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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Composite manuscript of theological and medical texts

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This composite manuscript, written for the most part in the first half of the 13th century, has passed through several centuries and several owners, but has spent the majority of its life in East Anglia in the East of England where it remains today. The first quire was most likely a personal notebook or <i>vade mecum</i>: it contains a poem, notes for sermons, and various encyclopedic and theological trivia, as well as a copy of a 1381 letter of introduction from the Prioress and Sisters of Hinchingbrooke Priory (Cambridgeshire) asking the then Bishop of Lincoln John Bokyngham to admit the bearer of the letter, a Walter Sayer of Hook Norton (Oxfordshire) to the title of their house. The rest of the manuscript (Quires 2-17) contains popular medical treatises including the <i>Breviarium</i> of Johannes de Sancto Paulo and the <i>Antidotarium Nicholai</i>, copied by four scribes all working together to produce a useful reference book.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript belonged to the Augustinian Priory in Barnwell on the outskirts of Cambridge: a brief ownership inscription 'Bernewell' in a fifteenth-century hand can still be seen on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>i verso</a>. The manuscript was almost certainly copied at Barnwell Priory, with several other manuscripts of similar date being known to survive from that house. The book probably remained with the Barnwell community until 1538, when the priory was dissolved during the Reformation. The owners of Add. MS 6865 in the first century following the dissolution of Barnwell Priory are unknown, but the book came into contact with a 16th-century reader, Anthony Shupton, who added his name to the manuscript in several places and who may be the same Anthony Shupton found in <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library, Sloane MS 4</a>. By the middle of the 17th century, the book belonged to James Cobbes of Bury St Edmunds, who amassed a collection of manuscripts mostly deriving from East Anglian religious houses. Cobbes passed the book to his grandson, James Harvey, and from there the book passed into the hands of the well-known 18th-century collector Rev. Dr Cox Macro. Macro's collection passed to his daughter, Mary Macro and then through her husband William Stainforth's line to his niece Elizabeth Stainforth and her husband the politician John Patteson. Patteson experienced a period of financial difficulty in the second decade of the 19th century, and sold many family assets, including the Macro manuscripts. They were sold in 1820 by the London book-dealer James Christie the Younger to Dawson Turner, who split his purchase with fellow Norfolk collector Hudson Gurney. This manuscript was one of those that was part of Gurney's portion of purchase, remaining with the Gurney family for a little over a century, until it was sold through Sotheby's by Quintin Edward Gurney in 1936 and purchased by the University Library.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer, Curious Cures Project<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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