Cosin MS V.ii.6Simeon of Durham, History of the church at Durham
Held by: Durham University Library: Cosin Manuscripts

Manuscript codex written at Durham Priory originally containing Simeon of Durham's Historia Dunelmensis Ecclesiae, composed between 1104 and 1107, as the principal text, with items (4)-(5) as preliminaries, the first portion of the latter being written before 1115, the date by which Algar had succeeded Turgot as prior of Durham. Item (2) was added in the earlier 12th century; item (8), later 12th century. Items (3) and (7), together with a supply leaf in item (8) and headings to items (2) and (4) preface, are the work of 16th century antiquaries. Items (1) and (9), and headings to items (7) and (8), are 18th century additions.


Physical description of manuscript

[1] + 8 (paper, 18th century) + 87 + 10 (16th century) + 11 + 1 (16th century) + 4 + [1]; Membrane (0.2 mm.; quire 1 less matt; quire 12 and f.109 (insertions) inferior (sheep?); quires 13-14 stiffer; hair and flesh sides not very easily distinguished; some flaws, e.g. a large hole in f.26, and two in f.88. in text. f.1 and 113v very soiled. The upper outer corners of f.1-10 trimmed obliquely and remainder of volume rounded; all lower outer corners soiled by use, and up to approximately f.60 marked by damp.

Extent: viii, 113 f.
Size: 295 mm x 187 mm


Foliated i-viii, 1-113, replacing 18th century paginations (f.iiv-vii = pp. 2-11; f.1v-113v = p.1-225).

Collation The original structure was probably either a regular quire of 8 now wanting 3 and 7 after f.6 and 9; or two regular quires of 4, (a) f.5, 7-8 and 10, (b) f.6 and 9, wanting 1 and 3 before f.6 and 9); 3-410, 5-68, 7-810, 9-108, 118 + 1210 (f.88-97) inserted mid 16th century after 5; 138, 146 wants 1 (f.109, supplied later 16th century) and 6 (blank ?).
Signatures: Quire 8 numbered VI (cropped), by main scribe (?), at foot of its last verso, f.66v, between the pair of outer vertical rules.

Prickings in outer margins of all 12th century quires, and quires 13-14 in inner margins. Written space 195 x 105 mm., apart from: quire 1, 190 x 105 mm; quires 13-14, 245 x 155 mm. Ruled with drypoint, apart from quires 1 and 13-14, sharp grey or soft brown. 26 lines per page, apart from quire 1, 25 written lines, the first on the top ruled line; quire 12 (added 16th century) 40 lines, written space 240 x 140 mm; framed only, in brown.


Written in late Caroline minuscule, expertly, items 4-6 by one hand, except for the alterations over the erasures (see above and below) by a second, both early 12th century, and much later insertions, 16th - 18th century; item 2 by one hand thought continental (German?) by Gullick, second quarter 12th century; item 8 by two hands, third quarter 12th century, changing at f.102r, line 15. items (4)-(6) largely in a hand very similar to the larger hand in Glasgow University Library MS Hunterian 85 (Bede, De temporibus; from Durham Cathedral Priory), but not identical and to that of Oxford, University College MS 165 (Bede's Prose Life of St Cuthbert).


Decoration in three styles, matching changes of script: Drypoint sketches of heads and birds, f.41r.

Major initials by an artist regarded by J. J. G. Alexander as the same as that of Oxford, University College MS 165 (especially f.77v), and by Elzbieta Temple as also in Durham Cathedral Library MSS B.IV.14 (f.170r), Hunter 100, and Oxford Bodleian Library MS Digby 20 (f.194r).

Corrections and annotation

Most of item (4) preface, i.e. f.6r, lines 2-15, perhaps written over erasure, probably by the early corrector found f.63v, 65v, 81r, 84v (Rollason edition, p.liv-vi): identified as in the hand of the author by Gullick 1998. Single words corrected, f. 65v/11 (an<...> ferrent), f.22v later 12th century (Hunc) overwritten in blacker ink.

Consecutive roman chapter numeration, divergent from that in other copies, added early 15th century, f.11-62 margins, also, by another medieval hand, at the top right hand corner of f.83r, 87r, 102r, 107-108 (c.73); the latter extended in 16th century as if a foliation with lxxiiij-lxxviij on f.109-113.

Numerous medieval marginal notes signal the content of passages, etc., in at least nine hands: Of these IX is the most prolific, also responsible for additions to item (4b) and identifiable from inscriptions in printed books c.1515-36 as that of William Wylom monk of Durham approximately 1513-39 (see Piper, "The historical interests of the monks of Durham", p.330), who, under his family name of Watson, was a canon 1541-56. The number of years of the reigns of Wolsey and Tunstall in the list of bishops on f.6v are added both in darker ink and without points as are the preceding entries, and not precisely aligned, 7 (for Wolsey) of the more modern form than previously, while 29 (for Tunstall) is obviously altered from 20 (he was first imprisoned in 1550 and deprived of the see in 1552, and for a second time before his death in 1559). His name was not written in the same batch as the preceding ones, though possibly by Wylom, so after Tunstall's appointment in 1530 and before his imprisonment in 1550. It seems probable from the likeness of the writing that both the see entries and Wylom's annotations in the book were made mostly between 1523 and 1529, in Wolsey's reign, and the name of Tunstall added between 1530 and 1550, the lengths of the two reigns later by another hand.
The passage added over the erasure on f.80v lines 3-7 (which from the spelling “Ekington” must be copied from the York MS) and other supplementation (items (3) and (7), supply-leaf in item (8), headings to items (2) and (4) preface) in archaizing scripts, second half of 16th century, two also occurring among those in Oxford Bodleian Library MS Laud misc.700, which contains the signature of William Claxton of Wynyard (d. 1597), who stipulated in his will that his books were to be divided between Thomas Chaytor of Butterby (d. 1618) and John Richardson the younger (d. 1614). The latter's name also occurs in MS Laud misc. 700. In his will he mentions Marmaduke Blakiston, canon of Durham, whose daughter married John Cosin in 1626. Richardson's son Clement (died 1645) did not leave any named books (Doyle 1997).
Explicit on f.88r probably by John Cosin in ink, names in outer margin of f.12r, 15r, 16r, 34v, 38r, 39r, 42r, 45v (over erased text) in his fine large (early, i.e. pre-Civil War) italic hand, and trefoils, arrow-heads etc. (e.g. f.29v-30, 44v-45v) in grey pencil; the volume is duly entered in the classified catalogue of his Library, c. 1668 (Cosin MS B.I.23, f.94r), but not in the list of his books at Peterhouse made about 1644. Similar ink italic marginalia on f.2-3 not obviously Cosin's, but those on f.3v-4 could be. Ex-libris and shelf-mark by Thomas Rud on f.1r.


Recorded as being in a wrapper “in quaterno” in 1421, without f.1-10, which then must have separated but later rejoined, see above. Possibly rebound, early 18th century, when item (1) was added. Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound most of the Cosin Manuscripts in the 19th century).

Manuscript history

Written in Durham, approximately 1104-1109.

Employed for reading aloud, to judge by interlineations giving requisite words for dates in the account of Bede's death, etc., 12th/13th century f.25v, 26v, and later 14th century, f.32v-37.



Manuscript contents
(1)     f.i-viii
Modern title: On the author of this work
Original title: Disquisitio de vero auctore huius historiae
Author: Rud, Thomas, 1667-1732
Date: added 18th century
Language: Latin

Essay by Thomas Rud, arguing for Simeon's authorship of item (6) below against John Selden's attribution to Turgot. Another version in Rud's hand but on quarto paper is in Durham Cathedral Library Hunter MS 44/13, with some differences from the version here and that printed. Here it is prefaced by a dedication by Rud to William Talbot, and has a note at the end by George Allen that this text was printed by James Bettenham in 1732.

(2)     f.1v-4vi
Modern title:
Original title: Breue Summarium seu descriptio status Ecclesie Lindisfernensis et dunelm a tempore Aidani Vsque ad Willelmum Karilephe
Date: [early 12th century]
Incipit: Regnante apud Northanhymbros
Explicit: sed antiquum deo renouante restituit
Language: Latin

Summary of item (6). Found also in Cambridge UL Ff.i.27 (ascribed to Simeon) and Cotton Titus A.ii both after the preface and before it (as here) in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.IV.36, and, both with the same heading as here added end of 16th century, Oxford Bodleian Lib. MSS Fairfax 6 f. 212v, and Laud misc. 700, f.10v-12. An original heading of two lines has been thoroughly erased.

Edited: Printed as "Praefatio Symeonis" by Bedford, p.1-8, following Cambridge U.L. MS Ff.I.27, and R. Twysden, Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores X, (1652), sig.A2v-3; as "Epitome" by Arnold, i,7-11; Appendix A in Rollason, p.258-65, discussed p.lxvi-vii.
(3)     f.5r-5v
Modern title: On Holy Island
Date: added late 16th century
Incipit: Lindisfernensis Insula vocatur a fluuio Lindis
Explicit: hic infra per ordinem describuntur
Language: Latin

Brief compilation on Holy Island and its possessions, and the provinces of Deira and Bernicia, citing Bede and Henry of Huntingdon; the first seven lines derive from Simeon, Libellus Bk II cap. 5, with saints' names inserted, and lines 9-12 from Bede, Vita prosaica S. Cuthberti cap. 17. It is also in Bodleian Laud misc.700 f.13 (end 16th century.) by W. Claxton or a collaborator. Another not identical piece about Lindisfarne is in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS. R.7.5, with Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica (12th century), f.249v.

(4)     f.6r-6v
Modern title: List of bishops of Lindisfarne and Durham
Date: added late 16th century
Language: Latin / English

Preface, with two lines erased, also before “qui in presenti est” the name “Rannulfum”. In Cambridge U.L. MS Ff.I.27 f.1v, the prefaces to this and item (5) are combined and abridged and there are no lists. Also found in London B.L. MS Cotton Titus A.ii, f.5, and York Minster MS XVI.I.12, f.99r-v, Oxford Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 6, f.213 and Laud misc. 700, twice, f.12v and 14r. List of names of the bishops of Holy Island, Chester le Street, Durham, originally ending with Ranulf Flambard (reigning from 1099); additions, in ten phases, carry the list down to William Talbot, and are printed by Bedford, p.296; ed. Rollason, p.4-5. The first three names after Flambard are grouped by script and initials up to Hugo de Puiset (from 1153); the next 14 up to Skirlaw (from 1388) are in one textura, then Thomas Longley (Langley) by another, the next two by a single idiosyncratic distinctive hand probably at the same time (i.e. after 1457). Added figures throughout the list give the length of each pontificate, from Eardulf on in the hand that added the names of the seven bishops from Dudley to Wolsey (from 1523), and some previous surnames, from the ink and duct apparently at one time, with Tunstal (from 1530) possibly by the same hand (annotator IX, William Wylom). Four names end 16th century by one poorer cursive hand, four early 17th century by one good italic, Cosin possibly by his own hand, Crewe by another and Talbot by Thomas Rud.

Edited: Twysden, as Apologia Symeonis, sig.A2r
Edited: Bedford, p.9-10
Edited: Arnold as Praefatio Symeonis, p.4
Edited: Rollason 2000, p.2-3
(5)     f.7r-8v
Modern title: List of Durham monks
Incipit: Hic scripta continentur nomina monachorum
Explicit: Patricius Suanus Theodbaldus Girardus
Language: Latin

Names of the monks of Durham, 1083-c.1160; originally 72 or 73 names, with Turgotus in majuscules, but extended in at least four phases to 224, with Laurentius (prior 1149-54) and Absalon (prior 1154-9) in majuscules, and John (archdeacon 1154-74) interlineally marked with a green cross. The four names before Absalon are erased except for their initials, apparently as out of order of seniority, since the four names after Absalon have the same initials (allowing `G' for `Willelmus'); Rud counted in the erased names when adding a numbering by tens, which runs to 228. A similar list is found in the Durham Liber Vitae B.L. Cotton Domitian A.vii, f.42r-v, with minor differences - starting with eleven names in place of the eight here, perhaps because members of the communities at Jarrow and Wearmouth immediately prior to 1083 were included.

Edited: Bedford, p.11
Edited: Arnold, p.4
Edited: Rollason 2000, p.4-7
Piper "The early lists and obits of the Durham monks"
(6)     f.11r-87v; 98r
Modern title: Historia Dunelmensis Ecclesiae
Author: Simeon, of Durham, -approximately 1130
Incipit: Incipit libellus de exordio atque procursu istius hoc est Dunhelmensis ecclesie. Gloriosi quondam regis
Explicit: congregati fuerant monachi annus agebatur.
Language: Latin

A second contemporary copy of the Libellus (London B.L. MS Cotton Faustina A.V, f 24-97) by a hand of the same school on identical page ruling, with similar primary and secondary initials, and so presumably made in Durham, but with a Fountains Abbey ex libris of 12th/13th century, attests the existence of an exemplar prior to the Cosin copy by its inclusion of a phrase omitted in the Cosin copy (after “terram”) at the turn of f.45r/v, cf. Rollason edition p.xxii-iii and p.liii, n.191. Faustina retains some, but not all, of the matter erased in the Cosin copy. Passages of varying length very thoroughly erased (cf. item (4) preface), and re-used in part, mostly soon after the original writing: f.29r/4 (1 or 2 letters); 29v/4 letters 15-16 of Old English; 35r/2-19 (17+ lines); 39v/25-26 and 40r/1-12 (all but the last two lines re used by the main hand in lighter ink and with wider spacing; Arnold noted only the two lines remaining blank); 45v (5 words, found in Faustina); 60v/6-7 (3 words, found in Faustina); 63v/22 (6 words, for 4 in Faustina); 65v/20-21 (5 words, for 13 in Faustina); 72v/14 17 (found in Faustina); 72v/18 (1 word erased); 79v (3 words, found in Faustina); 80r/13-26 (left blank?) and 80v/1-6+, 3-6+ re used late 16th century for a passage (Rollason edition p.230-1) not found in the Cambridge U.L. MS Ff.I.27 but supplied early 15th century in the margin of MS Cotton Titus A.ii, and apparently copied from MS Fairfax f.239v, mid 14th century); 81r/18-19 (re-used for 2 words, for 6 in Faustina). Bedford took the spaces on f.35r and 80r-v to have been left blank for additions, incorrectly in the former case but not obiously erased on 80r. Words not found in Faustina are interlined on f.56v/26 (filius Westou) and 63v/20-21 (prouincie, plagam) in a contemporary hand. See Rollason 1998 article, for the significance of the alterations and differences between the manuscripts; and his edition p.liii-vii. At the end of Book III, f.77r, 14th century light marginal notes, “def. capitulum” and “Hic deficit capitulum”, refer to De miraculis et translationibus S.Cuthberti cap. vii, (ed. Hinde 1868, p.172-3), which forms part of the text as chap. 84 in MS Fairfax 6 (f.238r/b-v/b), also Laud misc. 700 and York XVI.I.12, along with other chapters from the same source, cf. Offler 1951, p.24 n.39. The top 9+ lines of f.98r, containing the end of the penultimate chapter, were erased and the text recopied by the hand responsible for the insertion of item (7) in the late 16th century.

The Old English (West Saxon) version of Bede's death-song appears to have been written continuously with the Latin text, i.e. by the main hand using the same ink and nib but some insular letters; see Doyle 1998, 157-8.

Edited: Bedford, p.15-248
Edited: Arnold, p.17-135
Edited: Rollason 2000, p.16-257
(7)     f.88r-98r
Original title: De iniusta vexacione Willelmi episcopi primi per Willelmum regem filium Willelmi magni regis
Date: added mid 16th century
Incipit: Anno ab incarnacione Mo 80o interfecto a suis parochianis Walchero
Explicit: est traditum in capitulo monachorum et cetera.
Language: Latin

According to Offler 1951, this was copied from the text incorporated into the copy of item (6) that forms part of the Gesta Episcoporum in late 14th century MS Laud misc. 700 f.66r-74v and there derived direct from the mid 14th century MS Fairfax 6, f.207-212, where the tractate is a separate work. In all copies the title is late 16th century, in one of the antiquarian scripts. There are erasures and rewriting at f.89v/34-37 and 90r/11.

Edited: Bedford, p.343-375
Edited: Arnold, p.170-195
Edited: Offler 1998, p.170-195
(8)     f.98v-113r
Modern title: Historiae Ecclesiae Dunhelmensis
Incipit: Tribus de hinc annis ecclesia uacante pastore
Explicit: episcopus sollempniter susceptus est.
Language: Latin

Titled is supplied by George Allan (d.1800). The Continuatio Prima, that extends to 1144. As noted by Offler 1951, p.22 n.30, there is a change to a larger script with the account of events after Bishop Flambard's death in 1128 (f.102r/15, but the rest of the paragraph is included in the text printed by Twysden from Cambridge U.L. MS Ff.I.27, before it diverges in the Continuatio Altera there; the decorated initials are uniform in style through the whole item in the Cosin copy. The leaf missing after f.108, by the 14th century (see note f.108v), was supplied in the late 16th century hand of item (7), probably from Laud misc.700 (see item (7). There are corrections by erasure and rewriting in the text on f.100r/7, 19-20, and 100v/12 and 101v/2, 9, 22, following small 12th century ink sidenotes.

Edited: Bedford, p.249-292
Edited: Arnold, p.135-160
Edited: Rollason 2000, p.266-311
(9)     f.113v
Modern title: On the election, consecration and enthronement of Hugh of le Puiset as bishop of Durham
Date: added late 18th century
Incipit: Additamentum ex veteri Libro MS. Ecclesiae Dunelmensis. Anno ab Incarnatione Domini MCLIII
Explicit: IX Kal. Junii obiit.
Language: Latin

As in Durham Cathedral MS B.II.35 f.277r, see Arnold p.169; here copied by George Allan (d.1800) from Bedford, p.293.

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

Digitised material for Durham University Library. Cosin Manuscript V.ii.6 - Symeon of Durham, History of the church at Durham
Digitised September 2015 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Arnold, T., ed., Symeonis monachi opera omnia, Rolls Series 75 (London: Longman etc., 1882-85)

Bedford, T., ed., Symeonis monachi Dunhelmensis libellus de exordio atque procursu Dunhelmensis ecclesiae. Cui praemittitur Reverendi viri Thomae Rud erudita disquisitio, in qua probatur non Turgotum, sed Symeonum fuisse verum hujus libelli auctorem. E codice ms. perantiquo in bibliotheca publica episcoporum Dunhelmensium descripsit ediditque Thomas Bedford. Accedunt, praeter alia, ex eodem codice historiae Dunhelmensium episcoporum continuatio: et libellus, De injusta vexatione Willelmi I. episcopi, nunc primum editus (London: typis Jacobi Bettenham, MDCCXXXII)

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]).

Doyle, A. I., "William Claxton and the Durham Chronicles", in Carley, James P. & Tite, Colin G. C., ed., Books and Collectors 1200-1700: Essays presented to Andrew Watson (London: British Library, 1997), 355-86

Doyle, A. I., "Bede's Death Song in Durham Cathedral Library, MS. A.IV.36", in Rollason, D, ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), 157-60

Gullick, M., "The hand of Symeon of Durham: further observations on the Durham Martyrology scribe", in Rollason, D, ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), 14-31; 358-62

Hinde, J. H., ed., Symeonis Dunelmensis Opera et Collectanea, Surtees Society 51, (Durham: Andrews and Co,1868)

Mynors, R., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

Offler, H. S., "The tractate De iniusta vexacione Willelmi episcopi primi", English Historical Review 66 (1951), 321-41

Offler, H. S., Medieval historians of Durham, (Durham: University of Durham, 1958)

De iniusta uexacione Willelmi episcopi primi per Willelmum regem filium Willelmi magni, ed. Offler, H. S., rev. A. J. Piper & A. I. Doyle, Camden 5th series, 10: Miscellany 34, (Cambridge: CUP, 1998), 49-104

Piper, A. J., "The early lists and obits of the Durham monks" in Rollason, D., ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), 161-185

Piper, A. J., "The historical interests of the monks of Durham" in Rollason, D., ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), 301-332

Rollason, D., ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North   OCLC citation (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998)

Rollason, D. "The making of the Libellus de Exordio: the evidence of erasures and additions in the two earliest manuscripts", in in Rollason, D., ed., Symeon of Durham: historian of Durham and the North (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), 140-56

Rollason, D., ed., Libellus de exordio atque procursu istius hoc est Dunhelmensis, ecclesie : tract on the origins and progress of this church of Durham / Symeon of Durham (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000)

Temple, E., Bodleian Library Record, v.9, no.8 (Jan. 1978), 320-22

Twysden, R., Historiae Anglicanae scriptores X, Simeon Monachus Dunelmensis. Johannes Prior Hagustaldensis. Ricardus Prior Hagustaldensis. Ailredus Abbas Rievallensis. Radulphus de Diceto Londoniensis. Johannes Brompton Jornallensis. Gervasius Monachus Dorobornensis. Thomas Stubbs Dominicanus. Guilielmus Thorn Cantuariensis. Henricus Knighton Leicestrensis. Ex vetustis manusciptis, nunc primùm in lucem editi. Adjectis variis lectionibus, glossario, indicéque copioso (London: Typis Jacobi Flesher, sumptibus Cornelii Bee ..., 1652)

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