The following table lists the abbots of Byland
from the foundation of the community at Calder in 1134, until the
surrender of the abbey to the royal commissioners in November
1538. Today, there are gaps in our knowledge of all who
presided as abbot and the precise dates of their abbacies. The
mid-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is especially patchy, in
particular the period following the abbacy of Geoffrey
The information below is drawn essentially from
C. Clay, ‘The
early abbots of the Yorkshire Cistercian houses’, Yorkshire
Arch. Journal (1955), pp. 8-43, at pp. 10-12; The Heads
of Religious Houses in England and Wales II 1216-1377, ed.
D. M. Smith (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 269-270; Victoria County
Histories, Yorkshire III, pp.
133-134; Monks, Friars and Nuns, ed. C. Cross and N. Vickers, Yorkshire
Arch. Soc. Record Ser. 150 (1995) pp. 100-101.
Gerold led the Savigniac group from Furness to Calder in 1134, to establish a new community in Cumberland. He saw the monks through difficult times as they fled from Calder, were repelled from Furness and sought shelter at Hood. Read more
Roger led the community to three new sites and after the Savigniacs’ absorption by the Cistercian Order in 1147, he oversaw their transition to the Cistercian way of life. Read more
Philip’s was a short but memorable abbacy, for he compiled
the foundation history of the house in 1197, which is now a
chief source for the early history of Byland. He may also have
compiled the anonymous foundation history of Jervaulx.
Philip had previously presided as abbot of Lannoy in Beauvais.
Walter may have been deposed, for in 1218 he was summoned
to Clairvaux, as
the former abbot of Byland, to be punished. (5)
Robert is referred to as abbot until 1230; in 1243 he was
described as the former abbot of the house.(6) Robert
was called upon to settle the dispute between Fountains and Sawley;
he also helped resolve conflict between Byland and Fountains
Henry de Battersby
Occurs 1231-1268 and referred to as the former abbot of Byland
late 1268. (8)
John was a Yorkshireman and served as cellarer
of Byland from 1522 until his appointment as abbot in 1525.
John presided over the community until the closure of the monasteries
by Henry VIII. Read more