Queen Anne's Bounty

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Queen Anne's Bounty was a scheme established in 1704 to augment the incomes of the poorer clergy of the Church of England, and by extension the organisation ("The Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy") which administered the bounty (and eventually a number of other forms of assistance to poor livings).


Original structure

The bounty was originally funded by the annates monies: "first fruits" (the first year's income of a cleric newly appointed to a benefice) [1] and "tenths" – a tenth of the income in subsequent years traditionally paid by English clergy to the pope until the Reformation, and thereafter to the Crown. Henry VIII, on becoming the recipient of these monies had had them carefully valued and specified as sums of money. This valuation was never revised, and in 1920 the income from First Fruits and Tenths was between £15,000 and £16,000. [2] :17

The bounty money was to be used to increase the income of livings yielding less than £80 a year. It was not paid directly to incumbents, but instead used to purchase land (generally £200-worth), the income from which augmented the living. The livings to be augmented were selected by lot from those with an annual income less than £10, or (in the early years of the bounty) those where augmentation by a third party was offered conditional upon augmentation by bounty funds. Parishes worth less than £20 a year were included in the ballot in 1747, those worth less than £30 a year in 1788, those under £50 in 1810. [2] :38–9

Later developments

Augmented parishes came to find it more convenient to not actually purchase land, but to leave the purchase money deposited with the bounty, who paid a guaranteed but moderate rate of interest. The money held by the bounty was invested at higher rates of interest, the difference between interest paid the bounty on their investments, and that paid by the bounty to parishes going to meet the running costs of the bounty and to increase the funds available for augmentation. [2] :22 In 1829 the purchase money deposited with the bounty amounted to over £1m, which was invested in bank annuities (financial instruments of fluctuating value, then worth over £1.3m); [2] :24 by 1900 the bounty was holding over £7m credited to various augmented livings. [2] :31

The original (first fruits and tenths) income and that from interest rate differences on money on deposit with the bounty, had by 1815 allowed the allocation of nearly £1.5m of capital (securing nearly £0.5m of third-party benefactions) to augment the income of 3,300 livings. [2] :43 To accelerate augmentation, between 1809 and 1820 Parliament made annual grants to the bounty of £100,000; £1.1m in total. As a result, by 1824 all livings under £30 a year had been augmented and there were funds in hand to permit the augmentation of all livings worth under £50 a year. By 1841, it was estimated, the operations of the bounty (discounting the effects of the Parliamentary grants of 1809-20) had secured additional church income over ten times that of the first fruits and tenths. [2] :45

The Ecclesiastical Commission reported (1836) the following data on low-income livings: [3]

Annual income of livingLess than £50£50 - 100£100 - £150£150-£200
Number of livings2971,6281,6021,354

(As a rough comparison, in Queen Anne's reign, 3,800 livings had been worth less than £50 a year and therefore excused (in perpetuity) payment of first fruits and tenths.) [2] :12

After 1836, bounty augmentations were generally to match third party benefactions to livings worth less than £200 a year. In 1890, the total amount distributed was £176,896.

On 2 April 1947, by the Church Commissioners Measure 1947, the functions and assets of Queen Anne's Bounty were merged with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to form the Church Commissioners. [4] The archives of Queen Anne's Bounty are now held by the Church of England Record Centre; specific documents may be consulted by appointment.

On 16 June 2022 the Church Commissioners published an interim report on research into links between Queen Anne's Bounty and the Atlantic slave trade. The report said that Queen Anne's Bounty had invested significant sums in the South Sea Company, which transported 34,000 slaves to the Spanish Americas in the 18th century, and had received benefactions from people with links to slavery, including Edward Colston. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, apologised for the links with slavery identified in the report. [5] [6] In January 2023 the Church Commissioners announced that they were setting up a fund of £100 million to be spent over the next nine years on addressing historic links with slavery. [7]


The Queen Anne's Bounty Acts 1706 to 1870 is the collective title of the following Acts: [8]

See also

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  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Annates"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 64.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Le Fanu, William Richard (1921). Queen Anne's bounty, a short account of its history and work. London: Macmillan. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. "First Fruits". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 38: cc530-9. 4 May 1837. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  4. "The Church Commissioners". The Church Commissioners Measure 1947. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2006.
  5. Sherwood, Harriet (16 June 2022). "C of E paid poor 18th-century clergy with 'abominable' slave trade funds". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  6. Williams, Hattie (16 June 2022). "Church Commissioners acknowledge that slave trade boosted early funds". Church Times . Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  7. "Church of England announces £100m fund after slavery links". BBC. 10 January 2023.
  8. The Short Titles Act 1896, section 2(1) and Schedule 2

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Wood, James, ed. (1907). "Queen Anne's Bounty". The Nuttall Encyclopædia . London and New York: Frederick Warne.