Our founder, Richard Reeve, a successful silk merchant of the City of London, died on 31 August 1702 aged 62.
A liveryman of the great Merchant Taylors Company, and a lifelong bachelor, Richard left a very significant estate which forms the basis of the Foundation's finances today.
In his Will, after providing for funeral expenses, payments of debts and bequests to some of his wider family and friends, Richard decreed that his remaining estate should be used for charitable purposes. The Minister and Church Wardens of St. Sepulchre’s Church, Newgate, were entrusted with the bulk of his fortune, and the task of carrying out his wishes.
Richard Reeve’s Foundation was established in 1706 after a legal challenge to the Will by a disgruntled nephew was settled.
Richard’s estate consisted mainly of large amounts of money invested in the East India Company and the Bank of England, with some silver and lace. The Trustees of the new Foundation liquidated the assets and used the proceeds to buy freehold property.
Some of the freeholds they bought, in what is now London’s West End, are still held by the Foundation and these properties continue to provide income today.
Richard’s directions to the Minister and Church Wardens were that his assets should be used "for the education and maintenance of poor children of the parish of St. Sepulchre’s and bringing them up in the fear of God and putting them forth Apprentices for some calling for their future good and for the suppressing of vice and immorality...."
The area we cover (our 'Area of Benefit') has expanded far beyond the bounds of St. Sepulchre’s parish, encompassing the London boroughs of Islington and Camden as well as the City. But Richard Reeve’s original intentions are still the guiding principles for the grant-making by the Governors of the Foundation.