Hospitals: St Nicholas, Nantwich

Pages 186-187

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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The hospital of St. Nicholas which stood at the eastern end of Hospital Street in Nantwich was by tradition the foundation of William Malbank, first baron of Wich Malbank, for the benefit of travellers and the poor. (fn. 1) In the early 15th century it was said that Malbank had endowed the hospital with lands in 1084-5. (fn. 2) No other benefactor is known. (fn. 3) By the 14th century the hospital was governed by a master or warden, a secular clerk who also held the hospital chapel, the free chapel of St. Nicholas. (fn. 4) When the barony of Wich Malbank was divided on the death of William, the third baron, the advowson of the hospital descended through the Bassett and Burnell families and in the mid 14th century came into the hands of the Lovell family where it remained until the attainder of Francis, Lord Lovell in 1485; after a brief tenure by Sir William Stanley it was exercised by the Crown from 1495 until the hospital was dissolved. (fn. 5) Many of the masters held offices and benefices elsewhere and few are likely to have been permanently resident in the hospital or to have been much concerned with its affairs, though one of the most distinguished, Alan Newark, who died in 1412, left 10 marks to the poor of Nantwich for the benefit of the soul of the founder of his hospital. (fn. 6)

In 1535 the rents of the lands and tenements of the free chapel of St. Nicholas were valued at £6 11s. 4d. a year and in 1542 the master leased the 'free chapel or hospital' with all its lands, tenements, tithes, etc. for the same sum to Ralph Wilbraham of Nantwich for 21 years. (fn. 7) The lease was annulled when the hospital was suppressed in 1548. The chantry commissioners reported that the 'free chantry of St. Nicholas' was worth £7 10s. a year and that there were no jewels, plate, goods, ornaments, lead, or bells. The master was awarded a pension of £5 a year which was paid until 1561. (fn. 8) On 11 November 1548 Sir Thomas Bramley, Justice of King's Bench, was granted the chapel and a mansion house, presumably the hospital building, and the lands belonging to the chapel which consisted of an orchard and a 2-a. croft next to the house, another 3-a. croft, two houses with orchards in Nantwich, a salt house of twelve leads and the vacant site of another salt house of six leads. (fn. 9) In 1638 Sir Edmund Wright built an almshouse for six poor men on part of the site of the former hospital. (fn. 10) The 'hospital house' was used as a private house and some remains, said to be Norman in date, were discovered when alterations were made at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 11)

Chaplains, Masters, Wardens or Rectors

John, occurs 1259. (fn. 12)

Robert de Marchumleye, occurs 1323, died 1330. (fn. 13)

Alexander le Blount, presented 1330. (fn. 14)

Thomas Corbet, died 1349. (fn. 15)

Roger of Allerton, presented 1350, resigned 1353. (fn. 16)

John de Newenham, presented 1353. (fn. 17)

Nicholas Rivell, collated 1365. (fn. 18)

Roger de Blakhurst, presented 1365, resigned 1374. (fn. 19)

John de Ormesheued, presented 1374, resigned 1377. (fn. 20)

John Wodehouse, presented 1377, died 1395. (fn. 21)

Thomas Hyne, presented 1395, resigned 1396. (fn. 22)

Alan Newark, B.C.L., presented 1396, died 1412. (fn. 23)

Ralph le Bruyn, collated 1425. (fn. 24)

Thomas Heywood, died 1460. (fn. 25)

Thomas Friston, collated 1460, resigned 1468. (fn. 26)

Ranulph Egerton, presented 1468, resigned 1477. (fn. 27)

Richard Egerton, presented 1477, resigned 1507. (fn. 28)

Thomas Blythe, presented 1507, died 1531. (fn. 29)

William Gwyn, presented 1531, died 1540. (fn. 30)

William Hill, B.C.L., presented 1541. (fn. 31)

No seal is known.


  • 1. J. Hall, History of the Town and Parish of Nantwich, 17, 48.
  • 2. Ibid. 500; 36 D.K.R. 359.
  • 3. Hall (Nantwich, 49) wrongly attributed the grant of a salt house in Nantwich by Ralph Saracen to St. John's hospital, Chester (Bodl. MS. Dodsworth 31, f. 144) to this hospital.
  • 4. Hall, Nantwich, 49.
  • 5. Ibid. 22, 40–7. The long tenure by the Lovell fam. led to the erroneous belief that they founded the hospital: B.L. Harl. MS. 2074, f. 63.
  • 6. Wills & Inventories, i (Surtees Soc. 1835 (2)), 52, Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, ii. 1354–5.
  • 7. Valor Eccl. v. 218; Hall, Nantwich, 51.
  • 8. Hall, Nantwich, 51. For a 15th-cent. chest said to have belonged to the hospital see Ormerod, Hist. Ches. iii. 450; A. Pugin, Specimens of Gothic Architecture, ii (1823), 27-8.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 348. The salt houses were in Great Wood St. and Pepper St.: Hall, Nantwich, 52.
  • 10. Hall, Nantwich, 52, 365.
  • 11. Ibid. 52–3.
  • 12. B.L. Harl. MS. 1967, f. 113v. He was chaplain of the hospital. Hall (Nantwich, 49) wrongly listed William de la Bach as warden in 1316–17: above, hospital of St. John.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1321–4, 362; Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/2, f. 106.
  • 14. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/2, f. 106.
  • 15. Ibid. f. 127. He was chaplain of the chantry chapel of St. Nicholas.
  • 16. Ibid.; Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 111.
  • 17. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 111. He held prebends in Lich. cath.: Le Neve, Fasti, 1300-1541, Cov. & Lich. 21, 55, 66.
  • 18. 1st Reg. Stretton, 166.
  • 19. Ibid. 166, 177.
  • 20. Ibid. 177, 180.
  • 21. Ibid. 180; Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/6, f. 60. He was dean of St. John's, Chester and chamberlain of Chester: Ch. in Chester, 125–6.
  • 22. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/6, f. 60.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 60v.; 36 D.K.R. 359; Wills & Inventories, i. 51–2. For details of his career see Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, ii. 1354–5.
  • 24. Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc.), i. 226.
  • 25. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/12, f. 98.
  • 26. Ibid. ff. 98, 104. He had been chaplain of the hospital.
  • 27. Ibid. ff. 104, 111.
  • 28. Ibid. f. 111; B/A/1/14 i, f. 55. For his later offices and benefices see V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 287n.
  • 29. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/14 i, ff. 51, 68. He also held the prebend of Colwich in Lich. cath.: Le Neve, Fasti, 1300–1541, Cov. & Lich. 27.
  • 30. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/14 i, f. 48; B/A/1/14 iii, f. 38v. He also held the prebend of Stotfold in Lich. cath.: Le Neve, Fasti, 1300–1541, Cov. & Lich. 57.
  • 31. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/14 iii, f. 38v. He also held the prebend of Weeford in Lich. cath. and was 50 yrs. old in 1548: Le Neve, Fasti, 1300–1541, Cov. & Lich. 65; Hall, Nantwich, 51. See also Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, 1501–40, 310.