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Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of St. John’s College, Oxford

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About this Collection

Introduction: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of St

Introduction: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of St. John's College,Oxford


This collection provides access to the rare and treasuredmanuscripts of one of the most esteemed Oxford College libraries.


A number of the manuscripts in the library came frombenefactions encouraged by Sir Thomas White to provide suitable books for hisnew foundation. Amongst these were gifts of groups of books from over 30monastic libraries dissolved by Henry VIII, including substantial groups ofbooks from Reading Abbey, given by John Stonor and from the Augustinian houseof Southwick, given by John White, brother of Sir Thomas. Other early donationscame from members of the College, including William Paddy and John Buckeridge,President 1606-1611, tutor of Archbishop William Laud.


William Laud (Fellow 1589-1610) secured many livings for thecollege and undertook extensive building work, including the CanterburyQuadrangle, built around the Old Library. The College retains a number ofLaudian relics, including his diary and journals written during hisimprisonment in the Tower, which are included in the microfilm collection.


In 1603, when Laud was a Fellow, the first Librarian wasappointed at St. John's. Laud and his friends donated many books andmanuscripts, including Caxtons, a second folio Shakespeare and James I's PrayerBook. Laud also founded a Chair of Arabic, still attached to the College andgave a number of Arabic manuscripts to the Library, along with a small group ofmanuscripts in Greek.


This collection contains all the pre-1700 manuscripts in thelibrary, including manuscripts donated to or acquired by the College since thepublication of Coxe's catalogue of the Oxford college manuscripts. 271manuscripts are included ranging from those containing Anglo-Saxon and a13th-century Bestiary from York to William Laud's Diary and fromBen Jonson's copies of Terence and Juvenal to the setting copy of WynkynDe Worde's edition of the Siege of Thebes, bound with Caxton's editionsof Chaucer's Troilus & Criseyde and the Canterbury Tales.


The collection includes in full the 83 illuminatedmanuscripts from St. John's described in J.J.G. Alexander & ElzbietaTemple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries (Oxford,1985) ranging from the 10th to the 15th centuries.


The manuscripts are filmed in catalogue order, except wherepost-1700 manuscripts have been omitted.


Notable Items


Amongst the notable manuscripts or groups of manuscripts inthe College library included in the microfilm collection are:


MS 17, Bede and other computstical texts, s.xii; MS28, Gregory Regula Pastoralis, s.xxi; and MS 154 Aelfric's Grammar,, all containing Anglo-Saxon


MS 89, Bede Commentary on Apocalypse; MS128, Duns Scotus, Bede and other texts; MS 150, Treatises on musicaltheory, formerly owned by John Erghom, all of the 11th century


MS1, St. Augustine, s.xiv; 5, Rabanus Maurus Etymologiarum s.xii; MS11, Homelies, s.xii; MS 21, s.xiii; MS 59, Aquinas, s.xiv; MS73, Berengaudus, s.xii/xiii; MS 104, Deuteronomy, s.xii, from thelibrary of Reading Abbey


MS62, Bernard, s.xiii; MS 126, Arnulfus Lexoviensis, s.xiii in; MS153, Gregory, s.xiii; MS 158, Anselm, s.xii in; MS 163,Ambrose, s.xii/xiii; MS 176, Registrum Brevium and other texts,s.xiii/xiv; MS 183, Cassian, s.xii/xiii; MS 185, Paterius,s.xi, from the library of Southwick Priory


MS147, Richard Rolle and other texts, s.xv; MS 178, Isidore,s.xiii/xiv; MS 190, Bonaventura, s.xiii ex, the library of theBenedictine Abbey of St. Peter, Westminster


MS56, Lydgate Life of Our Lady and other works in Middle English, s.xv


MS57, Prick of Conscience, London Chronicle, Chaucer Parliamentof Fowls, in Middle English, s.xv


MS61, Bestiary, s.xiii in, from Holy Trinity, York


MS87, Terence Comedies, s.xv and MS 192, Juvenal Satiresand Horace Poems, s.xv, with the ownership inscriptions of Ben Jonson


MS94, Book of Hours and devotional texts in Middle English, s.xv, copied byJohn Lacy, anchorite at Newcastle-upon-Tyne


MS138, Prick of Conscience, in Middle English, s.xv


MS164, Astrological treatises, in French, s.xiv, from the library of CharlesV of France


MS166, Proceedings of the Synod of London, 1562, printed by John Day, London,1571, and Articles of the Clergy, printed by Robert Barker, London, 1612, withmanuscript notes in William Laud's hand


MS172, Richard of Bury Philobiblon, and medical tests, s.xv in


MS180 and MS 181, Settings of the Psalms and other texts, by WilliamByrd, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tallis and others, s.xvii, formerly owned byWilliam Juxon


MS216, George Peele, Polyhymnia, s.xvi ex


MS217 and MS 218, College drama of the 17th century


MS234, Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London Lamentation for the State of theChurch in England, s.xvi


MS256 and MS 257, Register of Writs, in Latin and Statutesof the Realm in Latin, French and English, s.xv


MS258, William Laud's Diary, to 1643; MS 259, William Laud TheHistory of the Troubles, written during his imprisonment in the Tower1641-44; MS 260, Simon Foster Account of the Execution of WilliamLaud, 10 January 1644/5


MS262, Concordance of the Gospels, assembled by Nicholas Ferrar andthe community of Little Gidding in 1640.


MS266, John Lydgate Seige of Thebes, s.xv, used as the setting textfor De Worde's edition of the Seige of Thebes, bound with Caxton'seditions of Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde, the second edition ofChaucer Canterbury Tales and John Mirk's Quattuor Sermones