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Collection of romances and religious material, mostly in verse, written in the North Midlands by Richard Heeg with some items by James Hawghton and additions in other hands.

Identifier: Adv.MS.19.3.1

Scope and Contents

The contents of the manuscript are as follows:

(i) ‘The Hunting of the Hare` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 973) (folio 1), followed by a mock sermon in prose (folio 7 verso) and nonsense verses (folio 10 verso) (the latter ‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 3425, both printed in ‘Reliquiae Antiquae’, volume 1, pages 82-84). See ‘The “Hunting of the Hare” in the Heege Manuscript’. Written by Richard Heeg.

(ii) `Sir Gowther` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 973) (folio 11), followed by ‘Stans puer ad mensam’, i.e. ‘Urbanitas’ (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 4153), lacking verses 1-2 (folio 28). Signed by Heeg (folio 29 verso).

(iii) ‘The marriage of St Catherine’, the first part of the prose life (folio 30). Signed by Heeg (folio 47). The title (replacement for the original, which has been trimmed) is ‘Vita Margarite’ corrected to `Vita Caterine’. Another hand has added a form of indulgence (folio 47 verso).

(iv) `Sir Isumbras` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1184) (folio 48), followed by `The Lay-Folk`s Mass Book`, 11.1-130 (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 3507) (folio 57), a carol (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 340) (folio 59), nonsense verses (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1116) (folio 60), a stanza from John Lydgate`s `Fall of Princes`, book 2, 11.4432-4438 (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 674) (folio 61 verso), proverbs (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 3083, 3088) (folio 61 verso), terms on hunting and carving game (folio 62), and two short poems (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1032, 1772) (folios 65-66). Signed by Heeg (folios 56 verso, 60 verso, 67 verso). Another hand has added a medical recipe (folio 64 verso).

(v) `Sir Amadas` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 62, [?]3518.5) lacking the beginning (folio 68), followed by `The Little Children`s Book` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1920) (folio 84). Signed by Heeg (folio 86 verso). Another hand has added a medical recipe (folio 86 verso).

(vi) `Meditation on Psalm 50` by Richard Maidstone (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 2157; cf. ‘Richard Maidstone`s Penitential Psalms’, pages 15, 26, 35-36) (folios 97 [bound wrongly], 87), followed by six short poems and carols (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 707; 374, 11.1-12; 1446; 1448, lacking stanzas 4-5; 378; 358) (folios 89 verso-95 verso). Probably written by Heeg, except the second, third, fifth and sixth of the short poems, which are by John Hawghton (signed folios 95 verso, 96). Another hand has added a letter of indulgence (folio 96 verso).

(vii) `Tundale` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1724) (folio 98). Signed by Heeg (folio 157 verso).

(viii) `Complaint of God` by William Lichfield (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 2714) lacking stanzas 1-6 (folio 158), followed by four short poems and songs (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 1781; 172; 4230; 3087) (folios 170, 174-175). Written by Heeg, except the last three short poems, which are by Hawghton; the latter also appears to have drawn a Guidonian hand (folio 175 verso). Other hands have added a fragment of a song (folio 173 verso) and an account of expenditure (folio 173 verso; partly printed in ‘Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England’, page 137).

(ix) `Life of Our Lady` by John Lydgate (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 2574), books 4-6, 1.301 (folios 176, 186, 203). Written by Heeg. Other hands have added a charm for healing wounds (folio 185 verso), a dialogue between the Virgin and her Child (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 3627) (folio 210 verso), a medical recipe (folio 211 verso), prognostications (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 4053) (folio 212), `Trentalle Sancti Gregorii` (‘The Index of Middle English Verse’, 3184) (folio 213), and the musical score of a farced Kyrie (folio 216).

The main scribe, Richard Heeg (Heege, Hyheg), presumably takes his name from the village of Heage in Derbyshire. His hand is generally large and untidy (with signatures in fascicules (ii)-(v) and (vii), without in (i) and (viii)-(ix)), but in fascicule (iv) (with signature) and (vi) (without) it is distinctly smaller and more ordered. On folios 7 and 157 verso he adds the lines `Be hyt (it) trew (true) or be hitt (it) fals/ hitt (yt) is as ye copy (coopy) was`. John Hawghton (Haughtton) signs several of the smaller items in fascicules (vi) and (viii). The various hands who have added items are approximately contemporary.

In fascicules (i)-(iv) and (vii) there is partial rubrication of initials, headings, initial letters (complete in (vii)) and explicits. The initials in (iv) are more elaborate. In fascicule (vi) spaces have been left for initials. Among the marginalia are drawings of faces (folios 11, 137), a bird (folio 47 verso), and rabbits (folios 47 verso, 89). There is musical notation on folios 153, 175 verso.


  • Creation: Circa 1480.


1 Volumes (xii + 216 + xviii folios.)

Language of Materials

English, Middle (1100-1500)


The volume originally consisted of nine fascicles, though the first three and probably the first six were linked together at an early date. The fascicles consist of one gathering, except for (vii) and (ix) which have three (fascicle (iii) may also originally have had more than one); all contain one principal work, with any remaining space filled by smaller pieces. Their independent existence is indicated by the quire signatures, by the use of different paper, by the scribes` signatures, and by the wear on the outer leaves. The early connection of (i)-(iii) is shown by the foliation; that of (i)- (vi) is suggested by the contents-list added by Sir Walter Scott which contains these only (folio iv).

Collation: 1¹⁰, 2²⁰ (-20, blank), 3¹⁸, 4²⁰, 5²⁰ (-1), 6¹² (-12, probably blank), 7²⁴, 8¹⁶, 9²⁰, 10¹⁸, 11¹², 12¹⁶, 13¹⁴ (-14, probably blank). Signatures: gathering 1, i; gatherings 7-9, 1, 2, 3; gatherings 11-13, [i], ii, iii. No catchwords. Foliation: i-xl only. No ruling. Long lines. Mostly 18-25 lines, but 30-34 in folios 48-60, 27-29 in folios 97, 87-89, and 32 in folio 210 verso.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Paper (watermarks: gatherings 1-2, a crown similar to Briquet 4645-4646; gathering 3, unidentified; gatherings 4, 7-9, a cow`s head similar to Briquet 11471-11520; gathering 5, gothic P similar to Briquet 8544; gatherings 6, 11-12, a hand similar to Briquet 11154; gathering 7, a hand similar to Briquet 11471-11520; gathering 10, possibly a wheel similar to Briquet 13309-13311; gathering 13, paschal lamb similar to Briquet 22; most of these are from the southern half of France and/or Switzerland, 11154 from Sicily, 2nd half of 15th century). Bound in full red morocco, 1964 (endpapers of previous binding, watermarked 1804, included).

Custodial History

The verses on folio 10 verso and the account on folio 173 verso mention places in Nottinghamshire and east Derbyshire. Apart from the signatures of the scribes (noted above) there are a number of names among the many marginalia. These include John Alwodd (folios 47 verso, 90 verso), Elsabet Bradshaw (folio 45), Rychard Haryson (folio 212), and Gorge Sawton (folio 103), and in particular three members of the Sherbrooke family: Cuthbert (folio 108 verso), who was rector of Rockland, Norfolk in 1537 and the owner of many books (‘Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England’, page 136); Mychaell, of Shyrbroke (folios 7 verso, 148 verso), presumably before 1551, when the family moved from near Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to Oxton, Nottinghamshire (‘Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England’, page 137); and Robert (folios 138, 175 verso). The manuscript remained in the possession of the Sherbrooks until 1805-1806, when it was bought by the Advocates` Library through the agency of Robert Southey and Sir Walter Scott (see `A Note on some `lost` Manuscripts`). Southey mentions a family tradition that it was saved from a parochial library at the Reformation by one of the family (possibly Cuthbert). Former pressmark: Jac.V.7.27.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilms available:



Mf.Sec.MSS.699 (manuscript may not have been filmed in full).

Facsimile edition: ‘Heege Manuscript: a facsimile of National Library of Scotland Ms. Advocates 19.3.1’, with an introduction by Phillipa Hardman (Leeds: University of Leeds, School of English, 2000).


The manuscript was first used in ‘Metrical Romances’ by H W Weber (Edinburgh, 1810), and ‘Visions of Tundale’ by W B D D Turnbull (Edinburgh, 1843), includes also many of the smaller pieces.
References to more recent editions of the texts will be found in ‘Index of Middle English Verse’ by C Brown and R H Robbins (New York, 1943), and ‘Supplement’ (Lexington, 1965), and ‘Six Middle English Romances’ (London, 1973) (‘Sir Gowther’, ‘Sir Isumbras’, ‘Sir Amadas’).
See also ‘Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Middle English Romances’ by G Guddat-Figge (München, 1976), pages 127-130; ‘”Library in Parvo”’ by P Herdman in ‘Medium Aevum’, volume xlvii (1978), pages 262-273; and ‘Some Medieval English Manuscripts in the North-East Midlands’ by T Turville-Petre in ‘Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England’, edited by D Pearsall (Cambridge, 1983), pages 125-141.
Wright, T, and J Halliwell. ‘Reliquiae Antiquae’ (London, 1841-1843).
‘Richard Maidstone`s Penitential Psalms’, edited by V Edden (Heidelberg, 1990).
Hardman, P. ‘Note on some “lost” Manuscripts`, in ‘Library’, xxx (1975), pages 245-247.
Scott-Macnab, David. ‘”Hunting of the Hare” in the Heege Manuscript’, in ‘Anglia: Zeitschrift fur Englische Philologie’ (2010-2011).

Physical Description

0.00 linear metresxii + 216 + xviii folios.140.00 x 210.00 millimetres


140.00 x 210.00 millimetres

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland
13 04 2015
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Local Descriptive Rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700