Easter doles, charities and endowments

Photo:Mary Malatratt's Dole in Mansfield

Mary Malatratt's Dole in Mansfield

An Overview

By R B Parish

As you tuck into your Easter Eggs, you may not be necessarily thinking about the less worse off in society. But not surprisingly considering the religious nature of the day, in old times many local benefactors were and doles are not unusually associated with the time and a number are recorded in the county. I have already discussed Mary Mallatrat's dole. Like this one, many were established on Good Friday, and gave a bread as opposed to hot cross buns as in that charity. For example Mrs Johnson’s dole, Ordsall of one shilling of bread, 14s of small loaves given to Warsop poor, Forster’s Charity at Eakring, which have widows 6d loaves and very poor person a 1d loaf, 30s bread in Lowdham’s Poor Money, Upton’s Tinlay’s Charity gave 4d in six loaves after the service.  Some like Edwinstowe’s Christopher Sudbury’s Charity gave money others such as a charity in Welbeck gave 3 shillings and 4 d to Anstey’s poor in a bushel of wheat. In Hucknall, the ‘Widow’s Groat’ was given to 15 poor widows by the minister and churchwardens, from the annual rent of 15s from a piece of land called ‘Crown Piece’. This practice was still continued until at least 1909.

Easter Sunday was also a day for doles and charities. Rolleston Charity, Attenborough, left 35 shillings pa for bread.Clifton cum Glapwell’s ‘Poor  Money’ left £2 8s per annum to be distributed to widows  and Thurgarton  gave 5 10s. According to Kidson (1905) at Retford, a 1723 dole consisted of £40 to be:

“annually disposed among ye honest poor people of ye town at ye discretion of my aforesaid trustees and yr successors”

Sometimes Easter was the start of a whole season of giving. Fellinham’s and Spofforth’s Charity at Southwell gave £100 and £50 respectively to provide bread for the poor from Easter to Christmas. 

Being a religious day of observance it is not surprising that sermons were endowed at this time. This would not be an unusual custom pre-Reformation as local families would give money for providing mass at Easter. Post Reformation the custom would have moved to providing money for sermons. Some had specific themes. Records show that Alderman Parker left in 1603, 20s for a sermon on the day at St. Mary’s Church Nottingham to cover ‘Christian love and charity’. Others were functional Tuxford, an endowment in 1756 for the administration of the sacrament is also recorded.  The Newark Earl of Scarsdale Charity of 1679 provided money for a sermon on this day, although the details are not recorded of its nature. 

Extracted from the forth coming book A Nottinghamshire Calendar - Nottingham Customs and ceremonies and Nottingham Hidden History Eastertide in Nottinghamshire

This page was added by R B Parish on 22/04/2014.

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