A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.
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28. WHITTINGTON'S HOSPITAL
A hospital was founded in 1424 by the executors of Richard Whittington (fn. 1) for thirteen poor persons, who were to live in a house built for them to the east of the church of St. Michael Paternoster and next to the dwelling of the chaplains of Whittington College. The thirteen were to be citizens of London, preferably members of the Mercers' Company, or inferior ministers of Whittington College who could no longer fulfil their duties, and it was an essential condition to their election (fn. 2) and continuance as inmates (fn. 3) that they should have no other means of subsistence. They were to live in separate apartments within the house, but were to have their meals together. Their dress was to be of seemly form and dark in colour. One of their number called the tutor was to have the rule and administration of the house, and his superior position was marked by his receiving a weekly allowance of 16d. instead of the 14d. (fn. 4) allotted to each of the others, and by a relaxation in his case of the rule (fn. 5) prohibiting absence from the hospital. Certain religious duties were prescribed: the almsmen had all to be present at the daily services in St. Michael's Paternoster Royal, and had to pray for the souls of Whittington and Alice his wife, and after high mass they were to assemble round Whittington's tomb and recite the De Profundis; private devotions were also enjoined. The mayor of London was supervisor of the house, but it was with the wardens of the Mercers' Company that the care of the foundation mainly rested: out of every seven vacancies among the poor men they appointed six times, the master of Whittington College once, and they chose the tutor; an inventory of the movables of the house had to be made every year and shown to them, and the seal of the hospital could not be used without their leave.
The connexion between the hospital and the college must have been close from the first, and doubtless grew closer as in course of time former clerks of the college became pensioners in the hospital. Indeed, from a report made in 1538 about the feeling in the houses (fn. 6) it would be impossible to gather that they were two separate institutions, the tutor being mentioned as if like the choristers he belonged to the college. It is evident that this man, William Gibson, held strongly to the old opinions, for he said openly that 'the northern men rose in a good quarrel and that he trusted to see a new day.'Most of his fellows, however, were of the opposite party and 'were so weary of such communications that they were ready to go out of the house.'
This house of charity was not abolished at the Reformation, and in the eighteenth century still existed in the place where it had been founded, the men and women receiving then a pension of 3s. 10d. a week, and new clothes every three years. (fn. 7) In 1823 the Mercers' Company acquired some land in the parish of Islington and there built a chapel and thirty houses to accommodate a chaplain, a matron, and twenty-eight almswomen. (fn. 8)