Hospitals: St Mary Bigging, Anstey

Pages 457-458

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

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It is not known when or by whom (fn. 1) the hospital of St. Mary Bigging or of the Bigging in the parish of Anstey was founded, but it existed and had land in Buckland in 1287 (fn. 2) and paid subsidy in 1291. (fn. 3)

An exchange of lands was effected between Dionisia de Monchesney, lady of Anstey Manor at this time, (fn. 4) and John the warden of Bigging, (fn. 5) possibly John de Boclonde, master in 1308. (fn. 6) Protection was given by the king in May 1316 (fn. 7) and December 1325 (fn. 8) to the keeper or warden of this house.

In 1343, at the request of John Darcy le fitz, Edward III gave the chaplains of the hospital licence to acquire in mortmain land and rent to the yearly value of £10 (fn. 9) ; and in part satisfaction of this amount they received in 1350 100s. rent from land in Great and Little Chishall (co. Camb.), (fn. 10) in 1353 messuages and land in Buntingford, Barkway, Hormead, Braughing, Buckland, Wyddial and Alswick in Layston worth 16s. a year, (fn. 11) and in 1366 75 acres and 10s. rent in Great and Little Hormead, Braughing and Buntingford. (fn. 12)

This house is sometimes called the 'poor' hospital of St. Mary, (fn. 13) no doubt with truth, since only the brothers' pressing need could have caused their arrangement in 1405 with a certain Ralph Cokkyng. (fn. 14) For 50 marks they made over to Ralph for sixty years land in Little Hormead and elsewhere valued at 5 marks a year. It was understood that Ralph was to settle land in Royston worth 40s. a year on the hospital, but he never did so. Thirty years later it was alleged that damage to the extent of more than 50 marks had been done to the hospital's property by Ralph's son and successor. The hospital or free chapel, (fn. 15) as it had now become, is not mentioned again until August 1589, when it was granted by the Crown to William Tipper and Robert Dawe. (fn. 16)

Masters or Wardens 17 of St. Mary Bigging, Anstey

John, occurs 1287 (fn. 17)

John de Boclonde, occurs August 1308 (fn. 18)

Richard, occurs 1368 (fn. 19)

Nicholas Mokkyng, occurs January 1401 (fn. 20) and c. 1405 (fn. 21)

Thomas Whightfeld, occurs c. 1435 (fn. 22)


  • 1. Possibly the owner of Anstey was the founder or principal benefactor, for in 1435 the hospital was said to be of the foundation of the Duke of York (Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 39, no. 24), then lord of Anstey (see above, p. 13).
  • 2. Assize R. 325, m. 2.
  • 3. Lay Subs. R. bdle. 120, no. 2. The master paid 31s. 3½d. for property in Anstey, 21s. 3½d. for that in Little Hormead.
  • 4. Ibid.; Cussans, Hist. of Herts. Edwinstree Hund. 56. She died in 1313.
  • 5. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A 1040.
  • 6. Sharpe. Cal. of Letter-Bk. B. 95.
  • 7. Cal. Pat. 1313-17, p. 462.
  • 8. Ibid. 1324-7, p. 202.
  • 9. Ibid. 1343-5, p. 155.
  • 10. Ibid. 1348-50, p. 569.
  • 11. Ibid. 1350-4, p. 423.
  • 12. Pat. 40 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 9.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1343-5, p. 155; 1348-50, P. 569.
  • 14. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 39, no. 24.
  • 15. In 1401 it is called a chapel or college.
  • 16. Pat. 31 Eliz. pt. v, m. 37.
  • 17. The master in the Lay Subs. R. of 1291 (bdle. 120, no. 2) is called 'prior.'
  • 18. Assize R. 325, m. 2.
  • 19. Sharpe, op. cit. 95.
  • 20. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 762.
  • 21. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, p. 363. He was also a prebendary of the collegiate church of Llandewybreny in the diocese of St. Davids.
  • 22. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 39, no. 24.
  • 23. Ibid.