The Report of the Commissioners Concerning Charities: Containing that Part which Relates to the County of Devon (3 vols.),
Exeter, T. Besley (1826-30), Volume 1, pp. 131-132.

Provided by Michael Steer

In 1818, as a result of debates and arguments that even now remain obscure, the Parliament of Great Britain launched a detailed and elaborate investigation into the activities of charitable trusts in England and Wales called The Charity Commission or The Brougham Commission. This first inquiry eventually lasted for 19 years, and the 32 reports published contain 26,987 pages of material. 228,880 endowments for charity were reported. The commission consisted of a series of four commissions for the years 1818, 1819-30, 1831-34, and 1835-7. The enquiry was brought about through the efforts of Henry Brougham, who later served as one of the commissioners. The rare book from which the section on Revelstoke is extracted was produced from a digital copy held by the Bodleian Library that can be downloaded from Google Books. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. Those on which copyright has expired are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.


Church Lands

By indentures of lease and release, bearing date 24th and 24th April, 1812 (being the last date of appointment of trustees of these lands), made between Thomas Bovey and two others, surviving trustees of the lands thereinafter mentioned, of the one part, and Nicholas James Luscombe, clerk, and 23 others of the other part; the parties of the first part, conveyed to the parties of the second part, and their heirs, a messuage called the Church House of Rattery, with a little parcel of land thereunto adjoining, containing by estimation, half an acre, and a close of land situate within the parish of Rattery, containing by estimation about one acre, and the almshouses on the southwest side of the said close, in trust, to permit the churchwardens and sidesmen of the said parish to receive the rents and profits of the said premises, and yearly to render an account to the use of the parish and parishioners, to the intent that the same should be wholly converted and justly applied to the reparation of the said church, the better maintaining and setting forth God's divine service in the said church, the relief of the poor and needy people of the said parish, and all other necessary uses, most convenient and meet to be employed, at the will and discretion of them, and the greatest number and sufficientest of the said parishioners, as in time past had been used and accustomed, and also on trust to let the premises for term of life or lives or years, to such persons as the said sidesmen and greatest number of the sufficientest of the said parishioners should appoint, with a power to appoint new trustees, to be nominated by the sidesmen when the trustees should be reduced to three.

These premises consist of a house called the Church House, with a garden adjoining and a field on part of which the almshouses are standing. The church-house and field are in the occupation of George Stevenson, as yearly tenant at the rent of 8l per annum. They were to him at a parish meeting, and the rent is considered fair. The said almshouses consist of six rooms, occupied by six of the poorest families of the parish placed there by the parish officers,

There is also a house, built some years ago as a school house, partly by subscription and partly at the expense of the parish. The school, which is unsupported by any funds, except voluntary contributions, has ceased to exist and the house is rented to William Gidley, as a yearly tenant at a fair rent of 5l per annum.

The rents of the above premises are received by the churchwarden and carried to his general account with the parish in aid of the church rates

Gould's Gift

Thomas Gould, by will dated 3d June 1648, gave to the poor of the parish of Rattery, in the County of Devon, 20s per annum, to continue everlasting, to be yearly paid to them on Easterday, and to be raised out of the high rents of North Hood, or any of the lands or tenements of Ditto, Northwood.

John Wills Maypowder esq is the present owner of the estate in the parish of Rattery called North Hood. The annuity appears to have been distributed amongst the poor of Rattery, by Mr Wills, a former owner of the estate, but after his death the payment was neglected, and about the year 1801 an arrear for nearly 20 years was paid over to the overseers of the poor of this parish. The owner of the present estate has been in possession of it since 1802, but nothing was paid by him in respect of the annuity of 20s , till about two years ago, when, as he had doubts as to his liability, an opinion of counsel was taken. Being advised that he was liable for the payment of the annuity, but that he might himself dispose of it among the poor, he has in the years 1819, 1820 and 1821, disposed of parts of the arrears due from him, amounting, according to an account produced by us, to 14l 6s 1d. amongst poor persons of the parish, considered by him to be proper objects of charity, as having been afflicted with sickness, having large families etc.

Mr Maypowder stated to us at the time of our investigation that he would in future, bestow the annual sum of 20s on Easter Monday, on some poor persons of the parish not receiving parochial relief, and that previously to Easter 1822, he would dispose of the residue of the arrears due from him in the same manner.

Savery's Gift

Dorothy Savery, by her will dated 6th December 1813, gave to the poor of Rattery, two pounds a year for ever, payable out of her messuage and premises called Lericombe in the parish of South Brent, to be paid to the Churchwardens for the time being and their successors for ever, of the parish of Rattery, for the use of the poor of the said parish, and to be by them distributed to such poor in bread, annually at Easter and Christmas.

Mrs Savery died in 1816. Mr John Savery is the owner and occupier of the estate called Lericombe, and has regularly paid the annuity of 2l to the Churchwarden of Rattery for the time being, who has distributed the same once in the year, usually between Midsummer and Michaelmas, in bread amongst the poor persons of the parish in proportion to the number in their families. The distribution takes place on a Sunday morning, notice of it having been given on the preceding Sunday.

Lost Charity

In the returns made to Parliament in 1786, a legacy of 20l is mentioned to have been given in 1687, by Mary Martin to the poor of this parish, and to have been lost 40 years before.

We have not been able to obtain any further account of this gift, but there is a tradition in the parish that the church was robbed many years ago of a sum of money arising from some charities.