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

Christ Church MS. 102

Register of writs; England, s. xv2/4


Language(s): Latin

Fols 1-178v
Incipit: ||tunc habeas coram prefatis Iustic’ et simi’ etc. predictum E quod tunc sit ibi aud’
Explicit: audita querela ipsius Abbatis vel attorn’ sui in hac parte et vocato . . .
Register of writs

For examples and discussion of such collections and their difficulties, see Elsa de Haas and G. D. G. Hall, Early Registers of Writs, Selden Society 87 (1970); and the exemplary calendar of a fully developed register, taken from Oxford: St John’s College, MS 256, W. S. Holdsworth, A History of English Law, 3rd ed., 9 vols (London, 1923-26), 2:618-36. For other examples of this genre, see our MSS 103 (item 19) and 123 below; those two, but not this manuscript, appear in the list of manuscripts at de Haas and Hall, xxiii-vii. A substantial number of stubs (at least nine) precede the incipit, which occurs on the leaf signed ‘C iiij’; the running title here identifies the writ as ‘Quare impedit’. The text breaks off in a section with running title ‘de manucapcione’.

Owing to missing leaves, the MS lacks materials from the sections ‘De decepcione’ (after fol. 60), ‘De secca ad molendum’ (after fol. 84), ‘De noua dessenia’ (after fol. 124), ‘De posteissenia’ (after fol. 130), ‘De recordo et processu mittendo’ (after fols 130, 131, and 135), ‘Dattincta mortis antecessoris’ and ‘de ingressu’ (after fol. 141).

The person who added the folio numbers also at times adds some annotations cross-referencing briefs with statutes (fol. 100v 103, 105v – 106,109v-110, 112v-113). The care taken to provide that foliation suggests the volume originally ended with an index (cf our MS 103). Comparison of what we have with Holdsworth’s listing of the contents of Oxford: St Johns, MS 256 (as cited above) hints at the amount lost at the beginning – the first five ‘capitula’ – and the end – two further capitula. The opening may have been preceded by further ancillary material: the few letters of text visible on the recto of the very first stub are in English, while the verso is blank, suggesting that the Registrum was preceded by another short text.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: [original fol. 21] admittatis
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (FSOS)
Extent: Fols: ii + nine fragmentary leaves, three of them with some text but six mere stubs + 179 (numbered to 178, but an unnumbered leaf follows fol. 98) + ii (numbered fols 179-180). In addition to losses at both ends, a great many leaves have been torn away or are otherwise fragmentary: fols 33, 98, the lower halves of fols 139-41 and 149, and much of the leading edge of fol. 178; 131 is badly cut and much of the leading edge gone, but the text is still intact.
Dimensions (leaf): 280 × 183 mm.
Foliation: A late fifteenth-century foliation in the upper right corners; our fol. 1 is its ‘fo. xx’ and it progresses to ‘fo. CCvi’, which is our fol. 177, thus including nine leaves now missing, as well as the leaf omitted in the modern foliation.


[two quires of eight missing] 18 (-1 to -3) 2-78 88 (-8 [after fol. 60]) 98 (-1 [before fol. 61]) 10-118 128 (-2 [after fol. 84]) 13-168 178 (4, unnumbered [after fol. 124] represented by two fragments with text) 188 (-3, -4, -6 [before and after fol. 131]) 198 (-3 [after fol. 135]) 208 (-2 [after fol. 141]) 21-238 (in quire 22, the central bifolium, fols 159+160, reversed in binding) 248 (-8 [after fol. 148]) [indeterminable number of quires lost at end]. Simple horizontal catchwords within the lower double horizontal border, extending towards the inner double vertical border. All leaves in the first half of each quire signed with a letter and roman numeral; in this system, quires 1-23 = C-z, &, con, and quire 24 is marked by horizontal lines before the numeral, the number of them increasing with each leaf.


Writing area: 195 × 112 mm., with a column, 25 mm wide, for glosses and identification of the writs along the leading edge.

In long lines, 39 lines to the page.

Regular evidence of full pricking; bounded and ruled in lead and brown ink; the text-block has double vertical borders with a further double border defining the outer edge of the column for glosses, and with double horizontal borders both 10mm above top line (for running headers) and 20mm below bottom line (for catchwords).


Written in anglicana with a secretary ductus.

Generally unpunctuated, sparing use of point, punctus elevatus, and double point.


Spaces for headings and initials all unfilled. Careful finding devices, running titles and marginal identification of the writs. A number of leaves left blank between sections, to allow the addition of new writs.


Plain brown leather, heavily wormed, over millboards, s. xvi. Sewn on six thongs. Attachments for two straps in the upper board with remains of nails, small indentations along the leading edge of the lower board from the clasp seatings. Pastedowns and all flyleaves (two at front, two at back being fol. 179-80) added paper (s. xx), with an older ChCh bookplate (ChCh and Wake arms) on the front pastedown.


Origin: England; s. xv2/4

Provenance and Acquisition

There is no definite internal evidence to indicate this volume’s early history. The text, as mentioned, is provided with several blank spaces but there are only three additions, all placed in the bottom margin and not providing any clear suggestion of a geographical origin: fol. 4v (Westminster), 49v (no place stated), 109v (to an unidentified Earl of Warwick); the first two of these are in the scribal hand, and the third may also be, though it is in a more cursive version. The only later added material is a single note: ‘And for al that indeed the feare of his d|dreame being laid aside he cals unto him’ (the blank fol. 82v, s. xvi2/4).

The manuscript can be equated with the entry in Wake’s ‘Schedule’ of manuscripts (MS 352/8): ‘Registrum Brevium &c. Imperfect’. That provenance is corroborated by the bookplate, and explains the manuscript’s absence from the New Library Catalogue (see Appendix IV).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna and David Rundle, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts, to c. 1600, in Christ Church, Oxford (Oxford, 2017).


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Christ Church Library.