The volume contains several legal manuscripts in Latin, French and English, written in different hands, including: a formulary of proceedings at a manorial court (ff. 1-23); the first, second and part of the third books of Littleton's tenures in French (ff. 25-57v); and the Natura brevium, which sets forth writs with commentary on their application and properties (ff. 70-155v), similar to the edition published by Robert Redman in 1529. On folio 1 is the date Anno Domini 1479.
Contents: (1) ff. 1-23, quires 1 and 2: Formulary of proceedings at a manorial court (Modus tenendi curiam Baronibus), in Latin and English.
- (a) ff. 1-14v: 'In primis preceptum factum balliuo per Seneschallum...'. Proceedings of the court presided over by Thomas B., chief steward of the archbishop of Canterbury, at Plumstead (Kent), Monday after St Augustine, 22 Edward IV . In Latin, except for 'The charge of the Courte' under 21 heads and 'the charge of the lete' under 36 heads.
- (b) ff. 14v-18v: 'Modus diuersarum naturarum factarum de Copiis Rotularum de terris et tenementis acceptis et habitis secundum Consuetudinem Manerii tent' ad voluntatem domini per virgam qualiter Clericus debet eas in Curia rotularum etc'... (f. 18v) Nunc de leta...'. In Latin.
- (c) f. 21r: 'Modus qualiter Balliuus vel Bedellus qui seruiet Curiam debet vocare assisam panis et seruicie quando Curia cum visu totaliter finitur...'.
- (d) ff. 21r-22v: Oaths of the constable and others and the form of granting seisin.
- (e) ff. 22v-23r: 'Modus faciendum (sic) extract' Cur', in Latin.
- ff. 23v-24v were left blank: f. 24r-v contains added formulary documents.
(2) [Now missing]: 'A generall rule to teche euery man that is willinge for to lerne to serue a lorde or maystr in anything to his Plesure'. Recorded in the early 20th-century sale catalogue (see below) as item 2, at which time the manuscript had 203 leaves.
(3) ff. 25-57v, quires 3-5: Littleton's tenures, in French. 'Vne lyuer de Exposicion... Tenaunt en fee simple... que lun carne est' (ends imperfectly). Printed very often from (1482): STC 15719-15759. Book 2 begins on f. 34v, book 3 on f. 55v. The last two-thirds of the text, from edn. (1482), cvii verso, line 9, is missing.
(4) ff. 58-155v, quires 6 and 7: Legal pieces, principally (ff. 71-155v) a Natura brevium in French.
- (a) f. 58... (line 7) 'Ceo vous monstre T. Northall' que...'
- (b) ff. 58v-68v: Notes in French on statutes of the realm, Quia emptores (1290) (Statutes of the Realm, vol. 1, p. 106), Westminster I (1275), Marlborough (1267), and others.
- (c) ff. 70-155v: Proc' de natura breuium. . . . (table of writs De debito - De homine replegiando)... (f. 71) Dicitur que il y a breue de droit patent et breue de droit de clos... (f. 151) Expliciunt breuia originalia. Et incipiunt breuia iudicialia ... Explicit. Very much shorter than the Natura brevium printed in (1494) and later (STC 18385-18411). Twenty judicial writs, ff. 151-155v.
- Folios 62r, 63v-64r, 67v-68r and 69r-v are left blank.
(5) ff. 156-188v, quire 8: Legal notes in French.
- (a) ff. 156-162v: Legal notes in French headed 'Ml' xiiii H viti', and beginning 'Detinu de box et charters'. 'Explicit quarto decimo h. vi' at the end.
- (b) ff. 163-188v: Law cases, etc., in French, in various hands: many pieces begin 'home'.
- ff. 156-88 are now a single quire wrapped in a strip of a 15th/16th-century legal document, but they appear to have been originally four quires in different hands and of rather different dates, which have been put one inside the other (see Ker for details).
Script: A mixture of secretary and gothic anglicana and (items 3 and 5) current legal anglicana, 'sometimes of a very scribbly sort' (Ker). Written space: c.175 x 100 mm. c.30 long lines.
Secundo folio: the boke and sey.
Description derived from N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), pp. 423-4. By permission of Oxford University Press.