How a 1666 bequest is helping the people of Weymouth & Portland today
PUBLISHED: 11:17 13 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:22 13 September 2016
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Gary Hepburn, Chairman of Weymouth Town Charities, reveals how a bequest by a London merchant in 1666, is still helping the people of Weymouth & Portland today
In 1666, Sir Samuel Mico, a London merchant who traded out of the port of Weymouth, died. Mico, who was born in 1610, had been a very successful business man. At the age of 23 he had been given Freedom of the City of London, and the London Directory described him as: “The Most Wealthy Inhabitants of London in 1640” when he was 30. In 1653 Mico was elected as the Alderman for the Ward of Farringdon Without. He became master of the Mercers’ Company in 1655 and stood for Parliament representing Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1660, but was pipped to the post by Sir William Penn.
Mico was mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary, and most significantly, was knighted Sir Samuel Mico on 18 March, 1665 as a thank you for helping the King Charles II with contributions towards paying off a debt of £100,000.
As a member of the Levant Company and East India Companies, Mico had traded in spices and silks for many years in the Middle and Far East. It was believed that he had fought off the Moorish pirates to keep the trade routes safe - hence the three moors heads on his family coat of arms.
When Mico was allocated the port of Weymouth he bought an inn on the harbour side - The George Inn - to stay in when he was in the port. He wrote his will on the 21st September 1665; possibly he was unwell at the time and suspected his days were numbered as he died early in 1666 and his will was proved on 22 May, 1666. This will shows the high regard he had for the local population of the port that he had plied his trade around the world.
Mico was impressed with how supportive and hard working the people of Weymouth & Melcombe Regis had been to him and left The George Inn and an amount of money in his will to the town. This was to pay a pension to “ten decayed seamen who had reached the age of 60 and to fund three apprentices”. He also decreed that on the Friday before Palm Sunday each year, the trustees and the beneficiaries should gather in the parish church, hear a sermon by a “good divine” (priest) and then retire for refreshments and for trustees to hear reports from the apprentices.
Today, some 350 years later, the trust now supports over 100 local youngsters each year with educational and developmental grants, with apprenticeships and scholarships. Every year the trustees and beneficiaries still have a service on the Friday before Palm Sunday in St Mary’s Church, and can be seen with the Mayor in full regalia and the ancient maces of the borough processing through the town.
To celebrate 350 years of Sir Samuel Mico’s bequest the trustees have unveiled a blue plaque on The George Inn on Weymouth Quay.
It is a real privilege serving as chairman of the Sir Samuel Mico Charities. This historic charity has been well managed over the centuries, which means we continue to be able to ensure Sir Samuel Mico’s wishes are achieved in the 21st century.
Find out more
To find out more about Sir Samuel Mico and the wider work of Weymouth Town Charities, including grants available, go to weymouthtowncharities.org.uk.
About Gary Hepburn
Gary, who runs a training and consultancy business, gives much of his time to charity and voluntary work and has been a trustee of Weymouth Town Charities for 26 years. He chairs the health education charity Life Education Wessex, is a national board member on Coram Life Education, a school governor, deputy district commissioner of Scouts for Weymouth & Portland and is churchwarden at his local church. Find out more about his work at hepburn.uk.net.