Draft report on Boone's Charity

Pages 395-398

City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 4. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.

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In pursuance of a minute of the Board of the 28th day of March 1862, I have inquired into the present state and administration of Boone's Charity in the parish of Lee, in the county of Kent, under the management of the Merchant Taylors' Company, in the City of London, more particularly with reference to the proposed reorganisation of the said Charity.

Boone's Charity.

The Merchant Taylors' Company having applied to the Board for its sanction to a scheme proposed by the Company for the administration of this Charity, owing to the increase of its income from 74l. 1s. per annum to 662l. 1s. In pursuance of the directions of the Board I have inquired into the state of the Charity, more particularly with reference to its proposed reorganisation.

By the deed of foundation of the 22 June 1683, the founders, Christopher Boone and Mary his wife, after conveying the almshouses and chapel to trustees, proceed also, for the maintenance thereof, to convey unto the same trustees and their heirs the Berry Hill estate at Lee, in Kent, in the occupation of Henry Griffiths, at a rent of 15l. a year, and a fee farm rent payable by the city of Hereford of 42l. a year.

The income thus dedicated to charitable uses was 57l. a year at the time of the foundation.

The founders directed its application as follows:—

£ s. d. £ s. d.
To the chaplain for his pains in the service of the chapel 10 0 0
To the clerk of the chapel 2 0 0
12 0 0
To a schoolmistress to teach poor children to read and work 7 0 0
For wood and coals for the school 2 0 0
Additional materials for school 1 0 0
10 0 0
For six almspeople, 12d. a week each 15 12 0
20s. a piece every two years for gowns, and 10s. a year a piece for fuel 6 0 0
Additional books 1 0 0
22 12 0
£44 12 0

For a Common Prayer Book for the chapel, Bibles and Testaments for the almspeople, scissors, knitting needles, thread, silk, samplers, and like necessaries for the children in the school computed at 40s. a year.

In respect of this I have added 1l. to the school and 1l. to the poor fund.

And the founders say that the residue, which Christopher Boone computes at 11l. 13s. a year, should be a stock or bank to defray the charge of repairs and other casualties and incidental charges in the premises and in the management. And in the deed it is—

Provided Alwayes and itt is neverthelesse agreed by and between the said partyes to these presants and the true intent and meaneing of every of them and of these presents is and is hereby declared to be that if the rents yssues and profitts of the premisses or any part thereof shall happen by any casualty to bee soe impaired diminished or lost without the wilfull default of the said Master Wardens and Company their successors or assignes as that the same shall not extend and suffice to pay allow and satisfy the severall allowances sallaryes and payments herein before appointed to be allowed and paid out of the same in such case itt shall and may be lawfull to and for the said Master Wardens of the said Company their Successors and Assignes to make ratable and proportionable deductions and defalcations out of the same allowances salleryes and payments aforesaid. Provided Alsoe that if the Rents Yssues and Profitts of the premisses shall hereafter happen to encrease or be any way improved or if the said overplus herein before mentioned shall happen to amount to a considerable sume soe that some part thereof may be spared to augment the weekely allowances for the said Almes People and yett sufficient Stock remaineing as may in all likelyhood answer all such repaires casualtyes and incident charges as aforesaid in such case it shall and may bee lawfull to and for the said Master Wardens of the said Company their Successors and Assignes to augment the said allowances for the said Almes people and Schoole Mistresse and alsoe for the said Chaplaine and Clerke as they in theire directions and charitable dispositions shall think fitt.

The foundation deed thus disposes of 56l. 5s. of the 57l. a year, the parties having probably calculated that a small deduction in the receipt of the money would be inevitable.

Taking, however, the entire sum of 57l. to be substantially dealt with, it appears that 12/57ths of the income are devoted to the purpose of sustaining divine worship perpetually, 10/57ths to educational purposes, –23/57ths to eleemosynary purposes, and 12/57ths to casual expenses and repairs.

In computing the proportionate parts of the present income according to the foregoing ratio, it will be sufficiently accurate for the present purpose to reckon the 57th part to amount to 12l. It amounts to about 11l. 12s. in fact.

Taking the even sum of 12l. the distribution would be:—

For divine worship 144
Educational purposes 120
Eleemosynary purposes 276
Casual expenses and repairs, 144l., or to make the total accurate, say 122

The Merchant Taylors' Company, after communication with the parochial authorities, have proposed to the Board to appropriate—

For Divine Worship:—
The chaplain 50
The clerk (to officiate also as gardener) 12
For educational purposes:—
A subscription to the National school £25
For eleemosynary purposes:—
Twelve almspeople at 30l. a year and 10l. additional to one as superintendent 370
A medical attendant with a salary of 30
An annual sum to be set apart for repairs and insurance say £400

They thus propose to appropriate definitely the sum of 487l. a year out of the income, and to establish a sinking fund of 150l., to reimburse the expense of rebuilding the almshouses, making together 637l. a year.

It may, I think, be assumed that the sum proposed to be paid to the chaplain and clerk will satisfy that portion of the bequest, the spiritual duties being, in fact, limited to the chapel of the almshouses, and that the duty may therefore, without inconvenience, be performed by the vicar or his curates, and in which event it will be a material aid in the provision for a curate. Withdrawing, therefore, that part of the aliquot apportionment, or assuming that it is satisfied by 5/12ths of the present income, the residue or 82l., being divided between the educational and eleemosynary pur poses will add about 25l. to the former and 57l. to the latter, which would respectively stand thus—

Educational endowment 145l.
Eleemosynary " 333l.

The Merchant Taylors' Company and the parish authorities had considered that having regard to the educational institutions already existing, and the support they receive from another Charity (called Hatcliffe's Charity), and from voluntary contributions, the demand for instruction was fully supplied, and that beyond the subscription proposed to be given to the National School of 25l., the educational branch of the endowment might be disregarded, and the development of the institution confined to its eleemosynary part.

The vestry clerk of Lee, at my request, has been good enough to forward to me such statistical facts as he could gather with respect to the present provision for education in the parish, and the number that avail themselves of it. The account he gives me is as follows:—

National School.

Boys, 93; girls, 86.

Funds supplied by voluntary subscriptions amounting to about 165l. 6s., and school pence about 48l. 19s. 6d.

Infants' School (Church of England).

Average attendance, 160.

Voluntary subscriptions and children's pence, and a grant of 20l. a year from the funds of "Hatcliffe's Charity."

British School for Boys.

Average attendance, 75.

Voluntary subscriptions and children's pence.

British School for Girls.

Average attendance, 80.

All expenses defrayed by private subscriptions.

Adult Evening School (in connexion with "Hatcliffe's Charity").

Average attendance, 25.

Supported by funds of the above charity.

Adult Evening School (in connexion with British School for Boys).

Average attendance, 15.

Supported by voluntary contributions.

Sunday Schools of all Denominations.

Industrial Work.

Needlework taught at the National School, and also at the British School for Girls.

I have also to lay before the Board the following minute of proceedings in the parish which have taken place since my inquiry.

At a Vestry Meeting held at the National School, Church Street, Lee, Kent, on Saturday, the 10th May 1862,—


Mr. De Zoete, in the Chair,

Mr. Kebbel, Mr. Carr, Mr. Dale, Mr. Hart, Mr. S. Shove, Mr. Gates, Mr. W. Shove, Capt. Gossett, Mr. Couchman, Mr. Wright, Rev. W. F. Sims, Rev. J. B. Honnywill, Mr. Prowse.

The following notice of meeting was read:—

Lee, Kent 5th May, 1862.

Take notice that a meeting of the Vestry elected for this parish under the Metropolis Local Management Act, 18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, will be holden at the National School, Church Street, on Saturday, the 10th day of May instant, at nine o'clock in the forenoon precisely, for the following purpose, viz.:—

"To take into further consideration Mr. Hare's suggestions on the subject of the proposed Scheme re Boone's Charity."

(Signed) F. Wickings Smith,
Vestry Clerk.

The minutes of the meeting of the 2nd May instant were referred to and read.

The Vestry again took into consideration and discussed some suggestions for instituting an establishment of an industrial character.

Moved by Mr. Zoete,

Seconded by Mr. Carr,

That the Vestry, having given most careful consideration to the suggestion of Mr. Hare, particularly with a view to the teaching of plain cooking, washing, housework, &c., are unable to devise any plan which would not involve considerable expense, with but a very limited probability of success, and they are therefore of opinion that, having regard to the proportion of the Charity funds that should be reserved, according to Mr. Hare's opinion, for educational purposes, the sum of 120l. should be placed at the disposal of the managers of the national school for the time being, to be applied for the general purposes of the school, but with a special view to such industrial objects as may from time to time appear practicable and desirable; but this Vestry desire to express their strong opinion that upon the whole, having reference to the nature of the population and the existing provision for education, it would be more to the advantage of the labouring population, and in accordance with the wishes of the parishioners if the sum in question were devoted to the erection of almshouses as originally proposed.

Whereupon an amendment was moved by Mr. Kebbel, and seconded by Mr. Sims—

That the words "for the general purposes of the school, but" be omitted.

For the amendment 2
Against 11
Majority against the amendment 9

The original motion was then put, when there appeared—

For the motion 11
Against 1
Majority for the motion 10

The Vestry clerk was desired to forward copies of the minutes to the secretary of the Charitable Trust Board and the clerk of the Merchant Taylors' Company.

(Signed) F. Wickings Smith,
Vestry Clerk.

The entire population of the parish was stated to me as 6,056, and it must be admitted that after separating the children of the middle and upper classes, which may be assumed to have other means of education, the number provided for by the public schools would be unusually great compared to the population. It may be added that the situation of much of the parish has made it eligible as residences for an unusual proportion of the wealthier classes compared to that of the poor.

I confess, however, that I feel an extreme reluctance to assent to a departure from the educational character and object of any endowment. Upon a true cy pres application of such a fund it should, I apprehend, be construed, as first, devoted to education in the particular locality; secondly, if education in that locality be not needed, or cannot be given, to education in some other, perhaps neighbouring, locality. But the canon rule is, not to depart from the educational object until, at least, there shall be no more demand for it in the kingdom. This I apprehend to be the principle of the decision of the Court of Chancery and the House of Lords on Betton's Charity. (fn. 1) The testator had devoted a fourth of his estate for the support of schools in London. The dedication of two other fourth parts of his estate failed, and the Court (affirmed by the House of Lords) held that the assistance should be extended to schools in all the dioceses of England. The case was, indeed, stronger, than the present circumstances to which I propose to apply it, for it could not be said that there were not schools in London which still needed assistance, whilst, assuming the parochial authorities of the parish of Lee to correctly represent the condition of the locality, the means of a useful application of the fund for education there are for the present exhausted.

Having regard to the numbers and character of the population and to the existing schools and the support which is and may well be given to them from the voluntary sources which exist here as elsewhere, there does not appear to be any necessity or utility for the subscription of 25l. proposed by the Merchant Taylors' Company to be given to the National School. It was probably introduced for the purpose of showing some ostensible regard to education, rather than from any impression that it was needful. Its only effect would probably be to withdraw an equal amount from the subscriptions, or if not to withdraw it, yet to prevent so much of additional subscriptions if needed hereafter. The same observations may be made, with still more force, with reference to the proposal of the vestry to place 120l. a year at the disposal of the managers of the National School.

The parish of Lee is bounded by or is nearly adjacent to other parishes which are extremely populous, and are inhabited by large numbers of the labouring classes. The very fact that Lee itself contains a smaller proportion of them, has necessarily the effect of increasing the proportionate number in other neighbouring districts. Into the educational necessities of such neighbouring districts I will not now enter, but I am satisfied they will be found very great. I respectfully suggest that in the scheme to be settled for this Charity it may be provided,—

A. That the Merchant Taylors' Company set apart 145l. per annum (or say 12/57 part of the net income of the Charity) for educational purposes to be applied according to a scheme to be hereafter settled for the instruction of boys and girls within the parish of Lee, or such other adjoining or neighbouring parishes as shall be expressed in such scheme.

On the latter part of the foregoing suggestion, the extension of the area, I would add that if there are fewer cases of the application of the principle of Betton's Charity than might be expected, it has probably arisen from the fact that applications to the court in former times have been in most cases made at the instance of particular parishes, and by persons who were not likely to suggest schemes for the extension of the benefit of a Charity beyond their own district, if they could by some other device of cy pres construction avoid it, an evil which the existence of the Charity Commission, having in view the interest of the public at large, is especially fitted to counteract. I cannot conceive anything much more absurd than to suppose that the regard of the founder for the education of the poor was subordinate to his preference for persons living on one side of a parish boundary, to say nothing of the smaller degree of wisdom which such a fanciful sentiment would imply.

With regard to the eleemosynary portion of the Charity, the almshouses and almspeople, it is material to observe that any increase of such institutions (to the prejudice of other and better objects) when once established cannot afterwards be withdrawn without great difficulty. The Merchant Taylors' Company propose an application of 400l. a year to the almspeople. In the proportionate application of the income (after the proposed augmentation for the chapel services) I have estimated the share of the almshouses at about 333l. Now, adopting the suggested increase of the number of the inmates to twelve, and fixing the stipend of each at 25l. per annum, with the proposed addition of 10l. to the superintendent and 30l. for a medical attendant, will require 340l. The magnitude of the increase of pay may be compared with the present allowances, which are 1l. 6s. a quarter, with assistance from the parish. I therefore respectfully propose,—

B.—That the number of almspeople be increased to 12, that one of such almspeople be empowered to act as superintendent; that the superintendent be allowed 35l. per annum and the other almspeople 25l. per annum each, and that a medical attendant be appointed to the almspeople at a yearly salary of 30l.

The method of selecting the almspeople was discussed by the members of the vestry on the occasion of my inquiry, and a modification of the scheme laid before the Board was then generally (with few objections) approved of. The parish of Lee is included in the Plumstead district, in Schedule B, in the Metropolis Local Management Act, and under the second section of that Act (18 & 19 Vict. c. 120) it is governed by a vestry composed of a prescribed number of members, to be regulated from time to time by the number of rated householders in the parish. The present number of vestrymen is 18, and that number may be increased, but cannot (according to the present Act) on the largest augmentation of the population exceed 120. I propose that instead of the entire vestry taking part in the nomination the following rule be adopted:—

C.—The candidates for the almshouses who may be single persons, or men and their wives, none being under 57 years of age, may be of the parishes of Lee, Lewisham, or Greenwich, and shall be nominated by the rector and churchwardens of the parish of Lee, the incumbent and churchwardens of the district of Christchurch, in the said parish, and the two overseers of the said parish, together with four persons to be chosen by the vestry, and in the event of any other ecclesiastical district or districts being formed in the said parish, the incumbent and churchwardens of such district or districts to be added to the said nominating body, together with two other persons to be chosen by the said vestry, for every such additional body of ecclesiastical officers. The vestry of Lee to receive notice by their vestry clerk of every vacancy, and to be allowed a period of one month to convene a meeting, and choose such representatives of the vestry, to nominate the said candidates before the time appointed for the election. If the candidate to fill the vacancy be not elected and presented to the Merchant Taylors' Company within three months from such notice the master and wardens of the Merchant Taylors' Company to be at liberty to appoint the person to fill up every such vacancy.

The provisions with regard to the chapel and divine service appear to be framed or suggested by the Company, in a manner to which little (if any) exception can be taken, namely:—

D. That divine service be performed in the chapel by the chaplain [twice] [once] on every Sunday in addition to the weekly services, and that he be paid in respect of such duties the annual stipend of 50l.; and that the clerk to the chapel (with the additional duty of keeping the garden of the almshouses in good order), be paid a yearly salary of 12l., and a further sum of 1l. 1s. a year, for keeping in good order and condition the vault of the late Christopher Boone in the churchyard of the parish church of Lee.

I have visited and inspected the almshouses, school, and chapel. They are the only buildings erected in the lifetime of the founder, and are accurately described in his foundation deed, as standing upon a certaine peece or parcell of land or wast situate lyeing and being in the parish of Leigh in the county of Kent containing in bredth forty foote of assize be it more or lesse, and in length two hundred and tenn foote of assize be it more or lesse abutting upon the highway there towards the South upon the common passage leading over A small Bridge to the Parish Church of Leigh aforesaid towards the West upon a Ditch and Hedge of a Meadow of the said Christopher Boone called Brickfield towards the North and upon a ditch and pale of another meadow of the said Christopher Boone called The Two Acres towards the East. (fn. 2)

The site, as it now appears with the garden afterwards referred to, seems to me somewhat more extensive. In walking carefully round it, I had concluded it to be about 50 feet deep by 270 in length. The Merchant Taylors' Company hold adjoining land, and may possibly have added something to the original space, or the arrangement may have been altered. The buildings are accurately described in the deed as fower dwelling houses conteineing each of them one lower roome boarded more then a foote above the ground being sixteene foote of assize and eight inches long or thereabouts and fourteene foote of assize and eleven inches broad or thereabouts with a cimney therein and one upper roome or chamber of the same dimensions in length and bredth and alsoe one smaller low roome or sheed with a partition for beere wood coales and the like nesessaryes fifteene foote of assize long and eight foot of assize broad or thereabouts on the north side of each of the said dwelling houses with a litle backyard to each house.

The garden adjoining is, as described in the same deed, which proceeds to recite that the founder hath layed unto the almes houses to be enjoyed in common by the said Schoole Mistrisse and almes people intended partly for a Garden Platt to plant pott herbes therein and partly for a grasse plat for dryeing of cloathes a peice or parcell of the said ground containeing in length from East to West one hundred fifty and eight foote of assize or thereabouts and in breadth from North to South one and forty foot of assize or thereabouts.

The buildings are, as may be expected from their age, very decayed, and require constant expenditure to make them habitable. The three almshouses which are at the west have each one room above the other, with the back room (called above the sheed or shed) now styled the kitchen, but the inhabitants of the upper room must pass through the lower room to go in or out, and for access either to the offices. The fourth house is occupied by the school mistress, who teaches 12 children free, and as many other children as she can procure to attend the school. It is in fact a dame school. Her dwelling room is above, and the chapel bell is over it, and is rung from the schoolroom. Adjoining this is the chapel, which is also very much decayed. There is no question that the whole of these buildings should be pulled down and re-constructed.

I therefore propose—

E. The chapel, almshouses, and school house to be pulled down, and the chapel and almshouses for 12 in mates and common washhouses, baths and other offices to be built on such plan and upon such sites respectively as shall be determined upon by the Merchant Taylors' Company, with the sanction of the Charity Commissioners, and the expense of the said works to be raised by loan, on the security of the charity estate.

I am not aware that any plan for rebuilding the chapel or almshouses has been determined upon by the Company. The present site of the almhouses and garden abutting on the high road would no doubt be very valuable as frontage for shops and places of business, and might probably be sold or exchanged for a much more spacious and convenient site elsewhere. A far greater local improvement however would I think be effected if the proposed almshouses were built on opposite sides of the ground belonging partly to the Charity and partly to the Merchant Taylors' Company, and for which purpose an exchange might, I think, be effected, beneficial both to the almshouses and property of the Company and those of the Charity. If six almshouses were built on each side in parallel lines with the two wings of the Merchant Taylors' almshouses, forming in fact prolongation of those wings, although not necessarily adjoining them, the lawn might be brought down to the road, from which the whole range of buildings would then form a very handsome object. If besides this the new chapel were errected in the centre on an elevation at some distance from the road it would very greatly add to the completeness and beauty of the ground, and being made readily accessible from the Merchant Taylors' Almshouses, would be an important addition and benefit to that institution. The chapel ought to be made to contain comfortable seats appropriated for the aged inmates of both establishments, and I think a certain number of seats might also usefully be provided for strangers, the combination of different classes in public worship being I apprehend far more desirable than chapels confined to a pauper or indeed any other special class of persons. I do not see any objection to the construction of a few additional seats which might be let, under the regulations sanctioned by the Merchant Taylors' Company, and the income so derived being applied either to the repairs and maintenance of the chapel and services, or to the increase of the stipend of the chaplain. If the chapel were approached by an avenue and steps from a principal gate-way opening from the high road, and fronting the centre of the entire group of buildings, (open perhaps to the public for access to the chapel at service time), appropriateness and dignity might be given to the general structure.

The founder of the Charity manifested great care for the preservation of cleanliness and for what would now be called the sanitary condition of his establishment. He recites in his deed, that at one end thereof is erected and sett up a pump with plenty of water, and at the other end a convenient wash house sixteene foot of assize and fower inches square or thereabouts with an oven and some brewng vessells and other utensills therein which are likewise to be enjoyed and used in comon by the said Schoole Mistris and almes people togeather alsoe with two easements or howses of office the one for the almes men and the other for the almes women. And in the schedule of ordinances he provides that the almspeople shall keepe their houses cleane sweete and wholesome carefully preserve the walls boards timber glasse windowes and all that belongs to their respective apartments. They shall suffer noe dirt filth foule water or other noysomnesse to be throwne into the water ditch or streeme on the north side of the said almes houses the offenders herein shall incurr such forfeiture as the said master and wardens shall in their discretion think fitt and in case of wilfull persisting in such offence they shall be expelled. They shall not throw any dirt ashes or other filth into the streete nor keep any such noysom or offensive things within their perticular apartments or within the places they are to injoy in comon there being provided a convenient place for that purpose just without the wall at the west end of the said almes houses with a doore opening thereunto. They shall keepe their houses of office cleane and sweete without throwing any dirt filth or rubbish there into this to be done by weekly turnes. That for the men by the men each his week and that for the woman by the women each her week and they shall give timely notice to the said master and wardens for haveing the said houses of office emptied as need shall require. They shall keepe the whole length of the gutter or water course under the wall on the south side of the said almes houses cleane and every day swept that noe stoppage may happen therein and shall keepe their grasse plott or drying place cleane and greene and their small kitchin garden well planted with pott herbs and sowed from time to time with convenient seeds for that purpose and shall keep it alwayes neat and well weeded and shall keepe their wash house brew house or bake house well swept cleane sweet and wholesome. All which and all other publick places and accommodacons which they are to enjoy in common they shall take care of by weekly turnes both men and women. In remodelling such a foundation I cannot but think that it would be reasonable to improve it with some regard to the present state of sanitary science and economic arrangements. If this might be done there would be an opportunity of adding common washhouses and baths to be used free of expense by the inmates of both the Merchant Taylors' and Boone's almshouses, and perhaps at a small charge by the other inhabitants of Lee. These might be conveniently constructed at the angle of present garden on Boone's Estate.

The foregoing proposals, A, B, C, D, and E, provide for all the objects of the scheme, amended as I have ventured to propose it should be, with the exception of—

F. A competent sum to be annually employed in the insurance of the almshouses and chapel from fire, and so much also as shall be necessary to be applied in current repairs, and the balance of the annual income, after providing for the several objects aforesaid, to be applied as a sinking fund, in reduction and repayment of the loan to be contracted as aforesaid, and the Merchant Taylors' Company and all other parties interested to have liberty to apply from time to time for such additions or modifications of the scheme as may be necessary orexpedient.

All which I submit to the Board.

Tho. Hare,
Inspector of Charities.

2nd July 1862.


  • 1. See a full account of the decision on his case in my report on the Charities of the Ironmonger's Company.
  • 2. Record Office, Close Rolls, 35 Car. II. p. 11, Boone v. Upton.