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An alchemist's commonplace book, Written in the 15th century in England

MS. Fairfax 22
Held at the Weston Library

  • Request

An alchemist's commonplace book, including:

  1. Fol. 1. the vision of Edward de Parvo Monte, which occurs also in MS. Ashmole 1384, fol. 93v, and with variants in MSS. Ashmole 1416, fol. 66v, and 1446, fol. 146, where it is ascribed to Edwardus philosophus: beg. 'Ego Edwardus fessus studendo et practizando in secretis philosophie'
  2. Fol. 3. alchemical recipes and short excerpts, as on fol. 9v, from John of Garland: beg. 'Ego igitur Ortolanus', followed by astronomical tables
  3. Fol. 13. 'Tractatus magistri Johannis Vienensis de perfecta et infallibili arte alkimie qui dicitur speculum elementorum. Incipit prologus. Gloria laus et honor', which is also in MS. Ashmole 1420, fol. 333
  4. Fol. 17. a piece on the quadrant headed 'Post composicionem chilindre nunc cuiusdam instrumenti horologici videlicet quadrantis ...'
  5. Fol. 18v. 'Opus iudei quod fecit pro domina de Pompeiaco Bernardus in Tholosa [? Pompéjac, dep. Gironde]', being recipes 'de venere' followed by further alchemical recipes: beg. 'Amalgema rubeum. Take i part of fyne golde'
  6. Fol. 24. some Arabic words with Latin equivalents
  7. Fol. 25v. miscellaneous excerpts, of which one ends 'Explicit alchimia magistri Alberti episcopi' (fol. 38v), but not as in MS. Ashmole 1451. ii, fol. 47v
  8. At fol. 47 is a paragraph from Arnoldus de Villa Nova: beg. 'De perfecta medicina'


  • Creation: Written in the 15th century in England


57 Leaves

Language of Materials

  • Multiple languages
  • Latin
  • English


MS. Fairfax 22

Other Finding Aids

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. II, no. 3902

Custodial History

About 1520 the book was owned by 'John Byrkbeck' (fol. 8, 12), chaplain, of Eamont Bridge in Westmorland, son of William Byrkbeck of the same. On fol. 6v is 'Iste liber constat Johanni Almyngham' (16th cent.).

Physical Facet

On paper


8 7/10 × 6 3/10 in.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom