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
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
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
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
November 9th, 1839.
|The Attorney-General||Re Preston.|
|The Fishmongers' Company
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
Almshouses of Mark Quested at Harrietsham,
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
Pencourt Farm, consisting of a farmhouse and buildings, and about 176
acres of land, some portion having
been exchanged since the last
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,
This payment has been made to them since the 1st
August 1827, soon after the last inquiry. (See Vol. 12, page
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
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.
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,
|By Quested's direction||72||0||0|
|" Owen's Charity||1||0||0|
|" Copping's Charity||35||10||4|
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
These orders and rules were made in the wardenship
|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
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
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
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
|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
|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
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?—
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
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.
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—
|Thomas Trumball (less property tax)||0||19||7|
|In the last year the Company added
from their own funds||25||1||9|
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.
Inspector of Charities.
4 November 1861.