The Trustees Of The British Museum v White; 8 Jul 1826

References: [1826] EngR 1073, (1826) 2 Sim & St 594, (1826) 57 ER 473
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William White, deceased, devised a freehold estate to trustees, in trust to sell it, and pay the proceeds, together with his residuary personal estate, to the Trustees of the British Museum, to be by them employed for the benefit of that institution. The question was, whether this devise was void under the 9th Geo, 2d, c. 361.
It was argued that the British Museum is not a charitable Institution. It was founded by the munificence of the State for the benefit of the public. Every gift for the use of the publie is not, necessarily, a charity. There must be something in the nature of relief to constitute a charity. Gifts to support a public bridge, and for the repair of sea-banks, have, on that principle, been held to be charitable gifts.
So schools for learning have been held to be charitable institutions ; not so schools of art (Duke, 128). Now this is a school of art. Besides, the museum is national property ; and, for that reason, it was held in Thelluseon v Woodford (4 Ves. 227), that the devise to the King, for the use of the Sinking Fund, was good.
Held: Despite these arguments, the gift was for charitable purposes, though the gift then failed onder the 1736 Act.
Statutes: Mortmain Act 1736, Statute of Charitable Uses 1601
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