Willis Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Willis 1-105, 107-112
  • Dates of Creation
      16th-18th century
  • Language of Material
      English, and Latin.
  • Physical Description
      112 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

Willis's manuscript collections are chiefly the materials from which were published his Survey of the Cathedrals in England and Wales (except Canterbury, Exeter, Norwich, Salisbury and Wells, which although never printed are as well represented in the manuscripts as the others), 1717-30; his Parochiale Anglicanum, 1733; his Notitia Parliamentaria, 1716-50; and his History of the Town, Hundred and Deanery of Buckingham, 1755. But besides these there are large collections for evey part of Buckinghamshire.

Administrative / Biographical History

Browne Willis, of Whaddon Hall, near Winslow in Buckinghamshire, was born in 1682, and educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 23 March 1700). He was a student of the Inner Temple, MP for Buckinghamshire 1705-8, and FSA 1718. He received from the University of Oxford the honorary degrees of MA in 1720 and DCL in 1749. He died on 5 February 1760. 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).

Acquisition Information

The manuscripts were received at the Library on 24 April 1760.


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. 16294-16403.

Custodial History

By his will dated 20 December 1741 and codicil of 25 February 1758, Willis gave his manuscripts and coins to the Bodleian, the former 'to be placed in the School Gallery next to those of my friend Bishop Tanner,' and the latter to be visited annually on St. Frideswide's Day, October 19. He had before his death made many valuable gifts of coins, and had allowed the University to purchase his gold ones.

Related Material

See also Willis Donation (MSS. Bodl. 10, 69, 754, 840, 872, 891, 944, 976, 980; Willis 106).


See Scope and Content.