St John’s College Aa.1.58(1) (formerly Hh.1.1) (James 505)

Edmund Dudley, ‘The Tree of Commonwealth’. English, c. 1600

Edmund Dudley (1462?-1510): ‘This Booke named the tree of Commonwealth was made by Edmund Dudley Esq. [late] Councellor to King Henrie the viith the same Edmund at the compilinge heareof beeing prisoner in the tower in the first yeare of King Henrie the viiith’. Incomplete, ends: ‘And when and houe all these fower fruites must needes bee used with the sauce’ (fo. 103v). A single page only is missing. The text is very close to Chetham Library MS 11376 and British Library, MS Harley 2204, as printed in the private-press 1859 edition of Dudley's work. See the edition of another variant of The Tree of Commonwealth prepared from British Library Add. MS 32091 by D. M. Brodie, Cambridge, 1948. The present MS is not noted in either publication.

Manuscript extra information

307x197 mm. 103 fos (18-128 137, modern foliation). Bound in the eighteenth century with nine printed works, published 1661-1735, all listed by Thomas Baker on the flyleaf; full details are in Frans Korsten, A Catalogue of the library of Thomas Baker (Cambridge, 1990). Also ‘Tho: Baker Coll: Jo: Socius ejectus’. Inside front cover is the number ‘12’ and another note in Baker’s hand: ‘Of Edm: Dudley, see Fuller’s Worthies in Staffordshire pag: 43, 44, who had not seen this Book’. The bookplate of George Baker, and also a small College bookplate (eighteenth century) inside front cover. George Baker (1723-74), of St John’s College, Thomas’s great-nephew, purchased a number of his great-uncle’s books from the executor, Richard Burton, in 1740.

Two distinct early seventeenth-century hands, changing at fo. 81r. Paper, cropped for binding with the loss of some marginal annotations. The front cover is much damaged, with the loss of some words from the title supplied in Baker’s hand. Pen flourishes throughout. Original eighteenth-century binding: leather on boards.