Today I received a scan of the admission papers of John Smyth (who I believe to be my 4th great grandfather) into Greenwich Hospital School.

The first page reads (with handwritten parts italicized):

THESE are to Certify, That John Smyth Son of Jeremiah Smyth Mariner, by Mary his Wife, of the Parish of St Botolph Aldgate in the County of Middlesex is a real Object of Charity. In Witness whereof we the under-written Minister and Church-Wardens of the said Parish have hereunto set our Hands, this Third Day of February Anno 1753.

What might someone being a "real Object of Charity" indicate about their circumstances? John was aged 11 (almost 12) at the time.

1 Answer 1


A 'real Object of Charity' was somebody who was "blameless" (or whose parents were "blameless") in spite of needing charity. The specific form of words seems to have been widely used since at least the mid 18th century.

From The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803: Volume 9 dated 1811:

For this reason, great care ought to be taken not to give any men hopes of being supported in old age or sickness, or of having their children educated for them, or their friends relieved, unless they can shew, that by some misfortune they were rendered incapable of making any provision for those necessities by their own industry and frugality; for wherever a man neglects to do so, when it is in his power, he never can be a real object of charity, he deserves to suffer, and the public good requires he should, in order to be an example and a terror to others.

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