Hospitals: Oswestry (St John)

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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M J Angold. G C Baugh. Marjorie M Chibnall. D C Cox. D T W Price. Margaret Tomlinson. B S Trinder, 'Hospitals: Oswestry (St John)', in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2, (London, 1973) pp. 104-105. British History Online [accessed 29 May 2024].

M J Angold. G C Baugh. Marjorie M Chibnall. D C Cox. D T W Price. Margaret Tomlinson. B S Trinder. "Hospitals: Oswestry (St John)", in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2, (London, 1973) 104-105. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024,

Angold, M J. Baugh, G C. Chibnall, Marjorie M. Cox, D C. Price, D T W. Tomlinson, Margaret. Trinder, B S. "Hospitals: Oswestry (St John)", A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2, (London, 1973). 104-105. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024,


Reiner, Bishop of St. Asaph (1186-1224), who founded this hospital on lands acquired from Shrewsbury Abbey in the first decade of the 13th century, (fn. 1) endowed it on an unusually lavish scale. Apart from adjoining property his original grant included 23 a. to the west of the town and 9 a. given by the clergy of Oswestry. (fn. 2) Before 1210 he added the township of Wilcott in Great Ness, bought for 70 marks from John Lestrange. (fn. 3) His apparent intention was that Wilcott should be held by Haughmond Abbey, which was to provide a chantry service at the hospital; it is uncertain whether this scheme replaced or was replaced by another whereby the township was granted to the hospital but was to revert to Haughmond should the hospital cease to exist. (fn. 4) By 1215 Reiner had bought six shops and 26s. rent in Shrewsbury for the hospital (fn. 5) and had procured for it annual pensions of £3 6s. 8d. from Llansilin (Denb.) and three other churches in Wales. (fn. 6) William FitzAlan, lord of Oswestry, gave the hospital pasture rights at Cynynion (fn. 7) and confirmed a gift by the burgesses of Oswestry of a handful of corn, flour, and salt from every horseload sold in the market, a gallon of ale from every brewing, and a loaf from every baking. (fn. 8) In 1211 the hospital was taken under papal protection. (fn. 9)

While reserving the right to administer the hospital during his lifetime, Reiner entrusted it thereafter to the Hospitallers, c. 1217-18, requiring them to maintain seven poor persons there. (fn. 10) This arrangement was immediately disputed by Haughmond and it was shortly afterwards ruled by the archbishop that Haughmond should hold the hospital of the Hospitallers, paying 20s. a year to the preceptory of Halston. (fn. 11) Reiner evidently continued to take an interest in his foundation until his death, for he was still buying Shrewsbury property on its behalf in 1222. (fn. 12)

Small properties in Oswestry (fn. 13) and its townships of Aston, (fn. 14) Wootton, (fn. 15) and Weston (fn. 16) were acquired by the hospital in the later 13th century and the terms under which Haughmond held it were confirmed in 1273, (fn. 17) but it is unlikely that it housed any poor persons after 1300. Haughmond Abbey appears to have regarded the Wilcott charters as evidence that its obligations were restricted to the provision of a chantry priest. Such a priest, appointed in 1338, was given a life-lease of the hospital and adjoining crofts. He was required to provide daily services, to repair the house, chapel, and dovecot, and provide quarters for visiting canons of Haughmond. (fn. 18) A papal licence (1414) for the Dean of St. Asaph to hold the wardenship of the hospital (fn. 19) is probably without significance.

The Hospitallers of Halston continued to receive their annual fee of 20s. from Haughmond until the Dissolution (fn. 20) when the hospital site was not recorded among the estates of either of these houses. By the 1550s, however, when it was described as the chapel of St. John the Baptist, the hospital was regarded as a former dependency of Halston (fn. 21) and as such was granted by the Crown to George Lee in 1560. (fn. 22) The chapel, which stood in Church Street, is last recorded in 1577, when it was held by Thomas Smallman. (fn. 23)

No names of wardens of this hospital have been found, nor is there any evidence that it possessed a common seal.


  • 1. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart., ff. 158–158v. The earlier history of this hospital is more fully covered in Eyton, x. 345–53.
  • 2. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. ff. 158–158v. The bishop's and clergy's endowments are given as 13 a. and 19 a. respectively in a slightly later charter: ibid. f. 158v.
  • 3. Ibid. ff. 158v.–159, 161v., 162, 231–231v.; Harl. MS. 446, ff. 12v., 35–35v.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. ff. 158v.–160.
  • 6. Ibid. f. 158v.
  • 7. Ibid. f. 159.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid. ff. 158v.–159.
  • 10. Ibid. f. 161.
  • 11. Ibid. ff. 158, 161v.
  • 12. Ibid. ff. 159v.–160, 182.
  • 13. Ibid. f. 159; N.L.W., Shrews. Cart. no. 392; Eyton, x. 352.
  • 14. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. ff. 9, 159; Eyton, xi. 14.
  • 15. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. f. 160; Eyton, xi. 9.
  • 16. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. ff. 160–1; Eyton, x. 360–1.
  • 17. D. R. Thomas, St. Asaph, iii. 89.
  • 18. S.P.L., Haughmond Cart. f. 162.
  • 19. Cal. Papal Regs. vi. 419–20.
  • 20. S.P.L., Deeds 4028; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 193.
  • 21. W. J. Slack, The Lordship of Oswestry (Shrewsbury, 1951), 12.
  • 22. E 318/45/2406; Cal. Pat. 1558–60, 273–4; 1560–3, 158; T.S.A.S. xlvii. 84.
  • 23. Slack, Lordship of Oswestry, 127. For references to other parts of the former hospital estate at this time see ibid. 130, 133. For other evidence for the hospital site see T.S.A.S. liii. 94–95, 103–4; Cat. Anct. D. vi, C 4456.