Hospitals: St Leonard, Derby

Pages 84-86

A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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There was a hospital for lepers outside the walls of Derby, above the Osmaston Road, somewhere near the present street of St. Leonard's; for this hospital like so many other leper-houses founded by the Normans was dedicated in honour of the French hermit. It was a house of royal foundation and probably established by Henry II, for an inspeximus and confirmation charter of Edward II cites an exemption granted by Henry II to the lepers of the Domus Dei or God's House of Derby—a name by which St. Leonard's was often known—from payment of tallages, taxes, escheats, and all other contribution. The same inspeximus also cites a mandate of 17 Henry II (1171) securing them in the enjoyment of these immunities. (fn. 1)

In the Derby chartulary is an undated agreement between the abbey and the brethren of St. Leonard, with Henry their chaplain; from the witnesses it can be assigned to circa 1220. The canons thereby sanctioned the chaplain of St. Leonard's to daily administer the divine offices in the oratory of the hospital, and to receive all offerings over and above 10s. a year. (fn. 2) In 1245 Nicholas le Jovene, in consideration of a sparrow hawk, granted to the Master of the Hospital of St. Leonard half a toft in Derby, at the yearly rent of 9d. for all service. (fn. 3) On 12 March, 1309, Gerard Salvyn, escheator beyond the Trent, was ordered to replevy to the master and brethren of the hospital of St. Leonard, Derby, until the next Parliament, a messuage taken into the king's hand by the escheator, because the master received it from Alice de Wodeford who had held it of him in fee, but Alice being unable to pay the rent the master entered on the messuage without the king's writ. At the same time order was made to restore to the master and brethren a messuage that William de Kersonton, who committed felony, held of them, which they had entered, after the year and the day, without the king's writ. (fn. 4)

The first known master of this hospital would appear to be Henry de Roucestre, who is said, in a suit brought in 1330 by the then master for the recovery of ten closes in Derby, to have been master in the time of Henry III. (fn. 5) It would, however, seem probable that this is slightly too early a date for him, as it is recorded that Henry de Roucestre, master of the house of lepers of St. Leonard, and Henry Howes, a brother of the same house, were accused of killing one Henry Bonde in 1305, but subsequently acquitted. (fn. 6)

On 8 July, 1316, grant was made by Edward II of the custody of the hospital of St. Leonard, Derby, during pleasure to Roger de Luchirche, king's chaplain. (fn. 7) In September of the same year, at the instance of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, protection was granted for a year for the hospital of lepers of St. Leonard, Derby, and for their men and lands, the hospital being of royal foundation, and so poor that it scarcely sufficed for the sustenance of the lepers. (fn. 8) Edward III, when at Nottingham in April 1327, confirmed the grant of the late king to Roger de Luchirche, chaplain, of the custody of this hospital during pleasure. (fn. 9)

On 2 September of the same year, the king commissioned Adam de Brom, Herbert Ponger, and Edmund de Grymesby to visit the hospital to inquire into and correct various abuses arising from the decay of good discipline and the waste and alienation of goods and possessions; with power if necessary to take inquisition by oath of men of the county of Derby, and to correct and punish the guilty. They were to survey the estate, to examine the warden, brethren, and officials. The sheriff was ordered to cause juries to attend on any day fixed by the commissioners. (fn. 10)

The result of this commission (fn. 11) was that Roger de Luchirche, acting as warden, John de Barewe and Richard Pot, able-bodied brethren, and Roger de Duranthorpe and Geoffrey de Aylesbury, infirm brethren, appeared before the visitors sitting in the chapel of the hospital. The warden being sworn said that he had the custody of hospital by virtue of letters patent of the present king confirming other letters of the late king. Being required to show the rules of the house, he said that they never had a rule there; when any vacancy occurs the brethren admit some one either able-bodied or infirm at their pleasure, and he who is thus admitted shall take the oaths of obedience, poverty, and chastity, and swear not to reveal the secrets of the house to any stranger, but they do not make any other profession, nor do they have any peculiar dress or tonsure, nor are they accustomed to perform prayers or other alms except such as each chooses. Further, he said that Roger de Duranthorpe had carried off the foundation charter and the common seal without leave of the warden and brethren, and had involved the hospital by giving many bonds sealed with the same seal for various sums of money to certain persons, and that year he had taken from their stock at Derby 133 sheep and drove them to Mackworth, and there they were shorn at the house of Robert le Foucher, and the wool was sold by the said Roger and disposed of to Roger de Bredon of Derby; also he sold fifty-eight lambs belonging to the hospital's stock for 63s. 8d., and took 22s. 8d. of the farm of their will, and of all this none was spent for the good of the hospital, but was wasted and expended on bailiffs and others to take his part against the warden, to the manifest injury of the hospital. And all the other brethren being examined separately, agreed in all points with the warden. Roger de Duranthorpe being sworn, acknowledged that he had the charter and seal, and said that they were in safe keeping in the town of Derby, and being ordered to fetch them at once promised faithfully to do so, and went out for that purpose. The commissioners had to wait a long time, but at last he returned, and being asked for the charter and seal said he had changed his mind, and refused to give them up, though commanded to do so in the king's name and by his oath of obedience, nor would he answer their questions. So they gave sentence that he should be ejected from the hospital, and ordered the master no longer to allow him to remain there. On other points the master and brethren reported all well. John de Barewe said that he had been in the hospital seventeen years, at first as cook and afterwards as chaplain.

On 15 April, 1328, the king granted the mastership for life of St. Leonard's to Thomas de Goldington, king's clerk; at the same time a writ de intendendo to the brethren and sisters of the hospital, and a mandate to the sheriff to induct him were issued. (fn. 12) Thomas de Goldyngton, described as master of the house of God and the leprous persons therein, obtained inspection and confirmation under privy seal, on 29 June, 1331, of letters patent of 2 Edward I, whereby the liberties granted to the house by Henry II and Henry III were confirmed. (fn. 13)

On 8 January, 1333, the taxers and collectors of the tenth and fifteenth in Derbyshire were ordered not to molest or aggrieve the master and brethren of the hospital of St. Leonard, Derby, founded by the king's progenitor, for these dues, inasmuch as the house was so slenderly endowed that its goods barely sufficed for the maintenance of the master and brethren and of the leprous persons. (fn. 14)

Thomas de Goldington, who was a surgeon and was also master of Bolton Hospital in Northumberland, (fn. 15) seems to have been a failure in the administration of his house. In March 1340 a commission was issued by the crown to William de Cossall and Roger de Baukwell to visit the hospital, which was reported to be greatly decayed through misrule, and to take measures, to reform its estate, and to inflict due punishment on all persons responsible for the decay. The commission was renewed in the following May, when Richard de Wylughby and Richard de la Pole took the place of William de Cossall. (fn. 16)

On 28 September of the same year a fine of half a mark was paid to the king for confirmation of an agreement whereby Warden Goldyngton and the brethren of St. Leonard's undertook to receive Henry de Fyndern as a brother, and grant him for life food, raiment, and other necessaries, and a chamber under the master's chamber adjoining the chapel, with free ingress and egress. (fn. 17) There was doubtless some handsome compensation made for this grant of a life corrody, as the brethren were not fond of unremunerative boarders, Thomas de Goldington being summoned by William Tappe of Derby in 1330 for refusing to admit him to food and lodging in the hospital as ordered by the king's letters patent. (fn. 18)

The administration did not, however, improve, and on 7 June, 1341, yet another commission was appointed to correct the misrule and to chastise as they deserved all those who were found to be blameworthy. The duty of reformation and chastisement was committed by the king on this occasion to a religious, namely the abbot of Burton-on-Trent, and with him were associated Thomas de Clopton and Richard de la Pole. (fn. 19) This commission seems also to have been futile, for actually another, with like powers, was nominated by Edward III in November, 1342. (fn. 20) Again, in July 1345 the prior of Repton, with two colleagues, were appointed for a like purpose. (fn. 21)

A commission was issued to the abbot of Darley and two others in September 1345 to make a visitation of this hospital, as the king was informed that Master Thomas de Goldyngton, warden, was exercising the office of surgeon of the commonalty, neglecting the duties of the wardenship, dissipating the goods, and alienating the lands of the house. The commissioners were to examine the warden and the brethren and sisters of the hospital severally, and to find on inquisition by the oath of good men of the county, the whole truth as to the condition of the house. (fn. 22) The report of this commission is not extant, but it would appear that Goldyngton died in the Black Death, or was called upon to resign, for in August, 1349, the king appointed Robert de Sandford as warden for life. (fn. 23)

Mention is made of the house of the Lepers, Derby, in the boundaries of property in two charters respectively dated 1352 and 1359. (fn. 24)

William de Pakyngton, king's clerk, was granted the custody for life on 20 October, 1377; but in the following April the letters patent of that appointment were revoked, William de Pakyngton having obtained them by false representation. The late king, it was then stated, had granted the wardenship to Henry de Coton, clerk, who, after holding it for some time, was suddenly ejected by William, whereupon Henry petitioned the king in Parliament with the result that the sheriff of Derby was commanded to give notice to William to appear in Chancery, and to show cause why Henry should not be restored. He appeared, but would show no cause, and mandate was issued to the bailiffs of Derby to reinstate Henry. (fn. 25)

There is no special entry pertaining to this hospital in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, but in the annual outgoings at that date from Darley Abbey is the sum of 5s. 6d. to the master of St. Leonard's, Derby. The certificate of the last year of Henry VIII shows that there were no goods pertaining to the hospital, that a priest took all the profits, and that the lands were farmed at 10s. a year.

Masters Of St. Leonard's, Derby

Henry de Roucestre, occurs 1305 (fn. 26)

Roger de Luchirche, appointed 1316 (fn. 27)

Thom de Goldington, appointed 1328, (fn. 28) occurs 1348 (fn. 29)

Robert de Sandford, appointed 1349 (fn. 30)

Henry de Coton, occurs 1377 (fn. 31)

John Candelesby, resigned 1401 (fn. 32)

John Kyrkeby, appointed 1401 (fn. 32)

Thomas Normanton, occurs 1461, (fn. 33) died 1479 (fn. 34)

John Tyrry (fn. 34)


  • 1. Pat. 2 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 3.
  • 2. Cott. MSS. Titus, C. ix, fol 76. This is followed in the chartulary by various other covenants between the canons and brethren as to rents.
  • 3. Feet of F. Derby, 29 Hen. III.
  • 4. Close, 2 Edw. II, m. 11.
  • 5. Assize R. 167 m. 69 d.
  • 6. Ibid. 169 m. 40.
  • 7. Pat. 10 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 36.
  • 8. Ibid. m. 22.
  • 9. Ibid. 1 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 27.
  • 10. Ibid. pt. 3, m. 24; Close, 1 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 15.
  • 11. Chanc. Misc. Roll, 4/8.
  • 12. Pat. 2 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 13.
  • 13. Pat. 5 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 32.
  • 14. Close, 6 Edw. III, m. 3.
  • 15. Pat. 3 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 10.
  • 16. Pat. 14 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 5, 11 d, 8 d, 7 d.
  • 17. Pat. 14 Edw. III, pt. 3, m. 35.
  • 18. Assize R. 167, m. 3 d.
  • 19. Pat. 15 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 49 d.
  • 20. Pat. 16 Edw. III, pt. 3, m. 13 d.
  • 21. Pat. 19 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 28 d.
  • 22. Pat. 22 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 7d.
  • 23. Pat. 23 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 8.
  • 24. Jeayes, Derby Charters, 982, 983.
  • 25. Pat. 1 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 7; pt. 5, m. 26.
  • 26. Assize R. 169, m. 40.
  • 27. Pat. 10 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 36.
  • 28. Pat. 2 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 13.
  • 29. Pat. 22 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 7 d.
  • 30. Pat. 23 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 8.
  • 31. Pat. 1 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 7; and pt. 5, m. 26.
  • 32. Pat. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 24.
  • 33. Pat. 1 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 14.
  • 34. Pat. 19 Edw. IV, m. 17.