Page:Chronicle of the Grey friars of London.djvu/28

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xxiv
PREFACE.
 

to state that the citizens were willing to provide for the poor "both meat, drink, clothing, and firing," but that they lacked lodging; wherefore he proceeded to beg "a wide, large, empty house of the king's majesty called Bridewell, that would wonderfully well serve to lodge Christ in,"—under which holy name, with much too free an adaptation of Matthew xxv. 35, 36, &c. the bishop was pleased to designate the poor, then "lying abroad, in the streets of London, both hungry, naked, and cold."[1] This application ultimately received a favourable reply, but not for nearly a year after.

Meanwhile, the citizens themselves did not cease in their exertions to mitigate the crying evil of a large houseless population. On the 26th July, 1552, began the preparing of the Grey Friars house for the poor fatherless children; and also, in the latter end of the same month, began the repairing of Saint Thomas's Hospital in Southwark, for poor impotent and lame persons.[2] This hospital had been an adjunct of the priory of Bermondsey, and had been purchased by the city of the crown, in 1550, as parcel of the lordship and manor of Southwark.

In the following month a fresh collection was set on foot. "This moneth of August began the great provision for the poore in London, towards the which every man was contributory, and gave certaine money in hand, and covenanted to give a certain [sum] weekly."[3]

  1. The same picture was graphically drawn by Thomas Lever, Master of St. John's college, in Cambridge, when he preached before the king on the fourth Sunday in Lent in 1550: "O merciful Lord! (he exclaimed) what a number of poor, feeble, halt, blind, lame, sickly,—yea, with idle vagabonds and dissembling caitiffs mixt among them, lye and creep, begging in the miry streets of London and Westminster!" It was not until the end of Elizabeth's reign, as is well known, that the parochial system of relief to the poor became the law of the land.
  2. Stowe's Chronicle.
  3. Ibid. An early account of the moneys collected is printed by Strype in his edition of Stowe's Survey, 1720, vol. i. p. 175, from the MSS. of archbishop Parker. The "whole Benevolence" of the citizens had amounted to 2,476l.; and the erection and furniture of the two houses (that is, St. Thomas and Christ's Hospitals) had been 2,479l. 10s. 10d.