Established 1621

About us

The Charity of William Williams
A grant making Charity established in 1621


Structure, Governance and Management

Objectives and Activities for the public benefit



In 1621 William Williams left a sum of £3000 which at that time produced an annual income of £140.  This money was to be spent on two poor boys in rotation from the three towns of Blandford Forum, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. At that time the boys were selected on the advice of the Bailiff or Chief Officer of the said towns and were either fatherless or had a father without means to maintain them.  The boys were bound into apprenticeships to fishermen, masters of ships or boats.  Two suits of apparel were provided namely two pairs of cloth breeches, two pairs of stockings, two cloth jerkins, two pairs of shoes and one Monmouth cap.  After the said boys had finished their apprenticeships the aim of the Charity was to place them in work “ so as to keep them from idleness”.

William Williams was a Dorset Merchant and during his lifetime many young men (orphaned and pauper children) were apprenticed in the above manner.  At that time over 500 ships were leaving the ports of Poole, Weymouth, Bridport and Swanage and thousands of Dorset people were employed.

Structure, Governance and Management

The Charity of William Williams  is an unincorporated Charity which is governed by a Charity Scheme dated December 1968, as amended in June 1993. The Charity was originally founded in 1621 by the Will of Mr William Williams, a merchant from Blandford.

The Charity does not actively fundraise and seeks to continue its philanthropic work desired by the donor through careful management of its existing resources.

The Board of Trustees comprises of three nominative Trustees who are appointed for a period of four years. One each is appointed by Blandford Forum Town Council, Shaftesbury Town Council and Sturminster Newton Town Council. Five further "co-opted" Trustees are appointed for a term of five years. All "co-opted" Trustees are eligible for re-appointment at the end of their term.

The appointment of "co-opted" Trustees is by Resolution of the Board passed at a Special Meeting.

The Trustees meet regularly, at least four times a year, to discuss grant applications, monitor investment income and associated property repairs, reserves and risk management policy. The day to administration of grants and general administration is delegated to the Clerk to the Trustees.

In the event of a "co-opted" Trustee retiring, the Board will set up a sub-committee to ascertain the required skills mix needed to replace the exiting Trustee and enhance the Trustee's knowledge base. New Trustees may be sought by open advertisements or by Trustees approaching likely candidates with in the area. A shortlist is drawn up of likely candidates who are invited before a full committee who make the iltimate appointment.

Objectives and Activities for the public benefit

The object of the Charity is to apply income received to relieve either generally, or individually, persons resident in the area of benefit (being the ancient parishes of Blandford, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton) who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress. In addition, to assist persons in or entering any trade or profession.

This is achieved by making grants of money or providing or paying for items, services or facilities calculated to help such persons. This is achieved by inviting applications from individuals or organisations within the area of benefit in relation to the specific requirements as falling within the Charity's stated objectives.