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Holmes Manuscripts


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Holmes's manuscripts, including collations of Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, and letters connected with the collations, 1789-1805. The manuscripts are all 18th-19th century, except for a 12th century fragment of a Latin manuscript containing Wisdom iii. 13-iv. 17.


  • Creation: 12th century, 1776-1820


17.93 Linear metres (163 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • Greek, Ancient (to 1453)
  • Latin
  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Holmes 1, fols. 1-2].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Holmes 1-149, 151-164

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 13029


Holmes Manuscripts

Biographical / Historical

Dr Robert Holmes was born in November 1748, and educated at Winchester and New College Oxford (matriculated 3 March 1767, BA 1770, MA 1774, BD 1787, DD 1789). He was fellow of his college, and from 1783 to 1793 Professor of Poetry at Oxford. In 1795 he was made Canon of Christ Church and in 1804 Dean of Winchester.

In 1788 he began the task of collating manuscripts of the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, and from 1789 to 1805 published annual accounts of the progress of the work, for which he obtained large subscriptions, and which was intended to elicit a text based on a collation of all known Greek manuscripts as well as old Versions in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian and Slavonic. In spite of interruptions, partly due to the disturbed state of affairs on the continent, Holmes and his collaborators amassed a great deal of material, and in 1798 Genesis was separately published, the work eventually comprising five folio volumes (1798, 1818, 1823, 1827, 1827), published at the Clarendon Press. After Holmes's death at Oxford, 12 November 1805, Dr James Parsons became editor. Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.


In the description of MSS. Holmes 1-142, a + following the number indicates that the volume now contains more items than when it came to the Library, - that it contains fewer. The discrepancy is to be accounted for by Holmes' and Parsons' power of borrowing the MSS., and the fact that the volumes remained unbound till 1894. An '&' between two numbers implies that the two collations are in one series, not separate.

The descriptions for a large number of items reference Holmes' Septuagint MSS. as listed on page 634 in the printed volume of the Summary Catalogue, e.g. 'in no. 75' refers to number 75 of the Septuagint MSS. The information from this list has been added in brackets proceeding these references at file level for clarity.

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. III, nos. 16455-16617.

The printed version of this Summary Catalogue includes these additional lists on pages 634-641:

  1. List of Dr. Holmes' Septuagint MSS. in order of his numbers
  2. MSS. to which Holmes attached no number
  3. List of Holmes' MSS. according to their place of deposit in his time: and their collators' names
  4. Order of the books of the bible in Holmes' edition of the Septuagint and as referred to in the foregoing catalogue

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Each March or April the collations of the previous twelve months were exhibited to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, and then deposited in the Bodleian, the editor being allowed to borrow them for the purposes of his work.

Holmes Manuscripts
Collection Level Description by Emily Tarrant; 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