HOLINSHEAD, St Albans, 1841 - Cross Key Charity

August 2001

Judith White of Frome, Somerset says: I'm transcribing the 1841 will of my 4x great uncle, William HOLINSHEAD. In it he disposes of his leasehold property in St Albans "reversion whereof belongs to the Trustees of the Cross Keys Charity Estate in Saint Albans". Have you ever heard of a Cross Keys Charity Estate? I think perhaps I've got the word Keys wrong as it sounds more like a pub than a charity!

The Cross Key Charity certainly existed in St Albans at the time. Like many other charities its income came from the rent on properties it owned. William Holinshead will have held a lease on such a property for an agreed number of years. The lease can be transferred to other ownership - but once the time is up the Trustees regain control of the property (although normally all they would do is to negotiate a new lease.)

There is no reason why the property owned by a charity should not include an inn or similar establishment - and take on its name. However I believe that two keys crossed in an "X" position is a heraldic device and I suspect that the keys represent the keys to the gates of heaven. Definitely there are several bishops whose arms include crossed keys.

I have set up a separate page on Charities - The Cross Key Charity - St Albans

If you can add to the information given above tell me.