Evidences, 1883: Clothworkers' Company

Pages 329-332

City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.

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Clothworkers' Company

The deputation withdrew.

The following gentlemen attended as a deputation from the Clothworkers' Company:—
Mr. Edward Gregory (Master).
Mr. W. H. Townsend (Warden).

Mr. J. Bazley White (Assistants), and
Mr. James Wyld
Mr. John Neate

Mr. Owen Roberts (Clerk).

3102. (Chairman to Mr. Townsend.) We have your return and your statement; if there is anything else by which you wish to supplement that statement the Commission are perfectly willing to hear it ? —Perhaps the statement would be taken as read, my Lord, as part of my evidence.

3103. If you please.—There is one inaccuracy, if I may say so, which I wish to correct if your Lordship will permit me to do so. It is in the sixth page, five lines from the bottom. It is the case of the Attorney General against the Haberdashers' Company. The reference is given wrongly to the fourth Brown's Chancery Cases; the case referred to should have been stated as in the first Mylne and Keen's Report, page 420, before Lord Brougham.

3104. Is there any other correction that you wish to make ?—None other, I think.

3105. Is there anything you wish to add to the statement you have laid before the Commission ?—I think not, my Lord.

3106. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Can you tell the Commission in round figures what per-centage is spent on education and charity by the Company?—In a series of years or in the year 1880, do you mean ?

3107. Whichever is most convenient to yourself ? —I think I can tell the Commission in general terms. We have taken three periods, 1802, 1842, and 1880, the last year to which the returns are made up Speaking roughly, the total income of the Company in 1802, the corporate income and the trust income, amounted to 10,000l. Of that sum the sum of 2,700l. was the income of strictly trust property. That being deducted would leave 7,300l. as the amount of the corporate income. Out of that, the sum of 2,300l. or thereabouts was spent in what we may call voluntary charity or benevolence, and 5,000l. was spent in the management and the expenses of the Company generally. That would be a proportion spent in what I may call voluntary charity and benevolence of rather less than one third of the corporate income of the Company.

3108. That is in addition to the amount spent of course out of the trust property ?—Yes, that I put on one side. That is of course strictly allocated to the trust, and is applied accordingly. Then in 1842, as I understand, the total income of the Company had increased to 20,000l. It had in fact doubled. Of that sum the sum of 6,000l. was the amount of the trust property income. That had rather more than doubled in the forty years. Deducting that from the 20,000l. would leave 14,000l. Of that 4,000l. was spent for the purposes of voluntary charity and benevolence, leaving the sum of 10,000l., that being 10,000l. for the management and expenses of the Company generally. That again would have been a proportion of rather less than one third applied for the purposes of voluntary charity out of the corporate income of 14,000l. Going to 1880 the total net income of the Company had increased to about 45,310l. Of that the income of the trust property had increased to about 11,310l., which being deducted from the other, would leave 34,000l. Of that 20,000l. was applied for the purposes of voluntary charity, leaving 14,000l. for the expenses of the general management of the Company. The proportion therefore of the corporate income which was applied for general charitable purposes in the year 1880 had increased so as to be very nearly two thirds of the corporate income of the Company, and that proportion has still further increased in the two years which have elapsed since 1880. Thus we may say, in round terms, that of corporate income about two thirds are applied for the purposes of charity, education (general and technical), and other benevolent purposes, leaving an outlay of about 14,000l. for the management and expenses of the Company generally.

3109. As the income has increased, have the Company largely increased their expenditure on educational and charitable objects ?—They have very largely increased their expenditure on education and other charitable objects.

3110. I think the Company held a very valuable estate in Ireland some years ago ?—They did.

3111. When they sold that did they impose any obligations on the purchaser with reference to the maintenance of the charities and monies for a period of years ?—There was, I believe, no actual legal obligation imposed, but there was an understanding with the purchaser to expend sums amounting, I believe, to 242l. a year for the purposes of certain churches, schools, schoolmasters, and so forth on the estate for a limited term. The purchaser has complied with that obligation and has expended that amount up to the present time as I am informed.

3112. (Chairman.) What was the income of the estate ?—6,000l. was the rental.

3113. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) The Company, as you have said, has a large income arising from trust property; have they found that the obligations under some of those trusts have become obsolete, and have they applied for fresh schemes in order to render the trust funds more applicable to the wants of the present day?—Yes, they have done so in many instances, under schemes either of the Court of Chancery, or the Charity Commission. Some of those charities were for loans and clothing, and have been diverted under the authority of the Charity Commissioners for educational purposes in connexion in particular with the North London Collegiate and Camden School for girls, in one instance, and in another for scholarships in connexion with elementary schools, and also in some degree for technical education. Another—Hobby's —charity was for the benefit of prisoners for debt, and that had become obsolete. That again under the authority of the Charity Commissioners has been diverted largely to educational and modernised charitable purposes. In other instances that has been done, and a great many of our charities, I think, are now either administered under a decree of the Court of Chancery, or under schemes framed at our instigation by the Charity Commissioners. I may say, the whole of our trust personal estate, consisting of divers funds and securities, is, I think, almost without exception vested in the official trustee of charities under the direction of the Charity Commissioners.

3114. Have the Company large funds for the relief of the poor members—freemen ?—Some of the strictly charitable funds are applicable to those purposes, but they supplement them very largely out of their own corporate funds.

3115. Do the Company find that they have a sufficient number of urgent and necessitous cases of poverty arising among their own body to absorb the funds which were left for the poor of the Company ?—Yes, I consider that they do. The applications are pressing and numerous, taken in connexion with the age of the people and their means. Some of the trust charity funds are specially devoted to that purpose, as I have said.

3116. Was a person of the name of Lambe a great benefactor to the Company some years ago ?—Yes, a very great benefactor; one of the largest.

3117. Can you explain to the Commission the way in which Lambe's chapel, which was formerly in the city, was removed, and the manner in which the proceeds of the site were appropriated ?—We first applied to the Charity Commissioners, and they were doubtful whether they could initiate a scheme for the purpose, and therefore we applied for a private Act of Parliament (Lambe's Chapel Estate Act), which was obtained in 1872, and which enabled us to remove the chapel which is now at Islington, and which we have rebuilt out of our corporate funds. That Act of Parliament settled the scheme for the application of the rents of Lambe's charity property, and also exonerated the corporate property of the Company entirely (in consideration of the burden which they then took upon them) from certain charges which had been imposed by Lambe's charity.

3118. Practically the Company removed the old chapel, and built a new church in a populous neighbourhood ?—They built a new church in a populous neighbourhood where it was more wanted, and that they did out of their corporate property.

3119. How many years ago is it since the Company first subscribed towards technical education ?—It began to take up the question in 1870. In 1876 I think it took the initiative in establishing the City and Guilds' Technical Institute to which it subscribes very largely.

3120. Were the Clothworkers' Company the first Company to subscribe to that ?—They were the first Company. It was they (as I think the Lord Chancellor Lord Selborne mentioned in his evidence before the Commission) who took the active lead in the matter, indeed, if I might be permitted to say so, Mr. Mundella, speaking in our Hall in the year 1881, said, when he first became interested in that question, which was 16 years ago, the first persons that gave him any assistance at all were the Clothworkers' Company.

3121. Without going into detail, can you tell the Commission roughly how much money you contributed last year towards technical education in London and the provinces ?—We contribute between 8,000l. and 9,000l. a year.

3122. Have you a large school in Kent, at Sutton Valence?—Yes, we have a large school at Sutton Valence.

3123. How many boys do you educate?—About 100 in the school itself.

3124. Do they get a collegiate education ?—I may perhaps mention that we were constituted a distinct corporation of that school by a charter of Queen Elizabeth as a grammar school, and Latin is taught there; therefore, it is a classical school.

3125. I think that was a gift of Lambe's, was it not ?—That was a gift of Lambe's.

3126. Have the Company supplemented the funds left by Lambe out of their corporate income ?—The endowment of the school is very small indeed. I think the actual endowment only amounted to about 30l. a year, and thinking that the education of the school might be rather above the class of small farmers and so forth of the neighbourhood, we give that 30l. a year to the National school there, which admits boys of all classes without any religious distinction, and 20l. to the British school there; and we give to the school proper upwards of 1,000l. a year out of our own corporate income. We rebuilt the school some years ago (in 1864, I think) at a cost of about 8,000l. or 10,000l., and a further addition in 1876 cost about the same.

3127. I think this Company have also a school at Peel, in the Isle of Man, have they not ?—Yes, they have.

3128. Is that supported largely out of the corporate income ?—Very largely indeed. It was founded under the will of Philip Christian.

3129. Can you tell the Commission how many members you have on your court ?—About 40.

3130. Do you find that number larger or smaller than you think sufficient to do the business ?—I do not think it is larger than it ought to be to do the business properly. The members attend and give very great attention to the subjects brought before them. There is a great deal of work connected with the administration of the Company and its charities, and there are men of different classes and rank in the court and of different attainments, and I think that their experience in their various branches of business and professions and private life are very valuable indeed on the questions brought before them. I do not think that the number of the court is any impediment.

3131. Do you think that the Company would be as efficiently conducted if there were 20 members on the court instead of 40 ?—I cannot say that, but I do not think that the number of 40 is inconveniently large, and we do get the benefit of the various experience and attainments of the different members.

3132. Of course the 40 cost double what the 20 would ?—No doubt that does involve an increased cost.

3133. Are the whole of your trust funds administered without making any charge against the trust for management ?—The whole of the trust funds are administered free of any charge whatever to the charities, there is no charge at all, we do not even accept the five per cent. allowed by the Court of Chancery and the Charity Commissioners as receivers. We pay the whole expense of the management of the trusts out of our own corporate income.

3134. I think it has been suggested in your return that the Company should pay succession duty, or a sum of money in commutation of succession duty, do you agree with that suggestion ?—Yes, I do; we did put that suggestion in the returns in 1880, and we do think that that would only be a proper provision, it being a general provision not confined to the Companies alone but to owners of land in mortmain all over the country. We think that that would be fair and right, and, if we may respectfully say so, we should entirely approve of it.

3135. Have you, in your statement to the Commission, made some suggestion in reference to an alteration of the Charitable Trusts Act?—I may say we have been anxious to avail ourselves as largely as possible of the Charity Commission. We have full confidence in them: we have always gone to them in difficulty: we have put several of our charities under their revision—many were already under the Court of Chancery; and we should be quite willing that the powers of that body should be increased somewhat in the way (if we might suggest) indicated by Mr. Longley in his evidence before the Commission. For instance both Mr. Hare and Mr. Longley, mentioned the fetter or limit of 50l.; if the property of a charity exceeds that amount they are deprived of taking the initiative without the consent of the trustees of the charity. That is an impediment, and we should think that that limit might very well be done away with, subject to reasonable and necessary limitations and safeguards. Of course we are only a deputation from the court of the Company, and we cannot go beyond our powers, but in other respects I think I may say that we should be quite willing that the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners should be increased, safeguards being provided as was done, I think, by the Bill (amended in the House of Lords, to a certain extent) which was last introduced into Parliament in 1880, I think. To some extension of the powers to the Charity Commissioners we should most willingly accede, and I think that it would be very beneficial to charities generally.

3136. Has any large part of the Company's property been acquired, by bequest or otherwise, during the present century ?—Some part has been, of course; the devises of land were made principally before the 18th century, but there have been some, West's and others, since.

3137. That was a trust bequest?—Principally trust bequest.

3138. I mean gifts or bequests for the benefit of the Corporation ?—There was the one to which attention has been a good deal drawn, Mr. Thwaytes' bequests. He made two bequests, one of 20,000l. to found a charity for the blind (which sum is now represented by an investment standing in the name of the public trustee of charities, and is administered under the Charity Commissioners), and the other of 20,000l. further "to be used in a way to make the Company comfortable."

3139. How do you spend that?—I was going to explain that. A good deal has been said about it I observe in the evidence, and it has been much commented upon. The way in which it is spent is this. The charitable bequest we have largely supplemented out of our own funds so as to admit of pensions to a larger number of the blind than the 20,000l. (less legacy duty) which he left for that purpose would admit of. The income of the other 20,000l. is applied partly in payment of one of the dinners of the Company which is held on the first Wednesday in January in every year in commemoration of Mr. Thwaytes. That does not exhaust by any means the income of the legacy, and the remainder of that income is used in supplementing the blind pensions and for our general corporate purposes. The sum is invested in a way to produce a good income, and the balance of the income, after paying for this dinner, is applied as I have said.

3140. Do not the Company give very large sums of money in payment of exhibitions and scholarships at the colleges and many of the high class schools?— Yes, many exhibitions both to Oxford and Cambridge and King's College and to other Colleges and schools for young men and women.

3141. Has that been done for some years?—That has been done for some years.

3142. Do the Company receive reports of the method in which it works ?—They receive the examiners' reports from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In addition to that, I may mention that we have for the poorer class of students unattached exhibitions now both at Oxford and Cambridge, all which are given irrespective of religious opinions. In addition to that, we have also admissions to the North London Collegiate and Camden School for girls, and scholarships for competition among the public elementary schools of the metropolis, so as to get hold of any children who show any considerable aptitude. Some of the girls get to the North London and Camden College, and then if they distinguish themselves there they can be possibly passed on to the colleges at Somerville Hall, Oxford, or Girton and Newnham College, Cambridge, to which we largely subscribe, and to which we are increasing our subscriptions, and from which colleges we get returns of the conduct of girls that we send there.

3143. May I ask are the Company quite satisfied that they are doing good and increasing good by the payments they make for the higher education of young men and young women ?—They consider so, and the reports confirm that.

3144. Have they increased from year to year their payments in that direction ?—They have been doing so.

3145. (Sir N. M. De Rothschild.) You say you would like to see the powers of the Charity Commissioners extended, and that you put your own charities under the Charity Commissioners; perhaps you would not mind telling the Commission what advantage you think would arise to the public from further interference by the Charity Commissioners with other companies. Do you think that their charities would be better managed ?—I may say that we have thought the Charity Commissioners' assistance useful. Probably the Charity Commissioners would require to be strengthened in some way; but we think that the charities are very well administered under their supervision, and some of us think it would be a proper thing that the charities of the country generally should be brought more under their control.

3146. Do you think then that the Charity Commissioners are better judges of the charity objects than the courts of the Companies ?—I will not say that, but they are a public body entrusted with the control of charities, and we find that they do not interfere improperly with us. We submit our accounts to them, and if any change of investment or anything of that sort is required we find that they accede to our proposals as far as possibly can be done. In some instances if they do not approve they say so, but as a general rule they fall in with what is presented to them if they think it reasonable and we think that it is desirable. Of course we have no power to alter these obsolete charities without the sanction either of the Court of Chancery or of the Charity Commissioners, and we find that it is satisfactory that such of them as are obsolete or useless should be altered by means of a well considered scheme drawn up under the immediate supervision of the Charity Commissioners and carried out accordingly.

3147. (Sir Richard Cross.) Are you speaking of trust funds only, or trust and corporate funds?—Trust funds only, certainly. I merely referred to charities. Both Mr. Hare and Mr. Longley expressed their opinion that they had nothing to do with corporate property under the Charity Commission. I was merely alluding to the strictly charitable trusts which are committed to our care.

3148. (Chairman.) There are only two questions which I should just like to have an explanation upon. Are those funds which have been called trust funds derived from property, the whole income of which is expended on the trust purposes, or only a certain portion of which is expended, the increment going to you ?—In most cases it is the whole income of a particular charity.

3149. You make the payment and take the difference ?—In some, but in the latter case, where there has been a charge on the property for charitable purposes with the surplus given to the Company, we have redeemed, under the sanction of the Charity Commissioners, the charge, and the sums paid by us for the redemption of that charge are now invested in Consols or some other stock in the name of the official trustee of charities, and administered in that way; we have done that very largely for many years past now. Wherever we had a property charged by the will that devised it with a sum applicable to charity and subject thereto, the surplus given to ourselves, I think in almost every instance we have redeemed that charge under the sanction of the Charity Commissioners, and as approved by them.

3150. Then the statement that you do not take the five per cent. for managing these charities applies to all ?—Yes, to all. We do not take it at all.

3151. As to this 20,000l., you say the income goes to a dinner in commemoration of Mr. Thwaytes, and then for general corporate purposes, including other dinners, I suppose ?—It goes into the exchequer of the Company generally, and is applied as I have before stated.

3152. It goes into the 14,000l.?—It would go into the 14,000l. or, rather, it goes into the 34,000l., and so much of it as is applied in augmenting the pensions of the blind falls into the 20,000l., and the rest of it falls into the 14,000l.

3153. (Mr. James to Mr. Owen Roberts.) I believe you were mainly instrumental in establishing the City and Guilds' Technical Institute ?—I was concerned in establishing the Technical Institute as clerk of the Clothworkers' Company. The movement of technical education originally arose from the invitation of the Society of Arts instituting examinations in connection with the annual series of exhibitions at South Kensington, and when the turn of cloth manufacture came, the Clothworkers' Company first gave a prize of one hundred guineas for the encouragement of the examinations in connection with the cloth trade, and afterwards put themselves into communication with Colonel Donnelly and others on the subject of technological examinations and technical education generally, more especially in connexion with the cloth industry. They afterwards obtained a conference at Clothworkers' Hall consisting of the mayors of various corporate towns and Presidents of Chambers of Commerce of the towns in the west of England, Yorkshire, Glasgow, and other places where the textile industries are the staple industries of the district, and took their advice as to the best way of promoting a system of technical education in connection with the industries of the various localities. That matter has grown gradually, and now the Company have schools or classes, independently of the City and Guilds' of London Institute, in almost all the centres of the clothworking industry in Yorkshire and the West of England, they have also subsidised a technical weaving school in Glasgow.

3154. But the one central institute up to the present time has been in Finsbury, has it not ?—I am speaking of the Clothworkers' Company's action in technical education. Then in 1876 the Clothworkers' Company took counsel with the Drapers' Company, who also had shown an interest in the question, and availing ourselves of the fact that at that time Lord Selborne was master of the Mercers' Company, a scheme was submitted to him, and he expressed his cordial approval of it, and through his intervention a combined movement of the guilds was then brought about for the establishment of technical education in a general sense, distinct from the cloth-working industry but including it.

3155. That is the movement which eventually proposes to establish the large central college at South Kensington, is it not?—That was one of the objects, but the great object of the central institution is not to teach the application of science and art to the ordinary workmen, the rank and file, and there always must be rank and file, but to teach the men who are picked out from among them as the leaders in intelligence, and whom we hope to make into efficient foremen or managers, and above all into efficient teachers, for trade schools throughout the kingdom. These men will come from every part of the kingdom, and will not be drawn from the industrial classes of London alone, or even to any great extent, and even the London men will in all probability be for the most part picked men supported by exhibitions, and not, while students of the Central Institution, engaged in journey work. We found when we established our dyeing school at Leeds that we could not in this country find a teacher, there was no technically qualified teacher of dyeing. We found the same difficulty wherever we founded schools. By the advice of Professor Huxley, and with the concurrence of scientific opinion, it was thought absolutely necessary before any movement of technical education could obtain a hold in the country that there should be a normal training school to supply technical teachers in the same way as the normal training schools at Battersea and elsewhere supply the elementary teachers and now the universities are recognising that teaching involves not only the possession of knowledge but is a profession, and like any other profession requires special preparation.

3156. What post does Mr. Magnus hold ?—Mr. Magnus is the director and secretary of the Guilds' Institute.

3157. That is the institute in Finsbury ?—He is director and secretary of the Institute as a whole. He holds also in connexion with it, temporarily, the function of director of studies in the Finsbury College. Probably he will also, when the institution at South Kensington comes into operation, assume some such position there; but that is not settled.

3158. And Mr. Magnus is also a member, I think, of the Commission upon Technical Education at the present time ?—Yes, it was thought exceedingly desirable that he should obtain that experience (which conjoined with his opportunities as Director of the Guilds' Institute I suppose would make his qualifications in regard to technical education almost unique in this country) by going about with that Commission to various countries abroad. His experience will be most valuable, and it has been found so already.

3159. Can you tell me what contribution the Clothworkers' Company make to this movement ?— We give 3,000l. a year; but we also have paid 10,000l. for the Building fund of the Central Institute, and of the Finsbury College; and we hope to establish, as time goes on, trade schools in various parts of London; also to supplement local effort wherever we find there is a tendency towards technical education.

3160. The effort to raise the money among the other Companies for this Institute was originated in the first instance by the exertions of the Clothworkers' Company, or to a great extent, was it not ?—No doubt the Clothworkers' Company took a foremost part, but the Drapers', the Fishmongers', the Goldsmiths', and the Mercers' Companies also took part in it. I should not wish to claim more than our proper due in the matter. We found all our fellow-Guildsfolk equally anxious to enter into the movement as soon as they found that technical education was a matter that could be worked out adequately in practice. As soon as they found a proper scheme could be formulated, other companies showed themselves as anxious as we were to carry the matter out.

3161. (Mr. Firth.) Have you ever found the return which was presented by your Company and others to Parliament in 1724. A return was presented of various matters connected with the companies the year before the Act was passed under which you vote in common hall ?—I am afraid not. I may have seen it referred to, and probably I have, but I have no special recollection of it.

3162. With respect to the vote. I may ask you this: you say you are entitled to vote in common hall; I think no one except the livery are entitled to vote in common hall at all, are they ?—I think the theory that we hold is, that the livery is a property qualification, and the number of freemen entitled to vote is limited by the qualification that they must be of the superior order of citizens which is denoted by the fact that the livery represents a property qualification.

3163. I will just draw your attention to this point, and that is all I will ask you. The 14th section of the Act says "No person or persons whatsoever shall be entitled to vote for the election of a mayor who have not been on the livery twelve calender months" therefore the election of the Lord Mayor rests alone with you, does it not?—I should prefer to say that it was a select body of freemen; that it is not qua liverymen they vote, but qua freemen, who are selected as a kind of superior order of citizens in the same way as under the restricted household franchise that existed before 1867 in parliamentary elections.