BL Harley MS. 4930

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Manuscript Identity

Here may a man here howe that England was ffirst named Albyon and thenne afterward whenne that it hadde first name. Hic incipit prologus vt patet in sequentis.

Matheson Number:

Matheson Version:
CV-1419 [Leyle]

Matheson discusses the MS on pages:

Proposed date of MS production:
Approx. mid 15th century

LALME reference (where provided):
no entry in LALME

Dialects evident in the MS:
not identified

Possible locations for the MS production/ reception:
16th C., Banbury, Oxfordshire (?) 16th C., Nythe, Somerset (?) 16th C., poss. manor of Clifford, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire; poss. also London links, (Hercules Rainsford) 17th-18th C. London, (George Henry lee, 2nd Earl of Litchfield). 1720-?, poss. Christ Church College, Oxford, (Benedict Leopold Calvert)

Items in the MS:

Contents of the MS:

  • 1. Fragment from a Latin scholastic treatise on the elements, matter and form, fols. 1*r-v, 114r-v
  • 2. Brut Chronicle, fols 13r-177v

Languages used in the MS
Latin text used as wrapper for Brut.

Evidence of Exemplar?
Like the other members of the ‘Leyle’ group, this manuscript is prob. copied from an exemplar which only contained an account to 1355, ending ‘(th)e King hastyd hyn to (th)e seege warde.’ (Brie 306: 29) A stub between fol. 111 and 112 suggests that the text which ends imperfectly ‘Vpon which spech & conauntes it was sent to the court of Rome on’ (Brie 304: 32), continued for one further leaf; the missing leaf represented by the stub prob. contained the text contained in Brie, 304: 33- 306: 29.

Institutional Associations?
(E.g., household, religious house, library, private collection, etc.)
British Library, London. Appears to have been in the private collection of George Henry Lee, 2nd Earl of Lichfield, (born in, and resident of London) and then from 1720 passing to his nephew, Benedict Leopold Calvert, then of Christ Church College, Oxford. Appears to have been in the private collection of George Henry Lee, 2nd Earl of Lichfield, (born in, and resident of London) and then from 1720 passing to his nephew, Benedict Leopold Calvert, then of Christ Church College, Oxford.

Suspected Association?

Related Manuscripts
(biobibliographically, textually, stemmatically and so on)
No information.

Manuscript Construction

Number of Scribes:

i+1*-2* +113 fols.+1b* (fol. 114)+i; front flyleaf i and back flyleaf i are prob. modern paper; fols. 1* and 1b* (the latter numbered fol. 114 in ms.) were prob. used as a wrapper for the paper Brut ms, and may have been pastedowns. From the film it would appear that fol. 1* is preceded by a vellum stub from the same text, and that 1b* (fol. 114) is followed by a vellum stub from the same text. Folio 2* is prob. a singleton, perhaps added by ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’ (Richard Bussell?) who indicates on 2*v that the gatherings have been bound in the wrong order and offers guidance to the reader.

Between fols. 78-81 the text has been copied in the wrong order; a scribe or a contemporary has inscribed the letters A-D to direct the reader, (cf. Rawlinson MS. B. 216)- see Annotation note 19 for further discussion.

i-vii8, however the quires have been disassembled and reassembled wrongly- the quire which is currently third in order should in fact appear between quires i and ii); manuscript damaged between quires viii and ix, lacks Brie, 130:10- 143:11; correct collation is prob. viii8 -4 (wants 5-8) ix8 -2 (wants 1-2); x-xi8; xii8 -1 (wants 8); xiii xiv8; xiv8 -1 (prob. wants 6, indicated by a stub between fols 111-112).

Any blank leaves?
Other than the modern flyleaves, 2*r + v, 29v (the blank verso of an engraving from a printed book) 112r-133v.

16th C. foliation in top right corner, correct to fol. 28r; from fol. 29r, modern foliation in top right corner. Fol. 29 was inserted into the ms after the ms had been foliated in the 16th C.; 16th C. foliation misses fol. 47. This description uses the C16 foliation up to fol. 28, then the modern from fol. 29 to the end.


Single words beside gutter on fols 30v, 102v, 110v, 111v but do not serve the function of catchwords. A word which operates as a catchword is found on 38r where a production mistake means that one reads in the following order 37r, 38r, 37v. The catchword on 38r links with the first word of 37v.

Quire Signatures:
Quires are numbered on top leading edges, poss. scribal: ‘secundus quare’, ‘tercius quare’ etc.; fols.: 9r, 17r, 25r, 34r, 42r, 50r, 58r, 68r, 76r, 84r, 91r, 99r; 107r. Quire signatures are also sometimes visible in the lower left corner, although they merely number the bifolia 'i-iiii', without a sequence of letters.

Top outer corner of fol. 60 torn away with loss of text; bottom outer corners of fols. 62 and 63 torn away with loss of text. As there are prob. six m

Frames ruled, poss. in lead, 1 column, 36-41 lines.

Page Dimension and Materials:
Approx. 330mm x 230mm; paper; item 1 is written on parchment.

Writing Space:
Approx. 250mm x 170mm

None visible on film.

No image on microfilm.

Decoration and Rubrication

Fol. 1r: a decorative band occurs in a 4-5 line space between the heading and body of text; stemming from a 4 line initial ‘I’ in the left side of the page; the foliate pen work design contains acanthus leaves with daisies, aroid flowers and sprays of buds, colours appear to have been applied to the design; on several leaves there is penwork ornament in lower border, (fols. 48r, 60r, 76v, 83r), comprised of plainly wrought swirling line with buds.

Opening 4-line ‘I’, from which a band of foliate decoration stems. Thenceforth, 3 and 2-line unfilled spaces with guide letters only, except one completed initial in fol. 22r, a 3-line ‘A’, poss. in red or blue, with no other ornament.

Fol. 59v, rough sketch in pen of a musical score(?)


Chapter titles, poss. in red, sometimes signaled at side with scribal nota mark; this scribal mark is distinctive, and seems to incorporate an ‘S’ and ‘L’ (?) above a typical nota symbol, poss. initials of rubricator/ scribe/ supervisor. Often the titles are set out fairly spaciously, taking a new line for the title and with enlarged script, usually with a paraph (poss. blue) in margin and if the title takes up more than one line, bracketing on the right hand side connects the lines. At other points the script is set within the tangle of text, preceded by a paraph (poss. blue). Paraphs also mark subdivisions in text.

Marginalia and Annotation


  • 1. Fol. 2v: 16th C. comment adjacent to the predictions made concerning Brutus before his birth (Brie, 5: 25ff). Other than the advice offered by ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’ a single annotator is apparently responsible for most of the 16th C. commentary
  • . 2. Fol. 3v: 16th C. annotation, (Brie, 8:21ff)
  • 3. Fols. 5r-8v: Many 16th C. annotations in same hand as above (Brie, 11-20)
  • 4. Fol. 8v: ‘Primus error/ Read more of this matter in the ffol. 17’; prob. advice from ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’
  • 5. Fol. 8r: ‘The begynnyng of this chapter is to be read in the 24 leafe whose title is howe constantyn governed this land and after was made emperour of Rome’, prob. advice from ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’
  • 6. Fol. 16v: ‘error secundus’; ‘Read in folio 29’; prob. advice from ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’
  • 7. Fol. 18v: ‘kyng Belyn made Watlyng strett clen thorought englond…’, 16th C. annotation, (Brie, 26: 8-13)
  • 8. Fol. 19r: Several 16th C. notes relating to Brie, 26:16 - 27:10, including, ‘Bylyngsgat made by kynge Bellen’
  • 9. Fol. 19v: 16th C. note on the naming of Ireland, (Brie 28: 5-6)
  • 10. Fol. 20r + v: 3 x 16th C. notes, (Brie 28:31- 30:11)
  • 11. Fol. 21r + v: 5 x 16th C. notes, (Brie, 31:18-33:29); includes interest in history of London, ‘ludstane calyd after lud now callyd London & this lud bylt ludgate’
  • 12. Fol. 22v: 4 x 16th C. notes, (Brie, 34:27 – 36:3)
  • 13. Fol. 23r: 9 x 16th C. notes, (Brie, 36:4 – 38:15). Interest in the arrival of Christianity in Britain, ‘the first crystned kynge’; ‘clv yeres after crystes [___] (?)’, word reads ‘incarnation’ in text, (Brie 38:5); ‘this lond becam crysten’; a section of text (Brie, 38:8) is bracketed with ‘not this’ written alongside- poss. post-reformation reaction to mention of Rome and the ‘Sacrament’ within the text.
  • 14. Fol. 24r + v: 8 x 16th C. notes, (Brie 38:16 – 40:28); on 24v, ‘Read more of this in the ninth leafe’, prob. advice from ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’
  • 15. Fol. 25r + v: 2 x 16th C. notes, (Brie 58:9 – 60:15); on 25v, ‘the begynnyng of this chapter is in folio 16. the answer that marlin gave to the king’, prob. advice from ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’; ‘Engest kynge of kent’
  • 16. Fols 26r – 33v, (Brie, 60:17 – 72:16), interest in Authuriana, eg. fol. 30v, ‘the begettynge of Arthur’
  • fol. 32r, ‘the begynnyng of kyng Arturs Raynge’
  • fol. 33v, ‘ccxvi merlyen provyses of a lame & of other bestes’
  • 17. Fol. 37v: scribal instruction to continue reading ‘the o(th)er side’, ie. fol 38r, ‘And then to this side ageyn’, a catchword ‘Contak’ at bottom of 38r links with the first word of fol. 37r.
  • 18. Fol. 54r + v: 16th C. annotator comments on ‘Wassaile’ and ‘Drinkhaile’ drinking custom.
  • 19. Fols 78r, 79r, 80r, 81r: these four consecutive leaves have a letter inserted in the top corner of the recto side, respectively majuscule ‘B’ and ‘A’ with miniscule ‘d’ on 80r; a mainly cropped 'C' is on the top right hand corner of fol. 81r: these letters appear to be early, poss. scribal or at least contemporary with the manuscript’s production; the letters have been used to correct an error in the copying process, and to direct the reader in the sequence that the leaves should be read, ie. A-D. Exactly the same corrective steps have been taken in Rawlinson MS. B 216, although realting to a different section of text (Brie, 176-180); the material on these leaves relates to Brie, 197:21-210:10. A begins Brie, 197:21; B begins Brie, 200:15; C begins Brie, 203:25, D begins Brie, 207:1.
  • 20. Fol 91v: illegible writing, poss. commentary, adjacent to the account of the death of Hugh Despenser (the son), (Brie, 239:28 – 240:5)

Evidence of erasures:

  • 1. ‘Pope’, frequently obliterated with pen, see esp. fols 65v-69v.
  • 2. Fol. 70v: ‘St. Thomas of’ (Canterbury) scored out with pen.


  • 1. Fol. 4v: large section of text underlined, (Brie, 9:35- 10:21)
  • 2. Fol. 55v: section of text underlined, (Brie, 116:7 – 20)

Graffiti (pen trials etc):

  • 1. Fol. 2*r: ‘Receved of you the xxth of october’, prob. 16th C.
  • 2. Fol. 2*r: ‘my yeres long spent in yoye and blise’, prob. 16th C.
  • 3. Fol. 7v: ‘my yeres long spent/ in yoye and blise/ all voyd of cloging(?) (cloying?) care/ ar ended now/ and pinci(ng?) (pinching?) payn/ to me seem very nar’, prob. 16th C.
  • 4. Fol. 9r: ‘leues lost’, 16th C., crossed out, ‘no leues lost’, the latter prob. written by the ‘Ricardum Byssyelde’ who provides advice on the errant quiring in Fol. 2* and elsewhere
  • 5. Fol. 46v: ‘Me’, formata lettering with the ‘e’ reversed and set on right shoulder of the ‘M’.
  • 6. Fol. 47r: ‘me me’, prob. 16th C.
  • 7. Fol. 47r: In a small neat hand beside a chapter heading seems to be a poss. 15th C. record of quiring, (slightly cropped), although it prob. does not relate to the is ms., ‘xii viii viii viii (cropped writing)/ viii viii viii vi(cropped)/ viii viii viii viii’; to the left of these numerals is what might be initials or a monogram, which have thus far resisted transcription.
  • 8. Fol. 57v: ‘Sonday/ Sonday’, prob. 16th C.
  • 9. Fol. 62r: ‘fore my god’, prob. 16th C.;
  • 10. Fol. 109v: ‘this book was mad before y was born’, prob. 16th C.; ‘in the name of god Amen’
  • 11. Fol. 110v: ‘tho(?) as that dainty meat doth bear/ and fedes our thiselles all the year/ is lick the wrach that whores (hordes?) up gold/ and itt for want doth suffer cold’, prob. 16th C.
  • 12. Fol. 112v: ‘naked cam y out of my motheres wombe and naked shall y return againe’, cf. Job 1:21; ‘the thing y ca_(?)’, both prob. 16th C.

References, Acknowledgements and Credits

Secondary references
Brie, The Brut

L. Matheson. PB.

Troy O. Bickham, ‘Calvert, Benedict Leonard (1700–1732)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1]

Associated MSS according to Matheson
CV-1419 (Leyle) [68-71]:
Glasgow, University of Glasgow, MS. Hunterian 74
Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Rawlinson B.196
London, Lambeth Palace Library MS. 259
London, British Library MS. Harley 4930

Thanks to Prof. Estelle Sheehan, QUB, for advising me on the Latin material on the wrapper.

Described by:
Fragmentary description by Jason'O Rourke adapted and completed by Ryan Perry

Date of description:

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