Savile Manuscripts

Scope and Content

Savile's manuscripts including Greek and Latin scientific, astronomical and philosophical treatises.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry Savile (1549-1622), though remembered most frequently as a mathematician, was also a historian, antiquarian, and classical scholar, who as a man of learning won the admiration of Scaliger. Born at Bradley in Yorkshire, he came up to Brasenose College about 1561, but migrated to Merton as a Fellow in 1565. He rapidly distinguished himself in mathematics and Greek, but after 1578 he spent some years abroad and at court before returning to Oxford to become warden of Merton in 1585. A persistent courtier, he also sought for and at length in 1596 obtained the provostship of Eton. His eight-volume folio edition of St. Chrysostom (1610-13) - to which the Old Catalogue alludes in describing Savile as 'sapientia excultissimus, eloquens, pius, et Chrysostomi sui omnino persimilis' - was his greatest literary undertaking, but it had little success, as a French edition, thought to be pirated, was produced almost simultaneously. His foundation in Oxford of the professorships of geometry and astronomy was completed by the gift of a mathematical chest, endowed with 100, and a mathematical library. 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

Acquisition Information

The manuscripts were given to the Library by Savile in 1620.


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. II, nos. 6548-6615.

Related Material

See also Savile Collection (Savile G. 18, G. 20; MSS. Rigaud 3-33, 33A, 34-51, 53-7, 60-8; MSS. Savile 53-60, 63-73, 74a, 74b, 75-95, 97-105, a. 1-17, c. 1-2, e. 1-10).