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Manuscripts in Wren Class O
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Manuscripts in Wren Class O

  • O.
  • Fonds
  • 18th–20th c.

Class O is the repository of the Gale collection of manuscripts, donated to the library in 1738 by Roger Gale, the son of Dr Thomas Gale. This collection was described in 1902 by M. R. James in the preface to volume III of his catalogue of Western manuscripts in Trinity College Library which may be viewed online at A searchable version of the James catalogue may be found online at

The manuscripts listed in this catalogue were placed in Class O in the Wren Library on shelves not otherwise occupied by the Gale collection. They consist of a mix of single items and small archival entities, with materials which form a part of larger collections housed elsewhere. It should be noted that there are gaps in the numbering scheme of items on the shelves, and that the cataloguing of these materials is a work in progress.

Trinity College Library, Cambridge

‘Borgia: a Tragedy’, a verse drama by Thomas Brown

Fair copy in an unidentified hand of a verse drama, with a title page with the title only. The play was printed privately in Edinburgh in 1874 under the title 'Borgia: a tragedy, and other poems' by Thomas Brown, of Waterhaughs and Lanfine.

Brown, Thomas (1802-1873) Laird of Lanfine and Waterhaughs

Letter from W. W. Greg to H. S. Bennett

Standlands, River, Petworth, Sussex.—Refers to his catalogue of English manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College (see O.11.5), and to his plan—long since abandoned—of compiling a corpus of all English manuscript works down to 1500.



Standlands, River, Petworth, Sussex
25 Sept. 1944

Dear Bennett

When I drew up that catalogue of 100 English MSS at Trinity, at the time I was librarian, I naturally hoped that the College might see its way to print it. Then came the last war and any idea of the sort had of course to be abandoned. By the time things settled down again I was busy in other fields, and moreover the catalogue I knew had become in some respects out of date. Had I examined it I should probably also have found it unsatisfactory. So I did no more about it and finally deposited the MS in the Library for the use of any one who might be interested. I need hardly say that it is at the disposal of you or of any body else who should be able to use it as a basis for further work.

During the last war I dreamed of compiling a corpus of all English manuscript works down to 1500. It would have been a big undertaking. I estimated, on a very rough basis, that there [are] some 5000 MSS surviving, exclusive of legal and diplomatic documents, private letters, and collections of recipes. I envisaged the work in three parts. (1) A catalogue, possibly roughly chronological, of the actuall† MSS, with full bibliographical descriptions, giving particular attention to the make-up and growth of the MSS when these were not written all at one time. (2) A catalogue of the works they contained, giving the MSS of each and such information as was possible concerning the relation of the MSS. (3) An atlas containing some hundreds of facsimiles of pages from the manuscripts, especially the dated or datable ones, with transcripts and palaeographical notes. I also had in mind a catalogue of all works to 1500 giving a brief literary account of each with and† specimen of some 50 lines transcribed exactly from the oldest or most authentic MS. An ambitious project! which I need not say I have long since abandoned.

Best wishes

W. W. Greg


Marked at the head in pencil, ‘Letter to H S Bennett, Emmanuel College, given by H S Bennett to Trinity College Library.’

Correspondence of Dawson Turner

General note

The volumes in this collection were made up and bound in a uniform style during Turner’s lifetime. Each has a printed title page and a table of contents, and some have collections of seal impressions mounted behind a hinged panel inside the front cover. The printed titles all begin, ‘LETTERS | CHIEFLY | ON LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC SUBJECTS, | ADDRESSED TO | DAWSON TURNER, | DURING THE YEAR’, the relevant year or period being printed below, with the following epigram: ‘Quemnam ego thesaurum amicorum epistolis permutare vellem? Epistolae sunt amicorum absentium colloquia; nec absentes modo per has adsunt, sed et mortui resuscitantur. Longo tamen post tempore legentibus afferunt amari lugubrisque multum, quamvis dulcedine non sine mira: per coemeterium amicorum bustis repletum, sed et violas rosasque ubique redolens, incedere videmur. AUCT. ANON.’ (Later volumes have ‘SCRIPT. INCERT.’ in place of ‘AUCT. ANON.’)

Inside the front cover of each volume is a printed bookplate bearing the following text: ‘BIBLIOTHECAE | COLL. SANCT. ET INDIV. TRIN. CANTAB. | DONAVIT | ELEANORA JOANNA JACOBSON, | DAWSONI TURNER FILIA, | ET | GULIELMI EPISCOPI CESTRENSIS VIDUA. | A.D. 1890.’

Note on the present volume

On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.-DEC. | 1790–1801’. There are two title pages, one for the years 1790–9, the other for the years 1800–1, and two tables of contents which correspond, except that some entries for 1800 are in the first table and one entry for 1799 is in the second. Dawson Turner has added pencil dates at the head of most of the letters which are either undated or dated at the end.

Turner, Dawson (1775–1858), banker, botanist, and antiquary

Table of contents, 1790–1800

(The entries for 1790–9 are grouped by year and arranged either in chronological order (1790–3) or in alphabetical order of correspondent (1796–9), while the entries for 1799 and 1800 are mixed together in alphabetical order. Entries for Nos. 21–5 (letters from Turner to his mother) were added at the end in the same hand as the rest of the Index, and a few entries were added later by Dawson Turner.

There are a number of errors and omissions. No. 49 is listed under the year 1798. No. 55 is dated 3 June, though the month may have been altered from ‘Jan.’ No. 88 is listed twice, because the letter contains two dates, one of which is probably wrong. No. 92 is dated 28 Mar. and listed under the year 1798. No. 95 was listed in the second table under the year 1800. No. 106 is dated 16 Sept. 1799, following the date at the head of the letter, but an earlier passage occurs later. No. 108 is assigned to Hugh (not John) Davies. The engravings, Nos. 87a and 109a, are not listed.)

Table of contents, 1800–1

(Most of the entries for 1800 and 1801 are grouped by year and arranged in alphabetical order, but there are some additional entries for both years at the end. There are some errors and omissions: No. 93 is listed under the year 1800; No. 133 is dated 25 May; and there are no entries for Nos. 123, 129, 151, 151a, 158, or 201.)

Letter from Sir Herbert Croft to Mr Bush


Monday, 9 Decr 1799.

Sir Herbert Croft returns Mr Bush the vol. of Johnson containing the life of Young, with many thanks. He will thank Mr B. to say to Mr Turner, the banker, that, from what he has heard of him in different quarters here, it wd afford Sir H. C. much pleasure to have the honour of making the acquaintance of Mr Turner, & to show him something that he is writing. But he, first, wishes Mr Turner to look at a book he publish’d on the continent; {1} that he may see, by that & by the french dedication at the end to Sir H. C., how he has employ’d his time abroad; &, by the copy of Bishop Douglas’s letter at the beginning, that he has no occasion to blush for what drove him abroad.—On account of his situation (w[hic]h he trusts will end very shortly, when Lord & Lady Dysart & Lady Croft come from the Isle of Wight to Helmingham in Suffolk), Sir H. C. wishes the liberty he has thus taken with Mr Turner not to be known; especially, too, as the jealousy of others, here, might take offence.


{1} A Letter from Germany to the Princess Royal of England on the English and German Languages (1797).

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