Key Topics


The Cross Key Charity

St Albans

If someone was well off they may well decided to make a gift to the community in the will, and it was not uncommon for a charity to be set up to make annual payments to the poor, or for the maintenance of a church, etc. These payments would typically be funded by rents from a property owned by the charity.

If records still exist these charities can be a useful source of supplementary information as, in addition to the benefactor information may be available on the trustees, the tenants of the charity property, and the beneficiaries. A good initial source of the charities that existed is the Victoria County History for Hertfordshire. The following example is an extract describing the Cross Key Charity, St Albans:

The Charity known as the Cross Key Charity. By deed dated 4 April, 16 James I (enrolled), in consideration of 200 (arising from a gift of 165 by Edward Smith and 35 by William Pennyman and others), Matthew Small granted unto the said William Pennyman and others a messuage or tenement in the town of St. Albans called the Cross Keys, and land adjoining, and three other tenements in the said town, and also the profits of the yearly fair called Prae Fair, upon trust that the rents and profits should be employed as to one moiety for the repairing and amending of the abbey church, and as to the other moiety for distribution yearly, one half for the relief of the poor of St. Peter's, and the other half for the relief of the poor of St. Albans for ever. The charity estates now consist of land in the London Road, let with the sanction of the court on three building leases for terms of ninety- nine years from 25 March, 1825, at reserved rents amounting to 62 a year, upon which twelve messuages and buildings now stand; house and shop No. 6, George Street, let on lease for fourteen years from 20 December, 1900, let at 24 a year; three cottages in Fishpool Street let on weekly tenancy and producing 49 8s a year; and a sum of 745 13s 4d. consols accumulating with the official trustees until a sum of 1,008 17s 11d consols has been reached, to replace an amount expended in 1884 on the Fishpool cottages. The charity is administered under a scheme of the Court of Chancery, dated 7 January, 1851. A sum of 50 a year or thereabouts is paid to the churchwardens in aid of the restoration of the abbey church, and 50 a year is distributed at Christmas in the form of coals to the poor of St. Peter's within the ancient borough, and to the poor of the abbey parish.

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