Westbury: Charities

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.

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'Westbury: Charities', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds, (London, 1965) pp. 191-192. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol8/pp191-192 [accessed 4 March 2024]

In this section


John Gibbs, of London, by his will dated 1772, left £500 to provide six poor men of Westbury annually with an olive-coloured coat and waistcoat. Gibbs's poor relatives, if any, were to receive first consideration, and after them Westbury burgage-holders. In 1833 it was not always possible to restrict the charity to those who had not received parochial relief. In 1954 the income of this charity was a little over £10 and it was spent on underclothing for deserving cases. (fn. 1)

John Matravers, of Westbury, by his will dated 1814, bequeathed £1,000 to provide clothing for 20 poor Westbury women, and £1,000 to establish a school for boys and girls. In 1954 the income of the clothing charity was between £30 and £40, and was spent on 9 sets of underclothing for women. (fn. 2)

The origin of Henry Smith's charity is dealt with elsewhere. (fn. 3) In 1832 Westbury's share in this was about £20 and was spent on calico for 230 poor people. A scheme for the administration of this charity was established in 1905 when it was decided to spend the income on subscriptions to hospitals, sick clubs, etc., or on the provision of goods to needy persons. (fn. 4) In 1955 goods worth about 7s. were distributed to 20 poor people. (fn. 5)

Thomas Ray, of Salisbury, by his will proved 1615, devised property in Gigant Street, Salisbury, with £13 a year to his daughter, Martha, for life and thereafter for the benefit of the poor clothiers of Trowbridge, Chippenham, Westbury, and Marlborough yearly in turn. In 1652 it was found that the charity had been much defrauded since the death of Martha Ray, and new trustees for each of the towns were appointed. In 1831 the annual rent of £25 from the property was in arrear, although Westbury seems to have received its share of the charity until 1832. In 1833 £100, representing these arrears, were divided among the four towns. The property in Salisbury was sold in 1877 and £1,000 invested. In 1898 a scheme for the administration of Westbury's share of the investment was made. The income was henceforth to be spent on subscriptions to hospitals or clubs, the purchase of certain goods, and the provision of loans and gifts of money. The beneficiaries were to be poor workers in the clothing industry. In 1903 some of the income was spent in maintaining children of cloth workers at a technical school. In 1955 small sums of money were given to 19 needy clothworkers in Westbury. (fn. 6)

In 1845 Richard Gaisford formed a trust and endowed it with £1,200 to provide clothing for poor men over 40 years old and women over 30 in alternate years. In 1857, after the death of Gaisford's wife, the endowment was increased to £2,000. In 1954 the charity was still being administered in accordance with Gaisford's wishes. That year clothing was given to 15 women, and the following year the recipients were 15 men. (fn. 7)

By his will, dated 1851, Robert Haynes bequeathed a sum, which when invested would yield £42 a year. Out of this, besides the benefactions to the Baptist chapel at Westbury Leigh, and the Upper Meeting in Warminster Road, (fn. 8) £18 was to be spent annually on clothing for six poor old men of Westbury, and £3 was to be paid annually to the Westbury Bible Society. In 1957 in addition to a payment to the minister of the Westbury Leigh chapel, about £5 was paid to the poor of that congregation. (fn. 9)


Prospect Buildings, Laverton Almshouses. In 1886 William Henry Laverton, acting on the wish of his uncle, Abraham Laverton, conveyed in trust the group of 39 houses called Prospect Buildings, then recently built along three sides of a square in Bratton Road. The 7 houses at the south-east end of the quadrangle were to be almshouses, maintained by the rents from the remaining 32 houses. At the beginning of the 20th century the almspeople, who could be either married couples or single persons, and who often were former employees at the Laverton Mills, received a weekly pension of 5s. Two of the almshouses had five rooms, the remaining five had four rooms. In 1923 pensions and maintenance expenses amounted to more than £150. (fn. 10)

Stafford Brown, Ivy Court Almshouses. In 1890 Mary Brown, daughter of Stafford Brown, Vicar of Westbury 1845-7, conveyed in trust 14 cottages adjoining the Warminster road near its junction with Edward Street. Four of the cottages which fronted the Warminster road were to be let and their rents used to maintain the entire property. The remaining ten cottages, known as Stafford Brown Almshouses, Ivy Court, were to be almshouses for poor parishioners who were members of the Church of England. The charity was to be managed by the vicar and churchwardens. In 1903 rents from the four cottages totalled £24 and the almspeople paid 6d. a year for their cottages. These formed a double row of two-roomed dwellings in a small court extending back from the Warminster road frontage. In 1937 the cottages facing the Warminster road had been converted into a house and shop and produced a rent of £25. The almshouses behind were dilapidated and plans were considered for pulling them down. Nothing was done until 1955 when the site with the disused almshouses on it was sold for £560. A scheme was then drawn up for the administration of the charity to provide pensions to persons who would have been qualified for admission to an almshouse. (fn. 11)


Among the bequests of Jeffery Whitaker, in his will dated 1775, (fn. 12) £50 were assigned for the poor of Bratton and £50 for the education of poor children there. In 1833 the stock had been improperly sold and only £1 15s. was spent on these two objects annually. The trustees, however, agreed to put the matter right. In 1913 a sum was set aside from the bequest to form a fund for educational purposes. In 1961 this brought in just over £2 and in the same year a little over £15 was paid to deserving persons within the parish. (fn. 13)


In 1697 12 a. of land in Beckington (Som.), known as the Castley Poor Ground, and a paddock there were bought with £97 representing legacies for the poor of Dilton bequeathed by Anthony Self, Christopher Pearce, John Cable, and William Turner, all of Dilton, and William Gilbert, of Portsmouth. In 1833 the paddock had been lost to the charity, but an annual rent of £13 from the 12 a. was used to buy bread and clothing for the poor of Dilton. A scheme for the administration of this charity was established in 1888 and arrangements made for the income to be spent in the same was as that of Thomas Ray's charity (see above). In 1903 the annual income was £15 rent and £2 from investment. (fn. 14) In 1914 another scheme for the regulation of the charity along the same lines was prepared. (fn. 15) All the remaining land was sold in 1918 for £340, and in 1950 grants of money were made from this charity to 77 poor people. (fn. 16)


Charles Nicholas Paul Phipps, by his will dated 1875, bequeathed £650 to his wife Emma Mary Phipps to be applied in a fixed proportion by her for the benefit of the poor of Westbury, Dilton Marsh, and Bratton. Emma Mary Phipps later conveyed the money to trustees to be invested and asked that the income should be used to buy blankets once a year for the poor of these three places. From time to time the interest on this investment was allowed to accumulate and in 1956 15 pairs of blankets could be bought for distribution. (fn. 17)


  • 1. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 780, 792; Char. Com. Accts. File 46.
  • 2. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 781; Char. Com. Accts. File 46. For the school founded by Matravers, see p. 188.
  • 3. See p. 134.
  • 4. Char. Com. File 82380.
  • 5. Ibid. Accts. File 46.
  • 6. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 784, 795; Char. Com. Accts. File 46.
  • 7. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 799; Char. Com. Accts. File 46.
  • 8. See pp. 182, 184.
  • 9. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 801; Char. Com. File 13160.
  • 10. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 803; Char. Com. Accts. File 46.
  • 11. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 808; Char. Com. File 119584.
  • 12. See p. 183.
  • 13. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 785, 821; Char. Com. Accts. File 7.
  • 14. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), pp. 787, 813.
  • 15. Char. Com. File 201149.
  • 16. Ibid. Correspondence File G and Accts. File 46.
  • 17. Endowed Char. Wilts. (1908), p. 810; Char. Com. Accts. File 46.