Cambridge, Trinity College, R. 9. 17 (819)

Present Location

R. 9. 17 (819)

Medieval Provenance

General Information






A composite manuscript made up of four booklets:

Booklet A (s. xvi) contains replacement material for text missing at the beginning of Booklet B.

Booklet B (s. xi/xii) contains Ælfric's Grammar 'in an abbreviated form and without the prefaces and glossary' (Ker 1957, p. 134) (fols 3r/1-44v/4), beginning acephalously 'PARTES. ORATIONIS. SVNT OCTO. æhta dælas synd' and ending 'oðre syndon englisce inter | iectiones', followed by the beginning of Ælfric's Grammar (fols 44v/5- 45r/13), 'SECUNDUM DONATUM. Omnis uox aut articulata est', ending imperfectly 'uocales. | ˥ þa six'; an Old English translation of Distichs of Cato (fols 45r/15-48r/26), 'NE beo þu to slæpor ne to idel', ending 'scúfan ðeah simle ðone | hláford beforan'; and an Old English apophthegm not based on the Distichs of Cato (fols 48r/27-48v/22), 'AC sanctus agustinus sæde swiðe swutul bispell by ðy', ending 'ðeah | he mónigne fót hæbbe' (Treharne 2003, pp. 65-85).

Booklet C (s. xiv/xv) contains Richard de Bury, Philobiblon and Alain of Lille, De Plantu Naturae.

Booklet D (s. xii/xiii) contains papal decretals and letters of Alexander III in Latin.

There are numerous contemporary glosses in English and in French throughout Ælfric's Grammar.

Digital Surrogate

Manuscript Items


  1. Itemfols 1-2


    • Title (B. Ælfric's Grammar [Preface]: Preface

      Incipit (Latin): (fol. 1) EGO ÆLFRICUS ut minus sapiens has excer | ptiones de prisciano minore

      Explicit(fol. 2) Gyf he nele his who gerihtan

      Text Language: Latin and English


      Ker 1957, pp. 134-35

      Lucas 1997


    • Itemfols 3-44


      • Title (B. Ælfric's Grammar [Glosses]: Glosses

        Incipit(fol. 3) æhta dælas synd

        Explicit(fol. 44) Oðre syndon englisce inter | iectiones

        Text Language: English and Latin


        Ker 1957, pp. 134-35

        Lucas 1997


      • Itemfols 44v-45r


        • Title (B.1.9.1): Ælfric's Grammar: First part

          Incipit (Latin): (fol. 44v) SECUNDUM DONATUM. Omnis uox aut articulata est

          Explicit(fol. 45r) uocales | 7 þa six (ends imperfectly)

          Text Language: Latin and English


          Ker 1957, pp. 134-35

          Lucas 1997


        • Itemfols 45r-48r


          • Title (B.7.1): Proverbs: Distichs of Cato: Free translation, partial.

            Incipit(fol. 45r) NE beo þu to slæpor ne to idelgeorn

            Explicit(fol. 48r) Scúfan ðeah simle ðone | hláford beforan

            Text Language: English


            Ker 1957, pp. 134-35

            Lucas 1997


          • Itemfols 48-65


            • Title (B.7.1.1.EM): Proverbs: Distichs of Cato [excerpts]: Second paragraph translation of some of the Distichs of Cato. 

              Incipit(fol. 48) AC sanctus agustinus sæde swiðe swutul bispell by ðy

              Explicit(fol. 65) ðeah | he mónigne fót hæbbe

              Text Language: English

              Note: New paragraph but connected in subject to item 3.


              Ker 1957, pp. 134-35

              Lucas 1997

            Object Description


            Form: Codex

            Support: Parchment. Fols ii + 46. Fols 1, 2 are supply leaves, s. xvi.


            • 210 mm x 150 mm (dimensions of all - size of leaves)
            • 192 mm x 130 mm (dimensions of all - size of written space)

            Foliation and/or Pagination: Foliation is in brown ink, and has been corrected from fol. 41 onwards, as '40' was written twice.


            • Quires: Booklet B, fols 3-48: 1-38, 46, 5-68. The collation does not reveal the loss of a leaf after fol. 46, between fols 32 and 33, but fols 41r and 46v are flesh sides (Ker 1957, p. 134). Collation on pastedown given as ‘Collation 1-48, 48+ -131 leaves / 97 being but half-a-leaf / and the last two leaves blank.’ 



            Ruled with a flat-ended instrument for 27 horizontal long lines within single vertical bounding lines (except Quire 4, which has a double vertical bounding line at the fore-edge margin). Double horizontal bounding lines extend across the folio. Writing is above top line. Quire 5 is ruled for 30 long lines. Pricks are visible on a number of opening folios (thus pricking done quire-by-quire), and are placed 7-8 mm apart. x-height is 2-3 mm, as are the ascenders and descenders. The manuscript is arranged HFHF. The ink is a very dark brown.

            Seven sewing stations are visible, particularly at fol. 42r of Ælfric's Grammar. Most of the quires are tightly bound, but here the sewing structure is apparent.

            Foliation is contemporary with the inscription on fol. 1r, which gives ‘R. 9. 17’ at top middle, and has a Trinity ex-libris sticker in the middle of the folio. The folio has a writing grid drawn in red crayon, which continues to fol. 2v, because fols 1v, 2r and 2v have the s. xvi writing completing the beginning of the text by providing the Prefaces in Latin and in English on vellum. This grid comprised two wide vertical bounding lines on the right, one on the left, two lines across the full width at the top, one at the bottom.


              Discolouration at fol. 3r suggests it was not always bound. There is some slight water staining at the top outer edge of fols 4 and 5, which extends some five lines. Some staining too on fols 28v and 29r, but not on other sides of folios, which is mirror-image damage. Similar stains, but more extensive, on fols 31v and 32r. This extends down more than a third of the page and again, is mirror-image staining. Same staining in top middle of fols 34v and 35r extending down to half the page.

              Hand Description

              • Number of hands: 1 in Booklet B
              • Summary: These folios are written in an emulative Caroline minuscule and an emulative round late Anglo-Saxon insular minuscule.
              • Hand: main text
                • Scope: sole
                • Script: English Vernacular Minuscule
                • Ker reference: Ker 89 SC1
                • Description: Fols 3-48. Ker 1957 describes this hand as 'a rather pointed, backward-sloping hand, becoming rounder latterly' (p. 135). The general aspect is slightly leftward leaning and the script is more round than angular, though there are hints of angularity on the right stroke of bowled letters. The hand seems likely to be late eleventh-century, rather than twelfth. It demonstrates some notable alteration in the formation of graphs after fol. 45r (the Dicts of Cato) that may be deliberately emulative of an earlier exemplar, or self-consciously archaic.
                • Summary of the characteristics of the hand: Latin and Old English are distinguished in the script. 
                • a is generally single compartment, but sometimes has a small head in the English, just as it does in the Latin. 
                • After fol. 45, æ often has a high e
                • d is low and round-backed, with a slightly angular right side of to the bowl. The graph is straight-backed in Latin. 
                • e has a long tongue. After fol. 45r, note horned e appears. Also after fol. 45r, there are many high e forms here in this quire: e.g., 'wenen', fol. 47v/26, where the e is like an i with a bulbous circle above it. 
                • The medial stroke of f is on the line and almost straight. The upper shoulder curves slightly under to the left. 
                • g in the Latin is almost eight-shaped, but the tail is not closed. Insular g in the English begins from the right of the headstroke and swoops down with a slight angularity to the curved and usually closed tail. Sometimes the onstroke of g and t begins with a tiny oblique attack line.
                • h is often caroline in both Latin and Old English. The ascender has an oblique tag to left and right of stem. 
                • By fol. 34r, tops of ascenders of l have elaborate flags to the right at oblique angle. 
                • p has a distinctive flat foot across the bottom of the descender. This is quite distinctive by the latter folios. 
                • r is insular throughout but, after fol. 45r, the shoulder of the graph curves round very close to the descender, such that it resembles a pthat is not quite closed. 
                • s is low, long and high in form. As the manuscript progresses, the top of s begins to loop at little (not closed, but certainly looped). In Latin, suprascript s is used at the end of a line (fol. 12/14). 
                • ð the crossbar, which is relatively close to the bowl, does not transect the upstroke. The crossbar flicks down at the end. The upstroke frequently ends with a tag down to the left, which becomes more prominent by fol. 44v. 
                • y is straight-limbed, always dotted in middle, with a tail that flicks round to the right. After fol. 45r, round-limbed y appears. 
                • ascenders are tagged to the left often. 
                • descenders are straight until a sudden flick to left at end. At fols 47v and 48r, the descenders at the last line extend into the lower margin. 
                • ligatures include an infrequent st ligature and a ct ligature in the Latin. 
                • accents on diphthongs and doubled vowels, 'iudicíí', 'þéód', 'góód'. These are placed at 30°, and are usually hairline and straight.
                • Abbreviations: 
                • The mark of abbreviation is cupped.
                • Punctuation: 
                • hyphens at the beginning and end of lines are straight and at medial height (and quite notable). Runover marks are curved brackets with red decoration. Punctuation at the end of a section is akin to a colon followed by a jPunctus elevatus occurs after fol. 45r.
                • Correcting technique: 
                • correction by insertion mark and interlinear emendation. Or, as at bottom of fol. 3v, 'wordu’' corrected to 'word’e’' by subpunctus under u and actually a hairline stroke through it diagonally. Also some corrections by the miniator who came along to decorate the letters, because these are written with a red ink. e.g. fol. 6r/10 and 11, 'Englic' corrected to 'Engli’s’c' with red s.
              Decoration Description

              Titles in red, in rustic capitals or in the script of the text. Initials are red, and capital letters are tipped with red (


              There is some underlining and marginal lines in red ochre crayon that could be the work of either Matthew Parker or his son (Lucas 1997, p. 35).

              Binding Description

              The binding is early nineteenth-century and is very tight, so that the frame rule and text go right in to the spine. There was heavy cropping so that in Booklet B the quire letters in red ochre crayon and some marginal additions only survive in part (Lucas 1997, p. 35). Brown, plain leather binding measuring 217mm x 155mm. The edge is rather neatly finished with a tooled zig-zag all around the very fore-edges of the binding. On the spine are seven tooled sets of triple lines (no gold) and at the top, black R on white sticker, and at bottom '17' on white sticker. Red small leather square on spine and tooled in gold "Alfrici / Grammat / Saxon / etc." in small caps. Foredge of the leaves all round are dyed red.

              Additional Information

              Administration Information

              Manuscript described by Elaine Treharne with the assistance of Hollie Morgan and Sanne van der Schee (2010; 2013).


              Digital surrogate: (accessed 18 July 2018)

              Lucas, Peter J., and others, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1997), vol. 16: Manuscripts Relating to Dunstan, Ælfric, and Wulfstan; the "Eadwine Psalter" Group



              Origin Unknown. According to Lucas 1997, the fact that fol. 131 is a sixteenth-century cancel, having a paper pastedown (now lifted) imprinted with part of a statute relating to wages in Southampton, suggests that the booklets were brought together for the first time in the sixteenth century. Provenance Unknown. Acquisition Belonged to John Parker, Archbishop Parker's son: part of number 40 in the list of his manuscripts in Lambeth Palace MS. 737 (Wanley 1705, p. 167).




              Altamura, Antonio, ed., Riccardo da Bury Pilobiblon (Naples: Fausto Fiorentino, 1954)

              Cockayne, Thomas O., The Shrine. A Collection of Occasional Papers on Dry Subjects (London: Williams and Norgate, 1864)

              Cox, R. S., 'The Old English Dicts of Cato', Anglia, 30 (1972), 1-42

              Förster, Max, 'Zum altenglischen Boethius', Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen, 106 (1901), 342-3 [Booklet B: OE apophthegm 77]

              Friedberg, Emil, Die Canonen-Sammlungen zwischen Gratian und Bernhard von Pavia (Liepzig: Tauchnitz, 1897)

              Gneuss, Helmut, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001), item 182

              Greg, Walter W., English Literary Autographs 1550-1650 (London: Oxford University Press, 1925-32)

              Häring, Nikolaus M., 'Alanus de Insulis, De planctu Naturae', in Studi Medievali (1978), 3.19, 797-879

              Holtzman, Walther, 'Die Register Papstes Alexanders III. in den Händen der Kanonisten', Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, 30 (1940), 13-89

              ---, Studies in the Collections of Twelfth-Century Decretals: From the Papers of the Late Walther Holtzmann, Monumenta Iuris Canonici, ser. B: Corpus Collectionum 3 (Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1979)

              Jaffé, Phillipus, ed., Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, 2nd edn, 2 vols (Liepzig: Veit, 1885)

              Kemble, John M., ed., The Dialogue of Salomon and Saturnus, Ælfric Society, 8 (London: Ælfric Society, 1848)

              Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957; repr. 1990), item 89 

              Loewenfeld, Samuel, Epistolae Pontificum Romanorum (Leipzig: Veit, 1885)

              Lucas, Peter J., and others, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1997), vol. 16: Manuscripts Relating to Dunstan, Ælfric, and Wulfstan; the "Eadwine Psalter" Group 

              Müller, Ludwig C., Collectanea Anglo-Saxonica Maximam Partem Nunc Primum Edita et Vocabulario Illustrata (Hauniæ: Wahl, 1835; repr. Amsterdam: Rodophi, 1970)

              Pennington, Kenneth, 'Epistolae Alexandrinae: A Collection of Pope Alexander III's Letters', in Popes, Canonists and Texts, 1150-1550, 7 (Aldershot: Variorum, 1993)

              Strongman, Sheila, ed., John Parker's Manuscripts: An Edition of the Lists in Lambeth Palace MS 737 (Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 1977-80), vol. 7

              Treharne, Elaine M., 'The Form and Function of the Twelfth-Century Old English Dicts of Cato', Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 102 (2003), 465-85

              Wanley, Humfrey, Antique Literature Septentrionalis Liber Alter (Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1705)


                Zupitza, Julius, ed., Ælfrics Grammatik und Glossar: Text und Varianten, 2nd edn (1880; Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung Max Niehans Verlag, 1966)