The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015



THE respectability of the trustees of these bequests, affords every reason to presume that they are applied strictly in accordance with the intentions of the benefactors; but if guardians of every trust of this kind were compelled annually to publish printed statements, in order that those who felt an interest in the subject might inform themselves in what manner the money was appropriated, without appearing to act invidiously by soliciting information from trustees and others, who are frequently jealous of any attempt at investigation, it would be a highly salutary regulation.

Charities under the management of the Corporation.

The monastery of Tewkesbury, by its endowment, was obliged to maintain thirteen almsmen with 10d. a week each for their diet, 6s. 8d. a year for gowns, and £.3. 6s. 8d. for the rent of all their houses. King Henry the eighth continued this charity after the Reformation; and Queen Mary, by letters patent, dated April 3, 1554, directed these sums to be paid by the auditors of the county of Gloucester for ever. The yearly produce, after deducting expenses, is £.33. 16s. which is paid to the chamberlain by the receiver-general of the county, and is distributed by the corporation to thirteen poor aged persons, who are called beadsmen, at 1s. per week each.

In 1674, Sir Francis Russell, bait, by deed, gave ten almshouses in the church-yard, a garden adjoining, called Warkhay Garden, and a piece of land in Smith's-lane, for the benefit of ten poor widows.


Mr. Edward Richardson, by will, in 1651, bequeathed £.60 to the corporation, to be laid out for the benefit of the poor. Seven houses and six gardens, in the Gander-lane, purchased with this money, are occupied by poor persons, placed in them by the body corporate.

In 1625, Mr. William Alye, of London, left by will £.100 to the corporation, for investment, the profits of it to be distributed by them among the poor of the town; and £.70 for the education of six poor children in the Tewkesbury free-school, to be selected by the bailiffs and corporation. The former sum was laid out in the purchase of certain seek rents, or rents of assize, which had previously been vested in the body corporate, payable from about fifty houses in the town, and producing a rental of £.7. 16s. 6d. The other sum was invested in the purchase of certain chief rents,[334] payable from about one hundred and seventy houses in Tewkesbury, which produce about £.6 annually. The seek rents are received by the corporation for the use of the poor, and the chief rents by the master of the free grammar school.

In 1608, Sir Dudley Digges gave £.160 to the town, to purchase lands, for the benefit of the free grammar school. Certain lands called the Hollams, an acre of ground adjoining, at the bottom of the Oldbury Field, and two half acres of land in Downbell's Meadow, were purchased with this money, and settled upon the school.[335]


In 1625, William Ferrers, esq.[336] by will, left to the corporation the annual sum of £.25, charged on the manor of Skillingthorpe, Lincolnshire; £.5 he directed to be distributed among the poor of Tewkesbury, and £.20 to be appropriated towards the maintenance of a schoolmaster, who should freely teach and instruct poor men's children in the free-school of Tewkesbury.

In 1607, Thomas Poulton left £.40 to the corporation, to be by them lent out yearly, without interest, to young tradesmen and others; and also an annual rent charge of 20s. on a house in the Church-street, (now the property and in the occupation of Mr. Jacob Allis), to be applied by them towards the maintenance of a preaching minister in Tewkesbury. The former sum has long since been lost, but the latter is regularly paid to the minister by the corporation.

The Right Hon. Baptist Viscount Campden, by will, in 1629, bequeathed to the corporation of Tewkesbury, the rectory and church of St. Ishmaels in Rose, Pembrokeshire, which had formerly been part of the possessions of the priory of Haverford west. One moiety of the rents and profits he directed to be distributed among the poor of the town and precincts, and the other to be applied towards the better maintenance of a preacher to serve in the church of Tewkesbury. The rectory of St. Ishmaels consists of two-thirds of the great and small tithes; the other third part belongs to the vicar. The tithes are compounded for, and the composition is collected by an agent for all parties. The vicar of Tewkesbury usually receives from £.40 to £.45 yearly, and the corporation the same sum.


In 1631, Mr. John Roberts, of Fiddington, bequeathed £.20 to the corporation, for investment; with the interest they were to purchase four tons of coals yearly, to be distributed to eighty poor persons in the week before Christmas. He also left £.10, and directed that the interest of that sum should be applied towards the reparation of the church. The former bequest was disposed of in the purchase of coals, during an inclement season, prior to the passing of Gilbert's act, in 1786; and the latter appears, from the corporation books, to have been lent to one Robert Jennings, in 1651, and was lost.

In 1636, Mr. John Wright charged a tenement at Kemerton, and lands at Bredon, with the yearly payment of 20s. to be distributed in bread by the bailiffs, or the overseers of the poor, one half of it on the feast-day of St. Thomas, and the other half on Good Friday.

Thomas Lord Coventry, by will, dated in 1657, bequeathed £.300 to the poor of Tewkesbury. With this sum, a rent charge of £.15 was obtained on lands in the parish of Bredon, now the property of the Rev. Wm. Hopton, of Kemerton; who annually pays £.12, there being deducted for land-tax, £3.

Mr. William Wilson, by will, in 1726, left £.100 South Sea Stock to the corporation, upon trust; the high bailiff to receive the dividends, and dispose of them to poor persons, without regard to differences of political or religious opinions. The annual income is £.3. 7s. 4d.

In 1732, Mr. Daniel Kemble left by will £.100, to the poor of Tewkesbury, to be disposed of in the same manner and by the same trustees as Mr. Wilson's bequest.

In 1732, Mrs. Elizabeth Hopton, of Bristol, bequeathed to the church-wardens and overseers of Tewkesbury, £.100, to be invested in land, and the profits to be given to poor housekeepers, on St. Stephen's day.

In 1651, Thomas Lord Coventry gave to the corporation £.200 to be for ever employed as a stock for setting the poor of Tewkesbury to work. Of this, the sum of £.130 appears to have been lost, prior to the granting of the present charter, in 1698;


the remaining £.70, together with £.30 of other charity money in the hands of the corporation, and two other sums of £.100 each, (the bequests of Mr. Daniel Kemble and Mrs. Elizabeth Hopton), were, in 1734, invested in the purchase of an estate at Berry-End, in the parish of Upton-upon-Severn, containing 12A. 2R. 25P. This property is now held on lease, for twenty-one years, commencing Feb. 12, 1818, at the yearly rent of £.33, by J.J. Martin, esq. of Ham Court. The chamberlain receives the rent, and pays one-third part of it to the directors.

The sum of £.92. 18s. 10d. is the net amount of the aggregate income applicable, in the hands of the corporation, to the relief of the poor generally. The expenses of repairing the almshouses in the church-yard and in Gander-lane are paid out of this sum; and the remainder is distributed to the poor, at Christmas, by the bailiffs, magistrates and town-clerk.

In 1682, Mr. John Read left by will £.50, to be laid out in land, the yearly profits to be distributed among the poor by the church-wardens and overseers.

The Rev. Robert Wriggan, by will, in 1701, gave the sum of £.5 to the parish of Tewkesbury, and directed that the interest of it should be given to the poor by the minister and church-wardens.

Mrs. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in 1722, left by will £.100, for the better maintenance of the minister of the parish of Tewkesbury, and £.50 towards the repairs of the church.

In 1725, the bequests of Mr. John Read, the Rev. Robert Wriggan, and Mrs. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, together with £.5 interest upon Mr. Read's money, amounting in the whole to £.210, were invested in the purchase of an estate called Abbot's Leys, at Gretton, in the parish of Winchcomb. The land measures fifteen acres, and is let to a yearly tenant at £.15 per annum, subject to a modus of 10s. The rent is paid to the vicar of Tewkesbury, who retains £.6. 18s. 1d. as his own proportion; pays £.4. 2s. 10d. to the directors of the poor, and £.3. 9s. 1d. to the church-wardens.


By virtue of the house of industry act, the directors of the poor receive those charity monies which before had been paid to the church-wardens and overseers. The directors are now in the annual receipt of £.15. 2s. 10d.; viz. one third of the rents of Berry-End estate, and their proportion under the division made by the deed of purchase of the Abbot's Leys estate. This sum is given by them, at Christmas, to such of the deserving poor as are not receiving parish relief.

Charities under the management of Giles Geest's Feoffees.

Mr. Giles Geest, by will, in 1588, devised to trustees four houses near the Bull-Ring in the Church-street, (which have been recently pulled down, and three new ones erected in their room); eleven houses and gardens in the same street; a house opposite the church; two houses in the Mill-street; one on the Mill-bank; three in Carr's-lane, and one in Walker's-lane. The testator directed that four feoffees should have the controul of his bequests; that one of them should be receiver of the rents and overseer of the property, and make a particular account, as well of the rents and revenues, as of the reparations, &c. to the bailiffs of the borough and the other three feoffees, every year in the week next after the feast of All Saints; that the said receiver should have yearly 6s. 8d. for his trouble; the auditor of the accompts, 2s.; and the bailiffs and the other three feoffees, 3s. 4d. to repast themselves. The residue of the rents, &c. he directed to be distributed among the poor people, resident within the borough, by the bailiffs and the other three feoffees, yearly, between the day of settling the accounts and the feast of our Saviour's nativity. In case of the death of a feoffee, the remaining three were to choose one other honest man, dwelling within the said borough, to fill his place. These premises are let to yearly tenants, and produce £.207 per annum.

In 1562, Mrs. Margaret Hickes devised to four trustees, a tenement at the bottom of Barton-street, for the benefit of the poor. This was rebuilt in 1793, and converted into two residences, now occupied by Mr. John Spurrier and Mr.


John Evans. She also, at the same time, gave the rent of an acre of land, in the Oldbury Field, to repair the roads between Tewkesbury and Ashchurch. The land could not be pointed out when the Oldbury was inclosed, and the bequest is consequently lost.

Mrs. Ann Slaughter, in 1617, gave by indenture a piece of ground, about one acre, called the Great Saffron Garden, at the back of the Barton-street, to four trustees, to distribute the rents among such of the poor inhabitants as they should think fit.

The same feoffees receive the rent of a piece of land, in the Severn Ham, containing two roods and sixteen perches. This is annexed to Mrs. Slaughter's gift, and is supposed to have been substituted for a rent-charge of 10s. which she bequeathed to her trustees along with the Saffron Garden.

The rents of the four last-mentioned bequests, amounting annually to about £.250, are received by the same feoffees. A portion of the income is at present yearly appropriated towards the payment of the money which was borrowed for the purpose of re-building the three houses in the Bull-Ring, and in discharge of the interest; the remainder, after the expenses of repairs, &c. are defrayed, is laid out by the feoffees, in supplying the poor with blankets and sheets.

Charities received by the Trustees of the Blue-Coat School.

In 1721, Dowager Lady Dorothy Capel devised to trustees, a farm called Perry Court, in Feversham, Ospringe and Luddenham, in Kent, to pay over to the treasurer, or any three or more of the trustees of the charity school for boys at Tewkesbury, one twelfth-part of the annual rents and profits of the said farm, the other eleven parts to be paid to the trustees of various other schools. The farm is now let on lease for £.450 per annum.

In 1722, Mrs. Elizabeth Dowdeswell left £.40 to the charity school for boys at Tewkesbury, but it is not known how this sum was disposed of.

In 1724, Mr. Thomas Merrett left 50s. annually to the charity school at Tewkesbury, payable out of his estate. One


moiety of this sum is charged on certain houses in Tewkesbury, and the other moiety on premises in the parishes of Ashchurch and Gretton.

In 1681, Mr. Thomas Kings (under the direction of Mr. William Curtis) conveyed by deed a piece of arable land, of five acres, called the Moors, at Twyning, for the use of such widows and other poor housekeepers, not receiving alms, as the trustees should think fit. The present rent is £.10.

In 1681, Mr. William Wakeman, of the Mythe, bequeathed to the minister of Tewkesbury, a yearly rent charge of 20s. payable out of lands called Red Pools and Middle Grounds, at the Mythe, to be distributed to poor housekeepers; and also 10s. annually for a sermon on Good Friday. These lands are now the property of John Hampton Hampton, esq.

In 1699, Mr. Robert Porter, by indenture, granted two-third parts, - and Mr. Thomas Kemble, by will, in 1732, devised the other portion, - of two acres of land in the Severn Ham, to four persons upon trust, to expend the profits in bread; directing that it should be given to the poor, by the church-wardens, on the first Thursday in February.

In 1716, Charles Wynde, esq. by will, charged his estate at Stoke Prior, Worcestershire, with the annual payment of £.10, to be thus applied: 20s. for a sermon, and 5s. for prayers, on the anniversary of his death; 40s. for reading prayers at six o'clock on Sunday evenings, between Lady-day and Michaelmas; £.5. 15s. to be distributed to the poor in bread and money; 10s. for keeping in repair the testator's monument, his wife's grave-stone, &c. and 10s. for any extra expenses.

In 1727, Mr. William Hayward left £.20, to be invested in land, for the benefit of the minister; and £.50 to the poor. These bequests were never received, in consequence of his executor dying insolvent.

In 1732, Mrs. Elizabeth Hopton, of Bristol, gave by will a piece of meadow land, near Salendine's bridge, in the parish of Ashchurch, and all her arable land in the Oldbury Field, to the minister, to preach six sermons, preparatory to the


sacrament, on the last Friday in every month, between Lady-day and Michaelmas. These lands are let for £.17. 7s. per annum.

In 1757, Sir Wm. Strachan, of Bishop's Cleeve, conveyed a messuage and lands, in the parish of Castlemorton, Worcestershire, upon trust, to apply the rents and profits in providing good coats for three poor old men, and good gowns for three poor old women; the remainder to be laid out in bread, and given to the poor of Tewkesbury. The land consists of eight acres, with a house and outbuildings upon it, and is let to a yearly tenant at £.8.

In 1776, Mrs. Sarah Hall, of Worcester, bequeathed by will £.200, the interest of it to be laid out in good stuff gowns, by the minister and church-wardens, and given on All Saints' day, to six poor maids or widows, belonging to the borough of Tewkesbury, not receiving parochial relief. This money was laid out in the purchase of £.352. 8s. three per cents reduced, now standing in the names of the vicar and church-wardens.

In 1803, the Rev. Henry Collet, by will, gave £.250 stock in the four per cent, annuities, upon trust, that one moiety of the dividends thereof, (after the death of certain persons), should be laid out annually in coals, to be distributed on St. Thomas's day, by the vicar and church-wardens, to the poor widows in the almshouses in the church-yard; and the other moiety to be expended in the purchase of five stuff gowns and other wearing apparel, to be distributed yearly to five of the said widows alternately.

Mr. Thomas Cook devised, by will, in 1558, a house and garden in the High-street, (then called the Fox, and which now form part of the premises of Lewis Goodin Senior, esq.) for repairing the church. This property was granted on a building lease, for ninety-nine years, commencing March 25th, 1751, at the yearly rent of 2s. 6d. for the first thirty years, and 30s. a year for the remainder of the term.

In 1566, Mrs. Juliana Best, by deed, granted an annuity or rent charge of 6s. 8d. on a tenement in the High-street, now the property of Mr. William Hawkley, - one moiety to be


distributed among the poor of Tewkesbury, on the feast of the Nativity; and the other to be applied towards the reparation of the Long Bridge.

Mr. Richard Mynce, in 1665, gave 40s. a year out of the lattermath of the Avon Hams, towards the repair of the Long Bridge. W. Dillon, esq. pays 20s. and Misses Sarah and Eliz. Darke, 20s.

The church-wardens receive 20s. yearly for half an acre of land in the Avon Ham, in the occupation of Mr. Charles Banaster. It is not known by whom this was left, but the rent has been paid to the church-wardens since 1564.

Mrs. Ellen Eckynsale, in 1568, gave 12d. a year towards the repairs of the church, payable out of two tenements at the end of Oldbury-street. In 1725, Halph Jeynes was the tenant; it is not known in whose possession the premises now are.

Donations to the Minister of Tewkesbury.

King James the first, in 1608, charged the rectory of Tewkesbury with £.10 per annum to the minister.

The same monarch, in 1615, granted to the assistant of the curate of the church of Tewkesbury, a yearly stipend of £.4. 7s. 6d. and £.1. 8s. 3d. for two chambers. These sums are now paid by the auditors of the county.

Edwin Skrimshire, esq. in 1683, granted the tithes of Tredington and Fiddington, after certain payments, to the minister of the church of Tewkesbury.

In 1690, Mrs. Elizabeth Townsend, by will, gave £.200 towards the support of the minister of Tewkesbury. This sum has been since laid out on land at Greet, in the parish of Winchcomb, now let at about £.15 per annum.

In 1685, Dr. Thomas Geers, by deed, settled the privy or small tithes of this town and borough, on the reader or assistant to the minister of this church for ever.

[334] The seek rents were rents belonging to the manor, formerly parcel of the possessions of the monastery; and the chief rents were rents belonging to the manor, formerly parcel of the possessions of Thomas Lord Seymour, or what were called Warwick and Spencer's lands.
[335] By the Tewkesbury inclosure act, an allotment was awarded to the governors of the free grammar school, out of which a deduction was made to satisfy their proportion of the expenses incidental to the said act. The governors are now in possession of the meadow called the Hollams, containing seven acres and nineteen perches, which is let for £.30 per annum. The other property in Downbell's Meadow was taken by the commissioners from the free-school, towards the furnishing out the allotment made to the lay impropriator in lieu of tithes, and the equivalent given to the commoners for their right of common extinguished by the inclosure.
[336] He was high steward of the borough of Tewkesbury, and was second son of Roger Ferrers, esq. of Fiddington, in the parish of Ashchurch. He settled early in life in London, and became equally eminent for his wealth and for his acts of benevolence. Independently of his bequests to the school and the poor of Tewkesbury, he left considerable sums to the church, to the poor and to the highways of his native parish, and also to many charitable purposes in the neighbourhood of London. He died Sept. 26, 1625, and was buried in Allhallows Church, Lombard-street. A small neat monument, with the half-length effigy of an old man, habited as a citizen of London, in a livery gown, with his arms, &c. was erected by his brother, in the church at Ashchurch.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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