Withman (DNB00)

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WITHMAN (d. 1047?), abbot of Ramsey, called also Leucander and Andrew, was a German by birth (Chron. Abb. Rames. p. 121, Rolls Ser.), one of those apparently whom Cnut gathered round him. Green, on what authority does not appear, places Withman among the royal chaplains who, under Cnut, were first organised for administrative purposes (Conquest of England, pp. 544–5). Withman was promoted in 1016 to the great abbacy of Ramsey (Chron. Abb. Rames. App. p. 340). He was a hard student and a man of stern character, whose discipline involved him in serious disputes with his monks. Against the latter he appealed to the diocesan, Ætheric; but the bishop, having visited the house, gave decision in favour of the monks, reminding the abbot of the breadth and tolerance of St. Benedict's great rule (ib. pp. 121–3). Withman thereupon set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, whence he returned to find his successor in the abbacy appointed. The new abbot, Æthelstan, at once offered to resign, but Withman refused to allow him, and himself retired to a solitary spot near Ramsey, called Northeye. Here, with one companion and two servants, and supported by the abbey, he lived over twenty-six years, dying probably about 1047 (ib. pp. 125, 340). Withman is said to have enjoyed the friendship of Edward the Confessor, whom he persuaded to give certain lands to the abbey in 1047 (ib. pp. 160, 340). He wrote a life of the Persian bishop St. Ivo or St. Ives, whose remains were supposed to be buried at Ramsey. The original is apparently lost, but a revision by Goscelin [q. v.] is printed in the ‘Acta Sanctorum’ (ii. 288 seq.) and in Migne's ‘Patrologia’ (clv. p. 80). Bale also attributes to Withman a narrative of his journey to Jerusalem (Scriptt. Illustr. Brit. i. 151), of which, however, nothing further seems to be known.

[In addition to the chief authorities mentioned in the text, see Leland's Comment. de Scriptt. Brit. i. 166; Pits, De Illustr. Angl. Scriptt. p. 183; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 479; Dugdale's Monast. Angl. ii. 547; Wright's Biogr. Brit. Lit. i. 511–12; Freeman's Norman Conquest, ii. 79, 599.]

A. M. C.-e.