A 19th-century transcript of a deed records that
John Wright and his son John gave to
Anthony Luther and others, parishioners, part of the lord's waste next
to Kelvedon Common, with the cottages thereon, to
be the site of parish almshouses. This appears to be
the real origin of the charity which by 1786 was called
Jane Luther's Charity in the erroneous belief that it
had been established by her will in 1745 (see below).
The original endowment may have been supplemented
by an exchange made in 1786 by which the parish
received a small plot inclosed from Kelvedon Common
in place of another plot on which a cottage formerly
stood. This was probably the cottage on the road to
Beacon Hill which according to a vestry book extant
in the 19th century was given to the parish in 1644. (fn. 36)
This exchange of 1786 may explain the statement
made in 1835 that the property of the charity was
received about 60 years before from John Wright of
Kelvedon Hall in exchange for some small pieces of
land formerly belonging to it.
There is no clear record that the cottages were ever
used as almshouses, though it seems possible that they
were rented by the parish officers for use as a poorhouse. (fn. 37) In 1834 the property was all let: it consisted
of four cottages on Kelvedon Common, and land adjoining. The whole income was £21 10s., and after deduction of expenses it was distributed on the first Monday
in the year to all poor married parishioners in equal
shares. Between then and 1929 there was little change
in administration. In 1951 the field was sold to the
village hall committee for use as a recreation ground.
The proceeds were invested in stock. In the same year
the rent due from the cottages was £34 12s.; but for
many years there has been no profit from rents and a
demolition order was pending in 1953. (fn. 38)
Poor's Cottages were probably built in the 17th
century and consist of a timber-framed T-shaped block,
partly plastered and partly weather-boarded. There
are gabled dormers in the tiled roof. These are undoubtedly the four cottages of 1834 and earlier.
At some time in the 18th century it was believed that
40s. was due to the parish by the gift of Anthony Luther
(d. 1627) but there is no record that this was ever paid.
By her will proved in 1745 Jane Luther of Suttons
(in Stapleford Tawney, q.v.) gave £2 17s. 6d. a year
issuing from a farm in Little Warley to be distributed
in bread three times a year to the poor of the parish.
In 1834 bread was distributed twice a year with preference to widows. By 1857 the rent was being paid
from the Suttons estate. It was redeemed in 1950 for
In 1786 it was stated that an unknown donor gave
a rent charge of £1 10s. to the church and the poor of
the parish. In 1834 Charles Dolby of Brizes held a
lease from 1789 at £2 10s. a year of 'the property of
this charity', consisting of an acre of land in his park.
In fact the endowment must have been the land itself,
not the rent, and the land was certainly sold in 1860
for £200 which was invested in stock.
Louisa Dolby, by will proved 1868, left £100 dutyfree in trust for the benefit of the poor. The legacy
was paid in 1876, together with £28 arrears of interest,
and was invested in stock.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries these charities
were in practice administered together. From 1855
the three earliest shared trustees. By a Scheme made
in 1929 all four were combined to form the United
Charities. Their income is to be spent for the benefit
of the sick and poor, chiefly in gifts in kind and gifts to
hospitals serving the parish. In 1951, after payments
for expenses, the income was spent on the cottages
belonging to Jane Luther's Charity, and in gifts in cash
to six persons.
Richard Thomas Lagden, by will proved 1866, left
£7 a year for the purchase of coal for the poor families
of the parish. Lagden's wish that the money be paid
was not, however, binding, and the bequest consequently became invalid.