DCL MS. A.I.6Nicholas of Gorran, Postillae on Genesis-Deuteronomy
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Nicholas of Gorran, Postillae on Genesis-Deuteronomy, written in England in the early 15th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m1544bp14f.html

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: ii+273+i f
Size: 450 mm x 285 mm


Modern pencil foliation (a slightly earlier pencil foliation that started with 1 on the medieval flyleaf survives as a deleted number, one behind the current foliation, on every tenth leaf from 10 on f.9 to 100 on f.99).

Secundo folio: -tem hortatur omnes

Singleton (flyleaf), I-XIX8, XX7 (= 8 with leaf 4 [after f.155] excised), XXI-XXV8, XXVI6 (= 8 with leaves 5-6 [after f.203] cancelled/excised), XXVII-XXX8, XXXI7 (= 8 with leaf 2 [after f.238] cancelled or excised); XXXII-XXXIV8, XXXV5 (= 8 lacks leaves 6-8 after f.273).

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords on each quire.
Signatures: Two sets of leaf numbering in the first half of quires

Condition of manuscriptLocalised damp damage to f.ii, 1, and 4-7; damp damage to 273 continuing back (with steadily reducing severity) on all outer margins to 240. Crude trimming of the lower margin has left the leaves in the second half of the book with a serrated edge.

Written area: 343 x 192 mm. Up to 75 lines ruled; typically 62-66 written, in two columns (width, 78 mm).


Written in Secretary, fluid, varying in size; probably a single hand throughout. Upgrades to Textualis quadrata for the biblical incipit.


The start of (a), f.1r, is distinguished by an all-round border composed of trellis foliage growing around pairs of golden bars, all set against a red ground with serrated edges. A 7-line-high golden initial ‘h’, set against a dusky purple panel adorned with stylised leaf forms, overlaps the main frame at the top left. Curling foliate forms in red, blue and purple adorn the intercolumnar space, at the top and bottom of which appear an heraldic shield. The arms (paly of six argent [here white] and vert, bordure or – to which, on the upper example, is added a mullet of the field) are those of Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham 1406-37. (b), (d) and (e) are headed by a red and blue initial, 12+ lines high, flourished in red and blue-purple, with red and blue flourished extensions forming an all-round border. (c) is acephalus. f.136v, diagram of the breastplate of the priestly vestments (Exodus 28.16-20), drawn by the scribe.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century). Rust stains towards the fore-edge of f.ii from the fixtures for a pair of clasps on an earlier binding; rust stains at the lower edge of f.ii from the fixtures for a chain staple on an earlier binding.

Manuscript history

Written in England, early 15th century.


Owned by Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham 1406-37. If the “return from Calais” noted on f.80v relates to him, it could refer to any of his known Channel crossings (1409, 1414, 1415 and 1416). No copy of Gorran on the Pentateuch features on Langley’s will (Catalogi veteres, p. 119-21) - unless it was mistakenly referred to as Gorran on the Psalter (given to a William Damyon) or as Nicholas of Lyra on the five books of Moses (bequeathed to John Laverock) - nor among the books that the Durham monks recorded as his gifts to them during his lifetime: thus it was presumably given to another recipient prior to 21 December 1436 (the date of the will). Secured for Durham Cathedral Priory 1446x56: “S. Quidam postillator Super quinque libros Moysy Secundum diuersos Sensus Sacre Scripture, ex procuracione Magistri Willelmi Ebchestre Sacre pagine professoris et Prioris Dunelm'”, f.iiv, top (William Ebchester, monk of Durham c.1403-1462x63, prior 1446-56).

Added neatly in Secretary on f.229v below the quire signature is: “Domino Thome Dale”.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r-83v
Original title: In Genesim
Author: Nicolas, de Gorran, 1232-approximately 1295
Incipit: Hic est liber mandatorum dei et lex que est in eternum
Explicit: ut ibi uellent sepeliri et non alibi
Language: Latin

Attributed to Gorran.

Cited: Stegmüller, 5741
(b)     f.84r-155r
Original title: In Exodum
Author: Nicolas, de Gorran, 1232-approximately 1295
Incipit: In hiis verbis tanguntur tria, prima dei notificatio secundo liberacio ibi salutare suum
Explicit: ut tenebre noctis illuminaret videntibus populis israel per cunctas mansiones suas etc.
Language: Latin
Cited: Stegmüller, 5743
(c)     f.156r-203v
Original title: In Leviticum
Author: Nicolas, de Gorran, 1232-approximately 1295
Incipit: super rationem que est caput sensualitatis
Explicit: propter numeri diuersitatem eorum in specie et ideo etc.
Language: Latin
Cited: Stegmüller, 5744
(d)     f.204r-238v
Author: Nicolas, de Gorran, 1232-approximately 1295
Original title: In Numeros
Incipit: hesdras sacerdos qui reparavit bibliam a babiloniis destructam
Explicit: tociens non intellexerunt aut intelligere neglexerunt etc.
Rubric: Loqutus que est dominus ad moysen in deserto synai etc.
Language: Latin
Cited: Stegmüller, 5745
(e)     f.239r-273v
Original title: In Deuteronomium
Author: Nicolas, de Gorran, 1232-approximately 1295
Incipit: Iste liber dividitur in tres partes. In prima ponitur titulus in secunda tractatus ibi cepitque moyses. In tertia ponitur actoris obitus
Explicit: quam per defectum fecit
Rubric: Hec sunt verba que loqutus est moyses
Language: Latin

Breaks off incomplete within the commentary on 34.7, owing to loss of leaves after 273

Cited: Stegmüller, 5746

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS A.I.6 - Nicholas of Gorran, Postillae on Genesis-Deuteronomy
Digitised May 2018 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Stegmüller, F., Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1950-1961)

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