Islington: Charities for the poor

Pages 135-138

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

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Charities for the poor

Between 1730 and 1810 the income from the Stonefields estate and other legacies was distributed by the churchwardens from a single account without regard for the donors' intentions. (fn. 41) Most of the distributive charities, separately mentioned below and benefiting the whole parish, were brought together in a United Charities Scheme in 1901, slightly modified in 1960: the charities of Burge, Cooper, Ferris, Geary, Haines, Hobson, Hull, Loane, Marshall, May, Morton, Owen, Parke, Parsons, Wilson, and the poor's stock. The annual income, £1,089 in 1963 and £740 in 1973, was used as follows: £1 to the verger of the parish church, 10s. for a sermon on Christmas day, 10s. each to 10 poor parishioners, and the residue for the poor. (fn. 42)

Cloudesley (Stonefields estate) charity. Richard Young alias Cloudesley, by will dated 1517/18, left land called Stonefields or the Fourteen acres, let for £4 a year, the income to be distributed by six men chosen each year by the parishioners: 20s. was for an obit, with 6s. 8d. for the prayers of the poor there, 26s. 8d. was for the brotherhood of Jesus to sing masses, and 10s. was for the six men for their trouble. No instructions were given about the residue. (fn. 43) Following the 1548 Act concerning superstitious uses, the Crown seized the whole income, then £7, until 1551, when the court of Exchequer allotted 53s. 4d. a year to the Crown and the rest to parish feoffees. In 1561 new feoffees declared trusts to pay the residue to the churchwardens to be distributed as six or eight parishioners decided. (fn. 44) In the 18th century the churchwardens distributed the rent from their charity account as they saw fit; (fn. 45) in 1748 it amounted to £42 p.a. (fn. 46) In 1811, after the rents had been used for repairs to the parish church, an Act allowed the trustees to grant building leases of the property, consisting of 16 3/4 a. on the west side of the Back Road, and to use the rents for repairs to the new chapel of ease. (fn. 47) Under a further Act of 1832, the income up to £1,000 a year was to be divided equally between the chapel of ease and Trinity, St. John's, and St. Paul's district churches for expenses of worship, any residue to go towards the churchwardens' rate. (fn. 48) In 1850-1 it was unsuccessfully proposed that the charities should be applied to almshouses and other charitable purposes. (fn. 49) By 1895 the income consisted of ground rents from c. 240 houses in Cloudesley Square, Liverpool Road, Cloudesley Street, Stonefield Street, Richmond Road, and Cloudesley Road, on leases which would fall in between 1899 and 1916, and the Charity Commissioners ordered the income surplus to the four churches' £1,000 to be banked. (fn. 50) Under a Scheme of 1902 the existing funds were to be divided between rebuilding or restoring the parish church and enabling the Great Northern Central hospital to place poor Islington patients in convalescent homes. From the future annual income of the estate, £100 each was to be paid to St. Mary Magdalene's, Holy Trinity, St. John's, Upper Holloway, and St. Paul's, Ball's Pond, and £500 to the parish church and £250 to St. Mary Magdalene's for maintenance. Half of the remaining income was to go to other churches and half to hospitals or medical and nursing charities, including the Great Northern hospital as long as it should be open to the poor of Islington and one ward should be named after Richard Cloudesley. (fn. 51) The ground rents of 71 houses and 2 shops were sold in 1937, (fn. 52) but in 1980 the charity still owned property in Cloudesley Square, Cloudesley Road, and Cloudesley Street, including two blocks of mansion flats, besides the capital from sales invested in stocks. A Scheme of 1980 simplified the application, only specifying £500 a year for the upkeep of the parish church and £250 for St. Mary Magdalene's. In 1981 the remainder of the income, c. £21,000 net, was used to create a welfare fund for quick response to personal need, and for grants to medical charities benefiting Islington and for repairs to local churches. (fn. 53)

Almshouse charities. Dame Alice Owen's almshouses for 10 elderly widows, built in 1609 just inside Clerkenwell parish, were intended for widows of Islington and Clerkenwell. (fn. 54)

Davis's almshouses were founded by John Davis (d. 1793) of Islington, carpenter, who left £2,000 to build and endow them. Eight small houses were built in 1794 on the south side of Queen's Row (later Queen's Head Lane) and were endowed with £670. They housed married couples or widows aged 50 or more, Anglicans, but not necessarily from Islington. To prevent the almshouses becoming a 'nursery for nurses', no doctor or apothecary was to be a trustee. (fn. 55) By 1895 the charity possessed £3,500 in stock, part bequeathed by John's widow Jane Davis, who had directed that the almshouses should not be under the control of the parish officers. The interest was to be used first for maintenance of the eight houses and the residue distributed amongst the inmates. (fn. 56) Under an order of 1964 the site of the houses, nos. 65-79 (odd) Queen's Head Street, was sold for rebuilding and the proceeds were invested. The income, £605 in 1969, was thereafter used for the poor in Islington M.B. (fn. 57)

Distributive charities. Richard Martin, by will proved 1602, requested that the 20s. a year given to the poor by his father be paid by his wife and son, and left a further 20s. a year to the churchwardens for the poor. (fn. 58) Nothing more is known of the charity.

Dame Alice Owen left £60 to Christ's Hospital on condition that the governors paid 1s. a week to buy bread for Islington's poor. In 1895 £2 12s. was paid annually to the churchwardens and distributed with similar charities. (fn. 59)

Thomas Hobson in 1614 surrendered his copyhold known as the Cock, subject to a rent charge of £5 4s. to the churchwardens for gifts of 2d. each to 12 poor people every Sunday. (fn. 60) In 1895 the sum was charged on no. 61 Upper Street. (fn. 61)

Nathaniel Loane of St. Sepulchre-withoutNewgate, by will dated 1625, left £5 4s. from property in Little Old Bailey, to the vicar and churchwardens of Islington to be distributed each Sunday as 12d. in bread and 12d. in money to 12 of the poorest parishioners of good conversation. (fn. 62) From 1768 Islington received 1/6 of the rent of the property, which was let at £40 a year until 1830 and thereafter £180. (fn. 63) In 1895 the property was let at £500 p.a., of which Islington received £81 5s. 4d. (fn. 64)

Daniel Parke, by will dated 1649, gave a rent charge of 40s., 10s. for a sermon on Christmas day and the remainder for bread on Sundays. The rent charge was replaced c. 1881 by £75 invested in stock, producing £2 1s. 4d. a year. (fn. 65)

Mrs. Amy Hill at an unknown date left £50 to purchase land producing 50s. a year; 30s. was for 30 poor on St. Thomas's day, 13s. 4d. for a sermon, and 3s. 4d. each for the clerk and sexton. In 1659 c. 3/4 a. near the Back Road was bought and in 1777 a workhouse was built there, whereupon the payments ceased. The building became the property of the guardians following the Metropolitan Poor Act, 1867, and in 1895 was used for their offices and as a vestry depot. (fn. 66)

Ephraim Skinner gave £700 to Christ's Hospital in 1678, the governors to pay 5s. each Sunday to the minister of Islington for catechizing the poor and £5 a year for distribution, but the gift to become void if no catechizing took place for two consecutive Sundays. In 1895 the sums were paid direct to the vicar. (fn. 67)

Dr. William Crowne of London, physician, left £50 for the Islington poor, received by the vestry in 1685, the interest to buy bread every Sunday. (fn. 68) Dame Mary Sadlier, Crowne's widow, by will proved c. 1707, augmented his gift by £50, to buy bread to the value of 12d. every Sunday. (fn. 69) The sum was received in 1707, but nothing further was recorded of either gift.

Robert Hull of Islington, bricklayer, by will dated 1694, gave £3 a year to the vicar and churchwardens after the death of his wife Jane, for the use of the poor, and another £3 a year to Islington or to the Bricklayers' Company as his wife decided. (fn. 70) By deed of 1701 Jane Hull gave both sums to Islington to be paid out of property in Great and Little Bardfield (Essex). (fn. 71) The rent charge of £6 was received in the 18th and 19th centuries, (fn. 72) but in 1893 the sum was £5 16s. 6d., spent on coal, bread, blankets, and gifts of money. (fn. 73) Maj. Haines gave £2 of a rent charge on nos. 11-20 Paradise Row, Essex Road, which was paid to the churchwardens in 1895 and distributed with Hull's charity. (fn. 74)

John Parsons, by will dated 1700, left the rent of a close called Porter's acre in the manor of Newington Barrow to the vicar for the poor of Islington, the income to buy coals in summer at the cheapest rate. The rent was £4 in 1700, (fn. 75) £32 in 1820-7, and £15 in 1827-34. (fn. 76) In 1853 the land, 2 1/8 a., was let to the guardians for 99 years at £50 a year and was the site of the infants' poor house and schools, Hornsey Road. The churchwardens bought coal tickets with the rent in 1895. (fn. 77)

John Smith was said in the early 18th century to have bequeathed a rent charge of 52s. from a house in Hedge Row for distribution in bread to the poor at 12d. a week. (fn. 78) Nothing further is known of the charity.

Mrs. Ann May, of Wotton (Surr.), by will of unknown date, left half the residue of her estate to the poor of Islington and half to the parish school for Christian instruction. In 1807 the gift consisted of £156 6s. 10d. stock. (fn. 79) In 1895 the income for the poor was spent on bread, coal, and other gifts. (fn. 80)

Rosamond Marshall of Islington before 1807 left £100 stock, the interest to be distributed amongst poor not receiving relief. Her husband added a further £100 stock. (fn. 81) In 1895 the churchwardens bought bread, coal, and other gifts. (fn. 82)

Property thought to have come to the parish on the death of a 'pauper' named Cooper and consisting of 1/2 a. at Ball's Pond, also known as the Kingsland Common estate, was let in 1812 at £16 a year, used for the poor. It was sold in 1865 for £1,112, which was invested; the income of £30 11s. 8d. in 1895 was spent by the churchwardens on bread, coal, and other gifts. (fn. 83)

Mrs. Mary Morton of Colebrooke Row, by will dated 1813, left £500 stock for repair of her tomb, any residue to be distributed as charity. (fn. 84) In 1895 the proceeds were used for bread, coal, and other gifts. (fn. 85)

Mrs. Susan Acburn (d. 1820) left £200 to the churchwardens for 20 poor Anglicans and £100 stock for repair of her tomb. (fn. 86)

Mrs. Sarah Blasson left £4,000 stock by will proved 1844, to provide £10 each for 10 female Anglican parishioners over 60 years of age on midsummer's day. (fn. 87) Under a Scheme of 1975, the sums were paid as directed. (fn. 88)

Joseph Hankins Burge, of New (later Colebrooke) Terrace, by will dated 1846, left the dividends on £300 stock; £5 a year was to provide bread for the poor on the last Sunday of every month, and £3 was for repair of his tomb. (fn. 89)

Following an Act of 1872, the charity established by William Lambe and the Clothworkers' Company by deed of 1568 and Lambe's will of 1574, attached to Lambe's chapel in Wood Street Square (Lond.), was transferred to St. James's, Prebend Street. Clothing or blankets and shoes to the value of £14 14s. were provided each year for 12 men and 12 women living in the district, who had to attend a sermon. (fn. 90) The charity was carried out as directed in 1982. (fn. 91)

William Henry Schroder, by will proved 1873, left £1,000 in annuities, the interest to be divided annually between 15 women and 15 men, all aged 50 or more and living in the parish of St. Philip the Evangelist, Islington. The income was £22 10s. in 1966 and was distributed as directed. (fn. 92)

Alderman Col. Samuel Wilson placed a sum with the Weavers' Company of London, from whom the Islington churchwardens received £5 p.a. from 1885, distributed in gifts of 10s. to 10 parishioners not receiving parish relief. (fn. 93)

A fund called the poor's stock was formed when each recipient of some waste of Highbury manor contributed a sum for the Islington poor; the fund totalled £212 10s. stock in 1895. Dividends were paid to the churchwardens and used to buy bread, coals, and other gifts. (fn. 94)

Mrs. Ann Geary, before 1895, left £50 invested in stock, to provide £1 10s. a year to buy bread for the poor. (fn. 95)

Mrs. Isabella Ferris, before 1895, left £300 for the repair of Elizabeth Sebbon's tomb, the surplus to be spent on fuel for the poor. (fn. 96)

Thomas Dickenson, before 1895, left £4,000 stock to the incumbent of St. John's, Upper Holloway, and trustees, the income to buy bread, potatoes, and coals for 20 families attending St. John's. By 1895 the charity had been divided among churches formed from St. John's district. (fn. 97) Under a Scheme of 1975 the income, c. £150 in 1978, relieved members of St. John's and of St. Mark's with St. Anne's. (fn. 98)

Mary Ann Crease, (fn. 99) by will proved 1895, left a sum to provide coal annually for the poor of St. Stephen's, Canonbury. Mary Georgiana Allen, by will proved 1925, left a small sum for the same purpose. In 1982 the charities, together producing an income of between £10 and £25 p.a., were managed under a Scheme of 1963.

Mrs. Phebe Eliza Rowarth, by will proved 1895, left £1,000 stock to the churchwardens of St. Mary's, Hornsey Rise, for payments to elderly widows every Christmas. In 1966 the income of £34 was distributed to 27 widows.

The Heartwell charity, established by Mrs. Louisa and Miss Emily Heartwell under a will proved 1896, provided for bread, potatoes, and coal to be given in winter to 20 poor of St. John's, Upper Holloway, or of St. Peter's and All Saints', to the value of 4s. each per week. In 1968 groceries worth £50 were distributed.

Thomas Lyon, by will proved 1905, left shares which realized £215 9s. 8d., the income to be divided equally among 20 poor of St. John's, Upper Holloway. In 1972 the income was £7 8s. 2d., and in 1982 the charity was managed under a Scheme of 1975.

Henrietta Thresher Glenny, by will dated 1912, left £1,200 each to the parishes of Christ Church, Highbury, and St. John's, Highbury Vale, for their poor. The sums were invested, and under a Scheme of 1980, following the union of the parishes, the joint income of £30 was disbursed by the vicar of Christ Church.

Miss Penelope Flinders Baldwin, by will proved 1924, left £100 for the poor of St. Paul's, Canonbury. The income in 1961 was £5 2s. 10d.

Emma Elizabeth Jones left houses at Southend-on-Sea (Essex) to establish a fund named, after her father, the Charles William Jones Trust, which was set up in 1949. The property had been sold and £3,960 4s. 9d. invested by 1962, the income being spent on poor people striving to help themselves, preferably resident in Upper Holloway.

Mary Lowthion Naile, by will proved 1949, left the residue of her estate in reversion to Islington M.B. to assist middle-class women, the charity being named after her father John Shepperd Naile. Under a Scheme of 1969, £3,600 8s. was invested; in 1971 the income was £114 15s. 9d., of which £50 was distributed.

Charlie Reid, by will dated 1968, left all his furniture, personal belongings, and £100 to form the Charlie Reid fund for the sick and elderly of Islington. Stock worth £1,595 was purchased, producing £100 to £136 in 1971-5.

William Heron Welfare Trust. William Heron, woodmonger of London, in his will dated 1580 left land to the Clothworkers' Company of London, who were to pay £8 a year to the upkeep of roads in Islington, Clerkenwell, and St. Pancras. After a considerable increase in the value of the estate a Chancery order reapportioned the income: most of it went to the poor of Islington, Clerkenwell, and St. Pancras, but in 1983 Islington received £158 for repairing parish highways. Under Schemes of 1972 and 1980 the income was to be used for the relief of aged poor in Islington L.B. and the provision of recreational and other facilities. (fn. 1)


  • 41. MS. copy of rep. to vestry on Cloudesley est. 1851 (in Islington libr.), p. 14.
  • 42. Char. Com. files.
  • 43. Guildhall MS. 9171/9, ff. 75-7.
  • 44. Rep. to vestry, p. 1.
  • 45. Ibid. p. 14.
  • 46. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/133, f. 3.
  • 47. Rep. to vestry, p. 15; 51 Geo. III, c. 216 (Local and Personal).
  • 48. 2 & 3 Wm. IV, c. 26 (Local and Personal).
  • 49. Rep. to vestry, p. 15; pamphlets in Islington libr.
  • 50. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/406, no. 1.
  • 51. Copy of 1902 Scheme in Islington libr.
  • 52. Sale cat. in Islington libr.
  • 53. Char. Com. files.
  • 54. D.N.B. Reserved for treatment under Clerkenwell.
  • 55. P.R.O., C 54/7237, no. 14.
  • 56. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/406, no. 29.
  • 57. Char. Com. files.
  • 58. P.R.O., PROB 11/100 (P.C.C. 51 Montague).
  • 59. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/406, no. 8.
  • 60. Ibid. 133, ff. 4-6.
  • 61. Ibid. 1095, f. 6; 406, no. 7.
  • 62. Ibid. 133, ff. 7-8.
  • 63. Ibid. 1095, f. 7v.
  • 64. Ibid. 406, no. 4.
  • 65. Ibid. no. 9.
  • 66. Ibid. no. 23; above, pub. svces.
  • 67. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY1/406, no. 24.
  • 68. Vestry min. bk. 1662/3-1708, 169.
  • 69. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY1/133, ff. 16-17.
  • 70. Ibid. ff. 10-11.
  • 71. Ibid. ff. 12-14; 406, no. 5.
  • 72. Ibid. 1095, f. 13.
  • 73. Ibid. 406, no. 5.
  • 74. Ibid. no. 6.
  • 75. Ibid. 133, f. 9.
  • 76. Ibid. 1095, f. 9.
  • 77. Ibid. 406, no. 3; above, pub. svces.
  • 78. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY1/133, f. 15.
  • 79. Ibid. 1095, f. 28.
  • 80. Ibid. 406, no. 15.
  • 81. Ibid. 1095, f. 27.
  • 82. Ibid. 406, no. 14.
  • 83. Ibid. no. 12.
  • 84. Ibid. 1095, f. 30.
  • 85. Ibid. 406, no. 16.
  • 86. Ibid. no. 10.
  • 87. Ibid. no. 27.
  • 88. Char. Com. files.
  • 89. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/1095, f. 33.
  • 90. 35 & 36 Vic. c. 154 (Local); above, churches.
  • 91. Char. Com. files.
  • 92. Ibid.
  • 93. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/406, no. 11.
  • 94. Ibid. no. 13.
  • 95. Ibid. no. 17.
  • 96. Ibid. no. 20.
  • 97. Ibid. no. 28.
  • 98. Char. Com. files.
  • 99. Rest of subsection based on Char. Com. files.
  • 1. G.L.R.O., P83/MRY 1/1095, f. 24; ibid. 406, no. 2; Char. Com. files.