Enfield: Charities for the poor

Pages 257-260

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 hospital, mentioned in 1568 (fn. 2) and again in 1605, (fn. 3) apparently had no connexion with later alms-houses. The unused balances of five charities were combined in 1805 to purchase £700 stock, the income of which was distributed in bread to the poor. The charities, however, continued to be administered separately until 1888, when seven of the more important were consolidated as the Enfield parochial charities, the bulk of whose income was to provide pensions for unrelieved parishioners. In 1904 £800 stock was appropriated for education and in 1905 a further 18 charities (fn. 4) were included among the Enfield parochial charities. In 1968 the income of the combined charities was £11,779 and the expenditure £12,484, of which £6,226 was spent on pensions, grants, and fuel, £298 on the alms-houses, and £3,960 on maintaining the market-place and other properties, the rents and profits from which accounted for most of the income. There was a balance in hand of £16,627.

The first alms-houses were built in Turkey Street by Anne Crowe, who, by will dated 1763, left £500 stock in trust to repair them and to buy coal for the inmates. A further £200 stock was bequeathed by the Revd. C. W. Bollaerts, by will proved 1863. The modern alms-houses, four two-roomed apartments in a red-brick single-storeyed range with a steeplypitched roof and tall chimneys, were built at the expense of H. C. B. Bowles of Myddelton House in 1893, partly on land given by him. In 1960 the charity had an income of no more than £18 a year and by a Scheme of 1961 it became one of the Enfield parochial charities.

Charles Wright in 1848 settled alms-houses which he had built at Enfield Highway in trust for the benefit of six aged widows who had lived for at least a year at Enfield Wash, Enfield Highway, Green Street, South Street, or Ponders End. (fn. 5) He also gave a rent-charge on houses in the parish of St. Luke, Old Street, to provide each widow with £10 a year and a ton of coal at Christmas. The charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities in 1905 and the property in St. Luke's parish had been sold for investment by 1964. Wright's alms-houses consisted of a plain brick building, with a central pediment dated 1847, in 1972.

In 1516 the parish bought a house called Prounces, probably that occupied by John Prouns in 1399, with its adjacent grounds. (fn. 6) Enfield grammar school was built next to the house soon after 1586 (fn. 7) and in 1623, when the estate was settled in trust, the house was reserved as a schoolmaster's residence. The rest of the property was leased out and the rents were applied for unspecified charitable purposes within the parish. The King's Head inn, south of the school, was later built on ground belonging to the charity and in 1793 a building called the old coffee house, later the church school of industry, occupied the site of Prounces, another house having been found for the schoolmaster. The charity was allotted 2 a. on Enfield Chase in 1806, under the Inclosure Act of 1801. The school and the schoolmaster's house were included in a Scheme governing the grammar school in 1874, while the remaining endowments, consisting of the King's Head and 2 a. adjoining it with an annual income of £63, were transferred in 1888 to the Enfield parochial charities.

By deed of 1558 £6 13s. 4d. a year from land called Poynetts at South Benfleet and Hadleigh (Essex), formerly the endowment of a chantry in Enfield parish church, (fn. 8) was set aside for the schoolmaster at Enfield, the remaining profits being devoted to the poor. (fn. 9) The land was conveyed to trustees in 1621, when the schoolmaster's salary was raised to £20. By the early 19th century the profits seem to have been devoted entirely to the upkeep of the grammar school, although they were administered as part of a general fund which combined the incomes of several other charities for the poor, a procedure which led to much confusion. (fn. 10) There is no evidence that the income from Poynetts was subsequently devoted to the poor. In 1816 it was invested in land.

Thomas Wilson of London, brewer, by will dated 1590, left the profits of three houses in Whitechapel as pensions to six poor men of Enfield. In 1614 the property was settled in trust. One of the houses was sold in 1803 for £1,260 and the purchase money invested in stock. In 1888, when the charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities, its annual income was £210 from the rents of nos. 2-3 Whitechapel High Street and £68 from £2,281 stock. The remaining houses were sold in 1960.

Jasper Nicholl left £50 to the poor of Enfield, with which his executors bought the Bull and Bell at Horsepool Stones, together with 3 a. in Long and East fields in 1612. The estate was farmed for £3 a year and the lease bought by the parish in 1620. In 1823 the annual income was £32, of which £25 was used to relieve two aged women and to provide bread. In 1861 the land was leased for building and Jasper Road was constructed. In 1888, when the charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities, its annual income was £60, derived mainly from rents in Jasper Road. Some of the remaining land was sold to Enfield U.D.C. in 1913.

When Enfield market was established in 1618 (fn. 11) the profits were reserved for the poor. In 1632 the parish purchased a building called the Vine at Enfield Green as a market-house, the rents of which swelled the income of the charity. The house was later replaced by a market cross. (fn. 12) Under the inclosure award of 1806 3 a. on the former Chase was allotted to the market-place charity, whose income was combined with that of Prounce's charity and paid before 1814 to the master of Enfield grammar school. In 1823, however, £20 of the two charities' total income of £36 was being paid as a pension to a widow; £12 came from the marketplace charity and consisted of the rents of five houses on the western side of the market-place. The houses were demolished after 1847 (fn. 13) and in 1888, when the charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities, its annual income was £9 10s., from market tolls and dues and the rent of the Chase allotment. By the mid 20th century the parochial charities were drawing much of their income from the market, including £912 in 1968 for the rents of stalls and another large sum from car-parking fees in the market-place.

John David, by will dated 1620, devised the house later known as the Greyhound inn, on the east side of Enfield Green (afterwards the market-place), for four poor widows. Five houses were built north of the Greyhound and were replaced soon after 1788 by a terrace. The charity was allotted 4 a. on the Chase in 1806 and the annual income was £41 in 1823. The charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities in 1888, when the income was £180. The Greyhound, which had long ceased to be an inn, was leased in 1893 to the London and Provincial Bank, which built a bank on its site in 1899 and paid a ground rent of £120 per annum to the parochial charities.

James I was said to have given £200 to Enfield as compensation for inclosing part of the Chase within Theobalds Park. With that sum the parishioners bought 30 a. called Marshes and Devizes at North Mimms (Herts.), which were settled in trust in 1622, and devoted the profits to any general use concerning Enfield or its poor. The estate was sold under an Act of 1808 (fn. 14) for £1,740, which was invested in stock. In 1816 the trustees, together with those of Poynett's charity, purchased the 184-acre Edwards Hall estate at Eastwood (Essex), of which 95 a. south of the road from Rayleigh to Southend were considered as the endowment of King James's charity and the rest as that of Poynett's charity. (fn. 15) The annual rent of the southern part of the estate amounted to £40 in 1888, when King James's charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities. The property, later known as Lower Edwards Hall farm, was sold in 1922 and the purchase money, £3,562, invested in stock.

George Cock of St. James's, Clerkenwell, by will dated 1635, left £30 from which the income was to buy bread for the poor. A house and close at Clay Hill were purchased and in 1806 the charity was allotted 1 a. out of the former Chase. In 1829 the premises at Clay Hill were exchanged for a building used as the vestry clerk's office at Enfield Town and in 1905, when the charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities, the rents from the building accounted for most of the annual income of £67.

William Billings, by will dated 1659, gave a rentcharge of £1 on lands in Enfield and a house at Clay Hill for clothing poor children. By will dated 1666 Ann Osborne of St. Saviour's, Southwark, gave the parish of Enfield £100 to buy lands, which would provide an income for poor widows and the education of one or more orphans. In 1672 her bequest was used to purchase the lands subject to the rent-charge of £1 under Billings's will. The combined charity was awarded 3 a. on the Chase under the award of 1806 but the rest of the lands were sold in 1816 and 1888 and the proceeds invested in stock. In 1888, when the charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities, its income was £29. The allotment from the Chase, fronting Lower Gordon Road, was exchanged in 1886 for an adjoining plot, which was sold for £2,500 in 1897, when the proceeds were invested.

Elizabeth Anne Eaton, by will dated 1806, gave her estate at Enfield to be divided between six poor widows. Since the will was imperfect and in default of heirs, the property escheated to the lords of the manors of Enfield and Worcesters. James Meyer, lord of Worcesters, sold the 14 a. in his manor, invested the proceeds together with £390 from his own funds in £2,000 stock, and appointed trustees to divide the income among the six widows. By a Scheme of 1955 the charity, whose annual income was £60, was included with the Enfield parochial charities.

Thomas Wroth, (fn. 16) after a decision of the duchy of Lancaster court in 1547, gave a rent-charge of £1 7s. 6d. (fn. 17) for unspecified charitable purposes, as compensation for inclosing 55 a. in Stonards field. The money was later spent on bread for the poor. Robert Rampston, by will dated 1585, gave a rentcharge of £2 on his lands, later known as Strood Hall farm, in Little Canfield, Little Easton, and Great Dunmow (Essex), for the relief of the poor. William Smith, by will dated 1592, gave a rentcharge of £4 on his lands in Enfield for distribution among the poor. John Deycrowe, by will dated 1627, gave a rent-charge of £4 on property in Green Street for the relief of the poor. The rent-charge was redeemed c. 1895 and the proceeds were invested in stock. Henry Loft, by will dated 1631, gave rentcharges of £12 for the relief of six poor widows, £4 for clothing the poor, and £4 for a lecturer at the parish church, (fn. 18) charged upon his lands in Enfield and Chigwell (Essex). Thomas Pigot, by will dated 1681, gave a rent-charge of 10s. on his property in Enfield to provide bread for the poor of Ponders End. The charity was lost by 1823. Richard Darby, by will dated 1735, gave £100 to be distributed among the poor of Ponders End. In 1776 the accumulated funds were invested in £333 stock, which in 1905 produced £8 a year. Mary Nicholl, by will dated 1751, gave the interest on £50 to buy bread for the poor. In 1905 the income of the charity was £1 from £53 stock. Frederick Maurer, by will dated 1772, gave £50 to the poor. Stock worth £57 was bought and in 1813 augmented by a further £43 stock purchased from the accumulated balances of other charities administered by the vicar and churchwardens. In 1905 the charity had an income of £2 10s.

When the Chase was divided under the Act of 1777, Enfield parish was allotted 200 a. west of Chase Side, which it inclosed and leased out in aid of the land tax and poor-rates. After half had been sold to redeem land tax in 1800 the remainder, called the Hundred Acres, continued to be administered by the churchwardens as trustees. Its rents supplemented the poor-rates until it was gradually sold during the 20th century, when the proceeds were invested in stock which was worth £131,324 in 1962. The annual income was c. £6,000 in 1970, when, following the formation of Enfield L.B., it was allowed to accumulate pending a decision of the Charity Commissioners. (fn. 19) Proceeds from the sale of timber on the Enfield allotment of the Chase also supplemented the poor-rates; by 1801 £2,668 had been raised and invested (fn. 20) and in 1895 the parish derived an annual income of £416 from £15,132 stock. (fn. 21)

Joseph Ellsom, by will dated 1797, gave the interest on £200 to two poor widows or spinsters over the age of 60. The residue of his estate, which amounted to £313, was also invested and the proceeds were devoted to the relief of two more widows. In 1905 the income of the charity was £16, derived from £640 stock. Thomas Dickason, by will dated 1813, gave the interest on £200 to the poor, with preference to the widows of householders. In 1905 the income of the charity was £7 from £285 stock. Frances Claxton, by will dated 1817, gave £333 stock for the upkeep of her grave, with the residue for the relief of a widow aged at least 60. In 1905 the income of the charity was £8. John Francis Mesturas, by will dated 1817, gave £50 to the poor. In 1905 the income of the charity was £1 from £50 stock. Avice Kelham (d. 1841), by will dated 1829, gave the interest on £1,000 stock to provide coal for aged widows. In 1905 the income of the charity was £25. Ann Gough, by codicil dated 1830, gave £200 to the poor. The sum was invested in £220 stock, which produced £5 10s. a year in 1905. Thomas Weston gave money at an unknown date in the 19th century, the income from which was to augment Thomas Dickason's gift. In 1905 the income of 9s. 8d. was derived from £20 stock.

Joseph Smith, by will proved 1870, left the proceeds from the sale of his pictures and other effects for the benefit of two poor communicants of Enfield parish church, two of Enfield Baptist chapel, and two of the Congregational church in Baker Street. The bequest did not take effect until the death of Smith's niece in 1905. In 1967 the income of the charity, which was not administered by the Enfield parochial charities, was £4 from £71 stock.

William Clark, by will proved 1881, left money to buy clothing for poor widows. His charity became one of the Enfield parochial charities under a Scheme of 1929. In 1960 the income was £16 from £625 stock. Georgiana Hannah Twells, by will proved 1899, gave the interest on £1,000 for clothes and blankets for the poor of the ecclesiastical district of St. Mary Magdalene each winter. The charity, which remained separate, in 1966 had an income of £25, derived from £1,060 stock. James Foote Clunie, by will proved 1910, gave his house, Handsworth Lodge, London Road, to be sold on the death of his wife to provide coal and general relief for the poor. In 1960 the income of the charity, which was administered by the Enfield parochial charities, was £8 from £279 stock. Eliza Peel, by will proved 1911, gave the interest on £100 to maintain her family's graves, with the surplus to provide clothing for four widows. The charity, which was not one of the Enfield parochial charities, had an income in 1966 of £4 from £124 stock.


  • 1. Except where otherwise stated, the section is based on 9th Rep. Com. Char. 187-208; H. C. Weld, Enfield Charities (1895); and Char. Com. files.
  • 2. Hist. MSS. Com. 6, 7th Rep., W. M. Molyneux, p. 621.
  • 3. Hist. MSS. Com. 9, Hatfield House, xvii, p. 97.
  • 4. Including Sir Nicholas Raynton's char. for apprenticing.
  • 5. Tuff, Enfield, 117.
  • 6. Tuff, Enfield, 119.
  • 7. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 294-5.
  • 8. See p. 245.
  • 9. Tuff, Enfield, 132.
  • 10. Robinson, Enfield, ii. 174, 177.
  • 11. See p. 237.
  • 12. See p. 214.
  • 13. Vestry min. bk. (1840-52), 139-40.
  • 14. 48 Geo. III, c. 156.
  • 15. See above.
  • 16. Except where otherwise stated, the foll. were all included among the Enfield parochial chars. in 1905.
  • 17. 6d. for each acre inclosed.
  • 18. See p. 246.
  • 19. Char. Com. files; ex inf. Mr. A. H. Hall.
  • 20. Vestry order bk. (1797-1807), 143.
  • 21. Weld, Enfield Chars. 41.