Kirkstall, Hugh of (DNB00)


KIRKSTALL, HUGH of (fl. 1200), historian, was received as a Cistercian monk at Kirkstall, Yorkshire, by Ralph Haget, who was abbot there from 1181 to 1190. He was certainly living at Kirkstall in 1207, when he determined to write the history of Fountains Abbey, and sought information from an aged monk named Serlo. Serlo had, by his own account, entered Fountains about 1138, and was afterwards sent in succession to Barcnoldswic and Kirkstall, and was in the sixty-ninth year of his profession when he supplied Hugh with material for his history. For the literary form of the work Hugh would seem to be entirely responsible. The ‘Narracio de Fundatione Monasterii de Fontibus’ in its oldest extant form ends with Haget's translation to Fountains in 1190; the continuation down to 1219 may be by Hugh or by some other person. Leland saw and used a copy of the history, which contains matter not found in extant copies, and additions probably made after Hugh's death; his extracts are printed in the ‘Collectanea,’ vol. iv. Leland thus cites a reference to Stephen de Eston, abbot of Fountains from 1247 to 1252 (Coll. iv. 108). Tanner regarded this as proof that Hugh survived till that period, which, though possible, is not very likely. The only extant mediæval copy of the ‘Narracio’ is among the Gale MSS. at Trinity College, Cambridge. Bernard mentions a manuscript, ‘De Fontanensis Monasterii Origine,’ in the library of Sir Henry Langley, which cannot now be traced (Cat. MSS. Angliæ, ii. 216). There are, however, three late copies which differ somewhat from the Gale MS., and are apparently due to a common abbreviation of the original. These are Lansdowne MS. 404 and Arundel MS. 51 in the British Museum, and Dodsworth MS. 26 in the Bodleian. From the second Dugdale printed the chronicle in his ‘Monasticon Anglicanum’ (v. 292–303). The fuller text has been printed in ‘Memorials of Fountains Abbey’ (i. 1–128), edited by Mr. J. R. Walbran for the Surtees Society in 1863. Hugh is also credited with a work, ‘De Rebus a Cisterciensibus Monachis in Anglia Gestis,’ which is probably identical with the ‘History of Fountains.’ Tanner suggests that he was the Hugh the monk whose verses, ‘De Gestis et Laudibus Thurstini Eboracensis Archiepiscopi, cum ahis notabilibus quæ concernant Ecclesiam Ebor.,’ were formerly preserved in the library of the monastery of Sion. The fact that Thurstan was a patron of the Cistercians is favourable to this conjecture. Bale inadvertently calls Hugh ‘Hugh of Kirkstede.’

[Leland, Commentarii de Scriptt. Brit. p. 245, and Collectanea, iv. 105–9; Bale, iii. 81; Pits, p. 297; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 419; Dugdale's Monasticon, v. 292–303, 530–2; Mr. Walbran's preface to Memorials of Fountains, vol. i. pp. vii–xxi.]

C. L. K.