Finchley: Charities for the poor

Pages 97-100

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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From 1562 the same trustees managed all the charity estates originating in late-15th-and early-16th-century gifts and later including the alms-houses. In 1892 the estates were amalgamated with those distributive charities not administered by the parish, to form the Finchley Parochial Charities.

Charity estates.

In 1488 Robert Warren of Finchley was demised a house, garden, and croft called Ryefield, held of Bibbesworth manor. He settled Ryefield in 1488 (fn. 2) and the house and garden in 1489 (fn. 3) in trust to provide ornaments for Finchley church and repair the church and highways, any residual income to be distributed among the poor on Mid Lent Sunday. (fn. 4) In 1547 6s. 8d. was given to the poor and £1 remained for other purposes. (fn. 5) Ryefield alias Barleyfield, known also as Warren's first gift, was c. 11 a. at Church End between Dollis brook and Nether Street. In 1757 it consisted of two tenements and Homefield and Great and Little John's fields. (fn. 6) It was let at £18 in 1682, £42 in 1794, and £67 12s. from 1815. The tenements were demolished before 1810 and replaced by Brent Lodge (fn. 7) between 1817 and 1824. The whole, known as the Brent Lodge estate, was alienated in 1854 for a rent-charge of £60, (fn. 8) which was still paid in 1976. Warren's second gift, the house and garden, became three tenements, which had been reduced to two by 1803, when they yielded £9 rent. One building was occupied from 1813 by St. Mary's National school, which held it at the preferential rent of £12 in 1824. The other was then a shoemaker's shop and was later let to paupers. Both cottages were let in 1882 on an 80-year building lease to William Royal, on whose bankruptcy nos. 1-3 Royal Terrace, later nos. 50-54 Hendon Lane, were incomplete. They were let by the charity for 70 years from 1890 and at £600 rent from 1960.

In 1506 Thomas Sanny enfeoffed trustees with property including a house and the crofts of Fore Ryders and Stukefield held of Bibbesworth manor for 1s. 3½d. rent. By will dated 1509 he left £2 a year from the house and Stukefield for the good of his soul and 6s. 8d. for the repair of his house and the highways and other charitable purposes. (fn. 9) The rent-charge, from which £1 18s. 8½d. remained for charitable purposes in 1547, (fn. 10) was forfeited under the Chantries Act and granted in 1549 to John Hulson and William Pendered, respectively a scrivener and a 'founder' of London, (fn. 11) who conveyed it to Hugh Losse. (fn. 12) Hugh's infant son Robert was found to be his heir in 1555, (fn. 13) but a second jury traversed the inquisition (fn. 14) and in 1561 the Court of Wards restored not merely the charge but the estate from which it arose to the charity trustees.

Sanny's gift consisted of a tenement fronting East End Road and fields behind stretching to the modern Market Place, East Finchley. The house had become the Five Bells inn by 1757, when the land formed Homefield and Poor Toms field. (fn. 15) There were also two cottages in 1803 when the inn was let as a workhouse to the parish, which sub-let it and in 1807 surrendered the lease. All the buildings were replaced in 1812 with the three Homefield Cottages, paid for largely by the sale of timber and let at £39 in 1824 and £59 in 1884. (fn. 16) The estate was divided by the G.N.R. in 1864, adjacent land opening into Market Place was bought in 1866, (fn. 17) and there were nine gardens and fields by 1884. (fn. 18) In 1890 leases were granted on the seven Stanley Villas facing East End Road. East of Stanley Road eight terraced houses were leased for 99 years in 1900; to the west lay allotments by 1896 and Homefield Cottages, one of which had become Homefield garage by 1951. The land north of the railway was sold piecemeal from 1929, Finchley council buying the last 1½ a. of Poor Toms field in 1964. Stanley Villas by 1977 had been replaced by eighteen town houses off Stanley Road. Homefield Cottages and garage had been demolished by 1972 and, with help from the Housing Corporation, two three-storeyed blocks of 38 alms-houses called Homefields were being built in 1977.

Sanny's feoffees also held four crofts and a meadow called Pointalls of Finchley manor for 4s. 4d. rent in 1525, when they settled them in trust with Sanny's gift. The terms of the trust were unknown in 1547, when the income of 9s. was spent on the poor. (fn. 19) The estate passed to the Crown with the chantries and in 1551 was granted to Henry Tanner and Thomas Butcher of London, (fn. 20) who immediately conveyed it to Hugh Losse, but in 1561, by decree of the Court of Wards, Pointalls was restored to the surviving trustees.

Four parish alms-houses had been built by 1614 on part of Pointalls meadow. (fn. 21) Customarily rentfree in 1723, they were condemned in 1739 and rebuilt as six double alms-houses mainly at the expense of Thomas Brandon (d. 1744). There were 16 inmates, 40 years' old and more, in 1805, 13 aged inmates in 1850, and 14 in 1886. Between 1803 and 1824 the alms-houses cost a total of only £85 in repairs and Christmas gifts to the inmates. In 1836 the trustees granted weekly pensions of 2s., which in 1876 were raised to 3s.; in 1886 the inmates' pensions ranged from 2s. 6d. to 10s., together amounting to £126 a year, and Christmas gifts were £2 17s. 6d. By 1860 most alms-people were receiving poorrelief. Although three widows who were constantly drunk had been replaced in 1817, evictions were said to be never necessary in 1886, when alms-people were chosen from aged paupers long resident in Finchley.

Administered with the other charity estates and lying between Long and Oak lanes and the modern North Circular Road, where it totalled 11 a. in 1757, Pointalls was often threatened with encroachment: c. 1823¾ a. had to be bought for £350 to restore its unity. In addition to the alms-houses built on Pointalls by 1614 (fn. 22) there was a brick house by 1757; (fn. 23) the house was beyond repair in 1824, when the trustees vainly hoped to let the whole estate for building. From c. 1834 some and from c. 1900 most of Pointalls was let as allotments, which were resumed by Finchley Parochial Charities in 1967. In 1969 2 a. were let to Simms Motor Co. (later CAV Ltd.), in 1971 Barnet L.B. bought 108 a. of Pointalls and the trustees' allotment (fn. 24) for £441,000 and in 1972 a small plot was let for an electricity sub-station, 3½ a. being reserved for additional almshouses.

In 1547 parishioners assembled at the church house, which they had built at their own expense near the churchyard and which they let for 8s., paid towards the church. (fn. 25) The house and garden, with the neighbouring clerk's house and various groves and hedgerows, were held from 1562 with the charity estates. The church house was let subject to reasonable access until 1718, when it became the Queen's Head inn. The rent rose steadily to £50 by 1824 and the inn was rebuilt after having been destroyed by arson in 1836. As Finchley Hall, the building was leased to the rector for a middle-class school, later Christ's College, in 1857 and to Finchley U.D.C. for municipal offices in 1902. After being bombed in 1944 the 2-a. site was used for temporary storage until 1959, when the council bought it for £4,000, later building a library there. The clerk's house, which was let at only £1 in 1674, was replaced by two timber houses before 1776. (fn. 26) In 1824 one was let to a poor widow and the other was a chandler's shop. One or both may have been rebuilt in 1849 and one was a brick house and the other a timber cottage unfit for habitation in 1879. Both were leased to the rector and churchwardens from 1884, one being replaced by the modern reading room. The other, described as the clerk's house, was dilapidated c. 1940, when it suffered bomb damage, but survived in 1977.

The Finchley inclosure award allotted the trustees c. 6 a., (fn. 27) of which ½ a. was let with Sanny's gift and the rest formed a block between High and Sylvester roads and Oak Lane, separated from Pointalls by a footpath. The estate was neglected in 1823 when it was let on a 50-year lease, under which Oak and Edgell cottages were built fronting High Road by 1826 (fn. 28) and Leicester House by 1851. The land at the rear was let as allotments from 1892. Oak and Edgell cottages were demolished between 1967 and 1970, when Leicester House remained, with allotments and nursery land behind. In 1971 the estate was sold with Pointalls to Barnet L.B.

Expenditure in the 16th century was left to the churchwardens and by the mid 17th century to the trustees or one of them acting as warden of the charities. In 1672 the warden's power to authorize expenditure was restricted to sums under £2 but an unsuccessful attempt to curb the trustees in 1684 left them free from parochial control but resulted in provision for approval of new trustees and audit by the justices. After 1857 the rector and parish officers were excluded from the annual audit, to which they had been admitted as observers since 1668. The trustees tried to resist encroachments on the lands, ordered surveys, repaired buildings, and apparently tried to enhance the estates' value with building leases from 1760. The income rose from £65 10s. in 1671 to £90 in 1740, £170 in 1805, £278 in 1824, £303 in 1868, and £526 in 1885; it sufficed for normal expenditure and permitted savings for rebuilding and special acts of charity.

In 1612 the charities' income was to provide £2 for bread on Mid Lent Sunday, the residue to be spent on the church, highways, poor-relief, and other charitable purposes. Maintenance of the almshouses was also an object in 1684. Highways often involved major works and in 1824 the trustees helped to repair all ways leading to the church. Wells and pumps, with highways, cost £1,410 or almost a third of the total expenditure between 1803 and 1824. Over the same period £686 was spent on the church, including salaries of the organist, organ-blower, and clock-maker. Contributions were also made towards the adornment and repair of the church: £250 subscribed for a new gallery in 1805 was much criticized. In addition £413 was spent on coal and £224 on bread between 1803 and 1824, although only £2 was spent on bread in the three years before 1824. Barley loaves were given away in the famine years of 1697-8 and £75 was spent on bread in 1796 and £67 in 1800. In 1825, in preference to spending more on bread, the trustees assisted apprentices, as in 1675 and 1699, and from 1809 they contributed towards the National school. In 1824 several cottages were let at low rents to the poor, as had been done in 1675 in lieu of poor-relief. The feoffees also maintained the alms-houses, giving the inmates fuel and cloth and from 1836 pensioning them. Other pensions were paid by 1860 and nine outpensioners received a total of £2 5s. a week in 1886. Contributions to church paths and highways ceased in 1853 and 1866 but by 1848 gifts were made to new Anglican churches and schools. Land was also let as allotments.

While they often co-operated with the vestry, the trustees refused merely to relieve the rates, whether for the church in 1684 or the highways as in 1866. They were continually criticized from 1850: in 1857 a memorial sought more expenditure on the church, the highways, and the poor, and in 1859 the vestry claimed that gifts to district churches were illegal and that the trustees were unrepresentative. Dissension grew in the 1880s, (fn. 29) when successive vestries appointed committees to influence the trustees, until in 1892, after litigation, Chancery established a Scheme amalgamating the charity estates with several distributive charities. (fn. 30)

Finchley Parochial Charities.

Under the Chancery Scheme of 1892 trustees would ultimately be single nominees of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the rector, and the churchwardens and overseers, four nominees of the vestry, and four co-opted trustees, although the Scheme was modified by the Local Government Act, 1894. All the fuel fund's land was to consist of allotments and other estates were to serve a similar purpose. In 1899 allotment-holders opposed plans to build on the land constituting Sanny's gift and in 1972 they defeated a planning application for the fuel land. The income from the fuel land was still to provide coal, of which £100 worth was distributed in 1919 and annually between 1968 and 1972, usually among the alms-people and pensioners; any surplus went to the Finchley District Nursing Association by 1939, when the trustees vainly sought confirmation of the practice. Finchley church was to receive £50 a year and the district churches were to share £100 until 1976, when a Scheme amended the sums to £700 and £1,400. Provision was also made in 1892 for the alms-houses, pensions, and a wide range of discretionary payments; the last were redefined in 1955 but of little importance in 1977.

The combined incomes of the charity estates and the distributive charities, which had totalled £679 in 1885, were augmented by bequests after 1892. Edwin Layton gave £25 for pensions to old people awaiting admission to the alms-houses in 1903 and F. A. Hamilton of Brent Lodge gave £500 for the same purpose in 1904. The trustees in 1904 received £64 stock left by Mrs. Sophia Low and later a further £25 bequeathed to her executor John Yates Paterson. By 1925 the sums had been consolidated as £637 stock known as the donation fund, yielding £14 a year.

Further bequests included £1,000, evidently given by one Laming to augment the pensions. William Alfred Taylor (d. 1941) left the residue of his estate after his wife's death to provide pensions of 7s. 6d. for poor residents of Finchley; £5,841 was ultimately received, most of it in 1955. Ellen Maria Hall bequeathed one-sixth of her residuary estate, amounting to £300 received in 1952. Finchley Charities' income was £823 in 1919 and £940 in 1922: of £580 spent in 1919, £150 was given to churches, £100 in fuel, and £300 to the alms-houses and pensioners. The income grew to £1,350 by 1954 and more rapidly thereafter. Although sales of land paid for additional alms-houses, the income reached £5,915 in 1969 and £40,931 in 1972. Much of the money from the sale of Pointalls was spent on building.

The alms-houses, under the Scheme of 1892, were to be rebuilt as twelve, for old inhabitants not receiving poor-relief. Pensions of 6s. were to be paid to inmates and 10s. 6d. to married couples. Pensions of not more than £15 a year might be granted to non-residents and a ceiling of £270, later £300, was placed on all pensions combined. Plans for the new alms-houses were ready by 1893 and carried out soon afterwards. There were 18 alms-people, including 6 couples, in 1918, 14 in 1952, and 12 in 1954, shortly before a communal room was converted into an extra alms-house. Pensions were reduced by a Scheme of 1910 but temporary increases for inmates were allowed in 1918 and 1924. In 1918 the inmates received from 2s. 6d. to 10s. a week and eighteen others received 2s. 6d. and in 1954 both alms-people and others received 6s. 6d. A Scheme of 1955 raised the ceiling on pensions to £400 and permitted new building. Four extra alms-houses were finished in 1958 and another eight by 1969, when the estate had been renamed Wilmot Close. A further 26 units for 30 old people and a steward's house were later built, providing a total of 50 units for 60 almspeople. Annual expenditure on Wilmot Close rose from £2,447 in 1968 to £3,383 in 1972, while pensions increased from £485 to £542. By a Scheme of 1976, ability to contribute towards the running costs of the alms-houses might be made a qualification for admittance.

Distributive charities.

Thomas Cleave gave £50 to buy a rent-charge of £2 16s. to provide thirteen penny loaves for distribution among the poor of Finchley every Sunday. In 1636 a rent-charge was bought to supply the twelve poorest churchgoers, including the sexton, who also received the thirteenth loaf for administering the charity. In 1824 the net income was £2 10s. 10d. and distribution was normally to widows at the church, although the sexton had recently been told to make it to children at the National school.

Roger Hayton in 1663 gave a rent-charge of £2 12s. on a house for distribution of 1s. worth of bread every Sunday. The house had been demolished by 1729, when the charity was defunct.

Thomas Tickner in 1667 was granted land from Finchley common to enlarge the grounds of the later Lodge House, subject to perpetual payments of £2 to the poor and £2 to repair the church causeways. The charge was extinguished under the Finchley inclosure award.

William Haynes's and William Nicholl's bequests of rent-charges of £2 were recorded on a table of benefactions in 1734. Joseph Newton was then recorded as the payer of 12s. 6d. a year from Mill House.

William Norris by will dated 1809 left £300 in trust to pay for repairs to his family tomb, the residue to be distributed in bread or money; £270 was invested to yield £12 4s. 10d. in 1824, when any residue was spent on bread or occasionally distributed in money or coals. Meat and groceries were supplied in 1865.

John Orsley in 1810 left money in trust to provide bread. The income was spent on blankets in 1864-5 and amounted to £7 16s. 6d. in 1868.

Under the inclosure award 17 a. were allotted and let at £40, to provide coal for the poor. In 1824 every chosen family received a sack and the residue was divided according to need. After 1868 a plot was sold to the G.N.R. and c. 1875 2 a. were sold to Samuel Wimbush, the proceeds being invested. In 1885 there was an income of £46 from rents and £65 from dividends. Prolonged pressure led the trustees c. 1888 to convert the remaining 15½ a. to allotments, which were still used in 1977.

Alexander Murray in 1829 bequeathed £400 stock for the repair of his tomb and distribution of bread. The income was spent on groceries in 1864-5 and amounted to £12 in 1868.

Francis Matthews by codicil dated 1830 left £200 stock for the repair of his tomb and bread for the poor. In 1864-5 the income was spent on groceries and coal and in 1868 it amounted to £6.

Jane Andrews by will proved 1849 left £100 subject to repairs to her tomb for distribution in fuel. The income was spent on groceries in 1865 and yielded £2 17s. 9d. in 1868.

Mrs. Sharma Jemima Clarinda Morison in 1860 left £100 for distribution of fuel. The income was spent on coal in 1865 and yielded £3 3s. 7d. in 1868.

The charities of Cleave, Norris, Orsley, Murray, Andrews, and Morison, with the fuel fund established under the inclosure award, became part of Finchley Parochial Charities in 1892.

James Lermitte in 1858 gave £200 stock, half of the income to maintain his tombstone and be distributed among the poor and half to assist the National schools. In 1861 the transaction was completed by his executors and in 1905 the Charity Commission divided the stock into an educational and an eleemosynary charity, the latter to be devoted entirely to the poor of the chapelry. In 1965-6 the income of c. £2 7s. was distributed by the vicar of Holy Trinity.

John Anthonie Bradshaw (d. 1884) left £500 to provide annual distribution of groceries and coals to at least 60 poor parishioners. In 1965 the income of £11 4s. was added to a large balance and in 1966 only £5 was distributed by the rector, but from 1967 expenditure greatly exceeded income. Most payments were contributions of £1 5s. (£2 in 1971) towards fuel for between 7 and 24 people. From 1969 distribution was by the Finchley Guild of Social Service.

Ann Sims (d. 1942) left the residue of her estate totalling £2,536 towards a trust fund for distressed gentlefolk or other poor persons in Finchley. Trustees were established by a Scheme in 1948 and there was an income of £70 from 1965 to 1971. In 1965 £51 was distributed to the needy and £10 given to the Finchley Guild of Social Service towards chiropody and Christmas presents. In 1971 £45 was given to the needy, £12 10s. to the guild, and £10 to St. Elizabeth's Home.


  • 1. Except where otherwise stated, the section is based on 10th Rep. Com. Char., H.C. 103, pp. 318-27 (1824), xiii; Gen. Digest of Endowed Chars. I, H.C. 433, pp. 16-17 (1867-8), lii (1); Endowed Chars. (Mdx.), H.C. 306, pp. 8-9 (1899), lxx; Char. Com. files; Mdx. & Herts. N. & Q. i. 134-8; ii. 17-19; iii. 31-5, 65-8, 147-9, 173-8; vi. 241-3; W. B. Passmore, 'Finchley Par. Rec.' i (MS. penes Finchley Chars.); Finchley Par. Rep. of Cttee. on Chars. (1887); ex inf. the clerk to Finchley Chars. The rec. of Finchley Chars. were not available for study.
  • 2. M.R.O., F. 97; Acc. 351/134.
  • 3. M.R.O., Acc. 351/135.
  • 4. Ibid. 136.
  • 5. E 301/34 no. 157.
  • 6. M.R.O., Acc. 262/4/25.
  • 7. M.R.O., Hist. Notes 14/4/67.
  • 8. C 54/14769 mm. 34-43 no. 5.
  • 9. Brass in ch.
  • 10. E 301/34 no. 157.
  • 11. E 318/box 30/1718; Cal. Pat. 1549-51, 130, 133.
  • 12. C 54/465 mm. 12-13 no. 14.
  • 13. Wards 7/80.
  • 14. C 43/4/28; C 43/6/13.
  • 15. M.R.O., Acc. 262/4/25.
  • 16. Finchley loc. bd., finance cttee. accts. (1884-7).
  • 17. C 54/16615 mm. 5-9 no. 12.
  • 18. Finchley loc. bd., finance cttee. accts. (1884-7).
  • 19. E 301/34 no. 157.
  • 20. Cal. Pat. 1548-9, 422.
  • 21. S.C. 2/191/5 m. 8.
  • 22. See below.
  • 23. M.R.O., Acc. 262/4/25.
  • 24. See below.
  • 25. E 301/34 no. 157.
  • 26. Plans of char. estates, 1776, f. 2, at Finchley ch.
  • 27. M.R.O., MR/DE FIN.
  • 28. M.R.O., Acc. 262/4/26.
  • 29. Daily News, 12 Jan. 1891.
  • 30. See below.