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|Legacies and Funding|
It will be remembered that for many years the funds available for charitable purposes were derived entirely from contributions of members and friends. In time, a Reserve Fund was built up, until in 1908 it stood at £200. It increased to some extent up to the first World War, although we have no record of the exact amount, but the money donated to the various war efforts between 1914 and 1918 must have left very little in the bank. In 1917, the credit balance was down to £30, but had risen to £80 by 1920. However, a legacy of £500 left by David George on his death in 1918 must have lifted a great load of anxiety from the officers of the Association. Mr George, who was aged eighty-four at the time of his death, was a native of Wick, the youngest of the five sons of John George, the manager of the curing works owned by Mr Isaac Arrat. David and his brothers were born at Willowbank, Wick and through all their distinguished careers retained a great love for their native town. We already know of the crucial part played by his elder brother Hugh in the founding of the Association, and in being its first president. David, in common with three of his brothers, including Hugh, became a compositor, but early in life he sustained a spinal injury which left him subject to much suffering all through his life. In 1860, he went to London to undergo treatment from a famous specialist and thus improved so much that he was able to resume work. Another old member, one of the founders, Mr Larnach found him a place in the Bank of New South Wales in the City and in time he achieved the position of manager of the branch. He was the last surviving member of the family, but Wick folk will recall a Mr John George who had a stationer's business in Wick. Probably the two were members of the same family, cousins perhaps.
Although Mr George died in 1918, it is not until 1931 and 1932 that we read of the payments being made, £225 as the first instalment, then £44, and £100 as late as 1939. There is no reason given for this inexplicable delay, but there may have been a legal difficulty. As the money was received, it was invested in Consolidated Government Stocks, known colloquially as Consols. Up to 1929, the Association banked with the Mercantile Bank of India, probably initially through the good offices of James Sutherland, who was on the staff of the Bank, but in that year it was resolved that part of the Association's surplus funds on deposit in that bank should be invested in certain building societies, and the Abbey Road Building Society was finally chosen. Then it was discovered that building society shares were not recognised under the rules of the Association as a Trust investment. In July of 1931, the balance of the amount held in the Mercantile Bank of India was withdrawn and invested in 4.5% Consolidated Stocks. At the same time, power to sign and draw cheques was vested in any two of the three main office-bearers, viz. the President, the honorary treasurer and the honorary secretary.
In 1941, in the severe war conditions caused by enemy air raids, it was resolved that the Association's securities should be deposited with the Commercial Bank of Scotland for safe custody.
In February 1948, the Association received the Jane Cormack legacy of £50, to be used in the Benevolent Fund, which the Association now had, having resolved in 1947 that the Post Office Savings Bank account should be so designated.
It was however, in April 1952 that the bequest of the largest legacy of all was notified to the Association. A letter from the Trustee Manger of the Chartered Bank of India, China and Australia informed them that the residue of the estate of the late William Berriedale Sutherland was divisible on the death of the widow, among eight charitable institutions. One of which was the London Caithness Association, for its Benevolent Fund. Mr Sutherland had died in 1947 but the matter of his estate was still under review, and a copy of the Association minute designating the Post Office Savings Band Account as the Benevolent Fund, plus a copy of the rules had to be sent to the Trustee Manager. Shortly after, the latter was in a position to make an interim distribution, and the Association had the choice of receiving the net proceeds of £1000 3.5% Conversion Loan or alternatively the Bank would transfer the Stock to the Association. After consultation, the committee deemed it advisable to have the stock transferred. The President, Mr WJ Taylor, and the honorary treasurer Mr Smith Campbell duly signed the transfer deeds. The latter mentioned the possibility of a further capital sum to be forthcoming, also interest. Mr Taylor said that this was the largest legacy ever left to the Association. The honorary secretary was instructed to record the committee's deep appreciation of the munificence of the gift, which would go a long way towards swelling the funds of the Association that lay dormant and which provided a sure background to any such Association. They were extremely fortunate that the late Mr Sutherland, who had been so closely associated with its affairs in his lifetime, should have remembered the London Caithness Association so handsomely. Though the money had been left to the Benevolent Fund, the Association was not precluded from using the interest accruing, and that would be credited to the current account. The President further explained that though he had been handed the securities for the £1000 3.5% Conversion Loan, the position had not yet been finalised with regard to the ultimate amount of the bequest and the use to which the capital sum or the interest accruing from it, might be put. In February 1953, the Trustee Manager informed the President that a further £639.8 in 3% Savings Bonds was available to the Association and again the Committee decided that the stock should be transferred to their account. In the summer of the same year, Mr Taylor, referring to the disposal of the residue of the late Mr Sutherland's estate, reported to the committee that the Trustee Manager had experience some difficulty in settling two or three legacies enumerated in the will. The Trustee Manager had consulted the President about this, and it was felt that as the Association had already benefited substantially under the will, it would be in bad taste for the Association, as a residuary legatee, to put any obstacle in the Trustee's way in relation to the two or three legacies in question. As far as the Association was concerned, the Trustee had been authorised to proceed as he thought fit with regard to payment of these legacies, and he acknowledged the Association's help in the matter. Except in two cases, all the other societies concerned had given their assent to the same action. The committee confirmed its agreement to this course.
Later, Mr Smith Campbell raised the question of the use of the funds from the Benevolent account and asked whether any decision had been arrived at regarding the disbursement of such funds. After discussion, it was agreed that except for the annual subscription to the Royal Scottish Corporation and the Royal Caledonian Schools, no other expenditure should be debited to the Benevolent Fund account, pending a full discussion regarding the terms of payment of the legacies, which had been left to the Association, as related to the rules of the Association. Also that the question of an increase in the annual subscription to the Royal Caledonian Schools be considered at the annual general meeting. It was then resolved that the annual subscription to the schools should be increased from £5.5 to £10.10, as from 1954, and that a covenant for seven years be entered into with the Schools, guaranteeing that subscription so as to enable the Schools to recover Income Tax. It was agreed that the Association could now afford to make this increase from the interest it was now receiving from the various legacies.
In due course, on the proposal of Mr WJ Taylor, the Association's securities were lodged with the Lombard St. branch of the Commercial Bank of Scotland, and it was agreed that the receipt for the securities then lodged with the Bank should be in the possession of the honorary treasurer. Also, because of the power to draw cheques being vested in two of the three office-bearers, President, honorary treasurer and honorary secretary, it was resolved that the Bank must always be notified of any change of these, and also of any change of trustees. At the time of this account (May 1976) the trustees are Mr David Williamson, 29 Tower Hill Road, Thurso and Mr James Budge, Heatherbell, Gills, both in Caithness.
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