Hospitals: St Mary Magdalen, Southampton

Pages 205-206

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1903.

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The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, Southampton, frequently styled in the town accounts Le Maudelyne, was founded by the burgesses, at their own cost, as a refuge for lepers, in or about 1172-3, when there is a claim for for allowance on the Pipe Roll of £1 3s. 2d. for land given to the lepers of Southampton. It was confirmed by Pope Alexander III. in 1179 to the priory of St. Denis, by the name of the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, but it does not appear that the priory gained any benefit from the hospital till the time of Edward III. Probably it was only assigned to the priory in the first instance in order that they might see that the church or chapel was duly served, and some priest found brave enough to continuously administer to the souls of the lepers.

Originally the burgesses appointed the master or warden of the hospital, but in the reign of Edward I. the Crown claimed the presentation and appointed William Balweys. This intrusion was resisted both by the burgesses and the bishop. The latter, in 1285, appointed Robert, rector of the church of St. Cross, Southampton, at the instance of the burgesses, to the wardenship. (fn. 1) Thereupon Bishop Pontoise was charged with purpresture against the king in seizing the advowson; and at Michaelmas, 1290, when the case was heard, the bishop replied that he had never for himself nor his church made any claim to the advowson, and the sheriff of Hampshire was ordered to seize the wardenship for the Crown. (fn. 2) However, on this followed an inquiry in Easter term, 1291, when the jury found that neither the bishop nor the king had any right to the advowson, but that it had been uninterruptedly exercised by the burgesses until the Crown appointment of William Balweys. (fn. 3) Nevertheless, in 1342, the Crown again claimed the advowson; and on 6 May of that year Edward III. granted to Richard le Paneter the life custody of the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, Southampton. (fn. 4)

In 1347 the hospital and its possessions were appropriated by the king to the priory of St. Denis, Southampton, in consideration of the poverty of that house, but under covenant that the canons should perform all the duties of the hospital. (fn. 5) This grant was confirmed by Richard II. in 1390. These grants show that there was from the first a definite obligation to maintain a chantry for a priest to celebrate on certain days.

According to the old ordinances of the Gild Merchant of Southampton, the lepers of La Maudeleyne received a pittance of ale from the alms of the gild. (fn. 6)

In November, 1377, a commission was issued to inquire by a jury of the county touching the petition of the prior of St. Denis, which alleged that from time immemorial a penny per tun of wine imported at Southampton, whether by denizens or aliens, had been accustomed to be paid to the warden of the lepers of the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen; that the late king granted the hospital and all its profits to the priory, and that he was then hindered in receiving the said penny a tun on wine, which was the greatest part of the hospital's profit. (fn. 7)

At a subsequent inquisition, towards the close of Richard's reign, it appeared that the priory was not carrying out its obligations, and the Crown granted the wardenship to John Newport, clerk; but in 1398 this action was revoked at the suit of the priory. (fn. 8) Neither chantry nor hospital were however being duly supported by the priory, and the buildings were becoming ruinous. In 1401, Henry IV. confirmed the property of the hospital once again to the priory, but tacitly sanctioned the abandonment of all the original scheme for the help of the afflicted poor, simply insisting on their praying for his weal whilst living, and for his soul after death. (fn. 9)

At the dissolution of the priory of St. Denis, the property of this hospital was estimated at an annual income of £16 16s. The house in the fourteenth century stood in 18 acres of land called 'Le Maudelyne,' in the West and East Marlands; the Winchester road now passes through the premises. It also possessed 3 acres in Bove-barre Street, four cottages in Foleflode without the bars, and a few rents in the town and neighbourhood. (fn. 10)

Masters of The Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, Southampton

William Balweys, in the time of Edward I. (fn. 11)
Robert, rector of St. Cross, 1285 (fn. 12)
Richard le Paneter, 1342 (fn. 13)
John Newport, in the time of Richard II. (fn. 14)


  • 1. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 77. It is here styled the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen.
  • 2. Rolls of Parliament (Rec. Com.), i. 45.
  • 3. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 19 Edw. I. 225.
  • 4. Pat. 16 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 5.
  • 5. Ibid. 22 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 1.
  • 6. Davies' Hist. of Southampton, pp. 139, 449.
  • 7. Pat. 1 Rich. II. pt. 2, m. 19d.
  • 8. Ibid. 21 Rich. II. pt. 1, m. 1.
  • 9. Ibid. 2 Hen. IV. pt. 3, m. 6.
  • 10. Ibid. 22 Rich. II. pt. 2, m. 37; Madox's Formulare Anglicanum, dccxxvii.
  • 11. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 19 Edw. I. 225.
  • 12. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, f. 77.
  • 13. Pat. 16 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 5.
  • 14. Ibid. 21 Rich. II. pt. 1, m. 1.