The project 'Monks in Motion', led by Dr James Kelly of Durham University, is shedding light on the lives of the Benedictine monks from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. This newly launched database details the membership and activities of the English and Welsh Benedictine order from the time of Mary I's reign until 1800.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII, the first English Benedictine monastery in exile was established in Douai in 1607. It was followed by a further three monasteries across France and Germany. Prior to these foundations, which provided a nationalized focus, some aspiring English monks joined European communities, entering religious life in Catholic countries such as Spain. Living in these exiled communities but also returning to England to serve on the Catholic mission, the English Benedictines’ mobility made them unusual amongst the Order in Catholic Europe.
The database only includes those individuals who entered the Benedictine life (for however short or long a time) after Elizabeth I came to throne in England in 1558. The monks have been recorded according to their place of entry, the majority under one of the four foreign English foundations – St Gregory’s, Douai; St Laurence’s, Dieulouard; St Edmund’s Paris; Ss Adrian and Denis, Lamspringe. A final group of monks are recorded under ‘Elsewhere’, cataloguing all those who cannot be included under the previous groupings. It includes those Scottish monks who were aggregated to the English Benedictine Congregation.