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Abridgement by Patrick Russell, prior of the Charterhouse of Perth, of a work by Walter Bower known as the 'Book of Cupar Angus'.

Identifier: Adv.MS.35.6.7

Scope and Contents

Manuscript compiled in Scotland by Patrick Russell, a prior of the Charterhouse of Perth. The manuscript is an abridged copy of the 'Book of Cupar Angus', which is itself an abbreviation of the 'Scotichronicon'.

The manuscript is written in a single column, probably all by the same hand, which is becomes harder to read towards the end of the volume. The work is not complete, as two or more folios are missing between 246v and 247r.

Watt suggests that the lost examplar text used for the manuscript possibly dates from 1451 or before, but that this manuscript must date at the earliest from the reign of James III, the years 1460-1488. Professor R. J. Lyall suggests that some of the paper probably dates from circa 1480 due to watermark evidence.

The prologue of the manuscript describes the work as a shortened version of the sixteen books of the 'Scotichronicon', but Watt advises that it is in fact derived and further abbreviated from the Coupar Angus MS or its exemplar.

The text of the manuscript is divided into 12 Books, within each of which the chapters are numbered consecutively. The chapter numbers have a running order throughout the manuscript and are given in the margins. The book numbers are only given at the start of their relevant sections, also in the margins, except for at the heads of folios 48v and 76v.

At folios 270v-272r the manuscript includes two epitaphs on James I which are not to be found in any other manuscript. Not included in this manuscript, however, are the 'Liber Alius' or the 'Liber Extravagans' which are found in the Coupar Angus MS.

The manuscript is decorated with red initials throughout, with guide letters often visible. Paraphs and underlining are in red, with initials stroked in red throughout.

Most folios have been lined recto and verso, although this is not consistent.

There are scribal marginal additions, often underlined in red, as well as later marginal additions possibly by William Sinclair and James Balfour.

Horizontal catchwords are present on the following folios, sometimes cropped: 2v, 4v, 12v, 14v, 16v, 24v, 26v, 28v, 38v, 40v, 52v, 64v, 76v, 96v, 108v, 122v, 146v, 148v, 156v, 158v, 160v, 168v, 170v, 172v, 182v, 192v, 194v, 196v, 244v, 252v, 264v, 266v.

Quire signatures are present in the form of lower case letters running from ‘a’ to ‘p’ along with Roman numerals, first visible on folio 99r. The signatures are sometimes cropped of faint, but are probably also present on folios 99r, 101r, 109r, 111r, 113r, 121r, 125r, 133r, 135r, 137r, 147r, 149r, 157r, 159r, 161r, 169r, 171r, 173r, 183r, 185r, 193r, 195r, 197r, 207r, 209r, 219r, 241r, 243r, 245r, 252r, 253r, 255r, 263r, 265r, 267r.


  • Creation: 1460 - 1488


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1 Volumes ; 22.5cm x 15.5cm x 8cm

Language of Materials



277 folios, as well as 4 vellum flyleaves to the front and 2 vellum flyleaves to the rear.

Two or more folios are missing between folios 246v and 247r.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland: : a-v¹², x¹⁰ (wants 7 and 8), y¹², z¹⁰

Custodial History

The manuscript was compiled by Patrick Russell, prior of the Charterhouse of Perth, who is identified as the compiler in a copy of this manuscript now in the Brirish Library. Patrick Russell served as prior twice, first for a few months in 1443 and probably again in 1472-1474. The manuscript was probably intended for use of the monks at the Charterhouse, hence it is sometimes known as the 'Carthusian MS' or 'Perth MS'. At the Charterhouse the manuscript was possibly given the shelfmark O.ix as identified in Ker's 'Supplement'.

In the 16th century the manuscript was in the possession of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross, whose owernship inscriptions are found on folios 1r and 272r.

The manuscript then passed into the possession of Sir William Sinclair of Roslin, knight. He scored through Henry's ownership inscriptions and added his own on folios 1r, 2r, and 272r.

In the 17th century the manuscript came into the possession of Sir James Balfour of Denmline, whose owernship inscription is on folio 2r. Balfour's drawn device is present on folio 272r and Denmilne number 31 on folio 272v. Durkan and Ross have identified marginal annotations in the hand of Balfour throughout the work, although Tod has attributed these to William Sinclair.

The manuscript was bought by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at the sale of Balfour's books in 1698, lot number 1. There is an ownership inscription for the Advocates Library in the gutter margin of folio 1r. The old shelfmark of the item, as assigneded by the Faculty of Advocates Library, was 'A.5.15'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Related Materials

British Library: Harleian MS 4764


Borland, C. R. 'Catalogue of Mediaeval Manuscripts in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh', 4 Volumes. (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh, 1906-1908). Volume II, folios 398-399. NLS Reference: FR.196a/2.

Drexler, M. 'The Extant Abridgements of Walter Bower's "Scotichronicon"', The Scottish Historical Review, Volume 61, Number 171, Part 1 (April, 1982), pages 62-67.

Durkan, J. and Julian Russell. 'Further Additions (Including Manuscripts) to J. Durkand and A. Ross, "Early Scottish Libraries", at the National Library of Scotland', The Bibliotheck, Volume 12, Number 4 (1985), pages 85-90.

'Folio Catalogue of Manuscripts: Historical' (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh [18??]), folio 5. NLS Reference: FR.186.

Harikae, R. 'The Maitland and the Sinclair Families: "The Chronicles of Scotland" and its Early Modern Readers', Textual Cultures, Volume 7, Number 1 (Spring 2012), pages 97-106.

Ker, N. R. and Andrew G. Watson (eds.) 'Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books: Supplement to the Second Edition' (London, 1987), page 56.

Lawlor, H. J. 'Notes on the Library of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume VIII, Third Series (1897-98), pages 90-120.

Skene, W. F. (ed.) 'Johannis de Fordun Chronica Gentis Scotorum', 2 Volumes (Edinburgh, 1871-1872), Volume 1, pages xix-xx, number 8.

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates’ Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 108, number 1397; page 61, number 741.

Tod, M. A. L. 'The Narrative of the Scottish Nation and its Late-Medieval Readers: Non-Textual Reader Scribal Activity in the Mss of Fordun, Bower and their Derivatives' (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, August 2005).

Watt, D. E. R., et al. (eds.) 'Scotichronicon: In Latin and English', Volume 9 (Aberdeen, 1998).

Physical Description

Paper, with 6 vellum flyleaves.

The binding is possibly from the 16th century and is of dark brown leather covering oak boards. There is a brass fixture on the front board for a strap and pin, but the strap is since lost. The spine has raised bands and the remanants of a library sticker on the tail end.

The leather turn-ins, as well as the pegging, channeling, cords, and sewing stations are visible on the inners of the boards.

On the inner front board there is an early 20th century pastedown note and shelfmark inscription.

The watermarks of the paper are often obscured by the binding. Present on folio 5 is possbily a fleur-de-lis, and on folio 8 possibly a crown.

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Repository Details

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

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