Friaries: Trinitarian friars of Hertford

A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.

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'Friaries: Trinitarian friars of Hertford', in A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4, (London, 1971) pp. 452-453. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

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Who founded the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene outside Hertford, afterwards a Trinitarian Friary, is not known, but it was in all probability one of the earlier owners of Hertingfordbury Manor, (fn. 1) possibly one of the Valognes, whose heiress Christina wife of Peter de Maule or Maune (fn. 2) held the advowson (fn. 3) in 1247 and sold it then to Henry de Neketon. The master of the hospital at one time was accustomed to receive a rent of 20s. from Christina de Valognes's water-mill in Hertingfordbury, (fn. 4) presumably the gift of a former lord of the manor. It is also noticeable that the hospital among its small amount of property held in 1263 a rent of 9s. from land in Roydon, co. Essex, (fn. 5) where Robert Fitzwalter, the husband of Gunnora de Valognes, Christina de Maule's predecessor at Hertingfordbury, had had a manor. (fn. 6)

In 1248 Simon de Cokham, a citizen of London, complained that the master and brothers of the hospital had dispossessed him of 80 acres of land in Stanstead which they had let to him for eight years from February 1247 at an annual rent of 12 marks. (fn. 7) The master could not deny the agreement or its non-observance, and was ordered by the court to pay damages and a fine, but was afterwards pardoned the one because he had sowed the land and the other on account of his poverty.

In 1255 Avelina wife of Geoffrey le Clerk sued Walter, the warden of St. Mary Magdalene, for withdrawing the corrody (fn. 8) granted to her for life by a former warden, William Peverel. (fn. 9) Walter's plea was that the wardens, who were removable by the patron, could not make any valid charter without his consent. It was proved, however, that William and his predecessors had let their lands as they chose, and that masters of the hospital had often granted corrodies similar to that given to Avelina, who accordingly recovered hers.

Avelina and her husband (fn. 10) in 1263 sold to Robert, prior of the hospital, 40s. rent in Hertford.

As the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene was in the hands of friars of the Holy Trinity in 1287, (fn. 11) there can be no doubt that it was the leper-house outside Hertford, of which brothers of the Trinitarian order had taken possession about 1261 (fn. 12) after removing the lepers. (fn. 13)

The hospital appears to have been under the direction of the head of the friary at Easton, (fn. 14) and it is interesting to notice that Prior Robert's attorney in 1263 was a certain brother Robert de Eston. Houses under the Maturine rule were always dedicated to the Trinity, (fn. 15) and after 1287 the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene is heard of no more. As the hospital of Holy Trinity it was receiving a rent of 10s. from a water-mill in Hertingfordbury in 1355, 1360 (fn. 16) and 1383-4, (fn. 17) and at the last date is mentioned as holding a fair, (fn. 18) half the tolls of which it paid to the king's bailiff of Hertford. There was apparently still a community here in 1448, when the chamberlain and warden of 'the hospital of the poor of the Trinity and St. Thomas the Martyr' at Hertford admitted Walter Devereux and his wife Ann to the benefits of the order and of masses in the hospital. (fn. 19)

How much longer it lasted as a religious house is uncertain. A bequest to 'the chapel of the Trinity in Hertford' in 1504 (fn. 20) does not necessarily imply that the friary was then no longer in existence, though it probably came to an end some years before the general Dissolution, for it was described when granted to Anthony Denny in 1540 as a 'messuage' called le Trynytie in Hertford formerly belonging to the Crossed Friars in Mottenden. (fn. 21)

Its property consisted of 10 acres of arable land in the common fields, half an acre of meadow and a close called 'le Freres Crofte' in Hertford, 10 acres in Dixwell, 4 acres in Hatfield, and 6 acres of wood in Amwellbury, (fn. 22) where 5 acres had been acquired in 1300 by the friars of Easton. (fn. 23)

Nothing is said of the rent in Roydon, co. Essex, or of the land at Stanstead.

Wardens Of Hertford

William Peverel, occurs before 1255 (fn. 24)

Walter, occurs 1255 (fn. 25)

Robert, occurs 1263 (fn. 26)

William, occurs April 1287 (fn. 27)


  • 1. Ralph Baynard held it at the Domesday Survey (V.C.H. Herts. i, 326).
  • 2. An arrangement was made in 1238 about their fine for the barony which had belonged to Gunnora de Valognes (Excerpta e Rot. Fin. [Rec. Com.], i, 317).
  • 3. Feet of F. Herts. 31 Hen. III, no. 332; Assize R. 320, m. 12. When Hertingfordbury was made over to Edward III, the patronage of the hospital or priory of Hertford, as it was sometimes called, was specially excepted (Cal. Pat. 1345-8, p. 123).
  • 4. Christina bought the rent of him shortly before Nov. 1279 (Chan. Inq. Misc. file 37, no. 6).
  • 5. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. III, 163.
  • 6. Ibid. 2.
  • 7. Assize R. 318, m. 2 d.
  • 8. A brother's allowance and feed for a horse during four months of the year.
  • 9. Assize R. 320, m. 15.
  • 10. Here called Geoffrey de Horemedwe (Feet of F. Herts. 47 Hen. III, no. 571).
  • 11. Cal. Pat. 1282-91, p. 267.
  • 12. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 194. The lepers are also mentioned in a rental of the monks of Hertford (B.M. Chart. L.F.C. x [14]) as follows: 'from the lepers of the hospital of Hertford 8d. viz. 4d. for ½ ac. of land given them by Ralph son of Chapman which lies in Middelfeld and 4d. for land in Middelfeld given them by Reyner Holman.'
  • 13. The revenue of Trinitarian houses was divided into three parts and devoted to the support of the friars, the relief of the poor and the redemption of Christians taken captive by infidels (Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1558). The leper hospital was probably brought to an end by financial straits, which are indicated in the cases cited above.
  • 14. Presumably Easton (co. Wilts.), where there was a house of Trinitarians, though it is difficult to understand such an arrangement when there was a much nearer friary at Hounslow.
  • 15. Dugdale, loc. cit.
  • 16. Mins. Accts. bdle. 865, no. 17, 18.
  • 17. Ibid. bdle. 53, no. 998.
  • 18. As the fair was held on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene it was probably not of recent grant.
  • 19. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iii, App. 251.
  • 20. Will of Sir Robert Watson, clerk (P.C.C. 4 Holgrave).
  • 21. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. iii, m. 1. Mottenden in the parish of Headcorn (Kent) was the head house in England of the Maturine brothers, here called Crossed Friars because they wore a cross on their gowns. The Trinitarians, of course, are not the same as the Crossed or Crutched Friars, one of the four great orders of Mendicant Friars.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Inq. a.q.d. 29 Edw. III, file 35, no. 10.
  • 24. Assize R. 320, m. 15.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. He is called prior (Feet of F. Herts. 47 Hen. III, no. 571).
  • 27. He is called minister, as the Maturine rule required (Cal. Pat. 1282-91, p. 267).