ONE OF THE CLASSICS OF UTOPIAN PHILANTHROPY

ID: 27173
575.00
The history of the rise and progress of the charitable foundations of Church-Langton:

HANBURY, William,, The history of the rise and progress of the charitable foundations of Church-Langton: together with the different deeds of trust of that establishment. London: printed for the benefit of the Charity; and sold by J. Dodsley , 1767.

8vo., (2) + 469 + (3)pp., including the final errata leaf (errata recto, advertisement verso), contemporary calf, ruled in gilt, raised bands and spine label, with some skilful repairs to the binding. A very good copy with the contemporary ownership signature of 'Tho[mas] Rudd>', enigmatically dated '1760' on title-page.

First edition.

'One of the classics of utopian philanthropy' [David Owen, English Philanthropy,1660-1960>, 1965, p.82]. The Reverend William Hanbury (1725-1778) of Church Langton in Leicestershire constructed philanthropic schemes which were 'imaginative to the point of fantasy' [Owen, op.cit.]. 'It would be hard to find a more utopian cluster of charitable schemes than those projected in the 1750's by the exuberant and eccentric rector, who proposed, through the magic instrumentality of compound interest, to equip his village with an amazing array of cultural and religious institutions. The basis of the parson's sanguine plan was his own enthusiasm for horticulture and his conviction that it could be made an instrument of social regeneration. .. In 1767, on the strength of success that was by no means spectacular, he cut loose with a series of deeds of trust, which take up more than half of his 450-page book on the Church Langton charities. These singular documents, suggesting a touch of paranoia, seem almost designed as blueprints for a fountain of eternal wealth and welfare. .. These deeds, more than a dozen of them, made over to trustees a part of the nursery and projected an assortment of charitable institutions - beef charities, a public library, picture gallery, printing office, and six professorships. Hanbury's method of financing his battery of good works is explained in a 'Final, or Explanatory Deed,' which can justly claim a place among the classics of utopian philanthropy. The rector, it appears, shared the current faith in the miraculous powers of compound interest, and he proposed to start on his major improvements only after it had demonstrated its beneficence. Nothing, in short, would be done until the resources of the charities were large enough to yield 10,000, and even then, he enjoined his trustees with what must seem excessive caution, they were to begin spending only after the income had reached 12,000. To say the least, Langtonians could not complain that their rector was a man of limited vision. It seems almost cruel to note the disparity between Hanbury's well-intentioned air-castles and the meager reality. Sixty years later, when a Brougham Commissioner visited Church Langton, he found the total income of the trusts to be 574, and the only part of the plan in actual operation was the beef charity for the poor. Still, this was not negligible, save when measured against the grandiose schemes of the founder, and by the late 1860's the 345 acres deeded by Hanbury were yielding nearly 900 annually. From the Hanbury trust had already come a free school for Church Langton, considerable sums for restoring parish churches, and a series of smaller miscellaneous benefactions. Eccentricity has often taken less productive forms than in the case of the hopeful Leicestershire clergyman.' [Owen, pp.81-83]