George Fentham was born, the son of a churchwarden, in 1630 in Hampton-in-Arden. He was the fifth child of nine children by Henry and Alice Fentham. It is probable that he was apprenticed to a mercer (a dealer in silks and fine cloth) in Birmingham when he was 14 and became successful businessman in the developing city of Birmingham.
He is known to have rented a significant amount of land and many buildings in his enterprises; some from King Edwards School (being their biggest tenant in 1682) which he used for a brickmaking business.
Such evidence as we have indicates that George developed a keen sense of social responsibility and a clear awareness of the poverty that existing around him.
He drew up his last Will and Testament in 1690 and died in 1698. In it he specified that he wished certain categories of persons “in the place of my nativity” (the manor of Hampton-In-Arden) to benefit from his personal estate. He left money to “relieve and comfort the honest, deserving and industrious poor”, but not “the idle and vitious”. He provided for an annual sum of £30 to be spent in Hampton-In- Arden £20 to pay a Schoolmaster, £5 for the relief of the poor and £5 for setting out an apprentice. The £20 was to be paid to “such a person as shall be appointed to and lawfully teach School in Hampton-In-Arden, to male children of the inhabitants of the Parish and especially of the poorer sort”. More details of the will can be found here.
George Fentham also established the George Fentham Birmingham Charity which has no connection to the Hampton Charity. The total value of his legacies today is around £15 million.
For over three hundred years the Trustees have managed and invested his legacy which has supported many worthwhile projects within the area of benefit and has perpetuated the name of George Fentham.