the late Alfred Thomas Keene.
The author was an enthusiastic local historian and partner in the solicitors firm of Keene & Kelly This short article of his shows that during the seventeenth century the cavalier parliament of Charles II often prescribed ‘good causes’ for church contributions. It was first published in The Cheshire Sheaf ( November 1891 ), 164-5.
‘Briefs were commonly used for the purpose of making collections for various charitable purposes long before the reign of Queen Anne. They were then called “Kings Letters Patent.” An Act of Parliament was passed 4 Anne (1705-06) for regulating the issues of these Letters Patent, and for printing and circulating the copies of the Letters Patent as well as for the collecting and disposing of the money. The fees and charges were, however, so very heavy as to be a great hindrance to the use of this means of collecting benevolences. Burn, in his Ecclesiastical Law, gives an example of a Brief used for the benefit of the parish of Ravenstondale in Westmorland, in which case the Patent charges amounted to £76 3s.6d.; salary for 9,986 Briefs at 6d. each come to £249 13s.Od. [N.B. I suppose this salary means the remuneration to the collectors]; salary for London £5; thus the sum of £330 16s.6d. had to be expended before any return came to the parish. In this case the collection on the 9,986 Briefs realised £614 12s.9d.; but the charges were, as above, £330 16s.6d., leaving a net profit of £283 16s.3d., a sum which poorly represented an appeal to nearly every parish in England, being an average of a little over 6d. from each parish solicited!
The following is a list of Briefs on which collections were made in MOLD CHURCH in 1661, copied from an old account book of that parish :-
“Wee the Churchwardens collected in the parish Church of Mould on the Lords Day by Virtue of the Kings Letters Patent the sum of eleven shillings for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Solebay in the County of Suffolk.
Wee have collected towards the re-building of the Church of Pontefract in the County of Yorke the sum of five shillings & 8d.
Wee have colected towards the reliefe of the Poor of Drayton the sum of eleven shillings and five pence.
Wee have gathered also by virtue of the Kings Letters Patent to the use of the Professors of Christianitie w’ch lived under the Dukedom of Lithuania the sum of eight shillings and 4d.
Wee have colected the sume of five shillings for the Church and doing what was necessary to the Bridge of Glasbery [ qy Glastonbury?]*
We have colected the sume of five shillings and sixpence gathered the 22d. of S’ber by virtue of the Kings Letters Patent for the relief of suffering by Fire in Oxford.
The whole of the benevolence money is 47 shillings and 1 pence and the aforesaid sume wee have delivered to such p’sons as were authorised to receive them as it doth appeare by acquittance under their hands.”
In 1709 it was mooted to issue a Brief for the re-building of the steeple of Mold Church, which was then in a decayed state, but the project was dropped, very possibly from the prohibitive character of the charges. Mold Church tower was re-built in 1773 by subscriptions and rates.’
*[ *or possibly Glasbury, Radnorshire ? Ed. ]
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