St Albans. Robert Hodgkinson
‘Robert Hodgkinson, late of this parish, by his last will and testament bearing date 2 August 1593 bequeathed £20 to buy a house with backside in St Peter’s Street in this parish, to be divided into two parts, for two poor old folks, or two old couples to dwell in rent free. The said two tenements, with a large yard and garden thereto belonging, now consist of two messuages in St Peter’s-street; five cottages behind the same, and three messuages in Katherine Lane, near St Peter’s Street’. This comment by Robert Clutterbuck (1827) seems to be the only reference in the standard history books. It may indicate that the provision was extended from the original two, but there is no evidence about this. Unfortunately Robert’s will does not seem to be at HALS or on the Ancestry website, so the details or any provision cannot be checked at this stage.
Chauncy (1700) does not mention any such almshouse. However, this cannot be regarded as definitive for its non-existence as for St Albans he only refers to Pemberton, omitting Clarke’s, Skipwith’s and Raynshaw’s which all existed at that time.
Even by 1618, barely 25 years after the date of his will, the Churchwardens had to sort out the terms. The minutes record that the churchwardens were asked to source a copy of the will. There was a note that he purchased two houses for the poor.
Catherine Lane has since been renamed Catherine Street. The likely site is St Peter’s Street just north of the junction with Catherine Street. There are a number of copies of the same plans at HALS showing lands owned by Hodgkinsons Charity on the north side of Catherine Lane starting from St Peter’s Street. When looking at the plans, beware as they are not in the usual north/ south orientation, but there is a north indicator. A further reference in the churchwardens accounts notes that the site was in St Peter’s Street next to William Fullers. The almshouse annotated on the south side of Catherine Street is Clark’s almshouse (now May Clarke House).
The Charity Commission documents from about 1910 refer to holdings but not to an almshouse, and most of the document is to do with the church, only a reference being made to letting some allotments.
Following Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897 there were plans to refurbish the almshouses in St Albans, but there is no mention of Hodgkinson’s, so we could assume it no longer existed. Equally, it is not noted on maps of the period. Hodgkinson’s Charity scheme was amended in 1911, but it seems to concentrate on church provision. The Charity is no longer listed on the Charity Commission website.
Tantalisingly, the St Albans Archdeacon’s Court Records for 1594 refer to Hodgekinson Administrator of Robert Hodgekinson, in trouble for incontinence (not the modern meaning, but general bad behaviour).
The History & Antiquities of the County of Hertford, by Robert Clutterbuck
Vol 1 Cashio Hundred p123
Printed by and for John Bowyer Nichols, 25 Parliament Street, London 1827
Documents held at HALS
DP/93/25/7-9 Date: late 19th century – 1911
Plans of charity lands: Lambs Close, Hodgkinson’s Charity and Sir Richard Coxe’s Charity
Note the various documents are copies of the same information. DP/93/25/9 is faded but includes a note that Henry Mence was the surveyor.
DP/93c/25/2 date c1911. Charity Commission scheme update
DP/93c/25/3 Date:1910 Charity Commission schemes concerning Hodgkinson’s Charity
DP/93/25/11 Extracts from churchwardens accounts 1573 – 1639
ASA7/16 f2 St Albans Archdeacon’s Court Records