Hamilton Manuscripts

Scope and Content

Theological manuscripts, including sermons and theological treatises.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856) was a metaphysician. Details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

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

After Sir William Hamilton's death on 6 May 1856, his sons, Sir William Stirling Hamilton and Hubert Hamilton, gave the manuscripts to the Bodleian 'in memoriam et ex votis patris sui,' and they were received in June 1857.


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. V, nos. 24431-24488.

Custodial History

The Hamilton manuscripts are believed to have entirely belonged to monasteries in Erfurt. Many certainly formed part of the library of the ancient Benedictine monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, secularized in 1803, and some came from the library of the Carthusian house of St. Salvator founded in 1372. When the French took Erfurt on 16 October 1806 the monastic libraries were despoiled, and many manuscripts were burnt as fuel or otherwise destroyed. Count von Blow later bought some which had escaped these perils, and after his death (probably in 1836) some of them were purchased by a Mr John Broad, who had been a student under Sir William Hamilton at Edinburgh, and who at some time before 1841 presented them to his former master, knowing his interest in everything relating to Luther, who had studied at the University and Augustinian house at Erfurt.

Geographical Names