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).

Originally, the bounty was funded by the monies (annates – "first fruits" – the first year's income of a cleric newly appointed to a benefice) 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 £15-16,000.[1]: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) whose income 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 than 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.[1]:38–9

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.[1] :22In 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);[1]:24 by 1900 the Bounty was holding over £7m credited to various augmented livings.[1]: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.[1]: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.[1]:45

The Ecclesiastical Commission reported (1836) the following data on low-income livings:[2]

Annual income of living Less than £50 £50 - 100 £100 - £150 £150-£200
Number of livings 297 1,628 1,602 1,354

(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)[1]: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.[3]


The Queen Anne's Bounty Acts 1706 to 1870 is the collective title of the following Acts:[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Le Fanu, William Richard (1921). Queen Anne's bounty, a short account of its history and work. London: Macmillan. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "First Fruits". Hansard House of Commons Debates 38: cc530–9. 4 May 1837. Retrieved 17 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Church Commissioners". The Church Commissioners Measure 1947. Retrieved April 19, 2006. 
  4. ^ The Short Titles Act 1896, section 2(1) and Schedule 2

External links[edit]

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