of a charity, may apply to the charity commissioners for their opinion, advice or direction; and any person acting under such advice is indemnified, unless he has been guilty of misrepresentation in obtaining it.” (9) Limitation of Charity Commissioners’ Powers,—The commissioners cannot, however, make any order with respect to any charity of which the gross annual income amounts to £50 or upwards, except on the application (in writing) of the trustees or a majority of them. Their powers are thus very limited, except when put in motion by the trustees. If a parish is divided they can apportion the charities if the gross income does not exceed £20. (10) General Powers of the Charity Commission.—Subject to the limitation of £50, &c., the charity commissioners have power (Charitable Trusts Act 1860) to make orders for the appointment or removal of trustees, or of any officer, and for the transfer, payment and vesting of any real or personal estate, or “for the establishment of any scheme for the administration” of the charity, (11) Schemes and Remodelling of Charities.—Under this power charities are remodelled, and small and miscellaneous charities put into one fund and applied to new purposes. The cy-près doctrine is applied, by which if a testator leaves directions that are only indefinite, or if the objects for which a charity was founded are obsolete, the charity is applied to some purpose, as far as possible, in accordance with the charitable intention of the founder. This doctrine probably received its widest application in the City of London Parochial Charities Act of 1883. Under other acts doles have been applied to education and to allotments. About 380 schemes are issued in the course of a year. (12) Objects adopted in remodelling Charities.—In the remodelling of charities for the general benefit of the poor some one or more of thirteen objects are usually included in the scheme. These are subscriptions to a medical charity, to a provident club or coal or clothing society, to a friendly society; for nurses, for annuities, for outfit for service, &c.; for emigration; for recreation grounds, clubs, reading-rooms, museums, lectures; for temporary relief to a limited amount in each year; for clothes fuel, tools, medical aid, food, &c., or in money “in cases of unexpected loss or sudden destitution”; for pensions. (13) Parochial Charities.—By the Local Government Act of 1892, local ecclesiastical charities, i.e. endowments for “any spiritual purpose that is a legal purpose” (for spiritual persons, church and other buildings, for spiritual uses, &c.), are separated from parochial charities, “the benefits of which are, or the separate distribution of the benefits of which is, confined to inhabitants of a single parish, or of a single ancient ecclesiastical parish, or not more than five neighbouring parishes.” These charities, since the Local Government Act 1894, are under the supervision of the parish councils, who appoint trustees for their management in lieu of the former overseer or vestry trustees, or, under certain conditions, “additional trustees.” The accounts have to be submitted to the parish meeting, and the names of the beneficiaries of dole charities published. (14) Official Trustees.—There is also “an official trustee of charity lands,” who as “bare trustee” may hold the land or stock of the charity managed by the trustees or administrators. In 1905 the stock transferred to the official trustees amounted to £24,820,945. (15) Audit.—The charity commissioners have no power of audit, but the trustees of every charity have to prepare a statement of accounts annually, and transmit it to the commission. The accounts have to be “certified under the hand of one or more of the trustees and by the auditor of the charity.” (16) Taxation.—In the case of rents and profits of lands, &c., belonging to hospitals or almshouses, or vested in trustees for charitable purposes, allowances are made in diminution of income-tax (56 Vict. 35 § 61). From the inhabited house duty any hospital charity school, or house provided for the reception or relief of poor persons, is exempted (House Tax Act 1808). Also there is an exemption from the land-tax in regard to land rents, &c., in possession of hospitals before 1693. (17) The Digest.—A digest of endowed charities in England and Wales was compiled in the years 1861 to 1876. A new digest of reports and financial particulars has since been completed.
The income of endowed charities in 1876 was returned at £2,198,463. It is now, no doubt, considerably larger than it was in 1876. Partial returns show that at least a million a year is now available in England and Wales for the assistance of the aged poor and for doles. Between the poor-law, which, as it is at present administered, is a permanent endowment provided from the rates for the support of a class of permanent “poor,” and endowed charities, which are funds available for the poor of successive generations, there is no great difference. But in their resources and administration the difference is marked. Local endowed charities were constantly founded after Queen Elizabeth’s time till about 1830, and the poor-rate was at first supplementary of the local charities. When corn and fuel were dear and clothes very expensive, what now seem trivial endowments for food, fuel, coal and clothes were important assets in the thrifty management of a parish. But when the poor were recognized as a class of dependants entitled by law to relief from the community, the rate increased out of all proportion to the charities. A distinction then made itself felt between the “parish” poor and the “second” poor, or the poor who were not relieved from the rates, and relief from the rates altogether overshadowed the charitable aid. Charitable endowments were ignored, ill-administered, and often were lost. After 1834 the poor-law was brought under the control of the central government. Poor relief was placed in the hands of boards of guardians in unions of parishes. The method of co-operation between poor-law and charity suggested by the acts of Queen Elizabeth was set aside, and, as a responsible partner in the public work of relief, charity was disestablished. In the parishes the endowed charities remained in general a disorganized medley of separate trusts, jealously guarded by incompetent administrators. To give unity to this mass of units, so long as the principles of charity are misunderstood or ignored, has proved an almost impossible and certainly an unpopular task. So far as it has been achieved, it has been accomplished by the piecemeal legislation of schemes cautiously elaborated to meet local prejudices. Active reform has been resented, and politicians have often accentuated this resentment. In 1894 a select committee was appointed to inquire whether it was desirable to take measures to bring the action of the Charity Commission more directly under the control of parliament, but no serious grievances were substantiated. The committees’ reports are of interest, however, as an indication of the initial difficulties of all charitable work, the general ignorance that prevails in regard to the elementary conditions that govern it, the common disregard of these principles, and the absence of any accepted theory or constructive policy that should regulate its development and its administration.
After the Poor-Law Act of 1601 the history of the voluntary parochial charities in a town parish is marked by their decreasing amount and utility, as poor-law relief and pauperism increased. The act, it would seem, was not adopted with much alacrity by theCharity in the parish after 1601. local authorities. From 1625 to 1646 there were many years of plague and sickness, but in St Giles’s, London, as late as 1649, the amount raised by the “collectors” (or overseers) was only £176. They disbursed this to “the visited poor” as “pensions.” In 1665 an extra levy of £600 is mentioned. In the accounts of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, where, as in St Giles’s, gifts were received, the change wrought by another half-century (1714) is apparent. The sources of charitable relief are similar to those in all the Protestant churches—English, Scottish or continental: church collections and offertories; correctional fines, such as composition for bastards and conviction money for swearers; and besides these, income from annuities and legacies, the parish estate, the royal bounty, and “petitions to persons of quality.” In all £2041 was collected, but, so far as relief was concerned, the parish relied not on it, but on the poor-rate, which produced £3765. All this was collected and disbursed on their own authority by collectors, to orphans, “pensioners” or the “known or standing” poor, or to casual poor (£1818), including nurse children and bastards. The begging poor were numerous and the infant death-rate enormous, and each year three-fourths of those christened were “inhumanly suffered to die by the barbarity of nurses.” The whole administration was uncharitable, injurious to the community and the family, and inhuman to the child. If one may judge from later accounts of other parishes even up to 1834, usually it remained the same, purposeless and unintelligent; and it can hardly be denied that, generally speaking, only since the middle of the 19th century has any serious attention been paid to the charitable side of parochial work. Parallel to the parochial movement of the poor-law in England, in France (about 1617) were established the bureaux de bienfaisance, at first entirely voluntary institutions, then recognized by the state, and during the Revolution made the central administration for relief in the communes.
In the 17th century in England, as in France, opinion favoured the establishment of large hospitals or maisons Dieu for the reception of the poor of different classes. In France throughout the century there was a continuous struggle with mendicancy, andCharitable movements after 1601. the hospitals were used as places into which offenders were summarily driven. A new humanity was, however, beginning its protest. The pitiful condition of abandoned children attracted sympathy in both countries. St Vincent de Paul established homes for the enfants trouvés, followed in England by the establishment of the Foundling hospital (1739). In both countries the method was applied inconsiderately and pushed to excess, and it affected family life most injuriously. Grants from parliament supported the foundling movement in England, and homes were opened in many parts of the country. The demand soon became overwhelming; the mortality was enormous, and the cost so large