The Story Behind Gill’s Charity

These cottages were built by a charity under the terms of the will of Henry Gill, dated March 23 1761- the object of the charity - ‘the actual support and maintenance for ever of 14 aged men decayed in their circumstances and that are not able to maintain themselves and that they have either been born in or inhabitants of the town and Parish of Carrickfergus from their youth’.

The will expressly stipulates that none are to be admitted to the charity at any time ‘but such men as, while they were able, were careful, industrious in following their several trades, occupations or callings, and were not inclined or given to idleness or drunkenness in their youthful days, or at any time after, and that they were remarkable for their inoffensiveness and good behaviour, and did not at any time from malicious wickedness, injure their neighbours or any others in their character or properties’ and also ‘that no common beggars, asking alms from house to house shall be admitted to the Charity’.

Readers may be interested to know that whilst the houses at Governor’s Place and a further terrace in Ellis Street were transferred to James Boucher Housing Association - now Oaklee Housing, the Charity continues to work. Local trustees, under Chairman Victor Harte and Secretary John Richardson JP, meet annually to dispense grants to bodies or organisations for the benefit of senior citizens in the Borough of Carrickfergus.

Secretary John Richardson said that “It is rewarding to the Board of Trustees that we are able to assist many organisations in Carrickfergus from a will of 250 years ago. “Indeed a will of a former Quartermaster of Carrickfergus Castle adds to the significance”. Applications are received in August for disbursement and invitations to apply are given in the local press.

Located at 13 Governor’s Place, Carrickfergus. The almhouses were built with finances from the will of Henry Gill in 1842 in the attractive Tudor style from designs by Charles Lanyon. Gill left £10.00 each per annum for 14 “aged men decayed in their circumstances provided they were not inclined to drunkenness and that they were remarkable for their inoffensiveness”.

The building was originally of brick but this was unsatisfactory and in 1851 it was decided to have it refaced with stone, cement and then paint. The James Butcher Housing Association extensively renovated them as old peoples dwellings in 1980. There is a second row of Gills Almshouses located in Ellis Street, Carrickfergus SA2539