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Collection Level Description: Manuscripts of John Selden

Reference: MSS. Arch. Selden. A. 1-76, B. 1-58, B. 62B; Selden Supra 1-36, 36*, 37-102, 105-7, 110; Selden Superius 1-122
Title: Manuscripts of John Selden
Dates of Creation: 8th-18th cent.
Extent: 364 shelfmarks

Language of Material: Latin, English, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Italian, French, Russian, German, Church Slavonic, Arabic, Old English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and Irish

Administrative/Biographical History

John Selden was born on 16 December 1584, in Sussex, and matriculated at Oxford from Hart Hall on 24 October 1600, but left the University without a degree, and practised law in the Temple, acquiring a vast store of legal, oriental, and other learning. In 1621 he entered Parliament, taking up a position antagonistic to the royal claims. However, from 1640 to 1653 he represented his University in Parliament, and did it good service, especially during the Parliamentary Visitation. Among the many publications of 'the Learned Selden' was one in 1629 on the Marmora Arundelliana which eventually came into the possession of the University. He died in London on November 30 1654. Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Scope and Content

Manuscripts collected by Selden, including some mathematical, astronomical and astrological manuscripts. The majority of the manuscripts are in a variety of languages, mainly Latin, but also including English, Greek, Italian, French, Russian, German, Slavonic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Irish. The collection also includes many oriental manuscripts. MS. Arch. Seld. B. 62B, dating to the 18th century, was not part of Selden's original collection.

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was acquired by the Library in 1659, except for MS. Arch. Seld. B. 62B, which was purchased by the Library in 1725.

Access Conditions

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Further Information

Finding Aids

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. II, nos. 3134-3490*, vol. V, no. 27672.

For a more detailed description of the medieval manuscripts in this collection see

The illuminated Greek manuscripts in this collection are described in detail in I. Hutter, Corpus der Byzantinischen Miniaturenhandschriften. Oxford Bodleian Library, 4 vols. (Stuttgart, 1977-82), and the illuminated Latin and vernacular manuscripts are briefly described in O. Pächt and J.J.G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1966-73); with an unpublished supplement containing a concordance of shelfmarks and addenda (1974).

Related Units of Description

See also Selden Manuscripts (MSS. Selden supra 108-51).

Access Points

Manuscripts, Greek

Manuscripts, Latin

Selden | John | 1584-1654 | Jurist, MP, and Antiquary

Contact Information
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