Stephen (d.1112) (DNB00)

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STEPHEN, usually known as Stephen of Whitby (d. 1112), abbot of St. Mary's, York, took the monastic habit at Whitby in 1078. The Whitby monastery had been ruined by the Danes, but it had been partly restored by William de Percy, first baron Percy [q. v.], and there were a few monks living there when Stephen entered the house. The monks soon chose him as their prior. Percy's former friendship for the foundation, however, had changed to enmity, and his oppression, together with the depredations of pirates and robbers, reduced the house to such sore straits that Stephen had to appeal to the king. William I gave them land at Lastingham, not far off, and thither they removed. Still Percy's ill-will pursued them, and, though Stephen followed the king into Normandy, he obtained no redress. But Alan, earl of Brittany, an old friend of Stephen, now came to his aid, and persuaded him and his monks to remove once more to the neighbourhood of York. Here he gave them the church of St. Olave's and four acres of land upon which to build offices. This land was, however, claimed by Thomas I [q. v.], archbishop of York. Again Stephen, through Alan, appealed to the king, and the latter promised to make good the loss to the see of York. William Rufus visited the new foundation at York which was named St. Mary's Abbey, and made a fresh grant of land and himself assisted in laying the foundations of a new church. When the prosperity of the house seemed secure, Archbishop Thomas renewed his suit for the original four acres, and Stephen appeased him only by obtaining for the see of York the grant of St. Stephen's Church in the city from the king, and by himself adding a voluntary gift of land. Stephen died in 1112.

Stephen wrote: ‘De fundatione Abbatiæ Sanctæ Mariæ Virginis Eboraci anno ab Incarnatione Domini 1088,’ which gives an account of his own life also. It was printed from Bodleian MS. 39 in Dugdale's ‘Monasticon Anglicanum,’ iii. 544 seq., but is there ascribed to Simon of Warwick. This may be identical with a treatise (which Bale saw at Westminster) called ‘De Reparato Monachatu,’ in which Stephen is said to have recorded the difficulties attending monastic reform in England in the eleventh century.

[Stephen's work (as above), printed in Dugdale's Monast. Angl. iii. 544 seq. See also Pits, De Illustr. Angl. Scriptt p. 189; Bale's Scriptt. Illustr. Cat. i. 167; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 691; Hardy's Cat. ii. 49 sq.]

A. M. C.-e.