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The Ros (de Roos) family

Walter Espec, founder of the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx, died c. 1153 leaving no heirs. His inheritance therefore passed through Walter’s sisters to the Ros family of Holderness. It was Walter’s nephew, Robert Ros, who succeeded to the lordship of Helmsley and took over the patronage of Walter’s Cistercian foundation, Rievaulx, and his Augustinian priory at Kirkham.

The Ros family did not support Rievaulx as Walter had done, and relations between monastery and patron were rather strained. There was even open conflict in the thirteenth century when the abbot of Rievaulx challenged William Ros’ right to hunt in his woods at Helmsley. The Ros family was closer to its Augustinian foundation at Kirkham, where the family arms were carved above the gatehouse. A number of the family chose to be buried here rather than at Rievaulx, although in the fourteenth century several members chose to be interred at their Cistercian foundation. Robert Ros II, who died in 1227, was buried in the Templar’s church, London, where his tombstone can still be seen.