Catalogue description BELOVED WILKES CHARITY

This record is held by Bristol Archives

Details of 33792
Reference: 33792

Records of the Beloved Wilkes Charity, together with documents relating to the Revd. Peter Grand's, the Revd. William Langton's Charity and the Revd.Henry Berrow's Charity

Date: 18th century -1928

The Charity of Beloved Wilkes: General administration 1-22


Estates 23 - 47


Widows 48 - 52


Scholars 53-61


Vouchers,correspondence, etc 62-216


Revd. Peter Grand's Charity 217 -221


Revd. William Langton's Charity 222 -224


Revd. Henry Berrow's Charity 225 -226

Held by: Bristol Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Beloved Wilkes Charity

Physical description: 226 files
Publication note:

For further records relating to Grand's, Langton's and Berrow's charities, see the Guide to the Parish Records of the City of Bristol and the County of Gloucester, by I Smith and E Ralph

Administrative / biographical background:

Beloved Wilkes of the parish of Wick and Abson, in his will dated 1722, left an estate in trust to the ministers of Pucklechurch, Doynton and Dyrham for the support of two or more poor widows of ministers of the Church of England, the residue to be used for the education at school and at Oxford of a lad in order to make him a minister of the Church of England.


The boy was to be chosen from the parishes of Wick and Abson, Pucklechurch, Doynton and Dyrham and of parents unable to provide him with such an education. The trust came into effect in 1744 and in 1750 a plan of the estate was drawn up by Gregory Nicholls. Much of the early material relates to the estate of about 31 acres which was leased out, always to one tenant. Two widows were always in receipt of £10 p.a. from the charity, but nothing was done about the education of boys and the funds of the charity continued to accummulate until 1827 when the trustees applied to the Court of Chancery for directions of how to dispose of the surplus. The result was that several more widows were given annual donations in addition to the annuities given to the two main recipients and in 1828 the first scholar, Eccles Carter, was chosen. The scholars subsequently chosen were usually about 16 years of age and spent two years or so at school at the expense of the charity before going up to Oxford. Many of the boys were sons of clergymen unable to afford the education their sons needed for ordination. The parochial qualification was rarely adhered to, since suitable boys could not be found within the four parishes and applications were accepted from all over the country; the final choice, however, usually had local connections. The one scholar who fulfilled the parochial qualification, Jefferis Strange Ashley, 1859-1867, was one of the few who were not successes. He failed his exams at Oxford and ran away to America leaving debts behind him. In 1848 when Charles Joyce was elected there was a protest from parishioners in the four parishes against the trustees for having chosen a boy from outside the parishes when there was a suitable candidate within them, a boy named Gale from Doynton. The trustees maintained their right to decide who was or was not a suitable candidate and that they had rejected Gale as unsuitable. There followed a law suit which was finally decided in 1851 in favour of the trustees by the Lord Chancellor himself.


The annual bundles of vouchers and correspondence cover most years from 1744 to 1911. To about 1800 they are mainly concerned with the administration of the estate bequeath to the trustees by Mr. Wilkes. From that date on, there are increasing numbers of letters from widows seeking aid from the charity and acknowledging receipt of it. Printed petitions were issued to those applying, in which the widow was asked to give the name of her husband and the benefice formerly held by him, the names and conditions of their children and their other sources of income if any. A considerable number of petitions survive, particularly for the years 1836 and 1874, and the correspondence from widows gives a vivid picture of the destitute state to which many clergy widows were reduced. The correspondence relating to scholars contains letters and reports from their schoolmasters and college tutors as well as letters from the boys to the trustees and vouchers for all their expenses. The annual bundles are slight for the years 1662-1672, with only a few odd documents, and are also slight from 1866 onwards.


The Revd. Peter Grand, rector of Dyrham by his will dated 1791 bequeathed £200 to the trustees of Wilkes' charity to be invested and the income added to the two annuities to widows. He also founded a charity of which, like the Wilkes' charity, the ministers of Dyrham, Doynton and Pucklechurch were trustees and which was to pay the schoolmaster of Dyrham £10 p.a., keep the schoolhouse in good repair and buy equipment. The rest of the income was to go to six poor clergymen with two or more children, and not possessed of any benefice. To the trustees of the Revd William Langton he left a house and premises in Dyrham to be used as a house for the schoolmaster.


The Revd. William Langton's charity, founded in 1668, left an estate in trust to pay two thirds of the income to the churchwardens and overseers of Dyrham towards the schooling of poor children in the parish and the binding of apprentices. The other third was to be paid to the churchwardens and overseers of Doynton for the same purposes.


The Revd. Henry Berrow, vicar or Pucklechurch established in 1718 a charity, the income of which was to pay for a school master and mistress to teach 10 poor boys and 10 poor girls of the parish. One-fifth of the income was to be paid to the master of the charity school in Wick and Abson.

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