John of Hexham (DNB00)
|←John of Salisbury||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29
John of Hexham
|John of St. Giles→|
JOHN (fl. 1180), called of Hexham, historian, was a canon of Hexham, and became prior of his house, probably in succession to Richard of Hexham [q. v.] Prior Richard seems to have died about 1160, and certainly before 1167. The prior of Hexham in 1209 was called William. John's rule must have fallen between these dates. There are two charters which show that John was prior before 1178 (Priory of Hexham, ii. 86-7), and his name appears in another, the date of which can be fixed between 1189 and 1194. Probably, therefore, John was prior for about thirty years, but he is not mentioned in any chronicle of the time.
John is the author of a continuation of the 'Chronicle' of Symeon of Durham. His work extends over a period of twenty-five years from 1130 to 1154. From 1135 to 1139 he was able to make use of Prior Richard's history; but John's narrative of these years is much the shorter. He, however, makes some additions, which point to the possession of independent information.
John was also acquainted with the works of William of Malmesbury and Florence of Worcester, as well as with the 'Gesta Stephani,' and with the lives of Archbishop Thurstan by Hugh the Chanter and Geoffrey Turcople. His narrative deals mainly with the ecclesiastical history of northern England, and it is in this relation that it is most valuable. He appears to have had a personal knowledge of some of the later events which he describes. The only manuscript of his work is one marked F. v. 139 at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is, unfortunately, a somewhat careless transcript of the original, dating from the early part of the thirteenth century. The 'Chronicle' is printed in Twysden's 'Scriptores Decem,' pp. 258-82, in Raine's 'Priory of Hexham,' i. 107-72 (Surtees Soc. xliv. 1864), and in the Rolls Series edition of Symeon of Durham, ii. 284-332. There is a translation in Stevenson's 'Collection of Church Historians of England,' vol. iv. Bale also ascribes to John: 1. 'De Signis et Cometis.' This is merely the passage in the 'Chronicle' about the comet of 1133, which Mr. Raine considers to be an interpolation by another hand (Priory of Hexham, i. 110-12). 2. 'Descriptio Scotici Belli, 'beginning' Eodem anno quo mortuus est.' 3. 'Conciones.' Of the two latter nothing seems known.
[Bale, iii. 230-1; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 400, s.v. 'Hexham;' Hardy's Cat. Brit. Hist, ii. 258; Raine's Preface to Priory of Hexham, i. clii-clviii.]