The full title of the Trust is


It is one of the oldest trusts in the UK, having been formed in the late 1100s. The Trust was set up to provide a Hospital, not for the sick, but for poor and destitute males of the Borough of Bedford, who had fallen on hard times. It was located in the grounds of St John's Church, Bedford and the incumbent was for centuries the Master of the Hospital. Poor brethren had to be born within the Borough and have lived in the Borough for the last 15 years.

By the late 1800s there was no longer a need for St John's Hospital and, by Act of Parliament in 1881, the Trust was changed to provide small gratuities to those men and women of retirement age, who were born in the Borough of Bedford and had lived in the Borough for the last 15 years. It was and is still a requirement that applicants must be in need. The Trust still operates broadly in accordance with the 1881 Act, although there is no longer a requirement to be born in the Borough

In addition the Trust contributes to a number of Charities in Bedford which benefit the local community

The income to pay the gratuities is derived from property rents and financial investments