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Ancient manuscripts - Introduction to the catalogue 2

Sir Roger Mynors: Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Balliol College Oxford, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

c. Oxford University Press 1963. Reproduced with permission.


2. William Gray and his Books cont.

We see the same connexions with Balliol and with Rome in Gray's choice of domestic chaplains. The William Stanley who witnesses an act of the bishop's at Downham on 26 March 1455, and on 7 August in the same year is presented to the rectory of Elm (where he has great trouble with the dilapidations), is surely the man of that name who was warden of the English hospice in Rome on 26 January 1449 and chaplain there on 1 February 1451. [1] Robert Norman, who is collated on 2 September 1455 to the rectory of Conington, which he exchanges for Doddington in 1458, is the fellow of Balliol who had been junior proctor in 1454. [2] He was a practical man, had been an auditor of the accounts for the new Divinity School at Oxford, and on 9 October 1458 was appointed master of the hospital of St John baptist and St Mary Magdalene in Ely, then in very great inopia, ruina, and miseria, in order to reform it. He had also been a student of medicine, and left to Balliol a very handsome Aristotle, now in Cambridge University Library. With him came a Balliol contemporary and colleague, Richard Redman, who took his MA degree in 1455, and on 1 March 1456 was presented as domestic chaplain, to the rectory of Kelshall in teh diocese of Lincoln. He seems to have exchanged this on 17 March 1459 for Stretham (where the road from Cambridge to Ely mounts on to the Isle, and the cathedral tower first comes into view), and at Stretham he remained until 29 October 1488, when he resigned on account of great age and infirmities, and was assigned by Gray's successor a pension of £12 a year out of the rectory. [3] He seems to have retired, as aged clergy will, to a university town, for the pension is payable quarterly at the high altar of St Sepulchre's church in Cambridge. His successor at Kelshall in 1459 was another Balliol man, John Free, who wrote MS 124, and was at that time studying in Padua. In fact Gray's care for his old college is maintained to the very end of his life. In mArch 1465, Richard Luke, a former fellow, is presented to the rectory of Rettenden near Chelmsford; he exchanges this in 1473 for the vicarage of Stepney with Dr John Lee, a graduate of Padua; and in 1477, on the next vanacy, Gray presents another Balliol fellow, William Appleby, who gave the College a volume of Homilies which is now in Antwerp. In the same year, John Gray's rectory of Tydd St Giles goes to another fellow, William Burgh. Of a somewhat older Balliol man, Richard Bole, there will be more to say hereafter.

In later life the bishop seems not unnaturally to have sought his chaplains nearer home, in Cambridge, and particularly in Peterhouse, with which ancient foundation the bishops of Ely were specially connected. [4] But there is one Oxford character, not this time a Balliol man, of whom something more must be said, because he too was a book-collector. John Warkworth had been in 1446 a fellow of Merton College, and was later a man of some standing in the University, principal in succession of two academic halls, and several times auditor of sundry University accounts. [5] How Gray came to know Warkworth does not appear; on 19 December 1457 we find him with the bishop of Downham, and on 24 September 1458, when collated to the rectory of Cottenham in succession to Robert Thwaites the late Master of Balliol, he is described as domestic chaplain. Henceforward he is for some fifteen years a member of the bishop's household, and he incorporates as a member of Cambridge University, receiving leave in the academic year 1462/3 to incept in divinity sub forma habita Oxonie. He is still chaplain in September 1472 when presented to the vicarage of St Peter's Wisbech. When in November 1473 Peterhouse is in need of a master, and according to their statutes the fellows submit two names to the bishop of Ely to make his choice, he is one of them, the other being John Roucliff, the bishop's chancellor. [6] Gray chose Warkworth, and for twenty-seven years he presided over his new Cambridge college, to which at various dates he presented an astrolabe, and a librar of threescore volumes, of which three-quarters are still at Peterhouse. On his death in 1500 he left (besides a Bible to Merton College, now Merton MS 7) beuquests to provide masses for his own soul and those of his parents, and of the patron who had died twenty-two years before.

It seems possible - in the nature of things this can be no more than a guess - that after Gray's establishment at Ely Warkworth may have acted as his agent in buying books on the Cambridge market. Among the Peterhouse manuscripts are seven of Warkworth's purchases of 1462, four of 1463, and one 1464. One of his acquisitions of 1462 (no.23) was written by a Cambridge scribe (he invokes St Ethelreda), and two (nos. 252, 263) contain the name of John Clynt, a former fellow of Gonville Hall, who died in that year. [7] Five volumes of Aquinas can be identified as Cambridge acquisitions of some year uncertain, thanks to the notes of their pledging by former owners in Cambridge University loan-chests: three volumes of the Summa Theologica (nos. 148, 124, 77) and two others (49 and 151), of which two (77 and 151) had been pledged, and perhaps owned, by Clynt. Two books from Ramsey abbey in Huntingdonshire (nos. 10 and 132) may well have been bought in Cambridge, and perhaps one from Bury (no.163). Is hould also be disposed to claim as a Cambridge book Peterhouse 160, Simon Boraston's Distinctiones, because it was written by one John Ely at the charges of dominus William Tiryngton (both East Anglian names); and this volume bears the earlier ownership-mark Iste est liber R.P., which recurs in nos. 135 and 238, as well as in no. 107, given to Peterhouse by an unknown donor. Now among Gray's books, Balliol MS 133, the first volume of Bonaventure on the Sentences, had been pledged before his time by several Cambridge men, including Clynt, and MS 134, the second volume, not stated to have been Gray's, by a man with the good Norfolk name of Attlebridge. The second volume of his Peter of Tarentaise, MS 61, had been pledged in Cambridge in 1437. Two others, formerly monastic books, MS 147 Jerome and MS 148 Bernard, carry the tantalizing inscription Liber R.P. Four others come (though this of course is not decisive) from eastern religious houses: MS 49, Aquinas from Ely; 152, Bernard from St Osyth's; 175, Bede from Bury; 182, Haymo from Colchester. [8] I am tempted to claim all these as bought ofor Gray in Cambridge, and possibly (but no more) by Warkworth. One of Warkworth's Clynt books, Peterhouse 77, bears in a small hand on the flyleaf My lord of Hely.

Not that Gray had ceased during this period of his life to acquire books in Oxford. During the years 1460-5 a well-known German scribe John Reynbold, formerly of Erfurt, who had already created a great set of the works of Duns Scotus for Richard Scarborough, fellow of Merton, was employed in repeating the performance to Gray's order (MSS 202-4, 205-6, 209, 291), and at some date not given he also wrote the forst volume of a Tabula septem custodiarum, apparently to go with a New Testament volume which had been obtained from some other source (MSS 216, 217). The capitals in that first volume are very close to those in another big set by Reynbold's colleague Henry Mere, which was probably written at this time in oxford, possibly in part after an exemplar derived from Lincoln cathedral: the Magisterium divinale of William of Auvergne, of which two out of three volumes are MSS 207 and 174. We do not know when and where Gray acquired his only known printed book, a vellum copy of the Josephus printed at Lübeck before 1475, which was once classed as MS 12, and is the only book from his library to retain great part of its original binding.

These scattered facts about the bishop's familia and his library are a poor consolation for our ignorance about the man himself. In the troubled affairs of the kingdom as a whoe he plays little part, and when his name does appear in the chronicles he seems to be steering a middle course. In March 1455 he is one of the arbitrators between the dukes of York and Somerset. [9] In 1460 he is one of those who take part in the reception of Henry VI at Christ Church, Canterbury [10]. On 2 July that same year he and his kinsman George Neville, then bishop of Exeter, went with an armed force to meet the earls of March, Warwick, and Salisbury in Southwark, and escorted them across the bridge into London, being present in St Paul's next day with Archbishop Bourchier when they took an oath no harm was intended to the King - whom they defeated and captured a week later. [11]. Next year, with George Neville and Walter Lyhart, bishop of Norwich, he was one of the proctors for Thomas Bekyngton, bishop of Bath and Wells, for the Parliament to be held at Westminster on 4 November [12]. At Whitsuntide 1467 he entertains Lord Scales at Ely Place, Holborn, for his great tournament against the Bastard of Burgundy [13], and later in that summer is appointed by Edward IV a special commissioner to treat of peace with Alfonso, bishop of Ciudad, the ambassador of Henry, king of Castile and Leon, with whom a treaty was concluded at Westminster on 6 July [14]. He seems to have been a frequent attendant at meetings of the Privy Council, but only once did he hold high office, and the appointment seems to show him holding a halfway position between Edward IV and the Nevilles, to both of whom he was related. After his victory over the king in July 1469, Neville made one of his supporters, Sir John Langstrother, treasurer. When he had to compromise with Edward in October, Langstrother was dismissed, and it was Gray who was appointed. Then, when hostility broke out openly again between the parties, Tiptoft, the King's right-hand man and chief agent against the Nevillers, replaced Gray in July 1740. [15] But he continued in favour, and in 1471 and the two following years is the King's first commissioner to treat of peace with the representatives of James III of Scotland. [16]


[1] VJ Flynn, loc.cit. 125. He resigns Elm on 15 Oct. 1460, and it is later given to another domestic chaplain, Thomas Markham, who had previously been a fellow of Peterhouse. One would like to know whether a man like Stanley brought back to rural East Anglia a good humanist handwriting.

[2] References for the careers of these Oxford men will be found in Emden.

[3] J Bentham, History of Ely 184 n., quoting Ely Reg. Alcock; Emden iii. 1561.

[4] Henry Strother, who appears in the register from 1460 to 1473, was of University College, Oxford (Emden iii.1808). But William Townsend, presented to Shipdham on 2 July 1469, had been a scholar of King's Hall. John Savage, presented to Kelshall on 24 December 1469, is too young to be the fellow of Peterhouse admitted to 28 June 1437, who owned Peterhouse MSS 104 and 203. The latest domestic chaplain to be mentioned in the register is Thomas Stevenson, presented to the vicarage of All Saints, Fulbourne, on 25 July 1478, ten days before Gray's death.

[5] On Warkworth see Walker 72; Emden iii.1992. he has qualified for admission to the Dictionary of National Biography as the supposed author of a short chronicle in English found in one of his books. These are described in MR James, Descriptive Catalogue of MSS in the Library of Peterhouse (Cambridge, 1899).

[6] Another Yorkshireman, and perhaps a connexion of the Thwaites family; see Test. Ebor ii (Surtees Society xxx, 1855) 277.

[7] Two of them, MSS 252 and 263, had previously belonged to William Alnwick, bishop successively of Norwich and Lincoln, who died in 1449.

[8] MS 214, Henricus de Gandavo, which had belonged to the Cambridge custody of the Franciscan Order, should perhaps be added.

[9] Calendar of Close Rolls 1454-61 (1947) 49

[10] WG Searle, Chronicle of John Stone (Cambridge Antiquarian Society, octavo series, xxxiv, 1902).

[11] J Stevenson, Wars of the English in france (Rolls Series 22) ii (1864) 772.

[12] Bekyngton's Register (Somerset Record Society xlix, 1934) i. 366

[13] Wars of the English 786.

[14] T Rymer Foedera xi. 583.

[15] Cal. Patent Rolls 1467-77 (1900) 176, 211, 337.

[16] Foedera xi. 717, 733, 776.

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