A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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42. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, OXFORD.
We first meet with this hospital about 1180 in the Godstow Chartulary, (fn. 1) and about 1190 in the chartulary of the Templars of Sandford (fn. 2); before 1194 we find it buying land, held of the honour of Wallingford by Hugh de Malaunay, but when and by whom it was founded is unknown. In 1231 a great change was made, when the king granted the garden of the Jews outside the East Gate, that the hospital might be erected there, (fn. 3) and a later entry implies that the hospital chapel was built at the king's cost. (fn. 4) By this step he secured the title of founder; and it is possible that the character of the institution was altered at this time; for subsequently the only purpose of the hospital seems to have been to nurse the sick, whereas in early times, like many other hospitals, it was a place for entertaining strangers, and was sometimes called 'herebergeria hospitalis extra portam orientalem.' (fn. 5) In 1246 Pope Innocent issued certain additions 'to the ancient statutes' (fn. 6); he ordained that 'the hospital, built by the king for the relief of poor scholars and other miserable persons, and endowed by him,' should be governed by a master, to be elected by the brethren. There was also to be a cellarer, and a sacrist, the latter to have charge of the infirmary and to hear the confessions of the infirm; incurable cases were not to be received; the members or staff of the hospital were to consist of brothers and sisters, but not more were to be admitted than were necessary for waiting on the sick. Of the men it is assumed that several would be priests, and all were bound by the monastic vows. He further granted that it should be exempt from episcopal and archidiaconal visitations; and in 1320, the archbishop was warned not to intermeddle with it when he was visiting the monastic houses of Oxfordshire. (fn. 7) If visitations were necessary, the king entrusted the work to any clerk he chose; in 1331 he sent two of his own clerks; in 1335 the archdeacon of Canterbury. (fn. 8) Unfortunately for us, as the hospital was exempt, there is no mention of it in the episcopal registers, and we know little of its history.
In 1245 the king granted various liberties, such as exemption from hundred courts, county courts, view of frank-pledge and even murdrum (i.e. the assessment on landowners of the hundred in which a murder was committed), and from all tolls at markets and bridges. (fn. 9) In 1294 the brethren had permission to enclose for a burial ground some vacant land, measuring 100 yds. by 30, on the south side of the road which passed their churchyard, provided that they left the road with a breadth of not less than 26 ft. (fn. 10); no doubt this was the old burial-place of the Jews, reserved under the original grant of 1231, (fn. 11) but no longer needed now that they had been banished.
Of the internal affairs of the hospital we know very little. During the fourteenth century it was frequently excused (fn. 12) from the payment of subsidies because of its poverty, but its income, to judge from the amount of property it held in Oxford and elsewhere, must have been considerable. In 1335 it was said that the brothers and sisters quarrelled among themselves; and it is noticeable that most of the masters, instead of being elected by the brethren, were nominated by the king, (fn. 13) some of them being appointed only during the king's pleasure, while others had merely the custody of the hospital for a time. In 1341 complaint was made to the king by a certain Alice that whereas he had given her an order to receive her sustenance for life from the hospital, the master and certain citizens of Oxford had assaulted her and taken the document from her. (fn. 14)
Wardens of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, Oxford.
Elyas, resigned 1237 (fn. 15)
Henry de Lewknor alias Thornton, appointed 1242; occurs 1246 (fn. 17)
Adam, occurs 1246 and 1248 (fn. 18)
Thomas, occurs 1251 and 1254 (fn. 19)
Henry de Wingham, occurs 1254-7 (fn. 20)
Henry de Wylebi, occurs 1258 and 1262 (fn. 21)
Nicholas de Shireveleye, appointed 1281 (fn. 24) 1295
Robert de Scardeburgh, 1295-1301 (fn. 25)
Geoffrey Halyweye, appointed 1332 (fn. 30)
Adam de Lodbrok, appointed 1335, (fn. 31) occurs 1348
John de Idbury, occurs 1353 and 1360 (fn. 32)
Adam de Merston, 1384, (fn. 35) died 1387
John Idbury appointed 1387, died 1392 (fn. 36)
William Lodebroke, occurs 1435 and 1437 (fn. 39)
Thomas Oxenford, occurs 1437 (fn. 40)
Hugh Burton, occurs 1439, resigned 1442 (fn. 41)
Richard Vyse, elected 1442, resigned 1457 (fn. 42)
There are two seals of the hospital, both pointed ovals; the first (fn. 43) represents a cross with a dove above and a (?) nail below, the legend being:—
The second seal (fn. 44) has the same emblems, but the legend is:—
The former is evidently of the twelfth century, and was in use until after 1380. (fn. 45)