Hospitals: Ilford

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

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'Hospitals: Ilford', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2, (London, 1907) pp. 186-188. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

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It appears from a list (fn. 1) of the abbesses of Barking preserved in the Ashmolean Library that the hospital of St. Mary, Ilford, was founded by Adeliza the sister of Payn Fitz John, who was made abbess by King Stephen. Lysons, quoting from Mr. Lethieullier's manuscript history of Barking, says (fn. 2) that Stephen confirmed the foundation, and that Abbess Maud also confirmed it under the condition that the prior and brethren should maintain a priest and pay him 10s. yearly to celebrate divine service in the chapel of the hospital and to say mass for her after her death. In 1219, disputes having arisen as to the endowment, it was agreed that the brethren of the hospital should receive 40s. yearly from the vicar of Barking; that on the death of a prior they should elect three of their body, one of whom the abbess should nominate; that he might be either a layman or an ecclesiastic; that the lepers should be chosen out of houses belonging to the abbey, if such could be found, and that they should swear obedience to the abbess; and that the hospital should nominate a priest for the daily service of the chapel and the abbess another to say mass for the deceased. The possessions of the hospital were also increased.

The warden of the lepers was defendant in a suit of 1226. (fn. 3)

Land in Ilford was acquired in 1235 (fn. 4) and 1385. (fn. 5) The king on 20 November, 1340, granted remission of taxation to the warden and brethren, as in times past, on account of their slender endowment. (fn. 6)

Bishop Ralph Stratford, in consequence of what he had found at a visitation, drew up new statutes (fn. 7) for the hospital on 4 December, 1346, with the assent of the abbess and convent and of the master and brethren. The proper number of thirteen leprous brethren was to be kept up as far as the goods of the hospital would suffice; and for this effect a leper was to be introduced at each vacancy by the death or cession of a non-leprous brother or corrodary until the number should be complete. The leper was to be chosen from Barking if possible, or if not then from any place of the domain of the abbess and convent if possible and then from anywhere else, and this rule was to be followed at all vacancies. The old mode of admission—that the lepers were to be chosen alternately by the abbess and by the master and brethren at her will—was not altered. The brethren were to take an oath not to grant any pension or corrody and not to alienate any of the immovable goods of the hospital. Restrictions were placed on the admission of married men. The lepers were not to omit to go to their church, and their devotions were prescribed. The provision made for two priests and a clerk in the hospital, as contained in an indenture between Abbess Mabel and the brethren by authority of Bishop William and in other instruments, was confirmed; and lest the lepers should have excuse to wander, their chaplain was given full power of absolution and of administration of the sacrament of the eucharist and of extreme unction. The lepers were to have free burial by themselves. So far as their infirmity permitted they were to sleep and eat in common, apart from the chaplains and clerk. No woman was to enter the hospital except the abbess and the nuns with her, the kinswomen of the brethren and chaplains in cases of sickness, and the laundress for her duties. The lepers were not to go out of the hospital without leave of the master, called the prior, or the other master. There was to be a weekly chapter of the leprous master and his brethren. As in the above indenture it was provided that the abbess should appoint a clerk or layman for the business as master, the bishop decreed that she should appoint a secular master and that he and the leprous master should on appointment take oath of good management. An oath was also to be taken by each leper at his admission.

Edward III granted (fn. 8) a corrody in the hospital on 23 April, 1345, as his father had done before; but when in 1374 he sent one Thomas de Illeford to receive the corrody which Simon Sirebeux used to have, the master refused to admit him and the abbess denied the king's right. (fn. 9)

The bishop's statutes seem to have been disregarded, for it was found by inquisition (fn. 10) on Monday after St. Edmund, 1397, that, although there used to be maintained in the hospital a prior and twelve lepers or other poor and feeble persons and two chaplains, the abbess took all the issues and profits belonging to it, so that only one chaplain and one poor man were then maintained there, nor had there been more for a long time. Probably this inquisition was taken in connexion with a claim of the crown to the patronage of the hospital. Edward III on 2 June, 1358, had granted (fn. 11) the wardenship to William de Wode for life as being in his gift by reason of the late voidance of the abbey; but the grant was revoked on 4 July because the collation did not belong to him. Richard II on 4 June, 1389, granted (fn. 12) the wardenship for life to Henry Assheburn, and ordered the sheriff to put him in possession. The sheriff returned that he went there on Friday in Whitsun week to do so and found there the prioress of Barking and men with her, who said that the hospital was not vacant, but one John had been prior for six years of the collation of the abbess, and they showed the prior and said that the hospital was of the foundation of the abbey and the abbess had the removal of the priors, and they refused to induct Henry, so nothing was done. In spite of the inquisition the abbess managed to hold her own, and the king on 5 August, 1398, ratified (fn. 13) her estate in the advowson of the hospital, founded by her predecessors, the priors, masters, or wardens of which she and they had appointed and removed, and to which she had appointed one Stephen as prior. Henry IV confirmed (fn. 14) this on 14 December, 1400. Nevertheless, on 12 November, 1405, he made a grant (fn. 15) of the wardenship to John Tilbery.

Robert Bekyngham was pardoned (fn. 16) on 24 November, 1401, for having on Saturday, the feast of St. Ethelburga, 1399, broken the church of the hospital and stolen a missal, a chalice, two breviaries, an altar-cloth, and vestments from the custody of Sir John, the chaplain.

In 1504 the hospital was possessed of the tithes of Eastbury, Westbury, and Loxford, a portion of the tithes of Warley, a portion of the tithes of Jenkins, Clayberry, Wyfields and some other estates in Barking, and lands and rents principally in this parish. (fn. 17) Its net value is given in the Valor as £16 13s. 4d. yearly. In the certificates of colleges and chantries it is described (fn. 18) as 'The hospitall ther foundid to find 13 pore men beyng lepars, 2 pryests and one clerke, wherof ther is at this daye but on priest and 2 pore men. The said hospitall is distant from the paroche churche a myle and more, and is worthe by yere £23 4s. 11d. besides 9 acres wode cauled Spetell Helle wherof for rents resolute 18s. 8½d., for the fyndyng of 2 pore men £4 11s. 4d., for the tenth 33s. 4d. and so rem' clere £16 1s. 6½d.'

Ilford appears not to have fallen at the dissolution. By an indenture (fn. 19) dated 23 April, 1572, Queen Elizabeth granted the patronage of the hospital and all her rights as patron to Thomas Fanshawe, remembrancer in the Exchequer, and his heirs and assigns, and he agreed to find a suitable master or warden, who was to keep the chapel and buildings in repair and provide four separate mansions within the precincts for the habitation of four poor persons in addition to the two already there, and to maintain the six mansions and six poor persons in them, paying to each 45s. yearly as the present two had. By another indenture (fn. 20) dated 29 October he agreed that the master should celebrate divine service in the chapel on Sundays, feasts and other accustomed days, or maintain a competent person to do so. He granted (fn. 21) the mastership to Godfrey Fanshawe for life on 6 June, 1578, and to William Fisher for life on 22 May, 1588. A suit (fn. 22) by the latter for the recovery of tithes belonging to the hospital in Eastbury and North Grange in Barking is recorded.

At the time of the civil wars Sir Thomas Fanshawe, the patron, and Richard Fanshawe, the master of the hospital, were strong royalists, and the tithes of the hospital were consequently sequestrated under the Commonwealth. Richard Wilcox was appointed master, and in 1651-2-3 made applications for a discharge of the sequestration. (fn. 23) In 1653, however, John Reading, counsellor to the Commissioners for Sequestrations, obtained a presentation to the mastership and contested the matter with Wilcox. Reading was successful, and obtained a discharge on 8 September, 1654. (fn. 24) Six years' tithes from Claybury, amounting to £40, were in arrear in 1652, (fn. 25) and it is likely that the hospital suffered considerably from the confusion of the wars. The tithes were let at £90 yearly, but in 1654 an offer of £120 yearly was made for them. (fn. 26) The Committee for Plundered Ministers made an order on 23 April, 1651, that £50 yearly from the tithes should be paid to a minister at Ilford, but this would seem not to have been carried out, for an order for the payment was made in 1653. (fn. 27) In 1655 the inhabitants of Great Ilford complained that they had erected a chapel for the minister, but John Reading had seized the maintenance to his own use by the discharge of the sequestration. (fn. 28) After the restora tion the Fanshawes appear to have recovered possession.

Ilford is included in a list of hospitals which were to be visited by a commission (fn. 29) appointed in January, 1691, for the correction of abuses.

It was determined by a decree of the Court of Exchequer in 1711 (fn. 30) that there were 1,200 acres of land in Barking which should pay tithe to the hospital, and that there was a quit rent of £1 13s. 4d. due to it out of Claybury, £2 yearly out of Barking mills and £2 out of the vicarage.

A report on the state of the hospital was made by the commissioners appointed to inquire into charities in 1840. (fn. 31) Viscount Fanshawe, of Dromore in Ireland, heir of the said Thomas Fanshawe and seised in fee of the patronage of the hospital, by an indenture of mortgage dated 20 March, 1668, granted to Thomas Allen the hospital and its possessions, including the site, parcels of land amounting to ninety-six acres and tithes of 1,330 acres of arable, meadow and pasture ground and 320 acres of marsh and mead in Barking, East Ham and Great and Little Ilford, and its patronage for a term of one thousand years at a peppercorn rent. The interest in the hospital and its estates passed through several hands to Sir Crisp Gascoyne, who foreclosed the mortgage, and is said to have separated by will a part of the tithes from the rest of the hospital property. The remainder devolved on his grandson Bamber Gascoyne, from whom they passed to his daughter and heiress and through her by marriage to the marquess of Salisbury.

The almspeople, who were appointed by the marquess of Salisbury, received £2 11s. 0d. each yearly, and the sacramental money collected in the chapel was divided between them. The chaplain was paid a salary of £14 yearly, and was permitted to let two rooms in the wings, not occupied by the almspeople, for his own benefit, and to receive the pew rents of the chapel, the former producing £3 yearly and the latter £30 yearly. The marquess, besides making these payments, kept the chapel and hospital buildings in repair.

The hospital exists thus to the present day, each of the six almshouses accommodating an aged couple, though on the death of one of these the survivor is generally allowed to remain for life.

Priors, Masters or Wardens of Ilford

Eudo, occurs 1235. (fn. 32)

Adam, occurs 1334. (fn. 33)

William de Wode. (fn. 34)

Robert, occurs 1374. (fn. 35)

John, appointed 1383. (fn. 36)

Henry Assheburn. (fn. 36)

John Ikelyngton, appointed 1394. (fn. 37)

Stephen, occurs 1398. (fn. 38)

John Tilbery. (fn. 36)

John Smyth, died 1475. (fn. 39)

Godfrey Fanshawe, appointed 1578.

William Fisher, appointed 1588. (fn. 40)

Richard Fanshawe, (fn. 36) deprived 1651.(?)

Richard Wilcox, (fn. 36) appointed 1651.(?)

John Reading, (fn. 36) appointed 1653.


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. i, 441.
  • 2. Environs of London, i, 636.
  • 3. Bracton's Note Book, iii, 539.
  • 4. Cal. Feet of F. (Essex Arch. Soc.), 102.
  • 5. Pat. 8 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 30.
  • 6. Close, 14 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 14.
  • 7. Printed in Dugdale, Mon. vii, 629.
  • 8. Close, 19 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 16d.
  • 9. Plac. in Canc. 157.
  • 10. Inq. p.m. 21 Ric. II, No. 61.
  • 11. Pat. 32 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 10, 1.
  • 12. Ibid. 12 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 5.
  • 13. Ibid. 22 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 16.
  • 14. Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 1, m. 8.
  • 15. Ibid. 7 Hen. IV, pt. 1, m. 32.
  • 16. Ibid. 3 Hen. IV, pt. 1, m. 19.
  • 17. Reg. Lond. Lib. Vic. Gen. v, 239.
  • 18. Chant. Cert. xx, 46.
  • 19. Close, 14 Eliz. pt. 4.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Newcourt, ii, 347.
  • 22. Chan. Proc. Eliz. 1, 6, 41.
  • 23. S. P. Cal. of Com. for Compounding, iii, 1864.
  • 24. Ibid. 1865.
  • 25. Ibid. v, 3287.
  • 26. Ibid. 3288.
  • 27. Ibid. iii, 1864.
  • 28. Ibid. i, 724.
  • 29. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1690–1691, 240.
  • 30. Exch. Dec. Hil. 10 Anne, 352.
  • 31. Char. Commrs. Rep. xxxii, pt. 6, p. 874.
  • 32. Cal. Feet of F. (Essex Arch. Soc.), 102.
  • 33. Pat. 8 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 38.
  • 34. See above.
  • 35. Plac. in. Cane. 157.
  • 36. See above.
  • 37. Pat. 17 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 8.
  • 38. Ibid. 22 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 16.
  • 39. Tomb in the chapel.
  • 40. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii, 347.