House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Little Maplestead

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

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'House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Little Maplestead', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2, ed. William Page, J Horace Round( London, 1907), British History Online [accessed 15 July 2024].

'House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Little Maplestead', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. Edited by William Page, J Horace Round( London, 1907), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024,

"House of Knights Hospitallers: Preceptory of Little Maplestead". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. Ed. William Page, J Horace Round(London, 1907), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024.

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The charters under the heading of Maplestead fill about a fifth of the great chartulary (fn. 1) of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, and those relating to other possessions of the Hospitallers and Templars in Essex about the same space. This large proportion was no doubt partly due to the accident of preservation, but it is clear that the grants made to the Hospital in Essex considerably outnumbered those in any other county. Moreover, the chief house of the Hospital at Clerkenwell was itself founded, probably in the first half of the reign of Stephen, by an Essex man, Jordan Briset. (fn. 2)

The town and church of Little Maplestead were granted to the Knights Hospitallers by Juliana the daughter of Robert Dosnel. Her husband, William FitzAudelin, the dapifer of Henry II, confirmed the grant, and he also made another grant to them of the church by a later charter, apparently after the death of Juliana, dated 16 March, 1186. The establishment of the preceptory probably took place somewhere about this date; it may have been any time after the first grant of the town.

Nearly 600 charters are transcribed on the pages (fn. 3) headed Maplestead in the chartulary; and the authority of the preceptory probably extended over the possessions to which these relate. Some of the grants are made specifically to Maplestead and some to the Hospital in general. Several are earlier than the foundation of the preceptory, and one grant (fn. 4) of land in Lambourne is dated as far back as 1148. There is mention (fn. 5) of a seal of the preceptory, though no examples of it are known.

Morant says that to this preceptory belonged a 'farrye clark,' whose business it was to officiate in divine things, and quotes a memorandum from a rental of the manor that 'The vicar of Bornam payeth by yere to the Farrye Clarke 40s. or else the Farrye Clarke may goe to Downmow Priory and take the challys or the masse book or any other ornament for his dewtie.'

A full account of the bajulia of Maplestead is given in the report (fn. 6) of the possessions of the Hospital in England made by Prior Philip de Thame to the Grand Master in 1338. There was a messuage with a garden worth 10s. yearly; 380 acres of land worth £12 13s. 4d. and at Odewell (fn. 7) 180 acres of land worth £6; 16 acres of meadow worth 32s.; 30 acres of pasture worth 30s.; profits of underwood amounting to 8s.; rents amounting to 26½ marks; a dovecote worth 3s. 4d.; perquisites of court and fines worth 20s.; the tenth of the church of Maplestead, worth £6; and lands farmed for 100s. at Bobbelouwe and for 66s. 8d. at Assebrugg. Besides this there was the fraeria or voluntary contribution from the neighbourhood, which amounted to £22. The total receipts for the year thus amounted to £77 16s. 8d.

The expenses amounted to £37 16s. 8d. Of this £7 16s. 0d. was paid for 52 quarters of wheat for baking bread, £5 4s. 0d. for 52 quarters of malt for brewing ale, £7 16s. 0d. for flesh, fish and other necessaries for the kitchen, £3 9s. 4d. for robes, mantles and other necessaries for the preceptor and brother, 20s. for the stipend of a chaplain, 40s. for the stipend of a chaplain celebrating thrice weekly in the chapel of Odewell, 13s. 4d. for the fee of the steward prosecuting the business of the house, 40s. for the stipends of four clerks collecting the fraeria, 26s. 8d. for the stipends of a bailiff, a cook, a baker and a porter, 5s. for the stipend of a palfreyman, 3s. for a page for the stable, 40s. on the visitation of the prior for two days, 40s. on gifts to the sheriff, his clerks and others, 20s. on the repair of the houses, 3s. for rent paid for lands in Maplestead and 5s. 2d. for lands in Odewell, 6s. 8d. for suits of two courts, and 8s. 6d. to the archdeacon for procuration. Thus £40 remained to be paid into the treasury. John de Haulee, esquire, was preceptor and Edmund de Roos, esquire, brother.

In 1463 the 'hospital of St. John of Little Mapulstede' was farmed by John Syday; (fn. 8) which probably means that no more Hospitallers resided there.

In the Valor of 1535 the possessions of the Hospitallers in Essex, including those which had previously belonged to the Templars, were valued at £432 2s. 1¼d. yearly. The Hospital was dissolved in 1540. The manor of Little Maplestead was granted (fn. 9) in fee to George Harper on 18 April, 1542, in an exchange; and two days later he had licence (fn. 10) to alienate it to John Wyseman and Agnes his wife.

Preceptors of Maplestead (fn. 11)

Hugh de Fancote. (fn. 12)

Benedict de Hecham. (fn. 13)

Robert de Leycestre. (fn. 14)

Luke de Marisco, (fn. 15) occurs 1242. (fn. 16)

William de Nutstede, (fn. 17) occurs circa 1260.

Thomas de Lydegard. (fn. 18)

Roger Maulonell. (fn. 19)

William de Chelesham, (fn. 20) in 1275 and 1277.

Roger de Leycestre, (fn. 21) in 1281.

Richard de Wlfhale, (fn. 22) in 1283 and 1284.

Thomas de Otteford, (fn. 23) in 1289.

Alexander de Mitham (fn. 24) or Meccham, in 1291.

Adam de Hacham, (fn. 25) in 1304.

John de Attecoumbe (fn. 26) or Accumbe, in 1314.

John de Haulee, (fn. 27) in 1338.

John Whiltebery, (fn. 28) in 1365.


  • 1. B. M. Cott. MS. Nero, E. vi.
  • 2. See articles by Mr. J. H. Round in Arch. lvi, 223, and Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. viii, 182.
  • 3. Chartul. ff. 305-401. The grants are principally in Maplestead, Halstead, Bumpstead, Hedingham and Colchester, but also in a number of other parishes. They throw little light on the general history of the preceptory.
  • 4. Chartul. f. 323.
  • 5. Ibid. f. 355.
  • 6. Printed in The Hospitallers in England (Camden Soc.), 87.
  • 7. In Gestingthorp.
  • 8. De Banco, Mich. 3 Edw. IV, 362.
  • 9. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 283 (48).
  • 10. Ibid. (53).
  • 11. The head of the preceptory was called either master or preceptor, and occasionally warden; the tide of master being apparently earlier than that of preceptor.
  • 12. Chartul. f. 352.
  • 13. Ibid. 355.
  • 14. Ibid. 346, 360.
  • 15. Ibid. 353.
  • 16. Cal. Feet. of F. (Essex Arch. Soc.), 142.
  • 17. Chartul. 371. In the time of Robert de Maneby, prior of the Hospital.
  • 18. Chartul. f. 326.
  • 19. Ibid. 305.
  • 20. Ibid. 310, 313, 318, 327, 370, 394.
  • 21. Ibid. 315.
  • 22. Ibid. 311, 312, 316.
  • 23. Ibid. 394.
  • 24. Ibid. 354, 391.
  • 25. Ibid. 327.
  • 26. Ibid. 319, 390.
  • 27. See above.
  • 28. Ibid. 320.