History: Thomas White
Born in 1819, Thomas White was the son of John White who made a living in Bromsgrove as a fellmonger and leather maker. A fellmonger prepared animal skins and pelts for leather making.
When he left school at the age of 14, Thomas, with reluctance, went to work for his father in a job that had few prospects and which he considered to be dirty and distasteful. However at the age of 16 he obtained a situation with a well respected local entrepreneur, Captain John Adams. Captain Adams was the main distributor of revenue stamps (for the payment of stamp duty on legal and other formal documents) for the seven townships in the County of Worcestershire, He was also a manufacturer of extracted indigo (used in the dying of flax) having bought an old dye factory at the rear of the tumbledown Perry Hall, a site on which he built the house which later became the Perry Hall Hotel and more recently Housman Hall, a student residence.
Thomas’ enthusiasm and zeal brought him the goodwill of his employer, and four years later Captain Adams took him into partnership, the firm becoming Adams and White. When Captain Adams died in 1858 the business passed wholly into the hands of Thomas White and was further developed by him.
A generous benefactor, Thomas gave to the Parish Church where he was Church Warden and for many years a teacher in its Sunday School. In 1885, he subscribed to the tower of All Saints Church and later to the tower at Dodford Church. Other gifts were made to the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, Bromsgrove United Charities and Bromsgrove Cottage Hospital.
However, it was the Thomas White Cottage Homes which apparently gave him his greatest satisfaction and for which he is remembered today. The property and land comprising the Homes were conveyed to seven appointed trustees by a Deed of Gift at a gift cost of £11,000, a very substantial sum (the 2017 equivalent is £925,000). He also created a supplementary endowment to be paid during the donor’s lifetime and for a period after his death of £8,000 to be invested to produce £200 per annum.
The original terms of the Trust stated that the Homes were to be forever occupied by decayed gentlewomen or other females of small pecuniary means of the age of sixty upwards. The personal income of each occupant was to be not less than twenty pounds and not more than thirty five pounds per annum. This historic requirement has now, obviously, changed. Please refer to the section “The Charity” on this site for the up-to date position.