A History of the County of Leicester: Volume 4, the City of Leicester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1958.
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HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES
William Wigston (c. 1457–1536), founder of this hospital, was a member of a prominent Leicester family of wool merchants who had risen to prosperity in the 15th century. He inherited and maintained considerable commercial interests in Leicester, in Coventry, and at the port of Calais, of which he was mayor four times. He was Mayor of Leicester in 1499 and 1510, and represented the borough in Parliament in 1504. He married twice but had no children. (fn. 1) In 1512 he established a chantry in the Newarke College, with a chaplains' house in the precincts, and completed the foundation early in 1513. (fn. 2)
By letters patent of 1513 (fn. 3) and 1514 (fn. 4) Wigston was authorized to found a hospital, for two chaplains and twelve poor men, which might receive in mortmain grants of land to the annual value of £49 13s. 4d. A site in St. Martin's parish was purchased in 1513, and in 1518 buildings were erected to accommodate 24 poor, the founder having added 12 poor women to the original number. The first chaplains were William Fisher, master (1513–34), and John Thorpe, confrater (1513–21). The first inmates were admitted in 1521. (fn. 5)
Most of the lands forming the endowment Wigston purchased between 1513 and 1520. In 1521 he conveyed to the hospital the manors of Castle Carlton (Lincs.) and Swannington, and lands in Leicester, Wycomb and Chadwell, Oadby, and Kimcote and Walton. (fn. 6) This grant of lands, valued at £40 yearly, was confirmed by letters patent of 1522. (fn. 7) Following a similar method Wigston later conveyed to the hospital other lands in Allington, Foston, and Harlaxton (Lincs.), and in Bromkinsthorpe, Great-Bowden, and King's Norton. To complete the endowment Wigston conveyed to trustees for the hospital lands in Burton on Trent and Horninglow (Staffs.), and in Wigston Magna, Bottesford, Barkestone, Plungar, Belvoir, Easthorpe, and Redmile. In an early draft of his will Wigston provided for the hospital's continued enjoyment of these trust lands but the subsequent enactment of the Statute of Uses made further assurance unnecessary. (fn. 8) In 1525–6 when the endowment had virtually been completed the total income of the hospital was £96 16s. 11¾d., of which the rents produced £92 1s. 8¼d. Expenditure in the same year was £86 5s. 10¼d. (fn. 9) The hospital later received the sum of £100 for the defence of its lands under Wigston's will, and a 60-year lease of the tithes of the South Field was bequeathed to the chaplains by his widow, Agnes (d. 1541). (fn. 10)
No authentic copy of the ordinances which Wigston himself made for the government and administration of the hospital survives, although a copy is known to have existed in the 19th century. A version of this is contained in a pamphlet published in Leicester after 1877 entitled The Will of William Wigston for the Government of the Wigston Hospital. (fn. 11) The statutes were written in the summer of 1521 and were confirmed by John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, in September 1522, and by Richard Mawdely, Archdeacon of Leicester, in April 1525. The hospital was to be called 'the Hospital of William Wigston, Junior', and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Katherine, and St. Ursula and her Companions. The chaplains were to be appointed by the founder or his brother Thomas (canon of Newarke College, d. 1537) during their lives, and then by the Dean and Chapter of Newarke College, the Mayor and Justices, and the Abbot of Leicester—each having the power of nomination for terms of fourteen days successively until an appointment was made. The chaplains were to take oaths on admission to their offices, and to keep the statutes according to their 'plain, literal and grammatical sense'. The master was given control of the hospital's property and authorized to make leases of its lands. Leases were to be for terms of three years 'unless by the discretion of the master greater profit may come'. Fines for renewing leases and improvements in rents were to be converted to the hospital's use. The master's salary was to be £8, the confrater's £6; the master, but not the confrater, might hold a benefice outside Leicester to augment his salary. Both chaplains were to reside, although the master was permitted one month's leave of absence each year.
The twelve poor folk in whose name the hospital was incorporated were to be 'men, blind, lame, decrepit, paralytic, or maimed in their limbs, and idiots wanting their natural senses, so that they be peaceable not disturbing the hospital'. They were to be unmarried and without friends or relations to support them. In addition to these, twelve women, 'poor, aged, and of good report and honest conversation', were to be maintained in the hospital. The men were to be appointed by the founder or his brothers, and the women by the founder or his wife; after their deaths, all appointments were to be made by Newarke College, although the chaplains might fill vacancies when the college failed to appoint or made unsuitable nominations.
The chaplains were to say daily mass, either in the morning or evening at a time convenient for the poor; on Sundays and principal feasts, matins, vespers, and other offices were to be recited in the presence of the poor. Attendance at the religious processions held in St. Martin's parish and keeping the obits of the founder's two wives were other offices enjoined on the chaplains. By a composition between the hospital, the abbey, and the Vicar of St. Martin's, the chaplains and poor were exempted from parochial jurisdiction and from the payment of tithes and other dues in return for an annual rent of 6s. 8d. to the Vicar of St. Martin's. The hospital was charged with the maintenance of two chantries in St. Martin's Church. The first was for Thomas Smyth, a Leicester draper, and was to last for seventeen years from Christmas 1525 and be paid for from money left by Smyth for the purpose; the second, for William Breyfield, to last for fourteen years from 1533, was, however, to be maintained from the revenues. When these chantries ended, their priests were to be retained, if the revenues were sufficient, as additional chaplains to say mass for the founder's intentions.
Other ordinances governed the domestic life of the hospital. The poor men were to live in separate rooms on the ground floor, while the women were to have rooms on the upper floor with a common room in addition. No inmate might leave the hospital without permission. The men were to receive 8d. weekly, and the women 7d.; gowns were to be provided and a yearly sum of £2 was to be allotted for new cloth. The care of the poor was entrusted to three of the stronger women, two for the men, the third for the remaining women. These women were charged with such duties as making the beds, cooking, and attending to the personal cleanliness of the inmates. They were to receive 8d. weekly and be allowed places in the hospital when they themselves became infirm.
The first years of the hospital were the most critical in its history. Throughout a period of continual political and religious change which threatened the existence of all foundations of a religious character and which in Leicester saw the dissolution of the abbey and Newarke College, the hospital preserved both its status and lands intact. That it did remain untouched was probably as much due to the newness and simplicity of the foundation, and to some extent to the vigilance and continuity in office of Walter Browne, master, and Thomas Thorpe, confrater, as to any statutory immunity.
In 1545 commissioners appointed under the first Chantry Act visited the hospital, and examined its endowment and financial state. They reported that its object was the maintenance of one warden, three chaplains and twenty-four poor to pray for the king and the founder. One chaplain was noted as a chantry priest. The chaplains and poor were 'resydent in good order and estate . . . and all the seyde romes be full and none voyde'. (fn. 12) The hospital, although liable for the payment of first fruits and tenths, was considered to be exempt from the Act and from the second Chantry Act which extended confiscation to every foundation for the commemoration of the dead. Thus, neither the association of two chantries supported from the revenues nor the retention of their chaplains as priests officiating for the founder's intentions obscured the primary purpose of the foundation. The religious changes, however, had one important effect on the hospital. With the dissolution of Newarke College in 1548 the Crown acquired the powers of supervision granted to the college by the founder; henceforward, the chaplains were appointed by letters patent under the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster, the chancellor acting as official visitor.
The revenues during this period, averaging between £95 and £100 yearly, provided adequately for the hospital's expenses. (fn. 13) The chief outgoings were the allowances of the poor, totalling £39 13s.; the salaries of the master and confrater, raised in 1541 to £10 and £8 respectively; the salaries of the other chaplains, together £10 13s. 4d.; payments for oatmeal, salt, fuel, and candles, averaging £5; and fees, chief rents, ecclesiastical dues, repairs, and legal expenses, which amounted to some £25 yearly.
In 1553 the chaplains obtained letters patent confirming the foundation licences. (fn. 14) The object of this confirmation and its effect in defining the status of the hospital were, however, both confused by the religious changes of the reign of Mary. It was in this reign that the connexion between the hospital and a grammar school in Leicester originated. Agnes Wigston and Thomas Wigston, the founder's brother, had entrusted to certain friends, including Walter Browne, a sum of money to maintain a schoolmaster in Leicester. Lands in Allington and Denton (Lincs.), Hathern and Breedon (Leics.), and Netherseal and Overseal (Derb.), bought in 1545 with this money, were conveyed to the chaplains and poor in November 1557. (fn. 15) From the income produced, the schoolmaster received £10 yearly and the master and confrater took 7s. and 5s. respectively. In 1558, Browne and Thorpe purchased property in Humberstone Gate and Aylestone to support a second master. (fn. 16)
Walter Browne died in 1560 and was succeeded by Nicholas Harwar; in 1566 Thomas Thorpe was succeeded by John Pott who combined the offices of confrater and schoolmaster. Of the two former chantry priests, Richard Wilcocks remained as 'curate' until 1573, while Nicholas Lubbenham, chaplain of the Breyfield chantry, was appointed Vicar of St. Martin's in 1557. (fn. 17)
During the hospital's early years most of its lands were leased for short terms in accordance with the founder's statutes. Soon, however, the practice grew of consolidating estates and leasing them for terms of 21 years, three lives, or even 99 years. The practice of long-term leasing was not necessarily harmful so long as leases contained such safeguards as impeachment of waste and while the fines received were put to the hospital's own use. Two leases for 99 years, however, those of Castle Carlton (1564) and Swannington (1566) manors, resulted in grave financial loss and continual litigation. (fn. 18) Although at first the increased rents benefited the hospital, the omission of safeguards in the leases, particularly in the case of the Swannington lease, and the inability of the hospital to profit from increases in land values rendered the leases uneconomic.
In 1567 the first of two inquiries into Harwar's administration was instituted. (fn. 19) Commissioners were appointed to investigate the whereabouts of plate and jewels left by Browne to the hospital and the terms for which leases had been made. Harwar, however, refused to give evidence, and the commissioners were only able to record evidence of the Vicar of St. Martin's that the master had misappropriated £170 received from his predecessor. Harwar died before proceedings were taken against him. In August 1568 new commissioners of inquiry, including the Earl of Huntingdon, were appointed to review Harwar's administration in relation to the statutes, to investigate particular complaints, and to institute the new master. (fn. 20) This inquiry revealed that Harwar had made long-term and improvident leases, that he had misappropriated £166 received from Browne, of which £100 was money left by Wigston to the hospital, and £144 received from wood sales, and that he had failed to account for £74, the balance from 1567, and for the receipts for the first half of 1568. Pott was also found to owe money to the hospital but since the inquiry had fled overseas. (fn. 21)
The new master was Thomas Sampson, a wellknown preacher of Puritan views, who, returning from exile during Mary's reign, had received from Elizabeth several appointments, including a prebend in Durham Minster, the deanery of Christ Church, Oxford, and a prebend in St. Paul's. As master of the hospital, he was an active and able administrator, and although unsuccessful in an attempt to challenge the validity of the Castle Carlton lease, he succeeded in obtaining an agreement with the tenant of Swannington reserving certain timber for the hospital's use. Sampson also recovered from the Exchequer the annual payments for first fruits and tenths which, despite the exemption granted to hospitals in the Act of 1559, (fn. 22) Harwar had continued to make. (fn. 23)
One effect of the inquiries into Harwar's administration had been to reassert the founder's statutes. This reassertion, however, by revealing ordinances and provisions already invalidated by the Reformation changes was itself a cause of their replacement. The inquiries had also shown the need of a clearer definition of the master's powers, particularly with regard to leases. The necessary restatement of the statutes was effected when the Earl of Huntingdon, contemplating certain endowments in Leicester, among them the appointment of a town preacher, resolved to associate them with a reorganization of the hospital. By letters patent of 1572 confirming the foundation, the earl, with Ralph Sadler, the chancellor, and George Bromley, the attorney general of the Duchy of Lancaster, were authorized to draw up new statutes. (fn. 24) At the same time the chaplains were licensed to receive gifts of lands to the annual value of 100 marks. The new statutes were introduced in 1574 and were confirmed by an Act of Parliament of 1576. (fn. 25) Except for one short interruption, during the Commonwealth period, they regulated the hospital until replaced in 1849.
The earl's statutes show changes, both of character and of detail, from those of the founder. Thus, they reflected his Protestant views and assured the proper use of his own endowments, and at the same time attempted to correct the former abuses in the administration.
The hospital was to be called 'William Wigston's Hospital' and was to be governed under the authority of the Crown, the chancellor and council of the Duchy of Lancaster being constituted official visitors. The master's control over the administration of the hospital was confirmed, but leases which he made were to be for terms of not longer than 21 years or three lives, and the rents reserved were to be not less than had been paid in the previous twenty years. He was also to keep an inventory of the hospital's goods, and to survey its lands every seven years. The master's salary was to be £10, together with 7s. from the school lands and various allowances amounting to about £15. In addition, he was now entitled to augment his salary by taking such fines as were reasonable for the renewal of leases. The confrater's duties were mainly concerned with the religious instruction of the poor, the nature of which was described in detail. Under his supervision, the poor were to attend St. Martin's every day for morning and evening prayers, while other evening prayers were to be recited in the hospital chapel. The confrater's salary was to be £13 6s. 8d., representing his former salary augmented by that of the curate, together with 5s. from the school lands.
The new statutes made few changes in the internal regulation of the hospital. The master was now authorized to fill vacancies, although in cases of neglect the confrater and the Mayor of Leicester might exercise the power in turn. No provision was made for any increase either in the number of the poor or in their weekly allowances, but when the capital of the hospital exceeded £100 the master might distribute the surplus among charitable causes in Leicester.
In fulfilment of the licence granted in the letters patent of 1572, the Earl of Huntingdon assigned to the hospital in 1576 three rent charges from his property in Leicester amounting to £66 13s. 4d. (fn. 26) This money was to be apportioned in this manner: £10 to the master of the hospital; £6 13s. 4d. for new clothes for the poor; £30 to the confrater on condition that he should be 'a continual resident preacher' in Leicester and should also relinquish his share in the South Field tithes to the master; £10 to the schoolmaster; and the remaining £10 to endow two scholarships at the Universities and two at the free school itself.
The main effect of these changes was to enhance the advantages of the mastership at the expense of adequate provision for the poor. In particular, during a period when rents were generally rising throughout the country, the master's new right to take the fines for leases encouraged him to exact increasingly heavy payments rather than to raise rents and thereby increase the income of the hospital. Of more immediate damage was the failure to secure any income to pay for the allowances given to the master.
By careful management which involved the sacrificing of his personal allowances, Sampson was able to balance his accounts; but the defects in the new statutes were soon revealed under the administration of his son and successor, Nathanael, who steadily accumulated annual deficits of some £15 so that at his death in 1611 the hospital owed about £300. The hospital's plight may be seen in the fact that rents produced in 1607 the same figure, £115, as in 1573.
Inheriting this debt, John Herault de Saint Sauveur (1611–13) obtained a commission of inquiry into Sampson's administration and took proceedings against his executors. It was found that he had pawned the hospital plate and embezzled money received from wood sales and from the goods of the poor. He had also granted leases at the instance of his friends. (fn. 27) Herault tried to overthrow the Swannington and Castle Carlton leases, (fn. 28) and his efforts were continued by his successor, Samuel Clarke (1613–41), who obtained settlements improving the reserved rents. For an undertaking that his lease would not be questioned again, the lessee of the Swannington lands agreed to an increase of £10 in the yearly rent as well as a fine of £500. (fn. 29) In a similar settlement, the lessee of Castle Carlton agreed to make a rent charge of £10 8s. in favour of the hospital. (fn. 30)
Clarke was non-resident and left the day-to-day running of the hospital in the hands of the confrater. The hospital was fortunate throughout its history in the character of the confraters, and Thomas Sacheverell and John Angel, both of whom held the post of town preacher, were able deputies and respected by the corporation. Clarke, however, exhibited all the failings of previous masters. An inquiry (fn. 31) instituted after his death revealed that he had consistently taken the money received from the sale of the goods of the poor, accepted bribes for the admission of inmates, and removed hospital property to his house at Kingsthorpe (Northants.). He had also connived at inclosures of land at Norton, Snibston, and Leicester, to the hospital's detriment, and had offered tenants renewals of unexpired leases. During his mastership he received some £1,700 in fines and £1,000 from the South Field tithes. The original lease had been extended by Francis Hastings in 1582 for a further term ending in 1640. (fn. 32) Clarke, claiming to have purchased the reversion, assigned the lease to his son shortly before his death. The hospital's doubtful title was further confused by the sequestra tion of the estates of the principal contestants and bymuch cross-litigation. Finally, although the tithes were returned to the hospital by the Committee of Indemnity in 1650, three years later the master allowed its title to go by default. (fn. 33) The hospital suffered little during the Civil War although successive masters were involved in the political struggle. William Chillingworth, a well-known controversialist and a royalist, was appointed in 1641 but ejected by Parliament in January 1644 and died the same month. His royalist successor, John Meredith, despite a sequestration order in the following April, continued in office until the nominee of Parliament, Job Grey, was successfully intruded in 1646. Both Grey and Angel, the confrater, actively supported the parliamentary cause only to be themselves ejected on refusing in 1650 to take the Engagement demanded by the Independents. (fn. 34)
While Chillingworth was master, the lessee of Swannington sought a renewal of his 99-year lease, and offered to pay a new rent of £40. (fn. 35) His own tenants in the same lands also approached Chillingworth offering a £400 fine for leases directly from the hospital and urging him to contest the lease once again. (fn. 36) Grey subsequently acceded to both their requests but, as the rents reserved in the new leases amounted to only £21, his zeal little benefited the hospital. His successor, Richard Lee, considering that the hospital would derive more benefit by permitting the 99-year lease to run its course, allowed judgement to be given against the hospital. (fn. 37) The Swannington tenants thereupon stirred up complaints among the poor against Lee. A petition sent on their behalf in 1652 calling for a survey of the hospital lands was, however, set aside by the duchy court on legal grounds. (fn. 38)
Further petitions (fn. 39) by the poor, by the confrater, William Simmes, and by the mayor and burgesses of Leicester complaining against Lee's administration led to the appointment in February 1656 of a commission of inquiry. (fn. 40) The main complaints, which Lee effectively answered, concerned the low rental value of the hospital lands, stated to be £200 compared with an estimated value of £1,200, the alleged oppression of the Swannington tenants, and the master's retention of most of the profits from the South Field tithes. The following June an Order in Council appointed Major General Whalley to examine the value and appropriation of the revenues and the condition of the foundation, and ordered no further leases to be made meanwhile. No evidence of this second inquiry is recorded. (fn. 41) Towards the end of 1656 the mayor and corporation petitioned Parliament for a reform of the hospital and in November William Stanley, one of the members for Leicester, introduced a bill to regulate its government. Lee strongly contested the bill but it was read a third time in February 1657 and received the Protector's assent on 9 June. (fn. 42) The Act placed the control of the hospital in the hands of 22 trustees and governors, who were to include the master and the Mayor of Leicester. (fn. 43) They were authorized to make by-laws and ordinances and given power to make leases not exceeding 21 years and these were to be made upon reasonably improved rents instead of fines. The master's salary was fixed at £40 and the allowances granted him in the Huntingdon statutes were revoked. Provision was also made for the development of the hospital in the form of increases in the number of the poor. The Act thus overturned the Huntingdon settlement which had invested in the mastership the whole profit of the hospital's possessions, and introduced reforms which, had they been confirmed at the Restoration, would have put the hospital on a sound footing and enabled its objects to be extended.
Despite Lee's resistance to the bill, and criticism of his accounts made during its progress, he was confirmed as master and granted a licence for nonresidence. (fn. 44) During their short period of control the governors succeeded in increasing the hospital revenues although rents still were inadequate to meet higher expenditure. In 1607 receipts had been £115 and payments £133, the Huntingdon rentcharge being accounted for separately; by 1650, receipts had risen to £222 and payments to £240; in 1659, receipts totalled £267, of which £235 came in rents, and payments £243. In 1656 the number of the poor was increased by the addition of one poor woman for whose maintenance John Whatton of Leicester gave a rent-charge of £7 from a close in All Saints' parish to the mayor and burgesses. (fn. 45)
At the Restoration the authority of the Huntingdon statutes was re-established. John Meredith, excluded since 1646, returned as master in June 1660, and Thomas Pestell the younger replaced Simmes as confrater. One of Meredith's first measures was to increase the allowances of the poor. These had remained at the scale fixed by the founder for more than a century until Clarke had raised the sums to 13d. for the men and nursing women, and 11d. for the other women. Lee had supplemented the allowances from his receipts from the South Field tithes, and they had been raised in 1659. Increases in 1661 and 1663 brought the respective sums to 2s. and 1s. 10d. and the total payments to £40 above the 1650 figure. Improved rents helped to meet this new charge on the revenues, particularly a reserved rent of £60 on the new lease of the Swannington lands, the original 99-year lease having been surrendered soon after the Restoration. (fn. 46) Thus when Meredith died in 1665, the hospital was at last able to meet its expenses.
The master, whose salary of £35 was no longer augmented from the South Field tithes, continued, however, to take the fullest advantage of his right to take the fines for renewal of leases to the hospital's detriment. The result was that, although most of the leases were renewed during the second half of the 17th century, there was an improvement of only £100 between 1660 and 1697 in the rents received, and of this the increase in the rent of Swannington from £35 to £70 in 1668 together with some £18 in mining rents from Snibston contributed the greater part. The 99-year lease of Castle Carlton expired in 1665 but the old rent was increased by only £3. (fn. 47) Although increases in the allowances of the poor and other expenditure fully absorbed this new revenue, the hospital's financial condition was at this period healthy.
In September 1697 a commission, appointed by the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, reported favourably on the financial state of the hospital and on the discipline of the poor. (fn. 48) The revenues were stated to be £342, the buildings in good repair, and a 'considerable addition' noted in the allowances of the poor. The master, Robert Hardwick, did not reside, but the commissioners regarded this as a benefit to the hospital since this meant that his allowances did not have to be paid. The confrater's salary was considered 'too scanty and narrow' and it was recommended that it should be doubled. The advantages of this office did not compare with those of the mastership, yet when combined with the town and Trinity Hospital lectureships and a Leicester benefice the post provided quite a comfortable living.
Unfortunately the prosperity reported by the 1697 commission was both artificial and temporary, for by 1730 the hospital was once more in serious debt. In 1700 rents produced £343 and although payments amounted to £350 the hospital had capital of £128; in 1760 the balance of accounts was similar, rents being £357 and payments £363 but the hospital owed the master £120. Most of the current leases had been made in the late 17th century for terms of three lives and the result was that the value of the hospital lands remained stationary when costs continued to rise. A 1729 rental shows two leases dating from 1620 and 1634, twelve from 1660–5, and the rest from between 1665 and 1689; no leases were made between 1689 and 1729. (fn. 49)
During the 18th and early 19th centuries the hospital provided in the mastership a comfortable sinecure for a succession of eminent and learned men who personally had little concern for its well-being. John Jackson, a scholar whose Unitarian views aroused widespread controversy and whose conflict with Samuel Carte, Vicar of St. Martin's, caused much local scandal, was followed by William Rawstorn, Folliott Herbert Walker Cornewall, later successively Bishop of Bristol, Hereford, and Worcester, and John Selwyn. Of these, only Jackson resided at the hospital and it was to his credit that despite inadequate revenues repairs to the hospital buildings were carried out and the allowances of the poor raised in 1751 and 1755. (fn. 50)
The affairs of the hospital, which throughout the 18th century engaged little public attention, were during the 19th century the subject of continual debate and many schemes for reforming its government were introduced. Once again reforms arose from the investigation of complaints. In 1821 Selwyn was criticized for the removal and sale of fabric from the hospital chapel, for his non-residence, and for misappropriating the proceeds from sales of wood. Later it appeared that Selwyn had converted the latter into capital to augment the hospital's negligible income. The master's exclusive enjoyment of the fines for leases was, however, the centre of the criticism. A public meeting held in December 1822 petitioned the mayor for official support of a demand for the remedy of abuses, and the town clerk, Thomas Burbidge, was ordered to examine the borough records relating to the hospital. (fn. 51) In his report Burbidge reviewed the administration in the light of both the Wigston and the Huntingdon statutes and drew particular attention to two clauses in the latter from which the hospital's difficulties stemmed. He vividly contrasted the way in which the masters had interpreted the clause that rents reserved in new leases should be as much as or more than those received during the previous twenty years, keeping the rents almost stationary, with the latitude of interpretation that they had given to the clause permitting their exclusive use of the fines for renewals. (fn. 52)
In 1823 a local committee was formed which sought the abolition of leasing for three lives, a fixed salary for the master, and the amendment of the statutes, (fn. 53) and a petition with 5,400 names was sent to the chancellor of the duchy. The chancellor promised to make rules ensuring the gradual increase in reserved rents and obliging the master to account for the fines he received and also to reside for part of the year. Later the same year, the chancellor admitted that the practice of leasing for three lives was improvident but argued that too sudden a change would be harsh and even unjust. William Vansittart (1823–47) on his appointment undertook not to take excessive fines, (fn. 54) from which Selwyn had received some £24,400, and the committee, feeling its main object achieved, ceased further action. In 1826 and 1833 Vansittart further undertook to raise rents on renewals by a gradual scale to an increase of one-third on the third renewal. Moreover, he agreed to account for fines received, to keep the hospital buildings in good repair, and to raise the confrater's salary to £100. Vansittart, who did not reside, augmented his salary of £45 by the rent of the master's house and, between 1823 and 1834, by £2,588 in fines. However, despite new rules and safeguards, the hospital lands by 1834 produced only £416, compared with £357 in 1760. (fn. 55)
Commissioners appointed under the Charity Act (1837) examined the hospital in 1837. (fn. 56) In 1834 the hospital's income was £508, of which capital invested by Selwyn in annuities produced £71; expenditure in the same year was £500, the poor receiving a weekly allowance of 4s. each. In 1844 Vansittart made a temporary addition of four women to the number of the poor and these he maintained at his own expense. (fn. 57) Gradually the new rules began to have effect and by 1854 the revenues, excluding mining rents, had risen to £840. (fn. 58)
Soon after the appointment of Edward Thomas Vaughan (1847–60) as master, Chancery proceedings were commenced with the objects of reforming the practice of life-leasing and of vesting the administration in the hands of trustees. (fn. 59) These concluded in 1849, when the court, declaring that the Huntingdon statutes in so far as they permitted the master to grant leases and retain the fines were neither authorized by the 1572 letters patent nor confirmed by the 1576 Act, ordered that the practice of life-leasing should stop. At the same time the master's salary was commuted to a fixed sum of £200.
In 1854 proposals that the charity should support the Free Grammar School were widely discussed, and in 1857 a new scheme for reorganizing the hospital was approved in Chancery. (fn. 60) This placed the management of the hospital lands in the hands of twenty trustees with power to make leases for terms not exceeding 21 years. A receiver of rents, a surgeon, and a clerk were also to be appointed. The sum of £2,500 was settled as the hospital's annual income and the residue of the actual revenues with royalties from mining leases was to be invested as capital. The master's salary was raised to £300 but his authority was now limited to matters of internal discipline. The confrater, who was now to receive £200, was charged with reading morning prayers, performing divine service and delivering sermons on Sundays, and administering the Lord's Supper monthly. The poor's allowances were also increased, the keepers or nurses receiving 10s. and the remaining poor, both men and women, 8s. each. Finally, the trustees were directed to provide new hospital buildings which were in fact built (see below), and given authority to set up schools for 200 boys and 100 girls. (fn. 61)
The provisions of the 1857 scheme for the founding of schools were set aside by the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, and a fresh scheme for the charity was approved 1873. This divided it into a hospital and a schools branch and appointed a separate body of governors, as distinct from the hospital trustees, to administer the schools. A sum of £15,000, raised to £20,000 in 1875, was allotted for building the schools, and a yearly sum of £500 set aside for the boys' school to be increased to £2,000 a year on opening. The powers of the duchy over the schools branch were transferred to the Charity Commissioners, and regulations for the schools, which were to be called the 'Wyggeston Hospital Schools', were established. The boys' school near the site of the old buildings was opened in 1877 and the girls' school in Clarence Street in the next year.
In 1876 the trustees recommended changes in the administration including a new corporate body to control both the estates and the internal life of the hospital, the appointment of a single chaplain, and a system of outdoor relief. (fn. 62)
The 1873 scheme almost caused the closing of the hospital, for the charity could not afford the annual payment of £2,000 for the support of the schools. (fn. 63) In 1876 the revenues amounted to only £2,800 from land rents and £1,400 from mining rents. A temporary arrangement whereby the schools' income was paid from the mining rents, which formerly had been invested to form capital, enabled the hospital to survive. (fn. 64) The threat to the hospital's independent existence which lay in the contention of the Charity Commissioners that the schools' income was intended by the 1873 scheme to be the first charge on the revenues was increased when in March 1887 a Chancery order in favour of the schools branch finally settled the relative claims of the two branches of the charity. This time the hospital branch was preserved by a further Chancery order which allowed the mining rents to be diverted to meet its needs.
In May 1892 the Charity Commissioners introduced a new scheme, (fn. 65) which united the trustees and governors of the two branches and gave the new corporate body effective control over the whole charity. Leases were to be for a maximum term of 7 years, both mining rents and receipts from wood sales were to be invested, and the annual payment of £2,000 to the schools was settled as the first charge on the revenues. The trustees were given power to nominate new inmates and to vary their allowances between a minimum of 7s. and a maximum of 10s. weekly. The scheme included provision for an increase in the number of the poor and the introduction of a system of outdoor relief on which, when the revenues were sufficient, the trustees might spend up to £400. Another provision for the appointment of one chaplain only was put into effect when, on the resignation of the confrater in 1892, that office was abolished.
In 1892 the charity received an income of £5,146 from estates comprising 3,230 acres and in addition had an invested capital of £15,000. Even at this date almost one-third of the current leases had been made before 1847, and these produced only £185.
The hospital is at present (1956) regulated by a scheme introduced by the Charity Commissioners in March 1925. Amendments to the scheme were made in 1932, 1937, 1947, and 1951 to enable the amounts of out-pensions and sick-assistance to be raised. (fn. 66) The management is vested in eighteen governors, of whom the lord mayor and the master act ex officio, twelve are appointed by the city and county councils and other bodies, and the remainder are co-opted. The inmates receive each 10s. weekly, a yearly sum of £4,000 is available for outdoor relief, and £500 is payable in sick-assistance benefits. Recent land transactions, including the sale of the Castle Carlton estates in 1947–8 and purchases at Norton by Galby in 1928–9 and 1933–4 and at Churchover (Warws.) in 1935–7, have increased the total estates to 4,677 acres. In 1950–1 the income of the hospital was £20,000 and expenditure some £19,000, while a balance of £5,000 was carried over and the hospital possessed stock whose nominal value in March 1951 was £209,000. (fn. 67)
The Wyggeston Grammar Schools are no longer attached to the foundation but the annual payment of £2,000 is continued and is applied in special benefits for pupils of both schools. (fn. 68)
The buildings in which Wyggeston's Hospital was housed from its foundation until 1868 stood in St. Martin's West, facing the west end of the church and the churchyard. The hospital building was a long two-storied building, timber-framed and covered with plaster. There seems, most unusually, to have been a stone parapet and stone buttresses. At the north end was the master's house, originally the same height as the rest of the hospital, but enlarged in 1730 by the addition of one story and a sloping slate roof. (fn. 69) At the south end was the little stone Gothic chapel, abutting on Peacock Lane. This was also restored in 1730. (fn. 70) The twelve rooms for the male hospitallers were on the ground floor, and there were nine similar rooms for the women on the upper floor, together with the nurses' rooms. A further range of building at the back contained store-rooms and kitchens and was probably built later than the main block. Behind the hospital was a courtyard and garden, with an entrance from High Cross Street in which stood the confrater's timbered house. (fn. 71)
The chapel contained a considerable quantity of painted glass, most of which was removed at the beginning of the 19th century to the parish church of Ockbrook (Derb.). Some of the windows were blocked up at the same time. The chapel also contained the tombs and monuments of several of the masters and confraters, including that of the first master, William Fisher. (fn. 72)
The old hospital was vacated in April 1868 but the building remained standing until 1875. (fn. 73) Despite proposals, which were urged by the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, to have the hospital converted for use as the hall of the proposed Wyggeston School, the trustees decided in 1873 that it must be demolished. (fn. 74) In May 1874 the confrater's house, with several other old houses in High Cross Street, was demolished, and the hospital building and chapel were pulled down in 1875, when the materials and fittings were sold for £92. (fn. 75) The tombs and memorial slabs from the chapel were removed to the new chapel; the seats from the chapel were given to the Trinity Hospital and the porches which had faced the path in St. Martin's West were given to St. Nicholas's Church, together with a niche from the chapel. (fn. 76) The site of the old chapel is marked by a railed square in the yard of Alderman Newton's Boys' School.
The new buildings were built in Westcotes and were occupied in 1868. The architect was the Crown Surveyor, T. C. Sorby. (fn. 77)
Four seals of the hospital are known. The first common seal, which was used until the promulgation of the Huntingdon statutes, was a pointed oval seal, 2½ in. long and 13/5 in. across at its widest point, depicting the Virgin and Child with the arms of the founder beneath and the legend, in black letter, sigillum communie hospitalis willelmi wigston. (fn. 78) The Huntingdon statutes provided for a new seal to be kept in the common chest. (fn. 79) A matrix which still survives seems likely to be that of this seal, though it is not now used. It is a round seal, 13/5 in. in diameter, bearing the arms of the founder flanked by his initials with the legend in Roman capitals sigillum hospitalis gulielmi wigston at the top, and below date eleemosynam et acce omnia munda sunt vobis. The date 'A° 1574' appears after the word 'Wigston' in the upper inscription. (fn. 80) In 1673 a new matrix was made with the same designs and legend on a rather larger seal 2 3/10 in. long and 2 1/10 in. across at its widest point, on which the legend, in Roman capitals, runs in two lines round the founder's arms. The matrix is dated on the back. A smaller seal, probably made at the same time and formerly used for sealing leases, (fn. 81) bears the founder's arms without inscription. These three matrices are kept by the clerk to the governors.
Masters of Wyggeston's Hospital
|William Fisher||1513 (fn. 82) –1534|
|Walter Browne||1535 (fn. 83) –1560 (fn. 84)|
|Nicholas Harwar||1560 (fn. 85) –1568|
|Thomas Sampson||1568 (fn. 86) –1589|
|Nathanael Sampson||1589 (fn. 87) –1611|
|John Herault de Saint Sauveur||1611 (fn. 88) –1613|
|Samuel Clarke||1613 (fn. 89) –1641|
|William Chillingworth||1641 (fn. 90) –1643|
|John Meredith||1643 (fn. 91) –1646|
|Job Grey||1646 (fn. 92) –1649|
|Richard Lee||1649 (fn. 93) –1660|
|John Meredith (restored)||1660 (fn. 94) –1665|
|Richard Clarke||1665 (fn. 95) –1684 (fn. 96)|
|John Pyke||1684 (fn. 97) –1690|
|Robert Hardwick||1690 (fn. 98) –1718|
|Samuel Clarke||1718 (fn. 99) –1729|
|John Jackson||1729 (fn. 100) –1768|
|William Rawstorn||1768 (fn. 101) –1790|
|Folliott Herbert Walker Cornewall||1790 (fn. 102) –1793|
|John Selwyn||1793 (fn. 103) –1823|
|William Vansittart||1823 (fn. 104) –1847|
|Edward Thomas Vaughan||1847 (fn. 105) –1860|
|David James Vaughan||1860 (fn. 106) –1905|
|Edward Atkins||1905 (fn. 107) –1927|
|Sydney Thorold Winckley||1927–1937 (fn. 108)|
|James Sidmouth Cooper||1938 (fn. 109) –|
Confraters of Wyggeston's Hospital
|John Thorpe||1513 (fn. 110) –1521|
|Richard Walsh||1521 (fn. 111) –1533|
|Thomas Thorpe||1533 (fn. 112) –1566 (fn. 113)|
|John Pott||1566 (fn. 114) –1568 (fn. 115)|
|Peter Wood||1569 (fn. 116) –1571 (fn. 117)|
|Geoffrey Johnson||1572 (fn. 118) –1585|
|Nathanael Sampson||1585 (fn. 119) –1589|
|Thomas Sacheverell||1589 (fn. 120) –1626 (fn. 121)|
|John Angel||1626 (fn. 122) –1652|
|William Simmes||1652 (fn. 123) –1660|
|Thomas Pestell||1660 (fn. 124) –1667|
|John Newton||1667 (fn. 125) –1696|
|John Rogers||1696 (fn. 126) –1713|
|George Anderson||1713 (fn. 127) –1718|
|Robert Anderson||1718 (fn. 128) –1719|
|John Jackson||1719 (fn. 129) –1729|
|Philip Hacket||1729 (fn. 130) –1735|
|William Tiffin||1735 (fn. 131) –1755|
|Thomas Ludlam||1755 (fn. 132) –1812|
|William Hayton||1812 (fn. 133) –1820|
|Jemson Davies||1820 (fn. 134) –1857|
|Humphrey Davey Millet||1861–1867|
|Thomas Henry Jones||1867–1875|
|Thomas Yard||1875–1892 (fn. 135)|
At the dissolution of the Newarke College in 1547 (fn. 136) the hospital attached to it continued to exist under royal patronage, providing accommodation for 100 poor men and women and 10 nurses. (fn. 137) The annual revenues of the hospital in the period immediately after the dissolution of the college amounted to nearly £220, and were paid through the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 138) In 1610 the Earl of Huntingdon, who had bought the patent of the former master, William Fowkes, sold it to Leicester Corporation for £26 13s. 4d. (fn. 139) The hospital was incorporated as the Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity by James I in 1615. (fn. 140) The incorporation was preceded by an inquiry into the activities of William Fowkes with regard to the endowments of the hospital, and the corporation was assisted in its application for the charter by Sir William Heyrick. (fn. 141) In 1610 the Com mon Hall decided that the master's yearly salary of £13 6s. 8d. should be paid into the town's chamber, (fn. 142) but the salary was granted specifically to the mayor by Charles I in 1625. (fn. 143)
The charter of 1615 provided that the hospital should be governed by the mayor as master, with four aldermen and the two chamberlains as his assistants. A chaplain was to care for the inmates, who were not to exceed 110 in number. The maximum yearly value of land which might be held by the hospital was increased to £350. In 1619 new statutes for the regulation of the hospital were promulgated under the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster; these have been added to from time to time. (fn. 144) The revenues of the hospital consisted of £229 in 1643, all provided by the duchy grant. (fn. 145) In 1647 Parliament stopped this grant and the hospital was supported until 1650 by the corporation, which took great credit for this but in fact regarded the money as a loan. (fn. 146) In 1650 Parliament granted to trustees certain rents which produced an income of £271, out of which the hospital, the usher of the Free Grammar School, and the Vicar of St. Mary's were supported. (fn. 147) The duchy's payment of £229 was resumed at the Restoration. (fn. 148)
During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the hospital was almost perpetually in financial difficulties, (fn. 149) which the Duchy of Lancaster was unwilling to relieve. Many donations, however, were made by private persons, (fn. 150) especially members of the corporation, whose connexion with the hospital was maintained unofficially as well as officially from the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 151)
In the later half of the 18th century the corporation's control over the hospital was weakened by the renewed claims of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1768 the chancellor of the duchy, Lord Strange, asserted his right to nominate to vacant places in the hospital, a right which had previously been exercised by the mayor, although the general surveillance of the duchy was provided for by the charter of 1614. (fn. 152) The chancellor's right to nominate, which he clearly regarded as an important political asset, was affirmed, with the proviso that the mayor should have the nomination if the chancellor failed to act within three months of a place becoming vacant. In 1786, however, Lord Hawkesbury, then chancellor, stated that for the future he would appoint only at the recommendation of the mayor, and in 1837 the Charity Commissioners found that all appointments were made by the mayor.
Duchy control over the hospital was also renewed in the 18th century on the question of the rebuilding of the hospital. Repairs had generally been carried out with loans from the corporation, as the repairs fund was too small to permit any piece of work to be carried out without such help. (fn. 153) The buildings gradually fell into decay, and suggestions were made by the mayor and his assistants for their improvement. These were carried out, (fn. 154) but the payment was made by the duchy, which also issued new orders for the financial management of the hospital. (fn. 155) The corporation had appealed against the insufficiency of the hospital's funds in 1772, an appeal which was met with accusations from the duchy officials of maladministration on the part of the corporation, said to include the illegal payment of a salary to the mayor and the extensive non-residence of the poor. (fn. 156) New orders to improve the conditions under which the hospital was maintained were promulgated in 1780; (fn. 157) these included the establishments of new benefits to encourage residence, the stopping of the mayor's salary, the increase of the duchy's grant, and the reduction of the number of the poor to sixty. The revised revenues were to be just over £488. The resulting improvements in the hospital's financial position enabled a repairs fund to be collected and increased payments to be made to the poor on several occasions up to 1821. (fn. 158)
After effecting these improvements the duchy's control seems to have slackened and that of the corporation strengthened. The hospital was heavily in debt to the corporation by 1835, when its income was about £16 below expenditure. (fn. 159) In 1837 there were ten vacancies and economies were being practised in order to raise extra funds. Each inmate, whether living in the hospital or not, was paid 3s. weekly, the keepers receiving 3s. 8½d. Only 28 of the 70 hospitallers lived in the hospital itself in 1837. (fn. 160) The annual income then amounted to £864 16d. 9d., of which £485 came from rents, mainly of property in Leicester itself, but also from lands in Whetstone, Houghton on the Hill, and Enderby. The hospital had received numerous gifts and bequests of lands and rent-charges, some given for specific purposes, such as the provision of clothing or food. The Duchy of Lancaster paid a grant of £246. (fn. 161)
There was still a reduced number of inmates as late as 1846, (fn. 162) but the hospital supported 90 again in 1877, when the annual income was £1,350, the value of the land rents having increased to over £900. (fn. 163) The income in 1953 had risen to about £3,500, of which £330 came from rents, many of the gifts of land having been sold and the money invested. The 4 acres of 'charter land', all lying close to the hospital and the only land retained from the 16th century, was still in the possession of the hospital and had a rental of £270. Rent-charges were paid out of houses in East Bond Street, High Street, Northgate Street, and Frog Island in Leicester, and from land at Donington le Heath, Desford, and Ashby Magna. The pension of £246 from the Duchy of Lancaster was still paid. (fn. 164)
In 1955 the hospital was regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 1907, revised in 1931 and 1935. (fn. 165) The Mayor of Leicester was master of the hospital, assisted by four aldermen and two other members of the corporation who retained the name of chamberlains and dealt with the finances. The chaplain was appointed by the Duchy of Lancaster and there was accommodation for 40 inhabitants of the hospital, including the matron and four keepers. There were still some out-pensioners in 1955, but their number has fluctuated. Appointments to vacancies were made by the chancellor of the duchy, one in every five on the recommendation of the chaplain and the remaining four on the recommendation of the mayor.
The original 14th-century building consisted of an aisled hall, probably of seventeen bays, nearly 220 ft. long and one of the longest hospital halls in England. (fn. 166) The stone arches and piers are still intact for six complete bays at the eastern end of the main nave and the north aisle. The south aisle was demolished in 1776, when the upper floor was added and the outer walls to a great extent rebuilt to the designs of Joseph Pickford of Derby under the auspices of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 167) The new upper floor cut across the nave and remaining aisle and is lighted by dormer windows. About 100 feet of the west end of the hall was demolished in 1902, when a road was cut through the west end of the Newarke to the new bridge. A new hospital building by R. J. and J. Goodacre of Leicester was built along the line of the new road and at an angle to the remains of the old hall. (fn. 168) The inmates of the hospital have their rooms in the new wing; the old hall is occupied by common rooms and passages.
The 14th-century chapel stands at the east end of the old hall, the last two bays of which, including part of the south aisle, form an ante-chapel. The chapel retains some of its original windows, and a two-light window from Ashby Folville has been inserted. Some of the woodwork is from the former Wyggeston Hospital chapel. The chapel was restored and refitted in 1876 to the designs and at the cost of Thomas Nevinson, the Leicester architect. (fn. 169)
The brass seal of the hospital is an oval, bearing a design of a three-headed arrow, issuing from a cloud. To the left is a scroll, bearing the legend in antitrinitarios, and to the right a cinquefoil ermine. The legend reads sigillum hospitalis sanctæ trinitatis in novo opere leic. An inscription on the back of the seal records that it was the gift of Sir William Heyrick in 1615. (fn. 170)
St. John's and Bent's Hospitals
In 1589 Elizabeth I granted the lands of the dissolved hospital of St. John to the corporation of Leicester. (fn. 171) At an unknown date in the early 17th century six poor widows were installed by the corporation in the old building in High Cross Street which had been used as a wool hall since the Dissolution. (fn. 172) The widows seem to have had no other regular income than the annual gift of 55s. which Trinity Hospital had made since St. John's Hospital had been transferred to it at the end of the 15th century. (fn. 173) Donations were made by all the members of the corporation at the end of the 17th century and the corporation arranged for the preaching of a sermon for the hospital on St. John's day. (fn. 174) In 1686 lands were purchased for the hospital by the corporation and the number of widows was increased to eight as the result of another gift. (fn. 175) Considerable donations were made to the hospital during the 18th century. (fn. 176) The income of the hospital was nearly £59 in 1836. (fn. 177)
In the 17th century St. John's Hospital was refounded in the lower floor of the old hall, but was moved to the first floor in 1682. (fn. 178) The ground floor of the building was afterwards occupied by Bent's Hospital, founded by John Bent who in 1697 left lands at Enderby for the building of four extra rooms at St. John's for the accommodation of four widows and a nurse. (fn. 179) These were brought into use in 1703. (fn. 180) The hospital's income was nearly always insufficient and it was in debt to the corporation for most of the 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 181)
The old building, especially the Bent's Hospital part, was stated to be in very bad condition at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 182) It was rebuilt in 1860. The respective incomes of the hospitals were £70 and £76 in 1877; (fn. 183) by 1936 these had increased to £180 and £100, and they were supporting eleven women between them. (fn. 184) This number has since been gradually reduced, and in 1955 there were no inmates. The trustees intend (1955) to provide new accommodation, as the existing buildings are to be demolished when High Cross Street is widened. The hospitals were controlled in 1955 by the Trustees of the Leicester Church Charities. (fn. 185)
The origins of this hospital are uncertain, but it seems likely that it was the 'lazarhowse' in St. Margaret's parish mentioned in 1550. (fn. 186) A leper hos pital 'by Leicester' was supported by the county during the 16th century with a yearly payment of £12, and was known as the Spital by 1599. (fn. 187) It is marked on Speed's map of 1610, at the end of Belgrave Gate. (fn. 188) In 1599 the Mayor of Leicester wrote to the Earl of Huntingdon complaining that the county now refused to support the hospital and asking his help in forcing the county to continue its payments. (fn. 189) In December he repeated his plea, saying that the inmates of the hospital were starving, and that they could not beg, the nature of their diseases preventing them from going outside. (fn. 190) The borough made one payment to the Spital in 1600 (fn. 191) and a bequest was made to it in 1628. (fn. 192) The borough's efforts were presumably successful. By 1720 the county was again fully supporting the institution, which then usually contained six inmates, probably by then ordinary paupers, each of whom was paid 1s. 2d. weekly. (fn. 193) These payments were the same in 1792, and Throsby, writing at that time, believed that six poor widows lived in the Spital, about which, however, he knew very little. (fn. 194) Nichols equated the Spital with the Cock Muck Hill Houses, but the identification does not seem to be correct. (fn. 195) A house at the end of Belgrave Gate still retained the name of the Spital House at the end of the 18th century and is illustrated in Nichols. (fn. 196) It may perhaps be identified with the Pack Horse Inn, which belonged to the county authorities at the beginning of the 19th century, and was leased for £20 yearly, which was distributed to five poor persons in the county. The whole of the income, however, was not used in this way, and the Charity Commissioners were of the opinion that the county only held the house as trustees for some unknown charity. (fn. 197) This does not seem likely in view of the county's proved connexion with the Spital since the 16th century. The Commissioners suggested that a new arrangement should be made. In 1856 the chairman and treasurer of the county magistrates sought permission from the Charity Commissioners to sell the property and reinvest the proceeds. They urged that nothing was known of the charity except what was in the Commissioners' own report and that it was not certain in whom the legal estate of the property should be vested. The charity had, they said, always been administered by the treasurer of the magistrates who then distributed £14 6s. each year. After some difficulty new trustees were appointed by application to the Charity Commissioners, the property was sold, the purchase money was invested, and arrangements were made for the interest to be distributed to four or five poor persons. Further investments have since been made and although there were complaints in the period 1897–1913 that the charity should not be administered by the county magistrates since the 'area' of the Spital House was now in the borough, it was still so administered in 1955. The county magistrates appoint to vacancies on the board of three trustees. (fn. 198)
The Consanguinitarium was founded in 1795 by John Johnson, the Leicester-born architect, for the benefit of his poorer relatives. (fn. 199) There were to be five occupants and elaborate rules were laid down for their conduct. The foundation was endowed with land at Lubbenham. The original building in Southgate Street was a battlemented stone house with Gothic windows, partly screened from the street by a handsome row of four houses also built by Johnson in the classical style on the spot where he was born. (fn. 200) The original endowment was designed to produce an income of £70 a year and at his death in 1815 Johnson left the four houses to his relatives, charging each with a payment of either £4 or £6 for the further endowment of the Consanguinitarium. When the Charity Commissioners reported on the foundation, one of the inmates had a family of children, which 'although not expressly forbidden, appears inconsistent with the objects of the founder', who had laid down that children were on no account to be allowed to play on the lawns. In 1878 the Consanguinitarium was rebuilt in Earl Howe Street, to the designs of Robert Johnson Goodacre, a relative of the founder. (fn. 201) Johnson's original buildings were demolished, but in 1955 his foundation continued.
Sarah Barlow Almshouses
The Sarah Barlow Memorial Cottage Almshouses were built in Knighton Drive in 1887 under the will of Miss Sarah Barlow, who also contributed a large sum to the building of St. John's Church, Clarendon Park Road. (fn. 202) In 1955 they housed four elderly women. The income from the remainder of the estate was used partly to supplement the almshouse endowment; the residue was dispensed at the discretion of the trustees. (fn. 203)
Miss Lawton's Almshouses
Miss Martha Ann Lawton's Almshouses were built in Evington Street to the designs of William Jackson in 1864. They housed in 1955 four elderly women, members of the Church of England with small incomes. (fn. 204)
The Countess of Devonshire's Hospital
In 1837 the Charity Commissioners reported that although this hospital had disappeared it was still remembered by people then living. (fn. 205) It stood outside the gates of Cavendish House, built on the site of Leicester Abbey, and was founded in the reign of Charles I by Elizabeth, Countess Dowager of Devonshire (d. 1642). Throsby, writing in 1777, stated that it had been decayed but had recently been largely rebuilt by John Manners, son of Lord William Manners. It was originally built to house six poor women and had an income of £30 a year. (fn. 206) The building was demolished about 1796 by Sir William Manners, and the foundation is not mentioned by Nichols. The Charity Commissioners applied to the owner of the land, Lord Huntingtower, who replied that he knew nothing of the hospital but would be willing to support it if his obligation to do so could be proved. Nothing had been done as late as 1877 (fn. 207) and the hospital was never revived.
Matthew Simon by will dated 1712 bequeathed to trustees the hospital which he had founded in Blue Boar Lane for six poor women of St. Nicholas's parish. (fn. 208) The endowments consisted of lands at Scraptoft and Knighton and part of the manor of Hamilton, and by the end of the last century these brought in £600 a year. (fn. 209) The rents were also subject to various charitable payments. The hospital was rebuilt in 1817, but was demolished to make way for the building of the Great Central Railway. (fn. 210) The endowments were used thereafter for the rest of Simon's charity, which included payments to Trinity and St. John's Hospitals, and bequests for apprenticing eight children. In 1956 the income of the charity was used to provide small pensions to poor women. (fn. 211) The charity is vested in private trustees.
Miss Mason's Almshouses
In 1832 Elizabeth Charlotte Mason built four houses in Vauxhall Street for the reception of four poor women of Leicester. At her death in 1833 she bequeathed the residue of her estate for the endowment of the houses. (fn. 212) The annual dividends amounted to nearly £50, out of which the inhabitants of the houses received pensions of 4s. weekly. The residue of the income was reserved for repairs by the trustees. By 1936 the pensions had been reduced to 2s. 6d. and the almshouses were demolished in 1937 during clearance in the Vauxhall Street area. (fn. 213) The funds of the charity were formed into a charity for the payment of pensions in 1955. (fn. 214)