A History of the County of Leicester: Volume 4, the City of Leicester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1958.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Most of the endowed charities established in Leicester between the Reformation and the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 were vested in the corporation as trustee. The lands bought with the money left by the founders of charities were always regarded as corporation property and the money for the payment of the charities came out of the general funds of the corporation. (fn. 1) The corporation seems in general to have administered its charities very conscientiously. At the beginning of the 19th century charges of corruption were brought against the unreformed corporation, especially with regard to the large loan charities and the patronage which it exercised in the right of appointments to vacancies in the hospitals for the elderly. (fn. 2) In 1826 Robert Cave denounced in detail the corporation's administration of the White and Newton charities in the House of Commons. (fn. 3) These charges were not unfounded and the singular care which the corporation took of its charity funds was not unconnected with their political potentialities. The very large sums of money which came from the loan charities made them a formidable weapon of patronage, and the money was said to go to the rich supporters of the corporation rather than to the poor artisans for whom it was intended. (fn. 4)
Not quite all the corporation's care of its charities can be put down to the desire for political patronage. There was a genuine feeling in 1835 that it was morally indefensible to contemplate placing the control of primarily Anglican charities, like Alderman Newton's charities, in the hands of men whose religious ideas would be at variance with those of the founder. (fn. 5) By the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 two bodies of charity trustees were established in Leicester, the Trustees of the Church Charities, to deal with the Anglican charities, and the Trustees of the General Charities, to manage most of the rest. (fn. 6) In 1837 the Charity Commissioners made their report on the charities of the borough and county of Leicester. (fn. 7) The report describes the situation as it was before the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act, as it was begun in 1836, only seven months after the dissolution of the old corporation and before the new trustees had taken office. It shows that with one or two exceptions, Leicester's charities were well and fairly administered and that there were in fact no glaring misappropriations of funds or defiance of the intentions of the founders of particular charities.
In 1955 most of the old charities were distributed by the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities, who were appointed by the Charity Commissioners, and in whom the legal estate of some charities was vested by the Charitable Trusts Act of 1853, confirmed by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882. (fn. 8) The corporation still paid a considerable proportion of the charity money. The Church Charity Trustees were responsible for Tamworth's Gift, Thomas Hayne's Charity, and Hickling's Charity, and for St. John's Hospital.
This article is confined to charities in existence before 1836 which are or were vested in the corporation. The charities of the ancient parishes are dealt with elsewhere. (fn. 9) There are in Leicester charities of various kinds of more recent foundation which are not mentioned here.
Before 1628 a Mr. Bennett of London gave £10 to the corporation for the use of the poor. In 1635–6 John Ward of Coventry gave a similar sum. These two donations have been managed together for many years and in 1837 were regarded as part of the Wood and Coal Money. (fn. 10) In 1955 £1 was paid by the corporation to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. (fn. 11)
Alderman Thomas Blunt by will dated 1664 left a rent-charge from three houses and a close in Leicester to be distributed by the corporation in the following way: for shoes for Trinity Hospital, St. John's Hospital, and selected poor persons, £6 10s., with 10s. to be spent at their distribution; to the mayor for gloves, 5s.; town clerk and mace-bearer, each 2s. 6d.; town crier and beadle, each 6d.; four borough servants, each 1s.; poor persons in the Spital, 2s.; Vicar of St. Margaret's, £1; clerk of St. Margaret's, 5s.; poor of Walton on the Wolds, 18s. By 1837 the money for shoes was given solely to Trinity Hospital. (fn. 12) The other payments were still made in 1955 according to the terms of the bequest. The corporation then made no payment to the town crier or beadle, there being no such officers in the town; the four town servants chosen were usually the Town Hall porters. The 2s. for the Spital was paid to St. Margaret's parish for the former Cock Muck Hill Houses. (fn. 13) The sum of £4 was still paid from 38–40 Gallowtree Gate, formerly the Crane Inn, and £2 from 79 Belgrave Gate, which belonged to the corporation. (fn. 14)
The sums forming the charity known as Sir William Courteen's Gift are three separate donations, one by Courteen, one by the 'Gentlemen of the Lottery', (fn. 15) and the third by a donor named Evington or Elkington. The donations seem to have been made about 1617, and the money was vested in the corporation for the use of the poor. In 1625 the corporation purchased Freak's Ground and undertook to pay £4 16s. from it yearly to the poor. In 1837 the charity was distributed in the form of bread. (fn. 16) In 1955 the corporation distributed money to the parishes of the old borough in the following proportions: St. Margaret's, St. Martin's, and St. Mary's, each £1 1s. 4d.; All Saints', 18s. 8d., and St. Nicholas's, 13s. 4d. (fn. 17)
William Cavendish, later Earl of Devonshire, gave £100 to the corporation before 1615 for the distribution of £6 yearly among 20 poor freemen for the purchase of coal. In 1837 this was dispensed as part of the Wood and Coal Money. (fn. 18) In 1955 the corporation was paying £6 yearly to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities, who distributed it to 20 freemen. (fn. 19)
Shortly before 1629 Margaret Hobbie left at her death two tenements in Southgate Street out of which small sums were to be paid by the corporation to the Free Grammar School (12s.), the poor of Leicester (1s.), Trinity Hospital (2s. 6d.), Wyggeston's Hospital (2s.), St. John's Hospital (6d.), and St. Martin's and St. Mary's parishes (4s. divided between them). (fn. 20) The payments to the grammar school, St. John's, and the poor were no longer made in 1955, but the rest were continued. (fn. 21)
William Ive by deed dated 1638 granted lands to the corporation charged with yearly payments of £5 12s. to Trinity Hospital, another £1 (the gift of his wife, Jane Ive) to the same hospital, 8s. to Wyggeston's Hospital, £4 for the purchase of gowns for eight poor widows, and £4 for bread for the poor of Leicester. (fn. 22) The payments to Trinity Hospital and Wyggeston's Hospital were made in 1955 by the corporation, which also distributed the £4 for bread among the parishes of St. Margaret, St. Martin, and St. Mary (£1 each), All Saints (12s.), and St. Nicholas (8s.). (fn. 23) The corporation paid £4. to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. (fn. 24)
William Moreton by will dated 1620 gave to the corporation a yearly rent of £3 for the purchase of fuel for St. John's Hospital and for seven poor freemen of Leicester. In 1837 this was regarded as being part of the Wood and Coal Money. (fn. 25) In 1955 the corporation was paying 18s. to the hospital and £2 2s. to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities, who distributed it to seven freemen. (fn. 26)
Elizabeth Ossiter by will dated 1634 gave £100 to the corporation for the distribution of £6 yearly to twenty poor householders of Leicester for coal. In 1837 this charity was regarded as part of the Wood and Coal Money. (fn. 27) In 1955 the corporation was paying £6 to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. (fn. 28)
At an unknown date John Stanley granted £80 to the corporation for the payment of certain sums as charities. In 1837 the corporation paid £1 10s. to the Vicar of St. Martin's, £1 to the headmaster of the Free Grammar School, 13s. 4d. and 6s. 8d. to the head and under ushers of the school respectively, and 10s. to ten poor women. (fn. 29) In 1955 the corporation was paying £1 10s. to the Vicar of St. Martin's and 10s. to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. (fn. 30)
In 1955 Leicester Corporation also paid £8 yearly from Thomas Ludlam's Charity to the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. (fn. 31) Andrew's Loan Charity (will dated 1636), Nurse's Charity (c. 1644), and the money known as the Benevolence Money (c. 1649) were apparently lost very soon after they were first mentioned in the borough records in the 17th century. The incomes may have been combined with those of other charities. (fn. 32)
Leicester General Charities
Anthony Acham by will proved 1641 left a yearly rent-charge of £9 from the manor of Asterby (Lincs.) to be distributed in the form of bread to the poor of Leicester. In 1837 this sum was paid to a baker for bread for the parishes of St. Martin, St. Margaret, St. Mary, All Saints, and St. Nicholas. (fn. 33) In 1955 the charity was administered by the Trustees, who received the annuity from Wroxham Estates Ltd. Bread was distributed by the Trustees to persons recommended to them. (fn. 34)
At an unknown date Hugh Botham left an annuity of £2 payable out of a house in Loseby Lane for distribution to the poor of St. Martin's, St. Margaret's, and St. Mary's. In 1837 the payment was still made from a house. (fn. 35) In 1955 the charity was managed by the Trustees, who held stock producing an income of £2. (fn. 36)
Catherine Brown by will dated 1731 left a house in St. Margaret's parish to provide an income to be distributed to three poor women, relatives of her parents in the first instance. If these failed, the mayor, who was to receive a guinea a year for his trouble, was to choose suitable recipients. In 1837 the house, with two others built in the garden, was being let for £20. (fn. 37) The Trustees held in 1955 stock yielding an income of £49, which was then being distributed between two relatives of Catherine Brown and a third recipient. (fn. 38)
About 1627 Charles I granted 40 acres of land in Leicester Forest, the revenue from which was to be used to buy fuel for the poor of Leicester. In 1837 this was regarded as part of the Wood and Coal Money. (fn. 39) In 1955 it was administered by the Trustees, who held stock in its name and distributed the income to applicants who must be freemen or freemen's widows. (fn. 40)
The origin of the charity known as the Coal Money is unknown. From the end of the 16th century the corporation was in the habit of arranging for the distribution of cheap coal to the poor of the borough once a week for about six weeks in the winter. Various small sums and the surplus from other charities were used for this purpose. (fn. 41) The charity was in 1956 administered under an order of the Charity Commissioners of 1864. (fn. 42) In 1955 the Trustees held stock producing an income of £1 2s. 8d. This charity is not technically regarded as one of the General Municipal Charities. (fn. 43)
In or shortly before 1623 Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire, gave £50 for the purchase of land to yield an income of £3. This was to be distributed in the proportion of one-third to St. Leonard's parish, and two-thirds to the other borough parishes. The property purchased lay in All Saints' parish near the former church of St. Michael. In 1837 the corporation was drawing more than £3 in rents and distributing only £3. The Charity Commissioners advised the selling of the property for building purposes. (fn. 44) By 1877 the income had increased to £35. (fn. 45) In 1955 the Trustees held stock producing an income of nearly £60. (fn. 46)
The Educational Charity was formed in 1900 from two former charities. Thomas Ludlam by will dated 1742 gave £200 to the corporation, the interest from which was to be used to apprentice a freeman's son each year. The sum had not been paid by the corporation for some years in 1837. (fn. 47) The origin of the other charity, the Lottery Money, is not known, but it first appears in the accounts of the corporation in 1701, and consisted of a yearly payment of £5 for apprenticing a boy. (fn. 48) In 1900 these two charities were amalgamated to form the Educational Charity, the income of which was to be used for the payment of the fees of poor boys at the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology, or in giving prizes there. (fn. 49) The charity was under the management of the Trustees, who in 1949 delegated the application of the income to the committee of the colleges. In 1956 stock was held by the Trustees for the Lottery Money; Ludlam's Gift was paid each year by the corporation. (fn. 50)
Richard Elkington by will dated 1607 left £100 to the corporation to be lent in sums of £10 at 5 per cent. interest to poor workmen in St. Martin's parish, Leicester, and in Lutterworth. The interest from the loans was used to give certain small sums to corporation officials for dispensing the charity and to distribute to the poor in St. Martin's parish and in Lutterworth. This charity was in a chaotic condition in 1837. (fn. 51) In 1840 it was regulated by an order in Chancery. The Trustees were in 1955 dealing with that part of the charity which concerned Leicester and held stock to produce an income of £28 6s. 8d. yearly. The interest was to be given to the Vicar and Churchwardens of St. Martin's parish for distribution among the poor of the parish, and the principal was to be available for loans. (fn. 52)
Robert Heyrick at his death in 1618 left a rentcharge of £5 on his house in Leicester Market Place to be used by the corporation to buy bread for the poor. (fn. 53) The rent was paid in 1955 to the Trustees from 48 Market Place, and was distributed to the vicars and churchwardens of the parishes of St. Margaret, St. Martin, St. Mary, All Saints, St. Nicholas, and St. Leonard in equal portions. (fn. 54) Robert Heyrick also left a sum of £2 to be paid annually from Grey Friars for distribution to 40 poor widows, 20 from St. Martin's parish and 20 to be chosen at the discretion of the mayor. (fn. 55) The trustees in 1955 held stock producing an income of £2 which was distributed at Christmas to the first 40 applicants. (fn. 56)
John Norrice in 1619 granted an annuity of £10 from lands at Willoughby Waterless to the corporation. Of this sum £5 was to be given to the Vicar of St. Nicholas's Church, and the other £5 to be divided between Trinity Hospital and the poor of the borough. In 1837 the charity was not being correctly managed: if distributed at all, it was not usually given in the right proportions, for it was often simply divided between the parishes and Trinity and St. John's hospitals. (fn. 57) In 1877 the income had increased, and £10 was given to the vicar and the rest divided in the proportion of one to two between Trinity Hospital and the poor. (fn. 58) The income, which is obtained from stock, was in 1955 divisible under an order of the Charity Commissioners of 1929 by the Trustees in the proportion of one-half to the Vicar of St. Nicholas's, one-sixth to the hospital, and one-third by the decision of the Trustees to poor persons of the borough. (fn. 59)
John Parker by will dated 1639 bequeathed £50 to the corporation for interest-free loans to poor knitters, weavers, and lace-makers, or to other artisans. (fn. 60) This has for long been administered with the sum of £3 6s. 8d. bequeathed for loans by Robert Heyrick in 1618. (fn. 61) This sum was in 1955 still paid from the Spital House Close in Belgrave Gate. Stock in the name of Parker's Charity was then held by the Trustees, who arranged loans of the interest, half for poor burgesses of Leicester and half for poor artisans. (fn. 62)
John Poultney at his death in 1637 left £10 yearly charged upon the manor of Cotes-de-val to be distributed by the corporation among the parishes of Leicester. (fn. 63) In 1955 this charity was administered by the Trustees. The rent-charge was paid out of the manor until 1944 when it was redeemed for a lump sum, which was invested. (fn. 64)
Sir Thomas White's Charity is vested in the corporation of Coventry, but the borough of Leicester is entitled every five years to the net rentals of the properties named in the foundation deed of 1551. (fn. 65) The practice in 1837 was to lend sums of £100 to freemen, free of interest, for nine years. The charity was a valuable form of patronage in the hands of the old corporation, and the town clerk, Thomas Burbidge, was held responsible after 1836 for nearly £5,000 of the charity's money. The Charity Commissioners recommended that the whole charity should be put into Chancery. (fn. 66) In 1850 the Charity Commissioners issued a new scheme under which the charity was still administered in 1955, with modifications made at various times. (fn. 67) The Leicester funds of Sir Thomas White's Charity were managed by the Trustees of the Leicester General Charities. The funds of the charity in Leicester were lent free of charge in sums of £50, £100, or £200, free of interest for nine years, to men between the ages of 21 and 35 upon the production of adequate sureties and reasons for the loan. (fn. 68)
Leicester Church Charities
Thomas Hayne of London by will dated 1640 left money for the purchase of lands by the corporation for the payment of the following sums: £6 to a schoolmaster to teach ten poor children in Thrussington; £6 to two scholars at Lincoln College, Oxford, founder's kin in the first instance, but in default chosen from the free grammar schools of Leicester or Melton Mowbray; 20s. for the purchase of three Bibles yearly, to be given in Leicester two years, and in Thrussington one year; and 20s. for a preacher in Leicester to preach a sermon on the Sunday next to Armada Day. The remainder of the charity money to be given to the poor of Leicester at the discretion of the mayor and corporation. In 1837 the charity was well regulated, although there were some surplus funds, partly owing to the fact that the bequest to the Lincoln College scholars had not been claimed for some years. (fn. 69) In 1890 that part of Hayne's bequest which referred to the school was transferred to the new Wyggeston School. (fn. 70) In 1955 the total disposable income of the charity was £58, which was divided in the proportions of 6/24 each to Thrussington school and to the Leicester Education Committee; 1/24 was used for the purchase of Bibles, and 1/24 was paid to the vicar of a Leicester parish for the sermon. The remaining 10/24 was distributed to poor persons in three Leicester parishes chosen by the Trustees. (fn. 71)
The Trustees of the Church Charities were also made responsible for the payment of the bequest known as Tamworth's Prayers to the Vicar of St. Martin's Church. (fn. 72) The Trustees hold stock, the whole income from which is given to the vicar. (fn. 73)
The Trustees administer Alderman Gabriel Newton's Charity. (fn. 74) Of the funds which are available for Leicester from the charity, the first £80 are paid to the Alderman Newton Schools for religious education, and the remainder is divided in the proportions of two-thirds to the Education Committee, and onethird for the assistance of scholars at the schools. (fn. 75) Alderman Thomas Read by will dated 1821 bequeathed £200 to the corporation, the interest to be paid to any pupil of the Alderman Newton School who had served a satisfactory apprenticeship. (fn. 76) Alderman Read's Charity is now (1955) amalgamated with Alderman Newton's. (fn. 77)