Edmonton: Charities for the poor

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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A P Baggs. Diane K Bolton. Eileen P Scarff. G C Tyack, 'Edmonton: Charities for the poor', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976), pp. 203-207. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp203-207 [accessed 24 June 2024].

A P Baggs. Diane K Bolton. Eileen P Scarff. G C Tyack. "Edmonton: Charities for the poor", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976) 203-207. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp203-207.

Baggs, A P. Bolton, Diane K. Scarff, Eileen P. Tyack, G C. "Edmonton: Charities for the poor", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976). 203-207. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp203-207.

In this section


In 1278 Walden abbey undertook to pay £1 a year out of the rectory to feed 30 paupers in Edmonton but payments apparently ceased at the Dissolution. (fn. 2) Sir Christopher Askew, alderman of London, by will proved 1539, left £100 for 'best full white herrings' to be distributed among the poor of Edmonton each Lent. (fn. 3) His son Richard said that the charity had already lapsed by 1551, because of the high price of herrings. (fn. 4)

During the 17th century important charities were founded for schools, which are dealt with above, and for alms-houses. By 1819 there were 20 charities in Edmonton, mostly for the poor or to augment the existing education and alms-house charities. They were administered as the Edmonton charities by trustees consisting of the vicar and churchwardens and 11 prominent inhabitants. (fn. 5) A committee of the vestry, appointed in 1848, alleged that 11 charities should not be administered by the trustees but by the parish or by the vicar and churchwardens, that the funds of the various charities were amalgamated, and that there was misappropriation, particularly in the case of Latymer's charity, which accounted for £500 out of the total annual income of £900. The trustees denied the charges and by a Charity Commission Scheme of 1866 were authorized to administer together 23 charities, although excluding the Latymer charity. The 23 charities were those of Alston, Cade, Chaplin, Colfe, Elliott, Hallam, Huxley, Jackson, Lewitt, Maule, Pitt, Rogers, Skip, Smith, Stanbridge, Edmund and Sarah Slaughter, Style, Tatem, Uvedale, Wilde of Edmonton, Wilde of Barking, and Wyatt.

In 1889 another parochial committee reported that money, particularly for apprenticing, was not being properly applied and in 1891 it proposed a new Scheme. It was not until 1899, however, that the Charity Commission established a new board of trustees, consisting of the vicar, 5 representatives of Edmonton U.D.C. and 4 of Southgate U.D.C., and 8 co-opted members. There were to be two groups of charities-the United charities of Judith Alston and others and the Ecclesiastical charities. The Ecclesiastical charities consisted of Maule's charity and the ecclesiastical provisions of the charities of Hallam, Rogers, and Wilde of Edmonton, producing a total annual income of £143. The United charities consisted of the remaining charities in the 1866 Scheme, together with those of Baker, Bellis, Board, John and Henry Field, Jifkins, Larman, Whitbread, and part of Knight's and Rowley's charities. The total stock amounted to £9,933 and the annual income to £469.

By a Scheme of 1902 the United charities were divided into three branches: educational, which consisted of £20 a year from Style's and £8 a year from Wilde of Edmonton's charities; apprenticing, consisting of £10 a year from Style's, £6 a year from Wilde of Edmonton's charities, and the relevant portion of Chaplin's charity; and alms-houses and pensioners, to which all the other income was applied. The educational branch was abstracted from the United charities by a Scheme of 1905, which transformed it into the Educational Foundations of John Wilde of Edmonton and Thomas Style. Knight's charity and the Oswin fund were added to the United charities in 1914 and 1928 respectively. By a Scheme of 1965 pensioners were omitted from the third branch of the United charities, all the money going to the alms-houses. The income of the United charities in 1964 was £1,760, of which £228 was paid to alms-people. In 1973 the income was £1,100, which was wholly applied to the upkeep of the alms-houses. By 1973 the apprenticing branch of the charity was dormant, virtually no applications being made for it.

Several charities were founded during the 19th century for the benefit of Southgate parish, especially by the Walker family, and in 1906 the Southgate relief committee, which included the vicar and churchwardens of Christ Church, was formed to administer them. In 1973 the committee administered £120 income from the charities of John Julian, Frederick Walker, Vyell E. Walker, and Russell Walker, and the relevant portions of Sophia Walker's charity and the Weld Chapel trust. (fn. 6)

The United Charities.

Alms-house charities.

In 1662 John Wilde of Edmonton, had 'lately' built three alms-houses next to the churchyard in Church Street. By will proved 1665 he conveyed houses and 25 a., mostly of common-field land, to trustees to apply the profits to several charities, including £4 a year for the inmates of the alms-houses. (fn. 7) By 1867 £7 was being paid by Wilde's charity to the alms-houses.

Thomas Style (d. 1679) built two alms-houses adjoining the churchyard for 6 poor men and 6 poor women of Edmonton. In 1679 he endowed the alms-houses with part of a rent-charge of £66 on Dephams estate, of which £1 16s. a year was to be spent on repairs and £33 16s. a year on weekly payments of 1s. 1d. each to the almspeople.

John Lewitt of Palmers Green, by will dated 1771, bequeathed £800 stock yielding £24 a year which was distributed among the 12 inmates of Style's alms-houses. George Stanbridge of Edmonton, by will dated 1780, bequeathed £500 stock to the trustees of Wilde's and Style's alms-houses, who in 1823 distributed the income of £16 10s. amongst the 15 alms-people. Other charities for the benefit of the 15 inmates were those of Sarah Huxley, daughter of Thomas Huxley of Weir Hall, who bequeathed £1,000 yielding £38 a year by will dated 1800; Miss Catherine Tatem of Edmonton, who bequeathed £50 stock yielding £1 10s. by will dated 1812; Thomas Elliott, clock-maker of Edmonton, who by will dated 1824 bequeathed £450 stock, which in 1899 yielded £12; John Pitt, who bequeathed £100 stock yielding £3 a year by will dated 1826; (fn. 8) Edmund Slaughter of Edmonton, who by will proved 1832 bequeathed £500 stock, yielding £14 in 1899; (fn. 9) and William Skip of Edmonton, who left £100 stock yielding £3 a year subject to the repair of his vault, by will dated 1836. In 1861 Thomas Knight of Edmonton endowed the 15 alms-houses with £500 stock producing £13 15s. and in 1879 Hannah Whitbread gave £607 stock yielding £18, to maintain the buildings or benefit the inmates.

Several charities provided for benefits in kind. By will dated 1820 Sarah Slaughter directed that the interest on £50 stock was to be spent on Christmas dinner for the 15 alms-people. The interest was £1 10s. in 1867. Ann Larman, by will proved 1867, bequeathed £105 stock yielding £3 a year to buy coal for the inmates of Style's alms-houses. In 1892 George Bellis left £103 stock yielding £3 to buy coal for the 15 alms-people. By will proved 1892 Thomas William Rowley bequeathed £500 stock producing £14 to provide bread and coal for the 15 alms-people but by a Scheme of 1893 the money was to supplement their stipends.

The alms-people, in 1851 6 men and 9 women, mostly widows, (fn. 10) were chosen by the vestry until 1899 when full control passed to the trustees. The alms-houses were in disrepair in the 1740s and Style's alms-houses were rebuilt in 1754 and again in 1903 to the designs of H. W. Dobb. Nearly all the stock was sold in 1960 to modernize the buildings but the Ministry of Housing made a grant for the Charity Commissioners to reinvest.

In 1851 Thomas Knight gave two cottages which he had recently erected in Church Lane in trust to the Edmonton benefit society, for two old and handicapped members of the society or their widows. (fn. 11) The cottages, which Knight endowed with £50 stock yielding £1 5s. a year, were administered as part of the United charities under a Scheme of 1914. There were four widows in Knight's alms-houses in 1933 but in 1960 the cottages were demolished and six garages, each let at 15s. a week, were built on the site.

Pensioners' charities.

Henry Cade of Edmonton, yeoman, in 1578 gave a rent-charge of 6s. 8d. from a house, later the Cock public house, and 1 a. on the west of Hertford Road for the use of the poor. In 1823 it was added to the sacrament money and paid to the poor 'from time to time'.

By will proved 1579 (fn. 12) Richard Rogers the elder, a London goldsmith who lived in Edmonton, left all his freehold property in Edmonton and Tottenham in trust to pay, inter alia, (fn. 13) 1s. a week in bread and money to 6 of the poorest people of Edmonton and 13s. 4d. to the poor on the anniversary of his death. Rogers's nephew Richard Rogers the younger, Comptroller of the Mint, by will dated 1636, left a rent-charge of £2 to provide 6d. a week in money or bread for 6 poor people and 10s. 8d. for distribution among the poor on the first Sunday in August. Edward Rogers of Edmonton, son of Richard the younger, left a further rent-charge of £1 9s 4d. by will proved 1659, to be distributed, inter alia, as 6d. a week in bread to poor parishioners. In 1823 the total income of the Rogers charities, which were always distributed together, was £7 1s. 4d., from rent-charges on freehold estates in Fore Street, Church Street, and the marsh. Of this £5 4s. was paid in bread to 12 poor people every Sunday and £1 4s. to the poor on the first Sunday in August. The rent-charges were redeemed in 1934 and 1964.

By will dated 1614 John Wilde of Barking (Essex) gave a rent-charge of £2 a year upon premises in Fore Street, to buy twopenny-loaves for the poor of Edmonton each quarter. The rentcharge was redeemed in 1934.

Jasper Hallam, leatherseller of London, by will dated 1625, left £3 6s. 8d. out of a rent-charge on Bury farm to provide £2 worth of bread for the poor every Sunday in Lent and 6s. 8d. for a Lenten meal for the poor town-born people of Edmonton. The rent-charge was redeemed in 1903.

Among property devised by the Revd. Abraham Colfe to the Leathersellers' Company of London for charitable purposes, by will dated 1656, was 5 a. in Edmonton. A rent-charge of 8s. 8d. from part of the property on the east of Lower Fore Street was to buy two penny loaves each Sunday for two of the 'godliest and poorest' householders of Edmonton. (fn. 14) By 1823 the money was applied by the churchwardens in occasional charity to the poor.

By indenture and will dated 1677 Judith, widow of Penning Alston, grocer of London, conveyed copyhold property in trust to pay annuities and thereafter to provide £4 quarterly payments to the poor of Edmonton and £1 a year each to 16 other poor people. The property, in 1677 a house, 9 a. of common-field arable, and 2 a. of marsh-land, was exchanged at inclosure for a house and 7 a. at Tanners End and 5 a. of marsh-land. In 1819 the profits of £28 were distributed in quarterly payments of £1 to the poor and in £1 payments on 1 January to 20 poor annuitants. By 1867 the quarterly payments were given in bread and £78 was given in money. The marsh-land was sold in 1907 and the land at Tanners End in 1914 and 1928; the purchase money was invested for the benefit of the United charities.

Catherine Jackson, of the family which owned Broomfield, left £100 in trust for the poor of Southgate by will dated 1687. The poor received £5 a year until the capital, together with money from Maule's and Latymer's charities, was used to purchase land in Hammersmith. The rent therefrom was apportioned among the three charities, £3 10s. being allotted to Jackson's charity from 1768 and paid in bread or 5s. doles to the poor of Southgate. The rent had risen to £7 10s. by 1899 and was given to Southgate widows in 1902. (fn. 15) The land at Hammersmith was sold in 1913 and the money invested.

By will proved 1771 John Lewitt (fn. 16) bequeathed £100 stock, the interest on which was spent in bread for the poor. By will dated 1780 George Stanbridge bequeathed £400 stock, the interest to provide bread for the poor between Michaelmas and Lady Day. By 1823 £12 was distributed in bread. Margaret Uvedale (d. 1814), widow of RearAdmiral Samuel Uvedale, bequeathed £300 stock by will dated 1813. (fn. 17) The income was to maintain the vault of the family of William Washbourne, vicar of Edmonton, and to relieve the aged poor of Church Street ward on Christmas day. By 1819 there was £37 10s. interest, of which £2 10s. was spent on the vault and £35 distributed in £1 annuities.

By will proved 1828 John Field bequeathed £1,000 stock and by will proved 1836 Henry Field bequeathed £500 stock, to supply bread and coals for the poor. The interest from their combined charities was £45 in 1867. By will proved 1844 William Baker bequeathed £100 stock yielding £3 interest, to be paid to the elderly poor subject to the repair of a grave. By will proved 1858 Ann Jifkins left £47 stock, the interest to be used for repairing her husband's tomb and distributed to the poor of Church Street ward on Christmas day. By will proved 1878 Edward Board bequeathed £928 stock yielding £25 a year to provide money and clothing for 20 aged poor, with preference for natives or old residents of Edmonton and for those engaged in agriculture. The Oswin fund, founded by Mrs. Sarah Eleanor Browne by will proved 1901, consisted of £654 stock and £31 annuities.

Apprenticing charities.

By will proved 1665, John Wilde of Edmonton left £6 a year for apprenticing two sons of two poor widows of Edmonton to some trade in the City of London.

In 1679 Thomas Style gave £10 a year to apprentice one or two poor boys within the parish.

In 1724 Francis Chaplin and his wife Joyce conveyed the moiety of 6½ a. of marsh-land to be used after their deaths for the repair of Chaplin's vault in the church and for apprenticing a poor boy from Edmonton. Through neglect at inclosure the land was apportioned to others and only ½ a. at Jeremy's Green and £30 were allotted to the charity. By 1823 two cottages had been built and the rent of £3 3s. was applied in apprenticing one boy, although the trustees were criticized in 1849 for retaining the money or granting too little. The land was sold and the money invested in 1905. In 1933 it produced £17 a year.

Ecclesiastical charities. (fn. 18)

By will dated 1714 Thomas Maule bequeathed £100 for the benefit of 10 poor church-going widows. In 1737 the money, with money from Jackson's and Latymer's charities, was used to buy land in Hammersmith, the rent from which was divided among the charities. Until c. 1819 the £3 a year apportioned to Maule's charity was given to three inmates of Wilde's almshouses but thereafter it was given to 10 poor widows who regularly attended church. When the Ecclesiastical charities were instituted in 1899, Maule's charity produced £7 10s. a year. The land was sold in 1913 and by 1962 the income from Maule's charity had risen to £43, of which 15 poor widows received 10s. each and the remainder was paid into the sick and poor fund.

Southgate Charities. (fn. 19)

The charity of Sir John Weld of Arnolds (d. 1623) provided for payments of £13 6s. 8d. to 6 poor kindred and £2 12s. in bread to 12 poor widows of Southgate every Sunday. (fn. 20) By 1867 £31 4s. a year was distributed in bread and in 1973 the bread portion of the charity was administered by the Southgate relief committee.

Mrs. Sophia Walker, by will proved 1865, bequeathed £596 stock for educational and other charitable objects in Southgate. In 1899 £2 15s., the interest on £101 stock, was spent on medical or nursing needs. In 1973 the income was divided among the Southgate relief committee, Christ Church Sunday school, and St. Andrew's day school.

By will proved 1892 John Julian left £1,000 stock to provide £1 each for 20 poor widows of Christ Church parish in the week before Christmas and to divide the remaining interest in bread for the poor. In 1962 the income was £25, administered by Southgate relief committee.

Four of the Walker brothers made bequests for the benefit of the poor of Southgate. Frederick Walker, by will proved 1890, Vyell Edward Walker, by will proved 1906, and Russell Walker, by will proved 1907, each left £1,000 stock. In 1962 the income was £34, £33, and £33 respectively, administered by the Southgate relief committee. Isaac Donnithorne Walker left £500, which yielded £15 in 1962 and which the vicar of Southgate still administered for the poor of Southgate village in 1973.

By will dated 1826 Elizabeth Martin bequeathed £498 stock, the interest to be distributed to the poor of Christ Church. In 1970 the charity produced £12 which was given by the vicar in money and Christmas gifts to old age pensioners.

John Woolnough, by will proved 1939, left money to Southgate corporation to provide Christmas dinners and coal for old people. Trustees were appointed by a Scheme of 1961 and in 1973 the income was under £250.

Other charities for the poor.

There was a group of charities for medical and nursing purposes: Elizabeth Whitehead bequeathed £116 stock yielding £3 4s. in 1800, Mrs. Frances Smith bequeathed £272 yielding £7 9s. 8d. in 1811, and Edmund Slaughter bequeathed £107 stock yielding £2 19s in 1831. By 1872 there was also a lying-in charity, of which the origin is unknown, which in 1899 consisted of £150 stock yielding £4 2s. 4d. By a Scheme of 1940 its administration passed to the trustees of the United charities.

Mrs. Esther Doe, by deed in 1863 and by will in 1872, left houses and stock yielding an annual income of £447 which was to be spent on the almshouses.

The Bush prize fund, founded in 1869, provided £10 a year from £250 stock to be used for apprenticing children.

George Ringrose, by will proved 1885, left £92 stock producing £2 11s. to be spent in coal, bread, and money for the deserving poor of Edmonton. The income in 1966 was £2 6s. 4d.

Isaac Padman, by will dated 1818, left £500 to be invested, the income to be applied to the religious and 'respectable' poor of Winchmore Hill. By a Scheme of 1893 the income of £24 a year was to be applied in nursing, provident clubs, clothes, or temporary relief to the residents of the ecclesiastical district of Winchmore Hill, the rest of Edmonton parish, and Enfield or any adjoining parish. In 1965 the income was £20, which the ministers of Winchmore Hill Congregational church and Christ Church Congregational church, Enfield, distributed in coal, bedding, and clothes.

By will proved 1880 Peregrine Hogg Purvis of Winchmore Hill left £2,000 to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Paul, Winchmore Hill, the interest to be distributed annually before Christmas in £1-gifts to 50 poor inhabitants of Winchmore Hill, irrespective of creed but with preference to residents in Highfield Row. In 1966 the income was £53. He also left £100 stock, producing £2 15s. in 1899, to nonconformist bodies, £200 stock producing £5 10s. for church purposes, and £200 stock producing £5 10s. for education.

Elizabeth Winsdale, by will proved 1887, left £500 for the sick poor of the parish of St. James, Upper Edmonton. The sum was invested and produced £13 a year in 1964. In addition to his bequest to the alms-houses Thomas William Rowley, by will proved 1892, bequeathed £200 stock yielding £5 10s. a year to the poor of St. James's parish. Edward Chapman, by will proved 1902, bequeathed £250, the income to provide coal for the poor of St. James's at Christmas. In 1969 the income of some £7 was spent on coal for 3 persons. Maria Linzell, by will proved 1920, bequeathed £50 to augment offertories for the poor, defray the cost of church work, or benefit the parish charities of St. James's. The income was £3 in 1964.

By will proved 1937 Frances Isabella Hammond bequeathed £300 to maintain a tomb in St. Mary's, Edmonton, any residue to benefit the sick and poor of the parish. The income in 1966 was £10, spent on groceries and other necessities.


  • 1. Except where otherwise stated, the section is based on Char. Com. files and material supplied by the clerk of Edmonton United chars. (1973); 9th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 258, pp. 178-87 (1823), ix; Analytical Digest of Reps. from 1832, H.C. 115, pp. 418-19 (1835), xi; Gen. Digest of Endowed Chars. H.C. 433, pp. 14-15 (1867-8), lii, pt. 1; Endowed Chars. (Mdx.), H.C. 306, pp. 6-9 (1899), lxx; Acct. of Edmonton Par. Chars. (1819), reps. and procs. of Edmonton par. chars. investigation cttee. (1849) penes Edmonton Publ. Libr. (E360).
  • 2. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), vi, p. xiii.
  • 3. Prob. 11/27 (P.C.C. F30 Dyngeley).
  • 4. Prob. 11/34 (P.C.C. F31 Bucke).
  • 5. Robinson, Edmonton, 142-78.
  • 6. Ex inf. the sec., Southgate relief cttee. (1973).
  • 7. Prob. 11/316 (P.C.C. 9 Hyde, will of John Wilde).
  • 8. Subject to the repair of his vault and tombstone.
  • 9. C 54/10899 nos. 3-4.
  • 10. H.O. 107/1703 p. 195.
  • 11. C 54/14336 no. 3.
  • 12. Prob. 11/61 (P.C.C. 22 Baker).
  • 13. See Eccl. chars, above, p. 182.
  • 14. 10th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 103, p. 261 (1824), xiii.
  • 15. Mason, Story of Southgate, 46.
  • 16. For Lewitt's benefaction to the alms-hos., see above.
  • 17. Robinson, Edmonton, 91-2.
  • 18. Most of the Ecclesiastical chars. have been treated above, p. 182.
  • 19. Recent inf. supplied by the sec., Southgate relief cttee. (1973).
  • 20. Prob. 11/141 (P.C.C. 20 Swann); see p. 184.