Sermons in Manuscript

When Potter and Simpson produced their edition, seven manuscripts were known that contained sermons by Donne. Since their edition, three more have been discovered, as well as a manuscript which contains sermon notes taken from Donne. On this section of our website, The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne has produced full descriptions and transcriptions of all these manuscripts:

  • Royal: British Library Royal MS 17.B.xx
  • H1: British Library Harley 6946
  • H2: British Library Harley 6356
  • Ashmole: Bodleian Library MS Ashm. 781
  • Merton: Bodleian Library MS Eng. th. c. 71
  • Dowden: Bodleian Library MS Eng. th. e. 102
  • Ellesmere: Cambridge University Library MS Add. 8469
  • Dobell: Houghton Library, Harvard University MS Eng D66.4
  • Lothian: National Library of Scotland MS 5767
  • St Paul’s: St Paul’s Cathedral Library MS 52.D.14 (a.k.a. ‘Chetwode MS’)
  • Trinity College Dublin MS 419 (notes of sermons heard by John Burley 1625)

On this web page, basic descriptions are made available, as well as full transcriptions of all manuscripts. Transcriptions will be encoded in TEI-compliant XML (P5), and be freely available. You may navigate the manuscripts from the menu on the left. 

Note to Transcriptions: All manuscript transcriptions are diplomatic, and we aim to preserve as much as possible the character of each individual scribe, however idiosyncratic his or her scribal habits may be. All punctuation, capitalisation, and spelling is original in the manuscript. The following notes apply to all transcriptions. Information specific to one manuscript, or a particular scribe, may be accessed by clicking the 'MS Description' tab that heads each sermon transcription, where hands and scribal stints are described in more detail. 

  • Common abbreviations (e.g. for pro, per, par, ion, n, m, etc.) have been expanded, and these are indicated by means of square brackets: 'p[ar]t', or 's[er]vice'.
  • Where letters are inferred (in the case of cropped pages, or text lost in the gutter), these are indicated by means of curly brackets:  bella{r} de matri{m}.
  • In case of a marginal insertion (often accompanied by a scribal mark, such as an asterisk), the word is inserted in its proper place in the running text, and surrounded with carets: ^their^.
  • Where a deletion or strike-through has rendered a word illegible, this is indicated by a series of dots, approximately one for each illegible character (e.g. .......).
  • Blanks left by the scribe are visually indicated by a gap, and further described (length of characters) in the XML.
  • Where another hand intervenes in the text, often later readers providing additions or corrections, this is signalled by means of a light-grey background to the correction in question: 'you may bee pleasd'.
  • In the very special case of John Donne's own corrections to BL MS Royal 17.B.XX, this is signalled by means of a dark-grey background to the text, such as here where Donne deletes 'now here' and add the right reading, 'nowhere': nowhere now here.

Note to use: For all transcriptions published online, we have adopted shorthand titles which list where in OESJD the sermon will be found, as well as the biblical text (e.g. OESJD VIII.4; on Lam. 4.20).