- fraternities of uncertain origin and character scattered up and down Ireland, and especially Scotland, hardly at all in England, from the 9th or 10th to the 14th century; instituted, as would appear, to keep alive a religious spirit among themselves and disseminate it among their neighbours, until on the establishment of monastic orders in the country they ceased to have a separate existence and lost their individuality in the new communities, as well as their original character; they appear to have been originally, whatever they became at length, something like those fraternities we find later on at Deventer, in Holland, with which Thomas à Kempis was connected, only whereas the former sought to plant Christianity, the latter sought to purify it. The name disappears after 1332, but traces of them are found at Dunkeld, St. Andrews, Brechin, and elsewhere in Scotland; in Ireland they continued in Armagh to the Reformation, and were resuscitated for a few years in the 17th century.
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. James Wood. 1907.
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