Cannington: Charities for the poor

Page 90

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.

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In 1713 and 1715 marsh lands in Cannington, Combwich, and Stockland Bristol were bought with the capital of four parish charities: Lady (Jane) Rogers, who by deed of 1601 gave £26 for the poor every Sunday; Sir Bartholomew Michell (d. 1616), who gave £20 for the poor on Christmas Eve; Margery Duddlestone (d. 1711), who gave £10 for bread on New Year's day; and Richard Tilley or Tapp (d. 1598), who gave £40 for the poor on Good Friday. (fn. 1) By 1826 the income was given to the poor and supported the almshouse, and any surplus was used to pay a schoolmaster to teach the poor and was later given to the National school. (fn. 2) In 1982 the lands were sold. (fn. 3) In 1989 the Cannington combined charities, comprising all the surviving charities except those of Henry Rogers and Benjamin Vaughan, administered the almshouse and gave small grants to the school and the elderly. (fn. 4)

Benjamin Vaughan, rector of Charlinch (d. 1639), gave £50 for apprenticing two children in husbandry. By 1826 the charity was used to bind one apprentice from Cannington in alternate years, half the income going to Bridgwater corporation to apprentice a Bridgwater boy, and many boys were apprenticed to shoemakers. (fn. 5) The capital was invested in the Bridgwater market house from 1787 until 1851. (fn. 6) In 1898 the charity formed part of the United Charity of Bridgwater and Cannington and by 1976 was used to benefit a youth under 18 resident in Cannington, employed in agriculture, and having the longest service with one employer. (fn. 7) The charity was for providing tools in 1989 but had not been claimed for some time. (fn. 8)

By will dated 1672 Henry Rogers left £7,500 for charity of which £2,350 was to maintain 20 poor aged persons. Half of them were to be residents of the manors of Withiel, Steart, and Salty in Cannington. In 1685 the capital was invested in land and by 1776 each recipient had c. £8 a year. (fn. 9) In 1816 the number of recipients was doubled and by 1880 all elderly parishioners were eligible. (fn. 10) In 1946 payments of £5-£10 a year were made to 32 old people and in 1971 recipients were made pensioners of the charity for 3-6 years. (fn. 11) Under a scheme of 1984 £30 a year is paid in instalments to 40 elderly people in the parish; the remaining income supports a playgroup, adapts housing for the disabled, or meets other needs. In 1989 c. £1,500 a year was being distributed. (fn. 12)

Henry Rogers also gave £600 to maintain a workhouse for the Cannington poor and in 1691 an estate was purchased. The church house was repaired for use as a workhouse c. 1688 but by the later 18th century it housed almspeople. Nine aged women were in the house in 1826 receiving 2s. or 3s. a week with clothing and fuel. (fn. 13) In 1920 the charity lands were sold. (fn. 14) In 1937 the house had room for seven inmates who received free coal and £12 a year. (fn. 15) In 1955 the almshouse was divided into five dwellings. (fn. 16) The building was modernized in 1971-2 to provide five double units. The almshouse stands on the north side of the main street and comprises a range parallel with the street, originally an open hall of eight bays built c. 1500. Part of the hall was floored in the 16th century, the remainder possibly c. 1688, when probably the two-storeyed north wing was built at the east end. A stone recording Henry Rogers's gift and a weather vane dated 1699 were added. Few early features survived reconstruction in 1971. (fn. 17) In 1989 the almshouses were administered by the Cannington combined charities. (fn. 18)

Mary Ruscombe by will dated 1725 gave £10 to the poor. By 1826 the income was used to distribute bread on Easter Sunday. (fn. 19) An unknown donor gave £182 before 1786 but the charity had been lost by 1826. (fn. 20) In 1794 Sarah Warren gave £10 to provide bread at Candlemas and in 1801 her sister Mary Warren gave £10 for the same purpose and £120 for fuel and bedding. (fn. 21) Mary's gift, put into Consols in 1865, was in existence in 1896 but has since been lost. (fn. 22) A distribution of 40s. on 25 October was recorded in 1623 but was not mentioned again. (fn. 23)


  • 1. Char. Don. pp. 1048-9; Som. Wills, ed. Brown, v. 68; 15th Rep. Com. Char. 358-9.
  • 2. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 358-9; S.R.O., D/P/can 17/3/2.
  • 3. Char. Com. files.
  • 4. Inf. from rector, the Revd. P. Martin.
  • 5. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 359; S.R.S. xxxiv. 197; S.R.O., D/P/can 17/3/2.
  • 6. S.R.O., D/P/can 17/1/3.
  • 7. Char. Com. files.
  • 8. Inf. from the rector.
  • 9. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 352-3; S.R.O., D/D/Vc 88.
  • 10. S.R.O., DD/AH 24/4; Char. Com. files.
  • 11. S.R.O., D/P/can 17/6/1, 17/7/1.
  • 12. Inf. from the rector.
  • 13. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 355-7.
  • 14. Char. Com. files.
  • 15. Som. Co. Herald, 13 Mar. 1937.
  • 16. Char. Com. files.
  • 17. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. cxvii. 107.
  • 18. Inf. from the rector.
  • 19. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 357.
  • 20. Char. Don. pp. 1048-9.
  • 21. 15th Rep. Com. Char. 359-60.
  • 22. S.R.O., D/P/can 17/6/2.
  • 23. Ibid. DD/S/WH, box 33.