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Hope, Robert Charles / The Leper in England: with some account of English lazar-houses


English Lazar Houses.




_Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Lincoln's Inn.
Member of the Royal Archĉological Institute of Great Britain._

_Editor of Barnabe Googe's "Popish Kingdome."
Author of "Glossary of Dialectal Place-Nomenclature."
"An Inventory of the Church Plate in Rutland."
"English Goldsmiths," &c., &c._

















The subject matter embraced within these covers, consists chiefly of
notes, made for a lecture delivered in Christ Church Schoolroom,
Scarborough, on Thursday, March 5th, 1891, and is published by special

No claim for originality is made. The works of the late Sir James Y.
Simpson, Professor of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh,
(Archĉological Essays, Vol. II.); Sir Risdon Bennett, M.D., LL.D.,
F.B.S., "Diseases of the Bible"; Dr. Greenhill, in "Bible Educator";
Leland's "Itinerary"; Dugdale's "Monasticon," &c., &c., have been
freely drawn upon, and to these writers, therefore, it is the desire
here to acknowledge the indebtedness which is due.

Various Notes will be found in the Appendix, which it is hoped will
prove of interest.


There is perhaps no subject of greater interest, nor one which awakens
more sympathy, than that of the Leper; it affords a most curious,
though painful topic of enquiry, particularly in the present day, when
so much has been said and written, as to the probability and
possibility of the loathsome scourge again obtaining a hold in this,
our own country.

Much confusion and ignorance exists, as to what true Leprosy really
is. I do not pretend, nor do I assume, to be in any way an authority
on the disease, nor to be at all deeply versed in the matter; my
remarks will consist chiefly in retailing to you, some of the many and
curious circumstances connected with the malady, with which I have
become acquainted in studying the various Lazar Houses and Leper
Wells, once so liberally scattered all over the country, from an
antiquary's point of view, and in examining the writings of those
competent to express an opinion, from personal and other observations.
Your kind indulgence is, therefore, asked for any shortcomings on my


It is necessary at the outset, to state clearly, that the disease
known as Leprosy in Holy Scripture, was an entirely and altogether
different disorder, to that, which, in the Middle Ages, was so
terribly prevalent, not in this country only, but over the whole
Continent of Europe.

Sir Risdon Bennett tells us the Leprosy of Scripture was a skin
disease known to the medical faculty as _Psoriasis_. The use of the
Greek and Latin word _Lepra_, to signify both kinds of Leprosy, has no
doubt contributed largely to the confusion existing as to these two
disorders. The Leprosy of the Bible was _Psoriasis_, that of the
Middle Ages _Elephantiasis Grĉcorum_.

There are six cases only, which include nine instances of Leprosy,
recorded in the Old Testament:--

Moses--Exodus, iv., 6. }
Miriam--Numbers, xii., 10. } Miraculously
Gehazi--2 Kings, v., 27. } afflicted.
Uzziah--2 Chronicles, xxvi., 19. }
Naaman--2 Kings, v., 1.
Four Lepers--2 Kings, vii., 3.

In the New Testament we have but three cases, involving twelve
persons, viz.:--

(1) Man, recorded by St. Matthew, viii, 2; St. Mark, i., 40;
St. Luke, v., 12.

(2) Ten Lepers, St. Luke, xvii., 12.

(3) Simon, St. Matthew, xxvi., 6; St. Mark, xiv., 3.

The first account or mention of the disorder in the Bible, is to be
found in Leviticus; nearly three chapters, xiii., xiv., xv., being
devoted to the examination and cleansing of the afflicted, with the
minutest detail.

In chapter xiii., we are told that "if a man has a bright spot deeper
than the skin of the flesh, the hair on which has turned white, or the
white spot has a raw in it, and the scab be spread in the skin--then
shall the priest pronounce him _unclean_." But, if he have all the
above symptoms, and "the scabs do not spread, or, if he be covered
from head to foot--as white as snow--with the disease, then shall the
priest pronounce him _clean_." It should be observed, that whereas
the "_unclean_" Leper "shall dwell alone," no such restriction was
placed upon the "clean or White Leper," who was free to go about as he
desired, and also to mingle with his fellow-men. This is clear from
the accounts given us of Gehazi conversing with the King; of Naaman
performing his ordinary duties as captain of the host of the King of
Syria; we are told he was "a great man with his master, and
honourable, because by him the Lord had given victory unto Syria; he
was also a mighty man of valour," and also, from the instance of our
Blessed Lord being entertained in the house of Simon the "Leper." On
no other ground than this assumption, can these instances be
reconciled with the Levitical Law.

In the Levitical, and in every other account of the disease, it is
significant that there is no mention, or hint, of any loss of
sensation in connection with the disorder, of any affection of the
nerves, nor of any deformity of the body; no provision is made for
those who were unable to take care of themselves, nor is there a
tittle of evidence, or the barest hint given, that the disease was
either contagious or dangerous. Only two persons in the whole of the
Bible are stated to have died from the disease, and in each of these
cases, it was specially so ordained by the Almighty, as a specific
punishment for a particular sin. Cures were not only possible, and
common, but they were the rule. Josephus speaks of Leprosy in a man as
but "a misfortune in the colour of his skin." S. Augustine said that
when Lepers were restored to health, "they were _mundati_, not
_sanati_, because Leprosy is an ailment affecting merely the colour,
not the health, or the soundness of the senses, and the limbs."

It is a most curious, and interesting problem which has yet to be
solved, why a man should be "unclean" when he was but partially
covered by the disease, and yet, when he was wholly covered with it,
he should be "clean."

That no argument in support of contagion can be drawn simply from the
sentence of expulsion from the camp, is evident from Numbers v., 2-4;
for Lepers, and non-Lepers, are equally excluded on the ground of
"uncleanness." The laws of seclusion applied as rigorously to the
uncleanness induced by _touching_ a leper, or even a dead body, as
well as in other cases, where no question of contagion could exist. It
appears more than probable that the "cleansing" was merely a
ceremonial, ordained for those attacked by the disease at a certain
stage, implying some deeper meaning, than I for one, am able to
discern. I therefore leave it to the theologian to whom it appertains,
rather than to a humble and enquiring layman as myself.

That the descriptions of the various forms of skin disease were
intended, not to denote differences in their nature or pathology, but
to enable the priests to discriminate between the "clean" and
"unclean" forms, is manifest. They were intended purely for practical

The first allusion--the only one in the Bible--we have to a Lazar, or
Leper house, occurs in 2 Kings, xv., 5, "And the Lord smote the King
so that he was a Leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a
_'several' house_."


The Leprosy of the Middle Ages known as _Elephantiasis Grĉcorum_,
_Lepra Arabum_, and _Lepra tuberculosis_, is not yet extinct. It is
very curious that whilst _Lepra Arabum_ is the same as _Elephantiasis
Grĉcorum_ or true Leprosy, the _Elephantiasis Arabum_ is a totally
distinct disease. The former is the most loathsome and revolting of
the many awful and terrible scourges, with which the Almighty, in his
wisdom, has seen fit, from time to time, to visit mankind.

It is, I believe, a singular fact, that the Jews, "the chosen people
of God," have a special immunity from the disease, being less
predisposed than other races. Dr. V. Carter says that during a period
of seventeen years, out of a very large number of cases in Bombay, he
had seen only four cases, and but one death among Jews, that is of
_Elephantiasis Grĉcorum_.

Belcher on "Our Lord's Miracles," says that in Tangiers at the present
day, the two diseases are found, the _Lepra Hebrĉorum_ prevailing
chiefly among the Jewish residents, and presenting exactly the
symptoms as described in Leviticus. On the other hand, in Syria,
_Elephantiasis Grĉcorum_ is unknown among the Jews.

It appears to have been very prevalent in this country; but when, and
how it was introduced, is not known. Some certify it was brought back
by the Crusaders, being the only thing they ever did bring back. But
it existed here long anterior to the days of the _first_ crusade. The
City of Bath is said to have originated from an old British King
afflicted with Leprosy, who being obliged, in consequence, to wander
far from the habitation of men, and being finally reduced to the
condition of a swineherd, discovered the medicinal virtues of the hot
springs of Bath, while noticing that his pigs which bathed therein
were cured of sundry diseases prevailing among them.

The following epigram on King Bladud, who was killed 844,
B.C.,--father of King Leir, or Leal, d. 799, B.C.,--was written by a
clergyman of the name of Groves, of Claverton:--

"When Bladud once espied some hogs
Lie wallowing in the steaming bogs,
Where issue forth those sulphurous springs,
Since honour'd by more potent kings,
Vex'd at the brutes alone possessing
What ought t' have been a common blessing,
He drove them, thence in mighty wrath,
And built the mighty town of Bath.
The hogs thus banished by their prince,
Have lived in Bristol ever since."

Many Lazar or Leper Houses were built in England during the early part
of the reign of William the Norman, who founded several.

The medical writers of the 13th and 14th centuries, which include the
names of Theodoric, the monk, a distinguished surgeon of Bologna; the
celebrated Lanfranc, of Milan and afterwards of Paris; Professor
Arnold Bachuone, of Barcelona, reputed in his day the greatest
physician in Spain; the famous French surgeon Guy de Chauliac;
Bernhard Gordon; and our own countrymen Gilbert, _c._ 1270; John of
Gaddesden, Professor of Medicine in Merton College, Oxford, and Court
Physician to Edward II., minutely describe the disease.

It was the custom in those affected days, when a medical man or anyone
wrote a book on medicine or a medicinal subject, to call it either a
"rose" or a "lily," as "_Rosa Angelica_," "_Lilium medecinĉ_."

The following description of the malady is from the _Lilium medecinĉ_,
by Bernhard Gordon, written about 1305 or 1309. He gives three stages
or classes of the disease, viz., the (1) occult, (2) the infallible,
and (3) the last, or terminating signs. None of these indications are
laid down in Leviticus for the guidance of the Jewish Priests.

(i.) "The occult premonitory signs of Leprosy are, a reddish colour of
the face, verging to duskiness; the expiration begins to be changed,
the voice grows hoarse, the hairs become thinned and weaker, and the
perspiration and breath incline to foetidity; the mind is
melancholic with frightful dreams and nightmare; in some cases scabs,
pustules, and eruptions break out over the whole body; disposition of
the body begins to become loathsome, but still, while the form and
figure are not corrupted, the patient is not to be adjudged for
separation; but is to be most strictly watched."

(ii.) "The infallible signs, are, enlargement of the eyebrows, with
loss of their hair; rotundity of the eyes; swelling of the nostrils
externally, and contraction of them within; voice nasal; colour of the
face glossy, verging to a darkish hue; aspect of the face terrible,
and with a fixed look; with acumination or pointing and contraction of
the pulps of the ear. And there are many other signs, as pustules and
excrescences, atrophy of the muscles, and particularly of those
between the thumb and forefinger; insensibility of the extremities;
fissures, and infections of the skin; the blood, when drawn and
washed, containing black, earthy, rough, sandy matter. The above are
those evident and manifest signs, which, when they do appear, the
patient ought to be separated from the people, or, in other words,
secluded in a Lazar House."

(iii.) "The signs of the last stage and breaking-up of the disease,
are, corrosion and falling-in of the cartilage forming the septum of
the nose; fissure and division of the feet and hands; enlargement of
the lips, and a disposition to glandular swelling; dyspnoea and
difficulty of breathing; the voice hoarse and barking; the aspect of
the face frightful, and of a dark colour; the pulse small, almost
imperceptible." Sometimes the limbs drop off, piecemeal or in their

All the writers agree in urging most earnestly that no one ought to be
adjudged a Leper, unless there manifestly appears a corruption of the
figure, or, that state indicated as _signa infallibilia_.


The period from its introduction into this country, as far as we know,
to its final or nearly final extinction, may be embraced within the
10th and 16th centuries. It was at the zenith of its height during the
11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. As early as A.D. 948 laws were enacted
with regard to Lepers in Wales by Howel Dda, the Good--the great Welsh
King, who died 948.

The enormous extent to which it prevailed during that period may be
gauged from the fact, that there were above 200 Lazar Houses in
England alone, probably providing accommodation for 4,000 at least,
and this, at a time when the whole population of England was only
between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 of persons; being something like two
in every thousand.

I have been enabled to compile the following English Lazar Houses,
which is however far from being a complete one. These Lazar Houses
were founded by the charitably disposed, and were usually under
ecclesiastical rule:--

1 Berkshire.
2 Buckinghamshire.
2 Cambridgeshire.
3 Cornwall.
1 Cumberland.
4 Derbyshire.
6 Devonshire.
3 Dorsetshire.
2 Durham.
4 Essex.
6 Gloucestershire.
2 Hampshire.
1 Herefordshire
6 Hertfordshire.
1 Huntingdonshire.
15 Kent.
1 Lancashire.
2 Lincolnshire.
4 Leicestershire.
7 Middlesex.
22 Norfolk.
5 Northamptonshire.
3 Northumberland.
3 Nottinghamshire.
4 Oxfordshire.
2 Shropshire.
6 Somersetshire.
3 Staffordshire.
10 Suffolk.
1 Surrey.
6 Sussex.
3 Warwickshire.
4 Westmoreland.
7 Wiltshire.
1 Worcester.
20 Yorkshire.

Total: 173

They were presumably under the rule of S. Austin or Augustine.

Chalmers' _Caledonia_ states 9 hospitals existed in the County of
Berwick alone.

It is said that, by a Bull of Alexander III., exemption from the
payment of tithes was granted to all the possessions of the Lazar
Houses; this, however, does not appear to have always been acted upon,
at least in this country, as at Canterbury, etc.

A Prior--usually a Leper--and a number of Priests were attached to
each house.

Where a chapel was not attached, the inmates appear to have attended
the parish church for service.

There was a special order of Knights founded very early, in Jerusalem,
united to the general order of the Knights Hospitallers, whose
especial province was to look after the sick, particularly Lepers.
They seem to have separated from the Knights Hospitallers at the end
of the 11th, or beginning of the 12th centuries. They were at first
designated Knights of S. Lazarus, or, of SS. Lazarus and Mary of
Jerusalem, from the locality of their original establishment, and from
their central preceptory being near Jerusalem. The Master or Prior of
the Superior Order was a Leper, that he might be more in sympathy with
his afflicted brethren. They were afterwards united by different
European princes, with the Military Orders of Notre Dame and Mount
Carmel, and, in 1572 with that of S. Maurice. We first hear of them in
England, in the reign of King Stephen, when they seem to have made
their headquarters at Burton-Lazars, near Melton Mowbray in
Leicestershire, where a rich and famous Lazar House was built by a
general subscription throughout the country, and greatly aided by the
munificence of Robert de Mowbray. The Lazar-houses of S. Leonard's,
Sheffield; Tilton, in Leicestershire; Holy Innocents', Lincoln; S.
Giles', London; SS. Mary and Erkemould, Ilford, Essex; and the
preceptory of Chosely, in Norfolk, besides many others, were annexed
to it, as cells containing _fratres leprosos de Sancto Lazaro de
Jerusalem_. The house received at least 35 different charters,
confirmed by various sovereigns. Camden in his _Britannia_, p. 447,
says that "The masters of all the smaller Lazar-houses in England,
were in some sort subject to the Master of Burton Lazars, as he
himself was, to the Master of the Lazars in Jerusalem."

The rules of these Lazar-houses were very strict. The inmates were
allowed to walk within certain prescribed limits only, generally a
mile from the house. They were forbidden to stay out all night, and
were not on any account permitted to enter the bakehouse, brewhouse,
and granary, excepting the brother in charge, and he was not to dare
to touch the bread and beer, since it was "most unfitting that persons
with such a malady, should handle things appointed for the common use
of men." A gallows was sometimes erected in front of the houses, on
which offenders were summarily despatched from this world, for breach
of the rules.

The comforts in these houses varied greatly as the house was richly,
or poorly endowed. At some of the smaller ones, the inmates would seem
to have depended almost, if not entirely, on the precarious
contributions of the charitably disposed for their very sustenance. At
Beccles, in Suffolk, one of the Lepers of S. Mary Magdalene's, was by
a royal grant empowered to beg on behalf of himself and his brethren.
Sometimes, these poor and wretched outcasts would sit by the roadside,
with a dish placed on the opposite side, to receive the alms of the
good Samaritans that passed by, who would give them as wide a berth as
possible. The Lepers were not allowed to speak to a stranger, lest
they should contaminate him with their breath. To attract attention,
they would clash their wooden clappers together.

In the larger and richer houses, the inmates were well provided for.
The account of the food supplied to the inmates of the Lazar House of
S. Julian, at S. Albans, c. 1335-1349, is very curious:--"Let every
Leprous brother receive from the property of the Hospital for his
living and all necessaries, whatever he has been accustomed to receive
by the custom observed of old, in the said Hospital, namely--Every
week seven loaves, five white, and two brown made from the grain as
thrashed. Every seventh month, fourteen gallons of beer, or 8d. for
the same. Let him have in addition, on the feasts of All Saints, Holy
Trinity, S. Julian, S. John the Baptist, S. Albans, The Annunciation,
Purification, Assumption, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for
each feast, one loaf, one jar of beer, or 1d. for the same, and one
obolus[a] which is called the charity of the said Hospital; also, let
every Leprous brother receive, at the feast of Christmas, forty
gallons of good beer, or 40d. for the same; two qrs. of pure and clean
corn--which is called the great charity; also at the Feast of S.
Martin, each Leper shall receive one pig from the common stall, or the
value in money, if he prefer it." The pigs were selected by each leper
according to his seniority in having become an inmate; also, each
Leper shall receive on the Feast of S. Valentine, for the whole of the
ensuing year, one quarter of oats; also, about the feast of S. John
the Baptist, two bushels of salt, or the current price; also, on the
feast of S. Julian, and at the feast of S. Alban, one penny for the
accustomed pittance; also, at Easter, one penny, which is called by
them 'Flavvones-peni'; also, on Ascension Day, one obolus for buying
pot herbs; also, on each Wednesday in Lent, bolted corn[b] of the
weight of one of their loaves; also, on the feast of S. John the
Baptist, 4s. for clothes; also, at Christmas, let there be distributed
in equal portions, amongst the Leprous brethren, 14s. for their fuel
through the year, as has been ordained of old, for the sake of peace
and concord; also, by the bounty of Our Lord the King, 30s. 5d. have
been assigned for ever for the use of the Lepers, which sum, the
Viscount of Hertford has to pay them annually, at the feasts of Easter
and Michaelmas.

At the Lazar House, dedicated in honour of "The Blessed Virgin,
Lazarus, and his two sisters Mary and Martha," at Sherburn, Durham,
which accommodated no less than 65 Lepers, a more varied, and at the
same time less complex dietary was in vogue. The daily allowance was a
loaf of bread weighing 5 marks[c] and a gallon of ale to each; and
betwixt every two, one mess[d] or commons of flesh, three days in the
week, and of fish, cheese, and butter, on the remaining four. On high
festivals, a double mess, and in particular on the Feast of S.
Cuthbert. In Lent, fresh salmon, if it could be had, if not, other
fresh fish; and on Michaelmas Day, four messed on one goose[e]. With
fresh flesh, fish, or eggs, a measure of salt was delivered. When
fresh fish could not be had, red herrings were served, three to a
single mess; or cheese and butter by weight; or three eggs. During
Lent, each had a razer of wheat to make furmenty[f], and two razers of
beans to boil; sometimes greens or onions; and every day, except
Sunday, the seventh part of a razer of bean meal; but on Sundays, a
measure-and-a-half of pulse to make gruel. Red herrings were
prohibited from Pentecost to Michaelmas, and at the latter, each
received two razers of apples. They had a kitchen and cook in common,
with utensils for cooking, etc.:--A lead, two brazen pots, a table, a
large wooden vessel for washing, or making wine, a laver, two ale[g]
and two bathing vats. The sick had fire and candles, and all
necessaries, until they became convalescent or died.

Each Leper received an annual allowance for his clothing, three yards
of woollen cloth, white or russet, six yards of linen, and six of
canvas. Four fires were allowed for the whole community. From
Michaelmas to All Saints, they had two baskets of peat, on double mess
days; and four baskets daily, from All Saints to Easter. On Christmas
Day, they had four Yule logs each a cartload, with four trusses of
straw; four trusses of straw on All Saints' Eve, and Easter Eve; and
four bundles of rushes, on the Eves of Pentecost, S. John the Baptist,
and S. Mary Magdalene; and on the anniversary of Martin de Sancta
Cruce, every Leper received 5s. 5d. in money.

This luxurious living was not without its leaven. The rules of the
House were strict, and enforced religious duties on its inmates, of a
most severe and austere nature. All the Leprous brethren, whose health
permitted, were required daily to attend Matins, Nones, Vespers, and

The bed-ridden sick were enjoined to raise themselves, and say Matins
in their bed; and for those who were still weaker, "let them rest in
peace." During Lent and Advent, all the brethren were required to
receive corporal discipline three days in the week, and the sisters in
like manner.

From the rules of the Lazar House of SS. Mary and Erkemould, at Ilford
in Essex, which accommodated 13 Lepers--we learn, in 1336, that the
inmates were ordered "to preserve silence, and, if able, to hear Mass
and Matins throughout, and whilst there, to be intent on prayer and
devotion. In the hospital, every day, each shall say for morning duty
a Pater-noster and Ave Maria[i] thirteen times; and for the other
hours of the day--1st, 3rd, and 6th of Vespers; and again, at the hour
of concluding service, a Pater-noster and Ave Maria seven times;
besides the aforesaid prayers each Leper shall say a Pater-noster and
Ave Maria thirty times every day, for the founder of the Hospital--the
Abbess of Barking, 1190--the Bishop of the place, all his benefactors,
and all other true believers, living or dead; and on the day on which
any one of their number departs from life, let each Leprous brother
say in addition, fifty Paters and Aves three times, for the soul of
the departed, and the souls of all diseased believers." Punishment was
meted out to any who neglected or shirked these duties.

Some of the Leper Houses in France excited the jealousy and avarice of
Phillip V., who caused many of the inmates to be burned alive, in
order that the fire might purify at one and the same time, the
infection of the body and that of the soul, giving as an ostensible
reason for his fiendish barbarity, the absurd and baseless allegation,
that the Lepers had been bribed to commit the detestable sin and
horrible crime of poisoning the wells, waters, etc., used by the
Christians. The real cause being a desire, through this flimsy excuse,
to rob the richer hospitals of their funds and possessions, this is
clearly manifest in the special wording of his own edict, "that all
the goods of the Lepers be lodged and held for himself." A similar
persecution was renewed about 60 years afterwards, in 1388, under
Charles VI. of France.

As soon as a man became a prey to the disease, his doom on earth was
finally and irrevocably sealed. The laws, both civil and
ecclesiastical, were awful in their severity to the poor Leper; not
only was he cut off from the society of his fellow-men, and all family
ties severed, but, he was dead to the law, he could not inherit
property, or be a witness to any deed. According to English law Lepers
were classed with idiots, madmen, outlaws, etc.

The Church provided a service to be said over the Leper on his
entering a Lazar House[j]. The Priest duly vested preceded by a cross,
went to the abode of the victim. He there began to exhort him to
suffer with a patient and penitent spirit the incurable plague with
which God had stricken him. Having sprinkled the unfortunate Leper
with Holy Water, he conducted him to the Church, the while reading
aloud the beginning of the Burial Service. On his arrival there, he
was stripped of his clothes and enveloped in a pall, and then placed
between two trestles--like a corpse--before the Altar, when the
_Libera_ was sung and the Mass for the Dead celebrated over him.

After the service he was again sprinkled with Holy Water, and led from
thence to the Lazar House, destined for his future, and final abode,
here on earth.

A pair of clappers, a stick, a barrel, and a distinctive dress were
given to him. The costume comprised a russet tunic[k], and upper tunic
with hood cut from it, so that the sleeves of the tunic were closed
as far as the hand, but not laced with knots or thread after the
secular fashion of the day. The upper tunic was to be closed down to
the ankles, and a close cape of black cloth of the same length as the
hood, for outside use.

A particular form of boot or shoe, laced high, was also enjoined, and
if these orders were disobeyed the culprit was condemned to walk
bare-footed, until the Master, considering his humility said to him
"enough." An oath of obedience and a promise to lead a moral and
abstemious life was required of every Leper on admission. The Bishops
of Rome from time to time issued Bulls, with regard to the
ecclesiastical separation and rights of the afflicted.

Lepers were excluded from the city of London by Act 20 Edward the
III., 1346[l].

The Magistrates of Glasgow, in 1573, appeared to have exercised some
right of searching for Lepers.

Piers, the ploughman, makes frequent allusions to "Lepers under the

The Lazar Houses were often under the authority of some neighbouring
Abbey, or Monastery. _Semler_ quotes a Bull, issued by one of the
Bishops of Rome, appointing every Leper House to be provided with its
own burial ground and chapel; as also ecclesiastics; these in the
middle ages were probably the only physicians of the body, as well as
of the soul--some appear to have devoted themselves as much to the
study of medicine as to that of theology.

It was customary in the mediĉval times to address the secular clergy
as "Sir."


The rank and status of any one, was no guarantee against attacks from
this dire disorder, with its fearful ravages. Had the victims been
confined, as it is generally thought, to those who dwelt amid squalor,
dirt and vice, in close and confined dens, veritable hot beds for
rearing and propagating disease of every kind; we should not be
surprised, but should be entitled to assume, that to such
circumstances, in a very great measure might the origin be expected to
be found; but, when we find, that not only was the scourge a visitant
here, but, that it numbered amongst the afflicted, members of some of
the most illustrious households in this kingdom, aye, even the august
monarchs themselves, the source from whence _Elephantiasis
Grĉcorum_--the malady not being contagious--first originated must be
sought for elsewhere.

First amongst our ancient and illustrious families, we find--if he may
be so classed--the case of S. Finian, who died 675 or 695[m].

A nobleman of the South of England, whose name unfortunately is not
recorded, is reputed to have been miraculously cured at the tomb of S.
Cuthbert, at Durham, 1080[n].

A daughter of Mannasseh Bysset, a rich Wiltshire gentleman, sewer[o]
to Henry II., being a Leper, founded the Lazar House at Maiden
Bradley, dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin, "for poore
leprous women" and gave to it her share of the town of Kidderminster,
c. 1160. Mannasseh Bysset founded the Lazar House dedicated in honour
of S. James, Doncaster, for women, c. 1160.

The celebrated Constance, Duchess of Brittany, who was allied to the
royal families of both England and Scotland, being a grand-daughter of
Malcolm III. of Scotland, and the English Princess Margaret Atheling,
and also a descendant of a natural daughter of Henry I. She died of
Leprosy in the year 1201[p].

In 1203 in the King's Court, a dispute was heard respecting a piece of
land in Sudton, Kent, between two kinswomen--Mabel, daughter of
William Fitz-Fulke, and Alicia, the widow of Warine Fitz-Fulke. Among
the pleas, it was urged by Alicia, that Mabel had a brother, and that
his right to the land must exclude her claim, whereupon Mabel answered
that her brother was a Leper[q].

It was certified to King Edward I. in 1280, that Adam of Gangy,
deceased, of the county of Northumberland, holding land of the King in
chief, was unable to repair to the King's presence to do homage, being
struck with the Leprosy[r].

In the reign of Richard II. c. 1380, William, son of Robert
Blanchmains, being a Leper, founded the Lazar House, dedicated in
honour of S. Leonard, outside the town of Leicester, to the north[s].

Richard Orange, a gentleman of noble parentage, and Mayor of Exeter in
1454, was a Leper. In spite of his great wealth he submitted himself
to a residence in the Lazar House of S. Mary Magdalene in that city,
where he died, and was buried in the chapel attached. A mutilated
inscription still remains over the spot where he is interred[t].

Some of the Lazar Houses were specially endowed for persons above the
lower ranks who happened to become affected with the disease. In
1491, Robert Pigot gave by will to the Leper House of Walsingham, in
the Archdeaconry of Norwich, a house in, or near that town, for the
use of two Leprous persons "of good families."

Before considering the Royal Lepers, it will not be out of place to
mention the death of S. Fiacre from Leprosy, in 665. He was the
reputed son of Eugenius IV., King of Scotland, and is canonised in the
Roman branch of the Church Catholic[u].

Amongst Royal Lepers, the case of Adelicia or Adelais, daughter of
Godfrey, Duke of Louraine, and niece of Calextus II., Bishop of Rome,
1118; the second Queen of Henry I. of England, and afterwards wife of
William de Albion, to whom she was tenderly attached; stands first in
order of state. Being stricken with leprosy, she left him and entered
a convent, where she died of the disease, 1151. This reputed instance,
it is right to mention, requires confirmation. The above is mentioned
by a contributor to _Notes and Queries_, 7, S. viii., 174, but no
authority is given.

Baldwin IV., King of Jerusalem, a direct descendant like the Royal
Plantagenets of England, from Fulk, Count of Anjou and Touraine, died
of Leprosy in 1186, leaving a child nephew to succeed him; the
consequence being, the loss of the Holy Land, and the triumph of
Saladin after eighty-eight years of the Christian kingdom[v].

Henry III. is said to have been a Leper.

Edward the Black Prince, used to bathe in the Holy Well at Harbledon,
near Canterbury, for his Leprosy, and Robert Bruce, King of Scotland,
had a licence at one time from the King of England to bathe in the
waters of S. Lazarus' Well on Muswell Hill, near where now stands the
Alexandra Palace. The well belonged to the Order of S. John,
Clerkenwell, a hospital order for Lepers. Three years before his
death, he was unable to undertake the command of the army in its
descent upon the northern counties of England, by reason of his
Leprosy, of which he died in 1329, at the age of 55[w].

Henry IV. King of England, was a Leper without doubt[x].

Margaret of Anjou, Queen of Henry VI. of England, is reputed, like her
ancestor Baldwin IV., to have died a Leper[y].

Louis the XIV., is said to have died of the disease in 1715. It is
also recorded, that in order to effect a cure, recourse was had to a
barbarous superstitious custom, once unhappily common in Brazil, that
of killing several fine healthy children, eating their hearts, livers,
&c.; then washing in their blood, and annointing the body with grease
made from the remains. Let us at least hope this impious and inhuman
act is but "legend[z]".


It is trusted that the fact has been established that the Leprosy of
the Bible, and of the Middle Ages, were entirely different diseases.
The only essential characteristics in common being that both were
cutaneous and neither was contagious, excepting by innoculation by a
wound or a cut. Both were possibly hereditary, though this is denied
by some.

The Biblical Leprosy never ended in death, whereas that of the Middle
Ages always did. In one case there was little suffering, in the other
usually a great deal.

In one the isolation was temporary only, in the other permanent.

The origin of the Mediĉval Scourge is enshrouded in impenetrable
mystery. The cure is as enigmatical.

The late Father Damian, who gave his life to ministration and
alleviation of the sufferings of the 2,000 Lepers of Hawaii, in the
island of Molakai, no doubt caught the disease of which he died, owing
to the fact, that Lepers only handled and cooked the food, kneaded and
baked the bread, washed the clothes, etc. The whole surroundings being
Leprous, it is difficult to see how the good Father could well have
avoided contamination. Still, the disease is not contagious if
reasonable precautions are taken.

Two remarkable meetings were held in London in 1889, under the
presidency of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. At the first
one, held in Marlborough House, June 17th, the Prince of Wales made
the startling and unwelcome announcement of the case of Edward Yoxall,
aged 64, who was carrying on his trade as butcher, in the Metropolitan
Meat Market, from whence he was subsequently removed.

At the second meeting held in the rooms of the Medical Society,
Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, two Lepers were exhibited. The
verdict of the medical men present was, "There is no curative
treatment of Leprosy." Dr. Thornton, of the Leper Hospital of Madras,
said:--That his experience showed him that Leprosy was contagious,
and that it was likely to spread to this country; that the disease,
however, could rarely, if ever, be communicated, except in the case of
a healthy person by an abraded skin, coming in contact with a Leper.
"The sufferings of the afflicted can be alleviated by (1) a liberal
diet; (2) oleaginous anointings, by which the loss of sleep, one of
the most distressing symptoms of the disease, can be prevented."

The Rev. Father Ignatius Grant called my attention to the use of
"simples" in England, as elsewhere, for the alleviation of the
suffering. He says, "_Les Capitulaires, Legislatio domestica_, of
Charlemagne, contains the enumeration of the sorts of fruit trees and
plants to be grown in the Imperial gardens, as a guide to monastic
establishments throughout his empire. The list is entirely of culinary
and medicinal herbs, simples and vegetables. As to flowers, only the
lily and the rose are permitted for _agrément_; whilst all the rest
are for food or medicinal remedies. All the common simples are

"Herein is a mine of information, which I only allude to, but it was
doubtless the plan followed by most religious houses. For one thing is
clear, that as the monastic gardens were all arranged on a certain and
utilitarian method, there is an antecedent probability of a consequent
fact. That fact is, that we shall find out if we examine the purlieus
of our own ruined abbeys, many a plant medicinal or culinary which has
reset itself and persisted in its original _locale_ for four
centuries, though its original native earth and climate was not that
of England.

"Such herbs proper for making salves and lotions are plentifully
mentioned in part i. 301-455 of Ducange, v. _areola florarium_,
_lilietum_, &c., and there is a catalogue of _des plus excellentes
fruits qui se cultivent chez les Chartreux_ (Paris, 1752.) Also, as a
specimen of this sort of "find," the Woolhope Natural Club found the
valuable medicinal plant asarabica (_asarum Europeum_) in the forest
of Deerfold, having wandered from the old abbey garden, and
perpetuated itself for ages. This one instance shows how the old
gardeners had introduced foreign plants into their wort-beds.

"Many writers have told me, he goes on to observe, but especially a
Franciscan Father of the Holy Land and two Franciscan Sisters from a
hospital at Vialas (_Lazére_) par Génalhac, that--

"1. They use elm bark for cutaneous eruptions, herpes, and lepra. Four
ounces of the bark boiled in decoction in two quarts of water down to
one quart. That half a pint given twice a day has made inveterate
eruptions of lepra, both dry and humid, to disappear.

"2. The rose burdock--_lappa rosea_--they give in cases of lepra
_icthyosis_, and it has succeeded where other remedies had failed.

"3. They have used also the root of the mulberry-tree. Half a dram of
the powder to a dose.

"4. _Lapathum bononicense_, or fiddle-dock, and also the dwarf
trefoil--_trefolium pusillum_.

"The following is the list of simples which I obtained from the
Lazar-house still existing in Provence, les Alpes Maritimes, and from
that in Cyprus, and especially Nicosia, as also from the well-known
Leper hospital in Provence:

"Food, baths, and oleaginous applications stand first.

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