On this day 2010 St Mary’s Church, Tenby celebrated the 800th anniversary of Gerald of Wales's appointment as the first Rector of Tenby in 1210, following his passionate, although failed, campaign for Wales to have its own Ar...chbishop.
Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) was born some time between 1145 and 1147 at Manorbier, he was the youngest son of William de Barri and Angharad (daughter of Gerald de Windsor and Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewder), making him of three quarters Norman and one Quarter Welsh descent. He received his early education from his uncle David Fitzgerald bishop of St. Davids , and at the abbey of St. Peter , Gloucester, after which he went to study at the University of Paris, on his return in 1172 , he received a commission from Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury , to enforce the payment of tithes on wool and cheese in the diocese of St. Davids, here he came into conflict with Jordan , archdeacon of Brecon and subsequently replaced him, an office he held it until he retired . After his uncle David Fitzgerald's death in 1176 , Gerald was expected to succeed him as bishop of St Davids, but King Henry II refused his nomination . In his disappointment Gerald went to Paris and spent the years 1177-80 as a very successful lecturer
In 1185, he was appointed to accompany Prince John (the future King John) to Ireland, after which he wrote his Expugnatio Hibernica and Topographia Hibernica.
In 1188, he accompanied Archbishop Baldwin on his tour through Wales to recruit soldiers for the third crusade, an account of which is given in his Itinerarium Kambriae .
In 1198, he was offered the bishoprics of Bangor and Llandaff in Wales and those of Ferns and Leighlin in Ireland , but his mind was set upon that of St Davids. But once again the King and the archbishop of Canterbury objected to his appointment, the conflict developed into a struggle for the recognition of St. Davids as independent of Canterbury. It lasted for five years, and Gerald went three times to Rome to plead his cause before Pope Innocent III. He was ultimately unsuccessful and the story is told in his autobiography De Rebus a Se Gestis and his Dialogus de Jure et Statu Menevensis Ecclesiae, he devoted the remainder of his life to his studies and to literature, but in 1205 he went on a spiritual pilgrimage to Rome . He died in 1223 and was buried at St Davids .