Douce Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 DouceManuscripts
  • Dates of Creation
      8th-19th century
  • Language of Material
      Latin, English, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish or Castilian, Scots, and Occitan (post 1500) or Provençal.
  • Physical Description
      453 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

Manuscripts, and some printed books, collected by Douce, including books of Hours, sermons, and papers relating to medicine, literature, theology, French romances, and law.

Full shelfmarks list: Douce 310; Douce Adds. 47-8, 99; Douce B. 426, B. 639; Douce BB. 139, BB. 165, BB. 169, BB. 171-2, BB. 188; Douce CC. 388; Douce FF. 59, FF. 63; Douce Prints c. 50, e. 1; Douce S 857-9; MSS. Anglesey a. 2; MSS. Douce 1-390, 390, 391-3; MSS. Douce a. 1-2, b. 1-4, c. 1-3, d. 1, d. 3-6, d. 8-16, e. 1, e. 37, f. 1-5, g. 1-2, R. 458; MSS. Douce Charters a. 1, a. 3; MSS. Douce Num. 1-3.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Douce (1757-1834), antiquary and collector, was a younger son of Thomas Douce, and grandson of Francis Douce, MD. He was educated for mercantile pursuits and subsequently for the Bar, but his tastes were from the first literary and antiquarian. He married in 1799, and was for a short time (about 1807-11) Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum, where he took part in the preparation of the Lansdowne and Harleian Catalogues. In 1823 he came into a considerable property as residuary legatee of Nollekens the sculptor, and thenceforward freely indulged his propensity for collecting manuscripts, books connected with English literature, especially Shakespeare, and curiosities of every description. He formed a very large library, of which illuminated books of Hours, French romances, and early English literature, were especial features of the manuscript part. His chief published works were the Illustrations of Shakespeare (1807) and the Dance of Death (1833). Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography. Douce and his collections are discussed in Bodleian Quarterly Record, 7 (1932-4), 359-82, in A. N. L. Munby, Connoisseurs and medieval miniatures 1750-1850 (Oxford, 1972), 35-56, and in The Douce legacy [exhibition catalogue] (Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1984).

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The collection was bequeathed to the Library by Douce in 1834.


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. IV, nos. 21575-22071.

Related Material

See also Papers of Francis Douce (MSS. Douce b. 6-9, c. 5-12, d. 20-88, e. 9-107, f. 6-26).