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

Christ Church MS. 112

Statutes of Archbishops of Canterbury, concerning the Court of Arches; England (?Lambeth), s. xvi3/4, with item 5 s. xv2/4


Language(s): Latin with some English

1. fol. i

Woodcut frontispiece on parchment depicting the royal family tree from Edward III’s children, culminating in the moustachioed figure of Henry VIII, sporting a hat. At the centre rectangle left blank in the woodcut, a drawing of the English royal arms surrounded by the garter (without inscription), supported by lion and griffin rampant and surmounted by a closed crown.

fol. iv: blank

2. fol. iir-iiv
Rubric: Concilium Wintoniense
Rubric: De Primatu Dorbernie et subiectione Eborace

The two statutes, the first of 1076 and the second of 1072, were edited by Matthew Parker, De antiquitate Britannicae ecclesiae(London: John Day, 1572), 94–96 and 98; cf. David Wilkins, Concilia magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae…, 4 vols (London, 1737), 1:324–25 and 367. These are added in a secretary script (s. xviex) not seen elsewhere in the volume.

3. fol. iii
Rubric: Transumptum veterum statutorum et ordinationum Curie metropolitice Cant de Archubus London [sic] unacum rescriptis et constitucionibus plurium Archiepiscoporum

Title-page for the following work, for the decoration of which see below.

4. fol. iiiv-viiiv
Rubric: Catalogus Capitulorum contentorum in hoc libro et primum in statutis Domini Roberti Cant Archiepiscopi
Rubric: [fol. vv] Catalogus capitulorum contentorum in Statutis D. Johannis Cant Archiepiscopi
Rubric: [fol. viii] Catalogus aliorum in hoc libro contentorum

Contents list for the main part of the volume, fol. 1–64 with the last entry added recording Archbishop Parker’s Ordinance at fol. 64v-65.

5 1559. fol. ix-xivv

s. xv1, with the feast of St Thomas Becket and references to popes later removed, but with two additions of English saints, Ethelred and Frideswide, near-contemporary with the text (fol. xiiiv; s. xv) and, for 17th December, in an elegant gothic script with humanist orthography: ‘Consecratio Matthaei Parker Archiepiscopi Cantuar’ Aº 1559.’ (fol. xivv).

6. fol. 1–64
Rubric: Sequuntur Statuta edita per Reverendissimum Dominum Robertum Cant Archiepiscopum /
Incipit: Robertus premissione divina Cant Archiepiscopus .... Ad viam nostri regiminis
Explicit: [fol. 17] ut beato Thoma martire. Amen.
Rubric: Sequuntur statuta edita per Reverendissimm dominum Johannem Cant
Statutes for the Court of Arches

Statutes for the Court of Arches, the court of appeal of the Archbishop of Canterbury as metropolitan, on which see F. Donald Logan ed., The Medieval Court of Arches[Canterbury and York Society, xcv] (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005). Logan works from the ‘Liber niger’ of the Court of Arches, London: Lambeth Palace Library, Arches N 1, which is the ultimate source for most, but not all, of this section of our manuscript. The material presented here is, in order:

fol. 1–17: Logan, item I.2 (5–20);

fol. 17v-43v: Logan, item I.5 (23–45), with further sub-divisions and ending in a set of six oaths (fol. 42–43v), culminating in that prescribed by William Courtenay in 1390 (Logan, 46 in item 6);

fol. 44–46v: Articles for the clergy, issued on 24th November 1316 and considered to have the force of statute (on which, see J. H. Denton, ‘The Making of the Articuli Cleri of 1316’, EHR, 101 (1986), 564–95, with list of printed versions at n. 1), ending with a memorandum of the re-issuing of the Articles in 50 Edward III;

fol. 47r-v: Logan, item I.3 (21);

fol. 47v-48v: Logan, item II.2 (57–58), edited from our manuscript;

fol. 48v-50: Logan, item I.12 (53–55);

fol. 50–51: Logan, item I.4 (22–23);

fol. 51–52v: Logan, item II.4 (58–60);

fol. 53r-v: Logan, item I.6 (45–46);

fol. 53v-54v: Logan, item I.7 (47–48);

fol. 54v-56: Logan, item I.10 (50–52);

fol. 56–57: Logan, item I.11 (52–53);

fol. 57–58: Logan, item I.8 (48–49);

fol. 58–59: Logan, item I.9 (49–50);

fol. 59r-v: ‘Tenor commissionis ad exercendam Iurisdictionem Sede Cantuarie vacante’, a letter of Henry [Eastry], prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, to brother Ricardus de Clyve, opening ‘In causis et negocijs que in Ciuitate...’ and dated 14th May 1313 (cf. Wilkins, Concilia, 3:423);

fol. 59v-60: Logan, item I.1 (4);

fol. 60–62: ‘Statuta et ordinaciones Reverendissimi in Christo patris et Domini Domini Willelmi Warham .... in Curia Audiencie apud Lambeth...’, dated 3rd March 1508/9, printed by Henry Spelman, Concilia, decreta, leges... (London, 1664), 725–37 and hence by Wilkins, Concilia, 3:651–2;

fol. 62–64: Logan, item II.5 (60–63), with subscription of Thomas [Goldwell], prior of Christ Church, Canterbury.

7. fol. 64v-65
Rubric: Ordinatio Matthaei Cantuar de iuramento prestando ab omnibus ministeris Curiae Cantuariensis /
Incipit: Matthaeus prouidentia diuina .... Cum ex membris corporis, ut a quodam predecessore nostro
Explicit: [fol. 65] in his scriptis sequentibus [date 1st February 1567/8] ... Forma Iuramenti. / Ego A. B. clericus testificor

Ordinance concerning oaths in the Court of Arches, issued by Archbishop Matthew Parker, 1st February 1578. Unprinted.

Added by the scribe at a separate sitting. The text divides between the ordinance and the form of the oath, the latter of which is subscribed lightly by two names: ‘M Aubrey’ and ‘henry Jones’. The bottom twelve lines of fol. 65 blank.

8. fol. 65v-66v
Rubric: Prohemium in quatuor statuta sequentia de Curia Cant Arcubus London. /
Incipit: Matthaeus prouidentia diuina .... Cum propter curam, sollicitudinem et amorem paternum
Explicit: aut corrumpat sub pena predicta. / Et nos decanus et Capitulum ... presentibus apposimus [date 27th June 1573].

Statutes for the Court of Arches issued by Archbishop Matthew Parker, 27th June 1573. Edited Wilkins, Concilia, 4:273–74 from ‘MSS Sancroft. arch. Cant.’, without reference to our copy.

Added by the scribe at yet another sitting, in a more upright version of his script.

9. fol. 67r-v
Rubric: Prohemium in dua statuta sequentia de Curia Prerog. Cant. /
Incipit: Matthaeus prouidentia diuina ... Cum ex statutis et ordinationibus predecessorum nostrorum
Explicit: hec sancta dei Euangelia. / Et nost decanus et Capitulum ... [date 27th June 1573]

Statutes for the Prerogative Court of the diocese of Canterbury, issued by Archbishop Matthew Parker, 27th June 1573. Edited by Wilkins, Concilia, 4:274–75 from same manuscript as previous item.

Same hand as previous item, though in a smaller script, perhaps to fit text to the space available, and possibly written at the same sitting as previous item.

10. fol. 67ar-v
Rubric: Orders concerning the Apparitors in the Prerogatyve Court. /
Incipit: Inprimis euery Apparitor from henceforth
Explicit: not thinke yt convenient.

Registrum Matthei Parker diocesis Cantuariensis A.D. 1559–1575, trans. E. Margaret Thompson and ed. W. H. Frere, 3 vols [The Canterbury and York Society, 35–36 & 39] (Oxford, 1928–33), 3:1061–62.

No rubrication, but same script as previous item. Bottom ten lines of fol. 67av blank.

fol. 67b: blank

11. fol. 68–70v
Rubric: Noua Statuta. Ex libro statutorum de Arcubus suo ordine posita, suis distincta temporibus, aliter quam in libro scribuntur ut facilius ordine quo fuerunt decreta intelligantur
Rubric: [fol. 68v] Rubrciae materiae seu capita singulorum statutorum cum numero folij in quo habentur ordine editionis earundem cum nominibus authorum Singulatim[?] appositis

An index to the preceding items, opening with a listing of the Archbishops with the date of their statutes’ promulgation, followed by a detailed listing, by Archbishop, of the material of each statute.

By the scribe, using the script of items 8–10, with the entry for Matthew Parker, which occupies the top lines of fol. 70v (the bottom two-thirds of the page being blank), being been added, it seems, slightly later.

fol. 71: blank

12. fol. 72–73r
Rubric: Sessiones limitate in curia de Archubus London in quibus Ius redditur

A set of tables outlining the dates of in the church calendar for the sessions of the Court of Arches. This provides a list contrasting with that provided, on the basis of three medieval manuscripts and not citing ours, by Logan, part V (225–29).

Added by the scribe in a lower-grade script with more secretary elements.

fol. 73v: blank

Added texts on the paper leaves:

a. fol. 74–76v
Rubric: [in inner margin:] Curia Cantur’ de Archubus
Incipit: Officialis Curie Cantur’ rescribit ad Appellationum
Explicit: Cantarie in Iurisdictionibus peculiaribus [to right, bracketed: ‘lviij.’]

A list of notes, written in a slanted secretary script (s. xvi3/4), which also appears at Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS 120, pp. 54a-54c. They are ordered by subject, with the left-hand margin used to summarise their subject matter: the workings of the Court are followed by notes on peculiar jurisdictions (fol. 75r-v) and, then, on the churches, colleges and other institutions of the diocese of Canterbury, with particular notice given to suppressed foundations (fol. 76r-v). The notes occupy two-thirds of fol. 76v.

b. fol. 76v-77v
Rubric: Forma admissionis doctoris in Advocatum alme Curie Cant’ ex antiqua consuetudine illius curie observari solita
Incipit: Primo duo de antiquoribus Advocatis
Explicit: et hec sancta Dei evangelia

A set of forms of oaths for the Court of Arches, added in a tiny, thin secretary-influenced script (s. xvii1). The half page below the end of the text at fol. 77v remains blank.

fol. 78: blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: seu procuratoria (fol. iv)
Secundo Folio: Examinatores (fol. 2)
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (usually FSOS, but HSOS in quire 8–9), excepting added paper leaves at end (fol. 74–77; watermark pot, close to Briquet 12520)
Extent: Fols i (unnumbered, blank perhaps a former pastedown) + 88 (first fourteen numbered: i-xiv) + 4 (74–77, the added paper leaves) + 1
Dimensions (leaf): 302 × 209 mm.


18 26 (the s. xv quire, item 5) 3–108 126 (with an added bifolium, as fol. 63 and 78, wrapped around the trinion (fol. 68–73), which is preceded by two further added bifolia and followed by four inserted paper leaves). Rare signs of catchwords at very bottom right (eg fol. 8v), more often removed by rewashing (eg fol. 24v).


For the main section, 29 long lines, above top line, 226 × 147 mm. ; ruled lightly in ink with single vertical border, with frequent signs of full pricking.

For item 5, occupying quire 2 (s. xv), a more complex layout as befits its nature as a calendar: 40 long lines, 250 × 160 mm. ; ruled in ink with eight vertical guide-lines.

For the added paper leaves, the page is unruled but creased to create a left-hand margin, and the number of long lines varies, in text (a), between 35 and 41, while the scribe of text (b) provides 38 lines.


The calendar is in gothic textura quadrata, while the bulk of the manuscript is probably all by a single Parkerian scribe, though writing at several sittings. For the main part (fol. iii-viiiv, 1–64), he writes a bookhand which has been described as ‘formal secretary’, adorned with gothic display text. This combination of scripts by the same scribe is to be found in other manuscripts owned by Matthew Parker, appearing, for instance, at Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS 101, pp. 145–192, MS 61 and MS 488; through the good offices of Alexandra Gillespie, the scribe has been identified as Stephen Batman, on whom see M. B. Parkes, ‘Stephen Batman’s Manuscripts’ in Masahiko Kanno et al. ed., Medieval Heritage. Essays in honour of Tadahiro Ikegami (Tokyo, 1997), 125–56 [republished in Parkes’s Pages from the Past (Farnham, 2012), and A. S. G. Edwards & Simon Horobin, ‘Further Books annotated by Stephen Batman, The Library, 7th ser., 11 (2010), 227–31

Item 7 (fol. 64v-65) was added at a separate sitting in a similar script; that of item 12 (fol. 72–73r) is also similar but of a lower grade.

Item 11 (fol. 68–70v) was perhaps added next, to be followed by items 8–10 (fol. 65v-67av), all in a script which is more upright but shares enough features with the main hand to be equated with it; this script is also used for item 2 (fol. ii).

Of the manuscripts just mentioned, the first, Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS. 101 also, at its pp. 1–6, provides a match for the script seen in items 2 and 8–11. M. R. James tentatively identified the scribe as John Joscelyn (A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1912), 2:190), but that attribution is to be rejected and it may, indeed, be another script by Batman, a protean scribe.


In addition to its woodcut frontispiece (item 1) and inserted fifteenth-century quire with its filigree initials and entries in black, red and blue (item 5), the main part of this manuscript has decoration intended to impress. The title-page (item 3) opens its display script with a swag-capital from which grows a depiction of a lion and a leopard, both rampant. At the bottom of the text-block is painted Matthew Parker’s coat-of-arms (gules, on a chevron argent between three keys argent, three estoiles gules), topped by a cross, with the letters ‘M’ on one side and ‘P’ on another, the whole depicted as hanging on a drape held in place by two small lions sejant erect, each holding a flag-pole and atop a pillar.

At fol. 1, the same hand draws in pen-and-ink flowers each side of the title and a Tudor rose about the first line of text, which is written in gold, with the opening initial placed on a red square. A similar use of gold is to be found at fol. 47. Throughout the text, both the title to each piece and its first word are rubricated, a layout which is repeated in items 8–9.


Leather over millboards. Gold-tooled oval centrepiece and double border with flower at each corner, c. 1580–1620, for which there is no match in David Pearson, ‘English Centrepiece Bindings 1560–1640’, The Library, 6th ser., 16 (1994), 1–17 or id., English Bookbinding Styles, 1450–1800: a handbook (London, 2005). Sewn on five thongs. Two small holes near fore-edge of each board, demonstrating where cloth ties would have once been. No signs of chain staples. No pastedowns. Boards presently (April 2014) detached.


Origin: England (?Lambeth); s. xvi3/4 and s. xv2/4

Provenance and Acquisition

This manuscript was made for Archbishop Matthew Parker, as is shown not only by the presence of his coat-of-arms at fol. 1 but also his distinctive red-crayon writing at top inner margin of fol. 53 and, as underlining, at fol. 3v, 49. It is also clear that it was made for him within his own circle, with the scribes at work here also appearing in other manuscripts produced for the Archbishop. The date of construction of this codicologically curious confection can be estimated with some precision: the main part, and the closing index, was presumably compiled a little before the Ordinance of 1568 which is the first addition, and which, alone of the texts contemporary to Parker’s lifetime, is included in the opening contents list. Further additions were then made in or following 1573.

Something of the later history of the volume is revealed by two letters from the antiquary, Samuel Drake (1687/8–1753), sent from his college of St John’s, Cambridge, to Archbishop Wake; they are now in our collection, among Wake’s documents as MS 244, items 75 and 78. Their context is that Drake was preparing his edition of Parker’s De antiquitate which was to appear in 1729 and be dedicated to the archbishop (a finely bound copy of which is in the Wake collection as WT.1.1). Wake, for his part, was particularly interested in the issue of Parker’s consecration, which had become a matter of controversy (on this, see Norman Sykes, William Wake Archbishop of Canterbury 1657–1737, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1957), 2:318–66). In the course of their discussions, in a letter dated 8th November 1725, Drake mentions ‘a MS. fell into my hands, which I beg leave to mention to your Grace’; he goes on to describe in some detail our manuscript. He also offers to have it sent to the Archbishop at Lambeth. The latter clearly wrote back in the affirmative, and, in response, on 22nd November, Drake sent the volume to him and explained a little more about how he came to see it: ‘the proprietor of it is Mr Cross vicar of Kintbury near Newbery Berks. I believe, My Lord, he wou’d be glad to restore it to the Lambeth Library, to which as your Grace conjectures, it most probably belong’d and was thence carried away in Prynne’s plunder’. The owner is identifiable as Latimer Crosse, second son of Joshua Crosse and a graduate of Wadham College, receiving his BA in 1688 and MA in 1692; he was vicar of Kintbury from 1719 until his death in August 1739 (AO, 356; TNA, PROB 20/648). That Crosse allowed Drake to use the volume is confirmed by the presence of the latter’s annotations at fol. iir-v (collating the text with another copy) and 70 (noting the early print history of the statutes included in this volume). That it then did reach Wake is confirmed by one word appearing in the margin of fol. 68, where Wake himself corrects the text from ‘Stafford’ to ‘Stratford’. Clearly, however, the volume did not pass into the library at Lambeth Palace and, rather, was donated to ChCh along with Wake’s other manuscripts, though it is not listed explicitly in the schedule of the manuscripts given by him, which is our MS 352/8. The inside of the upper board has a ChCh bookplate with both the foundation’s and Wake’s arms.

What remains unclear is the life of our manuscript after Archbishop Parker’s death in 1575 and before it was owned by Latimer Crosse. As has been noted, Wake hypothesised that the manuscript had been held at Lambeth until removed by William Prynne (1600–69) during Archbishop Laud’s trial. There is no internal evidence to corroborate the book’s presence on the South Bank. It is also perhaps to be doubted that the slip of paper which presently rests in the book before fol. 27 and on which is written ‘Th. Wentworth’ (s. xvii) can help us identify an owner; all that can be said for certain is that the script is not that of the divisive political figure, the earl of Stratford (1593–1641).

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.

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.

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