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Written by:
06 May 2019

Two important manuscripts from the College archives have recently been added to our growing collection on the Cambridge Digital Library.

Parker register

Parker’s list of books

The first is our copy of the Parker Register (THAR/7/1/13; James MS 29), a list of the books and manuscripts owned by Matthew Parker (1504-1575), and passed to the keeping of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Parker was Master of Corpus Christi from 1544 to 1553, and then Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. His books came to Corpus Christi under an indenture dated 1569 between Parker, Thomas Aldrich (Master of Corpus), John Caius (Master of Gonville and Caius) and Henry Harvey (Master of Trinity Hall).

These three colleges were chosen because they had close links to Norwich where Parker was born. Each College has a copy of the Register (they differ only slightly from each other) to serve as check lists for the annual audit (revived since 2004) of Parker’s books. If Corpus failed to take care of the books then they would pass first to Gonville and Caius and then to Trinity Hall if Caius was negligent. Luckily for Corpus, they have lost very little of Parker’s collection!

Our second archive item is The Master’s Statute Book (THAR/1/6; James MS20), which is really a collection of manuscripts which have been later bound together. The documents date from the 14th to the 18th century.

They include William Bateman’s (c1298-1355) founding statutes for Trinity Hall which laid down the rules for discipline and administration of the College. Instructions were also provided for the management of the library such as the chaining of books. When the College built a library 240 years after Bateman’s death, his instructions were carried out and it was created as a chained library. A list of books that Bateman donated to the library is appended to the statutes. These include 30 volumes of civil law, 33 of canon law, and 29 of theology.

Unfortunately, unlike the benefaction of Matthew Parker, most of Bateman’s books have long since disappeared. Bateman’s arms, sable, a crescent ermine, his paternal arms, with a bordure engrailed argent are included on page 21. These were adapted as the arms of Trinity Hall. It also includes a list of benefactions to the College.

These documents provide valuable insight into the history of Trinity Hall.


Cambridge, Corpus Christi College. (2019). MS 575: The Parker Register. Parker on the Web
Dale, A.W.W. (ed.) (1911). Warren’s Book . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.), pp 44-49.
Dickins, Bruce, (1972) ’The Making of the Parker Library’ (Sandars Lecture for 1968-9, 25 April 1969) Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 19-34
James, M. R. (1907). A descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the library of Trinity Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Page, R.I., (1981) The Parker Register and Matthew Parker’s Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1-11: