Earls Colne: Charities for the poor

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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'Earls Colne: Charities for the poor', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001) pp. 103-104. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol10/pp103-104 [accessed 1 March 2024]


George Bees- ton, by will dated 1561, gave to the poor 6s. 8d. a year charged on land in Berecroft. The bequest was noted c. 1620, but there is no other record of it. (fn. 1) Thomas Anderson, by will dated 1611, gave £2 to increase the parish stock for the poor, and Richard Harlakenden, by will dated 1660, proposed to add £10, to be used to buy wood for sale to the poor. (fn. 2) There is no later record of the stock, which was presumably lost.

George Cressener, by will proved 1722, charged his Middlesex estate with 40s. a year for bread for the poor of Earls Colne. The bread was distributed annually in the 1780s, but bien- nially by 1836. In 1995 the charity's income was £29. (fn. 3)

Mary Pointer (d. 1734) left £300 to the over- seers to be invested in land for the poor. In 1740 the overseers borrowed the capital to build the workhouse; they distributed the interest annu- ally (fn. 4) until 1745 when they bought a house and c. 13 a. in Wickham St. Paul. The house was demolished in 1801, and in 1837 the charity's endowment consisted of the land and £50 capi- tal, mainly derived from the sale of the materials of the house. Sixty four people received 10s. each from the charity in 1829, 119 people 5s. 6d. each in 1872. (fn. 5) H. H. Carwardine, by will proved 1867, bequeathed capital to provide £5 a year to buy cloaks for four old women paupers. (fn. 6) A Scheme of 1954 united the two charities and allowed their income to be used to provide weekly allowances or help in kind for the poor. (fn. 7)

Almshouses adjoining the churchyard and in the street in the 18th century were presum- ably unendowed, and may have been the cot- tages held for the poor in 1723 or those claimed by the church in 1728; one probably became the workhouse. (fn. 8) Almshouses in Upper Holt Street recorded from 1855 were built by H. H. Carwardine in 1843 for his retired estate workers. (fn. 9)

William Hunt (d. 1978) set up c. 1965 a trust to assist local charities, and increased the endow- ment by his will. (fn. 10)


  • 1. E.R.O., D/DPr 629, s.a. 1624 or 1625, at back of book.
  • 2. Ibid. D/ACW 5/222; ibid. D/DU 256/6.
  • 3. Ibid. D/P 209/25/5; D/P 209/11/3; 32nd Rep. Com. Char. 641; Char. Com. file.
  • 4. E.R.O., D/P 209/8; D/P 209/12/1.
  • 5. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. 641; E.R.O., D/P 209/8; D/P 209/25/1-3.
  • 6. Principle Registry, Family Division, will of H. H. Carwardine.
  • 7. Char. Com. file.
  • 8. E.R.O., T/P 195/11; ibid. D/P 209/1/4; Guildhall MS. 25750/1; Morant, Essex, ii. 215.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/Z 2/7/14C; D/Z 2/18/14; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866 and later edns.); Wherein I Dwell, p. 70.
  • 10. Eve. Gaz. 6 June 1978; Stroll Through the Century, 65.