Social history: Charities for the poor

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.

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'Social history: Charities for the poor', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, (London, 2004) pp. 195-201. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


For a small and relatively rural parish Chelsea received many charitable donations at an early period, 11 charities being endowed between 1590 and 1660 and a further four before 1700, compared with nine in the 18th century. The greatest flow of new endowed charities followed urbanization, with 30 new gifts in the 19th century and five more in the 20th. (fn. 1)

Nevertheless, as in many other parishes, gifts for the poor were not well managed. Accounts were ill kept, gifts sometimes did not reach the intended trustees, and the trustees themselves failed to distribute as stipulated or at all. In the 18th and early 19th centuries most charities were distributed by the churchwardens, sometimes with the rector or overseers; confusion over the charities contrasted with the parish's usually conscientious management of public poor relief. (fn. 2) The loss to Chelsea was perhaps more severe than elsewhere. By 1862 all but one charity founded before 1660, and six others founded before 1800, had been lost. Besides the national returns of 1786-8 (fn. 3) and the early 19th-century investigations of the charity commissioners, who included Chelsea in their 1825 report, the commissioners' inspector Walter Skirrow made a special report on Chelsea's charities in 1858, having in 1857 reported specifically on Lady Dacre's charity. Local efforts had been made to keep track of charities. The vestry minute book recorded donations from 1707. The vestry also kept a book entitled 'Account of Public Charities', beginning in 1739 and continued by the rector's churchwarden, John Fielder (d. 1859). (fn. 4) The report of the metropolitan vestry for the year ended 25 March 1859, based on Fielder's records, listed 20 charities. (fn. 5)

In 1860, after the late rector had failed to put matters to rights, the vestry was urged to issue an annual report on all charity affairs, it being not a question of dishonesty but of disorder. The vestry accordingly set up a committee to inquire into the parochial charities, their property, and the application of their proceeds. (fn. 6) Its report in 1862 showed that the total principal was £32,000 with an income of £448 17s. 7d. excluding Lady Dacre's charity. It contained a short account of the charities, intended to replace the list made in 1858-9. A recommendation that all the surviving funds be vested in the Official Trustee for Charity Funds was carried out within a few years; the capital of most later gifts was similarly transferred. Finding that many practices did not accord with the donor's instructions, the report declared that trustees should meet only in public and on dates notified in advance. Despite those precautions, several more charitable funds had disappeared by 2000.

As Chelsea developed, new ecclesiastical parishes were established both in Chelsea detached (Kensal Green) and in Upper Chelsea. (fn. 7) In 1864 the incumbent of Holy Trinity applied to the Charity Commissioners for an apportionment of the income between the (old) parish of St Luke and Upper Chelsea, which was poorer and whose population entitled it to a third. The trustees resisted the proposal as all parts of the parish were equally entitled. An informal arrangement in 1866 recognized that four twelfths should go to Upper Chelsea and one twelfth to Christ Church on the basis of population. In 1896 all distributions were found to have been made for the benefit of all the inhabitants of Chelsea, including Kensal Green, unless the donor otherwise stipulated.

Charities whose income was to be distributed as coal or bread came to be administered through a Bread and Coal fund. In 1936 a Charity Commission Scheme embraced 28 charities as the Non-Ecclesiastical charities of Chelsea. Six other charities became the Ecclesiastical charities, four of them having been divided from a Non-Ecclesiastical gift. (fn. 8) All the capital was then held in low-interest stock.

In 1996 the Chelsea Non-Ecclesiastical charities held securities with a value of £51,286 giving 4.5 per cent interest. There were 7 pensioners, the eldest being 101 years old, each receiving £160 a year besides a £25 Christmas bonus, and donations totalled £700.


Anne, Lady Dacre, by will dated 1594 made a gift to establish Emanuel Hospital, almshouses near Tothill Fields (Westm.) for 20 poor people, 3 of them from Chelsea. (fn. 9) Unless the inhabitants of Chelsea maintained the tomb of Lord and Lady Dacre (fn. 10) the right to nominate two people would be given to Westminster. In 1892 the trustees of Emanuel Hospital sold the building, a Scheme to use the proceeds was approved in 1894, whereby 20 men and 20 women as 'Lady Dacre's pensioners' were each to receive under certain conditions £25 a year; four were to be elected from Chelsea, subject to the vestry keeping in repair the chapel in the Old Church containing the Dacres' tomb. (fn. 11) The first four pensioners were approved by the vestry in 1894. By 1898 the tomb had been renovated. (fn. 12) By 1930 there was provision for only 12 pensioners, 6 men and 6 women, each receiving £25 a year, and one minor pension for a man of £12 a year, subject to maintaining the tomb. The incumbent of the Old Church c. 1925 raised a fund of £300 which was settled in trust to maintain the Dacre tomb, thus preserving the benefits of the charity for Chelsea. (fn. 13)

The Scheme of 1894 was varied in 1911, 1953, 1959, 1969, 1977, and 1992. The original areas from which pensioners were to be drawn were the parishes of St Luke, Chelsea, Hayes (Middx), and of the city and liberties of Westminster. The Scheme of 1992 expanded those areas to cover the whole area of the relevant local authority. Thereafter the number of applicants increased and grants were made for durable goods and respite care: in 1995-6 the total number of pensioners for all three areas was 127. In 1994-5 Lady Dacre's pensioners received £33,289 and there were grants to pensioners, including for convalescence and holidays, of £14,894. By a deed of 1926 the fund for the Dacre tomb became part of the Ecclesiastical charities of Chelsea, confirmed by the Scheme of 1936. (fn. 14)


The following charities were gathered together as the Bread and Coal Fund (below). Unless otherwise stated, charities named in the Scheme of 1936 thereafter formed part of the Non-Ecclesiastical charities.

Edward Cheyne, by will proved 1663, bequeathed to overseers of Chelsea rent charge of 6s. a year for distribution of bread, from land identified in 1862 as Cox's Close at west end of Paradise Row, the site of George Place. Sir Hans Sloane apparently paid 14 years' arrears in 1752, and Earl Cadogan in 1825 paid 82 years' arrears from 1753. (fn. 15) By 1862 the capital together with the Gibbs bequest of £630 had been invested in £656 13s. 9d. stock, the annual income of 6s. being spent on bread. In 1862 the churchwardens bought 35½ loaves for £1 2s. (6s. from Cheyne bequest and 16s. interest on lump sum paid by Earl Cadogan). By Order of 1889 the rent charge was redeemed for £12 by Earl Cadogan. Income was carried to Bread and Coal fund by 1901, and charity was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 1), represented by £26 13s. 9d. stock.

James Leverett by will proved 1663 bequeathed a yearly rent of £14 from the Magpie in Great Chelsea to be distributed by his widow and thereafter by the churchwardens and overseers: £10 was to be distributed among widows of the parish, each to receive 2s. 6d., and £4 was to provide dinner at the Magpie for the churchwardens, overseers, constables, parish clerk, and occupier of the Magpie. In 1858 charity was being applied as directed, though recipients described as housekeepers rather than widows in 1862. In 1861 the house was called the Magpie and Stump, no. 34 Cheyne Walk. (fn. 16) It was burned down in 1886 and rebuilt with a house of the same name designed by and for C.R. Ashbee; in 1901 rent charge was paid regularly by Elizabeth Ashbee and applied in 2s. 6d. tickets for poor residents. The balance of £4 was applied towards the dinner, in 1902 still held at the town hall shortly before Easter, the additional expense being met by the churchwardens. (fn. 17) Charity was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 2), represented by £560 stock.

Richard Gilford by will proved 1680 bequeathed yearly rent of £10 charged on property in London to his brother and thereafter to Chelsea for 16 poor people, 8 of them women, each to receive 10s. on 5 December. (fn. 18) In 1781 there had been difficulties in collecting from the owner, Sir John Mordaunt, Bt, but solicitors secured regular payments from 1785. In practice a balanced distribution was not maintained. In 1739 there were 15 women and one man and for many years women, principally widows, predominated. In 1808 there were 6 men and 6 women. In 1858 there were 12 payments, 6 to women, 3 to men, 3 unidentified. In 1862 it was recommended that distribution should be annual in December, half to men and half to women. Income still derived from rent charge in 1862, but by 1936, when charity was included in Scheme (item 3), it had been redeemed for stock then worth £275 13s. 4d.

Judith Cale by will proved 1717 left £100 to purchase land, the income to be distributed among 6 poor widows in Chelsea. Following action by the rector and vestry against her executors and a Chancery order of 1737, (fn. 19) the £100 plus £80 interest was paid and charity was applied from 1739, when £5 distributed. In 1825 ordered that £20 be added to the capital of £180 and whole was invested in £230 stock. Interest was applied, usually annually, between 1739 and 1824, and by 1862 income of £6 18s. was distributed as directed; stock then held as part of Bread and Coal fund. (fn. 20) By 1901 income £6 6s. 4d., still applied as directed, and in 1930 was £5 15s. Charity was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 4), being represented by £230 stock.

John Franklin by will proved 1790 gave £10 to both boys' and girls' charity schools, and £100 stock from which interest was to be spent by churchwardens and overseers on bread for poor every December and January. In 1822 £3 was carried to Bread and Coal fund (below), and in 1858 dividends were distributed thus. In 1861 one churchwarden spent £1 on 30 loaves and 10s. on coal, while the other spent £1 10s. on coal. In 1901 annual income was £2 15s., and £2 10s. in 1930. Charity included in Scheme of 1936 (item 6), represented by £100 stock.

Samuel Hunton by will proved 1798 gave £100 to be invested in government stock, the interest to provide bread and coal in week before Christmas for neediest widows with large families. By 1823 £167 stock purchased, yielding £5 5s. 6d. a year, transferred in 1833 to Bread and Coal fund (below). Income £4 16s. 8d. in 1901. Hunton's preference for widows with large families not specifically observed. Income £4 8s. in 1930, and charity included in Scheme of 1936 (item 7), represented by £176 stock.

Martha Burnsall by will proved 1805 gave leasehold property in South Street (St George Hanover Square) to be sold, the proceeds to be invested in government stock for relief of decayed householders who had not been public beggars or chargeable on the parish. Net proceeds of sale, £250, with bequest of additional £50 invested to produce £15 a year. By 1862 the capital amounted to £315 stock. In 1858 income was distributed in sums of 10s. 'amongst the second class of poor designated by the trust', but in 1861 part was distributed to women in cash, part in bread, and part withheld. In 1901 income was £8 13s., distributed in cash to nine poor male householders. Charity included in Scheme of 1936 (item 8), represented by £315 stock.

Henry Hailstone by will proved 1812 gave 50s. a year for 21 years to be distributed to poor in bread on Christmas day. Payments were noted from 1822, into Bread and Coal fund, and continued until the 21 years had expired in 1833.

John Gregory by will proved 1813 gave £21 to St Luke's, the interest to provide bread for the poor yearly. The churchwardens added £2 14s. 6d. from unknown source and purchased stock, which in 1811 produced 15s. 8d. a year. In 1861 28 loaves were distributed costing 18s. 9d., the churchwardens apparently having made up the difference. In 1896 annual dividend of 14s. 4d. was carried to Bread and Coal fund. Gift was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 10), represented by £26 5s. stock.

Mary Norman by will proved 1827 left £100, the income to purchase coal yearly for poor residents. The legacy was invested in stock providing £3 7s. 2d. a year, added to the Bread and Coal fund. No separate returns apparently made by overseers. Income £3 1s. 8d. in 1896 and £2 16s. in 1930. Gift included in Scheme of 1936 (item 13), represented by £112 4s. stock.

The Bread and Coal Fund

In 1822 the income from John Franklin's charity had been carried to a general Bread and Coal fund, which then received £13 16s. 6d. a year, made up of £3 from Franklin, who had directed only purchase of bread, 18s. from Judith Cale, £1 from Christopher Plucknett, £5 5s. 6d. from Samuel Hunton, £2 10s. from Henry Hailstone, and £13s. from John Gregory. In 1833 the rector J.W. Lockwood, the minister of the old church, the parish treasurer, and a churchwarden were entrusted with stock worth £718 4s., representing the charities of Mary Norman, Thomas Stewart, Franklin, Cale, and Hunton; only 18s. from Cale's charity went into the fund. The stock for Stewart's charity, although intended for a sermon, (fn. 21) was held with that of the others, for all of which separate accounts were kept in 1862. Later only George Wood's charity was administered separately, but no bread and coal fund was referred to as such. The fund for 1895-6 apparently consisted of 12 charities together yielding £36 17s. 9d., of which £19 14s. 7d. was spent on bread and £17 3s. on coal. Distribution was by tickets issued about a week before Christmas. The 12 charities, augmented by a further 13, formed the subject of the Scheme of 1936, by which time the relationship to the Bread and Coal fund had been lost.


Margery Whitworth by will proved 1767 left £100 stock, the income to be spent on poor people attending the Scottish church in Swallow Street (Westm.). Congregation moved to St Columba's church in Pont Street, Chelsea, c. 1884 and capital transferred to Official Trustee 1885, with additional £42 17s. 3d. from accumulated dividends in 1886. Scheme of 1885 authorized minister and elders of St Columba's to apply income in gifts of money or in kind to poor. Income in 1896 was £3 18s. 4d., paid quarterly in grants of £1 10s. or less.

Catherine Abbott by will proved 1810 gave income from £200 to be distributed by churchwardens equally among 6 decayed women of the parish, preferably former householders. Capital was invested in stock producing £8 3s. 3d. a year, first distributed in 1812. Three years' income was distributed to 17 women and one man in 1832-3; thereafter charity apparently applied as directed. In 1896 the income was £7 9s. 8d. and, with 4d. added by rector's churchwarden, provided six gifts of £1 5s. to women, mainly elderly. By 1930 annual income had dropped to £6 16s. Gift was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 9), represented by £272 4s. 3d. stock.

John Long by will proved 1822 gave £100, the income to provide bread for poor 'not wholly supported' by St Luke's parish. Gift invested in stock and yielded £3 11s. 4d. a year, first clearly recorded in 1829-30. Income £3 5s. 4d. in 1896 and £2 19s. 4d. in 1930. Gift included in Scheme of 1936 (item 11), represented by £118 17s. 5d. stock.

Elizabeth Dennis Denyer, Chelsea's most substantial benefactor, by will proved 1824 gave directions concerning £7,000 in 3 per cent consols. Christ's Hospital having declined a legacy on the trusts, a Chancery decree of 1829 vested the fund in the rector and three other trustees. In 1832 they presented a memorial to the Treasury stating that the testatrix and her parents had lived and were buried in St Luke's, a parish with many poor and many of the peculiar objects of her bounty, namely aged and deserving spinsters; they sought directions to enable them to pay permanent annuities of £10. A royal warrant of 1833 settled the fund subject to annuities specified in the will, the capital thereafter to be added to the trust: only one annuitant survived in 1862 for whom £1,000 was set aside, and this was added to the stock held for the charity in 1878 after his death. (fn. 23) In 1862 17 elderly spinsters benefited annually, in amounts from £7 to £11 2s. 7d. Income of £210 4s. a year was distributed in 1896 to 15 women in sums of £7 to £17 10s. Normally vacancies among recipients of the larger pensions were filled by those receiving the smaller amount; pensioners were rarely chosen from outside Chelsea. Any balance of income was normally applied in doles or bread. Part of the original gift should have fallen to the Crown and was known as the King's Bounty, and from that fund were paid 4 pensions of £12 10s. In 1930 annual income remained the same, and gift was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 12), represented by £7,023 11s. 11d. stock.

Elizabeth Smith (fn. 24) by will proved 1828 left £800 consols, reduced by codicil to £500 stock. Income, after payments for sermon (fn. 25) and to charity schools, (fn. 26) was to provide bread for poor. Net legacy bought £450 stock yielding £13 10s. a year. Income £12 7s. 4d. in 1896, of which £7 2s. 4d. went for bread. Separate Educational foundation established by Order of 1906. Under Scheme of 1936 Elizabeth Smith's Educational and Eleemosynary charity (item 14) was divided, £240 out of its £366 stock becoming part of Non-Ecclesiastical charities.

Anne Sammon by will proved 1832 left £210 stock, to provide a yearly distribution in bread and coal to the poor of the parish 'not receiving alms'. The interest was progressively reduced from 4 per cent to 3 per cent by 1861, when £6 6s. was spent on bread and coal. Income £5 15s. in 1895 and £5 5s. in 1930. Gift included in Scheme of 1936 (item 15), represented by £210 stock.

William Gibbs by will proved 1833 left £700 stock to support 18 poor men and 18 poor women aged over 60 who had not been maintained in the workhouse. After legacy duty, 9s. was given to each of 17 men and 19 women in 1835 and the £2 14s. balance of the dividend was distributed in 1836. In 1862 18 men and 18 women each received 10s. 6d. In 1896 the dividend of £17 6s. 4d., with 13s. 4d. added by one of the churchwardens, was paid as 10s. each to 18 old men and 18 widows. Usually fresh recipients chosen each year. Income £15 15s. in 1930. Gift included in Scheme of 1936 (item 16), represented by £630 stock.

Charles Hatchett by will proved 1847 left £100, the income to be paid half yearly to buy bread in January for deserving poor parishioners of St Luke's. Gift was invested in stock which yielded £3 7s. 4d. a year, but £3 1s. 8d. in 1896, and £2 16s. in 1930. Included in Scheme of 1936 (item 17), represented by £112 7s. 2s. stock.

Luke Thomas Flood by deed poll of 1849 gave £1,500 to the parochial charity schools and £1,000 to trustees appointed under Act of 1819 for building a new church. The first sum was to provide for a catechism on 13 January, a concert, and apprenticing, any residue to provide bread for poor attending the catechism examination and then to apprentice and clothe any children. (fn. 27) The second was to provide payments to one man and one woman, not being husband and wife, aged at least 60 and once householders of the parish, who attended the examination. The legacies were reinvested in stock under Order of 1888 and out of income of £76 14s. 4d., £30 19s. 9d. went to the trust for deserving persons. In 1986 the church trustees divided £30 between a man and women chosen from 8 applicants. A further charity was established in 1856 by the church trustees' purchase of £400 to provide two dinners, one for themselves and subscribers to the schools and one, more modest, for officials involved in the examination. The meals were held at Bailey's Hotel, South Kensington, in 1896, when among other items £30 was spent on a man and a woman, £39 9s. on payments specified by Flood, and £10 14s. 8d. on bread. The income of £92 3s. 4d. was unchanged in 1930. Scheme of 1936 divided the charity of 1856 (item 19), when £8 6s. 8d. stock became the Ecclesiastical charity of Thomas Flood. (fn. 28) The rest, £44 15s. stock, with the charity of 1849 (item 18) represented by £1,299 4s. 2d. stock, became part of Non-Ecclesiastical charities.

Washington Cornelius Ashfield, otherwise Winter, by will proved 1850 left £1,000 stock, the income to be distributed on St Thomas's day equally among 30 poor widows of St Luke's parish who had been householders there for at least ten years. Annual dividend was £30, and in 1861 the rector and the two churchwardens each nominated 10 beneficiaries. In 1896 income was £27 10s., with 27 widows receiving £1 each and one 10s., all housekeepers as stipulated by the donor, and all but one over 60. In 1930 income was £25. The gift was included in Scheme of 1936 (item 20), represented by £1,000 stock.

Sophia Forbes by will proved 1857 left £200 to maintain her vault in the parish church, any surplus to be distributed by rector at his sole discretion among poor of parish not receiving parochial relief. Legacy invested in stock, held by trustees who by Order of 1862 were thereafter to pay the income, then £6 4s. 4d., to rector. Income £5 14s. in 1896, when most recipients lived in district still attached to parish church. Income £5 3s. 6d. in 1930. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 21), represented by £207 5s. 1d. stock.

Frances Elizabeth Eggleton by will proved 1861 left £200 stock after death of her sister Christian Mary (d. 1867), to provide on Christmas Eve a shoulder of mutton and 4 lb bread to persons recommended by respectable householders, including tenants occupying nos 2-6 Lordship Place and nos 1-7 Waterloo Place, whether married and having families or not; any surplus to be spent on wine for the distributors. As further directed, a board was put up in the vestry room in 1862. The houses were pulled down shortly before 1896, when annual income of £5 10s. purchased 20 shoulders of mutton and 20 loaves, distributed by tickets; the 10s. used for bread was carried to Bread and Coal fund (above) which supplied the loaves. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 22), represented by £200 stock.

Charles Rawlings by deed dated 1862 gave income from £400 stock to 4 poor householders or former householders of the parish, male or female, no one to benefit in two consecutive years. Annual income was then £20 and £14 13s. 4d. in 1896, when 4 beneficiaries, all over 60, each received £3 13s. 4d. In 1930 income was £14 13s. 8d. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 23), represented by £419 7s. 4d. stock.

Mary Rogers by will proved 1863 left £300, income to provide blankets and coals for aged poor of St Luke's parish. In 1896 income, from stock, was £7 19s. Pairs of blankets were distributed around Christmas, and any residue carried to Bread and Coal fund (above). In 1930 income was £7 5s. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 24), represented by £290 6s. 5d. stock.

George Wood by will proved 1877 left £1,000 free of duty to be invested, interest to be distributed half yearly among poor of Chelsea 'utterly irrespective of clime or creed'. Legacy was invested in stock. The oldest applicants were usually preferred and no one could benefit more than once in two years. (fn. 29) In 1896, out of 25 applicants with an average age of 70, 4 men and 3 women were chosen, six receiving £2 10s. each and one 16s. 8d. The whole income of £31 13s. 4d. was distributed annually in two tranches. It was unchanged and still distributed half yearly in 1930. Whole gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 25), represented by £1,055 16s. 4d. stock.

Alfred Haines by will proved 1878 left £500 free of duty, income to be divided among widows and other poor of district of Kensal Green at Christmas. Gift was invested in £514 16s. stock. Sole ecclesiastical parish in Kensal Green at time of bequest was St John's, whose vicar and churchwardens became trustees. In 1895 dividend after income tax amounted to £13 3s. 8d. and, with 2s. 6d. added by vicar, was spent on coal, meat, and groceries, distributed by tickets to residents in ecclesiastical parish of St John. Charity was registered in 1963. In 1998-9 the income and expenditure were £121; possibly capital was being spent, as in 2000-1 income was too small to be recorded. (fn. 30)

Ann Hill by will proved 1881 left £1,000, income to be divided equally amongst 3 widows and 3 spinsters, parishioners of St Luke's, aged 50 or more. Invested in stock, and in 1896 income was £24 15s.: six recipients each received £4 2s. 6d. In 1930 income was £22 10s. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 26), represented by £900 stock.

John Henry Brass by a declaration of trust dated 1892 gave £100, income to be paid to a poor single, widowed, or deserted woman, irrespective of faith, resident in St Luke's parish and over 60. He asked that the gift be called Brass's charity. Gift invested in stock, yielding £2 17s. 4d. In 1890s there was a fresh recipient every year. In 1930 annual income was £2 12s. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 27), represented by £104 11s. 5d. stock.

Catherine Henrietta Penn by will proved 1893 left to incumbent of the old church £500 free of duty, to be spent at his discretion on poor of Chelsea. Gift invested in stock, yielding £15 a year. Incumbent informally divided income equally between vicars of St Luke's and St John's and minister of Park chapel; distribution was in money or food. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 28), represented by £500 stock.

Isaac Stroulger by will proved 1904 left £200 to Chelsea MB, subject to his wife Jane's life interest, income to be applied by council annually on his birthday (3 January) equally between one poor man and one poor woman resident in Chelsea and aged over 60, regardless of faith or marital status. Gift formed part of Scheme of 1936 (item 30), when Jane Stroulger was still alive.

The Chelsea Relief of Hardship Fund (fn. 31) was created out of the Chelsea Community Centre for Unemployed Men by Scheme of 1957 to relieve the poorer inhabitants of the MB, in particular the unemployed. Its assets then were £300 stock and £81 2s. 7d. cash. A grant of £10 for clothing was recorded in 1968 but there had been no expenditure for at least five years in 1992, when assets of £1,142.39 consisted of £451.09 stock, money on deposit, and interest. The stock presumably had been sold by March 1995, when current and deposit accounts amounted to £387.87 and £418.18. The balance brought forward, with earlier interest totalling £522.72, apparently had been spent by 1996, leaving £284.75 on deposit; the expenditure was unexplained.


Edward Page (d. 1597) by will gave £10 for poor of Chelsea. (fn. 32) Money apparently used by rector Richard Ward in 1603 to build Church House, on which was secured annual rent charge variously stated to be 16s. 4d. and 26s. 8d. The Church Place pulled down to make way for Paulton Street may have been Church House. Charity not mentioned in 1786 or 1825 and definitely lost by 1862.

Lady Anne Harrington c. 1600 gave £20, income to be distributed to poor. Gift not mentioned in her will proved 1620. Although noted earlier in 19th century, (fn. 33) it could not be traced in 1862.

John Powell of Fulham by will dated 1606 left rent from Westminster to poor of St Margaret Westminster, Chelsea, and Kensington. His heirs were ordered to pay £1 a year in 1612, but nothing further recorded. (fn. 34)

Thomas Young, a Yeoman of the Guard, in 1604 gave to the parishes of Chelsea, Kensington, and Willesden 20s. apiece yearly for the poor. Whereas Kensington and Willesden's shares were secured by rent charges, Chelsea's had been lost by 1862.

Lady Lane was permitted to inclose 3 a. of Lammas land near her house called Brickills c.1630, and in return agreed to pay 20s. a year for poor of Chelsea 'until the world's end'. No record of its payment or application.

Lady Stonor by will allegedly proved 1645 left 20s. to be given annually in bread. Although gift was listed 1804, it was reported in 1862 as never paid.

Henry Ashton by will proved 1657 left 40s. to be lent to eight poor tradesmen without interest. By 1862 it had been lost.

Christopher Plucknett by will dated 1681 gave £1 yearly for bread. Money not paid until after 1787. In 1815 eight years' arrears were paid, and in 1825 gift was charged on Hanger and Town Mead in Fulham, occupied by Mr Bolton from whom rent was received annually. Money spent on bread distributed in January. Payments were received in 1820s and 1830s, but in 1858 the owner refused to pay, and in 1862, as no payment had been made for over 20 years, the claim was barred.

Thomas Morrison by will proved 1827 left fund to meet annuities and provide £20 a year for poor of Chelsea, but as gift could only bind his personal effects, worth less than £20, the charity lapsed.

Sabina Stirling Burgess by will proved 1856 left £100 stock free of duty to Holy Trinity parish, income to purchase bread for distribution on 6 March. In 1896, when number of poor had fallen, income of £2 15s. was distributed as 50 bread tickets worth 1s. Charity not mentioned in 1930 or in Scheme of 1936.

Henry Comyn by will proved 1866 provided that the residue of his estate was to be invested if his wife and two sons should die without issue, and income was to provide annual sums of £10 to poor widows in reduced circumstances. After his surviving heir's death in 1895, Chancery in 1896 held that the charitable gift had failed.

Mrs Rebecca Vandervell by deed of 1867 gave money to buy £107 4s. 9d. stock in trust to provide yearly distribution to at least six unrelieved poor of district of Kensal Green. In 1896 income was £2 19s., which with 1s. from private funds provided 5s. gifts to 12 poor of Kensal Green district. Charity registered in 1963 but deregistered in 1997 as not operating. (fn. 35)

Sarah Styles by will proved 1875 gave £150 to be invested for poor of St Jude's parish to receive half crowns annually on New Year's Day. Gift invested in stock, which in 1896 yielded £3 18s. 8d., distributed in money. Charity not mentioned in 1930 or in Scheme of 1936.

Margaret Morris (fn. 36) by will proved 1910 left £500 free of duty to parish of Kensal Green upon trust, the income to be applied for the benefit of the poor subject to maintenance of a certain grave in All Saints' cemetery, Kensal Green. In case of default the gift with the same condition was made to St Thomas's, Kensal Town. By Order of 1910 capital was invested in stock. In 1996 the trustees, empowered to spend the capital, (fn. 37) reported that the capital, amounting to £102.43, had been given to charity of Emily Josephine Gunning for poor of parish of St Andrew, North Kensington. (fn. 38)

Sarah Campbell left one half of residue of her estate, subject to a life interest, to churchwardens of Chelsea parish for bread and coal for the aged poor annually on 21 December. To be called the Sarah Campbell gift, it was subject to maintaining the tomb of her husband in Kensal Green cemetery. Trustees under her will made their first payment, of £94 1s. 9d., to the churchwardens in 1929. (fn. 39) Chelsea's share was excluded from Scheme of 1936 and came to be applied to ecclesiastical purposes, the life interest expiring in 1945.

Mary Clare by will proved 1914 left £200 to be invested, income to be used by incumbent of St John's, Kensal Green, for poor of that parish. Gift was subject to his maintaining and personally visiting every year the grave of Stephen McDonnell Clare, where she wished to be buried, for which he was to receive 10s. In case of default, the £200 was to go to St Mary's hospital absolutely. Charity was voluntarily registered in 1963, in 1964 stock was worth £204 16s., yielding £7 3s. 4d. Charity had lapsed by 2000 and was deregistered. (fn. 40)


  • 1. Section based on Char. Com. files; 14th Rep. Com. Char. (Parl. Papers, 1826 (382), XII), pp. 2194-8; Chelsea Chars 1862; Endowed Chars London (1901).
  • 2. Above, Loc. Govt, poor relief to 1837.
  • 3. Abstract of Ret. of Char. Donations for Poor, 1786-8, (Parl. Papers, 1816 (511), XVI).
  • 4. 'Accts of Pub. Chars' (in CL).
  • 5. Vestry rep. 1858-9, 69-75.
  • 6. Vestry rep. 1860-1, 20-1.
  • 7. Below, Rel. Hist., ch. extension.
  • 8. Ibid., par. ch.
  • 9. Almshos reserved for treatment under Westm.
  • 10. Below, Rel. Hist., par. ch.
  • 11. Vestry rep. 1892-3, 27, 92-3.
  • 12. Ibid., 1897-8, 22.
  • 13. J.H.W. Wheeler, The Chelsea Chars (based on vestry rep. 1890 and revised to Dec. 1930).
  • 14. Below, Rel. Hist., par. ch.
  • 15. Vestry mins, 1833-9, p. 84.
  • 16. Above, social (inns).
  • 17. Menu cards of 1890s: Chelsea Misc. 342-6.
  • 18. PRO, PROB 11/364, f. 318.
  • 19. CL, deed 18628.
  • 20. Below, bread and coal fund.
  • 21. Below, Rel. Hist., par. ch. (ch. life).
  • 22. Unless otherwise stated, chars named in the Scheme of 1936 thereafter formed part of the Non-Ecclesiastical chars.
  • 23. Vestry rep. 1878-9, 24.
  • 24. Memorial on S wall of St Luke's.
  • 25. Below, Rel. Hist., par. ch.
  • 26. Above, educ. (pub. schs, St Luke's par.).
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. Below, Rel. Hist., par. ch.
  • 29. Vestry rep. 1877-8, 88, 320; 1878-9, 24.
  • 30. Char. Com. no. 212857 (formerly 32806).
  • 31. Char. Com. no. 233326 (formerly 136812). For earlier Benevolent and Relief socs, above, social activities.
  • 32. Davies, Chelsea Old Ch. 296.
  • 33. By Faulkner, by Skirrow, and in a pamphlet by Fred. Gaskell (1849) cited in Chelsea Chars 1862.
  • 34. PRO, C 93/5/1, no. 18.
  • 35. Char. Com. no. 220658.
  • 36. Para. based on Char. Com. no. 220656 (formerly 89419).
  • 37. Under the Charities Act, 1993, c. 10.
  • 38. Char. Com. no. 248382.
  • 39. Wheeler, Chelsea Chars, 22.
  • 40. Char. Com. no. 220657.