HOSPITALLERS. Hospitaller, in its literal acceptation, means one residing in an hospital, in order to receive the poor or stranger ; from the Latin hospitalarins, a word found only in the language of the lower age. The Knights Hospitallers were an order of religious formerly set tled in England, who took their name and origin from an hospital built at Jerusa lem for the use of pilgrims going to the Holy Land, dedicated to St. John. The first business of these knights was to provide for such pilgrims at that hospital, and to protect them from injuries and in sults upon the road. They were insti tuted about A.D. 1092, and were very much favoured by Godfrey of Bouillon and his successor Baldwin king of Jeru salem. They followed chiefly St. Austin's rule, and wore a black habit with a white cross upon it. They soon came into Eng land, and had a house built for them in London A.B. 1100 ; and from a poor and mean beginning obtained so great wealth, honours, and exemptions, that their Supe nor here in England was the first lay baron, and had a seat among the lords in parliament ; and some of their privileges were extended even to their tenants. The order was suppressed in England.
There were also sisters of this order, of which one house only existed in England, at Buckland in Somersetshire.
Upon many of their manors and estates in the country the Knights Hospitallers placed small societies of their brethren, under the government of a commander. These were allowed proper maintenance out of the revenues under their care, and accounted for the remainder to the grand prior at London. Such societies were in consequence called Commanderies. What were commanderies with the Hospitallers were called Preceptories by the Templars, though the latter term was in use with both orders.
The Knights Hospitallers had several other designations. They were at first called Knights of St. John of Jerusalem ; afterwards, from their flesh place of set tlement, Knights of Rhodes; and after the loss of that island, A.D. 1522, Knights of Malta, from the island which had been bestowed upon them by the emperor Charles V. (Tanner, Notit. Monast., edit. Nasmith, pad'. p. xv.; Newcourt, Repert. Eccles., vol. i. p. 530; ii. p. 199; Dug dale, Monasticon Anylicanum, new edit., vol. vi. p. 786.)