Cosin MS V.iii.1Lawrence of Durham, Works
Held by: Durham University Library: Bishop Cosin's Library: Cosin Manuscripts

Selection of works by Lawrence of Durham (approximately 1114-1154), monk and prior of Durham Priory, probably compiled shortly after his death at Durham Priory as a memorial. It includes a full page portrait of a scribe at work, assumed to represent Lawrence. This manuscript contains all the works of Lawrence, apart from his early life of St Brigit and some minor works ascribed to him or referred to by other writers of which no copies are extant. On the life and works of Lawrence, see Sharpe (1997), 359-361, Rigg (1992), 54-61, Durham monks, 142-143 and ODNB.


Physical description of manuscript

Membrane (0.2 mm.; better in quality for (A) than (B, C), except f.23+30; some flaws and flaying edges; patches to make holes good in f.56 and 75, the latter before pricking; corners scarfed on to f.82, 98 and 101 to make lower corners good before writing), lower edges cropped.

Extent: 111 f.
Size: 240 mm x 155 mm


[1] + 1 (medieval flyleaf) + 1 (17th century?) + 107 + [1]; foliated i-ii, 1-107.


There are three sections, the last (C) perhaps written slightly later than (B and A). It seems that (A) was an addition to precede the original core, (B); when put in its present position, the single-leaf frontispiece prefixed to (B), f.22, was made to form the final leaf at the end of (A), before the coloured initials of the final piece in A, item (2b), were executed. The rubric of this item states that it refers to the preceding work, but in fact it refers to the main item in (B). Among the major initials in (B) three are quite different in style from the others in (A) and (B).

(A: f.1-22) 1-28, 36 (1 and 6, f.17 and 22, singletons with their stubs turned respectively to each other, and the former stuck to the latter before coloured initials were supplied on item (2b) of f.22); (B: f.23-103) 4-88, 98 wants 3-6 (replaced end 16th century by f.65-69, so now 9), 10-138; (C: f.104-107) 144.

Catchwords: Catchwords on quires 1-2, 5-9 and 12, centred on quires 1-2, some largely cropped away; leaf catchwords on the first two or three leaves of quires 4-6 and leaves 5-7 of quire 8.

Prickings in outer margins, doubled on ff. 96-103 (quire 13).


Punctuation by punctus, elevatus, versus, interrogativus, mostly placed on inner or outer right-hand bounding line for verse-lines of (A) and (B).


Text-capitals of verse-lines in (B) washed with yellow or, in (C), lined with red.

Small ink marginal guide-letters for coloured initials, for example on f.24-26, 47-62v, 72-79v, 86v-91v, 92v, 97, 100.

Pen-drawing, 125 x 93 mm, f.22v, in brown, of a tonsured man in habit (Lawrence) holding writing implements and seated on a chair with side and conventional book-rest, below battlemented arch with turrets supported by pillars with spirals (like those of Durham Cathedral or Waltham Abbey, Lawrence's birthplace), tinted in green, yellow and deep pink, with solid grounds of green and yellow-brown; the palette apparently similar to that for the facing initial to item (2c), f.23.

Type (vii) initials on f.23 and 64 probably executed after and partly on top of the smaller single-colour type (iv) initials? The supply leaves (f.65‑69) have 1+-line initials alternately green and mulberry.

Corrections and annotation

Correction by the main hand (?), f.29v margin, with erasure in text, or, f.49v, 59v, over erasure; by a contemporary hand, 7 lines, over erasure. Marginal markings by wavy lines and pairs of dots f.1v-6. Original Notas in margins to item (2c), starting f.29v, and, f.58v, 71r-v, 89rv and 91rv, names in text repeated in margins. An early note in the lower corner of f.49, Nec mora cap (compare the section starting Nec mora regalis under the rubric De suc(c)essoribus Alexandri, f.70v.

In margin of f.23 against line 1 deus as gloss, by 17th century italic hand; two quotations, apparently from Virgil, by same hand f.98v margin with B against each line referred to.


Marks on f. 1, formerly pasted down, of two bands and turn-in of covering of boards, also a hole from fixing of 1 clasp halfway down outer edge. Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards with 1 clasp (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound most of the Cosin Manuscripts in the 19th century).

Manuscript history

Written in part probably at Durham Cathedral Priory, in the mid 12th century. Portrait of Lawrence on singleton painted independently, possibly elsewhere. Three type vii[b] initials described by Kauffmann (1975) (no. 76) as not typical of Durham manuscripts of the period, but found in other mid 12th century English manuscripts, cf. McLachlan (1986), plates 105-107 (acanthus initials in Cambridge Pembroke College MS 16), 105 with initials in two techniques overlapping, 107 with “Byzantine” blossoms. Haney (1982): the first English ... fully developed is the Bury Bible Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 2, which has been dated 1135-7.


Liber Sancti Cuthberti de Dunelmo F in a 14th century hand, erased and overwritten with Thomas Rud's ex libris and shelf-numbers, f.1 head. Entered among Libri diversorum doctorum theologie, as F, in the catalogues of the Spendement of Durham Cathedral Priory, 1395 and 1416, Durham Cathedral Library MS B.IV.46, edited in Cat.Vet. p. 26 and 102. Thomas Swalwell, (monk of Durham between approximately 1483 and 1539), supplemented the contents list, f.iv, in about 1500, and added the reference Libraria pressmark, 1a 7i Z.

John Leland saw this manuscript on his visit in about 1538: (Collectanea, volume IV, 41).
The heading to (8) and the supply in (2) are in an archaizing script by a hand that occurs in Durham University Library Cosin MS V.II.6, and other Durham historical manuscripts, most by W. Claxton of Wynyard, Durham (d. 1597) - see Doyle (1997).
Inscription Geo. Davenport 1670. Donum Nic. Frevyle Armigeri., f. ii (on Nicholas Freville Esq. of Hardwick (d. 1674), see Surtees (1816-40), iii, 27 & 36).
Notes by George Davenport on Lawrence, from Bale and Pits, f. ii.
The manuscript was copied by Dr Christopher Hunter (1675-1757), Durham Cathedral Library Hunter MS 2.
Ex-libris and shelf-numbers by Thomas Rud on f.1.
List of contents, by Christopher Hunter of Medomsley (d. 1738), supplemented by R. Harrison (Cosin librarian), end of 18th century, f. iiv.

Manuscript contents
(i)     f.i v-iiv
Modern title: Contents
Language: Latin
Date: added 14th - 16th centuries
Incipit: In isto volumine continentur ista

List of contents, initially covering items 1-2; entries for 3-8 added by Thomas Swalwell (-1539) along with the library pressmark “1a 7i Z”

Ownership inscription of George Davenport, dated 1670, and notes by him on Lawrence from Bale and Pits.

List of contents in the hand of Christopher Hunter (-1738) of Medomsley.

SECTION: (A)    
(1)     f.1r-19v
Original title: Consolatio de morte amici
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Consolatio Laurentii Dunelmensis monachi de morte amici
Incipit: Sepe et supra modum multis anxietatibus premor
Explicit: accedit et huic nostre disputationi
Edited: Kinderman (1969)
Described: Rigg (1992), 57

Dialogue between Laurentius (prose) and Consolator (verse), both named in red.

(2)     f.19v-22r
Modern title: Prologues to Hypognosticon
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Edited: Raine (1880) 62-65.
Described: Rigg (1992), 58-61
(2a)     f.19v-22r
Modern title: Prose prologue to Hypognosticon
Language: Latin
Rubric: Incipit prologus insequens opus
Incipit: Omnis ars vel disciplina mi GERVASI spei ratione praetendit
Explicit: ego debeam iuste propter illud DISPLICERE
Edited: Raine (1880)
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 5386
Edited: Daub (2002)

Regarded as a prologue to Hypognosticon.

(2b)     f.22r
Modern title: Verse prologue to Hypognosticon
Language: Latin
Rubric: Galienus de auctore et divisionibus precedentis opusculi
Incipit: Ingenii pro posse parans attollere christum
Explicit: Conregnante sui scriptore libri Galieno.
Edited: Raine (1880)
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 5386
Edited: Daub (2002)

Regarded as a prologue to Hypognosticon. “precedentis” in the rubric has been subpuncted but the correct “sequentis” has not been supplied. The error in the rubric is presumably a result of careless copying from an exemplar in which (2b) followed (2c). Galienus describes himself as “sui scriptore libri” and, not being the copyist of the text here, must have been of a previous one. Daub (2002) says that despite the general superiority of the Cosin text there is evidence that it cannot be the archetype (p. 55 n. 89). These verses are found only otherwise in the account of Lawrence's work by John Wessyngton in BL Cotton Claudius D.IV f.79v, (early 15th century), most probably from this Cosin copy, the contents of which he ascribes to Lawrence.

SECTION: (B)    
(2c)     f.22 v-92r
Modern title: Hypognosticon
Original title: Ipponosticon Laurentii Dunelmensis monachi
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: de veteri et nouo testamento incipit
Incipit: Principium rerum sine tempore tempora formans
Explicit: completus per eum desinat hic in eo.
Edited: Daub (2002)
Described: Rigg (1992), 54-57
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 5386

The upper two-thirds of f. 22v is an author portrait. 7 lines written over erasure of 6 (?) lines, f.75. Four leaves missing after f.64, supplied in late 16th century (f.65-69), book VI lines 51-323. most likely from York Minster MS XVI.Q.14, where the rubric to every group of lines (of varying extent) is numbered within the book, as here. The few variants from York can be explained as errors of the copyist here, who repeats the York use of tironian “et” as a line initial and the abbreviation for “est”, neither found elsewhere in this manuscript.

(3)     f.92 r-94r
Original title: Oratio pro Laurentio
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Incipit Oratio Laurentii pro Laurentio
Incipit: Non possum socii mei vel admirari satis
Explicit: quicquid melius non incipit. quam desinit.
Edited: Kindermann (1971), 128-130

(4)     f.94r-97r
Original title: Oratio pro naufragis
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Incipit oratio Laurentij pro naufragis.
Incipit: Frustra boni ciues illud efficere nituntur
Explicit: omnium relegatis.
Edited: Kindermann (1971), 130-133

(5)     f.97 r-100r
Original title: Oratio pro iuvenibus
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Incipit oratio cuius supra pro iuuenibus compeditis.
Incipit: Difficile satis est princeps
Explicit: primo nolle cum posse malum incipit.
Edited: Kindermann (1971), 134-137

(6)     f.100r-103r
Original title: Invectio in Malgerum
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Incipit inuectio Laurentii in Malgerum.
Incipit: Quenam hec est intentio tua MALGERI tam maliciosa.
Explicit: sero penitere.
Edited: Kindermann (1971), 137-140

(7)     f.103r-103v
Original title: Oratio pro Milone
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Oratio Laurentii pro Milone.
Incipit: Multis pater pro Milone verbis opus non est
Explicit: non potest aliud hinc COMPROBARI.
Edited: Kindermann (1971), 140-141

SECTION: (C)    
(8)     f.104r-106v
Original title: Rithmus de Christo et eius discipulis
Author: Lawrence, of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Incipit: Lucas. Egra comes rerum mutatio
Explicit: Cui verum magis est animo qua luce notatum.
Edited: Kindermann (1968)
Discussed: McKinnell (2007)

A rhymed verse Peregrinus play with speeches for two pilgrims and ten disciples, narrating the episodes of the meeting with Christ on the road to Emmaus and doubting Thomas. The title “Rithmus Laurentij de Christo et eius discipulis” at the start is added by a late 16th century hand which Doyle (1997), p.350 associates with William Claxton.

(9)     f.107r
Original title: Prosa de Resurrectione
Author: Lawrence of Durham (approximately 1114-1154)
Language: Latin
Rubric: Prosa de Resurrectione
Incipit: Eia fratres in paschalis agni laudem generalis aspiret deuocio
Explicit: osanna filio dauid. laus honor. et gloria.
Edited: Kindermann (1968)
Discussed: McKinnell (2007)

Prose, probably intended as an accompanying conclusion to the Rithmus de Christo.

(10)     f.107r
Modern title: Three medical recipes
Language: Latin
Incipit: Ad uisum. Verbena. Eufrasia. Turmentina
Incipit: Item ad uisum. Eufrasia. Turmentina
Incipit: Ad ficum. Accipe pondus .v. solidorum uini

Three short medical recipes

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 MS. V.iii.1 - Lawrence of Durham, Works
Digitised in October 2014 as part of the Durham Priory Project pilot project


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Daub, S., ed., Gottes Heilsplan - verdichtet: Edition des Hypognosticon des Laurentius Dunelmensis   OCLC citation, (Erlangen: Palm & Enke, 2002)

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Haney, K. E., A Norman antecedent for English floral ornament of the mid-twelfth century, Scriptorium 36 (1982), 84-86

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Kindermann, U., Laurentius von Durham: Consolatio de morte amici. Untersuchungen und Kritischer Text, (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität: Erlangen-Nüremberg, 1969).

Kindermann, U., "Die fünf Reden des Laurentius von Durham", Mittellateinisches jahrbuch   OCLC citation, 8 (1971), 108-141

Leland, J., Joannis Lelandi antiquarii De rebus Britannicis collectanea cum Thomae Hearnii praefatione notis et indice ad editionem primam   OCLC citation, (London: Benjamin White, 1774)

McKinnell, John, "A twelfth-century Durham play", in Gameson, Richard, ed., Treasures of Durham University Library   OCLC citation, 38-39 (London: Third Millennium, 2007)

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Sharpe, Richard, A handlist of the Latin writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540   OCLC citation, (Turnhout: Brepols, 1997)

Stegmüller, Friedrich, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: 1950-1980)

Surtees, Robert, The history and antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: compiled from original records, preserved in public repositories and private collections: and illustrated by engravings of architectural and monumental antiquities, portraits of eminents persons ...   OCLC citation, (London: J. Nichols and Son …, 1816-1840)

Walton, Joseph, Calendar of the Greenwell deeds in the public reference library   OCLC citation, (Newcastle upon Tyne: Northumberland Press, 1927)

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