St John the Baptist & St John the Evangelist, Leicester


Victoria County History



W.G. Hoskins (editor) assisted by R.A. McKinley

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'Hospitals: St John the Baptist & St John the Evangelist, Leicester', A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2 (1954), pp. 40-41. URL: Date accessed: 20 November 2014.


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Both the date of the foundation of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist (fn. 1) at Leicester and the founder's name are unknown. The hospital is mentioned in 1200, when its master was involved in a plea concerning land at Holwell, near Melton Mowbray. (fn. 2) In a charter of about the same date Richard Basset confirmed a gift to the hospital of 1 virgate at Cosby (Leics.). (fn. 3) The hospital must have been already old in 1200, for in an early 13th-century document the monthly revenue of corn which the hospital enjoyed from the lands of the earls of Leicester is said to have been granted by the 2nd earl. (fn. 4) Both the brothers and the sisters of the hospital are mentioned about 1235 (fn. 5) and subsequently. (fn. 6) In the 15th century, and probably at other periods as well, the master of the hospital lived under the Augustinian rule, (fn. 7) and it may be presumed that his subordinates did the same. There is no evidence about the functions fulfilled by the hospital during the Middle Ages, (fn. 8) but the mention c. 1200 of the poor of the hospital, (fn. 9) suggests that it sheltered the destitute rather than the sick. A master of the hospital, Thomas of Bretford, was removed from his office at the end of the 13th century for unspecified offences, but was later restored to his position, (fn. 10) while in 1361 the master and all save two of the brethren were carried off by the pestilence. (fn. 11)

No full account of the hospital's property at any period during the Middle Ages has survived. About 1200 the hospital was granted land at Lubbesthorpe (Leics.), (fn. 12) and in 1212 it possessed 4 virgates at Cosby. (fn. 13) Lands at Frisby by Galby (Leics.) were granted to the hospital by the Prior and convent of Trentham in 1255. (fn. 14) In 1355 the hospital possessed 11 / 6 of a knight's fee in Hungarton and Barkby (Leics.), (fn. 15) and grants of property in and near Leicester itself were made to the hospital in 1349 and 1355. (fn. 16) The hospital possessed, besides its own church, the chapel of St. John in the eastern suburbs of Leicester. (fn. 17)

In 1479 St. John's Hospital passed into the possession of the College of the Newarke at Leicester, through the instrumentality of William, Lord Hastings. (fn. 18) The exact means by which this was effected are unknown, and it may have been Edward IV who gave the hospital to the college. (fn. 19) St. John's continued to exist separately, and in 1491 it was under the supervision of the Treasurer of the Newarke. (fn. 20) After the suppression of the College of the Newarke in 1547 the hospital still survived, and in 1548 it contained six poor women, (fn. 21) but subsequently it seems to have ceased to exist (fn. 22) In 1589 Queen Elizabeth granted the lands of St. John's Hospital to the Corporation of Leicester. (fn. 23) In the 17th century the hospital was revived in the form of an almshouse for poor widows, but its later history cannot be dealt with here. (fn. 24)

Masters Of St John's Hospital

Gervase, occurs 1236. (fn. 25)
Robert, occurs 1265. (fn. 26)
Thomas of Bretford, admitted 1292, (fn. 27) deprived before 1300. (fn. 28)
Peter of Quorndon, admitted 1300, (fn. 29) resigned 1302. (fn. 30)
Thomas of Bretford, admitted 1302, (fn. 31) resigned 1315. (fn. 32)
Peter of Quorndon, admitted 1315. (fn. 33)
Robert of Ravenstone, admitted 1353. (fn. 34)
John of Northburgh, occurs 1355 and 1361. (fn. 35)
Robert of Clapthorn, admitted 1361, (fn. 36) died 1367, (fn. 37)
Adam of Oadby, admitted 1367. (fn. 38)
William of Gaddesby, occurs 1378-9 (fn. 39) and 1385. (fn. 40)
William Hylle, admitted 1424, (fn. 41) occurs 1434. (fn. 42)
John Peckleton, died 1436. (fn. 43)
John Swaffield, admitted 1436, (fn. 44) resigned 1452. (fn. 45)
John Dane, admitted 1452. (fn. 46)
Thomas Cloreley, resigned 1460. (fn. 47)
John Willoughby, (fn. 48) admitted 1460, (fn. 49) resigned 1461. (fn. 50)
John Rodgeford, admitted 1461, (fn. 51) resigned 1466. (fn. 52)
Lawrence Aylvesmere, (fn. 53) admitted 1466, (fn. 54) resigned 1467. (fn. 55)
Richard Nicholas, (fn. 56) admitted and resigned, 1467. (fn. 57)
Thomas Leche, (fn. 58) admitted 1467, (fn. 59) resigned 1471. (fn. 60)
Robert Sileby, admitted 1471, (fn. 61) occurs 1478. (fn. 62)

A broken 12th-century seal (fn. 63) of the hospital, which would have been an oval about 2½ in. long by 1¾ in. wide when complete, shows the eagle of St. John the Evangelist rising. Between its claws is what appears to be a scroll bearing the letters:

. . AN . . ELIS

Of the legend there remains only:

. . . S LEGREC . . .

Two other seals of the hospital occur amongst the Hastings mahuscripts. (fn. 64) One of these, closely resembling the seal first described, is a vesica, measuring 2¼ by 1⅝ in., and bearing an eagle rising and carrying a scroll. This seal is of 13th-century date also. Of the legend all that remains is:

SECRET . . . . ANNIS LEI . . .

The remaining seal, which dates from the late 15th century, is also a vesica, measuring 2⅛ by 1⅝ in. It shows the eagle of St. John the Evangelist rising, with the letter R above its head, a cinquefoil beneath its right wing, and another object, perhaps a thistle head, beneath its left wing. The surviving portion of the legend reads:



1 On the full invocation of the hosp., see Leic. Boro. Rec., 1327-1509, 282-3, 425, and Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 59.
2 Cur. Reg. R., Ric. 1-1201, 164.
3 Leic. Boro. Rec., 1103-1327, 9.
4 Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 336, 341. The earl in question is presumably Robert le Bossu, styled earl in 1119, d. 1168. The hosp.'s revenue of 13 small quarters of corn probably issued from the earl's property in Leic.
5 Rot. Roberti Grosseteste, ed. F. N. Davis, 390-1.
6 Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 59; A. Hamilton Thompson, Hist. of the Hosp. and New Coll. of the Annunciation of St. Mary in the Newarke, 215; Cal. of Chart. and other Doc. Belonging to the Hosp. of Wm. Wyggeston at Leic., ed. A. Hamilton Thompson, 17; Leic. Boro. Rec., 1327-1509, 100-2, 282-3; Reg. of Hen. Chichele, Abp. of Cant., ed. E. F. Jacob, i, 326-8.
7 Reg. Chichele, i, 326-8. The hosp. chapter house is mentioned in 1424: ibid, i, 328.
8 It has been stated that Hen. de Lacy, Earl of Linc., gave property to St. John's Hosp., Leic., for the maintenance there of 12 poor persons: Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 765. It was to the hosp. at Donington that the earl made this benefaction: Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 156.
9 Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 58.
10 Linc. Reg. Dalderby, Inst., ff. 196a, 200a.
11 Linc. Reg. Gynewell, Inst., f. 334b.
12 Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 58.
13 Cur. Reg. R., 1210-12, 378.
14 Cat. Anct. D. ii, B3823.
15 Cal. Close, 1354-60, 151.
16 Cal. Pat., 1348-50, 421; Leic. Boro. Rec., 13271509, 100-2.
17 Ibid., 1327-1509, 283; 1509-1603, 251; Cal. Close, 1447-54, 422; Leland's Itin., ed. Lucy ToulminSmith, i, 17.
18 R. Somerville, 'D. of Lanc. Presentations, 13991485', Bull. Inst. Hist. Research, xviii, 75.
19 Leland's Itin., ed. Lucy Toulmin-Smith, i, 14.
20 A. Hamilton Thompson, Hist. of Hosp. of the Annunciation in the Newarke, 131.
21 Ibid. 215; Char. Com. Rep. [163], p. 41, H.C. (1839), xv.
22 Char. Com. Rep. (1839), p. 41; Leic. Boro. Rec., 1509-1603, 63.
23 Ibid.
24 For the later history of the hosp., see Char. Com. Rep.(1839), pp. 68-72.
25 Rotuli Roberti Grosseteste, ed. F. N. Davis, 390-1.
26 Cat. Anct. D. ii, B3823.
27 Rosalind Hill, 'Bishop Sutton and the Inst. of Heads of Religious Houses in the Dioc. of Linc.', E.H.R. lviii, 209.
28 Linc. Reg. Dalderby, Inst., f. 196a.
29 Ibid.
30 Ibid., f. 200a.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid., f. 210b.
33 Ibid.
34 Linc. Reg. Gynewell, Memo., f. 45a.
35 Leic. Boro. Rec., 1327-1509, 100-2, 399.
36 Linc. Reg. Gynewell, Inst., f. 334b.
37 Linc. Reg. Buckingham, Inst., i, f. 240a.
38 Ibid.
39 Leic. Boro. Rec., 1327-1509, 177.
40 Cat. Anct. D. ii, B3845.
41 Reg. Chlchele, i, 326-8.
42 Hist; MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 64.
43 Linc. Reg. Gray, Inst., f. 147a.
44 Ibid.
45 Linc. Reg. Chedworth, Inst., f. 89a.
46 Ibid.
47 Ibid., f. 99b.
48 Alias John Dawes.
49 Linc. Reg. Ched worth, Inst., ff. 99b, 100b.
50 Bull. Inst. Hist. Research, xviii, 75.
51 Ibid.
52 Ibid.
53 Or Ayllemere.
54 Bull. Inst. Hist. Research, xviii, 75.
55 Ibid.
56 Or Niclos.
57 Bull. Inst. Hist. Research, xviii, 75.
58 Or Leige.
59 Bull. Inst. Hist. Research, xviii, 75.
60 Ibid.
61 Ibid.
62 Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 59.
63 E. 336/6747.
64 See the descriptions in Hist. MSS. Com., Hastings, i, 59. It has not been possible to inspect these two seals.