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Speck, his father, and that Walter Espec, though Miles Strenuus, could only be so in the service of King Henry."
Three successive years are named as the years of the foundation of Rievaulx Abbey-A.D. 1131, 1132, and 1133. The latter is the date quoted in the genealogy of Ros, where the statement stands: "Walterus Especke miles strenuus conquestoris tria fundavit monasteria I de Kirkham A.D. 1122 II de Rievall 1133 111 de Wardon 1136." As regards the other two years named, the following extract from the Hexham Book (S. S., p. 108) will bring the matter fairly before us: Anno MCXXXII Walterus Espec vir magnus et potens in conspectu regis et totius regni, monachos Cisterciensis observantiæ, directos a Bernardo, Abbate vallis recepit et posuit in solitudine Blachamour secus aquam Rie, a qua cœnobium eorum Rievallis dicitur cum quibus missus est Willelmus primus Abbas eorum vir consummate virtutis, et excellentis memoriæ apud posteros"; while to this mention of Rievaulx is subjoined in a note: "Rievaux was the earliest Cistercian house in the North of England, and Prior John of Hexham could not pass over the foundation of a monastery which was the mother of Melrose, and was presided over by the famous Aeldred, who was a native of Hexham, a place which had good reason to remember him." And further: "Anno 1132 tertio nonas Martii facta est Abbatia Sanctæ Mariæ de Rie-valle die Sabbati," says the historian of Melrose (Chron., ed. Bann. Club, 69), and this is the date usually given. The donation, however, which brought the monks to that place had been made in 1131, when L'Espec gave "grif et Tilestona" to St. Bernard for the construction of an abbey (Registrum Chartarum Monasterii Rievallensis, MS. Cotton, Julius D I.). The chronicle of Segebert correctly ascribes the beginning of Rievaulx to this year (German. rerum Chronographi, ed. 1566, 138b). Mr. De Gray Birch, in his paper already referred to, says: "There is every reason to suppose that the lists were compiled from the archives of Citeaux itself, because the actual date of so many and such distant abbeys could not have been procured from any other source in those days. But, with the solitary reference in Archdale's Monasticon Hibernicum, treating of the abbey at Derry, this MS.
does not appear to have ever been made use of by the historians of religious orders, at least as far as Great Britain is concerned."
The entry of Rievaulx in this MS. is: "MCXXXJ iij Nonis Marcii Abbatia Longi Pontis eodem die et anno Abbatia Rievallis"; and at p. 357 of the same vol. of our Journal Mr. Birch supplements this list by a somewhat similar list in another MS. among the Cottonian MSS. (Brit. Mus., MS. Cotton., Vespasian A, v. 1, f. 546). "It is written," he says, "in a hand cotemporary with the last year (1247) which is entered in the series." In this list Rievaulx is thus entered: "MCXXXJ de Rievalle." Thus the MS. Cotton. Faustina agrees as to the day and month with the historian of Melrose, though both he and the Hexham Book give the year 1132; but if Mr. De Gray Birch's conjecture that the MS. Faustina was compiled from the archives of Citeaux itself is correct, the year 1131 would be the date of the foundation of the abbey. The original charter is without date, but in a cartulary of Rievaulx Abbey preserved among the Cottonian MSS., and printed by Dugdale as No. V, and by him headed "Ex Registro Abbatiæ de Rievaulx in Bibl. Cott. sub effigie Julii D 1, fo. 15a, A.D. M.C.tricessimo primo", the possessions of the Abbey are given the first of which is "In principio datæ sunt ix carrucatæ terræ Beat. Bernardo Abbati Clarevallensi scil Grif et Tillistona ad construendam ibi Abbatiam A.D. MCXXX primo. Deinde post aliquot annos dedit Oda de Bolthebi Domino Willielmo Abbati Hestelscuit cum pertinenciis suis. A.D. MCXLV dedit nobis Walterus Espec Bildesdale cum pertinenciis suis."
In the charter," he gives and grants, with the consent of Hen. King of England, and the counsel of Aulina his wife, to God and to the Church of St. Marie de Rievalle, in the hand of William the Abbot, and to the same brethren serving God, for the love of God and the health of the soul of King William of England, and for the health of Henry King of England and of all his parents, and for the health of the soul of my father and mother, and for the soul of Hugo de Wildecher, and for the souls of the father and mother of my wife, and of all our parents and ancestors, 9 carrucates of land, 'scil' terram
de Griff", where are 4 carrucates, and the land of Thillestona, where are 5 carrucates with their appurtenances. And the grant ends thus: "Hanc Abbatiam Rievallensem fundavi ego Walterus Espec consilio et concessu Turstini Archiepiscopi Ebor concessu etiam et consilio Henrici Regis Anglorum Dominus Papa Innocentis auctoritate apostolica hæc omnia confirmante."
The date of this charter, says Mr. Atkinson, must be contemporaneous with the grant of Bilsdale in 1145, as it defines as precisely the north-east boundaries of Bilsdale as in marking out those of Griff and Tilston.
It is worthy of note that this charter makes no mention of Walter Espec's son among the persons enumerated for whose souls' health the grant was made, and Mr. Atkinson uses this omission to discredit the story of there having been a son, and prefers to think that Espec was influenced "by the same spirit as St. Bernard rather than that he designed to charter a seat in heaven by a foregone inheritance on earth". Whatever may have been his original motive in founding the Abbey, it is clear, from the mention of the numerous persons for whose souls' health his grants were made, that he felt the obligation which was then laid so heavily on those who sought the consolations of religion, and that the omission of his son from the benefits he conferred on others points more to the fact that he never had a child, and thus to discredit the usually received story of the origin of the foundation of the Abbey.
It will be observed that the entry in the Cartulary, Julius D, states that the nine carucates of land, Griff and Tillestona, were given to St. Bernard, Abbot of Clarevallis, for constructing an Abbey A.D. 1131. The charter grants to God and to the church of St. Maria de Rievaulx, in the hand of William the Abbot, and to the brethren of the Abbey. St. Bernard sent over the monks who formed the first capitular body in 1128. The MS. Cott. Faustina gives the date of the foundation,“A.D. 1131, iij Nonis Marcii". The historian of Melrose gives "1132 tertio nonas Martii facta est Abbatia", etc. May not these apparently conflicting dates be thus reconciled? St. Bernard sent over his monks prior to or in the year 1131. Walter Espec gave them the nine carucates of land
in that year, by livery of seizin or some mode of conveyance of which no record is extant beyond the registration in the Abbey of Citeaux on the date given in the MS. Faustina, B., "1131, tertio nonis Marcii." The monks then proceeded to form their Order, clear the ground, and erect suitable buildings, but at first only of a temporary character. Then at the time the charter was granted by Espec the Monastery had been constituted. There were an Abbot, William, and brethren, who formed a corporate body who could receive the grant, which would supersede the informal gift to St. Benedict in 1131, although that was the real foundation of the Abbey, and as such was registered in the Abbey of Citeaux. This is consistent with the final clause of the charter: "I,Walter Espec, have founded (fundavi) this Abbey, Rievalle", etc.; not by that charter, but previously, as a reason for the grant contained in the charter. The date of 1132, given by the historian of Melrose, may be a mistake for 1131, especially as he gives the same day of the month, the 3rd none of March, as is given in the MS. Faustina; or it may refer to the Abbey having got into working order, the words used being "Facta est Abbatia"; and as to the date of 1133, I have not met with anything which can give this date any preference over that of 1131.
We take it then that the year of grace 1131 saw the monks sent over by St. Bernard, with their first Abbot, William, at their head, in possession of the land given to them by Walter Espec. William of Newburgh describes the locality in which they settled at that time as a horrid and vast solitude ("horride et vastæ solitudinis"); and when we look back upon this wild, uncultured waste, and consider how much the sympathy we, in these days, feel for the beauties of nature arises from the higher culture of the mind and spirit, we may learn to appreciate at its full value the devotion of these old monks as they went forth, under the primeval commission, to replenish the earth and subdue it, and to develop the industrial activities of the country, and lay the foundations of English enterprise and English commerce, until, in the words of the old Hebrew prophet, "the wilderness and the solitary places were glad for them, and the desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose."
Walter Espec, in addition to the grants of land already mentioned, gave to the Abbey the wood and pannage for their hogs out of his forest in Hamelac. Dugdale says he also gave the manor of Hamelac; but I cannot find it in any of the charters, and the Bull of Pope Alexander III only mentions the wood and pannage in the forest. He is described in the Cotton MS., Vitellius, F. 4 (Dug., No. 11), as broken down with old age ("senio confractus"), having William, an heir of his body, lawfully begotten; but the residue of his lands he divided between his three sisters, his successors by hereditary right,Hauwissa, married to William Buscye; Albrada, married to Nicholas de Traybye; and Adelina, married to Peter de Roos. But to Adelina he gave specially the advowson of Kirkham and Rievallis; and after assuming the habit of a monk at Rievalle for two years, he finished his temporal life, and was buried in his church "vij Idus Marcii A.D. Mcliij. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus. Amen."
The example set by Walter Espec was not long in bearing fruit, and the benefactors to the Abbey were numerous. We cannot do more than refer to a few to which attention may be specially directed.
A grant made by John de Ever in the octave of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 1302, releasing all his right and title in the pastures of the forest, or officers thereof, upon the account of their lands and tenements in Westerdale, as also of Brockton and Kirby in Cleveland, and the homages due to him on that account, contained a condition that if the said lands, in part or in whole, should ever come into lay hands, they should all return to him or his heirs. It would be interesting to know whether John de Ever's heirs at the Dissolution resumed the rights he had thus granted; and it may be worth considering whether some such conditions might not be inserted in modern grants to ecclesiastical uses, to counteract the effect of a policy of disendowment.
Pope Alexander III, by his Bull dated the twelfth of the kalends of December, A.D. 1160, granted to Elred, Abbot of St. Mary's at Rievaulx, his brethren and their successors, a confirmation of all their possessions, with divers privileges, and in particular that they might celebrate the Divine Offices in the time of a general interdict;