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

Merton College MS. 7

Former shelfmark: A. 2. 7



Summary of Contents: MS 7 is a distinguished example of the sort of book, notably small bibles, produced commercially at Oxford (and Paris) during the 13th century. It is decorated in the style of the famous local artist William de Brailes, who lived and worked in Catte St, the centre of the book trade. The book came to the College in the 15th century, and soon after was in circulation among the Fellows, despite its high quality.

Language(s): Latin

f. iv is only one col. wide; the recto blank. f. v blank. To the verso is pasted a slip from a paper flyleaf of s. xvii with the contents.

1. (fols. 1–339v)
Biblia Vulgata

In the order Stegmüller, Bibl. nos 284–5, Gen.-Ruth, 323 I-IV Reg., 328 Paral., Orat. Manasse, 330 Esdr., 331 Tob., 335 Iud., 341 Esth., 344 Iob, Psalmi (incl. Ps. 151 ‘Pusillus eram’), 457 Prov.-Cant., 468 Sap., Ecclus., 482 Is., 487 Ierem. – Baruch, 492 Ezech., 495 Dan., 500, 507 Osee, 511 Ioel, 515, 512 Amos, 519, 516 Abdias, 524, 522 Ionas, 526 Mich., 528, 527 Naum, 531, 529 Hab., 534, 532 Soph., 538, 535 Agg., 539, 540 Zach., 543, 545 Mal., 551 Macc., 590 Matt., 607 Marc., 615 Luc., 624 Ioh., 677 Rom., 684 I Cor., 700 II Cor., 708 Gal., 715 Eph., 731 Phil., 736 Col., 748 I Thess., 753 II Thess., 765 I Tim., 772 II Tim., 780 Tit., 783 Philem., 794 Hebr., 640, 11831(1) Acts, 809 Iac. – Iud., 839 Apoc.

At the foot of f. 339v, in a hand contemporary with the main text, ‘Hec est, O lector, nostri pars prima laboris / Cetera Scripture fortassis erunt melioris / Me de corde bono summo committe patrono / Vt iungar Christo iam corpore liber ab isto’ , with the note ‘In fine commenti Bede super Apoc’ ’ .

Copious marginal annotation, mostly in anglicana hands of s. xiii.

2. (fols. 340–63; 363v-4, 365v blank)
Stephen Langton (?), Interpretatio Nominum Hebraicorum
Incipit: Aaz apprehendens uel apprehensio
Explicit: Zusim consiliantes eos uel consultatores eorum

Stegmüller, Bibl. 1677, 1; 7708–9. On f. 365 are pen-trials in verse, in an English semi-humanistic cursive of c. 1500.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: prefiguratio
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 373 leaves (v + 368)
Dimensions (leaf): 310 × 205 mm.
Dimensions (written): 185 × 110 mm.
(art. 1)
Dimensions (written): 185 × 145 mm.
(art. 2)
Foliation: Foliation of s. xiv in arabic numerals, often cropped, as far as 346 (mod. 340), omitting 54 and 275–9; column numbers, in roman numerals, are used in the Gospels.


a bifolium at each end, 1–1012, 1110, 12–2112, 22–310, 24–712, 288, 2912(+ 1 after 12), 30–112; catchwords and spasmodic leaf-numbering.


Ruled with fine crayon, art. 1 in 2 cols, art. 2 in 3, of 58 lines.


Written throughout in the small, neat gothic bookhand with very dark ink, typical of small-format Bibles made at Paris or Oxford.


Biblical books (and Psalms 26, 38, 51–2, 68, 80, 97, 101, 109) open with fine initials dominated by pink, blue, orange and gold, in the style of William de Brailes, sometimes with partial borders, mostly with simple foliage, sometimes with dragons and other animals. Noteworthy are: f. 1 F enclosing Jerome writing; f. 3 (Genesis) I running the full length of the intercolumnar space, with the seven days of Creation, f. 167v (Proverbs) P with man wielding ornament as weapon; f. 271 (Matthew) L with seated cleric writing. Blue initials flourished in red; blue and red chapter-numbers and running heads; plain red or blue initials in the Psalter and art. 2, which also has red or blue paraphs.


s. xix, doubtless replacing one of s. xvii; sewn on four bands. ff. i-iii, 366–8 are blank paper binding leaves. f. iv was formerly a pastedown in an earlier binding. Marks on f. 1, but not on f. v, suggest two straps on a binding earlier than the time of Warkworth and Hyll (see below).


Origin: S. XIII 2/4 ; England, Oxford

Provenance and Acquisition

Made commercially at Oxford.

On f. ivv ‘Liber M. Iohannis Warkeworthe’, s. xv. At the foot of f. 1, s. xvi in., ‘Liber collegii de Merton’ in Oxon’ ex dono magistri Iohannis Warkeworthe nuper socii eiusdem collegii et postea erat magister collegii Sancti Petri in Cantabrig’ sub pena anathematis nullatenus alienandus’, repeated on f. 339v. Warkworth (BRUO 1992–3) was fellow c. 1448 – at least 1456, master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1475–1500. He gave many more books to Peterhouse. The bequest was acknowledged by the warden on 20 July 1502 (Registrum, p. 266). Below is ‘Per me Iohannem edmund’, s. xv, erased.

On f. vv is ‘Primus de sorte Hylle 2ºfº emisit’, s. xv ex. (emisit is on f. 5). Presumably this is Robert Hill alias Dykke (BRUO 934–5), fellow 1493–1520, d. 1524.

Scribbled in the outer margin of f. 239 is ‘Iohannes Estbrocke’, s. xvi in.

Distributed in the electio of 1519 (UO63. 272).

Inside the front board is the College bookplate, on which are written ‘N. 1. 7’, ‘E. 1. 2’, and ‘A. 2. 7’, all canc. and replaced with ‘A. 2. 7.’ again and ‘(VII.)’ in red. ‘7’ is inked on the foredge. Another College bookplate is pasted to f. vv.

Record Sources

R. M. Thomson, A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts of Merton College, Oxford (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), 2009.


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Merton College Library.


    Coxe, p. 5; Powicke, no. 1138; Morgan, Early Gothic, I, p. 115; Alexander & Temple, no. 190 and pl. X.

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Warden and Fellows of Merton College .

Last Substantive Revision

2018-08-01: First online publication

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