Hatcliffe Charity

Hatcliffe Charity

The Hatcliffe Charity owns a Greenwich almshouse in Tuskar Street and has property holdings in the area with which to fund it. The exact identity of the founder, William Hatcliffe, is not clear but he seems to have been a courtier probably from Lincolnshire or East Anglia. Money was distributed to the poor of Greenwich by the charity for 250 years before the construction of the Tuskar Street almshouses in 1857.

The charity owned a portion of land along the Woolwich Road – and indeed still owns some of the shops east of the Ship and Billett.  Records of land deals before the 1980s have not survived but it appears that much of this land has been passed to the public authorities for building during the previous century.  This includes and episode in the 1970s when land was sold to a property speculator and subsequently compulsorily purchased.

1852 KM Hatcliffe rentals0001  – notice of properties available for letting. Kentish Mercury 1852

Breakdown ownership on tithe map

Notes from Mercers Company minutes

19/10/1877 some swaps with Hatcliffe charity

12/5/1880 lease to Smith and Gale. Armitage, Glenforth Roads, etc being laid out and passed to Hatcliffe

Notes on a number of different Hatcliffes:

“The family is of ancient lineage, taking its name from the estate of   Hatcliffe. The Hatcliffes were lords of the manor for many generations, becoming most prominent in the 15th and 16th centuries. William Hatteclyffe (1416-1480) was the member of the family who rose highest in office. In 1471 he was employed in the negotiations with James III of Scotland. In July 1476 William was ambassador to Christien of Denmark.

In 1518 another William Hateclyffe died in 1495 was appointed Under Treasurer of Ireland.  Another William Hatcliffe appears as Mayor of Grimsby,   He also sat for the borough in Parliament in 1525 ,  1529.

EFFIGY OF WILLIAM HATCLYF  William Hatclyf of Hatcliffe and Thoresway (d.1551) The stone in the floor of the vestry of Hatcliffe church shows the effigy of both William and his wife Anne. This left Thomas as the heir. Since he was still a minor he was declared a ward of the Queen,. He became one of the wealthiest magnates of the county.

TO BE MR. W.H.’ OR NOT TO BE MR. W.H.’  In September 1568 Thomas’s son and heir was born.  He was christened William on September 6 at St Mary’s Church, South Kelsey. Of this William much has been written. Dr. Leslie Hotson, in his book, “Mr. W.H.’ has investigated into the mystery of who the W.H. was mentioned in Thorpe’s dedication to Shakespeare’s sonnets. He has come to the conclusion that he was in fact William Hatcliffe son of Thomas and Judith. As a fellow-commoner of Jesus College, Cambridge, he ranked with the nobility.  On November 4 1586, at the age of 18 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn. It was here that he was to meet and become a friend of Shakespeare.

His  cousin – yet another William Hatcliffe – was Avener Royal, that is chief officer of King James`s Stables, in charge of provender.

A George Hatcliffe is buried in St.Mary’s Church, Lewisham


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