Rickmansworth. John Fotherley or Manor

Colin Wilson

The dedication stone now on the replacement building. The upper stone reads 'The stone below was taken from the old almshouses demolished .....' The lower stone reads 'Given by John Fotherley Esq. Lord of the Manor of Rickmersworth Anno Domi 1682'. April 2017
Colin Wilson
The current site of Fotherley's almshouse. Note the dedication stone just below the parapet. The extreme left of this image is the junction with Station Road. April 2017
Colin Wilson

John Fotherley had mortgaged his estates to King Charles I. After the restoration of the monarchy he regained his estate of the manor of Rickmansworth but not his money. In this respect he fared about the same as Sir John Harrison of Hertford, but did not make the same fortune as John Beresford of Rickmansworth. He lived at The Bury, which still exists and is now a health centre.

Even so, he arranged for almshouses for 5 poor widows to be built on the High Street in Rickmansworth in 1682. The buildings were plain, a series of single storey rooms with doors opening onto the road. A photo can be found in Rickmansworth, a Pictorial History, figs 63/4. He also settled an annuity of £10 a year on them.

Shortly before his death, he conveyed the almshouses to trustees by an indenture dated 18th April 1701, and charged his estate in the parish with an annual payment of £10, for keeping the houses in repair; the surplus was to be distributed among the residents. An extract from the grant of annuity notes that £10 a year was to be paid out of the messuage situated at the north gate of the church, a messuage situated at Scots Hill, a messuage with a close of 2a in the town of Rickmansworth, and the Market House of Rickmansworth. A later document indicates that the sum was paid, in equal proportions, by the lord of the manor and the owner of Rickmansworth Park. The residents also received some income from what was known as Howard’s Gift, from Elizabeth Harman’s will of 1899.

The right to nominate residents was vested in whoever was the Lord of the Manor. This is mentioned in newspaper sales notices from the period about 1857. In 1882 a newspaper noted that Mr Gilliat, the Lord of the Manor, had the sole right of presentation.

The almshouses continued in use for 250 years until they were demolished in 1932, So far no records about rebuilding have been found. The almshouse dedication stone is shown in photos. It was incorporated on the building which replaced them. This was a Woolworth’s store, then a supermarket after 1971. In April 2017 it was M&Co, a clothing store.

The Fotherley or Manor Almshouses Charity was later linked with the Rickmansworth Pensions Charities, but removed in 2001 as it ceased to exist. The Rickmansworth Pensions Charities was also removed in 2005 as the funds had been used up.

Newspaper reports are the usual ilk. Sales notices appear in the 1857 period. There are reports of teas provided by local worthies Mr McMurray, Mr Gilliatt and Rev. Northey. As happened with the Beresford almshouse, there was also a case of attempted fraud when a woman offered to obtain grants for the residents after they paid a fee.

There is a further query. An 1877 newspaper article about the Rickmansworth Philanthropic Society refers to 11 almswomen. The 4 Beresford and 5 Fotherley dwellings do not add up to this. Maybe there was multiple occupancy. At any rate the residents benefitted from the distribution of the funds.


94 – 102 High Street, Rickmansworth
Georef:      505882 194485
Grid Ref:   51o 38′ 22″N  0o 28′ 17″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire XLIII.8 (Rickmansworth Urban) pub 1898


Documents held at HALS

GH/1 Extract from the grant of annuity
GH/2 Extract from the will of John Fotherley, late of the Bury, Rickmansworth, (3 Feb 1702/3)
DE/X652/117 will of John Fotherley, late of the Bury, Rickmansworth, (3 Feb 1702/3)

Books and websites

History of Hertfordshire, by John Edwin Cussans
p 163
Originally published Stephen Austin & Sons 1870-81
Republished E P Publishing in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Library 1972

Rickmansworth A Pictorial History, by Adrienne and Christopher Jacques, pub Phillimore 1996
Rickmansworth Historical Society ISBN 1 86077 027 4
Fig 58 has 1935 image of High Street, showing [Woolworths], the site of Fotherley almshouse
Fig 63 has photo of Fotherley almshouse  c 1912.

The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed. William Page
Vol 2 p 386
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 (ISBN 0 7129 0476 X)
Available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol2/pp371-386

Britain in Old Photographs. Rickmansworth, Chorleywood & Croxley Green,
Edmund Parrott
Page 11 has 2 photos of Fotherley almshouses, (dated 1912 same as above) and 1902
pub Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd 1996 ISBN 0-7509-1086-0
Original photographs are in Three Rivers Trust Museum

Charity Commission
https://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithoutPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=229341&SubsidiaryNumber=0 is the Rickmansworth pensions Charity
https://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/Subsidiaries.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=229342&SubsidiaryNumber=1 is Fotherley Charity

Historic England
https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1173409 has details of The Bury

These can be accessed on-line at British Newspaper Archive at https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

The following all provide the same information about the manorial rights, including the right of nominating almswomen:
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser Tuesday 03 November 1857 Page: 1
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser Saturday 07 November 1857 Page: 1
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser Saturday 14 November 1857 Page: 1
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser Saturday 21 November 1857 Page: 1, 2
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser Tuesday 24 November 1857 Page: 1
Watford Observer Saturday 09 December 1882 Page: 4
John Gilliat. Esq., who now owns the Manor, has the sole right of presentation to the almshouses.

Watford Observer Saturday 17 September 1881 Page: 3 col 1
Mr. Gilliat provided tea and also provided transport.
Watford Observer Saturday 31 December 1881 Page: 3 Mr. McMurray provided Christmas food
Watford Observer Saturday 25 June 1892 Page: 4 Rev. A. E. and Mrs. Northey provided tea at the vicarage.
Watford Observer Saturday 10 November 1894 Page: 6 col 2 Attempted fraud
Herts Advertiser Saturday 03 March 1877 Page: 7, 8 mentions 11 almshouse women

This page was added on 16/08/2020.

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