Milton: 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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'Milton: 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. 191-192. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

Charities for the poor

By 1700 Milton had much town land, whose income was used partly to relieve the poor. In 1521 Rose Cock left the surplus revenues from a house and holt, after supporting an obit, to the churchwardens to pay the king's tax for the poor. (fn. 1) In 1549 the new lord, William Cook, granted to ten feoffees the Town Holt and 5 a. of arable, called by 1630 the town land, as copyhold, to pay for highway repair and poor relief. (fn. 2) In the 17th century gifts for the poor included 1 1/4a. from Edward Newman in 1616, 2 a. of arable from Dr. Thomas Goad in 1624, 5 a. from Thomas Whiteage in 1634, 1 ½a. bought by the parish in 1638, ½a. (Catch Acre) from John Ellis in 1660, and Francis holt of 1½a. from Thomas Richards in 1661. Dr. Benjamin Whichcote by will proved 1683 left 7 a. in Waterbeach for the poor of Milton. In 1646 John Harris's brothers Simon and Richard in return for the town releasing common rights gave £37 and 1 a. for the poor. (fn. 3)

The town lands in the 18th century comprised 14 ½a. of arable in Milton with two osier holts, yielding in 1783 £19 a year, and 7 a. in Waterbeach. Although then supposedly correctly applied, almost all the rents, some £55, were carried to the rates c. 1800. (fn. 4) Following the respective inclosures the town land came to c. 19 a., all but 1 a. copyhold, in Milton, enfranchised in 1885, and 10 a., reckoned freehold, in Waterbeach. (fn. 5) By the 1860s c. 10 a., allotted to Milton parish at inclosure for the embankment of the river Cam, was assimilated to the town land, the 2-3 a. assigned to maintain the banks being usually let by 1910, as perhaps in 1868, as allotments. (fn. 6)

In the late 1830s, when the town land was let for £63, £3 went to a girls' school, £4 each for highway and church repairs, and the rest was indiscriminately distributed, usually in fuel, among the poor, including widows. (fn. 7) In 1843 the farmers resolved to restrict the coal distribution to men with families. (fn. 8) In 1850 the vestry decided that, after deducting the school's share, a quarter of the net income, £10 each, should go to the church and highways respectively, the remaining half to the poor. Then as later the poor's share was usually given in coal and blankets. Those arrangements were confirmed by a Scheme of 1868, which united the charities under one management. The income, then £95, the Milton land being mostly let as allotments, (fn. 9) fell to £72 in the 1870s and to £40-60 between the 1880s and 1920s. In the late 20th century the poor's half share, called the Village Fund, doubled from £33 between 1960 and 1971 and was over £150 in the mid 1970s. A new Scheme of 1978 converted the quarter share, then £120, of the district council as highway authority, into a second fund for general public purposes. In 1982, out of a total income of £1,000 from rents and £55 interest on the £430 proceeds of land sold in Waterbeach, there was £420 for the poor and £210 for general purposes. Until the mid 1970s the poor's share was usually given in coal and groceries, thereafter solely in food parcels, to 40-55 people each year. (fn. 10)

Jean Gallagher (d. c. 1981) left £25,000 for the care of elderly people in Milton. (fn. 11)


  • 1. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, f. 76v.
  • 2. Ibid. Add. MS. 5807, f. 127v.; cf. C.R.O., L 35/2.
  • 3. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 123-4.
  • 4. e.g. C.R.O., L 3/6, pp. 37-8, 63; L 3/7, p. 3; Lincs. R.O., H.D. Manorial, Waterbeach ct. bk. ii, pp. 37-8; Char. Don. i. 92-3; cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/4.
  • 5. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 124; cf. C.R.O., Q/RDz 5, p. 65; Char. Com. files, corr. 1868-85.
  • 6. C.R.O., Q/RDz 5, pp. 45-6; Char. Com. files; cf. Camb. Evening News, 6 Sept. 1977.
  • 7. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 124; cf. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 323.
  • 8. Camb. Chron. 16 Dec. 1843.
  • 9. Char. Com. files, corr. 1868; cf. Gardner's Dir. Cambs. (1851); Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 400-1.
  • 10. Char. Com. files; cf. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1875-1929); Camb. Evening News, 14 Dec. 1974; 13 May 1984.
  • 11. Camb. Evening News, 14 June 1984.