CHARITIES FOR THE POOR
In the Middle
Ages Swavesey priory's lessee was supposed to
distribute herrings and wheaten bread to the
poor on St. Andrew's day. (fn. 7) Joan Umfrey by will
proved 1521 left 6 a. to repair the church and
pay the king's taxes when levied. (fn. 8) By 1616 the
parish owned a Town close, whose grazing was
regularly let, along with the mowing of the main
'havens' in the fields, (fn. 9) to produce funds used
partly to relieve the poor. In 1703 the parish
purchased, partly by subscription, 6 a. of copyhold open-field land, (fn. 10) for which at inclosure
6&frac1/4; a. in the far north were allotted. (fn. 11) The rent
rose from £4 in 1783 (fn. 12) to £10 by 1837. It was
then usually given in coal among the settled
poor, (fn. 13) as in 1863 when £11 4s. was received. (fn. 14)
By the 1870s the land was being let to labourers
as allotments. (fn. 15) In 1873, however, the lord's
steward seized it for non-payment of entry fines
and his legal fees. No rent was received for 30
years, although the allotment holders apparently
continued to occupy it. In 1907, after the rector
had acquired the manorial rights for that purpose, the land was enfranchised and payment
resumed. (fn. 16) The allotments continued to be let,
though gradually to fewer people, and the rent,
rising from under £8 after the 1930s to £30 by
1972, was given in coal until c. 1945, and by
1960 in grocery vouchers. (fn. 17)
About 1616 a town stock of c. £11 was let at
interest to local men, and regularly augmented
by gifts for the poor, (fn. 18) to which Richard Rose
added £7 10s. in 1642 and 1658, intended to
provide £1 a year among 16 poor people. (fn. 19) In
the 18th century the stock was reckoned as £15
10s., its proceeds being distributed at Easter
with the town land rent. (fn. 20) A curate Thomas
Fowler, by will proved 1680, gave 15s. a year in
bread and cash for the poor attending a sermon
on their baptismal duties, but it was lost by
1800. (fn. 21) In 1779 the parish received £100 from
the former rector, William Hetherington, by
will of 1778. The interest, £5, was to be given
in bread to poor churchgoers. (fn. 22) That money
and the town stock was invested in South Sea
stock with the school endowments, and the
income was not distinguished during the 19th
century. (fn. 23) Only c. 1903 was distribution of
Hetherington's charity resumed by the rector.
The educational and eleemosynary charities
were distinguished by an Order of 1907, which
allotted to the poor £215 of the £275 of stock
then held. The income, almost £7 a year in the
1950s, was given to up to 7 parishioners in
the 1940s but by the late 1970s was being
accumulated. (fn. 24)
||Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 278, f. 60v.
||B.L. Add. MS. 5861, f. 71.
||C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1616-19; cf. Beds. R.O., Box 279, ct. roll 1641.
||C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1703.
||Ibid. Q/RDz 4, p. 372.
||C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 108.
31st Rep. Com. Char. 91; cf. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 321; Camb. Chron. 31 Dec. 1830.
Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 386-7.
||C.R.O., P 58/25/2.
||Char. Com. files.
||Ibid.; C.R.O., R 54/20/6A; R 54/20/2B, pp. 2, 50, 76.
||C.R.O., P 58/8/1, s.a. 1616-17, 1631.
||Ibid. s.a. 1642, 1658.
||C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, f. 108; Walker, Dry Drayton, i.
52; cf. C.R.O., P 58/1/1, at end; East Anglian, n.s. vi. 324.
31st Rep. Com. Char. 92.
||C.R.O., P 58/1/3A, note of 1779.
||Cf. 31st Rep. Com. Char. 91-2.
||Char. Com. files.