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City of London Livery Companies' Commission: Report and Appendix, Volume 4 online

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application thereof; provided always, that the said Com-
pany shall have power to apply out of such surplus any
sum, not exceeding 200/. in any one year, to any object
within the scope and spirit of this Scheme, if extraordinary
circumstances shall in their judgment render it expedient
80 to do.

59. That this Scheme shall be printed, ^nd a copy
thereof furnished to each Governor and the Chief Matron
and each of the other Officers in or connected with the
said Schools.

Thb Mysteby of Improvidence.

The Charity of Thomas Howell, established for the
benefit of his Monmouthshire kinsfolk and others,
A.D. 1540. By Thomas Falconer, Esq., Judge of the
(/ounty Courts of Glamorganshire and Brecknock-

Second Edition.

Value of

Affe of Ad'
mission and
in the

A 1454 G.

The Charity of Thomas Howell.

Thomas Howell, by his will dated in 1540, and made
by him during his residence at Seville, in Spain, bequeathed
as follows : —

" Item, I comaunde myne executours that I leve in
Syvell, that incontynent, after my deathe, they doo send to
the citie of London 12,000 duckats of gold, by billes of
cambio, for to delyver to the House called Draper's Hall-^
to delyver theyme to the Wardeynes thereof; and the said
Wardeynes, so sone as they have receyved the same l2,iKk)
duckats to buy therewith 400 duckats of rent yearly for
evermore — in possession for evermore. And it is my will,
that the said 400 duckats be disposed unto four maydens,
being orphanes — next of my kynne and of bludae — ^to
theure marriage — if they can be founde — every one of them
to have 100 duckats — and if they cannot be founde of my
lynnage, then to be geven to other foure maydens, though
they be not of my lynnage, so that they be orphanes,
honnest, of goode fame and every of them 100 duckats —
and so, every yere, for to marry four maydens for ever.
And if the said 12,000 duckats will bye more landc then
the said 12,000 duckats to be spente to the marriage of
maydens, being orphanes, increasing the foure maydens
aforesaide as shall seme by the discretion aforesaide of the
Master and Wardeynes of the saide House of Draper*s
Hall ; and that this memoria to remain in writing in the
Booke of Memoryes in the said House in suche mannere as
it shall at no time be undone for ever."

In the year 1543 the Drapers' Company, having received
8,720 ducats as part of and on account of the said bequest,
purchased of Henry VIII. some premises, hereafter men-
tioned, in the City of London, which had become forfeited
to the Crown, on the attainder of Thomas Cromwell Earl
of Essex — ^the greatest and most powerful of those fearless
ecclesiastical reformers who struck down the domination of
the Church of Rome in this kingdom and the temporal
power of its priesthood — and on the conveyance of the
property the Company covenanted with the King to
distribute and dispose of the rents and profits which at any
time thereafter should clearly accrue from the said premises,
over and above the costs and charges of reparation, to and
for the marriage of poor maidens, being orphans, at the
discretion of the Master, Brethren, and Sisters of the said
Company for the time lieing.

On this occasion an Indenture, dated March 31, 1543,
and confirmed by Letters Patent dated July 4, 1545, was
made between King Henry VIII. of the first part, and the
Master, &c. of the Company of Drapers of the other part ;
and in consideration of 1,200/. the King ^ranted to the
Company a capital messuage and two gardens and other
buildings to the same annexed in the Parish of Saint Peter
le Poor, within the Ward of Broad Street, in the City of
London, and in the Parish of St, Stephen, Coleman Street,
{)aying yearly ten shillings and four pence into the Court
of Augmentations, and in further recompense and satisfac-
tion the Master, &c. covenanted to dispose of the rents
and profits for the benefit of the female orphans as afore-

The messuages and gardens are particularly set out in
the Letters Patent. The capital messuage and gardens
abutted in Broad Street South, and certain messuages,
tenements, and cellars lay together near the Church of the
Convent of the Augustine Bothers, in the said Parish and
in the Ward of Broad Street, and abutted on the street
leading towards Lothbury on the south and the way
leading to the Prioiy of the Augustines upon the north ;
also a messuage, cellars, and a gate-house fronting south
towards Broad Street, and abutting north on the Church-
yard of the said Convent, and a water-course and running
of conduit water to the said capital messuage, and a
way to the said capital messuage and tenement thereto
belonging by the gate called Friars gate, to Broad Street.

In the year 1559, and nineteen years after the death of
Thomas Howell, a suit (Chrysley v. Chester) was instituted
in the Court of Chancery by certain poor female orphans,
alleging themselves to be kmswomen of the Testator, and
that the Company had not properly applied the revenues,
and praying to have the benefit of the Charity. This was
in the fiirst year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.


A Portion
and Endow-
ment Fund

Ladies mav
visit Schools.

Visitation of
the Drapers*


Scheme to
be printed.

Digitized by




The Company bv their answer admitted they had received
8,720 ducats, and that the tenements and f?ardens pur-
chased produced 105/. per annum. They stated that one
year with another they had received, over and above all
charffes, the sum of 70/., which they had bestowed on the
mamage of maiden orphans, and that 30/. a year was
required for necessary repairs — that they always intended,
and did intend, God willing, as near as they could, to
perform the will of the said Testator, with as much of the
rents as should come clearly to their hands, over and above
all charges — ^if it were ascertained, or thereafter should be
ascertained, what maidens or orphans of the Testator's kin,
or lineage, ought by right to have the same legacies,
according unto his will, which thereunto they could not
perfectly attain to know.

By a Decree made on the hearing of the above suit
[June 24, 1559], it was ordeied :

That once every year, at the Feast of the Purification, a
Certificate should be made out of a certain pedigree or
" herbal '* [Heirbal ?] therein mentioned-r-which Certificate
should be made by the Bishop of Llandaff for the time
being, or, if vacant, by the Dean and Chapter of the same
Diocese, in writing under their respective seals, and deli-
vered to the said Master and Wardens, ascertaining and
proving that the four orphans named therein were next of
kin, lineage, and blood of the said Testator, and that they
were orphans, fatherless, and of the age of twelve years and
upwards, and were then living, on which certificate the said
Masters and Wardens for the time being should forthwith
make payment of 84/. yearly out of the rents and revenues
of the said lands to the hands of the said Bishop, or Dean
and Chapter, to the use of the said four orphans, for that
year, equally between them to be divided, that is, to each
of them 21/. ; Jind if it should happen, at any time, that
the said orphans being then next of kin and blood of the
said Thomas Howell should be within the age of twelve
years and not marriageable, the money should be paid over
to four orphans being of the next descent, as snould be
above the age of twelve years and marriageable, and that
under certain-mentioned circumstances the money might be
paid though they were named before they ought to receive
the same.

And it was further provided that if the said premises
should be decayed by casualty by fire, and that 84/. could
not be levied, the Company should be charged apportion-
ably; And it was provided that if the property snould be
improved in value above the 84/. payable to the orphans,
and 21/. allowed to the Company for their ordinary and
extraordinary charges, that then the same improvement over
and above the sum of 84/. and 21/. should be equally
divided and paid yearly to the said four orphans — portion
and portion alike — ^foreseeing always that the same im-
provement yearly, to be divided to the said orphans, did
not exceed the valiie of 16/. by the year.- And it was
provided that if the Company should receive the remaining
3,820 ducats, or such portion as would purchase an increase
of lands to the yearly value of 16/., the Company shall
pay the orphans so much as the increased rent should
amount to^foreseeing that in the whole the said orphans
should not be paid above the yearly sura of 100/.

It did not appear that the last-mentioned sum of 3,820/.
was ever paid to the Company. It is also an important
fact that the Attorney-General was not a party in the suit.
The reference in the above Decree of the year 1559 to a
certain Pedigree of the family of Howell has this explana-
tion : — In the year 1556, and during the reign of Queen
Mary, and when Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York, was
Lord Chancellor, a Pedigree of the Howell family was
certified in a commission signed by Cardinal Pole, who was
then Archbishop of Canterbury. The Conunission was not
issued in any suit in Chancery.

This Commission to preserve the remembrance of the
family of the Testator, and which was not made to advance
any ecclesiastical object, was the first interference of the
Church in the affairs of the Charity.

The femily of Thomas Howell was of Monmouthshire,
and many persons of that name are still to 'be found in
the county. The most eminent of the name, though it
might be impossible to connect hira with the Testator, was
James Howell, who was the son of a Rev. Thomas Howell,
and was bom near Brecknock, about the year 1596. He
visited Spain, Italy, &c., and his ** Epistolae Ho-Elianae '*
have been many times reprinted. His portrait has been
preswved in Monmouthshire, at Llantillo Crosseny. As
he was the son of a clergyman, it is not at all improbable
his father removed from Monmouthshire in order to accept
church preferment in Brecknockshire.

By the Decree of 1559 it was ordered that a certificate
-should be annually made of four orphans out of the
Pedigree certified by the order of Cardinal Pole, and ** that
'* the said certificate should be made by and from the

" Bishop of Llandaff for the time being." * The object of
this certificate was not to transfer any interest in the
Charity to the Bishop of Llandaff, but because Monmouth-
shire being in the diocese of LlandafP, a bishop in those
days was one of the best public officials to be referred to
on the subject of the family connections of a Monmouth-
shire family. Moreover, Anthony Kitchen, or Dunstan,
was in 1559 Bishop of Llandaflr, and he resided in the
palace of the bishopric, in the parish of Mathem, near
Chepstow, in Monmouthshire. He was buried at Mathem,
as well as his immediate successors in the see, namely,
Hugh Jones and William Blethin. The official residence,
therefore, of the Bishops of Llandn T being at that time in
Monmouthshire, was another sutiiuient reason to apply
to them for the certificate.

In the year 1593 another order of the Court of Chancery
was issued, the Lord Keeper Puckering directing the certi-
ficate of the Howell family to be made bv and from the
Bishop of Landaff for the time being, and by four, three,
or two Justices of the Peace of the Counly of Monmouth, the
Dean and Chapter of LlandafP to act instead of the Bishop
during the vacancy of the see.

Probably this last order was occasioned by the orphans
of the Howell family being unable to procure the certifi-
cate of the Bishop of Llandaff respecting their descent,
after the order of the year 1559 was made. The fact, how-
ever, that Justices of the Peace of the County of Mon-
mouthshire were associated thereirfter with the Bishop in
making the certificate is remarkably significant. It
demonstrates that in 1593 the chief descendants of the
Howell family were to be found in Monmouthshire, and
it further proves that the Bishop of LlandafP, or the Dean
and Chapter of LlandafP, had no more interest in the
Charity than the Justices of the Peace of the County of
Monmouth. The Charity was not for the promotion of
religious teaching, but was purely secular and eleemo-
synary ; and the very great importance of this distinction
will be made apparent in the sequel.

No other legal proceedings respecting the Charity appear
to have taken place imtil the 27th of July 1838, when an
information was filed bv the Attorney-General against the
Master, Wardens, Brethren, and Sisters of the Guild or
Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin, of the Mvstery
of Drapers of the City of London, for the establishment and
regulation of the Charity.

The answer to the information .stated that out of the
rents carried to the account of the Charity, the following
pa)rments were made : —

^ s, d.
Quit-rent to the Grocers' Company - 1

Quit-rent to the Parish of St. Edmund the

King - - - - -05-4

Clerk of the Company - - - 10

Incidental expenses for Surveyor's charges

and repairs - -

To the Order of the Bishop of Llandaff on
the receipt of a certificate that the four
persons therein named had been appointed
to receive marriage portions, such persons
being maidens, or those next of kin, and
lineage, and blood to Thomas Howell,
and of the age of twelve years and up-
wards - - - - - 84

And it was stated that the rest of the revenue was carried
to the account of the income of the Company. ITie
printed accounts do not show what amount of money n-as
paid under the head of Surveyor's charges and repairs.

The Defendants admitted that, at the time of the infor-
mation, the rents carried to the account of the Charity
amounted to 1,941/. 15«. \d, yearly; and this appears to
have been exclusive of any occupation rent for Charity
property in their own occupation.

The Company in their answer relied on the Decree of
the year 1559, as absolutely giving to them the whole

• In the flrsi edition of this pamphlet it was stated, on the authority
of Hayden s " List of Bishops of Llandaff," that the see was vacant in
15OT, when this Order was made. It appears, however, trora the list of
bishops in Williams's History of Monmouthshu^ " (Appendix, d 44)
that Anthony Kitchen, or Dunstan, was Bishop of Llandaff ftrom' 1544
to 1663. Ho is spoken of by Bishop Godwin as " the shame and reproAch
of the see (Coxe's "Monmouthshire," p. 10), havin/r aflected to
chanffe his opimons as often as the articles of professed l>elief of the
meml)ers of the Established Church were changed by law durinir the
time he was a bishop. He died in 1563. Hugh Jones, after a vacancy of
three years m the see, succeeded him in 1566, and was buried at
Mathem in 1674. He is said to have been the first Welshman advanced
tein^® ■«« »S..n«»^lXr*?I!®® Prooedin*? centuries. His suooeMop was
Wilham Blethin, a Welshman. Gervaae Babington was bishoD tram
the year 1691 to the year 1695. William Murray, a Celt, but a Scotch-
man, was made bishop in 1627. No ecclesiastic of a Welsh family haa
been promoted to the see since 1676, or during nearly the last iooyean.
Learning, prudence, and the moral character and courage of a sentle-
man, however, and not hit place of birth, should influence the nomina-
tion of a bishop.

Digitized by




residue of the lucome, affcer applying the sums therein
mentioned for the purposes or the Charity, which sums,
ihey contended, were limited to 100/. a year. They insisted
also on the long usage which had prevailed respecting the
disposition of the Charity income. They were charged with
a misappropriation of the rents, and by the Decree of Lord
Langdale, Master of the Rolls, dated April 29, 1845, they
were declared to have misappropriated them. They claimed
to apply as they should think nt nearly the whole income
of the Charity, and their claim was set aside.

The Decree of April 29, 1845, declared that the whole
funds in the hands of the Defendants, and the rents of the
land purchased under the will of Thomas Howell, were
applicable to the charitable purposes of the will. It was
oraered, among other things, that the Master should settle
a scheme for the future administration of the Charity and
the future application of the income, and he was to state,
having regard to the charitable objects contemplated by
the Testator, whether it would bs fit and proper any and
what extension of charitable objects and uses should be
made of the said Charity, so as to embrace other objects
than those immediately contemplated by the Testator ; also
to inquire if it were necessary an Act of Parliament should
be obtained to carry into effect such scheme as he might
approve of, and to settle the Draft of a Bill for an Act of
Parliament to extend the scheme, and to enable the Defen-
dants to purchase such part of the Charity Estates whereon
the Hall and Buildings occupied by them were built, and
the gardens thereto attached, discharged of the Charitable
Trusts to which they were subject, and for the investment
and disposition of the purchase-money.

The Master reported, February 12, 1846, that it was
most beneficial the Hall and Gardens should be sold, sub-
ject to a lease at a ground rent of 120/. a year. By an
Order of March 10, 1846, the Master was directed to
approve of such lease ; and on the 1 6th of April 1846 a
Lease was made by the Drapers' Company to the Trustees
nominated by and on their behalf, of the Hall, &c. for
23 years, from the 25th of December 1843, at a rent of
120/. a year.

Another Order was made by the Master of the Rolls,
June 2, 1846, for the approval of the Draft of a Bill for an
Act of Parliament for the sale of the Hall, &c., and the
Act of the 9th and 10th Victoria, c. 19 (A.D. 1846). was
passed, "to authorise the sale of part of the Charity
" Estates vested in the Master, Wardens, Brethren, and
" Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin
" Mary, of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London,
** upon the Trusts to the will of Thomas Howell,
" deceased."

Under the authority of that Act, the Hall, &c. were sold
to the Drapers' Company. This was the first Act of
Parliament passed relating to the Charity, and it may be
treated as the completion of the Decree of 1845, so far as
relates to the gatnering together of the property of the
Company. The administration of the Charity became the
subject of a second Act of Parliament, which will be men-
tioned hereafter.

The Information was filed in 1838 ; the hearing was on
May 3, 1843; and the judgment of Lord Langdale appears
to have been given immediately on the hearing. It occu-
pied nearly five years to obtain the interpretation of the
will and a declaration of the trusts. In 1559 {ante,
pages 16 and 17) the Decree seems to have been obtained in
less than six months. The account against the Company
having been ordered from the filing of the information, in
July 1838, and an occupation rent being charged on account
of the Hall, &c., there was payable on account of the
Charity, on the acciunulation of rents during the pen-
dency of the litigation from the year 1838 to the year 1846
(when the tirst Act of Parliament was passed), a sum of
about 16,000/.

The Company were ordered in 1843 to pay the costs of
the information—** having,'* said Lord Langdale, "thought
" fit to have this (juestion tried in order that they might
** have the application of this money according to their own
" \'iew of what was right.'* Their view of what was right
was, that 100/. a year only should be applied to the pur-
poses of the Charity.

Lord Langdale also said, ** that nothing could be more
*' satisfactory in an investigation of this kind than to find
" that there is no possibility of any imputation of bad or
** corrupt conduct on the part of the Defendants. The
" present Defendants, beyond all question, have applied
" this fund just in the manner in which it has been applied
" by their predecessors; in all probability they never
" looked at the original foundation at all, but, instead of
" applying it to any beneficial purpose of their own, it is
" now shown by the evidence and the answer, and it is
" admitted by the Attorney-General, that they have applied
** the funds in a beneficial manner for the most useful

" charitable purposes." He also said, "that very great
" doubt mignt be entertained whether extending the
" charitable purposes of the Founder would be productive
" of effects anything like so beneficial as the charitable
" purposes promoted by them." [6 Beavan's Chanceiy
Reports, p. 389.] How far more satisfactory would it
have been had Lord Langdale spoken to this effect : —

" Ail persons who are called upon to administer local or
public trusts should remember that their first duty is to
acknowledge themselves to be accountable, and they should
freely admit their responsibility by publishing, at stated
intervals of time, the origin of the trusts, the objects of the
trusts, and the application of the funds under their con-
trol. If money is expended by them, they should announce
the amount and its application ; if money is in hand they
should declare it, and if, unfortunately, debt is incurredf,
it affects their private character and honour if they fail to
publish the narticidars, and truthiiilly to explain the cause.
There should be no secresy, and any attempt to keep
private or to conceal the state of affiairs is to be condemned.
I regret that in this case there has been concealment from
the public for a very long series of years. The attempt to
bring to light the management of the Charity has occa-
sioned five years of litigation. Why has there been this
delay P Either the procedure of this Court is flagrantly
iniquitous, or hindrances have been opposed to the hearing
of the cause by the acts of the parties, which deserve the
strongest censure on those who have caused them. My
decision has been checked by no difficulty in the case.
The facts presented to my ^consideration are free from
doubt ; the construction of the will of the Testator has no
obscurity, though time has hidden from the benefit of bis
Charity those whom he intended his trustees to remember
to be of his blood and kin ; and the misappropriation of the
funds is manifest. 1 can offer no excuse for the conduct
of the Drapers* Company, and no other excuse can be
suggested than that practice, so pregnant of abuse and so
common among the companies of the City of London, of
hiding from public investigation their dealings with charity
funds, and then setting up their long and successful
secresy in order to sanction what they have done. They
excuse their own acts because they are similar to the acts
of their predecessors. To justify such a defence they should
be able to prove the acts of their predecessors to have been

The above statement relates the history of the adminis-
tration of the Charity from its foundation until the year
1846. ^

As there are different legal rules for the administration
of Charities, it is important to notice the following, and to
observe the class of Charities in which the Charity in ques-
tion was included :

I. If a Charity were founded to support a religious
establishment, or to promote religious education, and the
intentions of the Founder are not clearly expressed, the
presumption is, first, that he intended to establish a Charity
connected with sonie particular form of religion ; secondly^
that the form of religion intended was that which he himself
professed; and thirdly,— if no evidence is given of his
own religious views — that the established religion of the
country was meant to be supported.

II. In educational Charities the Court will not deprive
particular classes of person of the benefits of the secular
education offered by enforcing rules of religious instruc-
tion, unless there be an expressed intention to that effect.

III. Where the Charity is purely eleemosynary the pre-
sumption is, that all classes, irrespective of religious
doctrines, are intended to participate in the bounty of the
Founder, unless there are clear and distinct expressions of
intention to exclude particular persons from its benefits.

(See the Case of Attorney -General v. Calvert, reported
23 Beavan's Reports, 248; 21 Jurist, 500; 26 Law
Journal, 682.)

From the recital of the facts which has been made it is

Online LibraryGreat Britain Great Britain. London livery companies commissionCity of London Livery Companies' Commission: Report and Appendix, Volume 4 → online text (page 57 of 169)