Hitchin. James Carter
Starlings Bridge is just to the north of Bancroft in Hitchin. Maps suggest it is the name of the area, but there is still a road called Starlings Bridge, where the gas works was located.
James Carter was born in Hitchin. A common custom was for people to make some charitable provision for their native town. Cussans dates his will to 1625, but Clutterbuck and Latchmore cite the date as 1660. A search on the Ancestry website (June 2019) did not provide a conclusive answer. He provided for the rents of 2 leasehold tenements in Houndsditch, London, to be used for the benefit of the poor of the parish.
The rents were allowed to accumulate until the lease expired, when two tenements and about a rood of land were purchased at Starlings Bridge. This was in 1836, about 2 centuries after the original bequest. Clutterbuck, writing in the 1820s, notes that the lease had long since expired, so it does raise the question of what caused the delay. The inhabitants were nominated by the Churchwardens and Overseers.
A picture of the almshouse can be found in Latchmore’s book. It shows a 2 storey building, the upper level being timber frame with infill. The walls could hardly be described as straight. The image is certainly not of a new-build property, so maybe the trustees simply purchased a suitable old building.
There was no fund for repairs. My assumption is that the accumulated capital was used to purchase the property, but of course there were no more rents coming in following the expiry of the lease. Hence the building fell to ruin and was pulled down in 1871. In other words, accommodation was only provided for 35 years.
James Carter’s charity still exists as a linked charity of Hitchin United Charities, with a Charity Commission reference of 236308-3.
The modern road Starlings Bridge will provide an approximate location.
Georef: 578769 229784
Gridref: 51o 57’ 14”N 0o 16’ 24”W
The History & Antiquities of the County of Hertford, by Robert Clutterbuck
Printed by and for John Bowyer Nichols, 25 Parliament Street, London
vol 3 p54
History of Hertfordshire, by John Edwin Cussans
Originally published Stephen Austin & Sons 1870-81
Republished E P Publishing in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Library 1972
vol 2 87
Old Hitchin. Portrait of a Market Town, by T B Latchmore et al.
Eric Moore (Hitchin) and North Herts Museum 1976
(Site accessed June 2019)