Moreover, Christ's hospital was not founded as a school; its object was to rescue young children from the streets, to shelter, feed, clothe, and lastly to educate them—in short, to do exactly what in later times has been done by each individual parish for the orphan and destitute offspring of the poor. Any high-flown eulogies upon Edward's love of learning are consequently in this case wholly misapplied. It does not appear that he even assisted in what the citizens were doing at the Grey Friars. All that can be affirmed is, that he was the founder of Bridewell hospital, and that he recognised Christ's hospital and St. Thomas's, which the citizens had already set on foot: the former having been originally their own foundation, and the latter having become their property by purchase.
The story runs that the king's attention was directed to this good work by a sermon preached before him by bishop Ridley in the year 1552: and that in consequence the king sent by the bishop a letter to the mayor, declaring his special commandment that the mayor should travail therein. There is no reason to doubt that the sermon was preached, or that the amiable king was anxious to fulfil the part required of him: but this was not until after the citizens themselves had done what they could, and found that they required further aid from the crown. Bishop Ridley himself, in his farewell letter to his friends, written shortly before his martyrdom, attributed the chief merit to the city magistrates; first to sir Richard Dobbs, in whose mayoralty
- So long before as the mayoralty of Sir Richard Gresham in 1537–8, the year of king Edward's birth, the city had petitioned king Henry to have assigned to them the disposition and governance of the "iii. hospitalls or spytalls, commonly called Seynt Maryes Spytall, Seynt Barthilmewes Spytall, and Seynt Thomas Spytall, and the New Abbey of Tower-hill, founded of good devotion by ancient fathers, and endowed with great possessions and rentes, onely for the reliffe, comforte, and helpyng of the pore and impotent people, not beynge able to helpe themsellfes."—See this letter in Strype's Eccles. Memorials, i. 265; Trollope's Christ Hospital, p. 26; or Burgon's Life of Gresham, i. 26. By Trollope, "Seynt Maryes spytall" is misprinted "Seynt Georges." St. Mary's spital was without Bishopsgate, and at its surrender had nine-score beds, well furnished for receipt of poor people. (Stowe's Survay.)