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

Christ Church MS. 125

John Hargrave, commentaries on logic and physics; France (Rheims), 1585–1587


Language(s): Latin

fol. 1 lost

1. fol. 2–201 [paginated as foll.3-foll.401]
Incipit: ||sententia nomine Duplicae solam partem
Explicit: nos reddit et securissimos
Final rubric: Finis tractatus totius Logicae cui vltimam manum imposuit Dominus Jhoannes Hargravus Anglus in collegio Anglorum Rhemis Die 29º Julii anno Domini millesimo quingentessimo[sic] octogesimo sexto
John Hargrave, Commentary on Porphyry on Aristotle’s Categories

The text opens with a set of ‘prolegomena’ divided into five disputationes, each sub-divided into quaestiones (fol. 2–23v [paginated as ‘foll.’ 3–46]). It is followed by a blank folio (fol. 24 [paginated as ‘foll.’ 47–48]), a continuous section divided into explicationes which are sub-divided into quaestiones (fol. 25–66v [paginated as ‘foll.’ 49–132]), and then, without a break a set of ‘tractatus’. These occupy fol. 67–201 [paginated as ‘foll.’ 133–401, with breaks at ‘foll.’ 133, 145, 161, 169, 177, 223, 253, 281, 355, 393, and with ‘foll.’ 178, 222, 280 and 354 blank].

fol. 201v-201av: blank

2. fol. 202–374v [foliated as fol. 1–173v]
Incipit: Prolegomena in phisica / Absoluta iam logica disceptione
Explicit: restitit magis terminanti
John Hargrave, Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics (incomplete).

This manuscript is unnoticed by Lohr but he does record another copy BL, MS Add. 11493: Charles H. Lohr, Latin Aristotle Commentaries, 6 vols (Florence, 1988–2005), 2 (1988), 182. That other copy is also holograph and has the same text but with further sections.

The text opens (like item 1) with a set of prolegomena, here divided into quaestiones (fol. 202–207 [‘foll. 1–6’]). That is followed by a set of tractatus (opening, in our manuscript, at fol. 207 [‘foll. 6’], 217 [‘foll. 16’], 234 [‘foll. 33’], 243 [‘foll. 42’], 254 [‘foll. 53’], 259 [‘foll. 58’], 265 [‘foll. 64’], 270v [‘foll. 69’v], 274 [‘foll. 73’], 283 [‘foll. 82’], 286 [‘foll. 85’], 288 [‘foll. 87’], 291 [‘foll. 90’], 296 [‘foll. 95’], 306 [‘foll. 105’], 309v [‘foll. 108’v], 315 [‘foll. 114’], 322 [‘foll. 121’], 327v [‘foll. 126’v], 332 [‘foll. 131], 335 [‘foll. 134’], 342 [‘foll. 141’], 352v [‘foll. 151’v]), with a ‘digressio’ at fol. 249v [‘foll. 48v’]. The following pages are blank: fol. 240v [‘foll. 139’v] (all but top five lines), and fol. 341r-v [‘foll. 140’], as are bottom ten lines of fol. 363v [‘foll. 162’v] and top half of fol. 364 [‘foll. 163’].

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: sententia
Form: codex
Support: Paper (two watermarks found together within quires: a crowned coat-of-arms, with a root set between two sets of scissors, no match in Briquet; a name of ?10 letters, too close to the spine to be legible)
Extent: Fols: ii + 392
Dimensions (leaf): 208 × 177 mm.
Dimensions (written): 175–190 × 125 mm.


18–1 (first removed before fol. 2 [‘foll. 3’]) 2–258 262 [to fol. 201a; end of production unit] 27–338 3412 35–428 436 (text ending at second, fol. 374, with all following blank) 448 456 (with last as pastedown). No signatures or catchwords.


Text-frame bounded in brown ink but unruled, with double outer border and double upper border, the latter for running headers.

The result of the lack of ruling is a large variation in the number of long lines, 54–68 in item 1, and 54–74 in item 2.


Written throughout in one tiny secretary script with headings in thick humanist cursive, the scribe and author identifying himself at fol. 201 as John Hargrave.


The text is placed within the ruled frame, with some over-running, with marginal notes by the scribe in item 1, up to fol. 134v [paginated as ‘foll.’ 268]. After that page, the outer margin is left blank, except for some marginal geometrical drawings at fol. 279r-v [‘foll. 78’]. Throughout, sections are marked by centring the title, and within sections, passages open with thick-set letters in the same style. There are also running headers throughout, placed in the upper tramlines, as are the ‘folio’ numbers, actually, for the first item, page numbers.

In item 2, pen-and-ink swag capitals with the following being inhabited: fol. 202 [‘foll. 1’] (grotesques and lion), 207 [‘foll. 6’] (small-breasted female torso), 243 [‘foll. 42’] (Bacchus on a barrel), 249v [‘foll. 48’v] (face and helmet), 254 [‘foll. 53’] (face and fruit), 259 [‘foll. 58’] (grotesque face), 270v [‘foll. 69’v] (hook-nosed bishop’s head), 215 [‘foll. 114’] (face) and 252v [‘foll. 151’v] (grotesque faces). There is no equivalent decoration present in item 1, but there is off-set from the lost fol. 1 at fol. iiv which suggests that the opening of item 1 had a similar style of swag capital with the letter ‘D’ occupied by a depiction of the Crucifixion.


Rebacked, with the original boards retained. Sewn on five thongs. Gilded centrepiece, at the blank centre of which is stamped in gold, on the upper board, ‘T’ and, on the lower, ‘M’, placed within a thin gold rectangle placed at very edge of board (England?, s. xvii1). On fore-edge of leaves is painted ‘Logica et philosophia’. A ChCh bookplate at the inside of the upper board


Origin: France (Rheims); 1585–1587

Provenance and Acquisition

The scribe reveals his identity at the colophon to item 1 (fol. 201). Other sources allow us to flesh out the life of John Hargrave: he was, aged eighteen, at the English College in Rome in the year of its change of status from Hospice, 1579, and he trained there as a priest, his ordination as deacon being recorded as occurring in November 1582 (Liber Rvber Venerabilis Collegii Anglorum de Vrbe. I Annales Collegii. Pars prima. Nomina Alvmnorvm I. A.D. 1579–1630, ed. Wilfrid Kelly [Catholic Record Society, 37] (London, 1950), 11 [no. 37]; Anthony Kenny, ‘From Hospice to College 1559–1579’ in The English Hospice in Rome (Leominster, 2005) [reprint of The Venerable, 21(1962)], 218–73 (at 255n); The First and Second Diaries of the English College, Douay, intro. Thomas F. Knox (London, 1878), 358). Six years later, in the summer of 1585, he left Rome and, according to the records of the English College of Douai, which was then temporarily resident in Rheims, he arrived at their institution on his way to England but ‘detentus est hic ad docendam philosophiam’ (Douay Diaries, 13, 207). He never did return to the land of his birth: on 18th August 1589, he left the College: ‘Lotharingiam missus est ... ut in monasterio philosophiam et theologiam monachis praelegeret’ (Douay Diaries, 225); on 17th October of the following year, the College heard that their former lecturer in philosophy had died (Douay Diaries, 237).

Hargrave must have begun work on this manuscript soon after he arrived in Rheims. He dates the completion of the first item to 29th July 1586, and then, in the second item, provides fitfully a set of dates. It would be natural to assume that they signal the progress of his copying but the other holograph manuscript of his commentary on the Physics suggests another explanation. That codex, now BL, MS Add. 11493, opens with the title (fol. 4): ‘Prologomena in libros phisicorum domino Johanne hargravo praelectore in collegio Anglorum 20 octobris Rhemis’. Later in that manuscript, he gives some further dates, starting with ‘post pascha’ (fol. 152v) and ‘10 Aprilis’ (fol. 153), and concluding with ‘Junij 26 1587’ (fol. 221) and ‘Junij 27’ (fol. 222). It appears, then, that the dates in both volumes are intended to reflect the progress not of copying but of his lecturing. Yet, this information can still probably help us date the two volumes: BL, MS. Add. 11493 opens with a date earlier than those in our manuscript but then picks up the dating about six weeks after the last mention of a day in our manuscript. That lack of overlap in datings, combined with the incomplete nature of our manuscript suggests that Hargrave abandoned this volume, copied out the sections he had written into his second copy and then continued with that one. So, we have an approximate, if not a precise, date for production of the manuscript: it would seem likely that he began working on it late in 1585, probably paused between ending the first item and beginning the second, and eventually abandoned it in late February or early March 1587.

We might hypothesise how this work by a recusant came to be bound probably in England in the decades after its production. A possible scenario is that Hargrave left the manuscript at Rheims and that the owner who had his initials stamped onto the binding was a member of the College. If so, the most likely candidate would be Thomas Manger, who was from the Winchester diocese, arrived at the College in Rheims on 8th September 1586 – that is, in the months Hargrave was working on our manuscript – ‘ut dialecticae operam daret’ (Douay Diaries, 15, 212); he was sent to the College in Rome in September 1587 but returned to Rheims a few years later, after Hargrave had died (Liber Rvber, p. 63 [no. 192]). He was ordained in Rheims in 1592 and proposed to be ‘repetitor’ for the College in Douai (Douay Diaries, 214, 217, 243, 244, 248–250, 280). He was there at the start of December 1594 (Letters of William Allen and Richard Barret 1572–1598, ed. P. Renold [Catholic Record Society, 38] (Oxford, 1967), 302), but, soon after, his career was to take him back to England where he became Catholic Archdeacon of Somerset and Dorset, and was still alive in 1612 (Joseph Gillow, A Literary and Biographical History, or bibliographical dictionary of the English Catholics..., 5 vols (London, 1885–1887), 4:401–402; Michael Questier, Newsletters from the Archpresbyterate of George Birkenhead(Cambridge, 1998), 172n). It seems that he was himself something of an author, collecting information on English Catholic martyrs (L. E. Whatmore, ‘The Venerable William Pike, Layman’, Recusant History, 9 (1968), 258–63 (259); Richard Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. John H. Pollen (London, 1924), 169, 198). If he was, indeed, the owner of our volume, then he presumably returned with it to England, and had it bound there. Perhaps it was him who pored over the book after dark: there are wax stains which we can take to be from a candle (eg fol. 162v [‘foll. 324’]).

We do not know by what route the manuscript descended from Manger – or whoever was ‘TM’ – to its donor to Christ Church a century later. The gift is recorded in an inscription at the first flyleaf: ‘Librum Hunc Bibliothecae Ædis Xti Oxon Donavit Gulielmus Carpender Parochiae de Stanton super Vagam in Agro Herefordensi Rector. eiusdem Ædis olim Alumnus. A. D. 1707’. This is corroborated by the entry in the Library Donors’ Book, p. 230b, where it is noted that the same William Carpender also gave our MS 92 (to which turn for discussion of this Houseman). The combination of books made an odd coupling.

There is the former New Library shelf-mark ‘G7’ at the inside of the upper board (see Appendix IV). It had earlier appeared as an addition in the Archives catalogue begun in 1676 (see Appendix I, [16]).

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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