The Trust was founded in 1875 by William Dudley with a gift of £100,000. William Dudley was a jeweller who lived and worked at 14, St Paul's Square, in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.
The Trust’s original deed set out three areas of charitable activity and the area of benefit was to be the City of Birmingham. The objects reflect William Dudley's priorities in that income from investments was to be applied in the following order:
Object 1: Loans benefiting young tradesmen starting up in business
Object 2: Benefactions to aged tradesmen
Object 3: Aid to charitable organisations for the relief of suffering
For more than a century, a succession of trustees allocated the income to meet these objects. In the early 1990’s trustees realised that the Trust’s deed would need to be reassessed to ensure its objects continued to be relevant and effective with so many social changes having taken place since the Trust was established. Altering the objects of a charitable trust deed requires a legal procedure overseen by the Charity Commission to ensure that William Dudley's original wishes are protected. The process was successfully completed in 1997.
The first Object was amended as follows:
Promoting the education, training or establishment in life of young people in financial need, studying, working or residing in Birmingham.
This has enabled the Trust to develop two new areas of work. For the School of Jewellery (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design) in the Jewellery Quarter, the Trust awards bursaries for students studying for an MA in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products.
The Trust worked collaboratively with the Prince’s Trust to provide loans for young people setting up jewellery, craft and creative businesses in the Jewellery Quarter and surrounding areas. The William Dudley Trust now supports the Prince's Trust's Development Awards programme.
Revision of the second Object has enabled the Trust to donate to an emergency fund for older people, administered by Age Concern Birmingham, who are or have been in business in Birmingham, and who are suffering need, hardship and distress.
With its remaining income, the Trust continues to make donations to charitable organisations in Birmingham, prioritising smaller charities that benefit older and other disadvantaged people.
This history was originally produced in 1999 when recipients of the first bursaries awarded under the revised objects exhibited their work at the School of Jewellery. The occasion also celebrated the successes of the Trust’s other grant making priorities, and drew attention to a Victorian philanthropist, William Dudley, whose good works have made a difference to the people of Birmingham for more than a century.