Charitable institutions: Hospitals

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, 'Charitable institutions: Hospitals', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 528-531. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Charitable institutions: Hospitals", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 528-531. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Charitable institutions: Hospitals", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 528-531. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section


HOSPITALS are numerous and well supported in Newcastle, Jesus' Hospital, commonly called the Freeman's, or Town's Hospital, was founded, erected, and endowed by the corporation, in the year 1681. Some rules for its management were revised on April 16, 1683; and on the 26th of March following, it was incorporated by the name of the master, brethren, and sisters of the Hospital of the holy Jesus, founded in the Manors in the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne, at the charge of the mayor and burgesses of that town, for the support of poor impotent people, being freemen and freemen's widows, or their sons and daughters that had never been married, for ever. Thomas Lewen, merchant, was appointed the first master, (fn. 1) with thirty-nine others, to have power to sue and be sued, implead and be impleaded, purchase and hold lands, and have a common seal, with a cross graven thereon, and in the circumference, "Sigillum Hospitalis Sancti Jesu in Novo Castro." The mayor, aldermen, and common council of Newcastle, for the time being, were appointed visitors, and to give rules and laws to the hospital.

The day after the incorporation of this hospital, its founders purchased a messuage, quay, and garden, in the Close, for £700; and, in the same year, an estate at Edderley, in the county of Durham, for £1610; also, in 1683, another estate at Whittle, in Northumberland, for £1300; all of which estates were settled upon the master, brethren, and sisters of this hospital. The annual rental of Edderley and Whittle, being only £80, was found inadequate to the intended purpose, which induced the mayor and common council, on December 19, 1716, to petition parliament for vesting the estates belonging to this hospital in trustees, to be sold, and for purchasing the manor of Walker, of the yearly value of £250, which they proposed to subject to a yearly rent-charge for ever of £185, for the support of Jesus' Hospital. On January 17, 1717, the bill for this purpose was rejected in the House of Lords, upon an allegation of Lord Cadogan that the corporation of Newcastle had purchased the estate of Walker without licence, and therefore, by the statute of mortmain, it belonged to the crown. This estate, which had cost the corporation £12,220, remained in the crown until the 13th of December, 1723; when William Carr, Esq. then representative for the town, obtained his majesty's pardon and licence to the mayor and Corporation of Newcastle to hold the manor of Walker, and the ballast-shore and other lands particularly mentioned in the licence, for the purpose of "providing a sufficient fund for the maintenance of the poor of the said hospital for ever." (fn. 2)

Originally, the poor in this hospital were allowed 20s. each quarterly, and the master 30s. On January 2, 1752, the common council ordered 40 fothers of coals to be given to this hospital annually; and on December 18, 1769, the master was ordered to be paid £8, and each brother and sister £6 per annum. (fn. 3) No addition being afterwards made to this small allowance, notwithstanding the rapid decrease in the value of money, and the increasing returns from the Walker estate, it became shamefully inadequate to their subsistence; and, in consequence, some affecting instances of distress occasionally occurred. These being forcibly represented to the corporation, an addition both of money and coals, after some delay, was made to the poor members of this and the other hospitals, and which now amounts to £13 each per annum, four fothers of the best Benwell coals, and the coats and gowns as usual. The town's marshal pays each £1 every four weeks at the hospital; and all the bro thers and sisters are required, once a quarter, to attend the mayor at the Guildhall, who hears and judges of such grievances or requests as any one thinks proper to prefer. Forty inmates of this hospital are also paid 12s. 6d. annually from Miss Buck's Charity, and 15d. from other legacies bequeathed to the poor, and which is usually called escutcheon money.

This hospital is finely situated on a small eminence, which is ascended by steps from the Manor Chare. It faces the south, and is a good brick building, three stories high. The under story is adorned with piazzas, which are 91 feet in length, and make a very agreeable walk, a small field being in front, which is separated from the street by a low stone wall and a light iron paling. About the middle of the piazza is the entrance to the second and third stories, each of which has a light gallery that extends the whole length of the building. At the foot of the stairs is a poor-box, and the figure of Charity; and, opposite to the entrance, an ornamented fountain for the use of the hospital. This building contains 42 rooms, each 13 feet by 12 feet; and every room has a small coal-house in the back-yard. They are now all rendered more comfortable than formerly; and some of the magistrates occasionally visit the hospital, as was the practice in former times.


Mrs. Ann Davison, relict of Benjamin Davison, merchant, by will, dated December 3, 1719, left the surplus of her personal estate to general uses of charity. It amounted to £940, with which her executors purchased of the mayor and burgesses an annuity of £55, payable out of Walker estate. With this annual sum they endowed this hospital for six poor widows of clergymen and merchants. The house was built by the corporation in the year 1725. On March 25, 1748, this charity was founded by George Grey, Esq. the surviving trustee, by which the governess and sisters have power to sue and be sued, to purchase land, and use a common seal, with the letters A. D. The mayor and common council were also empowered to appoint governesses and sisters, or, on any misbehaviour, to remove them. In 1725, the corporation of Newcastle built a dwelling-house and offices for the sisters of this hospital, at the east side of the field which is opposite to Jesus' Hospital. This building was pulled down in 1754, and the present house erected, over the door of which is the following inscription:—


The benevolent Sir Walter Blackett, in 1754, deposited in the hands of the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle the sum of £1200, as an endowment for an hospital for six poor and decayed burgesses. The foundation-stone of this hospital was laid by the mayor and magistrates in July, 1754; and it was built at the expense of the corporation. In front is the following inscription:— "This hospital for six unmarried men, to be poor and decayed burgesses, built on the ground, and at the common charge of the corporation of this town, was founded by Sir Walter Blackett, Bart. the munificent magistrate and representative, in seven successive parliaments, of Newcastle upon Tyne, A. D. 1754."


This hospital for six unmarried women, to be the daughters or widows of free burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne, is indebted for its foundation and support to the charity of Thomas Davison, Esq. of Ferry Hill, in the county of Durham, and his two sisters, Mary and Timothea Davison, who gave the corporation £1200 for this purpose. The house was erected at the same time, and under the same roof, as the two former hospitals. The following inscription is on a stone above the door:—

"This hospital for six unmarried women, to be daughters and widows of burgesses, built on the ground and at the common charge of the corporation of this town, was founded by Thomas Davison, Esq. of Ferry Hill in the county of Durham, A. D. 1754."

"These hospitals are built in a neat and elegant style. Each of the inmates has a light, commodious bed-room, with a kitchen, and pantry, large enough, if necessary, to hold a bed. They have the same income and quantity of coals as the brethren and sisters of Jesus' Hospital.


The corporation of Newcastle, having resolved to testify their joy at the peace of Amiens by some useful monument of public charity, fixed upon the erection of a new hospital for aged freemen and their widows. Accordingly, on Tuesday, May 10, 1814, the day of general rejoicing, the mayor, recorder, aldermen, and other officers of the corporate body, accompanied by a numerous company of the free burgesses, proceeded in procession to the Westgate, where the foundation-stone of a building to contain twenty convenient rooms was laid. On June 23, 1817, the corporation commenced building twenty additional rooms. Some of the rooms are assigned to old married freemen, and to the decayed unmarried daughters of freemen. The building, which forms a quadrangle, is of stone, in the monastic style. The paved yard in the centre contains a good pump and the necessary out-offices. Each of the inmates receives monthly at the rate of 5s. per week, and four fothers of coals yearly. The governor is paid £2 extra per annum.


  • 1. John Marshall was appointed master or governor of this hospital on January 15, 1821. He was the only son of a respectable timber-merchant in Newcastle, had many rich relatives, and was cousin to the Rev. George Walker, F. R. S. His classical education was completed at the Grammar-school of this town, under the superintendence of the Rev. Hugh Moises, M. A. Unfortunately, his parents died while he was a youth; and his property gradually melted away, in consequence of a series of imprudent speculations. Being, as he expresses it, "jilted by Dame Fortune, and deserted by his summer friends," he embraced a seafaring life. Tiring of this, he joined the profession of teachers, the members of which are finely delineated in his "Portrait of a Village Pedagogue." In 1804, he performed his "Walk from Newcastle to Keswick," where he was hospitably received by his friend, Mr. Crossthwaite, proprietor of the Museum of Natural and Artificial Curiosities, and who procured him a vacant school in the retired vale of Mewlands. About a year afterwards, by the recommendation of the curate of Buttermere, he became the Pedagogue of Loweswater, where, with his reverend friend, he smoked "the pipe of peace," and drunk home-brewed ale, in the neat cottage of Mary of Buttermere. After this, he kept a school at Morpeth, at Murton, and at Newburn; but his want of prudence, his love of convivial company, and his increasing age, compelled him, in 1819, to seek shelter in the Westgate Hospital. He next was removed to Jesus' Hospital, where, after a lingering illness, he died on August 19, 1825, aged 68 years. He was a good classical scholar, and understood French and some of the other modern languages. Besides his Village Pedagogue, he was author of several lesser pieces of poetry, that display considerable taste and fancy.
  • 2. When Mr. Carr arrived at Newcastle with the above-mentioned licence, he was immediately elected one of the magistrates of the corporation. On January 21, 1724, the magistrates went in their formalities to the Guildhall, where the instrument was read by the town-clerk, and followed with loud acclamations. The evening was spent with great rejoicings. On the 7th of February following, the mayor and common council addressed his majesty on this occasion.—See Journals of Lords and Commons, and authorities quoted by Brand.
  • 3. The mayor and common council of Newcastle, in consequence of a resolution to prefer, in future, the most aged claimants to the places that should fall vacant in this hospital, made an order, on March 22, 1779, that the several candidates should produce certificates of their respective ages, to be regularly filed in the town-clerk's office. "This hospital, for a governess and five sisters, widows of Protestant clergymen, merchants, and freemen of the town, was endowed by the charity of Mrs. Ann Davison, relict of Mr. Benjamin Davison, merchant, first erected by the corporation of Newcastle A. D. 1725, and rebuilt at their common charge A. D. 1754."