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

Christ Church MS. 151

John Walton, verse translation of Boethius, Consolatio Philosophiae; England, s. xvex


Language(s): Middle English

1. Fols 1–127
Incipit: Insuffishaunce of connyng and wytte | Defaute of langage
Explicit: of þe Iuge on hie | That all þing’ doth beholde plenerly Amen
Final rubric: Explicit liber Boicij de Consolacione Philosophie de latino in Anglicum translatus per Iohannem Waltoun nuper Canonicum de Oseney Anno domini Millesimo CCCCmo Decimo
Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae (tr. John Walton)

IMEV 1597; DIMEV 2677; ed. Mark Science, EETS 170 (1927); he describes our manuscript at xiii-iv. The manuscript is one of only two – the other being Oxford: Balliol College, MS 316A – that now contain a full and accurate authorial ascription; see Science, xlii (the fragmentary Copenhagen: Kongelike Bibliothek, MS Thott 304 2º, which formed compositor’s copy for the 1525 print, presumably once included a yet fuller identification of the author and his patron, Elizabeth Berkeley, countess of Warwick). This manuscript is a twin of Balliol MS. 316A, with the same contents, but the two lyrics here added are in the original hand there. Although Balliol MS. 316A has a flashier opening page, it is much plainer in its overall decorative scheme. Mynors notices (333) that our manuscript has been corrected against that at Balliol (which arrived in their collection in 1656).

Fol. 127v was originally blank, now with added texts:

a. Fol. 127va-vb
Incipit: Ihesu for thi blode þou bleddest | And ⟨i⟩n the furst tym
(IMEV 1701; DIMEV 2838), ed. Carleton Brown, Religious Lyrics of the XVth Century (Oxford, 1939), 95–97, from Balliol MS. 316A.
b. Fol. 127vb
Incipit: I the honour with all myght | In forme of brede as y þe see
(IMEV 1372; DIMEV 2292), ed. Rossell H. Robbins, ‘Private Prayers in Middle English Verse’, Studies in Philology, 36 (1939), 466–75 at 472–73, also from Balliol MS. 316A.

In double columns, about 35 lines; single line red lombards at the opening of each stanza, line brackets in red, two- and three-line red lombards, unflourished, to introduce each of two lyrics; in secretary, s. xvex.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: On auenture
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (FSOS)
Extent: Fols: 127 + i (numbered 128, but also marked as fol. i)
Dimensions (leaf): 220 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 150 × 95 mm.
(to the bounds, not the line ends)


1–158 168 (-8, a stub, presumably blank). Catchwords running into the gutter. All leaves in the first half of each quire originally signed with a letter and arabic numeral, most now the victims of damp and the deteriorating corners; sporadically visible in quires 5–13, in this system e-o. In addition, quire 5 includes bits of more faded set in crayon, ‘f iij’ and ‘f iiij’ on fols 35–36.


Rather dog-eared at the edges, especially in the lower corners of pages, where there is also considerable spotting from damp. The text obliterated by damp on the lower halves of fols 21v-25 and isolated readings damaged on fols 49–53v, 58v-77v, 91v, 93v-127.


In long lines, 28–31 lines to the page.

No signs of pricking; bounded in stylus but unruled.


Written in secretary.

Unpunctuated, rare point.


Headings in red for textual divisions (the Latin incipits are in text ink) and in the marginal ‘B[oethius]’ and ‘P[hilosophia]’ which designate the speakers. The opening leaf, much faded, has a five-line painted red lombard as part of a demivinet of leaves and flowers. At the openings of the books, three-line champes; at the openings of smaller textual divisions, two-line champes (one on fol. 72v cut out), all in gold leaf with red and blue, with green and gold floral sprays. The quality of the decoration deteriorates through the volume; e.g., after quire 6 (fol. 48), there is no green paint or leafy design in the sprays. Stanzas introduced by alternate one-line red and blue lombards. See AT no. 535 (53), dating s. xv med.


A limp vellum wrapper, s. xv. Sewn on four thongs. On the upper cover at the leading edge, a pair of triangular sets of holes from the seats for metal clips to hold ribbon ties; two holes at the centre of the lower cover where they would have been secured. A ChCh bookplate inside the upper cover. No pastedowns.


Origin: England ; s. xvex

Provenance and Acquisition

There is no very useful information and no indication of the donor. There are a few names, ‘William Bryante William hustence [? Iustence] Henery Sloper ye 28 of may’ and pentrials (fol. 128, s. xvi/xvii). At the inside of the upper cover, the New Library shelfmark, now rather indistinct, in Edward Smallwell’s hand: ‘B.3’ (see Appendix IV). There is, at bottom centre of fol. 127, another pre-ChCh shelfmark: ‘283’ (s. xvii?). The absence of this manuscript from the 1676 catalogue and that of the Old Archives (Appendices I and II) may suggest a mid-eighteenth century date of arrival.

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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