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

Christ Church MS. 417

Thomas Vicary, The Anatomy of Man’s Body; London, s. xvi2/4 (1530 x 1547), with additions of s. xvi4/4


Language(s): English

Fol. 1r: originally blank.

Fols 1v-43v
Rubric: Here after folowyth a lytyll treatys or tract Of the anathomy of Mans body drawen by Mr Thomas Vicare of london Barbour and surgen and sargeant of ye surgeons vnto owre soueren lorde kyng Henry ye viijt. for All hys bretheryn of That felyschype practesyng surgery Nott for them yat be expertly sene In ye anothomy . . . exsept my good wyll.
Incipit: [fol. 2] [heading later in upper margin] Wat Is surgere | ⟨I⟩n nomine dei patris amen forasmoche as surgeri Is a syens ye whyche dothe Teche ⟨a man⟩ to worke In [the word repeated at the line break] bodis of men
Explicit: ye Naylles and thus be There In ye fott xxvjt. bons and In ye leg frome the||
Thomas Vicary, Anatomy of the Body of Man

Ed. Frederick J. and Percy Furnivall, EETS, extra ser. 53 (1888), 11-86/2, working from the 1577 edition (STC 24713). There is said to have been a 1548 edition (STC 11715.5), for which no witnesses survive, but its existence has been doubted by Duncan P. Thomas, ‘Thomas Vicary and the Anatomie of Mans Body’, Medical History, 50 (2006), 235-46 (see also id., ‘Thomas Vicary, barber-surgeon’, Journal of Medical Biography, 14 (2006), 84-89). The text presented here differs markedly from that recorded in the 1577 edition. The identification of Vicary as ‘sergeant of surgeons’ dates the incipit after 1530, when he was given the reversion of this royal office, and it may suggest a date after 1536 when he actually succeeded to the position. The terminus post quem non for composition and this transcription is presumably 1547, since Henry VIII is described with no suggestion he is now dead.

A leaf with the conclusion has been cut out, now replaced by a paper leaf (s. xix, in the foliation ‘44’), which provides the last five lines of the text from the 1577 edition, along with a few notes on the contents of the manuscript; it is all written in the script of F. J. Furnivall.

Medical texts and recipes
2. Fols 45-48
Rubric: [in upper margin] Of Inpostyms and what an Inpostym Is
Incipit: A Inpostym Is Nothyng elles but a gederyng to Geder of superfluite of humores In sum membris
Explicit: frome ye whych seknes owre lord kep us amen

Fol. 48v: blank.

3. Fol. 48v-52
Rubric: [in upper margin] Of an Inpostym flegmon
Incipit: A flegmon is an hott Inpostumacion Gendryd
Explicit: [fol. 51v] whyll with a schynyng or a grenues abowt||

The text is incomplete because of the loss of a leaf between fol. 49 and 50, the cutting away of the bottom half of fol. 51, and the fact that fol. 52 is a mere stub, showing only a few letters on the recto. The text is divided into sections (upper margin of fol. 50: ‘Of ye Inpostym seperois and sklirosis and of malencole’, and of fol. 51v: ‘A Cancer or a Carbukyll’).

Fol. 52v: apparently blank.

4. Fol. 53-54v
Rubric: [in upper margin] A fystula and wat It is
Incipit: A fistula is a serten dyssese
Explicit: grett payn and withowt drawyng of blode if ye bone be corrupe da gloriam deo

Fols 53-56bv are in a hand, perhaps not Geene’s, which has added headings throughout early portions of the MS.

5. Fols 55-55bv
Rubric: [in upper margin] Wat a wunde Is
Incipit: A wounde is as auncient doctors Testefy is a solusyon
Explicit: ye whych accedentes happyn most in Grett woundes and In Iountes

Incomplete through the cutting out of the bottom half of fol. 55b.

6. Fols 56-56bv
Incipit: Whereas be fore here hathe bene Rede serten chapteres of wondes and of Inpostyms vlcers and fustulles . . . Nowe we schall speke of thynges yat fall to Man a Gaynst kynde . . . Thre thynges there be yat greuis Mans kynde That is for to say Cause of seknes
Explicit: hottnes and moystnes and Therefore it is goode to lay to ye brusyde plac
7. Fol. 88v
Incipit: Of lignum vite Rapyd or Turnid iij. pounde and Stepe It one Nyght In fayre Runy(n)g water

A medical recipe, perhaps added on a leaf originally left blank.

8. Fols 89-96
Rubric: [indented title] The plasters cerclothis cataplasmas and oyntmentes contaynyng In Thys bok The makyng of Them with Ther Operacions
Rubric: [fol. 89v; indented title] Your Graces Owne plaster
Incipit: Tak The Rottes of MercheMallus wash and pyke Them Clene Then slyt them
Explicit: and helythe vp withowt payne ye excoreacion

A table of the recipes follows the heading. The initial recipe also appears at the opening of selections printed from BL, MS Sloane 1047, at EETS es 53:220. In the contents table, most of the recipes are marked as ‘secundum Mr Buttes’, for whom see the various Sloane recipes, ed. EETS es 53:223-24, 227, where Sir William Butts (d. 1545) is identified as a royal surgeon. MS Sloane 1047 is a large fair-copy recipe book of c. 1550 (it includes one recipe for Anne of Cleves and thus cannot predate 1540). The recipes are presented in categories which roughly correspond to the types of medicines distinguished in Geene’s heading here.

9. Fols 96v-108v
Rubric: [in upper margin] An Inieccyon for a fystulla In any parte of ye body
Incipit: Tak a quart of ye Iuce of Maregoldes and a quart of ye Iuce of selendyne
Rubric: [indented title] A good medesyn forto pourge ye lyuer and oyer waterry humoures both vp and downe
Incipit: Tak xij. sponfull of ye Iuce of ye Rott of [blue] bleove flourr delyc and on sponfull
Rubric: [fol. 97; indented title] Inplastrum pro [an] vlcera antiqua
Incipit: Tak Neve wax withowt spott clen clarefyde frome ye hony halffe a pounde
Rubric: [indented title] To mak a whytt Incarnat(i)ue
Explicit: smothe and so mak It vp and mak yowr plaster therwith

A recipe collection. One recipe (fol. 99v) is ascribed to ‘My lorde marcus’. Geene has added three recipes on fol. 112rv.

Added texts:

Fols 57-88, 109-11v: all spaces originally left blank in the MS have been filled with a variety of medical notes in English and Latin, in two hands of s. xviex. The first hand here attributes specific remedies to individual medical practitioners: ‘Mr Crow’ (fol. 57; cf. fol. 69v, 72v), ‘Mr Beddem Surgen of S Barth. hospitall’ (fol. 59v [presumably William Bedon, surgeon at St Bartholomew’s from 1569 until his death in 1581: Norman Moore, The History of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, 2 vols (London, 1918), 2:595-6]), ‘Mr Bullocke’ (fol. 71v; fol. 78), ‘Mr Archibold’ (fol. 72v; cf. fol. 78, 82v, 87), ‘Mr Glangfeyldes Rede Balme’ (fol. 74; cf. fol. 82), ‘Mr Feyldes lossion’ (fol. 77), ‘Mr Markam of Colbrooke’ (fol. 79), ‘Roger Mr Alcoks servant’ (fol. 79), ‘Mr Galles powder’ (fol. 80v), ‘Mr Yonges pultus’ (fol. 82). At fol. 83, a date is provided when recording that a particular pultus was ‘made for andres 1579’. The second, and less frequently attested, writes (fol. 84v, the upper margin) the date ‘Apryll the vij. day 1591’; two of the recipes this hand records are said to have been ‘devised by the counsel of Mr Doctor Baylly her majesties chief phisician’, that is Walter Bayley (1529-93) (fol. 84v), on whom, see Sarah Bakewell in Oxford DNB. For the significance of these references, see provenance.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: ⟨I⟩n nomine
Secundo Folio: The fourtt (fol. 3)
Form: codex
Support: Paper, folded in quarto. There are two watermarks:

A: Roue: not in Briquet, but cf. no. 13457 (Bourges, 1509-12; Tours, 1516) and, for the three holly (?) leaves attached to the wheel, no. 13396 (Clermont-Ferrand, 1514-16): the sole stock of quires 1-4, eight full sheets.

B: Pot: not in Briquet, but most closely resembles no. 12677 (Pontoise, 1523), more distantly no. 12645 (Rouen and Grenoble, 1528): the sole stock of the remainder, before losses 21 full sheets, with three halfsheets (in quires 6, 9, and 16) and an unwatermarked odd leaf added to quire 8.

The common paper stocks from fol. 32 suggest that the book was preserved as a (? bound) blank notebook to receive later recipes and medical materials.

Extent: Fols: iv + 113 + ii. First three opening flyleaves unnumbered, fourth fol. 1; main body runs, then, from fol. 2 to 112, with 8, 55, and 56 repeated (the latter as 55b and 56b), and 44 assigned to a nineteenth-century textual supply pasted to a stub. In the original text, a contemporary foliation by the scribe, in which fols 2-43 = 1-43; in addition, a later s. xvi hand, probably the hand of added materials, has paginated fols 57v-88 as 1-64 (omitting 38 and 51) and 96v-112v as 1-29 (10 and 21 repeated, fol. 111rv, following page 27, unnumbered). The lower third of fol. 51 has been torn away, as well as nearly all of fols 52, 65, 73, 79, and 111 (all numbered leaves).
Dimensions (leaf): 280 × 190 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190-95 × 160 mm.


110 (lacking last, removed after fol. 8bis) 2-48 56 68 (lacking sixth, fol. 44, a numbered stub, with pasted on textual supply, s. xix) 78 (lacking fourth, a stub before fol. 50) 84 (with one added at end as fol. 56b) | 96 (lacking third, a stub after fol. 58) 108 (lacking second, a stub after fol. 62) 118 (lacking fourth and fifth, preceding or following fol. 72) 128 (lacking fifth and sixth) 138 (lacking first, a stub before fol. 82) [to fol. 88, a production unit] | 14-158 1610 (lacking first and eight). No catchwords or signatures. In the second production unit, the sews do not always appear to correspond with the evidence of the watermarks.


In long lines, usually 23-24 lines to the page in the original portions. Bounded in brown crayon (vertically, for the left margin only; the writing extends to the right edge), no rules and so no pricking.


Written in mixed anglicana/secretary (with anglicana a and g, frequent anglicana r), with the main and earliest part of the manuscript is in the hand of George Geene. George Geene (or Genne) was, like the author, Thomas Vicary, a prominent member of the Company of Barber-Surgeons; he appears as no. 37 in a list of 185 freemen of Company in 1537 in the edition of Vicary cited below (244-45), first acted as a Warden in 1538, and the last reference to him as Master of the Company comes from 1560 (Sidney Young, Annals of the Barber-Surgeons of London (London, 1890), 5, 6, 95, 99, 102, 169, 170).

Punctuation by mid point and virgula.


Headings in the text ink; no initials or running titles.


Brown cloth over millboards by Maltby of Oxford (s. xx). Sewn on four thongs. Modern paper pastedowns and endleaves, a ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown. At the front, the modern paper flyleaf, a heavy parchment leaf (probably from an older wrapper), a modern paper leaf, and an early modern paper leaf (fol. 1); at the rear, the other half of the wrapper and a modern paper flyleaf.


Origin: England, London; s. xvi2/4 (1530 x 1547), with additions of s. xvi4/4

Provenance and Acquisition

Like many physicians, Geene wrote the book for his personal consultation: ‘This was Mr George Geene his booke Chirurgen of the Citie of London’ above an added medical recipe (fol. 1, s. xvimed.). If this was produced within the ambit of the Barber-Surgeons, later in the century it had moved into other hands in London: of the names mentioned in the added section only Mr Crow, if he is identifiable with William Crowe who was warden of the Company of Barber-Surgeons in 1579 (Young, Annals, 6]), was a significant figure in the Company; the Walter Bayley who is also mentioned was fellow of the College of Physicians from 1581.

There is another early signature, ‘Thomas Nicholas’ (fol. 2, upper margin, s. xvi); he is not one of the scribes of the volume and is not identifiable but it may be noted that he also wrote ‘Mary Nicholles’ at fol. 38.

The manuscript’s subsequent descent is uncertain until the ownership inscription, ‘F. J. Furnivall 15 May 1891’ (fol. 1), that is, the promoter of workers’ education (and rowing), and scholar of Middle English (1825-1910), who edited the text for EETS. Presumably Furnivall would have acquired the manuscript for information useful in the promised second volume of his edition (which never appeared). On him, see William Benzie, Dr. F. J. Furnivall: A Victorian Scholar Adventurer (Norman OK, 1983). Of his library, some of his papers and his personal book-collection were donated by his son, Percy, to the English Department of King’s College, London in 1910; he also owned some manuscripts: Lafayette College (Easton, PA) was given by Furnivall a sixteenth-century English manuscript translation of Bernard Trevisan in 1881 (Seymour de Ricci, Census of medieval and Renaissance manuscrips in the United States and Canada, 2 vols (New York, 1935 – 37), 2:2000), and he bequeathed to Harvard University a copy of Frère Laurent of Orléans’s Somme le Roi which is now Houghton Library, MS Fr. 123, ‘in memory of my dear old friend, Prof. F[rancis] James Child [1825-96]’; a digital facsimile of that manuscript is available on their website [last accessed 30th December 2015].

Also signed by ‘John Munro’ (fol. 1), and with his letter of donation to Christ Church, dated 26 October 1913, and signed J. J. Munro (fol. ii); the gift is also recorded in the Library Report for that year, preserved in MS. 392. Munro (1883-1956) came up to Christ Church in 1913 but left for war service in the eastern Mediterranean; he returned and took degrees, his BA in 1920 and MA in 1921. He edited a collection of memoirs of Frederick James Furnivall. A volume of personal record (Oxford, 1911). He presumably held Furnivall in such admiration because of his own background as a ‘working man’ who became a mature student. He followed Furnivall’s enthusiasms by himself becoming Associate Editor to the Early English Text Society. His career divided between his wartime exploits and his employment in communications; after his retirement, he spent his time in Shakespeare studies (obituary in The Times, 30th October 1956, p. 11).

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.