Posts Tagged ‘hospital of St John’

William Bagot and the Hospital of St John, Oxford

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

On 9 May 1261, one week after the Exchequer’s Easter term had begun, the fine rolls noted an unusual arrangement for a sheriff’s debt to be paid by a hospital. William Bagot, the sheriff of Warwickshire, was recorded to have attended the Adventus at the beginning of term, and brought £100 for the farm of the county and the debts for which he had been summoned. In fact, he does not seem to have paid any cash into the Treasury until the following week. He paid £22 on Friday 13 May, then £11 for the remainder of his farm and £82 profit on 17 May. Leaving aside the profit, he had paid only £33 towards the farm and debts. The difference was made up by the arrangement set out in the fine roll on 9 May: brother Henry, the master of the hospital of St John in Oxford, had recently bought some land from Bagot for 100 marks (£67); rather than paying the money to the sheriff, the master would pay it into the Exchequer, to set against the sheriff’s debt there. The deal, also recorded in the Exchequer’s memoranda rolls, was for the master to pay 50 marks on 18 May, and the rest at the end of September.

The hospital was a wealthy insitution, with extensive land holdings (a list of its properties occupies nearly eight pages of the printed charter rolls). It was one of Henry III’s favoured institutions – he regarded himself as its founder, because he had given it the site outside the east gate of Oxford, where Magdalen College now stands. It often received royal gifts of timber, and had a wide range of liberties and privileges. Perhaps this favoured status led the master to take a rather casual attitude towards paying the debt he owed to the Exchequer. Despite agreeing to pay the 100 marks in full by the end of September 1261, the pipe roll shows that brother Henry had still paid nothing by the end of September 1262, although the 100 marks had been set against Bagot’s debts to the Exchequer.

Brother Henry did eventually pay the first instalment of 50 marks, due just nine days after the agreement was made. It is recorded in the 1265 pipe roll, which also notes that he had been pardoned the remaining 50 marks by writ of the king. And indeed the fine rolls record the pardon too, on 18 January 1266. Nearly five years after the arrangement had been made, Bagot still owed £65 from the farm for 1261, but at least his debt had been reduced by 100 marks; the hospital of St John had acquired a piece of land at half-price; and the Exchequer had indirectly paid for it, through Henry’s usual generosity.


Calendar Fine Rolls 1260-61, 404; 1265-66, 120.

Memoranda roll E 159/34 m. 14.

Pipe rolls E 372/106; E 372/109 rot. 4.

Victoria County History, Oxfordshire, II, 158-9 (online)

Calendar of Charter Rolls, I, 296-304.