3rd November 1704. Bountiful Anne.

The income of ‘First Fruits’ (Annates) and ‘Tenths’, a kind of tax, were first claimed by Pope Clement V, later to be appropriated after the Reformation by Henry VIII. The legislation was repealed under the Catholic Philip and Mary, but re-enacted by Queen Elizabeth.

By the reign of Queen Anne, Bishop Burnett of Salisbury noting the plight of the poor clergy was concerned enough to persuade the monarch to redistribute church income to help the smaller benefices.

Bronze Medallion showing Queen presenting charter to clergy.

Bronze Medallion showing Queen presenting the Bounty Charter to the clergy.

Thus it was Today in 1704 following the Statute for the Queen Anne Bounty (QAB), the monarch granted a Charter appointing the Corporation known as the ‘Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of the Poor Clergy’.

Envelope addressed to Queen Ann's Bounty

1839 envelope addressed to the Queen Ann’s Bounty

These clergy were given the Crown Revenues of the First Fruits and Tenths to form a perpetual fund for the Augmentation of Clergy with livings of less than £50 per annum and whose only income was from the Small Tithes.(1)

This was at a time when half of the livings in England were worth less than £80 yearly and 1,471 benefices had an income of less than £10 yearly.

The Church was essentially divided between extremely rich bishops, and land-owner clergy (squarsons) who had inherited Church Livings, and the poor vicars and curates.

Under the QAB parsons in small parishes could now make requests to the Church First Fruits Board. However the distribution was not as intended as many rich rectors were pluralists, leaving poor curates to run the parishes.

By the beginning of the 19thc reform was in the air, the great disparity in income was raised in a Commons debate in 1837 which revealed that amounts paid by the rich clergy to the Board of First Fruits didn’t reflect the true value of their revenues. (2)

At it largest the Archbishop of Canterbury for instance with a revenue of the enormous sum of £19,182 paid only £2682 and other rich clergy pro-rata. Thus a living in Chester Diocese which should have received £1070 only had £36.(3)

The Rev.Andrew Bloxam in Leicestershire, sent a submission to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that until 1839 he had received one payment as Vicar of Orton-on-the-Hill, but as a Mother Church had to support the ‘chapelry’ of Twycross without Augmentation.(4)

However the QAB revealed that Glebe Lands at Orton were rented out at £204-2 shillings when the parish was enclosed in 1782 when the land was assigned to the Vicar, and he did receive the Small Tithes: the lay rector would get the Large!

The message from the above is that the Established Church operates in the real world and is subject thus to its values.

(1) The QAB Fund was further regulated by subsequent statute on 1.4.1948 when the Governor and Treasurer was amalgamated with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, later the Church Commissioners.

(2) In the 1835 reforms equalised church endowments and revenues.

(3) Mr Baines MP failed in his bid for an Inquiry.

(4) There is no mention in QAB of his predecessor Wiiliam Paul as Vicar of Orton who was executed at Tyburn for being a Jacobite in 1716.


Ref: Records of the Office of QAB National Archives.




millbanksystems.com/first-fruits. HC Deb.May 1837. V38 cc 530-9.

simonmonksblog.com/Pic of medallion.

saleroom.com/Pic of envelope.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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