Charity in Chepstow: The Almshouse of Thomas Powis by John T. Hopkins Thomas Powis and His Will A time-honoured method of ensuring respectability on earth and acceptability in heaven, at least for wealthy citizens, was to leave behind physical evidence of one's charitable nature. The Reformation abolished the concept of the chantry chapel. Good protestants found the endow- ment of almshouses a sound alternative. Little is known about the founder of the Powis Almshouse. He was probably born in 1675 in Chepstow-his baptism is recorded in the parish register-to Grevill Powis, described in 1685 as a gentleman, who was possibly in army service. Bradney conjectures that he may have been connected with the castle garrison. Thomas eventually lived and worked in Enfield, Middlesex, as a vintner. In his last days he must have thought with some affection of Chepstow. His will, dated April, 1716, endowed with fl,800 an almshouse for twelve poor men and women. After the construction of this hospice, the interest on the remainder was to be spent on clothing the inmates in grey garments and providing them with food and other necessaries, including a weekly allowance. The will desired the executors to ensure that the gift "be justly and truly settled and disposed of according to the true intent and meaning" therein. In fact, the will was not immediately effected by two of Powis' executors, Edward Pawlin, a linen draper of London, and Richard Hastler, a gentleman of Chertsey in Surrey and Pawlin's cousin, despite the proving of it at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in June, 1716. The following year the Attorney-General dealt with a case brought against the executors by Thomas Chest, vicar of Chepstow, John Gosling, churchwarden and Francis Giles, overseer of the poor. It was ordered in 1718 that the endowment money be delivered to Sir Thomas Gery, a Master of the Court, who was then to arrange "a convenient purchase offer In the meantime, the fl,800 was to be invested in securities (which eventually included India Bonds or South Sea annuities). A year later, Sir Thomas Gery appointed the first trustees to elect the inmates. The executors of the will were appointed trustees by Gery, according to Powis' wishes. One can only wonder why the executors chosen to effect the will had finally to be compelled by a court action brought by the officials of Chepstow. In fact, the legal ambiguity of the will continued to cause difficulties. As late as 1829, the minute book records, "there being a difference of opinion among the trustees on the construction of the decree of the Master of the Rolls (1717) as to the Objects of the