Colston, Edward

, a person ever memorable for his benefactions and charities, was the eldest son of William Colston, esq. an eminent Spanish merchant in Bristol, and born in that city Nov. 2, 1636. He was brought up to trade, and resided some time in Spain with his brothers, two of whom were inhumanly murdered there by assassins*. He inherited a handsome fortune from his parents, which received continual additions from the fortunes of his brethren; all of whom, though numerous, he survived. This family substance he increased immensely by trade; and having no near relations, he disposed qf a great part of it in acts of charity and beneficence. In 1691 he built upon his own ground, at the charge of about 2500l. St. Michael’shilL alms-houses in Bristol; and endowed them with lands, of the yearly rent of 282 J. 3s. 4</. The same year he gave houses and lands, without Temple-gate in that city, to the society of merchants for ever, towards the maintenance of six poor old decayed sailors, to the yearly value of 24l. In 1696 he purchased a piece of ground in Temple-street in the same city, and built at his own charge a school and dwelling-house for a master, to instruct forty boys, who are also to be clothed, instructed in writing, arithmetic, and the church-catechism. The estate given for this cbarity amounted to 80l. yearly, clear of all charges. In 1702 he gave 500l. towards rebuilding queen Elizabeth’s hospital on the College-green in Bristol; and for the clothing and educating of six boys there, appropriated an

* There is a tradition, that when Mr. them safe home, they would wipe off

Colston and his two brothers were in that aspersion. Upon which, two of

Spain, in their disputes with the Papists them were poisoned, to prevent their

it was often objected to them, " That return; but their elder brother, Mr.

the reformed religion produced no ex- Edward Colston, escaped. Such is the

amples of great and charitable bene- tradition but it is more certain, that

factions;" to which they were wont to one or both of them, were assassinated

reply, that if it pleased God to bring by bandittis or bravoes. | estate of 60l. a year, clear of charges, besides lOl. for placing out the boys apprentices. In 1708 he settled his great benefaction of the hospital of St. Augustine in Bristol, consisting of a master, two ushers, and one hundred boys; for the maintenance of which boys, he gave an estate of 138l. 155. 6fd. a year. The charge of first setting up this hospital, and making it convenient for the purpose, amounted, it is said, to about 11,000l. He gave also 6l. yearly to the minister of All- Saints in Bristol, for reading prayers every Monday and Tuesday morning throughout the year, and I/, a year to the clerk and sexton: also 6l. a year for ever, for a monthly sermon and prayers to the prisoners in Newgate there; and 20l. yearly for ever to the clergy beneficed in that city, for preaching fourteen sermons in the time of Lent, on subjects appointed by himself. The subjects are these the Lent fast against atheism and infidelity the catholic church the excellence of the church of England the powers of the church baptism confirmation confession and absolution the errors of the church of Rome; enthusiasm and superstition restitution frequenting the divine service frequent communion the passion of our blessed Saviour. He bestowed, lastly, upwards of 2000l. in occasional charities and benefactions to churches and charity-schools, all within the city of Bristol. Beyond that city his benefactions were equally liberal. He gave 6000l. for the augmentation of sixty small livings, on the following terms: Any living that was entitled to queen Anne’s bounty might have this too, on condition that every parish, which did receive this, should be obliged to raise 100l. to be added to the lOOl. raised by Colston: and many livings have had the grant of this bounty. He gave to St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London 2000l. with which was purchased an estate of 100l. a year, which is settled on that hospital and he left to the same, by will, 500l. To Christ’s hospital, at several times, 1000l. and 1000l. more by will. To the hospitals of St. Thomas and Bethlehem 500l. each. To the workhouse without Bishopsgate, 2001. To the society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts, 300l. He built an almshouse for six poor people at Shene in Surry, and left very handsome legacies to Mortlake in the same county, where he died: viz. 45l. yearly, to be continued for twelve years after his death, for clothing and educating twelve boys and twelve girls in that place; and also 85l. he being so many | years old, to eighty- five poor men and women there, to each 1l. to be distributed at the time of his decease. He gave lOO/. per annum, to be continued for twelve years after his death, and to be distributed by the direction of his executors: either to place out every year ten boys apprentices, or to be given towards the setting up ten young tradesmen, to each 10l. He gave likewise to eighteen charity-schools in several parts of England, and to be continued to them for twelve years after his death, to each school yearly 5l. Finally, he gave towards building a church at Manchester in Lancashire 20l. and towards the building of a church at Tiverton in Devonshire 50l.

Besides these known and public benefactions, he gave away every year large sums in private charities, for many years together; and the preacher of his funeral sermon informs us, that these did not fall much short of his public. In all his charities, Colston seems to have possessed no small share of judgment; for, among other instances of it, he never gave any thing to common beggars, but he always ordered, that poor house-keepers, sick and decayed persons, should be sought out as the fittest objects of his charity. We must not forget to observe, that though charity was this gentleman’s shining virtue, yet he possessed other virtues in an eminent degree. He was a person of great temperance, meekness, evenness of temper, patience, and mortification. He always looked cheerful and pleasant, was of a peaceable and quiet disposition, and remarkably circumspect in all his actions. Some years before his decease, he retired from business, and came and Jived at London, and at Mortlake in Surry, where he had a country seat. Here he died Oct. 11, 1721, almost 85; and was buried in the church of All-saints, Bristol, where a monument is erected to his memory, on which are enumerated his public charities, mentioned in this article. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Harcourt, and printed at London the same year. 1


Biog. Brit, Funeral Sermon, 1721, 4to.