Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Alfred of Beverley

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ALFRED of Beverley (fl. 1143), chronicler, was a priest of Beverley, and is described in the preface to his book as ‘treasurer of the church of Beverley’ and ‘Master Alfred, sacrist of the church of Beverley.’ He speaks of himself as contemporary with the removal of the Flemings from the north of England to Ross in Herefordshire in 1112, and writes that he compiled his chronicle ‘when the church was silent, owing to the number of persons excommunicated under the decree of the council of London,’ an apparent reference to the council held at Mid-Lent, 1143. His attention, by his own account, was first drawn to history by the publication (before 1139) of Geoffrey of Monmouth's ‘Historia Britonum,’ and he looked forward to following up the chronicle which bears his name, and which largely depends on Geoffrey's work, with a collection of excerpts from the credible portions of the ‘Historia Britonum,’ but no trace of such a work is extant. Alfred of Beverley's chronicle is entitled ‘Aluredi Beverlacensis Annales sive Historia de gestis Regum Britanniæ libris ix. ad annum 1129.’ It is largely devoted to the fabulous history of Britain, and is mainly borrowed from Bede, Henry of Huntingdon, and Symeon of Durham, when Geoffrey of Monmouth is not laid under contribution. Alfred quotes occasionally from Suetonius, Orosius, and Nennius, and names many Roman authors whom he had consulted in vain for references to Britain. The chronicle is of no real use to the historical student, since it adds no new fact to the information to be found in well-known earlier authorities. The best manuscript of Alfred's ‘Annales’ is that among the Hengwrt MSS. belonging to W. W. E. Wynne, Esq., of Peniarth, Merionethshire, and has not been printed. Hearne printed the ‘Annales’ in 1716 from an inferior Bodleian MS. (Rawl. B. 200).

[Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue (Rolls Series), ii. 169–74; Bale's Scrip. Brit. Cat.; Pits' De Ang. Scrip.; Hearne's Preface.]

S. L. L.