These charities were founded in the years 1717 and 1736 by Mr.
Henry Raine, who once carried on an extensive business as a brewer, in the
parish of St. George-in-the-East; and who in an extract from his will state
"that, whereas from a small beginning, it pleased Almighty God to raise him
to a plentiful fortune, he thought it his duty in gratitude to God, and
obedience to the precepts of Christianity, to settle part of his substance for
charitable uses." He, consequently, in the year 1717 built a commodious
School Room in Fawdon Fields, for the education and clothing of 50 boys and 50
girls, born in the parish of St. George only, who should be instructed in the
principles and duties of the Christian religion, as they were taught by the
Church of England, and such other useful learning as might be conducive to their
future welfare in life, providing for each boy, after continuing in the School
four years, an apprentice fee, to bind him to some useful trade.
At the expiration of nineteen years after founding the first School, his trade as a brewer still prospering, and having, from time to time, laid by certain sums of money, and kept himself, as he states, unmarried, for the purpose, he thought, further of adding to the necessities of the poor girls who were educated in the first School, by the establishment of an Hospital or Asylum, into which a certain number of these girls, after four years continuance in the School, should be elected, viz., ten in each year.
In the year 1736, this building was completed, near the old school, which is now called Mr. Raine's Asylum, governed by a Matron, and under the superintendence of forty-five Trustees, of which the Rector and Lecturer of the parish are always to be of the number; herein forty girls, chosen from the first school, are wholly maintained and taught, for four years, such services as may be considered sufficient to qualify them for the situation of decent and respectable servants. In the months of March and September in each year, ten girls, after completing their four years in the Asylum in these duties, are qualified as servants, and go to their respective places - well provided with suitable clothes and books - to which they may have been hired by previous application at the Asylum.
Still, the founder thinking that he had not fully carried out his plan to its full extent, and not willing to lose sight of the young women whose early lives had been spent under his protecting care, made a further provision for those who wished to accept his bounty on the terms which he thought most desirable and right; he consequently put by £ 4000, which was to accumulate until it produced the yearly value of £ 200, which sum was to become a marriage portion for two of the girls in every year, who, after attaining the age of 22 years, and producing certificates from their masters and mistresses of their good behaviour and industry during their six years servitude, should be eligible to obtain it, provided they wished to settle in life with some honest and industrious person as the majority of the Trustees should deem fit; who must be an inhabitant of the parish of St. George's in the East, or the neighbouring parishes of Wapping and Shadwell, and likewise a member of the Church of England.
The usual way of proceeding to obtain this sum is singular, and entirely the original plan of the founder. He appointed that six candidates only should at one time be available for obtaining the marriage portion; and if more than six at one time offered themselves to be admitted as candidates, it should be determined by an election amongst the Trustees, who should be allowed to contend. These arrangements being previously completed, on the 1st of May and the 26th of December in each year the choice is determined by lot. The ceremony begins and ends with certain appropriate hymns, being sung by the children. After singing the first hymn the six pieces of paper (if the number be six) are similarly rolled up and sealed, on one of which the sum of one hundred pounds is written, the others blanks. These are placed in a tin canister in the centre of the large room belonging to the Institution; and each girl in order of rotation is led by a Trustee to the canister to draw out one of the pieces of paper, and present it to the lady in the chair, for her to open it, and announce the contents.
On the 1st of May this year three candidates presented themselves - Mary Ann Pitman, Mary Ann Woods, and Lydia Pike; the two former had drawn twice before. Mary Ann Smith, who drew the prize on the 26th December last, was an exceedingly deserving girl, having gone through the schools with great credit, and kept her situation as a servant for upwards of seven years from the day of leaving the Institution, was married on the morning of the 1st of May to a young weaver of good character. The bride and bridegroom repair to the parish church at ten o'clock, and are there married in the presence of their friends, and remain until Divine service commences.
It is customary for the children belonging to Mr. Raine's Institution - viz., fifty boys and ninety girls - accompanied by the candidates who are going to draw for the marriage portion, to assemble at the Schools, and walk in procession to church, accompanied by the clergymen, the Chairman, C.B.Stuffield, Esq., the Trustees and Churchwardens, where, in the presence of the newly-married pair, and the assembled congregation, Divine service commences. After a discourse "On Diligence and Industry in our calling," agreeably to the Founder's will, to be preacher by the Lecturer, the Rev. W. Quekett, the Lecturer, in an appropriate address, presents to the bride her marriage portion of one hundred new sovereigns, usually put into a handsome bag, made by some young lady of the parish.
Immediately after the presentation, the whole company arise, and wish health and happiness to the newly-married pair. After another ode, No.4, sung by the children, the interesting ceremony concludes, which never fails of creating in every bosom a feeling of gratitude, satisfaction and pleasure. Many respectable inhabitants of the parish, who are now subscribers to the Charity, commenced their prospects in life with only the sum which this good man's liberality conferred upon them.
This interesting Charity owes its establishment entirely to Mr. Raine, and it was his intention to have founded it free from the assistance of any individual; but, unfortunately, such is not the case. The Trustees are obliged annually to appeal to the liberality of the parishioners, and a generous public, to enable them to supply a number of diligent and respectable domestics and thus keep up the number of forty girls - the original intention of the generous Founder.