National Library of Wales MS. 21608A

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Production Practicalities:


  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: NLW MS 21608A
  • Matheson no. 169.
  • Date: probably after 1461 and before 1480.
  • Type of book: Prose Brut Chronicle. Possibly used for genealogical research in one context (see references to David Holland below).
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • Writing support: Paper or vellum? paper
  • Watermark? Watermark: Bull’s head similar to Briquet 14975, measuring closest to Piccard, Ochsenkopf type 223 (both dated 1475). Fol. i is an original parchment flyleaf.
  • Collation:
    • No of leaves: i + 190
    • Quires: 116 (wants 9-16, fols. 9 and 10 pasted onto stubs after fol. 8); 2-416, 516 (wants 12, probably blank); 6-716; 814; 9-1116; 1216 (12 is a cancel); 1312 (wants 7-12); 14 (perhaps 10, only stubs remain). 
    • Foliation: in pencil, between 1959 and 1978 corrected from fol. 101 at NLW in 1978. Pencil foliation 1-199 given at NLW between 1947 and 1952 erased before giving the post-1959 foliation. Earlier foliation included nine leaves removed from the MS sometime between 1959 and 1978, numbered 3-11. Fol. 3 of the earlier foliation appears to have not survived, fols. 4-11, containing medical recipes in a C15 hand are in the possession of Mr. C. G. Lewin of Hook, Hants. Fols. 2 and 12 are the present fols 9 and 10, while fol. 1 is probably now fol. i.
    • Booklets?:
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): yes [check]
    • Quire signatures? (where?): Quire 1 is signed i-viii on leading leaves; 2-13 Ai-Aviii to M.
    • Damage?: fols. 8-11 all badly mutilated; fol. 164 lower margin cut off; fols. 165-6 outer margins cut off; fols. 173-4 stubs; quire and a half after fol. 189 have been cut out; fols. 188-9 crudely repaired (C18?); some leaves partly cut along the edges of reinforcing strips.
  • No of items: 1(?)
  • Page layout: written space c. 205-130 mm..

a. ruling: Frame ruling
b. columns: 1
c. lines: 28-44 long lines.

  • Ink: black to brown, greenish in places.
  • Size, binding: 300 x 215mm; Original, whittawed skin over bevelled boards. Pin on lower board, cut for strap attachment on fore-edge of upper board. 5 bands. Peg holes are in a straight line. Head and tail bands of green and yellow silk. Inside and outside of quires are reinforced by thin strips of parchment (blank). Red lettering piece of C18 or C19, ‘English History MS’.

Pastedowns and fol. i are 3 leaves of a noted missal in English, C18, feria ii and feria iii post ramos. 32-33 lines in 2 columns. Alternate red and brown initials. Neums added in brownish ink. Speakers parts in the passion marked in red.

  • Decoration?
  • Artist?
  • No. of Scribes: 1 main assisted by at least 2 others. E.g, fols. 14 r-v, 27 r-v).
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph? Scribes A, B and C all secretary.
  • Rubrication, sigla: Three-line red initial on fol. 11r, two-line for chapters. Chapter headings in red, sidenotes underlined in red.
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols., 1-8, 11-130. Some pen trials and fragments of verse on fols. 8v -10v; epitaph to Mathew Goch fol. 181v.

Production Culture:

  • Compiler? Scribe A?
  • Named scribes?
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification
    • Upper cover.: D.W., perhaps C17.
    • Fol. i: John Mylles (also on fols 170r and 189v); Edward Morle (also fol. 163v); William Mostyn.
    • Fol. i verso: John Eton ‘of the county of Flynt’; David Lloyd; Robert ap ?D’d; Thomas ap John ap Harry (also fol. 186r).
    • Fol. 2r ‘To my wellbeloved frynd John Robinsone’ (also fol. 10).
    • Fol. 3v ‘memorandum that I Robert Lewes marchaunt of London have delivered certen parcels of warre…’
    • Fol. 8v ‘Lewis Dollgelley of Ruthyn ys the possessor of thys boke god send hym loke and he ys mercer of Ruthyn and ys an honeste and a veyrey rych mercer and disceaveth not the pore simple people but leadeth hys lyfe in equitye and justice and lyveth onlye without the preiudyce’ (cf. also fol. 168r).; Thomas ap Shoune ap William; Richard ap John; Robert Mule (Also Moyle, Myle, Mile, Meyl, fols. 10r-v, 52v, 99r, 105r, ‘de Ruthen’ on fol. 10v).
    • Fol. 9r. Robert Ya’.
    • Fol. 10r. Peter ap Res; David Holland (also fol. 10v).
    • Fol..10v. John ap Thomas; ‘the kinges higheste commission(er?)s? in the marches of Wales’; ‘The condycion of thys (hys?)present oblygacion ys (?)ge that y(s?) (th?)a aboue b(l?)ond(?)’
    • Fol. 47v. Godfri.
    • Fol. 79v. John Loyd.
    • Fol. 97r. Peries Hind (Perys Hynd on fol. 162v; also fols. 181v, 189v).
    • Fol. 163r. Robert Moyle oes(?) thys Booke god make him a good man', poss. late C15-C16.
    • Dominus Robert ap ?
    • Fol. 163v. 'Edward Morle ys the same posssesor of thys boke god make hym a good man. Amen'.
    • Fol. 169v. Lewys ap Ieuan.
    • Fol. 177r. John ap John.
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS? Hand of David Holand of fol 10v s. 10r-v is the same ‘David Holand of Rwthyn’ who wrote BL MS Royal 18 A. lxxv (temp. Edward VI). Two signatures on fol 10v are probably not his, one on 10r might possibly be his in a display script; NLW , Ruthin documents, no. 387 is the marriage settlement of Peter (Pyrs) Hynde, dated 1557.
  • Decoration:
  • Scribal and authorial identification:
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
  • Language(s); translation activities: MS is mostly in English; epitaph of Mathew Goch (AKA Gough) in Latin.
  • Dialect: W. Midlands or Wales
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc: Epitaph of Mathew Goch suggests Welsh interest, but the earliest marginalia do not. Holland, Hynd, Morley, Mule and Robinson were well established Ruthin surnames, cf. the 1465 rental of the lordship of Dyffryn Clwyd, in Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society, 15 (1966), pp. XX. Some of the names are identifiable with persons appearing in the lay subsidy roll for Ruthin for 35 Henry VIII (transcript in NLW MS 18160D) and a rental for Ruthin of c. 36 Henry VIII (NLW MS 1593 E i).
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural: No reference in LALME. Secular; Probably West Midlands, according to the dialect (Huws), but possibly Wales; probably rural.

Reception Cultures / communities:

  • Owner(s): Lewys Dollgelly (signature (?) on fol. 8v); Robert Davies of Llannerch, 1658-1710; (see DWB, 163, and G. Usher, Gwysaney and Owston). Davies was an antiquary, naturalist and scholar. He collected books and MSS, amongst them the Book of Lan Dav, described by E. D. Jones in NLWJ, 4,  p.123ff. His library is partly described by John Cordy Jeaffreson in HMC 6th report, part i, (London: HMSO, 1877-78), pp. 418-26, and in the NLW Annual Report, (1946-47). A catalogue of the Llannerch MSS was printed by Sir Thomas Phillips, Middle Hill press ca. 1840. Deposited at NLW with the Gwysaney MSS in 1942, Lot 201 at Sotheby’s, 15-6-1959. Purchased by NLW 11-8-1977 (lot no. 27 at Sotheby’s).
    • Gender(s): male
    • Occupation(s): mercer; antiquarian, scholar, naturalist
  • Reading networks: Many Ruthin readers / owners in mid C16; Davies family of Llannerch C17- C20; David Holland of fol 10 is the same David Holland of Ruthin, scribe of BL MS Royal 18 A. lxxv (a genealogy of Henry VII showing lines of descent from Brutus, click link for a transcription). [[1]] This link demonstrates that NLW 21608 was being used by Holland for research purposes in the preparation of the Royal 18 A. lxxv genealogy (see the note on fol. 10v, presumably concerning the commission established by Henry to research and prepare the genealogy).
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc: There are two epitaphs to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (last Prince of Wales, see DWB, 597-8) at the end of the Brut One begins ‘Off Englisshmen here lieth the tormentour’ , the other ‘Heere lieth the prince of all errour’. See Marx, ‘National Library of Wales MS 21608’, p.6. Epitaph to Mathew Goch of Welsh interest.
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious): MS in Ruthin by the mid-16th century, judging by the names listed above.
  • Language: interesting to note that the two epitaphs to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd are both in English; the pro-Welsh one is not in Welsh. Raises questions about audience.
  • Decoration:
  • Possible function(s) of book:
  • Reading contexts: gendered, institutional, political, secular / religious: Political: compiler takes account of both Welsh and English sympathies in his epitaphs. Religious: Compiler wants to ‘ground British history firmly in terms of religious history’. (Marx, 11).


Intertextual relations:

  • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Peculiar Version’, group PV-1437/1461. Agrees internally with Bodleian Library MS Lyell 34 in the earlier and later portions, but differs in the central part . See Matheson, PB, pp. 292-94.
  • Evidence of exemplar:
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: To genealogical descent of Henry VII in Royal MS 18 A. lxxv. See headings 2.3, 2.4 and 3.2 above.
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language:

Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is largely based on a draft description prepared by Daniel Huws, and supplied by Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, both of the NLW. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB. Some additions by Ryan Perry.

Select Bibliography for this MS:



BL MS Royal 18 A. lxxv

Bodl. MS Digby 170.


NLW MS 21608A.
NLW MS 18160D.
NLW MS 1593 E i.
NLW MS Panton Deeds 16


An English Chronicle 1377-1461: A New Edition, ed. by C. W. Marx.Cambridge: Boydell Press, 2003.

Secondary Texts:

Emanuel, H. D., ‘The Gwysaney Manuscripts’, NLWJ, 7 (1952), 326-43.

Evans, H.T., Wales and the Wars of the Roses, introd. by Ralph A. Griffiths, new edn (Stroud: Sutton, 1995), pp. 27-40.

HMC 6, p. 419.

Marx, William, ‘Middle English Manuscripts of the Brut in the National Library of Wales’, NLWJ, 27 (1991-1992), 361-382.

_____, ‘Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales MS 21608 and the Middle English Prose Brut’, JEBS, 1 (1997), 1-16.

National Library of Wales Annual Report (Aberystwyth, 1979), p. 60.

PB, pp. xxviii, 290-93.

Usher, Gwilym Arthur., Gwysaney and Owston: a History of the Family of Davies-Cooke of Gwysaney, Flintshire and Owston, West Riding of Yorkshire, (Denbigh: Gee & Son, 1964).

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