A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Rawl. C. 238

Summary Catalogue no.: 12099


Summary of Contents: Originally a single-volume New Testament with MS. Rawl. C. 237.

Language(s): Middle English with Latin

Fols. i–iii are paper and parchment flyleaves, blank apart from modern notes (see Provenance).

(fols. 1–182v)
Romans–Apocalypse in the Later Version of the Wycliffite Bible

With usual prologues, apart from the Romans that has two prologues: ‘Romayns ben þei þat ben of Iewis…’ and ‘Romayns ben in þe cuntre…’ (Dove (2007), p. 206). Added material within the text is not marked with very few exceptions (e.g., fol. 36r). Fol. 183 is a parchment flyleaf, containing a table of lections in English for the temporale, which includes references to gospels accompanied by chapter numbers and indexing letters. The table, added by a late 15th-century owner who updated the calendar, starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Saturday before the Palm Sunday.

Fol. 184 is a blank paper flyleaf.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment, paper flyleaves
Extent: 187 leaves, c.
Dimensions (leaf): 128 × 86 mm.
; leaves were trimmed in rebinding, occasionally causing the loss of text and decoration in the margins
Foliation: modern in pencil, i–iii + 1–184


(fols. i–iii) paper flyleaf and parchment bifolium | (1–2) I (2) singletons, two final leaves from quire XX of MS. Rawl. C. 237 | (fols. 3–178) II–XXIII (8) | (fols. 179–182) XXIV (4). Catchwords survive. Most leaf-signatures survive and run consecutively: +, a–i on fols. 7–85, and a–i on fols. 86–151 in MS. Rawl. C. 237; k–z on fols. 3–114 and a–i on fols. 115–182 in MS. Rawl. C. 238. Originally a single-volume New Testament.
Secundo Folio: ‘her owne’ (fol. 2r)


ruled for two columns, with single vertical and double horizontal bounding lines extending the full height and width of page; prickings occasionally survive; 30–1 lines per page; written space: c. 92 × 60 mm.


informal and irregular textura; changes of ink and scribal style throughout, e.g., in MS. Rawl. C. 238, fols. 17r, 136r, 139r, etc.; calendar in a different 15th-century hand with initials in a different style


3- to 4-line gold initials on blue and burgundy background at the beginnings of books.

2- to 4-line blue initials with red penwork at the beginnings of prologues and chapters.

Rubrics in red ink.


Nearly identical bindings on both volumes. Brown leather over pasteboard, late 17th or early 18th century, rebound for Stamford in 1693 (?). The text, originally in a single volume, was probably broken between two volumes at the time of rebinding: Stamford’s signature appears in each volume. Rebacked in the Bodleian; 19th-century spines. Double blind fillet-line border round the outer edge of both covers. Four raised bands on spines. Panels between the bands are framed with double blind and gilt fillet lines. Gilt lettering on spine: ‘PURVEY’S | NEW | TESTAMENT’, ‘VOL. II.’, ‘RAWL. | MS. | C. 238.’ Laid paper pastedowns and flyleaves dating from the 17th- or early 18th-century binding.


Origin: England ; 15th century, first quarter, before 1415 (?)

Dialect survey:

  • eny(8)/ony(2), ech(5)/eche(5), fier(9)/fiȝer(1), ȝouen(6)/ȝouen(3)/ȝeuen(1), lijf(10), lijk(10), myche(10), siȝe(4)/siȝ(4) (sg.), saien(5)/siȝen(1) (pl.), silf(10), sich(1)/such(1)/suche(8), þouȝ(8), þoruȝ(9)/þorow(1)
  • -iþ(7)/-eþ(3) (pres.ind.3sg.), -en(10) (pres.ind.pl.), -inge(6)/-ynge(4) (pres. part.), sche(10) (3sg.fem.pronoun, nom.), þei(10) (3pl.pronoun, nom.), hem(10) (3pl.pronoun, oblique), her(10) (3pl.pronoun, possessive)

Provenance and Acquisition

Thomas Grey, second Earl of Stamford (1653/4–1720); see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: ‘Stamford 1693’ (MS. Rawl. C. 237, fol. 1r; MS. Rawl. C. 238, fol. iii recto).

Richard Rawlinson (1690–1755); see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Bodleian Library: bequeathed by Rawlinson and accessioned in 1756. Earlier shelfmarks: ‘Rawl. no. 543’, ‘22’ (MS. Rawl. C. 238, upper pastedown).

Record Sources

Elizabeth Solopova, Manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible in the Bodleian and Oxford College Libraries, Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016), no. 39. Previously described:


    Forshall, J. and Madden, F. (eds), The Holy Bible … in the earliest English versions made from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his followers, 4 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1850), vol. 1, p. xlix; siglum l – prologue to Romans.
    William D. Macray, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ partis quintæ fasciculus secundus, viri munificentissimi Ricardi Rawlinson, J.C.D., codicum classem tertiam, in qua libri theologici atque miscellanei, complectens; accedit in uniuscujusque classis codicum contenta index locupletissimus (Oxford, 1878), col. 105.
    Madan, F., Summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, vol. 3 (collections received during the 18th century), nos. 8717–16669 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895), no. 12099.
    Scott, K. L. (gen. ed.), An index of images in English manuscripts from the time of Chaucer to Henry VIII, c.1380–c.1509: the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 3 vols (Turnhout: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2000–02), vol. 3, pp. 48–9, nos. 861, 862.
    Dove, M., The first English Bible: the text and context of the Wycliffite versions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 301.

Last Substantive Revision

2023-03-24: Add Solopova description.