Theological treatises and sermons, notably by Robert Holcot

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 96 MS 657
  • Dates of Creation
      13th century-15th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume containing 181 paper leaves and 6 parchment leaves; 12 pastedowns; 29 strengthening strips

Scope and Content

Manuscript volume in several hands, probably written in Norfolk during the 15th century, containing eleven theological works, including Robert Holcot's Convertemini , the Speculum Christiani , and numerous sermons.
The manuscript also has two former pastedowns, which form part of a 13th century Collectar containing the Sanctorale for masses from 21 Oct to 13 Nov and the common of a confessor, confessors and a virgin.
The 29 strips of parchment which were separating and down the middle of each quire of the volume have been removed, and are taken from at least 5 documents of 15th century origin containing places and individuals connected with Norfolk. Several of the fragments appear to be from a letter of Archbishop Stafford to Gerald Hesyll, rector of Cley, and others.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Holcot (1290-1349) was a Dominican theologian and preacher. Born in Holcot, near Northampton, Holcot joined the Dominican Order and studied at Oxford. After gaining his doctorate in theology, he became Regent Master of Oxford University (1331-1333). It is also surmised that Holcot was Regent Master of Cambridge from 1334-1335. In 1343 he returned to the Dominican priory at Northampton, where he died of plague in 1349. Holcot wrote many theological works, including Commentaries on the Books of Wisdom , one of the best known works of the 14th century, which was printed in 1480 and went through 17 editions.
A Collectar is a manuscript containing the prayers (specifically 'collects') for the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
John Stafford, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of the Earl of Stafford. He held high political and religious office, being Bishop of Bath and Wells and Lord Chancellor to Henry V and VI; in 1443 he was created Archbishop of Canterbury, an office which he held until his death in 1452.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was formerly held at Helmington Hall (as Ms LJ.I.7), and was sold to the University of London at the Sotheby's sale of 14 June 1965 (lot 24).

Other Finding Aids

For the Collectar, see R. Watson 'Descriptive list of fragments of medieval manuscripts in the University of London Library' (1976). A detailed description of the entire manuscript, plus fragments, may be found in N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British Libraries: I London (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969).

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The volume itself is written on paper, strengthened with parchment. The initials are omitted, except on p1, where the decoration is blue with red ornaments. There is a medieval binding, probably done in Norfolk, of wooden boards covered with white skin, repaired over the spine with modern brown leather, with four bands and two clasps.
The thirteenth century Collectar consists of 21 surviving lines on parchment decorated with 2-line initials in red and blue with light grey and red ornament; rubricated.
The strengthening strips are made of parchment.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

The manuscript contains inscriptions in the front relating to book purchases between William Hautboys, chaplain, and John Everard, chaplain (one of this name became rector of Aylmerton, near Cromer, in 1494) dating from the late 15th century. There is another inscription by Robert Sevyer, parish priest of Blakeney, Norfolk, on p. 362, written in the 15th-16th centuries.