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

St John's College MS. 138

The Prick of Conscience


Language(s): Middle English. Written in the language of east Cambridgeshire (LALME LP 4265, grid 568/268, forms displayed 3:30–1).

Fols. 1–126v
Incipit: || De medic ⟨ ⟩ tranciat vespere decidat n ⟨ ⟩ | Dauid seyth thus as wretyn is | Men wendyn awey erly as gres
Explicit: And ..... schenschypes of helle also | That arn evene contrarie therto ||
The Prick of Conscience DIMEV 5398

ed. Richard Morris (Berlin, 1863), fragmentary at both ends, corresponding to 721–9482. The final page has a marginal note, ‘Nota bene omnia consequencia vsque finem’, and the stubs of two more leaves follow, the second of which, with visible line initials, is assigned fol. 127 and is now the stub to which the first rear flyleaf is pasted. Derek Britton points out that our MS is among those with a ‘spurious’ sixteen-line prologue at the head of book 4, ‘Unnoticed Fragments of the Prick of Conscience’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 80 (1979), 327–34, at 333 n. 16. See further Lewis and McIntosh, 118–19.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: To turne him
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iv + 127 + ii (numbered fols. v–vi), with some vellum finding tabs.
Dimensions (leaf): 225 × 142 mm.
Dimensions (written): 180–3 × 115 mm.


[a missing quire of 12] 1–158 168(–7, –8, both stubs, the second, with visible textual material, numbered fol. 127). Catchwords in red decorated boxes. Fragmentary signatures suggest that all leaves were signed with a letter and an arabic numeral; the only survivors are g 7–8 on fols. 47–8; k 1–8 on fols. 65–72; and the upper loop of l, the remainder of the letter cut away, on fols. 73–80.


The upper margins of fols. 1–5 are damaged by water, with some replacements and damage to the text; lower margins of fols. 17 and 36 cut away, with partial loss of one line in the first instance.


In long lines, 30 lines to the page. Prickings; bounded and ruled in brown ink.


Written in anglicana. No punctuation except the red brackets joining the verse couplets.


Headings and Latin verses in red; red brackets to join the couplets.

Red running titles with subjects of each part.

Extensive marginal indications of subject in red and black ink, often within decorative boxes.

Decorative line-fillers to divide parts.

Two-line red lombards at the heads of the parts; line initials red-slashed and the text divided by red paraphs.


A modern replacement. Sewn on three thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf, two modern paper flyleaves, and a mounted vellum fragment; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves (the first shares the numeration fol. 127 with the stub of an excised vellum leaf to which it is pasted) and another marbled leaf (v–vi).


Origin: s. xv med. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Accounts from ‘⟨F⟩ramisdene’, ? i.e. Framsden in east Suffolk (fol. iv, the fragmentary flyleaf; anglicana, s. xiii/xiv).

Rychard Clowfyld’ (fol. 41, vertically in the margin; s. xv ex.).

A gloss (fol. 81 lower margin; s. xvi).

‘Liber Collegij Sanctj Johannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Richardi Butler Doctoris Theologiae Archidiaconi Northampt procurante Reuerendo in Cristo Patre Johanne Episcopo Roffiensi 1613’ (fol. 2, vertically in the margin).

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.


    Derek Britton, ‘Unnoticed Fragments of the Prick of Conscience’. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 80 (1979), 327–34.
    Robert E. Lewis and Angus McIntosh, A Descriptive Guide to the Manuscripts of the Prick of Conscience (Oxford, 1982).
    Angus McIntosh, M. L. Samuels, et al., A Linguistic Atlas of Later Mediaeval English, 4 vols. (Aberdeen, 1988).
    Richard Morris (ed.), The Pricke of Conscience (Berlin, 1863).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2021-06: First online publication

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