A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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This small parish lies on the western border of Worcestershire, and forms part of the largest and most westerly of those portions of the county which project like promontories into Herefordshire. The hamlet of Hampton Charles, which is the southern portion of the parish, extends into and forms part of the Herefordshire hundred of Broxash. The parish has an area of 2,755 acres, in addition to 481 acres in Hampton Charles. Bockleton contains 588 acres of arable land, 1,828 acres of permanent grass, and 144 acres of woods and plantations, while Hampton Charles contains 90 acres of arable land, 379 acres of permanent grass and 12 acres of woodland. (fn. 1) The soil is clay with a substratum of Old Red Sandstone. The population is employed in agriculture and in rearing Herefordshire cattle. The principal crops are corn and fruit; hops were largely grown at one time, but there are now only four hop yards remaining. A stone quarry, in which human bones have been found from time to time, lies south of Bockleton Court, and there are other quarries south of Birchley Farm. To the south of Pinkey's Common in Hampton Charles there are two old quarries.
The parish lies high, with a gently undulating surface, and there is a gradual slope from Hampton Charles in the south-east, where the land is nearly 800 ft. above the ordnance datum, to the north, where it is about 400 ft. The parish is watered by Cadmore Brook, flowing northwards, and by Cheaton or Cheriton Brook. (fn. 2) The southern boundary is formed by Downington or Dunhampton Brook.
The church stands at cross roads 5 miles south of Tenbury, with Bockleton Court Farm close by it on the west. A little further west is Bockleton Grove, which, though it has been much reduced in size, is still a landmark for miles round. The thatched school-house was built in 1814 and is the largest in the district. To the south-east of the church is a halftimber cottage of the late 16th or early 17th century, with an original central brick chimney terminating in two square shafts with angle enrichments on each side. Bockleton Court, built in 1867–70, is the residence of Mr. F. E. Prescott; to the south of it are two fish-ponds, Swingley Pool and Dogkennel Pool. Bockleton Court Farm, formerly occupied by the Baldwyns, is an early 17th-century two-storied house of stone and half-timber, built on an H-shaped plan and roofed with tiles. The central apartment on the ground floor has a ceiling of very heavy beams. In a bedroom above it is a fireplace with a mid17th-century carved overmantel in two panels, flanked by demi-figures supporting a carved frieze and dentil cornice; on the wall on either side is some contemporary panelling. The south-west room on the first floor is completely panelled in oak of the early 17th century, and has a carved frieze and moulded cornice; the original oak door also remains. The ceiling is of intersecting moulded beams inclosing plastered compartments with moulded edges. The Hill Farm, a mile and a half north of the church, to the west of the road to Tenbury, formerly the home of the Barnebys, is a brick house of two stories and an attic, with tiled roofs. The building dates from the latter part of the 16th century, and although the original internal arrangements remain substantially intact, the external walls have been considerably altered and repaired at subsequent periods. The plan is roughly rectangular, with its greatest length from north to south. There is a slight projection on the east front and a modern wing at the back. The principal entrance on the south, which retains the original oak door, admits to a long hall with a wide fireplace and moulded ceiling beams; the hall communicates with the parlour on the north, and the staircase and kitchen on the west. A small apartment has been partitioned off from the west end of the parlour, but the very fine ceiling, which is of richly moulded oak beams forming rectangular compartments, is continued throughout. The original oak staircase opening off the hall on the west is a particularly fine example of the square well hole type, and has heavy newels, moulded handrails, and turned balusters. The newels are partly square and partly turned and have acorn-shaped finials. In the northern part of the parish, about a mile and a half north-east of the church, is the house called 'The Folly,' an embattled building bearing the following inscription: 'Built in the year of Peace with France after the Downfall of the Tyrant Bonaparte, 1814.'
The hamlet of Hampton Charles, a mile south of the village, forms a long strip projecting at the southeastern end of the parish, running south between the Herefordshire parishes of Thornbury and Hatfield.
Ancient place-names are Grafton, found in early undated deeds, (fn. 3) the Saline, Weston and Quinton (fn. 4) (xiii cent.); Shepherd's Meese in Weston, Walcrofts Meese in Newtown, Upper and Nether Norsuch, the New Findinge in Cleaton Field, Shepcote Meadow (fn. 5) (xvii cent.); Little Bagnall (fn. 6) (xviii cent.).
At the date of the Domesday Survey the Bishop of Hereford held BOCKLETON of the king. Turchil had held it in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and had the right of choosing his lord. (fn. 7) The overlordship remained with the successive Bishops of Hereford, the manor being held of their manor of Bromyard until 1638 (fn. 8) or later. In 1292 it was returned as annexed to Ledbury (Lidebury cum Bocklintone). (fn. 9)
Members of the family of Bockleton appear as tenants of Bockleton within a century of the Survey. Richard de Bockleton presented to the church 1174–86. (fn. 10) He seems to have been succeeded before the end of the 12th century by Robert de Bockleton, who was holding the manor in 1220. (fn. 11) He was apparently followed between 1241 and 1249 by Richard de Bockleton, (fn. 12) who was dead at the later date, his heir being then in the custody of the Bishop of Hereford. (fn. 13) This heir was probably Robert, son of Richard de Bockleton, who by an undated deed granted a virgate of land formerly held by William Kelsey, in Bockleton, to Master Giles de Avenbury, Canon of Hereford. (fn. 14) Robert may have been succeeded by a brother John, for John, son of Richard de Bockleton, dealt with land in Bockleton in 1275. (fn. 15) He was possibly the John, lord of Bockleton, who paid 16s. to the subsidy about 1280. (fn. 16) Margery, lady of Bockleton, who contributed half a mark at the same date, was probably the widow of a former owner, and identical with Margery de Foxcote, who complained in 1313 that Philip de Bockleton and others felled her trees at Bockleton. (fn. 17) This Philip was probably son of John de Bockleton, and in 1316 a coroner was elected in his place, as he was disqualified on account of constant absence from the county. (fn. 18) John de Bockleton, apparently son of Philip, paid 5s. to the subsidy of 1327, (fn. 19) and it was probably he who in 1346 was returned as holding half a fee in Bockleton which had formerly belonged to John his grandfather. (fn. 20)
Philip, son of this John de Bockleton, (fn. 21) died seised of the manor of Bockleton in 1420, his heir being his sister Catherine, wife of John Fawkes of Hereford. (fn. 22) Her son Nicholas Fawkes died leaving as his heirs three daughters, Catherine, Elizabeth and Anne. (fn. 23) Elizabeth married Thomas Meye, Anne married Sir Roger Acton, and Catherine was represented in 1509 by her son Robert Aunesham (fn. 24) or Agmondesham. The manor was apparently divided between these co-heirs, and Robert Aunesham's share must have passed to his daughter and heir Margaret, who married Thomas Hackluit, and had a son John Hackluit, (fn. 25) for this John died seised of a third of the manor in 1534, when his son George succeeded. (fn. 26) George probably sold this part to the Actons, who also seem to have acquired the Meyes' share, for Bockleton was not among the estates held by George at his death in 1537. (fn. 27)
Sir Roger Acton and Anne were succeeded by their son Edward, (fn. 28) who was followed by a son Roger. (fn. 29) Thomas, son of this Roger, on the marriage of his son Nicholas with Dorothy daughter of Francis Walshe in 1589, settled the site of the manor on himself and his wife Anne, with remainder to Nicholas and Dorothy. (fn. 30) Thomas died in 1593 (fn. 31) and Anne in 1603, when Nicholas succeeded. (fn. 32)
The manor passed from him in 1638 to his son Thomas, (fn. 33) who seems to have been followed before 1648 by his son Nicholas, who then settled the manor on himself and Ellen daughter of George Creamer of Seeche, co. Norfolk, whom he was about to marry. (fn. 34) It is not clear whether this marriage took place, for on the death of Nicholas without male issue in 1664 (fn. 35) the manor passed to his only daughter Elizabeth by his wife Mary daughter of Nicholas Skrymshire of Aqualate in Staffordshire. (fn. 36) Elizabeth married Charles Baldwyn of Elsich in Diddlebury, co. Salop, Chancellor of the diocese of Hereford, thus bringing the manor into the Baldwyn family. (fn. 37) Charles Baldwyn died in 1706, (fn. 38) and was succeeded by his son Charles. (fn. 39) Charles Baldwyn, son of the latter, (fn. 40) married Catherine daughter of William Lacon Childe of Kinlet, (fn. 41) and in 1777 obtained an Act of Parliament to enable him to sell his entailed estates. (fn. 42) Bockleton was purchased in 1779 by Thomas Elton. (fn. 43) Thomas was still in possession in 1789, (fn. 44) and devised the manor between 1824 and 1827 to his nephew, the Rev. Thomas Elton Miller. (fn. 45) In the spring of 1866 the manor was sold by the trustees of the Rev. John Joseph Miller to Mrs. Prescott, widow of William George Prescott, banker, (fn. 46) of Roehampton. Arabella, the only surviving child and heir of Mrs. Prescott, married Richard Decie, R.E., who assumed the name PrescottDecie by royal licence on 22 December 1866. (fn. 47) Mrs. Prescott-Decie died in 1902, and the manor now belongs to her son Francis Edward, who assumed the name Prescott in lieu of Prescott-Decie in 1904. (fn. 48)
Of the history of the manor of HAMPTON CHARLES (Hompton, xiii cent.) little is known. In 1282 Richard de Welles died at Anglesey in the king's service, holding land in Hampton of John lady of the manor of Tedstone Delamere, leaving a son and heir Richard. (fn. 49) The manor is next mentioned in 1596, when Thomas Barrow and his wife Ursula conveyed it to Richard Barneby. (fn. 50) It remained with the Barnebys until 1685, when Mary Barneby conveyed it to John Tomkyns. (fn. 51) The manor was conveyed in 1743 by Richard Clutton to John Woodhouse, (fn. 52) and in 1806–7 John Freeman and his wife Mary conveyed it to Philip Barneby. (fn. 53) It was afterwards purchased by William G. Prescott's trustees and settled upon Mrs. Prescott-Decie. (fn. 54) All manorial rights have now lapsed, but the Manor Farm belongs to Mr. F. E. Prescott, lord, of Bockleton. (fn. 55)
Hill Farm, in the north-west of Bockleton, probably marks the site of an estate known from the 16th century as the manor of HULL or HILL. Various members of a family of de la Hull occur in early deeds relating to Bockleton, but it is doubtful whether they ever held a manor here. Nash states that John de la Hull of Bockleton was sub-sheriff in 1267, (fn. 56) and Habington says that an estate at Bockleton, held in the time of Edward I by William de la Hull, descended to his son Ralph, (fn. 57) who paid a subsidy at Bockleton about 1280, (fn. 58) and was in turn succeeded, probably before 1293, (fn. 59) by another William. (fn. 60) John de la Hull settled the manor in 1318–19 (fn. 61) on himself and his wife Margery and their children. He seems to have been the last of the line and appears for the last time in 1361. (fn. 62) Hull was held in 1392–3 by John Somner, (fn. 63) but had passed before 1424–5 to Thomas Whitgreve. (fn. 64) Thomas Whitgreve, receiver of the earldom of March, died in 1465, (fn. 65) leaving as his heir his daughter Isabel. She married Thomas Barneby of Ludlow (co. Salop), treasurer to Edward IV, who was killed at the battle of Towton. Their son William afterwards held Hull, and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 66) John's son Thomas married Joyce daughter and co-heir of Walter Acton of Acton in Ombersley, and Hull followed the descent of the Barnebys' moiety of the manor of Acton (fn. 67) until the latter was sold by John Barneby in 1649. John retained the manor of Hull. He was forced to compound in 1630–2 for not taking the order of knighthood at the coronation of Charles I. (fn. 68) On 10 December 1635 he gave the lower seat next adjoining the pulpit in the church of Bockleton to the use of the parson for ever to read in, a cushion and cloth for the pulpit, and a kneeling for the clerk in the above named seat 'in the end next the allee.' (fn. 69) He was succeeded in 1639–40 (fn. 70) by his son John, afterwards of Canon Pyon (co. Hereford), who was knighted between 1684 and 1690 (fn. 71) and died in 1701, when his son Nicholetts succeeded. (fn. 72) Nicholetts died, apparently without issue, in 1707, and his brother John died unmarried in 1710. (fn. 73) The manor had passed before 1752 to Charles Baldwyn, lord of Bockleton, (fn. 74) with which manor it has since descended. (fn. 75) The manor of Hull still exists, but there are no emoluments from it.
The Birches (Burches, xv cent.) at Hampton Charles takes its name from the de la Burches family who held land here in the 15th century. (fn. 76) This estate passed in 1465 to co-heirs, the daughters of Walter de la Burches, Alice wife of William Payne, and Isabel wife of William Cock. (fn. 77) Other landowners at Bockleton in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries were the Marshals. (fn. 78)
A water-mill was probably appurtenant to the manor of Bockleton in 1638, (fn. 79) and followed its descent until the 18th century. (fn. 80) There is now a mill on Cadmore Brook, on the northern boundary of the parish, called Birchley Mill.
The church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a chancel 34 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 8 in., north chapel 27 ft. 4 in. by 17 ft. 10 in., nave 44 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft., and west tower 11 ft. 10 in. by 11 ft. 6 in. All these dimensions are internal.
The church is built of rubble, plastered internally, and roofed with stone slabs. The nave dates from about 1160, and probably had at that time a small chancel, which was replaced by the present one about the middle of the 13th century. The north chapel probably dates from about 1560, though all the original details have disappeared; the tower was added during the latter part of the 16th century or early in the succeeding century. The fabric has been very thoroughly restored and has lost much of its mediaeval character internally.
The chancel has a modern five-light east window, and on the north a modern arcade of two pointed arches Opening to the north chapel. To the west of the arcade is a 16th-century tomb recess containing a perfectly plain flat tomb, and having a segmental head with a large roll moulding, possibly a part of the original chancel arch. At the back are three small blank shields. In the south wall are two 13th-century windows of twotrefoiled lights, renewed internally; between them is a contemporary doorway, now blocked, with a twocentred head. The piscina and sedilia are modern. There are pairs of original buttresses, each of a single offset, at the north-east and south-east corners. The doorway and windows of the north or Barneby chapel are modern. There is no chancel arch, the chancel being divided from the nave by a modern oak screen.
The nave is a good example of developed Norman work, but the restoration has impartion a distinctly modern character to the interior, where all the dressings of the windows and doorways have been renewed. The easternmost window in the north wall, which is of three trefoiled lights, and the twin lancet window opposite to it on the south, are of the 13th century. To the west of these in each wall are two original round-headed windows with a doorway between them. These doorways are elaborate and well-preserved examples of their period; both project beyond the outer face of the walls, and have semicircular heads with wall arcades above them. The north doorway is of two orders, the arch having two large rolls between cable mouldings, with an outer band of embattled and lozenge enrichment, while the jambs have detached shafts with scalloped capitals, chamfered abaci, and moulded bases. The spandrels at the head are marked with radiating lines proceeding from small circular flowers at the foot, and have a vertical billet moulding on each side. The arcade of five arches above stands upon an enriched string-course and has detached shafts with scalloped capitals and moulded bases; the arches which they support are enriched by billet and other ornament and their outer mouldings intersect. The capitals of the two central columns and those of the respond shafts have carved heads. The south doorway, which is blocked, is of a single order, the arch having a large roll between cable mouldings with an outer band of two billeted hollows, while the jambs have single detached shafts with scalloped capitals and moulded bases. The arcade above is similar to that of the north doorway, except that there are four arches instead of five. At the level of the enriched strings above the doorways, both north and south walls have chamfered and quirked string-courses, which are stopped on each side of the windows and buttresses; on the north the string is discontinued to the west of the doorway. There is a pilaster buttress at the south-east, one at the north-east partly incorporated in the chapel wall, and one on each side between the doorways and the east end, all probably original, the central one on the north having its lower part reinforced with modern stonework. The buttresses at the west end were probably refaced in the 16th century, the plinth and first string-course of the tower being continued around them.
The tower is of three diminishing stages divided by moulded strings, and has a moulded and battered plinth and an embattled parapet. The pointed tower arch is two-centred and of two orders, with plain chamfered abaci. There is a doorway of later date with a segmental head in the north wall, and on the west is an original wide two-light window, much decayed, with plain tracery under a drop arch. Above is a circular light with key stones at the crown, foot and sides. In each wall of the bellchamber are twin pointed lights. The chancel and nave have trussed rafter roofs; the western part of the chancel roof and the trussed roof over the chapel are probably original.
Both the font and pulpit are modern. In the central light of the window at the north-east of the nave is a fragment of mediaeval glass which probably represents the Virgin and Child; the contour of the lead lines is the only indication of the subject, as the drawing is obliterated.
Against the north wall of the chapel is a rectangular tomb with recumbent effigies of Richard Barneby, who died in 1597, and Mary his wife, who died in 1574. The man is in the plate armour of the period, with his feet resting upon a lion; the lady wears puffed sleeves and a rich fur cloak, and her feet rest on an eagle. Both lie upon a mattress and have their hands joined in the attitude of prayer. On the exposed sides of the tomb are shields divided by demi-figures in high relief. The shields on the west end are Barneby impaling Whitgreve and Barneby quartering Whitgreve. On the south side are three shields. That to the west is charged with Barneby and of Hull, the great-grandmare, for William Barneby of Hull, the great-grandfather of Richard; in the middle is Barneby quartering Whitgreve and Acton impaling Habington with five quarterings, for Richard and his wife Mary, daughter and heir of Richard Habington of Brockhampton; the eastern shield has Barneby and Whitgreve impaling Martyn, for John Barneby of Hull, Richard's grandfather. On the east side are two shields, Barneby and Whitgreve impaling Acton, for Thomas Barneby of Hull, the father of Richard, and Joyce his wife, daughter and co-heir of Walter Acton of Acton; and Barneby and Whitgreve impaling Habington with eight quarterings. Behind the tomb, on the wall, is the legend, with the figures of five sons on one side and of four daughters on the other. This is flanked by shaped pilasters on demi-figures, and above is a broken pediment with a shield of arms, Barneby quartering Whitgreve and Acton. On the west wall of the chapel is a large marble monument with an inscription in Lation to Charles Baldwyn, Chancellor of the diocese of Hereford, son of Samuel Baldwyn, knight and serjeant-at-law to Charles II, who married Elizabeth, only daughter of Nicholas Acton of Bockleton, and died 4 January 1706. Below the inscription are two cherubs supporting a shield from which the charges have been washed off.
The tower contains three bells; the treble (by John Greene of Worcester) inscribed 'Pauci templa petunt nobis reticentibus ergo 1627,' and on the lip 'E. Bebbe. W. Hoult. Wa:'; the second 'Soli gloria Deo pax hominibus John Amys Thomas Browns. 1667,' with the mark of John Martin of Worcester; and the tenor (by Henry Clibury of Wellington, Salop) 'Richard English. Thomas Addams. C.W. 1675.'
The communion plate consists of two silver patens of 1719 inscribed 'The gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Baldwyn to the church of Bockleton 1720'; a cup with cover of 18th-century character, the date marks of which are illegible, inscribed 'For the use of the parish of Bockleton in the county of Worcester and Hereford'; and a flagon of 1727 inscribed 'The gift of Charles Baldwyn esq 1727 for the use of the parish of Bockleton in the county of Worcester & Hereford.' Both this and the cup, which is probably of the same period, are incised with the sacred monogram within a halo, and the Passion nails.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) and (ii) bound in the same volume, all entries 1574 to 1651; (iii) 1653 to 1684; (iv) 1684 to 1719; (v) all entries 1720 to 1754, baptisms and burials to 1772; (vi) baptisms and burials 1772 to 1789; (vii) baptisms and burials 1789 to 1812; (viii) marriages 1754 to 1812.
The advowson is first mentioned in the episcopate of Robert, Bishop of Hereford (1174–86), when it belonged to Richard de Bockleton, then lord of the manor. (fn. 81) It descended with the manor until the 13th century. In 1220 Robert de Bockleton granted to Hugh, Bishop of Hereford, 100s. annually from the church, the bishop to have the power of bestowing the same on the parson of the church admitted on the presentation of the said Robert after the death of Bartholomew de Bockleton, parson at that time. (fn. 82) Bishop Hugh assigned 5 marks of this rent in 1232 to certain chaplains of the chapel of St. Catherine, Hereford, for his obit, 2 marks to the chapter of Hereford, and half a mark to the poor clerks of the choir of Hereford. (fn. 83) Peter d' Aigueblanche, who succeeded as Bishop of Hereford in 1240, forbade the chaplains to receive this pension, asserting that it was imposed against the Statute of the Lateran Council (fn. 84); the arbitrators appointed to settle this and other differences between the bishop and his chapter removed the prohibition in 1252. (fn. 85) Soon after the grant by Robert de Bockleton the living seems to have been made a vicarage, for Bishop Hugh Folliott (1219–34) instituted John Folliott on the presentation of Robert de Bockleton, reserving the vicarage to Bartholomew the vicar, who was to pay John the parson I mark of silver. On Bartholomew's death John had the right to convert the church to his own uses, but was to undertake to pay the annuity of 100s. The right of presentation was reserved by this agreement to the Bockletons. (fn. 86) On the death of John Folliott, who was a canon of Hereford, in 1261 the bishop appropriated the church of Bockleton to the office of Treasurer, still reserving the rent of 100s. to the chaplains of St. Catherine, and assigning a further annuity of 2 marks to the vice-treasurer of the cathedral for providing masses for the souls of the bishop and Giles de Avenbury. (fn. 87) Giles de Avenbury was at that time treasurer, and had purchased the advowson of the church shortly before from Robert de Bockleton. (fn. 88) In 1261, with the consent of the bishop and convent, he bestowed the patronage of Bockleton on the treasurers of Hereford Cathedral in perpetuity. (fn. 89) Both rectory and advowson remained with the treasurers of Hereford (fn. 90) until the Commonwealth, when the trustees under the Act for Abolishing Deans and Chapters confiscated the treasurer's property and sold the parsonage of Bockleton to Mary and Elizabeth Borneman in 1652. (fn. 91) The property included the parsonage-house, containing three bays of building, with a barn, brew-house, and land. This property, with a certain parcel of tithes, had been leased by the late treasurer in 1622 to John Barneby for three lives. (fn. 92) The Parliamentary Survey of 1655 states that Mr. Timothy Harris, curate, was paid £10 per annum by John Barneby. It gives the value of the tithes as about £50 per annum, and describes the church as very spacious. (fn. 93) The advowson returned to the treasurer of Hereford Cathedral at the Restoration. In 1735 the Rev. William Lane, then treasurer of Hereford Cathedral, conveyed the advowson to Charles Baldwyn, then lord of the manor, in consideration of £200 to be given in augmentation of the curacy. (fn. 94) The grant was confirmed by the bishop, and approved by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty 3 November 1735. The advowson has since been held with the manor.
The rectory remained in the possession of the treasurers, who occasionally leased it to landowners in the parish. (fn. 95)
The living became a vicarage under the Act of 1868. (fn. 96)
Certain lands in the parish which were thought to have been bequeathed for the maintenance of a light in the church were forfeited at the dissolution of the chantries and granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1564 to William Green and Anthony Forster. (fn. 97) The grantees sold the property in 1564 to Bartholomew Brokesby and John Walker of London, who on 16 September 1565 sold it to Roger Maunsell of Pedmore. He in turn on 16 April 1566 sold it to Anthony Hardwicke of New Inn, gent. Anthony in 1566 brought an action against Roger Cherye and John Mason for taking to their own use the profits of the messuage and land, described as the Church House or Clerke's House, and closes called Skilts Crofte, the Church Grounds, Parishe Grounde, or Clerke's Ground, and against Roger Acton and Hugh Chippe for detaining the deed of sale to Roger Maunsell. The defendants, who had been acting for the parishioners of Bockleton, proved that the land, which had been forfeited as bestowed for the maintenance of a lamp in the church, had instead been employed time out of mind for the necessary repairs of the church, and therefore that the queen had no right in it. It further appeared that the house in question had been built upon the waste ground of the manor of Bockleton at the petition of the inhabitants, as a dwelling-house for the parish clerk of Bockleton, there being no other for him in the parish, and an order and decree were made accordingly. (fn. 98)
In 1783 Henry Morris by will charged his estate with £5 a year to be distributed annually to the poor, or for their use, on Christmas Day. The legacy is represented by £166 13s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, now producing £4 3s. 4d. yearly. The income is distributed among the poor, each person receiving 2s. 6d.