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

MS. Rawl. poet. 137

Summary Catalogue no.: 14631


(fols. 1r-41v)
William Langland, Piers Plowman, A-version
Rubric: Hic incipit liber qui uocatur pers plowman prologus
Final rubric: Explicit do Wel
Colophon: Nomen scriptoris tilot plenus amoris

The only manuscript to include the full text of A.XII. For discussion see Simon Horobin, ‘The Scribe of Rawlinson Poetry 137 and the Copying and Circulation of Piers Plowman’, The Yearbook of Langland Studies 19 (January 2005): 3–26. https://doi.org/10.1484/J.YLS.2.302587.

This manuscript was the base text for the edition by M. Vaughan (2011); also Piers Plowman: The A-Version, ed. G. Kane (1960, rev. 1988), sig. R, desc. p. 14 with discussion of textual affiliations.

Sporadic annotation, mostly late 15th or 16th century.

Language(s): English (dialect of south-west Sussex: LALME LP5690)

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment (FHHF)
Extent: vi (paper) + 41 + v (paper) leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 240 × c. 155 mm.
Several leaves with irregular edges, some only c. 220 mm. high.
Foliation: 18th-century (?) in ink, fols. 1-41; in modern pencil, fols. i-vi, 42-46.


1(8)-5(8), 6(one), as suggested by catchwords; some leaves appear to be half-sheets. Full collation not possible due to the tightness of the binding.


1 col., 31 lines; ruled in ink; ruled space 183-90 × c. 100 mm. Fols. 1-2, 4-5, 7-8 with full pricking and part ruling along the upper and lower margins in addition to the existing ruling.


Anglicana varying considerably in formality by one scribe, signing 'Tilot'; Simon Horobin (op. cit.) found the same hand in Oxford, University College MS. 142 (Prick of Conscience), signed 'Thomas', and identified the scribe as Thomas Tilot, vicar at Chichester Cathedral in 1415 and rector of West Thorney in 1430.


2-line red initials at the beginning of each passus.

Typically the beginning of each fourth line stroked in red.

Rubrics, Latin text in red.


Leather over boards with a double gilt line around the border of each cover; rebacked.


Origin: 15th century, first half ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Canterbury, Kent, Franciscan convent (?). In the early nineteenth century fols. 42-45 of the present manuscript comprised four leaves now bound as MS. Rawl. D. 913 fols. 86-89 (Guy of Warwick, in French, s. xiv in.; foliation 42-5 probably by Philip Bliss). These leaves have on MS. Rawl. D. 913 fol. 87v (formerly 42v in Rawl. poet. 137), the ex libris ‘Hoc volumen conceditur ad usum fratrum minorum de observantia Cantuarie’ (s. xv/xvi); the inscription being in the same form in Lambeth 1483.5 (printed book), as noted MLGB3. (MLGB3: evidence from an ex-libris inscription or note of gift to an institution). MLGB additionally argued that these leaves (which were evidently formerly used as pastedowns) had been used in the binding of MS. Rawl. poet. 137 itself, but it is not clear on what grounds that assertion was made. It is not obvious that the either the dimensions of the leaves, or their marks of wear and damage, are compatible with former use in MS. Rawl. poet. 137; the Franciscan Canterbury provenance of MS. Rawl. poet. 137 should be treated with caution pending further research.

'Jhon Symson' fol. 22r, 15th century, in leadpoint, according to the Summary Catalogue (annotated copy of Richard Hunt); not verified by the present cataloguer.

'Rychard Barnard', late 15th or 16th century, fol. 24r

Thomas Rawlinson (according to B. Enright, 'Richard Rawlinson : collector, antiquary, and topographer' (D.Phil, Oxford, 1957), appendix at "Rawl. F. 137")

Richard Rawlinson, 1690–1755

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1755

Record Sources

Description by Matthew Holford, September 2022. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue (1895).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (2 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2022-09: Description revised for publication on Digital Bodleian.