A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR
BEFORE the mid 16th century the relief of the poor of Coventry was largely the responsibility of the religious houses and the city guilds. (fn. 1) Some individuals, in providing for the observance of an obit, the upkeep of a chantry, or the preaching of sermons, also arranged for the regular distribution of alms, but only a few of such charities survived the dissolution of the guilds and chantries. (fn. 2) The dissolution, however, though it abolished all benefactions for superstitious uses, made available for the endowment of new charitable trusts much land in and around Coventry that had earlier belonged to the religious houses and the guilds and chantries. One of the first of the charities founded at that time became also the wealthiest and most important in Coventry. This was the charity of Sir Thomas White, lord mayor of London in 1553 and subsequently the founder of St. John's College, Oxford, (fn. 3) who used his prosperity as a clothworker to benefit nearly thirty cities and towns throughout England in at least some of which his trade had probably been particularly extensive. One such town was Coventry which, to rescue it from its 'great ruin and decay', he enabled by a gift of £1,400 to buy in 1542 a large amount of former priory property in and near the town. (fn. 4) This was vested in the corporation which by a trust deed of 1551 was to dispose of the major part of the rents in loans and alms. (fn. 5) White made a similar gift or loan of £2,000 to Bristol in 1545. (fn. 6)
The administration of many other charities founded in Coventry up to the end of the 17th century was entrusted to the corporation (whose members were often the founders). Thus it not only came to own extensive estates and large funds forming the endowments of the charities described below, but also in the late 16th and early 17th centuries gained the administrative control of certain charitable institutions the histories of which fall outside the scope of this survey. These were Bond's and Ford's almshouses, two early-16th-century foundations which survived the Dissolution, the Bablake Boys' Hospital which was added to Bond's Hospital in 1560, and the Free Grammar School which was officially established in the church of the former Hospital of St. John the Baptist by John Hales in 1573.
Up to the late 17th century, during the period when most of the charities were founded, the corporation's administration of them may have been comparatively efficient or at least not such as to cause any widespread lack of confidence in its honesty and competence. However, the prolonged litigation from 1695 onwards over its retention of the surplus income from Sir Thomas White's Charity (for which it had the backing of some contemporary legal opinion) and the sequestration of all corporation property for seven years in the early 18th century evidently threw its affairs into complete disarray. It is noticeable that most of the charities administered by the corporation which had been entirely lost by the time of the Brougham Commissioners' visit in 1833 disappeared between the 1680s and the 1720s, though it was stated in an anonymous publication of 1733 that they might 'upon a strict examination' be recovered. These lost charities were mostly loan charities which, in contrast with Sir Thomas White's Charity, did not afford sums of more than £10 apiece to the individual borrower. These were repayable with interest and there was, therefore, likely to be less of a demand for them when more advantageous assistance under White's Charity was available.
The publication of 1733 already referred to — An Account of the Loans, Benefactions, and Charities Belonging to the City of Coventry — evinced some of the public suspicion and hostility felt towards the corporation at that time. It was the work of two authors one of whom was Dr. Edward Jackson, the head master of the Free Grammar School, who had already in 1729 started an action against the corporation for the alienation of some of the school's endowment. The authors claimed that they had undertaken the work not out of 'pique or prejudice', but in order to rectify 'any past misconduct' and to safeguard the charities 'from embezzlement and misapplication in the future'. Their valuable account of the charities' histories, derived mainly it seems from actual corporation records which had by rather dubious means come into their hands, was throughout liberally annotated with polemical comments and queries.
Much of the undoubted confusion and irregularity in the corporation's application of the charities was probably caused rather by negligence than deliberate misappropriation, particularly by its failure to set up a separate department to administer charity estates and to keep the accounts of charity funds distinct from those of its own general funds or indeed in most cases to keep any coherent and regular accounts at all. Two more serious charges, however, that can be readily substantiated are that members of the corporation were certainly favoured in the disposal of contracts and offices connected with the charities and their administration, and that certain charitable funds were used as sources of political bribery in order to secure the return of corporation candidates at elections. This seems to have been notoriously true of Sir Thomas White's Four Pounds Gifts which came in the 18th century to be monopolized by the freemen chosen by the aldermen after consulting the poll books. (fn. 7)
The Brougham Commissioners, who visited Coventry towards the end of 1833, made a thorough investigation of the city's charities and took full note not merely of the maladministration of the past but of the recent efforts, dating probably from the early 1820s, of some members of the corporation to bring the charity records and accounts into order. They had also attempted to recover some of the large arrears of income due from one particular member who had acted as bailiff for about half a dozen of the most important charities including Sir Thomas White's. The commissioners commended the corporation for its co-operation and predicted a continued efficiency for the future, while the corporation in its turn regarded the commissioners' report as a very fair statement on the charities' history and contemporary condition. The Municipal Corporations Commissioners, however, who followed the Brougham Commissioners to Coventry shortly afterwards, were concerned only to present the corporation's record in a much more unfavourable light, and by an unscrupulous manipulation of the Brougham Commissioners' report (fn. 8) contrived to present a picture of corruption which seems to have coloured all later accounts of the charities. (fn. 9) The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 in fact removed the future administration of charities from the new corporation's control, vesting it in two new bodies of trustees, those of the Coventry General and the Church Municipal Charities into which the surviving municipal charities were divided. The General Municipal Charities were further divided by a Scheme of 1896, into the pensions, loans, educational, and eleemosynary branches.
The charities of which accounts are given below are confined, with a few exceptions, to those founded wholly or partly for the benefit of the poor by the provision of pensions, loans, premiums for apprenticing, and almshouses, and the supply of clothing, fuel, food, and other necessaries. Charities that were founded at any date solely to provide any form of educational or medical care and charities for church, chapel, cultural, social, and recreational purposes are omitted from this section (and are dealt with where necessary in other sections), as are also any local branches of national charities and charities dependent on voluntary support. Charities that operated only in the outlying areas of Coventry are included in the sections on those areas.
General Municipal Charities
THE ELFRIDA JESSIE BACON TRUST FUND.MISS E. J. Bacon, by will proved 1948, left just over £6,000 to the trustees of the General Municipal Charities, the income from which was to benefit spinsters, aged between 40 and 60, living in Coventry in straitened circumstances. The bequest was invested in some £6,140 stock and in 1962 the dividends were being spent on seven weekly payments of 10s. each.
BARKER'S CHARITY.Richard Barker, by will proved 1604, directed that lands bringing in £5 yearly should be conveyed to the corporation. From the rents £3 6s. 8d. was to be distributed among ten poor widows. The residue was to benefit Bablake Boys' Hospital and the almspeople of Bond's and Ford's hospitals. In 1623 a yearly rent of £5 was granted to the corporation out of property in Foleshill. The charge was redeemed in 1944 by transfer of £200 stock. By 1893 the £3 6s. 8d. was being paid into the Ash Wednesday Charities' Fund, without restriction to widows, and according to the Scheme of 1896 formed part of the residue of income to be applied under the eleemosynary branch to general purposes.
BIRD'S CHARITY.William Bird, by will proved 1686, left all his real and personal estate in trust that half (fn. 10) the yearly rents should be paid to the corporation and distributed among the poor of the city. The charity was apparently not established until an action was brought against the corporation by the Attorney General about 1750 in the course of which Bird's property was sold. The proceeds were invested in £1,516 stock, and by a court order of 1779 sums of £1 to £2 apiece were to be distributed by the corporation. Dividends of £46 8s. 6d. were received in 1833 and employed in 46 payments of £1 each and one of 8s. 6d. In 1853 about £43 was distributed in sums of £1 to £2 to 'no real advantage'. An average of about £49 was carried to the St. Thomas's Day Charities' Fund in 1896, and was subsequently applied to general purposes as part of the charities' eleemosynary branch.
BROWNRIGG'S CHARITY.Thomas Brownrigg, by will proved 1634, left a messuage in Smithford Street with remainder to the corporation on condition that sums of 6s. 8d should be paid to a poor widow nominated by the mayor and for a yearly sermon in St. Michael's Church with 4d. to the sexton for the ringing of the sermon bell. The house was demolished under the Act of 1812 for the widening of Broadgate but the widow's pension was apparently not discontinued until about 1835. Payment for the sermon was maintained but by 1893 it was assumed that this was a voluntary payment by the corporation and that no liability to pay the arrears of the rest of the rent-charge could be proved. The charity was therefore regarded as lost.
BURBAGE'S CHARITY. William Burbage, alderman, by will proved 1634, left a messuage in West Orchard to the corporation in trust that 6s. 8d. apiece should be paid from the rents to three poor widows. In 1893 it was discovered that no payments to widows had been made since 1835; as the property was thought to have been sold in 1877 and the corporation admitted no liability the charity was treated as lost.
BURTON'S CHARITY. Humphrey Burton, by will dated 1683, left £20 to the corporation which was paid over in 1685. Of the £1 yearly interest, 8s. was to be added to the bequest of his father-in-law, Simon Norton, to pay for a distribution of bread in St. Michael's parish, and 12s. to the bequest of his uncle, Thomas Jesson, for a weekly distribution in Holy Trinity Church. By 1853 this sum of £1 was merged with a payment of £2 10s. due for bread for St. Michael's parish on account of Harwell's Charity (see below), and £3 10s. has continued to be paid since 1896 out of the charities' eleemosynary branch, apportioned in amounts of £2 18s. and 12s.
CLARKE'S CHARITY. Roger Clarke, alderman, by will proved 1612, directed that a rent of £3 should be divided under the supervision of the corporation among six poor householders of the city. His son Richard, by will proved 1640, left to the corporation a yearly rent-charge of £2 to be distributed among four poor freemen. In 1833 the £5 was regularly distributed among ten poor men chosen from each ward. In 1893 the £5 was paid into the St. Thomas's Day Charities Fund, with no special regard for any class or area in the city, and after 1896 was applied to general purposes as part of the charities' eleemosynary branch.
COLLIN'S CHARITY. Samuel Collins, by will proved 1717, left to the corporation a yearly rentcharge of £3 out of lands in Foleshill and Exhall to be spent on apprenticing a poor freeman's son. His nephew, Samuel Collins, by will and codicil proved 1721, left his estate in Fillongley to the corporation in trust to pay for the apprenticing of four more freemen's sons in some trade in the city.
Between 1800 and 1830 eight or nine boys were apprenticed yearly at a total cost of between £30 and £33. Meanwhile a considerable surplus of rent (which rose from £46 in 1800 to £58 in 1806, £93 in 1817, and £100 in 1819) was allowed to accumulate in the receiver's hands and was only partly dispersed by the increase in 1830 in the number of apprentices to 56 at a cost of £336. In 1833 a total of £240 was spent on the apprenticing of 40 boys. In 1853, by which date all arrears due to the charity had been recovered, the rents amounted to about £97 of which £94 was spent on apprenticing sixteen boys. In 1875 the total income had risen to about £127 net derived from stock and land. By a Scheme of 1887 the endowment of both these apprenticing charities was transferred to the Bablake School Foundation to be applied to educational purposes.
CROW'S CHARITY. Thomas Crow, by will proved 1709, left property in Allesley, Berkswell, Coventry, and Meriden, with remainder to the corporation, in trust that from the rents £1 should be spent yearly at his trustees' discretion and 16s. weekly on the maintenance of eight poor, aged, or infirm widows or spinsters in the city, aged 60 or over, who were to be placed, if there was accommodation for them, in Ford's Hospital. The testator's residuary estate, which he left to be charitably disposed of by his executors, was applied by them to the apprenticing of two to four boys yearly under the administration of the trustees of the Cow Lane charity school.
In 1833 the sums of £1 and £41 12s. were paid out of a total of £147 rent to the corporation and to the eight poor women of whom one was an inmate of the hospital. The residue was distributed in amounts of 10s. apiece, generally among widows. In 1853 the residue from £164 10s. rent was distributed in sums ranging from 6s. 3d. to £2 apiece. By a Scheme of 1863 the number of weekly pensioners was raised from eight to twelve and the amount of their individual pensions was increased from 2s. to 5s. weekly. The pensioners, who were mostly the widows of working men, subsequently received also a subscription to the Provident Dispensary. In 1892, by which date the income of the charity amounted to about £243 (it had thus declined from nearly £311 in 1875), £155 5s. was disposed of in pensions and £1 16s. in subscriptions. From the 1880s onwards a yearly sum, increasing from £5 in 1886 to £40 in 1892, was carried from the net residue to the account of the St. Thomas's Day Charities' Fund.
By the Scheme of 1896 the income (about £256) of Crow's Charity was to be applied under the pensions branch in pensions of 5s. a week to poor widows or spinsters aged 60 and over who had lived in Coventry for seven years but had had no poor relief. In 1909 sixteen such pensions were being paid. Sales of the charity property in Allesley and Coventry took place in 1940, 1954, and 1957. By 1961 the charity was benefiting about 30 pensioners.
The residue of Crow's estate applied to apprenticing was virtually amalgamated with the assets of the Cow Lane charity school which in 1901 were transferred to the Bablake School Foundation. (fn. 11) By a Scheme of 1904 the endowment of Crow's Charity for Apprenticing, represented by some £1,180 stock yielding about £32, was to be held for educational purposes by the name of the Educational Foundation of Crow and Others. In 1908 the foundation was placed under the management of the corporation.
THE COUNTESS OF DEVONSHIRE'S CHARITY. Elizabeth, widow of William, 1st Earl of Devonshire (d. 1626), by will proved 1642, left £100 for the poor of Coventry. In 1646 her executors covenanted with the corporation to distribute £5 yearly among poor persons nominated by the corporation who should be 'industrious and painful in their callings' and not in receipt of any other relief. In 1833 a sum of £5 out of the corporation's general funds was distributed in amounts of 10s. each to ten poor householders, one from each ward. By 1893 this payment was carried to the Ash Wednesday Charities' Fund and after 1896 was applied to general purposes as part of the charities' eleemosynary branch.
DUCKETT'S CHARITY. John Duckett, by will proved 1639, left £50 with remainder to the corporation to be charitably disposed of. In 1672 the corporation ordered that £3 a year should be allowed out of this £50 for putting out a boy as apprentice. No payments made on this account could be traced after 1711. The Brougham Commissioners' recommendation in 1833 that payment should be resumed was apparently ignored and by 1893 the charity was regarded as lost.
FLINT'S CHARITY. Miles Flint, by will dated 1727, directed that two annuities of £52 should be paid to two spinsters or widows of St. Michael's parish in sums of 2s. a week. Many nominations of recipients were entered in the council minutes up to 1761 after which date the charity disappeared. It was nominally included among the General Municipal Charities in 1837 but was declared to be obsolete in 1893.
GAYER'S CHARITY. In 1626 John Gayer, merchant of London, gave to the corporation £133 6s. 8d. in trust to buy cloth at a cost of £9 yearly. This was to be made up into garments of which half were to be distributed to the poor by Gayer and his wife and by their relations in Coventry after their deaths and the other half given to the corporation's nominees who were each to receive a 1d. loaf with their clothes. By a corporation order of 1633 the £9 was to be paid to Gayer's Charity out of the income of £18 from the tithes of Keresley which the corporation had bought in 1629. (fn. 12) The charity was still being supported out of the tithes in 1748 when the £9 was spent on sixteen coats. In 1833, when the same number of coats at a cost of 26s. each was distributed, they were paid for out of the corporation's general funds. It was then assumed that the expenditure in excess of the original £9 had until that date been borne by the income of Norton's Charity (q.v.) from which the charity's accounts were thereafter to be kept separate. The bread charity apparently lapsed at some date after 1853 but the sum of £9 continued to be regularly received; in 1893 it was allocated in amounts of 25s. to as many of the trustees as it would run to; these normally chose beneficiaries with large families and low wages to whom they gave corresponding orders on a tailor. No one was allowed to benefit by the charity more than once. After 1896 the £9 was carried to the account of the eleemosynary branch and applied to general purposes.
HARWELL'S CHARITY. James Harwell, by will proved 1630, directed his executor to buy with a sum of £20 land worth £1 a year which should pay for three annual sermons to be preached in St. Michael's Church. His brother, Henry, added a sum of £15 to this bequest. In 1641 a rent-charge of £3 10s. was appropriated to the performance of this charity which was thenceforward to include a yearly distribution of 50 dozen of bread among the poor. By 1833 no sermons had been preached and no payment received for them for the previous 40 years. A sum of £2 10s. was received annually from the corporation and spent on bread which formed part of a larger yearly distribution. In 1853 the sermon charity was declared to be obsolete; £3 10s. was received on account of the charities of Harwell and Burton (q.v.) which were thenceforward virtually amalgamated and applied to the benefit of both Holy Trinity and St. Michael's parishes.
JELLIFF'S CHARITY. William Jelliff, by will proved 1684, left to the corporation property in Spon Street and in Foleshill from the rents of which the following payments were to be made: 6s. 8d. yearly apiece to twelve poor householders; £2 12s. on bread for Holy Trinity parish; 10s. yearly to the Vicar of Holy Trinity for a sermon in Holy Trinity or St. Michaels' Church, or, failing a sermon, to the poor of Holy Trinity parish; and 10s. to be retained by the corporation for wine at a yearly dinner. In 1781 the corporation conveyed the Spon Street premises to Alderman Vale, the lessee, and in 1828 ordered that the fee-farm rent which was then paid by Vale's son should be sold to the latter at twenty years' purchase. On the discovery in 1833 that the property belonged to Jelliff's Charity the younger Vale agreed to resign all his interest in it and accept a lease at £20 a year. The close at Foleshill was then let at £8 yearly. Of the payments secured by Jelliff's will the £4 was distributed among twelve poor householders and amounts of £2 12s. and 10s. were paid to the churchwardens and the Vicar of Holy Trinity respectively for bread and a sermon. The residue, including the 10s. for wine, was applied to the corporation's general purposes but the whole of the rent was thenceforward to be devoted to the performance of the charity, each object of which was to receive a proportionate increase.
In 1853 the residue from a total of nearly £100 income was given to the poor in sums of 6s. 8d. to £2. By 1893 the close at Foleshill was let at £9 and a dividend of £30 10s. was received from £1,108 stock which represented the proceeds from the sale of the Spon Street property in 1870. A net residue of £21 6s. 8d. was paid into the Ash Wednesday Charities' Fund. By the Scheme of 1896 the residue from the income, after the payment of £2 12s. and 10s. for bread and the sermon respectively, was to be applied to general purposes under the charities' eleemosynary branch. In 1937 the Foleshill property, then let at £25, was also sold, for £1,500.
JESSON'S CHARITY. Thomas Jesson, grocer, of London, by will proved 1636, left £2,000 to the corporation in trust to be applied to the purchase of land bringing in at least £100 yearly and from the rents the following payments made: £3 for the apprenticing of six poor freemen's sons; £1 apiece to ten poor freemen; 10s. apiece to twenty poor widows; £5 4s. and £12 8s. for bread for the poor of Holy Trinity and St. Michael's parishes respectively; £6 for a weekly sermon in St. Michael's Church, or, failing a sermon, to be distributed among twelve poor persons; £20 to be lent to two tradesmen, who should be freemen of the city, for five years at a time; £10 to be given to at least five of the testator's relations; £1 to the Vicar of St. Michael's for a yearly sermon whereby 'the people might be better stirred to deeds of charity' and to commemorate and render thanks for all former benefactions; £3 to the corporation for an annual dinner; and 15s. and 10s. to the churchwardens of St. Michael's and Holy Trinity respectively for cakes and wine. Of the residue 10s. was to be paid to the city clerk for ten years following the testator's death and £1 thereafter and the remainder was reserved for the poor with preference to those who should have suffered accidents at work.
In 1638 property at Clifford Chambers (Glos.) was bought for £1,890 which in 1833 was let at £215. Of the payments secured under the will those to poor freemen and widows and to Jesson's relations and those due on account of the apprenticing, the distribution of bread, the yearly sermon, and the consumption of cakes and wine continued to be paid, but the weekly sermon and the corporation dinner had both lapsed by 1833 and the loans to freemen at least by 1830. The corporation had also withheld the payment of £1 to the city clerk since 1830. The net residue of the charity income was given away in amounts of 10s. each to poor women. In 1853 the income had risen to £257 of which £23 was derived from the investment in 1839 of £700 which had previously accumulated in the receiver's hands. Of the residue from the expenditure of the £67 12s. as directed by the will, the £6 for a weekly sermon was disposed of among twelve poor persons, annual subscriptions amounting to 35 guineas were made to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital and the Provident Dispensary, and a surplus of about £130 was distributed among the poor in sums of 10s. to £2 apiece.
The amount available for general distribution had risen to over £300 by 1875 with the increase in the total income to £295 from real estate and £48 10s. from investments. By Scheme of 1887 a holding of £1,200 stock, (fn. 13) which was regarded as the endowment of the apprenticing charity, and a sum of £1,460 accumulated income were transferred to the Bablake School Foundation to be applied thenceforward to educational purposes. By 1893 the original objects of the charity had been lost sight of except for the distribution of bread, the yearly sermon, the payments to the churchwardens, and the gift of £1 apiece yearly to the founder's kin. From the remainder of the income, which had by then been reduced to about £190, £50 was subscribed to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital and the rest paid into the St. Thomas's Day Charities' Fund.
The Scheme of 1896 directed that the £10 due to Jesson's kin should be applied under the charities' pensions branch (five such relations were still benefiting yearly in 1961), that the payment of the £20 originally earmarked for loans should be revived and the yearly accumulations invested pending further direction, and that, subject to the payment of the £19 17s. reserved for bread, the sermon, and 'cakes and ale', the rest of the income should be applied to general purposes under the eleemosynary branch. By a further Scheme of 1909 the £20 yearly loan-money and the accumulations of it were to be added to the assets of Sir Thomas White's girls' school. Sales of the charity property at Clifford Chambers took place in 1859, 1906, 1925, and 1937.
MILL'S CHARITY. F. J. Mills, by will proved 1952, left the residue of his real and personal estate to the trustees of the General Municipal Charities to be used to provide or maintain housing for people of good character who had lived in Coventry for not less than seven years. By 1961 the assets of the charity, representing the residuary estate of some £11,420 and accumulated income, amounted to about £19,000. The trustees had by then been joined in their negotiations for a suitable site by the Council of Eventide Homes Ltd. This company had been formed in 1939 with the object of building homes for poor aged married couples for whom pensions as well as all amenities were to be provided. The homes, when built, were to be conveyed to the trustees of the General Municipal Charities, with all the company's other assets, for them to administer. It was hoped in 1961 that land would eventually be made available near Ford's Hospital in Greyfriars Lane on which accommodation might be built for beneficiaries under Mills's will.
NAILER'S CHARITYY. According to a memorandum made in an 'ancient will book' James Nailer, alderman, in or after 1683 bequeathed a yearly rentcharge of 10s. to the corporation in trust to be divided yearly between two poor widows and spent on coals. By 1833 the charity property could no longer be identified. The corporation was still paying 10s. yearly to two widows out of its general funds, but payment had lapsed by 1853 and in 1893 the charity was regarded as lost.
NORTON'S CHARITY. Simon Norton, by will proved 1641, left property to the corporation in trust to pay out of the rents £10 yearly to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Michael's parish for bread and to spend the residue on clothing for poor widows and children. The £10 was regularly paid and the bread distributed, but the history of the clothing charity is less easy to follow. In 1672 a sum of £5 14s. was spent on ten waistcoats for as many widows and £12 13s. 4d. on clothing in 1691. In 1709 when the property was let for £15 a year on a 99year lease apparently £1 11s. 8d. only was devoted to clothing but by that date and subsequently the charity's accounts were inextricably confused with those of Gayer's Charity (q.v.). In the 19th century it was supposed that during the lease the total sum due from Norton's Charity had been distributed as if in respect of Gayer's Charity, payment from which had been for many years more than double its proper amount. In 1833 it was agreed that thenceforward the two charities' accounts should be kept separate from each other and from the corporation's general funds.
In 1853 the rents totalled £75 from which the only current expenditure had been £10 spent on bread. It was proposed that £48 out of a balance of almost £140 in hand should be distributed in clothing during 1854–5 and the residue spent on improvements to property. By 1893 the rents from the charity property had again increased to £93 and since 1885 an average of £65 had been spent yearly on clothes. The Scheme of 1896 directed that the income, with the reservation of £10 for bread, should be devoted, as part of the charities' eleemosynary branch, to general purposes.
RADFORD'S CHARITY. Mary Radford, by will dated 1749, left property in trust to be sold and the proceeds invested. The yearly interest was to be distributed among six poor widows of Holy Trinity parish who were not receiving any other relief. In 1759 the prospective purchaser granted to the corporation an annuity of £2 which was being regularly distributed in 1833 and 1853. By 1893 it was being paid into the St. Thomas's Day Charities' Fund with no special regard for widows of any parish, and by the Scheme of 1896 it was to be applied to general purposes under the charities' eleemosynary branch.
RUSH'S CHARITY. Mrs. Elizabeth Rush, by will and codicil proved 1913, left £2,000 to the trustees of the General Municipal Charities in trust that the income should be applied to the benefit of poor widows, aged over 70, who had lived in Coventry for not less than twenty years and had received no parish relief. The legacy was invested in stock yielding £75 yearly which was spent on weekly pensions of 5s. each. Seven widows benefited in 1961 when the income had risen to just over £100.
SHARRATT'S CHARITY. Mrs. Elizabeth Sharratt, by trust deed of 1607 and will proved 1627, gave two sums of £50 to the corporation, both to be lent for three years to five tradesmen who were freemen of the city but had held no high office. Of the two sums of £2 10s. paid in interest one was to be distributed among the poor of Much Park Street, Cross Cheaping, and Bishop Street wards, and the other among the occupants of Bablake Boys' Hospital (10s.) and Ford's Hospital (10s.), the poor of the same three wards (10s.), and certain members of the corporation (£1). There were still two sums of £10 out on loan in 1727, but after that date there is no further trace of the loan-money. In 1833 the £5 was still being distributed as originally directed, but by 1893 only the sums of 10s. were paid to the Bablake School Foundation and Ford's Hospital, and since the corporation admitted no further liability the charity was regarded as lost.
SMITH'S CHARITY. Thomas Smith, a former mayor, by will proved 1728, left a yearly rent of 6s. 8d. to the alderman of Smithford Street ward to be paid to a poor householder. In 1853 no payment had been made for the previous 30 years. By 1893 the property was no longer identifiable and the corporation apparently not liable. The charity was therefore regarded as lost.
THE HENRY SODEN FUND. Henry Soden, by will proved 1888, left £1,000 to the Provident Dispensary to provide, in particular, beds for in-patients. After the Dispensary had been finally dissolved in 1947 (fn. 14) a Scheme of 1949 directed that Soden's Charity should be administered by the trustees of the General Municipal Charities and the income applied, under the eleemosynary branch of the charities, to the benefit of the sick poor of Coventry by the provision of necessaries such as special food or medicines or in grants of money.
SYMCOX'S CHARITY. A deed of 1705 to lead the uses of a fine to be levied by the heirs of Joseph Symcox declared that the corporation should receive a yearly rent-charge of £6 to be spent on apprenticing two poor boys — the sons of Coventry citizens — at premiums of £3 each. In 1833 preference was given to two weavers' sons. By a Scheme of 1887 the endowment of Symcox's Charity was transferred to the Bablake School Foundation to be applied to educational purposes.
UNKNOWN DONOR'S CHARITY. A yearly rentcharge of 6s. 8d., paid to the corporation in 1833 out of a house in Smithford Street, was given to a poor widow who was a householder of Smithford Street ward. In 1853 and 1893 the rent-charge was received by the trustees of the General Municipal Charities, though it had not at any time been formally included in the income of these charities, and carried by them to the Ash Wednesday Charities' Fund. In 1949 it was redeemed by a transfer of £13 6s. 8d. stock. After 1896 the 6s. 8d. formed part of the residue of income applicable to general purposes under the charities' eleemosynary branch.
WALE'S CHARITY. Thomas Wale, citizen of London, by will and codicil proved 1625, left to the corporation his manor of Wilbraham Anglesey and property in Great and Little Wilbraham (Cambs.), Norton juxta Twycross (Leics.), and Brinklow in trust that the residuary profits from these estates, subject to payments of £30 to the grammar school at Monks Kirby and £2 for the poor of Brinklow, (fn. 15) should be yearly devoted to the poor of Coventry. From an early period the annual distribution from a limited amount only of this residue included the payment of 6s. 8d. to three poor widows. In 1828 a balance of £900 was due from the corporation which was disbursed in amounts of 10s. over the following three years. Sums of 10s. apiece were being distributed among the poor from each of the city wards in 1833. It was then calculated that a residue of about £230 would thenceforward be available for yearly distribution. In 1853 the annual income from lands and stock amounted to nearly £300; £200 was then given away in sums of 6s. 8d. to £2. In 1893 a sum of £186 was paid into the Ash Wednesday Charities' Fund. By the Scheme of 1896 the income, apart from the payments in favour of Brinklow and Monks Kirby, was to be devoted to general purposes under the charities' eleemosynary branch.
The endowment of the charity was substantially converted to holdings of stock by the sales of property at Norton juxta Twycross in 1855 for £4,350, at Little Wilbraham in 1922 for £7,600, and at Brinklow in 1936 for £3,700, and by successive enfranchisements of copyhold land in the manor of Wilbraham Anglesey.
WHEATLEY'S CHARITY. By the deed of 1563 which regulated the administration of the Bablake Boys' Hospital it was covenanted that, from the profits of the property of Thomas Wheatley, the hospital's chief benefactor, in Little Packington and in and near Coventry, the corporation should pay yearly 30s. apiece to twelve poor men and 10s. to twelve poor widows, all householders in Coventry, and 10s. apiece to 24 poor householders in Henley-in-Arden, Nuneaton, Rugby, Solihull, Tanworth, and Warwick. By the Scheme of 1887 establishing the Bablake School Foundation, of which the trustees of the General Municipal Charities were appointed the governors, the payments due under Wheatley's Charity were to be made out of that part of the foundation's endowment which was to be applied to non-educational purposes. Since 1905 Wheatley's Charity has been distributed, as originally directed, in association with the charity of Nathaniel and Hannah Crynes for the reading of prayers in Bablake church. (fn. 16)
SIR THOMAS WHITE'S CHARITY. In 1542 Thomas (afterwards Sir Thomas) White gave £1,400 to the corporation in trust to buy property, (fn. 17) the rents of which were settled by an indenture of 1551. This was drawn up, 'at the mediation of certain friends of Sir Thomas White', between the corporation and the Merchant Taylors' Company of London with which White had long been associated and of which he became master probably in 1535. According to this agreement, to which White was a party only as a member of the company, the net yearly income from the Coventry trust property (then reckoned at about £70 a year) was to be disposed of after his death, and presumably by his direction, as follows: £40 was to be advanced on loan, £24 divided among twelve poor men who were householders of Coventry, £4 paid to the mayor, recorder, and aldermen, £1 to the steward and town clerk for keeping the charity's accounts, and £1 to the Merchant Taylors' Company, which, it appears, was to supervise the proper administration of the charity by the corporation. The loan-money was to be divided yearly, for the first ten years after Sir Thomas White's death, among four young men who had been apprentices in Coventry, and between two similar young men for the next 30 years. Thenceforward it was to go to one recipient only from Coventry every fifth year and in each of the intervening years it was to be lent to young men from the towns of Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, and Warwick which were to benefit, in that order, in yearly rotation. (fn. 18) Every loan was to be repaid at the end of nine years. No interest was charged, but the beneficiaries were required to put in bonds and sureties for repayment. The observance of this agreement was secured by the corporation's bond to the company of £4,000.
Following Sir Thomas's death in 1567 the corporation regularly paid the exact sums specified in the trust deed, but considered itself entitled to retain any surplus rents above £70. In 1695 an action was started in Chancery by the Merchant Taylors' Company to establish that the annual payments should be made in the original proportions of 24/70, 40/70, 4/70, 1/70, and 1/70 of the total increased income, which in 1705 was said to be about £613 yearly. The corporation attempted in the same year to reach an agreement out of court with the company and the four other corporations involved in settlement of their claims. This agreement was later discovered and set aside by the court since the corporation had not declared in it the true yearly value of the charity estates which in 1710 was reckoned at about £709. Further legal proceedings culminated in an order of 1712, vesting the charity and its estates in an independent body of trustees, and in the sequestration from 1712 to 1719 of the corporation's entire property in order to levy the £2,241 surplus due to the charity which it had been ordered to pay into court. In 1723, when administration of the charity was restored to the corporation, (fn. 19) it was decreed that £4 apiece in alms and £50 apiece in loans were to be paid yearly to a larger number of recipients, and the other payments were also proportionately increased. Certain regulations were added for the later leasing of charity property and the keeping of records, but in spite of these safeguards accounts were very sparsely or irregularly kept. On more than one occasion in the late 18th century the corporation had to be forced by a court action to allow public access to the charity records, and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries large sums, chiefly of loan-money (amounting in one case to about £3,600), were owed at times to the charity by several members of the corporation who had acted as charity officials and had not kept satisfactory accounts. (fn. 20)
From the early 18th century onwards the income from the charity estates continued to rise steadily, (fn. 21) and by 1833 stood at £2,159 to which were added the dividends of £179 from £6,373 stock bought between 1823 and 1833 with the profits of the Wyken Colliery. (fn. 22) The allocation of the income was by then set out in an annual 'proportion paper'. By this date also the distribution of the £4 alms (there were 186 recipients in 1832) was confined to freemen (fn. 23) chosen in each ward by the alderman. No individual freeman could benefit more than once in every ten years.
After 1835 Sir Thomas White's Charity was included among the General Municipal Charities under the name of Sir Thomas White's Stock Charity. A separate body of trustees was appointed to administer the charity's estates, and by Chancery order of 1837 they were to pay over the yearly income to the General Trustees. In 1853 about £912 out of a total net income of some £2,650 was distributed in £4 alms (known as the Four Pounds Gifts) among the poor who had been residents within the municipal boundary for five years and householders for at least one year previously. The 4/70 of the income divided among the trustees was at that time spent by several of them in private charity. Approximately £1,500 was advanced to Leicester in 1853, and there was then about £8,000 altogether out on loan in Coventry, but for several years, because of the difficulties experienced in finding the required securities, (fn. 24) applications for loans (known as the City Fifties) had not kept pace with the continued increase in income, and of the £30,780 stock held for the charity £16,194 represented accumulations of loan-money; there was also a balance of about £5,000 in cash. Proceedings originally brought in 1851 against the trustees by the Attorney General in a controversy over the disposal of this surplus finally resulted in the establishment of a Scheme in 1861 whereby £3,000 of it (it then amounted in all to £18,000) was to be spent on the purchase of a site and the building and equipping of a school for the daughters of deceased freemen, (fn. 25) of which the permanent endowment was to consist of half the remainder of the surplus (£7,500) and the loan-money available for Coventry every five years. The other half of the surplus was invested in £7,886 stock and formed Sir Thomas White's Pensions Fund. The income was distributed in pensions of 6s. a week to freemen, or freemen's sons, aged from 14 to 21 years and suffering from some permanent bodily incapacity. A second alteration in the charity's original trusts was effected by a Scheme of 1887 which reserved £1,000 yearly out of the 24/70 income available for the Four Pounds Gifts and directed that the remainder should be paid over to the Bablake School Foundation for educational purposes.
In 1893 a total of some £11,300 was out on loan, mostly in sums of £100, an increase which had been authorized by Scheme of 1865. The 250 recipients of the Four Pounds Gifts were then chiefly young men, aged under 30, who needed help in establishing themselves in a career. The Pensions Fund was yielding £217 yearly which was distributed among thirteen pensioners whose average age was 70.
The Scheme of 1896 appropriated to the four branches — pensions, loans, educational, and eleemosynary — into which the General Municipal Charities were to be divided the funds of the corresponding branches of White's Charity. The pension branch thus included White's Pensions Fund, as established in 1861, and the yearly £1,000 which was to be applied in pensions of 6s. a week paid to poor male inhabitants of Coventry who had resided there for seven years and had received no poor relief. In 1909 such pensioners were still aged, as a rule, 70 or over, but the age limit was later reduced to 65. About twelve to fourteen pensions were being paid in 1961 out of the 1861 fund, generally to those recommended by the trustees of the freemen's estates, and about 62 pensions out of the fund reserved in 1887.
The loans have continued to be advanced in sums of £50 to £100, in accordance with the Scheme of 1865, to freemen living within seven miles of Broadgate, normally to assist the purchase of a house or the establishment of a business. Up to 1912 the income from the loans branch continued to accumulate, but for some time after 1921, when the period of apprenticeship required for admission as a freeman was reduced to five years and the number of freemen enrolled rose considerably, stock had to be sold to meet the increased demand for loans. A peak of £16,930 was out on loan in 1931, and £15,460 in 1961 when the total available for loans amounted to about £25,940.
The educational branch as established in 1896 was largely made up of the endowment of the school for freemen's daughters to which was added a small part of the assets of Jesson's Charity in 1909. The school was closed in 1919, and a Scheme of 1921 establishing Sir Thomas White's Educational Foundation directed that the income from the endowment should thenceforward be applied in the form of'exhibitions in assisting girls, with preference to deceased freemen's daughters, to attend schools, universities, or training colleges. A further Scheme of 1929 made the exhibitions available to boys also. In 1961 it was decided that part of the foundation's accumulated income and other funds should be reserved for the creation of the Alee Turner Scholarships, each worth up to £1,000, to be awarded to freemen or freemen's children for post-graduate research. The educational foundation also received a legacy of £3,000 under the will of Miss A. E. Fridlander (d. 1963).
After 1896 the 5/70 of the charity income that had formerly been paid to the trustees and their clerk was to be spent as part of the eleemosynary branch on the purchase of clothes, fuel, tools, medical aid, food, or other necessaries, at a total cost of not more than £300 yearly — a sum increased to £450 in 1927 and £600 in 1942 — or in temporary financial relief. The remaining 1/70 has never been diverted from its original object throughout the charity's history and is still paid yearly to the Merchant Taylors' Company.
Church Municipal Charities
BARON'S CHARITY. Richard Baron, by will dated c. 1658, (fn. 26) left property outside Gosford Gate to the corporation in trust to pay 6s. 8d. yearly for a sermon in Holy Trinity Church and the residue of the rents to the churchwardens and overseers to be spent on a distribution of bread among the 'most needy and honest' inhabitants of New Street and West Orchard. In 1832 the rent was increased from 16s. to £2 which sum was thenceforward spent as directed by the will. In 1896 the whole charity estate, which had been currently let at £5, was sold for £400 and the proceeds invested in £359 stock yielding about £9. Payments of 6s. 8d. for the sermon and £1 13s. 4d. only for bread continued to be made until 1904 when the Charity Commissioners ordered that the accumulated dividends should be invested and that the whole surplus should thereafter be spent on bread. In 1906 the endowment of the sermon charity was represented by £13 6s. 8d. stock and that of the bread charity by £448 stock yielding £11 4s. The bread charity was included in the Scheme of 1906 which created the Holy Trinity United Charities (q.v.) and also provided that Baron's Ecclesiastical Charity should be administered by the churchwardens of Holy Trinity and the income from it paid to the vicar.
CHAMBERS'S CHARITY. Joseph Chambers, alderman, by will proved 1685, left to the corporation a moiety of the George Inn in trust that the rents, then amounting to £7 a year, should be distributed halfyearly among the most needy in St. Michael's parish with preference for the inhabitants of Jordan Well ward of which he was alderman. The corporation bought up the other moiety of the inn in 1689 but apparently failed to pay over the share due to the charity and this neglect formed one of the subjects of an information laid in 1714. The members of the corporation contended in answer that they should be reimbursed for half the money spent by their predecessors in getting the property into repair. In 1833, when the inn was let for £20 yearly, no trace could be found of any payment to the charity. The Brougham Commissioners considered that the corporation had been by then fully reimbursed and that the charity was entitled to receive half the total rents thenceforward. In 1854 the charity's moiety of the rents amounted to £32 8s. 10d. from which the costs of repairs were deducted and the residue spent on bread and coals. Thereafter the property declined in value: in 1875 about £24 was spent on fuel and by 1877, when the property was described as 'old and dilapidated', an average of £14 yearly was received. In 1878 the charity's moiety was sold and the proceeds invested in £441 10s. stock, yielding £12 2s. 6d.
By a Scheme of 1924 (which regulated the administration and application of several of the Church Municipal Charities) a total of nearly £450 stock, representing the endowment of Chambers's Charity, was vested in the trustees of the Consolidated Charities in St. Michael's parish (q.v.) and the income assigned to the benefit of the parish poor and particularly those of Jordan Well ward.
COCKESONNE'S CHARITY. In 1566 John Cockesonne conveyed tenements in Cross Cheaping and Palmer Lane and two closes in Radford in trust that £1 from the rents of the Palmer Lane and Radford properties should be spent on the preaching of three sermons in Holy Trinity Church with payments of 4d. for the ringing of the sermon bell and 1s. to the vicar, the mayor, and the churchwardens, and that the residue should be given yearly to the city poor. As much as possible of the rents from the rest of the charity property was to be devoted to the poor of the city or to 'some charitable purpose'. By 1833 the tenements in Cross Cheaping had apparently been disposed of; the remaining property was let for a total of about £35 to £45 from which £1 was being paid for sermons and 4s. to the mayor, vicar, churchwardens, and sexton. A mere £3 was then spent on a distribution of bread which seems to have been first recorded about 1661. (fn. 27) In 1840 a total of £16 5s. was applied to the relief of the poor, (fn. 28) and in 1853, out of the £21 5s. received in rents, £20 4s. was distributed in bread in Holy Trinity parish and in coals throughout the city. By the early 20th century a payment of £3 or £3 3s. yearly was being made to Holy Trinity United Charities (q.v.) besides that for sermons and a balance of about £35 was distributed in coals. Sales of charity property took place in 1877, 1898, 1917, and 1927. The Scheme of 1924 provided that out of £1,160 10s. stock £40 should be allotted to Cockesonne's Sermon Charity and the remainder reserved as the endowment of Cockesonne's City Charity from the income of which £3 was to be spent for the benefit of the poor in Holy Trinity parish. The rest was to be applied to the benefit of the Coventry poor on the same lines as in the Scheme of 1893 regulating the Consolidated Charities in St. Michael's parish (q.v.) except that expenditure under (iii) of that Scheme was unrestricted. In the 1960s a total of about £2,550 stock was held on the charity's behalf, and the residue of the income of about £70 was being applied in vouchers or postal orders for coal. Some £60 was so spent in 1961–2.
ELKINGTON'S CHARITY. Richard Elkington, of Shawell (Leics.), by will proved 1607, left £50 to the corporation (fn. 29) to be lent yearly to five poor craftsmen or tradesmen nominated by the vicar and churchwardens of Holy Trinity parish. Of the 5 per cent. interest charged on the loans £2 was to be distributed among the parish poor and 10s. paid to the town clerk. The £50 disappeared some time after the 1680s, when it was still being employed in loans, but in the 19th century £2 was still paid by the corporation and spent by the churchwardens on a yearly distribution of bread. (fn. 30) After 1906 the charity was included among the Holy Trinity United Charities and its income applied to general relief in the parish.
HOPKINS'S CHARITY. William Hopkins, alderman, by will dated 1570 (confirmed in 1582 by his son's deed poll), left to the corporation a messuage in Little Park Street from the rents of which £1 was to be spent on the preaching of three sermons a year in St. Michael's or any other church in the city. In 1636 the money was paid for sermons preached at Bablake church and in 1698 at St. Michael's. In 1833 the corporation owned several messuages in Little Park Street and paid £2 yearly to the Vicar of St. Michael's of which £1 was supposedly on account of Hopkins's Charity. The three sermons continued to be preached.
LANE'S CHARITY. Thomas Lane, by will proved 1657, left £1,100 to be invested in land and the rents applied, in the proportions of ¾ and ¼ respectively, to the maintenance of poor scholars at the university and the relief by yearly pensions of £5 or £6 of the 'most poor and pious' clergymen's widows in Coventry and Warwickshire. In 1673 Lane's executors conveyed to the corporation the assets that they held in trust under Lane's will, and in 1675 the corporation bought, for £900, land at Berkswell, then let at £48 10s. yearly, as the endowment of Lane's Charity. The Brougham Commissioners' investigation in 1833 revealed that the charity had been very carelessly administered in the 19th century: a large amount of rent had accumulated in the receiver's hands since 1800 and between that date and about 1830 only one widow had received £6 yearly. It was then agreed that as the rents from the charity property had recently risen from £70 to £205 yearly the widows' pensions should be increased to £15 each and the allowances to poor scholars (who were by then chosen almost invariably from the Free Grammar School) in proportion. By 1853, when the income had risen again to £224 from rents and about £35 from stock, three widows were receiving £18 yearly but their pension had been reduced to £12 by the 1880s with the decline in the yearly rental to £200 and under.
By the Scheme of 1924 the trustees of the Church Municipal Charities were to continue to administer Lane's Estate Charity from which the income then amounted to about £190. Of this they were to pay ¾ to the trustees of Lane's Educational Foundation to the benefit of the King Henry VIII School (the Free Grammar School), and ¼ to the Bishop of Coventry and other trustees to be spent on pensions not exceeding £15 each. Sales of most of the charity property took place in 1943 and 1944. In 1962 the income from investments was being apportioned as directed; £40 was then paid out in annuities to widows.
NICCOLLS'S CHARITY. Thomas Niccolls, draper and alderman of Coventry, by his will of which letters of administration were granted in 1589, left to the corporation two rents of £1 out of property in Much Park Street to be applied to the upkeep of Bablake Boys' Hospital and the repair of St. Michael's Church. A further £100 was to be employed by the corporation in loans to ten clothiers for three years at a time. Of the 12/3 per cent. interest charged £1 10s. was to be paid to members of the corporation and 3s. 4d. to Bond's Hospital. By 1833 these payments had long previously been discontinued and no loans appear to have been made after 1727. The corporation was enfeoffed of the property in Much Park Street in 1613 and in 1833 owned several houses there in respect of two annuities of £1 paid out of corporation funds. A sum of £1 continued to be paid towards church repairs.
WALDEN'S CHARITY. Isaac Walden, alderman, by will proved 1632, directed his wife to spend £140 on the purchase of land on behalf of the corporation which was to pay 30s. for three sermons to be preached yearly in the city and 1s. to the bell-ringer. Any surplus was to be devoted to the apprenticing of poor children from Bablake Boys' Hospital. In 1648 the corporation directed that one of these sermons should be preached in St. Michael's Church on the day of the Great Leet. (fn. 31) No money was apparently laid out in land and by 1833 no sermons were being preached though the corporation continued to pay £7 out of its general funds to the hospital.
WARREN'S CHARITY. Thomas Warren, by will proved 1530, bequeathed to the corporation a yearly rent of £2 1s. 4d. out of property in Corley to provide for three sermons to be preached in Holy Trinity Church at a cost of £1; the residue was to pay for his obit there. (fn. 32) After the dissolution of the guilds and chantries a rent of £1 1s. 4d., representing Warren's bequest, was included in a grant to the corporation of former guild and chantry property in 1552. (fn. 33) In the 19th century the Vicar of Holy Trinity received £1 a year and continued to preach the sermons.
ARMFIELD CHARITY. In 1662 John Armfield, draper, gave £40 to the drapers' company to be lent to two drapers and two clothiers every three years charged with interest at 12/3 per cent., but nothing further is known of it.
BENTLEY'S CHARITY. Thomas Bentley, by will proved 1604, gave an orchard in Dead Lane with remainder to the corporation in trust that from the rents 10s. should be distributed in money and bread to the inhabitants of Dead Lane, 10s. to the almsmen of Bond's Hospital, and 6s. 8d. paid for a yearly sermon to be preached in St. Michael's Church. No trace could be found in 1833 of any property or distribution of money relating to this charity.
DAVENPORT'S CHARITY. Christopher Davenport, alderman, by will proved 1629, declared that the £100 already delivered to the corporation should be lent to ten young weavers and clothiers every three years. He also gave £6 to be lent in sums of £2 each to successive masters and wardens of the smiths' company during their year of office. The last of this loan-money seems to have been lost some time after 1702.
HADDON'S CHARITY. John Haddon, draper and alderman, by will proved 1519, left £300 to be kept in St. Mary's Hall. Sums of £100 were to be lent yearly to the city wardens, to young men of the drapers' company, and to 'commoners of all occupations'. The charity was apparently lost some time after 1705 when £20 was out on loan.
A total of £70 of 'MR. HOPKINS'S LOAN-MONEY' was lent out by the mayor to five recipients in 1579 to be repaid in two to three years. Sampson Hopkins, a draper, was thought to have given £100 each to the companies of drapers and clothiers in 1574 but no record of this loan-money could be found in 1833.
RABY'S CHARITY. Nicholas Raby, by will proved 1609, directed that of £150 owed to him £20 should be spent on books for the Free Grammar School library and £130, with any residuary profits from his estate, should maintain the poor of the tailors' and shearmen's company. The mayor and steward of Coventry were to share in the administration of this charity, but in 1833 it was stated that it had apparently never been applied (see below, s.v. Stanley's Charity).
SALE'S CHARITY. The Revd. William Sale, Canon of Lichfield, by will proved 1588, gave £20 to be lent to four poor craftsmen for four years at a time. The money was out on loan in 1682, by which date the charity was vested in the corporation, but it later disappeared.
SMYTH'S CHARITY. In 1623 Richard Smyth, draper, of London, gave to the corporation a yearly rent of £1 in trust to be divided among ten poor inhabitants of Earl Street ward who were to be nominated by the alderman or his deputy. In 1655 a distribution of bread was made on account of this charity, and the rent was received up to 1709 after which date there is no trace of it.
SPENCER'S CHARITY. In 1539 Isabel, widow of Sir John Spencer of Wormleighton, gave £40 to be lent to six men of Coventry. The loan-money was still being employed in the late 17th century, but seems to have been lost shortly afterwards.
STANLEY'S CHARITY. William Stanley (d. 1640), (fn. 34) master of the Merchant Taylors' Company and of the drapers' company of Coventry, by will dated 1638, bequeathed to the corporation £100 to be lent to five young freemen of the dyers' company every three years and a further £100 to the drapers' company for similar loans. A bond for £20 of the loan-money was apparently in existence in 1714 but no subsequent loans could be traced in 1833.
Stanley also left £100 to the corporation for the apprenticing of ten freemen's sons in London or Coventry, £100 to the drapers' company for putting poor children to work, and £150 belonging to Nicholas Raby (see above) to the tailors' and shearmen's company subject to the further execution of Raby's will, but nothing was known of these bequests in 1833.
TALLANTS'S CHARITY. John Tallants, goldsmith, and mayor in 1562, by will proved 1573, directed that the mayor and two others should supervise the loan of £40 to six 'honest poor occupiers' every three years. The loan charity appears to have been lost some time after 1727.
WARD'S CHARITY. Sarah Ward, by will dated 1662, gave £100 to the corporation in trust to spend £6 yearly on freeing debtors from Coventry and London gaols in alternate years. In spite of orders issued by the corporation in 1673 and 1674 the £100 was still in the hands of the sole executor when he became bankrupt in 1678. The legacy was apparently never received nor any income from it.
WHITE'S CHARITY. Thomas White, alderman of Bristol and formerly alderman and vintner of Coventry, by will of about 1546, left £200 to the corporation, of which £20 was to be paid annually to successive mayors and £20 divided among the sheriffs, £20 lent to two aldermen, nominated by the mayor, and £140 to fourteen 'honest towardly citizens' for three years at a time. Some of the loanmoney had been lost by 1641, when the corporation determined itself to replace it, and £20, which had been lent 'many years previously', was repaid in 1833, but otherwise nothing was then known of it.
WILLINGTON'S CHARITY. In 1549 William Willington or Wilkington gave £120 to be lent to twelve men for four years at a time at 5 per cent. interest which was to be distributed twice a year among the poor. The money was out on loan in 1682, but was subsequently lost.
WRIGHT'S CHARITY. Richard Wright, by will of which letters of administration were granted in 1640, left £20 to the corporation in trust to spend £1 4s. a year on bread for the poor of Bishop Street ward. In 1833 no distribution of this charity could be traced after 1686.
BOHUN'S CHARITY. John Bohun (d. 1691) (fn. 35) left £100 the interest on which was to be distributed among the poor at the direction of George Bohun, his brother and executor. The latter, who died before the legacy was paid, charged his estate with the payment of it, by will dated 1705, and left a further £50 to the poor of Coventry, Coundon, Keresley, and Newland in Exhall. By a court order of 1718, arising from an action brought in Chancery against George Bohun's executors for payment of £150 and interest, the Coventry poor were to receive one-third of the income from this sum and the poor of Coundon, Keresley, and Newland the remaining twothirds. In 1738 the amount then due was to be invested in £346 South Sea Annuities. By 1833 the income of £10 7s. 8d. a year was generally allowed to accumulate for four to five years before being distributed in Coventry, in amounts of 5s. to 10s. or 20s., or occasionally in coal and blankets. £19 7s. 6d. had been distributed in 1826 and the remaining £38 in amounts of 10s. to 20s. in Coundon, Keresley, and Newland. In 1853 Coundon and Keresley were both receiving one-third of the income. By the Act of the same year South Sea Annuities were extinguished but owing to the practice of quinquennial distribution the effect of this Act on the charity income was not realised until 1857. The trust fund was reinvested in 1858 in £354 Consols yielding £10 12s. 3d. a year and all arrears of dividends on the old stock were recovered. By 1896 the yearly income had fallen to about £9 15s. and in 1909 to £8 16s. 6d. In 1956 it stood at £8 16s. 8d.
BROOKE'S BIBLE CHARITY. John Brooke, by will proved 1679, left a messuage in Earl Street of which the rents were to provide bibles to be distributed yearly to poor children. In 1720 the messuage was charged with the expenditure of £6 yearly on bibles. A subsequent owner gave away fifteen to twenty bibles yearly up to 1799 as was 'recollected' in 1833, but a few bibles had only once been distributed following a fresh conveyance about 1815. The arrears of £50 were paid over at the suggestion of the Brougham Commissioners to the National School towards the liquidation of a building debt; 40s. to 50s. a year were to be spent by the school trustees on bibles as rewards for the older children, and the regular payments of £6 were to be resumed. In 1893 the property was bought by the corporation which continued to make an annual payment of £6 after the house was demolished in 1897. By a Scheme in the same year the trustees of the General Municipal Charities were appointed trustees of Brooke's Charity. In the 20th century it was their practice to distribute the bibles yearly among several places of worship in Coventry taken in rotation.
LADY HERBERT'S HOMES. In 1935 a single-storied range of almshouses was built (fn. 36) at the expense of Sir Alfred Herbert on a site that he had bought at the junction of Cook Street and Chauntry Place. The occupants — one to each house — were to be poor widows or elderly spinsters who had been born or had lived, for a 'reasonable' period, in or near Coventry, but with preference to those who (or whose husbands or relations) had been employed by the firm of Alfred Herbert Ltd. Each was to receive 10s. a week out of the endowment fund of £8,000 which was otherwise to be devoted to the maintenance and repair of the buildings. In 1937 a second site was bought immediately to the south on which similar almshouses were built (fn. 37) and endowed with a further £5,000. In 1962 expenditure from the income derived from £18,500 stock included £140 10s. spent in allowances to the almswomen.
THE DOCTOR WILLIAM MACDONALD OF JOHANNESBURG TRUST.MRS.K.A.Whitford-Turner (d. 1958) of Johannesburg, by will and codicil dated 1954 and 1955, left her residuary estate, which realized approximately £12,000, (fn. 38) to the Lord Mayor of Coventry to form a trust fund. The income was to be applied at the mayor's discretion to charitable purposes including 'the provision of education, the advancement of art, science or knowledge . . . ecclesiastical purposes, the conduct of research' as well as to the support of charitable institutions or the relief of individual distress. It was the particular wish of the testatrix that money should be given to the Coventry Hospital or to some other hospital in the city for the benefit of children injured at Coventry by enemy action.
MOORE'S BEQUEST. John Moore, mayor in 1728 and a prominent Independent, (fn. 39) by will proved 1731, left property in Coventry, Keresley, and Nuneaton, and the bulk of his personal estate, in trust that of the income from it (subject to the payment of certain annuities) £40 should be divided among 40 tenants of the trust property and the residue should be applied in weekly payments of 2s. each to eleven people named in the will and to the general benefit of the poor of Coventry. In 1833 the rents of the charity estate amounted to almost £410 a year to which was added yearly dividends of £44 from £1,466 stock purchased in 1813 after the sale of property. The payment of the £40 was then made by deduction of £1 from each tenant's rent, and an annual distribution of tickets for the receipt of money and, more often, coals took place at Christmas. An average of £190 a year had been distributed from 1825 to 1831. About £135 yearly was spent on repairs and there had been recent heavy expenditure on building and maintenance. By 1853 the gross income of the charity had risen to about £548 of which £40 was still remitted to tenants and £315 was 'all but frittered away' yearly in small amounts, but by the 1860s part of the income was being spent on medical relief, subscriptions to the Girls' Industrial Home, and the education of poor children. (fn. 40) Between 1857 and 1873 the major part of the charity estate in Coventry and Nuneaton (from which, during that period, the average net income had been about £181 a year) was sold for a total of £6,458. Of the remaining property land at Foleshill was sold in 1898 and 1926 for a little over £1,000, land at Keresley in 1929 for £2,885, and one acre at Nuneaton in 1932 for £395. A rent charge of 8s. a year paid by the Coventry Canal Company was redeemed in 1926 for £16 stock.
At the turn of the century an income of just over £200 was received, chiefly from £6,627 stock, and in 1909 an average of £125 to £150 a year was being distributed in sums of 5s. or 10s. for six or twelve hundredweight of coal and in five pensions of 10s. a month and two of 5s. a month, together with a subscription of £5 5s. to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital. In 1950 about £250 out of a gross income of £380 was being distributed yearly by ticket among the poor of Coventry usually in amounts of 10s. each, and £276 out of an income of £454 was distributed in 1962–3. The title Moore's Bequest was adopted in 1924.
SMITH'S CHARITY. Samuel Smith, by will proved 1730, directed that as soon as the income from the assets of his estate amounted to £50 a year it should be distributed by his trustees among ten poor householders, men or widows, of Coventry, with at least one child, in sums of 8s. 4d. a month. When the income had further increased the yearly expenditure was to include £10 a year to be spent on coal for twenty poor Coventry families, £3 10s. to £4 on twenty bibles for sixteen boys and girls from Coventry (and four from Bedworth), and £40 divided among twenty poor families; up to ten deserving single persons in one year might benefit by this last gift. After an action had been brought in Chancery against the heir at law and the trustees for an account of Smith's estate the charity was established by decree of the court in 1758. In 1760 the estate consisted of houses in Coventry, let for £43 a year, and £2,378 stock yielding about £70. By the will of James Boydall, one of Smith's trustees, dated 1768, the interest on £200 was to be added to the income of Smith's Charity, and a further £1,060 stock, representing Boydall's bequest and the capital of an annuity charged on Smith's estate, was, by an order of 1774, carried to the charity account.
In 1833 the income from rents and dividends totalled £188 from which the payments included £65 for about 100 tons of coal distributed by ticket and £6 8s. for sixteen bibles which were usually given to girls going out into service. The 8s. 4d. pension was then usually reserved for old people who were receiving no parochial relief. In 1853, when the gross income from real estate amounted to £215, £132 was spent on coals, £2 16s. on bibles, and £32 was divided among sixteen poor people. With the subsequent rebuilding of much of the charity property the income had again risen, more sharply, to about £330 by 1866. (fn. 41) By 1909, out of an income of £510, derived chiefly from real property, £150 to £225 a year was spent on coal, supplied in particular to widows, by tickets worth ½ ton each, and £5 to £7 on bibles. Each of the nine trustees had the nomination of four pensioners (mostly women) to receive 10s. a month, and could spend £2 each on two cases of sickness or special distress. The income had risen to approximately £3,500 by 1965 with the letting of the charity property on a repairing lease.
SPENCER'S CHARITY. David Spencer, by will proved 1888, left the residue of his real and personal estate in trust to be converted and invested and the income distributed among aged or infirm poor women, who had lived in Coventry for at least seven years, in sums of 6s. a week, with £2 a year each for clothing and a 'reasonable' annual sum for coals. The recipients were to be not less than 65 years old (this age limit was temporarily raised to 70 in 1894) but of no particular denomination. In 1889 a sum of £65,280 was invested in £67,000 stock. In 1909, when between 185 and 200 almswomen were receiving the charity and there were a further 200 applications on hand, £2,935 was distributed in pensions, £373 in coals in amounts of 2½ tons each, and £379 in drapery out of an income of £4,027 which was then derived from approximately £24,620 stock and £64,700 invested in mortgages. It was eventually decided in the same year, after some controversy, that the minimum age for Spencer's almswomen was to be 65 years and that preference was to be given to those not eligible for the government pension under the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908. In the 1960s the charity income of £3,000 to £4,000 was applied as originally directed to the benefit of between 184 and 194 almswomen yearly.
SWILLINGTON'S CHARITY. The exact circumstances in which this charity was originally established are obscure. Mrs. Elizabeth Swillington, who died in 1546, by will proved 1547 left, among other bequests, sums of £66 13s. 4d. and £20 'to be bestowed in high ways about Stivichall and in alms there'. (fn. 42) It is not clear whether or not this clause was intended to create a permanent trust, and the will's existence seems to have been ignored by most investigators into the charity before the late 19th century. (fn. 43) According to an inquisition taken in 1646 Mrs. Swillington had, about 1552–3, given £140 to buy land from which the yearly income was to be spent on the repair of the 'common highways nigh unto the . . . city of Coventry, lying without the same city', and particularly the roads in and near Stivichall, leading from Stivichall to Coventry and from Coventry towards Warwick. Any surplus was to be given to the Coventry poor. (fn. 44) An indenture of 1784, apparently the earliest document inspected by the Brougham Commissioners in their enquiry into the charity's history, stated that Mrs. Swillington had paid this money to Henry Over in or about 1548, giving verbal instructions, as her 'last will', about its application. (fn. 45)
A fresh investigation in the late 19th century revealed, from the corporation archives, that in 1548 Over (an alderman and former mayor) negotiated a purchase of land worth £7 yearly in Coundon, Keresley, and Radford in connexion with Mrs. Swillington's gift. It is clear that from the first this charity was virtually under the supervision of the corporation to which Over had been responsible in buying the land and which was a party to the trust deed of 1553. By this the charity estate was vested in trustees who covenanted that two men, whom Mrs. Swillington had named as the supervisors of her written will, should during their lifetimes receive and disburse the rents. The corporation, however, superintended the auditing of the charity's accounts, which subsequently became completely confused with its own, and also appointed the surveyors of the roads repaired at the charity's expense.
There is little evidence of the amount of charity income spent on purely eleemosynary purposes (fn. 46) before the early 1830s when out of a total of £190 a surplus of £30 to £40 was distributed yearly to the poor, generally in the form of coal. By this date the repairs undertaken by the charity trustees were not confined to the roads between Coventry, Stivichall, and Warwick and continual controversy between the trustees and various local authorities about the extent of the former's liabilities led to the holding of a full enquiry into the charity's history by an assistant commissioner in 1886–7. At this period, out of an income of almost £240, £41 was spent on coal, the recipients of which included 15 poor inhabitants of Stivichall.
By Schemes of 1888 and 1894 it was agreed that thenceforward only £70 a year should be spent on road repairs and the residue applied in subscriptions to hospitals, provident clubs and societies, or friendly associations, in contributions to the provision of nurses, and in the supply of necessaries such as clothes, bedding, fuel, tools, aid in sickness, or food. The scope of the charity's application was further enlarged by Schemes of 1913 and 1956, of which the latter authorized the payment of inter alia weekly allowances of 2s. 6d. to 10s., travelling expenses incurred by sick persons or their relatives, and grants to those entering on a trade or profession.
The charity income has continued to rise since the 1880s. By 1911–12, when it stood at nearly £400, £70 yearly was being subscribed to hospitals and philanthropic institutions and an average of £110 spent on coal-tickets. In 1963 the income of just over £900, chiefly derived from investments, was applied largely in donations except for £235 spent on vouchers for food, clothing, and coal.
Parish Charities: (fn. 47) Holy Trinity
BREAD CHARITIES. Only one bread charity was originally vested in the Holy Trinity parish authorities. This was that of Mrs. Ann Yardley who, by will dated 1826, made identical bequests of £100 to each of the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. John, and St. Michael. All the other parish bread charities were administered up to 1835 by the corporation and subsequently those of Richard Baron (c. 1658), John Cockesonne (1566), and Richard Elkington (1607) formed part of the Church Municipal Charities and those of Humphrey Burton (1683), William Jelliff (1684), and Thomas Jesson (1636) part of the General Municipal Charities. After 1906 all these bread charities, of which the total income then amounted to about £27, were included among the Holy Trinity United Charities.
OTHER CHARITIES. Godfrey's Charity. According to a table of benefactions, dated 1661, in Holy Trinity Church Thomas Godfrey gave 10s. to be paid yearly by the corporation to the churchwardens and spent on the clothing of some poor boy. (fn. 48) By 1833 this sum had 'for many years' been paid to the treasurer of the Blue Coat School, but from 1853 onwards the 10s. was received by the churchwardens and spent on clothing as originally directed.
HURT'S CHARITY. Mrs. Elizabeth Hurt, by will proved 1579, left a messuage in Broadgate to her daughter Agnes charged with the payment of £1 yearly to buy wood and coals for the city poor. In 1580 Agnes Hurt granted this annuity to Holy Trinity parish. By the 19th century it was distributed by the churchwardens among poor women of the parish in sums of 2s. 6d. apiece or in the form of fuel.
LORD LIFFORD'S CHARITY. James Hewitt, 1st Viscount Lifford, by will proved 1789, bequeathed a yearly rent of £5 to the vicar and churchwardens out of property at Fillongley to be spent on the upkeep of his family vault and the residue distributed among the poor of Cross Cheaping in money, bread, or coals. Throughout the 19th century the whole of the rent was distributed among poor parishioners in sums of 2s. 6d. to 5s.
PIGGIN'S CHARITY. Mrs. Jane Piggin or Picken, by will dated 1612, bequeathed £13 6s. 8d. to the corporation from which £1 was to be paid yearly to the vicar and churchwardens of Holy Trinity parish and distributed among poor parishioners. (fn. 49) In the 19th century this payment was regularly received and 4d. apiece was distributed among 60 poor people at Christmas.
ROGERS'S CHARITY. The Revd. John Rogers, by will dated 1735, bequeathed £14 out of the yearly rents of his estate at Atherstone and Mancetter in trust to be paid to Holy Trinity parish for the support of the parish workhouse. In 1801 Holy Trinity was united with St. Michael's parish for poor law purposes and in 1833 a net sum of £12 13s. 4d. a year was received from the owner of the estate and paid over to the directors of the poor of the united parishes. By Act of 1862 poor relief in both parishes was to be met out of a common fund raised by an equal rate. The dispute which followed between the directors and the churchwardens of Holy Trinity, who at that date had Rogers's rent-charge in hand and wished thenceforward to apply it solely for the benefit of their parish, was resolved by a Scheme in 1871 according to which the rent-charge was to be spent on the education of deserving poor children in the parish. In 1876 the trustees of the charity estate redeemed the charge of £12 13s. 4d. by transfer of £422 10s. stock to the churchwardens.
TOMPSON'S CHARITY. William Tompson, by will dated 1575, left property in trust that the churchwardens of Holy Trinity should distribute from the rents 9s. in amounts of 4d. each among the poorest parishioners, reserving 1s. for themselves and the residue for repairs to the property. In 1612 it was granted to the parish, and by 1702 it formed part of the Holy Trinity Church Estate. The 10s. continued to be distributed yearly out of the rents of Tompson's property which were otherwise devoted to church repairs.
WEST ORCHARD ALMSHOUSES. In 1638 the corporation covenanted with John Clarke, the alderman of Cross Cheaping ward, for payment of £8, that the tenants then occupying two small tenements in West Orchard, which had formerly been part of the guilds' and chantries' possessions, should continue to inhabit the property at a rent of 7s. 4d. as long as Alderman Clarke, his deputy, and the Vicar of Holy Trinity should agree. These three were also to supervise the performance of this trust and to ensure that residents in Cross Cheaping ward should have preference in the placing of tenants. Power was reserved to the corporation of substituting other tenants who were to be poor freemen or widows and to pay 2s. a year towards repairs. In 1833 the property consisted of an eight-roomed building occupied by poor tenants, mostly recipients of parish relief, who were placed there by the accountant churchwarden. By 1854 the building was vested in the trustees of the General Municipal Charities but was so dilapidated as to provoke a formal complaint from the Board of Health, and by the late 1860s the 'almshouses', in which two rooms only were occupied, rent-free, were described as 'literally a ruin'. (fn. 50) In 1870 they were pulled down and the site sold for £150 which was paid, with the consent of the Vicar of Holy Trinity, into a separate account called the Almshouse Fund. In 1908 this fund, with the interest that had accumulated on it, stood at £472 11s. 6d. Though it was then stated that the building of new almshouses was 'shortly to be considered', the fund eventually became part of the assets of Ford's Hospital (1961).
The almshouses, which stood on the north side of West Orchard near its east end, (fn. 51) were a medieval timber-framed range, possibly dating from the 14th century. In the centre, dividing the two tenements, was a pointed archway leading to a yard at the rear. The upper story had heavy curved braces and was jettied towards the street. One of the doorways had carved spandrels and there were remains of a window with traceried lights. (fn. 52)
WRIGHT'S CHARITY. Elizabeth Wright, by will proved 1714, left land (10 a.) in Handsworth, Harborne, and West Bromwich in trust that the vicars of Holy Trinity and St. Michael's should distribute yearly from the rents 15s. apiece among six devout poor women in either parish to be spent on clothing. The surplus rent was to be equally divided between the two vicars. In 1833 the property was let at £35 a year; the Vicar of St. Michael's received the net income and retained half from which £7 was spent on the clothing specified and the residue in private charity. The moiety applicable to Holy Trinity parish was disposed of solely in clothing. In 1853 about £24 was shared between the two parishes; by 1875 the net income had risen to £33. The property was sold in 1897 for £2,500 and the proceeds invested in £2,300 stock which by 1909 was yielding £69 a year. In Holy Trinity parish £10 was then spent yearly on clothing for widows and the residue on a variety of special cases of need. In St. Michael's parish the residue was paid into the vicar's poor fund on which he gave orders for clothing, blankets, groceries, and coal for between fifteen and 30 recipients. The charity was regulated by a Scheme in 1917 which allocated sums of £1,150 stock as the endowments of separate charities in the two parishes. Of the income of each, £4 10s. was allotted to the vicar's use, £20 was reserved for the benefit of poor widows, and the residue was to be applied at the trustees' discretion to the relief of other poor people in the parish.
YOUNGE'S CHARITY. Mrs. Winifred Younge left by her will (n.d.) £50 to be paid to the corporation and the interest on it received by the churchwardens and overseers of Holy Trinity parish who were to distribute it among twelve poor widows living in or near West Orchard. The legacy was paid in 1706 and it was ordered that £2 10s. interest a year should be allowed on it. This payment was regularly received and distributed in the 19th century.
THE UNITED CHARITY. In 1906, because of the difficulty already experienced in the parish in finding recipients for parish and municipal bread charities, application was made for the establishment of a Scheme. This in its final form directed that part of Baron's Charity and Cockesonne's, Elkington's, Godfrey's, Jesson's, Piggin's, Yardley's, and Younge's charities should be administered by the churchwardens under the title of the Holy Trinity United Charities. Apart from Godfrey's Charity, which was to be spenton clothing for a poor boy living in the parish, the incomes of the rest were to be applied to the benefit of the parish poor (with preference in the case of Baron's Charity for residents of New Street and West Orchard and in the case of Younge's Charity for residents in West Orchard) in the form of clothes, fuel, tools, medical aid and other necessaries, or temporary financial relief. The total income of £31 12s. was being duly received and applied in 1964.
Parish Charities: St. Michael's and St. John's
BREAD CHARITIES. Downes's Charity. John Downes, by will dated 1709, left a rent-charge of £1 in trust to provide twenty dozen of bread, of which ten dozen were to be annually distributed by the churchwardens and overseers in Broadgate and Spon Street wards.
EDWARDS'S CHARITY. William Edwards (d. 1789) (fn. 53) left £300 in trust to be invested and the interest spent on a weekly distribution of bread in the parish not exceeding 5s. 6d. cost. Of the interest on a further sum of £100 the churchwardens were to pay £2 10s. to the ringer of the 'six o'clock' and 'nine o'clock' bells and the residue for the ringing of a yearly peal to the testator's memory. While the capital was invested in a mortgage, 5s. a week was distributed in bread. In 1833 the endowment of the charity was represented by £453 5s. 2d. stock yielding £13 12s. In 1853 the ringers were paid £3 10s. and the residue was spent on bread. By 1889 the holding of stock had been allocated in the proportions of ¼ (£113 6s. 4d.) to the ringing charity and ¾ (£339 18s. 10d., yielding a little over £9) to the bread charity.
EGLINGTON'S CHARITY. Elizabeth Eglington, by will dated 1822, left £290 in trust to be invested and of the interest, reckoned at £14 10s., sums of £2 10s. and £11 4s. respectively were to provide loaves for annual distribution among the parish poor and weekly distribution among nine poor widows, with 6s. to the sexton for distributing the bread. (fn. 54) In 1833 sums of £2 a year and 3s. 6d. a week were spent on bread. The excess of expenditure over an income of £10 13s. derived from £305 14s. 10d. stock had been lately made up from the balance of Skeers's Charity. In 1853 an income of £9 18s. 8d. was received. By 1889 it had sunk to about £8 7s.
SKEERS'S CHARITY. John Skeers, mason, in 1753 conveyed property in Mill Lane (later Cox Street) in trust that the vicar and churchwardens should receive the rents, then amounting to £6 3s., and from them, reserving 10s. as 'wages', spend 1s. weekly on bread and the residue on a yearly distribution in the parish. In 1833 rents of £9 were received from which 1s. 6d. was paid for a weekly and £2 for an annual distribution of loaves. The surplus rents (the 10s. was not retained) were to be 'disposed of in future'. In 1853 the outgoings on the property had exceeded the rents in that year which then amounted to something over £10; in 1889 they stood at £10 15s. 4d. The whole of the charity property, currently let at over £33, was sold in 1904 for £350 and the proceeds invested in £396 10s. stock.
YARDLEY'S CHARITY. Mrs. Ann Yardley of London, by will dated 1826, made identical bequests of £100 to St. John's and St. Michael's parishes in trust that the income should be spent on an annual distribution of bread. In 1833 the stock yielded £3 10s. which in St. Michael's parish was spent as directed. In St. John's parish the dividends received up to the end of 1832 were absorbed in the cost of getting the legacy paid and in the erection in the parish church of a tablet which recorded the benefaction. The income had fallen to £3 5s. by 1853, £3 by 1875, £2 15s. by 1889, and £2 10s. by 1905.
All these bread charities, which were included in 1893 among the parish Consolidated Charities, were vested in the parish authorities. Those of Humphrey Burton (1683), James Harwell (1630), Thomas Jesson (1636), and Simon Norton (1641) were administered before 1835 by the corporation and subsequently by the trustees of the General Municipal Charities, q.v. The total income of £25 6s. regularly received on account of them formed part of St. Michael's Church Estate until the early 20th century and later of the revenues of the cathedral chapter. A Scheme of 1961 allowed that this income might be used to supply articles in kind or in grants of money.
A distribution of bread to the cost of £1 15s. 6d. made in 1833 on St. Thomas's Day was referred by the Brougham Commissioners to a benefaction by John Cockesonne. Nothing more is known of this and payment from it appears to have lapsed in the course of the 19th century.
OTHER CHARITIES. Collins's Charity. Samuel Collins, the younger, by will proved 1721, left property in Gosford Street and Mill Lane to the churchwardens and overseers in trust to be occupied by poor parishioners and further property in Gosford Street the rents from which were to be spent on clothing thirteen poor widows of the parish. By 1833 no part of the property was let to the poor. The rents, amounting to about £41, were spent on gowns at a cost of 5s. to 5s. 6d. each which were distributed by the churchwardens, including the churchwarden of St. John's parish. A net income of about £36 was received from the property in 1853 and was said to have been applied to the 'habitation of poor persons' and clothing for widows. The total income had increased to £78 in 1875 and was then devoted to clothing. By 1893 the income had declined again to £57. Between 1911 and 1916 the entire charity property was sold for a total of £1,775 which was invested in £2,100 stock.
COOK'S GIFT. William Cook or Coke, by his will dated 1523, directed his feoffees to pay to the churchwardens the yearly profits from Syrcock's Tavern, next to the Guildhall, in trust to keep his obit (fn. 55) and distribute 3s. 4d. yearly among the poor and bedridden. At the end of ten years his feoffees were to grant all his property in Coventry to the corporation out of which 10s. yearly was to be given to the poor by the city wardens. A rent of 6s. 1d. from the 'Syrktawerne at le Galehale' was included in the grant to the corporation of former guild and chantry property in 1552 (fn. 56) but apparently no distribution was ever made from it. By 1833 the tavern had been pulled down and the site added to the churchyard. The proceeds from the sale of materials had been spent on the cleaning and enclosure of the ground.
EDWARDS'S CHARITY. Samuel Edwards, by will proved 1729, left a house in Smithford Street in trust that the yearly income from it should be distributed among the honest poor inhabitants of the street with preference to widows and widowers. In 1833 the income from the charity property amounted to £11 10s. 6d. In 1853 the net income of £16 12s. was distributed among 62 residents in Smithford Street in sums of 5s. to 10s. The property was sold in 1874 for £500 and the proceeds invested in stock yielding £13 9s. 4d. which in 1909 was applied in small gifts of money (5s. or 10s.) and coal in Smithford Street ward with preference for widows and people with large families.
Almost the whole of the Smithford Street area which benefited by Edwards's Charity was destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War. Since the area was not scheduled for redevelopment as a residential quarter, it was agreed in 1954 that the accumulated income of the charity (about £197) should be donated to the newly-restored Ford's Hospital and future income applied in annual grants for the benefit of the almspeople under the management of the trustees of the Church Municipal Charities.
LEA'S CHARITY. Richard Lea, by will dated 1668, bequeathed part of a rent to be paid yearly to a poor widow living either 'between the gate and Mr. Jesson's house' or in Little Park Street. This charity was recorded on a tablet placed in St. Michael's Church in 1715. According to the returns of 1786 a yearly sum of 6s. 8d. was produced but no receipts were entered in the churchwardens' accounts and apparently no benefit was received from it in the parish. In 1854 the charity was said to be obsolete.
WRIGHT'S CHARITY. See p. 411.
THE CONSOLIDATED CHARITY. By the late 1880s the churchwardens were spending about £32 10s. a year on weekly and annual distributions of bread but had constant difficulty in finding a sufficient number of recipients. Similarly a yearly expenditure of about £14 10s. out of the income of Collins's clothing charity, which then amounted to between £54 and £57, fully satisfied the demand in the parish for clothes. In 1889, therefore, the parish authorities and the trustees of the Church Municipal Charities formally petitioned the Charity Commissioners that smaller sums should be spent on bread and gowns and the residue on general poor relief. In 1891–2 the income of the bread and gown charities was in fact distributed among inter alia the parish clothing club, the district nursing and visiting associations, and the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital. A Scheme of 1893 directed that Collins's, Downes's, (William) Edwards's, Eglington's, Skeers's, and Yardley's charities should be administered under the title of the Consolidated Charities by eleven trustees representing as far as possible the whole area of benefit, and that the total income should be applied throughout the whole ancient parish of St. Michael's in the form of (i) donations to a hospital or convalescent home, any establishment for training the handicapped, or a provident club or society in or near Coventry; (ii) contributions to the provision of nurses, medical aid, and certified midwives, to patients' travelling expenses under (i), or to the cost of equipping anyone to enter a trade while under 21; and (iii) the supply of necessaries, such as clothes, boots, linen, bedding, fuel, tools, or food, at a cost of not more than £30 in any of the first five years after the Scheme should have taken effect and not more than £20 in any succeeding year.
In the early 20th century the income of the Consolidated Charities amounted to approximately £110 from which £30 was spent in grants to clothing clubs, £33 12s. in grants to hospitals, nursing associations, and similar institutions, £11 9s. on distributions of bread, and £8 on gowns for poor women. In 1924 the endowment of Chambers's Charity for the Poor, (fn. 57) yielding an income of £11, was added to the Consolidated Charities. From 1946 onwards about £93 was received on account of the other six charities. Expenditure over the same period consisted of annual grants, averaging four guineas each, made to about a dozen charitable organizations, chiefly those providing infant or medical care, and the poor funds of several parishes.
Nonconformist Charities (fn. 58)
COVENTRY FREE CHURCH HOME FOR THE AGED. A declaration of trust, dated 1950, stated that the income from the investment of a sum of £945, that had been collected from various sources, was to be devoted to the building and equipping of almshouses and the payment of weekly allowances to the occupants. These were to be poor nonconformists who had lived for at least ten years within ten miles of Broadgate, and the almshouses were to be managed by a body of governors representing fourteen nonconformist congregations in Coventry. The charity's assets were increased by a donation of nearly £1,000 and a bequest of about £4,500, and in 1955 a house (St. Andrew's House) was bought as an almshouse in St. Andrew's Road, Earlsdon.
By will and codicil proved 1959 T. W. Picken left a bungalow at Balsall Common to the charity (to be renamed Grace Picken House and occupied by a retired minister or elderly couple) with a legacy of £2,300 for its maintenance and his entire residuary estate for the charity's general purposes. In 1962 the charity income, derived from donations and about £14,000 stock, amounted to £4,500.
THE GREAT-MEETING HOUSE. Elizabeth Muston, by will proved 1723, left property in Gosford Street (subject to the life-interest in it of her mother) in trust that out of the rents £1 a year should be paid to the minister of the Great Meeting-House and the remainder in weekly amounts to a poor widow or spinster member of the meeting.
Mrs. Mary Muston, by will proved 1731, directed that the rents of the Gosford Street property should be distributed in sums of 2s. a week to widows or spinsters aged 50 and over. The establishment of the charity (apart from the payment to the minister which was made from the time of Mrs. Muston's death) was delayed until about 1740 by the clearing of legacies secured by Mrs. Muston's will. From 1763 onwards the property, which was later known as Muston's Court, was let at £9 yearly out of which in 1833 £1 was paid to the minister as directed and £5 4s. in weekly payments. On the expiry of the current lease in 1846 the property was repaired and relet to weekly tenants at rents amounting to about £48 a year. £22 was spent in pensions in 1853. In 1871 Muston's Court was sold for £231. This sum was invested, together with accumulations of rent amounting to £376, in £622 stock yielding £16 a year. The payment of pensions, which had lapsed after the death of the single recipient of 4s. weekly in 1869, was then resumed. In 1897 two poor women members of the meeting were receiving weekly pensions of 4s. and 3s. respectively and the number of beneficiaries was restricted to two thenceforward. The charity was regulated by a Scheme of 1899 at which date the endowment was represented by £652 stock yielding about £18. The income had fallen to £16 6s. by 1909.
QUEEN'S ROAD BAPTIST CHAPEL. A conveyance, in 1766, of two messuages and gardens in Cow Lane secured that the interest on £30 should be spent, as directed by the will of Lydia Quinborough, on bibles for the poor of the city and that, subject to this payment, the income from the property should be for the benefit of the minister of the Baptist congregation then assembling in Jordan Well. A similar conveyance, in 1820, of a messuage and garden in Cow Lane secured payments under the will of Peter Seager, the elder, dated 1807, of £1 yearly to ten poor members of the congregation (which had been since 1793 meeting in a chapel built on the site conveyed in 1766), and 10s. to the trustees of the chapel's school. A payment of 30s. yearly was to be divided among five poor members of the same congregation under the will, dated 1807, of William Peart (d. 1811). (fn. 59) The residue of the rents was to be devoted to the benefit of the congregation generally. Quinborough's, Seager's, and Peart's charities were still being distributed in 1891 but between that date and 1908 the payment of 10s. secured by Seager's will had been discontinued. A Determination Order of 1908 directed that it should be resumed under the name of Seager's Educational Foundation. In 1884 the congregation had moved from the Cow Lane chapel to a newly-built one in Queen's Road. By 1932 all the trust property held by the chapel in Cow Lane, which had continued to be used for Sunday-school and other purposes, was to be sold and the proceeds, together with a sum of £100 bequeathed by the will (proved 1915) of Benjamin Baddeley, were to provide additional buildings in Queen's Road. By Scheme £240 stock was to be retained and apportioned equally among the three charities and the fund for the upkeep of the chapel burial grounds in Cow Lane. In 1933 it was determined that of the £60 stock representing the endowment of Seager's Charity £20 was to be appropriated to the Educational Foundation.
WARWICK ROAD CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL. Miss E. Goode Ward, by will proved 1937, left her house in Westminster Road in trust that any profit from it should benefit one or two elderly women members of the chapel. The charity was to be called the Ward, Goode, Saunders Trust. The house was sold in 1940 for £484 net to which the chapel added the amount necessary to bring the total to £500 which was invested. The capital was increased by a bequest of £50 under the will (proved 1957) of Miss Ward's niece, Miss E. M. Ward.
WELL STREET CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL. Thomas Bayes, by will proved 1923, left his residuary personal estate in trust to be converted and invested. From the income £30 a year was reserved for the Well Street Sunday schools and other chapel purposes, and the residue was to be disposed of in yearly grants to the sick and poor of Well Street, or, failing these, to the sick and poor throughout the city. Sick and poor members of the congregation also benefited by two bequests of £100 each under the wills of Richard Bradshaw (proved 1865) (fn. 60) and Elizabeth Perkins (proved 1901), and by a gift of £50 made by Henry Rainbow in 1899.
After the destruction of Well Street Chapel during the Second World War, and the opening of Holyhead Road Congregational Chapel in 1953 to replace it, a Scheme of 1954 placed all the charities of Well Street chapel, with the exception of Bayes's Charity, under the administration of the minister and deacons of the new chapel. At that date the endowment of Bayes's Charity was represented by £5,915 stock yielding about £179, and those of Bradshaw's, Perkins's, and Rainbow's charities by the major part of £290 stock yielding £10. The incomes of the eleemosynary charities were to be distributed with preference to former members of Well Street chapel. In 1962-3 a distribution of £183 to the poor and sick was made out of Bayes's Charity and of £9 18s. to poor members out of the other chapel charities.
WEST ORCHARD CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL. Mrs. Mary Hilton, by will proved 1913, bequeathed £400 for the benefit of 'deserving or necessitous' members of the congregation or of the children of deceased members. Mrs. Hilton made a similar bequest to the Salem Baptist Chapel, Longford.