The James Catalogue of Western Manuscripts

Shelfmark R.3.15
Manuscript Title

Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; Piers Plowman

Alternative Title

Chaucer etc

James Number 595
Century 15th16th
Physical Description

30 lines to a page normally. In several hands, all fairly good.


Nevile (see notes) It seems to have belonged to Abp Parker. The pagination is in red chalk. At the top of f.5 are the initials TW in red chalk.

Donor Neville [Nevile], Thomas (c. 1548–1615), College Head and Dean of Canterbury
Size (cm) 28.5 x 21.5
Folio 316 ff.
Material Paper
Language Middle English

14 (supply of cent. xvi) 22? (1 gone) 32 42 56 (wants 4) 64 712 (1 canc.) 812 (misbound?) 912 108 1112-1612 (wants 8) 1714 1812-2112 (wants 8-12) 2212 23?(3 left) 24? (5 left) 2512-3212 (wants 12) || 3312 (xvith cent.).


Stub 16a not photographed. No ff. 20-1, 126, 138, ff. 200-1 (stubs - not photographed). According to a modern pencil-note in the MS it was given by Neville (like most of the Parkerian MSS now in Trinity). If the MS was indeed given by Neville then Bell presumably never owned it.

IIIF Manifest URL
Online Since 24/08/2022


The first part of the contents list and the ink foliation, are by Beaupré Bell. See also his annotated copy of Urry's ed., H.18.38.

I. In a hand of cent. xvi 'possibly after 1600.'

1. f.1 Eighte goodlie questions with theire aunswers
Sometyme in grece that noble region.

2. f.2 To the kinges moste noble grace and to the Lordes and knightes of the garter
To you wele of honor and of worthynes.

3. f.3 When faithe faileth in prestes sawes
On these pieces see Skeat's Chaucer l. 45, 46.

4. f.3b The Prologues (to the Canterbury Tales)
down to line 55
No Christian man so ofte in his degree.

II. f.5 The original hand begins
In granade at the siege had he be.
The Tales end on quire 32, f.11b.
Explicit Tractatus Galfridi Chaucer de penitencia ut dicitur pro fabula Rectoris.
Followed by the Retractation.
See Skeat's Chaucer IV. p. xii. "Some leaves are missing, so that the Canons Yeoman, Prioress and Sir Thopas are lost. Of the D-type, without Gamelyn."

III. In the hand of I., the title cut away,
Piers Plowman's Crede.
Cros and Curteis Crist þis bygynnynge spede.
Ends on the twelfth leaf
þ t þei maie wynnen þe lif, þ t euer schal lesten. Amen.
This is the best MS. of the Crede; Professor Skeat edited the text from it in 1867. In his opinion it is a careful copy of a possibly xivth cent. MS.


Echard, S., Printing the Middle Ages, Material Texts (Philadelphia, Pa., 2008)

Horobin, S., 'Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.3.15 and the circulation of Chaucerian manuscripts in the sixteenth century', Connolly, M., James-Maddocks, H. and Pearsall, D. (eds), Scribal Cultures in Late Medieval England: Essays in honour of Linne R. Mooney (Woodbridge, 2022) pp. 312-28

Mooney, L. R., The Index of Middle English Prose Handlist 11: Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 21 and 153

Partridge, S. B., Glosses in the Manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales : an Edition and Commentary / a Thesis presented by Stephen Bradford Partridge (Cambridge, Massacusetts, 1992)

Partridge, S. B., Wynkyn de Worde's Manuscript Source for The Canterbury Tales : Evidence from the Glosses, The Chaucer Review 41 no. 4, (University Park, Pa., 2007) p. 325-359

Strongman, S., 'John Parker's Manuscripts: an Edition of the Lists in Lambeth Palace MS 737', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 7 (1977-80), 1-27, no. 106

Wheeler, B., et al., ed., The Malory Debate: Essays on the Texts of Le Morte d'Arthur (Woodbridge, 2000)


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