A Digital Catalogue of the
Pre-1500 Manuscripts and Incunables of the
Canterbury Tales
Second Edition
Location:  Alnwick, Northumberland(Alwick Castle, Duke of Northumberland) MS 455
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1. Canterbury Tales (I 157-X 989; DIMEV 6414): fols. 1r-179r, 236r-287r
2. The Tale of Beryn (DIMEV 6270): fols. 180r-235r
(View in DIMEV)
I II Va IVb III IVa Vb VIIIa VIIb VIa VIIac VIb VIIIb Beryn III 2159-2294 VIIdef IX X
Progress of Copying: 
SqT ends on fol. 71r at V 349, followed by the rubric “here endith the Squyer his tale | And here begynnyth the Marchant his prologg.” In the margin, in the ink of the text (preceded by a blue ¶ and underlined in red) is “¶Chawcere made noo[trimmed] | end of this tale.” On fol. 95v, a “+” is placed next to “he knew of hem mo legendis & lyvis” (III 686, which has been repeated between III 689-690, because of the repeated rhyme “wyvis | lyvis” at III 685-686 and III 689-690). On fol. 115r, SuT breaks off at III 2158, leaving three lines blank. In the margin is “¶ffrers tale” (rubricated, with a blue ¶). ClT begins at the top of the verso. On fol. 129r, the “Envoy” at the end of ClT is followed by “But ӡit god graunt vs grace to be good | And evir to have pacience in oure mode.” In the margin, in rubric and preceded by a blue ¶, is “¶Here endith the tale of the | Clerk of Oxinforth of Grisi[trimmed] | & of hire pacience.” The Mer-Sq Link, adapted to join ClT-FkT, begins on the following verso, followed by FkT. FkT ends on fol. 139r, with the rubricated explicit at the bottom, in the margin. SNT begins on the verso. At the bottom of fol. 139v, a “+” is placed next to the repetition of VIII 38 between VIII 39-40. On fol. 160r, Thop ends at VII 966, followed by the rubric “Here endith the tale of Sir Thopas | God help vs & Seynt Thomas,” followed by a space of one line, and “Here begynnyth the Pardon[er]e his prologg.” CYT ends on fol. 179v, three lines from the bottom of the page. In the margin, slightly trimmed, is the instruction “[e?]nd tale of þe | [C]anons yeman,” but the explicit was never executed. The prologue of Beryn (“The Canterbury Interlude”) begins on fol. 180r, without incipit. On fol. 189v, three lines are left blank at the bottom, and in the margin is “[?]gynneth the | [?]ant his tale,” but again there is no incipit. On fol. 235r is a colophon to Beryn: “Nomen Autoris p[re]sentis Cronica Rome | Et translatoris ffilius eccelsie Thome.” Lines III 2159-2294 of SuT are placed after Beryn, beginning on fol. 235r with the unrubricated incipit “Here endith the tale of the Sompno[r]e wtin þe boke wryten.” At the bottom of fol. 114r, is the unrubricated explicit, “Here endith the Sompnoure his tale.” The verso is blank (now filled with graffiti). Mel begins at the top of fol. 237r with the rubric “Here begynnyth Chawcere his tale of Mellebe & Prudence.”
Numerous notes by Furnivall, on blue paper, noting losses and textual lacunae, are bound in.

Parchment, trimmed (some of the glosses are slightly trimmed at the fore-edge and catchwords are usually cropped at the bottom, sometimes almost completely). Numerous repairs to the parchment along the fore-edge.
Page Size:  
30.8 x 19 cm.
One original signature is visible on fol. 252r: “yj” or possibly a flourished “Nj” (the pencil signature is “Ll i”).
[1]8 (–1, 2) fols. 1-6
[2-5]8 fols. 7-38
[6]8 (–4) fols. 39-45
[7]8 fols. 46-53
[8]8 (–2.7, 3.6, 4.5) fols. 54-55
[9-15]8 fols. 56-109 (two consecutive leaves in [11]—[11].7 & [11].8—are numbered “78” & “78+”; [14].6 & [14].7 are numbered “100” & “100*”)
[16]8 (–6) fols. 110-117 (foliation skips 114, now bound as [32].1: 110, 111, 112, 113, 115*, 116, 117)
[17]8 (sewing between 3 & 4) fols. 118-125
[18-31]8 fols. 126-236 (two consecutive leaves in [24]—[24].2 & [24].3—are numbered “175” & “175+”)
[32]8 (1 formerly misplaced in Q [16] and misnumbered as fol. 114; now glued in) fols. 114, 237-243
[33-37]8 fols. 244-282 (two consecutive folios are numbered “252” and “252+”)
[38]8 (–3.6, 4.5) fols. 283-286
[39-40]8 [inferred: now lost]
[41]8 (–1.8, 2.7, 3.6, 5) fol. 287
Single columns, 34-38 lines, unruled but margined in russet crayon. The written space measures approximately 23.5 x 12.5-14 cm. Blue initials of 3-4 lines with red penwork introduce prologues and tales, 2-line blue initials with red penwork mark internal divisions. Red and blue paraphs mark lesser divisions and stanzas. Glosses, preceded by blue or red paraphs, are rubricated at the beginning of the MS, but the majority are in the ink of the text. Incipits and explicits are in rubric. Catchwords on the final verso of gatherings of eight. Foliation and signatures added in pencil at lower right. No running heads.
One mixed secretary hand with curled, semiquadrata serifs, reverse, circular e and open e, looped d (with unlooped d less frequent), two-compartment a (a “straight-sided” graph with a cross-stroke dividing the single lobe into two), short r, with z-shaped r in ligature and occasionally initially, a long r that sometimes occurs in medial position, two forms of w (a double-v form, and a v+B form), B-shaped s finally, where sigma s also occurs, long s medially, tailed g, and much less frequently a double-diamond form of g. The lobe of the d graph is quite angular. The scribe sometimes produces a double-compartment a whose top lobe rises well above the height of most of the ascenders, as in “DamyAn.” The orientation is very upright. Body height ca. 2.5-3 mm.
See further the Beryn Scribe.
Nineteenth-century red morocco, sewn on five thongs. Blind-tooled geometrical pattern around the borders, with the gilt-stamped Percy badge on the front and back, containing the motto of the Order of the Garter: “. HONI . SOIT . QUI . MAL . Y . PENSE.” Two stiff, unmarked paper flies at the front and back, modern paper paste-downs. A letter from F. J. Furnivall, dated 22 June, 1871, is pasted to the recto of the second fly.

s. XVmid
LALME LP 6040 localizes the language of the scribe to southern Essex.
On fol. 152v is “Iohn Chechester[es?] boke.” This, according to Manly-Rickert, is the signature of Sir John Chichester (sixteenth century) of Raleigh, Devon. He and others whose names appear throughout Nl lived in and around Pilton (near Barnstaple, Devon; 1:392).
Iohn Pasmore” signs on fols. 56r (upside-down), 116r (along with numerous monograms, drawings, and versions of the name “Thomas”), 131r, and 191r (“Pasmore”). His name appears near that of Chichester in the Pilton Parish Register, under burials, and nearby names also appear in the MS (Webber, Ward, Bright; Manly-Rickert 1:392). “Iohn hucchn” also signs on fol. 56r (upside-down), fol. 78r (“boke | I Iohn[es]”), and on fol. 148r, vertically at the bottom. On fol. 210r is “Iohn Hucchyns | ys wryten.” On fol. 174r is “Iohn Wyllm huc[trimmed].” “Iohn hucchyns” recurs on fol. 135v and 237v. “Thomas hucchyns ys wryten” is at the top of fol. 234v, along with “Thomas Webbren | scripsit boc teste Lectore.” “Thomas Hucchyns” appears, in a variety of hands, or at least scripts, on fols. 71r, 107r, 112r, 120r, 129v, 139r, 156r, 185r, 199r, 208r, 212r, 233r (a very ornate “Liber thome hucc[trimmed]”), 268r, 271r (along with “Willm hucchyns” in the same hand), 277r (and probably numerous other times, such as the upside-down, trimmed, printed “THOMAS H” on fol. 136v), and the same name appears as one of the witnesses to John Passemore’s will (“Thomas Huchines clerke”; Manly-Rickert 1:392). On fol. 127r is “amiabell Countynaunce | hucchyns.” “Willm hucchyns,” “Iohn hucchyns,” “Rychard hucchyns,” and “Samuell hucchyns” all appear, written by a single hand, on fol. 151v. On fol. 273r is “Willm hucchyns ys a knaw[?patched].” On fol. 198v is “Liber thome | teste lectore” upside-down in the margin.
On the blank fol. 114v (the first folio of Q [32], are a number of inscriptions, including: “By me Iohn | Huchyns | hys book”; “By me Rychard | huchins[?]”; “Iohn pasmore.”
On fol. 107r, above the signature of Thomas Hucchyns, is the name “george bobocome” in a very different hand, whom Manly-Rickert (1:394) identify as the George Babbacombe “baptized at Tawstock, 1610.” On fol. 112r, in a different hand from that which signs “Thomas hucchy[trimmed],” is “Auyaunce ys so feyres.” A third hand writes some Latin verse. “John povle” appears on fol. 115r, and the same hand writes “[?] and yn the yere of oure lorde god a i[?trimmed].” On fol. 119v, “John Collyns” signs upside-down, in the margin. In the gutter is “Ioffinbyneth”(?) in the same hand. On fol. 129v, next to “Thomas huchyns,” is “Thomas Webber.” In the margin of fol. 161v, upside-down and partially erased, are “Wyllyam wa[?trimmed] | Rycharde web[?] | Ihon [?Simon] | harry bryght[?] | Iohn dane.” On fol. 163r, vertically at the fore-edge, is a memorandum: “[trimmed] | daye of the monthe. The second is the date of the kynge. the third | is the dettor. the fourthe is he that dothe owe. The fyfte [is] the daye | of payment. The syxte to sygne the [crossout] byll the seventhe to seale it,” signed “Per me george Webber.” In the margin of fol. 170r, upside-down, is “[trimmed]wyllm warde.” On fol. 174r are a number of signatures, some trimmed at the fore-edge: “John holomore,” “Rychard Cour[trimmed],” “Thomas Norm[trimmed],” “Thomas hucc[?trimmed] | ys wrytten R[trimmed] | off the Reder.” On fol. 224r at the bottom, is an accounting. Another greatly trimmed account occurs in the margin of fol. 110r. On the verso, at the top, is “paid for a kentall of pypper –– 14000 C[?] do[?].” On fol. 201r is the partially-erased “Rychard | Webber.” On fol. 223r is “Rycharde[?] webber,” and lower down, “John hucch[trimmed?].” “Rychard W[trimmed] | hys boke” appears on fol. 235r. On fol. 236v, at the top, is “To my wellbeloued ffrynde wyllyam ward,” and some notes. “Thomas Wylkey” appears at the top of fol. 239v.
Though there are no ownership marks in the MS to corroborate the chain of transactions that landed Nl in Northumberland, a letter from John Urry to Lord Harley dated “1712, November 24” reorts: “Last week the Honourable Mrs Thynn of Cawston sent me a MS. Chaucer, which she has lately purchased; it belonged to Mr. Long, Prebendary of Exeter Church. ’Tis all unbound and wants several leaves, and some whole Tales, but yet there are two in it that I have not met with anywhere else. The one is what passed at the inn at Canterbury, and how the Pilgrims disposed of themselves, and the Pardoner’s misadventure with the Tapster of that inn [Prologue to Beryn]. The othe is the Merchant’s tale as they return from Canterbury… (cited in Spurgeon 1.325). Manly and Rickert find a revision of this “[i]n B.M. MS Add.38181 (materials for the Urry edition), ff.41b 42, the letter is given, but Urry’s statement that Mrs. Thynne had ‘lately purchased’ the MS is corrected (f.110b) to ‘borrowed from the Honble Lady Thinne out of the Library that belonged to [her husband] the Honble Harry Thynne Son to the Rt Honble Thomas L. Weymouth’, who died in 1708. At all events, the MS went from Long to the Thynnes and from them, probably by the marriage of their daughter to Algernon Seymour, Lord Percy” (1.394-5). Elizabeth Percy, daughter of Algernon and Frances Seymour, married Sir Hugh Smithson who became the 1st Duke of Northumberland.
As both the language and textual affiliations of Nl point to its production in East Anglia, how its early provenance in Devonshire came to pass remains a mystery. Manly and Rickert suggest the possibility “that the MS was owned by John Chicester’s mother, Elizabeth Bourchier, cousin of Lord Berners and member of a family famous as lovers and owners of books, and carried West by her” (1.395).

Bowers, John M. “The Tale of Beryn and The Siege of Thebes: Alternative Ideas of The Canterbury Tales.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 7 (1985): 23-50. 
Everett, Virginia Thornton. [Mrs. Lowell P. Leland]. “A Study of the Scribal Editing in Twelve MSS of the Canterbury Tales.” Diss. University of Chicago, 1940. 26-34.
Furnivall, Frederick J. “The Duke of Northumberland’s MS. of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.” The Athenæum 2300 (Nov. 25, 1871): 207? 
Hammond, Eleanor P. Chaucer: A Bibliographical Manual. 1908; rpt. New York: Peter Smith, 1933.  199, 412.
Horobin, Simon. “The Scribe of the Helmingham and Northumberland Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.” Neophilologus 84 (2000): 457-65. [facsimile of fol. 88r]
Kirby-Miller, Wilma Anderson. “Scribal Dialects in the C and D Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.” Diss. University of Chicago, 1938. 72-4.
Manly, John M., and Edith Rickert, eds. The Text of the Canterbury Tales: Studied on the Basis of All Known Manuscripts. 8 vols. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1940. 1:387-95.
McCormick, Sir William and Janet E. Heseltine. The Manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: A Critical Description of Their Contents. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933. 369-78.
McIntosh, Angus, M. L. Samuels, and Michael Benskin, eds. A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English. 4 vols. Aberdeen: Aberdeen Univ. Press, 1986. LP 6040.
Mooney, Linne R., and Lister M. Matheson. “The Beryn Scribe and his Texts: Evidence for Multiple-Copy Production of Manuscripts in Fifteenth-Century England.” The Library Seventh Series, vol. 4 (2003): 347-70. [facsimiles of fol. 180r in Nl and of the scribe’s work in Cambridge University Library, MS Kk.1.3, part 10, fols. 4r and 12r]
Mosser, Daniel W. and Linne R. Mooney. “More Manuscripts by the Beryn Scribe and His Cohort.” Chaucer Review 49 (2014): 39-76. 
Owen, Charles A., Jr. The Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991. 76-7.
Seymour, Michael C. A Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts. Volume II, The Canterbury Tales. Aldershot and Brookfield: Scolar Press, 1997. 34-9.