Northam Charities Report 1787

North Devon Record Office ref: 1843A/PF2 and PF3

Transcribed by David Carter 2020

[Anything in square brackets has been added by the transcriber]

= = = = = = = =

Description of documents:

1843A/PF2 consists of two sheets of paper, folded.
The writing and setting out are reasonable.
Original letter 10th July 1787, reply copied 29th Sep 1787.

1843A/PF3 consists of 4 pieces of paper stitched together, two of which are double-sided.
The handwriting is very rough, and the setting out is very confused.
The document is also torn, with some areas of text missing.
Dated 9th Oct 1787.

= = = = = = = =

Ref: NDRO/1843A/PF2

Page 1:

Copy of what I ree~~[~torn~]~~ost 7br 29th 1787
to the Minister and Churchwardens of Northam Devon
The committee appointed by the House of Commons to inspect and consider the returns made by the Ministers and Churchw[arde]ns relative to charitable donations for the Benefit of the Poor Persons have "Ordered" That Application be made to every Minister, Churchwarden or other Person who shall have made defective returns to perfect the same without Delay, and that such defect be corrected, and inclosed in a letter directed to Thomas Gilbert esquire, M.P. Great Queen Street Westminster.

On the other side is a Form tabulated to produce answ[er]s which may supply those defects - you will please to fill up the Form, by inserting your Answers under the Questions stated in the Titles of the columns, and if upon strict inquiry, you cannot fill with Certainty any Columns you are desired to write in the Column for observations "No further information can be given" and if you think it necessary to insert any thing more, you will put it in that Column. Such of the columns in the Form on the other side, and are left blank, shew wherein your Return by Defective.
You will please to return this to me as soon as may be agreeably to the said Order of the Committee.

I am your obedient servant
Thomas Gilbert, chairman
Great Queen Street, Westminster, 10 July 1787

N.B. If any of the above charities have been distributed, it should be said so & such specified account is likewise requested of the Donations for schooling poor children, which clearly are required by the Act.

Page 2:

Name of the person who gave of charities Whether in Land or Money Amount of the sum if Money Annual produce of the Money Annual produce of the land or Rent Charge Names of Trustees in whom donation is now vested
Several rent Charges in 1579, 1582, 1617 & other years dates not mentioned (a) Land, in Northam [blank] [blank] 1579 - lost £0.7.5 No Trustees at this time to be found. Names in the old Deeds are Wm Leigh, Wm Witheridge, Jno Boddacott & many others
        1579 - lost £0.13.4  
        1617 - lost £0.12.0  
An error Mr not Mrs Berriman (b) Land in Bra[u]nton [blank] [blank] £6.0s.0d Names of Grantees in 1622 - Wm Leigh, Wm Molford & 3 others. (b) No Trustees at this time.
A Britton (c) Land in Shebbear [blank] [blank] £1.16s.0d No Trustees at this time for want of a re-enfeoffment [ALL THE ABOVE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN CROSSED THROUGH] Thos Melhuish clerk son and heir of late Roger Melhuish.
Ph. & Jno Strange (d) Land, Bennetts in Northam (d) said in observation to be purchased with Stranges £20 [blank] £1.0s.0d. No Trustees at this time for want of a re-enfeoffment. Names of Trustees in 1626 - Wm Leigh, Wm Molford & 3 others - duly rec'd.
        Said in obervations to be purchased with Strange's £20  
J Beaple (e) Land, West Youngaton in Northam (e) said in observations to be purchased with Beaple's £5 [blank] £0.6s.0d Names in 1645: Jno Berrye, Eth[eldre]d Beaple & 5 others.
          None now for want of re-enfoeffment.
J Berry (f) Land, in West Putford, Colscott [blank] [blank] £0.13s.4d Names in 1691, Sir Thomas Berry, Thomas Melhuigh & 10 others.
          None since for want of re-enfeoffment
J Cock, M Cock & his sister (g) Land now in demain called Tomouth in Northam, let at Rack rent now for £21 per annum wel. Nette & on an average of 10 years about £7 an ? [blank] [blank] £7.0s.0d Names in 1712, Wm Browning, John Aiky & 7 others.
          None since for want of re-enfeoffment
Sir Thomas Berry (h) Alms House in Appledore in the Parish Of this grant by Bishop to Sir Thomas Berry for E14 We can give no farther information £0.0s.0d None
Wm Lee, Ho[use] & Money (h) [blank] £6.13s.4d [blank] [blank] [blank]
W Burrows (h) Money £20 [blank] [blank] [blank]
T Leigh, Ho[use] * Money (h) [blank] £6.13s.4d and £2 [blank] [blank] [blank]


(a) Enfeoffment Deeds of these dates for these rent charges are in our Parish Chest - but for want of a re-enfeoffment the Trust is sunk[?], neither can we find out the Lands charged nor can we find out when the respective annuities were last received.

(a) Concerning the Articles not dated in our former report return, we can give no farther information - excepting 'Arundels' which will appear in the 3rd sheet of this our 2nd report.

(b) It appearing by an ancient inscription on our church-wall that Mr Berriman gave £100 to the poor of this Parish which is bestowed in an annuity for the Poor.
We think this is the annuity we purchased as there is a deed in our chest of 1622 granting the same but of lands in Nethercot in Branton (an adjoining parish) to Wm Leigh, Wm Molford, Faithfull Fortescue and two others then of this parish - But no uses are declared saving to the use of the said Granter or heirs, nor can we find any re-enfeoffment. Our Overseers duly receive this annuity of £6 deducting for land Tax. N.B. By the Deed it is to be paid in the Porch of Northam Church."

(c) [THE FOLLOWING CROSSED OUT: Duly received out of Southcott & Southfurze in the Parish of Shebbear in the County] by a Deed in our chest of 1698 Roger Melhuish & Thomas Hacche are named as Trustees & their heirs - with a purchase Brittons £30.

(d) We cannot obtain information how or when this Rent-Charge which was purchased with £50 was reduced to £0.13s.4d.

(e) The present annual Rack rent is £21 - which netteth in an average of 10 years about £7.

(hhh) Concerning the Articales marked with these letters, we can give no other information than that which we have already reported - they being only to be found on the Plaister of our church wall(#) - we can say nothing about the distribution of these charities nor about their application of which we are ignorant. (#) without date but as we believe about the close of the last century.

Page 3:

Name of the person who gave of charities Whether in Land or Money Amount of the sum if Money Annual produce of the Money Annual produce of the land or Rent Charge Names of Trustees in whom donation is now vested
Agnes Leigh Money £5.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
A Hollacomb Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Agnes Westlade Money £5.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Wm Woodridge Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
J Waldon Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
T Docton Money £5.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
R Chappell Money £5.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Mrs Docton Money £5.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
C Whitson Money £10.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
R French Money £10.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
R Strange Money £20.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
J Bishop Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
C Cade Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
P Tarran Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Phillipy Cade Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
R Cocke Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
M Hernaman Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
P Dervert Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
N Williams Money £2.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Phil Cocke Money £3.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Thomazin French, w Money £4.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Joan Darracott, w. Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Wilm't Cade Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]
Thomas Strange Money £1.0s.0d [blank] [blank] [blank]


No farther information can be given concerning all the pecuniary charities mentioned on this sheet - they being only to be found on the Plaister of our Church-Wall - and through a long intervention of time, we are not able to specify their application, nor can we declare or deny their distribution or the distribution of any of them.

Page 4:

Name of the person who gave of charities Whether in Land or Money Amount of the sum if Money Annual produce of the Money Annual produce of the land or Rent ChargeNames of Trustees in whom donation is now vested
J Berriman Money £100 (g) [blank][blank]
A Arundell Land [blank] (h) £0.13s.4dNone now. Benjamin Radford pays this Rent Charge
R Branton To build Almshouses £50 (i) [blank][blank]
Ethel[dre]d Beaple Money £5.0s.0d (i) [blank][blank]


 (g) This is also one of the Charities mentioned on the Plaister of our Church Wall concerning which we can give no farther information than what we have said in our 1st sheet in our observations on Berriman - marked (b)

(h) This annuity is also on our Church Wall and is still received, being paid out of Land called Ridge Arundell in the parish of Bishop's Morchard by Benjamin Radford of Mary Trewan, who is seized thereof and acknowledgeth said Rent charge - we can give no farther information concerning the Date of the commencement of this annuity - nor any other particulars - see sheet (1st) marked (a) (d).

(i) These two charities are also mentioned on the wall of which no farther information can be given.

To Thomas Gilbert Esqr, member of Parliament Great Queen Street, Westminster
The Return contained in these three sheets is a full and true Return supplementary to our Return in 1786, relative to charitable donations for the benefit of poor persons within this parish.
Witness our hands the 9th of October 1787.
Jos[hu]a Bawden, Vicar of Northam Devon.

= = = = = = = =

Ref: NDRO/1843A/PF3

Page 1:

Northam Devon
9th October 1787

The Minister & Church Wardens in their Return of 1786 relative to charitable donations for the Benefit of Poor Persons having omitted to give an account of donations for schooling poor children (under a misconception that this was not required) do hereby supply that defect as followeth... (viz) in proper columns this the substance of our return.

Dame Ann Berry 1716.
Her executors were Roger Melhuish, Jno Benson, Mr Nar. Hatherly & 2 others, all deceased.
Mrs Grace Saltren deceased about 15 or 16 year since. In her Will hath taken no notice of her grandmother Berry's donation.
By Will gave £20 or about that sum to be laid out in purchasing a Title or Close of Land the yearly profit to be appointed to the keeping at school poor boys or girls of this Parish - no such purchase having been made the sum of twenty shillings was applied annually to the purpose aforesaid by the [CROSSED OUT: Representative of] [WRITTEN NEXT TO IT: later Mrs Grace Saltren Melhuish] the [WORDS INSERTED: ~illeg~ daughter ~illeg~] ~illeg~ and residuary legatee of the dedatation[?] and since the death of Mrs Saltren - by her executor - viz: by Narcissus Hatherley Exor.

Richard Cholwill
By enfeoffment 1691
Thomas Melhuish
Robert Voselin[?] the none since
Thomas grandson & heir of Thomas Melhuish is now living.
By Will gave £60 the annual profit to be applied in teaching poor children the way laid out in purchasing a part (somewhat more than a third) of Colscot in West Putford by the Parish Overseers, which now produceth annually - [ILLEG].

Mr Thomas Melhuish & Mrs Johan his wife 1702.
Roger Melhuish
Jno Benson
Thomas Haache
All 3 deceased
Thomas son of Roger and grandson of the donor is now living.
By Deed - gave forty shillings to be paid annually forever in a schoolmaster of Northam for teaching 6 poor children [~torn~] charging some closes of land consisting of about9 acres [~torn~] Vicar of Northam [~torn~] the lands so charged about the annual value of 30 [~torn~] the Vicar pays annually.

Dor[othy] Docton 1737
By Will - gave an annuity of forty shillings forever payable out of Jeffery's Lands to the teaching of six poor children under 11 years of age, to be paid by Feoffes - which annuity by deducting the Land Tax is reduced to about [ILLEG].
Trustees at this time:
Jos Bawden vicar
Thomas Chappell
Conformable to Mortmain

[~torn~] Wood 1752
By Will gave 20s as Rent Charge out of Assels (payable by Executors) to a Free School of Northam - paid for some years by the Purchaser of said land - who hath discontinued the payment for many years availing himself of the Mortmain Act - no Trustees.
Trustees: none
Executors: Robert Sarles, Henry Turner
Purchaser: Thomas Wills

Page 2:

Annuities - Charitable Donations to the Poor
1786 & for schooling poor children 
1787 - The following oath was prescribed concerning the same - viz:
You shall swear that the Answers and Return now made by you to the Questions contained in the Schedule hereunto annexed are full and true answers to the said Questions, to the best of your knowledge, Information and Belief.
Also a Supplemental Return 8br 9th 1787.
On 3 additional sheets
Besides the Donations within mentioned -
By a Deed of Alice Thomas 1645 3s.7d per an[num] out of West Youngaton is granted to the Church.

Page 3: 

Questions to which answers are to be returned by virtue of an act of 26th Geo 3rd entitled An Act for Securing Returns upon Oaths of all Charitable Donations for the Benefit of Poor Persons within the sever[al] parishes & places with that Part of Great Britain called England.

Question 1st. What Charitable Donations have been given by Deed or Will for the Benefit of Poor Persons within your parish - by whom - when - in what manner - and for what particular purpose were they given, to the best of your Knowledge, Information, and Belief.

Question 2nd. Were the 1st respective Donations Land or Money - in whom are they now vested and what is the Annual Produce thereof respectively to the best of know[ledg]e.

Substance of Answers returned from Northam August 22nd, 1786.

No. Name of the person who gave the charity When given By Will or Deed For what purpose given In Land or Money In whom now vested Account of in Money Annual profits
19 Anne Britton 1661 By Will To the Poor of Northam - purchased an annuity of ~?~ standing payable out of Land in Shebbear Heirs of Feoffes in Overseers [torn] [torn]
21 Jno Beaple 1645 By Will To purchase an annuity for the Poor of Northam forever - now payable out of West Youngaton Overseers [torn] [torn]
~~ Phil & Jno Strange 1626 By Will & Deed To the Poor out of Bennett's and supposed to be the annuity mentioned below Land Overseers [torn] [torn]
~~ Parish Feoffes 1622 Deed To the Poor - purchased an an[nuity] out of Nethecott in Branton with £100 Land Heirs of Feoffes, Overseers [torn] [torn]
~~ Parish Feoffes 1680 Deed To the Poor - reserved Rent of Harris's House since fallen down House Heirs of Feoffes, Overseers [torn] [torn]
~~ Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed Applied to the Poor Rate out of Youngaton Land Rec'd by Overseers [blank] 6s.0d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed To the aid of the Poor taken out of Collamores Underborough. Land Overseers [blank] 14s.0d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed An annuity of 18/12d out of land reputed to be given to the uses of the Parishioners of Northam and now applied to the aid of the Poor out of Rosegill, Underborough. Rate now charged 18/10.   Heirs of Feoffes, Overseers [blank] 16s.11d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1579 Deed To the Poor - out of Youngaton, Underborough - then Sloman's (now lost) Land Overseers [blank] 7s.5d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1579 Deed Applied to the Poor - out of Anne Berry, was not taken, no such annuity appears, if now existing - Query - if it be the same as Arundell's mentioned below in sheet ?th. Land Overseers [blank] 13s.4d
~~ [torn] Arundell [blank] [blank] To the Poor an annuity of 13/4d whether the same as the foregoing - uncertain [blank] [blank] [blank] 13s.4d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1582, 1617 Deed Applied to the Poor Rate out of Abbeyvans Lands & Mr Smith of Bideford and charged 3/2d for poor of Abbeyvan's, in a ~illeg~ both ?app~~rs? Not collected for ~illeg~ 1775 Land Overseers [blank] 12.?d
~~ Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed To the Poor - out of Mules [torn] [torn] [torn] [torn]


Page 4:


No. Name of the person who gave the charity When given By Will or Deed For what purpose given In Land or Money In whom now vested Account of in Money Annual profits
~~ Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed Applied to the aid of the Poor - out of Orchard Land Overseers [blank] 2s.0d
10 Parish Feoffes 1617 Deed Applied to the Poor - out of a field near White House situate in East Willamore - it was Whitson's in an old account of 1656 - is called Nether Lane(?) To be distributed annually. Land Overseers [blank] 2s.0d
~2 Jno Berry Esq Prior 1691 Will To the Poor - laid out towards purchasing 3/4 of Colscott in West Putford - £50 also by reserved rent. N.B. Colscott was purchased with £50 given to the Poor together with £60 given to teaching poor children by Mr Cholwill. Houses Overseers £50 13s.4d.
~~ Unknown [blank] [blank] To the Poor - out of 2 houses next Rock House Houses [blank] [blank] 1s.0½d
~~ Unknown [blank] [blank] To the Poor - Sarles - query if this be not the same as No.10 near White House - it appears plainly to be the same [blank] [blank] [blank] 2s.0½d
~~ [blank] [blank] [blank] Out of Charterawell Field in Mules [blank] [blank] [blank] 4¾d
~~ Poor Book unknown [blank] [blank] Out of the Rock House [blank] [blank] [blank] 2s.4¾d
~~       Heirs of David Baker in the Poor Book are charged with [blank] [blank] [blank] 1s.2¼d
~~       Also heirs of Mr Ab Hayman with [blank] [blank] [blank] 1s.4½d
~~       Also occupiers of Hugh Huchanc with [blank] [blank] [blank] 1s.7d
~~       Occupants of Wills & Young [blank] [blank] [blank] 0¾d
~~       N.B. Tiz conjectured that some of the foregoing small articles are a part of the annuity of 12/- payable out of Abbeyvan's Land - no such article being to be found in the Poor Book at this time. [blank] [blank] [blank] [torn]
~~       Together with the forestated annuities - the rents of 4 small dwelling houses are applied in aid of the annual assessments. [blank] [blank] [blank] [torn]
~~       These houses were let formerly (when tenanted) for £7.16.0 per annum ~illeg~ considerable deduction. [blank] [blank] [blank] £7.16s.0d

Page 5:


No.Name of the person who gave the charityWhen givenBy Will or DeedFor what purpose givenIn Land or MoneyIn whom now vestedAccount of in MoneyAnnual profits
~~James Cock1700WillTo be lent at interest or laid out in an estate annual profits to be distributed among poor widows or fatherless childrenMoneyOverseers£200 net[These 2 together, below]
~~Mark Cock & his sister Langdon1702Deed LegacyTo the Poor.MoneyOverseers£100About £7.0.0.
~~   Which two [above] sums of £200 and £100 were laid out in purchasing lands (Tomouth) in this parish, the annual produce of which computed at an average amount to about £7 - equally distributed annually by the Overseers - and not applied in aid of the Poor Assessments. N.B. The 4 small dwelling houses above mentioned are parts of the tenement called Tomouth.    
25John Jeffery1724WillGave £3 per annum to be distributed in bread to the Poor, not having Parish Relief, by his executors & the successors with power to the Overseers to distrain or default, charging his land with the same forever. Provided that his executors nor the Possessor of said Estate hereafter be never molested in the peaceable enjoyment of the garden which he had taken out of a Field (part of Tomouth aforementioned) with consent of the Parish.    
    N.B. The present possessor having destroyed the partition fence of the garden & made it again, a part of the said field occupied by the tenant of Tomouth hath for some years discontinued the payment, viz: tribation of said legacy of £3 per annum.    
~~[torn] Melhuish Esq & [torn] Melhuish1702DeedGave £2 per annum to 4 poor old maids or seamans widows - issuing out of a tenement and meadows given by them for the augmentation of the Vicarage of Northam, but whereas the meadow was reclaimed, or in fact was never surrendered the Vicar pays only £1.10s per annum to the poor maids the Vicar also maintaining in repairs an Almshouse given by them for the dwelling of the Poor Maids.    
~~[torn] Bishop1695DeedFor £14 granted to Sir Thomas Berry one herb garden, a cellar and a House for the Poor to dwell in.    
28Mrs A Smith of Bideford[blank][blank]Pays 10/- annually. To 4 poor widows living in an almshouse in Northam which she repairs    
    Pays 14/- per annum. N.B. Conjectured to be the Alms House (mentioned below) given and erected given my Mr Leigh    

Page 6:

The Underwritten is copied from an Inscription on the Wall Plaister within the Church of Northam having no date - but appears to be very ancient. N.B. We think it comprehends some of the above stated Donations.


Details Amount Year *
Mr Wm Leigh gave unto the use of the Poor £6.13s.4d 1589
Also an Alms House for 4 poor Widows to dwell in rent free forever.   1589
Mr Wm Burrowes of London to the use aforesaid gave £20 ????
Mr Thomas Leigh, Counseller of Law gave to the Poor £6.13s.4d 1592
Also he gave by Will per annum forever 40 shillings unto the maintenance of 4 widows which sh'd dwell in the aforesaid Alms House erected by the above named Mr Wm Leigh his father   1592
Mrs Agness Leigh widow of the above named Thomas Leigh esq. gave to the Poor £5 1620
Anthony Hollacombe gave 40s.0d 1619
Agnes Westlade gave £5 1618 ?
Mr Wm Woolridge gave 40s.0d Died 1607, Will 1611 ?
John Walden gave 40s.0d 1616
Mr Thomas Docton gave £5 1619
Robert Chappell gave £5 1613/4
Mrs Docton gave £4 1619
Christo[pher] Whitson gave £10 1622
Richard French gave £10 1623
Philip Strange gave £20 1620 / 1626
And an annuity of 20s issuing out of certain lands in this parish   1620 / 1626
John Bishop gave 40s.0d 1622
Christo[pher] Cade gave 40s.0d 1623
Peter Tarren gave 20s.0d 1622
Philippy Cade daughter of Christo Cade gave 40s.0d 1622 / 1624
Richard Cocke gave 40s.0d 1627
Matthew Hernaman gave 20s.0d 1626
Philip Dervart gave 20s.0d ????
Mr Williams of Instow gave 40s.0d 1632 or 1634
Philip Cocke gave £3 1633
Thomazin French gave £4 1635
Joan Darracott widow gave 20s.0d 1635
Willmot Cade widow gave 20s.0d 1635
Thomas Strange of Appledore gave 20s.0d ????


(Query if this be not the £5 stated and said as above to be given by John Beaple?) No.21
The rest of the inscription is so defaced as not to be legible.
Jos[hu]a Bawden Vicar, August 1786

Donations for the schooling of children are omitted as they appear not to be required [~torn~] Act quoted, also such donations after time have been distributed [~torn~] nor were intended [~torn~] lasting effect.

*Transcribers notes on the last section:

The third column showing the year, has been added by the transcriber – this is not part of the original document. This was done in an attempt to determine when the Charity Writing was added (or stopped being added) to the internal wall of the church.

The dates are the best attempt to put a timescale on these events – some years can be more confidently ascribed as others, but in general it appears that these entries were being added in date-order in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.  Entries appear to stop in the late 1630s, and may indeed have stopped due to the English Civil War in the 1640s.

If these were just painted on the church plaster, they would eventually decay – hence the production of a more permanent record when the two slate plaques were produced in 1839.



= = = = = = = = =