Precedency Book

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 8
  • Dates of Creation
      14th Century - 20th Century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English  and Middle English
  • Physical Description
      Extent of unit of description: 330 x 205 mm.  1 volume (331 folios); Medium: paper.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

Bound volume of tracts, queries and disputes over precedency by various parties, written and judged by members of the College of Arms. Individuals and organisations ranging from Officers of State, minor and major English aristocracy, Orders of Honour, and urban and ecclesiastical officials and corporations are all covered. The focus is primarily local disputes in England and Wales, with a large number representing disputes between urban officials and their local county gentry. At the beginning of the manuscript is an alphabetical subject index and a separate contents (by page number) section. At the back of the volume is a separate manuscript entitled Orders between the Heralds-at-arms and the Servants-at-arms, consisting of an order by Thomas, Duke of Clarence and Earl of Arundel (1388?-1421), on the rights of Heralds and Servants [Sergeants]-at-arms, detailing their duties and privileges.

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the London booksellers P.J. Dobell and A.E. Dobell in December 1924 (with English MSS 293-294).


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 8).

Custodial History

Evidence for the custodial history of the manuscript can be found on the inside front cover of the volume. The earliest reference to ownership is on a bookplate of Sir George Nayler, Garter King of Arms (1764?-1831). The next definite reference point comes in November 1836 when the manuscript was part of a large purchase by the bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps of the entire manuscript collection of the London bookseller Thomas Thorpe (1791-1851), who specialised in historical, genealogical and topographical manuscripts. After the death of Phillipps in 1872 his library was slowly dispersed and on 27 April 1903 this manuscript (Phillips 8966) was sold by auction at Sotheby's to Sir Arthur Vicars, then Ulster King of Arms.

The separate manuscript, Orders between the Heralds-at-arms and the Servants-at-arms, has the annotated catalogue number of Phillipps MS 31948 and was purchased by Sir Arthur Vicars in 1896.

Related Material

The Library holds the Phillipps Charters, formerly owned by Sir Thomas Phillipps (PHC). The UML holds another Phillipps manuscript previously owned by Thomas Thorpe ( GB 133 Eng MS 101), and an heraldic manuscript once belonging to Sir George Nayler (GB 133 Eng MS 473).