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In 1781, Sir Trevor Corry, Baron of Poland died leaving significant wealth which was to be distributed according to his will. As part of his bequest, he directed that £3,000 would go towards those citizens of Newry who had found themselves in reduced circumstances. The Sir Trevor Corry Charity was set up to distribute this money and the original account book of the Charity is held in Newry and Mourne Museum. It serves as a unique source for the social history of Newry in the 19th century.

Print showing washer women in Trevor Hill c.1829 by T.M. Baynes. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Print showing washer women in Trevor Hill c.1829 by T.M. Baynes. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Born at Abbey Yard in Newry in 1724, Trevor Corry was the son of Isaac and Caezarea Corry. The Corry family were a well-established merchant family in Newry by the late 18th century. Sir Trevor became the British Consul in Danzig, Poland and from his commercial pursuits had acquired a large fortune by the time of his death. 

Trevor Corry’s Charity was established in 1823 and the fund was to be administered by his nephews, Smithson and Trevor Corry. The interest of the bequest was £20 3s 4d per month which was to be distributed among thirty-five recipients. 

The account book covers the period between 1823 and 1872 and provides details of the people who were in receipt of assistance. On December 23rd 1823 a total of 34 people were receiving assistance from the Charity including ten men and twenty-four women. The former occupations of the men included saddlers, shoemakers, barbers and carpenters. Many of the women were described as washerwomen, workwomen, servants and one lady, a Miss Keating, had kept a school.

Pages from the Corry Charity Book which record payments to Widow Edgar who had died and those made to Widow Rose Carroll. The page on the left states that Sarah Leary had been caught stealing from Mr Seymour Hill in May 1827 and, as a result, was struck off the list of Annuitants.  Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Pages from the Corry Charity Book which record payments to Widow Edgar who had died and those made to Widow Rose Carroll. The page on the left states that Sarah Leary had been caught stealing from Mr Seymour Hill in May 1827 and, as a result, was struck off the list of Annuitants. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

In order to be chosen to receive payments from the Corry Charity an individual had to be recommended by a person of standing in the town. These included businessmen such as Hugh Skeffington, a tanner from Boat Street, William Blackham, a book binder and stationer from Hill Street. Added to this list were clergymen such as the Rev. Daniel Bagot, the Curate of St. Patrick’s Church in Newry.

The written observations tell a little more about the stories behind these people, many were eligible for charity as they were aged and infirm, others were in poverty. For the most part people continued to receive financial help until they died. 

The Charity Book provides us with a glimpse into the extreme hardships that were faced in 19th century Newry. For example, Richard White from Boat Street, was described as having ‘lost the power of his limbs – aged - his father resided the latter of his days in Newry and had been servant to Dean Swift .’ This refers to the famous Jonathan Swift who was the author of the novel Gulliver’s Travels and Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin from 1713 until 1735. 

Regulations of the Sir Trevor Corry Charity taken from the Charity Book. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Regulations of the Sir Trevor Corry Charity taken from the Charity Book. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Annotations also refer to people migrating to Manchester, Liverpool, Scotland, and also further afield to America and Australia. The book also provides details such as dates of death of many people; this information may otherwise be lost as no headstones exist for those who could not afford them.

by Ken Abraham

Sir Trevor Corry’s memorial in St. Mary’s Parish Church records that he left £1000 in his will for the building of a new church and £3000 to the poor in Newry. Courtesy of William McAlpine
Sir Trevor Corry’s memorial in St. Mary’s Parish Church records that he left £1000 in his will for the building of a new church and £3000 to the poor in Newry. Courtesy of William McAlpine
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