Evidences, 1883: Salters' Company

Pages 344-345

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

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Salters' Company

The deputation retired.

Deputation from Salters' Company.

The following gentlemen attended as a deputation from the Salters' Company :—

Mr. Arthur Bowdler Hill.

Mr. Frederick Le Gros Clark, F.R.S.

Mr. Thomas Hicks.

Mr. Henry William Eaton, M.P.

Mr. Alderman Fowler, M.P.

Mr. E. Lionel Scott (Clerk).

3213. (Chairman to Mr. Clark.) We understand that you wish to contradict or modify some statements made by Dr. Todd in his evidence with regard to your Company, or that you have some statement to make with reference to it. We have certain statements before us which were made by Dr. Todd which you do not exactly accept as accurate, we understand? —We have made our answer in the short statement which has been drawn up and handed in to the secretary.

3214. I see you say here that you have spent in all 51,000l. upon your estates in the last 28 years ?— Yes.

3215. I see a complaint was made by Mr. Brown, a gentleman who appeared here as a witness, to the effect that there is considerable poverty prevailing on the Salters' estate, because during the bad years the Company never made them any reduction or allowance on the rents; do you admit that statement ?—It is answered in the paragraph which I will read to your Lordship :—"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." Now this bare paragraph, as it stands, would tend to somewhat mislead those who read it without being acquainted with the circumstances, but the answer is given in the next paragraph:—"This augmented rent was an addition of 20 per cent. on a small section of the Townpark 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."

3216. It is also stated, I observe, that the recent appeal for a reduction of rent was rejected; that you deny ?—No, we do not deny that we rejected it. The paragraph which follows states, "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." I may say this has been done to a very considerable extent. We have always fully taken into consideration the nature of the appeal and the character of those who are appealing to us.

3217. And in reply to the statement that nothing has been done upon the farm except by tenants, you answer that you have spent 16,000l. on the rural districts and 12,000l. odd on the town holdings ?—Yes; and the particulars are given in the table below in our reply.

3218. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Is it not true that the Salters' Company paid a sum of money at the beginning of the 17th century for their share of the Irish estates ?—The Salters' Company paid a sum of money for possession of the Irish estates.

3219. For their share ?—Quite so.

3220. Is it not true that shortly after that, whatever trust there was on the Company's property that was transferred in fact to the Irish society and that the Company's properties have been sold, and that it has been acknowledged, that there is no trust impressed upon them ?—Yes; quite so. The property of the Company, as I understand it, was by the act of the Star Chamber taken from the Companies, and restored to them when it was proved that that dispossession was unjust and illegal.

3221. Is it a fact that the Salters' Company have expended large sums of money in public buildings, especially in the erection of churches in the district in which your land is situated ?—It is quite true.

3222. And not confined to any particular denomination ?—No.

3223. Is it a fact that you have contributed towards the erection of Roman Catholic churches ?—Quite recently we have contributed 1,000l. towards the erection of Roman Catholic church, besides giving the site.

3224. Have the Company throughout the time they have been the owners of this estate sought to benefit the people quite apart from any sectarian views ?— Entirely so.

3225. Their schools have been always open to all denominations, have they not ?—Yes, they have been. We have made no difference between Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or Roman Catholics.

3226. (Mr. Firth.) I find that your Irish estate income for 1879–80, according to your return, was 12,309l., deducting balance carried forward, 840l., that leaves an income of 11,469l.; and I see that something over 2,000l. was devoted to the objects you speak of—2,125l.; is that about the usual proportion of your income that you apply for Irish purposes ?—I should think a larger proportion than that out of our income, certainly.

3227. I have the figures here. With respect to your English expenditure, perhaps I might ask you a question. I find that your total English expenditure was 29,790l., but there are items with respect to the purchase of land from the Saddlers' Company and the Dyers' Company; you purchased their shares of the Irish estates, did you not?—We have done so.

3228. There remains of current expenditure, as I read your account, five items on page 24: Expenses of maintenance, 7,275l.; entertainments, 3,046l.; gifts, 1,574l.; subscriptions and donations to decayed members and their relatives and others, 2,508l.; technical education, 575l. You did not give anything to technical education before 1878, I think ?—No, I think that was the first year in which we gave anything.

3229. Will you kindly tell me with respect to the other item as to gifts to decayed members and their relatives what that means; do you give to the relatives of your members?—Those who are related, such as widows and daughters. Every case is carefully investigated, of course.

3230. The items of current expenditure I have read over amount to 14,978l. I see that those two items, maintenance and management and entertainments, amount together to 10,322l. Do not you consider that a large proportion of your current expenditure for maintenance and entertainments ?—That includes a great many items.

3231. They are all put by you as maintenance and management. It is the second item to which I refer: "Rates, taxes, insurance (mostly repaid by tenants), salaries, wages, professional and other charges of maintenance of buildings and management, 7,275l." Then there are entertainments, 3,046l. ?—Yes, that is quite right.

3232. My question was, do not you consider the 10,322l., a somewhat large proportion to expend out of a current expenditure of 14,978l. for those purposes ?—Of course, it is a matter of opinion whether it is so or not. If each item is carefully investigated I do not think it will be considered a large proportion.

3233. Do you pay anything to your court of assistants or members of committees for their attendance? —We do.

3234. Where does that appear ?—It appears in our report.

3235. What is the yearly amount; it is not in this paper, I think ?—It is in page 28, under the head of management.

3236. Can you tell me what proportion of the 7,275l. is so appropriated ?—Do you speak of the entertainments or the management?

3237. I am speaking of the payment to the members of the court for attendance at committees ?—The committees and the courts are distinct. The court is attended by all the members; the committees are attendances of certain only of the members. Do you wish the whole amount?

3238. I was asking what proportion of this sum of 7,275l. was paid to the members of the court?— 2,130l.

3239. (Mr. Burt.) In answer to Sir Sydney Waterlow, I understood you to say that what you give for any purpose is given entirely on unsectarian grounds? —Entirely so.

3240. With regard to the next item mentioned here, Ministers and Church Sustentation Fund, church buildings, parsonages, &c., is that the Church of England ?—You will find in the second page, "Support of education, church building and parsonages."

3241. It is the Church of England, I suppose, in that case?—No, not exclusively. You are speaking of the church of Ireland, I presume ?

3242. Yes. With regard to charitable and other donations, on what principle is that money given; is that also entirely irrespective of creed ?—It is where applications are made to us for relief.

3243. Persons connected with the estate, I suppose? —Yes, certainly; they are our own tenants.

3244. With regard to the apprenticeship, is it merely nominal or are the apprentices really apprenticed to the Salters' ?—Our apprenticeship is actual servitude. We inquire very carefully into that, and some of our officers look after the apprentices from time to time to see that it is actual servitude.

3245. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Do you consider that the money which you give in charities, that is to say, in pensions and annuities of that kind, does a very great deal of good ?—I do, certainly.

3246. Do you consider that by supplying these pensioners with moneys you save them going upon the rates or going into the workhouse ?—Certainly, or from becoming absolutely destitute.

3247. Their home would be the workhouse if it were not for the assistance you give them, would it not ?—Yes, in a large number of cases, no doubt. We have some very sad cases, where the applicants have been the children or widows even of members of the court.