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Suites for 3-4 viols and continuo


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Six part-books containing suites of airs for three and four parts with through bass, by various composers, all copied before binding, by the same hand, which before 1641 wrote MSS. Mus. Sch. c. 64-69. Probably copied between 1651, when Coleman became D.Mus., and 1669, when Rogers became D.Mus. (see attributions of nos. 14-16, 29-34. See also Crum 'Early lists' (p. 27), where the author surmises that these may have been the books for which Mr. Jackson received £1 from John Wilson, account dated 21 Aug 1657). Edward Lowe added music by Lully for treble, bass and through bass at the end of three of the part-books.

The parts are: (i) 'First Treble', (ii) 'Seconde Treble', (iii) 'Countertenor' (containing 4-part music only, paginated 171-370), (iv) 'Base', (v) '2 Base' and (vi) 'Through Base' (the contents of the last three books are the same, except errors). The pagination is the same in all six parts.

Not on the 1682 list of the Music School Collection. Lowe's no. '41' is written in ink on the cover of vi.

Six part-books (i-vi) of: viii + 380 pages (i), viii + 380 pages (ii), iv + 108 leaves paginated 171-370 (iii), viii + 378 leaves (iv), viii + 380 leaves (v) and viii + 378 leaves (vi). Watermark, Fleur de Lys, somewhat resembling Heawood 1732, but with pendant reversed 4 and monogram WR. Quiring irregular, commonly in fours. Ruled throughout with six staves to a page and red marginal ruling. Binding, brown calf with blind fillets and cover decoration as MSS. Mus. Sch. f. 568-569, and gold decoration on edges of boards, with green strings. Fragments of a Latin theological manuscript of the early part of the 15th cent. are in the bindings. Paper labels in Lowe's hand read 'Ayres'.


  • Creation: 1651-1669


0.30 Linear metres (6 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. Mus. Sch. e. 431, pp. 1-2].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Mus. Sch. e. 431-436

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 17532


Six part-books containing suites of airs for 3-4 viols and continuo, 1651-1669.

Biographical / Historical

Biographical details of the composers represented here can be found in Grove Dictionary of Music.

Other Finding Aids

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

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. 26570-26575.

Viola da Gamba Society Thematic index of music for viols [online] (VdGS)

RISM 800272139

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 acquired in 1677: ii and iii were 'Bought, and bound for the Musick Schoole 9th May 1677' and iv was 'Made, and bound by Mr. Short, 28 Feb. 1676/7 pre: 6s. 6d.'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was transferred to the Bodleian in 1885.


  • Andrew Ashbee, The harmonious musick of John Jenkins. Volume 1: The fantasias for viols (London: Toccata Press, 1992), p. 148.
  • Ashbee, Thompson and Wainwright, The Viola da Gamba Society index of manuscripts containing consort music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001-2008) [and online (VdGS)], vol. 2, pp. 187-197.
  • Margaret Crum, 'Early lists of Oxford Music School Collection', Music & Letters 48/1 (Jan 1967), pp. 23-34.
  • John Jenkins, Consort music of four parts, transcribed and edited by Andrew Ashbee. Music Britannica, XXVI. 2nd rev. ed. (London: Stainer & Bell, 1975) [MB 26].
  • William Lawes, The Royall consort, edited by David Pinto (London: Fretwork, 1995).
  • Williiam Lawes, Select consort music, transcribed and edited by Murray Lefkowitz. Musica Britannica, XXI. 2nd rev. ed. (London: Stainer Bell, 1971 [MB 21].


Oblong quarto

Suites for 3-4 viols and continuo
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