Ann Watson's Charity


Ann Watson's Trust was created by the will of Mrs Ann Watson, dated 27th October 1720. We know little of her life or family, except that she was married to the Reverend Abraham Watson and had four children. Only her son Isaac, the rector of South Ferriby, survived her; two other sons, Hedon and Abraham, and a daughter, married to Mr Alexander Hall, all died in her lifetime.

A woman of means and property, Ann Watson left a legacy which has helped those less fortunate than herself for three centuries after her death and which continues today.

In addition to provisions made for her family members, Mrs Watson left the means to provide accommodation and relief in need to widows or unmarried daughters of clergymen of the Church of England. To this end her home in Stoneferry, The White House, was to be given over to house four clergymen’s widows or daughters and to provide a school to teach ten poor girls from Stoneferry and Sutton sewing, knitting and spinning.

She also left the means to appoint a schoolmistress to live in and teach the girls. She was obviously keen to promote advancement by education and also provided for an exhibition (a grant) of £5 towards the maintenance of a scholar at college in Oxford, providing he had been educated at Halsham School in Holderness.

All her farm lands, houses and tenements were left to her Trustees and the inheritance and reversion thereof to the Minister and Church Wardens of Sutton, Hedon and St. Trinity’s [sic] in Kingston upon Hull. Monies were also left to ensure that sermons were preached annually by the Ministers of Sutton and Hedon, the latter in memory of her mother.

By the end of the eighteenth century doubts were being raised as to the proper objects of the proviso within the will which stated who should be admitted to the College or Almshouse. Although Mrs Watson had stipulated it should be given over to clergymen’s widows or daughters, she had added a clause which stated that any of her kindred, of full or half blood, being either wife, maid or widow should have first preference and be settled in the College and Charities in Stoneferry.

As only relatives were being admitted, to the exclusion of clergymen’s widows and daughters, the opinion of counsel was sought who advised that this particular clause in the will only applied to those relatives who were living at the time of Mrs Watson’s death and was not intended to be applied ad infinitum.

In view of this, an information was filed with the Court of Chancery by the then Vicars of Sutton, Hedon and Holy Trinity in Hull against the two other trustees of the charity, the churchwardens of the Parish of Sutton who, it was claimed, were preventing clergymen’s widows and daughters from being placed in the College. They also accused the churchwardens of under-letting the estates of the charity and opposing an increase in rents.

The case was referred to one of the masters of court in June 1799 to appoint six persons to be trustees of the charity estate. In his report of the 10th July 1800 the master approved a proposal that the vicars of Sutton, Hedon, Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s in Hull and the Rev. John Bourne and the Rev. Thomas Dykes should be trustees of the charity.

Through careful management the estates of the charity developed over the years and played a role in the expansion of Hull. For instance, in 1884 five fields on the north side of Holderness Road were sold to the Hull Urban Sanitary Authority for £16,909.7s.6d. in order to form part of an East Park for the town, and in 1866, following the Hull to Hornsea Railway Act, land to the value of £378.16s.3d was taken for the purpose of the railway and the money invested in further land on Holderness Road.

Today, the objects of the Charity remain to provide accommodation and relief in need for poor women who are members of the Church of England, with preference being given to such persons who are widows or unmarried daughters of clergymen of the Church of England. The Charity also provides for the advancement of education in promoting the education of persons under the age of 25 who are residents of the East Riding of Yorkshire or who attend a school in that area and for providing any special benefits for schools in that area which will not have effect of relieving statutory expenditure.

What does the collection contain?

The collection includes minutes of meetings, financial records, legal records such as trust deeds, conveyances, leases, abstracts of titles, papers relating to cases heard in Chancery, and orders by the Charity Commission

C DSAW/1 Minutes (covering 1841-1979) 

C DSAW/2 Financial Records (1798-1971) 

C DSAW/3 Administration Relating to the terms of Mrs Ann Watson's will (1602-1971)

C DSAW/4 Charity Commission administration (1884-1987)

C DSAW/5 Conveyances (1814-1967)

C DSAW/6 Legal Agreements (1863-1946)

C DSAW/7 Leases (1909-1941)

Items of particular interest include a full copy of Ann Watson’s will (C DSAW/3/3) and a series of records relating to the case in Chancery (C DSAW/3/11). The records at C DSAW/5, C DSAW/6 and C DSAW/7 contain a number of conveyances, leases and agreements which indicate how the estates of the charity developed over the years and bear testimony to the part played by the charity in the development of Hull.

What can the collection be used for?

Records within this collection can be used for a variety of research purposes including:

  • Charity work, including the work of the Charity Commission
  • Social history
  • Family history
  • Local history

The records themselves provide an insight into the creation, development and sustainability of a charity which has subtly shifted its emphasis over the years, but remains dedicated to the tenets of the testatrix’s will.

How do I access the collection?

The collection is available for anyone to use and has been given the unique reference number C DSAW.

Is there any related material?

The following items can be found within collections held at the Hull History Centre:

  • C DBHT/7/520 Proposed exchange of land East of Holderness Drain between Ann Watson's Charity and Col. Broadley at Stoneferry and Sutton (1891)
  • C DBHT/7/502 Plan showing the lands of Ann Watson's Charity and Col. Broadley on the bank of the River Hull
  • C DBHT/5/137 Papers relating to Stoneferry. Includes note of sales, exchange of land by Colonel Broadley and Ann Watson's Charity 1896, notes relating to the East District and Stoneferry Drainage, and press cuttings (late 19th cent.)
  • C DMC/17/16 Miscellaneous records relating to the Hull United Charities. Plan showing property surrounding proposed new streets (Chamberlain Road and Laburnham Avenue) giving names of landowners and dimensions, W.H.H. Broadley; Ann Watson's Charity Trustees and Messrs. Lee and Greer, scale-2 chains=1 inch (n.d.)
  • C TLG/31 Easements granted to the Corporation Trustees of Ann Watson's Charity, Wm. H. H. Broadley, agreement re: East district drainage. Includes plan. (26 Jul 1892-7 Jul 1896)
  • In 1907 Hospital Lane in Hull, where Ann Watson’s almshouse once stood, was renamed Ann Watson Street. Items relating to the street can be found by searching our online catalogue and by using the index cards in the searchroom.