Catalogue description Records of the Charity Commissioners and Charity Commission

Details of CHAR
Reference: CHAR
Title: Records of the Charity Commissioners and Charity Commission

Records of the Charity Commissioners and Charity Commission relating to government regulation of charities.

For series created for regularly archived websites, please see the separate Websites Division.

Date: 1750-2022

Researchers should note that administrative procedures at the Commission has led to a dispersion of records and their contents. Those working through the Commission’s registered files should, in particular, be wary of assuming the records to be complete.

The extraction of papers from registered files, either to staff undertaking work or to be placed in a legal records store, was commonplace. Papers, when re-inserted, were not always placed back at the point from which they were removed, and it is not uncommon to find documents repositioned within a file, shadowing the latest papers and correspondence on a particular issue. Thus, whilst files will usually have a chronological flow advancing from the front to the back there may be discrepancies. Researchers are advised to work through an entire file when seeking material relevant to their enquiry.

A further complication arises from the continued operational use of some record series before, during and after selection for permanent historical preservation at the Public Record Office. It will be noted that record series CHAR 1 and CHAR 2 have been passed back and forth between the Commission and Public Record Office, with records of series CHAR 1 subsequently offered for deposit in local record offices. Arrangements for the disposition of Commission records have continued to evolve this partition, with the National Archives accepting records relating to the policy, strategy and national administration, and records specific to local charities deposited with local archive services.

In all likelihood material deposited in local archives may once have been held in documents now held at The National Archives, though there is no indication that these papers were present during record review or at the point of transfer.

Those undertaking research are advised to consult both The National Archives and relevant local archive services, noting that the latter is often the recipient of records deposited by the Charity as well as from the Commission.

Related material:

Records of the Secretary of State concerning the law relating to charities are in:

For Records of the Commissioners for Charitable Uses, see: Division within C

HO 45

HO 144

HO 279

Separated material:

Papers of the Commission covering the periods during the nineteenth century when it was responsible for educational charities are in:

ED 21

ED 27

ED 37

ED 38

ED 39

ED 40

ED 49

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Charity Commission, 1853-

Physical description: 32 series
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

from 1953 Charity Commission

Administrative / biographical background:

From the middle of the 16th century the monitoring of charitable trusts had been carried out under the terms of the Elizabethan Charitable Trusts Act 1597 and the Charitable Gifts Act 1601. By the end of the 18th century, the situation had become a cause of growing concern. Attempts to improve matters through the Returns of Charitable Donations Act 1786 and the Charities Procedure and the Charitable Donations Registration Acts of 1812 had proved ineffectual.

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