A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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CHARITIES (fn. 1)
A 19th-century transcript of a deed records that John Wright and his son John gave to Anthony Luther and others, parishioners, part of the lord's waste next to Kelvedon Common, with the cottages thereon, to be the site of parish almshouses. This appears to be the real origin of the charity which by 1786 was called Jane Luther's Charity in the erroneous belief that it had been established by her will in 1745 (see below). The original endowment may have been supplemented by an exchange made in 1786 by which the parish received a small plot inclosed from Kelvedon Common in place of another plot on which a cottage formerly stood. This was probably the cottage on the road to Beacon Hill which according to a vestry book extant in the 19th century was given to the parish in 1644. (fn. 2) This exchange of 1786 may explain the statement made in 1835 that the property of the charity was received about 60 years before from John Wright of Kelvedon Hall in exchange for some small pieces of land formerly belonging to it.
There is no clear record that the cottages were ever used as almshouses, though it seems possible that they were rented by the parish officers for use as a poorhouse. (fn. 3) In 1834 the property was all let: it consisted of four cottages on Kelvedon Common, and land adjoining. The whole income was £21 10s., and after deduction of expenses it was distributed on the first Monday in the year to all poor married parishioners in equal shares. Between then and 1929 there was little change in administration. In 1951 the field was sold to the village hall committee for use as a recreation ground. The proceeds were invested in stock. In the same year the rent due from the cottages was £34 12s.; but for many years there has been no profit from rents and a demolition order was pending in 1953. (fn. 4)
Poor's Cottages were probably built in the 17th century and consist of a timber-framed T-shaped block, partly plastered and partly weather-boarded. There are gabled dormers in the tiled roof. These are undoubtedly the four cottages of 1834 and earlier.
At some time in the 18th century it was believed that 40s. was due to the parish by the gift of Anthony Luther (d. 1627) but there is no record that this was ever paid.
By her will proved in 1745 Jane Luther of Suttons (in Stapleford Tawney, q.v.) gave £2 17s. 6d. a year issuing from a farm in Little Warley to be distributed in bread three times a year to the poor of the parish. In 1834 bread was distributed twice a year with preference to widows. By 1857 the rent was being paid from the Suttons estate. It was redeemed in 1950 for £115 stock.
In 1786 it was stated that an unknown donor gave a rent charge of £1 10s. to the church and the poor of the parish. In 1834 Charles Dolby of Brizes held a lease from 1789 at £2 10s. a year of 'the property of this charity', consisting of an acre of land in his park. In fact the endowment must have been the land itself, not the rent, and the land was certainly sold in 1860 for £200 which was invested in stock.
Louisa Dolby, by will proved 1868, left £100 dutyfree in trust for the benefit of the poor. The legacy was paid in 1876, together with £28 arrears of interest, and was invested in stock.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries these charities were in practice administered together. From 1855 the three earliest shared trustees. By a Scheme made in 1929 all four were combined to form the United Charities. Their income is to be spent for the benefit of the sick and poor, chiefly in gifts in kind and gifts to hospitals serving the parish. In 1951, after payments for expenses, the income was spent on the cottages belonging to Jane Luther's Charity, and in gifts in cash to six persons.
Richard Thomas Lagden, by will proved 1866, left £7 a year for the purchase of coal for the poor families of the parish. Lagden's wish that the money be paid was not, however, binding, and the bequest consequently became invalid.