Woolaston: Charities

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.

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'Woolaston: Charities', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds, (London, 1972) pp. 118. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol10/p118a [accessed 20 April 2024]


A distribution to the poor of corn from Woolaston Grange was said to have been made from the time of the foundation of Tintern Abbey. (fn. 1) No dole was made after 1546 when John Conway, steward of Henry, Earl of Worcester, obtained a lease of two-thirds of the Grange and defended apparently with success an action by the parishioners to recover the gift in 1559. (fn. 2) Henry Newland, Abbot of Tintern, gave the church house with a small piece of village green at the east end of the churchyard as an alms-house in 1501. (fn. 3) It was pulled down c. 1818 and replaced by a range of five dwellings for five poor widows, (fn. 4) which became disused in the later 19th century. The site of the alms-house was exchanged by the trustees for ½ a. land at Woolaston Common belonging to Col. P. S. Marling in 1904, (fn. 5) who conveyed it and neighbouring land for the enlargement of the graveyard. (fn. 6) A sum of 4d. was distributed for the relief of the poor c. 1547 from land left for obits. (fn. 7) Richard and Margaret Clayton gave an annuity of 20s. for the poor and 2s. to the churchwardens in 1595. (fn. 8) The charity to the poor was distributed in bread on Good Friday c. 1958. (fn. 9) Thomas James of Bristol gave £100 in 1618 (fn. 10) which was to be lent by the churchwardens to employ ten poor widows in spinning, each having the use of £10 interest-free for 12 years. Owing to the difficulty of carrying out the donor's intention the money was apparently lent to anyone offering security and by 1828 £50 had been lost irrecoverably. The interest at that date was paid for the use of the school, but it was proposed that it should in future again be applied for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 11) The charity could not be traced in 1969. A bread charity of £1 a year was established by Mary and Elizabeth Smart in 1685, (fn. 12) and was still distributed in 1969. The rector, Robert Griffith, is said to have given another bread charity of 40s. a year in 1719; (fn. 13) the gift is not recorded other than in the late 18th century, and there may have been confusion with a distribution of the Clayton and Smart charities.


  • 1. Valor Eccl.(Rec.Com.), iv.371; Hockaday Abs. ccccxvi.
  • 2. C 3/119/5. A dispute occurred in 1564 between Conway's widow Anne and the tenants of the other onethird of the Grange, about payment of corn-rents, but the dole to the poor was not mentioned:C 3/65/101.
  • 3. Copy deed penes the rector.
  • 4. 19th Rep. Com. Char. 114.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 262/T 30.
  • 6. Vestry min. bk. penes the rector.
  • 7. E 301/23 no. 114.
  • 8. 19th Rep. Com. Char. 111-13.
  • 9. W.I. hist. of Woolaston.
  • 10. Rudder, Glos. 845. Thomas died in 1619 (see above, p. 65), but the gift is dated 11 Dec. 1625 in Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323,f. 128v.
  • 11. 19th Rep. Com. Char. 113-14; G.D.R. Woolaston terriers, charitable gifts, 1705, when £70 had been lost.
  • 12. 19th Rep. Com. Char. 114.
  • 13. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 310.