Saint William of York

Saint William of YorkAlso known as

  • William FitzHerbert
  • William FitzHerbert of York
  • William of Thwayt



Son of Count Herbert, treasurer to King Henry I, and Emma, half-sister to King William. Treasurer of the church in York, England while still young. Priest. Chaplain to King Stephen.

Archbishop of York in 1140. His selection was challenged by reformers, especially a group of Cistercians, and William was accused of simony, sexual misconduct, and being unduly influenced by his connections to the royal court. The Vatican investigated, Pope Innocent cleared him of all charges, and confirmed him as archbishop on 26 September 1143. However, the charges resurfaced a few years later under Pope Eugene III, a Cistercian; Eugene suspended William from his see, and in 1147 removed him as archbishop, replacing him with the Cistercian Henry Murdac, abbot of Fountains. Some of William’s supporters took to the streets to defend him, and during a riot, they attacked and burned the monastery of Fountains. William, however, retired to Winchester, and became a monk, noted for his austerities and active prayer life.

In 1154, in the reign of Pope Anastasius IV, William was called from his seclusion, and again ordained archbishop of York; he died a month later. There were accusations of poisoning, including poison introduced in the sacramental wine. An investigation ensued, but no records of its result have survived, and it’s more likely he died from fever.



MLA Citation

  • “Saint William of York“. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 June 2020. Web. 19 September 2021. <>