12-18 January 1915: Putney Relief Fund

At the end of September, the Putney Relief Fund made its first payment, (see this post for details). Since then the numbers applying had dropped, the meeting on 14th January 1915 had 9 applications to deal with – considerably less than when the Fund first opened. One of the names was still the same, Alice Barham had originally been given some money until her sons in Canada could be contacted, but at the end of October she had to apply again and was being granted 2/6 per week. The Committee recommended that she contact her son at Salisbury but had been granting her a weekly allowance ever since. On 21st January this was suspended for the time being, her name does not re-appear in 1915 and there is no record as to why they stopped the allowance. Hopefully one of her family was able to help her or she managed to obtain work.

Other applicants had to find work, Mary Brown’s case had been adjourned from the previous week until the Committee heard from her employers – presumably to ensure that her hardship was due to the war. A workroom had been set up at the Wesleyan Central Hall in Tooting and employment was to be obtained for her there. One case, that of Mrs Featherstonehaugh, was eventually referred to the Central Committee for the borough and then to the Committee at Assington. Assington was presumably where the headquarters of the Prince of Wales Relief Fund was based. Interestingly, unlike all the other applicants, Mrs Featherstonehaugh is only ever referred to as such – all other applicants are referred to using both names – and she received more support than the majority, getting £1 a week whilst the most received by another applicant this week was 13s. Her full name was Emily Featherstonehaugh, she lived in Warwick Mansions on Lower Richmond Road and her husband Thomas was a commercial agent for silk. Full case details are not given in the minutes, so it is impossible to tell what caused difficulties for any of the applicants – it could be that business dried up due to the war, or that men who joined the Army were not able to send pay home immediately. The Committee was very clear that distress which was not caused by the war was not their responsibility, any applications which they deemed to fall in to that category were turned down.

The Putney Committee also reported on matters decided on by the Borough Executive Sub-Committee with other issues relating to who received money. The question over how to deal with men who had served for a short time then discharged from the Army as unfit was reported as having been referred up to the Central Committee for a decision. If applications from men who had been employed in hut building were received by the Ward Committees then they were recommended to refer the men to the Distress Committee as relief works were being opened. The minutes do not say what the “hut building” was, nor do the minutes of the Executive Committee – although there were earlier notes of men being given work to do in clearing vacant land for cultivation. It is possible that the huts were for the 3rd London General Hospital, but there is no evidence to back that up.

Minutes of the Putney Ward Relief Fund, ref: MBW/2/32/3

Minutes of the Relief Fund Committee, ref: MBW/2/32/2