Bodleian Library, MS. Lyell 34

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Production Practicalities:

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: Bodl. MS Lyell 34; ‘Davies’ Chronicle
  • Matheson no. 168
  • Date: C15, ca. 1461
  • Type of book: Brut Chronicle
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • Writing support: Paper or parchment? Watermark? parchment
  • Collation:
    • No of leaves vii + 219 (fols. i-vii are flyleaves etc)
    • quires I8 –XVIII8, then probably 3 quires of which only 3 leaves (fols. 145-7) and 8 fragments survive (the order of these should be: 144b, 144h, 145, 144e, 146, 144d, 147, 144c, 144g, 144a, 144f), 228-308.
    • foliation
    • booklets?
    • Catchwords? yes (on which fols?)
    • Quire signatures? Yes (where?)
    • Damage?:

    • No of items: 1 (?)
    • Page layout:

    a. ruling: in crayon
    b. columns: 1 (?)
    c. lines: 26 long lines per folio

    • Ink:
    • Size: 278 x 205 (175-8 x 120-3) mm.
    • Binding: C15 in wooden boards covered with sheepskin, rebacked. Traces of 2 clasps.
    • Decoration? Fol. 1 pink initial on gold ground joined to bar border framing the text with acanthus leaves in pink, blue, orange,  and green and pen scrolling with small gold and green flowers and leaves, rubbed. Other initials, gold on decorated blue and pink grounds with sprays of pen scrolling and small gold and green flowers and leaves.
    • Artist?
    • No. of Scribes: 2: scribe A fols. 1-189v l. 22 (Pl. Vb); scribe B fols. 189v l.22- 214v.
    • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph? Both scribes secretary, dated to 1461 or soon after.
    • Rubrication, sigla:
    • Contents: Brut chronicle, fol.1- 214v; grammatical work in Latin written in England C10, fol. vii; notes on end flyleaf: ‘memento finis…’ etc (cf. Brown-Robbins Index, no. 1163); fragments of verse possibly by Sir Richard Roos, but cf. Brown-Robbins Index , no.1999.

    Production Culture:

    • Compiler?
    • Named scribes?
    • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification: marginalia in several C16-C17 hands (needs to be checked)
      • Inside of front board: pasted with a paper with C 17 drawings of the arms of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, with a note: ‘Abstracted out of Speedes Table of genealogies’. (does not correspond exactly with the arms given by John Speed at the beginning of his Historie of Great Britaine. Also pasted a note about the MS in a C18 hand, possibly that of George Harbin.
      • Fol. 26v, 167v, 184r-184v, 191, 193 etc.: marginalia, prob. in the hand of  John Stow (see heading 3. Owners)
      • Fol. 217v: erased inscription of the C16, containing the letters E(? or T).R; ‘E.R.’ is scratched on the end pastedown
      • End flyleaf: various notes in C15 hands: ‘ Moste dyre beloved frend Iohn Godfrey in my hartyest maner I reccummend me unto yore desyry [the rest is missing]’.
      • Hand, rubrication in other MSS? 
      • Decoration:
      • Scribal and authorial identification:
      • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
      • Language(s); translation activities: The MS is in English (check); some (chapter?) headings in Latin, copied over erasures.
      • LALME vol. page, LP, grid no. 1: 150, 3: 499.
      • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
      • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural: dialect (LALME) evidence suggests Surry.

      Reception Cultures / communities:

      • Owner(s): John Stow (1525?-1605) (probable); John Speed (1552?-1629) (possible); this MS might be the same book referred to  in a list of ‘MSS in the library of the Revd. George Harbin’ in Bodl. MS Rawlinson D. 923, fol. 235v, no. 11: A Chronicle of England from Brute to K. Edward 4 – in English / several poems in old English; John Speed Davies (father of  J. S. Davies the editor of the English Chronicle) in 1856. Lot 169 Sotheby 15 nov. 1926. Purchased by Lyell in Dec 1942 from Maggs (Cat. 542 (1930), no. 172 with pl. of fol. 17; 621 (1936) no. 27 and 687 (1940) no. 175 both with pl. of fol. 43).
        • Gender(s): all male
        • Occupation(s) historians, antiquaries, protestant clergy.
        • 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: The book was used possibly by Stow to compile his Annals of England, and by Speed in his Historie of Great Britaine.


        Intertextual relations:

        • Textual descent: Matheson ‘peculiar version to 1437/1461’, group PV-1437/1461. Closer in a number of features to CV than PV-1422A and PV-1437A, although closely related to these two groups up to 1437. Expansions from Higden’s Polychronicon and from Saint’s legends including the death and assumption of the Virgin attributed to Elizabeth of Schönau. See Matheson, PB, pp. 287-90.
        • Evidence of exemplar: According to Matheson, PB 289, the changeover between scribes on fol. 189v does not indicate a change of exemplar at that point.
        • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
        • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: Stow’s Annals of England; Speed’s Historie of Great Britaine; George Harbin’s books in Bodl. MS Rawlinson D. 923, fol. 235v, [esp. no. 11: A Chronicle of England from Brute to K. Edward 4 – in English / several poems in old English].
        • Decoration:
        • Translation, language:

        Credits and acknowledgments:

        The description of this MS is largely based on Albinia de la Mare’s description in Catalogue of the Collection of Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB.

        Select Bibliography for this MS:



        TCD MS 505


        Takamiya MS 18.


        NLW MS 21608

        Trinity College, Cambridge MS O.11.11

        Bodl. MS Laud Misc. 550
        Bodl. MS Rawlinson D. 923

        Nottingham County Council MS DDFS 3/1


        Harvard University MS Eng. 750

        University of Illinois MS 82.


        The Annales of England, Faithfully Collected out of the most Autenticall Authors, Records, and Other Monuments of Antiquitie ... untill ... 1592, ed. by John Stow (London : Newbery, 1592).

        An English Chronicle of the Reigns of Richard II, Henry IV Henry V, and Henry VI Written Before the Year 1471, ed. byJohn Silvester Davies, Camden Society OS 64 (London: Nichols, 1856).

        The Historie of Great Britaine vnder the Conquests of the Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans : their Originals, Manners, Habits, Warres, Coines, and Seales : with the Successions, Liues, Acts, and Issues of the English Monarchs from Iulius Ceasar, vnto the Raigne of King Iames, of Famous Memorie, 3rd edn, enlarged and corrected, ed. by John Speed (London: John Dawson, for George Humble, 1631)

        Extracts in N&Q, 11 (1855), 103-4.

        Secondary Texts:

        Brie, Friedrich W. D., Geschichte und Quellen der Mittelenglischen Prosachronik The Brute of England oder The Chronicles of England (Marburg: Elwert’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1905), pp. 93-7.

        Kingsford, Charles L., Historical Literature in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Claren­don Press, 1913; repr. New York: Franklin, 1972).

        de la Mare, Albinia, Catalogue of the Collection of Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, by James P. R. Lyell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

        Starke, F. J., Populäre Englische Chroniken des 15. Jh, Neue Deutsche Forschungen 51 (Berlin:, 1935), pp. 152-64.

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