University of Chicago MS. 254

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Production Practicalities and Reception Issues:

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: University of Chicago MS 254
  • Matheson no(s): 72, 84
  • Date: ca.1450
  • Type of book: Brut chronicle
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • No of items: 1
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols. 1-149v. text ends incomplete ‘saynt george … [text missing due to torn leaf]; catchwords: ‘and þan þe’, see Brie, p. 488. Contains John Page’s Poem as a continuation, separately rubricated as verse, fols. 124v-126v.
  • Writing support: (mixed media mss: particular usage of parchment?): paper and vellum: particular use of parchment not noted.
  • Watermark?: no
  • Collation:
    • No of leaves: 149
    • Quires: i16+1 (fol. 17 is a singleton);ii16; iii16+1 (fol. 50 is a singleton); iv14+1 (fol. 65 is a singleton); v14+1 (fol. 81 is a singleton); vi-vii16; viii18; ix16+2. Fol. 149 has been guarded.
    • Foliation: mod. Pencil in top l/h corner; foliation for fol. 120 crossed out and leaf re-foliated 122; foliation for fol. 129 crossed out and leaf re-foliated 131, next fol. is foliated 130, then 131 again; after fol. 138 foliation for 139-146 crossed out and re-foliated 141-148.
    • Composite MS? no
    • Booklets?: no
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): no
    • Quire signatures? (where?): fols. 18-25: a, some trimmed away; 34-41: b (some trimmed away); 51-52: c (some trimmed away); 66-73: d (some trimmed away); 82-89: e (some trimmed away); 97-103: f-f viiij; 113-122: g-g ix; 130: h-hiij.
    • Damage?: fol. 149 guarded; end flyleaf (iv) mutilated, bottom right corner missing.
  • Page layout:

a. ruling (ink or drypoint?): frames and lines in drypoint
b. columns: 1
c. lines: 41-42

  • Ink: olive brown throughout
  • Dimensions: quarto?
    • front board: 311 x 218 mm
    • Folio / page: 296 x 213 mm
    • Writing space: 218 x 136 mm
  • Binding: original brown deerskin over oak boards, undecorated. Gatherings sewn onto 5 double thongs recessed into boards; recesses filled with plaster, now mostly missing; originally 2 clasps; remains of metal catches on back board and remains of 1 strap on bottom of front board fixed with brass nail; the covering is missing at the top right corner of the front board, and 1 nail hole can be seen where the strap was fixed; large section of back cover missing; spine: raised bands with modern pressmark in gold: ‘DA 130 B9’; 3 parchment flyleaves each at front and back.
  • Decoration: no, but see heading 1.xxiii.
  • Artist?: N/A
  • No. of Scribes: 1
  • Named scribes?: no, but see heading 1.xxi
  • Hand date; style; version: Anglicana with some secretary forms (particularly g with broken strokes).
  • holograph, autograph?:
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?: John Nuton, although probably not the scribe of this manuscript, was the compiler and partial scribe of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 416 (contains the Cursor Mundi and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, a translation of the Secreta Secretorum and fragments of Peter Idley’s Instructions to his Son and Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules); Nuton can also be associated with London, British Library MS Sloane 4031 (contains Lydgate’s Fall of Princes), See Thompson, Cursor Mundi, pp. 41-2; Seymour posits another scribe of Bodl. MS Laud. Misc. 416, Roger Newton, to be a relation of John Nuton’s. In Bodl. MS Laud Misc. 416, after the colophon on fol. 226v, John Nuton has written this note: ‘Scriptum Rhodo per Iohannis Neuton die 25 Octobris 1459’, which according to Seymour, indicates that that MS was produced at La Rode, ‘the manor house of John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, […] and otherwise part of the estate of the Benedictine cathedral priory of Canterbury’. See Seymour, Cat. Ch. MSS, I, p. 26.
  • Compiler?: no but see heading 1.xxi.
  • Rubrication, sigla: Three-line caps in blue; 1st cap on fol. 1r decorated in red and blue geometric design; Latin glosses in red up to fol. 3r , then brown with red underline, and in red occasionally;  some letters touched in red; paraphs in red; caps at beginning of sentences touched in red; proper names and dates underlined in red; chapter headings in red, indented from left and right margins; line markers in red; some ascenders of top lines touched in red; typically last words of lines offset (in the same way that catchwords usually are) and underlined in red; fols 124v-126v poem laid out as verse with red line markers and initial letters touched in red.
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
    • Front pastedown: bookplate of the University of Chicago Libraries, stamped ‘919738’, with ‘ms 254’ in mod. pencil.
    • Flyleaf (ir): ‘Brut Chronicle 211/100 303/880’ mod. pencil; ‘particularly interesting’, ‘£60’ mod pencil; ‘6’ mod. pencil.
    • Flyleaf (iir): ‘x.21’ dark red ink; ‘Jhone abotti’ in scrollwork, ‘istius libelli posessio ex iure debetur venerabili in xpo patri ac Domino dompno Johanni Nuton dei providencia venerandi monastery de Bello Rectori ac Patri. Angligene gentis cronice vocati. Cuius alienator vel alieni professor anathema sit q’ sennahoi mastiw’, in the hand of John Nuton, abbot of Battle Abbey 1463; ‘I jhesu maria amen / saintas ierie ierie / n die venerias / n die fabati / n die dominica in die’ C15 brown ink; ‘£60’ mod. pencil; Stamp of Lord T. Phillipps, ‘Middle Hill 2706’.
    • Flyleaf (ii verso): ‘Phillipps MS 2706’ mod. pencil; ‘Richard ragat’  C16 black ink.
    • Flyleaf (iiir): ‘Book belonging to the Abbots of Battel, being a chronicle of England to the time of the marriage of King henry 6th.’ C17 black ink.
    • Flyleaf (iii verso): ‘DA 130 +.B9’ (crossed out) mss room’ mod. pencil.
    • 1r: ‘LN’ in brown ink with pen drawing of flower buds, poss. John Nuton.
    • 32r: ‘rued’ drypoint C16.
    • 80r: diamond pattern in drypoint.
    • 91r: shield pattern in drypoint (no coat of arms).
    • 95v: ‘ruedale’ in drypoint, C16.
    • Flyleaf (vr): ‘ave maria’ in scroll, C15 black ink.
    • Flyleaf (v verso): ‘Johannes’, blue ink, ‘joh’ red ink, ‘Quid [etc]…’, q in blue ink, rest in black, C15, prob. John Nuton, who has copied out many more Latin notes; ‘John Chet [Cheb?]’, C16.
    • Flyleaf (vir) More Latin notes by John Nuton, also a musical score.
  • Glosses and underlining:
    • 48v onwards names of kings glossed in C15-16 hand, black ink, poss. Richard ?Ragat.
    • 75r: maniculum next to text ‘ somme Britons, somme Saxons, somme danois [etc], see brie, p. 220.
    • 94v: Maniculum next to text ‘baylol þe virtuous trew kyng of scotlond’, see Brie, p. 291.
    • 95r: maniculum next to chapter heading ‘How king Edward made a duchy off þe erldom off cornewayle’, See Brie, p. 292.
  • 98r: C16 English gloss in pale brown ink next to chapter heading ‘How kyng Edward had a gret battayle off þe spaynerde’, see Brie, p. 303.
    • 102r: C16 English gloss, black ink, (poss. Richard Ragat?) next to text, ‘Peter, King of Spain’ see Brie, pp. 316-17.
    • 106r: C16 gloss in black ink next to text ‘bigges [beggars] þat war knowyn opynly ffor nedy powr’, see Brie, p. 331
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage: Possibly compiled at (or for) Battle Abbey (see PB, p. 132). Use of blue and red ink by John Nuton, an early owner of the book, indicates that he had some role in book production, although whether he was involved in the production of this book is uncertain at the moment. Seymour lists him as a scribe of Bodl. MS Laud. Misc. 416 (see fol. 226v of Bodl. MS Laud. Misc. 416; Seymour, Cat. Ch. MSS, I, p. 26.) Nuton became Abbot at Battle in 1463.
  • Later Ownership(s): C16: poss. Richard ?Ragat; C19: Sir T. Phillipps (acquired ca. 1825 from Thorpe).
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc: Poss. Institutional: Battle Abbey; (Bodl. MS Laud. Misc. 416): institutional: Kent, parish of Selling, Benedictine priory of Canterbury; poss. political: La Rode (John Tiptoft, earl of Worcs.).
  • Language(s); translation activities: English text with Latin glosses, Latin marginalia by Nuton, English glosses poss. by Richard ?Ragat.
  • Dialect:
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.:
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural: Kent; Battle Abbey; religious; rural; (Bodl. MS Laud. Misc. 416): Kent, parish of Selling, La Rode, secular, rural, but also estate of Benedictine priory of Canterbury, religious, urban.

Intertextual Relations:

  • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Common Version’, group CV-1419:[men/?r&g] ; JP: C. See Matheson, PB, pp. 131-32; 152-156.
  • Evidence of exemplar: N/A
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS: N/A
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: Other books and texts that John Nuton can be associated with: Bodl. MS Laud Misc. 416 (contains the Cursor Mundi and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, a translation of the Secreta Secretorum and fragments of Peter Idley’s Instructions to his Son and Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules); BL MS Sloane 4031 (contains Lydgate’s Fall of Princes); BL MS Harley 3586 (a register of Battle Abbey).
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language:

Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is largely based on MS work by J O’R, with some supplementary material from the University of Chicago Library.  Textual descent based on Matheson, PB. Revisions by Ryan Perry.

Select Bibliography for this MS:




CUL MS Hh.6.9
TCC MS O.9.1

BL MS Sloane 4031
BL MS Harley 3586

Bodl. MS Laud Misc. 416

PUL MS Taylor Medieval 3

Secondary Texts:
Thompson, John J., The Cursor Mundi Poem, Texts and Contexts, Medium Ævum Monographs, new series 19 (Oxford: Society for Medieval Languages and Literatures, 1998), pp. 41-2.

Michael C. Seymour, Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts: Vol. 1 Works Before the Canterbury Tales, (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995) p. 26.

PB, pp. 131-32; 152-156.

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