West Bromwich: Charities for the poor

A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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A P Baggs. G C Baugh. C R J Currie. Johnson D A, 'West Bromwich: Charities for the poor', in A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part), (London, 1976) pp. 83-86. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol17/pp83-86 [accessed 21 May 2024].

A P Baggs. G C Baugh. C R J Currie. Johnson D A. "West Bromwich: Charities for the poor", in A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part), (London, 1976) 83-86. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol17/pp83-86.

Baggs, A P. Baugh, G C. Currie, C R J. Johnson D A. "West Bromwich: Charities for the poor", A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part), (London, 1976). 83-86. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol17/pp83-86.

In this section


The Spon Lane Trust Alms-houses.

By deed of 1869 Ann Murdock of West Bromwich settled in trust land south of Herbert Street where she had recently erected eleven alms-houses and a boardroom for trustees' meetings to be called the Spon Lane Trust Almshouses. Each alms-house was to be occupied by a poor woman, though a husband and wife or two women could share one; no inmate was to be under sixty. A resident matron was to be appointed. The foundress also gave £100 for maintenance. (fn. 1) In 1888 a second block of alms-houses was built on an adjoining site with money given for the purpose by John Pugh. (fn. 2) The charity's endowment has been increased by several gifts. By deed of 1875 Maria Marshall Ely, the daughter of a foundation trustee, settled £1,000 in fulfilment of a gift which her father had intended to make. Thomas Henry Salter, of Prestwood House near Wordsley in Kingswinford, by will proved in 1915, left £500 to be invested. In 1956 a Mrs. Newey gave the trustees £3,000. (fn. 3) In the earlier 1960s over a quarter of the average annual income was derived from grants made by other charitable foundations including the George and Thomas Henry Salter Trust, Baron Davenport's Trust, and the West Bromwich Charity. In 1966 the income was £581, of which £100 was given by the Salter Trust and £50 by Davenport's Trust; £160 was derived from stock. (fn. 4) The foundation deed provided that future trustees should always include representatives of the Methodist and Congregational churches and of Holy Trinity Church, and Wesleyan services were held at the alms-houses from the time of their foundation until at least 1918. Services were later held in the boardroom by the vicar of St. Philip's, a practice which had ceased by 1969. (fn. 5)

The alms-houses consist of two blocks of two storeys. The older block contains eleven dwellings and the boardroom; in the newer block are seven dwellings including the matron's quarters. Each dwelling has three rooms.

The Akrill Homes.

By will proved in 1913 Elizabeth Akrill left £9,000 for the foundation of almshouses in memory of her husband Charles. (fn. 6) Her executors were to invest up to £2,000 to endow the charity; the rest was to be used to buy a site and to build the alms-houses, a house for a matron, and a hall for religious services and social gatherings. In 1917 the executors acquired part of the Oakwood estate in Old Meeting Street. The homes were built in 1932, and in 1933 the executors settled the land and homes in trust for poor people of West Bromwich over 60 not receiving poor relief, who had lived in West Bromwich for at least five years. (fn. 7) Each home might be occupied by one or two people. A married couple might be given a home when only one of the partners was qualified, and at the trustees' discretion a widow or spinster might share one with an unqualified female relative or friend. In recent years, however, homes have been granted to married couples only. The trustees appoint a resident matron and a medical attendant and provide the alms-people with gifts of coal at Christmas. (fn. 8) The income in 1966-7 was £686 from stock.

The homes, the hall, and the matron's residence are of brick with stone dressings. They occupy three sides of a planted quadrangle lying open towards Old Meeting Street. Each of the twelve homes is a three-room semi-detached bungalow with its own back-garden.

Whorwood's Charity (The Tithe Dole and the Brick-kiln Dole).

By will proved in 1615 Sir William Whorwood left a dole out of the West Bromwich tithes to 33 poor of the parish and 'such poor of Handsworth as dwell along the highway near Sandwell'. For ten years after his death the dole was to be £6 12s. a year and thereafter £10; it was to be paid twice yearly. (fn. 9) It was not, however, regularly paid until 1629, after legal proceedings. (fn. 10) In the early 19th century the money was distributed at Sandwell Hall and had become known as the Sandwell Dole. From Christmas 1816, however, it was distributed at All Saints'. By the early 1820s it was paid twice a year to 100 West Bromwich poor in sixpences and to 50 Handsworth poor in shillings. (fn. 11) Later in the century it was paid in larger sums to fewer people. (fn. 12) In 1919 the charge was redeemed for £400 stock, which was invested for the benefit of West Bromwich and Handsworth in equal shares. (fn. 13) The West Bromwich half was then united with the Brick-kiln Dole. (fn. 14)

That charity had been founded with £62 arrears for the years during which payment of Whorwood's charity had been withheld. In 1635 2 a. in West Bromwich called the Brick-kiln Land was bought and settled on the poor of West Bromwich. (fn. 15) The annual income rose from £5 in 1786 to £12 in 1861. In 1862 the mineral rights under the property were sold for £600, which was invested. In 1919 the income was £6 5s. from rent and £27 16s. from investments. The land was sold in 1928 for £1,400, and that too was invested. (fn. 16) Under a decree of 1629 the income was to be spent like that of the Tithe Dole. (fn. 17) In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, however, it was distributed in sums varying from 1s. to 2s. 6d. (fn. 18) Later it was paid in single shillings, but in 1870 the trustees and the vicar and churchwardens of All Saints' agreed to use the money to buy blankets for the poor of the various West Bromwich parishes. (fn. 19)

The income of the two charities in 1968 was just over £84 from investments. In 1969, under Schemes of 1927 and 1964, the income was assigned in equal portions to the ten ecclesiastical parishes within the ancient parish of West Bromwich for distribution to the poor. (fn. 20)

William Turton's Charity.

By deed of 1616 William Turton the elder, of the Mill, settled in trust an annual rent-charge of 40s. from land in West Bromwich to be paid twice yearly to deserving poor of the parish. (fn. 21) The rent-charge apparently came to fall solely on that part of the land called Puddings Land and the charity became known as the Pudding Land Dole. (fn. 22) In 1938 the rent-charge was redeemed for £80 stock; the income in 1968 was £2. (fn. 23) In 1667-8 the dole was distributed to 40 or more persons in sums of 1s. or less. (fn. 24) By 1823 it was normally given out in shillings to 20 poor who received the charity for life. (fn. 25) In 1969 the vicar of All Saints' used the income to help various deserving cases. (fn. 26)

Eleanor Turton's Charity.

By will proved in 1701 Eleanor Turton gave an annuity of 50s. out of the Mill estate to be distributed yearly among the poor of the parish. (fn. 27) When the estate passed to the Abney family in 1735 the charity became known for a time as the Abney Dole. (fn. 28) By 1823 the money was distributed each year in shillings to 50 poor widows of West Bromwich; by 1885, however, it was customarily spent on blankets or flannel for 'deserving poor'. (fn. 29) The rent-charge was paid until at least 1948, (fn. 30) but by 1969 nothing was known of the charity. (fn. 31)

Moore's Charity.

By will proved in 1761 Ralph Moore left to the poor of West Bromwich a house and land then let for £4 8s. a year. His gift was legally defective, but his widow Phoebe settled the property to fulfil her husband's intentions. The trustees were to distribute the rent twice yearly to poor of West Bromwich not receiving parish relief. The charity was distributed from 1763 until 1777 in sums of 1s., 1s. 6d., and 2s. In 1777, however, the trustees' title was apparently questioned. Phoebe (by then the wife of Richard Parker) made a new trust settlement, but it was not completed and the charity ceased. (fn. 32)

The West Bromwich Charity.

The West Bromwich Improvement Amendment Act of 1865 provided that the income from land at the Cronehills or the proceeds from its sale were to be used for aged poor or poor children of West Bromwich in ways not covered by the poor-rates. (fn. 33) The charity did not take effect until the land was sold under the West Bromwich Corporation Act of 1903 for £2,000, which was to be held in trust for a charity to be known as the West Bromwich Charity; the income was to be applied to the poor of the parish but not in relief of the rates. (fn. 34) In the early 1960s the income was £71 a year, and the trustees used it to provide clothing, food, and money. (fn. 35) The West Bromwich Corporation Act of 1969 provided that the trustees should apply the income to the poor of the borough as constituted for the time being. (fn. 36)

Dunn's Charity.

By will proved in 1876 Sarah Dunn left the residue of her estate to provide yearly doles to 'certain godly persons, aged widows or poor, residing at Golds Hill'. In the 1960s the annual income was just over £5 from stock, and in 1968 it was spent on Christmas food parcels. (fn. 37)

Broughall's Charity.

By will proved in 1903 Eliza Jane Broughall left £400 for poor members of the congregations of Christ Church and St. Philip's. In the same year the legacy was divided, Christ Church receiving £250 and St. Philip's £150, and in 1968 the income was £8 15s. and £5 respectively. In 1968 both churches combined their sums with other parochial funds to help their poor and sick members. (fn. 38)

Hunt's Charity.

By will proved in 1904 Edwin Hunt, a Wednesbury chemical manufacturer, left the income from £1,000 to 'dissenting poor' attending the chapels of Hill Top Wesleyan Methodist circuit. In 1968 the income was about £34. It was divided equally among the six churches of the former circuit, which normally used their shares with any other funds at their disposal for the relief of poverty. (fn. 39)

The Spencer Trust.

By will proved in 1911 John Spencer of Island Lodge, Handsworth, a Wednesbury tube manufacturer, left the income from £1,000 to help the poor of West Bromwich not relieved from the rates, or for any other benevolent charitable object connected with the borough. Spencer's estate, however, was insufficient to pay his legacies in full. By 1930 £800 had been paid towards the endowment of the charity, and the capital was later slightly increased. The income in 1969-70 was £43 and was used to relieve special cases of need in the pre-1966 borough. (fn. 40)

The Salter Trust.

By will proved in 1917 George Salter of Prestwood House in Kingswinford, chairman and managing director of George Salter & Co. Ltd., left £10,000 stock in the firm to endow the George and Thomas Henry Salter Trust. (fn. 41) The trustees were to increase the capital of the trust by accumulating half the income from the endowment for as long as was legally possible. The other half (and the whole, after accumulation ceased) was to be divided between two funds. One was for education. (fn. 42) The other was to be used for pensions, for supporting charitable institutions, or otherwise at the trustees' discretion for individuals of good character and resident for at least two years in West Bromwich. The trustees accumulated half the income of the original endowment until 1959. In the earlier 1960s the average annual income was almost £3,000, which was divided each year between an Educational Fund and a Pensions and Assistance Fund. Both accumulated much of their income; by 1967 the Pensions and Assistance Fund had accumulated about £8,000. In 1968, therefore, the trustees secured a Scheme extending the beneficial area to the borough of West Bromwich as enlarged in 1966. (fn. 43)

The Susanah Langstone Blackham Memorial Fund.

In 1927 Emily G. Bainton gave £100 in memory of her mother, wife of John Blackham, for distribution at Christmas to poor members of Ebenezer Congregational Church or in default to the poor of the community. In 1971 the income was distributed in 50p doles to seven poor members of the church. (fn. 44)

The Hammond Memorial Trust.

In 1952 Charlotte Clarice Withers gave £250 for the aged poor of St. James's parish, the income to be distributed at Christmas. In 1968 the income was £10 from stock. The charity was named after the founder's parents. (fn. 45)

The Akrill Trust.

Charles Akrill, a West Bromwich iron-founder twice mayor of the borough, built a house in Grange Road in 1901-2 and settled it as a home and a training and recreational centre for nurses engaged in home nursing. (fn. 46) The home was sold in 1952 to the corporation and the proceeds, with the funds accumulated by the West Bromwich District Nursing Association up to 1948, were invested. A Scheme of 1955 provided that the income should be spent on the sick poor of the borough. In 1966 it was £520, and £420 was distributed in money, clothing, and other comforts. The area of benefit is that of the pre-1966 borough.


  • 1. Char. Com. files.
  • 2. Ibid.; date on building.
  • 3. Char. Com. files.
  • 4. Ibid. For Davenport's Trust see V.C.H. Warws. vii. 558.
  • 5. Char. Com. files; W.B.L., Wesleyan Methodist Church Preaching Appointments 1866-82, circuit plans from July 1869; ex inf. the trustees (1969).
  • 6. The account of this charity is taken, unless otherwise stated, from Char. Com. files. For Chas. Akrill see below p. 86.
  • 7. West Bromwich is defined in the regulations as the borough existing on 21 Aug. 1912 (the date of Eliz. Akrill's will).
  • 8. Ex inf. the trustees (1969).
  • 9. Prob. 11/127 (P.C.C. 11 Cope).
  • 10. Shaw, Staffs. ii. 129; V.C.H. Oxon. v. 161.
  • 11. 9th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 258, p. 537 (1823), ix; docs. at All Saints', Tithe (Sandwell) Dole Bk. of Payments 1816-77; Free Press, 29 Apr. 1910.
  • 12. Docs. at All Saints', parcel 13, terrier of 1885.
  • 13. V.C.H. Warws. vii. 567.
  • 14. Char. Com. Scheme, 14 Nov. 1919.
  • 15. C 93/11/19; B.R.L. 277339; 9th Rep. Com. Char. 537-8; Hackwood, West Bromwich, 55; Char. Com. files.
  • 16. Abstract of Returns of Charitable Donations, 1786-8, H.C. 511, pp. 1134-5 (1816), xiv (2); 9th Rep. Com. Char. 538; Willett, West Bromwich, 139; Char. Com. files.
  • 17. B.R.L. 277339.
  • 18. 9th Rep. Com. Char. 538.
  • 19. Willett, West Bromwich, 139.
  • 20. Char. Com. files; Char. Com. Schemes, 7 Oct. 1927, 20 May 1964; ex inf. the vicar of All Saints' (1969); ex inf. the secretary to the trustees (1969).
  • 21. Docs. at All Saints', parcel 4; 9th Rep. Com. Char. 538. Willett, West Bromwich, 139, wrongly dates the gift to 10 May 1635. For the location of Puddings Land see S.R.O., D. 794/8; docs. at All Saints', parcel 13, letter from Thursfield, Messiter & Shirlaw to the vicar of All Saints', 1 Jan. 1931; L.J.R.O., B/A/15/West Bromwich (sub Elwell, Edw.).
  • 22. Willett, West Bromwich, 139.
  • 23. Docs. at All Saints', parcel 13; Char. Com. files; Char. Com. Scheme, 28 Oct. 1938; ex inf. the vicar of All Saints' (1969).
  • 24. W.B.L., Jesson Deeds, nos. 57-8.
  • 25. 9th Rep. Com. Char. 538.
  • 26. Char. Com. files; ex inf. the vicar of All Saints'.
  • 27. Prob. 11/461 (P.C.C. 105 Dyer).
  • 28. Willett, West Bromwich, 140.
  • 29. 9th Rep. Com. Char. 538-9; docs. at All Saints', parcel 13, terrier of 1885.
  • 30. Char. Com. files; docs. at All Saints', parcel 13; W. E. Jephcott, House of Izons (London and Dudley, 1948), 13.
  • 31. Ex inf. the vicar of All Saints' (1969) and the managing director of Izons & Co. Ltd. (1969).
  • 32. 9th Rep. Com. Char. 539-40; L.J.R.O., Moore's will proved 13 May 1761. According to Willett, West Bromwich, 141, and L.J.R.O., B/V/5/1772-3, the property was let for £4 10s. a year.
  • 33. 28 & 29 Vic. c. 160 (Local and Personal); The Cronehills Land in the Parish of West Bromwich: Rep. of the Clerk to the Guardians, presented to the Board of Guardians at a meeting held on the 15th July, 1901, 4-5 (copy in B.R.L.); Staffs. Advertiser, 13 Apr., 16 Nov. 1861; Willett, West Bromwich, 124.
  • 34. The Cronehills Land, 8-15; Char. Com. files; 3 Edw. VII, c. 203 (Local).
  • 35. West Bromwich Official Handbook [1963], 66.
  • 36. 17 & 18 Eliz. II, c. 69 (Local and Personal). s. 150.
  • 37. L.J.R.O., Copies of Wills, vol. xliii, ff. 155v.-156; Char. Com. files; Char. Com. Scheme, 21 Oct. 1924; ex inf. the vicar of St. Paul's (1968).
  • 38. L.J.R.O., Copies of Wills, vol. cxiv, ff. 239-40; Free Press, 10 July 1903; Char. Com. files; H. Baylis, Christ Church, West Bromwich, 1829-1929 (West Bromwich, n.d. but published for centenary), 25; ex inf. the vicar of Christ Church (1968) and the vicar of St. Philip's (1969).
  • 39. Char. Com. files; ex inf. the supt. minister of West Bromwich Wesley circuit (1969).
  • 40. Char. Com. files; Ede, Wednesbury, 275-6; West Bromwich Official Handbook [1963], 66; ex inf. the borough treasurer (1970).
  • 41. The account of this charity is taken, unless otherwise stated, from Char. Com. files. For Salter see Bache, Salter, 43; The Times, 19 Nov. 1917. For the firm see above pp. 35-7.
  • 42. See p. 75.
  • 43. Char. Com. Scheme, 29 Mar. 1968; Midland Chron. & Free Press, 23 Feb. 1968 (advert.).
  • 44. Ex inf. the minister of West Bromwich Congregational Church (1971).
  • 45. Char. Com. files; ex inf. the vicar of St. James's (1968).
  • 46. The account of this charity is taken from Char. Com. files; Char. Com. Scheme, 28 Jan. 1955; Staffs. Advertiser, 31 May 1902. For Akrill see ibid. 22 June 1907. The Nursing Association's 47th ann. rep. was published in 1945; this suggests that it was founded in 1898.