The Hulme Trust was set up in 1691 under the will of William Hulme of Kearsley in Lancashire. It has been one of the oldest, richest and most influential of all educational trusts in the country but very little has been written about either William Hulme or the work of the trust. This book argues that what little has been written on Hulme, on his poor orphaned beginnings and strong Manchester connections, was based on false premises, and sheds light on the real man behind the trust. The Hulme trust is special for a number of reasons. From small beginnings, when an annual rental from the estates of under ?100 was sufficient for four poor students to be given a modest allowance, the trust had grown a century later to an annual rental of over ?5,000, thanks to the unique circumstances of Manchester in the Industrial Revolution. By the mid-19th century the trustees were often rich landowners, accused by their detractors of ignoring the criticism of humbler mortals, their country estates in sharp contrast to the living and working conditions of the slums of Manchester. They were often ardent supporters of the Church of England and devoted to keeping the control of finance and power within their own circle. The controversy mirrored the 19th-century struggle between the Church of England and the Nonconformist Churches, and the passions raised were more intense than can be found with any other similar trust. The exhibitioners themselves are also investigated. Nineteenth century critics dismissed them as cosseted and cushioned nonentities, manipulated by the Church of England for its own purposes and contributing little if anything to the intellectual life of the nation. This book studies the lives of the many who can be traced and gives us an insight into 18th- and 19th-century society.