The story of the Unknown Donor's Charity (or the Townland's Charity)
Loughborough Advertiser - 3rd October 1872
The origin of this charity is not known. The earliest deeds in the possession of the trustees relating to it are indentures of lease and release, dated respectively the 16th and 17th days of June, 1670, and made between Humphrey Staples of the one part, and whereby after reciting that, in pursuance of and in obedience to, a decree of certain Commissioners of Charitable Uses, certain persons did convey unto the said Humphrey Staples and nine others, then deceased, the lands and hereditaments therein described, for the maintenance of a priest to celebrate divine service the chapel of Quorndon at all times thereafter, and one schoolmaster to teach children and youth in grammar and leaning, for the repairing of the bridges in Quorndon, the maintaining of the poor there, and for the other good and charitable uses.
It was witnessed that the said Humphrey Staples did convey six cottages, one acre of called the Willow Ground, one parcel of land called the Swines' Green, and several other pieces of unenclosed land, all in the parish of Quorndon, under the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, upon the trusts thereinbefore declared, and upon the request of the major part of the freeholders of Quorndon to convey the premises to such persons as the major part of such freeholders should nominate.
By a decree of certain other Commissioners of Charitable Uses, bearing the date 7th October 1688, the then trustees were dismissed, and the estates belonging to the charity were ordered to be vested in certain other persons and their heirs, in trust to pay out of the rents and profits thereof to the priest resident in Quorndon yearly £12, by half yearly payments, and to apply the residue of the said rents and profits as follows, viz., 40 shillings to the school master there, and one moiety of the residue towards the repairs of the bridges there, and the other moiety towards the relief of the poor of the town of Quorndon, to be distributed by the trustees or the major part of them, half yearly on Whit-Sunday and Christmas Day; and in case the priest should take upon himself to be schoolmaster, and the said trustees or the major part of them should think him fitting, then to pay him the 40s per annum; and it was further ordered that the said lands and tenements should be thereafter let at the full value, and without taking any fine, and by the major part of the trustees on a day to be appointed by them, (whereof notice should be given in the said Chapel two Sundays before; and that the trustees or the major part of them, should yearly choose one of themselves to be receiver of the said rents, who should give account of his receipts on the day the new collector was chosen, and that when but three of the trustees should be living, they, or two of them should nominate 12 other persons to be trustees, and assign over to them the said land and tenements accordingly.
By another decree of certain other Commissioners of Charitable Uses, dated the 22nd October 1709, the then trustees were dismissed for misemployment of the funds of the charity, and other trustees appointed in their stead, to whom the charity estates were conveyed in pursuance of such decree by indentures of lease and release of the third and fourth days of April 1710.
By the award of certain Commissioners appointed under an Act of Parliament passed in the second year of the reign of King George III, for inclosing the open fields in Quorndon, bearing the date the 9th day of July 1763, one piece of land in the South Field, containing 4a 1r 26p, one other piece of land in the West Field, containing 1a 0r 26p, were allotted to the trustees of this charity in liew of their unenclosed land . And there was also allotted to them, on the inclosure of Charnwood Forest in 1829, a piece of land in the hamlet of Beaumanor, containing 8a 1r 16p.
Several appointments of new trustees by deed have been executed from time to time by the surviving ones. The last appointment was made in 1834, when Edward Farnham, the Rev John Robert William Boyer, Richard Sarson, Richard Fox, Edward Basil Farnham, the Rev Robert Stammers, Thomas Sarson and William Baker were appointed, all of whom are still living (1837)
The following are the particulars of the property of this charity: -
A school house built by the trustees in 1833 for the national school upon land belonging to the Charity. This school is principally supported by subscriptions among the inhabitants of the parish.
Twenty-one houses in the town of Quorndon; the greater part of these are small cottages; one of the best of them, of the annual value of about £10, is in the occupation of the master of the National School rent free. The remainder are let at several rents, amounting altogether to £44 11s 6d. Considerable sums have been laid out by the trustees of late years in repairing these houses, which are now in good condition.
The land in Quorndon, which in the award of the Commissioners, was described as containing 25a 3r 28p has been lately measured, and found to be 28a. It is let to Thomas Bramley, Thomas Hackett and Mr Cragg from year to year, for the annual rent of £43 15s 0d which is the full value.
The land in Beaumanor is let for £4 10s a year. This was the full value when the land was first enclosed, but it has been since much improved, and is worth now about £7 7s a year.
The total annual income from the above sources is £92 16s 6d, out of which the only fixed payment is a sum of £12 paid to the minister of Quorndon. The remainder has been disposed of, as occasion has required, towards the support of the National School, for the repairs of the bridges and highways of Quorndon, and the buildings on the Charity Estates, and for the poor.
From the time of the establishment of the National School, in 1823, the trustees for several years paid the annual sum of £10 to the master, but in consequence of the private subscriptions having found nearly sufficient for the support of this school, only £2 has been paid to him from this charity during the last 2 years; the average attendance of children amounts to about 40; they are taught reading, writing and arithmetic.
With respect to the repairs, from £30 to £40 a year has of late years been usually expended on the bridges, roads, and buildings, but this includes a sum of £100, and upwards, the cost of erecting the schoolroom. The remainder of the income has been expended by the trustees in the purchase of coals or blankets, which they distribute amongst the most necessitous and deserving poor of the chapelry.
The following is about the amount of the average annual expenditure for the six years preceding the Inquiry in 1826:
.........................................................................................(£ s d)
Minister ............................................................................12 0 0
Schoolmaster....................................................................7 0 0
Repairs to bridges, roads and building the schoolhouse..40 0 0
Law and incidentals......................................................... 8 0 0
Coals &c for the poor.......................................................25 0 0
.........................................................................................92 0 0
At the time of the Inquiry the trustees had commenced building a room for an Infant School, the estimated cost of which was £140. They proposed to allow for the support of this school, £30 a year which it was considered they would be enabled to do, in consequence of all the buildings being now in good condition and requiring little future outlay.
The accounts relating to the charity have been regularly kept and audited twice a year since 1829, but from the irregularity of the earlier ones, it is impossible to ascertain whether the whole of the income was previous to that time properly disposed of. It appears, however, that in 1828 there was a balance of £70 in the hands of Mr Hyde, the then acting trustee, which was lost by his dying shortly after insolvent. At the last settlement of the accounts preceding the inquiry (viz, on the 17th July 1835), there was a balance of £11 17s in the hands of the trustees.