Acton: Charities for the poor

Pages 49-50

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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A clothing fund was established c. 1818 from clothing charities and bequests formerly distributed in money or fuel. Later gifts for food and clothing augmented the fund, which was administered with other parochial charities from 1899.


In 1725 almshouses were built in the Steyne on the site of a house which the parish had bought in 1681 for the poor. (fn. 2) The almshouses contained eight rooms, with seven inmates, in 1779 (fn. 3) and were in disrepair by 1793, when they were sold. Joseph Grantham thereupon granted some copyhold tenements on the west side of the Steyne, where six cottages were built for the poor (fn. 4) with the aid of sums received for inclosures of the waste. (fn. 5) In 1839 the almshouses were to be sold to contribute towards the cost of Brentford union workhouse but in 1843 the rector and overseers took charge and the rector paid for their repair. (fn. 6) The almshouses were rebuilt by public subscription as the Jubilee almshouses, nos. 1-12 the Steyne, in 1897 (fn. 7) and bought by Ealing L.B. in 1967.

Frederic Ouvry gave £200 stock to the almshouses in 1880, Mrs. Sarah Mary Sibson £100 stock in 1883, and Selina Payne £1,009 stock by will dated 1893. The gifts formed an endowment fund, providing weekly pensions, from 1967, together with £10,000 paid by Ealing L.B.

Apprenticing charity.

Catherine, Viscountess Conway, by will dated 1637, left £800 to the Grocers' Company of London to provide, among other purposes, £20 a year for apprenticing poor children after the death of a residuary legatee. After a dispute over arrears the vestry received a reduced income from 1706. Only boys had been apprenticed for some time in 1826, at a cost of £10 a year.

Distributive charities.

Thomas Thorney, by will dated 1612, left a rent charge of 20s. On Conduit close, of which at least 6s. 8d. was for repair of the conduit and the rest for the poor. In 1826 the entire income had been spent for some time on the conduit.

Paul Freeman, by will dated 1615, and William Harraway, by will dated 1620, left sums to buy 2s. worth and 1s. of bread respectively. The money was not accounted for after 1628.

Catherine, Viscountess Conway, in addition to providing £20 for apprenticing, assigned in reversion £10 a year for bread for 21 recipients and teaching 6 children, to which her executrix Mary Harrison added £8, making the income £10 8s. Lady Conway also assigned £10 a year to the minister for alms. (fn. 8) The Grocers' Company fell into arrears with payments and in 1706 the vestry accepted £50 in lieu of £100 arrears, (fn. 9) although it later received only £22 9s. 8d. a year for all her bequests, including the apprenticing charity. Thereafter £2 12s. was paid regularly for teaching and by 1826 15s. 8d. was spent on clothing and the balance, after apprenticing, on bread for 21 parishioners weekly and on alms.

John Perryn, by will dated 1656, left a rent charge of £10 for the poor, vested in the Goldsmiths' Company of London. By 1826 it was paid into the clothing fund.

George Needler, by will dated 1638, left £40 for annual purchases of shoes and stockings. The capital was lent out to parishioners, from whom interest was last received in 1719. It was said to be vested in the Grocers' Company in 1786 and had been lost by 1826.

Henry Ramsay, by will dated 1693, left a rent charge of £10, perhaps to fulfil a similar bequest of 1601 by Mary, wife of Sir Thomas Ramsay, lord mayor of London. (fn. 10) In 1826 the sum was devoted to the clothing fund.

Sarah Crayle, by will dated 1730, left £300 to provide 40s. a year for a sermon and £6 for weekly bread doles to the poor not receiving alms, the residue to be distributed in money twice a year. In 1745 land was bought in Ealing, (fn. 11) producing £13 13s. c. 1786-8 and £30 from 1825. Bread for 14 persons was bought with £6 in 1826, when the minister received 40s. and the residue went to the clothing fund. By 1899 the principal had been invested in stock.

Ann Crayle, by will dated 1767, left £700 stock to provide £12 3s. a year for specified clothing for 6 men and 6 women, the residue to be spent on coal. In 1826 the income of £21 was paid into the clothing fund.

Edward Dickenson, by will dated 1781, left a third of the interest on £100 stock for payments to three couples married in Acton church during the previous year. The income was £45 in 1786 and £50 by 1867.

Rebecca Bulwer, by will dated 1789, left the income from £600 for eight householders, preferably Anglican communicants, and Thomas Bramley (d. 1807) left £300 for the same purpose. Twelve families then received £3 each, although by 1826 the income had fallen to £31 1s. 4d.

Elizabeth Wegg, by will dated 1799, left £100 for the poor. Her husband Samuel added £100 stock, by will dated 1802, and their son George added £300 in 1817.

John Cordy, by will dated 1799, left the income from £100 to clothe three widows. Only two women could be given the full amount of clothing in 1826.

Rebecca Cranmer, by will dated 1813, left £400 stock to provide greatcoats for six men, as did Thomas Church, by will dated 1823. Church's money had not been received in 1826, when Mrs. Cranmer's gift for clothing was augmented by the surplus income from £300 which she had left towards repairs of the family vault.

The churchwardens in 1786 held £20, of unknown origin, which was spent on cheap coal until c. 1812 and then on building the National school.

The clothing fund had an income of £85 in 1826, from the charities of Lady Conway, Perryn, Ramsay, Sarah and Ann Crayle, Cordy, and Mrs. Cranmer. It was later augmented by the following gifts: £100 stock from William Henry Church, by will dated 1832; £741 stock from Elizabeth Wegg, by will dated 1842, for food and clothing; £200 stock from Mary Tubbs, by will of c. 1852, for food; £52 stock from William Hervey, by deed dated 1860, for food and clothing.

Acton (Middlesex) charities.

All the existing charities were united under a Scheme of 1899 as the Acton (Middlesex) charities, to which in 1913 was added £5 a year bequeathed to the poor by Rachel Rebecca Murton. The income from stock in 1976 was £1,224. In 1980 it produced £2 for apprenticing, £50 for nursing, and small sums for ecclesiastical purposes, the residue being spent on the poor.


  • 1. Section based on Char. Com. files; Char. Donations, 1786-8, H.C. 511, pp. 758-60 (1816), xvi; 14th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 382, pp. 170-7 (1826), xii; Digest of Endowed Chars. H.C. 433, Mdx. pp. 2-3 (1867-8), lii (1); Endowed Chars. Mdx. H.C. 306, p. 401 (1899), lxx; Guildhall MS. 10731/1, Chars. Belonging to Acton [1887].
  • 2. Lysons, Environs, ii. 20; above, local govt.
  • 3. Simonon, 'Poor in Acton', 83.
  • 4. Ibid.; Lysons, Environs, ii. 20; vestry min. bk. (1775- 1801), 3 July 1793; P.R.O., IR 29/21/1.
  • 5. Vestry min. bk. (1775-1801), 3 Oct. 1792.
  • 6. Ibid. (1822-57).
  • 7. Taylor, Acton notes, 28A.
  • 8. P.R.O., C 90/10.
  • 9. Rate bk. (1701-67).
  • 10. W. K. Jordan, Chars. of Lond. 1440-1660 (1960), 102.
  • 11. P.R.O., C 54/5740, no. 7.