The Hoper Dixon Trust was from its beginning closely associated with the Dominican Friars,  members of the Order of Preachers, a religious order in the Catholic Church established by St Dominic at the beginning of the 13th century.

Dominican Friars observe the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Among other things, this means that when a Dominican Friar makes his final solemn profession of vows, he renounces the possibility of owning any property whatsoever.

This was the position Arthur Kirkpatrick Hoper Dixon found himself in in 1919. He had become a Dominican Friar, taking the name of fr. Rupert, and was based at Hawkesyard Priory, Saffordshire, when his grandfather Thomas Nunn Debenham died leaving a substantial legacy.

As fr. Rupert Hoper Dixon was unable to receive his grandfather's legacy himself, with the help and permission of his superiors a trust was established "for the benefit of the poor connected with or in the districts of the four Dominican Churches at Haverstock Hill London at Pendleton Manchester at Leicester and at Newcastle on Tyne." At the time, those four churches were the main places where Dominican Friars in England carried out their pastoral ministry. In accordance with the Trust Deed, made on 13 October 1919, the objects could include:

  • the provision of food and clothing for the sick and poor;
  • the payment of rent to save people from the necessity of entering a workhouse;
  • the payment of rent under other circumstances of distress;
  • the helping of ex-prisoners or other poor persons;
  • the helping of young men and women and the assisting of Catholic homes which provide for them;
  • the payment of expenses or help towards expenses to enable poor invalids to visit Lourdes;
  • the apprenticing of boys and girls to trades;
  • the education of boys and girls with technical or artistic training so as to provide them with a trade;
  • the redemption of pawn tickets;
  • to pay cost of funerals;
  • to provide dowries for girls marrying or entering Convents;
  • to help cases of drink cure and convalescence;
  • Doctors' bills or hospital beds;
  • the provision of or help towards providing a Church or School or Institute.

With the passing of the decades, the Dominican Friars established pastoral initiatives in places other than those mentioned in the Trust Deed, and some of the particular ways of benefiting the poor envisaged in the Deed became antiquated, while not encompassing all the ways those suffering from poverty might be helped in the modern world. In order to respond to developing needs, in 2006 the Trustees obtained permission from the Charity Commission to amend the objects of the Hoper Dixon Trust. It is now able to make grants for "the benefit of the poor connected with or in the neighbourhood of any house or pastoral centre under the direction of the English Province of the Order of Preachers" (Scheme of 20 July 2006). The Trust can therefore help a broader range of people than before, and in a greater number of ways.