Harvard University MS. Eng. 587

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Production Practicalities and Reception Issues:

checked against microfilm

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: Harvard MS Eng. 587.
  • Matheson no: 46
  • Date(s): C15
  • Type of book: Brut chronicle
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • No of items: 1
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols. 1-151v [begins imperfectly].
  • Writing support: parchment
  • Watermark?:
  • Book Construction: Folio, Quarto etc.
  • Collation:
    • No of leaves: i + 152 + i fols. (flyleaves at front and back, prob. modern paper).
    • Blank leaves:
    • Quires: tentative, from film: i8 (wants 4); ii8 (wants 1); iii8; iv8 (wants 1); v8; vi8 (wants 1); vii8; viii8 (wants 4); ix8; x8 (wants 1); xi-xix8. 
    • Foliation: top right corner, faded, mod. prob. pencil. Fols. 1r-26r paginated 1-51 in bottom margin, after this pagination goes in tens, up to fols. 148v-151v, which are numbered 300-306. Fol. after 52 not foliated (52a in this description).
    • Composite MS? no
    • Booklets?: unlikely
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): 4v (not matched by following text); 11v; 19v; 26v, 34v, 41v, 49v, 63v, 71v, 78v, 86v, 94v, 102v, 110v, 118v, 126v, 134v, 142v, 150v,
    • Quire signatures? (where?): 6r-8r: b ij-iiij; 12r-15r: c i-ii(ij?) (last two fols. the numbers are trimmed); 20r-22r: d i-iij; 27r-30r: e i-iiij; 35r-37r: f i-iij; 43r-45r: g ?-iiij (first two fols. the numbers are trimmed); 50r-53r: h i-iii(j?) (last fol. number trimmed);
    • Damage?: bottom outer corner of fol. cut away with loss of text; fols. 7r, 39v-41r, 57v-58r, 73r, 74r, 130r have suffered water(?) damage with loss of text; fols. 57-58 buckled. 
  • Page layout:

a. ruling: frames and lines, prob. in lead or crayon.
b. columns: 1
c. lines: 39

  • Ink:
  • Dimensions:
    • front board:
    • Folio / page: 10 ½ x 7 ½ in.
    • Writing space:
  • Binding: crimson Morocco
  • Decoration?:
  • Artist?:
  • No. of Scribes: 2: A: fols 1r-2v; B: fols. 3r-151v.
  • Named scribes?: Scribe B, signed in chapter headings: ‘Rither’, fol. 18r, ‘Quod Rither Scriptor’, fols. 18v, ‘Quod Ryther Scriptor’, 19v.  
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph?: Scribe A: C15 Secretary; Scribe B: C15 secretary, with occasional Anglicana forms of ‘g’ and ‘d’ and ‘a’. The hands of the two scribes are very similar, although A’s work seems to be more careful than B’s, and he uses Secretary ‘a’  and ‘d’ throughout, and employs otiose strokes. Scribe B uses predominantly Anglicana ‘a’, and occasionally ‘d’ and ‘w’.
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?:
  • Compiler?:
  • Rubrication, sigla: fols. 1r-2v: two-line caps, with pen flourishes into margin, poss. in red or blue ink; chapter headings not numbered or rubricated, and not in red or blue ink; slashes and punctus in text and chapter headings. Rest of ms: three-line caps, with pen flourishes into margin, prob. in red or blue ink; chapter headings and numbers (numbers not always present), prob. in red ink, with one-line caps, poss. in blue ink; paraphs in text, poss. in blue ink; occasional paraphs in margin with nota (e.g fol.18r);Ascenders of top line letters occasionally flourished into top margin, sometimes elaborately (e.g. fol. 63v); catchwords rubricated in scrollwork; scribe B often marks the bottom margin with two short parallel marks like modern quotes; Latin colophon on fol. 151v poss. in red or blue ink.  
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
    • Front pastedown: various C19 and C20 notes in pencil: pressmark, some textual references, acquisition date (May 1850); bookplate of Earl of Ashburnham dated May 1897; bookplate of Child Memorial Library, Harvard.
    • Flyleaf (ir): brief printed ms description, pasted.
    • Flyleaf (i verso): book stamp of Child Memorial Library, pressmark and deposit note for Harvard College Library.
    • 9v pen drawing of human head.
    • 14r: ‘In hope and drede my life I lede q’d E. Goodwyn’, C15.
    • 14v: ‘Vnto’, C15.
    • 66r: two lines in Hebrew.
    • 68v: two lines in Greek.
    • 81r: […?] by grace of […?], C15, prob. hand of  E. Goodwyn.
    • 83r: ‘Grace Ere wyth after […?],C15, prob. hand of  E. Goodwyn.
    • 96r: ‘Edmond Goodwyn’, C15.
    • 103v: ‘210’ mod.
    • 106r: ‘Starvend[?]’, C15-16.
    •  106v: ‘John [?] […], C16.
    • 120r: ‘daeb[?] [?] et robus [robertus?] Wortley armiger vinit justiciar[?] de patent in dom ad[?] consorn[er?]an[i?]d’, C16.
    • 133v; ‘iste liber’, poss. C15, but could be a later inscription imitating C15 script.
    • Fol. 151v: ‘tha[…] […]iber soule’, scribal; Colophon: ‘Isa vita est hominid quasi cum Iudas tesseris, si id quod maxime opus iasu non cadet: tunc ide quod ceadit forte, id arte ut coregas.’
  • Glosses and underlining:
    • C16 glosses at fols. 1r-v, 3r, 5r-v, 7v, 8v, 9r-v, 10r-11r, 12r, 15v-17r, 19v, 20r-v, 22r-v, 23v, 26r, 27r-v, 44r-v, 50r, 52r, 52ar-53r, 54r, 59v, 61v, 63r-v, 65r, 93r, 114r, 115v, 118r-119r, 121v, 123r, 125r-126r, 129r, 142v.
    • C17 or 18 glosses on fols. 6v, 9v, 18r, 20r, 34r, 45r, 48v, 64r, 65r-v.
    • C19 glosses on fols. 39r, 86v (French), 110v (French), 121v, 127r.
    • Erased text at fols. 54r, 55v, 87r, 109v (poss. erased marginalia).
    • Marginal ‘x’s [two] at fol. 88v.
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
  • Later ownership(s): C15: poss. Edmond Goodwyn; C16 poss. Robert Wortley; C19: Earl of Ashburnham; C20? Francis James Child.
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
  • Language(s); translation activities: marginalia in French (C19), Latin, Hebrew and Greek.
  • Dialect:
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.:
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural:

Intertextual relations:

  • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Common Version’, group CV-1419[r&g]:A. See Matheson, PB, pp.112-113.
  • Evidence of exemplar:
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions:
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language:

Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is largely based on microfilm work by J O’R. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB.

Select Bibliography for this MS:

MSS: note: mss with * are listed by Matheson as doubtful, see PB, pp. 113-114.


Bibliothèque Royale ms IV.461 *


Takamiya ms 67


CUL ms Kk.1.12
Fitzwilliam ms McClean 186
TCC ms O.10.34
Hunterian ms 61 *
Hunterian ms 228
BL ms Add. 26746 *
BL ms Harley 2248
BL ms Royal 17 D. xxi
BL ms Royal 18 B. iii *
College of Arms ms Vincent 421
Rylands ms Eng. 104 *
Bodl. ms Bodley 231 *
Bodl. ms Douce 290 *
Longleat ms 183A


Berkeley ms 152 *
Cambridge, Mass.
Harvard ms Eng. 587
New Haven
Beineke ms 323

Secondary Texts:
Voigts, Linda Ehrsam, ‘A Handlist of Middle English in Harvard Manu­scripts’, Harvard Library Bulletin, 33 (1985), 5-96, pp. 22-24.

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