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Our history

Founding of the Trust

The Trust was founded in 1919 by Sir Richard Stapley (1843-1920).  Co-founder and director of the clothing business Stapley and Smith of London Wall, and a past Master of the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers Company, for more than thirty years Sir Richard was also an active member of the Corporation of London, in which he represented the ward of Cripplegate Within.  He was knighted in 1908 for services to the Liberal Party.

The establishment of the Stapley Trust was an expression of Sir Richard’s life-long concern with educational and philanthropic causes.  Educated at a day school in Sussex, he always regretted that he had not received a university education, and the Trust was therefore dedicated to assisting young people with ability but with little money in continuing their education at colleges and universities.

With the advice of two friends, Percy Alden, Radical and Labour MP, and historian G. P. Gooch, he established the Trust on the 13 January 1919, with the source of money for grants generated from Sir Richard’s capital investments.


Sir Richard Stapley

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Mr G. P. Gooch

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Miss G. Joyce Brown

More recent history of the Trust 

Initially, it was administered by Miss G. Joyce Brown, Secretary from 1919 to 1968, during which time grants were awarded for a wide range of educational purposes.  Rising inflation and cuts in public service grants in the 1970s and 1980s, however, led the Council to review the most effective use of its resources, and in 1988-89 it concluded that the greatest hardship was being experienced by those registered for a second degree or its equivalent.

Since then, the Trust has been dedicated to supporting students pursuing Masters or Doctoral degrees, and degrees in medicine and veterinary studies.

In recent years, Sir Richard’s initial bequest has been supplemented by the support of various donors.  Benefactors Victor Ford and Judith Matthews left generous legacies in 1995 and 2000, respectively, which were remembered in named scholarships.  The Trust’s 75th Anniversary Appeal and the Millennium Appeal elicited generous responses from the Trust’s alumni, a number of whom continue to regularly support the work of the Trust.

In the past, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Rayne Foundation and Mrs. Jean Sainsbury have all made generous donations.  The Trust extends its sincere thanks to all of its supporters, past and present.

In March 2004, we published a new edition of the History of the Stapley Trust, compiled by Michael Bushby, a former secretary of the Trust, who died on 7 February 2020.

We celebrated our centenary year at a special event in 2019, featuring performances from a small number of our recent grant recipients. Thanks to our founder and supporters, we have supported thousands of students over the last 100 years.

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