Religious houses: Maison de Dieu

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Religious houses: Maison de Dieu', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 152-154. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Religious houses: Maison de Dieu", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 152-154. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Religious houses: Maison de Dieu", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 152-154. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,


Maison De Dieu was founded by royal license, June 10, 1412, by the munificent Roger de Thornton, for a warden, being a priest; nine poor men, brethren; and four poor women, sisters; who were to be provided with meat and clothing in this "House of God," where they should pray daily for the health of the mayor, sheriff, aldermen, and commonalty of Newcastle, and, after their respective deaths, for their souls, and the souls of the father and mother of the founder, and of all the benefactors of the hospital. This institution was dedicated to St. Katherine, and called Thornton's Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The founder, in 1403, obtained a license to alien in mortmain to the mayor and commonalty of the town a piece of ground, on the south side of the Sandhill, 100 feet in length, and 24 in breadth, upon which he intended to erect this hospital, which edifice was probably completed at the date of its foundation, nine years afterwards. In 1424, king Henry VI. granted a license to the founder to assign a portion of ten messuages and ten tofts, with their appurtenances, in Newcastle, of the value of seven pounds per annum, to this hospital, in aid of their support for ever.

Roger Thornton, by will dated the Thursday before Christmas-day, 1429, bequeathed to this place, which he styles "The Meson-Dieu of St. Katherine of my foundation, for their enorments," twenty pounds. In 1456, the son of the founder granted to the mayor and community of Newcastle upon Tyne, the use of the hall and kitchen belonging to this hospital, to the following purpose: "for a young couple," says the Milbank MS. "when they were married, to make their wedding dinner in, and receive the offerings and gifts of their friends: for at that time houses were not large."

Sir John Lomley, Knt. Lord of Lomley, the true and undoubted patron, in 1531 granted to Robert Ayton, of Fishborn, in the county of Durham, and to Robert Halyman, of Newcastle, yeoman, jointly, the next vacation, nomination and jus patronatus of the free chapel of St. Catherine, called Masyndue.

In the 37th king Henry VIII. (fn. 1) this charitable establishment was dissolved; but it still continued in the Thornton family. In 1551, it appears that five poor women resided in the Maison Dieu; and in 1586, Martin Hallyman occurs as the master. Sir Richard Lumley, a descendant of Thornton by the female line, in 1629 conveyed to the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne, and their successors for ever, "all that building of stone covered with lead, standing near to the water of Tyne, and to the east part of the town's chamber of the said town of Newcastle, being about sixteen yards in length, and anciently part of, and belonging to the hospital of St. Catherine the Virgin, commonly called Thornton's Hospital." This deed seems to have been executed in consideration of one hundred pounds, paid to Sir Richard, An annual rent was also reserved.

In Speed's plan of Newcastle, the Maison Dieu is the only public place, or building, marked on the Sandhill. Grey, in his Chorography, printed in 1649, says that "the Merchants' Court was built upon the Maison Dieu." The house itself was converted into warehouses; but, in 1823, it was pulled down, and a fish-market has been erected upon its scite, with a new hall above for the company of Free Merchants.


  • 1. The following account of the Maison Dieu was given at this time:—"The Hospitalle of Saynt Katheryne, called le Maison-Dieu, in the parishe of All-Saynts, in the towne of Newcastell upon Tyne, was founded by reporte to fynde a prieste for ever to be ther dayly resident in kepyng of hospitalitie to the reliefe of the poore, and to herborowe the sickke, and to gyve in almes yerely certeyn cooles to poore folks, to the value of 26s. 8d. and bredde to the valewe of 13s. 4d. and to kepe two yerely obytts for the founders sowles, but the dede of the foundacion we have not seene—yerely value £8, 1d.—yerely value according to this survey £20, 3s. 2d. as appereth by a rentall, whereof is paid out for rents resolut 23s. For a perpetual salarie, £6, 13s. 4d.—For two obitts, 16s. 4d. and for almes, 40s. to be distributed according to the foundacion.—And for the Kinges Majesties tenths, 16s. quad.—£11, 8s. 8d. quad. And remayneth clerely £8, 13s. 5d. ob. quad. which the incumbent bathe towarde his lyvyng, according to the order of the foundacion.—It is aboute a furlong in distance from the parishe churche.—Value of ornaments, jewells, plate, goodes and catalls, 62s. 8d. as appereth by a perticuler inventory of the same.—Ther were no other landes nor yerely profits, &c." A. D. 1535, this house appears to have been valued at £12, 3s. 10d. in the whole, and at £8, 1d. clear.