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Savile Manuscripts


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The collection comprises various mathematical and scientific manuscripts in Greek, Latin, and English, as well as Savile's printed books.


  • Creation: 15th-17th century


6.72 Linear metres (62 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • Latin
  • English
  • Greek, Modern (1453-)

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Savile 1, fol. 1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Savile 1-52

Printed Books: Savile W. 9, X. 9, W. 14, X. 3, W. 12, T. 5, T. 7, T. 20, T. 16, V. 22, Aa. 3, Cc. 7, Aa. 13

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 18375


Savile Manuscripts

Biographical / Historical

Sir Henry Savile (1549-1622), though remembered most frequently as a mathematician, was also historian, antiquarian, and classical scholar, who as a man of learning won the admiration of Scaliger. Born at Bradley in Yorkshire, he came up to B.N.C. about 1561, but migrated to Merton as a Fellow in 1565. He rapidly distinguished himself in mathematics and Greek, but after 1578 he spent some years abroad and at court before returning to Oxford to become warden of Merton in 1585.

A persistent courtier, he also sought for and at length in 1596 obtained the provostship of Eton. His eight-volume folio edition of st. Chrysostom (1610-13)-to which the Old Catalogue alludes in describing Savile as 'sapientia excultissimus, eloquens, pius, et Chrysostomi sui omnino persimilis'-was his greatest literary undertaking, but it had little success, as a French edition, thought to be pirated, was produced almost simultaneously. His foundation in Oxford of the professorships of geometry and astronomy was completed by the gift of a mathematical chest, endowed with £100, and a mathematical library, of which the manuscript portion is catalogued below. In this Savile was no doubt encouraged by his friendship with Bodley, of whose will he was one of the 'overseers'.

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, nos. 6548-6615.

For a full description in English, see:Beeston, A. F. L, H. Ethé and E. Sachau, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (3 vols., Oxford, 1889-1953).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The MSS. were given by him in 1620 (Macray, Annals of the Bodleian, p. 23) for the use of his professors, in continuation of his previous benefactions of printed books.

6609 (61 sic) 'P. Nunnesii Algebra cum notis H. S', noted as "unidentified".

Related Materials

Of the printed books, as well as of sixteen astronomical instruments given to the Savilian museum by John and Thomas Graves, there are lists, not here reproduced, in the Old Catalogue at p. 302. Of the present sixty-eight MSS. in the Savile collection nos. 53-end are modern additions, and have been catalogued as MS. Savile 53-105, G. 18-20. No. 36671 contains fragments taken from the bindings of books in this section.

Savile Manuscripts
Collection Level Description and EAD version 2020 by Alice Whichelow
EAD version 2020
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom