Hospitals: St John Baptist & St John Evangelist, Sherborne

Pages 104-105

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

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A hospital here of comparatively late foundation 'was begun,' according to Leland, 'by devotion of the good people of Sherborne in the fourth year of Henry VI, and the king is taken for founder of it.' (fn. 1) On 11 July, 1437, eleven years after the date given of its inception, Henry VI granted a licence to Robert Neville, bishop of Salisbury, Humphrey Stafford, knt., Margaret Gogh, John Fauntleroy, and John Baret, to incorporate and establish a certain house of perpetual charity in Sherborne to the honour of God and St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist for the reception of twenty brethren, twelve 'poor sick and impotent' men and four women, with a chaplain who should pray for the good estate of the king and of the brethren of the house and their benefactors while they lived, and for their souls and those of all the faithful departed 'when they shall have withdrawn from this light.' The brethren were yearly, or whenever it should be convenient, to elect a master from among themselves, and were empowered to fill up any vacancy that should occur in their number, and to remove or expel the master from his office or any of the poor men or women from the house; all the inmates should live under the rule and government ordained by the said bishop, Sir Humphrey Stafford, Margaret Gogh, John Fauntleroy, John Baret, or any four, three, or two of them. The master and brethren were declared capable of holding lands in the name of the society, and of pleading and being impleaded in the law courts of the land, they should use one common seal, and might hold lands and rents in socage or in burgage to the annual value of 40 marks for the benefit of the poor men and women in the hospital, while the perpetual chaplain and his successors might acquire and hold the same to the value of 10 marks, notwithstanding mortmain and all previous statutes to the contrary. (fn. 2)

Henry VI in October, 1448, made a further grant to the brethren of the house that for a fine of £10 they might acquire lands and tenements to the annual value of £33 6s. 8d., (fn. 3) and by a later deed reciting his former grant he licensed William Combe, John Downton of Folke, and William Couland to give and assign to William Smyth, then master of the hospital, thirty-nine messuages, two tofts, one dovecot, 39½ acres of land, 19 acres and one rood of meadow and 1 acre of grove situated in Sherborne, Beer Hackett, and Caundle, of the yearly value of £5 3s. 4d., to be held in part satisfaction of the £33 6s. 8d. (fn. 4) Bishop Richard Beauchamp of Salisbury is mentioned as a great benefactor to the house, (fn. 5) which, indeed, was situated within his 'vill' of Sherborne, but he can hardly have been the founder as one report states; (fn. 6) his predecessor Aiscough, according to an entry in his official register, dedicated an altar in the chapel of the hospital in 1442, five years after its incorporation by royal charter. (fn. 7)

On the confiscation of colleges and chantries under Edward VI the house entered as 'the hospital or house of leprosy of St. John the Evangelist in Sherborne' was found worth £35 8s. 6d., out of which £4 3s. 6d. was deducted in rents resolute, leaving a clear income of £31 5s. which the officiating priest received half-yearly, £5 6s. 8d., the residue, being applied 'to the finding of eleven poor and impotent men and four poor women according to the foundation thereof.' (fn. 8) The name of the last incumbent is not given, nor is he entered among those who received pensions. (fn. 9)

Masters of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, Sherborne

John Deen, occurs 1448 (fn. 10)

William Smyth, occurs 1454 (fn. 11)

Henry Borman, occurs 1468 (fn. 12)


  • 1. Itin. ii, 49. 'It yet standeth,' adds Leland, but most of its property had been dispersed; ibid. iii, 110.
  • 2. Pat. 15 Hen. VI, m. 5.
  • 3. Ibid. 27 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 30.
  • 4. Ibid. 32 Hen. VI, m. 15.
  • 5. Hutchins, op. cit. iv, 294.
  • 6. Magna Brit. Antiq. et Nov. i, 567.
  • 7. Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough, fol. 97 d.
  • 8. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 91.
  • 9. B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 71–2.
  • 10. Pat. 27 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 30.
  • 11. Ibid. 32 Hen. VI, m. 15.
  • 12. On 25 Nov., 1468, Edward IV licensed Henry Borman, the master and the brethren of the almshouse of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist to acquire lands and other possessions held in socage or burgage to the yearly value of £13; ibid. 8 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 4.