When Ralph Newbery made his will in 1603, he could not have foreseen that his bequest to the small Berkshire parish of Waltham St Lawrence would become so significant in the centuries to come.
He was born around 1535 in Waltham St Lawrence where members of his family had lived for many years. He grew up in the reign of Henry VIII, though Elizabeth I was on the throne when he left his native village to work in London. He was about 25 when he took over the book outlet of a late printer in Fleet Street and his printing and publishing business flourished – he became printer to Elizabeth I and published many important books (perhaps akin to today’s .com millionaires).
Among the many bequests in his long will was that of the house he owned near the Church in Waltham St Lawrence, conveyed ‘unto certain of the inhabitants of the parish of Lawrence Waltham and their heirs to the use of the poor of the same parish forever’. He had never lived there and at the time of his death it was rented for £3 per year by the Vicar.
The Newbery Charity has now been established over 400 years and the 6 current Trustees continue to carry out its founder’s wishes in the administration of the property.