Newborough, William Of

, commonly known by his Latin name of Gul. Neubrigensis, an early English historian, was born at Bridlington in Yorkshire, in the first year of king Stephen’s reign, 1136, and educated in the abbey of Newborough, of which he became a member. Besides the name of Neubrigensis, which he derived from his abbey, we find him called Parvus, or “Little;” but whether this was a surname or nickname, is somewhat dubious. Tanner notices him under the name of Petyt; and Nicolson says, that his true surname was Little; and that he calls himself Petit, or Parvus. Hearne allows that others called him so but does not remember where he styles himself so. Mr. Denne thinks it remarkable, that with allusion to himself, he twice uses the word “Parvitas,” thereby insinuating how little qualified he was to discharge the office of a historiographer, or to hastily | form a judgment of the actions of so great a man as Becket.

Neubrigensis’s history, published at Paris, with Picard’s notes, 1610, 8vo, then by Gale, and lastly, and more correctly, by Hearne, 3 vols. Oxon. 1719, 8vo, begins with the Norman conquest, and ends with the year 1197, and is written in a good Latin style. He has, however, not escaped the credulity of his times and his profession; and perhaps his want of correctness may be attributed to his writing this history in advanced life, when the events of former years were beginning to fade from his memory. Henry compliments him for “regularity of disposition;” but to that he seems to have paid very little attention, and it is the desultory method in which he ranges his materials that affords a strong presumptive proof that he depended most on his own resources, and had not before him any connected chronicle of the times. We have noticed his high respect for Becket, but he had nothing of this for Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose veracity he attacks with great severity. Some writers attribute this to his disappointment in not succeeding Geoffrey in the bishopric of St. Asaph. Hence, says Nicolson, he “fell into a mad humour of decrying the whole principality of Wales, its history, antiquity, and all that belongs to it.” Whatever his motive, some of his strictures on Geoffrey are not without foundation. 1


Tanner.—Nicolson.—Hearne.—Archæologia, vol. IX.—Henry’s Hist. of Great Britain.