Law Report: Trusts to benefit whole borough: Peggs and others v Lamb and others - Chancery Division (Mr Justice Morritt), 12 March 1993.

The freemen of the ancient borough of Huntingdon did not have a statutory right to share equally between them all the income of the land, proceeds of sale and investments currently held by the trustees of the Huntingdon Commons Charity and the Lammas Rights Charity.

The original and charitably valid purpose of the two trusts was to benefit the inhabitants of Huntingdon; but because the number of qualifying freemen and widows had dwindled considerably a scheme should be directed, pursuant to section 13(1)(d) of the Charities Act 1960, to enlarge the class of beneficiaries to include all the borough's inhabitants.

Mr Justice Morritt so ruled on a summons brought by the trustees of the two charities, against representatives of the freemen and widows, and the Attorney General representing the interests of charity generally.

Timothy Lloyd QC and Malcolm Waters (Greenwoods, Peterborough) for the trustees; Hubert Picarda QC (Bates Wells & Braithwaite) for the freemen; James Munby QC and Peter Crampin (Treasury Solicitor) for the Attorney General.

MR JUSTICE MORRITT said the two charities, as registered under section 4 of the 1960 Act, had the objects of providing income or other benefits to the freemen and freemen's widows in Huntingdon. Each was presumed to arise from a grant to the ancient borough, subject to a trust or condition in favour of the freemen and widows, as exemplified in Goodman v Mayor of Saltash (1882) 7 AC 633, in order to give lawful origin to rights exercised from time immemorial. But the class of freemen now entitled to benefit had so reduced, and income from the proceeds of sale of charity property had so increased, that the annual benefit to a freeman was more than the Charity Commissioners considered to be consistent with the application of charitable funds. They suggested the trustees apply for a scheme to ensure income was only paid to freemen in need and the surplus applied to help the poor and sick of the borough.

The freemen claimed a statutory right to take equally between them the whole of the income of the trust property, pursuant to section 2 of the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The Act's purpose was to separate the freemen or burgesses from the corporation and to vest in the new corporation the property of the old while preserving certain rights of the freemen. Section 2 provided that the freemen 'shall have and enjoy. . .the same share and benefit. . .as he or she by any statute, charter, by-law, or custom in force at the time of passing this Act might or could have had, acquired, or enjoyed in case this Act had not been passed.'

The freemen argued that the evidence showed a long and consistent pattern of the freemen sharing equally between them the enjoyment of the land in specie and any income derived from it. This usage, even if only permissive before 1835, was converted into a statutory right by section 2. But his Lordship agreed with the Attorney General, that while section 2 made the rights enjoyed prior to 1835 actionable at law, it could not alter or enlarge them, or create a right where none had existed. Before 1835 the property was held on charitable trusts which the Act did not affect.

By 1835 the freemen's use and enjoyment had existed for over 600 years, so that a lawful origin ought to be presumed as at 1835 if it was reasonably possible to do so. For the reasons given by the House of Lords in the Saltash case, which were equally applicable in 1835, such lawful origin could only be found in a charitable trust.

His Lordship also rejected the freemen's submission that the purpose of the trusts was merely the provision of income and general benefits for individual freemen and their widows. The original purposes were general charitable purposes which were presumed to have been the purposes laid down in the Middle Ages. The class of freemen was then and for several centuries after an entirely suitable one by reference to which the charitable purposes should be laid down.

That was no longer so. The effect of the 1835 Act was to destroy the political importance of the freemen, thus undermining their social and economic importance too. Membership of the class was restricted and had since dwindled very considerably.

It was clear a case had been made out under section 13(1)(d) of the 1960 Act for a scheme to be directed, enlarging the class of persons benefitting so as to include the inhabitants of Huntingdon as a whole.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Researcher

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Head Porter / Concierge

£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks