Gilbertines

The only purely English religious order, founded by Saint Gilbert at Sempringham, England c.1130, starting with seven women, later increased with lay brothers and lay sisters. The Cistercian Rule was adopted. Gilbert traveled to Citeaux, France, c.1148, and asked the assembled Cistercian abbots to direct his Order. His request was refused, however, as the Cistercians did not wish to take charge of the government of women. Gilbert therefore founded a community of canons regular under the Rule of Saint Augustine to act as chaplains and spiritual directors to the nuns. Absolute authority was vested in a “master” called “Prior of All.” During Gilbert‘s life 13 houses were founded, four of which were for men only; all were in England except two in Westmeath, Ireland. The order was favored by the Crown from its foundation until the dissolution of monasteries, when the last Master, Robert Holgate, surrendered the houses, 26 by that time, without resistance.