about 1,000l. out of a total income of upwards of 11,000l.
On the other hand the trust incomes of the two wealthiest Companies, the Mercers' Company and the Drapers' Company, are respectively above one-third and two-fifths of the total income, in the case of the Mercers' Company 35,000l. out of 83,000l., in that of the Drapers' Company 28,000l. out of 79,000l. (fn. 7) Also in several cases the trust income greatly exceeds the corporate income. Thus (1) the trust income of the Haberdashers' Company is probably 20,000l. out of a total income of 30,000l., (2) the trust income of the Brewers' Company is 16,000l. out of a total income of 20,000l., (3) the trust income of the Painterstainers' Company is 3,000l. out of a total income of 4,000l., (4) the trust income of the Ironmongers' Company is 12,000l. out of a total income of 21,000l. (fn. 7)
The above table also shows that some of the minor Companies are not trustees of charities. These are the Companies of Basketmakers, Blacksmiths, Coachmakers, Fanmakers, Fletchers, Glovers, Gunmakers, Horners, Joiners, Loriners, Masons, Musicians, Needlemakers, Playing Cardmakers, Shipwrights, Turners, Wheelwrights, and Woolmen. The total income of these 18 Companies is, however, only about 8,000l. a year, and several of them, particularly the Loriners' and Spectaclemakers Companies, Companies upon the number of whose liveries we have commented, and the recently resuscitated Companies of Turners, Needlemakers, Fanmakers, Shipwrights, &c., have scarcely any income, except such as arises from the fees and fines paid by existing members.
On the whole, we think that of the sum of from 750,000l. to 800,000l. which constitutes the annual income of the Livery Companies of London, (1) about 200,000l. a year is trust income, (2) from 550,000l. to 600,000l. is corporate income. (fn. 8)
We should here state, as regards the materials of this estimate, that in the tables on which it is founded, the balance in hand at the beginning of each financial year is excluded, as not being income. The sum thus excluded is considerable, and we have made an addition to the (fn. 9) corporate income of the Companies, which may be supposed approximately to represent the annual interest of such sum.
Situation of the Companies' Estates.
We have already briefly described to Your Majesty the processes by which the Companies became large holders of house property within the City and its liberties, and we have alluded to the facts of the share taken by the Companies in the "colonization" of Ulster, and of their acquisition in consequence of a large tract of land in the county of Londonderry.
We have now to state that the real estate of the Companies is situated partly (1) in the City of London proper, in other districts of London, and in the suburbs of London, (2) in various parts of England, (3) in the county of Londonderry, Ireland.
1. Metropolitan Estate.—The Metropolitan estate of the Companies consists (1) of the halls, and such of the almshouses, schools, and other institutions maintained by the Companies as are within the metropolitan area; (2) of some thousands of houses in the City of London proper, many of them in excellent situations, and let as warehouses, banks, counting-houses, salerooms, offices, and shops, and also of some wharves with warehouses attached to them, situated on the banks of the Thames, some on the City side, some on the Surrey side; (3) of house property outside the City of London proper, but within the metropolitan area; viz., in Stratford (fn. 10), West Ham (fn. 11), Fulham (fn. 12), Hackney (fn. 13), Hammersmith (fn. 14), Lambeth (fn. 15), Islington (fn. 16), Notting Hill (fn. 17), Stoke Newington (fn. 18), Stepney (fn. 19), Walworth (fn. 20), Hoxton (fn. 21), Finsbury (fn. 22), St. Pancras (fn. 23), Southwark (fn. 24), and Whitechapel (fn. 25).
2. Estates in English Counties.—The Companies of London are owners of agricultural land or of house property or of rentcharges in the following English counties:— Bedfordshire (fn. 26), Buckinghamshire (fn. 27), Berkshire (fn. 28), Derbyshire (fn. 29), Durham (fn. 30), Essex (fn. 31), Gloucestershire (fn. 32), Herefordshire (fn. 33), Hertfordshire (fn. 34), Kent (fn. 35), Lancashire (fn. 36), Lincolnshire (fn. 37), Middlesex (fn. 38), Monmouth (fn. 39), Norfolk (fn. 40), Northumberland (fn. 41), Northamptonshire (fn. 42), Oxfordshire (fn. 43), Staffordshire (fn. 44), Shropshire (fn. 45), Surrey (fn. 46), Wiltshire (fn. 47), Yorkshire (fn. 48), Sussex (fn. 49).
3. Irish Estate.—Several of the Companies possess a considerable amount of real property in the county of Londonderry. The estate is the remnant of the lands in Ulster which the Companies of London and the Irish Society were respectively compelled to purchase at the commencement of the seventeenth century. (fn. 52)
Income arising from (1) Rents (2) Personal Property.
As regards the former part, it has been suggested that there would be advantage in our attempting a rough estimate of the probable increase, if any, in the Companies' rental within the next quarter of a century. On this point we have consulted your Majesty's Commissioners of Woods and Forests, but the surveyors who are employed by the Department decline to furnish an estimate. We believe that there are experts who consider that the value of City house property—the principal property of the Companies—has reached its culminating point. But on the other hand, a large proportion of the Companies' estates in the City and in the metropolitan area is at present let on long building leases, on the termination of which, there is a certainty of an increased ground rent. We regard this circumstance as conclusive evidence that the value of the Companies' estates is at present rapidly increasing; but we do not forget that the values of their property in Ireland, and also that of their agricultural property in England, are respectively, at any rate, for the moment, at present decreasing. On the whole we think it not unlikely that the value of the estate may rise from 15 millions, its present amount, to 20 millions in the next 25 years. (fn. 53)
As regards the latter part (1) about 60,000l. a year arises from trust property invested in consols and other securities: (2) some of the small Companies, which do not own land, derive their whole permanent income from savings, accumulations of fees and fines, similarly invested: (3) a part of the sum is derived from the purchase money of houses in the city of London, in some cases corporate, in other cases trust property, which the Companies have been compelled to part with under the provisions of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act for the purposes of railways, docks, and other public undertakings.
The contributions of existing members, consisting of quarterages, entrance fees, livery fines, and fines on promotion to the court, or to office, appear to amount to from 15,000l. to 20,000l. a year. In other words, existing members contribute from 1/50th to 1/37th or thereabouts of the total income.
Expenditure (1) Trust (2) Corporate.
Of this income of upwards of 700,000l. a year, more than 200,000l. a year arises from trust property, and is applied, as we have already stated, by the courts of the Companies in accordance with (1) the wills of founders, (2) Acts of Parliament, (3) decrees of the Chancery Division of Your Majesty's High Court of Justice, (4) schemes framed by Your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities, or Your Majesty's Commissioners of Endowed Schools. (fn. 54)
The fund arises from about 1,100 benefactions, the earliest certainly not less ancient than the fourteenth century, the latest under wills proved within the last few years. Of this sum of upwards of 200,000l. a year, about 140,000l. a year arises from rents and rentcharges; the remainder arises from dividends. (fn. 55)
Your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities in their "Digest of Endowed Charities," published in 1877, have analyzed the objects, as reported upon by Your Majesty's Inspectors of Charities in 1862, supported by the trust income of the Livery Companies, and have shown that about one half the income was then expended upon the inmates of almshouses and poor members, about one quarter on education, i.e., on schools, apprenticing charities, and exhibitions at the universities, and about one quarter on charitable objects of a general kind; the two principal charities of this third class being endowments for the relief of the indigent blind (fn. 56) and a fund for the sustentation of elementary schools connected with the Church of England. (fn. 57)
The returns show that since 1862 there has been a considerable alteration in the distribution of the charitable income of the Companies, owing to the increase of the rents of certain of the educational foundations. At present, of the 200,000l. which forms the charitable income, (1) about three-eighths, or 75,000l. a year is expended on the support of almshouses and the relief of poor members; (2) about three-eighths, or 75,000l. a year, on education, as above defined; (3) about one quarter, or 50,000l. a year, on charitable objects of a general kind.
Some of the charities of the third class are bequests for purposes which are obsolete, such as the relief of the inmates of debtors' prisons; others are bequests for purposes which seem to have become impracticable, owing to the difference between ancient and modern times, as for instance, "portions to poor maids" and "loan charities" for advances to young men commencing business (fn. 58).
Many of the Companies' charities are for the benefit of the inhabitants of provincial towns and villages. We believe that this is so as regards all the counties in which the companies possess lands. It would seem that in early times persons from the provinces came to London to engage in business, and when they had amassed fortunes, left legacies to their native places as well as to the guilds to which they belonged.
1. As regards the first division of the charitable expenditure, viz., the sum of 75,000l., which is spent on almshouses and poor members. Most of the great Companies, and several of the minor Companies. maintain almshouses for their poor. The principal of such almshouses are Whittington College (fn. 59) in Islington, maintained by the Mercers' Company, St. Peters' Hospital at Wandsworth (fn. 60), maintained by the Fishmongers' Company, the Goldsmiths' almshouses at Acton, Middlesex, and Hackney (fn. 61), the Merchant Taylors' almshouses at Lee, Kent (fn. 62), the Skinners' almshouses at St. Helen's and Mile End (fn. 63), the Salters' almshouses at Watford (fn. 64), the Ironmongers' almshouses in Kingsland Road (fn. 65), the Vintners' almshouses at Mile End (fn. 66), the Clothworkers' almshouses at Islington (fn. 67), the Armourers' almshouses in Bishopsgate (fn. 68), the Bakers' almshouses in Hackney (fn. 69), the Brewers' almshouses at South Mimms (fn. 70), the Carpenters' almshouses at Twickenham (fn. 71), the Coopers' almshouses at Stepney, Middlesex (fn. 72), the Dyers' almshouses in the City Road and in Spitalfields (fn. 73), the Framework Knitters' almshouses in Shoreditch (fn. 74), the Girdlers' almshouses at Peckham (fn. 75), the Leathersellers' almshouses at Barnet (fn. 76), the Saddlers' almshouses in Isleworth (fn. 77), the Tylers' and Bricklayers' almshouses at Islington (fn. 78), and the Weavers' almshouses at Wanstead (fn. 79).
The dates of the foundation of these charities, as given in the notes, are taken partly from the returns made to the present Commission by the Companies, partly from the reports of the Charity Commissions, and of Your Majesty's present Inspectors of Charities. There is reason, however, for supposing that many of these foundations are really older. Probably as early as the fourteenth century the Companies had several almshouses in the City of London.
These institutions have in almost all cases been largely endowed by bequests of land or money of a date subsequent to their foundation. Upwards of 500 of the 1,100 charities administered by the Companies relate to the sustentation of the almshouses, or to the relief of impoverished members, or that of the widows and orphans of members by gifts of money, food, or clothing. Very many trusts of this kind have been created during the last century, and not a few during the present century, the benefactors having been in every instance, it is believed, members of the Companies.
The reports of the Charity Commissions and the return of Your Majesty's inspectors of Charities contain histories of these foundations which show that from a very early period they have been assisted by the Companies by grants from corporate income. In many cases also existing members have subscribed out of their private means to support them. During the past and the present centuries, also, almost all the almshouses have been rebuilt, and for this purpose the Companies have made considerable grants out of the income arising from their non-trust property.
Besides the almspeople, a large number of pensioners, decayed liverymen and freemen, and widows and orphan daughters of former members, who are in an indigent condition, are supported or assisted out of the trust income of the Companies. More than 600 charities exist for this purpose.
There are far more women than men inmates of the Companies' almshouses, and a large majority of the pensioners are the widows and orphans of members, chiefly of the mere freemen, the poor members who have never been called to the livery.
The reasons which render it impossible to accurately estimate the number of freemen (fn. 80) equally prevent us from calculating the proportion of freemen, who either themselves, personally, during their lifetimes, or after their deaths, vicariously through their widows or orphan daughters, become recipients of charitable relief from the trust funds of the Companies. We should infer, however, that the proportion is large.
The present number of almspeople, pensioners, and persons otherwise relieved by the Companies, we estimate at about 2,500. Of these, one person, a pensioner, who formerly was a member of the Court of one of the principal Companies, receives 400l. a year, and we have met with instances in which a widow and the orphan daughters of a deceased liveryman jointly receive 250l. a year. (fn. 81) But there are very few pensions of more than 100l., or at most 150l., a year, and the great majority do not exceed 50/. a year, while many consist of much smaller sums. The expense of maintaining the almspeople may be estimated at about 60l. a year each.
We were invited by several of the Companies to inspect their almshouses; but we considered this an unnecessary extension of the inquiry which we had been commanded by Your Majesty to institute. Several of the Companies have stated in their returns the nature of the examination which they are accustomed to make into cases of alleged distress, and we questioned on this subject some of their representatives, gentlemen of much experience in the discharge of this delicate and important part of the duties of the governing bodies. (fn. 82) We need only, however, repeat that the constitution of these bodies as above described by us is the only guarantee which the public has for the propriety of this as of other branches of their expenditure, with the addition that Your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities, though they are empowered by their Acts of Parliament to frame schemes under certain conditions for the reorganization of these charities, have no authority to inspect the almshouses or to interfere with or even criticise the expenditure of the governing bodies on almspeople, pensioners, and recipients of casual relief.
The trust fund for the sustentation of the almshouses, and that for the relief of pensioners, is at present, and has been for the last 10 years, materially increased by a large subsidy from the corporate or non-trust income of the Companies.
2. As regards the second head of the charitable expenditure, viz. the sum of 75,000l. which is spent on education, the objects supported are (1) the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, (2) certain schools.
(1) The Arabic Professorship at Cambridge derives a portion of its endowment from the funds of one of the Companies. (fn. 83). Several of the great Companies, and a few of the minor Companies, are trusiees of funds for the maintenance of scholarships or exhibitions at each university. (fn. 84) The number of such foundations at Cambridge is considerably larger than that of those at Oxford. The trusts are generally in terms for the benefit of "poor scholars," and we are informed that in the elections candidates, the means of whose parents are small, are sometimes preferred.
At the two universities there are generally at present upwards of a hundred undergraduates who derive assistance from the funds of the Companies. We have ascertained that some of these students acquit themselves extremely well in the University examinations.
(2.) A. Five schools at which a classical education is given are managed by the companies of London. These are St. Paul's School, (fn. 85) Merchant Taylors' School, (fn. 86) Tunbridge School, (fn. 87) Aldenham School, (fn. 88) and Great Crosby School (fn. 89). St. Paul's School and Tunbridge School are two of the most richly endowed schools in England. Merchant Taylors' School has no endowment; it is supported by the Merchant Taylors' Company out of their corporate income. The three first-mentioned schools have a large number of valuable exhibitions at the Universities, of some of which the managing companies are themselves trustees (fn. 90). Each of these five schools has a high reputation.
The total number of scholars receiving their education at these schools, assuming them to be full, may be estimated at upwards of 2,000 (fn. 91).
The returns show that during the last 10 years the Merchant Taylors' Company have spent on the Merchant Taylors' School a sum of 140,000l. out of their corporate income. The reports of the Charity Commissioners and those of Your Majesty's Inspectors of Charities, show that at times antecedent to the period taken in by our inquiry, the Mercers' and Skinners' Companies spent considerable sums from the same source on St. Paul's and Tunbridge Schools respectively.
B. The Companies are also trustees and managers of several middle-class schools for children of both sexes. The principal foundations of this kind are (1) in London the Mercers' School (fn. 92), the Grocers' Middle-Class School at Hackney Downs (fn. 93), Bancroft's School at Mile End (fn. 94), the Greencoat School at Greenwich (fn. 95), Aske's Schools at Hatcham and Hoxton (fn. 96), Dame Owen's School at Islington (fn. 97), the Ratcliff schools at Stepney and Bow Road (fn. 98) and the Stationers' school (fn. 99). (2) in the provinces,—a school at Horsham, Sussex (fn. 100), a school at West Lavington, Wiltshire (fn. 101), a school at Oundle, Northamptonshire (fn. 102), a school at Colwall, Herefordshire (fn. 103), a school at Witney, Oxfordshire (fn. 104), a school at Tottenham, in Essex (fn. 105), Sir John Gresham's school at Holt, Norfolk (fn. 106), a school at Cromer, in Norfolk (fn. 107), a school at Bromyard, in Herefordshire (fn. 108), a school at Stockport, Cheshire (fn. 109), a school at Ashwell, Hertfordshire (fn. 110), a school at Wallingford, Oxfordshire (fn. 111), a school at Newport, Staffordshire (fn. 112), a school at Monmouth (fn. 113), a school at Banbury, Cheshire (fn. 114), a school at Landrake, St. Erny, Cornwall (fn. 115), a school at Peel, in the Isle of Man (fn. 116), a school at Sutton Valence, Kent (fn. 117), and a school at Islay, Walton, Leicestershire (fn. 118).
On all these schools we find that the Companies which manage them have spent considerable sums out of their corporate incomes. This will be seen on reference to (1) the reports of the Charity Commissioners, (2) the reports made by Mr. Hare, Your Majesty's senior Inspector of Charities, and his colleagues, (3) the returns of the Companies which show that during the years over which our inquiry has extended the Companies have shown great liberality in this respect.
It is difficult to fix with accuracy the proportions of this item of the trust-income of the Companies, amounting, as we have stated, to 75,000l. a year, which are applicable to (1) classical, (2) middle-class, education respectively. We believe that, including under the former head the contribution to the universities, the sam allocated to classical education is about 35,000l. a year, that allocated to middle-class education about 40,000l. a year.
3. Of the sum of 50,000l. a year, which forms the third division of the trust income of the companies, that described by us as devoted to charitable objects of a general kind (1) an amount of about 9,000l. a year is applicable to the sustentation of primary schools under the management of clergymen of the Church of England in England and Wales (fn. 119), (2) an amount of about 5,000l. is applicable to the relief of indigent blind persons (fn. 120), (3) the remaining sum, consisting of about 36,000l. a year (arising from nearly 500 legacies, bequeathed during a period commencing in the 14th and ending in the present century), is applicable (1) to the relief of the poor of the parishes in the City of London, by doles of money and food, and gifts of clothing, (2) to the relief by the same means, of the poor of parishes in London, outside the City, and of the poor of many urban and rural parishes throughout England; (3) to clerical objects connected with the Church of England, such as lectureships of a general or special character at churches in the City of London, or in connection with certain of the charitable institutions maintained by the Companies in the provinces; (4) to annual subscriptions to medical charities, particularly the London hospitals; (5) to those obsolete or impracticable purposes of which we have given some instances above.
The reports of Your Majesty's inspectors of charities, which are printed as a part of the Appendix to this Report, contain detailed accounts of all the charities above- mentioned, setting forth (1) the names of the founders, (2) abstracts of the deeds or wills constituting the charitable trusts, (3) the property, whether real or personal, which is charged therewith, (4) the mode in which the trusts are administered. In the cases (they are very few) in which a private Act of Parliament has been obtained, the terms of the Act are set forth. In the cases (they are numerous) in which the Court of Chancery has decreed schemes for alterations in the administration of charities, or in which Your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities, or Your Majesty's Commissioners of Endowed Schools have framed schemes for similar purposes under the Acts of Parliament from which they respectively derive their powers the terms of the schemes are set forth. The amount of charitable property thus dealt with by these authorities has been very considerable (fn. 121).
We believe that, except in cases where (1) the terms of the charitable bequests authorize the Companies to charge for administering the charities, or (2) where an Act of Parliament or a scheme in Chancery, or one framed by Your Majesty's above-mentioned Commissioners expressly authorizes them to do so, the courts of the Companies manage the charities above-mentioned gratuitously. They do not charge the trusts with the five per cent. on the annual value which is commonly allowed in such cases by the rules of the Chancery Division of Your Majesty's High Court of Justice.
We have stated that, including an allowance in respect of (1) the halls and other buildings used by the Companies, and of (2) their plate, furniture, and other property not producing income, we estimate the corporate or non-trust income of the livery Companies of the City of London at from 550,000l. to 600,000l. a year. Taking the smaller sum as a basis, and deducting from it a sum of 125,000l., which may be taken to represent (1) such allowance, (2) a sum representing the interest of the debt of the Companies, and (3) a sum representing the average proportion of income saved annually; an amount of, roughly speaking, 425,000l. remains to be accounted for. Of this sum, we compute that (1) about 175,000l. is annually spent on "maintenance," (2) about 100,000l. is annually spent on entertainments, (3) about 150,000l. is annually spent on benevolent objects.
1. In "maintenance" we include (1) sums spent in the payment of rates and taxes, in rebuilding, repairs, and other charges connected with the halls, ( (fn. 122)) almshouses, schools, and other buildings occupied or used by the Companies, and improvements on their estates, (2) in the payment of court fees, i.e., fees paid to the members of the courts or governing bodies for attendance at meetings for the discharge of the business of management, (3) in the salaries of the officers and servants employed by the Companies in London, and on their estates in Ireland. We estimate that of the 175,000l. spent on "maintenance" (1) about 75,000l. a year is spent on rates, taxes, rebuilding, repairs, and improvements, (2) about 40,000l. a year is paid to the members of the governing bodies as "court fees," (3) about 60,000l. a year is spent on the salaries of the officers and servants of the Companies. This is, however, a somewhat rough estimate, the parts of the returns which relate to the subject not being precisely uniform.
(1.) Of the above-mentioned sum of 75,000l. rates and taxes, which include the tithe rentcharge on the Ulster estates of the Companies, form the least considerable item. A sum which amounts to a very heavy per-centage on the income derived from Ireland is annually spent on "improvements," in which term are included not only drainage and farm buildings, but the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, and the support of places of worship, schools, and dispensaries for the use of the tenants. A fair proportion of the fund is expended on repairs and improvements in connection with the urban and rural English estates of the Companies. The largest item, however, is that which is annually expended on the restoration and decoration of the halls, 34 in number, which the Companies possess. ( (fn. 123))
(2.) "Court Fees," in respect of which a sum amounting to 40,000l. is annually distributed among the members of the governing bodies, are payments to such members for attendance at the "courts" or meetings of the governing bodies for the transaction of business, e.g., admissions to the freedom, calls to the livery, elections to the courts, appointment of officers and servants, management of the corporate and charitable estates, elections of almspeople and pensioners, superintendence of schools, invitations to entertainments, and the selection of public or benevolent objects to be supported out of the corporate income.
The highest fee paid for attendance at a single meeting is five guineas, the lowest half a guinea. In many of the less opulent Companies, no fees are paid. The courts of the chief Companies meet about once a month, those of the minor Companies about once a quarter. Where the business is large and complex, committees are appointed for special purposes, and in some cases the members appointed to serve receive extra fees. The prime wardens, the renter wardens, and the other members holding office, generally receive higher fees than the ordinary members or assistants. (fn. 124)
Owing to omissions in some of the returns, we are unable to state definitely the largest sums received annually as "court fees" by members of the governing bodies of the Companies. We should infer that there were cases in which as much as 300l. was thus paid in a year to an individual. From the returns it appears to be not uncommon for members of the courts to receive as much as 150l. a year. On the other hand, there are cases in which members of the courts of wealthy Companies do not receive as "court fees" more than 50l. a year.
The sum of 60,000l., at which we estimate the salaries and allowances annually paid to the officers and servants of the Companies, supports two staffs, (1) the one employed at the halls or clerks' offices of the Companies in London, (2) the other employed in Ireland in connection with the Ulster Estates. A clerk and a beadle have been attached to each guild since a date prior to its incorporation. As the estates have increased, a number of additional offices have been created, such as those of accountants, surveyors, and assistant clerks, and a staff of domestic servants has been engaged. Those of the Companies which retain their lands in Ulster have employed resident agents since they ceased to let to middlemen. As may be supposed, the expenses of the staff employed in London are much greater than those of that employed in Ireland.
The highest salaries paid to clerks of the London Companies amount to about 2,000l. a year. The returns show that there are at present two gentlemen in this position who receive this sum for their services. The salary next in amount is one of 1,500l. a year. These are, however, exceptional cases. The clerks of most of the important Companies receive about 700l. a year. The salaries of those attached to the minor Companies are small. The clerks are mostly solicitors, and in some cases are allowed to carry on a private practice at the halls of the Companies which employ them.
In the above calculation we have not taken into account the salaries of the masters of the Companies' schools, those of the governors, matrons, and medical officers of their almshouses, or those of the chaplains and clerical lecturers whom they employ in connection with the charities of which they are trustees.
2. The cost of the entertainments annually given by the Companies we estimate at 100,000l. (fn. 125)
They are of two kinds, (1) banquets to the liveries, (2) dinner parties which take place on the days on which the Courts meet. Two or three banquets of the former kind are held annually in the more considerable Companies. In those of less importance not more than one livery dinner is given annually, and in some cases, owing to want of funds, the members of the liveries are not entertained. It is the practice of most of the Companies to invite guests on these occasions. Royal personages, members of Your Majesty's family, members of the reigning houses of Continental States in alliance with Your Majesty, during their visits to London, and persons of distinction, both subjects of Your Majesty and foreigners, are frequently entertained by the Companies, which thus assist the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of London in dispensing the hospitality of the city. Their entertainments to persons of eminence are frequently preceded by the ceremony of conferring their freedom, honoris causâ, on their distinguished guests.
4. The part of the Companies' corporate income which is d voted to public or benevolent objects we estimate at 150,000l. a year. If to this sum be added the trust income of 200,000l. a year, it follows that about half the income of the Companies is at present allocated either under the term of benefactions or voluntarily to public or benevolent objects.
(1.) Of this sum of 150,000l. a year, about 10,000l. a year appears to be expended on the relief of poor members, an object to which, as we have explained, three-eighths of the trust income, or 75,000l. a year, is applicable.
(2.) About 50,000l. appears to be expended on education: (1) A large number of the exhibitions to which the Companies appoint as trustees have been added to by them out of their corporate income, and several exhibitions have been endowed by the Companies out of the same source, some at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, some at University and King's Colleges, London, some in connection with the Companies' numerous schools, some in connection with the London School Board, some in connection with the newly founded colleges for the higher education of women, Girton College and Newnham College, and other institutions.
(2.) Almost all the schools of which the Companies are trustees are assisted out of the corporate incomes of the Companies, and some of those enumerated in the above list, such as the Merchant Taylors' School of the Merchant Taylors' Company, and the middle class school at Hackney recently founded by the Grocers' Company, are without endowment, and are supported out of sums voluntarily set aside year by year out of the corporate incomes.
(3.) The subject of technical education has within the last few years been taken up by the Companies. The Clothworkers' Company has promoted the establishment of Yorkshire College at Leeds where instruction is given in the manufacture of woollen goods, and similar institutions at Bradford, Huddersfield, and other places, the present seats of its former trade. The "City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education" has also recently been formed. It is an Association consisting of representatives of the City of London, and of most of the more considerable Livery Companies, and the funds which have been placed at its disposal by the City and the Companies are very large. A building fund of upwards of 100,000l. has been contributed, and annual subscriptions have been promised amounting to about 25,000l. a year. The former sum has been or is being expended on a Technical College in Finsbury and a "Central Institution" in South Kensington. (fn. 126)
3. About 90,000l. a year appears to be expended on benevolent and public objects of a general character. Besides the contribution to churches, schools, and dispensaries in Ulster, which is frequently, as we have stated, included in the returns in the expenses of the management of these estates, the Companies contribute largely to other Ulster charities, both religious and secular, and also have of late subsidized new railways by grants of land and loans. These sums taken together amount to a deduction from the rents greatly exceeding the sum commonly contributed to such purposes by private landlords. In the districts of England in which the Companies possess lands they generally support the religious and secular charities connected with their estates. As regards London, where the bulk of their property is situated, they make annually a very large contribution, one probably amounting to 70,000l. or 80,000l., to public and benevolent objects. One hospital, the London Hospital, has during the 10 years over which our inquiry has extended received 26,500l. from a single Company, that of the Grocers. The other great hospitals, the hospitals for special diseases, the dispensaries, and the other medical charities, not only those of the City proper, but those in other parts of London, receive a very large sum annually from the Companies. Religious charities also, such as the Bishop of London's fund and the societies having for their object the building and endowment of churches and schools in connection with the Church of England, receive a considerable subsidy. Secular objects, orphanages, refuges, and funds for the relief of distress, such as the poor boxes at the Metropolitan Courts, are also supported by the Companies, and they are large contributors to the numerous "Mansion House Funds" set on foot under special circumstances by the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of London. Of late also, and particularly since the movement in favour of technical education began, some of the Companies whose names represent existing trades have given exhibitions at their halls or elsewhere of works of art or of the processes of manufacture, ( (fn. 127)) and have become supporters of trade benefit societies.
Mode in which the corporate estate was acquired.
A part of Your Majesty's Commission ( (fn. 128)) having been a direction to us to inquire into "any trust deeds or other documents affecting" the Companies, we included in our circular of interrogatories a question as to the mode in which the real estate held by each Company as corporate property had been acquired. The Companies have not, however, generally answered this question, except by the mere statement that the parcel of land in question was "acquired by the Company in its corporate right" and as their title deeds are privileged documents, and we have not been invested with the power of enforcing discovery, we have not derived much information on this subject from the returns.
The reports, however, of the several Charity Commissions, and those of Your Majesty's present Inspectors of Charities—the latter form part of the Appendix to this Report—though nominally confined to the trust estate of the Companies, are really of great importance as regards their corporate estate, and particularly as regards that portion of it which consists of house property in the city of London. The proceedings also which have taken place, from time to time, in the Court of Chancery have thrown much light on the (fn. 129) circumstances under which this estate has been acquired. (fn. 129)
1. A large proportion of the lands in the city of London held by the Companies "in their corporate right" was acquired by them outside their licences in mortmain, under the custom of the city which we have described.
2. A large proportion of the lands in the city of London held by the Companies "in their corporate right" was obtained under wills constituting trusts for the maintenance of obits, chauntries, or for other "superstitious uses." This land the Companies were allowed, as we have already stated, to purchase from the Crown after its confiscation at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. This was done by means of Crown grants made in the reigns of Edward VI. and James I. (fn. 130)
The terms of the grants have been held by the Court of Chancery (fn. 131) to have vested in the Companies the same absolute property in these lands which the Act of the 1st Edward VI. vested in the Crown, and they have thus been since the Reformation in the eye of the law the corporate property of the Companies, free from any trust. There is no doubt, however, that the lands were only allowed to be bought back because the Companies represented to (fn. 132) the Crown, as was no doubt the fact, that the rental was required for the support of their almshouses, schools, and exhibitions, many of which depended for their existence on these superstitious benefactions. We think there is nothing unfair as regards the Companies in a recognition of this state of circumstances, and though we allow all proper weight to the decisions of the Court of Chancery, we do not consider ourselves bound by them in framing the present Report to Your Majesty, and we desire to express the opinion that these Crown grants may be reasonably taken to have been made in the expectation that the income would continue to be in great part applied to charitable objects, such as, in particular, education and the relief of poverty. The amount of these repurchased lands is very large, though we are unable to estimate it with precision, as the materials for doing so are not contained in the returns or in the documents with which we have been supplied by Your Majesty's Commissioners of Charities. We should add that the reports of Your Majesty's inspectors show that a very considerable amount of this fund is applied by the Companies voluntarily to charitable objects of the nature defined in their above-mentioned representation to the Crown (fn. 133).
3. The reports of Your Majesty's Inspectors of Charities contain many cases of early legacies of money which, by the terms of the bequests, was to be converted into land. It sometimes, however, appears that the Companies have not been able to prove from their archives that the trust to purchase lands had ever been executed, and that they have been in the habit of simply crediting the charities with the annual interest of the sums bequeathed. Many of the deeds and minutes of court of the Companies perished in the Fire of London, and there is consequently serious difficulty in ascertaining the truth as to this matter.
It is obvious, however, that, if these bequests of money were really spent on the purchase of land in the City, the lands so bought are a part of the trust as opposed to the corporate estate; and that considering the great recent increase in the value of house property in the City, a serious loss may have resulted to the charities administered by the Companies. The history of these bequests is, however, so imperfectly known that we are not justified in inferring that this undesirable result has occurred in many instances.
4. For the purpose of the re-purchase of their forfeited estates, as above mentioned, and also for the purposes of the rebuilding of their halls and house property after the fire, and of the acquisition of their Ulster lands, the Companies raised very large sums of money between the years 1547 and 1604. The returns dwell on these facts and in effect represent the Companies as having been founded anew at their own expense during this period. The sum paid to the Crown in respect of the Irish estate seems to have been levied as a civic impost. There is little direct evidence as to the origin of the funds with which the "chauntry" lands were redeemed, and the halls and houses were rebuilt (fn. 134); but it would seem that part was raised by mortgage, part by the contributions of existing members, or members who were persuaded to join for the purpose of helping the Companies out of their difficulties. Even assuming, however, that the Companies were actually founded anew at this period, the second foundation took place a long time ago, and they are public bodies. Moreover the object of the contributions which were made to repair the ravages of the fire was in great part the maintenance of the schools, almshouses, and other charitable institutions, of which the Companies then were and now are trustees.
5. Through the courtesy of the two learned gentlemen who have assisted us, we have been placed in a position to appreciate, however imperfectly, the results of the interpretation put by the Court of Chancery on wills where the question has been whether the charities, or the Companies which administer them, were to become entitled to the increased income resulting from the rise in value of house property in the City of London, and also the schemes framed by that Court in accordance with the principle of çy-près to which it has recourse in the case of obsolete or impracticable benefactions. We do not think these results always satisfactory as regards the affairs of the Companies. We recognize that the function of a Court can only be accurately to interpret the terms of the wills and to carry out the founders' intentions, and no doubt the rules as to interpretation adopted by the Court of Chancery are judicious, while, in framing çy-près schemes, the Court has shown a wise and liberal spirit, and has done its utmost to recognize changes in the circumstances of the times and in popular opinion. But we think it impossible to peruse many of the cases without seeing that the Companies have made good their title to unexpected increment as corporate income when there was really an intestacy with respect to the fund, or under circumstances which do not show at all decisively that the testator ever intended to constitute them beneficiaries. This observation applies to a very considerable sum of money. We are also of opinion that the applications to the Court of Chancery for çy-près schemes, and to Parliament for private Acts, have been attended with much unnecessary expense, and have not always led to the results most useful to the public (fn. 135).
In concluding this summary of the results of our inquiry as regards the first four parts of Your Majesty's Commission, we must not neglect to thank the School Board for London for their valuable report on the subject of the charities administered by the Companies. It is exceedingly elaborate, and we have much pleasure in testifying to its excellence, and in acknowledging the assistance which we have derived from it. We conceive, however, that it is not necessary for us to express an opinion on the very numerous questions raised by it as to a better application of the Companies' trust income, and in particular as to the effect of section 30 of the Endowed Schools Act, 1869, on some of the endowments; which is a question of law.
We have also to tender our thanks for valuable assistance in the course of this inquiry to (1) Earl Granville, Your Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and to the Secretaries of Legation who, under his Lordship's directions, have favoured us with reports with respect to the mediæval guilds of the Continent; to Monsieur Pigeonneau, of the Sorbonne, and Mons. Levasseur, of the French Institute, to Mons. Emile de Laveleye, of Liège, to Mynheer Vandereige, of the Hague, to Herr Vispering, of Berne, to Dr. Brock, of Bergen, to Signor Luigi Bodio, the Director of Statistics at Rome, to Señor Don Morel and Señor Don Pascal de Gayangos, of Madrid, and to the Viscomte de Figanière, of Lisbon, gentlemen who have sent us communications on the same subject; to (2) the Bishop of Chester, Mr. Froude, and Mr. Freeman, who have given us opinions and advice as to points of history; to (3) Dr. Brentano, of Aschaffenburg, and Miss Toulmin Smith, who have advised us as to points of archæology, and to (4) Mr. Horace Davey, one of Your Majesty's Counsel learned in the law, and Mr. Francis Vaughan Hawkins, the two members of the Equity bar who have been so good as to place their services at our disposal, and who have given us highly useful advice.