Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clare, Walter de

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CLARE, WALTER de (d. 1138?), founder of Tintern Abbey, was probably son of Richard de Clare (d. 1070?), founder of the house of Clare [q. v.] In Dugdale’s ‘Baronage’ (i. 207) he is also son of Gilbert, a brother of the Richard de Clare who died about 1070. His history is sadly confused. The few facts related concerning him have been mainly taken from two documents (Mon. Angl. v. 269-70), of which the one, his ‘Genealogia,’ is clearly based upon the continuation of William of Jumièges (viii. 37), itself inaccurate, but is sadly garbled; while the other, a chronicle, is even more erroneous. From these we gather that he was a son of Richard FitzGilbert, that he had possession of Nether-Went (the valley of the Wye), and that he founded Tintern Abbe in 1131. In addition to this we find a Walter de Clare defending Le Sap against the Angevins in October 1136 with his brother-in-law, Ralph de Coldun (Ord. Vit. vi. 71), and a Walter de Clare, brother of Earl Gilbert and Rohaise (and, therefore, son of Gilbert FitzRichard), present at Striguil (Chepstow) on 1 Nov. (Mon. Angl. iv. 597), in a year which Mr. Eyton (Add. MS. 31942) dates ‘1138-47,’ but Mr. Wakeman ‘1125-1130’ (Journ. Arch. Assoc. x. 280), and at Stamford, with Stephen (as ‘W. FitzGilbert’) in 1142 (Great Coucher, vol. ii. fo. 445). Mr. Marsh, who has analysed the evidence in the fullest detail (Chepatow Castle, cap. ii.), denies that he was ever lord of Striguil, and deems him to have been only a turbulent adventurer (p. 29). He strongly insists that this Walter was the son, not the grandson, of Richard FitzGilbert, and such, indeed, is the accepted view. It would seem, however, by no means improbable that this view is wrong. Walter dying without issue, his estates passed to his nephew. Mr. Ormerod, in his pedigree of the family, gives the date of 1138 for his death; but this date, though quite possible, is only a deduction from the chronicle printed (ut supra) in the ‘Monasticon.’ His abbey of St. Mary at Tintern was founded for the Cistercian order. No fragments of it now remain, the existing building being the ‘nova ecclesia’ founded by Roger Bigod in 1269 (see on this point Chepstow Castle, p. 30, with Sir J. Maclean's note).

[Ordericus Vitalis (Société de l’Histoire de France); Monasticon Anglicanum (new ed.); Journal of the Archaeological Association, vols. x. xxvii.; Marsh’s Chepstow Castle; Ormerod's Strigulensia; Archaeological Journal, vol. xxxv. ; Addit. MSS. (British Museum); Tintern Abbey (Saturday Review, xliv. 75, 21 July 1877); The Great Coucher (Duchy of Lancaster Records).]

J. H. R.