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The 'Iles' part-books: music for viols and lyra viols

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MSS. Mus. Sch. d. 245-247 (Former reference: Music School B. 4. 1-3)

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Three instrumental part-books containing nearly 450 pieces for one, two and three viols, including music for one, two and three lyra viols written in tablature. Among the composers whose works are included are Charles Coleman, Giovanni Coperario [J. Coprario], Alfonso Ferrabosco II, Thomas Ford, Orlando Gibbons, Tobias Hume, Simon Ives, John Jenkins, Thomas Lupo, Thomas Morley, Daniel Nercum [Norcombe], John Oker and Thomas Tomkins. The name 'William Iles' [Isles] is inscribed in each volume but the music was copied principally by John Merro of Gloucester (d 1639), probably over a considerable period. The arrangement is not entirely methodical and he did not assign a book to a part. In MS. Mus. Sch. d. 245, pp. 284-285, is a summary in Merro's hand of Samuel Hoard's Gods love to Mankind, 1633. For detailed lists of contents, see Ashbee et al. VdGS index of manuscripts and RISM 800271631.

1-80: Pieces for two instruments in i and ii. The pagination agrees in both volumes on pp. 1-66.

1-12. Music for two lyra viols, tuning not indicated, in tablature. Pp. 1-11. Nos. 1-2 (pp. 1-2) are the two parts of Byrd's 'Ne irascaris'; no. 3 (p. 3) is 'Mall Simes'. Nos. 4-12 are numbered 2-10.

13-30. Unascribed pieces for 2 bass viols in staff notation. Pp. 13-22. Nos. 18-30 are numbered 1-13. No. 14 (p. 14) is for viols with organ by Coperario [VdGS 5]; nos. 15-16 (pp. 15-16) are for viols with organ by Ward [VdGS 1-2].

31-54. Music for 2 bass viols, 'Leero sett', in tablature. Pp. 23-40. Nos. 31-38 (pp. 23-28) are by A. Ferrabosco, published in Lessons for 1. 2. and 3 viols (1609), pp. 26-29. Nos. 33 and 36-38 (pp. 25, 27-28) are here attributed to him. No. 39 (p. 29) is attributed to Michael East. Nos. 40-54 are by Thomas Ford, published in a different order in his Musicke of Sundrie Kindes (1607), lessons 1-3, 5-9, 11-16, 18.

55-58. 4 unascribed pieces in D minor [VdGS 470-473] for two bass viols in staff notation. Pp. 41-42.

59-70. 12 pieces for two bass viols, [Ferrabosco II] 'Alfonso sett', tuning '5ts', in tablature. Pp. 43-50. Another version of no. 59 (p. 43) is no. [275] 41 in the series 235-280 below. No. 61 is a Coranto attributed to (or acquired from (?)) Jo. Sherley. Nos. 60 and 70 (pp. 43 and 50) are different versions of the same piece.

71. 'Symon Ivy' [Ives]. Piece for two viols, tuning '8ts', in tablature. Another copy is 'k. 10' in the series 235-280 below. i, p. 50; ii, p. 58.

72-80. [A. Ferrabosco II]. 9 pieces for two bass viols [VdGS 191 (x2), 193, 195-199], tuning '8ts', in tablature, numbered 1-9. No. 8 is by T. Gregory [VdGS 52b]. Pp. 51-57.

81. [A. Ferrabosco]. Piece for 3 bass viols [VdGS 201], in tablature, published in his Lessons, 1609 (p. 32). i, ii, p. 59; iii, fol. 4.

82. 'Pavin A. F[errabosco]', for 3 bass viols [VdGS 155], in tablature, published in his Lessons, 1609 (p. 33). i, ii, p. 60, iii, fol. 4v.

83-86. [A. Ferrabosco II]. 'Leero' for 3 bass viols [VdGS 121-124], in tablature. i, ii, pp. 60-64; iii, fols. 5-6v.

87-88. 2 pieces for 3 bass viols in G minor [VdGS 495-496], in staff notation. i, ii, pp. 65-66; iii, fol. 8. No. 88 is incomplete, the same part being copied in i and iii.

89-94. 6 pieces for 2 bass viols [VdGS 474-478, -], in staff notation, numbered 1-6. i, pp. 66-70; ii, pp. 67-72. No. [94] 6 is Morley's 'Go ye my canzonets'.

95-108. 14 pieces for three bass viols [by Tobias Hume, published in his Poeticall Musick (1607) [VdGS 13, 1, 19, 15, 18, 10, 5, 16, 23, 3, 22, 9, 8, 14]. Two lyra viols in tablature, i, pp. 71-82 and ii, pp. 73-83; the bass part in staff notation, iii, fols. 9-12v.

109-117: 'Mr. Morley his songs for 3 base [sic] violls' [VdGS 1-9], in staff notation, numbered I-IX, published in his Canzonets (1593). i, treble, pp. 83-91; ii, treble, pp. 84-92; iii, bass, fols. 13-17:

109. I. See mine own sweet jewel.

110. II. Joy doth so arise.

111. III. Lady those eyes.

112. IV. Cruel.

113. V. Hold out my heart.

114. VI. Good morrow fair ladies.

115. VII. Whither away so fast.

116. VIII. Cease mine eyes.

117. IX. Thirsis.

118-119. John Oker. 2 [fantazias] for 2 trebles and bass [VdGS 7-8], copied again in his set of 10, nos. 352-361 below. i, treble, p. 94; ii, treble, p. 93; iii, bass, fol. 17v.

120-122. [J. Coperario]. 3 fantazias for 2 trebles and bass [VdGS 1, 2, 4]. i, treble, pp. 149-150; ii, treble, pp. 94-95; iii, bass, fols. 18-19.

123-131. [Orlando] Gibbons. 9 fantazias [VdGS 1-9], as published c 1610. i, treble, pp. 95-103; ii, tenor and treble, pp. 96-104; iii, bass, fols. 19-23.

132. Three parts only of Byrd's 4-part fantasia [VdGS 1]. i, treble, p. 104; ii, tenor, p. 105; iii, bass, fol. 23v.

133-170: Music for solo viols.

133-154. 22 pieces, [tuning 5ts] in tablature. i, pp. 106-133. Nos. 135, 140-142, 145-147 are by 'Jo She[rlie]' [VdGS 12-17] (pp. 113-115, 118-123); no. 139 is by W. Corkine [VdGS 15] (p. 112); nos. 133-134 are by Daniel Farrant [VdGS 3-4] (pp. 116-117). The last piece is 'Bonny sweet Robin' (p. 133).

155. 'A saraband by Ed. Colledge. Harp sett' [VdGS 1], in tablature. Copied later, i, p. 132.

156-160. 5 preludes for treble viol, in staff notation [VdGS 361-365], ii, pp. 107-116.

161. [Prelude] for tenor or bass viol, in staff notation [VdGS 366]. ii, pp. 117-118.

162-168. Preludium and 8 other pieces, in tablature [VdGS 6585-6591]. ii, pp. 119-126.

169-170. 2 pavanes [divisions], in tablature [VdGS 6592-6593]. ii, pp. 127-130.

171-174: Bass divisions:

171. 'John Withy' [VdGS 24]. i, in tablature, pp. 194-195; ii, bass in staff notation, pp. 131-2.

172. 'Daniell Nercum' [Norcombe]. [On Tregian's ground, VdGS 13], in staff notation, ii, pp. 133-134.

173. [Palestrina, arr.] Alfonso [Ferrabosco]. 'Sound out my voyce' [VdGS 367], in staff notation. ii, pp. 135-137.

174. Anon., in staff notation [VdGS 369]. ii, pp. 138-140.

175-183a. Incomplete parts for 6 pavanes with galliards for treble to a ground [VdGS 71-77], numbered 1-6, in staff notation. i, grounds for nos. 1-4, pp. 92-93; ii, treble, pp. 140-159. No. [177], pavane 2, has no galliard.

183b. Pavane for tenor [VdGS 80] no. 6 of the set above], in staff notation. ii, pp. 160-161.

184-219. Solo lyra viol music in tablature. iii, fols. 24-35v. All are tuned '8ts' except no. 84, 'Pavin Mr. Alfonsoe' [Ferrabosco II] (fol. 24), which is in '5ts'. Nos. 186-188 (fols. 24v-25) and 201-202 (fol. 31v) are published in Ferrabosco's Lessons (1609), pp. 34, 20 and 17. Other composers identified are: J. Dowland (fols. 25v-26), D[aniel] N[orcombe] (fols. 26v-28), Crosbey (fol. 29), S. Ives (fol. 30), R[obert] T[aylor] (fols. 32-33) and T. Gregorie (fols. 32v-35v).

220-234. Thomas Tomkins. 15 3-part fantazias [VdGS 1-15]. i, 'Altus', pp. 134-148; ii, '2nd treble', 'Tenor and '2nd Base', pp. 161-175; iii, bass, fols. 36-43.

235-280. 46 numbered pieces for two lyra viols, various tunings, in tablature. i, pp. 151-157; ii, pp. 176-194. The first 20 are also lettered 'A' to 'U'. 'E, 5' and 'F, 6' are the same piece, parts exchanged; 'J, 9' is 'See the building', published by Playford Musicks Recreation on the Viol, Lyra-Way (1669); 'K, 10' (the same as no. 71 above), 'L, 11' ('Humors') and 'M, 12' are attributed to Simon Ives; 'N, 13' 'U, 20' and 24 are attributed to W. Cramford or Cramforth; '0, 14' and 'P, 15' are attributed to Jo. Maynard. Nos. 22-23 and 35 are attributed to Jo. Bosley [Besley?]. No. 26 is attributed to Mr. Woodington. Nos. 32-33 are Galliard and 'Redes pavin [to the galliard]'.

281. Simon Ives. [Suite] for 2 lyra viols [VdGS 161], tuning '5ts', in tablature. i, pp. 170-171; ii, pp. 195-196.

282-300. 19 solo lyra viol pieces, various tunings, in tablature. iii, fols. 43v-49. Names are on fol. 44, 'Westleys Galliard'; fol. 47, 'Robin Hood', and fol. 48, 'J. Shee[rlie]' [Sherlie]. An air and almain by T. Gregorie [VdGS 37, 34] are on fols. 43-44.

301-322: 19 3-part pieces in staff notation:

301. J. Coperario. Fantazia numbered 1 [VdGS 10]. i, tenor, p. 172; ii, treble, p. 197; iii, bass, fol. 49v.

302. Thomas Tomkins. Fantazia numbered 2 [VdGS 16]. i, tenor, p. 173; ii, treble, p. 198; iii, bass, fol. 50.

303-309. Lupo. Fantazias numbered 3-9 (only no. 7 is ascribed) [VdGS 2-5, 14-15, 8]. i, various instruments, pp. 174-178; ii, treble, pp. 199-203; iii, tenor and treble, fols. 50v-52v. A second copy of parts of 8 is on i, p. 183 and ii, p. 208.

310-317. Dance movements for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 1-8:

310-313. Jenkins. Dance movements for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 1-4 [VdGS (a4) 19, 18, 20, (a3) 68]. i, bass, pp. 178-180; ii, treble, pp. 204-205; ii, treble, fols. 52v-53v.

314. Simon Ivy [Ives]. Alman for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 5. i, bass, p. 180; ii, treble, p. 206; iii, treble fol. 53v.

315. Jenkins. Alman for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 6, [VdGS (a4) 34]. i, bass, p. 180; ii, treble, p. 206; iii, treble, fol. 53v.

316. [W. Lawes]. Alman for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 7 [VdGS 320]. i, bass, p. 181; ii, treble, p. 206; iii, treble, fol. 54.

317. [Jenkins]. Alman for 2 trebles and bass, numbered 8 [VdGS (a4) 4]. i, bass, p. 181; ii, treble, p. 206; iii, treble, fol. 54.

318. [Coranto / galliard?] for 2 trebles and bass. i, treble, p. 181, ii, bass, p. 208; iii, treble, fol. 54.

319. [T. Lupo]. 'A Fancie for 3 base violls' [VdGS 15] and 'Fantasia for 3 treble violls' [VdGS [26]]. i, p. 182-183; ii, p. 207-208; iii, fol. 55v, [52].

320-323: Treble songs with unfigured bass:

320. [N. Giles]. 'O heare my praier Lorde' [O hear my prayer Lord]. iii, fol. 54v.

321. [N. Giles]. 'O Lord make haste' [2nd part of no. 320]. iii, fol. 55a.

322. [N. Lanier]. 'Fier, fier, loe heare I burne' [Fire, fire, lo here I burn]. Words by E. Campion, published in Playford's Select Ayres and Dialogues (1669)]. iii, fol. 55av.

323. 'Greev'd with my paine' [Grieved with my pain]. iii, fol. 55b.

324-325: Lyra viol solos in tablature:

324. 'Mr. Jenkins'. Alman [VdGS 447]. Solo, tuning '8ts'. i, p. 184; duplicate, ii, p. 217.

325. 'Mr. [W.] Lawes'. 'Coranto' [VdGS 545]. i, p. 185; duplicate, ii, p. 217.

326-344. Almans and Ayres for bass and treble, in staff notation, numbered 1-19. i, treble, pp. 184-191; ii, bass, pp. 210-215, 225. Nos. 1-2, 10-11, 13-14, 16 [326-327, 335-336, 338-339 and 341] are by John Jenkins; nos. 3-4 (328-329) by Alfonso [Ferrabosco II]; nos. 5-9, 12, 15 [330-334, 337, 340] by Charles Coleman; nos. 17-19 [342-344] were added at a different times, no. 17 (342) being by Stephen Thomas [VdGS 709] and no. 18 [343] by John Adson [VdGS 19], published in his Courtly Masquing Ayres (London, 1621), no. 19.

345a/b. Daniel Nercum [Norcombe]. Divisions on a ground for solo bass [VdGS 4]. i, tablature, pp. 192-193; ii, staff notation, pp. 209-210. The piece is slightly different in MS. Mus. Sch. d. 246 (ii), where the ground is in two halves, the second of which is not in MS. Mus. Sch. d. 245 (i).

346-351: 6 pieces for solo lyra viol, in tablature:

346. Simon Ives [VdGS 155]. ii, p. 215.

347. Simon Ives. 'The Widdow' [VdGS 159]. ii, p. 216.

348. Simon Ives. 'Mr. Whitlock's Coranto' [VdGS 162]. ii, p. 216.

349. Mr. Jenkins. Another copy of no. 324 above [VdGS 447]. ii, p. 217.

350. Mr. [William] Lawes. Another copy of no. 325 above [VdGS 545]. ii, p. 217.

351. [W. Lawes]. Coranto [VdGS 546]. ii, p. 218.

352-361. Mr. John Oker. Fantazias for 2 trebles and bass [VdGS 1-10], in staff notation, numbered 1-10. i, treble, pp. 196-9 (no. 10 is lacking); ii, bass, pp. 219-223; iii, treble, fols. 56v-59.

362-363. 2 duos for treble and bass, in staff notation. ii, bass, pp. 223-234; iii, treble, fols. 59v-60. No. 362 is by C. Herwich [VdGS 31].

364-377. 14 dance movements for solo lyra viol, various tunings, in tablature. i, pp. 200-207. No. 366 is by S. Colledge [VdGS 1]; nos. 369, 371, 375 and 379 are by J. Jenkins [VdGS 234, 235, 398 and 249].

378-393: 2-part dances:

378-387: Movements for treble and bass, in staff notation, numbered 1-10. i, treble, pp. 208-211; ii, bass, pp. 226-228. Nos. 1-6 are by Jenkins; no. 7, though ascribed to Hartwell, is actually by Jenkins; no. 9 is by Coleman [VdGS 13]; no. 10 is by W. Lawes [VdGS 201].

388-393: [S. Ives]. 6 dances, in staff notation [VdGS 1-6]. i, treble, pp. 211-212; ii, bass, pp. 229-230.

394-400: Pieces for two and three viols, in staff notation unless otherwise described:

394. 'Mr Cutinge'. i, tenor, in tablature, pp. 212-313; ii, bass, p. 230.

395. 'Mr. Johnson'. i, tenor, in tablature, p. 213; ii, bass, p. 230.

396. 'Mr. Jenkins'. Almane [VdGS A/3/61]. i, treble, p. 214; ii, bass, p. 231; iii, treble, fol. 60v.

397. 'Mr. Ives'. 'The Wagge' [VdGS a4 25]. i, treble, p. 214; ii, bass, p. 231; iii, treble, fol. 60v.

398-400. Three 2-part almanes [VdGS 713-715]. i, treble, p. 215; ii, bass, pp. 231-232.

401. 'For the lute set and leero violl' [VdGS 8283]. i, bass, staff notation, p. 216; ii, lyra, tablature, p. 232.

402-412. 11 pieces for 3 lyra viols by J. Coperario [VdGS 1-11], in tablature. i, pp. 218-229; ii, pp. 233-244; iii, fols. 61v-67v.

413-414. 2 pieces in tablature. The first, by A. Ferrabosco [VdGS 372], is copied again as no. 422 below; the second is [Tallis's] 'O sacrum convivium', copied again as no. 421 below. iii, 67v-71.

415-423. 9 pieces for solo bass viol, in staff notation, with one for treble and bass:

415. [Prelude] in G minor [VdGS 369]. ii, pp. 245-246

416. 'Vidi pianger madona' [based on Ferrabosco I's 'I saw my lady weep']. ii, pp. 247-249

417. [Air or prelude] in G minor [VdGS 313]. ii, pp. 249-250.

418. 'Daniell Nercum' [Norcombe]. 'Cormacks Almaine' [VdGS 5]. ii, p. 251-252.

419. 'Sr Thomas Brooks Pavin' [VdGS 314]. ii, pp. 252-253.

420. [Galliard for treble and bass], in score. ii, p. 253.

421. [Tallis]. 'O sacrum convivium', as no. 414 above]. ii, p. 253-236.

422. 'Alfonsos' [VdGS 372]. ii, pp. 256-259.

423. 'Cuttings Galliard' [VdGS 1]. ii, pp. 259-262.

424-449: Music for two trebles and bass copied by another hands in staff notation:

424-448. 25 dances by John Jenkins [including VdGS Newberry Airs 11, 12, 10, 32, 22, 30, 23]. i, treble, pp. 230-238; ii, bass, pp. 264-21; iii, treble, fols. 72-76.

449. 'Mr. Dearinge' [Dering]. [Alman]. i, treble, p. 239; ii, bass, p. 271; iii, treble, fol. 76v.


  • Creation: 17th cent., before 1639


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Mus. Sch. d. 245, pp. 1-2].

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


MSS. Mus. Sch. d. 245-247 (Former reference: Music School B. 4. 1-3)

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 17536


Three part-books containing nearly 450 pieces for one, two, and three viols, including music for one, two and three lyra viols written in tablature, mid-17th cent.

Biographical / Historical

Alfonso Ferrabosco II (c 1575-1628) was a composer and viol player. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

Thomas Ford (d 1648) was a composer and viol player. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) was a composer and keyboard player. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

Simon Ives (1600-1662) was a string player, singer and composer. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

John Jenkins (1592-1678) was a composer. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

John Merro (d 1639) was a singing man at Gloucester Cathedral, from at least 1609, and is known to have copied three extant sets of part-books: New York Public Library MSS. Drexel 4180-4185, British Library Add. MS. 17795 and Bodleian Library MSS. Mus. Sch. D. 245-247. See the bibliography for references to further information.

Daniel Norcombe [Nercum] (?1576-1653) was a composer and instrumentalist. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

John Okeover [Oker] (d 1663) was an organist and composer. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) was an organist and master of the choristers of St. David's Cathedral. See the Grove Music Online for further details.

Other Finding Aids

Robert Hake, [Catalogue of the Music School Collection], c 1850-1855. No. CX.

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. V, nos. 26532-26534.

RISM 800271631

Custodial History

This item is part of the Music School collection of printed and manuscript music, which was originally bequeathed to the University of Oxford by William Heather (c 1563-1627), and gradually added to until the end of the 18th century. The present manuscript was owned by William Iles, 1673. Sent by him with 7 other books to Dr Fell, Dean of Christ Church, 'for the use of the publicke Musick Scoole in Oxford' according to E. Lowe's inscription in each volume.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was transferred to the Bodleian in 1885.


  • Andrew Ashbee, 'Lowe, Jenkins and Merro', Music & Letters, xlviii (1967), pp. 310–311.
  • Ashbee, Thompson and Wainwright, The Viola da Gamba Society index of manuscripts containing consort music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001-2008) [and online (VdGS)], vol. 1, pp. 139-166.
  • Peter Holman, Four and twenty fiddlers: the violin at the English court, 1540-1690, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 205-211.
  • John Sawyer, An anthology of lyra viol music in Oxford, Bodleian manuscripts Music School D.245-7, (PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 1972).
  • Pamela J. Willetts, 'Music from the Circle of Anthony Wood at Oxford', British Museum Quarterly, xxiv (1961), 71-75, pp. 73-74.

Physical Facet

Three instrumental parts (i-iii), iv + 294, iv + 288 pages and i + 102 leaves respectively. Quiring normally in fours, but i includes two, and ii three, scattered gatherings of eight. Watermark, coat of arms, not in Heawood. Ruling was done according to need, and blank pages remain at the ends of the volumes. Binding, brown calf with central gold floral device, blind fillets enclosing gold fillets, formerly tied with green strings. i was numbered 9, ii, 8, and iii, 10.


Upright quarto

The 'Iles' part-books: music for viols and lyra viols
EAD version 2019
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom