Free Grammar School, 1545
The Rev. Samuel Bentley gives a detailed description of the long history of the Free Grammar School
founded by Sir Rowland Morton in 1545. It is said to be the principal charity of Bosbury and in 1548 a
report by the Court of Augmentations confirms details of the school at that time.
In 1566 Queen Elizabeth granted a perpetual yearly rent charge on land at Wormbridge to be paid to the schoolmaster
of the free grammar school at Bosbury in the sum of £8 5s. 2d. This appears to be equivalent of the proceeds
of the endowment of the chantry which had been suppressed a few years before. In 1608 certain lands and tenements
were gifted to the school and up until 1798 it fulfilled its function in the village. At this point a certain Joseph
Thomas was appointed master and things took a turn for the worse. In 1800 Robert Drew filed a complaint in Chancery
against the Trustees of the school that they had appointed an unqualified man as schoolmaster and also mismanaged the
properties and land they owned by letting them out at cheap rents to their associates. There were various other charges
and the legal case went on until around 1830. During this time the school was closed and buildings allowed to fall
into disrepair. In that year the Rev. John H. Underwood was appointed vicar and set about addressing the problems.
The Charities Commissioners’ Report is given in full elsewhere and shows the state of
the school a few years later. Mr. John Knight Job was appointed schoolmaster in 1885 and by 1891 Rev. Samuel Bentley could
report that a new Scheme of Management for the endowed school had been agreed with the Government and the future of
the school was assured. In due course the school became a mixed school and finally closed in 1967 when the new Church of
England Primary school opened in Bosbury. For more information please refer to ‘Bosbury Free Grammar School’ pages.
John Powell’s Charity, 1670
John Powell in his will of 8th August 1670 made charitable bequests as follows:
Item. I do give and bequeath to the relief of the poor of the parish of Bosbury, the sum of twenty pounds for the buying and purchasing of that tenement and small parcel of land of John Allen or John Beard in the town of Bosbury for the building and erecting of Almshouses for the use of the poor of the parish of Bosbury for ever and for no other use. But if the said masters of the said parish will not suffer it to be employed for that purpose then my mind and will is that the said twenty pounds shall be and remain to my executors herein after named.
And moreover for the better relief of the poor of the said parish of Bosbury and the most indigent poor thereof I do give and bequeath fifty and two shillings a year for ever to be paid yearly out of the rents, issues and profits of my land lying at Catley Rye in the parish of Bosbury aforesaid. And my will is that the yearly sum of fifty and two shillings shall be forever bestowed, laid out and employed to buy bread in manner and form following (that is to say) twelve pence a week for ever after my decease to buy six two penny loaves. And that the same six penny loaves shall every Lord’s day in the year be given and distributed to six of the most aged, poor widows or poor men in the said parish of Bosbury and not to idle rogues and bastard-bearing whores. And I do hereby declare that my said lands in Catley Rye aforesaid and the owners thereof shall be forever charged and chargeable to pay the fifty two shillings yearly for ever to and for the purpose aforesaid any gift or devise by me herein before made or devised to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
A Commission of Inquiry on 12th June 1676 found that the executor, his son, John, was not acting correctly under the terms of the will. However despite the Commissioner’s decree, there is no evidence of the almhouses ever being built and the bread charity is not mentioned in the 1819 Charity Commissioners report.
William Brydges Charity, 1704
William Brydges of Colwall in his will of 23rd July 1704 made charitable bequests as follows:
I will that on the second or third Sunday after my decease three pounds be doled to the poor of Colwall, to the poor of Coddington the same time twenty pounds, to the poor of Bosbury three pound ten shillings, three pound ten shillings [amount repeated is probably a copying error] to the poor of Mathon one pound ten shillings, to the poor of Ledbury the same time three pounds ten shillings, to the poor of Dymock two pounds ten shillings the same time and that each householder within the said several and respective parishes shall have at least twelve pence apiece and some more according to their families and wants in which due regard is desired to [be] had.
Item I give devise and bequeath two hundred pounds good money to my Trustees and Overseers of this my last will in trust nevertheless and to the intent use and purpose that my said Trustees and Overseers together with my said sons, William, John and Thomas Brydges shall as soon as a convenient purchase may be had, imploy, use, purchase and buy with the said two hundred pounds so much freehold land of inheritance as they agree.
For that sum in their names and of my said sons, William, John and Thomas Brydges and their heirs and that such deed of purchase that my said sons together with the trustees shall stand seized of the said freehold lands to theses uses viz. that they with the yearly rents and profits for ever shall imploy and bestow the same in buying coarse cloth hose and shoes to clothe yearly upon St Thomas’ day so many poor, aged and laborious people of the said parish of Bosbury and such who do not receive alms and pay out of the said parish of Bosbury but have demeaned* themselves by their honest labour without filching and stealing from their neighbours and are frequenters of the Church and communicants of the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at the least once in every year and that the said coats, hose and shoes be made and disposed of yearly at the time aforesaid to such persons as my said sons and trustees shall yearly see most fit and proper in the said parish to imploy and bestow the same upon and qualified accordingly as herein before is declared. [TNA will reference PROB 11/479/480 * This word is given as ‘maintained’ in the 1819 Charity Commissioners’ report]
The Charity Commissioners noted that this receipt was found among the papers of the Old Colwall estate:
29th March 1774 Then received of Mrs Elizabeth Brydges (sole executrix named in the last Will and testament of her late husband, the Rev. Mr. John Brydges, clerk) the sum of £150; £100 of which was left by the last Will of my great grandfather, William Brydges, of Old Colwall, as a charity to the parish of Bosbury, and to be applied as by his said Will is directed, and £50 other part thereof, was left by my late uncle, William Brydges, of London, woollen-draper, as an addition to the said charity. I say received as surviving trustee of the said charity by me, £150. RICHARD BRYDGES
Richard Brydges died in January 1813 and the Old Colwall estate was sold. It was bought in March 1827 by James Martin with certain conditions attached including:
Seventh, Whereas the vendors now pay or allow annually or at other stated periods the hereinafter mentioned
charitable donations to the parishes of Bosbury, Colwall and Coddington, viz.
To the parish of Bosbury, twelve coats, twelve pairs of stockings, and twelve pairs of shoes, good and sufficient for twelve poor men, parishioners of the parish of Bosbury.
To the parish of Colwall, eight penny loaves distributable among eight poor parishioners of the said parish of Colwall in each and every week.
To the parish of Coddington, two penny loaves to be given to two parishioners of the said last named parish in each and very week. [Quoted in the CC report 1819-1837]
It went on to say that the monies might be gifts from the vendors or interest on investments or charges on the estate. An arbitrator would be called in to decide. This may have slowed down the purchase but arbitration decided that the new owner would not be responsible for keeping up the charity payments. The Charity Commissioners reported that the charity bank accounts seem to have continued up to around 1817.
Francis Brydges’ Charity, 1727
Francis Brydges, in his will of 16 October 1727, left one hundred pounds to purchase land to be held in trust whose rent would provide £5 annually to buy an apprenticeship for a poor child, male or female. The Commissioners found that it was being paid by the Rev. Henry Lee Warner of Tibberton Court representing the executor and this was being used for apprenticeships as the will instructed.
With various small benefactions made to the Parish, the minister and churchwardens purchased land from James Walwyn of Longworth by an indenture of 13th October 1750 for £58. There were three acres of land in Catley Rye in four detached pieces providing a rental income of £5 5s. per annum which was distributed to the poor (not receiving parish relief) in sums of 2s. up to 6s. depending on the families circumstances. It was distributed on Good Friday and St. Thomas’ day.
Two pieces of land at Bacon Hill totalling around 7 acres were said to have been bequeathed to the Parish by Richard Bartley of London but no documentary evidence was found by the Commissioners. It produced £9 a year in rental income.
There was also a piece of land in Lea Common field said to be the gift of Elizabeth Went providing a rental income of 5s. but no conveyance was found.
Nash’s Gifts, 1751
In 1751 William Nash left indentures for the yearly rent charge of £12 2s. on 20 acres at Baggins Hill Meadow in Ledbury to be paid by the landowner to the vicar of Bosbury in order to buy two penny loaves to be given to six poor people every Sunday after divine service, the people to be chosen by William Nash while he lived and the after his death by the vicar and churchwardens. Payments were suspended around 1820 but later reinstated.
An unknown bequest left the rent charge on Stonehouse Croft on the Gold Hill Estate to be used for bread issued weekly to six poor people as per the Nash gift.
Elizabeth Brydges’ Charity, 1804
In her will, dated 28th August 1804 (probate granted on 17th June 1807), Miss Elizabeth Brydges, the daughter of William Brydges of London, left half the dividends of a three hundred pounds stock investment to be paid to the vicar of Bosbury to buy bread for poor widows of the parish distributed four times a year; the other half on the same terms to the parish of Colwall. She was born around 1752 and living in Ledbury at the time her will was written. This is the relevant extract from her will:
I direct that three hundred pounds stock in Old South Sea annuities part of the Stock standing in the name of my late mother, Mary Brydges, deceased, shall for ever remain in her name in the books kept at the South Sea House and that the said Nicholas Wescomb and John Emmerton Wescomb Emmerton, my trustees hereinafter named, shall cause the dividends of one month or half a part thereof to be paid to and received by the Incumbent for the time being of the Church of Bosbury in the said county of Hereford upon trust to be by him laid out in the purchase of bread to be given and distributed by equal quarterly portions four times every year, that is to say, on Christmas day, Easter day, Whitsunday and the first Sunday in October in every year, to poor widows of the parish of Bosbury, those to be preferred who do not receive parish pay and each to receive not less or more than twelvepenny-worth at one time. [TNA will reference PROB 11/1462/217]
The money was later invested in stocks and held by the City Commissioners.
Meaking’s Charity, 1811
John Meaking of Pimlico in his will of 1st April 1811 proved on 24th December 1812 left one hundred pounds to buy Government funds in the name of the minister and churchwardens of Bosbury church to provide half-guinea prizes for Latin and English prose and verse composition and also arithmetic at Bosbury School. The sum of £102 3s 5d in 5% annuities was increased to £107 5s 7d in New 3.5% funds in the name of Rev. John Lodge and Mr. Kendrick when the Charity Commissioners prepared their report in 1837. While the school was closed the Rev. Lodge had used the dividend from the funds (£3 15s. in the report) to buy clothing for the poor. The capital sum was added to school funds under the Charity Commissioners scheme adopted in May 1891.
Robert Probert’s Gift, 1860
Robert Probert of Bosbury left a bequest to the poor of Bosbury in his will of 1st October 1860.
Also as to all the rest, residue and remainder of my property I give and bequeath the same unto the Rev. Berkeley Lionel Scudamore Stanhope & to the Rev. Edward Higgins upon trust to pay and apply the interest of the same to the same uses as the Brydges Charity commonly called the Brydges Coal Charity is paid and applied and after their decease to the Owner of Bosbury House, vicar of Bosbury for the time being for the same uses I purpose.
Rev. Samuel Bentley says that the money raised amounted to £51 9s. 1d which was invested in Consols in the name of the Charity Commissioners, the dividends being applied, as with the 1704 Brydges bequest, for clothing. [HARC document reference AT24/28 at present (2015) held in Bosbury Church]
Sources: The Reports of The Commissioners into Charities in the County of Hereford, 1819-1837
Rev. Samuel Bentley History of Bosbury, 1891
B S Sharples, 2015