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The Knights Hospitaller of the English Langue

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The Knights
Hospitaller of the
English Langue


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In memory of my Parents, John and Monica:
Requiescant in pace
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This book is a study of the activities of those members of the military

and Hospitaller order of St John of Jerusalem born in Britain and Ireland
and active in the period 14601565, when the order was based successively
in Rhodes, Italy, and Malta. It originated in a Cambridge Ph.D. thesis
completed in 1999. This dealt largely with the English Hospitallers
during the same period and only touched on the orders activities in
Ireland and Scotland when they impinged on its English priory and brethren.
I was able to justify this approach to my own satisfaction at the time
for three reasons: rst the orders Irish and Scottish brethren rarely visited
its Mediterranean convent and sent only limited funds there; secondly
the orders Scottish history had been adequately dealt with in recent schol-
arship; and thirdly its priory in Ireland was run by Englishmen after
1497. Since then, research into the orders Irish affairs has broadened
my awareness both of the signicance of the Hospitaller priors of Ireland
in the governance and development of the late medieval lordship of
Ireland and of the possibility that the struggle waged by the English-
and Irish-born brethren for control of the priory might be used to cast
some light on still vexed questions of communal identity in late medieval
Ireland. Furthermore the orders Scottish history, although well understood
in itself, has not been fully integrated with that of the priories of England and
The title has been chosen with care: the old British history is now viewed
with suspicion in some quarters as a centralising vehicle for imposing an
outmoded and anachronistic Anglocentric unity on the richly diverse polit-
ical, social, and economic development of the north-west European island
group on one of whose units (not to be advantaged in any particular over
others such as Eigg or the Calf of Man) this work was written. Yet, given the
insular location of the Hospitals central convent, terming the work the
Knights Hospitaller of the Isles, might have caused confusion, while entit-
ling it the Hospitallers of the Atlantic Archipelago might have suggested
location in the Azores to those unaware of the stimulating work of Richard
Tompson.1 Given these difculties it seems appropriate to fall back on the
orders internal divisions in describing its members. Beginning in the late
thirteenth century, the Hospital of St John began to be divided into langues,
quasi-national associations into which all its members were allocated
according to where they had been born. All those Hospitallers born in

N. Davis, The Isles: A History (London, 1999); R. S. Tompson, The Atlantic Archipelago:
A Political History of the British Isles (Lewiston, 1986).
viii Preface

Britain and Ireland during the fteenth and sixteenth centuries, entered the
English langue.
A number of points of presentation should be claried here. As far as
possible, I have sought to refer to persons mentioned in the text by the
modern equivalents of the names they are given in the documents. When
the modern equivalent is uncertain, or where there is a clear scholarly
convention to do otherwise, as in the use of Wydeville rather than Wood-
ville, I have followed the original spelling instead. This goes, too, for Irish
names, where I have adhered to the practices laid down in the New History
of Ireland. When dealing with some of the orders continental brethren,
I have generally given modern equivalents of names such as Jehan, deferring
to the more modern secondary authorities in cases of uncertainty. I have
adhered to the conventions used by the late K. M. Setton when dealing with
Islamic names. References to documents are generally to what has appeared
to be the most modern and/or comprehensive foliation. When providing
references to material in the National Library of Malta, I have preferred the
modern pencil foliation referred to in the recently published Catalogues of
the archives to the several older systems in use. Consequently references may
differ somewhat from those provided by other authorities.
I have incurred many debts in the writing and preparation of this book.
First and foremost, I would like to thank my Ph.D. supervisor, Professor
Jonathan Riley-Smith, for his lasting friendship, inspirational enthusiasm,
and many kindnesses over the years. Thanks are also due to Dr Rosemary
Horrox for her support, helpful comments, and advice on further reading
and to Professor Reinhold Mueller, Dr Helen Nicholson, Dr Simon Thurley,
Mr Jim Bolton, Dr Gerwyn Grifths, Dr Joseph Gribbin, and Mr Stephen de
Giorgio for providing invaluable texts, assistance, information, and/or ref-
erences. The examiners of my thesisProfessor Barrie Dobson and
Dr Anthony Luttrellhave provided me with a great deal of helpful
advice and encouragement. Dr Luttrell has also generously made available
references, photocopies, and his incomparable knowledge of the Maltese
I would like to thank the staff of the National Library of Malta, the
Cambridge University Library, the Institute of Historical Research, the
British Library, the Public Record Ofce, and the Bodleian Library. Especial
thanks are due to Miss Pamela Willis and the staff of the Museum and
Library of the Venerable Order of St John for their unwearying assistance
and many helpful suggestions.
I am also grateful to those institutions and bodies which have provided me
with nancial support during the course of my research: the British Acad-
emy, the Richard III Society, and Yorkist History Trust, who provided me
with a one-year Fellowship in 19978, and the Master and Fellows of
Christs College, Cambridge. Further assistance towards the cost of research
was afforded by the British Academy, the managers of the Prince Consort
Preface ix

and Thirlwall Fund, and the managers of various funds administered by

Christs College. My research fellowship at Emmanuel College has proved of
inestimable value in completing this project, and I am grateful to successive
masters and fellows of the college for their friendship and encouragement.
I would also like to thank Sir John Gorman and the Irish Association of
the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who invited me to give a talk in
Downpatrick in October 2001, and in particular to John and Fiona Belling-
ham and the Honourable Bill and Daphne Montgomery, who treated me
with great kindness during my stays with them in Ireland. John Bellingham
was kind enough to sacrice two days to driving me round Ireland looking at
Hospitaller sites, and proved enthusiastic and unerring in the pursuit of
some of the more obscure and unpromising. Above all, thanks are due to
my familyto my brother Philip for running me backwards and forwards
between Cambridge and Manchester with bags, furniture, and outsized
fridges; to my wife Magda and daughter Mary, whose love and companion-
ship have served as a reminder that man cannot live by books alone, and to
my parents, who did not live to see the publication of this book, but to
whose love, encouragement, and help it owes so much.
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List of Maps xiii

Abbreviations xiv

1 Introduction 1

2 The Hospital in England and Wales, c.14601540:

The Prior, his Brethren, and Conventual Life 25

3 The Administration and Finances of the Priory of England 60

4 The Hospital and Society in England and Wales 87

5 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 112

6 The Hospital and the English Crown, 15091540 161

7 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland, 14601564 226

8 The English Langue in Rhodes, Italy, and Malta, c.14601540 267

9 Brethren and Conformists, 15401565 320

10 Conclusion 333


I (Grand) Mastersa of the Order of St John, 14611568 338

II Priors of England, 14171540 339

III Turcopoliers, 14491551 340

IV Priors of Ireland, 14201540 341

V Bailiffs of Eagle, 14421540 342

xii Contents

VI Receivers of the Common Treasury in England, 14571540 343

VII Members of the Langue, c.14601565 344

VIII Hospitaller Pensioners after 1540 360

IX Organization and Value of the Orders English and

Welsh Estates, 15351540 362

Bibliography 367
Index 390
List of Maps

I Hospitaller houses in Britain and Ireland. Courtesy of the

Museum of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem 365
II Hospitaller possessions in the south-east Aegean (after Torr,
Rhodes in modern times) 366

Ancient Deeds A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in

the Public Record Ofce, 6 vols. (London,
AOM Archives of Malta (National Library of
Malta, Archives of the Knights)
APC Acts of the Privy Council of England, ed.
J. Dasent, 2nd ser., vols. ivii, AD I542
1570 (London, 18903)
AOSM Annales de lOrdre souverain de Malte
BDVTE Book of Deliberations of the Venerable
Tongue of England 152367, ed. H. P. Sci-
cluna (Valletta, 1949)
Bekynton Correspondence T. Bekynton, Ofcial Correspondence, ed.
G. Williams, 2 vols. RS (London, 1872)
BIHR Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Re-
BL British Library
CCR Calendar of Close Rolls
CDI Calendar of Documents, Relating to Ireland,
Preserved in Her Majestys Public Record
Ofce, London, ed. H. S. Sweetman and G.
F. Handcock, 5 vols. (London, 187586)
CFR Calendar of Fine Rolls, 12721509, 22 vols.
(London, 191162)
CHR Catholic Historical Review
CICRE Calendar of Inquisitions formerly in the Of-
ce of the Chief Remembrancer of the Ex-
chequer Prepared from the MSS of the Irish
Record Commission, ed. M. C. Grifth
(Dublin, 1991)
Claudius E.vi British Library MS Cotton Claudius E.vi
CPCRCIr Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of
Chancery in Ireland, of the Reigns of
Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Eliza-
beth, 2 vols., ed. J. Morrin (Dublin, 1861)
CPL Calendar of Papal Registers: Papal Letters
CPR Calendar of Patent Rolls
CS Camden Society
Abbreviations xv

CSPV Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts

Relating to English Affairs Existing in Ven-
ice and Northern Italy
CYS Canterbury and York Society
DNB Dictionary of National Biography
EETS Early English Text Society
EHR English Historical Review
Excavations B. Sloane and G. Malcolm, Excavations at the
Priory of the Order of the Hospital of St
John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, London
(London, 2004)
Extents Extents of Irish Monastic Possessions, 1540
1, from Manuscripts in the Public Record
Ofce, London, ed. N. B. White (Dublin,
Foedera Foedera, conventiones, litterae, et cujuscun-
que generis, acta publica inter reges angliae,
et alios quosvis imperators, reges, ponti-
ces, principes, vel communitates, ab ineunte
saeculo duodecimo, viz. ab anno 1101
ad nostra usque tempora, ed. T. Rymer,
3rd edn., 10 vols. (London, 173945; repr.
Farnborough, 1967)
HBC Handbook of British Chronology, ed. E. B.
Fryde, D. E. Greenway, S. Porter, and
I. Roy, 3rd edn. (Cambridge, 1986)
Hist. Crusades K. M. Setton (gen. ed.), A History of the Cru-
sades, 5 vols. (Madison, Wis., 196989)
Hospitallers in Cyprus A. T. Luttrell, The Hospitallers in Cyprus,
Rhodes, Greece and the West, 12911440:
Collected Studies (London, 1978)
HSP Harleian Society Publications
JCKAS Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological
JEH Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Lansdowne 200 British Library MS Lansdowne 200
Latin Greece A. T. Luttrell, Latin Greece, the Hospitallers and
the Crusades 12911440 (London, 1982)
LPFD Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic of
the Reign of Henry VIII, 22 vols. in 37
parts (London, 18641929)
LPRH Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Reigns
of Richard III and Henry VII, ed.
J. Gairdner, 2 vols., RS (London, 1861)
xvi Abbreviations

Mediterranean World A. T. Luttrell, The Hospitallers of Rhodes and

their Mediterranean World (Aldershot,
MH Melita Historica
MMR J. Sarnowsky (ed.), Mendicants, Military Or-
ders and Regionalism in Later Medieval
Europe (Aldershot, 1999)
MO, i M. Barber (ed.), The Military Orders, i: Fight-
ing for the Faith and Caring for the Sick
(Aldershot, 1994)
MO, ii H. Nicholson (ed.), The Military Orders, ii:
Welfare and Warfare (Aldershot, 1998)
NLM National Library of Malta
OSJHP Library Committee, Order of St. John Histor-
ical Pamphlets
Otho C.ix British Library MS Cotton Otho C.ix
PPC Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy
Council of England, ed. N. H. Nicholas,
7 vols. (London, 18347)
PRIA Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy
Prima Camera The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem in England. Prima Camera,
Essex, ed. M. Gervers (Oxford, 1996)
PRO Public Record Ofce
Report The Knights Hospitallers in England: Being
the Report of Philip de Thame to the Grand
Master Elyan de Villanova, ed. L. B. Lark-
ing, with a historical introduction by J. M.
Kemble, Camden Society, Original Series
65 (London, 1857)
RK Registrum de Kilmainham: Register of Chap-
ter Acts of the Hospital of St John of Jeru-
salem in Ireland, 13261339 . . . , ed.
C. McNeill (Dublin, 1932)
Rot. Parl. Rotuli Parliamentorum ut et petitiones, et
placita in Parliamento, ed. J. Strachey et
al., 6 vols. (London, 176777)
RPCCH Rotulorum patentium et clausorum cancellar-
iae Hiberniae calendarium, ed. E. Tresham,
vol. i, pt. 1, Hen. IIHen. VII (Dublin,
RS Rolls Series
Abbreviations xvii

Scotland I. B. Cowan, P. H. R. Mackay, and A. Mac-

quarrie, The Knights of St John of Jerusa-
lem in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1983)
Secunda Camera The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem in England. Secunda Camera.
Essex, ed. M. Gervers (London, 1982)
SJG Museum and Library of the Venerable Order
of St John, St Johns Gate, Clerkenwell
SJHSP St John Historical Society Proceedings
SP State Papers, King Henry the Eighth, 11 vols.
(London, 183052)
SRPI Statute Rolls of the Parliament of Ireland,
John to Edward IV, 4 vols. (Dublin, 1907
Stabilimenta Caoursin, Stabilimenta rhodiorum militum,
in id., Opera
Statutes Statutes of the Realm, vols. iiv (London,
TRHS Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
Valor Valor Ecclesiasticus temp. Henr. VIII auctor-
itate regia institutis, ed. J. Caley, with in-
dexes by R. Lemon and introduction by
J. Hunter, 6 vols. (London, 181034)
VCH Victoria County History
YASRS Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Record
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1.1 A Short History of the Order of St John to 1565

Religious orders, like any other corporations, require study both in the light
of their own imperatives and in the social and historical context in which
they operated. In the Middle Ages, religious houses were both numerous and
highly signicant in the functioning of society, acting as powerhouses of
prayer, schools for preachers, theologians, and biblical exegetes, retirement
homes for the pious well-to-do, and dispensers of charity and hospitality to
the poor, needy, and peripatetic. The military-religious orders which
appeared in the twelfth century had in most places little educative or theo-
logical role, but were signicant providers of prayer, hospitality, and paro-
chial services to an often eager laity. A number were linked to the care of the
sick, such as St Lazarus, which began its existence as a leper hospital, and
continued its Hospitaller functions long after its military had fallen by the
wayside. Yet whatever their other roles the participation of these orders in
the defence of the Holy Land against the Muslim states in the near east has
long been held to be their most characteristic and signicant feature. Never-
theless, after 1291, when the last crusader strongholds on the Syrian coast
fell to the Mamluks, all but the three largest military orders operating in
the Holy Landthe Temple, the Hospital of St John, and the Teutonic
Ordergradually reverted to medical and charitable functions. The Temple
was dissolved in 1312 and the Teutonic Order moved to the Baltic, but
the Hospital remained in the eastern Mediterranean until 1523, and con-
tinued to devote itself to an aggressive defence of the Catholic position
there. After 1530, it continued its military activities from its base on
Malta. Its operations were nanced and its brethren derived from its estates
in western Europe, which were organized into preceptories subject to priors
provincial. It is with the orders organization and character in the British
Isles in the period from 1460 to 1564, and with the simultaneous activities of
those of its brethren born in Britain and Ireland in the Mediterranean, that
this book will be concerned. Before beginning examination of these, how-
ever, it seems appropriate to provide a brief overview of the Hospitals
history from its foundation to the siege of Malta in 1565, an event that in
some ways provides a postscript to British involvement in the orders
2 Introduction

The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of

Rhodes, and of Malta is now a nobiliary religious order devoted to charitable
work, and specializing in the care of the sick.1 It has its origins in a hospice
founded in eleventh-century Jerusalem and devoted to the care of pilgrims
and later the sick, but for more than 600 years, between 1187 and 1798, it
was more prominent as a military order dedicated to the defence of Christian
settlements and travellers from the Islamic powers ruling the near east,
Anatolia, and north Africa. In c.1070 merchants from Amal founded a
hospice for Latin pilgrims in Jerusalem. This was initially dependent on the
Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria Latina, but after the crusader capture
of Jerusalem in 1099 it became attached to the Holy Sepulchre and the scale
of its operations expanded dramatically. Although donors in western Europe
at rst patronized the Holy Sepulchre and the Hospital together, in 1113
Paschal II granted the Hospital its independence, conrming it in its posses-
sions both actual and potential and granting its members, who were now
considered to be religious, the right to elect their own master.2 As an exten-
sion of its care for pilgrims, the nascent order may have become involved in
military operations by the 1120s but it is not until the 1160s that one can be
certain that any of its brethren had taken on a military role.3 By 1206 they
had been divided into three classespriests, knights, and sergeants.4 Ser-
geants were further divided between sergeants-at-arms and sergeants-at-
ofce, the latter including a mixture of administrators, hospital staff, and
menial servants. Notwithstanding the orders military responsibilities its
hospital remained the primary focus of its operations until the fall of Jerusa-
lem in 1187, and an object of astonishment and wonder to visiting pilgrims.5
While the order had a large hospital in Acre, its headquarters from 1191,
its military functions gradually came to predominate. In the 1230s the
orders knights achieved precedence over the priest-brethren and by the
1270s the magistracy of the order and most of its important conventual
(headquarters) ofces were reserved to knight-brethren.6 The orders mili-
tary functions varied with the location of its headquarters. In the twelfth and

For overviews of the orders post-1798 history see H. J. A. Sire, The Knights of Malta
(London, 1994), 24379; H. Nicholson, The Knights Hospitaller (Woodbridge, 2001), 13846.
J. Riley-Smith, The Knights of St. John in Jerusalem and Cyprus c.10501310 (London,
1967; repr. Basingstoke, 2002), 3243; A. T. Luttrell, The Earliest Hospitallers, in B. Z. Kedar,
J. Riley-Smith, and R. Hiestand (eds.), Montjoie (Aldershot, 1997), 3754; A. Beltjens, Aux
origines de lOrdre de Malta: de la fondation de lhopital de Jerusalem a sa transformation en
ordre militaire (Brussels, 1995).
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 524; Luttrell, Earliest Hospitallers, 37; A. Forey, The
Militarisation of the Hospital of St John, in id., Military Orders and Crusades (Aldershot,
1994), art. ix, 7589.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 123.
Jerusalem Pilgrimage 10991185, ed. J. Wilkinson, J. Hill, and W. F. Ryan (London, 1988),
esp. 217, 2667, 2878; B. Z. Kedar, A Twelfth-Century Description of the Jerusalem Hos-
pital, MO, ii. 326.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 123.
Introduction 3

thirteenth centuries, it had charge of important fortresses and wide territor-

ies in the Latin East, which were gradually whittled away by the Mamluk
rulers of Egypt between the 1260s and 1291. After the loss of Acre in 1291,
the Hospital was based successively in Cyprus, Rhodes, and Malta. Al-
though the duties of divine service, hospitality, and caring for the sick
continued to be taken very seriously, its naval and fortress-building oper-
ations gradually became the orders most distinctive and striking features.
Following its enforced withdrawal from Palestine, the order re-established
its central convent,7 hospital, and administrative structures at Limassol,
where it remained for a turbulent period which saw conict with its
Lusignan hosts, confusion about its role, criticism of the part of the Military
Orders in the fall of Acre, and the subsequent destruction of the Templars.8
While the Temple was eliminated and the Teutonic order migrated north-
wards, the Hospitallers remained in the Levant, seizing the island of Rhodes
from the supposedly schismatic Greeks between 1306 and 1310.9 This
acquisition was extremely timely, possibly saving the Hospital from sharing
the fate of the Temple, and also giving it a strong case for arguing that the
latters property should be transferred to it to enable the continuation of the
struggle in the east. This was ordered in 1312, although it was many years
before the transfer was anything like complete.10 On Rhodes, too, the order
took care to stress its continued concern for all three of its chief functions.
These were, in descending order of rhetorical positioning, but ascending
order of cost, the maintenance of divine service, care for the sick, and the
defence of Christendom.11 Despite the knightly takeover of the Hospital this
ranking of priorities was maintained in many internal documents issued in
the later Middle Ages, although appeals to western rulers for aid concen-
trated rather on the military aspects of the orders operations.

The term convent will be reserved for the orders Mediterranean headquarters.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 198226; M. Barber, The Trial of the Templars (Cam-
bridge, 1978), passim.
Riley-Smith, 21516, 225; A. T. Luttrell, Notes on Foulques de Villaret, Master of the
Hospital, 13051319, Mediterranean World, art. iv, 7390.
A. T. Luttrell, The Military Orders, 13121798, in J. Riley-Smith (ed.), The Oxford
Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford, 1995), 32664, at 327. For the nancial difculties
of the order after 1312, and the exploitation of and delays in handing over the Templar estates
by their occupiers see J. Delaville le Roulx, Les Hospitaliers a Rhodes jusqua la mort de
Philibert de Naillac: 13101421 (Paris, 1913), 536, 635, 6870; C. L. Tipton, The 1330
Chapter General of the Knights Hospitallers at Montpellier, Traditio, 24 (1968), 293308, esp.
2989; Report, lviilix, 21213, 21520; C. Perkins, The Knights Hospitallers in England after
the fall of the Order of the Temple, EHR 45 (1930), 2859; id., The Wealth of the Knights
Templars in England and the Disposition of it after their Dissolution, American Historical
Review, 15 (1910), 25263; E. Gooder, Temple Balsall: The Warwickshire Preceptory of the
Templars and their Fate (Chichester, 1995), 1379.
This is true at least of the mission statements issued by the order at the beginnings of
chapters-general, whose contents were, however, often determined by the papal letters licensing
it to hold such meetings. See e.g. AOM282, fos. 6rv, 7v9v. The latter text is transcribed in
J. Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft im Johanniterorden des 15. Jahrhunderts: Verfassung und
Verwaltung der Johanniter auf Rhodos (14211522) (Munster, 2001), 61719.
4 Introduction

The conquest of Rhodes and the expenditure necessary to gain control of

the Templar properties impoverished the Hospital for years to come, but by
the 1330s it was relatively solvent and playing a signicant part in Latin
military actions against the Turkish emirates in the Aegean. Its contribution
to this struggle was primarily at seathe order had begun to build up a eet
during its sojourn on Cyprus and in Rhodes it had acquired an ideal base for
attacks on Muslim shipping.12 By 1320 the Hospitaller eet, alone or in
conjunction with the Genoese, had already inicted a series of defeats on the
Turks,13 and the order continued to maintain an active war eet until its
expulsion from Malta. Its regular navy was supplemented by vessels engaged
in the corso, a limited holy war in which a variety of Hospitaller, Latin, and
Greek captains operating from Rhodes were authorized to attack Muslim
shipping, a calling which they performed zealously across the whole eastern
Mediterranean basin.14 In conjunction with its auxiliaries, the order contrib-
uted galleys to the anti-Turkish crusading leagues of the 1330s and 1340s, to
the campaigns of Peter of Cyprus against the Turks and Mamluks in the 1360s
and to those of western crusaders such as Marshal Boucicaut, while in more
normal times its eet kept the Dodecanese relatively free of Turkish pirates.15
On land the Hospital provided limited support for Cilician Armenia
before its fall in 1375, followed by more substantial involvement in Epirus,
the Morea, and the Isthmus of Corinth between the 1370s and 1404.16 It
also contributed signicant contingents to the Smyrna crusade of 1344, the
Alexandria expedition of 1365, and the Nicopolis campaign of 1396,17 and
was solely responsible for the defence of the fortress of Smyrna from 1374
until its fall to Timur in 1402.18 Having lost Smyrna and withdrawn from

Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 200.
Delaville, Rhodes, 789; A. T. Luttrell, The Hospitallers of Rhodes Confront the Turks:
13061421, Mediterranean World, art. ii, 80116, at 867; id., The Hospitallers at Rhodes,
13061421, Hospitallers in Cyprus, art. i, 278313, at 287.
A. T. Luttrell, The Earliest Documents on the Hospitaller Corso at Rhodes: 1413 and
1416, Mediterranean Historical Review, 10 (1995), 17788; L. Butler, The Port of Rhodes
under the Knights of St John (13091522), Les Grandes Escales: Receuils de la societe Jean
Bodin, 32 (Brussels, 1974), 33945, at 3434; N. Vatin, LOrdre de Saint-Jean-de-Jerusalem,
lempire ottoman et la Mediterranee orientale entre les deux sieges de Rhodes (14801522)
(Paris, 1994), 88129, 13743, 2947.
Delaville, Rhodes, 1525, 271, 2979; Luttrell, Hospitallers at Rhodes, 13061421,
2935, 2989, 3067, 309.
Delaville, Rhodes, 79, 189, 2024, 209, 27781, 3012; Luttrell, The Hospitallers
Interventions in Cilician Armenia: 12911375, Latin Greece, art. v, 11644; id., Hospitallers
at Rhodes, 13061421, 3023, 3079. Material relating to the orders involvement in Greece
can be found in Monumenta peloponnesiaca: Documents for the History of the Peloponnese in
the 14th and 15th centuries, ed. J. Chrysostomides (Camberley, 1995), nos. 204, 206, 210, 213,
2234, 2325, 24259, 265, 26972, 2749, 283, 28990.
Delaville, Rhodes, 1524, 2357, 265; C. L. Tipton, The English at Nicopolis, Speculum,
37 (1962), 52840, esp. 53840.
Delaville, Rhodes, 185, 2856. For the orders government of Smyrna see J. Sarnowsky,
Die Johanniter und Smyrna (13441402), Romische Quartalsschrift, 86 (1991), 21551; 87
(1992), 4798.
Introduction 5

Greece, the orders attention shifted to its possessions in the Dodecanese in

the fteenth century. Although it built an imposing and expensive fortress,
the castle of St Peter (now Bodrum), near Halikarnassos on the Turkish
mainland as a demonstration of its continued determination to oppose the
indel by land, this was largely a propaganda and fund-raising exercise, as
the castles location was without any great strategic value.19 More signi-
cant were the attention and money lavished on the fortications on Rhodes
and its subject islands after 1400 and on the construction of a new Hospital
from 1440 onwards. During the fteenth century the number of brethren at
the convent greatly increased, and the masters of the order, often absent in
the west before 1421, made Rhodes their usual residence.20 These develop-
ments demonstrate that the Hospitallers, who had thought of moving their
headquarters to mainland Greece or Achaea in the previous century,21 had
nally come to regard the Dodecanese as their home.
While the order continued to participate in the activities of western
crusading eets in the fteenth century, contributing its galleys and harbour
to Aragonese otillas in 14503, to papal eets in 14567 and 1472,22 and
to the defence of Venices eastern possessions in the wars of 146379 and
14991503,23 its masters and council increasingly sought peace with the
great Muslim powers of the Levant, restricting piracy in the Aegean and
negotiating treaties at both local and regional levels with the Ottoman and
Mamluk sultans and their subordinates.24 This more defensive approach
was necessitated by the growing power of the Turkish and Egyptian sultan-
ates, which deprived the order of both easy prey and worthwhile allies in the
Levant. With Cyprus weakened by strife with the Genoese and Mamluk
invasion, and the Byzantine empire ghting a desperate rearguard action
against the Ottomans the Hospital became, with the exception of Venice, the
only Christian power in the region capable of signicant independent mili-
tary action, although its forces were still too weak to engage the Muslim
powers on land unaided. In the 1440s Rhodes itself came under serious
attack for the rst time since its conquest. A Mamluk eet assailed the

Delaville, Rhodes, 28790; A. T. Luttrell, The Later History of the Maussolleion and its
Utilization in the Hospitaller Castle at Bodrum, Jutland Archaeological Society Publications,
15/2 (Copenhagen, 1986), 114214, esp. 145.
A. Gabriel, La Cite de Rhodes, 2 vols. (Paris, 19213), ii, Architecture civile et religieuse,
Appendix, documents iixii; S. Spiteri, Fortresses of the Knights (Malta, 2001); F. Karassava-
Tsilingiri, The Fifteenth-Century Hospital of Rhodes: Tradition and Innovation, MO, i. 8996.
This was rst proposed by Innocent VI in 13546. Delaville, Rhodes, 1256, 1312.
K. M. Setton, The Papacy and the Levant: 12041571, 4 vols. (Philadelphia, 197684), ii.
99 n., 1879, 31718; Z. N. Tsirpanlis, Rhodes and the South-East Aegean Islands under the
Knights of St John (14th to 16th Centuries) [in Greek] (Rhodes, 1991), art. iv, summarized in
English at 41617.
Setton, Papacy, ii. 251, 293, 31718; Vatin, LOrdre, 25577, esp. 2624.
Vatin, LOrdre, passim; Setton, Papacy, ii. 245. I have not consulted Z. N. Tsirpanlis,
Friendly Relations of the Knights of Rhodes with the Turks in the Fifteenth Century [in Greek],
Byzantinische Forschungen, 3 (1968), 191209.
6 Introduction

orders islands of Castellorrizzo and Cos in 1440 and an Egyptian army laid
siege to Rhodes in the late summer of 1444, doing considerable damage
before it was repulsed.25 Peace with Egypt was soon restored, but after the
accession of the aggressive Mehmed II to the Ottoman throne in 1451 the
order was faced with the more formidable threat of Turkish assault and,
with the partial exception of an interlude of relatively good Hospitaller
Ottoman relations between 1481 and 1499,26 the last seventy years on
Rhodes were spent in constant fear of attack. Precautionary measures were
taken whenever a eet issued from Istanbul or Gallipoli, appeals were
dispatched to the west for aid against attacks that rarely materialized,27
the number of brethren at the convent was increased, and summons of those
in the western priories became more frequent.28 If sometimes exaggerated,
the threat was very real. Mehmed II demanded tribute from the order soon
after his conquest of Constantinople and when this was refused his ships
attacked Cos, Syme, and Nisyros and sacked the village of Archangelos
on Rhodes.29 The sultan renewed his demands in the 1460s, and the Hos-
pitals intermittent refusal to pay30 and active support for his enemies led
inexorably to the siege of 1480, which was only resisted with the greatest
Military assault was followed by earthquakes which weakened the is-
lands defences still further, but a respite was provided by the death of the
sultan in 1481, and still more by the ight of Mehmeds son Jem to Rhodes in
1482 following the customary fraternal struggle among the Ottoman princes
over the succession.32 While there was genuine interest in France, Hungary,
and Naples in using Jem to spearhead a crusade against the Porte,33 the

E. Rossi, The Hospitallers at Rhodes: 14211523, Hist. Crusades, iii. 31439, at 31920;
Codice diplomatico del Sacro Militare Ordine Gerosolimitano, ed. S. Pauli, 2 vols. (Lucca,
1737), ii. 1213; Setton, Papacy, ii. 878; T. S. R. Boase, The Arts in Frankish Greece and
Rhodes, Hist. Crusades, iv. 22950, at 234.
See Vatin, LOrdre, 15687.
Ibid. 2903, 1812, 242, 320, 3245; Setton, Papacy, ii. 239; See below, esp. Ch. 6.
Vatin, LOrdre, 150. See below, esp. Ch. 6.
Rossi, Hospitallers at Rhodes, 321; Tsirpanlis, Rhodes, arts. v & vi, with English
summary at 41718.
In the early 1460s, the order had been induced to give the sultan a present of 3,000 ducats
per annum, but still refused formally to acknowledge any subjection to him. Setton, Papacy, ii.
The best modern account of the siege in English is Setton, Papacy, ii. 34660. A near
contemporary history by the orders vice-chancellor, Guillaume Caoursin of Douai, was trans-
lated into English by the poet laureate John Kaye and published by Caxton in 1482. G. Caoursin,
Obsidionis rhodie urbis descriptio in id., Opera (Ulm, 1496); id., The Siege of Rhodes, trans.
J. Kaye (London, 1482, repr. New York, 1975).
C. Torr, Rhodes in Modern Times (London, 1887), 356; Setton, Papacy, ii. 3634, 3823;
Vatin, LOrdre, 1514, 1613.
Initial responses from Hungary and Naples to a magistral plea for their help in a crusade
soon after Jems ight to Rhodes were negative. By 1483, however, Matthias Corvinus was
displaying a keen interest in making use of the fugitive. This was soon emulated by the king of
Naples, the Mamluks, and Innocent VIII. Vatin, LOrdre, 163; Setton, Papacy, ii. 3789, 3867.
Introduction 7

order contented itself with extorting a pension and a favourable peace from
Bayazid II in return for the fugitives safe keeping.34 The latter was sent to
Europe, and despite tension caused by Bayazids suspicions that the order
would sell their captive, the treaty remained valid and pension payments to
the grand master continued even after Jem was transferred into papal hands
in 1489.35 Order and sultan remained on friendly terms after Jems death in
1495, the truce of 1482 being reproclaimed in 1497.36 During the years of
peace there was considerable commercial intercourse between Rhodes and
the mainland and the order cooperated with local Ottoman governors to
suppress piracy within the limits laid down in the treaty of 1482, while
permitting attacks elsewhere in the Levant. In 1501, however, the Hospital
was dragged against its will into involvement in the TurkishVenetian war
when its master, Pierre dAubusson, was named as papal legate in charge of
the Christian eet in the Orient, a privilege which, as head of a military order
directly subject to the pope, he could hardly refuse.37 Despite its misgivings,
the order threw itself into the struggle with vigour and fought on alone after
Venice had made a separate peace in August 1503.38 Although peace was
renewed with the Turks on the same terms as before, the trust built up in the
1480s and 1490s had dissipated, with breaches of the truce multiplying and
an increasing failure to control piracy by either side. To a considerable
degree this was the Hospitallers own fault. While the limits were still
respected, piracy sponsored from Rhodes increased in other areas under
Ottoman suzerainty, such as the western Aegean, with the result that criti-
cism of the miscreants of the Dodecanese multiplied in Istanbul as the corso
seized shipping, carried off high-prole Muslims and Mecca pilgrims into
captivity, and interrupted grain shipments.39 Fear of Ottoman military
preparations, considerable even while Jem was alive, dominated the con-
vents policy in the rst two decades of the new century.40 The threat of
Turkish raids led to increasingly drastic security measures, large sums were
spent on the fortications, the number of conventual brethren was increased
by a third, and supposedly suspect persons such as Jews were expelled from
Rhodes.41 In 1513, 151517, and 1520 there were genuine invasion scares
and it was said that the new sultan, Selim the Grim, was determined to erase

Vatin, LOrdre, 16372, 1738.
The pension had been set in 1483 at 40,000 ducats per annum, of which 30,000 were
understood to be reserved to the upkeep of Jem and the payment of his guards, the remaining
10,000 being compensation for the damage suffered by the order and its property during the
recent siege. After 1489, the greater sum was paid directly to the pope, and the lesser to the
knights. Until October 1494, however, Jem remained under the control of guards appointed by
the order. Vatin, LOrdre, 178, 2267, 233; Setton, Papacy, ii. 3834, 387, 458.
Vatin, LOrdre, 237.
Ibid. 2557.
Ibid. 25971; Setton, Papacy, iii. 2.
Vatin, LOrdre, 294307, 32942.
Ibid. 1812, 2903.
See below, 279 Torr, Rhodes, 545; Sarnawsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 365.
8 Introduction

the shame suffered by his grandfather Mehmed in failing to take Rhodes.42

The orders anxieties were nally justied by the Turkish siege of 1522.
Cautious although its policy was, the Hospital was still overwhelmingly
dependent on its western revenues, whose continued collection relied on the
whim of rulers who expected its resistance to the indel to be real as well as
symbolic. In this respect the sieges of 1444 and 1480 proved of positive
benet, prompting the grant of lucrative papal indulgences and gifts from
western rulers such as Philip of Burgundy,43 and creating an image of
Rhodes as a key of Christendom.44 The order did its best to ensure max-
imum publicity for its achievements and was an early and enthusiastic
producer of printed propaganda.45 Yet if success in 1480 almost exempted
it from criticism for a generation, developments in the west during this
period did not augur well for the Hospitals continued presence in the
Aegean. The extinction of Valois Burgundy in 1477 removed its most
traditionally enthusiastic supporter in western Europe, the death of Mat-
thias Corvinus in 1490 diminished Hungarys status as a viable opponent of
Ottoman hegemony in the Balkans, and after 1494 the Italian wars muzzled
the European response to the Turkish advance, pitting the orders most
potentially valuable supporter, France, against its traditional allies, Naples
and Aragon. The victory of 1480 and the relative quiescence of the Turks
under Bayazid II also lulled the west into a false sense of security, even of
cynicism, as demonstrated by Henry VIIIs manipulation of newsletters from
Rhodes to support his claims that the Turks constituted less of a threat to
Christendom than the French.46 As appeals to the west multiplied and no
attack materialized, moreover, they had less and less effect, one account of
the siege of 1522 lamenting that it was holden for a mocke & a by worde in
many places that the turke wold go assyege Rodes.47 Western awareness of
the strength of the orders fortications probably also dulled the response to
the siege of 1522, and may have helped give currency to persistent reports
that the Turks had been driven off.48

LPFD, i, no. 1604; ii, nos. 1319, 3814; iii, nos. 614, 784, 791, 8568; The Begynnynge
and Foundacyon of the Holy Hospytall & of the Ordre of the Knyghtes Hospytallers of Saynt
Johan Baptyst of Jerusalem (London, 1524), 7, stresses Selims instructions to his son to take
Rhodes. For Selims awareness of the dishonour caused by the islands successful resistance in
1480 see Vatin, LOrdre, 337.
Setton, Papacy, ii. 263 n.; Gabriel, La Cite de Rhodes, i. 1445.
LPFD, iii, no. 2771; Begynnynge and Foundacyon, 6. For the use of this image, and of the
related imagery of the antemurale or propugnaculum Christianitatis by other societies on the
frontiers of Christendom, see N. Housley, Religious Warfare in Europe, 14001536 (Oxford,
2002), 1517, 1823, and passim.
A. T. Luttrell, The Rhodian Background of the Order of St John on Malta, Mediterranean
World, art. xviii, 314, at 89.
See below, Ch. 6.
Begynnynge and Foundacyon, 8.
M. Balard, The Urban Landscape of Rhodes as Perceived by Fourteenth-and Fifteenth-
Century Travellers, Mediterranean Historical Review, 10 (1995), 2434, at 257; LPFD, iii,
nos. 2559, 2576, 2611, 2670, 2708, 2772.
Introduction 9

The fall of Rhodes left the order, as in 1291, bereft of a home and a role.
Although it was generally accepted that the defence of the island had been a
heroic one, its conduct still left some room for criticism. The treason and
discord among the orders ofcers during the ghting, the failure of the
master, Philippe Villiers de LIsle Adam, to procure sufcient gunpowder and
provisions to prolong the siege and his departure from the island with great
riches after its surrender provoked comment in contemporary reports and
subsequent criticism.49 Soon after LIsle Adams arrival there, an observer in
Rome reported that he was considered to be of small policy and less weight,
and that Adrian VI had declared him unt to rule such an order and
threatened to appoint co-adjutors of another nation to govern it with
him.50 The emperor Charles V, who was deeply suspicious of LIsle Adams
dependence on the French, had similar views.51 There was criticism of the
master from within the order, too. The bailiff of Casp was imprisoned for
speaking irreverently to him in 1524, and an English brother knight
bewailed the undue inuence over him of his seneschal, Thomas Shefeld.52
Although some rulers stressed their continued support, others took advan-
tage of the orders difculties: at various times between 1522 and 1530,
some or all of its goods and estates were conscated or arrested in Naples,
Portugal, Savoy, England, Spain, and of course the Protestant lands of
northern Europe.53 Even its eet had to be hidden for fear of conscation
by French or imperial forces.54 During this time the convent was itinerant,
moving in turn from Rhodes to Crete, Rome, Viterbo, Corneto, Ville
Franche, Nice, Syracuse, and Malta,55 and harried by shipwreck, plague,
poverty, and war.56 Mortality, at least among the English brethren, was high,
and discipline, too, may have suffered.57 Nonetheless, the Hospital managed
to keep most of the archives, treasure, and relics brought from Rhodes,58
LPFD, iii, nos. 2841, 2891, 2919.
Ibid., no. 3025.
CSPV, iii, no. 797.
AOM84, fos. 39v40v; LPFD, iii, no. 3026.
See below, Ch. 6, esp. 17686.
LPFD, iv, nos. 2810, 4666.
The orders governing body, its council, met in Crete in January and March 1523, Messina
in the following May and June, Puzzuoli near Naples in July, Civita Vecchia in August, and
Rome from September 1523 to January 1524. Further meetings are recorded in Viterbo between
February 1524 and June 1527, Corneto between 26 June and 12 August, Ville Franche between
25 September and 5 November 1527, Nice between 13 November 1527 and 14 June 1529, and
Malta in September 1529, but in Syracuse between 11 October 1529 and 22 August 1530. The
order took possession of Malta on 26 October 1530. AOM84, fos. 14r, 22v23r, 23v26r, 26v27r,
27v, 28r, 33r; 85, fos. 28v, 31v, 32v33r, 57v, 61v, 75r; G. Bosio, DellIstoria della sacra religione et
ill.ma militia di San Giovanni Gierosolimitano, 2nd edn., 3 vols. (Rome, 16229, 1602), iii. 89;
A. T. Luttrell, Hospitaller Birgu: 15301536, Crusades 2 (2003), 121151, at 1267.
LPFD, iii, no. 3037; AOM84, fos. 21rv, 23v, 25r, 33v, 34v, 42r, 56v, 86v87r; 85, fos. 28v,
31v; 286, fo. 20v.
See below, Ch. 8.2.
Luttrell, Rhodian Background, 614; M. Buhagiar, The Treasure of the Knights Hospi-
tallers in 1530: Reections and Art Historical Considerations, Peregrinationes, 1 (2000).
10 Introduction

and most importantly, to preserve its administrative structure and depart-

ments and ethos intact.59
The cession of Malta, Gozo, and Tripoli to the order had been mooted as
early as 1523,60 and commissioners had been sent out to view the islands
and fortress in the following year.61 Their report was distinctly unfavour-
able, stressing the barrenness of the islands, their need to import almost
every necessity and their lack of adequate fortications or suitable dwelling
places.62 Hearing this, the knights temporized in the hope of a better offer
from Charles V, while at the same time plotting a return to Rhodes in
conjunction with Greek clergy and disaffected janissaries.63 Support for
this scheme was sought from rulers like Charles, Francis I, John III of
Portugal, and Henry VIII, but its failure, the unsettled conditions in Italy,
the conscation of the orders English property, and the insistence of the
Spanish and German Hospitallers that the emperors proposal be answered
induced the orders legislative body, or chapter-general, to accept Charless
offer in 1527, although nal agreement on the terms was not achieved until
1530.64 Even then, the order professed reluctance to enter its new home,
threatening to abandon it if Rhodes should be regained, and proposing to
move to Sicily instead in 1532, while in the following year the pope and
emperor suggested it transfer instead to Coron, which had recently been
acquired by an imperial eet.65 By this time, however, the convent had
nally departed for Malta, where it centred operations on the Castello
delMare, its associated settlement, Birgu, and the magnicent Grand Har-
bour. There a conventual enclosure, or collachium, was theoretically delin-
eated66 and the orders other distinctive structuresmagistral palace,

Measures were taken for the conservation of the orders treasures and relics on 13 June 1527,
shortly after the sack of Rome by imperialist troops. AOM85, fo. 28v.
A. T. Luttrell, Malta and Rhodes: Hospitallers and Islanders, in V. Mallia-Malines (ed.),
Hospitaller Malta 15301798 (Msida, Malta, 1993), 25584, at 25961.
The order appears to have rst suggested the grant itself. In April 1523 Marino Sanuto
reported that LIsle Adam had offered to purchase either Brindisi or Malta from Charles V, while
in December the master informed Henry VIII that the pope had sent a nuncio to the emperor to
ask for Malta. By 19 January 1524 the Venetian ambassador to Charles V reported that he was
willing to cede the islands and fortress. V. Mallia-Malines, The Birgu Phase of Hospitaller
History, in L. Bugeja, M. Buhagiar, and S. Fiorini (eds.), BirguA Maltese Maritime City,
2 vols. (Msida, 1993), i. 7396, at 75; LPFD, iii, no. 3610; CSPV, iii, no. 797.
AOM411, fos. 202v203v.
Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 301; H. Vella, The Report of the Knights of St Johns 1524
Commission to Malta and Quintinus Insulae Melitae Descriptio, MH 8/4 (1983), 31924;
Mallia-Malines, Birgu Phase, 756, 812; AOM84, fo. 41v. The English Hospitaller Clement
West complained in 1534 that here is nothing but we must have it from other lands. LPFD, vii,
no. 326.
LPFD, iv, nos. 22701, 5196; iv, Appendix nos. 101, 214; Vatin, LOrdre, 36871.
AOM286, fos. 5rv, 23v24; see below, Ch. 6.
AOM286, fo. 25v; LPFD, v, no. 888; CSPV, iv, nos. 742, 749, 904, 943.
The construction of a wall dividing the collachium from the town had been proposed in
1533, but nothing appears to have been done until boundary stones were set up in 1562. Mallia-
Malines, Birgu Phase, 7980.
Introduction 11

conventual church, inrmary, and aubergesactually appeared; and there

the British-born brethren settled.67 There, too, the order resumed its naval
operations in earnest, playing a signicant part in the great Ottoman
Habsburg struggle for dominance of the western Mediterranean between
the 1530s and 1570s.68 Yet the settlement on Malta had in some ways a
rather impermanent character until the late 1560s.69 There was serious
consideration of plans to transfer the convent to Tripoli, which were only
quashed when it was lost in 1551, and repeated invasion scares led to
proposals that Malta be abandoned or its population evacuated.70 Although
a new fort, St Elmo, was built at the tip of the Grand Harbour and forti-
cations elsewhere either rebuilt or newly constructed the new walls were
rather makeshift, the orders conventual church and some of its auberges
remained in rented accommodation, and observers prognosticated gloomily
on the likely fate of the island in the event of a full-scale siege.71 The dry run
of 1551, when Tripoli had fallen to and Gozo been sacked by a substantial
eet of corsairs, had not given much cause for optimism, although it did
concentrate the orders attention on the restoration and defence of what
remained.72 In 1565 an Ottoman armada nally descended on Malta and
was repulsed thanks to misjudgements by the Turkish commander, the
heroism of the defenders, and the eventual dispatch of an imperial relief
force from Sicily.73 Its successful defence prompted the order to regard the
island more fondly, and plans to build a new capital on Mount Sciberras, the
site of the much-battered St Elmo, were realized in the construction of
Valletta, which was initiated in 1566.74

Luttrell, Rhodian Background, 5. Most of these structures were rented, but the construc-
tion of a new hospital was begun in 1532. Mallia-Malines, Birgu Phase, 769; P. Cassar,
Medical Life in Birgu in the Past, in Bugeja et al. (eds.), Birgu, i. 32790, at 329.
M. Fontenay Les Missions des galeres de Malte: 15301798, in M.Verge-Franceschi
(ed.), Guerre et commerce en Mediterranee: IXeXXe siecles (Paris, 1991), 10319; S. Bono,
Naval Exploits and Privateering, in Mallia-Malines (ed.), Hospitaller Malta, 35195, at
3518, 3779.
This interpretation is disputed by Professor Mallia-Malines, who sees increasing signs that
the order was becoming reconciled to its new home from the last months of 1532. Mallia-
Malines, Birgu Phase, 78.
A. P. Vella, The Order of Malta and the Defence of Tripoli, MH 6/4 (1975), 36281, esp.
37380; A. Hoppen, The Fortication of Malta by the Order of St John 15301798, 2nd edn.
(Msida, 1999), 33, 367. Many non-combatants were evacuated to Sicily in the 1550s and
1560s. S. Fiorini, Demographical Aspects of Birgu up to 1800, in Bugeja et al. (eds.), Birgu,
i. 21954, at 236.
Hoppen, Fortication, 3343.
Ibid. 368.
There is a vast literature on the siege of 1565. The debate is summarized and an account
provided in Setton, Papacy, iv. 84978. Ernie Bradfords The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (Har-
mondsworth, 1961) provides information on English involvement in the hostilities.
Hoppen, Fortication, 33, 415, 4971.
12 Introduction

1.2 The British and Irish Context

In order to support its military and charitable activities, the Hospital relied
heavily on brethren and subventions sent out from its houses in Europe.
A large majority of the brethren at headquarters were drawn from western
Europe, especially from France, Aragon, and Italy, with smaller contingents
from Castile and Portugal, mainland Britain, and Germany. Eastern Europe,
Scandinavia, and Ireland sent few brethren to headquarters. Conventual
service in the east was expected of all military brethren in theory, and
performed by a large proportion in practice, as the grant of livings in the
west was made increasingly dependent on service at headquarters. Brethren
wishing to receive preferment were supposed to serve in the east for at least
three years before they were eligible for promotion, and were often called to
convent in the later stages of their careers as well.75 In times of crisis all
military brethren were summoned, and a large number usually responded.
British Hospitallers, although never very numerous in the east, played a
signicant part in conventual life.76 The English, Irish, and Scottish knight-
brethren at headquarters together made up the sixth of the seven langues,
quasi-national associations whose existence was formalized at the chapter-
general held at Montpellier in 1330, their number being increased to eight in
1462.77 This gave them considerable weight on the orders governing bodies,
the council and chapter-general, which were partly composed of represen-
tatives of the langues. The turcopolier, the head or pilier of the English
langue, was responsible for the coastguard on Rhodes and later Malta.78
The English knights were also appointed to other ofces in the gift of the
master and convent, several serving as captains of Bodrum or of the orders
galleys, as castellans (chief judges) of Rhodes, as proctors of the common
treasury or as ambassadors on the orders behalf.79 The military activities of

Delaville, Rhodes, 318, citing a statute of 1410.
For the number of British and Irish brethren in the east see below, Tables 8.1 and 8.2.
H. Chew, The Priory of St John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, VCH, Middlesex, vol. i
(Oxford, 1969), 193200, at 194; Tipton, Montpellier, 2967. For the development of the
langues see J. Sarnowsky, Der Konvent auf Rhodos und die Zungen (lingue) im Johanniter-
orden: 14211476, in Z. H. Nowak (ed.), Ritterorden und RegionPolitische, soziale
und wirtschaftliche Verbindungen im Mittelalter (Torun, 1995), 4365; id., Macht und
Herrschaft, 14769.
For the ofce of turcopolier, see A. Mifsud, Knights Hospitaller of the Venerable Tongue of
England in Malta (Valletta, 1914), 8794; L. Vizzari de Sannazaro, The Venerable Langue of
England: A History of the English Branch of the Order of St John of Jerusalem with a Roll of
Englishmen connected with the Order, and an Appendix of Unpublished Documents, unpub-
lished typescript, London, SJG, 1215 and documents 30613; Sarnowsky, Macht und
Herrschaft, 255, 2868, 6323.
AOM282, fos. 73rv; 78, fo. 83r; 393, fos. 155v156; 82, fos. 114v, 137v; 73, fo. 99r; 75,
fos. 18v19r, 168v, 176v; 78, fo. 28v; 79, fo. 17rv; 80, fo. 98r; 84, fo. 19r; 86, fo. 54r; 74, fo. 42r;
82, fo. 51r; 73, fo. 139v; 283, fos. 5v, 155v; 76, fos. 145r, 153r; 81, fo. 46v; 406, fos. 220v221r;
412, fo. 206rv; 286, fo. 6r; 86, fo. 128v.
Introduction 13

the order in the eastern Mediterranean were publicized in letters to mon-

archs and ministers, in proclamations made in parish churches in the west
and in papal letters issued in its favour.
Western monies were as indispensable to the convent as western brethren.
According to a budget drawn up in c.1478, western revenues amounted to
85,450 orins out of a conventual income of 97,000.80 Quite separately
from the convent, the master enjoyed further, substantial, incomes derived
from his possession of Rhodes. The orders European revenues were assessed
by the central convent at periodic intervals and responsions [responsiones],
originally xed at a third of the prots from produce, were levied on its
houses in accordance with the estimates so obtained. The convent raised
additional sums from imposts levied on the brethren themselves.81 After
1358 the monies raised in each priory were administered by a salaried
receiver of the common treasury, who was responsible for their collection
and dispatch to Rhodes.82 Most priories sent their responsions on to the
orders receiver-general in the west in Avignon, but because of the English
crowns intermittent disagreements with the French, from the late fourteenth
century the priories of England and Ireland more commonly dispatched
theirs to headquarters via Venice.83
In the period covered by this study, the orders day-to-day affairs were run
by its master and a council composed of those of its leading ofcers,
its conventual and capitular bailiffs, who were present at headquarters.84
Each conventual bailiff was, at least theoretically, responsible for one area
of conventual business, and each also served as the caput or pilier of one of
the langues.85 The English langue allocated beneces in Britain and Ireland
on the bases of conventual service, seniority, efciency of administration in
the west, and, in the case of competition, proximity of birthplace to the
house in question.86 The master acted as a supplementary fount of honour
for all brethren, as he controlled most appointments on the orders conven-
tual islands and had the right to appoint to one house in each western priory
every ve years. He also possessed one estate, or camera, in each priory
himself, usually leasing it out to a favoured brother of the relevant langue.
Furthermore both receptions of military brethren into the order and move-
ments to and from convent required magistral licence. The masters author-
ity and inuence were thus very considerable but were balanced not just by
the council but also by chapters-general, which met fairly regularly to draw
Luttrell, Malta and Rhodes, 272.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 45, 50, 3446; Report, pp. xxx, 178; A. T. Luttrell, The
Hospitallers Western Accounts, 1373/4 and 1374/5, in Camden Miscellany XXX, CS, 4th ser.,
39 (London, 1990), 122.
Delaville le Roulx, Rhodes, 136; Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 3302.
See below, Ch. 3.2.
Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, esp. 4788.
Ibid. 276300.
See below, Ch. 2.2.
14 Introduction

up legislation and settle important disputes. Capitular bailiffs, who included

western provincial priors, other senior western brethren, and important
ofcers like the grand preceptor of Cyprus sat on both chapters and on the
council and when absent were represented in chapter by proctors. Thus
when the master and council drew up policy for the western priories they
could draw on the experience of western ofcials resident in convent, or the
proctors there of those still in Europe, to inform their decisions.
The orders possessions in western Europe were administered from houses
known as commanderies or preceptories.87 These were grouped into pro-
vincial priories, castellanies, and bailiwicks on approximately national lines.
The order probably received its rst lands in England and Wales in the
1120s, and there was a prior of the English Hospitallers by 1144.88 His
headquarters and chief residence were at Clerkenwell, just to the north of
London. The orders two houses in Wales and the Scottish preceptory
of Torphichen were also under the jurisdiction of the prior of England,
although the latter sometimes threatened to escape from prioral control.89
By the thirteenth century Ireland had its own priory, based at Kilmainham
near Dublin, but the prior was often, and exclusively after 1497, an
Besides the contribution its houses made to the convent, the order had a
distinctive role to play in western society. The Hospitals considerable
wealth was concentrated in the hands of relatively few brethren, most of
them being, by the fteenth century, laymen from lesser noble or gentle
backgrounds. This wealth, and the connections and afnities of brethren
enabled the order to play a signicant part in political and social structures.
Its provincial heads were usually resident in or near the national or regional
capital and were often signicant gures at court. Priors of England and
preceptors of Torphichen, for example, were habitual members of royal
councils, often undertook diplomatic or judicial business on behalf of their
respective monarchs, and at times held important ofces of state such as
those of treasurer, admiral, or keeper of the privy seal.91 The prior of Ireland
was still more important in Irish political affairs. Kilmainham was the
richest religious house in the country according to the extents taken in
15401, and nearly every prior between the 1270s and 1420s served as
deputy lieutenant, treasurer, or chancellor, many leading armies in defence

Brethren in charge of a house are usually termed preceptor rather than commander in
documents written in Latin.
The prior may, however, have been subject to the prior of S. Gilles until c.118590. Chew,
Priory of St John, 196.
Scotland, pp. xxx, xxxvii, xlxli; C. L. Tipton, The English and Scottish Hospitallers
during the Great Schism, CHR 52 (19667), 2405; W. Rees, A History of the Order of St.
John of Jerusalem in Wales and on the Welsh Border (Cardiff, 1947), passim.
C. L. Falkiner, The Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in Ireland, PRIA 26 (1907), C, 275
317; C. L. Tipton, The Irish Hospitallers during the Great Schism, PRIA 69 (1970), C, 3643.
See below, Chs. 57.
Introduction 15

of the lordship.92 The Hospitals wealth, political importance, and crusading

activities sometimes prompted direct royal interference in its affairs. Usually
kings of England contented themselves with approving the appointments of
priors, restricting their movements outside the realm, and exacting loans and
taxation, but at times their interventions were more novel and dramatic.
Edward III, Edward IV, and Henry VIII proved especially vigorous in their
defence and extension of royal claims over the order. Edward III extracted
oaths of allegiance from priors of England, bullied the order into accepting
his candidates as brethren,93 and seized responsions when the convent
threatened the supremacy of the English prior over Torphichen. Edward
IV, as we will see, attempted to install his own candidates in the priory,
beheaded a legitimately elected prior for taking the eld against him at
Tewkesbury, and hindered another from proceeding to the relief of Rhodes
after the Ottoman siege of 1480. Still more dramatically, Henry VIII cons-
cated the Hospitals estates and proposed to divert its resources to the
defence of Calais in 15278, executed two of its brethren for loose talk
overseas, and nally dissolved it in 1540. The relations of kings of Scotland
and royal lieutenants in Ireland with the order might be equally turbulent.
James IV of Scotland granted Torphichen to his secretary in 1512, while
James Butler Earl of Ormond imprisoned prior Thomas FitzGerald and
conscated his assets in 1440.
Yet, despite the temptations to interference provided by the Hospitals
wealth and its international allegiances most rulers continued to allow its
export of men and money, the latter in the form of letters of exchange, to the
eastern Mediterranean. A cynic might remark that this was merely a way in
which they could support a cause to which they paid lip-service at no cost to
themselves, but there may be more to it than that. The defence and expan-
sion of Christendom might increasingly be subordinated to other concerns
but it remained a long-term goal of all catholic governments, which alter-
nated between cynicism, realism, and idealism when considering crusading
issues. As kings, rulers might object to their subjects leaving the realm to
combat the Turks, but as knights they might be expected to approve of such
activities, at least when they themselves were not at war. The Hospital also
had signicant ties with the wider political community. Some brethren were
bound to magnates by ties of clientage or service, and most had a close
relationship with members of the gentry, for whom the Hospital provided a
berth for surplus sons and grants of estates and ofces. Family connections
with the order often extended over two or three generations and sometimes
across centuries. Preceptors in mainland Britain might be signicant gures
in local society, maintaining ties with administrative elites and dispensing
ofces, lands, and liveries. Irish preceptors often played a local military role
in addition. By the fteenth century, most Hospitaller estates were leased,
92 93
Extents, 81120; see below, 2289. CCR13436, 107.
16 Introduction

the beneciaries ranging from yeomen to magnates. Around London, with

the increase in the size of the Tudor court, pressure was put on the order for
leases of plum estates like Hampton Court and Paris Garden. The require-
ments of hospitality established further ties between the order and court, and
the Hospitals shipment of monies and cloth overseas led it into relationships
with Italian bankers and English merchants alike.
Equally signicant was the orders spiritual and pastoral role.94 Although
their primary function was to send men and money to the east, preceptories
were religious houses in their own right, and shared the responsibility of all
such establishments for maintaining divine service and hospitality. The order
everywhere followed the liturgy of Jerusalem and its chapters-general fur-
ther ordained that certain feasts and patrons were to be particularly com-
memorated. In addition, the orders local houses might also erect chantries
or altars in honour of saints fashionable in the regions in which they were
situated. According to the wishes of their founders and patrons, some also
maintained hospitals, such as those at Skirbeck in Lincolnshire and Kilteel in
County Kildare, or choir schools. In parts of central and eastern Europe the
order was made responsible for signicant numbers of collegiate churches
and concentrated its energies on these rather more than on the struggle in the
east.95 A further dimension to Hospitaller spirituality was provided by its
forty-odd houses of nuns, some of which, including its house at Minchin
Buckland in Somerset, enjoyed considerable local support.96 But perhaps
most striking of all was the orders operation of a network of jurisdictional
peculiars. Papal bulls had conveyed considerable spiritual and jurisdic-
tional privileges and exemptions on the Hospital, including exemption
from tithes and procurations, from the jurisdiction of all ordinaries and
ecclesiastical authorities save the pope, and from excommunication and
interdict. Exploiting these to the full, the Hospitallers had their own
churches, courts, and cemeteries and were allowed to hold services in
times of interdict, to bury felons and suicides, and to act as confessors for
their servants and parishioners.97 Their tenants and those who made con-
fraternity payments to the order had a right to share in many of these
privileges, the extension of which to those who were neither tenants nor
confratres was a recurring source of clerical complaint from the twelfth
century onwards.98 Many of the laity, by contrast, evidently welcomed the

See below, Ch. 4.
A. T. Luttrell, The Spiritual Life of the Hospitallers of Rhodes, The Hospitaller State on
Rhodes and its Western Provinces (Aldershot, 1999), art. ix, 7596, at 79, 889.
T. Hugo, The History of Mynchin Buckland, Priory and Preceptory, in the County of
Somerset (London, 1861); M. Struckmeyer, The Sisters of the Hospital of St John at Buckland,
M.Phil. thesis, University of Cambridge (1999).
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 456, 37685; CPL, viii. 513.
R. B. Pugh, The Knights Hospitallers of England as Undertakers, Speculum, 56 (1981),
56674; Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 456, 3789, 383, 3859; Concilia magnae brittani-
cae et hibernicae, ed. D. Wilkins, 4 vols. (London, 17337), iii. 6189, 6256, 724, 726.
Introduction 17

chance to be associated with the order: some thousands of persons in the

British Isles must have been its confratres or consorores, while considerably
smaller numbers sought burial in Hospitaller houses or left bequests to the
order in their wills.99 The order had also been granted various privileges by
the secular authorities. The English and Scottish crowns exempted it from
most taxes and feudal services, from local tolls, from the jurisdiction of the
royal courts, and technically from military service.100 Yet some of these
rights were being eroded or bypassed by the fourteenth century. In the
domains of the king of England, for example, the Hospital was subjected
to parliamentary taxation, while by the late thirteenth century regular
military service was expected of the orders brethren in Ireland, similar
requirements being occasionally imposed on English and Scottish Hospital-
lers in the fourteenth, fteenth, and sixteenth centuries.101
Less clear is what signicance the Hospital enjoyed in a local context by
reason of its international role. In the fteenth and sixteenth centuries the
Hospital was certainly the only military-religious order whose houses in the
British Isles still contributed to the defence of Christendom. Furthermore, in
some senses it was also the last British branch of the fully international
orders founded in the twelfth century still to maintain full ties to its head-
quarters. In the domains of the English crown those houses directly subject
to overseas mother-houses, the alien priories, had been nationalized or
conscated while others, such as the daughter-houses of the Cistercians,
had been almost severed from their parents, becoming virtually exempt
from overseas visitation and paying only nominal sums to headquarters.102
The friars largely retained their international character but, unlike the
Hospital, did not send large sums of money overseas. That is not to say
that the Hospital was immune to the pressures put on other international
orders, or that it did not have to adapt to them. Nevertheless it retained its
functions, organization, and priorities. It seems likely that its peculiar sur-
vival owed everything to its wider role. Had it not been engaged in the
defence of Christendom there is no reason to think that the Hospital in
the domains of the English crown would have been spared separation from
its overseas mother-house, dominated as the latter was by Frenchmen until
the mid-fteenth century. But this begs a number of questions. There is
considerable evidence that crusading, at least against non-Christians, was
regarded by most of the late medieval population of Britain and Ireland
as thoroughly respectable, but it is equally clear that fewer and fewer

See below, Ch. 4.
Chew, Priory, 1945.
See below, Chs. 5 to 7.
C. W. New, A History of the Alien Priories of England to the Conscation of Henry V
(Chicago, 1916); B. J. Thompson, The Laity, the Alien Priories and the Redistribution of
Ecclesiastical Property, in N. Rogers (ed.), England in the Fifteenth Century (Stamford,
1994), 1941; R. Graham, English Ecclesiastical Studies (London, 1929).
18 Introduction

persons born therein were personally involved in this struggle.103 In this

context, it needs to be determined whether the continued residence of a
contingent of British brethren in the orders central convent on Rhodes was
merely an anachronism, a relic of earlier enthusiasms, or rather an expression
of a still vital tradition. Was it a matter of oversight, of policy, or of zeal?
The activities of the British contingent in the Mediterranean are, of
course, not merely of interest in the context of perceptions of the orders
role at home. Although not particularly numerous, the brethren of the
English langue played a signicant part in the orders government and
military activities. They were represented on its governing bodies, they
held military, administrative, and judicial ofces at headquarters, and they
served in the orders fortications and galleys and in the household of its
master. Most distinctively, the head of the langue, the turcopolier, com-
manded a force of locally recruited cavalry which rode around Rhodes
checking on the alertness of those deputed to keep watch for enemy vessels,
and most dramatically, the brethren of the langue commanded a sector of the
walls where they fought and died in 1480 and 1522.104 Here, at least, the
Hospital and its British-born brethren lived up to their self-representations
in quite dramatic fashion. Yet at other times the order might be accused of
idleness or vainglory and might have to defend its record before western
princes, including kings of England and Scotland. Thus the orders diplo-
macy, in which English Hospitallers played a signicant role at times, also
requires study as a link between its conventual and local operations.
The chapters to follow will therefore deal with the activities of the British
brethren both in the west and at their Mediterranean headquarters. They are
broken down into three constituent areas. First, the orders internal organ-
ization is considered. Chapter 2 looks at the Hospitals organization and the
conventual life of its brethren in England and Wales, and considers the
admission and family background of brethren, the orders career structure
and the relationship between the prior of England and his brethren. It then
moves on to the immediate context in which brethren operatedtheir
conventual life, households and servantsbefore Chapter 3 analyses the
administration of the orders landed estates, the extent and sources of its
income and the dispatch of responsions to Rhodes. Secondly, I examine the
relationship between the Hospital and society in Britain and Ireland. In
Chapter 4, I will discuss how the order has been seen in wider historiograph-
ical treatments of crusading, and assess its development in the light of recent
scholarship on the place of the religious orders in late medieval British
society. The relations between the Hospitallers and the general populace
and clergy are also examined in the light of the orders crusading role, its
extension of spiritual privileges to communities and individuals, and its

C. Tyerman, England and the Crusades, 10951588 (Chicago, 1988), passim.
See below, Ch. 8.4.
Introduction 19

dealings with its tenants. It is argued in Chapters 5 to 7 that the Hospitals

relationship with the governing authorities of the British Isles was by far the
most important of these interactions. I will consider the orders place in
national polities, and the tensions arising between kings and priors. Among
the subjects discussed in this context are the employment of priors of
England and Ireland as government servants, the role of the priory during
domestic political upheavals, and the extent of government interference in
prioral elections and in other appointments in the orders gift. Thirdly, in
Chapter 8, I will discuss the place of the English langue in the life of the
convent, with particular attention being given to the langue as a body, to the
varieties of conventual service which British members of the order per-
formed, and to the British involvement in the two Turkish sieges of Rhodes.
The role and functions of the turcopolier are also considered in detail. A brief
nal chapter looks at the careers of the remaining and former Hospitallers in
Malta and England in the years after the dissolution and at the restoration of
the priory in 15578, while appendices list dignitaries of the order, its British
and Irish members active between 1460 and 1565, and its income from its
English and Welsh lands in 1535 and 1540.
Despite the international and national importance of the order of St John,
no detailed discussion of the full range of its activities in the British Isles over
a substantial period has yet been written. A few general histories of the
English or British Hospitallers exist, but most have been populist works
produced by persons connected with the order in some way. Until the years
after the Second World War, there was little academic interest in the order in
the English-speaking world. Partly this is because there was no good general
history of the Hospital covering the later Middle Ages that might have
provided a framework in which to set the activities of its British brethren.
While Hospitaller history between 1310 and 1421 had been narrated by
Joseph Delaville le Roulx in 1913, no reliable and comprehensive institu-
tional history of the order in the years between 1421 and 1522 was pub-
lished until 2001.105 British scholars, moreover, were discouraged from
study of the orders archives by J. M. Kembles statement that there were
but few documents in the orders archives on Malta which related to its
English langue, its chancery registers being unrewarding in this respect.106
By 1914 the Maltese, at least, knew better, but the researches of scholars
such as Mifsud, Galea, Scicluna, and Vizzari de Sannazaro, naturally
enough, focused on the langues activities after its departure from Rhodes,
and only touched incidentally on earlier developments.107 It was not until
Sarnowskys magisterial Macht und Herrschaft, remedies this lack.
Report, p. vii; See also W. K. R. Bedford and R. Holbeche, The Order of the Hospital of
St. John of Jerusalem (London, 1902), 32: At Malta scarcely anything relating to the English
members of the order is preserved.
Mifsud, Venerable Tongue; J. Galea Henry VIII and the Order of St. John, Journal of the
Archaeological Association, 3rd ser., 12 (1949), 5969; BDVTE; Sannazaro, Venerable
20 Introduction

the 1950s that extra-Mediterranean scholars such as Lionel Butler and

Charles Tipton displayed much interest in the langue. Like some of his
predecessors as librarians at St Johns Gate, Butler collected considerable
material without publishing very much, but Tipton was able to complete a
thesis and several articles covering the history of the langue between 1378
and 1409 before ceasing production in 1970.108 Since then useful studies of
individual priors based on both English and Maltese materials have been
published by Peter Field, Pamela Willis, and Anthony Gross, while Anthony
Luttrell has looked at the English contributions to the construction of
Bodrum and Jurgen Sarnowsky has examined the relationship between
kings and priors of England between 1450 and 1500.109 If Tipton and
Sarnowsky have produced competent narratives of fairly substantial
periods, their failure to make substantial use of English manuscript materials
has rendered their treatments less complete, than they might have been, and
they concentrate, in any case, on the relationship between the order and the
English crown to the neglect of its other activities in Britain and Ireland. Of
these, only onethe administration of the orders estateshas been the
subject of substantial study. A number of histories of individual Hospitaller
houses in Britain and Ireland have appeared, the best of them based on
locally produced archival materials110 and the most wide-ranging being
the works of William Rees of Michael Gervers and latterly of Barney Sloane
and Gordon Malcolm. Reess study is essentially an examination of the
commanderies of Slebech, Halston, and Dinmore, based on considerable
knowledge of English and Welsh sources, but demonstrating little awareness
of the orders wider role.111 Michael Gerverss work on the Hospitaller
cartulary of 1442 is much more impressive. Besides editing the sections of
the document relating to Essex, Gervers has also analysed both the growth

London, SJG, Butler Papers; C. L. Tipton, The English Langue of the Knights Hospi-
tallers during the Great Schism, Ph.D. thesis, University of Southern California, 1964; id.,
English and Scottish Hospitallers; id., The English Hospitallers during the Great Schism,
Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 4 (1967), 91124; id., Irish Hospitallers.
P. J. C. Field, Sir Robert Malory, Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England
(14321439/40), JEH 28 (1977), 24964; id., The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory
(Cambridge, 1993), 6882; P. Willis, Sir John Langstrother, a Fifteenth Century Knight of St
John, SJHSP 2 (1990), 307; A. Gross, The Dissolution of the Lancastrian Kingship: Sir John
Fortescue and the Crisis of Monarchy in Fifteenth-Century England (Stamford, 1996), 1079,
1213, 12732; A. T. Luttrell, English Contributions to the Hospitaller Castle at Bodrum in
Turkey: 14071437, MO ii. 16372; J. Sarnowsky, Kings and Priors: The Hospitaller Priory of
England in the Later Fifteenth Century, MMR 83102.
See in particular Hugo, Mynchin Buckland; id., The History of Eagle, in the County of
Lincolnshire, a Commandery of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem (London,
1876); E. Hermitage Day, The Preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Dinmore, Western
Hereford, OSJHP 3 (1930); E. Puddy, A Short History of the Order of the Hospital of St. John
of Jerusalem in Norfolk (Dereham, 1961); E. Gooder, Temple Balsall: From Hospitallers to a
Caring Community, 1322 to Modern Times (Chichester, 1999); S. Thurley, Hampton Court:
A Social and Architectural History (London, 2003).
Rees, Wales.
Introduction 21

and administration of the Hospitals landed estate, and the development of

its archival organization. His work provides a great body of material against
which to measure the orders estate management in the fteenth and six-
teenth centuries. His work is both enriched and complemented by the
exceptionally thorough and highly stimulating archaeological examination
of the prioral headquarters at Clerkenwell recently published by Drs Sloane
and Malcolm under the auspices of the Museum of London. This volume
reveals the priory to have had the character of a palace as much as that of a
religious house, and makes apparent the considerable size and sophistication
of the architectural elements which formerly populated the site.112 Yet only
one study, the Scottish History Societys 1982 volume on the Hospital in
Scotland, attempts to synthesize both local and Maltese archival material to
examine any signicant proportion of the Hospitallers post-1409 British
history in real depth. This collection of previously unprinted sources draws
together a wide range of material, prefaced by a useful study of the orders
history and administration in Scotland, and the activities of its brethren in
England, Rhodes, and Malta.113 A catalogue of documents relating to the
orders Scottish brethren in the orders archives in Malta is appended.
The present volume attempts to take account of a similar range of mater-
ials. The most important sources for the fteenth- and sixteenth-century
history of the order of St John in Britain and Ireland are those produced by
the Hospitallers themselves. The orders archives, housed in the National
Library of Malta, are divided into seventeen classes of document, of which
three have been used extensively in preparing this study. These are the Libri
Conciliorum (minute books of the orders council), Libri Bullarum (registers
of magistral and conventual bulls), and proceedings of chapters-general. The
Libri Conciliorum, which survive from 1459, note the elections of the chief
dignitaries of the English langue, the squabbles of its brethren over seniority
and appointments, the punishment of their breaches of discipline, and their
tenure of conventual ofces and military commands. Light is shed, too, on
the prerogatives and functions of the turcopolier and on the relationships
between the Scottish and Irish-born brethren and their more numerous
English counterparts.114 The Libri Bullarum, which cover most of the period
after 1399, are still more valuable, recording the resolution of the debates
noted in the books of the council and a great many less controversial
decisions besides. Among the issues they document are the movements of

M. Gervers, The Hospitaller Cartulary in the British Library (Cotton MS Nero EVI)
(Toronto, 1981); id. (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England.
Secunda Camera. Essex (London, 1982); id. (ed.), The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John
in England. Prima Camera. Essex (Oxford, 1996): Excavations.
AOM 73 et seq.; discussed in Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 1112. Unless otherwise
stated, I have used the modern pencil foliation rather than the original or intermediate foliations
when referring to the documents in the Maltese archives.
22 Introduction

brethren to and from convent, the appointment of priors, commanders,

visitors, and nancial ofcials to posts in all parts of Britain and Ireland,
payments of monies by British knights in convent, assignments on the
orders English revenues made out to Hospitallers and merchants, and the
instructions issued to ambassadors going to Westminster and Edinburgh.115
The third great class of the orders medieval chancery documents, the
proceedings of its chapters-general, record the work of most of the meetings
held between 1454 and 1565, and besides more generally applicable legis-
lation, include decisions on many of the disputes involving British brethren
referred to chapter by the master and council.116 Other pertinent material is
scattered elsewhere in the archives, particularly in section I, the miscellan-
eous original documents comprising which include Henry VIIIs 1537 char-
ter to the order, a collection of letters from the same monarch to grand
master LIsle Adam dating from 1524 to 1534, the accounts of the English
auberge in Viterbo from 1525 to 1527, and most signicantly the Ricette
dInghilterre, the accounts presented by receivers of the common treasury in
England to the chief nancial ofcers in convent between 1520 and 1536.117
These not only provide a detailed account of the responsions paid and
arrears owing from the whole of the British Isles, but also list the expenses
incurred by receivers and their deputies in the exercise of their ofcers, and
illustrate the exchange operations in which the English brethren were in-
volved.118 The most important documents relating solely to the English
langue to be found elsewhere in the archives are the 1338 extent of its
possessions, income, and outgoings in England and Wales and the minute
book of the proceedings of the English langue between 1523 and 1567, both
of which have long been published.119 From the point of view of this study,
the 1338 extent, like the cartulary of 1442, chiey provides a point of
comparison against which to set later developments, but the minute book
of the langue furnishes a great deal of evidence on the workings and com-
petence of that body, on the interactions between its brethren, and on their
military service.
Along with the products of the orders conventual chancery, a number of
documents produced in Hospitaller houses in Britain and Ireland also sur-
vive. Of these the most substantial and important for the period covered by
this study are the registers of the grants of provincial chapters held in
England between 1492 and 1539.120 These provide evidence of the farming
out of the orders estates, parish churches, and confraternity collections in

AOM316 et seq.; discussed in Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 1113.
AOM36; 57, cc. 112 (original numeration); 53, fos. 70r72r (49r51r); 54.
Further information about exchange dealings can be gleaned from the Libri Bullarum and
various materials in England and Italy.
Report; BDVTE.
London, BL, MS Lansdowne 200; BL MS Cotton Claudius E.vi; London, PRO, LR2/62.
Introduction 23

England and Wales,121 besides recording grants of corrodies, chaplaincies,

and ofces to the orders servants and associates, manumissions of servile
tenants, and short-term leases of the commanderies of those brethren resi-
dent in or on their way to convent. They thus illustrate not merely the
organization of the orders estates and the movements of its brethren but
also its connections with English and Welsh society. The evidence they
provide can usefully be set against the 1338 extent, the 1442 cartulary,
and the surviving fteenth- and sixteenth-century estate documents and
court rolls of Hospitaller commanderies and manors, only a selection of
which have been utilized in this study.122 But the lease books are not
comprehensive guides to the orders landholdings or their administration.
The closest we have to such are the crowns great survey of the churchs
holdings in England and Wales, the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, the prot
and loss accounts of former Hospitaller estates produced by the ministers of
the English crown from 15401, and the crown surveys of former Irish
monastic estates in Ireland of the same period.123 None of these is quite
comprehensive, but the Ministers Accounts and crown surveys, in particu-
lar, provide a wide variety of information about the running of most of the
orders estates, and not simply those leased out by its provincial chapters.
A similar, internally produced extent of the orders estates in Scotland was
commissioned by the preceptor of Torphichen, Walter Lindsay, in 1539.124
A miscellany of other documents produced by the Hospital also survives in
repositories in Britain and Ireland. These include copies of its privileges,
grants of confraternity and indulgences drawn up by its brethren or agents,
and even a brief late fourteenth-century chronicle.125
Much information concerning the order, particularly that illustrating its
relationship with wider society in Britain and Ireland, derives from sources
produced by other corporations. The most signicant corporate sources are
the chancery, legal, parliamentary, and exchequer records of the English and
Scottish crowns, bishops registers, and the materials in Venice and Rome
calendared by HMSO, all of which have been used herein. Of these, the chief
runs of royal grants and acts in chancery, council, and parliament have of
course been calendared, but legal records have, by and large, not been, and
recourse has therefore been had to the unpublished records of the English

For similar developments in Scotland, see Scotland, lxiilxiv.
BL Additional MSS 5493, 5539; BL Cotton Charter xxv, 2; BL Harleian Charter 44E.26,
2831, 33, 39, 40, 435, 47; 57F.18; BL Sloane Ch. xxi, 10; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS
Rawlinson Essex 11.
Valor; PRO SC6/Henry VIII/2402, 4458, 72624, 7268, 7272, 7274; Extents.
Scotland, lxxxi, lxxvlxxviii, lxxxilxxxvi, 140.
BL Sloane Ch. xxxii, 15, 27; BL Cotton Ch. iv., 31; BL Additional Ch.14030, 20679;
E. G. Duff, Fifteenth Century English Books: A Bibliography of Books and Documents Printed
in England and of Books for the English Market Printed Abroad (Oxford, 1917), nos. 2048;
BL Additional MS 17319, fos. 119; M. L. Colker, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and
Renaissance Manuscripts in Trinity College, Dublin, 2 vols. (Dublin, 1991), ii. 9225.
24 Introduction

courts of chancery, star chamber, and requests. If estate records, particularly

grants of leases, present a generally formal picture of the relationship between
the order and its tenants, surviving legal documents demonstrate what might
happen if this should break down, and illustrate the response the order
adopted when faced with recalcitrant tenants who damaged its property or
refused to vacate their leases. As might be expected, the expansion of the
administrative activity of both British crowns, particularly the English, in
the period covered by this study resulted in increasingly rich and informative
documentation of all the orders activities. Most signicantly, an increasing
concern to retain correspondence and personal papers of interest to the state
resulted in a more substantial body of diplomatic and other correspondence
between both the order and its members and the English and Scottish crowns
surviving from the sixteenth than from any earlier century. These illustrate
some matters, such as the internal tensions and rivalries obtaining between
members of the English langue in the 1530s, very fully.126 Fifteenth-century
correspondence concerning the order is much less substantial, but all the main
collections of family papers surviving from England, with the exception of the
Armburgh papers, contain items relating to the Hospital, as of course does the
surviving correspondence of the English and Scottish crowns. Taken together
with bishops registers, proceedings of church councils, and chronicles, pri-
vate correspondence provides important information about both the orders
relationship with society and its activities in the public sphere. Where corres-
pondence is largely lacking, as in Ireland, the importance of the records of the
state and of the episcopacy becomes still more crucial.
These materials make possible the study of the Hospitallers of the English
langue in some depth. Their individual wealth, status, and mixture of reli-
gious profession and military occupation made them exceptional among
members of religious orders in late medieval Britain and Ireland. They
could, moreover, be seen in various guises. Their continued commitment to
their military functions was exceptional in a British context, and the extent
of their nancial and institutional attachment to their overseas mother-
house was hardly less remarkable. They certainly represented themselves
as active campaigners against the indel, but they also performed a number
of functions only tangentially related to their military operations, and which
probably affected perceptions of them. Thus governments might see them in
terms of the services they could perform on royal behalf, while to the clergy
they might represent an intrusion into their pastoral care for the laity, and to
the populace they were important as a reservoir of spiritual and temporal
privilege, or as landowners and employers. This work will attempt to
examine all of these roles, and to hold them, as the Hospitallers tried to
do, in balance.

Of particular importance is BL MS Cotton Otho C.ix, a collection of correspondence
relating chiey to the order of St John and dating from 1510 to 1540.

The Hospital in England and

Wales, c.14601540: The Prior,
his Brethren, and Conventual Life

By the time Paschal II placed it under papal protection in 1113, the Hospital
of St John in Jerusalem was already planning to establish or acquire subsid-
iary xenodochia in Italy and southern France.1 Although these establish-
ments on the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem were to serve as an extension of the
Hospitals charitable functions, the accordance of papal protection and
recognition to the nascent order prompted further grants of lands, rents,
and properties throughout Latin Christendom, a process intensied by the
orders increasing prominence in the defence of the Holy Land after the
second crusade. By conrming the subjugation of the Hospitals overseas
territories to the mother-house in Jerusalem, the bull of 1113 and the
privileges which followed it also helped pave the way for the development
of a centralized international order whose houses in western Europe were
geared towards providing it with men, money, food, and clothing for the
provision of hospitality to sick pilgrims and the defence of the Latin East. By
the thirteenth century a network of regional, priories and subordinate local
preceptories had been established to supply the convent in the Holy Land
with these necessities, a function it continued to full for hundreds of years
to come. Yet the orders local houses were not merely adjuncts to its central
convent in the east. They were also religious houses with resident brethren
and a spiritual and liturgical life of their own, with some inuence on local
political and ecclesiastical affairs and with a close relationship with the laity,
to whom they provided spiritual services such as confession, marriage, and
burial outside the constraints of the parochial system. The following chapter
will examine these characteristics, concentrating rst on the orders brethren
and their recruitment, families, and career structure, before looking at their
conventual life and households.

The Rule, Customs and Statutes of the Hospitallers 10991310, ed. and trans. E. King
(London, 1934), 1619, 18. For discussion of these supposed establishments, see Luttrell,
Earliest Hospitallers, 4452.
26 The Prior and his Brethren

2.1 Brethren

The professed brethren of the Hospital were divided into knights, chaplains,
and sergeants, whether sergeants-at-arms or sergeants-at-ofce.2 There were
also Hospitaller nuns, who in the priory of England had been gathered in one
house, Minchin Buckland in Somerset, since 1180, but whose activities will
not be much considered here.3 Among the brethren, chaplains had originally
enjoyed precedence but had been ousted from this by the knights in the
1230s.4 The ceremony for the reception of a brother of any class into the
order was essentially the same as it had been in the twelfth century, although
some renements had been added. The candidate appeared before a chapter
of the order shriven and wearing a white gown to show himself free and
presented himself before the altar, a burning candle in his hand signifying the
re of charitable love. He then heard mass, received the eucharist, and asked
the receiving brother to admit him to the company of the Hospital. The
receiving brother underlined the privileges and hardships involved in mem-
bership and stressed the impediments to reception: a prior vow to another
religion, a marital contract, grave debts to a third party or servile status. If
the candidate professed himself free from these he then swore the three
substantial vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He further promised
to be a slave of our lords the sick poor and to uphold the Catholic faith in
accordance with the orders Hospitaller and military traditions. In return he
was promised bread, water, humble clothing, and the inclusion of his parents
and kindred in the spiritual benets provided by the orders masses, ofces,
fasting, and alms-giving.5
While the admission ceremony itself was largely unaltered, the profound
changes which had occurred since the twelfth century in the orders own
ethos and those of the societies in which it operated were reected in a host
of regulations surrounding the entry of brethren, especially knight-brethren.
Just as secular knighthood was increasingly conferred only on candidates of
gentle family and legitimate birth, in 1262 the Hospital established that no
brother was to be knighted unless he was of knightly family, a stipulation
followed eight years later by the requirement that knights should be born of
legitimately married parents, unless they were the sons of counts or of
greater nobility.6 In the fteenth century these regulations were interpreted

Stabilimenta De receptione fratrum, ii.
A Cartulary of Buckland Priory in the County of Somerset, ed. F. W. Weaver, Somerset
Record Society, 25 (London, 1909), p. xviii and no. 7.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 234, 238.
Cartulaire general de lordre des hospitaliers de S. Jean de Jerusalem, ed. J. Delaville le
Roulx, 4 vols. (Paris, 18941906), no. 2213 (Usances) #121; Stabilimenta, De receptione
fratrum, i, consuetudo.
Stabilimenta, De receptione fratrum, iv, vii (Statutes of Hugh Revel).
The Prior and his Brethren 27

to mean that both parents of brother knights were to be gentlemanly in

name and arms.7 Chaplains and sergeants merely had to be legitimately and
freely born, although nuns were to have gentle parents.8 Not only were entry
conditions tightened: from the fourteenth century the reception of brethren
was also subjected to closer central control. Originally a candidate had been
able to present himself before any chapter meeting in any Hospitaller house
and be received. While this arrangement may have been suitable for the
provision of the large numbers of chaplains and sergeants-at-ofce required
by the orders charitable establishments in Palestine and for the rapid re-
cruitment of military brethren to replace the numerous casualties suffered in
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it was no longer appropriate in the years
after the conquest of Rhodes, when losses were less dramatic and the order
suffered from severe nancial difculties. In such circumstances the appear-
ance of large numbers of brethren from the west might be unwelcome, so
it was decided that no ofcer or brother of the order was to receive a brother
or donat without express magistral licence, unless there was a local shortage
of brother chaplains or sergeants-at-ofce.9 The reception of brethren
remained subject to magistral licence in the fteenth and sixteenth centuries,
as the surviving enrolments of licences to English knights to receive brethren
into the order testify. Those granted such permissions were to note the
candidates name and date of reception and afx their seals lest more than
the designated number be admitted.10
Statutes were also passed to ensure the suitability of candidates. Those
who knowingly received a religious of another order, a murderer, or some-
one whose previous life had been abominable were to be expelled from the
Hospital and priors, preceptors, and conventual brethren who admitted an
unworthy candidate into knighthood were to be deprived respectively of a
prioral camera (estate), a preceptory, or prospects of promotion. The same
penalties were to be inicted on those who testied inaccurately to the worth
of a candidate.11 In addition, during the mastership of Antoni Fluvia, the
system of requiring proofs of nobility from those intending to become
knight-brethren was instituted. Such men were henceforth to come before
the annual provincial chapter of their local priory, where information would
be presented concerning their origin, gentility, manners, disposition, and

Ibid., iv.
Ibid., i (consuetudo), v (Statute of Hugh Revel).
Ibid., De receptione fratrum, viiii (Statute of Helion de Villeneuve, 131946). The
Hospital had been passing measures to limit recruitment since 1292. A. Forey, Recruitment
to the Military Orders (Twelfth to Mid-Fourteenth Centuries), in id., Military Orders and
Crusades, art. ii, 13971, at 159.
Stabilimenta, De receptione fratrum, xvixvii (Statute of Antoni Fluvia, 142137).
Rule, ed. King, 6970 (Statute of Hugh Revel, 1265); Stabilimenta, De receptione fra-
trum, xii (Statute of Fluvia), xviii (Statute of Jacques de Milly, 145461. Original text:
AOM282, fo. 21rv). Similar penalties were also stipulated in other Military Orders. Forey,
Recruitment, 142, 1523.
28 The Prior and his Brethren

health in mind and body.12 By the 1480s, however, these provisions were
indifferently enforced, a statute of Pierre dAubusson noting that examin-
ation of the gentility and suitability of knights was rarely made, if ever.
Accordingly it was enacted that candidates for knighthood were to prove
their sufciency within two years of their reception by provincial chapter
and were to present such proofs within the same term to the master and
council ordinary in convent.13 For seven years thereafter these were to be
subject to challenge by such brethren as might object to their legitimacy.14
Those who failed to present sufcient proofs within two years were never to
rise above the grade of sergeant-at-ofce.15 This statute remained in force
throughout the remaining period of the orders existence in Britain and
A nal requirement for reception was sufcient age. In 1433 it was laid
down that no brother was to be received under the age of 14 and that those
received at this age, although they would be clothed and fed by the order,
were not to receive the stipend paid to their elders, to bear arms, or to count
the seniority on which the orders promotion system was based until they
were 18.16 In 1504 it was further ordained that brethren received in the
western priories should be at least 18.17 Similarly, brother chaplains were
not to be received until they had served the order for a year and were subject
to the usual canonical restrictions on the age at which they could be
In 1338 there were 113 or more professed brethren subject to the priory in
England, Wales, and Scotland and one more in France.19 They lived in fty
houses, of which forty-two were bajuliae subject to a preceptor, and eight

Stabilimenta, De receptione fratrum, xvi (Statute of Fluvia); Sarnowsky, Macht und
Herrschaft, 198. In 1452 the langue of Italy insisted that a prospective knight provide written
testimony of his suitability from the prior of Pisa, another named brother and several, more of
the priorys brethren within a year. S. Fiorini and A. T. Luttrell, The Italian Hospitallers at
Rhodes, 14371462, Revue Mabillon, 68 (1996), 20931, at 2289.
Stabilimenta, De receptione fratrum, xix, xx (Statutes of Pierre dAubusson, 147889).
Ibid., xix (Statute of dAubusson).
Ibid., xx (Statute of dAubusson).
Ibid., xv (Statute of Fluvia); AOM1649, fo. 329rv.
AOM284, fo. 77v; Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 199.
Stabilimenta, De ecclesia, xiiii (Statute of Revel).
Kembles introduction to the Report of 1338 names 116 supposed brethren found therein.
However, Robert de Norfolk, Thomas FitzNeel, and William West, who are listed as in loco
militis and John Baruwe, who appears in loco capellani were corrodians rather than professed
brethren, while Henry of Buckston, Alan Macy, and John de Thame, all of whom Kemble lists
twice, should only appear once. It is also unclear whether Walter Launcelyn, who was described
as a chaplain, was a brother of the Hospital, as Kemble assumed. However, one sergeant,
William Hustwayte, and four brethren of uncertain class whom Kemble does not list among
his 116 names can be added to the overall total, giving a gure of 113 or 114 professed brethren,
to which can be added Richard de Barnewell, who was in charge of the preceptory of Diluge
in France, and the prior himself, who is not named anywhere except in the title of the report.
It is worth noting however, that the Hospitallers themselves counted 119 brethren. Report,
pp. lxilxiii, 214.
The Prior and his Brethren 29

were camerae governed by a custos.20 Most houses had between one and
three resident brethren, the exceptions being Clerkenwell, where there were
seven, Buckland, with six, and Chippenham, where four Hospitallers cared
for six or seven of their sick brethren in a small hospital.21 Fifty Hospitaller
nuns dwelt at the priory of Buckland in addition to the brethren at the
preceptory there.22 In 1338 chaplains and sergeants played a full part in
both conventual life and administration. Chaplains were about as numerous
as brother knights, while sergeants outnumbered both.23 Seventeen ser-
geants and six chaplains held bajuliae.24
By the late fteenth century this situation had greatly altered. Professed
sergeants, although still existing in small numbers in continental Europe and
on Rhodes,25 had disappeared completely in the priory of England. While an
English brother was licensed to receive two brother sergeants in 1439, and
an agreement of 14401 envisaged provision being made for professed
sergeants or chaplains in the small, priorally held preceptories of Hogshaw,
Greenham, Maltby, and Poling, no reference to a British brother sergeant
can be found in the orders records between 1460 and 1560.26 Professed
chaplains did not fare much better. Although there were still a number
resident at Clerkenwell in the early fteenth century and the 1460s,27 and
the conventual church there continued to be under the jurisdiction of a
professed subprior until the Dissolution, no English, Scottish, or Welsh
preceptory was granted to a brother chaplain after 1460, except perhaps
Clerkenwell, where in the 1440s the subprior held the title of preceptor but
was in effect a salaried ofcer of the prior without control of the revenues of
the house.28 Nor are chaplains recorded at the provincial chapters for which

Included in this latter gure are the camerae of Stanton, which was under the rule of the
preceptor of Dinmore, who may not have resided at the smaller house, and of Upleadon, under
the custos Robert Cort. This was probably the same man as the preceptor of Eagle and Temple
Brewer, and Upleadon may thus have been uninhabited. Not included is the camera of Ashley,
which was in the charge of a former Templar, Roger de Dalton. Report, 200, 196, 121.
Ibid. 101, 19, 78, 80.
Ibid. 19.
Kemble in his notes to Thames Report, pp. lxilxiii, divided the brethren into thirty-four
knights, forty-eight sergeants-at-arms, and thirty-four chaplains. Dr Forey has suggested gures
of thirty-one knights and forty-seven sergeants. Forey, Recruitment, 145.
Report, passim.
A statute of 1467 stipulated that twenty of the brethren expected to live in convent should
be sergeants. In later years the total number of brethren was increased but the contingent of
sergeants, none of whom was to be from the English langue, remained constant. AOM283, fos.
39rv; 144r; 285, fo. 2r.
AOM354, fos. 200v, 215r.
Between 1417 and 1422 Henry V ordered the prior of England, William Hulles, to make
sure that the prioral church should be fully conventual, as it had been until the time of Edward
III, rather than supporting secular clergy and two or three professed brethren. In 1469 the
subprior and two brother chaplains were among the brethren presenting John Langstrother to
the king. Monasticon anglicanum, ed. W. Dugdale et al., 6 vols. in 8 (London, 181730), vi, II,
839, CCR146876, 1012.
AOM355, fo. 168v.
30 The Prior and his Brethren

attendance lists survive between 1492 and 1529, save for an assembly of
1515, at which Robert Parapart, the subprior, and John Blome, brother
chaplain, were present, probably in order to render the gathering quorate.29
References to professed chaplains are indeed so scarce that it is unlikely that
there were ever more than about six or seven residing in England at any time
after c.1460, the last magistral licence to admit English brother chaplains
into the order so that they could serve in Rhodes being granted in 1473.30
The orders appropriated churches were largely staffed by secular clergy,31 as
were its preceptory chapels,32 with the possible exception of Buckland,
leases of which specied that two of ve chaplains to be found by the lessee
were to be de cruce.33 Even at Clerkenwell, only one of the priests or
chaplains appointed to serve and sing in the church of St John between
1492 and 1526 was described as brother.34 Although some of the chaplains
appointed to ofces at Clerkenwell were probably later professed, priests in
the orders service, denied promotion to preceptories, may generally have
avoided taking vows which would no longer enhance their career pro-
spects.35 There were exceptions. John Mablestone was clearly marked out
for advancement from early in his career, and was already a brother when he
was ordained priest in 1510. He received the orders wealthy benece of
Ludgershall in 1511 and was dispatched shortly afterwards to Bologna,
where he took doctorates in each law later in the same decade.36 His absence
from his cure in the meantime was permitted under a papal privilege of

Claudius E.vi, fo. 156v. The 1478 chapter-general had ruled that the common seal of
the priory should only be used in chapter and in the presence of four preceptors. AOM283,
fo. 183rv.
AOM384, fo. 72rv.
Possible exceptions include brother William Corner, who held the rectory of Swarraton,
subject to the preceptory of Baddesley, until his death in 1493, and a brother Stephen Bekley
who died as rector of the orders benece of Knolton in 1487, but it is uncertain whether either
of these was a Hospitaller rather than a regular of another order. The Register of John Morton
Archbishop of Canterbury 14861500, ed. C. Harper-Bill, 3 vols, CYS, 75 (York, 1985); 78, 89
(Woodbridge, 19872000), ii, no. 119; i, no. 370.
The registers of the orders provincial chapters note numerous appointments of preceptory
chaplains. John Lyndesey, appointed chaplain of Maltby in 1492, was the only professed
recipient of such a grant. BL MS Lansdowne 200, fo. 4v.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 84rv; BL MS Claudius E.vi, fos. 56v57r, 169r. In 1506 the Hospi-
taller prioress of Buckland, Joan Coffyn, and a Freere Thomas Coort witnessed the will of the
farmer of the preceptory of Buckland. Somerset Medieval Wills 13831550, ed. F. W. Weaver,
Somerset Record Society, 3 vols. in 1 (repr. Gloucester, 1983), ii. 105.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 254r.
Dr Forey has noted that even in the fourteenth century the international orders seem to
have experienced long-term difculties in nding sufcient clerics who wanted to take the
habit. With the decline in population and decrease in admissions to religious houses after the
Black Death, recruitment difculties probably increased. In 1531 the order was having trouble
recruiting secular priests to serve at Clerkenwell. Forey, Recruitment, 158; LPFD, v, no. 111.
London, Guildhall Library MS 9531/9, fo. 159r/171r (consulted from Cambridge Univer-
sity Library Manuscript Microlm 8271); A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the Uni-
versity of Oxford A.D.1501 to 1540 (Oxford, 1974), 688; An Episcopal Court Book of the
Diocese of Lincoln 15141520, ed. M. Bowker, Lincoln Record Society, 61 (Lincoln, 1967), 25.
The Prior and his Brethren 31

1448, which allowed the prior of England to retain eight chaplains in his
own service.37 Yet he does not appear as brother chaplain or brother
priest in the orders internal documents until 1524.38 He was appointed
chancellor of the priory in 1526, and was subprior by the 1530s, a position
he retained until the dissolution.39 But in 1540 only four non-knights,
including Mablestone, were granted a pension, and it is not certain that
the master of the Temple, William Armistead, and his subordinate chaplains
were also professed. A pension had also been granted to the chaplain of the
nuns at Buckland, brother William Mawdesley, in 1539.40
Despite the Hospitals general failure to attract brother chaplains, it was
happy to allow members of other orders to enter its ranks, and may even
have poached them. Two outstanding defectors were John Tynemouth, a
Franciscan doctor of theology admitted to the Hospital without licence from
his superiors in 1506,41 and Philip Underwood, who had been in charge of
the nances of the Charterhouse for some years and was received as a
confrater in 1514.42 Tynemouth was appointed rector of Ludgershall in
1506, and prebendary of Blewbury, perhaps the most important benece
in the orders gift, in 1511.43 Yet if some gifted men were attracted to the
orders service, others were lost. A Hospitaller who became a suffragan
bishop, William Bachelor,44 was so busy on diocesan affairs that it is
unlikely that he did his order, which had presumably trained and educated
him, much service.
Although it was clearly important to the Hospital that its subprior and
perhaps some of its chief benece holders should be professed and educated,
it is often difcult to distinguish its clerical brethren from the priests and
chaplains who staffed its appropriated churches and commandery chapels.45
Far more information survives about the orders knights, a majority among
its brethren from at least the 1370s.46 Recruitment of brother knights was
largely governed by the requirements of the central convent rather than
requests for admittance in England. In accordance with the statutes most
Episcopal Court Book, ed. Bowker, 25; CPL x. 189.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 238r, 254r.
AOM412, fos. 191rv, 197v198r; LPFD, xi, no. 917.
Statutes, iii. 780; LPFD, xv, no. 1032, p. 544.
CPL, xviii, no. 37. For Tynemouths previous career see A. B. Emden, A Biographical
Register of the University of Cambridge to A.D.1500 (Cambridge, 1963), 602.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 132r; AOM404, fo. 146v.
Emden, Cambridge, 602.
Bachelor, who held a bishopric in partibus, was involved in the administration of Chiche-
ster diocese. Another supposed Hospitaller bishop, Thomas Cornish, was associated rather with
the hospital of St John Baptist in Wells. HBC 286; J. A. F. Thomson, Richard Tollet and Thomas
Cornish: Two West Country Early Tudor Churchmen, Southern History, 19 (1997), 6173, at
For these see below, 54, 75, 101.
Tipton listed only thirteen of seventy-seven or seventy-eight brethren of the priory of
England active between 1378 and 1409 as priests or chaplains, although some of the remainder
were probably priests. Tipton, English Langue, 1228.
32 The Prior and his Brethren

knight-brethren must have received the habit during a provincial chapter,

following which they were dispatched to the convent. Additionally, magis-
tral licences were occasionally granted to senior brethren to admit specied
numbers of knights or chaplains into the order. Between 1460 and 1511
faculties to receive sixty-six knights and three chaplains into the priories of
England and Ireland were enrolled in the Libri Bullarum.47 The reasons for
their issue are rarely specied but they probably served both as rewards for
prominent knights and as a means of providing manpower quickly. In
December 1471, for example, a licence to William Tornay to admit six
knights was issued at the request of the English brethren in convent, who
were concerned at their low numbers at a time when the order was heavily
committed to war against the Turks. Those received were to be dispatched to
Rhodes with the rst safe passage.48 At other times brethren might be
admitted by request. Thus in February 1467 Robert Botill was empowered
to admit ve knights at the instance of the king and others of the blood royal,
while in 1502 two Italian knights were instructed to investigate the suitabil-
ity of Robert Stewart, the nephew of the seigneur dAubigny, whose admis-
sion was being urged by his uncle and the duke of Nemours.49
Such commissions insisted that the receiving brother establish the suit-
ability of the candidate before a provincial chapter before knighting him,
conferring the habit on him and, with the licence of his superior, dispatching
him to the convent. When the probationary knight reached headquarters he
would be admitted into the English langue on condition that his proofs
follow within two years.50 Brethren who attempted to bypass these proced-
ures, such as Robert Pemberton in 1498 and Humphrey Bevercotes in 1505,
were told to arrange to have their proofs examined before a provincial
chapter like their fellows.51
Although challenges were issued to probationary brethren to prove their
age, and hence their eligibility for the ancienitas (seniority) necessary to
seek promotion, in 1436, 1474, and 1487,52 and one prospective brother,
Thomas Waring, was rejected by the langue as physically invalid and of bad
character, objections to the suitability of prospective brethren for knight-
hood usually focused on the insufciency of the proofs rather than on the

AOM370, fo. 142r; 371, fo. 142r; 374, fo. 142v; 375, fo. 102r; 376, fo. 157v; 378, fos.
148v, 149v150r; 380, fo. 137v; 382, fo. 138v; 384, fos. 57rv, 61r bis, 72rv, 72v; 385, fo. 129v;
386, fo. 131r; 388, fo. 134v; 390, fo. 131v; 392, fo. 100r; 395, fos. 142r, 148rv, 148v; 397, fo.
139v; 400, fo. 150v.
AOM384, fo. 61r.
AOM393, fos. 113rv; 394, fo. 171r (calendared in Scotland, 1712). The Stewarts had
been lords of Aubigny in Berry since 1423. The Seigneur, the aged Beraud Stewart, was serving
as governor of Calabria for Louis XII. Nemours was the commander of the French forces in
southern Italy, where Robert was to be received into the order. G. E. Cockayne (ed.), Complete
Peerage, New edn., ed. V. Gibbs et al., 13 vols. (London, 191059), i. 3278.
Stabilimenta, De receptione fratrum, xx (Statute of dAubusson).
AOM78, fos. 90v91r; 81, fos. 16v17r.
Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 160; AOM382, fo. 136v; 68, fo. 128r; 76, fo. 209r; 389, fo. 134r.
The Prior and his Brethren 33

failings of the candidate.53 Even when these were rejected by the langue,
however, the brother in question might be given time to produce others
formeable accordyng to the stablishment, as Thomas Rawson was in
October 1528.54 Waring, indeed, seems to have been the only Englishman
whose proofs were so irregular that he was permanently denied entry,
although the turcopolier Clement West claimed that his admission had
been blocked by another senior knight-brother, Giles Russell, whose cousin
Anthony would have held the same ancienitas as Waring had he been
With the possible exception of Bevercotes, who, impelled by the devotion
he felt for the Jerusalemite order, arrived in Rhodes without prior admission
in England,56 it is difcult to say whether probationary knights were motiv-
ated to join the order by a genuine vocation or by the rather contradictory
enticements of military adventure and the subsequent attainment of a com-
fortable living in England. What can be stated with condence is that many
were encouraged by existing family connections with the order. Incidental
references in the orders internal documents, heralds visitations, and family
pedigrees prove a large number of family relationships between members of
the order and hint at many more. Among at least 185 knight-brethren active
in the priory of England between 1460 and 1559 no less than seventy-nine
shared a surname with one or other of their fellows,57 while a fair propor-
tion of others came from families that had provided the Hospital with
brethren in the relatively recent past, such as the Malorys, Multons, and
Wests. Additionally, several more knights appear to have been related to a
sister or professed chaplain of the order58 and close ties of kinship existed
between a number of Hospitaller families. When the orders chief tenants
and ofcers are thrown into the equation sympathy for Fields statement that
the late medieval English Hospitallers always arouse suspicions of nepo-
tism threatens to become overwhelming.59
The exact nature of the family relationships between members of the
order is often unclear. Being celibate and ideally leaving no offspring, pro-
fessed Hospitallers seem frequently to have been omitted from the family
pedigrees given to Heralds, and being required to pass on their effects to the

AOM86, fos. 11r, 55r. Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 289.
BDVTE, 43.
LPFD, xii, I, no.1144. West described Anthony Russell as Giless nephew.
AOM81, fos. 16v17r.
See Appendix VII. I have included the Scots but not the Irish, as they belonged to a separate
priory, in this total. Excluded from the total of related brethren are Blase and Ralph Villers, who
I think were one and the same, and Robert and Alexander Stewart, as it is not certain that either
of them actually entered the order. Also excluded are James Sandilands junior, who I believe is
identical with John James Sandilands; John Shelley and Thomas Waring.
Joan Babington, Thomasina Huntington, and Juliana Kendal all seem likely to have been
relations of Hospitaller knights, as does the professed chaplain Thomas Green. See Appendix
Field, Robert Malory, 258.
34 The Prior and his Brethren

order, they left no wills either. Where they occur in Heralds visitations, the
evidence is sometimes in conict with the orders internal documents, in
which nepos appears to have been used to denote any younger relative. Thus
while Lancelot Docwra appears in later visitation records as the son of
Robert Docwra of Kirkby Kendall, Westmorland, and the third cousin of
Thomas Docwra, the prior of England, in documents emanating from
Rhodes and Clerkenwell he occurs as the priors nepos.60 The priors close-
ness to both branches of the family may help resolve the matter, as it seems
possible that Lancelot, like other Westmoreland Docwras, was brought up
in Thomass household.61 Similar considerations arise when one examines
the family relationships between the four Babington knight-brethren. The
1569 visitation of Nottinghamshire states that John I (d. 1533) was a
member of the branch of the family seated at Dethick in Nottinghamshire,
a contention borne out by family wills and other evidence.62 Although his
younger contemporaries John (junior) and Philip are considered to be mem-
bers of the Devon branch of the family in the visitation, the orders archives
have John junior as John seniors nepos.63 Examination of the visitation and
family records, however, led G. T. Clark to reject the younger knights as
members of the Derbyshire branch and assign them to Devon along with the
fourth knight, James.64
Despite such difculties a number of kinship ties within and between
families connected with the order can be identied with condence. Without
implying that such extended Hospitaller families were typical, it may be
instructive to discuss three groupings involving some of the orders more
prominent knights. The most signicant of these was that centred on the
Weston family. The Westons themselves produced four Hospitallers in
the fteenth centuryThomas (d. 1456), John (d. 1489), William senior

The Visitations of Hertfordshire made by Robert Cooke, Esq., Clarencieux, in 1572, and
Sir Richard St. George, Kt., Clarencieux, in 1634, with Hertfordshire Pedigrees from Harleian
MSS. 6147 and 1546, ed. W. C. Metcalfe, HSP, 22 (London, 1886), 139; The Visitation of
Cambridgeshire made in Ao (1575), continued and enlarged wth the Vissitation of the Same
County made by Henery St George, Richmond-Herald, Marshall and Deputy to Willm. Cam-
den, Clarenceulx, in Ao 1619, wth Many Other Descents added thereto, ed. W. Clay, HSP 41
(London, 1897), 445; Claudius E.vi, fo. 173v; AOM393, fo. 143v; 404, fo. 149r. The last
source describes Lancelot as Thomass fraternal nephew.
For example, John Docwra, son and heir of Thomas Docwra of Kirkby Kendall, was
granted a messuage and stable just outside the priory gatehouse in 1524 and a corrody in the
same year, and was married in the priorys buttery in 1526. Claudius E.vi, fos. 129v, 129v130r;
Lansdowne 200, fo. 1r.
The Visitations of the County of Nottingham in the Years 1569 and 1614, with Many
Other Descents of the Same County, ed. G. W. Marshall, HSP, 4 (London, 1871), 152; North
Country Wills . . . 1383 to 1558, ed. J. W. Clay, Surtees Society, 116 (Durham, 1908), no. 35;
G. T. Clark, The Babingtons, Knights of St John, Archaeological Journal, 36 (1879), 21930,
at 2201, 224. The involvement of the Nottinghamshire Babingtons in the administration of the
orders estates can be traced in Claudius E.vi, fos. 7rv, 69v70r, 158rv, 202r, 258rv, 280rv, 287v;
PRO SC6/Henry VIII/7272 mm.1, 5, 6d, 12d; AOM54, fo. 176r.
Visitations of Nottingham, ed. Marshall, 152; BDVTE, 43.
Clark, Babingtons, 2279.
The Prior and his Brethren 35

(d. c.14836), and William junior (d. 1540).65 Thomas Weston was probably
the uncle of John and William senior, who were in turn uncles of William
junior. All of these men were long-serving preceptors and John and Wil-
liam junior became turcopoliers and priors of England. Additionally the
family was related to at least three other Hospitaller families. The maternal
uncle of John and William Weston was the turcopolier William Dawney (d.
1468),66 who may himself have been related to the Dalison and Green families
which produced six or seven Hospitallers between them after 1450, and
through them to the Docwras.67 Moreover, in 1475 William Weston senior
was described by the orders chancery as the germanus of John Botill, the
preceptor of Quenington, and thus was also presumably a relative of Robert
Botill, the prior of England between 1440 and 1468.68 Finally, the son of
William Weston juniors sister Mabel, Thomas Dingley, became a brother
knight in 1526.69
A second network was built up between ve or more families between the
1460s and 1540s. These were the Lincolnshire families of Shefeld,70 Sut-
ton, Upton, and Coppledike, the baronial family of Sutton, Lords Dudley,
and possibly the Grantham and Barnaby families. The Shefelds had pro-
duced one Hospitaller knight, Bryan, by 1463. Another, Thomas, the second
son of Sir Robert Shefeld, entered the order in the 1480s or 1490s and
became receiver of the priory of England, bailiff of Eagle, and magistral
seneschal before his death in 1524.71 The Hospitaller impulse, if it can be so
termed, then passed via Thomas Shefelds sister Margaret, who married
Hamon Sutton of Burton-by-Lincoln, to her son John and daughter Marga-
ret.72 John Sutton became a Hospitaller preceptor and receiver of the priory
Thomas Weston was the preceptor of Ribstone between 1422 and 1456. PRO E315/18/14;
AOM366, fos. 115v116r.
The Visitations of the County of Surrey made and taken in the Years 1530 by Thomas
Benolte, Clarenceux King of Arms; 1572 by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms; and 1623
by Samuel Thompson, Windsor Herald and Augustin Vincent, Rouge Croix Pursuivant, Mar-
shals and Deputies to William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, ed. W. Bruce Bannerman,
HSP, 43 (London, 1899), 7.
Dawneys niece Johanna married a William Dalison and a Gilbert Green was described
shortly after Dawneys death as his consanguineus. However, it is not at all clear that this Green
was related to the Hospitallers Thomas and James, or that either he or they were related to
Thomas Docwras mother, a daughter of Thomas Green of Gressingham, Lancashire. The
Visitation of Yorkshire in the Years 1563 and 1564, made by William Flower, Esquire, Norroy
King of Arms, ed. C. Best Norcliffe, HSP, 16 (London, 1881), 94; AOM377, fo. 249r; Visitations
of Hertfordshire, ed. Metcalfe, 139.
AOM75, fo. 86rv.
Visitations of Surrey, ed. Bannerman, 7; BDVTE, 42. See below, 21519.
The Shefelds were from South Cave, Yorkshire, but moved to Butterwick in Lincolnshire
after the marriage of Sir Robert Shefeld, the father of the Hospitaller Thomas, to the daughter
of Alexander Laund.
AOM374, fo. 139rv; S. T. Bindoff, (ed.), The History of Parliament: The House of
Commons 15091558 (London, 1982), iii. 3045; AOM284, fo. 2r; 394, fos. 177r178r; 409,
fo. 142v; 410, fos. 176rv; 54, fo. 132v.
Lincolnshire Pedigrees, ed. A. R. Maddison, 4 vols., continuously paginated, HSP, 502,
55 (London, 19013, 1906), iii. 939.
36 The Prior and his Brethren

like his uncle, while Margaret married rst William Coppledike of Harring-
ton and later became the second wife of Nicholas Upton of Northolme-by-
Waineet.73 Both her own son Thomas Coppledike and her stepson Nicho-
las Upton became Hospitallers.74 It is also probable that links with the
Lincolnshire Suttons prompted George Dudley alias Sutton, the son of
John Lord Dudley, to join the order, as his paternal aunt had married John
Suttons brother Robert. John Sutton, Thomas Coppledike, and Nicholas
Upton were all still alive when Dudley set off for Malta in 1545, and Upton
was there to receive him.75 Sisters of John Sutton also married into the
Barnaby and Grantham families, although it is unclear whether these were
the same branches that produced knights of the order in the 1520s.76
Similarly close relations existed between the Kendal, Tonge, and probably
Langstrother families. The Tonges produced three knight-brethren in the
fteenth century, William (d. after 1446), Robert (d. 1481), and John
(d. 1510), all of whom held preceptories.77 Although the relationship be-
tween the Tonges themselves has not yet been determined, John Tonge was
the nephew of John Kendal, the prior of England between 1489 and 1501.78
Kendal in turn was possibly related to the Langstrother brothers, who
successively held the bailiwick of Eagle for over twenty years before John
Langstrother became prior in 1469. John Langstrother bequeathed certain
goods to Kendal on his death in 1471,79 and the two families, who both
came from Westmorland,80 were also both related to the non-Hospitaller

Lincolnshire Pedigrees, ed. A. R. Maddison, 4 vols., continuously paginated, HSP, i. 268;
iii. 10256.
BDVTE 412, 201. For the transmission of crusading enthusiasm by women, see J. Riley-
Smith, The First Crusaders, 10951130 (Cambridge, 1997), 93100.
See Appendices VII and VIII and below, Ch.9.
Lincolnshire Pedigrees, ed. Maddison, iii. 938.
By 1428, William Tonge was the preceptor of Beverley, which he had traded for Wil-
loughton by 1440, when he was granted the preceptory of Swingeld in addition. Shortly after
this he swapped Willoughton for Slebech. In the 1440s he was the receiver of the priory of
England, and in 1446 was among the fourteen capitulars of the chapter-general held in Rome.
Robert Tonge was a Hospitaller by 1444, and held the bailiwick of Eagle between 1471 and his
death ten years later. John Tonge was appointed preceptor of Ribston by magistral grace in
1489, of Mount St John by cabimentum in 1494 and of Carbrooke, probably by prioral grace, in
1498 or 1499. SJG, Butler Papers (citing AOM348, old foliation, fo. 172); AOM354, fos. 203rv,
205v; 356, fos. 182rv; Bosio, DellIstoria, ii. 2245; AOM379, fo. 146rv; 76, fo. 70v; 390, fo.
130r; 391, fo. 200v; Lansdowne 200, fo. 57v. For the titles by which brethren held preceptories,
see below, Ch. 2.2.
Their relationship is mentioned in several sources. Plumpton Correspondence, ed.
T. Stapleton, CS, 1st ser., 4 (London, 1839), no.92; Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck,
ed. F. Madden, Archaeologia, 27 (1838), 153210, at 1712, 205; AOM391, fo. 199v.
Kendal was apparently the only brother to whom Langstrother left property. He had also
acted as Langstrothers proctor in Rhodes in 1470. AOM74, fos. 89v, 46r.
Judging by his arms, John Kendal was a member of the Curwen family of Kendal, while the
Langstrother brothers origin can be more certainly ascribed to Crosthwaite. A. Sutton, John
Kendale: A Search for Richard IIIs Secretary, in J. Petre (ed.), Richard III: Crown and People
(Gloucester, 1985), 22438, at 227; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 160, citing AOM352, fo. 130
(old foliation).
The Prior and his Brethren 37

Clippesbys of Norfolk.81 A further link, although seemingly not a blood

connection, existed with the Plumpton clan. Sir Robert Plumpton was John
Tonges godfather, Edward Plumpton John Westons secretary, and Thomas
Plumpton a Hospitaller knight and preceptor.82 Another Plumpton, Roberts
niece Elizabeth, married John Sothill of Stokerston and was the mother of
the Hospitaller Arthur Sothill.83 At least one Plumpton was buried in the
priory church at Clerkenwell.84
Although other connections are not quite so ramied, a number of rela-
tionships between other Hospitaller families can also be identied. John
Babington of Dethick, for example, was the nephew of Richard Fitzherbert,
stated to be a Hospitaller in Burkes Landed Gentry,85 while Marmaduke
Lumley and Augustine Middlemore were described as brothers secundum
carnem in 1463, and John Bothe was the nephew of an unnamed lieutenant
turcopolier, probably John Boswell or Walter Fitzherbert.86 Three sixteenth-
century knightsBryan Tunstall, Ambrose Layton, and Cuthbert Layton
were nephews of Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of Durham.87 Even in the 1540s,
the families of former Hospitallers continued to intermarry, with unions
taking place between the Tyrrells and Gonsons, Pooles and Caves, and Caves
and Newdigates.88 In 1557 the knights received into the re-erected priory of
England included the Shelley brothers, who were closely related to Edward

Writing to Sir John Paston between c.1492 and 1501, John Kendal referred to John
Clippesby of Oby as his cousin. According to a pedigree, the latter was the grandson of
another John Clippesby and the daughter of a Thomas Longstrother of Cheshire. Other
Langstrothers moved to Lincolnshire or Norfolk in the train of William Langstrother, the
preceptor of Eagle and Carbrooke. Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, ed.
N. Davis, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1976), ii. 480, i. 6971; The Visitacion of Norffolk, made and taken
by William Harvey, Clarencieux King of Arms, Anno 1563, enlarged with another Visitacion
made by Clarenceux Cooke, with Many Other Descents; as also the Vissitation made by John
Raven, Richmond, Anno 1613, ed. W. Rye, HSP, 32 (London, 1891), 77.
Plumpton Correspondence, ed. Stapleton, no. 93; Stonor Letters and Papers 12901483,
ed. C. L. Kingsford, CS, 3rd ser., 2930 (London, 1919), no. 329; AOM388, fo. 132r. No further
light has been shed on Thomas Plumptons background in the new edition of the Plumpton
letters, which omits Stapletons speculations on the Hospitallers. The Plumpton Letters and
Papers, ed. J. Kirby, CS, 5th ser., 8 (London, 1996), nos. 11718, and pp. 613, 3212;
Plumpton Correspondence, ed. Stapleton, nos. 923, 1334.
North Country Wills, ed. Brown, nos. 446; Visitation of Yorkshire, ed. Best Norcliffe,
J. Stow, A Survey of London: Reprinted from the Text of 1603, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1971),
ii. 85.
No Richard Fitzherbert occurs in the orders archives, but Walter Fitzherbert was a
Hospitaller by 1470 and the commander of Templecombe between 1478 and 1489. The two
may be identical, or Walter may have belonged to an earlier generation imperfectly recorded in
the pedigree given by Burke. J. Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed
Gentry, 4 vols. (London, 18378), i. 79; AOM386, fos. 128v129r; 390, fo. 129v.
AOM374, fo. 139rv; 76, fo. 209r.
Visitation of Yorkshire, ed. Best Norcliffe, 3278; AOM414, fo. 249v; See Appendix VII.
P. Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, 2 vols. (London, 17638),
i. 209; Bindoff, (ed.), House of Commons, iii. 131; The Visitation of the County of Leicester in
the Year 1619, taken by William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, ed. J. Fetherston, HSP, 2
(London, 1870), 126.
38 The Prior and his Brethren

Bellingham, the former preceptor of Dinmore.89 It seems likely that if the

sources were more complete a network embracing still more families would
emerge. As candidates for knighthood were commonly presented to provin-
cial chapter by an existing brother, and as licences to admit brethren into the
order very rarely stipulated who they were to be, this is hardly surprising.
Within families, the number of relationships that are absolutely clear is
rather limited, however. Although they were probably close kin to each
other, the Hospitaller Tonges, Daniels, Dalisons, and Newports are not
described as such in the orders archives and, since they do not appear in
family pedigrees either, their relationships remain conjectural. In fact less
than fty brethren can yet be placed with absolute security in a family
background. Although it is possible to make plausible suggestions as to the
family and geographical provenance of many of the others, their non-
appearance in pedigrees or wills makes generalization about the wealth,
status, piety, and other characteristics of their families difcult.90
What is immediately striking about these families is their geographical
origin. Of the forty-seven certain or near-certain English family seats listed
for knight-brethren in Appendix VII, twelve were in Yorkshire or Lincoln-
shire, with a further six in Durham, Cumberland, or Westmorland. If one
considers the almost certainly Yorkshire origins of the Tonges and Multons,
the domination of northerners and north-east midlanders in the orders
hierarchy is apparent. Moreover, several of those families which appear to
be from the south such as the Rawsons and the southern branches of the
Docwras and Westons had migrated from Yorkshire or Lincolnshire only
one or two generations before they produced knights of St John. William
Weston juniors father, for example, had been born in Boston, as had his
Hospitaller uncles John and William. With the possible exception of William
Tornay every prior of England and English prior of Ireland who held ofce
between 1468 and 1540 can be ascribed to a northern or north midlands
There are a number of possible reasons for this predominance. In the rst
place, the order may have preferred to draw upon the stronger military
traditions of the northern counties as more appropriate to its activities in
the Mediterranean than the less martial background of many southern
gentle families.91 It is interesting, that several of the Hospitaller knights
either had connections with the Percy family or saw service on the marches
themselves. The Hildyards of Winestead, from whom William Hillyard was

Bindoff, (ed.), House of Commons, i. 4145; iii. 30810.
See Appendix VII. I have excluded those families, such as the Malorys, Multons, New-
ports, and Tonges whose probable background can be guessed from their arms or other sources,
but whose exact family seat and relationships are unclear.
On the military traditions of the northern gentry, see M. J. Bennett, Community, Class and
Careerism: Cheshire and Lancashire Society in the Age of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
(Cambridge, 1983), 16291.
The Prior and his Brethren 39

probably drawn, were traditional Percy retainers, while Roland Thornburgh

and Nicholas Fairfax were in the service of earls of Northumberland.92
Robert Multon, a Percy retainer, even served as deputy warden of the east
march in the 1470s and late 1480s, while in a later generation Cuthbert
Layton, a native of Cumberland, can be found defending Norham castle
against the Scots.93
In the second place, it is at least arguable that northern England held a
somewhat deeper attachment to religious houses than the south, and that the
order of St John may have beneted from this. It is noteworthy that in 1537
the farmers of the orders lands in the north were characterized as particu-
larly eager to stir up the populace in defence of the monasteries,94 and many
of these were members of families connected with the Hospital. Thirdly, the
relatively sluggish economy of the north in the fteenth and sixteenth
centuries95 and the lack of other opportunities there may have rendered a
career in the order more attractive to younger sons96 than it might otherwise
have been. Although their families were usually of conventional piety, the
prospect of an austere or contemplative life may have been too much for
these men.97 Advancement in the Hospital, however, offered the possibility
of considerable wealth and prominence for those who were successful,
besides the control of estates which might be leased to family members.
A nal contributing factor may have been the orders system for collating to
beneces. In certain cases a vacant commandery would be adjudged to the
brother who had been born nearest to its site. As seven of the orders twenty
non-prioral commanderies were in Yorkshire or Lincolnshire, and as they
were ranked respectively rst, fourth, sixth, seventh, tenth, fourteenth, and
fteenth in terms of wealth,98 it was probably easier for a Yorkshire or
Lincolnshire man both to get a foot on the career ladder and to avoid a
poor house when doing so. Of course not all these characteristics were
exclusive to northern England. Families with strong military traditions,
ties to local religious houses, and surplus younger sons existed all over the

Information communicated by Dr Rosemary Horrox (Hillyard and Thornburgh);
AOM54, fo. 95v; LPFD, Addenda no. 312 (i, iii) (Fairfax).
CPR146777, 545; Materials for a History of the Reign of Henry VII, ed. W. Campbell,
2 vols. (London, 18737), ii. 533, 557; Appendix VII; LPFD, xx, I, nos. 280, 340.
LPFD, xii, I, no.192.
Schoeld, R. S. The Geographical Distribution of Wealth in England, 13341649,
Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 108 (1965), 483510.
Of the Hospitaller offspring of the families discussed above, only Henry Pole/Poole and the
two Docwras seem to have been eldest sons. Most of the rest were second or third sons, while
some, such as Nicholas Hussey (the eighth son of nine) and Blase Villers (the tenth of ten) came
very low down the pecking order indeed.
Although the families noted in Appendix VII produced at least ten nuns, and several clerics
between them of the same or immediately preceding generations as Hospitallers, they did not
give rise to many other male religious.
I have based this ranking on the responsions levied on each preceptory in 1520. AOM54,
fos. 3v11v.
40 The Prior and his Brethren

country. But it is in the north where preceptories were relatively wealthy and
numerous, where the danger from the Scots was still a real concern, and
where alternative outlets for the energies of young gentlemen may have been
limited that a career in the Hospital proved most attractive.
It is dangerous to generalize about the wealth and status of Hospitaller
families simply from the evidence of those that are known, as by denition
they are likely to be more prominent than those whose origin is unclear.
Some preliminary conclusions can be advanced, however. In the rst place,
the English knights were from gentle rather than noble backgrounds. Of
those active in the order between 1460 and 1540, only Richard Neville, the
son of George, Lord Abergavenny, was from a family of baronial rank.99
The rest were of quite varying pedigree. Some major gentry families were
represented. The Ayscoughs, Babingtons of Dethick, Caves, Eures, Fair-
faxes, Fitzherberts, Massingberds, Plumptons, Shefelds, Tunstalls, and
Tyrrells of Heron were all of some importance and of knightly rank in the
generations before they produced Hospitallers.100 Most were of consider-
able antiquity too. Others such as the Worcestershire Russells and Durham
Lambtons were less prominent, but still of ancient lineage and respectable
local standing.101 Although they seem to have derived from landowning
families that had moved into the towns, some Hospitaller knights were the
offspring of prominent merchants. David Gonsons father William was
Henry VIIIs chief naval administrator and a pioneer in the Levant trade,
which may account for his sons profession.102 Richard Rawson, the father
of the Hospitaller prior of Ireland, John, was an alderman and sheriff of
London, and Edward Brown was the grandson of one mayor of London and
nephew of another.103 The Passemers, who may have come from London or
Essex, perhaps also had mercantile antecedents,104 and the Westons lived in
Boston, the Pooles in Chestereld, and the Caves in Stamford around the
time of the birth of their Hospitaller sons.105
The Four Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, 1623, 16656, ed. W. H. Rylands,
HSP, 567 (London, 19078), ii. 181.
Lincolnshire Pedigrees, ed. Maddison, 59, 6545; Visitations of Nottingham, ed. Mar-
shall, 1512; Visitation of the County of Leicester, ed. Fetherston, 1256; Visitation of York-
shire, ed. Best Norcliffe, 11112, 11920, 3278; Morant, Essex, i. 209.
House of Commons, ed. Bindoff, iii. 236; R. Surtees, The History and Antiquities of the
County Palatine of Durham, 4 vols. (London, 181641; repr. Wakeeld, 1972), ii. 174.
D. M. Loades, The Tudor Navy: An Administrative, Political and Military History
(Aldershot, 1992), 66; R. Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Trafques & Discov-
eries of the English Nation, 2nd edn., 12 vols. (London, 15981600, repr. Glasgow, 19035),
v. 624. Their relationship is conrmed by a letter written by the French ambassador, Marillac,
after David Gonsons execution. LPFD, xvi, no. 1011, p.483.
DNB, xlvii. 336; The Visitations of Northamptonshire made in 1564 and 16189, with
Northamptonshire Pedigrees from Various Harleian Manuscripts, ed. W. C. Metcalfe (London,
1887), 167.
Visitation of the County of Leicester, ed. Fetherston, 125. In 1461 Marmaduke Lumley
called brother Nicholas Passemer a villein. AOM371, fo. 144v.
DNB, lx. 377; Bindoff, (ed.), House of Commons, iii. 130; Visitation of the County of
Leicester, ed. Fetherston, 125.
The Prior and his Brethren 41

Those Hospitallers who cannot be assigned to a particular family with

certainty probably fall into three categories; offspring of major gentry
families who were omitted from pedigrees because they left no children,
scions of lesser branches of large families, and those whose families, al-
though gentle, were not recorded as such until later, or who died out. At
rst sight, for example, knight-brethren such as John Bothe, William Corbet,
and William Darrell would seem to have come from some of the most
formidable gentry families in the country, but they do not appear in extant
pedigrees of these houses, and it may be that they were either poor cousins of
the main branches or simply left out of the pedigrees. Unless they appear in
chance references in wills or estate and legal records others with more
common names like the Greens, Hills, and Newtons may never be traceable.

2.2 Service, Seniority, and Advancement

The route to advancement in the order of St John was fairly clear. On

reception into the order, a junior knight made his way to the Mediterranean
and was received into the English langue. He was then granted ancienitas
(seniority), which was reckoned from the day of his arrival in convent rather
than his reception in England and was provisional until his proofs of nobility
had been accepted by the langue. This was a crucial incentive in getting
brethren to serve in convent, as without ancienitas no brother could be
granted a preceptory at home. Nominally a brother could seek a preceptory
in their home province after three years of conventual service106 but in fact it
was usually necessary to wait much longer for a vacancy. Preceptories were
collated to brethren under four titles: grace, cabimentum, meliormentum,
and ius patronatus. When a preceptory became vacant, the master of the
order, who was allowed to grant one commandery in each priory every ve
years, might, if he had not already utilized this faculty, grant the house to a
brother of his choosing. The recipient would then hold the benece by title
of magistral grace, and would continue to be able to seek preceptories of
cabimentum or meliormentum. While only one preceptory of meliormentum
or cabimentum could be held at once, in theory a knight could be granted
any number of preceptories of grace. Rather different in operation was
prioral grace, by which the priors of England and Ireland were also allowed
to grant one commandery in their respective provinces every ve years,
although those thus provided apparently held by cabimentum or meliormen-
tum. Should the master or prior not claim the right to appoint, the unbene-
ced conventual brethren107 of greatest seniority and those preceptors
who had improved their commanderies could compete for the house, the

Delaville, Rhodes, 318.
i.e. those resident in the orders Mediterranean headquarters.
42 The Prior and his Brethren

collation of which would be decided by a vote of the English langue. If the

langue opted to confer the house on an unbeneced brother, he would hold it
by title of cabimentum, or rst promotion, and should two or more brethren
of equal seniority seek the same benece, an investigation would be made at
home into who had been born nearest to it, with the nearer granted the
prize.108 This procedure might be avoided if the brethren involved had
already made an agreement as to who should be eligible for which precep-
tories when they fell vacant, as sometimes happened.109 After he was che-
visshed the new preceptor was commonly licensed to return home, as the
ancienitas to exchange his house for one of meliormentum now theoretically
rested on his residing on his preceptory for ve years and improving it.110 In
practice, however, brethren were often retained in convent, or at Clerken-
well as the receiver of the conventual common treasury, or summoned to
Rhodes or Malta before they had completed their residence and melior-
ments. In such cases the langue and council granted them ancienitas as if
they were resident in the west.111 Even if they had not resided on their
benece, however, they were expected to present notarially attested evidence
of the improvements made there for approval by the langue before they
could be promoted.112 The situation was further complicated by the fact
that preceptors could exchange beneces between themselves, provided they
received the approval of the langue, the master, and the convent for this, and
could also sometimes exchange the titles by which they held multiple
Ranked above preceptories were the orders bailiwicks. These were its
highest ofces, carrying with them a seat on its councils and chapters-
general, and granted to brethren of at least fteen years standing by vote
of the orders council.114 Preceptors of sufcient seniority, or their proctors,
would put their names forward to the langue before the council voted.115
The four bailiwicks commonly open to members of the English langue were
the turcopoliership, the priories of England and Ireland, and the bailiwick of
Eagle. As a conventual rather than a capitular bailiff, the turcopolier was
expected to reside at headquarters116 and technically had precedence over

e.g. AOM81, fo. 151v; 397, fo. 139r; 400, fos. 145v146r; BDVTE 9, 5960; Claudius
E.vi, fo. 70rv.
AOM378, fo. 148rv; 388, fo. 134r.
Stabilimenta, De collationibus, xii, xv (Statutes of Fluvia, 142137, and Jean de Lastic,
143754). For a protest against Fra Ambrose Caves failure to reside on his preceptory for
the requisite term, see AOM86, fo. 37v.
e.g. AOM79, fos. 8v, 18v, 23v; 84, fos. 40r, 57r, 64r; 85, fos. 56r, 62v, 72r, 106r; 86, fos. 46r,
62 ; 377, fo. 142r; 382, fo. 141v; 394, fo. 176rv; 395, fos. 139v40r; 397, fo. 145v.
AOM82, fos. 157v158r, 172r; 393, fos. 111rv; BDVTE, 1011, 27.
Stabilimenta, De collationibus, x (Statute of Philibert de Naillac, 13961421); AOM84,
fo. 38v; 85, fo. 41rv; 371, fo. 141r; BDVTE, 212, 39.
114 Stabilimenta, De electionibus, v, viii (Statutes of Naillac and Lastic).
Ibid., xix. (Statute of Giovannbattista Orsini, 146776).
Ibid., De bauiliuis, xliiii (Statute of dAubusson).
The Prior and his Brethren 43

the priors and bailiff of Eagle, but in practice the turcopoliership acted as a
springboard for those seeking the priory of England, which was always held
by a more senior knight. Both the bailiff of Eagle and the turcopolier
commonly held at least two preceptories in order to support the dignities
of their ofce, but some, notably John Langstrother, John Kendal, and
Thomas Newport, accumulated as many as four or ve, a formidable
concentration considering how few houses there were in total.117
The effective head of the British-born brethren was the prior of England.
Unlike the other bailiffs, this dignitary was elected by vote of his compatriots
in provincial chapter. The ve legitimate priors between William Hulles
(elected 1417) and William Tornay (elected 1471) were chosen this way,
their provision being ratied afterwards in convent.118 It was only after the
election in England of the unsuitable Robert Multon in 1474 that the
chapter-general ruled that henceforth elections were to be carried out by
the council in Rhodes.119 The Irish-born brethren claimed the right to elect
their prior in Ireland between 1410 and 1494, although brethren were
sometimes elected prior of Ireland in Rhodes to replace rebellious incum-
bents during this period.120 On election priors generally relinquished their
existing commanderies save for magistral camerae or houses that they had
recovered from seculars or brethren who had forfeited them.121 Sometimes,
however, they would retain commanderies they already held in place of a
prioral camera held by the previous prior, which they would then release to
the disposition of the langue. Their right to do so, however, was often
contested by the langue.
Excluding those in prioral or magistral hands there were only twenty
preceptories open to brethren in England and Wales for most of the period
between 1460 and 1540,122 and the pressure for advancement was further
increased by the fact that they were often in the hands of only fourteen
or fteen men.123 As there were commonly between ten and twenty

See Appendix VII.
CPR141622, 279; AOM340, fo. 116rv; Field, Robert Malory, 2512, 2578; Bekyn-
ton Correspondence, i. 7881; Annales Rerum Anglicanum, Letters and Papers Illustrative
of the Wars of the English in France, ed. J. Stevenson, 2 vols. in 3, RS (London, 1864), ii. 743
93, at 791; CCR146876, nos. 407, 858; AOM 379, fos. 140r141v, 146r; 74, fo. 88v.
AOM283, fo. 183r.
Delaville, Rhodes, 315; Tipton, Irish Hospitallers, 423; AOM371, fos. 142v143r; 76,
fo. 132v.
AOM282, fo. 21r.
These were (1) Ansty and Trebigh, (2) Baddesley and Maine, (3) Battisford and Dingley,
(4) Beverley, (5) Carbrooke, (6) Dalby and Rothley, (7) Dinmore, (8) Eagle, (9) Halston, (10)
Mount St John, (11) Newland, Ossington, and Winkburn, (12) Quenington, (13) Ribston,
(14) Shingay, (15) Slebech, (16) Swingeld, (17) Temple Brewer, (18) Templecombe, (19)
Willoughton, (20) Yeaveley and Barrow. Baddesley and Maine were in separate hands in
14701, while Slebech was in the hands of the prior between 1476 and 1483, with Melch-
bourne, usually in prioral hands, held by John Kendal.
Before the deaths of Lancelot Docwra and William Darrell in 151920, for example,
three preceptors held two houses and a fourth, Thomas Newport, held four.
44 The Prior and his Brethren

unbeneced knights waiting in convent for preferment, conventual brethren

might wait for ten or more years for a senior knight to die before they were
granted a benece. When this happened as many as four or ve houses might
become vacant. For example, Thomas Newport senior, who was serving in
Rhodes by 1478, had to wait until the death of John Weston in 1489 before he
could be granted a preceptory, while the same event also brought preceptories
of cabimentum for Robert Daniel, Robert Dalison, and James Ayscough, of
meliormentum to Henry Halley, and of magistral grace to John Tonge.124
Less drastically, the survivors of ve conventual knights who had been in
convent in July 1461 or earlier and of another four who were in Rhodes in
July 1463 all had to wait until news of the deaths of William Dawney and
Robert Botill had reached Rhodes in 14689 before they could be granted
beneces.125 The pressure on preceptories grew with the size of the English
establishment in the mediteranean, which numbered about fourteen in the
1470s, twenty-three by 1508, and thirty-eight in 1513, before falling back to
between seventeen and twenty-two in the period between 1523 and the
1530s.126 Although the number of preceptors among these men rose from
two or three to ve or more, the remainder of the increase was accounted for
by conventual knights competing for preferment.127 Of seven knights re-
ceived in 15056 only Nicholas Fairfax and Edward Hills were ever granted
preceptories, and both had to wait until the 1520s.128 In 1510 this situation
occasioned a petition by the English brethren in Rhodes that bearing in mind
the multitude of religious brother knights of the langue living in Rhodes at
this time, and the paucity of preceptories of the same langue from which the
aforesaid religious expect reward for their labours, so that they might be
rendered more fervent towards the said service the rights of the prior of
England to confer preceptories should be limited.129
AOM283, fo. 174v; 390, fos. 129v, 129r130r.
William Weston I, Robert Eagleseld, Marmaduke Lumley, and Nicholas Passemer occur
in 1461 and Robert Multon, John Malory, John Turberville, and Bryan Shefeld in 1463.
Passemer and Shefeld died later in the 1460s. The remaining men were all granted preceptories
between 1468 and 1470, save for Lumley, who came to an agreement to take over Templecombe
from the ailing William Dawney in 1466. This was later overturned. AOM371, fo. 144r; 374,
fo. 139rv; 376, fos. 155r156r; 377, fos. 142v, 143r; 379, fos. 142v143r, 144r, 145v146r.
AOM75, fos. 122v123r; Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1137, fo. 113r; AOM402, fo.
103v; BDVTE, passim. See below, Tables 8.1 and 8.2.
Seven English preceptors fought in the siege of 1522, but their numbers in convent
declined thereafter. See below, Ch. 8.1, 8.3.
These were, besides Fairfax and Hills, James Green, William Haseldon, Charles Lyster,
Geoffrey Militon, and Humphrey Bevercotes. Green, Haseldon, Lyster, and Militon had cashed
letters of exchange in Venice to pay their passage dues to the convent in the winter of 1505.
Fairfax, Hills, Lyster, and Militon were declared to be of the same passage with Humphrey
Bevercotes in March 1506. Bevercotes and Militon were still alive and in convent in 1508, as
was Lyster in 1508, 1513, and 1515, but Haseldon does not appear again. It is likely most
were dead before the siege of 1522. R. Mueller, The Venetian Money Market: Banks, Panics
and the Public Debt, 12001500 (Baltimore, 1997), 347; AOM397, fo. 147v; Bodleian MS
Ashmole 1137, fo. 113r; AOM409, fo. 117r; Appendix VII.
AOM399, fo. 146rv.
The Prior and his Brethren 45

This last was a crucial point. In the period covered by this study there were
a series of disputes between priors and their brethren about the respective
rights of the prior and langue to confer preceptories, and in particular the
right of an incumbent prior, granted by the convent in 1367, to claim a
vacant preceptory as a fth prioral camera.130 Despite the antiquity of this
provision, there was some confusion about when and in what circumstances
the prior might acquire his fth camera. In 1449, Robert Botill and his
brethren in both England and Rhodes agreed that should a preceptor die
within a year after the mortuary year of the previous prior, the prior might
retain any of the dead preceptors houses as a fth camera, remitting any
others held by the deceased to the collation of the master and convent, who
would grant it to a conventual brother. The houses of any other British
brother to decease in the west within the same period were to be conferred
by the prior on a conventual knight. Perhaps most importantly, the prioral
choice of fth camera was to be irrevocable.131 Although the conventual
brethren of the langue complained that this agreement was prejudicial to
them in 1459, their objections were overruled and the distribution of bene-
ces in the remainder of Botills priorate proceeded relatively smoothly.132
Nevertheless, partly as a result of the 1449 documents lack of comprehen-
siveness, there were major disputes between prior and langue in 147783
and 150517 and continued complaints after 1527 about William Westons
acquisition of his fth camera.
Unfortunately, the agreement of 1449 had not provided priors-elect with
scope to retain houses they had held before their promotion as camerae,
insisting that they relinquish their existing beneces and wait until a vacancy
to claim one. This ran contrary both to previous practice and to the under-
standable desire of priors-elect to hang on to favoured residences and
estates. Thus, despite the rules laid down in 1449, in 1470 John Langstrother
was able to persuade the langue to allow him to retain both Balsall and
Ribston, of which he was already preceptor, rather than Melchbourne and
Slebech as his fourth and fth prioral camerae, while in the following year
William Tornay was granted Melchbourne and Slebech as his fourth and
fth camerae by consent of the langue.133 On his provisional appointment to
the priory in 1476, the orders authorities came to a similar arrangement
with John Weston, under which he was to have Balsall rather than Melch-
bourne but to keep Slebech.134 At some point before gaining possession of
the priory, however, Weston agreed to relinquish Slebech to the disposition

Delaville, Rhodes, 162; Stabilimenta, De collationibus, vii. Priors had been granted the
right to hold four preceptories as prioral camerae in 1303. Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John,
AOM361, fos. 239rv, 241r242r.
AOM282, fos. 64r, 66rv, 69v.
AOM379, fos. 140r141v, 146r.
AOM383, fos. 142r143v.
46 The Prior and his Brethren

of the langue, without apparently asking for anything in return. Yet once in
post Weston insisted on retaining one of his existing preceptories, Newland,
in place of Slebech and also changed his mind about Melchbourne, which he
wished to retain instead of Balsall. In 14778 complaints were made by the
newly appointed preceptors of Melchbourne and Newland and the proctors
of the langue that Weston was refusing to hand over Newland, Melch-
bourne, and Slebech.135 The langue cited both the 1449 document and
Westons written promise to hand over Slebech in its support.136 Despite
the fact that brethren were strictly forbidden from petitioning for beneces
at the curia, Weston had also secured papal letters in favour of his deten-
tions. A brief of 3 June 1476 permitted him to retain the priory in commen-
dam with Quenington, which had already been granted to John Boswell in
the previous November, and to hold Balsall and Newland for a year after he
entered possession of the priory.137 In the summer and autumn of 1478 both
Boswell and the newly appointed preceptor of Templecombe, Walter Fitz-
herbert, protested that the prior was detaining their houses as well.138
Weston, then, appears to have occupied no less than ve preceptories
which should have been in the possession of his brethren in 1478. He used
every trick in the book to deny them their rights, launching appeals to the
chapter-general, exploiting papal privileges, and keeping his proctors in
Rhodes in ignorance of his claims, so that he had to be repeatedly asked to
provide reasons for his actions, a process for which brethren were allowed
nine months. Although he seems to have relinquished his claims to all the
disputed preceptories except Slebech after the chapter-general of November
1478 had ruled against him, he managed to delay handing this last house
over until 1483, when he reached agreement with the langue that it should
be granted to a conventual knight for cabimentum on condition that the
latter pay him a pension of 15 per annum until he should be provided with
a fth camera.139
This accord, which superseded that of 1449 insofar as it explicitly recog-
nized the right of succeeding priors to retain one of the commanderies they
had held before promotion as a fth camera, nevertheless failed to put an
end to discord between priors and their brethren. In 1505 Thomas Docwra
and the langue each claimed the right to collate to the vacant preceptory of
Halston, the langue according to the 1449 provision that having secured a
fth camera the prior should confer the next vacant house on a conventual
knight by cabimentum, and the prior on the basis that he held his fth
camera rather by vigour of the concord of 1483, and that the 1449 agree-
ment had bound Botill but not his successors. The orders council referred

AOM75, fo. 178rv; 385, fo. 129rv; 386, fo. 127rv, 129r; 75, fo. 177v.
AOM75, fo. 177v; 386, fo. 129v.
CPL, xiii. 61.
AOM386, fo. 127r.
AOM76, fos. 148v149v.
The Prior and his Brethren 47

this case to the esguardium fratrum,140 which ruled in the langues favour,
ordaining that Docwra should present an appropriately qualied brother
resident in convent.141 But the langue then exploited this judgement to
collate to Halston without reference to Docwra, who protested at this and
further alleged that the langue had bribed his proctor, Guillaume dAubus-
son, to misrepresent him.142 In the meantime, he kept possession of Halston,
not surrendering it until at least 1508.143 Despite capitular conrmation of
the esguardiums sentence, Docwra continued to argue that the langue had
broken the concord of 1483 and seems also to have convinced himself that
Slebech had reverted to his collation by the langues disregard for his pre-
eminence in the matter of Halston. When his proctor sought conciliar
clarication as to the status of the agreement of 1483 in 1510, he was told
to wait until Slebech became vacant and when it did so the prior detained it
from the appointee of the langue and convent, Clement West, and appears to
have granted it instead to Lancelot Docwra.144 In April 1516 the dispute was
referred to the next chapter-general, but it had still not been resolved by
November 1517, and may have dragged on still further.145 Yet if the remain-
der of Docwras priorate was free of similar disputes, in 1527 the issue was
raised yet again, with Clement West demanding that Thomas Docwras
former fth camera, Melchbourne, be granted to him rather than be retained
by the new prior, William Weston. Despite a conciliar ruling upholding
Westons right to retain his predecessors houses, West continued to demand
Melchbourne and to complain about the injustice done to him by Weston
until well into the 1530s.146
Pettifogging though these contentions may appear to beand the fore-
going is a heavily simplied accountthey at least have the virtue of illus-
trating the workings and limitations of the order of St Johns elaborate
mechanisms for dispute settlement, and the mentalite, in all its concern for
precedent and protocol, which animated them. More, they indicate the
underlying tensions in the twofold division of the order into conventual
langues and provincial priories, both of which brethren belonged to simul-
taneously. In granting the langues, rather than provincial chapters, the right
to appoint to preceptories, the order had created mechanisms by which
conventual service might be encouraged and rewarded, but in doing so it
had compensated priors with faculties which partly overlapped, at least in
England, those of the langue. The results, with conventual brethren being

This was a specialist tribunal, headed by a senior brother elected by the council, which
dealt with disputes between brethren. Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 152 and n.; AOM68.
AOM81, fos. 20v, 33v; 68, fos. 128r129r.
AOM81, fos. 47r, 49rv, 53v54r.
AOM81, fos. 90rv, 96v.
AOM82, fos. 176rv, 168v.
AOM75, fos. 178rv; 406, fo. 166v. West may not have reached the preceptory until 1519,
but his proctors presented to a benece in its gift in April 1518. See below, 201.
AOM85, fos. 28v29r, 48r, 53v, 109v.
48 The Prior and his Brethren

denied the promotions their service had merited by priors who had the
advantage of running their provinces practically as corporations sole, was
hardly conducive either to administrative efciency or to a sense of frater-
Nevertheless, the pressure on houses was somewhat alleviated by the
grant of pensions to supplement the incomes of poor or favoured knights.
Conventual knights holding the same seniority often agreed to pay each
other a pension should they gain a preceptory. So, in 1469, William Weston
senior and John Boswell concorded that should Boswell be provided with a
preceptory before the other knight he should pay him half its clear value
until the latter should be beneced, while if the situation were reversed and
Weston was granted the houses of Quenington, Shingay, or any other he
should render Boswell 10 marks per annum until he too had been pro-
vided.147 A more equal arrangement was struck between Oswald Massing-
berd and John Babington junior, who each promised to pay the other 50 ecus
if he should get a commandery rst.148 Additionally, pensions or small
estates were set aside from preceptories of grace by the master and granted
to worthy junior knights. In 1506, for example, William Weston junior, the
preceptor of Ansty and magistral camerarius, was granted the member of
Sawston, a pertinence of Shingay, which had just been collated by magistral
grace to Thomas Shefeld. Weston agreed that he would lease the estate to
Shefeld for 50 ecus, with the latter retaining its administration.149 Four
years later Weston received a pension of 400 ecus from the preceptory of
Temple Brewer, which had been granted out of magistral grace to William
Darrell, the turcopolier, although he was to remit 150 ecus of this sum to
Rhodes in token of the masters superiority. As a condition of this grant,
Weston released Sawston to John Rawson senior.150 Westons pension from
Temple Brewer was so considerable that it is doubtful that Darrell received
much prot from the preceptory, and it is noteworthy that in 1525 Weston
was only collated by the langue to Dinmore on condition that he remit
26 ecus from the sum the preceptor of Temple Brewer had to pay him.151
Closer study of one particular group received into the order together may
help to illustrate the operation of the orders career structure in practice.
A particularly useful sample is provided by those brethren received at a
provincial chapter in 1499, they being the rst large company of lii
arnaldi152 within this period whose careers can be traced with hardly any
gaps. The rst of this group to arrive in Rhodes was Robert Pemberton in
1498, but he did so without having been received rst in provincial chapter
and, despite royal letters in his favour, was ordered to present his proofs in
England like everybody else. Pemberton reappeared in convent in August

AOM378, fos. 148rv. 148
BDVTE, 47.
AOM395, fos. 146 147 , 147r148r.
v r 150
AOM399, fos. 143v144r, 144v.
151 152
BDVTE, 33. i.e. brethren of the same seniority.
The Prior and his Brethren 49

1500 relating that he had been received at a provincial chapter, presumably

the assembly held in the previous November, with eight other knights.153 His
arithmetic seems to have been faulty, for a few months later he and ve of his
fellows appeared in the orders council complaining that the two other
brethren received with them, Richard Passemer and John Russell, had tarried
in Venice rather than take passage to Rhodes, and asking for the ancienitas
of the latecomers to be cancelled.154 Although the council refused to do this,
it is not certain that Passemer ever reached Rhodes, and Russell seems to
have died soon after his arrival.155 The six knights remaining were, besides
Pemberton, Clement West, Roland Baskerville, John Babington senior,
Alban Pole, and Roger Boydell. The rst few years of their careers were
almost certainly spent on Rhodes, as it was not until some years after their
reception that their seniors were all provided with preceptories and they
became eligible for vacant houses. In February 1506 letters were drawn up
collating Halston to whomever of Baskerville, Babington, Boydell, and Pole
had been born nearest to it and on 11 March the receiver, Thomas Shefeld,
was mandated to investigate the matter in England.156 The result was
evidently a foregone conclusion, for Boydell, as preceptor of Halston, was
licensed to go home and rule his preceptory on 15 June.157 At much the same
time, Pemberton was also granted leave to return to England, although being
a conventual knight he was to make his way back to convent within two
years.158 As we have seen, Boydell was unable to get possession of Halston
because of the priors refusal to accept his collation by the langue, and had
returned to Rhodes by 1508 to complain about this treatment.159 The
brethren received together in 14991500 were thus reunited, and all, save
for the absentees of 1501, appear in a list of English knights resident in the
convent drawn up in August 1508.160 Their situation was to change dra-
matically in the next few years. Pemberton and Baskerville disappeared from
the scene in 150910,161 and Boydell again returned home to take posses-
sion of his commandery.162 In 150910, Babington and Pole were provided
with Yeaveley and Mount St John respectively. West dropped any claim to
the latter before the commissioners had reported on whether he or Pole was

AOM78, fos. 90v91r, 131r. 154
AOM78, fo. 147r.
Passemer is not mentioned again, although Russells family later believed that he had died
at Rhodes. The Visitation of the County of Worcester made in the Year 1569 with Other
Pedigrees relating to that County from Richard Mundys Collection, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore,
HSP, 27 (London, 1888), 119.
AOM397, fo. 139r.
Ibid., fo. 141r.
Ibid., fo. 143r.
AOM81, fo. 90rv.
Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1137, fo. 113r.
Pemberton was dead by 6 September 1509, and Baskerville is not mentioned again after
Aug. 1508. AOM81, fo. 137v.
AOM399, fo. 143r.
50 The Prior and his Brethren

nearer to it.163 The two new preceptors now joined Boydell in England
while West had to wait until 1514 before he was granted the Pembrokeshire
house of Slebech, being compensated in the meantime with the castellany of
Rhodes.164 As West had anticipated, the prior opposed his collation to
Slebech and refused to grant his proctors possession of it, with the result
that he was not able to return home until 1517 or later.165 When he did so, it
was to a house oppressed by the powerful Sir Rhys ap Thomas and his son
Gruffydd ap Rhys and burdened by the debts owed to the previous incum-
bent, Robert Evers.166 The delay was very signicant, as a preceptor was
expected to return home and reside on his commandery for ve years after it
was granted to him, during which time he should make his meliormenta.
It was difcult to make improvements to properties one had never visited,
and Slebech in particular needed personal attention if it was to prosper.
Wests rivals were able to benet from his misfortune and Babington and
Boydell secured acceptance of their meliormenta in 151516.167 The latters
were approved despite Wests objections, as Boydell had accomplished the
required period of residence and presented adequate evidence of the im-
provements he had carried out.168 Meanwhile, Babington served as deputy
for the receiver, Thomas Shefeld, who was in Rhodes from 1513, and as
proctor of the common treasury in England and Ireland.169 He too came into
conict with West, who accused him of refusing to accept payment of his
responsions. West seems to have thought that Babington was attempting to
have him declared a debtor in order to block his chances of promotion, and
the issue recurred ten years later, when West appeared before the council
complaining that although he had paid Babington certain monies, and had
a quittance to prove it, the latter had not recorded it in his books of
By the time West returned home, Roger Boydell had completed his third
term of conventual service and Alban Pole was about to embark on his
second,171 being the only one of the knights received in 1500 to ght during
the 1522 siege of Rhodes. Casualties during and sickness after the siege
prompted a round of promotions in 15234, and Babington, Pole, and
Boydell were all able to secure preceptories of meliormentum in May 1523,

Claudius E.vi, fo. 69v; AOM81, fo. 151v; 400, fo. 150v.
AOM400, fo. 150v; 403, fo. 162r; 82, fo. 51r. Babington had been in England and
attended provincial chapters in 150910, being described in April 1510 as nominated to
Yeaveley. He then returned to Rhodes before being licensed to go and rule his commandery
in August 1511. Claudius E.vi, fos. 69v, 81v; AOM400, fo. 150v.
AOM404, fos. 145r, 145rv; See below, 201.
See below, 2012.
AOM82, fo. 157v158r; 403, fo. 163rv; 404, fo. 147v; 405, fo. 130r.
AOM406, fos. 157v158v.
AOM403, fos. 168v169r, 193v194r.
AOM405, fos. 131v132r; 412, fo. 197r.
AOM406, fo. 166r; 408, fo. 135r.
The Prior and his Brethren 51

while Wests meliormenta were not accepted until October 1524, and he had
to wait till August 1526 before he was granted ancienitas to seek another
house.172 The brethren received with him at the turn of the century were
now ready to embark on their next stage of their careers. Alban Pole was
granted the bailiwick of Eagle after the death of Thomas Shefeld in 1524,
and John Babington became prior of Ireland in 1527, exchanging it with the
turcopoliership a year later.173 In the meantime Boydell, who had not done
as well as his fellows when he meliored himself in 1523, was granted a
pension of 20 from the fruits of Dinmore out of magistral grace.174 After
Pole died in August 1530, West rather than Boydell secured the turcopolier-
ship, while Babington became bailiff of Eagle.175 Boydell had to wait until
Wests disgrace and removal from his post in March 1533 before being
granted a bailiwick, but died within a few weeks of his promotion.176
After Babingtons death in 1534, West was the sole survivor of the brethren
received in 1500 and, restored to his dignity in 1535, was granted expect-
ancy to the priory of England.177 Although the nal prize was thus in sight,
West was unable to restrain his behaviour and was again deprived of the
turcopoliership in 1539.178 He returned to England after the Dissolution of
1540, and collected his pension from the crown for several years after.179

2.3 Conventual Life, Households, and Servants

Although they continued to provide spiritual services and to be exempt from

episcopal visitation, interdicts, tithes, and most secular taxation, by the
sixteenth century Hospitaller preceptories had lost many of the other char-
acteristics they had shared with similar religious houses. Chief among the
changes was the loss of a communal religious life. Save at Clerkenwell, no
English or Welsh house is known to have had more than one brother in
residence after 1460, although there were still thirteen nuns at Buckland in
1539.180 In such circumstances the observance of the Rule and of the
innumerable ordinances added by successive chapters-general may have
been extremely patchy. Indeed, the mass of regulations was found to be so
unwieldy, anachronistic, and ambiguous181 that Pierre dAubusson (master,
14761503) obtained papal dispensation from the Rule, except the three

AOM410, fos. 177v, 178v; 411, fo. 154v; 412, fos. 191v192r.
AOM84, fo. 41v; 412, fo. 199r; 413, fos. 23r24r, 25rv.
AOM412, fo. 201v.
AOM54, fo. 200v; 85, fo. 77v; BDVTE, 1819.
AOM54, fo. 237v; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 131.
AOM54, fo. 255v; PRO SP2/Q, no. 32, fos. 129b/152b; AOM85, fos. 148r, 153v.
See below, 221.
See below, Ch. 9.
LPFD, xv, no. 1032, p. 544.
Stabilimenta, Exordium in stabilimenta, De regula, ii.
52 The Prior and his Brethren

substantial vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, soon after his election
and launched a complete recodication of the statutes in 1482, which
resulted in the printed statutes drawn up in 1489 and given papal approval
in 1492.182
While it had long been ordained that the Rule itself should be read to
brethren four times a year, awareness of the statutes may have been more
limited, and among the new regulations of 1489 was the order that thirty of
the customs and establishments contained therein should be read out too.183
Brethen, therefore, should not have been in ignorance of what was required
of them. Yet although the statutes governing their conduct were still numer-
ous, they gave very little moral guidance save to enjoin modest behaviour in
church,184 and establish penalties for such lapses as concubinage, embezzle-
ment, maladministration, and slander.185 For knights, spiritual guidance
was limited to the requirements to receive communion three times a year,
to observe a number of fasts and feast days and to pray for deceased
brethren.186 Little more than the maintenance of hospitality and divine
worship and efcient administration was expected from brethren when
they were in Europe and visitation of the orders houses, although still
enjoined on its priors, was rmly directed toward these considerations
rather than towards investigation of the personal conduct of individual
brethren.187 In this context it is hardly surprising that most of the evidence
illustrating conventual life in the provinces relates to the administration of
preceptories rather than the personal characteristics of their possessors.
Collectively, the Hospitallers religious preoccupations appear to have
been thoroughly conventional. Both priors and other brethren founded
chantries or endowed masses to pray for their own souls and those of
other members of the order, with the orders priest-brethren and the secular
clerks singing and serving at Clerkenwell increasingly devoted to these
tasks.188 Similar services were provided by the London Charterhouse after
1430, when the Hospitallers became its confratres: one Hospitaller knight,

AOM283, fos. 168v169r; Stabilimenta, De regula, iii, Tenor bullarum apostoli-
carum; AOM76, fo. 124r; Sarnowsky, Macht und Herrschaft, 378.
Stabilimenta, De regula, v, vi (Statutes of Fluvian and dAubusson).
Ibid., De ecclesia, xxviixxviii (Statutes of Naillac).
Ibid., De thesauro, ix, xii (Statutes of Naillac), De prioribus, xviii (Statute of Fluvia);
De fratribus, x (Statute of Nicolas de Lorgne).
Ibid., De ecclesia, vi, iiiiv, vii, x, xiii, xviiixviiii, xxiiiixxvi, xxix, xxxxii;
AOM284, fo. 87r.
Ibid., De hospitalitate, esp. i, iiii (consuetudo; Statute of Naillac), De ecclesia, xxiii
(Statute of Naillac), De prioribus, xxii, xv (Statutes of Naillac), xviii (Statute of Fluvia), xxi
(Statute of Lastic).
Excavations, 41, 69, 91; BL MS Nero E.vi, fos. 5v6v (1434 endowment of separate
masses for priors, priors and preceptors, and all members of the order). In 1494 and 1522
corrodies were granted to clerks of the choir of Clerkenwell on condition they instruct and
teach the choristers of the church in the manner and art of singing the praise of God.
Lansdowne 200, fo. 20r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 230r.
The Prior and his Brethren 53

John Rawson, can be found donating literature and clothing to a London

Carthusian before 1519.189 The order might also seek the prayers of the
hermits to whom it granted chapels or property.190 Yet evidence of personal
devotions is more difcult to come by. With the exception of generally
conventional expressions of pious good wishes for divine favour and their
correspondents safe keeping, brethren rarely displayed overt religious sen-
timents in their letters, while the requirement that all books among their
effects save breviaries, psalters, and chronicles be sent to convent after their
deaths militated against their accumulation of libraries in the west.191 Nor,
save for those who died after 1540, did Hospitallers leave wills, so that this
avenue of investigation, too, is closed. The few indications of personal
religious devotion that remain cannot be seen as more than suggestions of
what might have been usual. Thus the devotion of William Weston junior
(prior, 152740) to the Virgin Mary, which can be attested from the inscrip-
tions once on his tomb, is not certainly known to be replicated among the
English brethren in this period, although it is most unlikely to have been
unusual.192 The dedications of chantry chapels at Eagle and Clerkenwell to
St Sithe and SS Katharine, Ursula, and Margaret made by Henry Crownhall
and Robert Malory show awareness of contemporary devotional fashions
but are scarcely less conventional, as are the paintings in the chapel sup-
posedly built by the English brethren in Rhodes, which depicted St George,
the Archangel Michael, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and various angels.193
Some brethren left religious items to churches before their death, as was their
right.194 John Tonge, whose custody of his property was in other ways quite
unsatisfactory, left rich vestments bearing his arms to the chapel of the
manor of Temple Dinsley, while Thomas Docwra gave a printed mass
book to the chapel of Temple Cressing.195 The spolia of brethren also

E. M. Thompson, The Carthusian Order in England (London, 1930), 188, 3278.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 95rv; Excavations, 146.
Stabilimenta, De thesauro, ii (Statute of Hugh Revel). Ker did not record any books or
manuscripts originating in the priory in his Medieval Libraries, although he did note a possibly
thirteenth-century Psalter from Minchin Buckland among the manuscripts of the London Society
of Antiquaries. Watsons supplement to Ker notes a late fourteenth-century Brut possibly origin-
ating in Clerkenwell and now in Trinity College, Dublin. This manuscript also contains a series of
memoranda from 13856 recording both national events and those particular to the priory, such
as the wreck of the priors ship, the dispatch of gifts to the king at Epiphany and the visit of Leo
king of Armenia to Clerkenwell; a list of distances from Bruges via Venice to Rhodes and various
short pieces, tracts, and verses. These pages were apparently inserted into the manuscript
containing the Brut, it being unclear whether the latter had anything to do with the order. N.
R. Ker, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, 2nd edn. (London, 1964),
14; id., Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: Supplement to the Second Edition, ed. A. G. Watson
(London, 1987), 48; Colker, Descriptive Catalogue, ii. 9225.
W. Pinks, The History of Clerkenwell, ed. E. J. Wood (London, 1881), 389.
Hugo, Eagle, 19; Excavations, 91 F. de Belabre, Rhodes of the Knights (Oxford, 1908),
8892. For the cult of St Sithe, see S. Sutcliffe, The Cult of St Sitha in England: An Introduc-
tion, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 37 (1993), 839.
Stabilimenta, De Ecclesia, xxi (Statute of Heredia, 137796).
Claudius E.vi, fos. 147r, 151r.
54 The Prior and his Brethren

sometimes provide evidence for the accumulation of modest amounts

of church plate and vestments. An eight-pointed cross was among the
effects of John Babington senior, Thomas Golyns left vestimenti, and
Nicholas Fairfax a chalice, pyx, and cruets of silver gilt.196 The volume
of secular plate somewhat exceeded these items, however. Although
these material evidences of devotion may speak of display as much as
personal piety, as may the improvements made to the orders churches
and chapels by wealthy brethren, in the want of more expressive evidence
they are all that is available. In the general absence of records of their books
that might give a clearer picture of their devotional interests it is worth
noting, however, that after the dissolution both Nicholas Upton and Oliver
Starkey were investigated in Malta for possession of prohibited books in
The intellectual life of the brethren is also obscure. After the efforts of
John Stillingeet in the 1430s198 no British brother is certainly known to
have penned anything more adventurous than letters or administrative
documents, although an account of the orders origins in a now lost manu-
script edited by Dugdale was perhaps written by a fteenth-century Hospi-
taller chaplain with a grudge against the military brethren.199 The priory
also made copies of its privileges and indulgences and sponsored the English
translation of a history of the siege of 1522.200 Priors were certainly willing
to sponsor the education of priests in the orders service such as Richard
Langstrother, William Tonge, William Armistead, and John Mablestone,
even sending the last two to foreign universities to study, but the theological
or legal training these men acquired does not appear to have encouraged any
great educational or literary leanings.201 Two notable exceptions to this
tendency were John Newton, a secular priest in the orders service who
translated Vegetius De re militari into English while he was in Rhodes in
1459,202 and the humanist William Lily, who travelled to Rhodes to learn
Greek and was provided with a benece in the orders gift on his return.203
Newtons choice of subject matter seems highly appropriate given the prob-
able taste of the English knight-brethren for militaria: reporting the events of

PRO SP2/Q no. 32, pp. 131/154; AOM54, fos. 94v, 95v.
Mdina, Malta, Cathedral Archive, Archivum Inquisitionis Melitensis, Criminal Proceed-
ings, case 1, vol. 1A, fo. 13r/17r.
Monasticon, vi, II, 8319; Gervers, Hospitaller Cartulary, 2930.
Monasticon, vi, II, 7878. I am grateful to Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith for pointing
this out.
F. Wormald and P. M. Giles, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Additional Illuminated
Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1982), ii. 432, citing MS
381950, fos. 3b4; BL Add. MS 17319, fos. 1r19v; Claudius E.vi, fo. 147r; Sloane Ch.
xxxii, 15, 27; Begynnynge and Foundacyon.
CPL, x. 24; xiv. 305; xvii, I, no. 309; Emden, Oxford 150140, 13, 688; Episcopal Court
Book, ed. Bowker, 25 and n.
Tsirpanlis, Rhodes, 354.
See below, 289.
The Prior and his Brethren 55

the 1522 siege of Rhodes, Nicholas Roberts claimed that the Turks had
assembled there the most formidable besieging force seen seins the tyme of
the romans as far as I have red.204 The maps of Rhodes and of the world to
be found at the priory in Clerkenwell were similarly practical.205 It is also
worth pointing out that both John Mablestone and William Armistead
encouraged learning in others after the dissolution, Armistead refounding
the grammar school at Skipton in Craven, and Mablestone leaving books
convenyent to their study to scholars at New College, Oxford, and Kings
College, Cambridge.206
It can also be assumed that both knights and chaplains could read and
write, at least by the sixteenth century. The exigencies of administration
required them to audit accounts and make written reports of what they had
discovered in investigations and visitations. The number of brethren whose
letters have survived from the 1520s and 1530s is considerable, and some
Hospitallers, such as priors John Kendal and William Weston, wrote in
Italian or French as well as English.207 While their hands may have lacked
the elegance and uency of chancery-trained scribes such as Mablestone,
their letters are long enough to suggest that they did not nd the process too
irksome. Where they learned to write is uncertain, but it is probable that
some schooling was expected of candidates for admission, and that further
training of a practical nature was provided in convent, where all brethren
would hold some kind of administrative post within a few years of arriving,
even if this was only to keep or audit the accounts of their langue. Only two
knight-brethren received before 1540, John Lambton and George Dundas,
are known to the author to have been university educated, although another
corresponded with Henry Golde, a Fellow of St Johns, Cambridge,208 and
others were charged with ambassadorial duties which by this period might
have necessitated the delivery of Latin orations. Nevertheless, with the
possible exception of Mablestone, no English brother appears to have had
the breadth of education required for the kind of sophisticated analysis of his
place in the world offered by the Italian knight Sabba da Castiglione.209 Yet
had the order survived longer, it is probable that a higher degree of learning
would have been expected. The few brothers received into the restored

Otho C.ix, fos. 39r41r. Text in W. Porter, A History of the Knights of Malta, 2nd edn.
(London, 1883), 71113, at 711.
The Inventory of King Henry VIII, ed. D. Starkey (London, 1998), 435 (no. 13804).
VCH Yorkshire, vol. i (London, 1907), 458; Emden, Oxford 150140, 689.
LPRH, ii. 3236; LPFD, xii, II, no. 663.
AOM361, fo. 242v; D. Calnan, Some Notes on the Order in Scotland, AOSM 22 (1964),
5971, at 64; LPFD, iii, no. 2840. Besides Dundas, whose learning was evidently quite
formidable, another Scottish brother, Adam Spens, had achieved an MA by 1486. Spens was
almost certainly a brother chaplain, however. CPL, xv. 567.
S. da Castiglione, Ricordi ouero ammaestramenti di S. Castiglione, ne quali con prudenti,
e christiani discorso si ragiona di tutte le materie honorate, che si ricercano a un vero gentil-
huomo (Milan, 1561).
56 The Prior and his Brethren

priory in 1557 included two very highly educated men. Richard Shelley had
studied Greek and Latin at Venice and lived in the household of Reginald
Pole at Padua and Oliver Starkey became the Latin secretary of grand master
Jean de la Valette.210
It must nonetheless be remembered that the Hospitaller vocation was
primarily a practical one and that the administrative training brethren
received in convent was well suited to the running of a preceptory. Their
houses were increasingly indistinguishable from secular properties, except
for the more prominent chapel and cemetery. Like important manors, they
were walled and sometimes moated,211 and often provided with a prominent
gatehouse and other machicolated structures.212 For a long time the more
important buildings, like those of aristocratic and episcopal residences, had
been two storeyed and built of stone.213 These were sometimes arranged
around formal courtyards, but more often as dispersed groups, with the hall
generally close to the chapel, and often situated on the south side of the
principal courtyard or space.214 Unlike many monastic granges and manors,
all preceptories and even quite minor camerae possessed chapels. Within the
precinct dwelt a small household like that of other secular establishments
a chaplain,215 sometimes a steward,216 often a keeper of woods or parker,217
and probably menial household servants. Other ofcers or servants might
lease properties within or just outside the preceptory enclosure. In 1494, for
example, a cottage within the parish of Eagle was let to George Constantine,
whose rent was included in his salary in 1505, while in 1540 the gatehouse
and three closes outside the precinct were let to one Henry Bolande.218
Other servants, while not residing within the preceptory precincts, would
be part of the preceptors council.219 These included the steward, auditor,

Bindoff (ed.), House of Commons, iii. 30810, 3789.
Medieval Archaeology, 36 (1992), 2423 (Excavations at Beverley by the Humberside
Archaeological Unit); W. Woodman, The Preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Chibburn,
Northumberland, Archaeological Journal, 17 (1860), 3547, at 38; W. H. Shimield, On
Shengay and its Preceptory, Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 7 (1893),
13647, site plan at 137; Excavations, 34; R. Gilchrist, Contemplation and Action: The
Other Monasticism (London, 1995), 74.
Hugo, Eagle, 1415; Excavations, 4; Gilchrist, Contemplation, 74.
Gilchrist, Contemplation, 93, 923, 1045; Excavations, 356, 578.
Excavations, 34, 200; M. Spufford, A Cambridgeshire Community: Chippenham
from Settlement to Enclosure, University of Leicester Department of English Local History
Occasional Papers, 20 (Welwyn Garden City, 1965), 16; Woodman, Chibburn, 38; P.
Ritook, Templar Architecture in England, SJHSP 4 (1992), 1422, at 15; Gilchrist, Contem-
plation, 71, 757, 801, 103.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 4v, 5r, 7r, 8v, 12v, 39v, 49v bis, 50r bis, 51r, 61r, 73rv, 78r; Claudius
E.vi, fos. 27v, 90rv, 101v, 130v, 140r, 148rv, 180v, 180v181r, 228v, 231r, 232r, 285r, 285rv,
285v, 285v286r, 286v.
216 Lansdowne 200, fos. 27v28r.
Ibid., fos. 24v, 27v; Claudius E.vi, fos. 182v183r, 199rv, 256v, 257v.
Lansdowne 200, fo. 21rv; Claudius E.vi, fos. 25r26r; Hugo, Eagle, 15, 21.
The phrase was used of Thomas Newport in 1505, although admittedly he held four
preceptories at the time and probably needed a council. Claudius E.vi, fos. 25r26r.
The Prior and his Brethren 57

counsel in law and possibly the bailiffs, parkers, and keepers of woods of
outlying properties.
The volume of business involved in running a preceptory is illustrated by a
letter written by the turcopolier Hugh Middleton to a proctor or servant in
England in about 1448. Middleton, then in Rhodes or Italy, sent a long series of
instructions to his agent on what was to be done to maintain and improve his
properties, stock levels, and nances. He demanded to know whether new
tenants had been put into certain properties and repairs made according to his
instructions, and asked for details of how his farmers and tenants were con-
ducting themselves. Unless some composition could be reached with them,
those who were in arrears were to be prosecuted. Properties requiring it were to
be repaired and new glass, stained with his arms and those of the order,
installed in the clerestory windows at Temple Brewer. Further concern was
directed towards Middletons stocks of malt and corn, livestock, sh, swans,
and wood.220 The attention to detail is impressive throughout. At Fulbeck, for
instance, Middleton instructed his agent to stock two or three hundred tench
and similar numbers of roach, perch, and bream in the dam with all possible
haste and to see that his properties there were repaired. One Allcock was to
make . . . and bind well the gatehouse at Fulbeck, both gables to be plastered,
avising . . . that the windows of the said gate-house be honestly made.221
There are two overriding concerns throughout Middletons letter, the desire
to know what his livelihood was worth, and the associated requirement that
it chevyth and increase. Similar cares are expressed in the 1530s corres-
pondence between members of the order.222 When brethren were less diligent
in their charge of property, however, calling them to account could be a slow
business. In 1504, for example, John Tonge was rebuked for neglecting the
fabric of his third and poorest commmandery, Carbrooke, following which he
set some wood aside to make repairs. Later he changed his mind, sold the
timber instead, and left the preceptory and its buildings in the accustomed
ruin. By 1510 the house was so dilapidated that the English brethren in
convent reported that unless remedy was made promptly no brother would
seek it for his cabimentum.223 In response, the chapter-general instructed the
prior of England to appoint visitors to see what needed to be done and give
Tonge a certain term to complete the repairs without fail.224
The practical concerns of business were also paramount at Clerkenwell.
Here a large complex of conventual and domestic buildings including the
church, chapter-house, great hall, great chamber, priests dorter, yeomens
dorter, counting house, and armoury was arranged around a formal great

E. J. King, A Letter from Brother Hugh Middleton, Knight of the Order of St. John and
Turcopolier of Rhodes, to his agent in England, written about 1448, OSJHP 4 (1930), 118.
Ibid. 16.
LPFD, xiv, II, nos. 4045; xv, no. 490; Addenda, no. 684.
AOM284, fo. 78v; 399, fos. 145v146r.
He was probably dead before he had to do so. Ibid.
58 The Prior and his Brethren

court225 and walled off from the rest of the estate, which was composed
largely of gardens and tenements, but also included the lodgings of the bailiff
of Eagle and other brethren.226 Access to the inner precinct was controlled,
after 1504, by the imposing gatehouse built by Thomas Docwra, which still
stands.227 In some ways this arrangement reected that of the conventual
enclosure or collachium in Rhodes, with the inner precinct corresponding to
the magistral palace, and the outer the rest of the area of town reserved for the
brethren. There are similarities, too, with the Teutonic knights headquarters
at Marienburg, and closer to home with episcopal residences such as Lam-
beth palace and York place.228 Within the walls of the inner precinct dwelt
the prior, subprior, probably the priests serving in the church, the turcopolier
when he was in residence, and the yeomen and other servants of the prior.229
In the outer enclosure resided the other brethren at headquarters, including
the bailiff of Eagle, the chief ofcials of the priory, and lesser servants and
tenants who included brewers, tilers, and industrial workers.230 Properties
were permanently reserved for the turcopolier and bailiff of Eagle, an agree-
ment between prior and brethren of 1440 having established that both they
and other brethren residing in Clerkenwell should pay xed amounts for their
board.231 A number of corrodians held tenements in the outer part of the
complex but were fed at the great hall within at tables gradated according to
rank. Corrodies were sometimes granted to relatives such as Lancelot Doc-
wras nephew John and the similarly named son of James Docwra of
Hitchin,232 but more often to servants ranging from the likes of the chief
steward Thomas Dalby233 and solicitor Richard Hawkes234 to the ofcials of
local Hospitaller manors, butchers, tilers, carpenters, and stable boys.235
Other ofcials of the priory, even if they did not rent tenements or hold
corrodies there, were provided with robes of its livery, as were the stewards
of Hospitaller manors in the provinces.236 Both servants and tenants might
also share in the spiritual benets and exemptions enjoyed by the order and
might choose burial in its churches. Quite a number, including Thomas Cotes,
John Lamberd, William Yolton, and Francis Bell, did just this.237
Excavations, esp. 1326, 1669 and gs. 99, 101.
See Excavations, 13645; LPFD, xxi, I, no. 970 (1).
Excavations, 1356, 16972.
Compare plans in Luttrell, Military Orders, 3445 with Excavations, 2002 and gs.
989, 142.
229 AOM354, fo. 214v; Excavations, esp 92, 1356, 1679 and gs. 99, 101.
Excavations, esp. 923, 1037, 129, 13345, 18890, 2034.
AOM354, fo. 214v.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 129v130r, 60r.
Lansdowne 200, fo. 71r.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 229v.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 20rv, 45r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 182v183r, 183r, 183rv, 283v284r.
e.g. Lansdowne 200, fo. 42r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 136rv, 241r, 253v, 280r.
Stow, Survey, ii. 85; J. C. C. Smith, Index of Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury 13831558, 2 vols., continuously paginated (London, 18935), 49, 62, 143, 162,
192, 237, 247, 276, 322, 325, 529; North Country Wills, ed. Clay, 271.
The Prior and his Brethren 59

Surrounded by their largely lay households and ofcials, brethren of the

Hospital in England and Wales appear not to have lived a fully regular or
conventual life. Yet their failure to do so was itself a result of the orders
policy, which required little more of brethren resident in the west than
conventional piety, the maintenance of divine service, hospitality and prop-
erty, and the forwarding of responsions to headquarters. These were un-
heroic, but not entirely unworthy goals, and it is perhaps on their diligence
and effectiveness in pursuing them, rather than on their production of saints
or scholars, that we should judge the orders members. Crucial to doing so is
to understand the orders administrative system and how far and in what
degree this was geared towards the dispatch of men and monies to the east.
It is to this subject that we now turn.

The Administration and Finances

of the Priory of England

The Hospital steadily acquired lands and rents in England and Wales be-
tween the 1140s and the enactment of the Statute of Mortmain, which made
grants to religious houses subject to royal licence in 1279.1 A renewed
process of acquisition began in 1312, when the order was granted the former
properties of the Templars. Getting hold of these was to involve the expend-
iture of much time and treasure and was still not complete in 1338, when a
survey of the properties subject to the priory of England listed Templar
estates worth a supposed 1,145 marks per annum that were still in the
hands of lay possessors.2 Most of these were never to be acquired and the
extent of the orders landed estate underwent only minor variations there-
after, the most signicant after 1460 being the exchanges of 14801 and
152732.3 The order possessed properties in every county in England, but
the largest concentrations were on its eastern side, in and around London,
and in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. Between
them these areas accounted for about half the income from land of the priory
and its dependent preceptories. In Wales, where Anglo-Norman settlers were
the main donors to the order, its estates were concentrated in the south,
particularly in Pembrokeshire.
The main lines of the orders administration in 1338 are relatively clear. Its
properties were grouped into bajuliae, large houses administered by a pre-
ceptor, and smaller camerae either administered by resident brother-cus-
todes or lay bailiffs or let to farm. Those brothers who had charge of
houses were responsible for managing their estates, maintaining divine
service in their chapels and appropriated churches, dispensing hospitality,
and authorizing expenditure.4 Having collected the revenues of the bailiwick
or camera, they then paid their own expenses and others such as for the
wages, victuals, and robes of their administrative ofcials, household
servants, chaplains, and corrodians, for building and repairs and for the
S. Raban, Mortmain Legislation and the English Church (Cambridge, 1982), passim;
Secunda Camera, p. xlvii.
It is likely that this gure was overestimated. Report, 21213.
See below, 139, 17980, 182, 1967.
Report, p. xxxi and text, passim.
Administration and Finances 61

provision of hospitality. The remainder was then submitted to the treasury in

Clerkenwell. A further round of expenses, including those of the prior and
his household, were met there before the remainder was set aside for dis-
patch to Rhodes. Despite the 1303 statute allowing each prior four prioral
camerae for his upkeep,5 the prior was not presented as holding any of the
properties mentioned in the Report in his own name, but instead drew a
personal allowance of 20 shillings per day, payable by the treasury when he
was at headquarters and by the bajuliae when on visitation.6 It is probable
that some estates not mentioned in the Report were set aside for the prior,
however,7 and the exceptionally heavy charges incumbent on the bajulia of
Clerkenwell indicate some overlap between prioral and preceptorial house-
holds and expenses. The corrodies or stipends of ofcials such as the orders
general procurator in the courts, and the expenses involved in the provision
of hospitality were met from the revenues of Clerkenwell in 1338,8 and were
probably a charge on the prior in later days. Other corporate expenses were
met out of the funds remitted to the priory by the orders other houses.
By the 1430s the organization of the orders estates had been greatly
altered. Although the camerae and lands let to farm in 1338 may well
have been under some kind of prioral supervision, the prior appears not to
have derived any income from them himself. A papal conrmation of the
lands held by Robert Malory (prior, 143239/40) in 1438, however, shows
that the prior now had control not only of four or ve prioral camerae,9 but
also seven membra formerly classed as bajuliae or camerae, nine other
estates, and a further ve parish churches.10 The papal letter, which reects
Malorys petition, suggests that his predecessors had held these for some
time, while his own lack of title to the lands was perhaps the result of the
combustion of some of the priory buildings in 1381.11 One of Malorys
preceptories, that of Buckland and Bothmiscombe, had been transferred to
the priory by the langue in return for the surrender of prioral visitation fees,
while other estates were added to the priors in return for the cession of
prioral rights to the spolia of deceased brethren.12 In 1440, after Malory
had excluded his brethren from a number of their estates, the new prior,
Robert Botill, and the preceptors came to a concord under which
Botill would be granted the small preceptories of Greenham, Hogshaw,
Maltby, Skirbeck, and Poling in return for his granting 300 marks to the

Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 3512.
Report, 211 and passim.
Prima Camera, pp. xxvii, xxxix.
Report, 96101.
For the prioral right to hold multiple camerae, see above, Ch. 2.2.
CPL, ix. 3; discussed in Field, Robert Malory, 2556.
The Peasants Revolt of 1381, ed. R. B. Dobson, 2nd edn. (London, 1983), 40, 158, 170,
185, 188, 200, 209, 224, 262, 389.
12 Field, Robert Malory, 252 (citing AOM350, fos. 221v222r); Mifsud, Venerable Tongue,

44, 66 n.
62 Administration and Finances

preceptors and promising to maintain non-knightly brethren in the ceded

houses.13 Subsequent priors retained these grants. By the 1470s the prior
was specically and personally in control of about 40 per cent of the orders
estates14 which, although often leased by the prior and preceptors in pro-
vincial chapter, paid their prots to the priors receiver-general rather than
the receiver of the common treasury. Four former bajuliae, Clerkenwell,
Cressing, Sandford, and usually Balsall, were set aside for his maintenance
as prioral camerae and subject to payment of a responsion set at 70 after
1501,15 while he was entitled to claim a fth on or after his election. The
fth camera and the ve other preceptories held by the priorBuckland,
Greenham, Hogshaw, Maltby-cum-Skirbeck and Polingwere taxed by the
order at the rate paid by other preceptors.16 The other scattered properties
which were accounted for under the priory in 1535 and 1540 had a net
income of perhaps 1,000. On these the prior paid no responsions at all.
The bajuliae had been subjected to a similar process of amalgamation and
consolidation. Those that had not been absorbed by the priory had largely
been united with preceptories in the same or neighbouring counties.17
Preceptors of the paired houses probably kept some kind of household at
both sites, however.18 Like the prior, rather than simply administer their
estates and send their prots on to the treasury preceptors were now taxed at
a rate individually assessed on the value of their houses by the common
treasury. After paying responsions and sums towards the expenses of pro-
vincial chapters and of the English auberge in Rhodes, and providing for the
maintenance of hospitality, chaplains, and of such servants as were necessary
to run their estates, preceptors were free to do what they liked with their
money until they died, when their possessions reverted to the order.19 They
were bound to maintain the fabric of their houses by the orders statutes and

AOM354, fo. 215r.
With the exception of two commanderies in Kent, virtually all the orders properties in the
Home Counties were placed under prioral control, as were important estates in Cambridgeshire,
Lincolnshire, and Oxfordshire, and smaller ones elsewhere.
AOM393, fos. 109v110v; 54, passim. Their real value was at least 1,050. Valor, i. 4036.
AOM54, passim.
Thus, for example, the Yorkshire preceptory of Newland had absorbed the bajuliae of
Ossington and Winkburn in Nottinghamshire, and the camera of Stydd in central Lancashire;
another Yorkshire house, Mount St John, had been united with the Northumberland house of
Chibburn, and the former Templar preceptory of Garway in Herefordshire had been joined to
the commandery of Dinmore in the same county.
Except when a preceptor was in or on his way to the Mediterranean, in which case paired
houses were quite often let separately, there are only two long-term leases before 1528 of the
second house of a twin in the lease books. These grants were of Trebigh, which was united to
Ansty, and of Garway. Not only did preceptors not usually lease their subsidiary commanderies,
at least one, Giles Russell, is known to have resided at both his houses of Battisford and Dingley
at various times while he was preceptor. Claudius E.vi, fos. 260rv, 276rv; LPFD, v, no. 88; xiv,
II, no. 405.
They were, however, not to grant pensions to secular persons, a stipulation relaxed in
1527, when each brother holding a benece in the priory was permitted to grant one pension of
up to 10 ducats. AOM286, fo. 15v.
Administration and Finances 63

were sometimes expected to perform expensive conventual service, but

brethren with long careers and multiple preceptories could accumulate
considerable personal wealth.
The administration of wide estates by a small number of nancially
independent brother knights was the result of gradual change. In part, this
was a response to complex economic and social pressures, but it is also clear
that it was encouraged by the order, whose statutes made provision for the
absorption of smaller houses by greater.20 The convent placed demands on
both nances and manpower that could not be met by smaller houses unless
they were held in plurality. As rents fell after the Black Death and the cost of
military service increased, the necessity for the amalgamation of houses
became more acute, and the smaller preceptories were gradually absorbed.21
Thus, in 1414, the conventually appointed visitors of the priory agreed, for
the utility of the common treasury and convent, and by the consent of many
preceptors and brethren, to unite the Oxfordshire house of Claneld with
Quenington, while in 1454 the langue in Rhodes voted to attach Dingley to
Battisford when it should next vacate.22
The new structure was made possible by a more devolved system of
administration, with greater reliance on lay farmers as intermediaries be-
tween the order and its tenants. Although a large proportion of peripheral
estates had already been rented out in 1338, demesnes, although given a cash
value in the Report, had probably been kept in hand,23 and labour services
had still been signicant.24 By the late fteenth century nearly all properties
were rented, although some labour services or payments in kind were still
exacted on leased estates.25 Particularly noticeable was the practice of
granting out lands on long lease under the conventual seal. This was espe-
cially marked among the prioral estates, over 80 per cent of which were
leased by 1540.26 On preceptorial estates, the tendency was for appropriated
churches, mills, and the confraria to be leased while smaller tenants held
their lands by copy or freehold. This process had been going on for some
time. Nearly 10 per cent of the Hospitals properties had already been let
under the common seal in 1338, and the order had received papal licence to
rent out its churches in 1390.27 A number of earlier leases are referred to in

Delaville, Rhodes, 163; Stabilimenta, De prioribus, xiiii (Statute of Naillac).
Dates of their absorption based largely on information supplied by Tipton are given in
D. Knowles and R. N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 2nd edn.
(London, 1971), 3018.
AOM339, fos. 142v143r; 365, fo. 119v.
Spufford, Chippenham, 30. For the presentation of payments in kind as cash sums in
accounts, see R. A. Lomas, The Priory of Durham and its Demesne in the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Centuries, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 31 (1978), 33953, at 3434.
Kemble calculated that they were worth 184 16s. 8d. in total. Report, p. xxix.
Spufford, Chippenham, 34.
Long leases of prioral estates were worth 2,068 9s. 0d. in 153940. PRO SC6/Henry VIII/
2402, passim.
Delaville, Rhodes, 263 n. 1.
64 Administration and Finances

the act books of provincial chapters after 1492, and the movement towards
leasing is further corroborated by other sources28 and by the practice of
other religious houses, although some of these appear to have begun grant-
ing substantial numbers of leases for terms of years, rather than for life, only
in the 1530s, when their dissolution was imminent. Such grants were often
made after receipt of heavy entry nes, but set rents at a low level in return, a
practice the Hospital was also following by the end.29
The movement towards leasing was still continuing in the sixteenth cen-
tury. On several occasions between 1503 and 1526 copyhold rents were
leased out by provincial chapter or numbers of small rents were bundled up
together and let to farm for a xed sum.30 Leases were granted by provincial
chapters or assemblies of the order under the conventual seal, and terms
were relatively long. Evidence from other religious houses suggests that they
increased in length in the fteenth century,31 and twenty-one, twenty-nine,
thirty, forty, and even sixty-year leases, as well as more traditional grants for
life or in survivorship, abound in the orders registers even in the 1490s.
Lessees were usually local men. Naturally enough, knights and gentry
tended to be granted the larger manorial or ecclesiastical properties, yeomen
and priests the smaller, while husbandmen were given tenements and mes-
suages. In the capital and its environs, citizens, guildsmen, and brewers
predominated, with royal ofcials also on the lookout for grants of stra-
tegically placed properties. In and around the priory precincts in Clerken-
well numerous properties were leased, or granted as part-corrodies, to
servants and relatives of brethren. This was mirrored by the situation in
the provinces, where family members of preceptors or their servants and
associates were often granted the leases of preceptory demesnes or outlying
estates. Probably for reasons of trust, the three-year leases of preceptory
estates granted to enable brethren to go to or maintain themselves at the
convent were almost exclusively made out to Hospitaller brethren, relatives

e.g. BL Additional MS 5539 nos. 301 (leases of Sutton-at-Hone, 1450s and 1460s,
mentioned); Harleian Charter 57 F.18 (dispute over twenty-four-year lease of Great Wilbraham
drawn up in June 1401); VCH, Wiltshire, ix. 66 (Chirton leased by 1379); Secunda Camera, pp.
lxii, lxxi (Maplestead probably leased 13657; the Sampfords c.1389); Prima Camera, pp. xlvi,
lxxv, 257 (twelve-year lease of rectory of Roydon, 1390), 424 (Sutton, Essex by c.1395); A
Kentish Cartulary of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, ed. C. Cotton, Kent Archaeological
Society, Records Branch: Kent Records, 11 (Ashford, 1930), 132 (thirty-eight-year lease of
Temple Dartford, 1388).
D. M. Knowles, The Religious Orders in England, 3 vols. (Cambridge, 1971), ii. 3234;
Lomas, Durham, 33940, 3448, 352; R. W. Hoyle, Monastic Leasing before the Dissolution:
The Evidence of Bolton Priory and Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 61
(1989), 11137, esp. 11416; J. Youings, The Dissolution of the Monasteries (London, 1971),
50, 578, 60, 77, 337; J. H. Bettey, The Suppression of the Monasteries in the West Country
(Gloucester, 1989), 712; PRO LR2/62, passim.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 32v33r, 108r, 119v120v, 196rv.
Lomas, Durham, 348, 352; C. Dyer, Warwickshire Farming 1349c.1520: Preparations
for Agricultural Revolution, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers, 27 (Stratford-upon-Avon,
1981), 5; VCH, Wiltshire, iii. 183.
Administration and Finances 65

of the preceptor concerned, and leading servants of the order.32 Occasionally

leases were made out to the brethren themselves. In 1498 John Tonge
received the Hertfordshire manor of Temple Dinsley from his uncle, John
Kendal, and the provincial chapter, while Robert Newport was granted the
Leicestershire manor of Heather, which Thomas Newport had recovered
from the hands of seculars, in 1505.33
An examination of the leases granted in the chapter held in May 1526 may
illustrate some of these points. This meeting provides a fairly large and
diffuse sample of grants:34 it made seventy-six in all, of which eight were
of the advowson of churches in the orders gift, one was of a pension, four
were of ofces, and thirteen were of corrodies, some with an ofce or
chaplaincy attached. The fty remaining grants were leases, of which some
twenty-ve pertained to the prioral preceptories, camerae, and estates, and
the rest to the other preceptories. They ranged across the whole spectrum of
property types and values. Excluding three-year leases of the preceptories of
Swingeld, Dalby and Rothley, and Yeaveley and Barrow, and that of a
pertinence of Beverley of which the farmer was to pay the accustomed and
unspecied farm to the auditor there, the total annual value of the properties
granted was 535 7s. 5d. The most important of these was the large prioral
camera of Balsall, leased to Martin Docwra at a rent of 200 per annum.35
Docwra was also given the reversion of the Berkshire manor of Greenham,
and another member of the family, John, the prebendary of Blewbury, was
granted a close in the Essex manor of Rainham-Berwick.36 Nineteen of the
lessees were described as yeomen, and thirteen as gentlemen or esquires.37
There were also a citizen of London, a grocer, a smith, a waterman, and a
tiler. Virtually all resided in the same township or county as the property
they were leasing and several had previous connections with the Hospital.
The three preceptories leased were granted to the usual recipients.38 The
Genoese merchant Antonio Vivaldo was co-lessee of all three, the prioral
chancellor John Mablestone was co-lessee of Swingeld and Dalby, and John
Babington, preceptor of Dalby, was co-lessee of Swingeld and Yeaveley
despite being himself on his way to Italy. Two London gentlemen, William
Bowes and Thomas Redeman, were among the farmers of Swingeld and
Yeaveley respectively, and Babingtons brother Humphrey was joint farmer
of Dalby. With the exception of the preceptories, the properties let ranged in
value from a noble to 33, and included grants or reversions of eight

See e.g. Claudius E.vi, fos. 4v5r, 6v7r, 16rv, 28rv, 28v29r, 44rv, 81v82r, 83rv, 98r,
98 99v, 243rv.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 54rv; Claudius E.vi, fo. 14v15r.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 264r291r.
Ibid., fos. 265v266v.
Ibid., fos. 266v267r, 270v271r.
I have excluded lessees of preceptories from this gure. Seven farmers were not described.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 264rv, 264v265r, 265rv.
66 Administration and Finances

courses of confraternity payments, eight manors, six rectories, and one

combination of the two. Several of the smaller grants were of properties in
London or within the priory precincts.39
That it leased out its property did not mean that the order was without
concern for its state. Leases laid down the responsibilities of farmers in some
detail. Rent was to be paid on time on pain of nancial penalties usually
amounting to about twice the annual farm. When a manor had been
granted, the farmers were usually bound to pay the salary of the manorial
chaplain, and the expenses of ministers and stewards coming to survey the
property or to hold courts. They were also typically expected to maintain the
buildings in coopertura, daubatura et straminis and to repair hedges,
ditches, mill-workings, river banks, and ood defences when necessary. In
1496, for example, Thomas and Elizabeth Seyman promised to repair all the
walls and buildings then in existence at Temple Grafton40 and to maintain
any new edices they might construct. The prior and his successors were
only to pay for the rebuilding of the chancel of the manorial chapel, an
expense incumbent upon them as its appropriators.41 Often there was a
division of responsibility according to the scale and type of maintenance to
be carried out. Leases of the Kentish camera of Sutton-at-Hone in 1493 and
1499 specied that while the farmers were to maintain houses, walls,
hedges, ditches, and the banks of the Thames, as well as, in 1499, stock
levels and the ornaments of the chapel, all repairs requiring the use of stone,
lead, tiles, and great timber were to be at the priors expense.42 In the case of
those taking on dilapidated properties, major repairs or rebuilding were
sometimes stipulated. Thus in 1506, Thomas Bassett of Painswick obliged
himself to build at the Gloucestershire manor of Wishanger a chamber in the
hall of the mansion, besides a storeroom, a pantry with a solar above, a
stable for six horses, a bakehouse, and a malthouse.43 When the property
was granted to new farmers in 1514 they were required to construct a stone
barn roofed in slate within seven years.44 At the same time, the farmer of the
capital tenement of Suffytur, also a dependency of Quenington, promised to
spend 40 on rebuilding the property, which was now in great ruin.45 To
encourage him to do so, a very low rent was set. Similarly, in 1519 John
Huntyngdon promised to provide a new roof, oor, wattle walls, and doors

e.g. ibid., fos. 272rv, 273rv, 273v, 273v274r.
These were a hall of two bays with two adjacent chambers each of one bay, an old kitchen
of two bays with an appended structure of the same size, an oxhouse, a barn, a sheepcote, and a
Lansdowne 200, fos. 33v34r.
Ibid., fos. 15rv, 62v63r.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 31rv.
Ibid., fos. 128v129r.
Ibid., fo. 129r. Similar obligations to construct new buildings or rebuild old in ibid.,
fos. 32rv, 80r, 89v90r, 107v108r, 123v124r, 124rv, 129v, 199v200r, 233v, 234v, 240v241r,
247rv; Lansdowne 200, fos. 3v, 6v, 34rv, 35r, 51v52r.
Administration and Finances 67

for the orders tithe barn at Sawston, in return for which his rent was reduced
by 10 in his rst two years of occupation.46 Occasionally the order prom-
ised to do the building itself.47 Apart from this obvious concern for the fabric
of its properties, the order also drew up inventories of the stock and utensi-
liae belonging to some major properties before leasing them, copies of which
were kept in the house or camera belonging to the common treasury at
To ensure compliance with the provisions of leases, the orders ofcials
visited its estates, and those who failed to maintain their properties or who
fell heavily into arrears could be evicted.49 It was not always easy to remove
recalcitrant tenants or to recover debts, however, and much of the orders
time and effort was spent on the attempt to achieve these aims in the courts.
Suits were prosecuted in the priors name, as only the priory was incorpor-
ated in the common law, although expenses seem to have been born at least
in part by the preceptor who held the property.50 In 1338, the order paid fees
to a host of legal ofcers both at court and in the provinces, and while the
burden may have lessened somewhat by the fteenth century, the records of
chancery and Star Chamber often show the order prosecuting high-prole
actions against its tenants. The most signicant of these were the disputes
over Balsall in 1496, 15014, and 152736, but other attempts to recover
properties, monies, and documents from tenants occurred in relation to the
orders estates at Slebech, Dalby, and Dinmore.51 Often suits were unsuc-
cessful. The prosecution for debt of ex-farmers of the estates of Slebech after
1514 had been abandoned by 1520, while the order eventually lost its long
action against Martin Docwra for the recovery of Balsall, despite a clause in
his lease by which the latter had promised to vacate the property on a years
notice.52 Even when the courts ruled in the orders favour it might be years
before the desired goods or property could be recovered.53 Often the order
was on the defensive, sometimes against descendants of former benefactors
who claimed that the grants made by their ancestors had been invalid. These
disputes could be lengthy and a cause of lasting bitterness. In the 1520s
Thomas de la Laund complained about the difculty of a pore Gentilman

Claudius E.vi, fos. 199v200r. Other examples of allowances made against rent for repairs
can be found in ibid., fos. 116rv, 222rv, 247v248r; Lansdowne 200, fo. 6v.
e.g. Claudius E.vi, fos. 153v154r, 269rv, 274rv.
Although inventories are often mentioned in the lease books, their details are only rarely
recorded, save for leases of a few important estates, such as Hampton Court, and of inns. e.g.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 30rv; Claudius E.vi, fos. 8v, 139v140r, 143v, 147rv, 149v, 151r; PRO
LR2/62, fos. 7rv.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 191rv, 219rv, 227v228r, 243rv.
AOM54, fos. 13v, 18r, 42r, 45rv, 95r.
PRO REQ 2/10/76; STAC2/33/40, 1/1/50/12, 1/2/109/15, 2/17/401/15, 2/26/175; C1/
588/36, 598/12, 778/303, 925/35; SP2/R, pp. 2902; STAC2/22/290/14, C1/732/38, 932/30
1, 132/1011.
AOM54, fo. 13v; See below, Ch. 6.
See below, Ch. 6.
68 Administration and Finances

such as himself suing a corporation such as the order, for that they do dryve
such as do sew the law wyth them, for lyke theyr Ryght, to an extreme Cost
of Labor & that all they of theyr Religion bere theyr Charges of Sute in
common; & that they have so meny of the best lerned men retayned of theyr
Councell & Parte.54
While the order demonstrated some aggression in maintaining its rights,
the leasing of so many estates probably made their defence more difcult by
weakening formerly robust links with the localities. Prioral ofcials visiting
once or twice a year were no substitute for the presence of a resident
preceptor who might enjoy real clout in his country. The ease with which
even the upstart Martin Docwra was able to defy the order and its ofcers at
Balsall revealed the dangers of the orders land-management policies, par-
ticularly in cases where important estates had been granted to relatives of
brethren. Both at Balsall and at Dalby, where Henry Poole attempted to evict
Humphrey Babington from a lease of the manorial demesne granted him by
his brother John, it proved difcult for a new incumbent to revoke a grant
manifestly not in the orders interest. In such circumstances the service of
best lerned men was always going to be necessary and it is no surprise to
nd the provincial chapter of 1522 granting a corrody to the orders solici-
tor of business and causes, Richard Hawkes, who was to engross all pro-
cesses and pleas pertaining to temporal actions, or that another such grant
was made two years later to Richard Bruge, one of our council in the law.55

3.1 Income

In 1338, according to its own gures, the orders estates in England and
Wales brought in 6,839 9s. 9d., of which, the expenses of preceptorial
households having been deducted, 3,826 4s. 6d. reached the treasury in
Clerkenwell.56 After the payment of expenses, pensions, and corrodies the
treasury was left with 2,303 15s. 2d. for submission as responsions to
Rhodes.57 As the responsion was set at a third-annate at the time, this sum
corresponded fairly neatly with a third of the sum submitted gathered in the
orders estates. In fact the gures are not entirely convincing, and their
presentation seems to have been inuenced by a desire to show that the
order was submitting a third of the value of its estates to headquarters rather
than by a strict desire for accuracy. Nevertheless they prove clearly that the
priory had a clear income comparable to that of the very greatest lay
magnates or richest bishops in the mid-fourteenth century. Moreover,

BL MS Additional 4937, fos. 80r, 78v79r, 86r.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 229v, 253v.
Report, 213, 202.
Ibid. 211.
Administration and Finances 69

when it is borne in mind that in return for the acquisition of the Templar
estates the Hospital had had to grant many of their holders life tenure rent
free, and to advance lands and pensions to courtiers, lawyers, and creditors,
it is clear that its potential wealth was considerably underestimated by the
report. Michael Gervers has even suggested that it only records a third of the
orders real wealth, but his conclusions may only hold true for properties in
prioral hands.58
Whatever its real dimensions, it is unlikely that this wealth could ever be
concentrated and exploited with complete effectiveness. The Black Death
and the sustained fall in population which occurred thereafter eventually
reduced the revenues of most landowners, and may have hit the order
particularly hard, as much of its land was marginal59 and may have been
abandoned by its tenants. The fteenth century saw continued decline in the
population of some of the orders estates, so much so that one of its two
parish churches in the Norfolk village of Carbrooke was closed for lack of
parishioners in 1424, and when the buildings and tenements pertaining to
another, the Cambridgeshire bajulia of Chippenham, were destroyed by re
in 1446 many of them were never rebuilt and reoccupied.60 The number of
households in Chippenham fell from 143 in 1279 to fewer than eighty in
1377 and only sixty in 1544.61 Although conditions varied according to time
and place, in general the fall in population led to increased wages and
perquisites for labourers, the widespread commutation of labour services,
and, especially in the fteenth century, a considerable decline in rents.62 The
orders resort to the farming out of many estates on long lease needs to be
seen as an attempt to ensure itself a stable income in this context of falling
agricultural revenues and population decline, the latter possibly affecting the
recruitment of brethren as well as numbers of tenants. A number of smaller
properties had, admittedly, been leased out by 1338,63 but the more sub-
stantial estates had still been kept in hand. By the 1490s as many as half its
properties may have been leased. Although this certainly saved on the

Prima Camera, p. xxxix. Some estates in Essex and Middlesex were heavily undervalued in
1338, but it is much harder to argue this with respect to properties elsewhere which, although
certainly valued more highly in the inquests into Templar property in 13079 than in 1338, do
not show such massive discrepancies in valuation as in the cases he highlights, as can be seen, for
instance, from a comparison of the values Perkins gives for churches appropriated to the Temple
with the revenue the hospital derived from them in 1338. Perkins, Wealth, 256; Report, 136,
137, 161, 163, 172.
Marginal land was often given to the Hospitallers or Templars, but was made attractive by
the privileges that their tenants enjoyed. R. Studd, A Templar Colony in North Staffordshire:
Keele before the Sneyds, North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies, 22 (19825), 56, 910.
Puddy, Norfolk, 19; Spufford, Chippenham, 367, 312.
Spufford, Chippenham, 5. For depopulation and rent reductions on some Hospitaller
properties in Oxfordshire, see VCH, Oxfordshire, xii. 19, 262.
J. Hatcher, England in the Aftermath of the Black Death, Past and Present, 144 (1994),
335; Dyer, Warwickshire Farming, 89; Spufford, Chippenham, 334, 37.
Report, 1223, 1256, 143, 1523, 157, 1602, 167, 1704, 178, 1935.
70 Administration and Finances

expense of maintaining a large number of independent households, the gain

was partially offset by the low level at which leases were set. The value of
the orders estates may have continued to fall until the last quarter of the
fteenth century. At Sutton-at-Hone/Dartford, for example, the annual
payment for the lease of the manor was twice reduced in the third quarter
of the fteenth century, rst from 63 to 50, and secondly from 50 to 46
13s. 4d. Recent farmers of the property had clearly been unable or unwilling
to pay and still owed over 160 to the prior in the mid-1470s. The lessees of
the priorys appropriated churches in Kent were also heavily in arrears.64
By the 1490s, however, the sums the order could raise by leasing its estates
appear to have stabilized. The registers of the acts of the orders provincial
chapters contain serial leases of many of the orders properties and appro-
priated churches, and the value of these did not vary greatly between 1492
and 1539. If anything there was an upward trend after about 1510: the farm
of Sutton-at-Hone and Temple Dartford was increased to 48 in 1514 and
50 in 1522, and its lessees were made responsible for major repairs, and the
rent of the former camera of Keele was raised from 16 13s. 4d. to 18 in
1519.65 Rents of estates around London were particularly likely to increase,
a development that can probably be associated with the contemporary rise in
grain prices in the capital.66 Many of the increases were also associated with
improvements to the fabric of the properties in question. In London espe-
cially a number of tenements were rebuilt and then let at signicantly higher
rents. It needs to be stressed, however, that most properties were leased for
the same sums in 1535 as they had been twenty, thirty, or forty years before.
Income, then, was probably fairly stable between the 1480s and the onset
of the anti-ecclesiastical measures of 152936, which severely reduced the
orders revenues.67 Yet some of its spiritual perquisites were still in place to
be noticed in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, which provides brief sum-
maries of the sources and extent of the income of its houses, and of expend-
iture on servants, chaplains, and sometimes on responsions. Rather more
detailed are the Ministers Accounts of the Hospitaller estates after their
expropriation by the crown in 1540, which give complete lists of the tenants
of many properties. Yet both the Valor and the Accounts have deciencies as
guides to the nature and extent of the orders income. The survey of 1535
varied in thoroughness according to the peculiarities of the local commis-
sioners, so that the income of some preceptories was listed manor by manor
and source by source, while the entries for others are much more abbrevi-
ated. The entries for Beverley, Halston, Peckham, Shingay, and Temple

BL Additional MS 5539 no. 31. Sutton had been let separately from Dartford until 1460.
Ibid., nos. 627.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 118v119r, 214v215v, 13r, 191rv.
I. W. S. Blanchard, Population Change, Enclosure, and the Early Tudor Economy,
Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 23 (1970), 42745, at 433 and n.
See below, Ch. 6.
Administration and Finances 71

Brewer only provide details of the net income or annual farm of the house,
although that for Temple Brewer mentions that the lessee had an annual
allowance of 23 10s. to pay the stipends of servants and chaplains. More
seriously, the entry for Dinmore is missing and that for Battisford and
Dingley is heavily damaged and can give no indication of the complete
value of the house. However, the Valor does provide a partial idea of the
orders income from confraternity payments and the oblations made in its
churches, both of which are unmentioned in the Ministers Accounts.
The net values given in the Valor are noted in Appendix IX, although all
should be reduced because the commissioners refused to allow some ex-
penses against the value of preceptories when they estimated their worth.
These included 12 paid to maintain six poor boys at Carbrooke, oblations
to the poor at Willoughton, and the salaries of chaplains celebrating in
chantries at Ribston and Quenington.68 Claims that responsions should be
allowed against the taxable value were universally refuted. Moreover, even
when these charges are taken into consideration, the expenses listed in the
Valor do not include those of the brethren themselves. If these, especially
those of the priors household, were added the clear value of the orders
estates might well be lower than that given in 1338.
The Ministers Accounts are also incomplete. Most of the earliest surviv-
ing accounts are for the nancial year 15401 rather than 153940 and,
because of the rapid alienation or leasing of monastic lands after the dissol-
ution, probably represent a fall on the gures that could have been expected
even a year earlier. Moreover, the 15401 accounts for the preceptories of
Slebech and Ansty show that they had already been let by the crown at
relatively low rents,69 the commanderies formerly held by the attainted
Thomas Dingley paid only a tenth based on their 1535 assessment to the
crown, otherwise submitting no account, and several houses were farmed
out shortly before or after the dissolution for rather low considerations.
Nevertheless, the sums given in the Accounts do provide a corrective to the
Valor because, despite the loss of spiritual revenues, those given for 153940
are considerably higher than the gures for 1535 and are based on actual
receipts rather than assessed income.70 The overall picture provided by these
sources, both of which show a net income of well over 5,000, is illustrated
in Appendix IX.
Breakdown of this income into its constituent elements is difcult, espe-
cially considering that manors and churches were often let together, so that it

Valor, iii. 340; iv. 137; ii. 463; v. 256. At Yeaveley and Newland the commissioners did
accept that the houses distribution of alms should be set against its valuation. Ibid. iii. 168; v.
PRO SC6/Henry VIII/7262 mm. 6, 12.
For the suggestion that the Valor underestimated the receipts of ecclesiastical lands,
especially those deriving from casual income, see F. Heal, Of Prelates and Princes: A Study of
the Social and Economic Position of the Tudor Episcopate (Cambridge, 1980), 558.
72 Administration and Finances

is difcult to assess the relative value of temporalities and spiritualities

accurately. Similarly courses of the confraria, although often leased on
their own, might also be farmed as a parcel of other estates. Nevertheless,
it is possible to come to some conclusions about the nature of the Hospitals
income. The most characteristic source of revenue, the confraria, had been
worth 888 4s. 3d. in 1338, apparently a considerable decline from the days
of old.71 Although total revenue from this source is impossible to calculate in
the fteenth and sixteenth centuries, comparison can be made between the
revenues of certain collecting areas in 1338 and in the period between 1492
and 1526.
It should be stressed that the collection of confraternity payments was
generally farmed out by county or diocese after 1492, while in 1338 the
geographical area covered by the frary clerks of each bajulia was rarely
specied. Some of the identications given in Table 3.1 are therefore con-
jectural. For example, confraternity payments made to Chibburn and

Table 3.1. Confraternity payments, 1338 and 14921535 ( s. d.)

Area Value 1338 Value 14921526/1535

Berkshirea 10 4/6/8
Cumberland save Copeland,
Westmorland, South Yorks,
North Lancsb 20 23/6/8
Derbyshire, Staff, Cheshire, n 27/10/0 (151426)
South Lancsc 21/10/0 (1535)
Devon, Somersetd 82/13/4 92
Gloucestershire, Oxfordshiree 40 24/8/0 or 28/2/8
Lincolnshiref 53/6/8 35
London, Middlesex, Surreyg 26/13/4 12/6/8
Norfolkh 86/13/4 53/6/8
Northamptonshire, Rutlandi 37/6/8 26
Northumberland, North
Yorkshire, Durhamj 21/13/4 22/6/8
Suffolkk 50 27/6/8
Warwickshire, Worcestershirel 16 (Warws only?) 13/13/8
Wiltshirem 30 20 (1495) 24 (1496)
total 494/16/8 Maximum: 389/6/4
Minimum: 381/11/8
Report, 4; Claudius E.vi, fos. 181rv, 270v.
Figures are those for Newland in 1338, and for the four courses of the fraria in the counties of
Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmorland pertaining to Newland let in 1524, along
with a course pertaining to Beverley in Copeland. The Valor Ecclesiasticus gives the value of

Report, pp. xxx, 4, 7, 13, 52.
Administration and Finances 73

payments to Newland in Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmorland as 17. Report, 45;

Claudius E.vi, fos. 259v, 260r; Valor, v. 68.
The 1338 gure is for the bajulia of Yeaveley. In various leases granted between 1492 and
1526, confraria payments to Yeaveley were farmed for 53s. 4d. (South Lancashire), 6 16s. 8d.
(Derbyshire), 8 (Staffordshire), and 10 (Cheshire). The gures for Derbyshire, Lancashire,
and Staffordshire are repeated in the Valor, although payments in Cheshire are stated there to be
worth only 4. Report, 43; Claudius E.vi, fos. 127rv, 140v, 200rv, 278rv; Valor, iii. 168.
In 1338 confraternity payments raised 44 marks in the collection area administered from
Bothmescomb, Devon, and 80 marks in that run from Buckland, Somerset. In 1508 and 1516
the lessee of Buckland estimated the prots of the confraria at 92. Report, 13, 17; Claudius
E.vi, fos. 56v57r, 168v169v.
The gure given for 1338 is the combined value of the confraria collected by clerks operating
from Quenington, Gloucestershire, and Claneld, Oxfordshire, which was united to Quening-
ton in 1414. The smaller gure for 14921526 has been arrived at by adding the farm of the
payments made in the portion of Oxfordshire in the diocese of Lincoln to those of the rst and
second courses of Gloucestershire. It is possible that there was a third course in this county, as a
small course of the confraternity in Gloucestershire was let in 1526 for 5 marks. Alternatively
this may be the same as the second course leased in 1512 for 6 8s. Report, 28, 26; Claudius
E.vi, fos. 84v, 100rv, 279r, 279rv.
Collection in Lincolnshire was administered from Maltby both in 1338 and in the sixteenth
century, when it was divided into four courses. Report, 57; Claudius E.vi, fos. 106v107r, 178rv,
Collection was administered from Clerkenwell. Report, 94; Claudius E.vi, fos. 126v127r,
Collection was administered from Carbrooke. Report, 81; Claudius E.vi, fos. 161v162r.
Report, 66; Lansdowne 200, fo. 89r; Claudius E.vi, fo. 63v.
In 1338 confraternity payments to the bajulia of Chibburn, Northumberland were worth 12
marks, while those to Mount St John were valued at 13 6s. 8d. The lease books give values of
7 6s. 8d. for the bishopric of Durham, 4 for Northumberland, 11 for Yorkshire, and 11 for
Cleveland and Richmondshire. It is likely that the last two represent the same course differently
described. In 1535 payments for Cleveland were said to be worth 8 and Northumberland 9.
Report, 52, 47; Lansdowne 200, fo. 36rv; Claudius E.vi, fos. 210rv, 260v261r; Valor, v. 94.
Report, 84; Claudius E.vi, fos. 290v291r.
Collections in Warwickshire and Worcestershire were organized from Balsall in the sixteenth
century. The sum of these has been compared with that given under Grafton in 1338. Although
Grafton had later been absorbed by Balsall, it is not certain whether the gure given for the
receipts there included only Warwickshire or both counties. Report, 41; Lansdowne 200, fo. 12r;
Claudius E.vi, fos. 21v22r, 145r.
Report, 7; Lansdowne 200, fos. 27r, 32r.

Mount St John in 1338 have been compared to the sum of the farms of those
for Richmondshire and Cleveland, County Durham, and Northumberland
given at various times in the lease books, as these were payable at Mount St
John. Although it is difcult to be certain, the gures presented here seem to
indicate that confraternity payments had fallen by about a fth since 1338,
with the decline being particularly pronounced in the Home Counties. The
reasons for the decline are unclear, but among others may be attributable to
a weakened sensitivity to the orders work in combating the indel, erosion
of the privileges attendant upon making payments, or the competing attrac-
tions of other guilds and confraternities. The collapse of payments in
74 Administration and Finances

London clearly demonstrates that a fall in population was not wholly to

blame for the decline, although the seeming rise in parts of the north may be
partly due to economic recovery after the Anglo-Scottish wars. Even a
decline of 20 per cent would still have made the payments worth about
700 in the sixteenth century, however, and it should also be remembered
that by farming out the confraria the order no longer had to pay the wages of
the frary clerks who collected it. It is consequently hardly surprising that
the langues brethren objected to the papal suspension of the orders confra-
ternity collections and indulgences during the Jubilee year of 1500.72
The most signicant proportion of the Hospitals income from spiritual-
ities was that derived from the tithes and glebe lands of its appropriated
churches, to which should be added limited revenues derived from pensions
from those churches where it possessed the advowson but not the appropri-
ation, such as Blewbury and Ludgershall. Excluding the churches appro-
priated to Minchin Buckland, these sources were probably worth at least
1,600 in 1338.73 Although the farming out of a great number of manors
and rectories together makes a similar assessment more difcult in the
sixteenth century, it is likely that gross revenue from spiritualities suffered
a decline in the period between Thames report and the dissolution. After
allowance has been made for the farmer paying the stipend of the vicar, and
for wine, candles, oil, procurations, and synodals the drop in net revenue
may not have been very pronounced. Nevertheless, uctuations in the values
of appropriated churches could have a drastic effect on the revenues of
individual commanderies. The value of the rectories at Carbrooke had
collapsed from 40 in 1338 to 4 4s. 2d. in 1535,74 while the value of
Cardington in Shropshire had fallen from 20 to 6 13s. 4d. by 1505,75 and
that of Marnham in Nottinghamshire from 20 to 11 6s. 8d. by 1526.76
With the exception of Minwear, the value of the numerous churches appro-
priated to Slebech had also suffered a considerable decline.77 This tendency
was not universal, however. The rectory of Langford in Bedfordshire was

Hearing their protests about this in January 1499, the orders council refused to solicit the
pope and cardinals to rescind the suspension, as it was merely a temporary measure, and insisted
that the payment of the dues of the treasury should not be allowed to suffer as a result. They did,
however, agree to write to ask Henry VII to intervene in the hope that it will be easier for him to
obtain such (revocation). Leases of Buckland granted after 1500 specied that should confra-
ternity payments be so suspended, the lessee was to pay a greatly reduced farm. AOM78, fo. 95v;
Claudius E.vi, fos. 56v57r, 168v169v.
Excluding churches in the hands of the sisters, and also rectories leased with attached lands
or manors, the sum of the values of appropriated churches and ecclesiastical pensions listed in
the Report is 1,465 15s. 1d. The churches or chapels of Aslackby, Blakesley, Ewell, Gildis-
burgh, Hareeld, South Witham, Sutton (Essex), and Weston were let along with various lands
and rents of unspecied value, for a total of 245 13s. 4d. It is likely that most of this sum was
accounted for by spiritualities. Report, passim, and 117, 125, 160, 170, 172, 173.
Report, 81; Valor, iii. 340.
Report, 199; Claudius E.vi, fos. 60v61r.
Report, 161; Claudius E.vi, fos. 277v278r.
Report, 345; Valor, iv. 3889.
Administration and Finances 75

worth 13 6s. 8d. in the fourteenth century and leased at 16 in the

sixteenth,78 and a similar improvement, from 46 13s. 4d. to 55, occurred
at Ellesmere in Shropshire.79
The overall fall in spiritual revenues was partly compensated for, more-
over, by the transfer of several beneces to the order in the fourteenth and
fteenth centuries, notably the moiety of Dareld in 1357, and the whole
rectories of Gainsborough, Normanton, and Boston in 1399, 1413, and
1480 respectively.80 Other occasional income may have been derived from
the sale of the advowsons of the orders appropriated churches. Although no
cash sums were mentioned in grants of advowsons, the increasing number of
such documents in the lease books after c.1510 probably indicates some
pecuniary advantage in the transaction. In 1455 the vicar of Dareld had
petitioned for absolution from any simony he might have been involved in
paying 120 orins to a certain knight for presentation to it.81
The revenue the order derived from the provision of extra-parochial
spiritual services, oblations, and indulgences is very difcult to quantify,
but could be considerable. The prots from the provision of burial, mar-
riage, and sanctuary to non-Hospitallers varied between houses, but were
signicant enough to irritate the secular clergy, and to prompt the protests of
preceptors and lessees when the value of pardons collapsed in the 1530s.82
The overall income from oblations is also unknown, although some specic
examples can be given. Oblations at the priory church at Clerkenwell were
boosted by the grant of indulgences to those who made donations to it,83
and in 1535 were still worth 15 14s. 2d. per annum in common years,
although it is likely that they had been much higher in previous gener-
ations.84 The orders church at Slebech was a relatively important pilgrimage
centre and oblations at the former Templar church in Dunwich had been
worth 4 beyond the maintenance of a chaplain in 1338.85 Yet in most
Hospitaller churches, the oblations seem to have been allowed to the vicar or
chaplain along with the lesser tithes as part of his portion.86 An interesting
exception is provided by the church of Temple Holy Cross in Bristol, where
the farmer and the preceptor of Templecombe were to share monies depos-
ited in St Johns box.87 More occasional were grants of plenary indulgences
Report, 171; Claudius E.vi, fos. 21rv, 208v209r, 242v243r.
Report, 39; Valor, iv. 456.
E. W. Crossley, The Preceptory of Newland, YASRS 61, Miscellanea, 1 (1920), 183, at
12; CPL, v. 199; CPR14136, 567; CPR147585, 182, 230, 235, 241; CCR147685, nos.
733, 741, 778; Rot. Parl., vi. 20915.
M. M. Harvey, England, Rome and the Papacy 14171464 (Manchester, 1993), 11314.
LPFD, vi. 1665. See below, 210.
CPL, x. 189; xiv. 45; Registrum Ricardi Mayew Episcopi Herefordensis A.D.MDIV
MDXVI, ed. A. T. Bannister, CYS, 27 (London, 1921), 1115.
Valor, i. 403.
Rees, Wales, 31; Report, 167.
e.g. Valor, iii. 19, 21, 99, 104, 122, 128.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 48r.
76 Administration and Finances

to the order. Those collected in 14545 and 147982 produced considerable

revenues. In November 1457, John Langstrother was acquitted of 3,562 8s.
8d. he had expended or committed to the order out of the part of the Jubilee
owing to the Religion, while the papal camera received nearly 3,000 for
Nicholas Vs half of sums collected in England after expenses were
deducted.88 The later collection was entrusted to the turcopolier, John
Kendal, who was able to make use of printed indulgences produced by
Caxtons press. Although its total proceeds are unknown, at least 150
was paid to Kendal by the papal collector in England from monies received,
and voluntary contributions towards the defence of Rhodes in Worcester
diocese amounted to over 60. It is likely that total donations, while less
than in the 1450s, amounted to a few thousand pounds.89
As court prots and the sale of woods were no longer very valuable by the
sixteenth century and prots from labour services were rarely mentioned,
the remainder of the orders temporal income was chiey comprised of farms
and rents of its landed estate. It probably amounted to over 3,000 in the
sixteenth century, and was contributed by manors, mills, messuages, or
tenements let at farm on long lease by provincial chapter, and free, ad
voluntatem and copyhold rents of smaller properties. In London collection
was probably the responsibility of two collectors of rents, one for originally
Templar properties and one for those that had always belonged to the
Hospital.90 Elsewhere, the rents from the various classes of property were
collected in bailiwicks usually covering a number of parishes, and sometimes
more than twenty. A preceptory with very scattered estates, such as New-
land, might be divided into as many as sixteen bailiwicks.91

3.2 The Receiver of the Common Treasury and the Submission of


The Hospitals conventual common treasury derived most of its revenue

from four ancient dues levied on its properties or brethren: responsions;
mortuaries; vacancies; and spolia. The most signicant and regular of these
were responsions, payments of a specic proportion of their net value levied
on most of the orders beneces. Although they had sometimes been xed at

AOM367, fos. 152v153r; W. R. Lunt, Financial Relations of the Papacy with England
13271534, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 193962), ii. 5812.
Ibid., ii. 5913.
Robert Bailly was collector of the rents of the Temple in 1499, and there are subsequent
references to collectors of rents in London in the lease books. Quittances issued by several
receivers and collectors of rents in London and its suburbs survive in the British Library.
Lansdowne 200, fo. 65r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 227v, 227v228r, 273v, 273v274r; BL Harleian
Charters 44 E24, 26, 2831, 33, 39, 40, 435, 47.
Crossley, Newland, 10. This gure excludes most of the orders property in Nottingham-
shire, which was also accounted for under Newland, but which was organized into manors.
Administration and Finances 77

a quarter earlier in the fteenth century, between 1467 and 1540 they were
always set at a third or a half, and an augmentation was often added to the
responsion proper. The level of payment was set by chapter-general for the
period until the next such meeting, and was renewable by the council
complete in the event that no chapter was held.92 At irregular intervals
general or local surveys of the orders properties were conducted in order
to update the assessments according to which responsions were calculated.
Registers of visitations were kept by the receiver, perhaps partly so that he
could allocate responsions between the various preceptories.93 Although
few of their ndings survive, general visitations of the orders European
property were ordered in 1449, 14935, and 153940, resulting in new
assessments on which subsequent partitions of responsions were made. In
1495 visitors were instructed to make an average of good and bad years as
the basis for their assessment.94 A visitation of the priories of England and
Ireland by John Langstrother and the prior of Rome in the early 1460s may
have resulted in the onerous assessment for the half-annate imposed by the
Rome chapter-general of 14667.95 The responsions imposed on the priory
of England from 1498 onwards were probably based on the visitation
ordered in 1495, although the slightly differing proportions of their income
paid by different preceptories as augmentations in the 1520s and 1530s
may indicate a continuous process of reassessment linked to prioral visit-
The other three categories of payment were all incidental, arising from the
death of a prior or preceptor. Mortuaries seem to have been levied from the
day of death of the incumbent until the following 24 June, while vacancies
were payable for the twelve months after this.96 Both were supposed to
comprise the whole net revenue of the vacant benece(s) over the period of
their operation, although the vacancy years of preceptories in the masters
gift were often leased for rather less than the assessed net value. Finally, with
some exceptions, the spolia or personal effects of deceased brethren were
Stabilimenta, De thesauro, i (Consuetudo); J. Sarnowsky, The Rights of the Treasury:
The Financial Administration of the Hospitallers on Fifteenth-Century Rhodes, 14211522,
MO, ii. 26774, at 268, 271 nn.
AOM283, fo. 171r.
Sources Concerning the Hospitallers of St John in the Netherlands, ed. J. M. van Winter
(Brill, 1998), 392562; Bosio, DellIstoria, ii. 1778; Sarnowsky, Rights of the Treasury, 271;
SJG, Butler Papers, Box III, citing AOM391. In 1478 the assessment of responsions was
specically based on the new estimate arrived at in the chapter of 14667. The assessment
laid down by the chapter of 1498 was also adhered to for a number of years, still being the
benchmark for the payments of many priories, including England, in 1514. AOM283, fo. 188v;
284, fo. 67r; 285, fo. 10v.
CPR14617, 52.
AOM54, passim. Dr Luttrell has suggested that mortuaries were due from the date of
death to that of the following provincial chapter, and vacancies were payable for the following
nancial year. As provincial chapters were usually held as close to 24 June as possible, it is
possible that payments of mortuaries and vacancies had become xed on that date in the same
way that responsions had. Luttrell, Western Accounts, 45.
78 Administration and Finances

also earmarked for the conventual common treasury. Their recovery was
facilitated by the requirement that sick brethren draw up a dispropriamen-
tum of their effects whenever they were seriously ill and by the threat that
anyone found to have embezzled them was to lose the habit.97
Although the records of the common treasury from the Rhodian and early
Maltese periods are almost all lost, numerous other documents having a
bearing on the nances of the order in the British Isles survive among the
convents chancery registers. The total responsion payable by the priories of
England and Ireland was specied in the chapters-general held between
14667 and 1478, and was again referred to in 1493. Furthermore, many
references to the responsion or vacancy payments of individual preceptories
survive, often in the form of orders for or agreements about the payment of
arrears issued on behalf of the ofcers of the common treasury. Preceptory
leases granted by provincial chapters in England often mention the respon-
sion owed by the benece, although not always accurately, as lessees were
sometimes only expected to pay a third-annate when a half-annate was due.
Taken together with the accounts of 15206 and 15316, these records
enable an assessment of the overall level of responsion payable by the priory
of England for most of the period covered by this survey, as can be seen in
Table 3.2.
Two things are striking about these gures. First, it is clear that despite the
consolidation of the orders estates in the fourteenth and fteenth century,
the value of the responsions submitted to the convent had declined consid-
erably, so that a third-annate, which had been worth 2,303 or 2,280 in
1338, now brought in scarcely half that sum, even with an augmentation
added. Second, the prior was paying a much smaller fraction of the value of
his estates than his brethren of theirs. The overall decline in responsions
clearly owed a great deal to the exemption of many of the priors estates
from payment, but the exact changes in assessment are elusive, not least
because it is not entirely clear how responsions were calculated in the
fourteenth century. The Report does not make it clear whether the priory
was simply expected to submit all of its net income to the convent, or a third
of the gross value of its estates, as gures are given for both, and both are
declared to be the sum remaining for responsions. Neither is it entirely
certain whether assessments in the 1520s and 1530s were based on gross
or net values. The values given in the Valor and Ministers Accounts must
differ considerably from those calculated by the order. However, if one
compares the responsion payable by the preceptories of England and
Wales in 1535 with the Valor and with a third source, a list of values of
the orders properties in east and west of circa 1478,98 one can see that in
most cases a half-annate in 1520 or 1535 amounted to about 40 per cent of

Stabilimenta, De Hospitalitate, vi; De Thesauro, iv, vi.
BL Add. MS 17319, fos. 20r38r.
Administration and Finances 79

Table 3.2. Responsions payable by the priory of England, 14671535

Total annual
contribution of Contribution of
Date Level of responsion priory of Englanda prior of England

146772 Half-annateb 1,560 clothc Unknown

(8,500 ecus)
147382 Half-annated 1,416/12/0 Unknown
(7,083 ecus)f
14839 Half-annatee
14901501 Third-annateg 944/12/0h Unknown
(4,723 ecus)
15024 Half-annatei
150516 Third-annatej (1,109/19/6 less 7/6/8)?k
151720 Half-annate 1,521/3/9 313/3/5 15/18/10
additional levyl 92/13/8 less 7/6/8m less 7/6/8
15216 Third-annate 1,109/19/6 242/14/10
additional levy 350/11/7 less 7/6/8o 59/1/9 less 7/6/8
of 15,000 ecusn
152735 Half-annate 1,613/7/10q 329/2/3 less 7/6/8
15,000 ecusp
Including the Scottish preceptory of Torphichen, but excluding the priory of Ireland which, although
paying its responsions through the receiver of the order in England, was assessed separately. The Irish
priory was ordered to pay 320 ecus in 1467 and 1478, although its usual responsion was 26 13s. 4d.,
which was payable in the 1440s, 1520s, and 1530s. AOM283, fos.31r, 144v; Ancient Deeds, iii. C3613;
AOM54, fos.8v, 32v, 55v, etc.
AOM283, fos.29v32v; For rates of responsion payable in 14601522 see Sarnowsky, Macht und
Herrschaft, 53651.
AOM283, fo. 30v; CPL, xii. 2823.
Imposed successively in of 1471, 1475, and 1478. AOM283, fos.87v91r, 148r, 149v, 188rv.
Sarnowsky, Macht Und herrschaft, 5467.
AOM283, fo. 88v;
AOM31, no. 13 (bull of chapter, 10 Oct. 1489, imposing third-annates for 14902); 391, fos.199r
(1493), 114v (14945; priory of Venice); 284, fo. 5r.
AOM391, fo. 199r (third-annate to be paid in June 1493). This assessment may have increased in the
later 1490s to the same as that paid after 1521, as the preceptories of Carbrooke and Swingeld were
paying the same responsion in 1501 as in 15216. Lansdowne 200, fos.86rv, 87v88r; AOM54,
fos.35v, 32v.
AOM284, fos.19v22r, 22r25r.
AOM284, fos.60v61r, 66v69r; 32, no. 1; 285, fos.1r12r, esp. 2r.
The preceptories of Dalby, Eagle, and Newland paid virtually identical responsions in 1506 and 1513
to those levied on them from June 1521 onwards, but without the augmentation then imposed.
Claudius E.vi, fos.44rv, 113v; AOM54, fo. 29v.
This was laid down in chapter on 20 July 1517. AOM54, fo. 2v.
AOM54, fos.1r20r.
The chapter-general held in November 1520 laid down a responsion of a third-annate unacum
subsidio to be paid in the nancial years ending 24 June 1521 and 1522. This was progressively
extended until 1526. AOM54, fos.27v, 77v, 105v.
AOM54, fos.27v45v.
Imposed by the chapter of spring 1527 for 15279. The levy was successively extended by the council
complete to 1530, 1531, and 1532, and then by the chapter-general of February 1533. AOM286, fos.9r,
23r; 54, fos.173v, 207v; 85, fo. 94v; 286, fo. 37v et seq.
AOM54, fos.173r183v; 207v218v.
Table 3.3. Responsions compared with assessed income

Gross value Net value Assessed value Responsion 1520, 15315 Responsion 15216
House 1535 (/s. d.) 1535 (/s. d.) 1478 ()a (/s. d.) (/s. d.)

Prioral camerae None 70 70

Fifth camerab (210) 89/16/7 5/14/0 63/13/8 12/2/4
Prioral preceptories
Buckland Prioris 120 51/4/11 3/5/11 36/7/3
Greenham 69 29/8/6 1/16/0 20/16/4
Hogshaw 11 17/2/1 1/4/0 12/4/3
Maltby 100 42/6/8 3/0/11 30/5/034
Poling 31 13/4/8 0/18/0 9/8/5
Other houses
Ansty & Trebigh 90/1/9 81/8/5 86 (3254) 37/0/10 2/0/4 26/6/1034 8/18/3
Baddesley & Maine 131/14/1 118/16/7 89 (5435) 42/16/7 2/15/6 29/14/9 10/2/4
Battisford & Dingley Entry Entry 112 (6052) 48/8/2 3/5/11 34/9/534 11/14/9
incomplete incomplete
Beverley Not given 164/9/10 158 67/9/4 4/11/6 48/0/7 16/9/0
Carbrooke 76/5/3 65/2/9 67 28/8/2 1/17/6 20/4/5 4/18/3
Dalby & Rothley 274/11/2 231/7/8 193 80/18/1 5/8/0 57/10/834 19/11/5
Dinmore & Garway n/a n/a 154 65/10/0 4/4/0 46/9/4 15/6/2
Eagle 137/2/0 124/2/0 101 43/0/13 2/16/634 30/11/034 10/9/4
Halston 160/14/10 150 64/0/2 4/5/5 45/10/5 15/9/10
Mount St John 137/2/0 102/13/9 103 44/5/7 2/15/6 31/7/434 10/13/4
Newland & Ossington 202/3/8 129/14/11 194 (11084) 83/0/0 5/9/6 58/19/8 20/1/4
Quenington 146/17/1 137/7/1 None 49/16/2 3/6/0 35/8/1 12/2/4
Ribston 224/9/7 207/9/7 2? (180?) 76/19/2 5/2/0 54/14/1 18/12/10
Shingay 175/4/6 166 69/16/2 4/11/6 49/11/9 16/17/4
Slebech 206/9/10 184/10/11 181 77/12/6 5/2/0 55/3/0 18/15/4
Swingeld 104/0/2 87/3/3 80 38/8/8 2/8/7 27/4/734 9/5/4
Temple Brewer (207/16/8) 184/6/8 141 61/19/7 3/17/11 43/18/5 14/18/9
Templecombe 120/10/3 107/16/11 110 47/0/4 3/1/6 33/7/10 11/6/9
Torphichen None 33/6/8 33/6/8
Willoughton 195/3/0 174/11/1 160 68/12/4 4/11/6 48/15/1034 16/12/4
Yeaveley & Barrow 107/3/8 93/3/4 149 36/14/11 2/9/5 26/2/11 8/18/4
Magistral camera (Peckham) N/A 60 3/6/8 None None
Chilcombe & Toller (Nuns) None 42/15/6 2/14/0 30/6/4 10/6/6
total 1521/3/9 92/13/8
BL Add. MS 17319, fo.37rv. Values were given in this document in ecus de soleil of the kingdom of France and aspers reckoned at 62 aspers to an ecu,
although totals were reckoned in orins of Rhodes. Ecus were worth 4 shillings sterling according to the orders usual assessment, but might cost as much as
4s. 5d. or 4s. 6d. when purchased by exchange. AOM54, fos.68r, 96r, 151r.
This was Balsall in 1478 and Melchbourne, a rather richer property, between 1501 and 1540.
82 Administration and Finances

the assessed value of the house given in 1478, which seems to have corre-
sponded more nearly to the net values of the orders estates given in 1535
than the gross.
The ofcer responsible for the collection and dispatch of responsions was
the receiver of the common treasury, who was usually a junior preceptor and
was appointed in convent and directly answerable to the treasury ofcials
there.99 Receivers had been established in each of the western priories in
1358 in an effort to check prioral misuse of funds, and had considerable
independence and wide powers.100 Their duties were essentially to collect
and dispatch all the dues and arrears owed to the central convent in the
Mediterranean. In pursuance of this aim they were empowered to seek
payment from debtors; to issue quittances to those who had paid; to go
before kings, princes, corporations, lords, and the courts to prosecute or
defend actions and to exhort and compel the prior and preceptors to proceed
against non-payers.101 The receiver was aided in these tasks by a proctor,
also a professed Hospitaller, who was to solicit brethren to pay their arrears
and debts in provincial chapter or elsewhere, to seek justice against non-
payers and to collect the spolia of deceased brethren in cooperation with the
receiver.102 The receiver was further supplemented by the clerk and nuncio
of the common treasury, who were salaried and were usually laymen. The
clerk, or scribe, was appointed by the prior with the consent of provincial
chapter, and held ofce for life. He was responsible for issuing quittances
and setting down the accounts submitted to the convent. The clerkship was
held successively by Richard Passemer (14591500), William Yolton (1500
1516/22), Francis Bell (1516/221526), and Mablestone (152640).103 Both
Bell and Mablestone were chancellors of the priory as well as clerk of the
treasury, and Mablestone, at least, had the responsibility of writing to
preceptors informing them of what had been decreed in convent concerning
payments and urging them to pay their responsions.104 The right to appoint
the clerk was jealously guarded by successive priors; a grant of the expect-
ancy to it by John Weston and the provincial chapter was overturned at the

Although not consistently in their hands, the governance of the common treasury had
been granted to masters of the order since 1429, giving them the right to levy all the arrears and
revenues due to the common treasury in east and west and to appoint or dismiss its ofcers,
including the receivers of the western priories. While the master was absent, and usually until
the next chapter after he arrived, the orders nances were administered by the grand preceptor
and the two proctors of the common treasury. These continued to exercise their ofces while the
master was in charge of the treasury, but he could then dismiss or appoint them as he saw t.
Sarnowsky, Rights of the Treasury, 2704; AOM282, fos. 13r15r; 283, fos. 184v186v; 284,
fos. 22r25r, 57v66r; 285, esp. fos. 1r3v; 286, fos. 9v12v, etc.
Delaville, Rhodes, 136; Sarnowsky, Rights of the Treasury, 270; id., Macht und
Herrschaft, 331.
See e.g. AOM382, fos. 148v149v.
See e.g. AOM395, fo. 151r.
AOM369, fo. 198v; 393, fos. 112rv; 407, fos. 150v151r; 412, fos. 191rv, 197v198r.
LPFD, v, no. 999.
Administration and Finances 83

request of John Kendal in 1493, and Thomas Docwra importuned the order
both for the right to grant it on Yoltons resignation or death and for the
conrmation of this grant by chapter.105
The scribe of the treasury was in fact far more than a mere clerk. Both
Passemer and Yolton held property in the outer precinct of the priory, and
were described as gentlemen.106 Passemer was controller of the Petty Cus-
toms during the Readeption government of 14701, and was involved in
various nancial dealings on the orders behalf, while Yolton conducted the
negotiations over the procuration fees supposedly owed to the bishop of
Hereford from Garway, appearing before the archbishops court of Audience
in 15068.107 Bell spent a great deal of time shuttling forth between England
and the convent with letters of exchange and consignments of cloth, tin, and
silver.108 Mablestone and Yolton, as we have seen, advanced money to
preceptors leaving the country in return for leases of their estates.109
The most routine of the receivers business was the collection of respon-
sions, which were supposed to be paid on the feast of St John Baptist or in
provincial chapters. Although late payment was common, as the accounts of
152036 and admonitions to debtors in the Libri Bullarum demonstrate,
before 1530 English brethren were rarely in arrears for more than a year, and
those who did fall into debt were mostly newly appointed priors or pre-
ceptors struggling to complete their vacancy payments. More serious and
long-term debts arose in connection with estates in Ireland, Scotland, and
Wales, and in England after 1533. The priory of Ireland almost never
submitted responsions between 1466 and the 1490s and Robert Evers, the
prior appointed in 1497, paid only about half of his.110 Except for the rst
few years after John Rawson had gained denite control of the priory in
about 1520, payments from Ireland continued to be erratic until the dissol-
ution.111 Considerable debts owed to Evers from Slebech also had to be
written off after his death. In 1520 Sir John Wogan, Sir Gruffydd ap Rhys,
Sir Thomas Philip, and William Jones ap Thomas owed over 112 between
them for farms of the commandery, or portions thereof, held between 1507
and 1515. Although the vice-receiver, John Babington began proceedings
against them at the common law in about 1516, these had proved to
be drawn out and wasteful by 1520, and were dropped.112 With the
exception of the 20 owed by ap Thomas, which had been paid by August

AOM391, fos. 200rv; 405, fos. 130v131r; 406, fos. 158v159r.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 14v, 15r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 51v52r; Excavations, 133, 140, 143,
CPR146777, 168, 231; CCR147685, no. 546; Registrum Mayew, ed. Bannister, 20, 32.
AOM54, fos. 77r, 98v, 124v; 404, fos. 193v194r; LPFD, iv. 765, 9234.
See e.g. Claudius E.vi, fos. 4v5r, 6v7r, 16rv, 28rv, 44rv, 81v82r, 83rv, 98r99v, 238r,
264r265v; PRO LR2/62, fos. 1v2v.
AOM54, fo. 13v.
Ibid., fos. 174v175r, 208v, 226v227r, 244v245r, 267v268r, 286v287r.
Ibid., fos. 12v, 13v, 38v.
84 Administration and Finances

1524113 the debts were never recovered.114 The Scottish house of Torphi-
chen also fell into arrears after the exclusion of the legitimate preceptor,
George Dundas, from possession between 1510 and 1518. In accordance
with the orders statutes, which required incoming preceptors to pay the
debts of their predecessors, the proctors and auditors of the common treas-
ury insisted that Dundas satisfy the responsions for these years, only drop-
ping their demands in 1525. Rather spitefully, they also demanded that
Dundas pay the expenses of the servant sent to Scotland to negotiate this
The collection of the other levies due to the treasury called for rather more
activity. The receiver was responsible for collecting the rents and leasing the
estates of deceased brethren, for the payment of their servants and for the
defence of the lands and rights of the preceptory in the courts. Although this
was sometimes delegated to the proctor, the receiver was also supposed to go
to the preceptory in question and collect the deceaseds effects in company
with another brother or a notary.116 Inventories of these were to be drawn up
and witnessed by a notary. Responsions continued to be paid by the houses of
the deceased during their mortuary and vacancy years, and were extracted
from the total receipts and accounted for separately. The remainder of the
income, after expenses, was also reserved for the common treasury.
Out of the sums collected from these levies, the receiver was responsible
for the payment of long-standing pensions amounting to just over 35, his
own stipend (24) and those of the scribe and nuncio of the common
treasury.117 A further payment of 13s. 4d. was made to the priests celebrat-
ing the annual mass for the souls of confratres and benefactors of the order,
and a further shilling was given in oblations on the same occasion.118 More
occasional payments such as those for recovering Thomas Newports effects
after his ill-fated voyage to relieve Rhodes in 1522/3 might also be neces-
sary.119 Once these sums had been paid the receiver was bound to satisfy
letters of exchange drawn on the orders revenues in England and to send the
remainder to the convent. In fact the submission of monies to headquarters
was rather irregular and the receiver was often several thousand pounds in
arrears. The erratic nature of payments is illustrated in Table 3.4.
The great majority of these monies were submitted as letters of exchange
rather than as cash or goods. On 18 September 1532, for example, Clement
West paid the Genoese merchant Antonio Vivaldi 2,592 5s. 10d., which the
latter was to pay to the use of the common treasury in ducats on the
following 1 March, as appeared per chirographum et litteras excambii
quas idem Anthonius de dat presencium fecit.120 This was by far the largest

AOM54, fos. 37v38r, 61v62r, 116v117r.
Ibid., fos. 13v, 38v, 62v, 89v, 117v, 147v, 199v. 115
Ibid., fos. 148v149r, 151v.
Ibid., passim; Stabilimenta, De Thesauro, ix (Statute of Naillac).
e.g. AOM54, fo. 21v. 118
Ibid.; BL MS Nero E.vi, fos. 6rv.
AOM54, fos. 93v94r. 120
Ibid., fo. 186r.
Administration and Finances 85

Table 3.4. Receivers payments to convent, 1520156 (s. d.)

Year Receiptsa Payments Arrearsb

1520 1,858/10/11 688/14/6 2,992/14/5

1521 1,913/4/5 121/16/1 4,784/1/9
1522 1,362/9/234 6,212/19/8 Credit of 66/9/334
1523 1,870/1/1 261/4/1134 1,599/16/234
1524 1,517/4/11 2,079/17/0 1,037/4/2
1525 1,517/5/8 1,408/2/8 1,146/7/234
1526 1,655/18/3 1,236/19/2 1,565/6/334
1531 976/15/2 2,864/14/2 0
1532 1,601/13/534 1,610/7/3 91/6/2
1533 906/11/9 996/17/934 1/0/0
1534 2,550/15/5 2,201/17/5 348/18/1
1535 1,800/1/1 1,869/3/5 279/15/10
1536 1,137/8/1 1,167/6/8 249/17/334
Receipts have been calculated by subtracting the arrears of the previous years account from
the sum of receipts and arrears given in each year.
Arrears are those calculated by the ofcials of the common treasury in convent, which often
differed slightly from the sums suggested by the receiver as some of his payments might be
disallowed. Some of the discrepancies in the gures can be accounted for because of this.

payment accounted for in the turcopoliers accounts for 1531, although

201 0s. 13d. was paid to the London citizen Edward Browne for cloth
provided for the use of the common treasury.121 Similar patterns occur in
other years. The accounts for 1535 show Vivaldi and Francis Galliardetto
being paid over 1,900 in London in accordance with letters of exchange
under which they were obliged to pay similar sums in Messina for the use of
the convent.122 Unlike the situation which can be seen in many of the
mandates to receivers of the priory to satisfy letters of exchange recorded
in the Libri Bullarum of the Rhodian period, Vivaldi and Galliardetto had
not yet paid the convent the monies which they had promised it. They were
thus acting as factors carrying monies to the convent rather than as creditors
lending to it on the basis of repayment from its English revenues.
Although relatively substantial quantities of cloth and tin were shipped
from Southampton for the use of brethren at headquarters or in satisfaction
of responsions or vacancy payments,123 letters of exchange were the orders
preferred way of collecting money from England. Both exchange operations

PRO SP2/Q no. 32, fos. 135b/158b136b/159b.
CCR138992, 126; CPR146777, 506; CPR147585, 58; The Overseas Trade of Lon-
don. Exchequer Customs Accounts 14801, ed. H. S. Cobb, London Record Society, 27 (Bristol,
1990), 2827, 31415; AOM54, fos. 22v, 44v45r, 67v, 93r, 96r; LPFD, Addenda, no. 789;
A. Ruddock, London Capitalists and the Decline of Southampton in the Early Tudor Period,
Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 2 (1949), 13751, at 142.
86 Administration and Finances

and commodity shipments were usually conducted through Venice or using

Venetian shipping rather than through Avignon, where the orders receiver-
general in the west had his headquarters.124 In 1503 it was ordered that all
responsions and other dues of the common treasury should be submitted to
the receiver of Venice, Andrea Martini.125 Although the Hospital undoubt-
edly lost considerable sums by its reliance on exchange operations, it was at
least able to anticipate the issues of its British estates by this device, and as
exchanges were taxed at a penny a ducat in England, the crown made a small
prot on the transactions too.126
Both the mechanisms by which the estates of the priory of England were
administered and defended, and the evidence for its dispatch of substantial
sums to its Mediterranean convent, indicate that its brethren took their
duties to maintain the orders property and to support the struggle in the
east seriously. Particularly telling is the dispatch of more than 6,000 over-
seas in 1522, after news that Rhodes was under siege had reached England.
Yet the activities of unprofessed ofcials, tenants, confratres, donors, and
merchants were clearly indispensable to its success, or otherwise, in admin-
istering its properties and supporting the convent. The next chapter will
consider the orders relationship with these persons in more depth.
Responsions or other dues were being sent or ordered to be via Venice or on Venetian
shipping in 1389, 1391, 1395, 1409, 1427, 14425, 1459, 1493, 15034, 15056, and 1521.
Tipton, English Hospitallers, 1201; Luttrell, English Contributions, 166; SJG, Butler Papers
(citing AOM347, fo. 217v); AOM356, fos. 182r183r; 357, 198v199r, 201v202r; Sarnowsky,
Macht und Herrschaft, 333; AOM391, fos. 199v; 394, fo. 226r; Mueller, Venetian Money
Market, 347; AOM54, fo. 52r. A Florentine merchant was used to send money by exchange
in the 1440s, and Genoese shipping to transport cloth to Rhodes in the mid1450s. AOM357,
fos. 198v199r; 367, fo. 152v.
AOM394, fos. 177r178r.
e.g. AOM54, fo. 222v.

The Hospital and Society in

England and Wales

Christs College, Cambridge, has the laudable custom of inviting graduate

students, in rotation, to dinner with members of the Fellowship. At one such
gathering I attended those present included Sir John Plumb, the notable
eighteenth-century historian, who came to sit next to me when the Fellows
changed places after dessert. Having asked what I was studying he followed
up with one of the brisk but pertinent questions which were his trademark:
Werent they all decadent by then?
This characterization of the late medieval Hospitallers might still nd
some takers. It was not, perhaps, based solely on a desire to provoke, but
it was characteristic of a British view of the crusades and of the military
orders shaped by those, such as Hume, Gibbon, and Runciman, who wrote
within an enlightened and broadly Whiggish tradition which saw history as
an uneven progress towards a secular society freed from the mental and
physical shackles imposed by the medieval Church.1 In essence, they con-
tended that the crusades were exercises in folly, barbarism, and cupidity
directed by fanatics and perpetrated by unlettered thugs considerably infer-
ior to the cultured sybarites they assaulted. In a specically English context,
historians tended to play down the signicance of crusading to illustrate the
habitual resistance of their homeland to the dangerous currents of fanati-
cism perpetually springing anew from the continental waters where they
originated. Although remaining popular with an educated public highly
suspicious of religious fundamentalism, such views are now given little
credence in academic circles. Recent works by Simon Lloyd and Christopher
Tyerman have demonstrated that crusading was a thoroughly respectable
and carefully planned activity sponsored and organized by the English
crown and Church and supported and participated in by wide sections of
English society.2 Steamrollering the objections of Terry Jones, Anthony
Luttrell and Maurice Keen have convincingly extended the era of active
and convinced English participation in crusading into the late fourteenth

Discussed in Tyerman, England, 56; id., The Invention of the Crusades (Basingstoke,
1998), 11113, 1245.
S. Lloyd, English Society and the Crusade, 12161307 (Oxford, 1988); Tyerman, England.
88 The Hospital and Society

century, while Drs Tyerman and Macquarrie have pointed out that small
numbers of English, Welsh, and Scots volunteers continued to serve in Spain
and the east in the fteenth.3 As late as 1511 a considerable force of English
crusaders was dispatched to assist a projected Spanish campaign in north
Africa. If this expedition showed itself more concerned to grapple with the
bottle than with the indel, later in the century gentlemen volunteers from
Britain and Ireland took part with apparent sobriety in the defences of
Rhodes in 1522 and Malta in 1565, the assault on Tunis in 1535, and the
Portuguese crusade in north Africa in 1578.4 Crusading resonances, along
with an active knight errantry, can even be found in the autobiographies of
Elizabethan and Jacobean adventurers like Captain John Smith, who was
captured by the Turks in 1602 while ghting alongside Habsburg soldiers in
Well into the sixteenth century, moreover, crusading rhetoric remained
important in diplomatic exchanges, and the public was kept aware of events
on the front lines of Christendom through preaching, the publication of
indulgences and newsletters, the money-raising tours of Greek refugees, the
reports of pilgrims returned from the Holy Land, and the continued appear-
ance of Moors and Turks as stock villains in romances and plays.6 If some
despaired of the Holy Land ever being recovered, prophecies, romances, and
newly printed editions and translations of histories of the early crusades
encouraged optimism in many others.7 Nevertheless, even those writers who
have located crusading rmly within the mainstream of the religious, cultural,
and political development of the British Isles have admitted that active par-
ticipation in crusading was becoming an increasingly marginal feature of lay
devotional activity even in the fteenth century.8 Such a gulf between senti-
ment and action was not unique to this region, but it nevertheless requires
explanation in a British context. If there was such a healthy interest in the
defence of Christendom why did numbers of British crusaders decline?

T. Jones, Chaucers Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary, 2nd edn. (London,
1994); M. Keen, Chaucers Knight, the English Aristocracy and the Crusade, in his Nobles,
Knights and Men-at-Arms (London, 1996), 10120; A. T. Luttrell, Chaucers Knight and the
Mediterranean, Library of Mediterranean History, 1 (1994), 12760; A. Macquarrie, Scotland
and the Crusades 10951560 (Edinburgh, 1985), 935, 106; Tyerman, England, 278, 3079.
See also D. Ditchburn, Scotland and Europe: The Medieval Kingdom and its Contacts with
Christendom, c.12151545, i: Religion, Culture and Commerce (East Linton, 2000), 689.
Tyerman, England, 3523; Bradford, Great Siege, 151; LPFD, ix, nos. 459, 490; see below,
Ch. 8.3.
J. R. Goodman, Chivalry and Exploration, 12981630 (Woodbridge, 1998), 198207.
Tyerman, England, 3502, 3046, 30819, 31213, 2878, 296; Lunt, Financial Relations,
ii, passim; J. Harris, Greek Emigres in the West 14001520 (Camberley, 1995), passim; R. N.
Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c.1215c.1515 (Cambridge, 1995), 70.
Tyerman, England, 302, 281, 3036, 347; L. A. Coote, Prophecy and Public Affairs in
Later Medieval England (York, 2000), passim.
Tyerman, England, 2656, 288, 302, 324. Macquarries chapters on Scottish involvement
in crusading after 1410 are entitled The Long Decline and Castles in the Air. Macquarrie,
Scotland and the Crusades, 92121.
The Hospital and Society 89

First it must be admitted that for most of the fteenth century crusading
opportunities were rather limited. The main theatres of anglophone partici-
pation in the previous century had been Spain, north Africa, and the Baltic
region.9 The crusade in the Baltic, however, effectively ended for the English,
Scots, and French with the Teutonic knights calamitous defeat at Tannen-
berg in 1410 and the belated realization in the west that the latest Lithuanian
conversion to Christianity was genuine.10 The Spanish front was dormant
rather than moribund and would revive in 1482, as to some extent would the
participation in crusading there of those born in the British Isles, but British
crusading in the Peninsula had always been rather sporadic.11 A third area in
which there had been some fourteenth-century British involvement was the
eastern Mediterranean.12 Crusading warfare here was largely waged by sea,
and continued to be so in the fteenth and later centuries, but while a few
English, Welsh, and Scots crusaders and mercenaries fought in the Balkans
and Asia Minor during the fteenth century, there is little evidence of
British participation in naval crusading operations save for limited involve-
ment in the Burgundian expeditions of 14434 and 14634 and the service
of some stipendiary soldiers and volunteers with the Hospitallers.13 Besides
the difculties posed by distance and the expense of ghting in the eastern
Mediterranean, the reasons for this failure may include unfamiliarity with
galley warfare and Levantine waters and the fact that such expeditions were
not always well publicized in north-western Europe. It is also surely signi-
cant that the partly English mercenary companies operating in Italy that had
contributed so many men to the campaigns of the 1360s had largely
been replaced by native condottieri by the fteenth century, and so were
no longer on the spot when crusading expeditions set out from the penin-
sula.14 Most important of all, crusading energies were increasingly directed
elsewhere, into royal service. From the thirteenth century onwards, but
particularly during the Hundred Years War and later, kings claimed an
enhanced authority over their leading subjects, forcing them to advantage
patriotic over confessional military activity. Although lesser lights made
their way to the east in small numbers well into the fteenth century,
magnates and knights were more or less compelled to organize their crusad-
ing activities during lulls in the ghting such as occurred in the 1360s and

Ditchburn, Religion, Culture and Commerce, 6971, 95; Macquarrie, Scotland and the
Crusades, 759, 848; Tyerman, England, 26780.
Tyerman, England, 2656, 271.
Ditchburn, Religion, Culture and Commerce, 68; Macquarrie, Scotland and the Crusades,
106; Tyerman, England, 308, 3512.
See n. 3 above.
Macquarrie, Scotland and the Crusades, 95; Tyerman, England, 304, 308; AOM79,
fo. 11v; 364, fo. 175r; 366, fos. 119v, 174v; 367, fos. 118v, 201v, 215v, 382, fo. 138rv; 387,
fo. 202r; 395, fo. 196r.
Tyerman, England, 2912; M. Mallett, Mercenaries in M. Keen (ed.), Medieval Warfare:
A History (Oxford, 1999), 20929, at 219, 221.
90 The Hospital and Society

1390s.15 Even after the end of the war, strained foreign relations and
domestic dynastic conicts continued to leave the government unenthusias-
tic about crusading schemes, or the participation of its subjects in them.
Only at the very end of the fteenth century was there a sustained revival of
royal interest.16 Nevertheless, even in mid-century, writers as diverse as
George Neville, Sir John Fortescue, and the alchemist George Ripley were
all keen to promote crusading as a way to heal the divisions in society and
launch it on a common and glorious enterprise.17 Thereafter such arguments
were taken up with especial force by Caxton, whose publications included
John Kayes account of the 1480 siege of Rhodes and several older texts with
a crusading or chivalric theme, and who took care to stress the relevance of
these as a spur to contemporary action.18 Anti-clericalism was certainly no
bar to crusading plans: the possibly noble author(s) of a 1529 scheme
arguing for the partial disendowment of the English Church proposed to
devote the proceeds to war against the Turks while shortly afterwards the
lawyer Christopher St Germain incorporated a call for a crusade in his
radical reformist tract, Salem and Bizance.19
One way in which both crown and society should have been able to
support devotional violence was by assisting the order of St John, which
maintained a small body of British and Irish brethren in the eastern Medi-
terranean. But the ability of its English langue to meet these aspirations has
never been examined in any depth. If the long-established opinion that the
crusades were of only marginal signicance in the medieval political and
social history of the British Isles has been largely overturned, the view that
the British knights of St John were decadent in the fteenth century has
remained largely unassailed. To Gibbons dictum that the Military Orders
neglected to live, but were prepared to die, in the service of Christ20 can be
added, in a specically British context, the charge that in the fteenth and
sixteenth centuries the Hospitals houses were little more than rent-collect-
ing agencies, their estates leased out to provide a comfortable life for their
few remaining brethren.21 There have certainly been writers who have
challenged this view, mostly by emphasizing the orders military exploits in
the Mediterranean, but few of them have been professional historians and

Tyerman, England, 266, 2689, 284, 3089.
Ibid. 3503.
J. Hughes, Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV (Stroud, 2002),
1989, 202.
Tyerman, England, 3046, 347.
R. W. Hoyle, The Origins of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Historical Journal, 38
(1995), 275305, at 285, 3034; J. Guy, Thomas More and Christopher St German: The Battle
of the Books, in A. Fox and J. A. Guy (eds.), Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism,
Politics and Reform 15001550 (Oxford, 1986), 95120, at 978.
Cited in M. Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Cam-
bridge, 1994), 316.
DNB, xl. 360 (William Archbolds biography of Thomas Newport [d.1523]).
The Hospital and Society 91

their opinions have had little inuence on academic perceptions of the

order. Scholars such as David Knowles and Claire Cross have appeared
more comfortable with the monastic and mendicant orders than with the
military, both maintaining an almost complete silence on the subject.22 In
discussions of the dissolution of the monasteries, the order is largely ignored,
some scholars appearing to be completely unaware of its existence.23 Rob-
erta Gilchrist, who has examined the archaeology of the military orders in
the British Isles in some detail, has nevertheless minimized the signicance
of the Hospitals activities after 1291, suggesting that the order never recov-
ered the prosperity it had enjoyed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.24
Moreover, Knowless depiction of late medieval monasticism was generally
unenthusiastic, and recently some scholars have gone further than he in
presenting a picture of religious houses as unfashionable institutions under
assault by both the laity and secular churchmen, who attempted to refashion
them into chantries and educational or charitable facilities in line with
more utilitarian conceptions of their role and functions. Those institutions
which could not be proved to be useful might be suppressed, particularly if
their founders had no living descendants,25 while even larger monasteries
which escaped such conversion were increasingly subject to lay takeover of
their outlying estates and of monastic ofces. At its boldest, such writing
suggests that all the older-established religious orders were suffering from
the same malaise, compounded of lack of zeal, lack of relevance, and
laicization, and comes close to claiming that the laity had lost sympathy
with monasticism to such an extent that those holding monastic leases
and ofces were only waiting for their moment to turn possession into
legal title.26
Yet this line of argument has rarely been extended to cover those forms of
religious community which exercised an active ministry among the laity,
such as friaries. The evidence suggests that these enjoyed substantial, if

Knowles, Religious Orders; C. Cross, Monasticism and Society in the Diocese of York,
15201540, TRHS, 5th ser., 38 (1988), 13145; ead., The Dissolution of the Monasteries and
the Yorkshire Church in the Sixteenth Century, in A. J. Pollard (ed.), Government, Religion and
Society in Northern England 10001700 (Stroud, 1997), 15971.
Cross, for example, includes friaries but not Hospitaller preceptories among the religious
houses she lists as dissolved, her assertion that monasticism in Yorkshire was at an end by
January 1540 suggesting indifference towards both the order and those hospitals which main-
tained a regular regime thereafter. J. H. Bettey not only ignores the orders west country
preceptories but also transforms its nunnery at Buckland into a house of Augustinian canon-
esses. Joyce Youings mentions the hospitals inclusion in the 1534 proposals to disendow the
church and the date of its dissolution, but does not go much beyond this. Cross, Dissolution,
159, 163; Bettey, Suppression, 142; Youings, Dissolution, 34, 146, 90.
Gilchrist, Contemplation, 62105, 68.
S. D. Phillips, The Recycling of Monastic Wealth in Medieval Southern England, 1300
1530, Southern History, 22 (2000), 4571; B. J. Thompson, Monasteries and their Patrons at
Foundation and Dissolution, TRHS, 6th ser., 4 (1994), 10325, at 11417; id., Laity, esp. 30,
345, 3941; Hoyle, Origins, 2767, 2813.
Phillips, Recycling, 68; Thompson, Monasteries, 1223.
92 The Hospital and Society

hardly universal, lay support.27 Nor have critics of late medieval monasti-
cism paid much attention to the contrary evidence of vitality provided by the
Bridgettines and Carthusians,28 or given credit to the continuing attraction
of the larger and older houses for some of the laity, their major role in
charitable and chantry provision, and their vigorous justication of their
activities.29 Despite these caveats, however, it is clear that there were strong
external pressures both on religious houses and their estates in the later
Middle Ages, and that smaller and poorer houses were particularly affected
by these. Most vulnerable of all to lay takeover were those alien priories
owing allegiance to an overseas mother-house, especially those among them
which were poor, not fully conventual, or whose heads were not formally
On the face of it, the order of St John might appear to have been vulner-
able to a similar remodelling of its houses. Its fourteenth-century masters
were overwhelmingly French speakers, its receivers-general based in Avi-
gnon, and its English, Welsh, and Irish houses barely conventual in 1338,
and mostly reduced to maintaining a single lay preceptor a century later.
Many of them also had incomes sufciently low to be considered unviable as
religious communities according to the criteria laid down by parliament.
After 1312, moreover, several of the families which had endowed the Temp-
lars demanded that their endowments be restored to them rather than pass to
the Hospital, and mounted physical and legal challenges even after the latter
had gained possession. Nonetheless, once legally acquired, the order man-
aged to avoid surrendering any of its estates permanently, save by exchange,
and its amalgamations of houses, while resulting in occupancy by lay farm-
ers, appear to have been encouraged by economic considerations and con-
ventual policy rather than lay pressure.31 Partly the Hospitals defence of its
possessions was successful because all its houses were considered to be
legally incorporated under its head,32 who was thus enabled to throw the
whole weight of its resources behind their defence, just as the great cath-
edral-monasteries were able to do with their dependent cells and granges.
The fact that the order was under direct papal protection also probably
helped it to escape the conversion of its houses into schools and hospitals by
the episcopate. Still more signicant was the support of the crown, which

Cross, Monasticism and Society, esp. 132, 1356, 1401.
An exception is Phillips, Recycling, 589.
Cross, Monasticism and Society, passim; J. Hughes, Pastors and Visionaries: Religion
and Secular Life in Late Medieval Yorkshire (Woodbridge, 1988), 489, 715; J. G. Clark,
Selling the Holy Places: Monastic Efforts to Win back the People in Fifteenth-Century Eng-
land, in T. Thornton (ed.), Social Attitudes and Political Structures in the Fifteenth Century
(Stroud, 2000), 1332.
Thompson, Laity, passim.
See above, 63.
A point made explicit in fourteenth-century licences to priors to appoint attorneys, and
elsewhere. CPR, passim; AOM54, fo. 38v.
The Hospital and Society 93

was usually willing to conrm the orders privileges and which protected its
estates, customary rights, and dispatch of responsions from rebels, tenants,
and the commons in parliament during difcult times such as the last quarter
of the fourteenth century. In any case, Hospitaller military brethren had
always been laymen, and knight-brethren had dominated the order since the
mid-thirteenth century, so that the order had always been, in a sense,
laicized. Nor, although its members were accused of arrogance and luxuri-
ous living on occasion, does the Hospital appear to have been as vulnerable
to imputations of inaction, redundancy, or evil living as many other orders
were. Was this because the order managed to meet the expectations of a
military class whose aspirations it embodied, or was it simply because the
order and its abuses were not as visible as those of larger and better-known
These questions are difcult to answer for the period after 1400. As a
corporation, the order of St John was virtually ignored by fteenth- and
early sixteenth-century writers and chroniclers. Dramatic events involving
Hospitallers, such as prior John Langstrothers execution after the battle of
Tewkesbury and prior Thomas FitzGeralds proposed duel with the earl of
Ormond, were sometimes noticed, but few conclusions were drawn from
them about either the characters of those involved or the nature of their
order.33 The Hospitals activities in the east, similarly, went virtually unre-
marked. A parliamentary petition demanding the Genoese be treated as
enemies of Christendom for assisting the Mamluks in attacking Rhodes in
1442 was probably motivated by hostility to Italian merchants rather than
crusading zeal34 and even the siege of 1480 provoked notice only in a
solitary chronicle, although the curmudgeonly Thomas Gascoigne, who
followed the confessional struggle in the Balkans with some interest, was
aware of both the Hospitals military and charitable responsibilities, and
concerned to make sure that its brethren continued to resist those pagans
who wished to enter Christian territories.35 In part the general lack of
comment can be attributed to the English priorys inability to produce a
history of the 1480 siege drawing attention to the deeds of its own members,
a failing not repeated in the wake of the siege of 1522. Once Rhodes had
fallen, however, writers such as Thomas More showed an increased aware-
ness of its former value to the hole corps of Cristendome.36

An exception is Robert Bales chronicle, which makes three allusions to the orders
unpopularity in mid-fteenth-century London. Six Town Chronicles of England, ed. R. Flenley
(Oxford, 1911), 11819, 140 1.
Rot. Parl., v. 61; J. L. Bolton, Alien Merchants in England in the Reign of Henry
VI, unpublished B.Litt. thesis, University of Oxford (1971), 7981 and passim.
Six Town Chronicles, ed. Flenley, 86, 185; T. Gascoigne, Loci e libro veritatum, ed. J. E.
Thorold-Rogers (Oxford, 1881), 2.
John Kayes English translation of Caoursins history was written in Italy, and members of
the English langue do not appear to have been consulted in its preparation. T. M. Vann, John
Kay, the Dread Turk and the Siege of Rhodes, forthcoming in W. Zajac (ed.), The Military
94 The Hospital and Society

Other evidence by which one might gauge the orders popularity or

otherwise is not entirely lacking, but needs to be used with care. Wills
perhaps present the most unambiguous picture, showing that the Hospital,
with the partial exception of the nunnery at Buckland, was not a particularly
attractive repository for bequests,37 although a few substantial donations
were made, usually in conjunction with the provision of obits or chantries.38
By contrast, the plenary indulgences granted the order by the papacy were
taken up with enthusiasm and produced fairly substantial returns.39 Such
material, however, does not provide unchallengeable evidence of the orders
popularity or that of its mission. Indulgences were generally popular in late
medieval England, plenary indulgences especially so, and although those
connected with the defence of the faith may have been seen as particularly
worthwhile, this cannot be proved and clerical commentators, at least, were
concerned by the abuses which followed from the grants of indulgences to
the Hospital in 1445 and 1454.40 Echoing clerical complaints from the
1360s and 1370s, the Lollard John Purvey even accused the orders quaes-
tors of forbidding masses and preaching until they had announced the
orders papally derived privileges and elicited alms.41
When considering the most usual manner in which the laity supported the
order, by becoming confratres and consorores, still greater discrimination is
needed. It is impossible to say whether many confratres vowed their goods
or bodies to the order and were formally received in local chapters, as had
been the case during the orders early history, but it seems unlikely.42 Most
seem rather to have purchased letters of confraternity from the orders
agents, known as nuncios or frary clerks, to whom the collection of the
confraria was leased in courses, and to have then been bound, like more
formally admitted confratres, to contribute annually to the order. Some of
those who acquired such letters are also known to have been members of
other, similar associations, which suggests that the Hospitals confraternity,
while successful, was only one among a number of competing good
causes.43 As we have seen, confraria payments certainly contributed a

Orders, iii: History and Heritage; T. More, A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, ed.
L. L. Martz and F. Manley, The Complete Works of St Thomas More (New Haven, 1963), xii. 8.
I have based this conclusion mainly on printed material and those wills (of associates of the
order) I have consulted on microlm. See also Excavations, 91.
BL MS Cotton Nero E.vi, fos. 4rv, 4v5r, 5v6v; AOM406, fo. 189v; B. G. Charles, The
Records of Slebech, National Library of Wales Journal, 5 (19478), 17989, at 183; AOM 406,
fo. 189v.
See above, Ch. 3.1.
Gascoigne, Loci, 1256; Six Town Chronicles, ed. Flenley, 141. The author of the Gough
London 10 chronicle, by contrast, commented on the popularity of the 1454 indulgence,
although without linking it to the order. Six Town Chronicles, ed. Flenley, 158.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 559.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 2434.
e.g. R. N. Swanson, Letters of Confraternity and Indulgence in Late Medieval England,
Archives, 25 (2000), 4057, at 478.
The Hospital and Society 95

large proportion of the orders income in England, probably exceeding 700

in the early sixteenth century, and as many payments were small it is likely
that some thousands of persons contributed annually.44 So what motivated
them to do so? Like those of other military orders, the orders representatives
were permitted to visit parish churches once a year to solicit alms,45 an
activity difcult to distinguish from the recruitment of confratres in this
period. When doing so they appear to have drawn attention to two areas: the
Hospitals continued efforts on behalf of the faith, and the indulgences
attached to confraternity. A proclamation produced by the order in English
in the fteenth century stressed the readiness of brethren to spende ther
blode and lyf ayenst turks sarazins and other Indelis and claimed that the
Hospitals defence and augmentation of cristen faith at Rhodes was a gret
cause to moue all cristen people to help the sayd noble religion and knyghtes
of throdys by becoming bredern and sustern of the frary of Saint John and
giving ther subsidie thereto ones in the yere as is accustumed. In return,
prayers would be offered up for them in all the orders churches around the
world and the gret Indulgence and pardon granted to confratres by various
popes, and summarized in the text, would be made available to them. Priests
were especially encouraged to exhort their parishioners to become confra-
tres.46 A similar document, designed to be read out by the orders proctor in
church, and datable to the mid-fteenth century, ignores the orders military
role and instead lays exclusive stress on the papally derived privileges
granted to confratres.47
As these sources imply, and as Prior Philip de Thame pointed out in 1338
when justifying a fall in contributions, gifts in return for confraternity were
technically voluntary, but other evidence suggests that the confraria also
comprised numerous xed annual payments owed by particular properties
or families48 which had presumably been donated in perpetuity by previous
holders or ancestors. Sometimes distraint might even be used to secure
payment: a sixteenth-century account of the second course of the confraria
in Essex stipulated that if the vicar of Boreham failed to pay 40 shillings to
the frary clerk for his dewtie the latter might go to Dunmow priory and
take the chalice, mass book, or any other ornament in recompense.49 Many
contributors, moreover, must have been motivated to become confratres as
much to claim the privileges which association with the order might bring in

See above, Table 3.1 and Ch. 3.1.
Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, 3768; A. Forey, The Military Order of St Thomas of
Acre, Military Orders and Crusades, art. xii, 481503, at 491; D. Marcombe, Leper Knights:
The Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem in England, c.11501544 (Woodbridge, 2003), 180.
BL Sloane Ch. xxxii, 15.
Ibid., 27. For the use of similar sales techniques during the reign of Henry VIII, see Lunt,
Financial Relations, ii. 494.
Report, 4; Rees, Wales, 224; Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson Essex 11, fos. 9r15r;
Cartulary of Buckland Priory, ed. Weaver, nos. 91, 94, 968; Secunda Camera, p. lxvi.
Rawlinson Essex 11, fo. 9r. Cf. Rees, Wales, 24.
96 The Hospital and Society

this world as to enjoy its more enduring spiritual benets. In return for gifts
to the Hospital, and sometimes with its active encouragement, property-
holders put up its cross on their dwellings and claimed to be its tenants,
seeking access to some of the considerable spiritual and temporal exemp-
tions to which they might thus be entitled.50 These included freedom from
all aids and tallages, pontage and pavage, army service and defensive works
pertaining to castles and towns, and freedom from amercement in the royal
courts.51 In 1284 tenants of other lords afliated to the Hospital in Wales in
this way were liable for only half the customary payments of their fellows
elsewhere, while in 1381 a trader from Ludlow staying in Staunton claimed
to be free of scot and lot because he paid 13d. per annum to be a Hospitaller
confrater.52 From very early days, however, the crown and other authorities
were concerned to limit the persons and properties enjoying the rights of
confraternity or tenure with the Hospital. These might be limited to a
particular area or a few properties in any particular city or township,53
and in any case to those who held from the order as their superior lord.
Bondsmen of other lords needed the permission of their superior to become
confratres, and some superiors were prepared to remove its cross from the
houses of tenants they claimed as their own.54 By a statute of Edward Is
reign the crown ordered the seizure of any property on which Hospitaller or
Templar crosses had been erected illegally, and this measure was still being
enforced in the fteenth century. A Warwickshire man who put the Hos-
pitals cross up over his dwelling at Balsall without authorization had his
house conscated in the reign of Henry V, while in the early 1490s a pasture
which had been similarly adorned in Suffolk was also seized until it could be
proved that the tenant held of the order.55
Hard though the Hospital tried to raise awareness of the struggle in the
east, it is also the case that many seem to have identied the order as a whole
with its frary clerks and their activities rather than with the distant adven-
tures of its few dozen military brethren. By the early fteenth century,
indeed, the order was popularly known as the frary.56 This is not entirely
surprising. The annual visit of the Hospitals nuncios or frary clerks, clad in

Cartulary of Buckland Priory, no. 94; VCH, Lancashire, iii. 120; The Register of Edward
the Black Prince Preserved in the Public Record Ofce, 4 vols. (London, 19303), iv. 17980.
Tenants of the Hospital who failed to erect a double crosse on their properties could be ned in
its courts. The Testamentary Documents of Yorkshire Peculiars, ed. E. W. Crossley, YASRS 74,
Miscellanea, 2 (1929), 4686, at 67. At least some tenants also wore crosses on their caps. VCH,
Shropshire, ii. 87.
Rees, Wales, 11; Secunda Camera, p. lxxvii.
Rees, Wales, 24, 23.
CDI, ii, 125284, no. 120; Chartularies of St Marys Abbey, Dublin, ed. J. T. Gilbert, 2
vols., RS (London, 1884), i. 269; Borough Customs, ed. M. Bateson, vol. ii (London, 1906),
204; Black Princes Register, i. 48.
Rees, Wales, 24; Secunda Camera, p. lv.
Statutes, i. 87; CFR142230, 46; CCR14851500, no. 690.
Pugh, Undertakers, 56674, at 569.
The Hospital and Society 97

its livery and perhaps accompanied by pardon crosses, must have been a
notable feature of the liturgical year. Its provision of burial for executed
felons and the excommunicate was still more memorable, its priests, clerks,
or agents waiting below the scaffolds of the condemned with a frary cart
draped in a black cloth bearing the orders eight-pointed cross.57 In com-
parison Hospitaller military brethren must by the fteenth century have
been a relatively rare sight outside the immediate localities of their estates
and of the court. But if many were only partially aware of the orders wider
activities, at least some of those who became confratres must have been
inspired by its achievements in the east, perhaps related to them by Hospi-
taller brethren whom they knew. Among those admitted into confraternity
with the order were James Butler, earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and several
Somerset gentlemen in 1458, the earls of Derby and Somerset in 1517, the
Willoughbys of Nottinghamshire in 1522, and possibly the duke of Norfolk
before 1481.58 Some of these persons received formal grants of confraternity
on the lines of that usual in the thirteenth century, and registered by the
orders chancery on Rhodes.59 The grants made in 1458 and 1517 appear to
have been prompted by personal ties between leading Hospitallers and the
recipients. William Dawney, the preceptor of the Somerset house of Tem-
plecombe and a man with ties to the Lancastrian government, encouraged
Butler and the other west country landowners to become confratres, while
Somerset had served on diplomatic commissions with Thomas Docwra
before 1517. Such associations might be formed at court or in the counties,
but they might also be linked to travel in the Levant. Several of those
Lancastrian notables who apparently contributed to the construction of
the Hospitaller castle of St Peter at Bodrum had enjoyed the orders hospi-
tality in Rhodes.60 Even though the number of prominent personages trav-
elling to the Holy Land via Rhodes appears to have fallen after the onset of
the Veneto-Ottoman war of 146379, the kindness of the English Hospital-
lers in caring for pilgrims was commented on in print in 1511 and 1517.61
Longer-lasting personal ties lay behind the decision of many of the orders
leading servants and associates to seek burial in its houses. Only privileged
or trusted associates appear to have been buried within these precincts,
however.62 Othersconfratres, others who had given alms to the order,
and executed felonswere often interred by the orders ofcers in outside

Stow, Survey, ii. 81; Pugh, Undertakers, passim.
AOM367, fo. 118r; The Household Books of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, 146271,
14811483, 2 vols. (Roxburghe Club, 18414, repr. with an introduction by A. Crawford,
Stroud, 1992), ii. 22; AOM406, fos. 155rv, 156r; Swanson, Letters, 47.
AOM367, fo. 118r; 406, fos. 155rv, 156r.
Luttrell, English Contributions, passim.
See below, 289.
For burials in the priory church see Stow, Survey, ii. 85; Excavations, 55, 91. These may,
however, have been lower status burials outside the priory church but within the inner precinct
of the priory. Excavations, 1846.
98 The Hospital and Society

repositories such as the churchyard of Holy Innocents in Lincoln or the

specially purchased pardon churchyard in Islington.63
Thus, just as the Hospitals confraternity was bound up with its relation-
ship with its tenants, so too it was closely tied to its administration of a
network of peculiars extending over most areas of the British Isles. Its
appropriated churches were generally subject to episcopal oversight, but
its preceptories and their dependent chapels were not, and tenants of the
Hospital wherever located had certain exemptions from ecclesiastical sanc-
tions. At least in theory, the orders chapels provided spiritual services chiey
to its brethren, their household servants, and the tenants of their dependent
manors, but in practice these were extended to a great many other persons,
as repeated clerical complaints make clear. Besides its burial of executed
felons,64 a practice which appears to have been generally accepted by the
fteenth century, the order also, and more controversially, saw t to extend
confession, marriage, and burial not only to confratres and tenants, but even
to those with no previous connection to the order or outside the Church. Its
sanction for doing so appears to have been an argument that those papal
privileges allowing it to offer spiritual services to its confratres might be
extended to any who provided alms.65 Such activities both undermined the
authority of the clergy over their parishioners and hit them in the pocket,
which naturally prompted complaints. Thus, in 1460, convocation objected
to the orders usurpation of the administration of the Eucharist and matri-
mony from other ordinaries and attacked its practice of burying excommu-
nicates and suicides, while in 1489 the same body complained not only that
marriages had been solemnized in the orders chapels without banns but that
its chaplains were pretending the right to absolve persons excommunicated
by their ordinary.66 Marriages made without the consent of parish priests
were a particular bone of contention. Sometime before 1530, for instance, a
wedding was conducted in the Hospitaller chapel at Temple Grafton in
Warwickshire without the licence of the couples parish priest or the publi-
cation of any banns or dispensation and despite letters inhibitorial issued by
the archbishop of Canterbury. When the case went to the Rota the marriage
was nevertheless upheld, although it was later ruled invalid in England when
the brides previous promise to marry someone else caught up with her.67
Sometimes the secular clergy got the better of these exchanges, as in 1519,
when the chaplain of Dingley was forced to sue the bishop of Lincoln for
absolution from excommunication incurred by his marrying two couples
without the publication of banns.68 Yet the orders marriage of members of

Pugh, Undertakers, passim.
Ibid. 572.
Ibid. 5701; Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 494.
Concilia, ed. Wilkins, iii. 57780; Register Morton, ed. Harper-Bill, i, no. 107.
LPFD, iv, no. 6127.
Episcopal Court Book, ed. Bowker, 11213.
The Hospital and Society 99

other parishes was so common that in 1529 convocation prohibited such

ceremonies save by licence of the ordinary and under pain of the excommu-
nication of those who acted otherwise. Further complaints about abuses in
the orders chapels were presented to the same assembly in March 1531.69
Extra-parochial chapels were not only attractive to the laity because of the
orders practice of asking no questions. Often they were a convenient place
of spiritual recourse to those who lived miles from the nearest parish church.
In 1439 the bishop of Exeter was in dispute with the order over its chapel at
Templeton in Devon, where it had recently brought in a friar-bishop to
consecrate the church and cemetery and started offering baptisms and
burials in deance of the rights of the parish church of Witheridge. Despite
his efforts, Templeton had achieved parochial status by 1535.70
Other clerical grievances against the order concerned its occasional failure
to maintain the chancels of its appropriated churches, to remunerate its
vicars adequately, or to pay procurations. The laity might also sometimes
accuse it of failing to maintain chantries in its churches and chapels. Al-
though neither was unknown in England,71 the order was more frequently
accused of neglecting its responsibilities to buildings and vicars in Ireland,
where the archbishops of Armagh sequestrated the fruits of Hospitaller
beneces in their archdiocese on several occasions in the fteenth century
as a result.72 Disputes over tithes and procurations, and whether they were
owed by particular churches, also cropped up from time to time both in
mainland Britain and in Ireland.73 The best documented is the orders long-
running spat with successive bishops of Hereford over the former Templar
church of Garway. At some stage during his episcopacy (147492), Thomas
Milling had had difculty securing these, and after his death the archbishop
of Canterburys vicar in spiritualities had begun legal action against the
order before John Kendal had agreed to pay up.74 In c.1501, during Thomas

Concilia, ed. Wilkins, iii. 724, 726.
N. Orme, Church and Chapel in Medieval England, TRHS, 6th ser., 6 (1996), 75102,
at 93.
M. Bowker, The Secular Clergy in the Diocese of Lincoln, 14951520 (Cambridge, 1968),
135, notes that the order was accused of dilapidating ve churches in the diocese in early
sixteenth-century diocesan visitations.
A Calendar of the Register of Archbishop Fleming, ed. H. J. Lawlor, PRIA 30 (191213),
C, 94190, at 153; The Register of John Swayne Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland
14181439, ed. D. A. Chart (Belfast, 1935), 11819; Registrum Johannis Mey: The Register of
John Mey Archbishop of Armagh, 14431456, ed. W. G. H. Quigley and E. F. D. Roberts
(Belfast, 1972), 2545; Registrum Octaviani, alias Liber Niger: The Register of Octavian de
Palatio Archbishop of Armagh 14781513, ed. M. A. Sughi, 2 vols. (Dublin, 1999), no. 551
(i. 130; ii. 6778).
See below, nn. 7476. See also e.g. CPL, xiii. 284.
Registrum Mayew, ed. Bannister, 1934, at 28, 312. In 1508 Archbishop Warham
recalled that in 1492 the prior of the church of St John, Thomas Kendal, had promised to pay
procurations in order to halt the incipient legal proceedings, although it seems likely either that
he meant John Kendal, or that Thomas Kendal, who is otherwise unknown, was acting on his
namesakes behalf. Ibid. 32.
100 The Hospital and Society

Docwras absence in Rhodes, the farmer of Garway had agreed to pay half
the sum requested because he wished to avoid bishop Audleys displeasure
but after his return the prior instructed his ofcers to refuse payment. Three
years of expensive legal action followed. In 1508 Docwras servants, includ-
ing the farmer of Garway and the scribe of the common treasury, were
summoned before the archbishops court of audience, where evidence was
presented that procurations had been paid regularly in the period from 1492
to 1504.75 The dispute was renewed in 1521, when the prior asserted that
the order had no responsibility to pay the bishop anything for Garway and
would donate only the sum which had been agreed in the time of bishop
Booths predecessor for the tithes of its other Herefordshire estate at Uplea-
don. If the bishop insisted on any more, said Docwra, he would pay nothing
at all. Booth responded by placing Garway under interdict in 1524, and the
dispute was still unresolved in 1529, when it was raised in convocation.76 It
was no wonder that in 1511 Bishop Mayew had convocations protest
against the orders misuse of its privileges copied into his register, and that
in 1532 Bishop Ghinucci of Worcester made sure he had a look at the
privileges recently granted the order by Clement VII.77 As this case demon-
strates, the Hospital maintained an active defence of its privileges, real or
imagined, against the secular clergy throughout the later Middle Ages. In
order to do so, it maintained a proctor in the court of Arches, and appointed
conservators of its privileges to defend it before both church and lay courts
and indeed remove cases from them into its own jurisdiction where applic-
able.78 Despite these precautions, and despite their exemption from epis-
copal authority, members of the order and their personal servants might at
times be excommunicated by irate diocesans. William Knollis, preceptor of
Torphichen, was excommunicated for his failure to pay tithes in 1506, while
the turcopolier, John Kendal, and two members of his household were
similarly dealt with in 1484.79
Despite the animus felt by the clergy against some of the Hospitals claims
and practices, the clerical estate was generally supportive of its fund-raising
activities. Although the clergy were often irked by the sales techniques
employed by Hospitaller nuncii, quaestores, or pardoners, the order was
among a very few major institutions routinely licensed to collect alms on a
provincial rather than local basis by the episcopate, which was concerned to
limit those institutions offering pardons.80 The clergy might also be urged to

Registrum Mayhew, ed. Bannister, pp. iii, 33, 1934.
Registrum Caroli Bothe Episcopi Herefordensis A.D.MDXVIMDXXXV, ed. A. T. Ban-
nister, CYS, 28 (London, 1921), 8692, 92; Concilia, ed. Wilkins, iii. 717.
Registrum Mayhew, ed. Bannister, 502; Archives de lOrient Latin, ed. P. Riant, vol. ii
(Paris, 1884), 202.
The order had the right to judge cases involving its own tenants and servants, although it
was forbidden to remove cases from the royal courts into its jurisdiction. Statutes, i. 923.
CPL, xviii, no. 625; xv, no. 48 (pp. 267).
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 4789.
The Hospital and Society 101

contribute themselves. In 1480, for example, the archbishop of Canterbury

ordered his suffragans to convoke their clergy and read letters from order,
pope, and king outlining the danger to Rhodes and inviting contributions.81
Some individual clerics, and not just those it employed, were also close to
members of the order. John Kendal, for instance, was associated with several
expatriate clergymen during his residence in Rome in the late 1470s and
1480s, including Cardinal Morton, who intervened on his behalf with the
king in 1490.82 Possessing about a hundred appropriated churches in Eng-
land and Wales, and the advowson of a number of others, the order also
provided a great deal of employment for members of the clerical estate. If
some of these livings were relatively poor and suffered from a high turnover
of incumbents,83 others were sufciently desirable for the order to be placed
under pressure to dispose of their presentments, presumably for some con-
sideration, in the early sixteenth century. The most important, however,
were evidently reserved for prioral chaplains and brethren of the order.
A few thousand people would have attended divine service in the orders
appropriated churches and preceptory chapels in the British Isles, and the
order did its best to ensure that its churches reected its particular devo-
tional concerns. In common with several other orders founded in the Holy
Land, the liturgy used in Hospitaller houses was based on that of the church
of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.84 In addition, feast days and practices
observed in Rhodes or Malta were followed in all the orders European
churches, and prayers were offered up in them for its master and brethren.85
The chief devotional cult was that of St John the Baptist. The orders
commandery chapels were commonly dedicated to its patron and depictions
of him were common therein. An image of the Baptist is mentioned in the
inventories of the chapel of Hampton Court drawn up in 1495, 1505, and
1515.86 Similarly, oblations ad ymaginem Sancti Johannis are recorded at
Garway, as is the bequest of a cow to maintain Seynt Johnis light at
Yeaveley in 1503 and 1509 and a bell with the inscription Ora pro nobis
Sancte Iohannes Baptista at Keele.87 The Weston triptych, a late fteenth-
century Flemish work probably commissioned or purchased by John Weston
(prior of England, 147689), depicts the Baptist and the Presentation of
Christ on one side, and the Trinity and the Presentation of the Virgin on the

Ibid. ii. 593.
See below, Ch. 5.3.
Bowker, Secular Clergy, 79.
C. Dondi, The Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (XIIXVI Century): With
Special Reference to the Practice of the Orders of the Temple and St John of Jerusalem, Ph.D.
thesis (London, 2000), 23, 11819.
Stabilimenta, De ecclesia, esp. xxiiii, xxxxii (Statutes of Naillac and dAubusson) and
Excavations, 33; Lansdowne 200, fo. 30v; Claudius E.vi, fos. 8v, 139v/40r.
Valor, iii. 19; Claudius E.vi, fos. 7v, 70v; C. Harrison, The Coming of the Sneyds, North
Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies, 22 (19825), 2346, at 41.
102 The Hospital and Society

other. Other saints were honoured too.88 A triptych of the Virgin, the
Crucixion, and St John the Evangelist is mentioned in an inventory of the
chapel of Temple Cressing, and images of Our Lady and St Nicholas, as well
as a depiction of Christ, at Hampton Court.89 In general the order took good
care of its churches and chapels and many brethren seem to have made
improvements to them. At least at Clerkenwell, these were of considerable
architectural sophistication and of advanced design, the most notable ex-
amples in this period being the erection of an exceptionally nely crafted
chantry chapel in or after 1501 and the remarkable hipped bell tower rebuilt
or erected after 1484,90 which John Stow remembered as a most curious
peece of workemanshippe, grauen, guilt and inameled to the great beautify-
ing of the Cittie, and passing all other that I have seene.91 A wealthy
preceptor like Thomas Newport, too, could rebuild the commandery chapel
at Newland in 1519 and have his arms placed in the windows of at least
three Lincolnshire churches, including Temple Brewer.92 The arms of other
preceptors are recorded at others of the orders appropriated churches or
preceptory chapels.93
As has been suggested, the orders tenants are not always easy to distin-
guish from servants, confratres, and the parishioners of its appropriated
churches, between which categories there might be considerable overlap.
In addition to enjoying peculiar rights and exemptions, it is clear that many
Hospitaller tenants held their properties on distinctive terms determined by
a mixture of contingency and conventual policy. As Michael Gervers has
shown, the Hospitals landed estate was built out of a very large number of
individual donations, a great many of them of modest rents or small parcels
of land.94 While the order pursued a policy of acquisition and exchange to
round out these territories, even in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries its
brethren were too few to farm more than their more important estates
directly.95 From the very beginning, therefore, smaller holdings were rented
out, although on manorial estates, and particularly those with resident
brethren, demesnes were kept in hand until well into the fourteenth cen-
tury.96 Partly because many of its properties were situated on unproductive

The adoption of local devotions by Hospitaller houses in the west is discussed in Dondi,
Liturgy, 11929.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 151r; Lansdowne 200, fo. 30v; Claudius E.vi, fos. 8v, 139v/40r.
Excavations, 132, 1467, 151, 1956, 1989 and gs. 100, 1038, 110; CPL, xiv. 7.
Excavations, 196; Stow, Survey, ii. 84.
Dodsworths Yorkshire Church Notes, ed. A. S. Ellis, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 8
(1884), 130, 481522, at 1; Lincolnshire Church Notes made by Gervase Holles, A.D.1634 to
A.D.1642, ed. R. E. G. Cole, Lincoln Record Society, 1 (Lincoln, 1911), 237 n., 242.
Kentish Cartulary, ed. Cotton, 60; Shimield, Shengay, 1402; Puddy, Norfolk, 82;
J. Nichols, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 4 vols. in 8 parts (London,
17951811), iii, I, 256; VCH, Hants, iii. 465.
Secunda Camera, pp. xxviixxxix, xliiixliv.
Ibid., pp. xlxlv, lxviiilxix, lxxv.
Ibid., pp. lxxi, lxxiii.
The Hospital and Society 103

terrain, the Hospital offered a combination of inexcessive rents and rela-

tively light labour services to prospective tenants, who were further attracted
by the scal and jurisdictional freedoms associated with the order, prompt-
ing some persons to seek transfer to its overlordship.97 In return, however,
the order usually levied an obit of a third part of chattels on the death of a
tenant98 and by the 1390s this imposition had become resented enough to
provoke a campaign of resistance by the bondsmen of the Warwickshire
preceptory of Balsall, where the obit was a half.99 Similar grievances perhaps
encouraged the sack of the orders manors in south-eastern and eastern
England during the Peasants Revolt of 1381 and the burning of the magis-
tral camera of West Peckham during the Cade rising of 1450.100
The Peasants Revolt has inspired some to suggest that the Hospital was a
harsh landlord, but the truth of this is doubtful.101 The orders relationship
with its tenants had certainly changed since the thirteenth century, the
practices of letting many manors out to farm on long lease and of appointing
laymen as collectors of confraternity payments and stewards of the orders
manorial courts removing the tenants of many holdings from frequent
contact with their landlords. By the late fteenth century, at least, manors,
rectories, and mills pertaining to the prioral estate were almost always let on
long lease by provincial chapter, as were a great many other properties in
London and Clerkenwell. London had its own dedicated rent collectors,
who traversed the city fullling their functions, but otherwise those granted
prioral estates on long lease were expected to render the farm at Clerken-
well. This brought more signicant tenants into the Hospitals headquarters,
but also left those holding long leases as effectively the orders intermediaries
with large numbers of its subordinates. Similar arrangements obtained
between preceptories and their dependent estates, which were commonly
divided into bailiwicks whose bailiffs accounted for their jurisdictions at the
chief mansion of the preceptory.
The orders increasing detachment from direct administration might have
mixed results. The former Templar house of Keele in Shropshire, which had
a resident brother custos in 1338, was thereafter transferred to the jurisdic-
tion of the preceptors of Halston, who let it to farm from the 1370s
onwards, but these changes had little effect on the actual running of the
estate, which was largely managed by its tenants, a self-assured group who
initiated major changes in the agricultural organization of the manor them-
selves and took advantage of Keeles status as a jurisdictional peculiar to
found and maintain a parish guild through which many of their affairs were

Studd, Keele, 56, 910, 18; Secunda Camera, pp. xli, lxxvilxxvii.
Secunda Camera, pp. xli, lxxviilxxviii.
Gooder, Temple Balsall, 1719; CPR13916, 525; CPR13969, 11213. Resistance to
heriots also occurred at Halston in the 1420s. VCH, Salops, ii. 87.
AOM363, fo. 158v.
Tyerman, England, 356.
104 The Hospital and Society

regulated.102 Yet, here as elsewhere, the orders relationship with the lay
farmer was sometimes problematic, a suit by the order against Nicholas
Coleman, the lessee of Keele between 1404 and 1409, maintaining that he
had destroyed the conventual buildings on the site.103 Disputes between the
order and its farmers were especially common following the death or resig-
nation of a prior or preceptor, or during the latters absence: in such periods
tenants might fall behind in their rent, mislay estate documents, dilapidate
buildings or refuse to vacate their leases; while newly appointed priors or
preceptors might wish to evict tenants in order to bestow the holding on
their own nominees.104 Nevertheless, the relationship between the order and
its chief tenants generally appears to have been amicable, not least because
many were persons already associated with the order by blood, marriage, or
service. This is particularly true of those who were granted short-term leases
of those houses whose preceptors were in or on their way to the convent,105
but it also applied to many others. Through the lease books of 14921539
we can trace the careers of a number of men who combined blood relation,
service, and tenancy. The association of some with the order appears to have
predated the admission of their relatives as Hospitallers. The Derbyshire
knight Sir Thomas Babington of Dethick, for instance, was granted the life
stewardship of the nearby preceptory of Yeaveley in 1493, six years before
his third son, John, entered the order. Over the next thirty years, Johns
connections and ofces were exploited so that the family held the precep-
tories of Willoughton, Yeaveley, and Dalby at farm for short periods,
retained the stewardship of Yeaveley after Sir Thomass death, and was
granted a twenty-nine-year lease of Rothley in 1529.106 More often, the
entry of a family into service or tenancy appears to have been coeval with or
post-dated the profession of relatives in the order. The Chetwoods, Dalisons,
Docwras, Dorset Husseys, Langstrothers, Malorys, Passemers, Pecks, Pick-
erings, Plumptons, Pooles, Rawsons, and Tonges107 who were granted
ofces, corrodies, preceptory leases, manors, rectories, and collectorships
of confraternity payments all beneted from the profession of relatives who
had become, as preceptors, signicant landholders. Such rewards and con-
nections might signicantly enhance a familys existing local prestige and
position, as has been argued in the case of the Malorys of Newbold Revel,108
or lead to branches of a family establishing themselves in a new location
associated with the hospital. Besides the Langstrothers in Lincolnshire and

Studd, Keele, passim.
Ibid. 13.
See below, 110, 193, 196, 201.
See above, 645.
Lansdowne 200, fo. 13rv; Claudius E.vi, fos. 7v8v, 69v70v, 158rv, 202r, 264v265r;
LR2/62, fos. 1rv, 31rv.
I mention only those families of which two or more lay members were the recipients of
grants in provincial chapter between 1492 and 1528.
Field, Sir Robert Malory, 259; id, Life and Times, 779.
The Hospital and Society 105

Norfolk, for example, one can also nd several Rawsons in Ireland and an
Anthony Tonge in Rhodes.109 Although some such families, most notably
both branches of the Docwras, might lose ofces or inuence after the death
of a professed relative, such an event need not herald the end of the orders
generosity. Grants were made to members of the Malory family for at least
fteen years after the death of the last Malory preceptor in 1481,110 while
the Hertfordshire gentleman George Dalison of Clothall, a servant of the
order since the 1480s, continued to receive grants and ofces after the death
of his presumed relatives, the Hospitallers Richard and Robert, in 1498 and
1504.111 His importance must have helped to keep the family connection
alive in following years, so that John Dalison became a Hospitaller before
1519, and Robert (II) in 1524.112 Those of the orders leading servants who
appear not to have had pre-existing family connections with brethren were
often also rewarded for their pains with corrodies, properties within the
prioral precinct, and grants elsewhere. The latter might include manors,
rectories, and, in the case of Francis Bell, who was granted the farm of the
magistral camera of Peckham, even whole preceptories.113 Most such grants
were of properties within striking distance of the priory, but some were
considerably more far-ung, and must have been made over to assigns.
The order provided accommodation and employment throughout Eng-
land and Wales. The Hospital seems to have been a good employer, and
looked after its own. The number of men whose careers in its service can be
traced for twenty years or more is considerable. Its chief ofcersthe
auditor, chief steward, prioral steward, prioral receiver, and scribe of the
common treasuryheld their posts for life and were rewarded with small
salaries, corrodies, tenements within the priory complex, and leases of land
on which they might make considerable prot. Ofcers such as chaplains,
bailiffs, keepers of woods, and stewards of courts also customarily had life
tenure and were provided with their salaries, robes, and other perquisites
even if they should be inrm. Details of the recruitment of such ofcers are
practically impossible to come by, but it seems likely that many had served
the order in its preceptories or in Rhodes before they took up residence in
Clerkenwell. This is suggested by the fact that their number included several
Rhodiots, of whom three in particularFrancis Bell, Constans Bennett, and
Francis Galliardettobecame both prominent and prosperous in prioral
service. Hospitaller brethren could sometimes demonstrate a quite touching

Paston Letters, ed. Davis, i. 6971; CICRE, 8990; AOM404, fo. 230v.
AOM388, fo. 132r; Claudius E.vi, fo. 299r; Lansdowne 200, fo. 44v.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 88v; Lansdowne 200, fos. 27r, 32r, 38rv, 40v, 43v44r; Claudius E.vi,
fos. 46r, 78rv, 87v88r, 88v, 142r143r, 243rv; Excavations, 140, 1434.
AOM408, fo. 136rv; BDVTE, 38, 412. The order also presented Dalisons to the
Hertfordshire vicarage of Standon in 1486 and 1536. J. E. Cussans, History of Hertfordshire,
3 vols. (187081, repr. Wakeeld, 1972), i. 181.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 202v203v.
106 The Hospital and Society

paternalism towards their subordinates. Having thought to reward William

ap Rhyss long service by appointing him his chief auditor, for example,
William Weston was aghast at Thomas Cromwells attempt to pressure him
into appointing the monastic visitor, William Cavendish, instead. Weston
also intervened with Giles Russell, preceptor of Battisford, on behalf of John
Launde, an old servant of the former preceptor, Adam Chetwood, and
whose rent Russell was trying to increase.114
Just as with relatives and servants, the hospital did its best to bring those
other persons to whom it leased its estates into close and long-lasting afnity.
Gentlemen granted leases of former preceptories and camerae would be
expected to nd chaplains to celebrate there and to receive the orders
ofcials when they came to survey the property or hold court. In return
they were often granted robes of the orders livery, might act as its attorneys
in local business and might rarely be granted corrodies as was the farmer of
Hogshaw, Ralph Lane, at Clerkenwell in 1508.115 The most prestigious of
the orders local ofces, the stewardships of its courts were, like its major
estates, granted largely to local notables, such as Sir Thomas Burgh at
Willoughton in 1493, Sir Thomas Tyrrell at Cressing in 1495, and John
Villers the younger at Dalby in 1498.116 Tyrrell, at least, was appointed
because of the good favour and special love he had demonstrated to the
order in the past. That these men were all from families who supplied the
hospital with brethren is also telling.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to suggest that the order was always
able to distribute estates and ofces as it wished. In Wales and the Welsh
Marches, for instance, some gentlemen were effectively paid protection
money.117 The large number of grants made to various categories of royal
servant across this period also indicates that the hospital felt it necessary to
acquire inuence at court and suggests that pressure was put upon it to make
grants. In 1518, for example, Henry VIIIs intimate Sir Thomas Boleyn was
granted the orders Cambridgeshire estate of Great Wilbraham, while in the
same year the Lancashire gentleman James Anderton vacated his newly
granted lease of Much Woolton in favour of Roland Shakelady, a royal
clerk in chancery to whom the preceptor of Yeaveley had promised it.118
The orders properties in the immediate environs of the capital and of royal
palaces such as Richmond were particularly attractive to courtiers and royal
ofcers, and with the expansion in the activities and personnel of the crown
under the Tudors considerable pressure was brought to bear on the order for
grants. The important estate of Hampton Court, for example, was held by
successively grander personages between the 1470s and 1530s: John Wood,

LPFD, xi, no. 419; v, no. 901.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 60r.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 13r, 23r, 50v.
AOM54, fo. 42r; Claudius E.vi, fo. 257v.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 176v177r; 185rv.
The Hospital and Society 107

Sir Giles Daubeney, Cardinal Wolsey, and nally the king himself. Both
Daubeney and Wolsey sought a permanent grant of the manor, which the
order was reluctant to allow, and got the crown to intervene on their behalf
with the central convent.119 Yet the order might also nd it politic to grant
the requests of even relatively minor ofcials, or their connections. Writing
to the preceptor of Baddesley in 1533, the orders subprior asked him to
grant a property held by copy to a London merchant whose brother was a
clerk of the crown and could do the order some good.120
But what might this good consist of? Above all, the order sought the
continuance and extension of royal favour. While its priors, as lords of
parliament and royal councillors, were important public gures they did
not reside at court, and were rarely close intimates of the king. In attempting
to gain licence to leave the realm, to acquire benets for their order, to
defend their estates and to pursue their own private interests professed
Hospitallers directed begging letters, gifts, and pensions to royal councillors
and courtiers. Thus when prior John Kendal wanted to go to Rhodes in
c.1500 he made a present of kirtles adorned with crystal gold and silver to
the chancellor, Morton, while in the following reign Wolsey and Cromwell
were offered Turkey carpets and pensions for their uncertain favours.121 Yet
for all the attractions of exotic manufactures, property was what many
courtiers were most eager to acquire from their association with the order,
and many were able to achieve their wishes.
In seeking Hospitaller properties in and around London, courtiers were
not just competing with the orders relatives and servants, but with the
citizens and other inhabitants of the capital. The prior of St John, whose
properties in London and Middlesex were rated at more than 600 in 1540,
could be described in 1528 as a very great personage, the chief in that city,
and his order had close commercial and social ties with the capital.122 Its
tenants included the lawyers of the Temple area, the clerks of Chancery
Lane, and numerous citizens and guildsmen. London merchants sold cloth
and lent money to the order and its brethren, and their presence as co-lessees
of the estates of those preceptors travelling to convent indicates their im-
portance in providing the capital to nance such journeys. In 1506, for
instance, the draper William Stalworth, was among those granted the farm
of the Lincolnshire preceptory of Willoughton.123 Such ties begat a certain
amount of affection and intimacy in some. Both the liverymen and yeomen
of the Merchant Taylors belonging to their twin fraternities of St John
Baptist were confratres of the Hospital, and attended an annual mass in
the priory, where at least one prominent liveryman was buried. A few

See below, 157, 173 and Thurley, Hampton Court, ch. 1.
LPFD, vi, II, no. 166.
AOM79, fo. 116v; see below, Ch. 6.
PRO SC6/Henry VIII/2402, mm. 113d; CSPV, iv, no. 380.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 44v45r.
108 The Hospital and Society

Londoners also left the order money in their wills, the most notable bequest
after 1400 being the 100 bequeathed in 1511 by the Merchant Taylor John
Kyrkby towards the bell tower rebuilt after 1484, in return for which the
order promised to keep an obit in his honour.124 Relations were not always
amicable, however. The corporate cohesion of the order and its servants and
their exemption from secular jurisdiction and penalties prompted some
resentment among the citizens of the capital, so that in 1453 a wrestling
match between champions of the priory and the city degenerated into a
battle in which several people were killed or injured.125 There were occa-
sional disputes, too, between the order and the corporation of London.
The same mixture of intimacy and resentment can be found elsewhere.
Several individual Hospitallers can be seen to have had close friendships and
associations outside the order. While travelling round his favoured estates,
for instance, John Weston went hawking with and provided gode chere to
his friends, and visited the houses of lay persons such as Richard Cely the
elder. Richard the younger, a close companion of the prior, accompanied him
both on his local travels and his embassy to France in 1480 and was the
Bedfelow of the younger Hospitaller Roland Thornburgh, while his
brother George provided the prior with news, gowncloth, rich saddles, and
hawks from the marts of Calais and Flanders.126 Similarly, the letters of
relatives and servants provide news about members of William Westons
household and family at Rainham-Berwick and Sutton Temple (Essex),
Melchbourne (Bedfordshire), and Clerkenwell.127 In 1526 the orders
right trusty and lovyng frende Antonio Vivaldi was granted the right to
take two bucks and two does from the park at Berwick annually as well as to
take out the priors boats and sh.128 The orders preceptors indulged in
similar pursuits. Leases of East Stafford mill in Dorset granted in 1512 and
1526 specied that the commander of Maine and his friends were to have the
right to sh there when they should visit.129 Besides such frivolous inter-
actions, preceptors were well enough integrated into local society to act as
feoffees and arbiters, to witness marriages, and to join guilds.130 Given the
C. M. Clode, The Early History of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St
John the Baptist, London (London, 1888), 11112, 63; The Merchant Taylors Company of
London: Court Minutes 14861493, ed. M. Davies (Stamford, 2000), 24, 288; Claudius E.vi,
fo. 86v.
Six Town Chronicles, ed. Flenley, 107, 140; J. Stow, A Summarie of the Chronicles
of England (London, 1604), 373; Excavations, 92.
The Cely Letters 14721488, ed. A. Hanham, EETS, 273 (London, 1975), esp. nos.
19, 25, 37, 3940, 47, 52, 55, 58, 74, 78, 83, 84, 90, 946, 989, 102, 104, 108, 121, 123, 134.
LPFD, xi, no. 849; Addenda, no. 1095.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 289r.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 101rv, 280v281r.
BL Additional Ch. 7386; Ancient Deeds, iv, A7907; Nichols, Leicester, iii, II, 953; The
Register of the Guild of Corpus Christi in the City of York: With an Appendix of Illustrative
Documents, Containing some Account of the Hospital of St. Thomas of Canterbury, without
Micklegate Bar, in the Suburbs of the City, ed. R. H. Skaife, Surtees Society, 57 (Durham, 1872),
45, 189.
The Hospital and Society 109

largely secular environment in which they operated and the necessity of

defending their estates, it is not surprising that both priors and preceptors
could sometimes be accused either of personal immorality or of abusing their
positions in favour of themselves and their relatives. According to the hostile
Thomas de la Laund, brother John Boswell kept not only the customary
household at Temple Brewer but also adopted John Amwyk as his Fole and
Ydyot, besides keeping a mistress and having a son to whom he gave
Amwyks estate.131 At least one other English preceptor, Thomas Golyns,
had a mistress and child,132 and there must be a suspicion that some of the
Docwras with whom prior Thomas surrounded himself, especially Martin of
Balsall, were more closely related to him than was canonically licit.133
Whether before or after the dissolution, brother Henry Poole is also
known to have fathered a bastard.134 Concubinage may have been rife
among the Hospitallers of Scotland and Ireland, where brethren were virtu-
ally unsupervised. William Knollis, preceptor of Torphichen, had an illegit-
imate son,135 and a number of Irish priests claimed to be sons of Hospitallers
in petitions to Rome.136 The English prior of Ireland, John Rawson, emu-
lated the native-born brethren in fathering a daughter.137 Some such rela-
tionships might involve coercion. In 1534 Edmund Hussey was accused of
having borne off a Bristol servant girl into captivity at Templecombe,138
while William Langstrother, the bailiff of Eagle, colluded in his lay relative
Roberts pursuit of Jane Boys, which ended up in her abduction to Lincoln-
shire and rape in 1452.139
At least among male heads of families, legal cases probably caused longer-
lasting resentments than any sexual misdemeanours. Successive preceptors
of the Lincolnshire house of Temple Brewer had a dispute with the de la
Laundes of nearby Ashby which had its origins in the latters objections to
the transfer of their donations to the Temple to the Hospital after 1312. The
last round of litigation between the family and the order began in 14701
and dragged on until the 1520s, the pretext for action being Ashby church,
which Robert de la Laund claimed had been granted to the Temple illegally
by an ancestor. Although Roberts suit against brother Miles Skayff col-
lapsed because of his death it may have prompted the next preceptor, John
Boswell, to attempt to deprive Thomas of his rights as lord of the manor of
Ashby by seizing deeds and forging a will giving him title to a messuage

BL Add. MS 4937, fos. 78r79r.
Episcopal Court Book, ed. Bowker, 123.
Martin Docwra does not appear either in the family pedigrees recorded by the Heralds or
in the wills of members of the two main branches of the family.
Bindoff (ed), House of Commons, iii. 130.
CPL, xviii, no. 684.
CPL, xii. 284; xiii. 6234; xiv. 148, 224, 255, 300; xv, no. 891; xvi, no. 931.
DNB, xlvii. 336.
PRO STAC2/6/93.
Paston Letters, ed. Davis, i. 6970.
110 The Hospital and Society

there. Launds determination to pursue this suit before the common law
courts and Margaret Beaufort also led Thomas Newport, who became
preceptor on Boswells death in 1495, to adopt strong-arm tactics. Laund
complained that in 1502 or 1503 Newport had withheld land in Ashby from
him and instructed his tenants not to pay him joysment. Relations had
deteriorated to such an extent by the time that John Babington (I) was
farmer of the commandery in 151920 that he allegedly caused his servants
to bait and make off with Launds sheep, destroy his corn, and usurp his
jurisdiction over the Ashby leet courts. When Laund complained about these
latest outrages to the courts, Babington supposedly suborned his counsel so
that the latter passed him documents and ensured the exclusion of Launds
patron Sir Christopher Willoughby from the Assizes at which the case was to
be determined.140 Besides his orders legal clout, a Hospitaller able to secure
a preceptory near his family estates would also be able to call on physical
muscle, as Edmund Hussey apparently did during his confrontation with the
corporation of Bristol in 1534.141 Yet the family interests of one preceptor
could sometimes complicate matters for the next incumbent. After Thomas
Docwra installed his relative Martin in the important prioral preceptory of
Balsall shortly before his death, the latter became the subject of eviction
proceedings by the next prior, while in the 1530s Henry Poole attempted to
evict the Babingtons, relatives of the former preceptor John, from their
interests in Dalby.142
As these examples suggest, the tendency of the Hospitals family and
personal connections to perpetuate themselves rarely led to the establish-
ment of prolonged family interests in particular preceptories, although more
peripheral estates might become the preserve of a family over several gener-
ations. The orders promotion system, by which brethren would move
between houses and usually had no say in the appointment of their succes-
sors, worked against any such developments, as did the fact that preceptors
could choose their own ofcers and tenants without reference to provincial
chapter. The order was in any case too signicant and far-ung a corpor-
ation, and too dependent on lay service, support, and counsel to become a
closed shop. Its landed administration was partly dependent on the good will
of the gentlemen who leased its manors, acted as stewards of its courts, and
who also served the crown in shire government. Its shipment of men and
monies to the Mediterranean required the goods and credit of English
merchants and the expertise of Italian. Priests, legal ofcers, bailiffs,
receivers, scribes, frary clerks, parkers, and menial servants all had to be
recruited and paid for, and could hardly be sourced simply among the

BL Add. MS 4937, fos. 76v89v. Babington spent 8 7s. for actions at law in defence of a
great part of the demesne at Temple Brewer in the year from 25 Mar. 1521. AOM54, fo. 45r.
PRO STAC2/6/93.
PRO C1/588/36; /732/38.
The Hospital and Society 111

families and friends of the few dozen professed brethren. In granting tenan-
cies and appointing to at least some ofces, the order showed itself suscep-
tible to pressure from inuential persons, especially those connected with
the court. In doing so, it sought to secure the approval of those about the
king for its activities, the perpetuation of which complemented some trad-
itional elements of royal policy, but contradicted other, often more pressing,

The Hospital and the English

Crown, 14601509

Royal support had always been necessary to the order of St Johns operations
in England and Wales. Yet there had also always existed potential conicts of
interest between crown and order. From the thirteenth century, kings of
England had emphasized their right to control the movements of their
subjects overseas, had limited transfers of bullion out of the country, and
had clamped down on corporations which had allegiances to bodies or
persons outside the realm. Monarchical claims and nationalist rhetoric
became more wide-ranging and explicit as a result of the Hundred Years
War and the state building of the late Middle Ages, and were sometimes
employed to justify limiting, impeding, or even halting contacts between the
Hospitaller priory of England and its Mediterranean convent. Usually, how-
ever, the crown fell well short of submitting the order to any comprehensive
system of restrictive legislation, and acted only when it considered its mem-
bers to have slighted the royal dignity or breached royal prerogatives in some
way. In this chapter I will attempt to establish what the crowns usual
attitude to the Hospital was, what theoretical and practical bases underlay
royal perceptions, and what the normal patterns of interaction were between
the two. I will then trace the development of the relationship between
individual kings and priors of England on a reign-by-reign basis, paying
particular attention to the conicts which occasionally arose between crown
and order, and the context in which these occurred.

5.1 The Framework of Interaction before 1460

In June 1459 Henry VI forbade his trusty and welbeloved counsailler

Robert Botill, prior of the Hospital in England, to travel to Rhodes to attend
the forthcoming chapter-general of the order. His grounds for doing so were
Botills age and sickness and the belief that his presence in England was to us
full necessarie for many causes. Informing the English brethren in Rhodes of
his decision, he proceeded to instruct them that as ye wol we shal take you
for our trewe subgittes they must in noowise suffre as ferre as ye may and in
esp(ec)iall yeve noo consent to any g(ra)unts imposicons or charges that may
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 113

be thought or taken p(re)judiciall or hurte to the lawes of this o(u)r

reaume.1 Henrys instructions to his Hospitaller subjects reect two peren-
nial elements in royal policy: a dislike of the imposition of taxes on the realm
by foreign authorities, and a desire to limit the movement and activities of
subjects overseas.2 From the fourteenth century such considerations had led
to the restriction of papal authority to tax the English Church, to the
diversion of ecclesiastical taxation to fund the war effort against France,
and to occasional prohibitions on people leaving the country on business
other than the kings.3 Suspicion of all things French had further led to the
seizure or Anglicization of those alien priories and cells which owed
allegiance to foreign mothers and were run and staffed by French monks,4
and to bans on their sending payments (apportum) overseas.5 Although the
brethren of the Hospitaller priory of England were overwhelmingly anglo-
phone, their allegiance to an institution whose masters were usually French,
whose French provincial priors supported the enemy war effort,6 and whose
receiver-general was based in Avignon left them potentially vulnerable to
punitive legislation or even suppression. Preceptories, which were barely
conventual in the early fourteenth century and still less so by the fteenth,
might even have been in particular danger of being suppressed as alien
cells.7 The threat was especially great in the rst decade of the Hundred
Years War and during the papal schism. In 1337 Edward III lumped the
dispatch of responsions to Rhodes together with the apporti paid by the alien
priories to their overseas mothers, and forbade it, while also requiring
military service and loans from the prior of England, Philip de Thame.8 In
1339 he reproved Thame for sending responsions in contempt of this order,
alleging that by sending monies abroad he had destroyed the goods of the
Hospital, which ought rather to be employed in defence of the realm.9 The

PPC, vi. 301.
M. J. Barber, The Englishman Abroad in the Fifteenth Century, Medievalia et Humanis-
tica, 1st ser., 11 (1957), 6977.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii, esp. 1045, 113, 11718, 1234.
Recent studies of the legislation against alien priories include A. K. McHardy, The Alien
Priories and the Expulsion of Aliens from England in 1378, in D. Baker (ed.), Church, Society
and Politics, Studies in Church History, 12 (1975), 13341; B. J. Thompson, The Statute of
Carlisle, 1307, and the Alien Priories, JEH 41 (1990), 54383; id., Laity.
This legislation was introduced by Edward I in 1307, and conrmed in 1330, but was rarely
applied to the Hospital before Edward IIIs insistence in 1335 that no religious man carry
sterling out of the realm. Statutes, i. 151, 263, 273. For a pre-1335 enforcement of the statute
see CCR13303, 323. In 1335 the prior of England, Philip de Thame, paid his responsions at a
chapter-general of the order. H. Nicholson, The Hospitallers in England, the Kings of England
and Relations with Rhodes in the Fourteenth Century, Sacra Militia, 2 (2001), 2545, at 27 n.
I am grateful to Dr Nicholson for sending me a copy of this article.
Hermitage Day, Dinmore, 9.
For the division of such houses between viable conventual priories and unviable cells, see
Thompson, Laity, 212, 289, 323, 357.
CCR13379, 140, 240, 290, 436, 500, 632, 635, 643; CCR133941, 114, 119, 123, 1245,
185; Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 368.
CCR133941, 256; Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 37.
114 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

confrontation reached its height in 1341, when the priors compliance was
again investigated, the conscation of the priory threatened under the legis-
lation against alien houses, and the arrest of the hospitals visitors as adher-
ents of the kings enemies beyond the seas ordered because they had exported
bullion, urged their brethren to leave the realm, and caused its secrets to be
discovered by conducting visitations.10 Thereafter licences for Hospitallers to
depart continued to insist that they take no apportum, Edward attempting to
justify the detention of responsions in October 1342 as necessary for the
defence of the Hospital.11 By the late 1350s, however, the order appears to
have convinced the king that it should be treated differently from the alien
priories, with responsions being submitted once more.12 Thereafter, while
individual Hospitallers were sometimes subject to restrictions or outright
prohibitions on travelling or sending responsions abroad, there was no
attempt to put a stop to the orders activities until Edwards adverse but
short-lived reaction to the convents attempt to detach the preceptory of
Scotland from English allegiance in 13745.13 The crown even continued to
support the order during the papal schism, when the allegiance of its convent
to the Avignonese lines of popes provided the perfect pretext to conscate its
estates.14 Despite a parliamentary petition in 1383/4 that responsions be put
to the ease of the poor commons of the realm, despite the orders inclusion in
a 1410 Lollard proposal to disendow the Church, and despite increasing
royal impecunity under Richard II and Henry IV, the order continued to be
allowed to transmit men and money to Rhodes as before.15
To some extent, the crown probably left the Hospital alone because it was
not seen to constitute a threat in the same way as the alien priories and cells,
staffed by religious of an enemy allegiance, were.16 Its members were, after
all, English, and the master of the order was supposed to reside in the eastern
Mediterranean. Such difculties as occurred arose primarily from its ship-
ment of money overseas, which was both abhorrent to the bullionist thought

CPR13413, 203; CCR13413, 1378; Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 37. Cf.
Marcombe, Leper Knights, 767.
CCR13413, 1378, 668, 670; CPR13458, 50 bis; CCR13469, 456, 554; CCR1349
54, 379.
CPR135861, 187.
CPR136974, 568 bis; CCR13747, 2978; CCR13815, 12; Cambridge University
Library, MS. Dd. III. 53, fo. 121; Bekynton Correspondence, i. 8790; PPC, vi. 299301;
Scotland, pp. xxxvxxxvi.
Tipton, English Hospitallers during the Great Schism, passim. Helen Nicholson has
recently modied Tiptons thesis, arguing convincingly that in the mid-1380s, at the height of
anti-Avignon feeling in England, the priory entered into dialogue with the anti-master Carac-
ciolo in Rome, but she nevertheless accepts that the English Hospitallers remained loyal to
Rhodes throughout the schism. Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 414.
Rot. Parl., iii. 179, 213, 6701; CPR13859, 95. The 1410 petitions statement that
Clerkenwell and its members were collectively worth 20,000 marks must surely refer to the
Hospital rather than, as Dr Hudson has stated, to the nunnery there. Selections from English
Wyclifte Writings, ed. A. Hudson (Cambridge, 1978), 135 and index.
McHardy, Alien Priories, passim; Thompson, Laity, esp. 234, 37.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 115

of the fourteenth and fteenth centuries17 and a source of anxiety to those

who feared that funds dispatched to Avignon might end up in French royal
coffers.18 To satisfy public opinion, it might not only be necessary for
Clerkenwell to prove it was not funding the French, but also that it was
actively employing its monies in defence of the faith. Thus in 1411 it was
reported in convent that Henry IV had insisted that responsions be employed
solely in Rhodes, while more generally the order evaded suspicion by sub-
mitting its dues as letters of exchange to be cashed in Italy or, less usually, in
the form of goods such as cloth and tin.19 Even in the form of letters of
exchange, however, the size of the sums involved might cause concern,
particularly if the convent ordered a signicant increase in payments or
attempted to impose any new forms of taxation. In the fteenth century,
responsions often amounted to more than 1,000 per annum, a sum con-
siderably greater than that sent to Rome by the papal collector in usual years
and which dwarfed the amounts sent to overseas mother-houses by other
English religious orders.20 A second irritant was the possibility that Hospi-
taller brethren might be provided to beneces by the pope. Such eventualities
were covered by the statutes of Provisors, but the crown sometimes saw t to
remind brethren not to seek preferment in Rome or to punish those who
had.21 Only one piece of English evidence certainly indicates that any
pressure was placed on the order to conform to the conditions by which
some of the alien priories escaped conscation. The legislation against alien
houses exempted conventual priories from action, and given this context it
is interesting that at some point between 1417 and 1422 Henry V ordered
prior William Hulles to transform the orders chief church in Clerkenwell,
which was largely served by secular priests, into a fully conventual estab-
lishment, as it had been until the reign of Edward III.22
Nevertheless, the crowns refusal to act against the Hospital even during
the schism perhaps requires further explanation, especially in view of the
fact that during the fourteenth and fteenth centuries the English houses of
military or hospitaller orders such as St Thomas of Acre, St Lazarus, and
St Anthony of Vienne became autonomous, acquiring the right to elect their
own masters without reference to their headquarters, ceasing to support
their former mother-houses nancially, and concentrating instead on local

For bullionism, see J. H. Munro, Wool, Cloth and Gold: The Struggle for Bullion in the
Anglo-Burgundian Trade, 13401478 (Toronto, 1972); J. L. Bolton, The Medieval English
Economy 11501500 (London, 1980), 7980, 297300, 311, 328, 330.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 113.
Luttrell, English Contributions, 166.
Payment to Rome by the papal collector, when not swollen by indulgence receipts, usually
amounted to about 250 per annum between 1417 and 1464, while the Cistercians collectively
sent a princely 76 to Cteaux. Harvey, England, Rome and the Papacy, 75; Knowles, Religious
Orders, iii. 312.
CCR13815, 75; CPR14416, 134.
Thompson, Alien Priories, esp. 268, 358; Monasticon, vi, II, 839.
116 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

devotional and charitable activities.23 The Hospital might easily have fol-
lowed a similar path. That it did not can partly be explained by royal
pronouncements in its favour. Although these tended to be somewhat un-
imaginative and conventional, they nevertheless reveal rst monarchs
apparently sincere belief that their predecessors had been among the found-
ers of the order, whose houses had been established for the defence of the
faith, and secondly a continued commitment to the defence of Christendom,
one perhaps ultimately grounded in their responsibility, enshrined in the
coronation oath, to protect the Church.24 Judged by the materialistic criteria
of foundations, endowments, and donations the order of St John had never
been an especial favourite of any English monarch.25 Yet when Brother John
Stillingeet drew up his list of donations to it in the mid-fteenth century he
drew attention to royal grants, singling out Richard I and Richard II in
particular for their love of the Hospital.26 Richard I, he said, had the order
in special affection because its master and brethren had conferred plurima
benecia ac commoda on him and his entourage during his crusade, as
appeared from his conrmation of the Hospitals liberties. Yet the Lion-
hearts territorial benefactions to the order were modest, amounting to the
grant of two small hospitals and a hermitage, a fact which suggests that
despite or perhaps indeed because of his dealings with the order in the Latin
east he still saw it primarily in the context of its medical rather than its
military work.27 Two centuries later Cur de Lions less impressive name-
sake had apparently also shown especial favour in increasing the orders
liberties at the request of prior Robert Hales (137181) and protecting it in
the aftermath of the Peasants Revolt, when its properties had been
destroyed and its brethren ed incognito to hide amongst laymen.28 Given
that it was Haless implementation of the poll tax on the crowns behalf that
prompted much of the animus against him and his order, and that Hales was
himself murdered during the rising, it might, however, have been churlish for
Richard II to have done otherwise.29 In fact there had been a steady if
unspectacular stream of royal donations to the order from the reigns of
Henry II until that of Edward I, but these had most characteristically taken
the form not of grants of property but of privileges and exemptions such as

Marcombe, Leper Knights, 767, 837, 923, 99100; Forey, St Thomas, 496503. The
London house of St Thomas had earlier resisted moves made by its Acre convent to amalgamate
with the Temple. Forey, St Thomas, 4945.
For these views see, inter alia, CCR13303, 67; PPC, vi. 145.
H. Nicholson, The Military Orders and the Kings of England in the Twelfth and Thir-
teenth Centuries, in A. Murray (ed.), From Clermont to Jerusalem: The Crusades and Crusader
Societies 10951500 (Turnhout, 1998), 20318, at 204.
Monasticon, vi, II, 8319. Stillingeets writing(s) are discussed in Gervers, Hospitaller
Cartulary, 2930.
Monasticon, vi, II, 839.
Ibid. Royal protection was extended to the order, its brethren, and its property in July and
August 1381. CCR13815, 3, 5; CPR13815, 32.
29 CPR13815, 23.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 117

the right to hold markets and fairs and grants of free warren.30 The ow had
tailed off towards the end of the thirteenth century, and some of the orders
claimed privileges had begun to be questioned by the 1250s, but the milk of
kingly kindness did not entirely curdle until well into the reign of Henry VIII,
the Hospitals most remarkable, if reluctant, royal benefactor before then
being that unlikely holy warrior, Edward II, who granted it the former
Templar properties in November 1313.31 Many Hospitaller properties had
originally been granted to the Temple by the crown, which had effectively
founded several Templar houses, and the Hospital took care to remember
the masters and patrons of its defunct sister order.32 It also made sure that
kings were aware of the chantries and obits it maintained in remembrance of
past royal benefactors, hence Henry VIs claim in July 1453 that his progen-
itors were numbered among its rst founders by the religious of the order.
This, the king said, made it incumbent upon him to expend every effort to
provide for the quiet of its brethren and to act to the best of his power to
prevent their being offended in any way.33
More potent, perhaps, was the orders continued role in the defence of the
Latin East. It is true that few English monarchs, the last being Henry IV, had
rst-hand experience of the Hospitals activities in the east, and that English
enthusiasm for crusading appears to have declined somewhat in the fteenth
century, if chiey through lack of accessible outlets.34 Nevertheless, if the
crusading adventures of its subjects accorded ill with the crowns increasing
desire to control movements of persons and bullion out of the realm, and its
insistence that the place of leading subjects was by the kings side, they tted
perfectly well with rulers strivings, as chief chivalric warlords, to promote
and celebrate the pursuit of honourable deeds of arms.35 Naturally, kings
expected that knightly excursions should be performed in their own service,
but there were long periods when they were not engaged in military activity
themselves. When Edward III and Richard II were at war with France they
therefore demanded the service of their leading subjects in the eld, but
during periods of truce, especially the 1390s, crusading activity might be
actively promoted.36 If the ideals of Christian brotherhood in arms and of
knight errantry were being eroded during the fteenth century and replaced

These are conveniently listed and summarized in Monasticon, vi, II, 8319.
CPR13137, 52; Monasticon, vi, II, 809; Statutes, i. 1946. On Edwards transfer of
former Templar properties to the Hospital see now Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 2833.
Monasticon, vi, II, 8319; Secunda Camera, nos. 9589; Prima Camera, p. cx.
Robert Botill, the prior of England and a leading counsellor of the king -who was still in
possession of his faculties at this stage -may have suggested the form of words used in this letter.
PPC, vi. 145.
See above, ch. 4.
See, e.g. R. Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order: England and France in the Later
Middle Ages (Oxford, 1988), 1, 7, 12, 199211; M. Keen, Chivalry and the Aristocracy, in
M. Jones (ed.), New Cambridge Medieval History, vi: c.1300c.1415 (Cambridge, 2000), 20922.
J. J. N. Palmer, England, France and Christendom, 13771399 (London, 1972), esp.
180210; Tyerman, England, 294301.
118 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

by national chivalries they had not yet been entirely eclipsed and some of
their force can still be glimpsed in the careers of noble gadabouts such as
Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick.37 Nor can the effect on royal sens-
ibilities of the monarchs responsibility to uphold and defend the faith be
entirely discounted. Crusading tracts, mirrors for princes, romances, ser-
mons, papal envoys and letters, and prophecies reminded kings of their
duties in this sphere, and of the increasing Turkish danger to Christendom.38
Their effectiveness can only have been enhanced by the appearance at court
of eastern dignitaries such as Leo of Armenia and the emperor Manuel II.39
Such exalted visitors were rare, but Byzantine envoys made their way to
England relatively frequently and the numbers of Greek refugees in the west
increased dramatically after the fall of Constantinople.40 Those who made
their way to the English court and attempted to raise money for the ransoms
of their enslaved families presented at least an incitement to pity, if not
necessarily to action, and rulers sometimes responded generously.41
The French war, the mutual suspicion between England, France, and
Burgundy which was its legacy, and subsequent upheavals in the English
polity meant that there were formidable obstacles in the way of direct royal
participation in holy war in the fteenth century, and few monarchs made
serious moves towards such an enterprise.42 And while the crown was
willing to allow men of less than baronial rank to ght in Spain, the Balkans,
and the eastern Mediterranean, it would not easily countenance the involve-
ment of magnates in crusading warfare. The fteenth-century nobility were
expected to be on hand to serve the king in war and offer him counsel in
peace, even if in practice the royal council was often largely composed of
non-noble experts. Leading nobles who did attempt to set out overseas as
crusaders or to the Holy Land as pilgrims might nd themselves forbidden to
depart, like Salisbury in the 1420s, impeded and criticized like Rivers in
1471, or summoned home from their travels, like Tiptoft in 1461.43 The
very chivalric lustre which crusading could add to a noble reputation might
even lead rulers to obstruct the more illustrious subjects who sought to

M. Keen, War, Peace and Chivalry, in id., Nobles, 120, esp. 1820; J. H. Wylie,
A History of England under Henry the Fourth, 4 vols. (London, 188498), iii. 1789.
Tyerman, England, 297, 3038, 347, 3501; Lunt, Financial Relations, ii, passim; Coote,
Prophecy, passim; A. Fox, Prophecy and Politics in the Reign of Henry VIII, in A. Fox and
J. Guy (eds.), Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 15001550
(Oxford, 1986), 7794.
Tyerman, England, 296, 31213; D. M. Nicol, A Byzantine Emperor in England. Manuel
IIs Visit to London in 14001401, University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 12/2 (1971),
Harris, Greek Emigres, 4550, 52, 1067, 1213.
For Byzantine refugees and emigres in the British Isles, see Harris, Greek Emigres, 12,
4, 1823, 338, 601, 68, 71, 734, 909, 1067, 13449, 1645, 181, 1837.
Harris, Greek Emigres, 66, 108; Tyerman, England, 3213.
CPL, vii. 43940, 468; Tyerman, England, 308; Paston Letters, ed. Davis, i. 5667;
R. J. Mitchell, The Spring Voyage: The Jerusalem Pilgrimage in 1458 (London, 1964), 122.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 119

undertake them, as Richard II seems to have done with Henry earl of Derby
in 1390.44
For both ideological and practical reasons, the crown was also reluctant to
allow the imposition of papal crusading levies on the English Church.
Having wrested control over taxation of the Church from the papacy in
the fourteenth century, kings of England had no intention of relinquishing it
again in the fteenth.45 Moreover, the Lancastrians in particular badly
needed the fruits of clerical tenths to swell their own coffers, and despite
the papacys return to Rome there was a lingering suspicion that sums sent
there would not be used properly.46 It was only grudgingly, therefore, that
kings sometimes asked the clerical estate for grants in response to papal
attempts to impose crusading tenths, although the clergys response to these
appeals was often still more niggardly than rulers would have liked it to
be.47 Monarchs were rather more willing to sanction the proclamation of
crusade indulgences, but even these could be objected to on bullionist
grounds. Thus, when asked to agree the levy of a crusading tenth in 1481,
Edward IV refused, complaining that an innite amount of money had
already departed the realm as a result of the recent grant of indulgences to
the Hospitallers.48
National and self-interest, as well as dislike of sending money out of the
realm, therefore militated against a really effective English royal response to
the threat posed by the Turks. Yet other fteenth-century rulers were active
in funding and planning crusades and some, such as Philip the Good of
Burgundy and Alfonso V of Aragon, even sent small eets to the eastern
Mediterranean.49 In the face of such activity it behoved the crown to offer at
least some assistance to the defence of Christendom. One of the more
effective ways of doing so was to support the order of St John. Once the
problem of its receiver-general residing in Avignon had been circumvented,
one could at least be reasonably sure that monies sent to Rhodes were being
expended in the defence of the faith,50 and the order did its best to demon-
strate that this was so by building substantial fortications designed as
much to impress western visitors as to deter the Turks.51 Periodically,
royal envoys were sent to the eastern Mediterranean, partly perhaps to
check that there was substance to the orders claims. Formal embassies
were supplemented by the visits of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Such travellers

Tyerman, England, 27980.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii, esp. 11718, 1234.
Tyerman, England, 354.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 13240, 14550, 153; Harris, Greek Emigres, 68.
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 1534. See also CSPV, i. 1423.
J. Paviot, La Politique navale des ducs de Bourgogne 1384/1482 (Lille, 1995), esp. 105
51; A. Ryder, The Eastern Policy of Alfonso the Magnaminous, Atti della Accademia Ponti-
cana, 28 (1979), 725.
For English attempts to ensure this, see Luttrell, English Contributions, 166.
Luttrell, Maussolleion, 145; id., Military Orders, 341.
120 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

often had connections with the royal household, and from the earliest days
of the orders sojourn on Rhodes many had stopped there.52 They, and their
masters, appear to have been satised, for many royal letters to the order or
to other rulers on its behalf commented approvingly on its military activ-
ities.53 A corollary of this approval, however, was the danger that should the
order become or appear to become inactive its possessions might come under
Moreover, monarchs could appear to support the Hospital without any
undue effort or expense. Simply by conrming the orders privileges and
allowing its brethren and their responsions to travel to Rhodes, the crown
could pose as a facilitator of its work, making a small prot into the bargain
from the tax levied on exchange operations. At minimal extra cost kings
could go further in writing stern letters supporting the order in its clashes
with the Venetians and Genoese, an activity which could also be calculated
to please the anti-Italian lobby in parliament.55 Additionally, in supporting
the English langue, the government was explicitly upholding the honour of
the English nation and ensuring that its subjects had some say in the
government and honours of an ancient, distinguished, and noble corpor-
ation which embodied the very highest ideals of chivalry, far though these
were from the spirit of its rule.56 In particular, doubtless prompted by the
langue, the crown was encouraged to see the turcopoliership as an ofce
anciently vested in the English, the preservation of the prerogatives of which
might merit repeated royal intervention, as a royal letter of 1440 demon-
strates.57 The langue also constituted the only permanent English commu-
nity east of Italy, and its presence in Rhodes was much cherished by English
pilgrims who visited the island.58 For all these reasons, it made sense for
rulers to continue to offer the Hospital their support.
In fact they went somewhat beyond the strictly necessary in doing so. The
English tower at the Hospitaller castle of Bodrum on the Turkish mainland,

Bekynton Correspondence, i. 82; CPR131317, 274, 277; CCR13436, 106. Issues of the
Exchequer, ed. F. Devon (London, 1837), 159; Foedera, v, I, 14, 35, 167, 175, 186. Tyerman,
England, 246, 283, 296.
CCR13604, 3940; The Diplomatic Correspondence of Richard II, ed. E. Perroy, CS, 3rd
ser., 48 (London, 1933), 11415; Bekynton Correspondence, i. 7980; CPR147585, 1934,
230; AOM57, cc. 2, 4, 9, 13, 16 [original numeration: 2, 1, 5, 9, 12].
Hoyle, Origins, 2823.
Rot. Parl., v. 61; PPC, vi. 1446; CSPV, i, nos. 3978; Bolton, Alien Merchants, esp.
617, 23678.
Bekynton Correspondence, i. 82. For the English nation as a component of the universal
church see L. R. Loomis, Nationality at the Council of Constance: An Anglo-French Dispute,
American Historical Review, 44 (1939), 50827, esp. 511, 51820, 5236.
This dispatch drew attention to earlier calls for the restoration of the prerogatives of the
turcopoliership in c.14212 and 1435. Bekynton Correspondence, i. 813. In letters written
home in 1561 and 1575, brother Richard Shelley laid explicit stress on the turcopolierships
importance as a goodly. . . preheminence whose loss would constitute an abasinge of our
nation. R. Shelley, Letters of Sir Richard Shelley. . . (n.p., 1774), 2, 10.
See below, ch. 8.1.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 121

adorned with the royal arms among those of the leading English contribu-
tors to its construction, provides impressive testimony for the fashionability
of support for the order in the rst half of the fteenth century, and direct
royal grants to it, whether of lands, churches, equipment or cash, were not
unknown.59 On occasion, the crown was also prepared to permit brethren
and benefactors of the Hospital to ship arms and even bullion to Rhodes.60
The size of the sums leaving the realm in responsions and indulgences also
provides powerful support for arguing that the crown actively approved of
the Hospitals work. The assessments on which the convent based its impos-
ition of responsions were, moreover, based on visitations usually conducted
by a foreign and a native Hospitaller in tandem.61 In the fteenth century,
when the crown was supporting the efforts of the English branches of other
international orders to free themselves from the jurisdiction of their mother-
houses, the active welcome extended to foreign knights of St John provides a
real indication that the Hospitals overseas links were felt to be worth
Royal support, however, came at the price of stricter regulation and
increasing nancial impositions. Like other religious corporations, after
1279 the order was forbidden to acquire more land without royal licence.63
At about the same time Hundred Roll and Quo Warranto investigations
began to examine the extent of its claims to jurisdiction and exemption,
while from the fteenth century onwards, judges challenged its claims to
provide sanctuary.64 Despite royal grants of exemption from tallages and
tolls, which enshrined at least the principle that the order should not be
taxed, it was also subjected to the payment of parliamentary taxation from
1290 onwards, although for some years both Hospital and Temple com-
pounded for this rather than have their property investigated by laymen.65
Some concessions were made. As its brethren were both laymen and exempt
from ecclesiastical taxation they were usually asked to pay fteenths on their
moveable, non-ecclesiastical goods, while they only paid the tenths imposed
in convocation on their appropriated churches.66 The priors own estates
also appear to have been exempt from taxation until 1474.67 Taken across

Luttrell, English Contributions, passim.
Ibid. 1667; Foedera, v, I, 14, 35, 104; CCR14229, 280; CPR142936, 452; Calendar of
French Rolls, Henry VI, The Forty-Eighth Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public
Records (London, 1887), 217450, at 301, 343.
See above, Ch. 3.2.
Knowles, Religious Orders, iii. 2830, 34; Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 63.
Raban, Mortmain Legislation, passim; Secunda Camera, p. xlvii.
I. D. Thornley, The Destruction of Sanctuary, in R. W. Seton-Watson (ed.), Tudor Studies
Presented . . . to Albert Frederick Pollard (London, 1924), 182207, at 1978, 2001.
J. F. Willard, Parliamentary Taxes on Personal Property, 1290 to 1334 (Cambridge, Mass.,
1934), 967, 100, 130, 135, 136, 167.
CCR13348, 100, 128, 148, 186; CCR136974, 2512; Rot. Parl., iii. 21718; AOM54,
fo. 17r.
Rot. Parl., vi. 115.
122 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

the whole period it was levied on the order, the burden of parliamentary
taxation was not particularly onerous, but it nevertheless constituted a much
greater charge than the order had hitherto been accustomed to bear, and at
times a very substantial one.
Besides direct taxation, the Hospital was also encouraged to make gifts
and loans to the crown. Edward III, in the early years of the Hundred Years
War, and the nancially embarrassed Lancastrian kings were particularly
heavy users of its credit facilities.68 On occasion, it was also expected to
provide hospitality to the king and his entourage or to visiting foreign
dignitaries. With the exception of Edward V, whose residence the Hospital
nearly became, it is probable that every reigning monarch between Henry IV
and Henry VII either visited the prioral headquarters at Clerkenwell, or
spent time on other Hospitaller preceptories and estates.69 Besides the
occasional sojourns of kings, princes, and diplomats, the Hospital was also
expected, like other religious houses, to provide a corrody for retired royal
servants, and even caps to the ministers of the exchequer and receipt, an
obligation which it bought its way out of in 1370.70 As we have seen,
pressure might also be put on the order by courtiers and royal servants for
grants of leases, particularly of properties in and around London.71
Most importantly of all, the crown expected the service of Hospitaller
priors and, to a lesser degree, preceptors resident in England and Wales. This
was understandable. Although not always particularly well educated, by the
time they became priors brethren of the Hospital were widely travelled, had
considerable naval and administrative experience, and might well be pro-
cient in French and Italian. If the extent of their duties did not rival that of
the more important administrator-bishops andabbots of the later Middle
Ages, most priors nevertheless served the crown in a number of different
capacities. In the rst place, although originally summoned as an ecclesias-
tical lord, by 1389 the prior of England was evidently considered to be a
temporal lord and appears to have been a royal councillor ex ofcio.72
Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 378; CPR13348, 186, 549; CPR133840, 99, 108,
116; CCR13469, 263, 269, 270, 383; CPR141622, 279; PPC, ii. 32; A. Steel, The Receipt of
the Exchequer, 13771485 (Cambridge, 1954), 157, 161, 188, 2545; AOM357, fo. 162rv.
Memorials of King Henry VII, ed. J. Gairdner, RS (London, 1858), 109; Chronicle of the
Grey Friars of London, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 1st ser., 52 (London, 1852), 13; PPC, iii. 71; The
Crowland Chronicle Continuation: 14591486, ed. N. Pronay and J. Cox (London, 1986),
1867; Richard III: The Road to Bosworth Field, ed. P. W. Hammond and A. F. Sutton (London,
1985), 1989; Memorials, ed. Gairdner, 129; H. W. Fincham, The Order of the Hospital of
St. John of Jerusalem and its Grand Priory of England, 2nd edn. (London, 1933), 212.
Report, 93, 127; CCR13413, 660; CCR135460, 393; CCR13604, 244; CCR13747,
524; CCR137781, 141; CCR14618, 99. John Pavely paid 300 marks towards the charges of
the kings wars in order to be released from the obligation to provide caps. CPR136770, 456.
See above, 1068.
CCR, passim. In 1389 the prior was listed between the earl of Northumberland and
various barons in council minutes, while in 1400 he was explicitly stated to be a temporal
lord. Priors can often be found attending the council in the surviving records dating from after
1386. PPC, i. 12, 17, 1056, and passim.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 123

As such, he might occasionally hold important ofces of state. Three

priorsJoseph de Chauncey, Robert Hales, and John Langstrother
(146871)served as royal treasurer and another, Robert Botill (1440
68), as privy seal, while Hales and his successor John Radyngton also held
the post of admiral of the western eet.73 More usual, however, were service
on the council, in parliament as a trier of petitions, on commissions of the
peace and of sewers in counties where the prioral estates were concentrated,
and in particular on diplomatic business, whether at home or abroad.74 At
times Robert Botill came close to becoming a professional diplomat on
behalf of the crown, and Thomas Docwra (prior, 150127) was even more
notable in this capacity in the rst quarter of the sixteenth century.75 Pre-
ceptors and simple brethren, too, were occasionally employed on local
commissions and on diplomatic work, although they were more likely to
be used as envoys, couriers, and escorts to dignitaries on their way to court
than to be fully constituted ambassadors with power to treat.76 Despite their
military experience and the orders reluctant concessions that brethren might
ght either in self-defence (1235) or (1367) on behalf of a natural lord,
English brethren, unlike their Irish counterparts, appear to have avoided
military service outside the realm on behalf of the lay power until 1513.77
Thus when Philip de Thame sent a small contingent of men-at-arms to serve
in Scotland at royal request in 1337 he was careful to stress that this should
not serve as a precedent78 and in 1346, summoned to assist in the siege of
Calais, he preferred to bribe his way out of involvement.79 Otherwise the
military contribution the order was expected to make to the war consisted of
arraying troops to defend the realm against invasion or garrisoning vulner-
able coastal towns.80
It is clear that competing royal and conventual claims to prioral loyalties
might lead to conicts of interest. The appointment of a foreigner, Leonardo
de Tibertis, as prior of England in 1330 provided Edward III with an

HBC, 1045, 107, 139; CCR13747, 495, 506, 555; CPR137781, 26, 589; CCR13815,
523; CCR13859, 424; Catalogue des rolles normans, gascons et francais, ed. T. Carte, 2 vols.
(London, 1743), ii. 120, 148.
J. F. Baldwin, The Kings Council in England during the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1913), 123,
1656, 197, 423 n., 429, 4434, 4989, 504, 517; PPC, passim; Calendar of French Rolls, 110
Henry V, The Forty-Fourth Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records
(London, 1883), 543638, passim; Calendar of French Rolls, Henry VI, passim.
Sarnowsky, Kings and Priors, 89; see also, below, Chs. 56.
R. Graham, The English Province of the Order of Cluny in the Fifteenth Century, in ead.,
English Ecclesiastical Studies (London, 1929), 6290, at 70; PPC, iii. 89.
Delaville, Rhodes, 163. Their service at sea was presumably conceived of in terms of the
defence of the realm.
CPR133840, 11.
CPR13458, 211. Nicholson, Hospitallers in England, 38, interprets this episode some-
what differently.
See, e.g. CCR133941, 114, 119, 123, 1245, 1556, 185, 21617, 288; CCR13604, 99;
CPR136974, 568. In February 1400, however, the prior was among those lords promising to
provide men for the kings wars. PPC, i. 1056.
124 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

opportunity to demand fealty as a condition of allowing him seisin, and

kings then proceeded to extract an oath of fealty, which they always swore
under protest, from Tibertiss successors.81 Vassalic status, however con-
tested, brought the further danger that it enabled royal ofcials to argue that
the orders temporalities, like those of bishops, should be taken into the
kings hand during vacancies. On Tibertiss death, therefore, royal eschea-
tors seized the orders estates and it was only when the new prior protested
that the Hospital had been granted them in free alms and that the seizure
was unprecedented that their actions were halted.82 No further attempt to
argue that the prior held his lands by fealty appears to have occurred until
146870, but subsequent royal claims to supervise prioral elections and the
administration of the priory during vacancies, although vague, may have
derived from those advanced by Edward III. The order, indeed, took care to
record both its protest against the oath of fealty and Edwards letter ordering
his escheators to remove their hand from the priory in the cartulary it
assembled in 1442.83
By Henry VIs reign a compromise had been reached and the oath was
more clearly linked to the priors standing and functions in the English
polity. Particularly pertinent in this regard was his status as a lord of
parliament. In 1440 Henry VI claimed that as such he was rst and foremost
a royal councillor, and, while elected by his brethren, should be chosen for
those qualities that suited him for royal service.84 It is perhaps signicant
that it was during the same monarchs reign that prioral visits to Rhodes,
frequent until the 1440s, began regularly to be impeded. Prior Botill was
refused licence to go to Rhodes when summoned in the wake of the fall of
Constantinople, and was again forbidden to proceed there in 1459, as we
have seen.85 The king and councils reluctance to allow the prior out of the
country should be seen in the context of the end of the Hundred Years War
and growing political tensions within the realm. Particularly after the
losses of 144953, continued hostilities with France and pique at Philip
of Burgundys betrayal of the king in 1435 led Henrys government to
refuse to cooperate in papal and Burgundian crusading projects until it
achieved satisfaction of its continental claims, and keeping the prior of
St John at home appears likely to have been calculated to drive this message

CCR13337, 3634; CCR135460, 54; CCR13815, 208; Nicholson, Hospitallers in
England, 35. Despite the orders assertions to the contrary, it is nevertheless worth noting that
the kings representatives claimed in September 1330 that Tibertiss predecessors had done fealty
for both their own and the Templars former lands. CCR13303, 1545.
CCR13337, 3634, 453, 5012, 638.
BL MS Cotton Nero E.vi, fos. 7r, 7rv.
Bekynton Correspondence, i. 789; Sarnowsky, Kings and Priors, 91.
Z. N. Tsirpanlis, Anecdota eggrapha gia te Rodo kai te Noties Sporades apo to archeio ton
Ionniton Ippoton (Unpublished Documents concerning Rhodes and the South-Eastern Aegean
Islands from the Archives of the Order of St John) [in Greek], (Rhodes, 1991), docs. 309, 309A;
Codice diplomatico, ed. Pauli, ii, no. cxvi; see above, 11213.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 125

home.86 Furthermore, in 1459 the crown was determined to associate the

whole body of the nobility with its parliamentary denunciation of the
Yorkist lords,87 and might even have been afraid that if Botill were allowed
to leave he would join them, which indeed he did in 1460. If the last of the
Lancastrians, or his governing clique, kept the prior away from Rhodes for
particular reasons rather than out of principle, Edward IV, who had little
sympathy for the overseas excursions of his magnates, seems to have taken
this practice as a welcome precedent.
Despite the close regulation of priors of the order, and occasional restric-
tions on the export of brethren and responsions, most monarchs supported
and appeared to approve of the hospitals activities. Given that its deance of
the Turks appealed to the most respectable religious and chivalric sensibil-
ities of the age, this is hardly surprising. Nevertheless, it is clear that there
were potential tensions between the English Hospitallers temporal and
spiritual allegiances. On several occasions during the period between 1460
and 1540 these were to rise to the fore and force both monarchs and
Hospitallers to question which of their loyalties was paramount.

5.2 The Yorkist Kings and the Order of St John, 14601485

In July 1460, as a Yorkist army approached London, Robert Botill was

expounding the royal will to convocation.88 He was one of Henry VIs
longest-serving and most trusted councillors, of whom he had been among
the rst admitted to witness the kings recovery of his wits in December
1454, a restoration at which, not inappropriately, Botill burst into tears.89
Nevertheless, past service, old affection, and oaths of allegiance did not
prevent the prior, along with several other prelates, from throwing in his
lot with the Yorkists and accompanying them towards Northampton, where
Warwick defeated the royal army and captured the royal person.90 Botills
reasons for this volte-face can only be conjectured, but royal refusals to
permit him to go to Rhodes, royal contempt for papal crusading initiatives,
the presence by the side of the Yorkist lords of the papal legate, the crusading
enthusiast Coppini, and the overwhelming facts of Henry VIs incapacity to
rule and subjection to a partial and vindictive governing clique must all have
conspired to provide the prior with powerful incentives to support Richard
duke of York and his allies.

J. T. Ferguson, English Diplomacy 142261 (Oxford, 1972), 32.
R. A. Grifths, The Reign of King Henry VI (repr. Stroud, 1998), 825.
Registrum Thome Bourgchier Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi A.D.14541486, ed. F. R. H.
Du Boulay, CYS, 54 (Oxford, 1957), 77; C. L. Scoeld, The Life and Reign of King Edward IV,
2 vols. (London, 1923), i. 78.
Paston Letters, ed. Davis, ii. 108.
Scoeld, Edward IV, i. 87.
126 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

Botills active involvement in regime change appears to have been without

parallel among his predecessors, and was potentially dangerous for his
person and his order, but at rst it appeared to have been vindicated. The
Yorkists, impressively personied by Edward IV, were victorious, and their
opponents forced into exile, with resistance continuing only in the north-
east and north Wales.91 After his accession, Edward IV continued to trust the
ageing prior, who was treated, as before, primarily as a royal servant. Botill
briey had custody of the privy seal in the early 1460s and served on the
council and on commissions of array and of the peace until his death.92
He also continued to be employed on diplomatic business, although he was
now largely conned to treating with foreign ambassadors within the
realm.93 During these years, moreover, the king expressed his support
for the Hospital in a number of ways: by licensing the prior of Rome and
the castellan of Rhodes, John Langstrother, to conduct a visitation of Eng-
land, by reproving the Venetians for their attack on Rhodes in 1464, and
probably by supporting the removal of Thomas Talbot as prior of Ireland
and his replacement with James Keating.94 Although support for the order
sat well with Edwards attempt to rule in accord with chivalric expectations
of royal conduct in his rst years as king,95 such expressions of approval
required little exertion and were quite conventional. And there is other,
contrasting, evidence which suggests that the king had a distinct and unsen-
timental vision of the order barely compatible with its priorities and
Convinced though he was of Botills reliability, Edward appears to have
been less sure of the loyalties of some of the other brethren. In 1463 he had
supported, and perhaps even proposed an arrangement by which the turco-
polier, William Dawney, a former associate of the fervently Lancastrian
James Butler, earl of Wiltshire, was to surrender his preceptory to a conven-
tual knight, Marmaduke Lumley.96 Moreover, in the following year, Daw-
neys lieutenant as turcopolier, John Weston, who had complained to the
orders council about Lumleys conduct in this matter, was summoned home
from Rhodes on a charge of disloyalty.97 Evidence against him had perhaps
been provided by a conventual knight, John Boswell, who had gone to
Crete on the service of John Langstrother in March 1464 and while there

C. Ross, Edward IV (Berkeley, Calif., 1974), 2263.
Baldwin, Kings Council, 422, 423 n., 429; Select Cases before the Kings Council 1243
1482, ed. I. S. Leadam and J. F. Baldwin, Selden Society, 35 (Cambridge, Mass., 1918), 11415;
CPR14617, 567.
CPR14617, 102, 115; Catalogue des rolles, ed. Carte, ii. 357, 358.
Foedera, v, II, 105 (calendared in CPR14617, 52); CSPV, i, nos. 3978; see below, Ch. 7.
M. A. Hicks, Idealism in Late-Medieval English Politics, in id., Richard III and his Rivals:
Magnates and their Motives in the Wars of the Roses (London, 1991), 4160; Hughes, Arthur-
ian Myths, passim.
AOM374, fo. 139rv.
AOM73, fo. 158r; mentioned in Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 1945.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 127

had absconded on a Venetian galley travelling to England.98 There is no

direct evidence as to what might have motivated Boswells ight, for which
he was deprived of the habit, but it is suggestive that he was pardoned and
readmitted into the order at the specic request of the king in December
1466.99 No further action appears to have been taken against Weston, but
the suspicion that the king saw the langue as unsound is intensied by a
licence granted to Botill in 1467 to admit ve brother knights at royal
request.100 Might this have been an attempt to ensure the loyalty of future
Hospitallers to the Yorkist dynasty?
On Botills death in September 1468 the kings distrust and desire to
reduce the order to his will became fully apparent. According to the pro-
Neville pseudo-William Worcestre, the very greatest disturbance occurred
when Edward suddenly attempted to impose his wifes brother, Richard
Wydeville, on the order as prior, the brethren at once electing John Langstr-
other in response.101 The dramatic and unprecedented nature of this inter-
vention should be emphasized. No previous king of England had interfered
so directly in a prioral election, and Wydeville, a youth of about 20 who was
not even professed, was hardly a suitable candidate to govern a military-
religious order whose promotion system was accustomed to reward conven-
tual service, seniority, and experience rather more than birth and royal
favour. Langstrother, by contrast, was everything that Wydeville was not.
He had been received into the Hospital as a brother knight by 1435 and had
enormous diplomatic and administrative experience in its service. Most of
his career had been spent in the east, where he held at various times the
important conventual ofces of castellan of Rhodes, captain of Bodrum,
proctor of the common treasury, magistral seneschal, and grand preceptor of
Cyprus.102 He had also served as a diplomat, visitor, and collector of the
Jubilee indulgence in various western priories, and receiver of the priories of
England and Ireland.103 By 1468, moreover, he held no less than six of the
twenty-one English preceptories not in prioral hands, including the baili-
wick of Eagle.104 His collection of beneces brought him considerable
wealth, much of which he disbursed to the orders hungry creditors, which

AOM374, fos. 141v, 141v142r; 73, fos. 133v134r, 135v136r.
AOM374, fos. 141v142r; 376, fo. 155r.
AOM376, fo. 157v.
Annales rerum anglicarum, ed. Stevenson, 791; Ross, Edward IV, 96 n. E. J. King, The
Knights of St. John in the British Realm, 3rd edn., revised and continued by H. Luke (London,
1967), 72, misdates Botills passing to 1467.
AOM351, fo. 135r; 361, fo. 352rv; 363, fos. 234v, 285v; 364, fo. 119r; 283, fo. 5v.
AOM362, fos. 126v127r, 127v, 132v133r, 192v193r; 363, fos. 184v185r and 265v,
261v262r; 364, fos. 119r, 133r136r, 138v139r; 369, fos. 217v, 271v272r; Tsirpanlis, Anek-
dota, 6634; Foedera, v, II, 53, 57; CPL, x. 2613, 265; AOM358, fo. 229r; 362, fos. 126v127r.
Besides Eagle, these were the preceptories of Balsall, Beverley, Halston, Ribston, and
Yeaveley. Grants in AOM73, fo. 128r; 374, fo. 141r; 357, fo. 150r; 358, fos. 226v227v; 361, fo.
243 ; 365, fos. 117v118r; 366, fos. 115v116r, 117r.
128 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

can only have increased his standing in convent.105 Langstrothers seniority,

experience, and afuence virtually precluded any other candidate.
The king, as we have seen, had apparently trusted Langstrother enough to
allow him to conduct a visitation in 14612, and in the following year he
had been appointed to a commission to arrest Humphrey Neville and bring
him before the council.106 But, leaving aside the possibility that he had been
implicated in the charges against John Weston, a conjecture for which there
is no supporting evidence, there were two reasons in particular why Edward
might have changed his mind about the bailiff of Eagle. Most importantly,
Langstrother had been associated with Warwick in the 1450s and by 1468
the king was quite determined not to improve the earls position any fur-
ther.107 Instituting Wydeville instead both strengthened the kings own hand,
and also tted neatly with the policy of providing for his wifes relatives
which was so marked a feature of the period after 1464. A primary condition
for their advancement seems to have been that it should not be at the crowns
expense, hence the Wydeville stranglehold on the aristocratic marriage
market in the late 1460s, and the advancement of young Richard to one of
the richest beneces in England fullled this criterion admirably.108 Sec-
ondly, there are indications that the king opposed the decision of the
Rome chapter-general to increase responsions from a third-to a half-annate
in February 1467. Langstrother had had an important part in deciding this,
for he had sat on the committee that drafted the 1467 statutes, and was
elected proctor of the common treasury during the course of the chapter.109
The convents later censure of William Tornay, the receiver of the priory of
England between 1461 and 1471, drew attention to discrepancies among his
accounts for the years following this meeting and the English representatives
at the next chapter, held in 1471, promised to pay the half-annate then
reimposed themselves but refused to bind their fellows in England to do
the same.110 Reluctance to consent to the imposition of a half-annate prob-
ably increased the kings determination to reduce the order more closely to
his will.
Existing accounts have accepted that Langstrother was in England at the
time of his election, but in fact he was in the east.111 His absence from

Between October 1467 and November 1468, for example, he handed about 2,200 to
various of the orders creditors. AOM 377, fos. 181r, 182v, 190r191r, 207r.
CPR14617, 52; Willis, Langstrother, 35.
M. A. Hicks, False, Fleeting, Perjurd Clarence: George, Duke of Clarence 14491478
(Gloucester, 1980), 48.
J. R. Lander, Marriage and Politics: The Nevilles and the Wydevilles, BIHR 36 (1963),
11952; M. A. Hicks, The Changing Role of the Wydevilles in Yorkist Politics to 1483 in id.,
Richard III, 20928, esp. 21117.
AOM283, fos. 30v, 11r, 5v; CPL, xii. 2823.
AOM74, fo. 152r; 283, fo. 61v.
He had been appointed preceptor of Cyprus on 8 Nov. 1468, but was still in Rhodes on
about 14 December. AOM377, fos. 241r242r, 242rv.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 129

England, and the custom that the priory be governed by its president and
convent during vacancy years gave the order breathing space in which to
devise a strategy by which Wydevilles appointment could be overturned.
Although an unnamed prior of the order, presumably Wydeville, was
present in the royal council on 15 November 1468, six days later the
president and convent of the vacant priory were recorded presenting to a
benece, which may indicate that they had persuaded the king to delay
instituting Wydeville as prior until the representations of the convent should
be heard.112
The response to these events in Rhodes was distinctly cautious. Although
news of Botills death had arrived by January 1469, nothing was done about
the disputed succession to the priory until 5 April.113 Langstrother was then
appointed lieutenant and vicegerent of the master and convent in England
and Ireland and instructed to examine the knights of the English priory and
institute a worthy and sufcient brother into possession.114 Given charge
of the priorys nances on 14 April, on the 16th he was licensed to leave
Rhodes and instructed to go before Edward IV, present the masters letters,
and explain that because of the vacancy in the priory he had been dispatched
to order its affairs and to supplicate that it should be provided to an
appropriate knight-brother, instituted according to its statutes and customs.
These, he was to point out, had been violated by the king, whose institution
of Wydeville both breached the promises of his predecessors and would set a
bad example to other princes. Langstrother, therefore, was to request that
the collation to the priory be remitted to the order.115 The convents reaction
to the disputed election was thus both rm and exible: the master and
council insisted that the priory should be in the orders gift rather than the
kings but were probably willing to countenance the election of someone
other than Langstrother as long as the correct form was upheld.116 The latter
was even, on 2 August 1469, given power to admit Wydeville as a professed
knight.117 It was only on 5 April 1470, by which time the convent must have
been certied of Langstrothers acceptability by the king, that bulls were
issued appointing him prior.118

CPR146777, 1312; Registrum Bourgchier, ed. Du Boulay, 294. The patent roll does
not supply the name of the prior.
AOM377, fo. 143r.
AOM378, fo. 148r.
AOM378, fos. 162r163v, 163v164v, 231rv.
The lack of council records between 1467 and March 1470 makes it difcult to determine
the intentions behind the orders issued in April 1469, but from the analogous case of Weston
versus Multon in 14747 it appears that the convent, while anxious that undeserving candidates
should not be raised to the priorate, refused to give explicit support to their more worthy rivals
until these should be acceptable to the king.
AOM378, fos. 149v150r.
AOM379, fos. 140r141v.
130 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

How the king might have responded to Langstrothers mission in the

absence of any more urgent business cannot now be known, as the latter
arrived in England at a time of acute political turmoil. On 12 July 1469
Warwick issued a manifesto from Calais condemning various aspects of
government policy for which he blamed those around the king. It is not
known whether Langstrother returned home via Calais, and still less if he
had reached it by this time, but among the manifesto articles was one
criticizing Edwards advisers for the kings seizure of crusading levies for
his own purposes, which might perhaps indicate Hospitaller inuence.119 In
any case Langstrother and Warwick were soon as thick as thieves. They later
shared a place on the list of those accused of responsibility for the murder of
the Wydevilles at the end of July, and with the king then effectively War-
wicks captive Langstrother prospered, being summoned to parliament as
prior on 10 August and appointed treasurer of England in place of the
executed Rivers six days later.120 After his recovery of power in mid-
September, Edward showed his distrust by removing Langstrother from
the treasurership and waiting until 18 November to admit him as prior.121
He also insisted on enrolling the new priors oath of fealty, a practice not
followed since the reign of Richard II, and may even have laid claim to the
fruits of the priorys vacancy year, for which Langstrother was required to
answer on 21 February 1470.122 This was not only virtually unprecedented,
but it must have also have imposed a very heavy nancial burden on the
prior, who was also expected to make mortuary and vacancy payments to
Rhodes. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Langstrother remained
one of Warwicks most loyal adherents throughout the upheavals of 14701.
On 7 March 1470, the day after the king left London to deal with risings in
the north of England, Clarence, Welles, Langstrother, and others kept theire
counseill secretly at Saynt Johannez before Clarence left the capital to
rendezvous with Warwick.123 On Edwards return to the capital at the end
of the month, with the other conspirators dead or exiled, Langstrother was
arestyd and yood a seson undyr suyrte of the archbishop of Canterbury. Yet
in view of the rebels escape overseas the prior was too dangerous to remain
under clerical oversight and was moved to the tower, where he remained
until Henry VIs restoration at the beginning of October.124 A further
dimension to Langstrothers involvement in the Lincolnshire rising is pro-

J. Warkworth, A Chronicle of the First Thirteen Years of the Reign of King Edward the
Fourth, ed. J. O. Halliwell, CS, 1st ser., 10 (London, 1839), 4651, at 49; Gross, Dissolution,
Hicks, False, 48.
CCR146876, no. 407; Hicks, False, 53.
CCR146876, no. 407; CPR146777, p. 189.
Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire, ed. J. G. Nichols in Camden Miscellany I,
CS, 1st ser., 39 (London, 1847), 8.
The Great Chronicle of London, ed. A. H. Thomas and I. D. Thornley (London, 1938),
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 131

vided by the pardon issued to William Tornay, the bailiff of Eagle and
receiver of the common treasury, on 28 July 1470 for all offences committed
before the eleventh of that month.125 Although as receiver Tornay probably
resided in London, the farmer of Eagle, John Barton, was also granted a
general pardon in January 1472, as again was Tornay in February.126 While
these pardons were granted in connection with the events of 1471 it seems
highly likely that Barton or Tornay acted as a link between Langstrother and
the Lincolnshire rebels in the previous year.
On his release from prison, the prior committed himself fully to the
restored Lancastrian regime. On 20 October 1470 he was reappointed
treasurerthe only main ofce of state that did not go to a Nevilleand
on 24 February 1471 joint warden of the exchange and mint, while he also
served on the commissions of the peace appointed in January. The prior was
trusted enough by both the old Lancastrian nobility and Warwick himself to
be asked to accompany Queen Margaret and Prince Edward home from
France in February, and it was in two of his own ships that the Lancastrian
party sailed from Honeur on 13 April, landing at Weymouth on Easter
Sunday. Langstrother then remained with the queen during the march to
Tewkesbury. He shared command of the Lancastrian centre during the battle
and took refuge after the defeat in the abbey. Neither this sanctuary nor his
regular status could save him from being dragged out and executed on
6 May.127
Langstrother had compromised himself hopelessly by his support for
Warwick in 146971, yet it was surely Edwards treatment of him and his
order which had driven him to such deance. The king had attempted to
deprive him of the ofce which his seniority and distinguished service
merited, had forced him to swear fealty and to account for the revenues of
the Hospital, and had caused these humiliations to be enrolled in the ofcial
records, something he resented enough to procure their cancellation during
the Readeption.128 Finally, the prior had been incarcerated in the tower for
several months before Henry VIs restoration. It is scarcely surprising that he
took the eld at Tewkesbury.
Nevertheless, from the convents point of view, Langstrothers actions had
scarcely been wise, and might have prompted Edward to take more stringent
action against the order than in fact followed. That is not to say that he gave
the Hospital an easy ride. Langstrothers successor, William Tornay, appears
to have succeeded him with little difculty. He was elected by the council
on Rhodes on 28 August 1471 but this merely conrmed a previous vote in
England, for Tornay, as prior, had sworn fealty to Edward prince of Wales on

CPR146777, 217.
Ibid. 316, 306.
Foedera, v, II, 189; Historie of the Arrivall of Edward IV in England, ed. J. Bruce, CS, 1st
ser., 2 (London, 1838), 22, 28, 31.
CPR146777, 2312.
132 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

3 July.129 Tornay, a member of the order since the 1440s, had been receiver
of the common treasury since 1461 and bailiff of Eagle since Langstrothers
promotion to the priorate, and might have been considered a safe pair of
hands after the excesses of his predecessor. On 22 December 1472, however,
he was cited to Rhodes to justify his accounts for 146672, in which very
grave discrepancies had been found. Large sums had been expended on gifts
for obtaining graces, payments to lawyers and envoys at times when the
priory had been void, on the liquidation of Langstrothers debts, and on
excessive and exorbitant payments made at Clerkenwell when the priory
was vacant and its expenses should have been less. Until Tornay had made
proper satisfaction Renier Pot, preceptor of Chalons, was appointed proctor
of the Hospital in England, with power to seize those camerae pertaining to
the priory itself and all Tornays other assets. Their rule was to be committed
to the bailiff of Eagle, Robert Tonge, and Tornays successor as receiver of
the priory, Miles Skayff, was also to be removed from his post.130 Discrep-
ancies in Langstrothers spolia also resulted in proceedings being instituted
against John Kendal by the ofcers of the common treasury in January
Tornays summons to Rhodes and the threatened sequestration of his
assets were a signicant vote of conventual no condence in the administra-
tion of the priory of England. But it seems likely that the priorys relations
with the crown, rather than mismanagement, were at the heart of the
dispute. Tornay, indeed, had such a reputation for probity and competence
that in 1472 parliament had appointed him an overseer of the collection of
the fteenth and tenth designated for war with France, which the commons
were suspicious the king would appropriate for other ends.132 Moreover, the
heavy expenditure on bribes, and payments to lawyers and messengers and
the fact that as wealthy a knight as Langstrother had left signicant debts
would all seem to reect royal pressure both during the disputed vacancy
and afterwards. Royal acceptance of his position may have cost Langstr-
other heavily in 146970, and his incarceration in the tower not three weeks
after he had been granted its revenues cannot have helped him collect them.
They may even have been seized by the crown. Additionally, Langstrother
may have been ned for his part in the Lincolnshire risings, as also may
Tornay, who secured a second royal pardon on 18 February 1472 and was
put under a bond of 300 at the same time as those implicated in the Bastard
of Fauconbergs attack on London. Three prominent prioral servants,
Richard Passemer, John Fermour, and Richard Sheldon, were pardoned at
the same time and were party to the same obligation. Passemer had been

AOM74, fo. 88v; CCR146876, no. 858. Bulls were issued naming Tornay as prior on
29 Aug. AOM379, fo. 146r.
AOM381, fos. 158v160r, 161v162r, 163rv; CPL, xiii. 216.
AOM74, fos. 154v155v.
Gross, Dissolution, 128; Ross, Edward IV, 215.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 133

particularly heavily involved in the events of 146971, having served as

controller of the petty custom and of tunnage and poundage in London
and adjacent ports during both Langstrothers terms as treasurer.133
Despite the dramatic tone of the convents letters of 1472, Tornay was
able to reach agreement with Pot over his disputed accounts, for on 20 April
1474 news of a concord between the prior and the proctors of the common
treasury was signied to the orders council.134 Certainly there is no evidence
that Tornay went to Rhodes to defend himself, for on 2 December 1473 and
24 May 1474 he is to be found in England, presenting to beneces in the
priorys gift. This would also suggest that Pot had not been allowed to
sequester Tornays assets and preceptories.135 Yet nancial problems con-
tinued to dog the priors relationship with the convent. On 19 April 1474, a
new receiver, William Weston, was appointed, with the usual instructions to
collect revenues and compel debtors to payment. More pointedly, Robert
Multon was commissioned on the 14th of the same month to require
payment of the substantial arrears owed for the nancial years ending
June 1473 and 1474 so that creditors granted assignments on the priorys
revenues might be reimbursed.136
Tornays death, probably in early August 1474, occasioned another ser-
ious split between Edward IV and the Hospital. On 21 August Robert
Multon, having been elected by its brethren in England, was presented to
the king as prior and swore fealty.137 Although he was put forward by
several preceptorsJohn Malory, Marmaduke Lumley, John Turberville,
and John Kendalthe new prior was unacceptable to the convent on
Rhodes. Multon seems to have been marked out for advancement, as the
commission of April 1474 and his service as a representative of the English
langue on the council complete between 1470 and 1473 demonstrate, but he
lacked the seniority and experience appropriate to the dignity of prior, and
had only been a preceptor since April 1470.138 Knights like Robert Tonge
and John Weston, who had served since before 1450 and held signicant
administrative posts, were unquestionably more qualied. Westons vigor-
ous conventual service as turcopolier and the past service of his family to the
order were particularly strong arguments in his favour.139

CPR146777, 306; CCR146876, 2267; Ross, Edward IV, 183; CPR146777, 168,
231. Passemer was the scribe of the orders common treasury in England from 1459 and
Fermour, on his demise c.1489, the farmer of the preceptory of Quenington, while Sheldon
was the priors chief auditor until his death in 1496. AOM369, fo. 198v; 393, fo. 112rv; 390,
fos. 134rv; Lansdowne 200, fo. 42r.
AOM382, fo. 136r.
Registrum Bourgchier, ed. Du Boulay, 315, 317.
AOM382, fos. 148v149v, 147r148r.
CCR146876, 380.
AOM382, fos. 147r148r; 74, fos. 20v, 31v32r, 56r, 56v57r, 59rv; 75, fos. 23v24r; 379,
fos. 142v143r. Multon rst appears as a conventual knight on 7 July 1463, along with twelve
other brethren of the langue, at least nine of whom were still alive in 1474. AOM374, fo. 139r.
See above, Ch. 2.1, and below, Ch 8.4.
134 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

Yet Multon was eminently agreeable to the king. Langstrother, Tornay,

and, at least initially, John Weston were kept at arms length as far as
employment on government business was concerned and none was ever
employed on an important domestic commission by Edward. By contrast,
within a year of his appointment Multon was commissioned to take muster
of soldiers proceeding to France and was appointed temporary warden of
the east and middle marches towards Scotland until the earl of Northum-
berland should return from France.140 Multons activities on behalf of the
crown and his relative obscurity before his election suggest that he was a
royal candidate promoted over the heads of his fellows. In particular, he
appears to have had close ties to the earl of Northumberland. In addition to
serving as his deputy in 1475, Multon was at the head of Northumberlands
feed-men when Henry VII made his entry into York in 1485.141
Royal and aristocratic approval alone did not make Multon any more
acceptable in Rhodes than it had Wydeville. Yet the response to his appoint-
ment, perhaps understandably given recent events, was still more cautious
than that to the disputed election of 1468. On 27 February 1475, John
Weston, the turcopolier, and Multons proctors appeared in Rhodes to
press their claims to the priory.142 It was decided that neither should be
issued with title to it until the kings will was known, but this did not mean
that the convent had assumed a neutral stance. At the same meeting it was
decided that for the honour and favour of the turcopolier, he should be
made lieutenant of the order in Italy, Germany, and England, and that letters
of commendation should be drawn up for him so that he, or anyone he
should appoint to lobby for him, might obtain the priory.143 Yet, perhaps
because the order was waiting for news from England, it was some time
before these recommendations were implemented. Westons procuration in
the west was not formally issued until 21 March, and he was not licensed to
leave the convent until 17 June.144
In the meantime, Multon continued to occupy the priory undisturbed, as
the evidence of bishops registers demonstrates.145 Protected no doubt by
conventual fear of incurring Edward IVs displeasure, he was neither ordered
to remove himself from the priory nor cited to Rhodes. Active measures

CPR146777, 526, 545.
Plumpton Correspondence, ed. Stapleton, p. xcvi; J. Leland, De rebus brittanicis collec-
tanea, ed. T. Hearne, 6 vols. (London, 1770), iv. 185.
AOM75, fos. 69v70r. Robert Tonge, bailiff of Eagle, who had protested in 1471 that he
was as ancient as Tornay, and that the latters election to the priorate should not be to his
prejudice, appears to have lost interest in the dignity by 1474. AOM74, fos. 88v89r.
AOM75, fos. 69v70r.
AOM382, fos. 153r, 139r.
The Registers of Robert Stillington Bishop of Bath and Wells 14661491 and Richard
Fox Bishop of Bath and Wells 14921494, ed. H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, Somerset Record Society, 52
(London, 1937), nos. 311, 341, 358, 362; Registrum Thome Myllyng, Episcopi Herefordensis.
A.D.MCCCCLXXIVMCCCCXCII, ed. A. T. Bannister, CYS, 26 (London, 1920), 187.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 135

against him commenced only in June 1475, as Weston prepared to travel to

England. On 14 June all licences to English brethren to receive knights into
the order were cancelled, while six days later Multons commission as
proctor of the common treasury in England was revoked, depriving him of
his only conventually derived claim to any form of authority over his
brethren.146 Moreover, with one exception, in which he was styled pre-
ceptor, assignments made on the orders English revenues by a hopeful
convent between May 1475 and January 1476 were addressed to an un-
named prior and receiver rather than to Multon. These may not have been
honoured, for no more were issued until September 1477, by which time a
new prior and receiver had been appointed.147
While Multon was being snubbed, his rival was accorded every mark of
respect and favour. Westons debts to the convent were remitted to a later
date, he was assured that when he was granted a commandery of grace he
could hold it in conjunction with the priory, and he was provided with letters
in his favour addressed to Edward IV and requesting that collation to the
priory should be remitted to the convent on Rhodes.148 The turcopolier
seems to have returned to England by way of Rome. He had been instructed
to seek papal dispensation for leaving the convent when licensed to depart in
1475, as the orders brethren at headquarters had been ordered to remain
there during the Jubilee Year, and on 18 September Sixtus IV granted him
membership of the papal household, with a safe conduct whenever he should
be on papal business.149 By the time he reached England, probably in early
1476, Sixtus had also appointed him prior. Given the traditional English
hostility to papal provisions, Westons acquisition of papal letters was
foolish, but the king appears to have blamed the issuer rather than the
recipient. On 25 February 1476 he wrote to Rome complaining that Wes-
tons import of letters recommending him as prior was an infringement of
the rights of the crown. The usual procedure, he stated, was for the prior to
be elected in England, presented to and conrmed by the king, and then
conrmed at Rhodes by magistral bull.150
The letters the turcopolier was carrying from the master and convent
appear to have been of more value to him. Although Multon continued to
exercise the ofce of prior until at least November 1476, after he had
received their letters the king seems to have accepted the principal that the
collation to the priory should ultimately be in the hands of the master and
convent. On 27 May 1476 Westons proctors appeared in Rhodes and
reported that Edward had written that he was content to grant the turcopo-
lier possession should he obtain bulls providing him with the priory. The

AOM382, fos. 138v, 139rv.
Ibid., fos. 177v, 172v173r, 177rv, 175v176r, 176r; 385, fo. 162r.
AOM382, fos. 139v140r, 138v139r; AOM75, fo. 117r.
AOM75, fo. 83v; CPL, xiii. 281.
CSPV, i, no. 452.
136 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

orders council, however, was suspicious, considering that Edward had taken
so long to reply to the letters dispatched with Weston, and it was decided
that no further action should be taken until the kings response was certainly
known.151 Thus, despite Westons claim to have royal approval and the issue
of further papal letters conrming his collation on 1 June, he was not elected
and conrmed as prior until 24 July 1476.152 His preferral was, moreover,
hedged about with conditions. In case the king raised further objections, no
provision was to be made of the turcopoliers bailiwick or preceptories until
the convent was certied of his having taken possession of the priory.
Furthermore, rather than send the bulls collating him directly to the new
prior, they were to be entrusted to an ambassador who would show them
rst to the king and assure him that they would not be consigned to the
turcopolier without royal assent.153 The ambassador, the draper Nicholas
Zapplana, appointed on 8 August, was further instructed to arrange for
payment of the 9,000 ecus owed for Tornays mortuaries and vacancies
before Weston was given possession.154 In the event of the king refusing to
accept Weston, Multon was to be collated on condition he promised to
satisfy the mortuary and vacancy payments.155
By October 1477 Weston was in post and fullling his prioral func-
tions.156 No further action was taken against Multon, who retained his
preceptory until his death in 1493, but was not granted any further dignities
or ofces in the order and was not summoned to Rhodes during the crisis of
147981.157 He may have been too busy to leave the realm. His career in the
royal service revived in the reign of Henry VII; he was appointed surveyor of
the port of Newcastle in August 1487; granted 20 by privy seal in the
following year; and made deputy lieutenant of the east and middle marches
towards Scotland in December 1490. Multon was styled variously our
trusty and well beloved knight and counsellor and oon of the knightes of
Sainct Johns of Jerusalem in these documents.158 His royal service perhaps
shielded him from the actions of his religious superiors again, for he had
been summoned to convent to account for arrears in his responsions in
October 1489, and appears not to have obeyed.159
Registrum Myllyng, ed. Bannister, 187; AOM75, fo. 117r.
AOM383, fos. 142r143v; CPL, xiii. 62.
AOM75, fos. 131r132v. An (imperfect) transcript of this document made by H. Finc-
ham, a former librarian at St Johns Gate, is translated and discussed in Grosss Dissolution,
1312, 12730. It does not wholly support Dr Grosss contention that rival elections by the
English brethren threw up Multon and Weston as opposing candidates. The election of Weston
referred to in the original text is that by the master and council of the order on Rhodes. He may
have been elected by the English langue rst, but this is not mentioned in the text.
AOM383, fos. 170v171v, 184v185r, 249v250r. The draper was the conventual bailiff
of the langue of Aragon.
AOM75, fos. 131r132v.
Registers Stillington and Fox, ed. Maxwell-Lyte, no. 649.
AOM391, fo. 200v.
Materials . . . Henry VII, ed. Campbell, ii. 163, 393, 533, 557.
AOM390, fo. 133v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 137

The reasons behind Edward IVs initial support for Multon and procras-
tination over Westons appointment must remain conjectural, but Multons
military service and the charges of disobedience laid against Weston in 1465
certainly suggest royal involvement in the affair, a conjecture corroborated
by the decision of the chapter of 1478 to hold subsequent elections to all the
orders European priories in Rhodes.160
The election of the prior in England per se does not seem to have been the
problem. Whatever the orders statutes said to the contrary, all priors of
England were elected there and (probably) presented to the monarch before
conrmation in Rhodes in the period between 1417 and 1471, and in this
case, too, the convent did not formally appoint Weston until it had made
sure of royal approval.161 Sixtus IV was not so concerned to uphold the
royal prerogative, and may have contributed to the delay in Westons acce-
ptance by the king. Besides suspicion of Weston, and a desire to demonstrate
his authority over the order, the king perhaps also opposed the dispatch of
the fruits of the vacancy of the priory overseas, as he seems to have done in
14689. By mid-1476 Multon had paid no part of Tornays mortuaries and
vacancies, which might indicate royal refusal to allow these out of the
country, although licences to John Kendal in 1475 and John Weston in
1477 to ship cloth to the Mediterranean at least demonstrate that some
dues were being sent to Rhodes.162
After his initial suspicion the king appears to have become quite trusting
of the new prior. In many ways, his was a model priorate. Despite the
political upheavals of the time Weston maintained cordial relations with
Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII without apparent difculty, although
his absence from the country in 1483 must have facilitated this. He also
retained the favour of Sixtus IV, and between 1481 and 1484 travelled to
Italy and Rhodes, the last visit to the convent by an incumbent prior before
the dissolution. Yet there is evidence that he suffered nancial difculties
throughout his priorate, possibly as a result of the burden imposed on him in
1476, which his exclusion from the prioral dignity cannot have helped him
to meet. Thus Westons occupation of virtually every English preceptory
which became vacant during the rst years of his priorate, while chiey

ne ad eos promoveantur qui minus apti et ignari rerum ordinis sunt . . . statuimus . . . quod
baiulivi aut priores seu Castellanus Emposte in prioratibus vel castellania Emposte In Capitulis
provincialibus vel extra nullo pacto elegi possint sed tantum dictes electiones per Magistrum et
consilium ordinarium eri debeant. AOM283, fo. 183r. A further adverse comment on Mul-
tons administration was provided by an enactment that the common seal of the prior and
brethren of the order in England was not to be used except in provincial chapters at which at
least four brethren, besides the prior, should be present. Ibid., fos. 183rv.
Thus William Hulles, appointed in Constance in July 1417, appears in England as prior in
the preceding month; Robert Mallory, appointed in Rhodes in May 1433, appears in England as
prior in July 1432, and Robert Botill, elected by his brethren in England in April 1440, was
formally provided in Rhodes on 29 Nov. AOM340, fos. 116rv; CPR141622, 279; Field, Sir
Thomas Malory, 70; Bekynton Correspondence, i. 801; AOM354, fos. 207v208r.
AOM383, fos. 184r185r; CPR146777, 506; CPR 147785; 58.
138 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

occasioned by his disagreement with the langue over their respective rights
to allocate houses, probably also served a useful nancial purpose in allow-
ing him to exploit the occupied estates. His determination to maximize
income and minimize expenditure is further evidenced by the issue in De-
cember 1479 of papal letters rebuking him for failing to maintain proper
hospitality and for felling timber belonging to the priory. Additionally, he
continued to withhold preceptories from his brethren until his arrival in
Rhodes in 1482, and ignored letters obligatory under which he was bound to
pay 223 to the Catalan merchants Lluis and Guillem Badorch.163 As late as
October 1483, Weston was in dispute with the common treasury over sums
still owed for Tornays vacancies.164 Had he not been excluded from the
priory and its fruits for so long, it is doubtful whether he would have faced
such difculties.
Nevertheless, his relations with Edward IV became relatively cordial. On
24 August 1480 Weston was substituted onto an embassy sent to Louis XI to
demand the solemnization of the union of the dauphin and the lady Eliza-
beth, presumably because he would then also have the opportunity to lobby
the French king on behalf of the beleaguered island of Rhodes. Returning to
the royal presence in mid-November, Weston held the spice plate during the
christening of the kings daughter Bridget.165 Despite this new-found con-
dence, however, the kings reaction to the siege of Rhodes was, if not
ungenerous, rather ambivalent. Certainly, the turcopolier John Kendal was
allowed to publish indulgences and collect indulgence money for the relief of
the island throughout the crowns dominions, and some printed indulgences
survive as evidence of his activity.166 Furthermore, on 30 April 1480, the
master and convent of Rhodes were taken under the kings protection, given
the right to display the royal arms, and assured that should they be attacked
by Christian pirates the king would issue letters of marque against their
assailants.167 Practical material assistance was also afforded towards the
defence. Edward wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury in August 1480 to
inform him that he was contributing an 800-ton ship, the Margaret Howard,
to the order and lending another. He urged the archbishop and clergy to
contribute too, and more than 60 was raised in the diocese of Worcester
alone.168 Although there is no indication in the records that the vessels ever
reached Rhodes, which suggests that they were detained when news came to

CPL, xiii. 253; AOM76, fo. 80v; AOM387, fo. 117r.
AOM76, fos. 160r161r.
Foedera, v, III, 112; Cely Letters, ed. Hanham, nos. 98, 102, 108.
Foedera, v, III, 103; Preston, Lancashire Record Ofce, RCHy 3/16 (31 Mar. 1480/1 to
John Hawardyne); Duff, Fifteenth Century Books, nos. 2048. The text of one of Kendals
indulgences, granted to Dame Joan Plumpton on 22 April 1480, is given in Plumpton Corres-
pondence, ed. Stapleton, 11819. I am grateful to Dr Joseph Gribbin for providing details of the
indulgence issued to Hawardyne.
CPR147785, 1934 (my italics).
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 5923.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 139

England of the raising of the siege at the end of the year,169 the king also
granted the order the parish church of Boston on 5 May, for which he
recompensed the abbey of St Marys, York, the former impropriators, with
80 marks per annum from the fee-farm of the duchy of Lancaster. In return
for this benefaction the Hospital was expected to hand over its rather less
valuable estate at Beaumont Leys in Leicestershire to the crown.170 Finally,
on 1 November 1480, the king licensed Weston and Kendal to export 320
grainless cloths from Southampton without payment of subsidy.171
Nevertheless, the king was unsympathetic to the urgent requests from the
convent for Westons presence there. On 24 July 1479 the prior and four
named preceptors were summoned to Rhodes and required to present them-
selves by April 1480. Another order, to Weston and nine of his fellows,
followed in November, and on 28 May 1480, shortly after the appearance of
a substantial Turkish eet before the island, all the orders brethren were
instructed to come to the relief of the beleaguered convent with munitions
and victuals. A further mandate of 23 September 1480, promulgated in the
belief that a second siege was imminent, required the presence of Weston,
eight English preceptors and the preceptor of Torphichen, the prior of
Ireland, James Keating, and six commanders whom he should deem
The response of Weston and his brethren to the earlier of these summons is
difcult to gauge but the news from Rhodes was certainly taken seriously.
Richard Cely the Younger, writing to his brother George in Calais in June
1480, asked for more news for Weston, who sent to him each week for
tidings. And whilst government business kept the prior from obeying the
summons between August and October, he attempted to comply with the
mandate of that September, for a letter of January 1481 reported that he had
been summoned by the master of Rhodes but refused permission to leave by
the king, and was instead engaged in examining the royal ordinance in the
tower.173 It is grimly ironic that, as the convent of his order lay half ruined
and bereft of munitions after a savage siege and subsequent earthquake, the
prior of St John of Jerusalem was prevented from going to the aid of his
brethren because he had to assess the materiels in the Tower of London to

The records of the orders council note the arrival in Rhodes of vessels of several
nationalities during and after the siege, and Edward IVs are not among them.
CPR147785, 230, 235, 241; CCR147685, nos. 7334, 741, 778; Rot. Parl., vi.
Overseas Trade of London, ed. Cobb, no. 282. These were packed in London and taken
by cart to Southampton. Ibid., nos. 2827, 31415.
Besides Weston, Thomas Green, Marmaduke Lumley, William Weston, and the preceptor
of Torphichen, William Knollis, were summoned in July 1479. In November were added the
prior of Ireland, James Keating, the bailiff of Eagle, Robert Tonge, John Boswell, Miles Skayff,
John Turberville, and Robert Eagleseld. In the following May John Kendal, who had been on
the orders business in Italy and England in 147980, was added in place of Tonge. AOM387,
fos. 126v, 9v, 5v, 26rv.
Cely Letters, ed. Hanham, nos. 90, 114.
140 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

make sure that they were adequate to the conduct of war against the
Christian Scots. Doubtless the king intended this to be an instructive dem-
onstration of priorities. Frustrated of his purpose, Weston requested that
George Cely, who was on his way to Bruges, report any tydyngys of the
Rodys he might get from the Venetians and Florentines there.174
On 4 June, Weston again came into London to plead for leave to depart.
This time it was granted, and after holding a provincial chapter to arrange
for the administration of the priory while he was away, he left the capital on
3 August, in the company of John Kendal and other brethren.175 Although
the prior was only issued with letters of passage for himself and one com-
panion, he travelled with a considerable fellowship, and he certainly made
substantial nancial provision for his journey, amounting to 800 to 1,000
in cash and letters of exchange. So magnicent was his entourage, indeed,
that Weston, writing to Richard Cely from Rome in October, boasted that he
and his fellows were ryt welcome, wyth euer nobleman saying that thay
sawe not thys C yer so lequelly a felychyppe for so manny and in at aray
come howte of Ynglonde.176
Westons mission was partially hijacked by both the crown and the
pope, for before proceeding to Rhodes he visited Rome and Naples rather
than taking the quicker route via Venice, which seems to have been his
intention earlier on. He was greeted in some state when he reached Rome
on 15 October. Sixtus IV, he reported, made me gret cher and would have
absolved him of any obligation to the contrary had he not insisted on
continuing his journey to Rhodes. Instead, he was to proceed there as the
popes ambassador, entrusted wyth materis of gret inportansse. It was
presumably in this capacity that he enjoyed a ryall ressevyng and . . . grett
presentys in the following month in Naples. While in Rome he had also
assisted the kings proctor in his attempt to resolve the ancient dispute
between Richard Herron and the Staple.177
Weston did not arrive in Rhodes until June 1482, when he presented
Edward IVs letters and for the honour of the Apostolic See and of the
king was admitted onto the orders council with precedence over all mem-
bers save the master and his lieutenant. The prior remained at the convent
until sometime after 9 June 1484178 and in the interim served on a variety of
commissions and prosecuted or defended various actions on his own behalf,
as is discussed elsewhere.179 Unusually, all three English bailiffs of the order
were present in convent in 14823, which must have given them consider-
able clout on the council and at the chapter-general of 1483.

Cely Letters, ed. Hanham, no. 114.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 299r300r; Cely Letters, ed. Hanham, nos. 11718, 1213.
Ibid., nos. 11819, 1212, 129.
Ibid., nos. 118, 129, 178.
AOM76, fos. 103r, 170r.
See above, Ch. 2.2.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 141

The administration of the priory during Westons absence was entrusted

to his brother William,180 who presided over a tranquil period in its affairs,
although the English brethren were the driving force behind the conventual
attempt to unseat the prior of Ireland, James Keating.181 On 18 December
1482 Keating was formally deprived, and Marmaduke Lumley, who had
failed to secure permanent possession of Templecombe, was granted the
priory and the magistral camera of Kilsaran.182 Yet despite the support of
the archbishops of Dublin and Armagh, Lumley was unable to dislodge
Keating, who resorted to armed force to deny his rival. The crowns pre-
occupation with other matters in 14835, and Keatings alliance with the
earl of Kildare were probably crucial to Lumleys failure to secure posses-
sion. In contrast to the turmoil in Ireland, the Hospitaller brethren in
England managed to avoid signicant involvement in the political upheavals
of 14837, their prior and turcopolier were internationally respected ser-
vants of crown, curia, and convent, the priorys nances appear to have been
sound, and disputes over promotions were infrequent and amicably reso-
lved. Attacks on the abuse of Hospitaller privileges by the clergy, and the
continued deance of Keating, appear to have been the sole clouds on the
By the time Weston reached England, after tarrying in Rome over Christ-
mas 1484,183 Edward IV had been dead for nearly two years. It is difcult
to escape the conclusion that he had been at the least doubtful of the order of
St John, which lurched from one crisis to another as a result of his heavy-
handed interventions between 1468 and 1481. Despite his actions on its
behalf in 1465 and 1480 his attitude to the Hospital was often unsympa-
thetic and overbearing.184 He had attempted to foist an unsuitable candidate
on the order as prior in 1468, defended brethren considered incompetent or
inappropriate by the convent against the legitimate actions of their super-
iors, and refused licence for the prior of England to go to the defence of
Rhodes. The king was probably responsible for the nancial trouble which
dogged the priory throughout the 1470s, ensuring that Langstrother had
debts when he died, that Tornay was summoned to Rhodes for maladmin-
istration, and that John Weston saw t to extract every last penny out of his
brethren and his own resources in the rst years of his priorate. His snubs to
the convent went somewhat beyond the traditional hostility of the crown to

The Register of Thomas Rotherham Archbishop of York 14801500, ed. E. E. Barber,
CYS, 69 (Torquay, 1976), no. 912.
AOM388, fos. 136rv.
Ibid., fos. 134v, 136r137r. Lumley disputed title to Templecombe with various rivals
between 1463 and 1479. AOM374, fos. 139r140r; AOM377, fo. 141v; AOM380, fo. 136r;
AOM386, fos. 128v129r; CPL, xiii. 2556.
The prior was granted a papal safe conduct for himself and a company of up to twenty-
ve persons on 31 Dec. 1484. CPL, xiv. 5.
In 1465, he had written at the instance of Botill to protest against the attack of the
Venetian eet on Rhodes in the previous year; CSPV, i, nos. 3978.
142 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

the interference of foreign agencies in English affairs and have to be seen

against his sceptical attitude to crusading and foreign adventure. The king,
like his Lancastrian predecessors, was rmly opposed to the levy of papal
crusade tenths, and although he permitted the clergy to make a grant of
sixpence in the pound for Pius IIs crusade in 1464, some of this seems to
have found its way into the royal coffers, while in 1466 and 14812 he
actively opposed any grant.185 He may have regarded the Hospitallers
responsions, especially the increased levy decided on by the advice of a
papally appointed committee in the chapter of 14667, as papal taxation
by the back door. Edwards jaundiced view of the foreign jaunts of his
nobility, and the collapse of the number of licences to noble pilgrims to
visit the Holy Places during his reign, may also shed light on his dealings
with the Hospitallers.186
Nevertheless, Edward IVs distrust of the order was neither complete nor
immutable. While clearly wishing to remind his Hospitaller subjects that
their rst duty was to him, he was willing to offer signicant assistance to the
defence of Rhodes in 1480, and seems to have appreciated the orders success
in resisting the indel. John Kayes dedication of his translation of Caoursins
account of the siege to Edward indicates at the least that he believed that the
king might be interested in the subject,187 and if the decoration of a sub-
stantial chamber in the royal apartments at Windsor with scenes of the siege
can be attributed to the same monarch, it surely indicates that his earlier
scepticism had become real enthusiasm.188 It is arguable, indeed, that the
orders success in 1480 greatly reduced criticism of its activities for a gener-
ation, and that the relatively placid relationship priors of England enjoyed
with successive kings after the siege bears witness to the effects of the victory
on royal perceptions of the Hospital. Certainly, Richard IIIs attitude to the
order was not as bullying and interfering as his predecessors. Admittedly,
the new king was unsure of his support, especially in southern England, and
the Hospitallers must have been worthwhile potential allies both at home
and abroad, which made it sensible to maintain good relations with them,
especially when both the turcopolier, John Kendal, and Weston were out of
the country and in potential contact with Henry Tudor. The king wrote an
enthusiastic letter of welcome to Leonard du Prat, the conventual visitor, in
December 1484, stressing in it his affection, zeal and devotion for so great
Lunt, Financial Relations, ii. 14551, 153.
For Edwards objections to such travel, see above, n. 43. Only one nobleman, Henry Lord
Fitzhugh, is known to have visited Jerusalem in this reign, in contrast to those of his predeces-
sors. Whether this was due to royal disapproval or the Veneto-Turkish war of 146379 is
unclear, but it is signicant that numbers of noble pilgrims did not recover thereafter. Mitchell,
Spring Voyage, 122; Tyerman, England, 308; G. J. OMalley, The English and the Levant in the
Fifteenth Century, M.Phil. thesis (Cambridge, 1994), 412, 97101.
Caoursin, Siege of Rhodes, trans. Kaye.
The author of the decoration of the Roodis Chambre, which was not described as such
until 1533, is unclear. W. St John Hope, Windsor Castle: An Architectural History (London,
1913), 2534. I am indebted to Dr Anthony Luttrell for this reference.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 143

an order.189 He further recalled Prats sincere affection and great love for
Edward IV.190
Richards relationship with John Kendal was also cordial. On 16 December
1484, the turcopolier and the bishop of Durham were appointed to give the
kings allegiance to the new pope, Innocent VIII, although Kendals residence
in Italy at the time makes the appointment a matter as much of convenience
as of trust.191 More telling evidence is provided by a Venetian letter of April
1485, which reported that when papal bulls of interdict against the Republic
had been taken to England, Kendal had exerted himself in such wise that the
king tore them up.192 Furthermore, Richard not only visited the priory
himself, but also used it to stage one of the more important public events
of his reign when he held an assembly of London worthies in its Great Hall
to refute rumours that he was planning to marry his niece Elizabeth. He
must have felt that it was friendly territory.193

5.3 Henry VII and the Hospital, 14851509

Despite his amicable relationship with Richard III, John Weston was not so
heavily identied with the Yorkist regime that he was unable to serve the
Tudor. Within a couple of years of his accession Henry VII was employing
Weston on as much government business as any of his predecessors. It is a
feature of the relationship between the order and the Tudor monarchs that
the priors of England, always subordinate to the crown, now became little
more than public servants, albeit valued and respected ones. This process
began in the very early days of Henry VIIs reign. The prior appeared to
testify to the degree of the kings blood relationship with his bride-to-be the
lady Elizabeth in 1486, stating that he had known the latter for ten years and
the former since 24 August 1485.194 Weston was in Rome by May 1487,

Letters of the Kings of England, ed. J. O. Halliwell, 2 vols. (London, 1848), i. 1512;
quotation after British Library Harleian Manuscript 433, ed. R. Horrox and P. W. Hammond,
4 vols. (Gloucester, 197983), iii. 123.
Ibid. I have not come across any evidence that Prat had met Edward.
Kendal arrived in Italy in February 1484. A letter written from Rome by him and the prior of
Champagne was read out in convent on 4 May, and Kendal was appointed to present the orders
allegiance to Innocent VIII on 18 October. He had already played a prominent part in the
ceremonies surrounding the papal election in August and September. AOM76, fos. 167rv, 177r;
CSPV, i, nos. 489, 493; J. Burckardi, Liber notarum ab anno MCCCCLXXXIII usque ad annum
MDVI, ed. E. Celani, 2 vols., Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 32 (Rome, 190613), i. 20, 55, 80.
CSPV, i, no. 493. Sixtus had placed Venice under interdict on 23 May 1483. Setton,
Papacy, ii. 376 & n.
Crowland Chronicle Continuation, ed. Pronay and Cox, 1767; Richard III, ed. Ham-
mond and Sutton, 1989; A. Hanham, Richard III and his Early Historians 14831535
(Oxford, 1975), 51, 53.
CPL, xiv. 1920. This was two days after Bosworth, indicating that Weston had either
hurried north to proffer his allegiance to the new king or had been in the vicinity at the time of
the battle.
144 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

having been sent by Henry to do homage to the pope and, being delayed at
Calais on his return journey in January 1488, can hardly have had time to
return to Clerkenwell before he was placed at the head of a commission to
treat for peace with Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile-Aragon.195 Although
clearly valued as a diplomat, Weston was equally prominent in the govern-
ments service at home, serving on commissions of the peace in Essex, Kent,
Middlesex, and Warwickshire between 20 September 1485 and 10 Novem-
ber 1488.196
Elected prior of England in Rhodes on 22 June 1489,197 John Kendal was
the outstanding English knight of his generation. Already an immensely
experienced diplomat, who had served as the convents procurator-general
at the curia since 1478, and lieutenant general of the order in the west to
collect the indulgence of 147981, he had conducted negotiations with the
rulers of England, France, Naples, Burgundy, Venice, and Savoy on the
orders behalf in the 1480s, chiey on the difcult matter of the custody of
Jem Sultan, the Turkish prince who had ed to Rhodes in 1482.198 His
passage between Venice, Rome, and Paris at various times between 1485
and 1488 also made him useful as an emissary to the Republic, the Holy See,
and the English crown at various times. In January 1488, for example, the
Venetian ambassador in France reported that Kendal, who had arrived in
Paris as the representative of the convent and curia, was now retained there
on the business of Henry VII.199 The Venetians valued his friendship so
highly that they ordered public receptions to be provided for him in the
towns of the contado when he left the city on his way to Rome in May
From the point of view of both order and crown, Kendal would thus
appear to have been an ideal candidate for the priory of England. Yet Henry
VII, despite his evidently friendly relationship with John Weston, was no less
concerned to uphold his prerogatives in the appointment of a new prior than
Edward IV had been, as the turcopolier found out to his cost between 1489
and 1491. On 21 July 1489 the archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton,
wrote to Innocent VIII reporting the arrival of the papal collector, Adriano
Castellessi, in England and saying that he would do his best for John Kendal,
whose merits he well knew, but that the king nevertheless resented the
turcopolier having usurped the name and title of his priory without having
asked his advice or tendered allegiance to him. Clearly, the new prior had
followed neither the traditional procedure of election in England, presenta-
Burckardi, Liber notarum, i. 195; Cely Letters, ed. Hanham, no. 240; Foedera, v, III, 189.
CPR148594, 486, 490, 493, 5034.
The bull conrming the priors appointment was dated 20 June, before Kendals election
by the council. AOM77, fo. 18r; AOM390, fos. 128r129r.
AOM386, fos. 146v148r, 149v51r; CPR147785, 194; CSPV, i, nos. 489, 4934,
4967, 518, 523, 526, 5334; iv, Appendix, no. 993; AOM386, fos. 157rv.
CSPV, i, no. 526.
Ibid., no. 497.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 145

tion to the king, and conrmation in Rhodes, nor waited for election in
Rhodes in accordance with the statute of 1478. He had probably assumed
the title in Rome on learning of Westons death. Henry VII could hardly have
objected to his appointment as early as July 1489 if it had taken place in
Rhodes the previous month, so Kendal must have either arrogated the priory
to himself without formal appointment by the order, or been provided by the
pope.201 It is conceivable that he had already been granted the expectancy of
the priory in Rhodes, but there is no record of this.
Morton assured Innocent that the king would bear all tranquilly in the
matter because of his devotion to the pope, but a year later Kendal was
probably still in bad odour at court, for Castellessi, returning to Rome in
July 1490, was instructed to acquaint his master with Henrys opinions on
the priory of St John.202 In the following month, Kendal was granted licence
to leave Rome for his urgent causes by dAubusson, and the prior of
Auvergne was appointed to various commissions in Italy in his place. Des-
pite getting permission to go home, the prior was still in Italy in the early
months of 1491, for he was commissioned to admit an Italian protege of the
cardinal of Parma into the order and a preceptory on 23 February 1491, and
was granted membership of the papal house of Cibo on 1 March.203 Al-
though Kendals name appears as patron of an English benece in the
Hospitallers gift in May, which may indicate a brief visit home, in August
and October Robert Eagleseld was acting as his lieutenant while he was in
remotis, as he had done in 1490.204 It seems unlikely that he took up
permanent residence in the priory before the last months of 1491. It was
not until the following January that he was pardoned for bringing magistral
bulls preferring him to the priory into England without royal licence or
election by his fellows in England.205
If Kendal, like his predecessor, had some difculty getting possession of his
priory, like Weston he nevertheless became a valued public servant and dealt
with a considerable range of government business. In June 1492 he was
appointed a commissioner to treat for peace with Charles VIII; in February
1496 he was among those deputed to arrange a treaty with the Archduke
Philipthe so-called Intercursus Magnus; and in May 1500 he was with the
king at his meeting with the archduke at Calais.206 On this occasion,
reported the king, particular honour was done the prior, who visited Philip

CSPV, iii, Appendix, no. 1475. Morton did indeed know Kendals merits, having
employed him as one of his proctors in the curia in 1490. Register Morton, ed. Harper-Bill,
i, no. 61.
CSPV, iii, Appendix, no. 1475; i, no. 577.
AOM390, fos. 131v132r, 141r142v, 147r, 154r; CPL, xiv. 2734.
The Register of Thomas Langton Bishop of Salisbury 148593, ed. D. P. Wright, CYS, 74
(n.p., 1985), nos. 352, 124, 274, 326; Register Morton, ed. Harper-Bill, ii, no. 52.
205 CPR148594, 368.
Foedera, v, IV, 45, 82; LPRH, ed. Gairdner, ii. 87; The Chronicle of Calais, in the Reigns
of Henry VII and Henry VIII, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 1st ser., 35 (London, 1846), 3.
146 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

in St Omer with the royal secretary, Thomas Ruthall. The pair were received,
asserted Henry, In such honourable wyse that the lyke thereof hath not been
seen In tyme passid, and rode on either side of the archduke in procession
through the town.207 It was, however, on government business in England
that Kendal was more frequently employed. Traditionally, priors of St John
sat on commissions of the peace in Essex, Middlesex, and sometimes Lin-
colnshire, counties where there was a heavy concentration of Hospitaller
properties. Both John Weston and his successor served in these shires and in
1493, at a time of administrative experiment, Kendal was appointed JP in no
less than twenty jurisdictions, including all the administrative divisions of
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Subsequently, following a reversion to the prac-
tices of Henry VIs reign, Kendal sat only on commissions of the peace in
Essex and Middlesex.208 Other government service was more occasional:
commissions of walls and ditches in Lindsey in 1497, of sewers in Essex and
Middlesex, and of inquiry into the recent insurrection in the West Country in
June 1497.209 A bare list of the employment of the prior on royal business
does not tell us much about relations between crown and order but it serves
to demonstrate that Kendal was a trusted government servant. His appoint-
ment to inquire into recent rebellions, and the reception at St Omer, are
particularly telling of the esteem and condence in which he was held.
It is all the more extraordinary then that on 14 March 1496 a French
servant of the prior, Bertrand de Vignolles, made a public deposition accus-
ing Kendal of masterminding a series of bizarre and convoluted plots to
murder Henry VII and, more recently, of complicity in Perkin Warbecks
activities in the Low Countries.210 According to Vignolless statement, Ken-
dal, together with his Hospitaller nephew John Tonge and William Hussey,
the archdeacon of London, had conspired over a period of several years to
kill the king, his children, and others about his person. The plot had been
hatched in Rome, where the conspirators, said Vignolles, hired a Spanish
astrologer, a Master John Disant, to accomplish their design. Although
Disant demonstrated his credentials by eliminating a Turk of the household
of Jem Sultan, Kendal returned home without providing the astrologer with
enough money to ensure his continued service. Nevertheless, after two years
the prior sent Vignolles to Rome to urge Disant to carry out his task and to
murder another astrologer, whom Kendal had also approached to arrange

Great Chronicle of London, ed. Thomas and Thornley, 2923.
CPR148594, 482, 484, 486, 48993, 4958, 500, 5038; CPR14941509, 638; J. R.
Lander, English Justices of the Peace, 14611509 (Gloucester, 1989), 28, 11219.
CPR14941509, 90, 118, 1801.
This document, contained in British Library MS Cotton Caligula D.vi, was edited by
Madden in his Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck, at 2059, and by Gairdner in LPRH, ii.
31823. Gairdner also appends letters from Kendal to some of the parties involved, notably
Noion and Vignolles. The most sensible recent discussion of Kendals part in the Warbeck
conspiracy is I. Arthurson, The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy 14911499 (Stroud, 1994) rather
than A. Wroes [otherwise interesting] Perkin: A Story of Deception (London, 2003).
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 147

the kings death and who was now beginning to talk. Disant was to come to
England dressed as a friar, under pretext of a pilgrimage to Santiago, but
again the prior failed to furnish him with sufcient funds for the task.
Instead, the astrologer supplied Vignolles with a box of ointment which, if
smeared on a doorway through which the king was to pass, would cause
Henrys friends and relations to turn against him and murder him. Returning
home, Vignolles threw this away and replaced it with a harmless mixture
purchased from a Parisian apothecary. He gave this to Kendal, telling him
that it was dangerous to handle, and the prior instructed him to get rid of
Vignolles further stated that on his return to England he had seen letters,
partly in code, from a Hospitaller and servant of the priors in Flanders,
Guillaume de Noion,212 giving news of Perkin Warbecks progress on the
Continent. Warbeck was given the code name of the Merchant of Ruby in
the letters and as such, Vignolles reported, attempted to sell stones at the
courts of Margaret of Burgundy and Maximilian. Noion was also the agent
for Kendal in his attempts to raise money for Warbeck by bills of exchange
drawn up between the prior and a prominent merchant of Bruges, Daniel
Beauvivre. The prior had also, it was alleged, had advance warning of
Warbecks descent on England in July 1495, in which James Keating took
part, and prepared jackets of his livery at Melchbourne, to which Yorkist
emblems he had prepared might be sown as occasion demanded. He also
shared his intelligence of the landing, and of the imposters other doings,
with the bishop of Winchester, Thomas Langton, and his fellow conspir-
ators, Husseys nephew John, and Sir Thomas Tyrrell, another member of
the order.213 Kendal had discussed the possibility of a son of Edward IV
visiting Tyrrell one day, as the father had done. Others acquainted with the
treason were Kendals secretary, William Yolton, and two servants of the
archdeacons, William Lily and John Water, who had both been in Rome at
the time of the original plot.214 By this stage, Vignolles claimed, he had been
determined to unmask the conspirators, but was unfortunately taken ill for
six months. On his recovery, he asked Kendals permission to visit his
brother in Dieppe, so that he could reveal the plot without fear of bodily
injury from ceulx qui ont conpille ceste traison.215

Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck, ed. Madden, 2057.
Noion was a professed sergeant-at-arms and the farmer of the magistral camera of the
priory of France between June 1491 and June 1496. AOM391, fos. 102r103r; AOM392, fos.
114 115r.
He is not mentioned in the orders archives as such, but may have been a confrater.
Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck, ed. Madden, 2079, 1778. Arthurson also
links Kendal and a conspirator executed in 1495, the Warwickshire knight Sir Simon Mount-
ford. Mountford had purchased an indulgence from the then turcopolier in 1480. Arthurson,
Perkin Warbeck, 85, 901.
Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck, ed. Madden, 207.
148 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

Despite its wealth of detail and allegations, it would be simple to dismiss

this statement as an elaborate fantasythe malicious gossip of an embit-
tered servant, or perhaps a French plot to destabilize Henry VII. Vignolles
was vague about dates, and had to go to considerable lengths to explain why
the conspirators had failed to make an actual attempt on the kings life. Yet
there is circumstantial evidence that might suggest to the suspicious mind
that Kendal had been intriguing in Rome at some time between 1485 and
1491, and more substantial material suggesting that he was at the very least
involved in treasonable correspondence with Warbecks court in the Low
Countries. The rather nebulous poison plot which Vignolles alleged that the
prior had masterminded against Henry can presumably, if it existed, be
dated to c.1489 to c.1492, as Kendal returned home during its course. As
this was precisely the period when the king was hindering his promotion to
the priorate, he may well have been disgruntled and might conceivably have
plotted to kill his monarch. He had, after all, loyally served the Yorkist
crown for years and may not have ever met the Tudor king. He was,
moreover, in an environment where people could more safely speak their
mind about the new dynasty than at home. Several of the other alleged
plotters, including William Hussey, were with him in Rome in the 1480s
and early 1490s, and Kendal, the two Husseys, and Thomas Langton were
all members of the Confraternity of the Hospice of St Thomas in Rome.
Between 1486 and 1491, indeed, Kendal was its chamberlain.216
The Holy City, moreover, was notorious for poisonings at this time, and
Kendal was certainly in a position to procure the murder of members of
prince Jems household, as he had been appointed the captain and prefect of
his guard in 1488.217 Rumours that Jem had been poisoned in 1495 can only
have helped strengthen the case against him.218 Yet despite this attractive
mixture of fact, supposition, and common prejudice, Vignolles produced
precious little evidence to support his claims of an attempt to poison Henry
VII, which even he had to admit did not actually take place. The priors
involvement in the Warbeck conspiracy is more plausibly attested. Shortly
after Vignolless deposition was made, letters of the English priors to the
prior of France, to Noion, and to Stefano Maranycho, a Sardinian servant of
Kendals, were seized by the crown, possibly along with Kendal himself.219
At rst sight the correspondence seems innocuous enough. Kendal wrote to
Noion and the prior of France in April 1496 recommending Vignolles, who
had left England two months before to nd his brother. While awaiting the
arrival of his absent relative he had met two of Kendals friends, who had
something to sell. Vignolles was instructed to meet the two merchants, who
were wont to sell stones at Rome, and who wished to know whether
Kendal wanted any of their merchandise. He was to take them to Noion,

216 217
Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 76, 232 n. 54. AOM389, fos. 209v10r.
218 219
Setton, Papacy, ii. 482. LPRH, ii. 3236.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 149

who was in Artois, and would assess the quality of the jewels, and then
return to England bearing his response. One of the merchants was probably
Maranycho, also accused of complicity in the poison plot, for another letter
of Kendals was addressed to him, instructing him to trust Vignolles and
suggesting he sell his good things at the fair of Antwerp, where he would
also nd Noion.220
The language of the letters is deliberately obscure, and would seem to
suggest nancial dealings rather than treason were it not for the fact that
Noion and Maranycho had already been mentioned in Vignolless accusa-
tions, and that the references to gems are clearly reminiscent of the code
allegedly used for Warbeck. The letter to Maranycho is particularly suspi-
cious. The Sardinian had travelled all the way from the kingdom of Naples,
yet the prior evinced no desire to meet him and encouraged him to sell his
goods in Flanders rather than bring them to England. Arthurson even
suggests that good things may have been code for poison, and Antwerp
for Margaret of Burgundy. Kendals reluctance to buy such wares would t
with his instruction to Vignolles to throw away the poison he had brought
from Italy.221
The key link in the supposed plot, however, is Noion. It is not difcult to
demonstrate his closeness to the prior: the letters seized in April 1496 alone
do that. In addition, three English knights, including Kendals nephew
Tonge, had stood surety for Noion when he was granted the farm of the
preceptory of Flanders, and when he fell into debt in 1492 he was able to set
payments he had made to Kendal against his arrears.222 Yet, besides Vignol-
less testimony, no further proof of any link between Noion and Warbeck has
been found. If this had been as close as he had alleged Sir Robert Clifford,
who returned from Malines with a long list of English plotters in December
1494, would surely have brought down the prior, Tonge, the Husseys, and
Langton. Although Kendal may have been under suspicion, and was put
under a bond of 100 in March 1495, he was certainly not tried either at this
time or in 1496. Indeed, his appointment to negotiate with Burgundy in
February 1496, which Arthurson describes as splendid cover for his other
activities could hardly have been possible if he had been mistrusted, unless
he was some kind of double agent.223
The king, in any case, was suspicious of uncorroborated testimony,224 and
may have decided that Vignolless accusations, delivered in public before
representatives of the French crown, had been engineered to cause trouble.
The letters seized by the crown are suspiciously opaque, but correspondence
between business partners was often unspecic, treasonable talk was

Documents relating to Perkin Warbeck, ed. Madden, 205; LPRH, ii. 3236.
LPRH, ii. 3236; Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 137.
AOM391, fos. 102r103r, 159rv.
CCR148594, no. 792; Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 836, 137.
Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 77.
150 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

common, and Kendal did not make the mistake either of mentioning the
Merchant of Ruby, or of referring to Scotland, where Warbeck was then
staying. Although the prior was pardoned on 1 July 1496 of all offences
committed before 17 June, the king cannot have believed he was guilty of all
the charges against him or he would not have trusted him with sensitive
business again.225
As it was, Kendal continued to serve on commissions of the peace, on
diplomatic missions, and on the royal council. He even investigated the
Cornish rising of 1497, an affair which Arthurson considers to have been
linked with the Warbeck conspiracy.226 Besides these formal activities on
behalf of the crown, there is evidence that Kendal was personally favoured
by the king both before and after 1496. He was licensed to hold a market and
fairs at Baldock and to import Gascon wines in 1492, and was cleared of his
and the priorys debts to the crown. King and prior actively cooperated in the
removal of the traitor and rebel James Keating from the priory of Ireland,
and Henry did not punish the Hospitallers for Keatings treason.227 Hence-
forth, priors of Ireland were to be English preceptors, something which
suited both the langue and the crown, to whose better service the act
forbidding the priory to the Irish brethren drew specic attention. And if
Henrys intervention in Ireland was largely a result of self-interest, a clearer
mark of genuine favour was provided by his dispatch of hobbies and artil-
lery, the latter to be placed on the ante-mural or bouleverde defended by the
English langue, to Rhodes in 1499. The gift represents the most signicant of
a number of diplomatic exchanges between Rhodes and Westminster con-
cerning the priory of Ireland, the proposed exchange of lands between the
order and Giles Lord Daubeney, and the Jubilee Indulgence of 1500.228 The
Veneto-Turkish war which began in 1499, and which the order entered in
1501, prompted considerable crusade enthusiasm in the West: a French eet
was dispatched to the Levant in 1499, the Spanish were also considering
military involvement in the area, and Henry VII, besides his support for the
Hospitallers, contributed 20,000 crowns of his own revenues to the crusade
fund in Rome, to the astonishment of the curia. The kings support for the
order needs to be seen in this context.229
The internal history of the priory during Kendals incumbency is less
dramatic than the priors personal vicissitudes, but is not without interest.
There is little sign in the Maltese archives that the problems surrounding his
appointment caused any great concern in convent, yet there are indications
that his exclusion from his dignity may have disrupted the functioning of the
CPR14941509, 49.
CPR14941509, 638; Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 1625.
CPR148594, 375, 405; Foedera, v, IV, 47; Arthurson, Perkin Warbeck, 214; Rot. Parl.,
vi. 482b3a.
AOM78, fos. 37r, 95rv; Porter, Knights of Malta, 294.
Setton, Papacy, ii. 518; LPRH, ii, pp. lxiilxv, 116. For the orders involvement in the war,
see above, Ch. 1.1.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 151

priory during his absence. No provincial chapters seem to have been held in
Kendals name during his continued residence in Italy230 and neither are any
orders to Hospitaller brethren enrolled in the Libri Bullarum between
November 1489 and February 1492. In August 1490 there was even worry
in Rhodes that the prioral seal might be misused during the dissension
concerning the priory and a letter was dispatched to the receiver on the
subject.231 Moreover, when the convent did begin to issue orders to Kendal
to act in England, in October 1492, he was instructed to compel his brethren
to pay substantial arrears owed to the common treasury: John Boswell,
Robert Peck, Robert Evers, and Robert Dalison owed over 600 between
them. By the same February, Henry Halley had still not paid any part of the
responsions of the preceptory he had been granted in 1489.232 In April 1493,
the receiver, Thomas Newport, was ordered to collect, besides the 4,723
ecus owed by prior and brethren for that years responsion, a total of 5,679
ecus owed by the prior, eight English preceptors, and the prioress of Buck-
land, of which 2,785 ecus was still owed for the prioral vacancy year of 1489
to 1490.233 Although Evers had by now apparently paid his debts, Boswell,
Peck, and Dalison were still in considerable arrears, as was John Tonge, who
owed 170 for the vacancy year of Ribston.234 Newport was to collect the
monies, buy cloth with them, and ship it on the Venetian galleys which
would be travelling between England and Messina in 1494. The type and
quality of textiles he was to purchase were rigidly dened.235
Although it was common for at least some English brethren to owe money
to the common treasury, the debts accumulated by 1493 were unusually
large, and would have been far greater had the convent not, usant de
moderance et non pas de severite et Rigueur, agreed to limit the vacancies
of the priory to 4,000 ecus, a sum considerably lower than its net annual
income.236 The fact that of the men granted preceptories during the round of
promotion which accompanied Kendals accession to the priorate in 1489
only the receiver had paid his vacancies in full by April 1493 probably
indicates administrative disruption during the period before Kendal gained
possession. The convents leniency on the question of the priors debts
suggests genuine difculties in collection, partly, perhaps, caused by his
earlier exclusion from the priorate. Kendals absence certainly cannot have

The rst chapter recorded in the lease book of the English Hospitallers dating from
Kendals priorate was held in June 1492, after his return from Italy. The rst chapter recorded
in Docwras began on 20 July 1503, while he was still in Rhodes. Lansdowne 200, fos. 2r9r;
Claudius E.vi, fos. 3r5v.
AOM77, fo. 27r.
Boswell owed 139/9/9, Green 75/4/10, Peck 83/18/7, Evers 341/17/6, Dalison
82/0/11, and Halley 198/11/4. AOM390, fos. 134rv; AOM391, fos. 100r101r, 103rv.
AOM391, fos. 106r107v, 199rv.
Ibid., fos. 107v, 106r.
A worthy man was to accompany the cargo to its destination. Ibid., fo. 199v.
Ibid., fo. 199v.
152 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

helped him regain control of the Warwickshire preceptory of Balsall, a

prioral camera and favourite residence of John Weston which between
1489 and 1496/7 was in the hands of a secular usurper, Robert Bellingham
of Kenilworth. In 1487 Bellingham had abducted the daughter and heir of
the farmer of Balsall, John Beautz, from her parental home by force, but
despite a considerable scandal eventually acquired Beautzs consent to
marry her.237 On Beautzs death in 1489, Bellingham entered into posses-
sion of Balsall and remained there until at least the last months of 1496,
ignoring an order by the royal council that he vacate.238 The order was able
to remove him shortly afterwards, but signicantly Kendal then granted the
lease to Robert Throckmorton, the head of one of the most substantial
gentry families in the county. It is interesting to note that Beautz, Belling-
ham, and Throckmorton all held signicant posts in the administration of
Warwickshire, and it might be speculated that it was only with the assistance
of such notables that the orders more desirable properties could be retained
in its grasp. Such recoveries were not only difcult and time-consuming; they
were expensive too, so that it is not surprising that both Kendal and his
successor, Thomas Docwra, asked to be allowed a pension against their
responsions on account of the heavy legal costs incurred in defence of the
Kendal remained in arrears throughout his priorate. In October 1495, in
the presence of the grand master, the turcopolier, the priors secretary, and
others a declaration was made touching his accounts. He was quit of seven
items amounting to 4,990 Venetian ducats which the chapter of 1493 had
remitted to magistral judgement, but a further twenty-three payments,
amounting to perhaps 360, which the prior had made in Italy were not
allowed against his arrears, as he had claimed, but were to be submitted to
the next chapter for arbitration, as were 1,000 ecus (200) which he claimed
should be subtracted from his vacancy payments. A further claim for 300
over which Kendal pretended he was prejudiced by an error in Thornburghs
accounts, which he said he had not seen, was disallowed because he had
signed the documents in question in London in the presence of a notary. The
prior remained 1,567 ecus in debt.239 Although the Libri Bullarum for
14971500 are missing, Kendal had not paid his debts by September 1498,
for Richard Boswell then appeared before the council in Rhodes protesting
that he should not be granted the preceptory of Carbrooke, as he owed the
common treasury 1,500 ecus. Although the proctors of the treasury said they
were condent of its payment and the collation of Carbrooke was granted to

E. W. Ives, Agaynst taking awaye of Women: The Inception and Operation of the
Abduction Act of 1487, in E. W. Ives, R. J. Knecht, and J. J. Scarisbrick (eds.), Wealth and
Power in Tudor England (London, 1978), at 269.
AOM392, fos. 104v107r.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 153

the prior, Kendal was still in debt when he died,240 probably in early
February 1501.241
Kendals demise was reported to the council on Rhodes on 12 June.242 The
turcopolier, Thomas Docwra, who was in Rhodes, seems to have been the
only candidate for the priory, despite the greater seniority of Thomas Green,
the aged bailiff of Eagle.243 Although the orders council initially deferred
the election of a new prior because of certain legitimate respects concerning
the utility and honour of the whole religion, on hearing of Kendals death it
granted immediate licence to the English langue to meet so that the prioral
fth camera, Melchbourne, could be granted to Thomas Docwra, who gave
up his preceptory of cabimentum, Dinmore, in return. The election to the
priorate was suspended until the chapter-general should meet, for on the day
after its inception, 6 August, Docwra appeared before the council to petition
for the priory, having rst been granted the right to exchange it for the
turcopoliership by the English langue. Despite a protest by the proctors of
the common treasury,244 he was duly elected prior, retaining Melchbourne
as his fth camera.245 The provision to the turcopoliership, claimed by
Henry Halley, Robert Dalison, Thomas Newport, and Robert Daniel,
was remitted to the sixteen capitulars, who on 26 August allocated it to
There is little remarkable in the bull providing Docwra to the priory,
although the farm of his four prioral camerae was, unusually, specied at
350 ecus until such time as commissioners should be appointed to revalue
them.247 A later conrmation of the terms of his appointment set the farm of
the priorys vacancy year at 4,000 ecus, and that of Melchbourne, the fth
camera, at 950.248 Although these sums considerably undervalued all his
estates save Melchbourne, the new prior was eager to reduce his burdens and
AOM78, fos. 93rv; 79, fos. 89rv.
The editors of Dugdales Monasticon state that Kendal died in November 1501 but a later
dispute about his spolia states that they were executed on 10 February 1501. The priors death
seems to have been sudden. He had presided over a provincial chapter held on 20 January and
was apparently planning to visit Rhodes shortly before his demise, hardly the intention of a sick
man. Monasticon, vi, II, 799; Lansdowne 200, fo. 84r; AOM79, fos. 114v117v.
AOM79, fos. 11v12r.
Green had been a Hospitaller for longer, having attended the chapter-general of 1459. He
had been a preceptor since 1471 and bailiff of Eagle since 1481. Docwra rst appears as a
conventual knight in 1474. Green does not appear to have visited Rhodes after the early 1480s,
however, and took little part in the orders affairs after 1489, dying early in 1502. AOM282, fo.
54r; 378, fos. 148v149v; 76, fo. 70v; 388, fos. 132rv; 382, fo. 136v; 394, 171r.
The treasury ofcials held that no one should be elected prior without rst swearing to
uphold the ordinance made in the 1498 chapter concerning the dues owed to the treasury from
England. Docwra replied that the statute had ruled that the prior should be given time to prove
his right to certain of these monies, and petitioned that the matter should be examined by
the chapter. AOM 284, fos. 5r, 9r11r; 79 fos. 117v, 118r.
AOM79, fos. 11v12r, 22v.
AOM79, fos. 23r, 23v; AOM284, fo. 35v.
AOM393, fos. 109v110v.
AOM394, fos. 174v175v.
154 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

renewed Kendals claim for a pension of 630 ecus, averring that this was
necessary to support the heavy burden of litigation on the English priory,
and also demanding a smaller sum from the preceptory of Scotland. Not
only were these demands rejected, the prior and the more senior English
knights were later forced to swear to uphold the capitular ordinance on the
matter, to seek no pension from the common treasury in lieu of the sums
claimed, and not to impede responsions from Scotland.249
What is perhaps most interesting about Docwras appointment was that it
proceeded without any apparent hitch and that it was neither preceded by
election in England nor accompanied by the issue of papal letters in his
favour. These facts seem to indicate that the statute of 1478 insisting that
priors should henceforth be elected in Rhodes was now uncontroversial and
that the order and the crown had come to a working arrangement which
respected the rights and claims of each. Docwra appears to have been
unopposed as prior and there is no sign either that Henry VII found him
unacceptable, or that the king was unhappy at his absence in Rhodes, which
extended until 1504. Docwra had an impressive record of service in the east,
having been, while turcopolier, visitor of Cos, captain of Bodrum, and
captain of the orders galleys. With the orders entry into the Veneto-Turkish
war in 1501, practised commanders such as he became indispensable, and
accordingly he was twice appointed the captain of one of the orders galleys
patrolling the Aegean in 1501, although on the rst of these occasions his
vessel was among two defeated off Syme by a Turkish squadron. The master
of the order, the still formidable Pierre dAubusson, conducted the war
vigorously, and called on other Christian powers to contribute ships or
money should they not be able to enter the lists themselves. If the main
targets of his appeals were the rulers of Hungary and Venice, more distant
potentates like Henry VIII were not forgotten. Writing to Ladislas VI of
Hungary in January 1502 the master professed himself hopeful of securing
naval aid from England, the pope, and the king of France.250 Duplicates of a
letter informing Louis XII of events in the east had been dispatched to Henry
VII in the previous December.251 A further letter was sent to the king of
England in October 1502, reporting a Turkish naval build-up in the Helle-
spont and requesting some of the money which the order had heard he had
set aside for the faith. This would, it was promised, be used to arm galleys or
barques which would be marked with Henrys royal insignia and maintained
in his honour until the subsidy ceased. The letter, together with general
supplications for the royal favour, was to be presented at court by Thomas
Newport.252 There is no record that Henry VII responded to this plea with

AOM284, fo. 9r11r; 79, fos. 117v, 118r.
AOM79, fos. 51v52r; Vatin, LOrdre, 2667.
The letter was to be carried to England by Thomas Shefeld, the preceptor of Beverley.
AOM79, fos. 47r, 49v50v.
Newport was already in England. AOM79, fos. 103v104r.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 155

material assistance but the orders later attery might indicate that he sent
some help.253
Although the prior of England does not seem to have played any great part
in the naval operations of 15023, he could not be spared to return home
until after the arrival of the new master, Aimery dAmboise, in September
1504.254 In the meantime he served on the council and was employed on a
number of commissions, especially after the death of dAubusson in July
1503. Some of these were of considerable delicacy and importance. In late
July, for example, Docwra was one of three commissioners appointed to
draw up letters announcing the death of the former master to Korkud, the
governor of southern Anatolia.255 In the following month he was given the
task of reporting on the state of the harbour defences at Rhodes, and in
February 1504 he was among four senior brethren deputed to treat with the
captors of one of Korkuds chief servants, Kemal Beg, who had been taken
prisoner in the Aegean.256
Despite the signicance of these activities, the new prior was keenly aware
of his responsibilities to the king. In April 1503 he wrote to inform Sir
Reginald Bray that he had sought licence to leave Rhodes but had been
refused because the Turks were preparing a eet and army against the order
now that the Venetians had pulled out of the war. He asked Bray to approach
the king, excuse his absence, and stress his delity. He also asked Bray to
favour the priorys affairs while he was away.257 During his absence the
priory was administered by Thomas Newport, the receiver and turcopolier,
acting as president during Kendals vacancy year (June 1501 to June 1502)
and as Docwras lieutenant thereafter.258 Despite his initial failure to uphold
the priors prerogatives in the case of Kendals dispropriamentum,259 New-
port exercised a relatively vigorous lieutenancy. He held provincial assem-
blies in Docwras name, presented to beneces in prioral gift, served on royal
commissions and in April 1502 presided with Thomas Shefeld over the

See below, 158.
The plague of 14991500 and war against the Turks left the order short of manpower
until Amboises arrival. All permission to leave had been rescinded on 26 August 1503. Docwra
was granted licences to depart on 11 and 20 September 1504, but was still in convent on 24
September. Vatin, LOrdre, 258, 274; AOM80, fos. 110r, 56v, 143v, 142r143r.
AOM80, fo. 43r; Vatin, LOrdre, 279.
AOM80, fo. 55r. For the latter episode, see Vatin, LOrdre, 2803.
Westminster Abbey Muniments 16072. On Bray, see M. M. Condon, From Caitiff and
Villain to Pater Patriae: Reynold Bray and the Prots of Ofce, in M. Hicks (ed.), Prot, Piety
and the Professions in Later Medieval England (Gloucester, 1990), 13768.
The Registers of Oliver King Bishop of Bath and Wells 14961503 and Hadrian de
Castello Bishop of Bath and Wells 15031518, ed. H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, Somerset Record
Society, 52 (London, 1937), nos. 395, 444, 472, 542.
This was a declaration of assets made by a sick brother of the order. Kendal had drawn his
up in an irregular manner in conjunction with his nephew, John Tonge, erring further by making
several bequests and endowing a chantry to pray for his soul even though he remained a debtor.
AOM79, fos. 114v117v.
156 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

re-examination of Kendals spolia.260 Combining the duties of lieutenant

prior and receiver may have been too much of a strain, however, and on 14
July 1503 Shefeld was appointed receiver in Newports place.261 Certainly
Newport had plenty to keep him occupied. There are signs that the priors
absence may have hampered the orders defence of its property and privil-
eges. In 1501 the order was in dispute with Charles Booth, the vicar-general
of Lincoln diocese, over its encroachment on episcopal jurisdiction. Booth
met prioral representatives to discuss the matter at St Pauls, but without
reaching any denite resolution.262 A more serious dispute concerned Bal-
sall. In November 1495 it had been leased to Sir Robert Throckmorton for a
three-year term, renewable on its expiry. This arrangement was to continue
for twenty years, or until the prior died, when the order had the option to
buy out Throckmortons interest, but on Kendals death the farmer refused
to vacate the property. Although the lease had not been renewed in 14989
he was still in possession in 1503, when the order agreed to regrant it for the
year to that midsummer on condition that he pay his arrears and render up
the property to Lancelot Docwra on his return from Rhodes. But when the
latter and Thomas Shefeld came to make Balsall ready for the prior they
found that the Throckmortons had fortied it and that they were refused
admission.263 By the time the case was brought to Star Chamber, the
Throckmortons had put a chaplain and other persons into the manor, sold
its hay, done other damage, and run up arrears of more than 150.264 In
their defence the family alleged that the knights had breached the Statute of
Retainers by coming to Balsall with a large following clad in their livery,
none of whom was their servant or a member of their order.265
The dispute of 14956 over the same house had been resolved rather less
dramatically,266 and the absence of the prior may have weakened attempts
to safeguard his property and encouraged the farmer to defy his ofcers.
Certainly Newport did his best to avoid litigation during his lieutenancy,
acceding to the bishop of Herefords demand for payments from the orders
church at Garway,267 and only proceeding against Throckmorton when
there appeared to be no other option. On his return the prior initially
seems to have been unsure how to restore Balsall to his authority, for a
lease of the manor of Chilvercoton dated June 1505 and stating that its farm
AOM79, fos. 89rv.
AOM394, fos. 177r178r.
Registrum Bothe, ed. Bannister, p. vii.
PRO STAC1/2/109/5.
Ibid., 1/2/109/15; 1/1/50 (12). The case is noticed in VCH Warwickshire, ii (London,
1908), 99; M. C. Carpenter, Locality and Polity: A Study of Warwickshire Landed Society,
14011499 (Cambridge, 1992), 129. Neither the grant of 1495 nor the renewal of the lease in
1503 is recorded in the orders lease book.
PRO STAC1/2/109/4, 2; Select Cases in the Council of Henry VII, ed. C. G. Bayne, Selden
Society, 75 (London, 1958), p. cxxiii; Statutes, ii. 65860.
PRO STAC 2/33/40.
Registrum Mayew, ed. Bannister, pp. iii, 1934.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 157

should be paid to Docwra at Balsall, implies that he had decided to take the
preceptory in hand, while another Warwickshire lease granted in the same
chapter required payment of rent to the preceptor or farmer of Balsall.268
This might indicate a desire to come to an agreement with Throckmorton,
but within a few months Docwra had petitioned the convent for licence to
restore Balsall to the hands of his fellow religious, on account of the dilapi-
dation caused by the exploitation of successive farmers since the days of
Robert Botill.269
In June 1505 Docwra held his rst provincial chapter. There was much
business to transact. The three assemblies held by Newport in 1503 and
1504 had only granted short-term leases of those preceptories whose incum-
bents were in or on their way to Rhodes,270 and had not let any prioral
properties. As opposed to only nine leases granted in the meetings of 1503
4, at Docwras rst chapter in 1505 thirty-ve separate properties were
leased.271 The most important grant was the renewal of a lease of the
manor of Hampton Court to Giles Lord Daubeney, the kings chamberlain,
who had petitioned the order to exchange it for his manor of Yeldon as long
ago as 1495, and secured royal and prioral letters in his favour at that
time.272 The authorities on Rhodes had appeared to cooperate, appointing
commissioners to view both properties to ensure that the exchange was in
the orders favour, as the statutes required, but the chapter-general alone
could authorize the alienation of Hospitaller estates and there was consid-
erable institutional reluctance to do so.273 While Kendal was waiting for a
decision on the permanent grant of the property, he had done the next best
thing and granted an eighty-year renewable lease, which was now ex-
changed for one with a ninety-nine-year term, also renewable.274 This was
hardly in keeping with the orders policy, which was to discourage attempts
to gain permanent possession of its property, and the terms of the grant were
to cause some embarrassment later.275
Once in England, Docwra became more a servant of the crown than of his
order and was involved in a heavy volume of government business from
shortly after his arrival. Initially Docwra served in traditional ways, on
commissions of the peace or on the royal council,276 although the
scope and variety of his employment began to increase after the death of
Henry VII. The most characteristic manifestation of his royal service was

Claudius E.vi, fos. 22rv, 21v22r.
AOM397, fo. 140rv.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 3r7v.
Ibid., fos. 8r27v. Two grants were of the same property to the same man, at slightly
different rents. Ibid., fos. 16rv.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 8r; AOM78, fo. 37r.
AOM78, fos. 37r, 79v; 392, fos. 103v104r.
Lansdowne 200, fos. 30rv, Claudius E.vi, fo. 8r.
See below, 173.
CPR, 14941509, 639, 650, 663; Select Cases, ed. Bayne, pp. cvi, 46.
158 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

diplomatic business. On 4 March 1506 he was among those appointed to

treat with Philip the Fair of Burgundy-Castile, a parley which resulted in the
Intercursus Malus, a one-sided agreement which collapsed after Philips
death.277 The experience was not wasted, however, for in October 1507
the prior travelled to Picardy to treat for the marriage of the lady Mary and
the young duke of Burgundy, the future Charles V.278 When the Burgundian
ambassadors paid a return visit to England in December Docwra was among
the noblemen who met them at Dartford and he entertained the Burgundians
splendidly and festively to a banquet at Clerkenwell in the following
Even before Docwras building programme was completed, the priory
seems to have been a desirable stopping place. The king himself had visited
in 1486, and the Scottish ambassadors were lodged there in 1501. An even
more pointed display of the royal favour was Henrys stay in the country in
the buildings of St. Johns, where he received the French ambassador in the
summer of 1508. Henry may even have gone hawking with the prior, for in
1506 the common treasury had accepted Docwras claim that two falcons
purchased as presents for the king should be allowed against his accounts,
and his visit to the orders estates would seem an ideal time for Henry to
deploy the birds.280 Relations between crown and order had apparently
never been friendlier. On 27 May 1506 the convent bestowed the title of
protector of the order on Henry VII.281 Whether this honour was granted in
recognition of favours already received or in anticipation of more it is
difcult to say. The letter is general in tone, stressing the orders constant
struggle against the Turks, the precariousness of its position in the east, and,
perhaps signicantly, bemoaning the difculty the Hospital had in collecting
its rents in the west and stressing its need for protectors there. This may have
been a veiled plea for royal support in matters such as the Balsall case, or for
a reconsideration of the kings insistence on levying taxes on Hospitaller

Calendar of Letters, Despatches and State Papers, relating to the Negotiations between
England and Spain, preserved in the Archives at Simancas and Elsewhere, vols. ixiii (London,
18621954), i. 384, 447.
Chronicle of Calais, ed. Nichols, 6; Memorials, ed. Gairdner, 100; The Reign of Henry
VII from Contemporary Sources, ed. A. F. Pollard, 3 vols. (London, 191314), i. 302.
The Spousells of Princess Mary, 1508 in Camden Miscellany IX, CS, 2nd ser., 53
(London, 1895), 6; Memorials, ed. Gairdner, 109.
CCR14851500, no. 67; Great Chronicle, ed. Thomas and Thornley, 315; Memorials,
ed. Gairdner, 129; AOM397, fo. 142v.
LPRH, i. 2878; AOM397, fos. 139v140r; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 186.
The preceptor of Baddesley, Robert Peck, was in debt to the king on his death in 1505,
which, to take an uncharitable view of Henry VII, may indicate a royal levy on his person or
property. Furthermore, in 1503, Thomas Newport asked to be excused 32 of his responsions
for Dalby and Rotheley because tenths granted to the crown in convocation were being levied on
Boston church, which had been appropriated to the preceptory since 1482. AOM397, fos. 143r,
The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509 159

Although the kings sojourn in the orders estates in the summer of 1508
speaks highly of the good relations between Henry and the prior, Docwra,
having been summoned to attend the chapter-general to be held in August
1508, should really have been in the eastern Mediterranean instead.283
When the king died in April 1509, Docwra was still in England. Henry
may have felt that with two of the three English bailiffs of the langue already
in Rhodes,284 the order could afford to leave the prior at home. Docwra,
who was conducting a dispute with the bishop of Hereford in 1507 while
simultaneously quarrelling with the English langue and the convent over the
collation of Halston, may himself have felt disinclined to travel.
Henry VII died on 22 April 1509. His relationship with all three priors of
England during his reign had been relatively fruitful. All had performed the
customary service of priors on royal commissions, the kings council, and
particularly on the diplomatic business for which they were so well suited. In
return, although he had been determined to uphold the royal prerogative
with regard to John Kendals appointment, Henry took little or no action
against Kendal when he was accused of treason in 1496, sent artillery to
Rhodes, and may conceivably have been prepared to allow the prior to go
there at the turn of the century.285 The new prior, Thomas Docwra, was
refused permission to perform conventual service but the king may have felt
that as he had only arrived in England in late 1504, the order for him to
return by 1508 was rather precipitous. In the meantime, the king was heavily
involved in crusade schemes, and donated funds from his own pocket
towards them. His interest in the order is perhaps further indicated by his
disgraced councillor Sir Richard Guildfords journey to the Holy Land in
1506. Besides making expiation for his nancial misdeeds, Guildford may
have been asked to make contact with the English langue in Rhodes: his
chaplain was certainly impressed by the warmth of the English brothers
hospitality there.286 The orders nomination of the king as its protector can
be seen both as a culmination of these contacts and an encouragement to
Nevertheless, if Thomas Docwras priorate in some respect represents the
most active period of cooperation between crown and order since the 1430s,
the fervent royal embrace in which the more prominent English Hospitallers
found themselves after about 1500 proved at times to be stiing, and
certainly constituted a brake on their freedom of action. The ideological

AOM397, fos. 140v141r. The chapter was not held until early 1510. AOM399, fo. 146v.
The bailiff of Eagle had been summoned to Rhodes in 1504, and had arrived by 7 May
1506. He was given licence to leave on 4 September 1508. The turcopoliers Robert Daniel (to
1508) and William Darrell were also resident, as was usual. AOM395, fos. 139v140r; AOM81,
fos. 44r, 108r.
See above.
R. Guylforde, The Pylgrymage of Sir Richard Guylforde to the Holy Land, ed. H. Ellis,
CS, 1st ser., 51 (London, 1851), 57.
160 The Hospital and the English Crown, 14601509

underpinnings, administrative personnel, and institutions of the early Tudor

state may not have been all that different from those of its Yorkist predeces-
sor, but the new regime did preside over a larger and more lavish court, a
more intrusive and interventionist government, and a growing insistence on
the duties of subjects to the crown.287 These developments had a more
noticeable impact on the Hospital in the reign of Henry VIII, but some of
them are foreshadowed in the reign of his father, whose addiction to diplo-
matic intrigue kept Weston, Kendal, and Docwra extremely busy on his
service, and whose decisive intervention in the orders Irish affairs began
the transformation of the notoriously independent priory of Ireland into an
arm of the state. Closer ties to court appear to have enhanced the prestige
bestowed on the order by its defence of Rhodes, but also led to some
brethren, particularly those from families prominent in royal service such
as the Westons, being singled out for favour and even attached to the court as
gentlemen pensioners. The physical growth of the court, too, led to in-
creased competition for grants of the orders property, such as Daubeneys
for Hampton Court. It is certainly true that earlier priors had been promin-
ent as diplomats, that kings had sometimes pressed the order to admit or
favour particular brethren, and that courtiers had often sought leases of its
property. The difference is more of degree than of kind, of tone than of
substance, but there are indications that all of these pressures were intensi-
fying from the 1490s onward. During the next reign they were to become
very pronounced indeed.
Recent views of Henry VIIs regime include M. C. Carpenter, Henry VII and the English
Polity, in B. J. Thompson (ed.), The Reign of Henry VII (Stamford, 1995), 1130; J. Watts,
A Newe Ffundacion Of is Crowne: Monarchy in the Age of Henry VII in ibid., 3153; and
S. J. Gunn, Early Tudor Government 14851558 (Basingstoke, 1995).

The Hospital and the English

Crown, 15091540

With hindsight it is readily apparent that Henry VIII was no great friend of
the order of St John, whose English, Welsh, and Irish houses he dissolved in
1540. Nevertheless, in his rst fteen or so years on the throne, during which
he posed on occasion as the champion of papal foreign policy against the
French and of Catholic orthodoxy against Luther, relations between the
crown and the Hospital were generally friendly, following the pattern estab-
lished during the reign of his father. The son, indeed, showed a positive and
gratifying interest in Levantine and crusading matters in the rst years of his
reign. He rewarded a hermit who had visited the Holy Sepulchre, patronized
the friars of Sion and monks of Sinai, and even dispatched a body of English
crusaders to assist Ferdinand of Aragon in north Africa.1 It was during this
reign, too, that the tentative English mercantile contacts with the eastern
Mediterranean begun in the reigns of Edward IV and Henry VII became an
ordinarie and usuall trade.2 The permanent community of Hospitaller
brethren in Rhodes was an important component in the embryonic English
network in the region and from the start Henry kept himself informed both
of the orders affairs as a whole and of the langues in particular. His
keenness to do so is indicated by a collection of Hospitaller and other
Levantine letters in the British Library which allows us to trace the corres-
pondence between crown and convent in unprecedented detail.3 In recogni-
tion of this interest, and hope that he would emulate his fathers active
support, Henry was appointed protector of the convent two years after his
accession to the throne.4 Fulsome letters were exchanged between England
and Rhodes, gifts of balsam and Turkey carpets dispatched to Henry and
Wolsey, and the wealthy prior of England, Thomas Docwra, allowed in
return to send large consignments of goods to convent in advance of his
responsions. In consideration of his qualities, Docwra was very nearly

LPFD, i, nos. 885 (7), 3586, 3587; E. Hoade, Western Pilgrims to the Holy Land (Jerusa-
lem, 1952), 96; Tyerman, England, 3512.
A. A. Ruddock, Italian Merchants and Shipping in Southampton 12701600 (Southamp-
ton, 1951), 21819, 231; Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, v. 624.
Otho C.ix.
LPFD, i, no. 767.
162 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

elected grand master in 1521, which would have constituted a considerable

coup for both langue and crown.5
Nevertheless, the new king could sometimes be cynical about the reports
of Turkish advances in the letters reaching him from Rhodes, and his
primary concerns when dealing with the English brethren of the order
appear to have been to remind them of their responsibilities as subjects
and to make them useful in his service. From the beginning the priors of
England and Ireland were treated as government servants and habitually
refused licence to go to the convent, while their brethren were sometimes
required to ght in France, and the order as a whole to contribute contin-
gents to royal armies. Some brethren were actively groomed for service,
being appointed gentlemen pensioners and recommended to the authorities
on Rhodes, but a corollary of such favour was that the king demanded his
proteges receive early preferment, which might cause disruption in the
langue. Above all, there was an insistence, reminiscent of Edward IVs,
that when the crowns priorities conicted with those of the order in any
respect the latter must give way. Accordingly royal interventions on behalf of
the English brethren in their struggle to subject the orders houses in Scotland
and Ireland to the authority of the langue ceased when the orders interests
no longer coincided with Henrys own. John Rawson, for instance, was
helped to secure possession of Kilmainham because a strong priory of
Ireland was a useful adjunct to the crowns authority there, but Henrys
insistence that those born in Ireland were ipso facto unt to hold any dignity
at all in the priory possibly contributed to Edmund Seyss rebellion against
his superior. Moreover, when Rawson tried to go to Rhodes to prosecute his
case against his brothers and to perform his conventual service, he was
denied permission to leave Ireland. Henrys withdrawal of support from
George Dundas, the favoured candidate of langue and convent for promo-
tion to Torphichen, in the hope of a slight strengthening of Margaret
Tudors position in Scotland provides an even more telling insight into
royal priorities.6
Yet the kings reservations about the Hospital had not become apparent in
the rst days of his reign and the order evidently held out hope of his
assistance in its struggles. In late September 15107 Amboise wrote to the
king congratulating him on his accession, encouraging him to work towards
the expedition planned by his father, and reporting the orders destruction
of the Mamluk eet on 23 August. The victory, warned the master, brought

J. Fontanus, De bello rhodio, libri tres, Clementi VII, Pont. Max. dedicati (The Hague,
1527), 1314 (Bii-Bii verso); Setton, Papacy, iii. 203.
See below, 24950, 2634.
Misdated in LPFD to 1 October 1509. The content of the letter is identical to that of
one enrolled in the Liber Bullarum for 151011, but dated there 28 September 1510. LPFD, i,
no. 191 (Otho C.ix, fo. 1); AOM400, fos. 223v224v; text in Codice diplomatico, ed. Pauli, ii.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 163

new dangers, for it had brought the Turkish and Mamluk rulers together in
determination to avenge the insult. It was therefore necessary for the order
to summon its brethren to Rhodes to meet the threat and the king was
requested to release Thomas Docwra for conventual service. In the following
May, the order petitioned Henry, like his father, to act as the orders pro-
tector, a title he retained until the dissolution.8
This letter is the rst of a series of bulletins on Levantine affairs directed to
the king, to Wolsey, and later to Thomas Cromwell. Although their content
and tone altered with events, the conclusionthat prompt and substantial
help should be sent to combat the Turkish menaceremained the same
throughout the period before 1522. In the rst few years of the reign the
order was fairly bullish, reporting the victories of Shah Ismail (the Sophi)
in Anatolia in 1511 and 151415 with some hope that these could provide a
platform for the overthrow of Turkish power in conjunction with western
crusading armies and Christian revolts.9 But when these dreams were shat-
tered by Ismails defeat at Chaldiran in 1515, the need for action against the
Turks became more pressing, particularly after Selim Is seizure of Egypt and
Syria in 151617. The Hospital spent the last six or seven years of its sojourn
on Rhodes in a state of invasion phobia, and the letters of masters Carretto
and LIsle Adam to Henry VIII and Wolsey document the evolution of its
Besides stressing the danger to the Christian east and consequently the
whole of Europe, the letters naturally emphasized the specic threat to
Rhodes, and the need for the presence of Hospitaller brethren, and especially
Docwra, at the convent, where his experience and prudence would be
invaluable.10 At the same time, the prior was requested or ordered to appear
in time for the chapters-general held in 1510, 1514, 1517, and 1520, and at
other times as well.11 Although Henry VIII refused to let Docwra leave the
realm, he was not completely insensitive to the orders needs. In 1513, in
response to a major invasion scare,12 the bailiff of Eagle, Thomas Newport,
the receiver, Thomas Shefeld, and a large contingent of conventual knights
were permitted to go to Rhodes.13 Having served in the royal army in France
in July and August, they probably travelled on without returning home, for

LPFD, i, no. 767; Galea, Henry VIII and the Order of St. John, 62.
LPFD, i, nos. 7667, ii, nos. 17, 23, 76, 715.
Docwras presence was requested in October 1509, November 1513, November 1515, and
August 1517. After 1515 there were repeated pleas that all available brethren should be sent to
Rhodes. LPFD, i, nos. 191, 2447; ii, nos. 1138, 3607, 3695, 4252.
AOM398, fo. 116v; 400, fos. 143r144r; 401, fo. 160rv; 404, fo. 146v; 408, fo. 135r; 405,
fo. 134r.
In January 1513 an Ottoman eet had gathered in the ports opposite Rhodes and an army
paraded before Bodrum. In fear of imminent attack the convent instructed its English brethren
to send 2,700 (12,000 ducats) by exchange to Rome to meet the threat. Claudius E.vi, fo. 112v.
On 10 April the master, Blanchefort, had requested that Docwra, Newport, and Shefeld
be dispatched to headquarters. LPFD, i, no. 1765.
164 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

on 3 September Newport and Shefeld were being received in Venice as

Henrys ambassadors.14 On 15 November the lieutenant master and council
wrote acknowledging the kings wish to keep Docwra with him and request-
ing that he should be sent when he could be spared. Newport and Shefeld
would be kept in Rhodes in the meantime.15 Although the prior had been
retained, the two younger knights had at least been allowed to proceed to the
convent with a considerable company and large sums of cash, although this
was probably provided by exchange rather than bullion export.16 Both were
retained on conventual service until 1518, when they were sent to the west as
ambassadors.17 Newport served as a proctor of the common treasury and as
an active naval commander, and sent several reports on eastern affairs to
England, while Shefeld was captain of Bodrum castle between 1514 and
1517.18 Judging by the variety and volume of the business they were asked to
undertake, the English contingent in Rhodes exercised an unusual degree of
inuence during these years.
Besides keeping the king appraised of events in the east the order also, at
Newports suggestion, dispatched gifts of balsam and carpets to Henry by
Edward Hills in January and further luxuries by the merchant Hugh Ball in
July 1515.19 These tokens may have been intended to encourage Henry to
allow Newport and Shefeld, who were refused permission to depart in July,
to stay in Rhodes, and to permit Docwra to travel thither. While not
permitting his departure, the king nevertheless allowed Docwra to make a
remarkable donation to the order in late 1515. On 7 December Lancelot
Docwra and the priors Rhodiot servant Francis Bell handed over 20,000
ducats in unworked silver and cash to the common treasury as a gift from
their master, with instructions that it should only be spent if the Turks laid
siege to the orders possessions. Should the prior need to, he was also to be
permitted to set the donation against his responsions, although there is
no sign this was ever done.20 Moved by this generosity, in 1517 the
order sent Hills back to England with gifts of carpets and camlet for king
and prior.21

See below, 170; LPFD, i, nos. 2234, 2254, 2263.
LPFD, i, no. 2447.
There were thirty-eight English knights present at the assembly held to elect a new master
on 15 December 1513, whereas only sixteen were at a similar gathering on 22 November 1512.
Newport, at least, brought plenty of ready money with him, and paid the responsions of his four
preceptories due in June 1514 in cash on his arrival. See below, Table 8.1; AOM82, fo. 38r; 402,
fo. 103v, 164rv.
LPFD, ii, no. 4485; AOM407, fo. 150v.
AOM81, fo. 46v; 406, fos. 220v221r; LPFD, ii, nos. 1756, 3814, 2760, 2898, 3611,
3814; AOM82, fos. 114v, 137v.
LPFD, ii, nos. 17, 715; AOM404, fo. 234v; Bosio, DellIstoria, ii. 615.
AOM404, fos. 149r150v. The prior continued to pay the responsions of his prioral
camerae until his death. His debts to the common treasury in 1520 dated from before 1504,
and only amounted to 82 8s. AOM406, fo. 160rv; 54, fos. 1v3r.
AOM406, fos. 155v156v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 165

Evidence for a close relationship between Rhodes and England in this

period is, however, mostly provided by letters written in convent, which
were naturally, given the orders need of his support, rather fulsome in their
praise of the king. The lack of surviving correspondence from England
makes it difcult to ascertain exactly how the Hospitallers were viewed at
court but other evidence hints of a certain cynicism towards news from
Rhodes, and that views of the order current at Westminster or Greenwich
were quite different from its perception of itself. Despite Henrys early
enthusiasm for eastern Mediterranean affairs, by the late 1510s the prospect
of Turkish attacks on the Christian east and calls for a crusade were some-
times treated with amusement at court. When Sebastian Giustinianini
informed the king about Turkish military preparations in March 1518
Henry replied that he had had news from Rhodes that there was nothing
to fear from the sultan in the current year, and, laughing, said that Venice
was on such good terms with the Turks that she had little cause for alarm
anyway. The real threat to Christian peace, he said, was provided by
Francis I.22 In fact, Carrettos recent letters had reported that, although
Selim was delayed in Egypt by an uprising, he was building eets in Egypt
and Rumelia, and that his dispatch of an ambassador to Rhodes to make
peace was probably a ruse before attack. Carretto was alarmed enough to
request that all brethren be sent to Rhodes to cope with this emergency.23
News from Rhodes was similarly misrepresented in December 1515, when
Wolsey wrote to the bishop of Worcester, then in Rome, to justify the kings
refusal to allow the collection of a half-tenth to support Hungary. Carrettos
last letters, he asserted, had mentioned nothing of any threat to Hungary and
had stated that the Turk was afraid of the Sophi, so Christendom had
nothing to fear.24 The orders belief that Ismails advances in Asia Minor
represented a rare opportunity for an offensive crusade had evidently pro-
duced only complacency in England. As late as May 1521, the Venetian
ambassador reported that the king and his courtiers had a quite different
perception of the way eastern affairs were progressing from Thomas
Docwra, who based his views on letters from Rhodes.25
A similarly cynical view was taken of the Hospitallers internal organiza-
tion. In common with other European rulers Henry VIII appears to have
regarded the orders system of promotion as an inconvenient obstacle to be

LPFD, ii, no. 4009. The king had expressed similar opinions in 1512. Housley, Religious
Warfare, 1423.
LPFD, ii, nos. 3607, 3695.
LPFD, ii, no. 1280. Wolsey was probably referring to optimistic reports of the Shahs
progress sent from Rhodes in the rst two months of 1515. A magistral missive of mid-July,
which should have reached England by December, had been much more gloomy, reporting that
although the issue was still in doubt, Selim would turn against Italy and Rhodes if he was
victorious, and that therefore Newport and Shefeld had been refused licence to depart. LPFD,
ii, nos. 17, 23, 194, 715.
CSPV, iii, no. 206.
166 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

bypassed rather than an essential component of its discipline and organiza-

tion. The king took a personal interest in the careers of English brethren such
as Richard Neville, Lancelot Docwra, and William Weston, and requested
their advancement by the master and council on Rhodes.26 He was particu-
larly insistent in the case of Neville, who was the brother of George Lord
Abergavenny, and a royal annuitant.27 Although Amboise wrote to the king
in October 1510 stating that he had received the young man as a novice of
his chamber, this failed to satisfy Henry, who requested that Neville be
provided with a preceptory forthwith.28 Frustrated of these wishes, the
king went over Carrettos head in July 1515, writing to Leo X. The letter
provides a real insight into the kings attitude, and early evidence for the
Hospitals role as a nishing school for naval ofcers and ambassadors.29
Complaining that he had written to three successive masters on the subject
and been ignored, Henry requested that since Neville had now nished his
military education at Rhodes, he should be provided to the rst vacant
preceptory in the orders gift.30 The kings appreciation of the orders mili-
tary utility but lack of understanding of or regard for its internal dynamic
were to receive further illustration as the reign progressed. His viewpoint
was apparently shared by Neville, who pleaded sickness so he could return
to England in late 1514,31 used the opportunity to make a complaint about
the turcopolier to Henry,32 and failed to return when promised.33
The acid test of the Hospitals relationship with the crown was the siege of
Rhodes in 1522. Unfortunately it is difcult to gauge what, if any, support
Henry VIIIs government gave to the Hospitallers in their hour of need.
Although it had been urging available brethren to come to the convent for
years, the order had less immediate warning of the sultans intentions than
had been the case in 1480, when a general citation had been issued nine
months before the siege began.34 Only on 19 March 1522, following the
return of spies from Constantinople, did LIsle Adam write to Henry VIII and
Wolsey pleading for the dispatch of the remainder of the English knights to
the convent, and stressing rather disingenuously that the orders chief hope
was in the king. Even then, the master admitted that he could not absolutely
verify that the assault was directed against Rhodes, although he pointed out

LPFD, i, no. 591; ii, no. 1138.
LPFD, i, no. 190 (36).
Ibid., no. 591; ii, no. 737.
See D. Allen, The Order of St. John as a School for Ambassadors in Counter Reforma-
tion Europe, MO, ii, 36379.
My italics: LPFD, ii, no. 737.
AOM404, fo. 147r.
LPFD, ii, no. 1264. The turcopolier, William Darrell, responded that he had had to
discipline Neville for immoderate speaking in a meeting of the orders council. Magistral lettersv
to the king and council upheld Darrells actions. Ibid., nos. 113940; Otho C.ix, fos. 27rv/34r .
Neville eventually returned to Rhodes in 1516 and was provided to Willoughton in 1519.
He fought in the siege of Rhodes in 1522. AOM405, fo. 130v; 408,fos. 135v136r; 410, fo. 177rv.
See above, Ch 5.2.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 167

that precautions had been taken on that basis and members of the order in
the west cited to come to Rhodes with ships.35 Further letters followed on 17
June, reporting that the Turkish eet was in sight, sending a French transla-
tion of Suleimans letter demanding the orders surrender, and requesting
that Docwra and Newport be allowed to export the coin they had collected
to Rhodes.36 This last point was signicant. Docwra, more aware of the
danger than the king and Wolsey, bought up large quantities of cloth and tin
in 1521, doubtless because he could not obtain licence to send cash, and sent
it to Rhodes. On 30 October Francis Bell agreed a composition with the
proctors of the treasury for 20,000 ducats worth of kersey and unworked tin
that Docwra had sent over and above his responsions to Rhodes. This
consignment was effectively an interest-free loan to the order to tide it
over any forthcoming siege.37 As the prior was not to be repaid until
1527, and was already old, it might almost be termed a gift. Furthermore,
in letters to the straticus and merchants of Messina in mid-October LIsle
Adam explained that due to the restrictions on the export of bullion from
England the prior and receiver of England had been commissioned to buy
cloth and tin for the use of the convent, the latter for both domestic use and
for the orders artillery. The responsions for 1521 had, they understood, just
reached Sicily in this form and they therefore requested that they be sent to
Rhodes without payment of duty, as the orders privileges required.38 It is
difcult to say whether there was any overlap between Docwras loan and
this other consignment of goods, but the commodities involved were much
the same, even if the quantities specied were not. Whether they were of as
much use to the order in 1522 as cash would have been is another matter.
In a sense, the cargoes of cloth and tin shipped to Rhodes were far more
crucial in determining the effectiveness of the English response to the siege
than any measures that could have been taken after news of it was received
in England. The English Hospitallers had been preparing for this event for
years, paying the increased responsions ordered by the convent in 1517,39
increasing the rents of selected estates,40 selling reserved assets,41 and sup-
porting an English contingent in Rhodes in 1522 that was more numerous
than it had been forty years before, and was also equipped with Henry VIIs
artillery.42 Docwras gift of 1515 is particularly noteworthy in this regard.
By contrast, the crowns reaction to the news of the siege was disappointing.
While a multitude of letters from Rome, Venice, and the Low Countries

LPFD, iii, nos. 211718.
Ibid., nos. 23245.
AOM409, fos. 117v118v.
AOM409, fos. 195v196r, 197v198r.
AOM54, fo. 2v.
See above, 70 and below, n. 55.
The order sold 40 acres of wood at Halse in 1519. Claudius E.vi, fo. 190rv.
There were probably more than twenty English brethren present at the siege of 1522. See
below, Ch. 8.3.
168 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

demonstrate that the government was kept abreast of every report and
rumour about the progress of the siege, there is no prima-facie evidence
that anything was done to help. Admittedly, Henry VIII had just renewed
the war with France when LIsle Adams letters reached England, and in
such circumstances it was difcult to prepare a military response yet there
is no evidence even that indulgences were offered for the order, and
no royal grants were issued to it. Indeed, far from helping nancially, in
1522 the crown included the prior in the assessment of an annual loan
to be devoted to the recovery of France. Docwra was to pay 1,000.43
Evidence from other sources may indicate more active Hospitaller involve-
ment in the English war effort too. The rst, a draft in the hand of the earl of
Surrey listing the ships which were to compose the navy to be sent against
France, includes the ship of the lord of St Johns in its number.44 The
second, the Dover harbour accounts, record that between 8 August and
2 September more than a hundred men of the lord of St. Johns were
shipped over to France at precisely the time when Surrey was building up
his troops for the operations which he undertook in September and Octo-
ber.45 Although both the priors inclusion in the loan and the troop move-
ments may have been set in motion before certain news of the siege reached
England in late August,46 the king did not show himself helpful in other
respects, as he refused to allow the export of bullion to aid the islands
defence despite LIsle Adams plea that he do so.47 The only indication that
the king intended to send help to the convent himself is provided by a letter
of 14 January 1523 written by Henrys ambassadors with the emperor to
their master. They thanked him for his promise of aid to Rhodes but told him
that the emperors chancellor, Gattinara, had said that there was no need of
it as the siege had been lifted.48 Conicting and often erroneous rumours of
the succour or premature fall of Rhodes bedevilled the Christian response to
the siege throughout and gave the governments of western Europe ample
excuse for not sending aid thither, but the kings lack of sympathy for the
masters requests that any monies sent to its aid should be submitted as cash
is very telling.
The orders response to the crisis was naturally rather more vigorous. On
10 September the priors men were followed across the Channel by the
horses of the receiver, John Babington, and a French Hospitaller.49 Although
there is no record of the receivers presence at the siege of Rhodes and he
does not appear in the minutes of the English langue from meetings in Italy

LPFD, iii, no. 2483.
Ibid., no. 2480.
LPFD, iv, Appendix no. 87, p. 3108; Chronicle of Calais, ed. Nichols, 312.
AOM54, fo. 67r.
AOM54, fos. 70r, 68r, 70v.
LPFD, iii, no. 2772.
LPFD, iv, Appendix no. 87, p.3109.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 169

in 1523 it is most probable that he was involved in nancial transactions on

the orders behalf rather than royal service on this occasion, as by mid-
October he seems to have been in southern France to pick up monies he
had exchanged for bankers drafts in London. These sums were mostly
handed over to deputies appointed to receive them by the master.50 News
of the siege, and a magistral letter of 17 June addressed to Babington, had
reached Clerkenwell on 28 August, and couriers had immediately been
dispatched to summon the English preceptors and prior of Ireland to a
provincial chapter,51 which was held on 18 September.52 With Babington
still absent, the gathering was composed of the prior and the ve other
preceptors resident in England and Wales.53 In accordance with the masters
instructions, they prepared to go to Rhodes, and leased their command-
eries.54 The order also managed to let other estates worth nearly 400, some
of them for higher rents than before.55 On 10 November a quittance was
issued for 1,766 13s. 4d. (8,000 ecus) which Babington had paid the
Genoese merchant Antonio Vivaldi, who sent the equivalent sum to the
receiver of the priory of Auvergne in Lyons. A further 13,000 ecus
(2,925) was transferred to Babington, again using Vivaldis ofces, when
he reached Lyons later in the year and was then handed over to the com-
mander of Ville Franche.56 The Nazi company of Lyons were also given
6,000 ducats (1,400) which they sent by exchange to the receivers of the
priories of Barletta and Venice,57 and Babington consigned 1,649 ecus to
Fr. Jean Yseran in Marseilles for the use of individual English brethren in
Rhodes and of Thomas Newport when he should reach Provence.58 But this
descent was never to occur. The order nally managed to dispatch a ship in
December 1522 or January 1523, possibly the one in which Surrey had been
ferrying troops over to France in the summer. Commanded by Newport, it
emulated the considerable misfortunes of earlier attempts to relieve Rhodes
by foundering off the coast of Spain on 24 January 1523, along with

AOM54, fos. 68r, 70v, 70r. At least some of these letters were sent by courier, however.
Ibid., fo. 68r.
Ibid., fos. 70r, 67r.
Claudius E.vi, fo. 212r.
Ibid. These were Thomas Newport, Edward Roche, Roger Boydell, Clement West, and
Thomas Golyn. The English preceptors in Rhodes were John Bothe, the turcopolier, Thomas
Shefeld, William Weston, Alban Pole, Nicholas Fairfax, Edward Hills, and Richard Neville. As
several preceptories were vacant due to the recent deaths of Lancelot Docwra and William
Corbet this left only the prior of Ireland and John Babington as holders of English preceptories
absent from the meeting.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 212r214v.
The farm of Hareeld was increased from 19 to 20, that of six cottages in London from
3 3s. 4d. to 4 13s. 4d., that of Sutton-at-Hone from 48 to 50, and that of Edgeware from 9
6s. 8d. to 10. Claudius E.vi, fos. 163v164r, 225v226r, 227v228r, 214v215r, 218v219r.
AOM54, fo. 68r.
Ibid., fo. 68v.
Ibid., fo. 70v.
170 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

its captain and most of its contingent.59 The other preceptors, despite farm-
ing their estates, may not have set off for the convent by the time that news
of the fall of Rhodes reached England in the early months of 1523.
If the response of the Hospitallers in England to news of the siege was on
an impressive scale it was also rather ponderous, and it seems probable that
some of their resources were diverted into the French war at exactly the time
when they should have been used to aid the beleaguered convent. Certainly it
would not have been the rst time Henry VIII had required the order to
provide a contingent in the royal army. The two Docwras, Newport, Shef-
eld, and William Weston had been appointed to raise and lead a force of
300 men to serve in the vanguard of the royal army in France in 1513,
although in appointing them the king was careful to stress that he had been
expressly requested to ght by Julius II.60 While there are no other certain
instances of English Hospitallers serving in a military capacity for the crown
until the 1540s, save in Ireland, the cost of providing contingents for the
royal army in 1513 and 1522 appears to have prompted the order to require
some of its tenants to provide armed men at their own expense in the event
of further expeditions.61 Henry VIIIs government also found plenty of other
occasions to employ the priors of England and Ireland, and occasionally
other brethren as well. John Rawson was kept in Ireland almost continu-
ously between 1511 and 1525, and consistently refused licence to go and
perform his conventual service. Moreover when he did go to Italy, and in
1527 exchanged the priorate for the turcopoliership held by John Babington,
the king, cutting off his incipient career as a conventual bailiff, ordered him
to reassume his former dignity.62 Thomas Docwra was in a similar position.
The prior of England became a career diplomat after 1509 and was abroad
on diplomatic business in 1510, 1511, 1514, and every year from 1517 to
1521. He served on commissions to ratify the renewal of the treaty of
Etaples and receive Louis XIIs oath to pay the arrears of the French pension
to the English crown in 1510,63 to congratulate the pope on his accession in
early 1514,64 to convey the lady Mary to France and witness her marriage to
Louis XII in the same year,65 and to witness Francis Is signature to the
Treaty of London and surrender Tournai to the French in the winter of
151819.66 With Thomas Newport, he accompanied the king to France in
The account book of the priory of England relates that Newport had morte e siperso su la
mer dispagna. Ibid., fos. 93v, 107r.
In the event the priors retinue numbered only 200 or 205 men. LPFD, i, nos. 1836 (3),
2052, 2053 (2), 2392; Chronicle of Calais, ed. Nichols, 1011.
PRO LR2/62, fo. 18r.
See below, Ch. 7.
LPFD, i, nos. 455, 508, 519 (47), 538, appendix, nos. 10, 11.
LPFD, ii, p. 1467. Docwra had been appointed to go to the Lateran council in 1512, but
the ambassadors had remained at home because of the war in Italy. LPFD, i, nos. 1048, 1067.
LPFD, i, nos. 3226 (21), 3186, 3193, 3240, 3298, 3324 (33), 3361, 3424; ii, no. 68.
LPFD, ii, nos. 4564, 4582, 4617, 4649, 46523, 4661, 4663, 4669, iii, nos. 58, 71;
Chronicle of Calais, ed. Nichols, 1718.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 171

June 1520 and played a prominent part in the festivities which accompanied
their meeting on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, acting as a judge of the jousts
and other competitions which enlivened the proceedings.67 The prior also
attended on the king and Wolsey when they met Charles V in the following
month68 and in October and November 1521 he headed his rst embassy, to
the emperor at Courtrai, in a last-ditch English attempt to restore the peace
agreed in 1518. He must have been cruelly aware that his failure to get
Charles to agree to the French peace terms might doom Rhodes to fall, as
arguably it did.69
Even when Docwra was in England, much of his time was taken up with
diplomatic and ceremonial business. He attended important public occa-
sions such as Henry VIIs funeral, his sons coronation, Wolseys procession
to celebrate his promotion to cardinal in 1515, and Charles Vs landing at
Dover in May 1522.70 He was sometimes in the company of foreign ambas-
sadors. During May 1516, for example, Docwra was one of three ecclesiasts
who accompanied the Scots ambassadors to dinner at Wolseys, while in the
same month he acted as an interpreter between the duke of Suffolk and the
Venetian ambassador.71 More formal diplomatic employment was provided
in May 1524 when he was commissioned to treat with the imperial ambas-
sadors for a joint invasion of France.72
None of this was new, and nor was the priors attendance at parliament
and on the council, which seems to have been fairly assiduous.73 But
the sheer weight of diplomatic and judicial business laid on Thomas Doc-
wras shoulders was without recent precedent, reecting an appreciation
of his worth as a talented homme daffaires, as well as the expansion
of the Tudor state. Besides the usual commissions of the peace, of sewers,
and of walls and ditches, the prior was placed in charge of conducting
searches for suspicious persons in the Islington ward of London in 1519
and 15245, and other members and servants of the order were also named

LPFD, iii, nos. 704 (pp. 240, 243), 869 (pp. 304, 308, 313); Rutland Papers: Original
Documents Illustrative of the Courts and Times of Henry VII and Henry VIII, ed. W. Jerdan,
CS, 1st ser., 21 (London, 1842), 302, 45.
LPFD, iii, no. 906; Rutland Papers, ed. Jerdan, 73.
LPFD, iii, nos. 1705, 17078, 1712, 171415, 1727, 1733, 1736, 1738, 17501, 1753,
1768, 1777, 1778.
LPFD, i, no. 20 (p. 14); H. Miller, Henry VIII and the English Nobility (Oxford, 1986),
923; LPFD, ii, no. 1153.
LPFD, ii, nos. 1864, 1870.
LPFD, iv, nos. 363, 365.
Docwra was present in council in sessions in autumn 1509, October 1510, June 1514, May
1516, August 1520, and October 1525, and was also often present when the council sat as a
court in Star Chamber. He sat in virtually every parliament which occurred while he was prior,
and served as a trier of petitions in the assemblies of 1515 and 1523. LPFD, i, nos. 190 (25), 257
(37), 3018; J. A. Guy, The Cardinals Court: The Impact of Thomas Wolsey in Star Chamber
(Hassocks, 1977), 379, 42; G. R. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government,
3 vols. (Cambridge, 197483), i. 319; LPFD, ii, no. 1856; Addenda, no. 160; iii, Appendix, no.
12; iii, no. 2956.
172 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

to them.74 More occasional employment was also offered to Docwra on

commissions of gaol delivery in 1511, to muster soldiers at Southampton in
May 1512, to inquire into the extortions of the late masters of the mint in the
same year and as an assessor of loans and collector of the subsidy for the
recovery of France in 1522 and 1523, a similar demonstration of priorities to
that offered by Edward IV in 1480.75 The prior was employed on judicial
business, too, being appointed to hear various suits in 1519 and 1524 and to
determine disputes between English and French merchants in 1517.76 He
was also among the peers who passed judgement against the duke of Buck-
ingham in 1521.77
Royal service was not entirely without its rewards. The prior was able to
obtain small grants and mortmain licences from the crown in the early years
of Henry VIIIs reign and was made guardian of Kildares heir, Thomas
Fitzgerald, when the latter remained in England as a hostage for his fathers
good behaviour.78 Although it is not known when he joined the order, the
fact that Thomass uncle, John Fitzgerald, had become a Hospitaller by 1527
might indicate some family affection for the order.79 At any rate Bucking-
ham, who purchased Fitzgeralds wardship from the crown in 1519, was
sufciently impressed with Docwras care of the boy to consign his illegit-
imate son Francis to the prior when he was arrested in the following year.80
It was natural that the priors service at court and overseas should bring
him closer to the peers and gentlemen serving the crown and there are signs
that Docwra did his best to turn this to his advantage. In 1517 the convent
on Rhodes conrmed grants of confraternity made by an English provincial
chapter in the previous year to Thomas Stanley, earl of Derby, and to the
priors colleague on diplomatic work, Charles Somerset earl of Worcester.81
Another courtier who had served with the prior overseas, Sir Nicholas Vaux
(created Lord Vaux in 1522), was buried at the priory in 1523,82 and
Docwra also had dealings with the earl of Northumberland, who was
related to the Hospitaller knight Nicholas Fairfax, and to whom the prior
lent money in the early 1520s.83 But links with court might also have helped
The prior was regularly named to commissions of the peace in Middlesex, Essex, Hert-
fordshire, Warwickshire, and Bedfordshire. LPFD, passim. His service as a commissioner of the
search is recorded in LPFD, iii, no. 365; iv, no. 1082; Addenda, nos. 4302.
LPFD, i, nos. 731 (27), 969 (17), 1083 (24), 1221 (6); iii, nos. 2485, 3504; iv, no. 214 (82).
LPFD, iii, no. 571; Addenda, no. 422; ii, no. 3861.
LPFD, iii, no. 1284 (p.493).
LPFD, i, no. 414 (13), iii, no. 2482 (11), no. 1070 (30).
AOM412, fo. 201v.
C. Rawcliffe, The Staffords, Earls of Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham 13941521
(Cambridge, 1978), 137; LPFD, iii, no. 1285, pp.5024.
AOM406, fos. 155rv, 156r.
Miller, English Nobility, 18; Smith, PRO PROB11/21 (PCC 11 Bodfelde).
LPFD, Addenda, no. 312 (i, iv); iv, no. 3380. Fairfax was one of the earls attorneys
appointed to receive the prots of his courts in Lent 1521. On Fairfaxs death in 1523
Northumberland acted as the executor of his spolia. LPFD, Addenda, no. 312 (i); AOM54,
fo. 95r.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 173

to attract the unwelcome attention of those seeking grants of the orders

property or the ofces in its gift. The Hospitaller estates in and around
London were particularly attractive to land-hungry crown servants in
Henry VIIIs reign, as the court expanded. Thus an orchard and gardens
belonging to the priory in Fleet street, which had been demised to Richard
Empson for a term of ninety-nine years, were regranted to Thomas Wolsey
by the rst provincial chapter held after Empsons execution.84 Similar
alacrity was demonstrated by the cardinal when another of the orders
houses fell vacant by the death of Thomas Layeland in 1523. Wolsey
asked it should be given to Thomas Tonge, Norroy Herald, in recompense
for the services of his brother, father, and ancestors to the religion.85 In the
same year the cardinal sent a rather stronger letter on the subject of the
orders house at Bridewell, which the king had asked should be allocated to
the justices Sir John Fineux and John Roper, who needed a convenient house
to keep their records in. Docwras reply that a reversion of the property had
already been granted to Sir Thomas Neville under capitular seal, and could
not be revoked, brought a sharp response. Neville, said Wolsey, had remitted
all interest in the matter to the king, with the tenor of whose letters the prior
should comply without excuse or delay.86 Further requests for property were
initiated by Richard Lord Darcy and others.87
The most blatant pressure from court for a grant of Hospitaller property
in fact came from the cardinal himself. Although Hampton Court had been
leased to him on much the same terms as Daubeney had held it in 1514, the
cardinal sought a permanent grant of the property. In return he proposed to
give the order enough to be able to purchase a replacement estate of equal
value, but when his proposal was put to the chapter-general in 1517, it
replied sternly that the original grant of 1495 was in breach of the statutes
and refused to countenance anything as unseemly as exchanging estates for
cash. Instead it was ordained that the cardinal should only have a permanent
grant of the manor if he could supply in exchange a property free from
litigation and worth a third more than Hampton Court.88
Although some of his business was doubtless nominal, there remains the
impression that Docwras workload in the royal service was exceptional,
and must have affected the running of the priory. It seems likely that the
prior found it difcult to discharge his duties, particularly with respect to his
defence of the orders rights in the courts. After 1516 the vice-receiver, John
Babington, and Clement West were prosecuting the farmers of Slebech for
over 90 which had been owing on Robert Evers death,89 and the Hospital
was also defending its rights over Halston,90 and against the earl of Devon in
the courts.91 Despite his claims to be allowed a pension against his legal

84 85 86
LPFD, i, no. 357 (43). LPFD, iii, no. 3679. Ibid., no. 3678.
87 88
LPFD, Addenda, no. 211; iii, no. 1669. AOM406, fos. 162v164r.
89 v 90 91
AOM54, fo. 13 . PRO REQ2/4/212. LPFD, iv, no. 771 (p. 341).
174 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

costs, the priors liberal distribution of loans and gifts to the convent in the
1510s and 1520s show that the difculty in prosecuting such actions was not
lack of money to execute them. Yet the orders legal business was evidently
being neglected. On 27 March 1517 the convent complained to the prior
that it had learned that much business touching the religion was in great
peril in England because of a lack of solicitors and promoters in the kings
courts and that it expected the prior to act in these matters.92 Furthermore,
when Thomas Newport was appointed the orders ambassador to Henry
VIII in June 1518 he was instructed not only to ask for the kings help in
furthering the crusade planned by Leo X, but also his aid in conserving the
Hospitals liberty and property in its many and various actions in Eng-
land.93 Whether Docwra was too busy to attend to affairs properly or was
neglecting those actions that did not directly concern the prioral estates
because of pique at the convents refusal to grant him a pension to uphold
his legal costs is unclear.
In addition to legal actions against the farmers of its estates, in 151819
the order was also forced to defend its rights of sanctuary against the crown.
These had already come under attack from royal justices in the reigns of
Edward IV and Henry VII, but an important test case begun in 1516 was to
destroy the Hospitallers claims in this eld.94 The affair was triggered by the
murder of John Pauncefote, a Gloucestershire justice shot and mutilated on
his way to the sessions in 1516. One of the murderers, Sir John Savage,
sheriff of Worcester, took sanctuary at Clerkenwell after the killing but was
seized a month later and taken to the Tower. He recited the priorys title to
sanctuary by prescription, papal bull, royal conrmation, and allowance in
the reigns of Henrys VII and VIII in his defence.95 Although by the following
year Savage had waived his plea, the prior was nevertheless summoned to
justify the claims of his house. On 10 November 1519, in a session of the
Inner Star Chamber at which the king himself presided, Wolsey and the two
chief justices argued over the priorys rights. Henry, who seems to have taken
a personal interest in this matter, stated that sanctuary had never been
intended to serve for voluntary murder and vowed that he would reduce
the privilege to the original plan intended by its founders.96 Other rulings

AOM406, fos. 155v156r.
AOM407, fos. 176r177r.
Thornley, Sanctuary, 1978, 2001; The Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. J. H. Baker,
2 vols. (London, 19768), ii. 3424. The text of the 151619 action is provided in Reports
dascuns cases . . . de Robert Keilwey Esquire, ed. J. Croke (London, 1688), 188a192b.
The justices had declared in 1399 that the king could not alienate the royal prerogative of
pardoning felony, although those who already held such rights by prescription supported by
allowance in eyre might legitimately continue to exercise them. By the time of Henry VIII no
sanctuary could be maintained in law, unless the owner could show a royal grant as the basis of
the privilege, supported by usage and by allowance in eyre. The pleading of papal bulls was not
only useless but dangerous, as it left those resorting to such expedients liable to the penalties of
praemunire. Thornley, Sanctuary, 1978.
Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. Baker, ii. 3434; Thornley, Sanctuary, 2001.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 175

against felons who took sanctuary on the orders property followed and by
1520 its privileges had effectively been lost, an important factor in Docwras
defeat being his failure to produce sufcient evidence of a royal grant of
sanctuary rights to the order.97
Another important challenge to the order was, like the attack on sanctu-
ary, not aimed chiey at the Hospital but a matter which nevertheless came
to involve it. The 1517 inquisition into rural depopulation and enclosure
laid down that where houses had decayed or been destroyed and agricultural
land converted into pasture since the statutes passed against enclosure in
1489, 1514, and 1515 the tenant would be required to pay half the value of
the same houses and lands to the king or lord of the fee until they were
rebuilt or restored to their original usage.98 A substantial number of mag-
nates fell foul of this inquiry, the prior of St John prominent among them.99
The order or its farmers were found to have enclosed land at Shingay in
Cambridgeshire, Greenham and Woolhampton in Berkshire, at Hogshaw
and Addington in Buckinghamshire, Kirby in Northamptonshire, and
Ryton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire, an impressive showing considering
that returns only survive for eleven counties and are not always complete.100
Subsequent proceedings against Docwra in chancery and the Exchequer
survive in the cases of Greenham, Woolhampton, and Hogshaw. The priors
servant Thomas Layeland appeared in chancery to answer for the enclosures
at Greenham and Woolhampton in 1518. Although Layeland pleaded that
land use there alternated between tillage and pasture, the prior was never-
theless put under a bond of 100 to rebuild the devastated messuages in
each.101 The case against the farmer of Hogshaw, Ralph Lane, was rather
stronger. Eight messuages belonging to the Hospital had been allowed to
decay during his occupation of the property and 213 acres of land, worth
15 per annum, had been enclosed.102 Under the statute of 1489, when Lane
failed to repair the damage to the decayed houses, the moiety of their prots
fell to the crown. Accordingly, the moieties of certain messuages, worth

LPFD, Addenda, no. 208; Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. Baker, 344.
E. Kerridge, The Returns of the Inquisitions of Depopulation, EHR 70 (1955), 21228,
at 21213; Statutes, iii. 127, 1767.
Nine lay peers, three bishops, thirty-two knights, and fty-one heads of religious houses
(including Docwra) were proceeded against. J. J. Scarisbrick, Cardinal Wolsey and the Com-
mon Weal, in Ives et al. (eds.), Wealth and Power in Tudor England, 4567, at 63, 60.
Scarisbrick, Cardinal Wolsey, 60; I. S. Leadam, The Inquisition of 1517: Inclosures and
Evictions, Part III, London and Suburbs, TRHS, 2nd ser., 8 (1894), 253331, at 304; The
Domesday of Inclosures 15171518, ed. I. S. Leadam, 2 vols., consecutively paged (London,
1897), 11718, 150, 1925, 2001, 2945, 429. An incomplete entry also indicates that at least
some of the orders estates at Sandford in Oxfordshire had been enclosed. Ibid. 3623.
Scarisbrick, Cardinal Wolsey, 60; Kerridge, Inquisitions of Depopulation, 216. Scar-
isbrick says Melchbourne here, citing Kerridge, but it seems clear that Kerridge is referring to
Greenham and Woolhampton, as he states that the enclosed lands amounted to 46 acres and two
messuages in two Berkshire villages, which is equivalent to the returns for the latter settlements
given by the inquisition of 1517. Domesday of Inclosures, ed. Leadam, 11718, 150.
Domesday of Inclosures, ed. Leadam, 1925.
176 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

69s. 4d. per annum, were granted to one of the enclosure commissioners,
Roger Wigston, in May 1527.103 Moreover, the grant was backdated to
November 1515, and in 1531 the prior ordered to pay all that was thus
owing from the previous fteen years.104 This was a considerable sum, and if
the rest of the orders property at Hogshaw was dealt with in a similar way,
the prior would have been left with a bill of over 100 from only one of his
estates. Half the prots of other Hospitaller estates under investigation in
1517 may also have been seized, although placing the offending landlord
under a bond to repair decayed properties was a more common penalty.
Even if the sequestration was not repeated elsewhere, it illustrated the
potential dangers of the orders allowing or even encouraging its tenants to
enclose their lands. Clauses allowing enclosure were common in leases
granted in provincial chapter, and Ralph Lane had been so licensed in two
leases granted to him since the relevant statutes had passed.105
In the aftermath of the fall of Rhodes, the extent of the priors involvement
in English affairs almost certainly militated against his visiting Italy and
participating in conventual business there. Yet his closeness to the court
must also have helped him advocate the orders interests there at an uncer-
tain time during which the convent migrated around Italy without a per-
manent home, harried by war, ravaged by plague, and threatened with
the conscation of its eet and, worse still, its lands in Portugal, Naples,
and Germany.106 Initially, the orders existence was not threatened in Eng-
land, despite reports from English agents in Rome that the master, Philippe
Villiers de LIsle Adam, was held in contempt by Adrian VI and that
Thomas Shefeld, the masters seneschal, and bailiff of Eagle, had disre-
garded the royal will.107 Although the evidence is uncertain, Henry may
even have allowed Docwra a brief visit to the convent in 1523. On 22
September LIsle Adam wrote to the king saying that he had sent our
prior and the turcopolier, William Weston, to England the previous
month, but that they had been delayed by the orders entry into Rome.108
It seems unlikely, however, that the dignitary in question was Thomas
Docwra rather than another prior of the order. In July 1523 Docwra was
reported to be supporting one Swift in a suit for the lands of Lord

LPFD, iv, no. 3142 (18); Domesday of Inclosures, ed. Leadam, 4902.
Domesday of Inclosures, ed. Leadam, 4902.
Claudius E.vi, fos. 38rv, 110rv.
LPFD, iv, 2810, 2915, 4666; see below, n. 113.
LPFD, iii, no. 3025 (Hannibal to Wolsey, 15 May 1523). Hannibal reported that the
master was ruled by Shefeld, who had not done his duty (to cast his vote for Docwra?) in the
magistral election of 1521 and in other things. On the same date a junior knight, Nicholas
Roberts, wrote to the earl of Surrey complaining that despite having presented the letters of the
king, Wolsey, and Norfolk in his favour to the master, and another such letter of recommenda-
tion to Shefeld, the bailiff of Eagle had persuaded LIsle Adam to confer the vacant preceptory
of Dinmore on him instead, and had said that neither the cardinal nor my lords grace should
think to rule the master. Ibid., no. 3026.
LPFD, iii, nos. 33567.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 177

Mounteagle,109 and he was not present at meetings of the English langue

held in July and August.110 Further letters from the master in December
reported Clement VIIs election and eagerness to restore the Hospital, nar-
rated that the pope had asked the emperor for the grant of Malta and other
necessities, and besought the king to protect the order in his dominions.111
In response, Henry VIII wrote on the Hospitals behalf to the kings of
Hungary and Poland in January 1524, and reported to LIsle Adam that he
was impressed by the care and love with which his emissaries had outlined
its needs, and had written to Charles V on behalf of its request for Malta.112
At a time when the viceroy of Naples and the king of Portugal had seques-
trated various of the orders lands, and when the priory of Castile was being
disputed between two ducal bastards, the support of Henry VIII must have
come as a welcome relief.113 But it came, as ever, at a price. In August 1524
the turcopolier, William Weston, set off to Italy with fourteen novices to
replenish the numbers of English knights in convent. Travelling incognito as
Christopher Barber he was entrusted with 50,000 crowns (ecus), which
were to be delivered to Henrys agents in Rome, who would then keep it
ready to be passed on to the ultimate beneciary, the renegade duke of
Bourbon. The party travelled via Antwerp and had reached the convent at
Viterbo by 3 October.114 There are conicting reports of what then hap-
pened to the money. John Clerk wrote to Wolsey from Rome on 10 October
saying that Sir John Russell had arrived on the 8th with the funds sent with
the turcopolier, yet on the same day Russell reported that he had met Weston
at Viterbo, but, having heard news of the break-up of Bourbons army, had
left the cash with him and returned to Rome.115 The money seems to have
remained with William Weston until December, by which time the cardinal
had advised that it should be transferred home by exchange.116 Carrying so
much cash around, especially in the turbulent conditions then prevailing in
Italy, may have put Weston in some danger. The pope advised him not to stay
in Viterbo with it for fear of the pro-French Orsini, but he remained there
nonetheless, so ill with gout that when Wolseys will became known he was
unable to ride to Rome to hand over his charge.117

Ibid., nos. 33567, 3187. The prior dispatched with the turcopolier was not named. BL
MS Cotton Vitellius B.v, fo. 203.
BDVTE, 46.
LPFD, iii, nos. 3610, 3664.
AOM57 cc. 24 (originally 13); Galea, Henry VIII, 5961. For the text and an English
translation of Henrys letter to the king of Poland, see B. Szczesniak, The Knights Hospitallers in
Poland and Lithuania (The Hague, 1969), 389.
R. Valentini, I Cavalieri di S. Giovanni de Rodi a Malta: Trattative diplomatiche,
Archivum Melitense, 9/4 (1934), 137237, at 139; Sire, Knights of Malta 151.
LPFD, iv, no. 590; BDVTE, 401.
LPFD, iv, nos. 7245.
Ibid., no. 909.
178 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

The Hospitallers again proved useful when the English government

sought the return of its funds. In early December Russell, seeking to avoid
the exorbitant fees of the Rome bankers, entrusted 10,000 crowns to Doc-
wras servant Francis Bell, who had a commission from his master to receive
the money for the order. Docwra would repay the sum in like money or
sterling in six months time.118 By the time Wolsey changed his mind early in
the following year, and ordered that the money be entrusted to the imperi-
alists, the turcopolier and Bell had returned to England along with 18,000
The frenzied diplomacy of the 1520s continued to provide service for the
English Hospitallers as couriers for both crown and order. When LIsle
Adam visited Spain in 1525 to try to arrange a peace between the emperor
and the then captive Francis I the junior knight Bryan Tunstall was sent to
the English ambassadors in Toledo with letters.120 Early in the following
year LIsle Adam, still in Madrid, dispatched Ambrose Layton, the
commander of Yeaveley, to the king with instructions to seek help in re-
establishing the order, and the same messenger carried Henry VIIIs replies to
the masters letters in August.121 Another Hospitaller, Antonio Bosio, also
visited England in 1525/6. Although the instructions given to Layton and
Bosio do not survive, it is clear that their missions to England were chiey
connected with the orders projected recapture of Rhodes, in which Bosio
was the leading actor. A letter written by a Rhodiot priest to the master in
1525 reporting the willingness of the janissaries and Rhodiots on the island
to hand it over survives among the Hospitaller correspondence in the British
Library, while in the following year John III of Portugal wrote to Henry VIII
thanking him for his letters on the affair of Rhodes, which had been carried
to him by Bosio, and promising to donate 15,000 ducats to the cause.122
A letter from Bosio to the cardinal requesting Henrys answer to the letters of
the pope, emperor, king of Portugal, and master in the orders favour, and
stressing that the matter was not to be mentioned to the Venetians or
Florentines, also survives.123
Relations between crown and order thus appear to have been quite
constructive after the siege of Rhodes. Yet there are hints that by 1526
king and cardinal were losing patience with the order. Henry VIII took
more than six months to reply to the letters sent with Layton in late January
1526 and when he did so expressed disappointment at the orders failure to

LPFD, nos. 9234.
Ibid., nos. 10856. Bell had been given a safe conduct by the order on 5 December, and on
4 January John Babington was ordered to pay Weston 442 ducats for his stipend in going on the
orders business to the king. AOM411, fos. 205r, 188v.
LPFD, iv, nos. 1655, 1684.
Ibid., nos. 19345; AOM57, c. 9 (originally 5); Galea, Henry VIII, 623.
LPFD, iv, nos. 2270, 2271 (i). For this affair see Vatin, LOrdre, 36871.
LPFD, iv, no. 2271 (ii).
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 179

decide on the offer of Malta, but hoped that the forthcoming chapter-general
would come to a decision about it and asked to be informed as soon as it did
so.124 Although the king promised continued support for the Hospital in this
letter, relations between crown and convent had come to a very poor pass by
the rst months of 1527. The cause of the breakdown is unclear, but seems to
have been made up of several elements. There may have been genuine
irritation in England that despite the kings approval of the cession of
Malta, and his letters to other monarchs in the orders favour, it had still
failed to nd a home. Until it should do so, it could hardly full its functions
efciently and its endowments and responsions might be seen as being
wasted. Additionally, there are hints that Henry, always touchy where
matters of honour were concerned, was piqued that the master of the
order had seen t to visit the emperor and Francis I but failed to pay his
respects to him. He was after all the orders protector, a title constantly
stressed in the convents correspondence, yet his protection was evidently
not as worthwhile as that of his rivals. LIsle Adam wrote to Henry in
February 1527 stressing that he had wanted to visit England from Bordeaux,
but had been recalled by the pope to discuss the recovery of Rhodes.125
A nal grief was provided by the orders delay in granting the prioral
preceptory of Sandford to Wolsey for his projected college at Oxford, a
decision which had been held over until the chapter-general which was to be
held at Viterbo in May. Despite a conciliatory gift of carpets by Thomas
Docwra, there must be a suspicion that the cardinal, irked at this obstruction
of his plans, played on the kings sense of injury to bring about what
occurred in early 1527.126
On 25 February 1527 LIsle Adam wrote to the king apologizing for his
failure to visit England, narrating his return journey to the convent and
recounting that on arriving in Viterbo he had been shocked to learn that
Henry had forbidden the goods of the order to be taken out of England and
ordered the English knights to serve at Calais. He begged the king to desist
from this scheme, which would serve as an evil example to other Christian
princes.127 A urry of orders demonstrates how seriously the convent took
this threat. An envoy, Carlo Pipa, was dispatched to England and the prior
was given power to hand Sandford over to the cardinal in advance of the
decision of chapter. In return, Wolsey was asked to induce the king to revoke
his letter forbidding the export of responsions and ordering its brethren
to repair to Calais.128 Docwra, however, was probably already sick, the
AOM57, c. 9 (originally 5).
LPFD, iv, no. 2915.
Ibid., no. 6184 (p. 2767).
Ibid., no. 2915. The master also went on to say that he would try to comply with Henrys
letter of 14 January, although the latter, curiously, made no mention of the Calais business at all,
but rather sought the masters help in securing preferment for the kings Latin secretary, Peter
Vannes. AOM57, c. 10 (originally 6); Galea, Henry VIII, 623.
AOM412, fos. 193rv, 249rv; LPFD, iv, no. 2909.
180 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

vultures were hovering over the priory, and the king apparently refused to
see Pipa. The priors death on 17 April129 could not have come at a worse
time. Not only had Pipas mission failed to secure the abandonment of
the Calais scheme, but as the prior lay dying the king expressed his wish
to grant the prioral lands and those of other Hospitaller brethren to courtiers
as they fell vacant. Thus Thomas Magnus wrote to Wolsey on 12 April
requesting that provision should be made for Henrys illegitimate son the
duke of Richmond out of the orders estates.130 The threat was serious
enough for the courtier Sir Richard Weston, brother of the turcopolier
William, to write to the cardinal begging that his siblings rights be upheld
and he be promoted to the dignity should Docwra die.131 Despite this
appeal, the king made good his threats on the priors death, for both
the prioral estates and Docwras personal possessions were seized by the
The chapter-general which met in Viterbo on 20 May 1527133 was still
unaware of these developments, although steps were taken to remedy the
issues which LIsle Adam evidently believed lay behind the Calais scheme,
namely the delay in granting the Oxfordshire preceptory of Sandford to
Wolsey and the orders failure to nd a home. The commission to Docwra,
Alban Pole, and John Babington to hand over Francford to the cardinal was
ratied in chapter on 31 May and, under pressure from the Spanish and
German langues to decide on the emperors offer of Malta, the chapter voted
on 20 May to accept the island.134
Whether because there had been no news from Pipa, or because of the
upheavals attendant upon the convents relocation to Corneto in early June
to escape the imperial troops who had sacked Rome,135 nothing more was
done about the English situation in convent until the master and council had
been appraised of Docwras death, although John Rawsons appointments as
prior and magistral lieutenant in Ireland were conrmed, probably because
he had been summoned home.136 Headquarters was probably aware of the
priors illness before this, however, for on 4 June Rawson was also granted
expectancy to the priory of England and other dignities of the langue after
William Weston.137

A later suit in chancery, the manuscript recording which is damaged, gives the date of
death as 17 Ma[rch], but the date of another event in Docwras last illness, also in March, is
crossed out in a contemporary hand, and April substituted. PRO C1/392/57.
LPFD, iv, no. 3036.
Ibid., no. 3035.
There is no evidence for the seizure in Letters and Papers, but it can be inferred from the
orders later protests. See below.
AOM85, fo. 28r; 286, fo. 3r.
LPFD, iv, no. 3141; AOM412, fo. 197v (Sandford); AOM286, fos. 5rv (Malta).
AOM85, fo. 28v; Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 58.
AOM412, fos. 193v194v, 196v.
Ibid., fos. 193v194v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 181

News of the priors demise apparently arrived in late June, possibly by the
23rd and certainly by the 26th, when Clement West protested before the
council that a future prior of England, the dignity now being vacant, should
not be given the fth camera which Docwra had held, since it pertained
instead to him. Wests protest was overruled and it was decreed that the
priory and all its appropriated preceptories should be reallocated according
to the custom of the langue.138 On 27 June Weston was duly elected prior by
the council ordinary on the same terms as Docwra, with Melchbourne again
serving as the prioral fth camera.139 On the same day John Rawson
exchanged the priory of Ireland for the turcopoliership, and John Babington
was elected to Kilmainham, despite a rival claim by West.140 In accordance
with the practice followed since Thomas Docwra had been granted the
priory of Ireland, and which had recently been the subject of a protest by
West, Babington was allowed to retain his English preceptory, Dalby and
Rothley.141 Westons former preceptories, meanwhile, were both granted to
Rawson, Ribston by meliormentum in exchange for Swingeld, and Din-
more by magistral grace.142 Despite also having petitioned for Swingeld
Clement West received nothing, a snub which may have rankled later.143
The convent does not seem to have been informed of the seizure of the
priory and of Docwras goods much before 4 July, when the well-oiled
machinery for dealing with such ts of monarchical pique swung into action.
On 23 June LIsle Adam had written to Henry VIII stating that he was
sending Rawson home to explain the present state of the orders affairs,
and announcing Westons collation to the priory of England. The royal
sequestration of the priory was seemingly not mentioned.144 Changing
news from England may have caused the modication of Rawsons mission,
however, for it was not until the rst week of July that he and Weston were
granted licence to go home and assume their dignities, although Rawson was
also granted leave to proceed to Ireland.145 At the same time Carlo Pipa was
instructed to return to England to be followed by a more formal embassy
headed by Jean Pregent de Bidoux, the prior of S. Gilles, and letters were
dispatched to the king and cardinal.

AOM85, fos. 28v29r.
Ibid., fo. 29r; 412, fos. 198r199r; Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 58.
AOM85, fo. 29v; 412, fo. 199r.
AOM85, fos. 24rv; 412, fo. 199r.
AOM412, fos. 199rv, 199v.
Swingeld was also claimed by the conventual knights Edward Bellingham and Roland
White, the council deciding on Bellingham because White, despite having been received into the
order more than three years before, had still not produced adequate proofs of nobility. AOM85,
fo. 29v.
LPFD, iv, no. 3196. The letter is re damaged, so it is difcult to be sure. Otho C.ix, fos.
AOM85, fo. 29v; 412, fo. 201v. Weston was also, on 5 July, appointed the masters
lieutenant in the priory of England, with the usual powers. AOM412, fos. 202r203r.
182 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Pipas instructions were brief and left him considerable scope for man-
oeuvre.146 Passing into England he was to nd the receiver (and now prior of
Ireland) John Babington, and Roger Boydell, and inform them of their
promotions. Associating with them and others, he was to decide on the
best way of proceeding with respect to Docwras spolia, and was to present
the letters of the master and convent to Wolsey, the French ambassadors in
England and others, so that they could use their inuence in that regard. As
soon as he had executed his instructions he was to return to headquarters.
Bidoux was given more specic orders, which explain the events of 1527
more fully than earlier sources. King Henry, he was informed, had com-
manded that none of the orders goods should be allowed out of the country
and had proposed to nd employment for those knights who were his
subjects in Calais until we should have some stable and convenient place
for our exercitio, a course of action which would prevent the orders
brethren from fullling their duty and would cause their ships to give
offence rather than to be useful to Christians. Bidoux was further informed
that although both Clement VII and the master had written to the king about
this no resolution had yet been achieved, and that following the death of
Docwra Henry had not only caused his goods to be sequestrated, but had
also expressed his wish to give the priory to a secular person, which would
be the total ruin of our religion. To remedy this situation Bidoux was to go
to France and summon Jacques de Bourbon, another prominent French
Hospitaller, to his side. The two were to ask Francis I to write to Henry
VIII and Wolsey in the orders favour, and then proceed to England where
they should discuss what should be done with the English brethren. They
were to go before Wolsey, thank him for his past assistance, and entreat him
to approach the king on their behalf, informing Henry of the perils facing the
religion, of its acceptance of Malta, of news from the Levant and of any
other matters they considered appropriate. The appeal for the cardinals
assistance was bolstered by a magistral letter promising to hold a chapter-
general at which the exchange of Sandford would be proposed shortly. Once
more it was stressed that the handover could not be effected without the
consent of chapter, and, LIsle Adam now added, the presence of the English
knights. This was perhaps a hint that if the refusal to let members of the
order leave the country were not lifted the exchange would remain still-
Having spoken to Wolsey, the ambassadors were to approach the king,
and ask him to leave the disposition of the orders business to the master and
convent, as his predecessors had done, so as not to increase the difculties
under which it laboured in this time of afiction, or provide encouragement
to others to invade and usurp the benefactions of past generations of the

AOM412, fo. 252v.
Ibid., fos. 254rv (Partial text in Valentini, I Cavalieri, 1946); LPFD, iv, no. 3242.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 183

faithful. They were to tell the king of Westons election, and were to beg that
Henry uphold his collation, making the king understand that to bestow the
priory outside the order would lead to its total ruin, and would encourage
other princes to do the same. They were further to inform the king that the
order had accepted Malta on condition that the emperor donate it freely, and
that ambassadors had been sent to the king of France and Charles to effect
The accompanying letter to the king more or less duplicated the verbal
message to be conveyed by the orders ambassadors. Henry was entreated to
lift the sequestration, to recognize Westons election, and to relinquish the
orders possessions, business and faculties to its care. He was assured that
the past bequests of the faithful, formerly employed in the east, would be
honoured with continued service in works of hospitality, and the defence of
pilgrims and all Christians sailing in indel-infested waters. By always
undertaking such works the order would avoid arrogance and thus not
incur jealousy. To achieve these ends the Hospital had accepted Malta for
its dwelling and for the exercise of its functions, as Bidoux and Bourbon
would more fully explain. Finally, the king was humbly requested to approve
the orders decision and labour along with Charles V for its establishment on
Malta in accordance with his heroic virtues and merits and his titles of
protector (of the order) and Defender of the Faith.149
These appeals, eloquent though they were, appear never to have been
delivered. According to Bosio, the ambassadors returned to the convent,
now in Nice,150 in late 1527, with the king having refused even to see them.
Henrys courtiers had reported that he was angry because he had been
slighted by the order by having not been appraised of the fall of Rhodes or
the proposal to acquire Malta, and that the grand masters failure to visit
England was strictly a secondary issue.151 In fact Henrys own letters show
that he had been fully informed on both matters, although LIsle Adams visit
to Spain and France in 15257 may have left him with the impression that
negotiations of which he was not aware were going on behind his back and
that he was being excluded from involvement in the orders choice of a new
home. The reasons for the sequestration of the priory on Docwras death are
surely closer to those suggested in the convents letter to the king, involving
jealousy of the orders wealth and irritation at its perceived arrogance and
inactivity. Certainly the royal proposal to have the English knights serve in
Calais until they should nd a home suggests a genuine belief that the

AOM412, fo. 254rv; Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 53.
AOM412, fo. 253rv; Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 53.
The convent left Corneto after an outbreak of plague in August 1527, going rst to Ville
Franche and reaching Nice in early November. AOM85, fos. 31v33r.
Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 5860. Bosios contention is upheld by the fact that the letters
entrusted to Bidoux and Bourbon and addressed to Henry do not survive in the Public Record
Ofce or British Library.
184 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Hospitallers were not fullling their responsibilities, although this, as well as

Henrys irritation at not having been properly consulted, was probably
whipped up by courtiers eager to get their hands on the orders property. It
is interesting that Magnuss letter requesting that the duke of Richmond
should be a beneciary of any conscation also suggested that some of the
proceeds should be devoted to the upkeep of Berwick. Both the Calais
project and Magnuss idea suggest a perception that if the Hospitallers
were no longer useful to Christendom as a whole their resources and
military traditions would be better employed in the defence of the English
The king was certainly aware of the orders military capabilities, and
particularly its naval prowess,153 and seems to have envisaged a naval role
for the order at Calais, as suggested by the convents worries that the scheme
might cause its ships to offend against other Christians.154 Although there
were recent parallels in the secularization of the Teutonic order in Prussia
and the attempts to devote the Spanish military orders to the defence of the
Portuguese and Castilian crowns north African bases, Henrys ideas also
had similarities with Edward IIIs wartime insistence that responsions should
be devoted to the defence of the realm and underlined the fact that unless the
Hospitallers were seen to be useful, they might become extinct.155 Having
stressed its defence of Christendom and deance of the Turk in its propa-
ganda for so many years, it is not surprising that when it seemed to be failing
to full this role, the order came under attack.
The masters response to the failure of his emissaries was appropriately
decisive. On 5 December 1527 he proposed in council that as business was
occurring in England and France which could not be dealt with without his
presence he would proceed there, notwithstanding his age or the perils and
colds of winter. The bailiff of Casp, Juan de Homedes, and a number of other
brethren were elected to accompany him.156 LIsle Adams mission to Eng-
land is one of the most interesting episodes in the orders sixteenth-century
history, and was celebrated appropriately by Giacomo Bosio, but his visit
virtually escaped notice in contemporary English sources, evidence being
chiey provided by the orders archives and Bosio, who was evidently
furnished with information which does not appear among the orders regis-
ters, perhaps from family tradition passed down by his relatives Antonio and
Tommaso. The former was often used as an envoy by the order in the 1520s

Hoyle, Origins, 2823.
He had perhaps been alerted to this by the exploits of the Hospitaller Jean Pregent de
Bidoux in the Channel in the early years of his reign. E. Hall, Chronicle (London, 1809), 5356,
560, 5689.
AOM412, fo. 254r.
Luttrell, Military Orders, 332, 34850; Tyerman, England, 32442; N. Housley, The
Later Crusades 12741580 (Oxford, 1992), 4504.
AOM85, fo. 33v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 185

and 1530s, and was sent on ahead of the master in 1528, while the latter was
also among the masters entourage in England in the same year.157
It was not until 2 January 1528 that LIsle Adam left Nice.158 Travelling
across France in a rather leisurely fashion, he had reached Avignon by 13
January, Lyons by 27 January, and Paris by 24 February. He remained in the
French capital until at least 13 March but had arrived in Clerkenwell by 26
April.159 His way was prepared by Antonio Bosio, who according to his
nephew Giacomo not only managed to smooth the kings rufed feathers,
but also to secure the promise of 20,000 crowns to aid the reconquest of
Rhodes, and letters from the king and cardinal conrming this.160 Bosio
records that LIsle Adam was received into London with much pomp by
Henry, Wolsey, and the nobility and lodged at the royal palace. The king
apparently took a personal interest in the masters account of the siege of
Rhodes, and professed himself enthusiastic at the prospect of the islands
recovery, which was still being plotted. He conrmed the orders privileges,
reiterated his commitment to make a donation to the cause, eventually
contributing artillery rather than cash, and both released Docwras spolia
and remitted an annual levy of 4,000 which he had supposedly imposed on
William Weston.161
Bosios account of the last of these events seems to be based on a misread-
ing of LIsle Adams travel-bullarium. As this document demonstrates, the
royal threat to seize the priory had been lifted by Weston before the master
reached England.162 An instrument drawn up at Clerkenwell on 19 May
1528 explains that the prior, having been prevented from assuming his
dignity for a long time, and acting on the advice of bailiffs and preceptors
of the order, had given Henry 4,000 out of the responsions and other
monies belonging to the common treasury, and by means of this payment,
and a promise to pay other sums annually, had obtained possession. There
is no indication that these annual payments amounted to 4,000 or anything
like it. Although LIsle Adam may have managed to get the king to drop his
demands for an annual payment from the order, he had to secure repayment
of the large lump sum from Weston himself. On arriving in England the
master complained that the latter should not have mortgaged the orders
property so lightly, and demanded restitution. Weston had no cash in hand
and was unable to refund the money at once, so that LIsle Adam was forced
to accept a compromise offer of 200 per annum from him.163

Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 623; Galea, Henry VIII, 66; AOM413, fo. 21r.
Galea, Henry VIII, 66.
AOM413, fos. 1r, 3r, 4v, 13rv, 16r, 17v.
Bosio, DellIstoria, iii. 623.
Ibid. 64; Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 54; King, British Realm, 101.
A fact noted by Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 55.
AOM413, fos. 20v21v; Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 556. Sannazaro also tran-
scribes this document at 768.
186 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Thus a dispute apparently provoked by profound questions about the

royal honour and the Hospitals utility to the Christian commonweal was
settled by simple bribery.164 The king had asserted his authority over the
order, exacted a heavy entry ne from the new prior, and now ostentatiously
regranted almost exactly the same sum to the Hospitallers as a gift towards
either their holy expedition to recover Rhodes, or their establishment on
Malta. The original extortion from Weston being concealed, Henry could
parade as the champion of Christendom and exhort other princes to con-
tribute to the cause.165 Admittedly this also suited the propaganda purposes
of the order. It was always useful to turn the attentions of secular rulers to
the benefactions of their princely colleagues on its behalf, even if these were
imaginary. The only real loser from the affair was Weston, who had been
denied his advancement for a number of months and was now saddled with
annual pension payments to the convent and possibly the crown.
The master also attended to other important business during his visit to
England. Fifteen knights were received into the order by the provincial
chapter over which LIsle Adam presided,166 the grant of Sandford to
Wolsey was re-authorized,167 and in early June Rawson and Babington re-
exchanged the dignities of prior of Ireland and turcopolier.168 This last
measure will receive further comment elsewhere, but it is noteworthy that
the exchange was initiated by LIsle Adam rather than the parties involved,
as it suited the order both that Rawson return to Ireland and that Babington,
the receiver of the common treasury in England, remain at Clerkenwell to
recover the goods of Docwras vacancy year and spolia, from which multa
bona . . . furto subtracta sunt. Rawson and Babington consented to the
permutation as good religious, wishing to satisfy his (LIsle Adams) will,
but it is also worth noting that the return of Rawson to Ireland was to the
benet of the crown, obedience and service to whom the master and langue
cited respectively as reasons for the exchange.169 It seems clear that the king
and cardinal wanted Rawson back in Ireland where he could be useful, and
that the exchange had been arranged with this in mind.170
Within days of witnessing this act the master had returned to France,
escorted by the naval administrator and Levant merchant William
Gonson.171 LIsle Adam reached Boulogne on 6 June and wrote to Wolsey
Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 56.
LPFD, iv, nos. 4722, Appendix 214; AOM414, fo. 248r; AOM57, cc. 1112 (originally
78). The king also threw the expenses he had supposedly incurred on behalf of the faith into the
equation when in 1529 he asked parliament (successfully) to remit his debts. Many of these went
back to 15223, when Thomas Docwra had lent him money. S. E. Lehmberg, The Reformation
Parliament 15291536 (Cambridge, 1970), 8990; above, 168.
BDVTE, 445.
LPFD, iv, no. 4322 (original); AOM413, fos. 22rv (Hospitaller chancery copy).
AOM413, fos. 23r24r.
AOM413, fos. 24v25r; Bosio, Dell Istoria, iii. 64; BDVTE, 614.
See below, 251.
LPFD, iv, no. 4344.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 187

thanking him for his and the kings letters on his behalf and recommending
the order to their protection.172 After a stay of some weeks in Paris he
returned to Nice,173 having again written thanking Wolsey for his interven-
tion with Henry and Francis I, and informing him that he had presented the
letters of king and cardinal to representatives of Francis, who had been unable
to see him personally.174 The magistral visit to England had apparently been a
great success, having prompted the king to offer generous aid towards the
recovery of Rhodes, which was now noised round Europe, or at least to those
(non-Venetian) parts of it which viewed such a project with equanimity.
Partly in response to Henrys letters announcing his gift, Charles V promised
to add 25,000 ducats towards the ghting fund, while the king of Portugal
was prompted to donate a further 15,000 ducats.175 Yet for all its propaganda
value, Henrys gift was slow to reach the convent and impediments continued
to be put in the way of the submission of responsions to Nice.176 On 18
November 1528 Clement VII wrote to Wolsey professing himself pleased at
the honour shown to the master and the liberal aid proffered the holy
expedition, but reminding the cardinal that he had promised to send a
member of the order with the promised aid after the king had received replies
to his letters from the emperor and the king of Portugal, which he understood
had now been answered.177 In the following January Antonio Bosio was
dispatched to England with letters from LIsle Adam, the emperor, the king
of Portugal, and the pope on the orders behalf and instructed to present them
to the king, Wolsey, and Cardinal Campeggio. The aid of Henry and the
legates was to be requested in the orders great enterprise, which it had
insufcient strength to perform itself.178 The accompanying letter to the king
states that Bosio, recently returned from Spain and Portugal, would inform
Henry of the state of the orders affairs in those countries and in the lands of
the east, in accordance with his professed willingness to assist.179 Henrys
donation had still not reached the convent in early March, although the
orders envoy to Savoy, Louis de Tinteville, was instructed to report that
Bosio had been sent to collect it and that his arrival was expected daily.180
Ibid., no. 4339.
He left Paris on about 15 July, having had the English ambassadors there to a dinner at
which he had spoken asmoche honour of the Kinges Highnes, as may be spoken of any Prynce.
Ibid., no. 4515. Text in SP, vii. 889.
LPFD, iv, no. 4504.
Ibid., no. 4722; AOM414, fo. 248r. John IIIs benefaction was hardly more disinterested
than Henrys, being advanced in return for the installation of his brother Luiz as prior of
Portugal. Sire, Knights of Malta, 151.
For this see below, 1979.
LPFD, iv, Appendix, no. 214.
AOM414, fo. 249rv. It seems certain, especially considering the reference in the accom-
panying letter to Henry to the lands of the east, that the orders great enterprise was still
conceived to be the recovery of Rhodes. Bosio was sent back there later in 1529. Vatin, LOrdre,
LPFD, iv, no. 5196.
AOM414, fos. 255v256r.
188 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

As the months went by the orders enterprise, dened in the instructions

issued to Tinteville as Reconnoir lieu pour loger et asseoir la Religion,
became, if only by default, more solidly identied with the imperial donation
of Malta. It may not have been until after November 1530, when Henry
wrote to LIsle Adam congratulating him on the orders nal agreement
with the emperor on the matter,181 that his aid nally reached the
convent, having by then been converted from cash into cannon and other
Welcome as the kings gift may have been when it arrived, its utility was
surely outweighed by the disruption caused to the orders affairs in England
in 15278. This was not conned to the threatened implementation of the
Calais scheme and the quite real sequestration of the priory and Docwras
goods. Although the latter were restored, at a price, when he gained posses-
sion of the priory Weston was confronted with a chaotic state of affairs
which if not directly attributable to the royal pressure on the order must
have been worsened both by the uncertainty over the priorys future occa-
sioned by Henrys threats and by the exclusion of the prior from his dignity
for so long.
Shortly after his accession to the priorate, Weston began legal actions
against several relatives and former servants of Thomas Docwra who had,
he claimed, made off with cash, jewellery, goods, and muniments belonging
to the priory during and immediately after his predecessors last illness.
Proceedings were instituted against William Stockhill, the former priors
factor in the Mediterranean, Thomas Chicheley, a relative of Docwras by
marriage, and John Docwra, the defunct priors nephew, for withholding his
goods, while action was taken against another Docwra, Martin, for detain-
ing possession of the prioral camera of Balsall. The cases concerning the late
priors goods bear out the necessity of keeping John Babington, who had
witnessed some of the events reported in Westons complaints, in England.
All three involved considerable sums, testifying once more to Thomas Doc-
wras wealth and providing further evidence that Henry VIIIs proceedings
and threats against the order in 15278 were motivated more by prot than
principle. The Stockhill case, for which evidence survives in a counter
complaint by the defendant against the prior in chancery, was perhaps the
least serious of the four, although signicant sums were nevertheless in-
volved. In his plea against Weston, Stockhill explained that he had been
retained by Docwra and his Rhodiot servant Francis Bell as their factor
in charge of merchandise dispatched to the Levant for nine years before

AOM57, c. 13 (originally 9); Text in Valentini, I Cavalieri, 21920. Henry also ex-
pressed his joy at the move and determination to protect the order in letters to Clement VII and
Francis I. LPFD, iv, nos. 6731, 6732.
The cannon were placed on the walls of Tripoli and captured by the Turks when they took
the town in 1551. They were subsequently re-employed in the Turkish siege of Famagusta in
1570. Exhibition notes, SJG.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 189

Docwras death.183 During the grand masters visit to England, he added,

Antonio Bosio and the Genoese merchant Antonio Vivaldi had been
appointed auditors to determine his account, by which it had appeared
that he had 172 worth of Docwras and Bells goods in his possession, but
was owed 180 salary for the nine years that he had been their factor. This
considered, it had been agreed that he would keep 100 of the goods and
would hand over the residue when paid 80 in cash by John Babington.
Despite this agreement, Babington had commenced a plea of debt before the
sheriffs of London in Westons name against Stockhill for the sum of 72 and
for a further 2,000 in cash and goods that Docwra had allegedly delivered
to Stockhill during his life, but which he had never received. Consequently
he had been arrested and committed to prison. Stockhill complained that not
only did he know nothing of the larger amounts alleged by Babington, but he
was also unable to produce the earlier account as it was in the hands of the
magistrally appointed auditors. He asked that a writ of Corpus cum causa be
directed to the sheriffs and the case be removed into chancery.184
Although there seems to be no further evidence on the proceedings of this
case, it is likely that it was settled relatively amicably, with Babington
agreeing to drop the more substantial charge in return for Stockhills admit-
ting liability in the smaller matter. On 20 July 1534 Stockhill paid 20
towards the 72 he owed the common treasury, with no mention of the
larger sums at all.185 The 2,000 alleged against Stockhill may conceivably
be identical with the 8,000 or 9,000 ducats the order believed it was owed by
Antonio Vivaldi, Bells executor, in respect of his will, 7,000 of which Vivaldi
promised to pay in late 1528.186 It is possible that Vivaldi was waiting for
the prots from those of Bells and the priors goods which had been in the
hands of Stockhill before he could satisfy the convent. Vivaldi himself,
however, seems not to have been proceeded against in the courts, and settled
matters with the order amicably, continuing to conduct exchange operations
on its behalf well into the 1530s.187
Evidence for the case against Chicheley survives in a counter-plea against
Weston in chancery.188 Chicheley, a Cambridgeshire esquire, explained that

Corroborating evidence for this is provided by Bells will, which was drawn up before he
left for Italy with Weston in August 1524, and proved in April 1526. Bell left the prior all his
kersey and tin in Stockhills hands, which had been given to the latter on his (Stockhills)
departure from England, and ordained that he should give a true account of the same to
Docwra. PRO PROB11/22, fos. 44b45.
PRO C1/569/25.
AOM54, fo. 260v; PRO SP2/Q no. 32, p. 134b.
AOM414, fos. 206v207r. This money was to be dispatched to Naples with Vivaldis
associate Miguel Hieronymo Sanchez. It had not arrived by October 1529, prompting the order
to instruct its ambassador to the pope and emperor to nd out where it had got to, although by
March 1532, when John Babington was instructed to arrange for the payment of the remainder
of the monies, only 2,000 ducats were still outstanding. Ibid., fo. 260v; 415, fo. 230r.
AOM54, fos. 261v262r.
PRO C1/392/57.
190 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

he had been a servant of Docwra for ten years before his death and had
married his niece. His service to the prior had caused him great pains, costs,
and charges and left the latter in his debt. Trusting to be recompensed he had
appeared before Docwra on 11 April 1527 and the prior had then ordered
John Babington to go into the priorys treasury house and fetch out its plate,
of which Chicheley had been given 2,000 ounces on the spot, besides further
amounts189 given to him, to his nephew John Docwra, and to Anthony
Haseldon, another relative of the prior by marriage.190 Finally, claimed
Chicheley, the prior had commanded the recipients of his largesse to take
it home with them to their own use whether he lived or died. This Chicheley
had done.
On gaining possession of the priory Weston sued a bill of trespass before
the king alleging that Chicheley and others had wrongfully carried off plate
to the value of 3,000. Chicheley denied having had more than 100 marks to
his own use, and prayed that the members of the prioral household present
at the time of the priors alleged gift should be summoned to testify so that he
could prove his version of events.191 Although further proceedings of the
Chicheley case do not survive among chancery records,192 the priors com-
plaint against John Docwra corroborates many of its details. The proceed-
ings against Docwra, the former priors nye kynsman, survive almost in
full, and provide considerable detail on Westons accusations against his
predecessors associates. Two bills of complaint by the prior, two answers by
Docwra, and Westons replication to these survive, although the nal judge-
ment on the case is wanting.193 The new prior presented that as Thomas
Docwra had lain sore sick in his dethe bedde John Docwra had borne away
bonds wherein several parties stood bound to the late prior, other writings
and indentures concerning the priorys right title and interest with a face
value of 3,000 marks, and great sums of money, plate, jewels, and goods
worth another 3,000. Docwras failure to deliver these upon demand, and
the priors consequent ignorance of the contents of the documents and of the
form, weight, fashion, and value of the bullion and plate left him unable to
prove his right according to the common law, hence the appeal into chan-

These were specied in a schedule attached to Chicheleys plea, which does not survive.
Thomas Docwras brother James, the father of the John mentioned in these proceedings,
had married Catharine Haseldon of Cambridgeshire. Visitation of Cambridgeshire, ed. Clay,
These were, according to Chicheley, John Mablestone (the subprior), Christopher New-
ton, gentleman, Thomas Cork, Ralph Wasse yeoman, Henry Porter, gentleman, and one Swift,
gentleman, presumably the same man for whom Docwra had been seeking the Mounteagle
lands in 1523, and probably to be identied with John Swifte, gentleman, who was granted the
farm of the orders Warwickshire manor of Temple Grafton in 1533. PRO C1/392/57; see
above, 1767; PRO SC6/Henry VIII/2402, m. 22d.
The case may have been settled informally. On 1 June 1532 Clement West reported that
Weston and he had concluded business with Schechle. Chicheley paid 20 to the common
treasury in 1536. LPFD, v, no. 1069; AOM54, fo. 299r.
PRO C1/598/711.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 191

cery. Both this bill and a second, almost identical, requested that Docwra
should be subpoenaed to appear before the chancellor (Wolsey) bringing the
writings and muniments in question, as well as written declaration of the
value and other details of the other goods.194
The cardinal took these charges seriously. On 29 May 1528195 Docwra
was bound in 4,000 to do as Weston had requested, and duly delivered a
schedule listing the letters of obligations and specialties in question, all of
which save two he claimed had been made out jointly to the prior and
himself, and had been assigned to him by his uncle for the term of his life.
Of the remaining bonds, one had been made out solely to the prior but had
likewise been granted to his nephew before his death and the other, an
obligation by the master of the Rolls in 40, had not been made over to
John at all. The defendant admitted that he kept all other specialities not
delivered into chancery according to the recent gift.196 He did, however,
deny that the value of the goods and monies taken amounted to 6,000 marks
and asserted that as the values of the money and goods he was supposed to
have taken had not been individually specied, the allegations lacked legal
sufciency and proceedings should be dropped.197
By this time, however, Weston had evidently procured more specic
information about the goods and muniments carried off by Docwra, for in
his replication he listed many of them. He claimed that yet more had been
removed in the eight days immediately before the late priors death, and that
Docwra had since conveyed even more muniments, plate, and jewels secretly
out of the said monastery, specic details of which he lacked. Although
incomplete, the list provided by Weston is nevertheless impressive. He
alleged that Docwra had received 4,000 in gold besides goods, plate, and
jewellery worth over 285 and bonds worth 1,245. Indeed, Docwra had
admitted in his schedule to having received 3,100 in gold and cash and
most of the writings obligatory, but had failed to admit to two bonds worth
250. Weston denied that his predecessor had owed or given his nephew any
of the items mentioned or that he had had any intention to make any such
gift. He further denied his predecessors right to make such a donation and
alleged that the defendant had forfeited his recognizance of 4,000 by his
failure to deliver up everything he had had from the priory or to appear daily
in chancery as was required.198

PRO C1/598/78.
The date given is 29 May 19 Henry VIII, which should indicate 1527 given that the regnal
year began on 22 April, but Weston could hardly have launched an action against his predeces-
sors nephew when he was in Italy and had not even yet been appointed prior. 1528 therefore
seems much more plausible.
PRO C1/598/9
PRO C1/598/10.
PRO C1/598/11.
192 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Although the judgement on the case is missing, it seems to have been

settled at least partly in Westons favour, for in 1532 one of John Docwras
executors submitted 260 to the receiver towards the 800 marks which they
owed.199 Further payments were made by various creditors, including Doc-
wras executors, in subsequent years.200 The evident, if gradual, success of
the priors legal proceedings against those who had embezzled his predeces-
sors spolia must owe something to the good ofces of Wolsey. The cardinal
took a personal interest in the speedy expedition of justice, often hearing
several cases a day and doing his best to ensure that his judgements were
carried out. It was partly for this reason that so many property disputes were
removed into chancery during his tenure there. Moreover, it is surely signi-
cant that proceedings against John Docwra were initiated in chancery while
LIsle Adam was still in England. After his return to the convent he continued
to take an interest in the case, and when Antonio Bosio was dispatched to
England in January 1529 he was instructed to approach the cardinal and
request that he see to it that the dispute we have with the nephew of the
former prior should be expedited quickly.201 More generally, Bosio was to
get what help he could from Wolsey so that the order could get hold of all the
monies due to it from England. He was also to approach the bishop of
London, Cuthbert Tunstall, and inform him of the appointment of his
nephew Ambrose Layton as receiver of the common treasury, presenting
him with the letters of master and convent and asking his favour.202
Despite the usefulness of the cardinals ofces in bringing the cases involv-
ing Docwras spolia to some kind of conclusion, it may have been the
threatened sequestration of the orders assets in 1527 which prompted
Thomas Docwra to alienate gold, plate, jewellery, and letters of obligation,
which were of considerable importance to the priorys running, to his
relatives. The same cause may also account for the complicity of John
Babington and long-standing prioral servants such as John Mablestone in
the handover, although it is also possible that their dying master made it
worth their while to turn a blind eye. Docwra may have reasoned that if the
crown was going to seize the orders lands and goods he might as well set up
his family and servants with as many of them as he could get away with. The
three chief recipients of his largesse, John Docwra, Thomas Chicheley, and
Anthony Haseldon, were all related to him by blood or marriage, and the
prior had been conspicuously generous to his family throughout his incum-
bency.203 Nevertheless the sums involved were enormous and it is difcult to
AOM54, fo. 221r.
Ibid., fos. 260v261r, 279v280r, 299r.
AOM414, fo. 249v.
Ibid., fo. 249v. Layton had been appointed receiver on 7 January 1529, but died by 12
February, when he was replaced by Clement West. AOM414, fos. 208v, 211r.
He had paid 300 marks for his niece Elizabeths dowry on her marriage to Thomas
Chicheley, and arranged numerous grants for other members of both branches of the family.
CPR14941509, no. 755; Lansdowne 200, fo. 1r; Claudius E.vi, fos. 29rv, 46rv, 60r, 65v66r,
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 193

believe that the prior, who had always been so conscientious about sending
as much as possible to the convent, would have wilfully alienated so much to
those surrounding him had he not been convinced that the order would not
benet if he bequeathed his goods to it. Even if Docwra had no such desire to
save his possessions from the grasping hands of the crown and was simply
motivated by family loyalty, the delay in Westons being granted the priory
and the royal sequestration of its assets cannot have aided him in his pursuit
of his predecessors goods. The insistence that Babington give up the priory
of Ireland in June 1528, made specically so that he could aid the prior in
prosecuting the matter, demonstrates that the convent was concerned that
without Babingtons help the trail, already cold, would fade beyond hope of
An alternative explanation for the priors actions, and one that was
advanced by William Weston, is that he was bullied into them by Docwra
and Chicheley while he was dying. Yet Chicheleys assertion that that there
were several witnesses to the gift, and especially Babingtons readiness to
fetch his masters plate from the treasury, suggests that the priors faculties
were unimpaired, and that he was not under any undue pressure, unless it
was from all of those present at the time, which seems unlikely in view of the
continued favour shown to Mablestone, Porter, and Swift by William Wes-
ton after 1527. Despite the crowns partial responsibility for the mess, the
help of the courts was instrumental in securing what help was possible
against Docwras relatives. A further suit was launched in chancery soon
after Westons accession against Martin Docwra, who had been granted a
twenty-six-year lease of Balsall in May 1526.204 Unfortunately for the
recipient, the grant bound him, on being served with a years notice, to
remove himself and return the estate to the prior or commander of Balsall
should he be so required. On gaining possession of the priory, Weston had
duly given Docwra the requisite notice and the latter had promised to vacate
possession. This he failed to do, retaining possession of the commandery
buildings and refusing to surrender any estate documents, so that the prior
was unable to hold courts or discover the value of his rents, a state of affairs
by which he justied his appeal to chancery rather than the common law.205

66v67r, 72v73r, 73v74r, 87r, 129v, 129v130r, 131rv, 159rv, 202rv, 265v266r, 266v267r,
270v271r, 288v.
Martin Docwra had already been steward of Balsall for some years. I have been unable to
establish the exact nature of his relationship to the prior. His will does not mention any members
of the family save his three daughters and a cousin, Thomas, who resided in London. Claudius
E.vi, fos. 265v266v; PRO PROB11/25, fos. 143rv.
PRO C1/588/36. A later stage in the proceedings is represented by Martin Docwras
answer not to Westons original bill of complaint, but to his replication, which evidently accused
the lessee of detaining the manor of Tolle and removing the altar cloths from its chapel. Docwra
denied that Tolle had anything to do with Balsall, or that it had been let to him by the last prior.
PRO C1/598/12.
194 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Although Wolseys decree on the matter does not survive it can be recon-
structed from later proceedings. Sometime in the late summer or early
autumn of 1529 the cardinal ordained that possession of the disputed
commandery should be committed to the keeping of Sir George Throckmor-
ton206 until it should be determined which party had the better right to it.207
But Wolseys inuence was waning and when Throckmorton and his retinue
arrived to take charge of Balsall on 7 October 1529 chaotic scenes ensued as
Docwras wife and servants, allegedly supported by rufans from a nearby
sanctuary, refused entry to them. In the weeks following this incident Doc-
wra went on the offensive against the chancellor and Throckmorton. Among
the articles advanced against Wolsey in Parliament on 1 December 1529 was
one alleging that he had issued an injunction forbidding possession of Balsall
to the lessee without the latter ever having been called to make answer in
chancery.208 Some weeks before Docwra had appeared in Star Chamber
complaining that the descent of Throckmorton and his retinue on Balsall
had amounted to a riot and claiming that they had entered the manor
forcibly, hauling his servants out of the house there and threatening to kill
his wife. Both parties were ordered to appear on penalty of 100.209
The case was slow to come before the court, for the rest of the surviving
documentation, comprising the answer of Throckmortons co-defendants
to Docwras bill, further questions put to them, their replies thereto, and
the complainants replication, dates from after the cardinals death in
November 1530. In their answer to Docwras complaint Throckmortons
co-defendants210 explained that the late cardinal had commanded both
parties to avoid possession because he had been warned that the dispute
between Weston and Docwra would lead to grete bessenez and unquytnez
among the kings subjects in Warwickshire. Accordingly Throckmorton had
been directed to enter the commandery and keep indifferent possession
thereof, levying its rents and issues until the matter should be decided by
the king in chancery. The prior had obeyed the order, but Docwra had not
only demurred but had fortied the manor-house and gathered sixteen or
more criminals from the sanctuary at Knowle to keep it. Save for breaking
down the door of the chamber in which Docwras wife and various thieves
and misdoers were holding out by force, they denied the charge of forcible
entry, and asserted moreover that two of the criminals found in the room
had been dispatched to Warwick gaol. They admitted that Docwras wife

George Throckmorton was the head of the family with whom Thomas Docwra had been
in dispute over Balsall in the early 1500s, but whose relations with the Hospital had evidently
improved thereafter. In the 1530s he was close to Weston and his nephew Thomas Dingley, with
whom he was accused of treason in 15378. LPFD, xii, II, no. 952.
PRO STAC2/17/401/1.
LPFD, iv, no. 6075 (42).
PRO STAC2/17/401/1.
Only six of these came before the court, although Docwra had alleged that Throckmor-
tons retinue had comprised at least twenty persons at the time of the incident at Balsall.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 195

and servants had been removed from the premises and that they had taken
possession in accordance with the writ.211 Questioned on the threat to kill
Docwras wife all but one of the defendants denied that any such utterance
had been made while the last remembered hearing something similar from a
servant of Throckmorton whose name he could not recall.212 Questions
were also asked about Wolseys writ of injunction, although not necessarily
in accordance with Docwras agenda, as Throckmortons associates were
asked whether it had been purchased at Docwras suit or if he had been privy
to it, despite his earlier protest that he had been wholly unaware of the order.
Docwra also refuted the other allegations of Throckmorton and his ser-
vants concerning the circumstances of their entry into the manor. He denied
fortifying the manor house or placing felons therein, and refuted allegations
that these had held out by force of arms. He attacked the basis of the priors
claims to the property, claiming that Balsall was not currently a comman-
dery and that Weston had not been made its commander, as Throckmorton
had alleged. Additionally he denied that he had been warned to vacate the
property by the prior or that, on receiving notice, he had promised to do so.
Despite his claim that Weston had no right to Balsall, however, it is evident
that there had been some negotiation between the two parties, for Docwra
did admit that he had written to the prior offering to allow him to occupy the
manor, farm, and park of Balsall whenever he should wish to stay there. He
had not, he said, promised to give up any other part of Balsalls estates.
Unfortunately, no further information survives on the case in Star Cham-
ber, although it seems unlikely that Docwras imsy charges, which were
possibly advanced to bolster the attack on Wolsey in parliament, were
upheld. The suit in chancery over the actual possession of the commandery,
however, dragged on for years. Sir Thomas More, who followed Wolsey as
chancellor, adjudged Balsall to Weston at some point between 1530 and
1532,213 but in 1535 Martin Docwras widow Isabella, now married to
Giles Forster, reappeared to contest the case. On 28 June 1535 judgement
was given in the couples favour and the continued validity of the lease made
in 1526 was conrmed.214 Weston eventually reconciled himself to having
Balsall as a source of revenue rather than a residence, for in 1539, after
Isabellas death a provincial chapter renewed the lease to Forster at a rent of
156 13s. 4d. The commanderys subsidiary manors of Grafton, Ryton,
and Fletchhampstead, however, were successfully returned to the priors

PRO STAC2/17/401/2.
PRO STAC2/17/401/45.
More was appointed chancellor on 26 October 1529, and resigned in May 1532.
LPFD, viii, no. 936.
The lease was dated 24 April 1539, as were those of Ryton and Fletchhampstead. Grafton
was let on 27 June 1533, the lease to run from June 1537. PRO SC6/Henry VIII/2402, mm.
196 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

The Balsall case provides an example of the conict that could arise
between the wish of priors to provide for their families and the interests of
their successors. Although it had the authority of the provincial chapter
behind it, Thomas Docwras desire to grant such an important property to
a relative on long lease when his own days were numbered was rather
irresponsible considering the trouble he had himself had in removing the
Throckmortons at the beginning of his priorate, and his own request that he
might reserve Balsall to the hands of his fellow-religious. His neglect of this
principle involved his successor in years of expensive litigation which ultim-
ately failed to return the commandery to prioral control, and if Westons
petitions against Martin Docwras dilapidation of the property are to be
believed, did considerable material damage as well.216 The conicting judge-
ments of successive chancellors, and especially Wolseys high-handed deci-
sion to suspend the right of both parties to the property and interpose a
third party with an old family interest in it, did not help matters, especially
when the case became entangled in the charges laid against the cardinal in
Although Wolsey gave judgement, in this matter as in others, largely in the
orders interest, his inuence was already declining when LIsle Adam visited
in 1528, and by the autumn of 1529 it had collapsed.217 His protection of
the Hospitallers apparently did not extend to ensuring the dispatch of their
responsions to the convent in June 1529, although those due in 1528 were
probably remitted. Awareness of such help as he did offer, moreover, must be
qualied by the haughty and condescending manner in which he had treated
the Hospital in his pursuit of its property at Hampton Court and Sandford.
His pique at the failure to expedite the grant of Sandford may have led him
to stir Henry up against the order in 1527, and he may also have used his
position as papal legate to bully it into submission for in c.1528 he con-
rmed its papally bestowed privileges and the patronage of its hospitals on
the basis that the latter might have pertained to him by virtue of his legatine
authority.218 Such heavy-handedness evidently caused bitterness, for
William Weston was among the signatories of the articles against the car-
dinal in the rst session of the Reformation Parliament, and after the
cardinals attainder, which detained in the hands of the crown those of the
orders goods which had been granted to him, the prior protested to Crom-
well that the lease of Sandford had passed without free assent . . . to the
perpetual loss of my religion.219 But without his protection the order was
for the moment without a powerful intermediary, and the arrest of its
responsions and pursuit of its property by the court continued unchecked.

See above, 1567; PRO C1/925/35; C1/598/12.
J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Harmondsworth, 1968), 3078.
LPFD, iv, no. 5093.
LPFD, v, no. 335. Dated 12 July 1531.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 197

The kings decision to appropriate Wolseys palace at Hampton Court left

the order in a difcult position. Henry would not be content with a lease of
the property, no matter how long the term or generous the conditions. The
order was thus prevailed upon to substitute Hampton Court, the advowson
of the prebend of Blewbury, its plum ecclesiastical appointment, and a
messuage in Chancery Lane for Sandford in an exchange in which it received
the lands of the former monastery of Stansgate in Essex, a foundation which
had been suppressed by the cardinal.220 Sandford, the orders great mes-
suage in Chancery Lane, and the nearby Ficketseld were returned to the
order in late 1531 or 1532, the crown having enjoyed usufruct since Wolseys
attainder.221 Both the release of Sandford and the dispatch of the orders
responsions to Malta may have been conditional on the grant of Hampton
While the prior was attempting to recover the orders property in England,
LIsle Adam was struggling to maintain its integrity, discipline, and self-
condence in the central Mediterranean. The maintenance of the itinerant
convent in temporary accommodation in central Italy, the upkeep of a eet
when the order no longer had its own port facilities, and the complicated
diplomacy associated with its search for a home and a role were expensive as
well as debilitating, and the 1527 chapter-general had imposed a three-year
half-annate on the orders property which was extended year by year there-
after.222 The English contribution to this levy is impossible to quantify, as no
receivers accounts survive for the nancial years ending June 1527 to June
1530 but it does not seem to have been particularly impressive, and the very
lack of accounts may indicate, as it surely does in 1527, that no responsions
were being dispatched at all. Although LIsle Adam may have collected those
due in 1528 when he was in England, as no mention was made of arrears for
that year when the order later brought the matter up, a letter sent to Weston
and his brethren in early March 1532 complained that for three years the
responsions and dues of our common treasury have not been sent to us and
that Clement West, the turcopolier, who ought to have converted them into
goods and brought them to Malta, had so far failed to appear. Accordingly
John Babington, now bailiff of Eagle, was sent to England to procure all
money, goods, and writings pertaining to the common treasury which might
still be in Wests hands and ensure their delivery to the newly appointed

The exchange was formally agreed on 30 May 1531, and the orders provincial chapter
granted Hampton Court and the other properties to Sir Richard Paulet et al., to be held to the
kings use, on 5 June. It was not until 19 December that letters patent were drawn up granting
Stansgate to the prior and brethren of the Hospital in mortmain, however. The swap was ratied
by parliament in the session beginning 15 January 1532. PRO LR2/62, fo. 69r et seq.; LPFD,
v, nos. 264, 285, 627 (18), 720 (6), 722 (11). Statutes, iii. 4036.
The editors of the Letters and Papers date the disposal of the lands of Cardinals College,
of which these formed a part, to 1532. LPFD, v, no. 47 (1), and see n.220, above.
AOM286, fos. 9r, 23r; 54, fo. 173r; 85, fo. 94v; 286, fos. 37v et seq.
198 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

receiver, John Rawson junior, so that the latter could arrange for the dis-
patch of the outstanding responsions.223
Although allowance was made for the fact that West may have been
detained by sickness or some peril . . . or by other impediments the missive
was, as Sannazaro pointed out, saturated with distrust. Weston and his
brethren were instructed to implement the orders statutes against disobedi-
ence and invoke the aid of the secular arm against the turcopolier should he
prove difcult, and he was in any case summoned to appear in Malta within
six months of the letter reaching England. Babington, who had been licensed
to leave Malta on 16 February,224 was ordered on 5 March to proceed to
England by way of Messina and Palermo, arranging some way by which the
orders monies might be exchanged with whatever advantage possible. If it
should not be possible to send the money by exchange, Babington, Rawson,
and Weston were to collaborate in purchasing such merchandise as they
thought appropriate, and dispatch it at the rst opportunity to Sicily, making
sure that it was not taxed on the way. Babington was also to secure the
remainder of the sums owed by Antonio Vivaldi, and to investigate the
government of the magistral camera in England.225
There are two questions that need to be answered here. First, we need to
know who was responsible for impeding the dispatch of the English respon-
sions, and secondly why it took the order so long to complain about the
situation. The evidence that can be gleaned from the orders archives on
these matters is extremely limited, the instructions given to Babington in
February 1532 providing the rst direct evidence that monies were not
reaching Malta. Since his appointment in 1529, Clement Wests administra-
tion of the receivership had provoked only routine interference from head-
quarters. Ambrose Cave was appointed proctor of the common treasury in
England to supplement West in February 1530 but this was quite usual, and
so too was the summons issued to the receiver in the following November to
attend the next chapter-general.226 Even Wests removal from the receiver-
ship in early March 1531 does not necessarily suggest that anything was
amiss. Although it was unusual for a receiver to be removed so soon after
his appointment, West had been elected turcopolier in the preceding
January and was clearly expected to come to Malta to assume his conventual
The fact that no responsions or other dues were submitted to Malta during
this time caused no comment at all. No ambassadors were sent to England,
the king was not asked for the release of the monies, and no orders were
addressed to the English brethren to act until 1532. It seems to have been
only after John Rawson took over from West that the latters administration

AOM415, fos. 163v164r. Transcribed in Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 857.
AOM415, fo. 163v. 225
Ibid., fos. 229v230r. 226
AOM414, fo. 219v, 193r, 8v9v.
Ibid., fos. 240r, 194r.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 199

was put under the spotlight. There are two likely explanations for the
convents failure to act against West beforehand, the rst being that the
crown had decided to hold back the orders responsions until it should be
assured of a home. Charles V had ceded Malta in March 1530, but, partly
because of the orders insistence that it should be assured of tax-free grain
supplies from Sicily, the offer had not been accepted until late in the year.228
Although Henry had congratulated LIsle Adam on the gift in late November
1530, there may still have been doubts in England, as indeed there were in
the convent, as to whether the order would actually take up its new home. It
may only have been when these were laid to rest, and when the king had
managed to bully the Hospital into a permanent alienation of Hampton
Court, that its responsions were freed. A second possible cause of the delay
was the legislation forbidding religious persons from engaging in trade
passed by Parliament in late 1529.229 This could certainly have been inter-
preted as prohibiting the orders export of commodities and possibly even its
exchange operations. Such a supposition is supported by the fact that on 26
May 1531 royal letters patent were granted to the prior and his successors
licensing them to purchase clothing and other goods for the use of their
brethren and to convey the same overseas. The convents instructions to
Babington in 1532, which stated that West should have come to Malta with
goods bought in England, and admitted it might not be possible for the
money to be exchanged for letters of credit, provide evidence that it may still
have been difcult for the order to engage in nancial operations at this
time.230 On 18 September 1532, however, West remitted nearly 2,600 in
letters of exchange to the convent.231 It seems likely that before this he had
been collecting cash as receiver and stockpiling the surplus rather than
dispatch it to the convent. When he was required to convert the monies
into goods and bring these with him to Malta,232 however, he balked at
doing so and seems to have refused to hand over the written evidence
pertaining to his ofce to his successor. He did not have any legitimate
reason to do either, and it is also suspicious that in March 1532, just as
proceedings were being instituted against him in Malta, his casket, 200 in
cash, and other matters of importance were stolen from Clerkenwell by one
of his servants.233 Although John Mablestone, who wrote to Giles Russell on
the day of the theft, evidently believed that it was genuine, Wests dismay at
his losses may well have been mitigated by the fact that his accounts with the

Ibid., fo. 278r.
Statutes, iii. 293; Lehmberg, Reformation Parliament, 924.
LPFD, v, no. 278 (41); AOM415, fos. 229v230r.
AOM54, fo. 186r.
Although it does not survive, the order for this was probably given when West was
replaced as receiver in March 1531. The dating of this would suggest that the convent
was anticipating the imminent release of its monies, and further support the suspicion that
this was contingent upon the orders establishment in its new home.
LPFD, vi, no. 253 (misdated to 1533).
200 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

order were among them.234 It is worth reiterating that the instructions to

Babington to ensure the handover of all the goods pertaining to the receiv-
ership to John Rawson junior suggest that West had been reluctant to do so
and in such circumstances the loss of his accounts may be regarded as at best
a fortuitous coincidence and at worst something which had been arranged.
Another succeeding receiver, John Sutton, petitioned the orders council
some years later to get West to deliver goods and monies that were owed
to him.235
There is further evidence that the turcopolier turned the theft of his
muniments to his advantage in the months to come. Towards the end of
September he wrote to an unknown associate, enclosing the copy of a lease
granted under the common seal, the original of which, also enclosed, had
been thrown into water by the thief and was now illegible. West more or less
admitted altering the text of the lease to favour the lessee, for he urged his
correspondent to present both documents for conrmation at the next
provincial chapter before handing over any old leases. West explained that
no one was aware of the specics of the lease save he and that once the new
lease had been registered it could not be overturned. This at the least was
sharp practice, and may even point to the possibility that the turcopolier was
gifted with an uncanny foresight into the theft of his casket.236 Some days
after he wrote this letter West left for Malta, departing from Southampton
on a vessel prepared by Antonio Vivaldi.237 Before his departure he emptied
the orders treasury to buy letters of exchange and cloth to take to the
convent,238 and wrote another letter, asking the recipient to sign and seal a
box he had left behind and send it on to him at Southampton. He praised
Vivaldis friendship and bemoaned the loss of his accounts, the consequences
of which might yet be amended by a good king and duke.239 His corres-
pondent was probably the subprior, John Mablestone, to whom he had
remitted his business while he was away.
The turcopolier left England on 15 October 1532, travelling via Calais
and Alicante to Messina and thence to Malta.240 On reaching the convent
he presented his accounts for 1531 to the common treasury, which
diffused criticism sufciently for him to escape without being further pro-
ceeded against over the lack of similar documents for 152930.241 He
then threw himself into litigation, protesting before the council on 4 Febru-
ary that Melchbourne rightly pertained to him rather than to Weston.
A commission was appointed to consider this242 but had not reported
when, ve days later, the orders chapter-general began, and the extraordin-
ary events which ensued therein obviated the need for further discussion of
the issue.
234 235
LPFD, Addenda, no. 790. AOM85, fo. 116r.
236 237
LPFD, Addenda, no. 789. Ibid., nos. 78990.
LPFD, v, no. 1588; AOM54, fo. 186r. 239
LPFD, Addenda, no. 790.
LPFD, v, no. 1626. 241
AOM54, fo. 173r. 242
AOM85, fo. 109v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 201

Without going into too much detail, it seems appropriate to draw atten-
tion to some of the salient features of Wests career up to this point to provide
a background to what followed. Three characteristics in particular stand
out: the turcopoliers litigiousness, his highly developed sense of his
own rightness, and his rather dubious record when in positions of responsi-
bility. Wests zeal for litigation had really begun to manifest itself in
the 1510s, when he had conducted a vigorous campaign against Thomas
Docwras claim to have the right to appoint to preceptories in England
under the agreement of 1483 between John Weston and the English langue.
Although his fear that the prior would use his claims to retain the patronage
of the rich Welsh preceptory of Slebech, to which he was next in line,
proved well founded, Wests aggressive manipulation of an existing
dispute to defend his rights to Slebech did not go down well with the council,
which insisted that the cases be dealt with separately. An equal determin-
ation was apparent in Wests struggles against Roger Boydell, to whose
meliormenta he made objection, and in other appeals against the rest
of the langue over the grant of a preceptory to George Hateld in 1524,
against John Rawson senior over the langues concession that he might
exchange his English preceptory for a better one, against William Weston
over Melchbourne, and even against the master, whom he opposed in 1509
over Robert Pembertons spolia.243 On reaching England in 1518 or 1519244
he began further litigation against Sir Gruffydd ap Rhys. The latter had been
granted a lease of Slebech by Wests proctors but, together with accomplices,
had failed to maintain the charges on the house, taken money for repairs
which had not been carried out, cut down woods, extorted money from
tenants, made off with household goods and muniments, taken the prots of
courts held in the preceptors name after the expiry of the lease, and sent
servants to intimidate the preceptor and hunt in his woods.245 Repeated
royal intervention was necessary to protect West, a knight of the body, from

AOM82, fos. 192r, 193r, 193v194r; 84, fo. 46v; 85, fos. 24rv, 26v, 28v29r, 48r, 53v,
109v; 81, fos. 137v.
On 28 November 1517 West was ordered to appoint a proctor to act for him in the
dispute over Slebech when he should leave Rhodes. However, he was represented by proctors in
the presentation to a Welsh benece in his gift on 20 April 1518, and was not present at the
provincial chapter held in that year. His proctors probably also leased his preceptory to Sir
Gruffydd ap Rhys at about the same time. West had evidently been at Slebech for some time
before 16 August 1519, when Sir Gruffydds associate Harry Cadarn of Prendergast and thirty
compansions allegedly broke into the preceptory and assaulted him. AOM406, fo. 166v; The
Episcopal Registers of the Diocese of St Davids 1397 to 1518, ed. and trans. R. F. Isaacson,
2 vols. (London, 1917), ii. 836/7; F. Jones, Sir Rhys ap Thomas and the Knights of St. John,
Carmarthen Antiquary, 2/3 (1951), 704, at 72; R. A. Grifths, Sir Rhys ap Thomas and his
Family (Cardiff, 1993), 712.
PRO STAC2/22/290; REQ 2/10/76; Jones, Rhys ap Thomas, passim. The vice-receiver,
John Babington, had prosecuted several former farmers of the preceptory in the late 1510s but
these actions had proved unsuccessful and had been abandoned by 1520. In March 1527 West
complained that Babington was holding him responsible for the old debts. AOM54, fo. 13v;
85, fo. 23r.
202 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

the physical and legal pressure exerted by Rhys in response to his alle-
Unquestionably West was hard done by. Although Slebech was a rich
benece, his long exclusion from it and the circumstances he was forced
to confront on his arrival in Wales left him at a disadvantage when it
came to improving the preceptory, so that his contemporaries had all
been granted promotions by the time his meliormenta were accepted in
1524.247 It was not until 1526 that West was granted ancienitas to seek
another commandery, and when this was forthcoming he was passed over
for promotion in 1527, when the death of Docwra occasioned the usual
turnover of ofces, and in 1531, when the much more junior John Sutton
was granted an additional preceptory by magistral grace, which was
usually exercised on behalf of the turcopolier if he was not possessed of
a second commandery.248 Although his bitterness was understandable, his
insistence on objecting to the promotion of his brethren and on making
an issue of questions such as the masters right to dispose of the spolia of
brethren who had died in convent when he was himself so junior cannot
have endeared him to the English knights or the orders council, which
spent much of its time considering his petitions. It is noteworthy that he
prosecuted most of these actions on his own behalf rather than that of
the langue and that when he challenged the langues decisions he was
usually the sole objector. It is also worth noting that, with the exception
of his provision to Slebech, which was upheld, he lost all of these actions,
despite frequent appeals. In particular his objection to the grant of
Dinmore to George Hateld after the latter was dead may have rankled
with those younger brethren who had fought alongside Hateld in 1522
and may not have appreciated Wests long conventual service, for several
junior knights objected to the grant of ancienitas to him in 1526, al-
though they were unable to give grounds for doing so to the council.249
That he was not universally popular received further illustration at the
chapter in 1533, when the langue which he headed voted for two repre-
sentatives to serve among the sixteen capitulars responsible for the for-
mulation of new statutes. Three brethren, including West, shared the
votes equally.250
The convents evident failure to promote West to the dignities he felt were
his due may have had other causes than the excessive zeal he showed in their
pursuit. In addition to his possibly dubious record as receiver, West had
already been investigated in 1515 for his conduct as castellan of Rhodes, an

PRO REQ 2/10/76. Text in Jones, Rhys ap Thomas, 713; Grifths, Rhys ap Thomas,
AOM410, fos. 178v, 177v, 178v; 411, fo. 154v.
BDVTE, 8; AOM414, fos. 194v195r.
AOM84, fos. 46v, 95r.
AOM286, fo. 32v.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 203

ofce to which he had been appointed in December 1512.251 Although no

action had been taken against him at this time, he never held a commission
or ofce again in Rhodes, and was only appointed to commissions in the
priory of England infrequently after his return home. The grant of the
receivership was the rst important Hospitaller business on which he had
been employed since 1514. The reluctance to make use of him may also have
reected doubts about his loyalties. In 1508 the orders council appointed a
commission to examine the contents of a letter sent by West to Henry VII
and, although again no action was taken, his rabid nationalism and readi-
ness to identify his personal grievances with the national interest and appeal
over the heads of his religious superiors to the authorities in England,
characteristics which were so marked during the 1530s, surely did not spring
fully formed out of the Henrician breach with Rome.252
The twin catalysts by which the turcopoliers keen sense of injustice and
rampant xenophobia were awakened seem to have been a magistral prohib-
ition of his parading around Malta with his mace of ofce and the appoint-
ment of foreign proctors by the dignitaries of the English langue to represent
them in the chapter-general held in February 1533. According to West, it was
the mace that was at issue.253 The privilege of having a mace bearing the
royal arms carried before him while in convent had been granted the turco-
polier in 1448, and probably exercised ever since.254 In the circumstances of
1533, however, when Henry VIIIs assaults on the church were becoming
ever more strident and he had just divorced the emperors niece, it may have
been seen as provocative to accord his arms such conspicuous honour in
Malta. It has also been asserted that a further contribution to Wests behav-
iour in chapter was made by the theft of the mace in the wake of the
masters ban on its display, but no complaint was made about this until 29
March255 so that it seems more likely that it vanished in conjunction with or
after Wests arrest on 12 February rather than before it. Indeed, by 22 April,
LIsle Adam was convinced that West had himself sent the bauble home,
although it is unclear when this he thought this had occurred.256
The records of the chapter-general which began on 9 February certainly
make no mention of the mace, and give wholly different reasons for the
turcopoliers conduct. The appearance of foreign proctors in chapter to
represent Weston, Rawson, and Babington, against each of whom West
had a grievance, prompted him to complain that these should not be reck-
oned as members of the English langue and should neither be given a vote in
AOM82, fos. 137rv, 51r.
AOM81, fo. 110r.
LPFD, vi, no. 370.
CPL, x. 25. The grant had been made to Hugh Middleton, turcopolier, and his successors.
The mace was not to be borne in the orders council chamber.
AOM85, fo. 113r; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 176, wrongly states that West made the
complaint rather than Boydell.
LPFD, vi, no. 369.
204 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

the election of the capitular committee which drew up statutes nor in any
other decision to be made by the chapter as a whole. Although it was
conceded that the proctors, not being members of the langue, should not
be involved in electing its representatives, their right to vote in chapter was
upheld and the election of the capitulars took place.257 Wests subsequent
behaviour was quite extraordinary and deserves to be recounted in detail.
After breakfast, as the chapter sat down to begin proceedings, the turcopo-
lier not wishing to accept the . . . sentence of the chapter general that the
proctors of the priors of England and Ireland and the bailiff of Eagle should
have votes in chapter, leapt up with unjust accusations, no less rashly than
impudently, (and) without good reason before his reverend lordship and
chapter, and blaspheming God, he named the said proctors Saracens, Jews
and bastards. Having heard this charge, from which West would not desist,
asserting that he did not know whether they were Jews since they were not
English, the master and chapter, although the same turcopolier ought to
have been punished by grave penalties according to capitular statutes and
constitutions, not wishing that the business of the chapter be perturbed or
deferred, sentenced him to ask grace from his reverend lordship for those
things he had uttered before everyone so irreverently, injuriously and with
such great clamour, in excess of all modesty. West was then called before the
master and chapter again and the sentence against him read out, but he not
only refused to obey and ask grace but, blaspheming furiously, tore, threw
off and cast to the ground the habit or mantle and vest in which he was
attired with many indecent and shameful words, especially saying that if he
was disobedient he ought to be deprived of the habit and, drawing his
dagger, that he deserved death. And thus like a madman without mantle
and habit, since neither by words nor force nor by the persuasions of either
friends or honest men could he be restrained, he left the chapter.258 Lest
such nefarious and unheard of disobedience and temerity go unpunished,
master and chapter at once ordered that West should be imprisoned and
proceeded against in accordance with the statutes.259 On 25 February he
was deprived of the turcopoliership, and the ofce was provided to Roger
Boydell a week later.260
Every aspect of Wests tirade was offensive both to the orders regulations
and to the sensibilities of the men gathered in chapter. He had broken the
statutes so comprehensively in word and deed that it seems unnecessary to
draw attention to individual breaches here, but one item in particular
deserves comment. Wests initial accusations against the foreign proctors
were not only the gravest insult that could ever be inicted on a knight of

AOM286, fos. 31v32r.
Ibid., fo. 32v. An alternative translation, abbreviated for stylistic purposes, is provided by
Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 623.
Ibid.; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 177.
AOM286, fos. 35v36r; 85, fo. 110v; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 177.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 205

St John261 since the order technically excluded the illegitimate and the
descendants of indels from its ranks, but they were also in contravention
of the statutes, which laid down severe penalties for those who made
malicious accusations against their fellows. By extending the charge to all
the non-English knights in chapter the turcopolier was further implying that
none of the orders chief dignitaries, save he, was t to wear its habit. It is a
tribute to the patience of those present that he was allowed a chance to
apologize at all. His other chief offences were blasphemy, the drawing of his
dagger, and the casting off of his habit, the effects of which were exacerbated
by the fact that they happened in front of the master and the orders supreme
legislative body.262
Given its delicate relationship with the crown, the turcopoliers behaviour
left the convent in a difcult position, a fact of which West took full
advantage when he reported these events to Henry VIII and Thomas Crom-
well. His rst such letter, written to Cromwell between 25 and 28 Febru-
ary,263 represented that he had been deprived of ofce solely for having the
mace borne before him, and that LIsle Adam had refused to suffer this and
had accused him of disobedience in consequence. West had replied that he
had taken leave of his prince to enter the order and reminded the master that
Henry was a good king who had done much for the religion, citing his gift of
artillery and the export licence of 1531 as evidence of his largesse. When
again refused permission to bear the mace he had told the master to take
yowre abite and removed it, whereupon he was put in prison. He begged
Cromwell to put his cause before the king, so that the latter could intervene
with the pope to procure his restoration, as LIsle Adam would not do it.
Although Wests account clearly misrepresented the events of 12 February,
the record of which makes no mention of the mace at all, it seems unlikely
that the appointment of foreign proctors by the other English dignitaries of
the order provided sufcient reason in itself for his pronouncements in
chapter, even given his existing grievances and the aggressive nationalism
displayed in this and later correspondence. A perceived snub to the dignity of
his ofce and his nation seems a better explanation for his behaviour,
although there can be no doubt that he was deprived of the turcopoliership
for his extraordinary conduct before chapter rather than for the matter of
the mace itself.
The letter to Cromwell was followed on 22 April by a dispatch to the
king264 rehearsing Wests version of events and adding an account of what
had happened since, by which he sought to discredit the master further by

Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 62.
These were the issues which particularly grieved the commissioners appointed to inves-
tigate Wests conduct. AOM286, fos. 35v36r.
Misdated in LPFD to 22 April. It refers both to Wests deprival of ofce on 25 February
and to his arrest on twelfth instant. LPFD, vi, no. 370.
Otho C.ix, fos. 170rv (abstract in LPFD, vi, no. 369).
206 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

presenting him as vindictive and at odds with the orders council. He

recounted his deprival of ofce, imprisonment, and replacement by Boydell
and the latters subsequent death, following which the council had requested
that he be freed from prison, as there was no reason to keep him there
without a conciliar order. The master had not only ignored this petition but
when the council had elected a lieutenant turcopolier to exercise the ofce
until Henrys pleasure should be known he had caused the decision to be
overturned and had appointed John Rawson (junior) full turcopolier, al-
though he had not yet dared to send him the brod cross worn by a bailiff.265
West added that the mace had been sent back to England, and that he had
been advised that if the master were to take his habit and commandery from
him he should appeal to the king for restoration. He also reported the
insurrection which had occurred in Malta on 17 April, saying that 300
brethren had rebelled against LIsle Adam, calling into question the justice
of his suppression of the revolt and saying that he was now at loggerheads
with the Spanish brethren, who were demanding that he appoint a Spanish
lieutenant, to the wych he must consent or aventyr all. Having painted
this picture of misgovernment and injustice, he begged the king to delyver
us owght off thys thraldom, stressing once more that he had only been
deprived of his dignity for bearing the royal arms.266
As Wests letters arrived in England before the convents explanations of
the affair, they were highly successful in shaping the courts view of the
circumstances behind his removal from ofce.267 A letter which Cromwell
was drawing up in July may only have requested clarication of the matter,
as for the time being no action was taken in England, but in late October and
early November William Weston, the duke of Norfolk, and the king sent
letters to Malta by John Sutton, who presented them to the council in
February 1534.268 Norfolk urged that West be released and reinstated
without delay so that he might return to England for otherwise things
may turn unpleasant and be of considerable prejudice to the whole order
in the near future. Westons letter provided rather more substantial evidence

Otho C.ix. The Liber Conciliorum records that Bellingham was elected lieutenant turco-
polier on 17 April, and Rawson on the 19th. Bulls appointing Rawson were also drawn up on 19
April, John Sutton being appointed receiver in his stead on the same date. AOM85, fo. 113r;
415, fos. 166rv, 191r.
Further details of these troubles are provided by Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 1301 and
AOM85, fos. 112v, 113v, 115r.
Otho C.ix, fos. 170rv. Carlo Capello, writing to Venice from London on 12 July 1533
reported that an envoy had arrived from the prior of Rhodes asking the kings help in
succouring Coron, which Charles V was proposing to hand over to the order. This may have
been the prior of France, with whom Louis de Vallee had been sent to consult on 17 March, with
instructions to adresser celles dangleterre as he saw t. It seems possible that the proceedings
against West were explained in conjunction with these orders. A note among Cromwells
memoranda dated 2 July indicates that a letter to LIsle Adam was already being drawn up
then, however. CSPV, iv, no. 943; AOM415, fos. 241v242r; LPFD, vi, no. 756.
AOM85, fos. 125rv; Transcript in Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 17880.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 207

on the nature of this threat, reporting that some days before the letter had
been written he and the other peers gathered to transact the kings business
had discussed West and the reasons for his imprisonment. Nearly all had
opined that this had been a punishment for the Englishmans pretension in
having the mace bearing the royal arms carried before him even in the
masters palace and in public functions, which, as had been reported to the
king and lords, he had every right to do by right and custom. The master,
they added, had cast into prison the said brother Clement, for wishing . . . to
honour his king . . . So they all irately declaimed, uttering hard words against
you.269 Sutton added verbally that all this was known at court through
Wests letters and a messenger he had sent.
Since appeals by brethren to secular rulers or indeed the pope were
forbidden270 Suttons testimony resulted in West being brought before the
council and interrogated. He denied writing to the king, and afrmed that he
believed he owed his degradation solely to the matter of the mace. LIsle
Adam refuted this claim and deputed the draper,271 the prior of Pisa, and
Edward Bellingham to investigate the events of the previous year.272 Shortly
afterwards, on 13 April, a majority of the English langue instructed its
proctor to complain against West on the subject of the mace and request
that his appeals to England should be judged according to conventual
West responded by writing to England again, although he was careful to
address subsequent letters, until LIsle Adam had died, to Cromwell rather
than to the king. On 14 March he thanked the secretary for his help but
protested that the letters of Henry and Norfolk had done little good because
of Westons letter, without which he would have been restored. He reported
that proceedings had been instituted against him by the master and claimed,
truly enough, that pressure was being brought on him and his supporters to
deny that LIsle Adam had ever made an issue of the honour of the English
nation or of the matter of the mace. Moreover, he claimed to be sick and
unable to get representation and asked that the case be heard in England and
the English knights summoned home, as the masters control of patronage
made the younger knights forget the honour of their sovereign and nation. In
particular he singled out John Sutton for criticism, asserting that he was the
tool of LIsle Adam, whom Suttons uncle Thomas Shefeld had made
master, and who in return had provided Sutton with the commandery of
grace which ought to have gone to West as turcopolier. For further informa-
tion he referred Cromwell to John Story, who was probably the messenger
mentioned by Sutton and later entered the royal service. West claimed that

Quotations after Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 645.
Stabilimenta, De fratribus, xliiii (Statute of Jean de Lastic, 143754).
The draper, or drapier, was the conventual bailiff of the langue of Aragon.
AOM85, fos. 125v126r; transcript in Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 181.
AOM85, fo. 128r; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 170.
208 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Story had been refused audience by the master and (subsequent) licence to
leave Malta with Sutton.274
On 12 May this letter was followed by another giving Wests version of
the proceedings of the chapter-general against him. He asserted that the
assembly had been packed with members of the masters household,
and pointed out that foreign proctors had sat in the place of Englishmen.275
He repeated his complaints regarding the detention of Story and the
untrue demeanour of Sutton, and his wish that all the English knights
be summoned home and heard together. He also drew attention to the plight
of Oswald Massingberd, a junior knight who had been investigated in
March for brawling with three other brethren, for having praised the murder
of four men in one of the orders galleys during the previous years insurrec-
tion, and for having repeatedly said out loud that LIsle Adam should be
killed.276 By the time West wrote his letter Massingberd had been put on
trial for the murder himself, as well as for duelling, sedition, and lese-
majeste.277 West glossed over these indiscretions, saying that Massingberds
only crime had been to accuse Sutton of being untrue to his prince and
The impact of Wests allegations on the orders affairs in England was less
than it might have been. The masters secretary was dispatched thither in the
last months of 1533 and after the commission appointed to investigate the
former turcopoliers claims of having been dismissed for bearing the mace
had reported in the following February John Sutton was sent home to
explain its ndings.279 Sutton probably carried an extract of the proceedings
of the chapter of 1533, now bound up with the Hospitaller correspondence
in the British Library and endorsed by nine English brethren, to England at
the same time.280
In the short term the orders damage limitation exercise appears to have
been a success. Despite the continued imprisonment of the two English
knights, no action was taken against the order in England in response to
Wests reports in 1534. In any case, after the death of LIsle Adam in August
1534 the situation of the prisoners improved. On 26 August an Italian, Piero
del Ponte, praised by West as a wise man and esteemed and an old friend,
was elected grand master. West marked the occasion with a scathing attack
on the former master and asked Cromwell and the king to write to Malta

LPFD, vii, no. 326.
Ibid., no. 651.
AOM85, fo. 126v; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 16970; Sannazaro, Venerable
Langue, 53940.
AOM85, fos. 128r, 130r, 130rv.
LPFD, vii, no. 651. Suttons step-nephew, Nicholas Upton, was among the brethren
Massingberd had been convicted of ghting with in March. AOM85, fo. 126v.
On 9 March LIsle Adam wrote thanking the deputy of Calais for the civility shown his
secretary on his return to England. His letter was carried by Sutton. LPFD, Addenda, no. 925.
LPFD, vii, no. 236.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 209

asking for his and Massingberds release.281 This was effected shortly after-
wards, despite LIsle Adams deathbed refusal to pardon Massingberd, for
the latter was in more trouble in November for ghting with John Babington
junior in the English auberge in Malta.282 West was also freed and, after a
civil exchange of letters between Henry VIII and Cromwell and the new
master, was re-elected turcopolier in April 1535.283
Although the events following Wests outburst in chapter were resolved
quite amicably, this may only have been because of LIsle Adams demise,
and it is noteworthy that whatever the friendship between Del Ponte and
West, the order had been pressurized into relaxing sentences against two
aggressive and disruptive brethren who had, according to the statutes,
merited deprival of the habit and perpetual imprisonment or death. More-
over, Wests accusations, although they did no immediate damage to the
orders operations in England, certainly increased suspicion of the Hospital-
lers at court at a time when the orders international status and privileges, if
not yet its very existence in England, were being challenged in the courts and
in parliament. Over the next few years the order was to nd itself in an
increasingly untenable position as the king sought clarication of where its
loyalties lay.
While the orders position had partly been safeguarded by the letters
patent of 1531, the anti-clerical and anti-papal legislation passed in parlia-
ment and convocation from 1529 onwards was potentially extremely dam-
aging to its independence, privileges, and nances. The Reformation
parliament, which met intermittently between November 1529 and April
1536, processed a vast corpus of legislation which gradually destroyed the
ties the English Church had with Rome.284 Inherent in the process was a
challenge to the status of those religious orders which had active inter-
national roles, among them the Hospital, the brethren of which were par-
ticularly vulnerable because their service in and submission of funds to the
convent on Malta provided their raison detre and their sense of corporate
identity. At the same time as the king and parliament were abolishing the
Churchs links with Rome, moreover, they were questioning ecclesiastical
privileges and taxing the clergy, including the Hospitallers, to an unpreced-
ented extent. Appropriately enough, given his past dealings with the king, it
was the nancial assault that William Weston found hardest to resist.
Although the attack on the papacy did not begin in earnest until 1531,
anti-clerical legislation proposed in the very rst session of the Reformation

AOM85, fos. 133v135v; LPFD, vii, nos. 11001.
LPFD, vii, no. 1100; AOM85, fo. 140v.
Following the death of John (I) Babington, John Rawson junior was provided to Eagle on
15 February 1535, but the choice of a new turcopolier was suspended until the return of the
ship, presumably a vessel bearing news from England. West was re-elected on 26 April. LPFD,
viii, nos. 459, 499, 5467; AOM85, fos. 144rv, 148r.
Lehmberg, Reformation Parliament, passim.
210 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

parliament already constituted a challenge to certain of the orders privil-

eges. The act laying down heavy nes on clergy guilty of non-residence or
pluralism and on those holding land at farm was not applicable to knight-
brethren, who were, after all, laymen, but were a potential check on the
disposal of the orders appropriated churches and effectively abolished the
papal privilege which had permitted eight clergy in the priors service to be
non-resident. Although exceptions were made, offenders against the act
came before the courts in large numbers.285 Besides the restrictions on
clerical non-residence there was also an attack on the payment of mortuar-
ies, which were only to be levied from the goods of those who possessed
moveable property worth 10 marks or more, and were limited to a max-
imum of 10 shillings. They were not to be paid at all by women, people
keeping the house, or travellers. All three categories probably comprehended
many of those who had paid mortuaries to the Hospitallers, one of whose
most cherished privileges was the right to bury people outside their home
parishes.286 Although other, more serious attacks on the orders revenue-
producing privileges were to follow, even in 1533 Thomas Cromwell was
seeking a more favourable lease of Sutton-at-Hone, as its pardon was
utterly decayed.287
The following years saw more anti-clerical legislation and increased royal
demands on the clerical estate. In 1532 convocation was forced to submit to
the review of existing, and royal approval of all new canon law, and the
papal pocket was threatened by the Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates,
which came into effect in the following year. In 1533 the Act of Succession
imposed an oath to be administered throughout the kingdom acknowledg-
ing the kings second marriage and its offspring, and all appeals to, and
procurements of licences, faculties, and dispensations from, Rome were
forbidden by the Acts of Appeals and Dispensations.288 The following year
papal authority over the English Church was denitively suppressed by the
Acts of Supremacy and Heresy.289
These measures, particularly the Acts of Dispensations and Supremacy,
had serious implications for the Hospital. While the restraint of annates to
Rome and the investigation of canon law had a potential rather than an
immediate effect on the order, the attack on papal supremacy and the
dispensations and licenses which owed from Rome did call into question
its exemptions and privileges, which, although traditionally conrmed by
English monarchs on their accession or that of new priors, were now at the
will of a crown which was carrying out a thorough review of ecclesiastical

Statutes, iii. 2926; CPL., x. 189; Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, 330; Lehmberg, Reformation
Parliament, 934.
Statutes, iii. 2889.
LPFD, vi, no. 1665.
Statutes, iii. 4601, 3858, 4624, 4714, 4279, 492, 46471.
Ibid., 4545 (clause 7).
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 211

privileges. The Hospitals status as an exempt order of the church under

papal protection was not unique in England, but its links with its overseas
convent were unusually concrete, and its international activities were, in the
last analysis, an expression of papal policy. Moreover, the Acts of Dispen-
sations and Appeals, which struck at the recourse of Englishmen to the curia
as a fount of justice and privilege, also forbade any resort to other foreign
authorities. Although the order was able to secure a proviso that Dispensa-
tions should not extend to those privileges it had been granted before March
1532, its brethren were, at least technically, prohibited in future from
obtaining licences, faculties, and dispensations not merely from Rome but
from any other foreign source. Nor was the Hospital exempted from the
clauses forbidding the visitation of exempt monasteries by foreign visitors
and prohibiting members of English houses from acting as visitors or attend-
ing chapters or assemblies abroad. Visitations, Dispensations declared, were
henceforth to be by commission from the king, although when these were
ordered the Hospitallers were not listed among those orders whose houses
were to be visited.290 The order probably managed to avoid these provisions
by pleading its past exemptions, but these were to be allowed only insofar as
they were in accordance with English law and it seems probable that ap-
pointments from Malta and the participation of English brethren in deci-
sion-making processes there were now technically illegal, a possibility that
lends a certain irony to Clement Wests protest against the use of foreign
proctors in the chapter of 1533.
Perhaps most importantly, by abolishing the title and authority of the
pope within the realm, the Act of Supremacy made it impossible for the
Hospital to plead past papal privileges when soliciting confraternity pay-
ments, effectively curtailing their collection. Coupled with the restrictions
on mortuary payments, this had a crippling effect on the protability of
Hospitaller pardons. The indirect assaults on the orders revenues, more-
over, were complemented by the imposition of direct taxation, for Weston
was unable to procure exemption from the Act of First Fruits and Tenths
which reserved the prots of the vacancy year of all ecclesiastical beneces
and possessions and a tenth of their annual value thereafter to the crown
from 1 January 1535.291 This was a major setback. The orders revenues had
already declined considerably because of the attacks of convocation and
parliament, and it was now subjected to the payment of a tenth of its net
income in addition to the responsions and other dues demanded by the
convent. In 1534 the council complete had already permitted the brethren
of the English langue to pay a third-annate for their responsions rather
than the half levied by the last chapter and this new imposition provoked
Del Ponte to ask Cromwell for the Hospital to be exempted in April 1535,

Ibid., 46471, clauses 19, 14; Concilia, ed. Wilkins, iii. 82930.
Clause 21 of the act specically included the order in the levy. Statutes, iii. 4939, at 498.
212 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

but his appeal was fruitless and the measure remained in force until the
As a result of parliamentary prohibitions and impositions, payments to
the convent declined drastically. Having deducted a tenth from the respon-
sions they were prepared to pay as a result of First Fruits, the preceptors of
the orders houses in England and Wales then sought rebates of up to three-
quarters of the remaining sum as a result of their loss of confraternity
payments and oblations.293 Even given these reductions, most fell rapidly
and heavily into arrears. The suspension of the confraria, in particular, was a
serious blow to the orders revenues, although there was some initial confu-
sion about whether its collection had been forbidden or not. Although values
were given for the confraria in many of the Valor Ecclesiasticus returns, their
farmer in south-west Wales had collected nothing in 1534 or 1535 because
the kings will on the matter was not yet fully understood. Despite the orders
exemption from Dispensations, he was clearly afraid of punishment should
he proceed to collection.294 By 1536 the order was nding confraternity
payments impossible to collect anywhere. Accordingly it lobbied the crown
for redress, with the remarkable result that the privilege granted to the
Hospitallers by Henry in 1537 conceded that they might be levied hence-
forth in vim Regiorum diplomatum rather than in accordance with papal
letters.295 In 1539 we nd the chancellor, Audley, reporting to Cromwell
that William Weston had requested he be granted commissions to gather the
frary under the great book granted by the king to the grand master, and
asking the kings pleasure on the matter.296
Some brethren appear to have reacted aggressively to the erosion of their
privileges and revenues. The impecunious preceptor of Carbrooke, Thomas
Coppledike, who spent much of the 1530s either petitioning for a reduction
in his responsions or seeking to augment his estate,297 was provoked to fury
in 1534 by the attempt of his tenant John Payne to serve a writ against some
local adversaries in Great Carbrooke. Pronouncing that by goddes soule
ther shal be no warraunts servyd withyn my Town for I am lord and kynge
ther myselffe, Coppledike gathered a band of armed men, who tore down
Paynes hedge while singing verse to commemorate the deed. Although

Sannazaro, Venerable Langue, 47; AOM286, fo. 85v; LPFD, viii, no. 547.
In 1536, the further rebates sought on top of the deduction of a tenth because of First
Fruits and Tenths were a tenth from the sums owed by the prioral preceptories and Newland, a
ninth from Beverley and Dinmore, a seventh from Halston and Quenington, a fth from Mount
St John and Slebech, a quarter from Dalby, Swingeld, Yeaveley, a third from Ansty and
Battisford, and three-quarters from Carbrooke. The preceptors of the former Templar houses
of Eagle, Ribston, Temple Brewer, Templecombe, and Willoughton, which were not centres for
the collection of confraternity payments, did not ask for rebates beyond the initial tenth.
AOM54, fos. 286r296r.
Valor, iv. 388.
LPFD, xiv, II, no. 36.
AOM86, fos. 60r, 61r, 73r, 75r.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 213

allegations of riot were often made in order to transfer business into Star
Chamber, and Payne does seem to have enclosed land on which Coppledike
had right of common for his cattle, the words attributed to the Hospitaller,
even if exaggerated, probably demonstrate that the order was perceived to
be vulnerable to accusations of arrogance and disloyalty to the crown.
Further complaints that the preceptor had threatened to evict Payne
and leave him destitute, and that an attempt had been made to murder
him by one of Coppledikes associates, cannot have improved the orders
A case more directly connected with the orders defence of its privileges
occurred in Bristol in the same year. It began with the abduction of the female
servant of a Bristol merchant by the commander of Templecombe, Edmund
Hussey, and escalated into a major clash between the corporation and
the order over the district of Temple Fee, a jurisdictional peculiar in
which Hussey had held the unfortunate girl before conveying her elsewhere.
The corporation alleged that Hussey had refused to hand over his captive,
to pay sureties to the town Constable, and to acknowledge the jurisdiction
of its ofcers in Temple Fee. His deance had culminated in an armed
march by Hussey, his friends, and tenants into the centre of Bristol, where
he had dared the civic ofcials to arrest him and assaulted the sergeant sent
to do so with a dagger. Again there are the same intimations that the order
considered itself above the law and supported its pretensions with violence
and intimidation. The towns real reason for reporting these matters was
probably the separate jurisdiction of Temple Fee, which Hussey and the
prior claimed was exempt from visitation or correction by Bristol ofcials
and in which, the mayor alleged, the order gave sanctuary to a host of
criminals and operated a string of unlawful brewhouses and other un-
savoury establishments. The issue of sanctuary was decided in favour of
the corporation and the mayors ofcers given the right to serve processes in
Temple Fee without resistance from prior or preceptor. Any decisions
taken on the more specic allegations against Hussey appear not to have
The particular accusations surrounding the Hospitallers in 1534 may
conceivably have encouraged their inclusion in a contemporary plan for
the disendowment of the Church, which probably originated in government
circles but evidently failed to meet with parliamentary approval.300 But this
general scheme having failed, the crown did not involve the order in its
attack on the smaller monasteries in 15356. Thus, despite mostly being
valued under 200 and staffed by but one knight-brother, the orders pre-
ceptories were not investigated by Cromwells visitors in 15356. While the
PRO STAC2/29/134; 2/29/65.
PRO STAC2/6/93; M. C. Skeeters, Community and Clergy: Bristol and the Reformation
c.1530-c.1570 (Oxford, 1993), 69.
Hoyle, Origins, 2914.
214 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

priorys incorporation as a single entity in common law, and perhaps oppos-

ition raised against the orders dissolution in parliament may have something
to do with this, part of the credit must also go to William Weston, who had
handled the king skilfully in 1528, and who took care to demonstrate his
loyalty during the early 1530s, professing his support for the annulment of
the royal marriage in July 1530, attending parliament and taking the oath
of succession there, serving on royal commissions and providing sweeteners
of cash, cloth, and carpets to Thomas Cromwell, the master of the Rolls, and
the king respectively.301 It is noticeable that he conned his opposition to
religious change to the impositions and grants which specically affected the
orders functioning and nances rather than making an issue of its subjection
to the papacy. The restoration of the ow of responsions to the convent in
1531 must have owed much to his prudence. The crowns continued com-
plaisance in the orders activities was doubtless also assisted by the grant of
Hampton Court, although this did not entirely sate the king, as the prior was
induced to alienate more property in 1536, when his manor of Paris Garden
was exchanged for the lands of the suppressed monastery of Kilburn and
granted to the queen.302 Pressure from other court luminaries for grants of
leases and ofces also continued. The provincial chapter of 1529 had
granted the major Essex estate of Cressing-Witham to a baron of the ex-
chequer, John Smith, and in 1535 Lord Lisle was petitioning for the farm of
Rodmersham, a part of the magistral camera, which was still in the hands of
Francis Bells widow.303 Two years later the magistral camera was granted to
Cromwell in its entirety.304 In 1536, as we have seen, Cromwell also
attempted to procure the auditorship of the priory for an adherent, pressing
the matter despite Westons protest that he had already granted the ofce
and could not revoke it without appearing weak.305 The prior was so upset
by the demands for leases that he delayed holding a provincial chapter in
1533,306 while the peril of association with courtiers was demonstrated, as it
had been on Wolseys death, when the orders lands in the tenure of William
Brereton were seized on his attainder in May 1536. In 1537 Clement West
was still petitioning for the recovery of goods that had been in Breretons

LPFD, iv, no. 6513 (letter); v, no. 1518; vii, no. 391 (parliament, oath); vols. ivv, xi, xiv,
passim (commissions of the peace); Addenda nos. 609, 655 (commissions of searches); iv, no.
5330; ix, no. 478; xi, no. 66; v, no. 686.
Statutes, iii. 6767, 6957.
PRO SC6/Henry VIII/ 2402, mm. 3333d; LPFD, viii, no. 381.
PRO LR2/62, fos. 160rv.
LPFD, xi, nos. 406, 419, 425, 450.
LPFD, vi, no. 166.
LPFD, xi, no. 489; xii, I, no. 347. A list of Breretons debts drawn up in 1545 includes
West among his creditors. Letters and Accounts of William Brereton of Malpas, ed. E. W. Ives,
Lancashire & Cheshire Record Society, 116 (Old Woking, 1976), 279.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 215

Yet although Weston did his best to allay royal suspicions, he was no
longer fully trusted. He was not named to commissions of the peace between
February 1532 and October 1537 and was conspicuously absent from those
ordered north against the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, being instructed to
remain behind and guard the queen instead. Nor was he employed on the
diplomatic business for which his predecessor had been so remarkable.
Although he was among the English notables who welcomed the Venetian
ambassador to London in December 1528,308 the prior was never sent on an
embassy abroad and was not involved in drawing up treaties at home either.
He was, moreover, refused permission to go to Malta himself in 1536,
despite making great suit to do so.309
While Weston took steps to show himself loyal to the crown during its
course, in the longer term the effects of the Pilgrimage of Grace probably
intensied royal distrust of the order and helped to ensure its suppression.
Although Sir William Fairfax wrote to Cromwell in January 1537 stating
that the northern religious houses were still patronizing the poor to get their
support and that none were so busy in stirring up the people as the Hospi-
tallers chief tenants, the Pilgrimage and its associated risings did not prompt
any royal attack on the orders brethren or properties.310 Nor did Weston
suffer any contemporary loss of favour at court, where he was seeking royal
conrmation of the grant of Shingay to his nephew Thomas Dingley by
Didier de Saint Jalhe, who had been elected master after the death of Piero
Del Ponte in November 1535.311 The king had written to either LIsle Adam
or Del Ponte in 1534/5 asking the (unnamed) master to present Dingley to
the next vacant preceptory in England and had written again to the next
master asking for Dingleys promotion to be remembered.312 His wishes
were upheld when the priors nephew was provided to Shingay on 25 April
1536.313 The orders statutes, however, laid down that masters-elect had no
power to confer beneces until they should reach the convent and be sworn
in, and pleading this Ambrose Cave was able to have Saint Jalhes decision
overturned by the lieutenant master and council on Malta, who granted him
the preceptory for his meliormentum on 14 June 1536.314 Caves existing
preceptory, Yeaveley, was conferred on Anthony Rogers.315
By the time the dispute came to the notice of the English court, matters
had been further complicated by the death at Montpellier in October 1536
of Saint Jalhe, who had never reached Malta after his election.316 In the
following January Cave wrote to Cromwell asking for his rights to Shingay

308 309 310

CSPV, iv, no. 380. LPFD, x, no. 339. LPFD, xii, I, no. 192.
AOM86, fo. 19v.
The letters are undated exempla lacking addresses. LPFD, x, no. 391.
LPFD, x, no. 731.
AOM86, fo. 40r; 416, fo. 157v.
AOM416, fos. 158r, 158v.
AOM86, fos. 47r, 47r48r.
216 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

to be upheld, and protesting that Dingley already held another preceptory

and had also been granted a pension of 100 crowns together with, subse-
quently, the member of Stansgate, which was worth another 40 per annum.
No man, he said, was so rewarded having served so little time.317 His
complaints were supported by Clement West, who conrmed that masters
of the order could only confer its dignities after they had sworn in convent to
maintain its customs and statutes. None of the masters he had seen, ve of
whom had been elected overseas, had done otherwise.318 To further under-
mine Dingleys credentials the turcopolier also sent Cromwell an old letter
from Sir Richard Weston to his brother William concerning their nephews
youthful misdemeanours, which had been serious enough to prompt his
expulsion from Richards household. The priors brother had warned at
the time that if the king should get hold of Dingley 10,000 would not
save his life.319 Although the lieutenant master and council on Malta did
not, as yet, write to the king about Shingay, the prior was told that Saint
Jalhes actions had been illegal and ordered to put Cave into possession, an
instruction he actively disobeyed.320
A royal commission had by now been established to determine the truth
of the opposing claims, but the priors inuence at court was still strong
enough to ensure Dingleys conrmation as preceptor of Shingay on 19 April
1537, before the commissioners had reported.321 But his rivals continued to
press their claims. The new grand master, Juan de Homedes, had been
elected in Malta in November 1536 and had dispatched Aimery de Reaulx
to announce his election to the king.322 Although Reaulx had no written
orders to intervene in the Shingay case, the prior wrote on 7 September 1537
to warn Dingley that Reaulx, John Sutton, and Ambrose Cave had per-
suaded Cromwell that the death of Saint Jalhe before he had reached
Malta had invalidated the gift of Shingay. The king now apparently believed
that the matter should be put to justice.323 Anthony Rogers had
been petitioning Cromwell for some time before this, initially with little
success, but had threatened that he would have his pennyworth of Dingley,
and eventually had been sent to court by the minister, where he waited
for an audience for several weeks. The king had still not seen him by
5 September.324

Weston had granted Dingleys pension in 1526 and Stansgate in the provincial chapter of
1533, the latter being conrmed in convent in 1535. Dingley had been received into the order
only in 1526. LPFD, xii, I, no. 78 (1); AOM416, fos. 157rv; BDVTE, 42.
LPFD, xii, I, no. 207.
LPFD, Addenda, no. 1191.
AOM416, fos. 158v159r.
LPFD, xii, I, no. 1103(28).
AOM86, fos. 47r48r; LPFD, xii, I, no. 204.
LPFD, xii, II, no. 663.
Ibid., no. 427; Addenda, no. 1095 (misdated in Letters and Papers to 1536; Rogers was
on caravan in that year: BDVTE, 35).
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 217

Whether as a result of Rogerss interview with the king, or for other

reasons, within a fortnight of Reaulxs meeting with Cromwell Dingley
had been arrested and committed to the Tower on suspicion of treason.325
The nature of his offence is perhaps best illustrated by a letter from Robert
Branceter, a London merchant in the imperial service, to Richard Pate
written in May 1538, and either intercepted by the crown or sent by Pate
as evidence. Branceter reported that Dingley had said openly at table in
Pates house in Genoa that if bad fortune should happen to the king in this
matter (the Pilgrimage) then the lady Mary could marry the Marquis of
Exeters son and the two enjoy the realm together.326 The act of attainder by
which Branceter and Dingley were condemned in 1539 accused them both of
complicity in the rising and of stirring foreign princes to war against the
What is unclear is the identity of the original informant against the priors
nephew. In October 1537, shortly after his arrest, Thomas Cromwell
instructed Sir Thomas Wyatt, then at the imperial court, to deliver an
intercepted letter from Pate to an Englishman there, possibly Branceter, as
the king much desired to try out the matter of Dingley. Ten days later
another dispatch requested information on the business touching Dingley,
which the king, Cromwell said, had specially to heart.328 While Henry VIII
was seeking proof of Dingleys guilt he remained in the tower and under
interrogation admitted to conversing with Sir George Throckmorton about
the Act of Appeals and the kings remarriage some years earlier. Throckmor-
ton was pulled in and confessed that he had expressed disapproval of
the latter when speaking with Dingley in the garden of St Johns, prompting
his interrogators to ask pointedly whether he had known that the
priors nephew was a man sometime travelling in far countries, whereby
he might the rather spread abroad the said infamy.329 Although Throck-
morton was later released, Dingley was already past saving, and by
3 November his preceptories had been bestowed upon the courtiers Sir
Thomas Seymour and Sir Richard Long.330 Shortly afterwards the prior
was forced to surrender to the crown the monies he was detaining from
Dingleys estates for responsions and, as a further punishment, the 200
which he stood bound to pay for Dingley, presumably as a surety or ne,
and for which he had hoped to be recompensed from the prots of his
nephews preceptories.331

Dingley was incarcerated on 18 September. LPFD, xiii, I, no. 627.
Ibid., no. 1104.
S. E. Lehmberg, The Later Parliaments of Henry VIII 15361547 (Cambridge, 1977), 60.
LPFD, xii, II, nos. 870, 950.
Ibid., nos. 9523.
Ibid., no. 1023.
LPFD, Addenda, no. 1269. Dingley had owed the common treasury 75 12s. 10d. in
1536. AOM54, fos. 293v294r.
218 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

Although his fate might have been sealed by Branceters letter of May
1538 anyway, Dingleys cause cannot have been helped by Clement Wests
letters home. Besides his reminder of the prisoners past misdeeds in 1537,
the turcopolier wrote to Cromwell and the king early in the following year to
report the arrival of Juan de Homedes in Malta. He added that Homedes had
been accompanied by Oswald Massingberd and John Story, who evidently
informed West that Dingley had been executed following his imprisonment.
The turcopolier saw this as an opportunity to further blacken the younger
knights reputation, opining that he had deserved to die, and reporting that
the hospitaller,332 Robert Dache, had recently informed him of a conversa-
tion which he had had with Dingley in France, during which the latter had
told him that the king sought avanys moreskys to put men to death. West
also mentioned the currency in Malta of prophecies forecasting woe for the
king, Norfolk, and Cromwell.333 Although he may have been misled in the
matter of Dingleys supposed death, the turcopoliers letter probably helped
doom the prisoner and hardly redounded to the greater good of his order,
which was viewed with increasing suspicion in England.
Dingley was attainted in May 1539 and executed on Tower hill on 9 July
alongside Sir Adrian Fortescue and two of their, probably the latters,
servants.334 The exact offence for which he was executed remains unclear.
The reference to his complicity in the Pilgrimage of Grace is the more
difcult to substantiate of the charges levelled against him in the act of
attainder, for the only reference to it before the act is provided by Branceters
letter, which only hinted that he approved of the revolt, not that he was
involved in it, which could hardly have been possible if he was abroad.
Taken in conjunction with the accusation that Dingley had stirred foreign
princes to war against the king, however, the former charge may refer to the
Hospitaller urging the emperor to become involved in the rising. Certainly
Dingley had made no secret of his opposition to royal policies while he was
abroad, and although direct evidence that he had conversed with any foreign
potentates is lacking his position as a Hospitaller would have provided him
with relatively easy access to them.
It is difcult to be sure of the source of the initial accusation against
Dingley. Possible candidates are Rogers, Cave, West, the interception of
one of Pates or Branceters letters, or more direct collaboration with the

The hospitaller was a conventual bailiff and the chief dignitary of the langue of France.
LPFD, xiii, I, nos. 230, 234.
LPFD, xiv, I, nos. 867, 980; A London Chronicle during the Reigns of Henry VII and
Henry VIII, ed. C. Hopper, in Camden Miscellany IV, CS, 1st ser., 73 (London, 1859), 14;
Chronicle of the Grey Friars, ed. Nichols, 43; C. Wriothesley, A Chronicle of England during the
Reigns of the Tudors, ed. W. D. Hamilton, vol. i, CS, 2nd ser., 11 (London, 1875), 1012.
Dr Richard Rex has conclusively established that there is no evidence that Fortescue was
connected with the order of St John. R. Rex, Blessed Adrian Fortescue: A Martyr without a
Cause?, Analecta Bollandiana, 115 (1997), 30752, esp. 33949. I am grateful to him for
making a copy of this article available.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 219

crown by one of these two. Whether Dingley was condemned by his own
brethren or not, the Shingay case demonstrated the bitterness of the divisions
within the English langue, which had developed to such an extent by 1539
that there were then two fairly distinct factions among the English brethren
on Malta, one composed of convinced royalists and the other of moderates
seeking to balance their conicting obligations to crown and convent. The
order soon realized that Dingley was doomed, but continued to appeal for
the conscation of his commanderies to be rescinded. Homedes and the
council wrote to the king in May 1538 reiterating the invalidity of Dingleys
collation to Shingay and asking that Cave be granted it. Clement West
dispatched letters to the king, Norfolk, and Cromwell on the same theme
in the following July and as late as March 1540, when the order drew up
instructions for its visitors and ambassadors to England, they included a
mandate to seek the restoration of the conscated estates.335
By this time, however, the orders credibility in England had been com-
prehensively undermined, largely by the turcopolier. Despite his restoration
to ofce in 1535, a subsequent grant of ancienitas to the other chief dignities
of the langue, and an appointment to act as the regent of the magistral
election of October 1535, which he reported with some enthusiasm to
Cromwell, Wests tendency to complain whenever he was denied any ap-
pointment which might pertain to him soon reasserted itself.336 He con-
tinued to petition for the grant of Melchbourne, which had been denied him
by the maintenance of the cruel LIsle Adam, and attempted to appeal
against the election of proctors of the common treasury in January 1536 and
the appointment of a younger Italian knight, Leone Strozzi, as captain of the
orders galleys a year later.337 In both cases the council refused him licence
even to mount an appeal, prompting him to complain to Cromwell that
Englishmen were allowed little chance to participate in the honours of the
order, and that no Englishman had been given a naval command since the
siege of Rhodes.338 His attempt to turn a personal grievance into a matter of
national honour was intentionally undermined when William Tyrrell and
Giles Russell were given important positions of responsibility later in the
same year.339 Despite their appointments, West repeated his complaints in a
letter to the king in September 1537, adding gloomily that the little power
the English knights had would be further reduced when Homedes arrived.340
His complaints seem to have affected the orders attempts to get some
clarication of its privileges from the crown in the face of the attacks on
them. Certainly West reported in early 1538 that some in the convent

LPFD, xiii, I, nos. 1358, 13978; AOM286, fos. 130v131r.
AOM416, fos. 155rv; 86, fos. 18r19v; LPFD, ix, no. 920.
LPFD, xi, no. 917; AOM86, fos. 27r, 51v.
LPFD, xii, I, nos. 347, 365.
AOM86, fos. 54r, 54v.
LPFD, xii, II, no. 792.
220 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

believed that the conrmation of the orders privileges which had occurred in
the previous year would not have been so strait had it not been for his
letters home. Despite the kings ignorance of Thomas Dingleys treason at
the time, the letters patent issued on the orders behalf in July 1537 had both
exposed his distrust of his Hospitaller subjects and, in restoring confratern-
ity payments and permitting travel to Malta, conrmed his belief in the
continued validity of their enterprise. The letters were aimed at forcing the
brethren to choose between their national and ecclesiastical allegiances.341
They not only named the king Supreme Head of the English Church, but also
required that henceforth candidates received into the order should acknow-
ledge his supremacy by oath. Furthermore they established that those pro-
moted to the orders preceptories were not only to pay annates to both
crown and convent and tenths to the king, but were also to take an oath to
the king and be instituted by him. The orders brethren were additionally
forbidden to support or promote the jurisdiction, authority, or title of the
bishop of Rome, and were to collect confraternity payments in accordance
with royal licence rather than papal privileges. Finally it was laid down that
the order should hold annual provincial chapters, those feeling wronged by
their decisions appealing to the kings vicar for remedy.
Historians of the order have generally misdated the grant of 1537 to
1539 and presented it as an ultimatum rejected by the convent without
further ado, resulting in the dissolution of the Hospitallers in England,
Wales, and Ireland.342 In fact while Henrys letters were not ofcially rec-
ognized in Malta, neither were they actively repudiated, and the order
conducted its affairs in England in accordance with them for two and a
half years before it was dissolved.343 The specic causes of the dissolution of
1540 have rather to be sought in the after-effects of Dingleys treason and in
the divisions of the English langue in Malta, to which Clement West was
naturally central. It was only when a junior knight, Nicholas Lambert, made
an issue of Henry VIIIs letters that they became a signicant bone of
In September 1537 the turcopolier was in trouble with the orders council
again. His problems were chiey self-inicted, but he sought as usual to
depict them as having serious national and international implications. The
rst serious matter of which he was charged was provocation to duel in the
council, for which he was conned to his chamber on 10 September 1537,
and although he managed to stay out of trouble in the following year he

AOM36 [Original]; LPFD, xii, II, no. 411(25) [Enrolment].
Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 2001; King, British Realm, 104; Tyerman, England, 358.
The Catalogue of the orders archives dates the document to 7 August 1538, following Porter. It
is in fact dated 7 July 29 Henry VIII, i.e. 1537. Catalogue of the Records of the Order of St. John
of Jerusalem in the Royal Malta Library, ed. A. J. Gabarretta and J. Mizzi, vols. i-(Valletta,
1964 ), i. 105.
LPFD, vii, no. 1345; See below, 222.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 221

continued to portray the order in an unattering light.344 In addition to his

letters of February, which condemned Dingley and reported prophecies
against the king, in July 1538 West reported words spoken in the kings
despite in Marseilles while Tyrrell had been there as captain of the orders
galleon, and in the following month he sent a sycophantic missive to the king
in which he asserted that a strength was to be made against Henry, that
Spain and France bore him no favour, and that in Malta there was objection
to the kings naming the pope bishop of Rome, with people saying that
Henry had created martyrs and held rude opinions.345 It was only in early
1539, however, that the turcopolier passed the point of no return, being
conned to his chamber for three months for having insulted Homedes in
council without any reverence and respect.346 As a chapter-general was to
be held shortly, Giles Russell was elected lieutenant turcopolier to represent
the langue during its proceedings347 before Wests connement was
extended for another four months on 20 May.348 Not only had the orders
council nally lost patience with him but so, it seems, had the langue, for on
16 May certain English brethren appeared before the council complete and
complained that Wests earlier restoration by the council ordinary had been
invalid, as he had been deprived of ofce by the council complete, whose
decisions had the force of those of chapter.349 On 3 September their petition
was upheld, West was stripped of the grand cross and of his habit and
was sent back to the tower where he had been imprisoned in 1533. On
5 September he and his proctor, Nicholas Lambert, were ordered to be
conned indenitely for having appealed to another tribunal.350
The turcopoliers reaction to his travails was predictable. On 25 March
1539 he wrote to Cromwell to request that he be recalled to the royal
presence for the safeguard of the kings person. There he would tell Henry
what no other man could, which he would rather do than have any goods in
the world. For further news he referred the minister to the bearer, John Story,
whom he suggested should be taken into Cromwells service.351 The royal
reaction to Wests cryptic threats is unknown but according to Nicholas
Lambert Homedes opened the letters that had come from England in re-
sponse in early September. West sent Lamberts report of this on to Crom-
well, and followed it on 24 November with his version of the events behind
his deprival of the habit.352 Ignoring his public insults to the master and the
constitutional inadequacy of his restoration four years earlier, he depicted

AOM86, fo. 62r; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 183.
LPFD, xiii, I, no. 1397; II, no. 103.
AOM86, fo. 82v; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 183.
AOM86, fo. 82v.
Ibid., fo. 86r; Mifsud, Venerable Tongue, 184.
AOM286, fo. 119r.
Ibid, fos. 120rv; 86, fo. 92v; LPFD, xiv, II, no. 135.
LPFD, xiv, I, no. 605.
Ibid., II, nos. 5789.
222 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

the whole affair as having arisen from his attachment to the king. The
master, he said, had called him to his presence some time before, told him
that Weston was sick and likely to die and called upon him to leve yowr
kyng and all his ill works if he would be prior. West had asked how the king
had ever injured Homedes, and when the latter replied that Henry had taken
his privileges and his commanderies, the turcopolier had said that the
law had given him Dingleys possessions because he was a traitor. The
argument had moved on to the injuries done by the king to the pope and
when West had asked what the bishop of Rome had to do with England the
master had risen and said Call you him beschop of Rome? . . . Ye be accorsyd
and owght not to syt yn counsell. It was after this exchange that West had
been conned to his room for three months, and, because of his appeal to the
king, had been deprived of the grand cross and kept under lock and key,
denied permission to speak to anyone. Finally, in spite of his appeal to the
king, the turcopoliership had been bestowed on Giles Russell on 10 Novem-
ber.353 According to a letter written by the imprisoned Lambert to Cromwell
on the same day, Russells election had not been without controversy, as
several members of the langue had wished to wait for royal approval before
conducting it, and had stayed away. Lambert expressed himself unsurprised
that the foreign lords in Malta were unwilling to accept the kings patent
when so many English brethren had gone clear against it.354
The orders ofcial line on these events was upheld by Russell and William
Tyrrell in letters to England at about the same time. The new turcopolier
wrote to Lord Russell on 1 December reporting that Wests deprivation had
been due not only to the inadequacy of his restoration by the council
ordinary, but also to his misbehaviour towards the lieutenant master, most
of the lords of the religion, and Homedes since he had recovered the
turcopoliership. Russell added that he himself was now heir to the dignities
of the langue and asked his powerful namesakes favour in securing
the priory of England when the time should come.355 Tyrrells letters to
the prior and subprior are rather less naive, and show awareness of how
West was likely to react to his deprivation. Besides reiterating the constitu-
tional reasons for Wests deprivation, Tyrrell supposed that West would
respond by alleging that he and the master had quarrelled over the kings
patent, which would be but his excuse, as the order had petitioned for its
grant for a long time, and had observed it to the kings pleasure since.
Although Tyrrell was not quite right, the issue of the letters patent being
raised by Lambert rather than West, his insight into the latters modus
operandi is striking.356

AOM86, fo. 96r.
LPFD, xiv, II, no. 580.
Ibid., no. 625. Giless family, the Russells of Strensham, were not closely related to John
Lord Russell but claimed kinship with him. Bindoff (ed.), History of Parliament, iii. 236.
LPFD, vii, no. 1345 (wrongly assigned to 1534).
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 223

Wests appeal had a powerful effect at home, especially as the envoys of

the order who were supposed to depart for England in October 1539 did not
leave until March 1540, with the result that Wests version of events went
unchallenged for several months.357 By then royal letters ordering Wests
release from connement had arrived in Malta. This Homedes refused to
effect, saying that he would send an explanation back by John Story, but
Story was reluctant to carry Homedes letters, which denied the king the title
of Supreme Head. Homedes would not allow Story to return until he agreed
to take the letters and consequently it was two months before he was
released to go home.358 Writing to Cromwell from Paris on 1 June, he
reported that West and Lambert were still in connement.359 By the time
the masters envoys, who had instructions to explain the arrests and the
events leading up to them, had reached the Channel, the decision to dissolve
the order had already been taken, and they were denied entry to the realm.
Subsequent appeals for Henry to reconsider were equally fruitless, and by
the time the rst of them had been launched in September the king had
already alienated a large proportion of the orders estates, 600 marks worth
being given to contenders in the May Day tournament, before the act
dissolving the order was yet law.360
The act dissolving the order of St John was sent down from the Lords on
1 May 1540, and passed in the Commons within the week.361 The orders
houses in England, Wales, and Ireland were to be dissolved, its brethren were
to give up their habit and were no longer to meet, and those overseas were to
appear home within a year if they were to receive their pensions and avoid
the royal displeasure. Although their mobile goods were to be conscated,
relatively generous pensions, amounting to about half the revenue they had
enjoyed as knights, were allocated to twenty-eight brethren, and to the
master and chaplains of the Temple.362 Weston was to receive 1,000 per
annum, Rawson 500 marks, senior preceptors such as West and Sutton
200, junior preceptors between 30 and 100, and conventual brethren
10. Rawson, moreover, was accorded the title of Viscount Clontarf and a
seat in the Irish lords. Maurice Denis was appointed receiver of all the
orders lands and made responsible for the payment of the former Hospital-
lers pensions from the local issues of its estates. The prior, however, received
not a single payment for, according to Wriothesleys chronicle, he expired on

AOM286, fos. 121v122r, 130v131r.
LPFD, xv, nos. 430, 520, 5312.
Ibid., no. 741.
AOM6425, fo. 278r; Wriothesley, Chronicle of England, 11819.
Elton, Studies, i. 217; Wriothesley, Chronicle of England, 11819, dates Westons death
and the dissolution to 7 May, while Hall, Chronicle, 838, and R. Holinshed, The First Volume of
the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, 2 vols. (London, 1577), ii. 1578, have
William Westons death following the dissolution on the Assencion daie, being the fth daie of
Maie. In fact the Ascension fell on 6 May in 1540.
Statutes, iii. 77981. Hospitaller pensioners are listed in Appendix VIII below.
224 The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940

the very day of the dissolution of pure grief.363 He was accorded an

appropriately dignied funeral and the clear value of his remaining goods
at St Johns were found to comprise nearly 600 in cash as well as plate,
church ornaments, and other goods.364 It was perhaps as well that he did not
live to see the priory used as a storehouse, its church partially demolished
and its remarkable bell tower blown up for building stone.365
The process of dissolution took some time. The orders preceptors were
formally permitted to retain possession until Michaelmas, and in practice
might remain for another month or two, although any rents they might
collect during this additional period were reserved to the crown.366 It was
not until late December that they were granted their pensions.367 In the
meantime, surveys of their property were carried out and plate and other
valuables carried away. Doubtless to encourage cooperation, the preceptor
was allowed a sixth of the prots of these.368 Even after their removal from
their former houses there was some continuityseveral knights saw shared
service to the crown in the 1540s, others lived on portions of their former
estates, and four rejoined the order in 1557. But, save among those brethren
who remained behind in Malta, the bonds of conventual life, cooperation,
and competition which had united them before 1540 ceased to exist there-
It is difcult to believe that the Hospital could have survived long in an
England and Wales where all other religious orders had been swept away.
Proposals had been advanced for the conscation of its property in 1527,
1529, 1534, and 1537, and even if there was some propaganda value in
supporting its activities, the orders allegiance to the pope rendered it vul-
nerable to accusations of disloyalty, and its wealth made conscation an
attractive prospect.370 The 1534 scheme to disendow the Church proposed
that the king devote the Hospitals revenues to war against the Turk,371
suggesting that the crown no longer felt that the orders convent could be
trusted to expend its revenues on appropriate objectives, and perhaps even
that it feared Hospitaller involvement in imperial military action against
England. Yet after these proposals were dropped, the government proceeded
much more circumspectly towards the religious orders, and particularly with

Wriothesley, Chronicle of England, 119.
LPFD, xv, no. 646.
Stow, Survey, ii. 85.
Crossley, Newland, 10, 21; id., The Preceptories of the Knights Hospitallers, YASRS
94, Miscellanea, 4 (Leeds, 1937), 73.
LPFD, xvi, no. 379 (57).
VCH, Norfolk, ii. 425.
See Chapter 9, passim.
LPFD, iv, no. 3036; Youings, Dissolution, 146; LPFD, xii, I, no. 264; Hoyle, Origins,
In the light of the emergency in Ireland this article was altered so that these monies would
be directed against Irish rebels instead. Hoyle, Origins, 292.
The Hospital and the English Crown, 150940 225

regard to the Hospital, coming up in 1537 with regulations which would

allow it to continue its operations. The accusation at the dissolution that the
orders brethren had failed to hazard their lives and goods against the
indel,372 while demonstrably untrue, shows an awareness even at this
stage that dissolving the order left the government open to criticism. Even
then, the fact that the Hospitals properties were not absorbed into the Court
of Augmentations suggests that Henry may have been prepared either to re-
erect it at a later date, or to use the endowment for some other, perhaps
military, purpose. Had the petulance, misrepresentation, and scaremonger-
ing of West not made the orders divided allegiances so starkly apparent, the
king might well have decided that it was useful enough to tolerate for a few
years longer, perhaps until the renewal of war with France necessitated
massively increased government expenditure in the mid-1540s.373
Two issues dominated the relationship between the order of St John and
the crown during William Westons priorate: the Hospitals continued search
for a home after the fall of Rhodes, and the royal breach with Rome. The
second made by far the most signicant contribution to the orders dissol-
ution, although Clement West probably hastened its end. Nevertheless, the
problems which Henrys squabble with the Holy See had forced into the
opennamely the orders allegiance to a foreign power, its submission of
monies overseas, and the long and frequent absences of its brethren in an
environment where they could not be effectively supervisedhad always
been inherent to relations between the hospital and the crown. Successive
monarchs had never let the English Hospitallers forget whose subjects they
were, instructing them not to agree to higher impositions of responsions,
directing how these should be spent, punishing brethren who imported papal
bulls into the country and refusing them permission to proceed to headquar-
ters. The order had been tolerated because its activities were seen as meri-
torious and because the crown had genuinely believed in the unity of
Christendom, but it had never been entirely trusted. To a suspicious, belea-
guered, and cupiditous monarch like Henry VIII, it was a luxury he could
not afford.
Statutes, iii. 779; CSPV, v, no. 228.
The link between the timing of Henrician dissolutions and royal nancial needs is noticed
in Youings, Dissolution, 78; Gunn, Early Tudor Government, 122.

The Hospitallers in Ireland and

Scotland, 14601564

7.1 The Priory of Ireland

Many commentators have seen the history of the Hospital of St John in

Ireland as that of a fundamentally alien military institution implanted to
defend and expand the Anglo-French colony there.1 There is some evidence
to support this view. The Hospital may have received anticipatory grants of
land in Ireland even before 1169 and its rst master there, Hugh de Clahull,
was probably the brother of Strongbows marshal.2 What records of dona-
tion there are also suggest that most of the orders properties in Ireland were
granted it by the settlers.3 Nevertheless, the Hospital was still seen essen-
tially in the context of its charitable and military work in the Holy Land in
this period, so the foundation of its houses in Ireland should be explained as
a manifestation of the enthusiasm of the colonists for the defence of the
Latin East rather than as a consequence of any military or colonial role it
might have been expected to play in the lordship.4 Certainly, there is every
sign that, until at least the fourteenth century, the priory of Ireland was fairly
fully integrated into the orders wider network. It was expected to contribute
relatively healthy responsions of 300 marks or so to headquarters and both
comparison with the Templars and fourteenth-century evidence suggest that
a number of Hospitallers based or born in Ireland performed conventual
service in the east.5 Legacies for the Holy Land were left in the care of the
Irish Hospitallers for some years after the fall of Acre and fourteenth-century
donations to the order were explicitly linked to its defence of the faith.6

See e.g. Falkiner, Hospital, 2967, 299300; RK, pp. viiix; A. Gwynn and R. N. Had-
cock, Medieval Religious Houses: Ireland (London, 1970), 3323; J. Watt, The Church in
Medieval Ireland, 2nd edn. (Dublin, 1998), 49.
Falkiner, Hospital, 283; E. St J. Brooks, Knights Fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and
Kilkenny (13th15th Century) (Dublin, 1950), 567.
Donors are listed in Gwynn and Hadcock, Ireland, 3349.
H. Nicholson, The Knights Hospitaller on the Frontiers of the British Isles, MMR, 4757,
esp. 556.
CPL, ii. 164; Tipton, Montpellier, 304; Concilia, ed. Wilkins, ii. 373, 3767, 379;
CCR13469, 554.
RK, 13; Registrum Octaviani, ed. Sughi, no. 585.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 227

There were probably family ties between Irish crusaders and Hospitallers as
well.7 In the fteenth and sixteenth centuries the orders wider role con-
tinued to be publicized in Ireland. The indulgences granted the Hospital in
140914, 14545, and 147981 were collected in the island, and in 1467
large numbers from Munster, Leinster, and Connacht came to the preceptory
of Any to benet from a plenary indulgence which had been proclaimed
there, although the Munster and Connacht horsemen failed to enter into the
spirit of the occasion and exchanged blows after a sermon had been
preached, with fatal results.8 The confraria, too, was evidently collected
throughout Ireland, an early sixteenth-century letter signed by its receiver-
or collector-general surviving among the Dowdall deeds.9
The priory of Ireland was also associated with Hospitaller work. There
was probably an almshouse and hospital at Kilmainham, the prioral head-
quarters near Dublin, until 1312, and place-name evidence suggests that
other sites, such as Killure (Lepers Church), were concerned with the care
of the sick.10 Although some such establishments had ceased to function well
before the dissolution, others were probably still active. In 1319 the earl of
Kildare, with the blessing of the archbishop of Dublin, granted the church of
Rathmore to the Hospital for the sustenance of pilgrims and the necessities
of the poor. This grant was probably linked to the establishment of a
xenodochium at nearby Kilteel, which was still well known in the 1530s,
when the archbishop of Dublin however commented that the orders Irish
branch might more appropriately have St John the Evangelist as a patron
than the Baptist.11 Care was also taken to maintain hospitality. The order
possessed a network of frank-houses in the towns, and while some of these
were established as places where travelling brethren could stay, and were
reserved to them, substantial facilities for travellers and pilgrims appear to
have been maintained at Kilmainham, Kilteel, Cork, and perhaps else-
where.12 In the fourteenth century the orders record in upholding its
other chief responsibilitythe performance of divine servicewas also
relatively healthy. A college of priests was maintained at Kilmainham,13
Cf. A Calendar of the Liber Niger and Liber Albus of Christ Church, Dublin, ed.
H. J. Lawlor, PRIA 27 (19079), C, 193, at 312, and CCR13469, 554.
Calender of the Register of Fleming, ed. Lawlor, no. 133; CPL, x. 2613, xiii. 25960;
CPR147585, 194; A Fragment of Irish Annals, ed. B. O Cuiv, Celtica, 14 (1981), 83104,
at 93/97 (item 17).
Dowdall Deeds, ed. C. McNeill and A. J. Otway-Ruthven (Dublin, 1960), no. 516. For its
collection in the fourteenth century, see RK, 36, 161.
The Repertorium Viride of John Allen, Archbishop of Dublin, 1533, ed. N. B. White,
Analecta Hibernica, 10 (1941), 173222, at 1845; P. N. N. Synnott, Knights Hospitallers in
Ireland 11741558 (privately printed, n.d.), 30.
Repertorium Viride, ed. White, 2001; Calendar of Archbishop Alens Register,
c.11721534, ed. C. McNeil (Dublin, 1950), 167.
Gwynn and Hadcock, Ireland, 33342; Extents, 87; CICRE, 112.
This was the case by 1413 at the latest. Calender of the Register of Fleming, ed. Lawlor,
nos. 2267. In 1525 an organist was appointed to play in the choir of the church at Kilmainham.
Extents, 84.
228 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland

the conventual church there possessing its own endowment,14 and chaplains
were appointed to preceptories and impropriated churches.15 Under Roger
Outlaw, prior between 1316 and 1341, the Hospital still had enough of a
reputation for competence in this eld to be granted churches on condition
that it maintained chantries therein.16
By the early thirteenth century the Hospitals holdings were sufciently
extensive to be erected into a prioral province and a hundred years later,
after the acquisition of a large proportion of the Templars estates, there
were at least seventeen functioning preceptories.17 All were then situated in
lands subject to English lordship and English law. The surviving register of
Irish provincial chapters, which contains deeds dating from 1321 to 1349,
shows that chapters were held regularly, that they were attended by most
preceptors, and that care was taken to ensure that properties were kept in
good condition and divine service maintained. Preceptors were sometimes
appointed in provincial chapter to the custody of two or three houses
together, but there seems as yet to have been no decision to unite any of
these permanently. What evidence there is for the payment of responsions
indicates that some preceptories were expected to contribute fairly healthy
In the rst half of the fourteenth century, then, the priory of Ireland was
probably still a productive branch of the Hospitals international network,
managing to full both its military and charitable responsibilities. Never-
theless, it could hardly cut itself off from the society in which it operated. Its
headquarters occupied a strategic site on the approaches to Dublin and the
vast majority of its estates were in areas of the country controlled by the
English born in Ireland. So, like other institutions based in the lordship, it
was expected to play its part in defence and administration. Indeed, Irish-
born Hospitallers were generally more prominent in a local political and
administrative context than their English or Scots counterparts. The prior of
Ireland was a major gure in the lordship. Like the prior of England he
frequently served as a royal councillor and was a lord of parliament, which
was sometimes held at Kilmainham.19 In addition he was also very likely to
hold a major ofce of state. As in England, the crown initially valued the

In the parliament of 1478 it was asked that four churches and the ferry of the city of
Waterford, traditionally reserved for the upkeep of the prior, sub-prior and chaplains of the
church and convent of Kilmainham, should be resumed into their hands. SRPI, 12/1321/22
Edward IV, 626/7.
RK, passim.
Calendar of Ormond Deeds, ed. E. Curtis, 6 vols. (Dublin, 193243), i: 11721350, 183
9; CPR13304, 319.
RK, pp. iiiiv.
RK, 51, 97, 109, 1278.
Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth,
Miscellaneous, ed. J. S. Brewer and W. Bullen (London, 1871), 140, 152, 157; T. W. Moody, F. X.
Martin, and F. J. Byrne (eds.), A New History of Ireland, ix: Maps, Genealogies and Lists
(Oxford, 1984), 601.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 229

Irish Hospitallers for their nancial expertise, and the rst Hospitaller to
hold a major ofce of state therethe Englishman Stephen de Fulbourn
served initially as treasurer.20 Thereafter, however, Hospitallers in Ireland
more usually served as chancellor, chief governor, or lieutenant or deputy
chief governor. Prior James Keating (146194) boasted in 1463 that several
of his predecessors as prior had borne the state of the king and government
of this . . . land, to the great ease, honour and prot of all liege people of
our. . . Sovereign lord and he was substantially right: between the 1270s and
1420s seven priors had served as chancellor and nine as deputy lieutenant or
justiciar.21 Priors thus appear to have been considered trustworthy stand-ins
who might serve as deputy justiciar on a temporary basis rather than natural
choices for the ofce, but several served relatively long terms as chancellor,
often more than once. The crown, in fact, appears to have realized that the
Hospitallers made ideal soldier-administrators of a type always needed in
Ireland. Here they perhaps scored over other prelates who, although quite
often expected to lead bodies of men into battle or defend fortresses, could
not bear arms themselves. Both priors and preceptors of the Hospital were
able to perform all of these functions, and did so.22 At other times, brethren
might be employed to treat with Irish lords, or as translators in parleys with
Even if Hospitaller houses had not been founded primarily with the
military and administrative contribution they might make in mind, by the
1270s the Hospital had assumed major and practically continuous respon-
sibilities in these areas. This was not merely because of the suitability of its
personnel for such service but also because the Anglo-Irish colony was faced
by growing external threats and internal difculties. Until quite recently
these have been viewed as driven by a Gaelic Revival or Resurgence having
both cultural and political components.24 From this standpoint late medi-
eval Irish history is chiey characterized by a bitter struggle for supremacy
between two nations, the native Irish and the English born in Ireland, in
which the former gradually gained the upper hand. In the course of this
conict the native Irish were gradually able to drive out or Gaelicize the
colonists in Connacht, in all but the south-eastern corner of Ulster and in
much of Munster. In other areas septs subdued in the early days of the
conquest resumed open struggle, so that formerly secure areas of the

Nicholson, Knights Hospitaller, 1089.
SRPI, 112 Edward IV, 70/1; Moody, Martin, and Byrne (eds.), Maps, 4716, 5013,
5056; HBC, 1656.
22 See below, 2345.
Parliaments and Councils of Medieval Ireland, ed. H. G. Richardson and G. O. Sayles,
vol. i (Dublin, 1947), 101; Calendar of Carew Manuscripts, Miscellaneous, ed. Brewer and
Bullen, 378, 380.
The debate is summarized in A. Cosgrove (ed.), A New History of Ireland, ii: Medieval
Ireland 11691534 (Oxford, 1993), 3025.
230 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland

lordship, lands of peace, became marcher lands subject to native Irish raids
and extortion, and others active frontiers, lands of war.25
These developments were facilitated by royal exactions and negligence,26
by the Bruce invasion of 131518,27 by the division of the great marcher
lordships between absentee heirs,28 and by the mortality, ight, or Gaelici-
zation of large numbers of colonists.29 Confronted by these difculties, the
English born in Ireland attempted to force landholders and tenants to reside
on or defend their estates,30 to ban the adoption of Irish dress, language, and
law by the colonists, and to exclude the native Irish from lay or ecclesiastical
ofce.31 In formulating these policies, they supposedly developed a clear
sense of their own identity as a middle nation, opposed not merely to
Gaelicization but also to interference by English-born ofcials, and to
breaches of their legislative and other privileges.32 Such behaviour was not
conned to the Irish estates. The Irish branches of religious orders owing
allegiance to English provincial heads, such as the Dominican and Austin
friars, also demonstrated a growing spirit of independence, resisting visit-
ations from and neglecting to pay taxes to their superiors in England and
appealing to their masters-general over the heads of their English provin-
cials.33 In general, however, the effects of the sundering of the Irish between
two nations were held to have been disastrous for the Church, leading to its
division into segments inter Hibernicos and inter Anglicos, to the seizure of
ecclesiastical estates and the Churchs consequent impoverishment, and to a
low level of clerical education and morals.34 The older established religious
orders, especially the Augustinian canons and Cistercians, were depicted as
moribund and riven by interracial strife and their houses as increasingly
subject to takeover by both Irish and Anglo-Irish magnate and gentle fam-

Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 241, 2568, 2618, 3012, 307, 3478, 369,
4489, 452, 457, 4612, 5337, 5424, 5714, 584, 6323, 647, 658, 668, 674.
Ibid. 241, 273, 2757, 374, 3801, 472, 485, 5301, 5379, 541, 5456, 5601; S. Duffy,
Ireland in the Middle Ages (Basingstoke, 1997), 12533.
Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 28296, 4489, 462.
Ibid. 247, 250, 264, 3545, 385, 453, 4623.
Ibid. 26873, 370, 3878, 44750, 458, 4612, 553.
Ibid. 269, 2712, 361, 3789, 383, 385, 391, 44950, 515, 5267, 52930, 553,
576, 608, 555.
31 Ibid. 242, 2723, 377, 38790, 396, 5515, 5856, 599600.
Discussion ibid. 3045, 352, 3713, 5646. Rather than a middle nation, a term coined
by their enemies, Robin Frame sees the English born in Ireland as a subset of the English gens
with a clear sense both of their Englishness and of their distinctness from the English of England.
R. Frame, Les Engleys Nees en Irlande: The English Political Identity in Medieval Ireland,
TRHS, 6th ser., 3 (1993), 83103, esp. 97103.
F. X. Martin, The Irish Augustinian Reform Movement in the Fifteenth Century, in J. A.
Watt, J. B. Morrall, and F. X. Martin (eds.), Medieval Studies Presented to Aubrey Gwynn,
S.J. (Dublin, 1961), 23064; B. OSullivan, The Dominicans in Medieval Dublin, in H. Clarke
(ed.), Medieval Dublin, 2 vols. (1990), ii. 8399, at 914; Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval
Ireland, 589.
J. Watt, The Church and the Two Nations in Medieval Ireland (Cambridge, 1970), esp.
chs. 910.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 231

ilies. Eventually they acquired the racial and cultural colouring of the areas
in which they lay, local pressure and papal provisions producing the ap-
pointment of ever more secular individuals as commendatory abbots and
priors. The last generation of these before the dissolution were little better
than laymen, local lords or men of war.35 The sole bright point was
provided by the vigour of the mendicants and particularly by the foundation
of new houses of friars, many of strict observance, in Gaelic-speaking
Over the past quarter of a century interpretations centred on the struggle
of the two nations have been partially replaced by those emphasizing
the fragmentation and localization of society in Ireland. Scholars have
argued that cultural accommodation could be a two-way process,37
that the struggle for power in the localities was carried on without
much regard for ethnicity,38 and that political changes in late medieval
Ireland should be seen in the context of wider European developments.
Plague, warfare, and depopulation were, after all, hardly problems exclusive
to Ireland and if landlords were faced with a lack of tenants and falling
agricultural protability they might compensate for these difculties in
various ways. Thus, in return for propping up the ailing government,
which they effectively took over, the magnates and greater gentry were
able to usurp the royal prerogatives of lordship and justice and to
conduct private war and quarter soldiers on and levy comestibles from the
populace.39 The tempting parallel here with some French nobles exploit-
ation of conict and monarchical weakness during the Hundred Years War
as a cover to return to forms of pure lordship should perhaps not be
pursued too far: the proliferation of tower houses in late medieval Ireland
has recently been interpreted as usually betokening not the insecurity of
the populace but the growing self-condence of servile tenants turned free-
men, and as owing as much to questions of display as of security.40 While

Watt, Church in Medieval Ireland, 1878, 1923; Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 437,
584, 5878. For the use of papal provisions in Ireland see R. D. Edwards, The Kings of
England and Papal Provisions in Fifteenth-Century Ireland, in Watt et al. (eds.), Medieval
Studies, 26580.
Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 5889; Watt, Church in Medieval Ireland, 193201;
Martin, Irish Augustinian Reform, passim.
Discussion and examples in Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 3089, 31718, 3289,
354, 383, 3934, 4203, 5525, 625, 6346; id., Hiberniores ipsis Hibernis, in A. Cosgrove
and D. McCartney (eds.), Studies in Irish History Presented to R. Dudley Edwards (Dublin,
1979), 114. Such accommodations did not extend to public life within the lordship, where one
was English or nothing. Frame, Les Engleys, 98.
Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 316, 3245, 360, 374, 37980, 5603, 56972, 5778,
5813, 6212, 62930, 6323.
Ibid. 270, 272, 3567, 379, 3823, 40810, 426, 535, 537, 5412, 5479, 560, 580,
6058, 641, 649, 6701.
40 N. Wright, Knights and Peasants: The Hundred Years War in the French Countryside

(Woodbridge, 1998); T. McNeill, Castles in Ireland: Feudal Power in a Gaelic World (London,
1997), 206, 2089, 21820.
232 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland

acknowledging the decline in agriculture and the conversion of marginal

areas into pasture, revisionists have also pointed out that the Anglo-Irish
continued to hold nearly all the signicant ports and could thus partially
control exports from the hinterland.41 Citing the construction of tower
houses, friaries, and parish churches after a comparative lack of such activity
in the fourteenth, they have posited a period of economic recovery in the
fteenth century.42
It is nevertheless apparent that the late medieval Irish Church was faced
with considerable challenges. Recently Henry Jefferies has argued that the
secular clergy of the province of Armagh coped with these fairly well.43
Despite the loss of their primatial seat to the ONeills, the archbishops
retained their moral authority and were able to instruct and discipline
their clergy effectively and to supervise areas inter Hibernicos in conjunction
with local ofcials. But no similar attempts have yet been made to counter
the prevailing picture of decline among the traditional religious orders, so
that here the older orthodoxy remains largely unchallenged. Even so, it is
clear that the religious did not meekly accept their fate. Houses that suffered
from Irish raids might reinvest in property in more sheltered areas, while
others fortied their church towers and sat tight. Some, particularly those
lucky enough to nd powerful patrons or sited in sheltered locales, were able
to rebuild their monastery churches substantially.44 Even in their decay, the
Cistercians made some efforts to reform.45
The Hospitallers were in some ways better placed than the monastic
orders to cope with new challenges. As active religious, they were not
bound by a vow of stability, and were exible when it came to abandoning
or amalgamating houses which proved unviable. Priors of Ireland were also
able to use their position in government to secure favourable leases and
grants from the crown. The most important of these were successive leases of
the royal manors of Leixlip and Chapel Izod, the latter adjoining the prioral
estate at Kilmainham, from the mid-thirteenth century onwards.46 Other
grants might be linked to the specic circumstances in which the order found
itself. Thus, in compensation for damage to the orders lands in Ulster,
Meath, and County Dublin during the Bruce invasion, Roger Outlaw was
able to secure grants of land and forfeited estates, appointment as an execu-
tor of the heir of the earl of Ulster, and licence to go looking for tenants to

Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 311, 421, 472, 480, 483, 490, 501, 516.
Ibid. 490, 597.
H. A. Jefferies, Priests and Prelates of Armagh in the Age of Reformations, 15181558
(Dublin, 1997).
Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 437, 597, 7623.
Watt, Church in Medieval Ireland, 1878.
CCR130713, 300; CFR130719, 31; M. Archdall, Monasticon hibernicum, 2nd edn., ed.
P. F. Moran, 2 vols. (Dublin, 18736), ii. 99; CPR13304, 314; CFR133747, 85; CCR13413,
30, 41516, 41617; CFR135668, 270, 293; CCR13648, 3278; CPR13969, 19;
CPR13969, 293, 482, 509; CPR14015, 122.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 233

replace those who had ed.47 At various times, he was also granted or
permitted to obtain a number of rights and properties, particularly churches,
and had the sums he owed to the crown reduced.48 Most of his acquisitions
were in relatively sheltered locations, and so went some way towards com-
pensating the order for its losses in Ulster and Connacht. None of Outlaws
successors were quite so successful in exploiting their position in this way,
but several were able to extract some compensation for their service to the
crown in the form of life grants, mortmain licences, leases, and wardships.49
On occasion even individual preceptors might be granted the custody of
castles or episcopal temporalities in royal gift.50
Nor was the order militarily defenceless. In the rst half of the fourteenth
century it already possessed what were described as castles at its houses at
Kilmainham and Kilteel, and was planning the fortication of other sites.51
In 1360 its brethren in Ireland were described collectively as holding a good
position for the repulse of the kings Irish enemies.52 Sixteenth-century
documents and surviving remains provide evidence that by the time of the
dissolution many commanderies were fortied. Most fortied structures
appear to have been ve-storey tower-houses typical of late medieval Ire-
land, although some might have been built by tenants rather than the order
itself.53 Nevertheless, with one or two exceptions, those listed in 1540 were
erected on estates that were still in the orders grasp and provide testimony of
its determination to defend itself. The most substantial was Kilmainham
itself, with its walls, four towers, fortied gatehouse, and fortied bridge
over the Liffey.54 A fteenth-century order by the great council that the
bridge should be fortied demonstrates that the prioral complex was
regarded as holding a key position in the defence of Dublin.55 The substan-
tial tower with attached gatehouse which survives at Kilteel, overlooking the
Kildare plain, is also rather more than a mere gentlemans tower-house. The
elds surrounding it are littered with the remains of substantial stone build-
ings probably hospitaller rather than military in function, but the late
fteenth-century Pale ditch incorporated the preceptorial enceinte and the
1543 patent granting the property to the Alens stressed the necessity of
the site for resistance to the OTooles. Signicantly, the tower-house
resisted destruction by Rory OMore in the 1570s, although the church

Nicholson, Frontiers, 53; CPR131721, 197; RPCCH, 21b, 37b; CCR13337, 63.
CPR131721, 197; CPR13214, 246; CPR132730, 171, 175; CPR13304, 301, 314,
319; CCR13337, 610; CPR133840, 83, 88, 90.
RPCCH, 73, 73b; Calendar of Ormond Deeds, ed. Curtis, iii. 390; CPR144752, 29, 38.
CPR13859, 438; RPCCH, 254.
RK, 245, 634.
CCR13604, 3940; Nicholson, Frontiers, 534.
P. Harbison, Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland, 3rd edn. (Dublin,
1992), 333.
Extents, 81.
SRPI, Henry VI, 402/3404/5; Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 563.
234 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland

was probably destroyed.56 Less impressive fortications are known to have

existed at nine or more other sites, and ne fteenth-century tower-houses
survive at Kilclogan and Ballyhack.57 Kilclogan, like Kilteel, was described
as an important defensive position in the 1540s.58
Nevertheless, although other orders tended to fortify their church towers
rather than construct purpose-built tower-houses, incastellation was a com-
mon response of religious houses to the disorders of the fourteenth and
fteenth centuries.59 Where the Hospitals reaction to the military threat
posed by Irish enemies and English rebels really differed from those of the
Cistercians and the Augustinian canons was in the personal engagement of
its members in military action. From the 1270s onwards, priors of Kilmain-
ham commanded armies or contingents in them or defended fortresses on
behalf of the crown or chief governor.60 One prior, Thomas Bacach Butler,
even led a body of soldiers from both nations to serve Henry V during the
siege of Rouen.61 Furthermore, in the fourteenth and early fteenth centur-
ies the masters of many of the orders local houses served on the commission
of the peace, at least two being killed in battle with Irish enemies.62
Preceptors might be granted commands over castles, too. In 1388 Thomas
Mercamston, probably already preceptor of nearby Castleboy, was
appointed castellan of Carrickfergus, which had recently been attacked by
Niall O Neill.63 These, however, were public responsibilities undertaken on
behalf of the lordship or comitatus. There is less direct evidence for the order
taking military action on its own account, but there are indications that it
was both willing and able to do so. As early as 1262 we nd brother Elias of
Killerig donning mail and leading an armed multitude to resist the arch-
bishop of Dublins ofcers.64 On a more substantial scale, Thomas Butler

C. Manning, Excavations at Kilteel Church, County Kildare, JCKAS 16 (19812),
173229, at 177, 213, 219; Falkiner, Hospital, 310; H. Hendrick-Aylmer, Rathmore,
JCKAS 6 (1902), 37281, at 377.
Extents, 89 (Clontarf), 96 (Tully), 97 (Killerig), 102 (Homisland, Wexford), 108 (Temple-
ton and Moreton, Louth), 111 (Kilmainhamwood); RK, 161 (Crook), 166 (Kilmainhambeg);
CICRE, 93 (Glanunder alias Ballymany, Dublin); Gwynn and Hadcock, Ireland, 336 (County
Limerick, in 1604, citing RK). Some of these structures (Glanunder, Moreton, Templeton) were
already in ruins by 1540.
Extents, 100.
Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 763.
CDI, iii, 128592, 265; RPCCH, 35, 69, 73; Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts,
Miscellaneous, 328; Marlborough in Ancient Irish Histories, ed. J. Ware, rev. edn., 2 vols.
(Dublin, 1809), ii. 21; W. Harris, The City and Antiquities of Dublin (Dublin, 1766), 2767;
CCR13413, 438.
See Cosgrove (ed.), Medieval Ireland, 5278, 570, and authorities cited there; Issues of the
Exchequer, ed. Devon, 356.
R. Frame, Commissions of the Peace in Ireland, 13021461, Analecta Hibernica, 35
(1992), 144, at 8, 1213, 1620, 25, 313; Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, Miscellaneous,
157, 471.
CPR13859, 438; Nicholson, Frontiers, 54; T. McNeill, Anglo-Norman Ulster: The
History and Archaeology of an Irish Barony, 11771400 (Edinburgh, 1980), 119.
Calendar of Archbishop Alens Register, ed. McNeil, 93/95.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 235

was using bases in Kilkenny and Tipperary to wage private war against
Walter Burke in 1417 and his successor-but-four James Keating summoned
an army to chastise the archbishop of Armagh for supporting a rival to the
priorate in the mid-1480s.65 Members of the order were clearly more than
ready to take up arms in pursuit of private quarrels within the lordship and it
can probably be assumed that they maintained some kind of armed force at
their houses. This is certainly suggested by the fact that in 1297 the master of
the Templars of Kilcork was reproved for his failure to keep armed horsemen
at his preceptory and that in 1356 the government ordered that Kilteel be
adequately guarded.66 The dichotomy between the orders defence of its
own property and that of the wider Anglo-Irish community is in any case
probably a false one. Although there are instances which suggest the con-
trary, it is unlikely that the order was often targeted specically by raiders,
and the participation of its brethren in communal defence must have served
both their own interests and those of the locality they were acting to defend.
Equally often, however, brethren appear to have used force in pursuit of
their own family and personal interests.
Despite the orders vigorous protection of its possessions, its estates and
interests suffered signicant damage during the fourteenth and fteenth
centuries. The preceptory of Castleboy on the Ards peninsula, for example,
was the orders sole conventual house in the whole of Ulster and by the mid-
fteenth century so many of its estates had been lost to the native Irish that it
became unviable as a residence for brethren and was abandoned to lay
farmers. At the dissolution it was reported that it lay in the hands of the
Magennises and ONeills, where the kings writ did not run, and could not
be extended. The Magennises paid a nominal rent of 66s. 8d. for the
property.67 The Hospitals estates in the west, which appear to have included
fairly substantial properties, suffered a similar fate, and barely feature even
in the chapter acts of 132149. In 1529 a leading Galway merchant was
given power of attorney to lease out all of the orders holdings in Connacht,
which amounted to two churches and a scattering of other properties, but
none of these was mentioned in the extents made in 15401, although their
omission may indicate deliberate concealment on the part of the order or its
lessee rather than their occupation by lay usurpers.68 Many of the estates
the order did retain, moreover, suffered from a considerable decline in

A. J. Otway-Ruthven, A History of Medieval Ireland, 2nd edn. (New York, 1980), 353;
Registrum Octaviani, ed. Sughi, no. 520.
Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls, 12951303 (Dublin, 1905), 175; Hendrick-Aylmer,
Rathmore, 373.
Extents, 110.
Report on Documents relating to the Wardenship of Galway, ed. E. MacLysaght, Ana-
lecta Hibernica, 14 (1944), 139. In November 1560 the orders holdings in Connacht were
reveled and brought to light by a former prioral servant, Walter Hope, who was granted them
as a reward. Acts of the Privy Council in Ireland, 15561571, ed. J. T. Gilbert, Historical
Manuscripts Commission, Fifteenth Report, Appendix, Part III (London, 1897), 113.
236 The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland

protability, often as a result of warfare. In 1446, for example, Thomas

Talbot successfully petitioned that his prioral camera of Kilmainhambeg and
a number of other estates should be exempted from non-parliamentary
taxation because they had been destroyed and wasted by Irish enemies,69
while in 1470 the prior and convent of St Wulstan, who leased estates in
County Kildare from the order and the manor of Salt from the crown, sought
relief of the due rent, complaining that these possessions were destroyed by
Irish enemies and English rebels. The prior of St John was, however, able to
have the payments due from his leases of royal manors in County Dublin
reduced to make good the loss.70 Faced with agricultural depression, declin-
ing membership, and Irish raids the order increasingly resorted to leasing its
estates, often for notably low rents. Thus the preceptory of Tully, valued at
16 in 1540, was let to the dean of Kildare for 10 marks shortly before
1472.71 Although the position of the English born in Ireland began to
improve in the later fteenth century, at the dissolution a large proportion
of Hospitaller properties were still let out for sums much lower than their
potential value and many buildings were described as ruined and estates as
The challenge was not merely military. In the fteenth century, delation at
the curia became a popular strategy by which religious houses and individual
churches could be taken over and held as family sinecures, primarily by the
native Irish.73 The order was certainly not immune to this process. In 1430
the preceptor of Tully was accused of detaining the rectory of Rosfyndglaisse
without canonical title, and was ordered to be removed if this was true,
while in 1447 the orders appointee as vicar of Any was likewise challenged
by an native Irish delator.74 In the likely event that they could convince the
Curia and local judges delegate that they would make apt members of the
order, native Irishmen might also be able to force their way into its ranks and
gain control of its preceptories in some areas. While the Hospital appears to
have enforced the legislation forbidding the native Irish entry into religious
houses throughout the fourteenth century during the course of the fteenth
the important preceptories of Clonoulty (Co. Tipperary) and Mourne (Co.
Cork) were taken over by the ODwyers and the MacCarthys of Muskerry
respectively. Thomas O Duibhidhir (ODwyer), preceptor of Clonoulty in the
1440s, at least attended provincial chapters, but the MacCarthy occupation

SRPI, Henry VI, 90/192/3.
SRPI, 112 Edward IV, 678/9680/1.
SRPI, 12/1321/22 Edward IV, 78/980/1.
Extents, passim.
The English born in Ireland might employ their existing local inuence to achieve similar, if
less permanent, dominance. For example, the Vales or Walls held the preceptory of Killerig in
1327 and 1406; the Northamptons Ballyhack in 135565 and 1382, and the Powers Kilbarry in
1449 and 1516. Other families held both Ballyhack and Killerrig in intervening periods. RK, 14;
Frame, Commissions of the Peace, 8, 33; AOM362, fos. 121v122r; 404, fos. 147v148r.
CPL, viii. 2001; x. 344.
The Hospitallers in Ireland and Scotland 237

of Mourne in the 1490s, although legitimized by appeals to Rome, was

conducted in the teeth of the orders opposition.75 Both were rich beneces:
Clonoulty had been the richest Templar house in Ireland, with an income of
more than 80 from lands and churches in 1308, and in the 1490s Mournes
value was estimated at between 80 and 140 marks.76
The effects of military action and lay occupation were exacerbated by the
prolonged agricultural depression common to much of western Europe in
the later Middle Ages. Even in the absence of the Gaelic challenge the
Hospital, like other major landowners, might have found it difcult to
cope with economic and social upheaval. Its potential adaptability, more-
over, was undermined both by the nature and interests of its own brethren
and by the involvem