Tetbury: Charities for the poor

Pages 282-283

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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An alms-house mentioned at Tetbury in 1509 (fn. 1) was presumably that on the north side of the churchyard; it had certainly been built by 1594. (fn. 2) In 1683 it housed eight poor people, probably, as later, women; a rent of £4 from a house in Long Street assigned to the almspeople before 1628 was their main support (fn. 3) and each received 2s. a quarter in the early 18th century. (fn. 4) They also apparently shared 20s. a year assigned to them for the bequest of John Maltby when it was applied to the purchase of the manor in 1633. (fn. 5) By the early 18th century the alms-house was administered by the Tetbury feoffees, who filled vacancies among the almswomen; (fn. 6) their involvement may have prompted the tradition that 'Sir Thomas Romney' had built the alms-house. (fn. 7) In 1774 Esther Clark gave £50 towards the maintenance of the almswomen and it was used with other town funds to buy £110 stock; Eleanor Ludlow by will dated 1804 and Sarah Ludlow by will dated 1816 each gave £20 for the same purpose. Thomas Thompson by will dated 1814 left real and personal property for the poor in the alms-house, but the will was the subject of litigation and in 1826 it was not expected that the charity could be made effective for some time. (fn. 8) In the 1880s the eight women in the house each received 30s. a year from the endowments, including Thompson's which produced £23 12s. a year. The endowments and an eleemosynary charity of William Brookes, who left £100 by will proved 1825, (fn. 9) were amalgamated under a new Scheme for the town charities in 1970 and produced a total income of c. £280 for the maintenance of the almshouse. (fn. 10) The alms-house was modernized in 1960 to provide four flats. (fn. 11)

Among the payments charged on the tolls by Sir William Romney was 5s. each week to the poor. The decree of 1622 provided for annual payments of £10 to support 13 almspeople and buy them gowns and other necessaries at Christmas and £10 to be loaned without interest to young tradesmen, (fn. 12) but the tripartite deed replaced the latter by a sum of £5 for apprenticeships, while also assigning £4 to the poor to represent the bequest of William Langston used in the purchase of the manor. (fn. 13) The feoffees later made regular apprenticeships and met the eleemosynary obligations by supplying the poor with clothes, known as Romney Coats. (fn. 14) From £20 to £30 a year were expended on clothes until c. 1825 when the sum was reduced to 10 guineas. (fn. 15) The Scheme of 1830 provided for payments of £30 for gowns for the poor and £20 for apprenticeships; the sums were initially reduced by the feoffees because of the inadequacy of their income (fn. 16) but later were met in full. (fn. 17) From 1839 the feoffees were also responsible for providing £30-worth of coal and blankets for the poor out of the profits of the sale of the advowson. (fn. 18) In 1970 the eleemosynary functions of the feoffees and a portion of the investments of the trust were formed into a separate charity, the Romney Charity for the Poor, which was then amalgamated with the other town charities. (fn. 19)

Sir Thomas Estcourt (d. 1624) gave rents from his property in the town for the poor of Dursley and Tetbury equally; the charity became due in the 1640s after the death of his widow (fn. 20) and the sum payable to Tetbury was later fixed at £10 a year. The proceeds, which included the interest on stock purchased with an accumulation, were generally distributed at an inn in the town and in the 1820s some 80 people received small sums; the charity commissioners then objected to the indiscriminate distribution and advised inquiry into the character and circumstances of the recipients. (fn. 21) Richard Talboys (d. 1663) gave £20 to the poor (fn. 22) and in 1682 his widow Catherine replaced the bequest by a rentcharge of 30s. for bread. John Veizey by will dated 1677 charged land at Upton with 5s.-worth of bread for the poor of Upton and 15s.-worth for the poor of Tetbury, Doughton, and Charlton. Other bread charities were founded by Charles Elton who by will dated 1696 left a rent-charge of 40s., Jonathan Shipton who by will dated 1710 left a charge of 20s., John Avery who by will dated 1713 left a charge of £10 8s. on houses in Bristol, and Hopeful Vokins who by will dated 1730 charged Hillsome Farm with £2 10s. The hundred sixpenny loaves distributed by the Vokins charity each New Year's day were said to make the church a scene of noise and disorder in the 1820s. (fn. 23)

Matthew Sloper by will dated 1770 gave £10 to be applied with the charities of Sir Thomas Estcourt and Elizabeth Hodges, and £200 given by James Pickett by will dated 1813 was invested and applied with Sir Thomas's charity. John Webber by will dated 1813 gave money for buying stock to support a distribution of £5-worth of bread, and Mary Summers by will dated 1826 gave £100 stock for a distribution in cash to maiden women. (fn. 24) Tetbury benefited from J. H. Ollney's Christmas coal and blanket charity, receiving £300 principal, and in 1851 Thomas Poulton left £400 for bread, coal, and blankets. (fn. 25) Richard Filkin (d. 1871) left £4,900 stock for apprenticing boys and clothing girls and for the aged poor. (fn. 26) Caroline Bass Savage gave £500 stock for the aged poor in 1883. (fn. 27)

In 1970 the charities of the town were grouped together as the Tetbury Welfare charities, comprising the Almshouse charity and the Tetbury Relief in Need charity, which was an amalgamation of the Romney Charity for the Poor and all the other charities mentioned above. The Relief in Need charity, which had a total income of c. £350, was to be applied in individual cases in goods or services. (fn. 28)

Three eleemosynary charities remained outside the Scheme. Elizabeth Hodges by her will of 1723 charged her Shipton Moyne estate with £10 a year for poor housekeepers of Tetbury, and an accumulation was used c. 1765 to buy £134 stock; the income of £20 was paid to the Welfare charity trustees in the early 1970s. Thomas Talboys by will dated 1731 gave an annuity of £19 in reversion to be distributed in cash and bread; stock was later purchased to secure the charity and the distribution was made at the discretion of the trustees in the early 1970s. Mary Hone on her deathbed gave £150 to the vicar John Wight to be applied as he thought fit; it was secured in 1775 for a distribution in sums of 20s. to poor widows, and in the early 1970s the income of £7 was distributed at the vicar's discretion. (fn. 29)

A charge of 20s. for bread left by Gilbert Gastrell by will dated 1732 (fn. 30) lapsed in the mid 20th century and was declared irrecoverable in 1970. (fn. 31) Before 1683 (fn. 32) two sums of £20 and £30 were given by John Savage and by John Sheppard and his wife for loans to young tradesmen. The Sheppards' bequest was lost through the insolvency of the borrowers, but was replaced by Charles Savage in 1702; (fn. 33) neither bequest has been found recorded later.


  • 1. Hockaday Abs. ccxlvi.
  • 2. Glos. R.O., D 566/M 16, f. 6v.
  • 3. Ibid. T 2/6; G.D.R., V 5/300T 5.
  • 4. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 210v.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 566/T 1/10.
  • 6. Ibid. B 2/4-5; B 1/1; G.D.R. vol. 381A, f. 32.
  • 7. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 323, f. 210v.
  • 8. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 362-7.
  • 9. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 909.
  • 10. Char. Com. files; Glos. R.O., CH 21.
  • 11. Feoffees' min. bk. 1927-72.
  • 12. Glos. R.O., D 566/L 2.
  • 13. Ibid. T 1/10.
  • 14. Ibid. B 2/1-2, 4-5.
  • 15. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 354.
  • 16. Glos. R.O., D 566/B 1/1, copy of Scheme, and entry for 1837.
  • 17. Ibid. B 2/9; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 909.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., D 566/B 1/2.
  • 19. Char. Com. files.
  • 20. Glos. R.O., D 1571/F 58.
  • 21. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 356-7, where Sir Thomas's will is wrongly dated.
  • 22. Glos. R.O., D 191/11.
  • 23. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 355-8, 361, where Vokins's will is wrongly dated: Glos. R.O., D 131/T 29.
  • 24. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 361, 364-5.
  • 25. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 909-10.
  • 26. Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 267.
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 910.
  • 28. Char. Com. files; Glos. R.O., CH 21.
  • 29. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 359-60, 362-3; Glos. R.O., CH 21.
  • 30. 18th Rep. Com. Char. 360.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., CH 21.
  • 32. G.D.R, V 5/300T 5.
  • 33. Atkyns, Glos. 712; Glos. Colln. RF. 300.4.