The Society was founded in 1726 to honour the memory, and carry on the charitable work, of the great Bristol philanthropist, Edward Colston who had died five years before. Ever since then the Society has raised money to help people living in the parish. Until the middle of the 19th century, this help was principally in the form of the distribution of bread, following the service held on 2nd November, Edward Colston’s birthday, each year. This was supplemented by payments made to poor women of the parish, particularly at the time of childbirth. By the beginning of the 20th century this system was replaced by one of making grants to other charitable organisations working in the parish, particularly to the schools in the parish. Support for the schools has continued into the 21st century, with grants being made regularly to St Mary Redcliffe Primary School and to St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School. In addition grants have been made to other organisations working in the parish. Since 2000 the Society has distributed over £327,000 within the parish. The bulk of the money the Society raises each year is contributed by its members, to whom the President makes an annual appeal.