Dry Drayton: 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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Dry Drayton: 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. 89-90. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol9/pp89-90 [accessed 16 April 2024]


In the Middle Ages Swavesey priory's lessee was supposed to distribute herrings and wheaten bread to the poor on St. Andrew's day. (fn. 1) Joan Umfrey by will proved 1521 left 6 a. to repair the church and pay the king's taxes when levied. (fn. 2) By 1616 the parish owned a Town close, whose grazing was regularly let, along with the mowing of the main 'havens' in the fields, (fn. 3) to produce funds used partly to relieve the poor. In 1703 the parish purchased, partly by subscription, 6 a. of copyhold open-field land, (fn. 4) for which at inclosure 6&frac1/4; a. in the far north were allotted. (fn. 5) The rent rose from £4 in 1783 (fn. 6) to £10 by 1837. It was then usually given in coal among the settled poor, (fn. 7) as in 1863 when £11 4s. was received. (fn. 8) By the 1870s the land was being let to labourers as allotments. (fn. 9) In 1873, however, the lord's steward seized it for non-payment of entry fines and his legal fees. No rent was received for 30 years, although the allotment holders apparently continued to occupy it. In 1907, after the rector had acquired the manorial rights for that purpose, the land was enfranchised and payment resumed. (fn. 10) The allotments continued to be let, though gradually to fewer people, and the rent, rising from under £8 after the 1930s to £30 by 1972, was given in coal until c. 1945, and by 1960 in grocery vouchers. (fn. 11)

About 1616 a town stock of c. £11 was let at interest to local men, and regularly augmented by gifts for the poor, (fn. 12) to which Richard Rose added £7 10s. in 1642 and 1658, intended to provide £1 a year among 16 poor people. (fn. 13) In the 18th century the stock was reckoned as £15 10s., its proceeds being distributed at Easter with the town land rent. (fn. 14) A curate Thomas Fowler, by will proved 1680, gave 15s. a year in bread and cash for the poor attending a sermon on their baptismal duties, but it was lost by 1800. (fn. 15) In 1779 the parish received £100 from the former rector, William Hetherington, by will of 1778. The interest, £5, was to be given in bread to poor churchgoers. (fn. 16) That money and the town stock was invested in South Sea stock with the school endowments, and the income was not distinguished during the 19th century. (fn. 17) Only c. 1903 was distribution of Hetherington's charity resumed by the rector. The educational and eleemosynary charities were distinguished by an Order of 1907, which allotted to the poor £215 of the £275 of stock then held. The income, almost £7 a year in the 1950s, was given to up to 7 parishioners in the 1940s but by the late 1970s was being accumulated. (fn. 18)


  • 1. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 278, f. 60v.
  • 2. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, f. 71.
  • 3. C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1616-19; cf. Beds. R.O., Box 279, ct. roll 1641.
  • 4. C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1703.
  • 5. Ibid. Q/RDz 4, p. 372.
  • 6. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 108.
  • 7. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 91; cf. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 321; Camb. Chron. 31 Dec. 1830.
  • 8. Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 386-7.
  • 9. C.R.O., P 58/25/2.
  • 10. Char. Com. files.
  • 11. Ibid.; C.R.O., R 54/20/6A; R 54/20/2B, pp. 2, 50, 76.
  • 12. C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1616-17, 1631.
  • 13. Ibid. s.a. 1642, 1658.
  • 14. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, f. 108; Walker, Dry Drayton, i. 52; cf. C.R.O., P 58/1/1, at end; East Anglian, n.s. vi. 324.
  • 15. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 92.
  • 16. C.R.O., P 58/1/3A, note of 1779.
  • 17. Cf. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 91-2.
  • 18. Char. Com. files.