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

Christ Church MS. 167

Catalogue of part of Archbishop Parker’s donation of books to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; England, s. xvi/s. xvii


Language(s): Latin

Fol. 1–49v
Rubric: Libri in minore bibliotheca
Incipit: Homerus grece Odisse et Ilias
Explicit: Rotula in pergameno de Anglia tecta in corio rubro
Catalogue of Archbishop Matthew Parker’s gift of books to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Covering only the ‘inward library’ and not including the list of books, all printed, in the ‘outward library’ (‘maior bibliotheca’). The full list is provided in the so-called Parker Register, Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS 575. That manuscript, and other copies of the catalogue (but not ours), are discussed by R. I. Page, Matthew Parker and his books (Kalamazoo, 1993), 2–16 (esp. 3).

As in the relevant section of the Register, the list opens with manuscripts, described by title with brief incipit placed in right-hand column (fol. 1–14), followed by printed books, with a few manuscripts interspersed (fol. 14v-49v); the printed books are described by title, with size (‘fol.’, ‘4º, ‘8º’) and year of publication placed in right-hand column. Again following the Register, the listing of the printed books is divided into three, with a blank page (fol. 30v) separating first and second, while the second, which lists miscellanies (fol. 31–40v), is separated by two blank folios (fol. 41 & 42) from the final section, which is defined by subject matter (epistolaries, material relating to synods, universities and ecclesiastical matters). The opening section also repeats the Register’s divisions by place within the ‘inward library’: ‘on the ground under’ (fol. 13v-14); ‘Bookes in parchment closures as they lye on heapes’ (fol. 14v-21v); ‘Standing on the shelues within the lockers as here directed by 7 figures’ (fol. 22–28v); ‘Uppon the shelues top’ (fol. 29–30). The listing of manuscripts is also divided with groups being designated a letter, as is the first section of miscellanies.

Despite all the similarities with the Register, our manuscript is not an identical copy of it. At several points, the absence of a volume is noted by the scribe by writing ‘deest’ to the left and the initials ‘JP’ to the right of the title; the works thus designated in our manuscript do not appear in the Register. The initials are those of John Parker, the archbishop’s eldest son, who is known to have checked his late father’s collection before it was sent to Corpus in 1593 [R. I. Page, ‘The Parker Register and Matthew Parker’s Anglo-Saxon manuscripts’, TCBS, 8 (1981), 1–17 (2)]. As one of the absences is ‘Chronica Abingdone’ with the incipit ‘Anno a plenitudine’, the manuscript can be identified as CUL, MS Dd.ii.5, which was among the volumes given by the Archbishop to the University in 1574. The prototype of our catalogue, then, must have been produced before that gift, and so be slightly earlier than the recension that appears in the Register.

The absences, however, cannot all be explained by Parker’s donation to Cambridge University. They also include, for instance, ‘Eliensis historia maior’ with the incipit ‘Cum Animadverterem’ (fol. 2v); this is identifiable as the ‘Liber Eliensis’, of which there are four known manuscripts, none of which has been identified as Parker’s: see E. O. Blake ed., Liber Eliensis [Camden Society, 3rd ser., xcii], lx. Of those four, that until recently kept at Ely (and now deposited in CUL) can obviously be excluded, as can (because of its contents) BL, MS Cotton Domitian XV, leaving the likelihood that either Cambridge: Trinity College, MS O.2.1 or Bodleian, MS Laud misc. 647 (both of which include antiquarian notes) passed through Parker’s hands. On the partial dispersal of Parker’s collection, see Timothy Graham, ‘Matthew Parker’s Manuscripts: an Elizabethan library and its use’ in CHLBI, 1: 322–42 (337).

Fol. 50–92: blank, with fol. 50–60 ruled.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper (watermark: four-leafed flower with basal leaves, within a double oval; no match in Briquet)
Extent: Folios: ii + 92 + i (pencil foliation, top right, added February 2014: 1–92).
Dimensions (leaf): 180 × 139 mm.
Dimensions (written): 115 × 121 mm.


Quires of eight: 1–118 12–132. No catchwords, and no leaf or quire signatures.


Variable number of lines, between 12 and 23, but most pages leave blank space.

Only borders ruled in pencil: one horizontal (30mm from top) and either two or three vertical.


Two contemporaneous scripts combining italic and secretary features, with first hand writing fol. 1–30 and the second fol. 31–49v (ie the final two sections). Kitchin dated the manuscript to ‘saec. xvi’, noting correctly that ‘the latest date of a printed book given is A. D. 1574’; the scripts, however, may be as late as the early seventeenth century.


No decoration to this workmanlike copy. The scribes provide letters or headings in the top margin. The first scribe also provides on occasion a pagination in both the part he writes and that provided by his colleague: fol. 31–49 = pp. 69–103, but fol. 21–23 = 135–139, and fol. 26–30 = pp. 137–145 [!] and fol. 25 = p. 159 [!].


Vellum, half-backed in rough card, possibly s. xviii. Sewn on two thongs. Pastedowns and conjoint flyleaves later (s. xx?) additions, with a rectangle cut out at front pastedown so as to reveal the ChCh bookplate. Same paper label stuck to spine with present manuscript number.


Origin: England ; s. s. xvi/s. xvii

Provenance and Acquisition

This small volume provides no explicit information about either its production or its route to Christ Church. While ChCh manuscript numbers do not relate exactly to order of accession, the high number within Kitchin’s designation of ‘codices MSS. Anglici’ (though this is only in small part in English), the absence of an early shelfmark and its non-appearance in any catalogue of the manuscripts before Kitchin all suggest that this did not arrive before the nineteenth century or, if it did, it was as part of Archbishop Wake’s bequest, which was excluded from Edward Smallwell’s cataloguing of the main archive (see Appendix IV). Wake certainly showed interest in his learned predecessor: this is evidenced not only by our MS 112 but also by his owning of a copy of the printed catalogue of Parker’s donation to Corpus (London, 1722), which now forms the opening part of MS 294 (though there is no sign that the printed catalogue and this manuscript have been compared). This manuscript, however, does not appear in the autograph list of the manuscripts he left to ChCh, MS 352/8, nor in the earliest catalogue of the ‘Arch.’ section of the collection as organised in its new home (MS LR 21b). However, that catalogue is written by two hands and the second script (s. xviii3/4) may be identifiable with that which appears on a blue slip sitting within our volume (presently between fols 48 and 49) and records a shelfmark: ‘E.1’. Perhaps, then, this was added as a late arrival to the Wake collection, with the Wake librarian cognisant of the archbishop’s interests.

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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