Benevolence, in the history of the law of England, was a species of forced loan or contribution, levied by kings without legal authority. It was first so called in 1473, when asked from his subjects by Edward IV. as a mark of good will toward his rule. James I. tried, but with little success, to raise money by this expedient, and it was never again attempted by the crown; Charles I. expressly declining to have recourse to it.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.