William Adams was born in 1585, the son of John Adams of Newport, Yeoman, and his wife Alice Smart. He was one of four children and had a brother John, and two sisters. In his early career he was a shopkeeper in Newport, Shropshire. Thereafter, he became a merchant member of the Haberdashers' Company with family connections in Shropshire.
In 1656 he established a grammar school and almshouses in Newport, Shropshire. As this was during the Interregnum, he required permission from Oliver Cromwell in a Charter which is now displayed in Haberdashers’ Hall. At the time of the establishment of the school and almshouses, he appointed the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company as Governors.
He also left further money and estates to the Company to support the school. At the Restoration in 1660 Cromwell's Charter was made null and void, so an Act of Parliament agreed by Charles II was needed to confirm the terms of the school's foundation.
In addition to its longstanding support of the Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School in Newport, the Adams Charity now sponsors the Haberdashers’ Abraham Darby Academy in Telford, which joined the Adams Federation Trust in 2012. Records are not wholly complete, but it is estimated that approximately 70,000 pupils in Shropshire have received the benefit of a Haberdashers’ sponsored education since 1656 and 2012.
Artist - Unknown Artist. English school late 17th century.
This spirit of philanthropy continues at the Company today. Members regularly support the charitable endeavours of the Haberdashers’ Foundation in order that the Company increases the impact of its work with schools, churches and communities. If you would like the opportunity to be part of the Company’s philanthropy, the giving page is here. Thank you.