St Leonard’s Hospital
It's quite possible that St Leonard's Road in Far Cotton takes its name from a medieval hospital and chapel that once stood in the vicinity. In a detailed essay entitled "The Leper Hospitals of Northampton" published by the Northamptonshire Natural History & Field Club (Vol. XVIIL - No. 141 - March, 1915), the Reverend RM Serjeantson delves into its fascinating history.
THERE is a popular fallacy, for which some of our best known writers are responsible, that leprosy was introduced into this country, from the East, by returning Crusaders.
Thus Fuller says:"The Leprosy was one epidemical infection which tainted the pilgrims coming thither; hence was it brought over into England-never before known in this island-and many Lazar houses erected." And Voltaire remarks in his cynical way "All that we gained in the end by engaging in the Crusades, was the Leprosy; and of all that we had taken, that was the only thing that remained tons." Dr. Creighton (the well-known authority on the subject of epidemics) however, remarks that it is absurd to suppose that Leprosy could possibly have been introduced in this way; and it is a fact that there is no denying that Leprosy was well known in this country many years before the Crusaders were ever dreamed of.
There were certainly Lepers in England in Saxon days, and Edward the Confessor is alleged to have cured one. Aelfward the Saxon Bishop of London (1035-1044), was afflicted with the disease, and was compelled to retire into a monastery in consequence; and Hugh D'Orivalle, another Bishop of London, died a Leper in 1085. In addition to this several Lazar-houses are known to have been founded soon after the Norman Conquest, and many years before the first Crusade.
With regard to the extent and duration of the disease, authorities are widely divided. "Speaking broadly, however, one may say that Leprosy raged from the eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth century, when it abated; that it was inconsiderable after the middle of the fourteenth; that though not extinct, it became rare in the fifteenth; and had practically died out by the sixteenth century, save in the extreme south-west of England."
Miss Clay gives a list of 242 Leper Hospitals in England, and there were doubtless others whose existence has been forgotten. Of those recorded, three were in London, three at Canterbury, three at Lincoln, six at Norwich, four at Thetford and four at Ipswich, from which we may conclude that Leprosy was especially rife in the eastern counties. In Northampton there were two lazar-houses-one outside the North Gate at Walback (probably somewhere near the present barracks); and a second and more important one (dedicated to St. Leonard) outside the South Gate - in Far Cotton.
Two of the earliest Leper Hospitals or Lazar-houses founded in England were Harbiedown, near Canterbury, established by Archbishop Lanfranc, C. 1080; and St. Bartholomew's, Rochester, founded by his friend Bishop Gundulph, about the same date, or at any rate prior to 1108, in which year Gundulph died.
To the same early period belongs our own Hospital of St. Leonard, Northampton, which appears to have been founded by Robert de Stafford (2), a member of the ancient family of de Toeni, hereditary standard bearers of Normandy, and near relatives of the Ducal family. Robert de Stafford or de Toeni, was the possessor of vast estates in various parts of England, and at the time of the compilation of the Domesday Book lie held no less than 131 lordships. Of these, twenty were in Lincolnshire, two in Suffolk, one in Worcestershire, one in Northamptonshire, twenty-six in Warwickshire, and eighty-one in Staffordshire. From the fact that the bulk of his property lay in Staffordshire he is usually known as Robert de Stafford, though his grandson, Robert de Stafford, in a confirmatory deed granted to the Abbey of Conches in Normandy, calls him Robert de Toeni. (3)
Dugdale says "of this Robert all that I can say further is that living till King Henry the first's time, and understanding that one Enysan de Walton, who came over into England with the Norman Conqueror, had killed two nuns and a priest, which had been settled in a small oratory at Stone, in Staffordshire, to celebrate divine service there in honour of St. Wolfade, formerly murdered in that place by Wolphere, King of Mercia, his father; he, out of his great devotion to that Saint, founded a Priory there for Canons Regular of St. Augustine's order. Moreover that he gave his Lordships of Wrotesleye and Livingtune to the Monks of Evesham; and that he was interred with Avice de Clare his wife in the entrance of the Cloyster at Stone." (4)
In a chancery suit in 1567 Robert de Stafford is described as High Steward of England, (5) but as no lists of High Stewards appear to be extant, we have been unable to verify the statement.
Mr. W. L. Vernon Harcourt in his recent book His Grace the Steward (5) deals exhaustively with the subject of the Senescallus, Dapifer or High Steward of England. He gives the names of several holders of the office in the reign of the Conqueror, and says that there were probably others, one of whom may have been Robert de Stafford. As a relative of the King, and a brother of the Hereditary Standard Bearer of Normandy it is not at all unlikely that Robert de Stafford should have held the office of High Steward.
Among the records of the Corporation of Northampton are a number of interesting deeds relating to St. Leonard's Hospital. The foundation Charter, which is alluded to in an Exchequer suit in 1567, and which the Mayor of those days offered to produce in Court, is now unfortunately lost, but a considerable number of deeds relating to early grants to St. Leonard's are fortunately still extant, and from them we may gather many interesting details with regard to the old street names, and early officials and inhabitants of Northampton. The earliest and most important of these is a Charter of Henry II. (1154-1189) granting special protection to the Lepers of St. Leonard's, Northampton, their messengers (fluncios) and all their possessions; and permission to receive alms.
The actual wording of the Charter is as follows:-"Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, etc., to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, etc., greeting. We order you to protect and maintain (manuteaeatis) the Lepers of St. Leonard's Northampton, their messengers and all their property. And that you do them no injury or wrong, nor permit any to be done; that you neither unjustly disturb them, nor allow them to be disturbed in receiving alms, from those who wish to give to them. And if anyone presume to do amiss (forisfacere) to them you shall cause justice to be done upon him without delay. Witness, Godfrey de Luci at Northampton." (6)
Attached to this interesting little document is a fragment of the Great Seal of King Henry II. (6*)
This protection was renewed by King John in exactly the same words on February 20th, 1214-5, and is entered on the Patent Rolls of that year. (7)
Another early Charter is that of Adam son of Nigel son of Mervin, who grants to God and the Hospital of St. Leonard, Northampton, and the sick men (infirmis) serving God there, his shop (scoppam) in the market (nundinis) of Northampton, in Wimpler's Row (in rengo Wimplariorum), which is near the shop of the said sick men towards the east in the same Row. He grants this in pure and perpetual alms for the safety of his soul and for the souls of his ancestors and successors, free and quit of all services to him pertaining. (8)
Here we get a reference to an old Northampton street, and to an old trade carried on there, both of which are now things of the past. The Wimplers, who lived and worked in Wimpler's Row, were the makers of Wimples, favourite articles of female attire in early days. The Wimple was a kerchief or veil, which was used to cover the chin, throat and breast, whilst the veil proper covered the head. "It was worn by ladies from Anglo-Saxon times down to the middle of the sixteenth century, and was essentially an article of clothing intended to veil female charms. Modest women were, as Chaucer puts it, 'gwimpled well'. (9) The Wimple was always and still is, an essential part of the dress of a Nun.
Another point to notice with regard to this deed is the absence of surnames. The donor is simply Adaiii son of Nigel son of Mervin, and most of the witnesses are described in the sanie way (Robert son of Hugh, Roger son of Peter, Ralph soil of Meinfelin, etc.) ; or they take their name from the place whence they came like Robert of Leicester and Adam of Gornai.
Mr. Stuart Moore when calendaring the Northampton muniments dated this particular charter as circa 1150. It must however be at least 40 or 50 years later, for two of the witnesses, Robert of Leicester and Ralph son of Meinfelin, occur in the Pipe Roll of 1 Richard I. (1189-90); and two other witnesses, Adam of Gornai and Roger son of Peter, were Reeves (Prepositi) of Northampton in 1194 (Pipe Roll, 5 Richard I.).
Another of these deeds (which dates from about the year 1200) relates to a grant to the Hospital of St. Leonard of eight acres of land in Milton Malsor. (10) The donor was the above-mentioned Robert of Leicester, who held the land from Wm. de le Fremund. Accordingly we get another deed from Wm. de le Fremund confirming the grant made by his tenant, on condition that the Lepers paid him one pound of cummin seed, or three half- pence every Christmas. (11) Among the witnesses to this confirmatory grant was Simon de Pateshull, then Sheriff, from which fact we are able to date the deed approximately, as Simon held office as Sheriff from 1194 to 1203.
Another benefactor to this charity was Geoffrey FitzPeter, Earl of Essex, who early in the reign of King John, granted to God and the Hospital of St. Leonard, in Northampton, and the Lepers there serving God (for the soul of King Richard and for the safety of the souls of himself and his wife Beatrix) in perpetual alms, a rent of 20/-, which he bought of Henry son of Hugh in Northampton, to wit, a rent of 5/- and 4 capons (caponum) from the tenement of Hugh Plompton; and a rent of 32 pence, 2 capons and 2 hens (galhnarum) from the tenement of Richard son of Hugh; and a rent of 26 pence and 4 capons from the tenement of Wm. Teilli; a rent of 18 pence of Richard FitzReiner; and a rent of 8/- from a shop in Mercers' Row. The Hospital authorities were however bound to pay him 12 pence a year for all services.
The donor in this case (Geoffrey FitzPeter) was a man of considerable importance. He was Chief Justiciar of England in 1198. He married Beatrix, daughter and heiress of Wm. de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, and on the death of his father-in-law was himself raised to the Earldom. He died in 1213.
His grant was witnessed by several influential Northamptonshire men Thomas Abbot of St. James' (who ruled over that house from 1206 to 1220), Simon de Pateshull (died c. 1217), Robert de Braibroc (died 1213-4), and Richard Gobion (died 1230). By comparing these dates we find that the grant must have been made between the years 1206 and 1213.
It is interesting to note in connection with this benefaction, that the rents of the various houses were paid partly in money, and partly in capons and liens. The total rent of 20/- was made up of 19/4 in cash, ten capons and two hens, from which we learn that the capons and hens were worth 8d. in all ; or rather less than three farthings apiece.
From this deed we get another early Northampton place name- Mercers' Row (Reegurn Mercatorum).
That one of the Mercers was a tenant of St. Leonard's Hospital we learn from a 13th century Charter in the Harleian Collection. (11*) The grantor is described as Ricardus Mercator, but his seal bears the inscription Ricardus le Mercer.
From another of these deeds we gather that the Hospital authorities at this time were "sharp men of business," for "in return for twelve shillings of silver which they gave him in his great need," Theobald, son of Robert, son of Ralph of St. Leonards, with the consent of Felicia his wife, granted "to the sick brethren of the Hospital of St. Leonard" an annual rent of 8/1 out of certain (specified) houses. (12) Among the witnesses to this transaction were Ralph, Dean of Billing, Hugh Eves, Master of St. Leonard's Hospital, John the Physician (Medicus), Win. at the Castle Gate (Ad portarn Gastelli), and several members of the De Besseville family.
Two other deeds relate to a grant of land in Pitsford from Ascelin son of Philip, of Pitsford, "to God, the Blessed Mary and the sick brethren and sisters of the house of St. Leonard in Northampton, there serving God, St. Mary and St. Leonard." These are interesting as giving us the names of the Mayor of Northampton (William Tilly), the Master of the Hospital (Hugh Eves) and the two Bailiffs of the town, Roger son of Theobald, and Walter. In later days the Mayor of Northampton was always Master of the Hospital, but in the time of King John this was evidently not the case. Wm. Tilly was Mayor in the reign of Richard I and John; but of Hugh Eves, the Master of St. Leonard's, nothing is known.
In 1220, Hugh de Welles, Bishop of Lincoln, showed his interest in St. Leonard's by granting a relaxation of seven days of penance to all, who (having been confessed and being duly penitent) came to the Hospital and there gave alms for the sustentation of the Lepers. This relaxation, which was granted at Wellingborough, January 21st, 1220, was to last for two years, and was not to take effect outside the Hospital. (12*)
In 1234, Henry III., who was then on a visit to Bittledsden Abbey (March 11), granted his special letters of protection to the Lepers of St. Leonard's, Northampton, for them and their men, with clause Rogamus,(13*) and without term. (13)
In 1245, a serious tragedy occurred at the Hospital of St. Leonard. Brother Henry, an inmate of the Hospital, was found murdered, and Peter de Pidinton and Henry le Ken were arrested on suspicion, and thrown into the King's Prison at Northampton. On July 24th, however, the King sent all order to the Sheriff to admit the two prisoners to bail, as it appeared that it was merely a malicious charge which had been brought against them (apellati sunt otio et atia). (14)
At the close of the same reign (February 13th, 1266-7) royal letters of protection were again granted to the "Prior and Convent" of St. Leonard without Northampton, without clause (sine cZausula) and to last for one year. (15)
In the reign of Edward I a dispute arose between the Vicar of Hardingstone, in whose parish St. Leonard's was situated, and the Master and Brethren of the Hospital, with regard to certain tithes, and the matter was referred to the Bishop. After carefully enquiring into the dispute, he decided in favour of the Hospital, but he reminded the Hospital authorities that the appointment by them alone (without the authority of the Bishop) of a Chaplain to exercise what were to all intents and purposes parochial duties was highly improper, and he ordered that for the future all Chaplains appointed to minister in the Hospital, must be presented to him for institution. Furthermore, in order to safeguard the honour of the Church of Hardingstone, whenever a Chaplain was presented to the Bishop for institution, the candidate had to obtain the consent of the Vicar of that parish, "if it might be had without difficulty." The good people of St. Leonard's had also to pay yearly, at the feast of the Nativity, a pound of wax to the aforesaid Mother Church of Hardingstone for a light.
This award is entered on the roll of Bishop Sutton, and is still preserved at Lincoln. It has never (so far as we are aware) been printed, and we give it here in full
"Stamford, 27 May, Tuesday next after feast of the Holy Trinity, 1282.
"Letters patent of bishop Sutton. Inasmuch as the question is debated before us, Oliver, (16) etc., taking cognisance by our authority as ordinary, between master Roger de Boudon, vicar of Hardingstone, plaintiff (actorem) on one side, and the master and brethren of the leprous folk (magister et fratres leprosorus) of St. Leonard without Northampton, defendants (reos) on the other, touching manual oblations, and small tithes from the gardens (ortis) of the dwellers within the precincts (terminacionem) of the same house of St. Leonard situated in the said parish of Hardingstone, which the vicar has asserted do belong to him of common right, while the other party asserts on the contrary that of very ancient custom (ex longissima consuetudine) they ought to belong to the chapel of St. Leonard; at length after some litigation (post aliqua litis certamina), the vicar and the master and brethren. with the mayor and burgesses of Northampton, who assert that the wardenship (custodiam) of the same house and chapel belong to them of the right and in the name of the lord king, submitted themselves, plainly and without murmur (de piano et absque strepitu), after corporal oath taken to this effect, to our ordination in all and through all, setting aside all allegations, exceptions and cavillings touching the oblations and tithes aforesaid and the status of the same chapel. Verily, even as we esteem it highly that laudable customs which can be suffered by law (tolerari a jure) should be faithfully observed, so we hold it to be of more account to make ancient errors obsolete (errores antiquare vetustos), the which to put into desuetude is to corrupt corruptions. Hearing, then, both by the confession of the parties aforesaid, and by lawful inquiry made faithfully thereof by our authority with the express consent of the same, that all the inhabitants of the proper fee and precinct (proprii feodi et terminacionis) of the same chapel of St. Leonard, of very long time back whereof memory existeth not, have been wont to hear divine service lawfully [celebrated] in the same chapel by their own chaplain of the same, and of their proper right to receive the sacraments of the church in the same; and that the same chapel through all the time aforesaid, so far as concerns its own baptistery and cemetery (quantum ad baptisterium et cimiterium proprium), was wont to have and has the tokens (insignia) of a mother church; and that the same inhabitants of the same precinct have hitherto from of old been wont to pay all their oblations and tithes abovesaid except tithe of wool, white tithes and milk (albi) from animals feeding outside the aforesaid precinct, to the chaplain of the same chapel, together with mortuaries and other parochial rights. All these things by the purport of these presents we ordain henceforward that they ought to be so done, and faithfully observed. But inasmuch as it is utterly foreign to law, and to the institutions of the holy fathers, to set or have a chaplain there, so that he have the cure of souls at the appointment (de deputacione) of private folk, without the authority of the bishop, we decree by these presents in addition to our ordination, that every chaplain who shall minister henceforth in the same chapel shall be canonically presented to us and our successors by the mayor and burgesses aforesaid, who have the wardenship of the same house and chapel of the right and in the name of the lord king, the founder and true patron of the same, that lie may receive such his cure and office from us and our successors. But, in order that competent honour may be reserved to the church of Hardingstone, in the parish whereof the said chapel is said to be constituted with its proper precinct, we decree and ordain (decrevimus ordinando) that, in every future presentation to be made to us and our successors, the assent of the prior and convent of St. Andrew, Northampton, who hold the aforesaid church of Hardingstone to their proper uses Li. 6. are Rectors of the church], and of the vicar of the same church for the time being, be first required, if it may be had without difficulty; and that the inhabitants of the proper precinct of the same chapel be henceforth bound to pay yearly at the feast of the Nativity of our Lord a pound of wax to the aforesaid mother church for a light (pro luminanari); providing that by this our ordination no prejudice be generated by the same inhabitants in any way to the said prior and convent as regards the tithe of lambs and the other things they have been wont to receive from of old. In witness and corroboration of all which things our seal is ,appended to these present deeds (cirograffatis), together with the seals of the aforesaid mayor and vicar, in whose presence this our ordination has been made 'and gratefully accepted by the same. Given at Stamford 27 May, 1282."
It is certainly a curious if not unique arrangement (says Dr. Cox) to find the chapel of a Lazar house thus used for regular parochial purpose's. (16*) Possibly, however, the chapel was older than the Hospital, and had served as a place of worship for the people of Far Cotton before the Hospital was founded. If so the parishioners would still retain their rights in it. As is proved by depositions made in 1567, St. Leonard's had all the adjuncts of an ordinary parish church. It consisted of a nave and chancel (separated from one another by a Rood screen) ; a steeple in which were two bells; and a vestry. It had also (as is here stated by Bishop Sutton) a font and a churchyard or cemetery; and was to all intents and purposes a parish church.
But to return to the dispute between the Hospital and the Vicar Of Hardingstone.
The Mayor and burgesses having won their case proceeded to the choice of a Chaplain, and on July 20th sent the following letter to the Bishop:
"To the Venerable father in Christ, and Reverend Lord, Oliver, by the Grace of God Bishop of Lincoln, his humble and devoted sons in Christ, R. Fitz Henry, Mayor of Northampton, and all other Burgesses of the community of the said Town, greeting, and as to their father obedience, reverence, and honour.
"Whereas the Church of the Lepers of St. Leonard of Northampton was vacant by the departure of the priest who had the cure of souls there and by the consent of those whom it concerns, it was late ordained by you that we should in future present to you a priest to have the cure of souls in the said Church, the consent of the Prior of St. Andrew's, Northampton, and also that of the Vicar of Hardingstone in the matter being first requisite; whose consent being granted we present to you, by these present letters, our beloved in Christ, John de Tuttebury (priest), a man fit to have the cure of souls in the said Church.
"The portion or the stipend of the said presentee, or any other who shall be presented by us to the said Church, is sixty shillings of silver, to be received yearly from our aforesaid community forever.
Wherefore we beseech your paternity to admit our said presentee, with the aforesaid portion (on account of charity), to the said Church, and to establish him canonically in the same. In witness whereof these our letters, sealed with our common seal, we have made patent. Dated at Northampton on Sunday next before the feast of St. Margaret the Virgin [19 July], 1282."
Acting on this presentation the Bishop, a fortnight later (August 4), admitted John de Tuttebury to perform his cure in the said Hospital, due inquiry having been first made by S[tephen], Archdeacon of Northampton, concerning his life, manners and conversation. (17) The new Chaplain then swore canonical obedience to the Bishop, and the following mandate was sent to the Archdeacon, ordering him to induct:
"Oliver, by the providence of God, Bishop of Lincoln, to his son in Christ [Stephen Sutton], (18) Archdeacon of Northampton, or his official, greeting, grace and goodwill. Because we have appointed and canonically established our beloved in Christ John de Tuttebury, Chaplain, on the presentation of the Mayor and Burgesses of the town of Northampton, to the spiritual care of the Hospital of St. Leonard, without Northampton, according to the form of our ordination, which by the express consent of the same Mayor and Burgesses we have lately made concerning the presentation to the said Hospital, we wish you, in whatever manner you can, to cause the said John to have possession of this ministry and cure, in the form aforesaid. Dated at Louth, 4th August, in the third year of our Pontificate."
John de Tuttebury, the new Chaplain of St. Leonard's, did not prove a success. Within six months he was deprived of his office "owing to his ill deserts" (demeritis), and on February 28th, 1282-3, Bishop Sutton, who was then at Canons Ashby, admitted Ralph de Norton as his successor. (191 It is stated in the episcopal records that inquiry had been previously made by the " Dean of the Christiaiiity of Northampton" concerning the person presented~ the manner of his presentation, and as to whether the consent of the Prior and Convent of St. Andrew and of the Vicar of Hardingstone had been obtained according to the form of the bishop's injunctions above mentioned (p.9). As the enquiries proved satisfactory, the new chaplain was duly installed in the Hospital. After holding office for eleven years, Ralph de Norton died in 1294, and on May 12th, Adam de Gynes was admitted by the Bishop to officiate as Chaplain of St. Leonard's (20).
In the same year the Master, Brethren and Sisters of St. Leonard's added to the property of the Hospital, by purchasing from Richard Clerk of Cotis, son of Robert the Shepherd (Bercarias), of Houghton, and Imilia his wife, a messuage in St. Leonard Street (January 28th, 1293--4) ; they also acquired from him an acre of meadow land. (21)
Two years later, in order to make their title to the land more secure, they paid 10/- to Matilda, daughter of the vendor, and Roger le Blund, of Quinton, her husband, who thereupon renounced any claims they might have to the said acre of meadow.
The land in question is described as "lying under the court of Wm. le Waleys (Welchman) and extends in length from the garden of Simon, son of Simon of Cotes, to the river bank of Northampton, next to the meadow 0f the said Hospital." (22) At the same time Henry de Haclynton also renounced any claim lie might have to the same property. (23)
It appears that this purchase was made by the Hospital without the King's permission, and 36 years later the Master and Brethren were proceeded against for a breach of the Statute of Mortinain. (See below).
Not content with these acquisitions the Hospital authorities in 1296 purchased from Robert FitzHenry (24), of Northampton, a virgate of land with meadow, etc.,in Cotes. They gave the large sum of 55 marks for this property, and agreed also to pay an annual rent of a pound of pepper, or 12d, every Michaelinas, and to perform all foreign services due from the said messuage. (25) In the same year (May 26th, 1296), Sir Philip de Quenton, the chief lord, remitted for ever the reserved rent of a pound of pepper just mentioned. (26)
The Hospital authorities appear to have raised a small portion of the purchase money by selling a tenement in the parish of St. Leonard to Richard de Achinston, blacksmith. He paid them 8/- "towards their great business," and a further annual rent of 3/-. The grant was made in the name of Elyas de Catteworth, Master (custos) of the Hospital; and among the witnesses was Richard de Horton, "then bailiff of the Hundred of Wimersley." (27)
About five years later (c. 1301), the Hospital of St. Leonard received a grant of land from a sister house (the well-known Leper Hospital of St. Larzarus at Burton Lazars). It consisted of a toft in the suburbs of Northampton, opposite the church of St. Leonard's Hospital. It was stipulated, however, that the authorities of St. Leonard's should pay an annual rent of 12d. to the Burton Lazars Hospital, "And if it should happen that the money was not paid, the brother or messenger sent to collect the said rent should be ministered to at the expense of St. Leonard's until the rent in question should be paid in full. (28)
In the reign of Edward II, the poor Lepers of St. Leonard's received several other benefactions.
In 1311, Peter de la Rokele gave them two messuages in Coten (Far Cotton) (29), and a year or two later Miles de Beauchamp (de Bello Campo) bestowed upon them six acres of land at Ladybridge, in Wootton fields. (30)
Among the Corporation Archives is an interesting charter recording a grant made by the Hospital on somewhat curious terms. Richard de Stratford (the Master) and the Brethren and Sisters of St. Leonard's, grant to Walter Chaloner and Lecia, his wife, two messuages, at an annual rent of 13/- of silver, and serving us and our successors in baking and preparing our bread in our house aforesaid, as often in the month as we happen to bake, and this at our expense. (31) The document is dated Monday next after the feast of St. Hilary, 11 Edward II. (January 13th, 1317-8).
Early in the reign of Edward III certain judges were sent down to Northamptonshire to hold a General Eyre. These General Eyres differed entirely from the ordinary Assizes or Gaol Deliveries, and did not occur very frequently. Thus the Great Eyre held in Kent in 1313, dealt with cases extending over a period of twenty years; while the Northampton Eyre of 1329 covered a period of thirty years, and in certain instances went back further still.
Whatever they might be in theory, the justices holding these Eyres were little concerned with the administration of justice. They were, in fact, a travelling branch of the Exchequer, with enormous powers of levying money by fines and amercements. One of their many duties was to enquire whether any of the Religious Houses in the county had infringed the Statute of Mortmain by acquiring landed property without the King's permission.
Among the delinquents presented by the jurors of this Eyre of 1329 were the Master and Brethren of St. Leonard's Hospital.
The rolls of this Eyre (32) are still preserved at the Public Record Office, and this is what they tell us about the proceedings :
"The jurors say that the Master of the Hospital of St. Leonard, without Northampton, holds by bequest (ex 'egato) from Alice, formerly wife of Peter de Leicester, of Northampton, six shillings of rent (sex solidalas) with appurtenances in Cotene; and by bequest from Henry de Lungevill, of Northampton, 18 pence rent with appurtenances in the same town; and by bequest from Stephen Osberne, pelterer (pelliparius) of Northampton, and Asselina, his wife, two tenements in the street of the Butchers (in vico carnificum), Northampton, which are worth 6/- a year; and by a bequest of Joan, daughter of Wm. de Burgo, and formerly wife of John Tailor (Gissor), of Northampton, two shillings rent with appurtenances without the South Gate of Northampton; and of the bequest of Robert, son and heir of Miles Marshal (Marescallus), of Newport, one messuage with appurtenances in St. Leonard's Street (in vico Sancti Leonardi), which is worth 2/- a year; and that Richard, the clerk of Cotes, son of Robert the shepherd (Bercarius), of Houghton, and Juliana, (31*) his wife, gave to the same Hospital and the Brothers there one messuage with curtilage and other appurtenances in St. Leonard's Street, worth 2/- a year, and likewise one acre of meadow, which is worth 2/- a year. And also, that the said Master and Brothers for ten years past have acquired for themselves and the Hospital aforesaid, from Richard the Clerk, a certain tenement in Coten, without Northampton, which is worth half a mark (6/8) a year; and from Peter de la Rokele a certain other tenement in the same town, which is worth 2/6 a year; and from Richard Pucher, another tenement worth 10/- a year; and from Sir Philip de Quenton, kt. a pound of pepper, in the same town, worth 12 pence a year, by what warrant they (the jurors) know not. Therefore the Sheriff was ordered to cause the aforesaid Master to appear, etc. Afterwards came John le Waydour, Master of the Hospital aforesaid, and confessed that they held the tenements and rents aforesaid by bequest, gift and purchase of the aforesaid A lice and others, who bequeathed and granted them to the Master and Brothers and poor lepers dwelling there in aid of their sustentation, etc.
"The jurors agree to this. Whereupon he (the Master) is asked by the justices whether he had the King's permission, etc., to which he answers that lie had not. Whereupon, in consideration of the poverty of the aforesaid Lepers, and that the Hospital was founded for the soul of the Lord King and his ancestors, judgment was given for the defeadants, saving always the King's rights, etc."
In 1351, a criminal took sanctuary in the Hospital Chapel of St. Leonard, and while there, was safe from arrest for a period of 40 days. After remaining in the church for seven days, the felon, whose name was Roger the Locksmith, sent for the Coroner and confessed his crime. This is what the Coroner's Roll records about him:
"ST. LEONARD'S HOSPITAL. It happened at Coton (Far Cotton) near Northampton on the feast of the Decollation of St. John Baptist, 25 Edward III. (29 August, 1351), that Roger le Loksmyth of Northampton fled to the church of St. Leonard in Coten. When examined by Wm. de Haldenby, the Coroner, as to why he had taken sanctuary in the church, and whether he was willing to surrender himself to the King's peace (reddere se paci domini Regis), lie confessed that he had stolen a horse worth 4/- at Vardley Hastings on Thursday after the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, 24 Edward III. (5 May, 1350). He abjured the realm aad the port of Dover was assigned to him. Inquest was made by twelve jurors, and the four nearest townships (32*), viz., Coten, Hardingstone, Wootton, Rotherethorpe and Horton, who say on their oath that the said Roger had one anvil (unum antfeld), with mallets (malleolos), iron files, and tongs of iron worth 10s. four dishes (discos) of pewter worth 12d. ; two sheets (linthiamina), and one piece of carpet worth 2s ; two hutches (hugches) worth 18d., for which Northampton will account. He has no lands or tenements." (33)
A criminal who took sanctuary in a church had two alternatives open to He could either surrender himself to justice or he could " abjure the realm," viz., take an oath to quit England for ever. The form of oath administered to an abjuring criminal in Northampton as follows:
"Thus here Sir Crouner that I, R. 0., am a felon of our lorde the Kyng, and felony I have done like as I have confessid to you, etc. Wherefore I forswere the realme of Englond, and that I shall hye me to the porte of Newecastell uppon Tyne the which ye have geven me. And I shall not goo oute of the high weye, and yf I doo I will that I betakyn as a feloun of our saide lorde the Kyng, and att the saide porte I shall aske passage. And I shall not abyde there, but a Flode and a Ebbe if I niaye have passage. And if I may nott hafe pasage I shall every day goo in to the see unto my knees askyng passage. And if I may nott hafe hit in XL. dayes nexte I shall admitte me to the church agayne Os a feloun of our seide lorde the Kyng, soo helpe me God and All Seyntys, etc." (34)
As a matter of fact, this particular criminal was despatched, not to Newcastle, but to Dover, and made his way in due course to France. As a rule we hear no more of the abjuring malefactor, but in the case of Roger the Locksmith, we are fortunately able to follow him on his way. He took service under Henry Duke of Lancaster, and for nine years fought the King's battles valiantly in France. At last, on November 30th, 1360, as a reward for his services, he received the King's pardon, and was allowed, if he chose, to return once more to his native land. (35)
In 1379, John Griffyn of Oxendon was presented by the Mayor and 24 Burgesses of Northampton "to the perpetual chantry in the chapel of the Leper Hospital of St. Leonard near Northampton." He was instituted by the Bishop on December 21st with special proviso that he should serve in person, and maintain, to the best of his ability, all the rights, etc. of the said chapel. (36)
After ministering in the Hospital for eight years he came to an untimely end, for on Thursday before the Translation of St. Thomas the Martyr (July 5th, 1386) he was killed by one of the sisters of the Hospital. The Coroners' Rolls for this year, which would doubtless have thrown light upon the tragedy, are unfortunately lost, but it was probably the result of an accident, for on November 7th, 1387, the King of his special favour, granted a free pardon to Lucy, sister of the house of St. Leonard, Northampton, for the death of John Oxendon, chaplain, of which she was indicted, cited or accused, and of any consequent "waiver " (37) (waiviariam) arising therefroni. (38)
The death of John Oxendon, however, evidently led to other complications. There is no record at Lincoln of the institution of a new chaplain, but it would appear that the King took the Hospital for the time being into his own hands. On February 5th (1389-90) he granted to Wm. Rythyn, clerk, the custody (custodiam) of the Hospital of St. Leonard, Northampton, for his life, together with all the rights and appurtenances appertaining to the said Hospital. (38*)
He did not, however, long retain it, for just six years later (January 22nd, 1395-6) Richard Howet de Wymynton was instituted by Bishop Buckingham to the "perpetual chantry" of St. Leonard's, void by the resignation of Wm. Rodston (?Rythyn). The new chaplain was presented by Henry Caysoo, Mayor of Northampton, and the 24 Burgesses, and was admitted in the person of John Elsham, his proctor. (39)
Richard Howet only held office for eighteen months, and was followed in rapid succession by nine other chaplains, the last being Richard Barkar, who was instituted on October 29th, 1415.
After this 110 further institutions to St. Leonard's are recorded at Lincoln ; and it would appear that the Mayor and Burgesses resumed their old habit of putting their own chaplain into the Hospital from time to time, without consulting the Bishop. The restlessness of the last recorded chaplains seems to show that it was only a poor benefice, and it is very probable that after Richard Barkar's time no one could be found to take his place as a permanence.
Towards the close of the 14th century a book of the Customs Of Northampton was compiled, and the original is now preserved among the Additional Manuscripts (40) in the British Museum.
It is written in French, and contains at least one interesting reference to the Hospital of St. Leonard. By chapter XLVII. it was provided that "No butcher or other person should sell any tainted meat; nor flesh of dead goats, nor entrails of sheep or oxen, nor heads of calves or oxen, nor any such vile things, under pain of the pillory; and if such things be found in any other place exhibited for sale, they shall be forfeited to the use of the bailiffs and the unwholesome meat shall be given to the sick men of St. Leonard's."
In the 15th century a new Custumary was drawn up, and is still preserved among the archives of the Corporation of Northampton. The earlier portion of this volume agrees exactly with the first book, except that the French has been translated into English. (41) As specimens of early French and English chapter 47 is here given verbatim from the two books.
"Parvenu est ensement ke nul macecref (sic) (42) ne altre vende char sussemee freche ne char de chevere morte ne chauduns (42*) de motouns ne de bofs ne testes de veus ne de bofs ne teu manere de viles choses for ke desouz le pillory; e si iceles choses seient trovcez en altre leu avendre seient perdues al eus les ballifs e les chars sussemeez seient donez a les malades de' Seint Leonard. " (43) (British Museum Custumary of Northampton.)
"Allso hit is purveide that no bocher nor other sellen sussemy (44) flessh fresh ne fiessh of a dede gote ne calidiouns (42*) of a shepe nor Nete nor hedys of calveren nor of nete nor such manere of fowle thynges But under the pillorie and if tho thynges ben I founden in other stedis for to sellen Be thei loste to the bailliffs profite and the susmy to be geven to seke men of Seynt Leonardis." ("Liber Custumarum," f. 22 d.)
This plan of granting forfeited victuals to the sick in hospitals was not confined to Northampton. It is found in early days at Oxford, Cambridge, Maldon and various other places. (45) At Sandwich, "all forfeitures (forisfacturas) of fish and flesh sold contrary to the ordinances of the town of Sandwich; hogs running about the streets and killed there; and all birds (aves) found swimming in the Common Water (Communi aqua)" were given to the Hospital of St. John, in Sandwich. (46)
One of the provisions of the Charter of Forests was that the flesh of all deer found dead or wounded in the forests should be sent to the nearest Leper Hospital. Mr. G. J. Turner, in his Select Pleas 0/the Forest, gives several instances of the flesh of does killed by poachers in Rockingham Forest being sent to the Leper Hospital at Thrapston, in the years 1246, 1248 and 1253. (47) Dr. Cox, in his Royal Forests of England, mentions a similar case which occurred in the Forest of Claughton in 1293. In this instance a buck killed by a poacher was given to the Lepers of Lancaster. The same writer also cites the case of a doe killed near Benetield, Northamptonshire, in 1301 (48), the flesh of which was sent to the Lepers of St. Leonard's Hospital at Cotes, in the parish of Cottingham. The skin of the deer in each of these cases was kept by the forest officials to be shewn to the Itinerant Justices at the next Hyre.
In the middle of the 15th century, there were still evidently several lepers in the principal Northampton Lazar House, for by a deed dated March 26th, 1443, James Walker of Coton, "Milner," granted to Robert Longe, Master of the House or Hospital of St. Leonard in Coton, and the Brethren and Sisters of the same, an annual rent of eight pence, arising out of his messuage in Coton. (49)
Just thirty years later, however, the Mayor and 24 Burgesses calmly reduced the number of lepers to one. On March 23rd, 1472-3, they granted a lease to John Pecke, of Kingsthorpe (doubtless for a considerable sum of money) handing over to him the whole Hospital, together with all lands, houses, rents, etc. pertaining to it, and the chapel of St. Thomas on the South Bridge of Northampton, for the term of his life. They stipulated that he should pay the chaplain of the Hospital an annual stipend of eight marks, or else provide him with meat and drink and pay him four marks a year and three yards of cloth of decent colour (coloris racionabilis). He was also to allow the said chaplain the dwelling-place (manswm) in the Hospital specially provided for him. Furthermore, he was to pay to one male or female leper (eteidam leproso vel leprose) fivepence a week; and once in a year two gammons of bacon (pernas baconi) and one bushel of oatmeal (farine avenarum).
The tenant also undertook to pay all ordinary and extraordinary rents and services and to keep in good repair the church and buildings. He was not to fell any trees on the Hospital property without the consent of the Mayor, and then only for the necessary repairs of the church and buildings. If he failed to keep the buildings in good repair the Mayor and 24 Burgesses were empowered (after giving him a year's warning) to re-enter upon the premises.
This iniquitous arangement, by which a considerable part of the income of the Hospital was diverted to private uses, lasted for 33 years, but on the death of John Pecke in 1504 (50), steps were at once taken by the town authorities to prevent any similar abuse of the charity.
It was provided that for the future every incoming Mayor should take the following oath:
"SACRAMENTUM HOSPITALIS SANCTI LEONARDI. (51) Ye shall swere that ye shall welle and treuly kepe and governe the hospytall of Seynt Leonardes the Abbot in Coton by sydes Norhampton which hath byn mysseused and evyll governed and gevyn awey contrary to the Fyrste graunte therof in tymes passed. Therefore hit is provided and ordeynd by Bobarde Shefforde, Meyre of the seide Town of Norhampton  and the comburgessez and comynalte havyn assented and conducended of on hole wynde and aggrement by the corporacon of the seide Town That in no maner of wise From this tyme Foiwarde that the seide hospytall of Seint leonarde shalbe gevyn graunted or to ferine sette to any maner parsone or pa rsones in tyme comyng, But that hit shalle all'veys Remayne for evermore in the Meyres hondes for the tyme beyng comburgesses and comynyalte Accordyng to theire Fyrst gialinte. And also that they may chose and electe of theym selfez II of the Meyres Brethern to have the Rule ,oversight and goode governaunce of the forseide hospitall. Also underneth them oon Bailly to Rere, levy and receyve therof all maner Rentis, annytees, With all and synguler other appurtenauncez to the forseide hospitall Apperteynyng and belongyng. And that the seid Wardens and Overseers with the seide Bailly ones in the yere within on inonyth after the Fest of Natyvite of oure lorde next commyng that they do make their due and lawfull accomptez how they have Reulid and governed the goodys of the seide place for that yere beyng and how they byn employed to the Universall weale of the same to your connyng and power, so helpe you God and All Seyntes and by that boke, etc."
This Mayor's oath is taken from the British Museum Custumary of Northampton, which, though older than the version now at Northampton, contains many later additions, some of which are not found in the Northampton version.
At the beginning of the 16th century St. Leonard's was still used as a parish church. In 1500, Joyce Jacob left her body to be buried in the cemetery of St. Leonard's in Coton (in cimeterio ecelesie Sancti Leonardi de Coton) (52); and a few years later (1528) Wn. Swynshed also left his body to be buried there. (53)
Bequests to this church or hospital occur but rarely in the wills of Northamptonshire folk, hut the following have been noted:
- In 1369, Sir Henry Grene, of Boughton, Kt., bequeathed "to the Hospital of St. Leonard without Northampton, 100/-" (54) (equivalent to £60 or £70 at the present value of money); and John Wederhurd, Merchant of the Staple of Calais, left 6/8 "to the church of St. Leonard without the South Gate." (55)
- Joyce Jacob, in 1500, left "to the light of St. Leonard there XXd." and Elizabeth Newman by will dated 1513 gave sixpence "to the reparacions of the churche of Seynt Leonard." (56) Wm. Swynshed, in 1528, bequeathed to the high altar of St. Leonard's XIId., and for a "mortuary" he left his best quycke catch (jive stock)"(57); while Wni. Bowude, in 1535, bequeathed " to the Hospitall of Saint Leonard my ~ta1l in the fish stalls nowe in the tenure of Williaiu Noble, fishmonger, for ever."(58)
From a Clerical Subsidy, or Taxation Roll (still preserved among the muniments at Lincoln Cathedral) we learn the name of the chaplain of St. Leonard's in 1526. It was Master Wm. Borowe (59), who received a stipend of £3 6s. 8d. as chaplain, and also added considerably to his income by acting as a schoolmaster (preceptor seole), for which he was paid £6 13s. 4d. (60)
In the famous Ecclesiastical Survey of 1534, known as the Valor Ecciesiasticus, the gross income of St. Leonard's was returned at £12 4s. 8d. Out of this the following quit-rents had to be paid each year:
To the Mayor of Cambridge, 10/-.
To Sir John Dyve, Kt., 2/6.
To John Robyns, 1/6.
To the Master of Burton Lazars' Hospital, 12d.
To the Abbot of Sulby, 12d.
To the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, 2/-.
This left the Hospital with a net income of £11 6s. 8d. Of this 26/8 was paid in alms to a certain poor leper woman (cuidarn muliere paupercule et leprose) in accordance with the foundation. The remaining £10 appears to have gone into the coffers of the Corporation of Northampton, if no repairs to the buildings were necessary.
Eleven years later (December 15th, 1545) an Act of Parliament was passed by which all Hospitals, Collegiate foundations, etc., were vested in the Crown. Commissioners were at once appointed to enquire into the property of the various institutions which thus accrued to the King, and a set of interrogatories or questions was sent down to every Hospital and College, which the authorities of each were compelled to answer. The report with regard to St. Leonard's was as follows:-
Seynct Leonardis Hospitale.
Founded by R. de Stafforde, High Steward of England, and geven to the Maiour and XXIIII. Burgeses of the towne of Northampton in franke almoygne, to thentent to fynde one leper in the seid Hospitall for ever.
The churche belonging to the seid Hospitall Is no parishe Churche.
The valew of the Landes yoeven (given) to the mauntenaunce of the seid hospitall Xli. XVs. IXd.
The valewe of the Juells belonging to the same Hospitall XXVIs. VIlId.
Over and besides one vestement not valued. (61)
Henry VIII died shortly after the passing of this iniquitous act of confiscation, the result being that the majority of the Hospitals and Colleges escaped for a year. St. Leonard's, however, was one of the first to be seized, and it remained in the King's hands till the second year of Edward VI.
On March 18th of that year (1548-9) the King granted to Francis Samwell and Wm. Bill a large amount of confiscated College and Hospital property situated in Northampton and elsewhere. (62)
Among the items was "the late chapel (capella) of St. Leonard in the parish of Hardingstone, together with all walls, stone, glass, iron, lead, timber, tiles (tegula), and bells, being or remaining in and upon the said chapel ; also the churchyard (cimeterium) of the same chapel."
The price paid for the whole grant was £435 11s. 4d. The exact amount given for St. Leonard's is not stated; but from the " Particulars for Grants," now preserved in the Public Record Office, we get the following information with regard to this chapel
"There is upon the said chapel III fowder of lead Ratyd at IIII li. a fonder (total) XIIli. ; and two belles weinge IlIc. di. (3 1/2 hundred weight) at XVIs. the hundred LVIs. ; the tymber, stone, glasse and yerne valewyd at XLs. (total) XIIIIli. XVIs. Md that the chappell hathe not byn occupied this v yeres." (63)
This valuation is dated January 28th, 2 Edward VI. ; while the valuation of the cemetery of St Leonard, which follows immediately after in the document, bears date February 1st, 3 Edward VI. (64) The cemetery was valued at 2/4 a year and was sold at ten years' purchase. (65)
Chaplains of St Leonard's Hospital
John de Tuttebury, August 4th, 1282 (1), deprived 1282. Ralph de Norton, February 28th, 1282-3. (2) Roger died 1294. (3) Adam de Gynes, May 12th, 1294 (3), died 1305. Win. de Coten, July 28th, 1305 (4), died 1326. Robert de Duston, December 6th, 1326. (5) Robert Hert de Santre, October 17th, 1358 (6), resigned 1368. John de Thrapston, December 20th, 1368 (7), resigned 1379. John Griffyn de Oxendon, December 21st, 1379 (8), killed July 5th, 1386.(8a) William Rodston (9) resigned 1395. (10) Richard ilowet de Wymynton, January 22nd, 1395-6 (10), resigned 1397. Nicholas Nycoll de Northampton, August 6th, 1397 (1 1), resigned 1398. John Attewodde de Nassh', August 28th, 1398 (12), exchanged for Little Brickill, Bucks., 1402. John Mersh, September 16th, 1402 (13), exchanged for Ash Wicken Vicarage (Norwich) 1405. Wm. Reynald, September 20th, 1405 (14), resigned 1406. John Littester de Tikhill, January 18th, 1406-7 (15), resigned 1407. Wm. Beynald, October 12th, 1407 (16), exchanged for Vicarage of Thrussington, 1408. John Sherman, March 5th, 1408-9 (17), resigned 1410-11. (18) Thoinas Gamull, February 19th, 1410-11(19), died 1415. Richard Barkar, October 29th, 1415. (20) Wm. Borowe, M. A., 1526 (occurs). (21)
The Hospital Seal
The Seal of St. Leonard's Hospital (of which there is a fine sulphur cast in the British Museum) is of 15th century date. In shape it is pointed oval, and measures 2 3/8 inches x 1 3/8 inches. St. Leonard the Abbot is represented standing in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides, and carrying a pastoral staff in his left hand. In the base is a shield of arms: On a mount a barbican gate, between in chief a crown and in base five trefoils-three and two.
The inscription reads as folows :- S. + COE + DOMVS + SCT + LEONARDI + IVXTA + NORHAMPTON.
The later history of St Leonard's Hospital
As has been stated above, St. Leonard's Hospital fell a victim to the Act of confiscation passed December 15th, 1545; and at the beginning of the reign of Edward VI, we learn from a Clerical Subsidy Roll that the whole of the income (integros fructus) (5) was appropriated to the use of the crown. Shortly afterwards (March 18th, 2 Edward VI. ), the property was granted to Francis Samwell, of Northampton, Gent. (5*)
The new owner at once entered upon the premises and gave orders for the immediate demolition of the Chapel of St. Leonard, together with that of St. Catherine, which he had purchased at the same time.
Against this, the Mayor and Corporation of Northampton (who claimed these two chapels as their own special property) vigorously protested, and they were not long in taking serious action against this infringement of their rights. Within a very few weeks the following petition was presented in their name to the Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, who was responsible for the sale of all confiscated Hospital and Chantry lands:-
"To the right wyrshipfull Sir Richard Sakevyle, Knight, Chauncellor of the King's most honorable corte of thaugmentacons [the augmentations] of the Revenues of his crowne.
In most humble wyse shewen and complaynen unto yor good mastershippe yor daylie oratours the Mayer and Coburgesses of the Towne of Northampton in the Countie of Northampton, That whereas your said oratours and their predicessours ar and have ben lawfullie seased by good and lawfull conveyance in the lawe by the space of this foure hundreth yeres past and more of the hospitall of Saint Lenardes in Cotton Ende adjoynyng to the said towne of Northampton, and of certen landes and tenementes to the said hospitall apperteyning and belonginge, within which said Hospitall their is, and allwaies haythe ben used to be kept, according to the foundacon of the same, one poore leprose man or one leprose woman at the appoyntment, finding and charge of the Mayer and Coburgesses of the said Town of Northampton, and within the which said Hospitall their is and hayth ben by like contynuance one churche yarde and one chappell within the same, wheras the said leprose persones have used to heare their dyvine service, and to Receave the holie coniunion, and to be buried after their Deathes by any suche chaplen as the said Mayer and ~oburgesses of the said towne for the tyme being wolld appoynt unto the same; And the whiche said chappell was allwayes Repayred at the costes and charges of the said Mayer and Coburgesses of the said towne of Northampton, and no other persone.
[The next section refers to the chapel of St. Catherine and is here omitted].
So yt is right worshipful) Mr. Chauncellor that one Francis Samwell of Northampton aforesaid, Gent., under the pretence that he haythe purchased of the kinges majestie, as he reportethe, as well the said chappell of Saint Kateryns, as also the churcheyard of Saint Katerines, and also the said chappell of Saint Lenardes, and the ehurcheyard of the said chappell, wolide have plucked down and defaced the said two chappells, to the great damage of all the inhabitants of the said towne of Northampton and against all right and equytie. In consideracon whereof may yt please your good mastershipp to awarde the kinges gracous letters under his grace's privey seale unto the said Francis Samwell, commaunding hym thereby personalle to appeare before your good mastershippe, in the kinges most honorable corte of the Augmentacon of the Revenues of his Crowne, at a celten daye, and under a certen payne therein to be conteyned, then and their to make answer unto the premysses, and to abyde suche further order therein as to your mastershipp shalbe thowght to stande with right and conscience. And your said oratoures shall daylie praye to Godd for the preservacon of your mastershippe, long to prospere and eontynewe." (6)
A petition such as this could not be ignored and special Commissioners were appointed to enquire into the matter. They were all local men, who would therefore be well acquainted with the facts. The first was Wm. Arniysted (7), one of the Masters in Chancery, who had been Vicar of All Saints, Northampton, from 1545 to 1547, and at the time of the enquiry was Rector of Kislingbury. Next came Francis Morgan, another lawyer, who was Recorder of Northampton in 1553, and a Justice of the King's Bench in 1558. The other two members of the Commission were Lawrence Washington (who had been Mayor of Northampton in 1545) and Robert Catlyn.
They summoned before them Henry Clerke, the Mayor, and five other of the most important citizens of Northampton, all of whom were destined within the next few years to hold office as Chief Magistrate of the Borough. (8)
The following questions were administered to them :-
Interogatories in the behalf of our Sovereign lorde the Kynge to be ministred unto Henry Clerke, Maire of Northampton, Lawrence Manley, Nicholas Rande, [John] Browne, and Rauf Freman of the seid Towne of Northampton, concernyng the chapell of Saint Kateryne within the seid towne and also the chapel of Saynt Leonerds nygh unto the seid Towne.
[The first four questions deal with St. Catherines].
5. Also who was the First Founder of the chapell of Seynt Leonards nygh unto the seyd Towne, and to what entent the same was Founded, and how long it is syns the same was buyldyd?
6. Wether there is nat in the seid chapell a Qwere [Quire] with the Bodye of a church, and also a Steple wherein dyd hang too Bells, besydes a Vestrye that was covered with leadde adjoynyng unto the seid chapell, wiche Vestrye was solde by Henry Neale of the forseid Towne of Northampton by the space of VIII yeres past or ther about.
7. Allso who is patron of the seid chapell and what stipende ought or bath byn gyvyn to a prest to serve there and by whom and how the prest hath byn inductyd into the seid chapell: (9)
HENRY CLERK of Northampton in the countie ot Northampton, Mayer of the seid Towne, of the age of 50 yeres or ther abouts, sworn and examytied the XVIth day of May anno tercio Regis Edwardi VIti saith upon his othe:
"To the Vth article lie saith that he knoweth not who was Founder of the chapell of Seynt Leonard nyght to the seid towne but the corporacon of the seid towne byndeth them to fynd a lazar man or a lazar woman for the said chapell and to non other entent, and that the seid chapell of Seynt Leonard was bylded ccc or cccc yeres gon, as this deponent renienibreth by the sight of the evydences of the seid towne.
"To the VIth article he saith that ther was a particon bytwene the Quere and the body of the churche and a litle steple, wherin dyd hang too bells, besides a vestry; which vestry was covered with led, adjoynyng to the seid chapell, which chapell is and ever hath byn called the Hospitall of Seynt Leonard; and whether the seid vestry was sold or put to the Pepparacon of the condyte of the seid towne this deponent knoweth not, but it was don about the tyme that Henry Neale was Mayer of the seid towne.
"To the VIIth article he saith that the Mayer of the seid towne for the tyme beyng is patron of the seid Hospital, and not bounde to fynd any prest ther, but at the pleasure of the mayer; which mayer was wont to geve hym XLs. a yere to wayte apon [him] in his howse and mete and drynke and some tyme to syng at the seid Hospitall at the pleasure of the mayer and so mayntened by the mayer ther. And also he saith that the eeld preest had never induccon by ordynary, nor by any other."
NIGHOLAS RAND of Northampton, draper, of the age of 58 yeres or thereabouts, deposed
"To the Vth article he saith that the Hospital of Seynt Leonard nyghe unto the towne of Northampton was geven to the Mayer and xxiiii Co-burgeses of the seid towne, and gianuted by dede to thentent to kepe a lazar man or a lazar woman; and by the seid dedes it appereth the same Hospitall to be founded and buylded a ccc yeres past at lest.
"To the VIth article he saith that ther is (sic) a particon bytwene the Qwere and the body of the churche of the seid Hospitall and a litle steple with ii bells in it, and a viii yeres past ther was a vestry covered with led adjoynyng to the seid chapell or churche, plucked downe by Henry Neale then Mayer of the seid towne and his Coburgesses to the use of the towne and the profltts therof comyng so counted.
"To the VIIth and last article he saith that the Mayer and xxiiii Co- burgesses of the seid towne be patrons of the seid Hospitall. Some that was mayer of the seid towne wold have a chapleyn to wayte upon hym and the same chapleyn shuld some tyme syng there, which had XLs. a yere at the moost that lie knoweth and mete and drynk if he wold come to it; and some mayeres wold have no chapleyn at all and then none preest sung ther; and ferther more he deposeth that the seid preest had never ynduccon in the seid churche and more he knoweth not."
JOHN BROWN of Northampton, glover, of the age of 56 yeres or ther abouts, deposed
"To the Vth article he saith that the chapell of Seynt Leonard nygh Northampton is an Hospitall and that it is so called and it was geven to the Mayer and his brethern and xxiiii Coburgeses of the seid towne to the entent to fynd ther a lazar man or a lazar woman; and as this deponent hath herd by the evydences thereof he thynketh [it] to be nere cccc yeres past that the seid Hospitall was buylded.
"To the VIth article he saith that ther is (sic) [a] particon bytwene the queer of the seid Hospitall and the bodyc of the churche; and that ther is a litle steple wherin dyd hang ii bells, besydes a litle vestry; but whether it was covered with led or not, this deponent knoweth not; nor whether it be pluckd downe or not, but as he hath herd say.
"To the VIIth article he saith that the Mayer and the xxiiii Coburgesses be founders of the seid Hospitall and some of the mayers of the seid towne have used to have a chaplen and some not, but they that hath had chapleynes have geven XLs. a yere and mete and drynk to syng in the seid Hospitall once or twyse a wyke, at the pleasure of the mayer and never had induccon in the same, but the mayer myght put in or out whom he lyst of the seid preestes at all tymes; and ferther more he deposeth that the seid preest had never instytucon."
RAUF FREEMAN of Northampton, marchaunt of the staple of Caleys, of the age of 47 yeres or above, deposed
"To the Vth article he saith that he knoweth not who was the first founder of the chapell and Hospitall of Seynt Lenard nygh unto the seid towne, but he thynketh that it appereth by the towne writtyngs who is founder therof, and it was geven to the seid Mayer, his brethern and the xxiiii Coburgeses to thentent to fynd a lazar man or lazar woman; and he thynketh that it is about cccc yeres past syns the same was fyrst buylded.
"To the VIth article he saith that ther is a particon bytwene the queer and the body of the seid church, and also a litle steple wherin hath byn too bells, but whether they remayn ther styll or not this deponent knoweth not, nor he knoweth whether ther hath byn any vestry therto belongyng or not.
"To the VIIth and last article he saith that the said Mayer, his brethern and Coburgeses be patrons of the seid Chapel or Hospitall, and if it pleas the mayer of the seid towne to have a chaplen then he geveth hym mete and drynk, but what money he knoweth not; which chaplen the mayer assigneth to syng ther at his pleasure; which preest had never ynduccon, and more he knoweth not."
JOHN BALGAY of Northampton, haberdasher, of the age of 36 yeres or ther aboutes, deposed
"To the Vth article he saith that he knoweth not the fyrst founder of the Hospitall of Saynt Lenard nygh Northampton, for it [is] so called and not the Chapell of St. Leonard, but the evydences ther of make mencon who was founder therof; and the same Hospitall [torn oft] of the seid towne and his coburgeses to thentent to fynd a lazar man or a lazar woman tiler and how long it was syns the same Hospitall was buylded this deponent knoweth not.
"To the VIth article he saith that there was a particon and a rode lofte bytwene the Quere and the body of the churche o] the seid Hospitall, and there was a litle steple wherin dyd hang ii or iii bells and a vestry covered with led adjoynyng to the seid churche; which vestry was pluckd downe about a ix yeres past, and hee thynketh that Henry Neale was Mayer then, and he thynketh that the profitts that came therof was bestowed to thuse of the towne by the advyce of the mayer.
"To the VIIth and last article he saith that the Mayer and his Co-burgeses be patrons of the seid Hospitall as he thynketh and they be not bounde to flynd a preest there, but some that hath byn mayers of the seid towne wold have a chaplen and some not; but they that had chaplens wold gave hym mete and drynk and XLs. wages some tyme paid by the chamberleyne of the seid towne which was geven to the chaplen to wayte upon. the mayer, and some tyme the mayer would comaund hym say masse ther, which was at his pleasure, but he myght have chosen (sic); and he thynketh that the preests have not byn inducted in the same, nor by busshop nor ordynary, and more herin he can not depose."
The Commissioners took some time to consider the matter, but at length on May 20th, 1550, they made the following award, which was in the nature of a compromise.
Award concerning the Hospital 0f St. Leonard and the Chapel of St. Catherine.
"To all Crysten Peple to whom this present award Indented shall come William Armysted, Clarke, one of the Masters of the Chancery, Francis Morgan, Robert Catlyn, and Lawrence Wasshyngton, Gent., send greatynge in the lord God everlastynge, Where contencyon and sute hath bene between the Maior and Cooburgenses of the Towne of Northampton on thou partie and Frauncys Saniwell, Gent., on thother partie, for and concernynge the Chappell of Saynt Lennard with the Churchyard lyinge in Cotton End nygh unto the said Towne of Northampton; and also for and concernynge the Chappell of Saynt Katheryne with the Churchyard of the same lyinge within the said Towne of Northampton, the wiche said Two chappells and church- yardes the said Frauncys claymeth and affyrmeth to have bought and purchased to hym and to his heires of the Kynge our Sovereigne lord by his suffycient lettres patents bearynge date the xviii0 day of March in the third [second] yere of his Majesties Raygne sealed with the great seale of England; and for appeasynge of which varyaunces, sutes and debates the said partyes hathe submytted them selfs to stand to obey and performe the awarde, arbytrement and judgment of us the aforesaid William Armysted, Frauncys Morgan, Robert Catlyn and Lawrence Wasshyngton, wherupon we the said arbytrators percyvynge and hearynge the Tytles and Allegacons of bothe the said parties, do ordre, gyve and make this our present award concernynge the premysses in manner and forme followynge, that is to say
First that the said Chappell of Saynt Katherine, with the churche yarde of the same shall remayn and be keapt repared and maynteyned by the Maior and Burgenses of the said Towne of Northampton and their successors for ever unto thuse (the use) and behouf of all thinhabytauntes dwellynge within the paryshe of All Sayntes in Northampton aforesaide as a Chappell of Ease, to thentent the comunyon may be ther mynystred to such as shalbe infected with disease within the parysshe of All Sayntes within the said Towne of Northampton, And also that the said churche yard shall for ever be used as a place of buryall for such persones as shall die within the said paryshe of All Sayntes and to no other private uses. And for this that the said Chappell of Saynt Katheryne is nowe suniwbat defaced and the windows thereof broken, We the said arbitrators do award that the said Maior and Inhabytants of the said paryshe shall within one yere and a day next ensuynge after the makynge of theis presentes Reedyfye the said chappell agayne and make the same in all manner of thinges apte and meate at tyme and tymes for the comunyon ther to be mynystered, And that the said Maior and Burgenses and the Inhabytauntes now of the said paryshe of All Sayntes, or hereafter for to be, or any other person or persons for or in their name or names, or by their assignment, procurement, assent, or consent, shall not transpose, dymynyshe, purloine, embesyll, plucke down or deface to their owne private uses or otherwyse any lead, stone, tymber, or any other thynge apperteynynge to the said Chappell of Saint Katheryne, And yf that they shall fortune at any time so to do, That then the Maior for the time beynge and Cooburgenses of the said Towne of North- ampton with the inhabytauntes of the said paryshe of All Sayntes shall forfete and pay unto the said Frauncys Saniwell, his heires, executors and assignes Ten poundes of currant money for their faut in doynge or consentynge to the premysses before expressed.
Also we, the said arbitrators do further award by theis presentes that the said Maior and Coburgenses of the said Towne of Northampton shall have, to them and to their successors for ever, the Chappell of Saynt Leonarde with the churche yard wherein the said Chappell is scytuate to such use and intent as they shall thynke mete and expedyent by their dyscressyons and in Consideracon and Recompense of the said Chappells and churche yardes, we, the said arbitrators do award that the said Maior and Coburgenses shall pay unto the saide Frauncys Saniwell or to his executors or assignes fortie and one pounde of good and lawfull money of England within twelf days next eusnynge the makynge of theis presentes, And yf the said Maior and Co- burgenses or the Chamberleyns of the said Towne of Northampton shall fortune to make any sale of any of the leade now beynge or remaynynge upon the Chappell of Saint Lennardes aforesaide, That then the said Frauncys Samwell shall have one Fooder of the same leade paynge to them therfor fyve poundes of curraunt money and no more.
And we, the said arbytrators do further award by theis presentes that the said Frauncys Saniwell shall make unto the said Maior and Coburgesses of the said Towne of Northampton and to their sucessors for ever as good and as suffycynt estate and graunte in the lawe in fee symple of the said chappelles and church yardes as the said Frauncys Sainwell bath in the same by vertue of the said lettres patentes of our said sovereigne lord the Kynge at such tyme, and in such manner and forme as shalbe devysed and required by the said Maior and Co- burgesses or by their counsell lerned in the lawe, and at the costes and charges in the lawe of the saide Maior and Coburgesses, so that the same devyse do not extend for or to any dyscharge, acquytate or warrante, but only ageynst the said Frauncys and his heires ageynst hym and his heires only, and suche as have anything in the premisses by or from the said Frauncys, And that this our present award shall remayn and be in full strength for ever.
In wytnes whereof we the said arbytrators to this our present award have putte our sealles the XXth day of Maye in the fourthe yere of the Reign of our sovereign lord Edward the Syxt, by the grace of God of Englond, Fraunce and Ireland Kynge, defender of the faith and in Erth of the Churche of England and also of Ireland the supreme heade.
(Signed) Per me Wm. Armisted. Per me Robertum Catlyn, Francis Morgan, Lawrence Wasshyngton."
This compromise was duly carried out and this old municipal charity, in a somewhat altered form, took a new lease of life, and continued to exist for another three centuries.
Early in the reign of Elizabeth the Hospital was involved in a fresh law suit. It arose in this way:
In 1567, the officials of the office of Tenths and First Fruits, in looking over the accounts of Edmund Scanibler, Bishop of Peterborough (collector of the clerical tenths in Peterborough Diocese) discovered from certain books of arrears that the Hospital of St. Leonard, Northampton, had paid no tenths for eight years. The sum of £8 was therefore demanded from the Hospital at the rate of 20/- a year.
On June 10th, 1567, John Balgay, Gent., appeared in person before the officials of the Court and in the name of the Mayor and 24 Burgesses of Northampton, Masters or Wardens (Magistri sive Custodes) of the Hospital of St. Leonard, "asked to hear the premisses." "Which being read to him and by him heard and understood, the said John Balgay pleaded that the said £8 claimed from them for tenths was not due, nor should any part or parcel of the same, nor any sum be charged upon them for tenths, because by an Act of Parliament passed in the first year of Queen Elizabeth restoring the Tenths and First Fruits to the Crown, it was specially enacted that all Hospitals were to be exempt from the payment of tenths and first fruits. lie stated that the said Hospital of St. Leonard at the time of the passing of the said Act and long before, was used, and the possessions thereof applied, for the relief (relavamine) of one leper; and that one leper (unus leprosus) or man afflicted with a bad disease (homo mala infirmitate infectus) was, and is sustained in the said Hospital, according to the foundation of the same."
On June 21st, 1567, a writ was sent by the Barons of the Exchequer to the Mayor and 24 Burgesses of Northampton commanding them to send an account of the foundation and erection of the Hospital, and to state whether the Hospital was founded and used, and the possessions thereof applied, on or before the said 23rd January, 1 Elizabeth, for the relief of the poor; and also how many poor persons (pauperes) were sustained in the said Hospital. To which, answer was made by the Mayor and 24 Burgesses under their official seal, that the Hospital was founded by a certain U. de Stafford, formerly High Steward (Senescallus) of England, and given to the Mayor and Burgesses of Northampton for the sustentation there of one leper man or leper woman (unius leprosi vel leprose) in perpetual alms, ~ more fully appears by the charter of the said R. de Stafford, given in sane mind. And that the aforesaid Hospital and the possessions thereof were used on or before 23rd January, 1 Elizabeth, to and for the relief of one leper; and that one leper is now sustained there. Dated 25th June, 10 Elizabeth (1568); all which statements the said John Balgay is prepared to prove.
The Attorney General, Gilbert Gerrard, acknowledged the statements aforesaid to be true. The claim of the Exchequer was therefore dismissed, and the Hospital declared exempt from the payment of tenths. (10) The Tenths and First Fruits alluded to in this case were not taxes in the ordinary sense of the word. Previous to the Reformation the first year's income of every ecclesiastical benefice (except certain poor ones which were specially exempted) was payable to the Pope, and also a tenth part of the income of the succeeding years.
In 1532, and again in 1534, Acts were passed by Parliament forbidding any further payments of this kind to the Pope and transferring the Tenths and First Fruits to the Crown. During the short reign of Mary these payments were again made over to Rome, but on the accession of Elizabeth an Act of Parliament was passed enacting that the First Fruits and Tenths, which (as the preamble states) the late Queen had given up "upon certain zealous and inconvenient respects" should be again vested in the Crown, in order to lessen "the huge, immeasurable and inestimable charges of the Royal Estate " (Act 1 Elizabeth, c. 4). It was provided, however, by this Act that Hospitals should he specially exempted from payment, and it was in this way that St. Leonard's escaped.
The same remark applies also to the payment of subsidies or regular taxes. By an Act passed in 4 and 5 Philip and Mary, Hospitals were exempted from the payment of subsidies, and when a subsidy was demanded from the Hospital authorities of St. Leonard's in 1559 they refused to pay, urging this statute as their excuse.
On April 1st, 1560, the Dean and Chapter of Peterborough, who (during the vacancy in the See) were collecting the subsidy for the King, return the Hospital of St. Leonard's as one of the places from which they were unable to obtain payment. (10 First Fruits Plea Roll, No. 5 (cxi).
In a Clerical Subsidy or Taxation Roll of 24 and 25 Elizabeth (1581-2) we find among the exempt Churches and Hospitals, the following entry with regard to the Northampton Lazar House: "The Hospytall of St. Leonardis in the Towne of Northampton ys ymployed towardes the mayntenance of pore people and valet [is worth] per annum X Ii. "(11)
A similar note occurs in the Subsidy Rolls for the years 1586-7 (12) and 1593-4. (13)
Early in the 17th century, three London speculators, John Buck, Walter Lingon and Wm. Welles, bought from the King a number of Hospitals in various parts of the kingdom, among them being our Northampton Leper Hospital.
By patent dated July 13th, 17 James 1. (1619) the King granted to these three worthies (inter alia) "All our Hospital of St. Leonard in the town and fields of Northampton lately dissolved, and all messuages, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, rents, services, &c., belonging or pertaining to the same Hospital." (14) As a matter of fact the Hospital did not belong to the King, nor had he any power to sell it; but the unfortunate Mayor and Burgesses doubtless had to satisfy the purchasers by a payment of money, for the privilege of keeping their own property.
By this time Leprosy had practically died out in this part of England and the Northampton Lazar house became a simple Alms-house, in which one old man (known as ' the Lazar man" or "the Spittle man,") was maintained at the cost of the trustees of the charity.
In 1623, there was a female occupant of the Spittle house, a certain Dorothy Webb, who was buried at All Saints on November 4th. Possibly, however (as Dr. Cox suggests), the house in this instance had been granted to an old couple, for on February 27th, 1628-9, Wm. Webb, Lazarman, was buried at All Saints.
In 1638, there was another "Lazar-woman," Alice Harris, who was buried at Hardingstone on May 9th of that year.
In May, 1663, the Lazar house was swept away by a flood, and at a meeting of the Northampton Town Assembly held shortly afterwards (August 19th), it was ordered "that Chamberlaines take speedy care for the building of the Lazer man's house at the charge of the towne, the same house being driven downe by the late great flood." (15)
Freeman, in his History of Northampton (1828) gives us the following particulars with regard to this disaster:- "1663. A great flood on the 6th May, which swept away several houses, and the water came up as far as St. John's Hospital. It also carried away the two principal arches of the South Bridge, which was immediately rebuilt in one arch."
Pepys' Diary also contains a reference to this remarkable flood : - "May 15, 1663. Strange were the effects of the late thunder and lightning about a week since at Northampton, coming with great rain, which caused extraordinary floods in a few houres, bearing away bridges, drowning horses, men and cattle. Two men passing over a bridge on horse-back, the bridge arches before and behind them were borne away, and that left which they were upon; but, however, one of the horses fell over and was drowned. Stacks of faggots carried as high as a steeple, and other dreadful things."
In 1704-5, the Mayor's accounts show a payment of £6 19s. 8d. "for building and covering the Lazer house"; and several similar charges are found from time to time in the accounts of the Chamberlains of Northampton. Thus in 1723-4, 7s 3d1/2 was expended in "straw and thatching the Lazer house." In 1740, there was paid "to Mr. Roberts and son for three days' work in thatching the Lazer house, 8/-"; and to "Thomas Sargeant for a load of straw to thatch the Lazer house, 10/-."
The work could not have been very well done for four years' later we find another charge for thatching. "1744, paid Adam Smith for thatching one side of spittle house, 6/9."
In 1816, the old Lazar house was pulled down, as is shewn by the following order made by the Northampton Assembly
"18th March. The General Treasurer is authorised to take down the Lazar house and convert the tenement now in the occupation of (blank) Jeffery into a Lazar house."
In the following year the new house was thoroughly renovated, and the sum of £13 8s. 0d. was "paid to Mr. Hopkins and son for work at the Lazarman's house." (General Treasurer's Accounts, 1817).
Two years later further repairs were needed, and the Chamberlain's accounts shew a payment on March 15th, 1819, of £8 3s. 3d., to James Chamberlain "for repairs at the Lazarman's house in Cotton End"; and on March 20th there was "paid to a labourer for digging up the foundation of such house and other work, 19/6."
In 1823, the Lazar house was pulled down, and the Lazarman had a yearly allowance of £5 l0s. 0d. granted to him in lieu of a house.
With regard to the Lazar man himself, various items of interest may be gleaned from the records of the Corporation of Northampton.
Thus in 1690-1 the Chamberlains paid 18/6 for "two shirts, etc. for ye Lazer man."
In 1691-2 the same officials paid 17/4 for "some apparel and a lode of wood for the Lazer man;" while the Mayor'~ accounts for the same year show a payment of 2/6 "to Joseph Blunden for making ye Lazerman's cote."
In 1696-7 the Lazarman's "hose, shews (sic) and shirt " cost 8/11, and his load of wood 12/-.
In 1701, from the accounts of George Rowell, the then Chamberlain, we get fuller details :-" Paid ye Lazerman £5 4s. 0d. [his yearly allowance]; a lode of wood 11/-. Paid for a cote and breeches for ye Lazerman 17/10, and for making 4/-; total £6 16s. l0d.
In 1705 the sum of 9/- was spent by the Chamberlains for "hose, shoes and shirt for the Lazerman." On May 23rd of this year the Lazarman died, and at a meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen it was "ordered that old blinde Warren be placed in the Lazerhouse in the roome of Pendleton(16) being dead." (17)
The sums expended on the Lazarman's clothes varied from year to year. In 1712-13, 16/- was spent in "cloth for ye Lazarman;" and ten years later (1722) the Chamberlain's accounts showed a payment of 17/6 "for a coat for the Lazerman and making." The new coat was required because the old occupant of the house had died and a successor was ap- pointed on July 17.
This appointment is thus recorded in the minute book of the Mayor and Aldermen :-" Ordered that Richard Shortgrave, Iron-monger, be placed in the Lazerhouse in the room of old Garrett decesed, and doe receive the profits and advantages that have heretofore been paid and allowed to such Lazermen, provided he doe dwell in the said Lazerhouse and behave himself well therein." (18)
Two years after Shortgrave's appointment the amount paid to the Lazarman for clothes, etc., was definitely fixed by a resolution of the Northampton Assembly :-" 2nd October, 1724. Ordered for the future that the Chamberlayne for the time being doe yearly provide apparel for the Lazerman to the value 0] fifteen shillings and no more, over and besides his weekly pay and load of wood: the said apparel to be such as the Lazerman shall desire and choose."
Shortgrave lived in the house for nine years and died in 1731. On October 4th of that year it was agreed at a meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen that "Win. Batman of the parish of All Saints, mason, who is very old, lame and infirm, be according to his petetion in that behalf, placed in the Lazerhouse belonging to St. Leonard's Farm in Cotton End, in the room of John [Richard] Shortgrave lately deceased."
Batman also occupied the Alnishouse for nine years and was folowed by Robert Cox, the elder, gardener, who was appointed on June 7th, 1740, and died in 1743. His successor, Richard Hodgkins, also a gardener, was elected on December 19th, 1743, and lived till 1765. (19)
The Chamberlain's accounts for that year show that the settlement arrived at in 1724 was still maintained :-" Pd. the Lazerman 2/- per week for 52 weeks £5 4s. Od. For a load of wood for him 11/-: for providing apparel for him 15/-.
In 1823 the payments were the same, but the Lazarman now received an additional £5 lOs. Od. in lieu of a house, making a total of £12. From 1826 the payments were made by the General Treasurer instead of the Chamberlain.
The last recipient of the Charity was Thomas Thacker who occurs in 1832 and died in May, 1840. (20) After his death no further Lazermen were appointed, and for a time the Corporation of Northampton quietly applied the income of the Charity to their own uses.
List of Lazarmen or "Spittle Men" of St Leonard's
The following names of "Lazarmen" have been recovered from the registers of All Saints, and from the records of the Mayors and Aldermen at the Town Hall. It is obviously incomplete, but there appears to be no further source of information from which the gaps can be filled up.
- 1586. Thomas Stevens, of St. Leonardes, was buried at All Saints, November 23rd.
- 1589-90. John Bryan, "le Spittleman of St. Leonard's" buried at All Saints, January 11th. 1590.
- Nicholas Bradley, "le Spettell [man] of St. Leonard's," was buried at All Saints, September 6th.
- 1609. John Wright, "Lazarman," was buried October 9th.
- 1619. Thomas Steere, "Lazarman," buried at All Saints, May 17th. 1619. Richard Medcalfe, "Lazarman," buried at All Saints, July 24th.
- 1623. Dorothea Web, "de le Spittle Howse," buried at All Saints,November 4th.
- 1628-9. Wm. Webb, "Laserman," buried at All Saints, February 27th.
- 1638. Alice Harris "was buried out of the Spitle house in Cotton End by sufferance the 9th day of May" (Hardingstone Parish Register).
- 1679. John Howson, gardener, "from the Spittle," buried at All Saints,November 5th.
- 1683. James Rogers, "from the Spittle house, Cotton End," buried at All Saints, December 1st.
- 1684. Thomas Farr, "from the Spittle, Hardingston," (20*) buried at All Saints, April 16th.
- 1705. John Pendleton, Spittleman, was buried at All Saints, May 7th (Register of St. Giles', Northampton).
- 1705. May 23rd, "Old blind Warren," appointed (Mayor and Aldermen's Minutes). Richard Warren was buried at All Saints, June 8th, 1712.
- 1712. Old Garrett, the Lazarinan," died 1722 (Mayor and Aldermen's Minutes). Joseph Garrett was buried at All Saints, July 19th, 1722.
- 1722. July 17th, Richard Shortgrave appointed. Buried at All Saints, August 4th, 1731.
- 1731. October 4th, Win. Batman appointed. Buried at All Saints, May 29th, 1740.
- 1740. June 17th, Robert Cox appointed. Buried at All Saints, October 30th, 1743.
- 1743. December 19th, Richard Hodgkins appointed. Buried at Hardingstone, September 17th, 1765.
- 1823. Joseph Wright (occurs). Buried November 18th, 1827, aged 89, at St. Sepulchres.
- 1832. Thomas Thacker (occurs). (The last Lazarman to be appointed). Buried May 20th, 1840, at All Saints.
The attention of the Charity Commissioners was drawn to the Hospital of St. Leonard about the year 1850. An inspector was sent to Northampton, but though an enquiry was held he could obtain little information as the Corporation refused to allow him to inspect their records. Accordingly on January 27th, 1857, the Commissioners certified the case to the Attorney General, in order that proceedings might be instituted, if he considered it advisable.
On April 11th, 1857, the Attorney General filed an information in Chancery. After a long enquiry the following facts were elicited:-The Charity lands (belonging to St. Leonard's and the Grammar School) in Far Cotton had been exchanged with Mr. Bouverie for other lands in Northampton and a large sum of money. The Corporation had applied the money, and the bulk of the rents of the lands, (20t) to their own purposes till the passing of the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835, since which date the money had been applied in aid of the Borough Rates.
On October 29th, 1860, the Attorney General preferred a petition to the Master of the Rolls, proposing a compromise by which the Corporation was to give up to the Charities certain portions of the properties received -from Mr. Bouverie, as representing the ancient property of St. Leonard's Hospital, and of the Grammar School (Chipsey's Land); of which two-thirds was to go to the Grammar School, and one-third to St. Leonard's.
On November 24th, 1860, the Master of the Rolls ordered that this compromise be accepted.
At a special meeting of the General Charity Trustees of Northampton, held on July 15th, 1861, it was agreed that in the interests of the town it would be advisable "that the property of both Charities (St. Leonard's and the Grammar School) should go in augmentation of the Grammar School, and be under the management of the present trustees of that Charity." After a long correspondence with regard to the settlement of the property, and the appointment of trustees, this compromise was finally approved by the Judge on July 6th, 1864.
The St Leonard's Property
At the close of the 16th century the property from which the Lazarman was supported, consisted of a small estate in Far Cotton known as St. Leonard's Farm. It was leased to Roger Haskett or Haskyn, as is shown by the following minute in the Northampton Orders of Assembly "30th July, 1579, yt ys agreide that Roger Haskyn shall have his lease of his Farme callyd St. Leonardes made up one and fortie yeares and to yeld up his olde lease and to paye XVIli for a fyne."
The farm consisted of some 28 acres of land, not lying round the farm house in a compact body, as would be the case nowadays, but made up of half-acre strips scattered all over the fields of Cotton and Hardingstone.
A detailed account of these scattered fragments is given in an elaborate Terrier of the Northampton town property drawn up on December 10th, 1586:
Errable Lande Belonginge to Sainte Leonardes Lyinge in the feildes of Cotton
- One halfe acre lyinge in Newe Close betweene the lande belonginge to the Queenes Majestie of theaste syde and the lande of Mr. Ravensthroppe of the west syde. (22)
- Item one halfe acre beinge leye (23) lyinge uppon Whyte beyes.
- One roode beinge leye lyinge uppon Meade Leyes.
- One other roode beinge leye lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge on Lancastyr furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge on Broomehill.
- One roode lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One halfe acre being leye lying on Longe Leyes shewting into the meadowe.
- One roode behige leye lyinge on the same furlong.
- One roode beinge leye buttinge to Newe Close.
- One halfe roode beinge leye lyhige on Smyth furlonge.
- One halfe acre beinge leye lyinge on a furlong under Hillockes Sewtinge [shooting] to Thrnpp Feilde Syde.
- One halfe acre beinge leyc lyinge on VVtene Acres.
- One halfe acre lyhige in the upper end of Feedall.
- One other halfe acre lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One halfe acre beinge leye lyinge uppon the Toppe of Little Diplade
- One halfe acre lyinge in the XVtene Acres.
- One halfe acre lyinge in Nettlebedde furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge on the furlonge above Newe Close.
- One other halfe acre lyinge on the same furlong.
- One halfe acre beinge a hadlande lyinge in Long Hawke waye.
- One halfe acre lyinge at Lammas Close.
- One roode beinge a hadlande shewtinge up and down by Feedall.
- One halfe acre shewtinge uppon the same hadlande.
- One h~fe acre lyinge on Meere Furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge on Theast syde of London waye.
- One halfe acre lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One roode being a hadland lyinge at the upper elide of the same furlonge buttinge easte and weste.
- One halfe acre shewtinge to Fosburye yard end.
- One halfe acre shewtinge uppon Fulbrooke Furlonge in Moore Feilde.
- One halfe acre lyinge on Brackemyll.
- One other half acre on the same hyll.
- One roode beinge leye on the same hyll.
- One halfe acre lyinge at Portlane Ende betweene the Queenes highe waye of Theastsyde and Mr. Ravensthorpe of the weste syde.
- One halfe acre beinge leye lyinge in the Pykes in Theaste Eade Feilde.
- One lialfe acre beinge leye lyinge on Bracknyll.
- Syxe landes lyinge together on Coldeyche.
- One halfe acre lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge in James' Crofte.
- One hadlande lyinge at the upper ende of James' Crofte.
- One roode beinge leye lyinge at Marvell Gutter.
- One halfe acre shootinge into London waye.
- One roode lyinge uppon Langlands.
- One halfe acre lyinge on the same furlonge.
- One halfe acre lyinge on Rodwell Hyll.
- One halfe acre lyinge under Rod well Hyll.
- One halfe acre lyinge oil the weste syde of Oxford waye.
- One lialfe acre silootinge into Oxforde waye
- One other halfe acre of the same furlonge.
- One other roode shootinge to Cotton Townes End.
- One lialfe acre lyinge on Gutter ilyll.
- One lialfe acre lyinge in the Galles.
MEADOWES BELONNING TO SAINTE LEONARDES AS FOLLOWETHE
- One acre of meadowe grounde lyinge in Noone Meadow, the Rayles beinge of Easte syde and the land of Mr. Mantell of the Weste syde.
- One other acre lyinge in the same meadowe.
MEADOWE GROWNDE LYINGE IN COTTON MARSHE.
- Twoe halfe roodes of meadowe growude lying in Crooked Roodes partinge with Mr. Ravensthorpe.
- One other litle roode of meadowe growude.
- One hooke of meadow called St. Leonardes Hooke lying neere the Ryver.
- One halfe roode lyinge in Over Marsh partinge Mr. Ravensthorpe's lande.
- One roode lyinge in the same meadow betweene the Queenes Majesties lande of the north syde and Mr. Ravensthorpe's of the south syde."
A glance at this terrier will show at once how different farming is now, from what it was in the old days when the fields were all open and unenclosed.
In those days the arable land of a Manor was usually divided into three great fields, which were in turn sub-divided into smaller fields, known as furlongs or shots.
These were ploughed up into long narrow acre or half-acre strips, separated from one another by strips of land about three feet wide, which were left unploughed, and which were known as " balks." (24) Each tenant had a certain number of these strips not side by side, but scattered all over the field. By this arrangement each tenant had a share in the best part of the Held, as well as of the worst. The inconveniences of this system, however, rare obvious. For instance, iii the small farm belonging to St. Leonard's Hospital, which consisted of about 28 acres, the land was divided up into 60 detached strips scattered over a wide area, which must have added enormously to the cost of cultivating them.
The arable portion of the farm consisted of about 24 acres split up into 52 strips. Of these some 19 acres were under cultivation and the remaining, five acres consisted of " leys," or strips in the arable field laid down for hay. In Moor Field the tenant of St. Leonard's Farm had "six lands lying together."
The term "land" is defined in the new Oxford Dictionary as one of the strips into which the cornfield has been ploughed, and it is still used in that sense in Northamptonshire. As a measure of land it varied in different localities.
A Survey of 1523 speaks of "A furlong called Dale Furlong, ye whiche furlong conteyneth XXX landes and two heed landes. ' (New Oxford Dictionary).
The "Headlands" (of which St. Leonard's possessed four) were the strips at the top and bottom of a ploughed field, whose furrows lie at right angles to the others, viz., the part nearest the boundary of the field. In the meadow ground belonging to St. Leonard's farm, which comprised some four or five acres, there were seven different strips, consisting of half-roods, roods and acres. In addition to these the Hospital possessed one hook of land, known as St. Leonard's Hook. The exact amount of land denoted by the term "hook" is doubtful, but we notice that among the strips of land belonging to the Grammar School of Northampton there was "a hook of meadow containing two acres in Cotton Marsh." (25) The St. Leonard's Hook very probably measured about the same.
The Tenants of the Farm
Roger Haskyn or Hasketh, the tenant of St. Leonard's Farm from 1579, died in 1607-8, and was buried on February 27th at the Church of All Saints, Northampton.
Three years later, his son, Wm. Haskyt, obtained a new lease of the Farm.
It was agreed and ordered on April 5th, 1611, that "Wm. Haskyt of Cotton Ende neare this corporacon, upon surrender of all leasses inesse made to Roger Haskyt, his late father, deceassed, of a certain messuage or Farme called St. Leonardes Farme, with all closses, arable landes and premisses thereto belonging ; and all other leasses to him graunted of anie parte thereof, Shall have a new leasse of the farm for three score and one yeares, yf the said Wm. Haskyt and Susanna his nowe wyfe, or either of them, shall soe longe lyve; to beginne and be accompted from the feast day of St. Michael last past upon the yearlie rent of Twentie poundes payable yearlie, etc." (26)
A few years later, it was stated at a meeting of the Assembly, held February 5th, 1615-6, that the new tenants (Wm. Haskyt and Susanna his wife) had not performed their covenants, and it was agreed that legal proceedings should be taken against them.
Wm. Haskyt died in 1617 (27), and his widow, Susanna, shortly afterwards married Robert Greene, Gent. On August 9th, 1621(28), Robert Greene obtained a new lease from the Corporation, to begin after the decease of his wife, at a yearly rent of £30. (29) As a matter of fact, however, his wife outlived him for fourteen years, and his lease, therefore, never came into operation. He died in January, 1640-1, and was buried at Hardingstone.
On March 15th, 1648-9, Wm. Wilson, of Northampton, Gent., a nephew of Mrs. Greene, obtained a lease of the property for 70 years (if he or his wife lived so long) to begin after tile death of the then tenant, Mrs. 8usanna Greene, widow, and "upon the same rent and covenants as the said Susanna Greene holdeth the same."
Seven years later (January 18th, 1655/6), the Northampton Corporation appointed a committee to enquire into the question of the St. Leonard's property and "to survey and endeavour the Regaynyng of dyvers parcells of land and meadowe supposed to be conceyled and conveyed from St. Leonardes ; and other lands belonging to this town lying in the feildes of Hardingston; and labour to Regayne and reduce the same as formerly."
The result of their labours is not recorded. Wm. Wilson's lease came into operation in 1654, on the death of Susanna Greene (30), but how long he lived to enjoy it we cannot tell. He was dead in 1672, when his widow made over the remainder of the lease to William Tate, of Delapre. On January 23rd, 1672, the Corporation granted St. Leonard's Farm and Salisbury's Land to Wm. Tate for three lives, "by adding two lives and changing Mrs Wilson's life for another life." It was stipulated that he should pay an annual rent of £21 5s. 0d. together with a fine of £100 down.
On April 2nd, 1711, Wm. Cooke became tenant. By payment of a fine of £160 he obtained a lease of the property for 21 years at the old rent. This lease was renewed to him on October, 1730, for another 21 years (after the expiration of his present lease) at the old rental and on payment of a further fine of £160 Wm. Cooke died in January, 1738-~9 (31), and was apparently succeeded by his son, also named Wm. Cooke. The new tenant kept the two farms in his own hands till 1740, when he sub-let them to Mr. Bartholomew Tate, of Delapre, for ten years.
On June 30th, 1748, Cooke obtained a renewal of his lease by payment of a fine of 200 guineas. It was to commence at the date of the expiration of his old lease (March 25th, 1753) and was to last for 42 years. The rent to be paid was £21 5s. Od., as before.
The property was described as "the farmehouse, out houses, barns, stables, buildings and home close with appurtenances thereto adjoining, situate and being in Cotton End in the parish of Hardingstone and one yardland by estimation (be the same more or less) thereto belonging or occupyed therewith lying and being dispersed ~n the common and open fields of Rardingstone aforesaid; all which said premises are called or known by the name of St. Leonard's Farm and also one other Yardland by estimation called by the name of Salisbury's Yardland."
A few years after the granting of this lease the fields of Cotton were "enclosed" by Act of Parliament.
By the Enclosure Award, dated March 21st, 1766, " Wm. Cooke, the lessee under the Corporation of Northampton, in lieu of two Yard-lands, and all rights of common thereto belonging in Westend field of Hardingstone; and also in lieu of one Ley of ground in a place called the Pikes in East End Fields, also held by Wm. Cooke by lease," is to receive "all that parcel of ground lying in the said West End Field, containing 27 acres, and 26 perches exclusive of roads, hounded on the East by the Turnpike road, on the South by the Allotment of the Corporation of Northampton (previously mentioned in the award), and on the West by the 4th Allotment of Edward Bouverie, Esq., and on the North by an ancient enclosed close called Grange Close."
This tends to prove a fact which may be deduced from other evidence that the Hospital of St. Leonard was on the right-hand side of the road leading from Northampton to Queen's Cross, and not, as is generally supposed, on the east side of that road.
The enclosing of the Hardingstone Fields made no difference to the rent paid by the tenant of the St. Leonard's property. The Chamberlain's accounts for the year 1777-8 show that the Farm was then sub-let to Mr. John Lacey, who paid £21 55. 0d. to the Mayor and Burgesses of Northampton for the "Farm House and Homestead and the allotment in lieu of St. Leonard's Farm and Salisbury's Yard land demised to Wm. Cook." Similar payments occur annually till the year 1785, when the Farm House was damaged by fire.
At a meeting of the Assembly of Northampton, held May 26th of that year, Mr. John Lacy claimed compensation from the Corporation for damage sustained by the late fire at his farm house in Cotton End; and a Committee was appointed to view the premises. (32).
The matter was again before the Assembly on August 11th, 1785, and on "it being represented to this house that John Mason, currier, and John Ridlington, weaver, were very assiduous, and laboured hard in extinguishing the late fire at, and were a great means of saving the Dwelling-house adjoining and belonging to the Corporation Farm in Cotton End [it was] ordered that they be rewarded by Mr. Lacy, the Chamberlain, with the sum of two guineas each, and it to be allowed him upon passing his accounts with this Corporation. Also that the thanks of this house be given by the Town Clerk to Mr. Thomas Bumbam for his vigilance in extinguishing the same fire. (33)
The question of Mr. Lacy's claim for damages was still left unsettled; but at a further meeting of the Assembly held on October 27th, 1785, it was decided to appoint a Committee to settle the matter, whose decision was to be final.
Their decision has not been recorded, but the Chamberlain's accounts for this year show that the rent was reduced to £16. Among the receipts were "£8 l0s. 0d. for old materials at the Farm in Cotton End after the fire"; and among the payments "to Mason and Ridlington for assisting at the fire at Cotton End, by order, £4 45. 0d.
It is interesting to note that the Chamberlain at this time was no other than John Lacy, the tenant of the farm.
In 1793, Alderman Lacy (34) was only paying £15 a year rent; but in October of that year a new lease of the property for 21 years was granted to Alderman Meacock (35) (to begin on March 25th, 1795, when Cook's lease expired), the rent being raised from £15 to £130 a year.
Richard Meacock died November 13th, 1798, and on June 6th, 1799, the Assembly granted permission for his executors to assign the remainder of his lease to Mr. Robert Abbey.
A few months later, Mr. Edward Bouverie, of Delapre, offered to purchase the property from the Corporation, and on November 7th, a Committee was appointed to consider his proposal. The matter was considered from time to time, but as no satisfactory agreement was come to, the Assembly decided on November 1st, 1804, to refuse Mr. Bouverie's offer.
Ten years later negotiations were again re-opened. On this occasion Mr. Bouverie proposed to exchange certain lands in Northampton for St. Leonard's Farm, in Cotton End, but on October 24th, 1814, the Assembly rejected the proposal.
Alderman Meakock's lease expired in 1816, and the Farm was then let in small allotments to various tenants.
On September 18th, 1817, Mr. Bouverie again proposed an exchange of property, and after negotiations extending over six years, the Corporation, on June 13th, 1823, presented a petition to the King craving his permission to carry out the exchange.
At length, on August 30th, 1827, Letters Patent were granted by George IV. authorising the Corporation to exchange their Farm in Cotton End " consisting of a piece of land called the Long Close containing 4 acres and 3 roods and also a piece of land called the Great Close, containing 27 acres and 26 perches (31 acres, 3 roods and 26 perches in all), for two closes in the parish of St. Giles', Northampton, containing respectively 14 acres, 2 roods and 22 perches; and 10 acres and 11 perches. (36)
A sum of £2,500 was also paid by Mr. Bouverie to the Corporation, together with £470 interest from Lady-Day, 1823, when the bargain was arranged. This sum (£2,970) appears among the receipts of the Borough for the year 1827.
Thus the estate which had been the property of the Northampton Burgesses for over seven centuries, and which had formed the endowment of one of the earliest Charities in England, was finally alienated and passed into other hands.