St John's College MS K.58 (James 543)

George Ashby, Critical remarks on various authors. Latin, English and French, 1760s-80.


'Critical remarks on various authors by the Rev. George Ashby, B.D. President of St John's College, Cambridge, and Rector of Barrow, Suffolk.' Ashby (1724-1808) was an antiquary and served as president of St John's 1767-75 (see ODNB).

This volume comprises extensive notes by Ashby taken from various printed sources, many relating to Roman coins, medals and inscriptions, and to topography. A 'list of authors whose writings are observed upon' is given on folio 1. The most extensive series of notes are taken from Joseph Nicolson and Richard Burn's The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland (fos 26-113) and from an encyclopedia (fos 154-269). The notes are dated, covering the 1760s through to 1780, although they are not arranged in chronological order. The volume contains some printed material: a memoir of Ashby extracted from Nichols' Literary anecdotes (following the title-page) and 'A dissertation on a singular coin of Nerva, in a letter to Matthew Duane, Esquire, from the Reverend Mr Ashby, B.D. Rector of Barrow, c. Suffolk, and F.S.A.', read at the Society of Antiquaries 22 May 1772 (bound between fos 315 and 316).

The volume contains some correspondence. At fos 16-21 are letters, dated Feb. 1774, from Ashby to Daines Barrington (1727/8-1800) regarding an inscription. At folio 347 is a letter from John Swinton (1703-77), dated 31 May 1763 and read at the Royal Society 29 March 1764, regarding an Etruscan coin. At fos 115-116 is a fragment of an undated letter from Dr Cardale to Ashby discussing hieroglyphs.

In addition to the above, MS K.58 contains letters and other items of interest relating to Ashby's time as a fellow and president of St John's. At folio 24 is a printed form, with names supplied in manuscript, dated 12 Oct. 1771, identifying 'Monitores inter discip, pensionar, sizatores', 'Lectores Biblii et cantatores in sacello', 'Lector Biblius in aula', 'Dispensatores', and 'Ministri inter discip'. The letters, in Latin, are pleas for Ashby's support from candidates for scholarships and fellowships at St John's. They are undated but appear to date mostly from Ashby's tenure of the presidency, i.e. 1767-75, since he is frequently addressed as praeses. The authors generally give their surname and county.

f.13v George Belgrave (scholar, BA 1770, fellow 1772-88), dated 1 Nov.
f.114v Joseph Walcam (scholar 1773, BA 1777). Fragment only.
f.118v William Chafy (scholar, BA 1766)
f.121v Edward Frewen (scholar, BA 1769, fellow 1769-89)
f.122v Christopher Hull (scholar 1764, BA 3rd wrangler 1765, fellow 1769-84)
f.124v Henry Hetley (BA 1767, fellow 1769-84)
f.126v Thomas Kipling (BA senior wrangler 1768, fellow 1769/1771, lampooned for his bad Latin. See ODNB)
f.129v Bernard? Turner (BA 1768)
f.130v Francis Fitchatt (scholar, BA 1768, fellow 1769-76)
f.132v Samuel Ryder Weston (BA 1767, fellow 1769-84)
f.151v Nicholas Lechmere Grimwood (BA 1772)
f.153v Richard Blakeway (BA 9th wrangler 1772, fellow 1772-6)
f.155v William Arnald (scholar, BA senior wrangler 1766, fellow 1767)
f.162v William Colchester (scholar, BA 1764, MA 1767)
f.267v Lewis Hughes (BA senior wrangler 1770, fellow 1773-84)
f.275v Thomas Drake (scholar, BA 1768, fellow 1769)
f.277v Harry? Grove (scholar, BA 1768, fellow 1769)
f.316v Thomas Johnson (scholar 1767, BA 1772)
f.322v Richard Raikes (scholar 1762, BA 10th wrangler 1767, fellow 1767-75)
f.323v Thomas Sedgewick Whalley (BA 1767. See ODNB)
f.324v John Carr (scholar, BA 5th wrangler 1767, fellow 1768, tutor)
f.327v William Pearce (scholar, BA 3rd wrangler 1767, fellow 1768-88, president 1781-7, orator 1778-88, master of Jesus 1789-1820, vice-chancellor 1789-90 and 1806-7)
f.332v William Colchester (scholar, BA 1764, MA 1767)
f.333v John Wise (BA 1767, elected fellow 1768 but died before being admitted)
f.335v Samuel Ryder Weston (BA 1767, fellow 1769-84)
f.337v John Yale (BA 1767, fellow 1767-81)
f.340v William Sheepshanks (scholar 1765, BA 4th wrangler 1766, fellow 1767-84)
f.351v Thomas Cockshutt (scholar 1767, BA 10th wrangler 1772, fellow 1773-92)
f.354v John Taylor (BA 1768)
f.362v James Ives (adm. 1766, died 1769 without taking his BA)

This volume also contains fragments of what appear to be academic exercises.
f.145v Greek quotation from 2 Kings 20:10 followed by a Latin text signed Fiske i.e. Robert Fiske (scholar 1768, BA 1772, fellow)
f.147v Latin verses with Greek headings.
f.314v, 315v Latin essay signed Simpson and dated 4 May 1767 i.e. David Simpson (scholar 1765, BA 1769. See ODNB)
f.350v Greek quotation from Genesis 1:14 followed by a Latin text signed Webster 13 Feb. i.e. James Webster (BA 1770, fellow 1774-93)
f.355v Greek quotation from Deuteronomy 27:16 followed by a Latin text signed Fiske i.e. Robert Fiske (scholar 1768, BA 1772, fellow)

Manuscript extra information

350 x 220mm. 369 folios + some blanks and printed matter. A mixture of different paper. The notes are mostly in Ashby's hand but there are several other hands present. Binding: 19th-century half binding of red leather and marbled paper over boards; gold-tooled fillets on spine; two black labels on spine with gilt lettering reading 'Remarks on various authors &c &c' and 'By the Revd. G. Ashby St John's Col. Cambridge'; paper ticket on spine bearing the number 71.

This volume was formerly in the possession of the antiquary and astronomer John Lee (formerly Fiott) (1783-1866). His inscription – 'J Lee. Doctors Commons. No. 106 of Mr Thorpes catalogue of 1200 MS published in 1832' – and bookplate, with motto Verum atque decens, are inside the front board. The volume was purchased by Sir Robert Forsyth Scott (1849-1933) and was given to the library by him in 1921 (book label inside front board).