Thomas Brewer's Charity

Thomas Brewer, a yeoman living in Winthorpe in the late sixteeth, early seventeenth century, is one of the village's best-known benefactors, and his Will dated September 7th, 1616, shows him to have been a man of some standing. After the customary phrases, bequeathing his soul to Almighty God, he lists many bequests to friends, relatives and servants in the village, of which the following are some of the items :-

"I give unto Grace Brittine five pounds to be paid unto her within one yeare after my Decease and to Ann Lomas, Daughter of William Lomas, I give other five pounds by my Executors within one yeare to be put forth for her use until she come to Twenty and one yeares of age."

(Equivalent values are difficult to estimate, but the £ was than worth many times more than its present-day value.)

"I give to Widdow Gilman one Cow which is at Watholma. Item I give to John Thorpe one Blacke rugged Heffer. Item I give to William Hale one Cowe at tha Discretion of my Executors. Item I give to Widdow Pratt one cow at the Discretion of my Executors and I give to Richard Inkersall my yealow ambleinge Mare ..... I give to every one of Richard Skelton Children one Ewe and Lamb ...... And to every one of Reginold Skelton Children one Ewe and a Lamb" .....

A number of other children and widows were left sums between l0/- and 40/- and many more children were left a ewe and a lamb each.

"I give to Mr. Roger Bacon my Gray ffvllye." Mr. Bacon was Rector at the time, and he was appointed one of the two Supervisors of the Will. A later entry in the Will is: "I give to Mrs. Bacon my Bay fillie." The Rectory in Tudor times was quite near Thomas Brewer's house, further down the lane, which now forms the back drive to Winthorpe Hall.

The Will lists several tenants who were left sums of money, or whose debts were remitted or whose rents were reduced. Then :-

"I give to my Servants ffishe, Bryan Tayler and Crosbye to everye of them 10/- a peece and to my Servant Katherine 10/- and to Ann Eaire 2/6."

Thomas Brewer seems to have been unmarried. There is mention of "my Cosen Alice who was my Sister Howrobins daughter." ("Cousin" is here used in the old general sense of "relative.") Alice was left 40/- as was also "my aunt Smith and to every one of her Sunes two Shillings a peece." Much property, and the residue after certain charitable bequests (which will be described in a moment) was to be shared by "my Sister Hellen Whalhead" who was to have "all my freehould Lands and Tene­ments in Newarke and Northgate next Newarke." The other legatee was "my Cosen Refer Atkinson," who with William Whalhead (or Wallhead) was to be Executor.

In addition to these interesting personal bequests, Thomas Brewer left money and property to Winthorpe, which instituted a charity which is still in existence.

"I give to the Towne of Winthorpe £20 which my Will is to continue for ever and to have it lett forth yearly at 20d. the pound." The interest was to be distributed by the parson and the church­wardens of the time "to deale the Yearly Use of the Money to the poore of the Town of Winthorpe at St. Thomas the Apostle Day and good ffriday by Eaven portions."

"and I further give to the said Towne of Winthorpe for ever my new Whyte House in Winthorpe and the two Oxgange* of arable Land meadow and pasture."

 * ( Note:-  An oxgang was originally supposed to represent the area of land a pair of oxen could keep in husbandry, usually 15 acres, but this could vary according to the type of soil.)

The house and land were to be let, and the yearly rent, distributed as before to the poor of Winthorpe by the parson and churchwardens, who were required to keep the house in good repair.

The copy of the Will from which the above notes have been made is undated, but appears to be the one referred to in an 18th century Brewer's Charity Account Book. At. St. Thosmas' Day 1777 there is an item "Office Copy of Mr. Brewer's Will for the Perusal of the Trustees the former one being lost ......£1.11.6." This copy is much worn on the outer page; it was kept in the parish chest.

The charity account books make fascinating reading, from which it is possible to catch a glimpse of the life of the village in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and of the needs of the poor at the time. The very first account books do not appear to have survived. The earliest is dated Good Friday 1774 and is a fragile notebook.

The first entry, for that date, records rent and interest coming in from Saml. Fisher and Roger Pocklington ..... £7.8.6. This sum was distributed as follows :-

Tythe                                    £1. 9.  0.

Clerk                                          1.  4.

John Kenewel.                       10.  6.

Mary Hazard                           10.  6.

Wid: Spaford.                           6.  0.

Wid: Black                                5.  0.

Wid: Clarke                              7.  0.

John Season                           5.  0.

Wid: Hoyse                               7.  6.

Wid: Tomson                          15.  0.

John Brealy.                              5.  0.

Remaining for Repairs      1.16. 8.

                                                7.  8. 6.

 

 

In these years almost all the money appears to have been disbursed, and the amounts vary according to need. Rents were paid by Samuel Fisher and 13/- interest was paid on £13 advanced to Roger Pocklington as a fund for repairs that "might become necessary to be done to the House, part of the said Charity." A note adds that "this fund commenced on St. Thomas' Day 1782," and is signed by W. Rastall, Rector, and Edm. Horner, Trustees to the Charity; and on April 13th, 1799, there is a memo

"Roger Pocklington paid to Edmund Horner one of the Trustees as Churchwarden £13.2.9½. paid to sundry Tradesmen for the Repairs to Mr. Brewer's House by the said Edmund Horner."

Roger Pocklington, the owner-occupier of Winthorpe Hall, had a map made of his prop­erties in Winthorpe in 1775 by W. Attenburrow. This map, the original of which is in Newark Museum and a copy in Winthorpe Village Hall, shows various exchanges which he made to consolidate his estate, which exchanges were confirmed by the official Enclosure Award "for dividing and enclosing the open fields, meadows and grounds in the Parish of Winthorpe in the County of Nottingham, Dated 28 May 1778."

Under the terms of this award, which will be referred to again in other parts of the Scrap-Book, the Trustees conveyed to Roger Pocklington the "White House, Garden and Orchard" together with over thirteen acres of charity land, in exchange for a house, garden and close ("Clark's Close") last occupied by Widow Skelton, on Holme Lane, and various pieces of land totalling over thirteen acres.

From the account books it appears that Thomas Brewer's White House may have been used at this time as an almshouse and lodging house. In 1778 there is an item referring to the rent of one room by John Smalley 7/6, and similar items are recorded, suggesting that John Smalley continued to rent this room until Good Friday 1780, which is the last entry.

In 1780 dole was distributed to five widows, two men and "Sarah Crow," the sums varying from 12/- to £1.14.0.

In 1785 there is an item "Jos. Mayfield Widower with a larger family .... 18/-."

In 1790"Wm. Kirkby's Apothecary's bill £1.19.6."

and in 1792 "Ann Booths Child for Clothes 5/11."

Items at this time also mention "windows mending" and in 1806

"Five tons of coals          £3.10.0.

Carriage for -do-                11.3." 

Then at St. Thomas' Day 1809 there are several items which appear to record the extension of the house on Clark's Close by other houses which still exist as the present almshouses :-

"Paid Blacksmiths Bill for work etc. at Houses       £3. 8. 6.

Paid Balance to Carpenters                                       £2. 4. 6.

Paid Mr. Ward in part of his Bill for work

and material for the new Houses                          £15. 8. 3½."

Until 1811 there continue to be various items recording remaining payments to glaziers and carpenters for erecting the new houses, and from then on there are bills for repairs from time to time:

"the Bakehouse lock repairing   - 6d."

"Townrow's Door-case mendg    - 2/-"

"New floor to Camamile's house - £2.0.3."

This was evidently James Camomile, whose son also had help that year:

"Clothing James Camamile's boy - £2.14.0."

 

A relative of his who lived elsewhere, as we shall see from the Poor Law Accounts, was sent a sum of money:

"Remitted to Jos.Camamile to pay his Michaelmas rent -    £2.0.0."

This family's name crops up in many aspects of the village life.

All through the nineteenth century the charity appears from the accounts to have been distributed for many forms of relief, and all the year round. The most frequently mentioned gift is of coal, but some of the poor had every imaginable kind of help.

For instance, Ann Worstenholme and her orphans, who in 1813 were granted £3.8.8., are mentioned over and over again until 1822, when in September there is an item:

"Account sent to Bedale for Worstingholme's Boy

to be put out Apprentice                                            - £6.0.0."

There are other names, which occur many times, e.g.

"1814. A. Astling on acct of Illness                          - £1.  0. 0.

 1817. Paid Astlings Wife Funeral                           - £2.  0. 0.

 1818. Meat for Astling 10 Ibs.                                 - £2.10. 0.

Cloathing for Astlings Boy                                        -      15. 6.

Shoes for Astlings Girl                                              -        4. 6."

The last item which probably refers to the same family occurs in 1831:

"Aug.29. Asline in illness

(cholera morbus since dead)                                 -      10/-"

 

The poor of Winthorpe, within the parish and outside, were helped with their rent, their clothes, their food; they had gifts of money in childbirth or in death :-

 

1817   "Pd. for Blankets and Sheets and

Frock for Kirkby                                          -    18/-

Pd. for Widdow Robinson a Bill

at Cawthans                                               -    9/6."

1818   "6 yds. Flannel at 1/3 a yard        -    7/6

Pr. of Shoes for Poor                                -    9/8"

1822   June. "Box for Childbed Linen   -    15/-

Sept. Widow Sims Funeral                     -  £1.1.0.

Oct.   Dole Money sent to Joshua

Duckworth who with His Family

were in great Distress                             -  £3.10.0."

And again, in 1830:

"Feb. Sent to Widow Duckworth in London

(much distressed)                                     -  £2.0.0."

 

In June of the same year a dole of £1 was given to each of five widows and £1 also to "Marshall's Wife (a case of ague)."

Incidentally, in the same year £1.8.0. was spent on "repairing, cleaning and painting Houses" and "Ale for workmen during said work" cost 5/-. There are other references to occasional tips for workmen, e.g.

Good Friday 1816:   "Mr. Roberts for Ale to Man who brought Coals at Xmas     1/-."

In January 1829, a Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring into Charities examined the terms of Brewer's Will and investigated the exchanges and variations that had been made after­wards, and their printed report (of which a copy remains in the parish) shows that the rents of the charity properties had been raised from time to time by the Rector and churchwardens, and in 1827 amounted to about £54 per annum. The Commissioners, while thinking this to be a fair rent, suggested that the charity might do better in future by inviting public competition. The report also mentions the fact that a sum of £10 is paid yearly to a schoolmaster for a small-charity school. (This will be described in more detail in the section about the schools.)

The publication of this report seems to have inspired the trustees of the charity to commemorate Thomas Brewer, the founder, in some way, and there is an entry for September 21st, 1829, which reads:

"Tablet for the Church descriptive of the   )

Benefaction of Thomas Brewer, with         )                          £5.15.0."

Gothic Frame and Ornaments etc             )

 

Unfortunately the trustees appear to have had some trouble with this tablet in later years:

 

"1835 March 9.  Watkins Bill for Altering Name on Tablet         -  2.6

1837 Mar.23.    Slater for altering the names on the Tablet in the Church   -  4.6

1842 Dec.21.   T. Harston altg. names on Tablet                       -  2.6

Maintenance of the cottages was a constant concern and expense throughout the middle years of the century:

"1835. Oven and Grate in Mrs. Bellamy's Cottage                     - 10.  0.

1841. Well at Mrs. Bellamys House repg.                           -   £2.11.  4.

1845. Mr. Lunn for building privies and repairs                  -   £2.  3. l0½

1856. Joseph Cox for repairing roofs of poor

Cottages as per Bill                                                                 -    £1.15.  8.

1867. Lane's bill repairs cottages                                        -   £40.  5.   0."

(Repairs this time seem to have been extensive)

During these years also, and until late in the century, the charity money continued to be paid out for a variety of purposes. There were regular allowances paid out weekly, small sums often as little as 1/6, to widows or to people during illness, for periods of eleven to fifteen weeks or so. Most of the entries refer to gifts of coal, but among the more unusual items are the following :-

"1854 July.   John Stray during illness and after  20 years residence in the Parish -  15/-

1860 March 19.   Widow Kirkby for Fly when ill                                                   -  3/-

1868 July 23.   John Drury railway accident                                                        - 10/-

1877 Easter.   Widow Goss - ticket                                                                      - 14/6"

Although there seem to be no minute books remaining in the parish to record meetings of the trustees of the charity, there is evidence from occasional notes in the account books that the trustees had to refer back to the original terms of the Will from time to time, and also obtain legal advice to clarify variations that had been made.

The trustees have continued to be the Rector and, until recently, the churchwardens of the time, but not without difficulty apparently. In 1914 the Rev. Clement Griffiths mentions reproachfully in the parish magazine that the work entailed brings him constant trouble. "In the last few years this Charity has had to be defended against the desire of the Commissioners to alienate it to other purposes, against Revenue officials who wished to tax it, against Education Authorities who demanded a good share of it and against the representatives of the Lord of the Manor who claimed the Freehold and Mineral rights. In these and other struggles, entailing a vast amount of letters and law and strong determination, the trustees have succeeded in preserving the Charity for the Pariah." Apparently there had been grumbles and suggestions that the charity funds were stolen or misused, and the rector had to point out the heavy expenses involved in keeping six very old houses in reason­able repair.

Today these very old houses are in worse shape still. A condemnation order has been placed on them so, as each becomes vacant, it cannot be re-occupied unless it is brought up to proper standards, and now only two of the cottages are tenanted. There has, during the last year or so, been much dispute - some of it fierce - about the future of the almshouses. Preservationists, supported by authorities like the Notts. Historic Buildings Trust and the Civic Trust, and by architect-historians like Dr. N. Summers, declare for restoration and conversion of the interiors into three or four houses with modern amenities. The abolitionists say the cottages should be demolished and replaced by modern bungalows. Both sides have their adherents, and for the moment the matter is unresolved.

Mrs. F. Bennett. 1971.

(Material from account books, bills, etc. relating to Brewer's Charity.)

 

NOTE.

Further readings can be found in  

         Thomas Brewer's Will in Volume 4.

         People mentioned in Thomas Brewer's Will in Volume 4.

         Thomas Brewer - Yeoman in Volume 4.

         Thomas Brewer's Charity Trustees in Volume 4. 

         Winthorpe in the Early 17th Century in Volume 4.   

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