Stroud: Charities for the poor

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Stroud: Charities for the poor', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 144-145. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]


The earliest charitable trust established at Stroud was that governing the land of John de Pridie, assigned to the parishioners in 1304 for financing the maintenance of the church and the chaplain's stipend; (fn. 1) the land, usually known later as Pridie's Acre, lay on the south side of the church and on it the market-house and other buildings were erected. (fn. 2) The parish property was augmented in 1567 by a house in Stroud and a close called Church Furlong granted by Giles Payne, and in 1578 by lands and tenements in the town granted by William Sewell of Ferris Court and Thomas Sewell. Those lands and Pridie's Acre were vested in a body known as the Stroud feoffees which from 1637 renewed itself by regular feoffments; it usually included the lords of the various manors in the parish and the leading clothiers. (fn. 3) During the earlier 17th century the property was evidently administered for the feoffees by the churchwardens, (fn. 4) but in 1676 the feoffees agreed on more efficient measures for administering the trust, (fn. 5) and regular accounts kept by them survive from 1680. (fn. 6)

In 1637 the feoffees' property comprised 8 tenements in the town, the market-house with the shops adjoining, and Church Furlong; (fn. 7) most of their houses in the town stood by the market-house on Pridie's Acre, but others, representing the gifts of Payne and the Sewells, stood near the Cross and on the south side of High Street. (fn. 8) The rents from Pridie's Acre amounted to c. £17 in 1683; (fn. 9) by 1826 the rental of the property there had risen to £169 when the feoffees were receiving £115 for their other property in the town and £9 from Church Furlong; (fn. 10) and by 1861 the total rental amounted to £353, providing a clear annual income of £214. (fn. 11)

In 1637 the uses of the trust were given as the repair of the church and the relief of the poor (fn. 12) and, as related above, the feoffees were also responsible for a contribution towards the curate's stipend. (fn. 13) The many small payments for the poor and for apprenticeships made by the churchwardens in the later 17th century were presumably made out of the feoffees' funds, (fn. 14) and in the 18th century the feoffees made regular contributions to poor-relief and gave considerable sums to church maintenance. (fn. 15) By the later 19th century the income was being applied in equal parts to church and poor, (fn. 16) but from 1887 the poor's moiety and all accumulations on it were applied to the Marling School endowment. (fn. 17) In 1917 a further scheme divided the feoffees' income, after maintenance expenses and the payment to the vicar, into two equal moieties, one to be paid to the Stroud Educational Foundation, and the other to be used for the upkeep of the fabric of the parish church and Holy Trinity. In 1971 the feoffees' property still included the Shambles and the town hall but some of their houses had been sold and about one-fifth of their annual income of c. £1,660 was derived from investments. (fn. 18)

In 1631 Samuel Watts, a London merchant and native of Stroud, left £200, half for a lectureship and half for the poor. The money was laid out c. 1634 on land in Colethrop, (fn. 19) which was bringing in a rent of c. £10 in 1683. (fn. 20) By 1676 the land was vested in the Stroud feoffees (fn. 21) and the poor's moiety of the charity was applied indiscriminately with their other funds until c. 1818 when for a few years it was used to buy coal; the charity had by then been augmented by stock bought with the proceeds of a sale of timber from the estate in 1806, and in 1826 it had a total income of £21 10s. (fn. 22) The poor's moiety was again being used for coal in the 1870s (fn. 23) but in 1887 it was applied as part of the Marling School endowment. (fn. 24) Under the scheme of 1917 one moiety of the income of the Watts charity was applied to the Stroud Educational Foundation and the other to the church towards the salary of the assistant curate, and in 1971 the total income, by then derived wholly from investments, was c. £30. (fn. 25)

Nathaniel Gardner by will dated 1671 left a rentcharge of £1 from land in Painswick for bread for the poor at Christmas; the rent was being regularly paid in 1826. (fn. 26) Twenty pounds given for the poor by William Ruckwood in 1604 and £100 given for the poor and to supplement the minister's income by Thomas Webb (evidently a different man from the founder of the charity school) was used in 1677 to purchase a rent-charge of £6 payable out of the Badbrook Mill estate; £2 10s. was assigned to the minister and £3 10s. to the poor. (fn. 27) The poor's share was usually used for apprenticeships and was being applied for that purpose in 1826 along with the funds of William Johns's charity, mentioned below, (fn. 28) but in 1887 it was included in the endowment of the Marling School. (fn. 29) By 1683 two other eleemosynary charities had been founded, £10 given for the poor by John Griffin and Elizabeth his wife and £30 for the poor given by Daniel Watts, merchant of London. (fn. 30) No record of those two charities has been found after the early 18th century (fn. 31) or of two other charities mentioned then, £20 given for the poor by a Mr. Waters and a gift of £1 annually by Daniel Clissold of Pitchcombe to be applied alternately to the poor of Stroud and Painswick. (fn. 32)

William Johns, curate of Stroud (d. 1722), (fn. 33) left a contingent title to 'the house at the Knap' to the parish; £1 of the annual profits was to go to the charity school society founded by Johns, £1 for the maintenance of the church clock and chimes, 10s. to a man to ring the bell night and morning, 10s. for the repair of the pump at the Cross, and the surplus to apprenticeships. The property came to the parish in 1776, and part of the profits were being used for apprenticeships in the 1780s and in the 1820s, when the rent of the house was £40. (fn. 34) The house was sold in 1858 and the proceeds invested in stock (fn. 35) which produced dividends of £45 in 1883. (fn. 36) In 1887, except for the payment for the clock and chimes, the income was assigned to the Marling School. (fn. 37)

Thomas Gardner by will dated 1713 asked that £3 should be laid out in bread for the poor each Christmas; after his death £70 contributed by his family and a like sum by James Winchcombe (to whom the charity was later solely attributed) was used to buy land in Paganhill tithing which in 1731 was assigned to the purpose specified by Gardner. (fn. 38) The charity was being regularly distributed in the 1820s. (fn. 39) Richard Aldridge by will dated 1815 gave £500 stock, the proceeds, beyond what was needed to repair his family monument, to be laid out on coal and clothing for the poor. (fn. 40) In 1887 it and any surplus on £100 stock given by Aldridge for a sermon were applied to the Marling School. (fn. 41) A charity founded by Mary Cox in 1839 to provide food and fuel for the poor had an annual income of just over £6 from stock in 1883. (fn. 42)

In 1970 the endowments of the charities of Nathaniel Gardner and James Winchcombe (which had by then been converted to stock) and Mary Cox's charity, together with £447 stock belonging to a charity founded by the Revd. Edward Mansfield in 1880, stock acquired with £1,000 left to the poor of the ecclesiastical parish of the parish church by Josiah Greathead Strachan by will proved 1892, and a benefaction made before 1920 by William Thomas Sims, were amalgamated to form the Stroud United charities, to be applied in goods or services within the urban district. (fn. 43) In 1971 the annual income was c. £134. (fn. 44)

Josiah Strachan also left £1,000 for the poor of Whiteshill ecclesiastical district in 1892, (fn. 45) and in 1971 the income, c. £60, was being distributed in grocery vouchers. (fn. 46) A private charity with an endowment of £654 stock was founded as a memorial to Henry Adam Holloway, and in 1934 it was agreed to distribute it in goods or money, giving preference to former employees of the firm of Holloway Bros. (fn. 47) In 1971, when the annual income was c. £20, it was proposed to administer it with the United charities. (fn. 48)


  • 1. See p. 136.
  • 2. Fisher, Stroud, 268-70, says that there was some doubt among his contemporaries as to the location of John de Pridie's land, but the position of the plot S. of the church, its later possession by the feoffees responsible for the trusts of 1304, and the fact that the name Pridie's Acre was applied to it as early as 1683 (G.D.R., V5/293T 1) leave little doubt as to the identification. The land called Pridyhay which Fisher mentions must have been elswhere, for it was clearly the freehold of the Davis fam. and subject to no trusts: cf. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1625-42, iii. 41-2; Glos. R.O., D 149/T 829-36.
  • 3. Glos. R.O., D 914/2.
  • 4. The churchwardens' accts. for that period record payments for repairs to the market-house and the nearby shops and the receipt of rents for houses, shops, and Church Furlong: Glos. R.O., P 320/CW 2/1.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 914/2.
  • 6. Ibid. 7, 9-10, 12, 14.
  • 7. Ibid. 2.
  • 8. Fisher, Stroud, 269; cf. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 71-2.
  • 9. G.D.R., V5/293T 1.
  • 10. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 71-2.
  • 11. Glos. R.O., D 914/25.
  • 12. Ibid. 2.
  • 13. See pp. 136-7.
  • 14. Fisher, Stroud, 358-60, quoting extracts from the churchwardens' accts., now in Glos. R.O., P 320/CW 2/1.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., D 914/7, 9-10, 12.
  • 16. Ibid. 14.
  • 17. Libby, Stroud, 116-17.
  • 18. Ex inf. the vicar.
  • 19. See p. 138.
  • 20. G.D.R., V5/293T 1.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., D 914/2.
  • 22. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 72.
  • 23. Glos. R.O., D 914/14.
  • 24. Libby, Stroud, 117.
  • 25. Ex inf. the vicar.
  • 26. 14th Rep. Com. Char., 79.
  • 27. Glos. R.O., D 1159, trust deed 1677.
  • 28. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 79, where, as in most other references, Wm. Hawker, from whom the rent-charge was bought, is credited as the donor and the date given as 1676.
  • 29. Libby, Stroud, 117.
  • 30. G.D.R., V5/293T 1.
  • 31. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B.323, f. 208v.; Atkyns, Glos. 700.
  • 32. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c.3, f. 168v.
  • 33. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 261.
  • 34. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 76-7; Glos. R.O., D 914/32.
  • 35. Glos. R.O., D 914/22.
  • 36. Glos. Colln. RQ 293.5.
  • 37. Libby, Stroud, 117.
  • 38. Glos. R.O., D 149/T 1183.
  • 39. 14th Rep. Com. Char. 79.
  • 40. Ibid. 79-80.
  • 41. Libby, Stroud, 117; Glos. N. & Q. ii. 267.
  • 42. Glos. Colln. RQ 293.5; Char. Com. files. Thos. Phillips of Painswick by will dated 1824 left a rent-charge of £5 to Stroud parish for apprenticeships but the bequest apparently never took effect: Glos. R.O., P 320A/ CH2/1.
  • 43. Char. Com. files.
  • 44. Glos. R.O., CH 21.
  • 45. Char. Com. files.
  • 46. Ex inf. the Revd. J. R. Roberts, vicar of Whiteshill.
  • 47. Char. Com. files.
  • 48. Glos. R.O., CH 21.