Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents HERBERT SPENCER TRUST (A41)

Correspondence and documents relating to the Court of Chancery decisions on the rights of beneficiaries and the winding up of the Trust. 1916-37.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), author of Social statics, 1850, Principles of psychology, 1855, The study of sociology, 1873-96, compiled data on different types of societies, entitled Descriptive sociology between 1867 and 1881. He set up a Trust under his will to apply the income for ‘fulfilling my express wishes, the publication of the existing parts of my Descriptive sociology and the compilation of the fresh parts thereof.’ These volumes were published between 1910-30. He stipulated that when this had been achieved, the Trustees should realise the whole of the residuary estate and divide the proceeds equally between twelve specified learned societies including the RAI; each was allotted £1241. In 1916 the Trustees were Sir Arthur Keith, FRS, Major Leonard Darwin, and Sir David Prain, FRS. See Executive Committee minutes, 9 June 1936, f. 126 recommendation that the legacy should be spent at ‘the rate of not more than £200 a year.’ Council gave its approval on 23 June, f. 286; and /5/6 below for the TLS article on the Trust and its work.

RWF    (Prof. Sir) Raymond Firth, FBA (1901-2002) later Prof. of Anthropology, University of London; RAI Hon. Secretary, 1936-9, President, 1953-5

AK        Sir Arthur Keith, FRS, FRCP (1866-1955), Master, Buckston Browne Research Farm, Royal College of Surgeons; RAI President, 1913-16

KMM    Miss K.M. Martindell, RAI Assistant Secretary

RWW    Robert Wood Williamson (1856-1932), author of The Mafulu Mountain peoples of New Guinea, 1912, The social and political systems of central Polynesia, 1924 etc.; RAI Hon. Treasurer, 1912-22

  1    Will of Herbert Spencer, dated 19 Jan. 1900 and codicil, dated 19 June 1903 (copy of holograph, with annotations by RWW, dated May 1925)

  2/    1916

  1    RWW to the Geological Society, 3 July – agrees with the proposal as to representation by the Geological Society and with the ‘other learned societies with identical interests’; is asking for a Council meeting to be called; suggests questions on legacies to be considered by the Trust’s solicitors, Messrs Scott, Bell & Co. (tpc., with annotations by RWW)

  2    RWW to AK, 3 July – encloses copy of letter to Geological Society; outlines views on application to the Court for instructions; suggests Council meeting should be called (tpc.)

  3    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWW, 20 Oct. – outlines Court’s decisions including the distribution of the surplus annual income (tp.)

  4    The Times Law Report, 19 Oct.

  5    RWW to Scott, Bell & Co., 24 Oct. – comments on accumulation of surplus income and its distribution (tpc.)

  6    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWW, 25 Oct. – distribution unlikely for ‘some considerable time’ (tp., annotated recto and verso by RWW)
 3/    1925

  1    The Times Law Report, 6 May – decisions include period of distribution had not arrived

  2    Note by RWW on the legal position, May 1925 (autogr.)

 4/    1935

  1    President [Herbert Spencer Harrison] to Scott, Bell & Co., 20 Sept. – thanks them for copy of a statement (tpc.)

  2    Scott, Bell & Co. to H.S. Harrison, 23 Sept. hopes to be able to send copy of Agreement soon (tp.)

  3    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWF, 19 Nov. – terms of the will outlined; work of the Trustees on publication of the Descriptive sociology volumes substantially completed; to continue the series would incur heavy loss and the dissipation of the residue of the estate; Trustees consider the proper course is to wind up the Trust by realising and dividing the assets; rather than invoking the powers of a Judge of the High Court, it is suggested the beneficiaries should agree to terminate the Trust in a Deed of Arrangement. 6 leaves(tp.)

  4    Deed of Arrangement and Release (printed) enclosed in /1 above

  5    Balance sheet of the Trust, 1 Nov. 1935 (tp.)

  6    RAI’s solicitors, Kimber Bull, Howland, Clappe, to RWF, 10 Dec. – sees no reason why the RAI should not be party to the Deed. 2 leaves (tp.)

  7    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWF, 13 Dec. – Deed approved by all the beneficiaries; documents will be sent in rotation to the twelve societies designated in the will; instructions given as to signatures. 2 leaves (tp.)

  8    Ibid., 16 Dec. – further details on signatures and the RAI’s common seal. 2 leaves (tp.)

  9    KMM to Scott, Bell & Co., 18 Dec. – as requested has sent two printed engrossments of the Deed to the Accountant of the Zoological Society; encloses form of Agreement that moneys received subject to the conditions imposed in the will, and solicitors’ account for professional charges relating to Deed of Arrangement (tpc.)

 10    Ibid., to Accountant of Zoological Society, 18 Dec. – forwards two copies of the Deed (tpc.)

 11    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWF, 20 Dec. – acknowledges RAI’s letter on sending documents to the Zoological Society for signature (tp.)

 12    Ibid., 30 Dec. – on deed and signatures required for the Agreement (tp.)

 5/    1936

  1    Kimber Bull, Howland, Clappe to KMM, 30 Mar. – thank her for letter of 27 Mar. (tp.)

  2    Scott, Bell & Co. to RWF, 3 Apr. – regret delay in the winding up of the Trusts; final distribution of revenue to the Societies not possible; in the meantime there will be a payment of £500 to each Society; adds that there will be no delay in bringing the Trust to a close (tp.)

  3    Ibid., 10 July – hope that a further payment may be made this month; ask for assurance that a senior official will be available to acknowledge receipt of cheque (tp.)

  4    Ibid., 20 July – enclose cheque for £400; further payment anticipated in a few weeks’ time (tp.)

  5    Ibid., 3 Nov. – notify final distribution of proceeds of residuary estate (tp.)

  6    Ibid., 9 Nov. – Kimber Bull, Howland, Clappe’s bill not included in the accounts; whole of the balance has been distributed; trusts the RAI will decide to pay the costs (tp.)

  7    Preliminary list of proposed purchases from the Herbert Spencer grant. 4 leaves (tp.) [there is no record in the Register of books presented, A32, or in the accessions register, A72 of these]

 6/    1937

  1    ‘The Herbert Spencer Trust’ by T.W. Hill, Secretary to the Trustees, Times Literary Supplement, No. 1827, 6 Feb. 1937, p. 90 [printed]