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Nicholas Avenon's charity and what became of it
Nicholas Avenon's charity and what became of it
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Nicholas Avenon's charity and what became of it

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Edward Willmore.

Scott, Ady & Company, "East London Observer 48, Whitechapel Road, E.

1915.

Softcover.

155 x 145.16 p. Grey boards.Title offset, Light foxing. Founded for relief of poor of West Ham. Held by only 5 COPAC/WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Nicholas Avenon (d. 1599), merchant tailor of London, conveyed to 12 trustees a 6 a. marsh, Withering's mead. On his death the income from this land provided 24 poor persons with a penny loaf each every Sunday, any more going to an annual sermon preached in the parish church. The trustees, all laymen, were empowered to renew the trust, but by 1834 it had long lapsed and the charity was controlled by the vicar. The land, at Middle marsh, in Plaistow, was then let for £21, and loaves were being distributed among inmates of alms-houses. Avenon's charity was included but later questioned, as a Distributive Charity, in the scheme of 1870. But in 1879 the Charity Commissioners ruled that the central charity board should govern it. The income from Withering's mead had remained at £21, but in 1880 the board sold one acre for £1,500, most of which was used, 1881-97, to develop the remaining land for building. The completed estate, in Avenon's Road, Hayday Road, Ingal Road, and Denmark Street, comprised sites for c.140 houses, let on building leases. By 1898 the gross income was £298; the profits, after deducting the £5 4s. for bread, were used by vicar of All Saints' for his church. During the 1890s the greatly increased Church's share of the charity caused huge local resentment. Thomas Scott, vicar of All Saints' 1868-91, wished to pay the poor part of the increased income, but was prevented from doing this by Disraeli and later Prime Ministers, who would not permit alienation of rights attached to this Crown living. The controversy concerning Avenon's charity ruled it out of the 1903 scheme. The 1870 scheme presumably still applied, so Avenon's trustees continued to be the vicar and churchwardens of All Saints' and the parish overseers. The borough council's right to nominate the overseers, acquired by Local Government Board order in 1897, was reaffirmed in the West Ham Corporation Act (1900), but for some years after 1903 overseers were unaware they were still trustees of and its control was left to the vicar and churchwardens. In 1909, however, the overseers, asked to sign a charity document, realised they were still entitled to share in its management. A fight for control of the charity between the Church and the borough council ensued. The struggle was embittered because the clerk to the Avenon trustees was A. B. Banes, who had fought a previous battle with the council over his claim to compensation for losing the office of vestry clerk. The overseers pressed for a new scheme which would enable part of the increased income to be used for non-ecclesiastical purposes. The vicar, Canon R. A. Pelly (18911916), firmly opposed surrendering any income, and he obtained the support of his bishop and the archbishop of Canterbury. Avenon's endowment by then provided almost 50% of the parochial staff of All Saints' wages. Pelly opposed a new scheme also because its publication would 'awake all the Socialist part of the place to opposition and cause infinite trouble and disturbance'. Chancery in 1912 ruled the increased income of Avenon's charity could only be used for Church purposes. A 1913 Chancery scheme provided the vicar £10 10s. p.a. for a sermon and the balance (after payment of the £5 4s. for bread) was to be used for curates' stipends. The trustees of the charity were in future the vicar, churchwardens, and 2 members appointed by the bishop. If and when the income of the charity exceeded £450 they were to apply for a new scheme. This did not become necessary until the 1960s, when the leases of the houses on Avenon's estate began to expire, enabling the trustees to sell the properties and invest the proceeds. By 1964 the income was about £2,000. The company is still active.