Aged virgins to lose out as odder charity pots merged

AGED virgins and widows of decayed burgesses must be thin on the ground on the streets of Aberdeen these days.

For their absence has left Aberdeen City Council in a quandary over the future of two charitable trusts, set up in their honour four centuries ago.

One fund, set up on Christmas Eve, 1634, to aid the "widows of burgesses and aged virgins" still has 732 in the pot, and another fund, established in 1659 for the benefit of "widows of decayed burgesses" still has a 5,732 available for distribution.

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Today the future of the ancient "mortifications" and another 39 charitable trusts where the funds available have fallen below the 20,000 mark will be decided by members of Aberdeen City Council's finance and resources committee.

The 41 funds have a combined net value of 131,695, and city council officials are recommending that they should all be amalgamated into a central fund to aid various deserving causes throughout the city.

The bizarre list of forgotten funds includes one established in 1829, for "sermons against cruelty to animals", which has 393 left. Another, set up in 1663 for the "poor of Footdee" has only 6 left in the bank, while a fund, established in 1718 to aid "persons deprived of the use of reason", has 5,418 in the pot.

Last September the council agreed to write to the Scottish Government to ascertain whether it would be possible for the council to wind up all charitable trusts with funds of less than 20,000.

Barry Jenkins, the council's head of finance, is recommending that the finance committee agree to amalgamate the 41 trusts into one charitable trust for the "benefit of the citizens of Aberdeen".

He said: "It is proposed that a new charitable trust be established with the elected members who are members of the Aberdeen City Council finance and resources committee as the trustees. The trust would be established for the benefit of the citizens of Aberdeen with its specific charitable purposes matching those of the existing charitable trusts which are to be transferred into it.

"Once the new charitable trust is established it will be necessary to submit a request to the Office of Scottish Charities Regulator to wind up each of the existing charitable trusts with assets below 20,000 and to transfer their assets to the new one."

Councillor Kevin Stewart, the committee's convener, said: "This money has just sat there for forever and a day, so it's best it's put to some good use."

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Mortifications were often used by the wealthy in 16th and 17th-century Aberdeen to leave funds to worthy local causes, guaranteeing that they would be administered in perpetuity by the city council.


• Widows of Burgesses and Aged Virgins, established 1634.

• Widows of Decayed Burgesses, established 1659.

• Provision of Coal to the Poor of the Parish of Newhills, established 1929.

• Persons Deprived of Reason, established 1718.

• Upholding the Bridge of Goval, established 1682.

• To provide a summer treat to inmates of Woodend Home (Glenburn Wing), established 1893.

• Poor deserving factory workers (a preference being given to former employees of Patrick Watson and Sons), established 1909.