Hospitals: Dorchester

Pages 101-103

A History of the County of Dorset: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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The hospital here, commonly called 'St. John's House,' was under the royal patronage, and presumably of royal foundation, but we hear nothing of it until the year 1324, when William Marshall of Dorchester obtained a licence from Edward II to endow a chaplain who should celebrate daily in the chapel of the hospital of St. John, Dorchester, for the soul of the said William, for the souls of his ancestors and successors and all the faithful departed. (fn. 1) The date, therefore, when the hospital was built cannot be definitely stated.

The wardenship, like that of many other royal free chapels and hospitals within the gift of the crown, was frequently held with other offices. In June, 1334, Edward III presented his clerk, Martin de Ixnyngge, to the custody of the king's hospital of Dorchester for life, directing the brethren and sisters of the house to be 'intendant' to their new head, (fn. 2) who, in the previous February, had been appointed master of the hospital of Maidstone, Kent. (fn. 3) In 1451 William Man, vicar of Sturminster Marshall, was warden of this hospital. (fn. 4)

As far as its internal management is concerned a royal writ was issued, 18 November, 1359, directing the escheator of the county to make inquiry into the truth of the report that certain lands and rents pertaining to the hospital of St. John of Dorchester 'of our patronage' had been granted away by former custodians to the great waste and destruction of the house, so that various services and almsgiving, established for the souls of the king's progenitors, had ceased and been withdrawn; a jury should be empanelled to ascertain what lands and rents formerly belonged to the house, what had been alienated away, and by whom it had been done. (fn. 5) The return, made the following month, stated that the hospital formerly possessed seventeen messuages in the town of Dorchester which produced a yearly rent of £7 6s. 4d., a water-mill, 96 acres of arable land, and 7 acres of meadow in Fordington, two cottages, 5 acres of land and meadow in Puddletown with appurtenances, and that Richard Creyk, late master, eight years ago alienated one messuage to Richard Tannere, chaplain, for the annual rent of 17s. for the term of his life. Since that time the present warden, Simon de Brantingham, had made further alienations, and had not only conveyed away land but carried off the goods and chattels of the house, including linen (naperia) and bedding. (fn. 6) In the course of these proceedings the said Simon seems to have been either deposed or suspended, for the following year the patent rolls, under date of 6 July, 1360, record that Edward III granted to his beloved clerk, Thomas de Brantingham, the life custody of the hospital of St. John Baptist, Dorchester, vacant and in his gift. (fn. 7)

In March, 1451, Henry VI made a grant of the hospital (vulgarly called 'Sayntjohneshous') with all its emoluments to the provost and college of Eton, his deed reciting that whereas the custody was then in the hands of William Man, vicar of Sturminster Marshall, the present grant should not hold good until by the death or cession of the said incumbent the hospital should next come into the king's hands. (fn. 8) Whether this grant ever took effect it is difficult to say, for though it was confirmed by Edward IV in 1467, (fn. 9) and again in 1473, (fn. 10) the crown continued to appoint as the custody fell vacant, (fn. 11) and in the first year of his reign Richard III bestowed the hospital, 'lately occupied by a priest and of our disposal,' on the Friars Minor of Dorchester. (fn. 12) The Act of Resumption passed on the accession of Henry VII ordained that it should not be prejudicial 'to any graunte or letters patents made by King Edward IV, late king of England, to Maister Richard Hill, now dean of the king's chapell, of and for the free chapell of Seynt John's in Dorchester.' (fn. 13)

The Valor of 1535 gives this house a clear income of £3 4s. Antony Weldon was then 'rector' or incumbent. (fn. 14) By the Chantry Commissioners it was valued at £9 13s. 2d., out of which 42s. 8d. was deducted in 'rents resolute,' leaving a balance of £7 10s. 6d. (fn. 15) The whole amount was received by the last incumbent, Edward Weldon, 'towards his exhibition at the University of Oxford by virtue of king's letters patent dated 4 August 32 Henry VIII' (1540). (fn. 16) On the confiscation of colleges and chantries he was assigned a pension of £6. (fn. 17)

Wardens of Dorchester Hospital (fn. 18)

Martin de Ixnyngge, appointed 1334 (fn. 19)

Robert Creyk, appointed 1351 (fn. 20)

Simon de Brantingham, appointed 1354 (fn. 21)

Thomas de Brantingham, appointed 1360 (fn. 22)

Roger de Stoke, appointed 1370 (fn. 23)

Thomas de Brounflet, appointed 1376 (fn. 24)

Henry Harburgh, 1399 (fn. 25)

William Man, occurs 1451 (fn. 26)

William Brown, appointed 1462, (fn. 27) occurs 1470 (fn. 28)

Oliver Kyng, appointed 1473 (fn. 29)

Richard Hill, appointed 1477, (fn. 30) resigned before 1485 (fn. 31)

Thomas Otteley, 1485 (fn. 32)

John Burton, 1495, (fn. 33) died 1499

John Argentine, 1499 (fn. 34)

Antony Weldon, occurs 1535 (fn. 35)

Edward Weldon, last incumbent (fn. 36)


There appears to have been a hospital built here for the relief of lepers, but no particulars have yet been recovered as to the date when it was founded or the name of the founder. The chantry certificate of Edward VI states that the hospital or 'house of leprosy' at Dorchester had no lands, but consisted of ten poor men who received an annual rent of 40s. for their gowns 'by the hands of Mr. Williams, Esquire.' (fn. 37)


  • 1. Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 28.
  • 2. Ibid. 8 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 14.
  • 3. Ibid. m. 41; see Newcourt, Eccl. Repert. (i, 748), for a list of the preferments at different times of this clerk.
  • 4. Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
  • 5. Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. III (2nd Nos.), 88.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Pat. 34 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 23. This may be an error of the scribe and refer to Simon, or it may be mere coincidence for two wardens to have the same name.
  • 8. Ibid. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
  • 9. Ibid. 7 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 13.
  • 10. Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 10.
  • 11. Edward IV in the first year of his reign, 21 Feb. 1462, appointed William Brown to the custody (ibid. 1 Edw. IV, pt. 5, m. 18). Henry VI on his brief return to power in 1470, without reference to his former grant, ratified the estate of the said William as master or warden of St. John Baptist, Dorchester, as well as master of the house or chapel called 'le priory hermitage' by Dorchester (ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12). Edward IV, after granting the reversion of the house, when it should next come into the king's hand, in frankalmoign to William Westbury, the provost and college of Eton, March, 1473, in November of the same year committed the custody to Master Oliver Kyng, one of the clerks of the Signet (ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 10 and 2), the letters patent for the last being exchanged in November, 1477, in favour of Richard Hill (ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29).
  • 12. Harl. MS. 433, 1603, fol. 131.
  • 13. Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367.
  • 14. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 243.
  • 15. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 2.
  • 16. Ibid. 1484. The clear income was estimated again at £7 15s. 5d.; ibid.
  • 17. B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72.
  • 18. The following list of wardens is taken, with some additional names and corrections, from that supplied by Hutchins from B. Willis, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
  • 19. Pat. 8 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 14.
  • 20. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Pat. 34 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 23.
  • 23. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
  • 24. Pat. 50 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 5.
  • 25. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
  • 26. Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
  • 27. Ibid. 1 Edw. IV, pt. 5, m. 18.
  • 28. Ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12.
  • 29. Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 2.
  • 30. Ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29.
  • 31. Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367.
  • 32. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 243.
  • 36. This last may be the same as the Antony Weldon of 1535. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 84.
  • 37. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 89.