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Some, indeed, are found to remit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer arrears of unpaid taxes; these, however, in proportion to the transgressors are few, and most probably but death-bed and imperfect repentances. Public money in the hands of an individual, unless well looked after, bears a striking resemblance to London milk, and is pretty well diluted before it is served out. Conscience is always elastic, but will stretch to the very extreme of tenuity when the public pull the string. Self, too, in most natures predominates; and it is quite clear that the administrators of the funds of the charities inquired into by the commissioners have been no exception to the rule; they have evidently taken in a literal sense the words "Charity begins at home," and have acted most fully in accordance with this interpretation. In one of the cases certified to the Attorney-General, it appears that out of an income of 31367. 12s. 8d. just 75l. 12s. 2d. was devoted in the year 1848 to the purposes indicated in the will of the founder. This is so happy an illustration of the mode in which these charities are so often managed, that we here pause to give it full effect. Honest trustees! conscientious self-denying individuals,—we were curious to see how many years it had required to stretch the conscience in this case to this result, and we find that the charity was founded in the year 1579.
Another case is that of the " Meer" hospital, in the city of Lincoln, which was founded by Simon de Roppell in 1244. The dean and chapter have refused all access to the records in their possession respecting this ancient foundation. It appears, that in the time of Henry III., the manor of Meer was held of the king in chief. The mastership of this hospital is in the gift of the Bishop of Lincoln, and, when the see is vacant, of the dean and chapter. The commissioners have derived their knowledge of this hospital from the public library at Cambridge and a few other sources; and one cannot help feeling gratified, that the endeavour of the dean and chapter to shield from all inquiry their gross mismanagement of the funds of this hospital, has been thus defeated. The document founding this hospital is to be seen in the "Notitia Monastica," and is to this effect
"To all the faithful in Christ to whom this present writing shall come, health in the Lord. Be it known to your corporation, that under the influence of Divine Grace, for the salvation of my soul and the soul of my wife Alice, my son Hugh, my father and mother, and my predecessors and successors, I Simon de Roppell have given, granted, and by this my present charter, have confirmed in pure, free, and perpetual alms to God and the blessed Mary, and the hospital of St. John the Baptist, which I have erected in my manor of Meer, for the support in all time to come of thirteen poor persons,
VOL. XV. NO. XXVIII.
as well in bed and board as in clothing and the other things necessary for the sufficient sustenance and apparelling of them, of the chaplain therein officiating and his family, all my lands which I have in Meer, with all the appurtenances, as well the services of free men as of villeins in the fields, pastures, woods and marshes (except the advowson of the church of Meer), and all my wood with its appurtenances in Bramston-in-the-Marshes, and others which by custom belong to the said wood of Bramston; and all the privileges which I possess in the common marsh of Hanworth, in wood and field, marsh and meadow, as fully as I at any time have enjoyed the same. I have also given and granted to the Bishop of Lincoln and his successors the right of patronage to said hospital; so that the Bishop of Lincoln for the time being shall appoint a fit person to be chaplain warden of the said hospital, who shall wear a certain religious habit, as the bishop may direct; and who, for the salvation of my soul, the soul of Alice my wife, of my father and mother, and of my predecessors and successors, as well as of my son Hugh, shall perform Divine service in the said hospital."
Then follow certain directions as to when the patronage is to be exercised by the dean and chapter, and directions that proper accounts shall be kept and rendered to the dean and chapter once a year. Next come provisions for extending the benefit of the charity as the funds augment, and the charter then winds up with this solemn adjuration
"And that this my benefaction may remain stable and sure, I have hereunto affixed my seal in the presence of these witnesses, &c., and, finally, I implore the dean and chapter in the name of Christian charity, that they cordially and effectually follow up and abide by the directions of this charter in all particulars."
It will be seen how these holy men have obeyed this solemn injunction,
For three centuries after the date of this charter nothing is known of this charity; but in 1534 the value of the Hospital of Meer is returned in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as 5l. 6s. 8d., subject to a deduction of 10s. 8d., leaving therefore a clear 41. 16s.
The next evidence is a memorandum of a lease, dated 20th September, 1553, by which the then warden leased to Thomas Grantham all the manor and Hospital of Meer and Bramston, to hold for sixty years at a rent of 51. 6s. 8d. The lessee to furnish always three poor men with meat and drink, lodging, clothes, &c.; also to find one honest priest (no easy task it would seem) to maintain divine service. This lease is confirmed by bishop, dean and chapter; and is instructive, for it already shows that the persons, who had the control of the hospital in 1553, placed it in a position different from that contemplated by the will of the founder; the number of bedesmen is reduced from thirteen to three, and the warden had already delegated to an
other the duties required of him in the performance of divine service. After this there is a gap until 1665, when Charles II. issued instructions to the Archbishop of Canterbury, directing him to procure a return from all the suffragan bishops of all hospitals throughout the kingdom, with a detail of their revenues, foundations and management.
The return applicable to the Hospital of Meer has been found in the archiepiscopal library at Lambeth, and is couched in these vague terms, worthy of Dr. Wiseman or Dr. Doyle :-" Mere Hospital, 1665. Bishop of Lincoln appoints the master, who is said to be Dr. Croft, and he puts in some poor men. The revenues are considerable, but said to be perverted."-Codex Manuscriptorum, vol. 29, p. 422.
From this date up to the parliamentary returns in 1786, the only information is derived from a series of leases of the hospital lands granted by the various wardens, the earliest of which is an indenture, bearing date the 10th February, 1680, whereby W. Holder, the then warden, demised the hospital lands to Francis Manby for twenty-one years, at a rent of 87., and yielding and paying also the sum of 247, in equal sums of 41. each to six poor men, at the feasts of St. Michael the Archangel and the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary. It therefore appears that the establishment had undergone great change in the course of 133 years. The hospital was by this time no longer in existence; the poor men, formerly inmates of the hospital, were now converted into mere out-pensioners, with fixed annual stipends, and mulcted of their board and lodging, clothing, &c.; the religious service appears to have gone long ago.
The subsequent leases for about a century have all been for terms of twenty-one years, and the same rent of 321. reserved. On the 2nd February, 1805, the Rev. F. Cumming, the then warden, received a fine of 3007. on granting a lease of twentyone years at the rent of 321. In 1812, only seven years after this date, the same reverend gentleman demanded the exorbitant sum of 44121. as a fine for renewing the lease; the lease was allowed to run on. The Bishop of Lincoln presented Mr. Cumming to another living, who then resigned the wardenship of this hospital, which was conferred by the bishop on his son, the Rev. R. Pretyman, in 1817. This gentleman is still the warden, and is also a member of the Chapter of Lincoln. In 1819, the lease devolved to Major W. Colgrave, who paid no less a sum to the Rev. R. Pretyman than 95281. 4s. ld.; in 1825, 23007.; and in 1834, 16007.; in all, 13,4281. 4s. 1d.; while the agent of the reverend gentleman pays six poor persons 41. a year each, and that is now all which is really devoted to charity. We can
only say that we are glad that the conscience of the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln is not in our keeping.
The land is now valued at 13117. a year.1
Let us now take one of the charities belonging to the Drapers' Company in the city of London, and certified by the Commissioners to the Attorney-General. Opposition to the bill is anticipated on the part of the London companies; it will be well therefore to take an instance of their management to show whether they have less neglected their trust than others.
It appears that Thomas Howell died at Seville about the year 1540, and by will left to the Drapers' Company the sum of 12,000 ducats, directing" them to buy property of 400 ducats rent yearly, and to pay the rent of the said property yearly in marriage to four maidens, being orphans, and of his lineage and blood, so that each of them should have 100 ducats; and in default of maidens of his own blood, then to give the same sum to other four maidens of good name and fame; and if the said sum of 12,000 ducats should produce more than 400 ducats yearly, to bestow the residue in marriage of maidens being orphans, and to the increase of the aforesaid maidens' marriage, as best should seem to the wardens of the said house." With the money eventually received by the company they purchased property, the rental of which was 1057. or thereabouts, but which now amounts to nearly 3000l. Only the sum of 841. per annum is paid for marriage portions. The property consists of houses and land in the city, and the company's hall stands on part of such land. No rent was paid for this land, until the Court of Chancery compelled the company to purchase it at a sum commensurate to its present value. The company have appropriated the residue of the 3000l. a year to their own purposes.?
The Hospital of St. John, in Northampton, is another good case. The exact date of its foundation is unknown. In Dugdale's Monasticon it is mentioned as a foundation for infirm poor. From various charters, the last of which is in the reign of Charles I., this was evidently the original object of its endowment. It appears from documents, which we have not space to extract, that this hospital has at times possessed very large estates, part of which are now lost, and that the allowance to the poor has, instead of increasing, gradually diminished. We
'This case was certified to the Attorney-General by the Charity Commissioners, and under a decree of the Court of Chancery the whole of this sum will be applicable to the purposes of charity when the present lease expires.
This case also was certified to the Attorney-General, and under a decree of the Court of Chancery the whole income of the property will in future be devoted to charitable purposes.
have tracked our way through a mass of old charters and documents of various kinds applying to this charity collected in the reports. Articles have continually been exhibited against the master, and petition after petition has followed on the part of the poor. As far back as can be traced, the hospital has been conducted in the same manner as at present. The establishment consists of a master, two co-brethren and eight almspeople-seven old women and one old man, who acts as clerk. The mastership is in the patronage of the Bishop of Lincoln. The co-brethren are always in holy orders; but there have been seven masters who were laymen. The eight old people receive ls. 2d. a week each, and besides this are on parish pay, as the hospital allowance is so small.
The commissioners estimate the present yearly value of the property belonging to this hospital at 17007., and quaintly state that it is clear the funds of the hospital, as at present administered, are of little use to any body but the Master. This case is also certified to the Attorney-General.
We hope we have not wearied our readers by the rather long details of these cases; we think they will be read with interest, and have felt it advisable to give them, that the propriety of introducing the present Bill may be fully apparent to those who were not previously acquainted with the subject. Had we space, we could cite hundreds of a similar nature collected together in the various reports-of which St. Cross's Hospital at Winchester, Spital Hospital, and Bridewell Hospital, are perhaps the most notorious.
In many cases the revenues of charities have been lost irrecoverably from the want of some proper authority to watch over and guard the trust,-others have been abused and diverted from their proper objects, because persons locally acquainted with the circumstances have declined to incur the pecuniary responsibility, or the odium of instituting legal proceedings. Again, legal difficulties and expense have sometimes prevented the trustees from carrying into full effect the intentions of the founder. And an ancient and traditional mode of managing the trust has acquired so strong a hold on the minds of all the parties concerned, that it is more than can be expected of the present trustees to make any attempt to break the established usage, however faulty.
Besides, there are a considerable number of charities wherein the present maladministration is wholly attributable to ignorance and want of information on the part of the trustees; who, under competent advice and direction, would be quite willing to correct what is irregular and defective. But at the same