He was a man of counsel and had faithful advisers,
active officials and obedient sons who in filial affection supported
upon their shoulders the old age of their father
['The foundation history of Fountains' (Narratio)
in A. Oxford, The Ruins of Fountains Abbey, p.215]
William had begun his religious life as an Augustinian
Canon of Guisborough, but, ‘seeking greater perfection’,
he changed habit and entered the Cistercian life at Newminster,
a daughter-house of Fountains. William became abbot of Newminster
the house flourished under his guidance. William was, however,
a little over-zealous in his ascetic practices, subjecting his
body to extreme fasting and vigils, ‘making a virtuous act
less praiseworthy’, and moreover, weakening himself physically.
When William assumed the abbacy of Fountains in 1180, he was elderly.
This did not stand in the way of his administration of the house,
for he was supported by an able and reliable team of advisers.
William presided over the community for ten years, until his death.