Digby Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Digby 1-233, 234a-c, 235-7; Digby Rolls 1-5
  • Dates of Creation
      9th-17th century
  • Language of Material
      Latin, and English.
  • Physical Description
      244 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

Manuscripts collected by Digby, including manuscripts relating to Roger Bacon, astrology, astronomy, the Bible, medicine and theology.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Kenelm Digby was the younger son of Sir Everard Digby, who was executed in 1605 for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. He was born in 1603 and entered Gloucester Hall at Oxford in 1618, but left in 1620 and never took a degree. Until 1629 he was chiefly engaged in foreign travel, or as a naval commander. He lived a wandering life till he died on 11 June 1665.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/specialcollections).

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the manuscripts was given to the Bodleian by Digby, 1634-9. MS. Digby 237 was given to the Library in 1905.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

Full descriptions, in Latin, are in William D. Macray, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars nona codices a viro clarissimo Kenelm Digby, Eq. Aur., anno 1634 donatos, complectens: adiecto indice nominum et rerum (Oxford, 1883, reprinted with corrigenda and very extensive addenda by R.W. Hunt and A.G. Watson, Oxford, 1999).

Brief one-line descriptions, with shelfmarks and short titles, are in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. II, nos. 1602-1839*, vol. V, nos. 30450-1, vol. VI, no. 33551.

The illuminated manuscripts in this collection are briefly described in O. Pcht and J.J.G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1966-73); with an unpublished supplement containing a concordance of shelfmarks and addenda (1974).

Custodial History

In 1632 Digby received by bequest from his College Tutor, the well-known Thomas Allen, the whole of the latter's collection of scientific and historical manuscripts, including several valuable volumes of Roger Bacon's works.