Julia Westaway

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A portrait of Julia Westaway by John St Helier Lander

Julia Westaway (1820-1901) was the founder of the Westaway charitable trust.

The Westaway Family

Julia was one of five children born to Nathanael Westaway. Nathanael, a builder, came to Jersey from Winkleigh in Devon and married Anne Alexandre in 1811. Two of the children died before reaching adulthood: the three who survived were Harriet, Julia and John Nathanael.

Nathanael Westaway employed a large number of masons: he was reluctant to lay them off work in winter and consequently when there were no buyers for houses he built for himself. At his death in 1852 his considerable portfolio of property was split equally between his three children.

The feud and the foundation of the Trust

John Nathaniel Westaway presumed that he should look after the affairs of his sisters and for this he expected to be paid. When in 1861 Harriet and Julia refused, he took them to court. The two sisters elected to be sent to the Debtor's prison rather than pay the debt. As next of kin their brother was required to pay for their keep, and such was the animosity between them that he reduced their keep to "short commons", the least amount he need pay. Harriet became ill and so the sisters were forced to pay the debt.

As a result the sisters changed their wills. Harriet left everything but a token amount to Julia, and Julia left all her considerable estate (valued at the time at about £90,000) to a variety of charitable causes. When she died in 1901, the will was contested on the grounds that she was not of sound mind when the will was made: however, after a long court battle the provisions of the will were upheld and the Westaway Trust came into being in 1906.

Miss Westaway in later life being taken for an outing from her St Helier home

Legacy

Julia Westaway's bequests included:

  • The establishment of a crèche and day nursery for babies so that widows could go out to work.
  • A fund for the pauvres honteux - the poor who were too proud to apply for parish relief - to be distributed by Constables and churchwardens.
  • A fund to provide clothes, books and (more especially) shoes for Protestant elementary school children. It is said that most schools in Jersey still have a cupboard containing gym shoes provided through the Westaway bequest.
  • Gifts to support the publication and distribution of Protestant literature in Brittany.
  • Gifts to support the work of the Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A plaque was unveiled at Westaway Chambers in Don Street in November 2006 to commemorate the centenary of the Westaway Trust. Ironically, John Nathanael Westaway has his own monument on Mount Bingham after he was drowned on the Normandy in 1870.

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