Robert (d.1139) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 48
Robert (d.1139)

by Albert Frederick Pollard
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticle Saint Robert (d. 1235?) of Knaresborough.

ROBERT (d. 1139), first abbot of Newminster, was a native of Craven in Yorkshire, and is said to have been educated at Paris. He afterwards became rector of Gargrave in Yorkshire, but, choosing a monastic life, entered the Benedictine abbey at Whitby. Finding the Benedictine rule too lax, he joined the Cistercian order, which had been established in England three years before, and in 1132 was one of the monks who founded the abbey of Fountains [see under Richard, d. 1139]. Five years later he was one of the monks sent to colonise the abbey of Newminster in Northumberland, founded by Ralph de Merlay, and was elected first abbot. Newminster in its turn became parent of the abbeys of Pipewell, Roche, and Salley. While at Newminster Robert was a frequent visitor of St. Godric [q. v.] at Finchale; but his strictness seems to have caused some insubordination, and on one occasion he had to vindicate himself before St. Bernard from the imputations of the monks of his house. He died in 1139, probably on 7 June, the day on which his obituary was kept. The year 1139 given by the Bollandists is more probable than 1159, the date usually assigned for Robert's death. He is said to have written a treatise on the Psalms which is not known to be extant. Robert is often called a saint, but apparently he was only beatified and not canonised.

He has often been confused with Saint Robert (d. 1235?) of Knaresborough. The latter was eldest son of Robert ‘Flowers’ or ‘Flours,’ who was twice mayor of York during the reign of Richard I, and, sacrificing his father's inheritance, joined the Cistercian monastery at Newminster. Thence he went to live as a hermit in a cell at Knaresborough, where King John is said to have visited him (cf. Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1201–16, p. 156). He is erroneously credited with founding the Trinitarian order, which really originated in France about 1197. He may, however, have introduced the order into England in 1224, when he organised the first settlement of that order at Knaresborough from among the number of pilgrims who resorted to him there. He died about 1235. According to Matthew Paris, his fame spread abroad in 1238; numerous miracles were wrought at his tomb at Knaresborough, which was said to exude a medicinal oil. There can be little doubt that he was canonised. In May 1252 Innocent IV proclaimed a relaxation of a year and forty days' penance to all who would help in completing the monastery of St. Robert of Knaresborough. The actual foundation of the monastery is attributed to Richard, earl of Cornwall [q. v.], in 1256, the date of the charter given in Dugdale's ‘Monasticon.’

[Several lives of Robert of Newminster are extant; the chief is contained in Lansdowne MS. 449, ff. 116–21, beginning ‘Beatus Robertus ex provincia Eboracensi quæ Craven dicitur;’ it dates from the fourteenth century, and mentions that an account of Robert's miracles is given in the second book of his life, which is now wanting. An abridgment of this life, dating from the fifteenth century, is contained in Cotton. MS. Tiberius E. i. ff. 177–9. This abridgment has been printed in Capgrave's Nova Legenda Angliæ, 1516, ff. cclxxiii–iv, and also in the Bollandists' Acta Sanctorum, xxii. 46–9. Another life of Robert by John of Tinmouth [q. v.] is extant in Bodleian MS. 240, f. 614. Four lives of Saint Robert of Knaresborough are extant. Three belonged to Henry Joseph Thomas Drury [q. v.], in a manuscript believed to be unique; the first is in Latin rhyming triplets, the second in Latin prose, while the third, in English verse, entitled The Metrical Life of Saint Robert of Knaresborough, was edited by Joseph Haslewood [q. v.] and Francis Douce [q. v.], and published by the Roxburghe Club in 1824. The fourth life, by Richard Stodley, is extant in Harleian MS. 3775. Drake, in his Eboracum, pp. 372–3, quotes a long account of Robert from ‘an ancient manuscript’ which he does not specify, but which was probably one of those belonging to Drury. Another printed life of Robert is contained in British Piety Displayed, York, 1733, 8vo, by Thomas Gent [q. v.] This last was kept on sale at Robert's cell at Knaresborough, which was extant to the beginning of last century. See also Matt. Paris (Rolls Ser.), iii. 521, iv. 378, v. 195; Bliss's Cal. Papal Registers, i. 277; L. Surius, Vitæ Sanctorum, 1618, vi. 131–2; Henriquez's Fascic. Sanct. Cisterc. 1631, pp. 251–4; Lenain's Hist. de Cîteaux, 1696, ii. 397–412; Introd. to Metrical Chron. (Roxburghe Club); Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel, v. 398, vi. 1565; Tanner's Notitia Monastica; Newminster Chartulary (Surtees Soc.); Burton's Monasticon Eboracense; Drake's Eboracum, pp. 359, 372, 373; Whittaker's Craven, ed. Morant, pp. 56, 69; Leland's Itinerary, i. 98; Camden's Britannia, ed. Gibson, s.v. ‘Knaresborough;’ Gough's Topography, ii. 450; Hardy's Descr. Cat. ii. 282–3; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn.]

A. F. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.234
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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362 ii 1 Robert (d. 1139): after pp. 251-4; insert Newminster Chartulary (Surtees Soc.);