RIBSTON AND THE OLD KNIGHT MONKS
RIBSTON AND THE OLD KNIGHT MONKS
Historic domain of Ribston, where for many ages there flourished that united, brave and chivalrous company of soldier-monks, who fulfilled in a remarkable manner the glorious mission of Christ amid untold difficulties and privations.
Norman lords at Ribston - The Trussebuts - Acquisition of Ribston by De Ros AD1170 - Early local proprietors - The Knights Templars and Hospitallers - Their origin and objects - Their power and wealth - Gift of Ribston etc to the Templars - Citation of first charter - Establishment of the Preceptory - The family of De Ros - Account of De Ros effigies in the Temple Church - Grant by King John - Early markets at Walshford and Wetherby - Claim from tolls at Wetherby - Grant of Free Warren - Dissolution of the Templars - Transfer of their property to the Hospitallers - Grant of corrode - The rule of the Hospitallers at Ribston - Dissolution of monasteries - Grant of Ribston to the Duke of Suffolk - Sale to Henry Goodricke - The family of Goodricke - The last heir of the Goodrickes - Purchase of Ribston by the Dents - Biographical notices
Ribston Magna, or Great Ribston, as previously explained at Hunsingore, was twenty years after the Conquest acquired by Ralph Paganel, and from this early owner we are able to trace the history of Ribston steadily forward through all the stirring vicissitudes of its semi-military reclusory to the fall of the monasteries in 1540. The charters and documents preserved at Ribston Hall are, however, very numerous, and some of them (of exquisite calligraphy) yet remain to be deciphered. But from such as have come to light I shall select those which appear the most important and interesting, as illustrating the turning points in the history of the manor from the deposition of its pre-Norman proprietors to the foundation of the Preceptory in 1217, a brief century of the reign of that house, its temporary retention by the Crown, and subsequent acquisition in 1323 by the Hospitallers of St John, to the general Dissolution as above stated.
The successor to Ralph Paganel or Paynel, who held Ribston, as narrated in AD1086, was Galfridus, or Geoffrey filius Pagani, * (as he is described by Dugdale in the baronage), who in 1132 founded the Priory at Wartre in Harthill, Holderness, at no great distance from the Roman station of Delgovitia.
Much confusion has arisen with respect to these early Paganels. There were evidently two Ralph’s, the elder being son of William, the hero of the Conquest, and the other son of Fulk, the brother of Ralph the elder, who was consequently uncle to the younger Ralph. Ralph the elder was probably only a boy when he came to England with his father at the Conquest, and on the death of the latter inherited his possessions. This Ralph probably died about AD1130, as in the Pipe Rolls of the 30th Henry I (1130 - 1) mention is made of his son William paying what was in fact the succession duty. Unfortunately the early history of the Paganels has never been clearly worked out, although in a paper prepared by the late Mr Stapleton for the Archaeological Institute at York, in 1846, we have a very valuable and lengthy record of the Paganels, but Mr Stapleton has not, for very obvious reasons, ventured to elaborate a pedigree.
This same Geoffrey Fitz-Paign was a man of great distinction in the time of Henry I, and among other of his pious benefactions was the donation of the Chapel of All Saints, Skewkirk, near Kirk Hammerton, to Nostel Priory, in AD1114. His son William, surnamed Trussebut, was not less prominent in affairs of the time, and according to Dugdale he took to wife Albreda, daughter of -------Harecurt, one of the co-heirs of Maude de Dover, and the said Albreda calls the “canons of Scokirk” her and her husband’s own canons.
The arms and whence the name of this old Norman family were Trois bouts de l’eau, ie three leather butts of water, which appear on some of the seals etc.
The said William Trussebut had three sons and three daughters, but the sons dying without issue, the Trussebut property came into the hands of the three daughters, Roesia, Hyllaria, and Agatha. By the marriage of Rose Trussebut with Everard de Ros the lands at Ribston were inherited by the powerful family of De Ros, founders of the Preceptory at Ribston, to which I shall presently refer.
This important alliance took place in the reign of Henry II, about AD1170, and Everard de Ros died before the year 1186. We have some vivid pictures of the state of Ribston, and of the names and particular holdings of the people seven centuries ago, presented to us in a number of charters and bequests of lands to St Leonard’s Hospital, York, which are preserved in the Rawlinson Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Amongst these the following citation is especially interesting as showing by whom certain lands, apparently in Little Ribston, had been held at this period, or before the establishment of the Preceptory at Great Ribston:
William, son of Osbert de Ribbestain, gave Ralph de Ribbestain, with all the lands, which he held of William. Robert de Ribbestain gave the land in Ribbestain, which was Godwin’s in toft and croft. Peter, son of Nigel de Plumpton, gave a toft in Parva Ribbestain, near the toft of Malgar and under Loslay; 5 roods of land, which lie between the land of Robert, son of Uckman de Plumpton, and the land of John Beaugrant, of Ribbestain; and 1.5 roods in Linlandes. William, son of Waltheof, gave one bovate in Ribbstayn, which Malger, son of Godwin, held, with 2 tofts, which the said Malger held in exchange for 14 acres of land in the fields of Ribston, of which acres are in Copthwaite, and 7 in Estridenges. This transaction took place between AD1191 and 1206. John, son of William de Beaugrant, gave all his lands in Ribbestain, which Malger had of William, his father. Robert, son of Ralph de Ribstan, gave a toft in Ribstan, nearest on the south side to the toft which Simon held of the Church of Spofforth, and 13 acres of land in the field of Ribstan, of which 5 lies in Whiteflat etc.
In the Dodsworth MSS it is stated under the head of Partitio Feodi de Robert Trussebut that Roesia de Ros had Ribbestain, Hunsingor, and Walshford, cum molendinis etc. In the inquisition of Temple Lands made in the 32nd Henry II (AD1185) no mention is made of Ribston or Walshford. The Templars at Ribston were not instituted until AD1217 or nearly a century after the introduction of the Order in England.
As this remarkable federation of military monks had a most potent influence on the lives and manners of the people during a period when religious heroism and devotion were at their zenith, it will not be impertinent to review briefly the causes which led up to the foundation of the interesting Commandery on the Nidd. I should in the first place observe that there were two orders of the religio-military brotherhood in Europe, which though distinct in themselves arose out of the same vow, and were really formed for the same object, but the precise origin and vocation of each have not always been clearly defined. The first and oldest of these Orders was the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of St John of Jerusalem, and the other the Knights Templars, the latter being represented in this part of the country, by the houses at Temple Hurst, near Snaith, (founded in 1152), Temple Newsam, near Leeds, (founded in 1181), and at Ribston, the subject of these memoirs. Now some three centuries after the death of our Saviour there was made the ever-memorable discovery of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, a discovery attributed, it is said, to the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor. Over the sacred tomb the Emperor Constantine soon afterwards erected the large and very beautiful Church of the Resurrection, now commonly designated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Then began those pilgrimages to the Holy City, which, as history recounts, for long centuries continued to be the unhappy scene of rapine, murder, and hostility; of conquest and surrender; attracting from all quarters of Christian Europe the flower of rank and chivalry, and in which remarkable enterprises our own English Crusaders played a notable part. It was mainly through the fatigues and trials endured on these arduous marches that the Knights of St John, or the Hospitallers, were called into existence. They were regular monks, whose chief duty appears to have been to shelter and attend upon the sick and way-worn pilgrims. Their hospitals and houses of entertainment spread throughout Europe and the East, and by grants of various lands and other bequests the fraternity rose rapidly in popular favour, and ultimately became one of the wealthiest and most powerful organisations in the world.
It was a similar impulse to serve the pilgrims to the Holy Land that begot the sacred military order of the Knights Templars, or Soldiers of the Red Cross, so called because on their habit of white, which was worn over a suit of mail, there was displayed a blood-red cross (a symbol of martyrdom) on the left breast. Their principal duty was to take charge of the highways, and by protecting the pilgrims through the difficult and little known passes that led to the Holy City, thus minimise the dangers of the road. They also took the field and were in the van at all the great battles against the Saracens, including those of Gaza, Jaffa and Ramleh, as well as at the relentless sieges of Jerusalem and the still more terrible siege of Acre, where during the first year of the campaign 100,000 Christians are computed to have perished. These warrior monks also in various ways assisted, like the Hospitallers, in the suppression of infidelity and in the promotion of the Christian belief. Having, however, as Mr Addison tells us, no church nor any particular place of abode, Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, granted them in 1118 a place of habitation within the sacred enclosure of the Temple on Mount Moriah, whence the soldier-monks came to be known as “The Knighthood of the Temple of Solomon,” and afterwards as “Knights Templars,” or “Knights of the Temple.”
Such, in few words, were the origin and objects of these two great military societies, which by a persevering trust and rare fortitude shook the very faith - nay even the traditions of the infidels, and established for the Christians, not only in Palestine but in all civilised parts, many precious rights and privileges. “The flower of the nobility of Europe,” writes Gibbon, “aspired to wear the cross and profess the vows of those respectable Orders; the spirit and discipline were immortal, and the speedy donation of 28,000 farms and manors enabled them to support a regular force of cavalry and infantry for the defence of Palestine.” Their benefactions were indeed of the most unstinted character, single gifts being often of surprising proportions; the most remarkable perhaps being that of Philip II, King of France, who early in the 13th century bequeathed to them the munificent sum of £100,000. Altogether their income from lands in Europe was probably not less than £5,000,000 sterling per annum.
The monument, above is thought to have been brought from Helmsley in the year 1682. It now lies by itself in the south side of the Round near to the stone seat in the Temple Church.
In Yorkshire the Templars received many splendid bequests, and among the principal benefactors to the Order was the wealthy family of De Ros, who as I have shown came into possession of the Ribston estates about AD1170. The family was settled in Normandy in the preceding century and joined the Conqueror in his determined invasion of England. Contemporary with the Conqueror was William de Ros, third Abbot of Fecamp, who died in 1107, and whom Hildebert, Bishop of Mans, has apparently with reason and justice commemorated in laudatory verse. Peter de Ros was living in Yorkshire in the reign of Henry I. He married Adeline l’Espec, co-heiress of her brother Walter l’Espec, founder of Rievaulx Abbey, and left a son, Robert de Ros the elder, who is well known for his benefactions to the newly founded community of Knights Templars. Everard de Ros, son of Robert de Ros, was like his father, specially charitable to the Templars, and Robert de Ros, surnamed Fursan, son of Everard, by Rose co-heiress of the Trussebuts, built the castles of Helmsley (anciently called Hamelac) in north Yorkshire, and Werke in Northumberland. He it was, too, who in 1217 gave “to God and the Blessed Mary and the brethren of the Soldiery of the Temple, my manor of Ribston, with the advowson of the Church of the same vill and the hamlet of Walshford with the mills of the same hamlet,” etc. He married in 1191, Isabella, daughter of William the Lion, King of Scotland, and widow of Robert the Bruce, and was one of the 25 barons appointed to enforce the decrees of the Magna Carat.
Dugdale in the Baronage wrongly ascribes the deed of gift of Ribston made by Robert de Ros to the Templars, to the first Robert, a mistake however which is corrected in the Monasticon, where it is stated that this manor (Ribston) was given to the Knights Templars by Robert Lord Ros the second, or Fursan, in the latter end of the reign of King Richard First, or the beginning of that of John.
The original charter of bequest (undated) was preserved at Ribston Hall, and is translated as follows:
To all the faithful of Christ to whom this present writing of Robert de Ros shall come Health in the Lord. Be it known to all of you that I by intuition of divine piety and for the health of my soul and those of my ancestors and successors have given granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to God and Blessed Mary and the Brethren and the Knighthood of the Temple, my manor of Ribston with the advowson of the Church of the same township and the vill of Walshford with the mills of the said vill, and with all other their appurtenances and franchises and free customs and easements to wit with demesnes and homage’s, with free tenants and rents, assises and villenage with woods and plains, with meadows and pastures, with ways and paths, with waters and mills, with pools and fishponds, with moors and marshes, with turbaries and all commons, with free entries and exits in all things and places within the vill and without to the aforesaid manor of Ribston appertaining without any withholding. As wholly as I ever held the said manor entirely with it’s appurtenances. To have and to hold to the aforesaid brethren of the Knighthood of the Temple in pure free and perpetual alms as freely quietly and unburdened as any alms can be freely well and quietly given to any religious house. And this gift I have made to God and St Mary and the aforesaid brethren of the Knighthood of the Temple with my body and in aid of the Holy Land in the East with all improvements, which the said brethren in the said manors and its appurtenances shall make. And I the aforesaid Robert and my heirs the aforesaid gift with advowson of the aforesaid church and all their appurtenances to the aforesaid brethren of the Knighthood of the Temple against all men will warrant acquit and defend forever. In order therefore that this donation, concession, and confirmation of my charter may have firm effect I have strengthened it with the impression of my seal. These being witnesses, Robert de Veteri Ponte, Martin de Pateshill, John fitz Robert, Brian de Lisle, William de Lisle, Richard Duket, Robert de Cokefeld, William de Tameton, William de Barton, Walter de Soureby, Walter de Wildeker, Adam de Linton, Robert de Garton, and many others.
This deed is referred to in the Masticon and in the Liber Johannis Stillingflete, and was probably executed just before the death of the testator, Robert de Ros. Andrew, Prior of Kirkham, Richard, Prior of Warte, (to 1223), etc witnessed a second (undated) deed of Robert de Ros, couched in much the same terms. A third attested deed by William de Ros, son of Robert, is also preserved at Ribston, in which William “gives and confirms” to the Brethren of the Temple “all the manor of Ribston, with the advowson of the same vill, and the hamlet of Walshford with the mill of the same vill, and the vill of Hunsingore with the mill of the same, and the vill of Cahale (Cattal) and the lands in Copmanthorpe (Cowthorpe), which said lands and vills with their appurtenances the said Brethren have of the gift of Robert de Ros my father.” This document is attested by the same signatures as those appended to the above quoted deed of Robert de Ros, and as the son William was of full age at the death of his father it was most likely effected shortly after that event, or early in the reign of Henry III.
There is a strong probability that Hunsingore formed the first donation to the Templars, and that their settlement was first at that place, because in the deed of gift of Robert de Ros it is stated that he gives and confirms to God and the blessed Mary etc, “totam villam de Hunsingore”, while in the other grant the manor of Ribston and the lands at Cattal are described as “mine”. The possessive epithet, be it also observed, is not repeated in the deeds of William, and in the old Ribston Rent Rolls, (hereafter mentioned), contemporary with the foundation of the Preceptory there is the suggestive entry: “Hvuiot pro custodia castri,” which, however, may refer to some castle or keep on the river at Hunsingore, or to the temple at Ribston.
In the chapel are copies of the coat’s of arm’s belonging to the owner’s of Ribston from 1100 to the present day, these can be found on the ceiling.
NO.1. BARON De ROS.
NO.2. ARMS OF THE TEMPLARS.
NO.3. AMARIC De SMAUR. MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.4. ALAN MARCEL, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.5. ROBERT MOUNTFORD, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.6. ROBERT SANDFORD, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.7. HIMBERT PERAUT, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
No.8. GUIDO De La MORE, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.9. BRIAN Le JAY, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.I0. WILLIAM De La MORE. MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.II. EDWARD II. KING
NO.12. WILTIAM De SLINGSBY.
NO.13. ARMS OF THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS OF ST. JOHN OF JERUSALEM.
NO.I4. WILLIAM D’AUNAY, GRAND PRIOR OF THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN.
NO.15. RORERT LONG, GRAND PRIOR OF THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN.
NO.16. JEAN RANSON, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE.
NO.17. BABINGTON GRAND PRIOR OF THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN.
NO.18. SIR.THOMAN DOCWRA, GRAND PRIOR OF THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN.
NO.19. HENRY VIII. KING
NO.20. CHARLES BRANDON, DUKE OF SUFFOLK KNIGHT.
NO.21. HENRY GOODRICKE. 1542