St John's College I.40 (James 331)

Elizabeth Elstob (transcr.), Anglo-Saxon Homily on St Cuthbert. English, Old English and Latin, 1709


Elizabeth Elstob (1683-1756), translator: An English-Saxon Homily on the Birth-Day of St Gregory: anciently used in the English-Saxon Church. Giving an account of the Conversion of the English from Paganism to Christianity (London: W. Bowyer, 1709). This copy of a printed work, which includes a Latin translation of the work by Elizabeth's brother William (1673-1715), is supplemented by a manuscript Homily on St Cuthbert, in Anglo-Saxon, in Elstob's hand. This begins: 'XIIJ Kal. Apl Deposito Sancti Cuthberhti Episcopi / Cuthberhtus se halga biscop / scinende on manegum ge earnungum'. See Benjamin Thorpe, Homilies of Aelfric (London, 1844), ii, 132. For Elstob see DNB and, inter alia, Margaret Ashdown, 'Elizabeth Elstob, the learned Saxonist', Modern Language Review 20 (1925), 125-46; Sarah H. Collins, 'The Elstobs and the end of the Saxon revival', in C. T. Berkhout and M. M. Gatch (eds), Anglo-Saxon scholarship: the first three centuries (Boston, 1982), 107-18; M. E. Green, 'Elizabeth Elstob: "The Saxon nymph" (1683-1756)', in J. R. Brink (ed.), Female scholars: a tradition of learned women before 1800 (Montreal, 1980), 137-60.

Manuscript extra information

225x145 mm. The MS runs to 24 pp. On rear of frontispiece, in Elstob's hand: 'To The Reverend Mr Baker at St Johns'. On the flyleaf, in Thomas Baker's hand: 'Homilia Saxonica scripta manu Doctissimae Foeminae Eliz: Elstob / In laudem et honorem Sti Cuthberti Patroni Ecclesiae Dunelmensis / Tho: Baker dedit Coll: Jo: Socius ejectus'. Baker's name does not feature in the lengthy list of subscribers to the printed book, but other members of St John's are there, notably John 'Bootel' (Bowtell, d. 1753) and Edward Browell (d. 1763).

Autograph, a fine hand, with some judicious rubrication. Paper, ruled margins, the text measuring 145x84 mm., 19-24 lines to the page. Contemporary binding: leather on boards, with gilt tooling, marbled end-papers. Label on Spine: 'Eng. Saxon Homily'.