Collection of medical tracts in verse and prose, mostly in Middle English (Leech-Books, III)

Early 15th century - late 16th century
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Collection of medical tracts in verse and prose


f. 1r too faded to make out

1. ff. 1v-3v Ars phlebotomandi, in 90 lines of verse

f. 1v Maystris that usyth b[lode lettyng] and ther wyth gete th[eir levyng] ... f. 3v So that oure lorde be helpyng that al keep in gouernyng. Explicit ars fleobotumandi secundum Cantabrigiam et Oxoniam.

2. ff. 3v-4r List of days for bleeding, in Latin

f. 3v, line 13 Memorandum quod tres dies sunt in anno in quibus si quis minutus fuerit ... f. 4r ... nec febres pacieris quamdiu vixeris.

3. ff. 4v-13v Miscellaneous charms and receipts in Middle English

f. 4v Here be gynnyth a charme for to staunche blod ... f. 13v ... and a cancre is euer more wyth on thrul.

4. ff. 14r-20v Gardener(?), On the virtues of rosemary, in 272 lines of verse

f. 14r To god that is owre best leche Owre hele holy we be teche ... f. 20v ... that he ghyf vs part of hys lyght Amen so bedde we snelle. Explicit Garddener.

5. ff. 21r-22v Numeration tables, Latin and Arabic, 1-9,000

6. ff. 23r-24r Medical receipts by early 16th century hands, in English

ff. 24v-25r blank

7. ff. 25v-26v Smerthwaytt, List of herbs

f. 25v Here begynneth the table for to fynde the namys off erbys afor sayde (col. 1) Afodyll ... f. 26v, col. 2 Strawbery. Finis quod Smerthwaytt tenet palmer [?] londini.

8. ff. 27v-38v Medical receipts by several 16th century hands, in English

f. 27v Contra dolorem ... f. 38v drynke the same possett [...]

f. 39r blank except for some now-illegible scribblings

9. ff. 39v-40v Antidotarie of helthe (c. 1575), in verse

f. 39v The Antidotari of helth. Ffor helthe of bodye fever from cold in the hede. Eate no raw meate ... f. 40v To all in different Ritches diatorie, finis.

10. ff. 41r-44v Medical receipts by several 16th century hands, in English

f. 41r Yf a ... f. 44v ... shall dye.

ff. 45-48 blank


Early 15th century - late 16th century

Physical description

1 volume 48 ff. (last 4 blank). 8vo. 14 x 10 cm. The first 22 leaves are vellum; the leaves that follow are paper. Modern morocco binding. The outer upper corners of the first 3 leaves are defective, the recto of the first leaf is badly rubbed, and some leaves are stained. The first section is written in a neat gothic hand, 20 lines to a page; ornamental capitals in blue and red, with marginal decorations; other initials in red, touched with yellow; paragraph marks and underlinings in red.

Acquisition note

Purchased at Sotheby's (Dunn Sale), 5/2/1914, Lot 1379.

Biographical note

The dates of the various sections are, as far as can be ascertained, early 15th century, 1511, and c. 1575.

Finding aids

Catalogue description modified in 2014. For original description, see S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973).


On f. 24r is an inscription in red ink 'Est liber smerthwaytt tenet palmer [?] / lamberd lond[ini ?] scutanuyre [?]. Wrytten / and fynyschyd the ere of owre lord / MCCCCC and XI yn / the rayne of King hary the viiith / the iiid yere / the xvii day of Januer'. The poem on blood-letting (No. 1) appears to be similar to those recorded in Black's Catalogue of the Ashmolean MSS. No. 1448, p. 199; No. 1477, p. 96; No. 1481, p. 25. The poem on Rosemary (No. 4) is possibly the same as Black's No. 1442. VI, p. 1, though there it is anonymous, and with a different number of lines. On the verso of the end-paper is a note by Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878): 'Mr. Loscombes Sale. No. 1157. June 1854. £12'. This is written in pencil, and below in ink, 'Catal. A. No. 171'. Clifton Wintringham Loscombe, numismatist, died in 1853. Anglo-Saxon letter forms in Moorat's catalogue description (such as contraction marks and thorn and yogh symbols) have been replaced with Latin characters.

Ownership note

Inside the upper cover is a pasted-on label inscribed 'From the Library of the Earl of Ashburnham. Appendix. No. CXXII. May 1897. 12'. On the verso of the same end-paper is a note by George Dunn [ -1912], and his initials 'G. D. Jan. 1900'. His Ex-libris is also pasted on the inside of the upper cover. Sold at Sotheby's (Ashburnham 'Appendix' Sale), 1/5/1899, Lot 21.


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Accession number

  • 32395