Catalogue description Elementary Education Endowment Files

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Details of ED 49
Reference: ED 49
Title: Elementary Education Endowment Files

Files of the Charity Commission (otherwise in CHAR), Education Department, and Board of Education relating to elementary educational endowments.

The dividing line between elementary and secondary education foundations is often indistinct. Where the provisions of a foundation clearly embrace both elementary and secondary education and separate files have been created, the elementary, or primary, endowment file is confined to its own field; anything affecting the foundation as a whole appears on the secondary education endowment file.

'General' foundations applicable to the whole or a large part of the county or a large ecclesiastical division also appear at the end of the county; cross references have been made for foundations covering more than one county. Foundations in county boroughs appear in alphabetical order, incorporating the title of the beneficial area, when it is not the whole county borough, as first part of the foundation title.

The separate group of 'General' foundations at the end of the list refers to those not concerned with a particular county in England and Wales. The group also includes a small number of charities applicable to other countries.

Foundations which have been transferred from one area to another owing to a change in boundaries are shown where they are now situated, but foundations which have moved from one place to another are listed, so far as pre-1936 papers are concerned, in the area in which they were on 31st March 1935.

Date: 1853-1945

The list follows a geographical arrangement and foundations are grouped under the civil or ecclesiastical areas comprising or containing the beneficial area. (The beneficial areas of foundations do not always follow the same boundaries as existing civil or ecclesiastical areas.) Cross references have been made where the foundations cover two or three parishes but where many parishes are involved the foundation is shown under a 'General' heading at the end of the county.

Files from special series (1903 to 1921 aproximately) dealing with estate management and approval of schemes, have been listed after the general file in the case of each endowment, school or institution. where separate files were created in respect of 'Estate Management' or 'Schemes' these have been incorporated in the series and listed immediately following the main file of the foundation.

It should be noted that administrative procedures at the Charity Commission have heavily influenced the content and arrangement of papers within files. In particular, papers were routinely extracted and passed to staff undertaking work or placed in a legal records store. Cross-reference sheets noting extraction details were required to be inserted but, in practice, this did not always occur. Furthermore, papers re-inserted were not always placed back at the point in the file from which they have been extracted. It is not uncommon to find some documents moved through the file, shadowing the latest papers and correspondence on a particular issue. Thus, whilst files have a chronological flow advancing from the front to the back of the document there will often be discrepancies. Researchers are advised to work through an entire file when seeking material relevant to their enquiry.

No file should be deemed complete as these administrative procedures straddle periods of custody at the Commission. In particular, aforementioned legal records extracted for separate storage were not returned when files were returned to the Department of Education.

A further complication arises from the continued operational use of these files, by the Commission, whilst, at the same time, the record series was subject to review and selection for permanent historical preservation at the Public Record Office. Some files were passed by the Board of Education prior to deposit, others were subject transfer from the Public Record Office to the Commission post deposit. There has been no formal cessation in the use of these files, even though the Commission now undertakes most of its work using electronic records. Researchers should note that some files remain absent from the collection. (Where records are absent this is noted in the catalogue).

The National Archives has, in the past, accepted collections from the Commission comprising files for individual charities. The National Archives continues to receive records relating to the policy, strategy and national administration of the Commission. Records specific to local charities are deposited with local archive services or other bodies associated with the charity. Those undertaking research of a particular charity are advised to consult both The National Archives and relevant local archive services in pursuit of records.

Related material:

Papers concerning endowments consisting of school premises, or a fund for the upkeep of school premises, are often inter-related with the records on the public elementary school files of the Ministry of Education and predecessors in ED 21

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

Board of Education, 1899-1944

Charity Commission, 1853-

Ministry of Education, 1944-1964

Physical description: 13195 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure
Unpublished finding aids:

The supplementary list for pre-1936 papers should be consulted in conjunction with the main list for the same period. Please speak to staff at the enquiry desk for the precise location.

Administrative / biographical background:

The Board of Education Act, 1899 transferred to this department the powers exercised by the Charity Commissioners relating to educational charities and provided that any question as to whether an endowment was educational or eleemosynary (related to alms) should be determined by the Charity Commissioners.

The Charity Commissioners, when necessary, made determination orders whereby the part of the charity which was educational was divided from the rest. Where a foundation was considered to be solely educational the determination was usually made by letter addressed to the Board of Education and in these cases, the existing files of the Charity Commissioners were transferred to this department.

The majority of the educational 'parts' of charities have acquired a separate body of trustees and have become separate foundations; a number however, remain under the control of the trustees of the eleemosynary parts.

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