Hospitals: Gloucester

Pages 119-122

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

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According to a statement made by a jury of Gloucester in 1357, (fn. 58) a chaplain, by name Nicholas Walred, began, in the reign of Henry II, to build the west bridge over the Severn, and employed many workmen. William Myparty, a burgess of Gloucester, associated himself with the work and built a dwelling on a piece of ground which he held of the king in chief. Sick men and women found shelter there, besides the priest, the burgess, and the workmen. The community which there grew up had a continuous existence, and under the rule of a priest who wore the dress of a hermit, served the double purpose of maintaining the bridge and caring for the sick. (fn. 59) From the beginning of the thirteenth century there are records of grants of lands and rents by the burgesses of Gloucester. (fn. 60) The right of having a chantry chapel in the hospital was not secured until 1232, when William of Blois, bishop of Worcester, persuaded the abbot and convent of Gloucester, in whose parish the hospital lay, to give their consent, provided that the rights of the mother church were maintained. (fn. 61)

In 1229 Henry III gave the church of St. Nicholas to the prior, brethren, and sisters of the hospital of St. Bartholomew of Gloucester for the support of the poor, (fn. 62) and it was appropriated to their needs. (fn. 63) In virtue of that gift, the hospital was afterwards said to be of royal foundation. Soon afterwards the brethren and sisters obtained a licence to elect their prior. (fn. 64) The community seems to have consisted of several priests of the order of St. Augustine, (fn. 65) and a number of lay brothers and sisters to minister to the sick and poor. (fn. 66) It was subject to the visitation of the bishop of Worcester. (fn. 67)

Little is known of the history of the hospital except that it suffered greatly from poverty and maladministration under the rule of Nicholas de Hardwick and Walter Gibbes (1329-85). In 1333 Thomas Charlton, bishop of Hereford, appropriated the church of Newnham, of which the advowson was given by William de Bohun, earl of Northampton, (fn. 68) to the use of the prior and brethren. (fn. 69) There were then ninety sick in the hospital, among them the lame, the halt, and the blind, both men and women. (fn. 70) In 1344 Edward III appointed a commission to make a visitation of the hospital, which was reported to be greatly decayed. (fn. 71) Similar commissions were appointed in 1345 (fn. 72) and in 1347, (fn. 73) and the report of the jurors summoned by the sheriff in 1357 (fn. 74) has furnished the history of the first foundation of the hospital. Nicholas de Hardwick resigned in 1356; (fn. 75) he had granted several corrodies for life, and had thus so burdened the hospital that its resources no longer sufficed for the maintenance of the services, almsgiving, and other good works, and for the provision of food and clothing for the brothers and sisters. (fn. 76) Sums of money, jewels, corn, silver and brass vessels, beds, and household utensils given by men of Gloucester and elsewhere to the value of £100, which were under the charge of the prior and two of his brethren, had been dissipated and destroyed. After receiving this report, on 8 May, 1359, Edward III appointed five commissioners to effect a thorough reform, and directed all the inmates of the hospital to obey them. (fn. 77) An almost exactly similar account of the misdeeds of the prior and his predecessor reached Richard II in 1381. (fn. 78) It was again stated that the brethren and sisters lacked food and clothing, and a commission appointed on 20 July (fn. 79) sent in a more detailed report before 26 October. Contrary to the ordinance of the foundation, the poor had been charged for admittance, and five cases were mentioned in which bed-money had been received. (fn. 80) Lands given for the benefit of the poor had been diverted to other uses, and a great building in the hospital set apart for the benefit of the poor had been unroofed, and the timbers and tiles taken for other purposes. There were further charges of dissolute living. Another commission was appointed on 26 October, 1381, (fn. 81) and a third on 12 March, 1382, (fn. 82) and in 1384 a fourth commission was bidden to make ordinance for the reformation of the hospital. (fn. 83) It is possible that there was some exaggeration in the charges, for the prior, Walter Gibbes, was not deposed, and on his death in 1385 one of the priests of the hospital, John Bulmyll, mentioned by name as an evildoer in one of the reports, was admitted by Bishop Wakefield as his successor, with the king's consent. (fn. 84)

On account of its poverty the hospital was exempted from taxation in 1401. In 1407 Henry IV confirmed the possessions of the hospital, and took the collectors of alms together with the hospital and its goods under his protection. (fn. 85) He granted that upon each vacancy the chaplains might elect a prior without obtaining a royal licence, the electors being only constrained to certify their choice to the bishop for his confirmation. (fn. 86)

In or before 1413 the prior and brethren sent a petition to John XXIII. (fn. 87) Although the chapel of Little Dean was dependent on the parish church of Newnham, which had been appropriated to the hospital for over sixty years, the inhabitants had had the chapel consecrated apparently as an independent church, without the licence of the ordinary or of the prior and brethren, and now withdrew the tithes which were due to the mother church of Newnham for the maintenance of their chaplain. The pope sent a mandate that the hospital should recover its rights.

In 1423 the hospital was so seriously embarrassed that Henry VI committed the custody to a commission consisting of the bishop of Worcester and five other persons. (fn. 88)

In 1451 an indulgence of forty days for the benefit of the poor was granted by Boulers, bishop of Hereford. (fn. 89) A similar indulgence was granted by Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, in 1450, (fn. 90) and in 1455 (fn. 91) and 1462 (fn. 92) he issued indulgences in aid of the repair of the bridge, which was doubtless at times a heavy charge on the revenues of the hospital.

In 1534 the prior and three chaplains acknowledged the royal supremacy. (fn. 93) In 1535 the gross revenues amounted to £85 7s. 1d.; of this sum £20 was derived from the rectories of St. Nicholas, Gloucester, and of Newnham, the remainder from tenements and lands in or near the city. (fn. 94) Only £30 0s. 3d. was expended on the maintenance of thirty-two almsfolk; the master and five chaplains drew nearly £50 in salaries. (fn. 95) Another survey of the hospital was made under the Chantries Act of 1547, (fn. 96) and it was not confiscated by the crown. In 1564 Queen Elizabeth granted the hospital to the mayor and corporation of Gloucester for the support of a priest, a physician or surgeon, and forty poor persons. (fn. 97) It has had a continuous existence to the present day. (fn. 98)

Priors of St. Bartholomew, Gloucester

Adam, occurs circa 1230 and in 1245 (fn. 99)

Walter, occurs 1248 (fn. 100)

John, occurs 1253 (fn. 101)

Walter, circa 1260 (fn. 102)

John, circa 1270 (fn. 103)

Adam of Garne, circa 1280 (fn. 104)

John le Pessover, 1286 (fn. 105)

John (fn. 106) or William (fn. 107) de Abbenhall, 1295

John de Okes, 1301 (fn. 108)

John de Bicknor, 1326 (fn. 109)

Nicholas de Hardwick, 1329, (fn. 110) resigned 1356 (fn. 111)

Walter Gibbes, 1356 (fn. 112)

John Bullmyll, 1385 (fn. 113)

John Gloucester, 1404 (fn. 114)

Thomas Carpenter, occurs 1413 and 1418 (fn. 115)

William Wrecester, resigned 1425 (fn. 116)

Stephen Myle, 1425 (fn. 117)

William Sobbury alias Holway, 1460 (fn. 118)

Richard Heyward, ob. 1476 (fn. 119)

John Hasfield, elected 1476, (fn. 120) ob. 1487 (fn. 121)

Richard Baker, 1487 (fn. 122)

Thom Apowell, resigned 1510 (fn. 123)

Andrew Whitmay, 1510, (fn. 124) occurs 1534 (fn. 125)

A seal of the thirteenth century represents the martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, the saint standing between two executioners, one on the right with a large knife, the one on the left flaying him; in base under a trefoiled arch the prior kneeling in prayer to the right. (fn. 126)


The hospital of St. Margaret and St. Sepulchre at Gloucester was probably founded about 1150, (fn. 1) and at the beginning of the thirteenth century the master, brethren, and sisters found kindly benefactors among the citizens of Gloucester. (fn. 2) The brethren and sisters were lepers, and until after the beginning of the fourteenth century the master was probably the chaplain who served the chantry. It lay within the parish of St. Peter's Abbey, (fn. 3) and the abbot presented to the chantry. (fn. 4)

In 1309, on the appeal of the brothers, Benedict of Paston, the official of Bishop Reynolds, came on a visitation on 27 April. (fn. 5) The master, who had been deputed to fill the office by a former official, was then broken down by age and illhealth. He resigned, and a chaplain named William Pouke was appointed by Benedict of Paston, and entrusted with the custody of the spiritualities and temporalities of the house. The brethren and sisters were bidden to observe the injunctions of the bishop, especially that no brother or sister should be admitted by command or request of any lay knight or burgess, except with the assent of the bishop or his official.

In the middle of the fourteenth century the burgesses of Gloucester had secured control over the hospital. The commonalty elected one of the burgesses to act as master or supervisor, (fn. 6) and the management of the property of the hospital was under his charge. He was appointed perhaps for a year or a term of years, and his consent was necessary for the granting of leases. (fn. 7) A prior, who was perhaps the chaplain, bore rule over the brethren and sisters. Probably he too was appointed by the commonalty of Gloucester, for no collations are recorded in the registers of the bishops of Worcester. In 1518 the mayor, master of the hospital, and burgesses accepted William Ergan and Emmota his wife as a brother and sister, and granted the office of prior and governor to William Ergan, so at that date the prior was no longer of necessity the chaplain. (fn. 8) The inmates were then apparently almsfolk, for leprosy had greatly declined. In or about 1545 Henry VIII confirmed the custody of the hospital to the mayor and corporation. (fn. 9) The hospital has had a continuous existence until the present day. (fn. 10)


The leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, Gloucester, was founded for women, probably soon after the middle of the twelfth century. (fn. 11)

It has had a continuous existence as a home for the sick poor. In 1599 Queen Elizabeth granted it to the mayor and corporation of Gloucester. (fn. 12) In 1617, on information that for want of good governance the revenues had been much wasted, James I ordained that the government should be in the masters and governors, that they should be a body corporate with a common seal, and should have and enjoy the possessions of the hospital for the benefit of the inmates, and in addition a pension of £13 from the king, to be called 'King James's Pension,' as was formerly paid by the kings of England. (fn. 13) He willed that the hospital should thenceforth be called the hospital of King James. However, it still bears the former name of St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 14)


  • 58. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 689.
  • 59. Ibid.
  • 60. Stevenson, Calendar of Records of Corporation of Gloucester, passim.
  • 61. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i, 245.
  • 62. Cart. R. 13 Hen. III, pt. i, m. 5.
  • 63. Cal. Papal Letters, vi, 395. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 488.
  • 64. Dugdale, op. cit. vii, 689.
  • 65. Cal. Papal Letters, vi, 395.
  • 66. Cart. R. 13 Hen. III, m. 5.
  • 67. Worc. Epis. Reg. passim.
  • 68. Cal. of Pat. 17 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 7.
  • 69. Heref. Epis. Reg. Thomas Charlton, fol. 34.
  • 70. Ibid.
  • 71. Cal. of Pat. 18 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 6d.
  • 72. Ibid. 19 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 9 d.
  • 73. Ibid. 21 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 8d.
  • 74. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 689.
  • 75. Worc. Epis. Reg. Brian, fol. 15.
  • 76. Pat. 33 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 2d.
  • 77. Ibid.
  • 78. Cal. of Pat. 4 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 26d.
  • 79. Ibid.
  • 80. Ibid. m. 8 d.
  • 81. Ibid.
  • 82. Ibid. 5 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 23 d.
  • 83. Ibid. 7 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 17 d.
  • 84. Ibid. 8 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 19.
  • 85. Stevenson, Calendar of Records of Corporation of Gloucester, 57.
  • 86. Ibid.; Worc. Epis. Reg. Clifford, fol. 70 d.
  • 87. Cal. Papal Letters, vi, 395.
  • 88. Cal. of Pat. 1 Hen. VI, pt. iv, m. 23
  • 89. Heref. Epis. Reg. Boulers, fol. 3.
  • 90. Worc. Epis. Reg. Carpenter, i, fol. 81.
  • 91. Ibid. fol. 130 d.
  • 92. Ibid. fol. 171.
  • 93. Dep. Keeper's Rep. vii, App. ii, 287.
  • 94. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 488-9.
  • 95. Ibid. 488; cf. Leland, Collectanea, i, 79.
  • 96. Ibid. 490.
  • 97. Cal. S. P. Dom. i, 333.
  • 98. Kelly, Direct. of Glouc. (ed. 1906).
  • 99. Stevenson, op. cit. 134.
  • 100. Ibid. 189.
  • 101. Ibid. 209.
  • 102. Ibid. 217.
  • 103. Ibid. 243.
  • 104. Ibid. 269.
  • 105. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 292.
  • 106. Ibid. 462.
  • 107. On Pat. 23 Edw. I, m. 12, the successor is entered as William de Abbenhale. William de Abbenhale was deposed, Cal. of Pat. 29 Edw. I, m. 16.
  • 108. Ibid. He died in 1326. Cal. of Pat. 20 Edw. II, m. 16.
  • 109. Ibid. 20 Edw. II, m. 14.
  • 110. Ibid. 3 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 9.
  • 111. Worc. Epis. Reg. Brian, fol. 15.
  • 112. Ibid.
  • 113. Cal. of Pat. 8 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 19. On death of Walter Gibbes.
  • 114. Ibid. 6 Hen. IV, pt. i, m. 17. On death of John Bullmyll.
  • 115. Stevenson, op. cit. 381, 383.
  • 116. Worc. Epis. Reg. Morgan, fol. 42 d.
  • 117. Ibid. fol. 43.
  • 118. Ibid. Carpenter, i, fol. 154. On death of Stephen Myle.
  • 119. Ibid. Carpenter, ii, fol. 79 d.
  • 120. Ibid.
  • 121. Ibid. Moreton, fol. 18 d.
  • 122. Ibid.
  • 123. Ibid. Silvester de Giglis, fol. 66 d.
  • 124. Ibid. He was bishop of Chrysopolis, and acted as suffragan. V.C.H. Worcester, ii, 43, 'Ecclesiastical History.'
  • 125. Dep. Keeper's Rep. vii, App. ii, 287.
  • 126. Birch, Catalogue of Seals in British Museum, i, 568.
  • 1. Alured, bishop of Worcester (1158-63), granted the lepers the right of burial in their churchyard. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 7.
  • 2. Stevenson, Cal. of Records of Corporation of Glouc. passim.
  • 3. Hist. et Cart. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 7.
  • 4. Ibid. iii, 31; cf. Worc. Epis. Reg. Gainsborough, fol. 37.
  • 5. Worc. Epis. Reg. Cobham, fol. 10.
  • 6. Stevenson, op. cit. 351, 355, &c. The names of a number of other burgesses who held the office of master occur passim.
  • 7. Ibid. passim.
  • 8. Ibid. 426.
  • 9. Fosbrooke, Abstracts of Records and MSS. relating to Gloucestershire, i, 190.
  • 10. Kelly, Direct. of Glouc. (ed. 1906).
  • 11. Brist. and Glouc. Arch. Soc. Trans. xx, 131; Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 381.
  • 12. Fosbrooke, Abstracts and Records relating to Glouc. i, 192.
  • 13. Stevenson, Cal. of Records of the Corporation of Glouc. 68.
  • 14. Kelly, Direct. of Glouc. (ed. 1906).