Gilbert of Sempringham

c.1083-1189. Founder of the Gilbertine Order. Son of a Norman knight who had come over with the Conqueror, Gilbert as parish priest of Sempringham encouraged seven women to adopt the Cistercian Rule and with the support of the king and many nobles formed a number of houses which, however, the authorities at Cîteaux refused in 1148 to incorporate. Accordingly he arranged for them to be supervised by Augustinian Canons, and thus were born the curious “mixed” Gilbertine communities, the only purely English order. There were nine houses at the time of Gilbert's death, and twenty-five at the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.