12th February, 1941
Man refused £500,000 to live on 5 pounds a week and three texts
Gilliat Edward Hatfeild refused half a million pounds and lived on five pounds a week in a cottage. He didn’t need a half million. He was rich; and he was giving away practically all his income. Gilliat Edward Hatfeild has just died in his cottage. He was 77 years old, and had never married. He spent his life fulfilling three passages from the Scriptures:-
1. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts xx., 35).
He received much. His father was head of 180-year-old tobacco and snuff firm James Taddy and Co. in the Minories whose Myrtle Grove Brand used to be a popular smoke before the firm shut down in 1920. From his father, Gilliatt Hatfeild inherited a fortune and Morden Hall at Morden, in Surrey, along with 700 acres.
He set to work to give much.
In 1920 he turned the 60-room hall into a convalescent home for the London Hospital. He lived in his cottage on the estate, and patients from London’s East End lived in the hall, recovering health and strength.
He paid for everything. It must have cost him at least £150 a week
2. Take heed that you do not do your alms before men (Matthew vi., 1).
That figure of £150 a week is an estimate. Even the secretary of the hospital does not know the real amount. He said yesterday: “Officials at the hospital visited Mr Hatfeild about once a week but he never discussed money with them.”
Gilliat Hatfeild hated anyone knowing about his generosity. He wore inexpensive clothes till they were threadbare, ate simply, drank no alcohol, did not smoke.
When he gave the estate staff Christmas gifts each year he made a little speech to thank them for their loyalty.
3. Whoso shall receive one such a little child in my name receiveth me (Matthew xvii., 5).
Always there were children among the patients at the hall. Every day he played with them – they went to his cottage to fetch him into the sunshine, and hung on his arms, laughing and chattering.
His estate was a sanctuary for sick children and a sanctuary for song birds – both his friends. That was why, when offers totalling half a million came along in the Morden land boom of the 1920s he simply said “No”
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