story 6 story 5 story 8 story 9 story 10 story 11 story 12 story 7 home story I story 2 story 3 story 4 St Anselm College
British Museum MS. Royal 15 A. xx. fo. 143 a
VI. De quodam canonico de Newburg post mortem capto quem [blank] comprehendit. Contigit quod ipse cum magistro aratorum pariter loquebatur et in agro gradiebatur. Et subito predictus magister fugit valde perterritus [fugit] et alter luctabatur cum quodam spiritu qui dilacerauit turpiter vestes suas. Sed tandem optinuit victoriam et coniurauit eum. Qui coniuratus confitebatur se fuisse talem canonicum de Newburg et excommunicatum pro quibusdam cocliaribus argenti que in quodam loco abscondit. Supplicauit ergo viuenti quod adiret ad locum predictum et acciperet illa, reportando Priori suo et peteret absolucionem. Qui fecit ita et inuenit dicta choclearia argenti in loco memorato. Qui absolutus in pace deinceps requieuit. Prefatus tamen vir egrotauit et elanguit per multos dies. et affirmauit quod apparuit sibi in habitu canonicorum.
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Story VI is unusual in that the haunting takes place during the day in an open field, the encounter is physically agressive, the name of its 'hero' is left blank and it involves the ghost of a priest excommunicated from another religious order. As in other Byland tales, after the encounter, the ghost is conjured, confesses his sin and asks the conjurer to help him obtain absolution of his sin. The conjurer obliges and the ghost ultimately rests in peace. The story ends with additional proof of the encounter. (LR)

6. Concerning a certain canon from Newburg captured after his death whom [blank] seized.
It happened that he himself together with the steward was talking and walking in a field. And suddenly the aforementioned steward fled extremely terrified and the other wrestled with a certain spirit who shamefully tore his clothes into pieces. But finally he obtained victory and conjured him. Who, after he was conjured, confessed that he had been a distinguished canon of Newburg and that he had been excommunicated because of certain silver spoons which he hid in a certain place. Therefore he begged the living man that he go to the aforementioned place and get them, for the purpose of bringing them back to his prior and to seek absolution. Who did thus, and he found the spoken-of silver spoons in the place mentioned. Who, after he was absolved, rested in peace thereafter. Still the aforementioned man was sick and feeble over many days. And he asserted that the ghost appeared to him in the habit of canons. (LR)

line 1 canonico Canon Regular, a priest living in community under the Rule of St. Augustine (regula in Latin), and sharing property in common. Distinct from monks, who live a cloistered, contemplative life and sometimes engage in ministry to those from outside the monastery, the purpose of the life of a canon is to engage in public ministry of liturgy and sacraments for those who visit their churches (historically the monastic life was by its nature lay, whereas canonical life was essentially clerical). (wiki/Canons Regular) (Catholic Encyclopedia/Canons)
Newburg is a village in North Yorkshire, currently with a population of 85. There was an abbey there, notable for being the home of William of Newburgh, who compiled similar (though much older) ghost stories to these.

line 2 [blank] Here is where, in some of the Byland stories, we would receive the name of the hero, but here his name is left out. Perhaps the monk did not know the man’s name or he purposefully left a space to fill in the information at a later date.

lines 2-3
magistro aratorum is a steward. Yorkshire Cistercian monasteries practiced the grange system. The granges were particularly important to urban-based monasteries and might be located at some distance. The produce could both sustain the monks and be sold for profit. While under overall monastic control, many granges would rarely see a monk and were run on a day-to-day basis by a steward and worked by local farm labourers or perhaps lay brothers. (wiki/grange) (wiki/Economics of English Agriculture in Middle Ages)

line 3 agro Many Byland Abbey stories take place outside. But this one defies the customary setting by taking place during the day instead of at night, separating it even from the other Byland stories.
"A daylight ghost, as it seems.  The seer and the head ploughman are walking together in the field. Suddenly the ploughman has a panic and runs off, and the other finds himself struggling with a ghost.  Probably the prior had excommunicated the stealer of the spoons 'whoever he might be' without knowing who he was, as in the case of the Jackdaw of Rheims." (MRJ)

line 7 excommunicatum Excommunication (Latin ex, out of, and communio or communicatio, communion— exclusion from the communion), the principal and severest censure, is a penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence. The excommunicated person does not cease to be a Christian, since his baptism can never be effaced; he can, however, be considered as an exile from Christian society and as non-existent, for a time at least, in the sight of ecclesiastical authority. But such exile can have an end (and the Church desires it), as soon as the offender has given suitable satisfaction. Meanwhile, his status before the Church is that of a stranger. He may not participate in public worship nor receive communion or any of the sacraments. Moreover, if he be a cleric, he is forbidden to administer a sacred rite or to exercise an act of spiritual authority. (Catholic Encyclopedia/Excommunication)

line 10 Priori The Prior holds the first place after the abbot, whom he assists in the government of the monastery and whose place he supplies in his absence. He has no ordinary jurisdiction by virtue of his office, since he performs the duties of his office entirely according to the will and under the direction of the abbot. (Catholic Encyclopedia/Prior) "I'm mom." (Father Matthias, current Prior of Saint Anselm Abbey, NH)

line 13 egrotauit Most of the Byland ghosts are not harmful or plague-inducing. They are not demonic, just longing for forgiveness! This one does seem to cause some affliction, but just minor sickness and fatigue, not death or great torment.

line 14 habitu canorum The essential and characteristic habit of canons regular is the rochet, an over-tunic usually made of fine white linen (cambric; fine cotton material is also allowed), and reaching to the knees. With regard to the other parts, their dress, as a general rule, is that of other clergy, although some have added a scapular. By most the rochet is worn as part of their daily dress, though sometimes reduced to a small linen band hanging from the shoulders in front and behind. The general color seems to have been white. The canons regular, like the secular clergy, had no fixed dress. In England the canons regular wore violet like the other clergy. In the Constitutions given by Cardinal Wolsey to canons regular, mention is also made of this variety of habit. (Catholic Encyclopedia/Canons) (Catholic Encyclopedia/Rochet)

     Story VI contains aspects of hauntings similar to the other stories: the restless spirit of a local man, an encounter with the living, a conjuring and subsequent request for absolution. In this story the restless spirit of a local religious figure sets upon two men as they walk through a field. It is rare in the Byland stories (and in any ghost story for that matter) for ghostly interaction to take place during the daylight as it does here. Many of the stories are full of proper names as well, but this one gives only the place name of Newburg. A blank is left in the introduction where the name of one of the characters likely belongs. Why the author left this space blank is a mystery; perhaps he did not know the man’s name!

In the conjuring, we receive a (rare) detailed explanation of the restless spirit's offenses: he stole silver spoons and hid them. Therefore, the remedium for this ghost is slightly more complex; absolution can only be received if the spoons are returned to his Prior. It is not a difficult task, especially when the ghost can tell the conjurer exactly where the spoons were buried. From there, it is up to his Prior to absolve the canon-ghost so that he can rest in peace. The ghost, however, thanks his conjurer in an unfortunate way: the man is struck with sickness and fatigue for a few days.