A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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31. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, BANBURY
Most of our knowledge about the early history of the Hospital of St. John is derived from a letter of Bishop Oliver Sutton, dated June, 1283. (fn. 1) We learn from it that his clerks had held a visitation of the hospital in the previous February; that Robert Whiting was reckoned its founder, while Adam Grey was recorded as a benefactor; that the rules under which the brethren lived were drawn up by Serlo, once prebendary of Banbury; that the master was nominated by the brethren from their own number, and according to some, ought to be presented first to the prebendary of Banbury for his approval and then to the bishop, while others said he need only be presented to the bishop; that a master who had died between 1280 and 1283 had left property by will, which was absurd, inasmuch as every one who joined the house took on himself the vow of poverty as well as obedience and chastity; that the master ought to swear obedience to the prebendary of Banbury, but the other brethren need not; that they ought to think about supplying the defects of their library; and that this letter should be preserved and often read. To this, Bishop Dalderby adds that the brethren did wrong to speak of 'electing' the master, that they should say 'nominate,' the point no doubt being that as they did not belong to the monastic orders, they were not bound by the forms of a canonical election.
From this information we conclude that the hospital was founded early in the thirteenth century, Serlo having held the prebend of Banbury between 1236 and 1241. (fn. 2) In 1229 the king granted to the prior of the hospital the old timber of the gaol of Warwick, to build himself a house, (fn. 3) and four years earlier, in a survey of Banbury, the prior of the Hospital of St. John occurs several times among the householders. (fn. 4) We hear of Herbert, prior of the hospital in 1259, (fn. 5) and a letter, preserved at Lincoln, written to the dean and chapter in 1273, records that by their command their agent had gone to the hospital, and had ordered the prior and brethren to give canonical obedience to R. de Esthalle, the newly appointed prebendary of Banbury, and that none had gainsaid him. (fn. 6) About the middle of the fourteenth century a change must have been made in the nomination of the master. When vacancies occurred in 1311 and 1326, the brothers nominated one of their number, the bishop instituted him, and there was no form of induction. But from 1355 onwards the bishop always appoints, and repeatedly asserts that the hospital belongs ad nostram collationem (whether in his character of bishop of Lincoln, or as lord of the town of Banbury, is not said); on some occasions too the archdeacon or the prebendary of Banbury was commanded to give induction; and though the master was chosen from the brethren for some time, yet ultimately the post was given to canons of Lincoln or fellows of a college, not by any means the people that were bound by the law of poverty. Pedwell and Stalworth were both prebendaries of Buckden, Brynknell was prebendary of Marston St. Lawrence, Stanbridge and Cartwright were prominent scholars of Oxford. (fn. 7) In short the mastership was one of those sinecures which prominent ecclesiastics were ever ready to accept. When Pedwell resigned the hospital of St. John 'at the end of the town of Banbury,' (fn. 8) he still retained a pension of £4 for life, though he held the prebend of Buckden, and in the same way Stalworth, when he resigned, was not ashamed to accept a pension for life of £2 a year.
The Hospital received gifts of land and rent in 1290, 1303, and 1305, (fn. 9) while in 1513 Smith, bishop of Lincoln, left it by will the sum of £100 in addition to £60 he had already given. (fn. 10) In June, 1359, the bishop commands the master to receive a poor priest, Robert son of William son of John of Stanesby, as they are short of the full number of brethren, who ought to pray daily for their founders and benefactors; this priest desires to leave the vanities of the world, and in the habit of a regular to serve God in the said hospital. (fn. 11) In 1526 the master's salary was £14, of which he paid £4 to an usher (ostiarius), (fn. 12) while in 1535 the net salary was £15 1s. 10d. (fn. 13); possibly the income of the hospital was more than this, but as with all hospitals, that which was spent on the support of the indigent would not be liable to assessment for subsidies.
Priors or Masters of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, Banbury
Herbert, (fn. 14) occurs 1259
Thomas, (fn. 15) occurs June, 1260
John de Banbury, (fn. 16) died 1311
Walter de Wokingham appointed 1311, (fn. 16) resigned 1326
William de Upton, appointed 1326 (fn. 17)
John Harding, appointed 1355, (fn. 18) resigned 1356
William de Langport, (fn. 19) appointed 1356
Richard Tewe, appointed 1406, (fn. 20) died 1407
Roger Robert, appointed 1407, (fn. 21) died 1433
John Reynold, appointed 1433 (fn. 22)
Robert Carleton, (fn. 23) appointed 1434, resigned 1457
Richard Turnour, appointed 1457 (fn. 24)
John Wigmore, (fn. 25) resigned 1465
Thomas Taylard, appointed 1465, (fn. 26) died 1467
William Pedwell, appointed 1467, (fn. 27) resigned 1485
Master Simon Stalworth, appointed 1485, (fn. 28) resigned 1494
Ralf Hamsterleye, M.A., appointed 1494 (fn. 29)
Master John Stanbridge, appointed 1501, (fn. 30) died 1510
John Crag, appointed 1510 (fn. 31)
Thomas Brynknell, S.T.P., appointed 1511 (fn. 32)
Nicholas Cartwright, S.T.P., (fn. 33) appointed 1541
Seal: a pointed oval: a patriarchal cross— (fn. 34)