Swavesey: Charities for the poor

Pages 397-398

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

The priory was charged with a yearly distribution, recorded in 1325, to the poor in memory of its founders. That may be the origin of a yearly distribution to the poor of the bread produced by 1 qr. of wheat and of a measure of red herrings made in the late 15th century out of the rectory manor. (fn. 1) John Chatteris by will proved 1540 left to the poor the income from 8 bullocks let at 16d. each. (fn. 2) John Cooper before 1634, besides endowing the repair of the causeway, gave the interest on £10 for the poor. (fn. 3) In 1638 various small gifts totalling 4s. and the interest of £5 were payable to the poor at the perambulation of the parish. (fn. 4) Only one of them, Newman's charity, was recorded in the mid 18th century when in addition annual gifts endowed by George Anderson, Mrs. Pickering, and Sir John Cutts and the rent of three pieces of land were distributed to poor widows. (fn. 5) All or some of those small charities may have formed the £5 said in 1783 to be distributed by the churchwardens. (fn. 6) and the stock out of which 7 a. copyhold was bought as town lands for the poor; it was administered with Galon's charity by the 1830s. (fn. 7)

Thomas Galon of Wilburton by will dated 1528 settled 51 a. in Swavesey in trust; the net income after his wife's death was to be used towards the payment of taxes on the inhabitants and the relief of poor men with an income under £20. In 1757 the trustees built a schoolroom. (fn. 8) The income in the later 1780s was £26 10s., increased to £59 10s. by the late 1830s, when it was distributed mainly in coal. The land, with the town lands, was exchanged in 1840 for 78 a., reduced to 76½ a. providing £114 3s. in 1863- 4. (fn. 9) An Order of 1905 assigned part of the income to the Galon Educational Foundation, which was again merged with the main charity by a Scheme of 1972. (fn. 10) The income, still mainly from rents, increased from £264 in 1970 to £1,994 in 1980 and £5,746 in 1986, spent in cash grants to pensioners and small donations to local hospitals. (fn. 11)

By 1860 John Dodson (d. 1865) annually gave a dinner to poor widows and widowers and distributed coal, a tradition continued by his heir and others including Thomas Payne, (fn. 12) a Swavesey grocer. By will proved 1911 Payne gave £5 a year to be distributed to widows and widowers in tea, sugar, and coal. The land charged with the payment was sold in 1925 and the proceeds were invested. Payne's charity was distributed as directed by 1915 and in 1964; (fn. 13) no more is known of it.

After the fire in Church End in 1913 (fn. 14) a relief fund was established; the capital of £566, later increased, was used in 1914 to buy land on the south side of High Street, presumably the part now Station Road, for four cottages administered for aged poor under Schemes of 1914, 1915, and 1917. By 1976 the fund also had £1,780 stock. The income in 1982 was £1,388, of which £1,060 was rent. (fn. 15)


  • 1. P.R.O., E 106/6/7, no. 19B; Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xlviii), 6.
  • 2. C.U.L., E.D.R., consist. ct. wills, 1540, will of John Chatteris of Swavesey.
  • 3. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 258.
  • 4. Hist. Teacher's Misc. vi. 103.
  • 5. Swavesey ch., par. rec., town bk., reverse ff., receipts 1742-55. It is not clear which Sir John Cutts is meant.
  • 6. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 90.
  • 7. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 257.
  • 8. Ibid. 257-8; Wilson, 'Hist. Swavesey', 30-2; above, educ.
  • 9. Char. Don. i. 94-5; 31st Rep. Com. Char. 257; Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 34-5; C.U.L., Add. MS. 6076, f. 35; C.R.O., Q/RDc 56, f. 128.
  • 10. Char. Com. Scheme, 17 May 1972.
  • 11. Char. Com. file 202515.
  • 12. Swavesey Chron. 41-2, 45, 47, 68, 76, 80.
  • 13. Camb. Ind. Press, 5 Feb. 1915; 20 Mar. 1925; 31 Jan. 1930; Char. Com. file 238632.
  • 14. Above, intro.
  • 15. Char. Com. file 203218.