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Special Collections

Description of Special Collection

Collection Level Description: Cosin Manuscripts
University Library

Collection Level Description: Cosin Manuscripts

Collection name: Cosin Manuscripts
Collection code: GB 033 COM
Date range: 11th-19th century, but mainly medieval
Extent: 118 volumes
Language: Latin; English; French
Created by: Largely John Cosin (1594-1672), Bishop of Durham, and George Davenport (ca. 1631-1677), collectors
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections

Largely medieval book manuscripts, but also includes a number of post-medieval volumes. The medieval book manuscripts (in Latin, medieval French, Middle English, and English) include theological, liturgical, legal, literary, historical, medical, scientific, and culinary texts, and some on political theory. The post-medieval manuscripts are mostly works of John Cosin (1594-1672), Bishop of Durham, and associates and contemporaries, and early records (shelf-lists, catalogues and borrowing registers) of Bishop Cosin's Library. Only a few of the medieval manuscripts came from Bishop Cosin himself. Most were collected by his chaplain George Davenport (d. 1677), Rector of Houghton-le-Spring, and a few came from other donors.
About the creator:
This collection forms part of Bishop Cosin's Library, Durham, which was founded in 1669 by John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, as an endowed public library. The library, still in its original building, now forms part of Durham University Library, and since 1937 the University of Durham has been its trustee.
In order of pressmark.
See administrative/biographical history above
Open for consultation.
Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.
1. Briefly described (except for the vols. of Library records) in Latin catalogue by Thomas Rud compiled in the early 18th century and published in appendix to Catalogi Veteres..., Surtees Society 7 (1838), pp.136-191 - online at The search room copy of Catalogi Veteres is annotated with brief details of a few manuscripts added or restored to the collection post-Rud.
2. The medieval manuscripts are covered by the "Draft Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts in the University Library" shelved in the Barker Research Library. An online list links to very rough versions of catalogue descriptions
3. Catalogue of the post-medieval manuscripts, including the volumes of library records for Bishop Cosin's Libary,
Other versions:
Master negatives of all the medieval manuscripts are held by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St. John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. 56321, U.S.A. Transatlantic requests for films of Cosin Manuscripts can most economically be supplied by Hill.
Durham University Library also has a complete set of negative films of the medieval manuscripts. These can be used to supply positive copies to applicants from this country and Europe. Films are black and white, but colour is available of many initials etc., on a separate reel and also made up as slides.
Doyle, A.I., "John Cosin (1595-1672) as a library maker", The book collector, 40 (1991), 335-57
Doyle, A.I., "The Cosin manuscripts and George Davenport", The book collector, 53 (2004), p.31-45.
Doyle, A.I., "Problems in recording the contents of the Cosin Manuscripts", in Middle English prose: essays in bibliographical problems ed. A.S.G. Edwards and D. Pearsall (New York, 1981), 65-80
Gee, Henry, "The correspondence of George Davenport, sometime Rector of Houghton-le-Spring", Archaeologia Aeliana, 3rd ser., 9 (1913), 1-10
Whiting, C.E., "Cosin's Library", Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, 9 pt 1 (1939), 18-32

Index terms

Cosin, John, 1594-1672.
Davenport, George, d. 1677.
Bishop Cosin's Library (Durham)
Library records.
Medieval manuscripts.
Libraries -- England -- History -- 17th century.
Manuscripts, Medieval.

Date last modified: 5 March 2015