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

Fountains Abbey: Location

Fountains Abbey: History
Trials and Tribulations
Strength and Stability
End of Monastic Life

Fountains Abbey: Buildings
Chapter House
Warming House
Day Room
Lay Brothers' Range
Abbots House
Outer Court

Fountains Abbey: Lands

Fountains Abbey: People

Cistercian Life






Contact Us


There are two primary sources which record details about the abbots of Fountains: the ‘Foundation history of Fountains’ (Narratio), compiled by Hugh of Kirkstall in the early thirteenth century and the fifteenth-century ‘President's Book’. The former details each abbacy from the foundation of Fountains until John of Kent (d. 1247); the ‘President’s Book’ adds information regarding subsequent abbots. Important secondary sources, which often offer a corrective to these primary sources, are The Heads of Religious Houses England and Wales 940-1216 , rev. edn. D. Knowles, C. N. L. Brooke, V. London (Cambridge, 2001); The Heads of Religious Houses England and Wales II 1216-1377 , ed. D. Smith and V. London (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 279-281; C. Clay, ‘The early abbots of the Yorkshire Cistercian houses’, Yorkshire Arch. Journal 38 (1955), pp. 8-43 at pp. 13-21 and Monks, Friars and Nuns in Sixteenth-Century Yorkshire, ed. C. Cross and N. Vickers, Yorkshire Arch. Soc. Record Ser. 150 (1995). Where there are discrepancies, the recently edited volumes of Heads of Religious Houses have been followed.

Abbots of Fountains
Name Dates Comments
Richard 1132-39: died of fever in Rome Read more
Richard (II) 1139-43 Read more
Henry Murdac 1144-47 Read more
Maurice 1147-8; resigned Maurice is not listed in the ‘President’s Book’ (Chronicle of Abbots). he was also abbot of Rievaulx.(1) Read more
Thorold 1148-50 (resigned) Thorald is not listed in the ‘President’s Book’ (Chronicle of Abbots). Thorald, who had been a monk of Rievaulx, was a strong personality who clashed with Henry Murdac, archbishop of York and former abbot of Fountains. Accordingly, Thorald was encouraged to resign from office and return to Rievaulx. He later went to Clairvaux and in c. 1151 was promoted to the abbacy of Tres-Fontaines, Champagne.(2)
Richard (III) 1150-70 Read more
Robert of Pipewell 1170-80 Read more
William of Newminster 1180-90 Read more
Ralph Haget 1190-1203 Read more
John of York 1203-11 Read more
John of Hessle 1211-20: Bishop of Ely (1220-25) Read more
John of Kent 1220-47 Read more
Stephen of Easton 1247-52 Read more
William of Allerton 1252-58 William served as prior of Fountains, and was later promoted to the abbacy. He was buried in Fountains’ chapter-house.(4)
Adam 1258-59 Adam was buried in the chapter house at Fountains. (5)
Alexander 1259-65 Alexander was buried in the chapter house at Fountains. (6)
Reginald Occurs 1267 (7) Reginald was buried in the chapter house at Fountains. (8)
Peter Ayling 1275-79 (resigned?); d.1282 (9) Peter, it seems, resigned from the abbacy; the abbey was in debt to the Jews at this time. He was buried in Fountains’ chapter-house. (10)
Nicholas 1279 Nicholas was buried in the chapter house (11)
Adam Ravensworth 1280-4 Adam was buried in the chapter house (12)
Henry Otley 1289?-90 (resigned) (13) Henry may have resigned. He was buried at the entrance to the chapter-house at Fountains. (14)
Robert Thornton c.1289-90 (resigned?); d. 1306. Robert is referred to as ‘one-time abbot of Fountains’ which suggests he resigned from the abbacy before his death in 1306. He was buried in the chapter-house. (15)
Robert Bishopton c.1290/1-1311 Robert enjoyed a long but troubled abbacy. The community was in great debt to the Jews at this time (£6 373) and had to disband, temporarily, to recoup its finances. Robert was buried in the chapter-house. (16)
William Rigton 1311-16 William was buried in the chapter house, beofre the lectern.(17)
Walter Coxwold 1316-36 (resigned) Walter died two years after his resignation and was buried in the chapter-house.(18)
Robert Copgrove 1336-46 Robert was buried in the chapter house at Fountains.(19)
Robert Monkton 1346-69 Robert was buried in the church at Fountains, before the altar of St Peter.(20)
William Gower 1369-84 (resigned) William became blind in old age and resigned from the abbacy two years before his death in 1390. He was buried before the chapel of nine altars.(21)
Robert Burley 1383-1410 Read more
Roger Frank 1410 Read more
John Ripon 1416-34 Read more
Thomas Paslew 1434-43 Read more
John Martin 1442 Read more
John Greenwell 1442-71 Read more
Thomas Swinton 1471-78 (resigned) Read more
John Darnton 1479-95 Read more
Marmaduke Huby 1495-1526 Read more
William (Perte) Thirsk 1526-36 Read more
Marmaduke Bradley 1536-39 Read more