Rowntree A-Z

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

When it was established in 1904 the JRCT was a family-based trust, the trustees being the founder and five relatives. Seebohm Rowntree continued as a trustee until his death in 1954 and the family connection was not broken until the retirement of Michael Rowntree in 1991. The JRCT also flourished within the wider context of the Society of Friends, from which it still draws its trustees.  It holds fast to the principles of truth and integrity, justice and equality, peace and conflict resolution, which the Quakers hold dear.

Main issues and concerns

The major founding concerns of this trust were: education in the service of the Society of Friends, study and publishing on the history of Quakerism, promotion of temperance, influencing public opinion in favour of peace and settlement of international conflict, investigation of poverty and unemployment, promotion of remedies to remove them, and (as stipulated in 1919 by Joseph Rowntree) adult education and educational settlements.

A new focus

After the Second World War, with advances in adult education and the creation of the welfare state, there was a re-evaluation of the grant-making approach. Social policy remained a concern, and racial justice came into focus, including asylum and immigration policy. Quaker work and peace have remained at the heart of the trust’s work, and it has supported a number of international initiatives towards the aims of disarmament and international dialogue.

Ireland was added to the list of programmes in the 1970s following the outbreak of violence, and there was support for the transformation towards democracy in South Africa. Since the 1970s the trust has been involved in questions relating to corporate responsibility and democracy, and although it is constantly responsive to external change in essence it remains still strongly recognisable from its founding days.


Mark Freeman The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust: a Study in Quaker Philanthropy and Adult Education 1904-1954, York: W. Sessions, 2004.

External links

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Our work is enabled by grant funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. If you would like to make a financial donation to further support our work, it is easy to pay online (with or without Gift Aid) by clicking the link below. You can get in touch with us about other ways of giving via