Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 03, 2017.
Webpage updated: August 03, 2017




Mr William Rowe, by his will dated April 16th 1690, gave to Mr William Symons, Mr Ephraim Muncke, and Mr John Henwood, and their heirs, a field or close of land called Shute Park, near the middle mill, along with the appurtenances and a barn, upon trust, yearly, within 10 days after December 25th.  They were to use the rents and profits to provided clothes for the poor of Plymouth.

He also gave to the trustees named above, all his messuages, lands, goods and estates not already given, to put to such charitable use as they thought fit.  But this second gift was on condition that they looked after his family and friends who may become poor before any others and that part of the estate should be paid out for the education and preferment of poor children of Plymouth to trades or otherwise.  The charity was also to look after the relief of aged and poor persons in the Borough.

After the death of Mr Rowe, Mr John Henwood, being the sole survivor of the executors of his will, 'entered upon the field called Shute Park, and possessed himself of the residue of Mr Rowe's personal estate'.  In 1709, be means of indentures of lease, release and assignment, Mr Henwood appointed Mr John Crabb and Mr John Henwood the younger as trustees for the charitable uses of the land and conveyed the property to them.  Some time after the passing of the Act for the erection of the Workhouse in Plymouth, the attorney general instituted proceedings in the Court of Chancery for the field to be transferred to that guardians of the poor.  This transfer was finally achieved by an agreement dated September 20th 1713, whereby not only did Mr Crabb assign Shute Park to the guardians but also gave them 100 out of the remaining personal estate.  The money and the property were handed over in December 1713.

Shute Park was a field of 3 acres 3 roods and 27 perches.  One rood of that was let to the Plymouth Public Free Schools on a 500-year lease at a rent of 10 per annum and the School was erected upon the site in 1809.  The remainder of the field was let to Messrs Hammett, Prance and Company, sail cloth manufacturers, for seven years from Lady-day 1816 at a rental of 42 per year.  It was used as a bleaching ground.

Until 1816 the rental income of this property had been incorrectly carried to the general fund of the Workhouse.  After this error was discovered, the income was passed to a committee which on January 1st each year distributed articles of clothing amongst the poor of both the parishes of Saint Andrew's and Charles, provided the recipient was not already an inmate of the Workhouse.

In addition to the property of Shute Park, the trustees of Rowe's Charity also held 841 worth of 3% Consols, the income of which was originally used to pay for the education of poor children at different schools in the Town.  However, when new trustees were appointed to the Charity in 1814 this system was changed and the dividend, which amounted to 25 2s 5d in 1820, was then passed to the treasurer of the Plymouth Public Free Schools.

On Lady-day 1824 the land previously occupied by Messrs Hammett, Prance and Company was let on a building lease of 99 years for the same rental of 42 per annum.  Several houses were then erected on the land and let at separate leases, the ground rent being apportioned between them.

A small piece of that land, amounting to 2,800 square feet, was conveyed freehold by the guardians of the poor to the trustees of the Public Free Schools in 1862 under the terms of the School Sites Act.

The property held by the Charity in 1907 was:

  • the area of land let to the Plymouth Public Free Schools on lease;
  • a builder's yard in Glanville Street;
  • 20 houses in Glanville Street;
  • 7 houses in Glanville Place;
  • 10 houses in James Street;
  • 4 houses and a small piece of garden in Halwell Street;
  • 11 houses in Rowe Street;
  • 7 houses in Victoria or Skardon Court; and
  • 1 house in Victoria Lane.

The leases of all the houses expired on March 25th 1923.  The total rental income was 66 6s 6d, although this was apparently not apportioned equally amongst the properties.

The income of Rowe's Charity was combined with that from Madock's, Francis's and Palmer's Charities and in 1907 they distributed 566 petticoats and 238 shirts, all of which were hand cut by the Matron of the Workhouse, who received a payment of 2 2s for doing so.  The inmates of the Workhouse then made up the garments and were rewarded with a tea, which, in 1907, cost 7s 6d.  Each of the 42 guardians of the poor were given an equal number of tickets, worth one garment for each, and they were distributed in January or February each year and again in November or December.  The rules of Madock's Bequest required that half the tickets should go to those already in receipt of Poor Law relief.

By an Order of the Charity Commissioners dated June 14th 1907 the 841 Consols were transferred to the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds but it was later determined that as the endowment should, according to Mr Rowe's will, be devoted to educational purposes.  Thus on October 4th 1908 the endowment was transferred to the trustees of the Plymouth Public Free Schools and known as Rowe's Educational Foundation.  The annual income at that time was 21 0s 4d.