USES, CHARITABLE AND SU PERSTITIOUS. The term Charitable use' has a very extensive legal meaning, and includes dispositions of property which are not in ordinary language de scribed as charitable, but which are so called with reference to the purposes enu merated in the statute 43 Eliz. c. 4, or such as are considered analogous to them. That statute enacted that the Commis sioners thereby empowered should inquire as to the lands, thee. given by well-dis posed people " for relief of aged, impotent, and poor people ; for maintenance of sick and maimed soldiers and mariners ; schools of learning, free-schools, and scholars in universities; for repair of bridges, ports, havens, causeways, churches, sea-banks, and highways; for education and preferment of orphans ; for or towards the relief, stock, or mainte nance of houses of correction ; for marri age of poor maids ; for suppo.rtation, aid, and help of young tradesmen, handicrafts men, and persons decayed ; and for relief or redemption of prisoners and captives, and for aid or ease of any poor inhabit ants concerning payment of fifteens. setting out of soldiers, and other taxes. The term Charitable use' is applicable only to gifts for what are called public charities, the objects of which are not particular individuals, but a class or the public in general.
If lands, tenements, rents, goods, or chattels were given, secured, or appointed for or towards any of the following pur poses : for the maintenance of a priest or other man to pray for the soul of any dead man in such a church or elsewhere to have or maintain perpetual obits, lamps, torches, &c., to be used at certain times to help to save the souls of men out of purgatory,—these or the like purposes are declared to be Superstitions Uses by 1st Edward VI. c. 14. There is no statute making superstitious uses void generally, but it is now an established rule of law that gifts for superstitious uses generally are void, and many gifts have by the courts been declared to be for supersti tious uses which are not such in the or dinary acceptation of the term, but are either expressly prohibited by the law or contrary to its policy. A change in the doctrine of superstitious uses has been made by the 2 & 3 Win. IV. c. 115, which puts persons professing the Roman Catholic religion upon the same footing, with respect to their schools, places for religious worship, education and chari table purposes, as Protestant dissenters ; with respect to whom the doctrine of the court is, that it will administer a fund to maintain a society of Protestant dissenters promoting no doctrine contrary to law, though at variance with that of the Es tablished Church. The 2 & 3 Win.
IV. c. 115, is retrospective. (2 M. and K., 225.) Thonfh it is now lawful to give money by will for Roman Catholic schools or for promoting the Roman Catholic religion, it is not lawful to give money for prayers and masses for the soul of a testator.
The Court of Chancery has a general jurisdiction over property given for chari table purposes, and the regular mode in which matters relating to charities are brought before it, is by information by the attorney-general on behalf of the crown.
The Court of Chancery adopts a very liberal construction of gifts for charitable purposes ; and there are numerous cases of gifts for objects not within the letter of the statute of Elizabeth which have been considered to be within the equitable meaning of the word charity as under stood in that court, and have been ad ministered accordingly. And when a gift is made for charity generally, with out any purpose specified, if the gift be to trustees, the court will order a scheme to be prepared for the direction of the trus tees in the administration of the trust ; and where the declared object is charity, but no trust has been created, the crown by sign manual disposes of the property, and declares the particular charitable purposes to which it is to be applied. Where the particular objects which the onor had in view fail, either wholly or in part, the court adopts what is called the principle of that is, it directs the property to be applied to worthy ob jects in its judgment most nearly resem bling those which have failed, or when more than one charity has been named by the donor, to such of the others as are still subsisting. When the revenue of the property increases from any cause, the increase goes to the charity, if it ap pear to have been the intention of the donor that the whole should be disposed of for the benefit of the charity. Several difficult questions have arisen as to the disposition of increased fluids.