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

Christ Church MS. 473

Petition to Parliament, 1584; England, s. xviex


Language(s): English

1. fol. 1–26
Rubric: Certain humble Petitions which are in most humble manner to be presented to the godly consideracion of our soveraigne Lady Queene Elizabeth, of the lordes of her most honorable privie Counsell and of the high Coorte of Parliament for the helpe of the poore untaught people of this realme of England and for the reforminge of some ^other^ disorders which are in it
Incipit: 1. That there may be a veiwe taken of all the markett Townes
Explicit: our manifold sinnes do iustly deserve. | O lord god Almightie wee do humbly beseeche thee, in the name of thy beloued sonne our sauiour Jesus to save our Queene Elizabeth and to be merciful to our countrie England. Amen

Printed by John Strype, Annals of the Reformation (London, 1709), 3:Appendix (68–81), working from what is now BL, MS Lansdowne 119. Strype, Annals, 3:221 attributes both the Petition and the related ‘Supplication’, which follows in our codex, to the Puritan divine, Thomas Sampson (d. 1589).

Bottom two-thirds of fol. 26 blank.

fol. 26v and 27: all blank

2. fol. 28–34v
Incipit: ||and painfull preachinge pastors resident among us
Explicit: obey you accordinge to his blessed will thorowly

The complete text, titled A Supplication made in the Name of certain true subjects… and opening ‘In most humble wise complaining, we which are Thousands of the poor untaught People of England…’, is printed by Strype, Annals, 3:222–27. Our copy has lost the title and first 30 lines, as printed by Strype (where 24 lines of our manuscript occupy 16 lines of print), equating presumably to one recto and verso.

Bottom three-quarters of fol. 34v blank.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper (watermark: pot, with crest, single handle, and initials ‘BC’; not in Briquet)
Extent: Fols: 34
Dimensions (leaf): 210 × 155 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190 × 120 mm.


120 214 (originally probably a quire of sixteen, with the central opening now lost from the quire). No quire signatures; catchwords at bottom right of every recto as well as verso.


The text extends to very right edge of page and the numbering of paragraphs in the first item is placed in the expansive inner border.


Written throughout in black ink in a single secretary script, which tends to some extravagancies, including the overbearing size of the horizontal loop that acts as an ascender to the d and the depth of the descender on the h.

Single words – for instance the name of the monarch – or short passages (eg. fol. 10, last line) are written in a larger italic script for emphasis.


Thin boards covered with paper, without a spine, attached by three strings (s. xix). On the inside of the upper board, a ChCh bookplate, above which a note: ‘ChCh Library. The Gift of the Dean 29.xi.1899’ (this information is repeated at the foot of the final verso). Stuck to the first folio is a leaf from a bookseller’s catalogue, Ellis & Elvey, listing this volume as item 175, where it is described as ‘very clearly written, and appears to be an original document of the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign’, with its sale price being £1/1.


Origin: England; s. xviex

Provenance and Acquisition

This small, unadorned manuscript is a copy of a Puritan petition and accompanying ‘supplication’ to the Parliament that met in November 1584 (on the context, see Patrick Collinson, Godly People(London, 1983), 361–64). The text has been attributed to Thomas Sampson who, by the time of their composition, must have been in his late sixties. His origins are not fully clear, but he graduated at Cambridge in 1542 and was a fellow of Pembroke College in 1548; he was a Marian exile and, on his return, refused a bishopric; instead, he was appointed Dean of Christ Church, being installed on 5 September 1561, and made his mark by his determination to extirpate remnants of ‘superstition and idolatry’, including missals (see Introduction). His tenure, however, was short-lived: he was deprived four years later for his Puritan refusal to wear the surplice. This was not quite the end of his association with the House: in 1567, he donated one volume of the set of Concilia generalia, published in Cologne in that year (now G.1.3.3; Ker, ‘Provision’, 503). Meanwhile, he was re-establishing his career as a preacher, only to be afflicted by a series of strokes in 1573 which left him in fear of his life, though he recovered partially and survived until 9th April 1589, producing some writings – apart from this petition attributed to him – in his later years (Alec Ryrie in Oxford DNB; J. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigiensis Part I, 4 vols (Cambridge, 1922–24), 4:12; for his time in Oxford, see C. M. Dent, Protestant Reformers in Elizabethan Oxford (Oxford, 1983), 29–39).

The history of our manuscript is unclear until the early nineteenth century when it was included in the 1824 catalogue of the London bookseller, Thomas Rodd (no. 4981 – the number is written in pencil at the top left of fol. 1 – priced at 7s 6d; Schoenberg Database, no. 85360), and was one among several volumes bought by Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872) (A. N. L. Munby, The Formation of the Phillipps Library up to the Year 1840(Cambridge, 1954), 47). It was his MS 4064: the number is at top left of fol. 1 and again, below his book-stamp, at the final verso; it is also on a glued slip at the foot of fol. 1. It appears in his catalogue: The Phillipps Manuscripts…, intro. A. N. L. Munby (London, 1967) [Photostat reproduction of Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, Bart A.D. 1837(Middle Hill, 1837)], 58. After his death, it was put up for sale at Sotheby’s in London on the first day of the sale of part of his manuscript collection, taking place on 19–22 June 1893, when it was number no. 199, being described in the sale catalogue as ‘curious and important’. It would appear that it was bought back by his grandson, Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick, who had charge of the collection after Phillipps’s death, since at bottom right of final verso, written at right angles to page: ‘T.F.F. x D[?] 1893’.

He did not hold on to it for long: as is revealed by the tipped-in folio at the front board, it soon passed to the London booksellers, Ellis & Elvey, from whom it was bought by the Dean of ChCh, Francis Paget. He, in turn, donated it to the House with another manuscript of ‘eleven letters of Dean Gaisford to Dr. Ch. Burney’, now MS 436 (both gifts recorded for 1899–1900 at Library Records 45/15, no. 5). It is not clear whether Paget had purchased this small volume conscious of the association with one of his earliest predecessors; he was certainly aware of the significance of Thomas Sampson from Strype’s Annals, for he mentions him in his Introduction to the fifth book of Hooker’s treatise Of the laws of ecclesiastic policy(Oxford, 1899). Paget (1851–1911), himself a Houseman, was appointed Dean in succession to Henry Liddell in 1892. His tenure is partly remembered for the raucousness of the undergraduates in his time: a letter, dated 17th May 1894 survives in which he assures complainants about his harsh treatment of student revellers that those who smashed windows the previous Friday had not been sent down, only rusticated, and that the blame for the damage rested with ‘strangers who were guests of the Bullingdon Club’ (Library Records 94/1). In 1901, he was preferred to the bishopric of Oxford, which he held until his death (E. H. Pearce, rev. J. F. A. Mason in Oxford DNB).

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.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.