A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Charities for the poor
Gifts reported in 1783, (fn. 1) mostly bequests, included £20 from Sir John Cotton, (fn. 2) £10 each from the rector, Peter Needham (d. 1731), (fn. 3) and Thomas Cotton (d. 1729), (fn. 4) and probably £26 from others, then unknown; all yielded 5 per cent interest, out of which in 1775 £2 10s. had been given in coal and £2 6s. to poor widows. (fn. 5) Those funds were probably absorbed by expenses at inclosure in 1800, and 10s. a year from land, supposedly at St. Ives (Hunts.), given by Dingley Askham's spinster daughter Anne (d. 1784) was also lost. (fn. 6) There remained the town lands, covering 15 a. in 1648, (fn. 7) perhaps including the 7 a. devised by Henry Smith in 1527 to help pay the town's 'headmoney penny', and land worth 2 marks given by Simon Watson (d. 1637) for two poor people. (fn. 8) In 1728, when a town house was let rent free to the poor, the land yielded £4 a year. (fn. 9)
At inclosure 12½ a., let as allotments until after 1900, were allotted for the arable. There were also a 3-rood close west of the churchyard and 2 a. in Fen Stanton. The income, c. £20 in 1837 and 1863, was given in 1837 in fuel in proportion to the size of families. (fn. 10) In 1866 the vestry agreed that men working regularly in Conington, as well as inhabitants, should be eligible as recipients. (fn. 11) About 1880, (fn. 12) when the allotment holders' rents were much in arrears, the squire and rector took control, obtaining authorization in 1882. Distribution in coal, in the 1890s restricted to resident wage-earners, continued until the 1960s. The rent rose from £20 c. 1920 to £50, mostly from letting grazing rights, after 1960 when it was given not only to widows and pensioners but to all families with children. By 1975 qualified recipients could be found for barely a third of c. £300 available yearly.