A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.
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51. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. MARY, DOVER
Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, justiciary of England, founded the hospital of St. Mary or the Maison Dieu, Dover, for the maintenance of the poor and infirm and pilgrims; and by charter (fn. 1) in 1227 or 1228 he granted to it the manor of Eastbridge. We first hear of it in 1221, when a grant of protection was made to the brethren; (fn. 2) and in the following year they had a presentation to the church of Sellinge, (fn. 3) which was confirmed to them in 1248. (fn. 4) In 1228 some treasure trove was given (fn. 5) to the brethren of ' the new hospital of Dover.'
The founder at an early date transferred the patronage of the hospital to Henry III, who granted on 11 October, 1229, that at every vacancy the brethren might elect a master, either from the hospital or otherwise, and should have the custody of the hospital without interference. (fn. 6) A large number of charters were made to the hospital by this king. On 6 July, 1227, he granted to it the tithe of the issues of the passage of the port of Dover; (fn. 7) in 1229 £10 yearly at Michaelmas out of the issues of the port; (fn. 8) in 1230 50s. yearly from the issues of the port for the support of a chaplain celebrating divine service daily in the hospital for the soul of Reymund de Burge; (fn. 9) and on 12 December, 1231, .£10 yearly at Easter from the same as a dowry for the church of the hospital, which was dedicated in his presence. (fn. 10) On 14 February, 1229, he granted that the master and brethren should be. quit of suit of shires and various other charges. (fn. 11) On 11 July, 1228, he granted to them a yearly fair at Bewsbury by their manor of Whitfield on the feast of Sts. Philip and James, and the two days following; (fn. 12) on 14 July in the same year the manor of River; (fn. 13) and on 24 October, 1231, the church of Warden in Sheppey. (fn. 14) In 1228 he confirmed the grant by the founder of the manor of Eastbridge with the advowson of the church; (fn. 15) in 1231 the grant by the same of land in Milk Street, London, and the advowson of the church of Ospringe; (fn. 16) in 1247 the grant by the same of the manor of Honeychild; (fn. 17) in 1228 the grant by Simon de Warden of possessions in Warden; (fn. 18) and in 1231 grants of land in Sheppey, 100s. from the manor of Dersyngham, and the manor of Coldred. (fn. 19) In 1235 several grants were repeated. (fn. 20) On 5 September, 1229, he granted to the brethren a porch which they had built in the highway before the hospital, (fn. 21) and which they afterwards, in 1278, had licence to lengthen. (fn. 22) Edward I on 10 May, 1286, granted to them free warren in their demesne lands of Coldred, ' Kingesdune' by Middleton, and Whitfield; (fn. 23) and charters of confirmation were obtained from several later kings. (fn. 24) The master successfully proved his claim to liberties under Edward I and Edward II. (fn. 25)
Nicholas Haute had licence in 1410 to grant a rent in Dover to the master and brethren to find a lamp burning daily in the hospital before the high altar; (fn. 26) and Richard III in 1484 granted to them in frankalmoign lands in Birchington, Monkton, and River. (fn. 27)
Pope Gregory IX in 1236 made a grant of protection and confirmation of possessions and liberties to the master and brethren, (fn. 28) and in 1239 he granted that they and their successors should observe the rule of St. Augustine. (fn. 29)
The master had grants of protection in 1276, 1277, and 1280, when going beyond the seas on business of the house. (fn. 30) In 1290 the question of repair of dykes led to a dispute between him and the tenants of his manors of Honeychild and Eastbridge in Romney Marsh. (fn. 31)
The crown claimed corrodies in the hospital; Henry de Oldington being sent there in 1315 to receive such maintenance as Henry le Blessid, deceased, had by order of the late king; (fn. 32) Richard Waytewell in 1327, (fn. 33) and John Monyn in 1330. (fn. 34) The chancellor had livery for himself and the clerks of the chancery in the hospital by ancient custom at all times when the chancery was at Dover; and when the earl of Chester was lodged there in 1325 he formally promised that it should not be to the prejudice of the chancellor. (fn. 35) These charges may have formed part of the reasons why in 1325 and on several later occasions the hospital secured exemption from taxation on the alleged ground of poverty. (fn. 36)
In 1352 application was made to the crown for the arrest of Richard de Sellyngg, a vagabond brother of the hospital. (fn. 37) In 1359 Thomas Wodelonde was retained by a formal deed (fn. 38) to keep the Watergate, serve in th: bakery when required, and do other odd jobs about the hospital, receiving in return a corrody and 6s. 8d. yearly.
Archbishop Warham made a visitation (fn. 39) of the hospital on 20 September, 1511, when John Clerke was master and there were five brethren or priests. Simon Tempilman, who had been instituted to the benefice of Leigh in the diocese of Rochester, begged to be re-admitted to the brotherhood of the house, so that he might reside there or in his benefice, as he pleased; but this was refused, as the master and brethren gave evidence that when he had before been a brother in the house he had been so quarrelsome, brawling, and litigious, that religion could not be properly observed. The brethren gave evidence that the master held no annual meeting to announce the amount of their pensions, and only told them the state of the house verbally and without any details; and these points were ordered to be rectified.
In August, 1533, (fn. 40) the master was ill and, thinking he would not recover, by the advice of friends he told the brethren that he intended to resign for the safety of the house, as it was likely none of them would have the mastership on his death. They proceeded to election, and after choosing two candidates whom he refused, they finally elected John Burn ell, with whom he was satisfied, but from whom he insisted on having surety that he should be allowed to have his chamber, his keeper, and his kitchen for life. The lawyer who was sent for to make the obligation, however, advised them first to obtain the favour of some great man in the matter, lest the king should refuse to admit Burnell; and acting on this suggestion the master withdrew his resignation, telling the brethren to say that there was none, but that one was chosen to govern the house under him, 'and thus ye shall stop their speech.'
This master was apparently John Clerke, who must have reached a great age, as he was elected in 1484, and signed the oath of acknowledgement of the royal supremacy in December, 1534, with Henry Wood, William Coorte, John Burnell, William Nowlde, and John Enyver, brethren. (fn. 41) He probably died soon afterwards, for reference is made to the late master in an inventory (fn. 42) ot the goods of the house, taken on 23 January, 1535, and signed by the above five brethren. It included £24 7s. 6d. in ready money, silver weighing 527½ oz., masers and nuts weighing 159 oz., 1,600 sheep, 119 bullocks and kine, 15 mares and colts, and 14 horses and geldings.
John Tompson succeeded to the mastership. Christopher Hales gave him a bad character in a letter to Cromwell, (fn. 43) but he probably owed his appointment to business ability, for he is frequently mentioned during the next few years as superintendent of the new harbour works at Dover. He was master at the time of the Valor of 1535, in which the whole possessions of the house, including the manors of Dudmanswyk, Eastbridge, Great and Little Pokton, ' Northmersshe,' River, Whitfield, Coldred, Pising, Kingsdown, and Charlton, were valued (fn. 44) at £231 16s. 7/ 14d. yearly, the net value being £159 18s. 6¾d., after deductions of £71 18d. o½d. for rents, pensions, fees, in dispute and ' charges by the foundation.' These last apparently were the only benefit that the poor now got from the hospital, as the brothers were of the nature of fellows or canons. In 1544 the Maison Dieu was reported as suitable for a victualling yard, (fn. 45) and it was surrendered on 11 December by Henry Wood, John Burnell, William Noole, and John Tompson. (fn. 46)
Masters of St. Mary's, Dover
John de Hertford, resigned 1248 (fn. 47)
Michael de Kenebalton, elected 1248 (fn. 48)
Edmund, occurs 1271, (fn. 49) 1278 (fn. 50)
Ralph de Marisco, elected 1280 (fn. 51)
Thomas de Dovor, elected 1281 (fn. 52)
Henry de Herefeld, elected 1305 (fn. 53)
John de Dovorre, elected 1316 (fn. 54)
Walter de Rydelyngweld or Hedebrand, (fn. 55) elected 1338, (fn. 56) resigned 1358 (fn. 57)
Simon deBrusele, elected 1359, (fn. 58) died 1368 (fn. 59)
Alexander Wayte, elected 1368, (fn. 60) died 1378 (fn. 61)
Valentine de Bere, elected 1378, (fn. 61) died 1407 (fn. 62)
Roger Kympton, elected 1407, (fn. 62) died 1420 (fn. 63)
James Brandred, elected 1420, (fn. 63) resigned 1439 (fn. 64)
Giles Crouche, elected 1439 (fn. 64)
John Wellys, elected 1442, (fn. 65) died 1446 (fn. 66)
Thomas Moys, elected 1446 (fn. 67)
John Barboure, elected 1467, (fn. 68) died 1478 (fn. 69)
William Baker, elected 1478 (fn. 70)
John Clerk, elected 1484, (fn. 71) occurs 1511, (fn. 72) 1534 (fn. 72)
John Tompson, occurs 1535, (fn. 72) the last master (fn. 72)
The seal (fn. 73) of the hospital (twelfth century) is a pointed oval measuring 2½ in. by 1⅝ in., representing the Virgin seated on a carved throne under a trefoiled canopy, with the Child on her right knee. In the field on each side a countersunk quatrefoiled panel containing a head. Over these on, the left a crescent and a star, on the right a demi-angel with a censer. In base under a trefoiled arch the master half-length in prayer, to the left. Legend:—