go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Text only version

Byland Abbey: Location

Byland Abbey: History
Later Middle Ages

Byland Abbey: Buildings
Chapter House
Warming House
Day Room
Lay Brothers' Range

Byland Abbey: Lands

Cistercian Life







Contact Us

The abbots of Byland

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 Pickering.

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.

Abbots of Byland
Name Dates Comments
Gerold, first abbot of Byland 1134-41 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 1142-96 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 1196-98 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. (1)
Hamo 1198-1203? Appears as witness to several agreements. (2)
Hugh 1203 - Occurs 1204.(3)
Herbert Occurs 1209 (4)
Walter Occurs (latest) 1212 Walter may have been deposed, for in 1218 he was summoned to Clairvaux, as the former abbot of Byland, to be punished. (5)
Robert 1219 - 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 in 1225-1226.(7)
Henry ?    
Henry de Battersby 1230-68? Occurs 1231-1268 and referred to as the former abbot of Byland late 1268. (8)
Adam of Husthwaite Occ. June 1272-1283 (9) Presides for a second term in the fourteenth century? See below.
Thomas Occurs 1285/6 (10)
John 1287-1302? John professed obedience in 1287; there are references to him as abbot in 1287, 1293 and 1302. (11)
William Occurs as aboot in 1302 and 1304 (12)  
Adam of Husthwaite Occurs in 1309/1314/1315 (13)  
John of Winkburn Occurs 1316/1317 (14)  
John 1318-? John professed obedience to the archbishop of York in June 1318. (15)
John of Myton 1322-? John professed obedience to the archbishop of York in July 1322; he is referred to as abbot in 1333. (16)
Walter of Dishforth (Yarm) 1334 ? In 1334 Walter professed obedience to Roland Jurz, archbishop of Armagh, who was officiating on behalf of the archbishop of York. Walter occurs as abbot in 1342. (17)
John 1349 - ? John was blessed and professed obedience to the archbishop of York in 1349; he occurs as abbot in 1355.(18)
William of Helmsley 1357 - William professed obedience to the archbishop in 1357; he occurs as abbot in 1362.
Read more
John of Difford Dead by 1360 John was styled as ‘true abbot’, a reference to his predecessor, William of Helmsley, who was accused of securing the abbacy through bribery.(19)
UNNAMED ABBOT 1364/7 ?  
Robert of Helmsley 1370 - ? The reference to an abbot of Byland who was in 1386 about fifty years old, may refer to Robert.(20)
Geoffrey of Pickering Occurs 1397. 1400 Abbot Geoffrey may have been the Geoffrey of Byland, who was regent master in Oxford, 1393 and who wrote on the revelations of St Bridget of Sweden.(21)
William (Helperby) Occurs 1435-69 (22)  
Thomas Kilburn Occurs 1479 (23)  
Thomas Ferlington/Farlington Elected 1499 (24)  
John Alanbridge 1525-38 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

<Byland home>