Richard of Hexham (DNB00)

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RICHARD of Hexham (fl. 1141), chronicler and prior of Hexham, was a canon of the Augustinian priory of Hexham, Yorkshire, in 1138 (Brevis Annotatio, ii. c. 9). When the prior, Robert Biset, left Hexham to become a monk of Clairvaux in 1141, Richard was elected to succeed him (John of Hexham, cc. 13, 14). In 1152, during his priorate, Henry Murdac [q. v.], archbishop of York, visited the priory and endeavoured to introduce a stricter discipline (ib. cc. 24, 25). In 1154 Richard translated certain relics belonging to his church. He was dead when Aelred or Ethelred (1109?–1166) [q. v.] wrote his book on Hexham. Aelred says that from his youth his life was honourable and worthy of veneration, and that in respect of chastity and sobriety it was almost monastic, which is high praise from such a quarter (Aelred, p. 193). He wrote: (1) An account of the early history of Hexham, entitled ‘Brevis Annotatio … Ricardi prioris Hagulstadensis ecclesiæ de antiquo et moderno statu ejusdem ecclesiæ,’ &c., in two books, down to about 1140. It is for the most part a short compilation from the works of Bede, Eddi, and Symeon of Durham, and is written in a stiff and dry style; but the author's work is careful, and becomes more vigorous in expression when he deals with his own time (Raine). It is in two manuscripts, one in the public library at Cambridge (Ff. i. 27), of the twelfth or early thirteenth century; the other belonging to the church of York (Ebor. xvi.), of the fourteenth century. In the York manuscript there are some trifling omissions, and there are no headings to the chapters; but it contains a list of the possessions of the priory (ib.) The ‘Brevis Annotatio’ is printed in Twysden's ‘Decem Scriptores,’ and by Canon Raine in ‘The Priory of Hexham, its Chroniclers,’ &c., for the Surtees Society. (2) ‘De gestis regis Stephani et de bello Standardii,’ a history of the reign of Stephen, 1135–9, and specially of the ‘Battle of the Standard,’ which took place on 22 Aug. 1138. This is a work of great value, carefully written, and giving an interesting account of affairs in the north during the early years of the reign, and of the battle itself. In it he quotes a couplet by Hugh Sottovagina or Sottewain, precentor or archdeacon of York, apparently from a poem on the battle, of which no other lines are known to exist (Historians of York, ii. preface, p. xiii). This history is the only place in which is found the letter of Innocent II confirming Stephen in his possession of the throne; and it also preserves some extracts of a letter of the pope concerning the schism. It is found only in C.C.C. Cambr. MS. (193, f. 3), and has been printed by Twysden (u.s.), by Canon Raine (u.s.), and by Mr. Howlett in ‘Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II,’ &c., vol. iii. in the Rolls Series. It has been translated by Stevenson in ‘Church Historians.’ Richard also designed to write the lives and miracles of Acca [q. v.] and other Hexham bishops, but it is not known whether he did so. There is a valueless life of Eata with the ‘Brevis Annotatio’ in MS. Ebor. xvi., which may be his work.

[The works of Richard as edited by Canon Raine and Mr. Howlett, u.s., with prefaces; John of Hexham, ap. Symeon of Durham, vol. ii. (Rolls Ser.); Hardy's Cat. of Mat. ii. 121 (Rolls Ser.); Bale's Scriptt. Brit. Cat. cent. iii. c. 32, p.</small