A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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85. THE HOSPITAL OF HOLY INNOCENTS WITHOUT LINCOLN
The hospital of Holy Innocents may well claim to be the earliest foundation of this kind within the county, as it evidently dates from the beginning of the twelfth century. If, as it has been alleged by some, it was built by Bishop Remigius, (fn. 1) the date of foundation would be before 1094; but an inquisition taken during the reign of Edward III named King Henry I as founder, on the ground of charters produced at that time. (fn. 2) Ranulf, earl of Chester, was another benefactor of the hospital, and Henry II confirmed all benefactions made before his reign. (fn. 3)
This hospital was commonly called 'La Maladerie', and was intended to receive ten lepers of either sex, under the charge of a warden and two chaplains; patients might be recommended by the mayor and good men of Lincoln, and the consent of the king and the chancellor had to be obtained for their admission. (fn. 4) Such were the terms of the foundation; but the royal patronage extended to the house proved much more of a hindrance than a help. For the office of warden was constantly given, probably as a reward for services of a very different kind, to the royal clerks; and these, not being obliged to reside, left the house in charge of others who proved unworthy of the trust. So, near the end of the reign of Henry III, John of Colchester, the warden, had committed the custody of the hospital to one Walter Otre, who so mismanaged it that in 1274 John was ordered to put a faithful and discreet man in his stead, unless he himself wished to be credited with the maladministration of his deputy. The goods of the house had been so wasted and dispersed that it was feared at the time that the brethren would have to beg for maintenance elsewhere unless some speedy remedy were applied. (fn. 5) The appointment of a new chaplain followed in the next year; (fn. 6) but time after time the same complaints were repeated. In 1284 the house had to be placed under the custody of the sheriff; he was to apply its goods to the maintenance of the chaplains, brethren, and sisters, but might not remove any except for misconduct; when a vacancy occurred the fact was to be notified to the chancellor. Separate houses were to be assigned to the chaplains, the brethren, and the sisters. (fn. 7) In 1290 a new chaplain was appointed with an exhortation to do better than his predecessors, from whose carelessness the house had suffered so much. (fn. 8) There were licences for the brethren to beg alms in 1294 and 1297. (fn. 9) In 1301, however, the house was still 'in decay for want of good rule,' and vacancies had been filled without reference to the chancellor. (fn. 10) There were fresh licences to beg alms in 1303 and 1309. (fn. 11) In 1327, rents which should have helped to support the house had been allowed to fall into arrears. (fn. 12) In 1334 William de Gerlethorp, appointed to the custody of the house, (fn. 13) was accused of burdening it with corrodies beyond its ability. He was replaced by Simon of Barlings, a former master, who had been his accuser; (fn. 14) but it was reported to the king that Simon's own rule was no better, and a visitation was held to find out the true state of the case. There were then nine brethren and sisters, of whom only one was a leper, and he had bought his place there for 100s., contrary to the terms of foundation; the seven women in the house had not been admitted by charity, but for payment. (fn. 15) Matters, however, did not improve; in 1341 and 1342 there were fresh complaints of men and women admitted contrary to the terms of the foundation. (fn. 16) In 1345 there was another visitation; the brethren and sisters were to be examined separately, and the good men of Lincoln asked to say what they knew as to all lapses of rule and squandering of revenues. (fn. 17) Alms were again requested of the faithful in the following year. (fn. 18)
In 1422 it was stated that there had been great waste of books, vestments, and all the goods of the hospital, through the carelessness of past wardens; and that the number of chaplains and of brethren was diminished. (fn. 19) Finally, in 1461 the king granted the house with its appurtenances to the master of the order of St. Lazarus for ever, on condition that he and his successors should maintain any three of the king's servants or tenants who happened to be afflicted with leprosy. (fn. 20)
The value of the revenue in 1534, when the hospital was parcel of Burton Lazars, was £30 13s. 4d. (fn. 21) It came to an end as a matter of course with the suppression of the order of St. Lazarus.
Masters of the Hospital
John of Colchester, (fn. 22) occurs 1274
Richard of Codington, (fn. 23) appointed 1275
Andrew Fraunceys, (fn. 24) appointed 1290
John of Calnhill, (fn. 25) appointed 1301; occurs 1309
John of Carlton, (fn. 26) appointed 1313, occurs 1315
William Clif, (fn. 27) appointed 1319
Robert de Spynye, (fn. 28) appointed 1321
Robert of Cliff, (fn. 29) appointed 1322
Thomas of Sibthorpe, (fn. 30) appointed 1325
Richard of Skerington, (fn. 31) appointed 1325
William of Carlton, (fn. 32) appointed 1327
Adam of Clareburgh, (fn. 33) appointed 1330; occurs 1331
Thomas of Portington, (fn. 34) appointed 1332; resigned 1334
Simon of Barlings, (fn. 35) appointed 1334
William de Gerlthorpe, (fn. 36) appointed 1334
Simon of Barlings, (fn. 37) appointed 1335
Hugh of Codyngton, (fn. 38) appointed 1341
John of Codyngton, (fn. 39) appointed (by exchange) 1341; resigned 1345
Simon of Barlings, (fn. 40) appointed 1345; resigned 1345
Richard of Doncaster, (fn. 41) appointed 1345
John of Nesfield, (fn. 42) appointed 1347
William Benet, (fn. 43) appointed 1406
Gilbert Thimbleby, (fn. 44) occurs 1534
There is a late twelfth-century seal (fn. 45) of this hospital representing a leper walking to the left, holding out his right hand.