MS. Bodl. 851
Summary Catalogue no.: 3041
Walter Map, De nugis curialium; Latin poetry; Piers Plowman (Z- and C-texts); England, 14th century, late, or 15th century, early, with additions
16th(?)-century binding of plain brown leather over pasteboards; rebacked.
The front pastedown is a fragment of a 15th-century (?) Ramsey abbey account: John Alb... reeve, William atte Cros late reeve; tenants include William atte Castel, Ralph Freman.
Provenance and Acquisition
John Wells, monk of Ramsey: ex libris, fol. 6v. It is not clear which portions of this composite manuscript the ex libris refers to, but if the owner is to be identified with the John Wells described by 'Dodsthorp' on fol. 2r, it is reasonable to assume the whole of the present manuscript is referred to.
Wells is identified by Macray, James (1914, p. xii), Rigg and others with John Wells (-1388), the opponent of Wycliffe (Emden III.2008; Emden did not accept the identification). This identification would allow at least some of the volume to be dated before 1388 (or before 1387, when Wells travelled to Italy), and perhaps localized to Oxford. Rigg suggested that the text of the bookplate on fol. 6v was written by the scribe of fols. 74ra-va, 81va, 116ra-118rb, 118va-120vb, and 124r-139r, which does not seem to be correct, but the hand may be the same as the rubricator of codicological units I and II. It should be noted, however, that the John Wells who died in 1388 was buried at Perugia, whereas an addition on fol. 2r refers to (our?) John Wells as 'hic tumulatus', that is, presumably at Ramsey. If the rubric on fol. 94va refers to 1384, that may provide a terminus a quo for that section of the manuscript; if the compiler of the Piers Plowman Z-text used the C-text, as suggested by S. Wood (see below) then the earliest date for unit III, and perhaps for other sections by the same scribe, may be 1388. Text and decoration suggest a date in the last quarter of the fourteenth century or perhaps the early fifteenth century.
Ramsey Abbey: additions by Dodsthorp, partly relating to Ramsey Abbey, and presumably made at Ramsey: Dodsthorp is unidentified, but also signs an addition in another Ramsey book (MS. Bodl. 40, fol. 51v).
‘Whyttynton’, 15th cent., fol. 6v in leadpoint.
‘J. Kyngston’, 15th cent., fol. 208v in leadpoint, recorded by Rigg, now barely legible. The date 1505 (?) written in full, erased, fol. 208v.
Given by Cuthbert Ridley in 1601. Previous Bodleian shelfmarks: 'M. 5. 4. Art.', 'Y. 1. 14. Th.', 'Arch. B. 95', 'Arch. B. 52', 'Arch. C. 29'.
Digital Bodleian (3 images from 35mm slides)
Last Substantive Revision
2021-09: Description fully revised for digitization.