A Study of Philanthropy: the Charitable Account Books of Lord Overstone, 1844-1883

Sarah Flew (LSE)
18 January 2016

Samual Jones -Loyd, Lord Overstone (1796-1883) is an exemplar of nineteenth century philanthropy. He rose from a modest birth, as the son of a Welsh Unitarian minister, to become one of the most inlfuential bankers of the Victorian age. This study of his philanthropy, painstakingly recorded in four decades of charitable account books, give a nuanced picture of the man himself and the landscape of charitable causes across the mid nineteenth century. In this 40 year period, Overstone's over 2,900 charitable donations fall naturally into six domains: donations relating to religious causes (mainly but not exclusively relating to the Church of England); donations relating to welfare and educational causes (particularly relating to those hospitals where he was a committee members); donations relating to art and cultural causes; donations relating to specific geographic localities which he had an attachment; donations relating to domestic and international incidents or crises; and finally donations to individuals (which included staff, family and friends). This analysis highlights the complex nature of philanthropy and attempts to address that elusive concept of 'motive'.

Geographical area: 
History type: