Hospitals: St John Baptist, Shaftesbury

Pages 103-104

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

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When and by whom this hospital was founded history does not say. The earliest notice of it occurs 5 January, 1223, when the king issued an order to John Lancelive, bailiff of Brian de Insula of the forest of Dorset, directing him to allow the prior of the hospital of St. John of Shaftesbury three trees (fusta) of the windfall wood of the king's park of Gillingham for the repair of his house. (fn. 2) The foundation, therefore, cannot be dated later than the beginning of the thirteenth century. The chantry commissioners in the sixteenth century reported that it was ordained for the relief of five poor men who then lived by the alms of the town, the whole of the profits being received by the priest who officiated there. (fn. 3)

The house, or priory as it is occasionally termed, was in the patronage of the abbess of Shaftesbury and the diocesan registers give a succession of presentations by the nuns down to the Dissolution, beginning with William de Eggeclyve, priest, presented to the wardenship by the abbess and convent 11 November, 1305. (fn. 4) In April, 1541, Robert Fowke, the last warden or master, was presented by Edmund Wynter, knt., David Brokwey, gent., and Nicholas Tyddour, patrons pro hac vice by reason of the grant of letters of advowson made to them by the last abbess and convent of Shaftesbury. (fn. 5) For some reason not very apparent the patronage of the house came temporarily into the hands of the king in 1381, and in September of that year Richard II presented John Ridgway, chaplain, to the life custody of the hospital of St. John on the Mount at Shaftesbury, his appointment being shortly afterwards followed by that of John Bridport. (fn. 6)

Beyond the names of the different wardens the history of St. John's is almost a blank. The master in 1348 probably fell a victim to the terrible plague that ravaged Dorset in the autumn and winter of that year, for in the heavy list of presentations for December occurs that of John de Meleborn to St. John's, Shaftesbury, on the death of William de Godeford, late warden. (fn. 7) William Russel, called the prior of the hospital, was visited along with other rectors and vicars of the deanery by the diocesan in the church of Holy Trinity, Shaftesbury, in April, 1344. (fn. 8)

In an inquisition made in 1499 the hospital was said to be founded by the king's ancestors. The property, consisting of five tenements, 4 acres of arable, 10½ acres of pasture, and half an acre of meadow, was valued at £6. The support of the poor and the celebration of the divine services weekly and yearly had been neglected for the last twenty years, and had completely ceased in the last two years, during which David Knolle, chaplain, had taken the profits and also removed the ornaments of the hospital. (fn. 9)

On the confiscation of chantries this hospital was valued at £4, with one bell worth 3s. 4d. (fn. 10) It was granted by Edward VI with lands belonging to it in Shaftesbury, Motcombe, and Gillingham, to Kendal, Burgh, and others for the sum of £136 11s. 4d. (fn. 11) The last incumbent, John Hame, received a pension of £3 15s. 4d. (fn. 12)

Wardens or Priors of Shaftesbury Hospital

William de Eggeclyve, appointed 1305 (fn. 13)

William de Godeford, died 1348 (fn. 14)

John de Meleborn, appointed 1348 (fn. 15)

John Lord, appointed 1361, (fn. 16) died 1381

John Ridgway, appointed 1381 (fn. 17)

John Bridport, appointed 1381 (fn. 18)

William Russel, appointed 1381, (fn. 19) died 1423

James Grevey, appointed 1423 (fn. 20)

John Wynnyngham, died 1470 (fn. 21)

John Tyrell, appointed 1470 (fn. 22)

William Ketilton, resigned 1492 (fn. 23)

George Twynho, appointed 1492, (fn. 24) resigned 1496

David Knollys or Knolle, appointed 1496 (fn. 25)

William Wylton, died 1525 (fn. 26)

William Parkows, appointed 1525 (fn. 27)

William Percuste, died 1541 (fn. 28)

Robert Fowke, appointed 1541 (fn. 29)

John Hame, last incumbent. (fn. 30)


  • 1. Hutchins describes this hospital as situated in the parish of St. Martin and near the church at the meeting of Hert Crope and Shetwell lanes; Hist. of Dorset, iii, 38.
  • 2. Close, 7 Hen. III, m. 22.
  • 3. Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 100.
  • 4. Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, ii, fol. 45.
  • 5. Ibid. Salcot or Capon, fol. 7d.
  • 6. Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 12, 19. These two exceptions, as against some twenty appointments by the nuns, seem to have led Tanner into the error of supposing that the house was of royal patronage. There is no ostensible reason for the king's action, the abbey then being 'full' and under the rule of Abbess Joan Formage.
  • 7. Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 193.
  • 8. Ibid. Waltham, fol. 73.
  • 9. a Esch. Inq. file 896, No. 21.
  • 10. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 15.
  • 11. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, iii, 39.
  • 12. B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72.
  • 13. Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, pt. 2, fol. 45.
  • 14. Ibid. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 193.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Ibid. (Inst.), fol. 278.
  • 17. The registers take no note of this and the following appointment by the crown (Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 19), and state that William Russel was appointed on the death of John Lord. Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, i, fol. 44d.
  • 18. Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 12.
  • 19. Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, i, fol. 44d.
  • 20. Ibid. Chandler, fol. 61.
  • 21. Ibid. Beauchamp, fol. 150.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Ibid. Langton, fol. 40d.
  • 24. Ibid.
  • 25. Ibid. Blyth, fol. 26d.
  • 26. Ibid. Campegio, fol. 3d.
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. Ibid. Salcot or Capon, fol. 7d.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. a B. Willis, op. cit. ii, 72.