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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/215-05

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1589-1982

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 74 production units.

Name of creator(s): Sir John Cass's Foundation


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir John Cass was born in Rosemary Lane, in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate, on 20 February 1660/1, son of Thomas and Martha Cass. Thomas Cass was a master carpenter at the Tower of London, but in 1665 the Cass family moved to Grove Street in Hackney and where Thomas acquired considerable land. John Cass was involved in Hackney affairs, becoming a select vestryman in 1699, but became wealthy as a City of London merchant. He was a colonel in the Orange Regiment of the City militia by 1707 and was elected as an MP for the City in 1710 and served until 1715. He was knighted in 1712. Cass was elected as Alderman for the Portsoken Ward three times in 1710, but was rejected by the Court of Aldermen for his Jacobite tendencies until 1711. He remained Alderman until his death in 1718 and served as Sheriff in 1711-12. His father had been master of the Carpenter's Company and he used the Company to enter City politics; he bought his way to the mastership in 1711 by paying 11 years quarterage and fines for the three subordinate offices he had not filled. In 1713 he transferred to the Skinners' Company (one of the great twelve which perhaps suggests Mayoral ambitions) and was master of that company in 1714. He was married to Elizabeth (perhaps nee Franklin), but they had no children. In 1709 he made a will which mentioned his intention to build a school for the poor children of the ward. This school was built in a room over the passage between the porch and south gate of St Botolph Aldgate and opened in 1710.

When John Cass made his first will in 1709 he endowed his intended school with his property in Althorne and West Tilbury, Essex and Bromley by Bow and Hackney, Middlesex. Thereafter he bought land in Poplar Marsh and Stepney, Middlesex, but he died in 1718 while signing his second will which added this land to the endowment. The land in Poplar and Stepney went to his heirs-at-law, but his widow Elizabeth maintained the school until her death in 1732. Thereafter Valentine Brewis, deputy of Portsoken Ward, had Cass's second will proved and kept the school until he died in 1738. The vestry of St Botolph Aldgate started a suit in Chancery in 1742, but it was only in 1748 that a Chancery scheme emerged for the charity and 21 trustees were appointed. The school was then re-established, in rooms above Aldgate. The charity's income derived largely from the rents of the lands left by Sir John Cass. In 1847 its annual income was 2,300; in 1868 5,300. The largest property holding was in South Hackney where in 1817 it was estimated to be c 87 acres around Grove Street, Well Street and Well Street Common. Another 13 acres at the south end of Grove Street lay in Bethnal Green and the trustees held c 50 acres in Hackney Marsh.

The income from estates increased in the later 19th century, particularly from the Hackney estate which was let on short building leases from 1846. The rising income led to pressure for reform of the charity, both from Hackney residents who wanted to establish another Cass school there, and from the Charity Commissioners. The trustees disliked the Commissioners' proposals and successfully resisted them until 1894 when a Charity Commission Scheme (approved in 1895) provided for the establishment of a Technical Institute. The Sir John Cass Technical Institute was built in Jewry Street and opened in 1902. The Charity Commissioners' scheme also reorganised the charity into a Foundation with governors replacing the trustees previously appointed for life. The scheme also led to the establishment of a Sir John Cass Hackney Technical Institute, at Cassland House, with three of the Foundation's governors on the Board. This institute was taken over by the London County Council in 1909. Various ward schools and St Botolph Aldgate Parochial School amalgamated with the Cass School at the beginning of the 20th century. The records of these schools prior to amalgamation were deposited with the Sir John Cass's Foundation archive.


Scope and content/abstract:

The records of the Foundation's estates comprise general estate records (Ms 31064-73) which include Hackney; deeds and papers of Mucking, West Tilbury and Althorne, Essex (Ms 31074-81 though the Foundation have retained earlier Althorne deeds); deeds of Wapping and Poplar Marsh (Ms 31082-3) and leases and papers of Cass School and Technical Institute premises (Ms 31084-97). There are further deeds (from 1442) and papers of the Hackney estate which remain uncatalogued at present (May 1997).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

CLC/215/MS31064 to MS31097.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The archive was deposited in Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section by the Foundation in 1995 (apart from Ms 19627-8). The records were catalogued by a member of the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: August to October 2010.

Charitable foundations | Charities | Charitable organisations | Associations | Organizations
Charity records | Documents | Information sources
Charity schools | Schools | Educational institutions
Educational charities | Charities | Charitable organisations | Associations | Organizations
Estate management | Land management | Land economics | Agricultural economics
Poor relief | Social welfare
Property ownership | Civil law | Legal systems | Law
Right to property | Civil and political rights | Human rights
Technical institutes | Institutes | Organizations
Title deeds | Deeds | Documents | Information sources
Property law x Right to property
Nonprofit organizations

Personal names

Corporate names
Sir John Cass's Foundation

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Essex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Hackney | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe