Hospitals: Whittington's

A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.

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'Hospitals: Whittington's', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark, ed. William Page( London, 1909), British History Online [accessed 14 July 2024].

'Hospitals: Whittington's', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Edited by William Page( London, 1909), British History Online, accessed July 14, 2024,

"Hospitals: Whittington's". A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Ed. William Page(London, 1909), , British History Online. Web. 14 July 2024.


A hospital was founded in 1424 by the executors of Richard Whittington (fn. 1) for thirteen poor persons, who were to live in a house built for them to the east of the church of St. Michael Paternoster and next to the dwelling of the chaplains of Whittington College. The thirteen were to be citizens of London, preferably members of the Mercers' Company, or inferior ministers of Whittington College who could no longer fulfil their duties, and it was an essential condition to their election (fn. 2) and continuance as inmates (fn. 3) that they should have no other means of subsistence. They were to live in separate apartments within the house, but were to have their meals together. Their dress was to be of seemly form and dark in colour. One of their number called the tutor was to have the rule and administration of the house, and his superior position was marked by his receiving a weekly allowance of 16d. instead of the 14d. (fn. 4) allotted to each of the others, and by a relaxation in his case of the rule (fn. 5) prohibiting absence from the hospital. Certain religious duties were prescribed: the almsmen had all to be present at the daily services in St. Michael's Paternoster Royal, and had to pray for the souls of Whittington and Alice his wife, and after high mass they were to assemble round Whittington's tomb and recite the De Profundis; private devotions were also enjoined. The mayor of London was supervisor of the house, but it was with the wardens of the Mercers' Company that the care of the foundation mainly rested: out of every seven vacancies among the poor men they appointed six times, the master of Whittington College once, and they chose the tutor; an inventory of the movables of the house had to be made every year and shown to them, and the seal of the hospital could not be used without their leave.

The connexion between the hospital and the college must have been close from the first, and doubtless grew closer as in course of time former clerks of the college became pensioners in the hospital. Indeed, from a report made in 1538 about the feeling in the houses (fn. 6) it would be impossible to gather that they were two separate institutions, the tutor being mentioned as if like the choristers he belonged to the college. It is evident that this man, William Gibson, held strongly to the old opinions, for he said openly that 'the northern men rose in a good quarrel and that he trusted to see a new day.'Most of his fellows, however, were of the opposite party and 'were so weary of such communications that they were ready to go out of the house.'

This house of charity was not abolished at the Reformation, and in the eighteenth century still existed in the place where it had been founded, the men and women receiving then a pension of 3s. 10d. a week, and new clothes every three years. (fn. 7) In 1823 the Mercers' Company acquired some land in the parish of Islington and there built a chapel and thirty houses to accommodate a chaplain, a matron, and twenty-eight almswomen. (fn. 8)

Tutors of Whittington's Hospital

Robert Chesterton, appointed in 1424 (fn. 9)
William Gibson, occurs 1538 (fn. 10)


  • 1. Pat. 10 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 5, per Inspex. printed in Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vi, 744–6.
  • 2. No one of the livery of any company was to be admitted.
  • 3. If any of them inherited property worth 5 marks clear a year, he was not to remain in the hospital.
  • 4. The patent says 4d., but as in another place the charter provides that if one of the members is attacked by leprosy he is to be removed to another place, but to receive 14d. a week, and his place in the hospital is not to be filled, this sum appears to have been the usual allowance. Dugdale, op. cit. vi, 746.
  • 5. He was not to be absent for twelve days without leave of the conservators, but the others could not be absent one whole day without his leave. Ibid.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 1202.
  • 7. Maitland, Hist. of Lond. 1325.
  • 8. City of London Livery Companies' Com. Rep. ii, 58; iv, 41.
  • 9. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vi, 744.
  • 10. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 1202.