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Digby Manuscripts


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Manuscripts collected by Digby, including manuscripts relating to Roger Bacon, astrology, astronomy, the Bible, medicine and theology.


  • 9th-17th century


244 shelfmarks

Language of Materials

Latin and English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Digby 1].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Digby 1-233, 234a-c, 235-237; Digby Rolls 1-5

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12838

Biographical / Historical

Sir Kenelm Digby was the younger son of Sir Everard Digby, who was executed in 1605 for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. He was born in 1603 and entered Gloucester Hall at Oxford in 1618, but left in 1620 and never took a degree. Until 1629 he was chiefly engaged in foreign travel, or as a naval commander. He lived a wandering life till he died on 11 June 1665.

Other Finding Aids

Full descriptions, in Latin, are in William D. Macray, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars nona codices a viro clarissimo Kenelm Digby, Eq. Aur., anno 1634 donatos, complectens: adiecto indice nominum et rerum (Oxford, 1883, reprinted with corrigenda and very extensive addenda by R.W. Hunt and A.G. Watson, Oxford, 1999).

Brief one-line descriptions, with shelfmarks and short titles, are in 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, nos. 1602-1839*, vol. V, nos. 30450-1, vol. VI, no. 33551.

The illuminated manuscripts in this collection are briefly described in O. P├Ącht and J.J.G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1966-73); with an unpublished supplement containing a concordance of shelfmarks and addenda (1974). Our best descriptions for medieval items in this collection are in Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries under MSS. Digby.

Custodial History

In 1632 Digby received by bequest from his College Tutor, the well-known Thomas Allen, the whole of the latter's collection of scientific and historical manuscripts, including several valuable volumes of Roger Bacon's works.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the manuscripts was given to the Bodleian by Digby, 1634-1639. MS. Digby 237 was given to the Library in 1905.
Digby Manuscripts
Emily Tarrant
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom