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

St John's College MS 2

William of Nottingham, commentary on Unum ex quatuor


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra–341va:
Incipit: || meo custodiam Habita iam de cause efficientis celsitudine et de cause formalis certitudine […]
Rubric: [fol. 3ra, Jerome’s prologue] Incipit prologus in Iohannem
Incipit: Hic est Iohannes apostolus et euangelista […] [fol. 3vb, the text and gloss proper] In principio erat verbum […] In primis est sciendum quod totus processus euangelicus principaliter diuiditur in 2. partes
Explicit: que docuit vt possimus ad dona sempiterna peruenire que dominus ipse promisit ipso iuuante Qui viuit [form ending]
WILLIAM OF NOTTINGHAM OFM, Commentarius in Concordiam evangelistarum Clementis de Lanthony

Sharpe no. 2135 [795–6]), preceded by a prologue (the fragmentary incipit) and a table of contents (fols. 1va–3ra). Beryl Smalley identified William with an Oxford Franciscan alleged by Bale to have d. 1336 at Leicester; see ‘Which William of Nottingham?’, MARS 3 (1954), 200–38 at 200–6, 233–6 (this MS described at 219–20); the work is unedited, but Sharpe, following Smalley, 206–30, lists a dozen surviving copies and four lost ones. The upper part of fol. 341vb is blank; extending across the page foot is an index to locate Gospel readings for the temporale (Advent–Septuagesima only; two leaves are missing at this point), both by scriptural locus and by the place where Nottingham discusses the lection. Smalley notes (219) the identity of the table with that found in another copy, BodL, MS Laud misc. 165.

The text was written as two separate units. Fol. 168, with the end of part 6, has only half-filled columns of text. Fol. 168vab has a note explaining the canon of the Gospels; nearly all of the second column is blank, as is fol. 169rv. In conjunction with the oddly formed quire here (an 8, in a book consistently done in 12s), this is a break in the production, designed to coincide with a part boundary. This break is also marked by a change in the form of catchwords, which after this point are consistently within scrolls. Separate production of Booklet 3 is signalled by a different standard quire format, now eights.

2. Fols. 342ra–72ra:
Incipit: Abba pater quare dixit cristus in orando cum idem sint abba
Explicit: sub quo prophetauerunt aggeus et zacharias parte I. capitulo 8. columno I.
Final rubric: Explicit tabula sentenci⟨osa⟩ secundum ordinem alphabeti super doctorem NOTYNGHAM de concordia quatuor euangelistarum edita Oxon’ Anno domini 1409 et complete terciadecima die Mensis July anni supradicti
An index to Nottingham,

according to Smalley (219), who misreads the date at the end, fuller than those of other copies. The two indices comprise a further production unit.

3. Fols. 372ra–78ra:
Incipit: An siquid abraham erat pater samaritanorum cum dixerit mulier samaritana cristo Numquid tu maior
Explicit: in lege erat reddere septuplum parte 9. capitulo 3. columno 4c
Final rubric: Explicit tabula questionum quas mouet NOTYNGHAM in opere suo de concordia euangelistarum
?JOHN WYKEHAM (who died after 1414), Quaestiones quas mouet Notyngham,

for the ascription see Sharpe no. 987 (354). The text, of which this is the fullest version, exists in many variants, their relationship not clearly sorted: contrast Mynors, 59 (discussing Balliol College MS 75) with Smalley, 223–7. Most of fol. 378ra and the remainder of the leaf are blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: de galileis (table)
Secundo Folio: -titate ecclesiali (fol. 4ra)
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. i + 378 + i (numbered fol. ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 435 × 295 mm.


16(–1) 2–1412 158 [fol. 169, a production break] | 16–2912 306(–5, –6) [fol. 341, a production break] | 31–338 3412 352(–1). Regular catchwords (after fol. 170 in scrolls). Several signature systems, in pencil, crayon, and rubricator’s red, generally only numbering the leaves, in both arabic and roman, in the first halves of quires. Most quires have, in one system, assigned quire letters, but these never form a sustained series for more than four quires.


The top third of fol. 143 has been unevenly torn away with the initial for part 6, and about an eighth of the foot of fol. 378 has also been torn out.


In double columns, each column 282–88 × 87 mm. , with 17 mm between columns, in 59–63 lines to the column (for the gloss; the quoted biblical text is generally written at double size, 30–31 lines to the column). Prickings generally cut away; bounded in red ink, unruled.


Written in two forms of gothic textura quadrata, the text in a large biblical style, the gloss in a normal text hand with an anglicana tinge. Punctuation by point only.


Headings in red.

At the heads of the parts, 9- or 10-line blue and violet champes with gold leaf and demivinets of the same, with floral sprays and buds, and animals either in the foliage or the initial (most elaborately, that to part 12, fol. 326va, with a wyvern, a bagpiper, an animal blowing on its tail as if it were a recorder, a woman, and a hawker).

At lesser divisions, 2-line lombards in alternate blue on red flourishing and gold on violet flourishing, including line-fillers of the same and often with elaborate marginal extensions. In the extensions, many small animal and human heads (with washed ‘rounding’).

Running titles in red (after fol. 113 not on every page) with full references to parts and chapters, as well as to the biblical text discussed.

The indices are slightly more elaborate in presentation. Fol. 342ra has a larger capital (13 lines), with a winged centaur shooting a bow in the demivinet, and there are marginal titles for each entry in text ink on alternating red flourishing headed by a blue paraph and purple flourishing headed by a gold paraph.

See AT no. 359 (36), with dating s. xiv ex., and plate xxiv (the hawker from fol. 326va).


Wooden boards with slightly bevelled edges, probably s. xv, recovered in s. xix incised brown leather (a small grid pattern). Sewn on nine thongs, the two outer pairs, head and foot, pegged into a single hole, as in Pollard’s figure 6. A single nail-hole from a chain staple in Watson’s position 4. ‘2’ in gold at the head of the spine and in black ink on the leading edges, above it also in black crayon a notation of contents, ‘Nottingham’. Pastedowns modern marbled paper. At the front and rear, a single modern paper leaf (the rear ii), both blank.


Origin: s. xv1 (after 1409) ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

A very few scattered pen-trials (fols. 1v, 235, 236, 378).

‘Liber Collegij Divi loannis Baptistae Oxon’ Ex dono Magistri Ioannis Stonor Generosi de Northstoke in Comitatu Oxon’ 1609’ (on a vellum tag, at the top of the inner front cover).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.


    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    R. A. B. Mynors, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Balliol College Oxford (Oxford, 1963).
    Graham Pollard, 'Describing Medieval Bookbindings.' In J. J. G. Alexander and Margaret T. Gibson (eds.), Medieval Learning and Literature: Essays Presented to R. W. Hunt (Oxford, 1976), pp. 50-65.
    Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (Turnhout, 1997).
    Beryl Smalley, ‘Which William of Nottingham?’, Mediaeval and Renassaince Studies 3 (1954), 200–38. [Also available in Beryl Smalley, Studies in Medieval Thought and Learning: From Abelard to Wyclif (London, 1981), 249–287].
    Andrew G. Watson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of All Souls College Oxford (Oxford, 1997).

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust

Last Substantive Revision

2022-04: First online publication

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