Harvard University MS. Eng. 938

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Production Practicalities and Reception Issues:

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: Harvard MS 938
  • Matheson no.: 192
  • Date(s): Ca. 1420
  • Type of book:
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • No of items:
  • Contents: 1: Nicholas Bollard, Treatise on Arboriculture, begins imperfectly, Colophon: ‘Here endith this tretis off Nicholas Bullard’, fols. 1r-v; 2: Calendar based on mid-C15 Sarum use but with some additions that suggest Ely connections, fols. 3r-8v; 3: Nicholas Trevet, Chronicle, fols.9ra-91rb; 4: Brut chronicle continuation, ends imperfectly, fols. 91rb l. 13-101vb.
  • Writing support: parchment
  • Watermark?: no
  • Book Construction: Folio, Quarto etc.
  • Collation: tentative, from microfilm:
    • No of leaves:  4 + ii + 97 + i fols. Pastedown + 2 (prob. mod. paper) flyleaves at front between items 1 and 2, and a pastedown at back.
    • Blank leaves: all mod. flyleaves; fols.2vb-4vb blank except for ruling.
    • Quires: i4; ii-xi8; xii8 (wants 2); xiii8; xiv7 (prob. wants 1 at end).
    • Foliation: mod., top right corner (description follows this); alternative foliation in bottom margin as follows: item 1: 1-2 (fols.1r-2r), flyleaf (iiir): 5, items 2-3: 7-105 (fols. 6r-101r); items 3 and 4 are paginated in top outside corner, starting at p. 3 (fol. 10r);
    • Composite MS? poss. item 1 may have been used as a flyleaf in a previous binding or was at least prob. added to the main ms (items 2, 3 and 4) at a later time; item 2 was prob. part of the original plan for the ms, since the rubrication of the larger caps in items 2 and 3 are in the same style (see Rubrication, Sigla below).
    • Booklets?: poss. items 1 and 2 may have been booklets.
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): 16v; 24v; 32v; 40v; 48v; 56v; 64v; 72v; 80v; (2 fols. prob. containing catchword for fol. 88 wanting); 94v.
    • Quire signatures? (where?): 19r: b ij 60r: f iiij; 89r-90r: k iij-iiij.
    • Damage?: top outer corner of fol. 17 stained.
  • Page layout:

a. ruling: (ink or drypoint?) item 1: lines, columns and frames, prob. in ink; item 2: frames and lines, poss. in ink; items 3-4: frames, columns and lines, poss. in ink or lead; prickings visible.
b. columns: item 1: 2; item 2: 1; items 3-4: 2.
c. lines: item 1: 49-51; item 2: 31-35

  • Ink:
  • Dimensions:
    • front board:
    • Folio / page: 15 3/8 x 10 ¾ in.
    • Writing space:
  • Binding: ½ green morocco
  • Decoration?:
  • Artist?:
  • No. of Scribes: 3: A: item 1, fols 1ra-1vb; B: item 2, fols. 3r-8v; C: items 3-4, fols. 9ra-101vb.
  • Named scribes?: no
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph?: A: C15 Anglicana with frequent Secretary ‘d’; B: Textura, C15?; C: C15 Secretary. It is quite poss. that Scribes B and C are the same person, using two different scripts. It also seems highly likely that the same rubricator worked on items 2, 3, and 4.
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?: same style of caps found in items 2 and 3 occurs in Cambridge ms O.9.1.
  • Compiler?:
  • Rubrication, sigla: item 1: one and two-line caps, poss. in red or blue; chapter headings, prob. in red or blue; paraphs and spiral line markers prob. in red or blue; large Maltese cross at beginning of text, in margin, prob. in red or blue; item 2: two or three-line caps at top of each fol., flourished with pinnate floral sprays on either side of infilled panel (gold and other colours) which is surmounted by a flower terminal on a single pinnate spray, prob. in  red or purple; one-line caps, infilled prob. in red or blue, flourished; some entries prob. in red or blue; on fol. 8v a monogram of ‘s’ and ‘i’ rotated anticlockwise, but poss. not scribal; item 3: fol.1r: full bar border in gold, pink and blue, with lobed pinnate leaves and floral sprays, prob. in red, blue or purple; five-line infilled cap in gold and other colours; two-line caps in gold or blue, flourished into margins, prob. in red or purple; chapter heading in red; rest of item: four line caps (at beginning of new books) flourished with pinnate floral sprays on either side of infilled panel (gold and other colours) with lateral flower terminal on a single pinnate spray, prob. in red or purple; two-line caps in gold or blue, flourished into margins in red or purple; chapter numbers and headings prob. in red; running titles (some extra ones are prob. added later in C15), poss. in red; side notes, some rubricated in scrollwork, others prob. added later in C15; paraphs in text, poss. in red or blue; catchwords in scrollwork; item 4: same as item 3 except without four-line caps.
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
    • 2v: pen trials of capital letters; ‘mon dieu donne […] gens et […]’ C18?; ‘Richard Genvy [Canvy? Genvy?]’, C16; ‘John Birs is a rha[s…?]’, C16; ‘jhu’, C16; ‘Rychard’, C16; ‘p[er] me John gaydon merchant of vitre this by dd moth[?] seyd contre[?] […] wttynge this 20 daye of October in anno 1553’; ‘per me water wrey’, C15-16; erased marginalia.
    • Front flyleaf iir): ‘Jan. 20. 1710. ex dono. V. C. Gulielmo Musgrave. M.D. Exoniensis. T. Palmer’.
    • 8r: ‘obitus alicie hungyrforthe circa hora xjo in nocte die menc xti jo’, C15 [next to calendar entry for St. Martin, 18th November, see notes below].
    • 8v: ‘march. 4. 1710. ex dono Gulielm Musgrave M. D. T. Palmer’.
    • 39v: maxim: ‘Harke thow not [etc]’, ‘Sally watare  [/] wynd & water my age he it nays[?]’ [con’td on next fol.?], C16.
    • 40r: ‘in the nyght of crysmas to syng - ’, ‘maysse[?]’, ‘lyust[?]’, C16.
    • 52v: monogram, poss. ‘Ness’, C16.
    • 89r: ‘Wilh[?]’, C16?
  • Glosses and underlining:
    • C15 additions to calendar on fols. 3r, 5v, 8v.
    • C16 glosses on fols. 11v, 12v-13v, 14v-16r, 18r-19r, 20v-22v, 24v, 25v-28r, 32v-33v, 34v-35r, 36v, 37v-38v, 39v-44r, 45r-v, 46v-49r, 50r, 51r, 53r, 54r-55v, 59r-v, 60v-61r, 62r, 63r, 65v-66r, 67r-v; (different hand from 93r onwards?) 93r-v, 95r, 96r-v, 100r.  
    • C18? Glosses on fols. 12r, 89r.
    • Erasures of ‘papa’, ‘Thomas’, ‘translatio […]’ on fols. 3r, 4r, 5v, 6r, 7v, 68v (‘pope’, but not erased on previous fol.).
    • Underlining, poss. scribal, on fols. 49r, 79r, 88r,
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
  • Later ownership(s): poss. in C15: Wa[l?]ter Wrey; Alice Hungerford or Hungerford family; poss. in C16: Richard Genvy[?] / Canvy[?]; John Gaydon; John Birs; C18: Gulielm Musgrave; T. Palmer.
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
  • Language(s); translation activities: Latin (Item 2); English (all other items).
  • Dialect: poss. Northwest Surrey.
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.:
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural:

Intertextual relations:

  • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Peculiar Version’, group PV-1419:E. See Matheson, PB, pp. 324-326.
  • Evidence of exemplar:
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS: Brut used as a continuation (without a break) of Trevet’s Chronicle.
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: the calendar (item 2), although based on C15 Sarum use suggests Ely connections, due to the additions: Feb. 13th: Ermenilda; Mar. 3rd: Winwaloc ‘sancti Wynewalde abbatis et confessoris’ (in red); June 23rd: Etheldreda; July 8th: ‘Translacio sancta Withburge uirginis non szrum’; Oct. 17th: ‘Translacio sce AEtheldrede uirginis in canobio Elies’.
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language:

Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is largely based on Microfilm work by J O’R and MS descriptions from HMC 6th report and Stonehill booksellers catalogue. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB.

Select Bibliography for this MS:



BL MS Add. 33412, fol. 153r [will of Alice Hungerford]

Furnivall, Frederick J., Edmund Brock and W.A. Clouston, eds., Originals and Analogues of some of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, (London: N. Trübner, for the Chaucer Society, 1872-1887), p. 223.
Spelman, Henry, ed. Concilia, Decreta, Leges, Constitutiones, in re Ecclesiarum Orbis Britannici, 2 vols (London: Richard Badger, Ph. Stephani, & Ch. Meredith, 1639), vol. I, p. 104. 

Secondary Texts:
HMC 6th report, p. 345.


It is suggested in the Stonehill’s book catalogue (inserted at beginning of ms) and by Matheson, PB, p. 325, that ‘Alicie Hungerforth’ may be Alice Hungerford, widow of London. BL MS Add. 33412, fol. 153r, her will of 1st September 1491, requests that she be buried beside John, her husband, in St. Michael’s, Cornhill.

Poss. same rubricator at work as one of the rubricators of Cambridge ms O.9.1.


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