Memorial CXX: Almshouses of Boones' Foundation (1686)

Pages 377-389

Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London. Originally published by Harrison, London, 1875.

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1. These (as the name indicates) were founded by Christopher Boone, and Mary his wife, at the close of the 17th century. From the recitals of the trust deed, dated 22nd June 1683, it appears that on land then recently purchased (of Mary Countess of Feversham) and adjacent to other land owned by him, Boone had erected at his own cost four dwellings (with various rooms) intended by him as Almshouses "for one school mistress to teach poor children to read and work, and six poor antient almspeople" (of either sex). Further, that "being minded of his charitable disposition to provide as well for the health of the said almspeople's souls as to make provision for the sustenance of their bodies," he had erected a chapel for the worship of Almighty God, and had made provision for a Chaplain to read or say prayers therein, and a Clerk to attend him in the service.

2. As the Administrators of this Charity after his own and his wife's death he selected the Merchant Tailors' Company, and conveyed these tenements and lands, situated at Lee (together with a fee farm rent of 40l. from the City of Hereford), to the Company, upon trust, to apply the rents and profits to the purposes of his charity.

3. The yearly incomes of the various recipients were to be:— To the Chaplain, 10l.; to the Clerk, 2l.; to the Schoolmistress, 7l., with 2l. for coals; and to the Almspeople 1s. a week for bread, and 10s. a year for firing, with 20s. every two years for a gown at Christmas.

4. The other purposes to which the rents were to be applied were books for the chapel, and needles and other like necessaries for the use of the poor children to be taught by the said schoolmistress (computed by the founder to cost 40s. a year): the residue of the rents (which he computed at 11l. 1s. 3d.), he directed the Company to accumulate as a stock or bank to defray repairs and the casualties of management.

5. The Company were to take upon them the governance and charge of the Chapel and Almshouses, and of governing, placing, and displacing the Chaplain, Clerk, Schoolmistress, Almspeople, and poor children, and of managing the whole charitable design according to "the rules, orders, and ordinances" set out in the deed; for which end they were to go on the 1st Thursday in July to the said Almshouses and inspect the same.

6. If the rents fell below the charge, then a rateable deduction was to be made for all the payments; but if they increased to any considerable sum the Master and Wardens would then augment the allowances to the Almspeople and Schoolmistress, and also to the Chaplain and Clerk, as they in their discretions and charitable dispositions should see fit.

7. The Company, by the deed already mentioned, and for 100l. received from Boone, agreed to accept the trusts, and once in every year to visit the Almshouses for the redress of all abuses, neglects, grievances, and misdemeanors. The interest of the 100l. was to be expended in payments of 10s. to the Clerk and 5s. to the Beadle attending them at such visitation, and in such suitable entertainment for themselves and relief of the poor almspeople as they should see fit.


"Touching the Chaplain.

1. (fn. 1) "The place or office of chaplain to the chappel shall always be conferred upon the Rector of the Parish of Leigh, at Lee, in the County of Kent, for the time being, if he will accept and perform the service thereof; and in case of his refusal to accept thereof or removal for neglecting the service thereof or other illbehaviour, the same shall be conferred on the Vicar or Minister for the time being of the Parish Church of Lewisham, in the same County; and in case of his refusal or removal as aforesaid, the same shall be conferred on some other person as the Master and Wardens of the Company of Merchant Taylors shall think fit, so as he be a Priest in Holy Orders duly ordained according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England. The said Chaplain shall read the Church prayers to the poor Almspeople and poor children every Monday and Saturday in the year (viz.), on Monday, about 12 o'clock at noon, and on Saturdays between 4 and 5 o'clock from Michaelmas till Ladyday, and from Lady-day to Michaelmas between 6 and 7 o'clock in the afternoon, upon forfeiture of 2s. for every omission, to be deducted out of the stipend of 10l. per annum, unless there shall be on the same Days publick prayer in the Parish Church of Lee aforesaid, and unless in case of sickness or other good cause, to be allowed by the said Master and Wardens, which forfeiture shall be paid to the Collector for the poor of the said Parish of Lee or of the said Parish of Lewisham, as the said Master and Wardens shall think fit for the use of the poor of their respective parishes not placed in the said almshouses.

2. "And if the said Chaplain shall neglect to read the said prayers in the said Chappel upon the days aforesaid above two times in any one year, unless in case of sickness or other good cause to be allowed as aforesaid, he shall be removed out of his said place or office and another placed therein.

"Touching the Clerk.

3. "The Clerk of the Parish Church of Lee aforesaid for the time being, if he will accept of it, or otherwise the Clerk of the said Parish of Lewisham for the time being, if he will accept of it, shall always be the Clerk of the said Chappel.

4. "And if neither of them will accept of it, then such other person shall be appointed by the said Master and Wardens to be Clerk of the said Chappel as they shall think fit.

5. "The said Clerk of the Chappel shall ring the Bell near a Quarter of an hour before the appointed time for prayer, shall always attend the said Chaplain at prayers, and shall sweep the said Chappel every Saturday, and in default thereof forfeit fourpence, toties quoties, to be deducted out of the stipend or salary of 40s. per annum, which forfeit shall be paid to the said Schoolmistress that she may take care to have the said Chappel swept and kept clean in the negligences of the said Clerk.

"Touching the School Mistress.

6. "She shall be some grave, sober, motherly, and matronlike widow, or, if a maid, then not under the age of 50 years, to be chosen out of the said Parish of Lee, or out of the neighbouring Parish of Greenwich, if any such Person can be found there that will accept of the imployment, and if not, then as the said Master and Wardens shall think fit. She shall have the first House next the Chappel eastward; she shall freely teach 12 poor children of the said parish of Lee, such as shall be presented her by the Rector and Churchwardens of the said Parish to read English. She shall teach them the Church Catechism, with the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed, and Ten Commandments, and cause them to get the same by heart.

7. "And moreover she shall teach the Girls or Females to sow and make plain work in Linnen, to Knit and Mark Linnen, that they may the sooner be fit for service.

8. "She shall have liberty to teach other Scholars besides the said Free Scholars, and be paid for her teaching of them as she and their Parents or Friends can agree. She shall also have liberty to take a Maid Servant into her house, or a Daughter that will serve her instead of a Maid, but she shall not take both a Daughter and a Maid, too much less shall any Son of hers live with her in the said House.

9. "Nevertheless, if any Schoolmistress who hath demeaned herself well in the place, and diligently instructed the children as long as she was able, shall happen to be disabled by age or sickness, in such case the said Master and Wardens shall allow her an Assistant, who, besides such Maid or Daughter as aforesaid, shall be permitted to live with her in the said house. And the said Master and Wardens shall allow unto such Assistant such stipend or pension out of the Stock of this Charity, as they in their discretion shall think fit, and as the Stock then in their hands shall be more or less.

"Touching the Poor Children.

10. "They shall be only of the said Parish of Lee, not above two out of the same family at the same time, not above 5 boys, who shall not be admitted into the said school till they are 6 years old, nor continue there longer than till they have attained their age of 11 years. Nor above 7 girls, who shall not be admitted till the age of 6, nor continue longer in the said School than their age of 12 years. Nevertheless, if there be any poor labouring people of the said parish who have young children they know not well how to dispose of while they go abroad to work, three or four such young children, so as they be at least four years old, may be permitted to come into the said School and sit amongst the rest to keep them as they say out of harm's way.

"Touching the Almspeople.

11. "They shall be 6 in Number, Men or Women, two in an House but not a Man and Woman in the same House, unless they be Man and Wife, which the said Master and Wardens, if they shall think fit, may take into any of the said Almshouses. None shall be admitted into any of the said Almshouses under the age of seven-and-fifty years.

12. "They shall be of the poorest and needyest people, first of the Parish of Lee, who have lived orderly and have supported themselves by their honest labor in their younger days; and if there be not enough such found in the Parish of Leigh then of the said Parish of Lewisham, if not there then of the said Parish of Greenwich.

13. "Upon every Vacancy the said Master and Wardens shall, in the first place, give Notice thereof to the Minister and Churchwardens of the Parish of Lee, to present a proper person to fill up the vacancy, and, in default of their presenting the like notice to the Minister and Church Wardens of Lewisham, and in default of their presenting within two weeks after such Notice, the said Master and Wardens shall give like Notice to the Minister and Churchwardens or Overseers of the said Parish of Greenwich. That parish which shall present any poor Man or Woman to the benefit of the said Almshouses shall by two or more of the substantial parishioners give Bond to the Master and Wardens, in the penalty of 20l., to sustain and relieve the person presented in time of sickness or other healthless condition, when their weekly and annual allowance will be not sufficient to support them, and also to see them decently buried at their charge, toward which charge such parish shall have all goods and chattels which shall belong to the Deceased person at his or her Death; and that if any person by them presented shall aftewards appear to them the said Master and Wardens to have been an unfit person to be admitted into the said Almshouses at his or her admission, or shall deserve in the judgement of the said Master and Wardens to be removed and expulsed out of the said Almshouses, that then such person upon two Months' warning to be given by the said Master and Wardens, or any of them, or any person appointed by them, shall avoid out of and from the said Almshouses, and peaceably yield and deliver up the possession thereof unto the said Master and Wardens, or to such as they shall appoint, and that the parish shall provide for them.

14. "The said Almspeople shall be such as can say by heart the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed, and the Ten Commandments, or shall be bound to learn so to do within two months after their admission into the said Almshouses, or else they shall be expelled thence.

15. "The said Almspeople shall every Lord's day come to the Parish Church of Lee, to hear Divine Service and the Word of God preached forenoon and afternoon, and also to the prayers in the Chappel, Mondays and Saturdays, at the Hours appointed, and for every default shall forfeit four pence to the said School Mistress, who is to have an eye on them herein unless in case of sickness or other good cause to be allowed of by the said Master and Wardens.

16. "The wilful and obstinate neglectors of Divine Service, either in the said Parish Church or in the said Chappel, shall be finally expulsed out of the said Almshouses. The said Almspeople shall not entertain in their respective Houses any Child or other Inmate to lodge there, nor shall themselves lie out of their Houses above two or three times in a year without good cause, to be allowed of by the said Master and Wardens, upon pain of expulsion. They shall keep their Houses clean swept and wholesome, carefully preserve the walls, boards, timbers, glass windows, and all that belongs to their respective apartments.

17. "They shall live quietly, peaceably, and in good Charity one with another, and behave themselves Orderly one towards another, as becomes good Christians; and if any of them shall quarrel, scold, rail, swear, or otherwise misbehave him or herself, he or she so offending shall forfeit four pence to the School Mistress for every such offence, and if the same offence shall be committed above three times then such offender shall be expelled out of the said Almshouses.

18. "The said Almspeople shall not plant any Trees against any of the walls of the said Almshouses or Chappel.

19. "None shall be admitted into the said Almshouses that hath any noysome or incurable Disease.

20. "Every of the said Almspeople, as also the said School Mistress, shall take all special care to prevent Fire in the said Almshouses."

New Scheme of 1868.

9. The increase of London turned the Lee estate into building land, and the Company granted long leases for this purpose; the income increased to 657l. per annum in 1862, and the necessity of an enlarged scheme became apparent to the Court. Application was therefore made to the Charity Commissioners, and, pending the consideration of the question, the surplus rents were accumulated, and when the Scheme (dated the 27th November 1868), was sanctioned by the Commissioners amounted to 4,749l. 11s. 4d. Consols.

"Scheme for the Regulation and Management of the above-mentioned Charity (1868).

"1. The Charity and the Funds and Endowments thereof shall be managed and administered by the Master and Wardens of the Merchant Taylors' Company of the City of London, as the Trustees thereof, in conformity with the provisions of this Scheme.

"2. The Trustees, with the sanction of the Board of Charity Commissioners for England and Wales, shall be at liberty to rebuild the Almshouses and Chapel belonging to the Charity upon sites and in accordance with plans and estimates to be approved by the said Commissioners, and to apply the sum at their disposal arising from the accumulations of income of the Charity (so far as the same will extend) towards the cost of such new buildings, and to provide the remainder of such cost by means of a Loan or Loans to be raised and borrowed by the Trustees, either upon the security of the Charity Estate or a competent part thereof, or in such other manner as the said Commissioners shall sanction or approve.

"In the reconstruction of the Chapel, accommodation shall be provided primarily for the Almspeople and the Officers and other persons belonging or attached to the Charity, and subject thereto for the Lessees or Tenants of the Charity Estate, and other persons resident in the locality, to whom the privilege of attending the services in the Chapel may be conceded by the Trustees upon such terms and conditions, and subject to such reasonable regulations as they shall from time to time think fitting and expedient.

"The Pew Rents (if any) to be reserved by the Trustees in exercise of the foregoing authority for sittings in the said Chapel shall be applicable towards the maintenance of the Chapel and its services and the payment of the Salaries of the Chaplain and Clerk, and subject thereto to the general purposes of the Charity. One-half, at least, however, of the Pews and Sittings in the Chapel shall be free.

"3. The clear amount of the annual income of the Charity, after the payment thereout of the cost of repairing and insuring the Almshouse buildings and Chapel and all other necessary and proper outgoings and expenses of management and Receiver's Commission for collecting the rents, shall be applied by the Trustees, first in the payment of the annual interest of the principal sum or sums (if any) that may for the time being be due and owing in respect of any such Loan or Loans as aforesaid and in the establishment of a Sinking Fund for the repayment of such Loan or Loans within the period of Twenty Years from the date of their respective contraction, and subject thereto, to the several purposes hereinafter mentioned.

"The Almshouses.

"4. There shall in future be Twelve Almspeople belonging to the Charity, who shall respectively be Single Persons of either sex, of good character, being of the age of Fifty-seven Years at the least, who shall have resided in one of the Parishes of Lee, Lewisham, or Greenwich for not less than Five Years next preceding the time of election, and who shall not during that period have been in receipt of Parochial Relief, with a preference for those persons qualified as aforesaid who, from misfortune or accident, shall have fallen from better circumstances into indigence—provided that Candidates from the Parish of Lee, having the qualifications aforesaid, shall in every case be entitled to be elected in preference to Candidates from either of the Parishes of Lewisham or Greenwich, and Candidates from the said Parish of Lewisham in preference to those from Greenwich.

"A Married Couple, having each of them the qualifications aforesaid, may, in special cases, be appointed in lieu of and with the same stipend and emoluments as a single Almsperson, and the survivor of any such couple may continue to hold his or her appointment in the same manner as a Single Almsperson after the death or removal of the other of them.

"5. The Trustees may appoint one of the Almspeople to be the Superintendent. It shall be the duty of the Superintendent (subject to such regulatious as may be prescribed by the Trustees) to assist the Trustees and the Chaplain in maintaining order and discipline amongst the Almspeople, and to report to the Chaplain for the information of the Trustees any breach of rule or other occurrence calling for their notice or intervention. The Superintendent shall be removable from his distinctive office at any time by the Trustees at their discretion.

"6. There shall be paid out of the income of the Charity to each of the Almspeople a weekly stipend or sum of Ten shillings and to the Superintendent a further weekly sum of Four Shillings, in addition to his stipend as an Almsperson.

"7. The Almspeople shall he nominated and appointed in manner hereinafter mentioned. There shall be a body of 'Nominators' who shall consist of the Rector and Churchwardens of the Parish of Lee, and the respective Incumbents and Churchwardens of the Districts of Chirst Church and Holy Trinity in the same Parish and their respective successors for the time being, and of Seven other Persons resident in one of the said Parishes of Lee, Lewisham, or Greenwich, who shall be elected by the Vestry of the said Parish of Lee as soon as conveniently may be after the establishment of this Scheme, and whose election shall be forthwith notified to the said Trustees by the Vestry Clerk of the same Parish. Upon the death, resignation, or removal from residence in one of the aforesaid Parishes of any elective Nominator, a fresh election of a Nominator shall be made by the said Vestry in a similar manner. The power of appointing the elective Nominators shall lapse to and be exercisable by the Trustees if the election by the Vestry shall not have been fully made and notified to the Trustees as aforesaid, as to the first election within the period of Three calendar Months next after the establishment of this Scheme; and as to any subsequent election, within the like period next after the occurrence of the vacancy. In the event of any further division of the said Parish of Lee, the body of Nominators may be increased by the addition of any Official or other Persons as may be directed by the Order of the Charity Commissioners upon the application of the Trustees.

"8. A written notification of the occurrence of every vacancy in the Almshouses shall be forthwith given by the Trustees or their Clerk to the Vestry Clerk of the Parish of Lee, who shall thereupon convene a meeting of the Nominators, stating in the notices convening the meeting the particulars of the existing vacancy or vacancies, and such Nominators, or a quorum of them consisting of not less than nine present at such meeting shall, by a resolution adopted by a majority at least of them, proceed to elect and nominate to the Trustees for appointment some duly qualified Person or Persons to fill such vacancy or vacancies respectively, and the Person or Persons so elected and nominated shall be appointed accordingly by the Trustees. In the event of the number of votes of the Nominators upon an election being equal, the Chairman (to be elected by those present at such meeting to preside thereat) shall have a double or casting vote.

"If and so often as the Nominators shall neglect or omit to elect and nominate to the Trustees a duly qualified Candidate for appointment to the Almshouses as aforesaid within the period of Three calendar Months next after the transmission of the notice of the vacancy to the Vestry Clerk of the said Parish, the Trustees shall be at liberty to appoint some duly qualified Person to fill such vacancy without any further communication with the Nominators.

"9. The Trustees shall be at liberty to appoint a Medical Officer to attend upon the Almspeople and to supply them with Medicines and such Medical appliances as may be necessary at a yearly salary not exceeding Twenty Pounds, such salary to include the cost of such medicines and appliances. A special payment may, however, be made by the Trustees to the Medical Officer, in addition to his fixed annual salary, as a remuneration to him for his attendance and services in any case requiring extraordinary care and treatment.

"10. No Almsperson shall be absent from the Almshouse for a period exceeding twenty-four hours without the consent in writing of the Chaplain; but in special cases such consent may, for any sufficient reason, be given retrospectively after the absence has occurred.

"11. If any Almsperson shall be guilty of insobriety, insubordination, breach of rules, or immoral or unbecoming conduct, or shall become disqualified from retaining his or her appointment, or if in any case it should appear that any Almsperson has been appointed without having the required qualifications, the Trustees (upon proof thereof to their satisfaction) may remove such Almspeople and take possession of the tenement or room occupied by him or her, and may proceed to appoint another Almsperson in his or her place, or in any such case (except that of disqualification) the Trustees may, if they so think fit, suspend the payment of the stipend to the Almsperson, either wholly or in part, during such time as they shall think fit and expedient.

"12. No Almsperson shall be permitted to let or part with the possession of the room or rooms allotted to him or her, or to suffer any strangers (except in cases, to be allowed by the Trustees, of sickness or infirmity) to occupy the same or any part thereof.

"13. The Almspeople, unless prevented by sickness or other reasonable cause, shall attend Divine Service in the Chapel once, at least, on every Sunday and on every Good Friday and Christmas Day.

"The Chaplain.

"14. There shall be a Chaplain for the purposes of the Charity, who shall be appointed by the Trustees, and shall be a Clergyman of the Church of England in Priest's Orders.

"15. The Rector for the time being of the Parish of Lee, if resident therein and willing to accept the office of Chaplain, shall be preferred by the Trustees in making any appointment to the office, unless the vacancy shall have been occasioned by the removal of such Rector from the Chaplaincy or his resignation of that office.

"16. The Trustees shall pay to the Chaplain out of the income of the Charity a yearly salary or stipend of not less than Seventy-five Pounds and not more than One Hundred Pounds as they shall from time to time determine.

"17. The Chaplain shall be required to perform, either in person or by his Licensed Curate or Substitute, appointed as hereinafter mentioned, one full service, at the least, in the Chapel attached to the Almshouses on every Sunday throughout the year, at Eleven o'clock in the Forenoon, or such other hour as shall be from time to time prescribed by the Trustees, having regard to the convenience of the Almspeople and other Persons attending such service. The Trustees may, if they so think fit, require that the Chaplain shall provide for the performance of two full Services in the said Chapel on each Sunday, and they may, in that case, make such an additional payment to him out of the income of the Charity (if sufficient for that purpose) as shall make up his full yearly stipend to any sum not exceeding One Hundred and Fifty Pounds.

"18. The Chaplain shall visit and administer spiritual consolation to the Almspeople, and shall have the immediate superintendence and control over them, subject to the superior authority and direction of the Trustees. The Chaplain shall also once, at least, in each year make a Report to the Trustees upon the state and condition of the Almshouse branch of the Charity, mentioning in such Report any special circumstances which shall, in his judgment, call for attention on the part of the Trustees.

"19. The Chaplain may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Trustees, for incapacity, or refusal or omission to perform the duties of such office, or for any other sufficient cause, to be determined by the Trustees. During the temporary legal absence of the Chaplain, the duties of the office may be performed by a duly qualified substitute, to be appointed by him, subject to the approval of the Trustees.

"20. The Trustees may pay out of the income of the Charity, a yearly sum, not exceeding Fifteen pounds for the salary of the Clerk of the said Chapel, who shall be appointed by the said Trustees upon the recommendation of the Chaplain, and who, in consideration of such salary, shall attend the services in the Chapel, and perform all the duties of Clerk, Pew Opener, and Sexton thereof, as shall be directed by the Chaplain, and shall also keep in order the Garden and ground attached to the Almshouses and Chapel, and the Tomb or Vault of the Founder of the said Charity in the Churchyard of the Parish of Lee.

"The Trustees shall also apply a further yearly sum not exceeding Twenty-five pounds, in lighting and warming the said Chapel, and providing and maintaining the requisite furniture, books, and utensils, and for the other expenses incidental to the due performance of Divine Service in the same Chapel.

"21. The Trustees may from time to time prescribe such reasonable regulations as they may consider expedient for the government of the almshouses, and the Inmates, Officers, and attendants thereof, provided that no such rules shall be inconsistent with the provisions of this Scheme.

"The Education Fund.

"22. Out of the clear yearly income of the Charity which shall remain after providing for, and satisfying the several payments and purposes aforesaid, the Trustees shall reserve and set apart a yearly sum of One Hundred and Twenty pounds, or such other less sum as the said residuary income shall be sufficient to provide, and shall invest the same in the purchase of Three pounds per cent. Consolidated Annuities, the dividends whereof shall be accumulated and invested in like manner for the formation of a fund to be called 'The Education Fund,' which shall be applicable to Educational purposes, for the benefit of the Parish of Lee, and the adjoining Parishes or Districts, according to a further Scheme to be hereafter established by the Order of the Charity Commissioners, upon the application of the Trustees.

"23. The residue (if any) of the yearly income of the Charity shall be reserved and invested by the Trustees in like manner as a residuary fund, which shall be applicable in furtherance of the objects of the Foundation, according to the provisions of a similar Scheme to be established in like manner by the Order of the Commissioners.

"24. If any doubt or question shall arise amongst the Trustees or any of them as to the construction or proper application of any of the provisions of the Scheme or the management of the Charity, application shall be made by them to the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales for their opinion and advice which, when given, shall be conclusive on all persons interested and claiming under the Charity.

"Sealed by Order of the Board this Twenty-seventh day of November, One thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty Eight.

"Geo. Hy. Gauntlett, "Chief Clerk."

(In the absence of the Secretary.)

10. Under this Scheme a new site at Lee was purchased and conveyed to the Company, at a cost of 2,250l., by deed dated 31st day of July 1872, and with the sanction of the Commissioners the Company entered into a contract, dated 14th April 1873, for the erection of 12 separate tenements, at a cost of 3,740l., for the reception of Almspeople to be elected under the Scheme.


  • 1. I have numbered these for convenience of reference.