Christ Church MS. 338
Statutes of Cardinal College, Ipswich; England (Westminster), 1528
The unpublished statutes (acephalous and interrupted) for Thomas Wolsey’s Cardinal College, Ipswich, the one school of Wolsey’s plan to establish a set of ‘feeders’ for for his Oxford college actually to be founded (on which, see Introduction, ‘Before Christ Church’). Its brief history (with bibliography of older items) is provided by James M. W. Willoughby ed., The Libraries of Collegiate Churches, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 15, 2 vols (London, 2013), 1:252-68. Following the explicit of the statutes, Wolsey’s signature appears (see provenance).
An index to the preceding statutes; the current incipit of the volume occurs in the 25th section listed there, and the index breaks off in materials on the present fol. 20 (the original fol. 40).
In long lines, 35 lines to the page (written above top line). Signs of full pricking on some leaves in the last quire; bounded and ruled in violet (sometimes red) ink, with double horizontal borders for top and bottom lines, extending to edge of page, as do single vertical borders.
Written in formal secretary, datable to the year of the college’s foundation, ie 1528 (but not in Watson, DMO).
Punctuation by point, modern comma, and virgula.
Headings in the text ink, in bastard secretary. Decorated capitals at the heads of statutes in three styles, by the same hand: most often, five- or six-line examples constructed out of animal forms on leafy grounds in ink, with reddish wash, on two occasions (fol. 1, 7v) depicting Wolsey’s leopard’s head above a crown (cf. MS. 339); imitation of contemporary continental painted ‘classical’ initials (very close to the style of MS 101) in pen and ink (fol. 3, 6, 8v, 20), and several elaborate swag capitals.
Brown reversed calf over millboards, with a central rectangle formed of a floral roll and with fleurons at the corners, and a blind fillet at very edge of each board; attributable to Richard Sedgley and probably dating from the 1680s (see MS 340, binding). Sewn on six thongs. In the upper spine compartment, in gilt on a red leather tab ‘Ipswich College’, above which in pen ‘Statuta Collegij Ipsuicensis’ (s. xviiex / s. xviiiin; same hand on spine of MS 340 etc). Two holes through the gutter of all leaves (80mm and 175mm from foot); comparison with our MS 339 suggests that these once held the cords from which hung a box with the cardinal’s seal and this, in turn, suggests that the original binding was probably limp leather or possibly a wrapper. Present fol. 1 is rubbed, consonant with it having been left unbound after losing its early leaves.
Provenance and Acquisition
That this manuscript is an original set of the college’s statutes made for its founder is suggested by its illumination and confirmed by the presence of his signature, ‘T Carlis Ebor’ Fundator’, at fol. 35v, lower margin, below last line of text. It is not clear where the manuscript was at his fall or what happened to it immediately thereafter. Apart from rubbing and probationes pennae , the book’s only other addition is ‘Rob’ Clay’ (fol. 1, upper margin, s. xvii). The script of this note is the same as appears in, for instance, BodL, MS Bodley 728, fol. iiv, where he gives some information about himself: ‘Liber Roberti Clay De Clayhous in Comitatu Eborum. 1610’. This Robert Clay was the nephew of Sir Henry Savile, and himself a Mertonian, vicar of Halifax from 1624 until his death in 1628, where he founded a library in his parish church. Presumably, as well as being a donor to the new University Library known as the Bodleian (not only MS Bod. 728 but also MSS Auct D.2.18, e Musaeo 55, Bod. 59, Bod. 515 and Bod. 676), he thought this manuscript would be an appropriate gift to Oxford’s Cathedral (rather than to the Library; thus, it does not appear in the Donors’ Register, MS LR 1). Note that this Robert Clay is not to be confused with the vicar of Flore (Northants) who once owned our MS 145.
When this manuscript arrived at the House, it became part of the archive held in the Cathedral’s Chapter House, on which see the Headnote above. It was in situ by the time that the present binding was supplied; it was later recorded as number 15 in the 1771 catalogue of the Chapter House books: ChCh Archives, D&C iv.a.1, fol. 13.
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