A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
44. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. MARY ROUNCIVALL
This hospital was founded near Charing Cross by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, in the reign of Henry III, and therefore before 1231, when William the second earl marshal died, and was endowed by him with 100s. rent at Southampton, land worth £13 in 'Netherwynter,' and a carucate of land in Ashingdon. (fn. 1) It was the chief cell in England of the Priory of St. Mary at Rouncivall in Navarre. (fn. 2) The brothers are mentioned between 1244 and 1260 as the patrons of a church in London called St. Mary 'Aylward,' (fn. 3) and by the middle of the next century the house had acquired a little more property, but its income must have been derived principally from alms which persons were sent from the hospital to collect. (fn. 4) Richard II, on a vacancy of the house about 1382, granted the custody to his clerk Nicholas Slake. On this occasion the prior of Rouncivall protested, and his claim to the ownership of the hospital seems to have been successful; (fn. 5) in 1393, however, the king again appointed a warden of the hospital, (fn. 6) which probably passed entirely out of the control of the priory at Rouncivall before it came into the possession of the crown under the Act of 1414. (fn. 7)
About 1421 the vicar of St. Martin's in the Fields complained to the pope that the master and brothers under pretext of letters of Boniface IX detained tithes and other parochial rights due to him. The genuineness of these and other letters produced by them had appeared so doubtful to the archbishop of Canterbury that he had detained them, and in 1422 he was ordered by the pope to send them to the papal chancery to be examined. (fn. 8) The archbishop's suspicions were found to be justified, the letters of Boniface IX, Urban VI, Clement VI, and Urban V were declared forgeries, and the pope commanded that they should be publicly denounced as such and burned, and that those who had forged them and those who knowing them to be false had made use of them were to be punished. (fn. 9) The tithes, of course, were restored to the vicar. Poverty probably was the cause of this reprehensible attempt to replenish the convent's funds, for just before this sentence the pope had granted a special indulgence to persons visiting and giving alms for 'the sustentation and repair of the chapel of the poor hospital of St. Mary Rouncevall whose buildings are in need of no small repair.' (fn. 10)
Nothing further is heard of the house until 1478, when Edward IV granted it with all its property in frankalmoign to a fraternity or gild consisting of a master, wardens, brethren, and sisters, founded in the chapel there in 1474, for the maintenance of three chaplains and of the poor coming to the hospital. (fn. 11) There had been a brotherhood established in St. Mary's in 1385, especially to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, (fn. 12) but whether this had any connexion with the gild of 1474 does not appear.
The story of the hospital ends with the dissolution of the fraternity in November, 1544. (fn. 13)
At the time of the surrender the hospital possessed a messuage and field in the parish of St. Clement Danes, which it had received from the king in 1542 in exchange for some tenements and a wharf in the parish of St. Margaret Westminster. (fn. 14) About 1291 it held some land in Hawkwell and Ashingdon, co. Essex, (fn. 15) and in the fourteenth century a rent of 2s. in Norwich (fn. 16) and 10 acres of land in Kensington. (fn. 17)
The head of the house was styled prior during the thirteenth century, (fn. 18) but afterwards master or warden.
Masters or Wardens of the Hospital of St. Mary Rouncivall
Nicholas Slake, occurs 1382 (fn. 19)
Garcias, occurs 1389 (fn. 20)
John Gedeneye, appointed 1393 (fn. 21)
John Neuwerk, occurs 1399 (fn. 22)
Richard Bromefeld, died 1526 (fn. 23)
Roger Elys, appointed 1526 (fn. 24)
William Jenyns, occurs 1542 (fn. 25)
A seal of the fifteenth century (fn. 26) represents the Assumption of the Virgin who stands on a crescent upheld by an angel and surrounded by radiance. At each side three flying angels issue from clouds, and overhead in clouds is the Trinity. Legend:—
SIGILLū . . . . . RNITATIS (?) . GĒ MARIE . DE . ROUNCEVA . . . . .