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He was present in A Gest of Robyn Hode, an early Robin Hood ballad from the late medieval period, although he has been widely forgotten by modern audiences.
It is unknown why he was referred to as having 'white hands'. It is thought that Gilbert Of The Whitehand developed from Gilbert Wythehonde, a second name found in the Wakefield Court Rolls. Some have suggested it was because he had a withered hand, amongst other reasons. However this is speculation and it is not stated specifically why. Gilbert clearly had no physical hindrance—it is stated that he is Robin's equal in archery, and together they were the best archers in all England.
- In the 1912 novel by Louis Rhead Bold Robin Hood-And His Outlaw Band a Gilbert of the White Hands is said to be the band's cook, called "white hands" referring to baking powder.
- In Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Gilbert of the White Hand appears not as one of Robin's band, but as an archer of the king's. In an archery contest, he was the one set against Robin Hood, and although at their first shooting, Robin was slightly better, a second shot was required to give Robin a clear victory.
- In the 1840 story by Pierce Egan the Younger (translated into French, divided into two parts and resumed by Alexandre Dumas, published posthumously in 1872) Gilbert and his wife Margaret are Robin's foster parents (his real father according to the Egan/Dumas storyline was the Earl of Huntingdon), and Gilbert taught Robin how to use the bow and arrow.
- In Clayton Emery's Tales of Robin Hood, Gilbert of the White Hand has a right hand withered by fire. He learned to swordfight with his left hand, which discomfits his opponents, and goes berserk in battle, so was knighted in the Holy Land.