Archive for the ‘Cambridge collectors’ Category

August Image- MS 394, f. 15r

CCCC MS 394, f. 15r



This late thirteenth-century Apocalypse was owned by Thomas Markaunt (c.1382-1439), senior proctor of the University and Fellow of Corpus Christi College. The pictures here show the elders around the Throne of God. By his will of November 1439, Markaut bequeathed 76 books to the College. The Apocalypse was no. 72, valued at 2 shillings. The bequest was received by Corpus on 1 August 1440. MS 394, folio 15r.

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Although the Parker Library contains hundreds of manuscripts given by Parker to Corpus, he did give manuscripts to other people and institutions. Inspired by Cambridge University Library’s Shelf Lives exhibition, I thought I’d look at some of the ‘ones that got away’.

Perhaps the most significant Parker manuscripts elsewhere are those in the University Library, one of which is on display in the Shelf Lives exhibition. The University Library suffered greatly during the Reformation period due to neglect, theft and destruction. In 1574 Andrew Perne, the Master of Peterhouse and bibliophile, undertook to restore the University Library and called upon his old friend Matthew Parker, by then Archbishop of Canterbury, for support. As well as writing letters to others soliciting donations, Parker gave 25 manuscripts of his own to the University Library along with 75 printed books.

In many cases these manuscripts contain ‘duplicate’ copies of works found in Parker Library manuscripts, though of course, each manuscript copy of a text is unique. Of the six Anglo-Saxon manuscripts which Parker gave to the UL, MS Ii.2.4 contains a copy of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care translated into Old English, as does CCCC MS 12; MS Ii.2.11 contains a West Saxon translation of the gospels, as does CCCC MS 140; Ælfric’s Grammar and Glossary are found in both CUL MS Hh.1.10 and CCCC MS 449; both CUL Kk.3.18 and CCCC MS 12 contain Bede’s Ecclesiastical History in Old English. The other two Anglo-Saxon manuscripts Parker gave to the UL (Ii.4.6 and Ii.1.33) principally contain collections of homilies, as do CCCC MSS 162, 178, 188, 198, 302, 303, 419, and 421.

An even closer relationship exists between CCCC MSS 66 and 66A and CUL MS Ff.1.27 – not the same text this time but they were originally the same book(s). Parker obtained two volumes  which mostly contained histories and some travel accounts, one originally from the Cistercian abbey of Sawley in Yorkshire and the other from the Benedictine abbey at Bury St Edmunds. He took both of them to pieces and rearranged their contents into two volumes; broadly speaking each contained the first half of one MS and the second half of the other. He then donated one of these composite volumes to CUL and the other to the Parker Library. Our volume has subsequently been rebound in two parts, MS 66 which contains half of the Sawley MS and MS 66A, half of the Bury MS.

If Corpus felt the loss of ‘the ones that got away’, insult seems to have been added to injury. As J. C. T. Oates records, Corpus agreed to repair and maintain ‘with clapses and byndinge necessarie’ the books that Parker gave to the UL, on pain of a fine of 3s. 4d per week. (See Cambridge University Library: A History. From the Beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne (Cambridge, 1986), p. 110.) There’s no record of such repairs even being carried out; I can only imagine how much we now owe the UL in arrears! Perhaps we’ll have to give them another manuscript in payment.

More information

For more about Parker and his books, see the invaluable Matthew Parker and his books by former Parker Librarian R I. Page (Kalamazoo, MI: Western Institute Publications, 1983).

More details concerning the books Parker gave to the UL can be found in M. R. James’ catalogue of the Parker Library and in E. Leedham-Green and D. McKitterick, ‘A Catalogue of Cambridge University Library, 1583’, in Books and Collectors 1200-1700: Essays presented to Andrew Watson, ed. by James P. Carley and Colin G. C. Tite (London, British Library, 1997), pp. 153-235.

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With reference to the Parker Library globes mentioned in my blog about Samuel Savage Lewis – it seems that Lewis did

Carey's Terrestrial Globe, 1815

not give these to the Library. Our Archivist, Dr Leedham-Green, has found a reference in the Library account for 1840 which shows that the college paid for them, presumably expressly for the newly-built Parker Library.  The two globes were made by John and William Cary of London.  Cary’s bill for the two globes was £21 1s 6d, plus carriage of 13s.

Carey's Celestial Globe, 1790

Globe covers were also bought, from Cambridge book binder H.R. Wiseman, and there is  a receipted bill dated 15 August 1840,which was  paid on 15 August 1841,  for Two  very large leather cases for globes in the library, with corded seams, and made in best style: £3 12s.

The Library at Ham House has similar covers on its globes.

These may not have been the first globes in the College, as the Chapter Book of 1632 records approval by the then Bursar, Nicholas Ganning, to spend money on globes, although no corresponding entry can be found in the Audit Book

Many thanks to Elisabeth Leedham-Green for this information.

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A new exhibition has just opened at Cambridge University Library entitled Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books. The exhibition focuses on ten individuals who collected books in different times and places and eventually donated their treasured volumes to the University Library. The exhibition gives a great flavour of the variety of special collections held in the library from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to First World War ephemera, from eighteenth-century Indian playing cards to an unpublished Rupert Brooke poem.

The first collector highlighted, and donor of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, is none other than our own Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504-1575). Although the library that he left with us is extremely well-known, it’s perhaps less known that a considerable number of books owned by Parker have ended up in other institutions.

We’re going to use the CUL exhibition as an opportunity to write a series of posts looking at Parker as collector, his books and ‘the ones that got away’, as well as focusing attention on some of the other collectors who have deposited material in the Parker Library.

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Samuel Savage Lewis, son of William Jonas Lewis, surgeon, was born at Spital Square, Bishopsgate, London. His studies at St John’s College, Cambridge,  were interrupted by poor eyesight and he moved to Canada, farming from 1857-60. In 1864, with his sight improved through several operations, he re-entered St John’s, moving in 1865 to Corpus Christi College. He was exhibitioner in 1866, then Mawson Scholar, and  was made Fellow of Corpus in 1869, ordained deacon at Ely in 1872 and priest in 1873, and obtained FSA in 1872. From 1870 until his death, Lewis was College Librarian and from 1872-79, secretary of the Church Patronage Society.

Lewis travelled widely through Europe and the Middle East and was proficient in many languages. He was an antiquary and a collector, mainly of classical coins, gems and seals. He had a reputation as a kindly eccentric and was generally known as ‘Satan Lewis’ on account of his straggly black beard and unconventional dress.

Lewis married Agnes Smith on 12 December 1887, and they lived, along with Agnes’s twin sister, first in Harvey Road, then, from March 1890, at ‘Castlebrae’, Chesterton Lane. Lewis died suddenly, apparently of heart failure, on a train near Oxford, in 1891. He and his wife are buried in Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge.

Portrait of Samuel Savage Lewis, by C.H. Brock, given to the College by Lewis's widow

Samuel Savage Lewis presented many printed books to the Library at Corpus during his lifetime, and his collection of personal books after his death. His collection of classical items formed a museum in his college rooms, and is now on permanent loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, where the items are regularly on public exhibition. Two globes which Lewis presented to the College while Librarian now stand just  inside the door of the Wilkins Room.

The Parker Library, Wilkins Room

Below are example of Lewis  inscriptions in some of the books he donated.  Lewis acquired his books from a range of sources, including Joseph Rix of St Neots, Macmillan & Bowes, the Cambridge bookseller, and a donation from an uncle, Peter Bunnell,  Christmas, 1873. All inscriptions shown are in Lewis’s hand.

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