In 1788, our founders, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini (below) and the Duchess of Cumberland, founded a school for the daughters of distressed Masons, “The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects”. A similar provision for boys was established in 1798.
Some time later it was realised that sending a poor child away to school was not always the best solution, so the trustees of the schools later began to give what they termed ‘Out Relief’ as well; this took the form of financial assistance to be used to support the child at the family home.
Over the next 200 years the Girls Institution and the Boys Institution grew larger and helped ever increasing numbers of Masonic children at their schools and, from time to time, they relocated to larger premises to accommodate the increases.
The move away from schools
In the 1970s, things began to change again. Fewer and fewer beneficiaries were being sent to our schools and even more were receiving support whilst living at home. Eventually, the Boys School at Bushey closed its doors and was sold.
The Girls’ School at Rickmansworth (above) was not sold but, by way of an endowment, was set up as a separate foundation.
The Royal Masonic School for Girls (RMS) is now an independent school for girls operating in the private sector. Despite our strong historical links with the RMS, our only current involvement with the school is to appoint a governor and girls supported by us continue to be guaranteed a place at the school should their circumstances deem it necessary.
Following the break from owning and running schools, the former Girls and Boys Institutions continued, but gradually they became considered to be too traditional and not in keeping with modern thinking on education and child welfare.
For example, the Girls Institution was, at that time, only able to assist legally adopted or legitimate daughters of Freemasons, thus preventing step-daughters or the daughters of unmarried Freemasons from benefiting.
In response the charity reinvented itself once again and in 1986 saw the amalgamation of the former Institutions to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
New rules were established which removed many of the existing anomalies and allowed the Trust to better prioritise the needs of the children above all else.
In May 2003 Her Majesty the Queen gave permission to restore our ‘Royal’ title – a fitting tribute to their work.
The RMTGB today
Today, their mission is:
“To relieve poverty and advance the education of children of a Masonic family and, when funds permit, support other children in need.”
They continue to help children and young people using a variety of different funds and projects, however the main role is to assist the children of Masonic families who have experienced a distress that has led to financial hardship.
The help is provided in the form of grants to relieve the effects of poverty and advance education. Grants most frequently take the form of maintenance allowances to assist with everyday living costs. We can also make specific grants for items such as computers, music or sports lessons and educational visits.
In addition to providing financial assistance, the RMTGB have a highly experienced welfare team who visit and support the families we care for and assist applicants to ensure our support remains effective and relevant to their lives.
In recent years, further schemes have been established such as TalentAid for gifted young people.