A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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34. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, BURFORD
The hospital of Burford is first mentioned 11 September, 1226, on which date the king gave ten cartloads of dry wood to 'the master and brothers of the hospital of St. John the Baptist' [sic] at Burford; (fn. 1) and on 29 May, 1231, he granted to the 'prior of the hospital of St. John of Burford' three oak-trees for firewood. (fn. 2) From the Hundred Rolls we learn that the hospital owned ten virgates in Fifield, Oxon, (fn. 3) and the Taxatio of 1291 mentions a virgate in Rissington, Gloucestershire; (fn. 4) it is also said to have held the rectory of Widford. (fn. 5) In 1305 the bishop granted twenty days' indulgence to all who give aid to the fabric of the church of the hospital of Burford. (fn. 6) In 1319 the monastery of Godstow granted a virgate of land in the parish of Asthall in fee-farm to the prior of the hospital, (fn. 7) and next year licence was obtained from the king by Joan, widow of Richard de Cornwaile, to give to the prior and hospital lands and rent in Asthall and Asthallingleye; (fn. 8) the gift was completed in 1322, and in return 'brother John, master of the hospital of St. John the Evangelist, and his fellow brothers bind themselves to find for ever a priest from among the brethren to celebrate divine service daily in the chapel of St. Mary and St. Katherine in the church of Asthall for the soul of Richard de Cornwaile, and for the souls of Joan and her children after death.' (fn. 9) In 1327 this prior died, and 'Robert le Glasier, chaplain, one of the brethren, was admitted to the custody of the hospital, void by the death of John de Sutton'; we are told that he was nominated by the brethren and presented to the king 'by reason of the lands of Hugh le Despenser and Eleanor his wife being in his hands.' (fn. 10) But our next record shows that a change had been made in the way of electing the master or prior; for on November 20, 1389, the king grants to his clerk, William Doune, the wardenship of the hospital of St. John. (fn. 11) Later we find that the nomination is in the hands of the burgesses of the town; for about 1456 Richard, earl of Warwick, asked the bailiffs and burgesses of Burford to grant him the next presentation to the priory, that thereto he might promote a chaplain of his. (fn. 12) That this continued to be the case is clear, as in 1537 Nicholas Austen, late abbot of Rewley, desired Cromwell to write on his behalf to the burgesses of Burford for the 'service called the priory' in that town, worth £11 a year, the holder, Mr. Cade, being very old and sickly. (fn. 13) In 1523 Mark Patenson, 'prior of the chapel,' and in 1526 Maurice Patenson, 'prior of the hospital,' had an income of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 14) while in 1535 Sir Mark Patenson, 'prior of the hospital or priory' had £14 3s. 6d. (fn. 15) Elsewhere in the Valor his title is 'master or prior of the hospital of St. John the Evangelist.' (fn. 16)
A survey of the estates of the 'late hospital of St. John the Evangelist in Burford,' undated, but subsequent to December, 1539, estimates the property to be worth £12 17s. 2d. in all; lands and buildings in Burford were worth £4 0s. 4d., in Upton £1, in Asthall £1 13s. 4d.; in Fifield the capital mansion with services of customary tenants, a hide of customary land, demesne and other lands, was worth £4; land at Widford was valued at 12s.; in Gloucestershire, land at Rissington £1 7s., at Barrington 4s. 6d. The property seems to be under-estimated, as arable land is reckoned to be worth 6d. an acre or less. It is stated that Thomas Cade, late master of the hospital, granted to John Barker a lease of all the property for eighty years, from 4 May, 1538; Barker was to pay £10 a year, and to keep all the buildings in repair. (fn. 17) It is evident from this return that the hospital had no endowments for the maintenance of the infirm; the whole of the income was absorbed by the prior; and as he is called prior capellae in 1523, it seems that he was practically a chaplain, perhaps serving some almshouses, but not what is usually understood by the prior of a hospital.
Priors or Masters of the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist, Burford
Robert, occurs 1261 (fn. 18)
John de Sutton, occurs 1322, (fn. 19) died 1327
Robert le Glasier, appointed 1327 (fn. 20)
William Doune, appointed 1389 (fn. 21)
Thomas Smythe, occurs 1478 (fn. 22)
Thomas Cade, occurs 1537 (fn. 25)
An early thirteenth-century seal in the British Museum assigned to this hospital is a pointed oval: the Virgin, with crown, half-length, the Child on the left arm. In base under a trefoiled arch a monk kneeling in prayer to the right. (fn. 26) Legend:—
+ AVE MARIA GSA PLENA DRS TECVM