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

MS. Holkham misc. 31

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)


Nicholas Upton, De re militari

(as pr. E. Bysshe (London, 1654)); with a few marginal notes by James Strangeman (see under Provenance).

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: actus viciosi
Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: iii (paper) + 72 + iii (paper)
Dimensions (leaf): 340 × 240 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 225 × 145–50 mm.
Foliation: The main text with early foliation in ink: 'fol 1' to 'fo 72'; endleaves foliated in modern pencil: i-iii, 73–75.


1(8)-9(8), catchwords


40 written lines per page; in 2 columns


fine bâtarde


Initials, mainly blue with red flourishes, a few gold with purple flourishes. A series of coats of arms in colour (fols. 37v onward). (P&A iii.1151)


Typical Holkham binding of polished brown leather; the spine lettered in gilt 'UPTON | DE OFFICIO | MILITARI'.


Origin: English ; 15th century, second half

Provenance and Acquisition

'Johannes ... scripsit hunc librum ... de arte arm...', not in the same script as the main text (fol. 72r, partly obliterated).

William Harvey, Clarenceux King at Arms (d. 1567).

Strangeman family, Essex: inscribed 'This Boake was wrightten by nicolas Upton a canon of Sarum and of wells a man skylfull in lawes of armes in Civell lawes in naturall philosophy and in Haroldrye: He was acquaynted wythe ye customs of many natyons and wroughte this booke with his owne hand and gave yt to Duke Umfry of glocester uncle of kinge Henry the sixte and lord protector of England. This book came to ye possessyon of ⟨William⟩ Harvey yt was Clarenceaux kinge at Armes whoes wyffe being one of the pryvey chamber to ye late quen mary gave the wardship of W. Lath(o)m son and here to Raffe Lath(o)m esquier lord of Upmynster in Essex at whoes house thare she dyed and the book amongst others cam to ye hands of yt W⟨illiam⟩ who after maryed Anne daughter to Wyll(ia)m Strangeman esquyer; and uppon composityon wyth mary ffortescue late wyfe to Bartholomew Str⟨angeman⟩ esq. brother to yt Anne came ye ye same to ye use of James Str.⟨angeman⟩ brother [last line cropped]' (fol. 72r), an erased inscription on the same page seems to start 'Jacobus Stangeman ...', and he is also referred to in a note on fol. 65v. For a genealogical tree setting out the relationships here described, see Visitation of Essex 1558 (Harleian Society, London, 1878), p. 104; and for James Strangeman (c. 1555–1595/6 (?)), see H. W. King, in Essex Archaeological Society Transactions, 2 (1863), pp. 139–46, and Oxford DNB. Also on fol. 72 is an erased inscription in Latin relating to James Strangeman.

'Memorandum that in St. Sepulchres church remayn[ith] this remembraunce of Henry Jugge "Heer lyeth buryed Henry Jugge son of Robbert Jugge, July 1502", Robert Wetherell' (fol. 72v, among many pen trials).

Sir Edward Coke; with the bookplate of 'THOMAS WILLIAM COKE' and signed 'Thos. Willm. Coke' (fol. i verso), formerly Norfolk, Holkham Hall, MS. 707.

Record Sources

Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (22 images from 35mm slides)

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.