Serlo (DNB00)

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SERLO, called Grammaticus (1109–1207?), monk of Fountains, born in 1109, was brother of Ralph, abbot of Louth Park in Lincolnshire. Though he was present when the monks of St. Mary's, York, left that house to found the abbey at Fountains, and was related to some of them, he did not himself enter Fountains till 1138, when he was twenty-nine (Walbran, Memorials of Fountains, I. viii. 57; but cf. Leland, De Script. Brit. i. 159; and Pits, De Illustr. Angl. Script. p. 223). From Fountains he was sent in 1147 to assist in founding Kirkstall, near Leeds, where he spent the rest of his long life. It was Serlo who in his ninety-ninth year gave Hugh of Kirkstall the infor- mation which he worked up into his ‘Narratio de fundatione Fontanis Monasterii in comitatu Eboracensi’ (Memorials of Fountains, vol. i.). Serlo's daily lectures to his pupils are said to have been the origin of his books. He probably died at Kirkstall about 1207.

Serlo is said to have written ‘De bello inter Scotiæ Regem et Angliæ Barones,’ a Latin poem printed by Twysden (Decem Scriptores, i. 331). Other works attributed doubtfully to him are ‘De Morte Sumerledi,’ ‘De Dictionibus Disyllabis,’ ‘De Dictionibus æquivocis,’ ‘De Dictionibus univocis’ (Bale, Script. Illust. Brit. i. 198), and ‘De Differentiis Verborum’ (Pits, l.c. p. 224). Several of these are extant in manuscript in different college libraries in Cambridge.

It is difficult, however, to distinguish the writings of Serlo of Fountains from those of three other men of the same name (Hardy, Descriptive Catalogue, vol. ii. Rolls Ser.). The first Serlo (fl. 960?) probably lived about the middle of the tenth century, and was a Benedictine of St. Augustine's, Canterbury. After a feud with monks of another house in that city, he wrote with great bitterness against monks in general a book called ‘Monachorum Libidines’ (Bale, l.c. i. 136). He is said to have been bishop of Cornwall, but his name does not appear among those of the bishop of that diocese (Pits, l.c. p. 175, but see Stubbs, Regist. Sacr. Angl. p. 167). Other works doubtfully attributed to him are five books of commentaries on the Pentateuch, a treatise ‘de proverbiis,’ and a book of homilies (Pits, l.c.).

The second, Serlo of Bayeux (1036?–1104), a Norman by birth, was perhaps at different times canon of Bayeux and of Avranches, monk of Mount St. Michael in Normandy, and chaplain to William, afterwards the conqueror of England (Hist. et Cart. Monast. Gloucestr. i. 10, Rolls Ser.). His patron was Odo [q. v.], bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William, and, at the suggestion of Osmund, the chancellor, the king gave him the abbey of Gloucester, 29 Aug. 1072 (Cart. Monast. Gloucestr. l.c.) At the time of Serlo's appointment there were only two monks of full age in the house, but under his vigorous administration its prosperity was firmly established, and the number of monks raised to over a hundred (Will. Malm. Gesta Regum, ii. 512, Rolls Ser.; Dugdale, Monast. Angl. i. 531–2; cf. Cartul. Monast. Gloucest. i. 58 seq.). Serlo rebuilt the abbey church and had it consecrated in 1100 (ib. pp. 11–12), but it appears to have been destroyed by fire shortly after. Serlo was a man of strong will and high personal character, and, after thirty-two years of able rule, died on 3 March 1104 (ib. p. 13; Sy,. Dunelm ii. 236). An epitaph upon him written by Godfrey of Winchester [q. v.], is extant (Cartul. Gloucestr. p. 13). To disentangle Serlo's writing and especially his verse from that of his friend, Godfrey of Winchester, seems impossible (Descriptive Cat. ii. 58, 69, 74, 97, &c.), but he perhaps wrote the treatise ‘Super Oratione Dominica,’ sometimes attributed to Serlo of Fountains (Tanner, Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 662 n.). There is also extant a letter which he wrote to William Rufus, informing him of a dream of one of his monks concerning the king's approaching death (Ord. vit. x. 781).

The third Serlo (d. 1147), called the Priest, lived under Henry I, and was the son of Syred the Smith and Leofleda (Cartul. Gloucest. i. 81; Tanner, l.c.; Bale, l.c.). He was fourth dean of Salisbury, in what year is not known (Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. ii. 612), and was first abbot of Cirencester in 1117 (Flor. Wig. ii. 92, Engl. Hist. Soc.; Monast. Angl. vi. 176). Serlo and his mother sold their land in Gloucester to the abbey of St. Peter's in 1129, his son Bartholomew being a witness to the transaction (Cartul. Gloucest. i. 812). Serlo died at Cirencester in 1147.

[Authorities cited in the text.]

A. M. C.-e.