A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.
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26. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, LICHFIELD
Tradition assigns the foundation of St. John's Hospital, Lichfield, to 'Bishop Roger'. (fn. 1) If this tradition is correct the founder must have been Bishop Roger de Clinton (1129-48), for the hospital was certainly in existence before the time of Bishop Roger Weseham (1245-56). A grant of 1208 refers to the hospital as 'the House of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit and St. John the Baptist.' (fn. 2) This double dedication (fn. 3) is not found subsequently, and the house was usually known, from its situation outside Culstubbe Gate, as the Hospital of St. John the Baptist without the Bars of Lichfield. In the 13th century the hospital community, apart from the poor who were maintained there, (fn. 4) evidently consisted of a prior, brethren, sisters, and lay brethren living under a religious rule and a number of chaplains and servants. (fn. 5)
The hospital chapel, as well as serving the hospital community, was a place of public worship from at least the earlier 13th century. Elaborate precautions, however, were taken to protect the rights of St. Michael's Church, Lichfield, in whose parish the hospital stood. By an agreement made in Bishop Stavensby's time (1224-38) with the Prebendary of Freeford (fn. 6) the prior and brethren of the hospital and their chaplains promised to maintain the rights of the prebend, to which St. Michael's church was evidently then appropriated. They and such of their servants and tenants as lived in St. Michael's parish were to pay all customary tithes to the prebendary and all customary offerings to his chaplain. The parishioners might worship in the hospital chapel on holy days and the hospital was allowed to have a small bell to summon them; on the great festivals, however, the prior and brethren and their servants were to receive the sacraments in the parish church. The lay brothers, servants, and other inhabitants of the hospital were to be confessed only by the prebendary's chaplain unless licensed by him to go elsewhere, and they were to devise the customary mortuaries to the parish church. All who died in the hospital were to be buried in the parish church.
In return for these promises to maintain the rights of his parish church the Prebendary of Freeford allowed the establishment of a chantry in the hospital chapel. (fn. 7) This, however, did not take place until the heirs and executors of Ralph de Lacok, Canon of Lichfield (d. 1257), combined to found a chantry in the hospital. The chantry chaplain was to wear the habit of the hospital brethren; in the first instance he was to be appointed by Lacok's executors, but thereafter by the bishop either from within the hospital or elsewhere. The endowment of the chantry, which was said to be for the support of the poor and sick inmates of the hospital and those who sought hospitality there, consisted of lands and rent in Stychbrook and Elmhurst (both in St. Chad's, Lichfield). (fn. 8) The dean and chapter also gave Lacok's body to the hospital for burial there, but the prior and brethren had to guarantee that this would not prejudice the rights of the church of Lichfield or any of its chaplains; they further promised that they would not claim any burial rights on account of this grant 'until by the help of the Lord they obtain a more generous favour by authority of their superiors'. (fn. 9) It is, however, clear that, despite the earlier agreement with the Prebendary of Freeford, the hospital had by this time acquired the right of burying the habited brethren and sisters of the foundation. The hospital cemetery probably lay to the south of the chapel, (fn. 10) and by the mid 1340s there was a preaching cross or open-air pulpit there from which Dean FitzRalph is known to have preached. (fn. 11)
Apart from the foundation of Ralph de Lacok's chantry little is known of the early endowments or privileges of the hospital. (fn. 12) In 1240 Henry III gave to the poor there 8 quarters of wheat. (fn. 13) The prior and brethren received letters of protection from the Crown in 1251, 1257, and 1297. (fn. 14) In the later 13th century William Young, a Lichfield goldsmith, gave a burgage and a half in Lichfield, a messuage, 6s. 6d. rent, and 3 acres of land in Burway Field to the brethren and sisters for the repair of the hospital; a daily mass for his soul was to be said by one of the brethren. (fn. 15)
In the earlier 14th century the hospital acquired a number of more valuable properties. In 1315 John de la Bourne, chaplain, was licensed by the Crown to grant the prior and brethren 7 acres of land and £10 of rent in Lichfield and Pipe (in St. Michael's, Lichfield), and Reynold le Bedel to grant 3½ acres of land worth 12d. a year in the same places. (fn. 16) In 1322 the hospital was given 2 messuages and a carucate of land in Rushall and 'Ordeseye' worth 13s. 4d. by Henry of Lichfield, chaplain. (fn. 17) In 1349 Adam de Eton and John Wylimot, chaplains, granted the prior and brethren property worth 41s. 2d.; it comprised 20 messuages, 60 acres of land, 4 acres of meadow, and 18s. 10d. of rent in Lichfield, Longdon, Pipe, (fn. 18) Aldershaw (in St. Michael's, Lichfield), Elmhurst, and Shenstone. (fn. 19) Other benefactions, the details of which are unknown, were certainly made about this time. In 1321 the dean and chapter ratified the constitution of a chantry at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr in the cathedral, which had been founded by the prior and brethren to commemorate the many benefactions made to the hospital by Philip de Turvill, Prebendary of Curborough (1309-37). (fn. 20) In 1330-1 John de la Bourne added to his benefactions by founding a chantry in St. Mary's Church, Lichfield, and granting the patronage to the prior, brethren, and sisters of the hospital. (fn. 21) Probably about this time too the hospital was given a house at Greenhill (in St. Michael's, Lichfield) and 25 selions of land in the fields of Lichfield by John of Polesworth. (fn. 22)
Some light is thrown on the internal history of the hospital in the 14th century by the records of Bishop Northburgh's visitations. The bishop visited the hospital possibly in 1331 or 1332 (fn. 23) and found that the rule of the house was not publicly read; as a result it was not understood and the brethren were not living according to their vows. Sales of corrodies and pensions had evidently been frequent. One of the brethren, Hugh of Wychnor, had been guilty of disobedience and perjury and of leading an irregular life. The bishop ordered that the rule be read to the brethren three or four times a year, if necessary in English, so that they might not pretend ignorance of their vows. The sale of corrodies and pensions was forbidden for the future except by the express permission of the bishop. Wychnor was to be excommunicated and, in accordance with the rule, confined in a chamber within the hospital; he was to live on bread and water and to read the psalter and other devotional works, but on Sundays he might eat vegetables with his bread and once a week was to be allowed to take exercise out of doors. The bishop also ordered that the brethren were not to be given money when they needed clothes or other necessities but that purchases were to be made for them by a suitable person. The form of vow which the brethren took at this time is given; it comprised promises of perpetual chastity, of obedience to the prior, and of loyalty to the statutes and rights of the hospital.
The bishop visited the hospital again in 1339 (fn. 24) and evidently found that its finances were in need of regulation. The brethren lacked the necessities of life, especially clothing, and received only a subsistence diet so that they were forced to beg 'to the disgrace of their order'. The bishop ordained specific provision for them: 20s. from the rent of the hospital's mill at Sandford (fn. 25) and the income from the house and land given by John of Polesworth were to be reserved to provide the brethren with allowances for clothing and other necessities. In 1345, after another visitation of the hospital, Bishop Northburgh sanctioned the appropriation by the prior and brethren of the chantry in St. Mary's Church granted to them by John de là Bourne. The bishop's ordinance was made without royal licence, but in 1346 the Crown granted a pardon and confirmed the bishop's act. (fn. 26)
In the earlier 14th century the brethren of the hospital seem to have tried to secure the right of electing their prior. In 1323, on the resignation of William of Wychnor, the brethren nominated William of Repton as his successor. The bishop protested against their action as an infringement of his right to collate but nevertheless appointed Repton. (fn. 27) In 1330, on Repton's resignation, the brethren successfully nominated Richard del Hull to the bishop. (fn. 28)
Little more is known of the hospital until the later 15th century. At some time before the mid 15th century it evidently ceased to be a corporate institution comprising a prior and brethren living under a religious rule, for in 1458 Bishop Boulers issued a declaration asserting that it was a benefice without cure of souls which could be held by a non-resident secular clerk and in plurality. (fn. 29) At what time this change occurred is uncertain. The hospital ceased to be a corporate body of regular clergy, probably in the late 14th century. It was certainly a secular benefice by the mid 15th century for Hugh Lache, then master, was a secular clerk. (fn. 30) Bishop Boulers's declaration certainly regularized an existing state of affairs, for the master in 1458, Thomas Mason, was a pluralist. The mastership was then a valuable piece of preferment and may have been worth about £20 a year — as much as the wealthier rectories in the county. (fn. 31) All the masters appointed after Boulers's declaration were secular clerks, and many were pluralists and absentees. (fn. 32)
In these circumstances the eleemosynary responsibilities of the foundation may well have been neglected until the hospital was reformed by Bishop Smith in 1495-6. It was alleged in 1539 that at the time of Smith's reformation of the hospital 'there was a master and two brethren and they for their ill living were expulsed'; (fn. 33) if these recollections are reliable they probably indicate that no more than two almsmen were then maintained, for the regular brotherhood had long since ceased to exist. Bishop Smith drew up a new set of statutes and re-endowed the hospital. (fn. 34) The statutes, dated November 1495, remained the basis of the hospital's constitution until the present century, and Smith has been regarded as the second founder of the hospital. (fn. 35) The responsibilities of the new foundation were twofold, eleemosynary and educational. Thirteen almsmen were to be maintained, each receiving 7d. a week, (fn. 36) and there was also to be a grammar school with a master and usher supported out of the hospital's revenues. (fn. 37) The hospital establishment was completed by a chaplain and the master. The chaplain, schoolmaster, and usher and the almsmen were to live in the hospital; the chaplain, schoolmaster, and usher were allowed a month's leave of absence each year, (fn. 38) and leave of absence could be granted to an almsman by the master of the hospital or the schoolmaster. Detailed regulations were made for the prayers which the pupils and the almsmen were to attend. The almsmen were to leave their own goods, or at least the greater part of them, to the hospital.
The new statutes emphasized the privileges and responsibilities of the master. He was to appoint the schoolmaster and usher, the hospital chaplain, and twelve of the thirteen almsmen, (fn. 39) and all these, on admission, had to swear obedience to him as well as to the bishop and the hospital statutes. The exercise of all the hospital's rights and the disposal of its revenues now clearly belonged solely to the master and no longer to a master and brethren jointly. This had probably been so since the end of the regular brotherhood, or at least since 1458, (fn. 40) but the statutes of 1495 provided the first authoritative definition of the change and were probably effective in frustrating later attempts to allege the hospital's corporate character. (fn. 41) The master was to be in priest's orders but was not bound to reside in the hospital; on admission he was to swear to observe the hospital statutes, and, if his letters of collation did not record his taking this oath, they were to be held invalid. The right of appointing the master was to remain with Bishop Smith during his life, and thereafter with the bishops of Coventry and Lichfield. (fn. 42)
Bishop Smith also rebuilt the hospital and proceeded to augment its endowment. In January 1496 the hospital of St. Andrew at Denhall (in Neston, Ches.), with its appropriated church of Burton (Ches.), and the free chapel or leper hospital of St. Leonard at Freeford were united to St. John's Hospital. The hospital at Denhall was in the bishop's patronage and that at Freeford in the patronage of the Prebendary of Freeford; both foundations were too impoverished to continue independently. In return for agreeing to unite St. Leonard's Hospital to St. John's the Prebendary of Freeford was to have the nomination of one of the thirteen almsmen. (fn. 43) On the day of the union of the three hospitals Bishop Smith granted to the almsmen, schoolmaster, chaplain, and usher two cartloads of firewood a year from Cannock Chase. (fn. 44)
During the earlier 16th century the hospital seems to have been reasonably well governed in accordance with Smith's statutes. The almsmen, who wore distinctive black gowns with a red cross, (fn. 45) were probably maintained in a fair degree of comfort: in addition to their pensions of 7d. a week they may have received money from John Kynardessey's chantry in the cathedral (fn. 46) and it was probably customary for them to receive gifts when a new lease of hospital property was sealed. (fn. 47) The statute enjoining the almsmen to leave their goods to the hospital was evidently enforced by the masters and must have helped to improve the standard of living of successive entrants: when one of the almsmen died about 1508 the master took charge of the money which he left (40s.) and ordered the bailiff to share out his goods among the other almsmen. (fn. 48) Bishop Blythe visited the hospital in 1519, and everything then seemed to be in good order, though the schoolmaster admitted that he did not sleep in the hospital and the master, Richard Egerton, complained that his statutory responsibilities were too numerous to allow the proper maintenance of the hospital buildings out of the revenues. (fn. 49)
The right of visiting the hospital had clearly belonged to the bishop during the Middle Ages, (fn. 50) but by the earlier 16th century this was being challenged by the dean and chapter. In 1530 or 1531 Dean Denton, claiming ordinary jurisdiction over the hospital, sent Edmund Stretehay to visit it as his commissary. This was evidently not the first time that a visitation had been carried out in the dean's name, for a few years later Stretehay recalled that he had on this occasion seen 'divers precedents that the master there and other of the house had been punished by the said Dean of Lichfield for the time being, and by his commissary, for their ill living.' (fn. 51) The dean's claim may have originated in the changes to the hospital's constitution made by Bishops Boulers and Smith. A few years later Richard Strete, a canon residentiary of Lichfield, giving evidence about the hospital's constitution, denied that the master and brethren were a corporation. In support of this he stated that the dean by reason of his archidiaconal jurisdiction in Lichfield 'hath had the master thereof to appear afore him in his visitation in the town many years, and . . . if there were a corporation he is not accustomed to have any jurisdiction'. (fn. 52) The bishop, however, seems to have attempted a visitation about the same time as Denton's commissary and was evidently resisted by the dean and chapter and the master. (fn. 53) The master was excommunicated by the bishop, and the dispute was taken to the archbishop's Court of Audience. In 1531 the sentence of excommunication was lifted, and the bishop and the dean and chapter agreed to settle their differences by arbitration before Michaelmas. (fn. 54) The bishop's right to visit the hospital remained thereafter unopposed. (fn. 55)
The gross annual income of the hospital in 1535 (fn. 56) was £46 18s. 1d., most of which accrued from property in and around Lichfield and from the property of the former hospital at Denhall. Fees and salaries included £19 15s. 5d. a year paid to the 13 almsmen (at the rate of 7d. a week each), £10 a year to the schoolmaster, £5 6s. 8d. to the chaplain, £2 to the usher, and £2 to the bailiff of the hospital's estates. The value of the master's house (fn. 57) and certain properties which he kept in his own hands was given as £1 6s. 8d. These figures, however, which appear to support the master's complaint in 1519 of the insufficiency of the hospital's income, cannot be taken as a complete account of the revenues available to him. Richard Egerton, master from 1508 to 1538, must have received a good income from fines paid for granting or renewing leases, as he seems commonly to have leased the hospital's properties for three lives or terms ranging from 50 to 90 years. (fn. 58) Thus in 1513-14 Sir Thomas Smith wished to convert his 39-year lease of the former hospital at Denhall into one for 50 years, and Egerton agreed provided 'he would so pay therefor'. (fn. 59)
Towards the end of his long mastership Egerton may have been neglecting the responsibilities laid on him by the 1495 statutes. In 1535 Lord Stafford was suing Egerton for 'misusing' St. John's Hospital at Stafford, of which he was also master. (fn. 60) Lord Stafford alleged that Egerton was misusing St. John's Hospital, Lichfield, in the same way, 'for it is said that house is in as great decay as mine is'. (fn. 61) Egerton's unsatisfactory conduct was reported to Cromwell, (fn. 62) who evidently tried to compel him to grant a lease of the hospital and its 'lands and tenements as they did fall' to William Zouche. Cromwell's efforts were evidently fruitless, for Zouche later asked him to send to the recalcitrant Egerton for a 'true copy of the foundation of the said hospital', alleging that Egerton would 'rather perform [this] grant to me for danger that will follow than send your lordship the copy'. (fn. 63) Zouche's attempts to secure this lease, however, were unsuccessful. Within a few months Egerton had died. Bishop Lee collated his brother, George Lee, to the mastership, (fn. 64) and their nephew, William Fowler, secured a lease of much of the hospital's property. (fn. 65)
One of the effects of Egerton's granting of long leases must have been to impoverish his successor by depriving him of any considerable income from entry fines. Lee, however, on the advice of counsel and evidently with the encouragement of his brother the bishop, adopted the expedient of repudiating Egerton's leases: (fn. 66) in 1539 he gave it as his view that the master could make a lease only for the duration of his mastership. (fn. 67) Lee's policy inevitably led to litigation. He was himself sued by Sir Thomas Smith's widow, Katherine, (fn. 68) and some suits between rival claimants to leaseholds of the hospital's property are known to have occurred. (fn. 69) Although some limitation of the master's leasing powers would ultimately have benefited the hospital, none was established until the later 19th century. (fn. 70)
Lee's mastership was a crucial period in the hospital's history for only the continuance of its charitable and educational activities seems to have averted the consequences of dissolution under the Act of 1547. (fn. 71) According to the 1546 chantry certificate, out of a gross annual income of £54 3s. 10d. fees totalling £40 1s. were paid to the almsmen, schoolmaster, chaplain, and usher. (fn. 72) Almsmen were still being maintained in the hospital in 1548, (fn. 73) and the Crown seems to have been content to appropriate the salary of the hospital chaplain, who was evidently classed as one of the stipendiary priests whose endowments were annexed to the Crown by the Act of 1547. (fn. 74) In May 1550, however, his salary was restored when the Court of Augmentations ordered that £5 6s. 8d. a year should continue to be paid to maintain the minister in the hospital chapel. (fn. 75)
The Crown seems subsequently to have tried to suppress the hospital, for its dissolution is mentioned in some Chancery proceedings of the 1550s (fn. 76) and in 1571 the hospital with all its property was granted to Thomas, Lord Wentworth, as part of a gift to him of lands concealed from the Crown. Even this grant, however, affords proof that the charitable and educational responsibilities of the hospital were still being carried out, for it expressly reserved £35 a year from the property to support ten almsmen, the schoolmaster, and the usher and to pay the Crown's tenth. (fn. 77) With this reservation the lands were probably of little value to Wentworth, and the hospital's continuance was perhaps arranged with his agreement. The grant, however, must have extinguished any Crown title to the property and may thus, ironically, have helped to assure the hospital's future. This was evidently felt to be secure from about this time, for the almsmen were beneficiaries of a number of late-16th- and early17th-century bequests and devises; from the later 17th century they received, in respect of these gifts, £1 8s. a year from the corporation of Lichfield, £1 4s. a year from the heirs of Alexander Wightwick, and a variable income from Feckenham's Trust. (fn. 78) The hospital's existence was also recognized by the Crown in charters granted to the city corporation during the 17th century. (fn. 79)
Probably none of the 16th-century masters resided in the hospital, (fn. 80) and during the later 16th century and earlier 17th century the master's house was leased to the Weston family. (fn. 81) John Machon, master from 1632 to 1671, may have held some position in the bishop's administration, for after Bishop Morton's translation to Durham in 1632 he obtained preferment in that diocese. (fn. 82) He continued, however, to hold St. John's and when, in 1642, the church party at Durham fled before the Scots invaders Machon may have returned to live in Staffordshire. (fn. 83) There is no evidence of any attempt to interfere with his possession of the hospital during the Civil War and the Interregnum. (fn. 84) In 1660 Machon was restored to his Durham preferment and evidently returned there to live; it was probably at this time that a deputy master, William Pargiter, was appointed. (fn. 85)
In 1662 the hospital was visited by Bishop Hacket, as a result of a petition to him from the almsmen which amounted to a severe indictment of the master. They complained of their poverty and made five more specific complaints: first, that the hospital chapel was ruined; secondly, that 'their mansion house (wherein formerly hath been kept good hospitality) is now become a cage for owls' and that barns and outhouses adjacent to the hospital were 'totally ruined'; thirdly, that the master was frequently renewing leases and keeping the fines himself or else making leases to his brother, Edward, for his own use; fourthly, that hospital tenants were allowed to fell and dispose of timber which would have been better used to repair the hospital buildings; and finally, that they had not profited from any 'fine or augmentation' since Bishop Bayly renewed various leases and used the fines to give the almsmen new gowns. (fn. 86) In August Machon wrote to the bishop's registrar, admitting that 'the ruins of the house and chapel . . . are a common object of pity and compassion' (fn. 87) but stating that until lately his own fortunes had been 'as ruinous as that house, both pulled down by the same hands of rapine and sacrilege'. The tone of his letter, however, was placatory: he promised to repair the hospital and hoped that the bishop would not 'judge me to lose my estate because I have lost my health'. (fn. 88) Evidence produced at the visitation in October included an account of the reserved rents from the hospital property which amounted to £78 0s. 4d. a year; over one-fifth of this sum was due from Edward Machon. (fn. 89) The only known act of the visitation is the removal of two almsmen. (fn. 90) Machon, however, seems to have carried out at least some repairs to the hospital buildings: in 1668 he claimed to have spent £40 and more on repairing the hospital chapel. (fn. 91)
The hospital was again visited by Bishop Hacket in 1668 and by Bishop Wood's vicar general in 1687. (fn. 92) In 1690-1 it was included with other hospitals in a royal commission of visitation, (fn. 93) and Bishop Lloyd visited it in 1696. (fn. 94) The frequency of visitation at this time may have been due to the tendency of the masters to treat the hospital as their personal, and even family, property. Thus in 1668 John Machon petitioned the Crown to be allowed to resign the mastership in favour of his son. (fn. 95) A few years later, in 1675, Francis Ashenhurst used the property of the former hospital at Denhall, the hospital's most valuable estate, as part of his future wife's jointure. (fn. 96) Bishop Lloyd's visitation followed complaints that one of the almsmen had recently died 'in want of necessaries for his body and . . . spiritual advice and assistance in the tune of his sickness' and that the almsmen's pensions were paid by the bailiff in clipped money. The visitor made detailed regulations for the payment of the almsmen by the bailiff, including compensation for their past losses; for the repair, furnishing, and regular inspection of their lodgings; for the supply and laundering of their clothes; and for the duties of the chaplain and the statutory prayers in the hospital. (fn. 97)
Little is known of the hospital during the 18th century. Three of its masters during this time were more than locally notable: Edward Maynard (17191740) and Edmund Bateman (1740-51) as scholars, (fn. 98) and Sneyd Davies (1751-69) as a man of letters well-connected with the political and ecclesiastical establishment. (fn. 99) All but one of the masters (fn. 100) either held prebends in the cathedral at the tune of their collation or later came to do so. (fn. 101) The hospital chapel remained a place of public worship, and in 1717 it was used by the parishioners of St. Mary's while their church was being rebuilt; the chapel was fitted up with seats moved there from St. Mary's and the parishioners paid for the glazing of some of the windows. (fn. 102)
In 1786 the reserved rents from the hospital lands amounted to £129 4s. 10d.; (fn. 103) by 1821 they were £177 1s. 6d. These rents, however, did not represent the whole income of the hospital; between 1804 and 1821 fines for entry on leases brought the average annual income to £355 1s. 6d. (fn. 104) In 1821 the Charity Commissioners stated that the master's 'annual payments to the eleemosynary part of the foundation' (fn. 105) exhausted the whole income derived from reserved rents. When deducted from the average annual income these payments and various other small charges (fn. 106) left the master with slightly less than £160 a year. Out of this he had to repair the buildings, which were 'old and of very considerable extent'. (fn. 107) The Charity Commissioners' findings echo Egerton's complaint, made in 1519; the hospital's ability to meet any considerable casual expenditure had not materially improved in the intervening three centuries.
In 1786 each of the almsmen received from the hospital 2s. 6d. a week for maintenance, 10s. 6d. a year for coal, 1s. a year pocket money, and a gown from the master every 4 years. (fn. 108) Their income at this time was still augmented by various independent charities founded two centuries or so earlier. (fn. 109) By 1821 each almsman received from the hospital 3s. 6d. a week for maintenance and 1s. a year pocket money, while expenditure on coal had risen by about half of the 1786 figure; the master also supplied them with furniture and cloaks when necessary. The Charity Commissioners contrasted this expenditure with the almsmen's strict entitlement of 7d. a week each. (fn. 110) Payments from independent charities raised the weekly income of the almsmen in 1821 to about 4s. 6d. (fn. 111)
The antiquated practice of granting long leases of the hospital's estates for low rents and large entry fines persisted throughout the earlier 19th century. (fn. 112) The chief disadvantage of this system of leasing, the confusion of capital with income, may nevertheless have been avoided by the masters during this period, when considerable sums seem to have been spent on improvements and alterations to the buildings. Edmund Outram (1804-21), who evidently devoted close attention to the leasing of the estates, (fn. 113) spent £1,200 on improvements to the master's house. (fn. 114) J. T. Law (1821-36), although he secured a number of leases of hospital property for himself, (fn. 115) did not put his own interests before those of the hospital: he evidently spent a considerable amount on the enlargement of the hospital chapel. (fn. 116) Nevertheless the system was a bad one: in the years 1840-55 entry fines brought the hospital's average annual income to just over £598, but reserved rents, the permanent income inherited by one master from his predecessor, amounted during these years to only £176 5s. 2d. a year — less than they had been in 1821. (fn. 117) In 1856 the Charity Commissioners set out their objections to the system, though in 1859 they agreed that its reform should be delayed until the end of the then master's incumbency. After George Buckeridge's death in 1863, however, no more long leases for low rents and large fines were granted. (fn. 118)
The immediate effect of the reform was to reduce the master's income: Buckeridge's two successors, P. H. Dod (1863-83) and John Allen (1883-6), had almost no income after they had met the statutory charges on the master. (fn. 119) It was apparent, however, that as the hospital estates came to be leased for economic rents the annual income would increase. Approaches were therefore made to the Charity Commissioners for a Scheme to govern the application of the expected increased income. A Scheme was eventually sealed in 1908 after lengthy negotiations between the commissioners, the bishop, and the master, D. R. Norman. The master, however, had refused to surrender any of his rights during his incumbency, and the Scheme did not come into effect until his resignation in 1925. Norman was thus the last master to govern the hospital and administer its estates under the statutes of 1495, retaining the surplus income after meeting the various charges on him. This surplus continued to grow: in 1899-1900 it was just over £250, and in 1903-4 just over £570. In 1904-6 the master's income, including the value of his house, averaged £650 a year, and in 1908 he was said to hold 'one of the most wealthy benefices' in Lichfield. (fn. 120) There was, however, some local criticism of Norman's administration of the hospital, particularly of the disparity between the master's income and the money devoted to the eleemosynary purposes of the foundation. (fn. 121) Moreover, despite his reputation as 'an admirable man of business,' (fn. 122) Norman was alleged by the hospital steward to have allowed some of the property to fall into a bad state of repair; the allegation led to the steward's dismissal by Norman and to a visitation of the hospital in 1910 by Bishop Legge; the master's rights were upheld by the bishop. (fn. 123)
The Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1908 came into effect with Norman's resignation in 1925, but lapse of time and changes in the hospital's endowment made it necessary to revise the old Scheme and it was replaced by a new one in 1927. The most notable changes made in 1927 were the reduction of the number of almsmen from thirteen to twelve and the abolition of the Prebendary of Freeford's right to nominate one of them; otherwise the new Scheme embodied the provisions agreed in 1908. (fn. 124) The hospital is still administered under the 1927 Scheme. (fn. 125) The property of the hospital, its management, and the appointment of the almsmen is vested in a body of twelve trustees, of whom the Bishop of Lichfield is always one. The master is still appointed by the bishop, but his responsibilities are in effect limited to acting as chaplain to the almsmen. (fn. 126) Under the 1927 Scheme twelve almsmen, normally members of the Church of England, were to reside in the hospital. (fn. 127) As a result of extensions and alterations to the buildings in 1966-7, (fn. 128) however, the hospital now accommodates 17 resident almsmen. (fn. 129) Their accommodation, heating, lighting, and laundry and a certain minimum of furniture are supplied by the trustees. Although, under the Scheme, the trustees are allowed to grant pensions to the almsmen and to out-pensioners, no new pensions have been granted during recent years. (fn. 130)
Prayers for Bishops Clinton and Smith are said each morning (except Friday) in the hospital chapel, (fn. 131) and the almsmen are expected to attend these services. The chapel remains a place of public worship, and the master ministers to a regular congregation. During the last forty years or so the services have been of an Anglo-Catholic nature. At the present time there is a Sung Eucharist every Sunday, and baptisms, weddings, and burial services are held in the chapel.
The chapel is the oldest of the hospital buildings now standing; it contains in its south wall a lancet window dating from the early or mid 13th century. (fn. 132) The infirmary hall of this period may have formed a westward extension of the chapel, divided from it only by a wooden screen; a long range of this type, consisting of a structurally undivided chapel and infirmary, would have occupied the north side of what is now the hospital quadrangle. (fn. 133) The existing chapel is of six bays and its plan was originally a plain rectangle without aisles. The south wall contains, in addition to the lancet, a square-headed window, probably of the late 14th century, and a large pointed window with Perpendicular tracery. Two other pointed windows, dating from the late 13th or the 14th century, have been rebuilt. (fn. 134) The north wall formerly had a similar assortment of windows, but these were destroyed when a north aisle of four bays was added. (fn. 135) The present chancel contains a north window (now blocked) and a five-light east window, both late-Gothic in style.
Extensive alterations were made to the chapel during the 19th century. A view of the hospital from the street, drawn in the 1790s, shows that the chapel then had a small bell-cote at its west end and a timber-framed east gable set behind an embattled parapet. (fn. 136) A north aisle, containing a gallery, was built in 1829 at the expense of the master, J. T. Law; at the same time the east gable appears to have been faced with stone. (fn. 137) Further alterations were made by Law's successor, George Buckeridge. (fn. 138) In 1870-1, during the mastership of P. H. Dod, a drastic restoration was carried out. (fn. 139) The roof was raised and a stone bell-cote containing one bell was placed above the east end of the north aisle. The gallery in the north aisle was removed, and the arcade was rebuilt in a more orthodox Gothic style. Medieval windows in the south wall of the chapel also appear to have been renewed. The chapel was reseated, and most of the 17th- and 18th-century fittings, which had included a three-decker pulpit, were cleared away. (fn. 140)
The main east range of the hospital, fronting on St. John Street, is two-storied and is built of red brick with sparse stone dressings. It has generally been accepted that this building dates from the refoundation of the hospital in 1495, although some of its features are typical of a slightly later period. (fn. 141) The range is divided by a cross-passage which is entered from the street by a stone doorway with a four-centred head. The thirteen almsmen and the chaplain, schoolmaster, and usher, who were all bound to reside in the hospital according to the 1495 statutes, (fn. 142) were presumably accommodated in this range. Their rooms, originally with windows looking into the street, were served by tall external chimneys which are among the most striking features of the hospital, forming an impressive row of eight buttress-like projections along the street frontage. In 1929 the greater part of this range, lying to the south of the cross-passage and containing six almsmen's rooms on each floor, was thoroughly restored and replanned: on both floors the corridors were moved to the east, or street, side and the reconstructed almsmen's rooms were given bay windows looking west. The range was also extended southwards, and modern sanitation was introduced. (fn. 143) In 1966-7 an ambitious scheme of modernization and enlargement was carried out. New ranges were built to enclose a quadrangle on its south and west sides. The former includes a covered entry from Birmingham Road, a common room, and accommodation for the matron. The west range provides flatlets for eight almsmen, each consisting of a bed-sitting-room, a kitchen, and a lavatory. When this building was completed in 1966, (fn. 144) alterations were begun to the original east range, to provide similar accommodation there for another nine almsmen. Each was allotted two of the old rooms, one of which was divided into a kitchen and a lavatory. The modernized range was ready for occupation at the end of 1967. (fn. 145)
The master's house has been so much altered that its original date is obscure, although there are indications that a medieval building occupied the site. (fn. 146) It is possible that the house was rebuilt on its present scale in the late 16th or early 17th century. At this period a long lease was held by members of the Weston family; two of them were men of some local importance who would doubtless have needed a substantial dwelling. (fn. 147) Internally there is still some late-Tudor panelling and a doorway with a four-centred head; mullioned and transomed windows and an east gable still survived at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 148) The house was altered by Edward Maynard, master from 1719 to 1740; (fn. 149) a fine panelled room on the west side, the principal staircase, and other fittings are of his time. Alterations and additions were carried out by Edmund Outram, master from 1804 to 1821, (fn. 150) whose work completed the conversion of the exterior to its present Georgian form. In 1958 the house was reduced in size by the demolition of early-19thcentury additions which had projected southwards into the quadrangle. (fn. 151)
Priors, Masters, of Wardens
Hugh of Derby, occurs 1255 and 1257. (fn. 152)
Nicholas, occurs 1259. (fn. 153)
William of Wychnor, resigned by March 1323. (fn. 154)
William of Repton, elected and collated 1323, resigned 1330. (fn. 155)
Richard del Hull, elected and collated 1330. (fn. 156)
William de Couton, occurs 1345, resigned by January 1352. (fn. 157)
Richard de Pecham, collated 1352. (fn. 158)
Richard de Wotton, collated 1388. (fn. 159)
Thomas Bradeley, resigned 1404. (fn. 160)
Thomas Seggesley, collated 1404, occurs 1424. (fn. 161)
Hugh Lache, occurs 1449, resigned by February 1455. (fn. 162)
Thomas Mason, collated 1455, resigned 1461. (fn. 163)
Master Thomas Eggecombe, B.Cn. & C.L., collated 1461, resigned 1474. (fn. 164)
Master Thomas Milley, collated 1474. (fn. 165)
William Smith, resigned 1494. (fn. 166)
Master Sampson Aleyn, B.C.L., collated 1494, died 1494. (fn. 167)
William Smith, M.A., collated 1494, resigned by January 1496. (fn. 168)
Master Hugh Oldham, B.Cn. & C.L., collated 1496, resigned by April 1498. (fn. 169)
Master Robert Frost, collated 1498, resigned by March 1508. (fn. 170)
Richard Egerton, M.A., collated 1508, died by March 1538. (fn. 171)
Master George Lee, LL.B., collated 1538, resigned by 1560. (fn. 172)
William Sale, M.A., presented 1560, probably deprived by 1587. (fn. 173)
Zachary Babington, D.C.L., probably master in 1587 and certainly in 1592 and 1613. (fn. 174)
Lewis Bayly, D.D., Bishop of Bangor, occurs 1621 and 1625. (fn. 175)
John Machon, M.A., collated 1632, resigned 1671. (fn. 176)
Thomas Machon, M.A., collated 1671, died by 1673. (fn. 177)
Francis Ashenhurst, M.A., collated 1673, died 1704. (fn. 178)
Thomas Goodwin, D.D., collated 1704, died 1719. (fn. 179)
Edward Maynard, D.D., collated 1719, died 1740. (fn. 180)
Edmund Bateman, D.D., collated 1740, died 1751. (fn. 181)
Sneyd Davies, D.D., collated 1751, died 1769. (fn. 182)
Theophilus Buckeridge, M.A., collated 1769, died 1803. (fn. 183)
Edmund Outram, D.D., collated 1804, died 1821. (fn. 184)
James Thomas Law, M.A., collated 1821, resigned 1836. (fn. 185)
George Buckeridge, M.A., collated 1836, died 1863. (fn. 186)
Philip Hayman Dod, M.A., collated 1863, died 1883. (fn. 187)
John Allen, M.A., collated 1883, died 1886. (fn. 188)
Charles Henry Bromby, D.D., collated 1887, resigned 1892. (fn. 189)
The Hon. Adelbert John Robert Anson, D.D., collated 1893, resigned 1898. (fn. 190)
Denham Rowe Norman, collated 1898, resigned 1925. (fn. 191)
Geoffrey Rowland Wynn Griffith, collated 1925, died 1926. (fn. 192)
Ronald Robert Wynn Griffith, B.A., collated 1926, died 1940. (fn. 193)
George Kenneth Morgan Green, collated 1940, died 1945. (fn. 194)
Reginald Norman Lawson, M.A., collated 1945, died 1956. (fn. 195)
Harry Baylis, M.A., collated 1956, resigned 1964. (fn. 196)
George Noel Strong, M.A., collated 1964. (fn. 197)
In 1257 the hospital possessed no common seal and Prior Hugh, with the assent of the brethren, was using his own seal for the hospital's business. (fn. 198) A common seal was, however, subsequently used during the Middle Ages. A suit brought against the master about 1539 turned on the question whether the hospital was a corporation of master and brethren with a common seal. The fullest evidence about the seal then in use came from Richard Walker, who had been schoolmaster in the hospital in the early 1530s. Walker said that there was no common seal but that a seal used by the master alone 'hath written about it Sigillum Commune Hospitalis Sancti Johannis Lichfeld as he remembereth'. (fn. 199) This seal, appropriate for the time when the hospital was a corporation of religious brethren, had evidently not been changed to accord with the alterations made to the hospital's constitution by Bishops Boulers and Smith. (fn. 200) It may perhaps be identified with a surviving brass matrix, (fn. 201) oval 2¼ by 1¼ in., depicting St. John the Baptist standing, a nimbus round his head, his right hand raised in blessing, and what appears to be a book under his left arm. The saint wears a long garment. In the field on each side of him are a lighted candle in a candlestick, the letter I, and a fleur-de-lis. Legend, lombardic:
SIGILLUM COMMUNE HOSPITII SANCTI IOHANNIS BAPTISTAE LICH'
A 16th-century brass matrix, (fn. 202) pointed oval 27/8 by 1½ in., depicts St. John the Baptist standing, a nimbus above his head and his right hand raised in blessing; he wears a tunic tied with a corded belt ending in tassels. In the field on each side are a lighted candle in a candlestick, the letter I, and a fleur-de-lis. Legend, Roman and reversed:
SIGILLUM COMMUNE HOSP' SANCTI IOHANNIS BAPTISTAE LITCH'
A 17th-century ivory matrix (fn. 203) is a pointed oval 2 by 1⅓ in. It depicts St. John the Baptist standing in left profile between two candles in candlesticks and the letters I B. Legend:
SIGILLUM COMMUNE HOSP' SANCTI IOHANNIS BAPTISTAE EXTRA BARRAS LICH'