John Snitch’s Charity

John Snitch born in 1627 was the son of William Snitch of Potton, Bedfordshire, England.  John was a carpenter and learnt his trade following an apprenticeship with his father in their carpenters yard in Horslow Street, Potton, Bedfordshire, England.  It should be remembered that John grew up during the Civil War which started in 1642 when John was only 15.  No battles were fought near Potton nor were there many Royalists in the local area but it must have caused some tension between the families and of course many records were destroyed which doesn’t help when trying to carry out research in this period.

These are a few pictures that I was able to obtain of Horslow Street, Potton but I’m unable to identify the house where John Snitch Lived with any confidence.

John Snitch apparently lived  in a house adjacent to Meeting Lane and Horslow Street, Potton, which are marked in Blue on this map but which one I can’t actually say.  Looking at the size of land for each property and the fact that he was a Carpenter he would need quite a bit of land to store his timber and to work.  I think he was more into building houses etc rather than furniture, so from this I would assume it is the larger of the two properties, the lower one on the map, right hand side of Meeting Lane. It should also be pointed out that the original buildings possibly burnt down and were rebuilt in 1717.
John and his siblings must have had quite an interesting childhood spending many hours playing in his fathers carpenters yard amongst the timber, wood shaving and sawdust.
Although John’s father, William was not an educated man he made sure that John received a good education  and most probably sent him to Holme School, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, where he learnt to read using a horn-book.  The Lords Prayer and an alphabet were printed on paper and mounted on a piece of wood.  The paper was protected by a sheet of transparent horn.  The majority of his reading matter would have been of a religious nature but I’m sure he must have supplemented this with material he picked up from market stalls, like ballads and tales.  He learnt to read, write and undertake simple arithmetic and by about the age of 10 he started his apprenticeship in his fathers yard.
Being the son of a craftsman he would have received a thorough training from his father and having gained the knowledge on figures, must have enhanced his understanding of the financial side of the business.  William’s Will suggests that he was suffering from ill health and had been for some time and he wanted John to take over the running of the business.  William’s Will shows that he handed over his house, yard, outbuildings, stables and pasture land to John whilst William rented a house from Richard Austin in Horslow Street where he lived until he passed away on 16th March 1666.
John was a fairly well off man and in 1655 at the age of 28 he is recorded as having paid Hearth Tax of 1s 0d to the Poor Rate, which made him one of the top payers in the town.  In 1656 he married a woman by the name of Elizabeth, her maiden name I’m unable to find but they lived in Johns house in Horslow Street where Elizabeth bore John a son whom they named John, after his father.  John’s son was born in February 1658 but died on 28th April 1658, the same day he was baptised and buried in St Mary the Virgin churchyard, Potton.  Elizabeth, Johns wife, died in February 1684 and again was buried in St Mary the Virgin churchyard on 16th February 1684.  John never remarried and spent the rest of his life in civil matters and helping the poor of the parish whilst continuing his business as a carpenter with his brother Francis.
John had 6 siblings, Dorothy born 1628 and who married Thomas Chichely on 2nd June 1661 in Potton, Alice born 1629 and who married William Edwards in 1661 in Potton, Ann born 1630 and was married 2nd Jun 1661 but no record of her husbands name can be found.  Then came the twins Grace and Martha who were both baptised on 5th Jan 1632 but Martha died and was buried on 8th Jan 1632 and her sister Grace was buried on 10th Jan 1632.  The next to be born was Thomas born 1634 and he married Elizabeth Kefford on 5th Feb 1656 in Potton and last of all was Francis born 1636 and he married a woman named Ann (no record of her maiden name) in 1669 again in Potton,  Francis is my direct descendant.
John was a prominent person within the parish and was elected to the position of Overseer for the poor of the Parish of Potton.  Overseers were chosen from prominent men of the town, usually of Yeoman or Master Craftsman class and above.  Two men served at any one time for a period of one year and it was the job of the Overseer to collect the Poor Rate and distribute it to the needy.  Elizabeth 1 introduced this system locally as the poor became more desperate and destitute.  
John died on 12 Jun 1687 and is buried In St Mary the Virgin, Potton, in a very prominent position, just outside the church main doors where his headstone still stands to this day, although extremely hard to read, it says        ” Here lieth the Body of John Snitch who departed this life June ye 12 1687  He gave one Hundred Pounds the Interest of which is to put out Poor Children Apprentice Born in ye Parish of Potton”.  There is another reference to his status recorded in the Burial Register which states “1687 June 13 Jn Snitch carpenter ‘who gave an hundred pound to use of the poor of Potton”, this is an unusual entry as only the date and name of the person is usually mentioned.  
In Johns Will he left a great deal of his property to John , his brother Francis son.  This included a house and close upon the manor of Potton, a freehold estate in Horslow Street with outhouses, edifices, barns, stables, yards, orchards and gardens.  A pightel of pasture copyhold upon the manor of Potton Burdett’s, a leasehold close, leasehold cottage and close.  This is a lot of property for one man to hold at this period of time and John was a very lucky man to end up having his uncle pass it on to him in his will.  He must have been a favourite of John so it is understandable seeing as he had none of his own family surviving.  John also left £100 to set up a charity to be used to sponsor young apprentices of the parish.  This money helped to purchase “Harvey’s Land” in 1699 for £220 by the Church Wardens and Overseers and the profits were to be used in the way he wanted.  Inside the church is a plaque mounted on the wall dedicated to John Snitch. 

The wording on the plaque reads, “John Snitch late of this Parish gave One Hundred Pounds to be put out at interest June the twelfth One Thousand Six Hundred & Eighty Seven The interest thereof to put out poor children born in this parish of Potton Prentice”

There is a document which states:  By Indenture of Conveyance bearing date 29th & 30th July 1699.  One Jacob Harvey (for the consideration of the sum of £220 raised & paid as hereinasfor is set forth) Conveys the Freehold Lands and Covenants To Surrender the Copyhold Lands hereinasfor particularly mentioned To certain parishioners of Potton.  For accomplishing which purchase the Deed of Release sets forth:

£100  – That John Snitch had by his Will given £100, to be laid out in lands
£40    – That John Burgoyne Esq., has given £40 to be laid out and the product paid yearly to the poor people
£10    – That Thomas Bromsall had given £10 for the like purpose
£10    – That John Bromsall had given £10 for the like purpose
£10    – That Edmund Halfhyde had given £10 for the like
£10    – That Thos Halfhyde son of said Edmund had given £10 for the like
£5      – That William Spincks had in his lifetime given £5 more for the like
£20    – Which Sums not being found sufficient £20 part of the product of the said Legacy of £100 was made use
             of & paid towards said purchase
£15    – And that £15 more was lent by Richard Lee Gent
£220  Which altogether completed the sum £220 which was the purchase for the premises.
For which sum said Harvey Conveyed to said Trustees.   All those lands in Potton containing — Estimation 24 Acres more or less.   And all those other lands of ditto — 7 Acres and half.  And all those two Acres of Meadow in Potton  —  all Freehold

To hold to the said Trustees to those particular uses viz.

That the said Trustees should out of the Rents of the Lands so purchased receive annually such aproportionable part as the said £120 of John Snitch’s money should come to or be the proceeds of the said purchase, for the satisfying and fulfilling of the desires & bequests in the Will of John Snitch mentioned, and afterwards pay the residue of the said Rents of said lands to the several Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Potton, or permit or suffer the said Overseers to take and receive the same, to be by them for ever bestowed the laid out for the succour benefit and relief of the said poor for the time being.  Subject that Mr Lee in the first place should receive the Rents till he was paid the said £15 and Interest and all charges about the deeds.  And that Mr Harvey covenanted to surrender, all those 5 Acres of Customary Lands, and also 2 Acres & half more of ditto. Holden of the Manors of Potton Muchmanured & Potton Regis Copyhold to one of the Trustees for the uses and purposes aforesaid.

There is also many other mentions of the Snitch’s Charity one being that a decision that the Town Lands rents would be shared in the proportions of 6/13 to Snitch’s Charity (apprenticeships) and 7/13 to the poor. but the accounts for April 23rd 1840 show that once again the poor were deprived of their benefits.  

it goes on to say:

Catlin Johnson one years rent due Michaelmas last    £47
To the poor                                                          £ 6. 13.  9 1/2
To Snitch’s Charity                                            £21. 8. 10 1/2
To expenses of meeting                                    £ 0.10. 8
Expenses of appointment of new Trustees  £18. 6. 8

Another mention of Snitch’s Charity.
William Potters Will (Charity), after specific payments was to be distributed by the Vicar, Churchwardens and Constables of Potton amongst the poor people.  An entry in the Churchwardens Books shows that some misdirection of charity money had taken place as follows:
April 12th 1787  The monies arising from the Estate (Potters) are to keep it in repair and the remainder to be applied by the vicar, Churchwardens and Constables to the poor, but the sum of £28. 13s. 10 1/2d which was to have put out Boys Apprentices being applied for the repairing of Potters House by mistake.  The net rents and profits out of this estate are to be annually paid to the Trustees of Snitch’s Charity till above some of              £28. 13s. 10 1/2d is repaid.  The reallocation of the funds however was not completed until 1795 as follows:  
1788   £ 7. 1. 0  1/2
1789   £ 6.17. 0 1/2
1790   Nil
1791   £ 0.18.10
1792   Nil
1793   £ 2. 6. 7
1794   £ 4.10. 0
1795  £ 6.17. 0 1/2 

There are few early local references to Snitch’s Charity and the putting out of Apprentice Boys but the are documents in Bedford Records Office which give some of the ways the charity was administered.  According to a document dated 24th June 1717, Richard Richardson was apprenticed to his father Richard Richardson, a basket maker for seven years, £6 to be paid out of Charity money left by John Snitch.  Rules were laid out as to the apprentice behaviour, he had to remain unmarried during his term of service and not play cards or frequent dice tables. The Master had to, allow unto his said apprentice during the term good sufficient meals, washing, lodging and all manner of apparel, and at the end and expiration of the said term shall and will make, provide, allow and deliver unto the said apprentice, Double apparel of allsorts, a good new shirt for Holy days and another for the working days.
The document was signed in the presence of John Atkinson, Geo Pedley, Thos Ward, Thos Hankin and Jasper Drydall, the latter being a Justice of the Peace.
Another example was:  Thomas Miller carpenter was offered £4 to be paid in two instalments on behalf of his apprentice, William Brownby of Potton whom he undertook to train for seven years from 24th June 1719 and at the end of the term William Brownby was due to receive:  Good new suit of cloths, 2 apparel of all sorts viz coat, waistcoat, breeches, one hat, two cravats, three shirts, one pr of stockings, one pair of new shoes fit for one of his quality or position.

Some of the trades followed by the Snitch’s apprentices between 1750 and 1822 were: Glover, Butcher, Weaver, Tailor, Carpenter, Blacksmith, Bricklayer, Wheelwright, Cordwainer (shoemaker) Mat Maker, Stay Maker and Breech Maker.  The average period of service was for seven years and the fees ranging from £5 to £15

Details from Apprentice Indentures

Year Apprentice Master Trade
1717 Richard Richardson Richard Richardson, Potton (Father) Basket Maker
1719 William Brownby Thomas Miller Carpenter
1750 George Rawlins Philip Norman, Gamlingay Glover
1761 William FitzJohn John Giles, Potton Tailor
1761 Nicholas Browne Henry Dennis, Blunham Butcher
1764 Nicholas Sparkes Richard Feery, St Neots Weaver
1766 Henry Street Joel Goodes, Huntingdon Tailor
1766 Thomas Seamer John Seamer (Uncle) Carpenter
1769 William Joseph Triplow, Gamlingay Tailor
1774 John Bimson Thomas Upchurch, St Neots Cordwainer
1777 Thomas Crawley Edward Crane, Wrestlingworth Carpenter
1780 John Rowney James Upchurch, St Neots Cordwainer
1781 Thomas Miller John Millard, St Neots Tailor
1789 John Dennis George Clifton, Gamlingay Mat Maker
1790 Richard Mace George King, St Neots Stay Maker
1791 Thomas Buckle George W Jacob of Mary Le Bone Lane, Middlesex Butcher
1793 Charles Cook Joseph Dean, Potton Tailor
1796 Thomas Marsom William Larkins, Stevenage Breeches Maker & Glover
1797 James Harris James Wilson, Gamlingay Wheelwright
1802 Samuel Brown Henry King, Eaton Socon Bricklayer
1814 Edward Johnson Joseph Keep, Girtford Tailor
1822 Lewis Stonebridge George Fowler, Caxton Cordwainer
1840 Amos Judge William Ellis, Wooton, Melborne Tailor
1841 William Russell John Wells ?
1842 Thomas H Goodman John Ibbott ?
  Amos Judge William Ellis, Wooton ?
1843 Thomas Tear James Rogers, Potton Cabinet Maker
  Thomas Boness Daniel Alcock, Surrey ?
  William Russell John Wells ?
1844 George Seamer John Giles, Potton Tailor
  Peter G Kay William Parrot, Potton Butcher
  Thomas Tear James Rogers ?
1845 German Wagstaff Daniel Norman, Potton Carpenter
  Thomas Boness Daniel Alcock ?
1846 Thomas Tear James Maddex, Gamlingay Blacksmith
  William Bentley George Emery, Gamlingay Shoemaker
  George Kay William Parrot ?
1847 William Simons James Bullock, Cambridge ?
  Thomas Goodman John Ibbitt ?
  Henry Keeling Richard Orpwood, Cambridge Watchmaker
1848 William Peacock George Emery, Gamlingay Shoemaker
  German Wagstaff Daniel Norman ?
  Thomas Tear James Maddox, Gamlingay ?
  William Peacock George Emery, Gamlingay ?
  Henry Keeling George Minett, Hertfordshire ?
1850 John Peters John Maulden, Stevenage ?
  Thomas Seamer William Parrot, Potton Butcher
  Thomas Wagstaff Goodgames & Shrosberry, Potton Drapers
1851 James Tear William Ibbott, Roxton ?
  James Fisher John Freer, Hampstead Road Grainer & Marbler
  William Richardson Eben Vickers, Biggleswade ?
1852 James Norman Daniel Norman, Potton Carpenter
  William Fisher John Freer ?
  Thomas Seamer William Parrott ?
1853 Obed Edom Brown Robert Phipps, Biggleswade Wheelwright
  John Peters John Maulden ?
  William Franklin David Brown, Potton Tailor
1854 James Norman Daniel Norman ?
  German Wagstaff Goodgames & Shrosberry. Potton Drapers
1855 George Peters Charles Bull ?
  Obed Edom Brown Robert Phipps, Biggleswade Wheelwright
1856 William Franklin David Brown, Potton Tailor
  George Peters Charles Bull ?
1857 Fred Norman William Pryor ?
  George Fisher Dodd & Peeling ?
1858 Thomas Carter William Wilson ?
1859 James Bartle David Brown, Potton Tailor
  Fred Norman William Pryor ?
  Thomas Carter William Wilson ?
  George Fisher Dodd & Peeling ?
1860 William Tear W. H. Attwood ?
  James Bartle David Brown, Potton Tailor
1861 D Norman David Brown, Potton Tailor
1862 William Tear Henry Attwood ?
  Samuel Norman David Brown, Potton Tailor
1863 James Piggott John Sarll, Gamlingay ?
1864 George Amey Emery ?
  S Brown ?, Warboys ?
1865 James Piggott John Sarll, Gamlingay ?
  Henry Manning Bell & Son, Cambridge Builder & Carpenter
  George Amey Emery ?
1866 Thomas Parkin ?, Warboys ?
  Walter G Compton ?, Woodford ?
1867 Henry Manning Bell & Son, Cambridge Builder & Carpenter
1868 Thomas B Kitchener J Sarll ?
1870 George P Croot Charles Peacock, Waterbeach Basketmaker
1872 John Parkin William Johnson ?
  George Croot Charles Peacock, Waterbeach Basketmaker
1873 Walter Giles Sam Deeble, Potton Tinman & Brazier
  Norman Cox ?
1875 John Parkin William Johnson ?
  Giles King ?
1876 John Edwards Maxwell, Bedford Draper
1877 Armsby Judge, Potton Watchmaker
  Arthur J Giles Samuel Woodman, Potton Carpenter & Joiner
  John Edwards James Maxwell ?
  William Bentley Robert Phipps, Biggleswade Wheelwright
  Thomas Seamer William Seamer, Potton Wheelwright
  John W Lee Samuel Woodman, Potton Carpenter & Joiner