Hospitals: St Mary Magdalen, Witton Gilbert

Page 114

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

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This hospital was founded by Gilbert de la Ley, lord of Witton (c. 1154-80), who granted to the almoner of Durham 60 acres of arable land in Witton field, a rent of 30s., free multure, and common of pasture for the support of five lepers therein. On the death of any inmate the almoner was to appoint another sufferer to fill the vacant place. (fn. 1) This grant was subsequently confirmed by Philip son of Gilbert, and in 1351 by Philip's granddaughter (sic) and her husband. (fn. 2)

There exists an undated list of the names of the brethren and sisters of the house at Witton, with particulars of their allowances. The names are as follows:—John Stele; John Binchester, chaplain; John Marshall; John Short; Jane Partrike; Jane Wharram; Alice Waynfleet, and Margaret Lesshmaker. The brothers had for their corrodies one bushel of wheat every three weeks; 4s., pro namiis suis, at Christmas; and for 'soul silver' 8s. 8d. per annum. Those brethren who lived in the house had two chalders of coal for fuel. The sisters had a similar supply of wheat and coal, and in addition four oxen were divided amongst them, and they each had 200 red herrings. (fn. 3) They also received 1s. for 'egg silver'; and two whole loaves 'at the cove' every week. (fn. 4)

Apparently the hospital was no longer in existence at the time of the dissolution. (fn. 5)


  • 1. Chart. ex Orig. 2b, Spec.
  • 2. Chart. Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 370.
  • 3. Surtees thought there must have been some clerical error here, as it was unlikely that the provision for the women should exceed in quantity that for the men.
  • 4. Surt. Hist. Dur. ii, 370.
  • 5. In Hunter's MSS. No. 37, occurs the following list: 'Fratres et Sorores Hospitalis Sti. Petri juxta Witton, 1532.' The names of 13 men and 12 women are given. Some are described as 'de Maison Dieu,' and some as being in the infirmary. The above dedication is probably a mistake, as there is apparently no mention elsewhere of a hospital of St. Peter.