Durham University Library MS. Cosin V.iii.9Thomas Hoccleve, Poems
Held by: Durham University Library: Cosin Manuscripts

Manuscript codex containing a selection of works by Thomas Hoccleve next hit, written in his own hand between 1421 and 1426 intended as a presentation copy for Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. The layout, three spaced stanzas per page, divided by a line starting with a 2 shape, is like that of two other autograph manuscripts, Huntington Library, HM 111 and 744, which are close in dimensions yet not identical in page ruling. Two quires (f.1-12) were presumably missing at the beginning by about 1600, when John Stow supplied the lost matter, from an unidentified manuscript copy. A large number of people have written on this book, leaving names, notes or scribbles. It was owned by John Stow, then William Browne, before coming into the hands of George Davenport, by whom it was presented to Bishop Cosin's Library around 1670.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m2j62s5417.html

Physical description of manuscript

Paper (16th/17th century), f.3-12, (folio by chainlines and watermarks, with watermark of a glove with “RB” in the cuff, closest to Briquet “Main” no. 11365 (used in Holland in 1557, of a type used up to 1600), very cropped, c. 225 x 165 mm.
Parchment, quires with flesh-side outermost.

Extent: iii+10+83+i f
Size: 232 mm x 170 mm


foliated, (late 18th century?), 1-94, repeating 22; corrected, 19th century, and now 1-95.

Secundo folio: It was (not present but based on replacement text by Stow).

110 (paper), 2-118, 124 wants 4 (blank ?)

Catchwords: Catchwords on quires 2-11.
Signatures: Leaves in the first half of quires 6, 7, 9 and 11 numbered in the upper or lower right corners in faint ink. Quires 2-12 signed, 19th century, probably by F. J. Furnivall, c-n.

Condition of manuscriptEdges and corners cut off some leaves (strip more than 2 mm wide cut f.13 top, and strips nearly 5 mm from f.23-25 and 90 foot; lower outer corner cut off f.19, 34, 38-39, 45-52, 62, 68; slit in f.39 lower margin); badly soiled.

Quire 1: leaves severely cropped. Written space c. 175 x 110 mm; framed in soft brownish grey, five 7 line stanzas per page.

Quires 2-12: pricking in outer margin only, almost all cropped away at the start. Written space c. 150 x 100 mm; ruled in soft brown, 23-24 long lines, the first on or above the top ruled one. Pricks (7) have also been noticed in the inner halves of the top margins of f.15-20, as if those sheets had been originally designed for short and wide warrants, orientated at 90° from the present pages, of the form customary in the Privy Seal office.


Quire 1: written in the distinctive small current hand of John Stow, with catchwords on almost every page.

Quires 2-12: written in fluentsecretary , expertly, by Thomas previous hitHoccleve next hit, sidenotes smaller, and headings in larger set script. Original Latin sidenotes in previous hitHoccleve's next hit smallest script to items (1), (2a), (3b). A few corrections, by previous hitHoccleve next hit, by cancellation (f.24r,33v, 62r, 63v), erasure, interlineation (e.g. f.31v, 80r, 93v), or on an erasure (e.g. f.50v, 92r).


Quire 1: not executed - 3 line spaces for initials to item (1a) and (1b).

Paraphs to mark changes of speaker and other emphases in text, and for Latin citations in margins, in gold or blue. Initials: to items (1c)-(1e), (2a)-(2c), (3a)-(3c) and (4), 2 or 3 line, in gold, on grounds of deep pink and, except to item (4), blue, decorated with white, and with marginal sprays in black touched with green and with gold balls and trefoils.

Corrections and annotation

Stow adds side notes on f.20v and 24v. Many 16th century marginal annotations.


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)

Manuscript history

Written in England, London, between 1421 and 1426.


Apparently written for presentation to Joan Beaufort, countess of Westmorland (1396-1440), see item (4). Inscription: “Offord”, f.49r outer margin, in brown, probably in previous hitHoccleve's next hit hand, and so referring to his colleague in the Privy Seal office (see Brown 1971, p. 262 n.2, dates his service c.1408-c.1422). The note could be to the “wrecche” of the stanza alongside, or may be an instruction of some sort, e.g. for the champ initial on the same page.
“Ann (??) Rechard”, f.29r upper margin, earlier 15th century, scrawled in plummet, possibly an instruction, not now readily visible. “Thomas carter”, f.14r; “Of all thinges that I can fynde Hope dothe helpe the carefull mynd quod carter”, f.36v; other couplets so signed on f.54v, 55v, 56r; cf. “Thys ys John hancok ys boke ho so euer saye naye the deuyll of hell bere Thomas carter a waye”, f.37v; “Thomas you be a good scriuener”, f.41r, in the same hand, after an epistolary phrase. The date 1550 expressed in words, f.67r. Latin dicta, at various points, in an accomplished italic hand, resembling that of “W [notarial knot] Barnabe”, f.66v, end 15th century; also identification of sources, added to marginalia, f.64v-65r.
Among less fragmentary mid-late 16th century inscriptions and scribbles: “Johan Medwell, m[aster ?] my Lord Chamberlain per Prise”, f.14r; “Per me peter hardy of halyfax [Yorks. ?] ows this boke” [and more smeared], f.16r; “Tomas Gardynnyr (?)”, f.18r; “Per me gabriell curtys”, “Thomas Kyngston hath Rede this goddly boke”, both f.26v; “Thomas kaye the sonne of thomas kay”, f.28r; “Geffarye thurgood”, f.68r, 84r; “To Thomas Wylton of Kyrke Lande ...”, f.68v; “William Wylton of Kyrke lande in the counte aforseide” f.79r, mentioning Bishop Bonner (c. 1540-69); “Richard lyon”, f.69r; “John Jaclin & Elizabethe his wellebelouede wiffe”, f.74r; “robert ascue/askewe”, f.75v, 82r; “John Bargains Ann 1551”, f.84r; “Radufus wilcockes”, f.94v; “Thomas onslow”, “Edmound huncok”?), both f.95v.
John Stow (1525?-1605) presumably owned the manuscript: he supplied the text of f.3-12, and there are marginal notes in his hand, f.20v, 24v. “WBrowne”, f.3r, 14r, inscriptions by the poet (1591-1643?), who published the "Tale of Jonathas", presumably from this copy, in his Shepheardes Pipe (1614). A note possibly in his hand on f.21r. He acquired other manuscripts which had been Stow's, and owned Cosin MSS V.ii.13, 14, 15, and perhaps 16. “.s./.a.”, f.3r, in mid 17th century ink, a bookseller's cipher, as found in other manuscripts of Browne's in the Cosin and other libraries. “Geo. Davenport. 1664.”, on a piece of paper, from a previous end leaf, stuck on the present 19th century pastedown; his notes on the contents and the author, f.1r, 2r, from John Pits, De Scriptoribus Angliae (1617); also “Perlegi. 1666.”, f.95r.

Manuscript contents
(1)     f.3r-52v

This group of works is the opening part of what is called "The series" by modern scholars, written in seven line stanzas, rhyming ababbcc (apart from (1e) which is prose).

(1a)     f.3r-8v
Modern title: Hoccleve's Compleinte
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Date: approximately 1600
Incipit: After that hervest Inned had his sheves
Explicit: And vnto thy mercye and grace I call
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Written by John Stow to supply missing pages from original manuscript

Cited: NIMEV, 124 (ms 4)
Edited: Complaint, 2-32
(1b)     f.9r-26v
Modern title: Dialogus cum Amico
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Date: f.9-12 written approximately 1600
Incipit: And endyd my complaynt in this manere
Explicit: My gilt as cleene as keuerchiefs doath sope
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Written, in part (up to f.12v) by John Stow to supply missing pages from original manuscript, which starts at f.13).

Cited: NIMEV, 299 (ms 4)
Edited: Complaint, 32-72
(1c)     f.26v-49r
Modern title: Jereslaus' wife
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Fabula de quadam Imperatrice Romana In the Romain actes writen is thus
Explicit: And whan god list also dye shul we Explicit fabula
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Derived from the Gesta Romanorum.

Cited: NIMEV, 1561 (ms 7)
Edited: Works 1970, 140-73
(1d)     f.49r-49v
Modern title: Prologue to (1e)
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: My freend aftir I trowe a wike or two
Explicit: which to þat tale is good be knyt in feith
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)
Edited: Works 1970, 174
(1e)     f.50r-52v
Modern title: Moralisation on (1c)
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: ¶Hic incipit moralizacio. This Emperour þat y spake of aboue: is our lord Jesu Cryst
Explicit: to which he vs brynge þat starf for our redempcion amen. Explicit moralizacio.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)
Edited: Works 1970, 174-8
(2)     f.53v-77r
(2a)     f.53v-74v
Modern title: Learn to die
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Et incipit ars vtilissima sciendi mori. Cum omnes homines naturaliter scire desiderant etc. Syn alle men naturelly desyre
Explicit: þat it may han the lyf þat haath noon eende Amen. ¶Explicit illa pars per quam sciendum est mori; The othir .iij. partes which in this book ... ... Verraily no wit may ne tonge expresse
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Translated extract from the Horologium Sapientie by Heinrich Suso. Seven line stanzas, rhyming as item (1).

Cited: NIMEV, 3121 (ms 7)
Edited: Works 1970, 178-212
(2b)     f.75r-76v
Modern title: Prologue to (2c)
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Lo this is seid of þat Citee in a place
Explicit: boghte vs with his precious blood Amen Amen.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)
Edited: Works 1970, 212
Edited: Compleinte, 222-3
(2c)     f.76v-77r
Modern title: Lesson on All Saints Day
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Now vndirstandith wel and considerith in our hertes
Explicit: of his infynyt goodnesse graunte vs alle to cheese. Amen.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)


Edited: Works 1970, 213-5
Edited: Compleinte, 223-5
(3)     f.77r-95r

(3a)     f.77r-79r
Modern title: Prologue to (3b)
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: ¶Hic additur alia fabula ad instanciam amici mei predilecti assiduam. This booke thus to han endid had y thoght
Explicit: And thus y wroot as yee may heere see. ¶Explicit prologus & incipit fabula de quadam muliere mala
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)
Cited: NIMEV, 3582
Edited: Works 1970, 215-40
Edited: Compleinte, 232-53
(3b)     f.79v-93r
Modern title: Tale of Jonathas
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Whilom an Emperour prudent & wys
Explicit: And so god vs graunte þat we do may Amen.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Derived from the Gesta Romanorum.

Cited: NIMEV, 4072 (ms 7)
Edited: Works 1970, 215-40
Edited: Compleinte, 232-53
(3c)     f.93v-95r
Modern title: Moralisation on (3b)
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Themperour þat y spake of aboue is oure lord god
Explicit: of his grace brynge vs alle Amen.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Prose moralisation of (3b)

Edited: Works 1970, 240-2
Edited: Compleinte, 253-60
(4)     f.95r
Modern title: Envoy to Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland
Author: previous hitHoccleve next hit, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Go smal book to the noble excellence
Explicit: To plese hir wommanhede do thy might. Humble seruant to your gracious noblesse T.Hoccleue.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

A single stanza, rhyming ababbcbc. The only known copy, it presumably refers to the whole of this manuscript: the subscription is in the same hand; the letters of previous hitHoccleve's next hit name were touched up in blacker ink, 16th or 17th century, but are original rather than added.

Cited: NIMEV, 932.77
Edited: Works 1970, 242
Edited: Compleinte, 255

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 University Library MS. Cosin V.iii.9
Digitised in May 2022. Due to the binding, there may be some images throughout the volume with marginalia and text not visible in the image because they are too far into the gutter. Folios with a watermark have an additional image using a light sheet. Folios with gold leaf illuminations have an additional image lit from above.


C.-M. Briquet, Les filigranes: dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600   OCLC citation (Amsterdam: Paper Publications Society, 1968)

Brown, A. L., "The Privy Seal clerks in the early 15th century" in Bullough, D. A. & Storey, R. A., The study of medieval records: essays in honour of K. Major   OCLC citation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 261-81

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]).

Edwards, A. S. G., "Medieval manuscripts owned by William Brown of Tavistock (1590/1?-1643/5)", in Carley, James P. & Tite, Colin G. C., ed., Books and Collectors 1200-1700: Essays presented to Andrew Watson (London: British Library, 1997), 441-449

Thomas previous hitHoccleve next hit: a facsimile of the autograph verse manuscripts Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino (California), MSS HM III and HM 744; University Library, Durham (England), MS Cosin V. III. 9   OCLC citation, ed. Burrow, J. A. & Doyle, A. I., Early English Text Society ss 19 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Thomas previous hitHoccleve next hit. Works: the minor poems, in the Huntington Library MS. HM 111 (formerly Phillips MS. 8151) the Durham Univ. MS. Cosin V. III. 9, and Hungtington Library MS. HM 744 (formerly Ashburnham MS. Additional 133)   OCLC citation ed Furnivall, F. J. and Gollancz, I. Revised by Mitchell, J. and Doyle, A. I., Early English Text Society es 61 & 73 (London: OUP, 1970)

Thomas previous hitHoccleve's next hit Complaint and Dialogue   OCLC citation, ed. Burrow, J. A., Early English Text Society os 313 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Thomas previous hitHoccleve. "My compleinte" and other poems   OCLC citation, ed. Ellis, R. (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001)

A new index of middle English verse   OCLC citation, ed. J. Boffey & A. S. G. Edwards (London: British Library, 2005)

Index terms