Cottenham: Charities for the poor

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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'Cottenham: Charities for the poor', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, (London, 1989) pp. 70. British History Online [accessed 22 April 2024]


John Moreton, by deed of 1671, gave half the rental of houses in Holborn (Lond., formerly Mdx.) for poor relief and for apprenticing in Cottenham. (fn. 1) In 1728 £11 a year was spent on apprentices, £20 in 1783. (fn. 2) Two sets of almshouses were later supported, one in Church End built in 1816, (fn. 3) called Moreton's almshouses, the other on Rampton Road and known as Little London. (fn. 4) There were eight almshouses in Church End in 1851. (fn. 5) In the early 1960s they were allowed to fall vacant and were demolished. (fn. 6) The Little London almshouses in 1837 comprised four dwellings. At that time Moreton's charity made cash grants to people not receiving poor relief, and spent money on coal and medical care, on apprenticing, and on coats for the parish watchmen. In 1834 c. £550 was paid towards the new school. (fn. 7) The Little London almshouses were rebuilt in 1853 (fn. 8) in Tudor style as a central block with attached wings, comprising eight cottages. (fn. 9) They were refurbished in the early 1960s and remained in use in 1987. (fn. 10) The charity's income in 1982 was c. £1,675, half from the rents of the almspeople, which was spent on maintaining the property. (fn. 11)

The town lands charity was established in 1664 with an endowment of 5&frac1/2; a. bought by public subscription. (fn. 12) In 1876 the income was usually spent on goods for poor families. (fn. 13) Thomas Maulden, by deed of 1713, gave land and a common right (fn. 14) for which 16 a. were allotted at inclosure in 1847. (fn. 15) One third of the income of Catherine Pepys's charity was for the poor of Cottenham. (fn. 16) Thomas Ridge in 1901 gave four cottages, the rent of which was relieve 12 poor people a year. (fn. 17) The town lands, Maulden's charity, Catherine Pepys's eleemosynary charity, and Ridge's charity were amalgamated in 1970 to form the Cottenham united charity. The total income in 1982 was c. £480, of which £305 was spent on Christmas gift vouchers. (fn. 18)

By will proved 1699, the former rector John Fitzwilliam gave a right of common and land for which 18 a. were allotted at inclosure in 1847; £1 a year was to be paid to a poor widow, a quarter of the other income to each of two poor householders, and the remaining half for church purposes. (fn. 19) In the 1860s the eleemosynary part of the charity helped to support the almshouses, (fn. 20) and in 1983, when the charity's total income was c. £800, it was spent on Christmas parcels. (fn. 21) The charity retained 16 a. in 1987. (fn. 22)

Jane Brigham, by will dated 1705, left a rent charge of £15 for apprenticing two boys each year, and Alice Rogers, by will proved 1728, gave £10 a year for apprenticing two more. The two charities between them paid for only about one apprentice a year c. 1830. In 1837 Brigham's charity, restricted to children of parents not receiving relief, was having difficulty in finding suitable candidates. (fn. 23) In the 20th century the objects of the charities were widened to include exhibitions for study at secondary school level or above, but in 1982 the income of both together was only £51 and nothing was spent except on administration. (fn. 24)

By will proved 1715, James Smith, rector from 1698, left a rent charge of £1 for poor widows attending church on Christmas Day. In the 1970s and 1980s the money was divided among women parishioners who were expected to return it to the collection plate. (fn. 25)

Sarah Ann Wallis, by will proved 1924, gave £600 for the occupants of the almshouses and other poor residents at Christmas. The income from investments in 1975 was £47, which was distributed in gifts; (fn. 26) none of the £122 income in 1986 was spent. (fn. 27)


  • 1. Para. based on 31st Rep. Com. Char. 85 -7.
  • 2. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 31; B 8/1, f. 7v.
  • 3. M.H.L.G. list for inscr. formerly on bldg.
  • 4. P.R.O., RG 11/1659, ff. 38 and v., 47 and v.
  • 5. Ibid. f. 38 and v.; ibid. HO 107/1759/186/1, f. 210.
  • 6. Char. Com. file 200586; inf. from Mr. P. J. Sanderson, clerk to par. council.
  • 7. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 85-7.
  • 8. Inscr. on bldg.
  • 9. e.g. P.R.O., RG 9/1019, ff. 79v.-80.
  • 10. Char. Com. file 200586.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 84-5.
  • 13. Cottenham Chars.: corr. between Trustees and Char. Com. (printed for H.C. 1877), 2 (copy in Cambs. Colln.).
  • 14. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 85.
  • 15. C.R.O., Q/RDc 66.
  • 16. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 82-3; cf. above, educ.
  • 17. Camb. Ind. Press, 5 July 1901.
  • 18. Char. Com. file 200586.
  • 19. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 84; P.R.O., PROB 11/449, ff. 313-15; C.R.O., Q/RDc 66.
  • 20. Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 384-5.
  • 21. Char. Com. file 203613.
  • 22. Inf. from Mr. D. G. Bradley, Cottenham.
  • 23. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 83-4.
  • 24. Char. Com. file 200586.
  • 25. Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 384-5; Char. Com. file 203609; inf. from Mr. Bradley.
  • 26. Char. Com. file 203614.
  • 27. Inf. from Mr. Bradley.