City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 4. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Henry Preston, by his will of the 20th February 1434, devised one tenement in Gracechurch Street; also one tenement called the Bell on the Hoop in the same street; also three other tenements in Lombard Street; also the great tenement formerly belonging to Sir William Walworth, Knight, in Thames Street, in aid of the support of poor men and women of the Company for ever. (fn. 1)
The Commissioners of Inquiry, by their report (vol. 12, p. 91), set forth the state of the property taken by the Company under the will, which then produced a rental of 790l. a year, and the amount distributed by the Company in weekly pensions and annuities, and to the half-yearly poor, as well as the amount given in casual relief, which appeared greatly to exceed the income of the estate.
The Commissioners also stated that the site of Sir Wm. Walworth's tenement was occupied by the Company's Hall, which it appeared to have been previously to the fire of London.
An information by the Attorney-General at the relation of Thos. Spencer Hall was filed on the 27th September 1832 (amended the 15th November 1833) against the Fishmongers' Company, alleging that the defendants had divers estates, property, and funds of considerable value, other than the said messuage, tenements, and premises of the gift of Henry Preston, vested in them in trust, the annual income of which was devoted to the general benefit of the poor of the said Company, and that the aggregate amount of the rents and profits, or annual income of the said several estates, &c., and of the said messuages, tenements, and premises of the gift of the said H. Preston, greatly exceeded the amount of monies expended by the said Company in each and every year to and for the general benefit and relief of the poor of the said Company, the overplus of which fell into and formed part of their general funds.
The information also charged that the Company had never paid and applied or in any manner allowed or given credit for in any account or in any manner whatsoever any specific sum of money or otherwise howsoever made allowance or compensation for or in respect of the rental or the use or occupation of the said large edifice as a common hall for the relief of the poor men and women of the said Company, so that the said Company had by means thereof had the use thereof for their general and corporate purposes without any compensation and in exclusion of any benefit whatsoever to the said charitable trust or to the poor men and women of the Company the objects thereof.
The information prayed that an account might be taken of the rents and profits or annual income, and all sums of money received or possessed by the said Company, or in respect of the said several messuages, tenements, and premises constituting the said charity estate, and vested in the defendants, including the purchase money received from the sale of any part thereof, with interest thereon, and that in such account the defendants might be charged with an occupation rent or adequate compensation or allowance for the use and occupation of the said edifice and building with the appurtenants in Thames Street, part of the said gift so occupied by the said defendants as a common hall as aforesaid; and an account might be in like manner taken of the application of such rents and profits by the defendants, and that such accounts might be taken for 20 years before the filing of the information, or for such other period as the Court might think proper; and that the defendants might be charged with and compelled to pay all such sums of money as upon the taking of the said accounts should appear not to have been paid and applied by them according to the charitable trusts and purposes of the said will, and that so much as should be so charged might be applied and disposed of under the direction of the Court in advancement of the said charitable trust in such manner as might be deemed expedient; and that the defendants might be charged with the costs of the relators of and incident to the suit to be paid out of the general fund.
The Company by their answer set forth in great detail the substance of various instruments prior and subsequent in date to the will and affecting the property the subject of the suit, alleging in particular that the house of Sir William Walworth occupied only a small part of the site of the Company's Hall, and that the testator, Henry Preston, however as to this and other portions of the property had been in fact a trustee for the Company; and they said that the Company had applied a sum of money out of the rents and income of the said estates annually and in every year, but varying from year to year, to the support of the poor men and women of the said Company who stood in need of relief and support and that they had therein-after set forth the particulars thereof; but defendants said they believed that it was the fact that the said Company for the time being had not and they said that they had not applied or appropriated the whole of the income of the said charity estates to such charitable trusts as aforesaid, but defendants said that such parts of the annual income arising from the messuages, &c., which had been so applied had been, as defendants were informed, out of the free will and mere motion of the said Company for the time being.
The Company, by their answer to the amended information, admitted that at the time of the inquiry before the Commissioners in 1824 the Company did not claim to be entitled to the lands, &c. in the said amended information mentioned as vested in them in fee simple as purchasers for a valuable consideration, but the said Company laid before the Charity Commissioners all the deeds, wills, and documents in their possession, whether copies or originals, and that they made no claim relating to the said estates or to any other estates, but submitted the whole, and the questions arising thereon, to the judgment of the said Commissioners. And they said that the further information they had obtained had arisen from the various laborious and expensive searches which they had caused to be made amongst the various records preserved as therein-before mentioned in order to be able to refer to the original wills and deeds and to give full answers and information to the several points mentioned and inquired after in the said original and amended informations of the AttorneyGeneral and in four other matters against the defendants and which the defendants were advised it was their duty to cause to be made.
The cause came on to be heard before Lord Langdale, M.R., who, by his decree of the 9th November 1839, dismissed the information with costs.
It appears to me important that the grounds on which this decision proceeded should be brought before the Commissioners. The case is one, no doubt, of great importance and peculiarity, and I have therefore obtained a copy of the shorthand note of his Lordship's judgment, which is as follows:—
Westminster, November 9th, 1839.
The Master of the Rolls.—This information prays for a declaration that the defendants are seised and possessed of certain property which was devised to the Fishmongers' Company by the will of Henry Preston in trust for the uses expressed in the said will, and not for their own use, subject only to the payment of two yearly sums of 26l. 13s. 4d. and 13l. 6s. 8d. chargeable thereon; and that the great hall of the Company, or a part thereof, constitutes part of the charity property, that an account may be taken of the rents of such parts of the property as have been let, and that the defendants may be charged therewith and with an occupation rent for the use of the hall for 20 years before the information was filed, and that a scheme may be settled for the future application of the charity property having regard to the testator's will in that behalf.
The will under which this relief is sought is dated the 20th February 1435, nearly 400 years before the information was filed. More than 400 years have elapsed since the death of the testator to whom the property is alleged to have belonged. The estate came into the possession of the Company within a few years after the death of the testator, and during the whole time which has since elapsed the property has been used and dealt with as part of the general property of the Company, and has been applied to the general purposes of the Company. These general purposes have been in part charitable, but no special destination has been given to the revenue arising from this property as distinguished from the other general property to which the Company is entitled.
The property was, by the will of Preston, devised to the wardens and commonalty of the Company, to be held by them in aid of the support of the poor men and women of the mistery and commonalty of the Company for ever; and this, the relator insists, is a charitable purpose to be executed by this Court, which ought to interfere, notwithstanding the lapse of time. The defendants contend that they have shown an absolute title in themselves; and it is necessary to advert to the circumstances under which the estate was acquired. The property consists partly of property situate in Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street, and partly of property which has been described as the great tenement in Thames Street. The Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street property in the time of King Richard II. belonged to John de Hillesdon, who charged it with a rentcharge of 20 marks for superstitious uses; and subject to that charge the property afterwards became vested in John Coventry, whose executors, having power to sell under his will, sold it to John Radwell, William Londsop, John Fitzgeoffrey, and Walter Pejon, by whom it was conveyed on the 27th day of May, in the eighth year of the reign of King Henry VI. (1429). Upon the death of Radwell this property became vested in Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon, the three survivors. The great tenement in Thames Street in the year 1368 belonged to John Lovekin; in 1413 it had become the property of William Axham, whose acting executor, Thomas Boteler, sold it to Sir Thomas Sackville and five other persons; and in the year 1432, by deed executed then, or in the course of a year or two next following, it was conveyed to Sir John Cornwall, Lord of Fanhope. It thus appears that in the year 1432 a part of the property now in question belonged to Sir John Cornwall, and that the remainder was vested in Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon. From the circumstances which afterwards took place it is at least probable that Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon were trustees for Sir John Cornwall. About the same time the Fishmongers' Company obtained a new charter, which was dated the 8th of February, in the 11th of Henry VI. (1432). This charter contains a licence to hold land in mortmain to a limited amount; and it is remarkable that the licence was "to hold land to the wardens and commonalty and their successors for ever in aid of the support of poor men and women of the mistery of the Company aforesaid," the same words which are employed by Preston in his will in relation to the property thereby imported to be given to the Company.
On the 11th of November 1434 Sir John Cornwall conveyed the great tenement to Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon, the three survivors of the four persons to whom the property in Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street had been conveyed a few years before; and on the 18th of November 1434 Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon granted to Sir John Cornwall an annual rent of 40 marks issuing out of both properties; an additional rent of five marks was payable if the rent of 40 marks was in arrear or unpaid for three months, and there was a power to enter and distrain. On the same 18th day of November 1434 Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon executed a deed, whereby, after reciting a lease which they had granted for 40 years to the re-lessees after named at the rent of a red rose, they released both properties together with other property which had formerly belonged to Thomas Wilford to John Mitchell, who is described as a citizen and alderman of London, to Thomas Cushons, John Whatton, Thomas Blakenhall, Henry Preston, Thomas Boteler, John Taxburght, Thomas Lyncoln, Richard Banaster, and Thomas Badley, who are described as citizens and Fishmongers, and to Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Wilford. On the next following day, viz., the 19th of November 1434, these 12 persons in whom the legal estate, not only of the property now in question, but also of the property formerly Wilford's, was vested, granted a rent of 40l. per annum to Sir John Cornwall, payable out of all the property so vested in them with powers of entry and distress; but there was a proviso that no levy should be made during the life of Elizabeth Wilford, and a further proviso that Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon should pay to Sir John Cornwall the rentcharge of 40 marks according to the former deed the annual rent of 40l. and the payment thereof should not be in any manner liable, but should be suspended, and only be raised when the rent of 40 marks was in arrear and unpaid. A confirmation of this deed was executed two days afterwards, and by means of it it would seem that Sir John Cornwall obtained an additional security for the payment of the rentcharge of 40 marks granted to him on the preceding 18th of November.
The whole property being now vested in John Mitchell and the 11 other persons named in the release of the 18th of November subject to the payment of the rent of 40 marks granted by the deed of even date, and to the payment out of Hillesdon's property of the rentcharge of 40 marks created by Hillesdon, and Sir John Cornwall having obtained an additional security for his rentcharge of 40 marks, it appears by a recital in a subsequent deed, and also by a recital in Preston's will, that on the 22nd of November 1434 John Mitchell and the 11 other persons demised, enfeoffed, and confirmed the great tenement to Hamwell, Watkins, and Gift, and their assigns for the whole life of Sir John Cornwall, Lord of Fanhope; and on the following 15th December 1434 John Mitchell and his co-relessees in a deed of the 18th of November, except Preston, without any consideration expressed released their right and claim to the estates to Henry Preston, his heirs and assigns for ever.
Upon a consideration of the facts thus stated, and having regard to the state of the law at the time, it appears to me that the property in question was acquired by the Company under an arrangement between them and Sir John Cornwall, that Henry Preston became and was a trustee for the Company, and that the Company acquired the property with an intention to hold it subject to the charges under the licence contained in their charter.
On the 1st of April 1437 Sir John Cornwall, Lord of Fanhope, made a will, whereby he devised the rentcharge of 40 marks to the prior and convent of Friar Preachers, near Ludgate, for superstitious uses. He made a subsequent will dated the 10th of December 1443 which did not alter that disposition and disposed of other property. After his death a deed dated the 20th of April 1446 was made between his executors and the wardens of the Fishmongers' Company, and thereby after stating the grant of the rentcharge of 40 marks, the enfeoffment to Mitchell and 11 others, the release to Henry Preston, the will of Henry Preston, and also the will of Sir John Cornwall it was witnessed that the executors of Sir John Cornwall by their common assent of their good grace, zeal, and love that they had unto the soul of Sir John Cornwall and the souls therein referred to, and to the intent that Sir John Cornwall's will might in all things be the better observed and kept for ever, paid to the wardens of the Company 400 marks sterling to have the same in recompense of the great charge and cost the Company had borne and done and to the helping of the reparation of the lands and tenements whereout the rentcharge was issuing, so that the will of Sir John Cornwall might be observed and kept in time coming. The sum of 400 marks being thus voluntarily paid by the executors of Sir John Cornwall to the Company in recompense of the costs and charges they had incurred, and in order to secure the performance of the will of Sir John Cornwall with respect to his intended application of the rentcharge of 40 marks, it seems to follow that in the opinion of the executors the performance of the will would have failed without this assistance, and consequently that the property was not then considered to be sufficient. But we may presume that the Company having received this assistance undertook to pay the rentcharges and continued to pay them for the intended purposes until the time of the Reformation; for we find a yearly sum of 26l. 13s. 4d., being 40 marks issuing out of the whole of this property, and a yearly sum of 13l. 6s. 8d., being 20 marks issuing out of the property situate in Lombard Street and Gracechurch Street, comprised in the letters patent or grant made for valuable consideration by King Edward VI. to the Company in the fourth year of his reign. In the meantime the property was treated as absolutely belonging to the Company.
Upon this case the relator contends first, that this was the property of Preston and is subject to the trusts of his will under which the defendants derived title; but, probably, perceiving that under the circumstances it might appear that Preston was not entitled beneficially or otherwise than as trustee for the Company, he further contends that, supposing Preston to have been only a trustee and to have made his will according to the directions of the Com pany, still the will expresses the terms upon which the Company took and professed to hold the property, and that those terms describe trusts from which the Company cannot be relieved. To this it is answered for the defendants, first, that the terms of Preston's will exactly correspond with the terms of the charter and cannot show a charitable trust any more than the charter shows that any other property held under the same licence is held upon a charitable trust to be executed in this Court, that property given by will, even if given by a stranger, which they insist, and, I think, with reason, Preston was not, for the very same purpose for which they were licensed to hold lands in mortmain could be held only on the same trusts, and in the same manner as all other lands held under the same licence; and it being, as was alleged, clear that the Court has no jurisdiction over other lands held under that licence it is argued that the Court has no jurisdiction over these lands.
It is, however, further contended that even if these lands, or the surplus rents, after satisfying the charge were subject to a charitable use, which might be executed in this Court, yet they were charged with annual sums exceeding the annual value of the property, and charged with those sums for superstitious uses; that those annual sums became the property of the Crown, and were by the Crown granted to the Company; and that afterwards by the Act of 4th James I. (fn. 2) the lands out of which the rents were issuing were secured to the Company, and that thereby the property became theirs; and I am of that opinion. We are now at a distance of 400 years from the time when the transaction took place, and it is very difficult, if not impossible, satisfactorily to explain every particular of the whole transaction; but I am of opinion that after so long an uninterrupted usage anything which seems ambiguous ought to be presumed in favour of the Company's title; and although the words of the charter and of Preston's will, which in my view must be taken to have been made in concurrence with the Company, import a trust such as might be executed by this Court, yet a trust could only attach on the surplus which remained after satisfying the specific charges, and in this case, with such reasons as the circumstances afford for thinking that at the time when the transaction took place the value of the property did not equal the charge, without any evidence that the value had increased before the grant of King Edward VI., and with an uninterrupted use of the property as belonging to the Company for so long a period, it appears to me that I ought to presume that the charges to which the Crown became entitled, and which were granted to the Company, were equal to if they did not exceed the whole value of the land. For these reasons I am of opinion that by the grant of the subsequent statute of James I. the estate became the property of the Company, and that this information must also be dismissed with costs.
The Attorney-General, by the same relator, appealed to the Lord Chancellor, and the cause came on to be heard before Lord Cottenham on the 19th June 1840. The Lord Chancellor gave judgment on the 13th of January 1841, when his Lordship dismissed the appeal with costs.
The judgment of Lord Cottenham was as follows:—
Lord Chancellor's Court,
13th January, 1841.
The Attorney-General v. the Fishmongers' Company. Judgment. Preston's Charity.
The Lord Chancellor:—The object of this information is to impeach the title to absolute ownership which the Fishmongers' Company have enjoyed for upwards of 400 years in various tenements in the City of London, and to have it declared that they have from the commencement of that period been and are now trustees of such property for charitable purposes. The case rests altogether upon the expressions used in the will of one Henry Preston under which the informants assume that the Company derive their title to the property, and by which will Henry Preston devised the property to the wardens and commonalty of the Company and their successors to have and to hold it to the said wardens and commonalty and their successors in aid of sustaining poor men and women of the mistery of the commonalty for ever. It was argued upon the principle that this Court recognises no limitation of time in case of trust, that no regard was to be paid in this case to the lapse of 400 years, which have passed away since the title of the Company appears to have accrued. Such a doctrine would be most dangerous, and might, if acted upon, be destructive of many of the best titles of the kingdom. If there be no doubt as to the origin and existence of a trust the principles of justice and the interests of mankind require that the lapse of time should not enable those who are mere trustees to appropriate to themselves that which is the property of others. But in questions of doubt whether any trust exists, and whether those in possession are not entitled to the property for their own benefit, the principles of justice and the interest of mankind require that the utmost regard should be paid to the length of time during which there has been enjoyment inconsistent with the existence of the supposed trust, one of the principal reasons for admitting limitations of suits is the difficulty of ascertaining the facts necessary to make it safe to exercise the judicial power. Upon this principle this Court has in many instances limited the period within which it will exercise its power; and it would, indeed, be strange if in case it has not done so it were altogether to disregard the lapse of time as applicable to the evidence on which it is called upon to act. To dispose of rights or property upon any evidence however apparently clear against a title and a course of dealing of 400 years would in any case be full of danger; and no judge, not destitute of that degree of prudence and discretion which is essential to the due administration of all systems of law, but particularly to that of equity, would feel justified in doing so, if any reasonable suggestion could be made reconciling the history of transactions long since passed away with the enjoyment of the property. Of this the present case furnishes a strong example. There is nothing upon the face of the will to show that Henry Preston was not the beneficial owner of the property or to explain the expressions to be found there from which a charitable trust might be inferred. But if a court of equity having nothing but the will before it were to take from the Company the beneficial interest in the property, an act of the greatest injustice would, I believe, have been the consequence. Fortunately, I am not in that difficulty, for I have evidence before me, which if it does not demonstrate that the Company were from the commencement beneficial owners of this property, raises so strong a presumption that such was the case as to relieve me from all doubt as to the duty I have to perform.
The Fishmongers' Company, though it had previously existed as a guild or fraternity, was not incorporated until the year 1433, and their charter contains a licence to hold lands of the value of 20l. per annum, notwithstanding the then statutes of mortmain. Before that time the fraternity could only hold lands by procuring them to be conveyed and held by trustees, and as they were within the statute of the 15th Richard II., chap. 5., they could not do this openly, and after that time they could in their own right only hold lands of the annual value of 20l.; but by the ascertained custom of the City of London, citizens, though they could not convey lands in mortmain, were entitled to devise them in mortmain, and the corporations were entitled to accept the lands so devised, whatever might be their value, and from this a course of proceeding was adopted to enable the city corporations to hold more lands than their charters authorised. The corporations purchasing lands procured them to be conveyed to trustees, and such trustees conveyed them to some one person who, by his will, devised them to the corporations. The evidence of Mr. Hardy, and the documents to which he refers, proves that such was the course of business in the City of London at the date of the transactions now under consideration, which is the whole that is necessary. The answer puts in issue facts, and there is sufficient in the books to show the probability of such having been the object and legal consequence of such facts, and no attempt was made to meet by evidence or authority the case so made on behalf of the defendants. Assuming therefore, as I must, that such was the usual course of proceeding, the examination of the documents in evidence, as to whether they establish the theory of the plaintiff or of the defendants, will lead to a short, and I think, a satisfactory conclusion, the theory of the plaintiff being, that Henry Preston was absolutely entitled to the property, and devised it to the Company upon the charitable trusts mentioned in his will, and the theory of the defendants being, that he was only a trustee for them, and that his will was only an execution of the trust on which he before held the property. It is important for this and for another purpose to keep in mind that there is very strong evidence that the property was not at the time worth so much as the rentcharges upon it, or did not produce sufficient income to pay them. The inquisition post-mortem of John Lovekin, charging 40 marks upon other property as well as on the great tenement, and the deed of the 20th April 1446, which assumes the inadequacy of the premises to pay the charges, establish that fact sufficiently to justify its assumption in the exami nation of the history of the transactions. If, therefore, the property did belong to Henry Preston, his devise of it to charitable purposes was a mere mockery; but if it was then the property of the Company no such absurdity follows from his restoring it to its rightful owners.
In 1429 the property in Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street was vested in four persons, Radwell, Lordsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejoir; and the first having died, the three last subsequently dealt with it alone. This was before the incorporation of the Company, which was not until 1433. If, therefore, these persons hold this property on trust for the Company, the course usually at that time adopted for such a purpose would appear to have been followed, and the subsequent transactions will show whether they were so or whether they were beneficially entitled to the property. The great tenement had become vested in Sir John Cornwall, and by deed of the 11th November 1434 he conveyed it to the same persons, Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon; and on the 18th November 1434 they granted to him, charged upon this property and other property which they held under the deed of 1429, an annual rent of 40 marks with a power of entry and distress, and in the event of nonpayment bound themselves personally to pay five marks as a penalty. On the same day Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon executed another deed, by which they conveyed all the property in Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street, and the great tenement, in fee to John Mitchell, described as a citizen and alderman of London, and 10 other persons, of whom Henry Preston was one, described as citizens and fishmongers. By another deed of the 19th of November 1434, Mitchell and the other 10 charged an annual rent of 40l. upon all the property comprised in the last deed, and upon various other properties stated to be vested in them, in favour of Sir John Cornwall, but with a proviso that such annual rent should not be demandable if the rent of 40 marks was regularly paid, and with a proviso against their being personally liable. It may well be asked why if these parties were purchasers they should charge this and other property with the rent of 40l. to secure the 40 marks? By another deed of the 15th December, Mitchell and 9 of the 10, Henry Preston being omitted, released to Henry Preston and his heirs all their estates and interests in the property in Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street, and the great tenement; and on the 20th February Henry Preston made his will, which recites the transactions as to the property in Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street, and the great tenement; and reciting that he had thereby become solely seized thereof in his demesne as of fee simple, devised the whole of such property to certain persons named and described as "the wardens of the Company and the commonalty of the same mistery and their successors for ever, in aid of the sustentation of poor men and women of the said mistery and commonalty for ever." The will is confined to this object, and takes no notice of any other property, and is in the form in use at that time for passing trust property, as is proved by Mr Hardy. If Radwell, Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon were trustees of the Gracechurch Street property and the Lombard Street property, and if the Company purchased the great tenement from Sir John Cornwall, it is very consistent with such a supposition that after the death of Radwell the other three should deal with the property, and that after the purchase of the great tenement the consideration for such purchase, that is, the 40 marks, should be charged upon other property belonging to the Company, and that these three should convey the whole to other trustees, viz., Mitchell and the 10 others. And if these II were trustees for the Company it is proved to have been according to the usual course of business in such cases that the trustees should convey to one that such one might by will vest the property in the Company for whom it was held in trust, but if Henry Preston was benefically entitled to the property so must have been Mitchell and the other 10, and so must have been Radwell, Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon. But besides the improbability of so many persons acquiring and immediately departing with their shares and interests in this property, and the impossibility of accounting for their dealing with the property on that supposition, there is no appearance of any consideration being given by the 11 to the three, or by Henry Preston to the 10, for the transfer of their interests; and the deed between the executors of Sir John Cornwall and the Company strongly confirms the supposition that the transaction was from the beginning between him and the Company. I observe that the Master of the Rolls seems to think it probable that Londsop, Fitzgeoffrey, and Pejon were trustees of the property in Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street for Sir John Cornwall. For the purpose of the present question it is not material whether they were trustees for him or for the Company, though for the reasons I have given I think the better presumption is that they were trustees for the latter. The plaintiffs' proposition is that they were the beneficial owners; the contrary of which is all but demonstrated by the evidence. I have, therefore, no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the Company did not derive the beneficial interest in the property from Henry Preston's will; whereas before I could entertain the case made by the informants I must have been satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that they did derive their title under it.
It was then said that although Henry Preston might be in fact a trustee for the Company, yet that the terms of his will imposed upon the Company a duty of applying the property to charitable purposes.
It is not easy to conceive how an expression used by a trustee can alter the estate and destroy the interest of the cestui que trust, but the fact that the words used are precisely those that are to be found in the licence to hold lands in mortmain comprised in the charter of the Company explains the ground of their introduction into Henry Preston's will, and proves there was no intention of affecting the estate and interest of the Company in this property.
There is another ground of defence on the part of the defendants which remains to be observed upon. I have before stated that the property in question appears to have been of less annual value than the two rents charged upon it, which seems to have been a sufficient ground for the title of the owners of the property itself under the statutes of the 1st Edward VI., chap. 14. In Adams v. Lambert, 4th Coke's Reports, 112b., it is said to have been resolved in a case in which land of the value of 20l. per annum was given, 10l. to a priest, 5l. for an obit, and 5l. for a lamp, all the uses being superstitious the land itself belongs to the king, " for inasmuch as all the profits are limited to the superstitious uses, it was the intent of the Act to give all the land to the king by a reasonable construction upon the coherence and intention of all parts of the Act." That being so, I have observed in another case it was immaterial whether the Crown actually seized the land itself or only the rents, the letters patent of the 4th Edward VI. and the Act of the 4th James I. having had the effect of giving to the Company all that the Act of the 1st Edward VI. had given to the king. (fn. 3) This probable ground of title coupled with 400 years' enjoyment would of itself have been an answer to the claim made by the information. In this case it is unnecessary to pursue that point further, as this additional ground is not required to support the decree of the Master of the Rolls, which I now affirm and dismiss the appeal with costs.
But I cannot part with this case without expressing my regret that this proceeding should have been instituted without that ordinary degree of consideration and research which, if exercised, must have satisfied the relators that there was no foundation for the case attempted to be made. The title to the property after an enjoyment of 400 years is questioned, and great trouble and great expense necessarily incurred to the owners upon some expressions found in a will of the year 1434, which even a slight attention to the history of the times, the then state of the law, and the transactions relating to property which the relators do not appear to have taken any pains to ascertain, would have shown to be wholly unavailing for the purpose of supporting the claim made. The loss which this attempt will occasion to the relators is no compensation for the injury which it must have occasioned to the defendants, from which I regret the inability of the Court to relieve them beyond the costs of the suit given by the decree of the Master of the Rolls and the costs of the appeal which I now order them to pay to the defendants.
The claim of the Company to be the absolute owners of the entire estate in question, free from any charitable trust, is therefore established by these decrees. It is right, however, to add that the Company have not discontinued the relief to the poor members of the Company which they were in the habit of bestowing before the above-mentioned suit was instituted. Large sums are constantly distributed in weekly pensions, annuities, and payments to what are called the half-yearly poor, and in casual aid. The amount thus granted to the poor of the Company amounted, as I am informed, in the last year to the sum of 4,314l. 0s. 5d. The effect of the decree has been that these sums instead of being debited to any particular charities are allowed and paid out of the general funds of the Company.
Almshouses of Mark Quested at Harrietsham, Kent.
Mark Quested, by his will 27th January 1642, gave to the Company all his manor of Pencourt at Hollingbourne, let at 182l. per annum, on trust with one year's income and 100l. added, to purchase a piece of land and build 12 almshouses for 12 poor almsfolk, and to pay to every one 6l. a year.—72l.
|To four Masters of Arts of Oxford or Cambridge, 8l. a piece||32||0||0|
|To four students of ditto, 4l. a piece||16||0||0|
|To 10 poor children of Christ's Hospital, 4l. a piece||40||0||0|
and the residue to the wardens for a dinner to the livery.
The estates devised by the will, and still belonging to the Company, are—
Pencourt Farm, consisting of a farmhouse and buildings, and about 176 acres of land, some portion having been exchanged since the last inquiry
Allington Farm, farmhouse, and buildings, and 202 acres, 1 rood, 30 perches of land let to Batchelor Roper, junr., on lease
The total acreage, including some acquisitions made by the Company, exceeds the above quantity.
The rent exceeds the sum of 160l., which is the amount of the charge, and the Company do not consider themselves bound to render any further account of the rental of the estates which they claim as the property of the Company subject to the specific charges.
It is to be observed that the question is whether the gift of the "residue" to the Company, under the circumstances in which the testator sets out first the annual value of his estate at 182l., and then specifically appropriates the sum to divers objects, amounting to 160l., and concludes by saying " the residue" shall go to the Company, the word "residue" should not be read as if he had said and the remaining 22l. a year.
The almshouses at Harrietsham were first built in 1651, and were rebuilt by the Company in 1770 and 1772. They consist of 12 distinct houses under the same roof with a good garden to each, which the almspeople had in their own occupation. Six of the almspersons are free of the Company, and six are parishioners of the parish. They are all chosen by the Company, but as to the parishioners a presentment is made by the clergyman, churchwardens and parishioners, and two justices of the peace of the names of eligible persons, from whom the Company elect. I append a printed copy of the orders and rules of the almshouses.
The six almspeople of the Company receive each 12s. per week if married, and 7s. per week if single. The sums paid in 1860 amounted together to 135l. 4s. This included the 35l. 10s. 4d. per annum under Copping's gift. (See page 7 of this Report.)
The parishionary almspeople are paid each 6l. per annum, 36l.
This payment has been made to them since the 1st August 1827, soon after the last inquiry. (See Vol. 12, page 122.)
They also receive under Owen's gift annually (see page 36 of this Report) 1l.
The Company allow the free people 36 cwt. of coal, and the parishionary almspeople 12 cwt. of coal, it being understood that the parish provides them with additional fuel.
In 1860 the coals were furnished by the Company at an expense of 21l. 12s. The clothes supplied to the 12 almspeople requires an expenditure of about 12l. a year. The upper keeper is allowed 5l. 5s. a year as superintendent, formerly the reader, a duty which is now performed by the rector or curate gratuitously. The paymaster, who is the tenant of the Company of the estate, is allowed 10l. a year. There are also repairs which are done at the expense of the Company, and which in 1860 amounted to 13l.
The Company also pay Mr. Sedgwick, surgeon of Hollingbourn, the medical attendant of the almspeople, 15l. 15s. a year.
In 1860 about 6l. was paid for nursing one of the poor almspeople, and 3l. for the funeral; the Company also contribute to the local schools.
The income arising from the endowments, for the special purpose of the almshouse, thus appears to be,
And the charges and allowances borne and paid by the Company, as to the excess from their own bounty, amounted to 154l. 15s. 8d. in the year 1860.
Masters of Arts and Students in the Universities.
It appears by the books of the Company that from 1652 to 1654 the students appear first to have been paid, and that in 1689 a person was elected an exhibitioner, but payments to them appear to have ceased from 1690. In February 1704 there was a reference to a committee to report on these exhibitions, but no report seems to have been made. On the 5th July 1838 the court of the Company ordered that four Masters of Arts of Oxford or Cambridge, being poor and having need thereof, be appointed to exhibitions at 8l. per annum under Quested's will; also, that four students of Oxford or Cambridge be appointed to exhibitions of 4l. a year under the same will, and it was referred to a committee to consider the best way of carrying it out. The committee on the 25th July 1838 recommended that advertisements should be published in the newspapers of the counties of Oxford and Cambridge, as follows:—
" Notice is hereby given that the Fishmongers' Company have now in their gift eight exhibitions, viz., to four Masters of Arts 8l. a piece yearly, and to four students 4l. a piece yearly so long as they shall abide at their study in either of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge being poor and having need thereof. Parties desirous of being candidates will be pleased to apply to Mr. Towse, at the Fishmongers' Hall, London, by letter on or before the 1st November next."
On the 1st August 1838 the court approved the report, and ordered the advertisement to be inserted. On the 15th November following the court proceeded to the election, and chose a gentleman of Trinity College, and a gentleman of Queen's College, as two of the Masters of Arts; and at a subsequent court the other two nominations of masters were filled up. One of these gentlemen has ever since held it. I append the forms of election and of the certificate under which the payment is made.
On the 18th November 1839 a sum of 112l. was invested in 3l. per cent. Annuities of 1726, and from that period any balance which arose from the exhibitions not being paid to the Masters of Arts, or from dividends of the stock, have been invested until 1854, when the 1726 stock was paid off and the amount converted into 3l. per cent. Reduced Stock. The total amount invested up to the 19th October 1860 was 256l. 4s. 7d. cash, producing 274l. 2s. 4d. 3l. per cent. Reduced Stock. In consequence of the dividend on that stock amounting to 8l., by order of the court of the Company of the 12th March 1855 each of the Masters of Arts now receive 10l. a year instead of 8l.
The nominations are all now full. Advertisements are inserted on the occurrence of vacancies.
The same general orders of the Company applied for the nomination and election of students as of masters, and on the 15th November 1838 the four exhibitions of 4l. per annum each were filled up, and the same have since been filled up, to the number of four, as vacancies have occurred. I append the form of certificates applicable to the studentships.
In November 1839 the sum of 48l. was invested in the 3l. per cent. Annuities 1726; and in like manner the dividends or unapplied surplus was accumulated until 1854, when the fund was converted into 3l. per cent. Reduced Stock. The total amount of money invested up to October 1860 was 146l. 4s. 2d. cash, producing 155l. 18s. 9d. 3l. per cent. Reduced Stock; and according to the order of the court of the Company of the 12th March 1855, the dividends thereon exceeding 4l. per annum, the exhibitions to the students were raised to 5l. per annum each. (fn. 4)
It appears by the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry (p. 123, vol. 12), "that in consequence of the embarrassment which took place after Mr. Quested's death, in the execution of the trusts of his will, the benefaction given by him to Christ's Hospital remained inoperative until the year 1683, when a conference took place respecting it between a committee of governors of the hospital and a committee of the Company. The result of this conference, upon a statement made of the difficulties which the Company had encountered, and the inadequacy of the trust fund to fulfil the charities charged thereon, was an agreement that the Company should pay to the hospital 200l., and that the governors should receive into the hospital six poor children presented to them by the Company, being paid for each of them 4l. 3s. 4d. a year towards their maintenance."
The Commissioners add that the Company had ever since paid yearly to Christ's Hospital 25l., and had always six children maintained there, sons of freemen of the Company.
In the year 1841 the Company laid a case before counsel, stating the constitution and early history of Christ's Hospital, and that long before the agreement of 1683, " disputes had frequently arisen among the governors respecting the manner in which children were usually admitted so as to render the right of presentation in many cases merely nominal and always extremely troublesome. By the customary mode of proceeding either all petitions were read and the general court made choice of the most prominent cases, or a committee was appointed to reduce the number of petitions, according to the conditions of the several parishes from which they came, the final decision still resting with the court, or else the aldermen and governors in a body presented each a petition, and the selection depended as usual upon the court. The rejected petitions naturally gave rise to murmuring and discontent, whilst the canvassing which was necessary to secure a majority of votes was at once unpleasant and laborious. In order therefore to silence these complaints, many of which proceeded from benefactors to a large amount, and from others from whom the hospital had considerable expectations, it was resolved upon one occasion that every alderman should forthwith be complimented with two presentations and every governor with one."
The case then stated the rules of admission to Christ's Hospital adopted in 1683–84, and the articles of agreement of 1782. It set forth the various proceedings of the court of the Fishmongers' Company on the subject of that portion of Mark Quested's bequest in connexion with Christ's Hospital, and the minutes of the conference of the 18th February 1683, at which the agreement referred to was made, the material part of which is as follows:—
" Mr. Freeman Hause here present, being one of the assistants of the said Company, reported the case concerning the said will and the reasons why the 40l. yearly therein mentioned hath not hitherto been paid, partly by reason of the great demands of the testator's widow, and the payments made to her thereout during her life, and also of the great charges expended in a suite of lawe to settle the same; and, moreover, for that the lands for some years could not be lett to a certayne tenant, and acquainting them that about eight years now last past the lands that were given to pay charityes and other legacyes, amounting to 180l. per annum, were lett but at 110l. per annum. And that the Company were ready to divide and pay out 100l. yearly in those charities in proportion to his will, reserving the odd 10l. for and towards the reparations of 12 almshouses, and for other charges incident thereto, whereby there would be payable to Christ's Hospital about 25l. yearly towards the maintenance of poore children therein, as appeared by a particular account thereof now here produced and showed; and he did believe that the Company of Fishmongers would be willing to give to the governors of Christ's Hospital the sum of 200l. in money, so as the governors will take and keepe six children in their hospital for the time to come upon the allowance mentioned in his will.
"All which being by the several committees above named considered of and debated, as also the foote of the accompts for those lands in the Company's hands, it was agreed by the committee for the said hospital that the said Company paying to the said governors the sum of 200l, they would receive 6 poor children into the said hospital to be presented to them by the said Company upon paying the sum of 4l. 3s. 4d. a peace yearlye to them towards their maintenance therein, but that the badge should not be worne by the said children, for that none weare badges there only those of the King's Majesty's foundation; and that as any dyed and were disposed of, others should be presented and taken into their roome. And that if hereafter the rents of the lands did rise or fall, the number of the children should be increased or lessened accordingly. To all which the committee for the said Company, according to their order, desired to reporte the same to the next courte to be holden for their said Company for their order therein."
The question submitted to counsel arose on the latter part of the above agreement (underlined). The case stated that "the revenue of the estate was now more than sufficient to pay the 40l. per annum," and it asked the opinion of counsel whether the Fishmongers' Company could, under the will of Mark Quested, present 10 children of poor freemen of the Company to Christ's Hospital, and require the governors of Christ's Hospital to accept and receive such 10 children on the terms of the said will, or on the basis of the agreement between them and the Company; if not, how otherwise? And if they could present 10 children, then to advise what is the best course for the Company to adopt to ensure the acceptance of such 10 children in their presentation, and to advise the Company generally on the premises.
It will probably be anticipated that the advice of counsel was, that the Company could not maintain their claim, and that it did not advise them to insist upon it, looking upon the agreement to reduce the number of children to six as having been always treated as absolute and unconditional. I mention this claim and its nature chiefly as showing that the Company must consistently have regarded the increase of rent as being for the benefit of the different branches of the charity, as well as of the parties interested in the gift under the word "residue," and as therefore affecting the construction I have above hinted at.
The sum paid to Christ's Hospital still continues to be 25l. a year, and the Company always have six presentees on the hospital books. It is sufficient that the parents of the children are free of the Company, or according to the will not free, if there are none eligible who are free. There have been always free applicants. It is not necessary that they should be free of the city, and the Company guard against the freedom of the city, if possessed, being in any respect used at the time of the presentation. The nomination is made nearly once a year. It is made upon the petition of the parent or guardian to the court.
There have been 59 nominations in the present century.
Almshouses at Harrietsham, in the county of Kent.
The Wardens and Assistants of the Mistery of Fishmongers of the City of London.
1642, 27th January.—Mark Quested, Esq., by will dated the 27th of January 1642, devised and bequeathed to the wardens and commonalty of the mistery of Fishmongers of London all his messuages and lands, with his manor of Pencourt, situate in Hollingbourne, in the county of Kent, with directions (among other things) to purchase ground in the parish of Harrietsham, in the said county, where he was born, and to build thereon 12 almshouses for 12 poor almsfolks, six of whom to be of the poor of the parish of Harrietsham, and six to be of the poor, free of the said Company.
1676, 28th April, and 1677, 23rd May.—John Owen, by indentures of these dates, gave 270l., and directed the sum of 20s., part of the interest thereof, to be paid yearly on the 20th of March, to six poor almsfolks, free of the Company in Harrietsham almshouses.
1686, 8th January.—Jeremiah Copping, by will of the 8th of January 1686, gave certain monies for the maintenance of poor old almsmen of the Company. Under this benefaction the sum of 36l., is appropriated yearly in the relief of the six almspeople, free of the Company in Harrietsham almshouses.
Orders for the Government of the Almshouses.
The paymaster is to attend at the almshouses to pay the pensions, to examine into the state of the almspeople, and to report thereon, with every other matter, in writing, to the governors at Midsummer and Christmas.
If any of the almspeople offend againt the rules and orders, the paymaster is to adopt such measures thereon as he may deem requisite, and in all matters of importance report the same to the governors.
The superintendent appointed by the governors from among the almsmen is to read prayers to the almspeople, assembled in his house, and he is to take care of the goods and chattels in the house of any deceased almsman or almswoman, until they are removed by permission of the paymaster; to see that the almspeople take care of the gardens allotted to them, and that the other parts of the ground, as well as the out-buildings, be kept clean and in good order and condition, to take notice of all offences committed by the almspeople, and acquaint the paymaster therewith.
Six members of the Company who have been free five years, being 50 years of age, are eligible to be admitted into the almshouses.
The widow of an almsman is eligible to be elected, being 50 years of age.
The governors have also elected a freeman's widow, being 50 years of age.
Six persons, parishioners of Harrietsham, are also eligible to be admitted into the almshouses.
The widow of a parishionary almsman is eligible to be continued in the almshouses.
Rules to be observed by the Almspeople.
1. All the almspeople (except such as are prevented by sickness) shall both in the forenoon and afternoon of every Lord's day, in due time, repair to some place of public worship, and attend divine service.
2. All the almspeople (except such as are prevented by sickness) shall attend every Wednesday morning, at 10 o'clock, at the superintendent's house, to join in public prayer, according to the rites of the Church of England.
3. None of the almspeople shall use any blasphemous words, or on any occasion be drunk, or at any time make use of any bitter, uncharitable or offensive speeches, or give any blow to any other of the almspeople, or act disorderly or dishonestly, upon pain of being expelled the hospital.
4. None of the almspsople shall be absent from the almshouses during the night, without leave from the superintendent, who is allowed to permit such of the almspeople as he shall see fit, on urgent occasions, to lie out of the almshouses; but no permission shall be given to any of the almspeople to lie out more than two nights successively, without the consent of the paymaster.
5. The almspeople shall have no person to reside with them or attend upon them, but in case of sickness the paymaster may allow a woman to attend as nurse being of the age of 50 years.
6. The almspeople shall not damage any of the houses, break down any of the fences, or destroy any of the trees.
7. None of the almspeople, or any person whatever, shall lay or cast any rubbish, dust, or filth in any of the almshouses, or in any part of the grounds, ditches, or drains thereto belonging, or wash fish, vegetables or any utensils, at or near the pump.
8. The almspeople shall keep clean their dwellings, and the pavement before and behind the same, and the garden allotted to each house; and shall also keep repaired the glass in their windows at their own charge, or in default thereof, the expense of repairing them shall be deducted out of their pensions.
9. The almspeople shall behave peaceably and quietly, and be helpful to each other.
10. No almsman or almswoman shall marry without the consent of the governors, upon pain of being expelled.
11. If any almsman shall have a wife or any almswoman a husband, the wife of the almsman shall be allowed to dwell with her husband, and the husband of the almswoman with his wife, and in every offence against these orders, the offence of the wife shall be deemed the offence of the husband; and the offence of the husband the offence of the wife.
12. Upon the decease of any of the almspeople, none of the goods or chattels in the house of the deceased shall be removed, without the permission of the paymaster; and that care may in the meantime be taken of such goods and chattels, the key of the house shall be delivered to the superintendent.
13. The coat and gown of the almsman or almswoman, that shall die or be removed, shall remain to the house for the succeeding almsman or almswoman, if such had been received within six months previously to the decease or removal of the said almsman or almswoman.
14. These rules shall be read by the superintendent to the almspeople assembled for that purpose at his house, on every 24th day of June and every 21st day of December.
15. Offences committed against any of these rules shall be from time to time stated by the superintendent to the paymaster.
These orders and rules were made in the wardenship of—
|Thomas Bodley, Esq., Prime Warden.|
|John Towgood, Esq.||Wardens.|
|Samuel Mills, Esq.|
|Evan Edwards, Esq.|
|James Davidson, Esq.|
|James Ebenezer Saunders, Esq.|
And ordained at a court holden on the 20th day of July 1826.
John David Towse,
Clerk to the Company.
Forms of Certificates to be delivered on the nomination of a Master of Arts to Mark Quested's Gift of 8l. per annum.
To be signed by the heads of the College.
This is to certify that A. B. is a Master of Arts of College in the University of As witness our hands this day of 18
To be signed by parties who know the facts.
This is to certify that A. B., the person named in the above certificate, is poor and hath need of Mark Quested's Gift of 8l. per annum. As witness our names hereto subscribed this day of 18.
Form of the Certificate to be delivered by a Master of Arts every time he applies for payment of the yearly sum of 8l. under the will of Mark Quested.
To be signed by the heads of the College.
This is to certify that A. B., a Master of Arts of
College, in the University of, hath abided there at his study from (the date of his appointment to the said gift, or the last payment thereof,) to (the time of the yearly payment of the said gift, or to the time the said Master of Arts ceases to abide at either of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge), and that he is poor and hath need of the said Mark Quested's Gift.
The gift is payable at Fishmongers' Hall, upon the production of a certificate, according to the above form, and if the Master of Arts does not attend to receive the gift, he may draw a bill on Mr. Towse, the clerk of the Company, payable at three days' sight, to which bill must be annexed a certificate as above mentioned, and in which bill the period for which and when the gift became due must be stated.
It is particularly requested that every Master of Arts upon discontinuing to abide in either of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, or becoming ineligible to hold the gifts, will advise the clerk of the Company by letter.
Forms of Certificates to be delivered on the nomination of a Student to Mark Quested's Gift of 4l. per annum.
To be signed by the heads of the College.
This is to certify that A. B. is a student of College, in the University of As witness our hands this day of 18.
To be signed by parties who know the facts.
This is to certify that A. B., the person named in the above certificate, is poor and hath need of Mark Quested's Gift of 4l. per annum. As witness our names hereto subscribed this day of 18.
Forms of the Certificate to be delivered by a Student every time he applies for payment of the yearly sum of 4l. under the will of Mark Quested.
To be signed by the heads of the College.
This is to certify that A. B., a student of College, in the University of, hath abided there at his study from (the date of his appointment to the said gift on the last payment thereof) to (the time of the yearly payment of the said gift or to the time the said student ceases to abide at either of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge), and that he is poor and hath need of the said Mark Quested's Gift.
The gift is payable at Fishmongers' Hall, upon the production of a certificate according to the above form, and if the student does not attend to receive the gift, he may draw a bill on Mr. Towse, the clerk of the Company, payable at three days' sight, to which bill must be annexed a certificate as above mentioned, and in which bill the period for which and when the bill became due must be stated.
It is particularly requested that every student upon discontinuing to abide in either of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, or becoming ineligible to hold the gifts, will advise the clerk of the Company by letter.
Barnard Randolph having paid the Company the sum of 200l., the Company, by indenture of 20th March 1582, for themselves and their successors, promised to make the following payments:—
|To the churchwardens of Ticehurst, Sussex, 40s. for mending the horseways, and 40s. for the poor||4|
|For the poor of St. Nicholas Olave, London||1|
|For the poor of St. Mary Magdalen, London||1|
|For a scholar at Cambridge||4|
The payment for the parish of Ticehurst is made to the churchwardens of that parish, and the 1l. each to the two city parishes is also paid to their respective churchwardens.
The scholar at Cambridge, who is to be "towardly and "a student of divinity," to be named by the Bishop of London, and on a vacancy of the see, by the Lord Mayor of London, and in default by the wardens, is always nominated by the court of the Company. It is at present full, having been held five years by the same person.
Lettice Smith devised, by her will in 1510, her shop to the Company to pay,—
|To the prisoners of Ludgate, in bread and drink||3||4|
|To the prisoners of Newgate||3||4|
|" of the King's Bench||3||4|
|" of the Marshalsea||3||4|
The sum of 6s. 8d. is paid to an officer of the corporation, as representing the city prisons, and the other 6s. 8d. to the governor of the Queen's Bench.
It is stated in the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry (volume 12, page 94) that "the Company cannot tell what were the premises given by Lettice Smith." From an examination which a committee of the Company made in 1835 and 1836 it was considered that the premises called the Maidenhead in Bridge Street (now forming part of No. 21, Fish Street Hill), having a frontage of 7 feet and a depth of 12 feet 8 inches, were what came originally from Lettice Smith. The will directs that certain masses shall be performed, and the Company state that the property was seised by the Crown, but was afterwards, as they allege, repurchased by the Company. They consider themselves only bound to pay the 13s. 4d. a year, although in the first instance (since Midsummer 1835) they have credited the trust with one third of the rent received halfyearly from No. 21, Fish Street Hill, and after debiting the account with the amount paid to the prisons, the balance has been carried to the general funds of the Company.
In March and April 1852 the Lord Chief Baron with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London held courts for inquiring into the gifts due to prisons under the statute 4 Geo. 4. c. 64. At that time the following examination took place as is reported in the minutes of proceedings.
Mr. Wm. Beckwith Towse (sworn).
Q. Are you the clerk of the Fishmongers' Company?— A. Yes.
Q. Is that a copy of Lettice Smith's will?—A. Yes.
Q. Where is that taken from?—A. From the will book.
Q. Is that the whole will or an extract?—A. The whole will, so far as I know, dated in 1510.
Q. Do the Company take anything under this will except the shop of testator?—A. Not anything.
Q. Where is that shop situated?—A. In Fish Street Hill.
Q. What rent does it now pay?—A. It is only one portion of the premises, the portion that is derived from it may be worth about 12l. 13s. 4d.
Q. The original shop forms part of the house now?— A. Yes; being a fourth part of one house.
Q. Does the rent of the house belong to the Company? —A. Not altogether, we had to lease the centre part of it from the parish of St. Peter's, Cornhill.
Q. It is, "I bequeath to Our Lady Altar, where I have bequeathed my body, a bodkin, a white silk with flowers of gold; and as for my shop I give it to the Company of Fishmongers. Howbeit by my life it is mine, and after my decease it is to them to perform my will." That is the bequest?—A. Yes.
Q. "First, I will that my son, John Neve, shall have during his life, out of my said shop, 40s. every year; also I will that the Company of the clothing of the Fishmongers be at my burial, both at dirige and at mass; and also I will that the six wardens of the Company with the clothing shall keep yearly for my husband's soul, James Smyth, and for my soul, Lettys Smith, and for the soul of John Neve, and for all their friends' souls, and all Christian souls yearly a dirige and a mass by note; also I will that the six wardens shall have every year to each of them twenty pence apiece for their labours; and I will that there shall be spent in bread, cheese, and ale on the Company of the craft of Fishmongers and on the poor people of St. Margaret's, 10s.; also I bequeath to the prisoners of Ludgate 3s. 4d. in bread and drink, and to the prisoners of Newgate 3s. 4d., and to the King's Bench 3s. 4d., and to the Marshalsea 3s. 4d., all in like manner as is to Ludgate."
During what period can you speak of the payment of the 3s. 4d. to the different prisoners?—A. From the time the Company's books go back.
Q. A hundred years probably?—A. More than that.
Q. The same sum is paid to each?—A. Yes.
Q. The receipts are taken from the keeper of the prisons?—A. Yes. The Ludgate and Newgate are paid to the hall keeper, the King's Bench and Marshalsea to the Queen's Bench people.
Q. What is done with the remainder of the 12l. 13s. 4d.?
—A. It belongs to the Company.
Q. The whole of that is applied to the purposes of the Company?—A. It is a specific right.
Q. I was only asking in fact what is done. The remaining portion in fact goes to the Company's funds?— A. I believe I must not answer any further questions. We pay the amount as directed by the will.
I should add that it appears by the letters patent of Edward VI. before referred to, that the king granted to the Company 10s. yearly, issuing out of a messuage of the Company in Bridge Street, which the Company had lately paid towards the perpetual support of the anniversary of Lettice Smith, in the church of St. Botolph near Billingsgate, and that the title of the Company to the same messuage, as against the Crown, is confirmed by the statute of King James, also before referred to.
Leonard Smith, by his will of the 31st March 1601, gave to the Company 20l. for two of the yeomanry. The sum forms part of the "Loan Trust Fund," and as no interest was to be taken none is credited.
Awdrey Spence purchased by indenture of 25th October 1619, in consideration of 50l., a rentcharge to be paid by the Company to the churchwardens of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, for the relief of the poor of that parish of 50s. per. annum.
The sum is regularly paid.
Magdalene Stokes, by her will of the 14th June 1625, gave to the Company 40l., to be lent to a young man of the said Company, paying 20s. to a discreet preacher for a sermon on New Year's Day at St. Botolph's. The fund is administered as part of the "Loan Trust Fund" under the scheme. The 20s. a year is paid to the rector of St. George, Botolph Lane, Thames Street.
Alderman William Thwaites, by his will (date unknown), gave to the Company 50l., to be lent to two young men, they paying 10s. yearly apiece, and paid to the churchwardens of St. Mildred, Bread Street, for the use of the poor. The sum of 1l. a year is paid to the churchwardens of St. Mildred, Bread Street. The fund is part of the "Loan Trust Fund." (See Cecilia Long's Charity.)
Sir Thomas Trevor's Charity.
The Company covenanted by indenture of 18th January 1618, in consideration of the sum of 100l., to pay yearly to six poor widows of the City of London 6l., to every of them 20s. at Midsummer and Christmas.
The Company gave 1l. apiece to six poor freewomen or widows of freemen, 20s. a year each, by quarterly payments, at the hall of the Company. The selection is made by the clerk or beadle.
Thomas Trumball devised to the Company, by his will of the 7th July 1557, a rentcharge of 20s., for coals at All Saints and Christmas amongst the most needy householders of the Company, inhabitants of St. Botolph's and St. Margaret's. The rentcharge of 20s. is paid by the tenant of 23, Fish Street Hill, and is distributed amongst what are called the "half-yearly poor."
The donors of those aggregate gifts are—
The Company ordinarily distribute to poor members of the Company who are not considered to require weekly relief, or to stand in the position of constant petitioners, sums of 2l. 10s. in June and 5l. at Christmas, or, if the case should be thought to require it at either period, somewhat more. If it be thought expedient, they are taken from this list and added to that of the weekly poor. The 27l. 8s. 3d. forming the endowments have always been disposed of, and the balance made up by the Company have varied from 15l. to 30l. At the present moment (January 1861) there are five persons on this list.
Richard Turk, by his will of the 7th October 1552, directed his executors to pay to the Company 100l., to purchase quit-rents or annuities and the income applied for the election dinner of the yeomanry, and if the money cannot be thus invested, then he willed that the said 100l. be laid up in the treasury of the said Company. And he willed that the wardens of the said Company should lend the said 100l. to five young men of the Company, not of the livery, 20l. apiece, to occupy the same for one whole year, the said five young men putting in good securities for the repayment of the said 20l., and if any of the said five young men cannot put in good securities, then the testator willed any of the said five young men desiring to have the said 20l. to put into the wardens' hands a good and sufficient pawn for the repayment of the said 20l., such pawn to be of the value of 20l., which said writings, obligations, and pawns thus taken as aforesaid he willed to be laid up and kept. Of which said five young men he willed three of them to be of the Bridge Street and the two to be of Old Fish Street if the wardens should think any two young men in Old Fish Street to be meet to borrow the said money, and if not, the two young men to be of Temes Street if the wardens think any two young men there meet, and if not, all the said five young men to be of Bridge Street. And he willed that the said 100l. should be lent out from time to time and from year to year for ever.
This money is also included in the "Loan Trust Account." (See Long's Charity.) No interest is credited on account of this charity.
Owen Waller, by his will of the 9th May 1574, bequeathed to the Company 100l., to be lent to 50 poor men of the Company. And he gave a messuage in Black Raven Alley for providing for the churchwardens of St. Michael, Crooked Lane, 12d. in bread every Sunday to 12 poor folks of that parish, and the residue of the rents for the maintenance and reparation of the said premises.
The sum of 100l. forms part of the "Trust Loan Account." (See Cecilia Long's Charity.)
The charge in favour of the parish of St. Michael, Crooked Lane, is 2l. 12s., which is paid to the churchwardens out of the rental of No. 106, Upper Thames Street, the property of the Company.
Henry Wally's Charity.
Henry Wally, by his will of the 28th November 1758, willed that his executors should deliver to the Company 20l., to be lent to one young man of the Company for two years. There is no direction that interest should be taken and none is credited. (See Cecilia Long's Charity for the "Loan Trust Fund.")
Thomas Ware, by will (enrolled 36th Elizabeth in the Court of Hastings at Guildhall), devised two tenements in Churchyard Alley, St. Magnus the Martyr, and out of the rents to pay 5l. 8s. annually.
To the churchwardens of St. Michael, Crooked Lane—
and the residue of the rents to the Company.
|For bread to the poor of the parish||52s.|
|For the poor children of Christ's Hospital||52s.|
|For the churchwardens for their pains||4s.|
The rentcharge of 5l. 8s. a year to the churchwardens of St. Michael, Crooked Lane, is annually paid by the Company. The houses, Nos. 1, and 2, Churchyard Alley have been taken down under the London Bridge Approaches Act, and produced 920l. cash, which was invested in 1,041l. 0s. 4d. 3l. per cent. Consols. The sum was a few years since sold out and the amount invested in some premises in Queenhithe, purchased from the parish of St. Mildred, Bread Street. The Consols produced 925l. 4s. cash. The Company from the time of such investment have kept the amount of Consols and the interest thereupon as still representing this property. The charity being, however, entitled to the fixed rentcharge only, such appropriation is unimportant, except as preserving the identity of a sufficient fund to meet the annual payment.
Thomas Weston, by his will of the 15th December 1435, gave part of a wharf to the Company, charged with the annual sum of 13s. 4d., partly for an obit at St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey, and what should remain to be distributed amongst the poor of the parish.
The Company pay 6s. 8d. a year to the churchwardens of the parish of St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey. The gift of the wharf is upon condition for the observance of the obit and the payment of small sums to the rector and clerk. The 6s. 8d. has, I presume, been assesssed at some remote period since the Reformation as an estimate of the surplus. The letters patent of King Edward VI. before referred to grant to Hynde and others, trustees for the Company, "all that our rent, annuity, and yearly sum 10l. by the year issuing out of seven messuages or tenements and one wharf of the same wardens and commonalty situate, lying, and being in the parish of St. Michael at Queenhithe, London, which same yearly sum, rent, or annuity the same wardens and commonalty have lately paid and yearly have been accustomed to pay towards the perpetual support of two chaplains to celebrate in the church of St. Mary, Mounthaw, London, according to the ordinance of John Gloucester and John Weston."
This grant, and the confirmatory statute of James I., confer, I have no doubt, the title to the residue in the Company.
Lawrence Williams, by his will 10th September 1582,
bequeathed to the Company 120l., to be lent to three
young men of the Company, 40l. apiece for three years,
each paying 20s. yearly for the same, to be employed as
And he also gave 40l. to the Company to be lent to four young men being householders of the parish of Ashwell for three years gratis.
|For bread to the poor of Ashwell, Herts||52s.|
|To the parish clerk||2s.|
|Towards the reparation of the church||6s.|
Both of the sums of 120l. and 40l. form part of the "Trust Loan Account. (See Cecilia Long's Charity.)
The sum of 3l. a year is paid by the Company to the churchwardens of Ashwell, but no provision seems to be made by the decree for loans to householders of that parish.
All which I submit to the Board.
Thos. Hare, Inspector of Charities.
4 November 1861.