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«PATRICIA HELENA CULLUM Thesis submitted for the degree of D.Phil University of York Department of History September, 1989 CONTENTS page Introduction ...»

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Thesis submitted for the degree of D.Phil

University of York

Department of History

September, 1989



Introduction 1

1. Yorkshire Hospitals to 1300:

a) The Preconquest Period 13

b) Leperhospitals 20

c) Other Hospitals 40

2. St Leonard's, York: Foundation and Constitution 68

3. St Leonard's, York: Economics and Politics, 1300-1500 108

4. St Leonard's, York: Provision for Patients, 1300-1500 155

5. Charitable Provision in Yorkshire, 1300-1500 196

6. Other Hospitals to 1500:

a) Older Hospitals 280

b) New Hospitals (post-1300 foundation) 317

7. The Eve of the Dissolution 383 Conclusion 436 Appendix 448 Bibliography 461


My thanks must go first to my long-suffering supervisor Prof.

R.B.Dobson for all his help, and secondly to Dr D.M.Smith for seeing the thesis through its last year. For financial support my thanks to the British Academy, and to York Archaeolgical Trust and the Dept of Historical and Critical Studies, Newcastle Polytechnic who employed me part-time, allowing me to eat and study at the same time. I am also grateful to staff at Newcastle Polytechnic who have been very supportive of my work. I am immensely grateful to the staff of the History Department and the Centre of Medieval Studies at York for answering many obscure queries over the years.

I am very grateful to the staff of the Borthwick Institute, York Minster Library, York City Archives, York City Library and the Public Record Office for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness. I would like to thank the many residents of Constantine House, York past and present for their help, support and innumerable mugs of tea. Lastly (for the last shall be first) I must thank Jeremy Goldberg (assisted by Hippo) for all his help and support, academic and emotional, and for cooking all the meals over the last year. Without him this would not have been finished. For all errors and omissions, I remain solely responsible.


The title of the thesis is 'Hospitals and Charitable Provision in Medieval Yorkshire, 936-1547'. It is a general survey of hospitals in the county from the foundation of St Leonard's Hospital, York to the Second Chantry Act. In additionthere is a specific study of St Leonard's Hospital, York. There is also a will study of charitable provision in the county in two selected periods: the late fourteenth century and the midfifteenth century which also draws on a random selection of other wills for additional material. This was to show how hospitals fitted within a wider context of charitable provision.

The early part of the thesis examines hospital provision before 1300 in three parts: pre-Conquest hospitals; leperhouses as a common form of foundation; and other hospitals. The thesis points to the use of hospitals for locating urban centres at an early date, and also indicates civic involvement with hospitals from the early thirteenth century.

The thesis concentrates on the period after 1300 and considers both the later history of the pre-1300 foundations and the new hospitals founded after 1300. The latter group are divided into aristocratic hospitals, guild hospitals and maisonsdieu. The Rubin thesis that the post-Black Death period sees a decline in charitable and hospital provision is examined and rejected in view of the lack of evidence of changing attitudes between the wills of the pre-Black Death and post-Black Death periods, and the considerable number of hospital foundations in the post-Black Death period. This is attributed to a combination of economic prosperity and a piety which saw charity as an integral part of religious expression. There is consideration of hardening attitudes to the poor, and of hospitals on

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DNB Dictionary of National Biography EETS Early English Text Society Emden A.B.Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford EYC Early Yorkshire Charters EHD English Historical Documents

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Surt.Soc. Surtees Society Venn J.A.Venn, Alumni Cantabrigensia to 1751 VCH Victoria County History (In Appendix refers to VCH Yorkshire,

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West Yorkshire Archaeological Survey WYAS Yorkshire Archaeological Journal YAJ Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series YASRS

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Note that the prefix YML and BIHR are not normally specified in the case of

the following frequently cited classes of document:

In York Minster Library:

D/C Prob.Reg. 1

–  –  –

Relatively little work of a synthetic kind has been done on hospitals and charitable provision in the Middle Ages in this country, although it is a field which has been drawing a certain amount of interest in the last few years. For Yorkshire there has been no previous attempt to produce a synthesis on the hospitals of the county, although brief studies of individual hospitals have occasionally appeared. The only work on the Yorkshire hospitals of any substance is that of T.M.Fallow in volume three of the Victoria County History for Yorkshire, still an invaluable work for locating original sources, though far from comprehensive either of the stock of hospitals generally or of sources for individual hospitals.' However because of the nature of the Victoria County History Fallow had necessarily to deal with each house separately and so was not able produce any work of synthesis. Individuals such as George Benson have produced article-length pieces on specific hospitals (in his case St Leonard's, York) or Norman Smedley's piece on St Edmund's, Sprotborouer near Doncaster, but these have often involved little more than publication of translations of original material, or antiquarian speculation, valuable though the former may be.2 Antiquarians, with which Yorkshire has been well blessed, such as Dodsworth, Widdrington, Drake, Poulson, and others, have preserved the texts of documents which would otherwise have been lost, and have occasionally referred to stories and traditions which are not otherwise

1. VCH, Yorkshire, vol.3, (London, 1913).

2. G.Benson, 'The Hospital of St Peter, York', Associated Architectural and Archaeological Societies' Reports and Papers, vol.40, (1930), pp.111-32; N.Smedley, 'An Incised Stone from the Free Chapel of Ancres, near Doncaster', YAJ, vol.37, (1948-51), pp.503-13.

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valuable though their use is occasionally fraught with uncertainty and danger, and the less reliable among the fraternity of antiquarians need to be treated with caution.

The long established and prolific publishing industries of the Surtees Society and Yorkshire Archaeological Society have printed a considerable number of Yorkshire records, some of which are of relevance to hospital history. However no systematic attempt has ever been made to publish material specifically relevant to this field. An early intention to publish records of St Leonard's, York by the Surtees Society came to nothing. The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal has provided the forum for most of the secondary material on this area, but this has rarely addressed the issue of a wider analysis than that of an individual hospital. In addition the Raine family have produced a great many editions of documents for various academic societies, although secondary literature such as Angelo Raine's Medieval York can be alarmingly vague or inaccurate in the citing of sources, so that his statements cannot always be checked.4 Ranging more widely, the oldest and still the best synthetic work on the subject is Rotha Mary Clay's Medieval Hospitals of England published in

1909. 5 The only other work to cover the same wide territory, indeed to try to produce a history of English hospitals to modern times is that of C.Dainton, published in the 1960s. 6 It is heavily dependent upon Clay and has no independent merit. Clay's work was very much based upon the reading

3. Many of Dodsworth's notes are incorporated in W.Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, J.Caley, H.Ellis and B.Bandinel (eds), (London, 1817-30);

F.Drake, Eboracum, (York, 1736); G.Poulson, Beverlac, (Beverley, 1829);

T.Widdrington, Analecta Eboracensia, (London,1897).

4. A.Raine, Medieval York: A Topographical Survey, (London, 1955).

5. R.M.Clay, The Medieval Hospitals of England, (London, 1909).

6. C.Dainton, The Story of England's Hospitals, (London, 1962).

-2of a wide variety of original source materials relating to hospitals and her book must remain standard reading for the student in this field. It continues to be a valuable reference work and source of comparative material. The historiography is now dated and the scholarly apparatus sometimes sadly lacking for the modern reader, which can prove extremely frustrating where she fails to indicate the source of tantalising information, but she quotes readily and freely from the original sources, and was sound in understanding of her material.

So sound was she in her writing and so comprehensive in her scope that the subject was left for fifty years or more untouched by any except writers of histories of individual hospitals. The only exception to this being W.H.Godfrey who in 1955 produced The English Almshouse, a principally architectural study of the plans of many of the surviving medieval hospitals, and a number of early modern ones as wel1. 7 As a history of the development of hospital architecture and its implications for the housing of the poor this is an interesting book, but it does not really stray beyond its architectural brief. It is however one of the few books on the subject which is synthetic in its approach.

The growing interest in social history in the early 1960s saw the publication of a number of works which dwelt primarily or partially upon the subject of charity, principally in London. The work of W.K.Jordan on the issue of philanthropy and charity in London and some other counties for the period 1480-1660 overlaps only partially with the chronological span of the present work. 8 Jordan's work was a massive piece of research based upon primary source material, mainly wills. However his tendency to

7. W.H.Godfrey, The English Almshouse, (London, 1955).

8. W.K.Jordan, Philanthropy in England, 1480-1660, (London, 1959); The Charities of London, 1480-1660, (London, 1960); The Charities of Rural England, 1480-1660, (London, 1961).

-3evaluate charitable interest in a particular issue simply by the amount of money given to it is narrow and potentially misleading. Criticism has also been made of his methodology, and of his failure to adjust his figures for inflation, so that his picture of increasing charitable giving through the period is probably false. 9 Much of the data in his work in his work can still be used though the interpretation needs to be treated with caution.

Nevertheless his was a pioneering work in the field, and valuable in that it dealt with both non-institutional charity and the hospitals as being but two aspects of one issue, while putting the weight of the work on the former.

In 1948 Sylvia Thrupp had published The Merchant Class of Medieval London. 1 ° This is still the only major work on the subject, and it includes one chapter devoted to the religious life of the merchants including their charitable bequests and activities. She found that this was an important aspect of their religious lives, and also described their interests in very similar ways to those found in the Yorkshire sources.

While Thrupp came to no particular conclusions about charitable provision in medieval London the work is sound and a valuable source of comparative material. J.A.F.Thomson returned to the subject of 'Piety and Charity in Late Medieval London' in an article in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History in 1965. 11 He too worked on wills and covered the period of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. He emphasised charitable giving as an aspect of piety rather of secularism as Jordan had, and regarded the

9. W.G.Bittle and R.T.Lane, 'Inflation and Philanthropy in England: a reassessment of W.K.Jordan's data', Economic History Review, 2nd ser.

vol.29, (1976), pp.203 -10; D.C.Coleman, 'Philanthropy deflated: a comment', Economic History Review, 2nd ser., vol.31, (1978), pp.118 S.Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London, (Ann Arbor, 1948).

11. J.A.F.Thomson, 'Piety and Charity in Late Medieval London', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol.16, (1965), pp.178 -95.

- 4medieval citizens of London as more generous in the proportion of their goods which they gave to piety and charity, than their descendants. More recently Carole Rawcliffe has written articles on the hospitals of London which have focused principally, though not exclusively, upon their provision of medical care in the later medieval period, and upon their relationship with donors of assistance to the poor. 12 All of these established the importance of charity in the wills of the late medieval London merchant class.

Similar kinds of work have been done more recently by Tanner for Norwich, Heath for Hull and Burgess for Bristo1. 13 However in all cases charitable activity has been seen as only part of a wider concern with religious activity. Norman Tanner's book in this respect has been very valuable, although his concentration on the period from which wills have been available precluded him from working on the earlier history of the Norwich hospitals. Heath's work suggests that if the citizens of Hull had any priority in their religious activity it was a concern for the poor.

Burgess's work on charity has been to a large extent a by-product of his concern with Purgatory, but also points to the potential pit-falls of using will evidence as being totally representative of an individual's pious and charitable activities in life. His writing represents a developing trend towards an interest in medieval motivation for charitable activity, as well as an exploration of its practice. Vale and Fleming have both produced

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