Willesden: Charities for the poor

Page 254

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.

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William Barber (fl. 1319–46) gave a rent charge from which 12d. a year was for bread and ale for the poor, and Thomas Paulet (fl. 1494) directed that bread and drink were to be distributed on the anniversary of his obit. Neither charity survived the Reformation. (fn. 1) In 1624 Francis Roberts granted £2 a year for distribution to the poor at Eastern and Whitsun. (fn. 2) In 1686 the churchwardens successfully sued William Roberts for the restitution of the £2 and for £180 given in trust to buy a rent charge of £8 a year to be distributed in coal. (fn. 3) In the 18th century payments called the coal money were from 2s. to 5s., to people whose names were listed by the churchwardens and overseers and approved by the occupier of Neasden House. (fn. 4) After 1823 the money was applied with other charities in coal and bread (fn. 5) until 1882. During the 19th century the rent charges were replaced by £334 stock. In 1977 the income of £9 a year was distributed in cash. (fn. 6)

An unknown donor, perhaps Thomas Young, gave an annual rent charge of £1 for the poor of Willesden. (fn. 7) Other charities listed in 1826 were the parish close (3 a. at Fortune Gate which was leased by the overseers) and the poor's land, 1/8 a. next to the churchyard, divided between the poor houses (fn. 8) and a garden which was let. (fn. 9) Their origins were unknown, and the poor's land probably derived from the Middle Ages. The income was applied in bread and coal each Christmas until 1882, (fn. 10) but in the 1850s the trustees failed to present accounts and much of the land was sold and the proceeds were invested in stock. In 1874 a Scheme consolidated all the charities except the Roberts charity but including Freelove's gift for the school; the trustees, who were to make payments to the school and apply the rest in clothes, fuel, or medical aid, (fn. 11) were largely representative of the established church and were opposed by a faction led by W. James Wright (d. 1887), a low churchman in constant conflict with the vicar. (fn. 12) By 1903 the income was spent on the poor and scholarships; (fn. 13) in 1978 it was £1,942. (fn. 14)

Laura Seymour by will dated 1863 gave a sum represented by £333 stock, the income, £10 in 1880 and £8 in the 1960s, to be used for widows and orphans. (fn. 15)

Edward Harvist's charity, founded by will in 1610 for the maintenance of the Edgware and Harrow roads, was in 1975 applied by statutory instrument to the relief of sickness and distress and to educational and recreational facilities in the five boroughs through which the roads passed. Brent L.B.'s share of the income was £34,000 in 1976. (fn. 16)


  • 1. Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c 123/43; Cal. Close, 1337–47, 476; P.R.O., E 301/34, no. 181.
  • 2. The land concerned once supported Wm. Page's obit: Grange Mus., Wood F 24, p. 145; above, churches.
  • 3. P.R.O., C 78/925, no. 5; 14th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 382, pp. 209–12 (1826), xii.
  • 4. M.R.O., Acc. 262/40, pt. 2 (Chandos estate map 1787); Grange Mus., 1 B 3.
  • 5. 14th Rep. Com. Char.; Grange Mus., Wood F 24, pp. 145 sqq.
  • 6. Char. Com. reg. 211130.
  • 7. 14th Rep. Com. Char.; Willesden Par. Year Bk. (1902–3), where Young was mentioned. A Thos. Young was lessee of Brondesbury in the 16th cent.
  • 8. Above, local govt.
  • 9. M.R.O., Acc. 262/40, pt. 1 (inclosure claims 1816); M.R.O., EA/WIL, nos. 183, 200–1; Grange Mus., MS. 66/5.
  • 10. Grange Mus., 1 B 29 (bread and coal accts. 1800–82).
  • 11. Ibid. MS. 66/8.
  • 12. Ibid. Wood F 24, pp. 156 sqq.
  • 13. Willesden Par. Year Bk. (1902–3).
  • 14. Char. Com. reg. 211132.
  • 15. Ibid. 207587.
  • 16. Ibid. 211970; Grange Mus., gen. files, charities.