Later Version Wycliffe New Testament

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 80
  • Dates of Creation
      Mid 15th century [?1444]
  • Physical Description
      1 volume. iii + 317+ iv folios; foliated 1-317 (modern foliation). f. 318 is a vellum flyleaf. Dimensions: 215 x 147 mm. Collation: 1-28, 38 lacking 8, blank, after f. 23, 48 lacking 1 before f. 24, 5-228, 238 plus 1 leaf after 4 (f. 179), 24-348, 358 lacking 1 before f. 272, 36-398, 408 lacking 8, blank. Medium: vellum. Binding: rebound by Zaehnsdorf in blind-tooled tan pigskin in 1898.

Scope and Content

Later Wycliffite version of the New Testament, preceded by a table of moveable feasts, a calendar, and table to find Easter from 1448 to 1520, etc. The New Testament incorporates an unusual prologue to Romans, and inserted in another hand is the Epistle to the Laodiceans. The volume concludes with Epistle readings from the Old Testament. On f. 271 is recorded 'Here endiþ þe Apocalipis Anno domini m ccco (sic) xliiii' [i.e. 1444].

Contents: (1) Preliminaries to 2: (a) f. 1v, Table of movable feasts. (b) ff. 2-7v, Calendar in red and black. Peikola notes two unusual aspects of the calendar: the absence of astronomical material, and the choice of English rather than Latin as the language (see Bibliography below). Entries for Thomas Beckett have been erased at 7 July and 29 December, but 'Utas of seint thomas', 5 January, has not been erased. (c) f. 8r, Table to find Easter, 1448-1520. (d) ff. 9-22v, '...þus endiþ þe kalendir of lessouns pistlis and gospels of al þe ȝeer'; Forshall and Madden, iv. 683-98, but the text here and in Eng. MSS 76, 77, 78 and 91 differs substantially from theirs, which goes with the earlier Wycliffite version. A table for the common of saints is not provided here or in Eng. MSS 76, 78, 78 and 91: cf. Forshall and Madden, p. 696, footnote. The commemorations precede the proper of saints, as in Eng. MS 77. (e) f. 23r, 'The first place in augrym noumbre...' An explanation of arabic numbers.

ff. 1r, 8v and 23v were originally left blank. A calligraphic title page was added to f. 1r in the 17th century, and a table of contents to f. 8v. Folio 23 contains the missing text at the beginning of item (2) in imitation textura.

(2) ff. 24-271v and f. 317, New Testament in the later Wycliffite version. Forshall and Madden, no. 157. All before 'sterre' (Matthew 2: 2) came on the leaf missing before f. 24. 'Here endiþ þe Apocalipis Anno domini m ccco (sic) xliiii' (f. 271) is followed by a prologue not usually found in English, 'Romayns ben þei þt of iewes and heþen... to pees and acorde', which is squeezed in on f. 271r and v and overflows onto a half leaf now pasted to f. 317; the hand is that of ff. 1-271. Other prologues are as usual. The leaf added to quire 23 contains the Epistle to the Laodiceans and its prologue.

(3) ff. 272-316v, Epistle lections from the Old Testament. The first leaf is missing with all before 're him. And þei schulen clepe hem'. The temporal ends on f. 307v and is followed by a cue for the feast of relics and 'Here enden þe pistlis and lessouns of þe olde lawe for sonedaies and ferials; and begynnen commemoraciouns'. Commemorations, ff. 307v-308r: of Our Lady, for brothers and sisters, for clear weather, for rain, for pestilence of beasts, and 'In masse of requiem or for deede'. Sanctoral, ff. 308v-312: twelve feasts, Andrew, Conception of B.V.M., Purification of B.V.M., Philip and James, 'on mydsomer euyn', 'on mydsomer dai', Mary Magdalene, vigil, day, and octave of Assumption of B.V.M., Decollation of John, Nativity of B.V.M. Common of Saints, ff. 312-316v. f. 317 is blank.

Script: Gothic textura. Written space: 160 x 108 mm. 2 columns, 36-38 lines in quires 4-9, and 30-32 lines in quires 10-40. A new hand begins at f. 272 (item 3).

Secundo folio: sterre (f. 24).

Decoration: At the beginning of most books there is a handsome initial in blue, pink and/or green with white penwork and floral infill, on a burnished gold ground, with a [ or I-shaped border with floriate extensions terminating in acanthus leaves, ivy leaves, bezants, etc.: on ff. 9v, 49r, 67v, 105r, 132r, 145r, 157v, 165v, 169v, 173v, 176v, 179r, 180r, 182v, 190r, 191v, 192v, 202v, 237v, 241r, 244v, 247v, 250v and 253v. There are numerous 3- and 2-line initials in blue ink with red penwork flourishes.

Other features: There are numerous manicules throughout the volume. A balance has been drawn in the margins of ff. 3r and 6v against the calendar entries for the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Description derived from N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 406. By permission of Oxford University Press.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands from Henry Yates Thompson in 1897, and later transferred to the John Rylands Library. Accession no. R4994.

Custodial History

(1) Inscription on f. 1: '26 Jan 1692 this Booke was shewne to Mr Wm Fox at his Examination on the behalfe of John Cullum at ye suit of Thomas Shaftoe in the Court of Exchequer before me John Powell'.

(2) Belonged to Anthony Merry (1756-1835), diplomatist. Presented by him in 1847 to:

(3) Rev Wilmot Marsh of Bangor.

(4) Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham. Appendix no. 18. According to Forshall and Madden, 'obtained after his [Marsh's] sale in 1847 by the Earl of Ashburnham'.

(5) Henry Yates Thompson. He purchased the Ashburnham Appendix in May 1897 and almost immediately resold the manuscript to Mrs Rylands.


Josiah Forshall and Frederic Madden, The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, with the Apocryphal books, in the earliest English versions made from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his followers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1850), vol. 1, MS no.157.

N.R. (Neil Ripley) Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 406.

G.A. (Godfrey Allen) Lester, The index of Middle English prose. Handlist 2, a handlist of manuscripts containing Middle English prose in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester and Chetham's Library, Manchester (Cambridge: Brewer, 1985), pp. 7-10.

Matti Peikola, 'Instructional aspects of the calendar in later medieval England, with special reference to The John Rylands University Library English MS 80', in Matti Peikola, Janne Skaffari and Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen (eds), Instructional writing in English: studies in honour of Risto Hiltunen (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Betjamins, 2009), pp. 83-104.