Houses of Knights Hospitaller

Pages 260-262

A History of the County of York: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.

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The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem settled at Mount St. John in Feliskirk in the 12th century and at Newland and Beverley in the early years of the following century. Upon the suppression of the Knights Templars in 1312 they received a large accession of property in the county, but of the seven Templar preceptories handed over to the Hospitallers Ribston alone appears to have continued in the independent position of a preceptory.

As in the case of the Templars, there seems to have been a 'chief preceptor' for the county. Nicholas de Cardinel witnessed a deed in 1189 as 'Master of the Hospitallers of York' (fn. 1); Walter Dewyas was ' rector of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in York' in 1220, (fn. 2) and Ralph de Castro was preceptor of Yorkshire in 1317. (fn. 3)

Besides their four preceptories the Hospitallers had ' camerae ' at Copgrave, Huntington, and Stainton. (fn. 4) These may at first have been under the ' chief preceptor,' but seem in 1338 to have been directly under the head house at Clerken well, though Stainton, which had been bestowed on the order about 1140, is said to have been attached to the preceptory of Beverley. (fn. 5)


A preceptory was established at Beverley at the beginning of the 13th century, probably in 1201, when Sybil de Beverley, second wife of the third Lord Percy, gave to the Knights Hospitallers the manor of Holy Trinity, east of Beverley, the manor of North Burton and other lands. (fn. 6) In 1338, (fn. 7) besides their house and grounds at Beverley, the knights had some 350 acres at Burton, 150 acres at Fitling, 120 at Walsay, 270 at Cleving, and about the same at Dalton. The voluntary offerings collected in the district were reckoned at £20, the whole issues being rather over 125 marks. From this had to be deducted various expenses for the exercise of hospitality, as enjoined by the founders, and for the support of the establishment, consisting of a preceptor, Simon Fauconer, knight, and two brethren, Simon Belcher, knight, and Philip Ewyas, sergeant, two chaplains and clerks employed to collect the voluntary offerings, a steward and the usual retinue of servants. The clear yearly profits amounted to 60 marks. The estates of the Templars' preceptory of Westerdale were at a later date put under the commander, or preceptor of Beverley, (fn. 8) and the total value of the preceptory of Beverley was returned in 1535 as £164 9s. 10d. (fn. 9) John Sutton was preceptor at this time, (fn. 10) as he had been in 1528, (fn. 11) and continued to hold the post until the suppression of the order in 1540, when he was given a pension of £200. (fn. 12)


Early in the reign of Henry I, William Percy I gave to the Knights Hospitallers five knights' fees in the neighbourhood of Feliskirk, and a preceptory was founded to the honour of St. Mary. (fn. 13) The advowson of the church of Feliskirk soon came into the hands of the Hospitallers, whose right therein was acknowledged by Robert Fossard in 1210. (fn. 14) The church was appropriated to the Hospitallers in 1279 and a vicarage ordained. (fn. 15) In 1338 the buildings at Mount St. John were ruinous; the total receipts were about 87½ marks, of which £26 came from the church of Feliskirk and £13 6s. 8d. from the voluntary offerings made in the district. There was a preceptor and one confrater, both of them chaplains, and the usual staff of servants. By their foundation ordinances they had to maintain hospitality and to make two distributions yearly to the poor, the total deductions and expenses coming to 37 marks. (fn. 16) In 1535 the gross value of the commandery was £137 2s., including property in Westmorland and Northumberland, £9 from collections made in Northumberland and £8 from similar collections in Yorkshire; the clear value was £102 13s. 9d. (fn. 17)

Preceptors of Mount St. John

William de Reding (fn. 18)

John de Thame, occurs 1338 (fn. 19)

Richard de Quertone, occurs 1365 (fn. 20)

John Kylquyt, occurs 1415. (fn. 21)

Thomas Pemberton, occurs 1528, (fn. 22) 1534 (fn. 23)

Richard Broke, occurs 1539, (fn. 24) 1540 (fn. 25)


The manor of Newland in Howden was granted to the Knights Hospitallers by King John, and a preceptory was founded there early in the 13th century. During the reign of Henry III the greatest benefactor of the house was Roger Peytevin, lord of Altofts. (fn. 26) In 1338 the manse was said to be in bad repair; there were some 300 acres of land in Newland and ' Hoton ' (Howden), the voluntary offerings of the district were reckoned at £20, and the whole issues amounted to a little over 84 marks; from this had to be deducted 45½ marks for the expenses of the household, consisting of the preceptor, John de Wyrkelee, knight, and his confrater John Molhiry, sergeant, a chaplain, a squire, and the usual servants. (fn. 27) There were also two stewards, one for estates in Craven and the other for those in Furness and Coupland, and Sir William Scot, knight, was in receipt of a pension for life of 40s. (fn. 28)

The Templars' church of Whitkirk seems to have been made over to this preceptory before 1402, (fn. 29) and the sphere of its bailiwick was much enlarged in the process of time until in 1535 (fn. 30) it extended over Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland, and Nottinghamshire, as well as part of Yorkshire, necessitating the employment of thirteen bailiffs. The Yorkshire rectories of Darfield, Whitkirk and Kellington accounted for £80; the offerings collected through the fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the counties other than Yorkshire amounted to £24; the total issues came to £202 3s. 8d. The deductions amounted to £72 8s. 8½d., including the stipends of a chaplain at Newland and another at Stede (Lancs.), and the fees of the numerous bailiffs and other officials; the clear value, therefore, was £129 14s. 11½d., of which £88 9s. 6d. was paid over to the head quarters of the order.

Preceptors of Newland

John de Wyrkelee, occurs 1338 (fn. 31)

Richard Cerne, occurs 1402 (fn. 32), 1415 (fn. 33)

Alban Poole, occurs 1528 (fn. 34)

Roger Boydell, died 1533 (fn. 35)

Thomas Pemberton, occurs 1535 (fn. 36)

? Cuthbert Leghton, last preceptor, 1540 (fn. 37)


Upon the suppression of the Knights Templars in 1312, seven out of their ten Yorkshire preceptories were made over to the Knights Hospitallers, but Ribston alone retained its independent position as a preceptory. In 1338 (fn. 38) the estates of this preceptory were valued at £167 11s. 8d., of which some 30 marks came from the appropriated church of Hunsingore, and 40 marks were estimated as obtainable for the church of Whitkirk if it were leased instead of being kept in their own hands. The preceptor, John de Thame, chaplain, seems to have been the same as the preceptor of Mount St. John at this date; (fn. 39) he had two brethren with him, William de Bautre, sergeant, and Amisius de Cantebiry, chaplain. There were also two pensioners who held corrodies (life grants of board, lodging, and small stipends), given them by the Templars, and the usual staff of servants, and the expenses of hospitality were heavy, as the preceptory lay on the road to Scotland; the clear value, therefore, was only £101 1s. 10d.

In 1422 the Grand Master of the Hospital granted for ten years to Thomas Weston the preceptory of Ribston, vacant by the death of John Brimston, with its member Copmanthorpe, vacant by the death of Thomas 'Scquipuit' (probably Skipwith), ' the last preceptor'; (fn. 40) it seems, however, pretty clear that Copmanthorpe was not a preceptory, but merely a member of Ribston. By the 16th century, Ribston, like so many other preceptories of the Hospitallers, had ceased to be the residence of any of the brethren and was leased to lay farmers, who probably maintained a chaplain. In 1529 Sir John Rawson, the prior of Kilmainham in Ireland and nominal preceptor of Ribston, had leave to lease the preceptory for three years to John Alen, citizen mercer of London. (fn. 41) The return of 1535 shows a gross value of £224 9s. 7d., out of which £6 13s. 4d, had to be paid to a chaplain celebrant at Ribston 'of the foundation of Mowbray' and other £17 for the fees of bailiffs and other officials. (fn. 42) The church of Hunsingore is entered as ' appropriated to the monastery (sic) of Kilmayn in Ireland.' (fn. 43) In 1539, the year before the suppression of the order, Sir John Rawson wrote to Cromwell thanking him for giving the receivership of the commandery of Ribston to Henry Gaderyke, who had married Rawson's niece. (fn. 44)

Preceptors of Ribston

John de Thame, chaplain, occurs 1338 (fn. 45)

John de Bromstone, or Brimston, occurs 1392, (fn. 46) dead before 1422 (fn. 47)

Thomas Weston, appointed 1422 (fn. 48)

John Rawson, prior of Ireland, occurs 1529, last preceptor (fn. 49)


  • 1. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A. 6809.
  • 2. Cal. Chart. R. 1257-1300, p. 449.
  • 3. a Cal. Pat. 1317-21, p. 80.
  • 4. Larking, Knights Hospitallers in Engl. (Camd. Soc.), 112-13.
  • 5. Poulson, Beverlac, 780. Although in other parts of the country the term ' commandery ' was commonly used for a house of Hospitallers, in Yorkshire ' preceptory ' is the usual form.
  • 6. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vi, 801.
  • 7. Larking, op. cit. 49-51.
  • 8. This is clear from several deeds at Kirkleatham.
  • 9. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 142.
  • 10. Ibid. 69.
  • 11. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. lxii, fol. 1.
  • 12. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 379 (57).
  • 13. Dugdale, op. cit. vi, 803. Dugdale's statement (ibid. 838) that Mount St. John was given to the Templars appears to be due to confusion with certain grants in this district made to the Templars, whose preceptory of Temple Cowton afterwards passed to the Hospitallers of Mount St. John.
  • 14. Yorks. Fines, John (Surt. Soc.), 164.
  • 15. Giffard's Reg. (Surt. Soc.), 46-7.
  • 16. Larking, op. cit. 117-18.
  • 17. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 94-5.
  • 18. a Occurs temp. Elias de Smitheton, prior of the Hospital: Yorks. D. (Yorks. Rec.), 193.
  • 19. Larking, op. cit. 48.
  • 20. Cal. Papal Letters, iv, 15.
  • 21. a Ibid. vi, 354.
  • 22. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. lxii, fol. 1.
  • 23. a L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 1675.
  • 24. Ibid. xiv (2), 62.
  • 25. Ibid. xvi, 379 (57); he received a pension of 100 marks. In 1542, Richard Broke ' of the Household ' received a grant of the suppressed preceptory of Mount St. John; ibid. xvii, p. 697.
  • 26. Dugdale, op. cit. vi, 803.
  • 27. The washerwomen received the modest remuneration of 12d. a year.
  • 28. Larking, op. cit. 45-6.
  • 29. Whitaker, Leeds, 139.
  • 30. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 68-9.
  • 31. Larking, op. cit. 46.
  • 32. Whitaker, op. cit. 139.
  • 33. Cal Papal Letters, vi, 354.
  • 34. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. lxii, fol. 1.
  • 35. a L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 1675.
  • 36. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 68.
  • 37. He was given a pension of £60; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 379 (57).
  • 38. Larking, op. cit. 136-8.
  • 39. Ibid. 48.
  • 40. Exch. K.R. Eccl. Doc. bdle. 18, no. 14.
  • 41. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. lxii, fol. 2.
  • 42. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 256.
  • 43. Ibid. 258.
  • 44. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (2), 89.
  • 45. Larking, op. cit. 138.
  • 46. Select Coroners R. (Selden Soc.), 124.
  • 47. Exch. K.R. Eccl. Doc. bdle. 18, no. 14.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. lxii, fol. 2.