A medieval London hospital: Elsyngspital 1330-1536

Citation preview


Ann Bowtell, Royal Holloway, University of London


..... ...~,. ,~' ,

Submitted for the degree of PhD, University of London


Declaration of Original Authorship

I confirm that the work presented in this thesis is my own. Where the work of others has been drawn upon, it has been properly and appropriately acknowledged according to the academic conventions .


Ann Bowtell


Abstract The hospital of St Mary within Cripplegate, or Elsyngspital, was founded as a college of priests and a hospital, primarily for the blind, by a London mercer, William Elsyng. He arranged for it to be converted into an Augustinian priory on his death in 1349 and it survived until the Dissolution. Information about the hospital is found in a number of different archive collections, for example the hospital's own records taken by the Court of Augmentations now in the National Archives, the records of the hospital's patrons, the dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral, in the Guildhall Library and the wills and deeds of London citizens in those archives and elsewhere. The thesis brings together this scattered material and analyses it to trace the history of the hospital and to set it within the context of its time and location. Part 1 deals with the foundation of the hospital up to the death of the founder in 1349. Chapter 1 focuses on the man himself, his background and motives. Chapter 2 analyses the process of foundation, how support was secured from city, church and king, the successive versions of the founding charter and the founder's will. Chapter 3 covers the endowment of the hospital and how a founder who was neither extremely wealthy nor powerful provided for it. Part 2 deals with the period from the founder's death to the hospital's suppression. Chapter 4 describes and analyses the economic fortunes of the hospital. Chapter 5 analyses the hospital's inhabitants, the priors, canons, sisters, poor and sick, servants and others, supported by appendices giving details of all known priors and canons. Chapter 6 sets Elsyngspital in its external environment, examining its interface with the outside world.


A Medieval London Hospital: Elsyngspital 1330-1536 Table of Contents Signed Declaration




Table of Contents


List of Figures


List of Tables








Part 1 The Foundation

of Elsyngspital

Chapter 1 William Elsyng


Chapter 2 The process of foundation


Chapter 3 Endowing the hospital


Part 2 Elsyngspital

after William Elsyng's death

Chapter 4 Economic fortunes of Elsyngspital


Chapter 5 The people of Elsyngspital


Chapter 6 Elsyngspital and the outside world




Appendices Appendix 1 Translation of the will of William Elsyng


Appendix 2 Calendar of documents involved in the foundation of Elsyngspital 1327-1349 Appendix 3 Calendar and comparison of foundation charters of Elsyngspital 1330-31 Appendix 4 Properties acquired by William Elsyng or his hospital up to the time of his death, including those disposed of during that time Appendix 5 Wardens and priors of Elsyngspital

248 256 272 289

Appendix 6 Secular priests and canons of Elsyngspital





List of Figures 1

The remains of Elsyngspital



Impression of the seal of William Elsyng



Cast of the fourteenth century seal of Elsyngspital



The neighbourhood of Elsyngspital in the City of London c. 1520



Approximate location of properties in the City of London acquired by William Elsyng or Elsyngspital to 1349



Suggested sketch plan ofElsyngspital



South front of St Alphage church, formerly the chapel of Elsyngspital, 1747



The porch of St Alphage church, once the chapel of Elsyngspital, 1815



Oaths of submission of Elsyngspital canons to prior William (either Sayer, 1454-1462, or Bowland, by 1492-by 1500) and to prior Gilbert (Sharpe, 1462-by 1492)



Oaths of submission of Elsyngspital canons to prior Gilbert (Sharpe, 1462-by 1492)



Acknowledgement June,1534



Detail from Figure 11: signatures of the Elsyngspital canons acknowledging the royal supremacy, June, 1534

in 1536

of the royal supremacy by the Elsyngspital canons,



List of Tables 4.1

Annual income ofElsyngspita11349-1535



Other assessments of Elsyngspital's income



Rents and property acquired by Elsyngspita11350-1536



Acknowledgements This thesis would never have been written without the constant inspiration, encouragement and advice of Professor Caroline Barron who has been a strength and support throughout the long process of research and composition and to whom I am extremely grateful. Her Medieval Seminar has provided me with a group of colleagues on whom it was possible to try out my ideas and gather fresh ones, as has the Medieval and Tudor London Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research London. I have had much assistance too from colleagues who have generously passed to me references to Elsyngspital they came across in the course of their researches and whom I have acknowledged individually in the text. I have had occasional assistance with difficult passages of Latin and paleography from a group of colleagues convened by Christian Steer which used to meet regularly to share documents, and from Eleanor Cracknell. Finally my thanks go to my husband, Michael, for his tolerance and patience, to Tom and Sophie who have helped me set up the thesis on the computer and to Stephen Park for helping with the printing.


Abbreviations Assize Baddeley Beaven Birch

BL Burgess


Carter CC CCR


Chantry Certificate Chichele Church in London CIPM


Consistory Court CP CPL

London Assize of Nuisance 1301-1431, eds H.M. Chew and W. Kellaway (London Record Society, 1973) Baddeley, Sir John, Cripplegate Ward (London, 1922) Beaven, Alfred, The Aldermen of the City of London, 2 vols (London 1908-13) Birch, W.de G., Catalogue of Seals in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 6 vols (London, 18871900) British Library Burgess, Clive, 'By Quick and by Dead: will and pious provision in late medieval Bristol', EHR, 102 (1987), pp.837-858 A descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the Public Record Office prepared under the supervision of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 6 vols (London, 1890-1915) P.Carter, History of the Church and Parish ofSt Alphage, London Wall (London, 1925) Cotton Charters, British Library Calendar of Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1227-1509, prepared under the superintendence of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 57 vols (London, 18921963) Calendar of Fine Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1272-1509 prepared under the superintendence of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 22 vols, (London, 1911-1962) London and Middlesex Chantry Certificate 1548, ed. C. Kitching (London Record Society, 1989) The Register of Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury 1414-1443, ed. E.F. Jacobs, 4 vols (Oxford, 1937-47) The Church in London 1375-92, ed. A.K. McHardy (London Record Society, 1977) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Henry VII prepared under the supervision of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 3 vols (London, 1848-1955) Clay, Rotha Mary, The Medieval Hospitals of England (London 1909) Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls, ed. A. H. Thomas, vols 1-4; ed. Philip EJones, vols 5-6 (Cambridge, 19261961) London Consistory Court Wills 1492-1547, ed. Ida Darlington, (London Record Society, 1967) Husting Common Pleas Calendar of entries in the Papal Register relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, eds W.H.Bliss, C.Johnson, J.A.Twemlow and MJ.Haren, 18 vols (London 1893-1989)



Cremetts and Corrodies Cullum

Davis Dickinson Dyer EHR Emden, Cambridge Emden, Oxford Faculty Office Fasti Fowler Gazetteer Gilchrist Goldsmiths' Company Graham

Granshaw and Porter GL GW Harvey Henderson Holy Trinity Honeybourne

Calendar of Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1216-1509 prepared under the superintendence of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 52 vols (London, 18911916) Cullum,P.H., Cremetts and Corrodies: Care of the Poor and Sick at St Leonards Hospital York in the Middle Ages, Borthwick Paper, 79 (York, 1991) Cullum, P.H., 'Poverty and Charity in Early Fourteenth Century England', in Nicholas Rogers ed., England in the Fourteenth Century (Stamford,1993), pp. 140-51 Davis, Virginia, Clergy in London in the Late Middle Ages (London, 2000) (with CD-ROM) Dickinson, J.C., The Origins of the Austin Canons and their Introduction into England (London, 1950) Dyer, Christopher, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge 1989, revised edition 1998) English Historical Review Emden, A.B., A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500 (Cambridge, 1963) Emden, A.B., A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to AD 1500, 3 vols (Oxford, 1957-59) Faculty Office Registers, ed. D.S. Chambers (Oxford, 1966) Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541: St Paul's London, ed. Joyce M. Hom (London 1963) Fowler, Kenneth, The King's Lieutenant (London, 1969) Historical Gazetteer of London before the Great Fire, eds Derek Keene and Vanessa Harding (London, 1987) Gilchrist, R., Contemplation and Action: the other monasticism (Leicester, 1995) Reddaway, T.F. and L.E.M. Walker, The Early History of the Goldsmiths' Company 1327-1500 (London, 1975) Graham, Rose, 'The Order of St Antoine de Viennois and its English Commandery, St Anthony's, Threadneedle St.', Archaeological Journal, 84 (1927), pp.341-406 Granshaw, L. and R. Porter, The Hospital in History (London, 1989) Guildhall Library Library of St George's College, Windsor Harvey, Barbara, Living and Dying in England 1100-1540: the Monastic Experience (Oxford, 1993) Henderson, John, Peregrine Hordem and Allesandro Pastore, eds, The Impact of Hospitals 300-2000 (Berne, 2007) Schofield, 1., Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate, City of London (London, 2005) Honeybourne, Marjorie, 'The extent and value of the property in London and Southwark occupied by the Religious Houses (including the Prebends of St. Paul's and St. Martin's-le-Grand), the Inns of the Bishops and Abbots, and the Churches and Churchyards, before the Dissolution of the Monasteries' (unpublished MA thesis, University of London, 1929)


House of Commons HPL HR Jack Jamison

Roskell, J.S., L.Clark and C. Rawcliffe, House of Commons 1386-1421,4 vols (Stroud, 1992) Husting Pleas of Land Husting Roll of Wills and Deeds Jack, Sybil, 'The Last days of the Smaller Monasteries in England', JEH, 21 (1970), pp. 97-124 Jamison, Catherine, The History of the Royal Hospital ofSt Katherine by the Tower of London (Oxford, 1952)


Wardens' Accounts and Court Minute Books of the Goldsmiths'Mistery of London 1344-1446, ed. Lisa


Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Jefferson (Woodbridge, 2003) Jurkowski

Jurkowski, M.K., C.L. Smith and D.L. Crook, Lay Taxes in

England and Wales, 1188-1688 (Kew, 1998) Keene, 'Landlords'

Keene, Derek, 'Landlords, the Property market and Urban Development in Medieval England' in Finn Einar Eliassen and Geri Atle Ersland, eds, Power, Profit and Urban Land:

Land Ownership in Medieval and Early Modern European Towns (Aldershot, 1996), pp. 93 -119 Keene, 'Property Market'

Keene, Derek, 'The Property markets in English Towns' in Jean-Claude Maire Vigueur, ed., D 'une ville a I 'autre:

structures materielles et organisation de I 'espace dans les villes europeennes (XIII-XIV steele): actes du colloque organise par I 'Ecole francaise de Rome avec les concours de I 'Universite de Rome (Rome 1-4 Decembre 1986) (Rome, 1989) Kerling Knowles Knowles and Hadcock Kreider


London London Bridge London Guildhall 'London Hospitals'


Cartulary ofSt Bartholomew's

Hospital, ed. Nellie J.M.

Kerling (London, 1973) Knowles, D., The Religious Orders in England, 3 vols (Cambridge, 1948, 1974 edition) Knowles, D. and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales (London, 1971) Kreider, Alan, English Chantries: the Road to the Dissolution (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1979) Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London A -L, ed. R. Sharpe, 11vols (London, 1899-1912) London Metropolitan Archives Barron, Caroline, London in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 2004) London Bridge: selected accounts and rentals 1381-1538, eds V.Harding and L.Wright (London Record Society, 1995) Bowsher, David, Tony Dyson, Nick Holder and Isca Howell, eds, The London Guildhall, 2 vols (London, 2007) Rawcliffe, Carole, 'The Hospitals of Later Medieval London', Medical History, 28 (1984), pp. 1-21

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, ed. J.s.Brewer, James Gairdner and R.H.Brodie, 22 vols (London, 1862-1932)


Mayer Milman Medieval Widows Milne Monasticon




ODNB Onne and Webster Paxton

Poss.Ass. Proceedings in Chancery

Raban Rawcliffe Reading

Redivivum Religious Houses Repertorium

Mayer, Edward, The Curriers of the City of London (London, 1968) Milman, W.H., 'Some Account ofSion College, in the City of London, and of its Library', TLMAS (1890), pp.53-122 Barron, Caroline and Anne Sutton, eds, Medieval London Widows (London, 1994) Milne, Gustav, Excavations at Medieval Cripplegate, London (Swindon, 2002) Dugdale, W., Monasticon Anglicanum, eds John Caley, Henry Ellis and Bulkeley Bardinel, 6 vols (London, 181730), vol.6, part 2 Harvey, Barbara, ed., The Obedienttaries of Westminster Abbey and their Financial Records c1275-1540 (VVoodbridge, 2002) The Observances in use at the Augustinian priory ofS Giles and S Andrew at Barnwell in Cambridgeshire, ed. J.W.Clark (Cambridge, 1913) A Calendar of the Cartularies of John Pyel and Adam Fraunceys, ed. S.J.O'Connor (Camden Society, fifth series, 1993) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) on line edition, (http.www.oxforddnb.com) Onne, Nicholas and Margaret Webster, The English Hospital (London, 1995) Paxton, Catherine, 'The Nunneries of London and its Environs in the Later Middle Ages' (unpublished D Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1992) London Possessory Assizes: A Calendar, ed. H.M.Chew (London Record Society, 1965) Calendar of Proceedings in Chancery in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Volume 1, to which are prefixed examples of earlier Proceedings in the Court, namely from the reign of Richard II to that of Queen Elizabeth inclusive (Record Commission, ·1827) Raban, Sandra, Mortmain Legislation and the English Church 1279-1500 (Cambridge, 1982) Rawcliffe, Carole, Medicine for the Soul: The Life, Death and Resurrection of an English Hospital (Stroud, 1999) 'The History of the Ancient and present state ofSion College and of the London Clergy'S Library there', Annex to Bibliothecae Cieri Londinensis in Collegio Sionensi Catalogus, William Reading (London, 1724) London Redivivum, ed. J.P. Malcolm, 4 vols (London, 18027), vol.l Barron, Caroline and Matthew Davies, eds, The Religious Houses of London and Middlesex (London, 2007) Novum Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londinense, ed. George Hennessy (London, 1898)



Rosenthal Rosser Rubin

Runaway Religious St Mary Spital

Salter Salzman Savine


Snape Stahlschmidt Stow Strype Sutton, Mercery Sutton, 'Mercery Trade' Sweetinburgh Tatchell


Rosenfield, M.C., 'The Disposal of the Property of London Monastic Houses with a special study of Holy Trinity Aldgate' (unpublished PhD thesis, University of London, 1961) Rosenthal, J.T., The Purchase of Paradise (London, 1972) Rosser, Gervase, Medieval Westminster (Oxford, 1989) Rubin, Miri, Charity and Community in Medieval Cambridge (Cambridge, 1987, paperback edition 2002) Logan, F. Donald, Runaway Religious in Medieval England c1 240-1 540 (Cambridge, 1996) Thomas, Christopher, Barney Sloane and Christopher Philpotts, The Excavations at the Priory of St Mary Spital, London (London, 1997) Chapters of the Augustinian Canons, ed. H.E. Salter (Oxford 1922) Salzman, L.F., Building in England down to 1540 (Oxford, 1952, 1972 edition) 'English Monasteries on the Eve of the Dissolution' in P. Vinogradoff, ed, Oxford Studies in Legal and Social History (Oxford, 1909), vol.I, pp.I-303 Seymour, Margaret, 'The Organisation, Personnel and Functions of the Medieval Hospital in the Later Middle Ages' (unpublished MA thesis, University of London, 1946) Snape, R.H., English Monastic Finances in the Late Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1926) Stahlschmidt, J.C.L., 'London Lay Subsidy Roll, 14111412', The Archaeological Journal, 44 (1887), pp. 56-82 Stow, John, A Survey of London, ed. C.L. Kingsford, 2 vols (Oxford 1908) Stow, John, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, ed. John Strype, 2 vols (London, 1720) Sutton, Anne, The Mercery of London: Trade, Goods and People (Aldershot, 2005) Sutton, Anne, 'The Mercery Trade and the Mercers' Company of London from the 1130s to 1348' (unpublished PhD thesis, University of London, 1995) Sweetinburgh, Sheila, The role of the Hospital in Medieval England (Dublin, 2004) Tatchell, Molly, 'The Accounts of the Hospital of the Savoy for the year 17 to 18 Henry VII', TLMAS, 20 (1961), pp. 151-59 Thompson, A. Hamilton, The History of the Hospital and the

New College of the Annunciation ofSt Mary in the Newarke Thrupp

(Leicester, 1937) Thrupp, Sylvia, The Merchant Class of Medieval London (Michigan, 1948, paperback edition 1989)


Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society


The National Archives


Transactions of the Royal Historical Society



Valor VCHL Watson

Wedgewood Woodward Wriothesley


Tucker, Penny, Law Courts and Lawyers in the City of London, 1300-1550 (Cambridge, 2007) Valor Ecclesiasticus, eds John Caley and John Hunter, 6 vols (London, 1810-34), vol. 1 Page, William, ed., The Victoria History of the Counties of England: London (London, 1909) Watson, Sethina, 'Fundatio, Ordinatio et Statuta: The Statutes and Constitutional Documents of English Hospitals to 1300', (unpublished DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 2003) Wedgewood, Josiah, History of Parliament 1439-1509, 2 vols (London 1936), vo1.2 Woodward, G.W.O., The Dissolution of the Monasteries (London, 1966) Wriothesley, Charles, A Chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, ed. William Hamilton, 2 vols (London, 1875) Youings, Joyce, The Dissolution of the Monasteries (London, 1961)


Introduction Elsyngspital, the Hospital of St Mary within Cripplegate, was founded in 1330 by William Elsyng, a London mercer.' Over the previous two or three centuries many hospitals had been established in England, with the most active period in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.


There was to be a further period of expansion, mainly of

almshouses often founded by merchants in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: Elsyngspital fell between the two phases. More than one thousand hospitals and almshouses founded in the medieval period were identified by Knowles and Hadcock, though the number in existence at anyone time would have been much less than this, as many did not survive long, and estimated numbers anyway fluctuate with more research: around 1300, shortly before Elsyngspital was founded, numbers have been put at around 500. 3 Hospitals were very varied, many being quite small, catering for only a handful of people, while a few large institutions might have a hundred or more beds. Many catered mainly for lepers, others for pilgrims and wayfarers, some for the sick poor in general, others mainly cared for the old or infirm and functions might change over time. St Leonard's York for example took in the poor, the sick, the old and the infirm but also catered for orphans; some hospitals excluded those with contagious diseases, others did not take in the chronically sick, but St Bartholomew's in London took in both; St Anthony's hospital in London stopped looking after the sick and became primarily a school." What hospitals had in common was the provision of shelter, food, warmth and perhaps, where needed, basic care for the body. Care of the soul, including access to religious services, was regarded as equally, if not more, important. Hospitals in England did not generally provide medical care in the sense of the attendance of surgeons or physicians, though some may have been able to offer 1 In his lifetime William was referred to as 'de Elsyng' in accordance with the practice at the time. But to maintain continuity in this account the later simpler form has been used throughout. 2 There are a number of general accounts of medieval hospitals in England from which the account in this introduction has been drawn. Clay, the original study of hospitals, is now rather overtaken in some respects; Orme and Webster give a comprehensive survey including an account of the principal publications over the years and there are several useful papers in Granshaw and Porter. A general account will be found in Knowles and Hadcock, pp.40-42 plus a list of hospitals on pp.310-41 O. Other accounts which include studies of particular hospitals will be found in Rawcliffe, Rubin, Sweetinburgh, Cremetts and Corrodies, and for London, 'London Hospitals'. For an international view of the development of hospitals see Henderson, pp.20-27. 3 For a discussion of the numbers of hospitals of different kinds, see Martha Carlin, 'Medieval English Hospitals', in Granshaw and Porter, pp.21-24, based on the lists of hospitals in Knowles and Hadcock, pp. 310-410, Sweetinburgh, pp.22-23 and Orme and Webster, p.1l. 4 Cremetts andCorrodies, pp 2-3, 7, 28-29; Carlin, 'Medieval HospitaJs', p.24-2S; 'London Hospitals', p.3.


everyday remedies from herbs grown in their gardens. The first hospital in England of the more professional kind already established in Europe was the Savoy founded in 1505.s

Some hospitals were secular institutions, perhaps with priests as wardens and care being provided by sisters, often from among the sick poor themselves. Others though were owned or managed by religious institutions; others were part of those institutions themselves. All would be supported by charitable funds, founded by wealthy individuals, partly out of compassion but also seeking to ease the passage of their souls through purgatory benefitting from the prayers of the poor. Many were founded by royalty, by noblemen or bishops, others, especially in the later medieval period, by wealthy merchants. Some subsisted on voluntary contributions but to survive they generally required an endowment in land and tenements to provide most of the income to support the house. It usually fell to the founder to provide the bulk of the endowment. If it later proved inadequate, or was mismanaged, the house might fail and many smaller hospitals did fail in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. For that reason the founder might seek to put the house under the protection of a religious house or the municipality in the hope of ensuring its survival. Over time some hospitals ceased to be institutions for changing populations of the sick poor and came instead to support the aged and infirm on a long term basis. Some of them charged entry fees so that they became places where the rather better off might seek care as they aged. Many of the hospitals and almshouses did not survive the Dissolution. Those which were part of priories fell with the monastic houses and later even the secular institutions might become caught up in the Chantry Act of the 1548, the prayers for the founder, so often an important part of the foundation, being regarded as 'superstitious'.


The London in which Elsyngspital was founded, as might be expected. had a considerable number of hospitals: thirty-four hospitals have been identified in the city and its suburbs up to the Reformation. around two thirds of which had been founded by 1300, and there were ten leper hospitals in addition." But many hospitals were very small and others were specialised: St Mary Bethlehem, for example, which over time

: Religious Houses, pp.182-84. 'London Hospitals, pp.9-10.

Kreider. pp.154-208. 7'London Hospitals' pp.5-6. The Appendix, pp. 18-21, has a list of London hospitals.


came to specialise in looking after the mentally ill and St Katherine by the Tower which from 1273 no longer took the sick poor but only bedeswomen and scholars." There were some large hospitals: St Mary without Bishopsgate, which catered for the sick poor, including pregnant mothers and orphans, had an infirmary which probably had sixty beds by 1320.9 Others which catered for this general group were St Bartholomew's Hospital, outside Cripplegate, and St Thomas, Southwark, which had forty beds in 1295.10 How many could be accommodated by the London hospitals is impossible to know: if the sick were simply given straw mattresses on the floor presumably more could be packed in than in the 1.5 metre bed space St Mary without Bishopsgate


have provided. 11 And the religious houses would also have provided some temporary shelter. But it seems unlikely that the numbers had increased very much since the major period of hospital foundation towards the end of the twelfth century, for only St Mary Bethlehem and St Anthony had been founded since then and no new foundation of a London hospital is known after that until Elsyngspital in 1330.


Certainly it seems

unlikely that London had anything like the provision of a city like Florence, which was known for the excellence of its hospital provision. Florence was to have one bed for every ninety inhabitants by the middle of the fourteenth century: London would have needed 600-700 beds to achieve that standard early in the century. 13

The population of London had been increasing rapidly, with immigrants flooding in from the surrounding countryside and farther afield, maybe more than doubling in the course of the thirteenth century to a peak of around 80,000 in 1300.14 So there was probably already pressure on the existing hospitals by the second and third decades of the fourteenth century, the period in which William Elsyng was planning and founding his hospital, when famine and sickness struck England. The rain spoiled the harvest in 1314, there was heavy rain again in the summer of 1315, and in 1316, causing grain prices to shoot up. The rate of inflation of grain prices in 1315-16 and 1316-17 has been

Religious Houses, pp.l13'-15, 'London Hospitals' p.ll; Jamison, pp.20-21. St. Mary Spital, pp.47-8; Orme and Webster, p.Ll l. IO'London Hospitals', pp.19-20; Carlin, 'Medieval Hospital', p.26. 11S/.Mary Spital p,48. 12 St. Mary Bethlehem was founded in 1247 and St. Anthony in 1254, Religious Houses, pp.113,128; 'London Hospitals', pp.19-20. 13 John Henderson, 'The Hospitals of later medieval and renaissance Florence: a preliminary survey', in Granshaw and Porter, p.73. 14 Derek Keene 'Medieval London and its Regions' London Journal 14 (1989), pp.lOI and 107; London, p.45. 8



described as 'quite unparalleled in English history'


Sheep got murrain because of the

wet, all meat and dairy products were in short supply because of the lack of fodder, and salt ran short because the weather was too wet to evaporate in the salt pans, so meat and fish could not be properly preserved. The years 1315-18 brought 'the worst famine in England

in the last millenium' and there was widespread mortality. 16 But there was

little let up: cattle murrain broke out in 1319-21, 1320 was a very wet year and there were droughts in 1325-26. In the south the recovery did not really begin until the end of the decade. Because the religious houses which distributed food were concentrated in towns people flocked there in desperation: in 1315 in London nine people were killed at a food distribution, and in 1322, fifty two people died in a stampede for food when alms were distributed at the Dominican Friary in Ludgate. 17 Dysentery broke out caused by bad food adding sickness to starvation. Patricia Cullum wrote that 'The provision of existing institutions

bent and buckled under the strain, but did not entirely fail.' At

the height of the crisis people were too busy coping to expand the number of institutions but in Yorkshire she detected an upturn in foundations after the crisis was over under the spur of the evident suffering there had been.


It may well be that William Elsyng's decision that his life's work was going to be the foundation of a hospital was formed in just this way, for it was against this background that Elsyngspital was founded, a task to which he dedicated the last twenty years of his life and all his fortune. The hospital survived for nearly 200 years after his death but was suppressed in the first wave of dissolutions in 1536. All traces of its buildings have now disappeared apart from three arches at the base of the tower of the hospital's church which can still be seen on London Wall near the Barbican, described as 'the most neglected and least known monument in the City' (see Figure 1).19

The records relating to the hospital have however survived rather better. There is no cartulary but there are a number of groups of documents which together build up a picture of its history. Sion College bought the site in 1627 and appears to have acquired

IS Ian Kershaw, 'The Great Famine and Agrarian Crisis in England, 1315-22', Past and Present, 59 (1973), pp.3-50, quotation, p.l3. This account of the famine is drawn largely from this article and from Cullum, pp.140-15l. 16 Dyer, p. 265. 17 Calendar of Coroners' Rolls of the City of London, 1300-1378 (London, 1913), p.61. :: Cullum, 'Poverty and Charity' p.15l. Milne, p.l33.


with it a number of documents belonging to the hospital." Four are referred to by William Reading in his catalogue of the College library in 1724 and he printed two of them." Twelve were in the College's possession in the later nineteenth century, but all have now disappeared.


Most of Elsyngspital's documents were taken by the Court of

Augmentations when the hospital was dissolved in 1536 and can now be found in the National Archives, in the LR series, the records of the Auditors of Land Revenue. The National Archives also hold two fifteenth century rentals, one set of fifteenth century accounts and other documents. The Court of Augmentations'

own documents, accounts

of the property after the Dissolution and an inventory, form another series, and the Patent Rolls contain copies of the foundation charters. The Cotton Collection in the British Library has a number of key documents, including two charters printed by Dugdale.23 The Dean and Chapter ofSt Paul's Cathedral were the hospital's patrons and their archive, now in the Guildhall Library, yields other documents, as do the registers of the bishops of London.

Many of the documents underpinning donations to the hospital come from the wills and deeds in the London Court of Husting, now in the London Metropolitan Archives, from the wills in the Archdeaconry and Commissary Courts of London, now in the Guildhall Library, and from wills in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in the National Archives. These present problems in searching because indexes provide limited assistance and numbers are very large. The Husting deeds were searched using the manuscript index of names, tracing Elsyng and his connections and later those of the hospital for potential benefactions, which proved particularly productive in the early years, when the hospital's initial endowment was being purchased.


Wills present a more complex picture. The Husting wills are calendared and extensively indexed by name and place, enabling any burial in Elysngspital recorded there, or benefaction to the hospital, to be traced." The wills enrolled in the ecclesiastical courts of the Archdeaconry and Commissary of London and the Prerogative Court of Sion was a college for the London clergy founded under the will of Dr. Thomas White, vicar of St Dunstan in the West, E.H.Pearce, Sion College and its Library, (Cambridge, 1913), pp. 11-14. 21 Reading, pp.2-6. 22 W.H.Milman, pp.53-122. 20


Monasticon, pp.704-8. LMA, CLA/023IDW/02/10-14.


Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Husting, London 1258-1689, ed. R.8harpe, 2


vols (London, 1889-90).


Canterbury only survive from the later fourteenth century and they are not calendared and the printed indexes are much less full than that for the Rusting wills.26 The indexes are, however, quite reliable in providing the names of those who chose to be buried in the hospital: twenty three out of the twenty nine known burials in Elsyngspital come from these ecclesiastical testamentary sources.

Benefactors were more difficult to trace systematically. Searches were made in all the indexes for those who were known from other sources to have been benefactors of the hospital, or were likely to have been benefactors, such as substantial tenants or servants of the hospital, or the priors themselves. Where Sharpe, in his calendar of the Rusting wills, referred simply to benefactions to undifferentiated hospitals, these wills were also checked in manuscript and in many cases revealed further benefactions to Elsyngspital.

In two instances it was possible to consult all the benefactions to the hospital from a particular source in a given period. All the wills enrolled in the Archdeaconry court between 1393 and 1415 have been read and it was possible in this case to know that eighteen out of the 1381 testators made a bequest to the hospital, i.e. 1.3%.27 The 379 wills enrolled in the Logge Register of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, covering the years 1479-1486, have recently been published.f Of these, six, i.e. 1.6%, left small bequests to Elsyngspital. These systematic searches were supplemented by colleagues bringing to my attention Elsyngspital references in these and other series which they came across in the course of their studies. Although the use of wills to locate small donations has inevitably been patchy, large donations, especially of property, are more likely to have been captured: not only are they more likely to be identified in indexes, but they are also more likely to appear in the hospital's own records of property, rents and chantries."

Testamentary Records in the Archdeaconry Court of London 1363-1649, ed. M.Fitch (British Record Society, 1979); Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London JJ74-1488, ed. M.Fitch (British Record Society, 1969); Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London 1489-1570, ed. M.Fitch (British Record Society, 1974); Index of Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury !/83-1558, ed. J.Challenor C.Smith, 2 vols (London, 1893, British Record Society, 1968 reprint). This has been done by Robert Wood, to whom I am most grateful. 28 The Logge Register o/PCC Wills, 1479-1486, eds Lesley Boatwright, Moira Habberjam and Peter Hammond,2 vols (Richard III Society, 2008). 29 In particular in the LR14 series in the National Archives, which contains deeds and some wills relating to the hospital's property. 26


A number of brief accounts of the hospital have been published. Among them is an account by M. Reddan in the Victoria History of the Counties of England: London in 1908, reprinted and updated in 2007 in Caroline Barron and Matthew Davies, Religious

Houses of London.


John Stow had a short passage on the hospital in his survey of

London and there is also an account in 1890 by W.H.Milman who had access to the now lost Sion College documents."

Sir John Baddeley in 1922 included the hospital in his

history of Cripple gate ward, as did P.Carter in his history of the parish and church ofSt Alphage in 1925 and Marjorie Honeybourne in her unpublished thesis of 1929 on the religious houses of London.f There has never been an excavation of the hospital but a standing buildings survey of the remains was done in 1996 and this is reported by Gustav Milne in Excavations at Medieval Cripplegate in the City of London. 33

:~ VCHL, pp.535-37; Religious Houses, pp.165-68.

~ Stow, vol.l, pp.293-95; Milman, pp.53-122. 33 Baddeley, pp.22-31, 200-3; Carter, pp.2-4,64-69; Honeyboume pp.238-45 and 462-65. Milne, pp.103-IIS. 32


Part 1 The Foundation of Elsyngspital Chapter 1 William Elsyng 'In this lane, [Gayspore Lane] at the North end thereof, was of olde time a house of Nunnes, which house being in great decay, William Elsing, Mercer, in the yeare of Christ 1329. the 3. of Edward the 3. began in place thereof the foundation of an Hospitall, for sustentation of 100. blind men, towardes the erection whereof, he gave his two houses in the parishes ofS. Alphage and our blessed Lady in Aldermanbury, near Cripplegate. This house was after called a Priorie or Hospital of St. Mary the Virgin, founded in the year 1332. by W. Elsing, for Canons regular: the which W. became the first Prior there.'


John Stow's account has, as we shall see, a number of inaccuracies, but it serves to introduce William Elsyng, founder of the Hospital of St Mary the Virgin within Cripplegate, which is the subject of this account.

William Elsyng was a London merchant, a mercer. Like so many mercers he came from Norfolk, almost certainly a first generation immigrant. Perhaps one third of London mercers in the early fourteenth century came from Norfolk and the greatest concentration came from Eynsford Hundred, where the village of Elsing lies.2 The family probably fell into that category of 'prosperous peasants and artisans' from 'households producing linen, hemp cloth, worsted and the piece goods made from them' described by Anne Sutton in her study of the mercers.'

There were a number of

brothers and sisters but only William, his brother Richard and his sister Alice are known and all three came to London some time in late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, probably building on family connections." All the family were mercers: William, Richard, William's son and grandson were mercers and both Alice's husbands were mercers. Their name was originally 'Feverer', but like many others at this time they soon became known by their place of origin. S

Stow, vol. I, pp.293-94. Sutton, Mercery, p.SS-S6. 3 Sutton, Mercery, p.S7. 4 Richard's will refers to brothers and sisters in the plural but whether the others were dead or alive is not known, LMA, HR60/93. , LMA, HR58/1. I



William first appears in the records in 1312, when he was already in a position to lend 100 shillings to a fellow mercer, John Mouton." But neither William nor his brother was sufficiently well placed in 1318 to qualify among the 200 citizens of the 'more powerful and better class', who each contributed a soldier for the king, though their brother-in-law, Geoffrey de Brandon, was.7 They do however both appear in the roll for the 1319 lay subsidy: William was assessed for 13s 4d in Cheap Ward and Richard for 3s in Cordwainer Ward. This certainly puts certainly William among the better off citizens, for only 229 out of the 1816 taxed had assessments of 13s 4d upwards.


This tax was a twelfth on moveable goods but multiplying it up almost certainly understates the true position: Anne Sutton comments on the widespread evasion among mercers and uses Richard as an example, contrasting his modest assessment with the £284 worth of goods in his shops at his death thirteen years later." The strength of William's position is confirmed by his standing surety for Richard for 300 marks when he leased a shop in Soper Lane in 1319.10 Alice had done even better for herself: Geoffrey de Brandon, whom she married as his second wife, was one of the wealthier London mercers.


So the Elsyngs were clearly well established in London and had begun to build up considerable wealth. William and Richard both had shops in Soper Lane, the centre of the mercery trade. The first references to these are 1319 for Richard and 1321 for William, but given the positions they had by then reached they were probably established there earlier. William leased a shop for life in the parish of St Pancras Soper Lane from the master ofSt Bartholomew's hospital for 50 shillings a year in 1321.12 He had another two shops in Soper Lane for which he was paying £4 a year in 1325.13 The considerable rent paid on such small shops, measuring only around twelve feet each way, shows how valuable they must have been as a place of business. William was leasing a solar and house above the pair of shops, but he may not have been living there 6 LBB,

p.46 LBE, p.93. 8 Two Early London Subsidy Rolls, ed. E.Ekwall (Lund, 1951), pp.l0S, 266, 290. 9 Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', p.367. The inventory of Richard's shop, TNA,E154/1/18A m.I-2, is described in Sutton, Mercery, pp.82-83, and transcribed in Sutton, Mercery Trade, Appendix 2. 10GL, MS2512111648. II Identified as Brandon's wife in LBE, p.1S0. His first wife Cecilia was alive in 1311, Gazetteer, 105/3. Brandon was assessed in the 1319 subsidy for 27s 9Yzd, Ekwall, Subsidy Rolls, p.298. 12Kerling, p.87. 13 GL, MS2512113037; Gazetteer, 145/25 and 26. 7


for he was now buying property elsewhere. His first purchase was in 1319 when he bought tenements in the parish of All Saints Gracechurch Street.


He still had a

property in this area in 1328 when it was valued at 105 shillings gross. IS But he sold it some time later and ,as it was well to the east of the Mercery, it seems more likely to have been bought as an investment than to have been William's horne."

A more likely

focus of his activities would have been the properties he bought on St Lawrence Lane. These lay in the ward of Cheap, just north of Cheapside and only a short walk from his Soper Lane shops. He already owned two pieces of land here when in May 1320 he bought more land with houses on it from Walter de Cavendish, mercer, next to the land he had already bought. 17 By October he was already building on the land, for he made an agreement to secure rights of entry to his new building.


Two years later he bought

the property adjoining on the north and by 1328 he also owned the two tenements to the south.l" Together these must have made a substantial property: in 1328 two tenements of his in St Lawrence Lane were valued at £15 lOs gross, a considerable sum.20 This investment in property may suggest that he was already then thinking of the endowment of the hospital, for many London merchants kept their wealth in moveables and only towards old age provided an income through property."

William had by then risen in the ranks of the mercers. He was one of nine elected wardens in 1328 (one of the others was John de Orleton, William's sister Alice's second husband, and another Thomas de Cambridge, one of her first husband's executors: London was a very small world), and he was one of the auditors of the city chamberlain's

account in 1328. 22In that year and the following one he was elected one

of the wardens 'to hold court for London citizens at St Giles Fair Winchester', a considerable assignment as Winchester was one of only three fairs of international importance in the country and London sent its own representatives to look after the interests of its citizens.23 By this time William was almost certainly married and maybe

LMA, HR47173 and 74. This is property 40 in Appendix 4. TNA, CI43/201l19. 16 The main centre of the mercers' trade was along West Cheap and down Soper Lane, Sutton, Mercery, p,p.57-62. LMA, HR48/92, property 17 in Appendix 4. 18 TNA, LR14/1165. 19 LMA, HR50/141, property 18 and LMA,HR 56177, property 19 in Appendix 4. 14 IS



Keene, 'Property market', p.220. 22 LBE, pp 150,216 and 232-34. 23 CPMR 1323-64, p.67; LBE, p.239; Sutton, Mercery, pp.33-34. 21


he had become a widower at least once. The only reference to his wives, whom he does not name, is in his will, where he gave full power to his executors to carry out the provisions of his will for the souls of himself and his wives.24 His son Robert refers to his mother in his will, but again there is no name.25Nor did William hold any properties jointly with his wife so presumably none had any property of her own. Maybe the fact that William was a widower several times over (though this was by no means unusual) was to be a factor in his decision to devote himself and his wealth to his hospital. And the total absence of any but these two references (in 1349 and 1350) may suggest that his wives died quite young.

William seems to have had only one child, his son Robert.26 The first references to him are in the 1340s, when he looks already to be an established mercer, for in 1346 he stood surety for merchants of Lucca for a substantial sum.27 He was taking apprentices 28

in 1348.

He died young, in 1350, the year after his father, and his wife Alianora was

already dead. Robert was evidently trading in a substantial way, as he left over £180 of debt to be collected and his goods included cups of silver and a mazer, and gowns.


There is no mention of property other than the 40s rent his father had left him so probably, like so many merchants, his wealth was all moveables. His main concern in his will was with the maintenance and care of his baby son Thomas, who was to be maintained from the profits of £80 left to Robert's ex apprentice John Edmund to trade, keeping half the profits himself. He left custody of his son to Roger de Depham, recorder and common clerk of London, and to his executors, who included his kinsman

24TNA, LRIS/163 copied into the Husting Roll as LMA, HR 76/242. 2sLMA, HR 78/20 I. 26 TNA, LRIS/163. A William de Elsyngjunior appears in the records as a witness from 1330 but there is no evidence that he was the son of either William or Richard, TNA,LRI4/IIS9 and LMA, HRS8/109. It seems likely that he was a close relative however: he was a witness to the will of William Gayton, one of the hospital's benefactors, one of whose executors was our William Elsyng, LMA, HR64/31. One of Richard's three apprentices in 1332 was called William and he had a stepson, William Garton, but the latter was not of age in 1330 and so would be unlikely to be witnessing documents, Sutton Mercery, p.82, LMA, HR60/93. Possibility for confusion with our William Elsyng who is sometimes referred to as 'senior' exists for they are not always separately identifiable. I have only taken references to be to William Elsyng senior where he is so identified or it is likely from the context that it is he. Other mercer Elsyngs listed by Anne Sutton in London during our William's life time but with no known connection with him were Nicholas (though he could possibly have been an ex apprentice of Richard as he had one of that name), another Richard and Isabella and there was also John, the common servant of the Mercers' Company, Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', pp. 406-07 and Mercery, p.89. 27 These merchants were being held by the King in retaliation for the detention of English merchants in Pisa. Robert and a number of others put up 1000 marks to enable the Lucca merchants to go free, repayable ifPisa released their captives CCR 134619 P 136. 28 " • Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', pp.406. 29 LMA, HR781201.


and fellow mercer Jordan de Elsyng, who became Thomas's guardian"

His place of

burial is not specified but it was probably either in his parish church of St Lawrence Jewry or his father's hospital, to which he left £12 for a chantry for three priests for a year. In the event of Thomas's death, the money that had been left to him was to go, not to the hospital, but to a number of other houses, for example to the Friars Minor and the Carmelites. Perhaps he thought Elsyngspital was already well enough provided for by his father: at all events Elsyngspital was clearly not the sole object of his devotions.

William's brother Richard died in 1332, leaving a widow, Sabina, but no children of his own. He was a wealthy man, for as well as the £284 worth of goods in his shops already mentioned there were debts owed to him of well over £200.31 He left his wife £60 and his property in the Poultry for her lifetime or until she remarried.


and his

other property eventually came to Elsyngspital, for as we shall see later he was a substantial benefactor to the hospital, the only one of William Elsyng's family to be so. William's sister Alice was also a widow by 1322: William was one of Geoffrey de Brandon's executors.P Alice remarried, to John de Orleton another mercer." In the 1340s she was using the Brandon name and seems to have been wealthy in her own right: in 1346, as one of the citizens with chattels over £ 10, she was assessed at 40s in the range 20s to £10 for the loan to the king and she was buying property in 1345 and 35


She died in the Black Death, in 1349, leaving her dwelling house to Jordan de

Elsyng, who was to be Robert de Elsyng's executor and his son Thomas's guardian.


There is no evidence of any children of her own, nor of any benefactions to her brother's hospital. William himself died that same year: his will was made on 23 March 1349 and probate was granted on 3 April. 37

London, pp.356 and 364; LBG, p.18. Jordan was among the wealthiest merchants: his assessment in the 1346 gift to the king from those with chattels over £ 10 was £7 in the range 20s to £ 10, LMA, LBF, f.cxxib, calendared in LBF, p.144. 31 Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', p.65, drawing on TNA, E154/1118A, m.ld, 32 LMA, HR60/93. For discussion of Richard's benefactions to the hospital, see Chapter 3. 33 L BE, p.150. 34 LBE, p.168. 3S LMA, LBF, f.cxxiib, calendared in LBF, p.l47; LMA, HR72/40 and 73122. The first purchase was from Geoffrey's son Thomas, of properties which he had inherited from his father, and there were no fewer than three Elsyngs among the witnesses, William, Robert and Jordan. The property is 10513 in Gazetteer. 36 LMA, HR 771215. 37 TNA, LR15/163. 30


This brief description of the families of William, Richard and Alice brings home very clearly how death disrupted family lives at this time. William and Alice married at least twice and both Richard and Alice's spouses had been married before. Both of them had stepchildren, but between the three of them there seems to have been only one surviving adult child of their own, Robert, William's son.38 This is a striking example of the problems London merchants had in sustaining the family through several generations so graphically described by Sylvia Thrupp.39 Striking too are the swathes the Black Death cut through the family, William, Alice and Robert all dying within a couple of years.

But there is nothing remarkable about this story so far: it could probably be reproduced many times among the immigrant families of London. Nothing here to explain why in 1327, the year before William was elected warden of the mercers, he should have taken the first recorded steps towards the foundation of the hospital which was eventually to bear his name. The usual course for the successful and ambitious merchant would be to take part in city government, becoming sheriff perhaps or alderman or even mayor. Twenty mercers became aldermen in the period 1300 to 1350 and there were four mercer mayors between 1340 and 1348.40 Richard de Lacer, for example, a mercer and parishioner of St Alphage or St Mary Aldermanbury and quite frequently witness to William's transactions, became sheriff in 1329-30, member of Parliament for London in 1335, an alderman from 1334 to 1357 and mayor in 1345-6. 41Roger de Forsham, whose executor William was, was also a member of Parliament in 1335, sheriffin 133940 and alderman from 1338-43.42 Or William might have concentrated on his business career, taking the lead among mercers in commercial negotiations, or taking office with the Crown. John Pyel and Adam Fraunceys, both immigrant mercers, became involved in large scale loans to the king and received royal appointments, enabling them to

E. Ekwall, Studies in the Population of Medieval London (Lund, 1956), p.53 speculates that Jordan may have been Richard's son but produces no evidence. Alice in her will refers to him as 'nepos'. probably 'kinsman', LMA,HR 77/215. 39Thrupp,pp.191-206 and 223. Interestingly Thrupp herself takes William's family as an example of one which did sustain itselfacross several generations. But this is because she looks only at William's direct line, where most of the span of 120 years is accounted for by his grandson Thomas's extreme longevity. 40 41 Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', pp.356-57. 42 London, pp.328, 330; Beaven, vol.l, p. 384. London, p.329; Beaven, vol. I p. 385. 38


purchase large rural estates." Sir John Pulteney, a draper and mayor four times in the 1330's, had by his death acquired twenty-three manors in five counties."

William Elsyng did none of these things. He seems to have taken relatively little part in city office: he never became a sheriff, alderman or mayor. Nor did he become a member of Parliament; he never featured in any business or diplomatic missions, he held no royal appointments, and there is no record of his buying land outside the city. Instead he chose to found a hospital. Plenty of others gave money for charitable works, which might crown a distinguished civic and mercantile career, as they did for another mercer Richard Whittington a hundred years later. But William's enterprise was of a different nature. He could have supported existing hospitals if that was his interest with much less trouble or simply left instructions in his will for others to take forward. But he chose to found a new hospital, his own hospital, and to undertake himself the arduous and expensive business of setting up a large new institution.

The hospital appears to have been the entire focus of William Elsyng's charitable work: there are no references to any other charitable giving. And he was clearly far more involved with the day to day work of the hospital than the title of 'founder', which contemporaries usually used to describe him, would imply. Of course, as most founders did, he had to take all the steps to get official clearance for the hospital and he clearly used a lot of his own money to endow it. But, as we shall see, he was also very actively involved in raising funds from others and planning the hospital's property portfolio.Y And it seems likely that he was actually in charge of the operation of the hospital, at any rate for some of the twenty years during which he was associated with it. He was sometimes referred to in contemporary documents as 'custos' or warden and as we have seen Stow even claimed that he was prior after the hospital was converted into an Augustinian priory. 46 There is no other evidence of that however: he is never so referred to in contemporary documents and in his will describes himself as citizen and

S. O'Connor, •Adam Fraunceys and John Pyel: Perceptions of status among merchants in fourteenth century London' in eds Dorothy J. Clayton, Richard G. Davies and Peter McNiven, Trade, Devotion and ~overnance(Stroud, 1994), pp. 17-35. London. pp. 328-29; Thrupp, p.12} 4' See Chapter 3. . 46 Stow, vol.l, p.294. 43


mercer." But, apart from the very early years of the hospital, no one else emerges as being in charge, so the likelihood is that in practice William himself ran the hospital.

So William Elsyng clearly was an unusual man, even in a very pious age. His seal, attached to one of the founding charters in 1331 (see Figure 2), shows a shield displaying the crucified Christ with an angel on each side facing inwards, holding the instruments of passion, the hammer and nails on the left and the spear and crown of thorns on the right.


Below is a kneeling figure, presumably William himself, and

above a sword. The instruments of passion are particularly interesting in view of their association with hospitals. The passion was linked to medicine through the crucifixion when Christ placed himself in the hands of the surgeon and the blood flowed to heal mankind: the fourteenth century ceiling of St Giles Hospital in Norwich shows the instruments of passion on three of its panels.49 William's close identificati~n with his foundation can be seen in the inclusion of the shield from William's own personal seal on the seal of the hospital (see Figure 3).50 This very unusual seal for a layman suggests great piety, and William used it throughout his life: there are other examples from 1339 and 1348.51

But alongside his great project, which was to occupy him for the last twenty years of his life, William seems to have carried on the ordinary business of a London citizen, and the references to him are in no way remarkable.


It seems likely that he continued to

trade as a mercer, if only to finance the endowment he gradually built up for the hospital. He was assessed for the 1332 lay subsidy for 13s 4d, the same amount as in 1319, though as this subsidy was for fifteenths it represents greater wealth: again William is among the better offbut not among the very rich.53 He does not appear at all

TNA, LR15/163. BL, CCv2. The legend is JESUS NAZRENUS REX IUDAEORUM, Birch, vol.2, p.760. I am indebted to Dr. Elizabeth New for her assistance over these seals. 49 Rawcliffe, pp.l18, 128 so Described in detail in VCHL. p.537. 51 1339 TNA, LR 14/485; 1349 GL, MS 25121148. 52There may well be rather more references to him than are included here, but as indicated above I have taken only those where William Elsyng senior is stated or can be reasonably inferred. For example a William de Elsynge was assessed at 100s in the 1346 gift to the king, in the range 20s to £10 but there is no indication which William this is ' LMA , LBF f.cxxib calendared in LBF. p.l45. S3 • , 'The London Lay Subsidy of 1332', ed. M. Curtis, ined. G.Unwin, Finance and Trade under Edward III (London, 1918), p.72. Thrupp says that this subsidy is a less good guide to wealth than that of 1319 : seven aldermen managed to pay nothing in 1332, p.l15. 47



in the list of wealthy citizens making a loan to the King in 1339-40.54 Maybe he was excused because of his charitable activities or perhaps by then his trading activities had declined. There are occasional references to him taking part in the business of the city: with his kinsman Jordan de Elsyng he was one of the 'best men' appointed to organise the defence of Cheap ward against invasion in 1338 and in 1342 he was one of the Cheap ward assessors for a loan to the King.55He occasionally appeared as a witness to a property transaction, for example, in 1347 the sale by his fellow mercer, Roger de Forsham, of shops in Soper Lane to the Dean ofSt Paul's.56And he was sued in the court of Common Pleas from time to time, usually for dower, arising no doubt from his property interests. 57In 1337 he was executor to William Gayton, a benefactor of the hospital and in 1348, not long before William's own death, to Roger de Forsham, also a benefactor. 58

The last certain reference to William before hisdeath is the revocation in October 1348 of letters patent granting protection to him going abroad in the company of Henry Duke of Lancaster, because he was no longer going.59 The projected journey is the only reference to William going abroad and he must by now have been at least in his fifties. Lancaster was already abroad, having drawn up a truce with the French at the beginning of September and having been appointed Lieutenant in Flanders at the end of the month. Envoys, of whom Lancaster was one, were to treat for a more permanent peace which was achieved towards the end of the year and he returned to England in December. 60 Was William somehow connected with this enterprise? It seems rather unlikely that at this stage in his life, and with his commitment to the hospital, he was getting involved in royal business, nor has there ever been any reference to his going abroad on business of the mercers. Perhaps there may have been a personal connection with Lancaster himself. William and he were both very pious men of the world and Lancaster, like William, was to found a hospital. His father, who was to go blind, had founded the hospital of St Mary in the Newarke in Leicester in 1330-31, the same year as William founded his."

LBF, p.4S. ss LBF, p.21; CPMR S4

132J-64,p.200. LMA, HR 74/87. S? An example of dower plea is LMA, CP064125E . S8 LMA, HR 64/31, HR 75/132. s9TN A, C66/226/m.3S calendared in CPR /348-50, p.182. 60 Fowler, pp.71-80 610DNB, Scott L. Waugh, 'Henry of Lancaster, third earl of Lancaster and third earl of Leicester (c.12801345)" article 12959, accessed 8 January 2009; Thompson, p.13. 56


In the early 1350s the Duke of Lancaster was to refound it as a college of secular canons, accommodating

100 poor folk. The similarity to William's ideas is striking and

both were unusual for their time. Lancaster would have had London connections for he held the manor of the Savoy and supported the church of St Mary le Strand and might well have heard of the new hospital.62 Newarke was to be a much grander enterprise than William's hospital, but he might still have wanted to meet the founder. Something evidently intervened to prevent the journey and six months later William was dead, probably a victim of the Black Death.

William's will was drawn up at the hospital.


He left his son Robert a tenement in St

Botolph without Aldersgate, forty shillings a year quitrent from Nicholas Reygate's property in S1. Lawrence Jewry and six and a half marks yearly rent which Nicholas still owed for the outstanding term.


Apart from this, William left all his property to the

hospital. He also gave his final instructions about how the hospital was to be run. Although Robert was appointed one of the executors, the probated copy of the will records that he refused to act. Maybe he had himself fallen ill (he died the following year) and felt unable to take on the onerous tasks placed on the executors, which involved temporary supervision of the hospital as well as dealing with the bequests.6s The other executors were Hugh atte Boure, a warden of the Mercers' Company in 1348, Nicholas Waleys, Giles Raven (known as Spencer), another mercer and John de

Fowler, pp.188-89. There is a remote possibility also ofa Norfolk connection. In 1319 Thomas earl of Lancaster, Henry's uncle, was enfeoffed by the earl of Surrey ofa number of manors and knight's fees including the manor of Elsing from which William came, CPR 1317-21, p.264, and there is an image of Henry of Lancaster on the brass of Sir Hugh Hastings in the church there, ODNB. W.M.Ormrod, 'Henry of Lancaster, first duke of Lancaster (c.1310-1361)', article 12960 accessed 9August, 2008. Clay speculates that the connection between William and Henry of Lancaster was that Henry's hospital inspired William but the dates do not support that, for William's hospital was founded at the same time as that of Henry's father and the Duke's refoundation was twenty years later, Clay, p.82. 63 TNA, LR15/163, translated at Appendix 1. This is the original copy of the will which was enrolled on 4 May 1349 in the Husting, LMA, HR76/242. The Husting copy excludes some of the formal clauses to be found in the original will. 64 Robert left the quitrent to his son Thomas, LMA, HR 78/20 I. William had bought the quitrents in 1345 and 1347, property 24 in Appendix 4. The property in St Botolph without Aldersgate, property 39 in Appendix 4, had been left to the hospital by William Gayton but William Elsyng appeared to make no distinction between his own property and that of the hospital. 65 The will was made on 23 March and the annotation is dated 3 April, so the change must have been pretty sudden if that was the reason. On the other hand Robert did on that same day give £20 to his ex apprentice John Edmund as part of an arrangement under which John was to trade and keep Robert's son Thomas after his death, LMA, HR 781201. So perhaps some accident or illness had suddenly occurred which was to lead to his death the following year and prevented him carrying out his father's wishes. The alternative explanation is that he was simply not prepared to do so, but that seems less likely, since refusing a father's dying wish would be a grave step. 62


Grenestede who is described as William's servant."

William himself was buried in his

hospital, which had taken up so much of his life.67

It was not until after William's death that the hospital began to be known by his name.

In the founding deeds it is simply referred to as a hospital in honour of the Virgin Mary or as the new hospital within Cripplegate."

It soon began to be called the hospital of St

Mary within Cripplegate.F' The dedication to Mary was quite common in hospitals, with the imagery of Christ as the physician and Mary as the nurse, but it was also linked to the local church, which belonged to the hospital, of St Mary Aldermanbury."

Indeed a

few formal documents refer to 'the hospital of the blessed Mary Aldermanbury', that was the formal title it does not seem to have taken hold.


but if

After William's death his

name began to creep into the title: the first reference is so ' Elsingspitele infra Crepulgate' in 1355.


Often in the later fourteenth century it was called 'St Mary

Elsyng' or 'St Mary Elsyngspital' but eventually the references to St Mary became less common and 'Elsyngspital' was the usual phrase and used as the title at the Dissolution.P Was this just a convenient way of distinguishing between the three London hospitals dedicated to St Mary, or was there perhaps some continuing connection with the Elsyngs, or did it simply reflect a tribute and memorial to an exceptional and dedicated man?

Sutton, Mercery, pp. 88, 555. 67There is nothing in the will about burial. But in 1361 John Brian, parish clerk of St. Mary Aldermanbury, asked in his will to be buried in the hospital near the tomb of the founder, LMA, HR 89/99. 68 See for example, BL, CCv2 and LMA, HRS8/121. 69See for example LMA,HR60/93(133 I). 70Rawcliffe, p.104 71 See for example in 1334 TNA, C 143/23113, (a mortmain licence). There is one early reference, in 1331, to 'Elsyng Spital' in CPR /330-4 p.173, the King's confirmation of the founding charter, but this has been inserted by the author of the calendar. The original reproduces the founding charter as approved by the king in full, with the usual description of the hospital as St. Mary within Cripplegate, TNA, C66/176 mt,. 72LMA, HR83121. 73See for example GL, MS917113f.274; TNA, LR, 14/92; TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2424 and 2345. 66


Chapter 2 The process of foundation In 1327 William Elsyng took the first recorded steps towards founding his hospital. He was embarking on a venture which would absorb his energies and most of his wealth for the rest of his life. Purchasing property, carrying out the necessary building and opening it to the poor and infirm was just the start. Although there were no restrictions on setting up a hospital as such, and small hospitals could be set up easily, especially if they had no endowment or clergy, establishing a large hospital of the kind William had in mind, with a college of priests and a chapel, turned out to be a long and complex process.



licence from the king had been required to give property to an institution of this kind since the statute of mortmain in 1279.2 Ifreligious services were to be held the hospital would be taking money from local parishes, so settlement with them had to be reached and a licence secured from the bishop.' If the foundation was to last beyond the founder's lifetime, he had to make arrangements for someone else to take over responsibility for the patronage and protection of the institution. He had to provide sufficient endowment for the hospital to have an income to fund its work. And he needed to spell out what his purpose for the hospital was and to lay down how he wanted it to operate and the rule he wanted it to follow. This was of great importance for hospitals for, unlike religious houses which had their own rule, how a hospital operated was entirely dependant on the purposes of the founder and it was his intentions that would be the point of reference after his death."

There is no single document which defines the foundation of Elsyngspital: the founding charters (there is not one definitive version) have to be considered with William's will and other supporting documents to build up the full picture. The full list of documents involved is calendared in Appendix 2. They are listed by date and all of the documents in this chapter not otherwise referenced can be found there under their date. The five versions of the 1330-31 founding charter are calendared in more detail in Appendix 3. A translation of William Elsyng's will is provided in Appendix 1. This chapter considers

I See Onne and Webster, pp.37-39, for the general ease of setting up hospitals, in contrast to Elsyngspital. : See Chapter 3 for a discussion of the statute of mortmain. Onne and Webster, p.88. 4 See Watson, who argues the case, though from a slightly earlier period, for the difference in this respect between hospitals and other religious houses, summarised in pp.25-27.


the process of foundation, apart from the acquisition of the endowment which is dealt with in Chapter 3.

Acquiring the site and building the hospital On 14 July 1327 William Elsyng bought land with houses on it in Philip Lane, just south and east of Cripple gate from a clerk, Ralph de Wyndesore.

The lane no longer

exists, but it ran south from the road inside the wall of London parallel to and east of Wood Street, as shown in the map of the neighbourhood at Figure 4 and of the site of the hospital at Figure 6. On 1 May 1328 he bought more land with houses from Thomas atte Gatte, opposite the wall itself, and north of tenements he already owned, which may have been those in Philip Lane. On 31 October 1329 he bought some land, probably on the west side of Gayspore Lane (now Aldermanbury),

south and east of tenements he

already owned and by 25 March 1330 he was in possession of another piece of land in a similar situation.' Then on 9 September 1330 he bought a garden and a tenement from Henry de Bedyk, on the comer of Gayspore Lane adjacent to tenements he already owned to the south and west.

On 26 November 1330 there is a description of the properties then in William's possession in which he was founding the hospital, which are likely to have included these. They occupied nearly the whole of the frontage onto the road facing London wall between Philip Lane and Gayspore Lane. Starting in the west, presumably on the comer of Philip Lane, in the parish of St Alphage, were the property once Edmund de Wyndesore's, (acquired from Ralph de Wyndesore, see above and Appendix 2), then one which had belonged to John Johan, tiler and then Thomas de Gatte's tenement referred to above. Then there was a gap in the form of a tenement which had once belonged to William de Horsham and which William Elsyng did not own and then, further east, lay the properties in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury, the garden which had belonged to Henry de Bedyk (there is no mention of the tenement, see above) and two shops, one which had once belonged to Ralph de Bedel and the other which had once belonged to Nicholas le Girdler. This second group of properties extended to the comer of Gayspore Lane and some way down it. No record has been found of the

, It is possible that this second piece ofland included the first, which was about half the size, see Appendix 2.


purchase of the two shops, nor of the property of John Johan, but they were clearly all in William's possession," The hospital may well at this stage not have stretched as far to the south as is shown in Figure 4, which represents it in the early sixteenth century. But the space along the wall frontage, where the tenement once William de Horsham's lay, was probably filled on 20 July 1339, when the hospital bought from Thomas de Maryns a property described as opposite the wall and surrounded by the hospital on the other three sides.7

Once the land had been purchased, William would have had to adapt existing buildings or build new ones to make them suitable for a hospital and a chapel. The likelihood is that on the edge of the city the land was not heavily built up and there are references to gardens and an orchard. On 21 July 1329 William was said to have begun to build some houses into one house, and in November to have felled an orchard in order to build the house of the hospital. He was also said to have built an oratory with bells so the church must have been sufficiently complete to house bells.8 A reference on 20 August 1329 looks as though the building was rather more radical 'de novo cepit edificare et construere'. By 25 March 1330 at least some building seems to have been completed as the pluperfect tense 'construxerat'

is used and later documents refer to the hospital as

newly built. The founding deed of 15 August 1330 refers to the chapel, to the place where the sick lay, to a refectory and to a common dormitory, so buildings must have been designated or built anew for these purposes. By then too the hospital was already in use: there are references to thirty two poor infirm living there and to a warden having been appointed."

The likelihood is that William had built fairly quickly in wood, making use of some of the existing buildings. But at some point William began to build again in stone. Those buildings were unfinished at his death: his will refers to his having begun to build in his

This meticulous account from the report of the bishop's inquest into the effect of the building of the hospital on the neighbouring parishes may have been due to a dispute about which property fell in which farish, see below. Maryns was one of the wardens of the apothecaries in 1328 and city chamberlain in 1336, LBE, p.232, London, p.361. 8 For both references see Appendix 2, document of26 November 1330. 'Bells played a prominent part in the ceremonial life of the hospital, welcoming important visitors and tolling the exequies of the dead.' Rawcliffe, p.122. 9 Appendix 3, version A. 6


tenements a house of stone and a hospital ('elemosinariam')

and a church.


We know

also that there was a cemetery lying next to the chapel for which William obtained permission from the bishop of London on 16 November 1335. This would have been an important addition to the hospital: it needed somewhere to bury its own dead, but useful revenue could also be derived from burying benefactors and others. Indeed the permission may have been given earlier and this deed may be a reaffirmation only, for the new rector of St Alphage, in accepting the hospital's privileges in a deed dated 10 November, six days earlier than this, specifically refers to the cemetery.

William's choice of location may have been partly dictated by where he had the opportunity to buy property at a reasonable price to produce a site large enough for a hospital, and this would be most likely to be on the edge or beyond the walls of the city. The older London hospitals were mostly outside the walls, for example St Mary Bethlehem, St Mary without Bishopsgate and St Bartholomew were all just to the north of London beyond the city wall. Property was probably cheaper there, any nuisance or health risk would be less than in the busy centre and pilgrims and travellers could stay on their way to the city. But it was also common for hospitals to be built on sites within city defences, but in areas essentially suburban or at least not yet very built up: St John's Cambridge, for example, lay within the city walls.


Stow says that Elsyngspital

was founded on a site where there was once a house of nuns' in great decay' .12 There is no such reference in the numerous property deeds for the area, but old religious sites were sometimes sought out for new foundations, even if dissolved or decayed, perhaps because there was local tradition to build on, or simply the availability of open land. 13And there is some possible archaeological evidence of an older building in the standing remains of the hospiral." The choice of site may also have been related to the two local churches, St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury, both of which, as will be shown later, were to have connections to the hospital. The location was of course also very convenient for William since it was not far from his property in St Lawrence Lane and his shops in Soper Lane.

10 Appendix

1. See Chapter 5 for what is known of the hospital's buildings. Rubin, pp.106-7. For a discussion of the factors involved in the siting of hospitals see Orme and Webster, pp.41-48. 12 S tow, vol.1, pp.293-94. 13R osenthal, p.56. 14 Milne, pp.I08-09. But the evidence could also be interpreted as some rebuilding ofElsyngspital, see Chapter 5. 11


Securing a licence from the king William Elsyng could buy land, build and start bringing people into his hospital, but he could not give the property to the hospital permanently without a mortmain licence from the king.


On 30 November 1328 the king ordered the mayor of London, as escheator,

to carry out an inquisition into William's proposal to give his houses in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury to one hundred blind people, who were to live there.16The purpose of the inquisition was to ensure that the king's interests were not damaged and that the donor still had sufficient resources to fulfil his obligations. The inquisition was held on 5 December 1328 and on 4 February 1329 the king issued a licence for a hospital with an oratory for one hundred blind people. The inquisition had established the value of the properties as 25s gross per annum, but they were heavily encumbered with quitrents. This low valuation must reflect the low value of land on the outskirts of London and perhaps the fact that it was not yet much built up. It is not clear 'from the inquisition exactly which properties were covered: by that stage the only properties in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury William' was known to have acquired were those bought from Ralph de Wyndesore and Thomas atte Gatte, but it may be that some of the others referred to above as going to make up the hospital were already in his possession, in particular that bought from Henry de Bedyk where the purchase on 9 September 1330 may have been a second attempt following a law suit. 17 No other mortmain application is known for the other properties purchased in 1329 and 1330, which left them uncovered and could have risked their confiscation. The hospital did acquire a general mortmain licence on 26 October 1331, but an application had still to be made for each property individually and the only one known to have been made for these properties was for the Maryns property purchased on 20 July 1339.18 It was said to be being held without licence, but one was granted on 24 October 1339.

The jurors summoned for the inquisition held by John de Grantham, the mayor, included a number of names which crop up frequently in William's story, all parishioners of the two parishes ofSt Alphage and St Mary Aldermanburyr'"

Peter Ie

For a discussion of mortmain see Chapter 3. The escheator was a royal official and in London was the mayor, London, pp.153-54. 17 See Appendix 2. 18 See Chapter 3 for discussion of general licences. 19 John de Grantham, pepperer, mayor 1328-9, Lond~n, p.328. The parishioners are identified as such in the report of the inquest, TNA, E135/12/67. 15



Peyntour, who owned a tenement in Philip Lane and was witness to over twenty documents concerning William's affairs in Cripplegate Ward over the next fifteen years;20 William Godale, another regular witness, but not over so long a period; Saloman Ie Coffrer, a warden of the cofferers in 1328 who owned a tenement near William's property in St Lawrence Lane;21 John de Aylsham, a warden of the mercers with William in 1328 who was eventually to become a benefactor."

John de Dallyng,

another warden of mercers in 1328.13 They must all have been well known to William as neighbours and men with whom he had business dealings and they must over the years have become very familiar with the hospital and well aware of what William was trying to achieve there. Their support may have helped to smooth William's path in setting up the hospital. Getting the agreement and support of the church The next stage was to get the agreement of the church to the enterprise, namely the parishioners, their rectors, the authorities at St Paul's and the bishop of London." The founding of a new religious institution would affect the revenues of neighbouring churches as it could be exempt from tithes and, if given the right to give the sacraments, would also attract any fees that went with them as well as diverting the donations of the faithful." Financial recompense would be needed and the first step was the commissioning in July 1329 by Stephen Gravesend, bishop of London, of an inquiry into the establishment of the hospital and to assess the damage it could do to the neighbouring parishes. What followed was protracted and complicated. The story has been pieced together from a number of documents and especially from the three documents which specifically describe the events, produced on 26 November, 1 December and 22 December 1330, each of which encompasses a number of other documents. All record the bishop's agreement for the hospital to be established, but they supply different parts of the story.



LMA, HR72/42. LBE, p.233; LMA, HR48/92.

22 There were two mercers of this name, both wardens of mercers in 1328 LBE, p.232. It was the elder, an alderman and sheriff, who was the benefactor of Elsyngspital and that connection suggests that it might ~e he who was on the jury, LMA, HR 72/118; Sutton, 'Mercery Trade' ,p.403; Beaven, p.389. LBE, p.232. 24 Although St. Martin le Grand held the advowson ofSt. Alphage, Religious Houses, p.205, it is nowhere mentioned in the documents. Perhaps if no question of appropriation arose the patrons would not have been concerned. 2S See Rubin, pp.104-5.


On 21 July 1329 the bishop of London issued an instruction to his official to conduct an inquiry into the establishment of the hospital. The official was to inquire into the effect on all parishes, but especially the two parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury."

The date was fixed for the hearing on 3 October, perhaps deliberately

far ahead as there was business to be done in the meantime.27 On 20 August 1329 William reached an agreement with the rector of St. Alphage about compensation. The rector and parishioners freed the hospital and its tenements and occupants of all charges and contributions in perpetuity. In return William was to give 40d a year at Michaelmas to the rector in lieu of tithes from the tenement in the parish which had once belonged to John de Wyndesore and 40d annually to the parishioners from the same tenement for the work of the parish and 5s annually for a lamp in the church.28 It looked as though William had fairly quickly been able to reach agreement with the main parish affected by the proposed foundation of the hospital. But clearly all was not well because 3 October, the date fixed for the hearing, passed without a result, 'ipsa dies periit sine fructu': whether the jury gathered and could not agree, or the hearing was abandoned, is not clear." It seems possible that the problem lay with property in the other parish, St Mary Aldermanbury. The care taken later in the report of the inquisition to spell out which property fell in which parish, and the fact that the boundary between the two parishes they settled on fell, not on the natural dividing line of Gayspore Lane as shown in later maps, but west of it, are indications that there might have been a problem here.3o Not much of the hospital fell in St Mary Aldermanbury, probably just a small slice down Gayspore Lane, so perhaps William underestimated the problems that might ensue. However on 25 March 1330 he did reach an agreement with William de Wyppyngham rector of St Mary Aldermanbury for a payment of 6d a year in lieu of tithes, apparently due only on a small area of the land he had bought for the hospital on Gayspore Lane. Then on 9 September 1330 came the purchase from Henry de Bedyk of the tenement and garden on the comer of Gayspore Lane, described as lying in both parishes. If this really was the first purchase of this property which was needed to

26 The bishop's commission is rehearsed in all three documents, TNA, EI35/21/7, LR, 14/113 and GL, MS 2512111296. 27 This appears only in TNA, LRI4/113. 28 The new rector ofSt Alphage who took up the living in1335 formally accepted these privileges on 10 November 1335. 29 This appears only in TNA, LR14/113. 30 See M.D. Lobel, ed. The British Atlas of Historic Towns: The City of London from Prehistoric times to c. J 520 (Oxford, 1989), 'The Parishes c.l 520'.


complete the site of the hospital then that would also explain the delay."

So perhaps all

this unfinished business needed to be concluded before the ecclesiastical formalities could be completed.

It was not until 26 November 1330 that a fresh hearing was arranged. This time the bishop's official asked William de Kent, an official of St Paul's, the patrons of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, to conduct the inquiry, and it seems to have gone without a hitch.32 The jurors of course included many neighbours and supporters, for example Peter le Peyntour, William Godale and John de Dallyng already mentioned, and also Richard de Lacer, mercer, sheriff and later mayor, John de Shirbourne, deputy coroner of the city 1325-41 and common clerk in 1335 who had many later business dealings with William, and John Braz, a substantial benefactor of the hospital."


report of the inquisition set out the agreements William had already reached, but provides more detail.'" For St Alphage, the 40d annually William had agreed to pay to the rector was in compensation for three things: for the tithes which would have been paid on the produce of the orchard which William had felled to build the hospital, for the impact on the church revenues of the oratory with bells William had built within the hospital, where he intended to have chaplains celebrating services, and for the loss of tithes on the other properties he had incorporated within the new building." had also contributed to the parishioners'

The tithes

expenses in repairing and roofing the church

and for ornaments in the church: the second 40d per annum William had agreed to pay was for this. Finally the 5s annually to provide for a lamp was an obligation which had rested on the tenement of Thomas atte Gatte, which had become part of the hospital. This is all as described in the agreement William had reached with the parish of St Alphage on 20 August 1329. The amount for St Mary Aldermanbury was 6d annually for tithes and oblations. This was the amount specified in the agreement William had reached with the rector on 25 March 1330, despite the fact that that referred only to one small piece of land, whereas it is clear from the inquest that in addition Henry Bedyk's

As might also the doubt about its ownership, see Appendix 2 and above. William of Kent is referred to only in TNA, LR14/113. The date of the hearing is also provided there and in TNA, E13512117. 33 The names are given in TNA, LRI4/113 and E135/2117. For Shirboume see London, pp.364, 373. 34TNA, E135/2117 gives all the detail'' GL , MS25121/1296 has some. II The most common fruit to be grown in the orchard, and the cheapest, would have been apples. But other fruit were also grown in London: pears, cherries, plums, see Christopher Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London, 1994, paperback edition, 2000), pp. 113-31. 31



garden and two shops were in this parish.


In return the inhabitants of the hospital

were to be exempt from tithes, the hospital could accept and keep offerings made in the church and its chaplains could perform the sacraments.

This protracted inquiry was primarily designed to ensure that the correct financial compensation was paid to the churches affected by the hospital's need to hold services and to enjoy freedom from tithes, and the importance of getting this right is borne out by the lawsuits with St Alphage in which the hospital subsequently became engaged and in which some of these documents were cited." But it does not seem to have held up the approval given by the bishop in other respects. As early as 15 January 1330 he is cited as having given approval to the hospital and in the first founding charter on 15 August 1330 he offered forty days indulgence in return for contributions to the good work of the hospital. Such indulgences were often given to hospitals and they were an important part of fundraising: for example those who assisted with the foundation of St Giles in Norwich in the mid thirteenth century were also granted forty days indulgence."


Elsyngspital forty days indulgence was repeated at the end of the bishop's assent to the outcome of the inquest, and in all versions of the foundation charter which include the bishop's approvalr" At the dedication of the hospital at the end of 1331, the indulgence was elaborated and extended to include all who came to the chapel on the festivals of the Virgin and their octaves and on the anniversary of the hospital's dedication (2 November) and its octaves. Those who provided lamps and ornaments were to have forty days, and those who attended the dedication itself a whole year.40 All this would have helped to get the funds flowing to help with the work and endowment of the hospital.

Securing the backing of the City authorities William also took steps to secure the support of the authorities in the city of London. Strictly speaking he did not need the consent of the mayor and aldermen in the same way as he had to have permission from the king and the church. But he may have thought it politic to have their approval to a large new institution being built in the city, See above. See Chapter 6. :: Rawcliffe, p.13 and see Orme and Webster, pp.97-98. See Appendix 3. 40 Reading, pp. 6-7. 36



especially as he was, on 15 August 1330, to request them to be responsible for appointing the warden after his death. 41At all events on 15 January 1330 William secured a deed from the mayor, by then Simon de Swanlond, and the aldermen and commonalty of London ratifying and approving the steps he had taken to set up the hospital. The document also records that William had by that stage a licence from the king (presumably the mortmain licence), the confirmation of the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's (though the inquest had not yet reported) and the consent of the rector and parishioners ofSt Alphage (presumably the August 1329 agreement).

The founding charters Having taken steps to secure the necessary permissions, William was ready to set out the arrangements for the hospital in a single document or founding charter, the nearest the hospital comes to having statutes. In it he described how he had founded a college of four priests and a warden and a hospital for 'miserabiles personae', set out the parishes in which the property he had given the hospital lay, the authorities who had approved the hospital, the arrangements for appointments and patronage and the rules by which its inhabitants should live. Early hospitals often had little by way of statutes or rules. Those that did were often houses established by bishops, for example St Giles in Norwich, established by Bishop Suffield in the mid thirteenth century.Vl.ater statutes for almshouses could go into great detail, setting out precisely how the inhabitants should behave and what prayers should be said, for example in the case of Whittington's Almshouse, founded in1424.43 Watson found in her survey of the statutes of English hospitals that the two earliest examples of detailed statutes drawn up by a non-royal lay person were those of Elsyngspital in 1330 and those of the Earl of Lancaster for St Mary in Newarke in 1331.44 Many of William's provisions cover similar ground to those in earlier bishops' charters for hospitals, suggesting that he must have had advice from someone who had seen other charters and this would not be unusual: statutes often showed similarities and Watson provides evidence of the sharing of ideas although not

This did not in fact happen, as this deed was superseded see below. Watson, pp. 245-47. Suffield's statutes are translated in Rawcliffe, pp.241-48 43 Jean Imray, The Charity of Richard Whittington, (London, 1968), Appendix I, pp.107-21. 44 Watson, p.282. The Newarke statutes are described in Thompson, pp.14-20. 41




The most likely source would be the church, perhaps from the bishop of

London's officials, or may be from one of the canons ofSt Paul's with whom William was acquainted. Roger de Waltham, canon of St Paul's from 1309, owned William's shop in Soper Lane and made it over to St Paul's in 1325 to support a chantry there for himself and Antony Bek, bishop of Durham, his former patron." William also set up a chantry in the hospital for Bek in his will and it seems likely that the connection was through de Waltham. As a clerk in Antony Bek's household and later as Bek's chancellor, Waltham may well have had access to statutes of hospitals founded by the bishops of Durham: Sherburn hospital had very detailed early statutes and the statutes of the hospital at Greatham were rewritten by Bek in 1303 at a time when Waltham would have been in his household. 47There is no suggestion that these were direct models, but they would show the kind of areas which needed to be covered.

The five charters There are five separate versions of the founding charter. Appendix 3 calendars the text of the first, that sealed on 15 August 1330 (version A), and shows how the other four, all sealed on 1 June 1331(versions B-E), differ from it.48 Only one, version B, is a sealed original: it belonged to St Paul's. Two (versions A and D) are copies in the Patent Rolls, one is a copy made for St Paul's (version E) and one version, C, is known only in an eighteenth century transcription, although the original probably belonged to the hospital. Version A formed the model for B to E and was clearly overtaken by the charter of 1 June 1331. Although there are significant differences between the versions, they are restricted to issues about the governance and appointments: the larger part of the charter which contains provisions about how the warden, priests and inmates should behave is virtually the same in all versions. Version A is said to be sealed by William Elsyng, witnessed by the officers and citizens of London and confirmed by the king in addition to the bishop. B is said to be sealed by both William and the city officials but has no confirmations. The second seal on B, in addition to William Elsyng's seal, is 45

Watson, p.240-296; Orme and Webster, p.74. GL, MS25 121136. Waltham is best known as the author of a treatise for princes, Compendium morale, see M.C.Buck, 'Waltham, Roger (d. 1332x41)" ODNB. article 23964, accessed 6 February, 2008 and Lucy Freeman Sandler, 'The Chantry of Roger of Waltham in Old St Paul's' in Janet Backhouse, ed., The Medieval English Cathedral (Donington, 2003), pp.168-190. For Anthony Bek, bishop and royal servant, ~;e C.M.Fraser, 'Bek, Antony (I) (c. 1245-13I 1), ODNB, article 1970, accessed 6 February 2008. Watson, pp.l44, 256-62. 48 See Appendix 3. 46


however that of the Officiality of London, i.e. of the bishop not of the City, so this must be a copy made especially for the episcopal officers and then given to St Paul's.49 Cis said to be sealed by William and the dean and chapter of St Paul's, witnessed by the officers and citizens of London and confirmed by the bishop of London. D and E follow C in those sealing and witnessing and are confirmed by both bishop and king. B and D are very similar, as are C and E, producing in most respects two alternative versions, BID and CIE. Altering the provisions of a charter but still keeping the original date is not unusual. For example there are two versions of the statutes of the hospital ofSt Mary in the Newarke, both dated the same day but one, confirmed by the bishop, with lower costs, for example lower stipends, to keep within the endowments. 50What is odd is that differences exist between BID and CIE not in consecutive versions but in versions purporting both to have gone through the same processes of approval on the same dates.

The main reason for the new charter on 1 June 1331 supplanting that of 15 August 1330 was that arrangements had been put in place for the appropriation of the church of St Mary Aldermanbury to the hospital. Appropriations of churches to religious houses and hospitals were common and some hospitals held a large number of appropriations. 51 Elsyngspital, as a late comer, held only St Mary Aldermanbury and two small country churches it gained in the fifteenth century.52 St Mary Aldermanbury was always the most important, worth £16 per annum in the sixteenth century.V'Ihe church was given by St Paul's, to whom it had belonged for many years. 54Appropriation gave the hospital the right to tithes and revenues from the rectory. It had of course to see that the church was properly served from those revenues and that pastoral care did not suffer, and there were complaints about some houses on that score. But putting in a salaried curate instead of a rector with access to the full revenues of the rectory would generally ensure some benefit accrued, even when the church was well looked after, and even more so if the church was near enough to be served by an existing priest of the house. The deed of appropriation, made on 30 May 1331, provided for the appropriation to come into effect Birch, vol. I, p.297. For William's seal see Chapter I. I am grateful to Dr. Elizabeth New for her advice on this seal. soThompson, pp.4l-81. Bishop Suffield for example gave St Giles Norwich six livings at its foundation, Rawcliffe, p.70. :~ See Chapter 4 for the later history of the appropriations. Valor, p.389. '4 Repertorium, p.298. Some rights to the advowson however appear to have belonged to the lord of the manor, and the issue was not finally settled until later in the fourteenth century, see Chapter 4. 49



when the existing rector, William de Wyppingham, died or left. In fact, another appointment seems to have been made as Richard de Hoxne was rector when the appropriation was confirmed in similar terms in 1340 when the hospital was to be converted into a house of Augustinian canons. ss The deed also provided for the warden of the hospital to be appointed as rector of the church and the two benefices regarded as one. The hospital was to pay the traditional pension of one mark a year plus an additional half mark as a sign of submission to St Paul's. William appears to have been given the power of nomination of the rector /warden, under St Paul's, and that power was to go to the dean and chapter after his death though, as will be shown below, this was not consistent with the BID version of the founding charter. This was a handsome gift from St Paul's, possibly influenced through William's connections with canon Roger de Waltham.

The changes from the 15 August charter, version A, as compared with the various 1 June charters, largely flow from this appropriation, and it also drives the differences between the BID and CIE versions of the 1 June charter. For ease of understanding the comparison with version A is given first in terms of the BID charters and the differences between BID and CIE dealt with subsequently. The changes from version A concern the fact of the appropriation of the church and the conditions attached to it and the rights now accorded to the dean and chapter of St Paul's. The main effect is on appointment of warden and priests in the hospital. Version A had given the right of appointment of the warden and all four priests to William Elsyng, after he had notified the bishop of London within four months of a vacancy arising. After William's death the right of appointment was to go to the mayor and aldermen of London, again notifying the bishop. Version BID however changed this to give the right of patronage to the dean and chapter ofSt Paul's. The dean and chapter were to appoint the warden/rector and two of the canons in residence at St Paul's were each to nominate one priest. William Elsyng was allowed to nominate to the dean and chapter the other two priests and any others appointed (presumably chantry priests). There was no mention of the bishop and the mayor and aldermen ceased to playa role. In version A the warden and priests were named: John de Cateloigne was to be warden, John Russel, William de St Alban, Nicholas de Crodewerth and John de Redyng were to be the priests. The name of the warden was unchanged in all versions, but in version BID John Russel was replaced by 55

See below. This may have been connected with the issue of rights in the advowson, see above.


Adam de Turri as one of the nominees of the canons ofSt Paul's, while the other three priests remained unchanged, William de St Alban being appointed by the canons and the other two nominated by William Elsyng.56

There was also a new provision in the later versions, that neither the warden nor the priests was to hold any other benefice, must give it up if they had one at the start and leave the hospital immediately if they acquired one later. This was not an uncommon provision in an effort to stop plurality and get the full attention of appointees, and it may simply have been introduced when closer scrutiny revealed its absence, but it is of particular interest here. 57 The warden, John de Cateloigne, had the same name as the man who was the rector of the church ofSt Alphage from 1325 to 1335.58It seems highly unlikely that there would be two men with such an unusual name in the same district, but the charters mention both without any indication that they are the same man. Possibly they were different men but related; or perhaps this was regarded as a temporary arrangement to get relations between the hospital and the local church off to a good beginning. There is no other mention of John de Cateloigne the warden other than in the founding charters, and no other warden is named. One other new provision concerns the curate for the church of St Mary Aldermanbury. The warden is to find an extra priest over and above the four in the hospital to serve the church and he is to be approved by the dean and chapter, thus ensuring that the hospital did not save money by putting in one of its own. So the BID charters introduce St Paul's, which did not feature at all in Version A, as a powerful player in the patronage of the hospital in return for donating the advowson of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury. Founders would normally have the right to appoint wardens and priests so the dean and chapter of St Paul's were exacting quite a heavy price. 59The mayor and aldermen no longer had any direct role to play, though oddly they and not the dean and chapter were said to have sealed the B version (but not the earlier or later versions) with William Elsyng. As will be shown later, giving St Paul's, rather than the mayor and aldermen, the patronage may have had a considerable influence on the later development of the hospital since, when See Appendix 5 for details of the warden and Appendix 6 for the priests. Not all founders took this view about other benefices: to attract the best men, the Ewelme founders, in the mid fifteenth century, thought it important to allow the holding of other benefices, John A.A.Goodall, God's House at Ewe/me (Aldershot, 2001), p.248. But Kreider, p.32 indicates that most founders of ~rantries wanted the priest to have no other benefices. Repertorium, pp.60 and 86. 59 On founders' rights of nomination, see Rosenthal, p.44 and Orme and Webster, p.34. An example is at Newarke, see Thompson, p.14. 56



William looked for more security for the hospital after his death, he turned not to the civic authorities but to the church.

The CIE versions also introduced St Paul's into the charter and removed the mayor and aldermen from a direct role, but with the pendulum swinging less far towards St Paul's than in BID. Less weight was given to the rights of St Paul's and less space was devoted to the arrangements for St Mary Aldermanbury. William retained the right to appoint the rector/warden and all the priests, presenting the name of the warden to the dean and chapter. After his death the dean and chapter were to have the right of presentation of the warden and priests to the bishop of London. The names of the priests are as in version A: the change from John Russel to Adam de Turri is not made. There is no reference to how the curate for St Mary Aldermanbury was to be chosen, so the hospital was presumably free to put in one of its own priests. This was certainly the case once the hospital was converted into a priory: specific provision was then made for one of the canons to have the cure of souls. 60 The provisions in BID about the warden and priests not holding other benefices were retained.

So there appears to have been some disagreement on the relative rights of the founder and St Paul's. The points of difference would only have been relevant until the founder's death, since after that St Paul's was to have the right of appointment anyway. Seals do not provide the answer since both B and C were sealed: the existence of the Officiality seal on B rather than that of the City, as the document required, suggests it is a copy anyway and we do not know what seals were on C. The fact that D was copied into the Patent Rolls may suggest that it was in some way definitive, but the exact relationship between the BID and CIE remains obscure.

The hospital's rule Apart from these differences about the role and rights of the dean and chapter ofSt Paul's, the rest of the charter is much the same in all versions and is largely unaltered from version A.61 These provisions concern the internal running of the hospital and, in versions B-E, William stated that the rule by which the warden, priests and poor of the



Deed of2 November, see Appendix 2. The relevant provisions are in version A 5-12 which with small amendments are the same in B-E.


hospital were to live had been agreed with the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's. It had the ingredients of many hospital rules. The essential principles on which the college of priests was to be run were similar to those of the Augustinian order, that is a college where the priests lived a communal, but not an enclosed, life even though in Elsyngspital the priests were seculars, not bound by any rule except the provisions of the founding deed. Such an arrangement was quite common in hospitals, St John's at Cambridge for example and St Giles, Norwich.62 The rules can be considered in three groups: the accounting and management of the finances of the hospital, the way of living and daily routine of the warden and priests, and the provisions concerning the inmates. These are considered in turn. Mangement and accounting

A good deal of space was devoted to the arrangements for

accounting and financial security. Hospitals were notoriously badly run and in 1311 measures had been laid down by Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne for their reform, especially in matters like keeping accounts. Some of this concern may be due, too, to William's care with money as a merchant: Rawc1iffe attributes the strict standards of accountability found in later almshouses founded by merchants like Whittington to their commercial background.


The Elsyngspital rule specifically

states, for example, that the warden was to be responsible for securing all the rents and other monies due to the hospital and William's concern that business should be properly conducted is shown in his provision that two household clerks could be employed to assist with the business of the hospital. The warden was required to take an oath to administer the goods of the hospital faithfully and use the resources for the benefit of the hospital. On taking up office the priests were to meet to note the contents of the common chest, where accounts and valuables were kept, and the key to it held by the former warden was to be handed over to the new one. The annual accounting process was to be carried out in the presence of the two most senior priests, all the gifts and treasure were to be gathered together and seen and noted, put into the communal chest and locked with two different locks, the key to one being held by the warden and the other by the senior priest. Similar provisions are found in other hospital rules, for

62Rubin,p.154; Rawcliffe, p.30. 63Orme and Webster, p.13l. Carole Rawcliffe gives a very detailed exposition of security arrangements in hospitals in her article 'Passports to Paradise: How English Medieval Hospitals and Almshouses kept their Archives', Archives, 27 (2002), pp. 2-22.


example St Mary Newarke: William was probably following good practice of the time.64

The warden and priests The priests were to take an oath to obey the rule of which they were given a copy. They were to be obedient to the warden in all things honourable and lawful. They were not to reveal the hospital's private plans nor leave the city without the permission of the warden. The latter provision was quite a common one and quite moderate compared with some: the Newarke statutes specifically forbade the priests to haunt taverns and instructed them to avoid women." William was later to have problems with the behaviour of the priests and he may then have wished he had taken the same line. Provisions were also made about the clothing the members of the college were to wear. Within three days of Christmas each was to have a new outfit of a uniform colour, the cost not exceeding 30s for priests and 40s for the warden, because he had to represent the hospital. Because the priests were seculars they were to have 20s (the warden 40s) to buy linen and other necessities. This provision is comparable with other hospitals: at Newarke, for instance, in 1331 the warden had a stipend of 20s for life and the chaplains one mark per annum for clothing and at St. Giles Norwich in the 1320s the master had £4 a year plus a set of robes and the priests 20s plus robes and board.


The daily routine of the hospital required the bells to be rung at dawn. The warden and priests, having dressed, were to go to the chapel and there say matins and the canonical hours, slowly and plainly and on Sundays and festivals they were to sing the services. Each one was to take the lead in tum, except the warden who was excused because of his other duties. Then the warden and all the priests were to visit the sick in the hospital. They were to relieve their needs and pains as far as they could, or arrange for them to be relieved. After the visit to the sick, the bells were to be rung again and they were to come together in the chapel to sing the appropriate mass and after that to go to the refectory for their common dinner. Each day before vespers they were to say the service for the dead, again devoutly and clearly, and then compline and vespers. Then those who wanted could go to eat, then walk the bounds of the hospital, visit the sick

64 Thompson, 65W

pp.IS-16. atson, p.270; Thompson, p.16. ~ompson, p.IS; Rawcliffe, p.IIS.


again as before and then to bed in the common dormitory. Two clerks, apparently distinct from the household clerks already mentioned, could be employed to help with the singing and services if necessary. Detailed provisions of this kind for the conduct of services and the routine of the day were common in statutes.


Not common was the

provision that the forms of service and times prescribed should not be immutable but might change if the custom of the church should change."

William, or whoever drafted

his rules for him, was looking ahead and presumably trying to ensure that divine worship in his hospital should be able to change with the times and not become ossified.

The poor blind and infirm The hospital was described at the beginning of the charter as being for 'miserabiles personae', wretched people, but William later described how he had seen 'multos caecos pauperes et miserabiles personas', poor blind and wretched people, wandering the streets, able to get food through alms but with nowhere to lay their heads by day or night.'" He was particularly concerned with poor blind priests and also with paralysed priests, whose plight 'viscera mea gravius torquenter' and they were to have the first claim on a vacancy at the hospital.


Second claim was to go to

'honestae personae prius habundates et senio debilitatae vel casu fortuito depaupertatae' , honest people formerly well off but now debilitated by age or accidentally Impoverished." This latter provision seems to have been an after thought as it does not appear in the A version, but this kind of selectivity was very much in the spirit of later almshouses.


The hospital was open to people of both sexes. The poor

were to have separate rooms, 'cameras distinctas', with beds and bedding, 'straturam et apparatum lectorum', which were to be replaced as necessary. They were to have the rooms for life, occupying them by day and night as required. In return for lifetime care, they were required to bequeath all their possessions to the hospital.73 Already in 1330

For example, St Giles, Norwich, Rawcliffe, pp.241-24S; St Mary Newarke, Thompson, pp.12-20. 68Milman, p. 75. 69 Appendix 3, A3 and AW. 70 Appendix 3, A 10. 71 Appendix 3, B 12. 72 Whittington's almshouse for example looked for the poor to be 'nedye, devowte and honeste in conversation and Iyvinge', Imray, Richard Whittington, p.lll. Orme and Webster, p.57, suggest that such discrimination must always have existed, but became more explicit and widespread in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 73 Appendix 3, AIO.This would not be unusual: for example the a similar provision was made at the Newarke hospital, Thomson, pp.17-1S and at St Bartholomew'S, London, Kerling, p.9. See also Orme and Webster, p.lOl. 67


there were thirty two people in the hospital: the aim was for there to be one hundred occupants.I"

This was a good standard of provision for the inmates. The common model for a hospital, followed for example by St Mary without Bishopsgate, would be for beds to be in a large open hall, perhaps subdivided by partitions, but 'cameras distinctas' seems to offer more than this.75 But separate rooms were not unknown: St Nicholas, York had individual cells as early as 1291 and Les Quinze Vingts, the hospital for the blind in Paris, also had separate rooms." If truly separate rooms were meant that would deny the infirm the ready access to religious services which the model of the infirmary with the chapel at one end would have given." The emphasis on the provision for shelter and sleep reflects William's primary concern to provide a place for the sick poor to live: there is no specific mention in the rule of provision of food or clothing although the bishop referred, in the charter of 15 August, 1330, to the purpose of the hospital as being 'ad hospitandum et alimentandum'.

The second stage of foundation: the establishment of the priory The charter received the king's approval on 6 October 1331 and on 2 November the hospital was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. William had completed the initial process of setting up his hospital and should now have been able to concentrate on raising funds and seeing it operate as he wished. But within seven years of its foundation he approached the bishop of London, still at that time Stephen Gravesend, to ask for the hospital to be reconstituted as a priory of Augustinian canons. On 3 February 1338 the bishop asked St Paul's to consider the matter and on 2 November 1340 the bishop, by then Ralph Stratford, formally agreed to the setting up of the priory. William's reasons for his change of heart are given in these documents. He found that secular priests became involved in temporal things, lived a freer life 'laxiorem vitam' than regular canons, because they wandered outside the hospital in London and beyond, leaving the hospital deserted and its goods at risk.78 The daily pressure of worldly opportunities

These included two blind men named John Gurneys and Robert de Teukesbury. Gilchrist, p.17-19; 'London Hospitals', p.12. 76 Orme and Webster, pp.90-91; Brigitte Gauthier, 'Les 'AveugJeries' MedievaJes (Xleme -Xveme ~~ecles),Cahi~rs D'Histoire, 29 (1984), p.I08. The domestic arrangements at Elsyngspital in its later life are discussed in chapter 5. 78 Deed of 3 February, 1338, Appendix 2. 74



could affect divine worship in the hospital and lead to the squandering of its goods and their being turned to impious uses. He was conscious that after his death there could be a succession of different patrons, who might not have the same care for the hospital: setting it up as an Augustinian priory offered greater security and more continuity.


It was not unusual for founders contemplating their own deaths to look for more security for their foundation, especially if they did not have a close relative who would carry on their work. Many of the hospitals founded by laymen in the thirteenth century turned to a more formal rule involving the supervision of the bishop to ensure their continuity and security." William had already invoked the dean and chapter ofSt. Paul's and the bishop as patrons after his death, but evidently he now realised that that was not sufficient. William's son Robert did not show the same attachment to the hospital as his father and, in any case, it was unwise to rely on one life. Robert in fact died only a year after his father. None of William's other relatives seems to have taken an interest in the hospital. But the account of William's reasons sounds as though it was more than this and that he had had some real problems with the priests in the hospital. That would not be unusual. At the bishop of London's visitation of St Mary without Bishopsgate in 1303 'the whole conduct of the house was lax and disreputable' and St Thomas Southwark was admonished by its bishop in 1323 for the irregular lives led by the brothers and sisters.


The problem, if the priests were not living according to the

rule, must have lain with the management of the house. Either the warden, John de Cateloigne, was not running the house effectively or perhaps he had left the hospital and a suitable replacement had not been found. Ifhe was indeed the rector ofSt. Alphage as speculated earlier, he may have left in 1335 when he exchanged the parish ofSt Alphage for a parish in Cambridgeshire.


It is possible that William was trying to run the hospital himself. The letter from Stephen, bishop of London, in February 1338 refers to William as 'fundatoris et custodis', and 'custos' is the word usually used to describe the warden. This is not the only reference to William as 'custos'. In 1336 in a property deed William referred to

Deed of2 November, 1340, Appendix 2. Miri Rubin, 'Development and change in English hospitals 1100-1500' in Granshaw and Porter, pp.4647. She cites St. Mark's Bristol as an example. 81 St Mary Spital, p.43; Religious Houses, p.171. 82 Repertorium, pp.60 and 86. 79



himself as 'custos et fundator' and gave undertakings on behalf of 'nos predicti custos presbyteri et successores nostri'

.83 There

are also a couple of much earlier references, in

1331 and 1332, around the same time as the founding charters were referring to John de Cateloigne as 'custos', which give that title to William, which might suggest Cateloigne never took up the post or that he and William exercised responsibility jointly.



are also a few references to a 'magister' in charge of the priests. 'Magister' and 'custos' are both words commonly used for the head of a hospital elsewhere so the use of the alternative is not necessarily significant.V But the 3 February 1338 letter from bishop Stephen described the hospital as having eight priests and a master.86 Since the bishop had already used 'custos' to describe William, this seems to be more than just loose use of words and to imply that there was both a 'magister' and a 'custos'


William could

not have been technically 'custos' because the charter required the warden to be a priest, but the balance of all these references suggests that he may have been carrying out enough of the duties to be regarded as such, and not simply as the founder, and he may have been doing that in tandem with John de Cateloigne, or another priest. Laymen taking charge of hospitals was not unknown: lay servants of the king were sometimes appointed to hospitals where the crown had the patronage, but they may not of course have been actively involved in the running of the hospital.


If William was indeed

carrying direct responsibility, it was perhaps not surprising that he found the priests difficult to manage. With his other responsibilities, both as a mercer, and in supporting the hospital financially, he cannot have had the time for the day to day supervision which would have been required. With eight priests plus a master, the two singing clerks and two household clerks allowed in the founding deed, there could have been a clerical staff of thirteen, quite apart from the lay staff who must have been employed and the poor themselves.

83LMA, HR 63/146. 84LMA, HR 60/57, HR59/13. 8S See for example Rubin.p.167.It seems likely that the word 'magister' was being used in this way in a couple of early documents where it appears, for example the deed of 25 March 1330 where freedom from tithes is extended to 'magistro et fratribus et sororibus' of the hospital. 86This was a substantial increase on the original four and must be a reflection of William's success in raising funds since the extra ones were presumably serving chantries. 87The word 'magister' for the person in charge of the priests is also used in bishop Ralph's agreement to the change to an Augustinian house on 2 November 1340, but he does not use 'custos' to describe William. 88 Clay, p.149.


The choice of an Augustinian house, once William had decided he needed to make a change, would be a natural one: we have already seen how the hospital rule was based on Augustinian principles. Moving to a house of regulars would provide a stronger discipline than a secular house, but allowed freedom to work in the outside world. There were plenty of examples in London of hospitals of Augustinian canons, St Bartholomew's for example, St Katherine by the Tower, St Thomas Southwark and St Mary without Blshopsgate.f" Such a change from a college of secular priests to a house of regulars was not uncommon: for example the college of Kirby Bellars in Leicestershire, founded in 1319 was converted into a priory in 1359-60.90 The Augustinians also may have offered William the chance to retain his influence in the hospital: Rosenthal suggests that the Augustinians were often chosen by founders for their 'ability to reconcile their own rules and the founder's desire to have a say in the affairs of the house'."

The alternatives to a religious house might have been to place the hospital under the patronage of the city of London or under the Mercers' Company. As to the first, some of the leper hospitals were already under the supervision of the city and the hospital of St Mary Bethlehem was to be so from 1346, but supervision by municipal authorities was less common at this time than it was to become later on.


In any case William had

turned his face away from the city when he replaced the mayor and aldermen as patrons after his death with a more immediate relationship with St Paul's, so a move that enabled St Paul's to continue as patrons would have been more natural and, indeed, probably inevitable. The same would apply to using the Mercers' Company, and in any case it would be very early in the development of the city companies for them to take on such a role." Turning the college and hospital into an Augustinian priory secured William's foundation after his death, but in the long run it may have frustrated his 89 Onne and Webster, pp.70-2. Only St Mary without Bishopsgate and subsequently Elsyngspital however were independent priories attending the Chapter of Augustinian canons, the others, apparently, were regarded as offshoots of parent religious houses, Dickinson, p.146. 90 A.Hamilton Thompson, 'Notes on secular canons in England' Archaeological Journal, 74 (1917), p.144; Other examples were Anglesey in Cambridgeshire in 1220 and North Creake in Norfolk in 1208, Rubin, 'Development and Change', in Granshaw and Porter, p.46. 91 Rosenthal. p.61. 92 'London Hospitals', pp.6 and 14; Sweetinburgh, pp.36-37; Orme and Webster p.l42; LBF, p.154. 93 A number of companies did supervise almshouses in the fifteenth century, for example the Merchant Tailors completed their almshouse in 1426, Matthew Davies, 'The Tailors of London: Corporate Charity in the Late Medieval Town', in Rowena E. Archer, ed., Crown, Government and People in the Fifteenth Century, (Stroud, 1995), p.184. The Mercers' Company supervised Whittington's hospital, founded in 1424,lmray, Richard Whittington, p.28.


ambitions. Constitution as a priory, as we shall see, may, over the years, have focussed more attention on the liturgical functions, and less on the care of the poor with whom William was so concerned.

The bishop's charter of2 November 1340 set out the conditions of the refoundation. He judged the resources of the hospital were sufficient to support five canons, though more could be recruited if the resources of the hospital grew under careful husbandry. The dean and chapter ofSt Paul's were to remain as patrons of the house and to take charge during any vacancy.

The prior was to be elected by the canons from among their

number and they were to present him to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's who would in turn present him to the bishop. But the way the hospital was run, its rules and the provisions for the poor, as to numbers as well as hospitality, were to remain just as in the original foundation. On 25 November the consecration and dedication of the hospital's cemetery was renewed and extended to altars recently built in the church and the indulgences originally granted by bishop Stephen in 1330 were reaffirmed. On 8 December the appropriation of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury was transferred to the prior and canons. One of the canons was to be appointed to run the church rather than a secular priest as had been provided in the earlier charter and he was not to have the income of the church and could be removed if he did not do his job satisfactorily. 94 The appropriation however, as was seen earlier, was not to take effect until the death or removal of the new rector Richard de Hoxne.


Then on 2 April 1342 the king gave

permission for the change and on 20 August 1343 gave authority for the prior and canons to take over the hospital's endowment, twelve properties in all, for which mortmain had been granted in earlier years. 96

The whole of this process of refoundation had taken William five years, but it seems probable that the hospital was not actually changed into a priory until after his death. No prior is known before 1350, the year after William died, and no patronage is assigned to him in the 1340 charter, a position which seems unlikely to have been satisfactory to him. Stow states that William was himself prior but this seems very unlikely; there is no Dickinson suggests that it was unusual for Augustinian canons actually to serve their appropriated churches, because it was so difficult to supervise them from a distance. But he says that, where the parish church was near the house, the canons may have served occasionally, Dickinson, p.232-3. 9~ Hennessy has no record of Hoxne or his predecessor: he has no names in this period after Roger de Bergam in 1326, Repertorium, p.298. ~o mention is made of the original licence for the tenements where the hospital was built in 1328. 94


evidence that he was anything other than a mercer and citizen and this is how he describes himself in his will.97 More likely Stow's reference is a reflection of William's involvement with the hospital which led to him being sometimes being described as 'custos'. There are, it is true, a number of references to the prior and convent before 1350, but, as they never name the prior, they may be looking forward to the position once William had died. A quitclaim in 1341 refers to William as founder and 'custos' and brackets the 'capellani' with him in the transaction, so the hospital was clearly still regarded as a secular institution at that time, but this is the last reference to him as 'custos'."

References to the prior and canons begin in 1342 when John de

Montegomeri granted to the hospital and to the prior and canons the reversion of a tenement, and a chantry was transferred from St. Mary Aldermanbury to the prior and convent of the hospital in 1343.99 In a couple of other cases William is joined with the prior and canons in such transactions.


In yet other cases however William continued

to do business with the hospital's property under his name alone, which would have been unlikely if the change to a religious house had already been made. For example in 1347 he leased out the property in Cordwainer street which he had bought under his brother's will and had made over to the hospital twelve years before.


William's will also strongly implied that the change to a priory had still to be made.t02 He gave his executors custody of all the tenements and rents he had left to the hospital, and the goods and chattels of the hospital 'quousque prior et canonici in eodem debito modo prout moris est eligantur proficiantur et constituantur', were elected and could take on the responsibility.


until the prior and canons

He recorded that he had put the

hospital under the direction of a prior and convent and asked them to operate the house

Stow, p.294; TNA, LRISII63. But the belief that William had been the prior lasted a long time: when in 1914 improvements were being made to St Alphage church, which stood on the site of the hospital's church, the carved head on the doorway was said to be that of 'Prior Elsynge' and there was a carved screen to his memory, Baddeley, pp.27-8. Had William actually entered the order of Augustinian canons he would have been a very rare example. Thrupp says 'No instance has come to notice of any London merchant being so overcome by religious emotion as to give up his way of conducting life and enter a religious order', p.188, although one has now come to light: Thomas Salter, a liveryman of the Salters' Company, became a Carthusian monk in 1518, personal communication from Professor Caroline Barron. O'Connor gives an example of a mercer, Thomas de Langeton, apparently becoming a chaplain in the 13S0s, O'Connor pp.50-51. 98 TNA, E 210/5I2S. 99 TNA, LRI4/559; LMA, HR 70//20. 100 TNA, LR 14/94 copied into the court of Husting LMA, HR 71174; LMA, HR72/42. 101 TNA, LR14/552. 102 Appendix 1. 103 TNA, LR, 1SII63 translated at Appendix 1. 97


according to his ordinances. No one, secular or ecclesiastical, other than the prior and convent and his executors for their lifetime, was to interfere. He entreated the prior and convent to sustain and augment his work and begged the dean and chapter of St Paul's, the bishop of London and the archbishop of Canterbury, to protect, augment and keep safe his hospital.

Reflections on the foundation of Elsyngspital The weight of detail in the documents surrounding the foundation of Elsyngspital must not be allowed to obscure the magnitude of William's ambition. He was planning to establish a large hospital and to do it without royal or aristocratic backing but using his own resources and what money he could raise in and around London. Although one hundred inmates may have been a symbolic number, William was clearly planning for it in a practical way, making clear in the foundation charters that he already had thirty two inmates and was planning for the other sixty eight; and claiming already to have sixty in the general mortmain licence application of26 October, 1331. The magnitude of his ambition is indicated by his having originally applied, not for the licence to acquire property to the value of £ 10 per annum which he actually received, but for one for £40, an amount rarely granted and then only for high status houses: of the 557 general licences issued in Edward Ill's reign 87% were for £20 per annum or less. 104 So this was not to be one of the many small hospitals which were scattered across the country nor, like later almshouses, was it simply to provide for, perhaps, a dozen old men. This was to be among the largest hospitals in England, on a par with the large established London hospitals like St Mary without Bishopsgate and St Bartholomew'S, on a scale which would make a dent in London's social problems. To find something on this scale being founded in England after the beginning of the fourteenth century one has to go to the aristocratic foundation of St Mary in the Newarke, set up at just this time by the earl of Lancaster, which was to be enlarged by his son to one hundred beds twenty years or so later, or to the Savoy founded in 1505, also for a hundred beds.


But these were

exceptions, the Savoy was a royal foundation and the Lancasters were among the greatest men in England with immense wealth to back up their projects.

Raban, pp.46-47. losFowler,pp.188-9; 'London Hospitals', p.20 104


So this was an ambitious task even for a rich merchant to undertake. Many of the early hospitals had been founded by the nobility, by royalty or by bishops. The hospital of St Katherine by the Tower, for example, had been founded by Matilda of Boulogne, Stephen's queen, in 1147, St Bartholomew's

was endowed by Henry I and St Giles,

Norwich by a bishop of Norwich, Walter Suffield.106 In towns, however, prominent citizens might take the lead and there were small hospitals scattered round the country founded by burgesses in the thirteenth century.


In London, the large hospital ofSt

Mary without Bishopsgate had been founded by Walter Brune, a London citizen, and his wife Roisa in 1197, and Simon Fitzmary, alderman and sheriff gave the land on which St Mary's Bethlehem was established in 1247.108 One suspects these were families of greater wealth and standing than the immigrant mercer William Elsyng, but the tradition they set may have made the task seem less daunting. Certainly William set an example which many merchants were to follow, if on a more modest scale, in the wave of almshouse building in the next century.


Elsyngspital is sometimes referred to as a hospital for the blind, probably based on John Stow's reference to the foundation of the hospital 'for sustentation of 100. blind men'


The hospital rule makes it clear, however, that the scope was a good deal wider

than this and extended to other poor and wretched persons though the blind are especially mentioned. The theme of blindness however is very strong in the very early documents concerning the hospital. The very first, the inquisition on the application for a mortmain licence on 30 November 1328, refers to houses for 'centum caecos' as does the ratification of the hospital's establishment by the mayor and aldermen in January 1330. But even at that early stage the reference is not always to blindness: the bishop's deed setting up the inquest on 21 July1329 has 'pro receptione miserabilium

personarum et infirmorum' . III And in relation to priests, who were to be given priority, William specifically records that it is not only blind priests but also paralysed priests about whom he is concerned.

It appears, therefore, that although the blind were

William's first consideration, from a very early stage he envisaged other poor and

Jamison, pp.I-4; Religious Houses. pp 90 and 149-50; Rawcliffe, pp.18-29. Rubin, 'Development and Change' in Granshaw and Porter, pp.46-47. 108 'London Hospitals', p.5 109 Richard Whittington, whose almshouse was founded in 1424, was one example, Imray, Richard 106


Whittington. 110 111

Stow, vol. 1, p.294. TNA, E 13512117.


disabled people as inmates. His desire to give preference to priests however appears less often than references to the blind: apart from the founding charters it appears only in the deed of 30 May 1331 appropriating the church of St Mary Aldermanbury to the hospital.


Blind people are also mentioned much less frequently after the first few

years of the foundation, though admittedly there are few references of any kind to the inmates, but William evidently maintained his interest in them because his will in 1349 containing his final instructions referred to 'pauperum cecorum indigentium et miserabilium personarum' . 113

So Elsyngspital probably operated at this time as a permanent home for the elderly, infirm and disabled, especially blind people and priests, needing long term care, rather in the model of later almshouses.


It may have differed from other London hospitals in

catering for the chronically disabled and this may have been the gap in provision which William had seen: in St Mary without Bishopsgate for example over half the dead excavated from the thirteenth century cemetery had died before they reached 25, possibly because the hospital was catering mainly for pilgrims and migrants on their way into London. I IS Blindness would probably have been common on the London streets: low standards of hygiene and poor sanitation may have caused eye infections, like trachoma, leading to blindness, and ulcerated eyes and conjunctivitis would have been common among the poor.


Blindness obviously made it difficult, ifnot

impossible, to work in many trades but it would be especially serious if a man's livelihood required reading, hence William's interest in priests. I 17 Their problems would be exacerbated by the fact that, unmarried, there was less likely to be a family to take care of them. Unbeneficed clergy, of whom there were many, would be particularly unlikely to have resources of their own to fall back on. us Their position would have been exacerbated by the famine and sickness of the second two decades of the fourteenth century, and that might too have increased instances of paralysis: one of the

The reference is to 'honestorum pauperum maxime presbytorum', GL, MS 251211 1226. TNA, LR15/163, translated in Appendix 1. 114Orme and Webster, pp.56-64, defme four kinds of hospital: those providing long term maintenance of the infirm, care of the sick until they recovered, short term hospitality to travellers and regular distributions of alms. Elsyngspital falls clearly into the first category. us St. Mary Spital, p.39. 116 Rawcliffe, p.13. 117 Orme and Webster, p.120. 1181na survey of290 wills of secular clergy in Norwich between 1370 and 1532 two thirds of them never held a benefice, Carole Rawcliffe, The Hospitals of Medieval Norwich. (Norwich, 1995), p.lOl. 112



diseases of famine from diseased grain was ergotism, St Anthony's fire, which could cause paralysis, if it did not kill.119

Blind people generally do not seem to have been catered for by separate hospitals in England.120 If that was William's original model, he may have taken it from abroad and specifically from the hospital ofLes Quinze Vingts in Paris, established in the 1250s by Louis IX to take 300 blind people, a hospital which did remain dedicated to the blind. 121 There were however hospitals for priests who were blind: for example Dean Robert Pickering founded the hospital of St Mary the Virgin, Bootham for blind and infirm clergy in York in 1318 and the hospital of St Mary Magdalene, Ripon, took in blind priests among others.122 Hospitals for poor and infirm priests of all kinds were often set up by bishops or other members of the clergy: for example, Clyst Gabriel hospital for infirm priests near Exeter set up by bishop Walter Stapleton in 1311. 123 There was however no known provision for priests of any kind in London, apart from Elsyngspital, before St Augustine Papey in 1442.124

William's emphasis on the provision of shelter rather than maintenance is also interesting and may differentiate Elsyngspital from other hospitals. Possibly he was expecting his residents to beg for at least part of their food from the many food distributions in London, a model more usually found in small shelters where no more than a roof could be afforded.F' As to care, the only mention of the providers of care for the poor and infirm in the documents surrounding the foundation is the twice daily visit of the warden and priests. William seems to have expected the warden and priests 119Cullum, p.l48 120 Martha Carlin looked at hospitals catering for 'special classes of patients' in Knowles and Hadcock's list of hospitals but did not identify any solely for the blind, though she quotes the hospital of St Leger, Stamford as being for 'the blind, the deaf, the mute or other infirm', 'Medieval English hospitals' in Granshaw and Porter, pp.33-34. 121 See Mark P.O'Tool, 'The povres avug/es of the Hopital des Quinze-Vingts: Disability and Community in Medieval Paris' in Meredith Cohen and Justine Firnhaber-Baker, eds, Identity and Difference in Francia and Medieval France (Aldershot, forthcoming 2009). For Quinze- Vingts and other hospitals for the blind in France see Brigitte Gauthier, 'Les 'Aveugleries' Medievales'. 122 Cullum, p.142; William Page, ed., The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire, vo!.3 (London, 1974), pp.321-326. 123 Nicholas Orme, •A Medieval Almshouse for the Clergy: Clyst Gabriel Hospital near Exeter', JEH, 39 (1988), pp.l-15. 124 Religious Houses, pp.188-9. 125 See P.H.Cullurn. 'For poor people harberles: what was the function ofthe maisonsdieu?' in D.J.Clayton, R.G.Davies and Peter McNiven, eds, Trade, devotion and governance: papers in late medieval history (Stroud, 1994), pp.36-54. Note though that the Paris hospital of Quinze- Vingts required its inmates to beg for alms, which may have included food, O'Toole, 'The povres avugles', see above.


to take a direct interest in the physical, as well as spiritual, well being of the poor inmates, though not necessarily to attend to all their wants themselves. Not all founders expected the members of the college to become involved with the poor: there was no such provision, for example, at Newarke, though at St Bartholomew's

there clearly was,

since the master and priests had to be reminded of their obligations. 126 One would however have expected that the day to day labour of caring might have been done by sisters, as was usually the case, though these may have been drawn from among the poor themselves. St Bartholomew's

hospital for instance had four sisters in 1316 and St

Leonard's hospital in York had eight sisters in 1364 to look after the sick.127 Perhaps at Elsyngspital, since women were admitted as well as men, they were expected to help if they were fit enough: St Paul's hospital in Norwich had sisters who were long term residents and looked after other inmates. 128 And many blind people would of course be able to look after themselves if they had some help from sighted residents.

One of the striking aspects of the documentation surrounding the foundation is that there are no requests for prayers for William's soul or for the souls of his family, neither from the priests of the hospital nor from the poor. In all the documents the only reference to a benefit for William or his family from his foundation is to be found in his will, where he states that all that he has done is for the souls of himself and his wives. Never once does he ask for prayers, as was the norm for later foundations, nor did he establish chantries for himself or his family. 129 It may be that this was just a question of the practice at the time: in earlier foundations prayers were not insisted upon because, as Hamilton Thompson notes, this was 'taken for granted as part of the duties of the community'


The act of giving itself was then assumed to be of more significance,

without the frequent prayers and masses that were increasingly requested by donors in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 131 But other chantries were set up in the hospital and it is unthinkable that prayers were not in fact said for the founder. Nor is there any 12~ompson, p.14-19; Religious Houses, pp.150-151. 127Religious Houses, p.521; Cremetts and Corrodies, p. 7. 128Rawcliffe, Medieval Norwich, pp.72-73. 129At Ewelme, the founding statutes of 1448-50 begin with a statement that the whole purpose of the foundation is to benefit the souls of the founders and lay down precisely what the brothers and inmates should say and do to that end, Goodall, God's House, p.224 and 234. The almsmen of Richard Whittington's foundation (1424) had to gather daily round the founder's grave to pray for him, Imray, Richard Whittington, p.33. 130Thompson, 'Notes on colleges', p.159. 131See Benjamin Thompson, 'Monasteries and their Patrons at Foundation and Dissolution', TRHS, 6th series, 4 (1994), p.107-112 for a discussion of this change in the expectations of donors.


requirement for the sick to take part in services: that duty falls entirely on the college of priests. Again it may be a case of the obvious being unsaid: there is no such specific requirement in the statutes ofSt Giles, Norwich, in the thirteenth century, nor in those of St Mary in the Newarke, in 1331, although there some of the poor had beds in the nave of the church, so they were inevitably included.


After William's death many

wills ask for the prayers of the poor of the hospital, so it seems very likely that they were then involved in 'a constant round of religious observances' which was 'the price usually paid by the sick poor of medieval England in return for shelter, food and basic nursing in a hospital'


There can be no doubt about William's piety: like other

founders his very real concern for the poor blind and paralysed he saw on the streets of London would have gone hand in hand with his desire to save his soul, and the fact that he founded a college of priests as well as a hospital is testimony to that piety.


Nevertheless it is interesting that, while the founding charter leaves no doubt of the strength of William's concern for the poor blind and paralysed, a personal expression of the motivation driving a foundation rarely found which makes the tone of this part of the founding charter very distinctive, there is no counterbalancing concern for his own soul.

The foundation of Elsyngspital had taken over twenty years, from the date of the first purchase of the land to the final settlement in William's will. This was not at all unusual in the foundation of a hospital: the process was often spread over a long period as the founder added to his endowment and altered his provisions as his foundation developed. Sethina Watson has shown the process at work in thirteenth century hospitals and John Goodall comments on the length and size of the task at Ewelme.


In Elsyngspital the long period was marked by significant developments in the way the hospital was to operate. The acquisition of the church of St Mary Aldermanbury marked the first big change leading to amendments in the founding charter in relation to appointments and the arrival of St Paul's on the scene as patrons rather than the mayor and aldermen of London. The second was the change to an Augustinian priory, in the

132Rawcliffe,pp.241-48; Thompson, pp.14-20. Onne and Webster, p.55, suggest that demands on inmates tended to increase in the fifteenth century. 133Rawcliffe, Medieval Norwich, p.42. For the commemoration of the patron in hospitals see Carole Rawcliffe, 'A Word from our Sponsor': Advertising the Patron in the Medieval Hospital' in Henderson, f~.l67-93. 4

See Chapter 1. God's House, p.23 et seq; Watson, pp.129-88.

m Goodall,


light of the experience of working with secular priests and William's apprehension for the future of the hospital after his death. The third was the change described in the character of the inmates as the emphasis on the blind lessened. These three changes significantly altered the nature of the institution. In particular, instead ofa free standing secular hospital and college, it became part of a religious order under the supervision of St Paul's and the bishop of London. And of course during all this period William Elsyng was accumulating property with which to endow the hospital and ensure its survival and it is with this process that the next chapter deals.


Chapter 3 Endowing the hospital None of the careful preparations would have enabled the hospital to survive for over two hundred years unless it had been provided with an endowment of property sufficient to produce enough income to sustain it in the years to come. Money would, of course, continue to come in over the years from donations, bequests and indulgences but the evidence is that it was at the period of the foundation, and largely from the founder himself, that the finance to endow and sustain such an institution came. 1 A few institutions like the hospital of St Anthony of Vienne in London made a good income from voluntary contributions, with licensed collectors allover the country, but generally institutions without endowments would have been small houses and would have been much more at risk of failure.


So much of William's effort must have gone into raising

the money he needed.

How much income was needed?

'While it did not take a fortune to build a de novo foundation, it at least required a willingness to part with several hundred pounds' .3 We know something of what other founders gave to establish their hospitals. In 1245 Bishop Suffield's hospital in Norwich had an initial capital endowment of £570.4 Bishop Stapleton, in establishing his hospital at Clyst Gabriel in 1311, spent about £360 of his own money in endowing, building and equipping it. S Obviously the sum required would depend on the nature and grandeur of the institution. William Elsyng may not have been vying with bishops but a hospital of the size he envisaged was going to have high expenses. The costs of setting up Elsyngspital are not known, except for the modest valuation of the site in December 1328 at 25s gross per annum." But more significant over the long term would be the costs of running the hospital. For example, the founding deed provided that the warden was to have an outfit worth 40s each year and 40s for extras like linen and other

1 See

for example Rubin, pp.117 and 202. 2 Knowles and Hadcock, p.4l, comment on the number ofunendowed small hospitals which disappeared from 1350 onwards. For St Anthony'S see Graham, pp.341-406. 3 Rosenthal, p.54 . .. Rawcliffe, p.70. . , Nicholas Orme 'A Medieval Almshouse for the Clergy: Clyst Gabriel Hospital in Exeter', JEH, 39 (1988), p.2. 6 See Chapter 2 and Appendix 2.


necessities, and the four priests were each to have outfits worth 30s each year, and 20s for extras, a total of £14 a year. The two singing clerks were to have 40s between them, and if the two household clerks allowed were also employed that could have been, perhaps, another 40s, amounting to a total of £ 18 a year in all.' To this must be added the cost of food for the priests and for the poor inmates, assuming that they were fed at the hospital's expense rather than seeking alms in the city.8 Christopher Dyer suggests that a farthing a day was the absolute minimum to sustain life and a penny a day provided a decent but sparse living such as might be provided in almshouses." A penny a day was also the amount given to each of the poor inmates at the hospital ofSt Mary in Newarke, Leicester, founded in the same year as William's hospital: with this they seem to have bought their food from the women who provided it. 10 The priests might be expected to eat better than that, though it seems unlikely that William would have envisaged a lavish life style.

At a penny a day even feeding the sixty inmates said to be at the hospital in the early 1330s, let alone the hundred to which William was aspiring, would cost nearly £90 a year. Economies of scale might have reduced this: St Leonard's York allowed only 4d a week per person.


But even if William provided only the sparsest diet, expecting those

who could to find food from alms, he would have needed, say, £20 a year, and the cost of the food for five priests and four clerks at say, even 2d a day, would cost £26 per annum.V The allowances for the priests and clerks referred to above would bring this up

to £64, and to this would be added the cost of any lay staff or servants employed, the provision of replacement beds and bedding as the need arose, the maintenance and repair of buildings and any quitrents due on the hospital's properties: the latter two alone were costing the hospital, admittedly on a larger estate, around £60 per annum in 1408-9.13 Clothing for the inmates was partly provided for by a benefactor, William Gayton, who in 1332 gave each of thirty inmates an annual suit of clothes for 2s 3d

7 See Appendix 3. • See chapter 2. 9 Dyer, p. 253. lo-rhompson, p.15 II Cremetts and Corrodies, p.l7. 12 In 1408-9 food and drink cost the hospital well over £70 for a ten month period, so this is a very modest assessment. There were two more religious in the hospital then, though fewer poor, and it was of course hI. then a priory, TNA, SC6/1257/3. . 1 TNA, SC6/1257/3.



14 At

St. Mary without Bishopsgate an income of 300 marks per annum, £200, was

said to be sufficient to sustain twelve canons, five lay brothers and seven sisters in 1303, an establishment more than double William's: presumably this also covered the cost of the inmates though this is not specified.l'The 1331 Newarke foundation with fifty inmates and an establishment of clergy not unlike William's cost £91 3s 10 Y, d per annum excluding expenditure on church services.


How comparable these are to

Elsyngspital figures would depend on exactly what was included, but they give a sense of scale. One way or another it seems likely that William would have had to raise an income of over £100 a year.

What kind of endowment did William secure?

Over William's lifetime, in addition to the properties which formed the site of the hospital, forty six parcels of property in London were acquired in his own name or that of the hospital, eleven of which were disposed of, making a net total of thirty five. 17 All these properties are listed and described in Appendix 4 and their approximate location, together with those that made up the hospital, is shown in Figure 5.18It is not always clear from the documents that a particular property with which William dealt was intended for the hospital. Sometimes the deed says specifically that the property is granted to the hospital, for example in 1331 Matthew de Branketre and his wife Alice granted a property in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury to the warden and priests of the hospital.


In other cases mortmain licences to enable property William had acquired

to be given to the hospital were obtained.


Altogether over half of the properties were

granted or made over to the hospital in this way. In others although William handled the property himself, there is some evidence of charitable intent suggesting that it was intended for the hospital, for example in relation to his transactions over the properties

LMA, HR 60/57. For Gayton see below and Appendix 4, properties 13,25,35,36 and 39. Religious Houses, p.160. "Thompson p.19. 17 A parcel indicates, typically, a property described as tenements and houses and gardens or in some cases a number of quitrents. Unless separate properties can clearly be distinguished, all the property mentioned in one transaction in one parish is counted as a parcel. They are consequently of very different sizes and values. 18 Full references for each property are given in Appendix 4. The properties are all assigned numbers there and these are used in this chapter. The properties in which the hospital was built and dealt with are described in Chapter 2 and Appendix 2 and are excluded from the analysis in this chapter. 19 Property 4. 20 See below. 14



of William de Carleton and Bartholomew de Castello, for both of whom he set up chantries.i' But in others there is nothing to show in the transactions that William's acquisitions were intended for the hospital, although his will makes it clear that they went eventually to the hospital: for example two of his St Lawrence Lane properties.f It seems quite likely therefore that all these transactions were in fact connected with the hospital, either providing property which was to endow it or, through sales, the cash to invest in further property.

The picture is confused because William seems to have made no distinction between properties belonging to the hospital and those which appear to be his own. He made transactions in his own name relating to property clearly belonging to the hospital. For example he left his son Robert property in St Botolph outside Aldersgate which had been bequeathed by William Gayton to the hospital in 1337; presumably William had substituted property of his own for the hospital.


In doing this he must have been

acting as a feoffee, a position similar that of a trustee.f" In two cases there is a reference to a deed of enfeoffment, and in one that he was acting for the hospital, but William was clearly acting as a feoffee much more widely than this.25Later in the fourteenth century enfeoffment was to become a common way of enabling property to be held by an individual or group of individuals to get round the legal restrictions on the devise of land. But at this early stage in its use the agreement might only be a verbal one or recorded in a document separate from the transfer of the land. At all events it was common for a reliable person or persons to acquire property in this way intended for an institution and the outcome is that it is impossible to draw a clear line between the hospital's property and William's own.


Occasionally there are a series of transactions

that seem unlikely to be connected to the hospital, for example those undertaken by William as executor of Roger de Forsham concerning property in Dicer's Lane near St Paul's." Otherwise all William's property transactions have been included in Appendix 4 on the assumption that they are likely to have been connected with the hospital.

Properties 1,3, IS and 16. Properties 17 and 19. 23 Property 39. 24 For a discussion of enfeoffment to use, see J.W.M. Bean, The Decline of English Feudalism 12/5-/540 (Manchester, 1968), pp.104-179. 2.5 Properties 11,13 and 34. 26 Bean, English Feudalism, p.150; Sandra Raban, p.114. 27 GL, MS25 121/,422, 480, 488. 21 22


William's will sets out all the property that was to go to the hospital."

It is quite clear

that William, in drawing up his will, was rehearsing what had already been done, indeed he said so specifically, and that this included property clearly belonging to the hospital as well as to him personally, for example the appropriation of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury. So the will can be regarded as a summary, since few of the properties are closely described, of the hospital's endowment, including properties already clearly given to it. Indeed William seems to have drawn no distinction between his property and that belonging to the hospital right from the start. In the deed of foundation he stated that he was giving to the hospital all the tenements, houses and rents which he had in the parishes ofSt Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Alphage and St Martin Pomary.29 He did own substantial property in St Lawrence Jewry at that time and had given the hospital the property in St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury in which it was founded." But there is no record of his ever personally having property in St Martin Pomary: the likelihood is that this refers to the property in Ironmonger Lane given to the poor blind of the hospital in 1330 by John Braz.31

In his will, William left all his tenements and rents in the parishes of St Alphage, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Lawrence Jewry, All Saints, Honey Lane, Ironmonger Lane in St Martin Pomary, St Mildred in Poultry, and St Michael Bassishaw to the hospital. Properties in all these parishes are known to have been acquired by William or the hospital, as listed in Appendix 4. William then set out a number of specific properties and rents which were to go to the hospital. Nearly all of them can be identified among the properties listed in Appendix 4, for example the three shops in St Giles without Cripplegate given to the hospital by William Gayton in 1332 and the two tenements in Cordwainer Street left by William's brother Richard in the same year.32 Only the property in the parishes ofSt Benedict Woodwharfand

St Peter Woodwharfcould


be linked back to earlier references.P A few properties known earlier are missing: for example the property in the parish of St Sepulchre given by Margaret Lughteburgh in

Appendix 1. Appendix 3. 30 Properties 17,18 and 19 and see Chapter 2. 31 Property 28. In one version of the founding deed there is also mention of William having given property in St. Mildred in Poultry, see Appendix 3, C2.William had no properties in the Poultry, but his brother Richard did: he had purchased some in 1329, which he was eventually to leave remaindered to the hospital, properties 30 and 31. 32 Properties 36 and 26. 33 Property 43. 28



1336 is not included, but that may have been because it was only to come to the hospital on her death.34

And there are a few missing quitrents, for example the 4s a year from a property in Grubb Street in the parish of St Giles without Cripple gate, granted to the hospital in 1331 by Isabella Lytere and the 8s 8d quitrent from a property in Cordwainer Street granted by John Braz in 1335.35 Both these however can be tentatively identified from later documents, so it is possible that the other quitrents reached the hospital also." Without more details of the individual properties it is not possible to be certain, but it looks as though the will is a reasonably complete statement of the hospital's property at that date.

No values for the physical property are given in the will, but of course the values of quitrents are given and there is some information from mortmain valuations. Of the parcels of property some estimate can be made of the value in about half of them. These amount to a total of around £60 gross per annum. If the remainder were worth about the same, this would give a total of around £120 gross per annum.37 As an alternative approach, it is possible to read back from the hospital's rental of 1403-4. Discounting additions to the portfolio made since 1349 and including only those properties in parishes where the hospital was known to have holdings in 1349, the 'core' properties yielded a gross income of about £150 a year. Since rents were not likely to be rising over this period, this suggests that the £120 a year estimate may be on the low side, and that a figure between £120 and £150 may be nearer the mark." In addition there may have been the income from the rectory ofSt Mary Aldermanbury.


So it may well be

that William was successful in raising a sum sufficient to sustain the kind of hospital he had in mind.

Property 46. H Properties 38 and 27. 36 The other quitrents not in the will were properties 13, 16 and part of 18. 37 This must be taken as a very broad figure, as the parcels of property had very different values. Also some of the larger properties were in the £60 estimate, suggesting that less than doubling of the value might be appropriate. On the other hand, the mortmain valuations on which the £60 is based are later shown to be on the low side, which would pull in the opposite direction. 38 Derek Keene's work on Cheapside suggests that rents there were falling slowly from about 1370, Keene, 'Landlords', p.107 39 Assuming that it was by now in the hospital's possession, see Chapter 2. Its value is not known until the Dissolution when it was worth £ 16 per annum, but it may have been worth much less at this time, see Chapter 4. 34


How was the money raised?

This was a huge task William had taken on, one more usually in the past assumed by the aristocracy or the higher clergy. Though clearly among the more prosperous of London's citizens, there is no evidence that William was enormously rich.4o The evidence is that he devoted everything he had to the task, making no bequests or known gifts in life to other causes and leaving only a modest bequest to his son. He personally acquired many of the properties which eventually went to the hospital: fourteen out of the thirty five were acquired by him with no indication of the involvement of another party, plus four other properties which did not form part of the permanent endowment. In another nine cases, six which came to form part of the endowment, three which did not, he made the acquisition himself but there is evidence to suggest that others may have been involved as well. It is no.t however, possible to be certain that these were purchases by him rather than gifts. Sometimes there is mention of 'gersumma', the consideration, which would indicate that some money had changed hands.41 But even this does not make it absolutely certain that this was a commercial transaction. In some cases, William quite clearly paid for a property but a chantry was also established for the vendor as part of the transaction: for example in the case of Richard Coprest de Syvelesho, who in 1329 sold William a property for fifty marks on condition he set up a chantry for Thomas de Bedford.


Even if a transaction was a commercial one, the

money used may not have been William's own but the proceeds of gifts to the hospital. He had access to some charitable cash with which to invest, since some properties which he sold had clearly been given with charitable intent and presumably he reinvested the money. For example in 1338 he sold some rents in Staining Lane which had been given to him by William Gayton."

Properties which he had acquired early are the most likely candidates to have been purchased with his own money, since until 1328,when he applied for his mortmain licence for the properties in which the hospital was built, there was no institution to be supported. By that time he had acquired three properties in St Lawrence Lane, two of them valued in 1328 at £15 lOs gross per annum, and a property in Gracechurch Street 40

See Chapter 1.

Rubin, p.206. 42 Property 14. 43 Property 35. 41


which he later sold, retaining a quit rent which he eventually gave to the hospital." If all fourteen of the properties which eventually went to the hospital which appear to be William's gift alone were indeed bought by him, then he was directly responsible for over 40% of the properties going to the hospital. It so happens that for much of this property there are mortmain valuations, which total over £40 per annum. So on that basis William may personally have been responsible for between one quarter and one third of the total endowment.

Even if his direct financial contribution was less than this, he was probably largely instrumental in raising the rest of the endowment from others. We have already seen how he secured support from St Paul's in the form of the appropriation of the rectory of the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury.

The following sections show how he secured

gifts and bequests from relatives and others, mostly Londoners, appealing to their self interest by offering chantries and prayers for the sake of their souls and making it easy for people to give during their lives rather than waiting for the less certain bequest. William was clearly oiling the wheels of transactions with donors, sometimes with quite large sums of money. He was also quite successful in negotiating with executors to secure donations, some of them from benefactors long dead. Given the size of William's ambition and the limited nature of his own resources, he needed to be very active in securing support from others to put the hospital on its feet.

Gifts from William Elsyng's relatives

The first and most obvious port of call would be William's own relatives. One of the most substantial endowments the hospital received was from William's brother Richard, a wealthy mercer who died in 1332.45 This included a very large property which he acquired shortly before his death, almost certainly specifically for the hospital." In his will Richard instructed his executors, who included William, to give to William or, if he died before probate, to the warden and priests of the hospital, first refusal on the

44 4$ 46

Properties 17, 18 and 19 and 40 and 41. His will is LMA,HR 60/93. Property 26.


property for £60.47 In return William was to set up a ten-year chantry for Richard, his wife, parents, brothers and sisters. The following year the other executors duly sold the property to William. The mortmain valuation, in April 1334, was for £4 7s 8d per annum net for the two tenements making up the property, a modest valuation for a property which Richard was almost certainly selling to his brother for a good deal less than its real value. The property was being let for £20 6s 8d per annum in 1403-4 and continued as a significant part of the hospital's endowment until the Dissolution. Richard also left shops and houses in the Poultry to his widow Sabina for life, or until she remarried, remaindered to the hospital." That did not take long: Sabina seems to have remarried by 1335.49 From these properties Richard asked for a perpetual chantry for himself, Sabina, his father and mother and brothers and sisters: presumably the earlier ten year chantry from the Cordwainer property was to tide them over before this became available. Anything left over was to go to the work of the chapel.



property was worth £8 per annum in 1403-4 and probably remained with the hospital until the Dissolution.51 Richard also possessed three quitrents from property in the Poultry or nearby, at least two of which, amounting in value to 30s 8d per annum, found their way to the hospital as they were specifically mentioned in William Elsyng's will.52 Perhaps in Richard's will they were assumed to be included with the Poultry properties, or William gave them to the hospital under his powers as executor.

Richard was probably the hospital's largest benefactor, but there is not much evidence of other help from William's family. There is no record at all of any gift from William's sister Alice either in life or in her will, although as the widow of a very wealthy merchant she must have been reasonably well off: her chantry was established in the

Richard's other executors were Nicholas atte Merssh and Nicholas de Greenwich, both mercers, LMA, HR60/93. For numerous references to Merssh (or Marsh) see O'Connor and for Greenwich, Sutton,


Mercery. 48

Property 30. Richard bought these shops from Thomas Ie Barber of Bread Street in 1329, LMA,


In a lease of 1335 she is described as 'Sabina de Gartone', wife of Robert Hecham and mother of William, son of William de Gartone. De Gartone, a mercer, was her husband before Richard and the deed concerned de Gartone property. LBE, p. 295. 50 It was common in London wills for chantries not to come into effect until heirs died or remarried, so that they could have the use of the property in the meantime, but control remained with the testator, Jamieson Weetman, 'Testamentary Piety and Charity in London 1259-1370', (unpublished D Phil thesis, University of Oxford, 2003), p.70. 51 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. 52 Property 31. The amount quoted in the will for one of them is 2s less than in the original transaction, 20s 8d instead of22s 8d. 49


church of St Thomas Acre, close to where she lived. 53 However Geoffrey de Brandon, her first husband, who was long dead when the hospital was founded, had a chantry established for him under William's will using income from Richard de Elsyng's Cordwainer Street properties, so perhaps some of Geoffrey's money had found its way into that transaction.54William's

son Robert survived his father by only a little more

than a year, and left no permanent endowment to the hospital."

But he did leave £12 in

cash for a one year chantry for three priests at £4 each, to pray for himself, his deceased wife Alianora, and his father and mother. He gave no specific instructions about burial, but left 20s to the high altar ofSt Lawrence Jewry. His main concern, as we have seen, was for his orphaned baby son Thomas, but the distribution of gifts to other houses and good causes in the event of Thomas's death suggest a wide philanthropic concern not focussed on the hospital.


Gifts in return for chantries and prayers

With a limited contribution from his family, William needed to tap friends and acquaintances. The main inducement he had to offer were chantries, obits or anniversaries, occasions on which a priest in the hospital would pray for the donor and his family thus speeding up their progress through purgatory.


The request~ for

chantries in deeds and wills were simply expressed by asking for a suitable chaplain to say prayers for the donor and his family, and perpetual chantries needed to be backed by property to pay the salary of the chaplain. A donor might specify that in servicing his chantry another priest was to be employed over and above the number already in the hospital. This would mean that the chantry would benefit the hospital only if the endowment was more than sufficient to maintain the priest. In two cases where the sum for the chantries was specified it was for six marks a year (£4) and in one other for five and a half. 58 But more often the donor did not specify that there was to be an extra priest LMA, HR77/21S. The chantry was also for her two husbands, Geoffrey de Brandon and John de Orleton. 54 Property 26. William had been one of Geoffrey's executors. LBE, pp.150, 168,207. 55 See Chapter 1. 56LMA, HR78/201. 57 A chantry has been described as 'a mass .... recited at an altar for the wellbeing and good estate of the founder during his lifetime and for the repose of his soul after death', G.N.Cook, Medieval Chantries and Chantry Chapels (London, 1947), p.7. 58 The three cases were Stoke, see property 19, Sabrichesworth, property 34 and Robert de Elsyng, see above. In the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, many chantries had an income of five marks or less. A decree to regulate the wages of priests without care of souls attempted to fix the stipend at five 53

Footnotes continued on next page


and by encouraging such gifts William might aim to get the salaries of the four priests paid for through endowed chantries. William set out six perpetual chantries in his will, each for one chaplain or canon, funded from the hospital's property listed in the will. He did not specify that the priest or canon should be additional to those already in the hospital, indeed most of the chantries, as we shall see, should already have been in place. This appears to be a summary of the perpetual chantries in place at William's death, although not all were to be funded from the same properties that had been originally given.

The first chantry was for Robert Ie Fruyterer (otherwise Robert de Cherringe, fruiterer) and his wife Matilda, Margarete and Margarete (sic), perhaps their children, funded from the tenements in Philip Lane he had granted to the hospital. William had agreed to set up a chantry for them at the time of the gift. 59 The arrangement was obviously made during Cherringe' s lifetime and not repeated in his will, for when in January 1331 his executors proved his will at the Court of Husting in the usual way, he was found to have left instructions that his property in Philip Lane was to be sold to fulfil his testament, with no mention of William Elsyng or the hospital. The will was challenged by William who claimed that he had been granted the Philip Lane tenements by Robert de Cherringe for himself and his successors as warden and he was able to produce a document of Robert's in court to prove it.60 This document, which was said to have been drawn up a long time before Robert's death, obviously stood up to inspection, for on 18 February 1331 the executors lodged a deed confirming the rights of William and the hospital to the Philip Lane tenements. The deed also set out William's agreement for himself and his successors as warden to carry out the wishes Robert had apparently expressed in his agreement with William, that is to set up a chantry in perpetuity for Robert and his wife Matilda.

The second chantry noted in William's will was established for master Ralph de Holbech, Sir Geoffrey de Holbech and Dionisia his wife and his mother and for marks in 1350 but from the mid fourteenth century there were few less than six marks and most at least seven, K.L. Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries in Britain (Cambridge, 1965), p.203 and Rosalind Hill, "A Chaunterie for Souls': London Chantries in the reign of Richard II', in eds F.R.H.de Boulay and Caroline Barron (London, 1971), p.243. 59 Property 11. 60Thedeed William produced has not survived. The agreement with the executors is LMA, HR 58/121. In it the description of William as 'custos' of the new hospital is written in over the top: presumably the clerk felt the need to add this since he had to write about William's successors as warden further on.


William, John, Simon and Thomas, perhaps children again, and for Antony Bek, funded by Ralph's tenements in St Peter Woodwharf


There is no other record ofa gift from

either of the Holbechs but there may be a connection with a rector of Holbeach, Bartholomew de Castello, for whom William also set up a chantry, see below. Antony Bek had been bishop of Durham and died in 1311. The connection with William, discussed in chapter 2, must have been through Roger de Waltham, canon of St Paul's, who bought the shop William was renting in Soper Lane along with several others to set up a chantry in 1325 for himself and Antony Bek who had been his patron.

The third chantry was for William de Carleton and Bartholomew de Castello, funded from the tenements William de Carleton once held in St Mary Aldermanbury and St Michael Bassishaw.Y The chantry was also for John and Emma: the will of William's sister Alice identifies their parents as John and Emma, though it is slightly surprising that William does not so identify them if they were meant here.


William's connection

with Carleton and Castello is long and tortuous and demonstrates how lengthy and complex the process of donation and acquisition could be. In 1295 Bartholomew de Castello, rector of Holbeach in Lincolnshire, left his houses with gardens in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury to William de Carleton for life, remaindered to a kinsman and ifhe died without heirs to be sold and put to pious uses in London.


In 1311 William

de Carleton died, leaving the mansion with houses and gardens he had from Bartholomew de Castello to the kinsman as prescribed. He also left his own tenements in St Mary Aldermanbury and 40s rent he had from some tenements in Bassishaw to Hervey, his COOk.65These were to be used to set up a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury church for himself and Bartholomew de Castello. It looks as though that rent too had Property 43. A Ralph Holbech was fellow of Peter house, Cambridge in 1335 and master in 1344, but he was still alive in 1363 so maybe more likely to be a connection of this Ralph than the man himself, Emden, Cambridge, p.309. 62 These could be properties 1 and/or 3 and 15. But properties 2 and 16 were also connected with Carleton or Castello. 63 LMA, HR77/215. . 64 LMA, HR26/9. Castello may have been the alderman of Cripple gate referred to by Beaven, pp. 235,362,369 and by Gwyn Williams, Medieval London: from Commune to Capital (London, 1963), pp.77, 216 and 252, who describes him as a 'trained royal official and clerk' as well as an alderman. Williams also says that he ended his days as a canon of Wells. but that may not be incompatible with being rector of Holbeach. Alternatively, Elsyngspital's benefactor may have been a relative. Carleton may have been the William Carleton who was justice of the Jews in 1287, LBe, p.78, who had a commission from the king in 1299 to enquire into the export of sterling and bring back the bad money, LBC, p.42, and who was witness at York in 1302 for the money the city was said to owe the king, LBC, p.237. There was a second William de Carleton who was sued for dower alongside William by the widow of Stephen Asshewy in 1343, LMA, CP67I7E. 65 Properties 3 and 15. 61


come from Castello, since a subsequent deed between Carleton's executors and a Bartholomew de Castello (presumably the kinsman) confirmed that he had given Carleton this rent." In 1324 Hervey transferred the St Mary Aldermanbury property, the quitrent and the obligation to maintain the chantry to John de Shirbourne, who had married his daughter Margery. John Shirbourne was common clerk of the city from 1335 until his death in 1354 and as a parishioner ofSt Mary Aldermanbury witnessed many of William's transactions."

In 1329 Bartholomew de Castello of Thorp Muryens, Suffolk (who must have been the original beneficiary or his heir) granted a tenement in St Mary Aldermanbury with houses and gardens to John de Shirbourne and his wife Margery for life for five marks a year, eight years to be paid in advance. The Shirbournes evidently already held the tenement and Castello owed them money." The following year, 1330, the Shirbournes granted William Elsyng their life interest and there is a quitclaim from Castello which suggests that William had acquired the reversion of the property: perhaps under the terms of the 1295 will which left the property to charity if there were no more heirs. Then in 1333 William agreed to pay the five marks a year after 1338 when the Shirbourne's eight years up front payment ran out and there is confirmation from Castello that the property was William's in perpetuity. In 1343 William gave up his rights to two rooms and a garden which the Shirbournes had continued to occupy. At the same time (so presumably in return) they granted the hospital the endowment for the chantry for Carleton and Castello in St Mary Aldermanbury, said to be the 40s annual rent from the Bassishaw tenements.t'' The quitrent would not have been enough to maintain a chantry and is not mentioned in William's will. But it is clear from the will that William was in possession of tenements in Bassishaw and St Mary Aldermanbury which had belonged to Carleton and which would more than have made up the money.


Both Carleton and Castello were clearly regarded as benefactors and a chantry had earlier been set up for Carleton from the Cordwainer Street properties, see below.

LMA, HR40/20. Betty Masters, 'City Officers III: The Town Clerk' Guildhall Miscellany, 3(1969), pp. 58·9. Shirbourne also annotated a number of William's deeds indicating when they had been entered in the court of Husting, including his will. 68 Property I. 69 Property 15. 70 Properties 15 and 3. 66



Shirbourne is not referred to in the will: he died in 1354, was buried in the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury and left no bequest to the hospital.


The fourth chantry listed in William's will was set up for William de Gayton and Ada his wife, and again John and Emma who are not identified here either. Gayton was a substantial benefactor of the hospital, described as a 'tabourer', a player of a small drum, and a herald.72 He probably lived nearby for all the property he gave to the hospital was in the north west comer of London. He died in 1337 leaving the hospital property worth £8 a year in the parish of St Botolph outside Aldersgate, from which one chaplain was to be provided to celebrate services for him and his wife Ada.73 He had earlier in 1332 given a package of properties to William Elsyng and the hospital and priests, three shops in Whitecross Street in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, all his rents in St Lawrence Lane and Staining Lane and 50s which he had from the properties William and the priests owned in Philip Lane and Gayspore Lane.74 In return there was to be a chaplain to say prayers for him, his wife, his father and mother and his brother Richard, a chantry not specified as perpetual and perhaps overtaken by the one in his will.


The mayor of London was to oversee these arrangements and for this he was to

receive a payment of two marks. There is reference to a separate charter of enfeoffment, in which all this is said to be set out in detail, but it has not survived. This gift is not repeated in Gayton's will, a demonstration of the fact that wills are only a partial source of information on charitable gifts.76 William supported the chantry in his will not with the property Gayton had left, as might have been expected, but from his own tenements in St Lawrence Lane. 77He had in fact sold the property in Staining Lane in 1338 and he left the St Botolph property in his will to his son Robert, a good example of how he made no distinction between the hospital's property and his own.78 The shops in LMA, HR82/69. LMA, HR62/26. Gayton is mentioned above as the donor of clothing for the poor in the hospital. 73 Property 39. 74 The St. Giles properties are property 36, the St. Lawrence Lane property 25, Staining Lane property 35 and the 50s rent property 13. 75 There is a reference in 1346 to John Gayton, son of Richard Gayton, probably the brother mentioned in the chantry, as being a 'vitour', a maker or player of viols, so they appear to be a family of musicians, LBF, p.139. 76 Clive Burgess has pointed out that wills are a very partial guide to the totality of giving, Burgess, pp.837-858. Jamieson Weetman, who looked at the Husting wills and deeds in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, found that many gifts were made by deed and that these were not repeated in wills, 'Testamentary Piety', p.37. 77 Properties 17 and 19. Changing the rents that supported a chantry was not unusual. What mattered was that the duty should be performed, Weetman, 'Testamentary Piety', p.96. 78 Properties 35 and 39. 71



Whitecross Street are specifically mentioned in William's will, as is a cellar and shop on the corner ofSt Lawrence Lane and West Chepe, probably the rents mentioned above, let for £3 2s 8d per annum in 1403-4.


The latter certainly stayed with the

hospital until the Dissolution and property in Whitecross Street was also then still among the hospital's possessions.f

The fifth chantry was established for William's brother Richard and his wife Sabina, funded by the properties in the Poultry which, as shown above, Richard had left for that purpose in his will, once Sabina had died or remarried.i'Also

included in the chantry

were John Foneryer and Margaret, Thomas and Alice, none of whom is identifiable.

Finally there was a chantry for Thomas de Kynyngham, Geoffrey de Brandon and Agatha and John, provided by William's tenements in St Mary Ie Bow. 82This is a reference to the tenements in Cordwainer Street left by William's brother Richard in 1332. William had formally made these tenements over to the hospital in 1334 after he acquired them from Richard's executors and in doing so laid an obligation on the hospital to maintain a chantry for master Thomas Kynyngham and William de Carleton, for whom see above, to be celebrated every day following the instructions of Thomas Kynyngham's

executors. The executors were said to have paid a sum of money so,

clearly, they had met at any rate part of the purchase price of the Cordwainer Street tenements."

Thomas Kynyngham was Carleton's executor so some of Carleton's

money may have been involved as well." The chantry is specifically said to be for one priest beyond the number already in the hospital, so a chantry priest would have had to be employed, no doubt at the insistence of Kynyngham's executors. And it may have been at the insistence of those same executors that William formally handed this property over to the hospital, and acquired a mortmain licence for it, rather than holding it himself during his lifetime as he was to do with many others. Presumably William did not think it necessary to join Carleton with this chantry as he was already separately Properties 36 and 25. Gazeteer, 104/37; TNA, SC6/HENVIIlI2345. 81 Property 30. 82 Property 26. 83 The executors were William de Corton, parson of the church at Therfeld, Thomas Courson and Martin de Crebs. The chantry is referred to in the mortmain papers where William de Corton is also named as a beneficiary but the deed in which WilIiam made the properties over to the hospital, LMA. HR 62/60, does not so refer to him alongside Kynyngham and Carleton nor is he mentioned in William Elsyng's will so it seems unlikely that he was indeed a benefactor. 84 Carleton's will in 1311 is LMA, HR 40/11. William de Corton was also one of his executors. 79 80


provided for, see above. The inclusion of Geoffrey de Brandon, William's sister Alice's husband, whose executor William had been, suggests that some of his money had also gone into the purchase of the Cordwainer Street property.

So five of these six perpetual chantries pick up commitments made earlier which William restated and reformulated in his will. The exception is the Holbech chantry, but that may be just a case of missing documentation. But there are a further five chantries William had used to secure gifts for the hospital but which are not mentioned in the will. In two cases the chantry may have run its course. The Bedford chantry, part of the transaction in which William bought a property in St Alphage from Richard Coprest de Syvelesho in 1329, has already been mentioned."

The time and place for setting up the

chantry was to be arranged by William within the city of London: this was of course before any of the founding charters had been drawn up, hence perhaps this flexibility. However

William was obviously dilatory, for in January 1331 he was summonsed by

Bedford's executors to fulfil his testament.l? This was not specified as a perpetual chantry and William sold a property in St Alphage which was probably this one in 1337, so the chantry had probably run its course or never been set up. The other case was in December 1331, when William, acting, he says, specifically on behalf of the warden and priests of the hospital, sold a property in Coleman Street which had been granted to the hospital by John Sabrichesworth and his wife Alicia Gentil, to Philip Gentil senior, a fellmonger, for seventy two marks." It looks as though this was a prearranged transaction within the family, perhaps through executors, and that it had never been intended that the hospital should keep the property. William agreed to set up a chantry for six marks annually for a chaplain to say services for the health of John de Sabrichesworth and the souls of Alice Gentil, his wife, and others in perpetuity. What the gift element of this transaction was is not clear but it may be that the sum was regarded as exhausted by 1349.

One of the other chantries had not yet begun when William drew up his will. In 1342, Sir John de Montgomery gave the hospital a tenement in St Mary Aldermanbury on reversion from John de Eston, clerk, to whom Montgomery had granted it for life. From

., Property 14. LMA, CP54/12C . • 7 Property 34.



the future income from the property a chantry was to be set up in perpetuity for one canon beyond the prior and the four already in the hospital, for himself, his father and mother, his wife and for Marie, Countess of Pembroke.


John de Eston was still alive in

1349 and the property was finally granted to the hospital in 1359 by Thomas de Eston, mercer, presumably a relative and executor of John. Montgomery was active in the service of the Crown, admiral of the fleet from the mouth of the Thames westward in 1342, when the mayor and sheriffs were asked to supply him with victuals and archers." He also traded in wool: in 1341 he and his wife claimed ownership of five and a half sacks of wool taken by the king's customs and one of the London sheriffs from an Essex ship on the Thames./"

The remaining two chantries may also not yet have begun. William had agreed in 1330 to pay Hugh de Stoke and his wife Lucy a quitrent of six marks a year for life from his tenements in St Lawrence Lane, the payment to go after their death to support a chantry for their souls and for Stephen, Matilda, Hugh and Juliana, perhaps their children, in perpetuity." What the Stokes had given in return is not recorded, but there is no further sign of the chantry and they may still have been alive in 1349. In 1336 Margaret, widow of William de Lughteburgh, gave property in St Sepulchre outside Newgate to William and the priests of the hospital.92 The income was to be used to set up a chantry for her late husband, William, herself and others. But this was to take effect only after Margaret's death: she was to keep the property in the meantime and may have been still alive in 1349. No property in St Sepulchre is recorded in William's will, but there is a St Sepulchre property listed in the 1403.4 rental.


Perpetual chantries were backed up by property and so added to the hospital's permanent endowment but short term chantries also brought money into the hospital and may have enabled William to add to the endowment. There was, for example, the one 88 Mary de St Pol, widow of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, founder of Pembroke College, Cambridge, see Jennifer C. Ward, 'St Pol, Mary de, Countess of Pembroke (c. 1304-1377)" ODNB, article 53073, accessed 4 December 2008. The Countess, presumably a patron of Montgomery, also had local interests for in 1347 she set up a hermitage in Monkwell Street to the west of Philip Lane, LBF, E·1SO. 9 LBF, p.73. There are numerous references to him in CPR. 9OTNA,EI22/I93/I2 miS. I am indebted to Dr. Stephen O'Connor for this reference. 91 Property 19. 92 Property 46. See below for details of William de Lughteburgh. 93 There had however been another bequest in this parish in the meantime and it is not possible to tell which property this is, TNA, SC6/1304/S.


year chantry for three priests set up by William's son Robert in 1350 and the ten year chantry established by his brother Richard in 1332, see above. But there were others. In 1331 Thomas de Leyre, alderman of Cripplegate from 1326, left two properties in Friday Street and Walbrook to be sold and 100s given to the hospital for the souls of his father and mother.f" Thomas was alderman of the ward during the time when William was setting up the hospital and witnessed a good many of the early deeds." In 1345 John de Aylesham, a wealthy mercer and alderman, sheriff in 1343-44, left five and a half marks for a chantry for one year for himself, Richard de Rokelound and Bartholomew de Hyndryngham, two marks for the work of the hospital and half a mark for the poor infirm living there." It is quite possible that there were other short term chantries which have gone unrecorded because bequests other than property only really began to appear in wills enrolled in the court of Husting in the 1340s and did not become common until after 1351. 97

Gifts for the work of the hospital

Some gifts specifically refer to the work of the hospital and for some this may have been a strong motivating factor and one which William could use to persuade donors to give. The two concerns, for the poor and sick and for the future of the donor's soul, were of course deeply intermingled but there is no doubt that some of the early donors (and as we have seen William himself) used more expressive language than was the case later, and all relate to the blind and the paralysed.98 In setting up his chantry in 1330, Hugh de Stoke asked for the money to go to the poor blind of the hospital 'ad allevamen miserime inopie eorumdem et vite solamen', in perpetual alms.


In the same

year John Braz gave a substantial property on the comer of Ironmonger Lane and West Chepe and 30s a year quitrent from the tenement next door to the hundred blind people in the hospital to alleviate their misery, using similar terminology as in Hugh Stoke's

LMA, HRS9/48. Beaven, vol. 1, p.128. 96LMA,HR 72/118; Beaven, vol. 1, p.386. 97 Weetman, 'Testamentary Piety', pp. 42-49 and 90. Weetman puts the change down to a change in recording practice not to a sudden increase in piety. 98 Noted however Carole Rawclitfe' s warning: 'Any historian attempting to disentangle, let alone rank, the motives of medieval benefactors is, in the final resort, bent on an anachronistic and essentially fruitless task', see "A Word from our Sponsor': advertising the patron in the medieval hospital', in Henderson, p.188. 99 LMA, HR58/35, property 19. 94 93


bequest, in pure alms for John's soul and those of his mother and father.


Braz was a

parishioner of either St Alphage or St Mary Aldermanbury and was one of the jurors on the bishop's inquest in 1330.101 He did not ask for a chantry, although the lronmonger Lane property was a very substantial gift: it was let for £9 per annum in 1403-4 and it remained with the hospital until the Dissolution.lo2 There was also William Gayton's gift of an annual suit of clothes for thirty poor blind or paralysed people in the hospital, the only gift of its kind in William's lifetime.l'" Another mention of the work of the hospital was in the transaction by William in 1341 when he gave up title to a tenement in East Smithfield to Thomas Heywood and his wife. In return Thomas gave money 'ad ardua negotia et opera' of the hospital.i'"

Gifts secured in life rather than at death

Donations to the hospital generally took the form of deeds giving gifts during the donor's lifetime, rather than bequests in wills. Over the whole foundation period only two individuals, Richard de Elsyng and William Gayton, left property to the hospital by will and Gayton had already made a substantial gift in life (not repeated in his will). William would have needed money to get the hospital started and was evidently successful in securing current donations at his time of greatest need. Securing the position during the donor's lifetime was important even if the need became less pressing over time, because wills were often made very shortly before death and the hospital's claim might get overlooked: in the case of Robert de Cherringe William had to contest the will on the basis of a deed granting the hospital the property made during Cherringe's life. lOS Ifit was difficult for the donor to give immediately William used a number of devices to make it possible for the gift at least to be secured in life. In the Stokes' case, for example, it seems likely that they had given some property and he provided for them by means of an annuity for life.


Margaret Lughteburgh granted

him her property and he granted it back for life, presumably so that she could live in it or enjoy the income, while he had secured the property for the hospital in the long Properties 28 and 29. TNA, E135/2117 and LRI4/113. 102 Gazetteer. 95/18. 103 LMA, HR60/57. Later there were to be other gifts for example of bedding, see Chapter S, and they were not uncommon, see 'London Hospitals', pp.l2-13. I04TNA, E210/5125, property 44. 10' See property 11. 106 See property I. 100



term.l07 In Sir John Montgomery's case the property was secured on reversion, but the arrangement was made during Montgomery's lifetime, so that William had some assurance that the gift would be made.


Gifts from executors

Executors were frequently left with funds to invest for the good of the soul of the departed, and in a number of cases William secured gifts for the hospital which appear to have come from such executors. Given that the hospital was so new, and not therefore perhaps an obvious choice, he may have had deliberately to cultivate executors. One already mentioned may have been Richard Coprest de Syvelesho who sold William a property in return for a chantry for Thomas de Bedford in October 1329.109 Others were the executors of Thomas Kynyngham, also referred to above, who contributed to the Cordwainer Street property left by William's brother Richard. The chantry they asked to be set up was to include William de Carleton, another benefactor. Kynyngham had been one of his executors and William de Corton, parson of Therfeld was executor to both men, so it seems likely that some of Carleton's money went into it also. I 10 William himself also acted as executor for four donors, William Gayton, Roger de Forsham, his brother Richard and brother-in-law Geoffrey de Brandon, and no doubt he was able to use that position to the advantage of his hospital.'!'

Gifts in return for care

Another possibility is that William was able to offer care in the hospital and received help for the hospital in return. Strictly speaking the hospital rule required that all inmates leave all their possessions to the hospital anyway, but if wealthier people were admitted it might not have been on quite the same basis.

I 12

Such an arrangement is not

made explicit in any of the documents, but a possible candidate is William 107 Property 46. What William was doing was similar to the retirement contracts which would later be operated by hospitals in Florence, under which the elderly and widows made over their property in return for an income for life, see John Henderson, 'The hospitals of later medieval Florence: a preliminary survey', Granshaw and Porter, p.78. lOS See property 7. 109 Property 14. 110 Property 26. 111 LMA, HR64/31, HR781210, HR60/93; LBE, p.150. 112 See Appendix 3.


Lughteburgh, whose wife Margaret gave a tenement to the hospital which William returned for life. Lughteburgh is described in the deeds as 'nuncio' to the king of England, one of the king's messengers, first recorded c.1300 and regularly employed by Edward II. In 1323 the king asked Holy Trinity Priory, London to maintain him for life but there seems to have been no response and Lughteburgh continued to work. In 1333 Edward III made the same request of Battle Abbey, but by 1335 Lughteburgh was dead and the king withdrew the request.


It is possible that when he needed care, William

had taken him into the hospital and the gift from Margaret was in recognition of this.

The benefactors

There were twenty individuals or couples all told who can reasonably confidently be identified as benefactors of the hospital up to the time of William's death. 114 There could well have been more, because of the difficulty of being certain whether a grant to William or the hospital was a gift or a sale, or something of each. Those named in chantries provide a starting point. Eight individuals or couples named in the six chantries set up in William's will seem likely to be benefactors. This does not include all the names, since those without surnames may have been children and there are a number of others who seem likely to be being commemorated rather than being donors themselves: Antony Bek, bishop of Durham, long dead, for example, and Sir Geoffrey de Holbech, of whom nothing is known, but who was probably being remembered by master Ralph de Holbech, who had owned the property on which the chantry depended.


Then there were the other five chantries mentioned above set up by during

William's lifetime. Two others gave property and there were five cash donors, two of them setting up short term chantries, making twenty in all.

Not all occupations are known but of those that are, five, all with chantries, were probably priests, three with the courtesy title of 'magister', one 'dominus' and the fifth a rector. Seven were merchants or tradesmen. Four of these were mercers including two from William's own family, his brother Richard and brother in law Geoffrey de

Mary C. Hill, King's Messengers J J 99- J 377 (Stroud, 1994), pp 65·7. See the Introduction for an explanation of the way the wills and deeds were searched. In this period William Elsyng's own will, see Appendix 1, was another fruitful source. Robert de Elsyng, William's son, has been omitted from this analysis as his bequest was the following year. m Appendix 1. 113



Brandon, the others were a fruiterer, a draper and a joiner. Two of the donors were in the king's service, John Montgomery, knight and admiral, and William Lughteburgh, husband of the donor Margaret, king's messenger and herald.


William Gayton was

also a herald and a tabourer. Four had been city officials: Forsham, for whom see below, and Aylesham, the two mercers, aldermen and sheriffs, and Leyre and Castello (if indeed the donor was the alderman of Cripple gate ward of that name, see above).


There were two women, Margaret Lughteburgh and Isabella Lytere, who gave in their own names, though a number of others were named with their husbands in chantries.!'! It may be of course that, where chantries were set up by executors, the decision to give to the hospital was made by the executor rather than reflecting any expressed wish by the donor, but where known their trades do not present any different picture: one of the executors of Thomas Kynyngham and William de Carleton was another priest, William de Corton, and a fellmonger, Philip Gentil, was involved in the transaction setting up the chantry for John de Sabrichesworth.I''' What is most noticeable about this list is its variety. The predominance of mercers is not surprising but the numbers are so small as to suggest that this was a matter of personal friendship rather than any wider support from the mercers as a group. The only other sizeable group is the clergy, who represented a quarter of the donors, and mainly through executors: perhaps with no direct descendants executors had more scope to search out good causes. Few are identified as London citizens: the officials all must have been and the mercers and the draper, possibly also the fruiterer and the joiner.

Some of these donors of course gave quite small amounts: Isabella Lytere, for example, gave a quitrent of 4s a year. 120 The major donors were Richard de Elsyng with the large property in Cordwainer Street and property in the Poultry, John Braz who gave the large property in Ironmonger Lane, and William Gayton, tabourer and herald who gave properties in a number of different areas of the city. 121 Quite a number of the donations were from the area round the hospital, with five of the properties situated in St Alphage or St Mary Aldermanbury. That does not necessarily mean that the donors lived in that

Properties 7 and 46. 117 LMA, HR75/132, HR72/118, HR59/48. 118 Properties 46 and 38. 119 Property 26 and above; property 34. 120 Property 38. 121 Richard de Elsyng, properties 26, 30 and 31; John Braz, properties 27, 28 and 29; William Gayton properties 13,25,35,36 and 39. 116


area but they may well have done, and proximity to the hospital may have made them more inclined to give as well as encouraging William to seek out donations. More than half the donations were made early on, between 1329 and 1332, at the time when William was first setting up the hospital. There is no record of any donors being buried at the hospital: there are in any case relatively few wills and only one of these recorded the place of burial, John de Aylesham who was buried in St Paul's.


Very few cash donations are known and probably only the larger ones have been recorded. Two are known because the money was used to set up short term chantries as with John de Aylesham and Thomas de Leyre, see above. Another substantial cash donation came from Roger de Forsham, a wealthy mercer, sheriff 1339-40 and alderman 1338-43. In 1348 he left the hospital one third of the debts which were due to him from Master Paul de Monte Florum and John de Portener merchant of Florence.


Unfortunately the will did not record how much was owed but it could have been a good deal: William's brother Richard died with over £170 owing to him from just two individuals and over £180 was owing to William's son Robert when he died. 124 Thomas Heywood gave an unspecified cash sum for the work of the hospital, and John de Wynchestre contracted to give a silver penny each year.12S But there must have been many other more modest donations, especially from those living locally to the hospital, which have gone unrecorded. The men of the two parishes who regularly witnessed William's deeds must surely have contributed something: for example Peter Ie Peyntour who had a tenement in or near Philip Lane, witnessed over twenty deeds and was a juror at the bishop's inquest into the building of the hospital and Roger Mymmes, parishioner of St Alphage, witnessed nearly as often and was also a juror.


Also perhaps William's

neighbours in St Lawrence Jewry might have been expected to make a contribution, for example John Ie Chaundler, another frequent witness, John atte Barnette, who had property in 8t Lawrence Lane, William Aylward, who had a tenement next to William

122LMA, HR72/11S. 123LMA,HR75/132. William was one ofForsham's executors. Paul de Monte Florum was a canon ofSt Paul's, Fasti, p.47. He is described as an agent of the king, selling wool in 1339, J.L.Bolton, The Medieval English Economy l/SO-/SOO (London, 1980), p.199. 124Sutton, 'Mercery Trade', p.65; LMA, HR78/210. 125TNA, E21015125; LMA, HR7113S. 126Peter Ie Peyntour's tenement is referred to in LMA, HR72/42. The bishop's inquest is TNA, LR14/113 and E135121n. Examples of deeds witnessed by the two are TNA, LR141559, John de Montgomery's gift, property 7 and LMA, HR70/103, the sale of tenements in Philip Lane to William, property 10.


in St Lawrence Lane, and many others.127 But cash gifts in life would not necessarily be recorded and Husting wills at this time commonly recorded only property bequests.


Later in the hospital's history there were considerable numbers of very small bequests to the hospital and to the poor living there and this may well have been the case in William's time.

Managing the process

Mortmain licences Giving property to a religious institution required the donor to secure a licence from the king exempting it from the statute of mortmain. In 1279 the statute had banned all further alienation of property to religious institutions. Property held by the church did not pay the normal feudal dues and, since it was normally held in perpetuity, landlords lost the benefits of lucrative events which occurred only on change of ownership, wardship for example, or the right of escheat if there were no successor.


The church had steadily increased its accumulation of property: in London

in 1312 it was said to hold possibly one third of the rents of the city.130 In practice by the 1290s the outright ban was no longer being maintained and licences for religious houses were being issued for a price, and by William's time these had become fairly routine. It was not unknown for a religious house to omit to secure a licence, but if it was found out it would be liable to forfeit the property, or pay a fine. However in London, exceptionally, citizens did not have to have a licence in order to leave a property to a religious house by will, a right much prized and one which had just been confirmed by Edward III in 1327 after a period of some doubt.


A licence required a petition to parliament and could be either for a specific property or a general licence could be acquired for property up to a given annual sum. Even with a general licence, however, a further licence for the individual property had to be secured and the net value of the property would be set against the amount for which the general licence had been granted. The advantage of having a general licence seems to have been that it may have been cheaper and failures to seek a licence at the proper time were less 127 For John atte Barnette's property see Gazetteer, 104/37. William Aylward's tenement is referred to in LMA, HR71171. 128 See above. 129 See Raban for an account of the history of mortmain. 130 Helen Chew, 'Mortmain in Medieval London', EHR, 60 (1945), p.3. 131 The right had been challenged in 1321 by the royal justices, Chew 'Mortmain ',pp.2-6.


likely to cause trouble. The case for the licence would be tested by inquisition by the escheator, who in London was the mayor, who would seek to establish what the property was worth and whether the donor had sufficient other property to meet his obligations to the Crown. So obtaining a licence was probably a good deal of trouble and some expense, though formal payment for the licence was levied in less than half the cases.


Once a property had been given to a religious house under a mortmain

licence the arrangement could not easily be changed: the hospital of St Mary within Bishopsgate, for example, had to pay a fine of20s in 1335 to change a licence from one property for another.


In his will William recorded that all his properties had been licensed in mortmain to go to the hospital, implying that the will was just providing added security. But that is not borne out by the available evidence, which records that, in addition to the property in which the hospital was built, for which he acquired a licence in 1328, William acquired licences for only twelve other properties, the two tenements in Cordwainer Street he had from his brother and ten other properties acquired between 1336 and 1339.134 He also had obtained a general licence in October 1331 under which the applications for the twelve were made and it was the licences for these twelve which were transferred to the priory in 1343, so ifhe did licence any other properties it seems likely it was after this date.135 Since most of the hospital's properties were acquired in its early days it seems unlikely that there is missing evidence that would show they were licensed after 1343. The probability is that this was the sum total of the licences and William was relying on his will to secure the rest for the hospital.


Most of these had been granted to William

himself so were clearly his to devise in his will. Of those granted to the hospital two had references to charters of enfeoffment which would have enabled William to act but his will covers all the known property which he or others had granted to the hospital, so he clearly regarded himself as competent to act across the whole front. This freedom may have been important to him, not only to avoid the trouble and expense of a mortmain licence, but also to be free to buy and sell properties to get the best outcome for the

Raban, pp. 29-71. CPR 1334-38, p.154. 134 See Chapter 2 for the 1328 licence. 135 See Chapter 2 and Appendix 2. 136 There were two properties left to the hospital in the donor's will and so already secured to it: the St Botolph property left by William Gayton, property 39, which despite this William left to his son Robert, and Richard de Elsyng's Poultry property, property 30. 132



hospital. He must have been confident that, as the hospital's patron and founder, the informal understanding of enfeoffment referred to earlier would apply and his will would be a sufficient safeguard for all of these. If this was his view the question arises why he obtained the mortmain licences at all. What was so special about those properties for which he did decide to obtain a licence?

In the case of the property in St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury in which the hospital was built, securing the site to the hospital may well have been important to the credibility of the enterprise in the eyes of the ecclesiastical and city authorities and to the those whom William was going to try to persuade the contribute. In the case of the Cordwainer Street property, it seems possible that the executors dealing with the will of Thomas Kynyngham and that of William de Carleton, for whom chantries were set up from the property, and who contributed to the purchase price, may have insisted on seeing that the property was properly vested in the hospital: the chantry is specifically mentioned in the mortmain papers in 1334 and William also drew up a deed in which he formally gave the property to the hospital, again with reference to the chantry.!"

In 1336 to 1339 there was a flurry of acquisitions" all but two in William's own name and only one of them with any indication of charitable intent. William acquired two properties in Honey Lane which formed a block with a narrow frontage on Cheapside, but running right back to the cemetery of All Hallows church, the first in December 1336 from Michael Myngihot, vintner and the second by September 1338.


He also

acquired three properties in St Lawrence Jewry in 1337 and they also look as though they formed a block, along the east of the lane. William bought them from John Christian, called Marchaunt, glovemaker, from Nicholas Potyn, deacon of Thorneby and from Nicholas de Reygate, girdler.139 William acquired a licence for all five of these properties in late 1338 and in the autumn of 1339 another licence for five more properties in the parishes ofSt Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury.l''" There were two on the west side of Gayspore Lane right next to the hospital, one from St Bartholomew's priory and the other perhaps next to that, between two tenements of the hospital and backing on to its garden, from Matilda de Hales; and two in St Alphage, Property 26. Properties 32 and 33. 139 Properties 20, 21 and 22. 140 TNA, CI43/247/14 and C1431250/13. 137 138


one belonging to Thomas de Eu and one, on the west side of Philip Lane, to Matilda la Bakere.


The inquest on these properties also covered the messuage in the parish of St

Alphage granted to the hospital in July 1339 by Thomas de Maryns, apothecary, which completed the run of properties along the road opposite the wall of London in which the hospital was built.142 The cause of all this activity may have been William's desire to turn the hospital into a house of Augustinian canons. The first mention of this is in February 1338 but William had no doubt been in discussion with the bishop'S officials about this some time before. The bishop made it quite clear that the number of canons and inmates that could be supported depended on the house's finances and he may have insisted that the finances of the house were properly secured and not left dependant on William's intention to make provision in his wil1.143

The 1331 general licence under which the twelve properties were secured was for property up to the value of £ 10 per annum.


The values for mortmain were calculated

by deducting repairs and any quitrents due on the property from the annual rent to arrive at a net figure. The Cordwainer properties were valued for mortmain at only £4 7s 8d per annum net which fell to be deducted from the £10, the Honey Lane and St Lawrence Lane properties took a further 30s per annum and the five properties in St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury another 20s, taking only £6 17s 8d of the licence altogether.14S This does not remotely reflect the actual value of the properties in terms of rental income. One of the Cordwainer tenements was being let for £10 a year in 1347; both together were bringing in over £20 per annum in 1403-4 and a single one of the Honey Lane properties nearly £11.


No gross mortmain value is known for the Cordwainer

properties, but the two Honey Lane tenements together were valued for mortmain at £13 lOs gross, suggesting a considerable undervaluation.l'" The escheator's jury who made these judgments no doubt contained at least some members who would be well known to William and may have been sympathetic to his aims. In 1334, for example, the escheator in charge was mayor John Pulteneye, who had witnessed a number of William's transactions, and the names of some of the jurors also crop up regularly: John

Properties 5, 6, 9 and 8. Appendix 2. 143 BL, CCxi33, see Chapter 2 and Appendix 2. 144 See Chapter 2 and Appendix 2. 14' TNA, C143/23113, C1431247/14, C1431247/13. 146 TNA, LR14/552, SC6/1304/8. 147 TNA, C143/247/14. 141



atte Barnette, John de Preston, girdler, Henry le Cheyner, John de Kelyngworth, who was later one of William's tenants in the property. 148Thefigures suggest that the king's officials granting the licence may have suspected some partiality, for the 30s per annum they took from the licence for the Honey Lane and St Lawrence Lane properties was rather more than the jury's net estimate and similarly with the St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury properties. 149

One reason for the very low net valuations was that the properties were very heavily encumbered with quitrents, many of them payments granted to religious houses. This was probably not unusual at this time as quitrents could be expected to accumulate over the years, but it did have the convenient effect of making the licence stretch much farther than it would otherwise have done (William had originally asked for a licence for property to the value of £40 per annum) and presumably made the properties cheaper to purchase. 150Whether it was a deliberate policy on William's part to buy heavily encumbered properties, perhaps in the hope of buying the quitrents later, is impossible to tell. But on six occasions William did buy, or persuade the owner to give, quitrents which encumbered the hospital's property, (for example a quitrent of two marks on the lronmonger Lane property which William bought from Richard de Betoyne in 1338).151The hospital was however to remain heavily encumbered with quitrents for many years to come and may have suffered as a result. 152

Location of properties There is some evidence that William was deliberately concentrating the hospital's property in two areas of London.


One was the locality of

the hospital itself: a number of his acquisitions were in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury in which the hospital was built or in the neighbouring parish of St Michael Bassishaw. Fourteen of Elsyngspital's thirty five properties were in the areas round the hospital.l'" This would make it easy for the hospital to expand should it need to, or to provide living accommodation nearby for servants or others connected to the 148

TNA, C 143/23 113.

149 Increasing the valuation in this way was not uncommon, see Raban, pp.64-S and Rosenthal, p.147. Rosenthal however attributes this, in the fifteenth century in his examples, to a desire on the part of the crown to restrict the coverage of the mortmain licence. 1'0 For the general licence see above and chapter 2. m LMA, HR65/8, property 28. Betoyne was mayor in 1326-27, London, p.328. 1'2 See chapter 4. 1'3 The hospital held no property outside London at this time presumably because all William's contacts and expertise would be in London. This was unusual for a religious house, see Chapter 4. I~ See Appendix 4.


hospital and make it easy to supervise the properties. Other religious houses also had property concentrated in their immediate neighbourhood, for example the priory of Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate, had substantial concentrations of property in St Botolph without Aidgate, St Michael and St Katherine Cree and St Olave Hart Street, parishes around the priory, and the nunneries of Clerkenwell and St Helens also had significant concentrations of property around their houses.


But in terms of Elsyngspital' s

endowment this was probably not the best location: prime property was not likely to lie on the edge of the city near the wall.

The other area in which property was concentrated was the parishes round Cheapside, in particular St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary le Bow, St Martin Pomary, St Mildred in Poultry and All Hallows, Honey Lane. 156This was a prosperous business district where the mercers, including William, had their shops and the hospital had some large properties here, in particular Richard Elsyng's Cordwainer Street tenements, the big Ironmonger Lane property given by John Braz and the properties William had bought along St Lawrence LaneY' Sixteen of the hospital's properties were in these areas and, on the basis of the 1403-4 rents, they fetched a great deal more than the many smalliettings round the hospital, around £90 per annum as against around £40.158 William was deliberately acquiring properties in the two favoured areas: for example all the properties he acquired for the mortmain licences in 1338 and 1339 were in these two areas. One, that owned by Matilda de Hales, very close to the hospital, he seemed particularly anxious to acquire for he gave in return a quitrent of 13s 4d annually for her and her children and their heirs on a brewery he owned in St Lawrence Lane.



also seems to have been trading in other properties in order to get the locations he wanted. Eight of the thirteen properties he or the hospital was known to have had outside these areas were disposed of, whereas only two went in the area round the hospital and only one, some quitrents William left to his son, in the area round

The Cartulary a/Holy Trinity Aldgate, ed. Gerald A.J.Hodgett (London, 1971), p. xvi; Paxton, p.233. See Appendix 4. 1S7 William was not alone in his interest in Cheapside property. Stephen O'Connor notes that Adam Fraunceys, a very wealthy mercer and a near contemporary of William's, also concentrated his resources in that district, 'the commercial heart of the city', O'Connor, pp.60-61. IS8 These figures take all the property in the relevant parishes in the 1403-4 rental and deduct properties known to have been acquired after 1349, TNA, SC6/1304/S. IS9 See property 6. In investing in brewing, like other merchants William was pursuing what Sylvia Thrupp calls 'a safe and profitable sideline', Thrupp, p.S. ISS



Cheapside.i'" In order to do this of course William had himself to have control of the properties, as he did through the informal enfeoffment process mentioned above.

Timing and nature of acquisitions We saw earlier that about half the donations of property known were made around the time the hospital was being founded, in the late 1320s and early 1330s. The pattern of all acquisitions (donations are included in this analysis) is a little different. There were a few very early purchases in the early 1320s, probably as William made his first ventures into property ownership. Then there was a flurry of acquisitions around the time of the foundation and another flurry in the late 1330s, when the mortmain properties were being purchased. Acquisitions continued into the 1340s but at a slower pace, the last being made in 1347 and sold again in 1348. So although the time of greatest activity, as one might expect, was in the 1330s, William continued to deal in properties right up to the time of his death.

Rents from property, which were to be the mainstay of the hospital's endowment, could vary with economic conditions and one protection against rents falling was to buy quitrents which were fixed for all time in cash terms. William acquired a number of these: four worth about £5 per annum were mentioned in his will but there is evidence of the acquisition of five others worth over £6 and there is evidence that the hospital remained in possession of two of those.


The hospital needed these in particular

because, as explained above, it had so many quitrents it had to payout, also fixed in cash terms: the hospital had to pay quitrents worth about £20 per annum, a figure derived mainly from the mortmain documents, and these would be a particular burden when rents fell as they were to dO.162


By the time he died William had accumulated a property portfolio for the hospital sufficient for its needs as they would have appeared to be at that time. He could not have foreseen the catastrophic fall in its value that would take place in the next century, See Appendix 4. . For the quitrents see properties 13, 16,27,29, 3 I(three rents),38 and 41. Those in the will are 29, 31 (two quitrents) and 41. Of the others 27 and 38 are specifically referred to later. 162 This is a minimum figure because in the case of the Cordwainer Street property 26, which must have been heavily encumbered judging by its low valuation, only a net value is given with no details of quitrents. Quitrents which William bought back, see above, have been deducted from this total. 160



but despite this the property that he left to the hospital probably still made up about half of its London portfolio at the Dissolution and about 40% of the total. 163 Many of the same properties are recognisable in the later accounts and only one is known to have been lost by litigation in a litigious age, a tribute to the care William must have taken to see that his acquisitions were carefully investigated and recorded.

164 Although


acquisitions widened the spread of property within London and added some in the country, the core of the hospital's property remained in his two prime locations, round the hospital and in the vicinity of Cheapside.

The creation of the endowment was clearly his own personal achievement. As has been shown, he may himself have provided between one quarter and one third of the total endowment, but also masterminded and controlled the whole process, with power to deal in properties even when they had been given by others and handling the whole process of acquisition and sale and the obtaining of licences. The help he got from others was especially evident in setting up chantries: by 1338 there were eight priests in the hospital compared with the original four, presumably to serve the chantries, and a deed of the newly appointed bishop of London, Ralph Stratford, in 1340, consecrated the newly constructed altars, which would have been needed for the additional chantries.16sSix perpetual chantries, most of them previously constituted, were set up in William's will and five others had been established during his lifetime. Only two of these had specified that the priest must be additional to those already in the hospital, so William would have been able to use the proceeds to support some of the existing priests, which would have been much the most economical arrangement.



some donors, like William, were moved by the plight of those in the hospital as well as by the desire for prayers. In other cases he was able to make arrangements to make giving in life easy, so that he could secure property early for the hospital and not have to wait for more uncertain wills. He made full use of the London citizen's freedom to devise property by will rather than to use the mortmain process and saved money and 163 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. This is a rough estimate. There had been some new acquisitions in a number of parishes where William left property which cannot be distinguished from William's property in the 1536 valuation and a rough adjustment has been made from other information available on values. Sethina Watson found, admittedly with hospitals founded a little earlier, before the end of the thirteenth century, that the property established at the foundation 'typically constituted the major holding of the hospital until its dissolution', Watson, p.87. 164 Property 32. 16' BL, CCix33; TNA, LR14/551 166 The two were Thomas de Kynyngham, LMA, HR 62/60, property 26 and John de Montgomery, TNA, LR14/559, property 7.


gave himself freedom to buy and sell in the process. It was not unusual for founders of religious institutions to be very active in setting up their foundations: Rosenthal in his survey of aristocratic giving comments that 'Most foundations were basically the end products of one man's attention', but it is hard to believe that his aristocrats were as deeply and personally involved over such a long period as William.167

This completes the account of the hospital's foundation and early days. Driven by his own active concern for the poor infirm in the city, which he reiterated in his will, William had built an institution which would last for two hundred years. He had done so with no rich or powerful patron, but had put everything he had into it, both in terms of property and his own time, energy, and ability. He had successfully negotiated the considerable hurdles to be overcome in the establishment of such an institution, and had secured from family and friends the financial backing he needed to supplement his own resources. When William died he left a hospital in the secure hands of regular canons under the patronage of the dean and chapter ofSt Paul's and the bishop of London, and with an endowment which was able to meet a substantial part of its needs until the Dissolution.


Rosenthal, p.58.


Part 2 Elsyngspital after William Elsyng's death Chapter 4 Economic fortunes of Elsyngspital Elsyngspital survived for over 200 years, from its foundation in 1330 to its dissolution in 1536. This longevity in itself suggests a strong institution, for many small hospitals and colleges struggled to survive their founder's death and the years after the Black Death would have been a particularly difficult environment in London, with many empty properties and a shortage oflabour. In this chapter are charted the changes in the hospital's income, property and indebtedness over its lifetime, following the founder's death. Later chapters look at other aspects of the hospital's life, in particular at the people living there, and the hospital's relationships with, and impact on, the outside world, especially in London.

There are a number of key documents which underlie much of the content of these chapters. In the early fifteenth century there are two sets of accounts: a rent collector's account in 1403-4 and a kitchener's account for the first ten months of 1408-9.1 In 1448 there is an inventory of the hospital's possessions (unfortunately without valuations), a list of its debts and a rental, made for Thomas of Lisieux, Dean of St Paul's, patron of the hospital, probably on the election of a new prior.2 In 1461 there is a short summary of the hospital's income and expenditure and a separate abbreviated rent collector's account. 3 The other key documents all come from the time of the Dissolution: the assessments made for the king along with all the other religious houses in 1535, the inventory of the hospital's possessions with the book of sale made at the time it was suppressed in 1536 and the minister's and receiver's accounts for that and following years." There are of course many other documents, including the wills of Londoners, property leases, deeds from the hospital's archives taken by the Court of I TNA, SC6/1304/8, SC6/1257/3. These accounts are said to begin from Michaelmas at the beginning, 'incipiente', of the fifth regnal year of Henry IV in the case ofTNA, SC6/1304/8 and the tenth in the case ofTNA, SC6/1257/3. This is ambiguous since the regnal year starts on 30th September, the day after Michaelmas, so strictly speaking the Michaelmas within a particular regnal year should be the one at the end of it. The use of' incipiente' however suggests that the Michaelmas the day before the year started was meant and that is what I have followed, making the accounts relate to 1403-4 and 1408-9 respectively. I am grateful to Professor Vanessa Harding for making available to me her transcription of fart ofTNA, SC6/1257/3. BL, CCxiiilO. Part of this has been printed in Redivtvum, pp. 27-30. 3 BL, CCxi68; TNA, SC6/915/25. 4 Valor, pp.389-390; TNA, E117/12128, SC6/HENVIII/2345-55 and 2424-27. See also TNA, E314/54, which includes a valor of December 1535 annotated with what may and may not be allowed as expenses for taxation purposes and a valor of May/June 1536.


Augmentations, and the records of the bishops of London and the dean and chapter ofSt Paul's.

Table 4.1 summarises what seems to be the most reliable data on the hospital's income from the founder's death to the Dissolution.i

There are a number of other references to

its income, mainly in documents concerned with taxes and subsidies, summarised in Table 4.2, but in none of these is the basis on which the income is calculated sufficiently clear for it to be used with confidence. Even the data in Table 4.1 has to be handled with care since it is not always clear what the accounts cover and the accounts of individuals in particular may well not represent the hospital's whole income or expenditure." As Table 4.1 shows, at the time of William's death the very rough estimate made in Chapter 3 put the hospital's gross income from rents at between £120 and £150 a year. Over fifty years later, in 1403-4, the rent collector's account records the gross income from rents as £186 lOs 8d a year, a very substantial increase." The 1448 rental shows rents for the Michaelmas term which, multiplied up, give £136 9s 10d gross for the year. There are problems with this account but even so there seems likely to have been a very substantial fall in London rental income.! Two accounts in 1461 put the income back nearer the level at the beginning of the century.


This rapid rise is due, not to a quirk of

the inadequacy of the figures, problematic as they are, but, as will be shown below, to the acquisition of a substantial amount of new property. Indeed the increase may have been even more, because there is some indication that not all the property acquired, and in particular not that outside London, was included. At all events by 1535, shortly before the hospital was dissolved, its gross annual income stood at £239 13s 11~d, and that from rents alone to £223 13s 11~d.lO Most of this income came from rents, but the hospital also had the income from the rectory of St Mary Aldermanbury, £ 16 per annum in 1535, and during the fifteenth century acquired the advowsons of two small churches, Stanstead Thele in Hertfordshire and Aldham in Essex, though no value is ever given for these.

See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched. The footnotes in Table 4.1 outline the issues with individual accounts. 7 TNA, SC6/1304/S. 8 BL. CCxiiilO. 9 BL. CCxi68; TNA, SC6/915I2S. 10 Valor, p.389 5



Gross rental income is the most straightforward way of charting changes in property holdings and it is also the only level at which figures are available for all the years listed in Table 4.1. The 1349 figure there is already a speculative reconstruction and there is no information for 1448, when the most significant changes in gross rent occurred. But there would, of course, have been charges and expenses in connection with property, which would have reduced the amounts available, and where they are known they are commented on later in this chapter in connection with the specific periods covered. The net income column of Table 4.1 attempts some figures on the basis of deductions for quitrents paid out, vacancies and repairs, though it is hard to know if they are on a similar basis and two of the figures are estimates using information from different years. The net income figures are more or less flat across the fifteenth century, though the deductions increase, perhaps with the growing size of the estate, from just under £71 in 1403-4 to £85 in the more reliable of the 1461 figures. But the figure that stands out is for 1535. The first figure given is the one on a comparable basis to the earlier figures. It is much higher in relation to gross income than any earlier figure, with deductions of only about £40 from a larger estate, suggesting that the hospital's position between 1461 and 1535 had improved much more than the increase in its gross income would suggest. The basis of the figure and the possible reasons for the improvement are commented on later in this chapter, in the course of the examination of the 1461-1535 period. The second figure for 1535 is from the 1535 Valor. It is not on a comparable basis to the other figures, but is of interest in its own right, as putting the hospital below the level of £200 net per annum, below which religious houses were dissolved in 1536.

Other income, not shown in Table 4.1, would be the income Elsyngspital would have had from its own church, as it was a parish in its own right and there would also be income from the bequests and gifts of Londoners. Where this involved gifts of property, they would be reflected in the rentals and accounts in Table 4.1; other gifts, as we shall see, although numerous, were unlikely to amount to large sums in total. So the fortunes of the house were very largely determined by its income from property.


Table 4.1: Annual income ofElsyngspital1349-1535 Year

1349 1403-410 1448111 1461'!I 1461-2~ 1535"

Gross London rents 14

£120-150 £186 lOs 8d £1369s lOd included but not known £177 2s £190 18s 2d

Gross countr


none none not included probably not included probably not included £32 ISs 9Yld

Spiritual incomell

Total gross income

Net Income"

not included not included not included included but not known not included

not known not known not known £198 16s 4d

not known" £ 115 lOs 11Yld not known £113 16s 4d~u

not known

£117 17s 7d~~


£239 135 11 Yld

£199 2s 6Yldl 24 £193 ISs 6Yld

II Elsyngspital had no country property until 1431. No value can be set on it until 1535. It is not clear whether it was included in the two 1461 accounts, on balance, it seems likely that it was not. 12 The church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, next to the hospital, was appropriated to it in 1331, GL, MS2S12111226 m.l. In 1435 it was worth £6 net p.a. and in 1535 it was worth £16 p.a., Thrupp, p.3S7, Valor. p.3S9. Two small country churches, Thele in Hertfordshire and Aldham in Essex, were appropriated in 1431 but no value is ever attached to these, CPR 1429-36. p.146. At the Dissolution the prior was awarded, in addition to the £16 for the rectory ofSt. Mary Aldermanbury, property worth over £10 a year said to have belonged to the rectories ofSt Mary Aldermanbury and Thele, but in the accounts at the Dissolution this property is accounted for as part of the hospital's rroperty, TNA, E3151232 f.14v, SC6/HENVIII/2345-47. 3 After estimated deductions for quitrents, repairs and vacancies, except for the second net figure for 1535. 14 Estimated. The range is explained by the use of two alternative methods set out in Chapter 3: mortmain values and rents at the time of acquisition for some properties but having to make pro rata assumptions for others, alternatively working back from the 1403-4 rental which gives a higher figure, TNA, SC6/1304/8. IS About £20 p.a. of quitrents known, but that relates only to part of the estate. £5 13s 4d allowed in mortmain licences for repairs to some properties, but that may have borne little relationship to actual expenditure. 16 TNA, SC611304/S. This is a rent collector's account and all the locations where property is known to have been acquired are included. But it is possible that the hospital had a small amount of other income, because some other rents not otherwise known, before or afterwards, are listed in a schedule of ecclesiastical property in London in 1392, Church in London, pp.39-77. Most, if not all, the rent collector's net proceeds went to the kitchener; his accounts covered most categories of expenditure but a few were missing, again indicating the possibility of another income source, TNA, SC6/1257/3. 17 Estimated. Quitrents and repairs are from the 140S-9 kitchener's account, TNA, SC6/1257/3. Quitrents estimated at about £29 annually from a ten month figure, repairs £31 lis 10Yld on a ten month basis, not recalculated to a year because the expenditure may be lumpy, much connected to one property. Loss of rents, primarily vacancies, £10 7s 1Od, from 1403-4 rent collector's account, TNA, SC6/1304/S. The 1411 figure for the subsidy on lands given in Table 4.2, £114 4s Sd, is very close to this. 18 BL, CCxiii 1O. This is an inventory and rental probably completed on the arrival of a new prior. The rental is for one term and has been multiplied up to give the full year. The roll looks complete but the rents are not totalled, a few known London locations are not there and one, possibly two, rents acquired after 1405 are missing. The understatement of London property is unlikely to amount to more than between £ I 0 and £ 13 a year on identifiable possible omissions. The property the hospital had by then acquired in Essex and Hertfordshire is not included. There is nothing to indicate whether the rents are gross or net: the former would be more usual and that has been assumed. 19 BL, CCix6S. This is a short document giving an assessment of the state ofElsyngspital, probably on the arrival ofa new prior. It gives a total figure for income and identifies some major items of expenditure. The document gives the impression of being a comprehensive statement but it is doubtful whether it includes the country property: the difference between it and the 1448 rental would be more than covered by new London acquisitions. It does include the property given by William Flete as the expenditure from the bequest is listed. 20 Quitrents £37, repairs £30, vacancies £IS, BL, CCxi68. 21 TNA, SC6/915125. This is a rent collector's account but covers most of the hospital's expenditure as well. Rental income is very little broken down so it is not clear what is included. The only items broken out from the total are some rents from two recent bequests, suggesting that these were additions to a total carried forward from earlier accounts. But some rents from the Flete bequest are missing and none of the expenditure which arose from it is listed, suggesting that both rents and expenditure might be separately accounted for. The country property must also be missing ifit is not in the other 1461 account above, given the relatively small difference between them. This account show signs of having been retrospectively constructed for the benefit of a court case between the prior and the rent collector so may be less reliable than the other 1461 account above, TNA, CII27/259. 22 Quitrents £11 ISs 2Yld, repairs £25 8s 4Yill, rents defaulted, £22 IOd, TNA, SC6I91S/25. The latter figure includes some allowances in lieu of repairs.


Table 4.2 Other assessments Year 1379

Assessment Poll tax.Z5

Amount £66 13s 4d p.a.


Ecclesiastical property in London."

£210 7s 4d p.a.


Papal confirmation of appropriation of church of StMary

Not exceeding 1000 marks p.a.


of Elsyngspital's


Subsidy on lands."

£114 4s 8d p.a.


Lay Subsidy.JT

£100 p.a.

Cardinal Wolsey's

£170 12s 7d p.a.





Comment Net and deductions not known. Income seems to have been assessed in bands as others had same assessment. Gross. Over £20 p.a.higher than 1403-4 rental and includes rents in a number of areas in which hospital never known to have property. Material is said to be 'often ambiguous and the exact interest of institutions and individuals in a particular property is unclear' , which may ex~lain the discrepancies. 7 Appears to be annual value in transcription in TNA though not apparent from calendar. A clearly very rounded figure and probably given as a maximum. Net. Deductions not specified but would have included repairs and possibly chantries.i" Presumably net but deductions not specified. A suspiciously rounded figure. Includes £6 11s 3d p.a. value of benefices. Valor better and more detailed account for this period.

Valor, p.389-90.

The first figure is estimated and is the most nearly comparable to the preceding years. Quitrents are £26 16s 9d, drawn from Valor, p.390. Repairs at £13 6s 8d are from an early version of the Valor, TNA, E314/54. 8s for one vacancy is from the Minister's account for 1535-36, TNA, HENVIII/2345. The second figure is the net figure given in the Va/or, p.390, and has deductions for quitrents and contractual obligations. 2S Church in London, p.2. 26 Church in London, pp. 39-77. This is my calculation as the material is arranged by parish rather than by religious house. 27 Church in London, p. xvii. 28 TNA, PR03119/60, pp.362-381, calendared in CPL, vol.5, p.lO. 29 This was a tax on every person holding more than rents of £20 clear annual value, at the rate of half a mark per £20 annual rent, TNA, E179/144/20, printed in Stahlschmidt, pp.56-82. 30 Keene, 'Landlords' p.l13, fn.47. 31 TNA, E179/238/90, printed in Thrupp, pp.378-388. Elsyngspital is recorded as being assessed on London lands though it should by then have had lands in Essex and Hertfordshire, and other religious houses are assessed for their country lands on the London roll. n LP, vo1.4 part 1, p.418.



In the following sections the hospital's fortunes are examined in the three periods: the period of growth in the later fourteenth century, the big fall in rental income in the first half of the fifteenth century with the very substantial recovery by 1461, and the steadier period in the later fifteenth and early sixteenth century, reaching its highest known income at the Dissolution.

A period of rapid growth: the later fourteenth century

In the fifty or so years after William's death, the hospital's income appears to have risen, on these figures, by between one quarter and one half, and this at a time of considerable economic difficulty. In much of the country rents were actually falling. Towns, however, tended to remain comparatively prosperous and, unusually for a religious house, all the hospital's property was in London or its suburbs. With a falling population though, London could not escape some decline in rents and in Cheapside (where over half the hospital's property portfolio lay) rents rose to 1370 but declined slowly and steadily after that.33 So for Elsyngspital's rent roll actually to increase so substantially suggests significant additions to the property portfolio.

The first step, however, was to hold on to the property the hospital already had. The main areas in which the hospital held property at William's death are all still clearly identifiable as such in the 1403-4 accounts. The one property we know the hospital lost was one of the properties in Honey Lane bought by William in 1339, where the hospital's right was successfully challenged in 1353-55 by Alice, granddaughter


Michael Myngihot, from whom William Elsyng had bought the property, on the basis of a legal error which had occurred over twenty years before.34 After Alice's death her

Keene, 'Landlords', p.l 07. Property 32 in Appendix 4. For the 1353-55 case see TNA, LR14/1169 and LR14/1171, which calendars LMA, HPL 76 m.6-6d. Michael Myngihot and his wife Juliana had the property from Juliana Romayne, his wife's mother. The contention was that this was a gift in free marriage and so inalienable. Gifts in 'liberum maritagium' were made by parents to a daughter and were provision for her and her issue and, on failure of issue, went back to the donor: they could not be sold, F. Pollock and F. Maitland, The History of English Law, (Cambridge, 1911), pp.l5-16.William had taken the trouble to get a deed from one of the Romayne executors confirming the grant to Myngihot, LMA, HR 64/12. The hospital held a document on which were copied two versions of the grant from Julia Romayne to Michael and his wife, one in free marriage and the other in perpetuity, both dated the same day, TNA, LR141202. It also held a deed with a seal tag (though no longer a seal) of the perpetuity grant, TNA, LR14/1092.The complexities of the medieval property market which made this kind of litigation common are brought out in Vanessa Harding's paper, 'Space, Property and Propriety in Urban England'. Journal 0/ Interdisciplinary History, 32,no.4 (2002), pp.549-69. 33 34


uncle Thomas, Archbishop of Dublin in 1373-74 brought another case against the hospital over three shops in St. Lawrence Jewry on the basis of the same legal error, but there is no record of the outcome. Perhaps Thomas was not able to pursue the matter as he died in 1375.35 Prior Robert Draycote, the third prior, tried in 1379-80 to retrieve the Honey Lane property, but failed.36

There were other signs of problems in the hospital's first few years. In 1353 John de Wyndesore, the first prior, was in debt for £40 to Sir Robert Marny, though this seems to have been repaid.37 Maybe financial difficulties were arising because of building work: William was building the hospital in stone when he died in 1349. Wyndesore and his successor John Gerard also had extensive dealings with John Edmund, ex-apprentice to William Elsyng's son Robert, who was meant to be providing for Robert's underage orphan son Thomas with £80 left to him by Robert to trade.38 Edmund leased from John de Wyndesore one of the substantial properties in St. Lawrence Lane on a lifetime lease plus sixty years for his executors.f This property was worth £14 2s per annum but the only payments recorded were ten marks a year, starting eighteen years after the lease began, suggesting there may have been some initial down payment: perhaps the hospital needed the cash. Edmund had two rooms and a stable in the parish of St Alphage from the hospital and a payment of £8 per annum for life from Prior Gerard. But Edmund was already in financial difficulties by 1355, when he had to be chased for his payment to Thomaa.t"

Then in 1356 he was arrested for debt of £300 to the mercer Elis Fraunceys.

This seems to have been more than just misfortune, for he was accused of taking the hospital's land and building himself a chamber in the hospital. All his property was forfeit and it took years for the hospital to get its property back." Prior Robert Draycote had a quitclaim in his favour on the St. Lawrence Lane tenement in 1367, suggesting 35 TNA, LR14/1170. These shops have not been identified: there is no known purchase from Myngihot in that area though the hospital did own considerable property there. They were valuable pieces of property, said to be worth £4 each. For Archbishop Thomas see E.B.Fryde, D.E.Greenway, S.Porter and I.Roy, Handbook of British Chronology (London, 1986, third edition), p.35 I. 36 LBH, pp.143-44. These three cases are dealt with in Gazetteer, property 11/6. 37 CCR 1349-54, p.617. Mamy was a tenant, taking out a lease of a property in Baynards Castle, probably Eroperty 43 in Appendix 4, in the same year, LBG, p.16. Maybe the two transactions were linked. 8 LMA, HR 78/201. 39 Probably property 17, Appendix 4. 40 LBG, p.44. 41 TNA, C1311l0124; CCR 1369-74, p.295.


that he had the property by then, but the final settlement was not until 1370. 42As part of that Draycote agreed to make a payment to Edmund of £5 a year for the next two years and then 10 marks a year for life, perhaps to compensate for any payments Edmund had originally made.43

Fortunately bequests of property soon began to come in, six bequests in perpetuity in the years up to 1400. Table 4.3 sets out all the hospital's known acquisitions of property from 1350 until the Dissolution."

The first was from John Brian, parish clerk ofSt

Mary Aldermanbury. John was probably a contemporary and friend of William's: he was buried in the hospital's church near William's own grave, before the image of St Cross. He died in 1361 leaving his property in Adel Street and Philip Lane near the hospital and in the parish of St Michael Bassishaw to his wife and then his daughter, who were to maintain lamps before the altar. On their deaths the properties were to go to Elsyngspital and a perpetual chantry was to be set up at the altar of St Mary with one chaplain celebrating."

This property was obviously going to take some time to reach the hospital and Prior Robert Draycote may have become impatient. In 1370 he took out a mortmain licence enabling the hospital to acquire property up to £20 a year, the first general licence to be acquired since William had taken one out for £10 in 1334.46 Then later the same year Brian's widow, who had remarried, made over to Draycote some of the property, a messuage in the parish of St Michael Bassishaw and a messuage and two shops in the parish of St Alphage. In return the prior undertook to pay her and her husband, Richard Galeys, £4 per annum for both lives." The mortmain licence he then obtained showed the properties assessed at 26s 8d per annum, although 40s was taken from the general licence suggesting that this may have been regarded as an undervaluation."

LMA, HR 95/141. LMA, HR 99/137. 44 Many of these bequests come from wills. The Introduction explains how the wills were searched. 45 LMA, HR89/99. The house he lived in, in the parish ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, seems to have been on a long lease from the hospital and he left it to his wife. The Bassishaw property was in Basinghall Street, tenement 14 there in London Guildhall p.177-8. 46 TNA, LR14/267 and 1158. •, LMA, HR 98/138, 139 and 140. 48 CPR/367-70, pp.437-8. The 40s is also noted with the date on the back of one of the hospital's copies of the licence, TNA, LRI4/267. 42 43


That was not however the end of the matter because the prior had to go to court in order to establish his right to the full bequest. John Brian seems not to have been a London citizen: he is referred to in one place as 'ofWales,.49 That being so he did not have the right to leave property to a religious house in his will without obtaining a licence.



Elsyngspital seems not to have done before taking possession of the rest of the property and Draycote had to take the case through chancery before, in December 1406, the mayor was instructed to return the full bequest. The property as listed in the judgement was substantial: in the parish ofSt Michael Bassishaw, two tenements worth 20s and 14s per annum, three shops worth l5s and two worth 12s per annum and a 40s a year quitrent from a brewhouse called 'Swan on the hope'; and in St Alphage, two shops in Adel Street worth 24s and two other shops worth 20s a year, making a total value for the property at issue of £7 5s a year."

The second bequest was from William Bristowe, cordwainer, a parishioner ofSt Mary Aldermanbury. In 1367 he left his property to his wife, then to his sons and finally on reversion to Elsyngspital. His chantry was to be in St Mary Aldermanbury, and was served by his son Simon, described as 'clericus'.

Simon's mother was to maintain him

and to pay for a candle on the altar and for William Bristowe's anniversary to be kept.52 Simon died in 1374, leaving the property to be sold for his father's chantry.



executors, however, made the property over to Elsyngspital in August 1374 on condition that the chantry was maintained and they also secured a licence to ensure that the surplus income beyond what was required to maintain the chantry, estimated at 4s,


CAD, vol.2, p.82

50 London citizens could devise property in their wills without getting the usual mortmain licence required to give property to a religious house, see Chapter 3. J.M.Jennings in 'London and the Statute of Mortmain: Doubts and anxieties among Fifteenth-century London testators', in Medieval Studies 36 (1976), p.177, gives the case as an example of confusion over the mortmain position, but if Brian was not a London citizen then the position was clear. " CCR 1405-9, p.171. It is not clear whether this included the property earlier quite properly secured from Brian's wife. Probably it did and the mayor had laid his hand on the whole lot to be sure. In the 1403-4 accounts there are two tenements in Bassishawe with these rents, TNA, SC6/1304/8. No shops are listed, but there are five small houses with rents adding up to ISs and 12s, so they may well be the same. Similarly there are four tenements listed in Adel Street with rents adding up to 24s and 20s. Quitrents are not broken down, so the brewery cannot be identified. The fact that the hospital had the properties and was receiving rent from them in 1403-4 indicates that they were not in the mayor's hand for long. '2 LMA, HR95/152.Bristowe was buried in St Paul's. He left his armour to his son William and his books (not unfortunately specified) to Simon. If Simon wanted to leave home his mother was to give him an allowance. '3 TNA, LRI4/17. The property should have gone to the other son William before Elsyngspital but he had waived his rights, LMA, HR99/63.


could go to Elsyngspital."

There were three properties in all, in the parishes of St Mary

le Bow, St Sepulchre and St Mary Aldermanbury. The first was bringing in a rent of £2 per annum in 1403-4.55 The St Sepulchre property could be the one let for £2 per annum in those accounts.


If the third was similar the whole lot would have been worth about

£6 per annum, plenty for the chantry and the hospital's 45.57

TNA, LR14/286 and 526, CI43/385/3. This 4s, like Brian's 40s, is noted on the back of the 1370 licence, though the date is wrongly stated to be 1370, TNA, LR141267. 55 TNA, SC6/1304/8; Gazetteer, property 104/41. 56 Although there had been a property left in 1336 to the hospital on reversion in that parish, see Appendix 4 property 46. 57 The value of the third property cannot be identified in the accounts because of the amount of property the hospital had in St Mary Aldermanbury. But it may have been the property William Bristowe had occupied in the parish referred to in London Guildhall as part of tenement 4 in that publication, though not there identified as belonging to Elsyngspital, p.181. 54


Table 4.3: Rents and property acquired by Elsyngspital1350-1536 Date



Value when given or as Indicated


John Brian, parish clerk."

St Michael Bassishaw, StAlphage.

£7 5s p.a. in 1406.


William Bristowe, cordwainer. S9

St Mary Aldermanbury, St Sepulchre, St Mary Ie Bow.

4s p.a.beyond value of chantry. In 1403-4 St Mary Ie Bow rent £2 p.a. and St Sepulchre possibly £2 p.a.


Henry Frowyk, mercer."

Rents and property in St Lawrence Jewry, St Sepulchre, St Martin le Grand, St Martin within Ludgate, St Vedast, Old Change.

£ 10 lOs 6d p.a. in will. Old Change property let for £8 p.a. in 1403-4. Rest worth £3 17s p.a.in 1378.


Katherine de la Pole."

St Alphage.

Not known.


Robert Lepere, vicar of St Lawrence Jewry and four others, probably a group of executors." John of Northampton, draper."

St Mary Aldermanbury.

13s 4d net p.a. after repairs

All Hallows the Great (Ropery).

£ 19 5s p.a. in 1403-4.



Richard Arnold, goldsmith."

Watlyng Street

Let for £5 p.a. in 1448.


Nicholas Glover, glover."

Rent in St Selpulchre

£1 3s 4d p.a.


William Gray, bishop of London."

College ofThele's land and rents in Hertfordshire and Essex

Property in these two counties, most of which came from the College, valued at £29 9s Ilhd p.a.in 1535.


Henry Barton, skinner."

Rent from hospital's own land

6s 8d p.a.


Thomas Moysaunt, carpenter."

All Hallows, Barking.

With several other properties worth £7 17s 4d p.a. in 1536.

LMA, LMA, 104/41. 60 LMA, 61 LMA, 62 LMA, 63 LMA, 64 LMA, 65 LMA, 66 TNA, 67 TNA, 68 TNA, S8


HR89/99; CCR 1405-9, p.17l. HR95/152; TNA, LR1417, LR141286, LR14/526, CI43/385/3,

SC6/I304/8; Gazeteer, property

HRI06/142; TNA, SC6/1304/8. HRl16/29. HR12 1150; TNA, C143/420/25; CPR 1392-96, p.158. HR126/117; GL, MS,09171/1 f.406; TNA, SC6/1304/8. HR133/62; BL, CCxiiilO. HRI36/6. E28152/8; CPR 1429-36, p.146; Valor, p.389. LR14/343. LR14/92 and LMA, HRl72l7; TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345.





Value when given or as indicated


William Flete, mercer."

London property valued for mortmain at £25 6s 8d p.a.net, but at £49 p.a. in executors' rental; Hendon property at £2 16s 4d p.a. and £2 6s 8d p.a. respectively.


William Stokes, vintner. 70

All Hallows the Great, St Michael Paternoster, St Dunstan in the East, Gracechurch St, rent in St Lawrence Lane. Hendon, Middx. St Botolph without Bishopsgate, St Michael Bassishaw, St Sepulchre.


John Wade, son of John Wade, fishmonger."

St Sepulchre.


John Porter, vintner."

Rent to be paid by the Charterhouse St Lawrence Lane.

Not known

Stan stead Abbots in Hertfordshire.

Property here in 1536 worth £3 8s 8d p.a. but not all this donation. £2 p.a. to the sisters. Minister's accounts for the Crutched Friars after the Dissolution show £4 12s p.a. paid to the sisters ofElsyngspital. Likely to include this £2 but source of rest not known. 76 Rent of assize to St Paul's for the property, £2 6s 8d p.a.


John Braibroke,

'Stokes rents' £1 ISs 8d p.a. in 146162 but only two tenants named. St Botolph property let for £1 12s p.a. in 1536.Total property in St Michael Bassishaw £ 1 p.a. and St Sepulchre £3 lOs 10d p.a. in 1536 but not all likely to be Stokes'. Property in St Sepulchre worth £3 lOs 10d p.a. in 1536, but not all likely to be Wade's. 3s 4d p.a. for the poor.

haberdasher." 1520

William Brown and Thomas Hynde,

mercers." Before 1522

Richard Plommer, gentleman of Essex. 7S

Rent to be paid by the Crutched Friars.


Purchase of99 years lease by prior, possibly from £ 100 given by Alice Lupsett." Henry VIII and his progenitors."

St Mary Aldermanbury.


Rent of assize in All Hallows the Great

£ 13 6s Sd p.a. in 1536, paid by sheriff from fee farm of London. Described in 1541-2 as 'elemosina' of king but could be in return for one of hospital's properties.

TNA, C143/45212, CI43/45217; CPR /452-6/, pp.283-84; LMA, HRI84/12; TNA, SC6/36/32A. LMA, HRI70/59, HRI85/18; TNA, SC6/915/25, SC6IHENVIII/2345. 71 TNA, PROB IllS ff.170-170v, SC6IHENVIII/2345. 72 TNA, E3271782 copied into the Court of Husting, LMA, HR226/17. 73 LMA, HR236/34. 74 Anne Sutton, Mercery, pp.524-5 from the records of the Mercers' Company, Chalgrave Estate Box 4/FlllS66; TNA, SC6IHENVIII12345. 7S TNA, C1I654/44. 76 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2396, f.64, SC6IHENVIII/2401, LR2/262,f.IOv. I am grateful to Nick Holder for this reference. 77 BL, CCxi2; Goldsmiths' Company, register of deeds, vol.2, f.313-313v.1 am grateful to Dr. Jessica Lutkin for the latter reference. 78 TNA, SC6IHENVII1I2345, 235 I, E314/54. Likely to be earlier than Henry VIlI's reign in view of reference to progenitors, probably Henry VII as it is not mentioned in any earlier rentals. 69



Four years later, in 1378, Henry Frowyk, a mercer and from a distinguished London family, left Elsyngspital a bequest worth £10 lOs 4d p.a., much of it quitrents from a number of different properties, but with one substantial property in Old Change which came to the hospital on the death of the tenants." Frowyk was buried in the church of the hospital, and set up a perpetual chantry there at the altar of St Cross. He also gave the hospital a large mazer which came to be known as 'Ie Frowyk'.


Frowyk's main

base was Middlesex, where he served on commissions and as knight of the shire, which could explain why he did not choose a London parish church for burial." His connection with Elsyngspital may have been a personal one: he was about eighty when he died so he would have been a fellow mercer and contemporary of William's. He also knew Thomas Elsyng for the two of them were mainpemors in 1371 for Nicholas de Holborn, imprisoned for causing disturbances with John of Northampton, who was later to be mayor and was himself a major benefactor of the hospital.


Katherine de la Pole was the daughter of Richard de Lacer, mayor of London 1345-46, who was a contemporary of William Elsyng's and witness to many of his deeds connected with the foundation and endowment of the hospital.


He was a parishioner of

St Mary Aldermanbury or St Alphage which would explain why he was so often involved. There is no record of his having endowed the hospital but his daughter did so on her death in 1387.84 She was a wealthy widow, describing herself in her will as 'citizen and freewoman'.


She was not buried at Elsyngspital, but asked for her obit to

be held there in perpetuity, with lights and ornaments." After the service each canon and poor person at the service, and those who were prevented from attending by illness, were to have 6d and the canons were to have 6s 8d for a pittance." The property she

LMA, HRI06/142. Listed in 1448 inventory, BL, CCxiiiIO. 81 Thrupp, p.342 82 CCR J 369-74, p.323. This incident was early in the career of John of Northampton. The arrests of John and the others occurred after the king had summoned the mayor and aldermen and leading men of the mysteries and made them swear to keep the peace, LBG, p.280-81. See below for John of Northampton as benefactor. 83 For Katherine see Caroline Barron, 'Women traders and artisans in London (active 1200-c.1500)', ODNB, article 52233 accessed II August 2007. An example ofa deed witnessed by Richard de Lacer is the report of the bishop of London's inquest into the establishment of the hospital, TNA, El3512l17 in 1330. 84 Her wills are LMA, HR 116/28 and 29 and GL, MS0917111 f.154-154v. 85 This is the earliest known such reference, Barron, 'Women traders'. 86 Stow says she was buried at Charterhouse and that her monument was there, vol.2, p.83. 87 This was still being observed at the time of the 1408-9 accounts, which record expenditure of9s 6d on twelve poor and the prior and six canons as well as the 6s 8d pittance, TNA, SC6/1257/3. 79



gave was in Philip Lane, right next to the hospital.


There is no valuation for it and,

because of the amount of property the hospital held in the area, it cannot be separately identified in any of the accounts.

The next endowment looks as though it is made by executors, as in 1392 five men were granted a licence to give a property to Elsyngspital to maintain a beam light below the crucifix in St Mary Aldermanbury.f" The five were Robert Lepere, vicar ofSt. Lawrence Jewry, William Cressewyk (one of Katherine de la Pole's executors), William Evote and John Barley, drapers, and Robert Dalyngregge carpenter. The messuage and cellar, valued at 13s 4d net a year, were in Aldermanbury, opposite the hospital, next to a garden which had once belonged to Richard de Lacer and a tenement once belonging to William Bristowe, probably the one he gave to the hospital.


But the most substantial benefactor of the hospital during this period was John of Northampton, draper, mayor 1381-83, well known for his quarrel with Nicholas Brembre (who was a witness to Katherine de la Pole's will), exiled from the city in 1384 but pardoned in 1390 and restored to full citizenship in 1395, whose connection with Thomas Elsyng is noted above." He died in 1398 and was buried in Elsyngspital and set up a chantry there.92 He asked for extensive services: two extra canons to be in place within two years, celebrating in turn each week and receiving 8d a week between the two of them. At his anniversary the poor men and women of the hospital who prayed for him were to receive 12d each, including those too ill to come, and the canons were also to receive 12d plus a pittance of 6s 8d. 93All this to be written in the hospital's martyrology and read out in the chapter every year. The property he gave to the hospital in return was substantial. He left lands and tenements in Dowgate ward, in the parish of All Hallows the Great, in the Ropery. This was an area in which Elsyngspital had not previously held property and in the 1403-4 rental the seven tenements, a cellar and a 88 It is described as setting the southern boundary of the hospital in the 1450-52 agreement with St. Alphage, GL, MS251211552. 89 TNA, CI43/420125, CPR1392-96, p.158. 90 The deed conveying the property to the hospital is LMA, HRI21/50. This tenement is identified as the southern part of tenement 4 in London Guildhall, p.l81. 91 See Paul Strohm, 'Northampton, John (d.139S)" ODNB, article 20322, accessed 12 August, 2007. 92 His will is LMA, HR126/117 and GL, MS0917111 f.406. The two wills are identical and that in TNA, E210/11125 is an extract of the part mainly concerned with his bequest to the Carthusians. For his tomb see Chapter 6. 93 His anniversary appears in the 140S-9 accounts where 22s Sd was spent on it, for four canons and twelve poor, TNA, SC6/1257/3.


wharfhere brought in £19 5s per annum." The wharf was let to Robert Comberton, John's brother, and the hospital also paid him a quit rent of lOs a year.9S He was not the only relative with whom they were concerned. By 1408-9 Northampton's

son James

must also have been dead for the accounts show a payment of 2s 8d for expenses connected with his trental at Shoreditch, where he had inherited John's property.96 And John also gave the hospital a blue velvet vestment, still remembered in 1448 as his gift.97

Many of these new properties were in the same areas as the old and cannot readily be identified in the 1403-4 accounts. But two bequests were in new areas, Frowyk's tenements in Old Change near St Paul's and Northampton's

in Dowgate, much further

south near the river. On the basis of known values of all the properties acquired, or reasonable guesses, they were worth at least £45 a year, accounting for the greater part, and possibly all, of the increase in rental income over the period since William Elsyng's death, suggested earlier to lie between £36 and £66 a year.98 This was something of an achievement: hospitals tended to be very dependent on the founder's endowment and often attracted few bequests after his death.99 There were no family benefactors giving property here: William's son Robert survived him by only a year and left money only for three priests for a one year chantry.


The only other known adult relative at the

beginning of the period was Jordan de Elsyng, mercer, probably William's nephew and guardian of his grandson Thomas.


There is, however, nothing to suggest any

relationship between him and the hospital and he made no bequest to the hospital when he died in 1375, by which time he had been living out in Enfield for some years.


Thomas himself may well have grown up in Enfield with Jordan's three children and TNA, SC6/1304/8. This property was bought by John with his brother Robert and William Cressewyk in 1382, LMA, HRII0/84. The other two gave up their rights to John in 1395 leaving it unencumbered to be given to the hospital, LMA, HR12517. 9' TNA, SC6/1257/3. 96 TNA, SC6/1257/3. 97 BL, CCxiiiIO. 98 This is made up of mortmain values of£19 5s for John of Northampton, £10 lOs 4d for Henry Frowyk, £7 5s for John Brian, around £6 for William Bristowe and 13s 4d for the 1392 executors, a total of £43 13s 8d per annum, to which must be added an unknown amount for Katherine de Ia Pole's bequest and ~us some undervaluation on mortmain. Watson, p.215. Looking at hospital deeds, admittedly from an earlier period, Sethina Watson found few Foo?ts and those nearly all in the first generation of foundation. 00 LMA, HR 78/20 I. 101 LBG, p.18.' 102 GL, MS09171/1 f.32. The first reference to him in Middlesex was in 1346, CFR vol.S, p.508. He may then already have held the knights fee in Enfield he was known to hold in 1372, r.F.r.Baker and R.B.Pugh, eds, The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Middlesex, vol.5 (London, 1976), p.227. 94


reached his majority in 1369.103 He was also a mercer, married by 1376 to Joanna and in 1379 acting as collector of taxes in Middlesex, so probably living out there.


He was

sufficiently well off to act as surety for £200 in 1371, when he stood mainpernor for Northampton and appears from time to time in the city records mainly in property transactions. But there is no evidence of any dealings with the hospital during this period, though the fact that there was contact later suggests that there must have been some kind of relationship at this stage.

The extra endowment did of course come at a price. Katherine de la Pole only asked for her anniversary to be kept, which came fairly cheap, but Brian, Frowyk and Bristowe all wanted a chaplain and Northampton two canons who were to get cash payments as well as the payments for his anniversary. The 1408-9 accounts record payments of38s 2d to the canons and the poor for the anniversaries of Katherine de la Pole and John of Northampton. John seems to have got his two extra canons, for the number of canons is given as seven, two more than the last known total in 1379.


There was also a price

for the Brian bequest, in the £4 a year for life the prior agreed to pay his widow and her husband in order to get the property early.

The sum actually collected in rents in 1403-4 would of course have been less than the £ 186 set out in the rental.


About £ 10 was lost because of vacancies and over £5

written off because the rent was excused for various reasons. The construction of the accounts makes it impossible to see what rent had still to be collected for that year, because the arrears are not broken down either at the beginning or the end of the year: they are about £26 at the beginning and £32 at the end, £2 3s 5d having been written off because the tenants were too poor to pay.lO? So all that can be said is that arrears appear to have gone up by about £6 during the year, but no conclusions can really be drawn on the financial health of the hospital from a single year's arrears figures. The whole account, however, gives the impression of a well run, actively managed estate. This would be facilitated by the concentration of property, with much of it clustered round the hospital and all of it within easy walking distance, giving direct and immediate 103 Jordan's children are named in his will, GL, MS0917111 r.32. For Thomas's claim to his £80 inheritance see LBG,p.238. 104 LMA, HRI04/131; CFR vol. 9, p.142. 10' TNA, SC6/1257/3; Church in London, p.2. 106 See Table 4.1. 107 TNA, SC6/1308/4.


access to tenants. Landlords in this position were better able to look after their property than absent landlords, especially in difficult times.


Another source of income Elsyngspital possessed, already mentioned, was the rectory of St Mary Aldermanbury, the church appropriated to the hospital in 1331, given by St Paul's, to whom it belonged.


Most religious houses had a number of churches

appropriated to them: the nunneries studied by Catherine Paxton each owned between one and four churches.

I 10

The arrangement with St Paul's was that Elsyngspital would

supply a canon as curate and the income of the rectory would go to the hospital. When the appropriation actually took effect is not clear. The rector in post in 1331, when the deed of appropriation was made, had gone by 1340, but a new one was in post: the change should have been made when he went.


But there appears to have been some controversy over the advowson of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury. Aldermanbury had originally been a soke, privately administered, and the lord of the manor would be expected to have had rights over the church.112 The lord of the manor of Aldermanbury had been Henry Bedyk, who had sold William some of the land on which Elsyngspital church stood.


Hennessy says that the church

belonged to St Paul's 'of old' so there must have been some new or revived concern.


Bedyk died in 1335 and although his will mentions the advowson ofSt. Michael Bassishaw there is no reference to St Mary Aldermanbury.I'''

In the 1340s to 1360s

there was a series of deeds in which the Bedyk heirs transferred their rights to the advowson ofSt Michael Bassishaw and to a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury, eventually to John de Beauchamp who left them to St Paul's in 1364. Sometimes in these deeds the advowson of St Mary Aldermanbury itself is mentioned, though not in this last one. St Paul's was an interested party and kept a list of some of these deeds, many of which are in their archives.116 Keene, 'Landlords', p.105. GL, MS2512111226,m.l. See Chapter 2. IIOPaxton, p.176. The nunneries were Clerkenwell, Halliwell, Kilburn, the Minories, St. Helen's Bishopsgate and Stratford. For the appropriation system in general see Snape, pp.76-91. III TNA, LR 14/111. See Chapter 2. 112 John Schofield, Medieval London Houses (London, 1995), p.3l. 113 TNA, LR 14/487. Charles W.F.Goss, 'History of the Parish ofSt Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury', TLMAS, 9 (1948) records that Bedyk was lord of the manor and owned the advowson, pp.l21 and 157. 114Repertorium, p.298. us GL, MS25271125. 116 GL, MS 25121/1224. 108 109


This must all have had a bearing on Elsyngspital's position, for in 1382 there is a quitclaim of any rights in the advowson or patronage of the church from Bedyk's grandson in favour of prior Robert Draycote.


And in 1385 a John Flete, goldsmith,

and his wife Margaret (who was a Bedyk heir) had taken the prior to court to establish Margaret's hereditary right to the advowson of the church: they lost the case though retaining the rights over the chantry.


It is possible that the hospital did not hold the

rectory even in the late fourteenth century, for there is a reference in 1386 to Robert, rector ofSt Mary Aldermanbury in the will of John Tours, draper; and 'Nicholas', described as vicar in 1393, could have been Nicholas Waltham, canon, but could equally well have been a secular priest.

I 19

In 1397 Elsyngspital seems to have decided

to make quite sure of its rights, for it went to the papal curia to get the Pope's confirmation of them.


Elsyngspital was by no means alone in having its patronage

challenged in this way: Paxton recounts several challenges to the rights of the nunneries of Haliwell and Clerkenwell.P' The first certain reference to a known canon as being in charge of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury

was John Hilderston in 1407, though

there was an appointment of a canon to the chantry there in 1398.122

It is not clear how valuable the church was. St Mary Aldermanbury was said to be very poor in 1340, so the canon who was to be curate could not expect to be paid. 123 The submission to the papal curia referred to the church as being worth not more than thirty marks or £20. But the submission also referred to the hospital as being worth not more than an annual value of one thousand marks, or £666, far more than its actual value, so it must be assumed that these were not real figures.


In the kitchener's accounts of

1408-9, there is a reference to £5 lOs 4d received 'de ecclesia per diversas vices', but this is probably from the hospital's church, perhaps from collecting boxes, rather than

LMA, HR 111176. LMA, HRI13/109. John Flete is listed in Jefferson as having been enfranchised in 1377-78 and is last recorded inI411-12, pp. 78 and 350. 119 TNA, LRI4/1047; Repertorium, p.298. 120 CPL, vol. 5 pp.IO-11. Snape, p.80, records that there was much concern about the neglect of appropriated houses at the time and points to a 1403 Act of Parliament, in practice a dead letter, which ordered that a perpetual secular vicar be appointed instead of a monk from the house owning the church. There was a rush of applications to the pope for appropriation in the late fourteenth century, possibly to r:re-empt precisely such a move. 21 Paxton, pp.200-201. 122 GL, MS0905111f.18Iv. Canon John Summyng's appointment to the chantry in 1398 was recorded in the list of deeds held by St. Paul's about its title to chantry and church, GL, MS25 12111224. 123 TNA, LR 14/111. 124 TNA, PR031/9/60, pp.362-381; CPL, vol.5, p.lO. 117 118


from St Mary Aldermanbury.l'"

The only clear figure we have is in 1535 when the

church was worth £ 16 a year.126 Although this is quite a high figure for England as a whole, where three quarters of churches were worth less than £15 a year, it would have been more modest for a London church where nearly half were worth more than £20 a year. 127

Although the church was appropriated to Elsyngspital, which enjoyed the income from the rectory, it also held property in its own right and had churchwardens who were separate from Elsyngspital, presumably carrying out the parishioners' responsibility for the upkeep of the church.128 80 bequests to St Mary Aldermanbury did not necessarily benefit the hospital, though as we have seen there are a few cases in which property was left to Elsyngspital to maintain a chantry or a light in St Mary Aldermanbury, presumably leaving the hospital free to enjoy any surplus income.


This closeness may

have led to an interchange of property or some confusion between the two over the years.l3O

Finally there was income from the many benefactors who gave cash sums to Elsyngspital, as they did to the other religious houses and hospitals in London. About fifty donors have been identified between 1350 and 1399 in addition to the six donors of property already mentioned.


There were a couple of quite large bequests: William de

Masham, rector of Denham in Lincolnshire, gave a quitrent of 6 marks for a period of nine to ten years and Thomas Morice, common sergeant of the city, gave £8 each to two canons for a chantry of one year, in addition to 13s 4d for pittances on the day of his

12'TNA, SC6/1257/3. 126 Valor, p.389. 127Susan Brigden, London and the Reformation (Oxford, 1989), p.49. 128For example, in 1428 the prior Henry Hoddesdon made an agreement with William Dawtre, mercer and John Knyght, draper 'gardianos' of the church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury over the ownership ofa stone wall in the cellar under two adjacent properties, one owned by the hospital and the other by the church, TNA, LR14/1163. Dawtre was probably the William Dautre who was warden of the Mercers' Company in 1429, Sutton, Mercery, p.S36. 129Such arrangements could, and often did, apply even if there was no connection between the religious house and the church, so they do not necessarily indicate that Elsyngspital was in possession of the rectory at that time. 130For example, at the Dissolution the prior was given property listed in the hospital's rental, but said to have belonged to the church as of old, see Chapter 6. 131 See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched. At this period the Husting is still the best source of London wills, but it tails off at the beginning of the fifteenth century.


burial and 6s 8d for his obit.132 But these were exceptional and only occurred in the 1350s and 60s and were probably from people who had known William Elsyng. Most amounts were much smaller, like William Hyndelonde, clerk who gave 208 to the prior, 2s 6d to each canon, 4d to each clerk and 40d to be distributed among those who served.133 80, useful as these bequests were to the individuals who received them, they could not generally have made much difference to the overall position of the hospital.

It is clear that the hospital rapidly became established as a worthy cause among the

London religious houses: in wills where it is mentioned, it is often alongside the other hospitals, St Bartholomew's,

St Thomas Southwark and St Mary without Bishopsgate

and the leper hospitals, St James and St Giles. But to get some idea of how well Elsyngspital was doing compared to other hospitals, a comparison has been made with all bequests, large and small, in wills enrolled in the Court of Husting made to the hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate over the period 1360 to 1400.134 St Mary's was also an Augustinian priory and although it was considerably older, larger and better endowed than Elsyngspital, it is probably the best comparison. During the period there were fifty three bequests to St Mary without Bishopsgate against forty two for Elsyngspital. In twenty six of these cases bequests, usually small ones, were made to both hospitals, and often to others as well. In terms of really large bequests however Elsyngspital had six bequests of property, and one term chantry, while St. Mary without Bishopsgate had two bequests of property, one very large, one large cash chantry and one term chantry. 80 Elsyngspital was not far behind a much longer established hospital in the total number of bequests and, no doubt because of the personal connections with William Elsyng, had more property bequests.

The hospital's increasing prosperity is demonstrated by the growth in the number of canons: four in addition to the prior at the time of the conversion to a priory, five by 1379 and seven by 1408-9.135 And the 1408-9 kitchener's account suggests that the hospital had achieved by then a comfortable, though not luxurious, standard of living, 132 Masham's will is LMA, HR83/21. What his connection with Elsyngspital was is not known. Elsyngspital was not Morice's only chantry: he had them also at Holy Trinity and St Mary without Bishopsgate and was buried in Stepney, LMA, HR96/101. 133 LMA, HRIOO/141. 134 This is quite a crude comparison but nevertheless seemed worth making. Ihave restricted this particular exercise to Husting wills, using those indexed in Sharpe's calendar for each of the two hospitals, plus the check of undifferentiated references to 'hospitals', as described in the Introduction. m BL, CCvIO; Church in London, p.2; TNA, SC6/1257/3.


with about half the food and drink budget spent on meat and fish, rather less than a quarter on ale and wine and about the same on grain and pulses, a pattern usual among both well off secular and monastic households.l'" Beef, mutton, pork and veal were eaten, but there was relatively little poultry or rabbit and none of the real luxuries like venison, swan, teal or snipe which Westminster Abbey had on feast days.

137 Nor


there many eggs and no milk or cream to make the rich puddings in which some religious houses indulged.


There were a few debts: the 1408-9 accounts show 'debita antiqua' paid of just over £11.139 These could be the tip of the iceberg, since the accounts would record only those debts which were actually paid off, not the amount still outstanding, but they could equally be simply the bills outstanding at the end of the previous accounting period and, in the absence of any other evidence, cannot on their own be taken as evidence of financial difficulty.

The conclusion overall must be that at this time Elsyngspital had established itself well after a slightly shaky start after the founder's death. It had considerably increased its property holding and its income, despite the lack of rent rises, fought off a number of attacks on its property rights, established itself among Londoners looking for charitable causes to support, and attained a modest level of prosperity. This was done in the period after the Black Death which was a difficult time for many hospitals, faced with a loss of staff and inmates and having to deal with rising prices and falling rents.


During most

ofthis period, from the 1360's onward, the prior was the long- serving Robert Draycote, 136 TNA, SC6/1257/3. The percentage for ale would have been even higher had all the supplies purchased been paid for in the time of the account, but a number had been deleted as paid for at another time. Also the account is for only ten months, from the end of September to the beginning of August. At Westminster Abbey wine and ale accounted for 27% and meat and fish for 47%, Harvey, p.37. Dyer, r.S6, gives examples of the spending of secular households. 37 Harvey, p.52. 138 Elsyngspital only used 400 in ten months, while at St Anthony's hospital 100 eggs might be consumed at a sitting: GW, MssXV.37.21. I am grateful to Dr.Clive Burgess for making his transcription of St. Anthony's accounts available to me. 139 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. Debts were paid off to eight people and two others had been paid over £8 in a previous account. Of the ten, five look like tradesmen, including a plumber, a timbermonger and a chandler and two were paid for two and three terms, probably for work done. Four were to other individuals, including the two large debts from the previous account. Two of these are known to have been friends of the hospital: Nicholas Glover who died that year and left property to the hospital, LMA, HR136/6 and John Worship, a tenant whose servant received gifts from the prior and who gave the hospital a red vestment, BL, CCxiii I O. The final debt was due to the rector of St. Alphage, never a friend of the hospital. 140 Orme and Webster, pp.l27-13I. About 20% of hospitals are estimated to have closed in the second half of the fourteenth century.


who seems to have been a worthy successor to William in managing the hospital's estate and raising funds.

Hard times and recovery : the early to mid fifteenth century

At what point the good times came to an end we do not know. Perhaps those debts in 1408-9 were, after all, a warning. Maybe the priors following Robert Draycote, who died in 1412, were less able or maybe in old age he had himself begun to lose his grip.'?' Almost certainly external events were a factor: in the early fifteenth century in Westminster monastic landlords stopped investing because of the reduction in the demand for property and Cheapside rents continued to fall slowly.142 At all events by 1438 the hospital was in debt to the tune of £427 14s 7Y4d,twice its annual income. Ten years later, in 1448, a new rental showed a catastrophic fall in London rental income to £136 9s 10d a year, a fall of about £50 a year or over one quarter, see Table 4.1. 143The number of tenants fell by even more, from 113 to 70, a drop of nearly 40%.

There are a number of difficulties about this rental, however, not least of which is that it is not complete. It does not include property outside London, which as will be shown later, the hospital had acquired by then and some known London property is missing. But it is unlikely that the latter amounts to much and it certainly could not of itself explain what had happened to the London rental income. Another possibility is that the rents shown are not what were due, before allowance for late and excused payment and vacancies, which is what one would expect, but are what had actually been paid, always a much lower sum. But if that was the explanation for the low rental income one has to explain how the income in 1461, shown in Table 4.1, was only round about that in 1403-4, despite the acquisition of a considerable amount of new property in the meantime. On balance, therefore, it seems likely that there had been a very considerable fall in rental income by 1448, even though it might not have been quite as much as the rental would suggest.

141Draycote's death is recorded in the St Paul's Chapter Act book, GL, MS 25513 f.ISv. 142Rosser, p.74; Keene, 'Landlords', p.I07. 143BL, CCxiii 1O.


The brunt of the fall was taken by the small properties round the hospital where the rents and numbers of tenants halved. In Gayspore and Philip Lanes, which ran down the east and west sides of the hospital, many of the cheapest houses seem to have disappeared. It may be that some of these had been absorbed into an extended precinct. The Gayspore Lane houses, in so far as there is information, were all in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury, where presumably the loss of tithes that would have resulted from such an extension could be managed as it belonged to the hospital, but Philip Lane was in the parish of St Alphage. If these houses were affected, this could explain the exacerbation at about this time of a long running dispute with the church of St Alphage over tithes, where there is a suggestion in the documents that the precinct may have been enlarged. 144

If this signals that the hospital had begun to build again, that could explain some of the debts, for building works were quite a common cause of debt in religious houses. St Bartholomew's priory, for example, was in debt in 1409 through rebuilding its chapter house and cloister.


If the last building work had been that begun by William Elsyng

before his death, the hospital might well have felt that with all the growth in the fourteenth century something grander could be afforded. We do know that the church was eventually quite a good size, for it was large enough to serve as a parish church after the Dissolution even after the north aisle had been pulled down. 146Possible evidence of rebuilding may be found in the archaeological survey of the standing remains of the church tower, all that remains of the hospital. There is evidence there of building on earlier foundations, which Gustav Milne has put down to the 1349 church being on the site of an older one; but he says that another possibility would be a later rebuilding, though that fits less well with the archaeological evidence. 147Ifthis speculation is right, the hospital chose just the wrong time, for with the rent roll falling it could ill afford the cost of building or to lose the rent which the vanished houses had brought in.

TNA, C 1/1/1 0 1-5, all but the last of which are printed in Proceedings in Chancery, pp. lxiii-lxvii, Houses, p.93. 146 Stow, vol.l , p. 294. Speculation that rebuilding the church may have been the cause is recorded in Religious Houses, p.l67. 147Milne,p.I09. 144

14S Religious


For the fall in rents could not all be due to absorption into the hospital. All the streets round the hospital were badly affected, even where their location makes absorption into the precinct unlikely. Elsewhere the attrition was less dramatic. Outside the immediate area of the hospital, mostly properties round Cheapside with some further south and west, rental income fell by under 20% and the number of tenants by 10%. Everywhere the rents were lower, but some properties had been split between more tenants while in others tenancies were being amalgamated. For example the property in Baynard's Castle, which had been part of the endowment in William's time, had been split between four tenants due to pay £5 18s a year in place of the single tenant paying £8, while in the Ropery, the property given by John of Northampton, where £19 5s a year had been due from nine tenants, £15 13s 4d was now due from three. Overall the reduction in income could have taken the proceeds from the London property back to the level it had been at William's death: the gains made in the preceding century may have been wiped out.

The fall in rents would also have increased the relative burden of the quitrents and rents of assize which the hospital paid, charges on a property paid to a third party.



rents remained fixed in cash terms and so were much more stable than rents from tenants, which were subject to the demand for and supply of property: at Elsyngspital eleven of the thirty three quitrents the hospital was paying in 1408-9 were still being paid at the same level in 1535.149 In times of falling rents quitrents due to a house could form a valuable buffer, because they remained unchanged. On the other hand, the quitrents it had to payout could become a heavy burden. Unfortunately Elsyngspital had a very unbalanced portfolio of quitrents, in the wrong direction for a time of falling rents. In 1408-9 quitrents paid out on its property were about £29 a year, taking 15% of its income.


Quitrents being paid to it on the other hand were only about £7 a year in

1403-4 and a little less in 1448.151 Other religious houses had a very different balance, for example in 1535 quitrents paid out took only 5% of gross annual income at St

See Paxton, pp.228-230 for an explanation of these rent charges. TNA, SC6/1257/3; Vaior,p.390. 1'0 TNA, SC6/1257/3. The full year cost has been calculated from a ten month figure of just over £10, with varying amounts of what was due actually paid, so this figure is the outcome of quite a complex calculation. There is no figure for 1448 but the 1461 figure was £30 6s 8d, though some of these may have come from property acquired after 1448, BL, CCix68. '" TNA, SC6/1304/8; BL, CCxiiilO. 148




Hospital but 11% at Elsyngspital.l" Not surprisingly, not all the

quitrents were being paid: the 1448 accounts record debts to six religious houses which look like arrears of quitrents.153

Another factor in the hospital's indebtedness was mismanagement. Canon John Fuller was said to have incurred debts of £30 from his extravagant way of living, 'propter sue conversationem insolentiam' and the partisan laxity of his regime, 'regentie favorabilem tolerantiam' .154Fuller had entered the hospital in the 1420s, and had been ordained deacon in 1426 and priest in 1429. In the 1430s he was the curate at St Mary Aldermanbury and a parishioner not only made him his executor but left his son in his custody.155 So he seems to have been regarded as a reliable man and must have been in a position of some responsibility to have been able to run up a debt of this amount. Exactly when the debt arose is not clear, but only £9 15s was still outstanding in 1461 after his death, so it may have been quite some time before. Another canon, John Wood, had incurred a debt of £ 10, all of it outstanding in 1461.156 This was probably in the 1450s when the hospital was beginning to get on top of its debts, so to have further trouble must have been particularly unwelcome.F"

Elsyngspital also had trouble with its stewards in this period. For example in 1435 Walter Hervy was alleged to have walked out during his term as steward.


In the

1450s there may have been dishonest stewards, for prior Gilbert Sharpe attempted to evict one Robert Leche from the chamber he had at the hospital, claiming in Chancery that, while Leche was the steward in William Sayer's time as prior, he had been guilty of mismanagement and falsifying the accounts. This was some years after the event however and Sharpe's case smacks a bit of special pleading. 159Sharpe also had an encounter with the last of William Sayer's rent collectors, John Bromhall, who, he claimed, owed the hospital n:t0ney.160Perhaps Sayer was an over trustful prior or Sharpe Valor, pp.388-390. BL, CCxiiilO. IS4 BL, CCix68. ISS See Appendix 6. IS6 BL, CCix68. IS7 He does not appear in the ordination lists so must have been recruited after 1449 when there is a gap in the record, see Appendix 6. IS8 TNA, CP40/699 vo1.106. IS9 TNA, C1I67/81 and 84. The documents are catalogued as dating either from 1475-80 or 1483-5. Sayer was prior from 1454-1462, Sharpe from 1462 to 1492 at the latest, see Appendix 5. 160 TNA, C1/27/259. IS2



an especially aggressive one. That these canons had been allowed to run up debts and rent collectors go their own way certainly suggests some kind of mismanagement at the hospital and some priors who had not got a very firm grip on things.



was of course an affliction of religious houses and hospitals and Elsyngspital' s problems appear to be minor compared to those experienced by some other houses.


At St Bartholomew's priory, for example, in 1433 the bishop of London took the management out of the hands of the prior and convent and put in his own commissary instead.163 Holy Trinity Aldgate was taken into the king's hand in 1439 because the administration was so inefficient.


And at the hospital of St Mary Bethlehem the

master left the hospital in charge of the porter, who sold the hospital's goods and took the alms money for himself, leading to a visitation by the king's clerks in 1403.165

Unfortunately no reports of visitations by the bishop of London, which would cast more light on how well the hospital was managed, survive for Elsyngspital, though it certainly was visited for in 1408-9 the accounts recorded 9s 4d as having been spent on the bishop's visit and 40s was paid to the bishop's proctor.l'" The management system Elsyngspital operated should have helped control of income and expenditure, for as evidenced by the 1403-4, 1408-9 and 1461-62 accounts, income was channelled mainly through the rent collector or steward and in 1408-9 the kitchener accounted for most of the expenditure.


This would make it much easier to keep control of expenditure

(though leaving it vulnerable to the dishonest steward) than the system operated by many larger houses, under which the various officials or obedientiaries had property allocated to them and kept their own quite separate accounts.


161 Though debts run up by individuals responsible for areas of expenditure were not that unusual. Barbara Harvey quotes several instances of obedientiaries at Westminster Abbey leaving substantial debts at the end of their period in office, Obedientiaries, p.xliv. 162 Snape, pp.129-36 catalogues examples of mismanagement which he puts down generally to a 'lack of business capacity' rather than deliberate action, p.131. See also Seymour, pp.136-220 on maladministration in hospitals. She is inclined to take a much less charitable view than Snape. 163 Religious Houses, p.93. 164 Religious Houses, p.86. 16' Religious Houses, p.l14 166 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. 167 TNA, SC6/1304/8, SC6/12S7/3, SC6/91S/2S. For the coverage of these accounts see the footnotes to Table 4.1. References in the kitchener's account, TNA, SC6/1257/3, to the rent collector settling some bills suggests that he was also involved with expenditure of all kinds and the 1461-62 rent collector's account does itself cover a similar range of expenditure to the earlier kitchener's account, suggesting that blsthen the rent collector was overseeing both income and expenditure. 1 8 See Obediemiaries, pp.xxxix-liv and Snape, pp.23-70. In this respect Elsyngspital was similar to Eynsham Abbey given by Snape as an example of a smaller house, which in 1517 had fifteen monks, six office holders and nearly all the income distributed by one man, in that case the cellarer.


Testimony to the hard times the hospital was experiencing is given by its efforts to raise money. In 1429 prior Henry Hoddesdon made an agreement with Walter Herberde under which Herberde gave the hospital the large sum of £40 in return for 20d a week for life, payable every Saturday in the church of St Peter Comhill. If the lump sum was very important to the hospital at the time, it may have been a reasonable gamble given the death rates. But in the event Herberde lived another twenty six years and would have been paid well over £ 100 if the agreement was kept.

169 Herberde

and his wife

Katherine were good friends and benefactors of the hospital: he donated a great cup to the hospital and both he and his wife had chantries and were buried there.I70 He seems to have been a servant of the king, as there is a reference to him as 'king' s valet'.


Elsyngspital was of course by no means the only religious house to turn to this sort of device in hard times. Although technically not a corrody, which essentially involved allowances in kind, this financial arrangement had many of the same features: a lifetime allowance in return for a lump sum, where the gamble was on how long the recipient would live. 1 72 Another method of raising lump sums was to let property on long leases: in 1452 the prior sold a quitrent of 40s per annum in the parish of All Saints Gracechurch St. for a term of 300 years.


There are no records of any other arrangements of this kind, but by 1448 there were quite a substantial number of loans. The 1448 inventory records debts to thirty five people. Some, as already noted, were arrears of quitrents due to religious houses. Four or five look like small debts to tradesmen. One debt, of 37s 2d, was to Robert Leche, the steward referred to above, perhaps arrears of wages. But among the rest are a number of names recognisable as friends and supporters of the hospital who had presumably lent money, either towards the building works or to help the hospital out of its difficulties.


The largest debt was £43 2s 10d owed to Master John Stokes, a doctor of law and commissary to the bishop of London, who had presided over the elections of the prior in CCR 1429-35, p.24. The reference to the gift of the cup is in the 1448 inventory, BL,CCxiii 10. Herberde died in 1455, will GL, MS09171 IS f.216, and asked to be buried in the church at Elsyngspital. He left £ I0 for a chantry for one year at the hospital and ten marks for the chaplains and his property to his wife. She died in 1463, asking to be buried with her husband, leaving the proceeds of the sale ofa tenement for prayers and for a seven year chantry, GL, MS09171/5 f.353. 171 LMA, HR161/304. 172 For a discussion of corrodies see Chapter 5 below. 173 BL, Royal17B XLVII f.75. See property 41 in Appendix 4. 174 BL, CCxiii I O. 169



both 1427 and 1438.175 He must have been related to William Stokes, a vintner who left property to the hospital and was buried there, and he was executor to Geoffrey Guybon, tailor, to whom Stokes had granted the tenements and through whose will they passed to the hospital.!"

Thomas Hoddesdon, perhaps a relative of the former prior of that name,

was owed £15. Walter Herberde, mentioned above as having got such good value for his £40, was owed £10, as was Geoffrey Boleyn, mercer and later mayor and benefactor to the hospital, who occupied one of the hospital's large properties in Bow Lane.177 'Crofton', who was owed £6 Is 2d, was probably William Crofton, who was to support a later prior in court in his dispute over tithes with St Alphage.


So it looks as though,

in its efforts to stay solvent, the hospital had adopted a strategy both of delaying paying its bills and turning to whoever would help for loans.

The difficulties would have been much less if the hospital had still been attracting property bequests as it had done in its first fifty years. In the early years of the fifteenth century things may have seemed as before. In 1405 a bequest came in from Richard Arnold, goldsmith, who left the hospital a tenement in Watlyng Street.


He wanted the

tenement repaired and the hospital set about that with a will, for a number of payments for building and repair work are recorded in the 1408-9 accounts.l'" The property was let in 1448 for £5 a year. The obit that Arnold required in perpetuity in return cost 8s 4d in 1408-9, 4d for each of seven canons at his anniversary and 6s for the poor, so the hospital was making a good profit. Then in 1408 Nicholas Glover left quitrents of23s 4d per annum from a brewery and shops in the parish of St Sepulchre on condition that, after deducting 6s 8d for its trouble, Elsyngspital paid for his obit to be observed in St. Thomas's hospital. where he lived.181

But after that no bequests of property are known for nearly twenty years, and then it was only a quitrent of 6s 8d per annum, which Henry Barton, skinner and mayor, left in m GL, MS0953113 ff. 205v-206v, MS0953 1/6 ff.lll v-113v. This could be the John Stokes, cleric and dplomat, who was canon ofSt. Paul's from 1431 to 1440, Emden, Cambridge, p.558 and Fasti, p.67. J7 LMA, HRI85/18. 177 London, p.343; BL, CCxiiilO; TNA, PROBI1I5 ff.55v-58. 178 For the St Alphage dispute see Chapter 6. His widow, Marjorie, was described as a parishioner of Elsyngspital and a benefactor of the hospital, GL, MS09171/8 f.l72v, see Chapter 6. 179 LMA, HR133/62. He may well have been the Richard Arnold who finished his apprenticeship in 134950, was warden of the goldsmiths in 1366-7 and continued to take apprentices himself until 1388-9, Jefferson, pp.34, 100,226. Ifso he would have been quite, but not impossibly, elderly. 180 TNA, SC6/1257/3. 181 LMA, HR136/6.


1436 to pay for two pounds of wax for candles and for two canons to attend his mass in the chapel above the charnel house at St Paul's.182 Finally in 1443 a bequest on a slightly more significant scale arrived, but it was still modest compared to the gifts in the previous century: a messuage called 'le Shippe on the hoop' in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, worth perhaps a few pounds per annum in 1536.183The bequest was made by Thomas Deepden, plumber, but his will suggests that the property came from Thomas Moysaunt, carpenter.

The number of smaller bequests appears also to have gone down. This could well be just a factor of the reduced ability to search the sources in this period. 184But if there was a fall in benefactions in this period there are several possible causes. The change of prior on Draycote' s death in 1412, after more than forty years, may have meant a loss of contacts and encouragement to give. Or harsher times may have meant there was less money about and less inclination to give. The link to the founder, of course, was now pretty distant and his grandson Thomas died in 1431. Whatever the cause it would have come at a very bad time for the hospital, with rents falling and the hospital possibly overstretched, if it was indeed building.

Thomas Elsyng's death did not bring any bequest to the hospital other than payments to the canons and the poor to pray for him. The canons were to celebrate his chantry in perpetuity, each taking a week in turn and receiving 6d at the end of it. His anniversary was to be celebrated with the prior and canons in procession with vestments and ornaments. No property or cash was specifically left from which these were to come, but the prior was an executor and would have been able to ensure that anything available from the remainder of the estate left for pious causes came to Elsyngspital. No propet!y is mentioned in the will except for the 40s per annum rent Thomas had been left by his father, bequeathed, as his father had requested, to the nuns of Cheshunt, and the bequests are mainly to his parish church in Enfield and his servant's family, two of whom were his godchildren, to whom he left a cow each. The impression is that 182 TNA, LR14/343. William Elsyng had granted this quitrent in 1330 to Henry Bedyk when he acquired the garden on which the chancel of the hospital church was built, TNA, LR14/487 and Appendix 2. 183 TNA, LR14/92, copied into the Husting Roll as LMA, HRI72I7. The 1536 valuation is from TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. It is not possible to identify this property precisely in 1536: there were rents of £7 17s 4d from St. Dunstan's and All Hallows Barking together and the St. Dunstan's property, left to the hospital in 1456, was valued in 1461 at £613 8d, CPR /452-61, pp.283-4, TNA, SC6/36/32A. Ifit was worth anything like this in 1536 there would only be a pound or two left for the Barking property. 184 See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched.


Thomas, now over eighty, had outlived his own family: no wife is mentioned in the will but prayers are asked for his parents and for Roger, Joanna, Margaret and Avice, perhaps his children.l'"

Perhaps Thomas was not a wealthy man: in the 1411 subsidy assessment his only London property was the 40s rent referred to above and though he continued with property claims and dealings in London throughout his life, these were usually in conjunction with others and he may have been acting as executor.


Or possibly he had

been generous with help during his lifetime; lifetime gifts are harder to trace than those in wills, which often do not reflect the true extent of charitable giving.187ln 1408-9 he was supplying the hospital with produce from his country estate. He sent four bushels of com and his servant made several trips to bring pigs, chickens, heifers and on one occasion a boar: the prior gave the servant 3s 10d for his trouble.


This may have been

a regular practice and if Thomas had no London home he may have made the hospital his London base. One of the few bequests in his will was to a resident of Philip Lane in which the hospital stood, which suggests a close acquaintance. And of course as the founder's grandson the hospital might have been expected to give him an honoured place in their services in any case.

At about the time of Thomas's death the bishop of London, William Gray, took a step which was to begin the transformation of Elsyngspital's fortunes: he decided to dissolve the college of priests at Stanstead Thele in Hertfordshire and to transfer its assets and obligations to Elsyngspital.


The college at Thele had been established in 1316 by a

local landowner, Sir William Goldington, who had set up the college of a warden and four secular priests under the patronage of the bishop of London.


It attracted a few

extra bequests during the fourteenth century but seems to have gone down hill after

GL, MS0917113 f.274 with an extract at LMA, HR16017. Stahlschmidt, p.79. 187 See Burgess, pp.842-3. 188 TNA, SC6/1257/3. There is also a mysterious entry for payments of Thomas's expenses and account for going to the church at Chikwell (Chigwell?). 189 CPR 1429-36.p.l46 Then normally known just as 'Thele' or 'Stanstead Thele', the village was later known as 'Stanstead St Margarets', after the church, and now just as 'St Margarets'. William Gray was bishop of London from 1425 to 1431, leaving on translation to the see of Lincoln, Fasti,p.3. I~L, CCxxix44 and v46; CPR /3/3-17, p.434. A history of the house is given by M Reddan, 'The College of Thele or Stanstead St Margarets' in William Page, ed., Victoria History of the Counties of England: Hertfordshire, vol. 4 (London, 1914), pp.454-55 and in Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londinense, ed. R. Newcourt (London, 1708), vol. I,pp.891-3. 185 186


that.191 William Gray arrived on a visitation in 1427 and in 1430 petitioned the king for the college to be dissolved.192 He said that many of its possessions had been lost by the negligence of the warden, that what was left was barely enough to sustain one priest and that it needed the protection of a larger house. He asked that its possessions be transferred to Elsyngspital, which should supply two canons at Thele and three at Elsyngspital to celebrate there as the founder had asked. In March 1431 the king granted the necessary licence and the appropriation was confirmed the following month.


What happened to Thele was a lesson in what could have happened to Elsyngspital (which was founded as a college with the same complement of priests) had it been less well endowed and supported.


The property Elsyngspital acquired was considerable. It consisted of a messuage, a carucate and three acres of land, twenty acres of meadow, twenty acres of wood, 100s in rent and pasture for fourteen cows and 100 sheep in Thele, Stanstead Abbots, Amwell, Broxbourne and Hoddesdon, all local villages, and the advowson of the church at Thele. But there was also property in Essex, in Bowers Gifford, Chelmsford, Writtle and Broomfield, consisting of six messuages, a mill, 200 acres of land, twenty acres of meadow, thirty acres of pasture, £12 per annum rent and the advowson of the church at Aldham. No total valuation was given at the time, but in 1535 the hospital's Essex property, most of which came from this bequest, was valued at £16 17s 4d per annum and that in Hertfordshire, all of which did so, at £12 l ls 9Y2dper annum.19S If the income in 1431 was comparable, it would have been a very substantial addition to the hospital's estate. It also gave the hospital for the first time the added security of owning some property outside London.

The college was granted a mortmain licence in 1346 to acquire land to the value of 100s yearly, CPR p.87 and a number of acquisitions are recorded in the years immediately following, CPR 134850, p.lOO, CPR 1350-54, p.433, TNA, LR14/593 and Sharpe, Wills vol.l, p.61S. 192 The record of the visitation is lost but Irene Zadnik argues that it occurred in 1427, 'The administration of the diocese of London, bishops William Gray and Robert Fitzhugh' (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 1993) p.203. For Gray's petition see TNA, E28/52/S. 193 CPR 1429-36, p.l46. There is a transcript of the licence for the transfer printed in Monasticon; vol.6 part 3, pp.l429-1430. GL, MS09531/6 ff.192-193v reproduces the king's consent and has deeds from William Gray, Robert Gilbert his successor and Reginald Kenwood, dean of St. Paul's endorsing the transfer. Newcourt summarises these deeds in Repertorium, pp.892-3. The bishop required the payment of20s when a new prior was appointed and 2s were to be given to the poor of the parish ofThele annually at Easter. 194 Mergers of religious institutions were not uncommon, see Orme and Webster, pp. 130-3 1. 195 J? I ra or, p.3S9-90. 191



Giving this property to Elsyngspital must have been a deliberate act on William Gray's part. Given what we know of the hospital's financial difficulties, it seems a reasonable supposition that he was looking for ways to keep it afloat. He may have been pointed in that direction by Henry Hoddesdon, a senior canon of the hospital, who became prior in 1428: Hoddesdon was one of the villages in which the college held property,just

to the

south of Stanstead Thele and anyone who came from there might know the college was in a bad way. Gray's visitation in 1427 would have enabled him to see for himself. His impassioned description of the college's negligence does not quite square with the amount of property handed over, which certainly exceeds known donations to it: this suggests that assisting Elsyngspital was as much his motive as sorting out the college.


The king's licence said the transfer should take place on the death or removal of the warden, John Howeden, but quite when that was is not known, nor are there any later references to canons carrying on the services of the college. Elsyngspital may not have had possession in 1436, for in the subsidy for that year it is taxed only on London property, although others were also taxed on property held elsewhere.

197 At

the election

of John Belle as prior in 1438, however, two of the canons were absent and the election had to be postponed for several days so that they could be brought back



Elsyngspital canons had no reason to be away from London other than at Thele, perhaps they were there either conducting services or seeing to the property. The obligation of three canons at Elsyngspital may well have been met by putting the duties on existing canons, for there is no sign of any increase in the number of canons until the next century: having reached a total of eight in 1427 the number was still at that level in 1480.199 In 1536 Elsyngspital was paying a chaplain at Thele and this may have been the arrangement earlier.200

From 1438 onwards the hospital's debts began to fall: indeed as this is the first figure of indebtedness we have they may already then have been falling from an even higher figure. From over £400 in 1438, they fell to £209 10%d in 1448 and to £160 7s 9~d in

196 M. Reddan, in VCH Hertfordshire p. 454, points to this discrepancy and speculates that there may have been something else amiss in the college that required a new arrangement. 197 TNA, E 179/238/90 printed in Thrupp, pp.378-388. 198 GL, MS0953116 f.lllv. 199 GL, MS0953 1/3 ff.205v-206v; TNA, PROB 1117ff.9-11v (will of John Don). 200 TNA, E314/54. He was being paid £6 13s 4d a year.


l454_201So maybe the acquisition of Thele and some better management was producing results. The dean and chapter ofSt. Paul's were obviously keeping a close eye on things, as the 1448 inventory, which carries the earlier debt figures, was drawn up for the dean, possibly on the arrival of a new prior.202 At least three of the five priors between 1412 and 1462 went because of resignation, not death, and a number had short tenure by Elsyngspital standards. Henry Hoddesdon for example was prior for only eleven years from 1427 to 1438 and William Sayer for only eight from 1454 to1462 before they resigned, so it may be that some pressure was being brought to bear.

However in 1456 the hospital received the largest bequest it had had since that of William Elsyng himself. The donor was William Flete of Rickmansworth, a Hertfordshire gentleman and an MP.203 He came originally from Lincolnshire and joined the mercers' company by redemption in 1410-11, but was not active in its affairs. He made his considerable fortune in overseas trade and financial dealings and had a close connection to Cardinal Beaufort. Early on he acquired property in Hertfordshire, where he had a substantial house, and he was well enough off to make a number of large loans to the crown. He was member of Parliament for Hertfordshire in 1414 and again in 1423 and 1433, and served on a number of commissions in the county, as justice of the peace from 1422-29 and as escheator of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1426. He has been described as 'an unusually quarrelsome and sometimes overtly belligerent character' who was 'perpetually at loggerheads with other English merchants throughout his life.,204 His wife Alice predeceased him and he had died, childless, in 1444.

What his connection with Elsyngspital was is not clear. We do not have his will, so we do not know what happened to the rest of his property, nor why he should choose, assuming the choice was his, to be buried in a London hospital rather than near his

BL, CCxiii 10 and xi68. BL, CCxiiilO comes from the St Paul's archives: it is marked 'sub altari' indicating the altar in St. Paul's below which that particular record was kept (information from Dr.Nigel Ramsey for which Iam §rateful). 03 For details ofFlete's life Ihave drawn on Carole Rawcliffe's biography in House of Commons, pp.8891 and Heather Falvey, 'William Flete: More than just a castle builder', The Ricardian 10, no.24 (1994), pp.2-15. I am grateful to the History of Parliament for making available to me the, as yet unpublished, account of Flete by Charles Moreton prepared for the next volume on the House of Commons, on which Ihave also drawn. 204Houseof Commons, p 89. 201



home in Hertfordshire.i'"

As a fellow mercer he might have known Thomas Elsyng, the

founder's grandson, who might have introduced him to the hospital. The only other link comes through one of the canons, John Goldesburgh. He was left ten marks in 1422 by a kinsman, Peter Goldesburgh, a goldsmith, who was buried at Hendon.206 Peter had been witness to a property transaction of Flete's concerning land in Hendon in 1421 (possibly the property which eventually went to the hospital).207 It seems likely that he was the same man as Piers or Peter Goldsborough, clerk to the Goldsmith's company in 1412, who had been apprentice to Drew Barentyn, one of William Flete's partners in his trading ventures.208

It seems to have taken some time to sort out Flete's large estate and purchase properties for transfer to the hospital.209 It was not until 1455 that his executors, who included John Fray, former recorder of London and chief baron of the Exchequer, secured a licence to transfer property worth £30 to Elsyngspital. In 1456 the first transfer was made.2lO There was a large messuage with shops and houses in the parish of All Hallows the Great, on the corner of Thames Street and Bush Lane, valued for mortmain at £7 per annum after deductions for quitrents and repairs; two messuages called 'Ie Ship' and 'Ie Katherine wheel' in Gracechurch Street with a bakery annexed to 'Ie Ship' and a vacant plot of land next to 'Ie Katherine wheel' valued at £9 a year similarly; a messuage called 'Ie Pye' in la Riole in the parish ofSt. Michael Paternoster with 3s 4d a year quitrent from the tenement next door for 'quodam cursu aque aier' stillant", translated in the CPR as 'a water course distilling air', worth £4 a year; and a brewhouse 2°'The will of William Flete, TNA, PROBl1l3 ff.226v-227 referred to in his biography in House of Commons, p.91, is not his but that of another mercer active at the same time, as is made clear in the new biography for the History of Parliament, see above. His burial in Elsyngspital is recorded in CPR 145261, p.251 and LMA, HRI84/12. 206 GL, MS0917113 f. 97v. 207 CCR 1419-22, p.214. 208Jefferson, pp. 320, 354; CPR 1413-16, p.90. 209Setting up a perpetual chantry was a long business, requiring the securing of licences, purchase of land and so on. The chantry set up with the Mercers' Company in St. Stephen Colman Street for Lady Joan Bradbury took fourteen years to complete, Anne Sutton, 'Lady Joan Bradbury (d. 1530)' in Medieval Widows, p.222. 210 CPR 1452-61, p.25 1 and 283-5; TNA, C143/45212 . The transfer was also enrolled in the Court of Husting, LMA, HRI84/12. For John Fray see London, p. 356, and numerous references in the Patent Rolls, for example, CPR 1446-52, p.21 recording him as chief baron of the Exchequer. Acting with Fray was Edmund Brudenell, escheator and justice of the peace in Buckinghamshire, CPR 1441-46, pp.434, 467. But there were other executors who had been involved in buying the properties earlier and were now dead, Richard Newton, knight, chief justice in Kent, William Byngham, clerk and Robert Frampton, LMA, HRI73/35-36, CPR 1452-61, pp.283-5. The name of Sir John Fortescue, chief justice of King's Bench, isjoined with Fray and Brudenell as holder of the properties given to the hospital in 1458 but he is nowhere specifically named as executor, CPR /452-61, p.473.


called 'Ie Cok on the Hoop' in Tower Street in the parish of St Dustan in the East with a shop attached also worth £4 a year.211 Thoughtfully, the hospital was also given two marks quitrent from one of their own tenements in St Lawrence Lane and from four feet of land on the next door tenement, which they also owned, part of the original endowment.212

The whole was judged to be worth at inquest £25 6s 8d per annum net of deductions. But the assessment seems to have been very generous, for a rental of Flete' s executors listing all the properties gave them a gross annual rental value of £49.213 The property in All Hallows the Great, for example, was bringing in £14 6s 8d per annum instead of £7, and there was only a quitrent of 24s a year and allowance for repairs to be deducted to reach a net figure: this level of rent is confirmed in the 1461-62 rent collector's account where what appears to be the same property is let at £14 4s per annum.i'" There is a similar discrepancy in the figures for other properties: for example, the Gracechurch Street properties were rented out at over £ 18 a year gross as against £9 net for mortmain and that in La Riole for £8 a year, neither of which can be adequately explained by deductions for quitrents, which came to only £6 6s 7d a year for the whole bequest.2lS So this was a substantial addition to the London estate, more than sufficient with the Thele property to make up all that the hospital had lost since the beginning of the century. It also extended the hospital's property into new areas of the city, to the south and east of the business district round Cheapside in which the most substantial of its properties lay. This broadening of its property base must have been healthy in terms of reducing risk. So too would have been the extension of the country property which followed in 1458, when the executors made over property in Hendon: twelve acres of

TNA, CI43/45212, CPR 1452-61, p.284-85. The St. Dunstan property was already in Flete's possession in 1404, London Bridge, p.47. Quite what the water course distilling air was is obscure: it may have had some function in cooling in the process of distillation for medicinal purposes, see Linda Ehrsam Voigts, 'The Master of the King's Stillatories' in Jenny Stratford, ed., The Lancastrian Court (Donington, 2003), pp.233-52. 212 The properties in st. Lawrence Lane, from which the rents came, were those bought by William Elsyng from John Christian known as Marchaunt in 1338, property 20 in Appendix 4. The executors had acquired the rents as early as 1445 from Richard Person (or Parson) armourer, LMA, HRI73/3S-36, who had sued the hospital in 1443 for failure to pay the rent, Poss.Ass, p.118. He had been in receipt of the rent for many years as he is listed as receiving the rent from Elsyngspital in the 1408-9 accounts, TNA, SC6/12S7/3. 213 TNA, SC12/36/32A. 214 TNA, SC12/36/32A and SC6/195/25. 215 There were two small properties in Gracechurch St. in the rental which do not appear in the mortmain document, but as they were next to other properties in the rental they may have been included with them and that is what has been assumed. 211


land, three of meadow, forty of pasture and 4s 4d yearly rent, the whole valued at four marks 3s per annum.216

With the gift of course came obligations. Flete had asked for a perpetual chantry at the hospital for himself, his wife Alice, and John and Anne his parents. His anniversary was to be kept according to the instructions of his executors and a chaplain was to celebrate every day at the altar ofSt Katherine, in the presence of the poor of the hospita1.217 He also provided 8d a week each for twelve poor men, which was to be over and above their lodging, and they were to pray daily within the 'elemosinarie'

of the hospital.i" In

the 1461 summary account these payments are shown as £22 13s 4d a year with £6 a year for the chaplain. 219That made the total obligations from Flete's gift £28 13s 4d year, so the hospital should have received a reasonable surplus from the gift.

At about the same time, the hospital acquired yet more property under the will of Geoffrey Guybon, tailor, but clearly originating with William Stokes, vintner and gentleman, who had a monument in the hospital's church as did his wife Joan.220 Under Guybon's will, written in 1443 but not entered in Husting until 1457, the property went to Stokes for life, remaindered to the hospital.221 But the property had originally belonged to Stokes, who had made it over to Guybon in 1442 shortly before Guybon's will was written. So the arrangement appears to have been that Guybon could enjoy the property during his lifetime, as long as he left it to Stokes and the hospital when he died_222Whether it was Guybon's death or Stokes' death that prompted the enrollment 216 TNA, C143/45217 and CPR /452-6/, p. 473. This property is on the London rental but has been deleted, but the value shown there is slightly less than the mortmain value, at £2 6s 8d, TNA, SC 12/36/32A. The inquest gave the value as four marks, but an extra 3s was taken from the licence, presumably because it was thought the inquest had erred on the side of generosity. This was given under the hospital's old licence for £20 a year granted in 1370 not under the new one granted in 1455: perhaps the executors thought they had exhausted their credit with that. One of the copies of the old licence has noted on the back its use by William the prior in 1457-58 which would be on this occasion, TNA, LR14/1158. 217 CPR! 452-6!,p.25I ; TNA, C143/45212; LMA, HR 184112. This is the only mention of an altar ofSt Katherine. 218 TNA, C143/45212. 219 BL, CCxi68. It is not clear why this is more than the 8d a week for twelve poor specified in Flete's bequest, which would have come to £20 16s: the extra does not provide a round sum in terms of the number of poor supported. 220 College of Arms, MsA 17, which contains a list of Elsyngspital monuments. Stokes' name is not in the very similar list printed by Stow, vol. I, p. 294, but that of his wife Joan, daughter of Sir William Cheney, is in both lists. I am grateful to Christian Steer for drawing my attention to the College of Arms document and allowing me access to his transcript. 221 LMA, HR185/18. 222 LMA, HR170/59.


of Guybon's will in 1457 is not clear, nor is the reason for this rather curious arrangement. The hospital's obligations in return for the property were all for Stokes: a perpetual chantry served by one canon, paid 12d a week, was to be set up at the altar of St Nicholas, north of Stokes' tomb, and the names of Stokes and his parents were to be written on a 'tabula' so that they would be remembered (puzzlingly there is no mention of his wife). The hospital as a whole was to keep Stokes' anniversary, at which 2s 6d was to be distributed to the poor and 4d given to each canon.223 Master John Stokes, referred to above as the hospital's main creditor in 1448, was Guybon's executor and presumably a relative of William Stokes.

The property consisted of two newly built messuages with gardens in the parish of St Botolph outside Bishopsgate, two shops and an alley with five houses in St Michael Bassishaw, lying next to a tenement the hospital already owned, and fourteen houses with cellars and solars in St Sepu1chre.224 The rent collector's accounts in 1461-62 show 'Stokes' rents' with two tenants paying £1 15s 8d per annum between them but 'Flete's rents' also identified there are clearly incomplete so the same may be true here.225 The two houses in St Botolphs appear in the 1536 minister's accounts, when they were worth 32s a year.226 The other property is harder to trace. In St Sepulchre in 1536 there was a tenement worth £1 6s 8d a year but that had been in the hospital's portfolio in 1448. Otherwise there were only a couple of quitrents at 8s 4d and £1 15s 10d a year so it is not clear what had become of the Stokes property, unless it is one ofthese.227In Bassishaw no lettings were recorded in 1448 but in 1536 there is a 20s per annum letting and a 20s annual quitrent which might have been the Stokes property.

With these three gifts of property, from the bishop, Flete and Stokes, the hospital's financial troubles look to have been at an end. By 1461 the debt outstanding was down to £78 18s ~d and there were £32 3s 6d rent arrears owing from tenants to set against that.228 The rent collector's accounts of 1461-62 show income at £177 2s per annum and LMA, HRI85/18. LMA, HRI70/59, HRI85/18. m TNA, SC6/195/25. 226 TNA, SC61HENVII1I2345. 227 BL, CCxiii 1O. There was yet another property in the district left to the hospital, that from John Wade in 1467, TNA, PROBI1I5 ff.170-170v. One possibility is that these quit rents were in fact receipts from long leaseholders: the 1536 accounts so describe a payment the hospital made to St. Paul's for a property the hospital had bought from them on a ninety nine year lease, TNA, SC6,HENVIIII2345. 228 BL, CCxi68. 223




the 1461 summary account gives £198 16s 4d per annum, both figures very substantially up on the 1448 figure of £ 136 9s 10d, see Table 4.1. 22~either account is unfortunately clear about exactly what is included. The summary account includes ecclesiastical benefices, which would be principally the rectory ofSt Mary Aldennanbury, not recorded in 1448 but worth £ 16 a year in 1536, so the rental income in that account was probably between £180 and £190 per annum or around £50 more than in 1448. The Thele rents, worth around £30 per annum in 1536, are not in the 1448 figure either. They ought to be in the 1461 summary account which purports to be a statement of all Elsyngspital's income, but it is hard to see room for them with the Flete and Stokes bequests worth more than £50 annually between them. If Thele was held in a separate account, the total income in 1461 must have been over £200 a year.

The inventory of the hospital's goods, compiled in 1448 when the debts were already beginning to reduce, suggests that it had survived the difficulties as a pretty well equipped house.23o There was a good collection of tableware, including two silver gilt cups and a number of pieces of silver plate and large mazers and in the kitchen a good supply of large brass pots and other utensils. The church was very well furnished, with five chalices, three of them silver gilt, three silver gilt book covers, a silver censer and incense bowl and other precious items and relics: a portion of the true cross, a silver box with the milk of the blessed virgin and a head of one of the 11,000 virgins. There was a fine stock of vestments too, eight full sets of vestments, one of white gold cloth and one of red, containing between them nineteen copes, nine other copes and thirteen single vestments, some of them embroidered, and silk curtains for the altars and cushions of red satin and green silk. The list of vestments is comparable in size if not perhaps quite in quality, to that recorded for St Anthony's Hospital, a much richer house, in 1499.231

There was also a library, a room not just a cupboard in the cloister as poorer houses had. Over sixty books are listed in the inventory, mainly religious works but also a good selection of canon law and a few medical books.232 Few inventories for Augustinian

229 TNA, SC6/195/25, BL, CCxi68, BL, CCxiH)O. The rent collector's account is not fully comprehensive and may be unreliable, see footnotes to Table 4.1. 230 BL, CCxiiilO. 231TheSt Anthony's inventory is printed in Graham, pp.396-98. St. Anthony's receipts were £539 19s a ~ear in 1478-79, Religious Houses, p.230. 32BL, CCxiiil0. The list of books is transcribed in Redivivum, p.29. The earliest reference to the hospital possessing books is in 1361, when John Brian bequeathed a book of Decretals and returned another he

Footnotes continued on next page


libraries have survived and those that have are for large prosperous houses, like Leicester Abbey which had over 900 volumes in the late fifteenth century, but for a modest hospital Elsyngspital's seems a good collection. 233Carole Rawcliffe comments on Elsyngspital's

'especially fine collection' of books on canon law as well as devotional literature and a few books on medicine.234 In addition there were no fewer than thirty five service books kept separately in the sacristy, on a par with the number held by St Anthony's.23S

Many of these goods would have course have been accumulated over the years, some as gifts. But in terms of annual expenditure, the 1461-62 rent collector's account, which includes some heavily aggregated items of expenditure, suggests that about 20% more was being spent on meat and fish than in 1408-9 and about the same as in 1408-9 on bread.236 This would be for a hospital community which may have been slightly larger: there were seven canons in 1408-9 and eight in both 1438 and 1480, though there may of course have been a fall in between.237 One would not expect to see a huge improvement in the standard of living between the two dates: although there had been a great improvement since 1448, at worst the hospital's gross income in 1461 may have been about the same as at the beginning of the century, at best a little higher, and its net income about the same, despite the fact that it had a great deal more property.238 But it had survived through a period when conditions were very harsh. The mid fifteenth

had borrowed, LMA, HR89/99. Two books from the library survive, both inscribed as given by John Dye, a canon and recluse, in memory of his parents, N.R. Ker, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain, (London, 1964, second edition), p.280. One is a Secretum Secretorum, now in the library of Trinity College, Dublin 436, a book of Arabic origins of advice to a prince on living well, see Fay Getz, Medicine in the English Middle Ages.(Princeton, 1998), p.53. The other is an early twelfth century sermon ofOdo of Cluny on St Mary Magdalene (where the inscription is) bound with an eleventh century De Penitentia of Ambrose and two treatises of Isodore of Seville, De fide Catholica contra Iudaeos and Chronica also eleventh century and now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, eMus 113. The former is recognisable from the 1448 inventory, the other not. The inscription is said to be early fifteenth century. John Dye is known only from the inscriptions and a reference in a will implying he was dead by 1460, GL, MS0917I1Sf.305. 233 T. Webber and A.G.Watson,eds., The Libraries of the Augustinian Canons, (London, 1998), p.l04. For examples of some hospital libraries see Orme and Webster, pp.64-65. 234 Carole Rawcliffe, "Written in the Book of Life': Building the Libraries of English Medieval Hospitals and Almshouses, The Library. 3:2 (2002), p.139. 23S Graham, pp.396-98. Some service books were also gifts: an antiphon and a breviary are noted as gifts in the inventory, the latter from one of the canons, BL, CCxiiilO. 236 TNA, SC6/1257/3, SC6/195/25. The comparison has to be very tentative, because of the many alterations to the 1408-9 account and the fact that it was only for ten months, and because of the summary and unreliable nature of the 1461-62 account. It would also of course depend on prices: Rawcliffe comments on the slump in grain prices in the late fifteenth century so the quantity of bread may have been larger, p.7S. 237 TNA, SC6/12S7/3; GL, MS09S3116f.lllv-113v; TNA, PROBll17 ff.9-11v. 238 See Table 4.1.


century was a very difficult time in London and indeed in the country generally. 239The 1430s was a decade of poor harvests and high prices and London was hit by a slump in the following two decades. Rents were falling generally: Derek Keene has charted a long term decline in rents throughout the fifteenth century. 240

Many other London houses had financial problems in the fifteenth century.i" The hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate had fallen on hard times even earlier, in the late fourteenth century because of flood damage on the site and falling land values on its country estates and had been forced to borrow £200 in 1395. In 1454 the prior complained to the pope that the hospital had suffered misfortunes and was burdened with its obligations to poor travellers and the sick.242St Giles, Norwich had rent arrears accumulated over many years which stood at £384 by 1461 and had to be written off. Like Elsyngspital, its net receipts in the fifteenth century were little higher than after the Black Death, despite having acquired considerably more property.243 Many hospitals were quite small: few had incomes over £300 per annum and many were below £100 and the poorer the house the less resilient it would be likely to be in hard times, which may be one of the reasons so many hospital experienced such severe difficulties.244

Steadier times: the later fifteenth century to the Dissolution

The next statement ofElsyngspital's

position is over seventy years later, in 1535, at the

valuation which preceded the Dissolution, when its gross annual income was £239 13s 11Yld.245This was over £40 a year, or around 20%, more than in 1461. If the 1461 statement of account did not include the Thele income, of course the real increase would be much less than this and may best be gauged by what is known of property See London p.62 for the severe depression in trade in mid fifteenth century London; John Hatcher, 'The great slump of the mid-fifteenth century' in eds Richard Britnell and John Hatcher, Progress and problems in medieval England (Cambridge, 1996), pp.237-72; Pamela Nightingale, 'England and the European Depression of the mid-fifteenth century' in Journal of European Economic History, 26 (1997), fE·631-56. Keene, 'Landlords', p.107 and 'A new study of London before the Great Fire' in Urban History Year Book (London, 1984), p.18. 241 Religious Houses, p.12. 242 St Mary Spital, pp. 68,81. 243 Rawcliffe, pp.97-98. 244 Seymour, pp.136-137. 245 Valor, p.389-90 and see Table 4.1.The minister's accounts for the Dissolution year, 1535-36, give a slightly higher figure, £246 7d gross but this includes £S for the site of the priory which was not included in Valor so the result is much the same, TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. Some figures from the minister's accounts are printed in Monasticon, p. 708. 239


acquisitions. There are however no further references to debts and only relatively minor debts emerged at the Dissolution, when one would have expected anything significant for which there was evidence to have been met: the receiver paid £14 12s 8d in 1537-38 for a number of debts mainly to tradesmen.r"

So it looks as though, after a final flourish

of trouble in the 1460s, when the new prior Gilbert Sharpe fought off for the last time the potentially serious attack of the rector ofSt. Alphage on Elsyngspital's rights to administer the sacraments and be free from tithes, the hospital at last entered calmer waters.247

The hospital acquired some extra property during this period, but on nothing like the scale of the mid fifteenth century. In 1467 John Wade, a parishioner ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, left the hospital a tenement in Sea Coal Lane in the parish ofSt Sepulchre. He was buried at the hospital, leaving a torch to Elsyngspital and small payments to the prior and canons and instructions for keeping his anniversary. One of his executors was Robert Leche, described in the will as a gentleman of Elsyngspital, but also known as a steward and rent collector, see above.


Wade is described only as

the son of John Wade but he clearly had very close connections to the hospital as he was getting a pension of £2 12s a year from it and as a tenant his rent of £ 1 annually was remitted in 1461-2: perhaps he was a former steward of the hospital or a corrodian.249 If the property reached the hospital (and Wade had provided for it to be sold if the obit was not kept) it was probably not worth a great deal, as the total rent in the St. Sepulchre area in 1536 was only £3 lOs 10d a year,and the hospital had other properties in the area.250

For the following forty years or so, no more significant bequests of property have been traced, an even longer gap than in the early fifteenth century. At some point however the hospital acquired an endowment from the king. The 1536 accounts after the hospital was dissolved recorded a payment of £13 6s 8d a year granted to the hospital by the king and his forefathers from property in the parish of All Hallows the Great, through

246 TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2425. Care was taken in the legislation to see that all obligations, with a few s~cified exceptions, were honoured, Youings, p.43. 2 7 See Chapter 6. No outcome is recorded but in the sixteenth century several testators refer to themselves as 'parishioners' of the hospital so it clearly had maintained its privileges. 248 TNA, PROB 1115 ff.170-170v. For Leche see above and Chapter 5. 249 TNA, SC6/195/25. 2.50 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. See the discussion in connection with the Stokes' bequest above.


the sheriffs from the fee farm of the city.25i A later account, in 1541-42, described the payment as alms, but elsewhere it is described as a rent of assize. 252Norecord has been found as to how or why the grant was made, but the wording suggests it was before the time of Henry VIII and possibly in his father's time. This might be a charitable payment or it could be a payment for one of the hospital's tenements in All Hallows the Great; the latter would explain the apparent sharp drop in rents there as compared to fifteenth century values. If it was a charitable grant, it is particularly interesting as it is the only possible endowment from the king or any nobleman ever received by the hospital, though it did benefit from some tax relief.253

Then in 1511 John Braibroke, a wealthy haberdasher with property in Essex, left the hospital a tenement in St Lawrence Jewry.254 This was an area in which the hospital had long held a lot of property, and Braibroke's bequest was in St Lawrence Lane next to one of the hospital's existing properties. There were five tenants in St Lawrence Lane in both 1448 and 1536, including on both occasions one very large property, and the total rent from the locality had actually fallen slightly between 1448 and 1536.255 So if Braibroke's bequest reached the hospital, there must have been some amalgamation of the old properties and Braibroke's might have been one of the smaller, but still substantial, properties let out at between £3 and £6 a year. This bequest is however only mentioned in a short will made in 1508 but not enrolled in the Court of Husting until 1511, when a later will made in 1510 and not mentioning Elsyngspital, received probate in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. 256 Braibroke's widow survived until 1530 when she was a parishioner of the hospital and so probably living in the precinct, and was buried beside him in the lady chapel. She left a bequest to the high altar for tithes forgotten and small sums for the poor and the sisters. She asked for her obit to be kept at the hospital annually on the day of her decease and for six days each side of it, with 6s 8d to the prior, 4s to the convent, ld each for the sisters and 20d for tapers.257



m See Chapter 6. LMA, HR236/34. m TNA. SC6IHENVIIII2345; BL, CCxiiilO. 256 TNA. PROB 11117 ff.41 v-42. 2.57 GL, MS09171/lOf.165. 2S4


William Brown, mercer and mayor, who died in 1508, was a parishioner of St Mary Aldermanbury and left £ 10 to build a chapel in that church and 10 marks a year for a chaplain there for ten years.258 In 1520 the chantry was extended by lands in Stanstead Abbots, which were granted to Elsyngspital by William Brown's son, also William Brown, and Thomas Hynde, his son in law and executor and a tenant of Elsyngspital's in Bow Lane.259 The son left £200 for a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury but this was administered by the Mercers' Company; to Elsyngspital he left only 3s 4d to each sister.26o There is no indication that Elsyngspital administered the original chantry, but it already had lands in Stanstead Abbots, so perhaps was regarded as a safe pair of hands to look after the property. At the Dissolution Elsyngspital was paying 9s a year to the Mercers' Company for the obit of William Brown and £ 1 2s a year to the guardians of St Mary le Bow from diverse properties for the obit of Thomas Hynde: the latter had left no bequest in his will but perhaps it was all tied up with the original grant of property.i?' At all events Elsyngspital had property worth £3 8s 8d annually in Stanstead Abbots in 1536, £3 6s 8d from one property and 2s from another.262

Thomas Lupsett, goldsmith and warden of his Company in 1503-4 and 1506-7, in 1523 left the hospital £20 for two pillars and an 'archcross' in the church 'yfthey goo aboute and doo make their churche in the tyme of my wyfe's lyfe'. This is the only reference found to any rebuilding in the sixteenth century and there is no archaeological evidence to draw on, but the fact that it was contemplated suggests confidence in the hospital's financial state. He also left 6s 8d to the prior, 20d to each canon and 13s 4d to be divided among the sisters.263 His property went to his widow and to his son, also called Thomas, an ecclesiastic and scholar who died in 1530 and was buried with his father in the hospital's church.264

TNA, PROBlll16 fT.4v-5. Mercery, pp.524-5. Elsyngspital was to pay Richard Feldyng £1 6s 8d rent annually from their Cordwainer Street property (property 26 in Appendix 4) as surety that they would keep the contract, which sum he would bequeath to hospital, Mercers' Company records, Chalgrave Estate Box 41FJ/J866. I am grateful to Dr. Anne Sutton for letting me have her transcript of this. 260 TNA, PROB 11121fT.305-36. 261 Valor, p.390. 262 TNA, SC6IHENVIIIJ2345. The value of the original land the hospital owned in Stanstead Abbots, which was among the college ofThele property, is not known but it might have been quite small in which case this property could have been the tenement. 263 TNA, PROBII121 fT.22v-23. 264 See T.F. Mayer, 'Lupset, Thomas (cI495-1530)', ODNB, article 17201, accessed 3 July 2007. 258



In 1532 the hospital's prior John Wannel sealed a deed in the chapter house acknowledging a gift of £100 from Alice Lupsett to keep the obits of herself, and her husband and son, for eight days before and after 20 February, 26s to be distributed at every anniversary, each canon to have 12d and each poor sister 4d. Anything left was to go to the prior for his labour and to buy wax. Two wardens of the Goldsmith's Company were to have 3s 4d each if they came to the obit and this 6s 8d was being paid to the Goldsmith's Company at the time of the Valor.265 Alice died after the hospital had been dissolved, in 1543, when she was buried in the hospital's church, then transformed into the parish church of St. Alphage, with her husband and son.266 The Lupsetts do not originally seem to have been a local family, as Thomas said he had previously been a parishioner of St Mildred Bread Street and St Vedast, but his will was written in the presence of the prior of Elsyngspital and it seems likely he was by then living in St Alphage, possibly in the hosp~tal itself.267Alice was certainly a St Alphage parishioner after his death and may have been instrumental in seeing that the church in which her husband and son were buried survived.268

The new prior, Roger Pottyn, probably invested Alice Lupsett's money in property, for in 1533 he took a ninety nine year renewable lease from St. Paul's on a property in Adel Street in the parish ofSt Mary Aldermanbury. The property was next to the hospital's garden and a small part of its garden was taken into the precinct, but the rest was presumably let. It consisted of a tenement called the Pyckedhatch with two small tenements adjoining. 269The rent to St Paul's was 46s 8d a year. If all the Lupsett money was spent on this property, it might be expected to bring in £7-10 per annum for the hospital.27o

Few property bequests have been found specifically for the sisters of Elsyngspital, for by this time the poor inmates of the hospital probably consisted of twelve sisters only.271 Richard Plommer, gentleman of Essex, had left a bequest to the Crutched Friars from 26' Goldsmiths' Company, register of deeds, vol. 2 f.313 and 313v. I am grateful to Dr.Jessica Lutkin for this reference. 266 Goldsmiths' Company, register of deeds, vol.2, f.314 267 TNA, PROB 11121ff.22v-23. 268 See Chapter 6. 269 BL, CCxi2, transcribed by Honeybourne, Appendix IC, pp.462-65. 270 Rosenfield, p.303, suggests that capital values at this time were ten years' purchase. Keene, 'Landlords', p.I06 says that in London by the 1540s when property values had really begun to pick up it was more like IS years. 271 See Chapter 5.


which the Elsyngspital sisters were to receive 40s per annum, but the sisters had to sue the Crutched Friars some time between 1529 and 1532 because they had not been paid for seven years.272 It seems likely that they established their title, since after the Dissolution the Court of Augmentations was paying them £412 a year from the Crutched Friars' estate. 273One source of the extra £2 12s may have been a rent given by Sir Stephen Jenyns for which the Friars were being pursued by Elsyngspital in the same period.274 John Porter vintner, who died in 1499, left 3s 4d a year to the poor alms people of Elsyngspital from a rent which he had left on reversion to the Charterhouse.i" Plommer and Porter may be connected, as a John Plommer, a chantry priest at the church of St. Mary at Hill, was executor both to Porter and to Marjorie Crofton, a parishioner of Elsyngspital, to whom the Charterhouse rent had been left for life. But these payments direct to the sisters seem not at this stage to have been regarded as part of the hospital's income but as personal to them, for they are not included in the Valor and they are therefore excluded from the calculations of the hospital's income which follow.

Finally in 1535 Elsyngspital was paying the churchwardens of St. Lawrence Jewry 20s a year for a John Cheynie and Joanna his wife from various properties in that parish.276 There should have been a gift of cash or property supporting this, but no evidence has been found. There were however monuments in the church to members of a Cheyne or Cheney family, Thomas son of Sir William, Thomas, John and William, all sons of Sir William, as well as Joan, daughter to Sir William Cheney, wife to William Stokes who has already been noted above. 277These all date from before 1500 but it could still be the same John. There are however a number of families of this name using these Christian names but none quite fits nor has local associations.

All of these testators, except Cheynie for whom no location is known, had connections to the locality of the hospital and this seems likely to be the basis for their generosity. TNA, C1I654/44. TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2396 f.64v, SC6,HENVIII/2401 fJOv, LR21262 f.IOv. I am grateful to Nick Holder for these references. 274 TNA, C 1162214 I. This document is very badly damaged and most details are unreadable and hence the ~t has not been included in Table 4.3. 5 TNA, E3271782, copied into the Husting Roll, LMA, HR226/17. 276 Vaior,p.390. The name is there printed as 'Cheyme' but reference to the original shows that it could e~ually well be 'Cheynie', which seems more likely, TNA, E344/23, f.29. 27 Stow, vol.1, p.294; College of Arms, Ms.A17. 272 273


Given the uncertainties about the values of the properties, or even whether in some cases they reached the hospital at all, an estimate of their total value can only be a guess. At most it could have been in the region of £15-£20 per annum: may be under £1 for Wade, £3-£6 for Braibroke, over £3 for Brown and say £7-£10 for the Lupsett money and the Pyckedhatch. But if the Wade and Braibroke bequests had failed to materialise and the Lupsett money had not all been invested, the total could have been nearer £10. If the money from the king was a charitable payment and not an existing rent then the total might have been between £20 and £30 per annum.

Given all the uncertainties, this could account for all of the increase since 1461 if the Thele income was not in that account and has to be allowed in addition. But if the Thele property was included, and the whole of the £40 per annum increase needs to be explained, then there must have been some other new property not identified or some rise in rents, either from a general rise in rents or because the hospital was improving its property. The evidence for a general improvement in rents is mixed. The significant sixteenth century rise in rents in Cheapside did not really occur until after the 15308. But suburbs tended to recover before the centres of towns and the Elsyngspital property around the hospital only just inside the City wall was certainly doing better than that in more central locations.


Out of London there is not enough comparative data on Elsyngspital rents to really see what was happening. In London there was a great deal of variation in the experience in different locations. Property in the area round the hospital, so badly hit in the first half of the fifteenth century, was bringing in over 70% more than in 1448. Some of this was of course the newly acquired property discussed above, the Pyckedhatch and any others bought with Alice Lupsett's gift. In addition two new tenements were let inside the hospital precinct for £6 a year and one of the hospital's tenants in the area had built six small new houses within his capital messuage.i" Rents had risen even in the small houses in Philip Lane, where there were now seventeen tenants instead of twenty one

Keene, 'Landlords', p.107 and 'New study of London', pp.II-21; Rosser, p.174. For the economy ~enerally see LJ.Bolton, The Medieval English Economy 1150-1500 (London, 1980), p.2S8. 9 TNA, SC6IHENVIII12345. It was not unusual for secular people to live within the precincts of monastic houses. Rosser refers to houses being put up in the sanctuary at Westminster for outsiders as early as the late thirteenth century and there were many more by the late fourteenth century, Rosser, p.68. 278


and the rental was over 20% higher.280 This suggests that this area on the fringes of the walled city had become a more desirable area to live in and perhaps that the hospital had made a considerable investment here.

Experience in the other areas was more mixed. In the areas where the hospital had long held property, in Ironmonger Lane, where in 1448 there had been four tenants paying £7 6s 8d a year, in 1536 there were three paying £10 l ls 8d, a rise of 30%, and in Old Change the increase was slightly higher. On the other hand the rent in Watlyngstreet was the same as in 1448 and there was only a very slight increase in Bow Lane. In Honey Lane rents had actually fallen by 9% and St Lawrence Lane by 4% despite there being a new property there (Braibroke's). The property in Baynard's Castle, which the hospital had had since the early days, was not in the 1535-36 accounts at all, perhaps having become completely decayed or sold. Taking six areas outside the area immediately round the hospital where it had long held property and where there were no known new properties, the overall number of tenants had fallen from twenty one to eighteen, a fall of nearly 20% and the rental income had increased from £55 14s 8d a year to £62 17s 4d, about 13%.


Flete properties, where they can be separately

identified, had all lost value compared to the executors' rental: for example the properties in Gracechurch Street said to have been let for £16 a year were now bringing in only £11.282

In terms of net income, on the basis of the figures in Table 4.1, the hospital's position had improved considerably. The up to £40 increase in gross income between 1461 and 1535 seems to have been accompanied by a decrease in deductions for quitrents, vacancies and repairs of rather more than that figure, so that the hospital could have been up to £85 better


There must, however, be some doubt about how

comparable the figures for deductions are. The 1461 statement is very broad brush with no detailed support for the figures.284 The 1535 figure is constructed from three separate documents, all prepared for the Crown around the time of the Dissolution. The quitrents figure is broken down in detail, but the repairs figure, from an early version of

BL, CCxiiil0; TNA, SC6IHENVlII/2345. The areas were Ironmonger Lane, Bow Lane, Old Change, Honey Lane, Poultry and Watlyng Street. 282 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345, SCI2/36/23A. 283 'Up to' because of the doubt whether the Thele property was included in 1461 or not, see above. 284 BL, CCxi68. 280



the Valor, is simply a scribbled tota1.28S The vacancy figure of one, and that due to the disrepair of the property, seems improbably low and might suggest that vacancies were separately accounted for.286However, taking the figures at their face value, it is worth looking separately at quitrents, vacancies and repairs.

Quitrents are recorded as having fallen from £37 a year in 1461, or even more if Thele was not included, to £26 16s 9d a year in 1535, despite an increase in the amount of property.287 So somewhere along the way £10 ofquitrents had been fallen away, which was not unusual: at Clerkenwell nunnery, of £69 in quitrents which were theoretically due between 1489-90 and 1532-33, less than half was regarded as collectable_288 So this fall could be, at least in part, a more realistic view on the part of those constructing the

Valor, which was to be the basis for taxation, of what would be paid out. The amount recorded for repairs is very much less than it had been in 1461, £13 6s 8d as opposed to over £30.289 It may be of course that commissioners were taking a very tough stand on what was allowed, and in the event no repairs were finally allowed as contractual expenses. But it may also be that with the disappearance of many of the cheaper properties, the London estate was in better condition than before: in London areas where comparisons can reasonably be made, between 1448 and 1536 the number of tenants paying less than 20s a year had halved from thirty two to fourteen.29o Leases which made the tenant responsible for the repairs, thus lifting the burden from the hospital, may also have been becoming more common. Of the thirty two tenants with leases for a term of years in the 1535-36 Minister's accounts, repairs are mentioned in nineteen cases and in eight of these the tenant was responsible.f"

Valor, p.390; TNA, E314/54. From the Minister's account for 1535-36, TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2345. 287 BL, CCxi68; Valor, p.390. 288 Paxton, p.231. 289 BL, CCxi68; TNA, E314/54. The 1461-62 rent collector's account shows over £25 for repairs and £8 rent remitted to allow the tenant to do repairs, consistent with BL, CCxi68. 290 BL, CCxiii; TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2345. There were twenty-one rents actually shown as under 20s in 1536, but five of them are identifiable as rents of assize, one is a rent for a yard and one a very low rent for a very long lease, plainly one where a capital sum has been paid. All the 1448 low rents appear to be from tenants as the quitrents are listed separately. 291 Derek Keene refers to the increasing practice during the fifteenth century of letting on term leases especially those giving responsibility for repairs, 'Landlords', p.109. 28'



A reduction in vacancies could also be linked to a change in tenancy arrangements. Low rent tenancies had, in the early fourteenth century, been linked to more frequent vacancies, so the turnover might be expected to fall as the cheaper properties disappeared.


Length of leases may also have been increasing, giving more stability to

the rent roll. The hospital had always had some long leases but it is only in the sixteenth century that there are reasonably complete figures.


Of the tenants in the 1535-36

accounts, thirty two out of seventy nine in the London property had leases for a term of years rather than on an annual basis.294 Terms, where given, varied from twenty years to ninety nine, and about half were for fifty years or more. Where the date is known, 60% had been taken out since 1530, with only three before 1520. This could suggest that leases were becoming more common, as this seems a high proportion for natural turnover, though the actual length of the leases does not on average increase. The impression is one of a steady upward long term trend rather than of any great speeding up as times became uncertain.295 It is possible too, as discussed above, that demand for property, after being so long slack, was at last beginning to improve, so that vacancies were more quickly filled.

So at the time it was dissolved, Elsyngspital not only had a higher gross rental income than seventy five years before, but many of its outgoings were lower. The number of canons had risen: there had been eight for much of the fifteenth century but when they all acknowledged the royal supremacy in 1534 the number had grown to ten.296 The inventory taken when the hospital was dissolved in 1536 suggests a greater degree of comfort in the domestic quarters than had been the case at the last inventory over eighty years earlier, with cushions and table carpets in the dining parlour, for example, and

292 In the 1403-4 accounts, which show where the vacancies occurred, nearly all of them were in houses worth 20s or less and most of these were below lOs, TNA, SC6/1304/S. 293 For example, one of the Bow Lane properties was let on a whole life lease plus two years for the executors in 1351, LMA, HR79/81. Rosser says that at Westminster, from 1350-1420,lettings by the year were favoured as allowing rent increases more readily and that the move to twenty to forty year leases came after that as the market got harder. pp.S3-S4. These sixteenth century leases however were even longer. 294 Most of these details are noted in the accounts, but in some cases they have been added from the leases themselves, TNA, E303/10/355-384, or from the analysis of leases done by Rosenfield, pp.214-IS. 295 Rosenfield found nothing unusual in Elsyngspital's position: St Helen's and St Bartholomew's Priory had about half their London tenants on leases and St Mary Bishopsgate, like Elsyngspital, had about a third, Rosenfield, pp. 21S, 232-3, 238. He confirms that he saw no indication of last minute leasing at Elsyngspital, p.213. London Guildhall however quotes a 200 year lease from Elsyngspital to the City of London in IS32 for one of the gatehouses to the Guildhall precinct which it owned, which may be more suggestive of the pressure of the times, p.211 quoting CLRO, Repertory 8, fo.2S0. 2961NA, E2S147.


painted hangings in several rooms, though this may be partly a reflection of generally improving standards in society more generally. prospering.


the signs are that the hospital was

Had its net income in 1535, when the Valor was taken, that is the income

after deduction of quitrents and other contractual obligations, been just a few pounds higher- it was £ 193 15s 6~d a year- it would have escaped the ignominy of being the only religious house in London to be dissolved as one of the small houses in 1536.


Elsyngspital had survived the death of its founder without damage to its fortunes and prospered in the decades after the founder's death. There followed a very difficult period in the middle of the fifteenth century, from which it must only have recovered by some very rigorous management as well as by two substantial transfers of property. It had gone forward from there and was more prosperous than ever before by the time it was dissolved. Its property portfolio was by then worth probably twice as much as at the founder's death, and the amount of property was substantially larger.298 Despite this increase in the amount of property, the deductions in terms of quitrents, vacancies and repairs had all fallen, so the net income had increased even more than the gross. The estate had also become much more diverse and so probably less open to risk. Whereas all the original property had been in London tightly concentrated in the area round the hospital and in Cheap ward, in 1536 property within London was much more widely spread over sixteen parishes and 15% of the property was right outside London, although Elsyngspital still had the highest proportion of urban property of any London house.2991t was one of the few houses to see a significant increase in the number of religious between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, the number of canons rising from four to ten, no doubt partly because of its late foundation.J'" Although it had its management problems, the difficulties were not entirely of its own making, given the economic situation at the time and at no stage did it require the drastic action seen in some other houses nor deserve the kind of castigation sometimes meted out to religious TNA, E117/12128. The improved standard is not reflected in the description of the furnishings of the church and there is much less silverware. This may however be as much to do with the circumstances of the Dissolution as with the hospital's prosperity, see Chapter 6. 298 Property worth £107 out of the total of £239 can be identified that definitely was not in the hospital's ~ssession at the outset, and there was certainly more which cannot be separately identified. Only St Helen's Priory equalled it, Religious Houses, p.ll, Table 2, drawing on Savine, p.117. 300Religious Houses, p.IO, Table 1. St. Bartholomew'S Hospital and the London Charterhouse (another late foundation) also had significant increases. 297


houses. All this was accomplished with little royal or aristocratic help but with the support of London citizens among whom Elsyngspital managed to establish a position alongside much longer established hospitals like St Bartholomew's,

and St Mary

without Bishopsgate.


Chapter 5 The people of Elsyngspital A hospital or a priory was a community in which most of its members lived and worked. At Elsyngspital, in addition to the prior and canons there were, as there would have been in other houses, chaplains to help with services, clerks for singing and others for secular duties, lay servants for domestic and administrative tasks, and, because it was also a hospital, sisters to look after the poor and sick and the sick themselves. There were also better off people living at the hospital either in the close or in the hospital itself, again common in religious houses. What the total numbers were is not known, but as is shown later, there could have been between twenty and thirty people living there in addition to the poor and sick. Numbers of the latter started high, over sixty in William Elsyng's time with aspirations for one hundred.


But the likelihood is that this number

rapidly declined and that the provision for the poor eventually took on more of the character of an almshouse?

This community lived within a, probably walled, precinct in the north west comer of the city of London. A detailed description of the location is given by Marjorie Honeyboume and this has been used to delineate the site in Figure 4.3 The site was bounded to the north by the road running inside the wall, on the east by Gayspore Lane, now Aldermanbury, and on the west by Philip Lane, now lost but then running mid way between Aldermanbury and Wood Street." The southern boundary was less well defined, but it did not reach as far as Adel Street and lay north of Brewer's Hall. S In Philip Lane and Aldermanbury there were shops on the frontage towards the south and the hospital's grounds ran behind the frontage. The whole site was about sixty four metres wide at its widest to the north and about the same at its deepest to the south, quite extensive for a late foundation on an urban site, though much less extensive than other priories in London.6 Holy Trinity, within the walls, had no extensive outer precinct but was still much larger than Elsyngspital, 150 metres along the wall and

IAppendix 3, AI0; TNA, SC6/161768. The argument for this is developed later in this chapter. 3 Honeybourne, pp.239-41 and plate v.


GL, MS251211552; LP,vol.15, 612(7). , BL, CCxi2 transcribed by Honeybourne, pp.462-65. 4

6 A rough estimate based on Honeybourne's sketch map, plate v. The comparison is Honeybourne's, p.241


around 137 metres in depth from the wall." St Mary without Bishopsgate's site outside the walls had a spacious outer precinct and gardens and orchards, the whole 155 metres at its widest and 450 metres at its greatest depth.8 Elsyngspital did have some room for gardens to the south, stretching across the site behind the houses in Philip Lane and Aldermanbury, in which no doubt they grew herbs, fruit and vegetables but there would not have been room for much livestock."

The church lay in the north east comer of the site with the tower to the west and beyond it the infirmary hall.lo In 1540 'the long messuage or house in which the late sisters of the said late priory now dwell' was said to stretch from the church to Philip Lane, parallel to the city wall, and this is most likely to be the infirmary hall. II This extension of the church, the hall substituting for the nave, was a common form for hospitals to take: a surviving example is St Mary's Hospital in Chichester.


Apart from this there is

no firm evidence on the location of the hospital's buildings, though they are listed in the 1536 inventory of the hospital's property, sixteen rooms in addition to the church and the cloister.P There was also a room above the church porch, which was let out in 1535.14 The sketch map at Figure 6 gives an idea of how these might have been located in the light of the few clues in the inventory (for example that the parlour was next to the court) and the arrangement of other houses. The cloisters would have lain to the south of the church and there were, by 1536, both an inner and outer court, probably with access from Philip Lane ,which would have given access to the sisters' dwelling, the prior's lodging and the domestic quarters without disturbing the canons. A common arrangement would be for the other buildings to be grouped around the cloister: the chapter house near the church on the east, and the prior's lodgings on the west. This was the arrangement at St Mary without Bishopsgate, which also had the dormitory on the Holy Trinity, a rough estimate based on the map on p.S. rough estimate based on the map on p.131, St. Mary Spital. 9 LP vol. 15. 612(7); BL, CCxi2, transcribed by Honeybourne, pp. 462-65. Hardly any purchases of fruit or vegetables are recorded in the kitchener's accounts, so they must have relied on their own supply. Corn was bought to fatten capons so some poultry must have been kept and maybe a cow as no milk was bought, TNA, SC6/1257/3. IOMilne, pp.112-3; Figures 4 and 6. The chancel is recorded as having been built on Henry de Bedyk's ~arden on the north east corner of the site, TNA, LR14/343. ILP. vol.l S, 612(7). 12Gilchrist, pp.17-18. The arrangements for the sick in Elsyngspital are discussed later in this chapter. 13TNA, E 117/12/28. None of these is identified as belonging to prior canons or sisters, which makes clear identification more difficult. Indeed it is possible that the sisters' accommodation was not included since they continued to live at the hospital and they may have been regarded as having title to their own p,0ssessions. 4 TNA, E303/10/371. 7

8 Another


east and the refectory on the south. The kitchen was south of that, not on the cloister itself for safety reasons, and this would have been a plausible layout for Elsyngspital.V There was also a cemetery, which in 1340 lay next to the church, though that may no longer have been the case by 1536, given the number of other buildings: to the south where there was more space might be more likely.


This chapter recounts what is known of the people who lived within this precinct over the period from William Elsyng's death in 1349 to the hospital's suppression in 1536.

The priors

The prior was responsible for all aspects of the hospital's well being, a powerful position. The charge given to the last prior, Roger Pottyn, on his election in 1532, which probably followed a customary pattern, gave him responsibility for the liberties and privileges of the hospital, and the care and direction of all the goods, spiritual and temporal. He was instructed to be a father to the canons and they were to obey him and take his directions. He swore to conserve the customs and statutes of the hospital, to minister to the canons, to accept visitations by the bishop, not to alienate possessions or precious objects, nor to agree to pensions, annuities, corrodies or fees without consent of the full chapter and to account twice a year for the state of the hospital.



these attempts at constraint the power residing with the prior must have meant that his personality and competence was crucial to the hospital's welfare. Elsyngspital had twelve known priors during its lifetime as a priory. Appendix 5 gives details of what is known of the priors with references and what follows draws on this.

The charter founding the priory provided for the chapter to elect one of its members as prior, as would be usual at this time, having first received licence from the patrons, the dean and chapter ofSt. Paul's, to proceed with the election and the approval of both the dean and the bishop of London once the choice was made.


In fact representatives of

the bishop and the dean attended the elections, the records of four of which survive.


St Mary Spital, p.51.

TNA, LR 14/551. GL, MS09531111 ff.60-60v. 18 BL, CCvlO printed in Monasticon; pp.707-8; see Knowles, vol. 2, pp. 248-54 for elections in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 16



Lengthy and detailed reports were sent back to the bishop of the proceedings to ensure everything was properly done. Election seems to have been by acclamation, or, as the record of Roger Pottyn's election put it, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, without the necessity for the awkward business of voting, and no case is known where any problems were encountered over the choice."

The men so elected, where anything is known of their background, had quite long periods as members of the chapter at Elsyngspital. There are records of five of the twelve as canons and they had an average of just under thirteen years service before they became prior, with a range from eight to at least seventeen years. Four of these five, Dally, Hoddesdon, Belle and Thornburgh, were in charge in the first half of the fifteenth century; the fifth was the last prior, Roger Pottyn.


Most of the other priors

may well also have served some years in the chapter before becoming prior, but the ordination lists for the London diocese do not survive before 1361, from 1375-81 or between 1450 and 1489, when they would probably have been ordained. Only for William Sayer, elected in 1454, would ordination during a missing period give a really short period of service as canon, less than five years, but in the difficult period of the mid fifteenth century drastic measures may have had to be taken. And of course John de Wyndesore the first prior, and probably John Gerard the second, must have come from outside unless they had previously been serving in the hospital as secular priests.

There is no firm evidence of London connections among the priors, but for two their names suggest possibilities. John de Wyndesore may have belonged to the local family of de Wyndesores from whom William Elsyng had bought properties in and around the hospital." John Thornburgh may have been a connection of Thomas Thornburgh, recorder of London in 1403-4, as well as of two canons of the same name: Thomas, sub prior at the time of Belle's election in 1438 and Jacob, ordained in 1441.22

The elections were those of Henry Hoddesdon in 1427, GL, MS0953113 f.205v-206v, John Belle in 1438, GL, MS09531/6 f.lllv-l13v and Roger Pottyn in 1532, GL, MS0953 III 1 f.57-61. John Dally's eJection in 1412 is also recorded but in less detail in the records ofSt. Paul's, GL, MS25513 f.18v-19v. 20 The start of the period as a canon is taken from Davis, CD Rom. The period of service as a canon could have been a little longer that that, since generally no order before acolyte is entered and not always that. So men could have been serving as canons for a year or so in the minor orders or of course as novices. 21 LMA, HR57/108; TNA, LRI4/527. 22 Tucker, Appendix 7.1; GL, MS0953116 fT.lllv-l13v and Davis, 6997; Davis, 10330. 19


The periods served as canon before election as prior suggest that the new priors were on average in their middle thirties on appointment. They should not have been ordained priest until they were twenty four and the average period served as priest was just under eleven years, slightly shorter than the total time as canon, making them on average at least thirty five on election.r' Where the composition of the chapter is known at the time of the election (for Hoddesdon, Belle and Pottyn) it is clear that none of them was the most senior canon on election. Pottyn was the third most senior of ten canons but Hoddesdon and Belle were both quite junior, only two out of seven canons being junior to Hoddesdon and three out of nine to Belle. Both took up the job when the hospital was in great difficulties and perhaps a new broom was needed. The average period served as prior was about fifteen years. There were three very long serving priors, Robert Draycote serving at least forty nine years to 1412, Gilbert Sharpe between twenty one and thirty years from 1462 and John Wannel thirty two years from 1500 to 1532. These seem all to have been periods of prosperity for the hospital so perhaps it did well with experienced hands. There was a big gap between these and the other priors none of whom served more than fifteen years but really short periods in office seem to have been rare: the shortest may have been that of Roger Pottyn, brought to a premature end after only four years by the Dissolution. So this looks like a very stable community, not given to rapid changes in management and run by men who were well steeped in its ways before they took office.

Robert Draycote and John Thornburgh are known to have died in office.24 Four priors are known to have resigned: John Dally, the fourth prior, in 1427, his successor Henry Hoddesdon in 1438, William Sayer in 1462 and the penultimate prior, John Wannel in 1532.25 Resignation as head of a religious house, having been unusual earlier, was by this time becoming less uncommon, so this number of resignations may not have been remarkable.i" Of those at Elsyngspital only Wannel had a really long period in office and so might have gone because of failing powers. The others were all in office in the difficult times of the mid fifteenth century and that may have caused an early departure. Hoddesdon is known to have stayed on at the hospital and probably that would be the Davis, p.ll. OL, MS25513 f.18v; TNA, C1I67/84. 2.5 OL, MS0953 1/3 ff. 205v-206v; OL, MS0953116 IIIv-113v; OL, MS0953 III I ff.57-61. 26 Knowles, vol.2, p.252. Rubin notes that at St John's Hospital, Cambridge, only three were known to have resigned, two after short periods in office probably for better jobs, but that seems unlikely to be the case at Elsyngspital, p.171. 23



case with the others." Hoddesdon and Wannel received pensions and that may well have been the normal practice alsO.28

The preoccupations of the priors must have been with the whole business of running the hospital, with which this account is concerned, and above all with keeping the house solvent. The competence of the prior must have been critical once the house was in difficulties in the first part of the fifteenth century, difficulties which may already have started under the ageing Draycote and certainly must have been very real under his successors Dally and Hoddesdon."

By the time Hoddesdon resigned in 1438 the

hospital was deep in debt and financial difficulties must have been the main preoccupation of the three priors who followed, Belle, Thornburgh and Sayer (the first and third both junior appointments). There is a suggestion that Thornburgh and Sayer may have had their weaknesses: Thornburgh was said by a later prior, Sharpe, to have given a corrody to a former steward without the consent of the chapter out of simplicity and blind affection and Sharpe also clearly thought that Sayer had been too lax with another rent collector." Nevertheless all these priors made steady inroads into the debt problem until it had been largely solved by the end of Sayer's period in office.3l

The prior became personally involved in quite detailed matters of property and administration, sealing property leases, many in the hospital's chapter house, and seems himself on occasion to have become involved in agreeing concessions for tenants in difficulties.Pfhe hospital was frequently involved in legal actions, some of them long running and usually involving property or debt. 33 Minor matters like rent arrears would be dealt with by the rent collector, but the prior himself would have been involved in major issues and sometimes attended court in person. For example, in two cases at the Assize of Nuisance it is said specifically that the prior, John Gerard or John de Wyndesore, came in person, though in neither case does he seem to have been very TNA, KB 271714 rot.9 and 66. I am indebted to Dr. Jessica Freeman for this reference. GL, MS0953116 f.113; GL, MS09531111 f57. No amounts are given but their successors were charged with paying a pension. That such pensions were paid is confirmed by the receipt of 40s a year pension by a previous prioress of Stratford, TNA, SC6IHENVIII12424. Knowles, vol. 2 p.252 says that heads were normally allowed their establishments for life after resignation: whether the pension here was in lieu of such an establishment is not clear. 29 See Chapter 4. 30TNA,C1/61/81 and 84; TNA, CI127/259. 31BL, CCxiiil0 and xi 68. 32TNA, SC6/1304/8. 33 See Appendix 5 and Chapters 4 and 6. 27 28


effective: in one he had to go away to consult his documents and returned to admit that the offending gutter was causing a nuisance and in the other he does not seem to have defended the fault. 34 Robert Draycote fought several hard cases attempting to hold on to the hospital's property and Gilbert Sharpe seems to have been a particularly aggressive and litigious prior. Not only, as indicated above, did he take action against two of his predecessors' rent collectors, but one of the cases led to him being imprisoned for trespass and he was also deeply involved in the hospital's long running dispute with the neighbouring church ofSt Alphage."

The priors may also have had a hand in courting potential benefactors to increase the hospital's income and even better its endowment. The long period during which Draycote presided over the hospital saw the acquisition of many of the properties which were to enable it to withstand the bad times of the fifteenth century: for one donor, Nicholas Glover, the hospital actually paid for writing his



Several priors acted as

executors to benefactors: Draycote to Robert Leuton the hermit of Tottenham and William Croug of London, Henry Hoddesdon to Thomas Elsyng, William Bowland to William Puttenam and John Wannel to Elizabeth Hall.


Such a position should have

enabled them to see that the hospital got some of the benefit of any available funds for distribution for pious causes.

There were also responsibilities outside the hospital. In 1350, soon after the priory's foundation, John de Wyndesore was given a papal mandate, along with the abbot of Hyde and a canon of Lincoln, to support a papal nomination to a benefice in the gift of the prior and chapter of Winchesterr" In the same year, with two other ecclesiastics, he was named in a papal letter of reconciliation issued to Thomas de Melton, canon of the Augustinian priory of Hexham. Melton had left the order claiming that he had been married before he entered the religious life. He now wished to return, saying that he had

34 Assize,

pp.ll 0 and 118. TNA, C244/95/94. For the dispute with St Alphage see Chapter 6. 36 TNA, SC6/1257/3. 37 GL, MS0917111f.371; CPR 1385-9, p.337; GL, MS0917I13 f.274; TNA, PROB 1119 ff.151-51v; GL, MS0917119 ff.191-91v. 38 CPL, volJ, pJ90. 35


made up the story. 39 The prior's job would be to smooth the path for Melton if his priory were reluctant to take him back.


The prior also took his turn as a collector of taxes. Heads of houses were the usual collectors of clerical tenths, chosen by the bishop for their suitability, houses in administrative or financial difficulties being excluded." So it was something of a vote of confidence in Elsyngspital when the prior, at the time John Gerard or Robert Draycote, was appointed to act as one of the London collectors of the clerical tenth in 1360.42 In 1381 Draycote was one of the city's collectors for the 1381 poll tax.43 The priors seem to have continued as collectors of clerical taxes at least from time to time. In 1405-6 one of Draycote's senior canons, William Thurgar, made the return instead of him, the prior perhaps already being too old.44 John Belle collected the tenth in 1439, rather surprisingly as the hospital was then deep in debt. Perhaps with so many religious houses in trouble in the mid fifteenth century the bishop could no longer be fussy about who he used." And in 1523-24 the Elsyngspital prior was again acting in that capacity."

The General Chapter of Augustinian canons met every three years but only the larger houses had the right to attend meetings and very few hospitals were included: St Mary without Bishopsgate, Maiden Bradley in Wiltshire and Elsyngspital were the only hospitals to belong." When Elsyngspital first began to attend is not known, but it was clearly a member in 1454 for the prior was appointed with the prior of Holy Trinity, London to visit the small priory of Berden in Essex.48 In 1506 the prior, John Wannel, was one of those who guided the procession to the mass which was the centerpiece of the ceremonies at the meetings of the Chapter. He was also elected then, and in 1509, as

CPL, vol.3, p.393. Runaway Religious, p.125-26. 41 A.K. McHardy, 'Clerical Taxation in Fifteenth Century England: the Clergy as Agents of the Crown' in Barrie Dobson ed., The Church, Politics and Patronage in the Fifteenth Century, ~Gloucester, 1984), p.17l. 2 CCR J 360-64, p.40. 43Church in London, p.22. 44 TNA, E 179/42/52. 45 TNA, EI79/42/177. ~atchell, p.156. 47 Dickinson, pp.145-46. 48 TNA, C270/31129. Salter gives five lists of members of the Chapter in Appendix III (pp.265-79). Four draw on thirteenth century material. Only the fifth list, compiled about 1360, dates from Elsyngspita!'s time as a priory, and then it had been established as such for little more than ten years. St Mary without Bishopsgate was a long established member but no other London hospitals. There are no reports of Chapter meetings between 1449 and 1506. 39



one the 'diffinitors', the small group who drew up the statutes which the Chapter then passed."

Wannel also seems to have been acting as collector for funds for building the College of St Mary at Oxford, as he is recorded as having received £18 from the prior of Tonbridge 'according to the schedule of my lord Cardinal'v'" Cardinal Wolsey was urging the Augustinians to do more to improve the intellectual quality of the order by sending more students to Oxford, and there is certainly no evidence that any of the Elsyngspital priors had a degree." Indeed that would have been unusual in a modest priory like Elsyngspital; Augustinian canons did go to university but it was usually from the larger houses.


Only houses with twenty or more canons were required to send students and,

even so, many of them did not do


None the less the existence in 1448 of quite a

large library of sixty books at Elsyngspital suggests an interest in learning among at any rate some of the priors. 54

Over the nearly two hundred years of the hospital's life as a priory there are just a few glimpses into the lifestyle of these priors. William Elsyng had clearly envisaged that the warden of his hospital would live a communal life with the canons, but it seems likely that once the hospital had been converted into a priory the head of the house would have had his own lodgings and lifestyle from the start. 55 Priors would normally have had their own suites as early as the late twelfth century and such arrangements were certainly common by the end of the fourteenth." By the early fifteenth century, when we get the first real glimpse into the life of the prior of Elsyngspital, he was clearly living separately from, and at a higher standard than, the canons. The kitchener's accounts of 1408-9 include a good deal on the expenditure of the elderly Robert Draycote, by then

Salter, pp.123, 127, 132 and xv. soSalter, p.xxxviii. St Mary's College had been established in 1435 for the education of Augustinian canons but little more than the chapel seems to have been built, see J. Barron, 'The Augustinian Canons and the University of Oxford: the Lost ColJege ofSt George', in Caroline Barron and JeMY Stratford, eds, The Church and Learning in Later Medieval Society; essays in Honour of R.B.Dobson (Donington, 2002), pp.228-54. $1 Though one of the canons, John Baker, may have done, see Appendix 6. 52 St Mary without Bishopsgate however, a much wealthier house but not with many more canons than Elsyngspital, did have at least one university trained prior. Thomas Bele, the penultimate prior, studied at St Mary's ColJege and later became a suffragan bishop, St Mary Spital,p.81. 53 Knowles, vol. 2, pp.26-28; Salter, p.xxxvii. 54 See Chapter 4. ss See Chapter 2. 56 Holy Trinity, p.lll; Knowles, vol.2, pp.244-45. 49


probably at least in his late seventies.


Draycote had three fur lined garments made that

year, one a worsted cope with a matching hat, the cope lined with fifty pelts of budge, an imported black lambskin in the luxury class. 58 All of these were made professionally, not at the hospital. He also had three hoods lined with fur, and bought four ells of linen, some of which would have been used for the shirt he had made. For the latter a small amount of tartarin, a rich silk fabric, was bought, which may have been for decoration, and the six and a half yards of ribbon was perhaps for making ties on the shirt and hoods. No footwear was bought, but lId was paid for having his boots mended. In total the amount spent on Draycote's 'necessities', mostly clothing, as recorded in the accounts was £3 4s 7%d, not an enormous sum. 59 But the cloth bought for the whole of the rest of the household came to only £4 9s 11~d and this plus another 7s or so for shoes and clothes was the sum total of clothing and footwear expenditure recorded in these accounts for the canons, chaplains and servants.

The spices bought for Draycote, costing 16s 9~d, may well have been for medicinal purposes, so too the 'gargarismo'

which cost 12d, perhaps gargle for a sore throat. His

teeth also needed attention: 8d was paid for the extractions, no doubt by John Toothdrawer, one of the hospital's tenants who lived nearby." It was not surprising Draycote had trouble with his teeth ifhe often ate the 'pynade', a sweetmeat made with pine nuts, candied or in syrup costing 17d a bOX.61 The prior's washing was sent out rather than being done by the hospital's launderer: Mary Locriter was paid 14d for doing his laundry. He had his own bread specially baked, but this is the only food identified as being exclusively for him, although no doubt some of the other delicacies in the accounts (like salmon and rabbits) were for his table.62

Draycote had his own parlour: 12d was spent on 'branches' for it, perhaps for lighting. The only mentions of furnishings are his bed which had to be mended and the curtain For what follows see TNA, SC6/1257/3. M. Veale, The English Fur Trade in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1966, second edition, London Record Society, 2003), p.134 et seq. '9 Compare for example the expenditure of Dean Worsley ofSt Paul's in 1481-82, of over £35 18s lO~d 'necessities' mainly clothes, The Estate and Household Accounts of William Worsley, Dean cf St Paul's Cathedral 1479-97, eds Hannes Kleinecke and Stephanie Hovland (London, 2004) pp. 63-65. 60 TNA, SC6/1304/S. 61 Definition from Household Acecums from Medieval England, ed. C.M.Woolgar (Oxford, 1992), part I, 94. 2 Perhaps the wastrel bread which Westminster abbey had on feast days which had to be separately prepared, Harvey, p.59. 57

'8 Elspeth


and banker which may have been his and which also had to be mended. But a later inventory, in 1448, probably made at the start of John Thornburgh's time as prior, gives more detail about accommodation and furnishings. It does not mention a parlour, but the great chamber with a small chamber off it must have been the prior's, though he may have shared it with others.


Here there was a featherbed with a bolster and a mattress

with another bolster and a good deal of bedding: a pair of blankets, two sheets, three sets of coverlet plus tester, one with a quilt, and four other coverlets. Some of these were quite elaborate, a red coverlet worked with 'acornes' for example and one with 'leone' of woven work. The featherbed must surely have been for the prior, with perhaps one of the senior canons or a servant on the mattress, perhaps in the smaller chamber. How many people shared the room is not clear: the three testers suggest at least that number of beds but no bed frames or other mattresses are mentioned and maybe some of the other canons slept there toO.64 The three curtains of blue buckram in the large chamber may have been for the prior's bed; there were also three of white linen, another of white linen for the press (which itself is not listed), and a cloth intended for the altar with two curtains: perhaps the prior had his own altar or private chapel. All this suggests some degree of modest comfort, though no cushions or hangings are mentioned, which would surely have been included in the inventory.

There were a number of clothes in the chamber which may have belonged to the prior: two copes for the cloister, a raincloak with a hood, three lined outdoor copes, two shirts, two pairs of breeches and two pairs of linen hose, a surplice and five rochets/" None of these is described in terms suggesting it was anything more than a workaday garment. It is possible however from this and the numbers, for example of rochets, that these were not the prior's personal wardrobe but spares for the canons stored in the four chests the room held.

By the sixteenth century the prior's degree of comfort looks a good deal higher. The inventory made by the Commissioners of the Court of Augmentations in May 1536,

BL, CCxiii 1O. This inventory however seems quite selective. For example, there is no mention of the refectory (though we know there was one as a form was bought for it in 1408-9) or the dormitory, there is very little furniture and few wooden items in the kitchen. It seems likely that only items considered to be of real value were included. 6' Rochets were a kind of surplice worn as part of the ordinary dress of the canons. 'Tunice' is the word interpreted as outdoor copes in Observances, pp. lxxiv-lccviii, lxxxi-lxxxii. 63



when they came to dissolve the hospital, gives a glimpse into the life of Roger Pottyn, the last prior/" A parlour and a dining parlour are mentioned, both of which must have been the prior's quarters. In the parlour was a featherbed with four bolsters and down pillows, a coverlet, a pair of blankets, another blanket of Irish frieze and a pair of sheets, with a celure and tester of blue buckram and three curtains. There are no other beds in this chamber and the bedding would be appropriate to one well furnished bed so the prior had his chamber to himself. There were painted hangings on the walls, a fire to keep him warm, a chair to sit in, three stools and a form for his visitors, four chests, one containing an oxhom garnished with silver, three candlesticks, a little cupboard, two holy water stoups, a book of the scriptures with a cover of silver plate garnished with gilt and a crucifix, a counter where the prior would have done his accounts and written his letters, and in it a leather bag with his ready money, amounting to 40s. In the small chamber off it slept his servant: he too had a featherbed with a bolster, a pillow, a blanket and a coverlet, with hangings of painted cloth on the walls. The dining parlour was equally comfortable. It was wainscoted and hung with red say, and there was a great table, a pair of trestles and two counters with leaves.67 For seating there were two chairs, two forms and five joined stools with two bankers and twelve cushions. To cover the table there were three different carpets and there were carpets also for the window. The prior would have presided here over his guests and perhaps the more senior canons.

There was clearly a step change in the way the prior was living between 1448 and 1536, which could be the result both of rising standards in the community generally and of the improvement in the hospital's position already suggested. The 1448 inventory had been made when the hospital was going through a particularly hard time, so it would not be surprising if, once things had got a little better, the prior acquired more of the comforts that might be expected in his position.

Like other members of the hospital the prior did receive cash from time to time from the obits and anniversaries of pious Londoners. In 1375, for example, he was left 13s 4d in the will of Thomas Frowyk and in 1455 2s in the will of William Matthew, who may have been a chaplain at the hospital.68 And sometimes there would be goods in kind:


TNA, El17/1212S.


'say' was a finely textured cloth, partly of silk.


LMA, HRI03/49; GL, MS0917115 f.173.


John Brian left Robert Draycote a girdle studded with two silver shillings in 1361 and Elizabeth Hall left John Wannel in 1521 her best feather bed with all its equipment and her best linen.69 Such windfalls were not frequent however and the prior is less often mentioned in wills than the canons (though he may of course have benefited equally if he took part in the services).

This is what is known of the men who led Elsyngspital after William Elsyng's death, who kept order in the little community, saw the possessions of the hospital were properly safeguarded, fought for them when they were threatened, solicited donations and kept the hospital afloat in difficult times. For none of them is anything known of any life outside Elsyngspital: their appearance in the historical record derives entirely from their association with the hospital. In this they probably had much in common with the heads of other modest religious houses: it was given to few to playa part on a larger stage.

The canons

The prior led a small community of canons which grew from four to five in the late fourteenth century, to seven by the early fifteenth century, to eight by 1427, staying at eight in 1438 and still at eight in 1480. 70 Whether numbers had stayed at that level throughout or had dipped in the hard days of the mid fifteenth century is not known, but the hospital was still regularly recruiting at the end of the 1440s.71 By 1534 the number had increased to ten.72 Elsyngspital was one of the few houses in London to see a substantial increase in numbers between the fourteenth century and the Dissolution, probably a factor of its late establishment, trying to reach a more viable size as the increase in its income in the late fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries allowed.

LMA, HR 89/99; GL, MS0917119 f.l91-19Iv. BL, CCvlO; Church in London,p.2; TNA, SC6/1257/3; GL, MS0953113 f.205v-206v;GL, ff.lll v-113v; TNA, PROB 1117 ff.9-ll v, will of John Don. 71After this the ordination lists are missing until 1489, Davis, p.2. 72 TNA, E25/47. 73 Religious Houses, p.lO.




MS0953 1/6


The names of a good many of the canons are known: eighty five canons have been identified, sixty one of them appearing in the ordination lists.


Of these sixty one,

thirty are also known from other evidence. The twenty four not in the lists can almost all be ascribed to the periods for which the lists are missing, so the lists do seem to be pretty comprehensive."

Only in two cases can the date of ordination not be reasonably

securely tied down to one of the missing periods and there are three canons about whose inclusion there must be some doubt. 76 The figure of eighty five must be some way short of the actual total, since it is unlikely that all those missing from the ordination lists have been identified. Since less than half of those on the ordination lists are known from another source, it is reasonable to assume that something like the same percentage might apply to the missing periods, that is, that the twenty four names known are about half of the total for those periods. This would bring the total over the hospital's lifetime to about 110.

The rate of recruitment to the hospital, as measured by ordinations, varied a good deal. 77 The first decade of the fifteenth century, for example, was particularly low, with only one name recorded, but recruitment shot up in the following decade. There is occasional evidence of recruitment in batches, perhaps to make the provision of education easier, for example four canons were recruited in 1370 and four in 1509.78 Over the period as a whole, recruitment tended to increase, not surprisingly as the number of canons was rising, but it was always quite high in relation to the known number of canons. At the peak the hospital recruited eight canons in the last decade of the fifteenth century and another eight the following decade, sixteen recruits for an establishment of between 74 See Appendices 5 (priors) and 6 (canons). All priors are included in the figures in this paragraph, as in those which follow, since they would all be canons, most of them well before they became prior. Davis gives on p.34 fifty eight as the number of canons in Elsyngspital between 1362 and 1448. This is clearly a misprint as the article which she quotes, her 'Medieval English Ordination Lists- a London case study', Local Population Studies, 50 (1993), pp.51-60, shows thirty four for that period. In two cases individuals whom Davis treated as two separate people have been treated as one, Begyns/Byggyne and Conygrawe/Cony. The reasons are set out in Appendix 6. 7sThe register of William Courtney, 1375-82 does not survive and that of Thomas Kempe, 1450-89 lacks its ordination list, Davis, p.2. 76 The canons about whom there is doubt on the date of ordination are William Sayer, prior, and John Dye, canon and recluse; those with doubt over whether they actually were canons are Richard Boteler, John Baker and John Valyant, see Appendices 5 and 6 for details. 77 I have taken the date of the first recorded ordination in Davis as an approximation for the first appearance of a canon. Profession and ordination into the minor orders, often not recorded, would have taken place before that. 78 Admission of novices in groups every few years was observed at Durham Priory and said to be common practice, John Hatcher, A.J.Piper and David Stone, 'Monastic Mortality: Durham Priory,' Economic History Review, 59, no.4 (2006), p.669.


eight and ten canons, implying a turnover of the whole chapter in less than twenty years. The most likely cause of loss would be death.


A few might leave the order altogether

or go to other houses, but only five such cases are known over the whole life of the priory.80 Of the eight men recruited between 1500 and 1509 only one, Richard Conygrave, was still in the chapter to sign the acknowledgement of the royal supremacy in 1534. Apart from one much older man, Richard Chase, the other ten who signed the document, and the prior, had been recruited since 1514, two of them still in minor orders." In all since the turn of the century twenty two men had had to be recruited for only ten or eleven places as canons.

Work on the monks of Canterbury, Westminster and Durham has established a sharp increase in mortality among them in the second half of the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries. Successive epidemics produced high mortality, with disease probably spreading quickly in the communal living conditions.V Life expectancy was shortest at Westminster, probably because of its proximity to London. The Elsyngspital data is very limited by comparison with these but, such as it is, it points in the same direction. Nor was Elsyngspital alone among London houses, with its high rate of recruitment in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, in contrast to the rest of the London diocese. Comparing the period 1400-39 with 1490-1529, Holy Trinity showed an increase of sixty per cent and at

st. Bartholomew's

priory recruitment went

up from nineteen to fifty four over the same period.83 In Elsyngspital over the same periods the numbers recruited nearly doubled, from fourteen to twenty seven.

There is some evidence that recruits were getting younger by the sixteenth century. The ordination lists give ordinations to acolyte, subdeacon, deacon and priest and there were minimum age limits for each of these, thirteen for acolyte, seventeen for sub deacon,

With much better information, at Durham only 3.3% of monks left the monastery, Hatcher et at. 'Monastic Mortality', p.670. At Westminster II % of departures were due to causes other than death, mainly promotion to a benefice or going as prior to one of the Abbey's houses, Harvey, p.116. Elsyngspital had neither of these possible outlets: its percentage, on the information available. is nearer Durham's at 5.8%. 80 For details of these cases, see below.



TNA, E25/47.

John Hatcher, 'Mortality in the Fifteenth Century: Some New Evidence, Economic History Review, 39, no.l (1986), pp.l9-38; Harvey, pp.l12-145; Hatcher et aI., 'Monastic Mortality, pp.667-87. 83 Davis, pp.36-37. 82


nineteen for deacon and twenty four for priest. 84Before becoming an acolyte the new recruit would have served a year as a novice and passed through the three other minor orders, though this could be a very quick process. A candidate who passed through all the orders very quickly would be likely to be an adult; one who took the theoretically possible full twelve years would probably have joined the ranks of the clergy as a young boy.85 In the fourteenth and first half of the fifteenth centuries, the longest period recorded to make the journey from acolyte to priest among the Elsyngspital candidates was four and a half years, and passing through in only three months was not unusual. If the age limit of twenty four for priests was being respected, virtually all must have been over twenty at first ordination and many over twenty four. In the early sixteenth century, by contrast, there are some very long periods, for example seven years from sub-deacon, and nine and ten years from exorcist, suggesting that recruits were much younger. This effect was also seen at Westminster, where novices at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries were several years younger than their predecessors in the mid fifteenth century, suggesting that the supply of older candidates could not keep pace with the increasing mortality.i" Davis also speculates that a shortage may have developed because educated men in London increasingly had opportunities open to them other than the church. 87

Young recruits could be especially vulnerable to the health hazards of London if they were coming into the city from outside, which seems increasingly likely as time went on. The ordination lists do not give the diocese of origin of recruits to religious houses, but they are given for recruits to the secular clergy. Of seculars ordained priest about one third came from the diocese of London in the late fourteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth century only one fifth came from London and the rest were immigrants. They came from all over the country, drawn by the availability of jobs in London, and especially from the large dioceses of Lincoln and York. 88 It seems quite likely that regular clergy followed the same trends, since London only maintained its population


Davis, p.ll. There are also a few recorded ordinations to exorcist, the order before acolyte, in the later

"e:;-!~is warns the 'the whole issue of progress through the ranks of clergy is a very difficult one to tackle. The figures are difficult to collect and interpret', p.l S, so this interpretation must come with a health warning. 86 Harvey, pp.138-41. 87 Davis, p.29. 880'aVIS, pp. 2 7-29.


through constant immigration, and that Elsyngspital drew many of its recruits from outside the city.

Little is known directly of the origins of the Elsyngspital canons. Only in two cases is it certain that they were London men. John Haunsard, ordained in 1411, was the son of Thomas Haunsard, a London vintner and Agnes his wife, with brothers who were also London merchants, Thomas a vintner, William and another John both fishmongers, while brother Henry was a priest. 89 Robert Byggyne, first ordained in 1519, said in a later court case that he had been born in the parish of St. Mary Aldermanbury and after the Dissolution became a priest there." But a few others have London connections. For example, Adam de Kent, ordained in 1362 and still alive in 1387, was probably related to Joan de Kent, a sister at the hospital." John Goldesbrugh, canon, was left ten marks in 1422 by his kinsman Peter Goldesborough, a London goldsmith.f" Richard Verney, canon, who sang at the funeral of Sir Ralph Verney, mercer and mayor of London, in 1478, must have been a relation.


And the possible link between the three Thornburghs

and Thomas Thornburgh recorder of London has already been noted.94 Edward Croke, known in 1465, had a well known London name, though there is nothing to connect him specifically with the family."

Some of the canons would have had a role to play in the management of the hospital. In a small house like Elsyngspital there would not be room nor need for the full panoply of office holders found in larger priories: the Augustinian priory at Barnwell in Cambridgeshire for example had seventeen office holders out of perhaps thirty canons.


One canon whose job is known is William Thurgar, kitchener in 1408-9, but it is evident from his accounts that his role was very much wider than the name implies and that he was handling most of the hospital's expenditure."

He was by then a very

experienced and senior canon as befits the responsibilities of the job: he had been a canon for at least twenty-six years, having been ordained deacon in 1382 and priest in See Anne Sutton, •Robert Bale, Scrivener and Chronicler of London', English Manuscript Studies J /00-1700,14 (2008), p189; GL, MS097113 f.65v. I am grateful to Dr. Anne Sutton for this reference.


GL, MS09065A11 ff.12v-13. I am indebted to Dr. Jessica Freeman for this reference. GL, MS091711If.203; GL, MS0917I11f154-154v. 92 GL, MS0917113f.97; Jefferson, pp. 320 and 324. 93 Sutton, Mercery, p.530 citing TNA, C11230/52 f.iv. 94 See above. 9' See Appendix 6. 90



Db servances

, p.XXXlIl....


TNA, SC6/2537/3.


1384. He seems to have acted for the ageing Robert Draycote, for in 1407 he completed the tax return due from Draycote as a London collector of the clerical tenth.98 It is possible that Richard Boteler, referred to in the 1408-9 accounts as looking after the wine and ale and candles, which was the role of the cellarer, was also a canon since he is not listed among the servants." Other jobs must have been shared among the remaining canons: a sacrist, to look after the church and the hospital's extensive array of vestments and plate, someone responsible for services and singing, a chamberlain for clothing and linen, an almoner or infirmarer with responsibility for the poor. One canon would have been assigned to the cure of souls at St Mary Aldermanbury, John Hilderston in 1407, Ralph Mympe in 1428 and John Fuller in 1437, although by the Dissolution a secular priest seems to have been doing the job as the curate was being paid £8 a year, a lot for a canon.

100 There

was also a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury

in the gift ofSt. Paul's, which on occasion was held by a canon, John Summyng in 1398.101

When there was a vacancy as prior, one of the senior canons took charge of the chapter and presided at the election. John Alysaundre described himself as 'president' of the chapter in 1412 at John Dally's election and Richard Conygrave used the same term to describe himself at the election of Roger Pottyn in 1532.102Thomas Thornburgh, on the other hand, presiding at the election of John Belle in 1438, described himself as 'subprior'


They were not necessarily the most senior canon at the time: John Hilderston,

much Thornburgh's senior, was still alive in 1438 and Richard Chase was senior to Conygrave in 1532. In both cases the senior canon was elderly and may not have been fit to conduct the election. Nor was the canon in charge of the election necessarily given the care and management of the hospital until a new prior was appointed. The power to TNA, E179/47/52. Boteler is not in the ordination lists, but as a senior canon he could have been ordained between 1375 and 1382 when the lists are missing. Ifhe was a canon he was a very handy one: the accounts recorded a special payment to him of 4s 8d for mending a washing basin, a candlestick and a pewter pot, TNA, SC6/1257/3. 100 GL, MS905111 f.181v;Chichele, vol.3, p.202; GL, MS091713 f.497v; TNA, E314/54. The original appropriation agreement in 1340 required the church to be served by a canon ofE1syngspital, TNA, LR 14/111. 'Nicholas' was described by Hennessy as the curate in 1393: he could have been a canon, Nicholas Waltham, but, as there was a dispute about the church at the time (see Chapter 4), he could equally well have been a secular priest. John Baker in 1501 and John Valyant in 1523 are described as 'vicars' by Hennessy (no source mentioned) but are not otherwise known, Reperlorium,p.298. In the light of the 1536 position they might well have been secular priests too. 101 GL, MS2512111224. 102 GL, MS25513 ff.18v-19v; GL, MS09531111 ff.57-61. 103 GL , MS0953116 ff.l11 v-113v. 98



make that decision rested with the dean and chapter of

st. Paul's

and on the one

occasion when there is a record of an appointment, in 1412, it was not Alysaundre the president but Hilderston, then a slightly more junior canon, who was appointed.l'" It is not known whether the sub prior or president had any role when there was a prior in post, though a sub prior is referred to in the Barnwell ordinances as deputising for the prior in his absence and having a special care for spiritual matters.loSBut canons certainly did act for the prior on occasion: William Thurgar has already been seen acting for Draycote as tax collector and Ralph Myrnpe was exercising powers in relation to rents alongside the prior William Sayer in the latter's last year in office.l06

In 1408-9 there was a master of novices, for he was paid 3s 4d for one term. 107He would be a senior canon and his job was to prepare the novice for the religious life.I08 Records of only three canons have been found as novices: John Haunsard, already mentioned, in 1408-9, and Matthew Dyll and John Alston in 1532.109 Novices are also mentioned in 1455 in the will of William Matthew, a chaplain at the hospital, where each is left 4d so there was evidently more than one then. I 10 Thomas Burgoyn left 8d to each of three young canons in 1505: maybe it was novices he had in mind. III There seem to have been younger boys also at the hospital at any rate in the early fifteenth century. The hospital paid 12d for three terms for schooling for a boy called John Scarburgh (who does not appear in the ordination lists so never became a canon) and bought two pairs of shoes for him, bought wicks for the school and gave the schoolmaster two cocks. 112It does not sound as though the master was a canon: perhaps the school was elsewhere in London or the master came in to teach. Scarburgh may have been a novice or a singing boy for the choir, but there is no other evidence of boys in the priory. BL, CCvlO; GL, MS25513 ff.18v-19v. Observances. p.53. 106 TNA, E 179/47/52; TNA, SC6/195/2S. 107 TNA, SC6/1257/3. The payment is a little puzzling as no other payments to canons for offices are recorded. Perhaps it was for some expense the master had incurred. 108 Knowles, vol.2 p.232. He says that at Canterbury and Westminster the master held office for only a ?;ear at a time. 09 TNA, SC6/1257/3; GL, MS0953 1/1I ff.57-61. Alston and Dyll are described as novices; Haunsard is not given any description but since he was ordained acolyte sub deacon and priest in 1411 it is a fair inference that he was a novice in 1408-9. Alston and Dyll acknowledged the royal supremacy in 1534 by which time it seems likely that they were canons, TNA, E25/47. 110 GL, MS0917115f.173. Matthew left 2s to the prior, 6d to each canon, 4d to each novice and secular ~riest and 2d to each of the poor brothers and sisters. II TNA, PROB 11114ff.276v-277. 112 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. 104 lOS


After a year the novice would be professed, taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The vows of obedience to the prior of six Elsyngspital canons have been preserved and are reproduced at Figures 9 and 10. The six small slips of paper are all written in similar terms, two from brothers Nicholas and Edward promising obedience to prior William and the other four, from brothers Roger, Thomas, Edward and Edward Croke ( who was the only one to sign his name), to prior Gilbert.


Gilbert would

be Gilbert Sharpe, 1462 to1492 at the latest; prior William was probably William Sayer, 1454 to1462 or possibly William Bowland, the prior following Gilbert Sharpe. Why these oaths should have been preserved, possibly with the hospital's papers taken by the Court of Augmentations when the hospital was dissolved, is a puzzle.

A clue may be provided by a seventh document, a letter dated 1465 from the prior of Shulbrede, an Augustinian priory in Sussex, reporting that one of the Elyngspital canons, Thomas Wynier, had made his vow of obedience to him. 114 Canons did not normally change houses, but one of the reasons it might be allowed was if discipline required it and maybe Thomas had been sent to Shulbrede because of trouble at Elsyngspital


Shortly after this, in November 1467, two canons, Nicholas Aly and

Thomas Kentysch, left the hospital and failed to return. The following February, in 1468 the prior asked the bishop to approach the king to ask for a warrant for their arrest and return to the hospital, the usual procedure for apostates.

I 16

'Nicholas' and 'Thomas' are

two of the canons whose vows of obedience we have and maybe they were preserved because of the trouble at this time.

The religious life was demanding in its requirements for poverty, chastity and obedience and for some the discipline or the sheer tedium of the strictly regulated days became too much and they simply ran away.


Aly and Kentysch were by no means alone: over 500

apostates are known from the writs for arrest, 112 of them Augustinians, and in 1431

113 TNA, E135/21/8. The two vows to prior William appear to be in the same hand, suggesting they may not have been written by the canons themselves. 114 TNA, 135/2118. Neither Wynier nor the other six are in the ordination lists, since they would all have been ordained between 1449 and 1489 when the register is missing. 115 Salter, p. xxxi cites the transfer of rebellious canons to other houses as a way of dealing with apostasy. 116 Runaway Religious, p.255; TNA, C81/1789/34. 117 Runaway Religious is a comprehensive account of the subject with details of all known who sought to leave their houses. See also Christopher Harper-Bill, 'Monastic Apostasy in Late Medieval England', JEH, 32 (1989) pp.l-18.


the Augustinian chapter made the use of a writ compulsory.I''' Whether Aly and Kentysch were arrested and returned to the hospital we do not know, but their disillusionment with the religious life persisted. In 1471-72 a priest called Thomas Kentysch was admitted to the parish clerks' guild, and he is not described as a canon.


Both Aly and Kentysch subsequently secured a dispensation from the religious life from the pope.


This seems to have been very unusual: Logan records no cases at all of

religious who both apostasized and received dispensations. The only other Elsyngspital canon known to have secured permission to return to secular life before the upheavals of the Reformation was William Nichol (ordained priest in 1384) who in 1390 secured an appointment as papal chaplaln.F' Such an appointment exempted its holder from the regular life and from obedience to his superiors.


The only other known apostate canon was Robert Selbome, ordained priest in 1442. Only the following year he was before the King's Bench, apostate, accused with others unknown of rebelling with force, attacking others and killing one Robert Michell. This may have been an affray involving lawyers, for those who were to be investigated as also being involved were all gentlemen, Michell was 'magister' and the fight, with spears, swords, axes and bows and arrows took place in the parish of St Clement Danes outside the bar of the New Temple. Selborne was said to have struck Michell across the chest and he died the next day. 123 Whether Selbome ever returned to the hospital depended on the outcome. If convicted he would have had benefit of clergy and an inquest held in the ecclesiastical courts and he could have ended up in prison for some time if the guilt was confirmed.


Religious, p.l 02-103; Salter, p.xxxi.

119TheBede Roll of the Fraternity ofSt Nicholas, eds N.W. and V.A. James (London Record Society,

2004), vol.l, 131. 120 CPL. vol.l3 pp.288 and 589. They are here referred to as 'Aleyn' and 'Rentysch', but they must be the same men. A dispensation enabled the holder, ifhe could secure a secular benefice, to live as a secular like any other priest. Until the benefice was secured he had to continue to live in his house and was subject to all the normal rules. But, since securing the dispensation could cost £2 or more, probably those applying for them had some expectation that a benefice would be available. Dispensations began to be available in the 1390s and 225 Augustinian canons availed themselves of them, Runaway Religious pp.54-55. These ways out were strongly disapproved of by the Augustinian Chapter, which in 1401 imposes a levy on its houses to resist canons who were obtaining privileges, Salter, p. xxx. 121 CPL. vol.4, p.275. 122 No fewer than eighty three Augustinian canons took advantage of this in the years it was available, from the late 1380s to 1415, Runaway Religious. p.51 123 TNA, KB 9/1050 m.69. I am grateful to Dr. Jessica Freeman for this reference.


It is probably not a coincidence that so many of these wayward priests turn up in the middle of the fifteenth century: that was also the time when, as had already been noted, two of the canons, John Fuller (known between 1426 and 1438) and John Wood (known only in 1461), got the hospital into debt. It was a troubled time in the nation generally and for Elsyngspital in particular under its mountain of debt and at loggerheads with its neighbouring church.

There are few payments to canons in the accounts though Knowles says by the mid fourteenth century clothes money had become normal.


William Elsyng had provided

for each of his secular priests to have a complete outfit every year worth 30s and 20s for linen, footwear and other necessities which seculars might need.


But there is no

allowance for clothing in the 1408-9 Elsyngspital accounts, nor any purchase of cloth from which new outfits might have been made, though such a purchase was made for the chaplains.


Possibly the canons did not get new outfits every year: the canons at

the hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate only got cloth or clothing every two or three years so this may have been the norm for regulars.127 The Barnwell ordinances required the canons to be issued with fresh sets of clothes twice a year, at Easter and Michaelmas, but these were probably simply changes with the season.


Payments were made for particular services: to the master of novices already mentioned and a payment to Richard Boteler, ifhe was indeed a canon, for mending a basin, candlestick and pewter pot. 129 But most frequent of course were payments for the performance of spiritual services. Over the period 1350 to 1536 over fifty wills have been found which specifically provided for payments to the canons.130 Most provided for a one-off payment for celebrating on the day of burial. For example in 1372 William Hynelond clerk provided 2s 6d for each canon and 40d for pittances for them on the day of his burial; in 1393 Martin Elys, minor canon of St Paul's, provided 12d for each canon to say twelve masses for him and in 1442 John Norton esquire gave 3s 4d for Knowles, vol.2, pp.240-1. Appendix 3, AS. 126 It is of course possible that payments were recorded in another set of accounts, which have not survived, but the TNA, SC6/1257/3 accounts for pretty well all the hospital's known sources of income, see Chapter 4. 127 St Mary Spital, p.79. 128 Observances, p.lxxiv-v. 129 TNA, SC1257/3. Knowles says that the custom of paying monks for particular duties grew considerably in the fifteenth century, p.242. 130 See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched. 124 12'


each canon celebrating for thirty days from his burial. 131More productive for the canons were the bequests which gave them regular payments for anniversaries or chantries but these required substantial endowments and were few and far between and some were served by chantry priests rather than by the canons. The 1408-9 accounts show what this could add up to: the canons got 4d each from Richard Arnold's anniversary, another 4d each from John of Northampton's

and 6d each from Katherine de la Pole's, as well as a

pittance for all of them in the refectory, and there was a payment of20s for the prior and canons from John de Wodecoke's will.132

Individual canons did of course receive bequests on a personal basis, but only eight have been identified over the whole period. John Hilderston received 13s 4d from a parishioner ofSt.Mary Aldermanbury in 1407.133 John Haunsard received 40s from his brother William in 1420 and John Goldesburgh ten marks from his kinsman Peter in 1422.134John Fuller and John Thornbrugh were left 4d each in 1438 by William Machon, mercer, who also left his son in Fuller's custody and Ralph Mympe received 13d 4d in his old age in 1472 from Beatrice Frost, a local woman and a mercer's daughter.r" Robert Byggyn was left 40s in 1536 by Julian Fenrothes, a goldsmith's widow.136In 1454 Henry Littleton, mercer, left 40s to William, canon of Elsyngspital 'cum viam suam arripuerit versus Romam', envisaging that an Elsyngspital canon might make the pilgrimage to Rome.137 And in 1460 William Haxay, mercer, left 6s 8d to the sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem for the soul of John, once recluse of Elsyngspital. 138 This may well have been John Dye, described as canon and recluse, who gave two books to the library at Elsyngspital in memory of his parents, Thomas and Alice Dye. 139Theselatter bequests hint at a spiritual life among the canons of Elsyngspital that is not otherwise apparent.

LMA, HR 100/141; LMA, HR122129; QL, MS0917114 f.100-l00v. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 133 QL, MS0905111 f.181v. 134 QL, MS0917113 f.65v; QL, MS0917113 f.97. 135 QL, MS0917113 f.497; OL, MS0917116 f.103v. 136 TNA, PROB 11125. 137 QL, MS0917115 ff 91v-92. 138 QL, MS0917115 f.305. 139 See Chapter 4 for details. Knowles discusses monks at Westminster who were recluses but says that in other monasteries where there were recluses it was not clear that they were also monks, vol.2, pp.219226. The life of one Westminster recluse, John London, is described by Barbara Harvey, 'London, John (d. 1428),' ODNB article 53635 accessed 6 August 2007. 131 132


The canons' daily round would, of course, have consisted primarily in participation in services. The routine at Barnwell Priory involved rising at midnight for matins and lauds, returning to bed and rising before dawn to sing prime, followed by morning mass, terce after attendance at chapter, high mass and then sext. After dinner and a rest, the canons sang none and before supper vespers and compline before bed. 140 Aside from services the senior canons would have had their own responsibilities to occupy them. The others when not at services may have read or written in the cloister: the 1536 inventory records thirteen desks in the cloister, which must have been more comfortable than it sounds as by then it was wainscoted and so presumably at least partly closed in. There were also four desks in the library.


The canons would no doubt have read the

religious texts with which the library was well supplied and must also have been copying books, for in 1408-9 the hospital bought a quire of paper and twelve membranes of parchment.

142 In

1536 there were twelve books of parchment in the choir

'written some lesse than some', presumably copied by the canons for use in services, though in 1408-9 the kitchener paid for the noting of a gradual, so musical notation may not then have been something within the canons' capacity.l'"

There is no reference to the canons playing any role in seeing to the needs of the sick in the hospital, nor any mention of an almoner, a position one might expect a canon to take. William Elsyng had seen the care of the sick as the role of the secular priests, requiring them to visit the sick twice a day and relieve their pain and meet their needs as best they could, but it may be that the canons restricted their role to a spiritual one. But there were certainly sisters in the priory from 1350 and it may be that, at any rate after William's time, it was they who had the primary responsibility for the care of the sick. 144

1400b servances, pp. IXXXII-XCVI. .. .

TNA, EII7I12128. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 143 TNA, E117/12/28. See Chapter 4 for the hospital's books. 144 The first reference is in 1351 in the will of Walter de Mourdon, stockfishmonger, LMA, HR 79171. The absence of references to the sisters in William's time may be partly a function of the sources. Nearly all the bequests are of property to William himself. There are hardly any of the type of small bequest that became so common later, which tends to include the references to the poor and sisters. 141



The sisters, the poor and the sick

The hospital had been originally founded with two functions: as a college of priests, to offer divine service day and night, and as a hospital, to care for the infirm poor. These objectives stood despite the hospital's conversion to a priory: the bishop of London's agreement to the change specified that the founder's wishes should stand except for the governance changes needed for the conversion to a priory.14S William Elsyng's will in 1349 recorded that he was building a house and church 'ad hospitalitatem pauperum

cecorum indigentium et miserabilium personarum utriusque sexus' and made clear his deep concern that this aspect of his foundation should survive, and increase as funds allowed. 146In 1330 he had specified that there were to be one hundred people in the hospital, thirty two of whom were already there and in 1331 sixty beds were said to be already in existence. 147From the start this was a hospital for those with disabilities rather than the sick, for blind people, especially blind and paralysed priests, and the respectable fallen on hard times through age or misfortune. 148William's object was the provision of accommodation for homeless people in these categories and for that home to be assured to them for life. From the start it had many of the characteristics of later almshouses, except in terms of size, and in his will William Elsyng used the term 'elemosinaria'

on one occasion as an alternative to 'hospital' .149

The infirmary which was being built when William died appears to have had the capacity to take the numbers he had envisaged. As indicated earlier it would have stretched from the church west to Philip Lane, see Figure 6. On an early sixteenth century map the church appears to occupy rather less than 40% of the street frontage, which is over sixty metres long, leaving about forty metres for the infirmary. ISO And the likelihood is that the infirmary was a two storey building: examination of the standing remains of the bottom of the hospital church tower revealed indications of two spiral staircases in the tower and two arches on the ground floor opening to the west, leading to the conclusion that there was probably a two storey infirmary hall to the west of the

BL, CCv 10 Appendix I. 147 Appendix 3, AIO; TNA, SC8/16/1768. 148 See Chapter 2. 149 Appendix 1. lSoLondon, p,410. Honeybourne's sketch map, plate v in her thesis, appeared to give a longer frontage, about sixty four metres which would allow slightly more for the infirmary. 145



tower, consisting of two aisles corresponding to the nave and north aisle of the church.


Two storey infirmaries are known from a number of medieval hospitals:

Newarke for example. I52The new infirmary at St Mary Bishopsgate built between 1280 and 1320 is thought to have been two stories and to have provided space for about sixty inmates. Its internal measurements were 22.3 metres by 11 metres.


There would have

been room at Elsyngspital for a building of at least this size. A two storey infirmary would have provided the separation between men and women that would have been required and have been a sensible use of space on a restricted site.IS4

The proximity of the infirmary to the church meant that the inmates were close to spiritual healing and a common layout for a hospital was to have a chapel connected directly to the infirmary hall to the east so that the sick poor could be within sound and sight of the services and their recovery hastened.


An infirmary of this type however

would not have lent itself well to William Elsyng' s specification of separate rooms for the inmates unless it was divided into cubicles as was sometimes the case.IS6 In any event the particular structure at Elsyngspital meant that the inmates could not actually see the elevation of the host during mass, perhaps not regarded as important if originally many were blind. Instead the sacring bell would have been the signal for the mass.ls7Food, shelter and a bed were the main other comforts available in a hospital. As for medical care, remedies could have been made from herbs or wild plants or from common spices such as ginger, cumin and black pepper bought in quantity for the Elsyngspital kitchen, though these would be more likely to be used in cooking or for the canons.


There is no evidence of medical attendance and that would not be common in

hospitals.F" Elsyngspital did employ barber surgeons, but they were most likely to be there to bleed the canons, though their services may have been available to the poor: Philip Barbour was employed on a regular basis in 1408-9 and in 1448 the hospital

Milne, pp.l08-115 . p.21. 53 • S1 Mary Spital, pp.47-48 . •54 A surviving example from the fifteenth century is the hospital of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist at Sherborne, Dorset where men had the lower storey, women the upper, Gilchrist, p.2S. •" Gilchrist, pp.17 -21. •'6 Appendix 3, AIO; Orme and Webster, pp.90.91. 157 Milne, p.ll S. 158 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. At St Mary without Bishopsgate small pipkins were found which it was thought might have been used by the sisters to make herbal remedies, SI Mary Spital, p.ll S• •59 For the very limited availability of medical care see SI Mary Spital, pp.l 06-7. UI

•'2 Gilchrist,


owed lOs to a Geoffrey Barbitonsor.


John Toothdrawer, a tenant living close to the

hospital in 1403-4, might have been available if required.


Robert Leche, gentleman,

however, who lived at the hospital in the 1450s and 60s, served as the hospital's steward, though it is of course also possible that he was a leech. 162

For how long the hospital was operating in the manner William intended is difficult to say. After his death there were three radical changes in the situation: the loss of his guiding hand which had created the hospital, its conversion from a secular house to a priory, with perhaps more emphasis on liturgical matters, and the radical change in the situation of the poor in London brought about by the Black Death. The disease would have killed many of those for whom William had planned to provide and the prospects for the poor who survived would have much improved as the shortage of labour made itself felt. The scenes of poverty and distress in London which had influenced him in the 1320's no longer appear in the records and the pressing need in London for a new large hospital may well have disappeared.


The reaction of some houses after the Black

Death, especially where income had fallen, was to concentrate resources more on the clergy and less on the poor.l64 Elsyngspital had not, as far as is known, suffered a loss of income, but the combination of the conversion to a priory and a possible fall in numbers could have been expected to result in less being done for the poor. But the poor are always the hardest people to trace, because they leave so little record, and the evidence from Elsyngspital on which to make a judgement is sparse.

The best evidence comes from wills. From 1350 until the Dissolution, of the around 170 wills identified in which bequests were left to Elsyngspital, about sixty per cent contain bequests for the poor inmates. In the Archdeaconry and Logge wills, where all the wills leaving bequests to Elsyngspital are known, a similar picture emerges: thirteen of the eighteen Archdeaconry wills leaving money to the hospital contained bequests to the

160 TNA, SC6/12S7/3; BL. CCxiiilO. Regular bloodletting was normal in religious houses, regarded as a sensible precaution for the healthy as well as being prescribed for many illnesses: at Barnwell the rule was seven times a year and it was about the same at Westminster. It is of course possible that the barber gave other treatment as well (barbers dealt with wounds and fractures). Westminster paid a barber a small wage, probably for bleeding the canons, Observances. pp.lxi-Ixxii, Harvey, pp. 96-99. 161 TNA, SC6/1304/8. 162 See Chapter 4 and below. 163 See London. pp. 276-68 for the changed situation after the Black Death. 164 Orme and Webster, pp.129-30.


poor and four of the six Logge wills.


So there clearly continued to be poor people at

the hospital in sufficient numbers to attract bequests alongside the other London hospitals. Usually donors gave to a number of hospitals. Exactly which might vary, but a common kind of formulation, where Elsyngspital was included, would be that in the will of William Walmer in 1361, leaving 6s 8d to 'pauperibus languentibus et infirmis iacentis' in each of the hospitals ofSt Thomas Southwark, St Mary without Bishopsgate, St Bartholomew's and Elsyngspital.P"

But in about one quarter of the

bequests to the poor in Elsyngspital, it is the only hospital mentioned and the picture is the same in the Archdeaconry wills, with three of the thirteen wills leaving money to the poor there giving only to the poor in Elsyngspital.

There is no mention anywhere after William' s death (and indeed less in his later years) of the blind, or of priests as inmates, or indeed any other specific disability or qualification. Had it continued as a hospital primarily for the blind, however, it is difficult to imagine that there would not have been any mention of it at all and the assumption must be that it was no longer seen as an institution for blind people. Alongside, or in place of, the general references to the poor, references to sisters begin to be made. The term 'sisters' could mean either poor women themselves or those on the staff of the hospital looking after them. Its use alongside mention of the poor, for example the bequest of John Goldman, goldsmith in 1405 of 12d to each sister and 4d to each sick and infirm person, suggests that a distinction was being made and probably these were the more able bodied of the poor women, who were looking after the infirm, a common pattern in hospitals.


Their status in Elsyngspital, however, seems to have

been less formal than in some other hospitals, for they are not mentioned in the 1379 tax returns, although St Mary without Bishopsgate had six sisters recorded and St Bartholomew'S three.


A few late fourteenth century wills record their bequests to

Elsyngspital as being for 'pauperibus oratrices', poor bedeswomen, a term also used for

16' See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched; The Logge Register of pcc wills, 1479-1486, eds Lesley Boatwright, Moira Habberjam and Peter Hammond, 2 vols (Richard III Society, 2008). 166 LMA, HR89/122. See Chapters 4 and 6 for other analyses of wills. 167 GL, MS090S1/1,ff.148v-lS2. I am indebted to Robert Wood for this reference. For sisters in hospitals generally see Orme and Webster, p.80; Sheila Sweetinburgh, 'Joining the sisters: Female inmates of the Late Medieval Hospitals in East Kent, Archaeologia Cantiana 23 (2003), pp. 17-40 and Carole Rawcliffe, 'Hospital Nurses and their work' in Richard Britnell, ed., Daily Life in the Middle Ages (Stroud, 1998), f&.43-64. Church in London, pp.2-3.


the hospital ofSt Katherine by the Tower, with which Elsyngspital was bracketed. 169St Katherine's was by then no longer taking the sick poor in general but it seems unlikely in the light of other later references to the poor in Elsyngspital that that was the case there at that early stage. By the sixteenth century however references to the poor in general cease and only the sisters are mentioned.

The hospital had housed poor men as well for most of its life: for example Isabel Harengeye in 1386 left 6d to each of the sisters and to each of 'duorum pauperum hominum ibidem manent', Thomas Elsyng in 1431 left 20d for every poor man and woman in the hospital praying for his soul and in 1455 William Matthew, chaplain, who was buried at the hospital left 2d each to the poor brothers and sisters. 170William Flete's bequest in 1456 was specifically for twelve poor men, but after John Wade's bequest in 1467 of 4d for each poor man and woman in the hospital no explicit references to poor men have been found. 171So it does appear that by the sixteenth century at the latest the hospital had ceased to take in the poor in general, or men, and had become essentially an almshouse for women.

At the time the hospital was dissolved there were twelve sisters living in the hospital and this seems to have been the case for some time before.l72 Thomas Burgoyn in 1504 referred specifically to 'the twelve sisters' in his bequest to them, as did Joan Bradbury in 1530.173 How early the numbers of poor people living in the hospital fell to these low numbers it is difficult to estimate. However in the early days, when the sisters might be assumed to be still looking after the general poor, some relation might be made between the number of sisters and the number of poor they could look after. Thomas Kendall, rector ofSt Augustine's by St. Paul's gate, referred to five sisters in his will in 1390.174 At St Mary in the Newarke, that number of sisters was expected to care for fifty poor people and on that basis it has been estimated that the six or seven sisters in St. Mary without Bishopsgate might have been looking after sixty or seventy in the fourteenth century, consistent with the known number ofbeds.17SSo it could be that there were as

For St. Katherine's, see Jamison. For example that of William Burford, LMA, HR122/20 in 1393. LMA, HR114/12S; GL, MS0917113 f.274; GL, MS09171/S f.173. 171 LMA, HR184/12; TNA, PROBIlI5 ff.170-170v. 172 TNA, SC6IHENVII1I234S. 173 TNA, PROBIlI14 ff.276v-277;TNA, PROB 11123ff.129v-33. 174 GL, MS0917111 f.203. m Sf Mary Spital, p.106. 169



many as fifty poor people in Elsyngspital in 1390. But other information suggests that, at any rate by the early fifteenth century, numbers may have been a good deal less than that. The payments for anniversaries in the 1408-9 accounts indicate that only twelve poor people were paid, although the wills had applied no such limit. 176 Katherine de la Pole asked for 'omnes pauperes tam viri quam mulieres in eodem hospitali inhabitantes et recepti' to attend her anniversary, though the payment was to go to those too ill to go as well as those who attended, and John of Northampton made similar provision in relation to the 12d each he bequeathed.


If Katherine and John's wills were observed

to the letter (and of course they may not have been), the accounts would suggest that in 1408-9 there were twelve poor men and women in the hospital. The other expenditure specifically for the poor in these accounts is the alms of the prior. Eight poor people received 2d each 'in cena dominica', the Lord's supper, that is on Maundy Thursday and twenty-three poor people received 1d each on the same day.


How much of this

was for the poor in the hospital and whether the two distributions went to the same people is not clear: if they did not, and all the money went to the poor in the hospital, there could have been as many as thirty one.

The other possible evidence comes from the expenditure on food. Although William Elsyng put the emphasis on the provision of shelter, on the grounds that the poor often could get food as alms, the bishop of London in confirming the charter did refer to 'hospitandum et alimentandum'.


Assuming that the inmates were not left to beg, and

in the absence of any known regular cash payments until the Flete bequest in 1456, they must have been fed from the hospital's kitchen. No food is identified in the kitchener's account of 1408-9 as being specifically for the poor.lRO They were likely to have had basic food like potage, bread and ale and food left over from the rest of the household, where meals would have been deliberately planned on a large enough scale to allow for this. At Westminster 40% of the food could have been left over on the average day and

TNA, SC6/1257/3. LMA, HRI16/28; LMA, HRI26/117. 178 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. At the Augustinian priory of Bamwell in Cambridgeshire, the five poor men who lived in the almonry were regarded as belonging to the prelate (the prior) and general distributions to the poor on Maundy Thursday, All Souls Day and St Giles day were also organised by him, Observances, f.' 179. 79 Appendix 3, A2 and A 10. 180 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. There could of course be a missing almoner's account but the kitchener's account absorbs most of the hospital's known income, see Chapter 4. 176



be available for the servants and the poor.


At Barnwell the almoner had all the

remnants from the frater, the prior's chamber, the infirmary and the guest house, and the five poor men residents got bread, beans and one dish each day. 182 At St Leonard's Hospital York the poor received bread, ale and a cooked dish each day. 183

The accounts tell us how much wheat was used for bread in the hospital and that can be used at least to throw some light on how many poor there may have been at that time. Five bushels of wheat were used each week which would have been enough to produce about 150 2lb loaves a week, around 21 a day. 184 As no other grain was bought (other than the barley which went to the capons) this must have provided for the sisters and the poor in the hospital as well as the canons and servants. A 2 lb loaf a day was the usual daily allowance in a well off household, though at St Giles, Norwich the poor and lower servants may have had a half or even a quarter of a loaf, which would be adequate if they had other dishes as well:85 From the twenty one loaves had to be fed seven canons, maybe four chaplains, perhaps a clerk or two, two novices and maybe seven or eight servants, taking up pretty well all the loaves if they each had a whole loaf. The left overs from these might stretch to the dozen poor who were noted as attending anniversaries or a few more: it seems unlikely that there would be enough to feed as many as fifty. The contents of the kitchen, recorded in the 1448 inventory, suggest a large household: there was a brass pot holding eight gallons, a bowl holding seven and others only slightly less large, between twenty and thirty each of plates, dishes and saucers, but this kind of provision would be needed for a household of thirty or so and need not imply anything on a bigger scale. 186

In addition to the food and shelter provided by the hospital, the poor and the sisters had the benefit of the occasional cash gifts, which as we have seen came from the citizens of 181 At Westminster 6,210 calories were said to be available to every monk. He actually consumed only 3,730, but this would still more than ample by today's standards, Harvey, p.70. 18l Observances. p.179. 183 Cremetts and Corrodies: p.16. For other examples see Orme and Webster, pp.122-23. 184 Using the estimate of 476 Ibs of bread per quarter of wheat, 59.5 per bushel used in Rawcliffe, p 183. She bases this on calculations made in B.M.S. Campbell, I.A.Galloway, D.Keene and M.Murphy, A Medieval Capital and its Grain Supply (London, 1993) pp.191-92. Dyer says that one quarter of wheat produced 250 21b loaves, which would produce a slightly higher figure, 156 21b loaves a week or about 22 a day, p.57. Harvey has much lower figures, p.59. This may reflect a finer flour, since bran and middling flour were also being produced. This factor of course introduces a major uncertainty into the Elsyngspital calculations. The figure of21 is likely to be a maximum for a fairly coarse loaf. 185 Dyer, p.64; Rawcliffe, p.183 186 BL, CCxiiil O.


London throughout its life. The amounts left to them varied a good deal but were usually quite small: 2d each for example from Peter Mason, tailor, in 1412, 6s 8d to be divided between them from the wealthy widow Joan Gedney in 1462 or very exceptionally a much larger bequest like the £5 between them over a period of three years in 1466 from William Estfeld, mercer, alderman and parishioner ofSt Mary Aldermanbury.l'" The great majority were one-off cash sums at death. So the annual payments from chantries and obits must have been the more welcome: in 1408-9 for example payments to the poor from the obits of John de Northampton, Katherine de Pole and Richard Arnold amounted to £2 in all. 188 How long such obligations were maintained is another matter, though Katherine de la Pole's bequest dated back to 1387.189 No other obligations in the priory's time are known before then, but there is no sign in the accounts of the annual suit of clothes for thirty poor people William Gayton had provided for in 1332, though the hospital still had his property.


Clothing was

provided though on one occasion from the testator's funeral pall. Thomas Kendall, referred to above, left his, of russet cloth, to be made up into tunics for the five sisters: perhaps this was a regular source of fabric for clothing for the poor, or perhaps they had cast off clothing from the servants.l'" Other testators also made specific provision in kind: sheets and bedding became popular at the end of the fifteenth century, despite the fact that the hospital was supposed to provide bedding under the founding charter, for example John Locke left six pairs of sheets to the poor in Elsyngspital in 1463, and John Sutton twelve pairs in 1478.192And in 1516 the sisters were granted six quarters of coal each winter by Thomas Sterne, currier.193

But with William Flete' s bequest in 1456 of a regular weekly payment to twelve poor men of 8d a week 'ultra habitationem', on top of their lodging, the poor in the hospital acquired a substantial payment, some of which was to last.


The sum of £22 13s 4d

GL, MS09051/1 f.274; QL, MS09171/5 f.327v; LMA, HR175/19. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 189 LMA, HRI16/29. 190 LMA, HR60/57. 191 GL, MS0917111f.203. As an example of the kind of expenditure on clothes that other houses incurred, the almshouse in Sherborne in Dorset spent 6s 8d a year each on clothing for their alms people in 143738, Dyer, p.245. 192Appendix 3, AIO; TNA, PROBl1l5 ff.7-9; TNA, PROB,1116 ff.282v-86v. 193Mayer,p.184. 194 CPR 1452-6, p.251; TNA, C143/45212; LMA, HR184/12. It is not clear whether these were twelve new poor men, or whether the bequest was to go to those already in the hospital. If Flete was providing for their entire maintenance apart from housing, this was a modest but adequate amount. Dyer, p.253, gives ld a day as providing 'a decent but sparse living'. Whittington's almshouse provided 14d a week 187 188

Footnotes continued on next page


per annum was being paid for the poor in 1461, a little more than the Flete bequest of £20 16s, so some small earlier bequests may have been still being paid in addition.19s The Flete bequest itself was still being paid at the Dissolution, though by then the amount had fallen to £13 16s per annum and was being paid to twelve sisters not to men.196 By that time the sisters had acquired a number of other regular payments, referred to in Chapter 4, 3s 4d a year from John Porter, vintner, 40s a year from Richard Plommer, gentleman of Essex and a sum from Sir Stephen Jenyns.197 In 1529-32 they are found acting together in a body in Chancery, trying to secure Plommer's payment from the Crutched Friars, suggesting that by then they were regarded as an entity in their own right. 198Theywere living together, apparently in the infirmary, when the hospital was dissolved and continued to do so even after the Dissolution. 199

We know of a number of the sisters by name. In 1387 Katherine de la Pole left lOs each to Joan de Kent and 'Hawise', sisters at the hospital.2ooJoan may have been related to Adam de Kent, a canon at the hospital. Adam was executor to Thomas Kendall, mentioned above as in 1390 leaving his pall to the five sisters, of whom he named Agnes Otelby, Cristina Onyet and 'Magot'. 201Matilda Penne, widow, who ran her own skinner's business in Wood Street for twelve years, left 6s 8d to each sister in 1394 but to one, Elene atte Vorde, she left an old paternoster of jet and a hood.202 And the following year Lawrence Kyng, tawyer, left 12d to Margerie in Elsyngspital.203 It is interesting that so many of the names of sisters known occur in this short period in the 1380s and 90S.204It suggests that at any rate in this period the sisters were well known in the locality.

for the alms people there, Jean Imray, The Charity of Richard Whittington, (London, 1968), p.34. Orme and Webster, p.123, record that £2-£3 a year was regarded by founders as an adequate sum from the mid fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries, in which case Flete's allowance was on the modest side. 195 BL, CCxi 68. 196 TNA, E314/54. The figure of £ I0 given in Valor, p.390 was what the Commissioners allowed, not what was actually being paid. 197 LMA, HR226/17; TNA, C1/654/44; TNA, C1I622/41. 198 TNA, C1I654/44. 199 See Chapter 6 for their history after the Dissolution. 200 GL, MS0917111 f.154-154v. 201 GL, MS0917111 f.203. 202 GL, MS09051/1 fSv-6. For Matilda Penne see Elspeth Veale, 'Matilda Penne, Skinner (d. 1392-3), in Medieval Widows, pp.47-54. 203 GL, MS0905111 f.25v. 204 This may be partly a factor of the relative ease of searching the wills in this period, see the Introduction.


The character of the group of sisters seems to have changed over time, perhaps as their role in relation to other poor inmates diminished. One sister, Agnes Chambers, was a widow from a well connected family, who was co-heiress to Avery Comborough, a wealthy member of parliament and royal servant who died childless in 1487. 20SAgnes was sixty when Avery died, so she was a very elderly lady by the time she received a bequest of 4d a week for life from her niece, Isabel Rawson, in 1496.206 Avery's wife was Beatrice Lynne, daughter of the vowess, Dame Anne Lynne, so maybe Agnes was following a similar calling.207 Another possible sister was Agnes, daughter of William Puttenam, a gentleman from Oxfordshire, one of five sisters. He left 100 marks to one daughter and £40 each to three others for marriage portions. For Agnes he left instead a regular payment of £5 for life. William Puttenam was buried at the hospital in 1492 and the prior was his executor but there is no record of any bequest: possibly Agnes was a sister at the hospital.i'" It is also possible that some of the women buried at the hospital were sisters: the Church sisters, for example, buried there in the late fifteenth century.209

So it seems that over the lifetime of the hospital the provision for the poor changed considerably. Starting as a large hospital for blind and other disabled men and women it shrank fairly rapidly in size and the special emphasis on the blind and priests seems to have disappeared even more quickly. It housed sisters to care for the sick poor and over the years the number of sick poor and of men fell and eventually they disappeared and the provision became essentially an almshouse for twelve poor elderly women, some of them possibly from well off families but still regarded as poor as a group. This was a journey which other hospitals took, some losing their charitable functions altogether and others operating on a diminished scale, caring for the aged in almhouses rather than taking a wider role in relation to the poor and the sick, though as we have seen Elsyngspital itself probably never had such a role.2lo By the Dissolution Elsyngspital was spending a minimum of 6.5% of its net annual income on supporting the sisters (that is the cash payment only, they may well have been also getting food and cast off

Wedgewood, p.223-24. One of Avery's feoffees was Roger Ree, said to have lived at Elsyngspital, see below, CIPM, vol.1, 237. 206 TNA, PROB 11111ff.88-90. I am grateful to Dr. Anne Sutton for this reference. 207 Mary Erler, 'Three Fifteenth Century Vowesses' in Medieval Widows, p.170. 208 TNA, PROB 1119ff.151-51 V. 209 GL, MS09171/8 f.190. 210 See Kreider, pp.64-66 and Seymour, Chapter 3. 20.5


clothing and of course shelter). This is below the 6.9-7.9% which has been calculated for all religious houses at that time but above the level for Augustinian houses, 4.6%, and urban houses, 5.5%, though well below the 18.4% for hospitals, confirming that by this time Elysngspital was more like a priory with an almshouse than a hospital.21lElsyngspital

had undoubtedly fallen short of its founder's original intention,

but it was still fulfilling a useful if modest social role.

Lay staff

There were other staff in the hospital to help with the secular and domestic work. By far the most important of these would have been the rent collector, receiver or steward, who seems to have taken care of much of the business side of the hospital.212 William Elsyng had simply envisaged a couple of household clerks assisting his warden with the management of the property and the accounts, but by the beginning of the fifteenth century the primary responsibility for the detailed administration of the property was falling on the rent collector rather than the prior.213 The names of five rent collectors are known: William Derby in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, Walter Hervey, Robert Leche and John Bromhall in the middle of the century and John Fleming in 1536.214 Derby clearly had responsibilities going well beyond rent collection. He had authority to excuse rents when tenants were too poor to pay, took others to the sheriff s court in pursuit of arrears, was responsible for all the repairs to the hospital's property and settled many other bills nothing to do with property.2lS So he appeared to be the hospital's principal man of business. The same may have been true of Bromhall, for his accounts in 1461-62 cover a good deal of the hospital's expenditure as well as its income.216 Leche was described as rent collector, caterer and steward, also a wide remit:

211 Neil S. Rushton, 'Monastic Charitable Provision in Tudor England: quantifying and qualifying poor relief in the early sixteenth century' Continuity and Change 16:1 (2001), pp. 9-44 deals with the charitable role still played by religious houses at the Dissolution. The percentages are taken from pp.l 6,1 8,20. The Elsyngspital percentage follows Rushton's model being calculated on income net of deductions, apart from the charitable payment itself. Rushton's figures contrast with the lower figure of 2lh% given from the raw data of the Valor by Savine, pp.230-39, though he made clear that this was a minimum figure. 212 In the London nunneries the terms 'steward' 'bailiff 'receiver' and 'rent collector' were not used precisely, but the role described covers much the same ground as the Elsyngspital rent collectors, Paxton, 76-SO. Appendix 3, A7. 214 INA, SC6/1304/8; INA, CP40/699 vo1.106; INA, Cl/67/S1 and 84; INA, SC6/19512S; Va/or.p.390. 215 INA, SC6/1304/8; INA, SC6/12S7/3. 216 INA, SC6/19S12S.



his term of office is not precisely known, but he was certainly steward during William Sayer's term of office between 1452 and 1462.217 There is no evidence either way about Hervey in 1435, but Fleming in 1536 was being paid less than Derby more than a hundred years before, so the system may have changed by then to make him a rent collector only.2lS

Derby was clearly a man of some substance, living in one of the better properties in the immediate vicinity of the hospital, in Philip Lane, paying a rent of20s a year. His wages were £4 a year, the kind of wage a master craftsman might receive, and he would of course have had food and livery in addition. 219He had been serving the hospital for some time, for in 1396 he was already so well established that along with the prior and one of the canons he acted as executor for Robert Leuton, a hermit of Tottenham, who was buried at the hospital.22o He even went to Westminster on occasion for 2d was recorded for the trip_221There is no mention of any other trade in connection with Derby and he may have been full time on the hospital's business, but Hervey and Bromhall were described as scrivener and grocer respectively, so they had their own trade as well as serving the hospital, perhaps for a short period only as Hervey certainly was employed on an annual contract. 222As has been shown, there is no evidence to show that Leche was a leech: he seems to have been a gentleman living at the hospital and was so described in 1467 in the will John Wade, one of the hospital's tenants and benefactors, whose executor he was. 223His association with the hospital was of long standing for he was one of those owed money in 1448 and in 1470 he along with the prior received the goods of Roger Ree when he went abroad. 224

All three of the mid fifteenth century stewards fell out with the prior. Hervey was said to have walked out in 1435 during his term of office, but he claimed that the prior,

TNA, C 1/67/81 and 84. He was paid 53s 4d for the year as against Derby's £4, although the estate was by then much larger, Valor, p.390, TNA, SC6/1257/3. 219 TNA, SC6/1304/8; TNA, SC6/1257/3. Dyer, p196 estimates a master craftsman's profits in the fifteenth century as between £3 and £5 a year. Paxton says that officials quite often rented property from the religious house they served, p.87. 220 GL, MS0917111 f.371. 221 TNA, SC6/l257/3. 222 TNA, CP40/699 vol.l 06; TNA, C244/95194. 223 TNA, PROBll/5 ff.l70-l70v. 224 BL, CCxiiilO; CCR 1468-76, p.145. 217 218


Henry Hoddesdon, had arbitrarily terminated his contract. 225Leche and Bromhall both were in dispute with prior Gilbert Sharpe after their periods in office: he sued Bromhall for arrears on his account for 1461-62 and tried to throw Leche out of his chamber in the hospital, probably some time between 1475 and 1480.226 These smack as much of quarrels as of wrongdoing, but the hospital would have been very dependant on the competence and honesty of the steward. Leche had been granted a corrody by prior John Thombrugh, sometime between 1448 and 1454, of an annuity of four marks, food and drink, a gown and a chamber for life in return for his service to the hospital (he is described as a servant so it is not clear if he was then already steward). This was done without the consent of the chapter, who protested that his past service had not been good. Leche promised that he would give good and faithful service in future and under the next prior, William Sayer, acted as rent collector. It was many years later that prior Gilbert Sharpe accused him of misappropriating the hospital's money and falsifying the accounts in his favour and then leaving the hospital, failing to carry out his duties as promised, justifying, in Sharpe's view, his action in taking back Leche' s room. 227With Bromhall he took much quicker action, confronting him with the auditors soon after he became prior in 1462, demanding he reconstitute the accounts even though he no longer had the books and eventually getting the auditors to arrest him in the open street. 228

The other lay servants were on a very different level. Elsyngspital had no lay brothers to see to the domestic work, for the practice was in decline by the time of its foundation so lay servants must have been employed from the beginning.229 In 1408-9, in addition to the steward, thirteen people, including two boys, are recorded as being paid as part of the household in the course of the ten months of the account. Only four of these were paid for the full three quarters that made up the account. 230 Servants paid for less than three terms might not have been paid up to date, but if that were the case it is odd that the better paid servants were paid in full. More likely, perhaps, is that this is staff turnover and the thirteen names may represent only, say, eight jobs or that some, like TNA, CP40/699 vol. I06. See Chapter 4. 227 TNA, C 1167/8 I and 84. The catalogue gives the date as 1475-80 or 1483-85. 228 TNA, C11271259. 229 See Knowles, vol. I, pp.286-87; Orme and Webster, p.82. 230 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. Wages were probably due at the end of each quarter so a ten month account would cover only three quarters. Some of the wages at Westminster Abbey were paid in quarterly instalments and Harvey suggests that this may have been the norm, p.170. In Elsyngspital payment is described as being either per quarter or per term and the two words seem to be used interchangeably. 22.5



the accounts clerk, were employed on tasks which only needed to be done at certain periods.i" In the only other set of accounts we have before the Dissolution, inI461-62, only three servants were mentioned, two of them serving the prior, but given the uneven nature of this account, there may have been others not separately shown.232 At the Dissolution five servants and a boy were paid gratuities when they lost their jobs.233 These lower later numbers do not necessarily mean that the hospital had become more frugal, for the way in which services were obtained may have changed. For example one of the servants paid for three quarters in 1408-9 was Philip Barbour: in 1536 the hospital had no need to employ a barber for Henry Roughfolte, one of the hospital's tenants, was let off half his rent for his services. And it seems likely that the hospital no longer baked its own bread as the Commissioners who came to dissolve the hospital had to buy their bread in. 234

After Derby, in 1408-9 the two best paid servants, paid at the rate of30s a year, were John Gaunt, identified as the baker, and John Hervy. His trade is not identified but he may well have been the cook, as responsible ajob as that of the baker. The only other person who served the full three quarters with Gaunt, Hervy and Barbour was Stanley Rayker who must have been the hospital's cleaner, on a rate of only 2s 8d a year.23S Barbour and Rayker were both getting very low wages (Barbour was only getting 6s 8d a year) so perhaps they worked for others as well or they must have had full bed, board and livery (see below) so that they could get by with very little cash. Among those paid for only two terms was Benedict Launder, paid at the rate of lOs a year. Presumably he was responsible for washing the linen, the tablecloths and towels in the butlery, the sheets and the canons' linen_236Richard Weston was also paid for two terms at an annual rate of lOs and Edward Boteler for one at an annual rate of 20s. These two must have held the other jobs referred to separately in the accounts: the 'panetarius', pander 231 This would not be far out from the findings ofR.H.Snape that in the larger monasteries from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries the numbers of servants were about equal to, or a little higher than, the number of monks, Snape, p.18. 232 TNA, SC6/195/25. 233 TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2424. 234 TNA, SC6IHENVUII2424. In 1448 the hospital owed money to a Geoffrey Barbitonsor, one of its tenants, so perhaps by then it had already ceased to employ a barber as a member of the household, BL, CCxiiilO. 235 Rakers were employed by the authorities in London to clean the streets and cart the rubbish away, see London. pp.261-62. 236 At Barnwell the linen, including surplices, drawers and sheets was washed every two weeks in summer and every three in winter, Observances. pp. 195-99. At Elsyngspital the prior sent his linen out, see above.


or pantry steward, presumably responsible for the bread, and the 'pincernus',

butler, who would have looked after the cheese, drink and candles under the cellarer.237 There was a kitchen boy paid for two terms, but another boy was paid for one, so they may have held the job in succession. Their annual rate was 18s and 20s respectively which suggests that the adults at the much lower rates did have other sources of income. Two household clerks were paid 5s each for one term.238

The whole package for these servants would have been worth considerably more than their cash wages, since they would probably have had food and drink and perhaps livery and lodging as well. At St. Giles, Norwich, the baker, steward and cook were getting wages of20s plus a robe and food and drink at the end of the fourteenth century. 239At Bury St Edmunds, in 1434-35, the economy rate the Abbey instituted for food for each servant was between £2 3s and £4 68 a year, so it must originally have been even higher.24o At Westminster Abbey food was estimated to be worth between £3 and £6 a year, depending on status, and livery at between eight and ten shillings a year.241 On the other hand, cash wages at Westminster were low, no doubt to allow for the high standard of payment in kind: the normal range was between 6s and £1 6s 8d a year, lower than the highest paid in Elsyngspital. 242Livery at Elsyngspital was provided from sixteen yards of blue cloth, seven of ray (a striped cloth) and four of russet motley for the kitchen boy, bought at a cost of 40s 6d, plus a few shilling for shearing their cloth and that of the chaplains.i" It seems unlikely that the other servants would need less than the kitchen boy, so it looks as though only four servants got livery.244 So either livery was not provided every year for every servant or some must not have qualified for it. The wages paid to the servants in 1461-62 were low, between 6s lOd and 12s lOd a year, so probably there were substantial benefits in kind; for example one of the

The cellarer, who received the wine and ale from the kitchener, was Richard Boteler, who, since he is not listed among the household, has been assumed to be a canon see above. The two Botelers, Richard and Edward, must surely have been related. It could of course be that the accounts have confused names and they were one and the same man. but the way 'pincernus' occurs in the accounts suggests that he is a different man from Richard Boteler. 238 There is a reference in 1403-4 to the prior's remembrancer, presumably a clerk employed to write up his accounts and correspondence, who may have been one of these. TNA, SC6/1304/8. 239 Rawcliffe, p.187. 240 Dyer, p.98. 241 Harvey, p175. 242 H arvey, p. p.169. 243 Shearing was a process designed to finish woollen cloth and raise the nap. 244 Dyer quotes servants liveries at three and a half yards to five yards each. that being enough to make several garments. p.78. 237


prior's servants had his 5s a year rent remitted. Livery that year cost 45s l ld but no quantities are given.245

The servants identified in 1408-9 covered most of the jobs one would have expected to see done. Being located in London, and having at that time no country estate, meant that Elsyngspital did not need to employ the craftsmen and agricultural workers who might have been needed in more remote locations and, being fairly small, it must often have been cheaper to hire help when needed rather than take on new regular members of the household. For example, the hospital paid separately to have its rubbish removed, three cartloads for 9d, for fresh rushes for the floors, three loads for 12d, and 18d for Henry Gongfermer for cleaning, presumably in the latrines.246 All the craftsmen working on the hospital's property were paid by the day whereas Westminster Abbey employed its own masons and plumbers.r" And Elsyngspital had no brewer, for it bought in all its ale. These kind of differences make comparisons between houses difficult, but a model very like Elsyngspital's seems to have applied at St. Giles' hospital, Norwich, where only the cook, the butler and the baker received a fixed stipend and livery, all the others being on very small sums plus some food and drink.248 St John's Hospital, Cambridge, in 1485 had a cook and boy, a steward and a barber as its regular servants, admittedly for a smaller community than Elsyngspital. 249


Help was also needed with the spiritual work of the hospital. William Elsyng had provided initially for two 'clerici' to help with the singing and reading in services, to be paid not more than 40s a year. 250But the canons would have required additional support as the number of chantries built up. In the 1379 tax return only three chaplains were recorded and one clerk, despite the foundation of two more chantries.251 In 1408-9 the hospital bought 21 yards of blue mixed cloth at Is l ld a yard for liveries for the

TNA. SC6/195/25. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 247 Harvey, p.159. 248 Rawcliffe, p.187. 249 Rubin, p.175. 2soAppendix 3, All. 245 246


Church in London, p.2. The chantries were for John Brian in 1361 and Henry Frowyk in 1378,

LMA,HR 89/69 and HR, I 06/142.


chaplains.252 The quantity suggests the numbers at that time may have risen to four or five, as this looks quite generous for three.253 Payments were recorded then to two chaplains only, 40s for a chaplain celebrating in the hospital for three terms and 20s for one in St Mary Aldermanbury church for one quarter. Chantry priests may of course have been paid directly from the funds given to support them but there is no indication of this in the accounts. In 1536 the hospital was supporting three chaplains, one to take the cure ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, at £8 a year, one for the chantry of Henry Frowyk at £7 a year and one at Thele at £6 13s 4d.254 Only two priests however received cash payments to send them on their way when the hospital was dissotved.i"

The names of only a few chaplains are known. The three who paid tax in 1379 were Richard Provende, Geoffrey Heyward and Geoffrey Rowesham, and a clerk, William Haselee. He paid only 4d compared to the chaplains' 2s and was presumably a singing clerk brought in to help with services.


Three chaplains at the hospital are specifically

identified as such in wills: Peter Ouste who died in 1491 and was buried in the cloister at the entry to the church near the statue of the Virgin, John Cokker, priest, who in 1514 left his mass book and vestments to the altar at which he used to sing, and Richard Oliver, witness to the will of Elizabeth Hall, whose executor was the prior, in 1521.257 But to these can probably be added William Matthew chaplain who was buried at the hospital, in the cloister near the aqueduct.


There were also a few bequests to clerks at the hospital. William Hynelond, described as 'clericus' in his will in 1371, included 4d for each clerk in his bequests to those living in the hospital, and around the same time Robert Berewyk, also 'clericus', left 2s to be divided among the clerks. Peter Ouste, the chaplain referred to above, left 6d to 'William the clerk' in 1491.259 All use the term 'clericus' and none leaves a bequest to chaplains or priests, only to canons, so it is not absolutely clear whether these are references to chaplains, singing clerks or clerks employed on secular duties. TNA, SC6/1257/3. The Goldsmiths' company in 1370-71 provided four and a half yards for a chaplain, though their cloth was of a rather better quality at 3s Sd a yard, Jefferson, p.140. 254 TNA, E314/54. 2SS TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2424. 256 Church in London. p. 2. 257 GL, MS091711Sf.25; Consistory Court, pp.6-7; GL, MS0917119ff.191.191v. 2S8 GL, MS09171/5f.173. 2'9 LMA, HRI00/141; GL, MS09171/S f.25. 252



Others living at the hospital

Many hospitals had better off people living in them, either placed there by a patron, in return for a cash lump sum or property, or elderly servants needing to be provided for in their old age. Such corrodians received an agreed package of board and lodging for life, in effect insurance for hard times, infirmity or old age. The practice was frowned upon by the ecclesiastical authorities, partly because it brought the secular world right into the hospital and also because some houses used it as a way of raising ready cash sometimes to their long-term detriment: a property-based corrody would not have been so big a risk_260

The only evidence of such an arrangement in Elsyngspital is the steward Robert Leche.261 There were other arrangements under which the hospital got property or cash and made a lifetime payment in return, an arrangement which carried some of the risks of a corrody, but there is no evidence that the payment was other than in cash nor that any of the recipients were actually living at the hospital, although they may have done. John Edmund, who supported Thomas Elsyng in his minority, in 1370 received 10 marks a year for life, probably in return for giving up any rights he had to the hospital's property. Richard Galeys and his wife in the same year received £4 for life in return for making over a property remaindered to the hospital during the wife's lifetime, and Walter Herberde in 1429 gave £40 in return for 20d a week for life.262 The benefactor John Wade may be another example, as he was getting a pension and a free tenancy from the hospital in 1461_62.263At the Dissolution the hospital was paying £4 a year for life to Joan Wallis, widow of Richard Wallis, salter, on the basis of an agreement made in 1527, probably in return for cash as the money was secured on the hospital's longstanding property in St. Lawrence Jewry.264

260 Harvey has a comprehensive discussion of corrodies and corrodians, pp. 179-209. See also Cremetts and Corrodies, pp.18-28. 261 See above. 262 LMA, HR99/137; LMA, HR98/138,139 and 140; CCR 1429-35, p.24. See Chapter 4. 263 TNA, SC6/195/25. See Chapter 4. 264 TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2345.


There were also a number of secular people living within the hospital precinct from the latter fifteenth century onwards.265The first known tenement was let there in 1461-62 to a Thomas Cooke and there were three houses let in 1536.266 One of these had been occupied by Thomas Roberts, who left bequests to the prior and canons and sisters when he died in early in that year: he owned the manor of Little Braxted in Essex, but he and his wife had had a lease of the Elsyngspital house since 1525-26.267 The other two houses that were let were occupied by Agnes Vaughan, widow, and Thomas Geoffrey.

The hospital also seems, by 1536, to have been letting the room over the

church porch, probably next to the infirmary. John Colyns, linen draper, was allowed to enter the church by the north door and use the stairs to the steeple to access the chamber on condition he built a door under the steeple for privacy. This seems unlikely to have been a purely commercial arrangement so close to the heart of the priory and the lease suggests that too, referring to Colyns right to 'goo sytt and solace' himself there at all times for his 'ease comodytye proffyt and pleasure'.268 There was one other person described as living at the hospital, Roger Ree, esquire, member of parliament for Middlesex from 1461 to 1470, and 1472 to 1475, and usher of the chamber to Edward IV.269At a court case in 1507, long after Ree' s death, a witness said that about fifty years before Ree had been living at Elsyngspital.F" Ree's connection with Elsyngspital is confirmed by the fact that in 1470 he gifted all his goods and chattels to the prior of the hospital and to Robert Leche and a number of others, presumably to safeguard his goods when he went into exile with Edward IV. 271He was also a feoffee of Avery Combrugh, whose heiress Agnes was a sister at Elsyngspital.272

But there were four others at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries who described themselves as parishioners of Elsyngspital or left bequests to the high altar for tithes forgotten suggesting that they were parishioners. They probably also lived either in the hospital itself or in the precinct, for Elsyngspital had evidently 26' It was common practice for religious houses to rent out houses they could spare in the precinct. Nicholas Glover, benefactor to Elsyngspital was living in the close ofSt Thomas Southwark in 1408 and another benefactor Thomas Luyt was described a gentleman of St. Bartholomew's hospital, LMA,HR 136/6 and TNA, PROBll/8 ff.53v-54v. 266 TNA, SC6/195/25; TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. 267 TNA, PROB 11125;TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345. 268 TNA, E303/10/37I. . 269 Wedgewood, p.71 I. 270 I am indebted to Dr.Jessica Freeman for her reference and transcription of this case, TNA, C1I300/37. 271 CCR 1468-76, p.145; Wedgewood, p.711. 272 CIPM, vol.l, 237, see above.


emerged from the struggles with the rector of St Alphage with its status as a parish in its own right intact ,and that would have included anyone living within the precinct.273 Ralph Bate, gentleman of London, who died in 1470 left money to the high altar and was buried in the church. He still had a wife living and property in Bedfordshire so he was probably living in one of the houses in the close.274 The other three were widows. Agnes Church in 1498 left 6s 8d to the high altar and asked to be buried in the hospital's church with her sister Emma_275MarjorieCrofton died at about the same time and was buried at Charterhouse. She was the widow of William Crofton gentleman who many years earlier had stood by the prior in the dispute with St. Alphage.i" Joan Braibroke, wealthy widow of John Braibroke, haberdasher, who left property to the hospital, was buried with him in the lady chapel at Elsyngspital in 1531.277 The presence of these widows, some quite wealthy, in or close to the hospital would not be unusual: some widows took a vow of chastity but others simply lived within the precincts of a religious house, presumably finding comfort and fulfillment there.278 These lay men and women living within the hospital form a bridge to the outside world beyond the precinct walls, a world which in London must have pressed very close. It is with the hospital's impact on that world and its effect on the hospital that the final chapter is concerned.

273 It is possible that it included also tenants within the parish of St Alphage but the documents are contradictory on this point. For the dispute with St Alphage see Chapter 6. 274 TNA, PROB 1115 tT.238v-239. 275 OL, MS09171/8 f.190. 2760L , MS0917118 f.l72v. 2770L , MS09171/10 f.165 and see Chapter 4. 278 See Medieval Widows, p.xxvi-xxvii and Mary Erler, 'Three fifteenth Century Vowesses', pp.16S-183.


Chapter 6 Elsyngspital and the outside world So far the focus has been very much on the hospital itself and how it fared over the years. This chapter looks at the interactions between the hospital and those around it. Elsyngspital would have been a significant physical presence in the area of north west London where it was situated and it would have been very far from isolated. Augustinian canons did not live an enclosed life and the black canons would have been a familiar sight when their business took them outside the precinct. Some of them had families in London and several were curates of the parish church of St. Mary Aldermanbury and so would be well known to parishioners.


Carts must frequently have

trundled in and out of the hospital's gates bearing stores and building materials, for the hospital site was used to store them, and carrying away rubbish.


Religious institutions interacted in a variety of ways with the secular world.' For Elsyngspital these interactions have been grouped into two areas: those which followed from its position as a large wealthy household which would probably be similar to those of a secular household, and those which came from its special role as provider of religious and charitable services. In both cases there was the potential for conflict of one kind or another leading to a cross cutting theme, confrontation in the courts. These areas are considered in turn before the chapter turns to the final interaction, the hospital's suppression in 1536.

Elsyngspital as employer, consumer, landlord and property owner

Virtually all Elsyngspital's

expenditure must have been in London for, with the range of

goods and services available, there would have been no need to go anywhere else." The hospital spent around £150 in ten months in 1408-9 on wages, goods and services: the only reference to going out of London to purchase goods was the trip to Woolwich to

I See Chapter 5. z TNA, SC6/12S7/3.

Houses, pp. 5-24. Once some country property was acquired in the mid fifteenth century, of course ,there would probably have been some local expenditure there, but it seems unlikely to have been significant. It is not known how the country properties were administered. 3Religious



inspect the tiles being used for rebuilding and repairs. S In addition to the fourteen people paid as part of the household, the hospital also gave employment to a good deal of other labour.6 There were those employed to carry out domestic tasks: Mary Locriter who did the prior's washing, for example, and those who carried out repairs, like mending the kitchen boy's shoes, repairing a cope, a curtain and a banker, and the cooper who mended a barrel, an expensive operation costing 6s 8d. But more significant was the labour involved in the hospital's extensive programme of repair and renovation of its properties: for example a carpenter was employed for 172 days, a dauber and his servant for sixty six and a half days, two sawyers to work the long saw together for seven and a half days. All the Elsyngspital craftsmen were paid at the same high rate, 8d a day. 7 This was the going rate in London over quite a long period: the London Bridge accounts show 7d or 8d a day at dates as far apart as 1420-21, 1460-61 and 1501-2.8 And there were other craftsmen, the plumber, the pavior and the tiler who were paid by the job, 8s to tile the new roof in Watlyng Street for example. House repairs and rebuilding required the purchase of all kinds of building materials: several kinds of boards, large quantities of tiles and nails, laths, lime, sand and clay for walls. For the household the hospital bought cloth, forty seven yards in 1408-9, and furs and silk for the prior, candles for lighting, bowls, paper, parchment and other goods. Because the hospital did not have country estates to provide it with supplies, virtually all food and fuel would have had to be purchased in London: faggots for the kitchen fire, wheat for bread, barley and peas for pottage, four grades of ale, red and white wine, salt and fresh fish, meat, poultry, spices and much more. So Elsyngspital would have been dealing with a wide range of craftsmen, artisans and merchants to supply it with the goods and services it needed. The money spent of course would nearly all have come from London in the first place, since the hospital's property was concentrated there, entirely until the acquisition of Thele and 85% even at the Dissolution," This meant it was more important as a landlord

, TNA, SC6/125713.Woolwich was a major centre of the industry, Salzman, p.230. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 7 Salzman gives the usual rate for the country as a whole as 6d a day throughout the fifteenth century, suggesting a London premium of2d a day, Salzman, p.77. BLondon Bridge, pp. 65-66, 141-42, 159-60. 9 See Chapter 4. 6


there than its total wealth would suggest. 10 In 1403-4 the hospital had property in thirteen parishes with 113 tenants, by 1448 there were only seventy tenants and about this number still in 1536 despite the increase in property owned. They were by then more widely spread across the city and they had on average larger more expensive properties. The range of rents however remained very wide, from 4s per annum to over £13 in 1403-4 and from 2s per annum (though most of the low rents were lOs or more) again to over £ 13 in 1536. The spread looks very similar to that reported by Catherine Paxton for the nunneries of St. Helens and Clerkenwell of 6s per annum to over £ 10.11 Most of the tenants throughout were concentrated in Cripplegate ward round the hospital where the small properties lay: in 1403-4 two thirds of them were clustered in the roads around the hospital, many of those very cheap lettings at only 5s a year. When the small houses round the hospital disappeared, the number of tenants there naturally fell and by 1448 only half the tenants lived in that area, falling to 45% in 1536. The number of women tenants fell sharply at the same time. In 1403-4 one third of the tenants living round the hospital were women, presumably widows, while in the whole of the rest of the estate, much of it in Cheap ward to the south of the hospital where many of the large properties lay, there were only three women. By 1448 only 16% of the houses round the hospital had women tenants and it was about the same in 1536. 12 Perhaps the cheaper property was now to be found further out in the suburbs and the Elsyngspital tenants were becoming predominantly the better off.

Some of the hospital's tenants were prominent citizens. In 1403-4, for example, one of the very large properties in St Lawrence Lane was let at £ lOa year to Thomas Aleyn, alderman of Cripple gate ward 1415-22, master of the Mercers' Company in 1416 and 1422 and sheriff in 1414-15 and later to remember the hospital in a modest way in his will.13 In 1448 the St Lawrence Lane area was still the most expensive, and one of the houses was occupied by another wealthy mercer, Richard Rich, sheriff in 1441-42.14 Geoffrey Boleyn, mercer and mayor in 1457-58, was the tenant of a large house in Bow

10 It still, however, had less in absolute terms than most of the larger houses. St Mary without Bishopsgate for example with 53% of its property in London had a London rental of £278 per annum against Elsyngspital's £ 191, Religious Houses, p.ll. II Paxton, p.233. 12 TNA, SC6/1304/8; BL, CCxiiilO; TNA, SC61HenVIII12345. 13 TNA, SC6/1304/8; Beaven, p.5; London, p.338; OL, MS09171/3 f.508v. 14 BL, CCxiii I0; Barron, London, p.341.


Lane: the hospital owed him money in 1448 and he left a bequest to the poor there.



1536 the Bow Lane properties were still occupied by mercers, one of them Sir William Locke, alderman and sheriff and king's mercer, from a reformist family and known to have imported religious tracts. 16 That these were all mercers was no coincidence. These properties had come to the hospital from William Elsyng and his brother Richard, both mercers and were in the heart of mercer territory. 17 To have such connections must have been helpful to the hospital as long as it maintained good relations with its tenants, though apart possibly from Boleyn none is known to have been especially attached to the hospital. Rents were collected on a quarterly basis and the process seems to have been accompanied by a fair amount of hospitality. In 1403-4 for example 8s was spent on wine and ale for the tenants. But not all tenants could pay their rents and predictably it was the poorer ones who were in trouble. The structure of the 1403-4 accounts does not allow specific arrears to be identified for that year, but £2 3s 5d was written off from arrears owed from various times over the previous five years. Of the nine tenants involved, all but one were from the small houses round the hospital and for seven of the nine the accounts specifically record that the write-off was because there were no goods from which the money might be recovered. Most of these were no longer tenants. So this may not have been the act of a benevolent landlord: perhaps they had died and there was simply no estate from which recovery could be made. Vacancies were frequent in these smaller houses, partly perhaps because tenants could no longer afford the rent. 18 But there were rents which clearly had been specifically excused, usually on the prior's authority. There were seven such cases in 1403-4 amounting to £5 13s 10d and three in 1408-9, amounting to £4 5s. Generally only part of the rent for the year was involved and these tenants were not the poorest: the annual rents due ranged from 12s to £8. Reasons for the allowance are not always given but some of them look like tenants who had got into financial difficulties: in the case of Robert Maselyn, girdler of Gayspore

15 BL, CCxiii I0; London, pp.342-43; rNA, PROB IllS ff.SSv-SS. See also numerous references in Sutton, Mercery, 16 Sutton, Mercery, p.390. 17 Appendix I. The main mercer wards were Cripplegate, Cheap, Cordwainer and Bassishaw, Sutton, Mercery, p.191. 18 TNA, SC6/1304/S. Of the thirty three instances of loss of rent because ofa vacancy, all but six occurred in the small houses round the hospital.


Lane, the prior had been prepared to allow more off the rent when Ralph Aase another girdler tenant of the hospital and his neighbour John Cosham mercer had been prepared to stand surety for him. Thomas Crutche, smith, was in Ludgate prison and all his rent for the three terms he was there was remitted.19So it does look as though for some tenants the prior was prepared to be helpful during temporary difficulties. The absence of the very poor, however, suggests this help was for those who found themselves temporarily embarrassed not for those who must always have had a struggle to pay the rent.

Those who simply did not pay were on occasion taken to court. Nine tenants or ex tenants were sued in the sheriffs court in 1403-4. These presumably needed to be sufficiently well off for the hospital to have some hope of getting its money, since the process of suing cost between 8d and 2s 2d per case. Nevertheless one or two of those sued came from the lowest rented properties and seven of the nine lived in the area round the hospital. John Weaver, for example, a tenant in Philip Lane paying 13s 4d a year, was sued for 20s rent and arrested, the only one to be so. Most of the suits were for sums smaller than this, but there were two substantial cases, Oliver Byllyng, wax chandler of the Ropery, where he paid 40s a year rent, was sued for 20 marks, and John Fitzherberd, goldsmith, who paid £4 a year for a tenement in St. Lawrence Lane, was sued for £5 and sequestration of his goods.i" So this was a fairly hard nosed administration,

acting much as one would expect a secular landlord to do.

There were of course bad tenants, then as now, and in 1387 Elsyngspital had a particularly bad one. The prior brought a complaint before the mayor and aldermen against John Bradlee, the tenant of one of the Bow Lane properties, because he and his servant had hacked out and taken away many of the fittings of the property, for example a whole pavement of Flanders tiles, a screen twenty four feet long, large pieces of panelling, and locks and bolts, and left the place filthy and full of dung. The tenant was in prison so it was the servant who was fined ten marks, quite a modest sum for damage and trespass the prior claimed would cost him £100. But it was more than she could pay, for the prior agreed to let her off if she cleaned up and put the tiles back. 2 t TNA, SC6/1304/S; TNA, SC6/12S7/3. TNA, SC6/1304/S. John Fitzherberd had only entered the livery of the Goldsmiths' Company in 13991400 so perhaps was still trying to establish himself, Jefferson, p.260. 21 CMPR 1381-1412, pp.129-30. 19



Ownership of property brought with it conflict in other ways. Houses in London were tightly packed together, often sharing walls and gutters, and this inevitably led to squabbles between neighbours. Five cases involving Elsyngspital, usually as defendant, appear in the records of the London Assize of Nuisance. In 1353 for example William de Causton, mercer, complained that there was no paling between his house and one owned by Elsyngspital, with the result that the prior's tenants came into his garden and trampled his grass: the prior was told to repair the paling. In 1356 a complaint was made that the earth wall on the east side of the hospital's church was standing on common land and the prior given forty days to move it. 22 Nor were these just the teething troubles of the new priory, for complaints still appear in the sixteenth century. In 1510 Thomas Crisp mercer complained that Elsyngspital had put a chimney for one of its houses in St. Lawrence Jewry on his land and the hospital was told to move it. 23

Overall, however, Elsyngspital does not seem to appear in these disputes more often than one might expect given its considerable property and there is no suggestion in all this that it had particularly bad relationships with its neighbours in this respect. The hospital of S1. Mary without Bishopsgate, for example, had six cases at the Assize of Nuisance over a comparable period. However the possession of property, and the litigation that gave rise to, brought religious houses very firmly into the secular world.


The perception of Elsyngspital and other houses may well have been formed as much by these disputes as by their charitable and liturgical work.

Elsyngspital as provider of religious and charitable services

The interactions so far described were all necessary for the survival of the hospital, but incidental to its purpose: to honour God and the Virgin Mary through the celebration of services and to provide shelter for the poor infirm. In both of these it could provide a service for the public. Many of those who could were prepared to pay, from very small sums to very large ones, for prayers to be offered up for themselves and their loved ones in life and in the hope of shortening the time in purgatory after death. Elsyngspital had a

22Assize, pp.107 and 110. 23London Viewers and their Certificates J 505-58, ed. J.Loengard (London Record Society, 1989), 10. 24 See Religious Houses, p.l3.


well equipped church, priest canons to sing services and a number of relics to enhance the value of prayers, including a head of one of the 11,000 virgins and a portion of the true cross." Special value was placed on the prayers of the poor, so hospitals like Elsyngspital provided a double service, offering both prayers of a particularly auspicious kind and providing a social service by looking after those no longer able to care for themselves and who might otherwise have been on the streets." What is known of the hospital's services to the poor has already been described: here the focus is on its religious services to the people of London. 27 Elsyngspital was, of course, only one of a number of institutions providing these services to Londoners, and it has been shown how, in the decades after its foundation, it soon began to be used by testators alongside the other hospitals. Over the whole period 1350 to 1536 nearly 190 people have been identified who sought spiritual services from Elsyngspital, mostly, about 170, through cash or property bequests, but a few with gifts in kind and some with monuments in the church, but who are not otherwise known.


Around 20% were women. This is consistent with the results from the series of wills in which it has been possible to search all for a specific period: four women out of eighteen left bequests to Elsyngspital in wills from the Archdeaconry Court of London between 1393 and 1415, and one woman out of six who left money to the hospital in the Logge wills in the Prebendary Court of Canterbury, 1479-86.29 Of the men, where their trade was known, about three quarters were merchants or craftsmen. Ten out of the fourteen men leaving money to Elysngspital in the Archdeaconry wills were merchants or craftsmen and all the Logge male donors to the hospital were merchants. In the fourteenth century fishmongers were the largest group of donrs to the hospital among merchants and craftsmen, but later mercers came to the fore. Their degree of dominance is not as great as the thirty names for the whole period 2'BL, CCxiii IO. 26 See Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars (Yale, 1992 2ndedition, 2005), pp.310-76 for a discussion of the place of death and purgatory in medieval society. 27 See Chapter S. 28 Some gifts in kind are identified in the 1448 inventory, BL, CCxiiilO. Stow, vol.l, p.294 lists monuments in the church of St. Alphage, previously the church of Elsyngspital, and there is a similar but not quite identical list in the College of Arms, MsA 17,which is dated 1500 and may be derived from the same source. I am grateful to Christian Steer for his transcription of this. See the Introduction for an explanation of how the wills were searched. 29TheLogge Register ofPCC Wills, 1479.1486, eds Lesley Boatwright, Moira Habbeljam and Peter Hammond,2 vols (Richard III Society, 1479-1486).


might suggest, because a considerable number of names were kindly provided by Dr. Anne Sutton from her records of mercers. But, even if these are excluded, mercers are still the largest group, with thirteen over the whole period. The editor's analysis of the whole of the Logge register confirmed mercers as one of the largest groups, though nothing like as dominant as this, and with drapers and grocers equally prominent.



the Logge wills leaving bequests to Elsyngspital, however, two of the five men were mercers, though there were none in the Archdeaconry wills. The mercer dominance in Elsygspital may just have been the result of the sampling, but there are grounds which support a strong mercer presence. Elsyngspital was after all a mercer foundation. But it was as likely that their increasing dominance and prosperity enabled them to give very widely and Elsyngspital and most of its property was located in the mercer heartland, so they would have been familiar with the hospital." Goldsmiths were the next largest group among the Elsyngspital donors, also reflecting their wealth, then vintners, drapers, skinners, tailors and a wide variety of other trades, pepperers, grocers, tailors, an ironmonger, a glover, a bellfounder, a carpenter.

There were, predictably, some dignitaries amongst them. Richard Whittington, mercer and four times mayor of London, left bequests for his soul in his will in 1421 to a large range of religious houses, among them 20s to be distributed among the brothers and sisters of Elsyngspital to pray for him.32 Sir William Estfeld, another mercer and twice mayor, a parishioner of St Mary Aldermanbury where he had a chantry, left Elsyngspital and the local churches torches from his burial and cash sums for the canons and the poor to pray for him, among many other bequests, in 1446.33 Humphrey Hayford, goldsmith, alderman of Cripple gate from 1470-73 and mayor 1477-78, gave the poor women of Elsyngspital 20d each." John Lane, alderman of Cheap from 141014 and master of the mercers in 1413, gave the hospital a vestment of red damask."

Of those who were not merchants, eighteen were in holy orders, including three rectors and two minor canons ofSt. Paul's and in 1456 the dean himself, Thomas of Lisieux, 30

Logge Register, p.21.

Cripplegate, where the hospital and much of its property lay and Cheap, where most of the expensive property was, were the main mercer wards, Sutton, Mercery, p.191. For the wealth of the mercers see Sutton, Mercery, for example pp.189-93. 32 Chichele, vol.2, p.242. See also London, pp. 336-37 and 339. 33 LMA, HR175/19. For Estfeld see Sutton, Mercery, pp.S31-33. 34 GL, MS09171/6 f.291v-93; Beaven, vol.2, p.12. 3' Beaven, vol.2, p.4; BL, CCxiiiIO. 31


who left the hospital20s.36

Eight were members of the gentry, most occurring from the

mid fifteenth century onwards, and there was one aristocrat, Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, who in a long and pious will left 1s each to the aged sick in a number of London hospitals."

And there was a solitary hermit, Robert Leuton the hermit of Tottenham,

who left all his goods to the hospital.


In the Archdeaconry wills leaving bequests to

the hospital, the proportion in orders was higher, four out of fourteen men, but neither there, nor in the Elsyngspital Logge wills, were there any members of the gentry. Of the women, six are known to have followed their husbands in using Elsyngspital for their prayers. Most, where their husband's trade was stated, were the widows of merchants or craftsmen. Among them was Joan Bradbury, widow of Thomas Bradbury mercer and mayor, who left 12s for the sisters of Elsyngspital in 1530 and Joan Gedney widow of two mayors, who in 1462 left 6s 8d to be distributed among the poor.39

Very few of the benefactors described themselves as from outside London, William de Masham, for example, rector of Denham in Lincolnshire in 1355, and William Pyper of Wendlebury in Oxfordshire in 1432. 40Even among those who did, some were also London citizens, William Flete of Rickmansworth for example, and John Sutton of Cambridgeshire, both mercers and citizens."

Overwhelmingly Elsyngspital was

providing services and prayers for Londoners. Many people gave to a number, and often a very considerable number of institutions, hospitals, churches, friaries, priories, abbeys and nunneries, which offered a similar service, presumably to maximize the spiritual benefit they obtained. As explained earlier, only about one quarter of donors leaving money to the poor in Elsyngspital singled it out in any way.42 So for most of this group of the wealthy Londoners who left money, the hospital was a useful extra, but was not central to satisfying their spiritual needs.

For a much smaller number of people, however, Elsyngspital was of much greater importance. Twenty nine people requested burial in Elsyngspital, seventeen chantries or TNA, PROB 1114ff.3v-5v, and St Paul's of course were the hospital's patrons. Chichele, vol.2, p.357. 38 GL, MS0917111 f.371. 39 TNA, PROB 11123 ff.129v-33, and see Anne Sutton's account of Lady Bradbury, who left a large estate in Covent Garden to the Mercers' Company, in Medieval Widows. pp.209-38; GL,MS09171/S f.327v, and Mary Erler's account of Joan Gedney also in Medieval Widows. pp.164-83. 4OLMA,HR 83121; TNA, PROBl1l3 f.133. None of the benefactors in the Elsyngspital Logge wills was from outside London. 41 For Flete see Chapter 4. Sutton's will is TNA, PROBIII2B f.117. 42 See Chapter 5. 36



obits (sometimes for more than one person) were set up in the hospital, seventeen people gave property or rents and others gave precious objects or vestments. There were twelve monuments in the church, whose donors would also have been likely to have given gifts to the hospital." For five of those leaving bequests in wills, Elsyngspital was their parish church and so their main source of spiritual well being. These groups of course all overlap: eleven of those who set up chantries or obits were also buried at Elsyngspital, three of the monuments are for people known to have been buried there, and four of the five parishioners were buried at the hospital. Surprisingly only seven of those who left property are known to have requested burial there, and four of the others are known to have been buried elsewhere; and only nine of those giving property set up chantries or obits in the hospital. In total there were around sixty known individuals who showed their particular attachment to the hospital in one or other, and often several, of these ways."

Like the wider group, the main characteristic of these strong supporters was their variety but there are some differences between the two groups. Of the men whose trade is known, about 60%, only about half were merchants or craftsmen, as opposed to three quarters in the wider group, and there were proportionately rather more gentlemen and clerics and a few more women. This suggests that merchants may have been rather more focused on their parish church.4sBut local and personal links were also important. About one third, considerably more than for the generality of donors, had known links to the locality of the hospital and another sixth had personal links to the Elsyngs, or had the prior or one of the canons as executor."

There were personal links between individuals too. For example, Marjorie Crofton was a parishioner of Elsyngspital, though she was buried in 1499 at Charterhouse, probably with her husband. She left 12d to the prior to be present at her obsequies, 4d for every canon and 2d to those not professed. If they would take her body to Charterhouse, the 43 Stow, vol.l, p.294. Of those with monuments, only three have been positively identified, Henry Frowyk, John of Northampton and Robert Elderbek. Of the others Thomas and Helen Swineley may have been related to Thomas Swineley tailor, who died in 1477, a parishioner ofSt Alphage, OL, MS09171/6 f.213. Edmond Hungerford, Joan Ratcliffe, William Fowler and William Kingstone have not been identified. There were also three monuments to the Cheney family, for which see Chapter 4. 44 About three quarters of these are known through wills. See the Introduction for how the wills were . searched. 4S The numbers are of course very small so all this must come with a health warning, especially in view of the proportion whose background is not known. 46 See Chapter 4 for the situation of property donors.


prior was to have 8d more and the canons 2d.47 She was the widow of William Crofton, gentleman, who had supported the prior in his court case in the 1460s against the rector of St. Alphage. In 1460 Crofton was executor to Robert Elderbek, esquire, a parishioner of St Alphage who asked to be buried in the cemetery there or in the hospital church and had a monument there.48 Marjorie had further links to other Elsyngspital benefactors. Her executor was John Plommer, who ten years later, when he was chantry priest at St Mary at Hill, left 6s 8d to the hospital for his obit, though he was not buried there.49 Plommer and Marjorie were named executors to John Porter, vintner, who left Elsyngspital 3s 4d from a tenement he owned in Wood Street and Marjorie a 30s rent from it for life. so

Request for burial in the hospital increased markedly after the middle of the fifteenth century. There were four in the fourteenth century, three in the early fifteenth century, thirteen in the second half of the century and nine in the sixteenth century. Those buried in the fourteenth century had all left property to the hospital and set up chantries or obits, except for Robert Leuton the hermit who left the hospital all his goods and had both the prior and William Derby the steward for executors, suggesting he may have died at the hospital. Later this type of burial, where no really substantial bequest was known, became much more common. Of those buried from 1450 onwards eleven, half of the total, left only small bequests or only bequests for their funeral.

Some of these appear from their wills to have had considerable property. Robert Elderbek, for example, left no specific bequest to the hospital. He asked for 1,500 masses and instructed his executors to dispose of goods to pay for his funeral and £ 100 was set aside to deal with his bequests and debts. He owned considerable property in Hertfordshire, in Tottenham and in London, including a tenement in Wood Street and was a tenant of the hospital." William Puttenam esquire who died in 1492 also had property in Surrey and Hertfordshire but left nothing to the hospital despite the fact that GL, MS0917118 f.l72v. GL, MS09171/S f.306. He was, in the event, buried in the St. Alphage cemetery (his wife asked to be buried there next to him), GL, MS09171/S f.321. Elderbek is in Stow's list of monuments, but not in the College of Arms list, which is dated 1500, suggesting that his monument might have been moved from the old St. Alphage church when the parish took over the Elsyngspital church at the Dissolution, Stow,vol.l, p.294, College of Arms, MsAI7. 49 GL, MS09S31/9 f.196v. so LMA, HR226/17. $1 GL, MS09171/S f.306; TNA, SC6/915125 47



the prior was one of his executors.


Thomas Burgoyne, mercer, had property in Lincoln

Nottingham and Shoreditch as well as in London, but left only small bequests to the prior, canons and sisters. 53 It seems likely that all these men would have made provision for the hospital, either during their lives or in instructions to their executors, confirming the unreliability found elsewhere of wills alone for information about gifts. 54

The same may be true for some of the women, although they did not tend to have property. Elizabeth Penrith, for example, a widow and parishioner ofSt. Alphage, in 1517 left a wide range of bequests to family and to religious institutions. To Elsyngspital she left 6s 8d for the breaking of the ground for her burial, the same amount to the chapter to pray for her 'as a sister' and 4d to each priest.55 Elizabeth Hall in 1521 left gold rings and gowns to many of her relatives and to the prior her best bed with all its bedding, a cloth, towel and napkins and the rest of her goods.


But there are

others, usually widows, where there is no obvious indication of wealth. Alice Townsend, widow, and a parishioner ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, one of whose executors was canon Ralph Mympe, left 20d to the high altar there and 20d for the fabric of the church but nothing for Elsyngspital where she was buried. Her moveable goods were left to her son, except for the expense of the funeral.


Similarly Agnes Church in 1498

left 6s 8d to the high altar at Elsyngspital and was to be buried near her sister Emma in the hospital church. There were no other bequests except 40s to her executor to dispose of the rest of her goods for her soul." Both these women were obviously close to the hospital and it may well be that it did benefit when the executors made their distribution, but it seems likely that their attachment was a pious one rather than one of substantial cash support.


52 TNA, PROB 1119ff.151-51 v. See Chapter 5 for speculation that one of his daughters may have been a sister in the hospital. 53 TNA, PROBIlI14 ff.276v-77. 54 See Burgess, pp.837-58. "GL, MS09171/9 f.39v. '6 GL, MS09171/9 f.191v. 57 GL, MS0917115 f.385v. 58 GL, MS0917118 f.190. A Thomas Church who earlier had given the hospital an antiphoner may have been a relative, BL, CCxiiil0. 59 See Chapter 5 for speculation that some of these may have been sisters.


None of those buried at the hospital asked to be buried in the cemetery: perhaps that was reserved for the inhabitants of the hospital, the canons, sisters and sick poor.60 Fourteen of the twenty nine simply said Elsyngspital or the church. The rest were more specific. Three chose the cloister. Two of these were chaplains at the hospital, William Matthew who in 1455 wanted to be buried near the aqueduct, and Peter Ouste, buried in 1491 at the entry to the church from the cloister in front of the statue of Our Lady. The third was John Wade, a benefactor who left property, who in 1467 asked to be buried 'fast by my tombe'."

Inside the church there were five altars, in addition to the high altar, which offered suitable places for burials and the celebration of services and anniversaries.f

The altar

of the Holy Cross in the north aisle of the church was chosen by John Brian and Henry Frowyk, early benefactors, and in 1517 by Elizabeth Penrith; it was also the part of the church in which William Elsyng himself lay.63 There was a silver chalice for services at that altar in the 1448 inventory and in 1536 the rood chapel was well furnished with painted cloths and curtains, bowls for lights, candlesticks and a tablet of the crucifixion of Flanders work.64 John of Northampton, who had a monument in the church, was buried in 1398 before the altar of St John the Baptist where he asked for a tablet or cloth to be placed to record the names of those who were to be prayed for. 65The chapel was at the west end of the church and the tomb can still be seen in what remains of the hospital church, north of and outside the entrance to the chancel. 66 In 1448 there were silk curtains and furnishings for the altar; in 1536 the chapel had candlesticks, painted curtains for the chantries and a tablet of the beheading ofSt John.67 William Stokes, Excavations of the church and cemetery at St Mary Bishopsgate suggested that the wealthier individuals were generally buried in the church and that those in the cemetery may have been inmates, St Mary Spital, pp.112 and l1S-21. 61 OL, MS09171/5 f.173; OL, MS091711S f.25-25v; TNA, PROB IllS. Thomas in SI Mary Spital, p.IIS, suggests that burial in the cloister gave proximity to living canons, hence perhaps especially a choice for the chaplains. 62 Figure 6 shows possible locations of those altars and chapels. 63 LMA, HRS9/99; LMA, HRI06/42; OL, MS09171/9 f.39v. 64 BL, CCxiii10; TNA, E117/12/2S. Carved wooden altar pieces were being regularly imported into England in the fifteenth century, often commissioned by wealthy laymen. The Elsyngspital tablet, not a particularly valuable one, is one of the few identified as foreign in the inventory ofa religious house, Kim Woods, 'Netherlandish carved wooden altarpieces of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in Britain', (unpublished PhD thesis, University or London, 19S9), p.l04. 6S LMA, HRI26/127; Stow, voI.1,p.294; 66Milne, pp.lll and 116 has suggested that the tomb niche was that of the founder, quoting J.Olendinning Nash, History of St A/phage, London and Elsyng Priory, (London, 1919) p. 10. But John of Northampton seems a more likely occupant. 67 BL, CCxiiilO; TNA, El17/12128. 60


another major benefactor, was buried before the statue of St Nicholas.68 There is no reference to a chapel of this name in 1536 but in 1448 there was a silver chalice to serve the altar and two vestments for the priests. 69

William Flete, the hospital's largest benefactor after the founder, had his chantry at the altar of St Katherine.l'There is no other reference to this altar, although one would have expected a substantial tomb. Possibly it was a caged chantry and was the little chapel in the body of the church referred to in 1536, in which Thomas Burgoyne and Elizabeth Hall were buried in 1505 and 1521 respectively."

But perhaps the best furnished

chapel, as might be expected, was the Lady Chapel. It lay next to the chapel of St John the Baptist, so it must have been to the south of the entrance to the chancel and may have contained the south door opening on to the cloister where the statue of our Lady stood.72 In 1448 the altar of St Mary had two silver gilt chalices as well as silk curtains and furnishings and in 1536 the chapel had a tablet of alabaster of her birth, two great standing candlesticks, a statue of her and other fumishings.f John Brian had his chantry here and William Puttenam, who died in 1492, was buried here, as were John and Joan Braibroke, who had given the hospital property in 1511.74Finally there was one burial in the choir: Thomas Elsyng, grandson of the founder, who was buried there in 1431.75

Before these altars and in these chapels were held the services and celebrations the testators had asked for. By no means all who were buried at the hospital had left money or even instructions for their obsequies, presumably leaving it to their executors. Elizabeth Hall in 1521 was one of those who did: she asked for a trental to be said as soon as possible for herself after her death and another for her husbands and for there to be six torches and four tapers at her burial and for dirige and mass to be said.76 Some testators could afford to ask for services to continue long after their deaths for themselves and their loved ones, either by funding chantries, paying a priest or canon to say services every day in front of their chosen altar, or, rather more economically, for LMA, HR185/18. BL, CCxiii I O. 70 LMA, HR184/12. 71 TNA, E117/12/28; TNA, PROBIlI14 ff.276v-277; GL, MS09171/9 f.191. 72 The location is described in the act changing Elsyngspital church into the parish church of St. Alphage after the Dissolution, The Statutes of the Realm vol.3 (London, 1817), p.683. 73 BL, CCxiiil0; TNA, El17/12/28. 74 TNA, PROBIlI9 ff.l51-5Iv; TNA, PROBll117 ff.41v-42; LMA, HR 236/34, GL, MS09171110 f.16S. 75 GL, MS09171/3 ff.274-274v. 76 GL, MS0917119 f.191-91 v. A trental was thirty masses, probably in the case said on consecutive days. 68 69


the celebration of their anniversary. In all six perpetual chantries are known to have been set up, five term chantries and six anniversaries, four of them perpetual. The perpetual chantries and anniversaries had to be backed up by gifts of property, so the names are the familiar ones of property donors. Brian, Frowyk, Northampton, Flete, Stokes all set up chantries and Pole, Arnold, Wade, Porter and the Braibrokes had their anniversaries celebrated."

Only Thomas Elsyng, who asked for a perpetual chantry,

appeared to have given nothing: either there must be some unidentified gift made in life or, as the grandson of the founder and one who had certainly supported the hospital with gifts in kind, it was regarded as his right. There were, in addition, five chantries for a specific term, for example Robert de Elsyng, Thomas's father, gave £12 for three priests to celebrate for him for a year and the Herberdes, good friends of the hospital, each set up a chantry, he for one year and she, dying later and with a property to sell, for seven years. 78

Chantries were much less frequent at Elsyngspital in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: the only one established after 1457 was that of Brian Darly, doctor of divinity, who was buried in the hospital in 1528 and asked for a priest to sing for him for three years.79 Most of the later benefactors simply asked for their anniversaries to be celebrated, for example, Alice Lupsett, in giving her £100 to the hospital, asked for her husband, her son and herself to be remembered in all masses and prayers said and for their obits to be kept, with distributions to the poor and payments to the canons and sisters and the chief wardens of the goldsmiths if they were present.


This falling-off in

chantries was not unique to Elsyngspital: the combination of economic circumstances and anticlericalism reduced these expensive investments especially in towns."

Some of those who gave property did so in order to finance an obit or chantry elsewhere, using Elsyngspital to take care of their investment. For example, the executors of William Brown, who had a ten year chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury, made over to Elsyngspital property in Essex to extend the chantry, and it was presumably as a result of this that the hospital was paying 9s a year for Brown's obit to See Chapter 4 . LMA, HR 78/201; GL, MS091711S f.216; GL, MS0917l1S f.3S3v. 79 TNA, PROB11/22 f.l68. Darley was a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, had studied in Turin in 1503 and was rector of St. Botolph Bishopsgate for a period, Emden, Cambridge, p.177. 80 Goldsmiths' Company, Register of Deeds vo1.2, f.313-313v. 81 Kreider, pp.71-92; VCHL pp.205-207. 77 78


the Mercers' Company and £1 2s a year to St Mary le Bow for the obit of Thomas Hynde his executor at the Dissolution.82 Presumably using two institutions, one to hold the property and the other to take care of the obit, added to security, since each would have the incentive to check that the other was fulfilling its obligations, but the use of Elsyngspital in this way does suggest that it was well regarded. There are six cases in all where the hospital performed this function, three of them in relation to St Mary Aldermanbury, where it would be a natural partner. And the device worked: in 1536 the hospital was still paying St Thomas's Hospital16s 8d a year for the obit of Nicholas Glover who died in 1408.83 Elsyngspital would of course expect to get some reward for itself and sometimes that was explicitly recognised: Glover gave Elsyngspital 6s 8d a year for its trouble."

Sometimes the need for services and prayers was for a group rather than an individual. Fraternities, associations of men and women coming together for mutual support, either of local people associated with a parish or on a craft basis, needed a church to use as their base.8s Elsyngspital had several company halls very close, the brewers, the curriers, the bowyers and the pinners. Two of these, the pinners and the curriers, are known to have had associations with the hospital. The pinners' fraternity of St James maintained a light there: their accounts for 1462-64 show 8d a year paid to the sexton at Elsyngspital for the light and 2d paid for the scouring of the candlestick, payments continuing up to 1474.86 They were a poor company so Elsyngspital may not have benefited much from the association. In 1497 that poverty forced them into an amalgamation with the wiremongers to form the wiresellers, and to adopt St Clement instead of St. James. Although there is no evidence of the wiresellers using Elsyngspital, another company, the yeoman curriers, arranged for celebrations on St James' day and St Clements' day, paying 3s 4d per annum for a dirige on the eve ofSt James and requiem mass on the day for departed brethren and a mass on St Clements' day for the

82Sutton, Mercery, pp.524-25; Valor, p.390. 83 Valor, p.390. 84 LMA, HR136/6. 8$See Caroline Barron, 'The Parish Fraternities of Medieval London' in Caroline Barron and Christopher Harper-Bill, eds, The Church in Pre-Reformation Society (Woodbridge, 1985), pp.13-37 and London, pr,.206-211. .' . BL, Egerton Ms1142. I am indebted to Barbara Megson for allowing me to use her transcription of the Pinner's Book, for alerting me to the connection between the pinners and Elsyngspital and for information about them.


living." Elsyngspital's

connection with the curriers is confirmed by an agreement in

1516, to which the prior was party, between Thomas Sterne, currier, and the company, under which the hospital had the power of distraint if the company failed to carry out Sterne's wishes, and in the 1520s a currier named Crosland, a parishioner ofSt. Mary Aldermanbury, a brother."

left 20d to the fraternity of St Clements at Elsyngspital of which he was

It looks as though the fraternities ofSt. James and St. Clements continued at

Elsyngspital, but the association changed from pinners to curriers. In neither case however was the hospital the main location used by the company: the pinners had their main base at Whitefriars and the curriers used St Mary of the Carmelites in Fleet Street. 89

The only other fraternity mentioned in connection with Elsyngspital is in the will of the mercer John Sutton of Cambridgeshire, who in 1418 left 12d to each brother chaplain of the fraternity ofSt Bede at Elsyngspital, but no other mention of the existence of such a fraternity has been found.~or

is there much evidence for a confraternity, an

association of laymen and women supporting the hospital: other hospitals, St Mary Bethlehem and St Katherine for example, were actively canvassing these in the early sixteenth century." There is just one will, that of Elizabeth Penrith, buried at the hospital, where she asks the chapter to pray for her as a sister, which might suggest that such an organisation existed."

The final services provided by the hospital were to the religious, rather than to the citizens. Over the years the house came to be increasingly used by the bishops of London for ordination ceremonies for clergy both secular and regular.



were often held at places convenient to the bishop of London, on his estates like Stepney, Fulham and Great Haddow, or in St Paul's: other venues were most often used when the bishop was not personally officiating.

Hospitals were rarely used for

ceremonies in the fourteenth century. But in 1418 both Elsyngspital and St Mary without Bishopsgate were used for the first time. In that year Bishop Clifford, who had 87TNA, E303/1O/365. 88Mayer, p.184; Consistory Court, p.58. 89 Mayer, p.21. 90 TNA, PROBIII2B f.117v. 91 Barron, 'Parish Fraternities', pp.17-18. 92 GL, MS0917119 f.39v. 93 This account is based on Davis, pp.8-20, and on an analysis of the ordination lists contained in the CD Rom accompanying it.


been taking ceremonies regularly at his estates and St Paul's, took no ceremonies and suffragans or other bishops took all six ceremonies. Perhaps the need suddenly to find new venues prompted consideration of the hospitals. At Elsyngspital there were seven ceremonies between 1418 and 1448, 5% of the total number of ceremonies, and twentyfive between 1489 and 1529, 10% of the total. The numbers involved at anyone ceremony could be very large, testifying to the size of the hospitals' churches and their capacity for organization: Elsyngspital's largest was for 107 ordinations in 1502.

The hospital also became increasingly used in the provision of titles for secular clergy. A man seeking ordination into the major orders had to demonstrate his title, to show that he had 'financial support sufficient to maintain the dignity of his orders.,94 He might have property of his own, or already have a benefice or be able to rely on a patron, religious or lay, but by the late fourteenth century the great majority of titles were provided by religious houses. 95 That did not mean that the man was a member of the house but only that the house had taken responsibility for seeing that he had proper means of support. Swanson argues that the fact that provision of titles tended to be concentrated in particular houses and that they were more likely to be the less wealthy and prestigious houses suggests that they may have been designated for this work." In London the houses most active in providing titles were Elsyngspital, the hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate and Holy Trinity priory.97 Elsyngspital provided 200 titles over the period for which we have records (for 93 men, as the title had to be provided at each ordination), St Mary's 273 and Holy Trinity 374. Elsyngspital was not much used in the fourteenth century, perhaps because it was new, but numbers increased over the next fifty years, and the peak was reached between 1489 and 1519 with titles provided for forty men, the numbers tailing off sharply in the 1520s. Both of these services for the church may also have been ways of raising money for Elsyngspital, and the fact that they developed in the fifteenth century when it was short of money was probably no accident.

94 R.N.Swanson, 'Titles to Orders in Medieval Episcopal Registers' in H. Mayr-Harting and R.Moore, eds, Studies in Medieval History presented to RH.C.Davis (London, 1985) p.233. 9S Davis, pp.I3-14, 45-46; Swanson, 'Titles to Orders', pp. 233-34. 96 Swanson, 'Titles to Orders' pp.241-44. 97 The figures which follow come from an analysis of the Davis CD Rom.


Even in the provision of religious services however Elsyngspital faced legal challenge, from its neighbouring parish church ofSt Alphage. The dispute was over the hospital's right to administer the sacraments and to be free of tithes and all other impositions from the parish. Most of the hospital precinct had been in this parish and the church itself was just across the street from Elsyngspital under the city wall. This was a quarrel which went to the heart of the functions and livelihood of both church and hospital, so it is not surprising it was fought long and bitterly. A settlement with the parish had been reached when the hospital was founded, the hospital agreeing to pay l ls 8d a year, 3s 4d to the rector, 3s 4d to the parish as compensation for loss of tithes and loss of income from religious services and 5s for a lamp, an obligation from one of the tenements making up the hospital."

The bishop of London gave the priests at the hospital explicit permission

to administer the sacraments, including extreme unction, to the inhabitants of the hospital and others staying in the house." The payments to St Alphage of l Is 8d a year were evidently made regularly: they appear in the hospital accounts in 1408-9 and prior Gilbert Sharpe was to claim later that they had been paid regularly for 120 years. 100

But over the years successive rectors chafed under this settlement, not accepting that it properly reflected their losses. The first indication of trouble is in 1408-9, when the prior made a gift to a master John Cuyngham, probably a lawyer, of 6s 8d for business in connection with St Alphage, 20d was paid to clerks of the Consistory court 'pro defencione versus parsonam ecclesie Sancti Alphegi' and 16d was given to the summoner ofSt.Paul's

where the court met. 101 This may, of course, have been over

some other matter, but it must have been serious for the Consistory court was the highest of the bishop of London's courts. 102 Some forty years later an agreement was made between John Thornburgh, prior of Elsyngspital, and Nicholas Gervase, rector of st. Alphage and the 'guardiani'

of the church, the church wardens, on behalf of the

parishioners, to which the bishop of London, Thomas Lisieux, the dean ofSt Paul's and his chapter, patrons of Elsyngspital, and Richard Caudry, dean ofSt. Martin's and his

LMA, HR57/108; TNA, E135/2117. OL, MS2512111296. 100 TNA, SC6/1257/3; TNA, CIIIII02. TNA, Cl/l/l00-105 describe Sharpe's case against St. Alphage. All but the last one are printed in Proceedings in Chancery, pp. lxiii-lxvii. I am indebted to Dr. Jessica Freeman for bringing this to my attention. 101 TNA. SC6/1257/3. 102 Richard Wunderli, London Church Courts and Society on the Eve of the Reformation (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1981), pp.7-10.




chapter, patrons ofSt Alphage, were all party.


The dispute must have been festering

for some time to require this level of support and the document is clearly intended to settle matters once and for all. The document confirms that Elsyngspital constituted a parish on its own, quite separate from the parish of St Alphage, and was to be able to administer all the sacraments. The inhabitants of the hospital were to be exempt from all tithes and oblations, and if people outside the hospital's bounds (presumably tenants of Elsyngspital) owed contributions, these could not be recovered from the hospital (maybe this had been one of the causes of the dispute).The rector could not compel the inhabitants of the hospital to take sacraments at the church of St. Alphage.


Elsyngspital's payment to St Alphage was set at 13s 4d a year, 4s to the rector and 9s 4d to the churchwardens.


It is not clear how this relates to the earlier payment of l ls 8d

a year: most likely it subsumed that payment and provided an extra 8d for the rector and 12d for the wardens in compensation for having conceded Elsyngspital' sease.

But this was very far from the end of the matter. A new rector, Thomas Temper, refused to accept the position. There was another accord at Westminster in 1461, when Temper promised to keep to the agreement and Elsyngspital to pay him a yearly sum of 12d on top of the original3s 4d, (no trace here of the 4s in the 1450-52 agreement: maybe that was never implemented, for the documents had no date or seal). The new sum was paid but from 1464 Temper had refused to accept it.


He started proceedings in the court of

the Archbishop of Canterbury to force the inhabitants of the hospital to take the sacraments at the parish church.107Prior Gilbert Sharpe retaliated by taking the case to Chancery, probably in 1466 or 1467, presumably because he expected to get a more

103 The documents, from the St Paul's archive, GL, MS25 121/552 and 1222 are undated but were probably made between 1450 and 1452. Thomas Kemp, who is named in one of the documents, became bishop in 1450 and Nicholas Gervase died in 1451-52, which sets the limits between those dates, Repertorium, pp. 2 and 86. 104 Elsyngspital was not alone in having full parochial status. Seymour, p.142, notes that a number of hospitals had full parochial status, including St Thomas Southwark and St Nicholas, Salisbury. It is possible that included in Elsyngspital's parish were not just the occupants of the precincts but tenants of the hospital's property outside the precincts but inside St Alphage parish. The description of the places covered included 'Ioca sua dicti hospitalis infra fines et Iimites parochis Sancti Alphegi', GL, MS25 1211552. But if that was the case the significance of the provision that the hospital could not be held responsible for the debts of its tenants referred to above is obscure. 105 GL, MS2512111222. 106 This agreement is referred to in the Chancery case, TNA, Cl/1I102. I have not been able to trace the 1461 agreement itself. Temper is shown by Hennessy as first known in 1471, so this is an earlier reference, Repertorium, p.86. 107 As reported by Sharpe, TNA, CIIIIIOO.


sympathetic hearing there.


In the course of the arguments, which were based on

different interpretations of the 1330s documents, Temper claimed that the hospital had recently enclosed tenements in the parish, presumably extending the precinct and so the area exempt from tithes, seriously affecting the parish's revenue, and that may have been the nub of the matter.

The outcome of the dispute is not known and nothing more is heard of it. Elsyngspital continued as a parish in its own right and to administer the sacraments and to make payments to St Alphage: they are recorded in the churchwardens' accounts from 1527 and in Valor at lOs 4d a year, a 12d increase on the 9s 4d which had been the wardens' share in the 1450-52 agreement, maybe an increase secured in settlement of the case. 109 Elsyngspital was not by any means the only religious house to be at loggerheads with its parish church: for example the vicar ofSt Martin's in the Fields complained to the pope in 1421 that the hospital of St Mary Rounceval was retaining tithes and oblations.


And in London parish churches had long been in dispute with the citizens, as tithes fixed in the thirteenth century failed to yield sufficient to meet obligations as time went on, reaching a peak in the 1450s and 60s when the Elsyngspital argument was also at its height. III

Elsyngspital defending its rights

So Elsyngspital was very much part of the London community. The prior and the senior canons must have spent a good deal of their time on business with the world outside in the interests of the hospital and would have needed good contacts and professional advice to operate successfully. The first decade of the fifteenth century provides an example of what this might mean, as it was a period in which the hospital was particularly heavily involved with the law. Action against defaulting tenants in the sheriffs' court, probably a regular occurrence, cost 11s 8d for nine suits in 1403-4, plus 3s 4d for expenses for the attorney and clerks at the court house and wine and beer for

108 TNA, ClII/IOO-5. The documents are undated, but there is a reference to two years of payments to St. Alphage having been refused after 1464 suggesting their date is 1466 or 1467. 109 GL, MSOI432/1, extracts from which are printed in Carter, pp.21 and 64-69; Valor, p.390. 110 Religious Houses, p.232. III See J.A.F. Thomson, 'Tithe Disputes in Later Medieval London', EHR, 78 (1963), pp.l-17.




Five years later a gift of 2s was made by the prior to the esquires of the mayor

and sheriffs, perhaps to oil the wheels. As well as the case against St Alphage in London's Consistory court, there were two cases in the royal court of Chancery.


These were both against London officials: the first the successful challenge in 1406 to the mayor as escheator for the king over the Brian bequest, and the second against the London collectors of taxes in 1405-6, who had assessed some of the hospital's properties for the lay tax of two fifteenths granted to the king in November 1404.114 Elsyngspital should in principle have been liable for tax, since property acquired by the church after 1291 was liable to lay rather than clerical taxation, but the prior successfully claimed exemption and was granted damages of £10.115 There was also business in the court of the Archdeacon of London for the official of the court was made a gift of 8s 2d, and the clerk to master John Bungay was paid 8d for writing a suit there.

I 16

The hospital's opponents in these cases would be people well known to the prior: his own tenants of course and the rector of St Alphage but also some very distinguished Londoners. Two mayors were involved in the Brian case, John Woodcock and Richard Whittington, both later benefactors of the hospital.

I 17

The collectors of taxes were

William Venour, William Waldern, John Oxney and Thomas Aleyn, the first two mayors and the latter two both benefactors.!'! To help it deal with business at this level the hospital had on retainer a couple of good lawyers, paying a pension of 20s a year to Dennis Lopham and 6s 8d a year to John Barton.



Lopham was a notary and a member

of the Mercers' Company, much involved in royal commissions and one of those who

TNA, SC6/1304/S. TNA, SC6/1257/3. 114 CCR 1405-9, p.171, see Chapter 4; Jurkowski, p.75; GL,MS 2512111297. I15Stahlschmidt,p.57; GL, MS25121/1297. The argument seems to have turned on the prior's claim that he had no goods (meaning probably no merchandise) on which to be assessed and the collectors were wrongly taking rents. There is no reference to any specific exemption by the king, although religious houses quite often secured such an exemption, for example the nunnery at Kilburn had been exempted from clerical taxation by Edward II and subsequently by Henry VI, CPR 1436-41,p.4S6 and see Orme and Webster, pp.95-97. The claim that the hospital did not pay lay taxes stood tbe test of time for it was repeated in the course of the St. Alpbage controversy both in 1450-52 and in the 1466·67 court case, OL. MS251211SS2. TNA. CIIIII00-l0S. 116 TNA, SC6/12S7/3. The Archdeacon's court was particularly concerned with the physical fabric of the parish, buildings, furniture etc., but there was a good deal of overlap injurisdiction between the various courts so the case was not necessarily in that area, Wunderli, London Church Courts, pp.16-17. 117 CCR 1405-9, p.17l; LMA, HR140/61; Chichele, vol. 2, p.242; 118 London, pp.335, 337; LMA, HRI43I2S; GL, MS09171/3 f.50Sv. 119 TNA, SC6/l2S7/3. 112



drew up the resignation document for Richard II. 120In 1408-9 his clerk was paid 8d for writing a suit for the court of the bishop of London, maybe against St. Alphage, but Lopham may well have been involved in giving advice earlier, on the Chancery cases. Barton was at that time under sheriff of London and later became recorder, the city's most senior legal position.121 A pension of 6s 8d a year was being paid to Richard Forster, a mercer who also seems to have acted as attorney and perhaps represented the prior in court. 122And the hospital was also consulting Henry Somer, a long serving and distinguished royal official, appointed baron of the exchequer in 1407, paying for boathire for him on four occasions, as well as making a payment to his servant. 123The practice of retaining lawyers continued into the sixteenth century: Robert Curson of Lincoln's Inn was given a twenty year lease of a timber yard next to his dwelling house in Philip Lane, "in consideration as well of the good counsel and mannyfold paynes which the said Robert Curson before this have gevyn and taken to and for the said prior and convent and in tyme to come shall att all tymes geve and take ... ".124There was nothing unusual in a religious house making quite substantial payments to lawyers and officials: it was an inevitable part of being a property owner.


For example the Savoy

hospital in 1524-25 paid £4 to a baron of the exchequer, £1 to its retained legal counsel and 13s 4d to the king's attorney.126

The final chapter

On 11 November 1535 there was a great procession through the streets of London, at the king's command, to celebrate the recovery of the French king's health. The children and scholars of St. Thomas Acre and St. Paul's came first, then the minstrels, and after them the friars, monks and canons of the religious houses, all in their copes, 718 in all. Among them, walking with the canons of St Mary Overy, St Bartholomew's and St Mary without Bishopsgate, were the canons of Elsyngspital, with their crosses and

120Sutton, Mercery, p.l13; Chronicles of London; ed. C.L Kingsford (Oxford, 1905), p.20. 121 London, pp.356-57; Tucker, p. 258. 122Sutton, Mercery, p.193 fh.152; CMPR 138/-1412, p.77. 123CPR 1405-8, p.374. For Somer's career see House of Commons, volA pp.400-404. Somers had estates around Edmonton and Tottenham and was a friend of James Northampton, John's son, for whose trental at Shoreditch the hospital paid 2s 8d in 1408-9, TNA, SC6/1257/3. 124 TNA, E303/10/366. m See Nigel Ramsay, 'Retained Legal Counsel c.1275-c.147S' TRHS, 35, Sthseries (198S), pp.9S-112. 126Tatchellp.154.


candlesticks and vergers walking before them.127Less than six months later, at the beginning of May 1536, the king's commissioners arrived at the gates of Elsyngspital. By 23 May, with almost indecent haste, the house had been suppressed and a history of over 200 years came to an end. 128

Nothing in the hospital's history suggests it was anything other than unlucky to fall in this first wave of suppressions, that of the smaller houses. It had recovered well from the difficult time in the fifteenth century, there is no evidence of mismanagement in the sixteenth century and only three years before the prior had been buying new property. 129 The only whiff of scandal known to attach to it was the misconduct of one master John Glover with Alicia Lightfote, reported in 1503.130 There was no shortage of recruits to the house and it was still caring for the poor. In no way did it justify the castigations in the preamble to the Act dissolving the smaller monasteries which referred to 'manifest sin, vicious, carnal, and abominable living' 'whereby the governors of such religious houses and their convent spoil, destroy, consume, and utterly waste

their churches,

monasteries, priories ... ,.131 But that was probably true of many of the 243 houses suppressed under this legislation. The evidence did not support the claim that it was the smaller houses that were especially prone to error, and examination of the reports of king's visitors to the monasteries in 1535-36 with bishops' visitations and those of the suppression commissioners has suggested that the claims for the generality of houses were exaggerated, although certainly not without foundation. 132

The Act brought within its scope all houses with a net income of under £200 a year as assessed by the Valor of the previous year which had been taken for a new tax of a tenth.133 The Valor assessed Elsyngspital's gross income at £239 138 11Yzd,but after deduction of its quitrents paid out, and other payments, for example obits, and its Two Chroniclesfrom the Collections of John Stow, ed. C.L. Kingsford, (London, 19(0), pp.ll·12. The accounts of the receiver of the Court of Augmentations for London and Middlesex, Thomas Spilman, record expenses of £ 15 18s 4d for the period 5 May to 23 May for the three houses in Lond on and Middlesex, Elsyngspital and Stratford and Kilburn nunneries, in which period the inventories had been taken, lands and goods valued and, after reporting to the Court, the houses suppressed, TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2424. 129 The tenement called 'Pyckedhatch' in Adel Street, see Chapter 4. 130 GL, MS09064/9 f.98. Glover is not known as a canon so must have been a chantry priest or a resident of the close but no other reference to him has been found. I am indebted to Dr. Jessica Freeman for this reference. 131 The Act, 27 Henry VIII, c.28, is printed in Youings, pp. 155·59. 132 Woodward, pp.30-47 and 67-68. 133 Woodward, p.59. 127




obligations to the sisters, the net amount was £ 193 15s 6Y2d,just below the limit.


fact the original net amount was a good deal lower, for a number of expenses were not in the end allowed, no doubt to keep the taxable amount high: deductions were struck out for the salaries of the curate of St Mary Aldermanbury and two chaplains, one at Thele, the cost of repairs, the cost of a pension, despite the fact that there was a contract and payment continued after the Dissolution, and a reduced amount only was allowed for the sisters.135The Act dissolving the smaller houses was not introduced into Parliament until 11 March 1536 and promulgated soon after the end of the session on 14 April 1536, so it may not have been until then that the crucial figure would be widely known, though Elsyngspital being so close to Westminster would surely have known once the legislation was introduced. 136

It could not have come as a total surprise. Suppressions had happened before. Wolsey had suppressed twenty nine houses in the 1520s, admittedly diverting the funds to other charitable purposes, but the closure for the religious was none the less real. 137Closer to home had been the surrender of Holy Trinity Priory in 1532 under pressure of huge debts and its acquisition by Sir Thomas Audley in 1534 to use as a dwelling house.138 Rumours of dissolution were circulating in 1534.139 Elsyngspital itself had been touched by the changes when, as for all religious houses, in 1534 all ten canons and the prior had had to acknowledge the royal supremacy, denying the power of the pope and accepting the king as head of the church, see Figures 11 and 12.14°In 1535 as well as the king's commissioners valuing the hospital for taxation purposes, there would have been a visit in October from Dr. Thomas Legge, the royal visitor charged with looking into the conduct of the monasteries. He would have brought with him a stricter rule: the injunctions given to the royal visitors in 1535 laid down rules for the conduct of monasteries, for example that monks should not leave the cloister, which would have begun to make life more difficult. 141 Perhaps it was then too that Elsyngspitallost


relics, for they were not in the 1536 inventory: Wriothesely refers to the removal of 134

Valor, p.390. See Table 4.1.

13.5 TNA,

E314/54. Jack, pp.lOO-02. 137 Youings, p.27. 138 Holy Trinity, p.164-65. 139 Jack, p.l01. 140 TNA, E25/47 printed in Seventh Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, (London, 1846), Ap,pendix II, p.292 . 14 VCHL, p.264; Woodward, p.60. The visitors' injunctions, BL, Cotton MS,Cleop.EIV,ff. 21-5, arc printed in Youings, pp.149-S2. Youings says, p.30, that seven houses surrendered in 1534-35. 136


relics from Westminster and St Paul's.


In November, perhaps in response to these

pressures, one of the canons, Thomas Griffith, one of the younger members of the community ordained priest in 1529 had left the hospital, paying £8 for a dispensation to enable him to leave the order and practice as a secular priest.


Elsyngspital and the much smaller nunneries of Kilburn and Stratford were the only houses in London and Middlesex which fell to be dissolved in 1536. No attempt was made to save the house, and indeed it is difficult to see on what grounds that could have been done: exemptions were only allowed for cells of larger houses or houses of the Gilbertine order. Other than that it was generally only in more remote places, and where many religious wished to remain in the order, so that no other house could be found in the locality to take them, that houses survived.


The commissioners from the Court of Augmentations who arrived at Elsyngspital were a heavyweight team, perhaps because the men at the heart of the Court wanted to see that the process worked well and London was close at hand. 145 The usual representation was the Court's receiver and auditor for the local region and the clerk to the Valor enquiry the previous year, plus some local gentlemen.l" In this case, in addition to Thomas Spilman, receiver for London, Middlesex and Kent and Thomas Mildmay, auditor for the south east, the officials who were third and fourth in the central hierarchy of the Court, John Onley, attorney and Robert Southwell, solicitor attended.



and Southwell were the Court's chief legal officers and had been common sergeants of


VCHL. p.264 and Wriothesley vol. I, p.31.

p.36. A new system of dispensations came into effect in 1534, under which, instead of being issued by the papal curia, dispensations were issued by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, subject to the approval in some cases of a clerk in chancery on behalf of the king, pp. xl-xiii and xx-xxi, 144 Woodward, pp.71-76 and 80. 145 The Court of Augmentations was set up specifically for the task of dealing with the dissolution of the monasteries and the disposal and management of their possessions. The legislation establishing it was passed a few weeks after the legislation providing for the dissolution of the lesser houses, Youings, p.91. The office was set up in April and the appointments of the officers were made then, Walter C. Richardson, History of the Court of Augmentations 1536-1554 (Baton Rouge, 1961), pp.32-33. 146 Youings, pp. 47 and 161 where she prints as an example of the instructions given to commissioners those for the bishopric of L1andaff. 147 TNA, El17/12/28. See Richardson, Augmentations. for Spilman p, 49, Mildmay, p 55, Onley and Southwell, Appendix A Also listed in Appendix A there are the names of the two chief officers of the Court, the chancellor, Richard Rich and the treasurer Thomas Pope. Richardson says that Southwell had been active in earlier visitations so perhaps he had been clerk to the London visitation and was filling that slot, p.77. Southwell has an entry in ODNB. J.H. Baker, 'Southwell, Sir Robert (c. 1S06·1 SS9)" article 26063, accessed 24 October 2007. 143

Faculty Office.


London, indeed Southwell was still in that position.l" The other member was Sir John Allen, mayor of London.


The commissioners had quite specific instructions as to

how they should proceed: to establish how many were in the house, how they behaved themselves, how many wanted to stay in the order, what servants there were and what others lived in the house. Then they were to value the lead and bells, to take possession of the convent's seal and to make an inventory of all the moveable goods, taking possession of the valuables, and to value all the property. Then they were to report back to the Court of Augmentations, with a brief certificate specifying what they had done and await further instructions. ISO

Unfortunately the brief certificates for London and Middlesex have not survived but the inventory for the three houses taken by the commissioners does, together with the book of sale giving the prices raised and the destinations of all the goods. The commissioners went methodically from room to room accompanied by Roger Pottyn the prior, who was obliged to sign every page of the inventory as an accurate record. Signing with him was Thomas Barnewell, who was to become the Court's bailiff in charge of the Elsyngspital, Stratford and Kilburn properties. He was probably the Thomas Barnewell who was coroner to the City at this time.I51The commissioners needed a local man who would take on the management of the property for them and had evidently identified him even before the formal decision to dissolve the house had been made.


The value of the

contents was assessed as £90 16s 7d, £40 12s 8d of this from the vestry, where the furnishings for the church and the vestments were stored. The lead from the roofs and gutters was valued at £50 and the 7 bells at £25, nearly as much as all the contents put together.IS3There is nothing untoward about most of the contents and furnishings, but something had gone very amiss with valuables.

Betty Masters, 'The Common Sergeant', Guildhall Miscellany, 2 (1960-68), p386. For Allen see London. p.3S3 and ODNB, Elizabeth Lane FurdeU, 'Allen, Sir John (c. 1470-1544)', article 68011, accessed 10 July 2008. 1$0 Youings, pp.160-63. . 1$1 London p. 372 gives him as coroner in 1509. There is a 1532 reference to him in the office in LP. vol. s. 980(1d). In a note from Roger Pottyn with the book of sale he is described as 'gentleman', INA, E 117/12/28. He died in 1540: his executors completed his 1539-40 and 1540-41 accounts, INA, SC6IHENVIIII2349 and 2350, and his death is recorded in the Commissary Court Probate and Administration Book, GL, MS09168/9 f.70. 1$2W oodward, p.84. rsa INA, SC6IHENVIII12424. 148



In 1448 Elsyngspital had five chalices, three of silver gilt and two of silver: in 1536 there were only three chalices, one gilt and two parcel gilt. The only other precious item of liturgical significance in the church in 1536 was a silver gilt pax, though there was a book of gospels garnished with gilt and a spoon for frankincense in the parlour. There were no valuations in 1448, but there had been many items in addition to the five chalices: three silver gilt books, one silver censer and incense boat, two pairs of silver bottles, three pyxes, one silver gilt and two silver, one silver box and three silver spoons. Some of the brass items had also been gilt: a cross, a pair of candlesticks and a censer. But it was not only the valuables in the church which had disappeared. In 1448 there had been a collection of valuable table ware in the treasury: two cups decorated with silver gilt, a hom with a silver gilt cover, two pieces of silver plate with lids, one standing on angels and one on lions, a gilded piece of silver plate, a silver bowl with a ewer and two other silver ewers, a silver spice plate, a silver box for salt, three saltcellars, two flat pieces of silver plate, fourteen spoons, six large mazers, and three others, one with silver gilt binding, two mazers for the convent and two knives with silver handles. But in 1536 the treasury was empty. The only contents were eight old chests with writings and records of the house, which were presumably swept up and taken to the Court of Augmentations.

The only silver tableware were two part gilt salts

and a dozen silver spoons, six with apostles and six without, in the buttery, and hom garnished with silver in the parlour.P"

The contrast with other houses is striking. Altogether Elsyngspital's valuables in 1536, secular and liturgical, amounted only to 77% ounces in all, 26v..oz. gilt, 36Y2oz.parcel gilt and 15 oz white silver, the whole lot valued at £14 9s lld.ISS Compare this with Stratford Priory, dissolved at the same time, with a gross value half that of Elsyngspital in 1535.156 Stratford's goods, apart from gold and silver, were valued at £48 12s IOd, about two thirds of the Elsyngspital value of £74 7s Id.IS7 But over and above this it had 272 oz plate worth £63 3s 5Y2d.IS8 Even Kilburn, the other house dissolved at the same time, at about one third of Elsyngspital's gross value, and with other goods worth only

BL, CCxiiilO; TNA, E117/12128. E117/12/28. 156 Stratford was valued at £121 6d a year, Elsyngspital at £239 135 11 Yzd, Valor, pp. 409 and 390. m To reach this figure I have deducted £19135 for growing com since Elsyngspital as an urban house had nothing comparable. 158 TNA, EII7/12/28. 154

1" TNA,


£14 12s l Id, could manage 771f2ounces worth £14 8s 3d.159 In these houses the valuables accounted for 56% and 48% respectively of their total contents: in Elsyngspital it was only about 15 %. A similar picture emerges in comparison to parish churches: the church ofSt Alphage, Elsyngspital's

neighbour, with only one silver gilt

chalice left in 1552, had sold prior to that 2610z. plate for £69 2s 6d.l60 The church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury, which had belonged to the hospital, had 64Yzoz. still, but had sold a cross worth £21 17s 4d and other silver worth £75 14s 6d. 161

What had happened to Elsyngspital's Court of Augmentations'

valuables? Possibly they had been removed by the

officials into safe keeping even before the inventory was

made. But that was not done at Stratford or Kilburn and if it had been the case one would have expected them to take the three chalices in the vestry, which must have been among the most valuable pieces. And there would have been an account listing them: they do not appear in the treasurer's receipt for the valuables nor in the receiver's account, both of which are in line with the inventory.162 Elsyngspital had been through some hard times and might have been tempted to sell something to raise cash, but the worst of its crisis was over by 1448 when the valuables appear in the inventory. The only other explanation seems to be that prior Pottyn had sold them or spirited them away before the commissioners arrived, though there is little evidence that valuables were removed from the smaller houses. 163It would be a big risk for a house like Elsyngspital in a busy urban area where many people must have known what it possessed and one might have expected the commissioners to be suspicious that there was so little. But there seems no other obvious explanation and it would certainly have eased the passage into secular life.

The commissioners'

instructions suggest that they then went on to Stratford and Kilburn

and returned to dissolve Elsyngspital once they had reported back and got authority

.,9 Kilburn was valued at £86 7s lid,

Valor, p.432. H.B.Walters, London Churches at the Reformation with an account of their contents (London, 1939) PR' 135-37, transcription ofTNA, E117/4/19. I Walters, London Churches, pp.420-3, transcription of TNA, E 117/4159. Elsewhere St. Bartholomew's Priory had 1,27Ioz. 3 carats when it was suppressed, the London Charterhouse 447oz. and Westminster Abbey 8,808oz., E.A.Webb, The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and of the Church and parish of St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, (Oxford, 1921), pp.256-7 Of course these were richer houses but the difference is very great. 162 The treasurer's receipt is in TNA, EI17/12128. The receiver'S 1536-37 account is TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2424. 163 Jack, p.107. 160


from the Court. But it could not have been long before the disposal of the goods of the hospital was taking place. The remaining valuables were taken into custody by John Olney or Thomas Spilman and later delivered to Thomas Pope, treasurer, Spilman charging 20s for the expense of transporting them from the three London and Middlesex houses.l'" The commissioners bought some choice pieces for themselves. John Onley bought two copes and a vestment of white damask and a vestment of red camlet, a number of altar cloths and hangings, two mass books, an antiphoner, a pair of copper candlesticks and a carved tablet of the crucifixion of Flanders work. Thomas Mildmay also bought white damask vestments and a set of blue vestments with dragons, a silk altar cloth and curtains, corporal cloths, a coverlet to spread before the altar and, from the kitchen, a set of pewter vessels, the worst of the seven brass pots, two great iron roasting racks, a stone mortar, a pair of trestles from the dining parlour and the wainscoting from the chapter house. 165

The other commissioners seem not to have indulged, but some selected outsiders were obviously invited in at this stage, the principal one being Dr London. This seems likely to have been the same Dr. London, warden of New College Oxford, later to become very active, and indeed notorious, in the Dissolution, though not at this stage.166 But evidently he began to benefit from it earlier than that, because he bought some expensive items in the Elsyngspital sale. He bought the most expensive cope, one of double tissue, a vestment of blue velvet and one of green damask, two coverlets to spread before the altar, a hearse cloth, hangings, curtains and painted cloths. But he also bought books: not from the library, which was dismissed as being worth only 40s, but the service books and the parchment books only partly written. Altogether he spent £ 13 35 8d, £7 of it on books. Another purchaser was Alice Lupsett, benefactor of the hospital who lived locally: she bought a black satin cope. And Master Fermour who bought two copes, red and green, may have been the brother in law to William Brown, whose father had a chantry in St. Mary Aldermanbury.167 A number of purchases were made by 'Norrey's wife', who has not been identified: she spent 13s 2d on some

TNA, E 117/12/28; TNA, SC61HENVII1I2424. TNA, EI17/12/28. 166 ODNB , H. L. Parish, •London, John 1485/6-1543', article 16957, accessed 24 October 2007. 167 See Chapter 4. A Richard Fennour was executor and brother in law to the William Brown who died in 1525, TNA, PROB 11121 ff.305-306. 164



practical and fairly cheap items - a coverlet, three posnets, colanders, a basin, a skimmer, a flesh hook, four spits, a bottle and five joined stools.

The prior had his share too. Roger Pottyn took from his parlour the bed with all its furnishings, chairs and stools to sit on, a basin and ewer, fire tools and a counter. The total value of these, for which he did not have to pay, was £3 4s 5d. It was evidently the practice to enable the head of the house to equip his or her room: the prioress of Stratford was allowed £1 15s 2d and the prioress of Kilburn 17s. But Roger Pottyn also bought a few luxuries: candlesticks, the best brass pot, twelve cushions, three carpets for the table and the oxhom garnished with silver from the parlour. All the remaining goods, valued at £47 5s 9d, were sold to Thomas Barnewell, the bailiff, who would presumably have sold them on at his leisure. The same pattern, with a few lead buyers, was evident at Stratford, where there were two buyers. This pattern of the farmer of the property taking many of the goods was a common one: at the later sale of another Augustinian house, for example, the priory of Barnewell in Cambridgeshire, most of the goods were sold to John Lacey the farmer.


The most costly items, the bells and the lead, were not sold off, because there was a buyer for the church as it stood. The parishioners of St Alphage, so long at loggerheads with the hospital, finally triumphed by buying the hospital's church to use in place of their own dilapidated one. They petitioned Parliament and a private Act gave them what they wanted in June 1536. They bought the chancel with two aisles each side of the choir and the chapel of St John the Baptist at the west end of the church, the whole church up to the crossing including the tower for £100.


They paid £20 of this straight

away to John Onley and the following year a further £40. The final instalment was not paid until 1546.


They also had the usual expenses along the way for lawyers, clerks

168 Woodward, p.84. The Barnewell inventory is printed by Rev. Mackenzie E. C. Walcott, 'Inventories and Valuations of Religious Houses at the time of the Dissolution, from the Public Record Office' Archaeologia; 43 (1871), pp. 224-29. 169 Statutes of the Realm, vol. 3, p.683, also inscribed in the churchwarden's accounts, GL, MSOl4321l and reproduced in Carter, p.3. This was in fact probably most of the hospital's church (the Lady Chapel may have been omitted), since the hospital for the poor would have taken the place of the nave. 170 The payments of £20 and £40 are recorded in the churchwardens' accounts, OL, MS0143211 f.40vand 50v. A final payment of £60 is also recorded, f.94, but the receipt for the complete payment in 1546 from Sir John Williams, then treasurer to the Court of Augmentations, reproduced in Carter, p.4. refers to a final payment of £40, which would accord with the amount due. The entry in the churchwardens' accounts has been altered twice, from £60 to £40 and then back again suggesting there was an issue here, as may the number of trips to Westminster and Greenwich which had to be taken on behalfoftbe church in 1545-46. ff. 93-94.


to write their bill and the outcome, rewards and refreshments for John Onley, who had originally assigned them the church, and wine at the tavern for Barnewell the bailiff.


Alice Lupsett, local benefactor of Elsyngspital, may also have been involved, for the parishioners paid out for claret, malmsey and sack, a capon and three coneys for her in 1535-36. Her husband and son were buried in Elsyngspital church so she would be deeply concerned about its future: their obits continued under the new management with regular outlay by the church for sack and a pig for her. 172 Much was also spent in 153536 on reconstruction of the church, for the north aisle of the church was pulled down and houses built in its place.


The hospital itself, with the houses in the close and a few others next to it, was sold in 1540 to Sir John Williams, later Lord Thame, the king's jeweller, prominent in dealing with the spoils of the monasteries, who subsequently became treasurer to the Court of Augmentations from 1544-54.174It seems to have been kept intact until then, for there is no record of building materials being sold off. On Christmas Eve 1541, however, it was badly damaged by fire. Wriothesley records 'at 7 of the clocke at night, was a great fyre at Elsinge Spittle

and did much hurte, and divers juelles and goodes of the

Kinges ... were embesylled and convayed awaye.'


The house was evidently repaired,

for Stow says that the prior and canons' house was made into a dwelling house, the churchyard became the garden, a gallery was built on the cloister and the lodgings of the poor became stables.


The property passed through several hands, still being known as

Elsyngspital, until in 1627 it was bought for the site of Sion College, a guild for the London clergy.


The hospital's property, so carefully accumulated over the years, was all taken over by the Court of Augmentations. For the tenants not much may have changed: rents were collected by the Court's bailiff, as they had been by the hospital's rent collector. Even GL, MS014321l f.40v. GL, MS0143211 f.40v and e.g. f.54v and 57. 173 GL, MSOl432/1 ff.4lv-43; Stow, vol. 1, p.294.The church continued in use for many years until it was closed in 1774 because of its poor condition and subsequently pulled down. Only the tower and the chapel beneath survived as part of the new church until 1920, Carter, pp.5 and 26. 174 LP, vol.l5, p.292. For Williams, see ODNB, Sybil M. Jack, 'Williams, John, Baron Williams (c. 1500· 1599)" article 29514, accessed 9 August 2008. Williams in fact seems to have had the property from 1538-39 when it first appears in the bailiff's accounts, TNA, SC61HENV1II12348. m Wriothesley, vol.l, p.133. 176 S tow, vol. 1, p.294. 177 E.H.Pearce, Sion College and its Library (Cambridge, 1913), p.14. 171



the custom of providing wine when the rents were paid carried on, for in 1536 the bailiff spent 5s, explaining that this was the custom of the late prior.17S But the Court began to dispose of properties on long leases, the first being in July 1537 when William Smythe paid £460 6s for fourteen messuages, including probably all the St. Lawrence Lane property that had been the core of William Elsyng's endowment of the hospital and part of the Bow Lane property his brother had given.179 Some properties were taken up by tenants: William Lock acquired the tenement he lived in in Bow Lane for which he had been paying £6 13s 4d a year rent for a no doubt substantial cash sum down and an annual rent of 13s 4d.1SOThe commissioners got their share too: Thomas Mildmay acquired the property in Chelmsford, where his father was already a tenant. lSI And Robert Southwell asked a gentleman of the privy chamber to try to get for him 'a little house in Elsyngspytle', because he was living in the Temple, inconveniently far from hisjob:s2

But what of the inhabitants of the hospital, who had to find new homes and new jobs? For the heads of houses the provision was reasonably generous. The Act said that they were to get, for life, 'such yearly pensions and benefices as for their degrees and qualities shall be reasonable and convenient'. IS3Later, in 1536, John Onley explained what that meant in practice, based partly no doubt on his experience with Elsyngspital: a pension ofa tenth of the clear annual value of the possessions of the house plus a sum of 40s to 60s depending on the quality of the person.P'In Roger Pottyn's case the means of providing for him was readily to hand. Early in June letters patent granted him the rectories ofSt Mary Aldermanbury and St Margaret's, Thele, which had belonged to Elsyngspital, for life. He is referred to in the grant as a king's chaplain, but probably the latter did not carry a separate stipend, since he would have been adequately provided for with the rectories. ISSHis income from the benefices and lands belonging to the rectories SC6IHENVIIII2345. vol.l2 part 2, 411(1). For the sale of monastic property see Woodward, pp.122-38 and Youings, rio' 117-31. o LP, vol.l2 part 2, 1311(25). 181LP, vol.l2 part 2, 796(14). 182 LP, vol. 12 part 2, p,480. 183Youings, p. 158. 184 TNA, 0L41 1511. This was in response to series of questions about how the dissolution of the houses in Lancashire was to be carried out. 18~TNA, E315/232f.14v calendared in LP. vol.13 part I, 1520. St. Mary Aldermanbury had, of course, belonged to St. Paul's and they bad rights to have it returned if the hospitaJ's endowmen~ was diss!pated or putto secular uses, GL, MS 2512111226. They produced this 1331 document to establish their ~Itle.and were confirmed in it in 1537, LP, vol.13 part 2, p.428. They were receiving a payment from the kIDgIn 178TNA,

179 LP,

Footnotes continued on next page


was £22 2s a year, rising to £26 9s 3d from 1537-38, when all the hospital's property in Stanstead and Amwell was included instead of only half of it: presumably there had been some doubt about what belonged to the rectory. 186He also got a cash sum of £6 13s 4d: his receipt for this is dated 19 June 1536 on which he was already describing himself as the rector of St Mary Aldermanbury. 187Hisdispensation to work as a secular priest was granted on 20 July.188Pottyn's income would have given him rather over 13% of the net annual value of the hospital, a little more than Onley's 10% and on a par with the pensions paid to the heads of the London nunneries dissolved at the same time.189 The London houses dissolved later did much better: the prior of St Mary without Bishopsgate got £80 a year and the prior of Southwark Priory £100, both admittedly richer houses but not to that extent. 190Pottyn probably died in 1545 when the rectory of St Mary Aldermanbury was put out to farm and he was not shown as rector at the time of the Chantry Certificate in 1548.191

The other canons' exit from Elsyngspital must have been equally swift, if less financially satisfactory. Other than heads of houses, the religious were not offered pensions at this stage, as they were to be later. The dissolution of the small houses was presented as a one-off exercise to root out the bad and corrupt houses, defined as all the smaller houses, leaving the 'great and honourable monasteries of religion in this realm' to flourish.192 The religious were to be offered a choice of moving to another house or of receiving a dispensation to work as a secular priest, or 'taking their capacities' as it was called. The response varied widely by area of the country and by order. In the Midlands, for example, only 21.8% of the men wanted to leave, whereas in Norfolk the figure was 72% and in Sussex 93%. Knowles attributes this difference to the predominance of small houses of Austin canons, which he describes as the 'least observant of all the religious houses', in the latter two counties, the 'least conservative

relation to Elsyngspital in the early 1540's. perhaps in relation to this, though it could have been for rent, LP, vol.l6, 745 f.13 and vol.l7, 258 f.15. The advowson seems to have been secured by the crown, since it was given to gentlemen of the bed chamber in James I's reign and eventually was sold to the r.arishioners in 1621, Baddeley,p.37. 86 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345 and 2347. 187 TNA, E117/12/28. 188 Faculty Office, p.65. 189 The prioresses of Stratford and Kilburn received pensions of £ 15 and £ 10 per annum respectively from much smaller houses, TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2424. 190 Religious Houses, pp. 162 and 99. 191 TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2354; Chantry Certificate, p.25. 192 Youings, p.l55.


and perhaps also the least devout regions of England'


So it is not surprising that in

Elsyngspital the great majority should have chosen to go.

On 24 May, the day after the commissioners finished their work, six of the remaining nine canons (Thomas Griffiths having already gone) took their capacities.


Surprisingly these included the two oldest men, Richard Chace, who was probably ordained before 1489 and, if so, in his seventies, who may have been the very old sick canon who received a special payment of 13s 4d from the commissioners, and Richard Conygrave, ordained priest in 1503, who must have been approaching sixty.

195 The

others were Robert Cople, John Goote, Robert Byggyne and William Anton, one of the younger men. There may have been one other, for the entry in the receiver's accounts recording the cash payment made to those not staying in religious life, refers to seven canons not SiX.196 The total sum was £9 15s 2d but that had to be shared also with two priests, five servants and a boy: Woodward says payments to religious were generally in the region of 20s-30s each, but at Elsyngspital the payment to the canons must have been at the lower end of that range, if not below, to allow anything for the others.


Those not listed as having taken capacities were William Jackson and the two youngest men, still novices in 1532, Matthew Dylle and John Alston. The younger men were probably not yet ordained priest and may have felt less able to make their way outside, or maybe their vocation for the religious life was still strong.

Some of the canons might have had families in London, which would have helped resettlement into secular life, although only one, Robert Byggyne, is known for sure. 198 Jobs should not at this stage have been difficult to come by: there would have been plenty of jobs as chantry priests and, with Elsyngspital the only house dissolved, not yet the flood of potential applicants there must have been later. Woodward suggests that since the alternative of going to another house was available, those who took capacities must have had a good idea of what they might do instead. I99Knowles takes the view that even later, when many more were dispossessed, most would have found jobs, especially


Knowles, vol.3, p.31 O.

194 Faculty

Office, p.57. TNA, E117/12/28. 196 TNA,SC6IHENVIIV2424. 197Wod o ward, p.71. 198 See Chapter 5. 199Woodward, pp. 140-41 19'


in the south where the proportion of religious houses to churches was less, and that in particular some might have continued to serve in churches which had been appropriated to their house.2oo

At Elsyngspital five of those who took their capacities have been traced. Robert Cople was curate of the church of the appropriated church ofSt Mary Aldermanbury by 1536, serving under his old prior_201Robert Byggyne said in 1538 that he also had been a priest at the church for the past two years, presumably serving as a stipendiary or chantry priest. 202Hemay also have been the Robert Biggen who in 1548 shared a stipendiary post at the church ofSt Stephen Colman and is listed by the Mercers' Company as receiving £7 13s 4d per annum to serve the chantry there of Dame Joan Bradbury, also a benefactor of Elsyngspital.i'" Richard Conygrave received £6 13s 4d per annum at a chantry at the church ofSt. Andrew Holborn in 1548.204 If this was our Richard Conygrave he must have been around seventy by then. Richard Chace, the oldest canon, may have continued to serve as a secular priest in his old church under its new guise as the parish church of St Alphage, for the churchwardens'

accounts for

1537-38 record a payment of 4d for ringing the knell for Richard Chace and 6d for paving his grave.20SThomas Griffith, the canon who took his capacities early, subsequently took advantage of the right to marry granted to the clergy in 1549, for he was among five men who did penance for their marriages at St Paul's in 1554.206

No certain trace has been found of those who elected to go to another house. But a Matthew Dylle has been indentified at St. Bartholomew's priory from 1536 to 1539, when he had no option but to leave the order when the house was dissolved. He received a pension of £5 per annum, which he continued to draw until at least 1546. This was less than most of the other canons, probably because he was the most junior

200 Knowles, vol.3, pp.409-11. G.A.J. Hodgett however found that many fewer of the unpensioned religious who left before 1538 could be traced as having got jobs than of the pensioned, 'The Unpensioned Ex-religious in Tudor England', JEH, 13 (1962), pp.195-202. 201 Repertorium, p.298. 202 OL, MS09065Nl ff.12v-13. 203 Chantry Certificate, pp.50 and 83; TNA, PROBII123 ff.129v-133. 204 Chantry Certificate, p.40. 20S GL, MSOl432/1 f.S6v. 206 Chronicles of the Grey Friars of London, ed, John Gough Nichols (London, 1852), p.92; The Diary of Henry Machyn citizen and merchant taylor of London from ADJ 550-ADJ 563, ed. John Gough Nichols (London, 1841), pp.73-74.


and not yet a priest. 207The timing suggests that this was Matthew Dylle of Elsyngspital, but there is a difficulty. The Elsyngspital canon was said to be already in minor orders in 1532, yet the canon from St Bartholomew's was taking his first tonsure, which should have preceded minor orders, in 1536, at the same time as he was ordained acolyte, the fourth of the minor orders_208But the coincidence of timing is so strong - Dylle was ordained on 10 June, a few weeks after Elsyngspital was dissolved- that the probability is that the first tonsure entry is a mistake.

The twelve sisters were allowed to stay on in the hospital. They were still living there when the site was sold in 1540 and Sir John Williams, the new owner, did not disturb them_209They are referred to in the Elsyngspital bailiffs accounts as 'xii pauperibus sororibus infra hospitale ibidem deo servente', twelve poor sisters serving God within the hospital there, so they seem to have continued to live as they had done before. 210As parishioners of St. Alphage, the sisters would have continued to worship at their old church: a payment of 14~d was made by the church wardens for a key and an iron clamp for the sister's pew in 1535-36 and a payment of 16d made to 'Sister Algood' for bringing an altar cloth to the church.2l1They were provided for, if modestly, by the £10 per annum the Court of Augmentations allowed them to continue to receive from the Flete bequest, cut down from the £13 16s recorded as having been paid before the Dissolution_212 John Onley, when asked in 1536 what should be done about those getting regular support from a dissolved religious house, quoted Elsyngspital as an example, saying that he had granted pensions for life to ten to twelve people getting regular alms there, about £10 in all.213They also continued to receive, through the Court of Augmentations, the payment from the Crutched Friars of £4 12s per annum, and, unlike the Flete payment, this one did not fall as their numbers diminished, so the sisters who survived longest would have been best provided for.214 They probably also received alms, perhaps from their fellow parishioners.21S But the elderly women were

207 208

LP, vol. 14 part 2, p.137; Webb, St. Bartholomew's priory, vol.1, p.255. GL, MS0953 1111 ff.57-61; Davis 15352. The three before that were janitor, lector and exorcist, Davis,


LP, vol.l5, p.292. TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345 for 1535-36 and similarly in later accounts. 211 GL, MS01432/1 f.42v. 212 TNA, SC6IHENVIIII2345; TNA, E314/54. 213 TNA, DUSII. 214 TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2396 f.64v SC6IHENVIIII2401 f.30v, LR21262 f.lOv and see Chapter 4. 21S' 'fj There may have been also a payment from the Grocers' Company as the 1548 Chantry Certincate records a payment of £ 1 from them to the poor sisters of Elsyngspital, Chantry Certificate. p.89. 09



not a burden for long: their numbers had fallen to six by 1540-41 and to three by 154445.216There is no mention of them in the accounts after 1545-46 and their house was later turned into stabling for horses.217 Eventually, however, whe~ the site was acquired by Sion College, it would once again make provision for the poor: the College had an almshouse attached for ten men and ten women.2lS


So after over 200 years William Elsyng' s hospital came to an end, its endowment taken and sold by the state, its canons scattered over London in the secular world, only its sisters staying on in the infirmary, at any rate for a time, its church in the hands of the parish, its buildings turned into a gentleman's house. When Sir Richard Gresham, mayor of London, made his bid to save the other hospitals, St Mary without Bishopsgate, St Thomas, St Bartholomew's, Elsyngspital was already past history.219 Even had it not been it must be doubtful whether it would have survived. It was a priory its own right, like St Mary without Bishopsgate, which also did not make it, and so much closer to a monastic house than the other two which were dedicated hospitals. And it had by then become closer to an almshouse than a hospital and so might anyway not have been on the mayor's liSt.220Whether it would have made any difference had William constituted it differently must also be doubtful: many hospitals and colleges surrendered or were dissolved in the 1540s.221 Had William left it a secular establishment it might, as he feared, have gone to the wall much earlier and the option of putting it under the protection of the Mercers' Company, which looked after Whittington's hospital, did not really exist so early.222 His first thought of making mayor and aldermen its patrons might have led to its becoming a civic hospital, but it would have looked a very untried route at the time and the patronage of St Paul's must have seemed a much safer course, especially as it brought with it the great advantage of an appropriated church. To have survived for over 200 years was in any case no mean TNA, SC6IHENVIII/2350 and 2354. 217The individual bailiff's accounts for Elsyngspital stop after 1545-46 and the sisters are not identified at the level of detail provided in the later combined accounts; Stow, vol. I, p.294. 218Reading,p.9. 219 LP , vol.13 part 2, p.194. 220 Though he did include St. Mary Graces which suggests it was the endowment he had his eyes on. 221 Kreider, pp.160-61. Orme and Webster, pp.156-58. 222 And would have required separation from the college of priests, as Whittington's did, otherwise it would have been caught by the Chantries Acts of 1545 and 1548, Kreider, pp.178· 79. 216


achievement for a foundation modestly endowed by an ordinary merchant without powerful backers, and though his original vision of a large hospital fairly quickly evaporated, services to God and the virgin were carried on in the church he built, as he intended, for all that time and longer in its new guise and the poor found shelter, if in modest numbers, in the infirmary he began right up to the Dissolution and beyond.


Figure 1






The remains of Elsyngspital, looking north: the base of the tower of the church of St Alphage, once the chapel of Elsyngspital.


Figure 2

Impression of the seal of William Elsyng (twice life iz ) Source: BL, CCv2, charter dated 1331


Figure 3

Cast of the fourteenth century seal of Elsyngspital. The seal shows the Virgin with the shield from William Elsyng' s seal on the left and the arms of England on the right. In the ba e the prior kneels in prayer. The words of his prayer are in the tring course above him: EXORA NATUM PRO ME PIA VIRGO BEATUM. The legend is COMMUNE HOSPITALIS BEATE MARIE INFRA CREPELGATE LONDON, Birch, vol.l, pp.640-41. Source: BL, Seal LXVIII.54

2 1

Figure 4

The Neighbourhood

of Elsyngspital in the City of London c.1520.

Source: M.D. Lobel, ed., The British Atlas of Historic Towns, vol. 3: Til City of London from Prehistoric Times to c.1520, (Oxford, 19 9). The hatched area marked 'The Hospital of St Mary', show the limit hospital based on a sketch map in Honeybourne, plate v.

f th

2 2



Figure 6


I a ong th

e Wall of L

hOSPital . , Sisters' h


OUSe Chapel in churCh

rOOd chapel

Church entrance

Outer COUrt



I .

-, ,



inner COUrt gardens

','r .,~. I



i\ ~.' ~




Suggested sketch plan of Elsyngspital in 1536 Outline based on Marjorie Honeybourne's Honeybourne, plate v

sketch map,


Figure 7


South front of St Alphage church, formerly the chapel of Elsyngspital, 1736 Artist R. West, etching W.H.Toms Source: Sir John Baddeley, Cripplegate Ward (London,1922), p.25, from a print in the Crace collection in the British Mu eum. That gi.ve the date of 1736 though Baddeley has 1747.


Figure 8

The porch of St Alphage church, once the chapel of Artist, R.B.Schnebbelie, engraver, William Wi e

1 yng pital, I l

Source: Guildhall Library print


Figure 9 1



Oaths of submission of Elsyngspital canon : 1 and 2 to prior William ( ith r ay r, 1454-1462 or Bowland, by 1492-by 1500) and 3 to pri r Gilb rt (Sharp 14 2-by 1492) Source: TNA, E135/2118

2 7

Figure 10


Oaths of submission of Elsyngspital canon to pri r Gilb rt ( harp 1462- by1492) Source: TNA, E135/2118

Figure 11

Acknowledgement June 1534

of the royal supremacy by th

Source: TNA, E25/47

Figure 12

Roger Pottyn, prior Richard Chace

Robert Byggyne William Anton

John Goote Matthew Dylle

Richard Conygrave William Jackson

Robert Cople Thomas Griffiths

John Alston

Detail from Figure 11: signature of the EI yng pita] an n acknowledging the royal supremacy, June 1534 Source: TNA, E25/47


Appendix 1

Translation of the Will of William Elsyng TNA. LR15/163.

This is a Latin document. 62 ems in breadth and 44 ems in length. with forty seven

lines. There is an initial I in the shape of a cross or a sword stretching over the first twenty lines. with


dragon on its tail up the shaft, three leaves forming the end of its tail. There is evidence that there once were a number of seals, but none has survived. The manuscript most probably belonged to Elsyngspital and found its way to the National Archives among the hospital's papers taken at the Dissolution by the Court of Augmentations.

There is a copy in the Husting Roll. LMA. HR761242. but that lacks the last part

of the first paragraph. below, about other wills and the sentence at the end appointing the executors. It is wrongly catalogued as the will of Thomas Elsyng.

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be worshipped in the highest, amen. On the Monday immediately before the feast of the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary in the year of the Lord thirteen hundred and forty eight and the twenty third year of the reign of King Edward the third after the conquest,' I, William Elsyng'

citizen and mercer of London, founder of the hospital of

the blessed Mary within Cripplegate.i London, of sound mind and good memory, having made my testament about my moveable goods and animals [se moventia] belonging to me in any way whatsoever,

proceed further in publishing and making my

testament or my last will, about my tenements of whatever kind existing in the city of London, in this way. But not wishing or intending, in writing my testament or my last will, to make two different testaments, but one sole testament only, the writing containing a distinct and expressed will, devised about and concerning the disposition of all my moveable goods and animals, wherever they may be, and immoveable goods existing within the said city.

Therefore I give and leave to Robert my son the whole of that tenement with garden, shops and all its other appurtenances, which I acquired from William Taburer in the parish of St Botolph without Aldersgate, London. To have and to hold to the same Robert, his heirs and assigns, from the chief lords of that fee by the services and responsibilities thereby owed and accustomed by right in perpetuity. I give and leave also to the same Robert my son those forty shillings of annual free and quit rent, which I

I 23

March. 1349. 'Elsingg' throughout in the original but 'Elsyng' is more usual throughout the whole period. AI elsewhere in this thesis the 'de' is omitted. 3 For this and later place names modern versions have been used. 2


had and was accustomed to receive from the tenements of Nicholas de Reygate in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry London, to have and to hold and to receive to the same Robert his heirs and assigns in perpetuity from the said tenements, as is more fully contained in a certain deed made to me. I leave also to the same Robert my son six and a half marks annual rent coming from all the tenements of the said Nicholas in the said parish of St. Lawrence for a term of years owed to me, the same Robert, his executors and assigns, thereby to have and to hold and to receive for the whole term which would have come to me.

Item, I leave all my tenements and rents with appurtenances, which I had in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary of Aldermanbury, with the appropriation of the same church of St Mary, in which tenements I have begun to build and construct a certain stone house and 'elemosinaria'

with a church in honour of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary

His mother, for the hospitality of poor, blind, needy and wretched people of either sex; and for my great creator, putting in place lodging for the said blind and wretched poor people there in perpetuity, the number of the aforesaid to be according to the easements of the said house they require, through the discretion of the prior and convent of the said hospital, whoever they may be at the time, in accordance with their deeds and as is contained in my ordinance set out by me more fully. And I wish and ordain that no-one in the world, ecclesiastical or secular, other than the prior and convent, whoever they may be at the time, and also my named executors while they remain alive, should concern themselves in any respect whatsoever with the said house or hospital and church. I wish also and entreat the said prior and convent, whoever they may be at the time, and their said successors and my executors, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, that they themselves, having God in mind, should be pleased to conserve and increase the beginning of the work of the said 'elemosinaria'

and the maintenance of the same in the future.

And so much is required for such needy people and my necessity and the simplicity of my position is not sufficient to provide full satisfaction for them to the full at present, on account of

this, I will and leave to the said

hospital and the said prior and convent,

whoever they may be at the time, all my tenements and rents with appurtenances which I have in the parishes of St Lawrence in Jewry, All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary in lronmonger Lane, St Mildred in Poultry, St Michael Bassishaw, and three


shops which I acquired from William Taburer in Whitecross Street in the parish of St Giles without Cripple gate London, and also forty shillings annual rent with appurtenances received annually from two tenements with appurtenances which Walter de Lyndwode holds in the parish of All Hallows Gracechurch London. And twenty shillings and eight pence rent with appurtenances received annually from tenements which once were Robert Motoun's, in the same parish of St Mildred in Poultry London and also ten shillings rent with appurtenances received annually from tenements which John de Mymmes held in the lane called Conynghope Lane" in the said parish of St Mildred, similarly thirty shillings annual rent with appurtenances received annually from tenements with appurtenances which were once Reginald Bokeler's in the said parish of St. Martin in Ironmonger Lane. And one cellar with a certain shop which I acquired from William Tabourer in the lane of St. Lawrence in Jewry and two tenements with appurtenances in Cordwainer Street in the parish of St Mary le Bow, London. And two tenements with appurtenances in the parish of St Benedict in Woodwharf, London, and all other tenements and rents of mine with appurtenances not bequeathed above in any form, which I have, or henceforth might happen to have, in the city of London and in the suburbs, adhering in terms of the bounds, limits and definitions,

as is more fully contained in the deeds and muniments made concerning

this, to the said hospital and to the said prior and convent whoever they may be at the time and to their successors. To have and to hold all the said tenements and rents with all their appurtenances, together with the appropriation of the said church of St Mary of Aldermanbury, to the said hospital and the said prior and convent, whoever they may be at the time, and to their successors, whoever they may be, as mentioned before from the chief lords of that fee freely with immunity entirely rightly and in peace by the services thence owed and accustomed by right for all future time in pure alms in perpetuity.

On condition that the said prior and convent, whoever they may be at the time, should find and appoint one canon regular of their order or one other suitable chaplain to celebrate divine services in their church for the souls of Robert Fruiterer and Matilda his wife, Margaret and Margaret and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for the tenements with appurtenances which once were Robert Fruiterer's in Philip Lane in the said parish of St. Alphage, and also one canon of the same hospital or one suitable

'Conyhope' in the original. Where there is no modern equivalent place names are taken from the gazetteer in London, pp.431-45.



chaplain to celebrate divine services in that same place for the souls of master' Ralph de Holbech, lord Geoffrey de Holbech, Dionisia his wife and his mother, William John Simon Thomas and Antony de Bek6 and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for the tenements with appurtenances which were the same Master Ralph de Holbech's in the parish of St Peter Woodwharf London. And one canon or chaplain. as above, to celebrate divine services for the souls of William de Carleton and Bartholomew de Castello. John and Emma and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for those tenements with their appurtenances which were the same William de Carleton's in the said parishes of St Michael of Bassishaw and St Mary of Aldermanbury. And one canon or one chaplain in the same manner to celebrate divine services for the souls of William de Gayton and Ada his wife, John and Emma and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for other tenements of mine in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry which once were Walter de Cavendish's and Peter of Norwich's. And also one canon or one chaplain in the same manner to celebrate divine services for the souls of Richard de Elsyng and Sabina, his wife, John Foneryer and Margaret, Thomas, Alice and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for all my tenements with appurtenances which were the said Richard de Elsyng's in Poultry in the said parish of St Mildred. And similarly one canon or one suitable chaplain, in the form already specified, to celebrate for the souls of Thomas de Kynyngham, Geoffrey de Brandon, Agatha and John and all the faithful dead in perpetuity, in return for all my tenements with appurtenances in the said parish of St Mary le Bow London. In addition, all my said tenements and rents with appurtenances are licensed to be alienated in mortmain to the said hospital and the said prior and convent and their successors, through deeds of the said lord Edward the Third, King of England, by licence from his special grace, however I, the said William, out of devotion, desiring to confirm as much as I possibly can, on behalf of myself and my heirs, the estate and possession of the said prior and convent and their successors, have left. ratified and confirmed to the said hospital and the said prior and convent, in the manner above, all the same said tenements and rents with appurtenances to increase the security of the same,"

'Magister' which at this time would imply possession of a university degree. Bishop of Durham and minister to Edward I, see C.M. Fraser, 'Bek,Antony (I) (c.l24S-1311)', ODNB, article 1970, accessed 6.2.08. The connection to William Elsyng was almost certainly through Roger de Waltham, canon of St. Paul's and clerk to Bek, see Chapter 2. 7 This confirmation of the licences would have weight because London citizens were able to bequeath property in their wills to religious houses without licence. If William did indeed get licences for all the properties, they have not survived as they exist for less than one third of those known at William's death, see Chapter 3. 5



Item, when the venerable Ralph,8 by the grace of God bishop of London, with the consent of me, William Elsyng, founder of the hospital of the Blessed Mary the Virgin within Cripplegate London, and at my request, and also with the consent and assent of the said dean and chapter of the church of St. Paul's London, and of those others it concerned, all having been identified and consulted, in accordance with the law in this respect, enquired into and observed in every way, changed the college of secular priests into an order of regular canons, from certain knowledge of the facts, and completely removed the college of secular priests, among other things he determined and ordained that the canons in the same hospital of the Blessed Mary Virgin ought to be governed by a prior, elected under the rules of the regular order and observance of St Augustine and in accordance with the practices of the canons regular of the same order, and that there should be five canons, at least, in the said hospital, which number the said venerable father the bishop of London wanted to have established in the same hospital, in such a way that, if the temporal goods of the hospital should increase in amount by the bounty of the faithful, or in any other way, the number of canons in the said hospital should be increased. And that whenever the said hospital should happen to be vacant, the said dean and chapter, whoever they may be at the time, as patrons of the said hospital shall have custody of the same hospital for the duration of the same vacancy. And the canons of the said hospital, it being vacant, should seek from the said dean and chapter, as from patrons, a licence to elect, and after the election has been held they should present the prior elect to the same dean and chapter in their chapter house, so that they may give their approval to the election of the prior elect. And the said dean and chapter shall be obliged, without delay, to present the prior elect by letter to the bishop of London, whoever he may be at the time, so that the bishop himself, whoever he may be at the time, may confirm him in accordance with the canon law.

Furthermore, the said venerable father lord Ralph bishop of London wished that everything that had been ordained, ordered and regulated, both as to the hospitality for the poor and to their number and other matters, in the establishment of the said hospital by me the said William Elsyng, founder of the hospital itself, as written above (and this was also the wish of the lord Stephen' lately bishop of London of blessed memory),


Ralph Stratford, bishop of London 1340 to 1354, Roy Martin Haines, 'Stratford, Ralph (c. 1300-1354)' ,

ODNB. article 26647, accessed 6.2.08. 9

Stephen Gravesend, bishop of London 1319 to 1338. Roy Martin Haines, 'Gravesend, Stephen (c. 1260-

1338)', ODNB. article 11323, accessed 6.2.08.


should remain in place, provided that they were not contrary to the orders or statutes. I, the said founder William Elsyng, humbly and devotedly request the lord bishop of London, whoever he may be at the time, and the said lords, the dean and chapter of the church of St Paul and the lord archbishop of Canterbury, whoever he may be at the time, in whatever way they may be willing and think it right, to do all the aforementioned things to the honour of God and His mother, the Glorious Virgin, in whose name the said hospital was founded, for all future times to care for inviolably and to defend those same things and to protect them in accordance with my prayers and their understanding of charity. And this is my lasting and fum will, in which I wish to live and die, from which will I by no means depart. In addition, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and as far as I am able under the dispensation of divine providence, remembering in the depths of his mercy, and praying to Jesus himself, I beseech and ask all my executors that none of them presume to hinder or obstruct my present will, or the said hospital now begun, in any way whatsoever.

So that if, by that divine power, riches should in

the future flow from human kindness for the support of the poor of the house or the said church, then the number of persons shall be increased by the said prior and convent of the said hospital, whoever they are at the time, at their discretion according as the endowment allows.

Item, I leave to my executors, written below, the custody of the said hospital with all tenements and rents with all their appurtenances left by me to the same hospital or in any way whatever belonging to it, and also at the same time with their revenues, proceeds and profits and all goods and chattels belonging to the same hospital in any way whatever, until the prior and canons, having been elected, appointed and constituted, just as the custom is, shall be obliged in the same manner. And I make ordain and constitute my executors of this my will, namely the said Robert Elsyng, my son, Nicholas Waleys, Giles Raven, Hugh atte Boure and John de Grenestede my servant, to whom I give and commit full power according to the validity of my present testament, so that in the power of Jesus Christ all things shown above may be carried out faithfully for my soul and the souls of my father, my mother, my wives and of others to whom I am indebted and all my benefactors and the faithful dead. In witness of all set out above, my seal and the seals of my said executors are appended. Given and delivered in the said hospital at the day and year aforesaid.


At the bottom right of the will:

Proved William de Deria cordwainer John de Stokes

Verso of will

This testament was proved before us, William de Baldesleye, clerk to the commissary general of the venerable father lord Ralph by the grace of God bishop of London, publicly, and letters having been proclaimed for its probate on the third nones of April in the year of our lord 1349.10 And because Robert de Elsyng, the chief" executor named, has refused to administer, we have entrusted the administration of the goods of the said deceased, existing in the jurisdiction of the said venerable father of London, to Nicholas Waleys, Giles Spencer known more intimately as Raven and John de Grenestede, executors named within and to William Alyward, joined with them, appointed ex officio according to the form of law, reserved to us especially the power of admitting Hugh atte Boure, when he comes and wishes to administer. In witness of this matter, because our seal which we use in the office is unknown to many, I have put to this the seal of the reverend man the lord official of London, which we have procured. And we, the said official, have thought fit to attach our seal to these present letters at the request of William, the commissary aforesaid. Dated London the day and year written above.

Written below this

This testament was proved, proclaimed and enrolled in the Husting London at the Pleas of Land held on Monday next after the feast of Philip and James in the twenty third year of the reign of King Edward the third after the conquest in England and the tenth of his reign in France.12


3n1 April 1349. 11 'interius', 12 4th May, 1349. In the Husting roll itself the dates of enrollment are missing between 30 March (th~ Monday after the Annunciation) and 11 May (the Monday after the feast of St. John ante portam latinum), no doubt because of the pressures of large number of deaths. 13 This is probably the signature of John Shirbourn, common clerk of London, and well kn~wn to William Elsyng, see Chapter 3.He was elected in 1335 and did not die until 1354, Betty Masters, 'City officers III The Town Clerk' in The Guildhall Miscellany, (1969),3:1, p.59. 10


Appendix 2 Calendar of documents involved in the foundation of Elsyngspital 1327·1349. (Including acquisition of properties making up the site of the hospital, but excluding the acquisition of endowment properties which are listed in Appendix 4)

14 July 1327. William Elsyng acquired properties in Philip Lane from Ralph de Wyndesore in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury, TNA, LR14/527, 1411152 (duplicate), enrolled in the Husting LMA, HR55197. Ralph had acquired tenements in Philip Lane at the wall of London from Edmund de Wyndesore in 1322, TNA, LR14/533.

1 May 1328. Land with houses acquired by William Elsyng from Thomas atte Gatte opposite the wall of London and north of tenements William already owned, LMA,


30 November

1328. Order from Edward

m to John

de Grantham, mayor of London, as

escheator to investigate William Elsyng's request to give properties in St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury to 100 poor blind people. On 5 December 1328 the mayor reported back, valuing the properties at 25s gross per annum with quitrents to the convent of Clerkenwell of 5s, to Henry de Bedyk of 6s 8d and a sum [unreadable] to the convent of Haliwell, with 6s 8d annually for repairs. William's other properties in St Lawrence Jewry and All Hallows Gracechurch were worth annually respectively £15 IDs gross, £11 net of quitrents and repairs, and £5 5s gross, £4 net, TNA, C143/201l19.

4 February

1329. Licence in mortmain from Edward III to William Elsyng for the

alienation of the properties to 100 blind people, for whom he was founding a hospital with an oratory in honour of the Virgin Mary. Neither William nor the blind people to

be molested nor burdened in any way by the king or his heirs, or by justices, escheators, sheriffs or other bailiffs or ministers, TNA, C661l71 m.37, calendared in CPR 1327-9. p.360.

20 August 1329. William Elsyng's agreement with John de Cateloigne, rector of St Alphage, and the parishioners, in which he recompensed them for the damage done by setting up hospital. The rector received 40d a year in lieu of tithes from the tenement once John de Wyndesore's.

The parishioners received 40d a year for the work of the


parish and 5s annually for a lamp in the church. The rector and parishioners bound themselves and their successors to free the hospital and its tenements and rents in the parish and its occupants from all charges and contributions in perpetuity, LMA, HR57/108.

31 October, 1329. William Elsyng acquired a piece of land, measuring six and a half ells east to west and just over three ells from north to south, in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury from Richard Chyniot and his wife, between tenements William already owned on the north and west and the royal road to the east, LMA, HR59/20.

15 January 1330. The mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the city of London ratified the establishment of hospital. The deed records that William Elsyng already had a licence from the king, the confirmation of the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's and the consent of the rector and parishioners of St Alphage, TNA, LRI4/11O.

25 March 1330. William Elsyng agreed with William de Wyppyngham, rector of St Mary Aldermanbury, to pay him 6d a year in lieu of tithes for a piece of land he had bought for the hospital on Gayspore Lane, measuring six ells by seven ells, just south of the hospital and east of William's garden, TNA, LR141l155.

15 August 1330. William Elsyng and the civic officials sealed a charter setting out William's endowment, the arrangements for appointments in the hospital and the rules by which it was to be governed. The charter was confirmed by Stephen, bishop of

London,' 19 October 1330 and ratified by Edward III 3 December 1330, TNA, C66/174 m.6, calendared in CPR 1330-4, p.49. [See Appendix 3, document A for details of this document.]

9 September 1330. William Elsyng bought a garden and a tenement in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury from Henry de Bedyk for an unnamed sum and 6s 8d annually. They lay on the comer of Gayspore Lane and the road along the wall, with tenements already owned by William to the south and west, TNA, LR14/341, 14/487 and 14/1151. [It is possible that this property was part of the original purchase of


Stephen de Gravesend, bishop of London, 1318-38,

Fasti, p.l.


property in 1327, since the former owner of that, Ralph de Wyndesore, lost a court case over the garden to Henry de Bedyk in 1328, so William may have had to repurchase it, TNA, LRI4/1172.]

26 November

1330. The report of the inquest set up by Stephen, bishop of London, on

21 July 1329 into the effect of the hospital William Elsyng had begun to build on the neighbouring parishes, especially St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury. The inquest established that the damage to the church of St Alphage was 40d annually for lost tithes from the produce of an orchard which had been cut down and from the properties which William had joined with his new building and for the effect on revenue of the new oratory with bells where services were to be held. It was assessed that there was also 40d annually of damage to the parishioners because the tithes would have contributed to their expenses in repairing and roofing the church and for ornaments for the church. And 5s annually was due for the maintenance of a lamp, an obligation which had rested on Thomas atte Gatte's property. To the church and rector of St Mary Aldermanbury was due 6d annually for tithes and oblations. The property in which the hospital and chapel were founded in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury consisted of a garden once belonging to Henry Bedyk and two shops, one once belonging to Ralph de Bedel and the other to Nicholas Girdler, extending from the tenement of Stephen Ie Porter in the south to the road along the wall in the north and from Gayspore Lane in the east to William de Horsham's tenement in the west. The property in the parish of St Alphage comprised three tenements, one once Edmund de Wyndesore's/, one which had belonged to John Johan, tiler and a third which had belonged to Thomas atte Gatte. These stretched along the road opposite the wall from Philip Lane in the west to the tenement belonging to William de Horsham in the east. The inquest found no damage to any other parish. The document sealed additionally by Stephen de Gravesend, bishop of London, 27 November

1330, TNA, E135/21n.

1December 1330. Bishop of London official's account of the inquest and its outcome, including the bishop's commission of 21 July 1329 expressed in terms similar to TNA, EI35/21n.

The official had fixed the hearing for 3 October but 'ipsa dies periit sine

fructu'. The inquest was finally held on 26 November

1330, with the rectors and

parishioners of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury and William de Kantia, official


See entry 14 July 1327.


of the consistory court of St Paul's and all were content. The official advised the bishop of London that he could proceed and approve the hospital which he did 29 November,

1330, TNA, LR141113.

22 December 1330. Deed of John, dean,3 and the chapter of St Paul's containing a deed from Stephen, bishop of London, dated 29 November

1330. Stephen's deed reported

the outcome of the inquest as in TNA, E135/2117 but with less detail. William Elsyng was to pay the rectors and parishioners of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury the amounts specified at the inquest. The inhabitants of the hospital were to be exempt from tithes and the hospital was permitted to have the sacraments performed by its chaplains in the hospital church, including the Eucharist,

and extreme unction for each

other and for others staying in the house, without agreement from anyone else. Offerings made in the church were to form part of the income of the hospital. The archdeacon of London was not to have authority over the hospital, which was the preserve of the dean and chapter of St Paul's. Forty days indulgence might be granted to anyone who gave to the hospital. The dean and chapter of St Paul's ratified Stephen's deed, GL, MS2512111296.

30 May 1331. The dean and chapter of St Paul's appropriated the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury to hospital. The warden of the hospital was to be appointed rector of the church, the two appointments of the warden and rector being treated as one. William Elsyng was to have power of appointment under the dean and chapter and that power was to go to them after his death." The hospital was to pay the longstanding pension of one mark a year to St Paul's and a new pension of half a mark a year as a sign of submission. The appropriation was to take effect when the living was next vacant. The church was to revert to St Paul's if the endowment was dissipated or put to secular uses, GL, MS2512111226 m.l.

1 June 1331. William Elsyng and officials of the city of London, with the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, drew up a deed setting out William's endowment, the arrangements for appointments, the arrangement for the appropriation of the church St


John de Everdon, dean 1322-1335, Fasti, p.5.

In giving the power of appointment to William this agrees with versions C and B of the foundin, charter in Appendix 3 and not with versions B and 0 which gave the power of appointment to the dean and






and the rules under which the hospital was to operate, BL, CCv2,

printed in Monasticon, pp.702-7 [See Appendix 3 version B for details of this document, which was a new version of that sealed on 15 August, 1330.]

19 July 1331. Stephen, bishop of London, confirmed a version of this deed which differed significantly from BL, CCv2 in the appointments and the power to make them and the treatment of the appropriation of St Mary Aldermanbury, Reading, pp.2-6 [See Appendix 3, version C for details.]

6 October 1331. Edward III confirmed the deed of 1 June. [Two different versions of this document exist. TNA, C661176 m17, calendared in CPR 1330-4 p173 (version Din Appendix 3), is based on BL, CCv2 (version B), and GL, MS2512111226 m.2-3 (version E), is based on Reading, pp.2-6 (version C).]

26 October 1331. The warden and brothers of the hospital were granted a mortmain licence to acquire property to the value of£IO a year, TNA, C661176 m.1, calendared in

CPR 1330-4, p.197. This was in response to a petition from William Elsyng for a licence for £40 a year, TNA, SC8116/178, printed in Rotuli Parliamentorum et Placita

in Parliamento Tempore Edwardi lII, (London, 1832),vol.2, p.401a, no.l25 and listed in The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England 1275-1504, ed. Chris Given Wilson (Woodbridge, 2005), vol. 13, ed. Seymour Phillips, p.465.

1 November 1331. The hospital was consecrated to the Virgin Mary by Peter of Corbamen ..5 Indulgences of forty days were granted to those who gave to the hospital and one year for those present at the ceremony, Reading, pp.6-7.

10 November 1335. The new rector of the church of St Alphage, Thomas Wyckham, accepted deeds of the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's relating to the hospital for himself and his successors, TNA, LR14/120.6

, Probably 'Corbava' (Croatia) of which Peter of Bologna was suffragan bishop, Knowles. vol.2 Appendix 3, p.375. 6 The deeds are not reproduced or specified but seem likely to relate to the relationship between the hospital and the parish, see deeds of 26 November 1330 and 22 December 1330.


16 November 133S. Deed of Stephen, bishop of London, agreeing to the consecration

and dedication of the hospital's cemetery 'cum placea adiacente capelle hospitalis', TNA, LR14/529. 3 February 1338. Letter from Stephen, bishop of London, to the dean and chapter of St

Paul' s. William Elsyng, founder and warden of the hospital, had asked that the hospital, consisting of a master and eight priests, might be changed into a house of regular canons, since the secular priests had become involved in temporal concerns, lived a freer life, 'laxiorem vitam', than regular canons, and wandered around in London and beyond leaving the hospital deserted and its goods at risk. The bishop was planning a house of five canons and asked the dean and chapter to consider the matter, BL, CCxi33. 20 July 1339. Thomas de Maryns, apothecary, granted the hospital. for a sum of money. a property in the parish of St Alphage, which lay on the road opposite the city wall opposite the cemetery of St Alphage church and was surrounded by the hospital on the other three sides, LMA, HR66/101.' On 18 October 1339 an inquest was held into a request for a mortmain licence for this property and others: this property was said to have been held without licence. It was worth 13s 4d gross per annum with a quit rent of 5s to the nuns of Clerkenwell and lOs allowed for repairs, TNA, C143/250/13. Licence granted 24 October 1339, CPR 1338-40, p.321. 2 November 1340. Deed of Ralph, bishop of London,8 agreeing to the change to a

house of Augustinian canons with the consent of the dean and chapter of St Paul's. William Elsyng had asked for the change because he had been taught by experience that the freer secular life and the daily pressure of worldly opportunities could affect divine worship and lead to the hospital's goods being squandered and put to impious uses. After his death different patrons might not have the same care for the hospital. A house of regular canons offered more security and continuity. The bishop said that the resources of the hospital were sufficient to support five canons. If the resources grew under careful husbandry more could be recruited. The dean and chapter of St Paul's were to be patrons of the house and take charge if there was a vacancy as prior. The This was probably the property once William de Horsham's, which lay between the other properties in which the hospital was built, see deed of 26 November 1330. 8 Ralph de Stratford, bishop of London, 1340-1354, Fasti; p.2. 7


canons were to elect one of their number as prior and present him to the dean and chapter, who would in turn present him to the bishop. This was not intended to affect the rights of the archdeacon of London." The way the hospital was run and the provision for the poor, both as to numbers and hospitality, were to remain as before, BL, CCvl0, printed in Monasticon, pp.707-8.

17 November 1340. Deed of Gilbert, dean,lO and the chapter of St Paul's confirming a deed from the bishop of London in the same terms as BL, CCvl0,

GL, MS2512111207.

[ In 1724 Reading, p.7 describes a similar deed then held by Sion College, but he does not reproduce it.]

2S November 1340. Deed of Ralph, bishop of London, confirming the consecration and dedication of the cemetery and the place lying next to the church.

II The


was now extended to the newly built altars of the hospital and a place opposite the church. The indulgences customarily granted were also renewed, TNA, LRI4/551.

8 December 1340. Deed of Ralph, bishop of London, recounting that the church of St Mary Aldermanbury had been appropriated to the hospital in his predecessor's time, with the consent of the dean and chapter of St Paul's, and that the hospital was now to become a house of Augustinian canons. The appropriation was confirmed to the prior and canons, with the agreement of St Paul's, when Richard de Hoxne, currently rector, died or left. 12 The traditional pension of one mark a year was to be paid to the dean and chapter and the new pension of half a mark a year to be paid by the prior on appointment as a gesture of submission. The church to revert to St Paul's if the hospital ceased to exist or its funds were used for secular purposes.

One of the canons was to be

appointed to the cure of souls. He was not personally to have the income of the church and could be removed, TNA, LR141l11. [There is a copy of this deed in the Papal Register for 1397, when the prior petitioned the Pope for confirmation of the appropriation; and also of a second deed containing the ratification of the bishop's deed by the dean and chapter of St Paul's, dated 10 December 1340, TNA, PR03119/60, pp.362-381 calendared in CPL, vol.5, pp.10-11].

Although he may not have had any, see deed of 22 December 1330. Gilbert de Bruera, dean 1335-54, Fasti, p.5. H For the original consecration see deed of 16 November 1335. 12 No other reference has been found to Richard de Hoxne.




2 April 1342. Edward III confirmed the bishop's deed of 2 November 1340, as in BL, CCv 10, and that of the dean and chapter of St Paul's, 17 November 1340, as in GL,

MS2512111207, TNA, C66/206 m14 calendared in CPR 1340-3,pp.415-16.

20 August 1343. Edward ill authorised the prior and canons to take over the mortmain licences for twelve properties for which the hospital had held licences, TNA, C66/21O m.30 calendared in CPR 1343-45, p.113.

23 March 1349. William Elsyng's will, in which he set out his wishes for the hospital, confirmed the property it was to have and the chan tries to be set up. The arrangements for changing the hospital into a house of Augustinian canons were rehearsed and the dean and chapter of St Paul's, the bishop of London and the archbishop of Canterbury charged to protect and augment it. The tenements and rents, goods and chattels he left in his executors' care until the prior and canons had been appointed, TNA, LR15/163 copied into the Husting, LMA, HR76/242.[For text see Appendix 1.]


Appendix 3

Calendar and comparison of foundation charters of Elsyngspital1330-31 Over the period 1330-31, there are five versions of the document in which William Elsyng set out how Elsyngspital was to be run and which were approved by some or all of the mayor and aldermen of the City of London, the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, the bishop of London and the king. Much of the content, especially that concerned with the detailed operation of the hospital, is identical. But there are major differences, mainly in the manner of appointment of the warden and priests, and these are all identified in this calendar. There are also some minor differences in wording which appear to reflect scribal licence and do not materially change the sense, and these differences are not noted here.

For ease of reference, numbered paragraphs have been introduced and headings inserted and the charters have been identified as A-E. Differences are noted after the paragraphs in successive charters. A stands alone in content, Band D are very similar, as are C and E. The charters are given in chronological order and it appears that A, B and C are new versions responding to events. But there is then an unresolved problem: D reverts to B and E to C, leaving two alternative versions at the end. B is the only version which has seals attached, though the second seal, in addition to that of William Elsyng, is that of the Officiality of St Paul's, not that of the mayor and alderman as the text suggests. A and D are copies in the Patent Rolls. E appears to be a copy made for St. Paul's. C, although known only through an eighteenth century transcript, is said to have been sealed.


Sion College, built on the site of Elsyngspital, possessed the original of C,

which may have originally belonged to Elsyngspital. Sion College at that time also had another charter said to be the same as C but with the King's approval added, so it was a version of E. This lost charter was also said to have been sealed.2



Reading, p.1. Reading, pp. 1 and 6.


A: Charter

of William EIsyng3 witnessed by the mayor and sheriffs, aldermen and

some citizens of London, Wednesday Stephen Gravesend, 3 December,

15August, 1330, approved

and confirmed by

bishop of London, 19 October, 1330 and ratified by the king,


From the Patent Rolls, TNA, C66/174 m6, calendared in CPR 1330-34,p.49.

Al Greetings from the king who has seen letters from Stephen, bishop of London, which follow.

A2 Greetings

from Stephen, bishop of London, who has inspected a document from

William Elsyng who, for the reverence and honour of Christ and the Virgin Mary, has founded a hospital for poor people needing lodging and sustenance. The document follows.

A3 Foundation

and endowment

of the hospital, names of warden and priests and

consents William Elsyng, citizen and mercer, has founded a house and college of a church of five secular priests and a hospital or refuge for wretched people in honour of the Virgin Mary, newly built in his houses in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury. He has endowed the house with all the tenements, open spaces and rents he has in the parishes of St Lawrence, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Alphage and St Martin Pomary in the city of London, as set out in deeds and muniments. The endowment will enable John de Cateloigne, warden of the hospital and John Russel, William de St. Alban, Nicholas de Crodewertb and John de Redyng, priests of the hospital and their successors, to serve God and the blessed Mary and all the saints in the hospital in perpetuity in the manner set out below. 4 He has the consent of the king, Stephen, bishop of London, the dean and chapter of St Paul's, Simon de Swanlond, mayor of the city of London and all the community of the city, and of John de Cateloigne, rector of St. Alphage and his parishioners and William de Wyppingham, rector of St Mary Aldermanbury and his parishioners, as is set out in deeds and

3 As in the rest of this thesis, the William is referred to as 'WilIiam Elsyng' and not 'de Elsyng' or any spelling variant. 4 These names and others appearing throughout this Appendix have been given the same spelling throughout, though the documents may have variants.



He guarantees the property to the warden and priests and their successors

against all comers in so far as he can bind himself and his successors.

A4 Appointment of new warden and priests So as to ensure that God is served well and for the relief of the wretched people, when any warden or priest leaves or dies, William Elsyng will present a priest in his place to the bishop of London within four months of the vacancy occurring. After William's death, the mayor and aldermen of the city of London shall similarly present within four months. The bishop of London shall induct the one presented. But after four months, if there has been no presentation, the choice shall fall to the bishop.

AS Induction and oath of warden and priests When the warden is inducted into his office he is to take an oath that he will administer the goods of the hospital well and faithfully, entirely applying them for the use of the hospital. He is also to undertake to render account of his use of the goods annually before two priests of the hospital and, if possible on the same day, to gather the rest of the priests together and demonstrate in public how he has observed the rules and to see that they are observed by the other priests. Within three days of the warden's induction, all the priests of the hospital are to meet with the warden and note the contents of the common chest, and the previous warden's key is then to be handed over to the new warden. A new priest must show his letters of induction to the warden and, before he can receive any benefit in the hospital, must take an oath that he will observe these rules and as far as possible see that they are observed. He will as far as possible work to the advantage of the hospital of the blessed Mary and of its ministers. He will learn about the business of the hospital, so that he can give good advice. He will not reveal confidential information about the hospital or its servants and will be obedient to the warden in all things honourable and lawful. In the absence of the warden the new priest shall be admitted in this way by the most senior priest in the hospital and shall swear that he is not securing his place by trickery.


Simon de Swanlond, mayor 1329-30.


A6 The daily routine of the hospital The warden and priests shall meet together every weekday at dawn in the hospital's chapel after the bells have been rung, dressed in surplices and amices, and say matins and the canonical hours according to established church practice for the day, slowly and clearly. On Sundays and feast days they shall sing the service as the day requires. Each week each priest in succession shall lead the choir", the warden only excepted, because of his external duties. But he must celebrate at the greater feasts, such as the Nativity of our Lord, the Purification, the Annunciation, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Michael and All Saints, unless prevented by illness or other urgent cause. After matins and hours have been sung, the warden and priests not appointed to another service or divine office shall celebrate their masses in succession in the chapel of the hospital or elsewhere as the warden ordains. Afterwards' the warden and all the priests shall visit the sick lying in the hospital before the third hour and shall relieve their needs and mitigate their pains, or cause them to be relieved and mitigated, as far as they can. Around the third hour, after the bells have been rung, the warden and priests shall come together in the chapel clothed in surplices and amices and sing the mass of the day, as the service for the day requires, and this shall be finished about the ninth hour. Then they will eat together in the refectory under the authority of the warden. Every day before vespers they shall come together in the chapel and say the service for the dead, devoutly and clearly, with a weekly rota for beginning and leading the chorus. Then. clothed in surplices and amices. they shall sing the compline and vespers appointed for the day. Afterwards those who wish shall go to the refectory to eat. Then they shall go into the hospital close and walk the bounds and visit the sick as before. The warden shall indicate which priest is to celebrate mass at dawn the following day in the chapel. Then, the daily office complete, the warden and priests shall go to bed in a single dormitory. These provisions about the manner of speaking and the celebration of services shall be observed until the church appoints otherwise.

A7 Management

of the business of the hospital

It shall be the duty of John de Cateloigne and his successors as wardens to seek out and extract all rents and proceeds belonging to or coming from the hospital from whatever




source. They are to be answerable for all charges laid on the hospital. They and their fellow priests are to maintain and support two household clerks for this purpose.

A8 Clothing and payment for the warden and priests The warden shall provide each year for himself and his fellow priests to be clothed with cloth of uniform colour within three days of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.' Each priest is to have one complete outfit, a tunic, supertunic, long tabard and a hood, with fur on the supertunic and hood. The cost is not to exceed 30s each. Because the warden has to represent the hospital on business, his outfit, of the same items and colour, is not to exceed 40s. Because the warden and priests are seculars and need not only woollen clothes, but also linen and other necessities, the warden is to pay each priest 20s for linen, footwear and other necessities in the octaves of Easter each year. The warden himself is to have 40s for this purpose.

A9 Accounting and security arrangements To avoid suspicion and ensure the warden's good reputation, he is to render account in the hospital to two senior priests, that is, those who have been longest in the hospital, each year on the day after the feast of St. Martin in hyeme.t He is to account for all the rents and income for the year, for money collected for the hospital and for gifts, which he shall bring together and present in public. All these should be seen and noted by all the priests. They should then be faithfully put back in the common chest and fastened with two different locks. The warden is to have one key and a senior priest the other. If John de Cateloigne, or any successor of his as warden, or anyone of the priests, should die or relinquish office and the interest and title he has in the hospital, then a senior priest who does not already hold a key to the common chest should receive the warden' s key and he shall have custody of the hospital until the arrival of a new warden.

AIO Provisions for the inmates of the hospital William Elsyng has seen on many occasions in the past. in London and outside, many poor blind and wretched people wandering through the streets without any place of refuge, often getting enough to eat from alms but with nowhere to lay their heads by day or night. He has already received into the hospital John Gurneys and Robert de



8 September. 11 November.


Teukesbury, poor blind men, and another thirty poor and wretched people of both sexes. They have been given individual rooms, bedding and equipment for beds and they are to have the use of these by day and night in perpetuity. The same is to be done for sixty eight people of both sexes beyond the thirty two now in the hospital. When anyone of the inmates dies and has been buried, the warden is to choose another person within fifteen days and he or she is to have the room, bedding and equipment for beds of the dead person in perpetuity. And William Elsyng is especially concerned, even compared with his compassion for other wretched people, for poor blind and paralysed priests. He exhorts the wardens of the hospital, under threat of divine justice, to give preference to poor blind and paralysed priests if they seek for a vacant place. When the cloth for bedding and the equipment for beds are tom or worn out the warden should have them repaired or get new ones. And to pay for this in future each poor person dying in the hospital should bequeath all the goods he has to the hospital.

All Employment of clerks for services With the advice and consent of the priests, the warden is to employ two clerks, who should know the services and be able to read and sing competently. The clerks are to take part in matins and any other divine offices every day in the chapel and read and sing on the orders of the warden or the priest in charge for the week and serve for the warden and the priests inside or outside the chapel in the hospital. The warden is to negotiate with them on a wage of not more that 20s for the year. And he can dismiss them and employ others as it seems expedient to him and the other priests.

Al2 Other provisions for priests No priest or clerk appointed to serve in the chapel of the hospital may stay outside the city except with licence from the warden or his deputy. The priests of the hospital should arrange for a priest to be present when the warden takes his oath. Every priest is to have a copy of the rules laid down in this document and none of them may depart from the rules, for fear of breaking their oaths.


A13 Witnessed by William Elsyng and the officers and citizens of London Sealed by William Elsyng. Witnessed by the mayor of the city of London, Simon de Swanlond", Henry Gisors and Richard de Lacer, sheriffs of the same city,lO Nicholas de Farndone, Richard de Betoigne, John de Grantham, John de Pulteney, Henry Darcy and Reginald de Conduit, aldermen, Simon Fraunceys, Thomas Harewolde, Nicholas atte Merssh , William Aylward, Nicholas de Grenewych, John atte Barnette and others. Dated Wednesday, the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary I I 13304 Edward III.

A14 Confirmation by Stephen Gravesend, bishop of London Because this plainly will lead to the increase of divine worship and the sustenance of wretched people, it is approved and confirmed by the bishop of London on papal authority. The bishop calls upon others to relieve those living in the hospital and grants forty days indulgence to those who do so. He ratifies also any indulgence granted by any other bishop in England. Sealed 14thKalends of November




15 Edward Ill's ratification These gifts, grants, ordinations, dispositions, approval and confirmation ratified and confirmed by the king for himself and his heirs to the warden and chaplains and their successors. Witnessed by the king for the good of his soul and that of his father at Westminster, 3 December.

8: Charter of William Elsyng to which his seal and that of officials of London are attached, witnessed by the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen and some citizens of London, sealed 1 June, 1331. The seals are those of William Elsyng and the Officiality of St Paul's. BL, CCv2, printed in Monasticon, pp.704-7. The manuscript came originally from St. Paul's: it is marked 'sub altari quinto'.


Mayor 1329-30. Sheriffs 1329-30.

10 11

15 August.


19 October.


Bl Foundation of the hospital, consents, endowment of property and appropriation

of church of St Mary Aldermanbury

William Elsyng, citizen of London, has founded a house comprising a college of a warden and four secular priests and a hospital for wretched people, in honour of the Virgin Mary, in his tenements and houses in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury. He has the consent of Edward III, Stephen, bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St. Paul's. He has endowed the house with all the tenements, houses and rents he has in the parishes of St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Alphage and St Martin Pomary, as set out in deeds and muniments in honour of God, the Virgin Mary, St Paul and all the saints. The dean and chapter of St Paul's have appropriated the church of St Mary Aldermanbury, of which they are patrons, to the hospital with the consent of Stephen bishop of London. The dean and chapter have the right of patronage in both hospital and church as a united benefice. The sense of much of this, though not always the exact wording, is similar to A3, but lacks the reference to the consent of the mayor of London and the rectors of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury and the names of the warden and priests. The appropriation of St Mary Aldermanbury is new and St Paul is added to those to whom the hospital is dedicated.

B2 Right of appointment of warden/rector and priests and obligations to St. Paul's The dean and chapter of St Paul's have the right of appointment of the warden and rector as to one benefice. Two of the priests are to be appointed on the nomination of canons staglary'" of St Paul's, according to the custom of the church. William Elsyng reserves to himself the right of nomination of the other two priests. Any further priests he assigns should be admitted through the dean and chapter. The warden is to have responsibility for the cure of souls of the parish church of St Mary Aldermanbury and of those living in the hospital or admitted to the fraternity'" of the house. He is to swear fealty to the dean and chapter of St Paul's and promise that he will pay annually in perpetuity the ancient pension of one mark due to them from the church of St Mary Aldermanbury and, in addition, half a mark from the hospital, in token of subjection to St Paul's. All this is intended for the advantage of the church and hospital.


Canons bound to keep terms of residence.


firatemuatem ' ditelae d.omus admissarum '


New paragraph. Gives the dean and chapter the right of appointment of the warden and two priests instead of William Elsyng as in A4 and sets out the obligations to St Paul's. There is no role for the bishop in appointments as in A4, nor is provision made for appointments following William's death.

B3 Arrangements for St Mary Aldermanbury The rector/warden is to find, over and above the four priests in the college, a parish priest for St Mary Aldermanbury, to be approved by the dean and chapter. He is to serve the church diligently in accordance with the ancient custom of the church. The rector/warden must see that the parishioners are not in any way deprived of guidance or advice. New paragraph.

B4 Warden to be priest and neither warden nor priests to hold other benefices No one is to be appointed as warden or priest who is not a priest, nor anyone who possesses any other ecclesiastical benefice or office, unless he has resigned that office before his admission. If a benefice or office is acquired after admission, his right in the hospital lapses automatically, without the dean and chapter having to go through any judicial process. New paragraph.

B5 Appointments of warden and priests The dean and chapter of St Paul's have appointed John de Cateloigne, chaplain, who has no other benefices, as warden of the hospital, on the day this document was drawn up. He has taken the oath and is in possession of the hospital. William de Reynham, canon stagiary of St. Paul'sIS, has named Adam de Turri as chaplain and Thomas Seagrave, also canon stagiary'", has named William de St. Alban. William Elsyng has nominated Nicholas de Crodewerth and John de Redyng as the third and fourth priests. The dean and chapter have admitted all the priests and received their oaths. New paragraph. Appointees were named in A3. The warden and three of the priests are the same though the nominations are no longer all by William Elsyng. Adam de Turri appears to have taken the place of John Russel. IS

Prebendary of Oxgate from 1327 and chancellor on several occasions between 1329 and 1338, Fasti,

fR..IS and 52.

Prebendary of Port pool, occurs between 1329 and 1338, Fasti, p.56.


B6 William Elsyng's obligation and the rule of the hospital William Elsyng binds himself and his heirs in this document to maintain and protect the college and hospital against all comers on behalf of the dean and chapter, the warden and priests and their successors. But the rule by which the warden, priests and the poor people in the hospital are to live is, with the consent of the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, to be as expressed in this document. The sense of the first sentence, with the omission of the dean and chapter, is as A3. From here on the document sets out the rules of the hospital and is very similar to A512.

B7 Induction and oaths of warden and priests As A5 except that the following is included: The warden and priests are to swear that, when any of them has gained a benefice elsewhere, they will withdraw peacefully from the hospital and within three days will give up the right they had in the hospital, without any judicial process.

B8 The daily routine of the hospital As A6 except that the sentence requiring the warden to celebrate at the greater feasts is omitted.

B9 Management of the business of the hospital AsA7.

BI0 Clothing and payment for the warden and priests AsA8.

Btl Accounts and security arrangements As A9.

B12 Provisions for the inmates of the hospital As AID except that the/allowing

is included:

In filling a vacancy at the hospital, after blind and paralysed priests, those formerly well off and now debilitated by age or accidental impoverishment to be given preference.


813 Employment of clerks for services As All except that 40s is givenfor the wages. This may be to make clear that the 20s in All was for each clerk.

814 Other provisions for priests As A12.

D15 Witnessed and sealed by William Elsyng and city officials

In witness of all this, from their wish that this should be made public and at the request of William Elsyng, who has already attached his seal, the officials of London have attached their seal. Witnessed by John de Pulteney


then mayor of London, Robert de

Ely and Thomas Harwolde, then sheriffs of the same city18, Nicholas Farndone, Richard de Betoigne, John de Grantham, Simon de Swanlond, Henry Darcy, Reginald de Conduit, aldermen, Simon Fraunceys, Richard de Lacer, John de Shirbourne, John de Alysham, Nicholas atte Merssh, John atte Barnette and others. Dated London 1 June 1331 5 Edward III. Differs from Al3 not only in the date and witnesses. but also because on this occasion the London officials have sealed. not just witnessed the document.

C: Charter of William Elsyng witnessed by the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen and some citizens of London, sealed by him and the dean and chapter of St Paul's on 1 June 1331 and confirmed by the bishop of London on 19 July, 1331. Printed in Reading, pp. 702-6. Original was in possession of Sion College, which bought the site of Elsyngspital in 1627, but the whereabouts of the charter are not now known.

Cl Greetings from Stephen, bishop of London. AsA2



Mayor 1330-31 and 1331-32. Sheriffs 1330-31.


C2 Foundation

and endowment of the hospital, names of the warden and priests

and consents William Elsyng, citizen of London, has founded a house comprising a college of a warden and four secular priests and a hospital for wretched people, in honour of the Virgin Mary, in his tenements and houses in the parishes of St Alphage and St Mary Aldermanbury. He has endowed the house with all the tenements, houses and rents he has in the parishes of St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Alphage'" and St Martin Pomary, as set out in deeds and muniments in honour of God, the Virgin Mary, St. Paul and all the saints. The endowment will enable John de Cateloigne, warden of the hospital and John Russel, William de St. Alban, Vofrichus de Godskirche'" and John de Redyng, priests of the hospital and their successors to serve God and the blessed Mary and all the saints in the hospital in perpetuity in the manner set out below. He has the consent of the king, Stephen bishop of London, the dean and chapter of St Paul's, of Simon de Swanlond, mayor of the city of London and all the community of the city, and of John de Cateloigne, rector of St Alphage and his parishioners and William de Wyppingham, rector of St Mary Aldermanbury and his parishioners, as is set out in deeds and muniments. He makes the grant in pure and perpetual alms. He guarantees the property to the warden and priests and their successors against all comers, in so far as he can bind himself and his successors. This consists of parts of A3 and Bl. Theftrst two sentences follow Blexcept that the consents are omitted: they may have been there as Reading indicates he has omitted something as that point. Then the paragraph follows A3 closely, reinstating the names of the warden and priests in their original form. The reference to pure and perpetual alms is new.

C3 Appointment

of new warden and priests

In order to ensure that God is served well and for the relief of the wretched people, when any warden leaves or dies, William Elsyng will present a priest in his place to the dean and chapter of St Paul's within four months of the vacancy occurring, After

19 Reading. p.2, indicates that in the King's letters, which he does not print because he says they repeat this document, there is a reference to the parish of St. Mildred in Poultry at this point. Since such a reference does not appear in either of the surviving King's letters (versions D and E) this may suggest that there was yet another version which would have been very similar to E. 20 Reading, p.2, indicates that this is 'Crodewerth' in the King's letters. Versions A, Band D give 'Nicholas de Crodewerth' not 'Vofrichus de Godskirche'. E however has 'Nicholas de Godskirche'. As he is always a nominee of William Elsyng, it seems likely that these were all the same man, using a more anglicized version of his name.


William's death, the dean and chapter shall similarly present within four months. But after four months, if there has been no presentation, the choice shall fall to the bishop. The nomination of the priests is to be reserved to William Elsyng. This follows A4 but adapts it, introducing the dean and chapter instead of the bishop as the authority to whom William presents the warden and giving to them, not to the mayor and aldermen, the right of presentation after William's death. The reference to the bishop admitting new incumbents is omitted. This takes the place of B2 which gave the right of nomination of the warden and two priests to the dean and chapter.

C4 Appropriation of St Mary Aldermanbury The dean and chapter of St Paul's have, with the consent of Stephen bishop of London, appropriated and consolidated to the hospital the church of St Mary Aldermanbury. of which they are patrons. So the dean and chapter have the right of patronage in both hospital and church, both of them in perpetuity. The warden of the hospital is to swear fealty to the dean and chapter of St Paul's and to promise that he will pay annually, in perpetuity, the ancient pension of one mark due to them from the church of St Mary Aldermanbury and in addition half a mark from the hospital. The rector/warden must see that the parishioners are not deprived in any way of guidance or advice. This paragraph is culledfrom parts of B1, 2 and 3.1t says less about the unity of the two benefices, omits the reference to the new pension being a token of submission to St Paul's, and that these arrangement are allfor the benefit of the church and the hospital, and makes no reference to the appointment of a separate priest for the church. No parallel in the A text.

CS Warden to be priest and neither warden nor priests to hold other benefices As B4 but omitting reference to dean and chapter. No parallel in A text.


C6 The rule of the hospital The rule by which the warden, priests and wretched people in the hospital are to live is, with the consent of the bishop of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's, to be as expressed in this document. Last sentence of B6. No parallel in A text. The first sentence of B6 is at the end of e2, but with the reference to St Paul's omitted .The rule itself in paragraphs C7-14, largely follows the B version.

C7 Induction and oaths of warden and priests As B7. As A5 but for reference to other benefices.

C8 The daily routine of the hospital As B8. As A6 but for omission of reference to greater feasts.

C9 Management of the business of the hospital AsA7 andB8.

CIO Clothing and payment for the warden and priests As A8 and BIO.

CII Accounts and security arrangements As in A9 and Bll.

el2 Provisions for the inmates of the hospital As B 12. As Al 0 except for additional sentence about preference for people formerly well off and now in need.

Cl3 Employment of clerks for services As B13. As All but for 40s in place of 20s.

C14. Other provisions for priests As Al2 and B14.


CIS Witnessed and sealed by William Elsyng and the dean and chapter of St. Paul's In witness of all this, from their wish that this should be made public, William Elsyng

having attached his seal, the dean and chapter have attached their seal. Witnessed by John de Pulteney then mayor of London, Robert de Ely and Thomas Harwolde, then sheriffs of the same city, Nicholas Farndone, Richard de Betoigne, John de Grantham, Simon de Swanlond, Henry Darcy, Reginald de Conduit, aldermen, Simon Fraunceys, Richard de Lacer, John de Shirboume, John de Wyllesham,21 Nicholas atte Merrsh, John atte Barnette and others. Dated London, in the chapter house of St Paul's, I June 1331 5 Edward III. Similar to B15 but with the dean and chapter sealing instead of the city officials, who are now only witnesses, and the omission of the reference to the sealing being at William Elsyng' s request.

C16 Confirmation by Stephen Gravesend, bishop of London, 19 July 1331. Having carefully considered all this, the bishop considers that the deed and all that has gone before will lead to the increase of divine worship and the sustenance of wretched people and to the advancement of St Paul's and approves and confirms this on papal authority. The bishop calls upon others to relieve those living in the hospital and grants forty days indulgence to those who do so. He ratifies also any indulgence granted by any other bishop in England. The bishop's seal attached in witness of this, 14th Kalends of August22, 1331. The archdeacon of London and the dean and chapter of St Paul's agree that the archdeacon of London and his officials are not to exercise any authority over the hospital or its occupants: that authority will be exercised by the bishop and the dean and chapter. Similar to A14 but added references to St Paul's and archdeacon's authority and the date is later. No parallel in B text.

21 This seems 2219 July.

likely to be in fact 'Aylsham' as in all the other texts.


D: Charter of William Elsyng witnessed by the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen and some citizens of London, sealed by him and the dean and chapter of St Paul's 1 June 1331, confirmed by the bishop of London 19 July 1331 and ratified by Edward III 6 October 1331. Exists only as a copy in the Patent Rolls, TNA, C661176 ml7, calendared in CPR 13304 p.l73.

This charter begins with greetings from the king, as in Al,and then from the bishop of London, as in A2 and Cl. It then follows the B text from BI-6 and the B and C texts from B7-14 and C7-14, which are similar. The witnessing paragraph is as C15, the bishop's confirmation as C 16, exceptfor the omission of the references to the archdeacon of London. The king' s ratification, largely formulaic, is similar to A15 except for the date. So the substantial amendments to the way appointments were made and to some of the arrangementsfor

the appropriation made in the C text, C2-6, have

now been rejected and the B text restored. The largely formulaic opening and closing of the C text have been retained.

E: Charter of William Elsyng witnessed by the mayor, sheriffs, alderman and some citizens of London, sealed by him and the dean and chapter ofSt Paul's 1 June 1331, confirmed by the bishop of London 19 July 1331 and ratified by Edward III 6 October 1331. GL, MS25l2l/l226m.2-3

in the archive of St Paul's. The manuscript is a roll of three

membranes which also contains the appropriation of the church of St Mary Aldermanbury, presumably copies made for St Paul's. It is not sealed.

The charter begins, like D, with greetings from the king, as in AI, and the bishop of London, as in A2 and CI. But it then follows not the B text but the C text, C2-6. After that, as in D, it follows B7-14 and C7-14, which are similar. The witnessing paragraph and the king's confirmation are as in D, that is they follow C15 and 16 exceptfor the reference at the end to the archdeacon. The king' s ratification is similar to A 15 and D, except that there is no reference to the king' s father's soul. So, although purporting to be the same document as D, it in fact contains the changes made in the C text to the appointments of the warden and priests and the appropriation. There are therefore two alternative versions, both purporting to be copies of a lost original document.


Appendix 4 Properties acquired by William Elsyng or his hospital up to the time of his death in 1349, including those disposed of during that time. This Appendix gives brief notes of all the properties acquired by William Elsyng, or by Elsyngspital, up to the time of his death, apart from those which formed the site of the hospital, listed in Appendix 2. The shops rented by William are also excluded: properties listed were all owned by him or the hospital at some time during these years. Although William's will, translated in Appendix I, rehearsed the properties which comprised the hospital's endowment, individual properties are not easily identifiable, because most are located simply by parish. Under each parish, therefore, is an indication of whether property there appears in the will, what the rental value of property in that parish was in 1403-4 and whether property in that parish was in the rental of the hospital's possessions at the Dissolution, TNA, SC611304/8, SC6IHENVIIII2345. Properties acquired by William but known not to have formed part of the hospital's endowment are shown in italics. For convenient reference the properties have been numbered.

Properties in the area round the hospital

St. Mary Aldermanbury Property in this parish is mentioned in the founding charters, in William's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. Rental value of property in this parish was £18 13s 8d a year in 1403-4, but two new properties had been acquired since William's death.

1Tenements with houses and gardens in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury, on the comer of Gayspore Lane and the road along the wall, opposite the hospital, i.e. on the east side of the lane. In 1329 John de Shirboume acquired a life interest in the property from Bartholomew de Castello of Thorp Muryens in Suffolk. In 1330 Castello quitclaimed the property to William Elsyng, suggesting it was in William's possession. In the same year John de Shirboume transferred to William his life interest in a property owned by Castello in the same parish, probably this one. In 1333 William contracted to pay Castello five marks annually for the life interest from 1338, Shirboume having already paid a lump sum for the first eight years. Castello confirmed the transfer to William in perpetuity, the five marks being secured on William's properties in St


Lawrence Lane. Castello had had the property on reversion from a William de Carleton who had had a life interest from another Bartholomew de Castello, rector of Holbeach, who had left the property for charitable purposes in his will, if his heirs died without issue. William set up a chantry in his will for both William de Carleton and Castello the rector of Holbeach, suggesting they were benefactors and that this was not an entirely commercial transaction. TNA, LRI4/357, LRI4/S23; LMA, HR61115, HRS8/69, HR61119, HR61/99, HR 26/9, HR40/11; TNA, LRlS/163.

2 A tenement with houses and gardens in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury, which William had from Bartholomew de Castello. It fronted on to the east side of Gayspore Lane, but not the road by the wall, the tenement of John de Shirboume and the gardens of the hospital lying to the north. William disposed of this property to Michael Myngihot, vintner, in 1336 and acquiredfrom

him a property in Honey Lane, property

32, the following month. William retained a room over the gate in which John de Shirboume had a life interest. In 1343 however William gave up his rights in this life interest, now described as two rooms and a garden. On the same day, Shirboume made over to the hospital a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury and 40s quitrent to support it, see properties 3 and 16, TNA, LR141124, copied into the Husting, LMA, HR 64123,' LMA, HR64121, HR70120, HR70121.

3 Tenements in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury, once belonging to William de Carleton, left by him to Hervy his cook in 1311 to set up a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury for himself and Bartholomew de Castello, together with 40s quitrent from a tenement in St Michael Bassishaw, property 16. Both were transferred to John de Shirbourne and his wife, who was Hervy's daughter, in 1324, with an obligation to set up the chantry as in de Carleton's will. In 1343, Shirbourne made over to the hospital the 40s annual rent, property 16, to support a chantry in the hospital. There is no mention of the St Mary Aldermanbury property, but 40s would have been inadequate for the chantry and William Elsyng's will refers to a tenement in St Mary Aldermanbury once belonging to William de Carleton which, with a Bassishaw property, property IS, was to support a chantry for de Carleton and de Castello, so it seems likely it was already in William's possession, LMA, HR,40/11, HR40/20, HR52162, HR70/20; TNA, LRI5/163.


4 Land with houses in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury. on the west side of Gayspore Lane. with William Elsyng's tenements to the north and south. Acquired by the warden and priests of the hospital in October 1331 from Matthew de Branketre and his wife Alice. LMA. HR591101.

5 Land with houses in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury. just south of the bounds of the hospital in Gayspore Lane. acquired in 1338 by William Elsyng from William de Depham, attorney to St Bartholomew's priory. whose prior confirmed the transaction in 1339. Previously occupied by Stephen de Clopton. janitor to the priory: the bishop's inquest in November 1330 referred to Stephen le Porter's property as being at the limit of the hospital at that time.' A mortmain licence was obtained in 1339. This property was said to be worth. together with property 6. 26s per annum less 13s 4d quitrent to Matilda de Hales and 2s to the nuns of Haliwell, 13s 4d per annum allowed for repairs. TNA. LRI4/561. CI43/250/13; CPMR,1323-64, p.187; CPR 1338-40,p.321.

6 Land with houses in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury. in Gayspore Lane between two tenements of the hospital. with the hospital's garden to the west. Acquired by William Elsyng from Matilda de Hales and her children in 1339. William gave in return a quitrent of 13s 4d secured on his brewery in St Lawrence Lane. see property 23. A mortmain licence was obtained in 1339. value given under property 5. In 1349 Matilda's executor gave up title to land with houses. which the hospital had had from an unspecified sum of money paid on the last wishes of Stephen de Hales: Stephen had left tenements in Gayspore Lane to Matilda for life. remaindered, if the children died without heirs. for charitable causes. Assuming this is the same property this appears to be at least in part a gift to the hospital. TNA. LR14/485. LR14/524. LR14/525. LR14/528. CI43/250/13; CMPR,1323-64, p.187; CPR 1338-40, p.321; TNA. LRI4/479. copied into the Husting, LMA, HR771157; LMA. HR 61n8.

7 Tenement in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury. stretching from the royal road opposite Philip Lane in the north to the cemetery of the church of St Mary Aldermanbury in the south. It seems likely that the road 'ex opposito Philiplane' was Adel Street to the south of the hospital. In 1342 Sir John de Montgomery granted the hospital in pure alms the reversion of the tenement after the death of John de Bston, 1 Appendix



clerk, to whom Montgomery had granted it for life. He asked for a chantry for one canon more than the four already in the hospital. In 1359 Thomas de Eston, mercer, granted the property to Elsyngspital: he had had the property from John de Eston who had presumably died. So the property did not reach Elsyngspital until after William Elsyng's death and certainly there is no mention of the chantry in his will. It is possible, however, that the hospital received some income from the property in Eston's lifetime. There are two versions of the 1342 deed granting the reversion to the hospital, TNA, LR 14/559 and LR1411167. The former has a seal and looks like the final copy. The latter is

a cirograph and has alterations in it. It originally provided for a 5 marks annual payment for life from John de Eston, which Montgomery was going to give to the hospital. This has been scored through and does not appear in LR14/559, TNA, LR14/559, LR14/1167, LR14/1168, LR14/530,


St Alpbage Property in this parish is mentioned in the founding charters, in William's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. Rental value in 1403-4 was £26 lOs 4d a year, but two new properties had been acquired since William's death.

8 Land with houses and shops in the parish of St Alphage, on the west side of Philip Lane, on the comer with the road along the wall i.e. opposite the hospital. Acquired by the hospital in 1337 from Matilda la Bakere. A mortmain licence was obtained in October 1339. This property and property 9 together were said to be worth 60s a year, with quitrents of 12d to the prior of St Mary without Bishopsgate, 20s to John de Hegham and 18d to the Crutched Friars. Repairs for the two properties estimated at 20s a year. In 1345 John de Hegham sold his quitrent to the prior and convent of the hospital and William Elsyng, LMA, HR64I109; TNA, C143/250/13;CPR 1338-40, p.321; CPMR 1323-64, p.187; LMA, HR72142.

9 Property in the parish of St Alphage once belonging to Thomas de Eu in William Elsyng's possession by October 1339, when he obtained a mortmain licence for it. Valued with property 8, TNA, C143/250/13; CPR 1338-40. p.321; CMPR 1323-64, p.187.

10 Tenements and gardens in the parish of St Alphage, on the west side of Philip Lane opposite the hospital, with an entry through to Wood Street, once owned by John Payn,


brasier, who had died in 1329, and bought by William Elsyng in 1340 from Robert atte Welle, John's son, who had acquired them from John's executors. Payn had left his tenements to his wife, Margery, remaindered to his daughters Katherine and Matilda and then for pious uses, so this may not have been a purely commercial transaction. A rent of 3s a year was paid to Holy Trinity priory from a property in St Alphage by John Payn, then by William Elsyng in1332 and then by the prior of the hospital. If this was the same property, William must have been renting it before the 1340 purchase, LMA, HR59150, HR681l, HR701l03; The Cartulary of Holy Trinity Aldgate, ed. Gerald A.J.

Hodgett (London Record Society, 1971), p.133, no 679. 11Tenements in the parish of St Alphage, in Philip Lane, once owned by Robert de Cherringe, fruiterer. In 1331 he left them in his will to be sold by his executors, but William Elsyng challenged the will, claiming that he had a charter of enfeoffment for the tenements from Robert for the hospital long before Robert's death and he was able to produce the document in court upholding his claim. William guaranteed to set up a chantry for Robert and Matilda his wife as the enfeoffment document had required. The tenements and the chantry were mentioned in William's will, LMA, HR 58/121,59113; TNA, LR151l63. 12Tenement with houses in the parish of St Alphage, in Philip Lane on the same side as the hospital with a tenement belonging to the hospital to the north and the garden of the hospital to the east. It was bought by William Elsyng in 1343 from John de Northall, clerk, and Alicia de Writele his wife, LMA, HR 70199. 13 Quitrent of 50s per annum from properties belonging to William Elsyng and the

priests of the hospital in Philip Lane and Gayspore Lane (the latter in the parish of St. Mary Aldermanbury). Given with properties 25, 35 and 36 to the hospital and William Elsyng in 1332 by William Gayton, tabourer and herald. Part of the total rents from the properties was to be used to buy each year on Trinity Sunday suits of clothes costing 2s 3d each for thirty blind or paralysed people at the hospital. It was also to provide a chantry for the souls of William Gayton, his wife Ada, his father and mother and Richard his brother. There is a reference to a charter of enfeoffment which sets this out in detail. When Gayton died he left other property to the hospital, see property 39. A chantry for Gayton was set up under William Elsyng's will, but it was funded from his


St Lawrence Lane properties, 17 and 19. There is no later mention of the clothes, LMA, HR60/57.

14 Property in the parish of St Alphage, on the comer of Monkwell Street and the road opposite the city wall. Bought by William Elsyng from Richard Coprest de Syvelesho in October 1329for 50 marks sterling, on condition that William set up a chantry for Thomas de Bedford at a place and time of William's own choosing. Presumably Richard Coprest had the property from Bedford's executors,for

in January 1331

William Elsyng was summonsed by Bedford's executors to execute his testament. William sold a property in a very similar location in 1337 to Sir John Darci le Cosyn. The Bedford chantry does not appear in William's will, LMA, HR571112, CP541l2C, HR64/49, 64/50.

St Michael Bassishaw Property in this parish is mentioned in William's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. Rental value (not including quitrents) in 1403-4 was £3 Is a year and one new property had been acquired since William Elsyng' s death.

15 Tenements in the parish of St Michael Bassishaw, left to the hospital in William Elsyng's will. They had once belonged to William de Carleton and William Elsyng used them and de Carleton's St Mary Aldermanbury tenement, property 3, to endow a chantry for Bartholomew de Castello and William de Carleton. There is some doubt about this property: see property 16, TNA, LR151l63.

16 A quitrent of 40s a year from a tenement on the west of Bassishaw Street, south of the church of St Michael Bassishaw, acquired by William Elsyng from John de Shirboume, see property 3.2 This was to support a chantry in St Mary Aldermanbury church for William de Carleton and Bartholomew de Castello, who had originally owned the rent. The quitrent is not mentioned in William Elsyng's will: not all quitrents are specified there but given the absence of other evidence for property 15 it is possible that the reference to tenements should have been to this quitrent. LMA, HR 40/20, HR26/9, HR401l1, HR41120, HR70/20. 2 In London Guildhall the property from which this quitrent came is tenement 17, p.1S8. It is identified in London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LARC, Museum of London) project archive 'Documentary analysis', Tony Dyson, 2004, tenement 17 (1270-1350).


Property in the parishes round Cheapside St Lawrence Jewry Property in this parish is mentioned in the founding charters, in William's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. In 1403-4 property there (excluding quitrents) was valued at £39 lOs a year. 17 Land with houses, one with two shops and a cellar, in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, on the east side of St Lawrence Lane, lying next to two pieces of land already owned by William Elsyng. It was acquired by William in May 1320 from Walter de Cavendish, mercer. In October William made an agreement with John de Rokesle, dyer and Alice his wife, widow of Peter of Norwich, for free entry and exit to St Lawrence Lane from his new tenement, suggesting that he was building on the site. In 1328 William was said at a mortmain inquest to have two tenements in St Lawrence Lane valued at £15 lOs gross a year. Deductions for quitrents, including lOs to the hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate, lOs to the convent of Haliwell and 6s 8d to John Chamberlayn, gave a net annual value of £11. This valuation seems likely to have included this tenement but William owned two other tenements in the same area at this time (properties 18 and 19). This property was specifically mentioned in William's will as, with propertyl9, supporting a chantry for William de Gayton and his wife Ada, who were benefactors of the hospital, see properties 13,25,35,36 and 39. It was probably the property leased to John Edmund, ex-apprentice to Robert Elsyng, forfeit to his creditors in 1356 and which the hospital had to go to court to get restored to it, see Chapter 4, LMA, HR 48/92; TNA, LR 14/1165, entered in the court of Husting, LMA, HR 49/46; TNA, C143/201l19, LR 15/163, C 131110/24;CCR 1369-74, p.295. 18 Land with houses in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, on the east side of St

Lawrence Lane to the north of the property William already owned, presumably property 17, which also bordered it on the east. Acquired by William Elsyng from John Chamberlayn and Alice his wife in March 1322 for a certain sum. William had already, in Februaryl322, bought a quitrent of half a mark a year on the property from William de Southam, vicar of St Lawrence Jewry and in 1330 bought one of one mark a year from John Chamberlayn. The latter deed says that the original property had been granted 'ex dono feoffomentis nostris', so there may have been some charitable


contribution. For possible valuation in 1328 see property 17. LMA, HR50/141; TNA, LR 14/1166, 1159, copied into the court of Husting LMA, HR 58/109. 19 Two tenements in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, in St Lawrence Lane once owned by Peter of Norwich. It seems likely that they were the tenements referred to under property 17, through which William Elsyng had had to secure access to his new tenement. By May 1328 they belonged to William, when Richard son of Peter gave up all rights in them. William would already have owned them by the time of the 1328

mortmain inquest, so perhaps they were included in the valuation, see property 17 above. From these tenements William paid six marks annually to Hugh Stoke and his wife Alice, money which, after their deaths, was to go to fund a perpetual chantry for them and others. There is no reference to this chantry in William's will so possibly the Stokes were still alive in 1349. In 1337 William bought half a mark quitrent from these tenements from Peter de Herlawe, potter, whose wife Joanna was a granddaughter of Peter of Norwich. With property 17 these tenements supported a chantry for William de Gayton and his wife Ada, see property 13, LMA, HR 56n7, HR58/35, HR65/28. 20 Tenements, shops and solars in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, lying on the east side of St Lawrence Lane, bounded by property which used to belong to John Potyn on the south and east and the tenements of John Preston girdler to the north. Acquired by William Elsyng in June 1337 from John Cristian, known as Marchaunt, glovemaker. A mortmain licence for the hospital to acquire the property was granted in 1338. With two other St Lawrence Lane properties, 21 and 22, it was said to be worth £6 lOs gross a year but they were burdened with quitrents: l ls to John de Preston, 20s to Sibilla Potyn, 16s to St Mildred Bread Street, 4s to St Lawrence Jewry, 48 to St Sepulchre, 7s to the heirs of David Ie Foundour, 6s to Richard Betoyne, 6s 8d to Henry Gisors, 13s to Matilda de Leyre and 4s to St Mildred in Poultry. For repairs 30s a year was allowed, producing a deficit of 8s 4d. There was also a payment of 4 marks a year to John Marchaunt for life, presumably part of the deal to buy the property. William Elsyng paid 128annual quitrent from this property froml344 to Sir Arnold Sauvage of Kent, who had relinquished his claim on the properties in which the hospital was built: presumably William had had to secure his title. This property was confirmed as being in the hospital's possession in 1443, when it was the subject of a court case over a quitrent and in 1456 when two quitrents from it were bequeathed to the hospital by William


Flete, LMA, HR 64172, HR64173; TNA, C143/247/14 and CMPR1323·81, pp.182; TNA, LR14/94 entered in the court of Husting, LMA, HR71171; LMA, HR71174;

Poss.Ass., p.118; CPR 1451·56, p.285. 21 Houses, shops and rents in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, on the east side of St Lawrence Lane. William Elsyng's tenement, perhaps property 20, and that of Richard de Lacer, were to the north, the tenements of Nicholas Reygate and Juliana de Kelesie to the south and that which once belonged to David le Foundour to the east. William acquired them in 1337 from Nicholas Potyn, deacon of Thomeby and citizen of London, but they had belonged to John Potyn, girdler who had died in 1332 and then to Sibilla his widow. This property was covered by the 1338 mortmain licence, see property 20, LMA, HR 641145.

22 Houses, shops and solars in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry, on the east side of St Lawrence Lane, lying south and west of property 21 and north of Juliana de Kelesie's property. In 1337 William Elsyng acquired the property from Nicholas de Reygate, girdler, who had it from John Potyn. This property was covered by the mortmain licence of 1338, see property 20, LMA, HR 641130.

23 A brewery lying to the south of William Elsyng's tenements and shops in St Lawrence Lane. In 1339 William granted a quitrent of 13s 4d per annum from this brewery to Matilda de Hales and then to her children and their heirs when he acquired her tenement close to the hospital, property 6, TNA, LR14/485.

24 Quitrents on tenements in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry in St Lawrence Lane, owned by Nicholas de Reygate. In 1345 William acquired a quitrent of six and a half marks a year from Nicholas and Henry de Reygate and in 1347 three marks a year quitrent from Henry de Reygate who had itfrom Nicholas. These rents were subsequently left by William to his son Robert, the six and a half marks being for the remainder of its term only. Robert left the three marks to his son Thomas, remaindered to the nuns of Cheshunt, to whom Thomas left it in 1431, LBF, p.J36,· LMA, HR7416,' TNA, LR151163,' LMA, HR7B1201, HRI60I7,


St Mary Ie Bow Property in this parish is mentioned in William Elsyng's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. In 1403-4 property there was valued at £25 9s 4d a year. A small amount of property had been acquired since 1349. 2S A shop and a cellar running beneath the shop and others in the parish of St Mary le

Bow, on the comer of St Lawrence Lane and West Chepe. The cellar was owned by William de Gayton in 1325, but William Elsyng was paying rent to St Bartholomew's hospital for the shop at some point before 1336-37, when he was in full possession of it. In 1332 Gayton made over a number of properties to William (the others were 13,35

and 36), including his rents in St Lawrence Lane, which may have been this property. Both cellar and shop are listed in William Elsyng's will as having come from William Gayton, tabourer, for whom William set up a chantry, see property 17. Valued at £3 2s 8d a year in 1403-4, Gazetteer, property 104/37, LMA, HR 60/57; TNA, LR15/163, SC61l304/8. 26 Two tenements in the parish of St Mary Ie Bow in Cordwainer Street (later Bow Lane). This was a large property with frontage on Cordwainer Street and an exit to a small lane running into Soper Lane. It measured 175 feet from east to west and seventy five feet north to south on the Cordwainer frontage, and deeper further back. There were always several units on the property, including at least one very substantial residence. It was acquired by Richard de Elsyngjust before his death in 1332. Richard's will provided for William (or the warden and priests of the hospital if he were dead) to have first refusal of the property at £60 and the income from the property was to fund a ten-

year chantry for Richard, his wife, mother and father and brothers and sisters. The property was sold to William by the executors in 1333 and WiUiam gave the properties to the hospital in 1334. The deed refers to a sum having been paid by the executors of Thomas de Kynyngham and a chantry was to be set up for de Kynyngham and his executor, William de Carleton, (for whom see properties 1,3, and 16) so presumably they provided some of the money to pay for the property. A mortmain licence was obtained for this property in 1334, when it was valued at £4 7s 8d per annum clear, which suggests it must have been fairly heavily encumbered (there was for example a rent to Canterbury Cathedral of 50s a year). Part of the property was let to John de Holegh draper in 1347 for £10 a year, £20 in advance on a five year lease renewable for another five. These terms were the same as those granted to John de Kelyngworth, a


former tenant. In 1345 John, the son of Idonia, daughter of John Armentiers, quitclaimed William of a rent of 14s 4d a year he had held on the property, so presumably William had cleared off one of the encumbrances. The property is specifically mentioned in William's will, where it supported a chantry for Thomas de Kynyngham (William de Carleton had been provided for separately) and William's brother-in-law Geoffrey de Brandon, whose executor William was, so some of the money may have come from his estate. The property was valued at £20 6s 8d a year in the 1403-4 rental, Gazetteer, 104/23 and the contribution by Derek Keene in John Schofield, Patrick Allen and Colin Taylor, eds, 'Medieval Buildings and Property Development in the area of Cheapside', TLMAS, 41 (1990), pp.89-112;TNA, LRl4/139, 141519, duplicates, copied into court of Husting, LMA, HR60/26; LMA, HR60/93;

TNA, LRI4/1150; LMA, HR62160; TNA, CI43/231/3 and CPR 1330-4, pp.539-40; TNA, LR14/552, LR14/1149, LR15/163, SC6/1304/8. 27 Quitrent of 8s 8d a year from a tenement owned by the Minoresses in the parish of St Mary le Bow, on the east side of Cordwainer Street, a little to the north of property 25, acquired by William Elsyng from John Braz in 1335, a sum of money having changed hands. The rent passed to the hospital, though it is not specifically mentioned in William's will. It is probably the 8s 8d annual rent listed in later rentals, in 1448 and 1536, TNA, LR 14/93; Gazetteer property 104/24C; BL, CCxiiilO; TNA, SC61HENVIIII2345. St Martin Pomary Property in this parish is mentioned in the founding charters and Ironmonger Lane is recorded as a location in William Elsyng's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. The rental value of the property (excluding quitrents) was £9 a year in 1403-4. 28 Tenement in the parish of St Martin Pomary, on the comer of Ironmonger Lane and West Chepe. Granted by John Braz in June 1330 to the poor blind of the hospital in pure alms for the souls of his father and mother. In 1338 William bought a quitrent of two marks a year on this property from Richard de Betoyne. The property is mentioned in the hospital's rental at the Dissolution, LMA, HR58/68, 65/8; Gazetteer, property 95118.


29 Quitrent of 30s a year, in perpetuity, from property in the parish of St Martin Pomary on lronmonger Lane, lying to the north of property 28. John Braz granted it to the poor blind of the hospital in 1330 for the souls of Adam Braz, his father and Tiffanie his mother. The quitrent is specifically referred to in William's will but is not identifiable from later rentals, LMA, HR 58/68; Gazetteer. property 95/17; TNA, LRI5/163.

St Mildred in Poultry Property in this parish is mentioned in William Elsyng's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. The rental value of property here (excluding quitrents) was £8 a year in 1403-4.

30 Three shops in the parish of St Mildred Poultry on Poultry, one to the east of a shop

owned by John de Bradele and two to the west, bought by Richard de Elsyng in 1329. When Richard died in 1332, he left his Poultry property to his wife Sabina for her life or until she remarried, with reversion to the hospital: she was remarried by 1335. The property was then to support a perpetual chantry for himself, Sabina and his father and mother, brothers and sisters. Richard's property in Poultry is mentioned in William's will and so is the chantry, LMA, HR58/1, HR60/93; LBE. p.295; TNA, LR 15/163.

31 Three quitrents in the parish of St Mildred in Poultry, one for 16s a year from the shop of John de Bradele on Poultry, see property 30, one for lOs a year from the tenements of John de Mymmes in Conyhop Lane and the third for 22s 8d a year from the tenement of Robert Mouton. These rents would have gone to Richard de Elsyng's widow, Sabina, under the terms of his will, see property 30, and then to the hospital when she remarried. The last two are mentioned specifically in William's will, though there the payment from Mouton's tenement is said to be worth only 20s 8d a year. Quitrents in the Poultry were listed in the rental at the time of the Dissolution of lOs and 22s 8d a year, LMA, HR 58/1, HR60/93; TNA, LR 15/163. SC6IHENVIIII2345.

All Hallows, Honey Lane Property in this parish is mentioned in William's will and in the rental at the Dissolution. The rental value in 1403-4 was £10 16s 8d a year.

32 A tenement with shops lying in the parish of All Hallows, Honey Lane, on the comer of Honey Lane and West Chepe, in the market of Westchepe, stretching back to the cemetery of the church of All Hallows, Honey Lane. Acquired by William Blsyng from


Michael Myngihot, vintner, in December 1336. The purchase may have been part of a larger deal, as William had sold Myngihot a property in St Mary Aldermanbury, property 2, only the previous month. A mortmain licence was acquired in 1338 in which this property and property 33 were valued at £13 lOs gross annually with quitrents of £6 to the nuns of Clerkenwell on this property and 60s to the Domus Conversorum, 36s to the canons of Merton and 4s to the nuns of St Helens on property 33. 30s annually were allowed for repairs. Myngihot had bought the property from Juliana widow of Thomas Romeyn and this sale was confirmed by Thomas Romeyn's executors in 1335. Despite this, the heirs of Thomas Romeyn challenged the hospital's right to it after William's death and the hospital lost the property, see Chapter 4, LMA. HR64/21; TNA, LR 14/l24,copied into the court of Husting LMA, HR64/23;TNA,

C143/247/l4 and CMPR 1323-81. p.182; LMA. HR64/l2; Gazetteer, property 1116. 33 Land with houses and three shops in the parish of All Hallows, Honey Lane, lying next to property 32 on the east. Acquired by William Elsyng in 1338 from John de la Pole apothecary. Included in the 1338 mortmain licence, see property 32 above for details of value and charges. Mentioned in the hospital's rental at the Dissolution. LMA, HR 65/83; TNA, C143/2471l4 and CMPR 1323-81,p.182; Gazetteer, property lin.

Property in other areas of London

34 A tenement and rents in the parish of St Stephen Coleman, on the west side of

Coleman Street, granted to the hospital by John de Sabrichesworth and his wife Alicia Gentil. William Elsyng, acting for the warden and priests of the hospital. sold the property in 1331 to Philip Gentil senior. fellmonger, for seventy two marks. The money was to buy six marks annual quitrent to support a perpetual chantry for the health of John de Sabricheswortk and the souls of Alicia Gentil his wife, John Gentil, Roger le Purser, and Matilda Salomon. It looks as though this was a transaction within the family, perhaps on Alicia's death. and it had not been the intention that the hospital retain the property. There is no mention of this chantry in William's will, LMA. HR59/J52.

35 Rents in the parish of St Mary Staining, in Staining Lane. given to the hospital and

William Elsyng by William Gayton, tabourer, with properties 13.25 and 36, in 1332 to


support a charitable bequest and chantry ,see property 13. Sold by William in May 1338 to Gilbert de Stayndrop, goldsmith, and Joanna his wife, who had the property next door, LMA, HR60/57, HR65/99. 36 Three shops in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, in Whitecross Street, granted to the hospital and William Elsyng by William Gayton, tabourer, in 1332. Gayton also gave other properties, 13, 25 and 35, all to support a charitable gift and a chantry, see property 13. William Elsyng left this property to the hospital in his will, but the chantry set up for Gayton was provided by William's St Lawrence Lane properties 17 and 19. A tenement in Whitecross Street was let for 24s per annum in 1403-4 and a tenement there was let for 4s per annum in 1536, but there is no indication whether this was the same property, LMA, HR 60/57; TNA, SC6/1304/8, SC6IHENVIIII2345.

37 A messuage and land in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, in Whitecross Street, acquired by William Elsyng from Margarete Sprotman and sold in 1343 for a certain sum to John de Wynchestre, joiner, and his wife Katherine. In addition to paying for the property they were to give one silver penny in perpetuity to the hospital annually on the feast of the Assumption. There is no mention of the penny in thefifteenth century accounts nor in Katherine's will, where she left the property to be sold for pious causes, LMA, HR 71/38, HR76/119. 38 Quitrent of 4s annually from a property in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, on the east side of Grubb Street, held by Robert Fraunceys, granted to the hospital in 1331 by Isabella, widow of John de Lytere, in pure and perpetual alms. This property is not mentioned in William's will. But in 1430 a long standing dispute with the Abbot of Westminster over title to this quitrent was resolved in the hospital's favour. This .and the fact that her documents were in the hospital's archive, suggest that this rent had belonged to the hospital throughout this period, though there is no specific mention of it in any of the rentals, TNA, LR14/196, LR 14/95.

39 Tenements, shops and gardens in the parish of St Botolph without Aldersgate, left to the hospital in 1337 by William Gayton, tabourer, who had earlier given the hospital properties 13, 25, 35 and 36. The property was to support a chantry for himself and his Wife Ada. William Elsyng was one of his executors and William Elsyng, junior, a


wltness/ At the two mortmain inquests in 1338 and 1339 William Elsyng was said to own two tenements in the parish of St Botolph without Aldersgate, almost certainly these. They were worth £8 a year with one quitrent to the hospital of 2s, net £7 11s 4d after allowing for repairs. In his will William left these tenements to his son Robert, endowing Gayton's chantry instead from his own tenements in St Lawrence Lane, properties 17 and 19, LMA, HR 64131; TNA, C143/247114, C143/2S0113, LR1S/163.

40 Tenements in the parish of All Hallows, Gracechurch Street, on the west of the royal road, bought by William Elsyng in January 1319 from the executors of Richard de Hormede.

William acquired with them a 40s annual quitrent. At least one of the

tenements was still in William's possession in 1328, when the mortmain inquest on the property in which the hospital was built valued it at lOSs gross per annum. There was a quitrent of 5s to the wardens of the London Bridge and 14s to 1donea la Blunt leaving a net annual value of £4 after allowing for repairs. It appears from the will of Walter de Lyndewade in 1349 that William had sold to him the tenement and the one next door, retaining an annual quitrent of 40s, see property 41. Action for dower was taken against William Elsyng by the widow of Stephen Asshwy, who had once owned the second tenement, in 1343, so he was probably still in possession at that time, LMA, HR 47n3, HR47n4; TNA, C143/201l19; LMA, HR 761185, CP67/4F, CP67nE.

41 Quitrent of 408 a year from the tenement in Gracechurch Street, property 40, which William had sold to Walter de Lyndewade, retaining the quitrent from Lyndewade, which he left to the hospital in his will. This cannot be identified in later rentals, but in 1452 the prior sold a quitrent for 40s a year in the parish of All Hallows Gracechurch St for a term of 300 years, TNA, LR15/163; BL, Roya117BXLVII f.75.

42 Tenement in the parish of St Andrew Holborn, on the south side of Holborn, which was in William's possession in 1338 and 1339, for the mortmain inquests in those years valued this property at 100s gross annually. There was a quitrent of 3s 4d to St Pa141's and an allowance of6s 8dfor repairs leaving a net annual value of £4108. He sold the tenement in 1340 to Thomas de Bryncheslee and Joanna his wife, TNA, C143/247114, C143/2S0IJ3,' LMA, HR67161.

There is no evidence of what if any William de Elsyng junior's relationship was with William Elsyn, senior, see Chapter 1.



43 Two tenements in the parish of St Benedict in Woodwharf, which William left to the hospital in his will. He also set up a chantry from tenements in the parish of St Peter in Woodwharf, which once belonged to master Ralph de Holbech. Since these are neighbouring parishes and neither the tenements nor Ralph have been referred to in any earlier documents and St Peter in Woodwharf does not appear in any later ones, it seems likely that these are connected, and probably the same tenements. The chantry was for Ralph, for Sir Geoffrey de Holbech, Dionisia his wife, his mother, William, John, Simon, Thomas and Antony Bek.4 The connection may be through Bartholomew de Castello (property 1), who was rector of Holbeach and for whom William also set up a chantry. In 1353 a property in the parish of St Benedict in Baynard's Castle was leased to Sir Robert Marny. In 1403-4 a property in the ward of Baynard's Castle, which could have been this property, was valued at £8 a year, but it does not appear in later rentals, TNA, LR151163; LBG, p.16; TNA, SC611304/8

44 Tenement in the parish of St Botolph without Aldgate, in East Smithfield, once belonging to Simon de Mereworthe. William gave up title to this property to Thomas de Heywood, Sara his wife, daughter of Richard de Paris and Thomas their son in 1341. Heywood paid a sum of money for the goods and work of the hospital and the deed is dated from the hospital. It looks as though this was a property owned by William or the hospital which he had sold for cash for the hospital, TNA, E210/5125.

4S A tenement with shop, solars and pieces of land in the parish of St Clements, on the west side of St Clements Lane next to Candlewick Street. William Elsyng acquired this from William Shakelok de Braughyngg and Alice de Morton his wife in 1347. In 1348 William quitclaimed Geoffrey le Botiller draper of this property, of which Geoffrey was then in possession, so he had evidently sold it on, LMA, HR75/60, HR75/93.

46 A tenement with houses, shops and a piece of land in the parish of St Sepulchre

outside Newgate, on the east of Old Bailey with the royal road to the north and south. It was granted to William and the priests in 1336 by Margaret widow of William de Lughteburgh, In return there was to be a perpetual chantry for William, Margaret's husband, for his father and mother and for John, her father and Joan. her mother. Three weeks after the date of this deed William transferred back to her all the property except


Bishop of Durham, see Chapter 2.


for two shops to the rear in the south. She was to keep it for her lifetime, plus one month for her executors. She was probably still alive when William died for there is no property in St Sepulchre listed in his will. In the 1403-4 rental however there is property worth 40s per annum in this parish, but some more had been acquired in the meantime, LMA, HR 631145, HR63/146; TNA, SC6/1304/S.


AppendixS Wardens and priors of Elsyngspital The references described are all those where the individual is mentioned by name, with the exception of William Elsyng, whose life is described morefully in Chapter 1. Occasionally, where it is particularly significan.t a reference to 'the prior' may be included: where this is so it is made clear in the text.


John de Cateloigne, occurs 1330-31. Appointed as 'custos', that is 'warden', in all

versions of the founding deeds, 1330-31.1 No other reference to him as warden of the hospital has been found. A John de Cateloigne was also rector of St Alphage from 132435, exchanging his benefice for one in Cambridgeshire in 1335.2 These may have been the same man: the coincidence of the two names seems unlikely. On the other hand the founding deeds forbade the warden to hold any other office and say clearly that John de Cataloigne did not do so. And the John de Cateloigne rector of St Alphage is mentioned by name in two of the copies of the founding deed not far from the reference to John de Cateloigne, warden, without any indication that he was the same man. Possibly there could have been a local family of that name, although no trace has been found. It was John de Cateloigne, the rector, who made the agreement with William Elsyng in 1329 freeing the hospital and its inmates and its property in the parish from all contributions to the parish, an agreement which was the source of dispute on this subject many years later.' If they were not the same man, the date of the departure of John de Cateloigne from the hospital is not known, but he may have gone by 1338 when there is a reference to a 'magister' being in charge of the priests (see below)." William Elsyng, up to his death in 1349. The founder was very closely associated

with the hospital during his lifetime and carried out many of the functions that would otherwise have fallen to the warden or prior, particularly in relation to dealings in property. Although generally referred to as founder, he is occasionally calJed 'custos'. for example in the 1338 letter from the bishop of London to the dean and chapter of St.

See Appendix 3. 2Repertorium, pp.60 and 86; Registrum Radulphi Baldock Gilberti Seagrave Ricard; Newport" Stephan; Gravesend, ed. R.C.Fowler (Canterbury and York Society 7. London. 1911). pp.236 and 306. 3 LMA, HR 57/108; TNA, C1I1Il00-105. 4 BL, CCxi33. 1


Paul's about the conversion to a priory.' This letter also refers to a 'magister' in charge of the priests, but that is the only such reference. During William's lifetime only one other person is identified as being in charge of the hospital, John de Cateloigne (see above). Although the paperwork for the conversion of the hospital into a priory was completed by 1343, no prior is named until after William's death and his will implies that the change had still to take place." William could not technically have been 'custos' or prior (although John Stow refers to him in the sixteenth century as prior) because he was never in orders," It seems likely therefore that there was always someone else there to perform at least the spiritual functions, but that William had the overall directton,"

Priors All references to ordinations arefrom Davis, CD Rom and her 'personid' number, which identifies those appearing more than once in the lists as the same man, is given. 9 The lists cover the periodfrom 1361, but with breaks from 1375-81, because the register of William Courtenay, bishop of London is missing andfrom 1450-1489, because the register of Thomas Kempe, bishop of London, lacks its ordination section. 10

John de Wyndesore, occurs from 1351, gone by 1357. He may also, though not mentioned by name, have been the prior charged with a couple of missions in papal letters in 1350. II In 1351 he agreed to a lease of one of the hospital's properties in Bow Lane.12 In 1353 he was required at the Assize of Nuisance to repair paling at one of his tenements, because his tenants had gone into the neighbouring garden and trampled on the grass.13 In the same year he granted a lease on a tenement in Baynard's Castle.



tenant was Robert de Marny, to whom later that year the prior acknowledged a debt of £40, which he subsequently paid.


Either under him or his successor (the reference is

only to 'Prior John'), the hospital lost one of its properties in Honey Lane in a series of court cases during 1353-55, and in 1355 'Prior John' laid a complaint of intrusion s BL, CCxi33. See Chapter 2. 7 Stow, vol. 1, p.294. 8 See Chapters 1 and 2. 9 Davis, p.76. Up to 1449 the names are printed in Virginia Davis, 'Medieval English Ordination Lists- a London Case Study', Local Population Studies 50 (1993), pp.51.60. 1 °0'aVIS, p..2 II CPL, vol.3, pp.390, 393. The first related to the reservation of a benefice and the second to an apostate. 12 LMA, HR 79/81. 13 Assize, p.l07. 14 LBG, p.l6. CCR 1349-54, p.202. 6



against his adversary, Alicia, daughter of Michael Myngihot who had sold William the property, suggesting she was still in possession." John de Wyndesore seems to have granted lands and rents belonging to the hospital to John Edmund (ex-apprentice of Robert Elsyng responsible for his son's maintenance), property which was distrained to pay Edmund's debts in 1357 and not finally secured back to the hospital until 1370. John de Wyndesore must have gone by 1357, for Edmund was by then in possession of a quitrent of £8 a year granted him by John Gerard, de Wyndesore's successor.

17 He

seems likely to have come from the local family de Wyndesore: Cripplegate ward had an alderman of the name earlier in the century and some of the hospital's local property, and the land on which it was built, came from them. 18 John Gerard, prior by 1357 (see above), gone by 1363. The only specific reference, other than the possible ones to 'Prior lohn' described above, is in 1370: he is described as 'late prior' in the account of the restoration of the hospital's property granted to Edmund (see above). He had granted £8 annual quitrents to Edmund for life, which Edmund used to take lands belonging to the hospital. Edmund already had the property in 1357, so Gerard must have been prior by then. 19 His successor was in place in 1363 (see below). Robert Draycote (occasionally Braycote), occurs from 1363, died in omce 1412. The first reference to Draycote is in the grant of a messuage in the parish of St. Michael Bassishaw in November 1363.2