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

Christ Church MS. 123

Register of writs; England, s. xivin.


Language(s): Latin

Fols 1–189v
Incipit: ⟨E⟩dwardus dei gracia Rex Anglie . . . Balliuis suis de tali loco salutem Precipimus vobis quod sine dilacione plenum Rectum teneatis Willielmo de Sutton
Explicit: vel perdendum in loquela que est coram vobis in Hustenge nostro london

A register of writs, listed (like our MS 103 (item 19), but not our MS 102) by de Haas and Hall, xxiii. Only seven lines written on fol. 189v; this leaf and the remainder were originally blank; fol. 190 has been bounded and ruled.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: solidatis
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (FSOS).
Extent: Fols: ix + 190 + iii (numbered fols 191–93). First flyleaf at front and last two at back paper added with binding (fol. i, 192–93); all others medieval parchment.
Dimensions (leaf): 125 × 90 mm.
Dimensions (written): 94 × 53 mm.
(with a column 12mm wide along the leading edge to identify the writs)


1–238 248 (lacking seventh and last, both blanks). Catchwords just right of the inner bounding line, at very foot of page with several cropped. A variety of signature systems, all fragmentary, with most of the signs cut away. From the survivors, all leaves in the first half of each quire were signed /-//// and the fifth leaf marked with a cross, in red and blue ink and brown crayon. Some quires also have letter signatures: quires 1–10 are signed on the first recto and last verso a-k, and quires 19 and 23 are signed with letters, up to aaa and to dddd, respectively (quire 22 was ignored in this sequence).


The upper corners of leaves after fol. 175 have been eaten away, but without text loss.


In long lines, usually 24 (sometimes 23) lines to the page.

No signs of pricking; bounded and ruled in brown crayon, in later portions lead. Double vertical borders, that to left of text reserved for paraph marks; text often extends to the outer of the two right binding lines; all borders and lines extend to the edge of the page.


Written in a small anglicana formata.

Punctuation by occasional point only.


At the opening of the text, a nine-line space for an initial unfilled. At the opening of individual writs or chapters, alternate red and blue paraphs; the titles for each in the marginal column in text ink, introduced by a paraph of the other colour. In the first fifteen leaves, running titles to identify the writs, added in anglicana, s. xv2.


Millboards with rebacked spine in tan leather, half morocco, s. xx. Pastedowns modern paper, a ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown. The first parchment flyleaf at front and that at back (fol. ii and 191) both show signs of having been a pastedown in an earlier binding.


Origin: England; s. xivin

Provenance and Acquisition

It is not possible to reconstruct the early history of this volume. There is a name cancelled at fol. iv, and two erased ownership inscriptions at fol. 189v (following the explicit). From the seventeenth century, there is a name ‘John Rakeby[?]’ at fol. vi. The first fully identifiable owner writes his name at fol. v: ‘Æ Lanct lee his Booke 1671 | Eldred lancelott lee’. He has also signed on fol. 190, above an erased ownership inscription; and on fol. 191. On fol. 190, he follows his name with ‘qui ego hoc petiuit tam pro regni quam pro seipso sequitur ver... et desendit ‘, the remainder abraded away. In addition, at fol. 189v, he writes ‘Rogerus hope vnus clericorum francisci wythini in officio placitorum’, and ‘Iohannes Yonge seruiens [the rest overwritten with flourishes]’ (the latter’s name also at fol. 190v). Eldred Lancelot Lee (Eldred presumably after the eleventh-century bishop of Worcester in whose diocese the Lee family’s ancestral home of Coton Hall, Shropshire, sat) is a known legal clerk from the reign of Charles II: J. S. Cockburn, ‘Seventeenth-Century Clerks of Assize – Some Anonymous Members of the Legal Profession’, The American Journal of Legal History, 13 (1969), 315–332 (328). The notes mentioning Hope and Yonge appear to be intended as aide-memoires concerning legal staff; that concerning Hope mentions the Tory judge Sir Francis Wythens (on whom see Eveline Cruickshanks in B. D. Henning, The History of Parliament: the House of Commons, 1660–1690(Cambridge, 1983), 3 vols, 3:783–84 and Stuart Handley in Oxford DNB). In 1686, Wythens and Eldred Lancelot Lee sat together on the Maidstone Assize: J. S. Cockburn, Calendar of Assize Records: Kent Indictments, Charles II, 1676–88(Woodbridge, 1997), 243 (no. 1261). It is reasonable to imagine that Lee carried this pocket-sized registrum brevium with him.

The earliest indication of ChCh ownership is the note: ‘The Dean at the request of Dr Wheeler one of the Chaplains of Christ Church deposited this Book in the Library June 20 1822’ (fol. ix). The Dean in question was Charles H. Hall; he matriculated at Christ Church in 1779, and received four degrees: his BA in 1783, MA in 1786, BD in 1794, and DD in 1800. He was a canon of Christ Church from 1799, the Regius Professor of Divinity 1807–9, and Dean from 1809 until 1824, when he moved to the deanery of Durham; he died in 1827 aged 70 (AOmod, 587; J. F. A. Mason in Oxford DNB). Charles Wheeler was chaplain of Christ Church 1820–31 and died in 1835, aged 38 (AOmod, 1534). The volume includes the old ChCh shelfmark ‘Arch Sup C.25’ (pencil, fol. ivv), suggesting that this was added to the end of the C section which, in the New Library Catalogue, ended at 24 (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.

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.

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