The Regency period was well supplied with charities needing financial support and volunteers. In 1823 there were more than fifty societies for "the relief of the distressed" listed in "The Annual Subscription Charities and Public Societies" publication.
The Philanthropic Society at Mile-End was one of those listed.
The monies collected and disbursed were significant. From February 1811 to February 1812, the Society held some 858 pounds. It disbursed, directly to those in need (mainly those leaving prison and their families), about 767 pounds. At the time of the report in The Philanthropist, the Society calculated that since its founding in 1803 it had aided just over 10,000 people.
The Investigator, a quarterly magazine, gave a picture of the society in 1820:
|Philanthropic Society Chapel from The Microcosm of London|
There was work to be done and help needed throughout all strata of society. The Victorians weren't the only ones to realize it. The good folk of the Regency, and their parents in the 18th century, were organizing assistance and donating their money well before Victoria took the throne.
Jane Austen knew it. So did Georgette Heyer. She had one of Regency fiction's most delightful philanthropists in her book The Nonesuch. Charity certainly has a place in Regency fiction.
'Til next time,