A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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32. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW, BRISTOL
Nothing is known of the foundation of the hospital of St. Bartholomew at Bristol. In 1275 the community consisted of brethren and sisters who had the right of free election of their master. (fn. 1) There is no evidence that any of the brethren beside the master were priests, and it is probable that both they and the sisters had been appointed at the original foundation to minister to the needs of the sick and poor, and were under vows. The endowment was very small. (fn. 2) The master was a secular chaplain; (fn. 3) in 1329 Robert de Merston was presented to Orlton, bishop of Worcester, as master or warden by John de la Warre, who claimed to be the patron, with the unanimous assent of the brothers and sisters. (fn. 4) In 1331 Orlton commended brother John de Merston to the community, to be admitted to the care and guidance of the hospital until he should order otherwise. (fn. 5) However, in the latter half of the fourteenth century and onwards, the de la Warres of Wickwar in Gloucester were recognized as the patrons, (fn. 6) and declared the house to be of their foundation.
In or before 1336 the brethren seem to have disappeared from the community, (fn. 7) and in 1340 a prioress ruled over it. In that year Wulstan de Bransford, bishop of Worcester, allowed the prioress and sisters to let on rent for a term of sixty years a piece of land and the old dorter in which they used to sleep when both brothers and sisters were dwelling in the hospital. (fn. 8) The prioresses maintained their position for over forty years, but when the hospital lacked a ruler in 1386, John de la Warre presented William Badesford to Henry Wakefield bishop of Worcester, (fn. 9) who ordered the archdeacon of Gloucester and the prior of St. James, Bristol, to inquire into the vacancy, and report whether the hospital ought to be ruled by seculars or by regulars, by men or by women, who was the true patron, and what was the yearly value of the endowment. (fn. 10) The claim of John de la Warre to present a secular priest as supreme ruler was then established. (fn. 11) The question of the government was again raised in 1412, when the women again attempted to assert their claim to the supreme rule. By order of Bishop Peverell an inquisition was held to discover whether according to the ordination of the hospital it ought to be ruled by men or by women. (fn. 12) The jurors declared that the hospital ought to be ruled by men who were secular priests, and not by women, and added that it had always been ruled by men. (fn. 13) They were unable to ascertain the value of the endowment propter grauissimam dilapidacionem. Successive masters bore undisputed sway over both brothers and sisters.
In 1445, with the approval of the mayor and commonalty of Bristol, a fraternity of mariners was established in the hospital of St. Bartholomew. (fn. 14) A priest and twelve poor mariners were bound to remember in their daily prayers all 'merchants and mariners passing and labouring on the sea . . . to the port aforesaid.'
In 1531 Lord de la Warre conveyed the hospital and all its property to Robert Thorn to enable him to found a free grammar school at Westbury on Trym. (fn. 15)
Masters of the Hosptial of St. Bartholomew, Bristol
Walter, (fn. 16) 1319
Robert de Merston, 1329 (fn. 19)
John de Merston, 1331 (fn. 20)
Eleanor, occurs 1340 (fn. 21)
Elizabeth Batte, became prioress 1363 (fn. 22)
Joanna Joye, 1368 (fn. 23)
Matilda Coveley, 1369 (fn. 24)
John Prentys, resigned 1412 (fn. 29)
John Arundel, 1412 (fn. 30)
William Attingham, 1463 (fn. 33)
Thomas Mark, resigned 1480 (fn. 34)
John Langrissh, 1480 (fn. 35)
James Butler, 1488 (fn. 36)
Humphrey Saville, 1511 (fn. 37)
George Croft, circa 1524-31 (fn. 38)
33. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LAWRENCE, BRISTOL
The leper hospital of St. Lawrence, Bristol, was founded by King John when earl of Mortain, and in 1208 he gave a charter confirming the foundation. (fn. 39) The right of appointing the master was vested in the crown (fn. 40) until Henry V granted it to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. (fn. 41) It is probable that the hospital was always very poor. In 1390 Richard II issued a commission to six persons to visit the hospital and correct abuses therein. (fn. 42) In the middle of the fifteenth century it had fallen into decay, and in 1465 Edward IV granted the custody to the dean and chapter of Westbury to increase their endowment. (fn. 43) In 1535 the clear yearly value of the possessions of the hospital was £12 8s. 2d. (fn. 44) The dean and chapter paid a salary of £2 to a priest to celebrate mass in the chapel, and gave 16s. to four poor almsfolk. (fn. 45) The hospital was surrendered as part of the possessions of Westbury in 1544. (fn. 46)
Masters or Wardens of the Hospital of St. Lawrence (fn. 47)
Robert de Halwell, occurs 1321 (fn. 48)
Simon, occurs 1337 (fn. 49)
William Coterell, appointed 4 Feb. 1390 (fn. 50)
John Bell, appointed 16 Sept. 1390 (fn. 51)
Robert Bailly, appointed 28 Nov. 1390 (fn. 52)
Richard des Armes, 1393 (fn. 53)
William Ruddock, 1400 (fn. 54)
Walter Chivington, occurs 1438 (fn. 55)
34. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. MARY MAGDALEN, BRISTOL
The leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, Brightbow, is described by William of Worcester (1415-90) as an ancient foundation. (fn. 56)
A seal (fn. 57) of the fifteenth century represents St. Mary Magdalen standing in a canopied niche; in her right hand an ointment box to which she is pointing with the left hand. The background is a diapered lozengy with a reticulated pattern, having a small spot in each space; the edge engrailed; in base an arcade. The legend is:—
S' HOSPETAL . MARIE . MAGDALENE . BRISTOTT ĪQ. BRITBOW