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Little Piece Of History Springs To Light



Whilst spring cleaning the James Lloyd Almshouses the Warden, Dee Flint, came across some very old papers – one, an extremely significant part of the history of the Trust!

The old papers Dee unearthed included the original Deed of the Almshouses, which gives an interesting insight into Elmira Lloyd’s original founding of the James Lloyd Trust. The Deed tells us James and Elmira Lloyd lived in Showell Green, which today is in Birmingham but, in the 1860s, was part of Worcestershire.

Following James’s death, in 1865, Elmira moved to Southfield House, Malvern and, in memory of her late husband, she decided to create an almshouse for needy single women, in Birmingham. She purchased several pieces of land, for investment purposes, most of which were built on and, in August 1866, acquired a little under half an acre in Hicks Street, Highgate, which no longer exists.

The James Lloyd Trust was created on 12th October 1869, and the construction of the almshouses quickly followed. In addition to the land, various other buildings were included. Elmira also gave £1000 as investment placed in shares in the London & North Western Railway Company and paid for the construction of the almshouses.

In Belgrave Road, Balsall Heath, the original almshouse development consisted of 12 four-roomed properties – each designed to accommodate two women – plus one four-roomed house, to be occupied by the Superintendent. There were also some outbuildings; presumably toilets, and a wash house.

Elmira charged no rent; on the contrary, she gave each occupant two shillings (20 pence) per week, and the Superintendent received four shillings per week – though the title ‘Superintendent’ was quickly changed to ‘Matron’.

The total number of residents was 25, and their selection is stipulated in the original Deed, which stated “residents must be a spinster or widow, over 60 years of age.” ‘Respectable’ is probably the term, but this is not used. Nor was it intended to take the very lowest in society.

Fairly standard Victorian values applied; “Preference shall be given to women who shall not be of the pauper class, nor wholly destitute but who, through misfortune or infirmity, are unable to earn a livelihood, or to subsist without charitable aid.”

The Deed also stated the almswomen can have any religious creed, but most certainly not the Roman Catholic faith. This is a slight twist on the rules which applied until relatively recently.

The original ‘house rules’ are reproduced below. Basically, if you did not create a nuisance or have an alcohol issue, you were there for life. The residents effectively occupied their homes under a licence, but were actually given the rather quaint title of “Tenants of Sufferance”.

The selection of Trustees is interesting; seven in total, three being ex-officio by virtue of their position.

Original Trustees

Elmira Lloyd                                     Southfield House, Malvern

Thomas Lloyd                                   The Priory, Warwick

Sampson Samuel Lloyd                      Moor Hall, Sutton Coldfield

George Braithwaite Lloyd                  Edgbaston

Samuel Lloyd                                   The Farm, Bordesley, Birmingham


The Revd. William Wilkinson – Rector of the Parish of St. Martin’s, in Birmingham.

The Hon. & Revd. Grantham Munton Yorke – Rector of St. Philip’s, in Birmingham.

The Revd. William Bradshaw Benison – Vicar of St. Paul’s Church, Balsall Heath, Nr. Birmingham.

The Deed also includes details of how the Trust could invest money, and set aside £25 per year for repairs and painting of the properties. The first change of Deed is also recorded, dated 21st May, 1889. A further £1000 was invested in the same railway company, and two of the ex-officio Trustees, were replaced.

Following the death of the Revd. Yorke, Henry Bond Bowlby became Rector of St. Philips and the Revd. Charles Chapman Murray-Browne replaced the Revd. Benison at St. Paul’s.

In 1928 the income from rents was about £160 and from stock £70. Part of the property was sold in 1938 for £610 and a sum of £400 of accumulated surplus income invested at the same time. The income was being fully expended on the maintenance of the almshouse in 1957.


To be observed by the inmates of the almshouses, not being the Superintendent, who is hereinafter referred to as the ‘Matron’.

  1. Each inmate shall, at her own expense, furnish her apartment in a suitable manner, and to the satisfaction of the Trustees.
  2. No inmate shall permit any other person to remain in her apartment during the night, without the special permission of the Trustees.
  3. Each inmate shall keep the apartment she occupies in a state of cleanliness and neatness, and the furniture in good condition, to the satisfaction of the Trustees. The Trustees and Matron shall have at all times free and unobstructed access to each set of apartments.
  4. Each inmate shall from time to time render such aid towards keeping the garden and other ground belonging to the houses neat, as shall be required by the Matron.
  5. The arrangement as to the use of the wash-houses and outhouses connected with each set of apartments shall be under the regulation of the Matron.
  6. No person shall be allowed to visit the inmates except between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning, and nine in the evening; and at the ringing of the half-past nine o’clock bell, all visitors shall leave the Almshouses.
  7. Any inmate who shall go out of the Almshouses with the intention of not returning the same day, shall give notice of such intention to the Matron, and state the number of days she intends to be absent.
  8. If any inmate shall neglect to conform to the foregoing Rules, or any of them, or shall disobey the orders of the Matron, or are guilty of intemperance or other misconduct, such inmate and her furniture may be immediately removed from her apartment by the Trustees, and she shall cease to be entitled to any benefit from the Charity.

 BY ORDER – Secretary – June 1870

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