Leigh Parochial Charities

LEIGH PAROCHIAL CHARITIES (from Frank Hawkins notes on the History of Leigh held in the Leigh Archives)

The reports by the Charity Commissioners made in 1815-1839 give a full account of the various charities by which the poor of the Parish benefited.  The distribution was generally in the hands of the Vicar and Churchwardens.

The earliest charity concerned four acres of land called “le vagge” later the “Fagge” (see ‘Donor Unknown’ below), including a tenement, given for the relief of the poor.   There is a transfer deed of 1467/8, by which the property was transferred from Thomas Bartelot to Thomas Durkynghole and others.  This land was regularly assigned to parish residents and eventually the Poor House was erected on it.  The Parish cottages in the High Street and in Lower Green are on part of this land, the remainder was sold by the Parish (date not known) for £1,050.5.4d and the proceeds invested in Consolidated Stock.

In 1901, the Board of Charity Commissioners for England and Wales, upon application made to them by the Vicar, Churchwardens and two Overseers of the Poor of the Parish approved a scheme for the regulation of the Leigh United Charities, managed by four trustees of whom the Vicar is Chairman.

There is in addition the Crandall Charity Bequest, under the management of Trustees, the Vicar, Churchwardens and Chairman of the Parish Council, to help poor persons who reside in the Parish and who by reason of illness, age, physical incapacity or infirmity are in want of assistance.

The Charities concerned were:

Pelsett’s Charity
John Pelsett by Will dated 27th February 1602, bequeathed to John Porter and his heirs his tenements and lands in Cowden parish paying £4 every year that is to say, to the churchwardens of the Church of Cowden 20s to be distributed to the poor of the same parish by the minister and churchwardens, to the churchwardens of Chiddingstone 20s; to the churchwardens of Leigh 20s and to the churchwardens of Penshurst 20s, to be distributed on the same manner.

Joseph Gainsford, the owner of a farm called Coleman’s consisting of about 70 acres in Cowden, pays 20s yearly to the Churchwardens of each of the parishes of Leigh, Chiddingstone, Penshurst, Cowden, which is distributed in this parish with Kent’s Charity hereafter mentioned.

Donor Unknown
By indenture made 14th July 1603 between George Stace of the one part and John Stace and six others of the other part, the said George Stace, as son and heir to John Stace who was the surviving feoffee in trust of a tenement and lands called the Fagge, or Vagge, given for the relief of the poor of the parish of Leigh, conveyed to parties of the second part, and their heirs, the said messuage of tenement and four acres of land thereto belonging, called the Fagge or Vagge, in the parish of Leigh, to hold the same agreeable to the intentions of a former deed.

The deed thus referred to is not to be found.  By deed dated 29th April 1647, William Kyttle, as the survivor of the feoffees under the deed of 1603, conveyed the same premises to John Kyttle and others in trust to and for the use and benefit of the poor people of and in the parish of Leigh.

The premises comprised in these indentures appear to be a house, used by the overseers as parish poor-house, and four acres of land adjoining, which have been also held by the overseers with the house, and treated as parish property.

There seems no evidence of this property having been ever applied to charitable purposes, though the expression used in the deeds appear to imply a trust rather for the benefit of the poor than the ease of the rated parishioners.

Kent’s Charity
By indenture of feoffment made the 4th May 1622, between Mary Kent of the one part and Thomas Beale of the other part, the said Mary Kent granted to the said Thomas Beale and his heirs, certain lands and tenements called the Dynts and all other lands and tenements in the parish of Leigh or elsewhere in the county of Kent, upon trust to pay to the Churchwardens of the parish of Leigh, for the time being £4:14 by quarterly payments to be paid by the advice of the minister and distributed equally among such poor people of the said parish as were or should have been daily labourers, and should be unable to labour because of age or sickness and were born in the said parish.  The sum of £4:14 is paid about Christmas yearly in respect of property in this parish belonging to Mrs Oliver.

The yearly sum of £4:14:- and £1 each from Goodhugh’s, Pelsett’s and £1:5:- from Budgens charities are expended in the purchase of bread, which is given among the poor the day after Christmas Day. The bread is given to those who appear to be most in need of it, one, two and three loaves, according to the number in family.

Owing to the neglect of the Churchwardens the payment of the £4:14:- was not made in the year 1834, and it seems doubtful whether the payment was not omitted in a former year, the bread however was distributed in the usual manner.

Oliver and Elizabeth Budgen’s Charity.
By deed of feoffment dated 31st May 1620 Oliver Budgen and his wife Elizabeth granted to the Vicar of Leigh and others, and to their heirs, two half acres of meadow lying together in Neyfield, part of Haisden meads, in the Parish of Tonbridge, to the use of the poor of the parish of Leigh.

The two half acres are called the poor acre and contain about three quarters of an acre of land. For three years the land was rented by a navigation company at £4 a year, but for the two last years it has been let to a yearly tenant at £1:5:- which is a fair rent.

This is distributed as above mentioned.

Goodhugh’ Charity
Robert Goodhugh, by Wills dated 17th December 1662 gave yearly out of three pieces of land in Tonbridge called Noble Tree Croft, to the Churchwardens for the time being of the parish of Tonbridge 40s for the use of the poor of the same parish, and by the said churchwardens to be distributed amongst the most aged poor people which had been labourers and other poor people who were impotent or charged with children, as they should think fit; also to the churchwardens of the parish of Leigh 20s and to the churchwardens of the parish of Chiddingstone 20s to be distributed yearly in like manner and to satisfy the aforesaid yearly payments be devised to William Saxby and John Children an annuity or yearly rent, of £4 out of the said lands.

The several yearly sums above mentioned are paid by Stephen Turcy the owner of Noble Tree Croft, and the sum of 20s paid to this parish is distributed as above-mentioned.

Saxby & Wood’s Charity   
William Saxby and William Wood, by deed dated 28th February 1675, granted to trustees therein named a messuage at or near Leigh Green, in the parish of Leigh, in trust to permit the churchwardens and overseers of the said parish to receive the rents and profits and there out weekly to provide three twopenny loaves of bread and to dispose of the same to three poor inhabitants of the said parish such as they should think to want and most to deserve the same; and the residue, if any, to dispose of to such poor people as they should think fit.

The property consists of five tenements with gardens adjoining the church yard, two of which supposed to have been built at the expense of the parish, it was stated in this enquiry that the premises had for many years, been occupied by the parish paupers and no rent paid; but information has been since given, that the premises have been lately let, and that the rents will be appropriated to the benefit of the poor, as appears to have been the intention of the donors.

Children’s Charity
George Children by will dated 11th November 1713, devised to William Walter Head and John Putland and their heirs an annuity of £10:10:- issuing out of his messuage farm and lands called Lowe Street . Collin’s land, Summers’ land, and Watch Cross Lands in Tonbridge and Leigh, payable quarterly at the four usual feasts on trust to twelve poor inhabitants living in Leigh, such as should be frequenters of Leigh Church, and were labourers and of honest reputation and such as his said trustees, together with his wife and such of his relatives as should be inhabiting Lowe Street, should deem to be in the greater necessity; the  same poor people to be removed from his said charity, and the same to be given to others more deserving thereof, as his said trustees and relatives should from time to time think fit.

The property described in the Will is now divided as follows; Lowe Street, now called Lowe Street Farm is the property of Sarah Harbroe and occupied by Thomas Redman; Messrs. W.& J.Carnell are the proprietors and Henry Young the occupier of Watch Cross now called Watt’s Cross, except 15 or 16 acres, which has been sold off and are occupied by John Francis; Collens Land is understood to be the property of Francis Baileys  the land called Summers land is not known.

The yearly sum of £7 is received from Messers. Carnells and £3:10: – from Thomas Redman the tenant of Mrs.Harbroe.

Twelve loaves are distributed by the vicar of the parish every Sunday after Divine service to 12 poor people who are most regular in their attendance at church; a preference being shown to widows and other destitute persons.

Total Gross Income                  Total Former Income

Leigh          £90: 5: 6                     £18: 9:-

Distribution of                      General Uses of the Poor
Articles and Kind

£17:2:-                                      £73:3:6.



(added to website November 2015 by Joyce Field)