William Vawer Trust
In the Will of William Vawer, a native of Haverfordwest, dated 22 July 1607, bequeathed land and premises in Haverfordwest and the rent charge of No. 4 Welsh Back, Bristol, the profits of which were to provided eight pence a week to be given to ‘five poor decayed men being Burgesses’ aged 50 or over who were not known or reputed to be drunkards, adulterers, fornicators or persons of lewd life. They were provided with gowns of ‘black lowe cotton frize’ and had to attend the Mayor to and from Church every Sunday. The Mayor had to ‘appoint and procure a learned person’ to preach a sermon at St Marys Church on the fourth Sunday after the Priest of St James (25 July), to pay 5s. 8d. and to invite him and the 5 almsmen to dine with the Mayor who could charge the Charity 16d for ‘the procuring dinner’ and 8d each for the almsmen’s dinners. Since 1908 the ‘Black Coat Charity’ has been administered by Trustees and the Beneficiaries are ‘poor and decayed Freemen’, pensioners needed support.
In modern times the William Vawer Charity now provides assistance to the towns folk of Haverfordwest who finds themselves in challenging circumstances.
Portfield Recreation Committee
An Act of Parliament, entitled an ‘Act for dividing allotting and enclosing common and waste lands called Portfield otherwise Poorfield in the County of the Town of Haverfordwest’ reached the statute books in 1838. After reciting that the common contained by estimation 600 acres or thereabouts which were extra-parochial and not included within any Manor or Lordship. It stated that the Freemen of the Borough of Haverfordwest were, or claimed to be, entitled to the pasturage and to other rights of common in and upon the said land, and that, in fact, they had for a long time depastured their horses, cattle and sheep thereon.
The commissioner allotted to the Mayor, Alderman and Burgesses so much and such parts of the said common and waste land as include the present Racecourse and the area within the course and contained by admeasurement 85 acres 2 roods and 5 perches or thereabouts… to be for a place of recreation and exercise for the neighbouring population at their free will and pleasure … to be holden by and vested in the said Mayor Alderman and Burgesses for the purposes aforesaid for ever hereafter, and to be depastured by sheep but by sheep only at times of the year (except at such times as public races should be held upon the said Race Course). The Haverfordwest Borough Act of 1868 constituted a Committee of Management for the Racecourse comprising the Mayor, 4 members of the Borough Council and 5 of the Freemen’s Trustees, with power to enclose and to improve the land so as to make it more available for public enjoyment.
Finally, the commissioner allotted and awarded ‘unto the Trustees of the Freemen of the Borough and County of the Town of Haverfordwest for the benefit of the Freemen of the said Borough and their successors for ever, all the residue and remainder of the said land, containing 251 acres and 16 perches. The estate is managed by the Trustees, comprising 9 of the Freemen who are elected every 3 years by the Body of the Freemen. The income from the estate is distributed in equal shares to the Freemen by the Trustees.
R K Lucas & son are the clerk to the Portfield recreation Committee which is responsible for the management of the Lower Race Course in the Portfield area of Haverfordwest.