Joseph Green Collection of Medieval Religious Manuscripts

Scope and Content

The collection comprises early 15th-century manuscripts of two Middle English religious texts: The Pore Caitif (English MS 412), and The Lyif of Crist, or Myrrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu Christ. Both manuscripts are imperfect and were formerly in the possession of the collector and antiquary Joseph Joshua Green. Enclosed within both volumes is correspondence between Green, Walter William Skeat and others concerning the manuscripts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Joshua Green, collector and antiquary, was born on 15 April 1854, the second son of Joshua and Elizabeth Green of Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, who were Quakers. He was educated initially at home, and from 1866 at Sidcot School for Quakers in the Mendips, where he developed an interest in natural history and botany. On the completion of his education he went into the family business, Joshua Green & Co., general merchants, of Stanstead, Essex. From 1870 he began to collect the autographs of distinguished contemporaries and figures from history, such as English sovereigns, Luther, Melancthon and other European celebrities. He continued to add to these collections for the rest of his life. He made a special study of the Puritans and the free churches and compiled histories of some of the oldest Quaker families. He was president of the Friends Historical Society in 1908-9, and contributed to its journal. He died at Godwyn Lodge, Hastings, on 24 October 1921.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The two manuscripts were purchased by the John Rylands Library from Mrs Elizabeth Green, widow of Joseph Green, on 17 January 1927 for £10 each.

Related Material

The Ashburham Wycliffe Collection in the UML contains another Pore Caitif manuscript: English MS 87 .

The UML holds other manuscripts of the Mirror of the Life of Christ: see English MS 94 and English MS 98.


Gloria Cigman, Lollard sermons, Early English Text Society, vol. 294 (Oxford: Early English Text Society, 1989).

Joseph Joshua Green, Joseph Joshua Green. (A life sketch) (Ashford: Headley Bros, [1922]).

N.R. (Neil Ripley) Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), pp. 425-6.