Fen Drayton: Charities for the poor

Page 303

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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Charities for the poor

Elizabeth Holworthy's bequest, by will proved 1748, of the interest on £40 (fn. 1) has not been traced later. In 1728 there was 10s. a year for the poor. (fn. 2)

The Town Land Charity derives from the allotment in 1840 to the parish officers of 22 a., (fn. 3) partly in lieu of the town grass, (fn. 4) partly for 2½ a. of parish land whose income had previously been given to all villagers in bread and beer when the parish bounds were beaten on 'Cross Tuesday', (fn. 5) that before Ascension Day. The 22 a. were until the 1920s let in 1-a. allotments to poor labourers. Rents yielded £35 a year in the 1850s and 1860s. (fn. 6) Part of the income was from the 1840s used for church repairs, the rest being carried to the poor rate, until the curate, Frederick Shaw, diverted the whole c. 1858 to the church and his school. By the 1890s c. £8 a year was customarily given in coal. Succeeding curates, packing the parish council after 1894, contended that it was by prescription partly an ecclesiastical charity. Agitation by the dissenters after 1907 forced the curate to abandon control c. 1913 to the parish council, which ended payments for the church. A Scheme of 1927 devoted the income to public purposes or to the poor. The distribution of £8 in coal to needy households remained the main charitable use until 1940. Considerable balances were accumulated from rent, still of c. £30 in 1964 but raised to almost £400 by 1979, when the charity money was given to widows and old people in coal and grocery vouchers. (fn. 7)


  • 1. P.R.O., PROB 11/777, f. 273v.
  • 2. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 13.
  • 3. C.R.O., Q/RDc 61, p. 41.
  • 4. Above, local govt.
  • 5. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 248: assuming it to be a pauper charity; corrected: Char. Com. files, corr. 1858-9.
  • 6. Cf. Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 390-1.
  • 7. Char. Com. files; cf. Hunts. Post, 25 Sept. 1975; 7 Oct. 1976; 21 Dec. 1978.