University of Virginia Library


Astell records a financial record (see figure 1) for Sutton's Hospital, also
known as King James's Hospital, but better known then (and generally known
now) as the Charterhouse, a charitable institution created and supported by a
bequest in the will of Thomas Sutton (1532-1611). The "Brothers" to whom the
record refers speak to the Hospital's mission as a pensioners' home for elderly
men, many of them sailors who, to borrow a phrase from Gerald Davies, "had
served England well in the hours of her need and were now left high and dry to


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beg their bread in their old age" (223). The references to "Scholars" underscore
its other function as a school for promising boys of upstanding, but financially
limited, families. Not only Richard Steele, but Joseph Addison, John Wesley, and,
in the nineteenth century, William Thackeray would benefit from Sutton's gift.

The similarity between Sutton's dual-purpose foundation and Astell's Chel-
sea school for girls, itself an outgrowth of the Royal Hospital for elderly veterans,
would not have been lost on her. Along with 80 brothers, Sutton's will made pro-
visions for 40 scholars; Astell's Chelsea school, according to Perry, "was meant
to handle thirty poor girls" (238).

Astell's source for this account is almost certainly Samuel Herne's Domus Car-
(1677), which, on 145-153, transcribes in pounds, shillings, and pence the
Establishment for the Dyets, Liveries, Stipends, Wages, and other Charges and Expences […]
at the humble Petition, and only costs and charges of
Thomas Sutton, Esquire […].
Astell's handwriting here is particularly inscrutable; I devoted an embarrass-
ing number of months to discovering "Fuller's Hospital," another contemporary
almshouse near London (as it turns out), only to ascertain its utter incompatibility
with the numbers Astell recorded. I deciphered many of her other references only
by consulting Herne.

Astell records many of the specific entries she found in Herne, though she
does at times combine several entries into a single category or ignore single
entries entirely; she also renders Herne's roman numerals as arabic. Interlaced
through several of the entries in smaller print are Astell's attempts to arrive at
a "per person" figure, something Herne does only on occasion—a point of dif-
ference tracked, along with particularly archaic references, in the endnotes (ren-
dered as arabic to avoid, as much as possible, confusion). The money system in
Astell's day and for nearly three centuries beyond, it should be noted, consisted
of 12 pennies to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound.