In 1672, the then Lord Middleton, Francis Willoughby, set up a charity to aid the workers on his Estate. This was enlarged in 1693 by a bequest from one Thomas Gorton and then further by a bequest from Thomas Willoughby in 1700.
One day a wealthy resident of the village of Arley, Samuel White, was passing through Middleton when he saw several poor children clothed in rags and obviously hungry. He gave them a few coins and continued his journey but he never forgot what he had seen. When he died in 1715 he made provision in his will for the needs of Middleton people. These needs were:
1. To hear the Word of God through the preaching of sermon on Whit Sunday
2. The poor children's need for bread
3. The poor people's need for pious books
4. The general need of the poor.
This last item was achieved by small grants of money known as 'doles'. In times of financial constraint, preference was always given to 'poor widows' and remarkably payments of 'doles' continued until the early 1970s. In order that this practice should continue indefinitely, he left a small property called Broome Close in Staffordshire to be rented out, the income to provide the Charities Capital.
A monument, featuring the busts of the White brothers, with an inscription detailing their provenance, is to be found in the Northwest corner of Middleton church.
In 1783, Georgina, Lady Middleton, started another charity principally concerned with the supply of pious books to the community and to help with education needs. In 1906, the six existing charities were rearranged into two Trusts relevant to their purpose.
Taking the educational part of the original Francis Willoughby and Georgina Willoughby Trusts and with an annual supporting grant from rent from lands left by Samuel White, MUFT was set up with the remit of providing for educational needs of the children of the Parish. Whilst the working capital and income was small compared to the Samuel White Trust, the Trust had limited beneficiaries, so managed with this income until the 1960s. In 1966 new Charity Commission regulations brought about a change in the way that the Foundation operated.
MIDDLETON UNITED FOUNDATION TRUST
Contact the Secretary Elaine Foulkes Tel. No 07702271341
Henceforth, the upper age limit was set at 25 years and applications were no longer tied to specific educational needs but could include work, social life and interests (hobbies etc). Recipients still had to live in the Parish.
A clerk is employed and applications are received at a number of closed meetings held throughout the year. An annual open meeting is held in May in order that the public can ask questions of the Trust.