St. Leonard's Hospital, Newark

THE earliest charitable institutions in England were houses of hospitality in which travellers could obtain food and shelter for the night, and were, for the most part, attached to a monastery. The majority of hospitals however, were for the support of the old and infirm, and as such were called "Hospital," "Maison Dieu," "Almshouse," or "Bedehouse."

There were also houses set apart for the residence of lepers, though all the inmates of a Lazar house were not lepers, in the same sense as the word is used to-day. Gervase of Canterbury, writing at the beginning of the 13th century, states that St. Oswald's, Worcester, was intended for "infirmi item leprosi," and these words are used synonymously in Pipe Rolls, Charters, etc. A lazar was a person "full of sores" and any person having an inveterate or loathsome skin eruption might be qualified as an inmate.

The Hospital of St. Leonard juxta Newark is the earliest foundation of its kind in the County, and among the first thirty in point of date in all England, but unfortunately its early history is hidden in the mists of antiquity.

The earliest references to the Hospital which I have so far been able to trace are:—

(1) An "Inquisitio ad quod damnum" held on 10th September, 1311, which found that William Durant of Newark could do no harm to the King if he granted two messuages and twenty acres of land to the master of the Hospital of St. Leonard of Newark, to find a chaplain to celebrate divine service in the church of the Hospital. The jury found that the two messuages were worth forty shillings a year, and were held of the Bishop of Lincoln, as lord of the manor, by payment of twelve pence a year; twelve of the acres were held of John de Bussey, by payment of two shillings a year, and the remainder of Robert de Compton, by payment of half-a-pound of pepper, the whole of the land being worth sixpence an acre per year. In the return made in 1534 for the Valor Ecclesiasticus the payments "To Miles Bust, rent-of assize 2s. . . To Robert Molyneux for the like, half-a pound of pepper"—are mentioned.

(2)  About the reign of Edward I. a grant was made of a toft and buildings in Middle Gate on payment of sixpence yearly "magistro et fratribus maladrye Hospitalis S. Leonardi de Newerke."

(3) Various deeds in the 14th century refer to rents payable to the hospital out of various properties.

This hospital was originally founded by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln from 1123 to 1147, and the date of the foundation must have been prior to 1135, as the deed mentions Henry II. who died in that year.

Among the records preserved in the registry at Lincoln is a book marked "Libellus de Chartis Pensionum," which contains a copy of a document purporting to be a grant and confirmation in the year 1418, by Philip Repingdon, then Bishop of Lincoln, and the Dean and Chapter, of the Mastership of the Hospital, and also purports to set out the original deed of foundation, and a previous confirmation in 1399 by Henry Beaufort, then Bishop of Lincoln. I give here a translation of the deed :—

"Alexander by the grace of God Bishop of Lincoln to all the sons of holy Mother Church greeting and blessing Be it known to all persons as well future as present that I have founded a hospital house for poor infirm persons of Christ near Newark and have provided for them as well clothing as food from my own certain rents yearly in money to wit four pounds from the fixed rents of the mills of the suit of Newark and of the inhabitants of the same Towne of the yearly produce ninety six baskets according to the Lincoln measure to wit half of grain and half of wheat flour and this I have done for the peace and stability of the holy Mother Church for King Henry for the salvation and redemption of my soul and that of Roger my uncle Bishop of Salisbury and of all our ancestors and successors brethren and near relations and benefactors and of those who shall give of their goods to the support of this house and also of the faithful living and departed which things because we wish them to be faithfully managed and controlled we commit them into the hands of Robert the Almoner of York to arrange and manage and lest anyone presumes in the future to destroy or injure this our foundation we with all our successors so far as in us lies do prohibit it under pain of a perpetual anathema And I have signed this with my hand Also I have added to the aforesaid rents four pounds of the tenth pennies which come to me from Newark aforesaid so that part thereof shall remain wholly to the uses of the Priest who shall have the cure of the said Church that is to say sixty shillings the other part to be applied towards the necessities of those who are sick I have also given for ever to those who are lepers a tenth of all food in nourishment and drink except of wine whenever I shall be at Newark on solemn days and at other times These things I have written and established in dedication of the Church of St. Leonard and have founded for the needs of those who are sick." In the original the word "leprosis" which, of course, was abbreviated, has always been read as "lessis," but after examining the original at Lincoln there is no doubt in my mind that it should be read "leprosis." This reading is borne out by the word "maladrye " in the Deed of the reign of Edward I., as maladrye was the Norman-French word for a lazaretto or hospital for persons suffering from an infectious disease, and so there is no doubt in my mind that the Founder intended to benefit the lepers as well as other sick persons.

On 28th October, 1399, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Lincoln, confirmed the old foundation, setting out the original grant; and on 28th November, he issues an order on the Receiver of his Castle at Newark, for the annual issue of corn to the inmates, the Master of that time being Hugh Hanworth. Hugh Hanworth was succeeded by John Holywell, who apparently died in 1415, as on 23rd September in that year Philip Repingdon, the then Bishop, appointed Thomas Savage as Master and instructed William Egmanton, the Clerk of the Castle of Newark, to hand over the hospital to him.

On 7th November, 1417, Philip Repingdon issues a full confirmation of the foundation, from which it appears that even at that early period the office of Master of the Hospital was considered to be an office of profit, and that, so long as the inmates had food and a roof over their heads, the income belonged to the Master.

The confirmation by Philip Repingdon contains the following interesting clauses:—

"As it is shewn to us that the Master or custodian for the time being of the said Hospital being unmindful that the said Hospital was and is founded for this purpose namely that poor persons and one chaplain should be received there and should be supported out of the profits thereof had inhumanly caused the said profits to be wrongfully converted to his own use and had refused to receive and support a proper number of poor persons according to the property and foundation of the same Hospital We therefore considering that these things which were intended by the bounty of the faithful for a certain use should be so used and not converted to another use and the reformation of the said Hospital and the persons thereof belonging to us of full right according to laudable custom and we caused diligent enquiry to be made through which and other proofs given in the presence of our officials we gather that although the said Hospital was founded with a pious intention for the reception of poor and unfortunate persons and one chaplain and their maintenance nevertheless on account of plagues pestilences sterility of the earth and divers burdens happening more than usual in recent times the produce rents and profits decreased to such a degree and existed in such small proportions that they were scarcely sufficient (having deducted the charges of the said Hospital) for the support of the Master two poor men and one chaplain and the said Master or custodian two poor men and one chaplain are not at the present time received and supported according to the property of the Hospital and according to the foundation of the same and the residue has been converted to the sole use of the Master himself and not of the support of the use and charges of the said Hospital And moreover when the said Hospital had been vacant it was not granted beneficially as it has been used to be granted but merely that the rule government or custody of the same was granted to any person therein Therefore wishing on account of all these things to provide against them in the future and to remove the scandal and doubt which might arise in the future from error   .    .   .   We for ourselves and our successors do ordain pronounce decree and declare that in future there shall be in the said Hospital one Master who shall in future have the rule control and custody of the said Hospital and shall dispose and dispense the produce rents and profits of the Hospital for the use of the unfortunate and poor men one chaplain who shall diligently offer divine service for the unfortunate and poor persons and any other persons resident in said Hospital and two poor persons which chaplain and poor persons shall be supported by the Master for the time being from the produce rents and profits of the said Hospital and the residue shall be for the support and use of the Master and for the support of the burdens of the said Hospital" He also granted to the Master and his successors "in each year for all future time six quarters of corn and six quarters of wheat flour" which he believed "to contain the measure of the aforesaid ninety six baskets." From these extracts it appears that the permanent residents in the hospital consisted of a chaplain and two men, who would no doubt look after the sick and infirm who were admitted to the hospital.

The next reference to the hospital I have been able to find is the will of William Yon "of the hospital of St. Leonards near Newark." The will, which was dated 20th February, 1465/6, and proved at York on 19th March in the same year, provided for the Testator's burial in the Parish Church at Newark, and a legacy of 26s. 8d. towards the fabric of the church at Rampton.

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1534 mentions a payment of two pounds a year from the Mills of Newark to the master of the hospital, and gives the gross income of the hospital as £27 13s. 71/2d. Of this 13s. 10d. was paid in chief rents, £1 to the bailiff or collector, and £8 18s. 0d. to the chaplain and three poor persons. The certificate under the Act of 1546, relating to chantries and hospitals gave the nett yearly value, according to the Valor Ecclesiasticus as £17 1s. 9d.,1 and stated that the hospital was a parish church of itself and that the value of the ornaments was 32s. 6d.

The certificate of 1549 gives the annual value as £23 5s. 21/4d., of which 13s. was paid out in chief rents. £3 18s. distributed among the poor and £5 paid to a priest, leaving £13 14s. 21/4d. for the master.

(1) The balance of £17  1s  91/2d. would apparently go to the master, as the return gives the tenth as £1 14s. 21/2d.