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

MS. Barlow 20

Summary Catalogue no.: 6420


Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Incipit: That swiche a lewed mannes witte shal pas
Explicit: here endith þe maunciples tale

Skeat describes this as 'A clearly written MS. of the D-type, including Gamelyn; imperfect after Sir Thopas, but contains a portion of the Manciple’s Tale

It contains the somewhat rare lines F. 679-680 (W. W. Skeat, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer [1914], vol. 4, p. xi)

For other peculiarities, see J. Koch, The Pardoner's Tale (Heidelberg, 1901), pp. 56-57; and cf. William McCormick, The Manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Oxford, 1933), pp. 21-29

Language(s): Middle English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: i + 261 (really 265) leaves
Dimensions (binding): 12.8 × 6.5 in.


At least one quire is missing. The manuscript begins with the description of the Manciple in the General Prologue ( Late Medieval English Scribes)


Pächt and Alexander iii. 1081

Fine initials


17th-century English work, rebacked.


Origin: 15th century, third quarter ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

'Per me Iohannem Wekes', on fol. 259v, written in a late sixteenth-century hand. The same hand also wrote an English couplet and a prologue to a legal instrument dated 1591-1592. The couplet is written above the name 'Iohannem Wekes' and reads, 'Thy master's booke doth scorne thy name To scribble therin then cease for shame' ( MWM)

Beneath this, in a different hand is written, 'My masters booke will geve me lefe too scribble therin y ask no lefe' ( MWM)

'per me Thomas Weke' and other 16th century scribblings are on fol. 260v; Thomas Weke' (16th century, fol. 64r)

'Wyllyam Dubledaye' (followed by a 'sequent device, possibly a notary's mark', according to Seymour [1997], pp. 162-165)

On fol. 84r, a crude coat of arms has been drawn: two cross crosslets with space for a third, apparently a chief. According to Manly and Rickert, cross crosslets were used by some branches of the Weeks family (Manly and Rickert [1940], p. 57). On f. 73r, the shield is parted per pale, and only one cross crosslet drawn, with space for two more.

Thomas Barlow, 1607–1691

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1691 by Thomas Barlow (Summary Catalogue, Vol. 2 Part 2, p. 1043)

Record Sources

Description adapted (April 2023) by Stewart J. Brookes from the Summary Catalogue (1937) with additional reference to published literature as cited.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (2 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2023-04-14: Description revised to incorporate all the information in the Summary Catalogue (1937)