The name given to several religious brotherhoods or orders of knights under vow to provide and care for the sick and wounded, originally in connection with expeditions to Jerusalem.


A religious order of knights, founded in 1048, and instituted property in 1110, for the defence of pilgrims to Jerusalem; established a church and a cloister there, with a hospital for poor and sick pilgrims, and were hence called the Hospital Brothers of St. john of Jerusalem.  The knights consisted of three classes, knights of noble birth to bear arms , priests to conduct worship, and serving brothers to tend the sick; on the fall of Jerusalem they retired  to Cyprus, conquered Rhodes; were then driven to Malta where they settled and took the name Knights of Malta, after which the order had various fortunes.

In England the order was revived in 1830 and was granted a royal charter in 1888; it devotes itself principally to first-aid and ambulance work, and is widely known as St. Johns Ambulance.