Hospitals: Ewelme

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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'Hospitals: Ewelme', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 156. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Hospitals: Ewelme", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 156. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Hospitals: Ewelme", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 156. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

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In 1437 licence was given to William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, and Alice his wife, to establish an almshouse at Ewelme and to endow it with land to the value of 100 marks yearly. (fn. 1) By 1442 the foundation was complete, the endowments being the manors of Conock, Ramridge, and Marsh Gibbon, worth £59 a year; (fn. 2) but the statutes drawn up by the founder date from 1448-50. (fn. 3) From them we learn that the inmates were to be two priests and thirteen poor men. Each of the former was to receive £10 a year, each of the latter 14d. a week. One of the priests was to be the master; the other was to be a teacher of grammar to instruct, free of charge, the boys of Ewelme and of the three other manors from which the house derived its income. The master was to be, if possible, of the university of Oxford, and was to be chosen by the lord of the manor of Ewelme, who also was to fill up all the other posts. The thirteen poor men were to be such as had no means of livelihood, aged or infirm, and in selecting them preference was to be shown to men of Ewelme, Conock, Ramridge and Marsh Gibbon. They were not bound to a rule of absolute poverty; one who came into property worth £4 a year must leave the house, but if the sum were less he might remain an inmate, and was allowed to receive half the sum which he had inherited, the house taking the other half. Whatever property they had at the time of death was to come to the house. All members were to be present daily at mattins, mass, evensong, and the hours, to be said in the adjoining parish church, where there was a stall for each inmate. The visitor was to be the lord of the manor, and as a rule he was to make a visitation every year. The brethren were to have cloaks with a red cross on the breast, and none with leprosy or an 'intolerable disease' were to be admitted.

In 1526 the income of the almshouse was £64; but in the Valor of 1535 it is not assessed. This favour, and its escape at the dissolution, are no doubt to be put down to the fact that Ewelme was a favourite royal manor and the king was the immediate patron of the almshouse. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the lordship of the manor of Ewelme, put up for sale by the Crown, was bought by the Earl of Macclesfield, and his heir is now the patron of the almshouse, and has the right of nominating the inmates; but the post of master was granted by King James I in 1617 to augment the stipend of the Regius Professor of Medicine, and since 1628 has been attached to that professorship. (fn. 4)

Masters of the Hospital of Ewelme

John Seyngsbery, (fn. 5) appointed 1442, (fn. 6) died 1454 (fn. 7)

William Marton, appointed 1 February, 1455, (fn. 8) died 1494 (fn. 6)

William Branwhaite, died 1498 (fn. 7)

John Spence, appointed 1498 or 1499, (fn. 6) died 1517 (fn. 7)

William Umpton, occurs 1526 (fn. 9)

William Marshall, occurs 1535. (fn. 10)

The fifteenth-century seal is a pointed oval: in two carved niches with elaborate canopies and tabernacle work at the sides, on the left St. John Baptist, standing, with nimbus, holding the Agnus Dei in the right hand and pointing to it with the left hand; on the right a female saint with nimbus, holding in the right hand a sword. In base, under a flat-headed arch, a shield of arms—per pale, dex., a fesse between three leopards' heads, William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk; sin., a lion rampant queue fourchée, Alice Chaucer, his wife, founders, A.D. 1437. (fn. 11)



  • 1. Ibid. viii, 625, where an abstract is given of the charters of the almshouse.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. ix, 217, where they are printed in full.
  • 4. Wood, Hist. of Oxf. ii, 860.
  • 5. Formerly rector of Ewelme; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. ix, 217.
  • 6. Napier, Hist. of Swyncombe, 454.
  • 7. From his brass in Ewelme church.
  • 8. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. viii, 627.
  • 9. MS. at Lincoln.
  • 10. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 168.
  • 11. B.M. xxxvii, 9.