Tag Archives: Hoare

Rigid rules of the almshouses in old days

Clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_​Almshouses_​1-2, copyright London Borough of Merton. This early drawing shows the original enclosing wall.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th May, 1960, page 3.

TWELVE middle-aged women, protected from the cold winds by woollen capes that reached their ankles, wended their way to Mitcham Parish Church in 1829.

Parishioners who saw the women demurely stepping out each Sunday, knew by their dress that they lived at the newly-erected almshouses at the Cricket Green, Mitcham.

For in 1829 the Tate’s Almshouses were constructed to provide “a residence free from rent, taxes and outgoings for 12 poor women who shall be respectively widows or unmarried women … members of the Church of England and who have a legal settlement in the parish.”

TRUST FUND

For generations the Tate families had been benefactors in the parish and in this early part of the 19th century decided it was time to build houses for the poor and set up a trust fund.

The building, familiar to residents today, was built to designs by a Mr. Buckler on the site of a former house belonging to the Tates who lived nearby. When completed a board of trustees was set up to choose applicants for admission to the house and to organise the administrative side.

These well meaning gentlemen included the Rev. James Henry Mapleton, Vicar of Mitcham, who acted as clerk to the trustees; George Matthew Hoare, of Morden Lodge; Sir John William Lubbock, of Norfolk, and William Simpson, squire in Carshalton.

Each of these ebullient figures invested some money in the project as did the foundress, Mary Tate who gave £5,000.

EXPENSE

The almshouses, whose exterior has altered little, are built in the style prevalent in the latter part of the 16th century and were erected “ at considerable expense.”

For the poor of the parish there was considerable competition to be allocated a room or small flatlet in the almshouses and when, at last, they were successful in gaining admission, there were some fairly rigid rules to be observed.

A copy of the rules was presented by Worthing Public Library to Mitcham Library in the early 1930s.

One of the main stipulations was that the “almswomen” were to be 50 years old and upwards and were not to have received poor relief in the five previous years. They were to be selected by Mary Tate during her life and subsequently by the trustees.

The women forfeited their weekly allowance of three shillings if they remained outside their home for more than 24 hours without official leave.

They were expected to “ behave civilly and orderly and to live orderly and religious lives,” attending the church each week and receiving the sacraments four times each year.

The gates, inset in the high brick wall round the building, were locked at 11 p.m. and an hour earlier during the winter months.

No strangers were allowed into their homes without special permission and on receiving the weekly allowance, the women were “enjoined to discharge all debts contracted in the last week.”

They were also not allowed to keep dogs or alter their apartments without permission.

From this early record, it would seem that the establishment was run on rather austere lines with the matron keeping a book with the names of the women and reporting ” for infraction of the rules ” to the trustees.

The women also benefited from “Smith’s charity.” Smith was an eccentric retired London jeweller who travelled Surrey on foot accompanied by his old dog. He was dubbed “ Dog-smith ” and was reputed to leave sums of money where villages received him well.

Some of the correspondence between William Simpson and Mary Tate, who moved to a country house at Loughborough, shows how the women were chosen to live at the almshouses.

SAME COURSE

In February, 1837, he wrote. . . ” our course at the last vacancy was to give notice of it at church and invite each candidate to send in her grounds of admission to the trustees … if it is your pleasure we should follow the same course on the present occasion, will you do me the honour to communicate with me.”

Then again he wrote to Sir Lubbock asking if he considered it suitable to ask applicants to go to the almshouses 44 when particulars of each case be laid before Miss Tate for her decision on the next vacancy.”

But now a proportion of the old rules have been changed and a recently completed modernisation scheme has resulted in a transformation within the building.

The residents — still all women who have lived in the locality for not less than five years—have had their two-room flatlets redecorated in pleasant light colours. Electric light has been
installed, inside toilets, baths and new gas stoves in some of the apartments.

There is a new roof and drainage system and other renovations completed by a Mitcham firm to make the homes more comfortable.

The women, who now pay a small nominal rent, are chosen by a seven-man committee of trustees. Following former custom. Rev. John Thorold, Vicar of Mitcham, is the ex-officio trustee.

The memory of the Tate family is carried on, however, for there are several tablets and plaques in the parish church commemorating various members of the family.

Among them is a white marble monument erected to George Tate, “a gentleman of aimiable and accomplished manners,” father of the foundress, who died at the age of 77 in May, 1822.

1845 Mitcham Savings Bank Suicide

Source: Sussex Advertiser – Tuesday 22 April 1845

MITCHAM.
Suicide of the Vestry Clerk of Mitcham.—

Considerable excitement was occasioned in the parish of Mitcham, on Friday morning, in consequence of its being generally rumoured that Mr. William John Chart, jun , the officiating vestry and parish clerk of Mitcham, had committed self-destruction. This report, unfortunately, was but too well founded, as the following particulars obtained on the spot will show:

Previous to detailing the facts connected with the suicide, it may be as well to state the exact position held by the deceased in the parish of Mitcham. The family of the Charts have been in this parish for the last hundred years, and for more than two-thirds of that period the office of vestry and parish clerk has been held by the head of their family. Mr. W. Chart, an undertaker and builder, residing on the Fair green, the parochial functionary and has been so between forty and fifty years, but, being for some years past, his son (the deceased) transacted the parochial business ; and as it was understood that at the father’s death the duties would devolve upon the son, he was recognised and addressed as the vestry and parish clerk.

Independent of these situations, he was an auctioneer, house-agent, and actuary of the Mitcham Savings’ Bank. His business was very extensive, and supposed to be very lucrative. In fact, great confidence was placed in him by the inhabitants of Mitcham. Mr. Hoare, the banker, who has a country house at Morden, and is trustee of the Mitcham Savings’ Bank, thought the deceased a proper person to be actuary.

No suspicion, it appears, was entertained that the deceased was appropriating the money of the savings’ bank, or any parish funds to his own use until Thursday last, when Mr. George Hoare, who had made an appointment to meet the deceased, came over to Mitcham, but the deceased was not in the way. This intentional absence on the part of the deceased it is supposed first led Mr. Hoare to believe that something was wrong, and he left a positive direction for the deceased to meet him at nine o’clock on the ensuing (Friday) morning. The deceased, who was fifty-one years of age, and has been twice married, rose on Friday morning between seven and eight, leaving his wife, who is not more than twenty-two years of age, in bed with an infant child, daughter, and proceeding direct to a room he used an office, wrote a note, and left it on the table, after which he quitted the house. His absence at the breakfast table alarmed his wife, who went into his office and there discovered a note addressed to herself. In it the deceased stated that it was impossible for him to exist any longer, and by the time she bad read that he would be dead. Mrs. Chart, who was almost distracted, sent messengers in all directions to search for the deceased, but until ten o’clock nothing could be gleaned respecting him. It was then suggested to search the back premises belonging to the father, and the result was the deceased was found hanging by rope from beam in one of the sheds. Information has been forwarded to the coroner, and the inquest was to be held yesterday (Monday).

Sussex Advertiser – Tuesday 10 June 1845

MITCHAM.

MITCHAM SAVINGS BANK.

For some weeks past the greatest excitement has prevailed in the village of Mitcham, Surrey, in consequence of the discovery of defalcations to a very large amount in the books of the late actuary of the savings’ bank in that place. Trade has been at stand-still, and hundreds of families believed themselves utterly ruined.

It will be recollected that about a month since a report appeared in this journal of the suicide of Mr. W. J. Chart, an auctioneer, builder, and parish clerk of Mitcham. This person was highly respected by his fellow parishioners, and at different times had filled all the parochial offices. About ten years since he was made actuary of the savings’ bank, and so great was the confidence reposed in him that the managers of the savings’ bank never suspected anything could be wrong in his accounts. This circumstance accounts for the fact that Mr. Chart was enabled to embezzle during the last ten years a sum little short of £7,000.

It will be remembered that the deceased had to meet Mr. G.M. Hoare, the brewer (who resides at Morden, and is the treasurer of the savings’ bank), on Friday, the 18th ult., upon business respecting the bank. Instead of keeping that appointment the deceased went into loft and hanged himself. The fact of the deceased committing suicide at such a particular period caused it to be inferred that he was behindhand in his accounts, and had not the moral courage to Mr. Hoare.

At the inquest it was stated that his affairs were in satisfactory state. Such, however, was unhappily proved not to be the case. As soon as the deceased was buried, a meeting of the trustees and managers (the latter consisting of tradesmen in Mitcham) was held at the infant-school house, Lower Mitcham ; Mr. G. M. Hoare, the treasurer, Mr. Chambers, of Morden, and Dr. Bartley, of Mitcham, being the trustees present. The proof of embezzlement having been made apparent, and to a much larger extent than had been anticipated, it was determined forthwith to communicate with Mr. Tidd Pratt, the revising barrister for banks of savings and benefit societies. The learned gentleman met the trustees on the 28th of April. After several hours’ investigation, in which the learned barrister was greatly assisted by Dr Bartley, he adjourned the further investigation until the following Monday. In the interval Dr. Bartley was taken dangerously ill. Several of the leading members of the faculty attended him, but he never rallied, and died within a week. It is stated that mental anxiety produced by the unfortunate bank transaction was the sole cause of the death of this gentleman, who was only in his 50th year, and previously in very good health. The deceased was a most benevolent gentleman, and deeply respected by all classes.

The investigation was ultimately proceeded with and brought to a close on Friday week, when the total deficiency in the bank assets was declared to be £6,557, some odd shillings. There were many societies that deposited their money in this bank, and amongst them two lodges of Odd Fellows and the Mitcham Tradesman’s Club, held at the Buck’s Head. Of this club the deceased was secretary. The latter club had deposited £124, and in the deceased’s ledger they were credited with 5s. 1d. Thirty Odd Fellows had deposited £10 each, and were credited £1 each. Mr. Tidd Pratt stated that the actuary must have paid per annum out of his own pocket as interest to the depositors to lull suspicion. It is now decided that the amount deficient shall be made up by the treasurer, trustees, and managers,— Mr. G. Hoare paying £4,000, Mr. Chambers, £1,000, the widow of Dr. Bartley, £1,000, and the widow of the deceased actuary, £100, the amount of his security. Sir T. Ackland and his lady have subscribed £150 towards relieving the managers, who are chiefly poor tradesmen, of their burden.

Inflation adjusted amounts

1845 2015
£100 £12,000
£1,000 £120,000
£4,000 £480,000
£6,557 £740,000