Payouts from the Relief Fund

Compensating fire damage

The trustees of the Relief Fund had promised that funds “shall be impartially distributed ..without any Consideration but this alone, who is the greatest and most indigent Sufferer” (1743)

A 1751 Letter of Attorney regarding the former Mermaid Inn on Crediton High St refers to an ongoing court case regarding payments from the Fund:

“… by means of a dreadful fire which some years since happened in the town of Crediton in the County of Devon some houses were burnt down about which houses and others… a suit in equity hath been for some years pending … by charitable contributions for the benefit of the sufferers by the said fire and the sum of one hundred and sixty eight pounds of lawful money of Great Britain being ….for the benefit of the persons interested in the houses mentioned to be burnt down …”

As late as 1766, there were still some complaints about how the Fund had been distributed:

“It has, I believe, been for some years prevailing opinion in this, and perhaps, many other Parts of the Kingdom, that the sufferers by the dreadful fire which happened in the Town of Crediton in the year 1743, were more than indemnified for their respective losses by the generous and ample contributions which were sent them on that melancholy occasion from every Quarter, and that a very considerable sum still remains in the hands of the Trustees undisposed of” (1766)

As some put it, “‘More money has been poured into Kirton than Kirton was ever worth”

An external auditor was called in. He reported that, “The Damage sustained in that terrible Conflagration amounted to £49,950 and upwards, exclusive of the sum of £11,000, or thereabouts, which was insured on Houses and Goods; that the Benefactions, besides Cloaths, Corn, and other Provisions amounts to £13,421 – 11 ½ and that there had been paid to the several Sufferers at different Times, £13,287 –13 – 11 ¼, including the necessary expenses of publications, and other contingencies so that upon an average, the Sufferers did not receive quite 5s 6d in the Pound of their respective losses; some, however, receiving more, some less, some nothing, according to their circumstances” (1766)