Hospitals: St Thomas, Birmingham

Pages 108-109

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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The hospital of St. Thomas at Birmingham was situate, according to Dugdale, 'at that end of the town towards Wolverhampton, and on the right hand the road, almost opposite to the sign of the Bull.' (fn. 1)

No record of its foundation has yet been found. The first known mention of it occurs in the reign of Edward I, licence being granted in 1286 for the alienation in mortmain to the master and brethren of the hospital of St. Thomas, by Thomas de Maidenhacche and William de Birmingham, of 10 acres of heath in Aston, and by Ranulph de Rokeby of 3 acres of land in Saltley. (fn. 2)

On 20 December, 1310, the prior and brethren of this hospital had pardon granted them by the crown for acquiring, without licence from the late king, 7½ acres of land in Bordesley, from John de Somery; 22½ acres of land and ½ acre of meadow in Birmingham, from William de Birmingham; 1½ acres of land in Duddeston, from Nicholas de la Dale; a messuage and moiety of a virgate in Duddeston, from William de la Shawe; 4½ acres in Saltley, from Ralph Wombestronge; 10 acres of land in Aston, from Thomas de Maydenhacche; as well as divers cottages, rents, and small plots of land in Birmingham, from no fewer than twenty-seven donors. (fn. 3) From these numerous small bequests it would appear that the hospital was then doing a good and appreciated work in the district. But its condition must soon afterwards have changed.

The hospital was visited in 1344 by Bishop Northburgh. It was found to be in a miserable plight, and the diocesan issued revised regulations to be observed by the brethren. The bishop in the preamble to his decree asserted that vile reprobates had assumed the habit in order that they might continue their evil lives sub velamine religiositatis, and then forsake it and cause themselves to be styled hermits. (fn. 4)

The bishop's strenuous visitation apparently effected the necessary reformation, for soon afterwards the hospital again won the favour of the chief men of the parish. In 1350 Fulk de Birmingham and Richard Spencer gave to the master and brethren of the hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr two messuages and 100 acres of land in Birmingham and Aston, conditional on their finding a priest to celebrate daily at the Lady altar in their chapel for the souls of William le Mercer and Margaret his wife. (fn. 5)

The hospital was suppressed in 1546, when the clear annual value was declared to be £8 5s. 3d. (fn. 6)


Robert Marmion, 1326

John Nevill, appointed 1353 (fn. 7)

Robert Cappe, 1361-9 (fn. 8)

Hugh de Wolvesey, appointed 1369

Robert Cheyne, 1393-6 (fn. 9)

Henry Bradley, 1396-1403 (fn. 10)

Thomas Galpyn, 1403-7 (fn. 11)

Robert Browe, 1407-12 (fn. 12)

John Poet, appointed 1412 (fn. 13)

William Prestwode, 1416-21 (fn. 14)

Henry Drayton, appointed 1421 (fn. 15)

William Fullan, 1464 (fn. 16)

William Guest, 1464-7 (fn. 16)

Fulk Bermingham, 1467-77 (fn. 17)

Thomas Smallwode, appointed 1477 (fn. 18)

Edward Tofte, 1521 (fn. 19)

Henry Holly, 1538-46 (fn. 20)


  • 1. Warw. ii, 903. Dugdale is mistaken in assigning its dedication to St. Thomas the Apostle; it was really dedicated to the honour of St. Thomas of Canterbury.
  • 2. Pat. 14 Edw. I, m. 15. See also Inq. a.q.d. 13 Edw. I, No. 128.
  • 3. Pat. 4 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 3.
  • 4. Lich. Epis. Reg. Northburgh, ii, fol. 110.
  • 5. Inq. a.q.d. 24 Edw. III, pt. ii, No. 18.
  • 6. Chant. Cert. Warw.
  • 7. Lich. Epis. Reg. Northburgh, ii, fol. 57.
  • 8. Ibid. Stretton, fol. 8.
  • 9. Ibid. Le Scrope, fol. 12.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid. Burghill, fol. 26.
  • 12. Ibid. fol. 19b.
  • 13. Ibid. fol. 31.
  • 14. Ibid. Catterick, fol. 5.
  • 15. Ibid. Heyworth, fol. 5.
  • 16. Ibid. Hales, fol. 14b.
  • 17. Ibid. fol. 17.
  • 18. Ibid. fol. 27.
  • 19. Ibid. Blyth, fol. 8.
  • 20. Chant. Cert. Warw.