Hospitals: Burton Lazars

Pages 36-39

A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1954.

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So far as can be learnt, the hospital of Burton Lazars was founded by Roger de Mowbray, who granted to the lepers of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem 2 carucates of land at Burton, with a messuage and the site of a mill. (fn. 1) The date of Roger's grant is unknown, but it is unlikely to have been earlier than 1138, when Roger was still a very young man, (fn. 2) and must have been before 1162. (fn. 3) Roger de Mowbray participated in the Second Crusade in 1147, (fn. 4) and it was probably during his stay in Palestine that he became acquainted with the Order of St. Lazarus. According to Nichols (fn. 5) the foundation of the hospital was partly financed by a general collection throughout England, but there seems to be no authority for this statement.

After Roger de Mowbray, the most important benefactor of the hospital was William Burdet, who before 1184 (fn. 6) gave to it a hospital at Tilton, land at Cold Newton, the churches of Loseby (fn. 7) and Galby (Leics.), and the church of Haselbech (Northants.) after the death of Robert Burdet. (fn. 8) Under Henry II the hospital was also given by Simon, Earl of Northampton, and his wife, Adelicia de Gant, the Lincolnshire churches of Great Hale, Heckington, and Threckingham. (fn. 9) Before 1184 the hospital further obtained the reversion of the church of Spondon (Derbys.), after the death of the existing incumbent, by the gift of William, Earl of Derby, (fn. 10) and the grant of the church of Castleford (Yorks.), by the gift of Henry de Lacy. (fn. 11) Henry II granted the hospital 30 marks yearly, to be paid until lands or churches of the equivalent value should be assigned. (fn. 12) In 1200 this grant was confirmed by King John, (fn. 13) who at the same time exempted the hospital, its lands, and its men from aids, tallages, and other royal levies. (fn. 14) The house continued to enjoy such exemption for many years. (fn. 15)

The Hospital of Burton Lazars was subject to the Augustinian rule, (fn. 16) and originally formed part of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. The head of the house was sometimes referred to as the prior (fn. 17) or preceptor, (fn. 18) but seems to have been generally known as the master. The relationship of the Master of Burton Lazars to the other houses of the same Order in England before the 13th century is not clear, but in a charter of 1249 or 1250 Philip de Insula, then master of the hospital, is styled Magister et Generalis of the Order in England. (fn. 19) Subsequently the Master of Burton Lazars appears as proctor-general in England of the Order, (fn. 20) or as master of the Order in England. (fn. 21) In the 14th century, at least, the Master of Burton Lazars visited the lesser English houses to correct faults. (fn. 22) There seems to be no reason to doubt that Burton Lazars was fully subject to the master of the whole Order of St. Lazarus. (fn. 23) From 1439 onwards, however, attempts were made to obtain fresh papal bulls regulating the election of masters of the hospital, (fn. 24) and in 1450 the Pope, on the petition of the master and brethren of the house, took Burton Lazars under his especial protection, exempted it from all episcopal jurisdiction, and provided that for the future the master, when elected by the brethren, should be the undoubted head of the house without any confirmation being required. (fn. 25) The effect must have been to make Burton Lazars an independent house, and after 1450 there is no indication of its having been subject to any lesser authority than the papacy. (fn. 26)

While the Master of Burton Lazars seems to have exercised a measure of control over all the English establishments of the Order of St. Lazarus, the Burton hospital also obtained direct possession of a group of lesser houses. The acquisition of the hospital at Tilton has already been noted. At an unknown date, probably in the 12th century, an agreement was made between Ralph de Amundevill and the brothers of the Order of St. Lazarus, providing that the brothers were to maintain and clothe four lepers in the hospital at Carleton in Moreland (Lines.), to which lands at Carleton belonged. (fn. 27) It is not known how long the hospital at Carleton remained in existence, but Burton Lazars retained the manor of Carleton until the Dissolution. (fn. 28) In 1299 the Hospital of St. Giles, outside London, was granted to Burton Lazars in place of the pension of 40 marks yearly previously received from the king. (fn. 29) The possessions of St. Giles included the rectory of Feltham, Middlesex. (fn. 30) Under Richard II Burton Lazars was deprived of St. Giles, (fn. 31) which was granted to Mountgrace Priory, but after a lawsuit (fn. 32) Burton Lazars regained its rights. (fn. 33) St. Giles was retained by Burton Lazars until 1537, when it was exchanged for the manor of Burton Lazars, (fn. 34) In 1347 the then Master of Burton Lazars became also Preceptor of La Maudelyne, a house of the Order of St. Lazarus at Locko (Derbys.). (fn. 35) La Maudelyne had been previously dependent on a French house. (fn. 36) Since there is no further reference to the preceptory at Locko after 1351, (fn. 37) and since at the Dissolution Burton Lazars was possessed of the manor of Locko, (fn. 38) it seems probable that the possessions of the preceptory passed to Burton Lazars. Another hospital whose lands were acquired by Burton was that at Choseley, near Wymondham (Norf.). A hospital of the Order of St. Lazarus was in existence there in 1291, (fn. 39) but by 1428 the hospital had ceased to exist, (fn. 40) and at the Dissolution its lands were in the possession of Burton Lazars. (fn. 41) In 1456 the king granted to William Sutton, Master of Burton Lazars, the Hospital of the Holy Innocents, outside Lincoln, after the death of the existing holder. (fn. 42) The grant was apparently due to the unsatisfactory condition of Holy Innocents Hospital while it was independent. (fn. 43) Sutton seems to have obtained the Lincoln hospital in 1461. (fn. 44) A condition of the royal grant was that three lepers from the king's household or, failing such, from amongst the king's tenants, should be maintained in the Hospital of the Holy Innocents. (fn. 45) Burton retained possession of the Lincoln hospital until the Dissolution. (fn. 46)

Very little is known of the internal life of Burton Lazars hospital. There are references to the chapter, with the consent of which the master acted. (fn. 47) A dispute for the mastership between Nicholas of Dover and Geoffrey of Chaddesden (fn. 48) was finally settled, after several years of controversy, (fn. 49) in 1372, when Geoffrey gave up his claims in return for a pension. (fn. 50) In 1404 the master ordered the cartulary of the house to be drawn up. (fn. 51) Not long before the Dissolution there were at the hospital the master and eight brothers, and it was described as 'a very fair hospital and collegiate church'. (fn. 52) In 1535 only one poor person was being maintained at Burton, though there were fourteen poor in the subordinate hospital of St. Giles, London. (fn. 53) Burton's possessions in 1535 included the appropriated rectories of Loseby, Spondon, Threckingham, and Feltham. In the same year its clear yearly revenues, which included offerings made before the image of St. Lazarus at the hospital, were assessed at £265. 10s. 2½d. (fn. 54)

By 1536 Dr. Thomas Legh had determined to secure the hospital for himself, (fn. 55) and in the following year he obtained a reversion of the mastership. (fn. 56) He seems to have become master in the same year, (fn. 57) and in 1540 he was still in office. (fn. 58) The hospital was surrendered before 1544. (fn. 59)

Masters of Burton Lazars (fn. 60)

Walter de Novo Castro. (fn. 61)
William, occurs 1208. (fn. 62)
Heincius, occurs 1222. (fn. 63)
Roger of Reresby, occurs 1246. (fn. 64)
Philip de Insula, occurs 1250 and 1251. (fn. 65)
Robert of Tarington, occurs 1252. (fn. 66)
Richard Bustard, occurs 1264. (fn. 67)
John of Horbeling, occurs in or before 1278 (fn. 68) and in 1281. (fn. 69)
Robert of Dalby, occurs 1268. (fn. 70)
Terry of Almain (Alamannus), occurs late 13th century. (fn. 71)
John Crispyng, occurs 1316. (fn. 72)
Richard of Leighton, occurs 1319. (fn. 73)
William Daumenyl, occurs 1321. (fn. 74)
William of Ty, occurs from 1324 (fn. 75) to 1327. (fn. 76)
William Daumenyl, occurs again, 1331. (fn. 77)
Hugh Michel, occurs from 1336 (fn. 78) to 1339. (fn. 79)
Richard, occurs 1345. (fn. 80)
Hugh Michel, occurs again, August 1347. (fn. 81)
Thomas of Kyrkeby, occurs October 1347. (fn. 82)
Geoffrey of Chaddesden, occurs 1354. (fn. 83)
Robert Haliday, occurs 1358. (fn. 84)
Nicholas of Dover, occurs from 1364 (fn. 85) to 1383. (fn. 86)
Richard Clifford, appointed 1389. (fn. 87)
Walter Lynton, occurs 1401, (fn. 88) resigned 1421. (fn. 89)
Geoffrey Schriggely, collated 1421. (fn. 90) Occurs to 1445. (fn. 91)
William Sutton, occurs from 1450 (fn. 92) to 1482. (fn. 93)
George Sutton, occurs from 1484 (fn. 94) to 1492. (fn. 95)
Thomas Honyter, occurs 1506. (fn. 96)
Thomas Norton, occurs from 1512 (fn. 97) to 1524. (fn. 98)
Thomas Ratcliff, occurs from 1526 (fn. 98) to 1536. (fn. 98)
Thomas Legh, occurs from 1537 (fn. 98) to 1540. (fn. 98)

A 14th-century seal (fn. 98) of the hospital is circular, 2¼ in. in diameter. It shows a half-length figure of St. Lazarus in a sexfoil, holding in his right hand a trident, the instrument of his martyrdom, and in his left a book. On either side of the saint is a shield of arms, that on his left bearing a cross, that on his right a lion. The legend is:


Four seals of the 15th century, (fn. 98) all vesica-shaped and of various sizes, have full-length figures of the saint in the attitude of blessing, and holding a crosier. These seals bear the legend:


A large 16th-century seal, (fn. 98) 2½ by 1½ in., shows a standing figure of St. Lazarus, holding a trident and crosier. The legend reads:


A second 16th-century seal, (fn. 98) 2¼ by 1⅛ in., shows a seated figure, probably St. Lazarus, holding a crosier. Below is a religious person in prayer. The legend is:



  • 1. Roger's charter is printed in Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 632, from the copy in B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 1a. Roger's grant is the first charter copied in Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, which is a cartulary of the hosp. There is no statement in the MS. that this grant is the foundation charter.
  • 2. Complete Peerage, ix, 369, citing Chron., Steph., Hen. II, and Ric. I (Rolls Ser.), iii, 182-3. Roger's charter is witnessed by 2 of his sons: Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 632.
  • 3. Pipe R. 1162 (Pipe R. Soc. v), 2.
  • 4. Complete Peerage, ix, 370.
  • 5. Leics. ii, 272.
  • 6. His gifts were confirmed by Hen. II in a charter not later than 1184. See Cal. Chart. R., 1327-41, 77, where details of Hen.'s charter are given, and Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634.
  • 7. Loseby was apparently appropriated by 1232: Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore, ii, 320.
  • 8. Nichols, Leics. ii, App., 128-9; Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 633; B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, ff. 98a, 100. The hosp. never seems to have obtained the advowson of Haselbech: Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 633; Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ii, 98. The hosp. at Tilton was still in existence in 1345: Cal. Close, 1343-6, 631.
  • 9. See the confirmation charters by Hen. II (Nichols, Leics. ii, App., 129; Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634; Cal. Chart. R., 1327-41, 77) and John (Rot. Chart., 11991216 (Rec. Com.), 67).
  • 10. Nichols, Leics. ii, App., 129; Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634; Cal. Chart. R., 1327-41, 77; B.M. Harl. MS. 3868. Spondon was appropriated to Burton Lazars in or shortly after 1286: Descriptive Cat. of Derbys. Charts.; ed. I. H. Jeayes, 275; B.M. Harl. MS. 3868, ff. 11b-17.
  • 11. Early Yorks. Chart., ed. W. Farrer, iii, 156-7; Cal. Chart. R., 1327-41, 77. By 1270 the advowson of Castleford had reverted to the Lacy family: Reg. of Walter Giffard, ed. Wm. Brown, 31.
  • 12. Nichols, Leics. ii, App., 129.
  • 13. Rot. Chart., 1199-1216 (Rec. Com.), 67. The money continued to be paid under Hen. III and Edw. I: Cal. Lib., 1240-5, 182, 285; 1245-51, 44, 115, 178, 232, 283, 384; Cal. Close, 1279-88, 100.
  • 14. Rot. Chart., 1199-1216 (Rec. Com.), 67.
  • 15. Cal. Close, 1330-3,187; 1333-7, 32, 44; 1385-9, 218; 1447-54, 449; Cal. Pat., 1343-5, 224; Cal. Fine R., 1452-61, 38.
  • 16. Cal. Papal Letters, 1447-55, 72.
  • 17. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 252.
  • 18. Cal. Pat., 1216-25, 443; Cal. Papal Letters, 1417-31, 181.
  • 19. B.M. Harl. MS. 3868, f. 16a.
  • 20. Cal. Pat., 1307-13, 344; 1313-17, 1, 394; 131721, 394, 571; 1377-81, 290; 1422-9, 268; Cal. Chart. R., 1341-1417, 165.
  • 21. B.M. Add. Chart. 33635; Cal Pat., 1361-4, 253. In 1371 Nicholas of Dover described himself as 'governor, warden, and master of the conventual house of Burton Lazars, and lieutenant and vicar-general in spiritualities and temporalities of the General Master of the Order of St. Lazarus in England and Scotland': Cal. Pat., 1370-4, 418. See also ibid., 1377-81, 290.
  • 22. Cal. Pat., 1345-8, 414; 1354-8, 43.
  • 23. In 1353 a member of the Order from Burton obtained the king's protection for a journey overseas to treat with the Master Superior of the Order: Cal. Pat., 1350-4, 502.
  • 24. Ibid., 1436-41, 362.
  • 25. Cal. Papal Letters, 1447-55, 81; for other papal privileges bestowed on the hospital in the 15th century, see Leic. Boro. Rec., 1327-1509, 386-7.
  • 26. In 1457 a brother of Burton was referred to as belonging to the Order of the Cruciferi (Cal. Papal Letters, 1455-64,126), but this term was used to denote several different bodies living under the Augustinian rule (D. Knowles, Religious Orders in Engl. 203), and it is unlikely that Burton Lazars was attached to any of the Orders known as Friars of the Cross.
  • 27. B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, ff. 116a-117b; Nichols, Leics. ii, 275. The agreement is dated 'in the year in which the young King of France was married'. If the king in question was Louis VII, the year would be 1137, when Louis first married. If the king meant is Philip II, the year similarly would be 1180. But see above on the date of Burton's foundation. The agreement was confirmed by Wm., Count of Aumale, and the last English Count Wm. died in 1260.
  • 28. Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 153.
  • 29. Cal. Pat., 1292-1301, 404.
  • 30. Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 635-6.
  • 31. Cal. Pat., 1401-5, 120.
  • 32. Cal. Close, 1399-1401, 450-1; 1402-5, 16.
  • 33. Cal. Pat., 1413-16, 248.
  • 34. Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 635.
  • 35. Cal. Close, 1346-9, 338, 382.
  • 36. Cal. Pat., 1345-8, 408.
  • 37. V.C.H. Derbys. ii, 78.
  • 38. Ibid.; Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634.
  • 39. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 94.
  • 40. J. Tanner, Notitia Mon. (1744), 358.
  • 41. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 152. See also Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 94. Lands at Choseley are said to have been given to Burton Lazars by Wm. de Albini, before 1146 (V.C.H. Norf. ii, 453; Nichols, Leics. ii, 273), but there seems to be no reliable evidence for this.
  • 42. Cal. Pat., 1452-61, 359.
  • 43. V.C.H. Lincs, ii, 231.
  • 44. Cal. Pat., 1461-7, 123.
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 152; Dugd. Mon. vi (2), 634.
  • 47. Cal. Pat., 1416-22, 310-11; B.M. Add. Chart. 33635.
  • 48. Geoffrey had been master at ah earlier date: Cal. Pat., 1354-8, 43.
  • 49. The dispute was in progress in 1369: Cal. Pat., 1367-70, 259.
  • 50. Cal. Close, 1369-74, 432.
  • 51. Nichols, Leics. ii, App., 129; B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 1a.
  • 52. Leland's Itin., ed. Lucy Toulmin-Smith, iv, 19; J. Leland, Collect. (1770), i, 72.
  • 53. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 152.
  • 54. Ibid. 152-3.
  • 55. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xi, p. 114.
  • 56. Ibid, xii (1), p. 35.
  • 57. B.M. Harl. Chart. 80, F26.
  • 58. Descriptive Cat. of Derbys. Charts., ed. I. H. Jeayes, 79-80.
  • 59. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix (1), p. 371.
  • 60. An incomplete list is given in Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 269.
  • 61. B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, ff. 3a, 34. The date of this master's rule is unknown.
  • 62. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 252.
  • 63. Ibid. i, 269. Heincius occurs in a fine dated Hil., 6 Hen. III. Farnham, op. cit. i, 269, gives the date as 1221, but Hil., 6 Hen. III, falls in Jan. 1221-2, i.e. in the historical year 1222.
  • 64. Cal. Lib., 1245-51, 44.
  • 65. B.M. Harl. MS. 3868, ff. 15b, 16a.
  • 66. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 269.
  • 67. B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 31.
  • 68. Farnham, Leics. Notes, iii, 109.
  • 69. Ibid. i, 255.
  • 70. Cal. Close, 1279-88, 418.
  • 71. B.M. Add. Chart. 33635; Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 33. The position of this master in the list is uncertain. He may be the same person as Ric. Germin', who was master about the same period: B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, ff. 3b, 61a.
  • 72. Ibid., f. 52a.
  • 73. Cal. Pat., 1317-21, 394.
  • 74. Cal. Close, 1318-23, 498.
  • 75. B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 47a.
  • 76. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 258.
  • 77. Cal. Close, 1330-3, 327.
  • 78. B.M. Cott. MS. Nero C. 12, f. 37a.
  • 79. Cal. Close, 1339-41, 148.
  • 80. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 259.
  • 81. Cal. Close, 1346-9, 382.
  • 82. Cal. Pat., 1345-8, 414.
  • 83. Ibid., 1354-8, 43.
  • 84. Cal. Close, 1354-60, 498.
  • 85. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 269.
  • 86. Ibid. On the dispute for the mastership between Nicholas and Geoffrey of Chaddesden, see above, PP. 37-38.
  • 87. Cal. Pat., 1388-92, 117.
  • 88. Ibid., 1399-1401, 434; Cal. Close, 1399-1402, 450-1.
  • 89. Cal. Papal Letters, vii, 181.
  • 90. Ibid.
  • 91. Cal. Close, 1441-7, 343.
  • 92. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 262; Cal. Papal Letters, 1447-55, 81.
  • 93. Farnham, op. cit. i, 269.
  • 94. Ibid.
  • 95. B.M. Harl. Chart. 43 A13.
  • 96. Hist. MSS. Com., Middleton, 125.
  • 97. Farnham, Leics. Notes, i, 269.
  • 98. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (1), p. 332.