Holmes Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Holmes 1-149, 151-64
  • Dates of Creation
      12th century, 1776-1820
  • Language of Material
      Ancient Greek (to 1453), Latin, and English.
  • Physical Description
      163 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

Holmes's manuscripts, including collations of Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, and letters connected with the collations, 1789-1805. The manuscripts are all 18th-19th century, except for a 12th century fragment of a Latin manuscript containing Wisdom iii. 13-iv. 17.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Robert Holmes was born in November 1748, and educated at Winchester and New College Oxford (matriculated 3 March 1767, BA 1770, MA 1774, BD 1787, DD 1789). He was fellow of his college, and from 1783 to 1793 Professor of Poetry at Oxford. In 1795 he was made Canon of Christ Church and in 1804 Dean of Winchester.

In 1788 he began the task of collating manuscripts of the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, and from 1789 to 1805 published annual accounts of the progress of the work, for which he obtained large subscriptions, and which was intended to elicit a text based on a collation of all known Greek manuscripts as well as old Versions in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian and Slavonic. In spite of interruptions, partly due to the disturbed state of affairs on the continent, Holmes and his collaborators amassed a great deal of material, and in 1798 Genesis was separately published, the work eventually comprising five folio volumes (1798, 1818, 1823, 1827, 1827), published at the Clarendon Press. After Holmes's death at Oxford, 12 November 1805, Dr James Parsons became editor. Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

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).


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

Other Finding Aids

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. III, nos. 16455-16617.

Custodial History

Each March or April the collations of the previous twelve months were exhibited to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, and then deposited in the Bodleian, the editor being allowed to borrow them for the purposes of his work.