BL Harley MS. 266

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Production Practicalities:

checked against microfilm

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: BL MS Harley 266
  • Matheson nos. 22, 78
  • Date: C15
  • Type of book:
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • Writing support: Paper or vellum?: vellum
  • Watermark?:
  • Collation:
    • No of leaves: 151 + flyleaves (fol. 1*)
    • Quires:
    • Foliation: ink in top right corner, prob. by Simon Ewes.
    • Booklets?:
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): 38v; 47v; 54v; 63v; 71v; 79v; 87v; 95v; 103v; 111v; 119v; 127v; 135v; 143v;   (47-63; 79; 95-119; 135-143 are in a different hand and style to 38, 71, 87, 127).
    • Quire signatures? (where?):fols. 10 (b); 32-35 (33 missing) (e j-e iiij); 40- (f j-f iiij); 50-51 (giij-giiij); 57-59 (hi-hiii); 65-67 (66 missing) I ii-I ii (trimmed); 72-75 (k i-iiij); 81-83 (l-liii) (trimmed); 89-91 (m ii-iiij) (trimmed); 113-115 (p i-?) (trimmed); 128-130 (a ?) (trimmed); 137-139 (b –biii) (138 missing, trimmed).
    • Damage?: text is imperfect, but quire sigs. indicate that the ms is complete.


  • No of items: 1 (but note continuations, the Description of Edward III and John Page’s Poem).
  • Page layout:

a. ruling: frames (e.g. fol. 24v)
b. columns: 1
c. lines: 30-32 (scribe A); 32 (scribe C).

  • Ink:
  • Size, binding:
  • Decoration?:
  • Artist?:
  • No. of Scribes: 3: Scribe A fols 1-127v; Scribe B 128r ll.1-6; scribe C fols 128r, l. 7-151v).
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph?: Scribe A: C15 anglicana  with secretary forms; Scribe B: An anglicana script, which somewhat perplexingly, appears to be from a generation prior to that of scribe A, and perhaps two generations prior to scribe C; Scribe C: a late C15 secretary hand
  • Rubrication, sigla: fols. 1-127v: Some coloured caps and paraphs (prob. red); chapter headings do not appear to be coloured; fols 128r-151v some large caps and paraphs, which do not appear to be coloured. Reigns of kings are rubricated at the top of the folio by an early modern reader e.g. ‘E.1.’ [Edward 1st]. Original chapter numbers have been erased and replaced by Arabic numerals (starting at 1), and chapter headings underlined, prob. by Simon Ewes (see Harl. Cat. p. 127, entry for MS 1568).
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols. 1-151v (continuations: Description of Edward III fols. 62, l. 13-91r;  John Page’s Poem fols. 93r-151. Text begins at chapter lx, the death of Henry III (see Brie, 179).

Production Culture:

  • Compiler?:
  • Named scribes?:
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
    • Flyleaf : ‘37.A.5’ early modern; ‘30B’; ‘266’; ‘XLVII B’ in a variety of modern hands.
    • 1* ‘An ancient and large chronicle in The English tongue from the beginning of the raigne of King Ed. i. And continued to the yeare of King H.6. In which are many particulars more largelie sett forth then in the old English Chronicle compiled by William Caxton. & imprinted by Wynkyn de Worde ao Dni. i528. ao 20o H.8 although in diuers other particulars they agree.’ According to Harl. Cat. P. 101, the autograph of Sir Simon Ewes.
    • 1r: ‘A verie large chronicle from the beginning of E.i perfect to ao.9o.h.6.’; cap. i’ early modern hand, possibly Simon Ewes.
    • 4r: gloss on text: ‘justice weylond v slow 312’ in early modern hand, and text underlined. See Brie, p. 185.
    • 9v:  gloss and text underlined (same hand as fol. 4r) See Brie, p. 196.
    • 14v: gloss and text underlined (same hand as fol. 4r) See Brie, p. 205.
    • 16r: ‘god’ C15.
    • 18v: gloss ‘…y Walsingh.’ and text underlined (same hand as fol. 4r) See Brie, p. 213.
    •  23v-24r: scribbles.
    • 26r-v: text underlined. See Brie, p. 227.
    • 43v-44v: text underlined. See Brie, pp. 255-57.
    • 45v: text underlined. See Brie, p. 258.
    • 48r: glosses: ‘wodstok’ C15 prob scribal; ‘Arthur’ early modern.
    • 49v-51r: text underlined. See Brie, pp. 265-67.
    • 61v-62r: text underlined. See Brie, p. 285-86.
    • 63r: scribal gloss, ‘Stella Comata’, see Brie, p. 292; text underlined (fols 63r-64r). See Brie, pp. 293-94.
    • 65v-66r: text underlined. See Brie, p. 296-97.
    • 88r: ‘I J…g(h?)…e and nn… br…’; ‘19’ ‘…aby’ C16 ink.
    • 90r: scribal gloss, see Brie, p. 331.
    • 91r: faint marginal inscription.
    • 92r: ‘and the afore saide lord ha(trai?)ge ?over rained the g…dale(y?) part of the nobale mid of that kingdom of france’ C16-17 ink.
    • 110v: text underlined. See Brie, p. 360.
    • 111v: text underlined. See Brie, p. 361.
    • 115v: gloss (‘battell’) and text underlined. See Brie, p. 368.
    • 126r: ‘chastyn’ C15-16? Ink.
    • 142v: text underlined, see Brie, p. 422.
    • 151v: ‘Tho: Wilbraham his booke’ C16-17.
    • flyleaf: ‘1x 151 fols total 152 Ed … ?Parry 1875’ 
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?:
  • Decoration:
  • Scribal and authorial identification:
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
  • Language(s); translation activities:
  • Dialect:
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.:
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural:


Reception Cultures / communities:

  • Owner(s): Tho[mas] Wilbraham
    • Gender(s): male
    • Occupation(s):
  • Reading networks:
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious)
  • Language:
  • Decoration:
  • Possible function(s) of book:
  • Reading contexts: gendered, institutional, political, secular / religious:


Intertextual relations:

  • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Common Version’, group CV-1377 f.c stage 3; CV-1430 JP : A. See Matheson, PB, pp. 95-96; 137-138.
  • Evidence of exemplar: Change of exemplar at fol. 93v after blank fols. 91v-92v; see PB, p. 96.
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: MS owned by Sir Simon Ewes prob. in C18; also owned BL MS Harley 1568? (if not, what is the Harleian cataloguer up to…?). Other Brut mss that contain the description of Edward III are: LP MSS 491, 331 and 738; BL MSS Harley 753 and Add. 10099 (at a later textual stage); Huntington MS HM 136 and Caxton’s Chronicles of England (at a later textual stage).
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language:

Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is largely based on microfilm work by J O’R, with amendments/additions by Ryan Perry. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB.

Select Bibliography for this MS:



CUL MS Ee.4.31

BL MS Harley 753
BL MS Add. 10099
BL MS Cotton Galba E.viii
BL MS Harley 2256
LP MSS 491, 331, 738.

Holkham Hall MS 670

NLS MS 6128

Univ. Chicago Library MS 253
PUL MS Taylor Medieval 3
San Marino
Huntington Library MS HM 136

Caxton, Chronicles of England

Secondary Texts:
Huscher, Herbert, ed., John Page’s ‘Siege of Rouen’,Kölner Anglistische Ar­beiten 1 (Leipzig: Tauschnitz, 1927), pp. 34-35, 37.
Kingsford, Charles L., English Historical Literature in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Claren­don Press, 1913; repr. New York: Franklin, 1972), p. 302.


Thr juxtaposition of the three scribal hands on fols 127v-128r resists easy explanation, particularly as they appear to be hands from different generations, and.  It is possible that scribe B was a rather venerable master (with a hand several generations out of date) copying the first few lines of fol. 128 and allowing the student (Scribe C) to carry on, or it may be that B’s stint was an abortive piece of copying which was recycled by Scribe A (as suggested by the fact that A’s catchword tallies with the text on fol. 128) who ended his copying at this point.  Some years may have elapsed before Scribe C began working from a new exemplar.  It may thus be the case that Scribe A’s (2) exemplars were a ‘CV-1377 with full continuation, stage 3’ and a ‘CV-1419 (Men)’, which was perhaps incomplete; Scribe C then copied from a ‘CV beyond 1419, including John Page's poem’.

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