This is an online version of an article first published in Sir Robert Cotton as Collector: Essays on an Early Stuart Courtier and His Legacy, edited by C. J. Wright. London: British Library Publications, 1997: 391-454.

'Their Present Miserable State of Cremation':
the Restoration of the Cotton Library

Andrew Prescott

The aged overseer paused. 'Well, I doubt if you'd even understand it. I don't. He seems to have found a method for restoring missing words and phrases to some of the old fragments of original text in the Memorabilia. Perhaps the left-hand side of a half-burned book is legible, but the right-hand page is burned, with a few words missing at the end of each line. He's worked out a mathematical method for finding the missing words. It's not foolproof, but it works to some degree'.

W.M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz


The October 1731 number of the newly-established Gentleman's Magazine included the following notice in its reports of 'Casualties' for the month:

23 [Oct.]. A Fire broke out in the House of Mr Bently, adjoining to the King's School near Westminster Abbey, which burnt down that part of the House that contained the King's and Cottonian Libraries. Almost all the printed Books were consumed and part of the Manuscripts. Amongst the latter, those which Dr Bentley had been collecting for his Greek Testament for these last ten years, valued at 2000 l.(2)

This short note, tucked away between reports of the discovery of a disfigured corpse near Bath and an accidental shooting at Hackney, records what was perhaps the greatest bibliographical disaster of modern times in Britain. It is difficult to quantify the scale of the losses to the Cotton library as a result of the fire at Bentley's residence, Ashburnham House. A number of letters preserve colourful anecdotes about the fire, such as the famous story of Dr Bentley escaping from the flames in nightgown and wig with Codex Alexandrinus under his arms,(3) but the most detailed source of information about the fire and the damage inflicted by it is a report by a parliamentary committee established to investigate the incident, which was published in 1732.(4) This contained two valuable appendices. The first was 'A Narrative of the Fire...and of the Methods used for preserving and recovering the Manuscripts of the Royal and Cottonian libraries',(5) compiled by the Reverend William Whiston the younger, the clerk in charge of the records kept in the Chapter House at Westminster, another notorious firetrap.(6) The second was a list of lost and damaged manuscripts, prepared by David Casley, the deputy librarian of both the Royal and Cotton libraries, with the assistance of Whiston. (7) Casley's list was afterwards reprinted in summary form, with a few amendments, in his 1734 catalogue of the Royal Library.(8)

Whiston stated that the Cotton library contained before the fire 958 manuscript volumes, of which 114 were 'lost, burnt or intirely spoiled' and another 98 so damaged as to be defective.(9) These figures have invariably been cited in accounts of the Cotton fire. They are, however, misleading. In one sense, they overstate the amount of damage. Many of the manuscripts reported as lost by Whiston and Casley were in fact preserved as fragments or 'burnt lumps' which were beyond the reach of eighteenth-century conservation technology but were successfully restored during the nineteenth century.(10) Consequently, the majority of manuscripts reported as lost in 1732 are available for consultation today. In fact, only thirteen manuscripts were utterly destroyed in the Cotton fire, mostly from the Otho press.(11)

Although relatively few complete volumes were destroyed, many manuscripts lost important articles or survive only as charred fragments. In this sense, the details given by Whiston and Casley underestimate the damage. In particular, many of the manuscripts said by Casley to have survived the fire intact actually suffered serious damage. One of the most famous victims of the fire was the manuscript containing the unique exemplar of Beowulf, Vitellius A. XV.(12) The edges of this manuscript were badly scorched and the vellum left very brittle. Its subsequent handling caused serious textual loss. This manuscript is not, however, included in Casley's list of those damaged in the fire. Tiberius A. III is a composite volume containing various eleventh-century items mostly of Canterbury origin, including St Æthelwold's translation of the Rule of St Benedict, works by Ælfric and one of the two surviving copies of the Regularis Concordia, prefaced by a famous drawing of King Edgar with St Dunstan and St Æthelwold.(13) This volume was also said by Casley to have survived the fire unharmed, but again there was damage to the edges of the folios and the water used to put out the fire caused staining. The drawing of King Edgar had become warped and buckled.

In the absence of any meaningful statistics, the best way of conveying the catastrophic nature of the losses in the Ashburnham House fire is by a random roll call of some of the victims.(14) Cotton's pride and joy, the fifth-century Greek Genesis (Otho B. VI), one of the earliest illustrated Christian manuscripts in existence, was reduced to a pile of cinder-like fragments.(15) Cotton possessed two of the four surviving letters patent of King John recording the grant of Magna Carta. One of these, now Cotton Charter XIII. 31a, was the only one with the Great Seal still attached. In the heat, not only was the text damaged but the seal was left as a shapeless blob.(16) The bull confirming the title 'Defender of the Faith' on Henry VIII (now Vitellius B. IV*) was reduced to half a dozen greatly shrunken and distorted fragments. Otho A. XII contained unique exemplars of two key texts for the Anglo-Saxon period, Asser's Life of Alfred and The Battle of Maldon, together with other Old English material.(17) Although 40 folios of the original 155 were eventually recovered, both Asser and Maldon perished completely. Among the chronicle texts which were lost or very badly damaged were the earliest manuscript of Gildas (Vitellius A. VI),(18) the 'G' manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in Otho B. XI,(19) and the only extant manuscript of Æthelweard's chronicle (Otho A. X).(20) Cartularies from such houses as Lenton (Otho B. XIV),(21) St Albans (Otho D. III) and St Augustine, Canterbury (Otho B. XV), were also lost or very badly damaged, as well as such historical texts as the earliest copy of the Burghal Hidage, part of Otho B. XI.(22) Among the illuminated manuscripts ruined in the fire might be singled out a portion of an early eighth-century gospel book from Northumbria, Otho C. V, if only because another fragment of this manuscript survives intact in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 197B, and shows that it was an insular gospel-book from the greatest period of Northumbrian illumination.(23) These are mostly medieval examples. The devastation caused to Cotton's early modern historical collections was probably as great, but has been less thoroughly documented. It is a measure of the richness of Cotton's library that, despite such losses, it still remains an incomparable source for the history, literature and art of medieval and Tudor England.


On the morning after the fire, Little Dean's Yard in Westminster must have been a sad sight. Ashburnham House was a smouldering ruin. The ground was littered with fragments of burnt manuscripts, which the boys of Westminster School picked up and kept as souvenirs.(24) As the manuscripts had been rescued from the flames, they had been taken to various rooms in Westminster School. When the fire had finally been put out, they were assembled in the great boarding house of the school, opposite Ashburnham House. Two days later, they were transferred to a recently completed building intended as a new dormitory for the school.(25) These operations were supervised by the Speaker, Arthur Onslow, a Cotton trustee, who on hearing of the fire had rushed from his house nearby to help save the manuscripts. Onslow summoned together a group of experts, including not only Bentley and Casley, but also keepers of such other record repositories as the Chapter House at Westminster, the Tower of London and the Exchequer, to consider how the damaged manuscripts could be conserved.(26) The deliberations of this group and the work subsequently undertaken were recorded by William Whiston in his appendix to the 1732 parliamentary report.(27) Although Whiston's report is well known, little notice has been taken in descriptions of individual Cotton Manuscripts of the impact of the emergency conservation work undertaken immediately after the fire, when a number of manuscripts were broken up and rebound. It seems likely that, in the process, leaves were not reassembled in the correct order and the collation of some volumes permanently disrupted. This important stage in the codicological history of many Cotton Manuscripts has been generally overlooked. It is therefore worth describing in some detail the procedures adopted by Whiston and his colleagues.

It is difficult nowadays, looking at the collection after more than two hundred years of conservation work, to imagine the scale of the problem confronting Speaker Onslow's panel of experts. The picture which comes to mind is of a huge collection of loose charred fragments, but the pattern of damage caused by the fire and 'engine-water' was more complex.(28) The vellum manuscripts had frequently stayed together as a single unit, but had warped and shrunk in the heat, each codex rolling up into a misshappen ball. Animal fat had been drawn out from the vellum by the heat and then congealed, turning the manuscript into a glutinous mass, blackened around the edges. As it cooled, the manuscript became very brittle. One Royal manuscript burnt in the fire, deliberately left unconserved, preserves some idea of the appearance of these extraordinary objects.(29) It looks like an irradiated armadillo. Moreover, as is still the case with library fires, the water used to extinguish the blaze had caused as much damage as the flames.(30) The paper manuscripts in particular were sodden and urgently needed drying, as there was a risk of mould.(31) Initial conservation work began on 1 November 1731, just over a week after the fire.(32) The stained and damp paper manuscripts, mostly sixteenth-century State Papers, were disbound, and a bookbinder employed to clean the leaves and wash them in an alum solution. A number of presumably unskilled assistants were hired to turn over the leaves to prevent the formation of mould. The leaves were hung on lines to dry and afterwards bound up again. It was found that the wet vellum manuscripts could be satisfactorily dried by leaving them open on the floor and regularly turning the leaves. The worst affected were dried in front of a fire. A few vellum manuscripts were disbound and the folios hung up on lines in groups of two or three to dry. Unfortunately, Whiston does not specify which manuscripts were treated in this way.

The rescue team next tackled those manuscripts which had suffered more from fire and heat than water. Where possible, the burnt vellum manuscripts were opened up leaf by leaf and 'the glutinous Matter, that had been forced out upon the Edges of the Vellum and Parchment by the Heat of the Fire, was carefully taken off by the Fingers...'.(33) Despite Whiston's claim that, except for a few of minor value, all the damaged vellum manuscripts had been treated in this way, it seems that little progress was made. Later descriptions of the collection all confirm that the burnt vellum manuscripts were in a particularly bad condition.(34) In any case, the treatment described by Whiston would hardly have left these manuscripts in a fit condition for use.

The burnt paper manuscripts were an easier proposition. The individual leaves were washed, cleaned and hung up to dry. Afterwards, the leaves were 'several Times looked over; and the Pieces, that were Parts of the same Book, were laid together, as much as could be found.'(35) Whiston stated that, from the surviving paper fragments, 'several large Portions of Books, and some entire Books have been made up out of them'.(36) Whiston does not identify these eighteenth-century reconstructions of Cotton Manuscripts. He urged that, when a volume had been recovered in this way, 'each Book or Portion of Book, so collected together, should be carefully collated, and the Leaves placed, as near as possible, in the same Order, that they were in before the Fire'.(37)

Despite these efforts, a large number of 'single Leaves, or Pieces of Leaves' remained unidentified, and were put into drawers. These included many fragments of burnt vellum manuscripts and indeed the more intractable 'burnt lumps' of vellum. Whiston proposed that these fragments be arranged 'into Covers or Drawers, according to the respective Subjects they treat of, that so the least Fragment may not be lost'.(38) It does not seem that this far-sighted proposal was implemented.

The initial rescue work was conducted at enormous speed. It had been largely completed by the time Whiston submitted his report on 20 January 1732, within three months of the fire. Inevitably there must be doubts about the accuracy of work undertaken with great haste, partly by unskilled assistants, in primitive conditions and without the aid of modern bibliographical tools. Later workers on the collection commented that it had suffered 'by the carelessness of those that have been the first employed in preserving them'.(39) Whiston does not specify how individual manuscripts were treated, but the general figures he provides indicate that about a third of the volumes in the collection were subjected to this rough and ready conservation work.(40)

The labours of Whiston and his colleagues already place a very great gulf between the modern user of the Cotton library and the library as it existed before the fire. In discussing the collation of any Cotton manuscript which shows signs of severe damage from damp, it is worth remembering that in 1731 the manuscript may have been taken apart and the leaves hung up on washing lines by an illiterate artisan. Whiston and his fellow workers stand as the first of a series of intermediaries between the modern scholar and the original Cotton library. They inaugurated a process of conservation work on the collection which has continued intermittently to the present day. Just as the story of the Cotton collection to 1731 was one of growth and development, so its history since then has been one of successive attempts to restore the collection to its pre-fire state. Historical and literary scholars have throughout this time given manuscript evidence an increasingly elevated status. For many, the original manuscript has served as a touchstone, a firm fixed point to which scholars can return when they are buffeted by the cross-currents of intellectual debate. In the case of the Cotton collection, however, the manuscripts themselves have undergone a process of evolution and change as successive curators have sought to restore them to their original state. In a number of cases, a particular manuscript is little more than an intelligent reconstruction of the original, comparable to, and just as open to doubt and challenge as, say, an archaeological reconstruction.(41)


Whiston's concern that each manuscript fragment from the Cotton library should be carefully preserved was echoed in more elevated language by the Reverend Thomas Fitzgerald, the Usher of Westminster School, in his lines Upon the Burning of the Cottonian Manuscripts at Ashburnham House.(42) Fitzgerald reflects on how these 'learned Spoils of twice a thousand years' had survived Goths, Vandals and, even more dangerous in Fitzgerald's view, 'reforming Zeal', only to perish in a fire. In the climax of the poem, Fitzgerald called for each fragment to be treated as if it was a holy relic:

Whate'er the Fury of the Flames has spar'd
With zealous Care, with awful Rev'rence guard ...
Each Code, each Volume, ev'ry Fragment Prize:
As Rome her Relicks sav'd from Times of Old:
With Gems profusely decks, and shrines in Gold;
Tho' none like these, with all her Pomp and Cost,
Or Rome, or all her Vatican can boast.

Despite these poetic injunctions, nothing was done for the further preservation of the Cotton library following the publication of the parliamentary report in 1732. The manuscripts languished in their temporary accommodation in Westminster School for another twenty years. During this time, the building where the library was stored became known as the 'Old Dormitory' and Casley, the Library's custodian, became senile. The only immediate effect of the catastrophe at Ashburnham House appears to have been to encourage the first moves in 1751 for the publication of Domesday Book, then kept in the Westminster Chapter House and also at great risk from fire.(43) In 1743, Major Arthur Edwards, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and enthusiastic amateur archaeologist,(44) left seven thousand pounds 'to erect a house in which to preserve the Cotton Library, or should such a house have meantime been provided, to purchase manuscripts, books of antiquities, ancient coins, medals and other curiosities to come to the Library'.(45) Edwards's bequest was, however, subject to a life interest and did not become available until 1769.(46) Edwards also left his books and pictures as additions to the library.(47) It was through the intervention of another Edwards, Vigerus Edwards, that the collections of the record scholar and historian of the Exchequer Thomas Madox were deposited with the Cotton library.(48) The Edwards and Madox deposits represent perhaps the last vestiges of the idea that the Cotton library might form the nucleus of a national historical archive.(49)

The future of the Cotton library was finally secured in 1753 by the establishment of the British Museum as a result of Sir Hans Sloane's bequest. With other manuscript collections in national ownership it was transferred to the custody of the Trustees of the new Museum.(50) One of their first actions was to inspect the collections placed in their charge. On 2 February 1754 a committee of the Trustees visited the Old Dormitory to examine the Cotton Library.(51) They found that Casley was by now 'disabled by age and infirmity from executing the duty of his post in his own person' and his responsibilities were discharged by his wife, who showed the library to visitors. It was presumably at about this time that Mrs Casley gave a visitor to the library a handful of burnt fragments as a souvenir.(52) Casley was also assisted by Richard Widmore, the Keeper of the library of Westminster Abbey, who undertook detailed work on the charters, probably the most confused part of the collection. Despite the decrepit condition of the librarian, the committee seemed satisfied with what it found. They declared that the Old Dormitory 'though it has not the advantage of so much light, as would be proper for a dry and secured from the weather. The MSS. as well as the books [presumably Major Edwards's legacy together with the remnants of Cotton's own printed books] appear to have sustained no injury from damp since the depositing them there, but they are in general so dusty that a speedy care of them is necessary in that respect'. Indeed, the committee felt that the Old Dormitory would provide suitable temporary accommodation for the Harley Manuscripts, 'if a proper person were appointed for the custody and care of that collection'.

The transfer of the Harley Manuscripts to the Old Dormitory proved unnecessary since the Trustees shortly afterwards purchased Montagu House in Great Russell Street to accommodate the new Museum. The work necessary to prepare Montagu House to receive the Museum's collections proved protracted, and it was not until 1756, immediately before the removal of the Cotton collection to Great Russell Street, that a more systematic examination was made of the Cotton library.

In July 1756, two Museum officers, Matthew Maty, the first Keeper of Printed Books and from 1772 to 1776 Principal Librarian, and Henry Rimius, submitted two reports on the Cotton collection to the Trustees. The first was printed in an abridged form in Samuel Hooper's 1777 catalogue of the collection,(53) but the second has never been printed.(54) Maty and Rimius checked the collection against Smith's 1696 catalogue and Casley's list of manuscripts damaged in the fire, counting the volumes and comparing the contents of a sample from each press against the catalogue entries. They declared that the manuscripts in ten of the presses (Julius, Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Cleopatra, Faustina and the Appendix) 'have suffered nothing by the fire, and have been found to agree with Mr Smith's catalogue. Yet several of these being placed in presses much exposed to dampness in a cold and shady place, could hardly notwithstanding Mr Widmore's endeavours (which he has assured us have been very assiduous) be preserved from must and mouldiness and will want to be aired and carefully dried up before they are placed in the Museum'.

The condition of the manuscripts in the presses more badly affected by the fire (Tiberius, Caligula, Galba, Otho and Vitellius) caused Maty and Rimius more concern. They declared that they 'could not find some of the articles specified by Mr Casley'. Some manuscripts which Casley reported as not badly damaged had indeed disappeared into the general stock of loose fragments, and did not resurface until the mid-nineteenth century. For example, Maty and Rimius were unable to find Tiberius D. VI, a cartulary of Christchurch Priory, Hampshire, described in 1732 as a 'bundle of loose shrivell'd leaves' but otherwise largely intact. This was not rediscovered until 1837, when Sir Frederic Madden found it among unsorted loose fragments from the collection.(55) On the other hand, they identified some manuscripts which Casley had been unable to trace, stating that 'several of those which he [Casley] declares to be entirely destroyed, may still be of some use in careful hands'.

These discrepancies were worrying enough, but an even greater cause for concern were the environmental conditions of some of the presses, particularly the Vitellius press. 'Besides the damage done by the fire to the manuscripts in this press', Maty and Rimius reported, 'it has suffered no less by the carelessness of those that have been the first employed in preserving them, as well as by the extraordinary moistness of the place. The great humidity, together with the extension of that hue, which the fire extracted from the volumes wrote on vellum, having rolled the edges of most of them, defaced the marks [presumably the pressmarks] and afforded both lodging and food to numberless shoals of worms and other insects.'

The second report dealt with the surviving 'charters, curiosities & co.' in the last press of the Cottonian cabinet. Maty and Rimius complained that 'The charters, warrants, deeds and other records contained in the last press of the Cottonian cabinet might have been examined with more ease and in less time had we found them disposed in any order, properly endorsed, or at least regularly numbered and sufficiently described'. This necessitated an examination of each item and a preliminary numeration of every one 'by which they could more easily be found out'. They were assisted in this by a draft catalogue prepared by Widmore.(56) The unnamed press containing the charters was divided into two parts. Sixteen drawers in the top section and seven in the lower were stuffed with paper and parchment including several 'entirely relative to the Cotton family' which Maty and Rimius felt were 'of little use to the public'. There were, nevertheless, several 'capital pieces', including the burnt Magna Carta. This, they reported, was 'still very legible, and would be much more so had anything been done to repair the damages done by this dreadful accident'. It was placed by itself 'in a separate drawer, viz. no. 16 at the bottom'. This press also contained a further three or four drawers filled with antiquities and 'other trinkets neither remarkable for their rareness or workmanship'.

The most interesting part of this second report is, however, the statement that some charters had been lost 'amidst the rubbish of bits of parchment or of paper, scorched by the fire, or consumed by old age, which Mr Widmore thought too much destroyed to be either used or described'. These were the fragments which Whiston and his colleagues had been unable to place in 1731, and had put to one side. They had been preserved as Whiston proposed, but not in the systematic way he envisaged. Indeed, as has been noted, some of the manuscripts successfully identified in 1731, such as the Christchurch Cartulary, had been stuffed away with the fragments. Widmore apparently thought the fragments should be disposed of, but Maty and Rimius wisely urged 'a more particular examination' before any further action, 'as it is not impossible but some things may still be retrieved'.

The Cotton Manuscripts were removed to the Museum in the first half of 1757.(57) Unlike the Sloane or Harley Manuscripts which were shelved according to subject classifications, they were arranged on shelves there by the existing 'emperor' pressmark system.(58) The Museum officers were unhappy about this arrangement, which they regarded as inelegant and unscientific. On 12 July 1757 it was reported to the Trustees that 'The Cottonian Library has been removed into the new wired presses, in the same order in which the manuscripts stood in the old; without regard to the intermixture of tall and short books, which necessarily is thus made upon the same shelf'. It was suggested it would be better to 'range them all anew'. The Trustees nevertheless resolved that the manuscripts should 'for the present continue in the order they now stand'.(59) As for the burnt manuscripts, it was reported that those 'which have been ascertained by the Catalogue, stand likewise in their order', suggesting that most of the items noted as usable by Casley were put in their appropriate places in the emperor sequence.(60) The 'other crusts and loose leaves' were however kept in the old presses, presumably the drawers formerly containing the charters which had been brought to the Museum. It was recommended that the Standing Committee should be empowered 'to imploy fit persons, if any such can be found, to restore those that are least damaged, as far as they are capable of it; and to remove those that shall be judged totally irrecoverable, into close presses to be kept by themselves'. Approving this proposal, the Trustees ordered that any material found to be beyond repair 'be for the present placed in the closet of the room where the Harleian Carts. now stand'.(61) The loose Cotton fragments remained associated with the Harley Charters and in 1775 the Trustees ordered that these latter 'be removed in their presses as they now stand into one of the front garrets'. The fragments remained with these charters in Garret no. 8, which became known as the charter garret.(62)

In July 1757, a Mr Mores, perhaps the typographical historian Edward Rowe Mores, wrote to the Principal Librarian claiming to have developed a method of restoring the leaves of vellum books damaged by fire. Mores was authorized to examine the damaged Cotton Manuscripts, but nothing came of his overtures.(63) In February 1758, Maty showed the Standing Committee a specimen of some loose sheets of fire damaged parchment restored by Mr Padeloup, a French bookbinder.(64) Impressed, the committee ordered the Keeper of Manuscripts, Charles Morton, to give Padeloup one of the burnt Cotton Manuscripts. A month later Padeloup returned the manuscript duly repaired. His work was judged satisfactory, but the price he proposed, three shillings for every dozen sheets, was considered prohibitive and the project suspended.(65)

Thus matters were left for another forty years. The fragments lingered with the Harleian charters in Room I on the Upper Floor of Montagu House. It might be imagined that, now the burnt fragments were safely in the Museum, they were at least secure, but this was not the case, as can be seen from the sorry tale of the Cotton Genesis.(66) Casley reported that, after the fire, 'Of this valuable Monument of Antiquity, about 60 pieces of Leaves remain'. In 1743, George Vertue had borrowed some to make watercolour drawings of them to be shown at the Society of Antiquaries. Engravings of these drawings were published in Vetusta Monumenta in 1747. These fragments then disappeared from sight. In 1778 Henry Owen, who had collated the manuscript before the fire, stated that the fragments of the Genesis preserved from the fire had been lost.(67) At the end of the eighteenth century, Joseph Planta could only find eighteen, none of which were among those copied by Vertue. In fact, the loss was due (at least in part) to a Museum officer, Andrew Gifford, the first Assistant Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts.(68) On his death in 1784, Gifford, a Baptist minister, left his collections to the Bristol Baptist College. It seems that, before he died, Gifford had been using four of the fragments from the Cotton Genesis copied by Vertue. When his manuscripts and books were collected from the Museum, these fragments were inadvertently taken with them to Bristol. There they remained, unidentified and forgotten. In a 1795 catalogue of the Bristol library they were described as 'some pieces of an old copy of the Septuagint said to have been found in the ruins of the city of Herculaneum'. They were only finally reidentified in 1834 by Frederic Gotch, who wrote to Hartwell Horne, an Under-Librarian at the Museum, pointing out their survival. Horne amended a footnote in one of his publications referring to the Cotton Genesis, but the Museum authorities took no further action.(69) Gotch's discoveries remained virtually unknown until 1881 when he published a transcription of the Bristol fragments as a supplement to Tischendorf's edition of the text of the fragments left in the Museum.(70) Five other fragments used by Vertue have never been traced.(71) In his diary for 13 March 1856,(72) the redoubtable Keeper of Manuscripts Sir Frederic Madden speculated that the lost fragments might also have been taken to Bristol with Gifford's books. However, they have never been identified there. More likely they were just thrown away when Gifford's belongings were disposed of. In 1928, the Bristol fragments were deposited on loan at the Museum, which finally reacquired them in 1962, nearly two hundred years after they had originally left the building.(73)


In 1792, Thomas Astle, Keeper of Records at the Tower of London, urged the Trustees to authorize the compilation of a new catalogue of the Cotton library.(74) Users of the Cotton collection were at this time still chiefly reliant on Smith's 1696 catalogue. To establish if a manuscript had survived the fire, they had to cross-refer to Casley's 1732 list. In 1777 Samuel Hooper had produced a subject catalogue of the Cotton collection,(75) but, although he published the corrections of Maty and Rimius to Casley's schedule of damaged manuscripts,(76) his work was of limited assistance to readers grappling with Smith and Casley. Accordingly, the Standing Committee of the Trustees ordered the Keeper of Manuscripts, Joseph Planta, to investigate the matter. In his report, dated 14 December 1793,(77) Planta declared that most of the volumes contained a great number of articles 'bound up with very little attention to any arrangement either as to authors, matter or date'. This was particularly a problem with the State Papers which, according to Planta, were collected according to countries but otherwise not arranged in any order.(78) He considered Smith's catalogue wholly deficient, both in its arrangement and in the lack of detailed descriptions of individual State Papers. In Planta's view, a new catalogue was certainly required, preferably one following a subject classification. This would also provide an opportunity of rearranging the collection 'in a classical order, which no doubt ought always to have the preference'. Alternatively, the new catalogue should have a detailed index.

Luckily, the Trustees were unwilling to see the collection rearranged. Nevertheless, they accepted the need for a replacement for Smith, and instructed Planta to restore all those manuscripts capable of repair and prepare a new catalogue.(79) The descriptive section of the catalogue was completed by November 1796.(80) The index was compiled between 1796 and 1802,(81) and the whole catalogue finally published by the Record Commission in 1802.(82) The section of the published preface describing the procedures adopted by Planta in conserving and cataloguing the manuscripts is copied almost word for word from a report submitted to the Trustees by him on 4 November 1796.(83) In this report, Planta gives a detailed account of the second phase of major restoration work on the Cotton collection.

Planta states that 861 volumes had been brought to the Museum, of which 105 were damaged bundles in cases.(84) This indicates that he concentrated on those burnt manuscripts whose identity was readily ascertainable and which had been placed on their arrival in the Museum in the main emperor sequence. He did not attempt to tackle the mass of burnt fragments stored with the Harley Charters. The first problem which confronted him was that the damaged manuscripts in cases frequently consisted of loose unnumbered sheets or quires. The order of these sheets -- already disrupted as a result of the fire and the hasty rescue work in 1731 -- had been further confused by their use in the Reading Room. Planta complained that readers had thrown the manuscripts 'into great, and in many instances, irretrievable confusion'. Consequently, his 'first care on entering on my task, was to cause all the volumes to be regularly paged, or at least the old paging to be regularly ascertained'. This ink foliation can still be seen on many of the manuscripts.(85) The foliations are in a variety of different hands, and were probably made for Planta by various attendants in the Department.(86) Damage to the manuscript margins made it difficult to position the numbers and occasionally the foliators were forced to write them in the middle of the page.(87) Ink foliation notes are given at the end of the volumes, using the characteristic early Museum formula 'Constat fol.'

Planta then 'proceeded to examine the bundles in cases, and found means, after many repeated and not a few unsuccessful attempts, to arrange several volumes and parts of volumes of State Papers. Some of the shrivelled MSS. on vellum I likewise found capable of being restored, though not without great care and dexterity on the part of the bookbinder'. In his original report he identifies the binder as C. Elliot, the Museum binder from 1773 to 1815. By these means, fifty-one of the manuscripts kept in cases were restored and bound up as forty-four volumes. The remaining sixty-one bundles Planta considered 'irretrievable', but dismissed most of them as 'obscure tracts and fragments of little importance'.

Planta's report gives an unduly rosy picture of the condition of the Cotton collection at the conclusion of his work. Little progress had been made with the damaged vellum manuscripts.(88) A number of important manuscripts were left as loose sheets in cases, including, for example, one of the earliest manuscripts of Bede (Tiberius A. XIV). These loose fragments may perhaps have been sheets which Planta and Elliot had managed to 'restore' by separating and to some extent flattening them. Many other manuscripts were left simply as 'crusts' in cases. Far from being 'obscure tracts and fragments of little importance', they included cartularies of St Albans (Tiberius E. VI, Otho D. III), St James, Northampton (Tiberius E. V), the Annals of Dunstable (Tiberius A. X), and the eleventh-century Vitellius Psalter (Vitellius E. XVIII).

Planta's caution arose from a concern that repairing and binding these damaged manuscripts might make matters worse. This is borne out by comments by two later Keepers of Manuscripts. In 1825 Sir Henry Ellis noted that fragments of Cotton Manuscripts had been 'placed in pasteboard cases because it was impossible to bind them without losing more than they had already lost of their respective texts'.(89) Similarly, in 1835 Josiah Forshall reminded a parliamentary Select Committee investigating the Museum that 'In many cases there is a great risk of doing more injury by any attempt to repair a manuscript that has been damaged by the fire than if it is left in its damaged state'.(90)

Like his predecessors in 1731, Planta concentrated on the paper manuscripts. Even here restoration was not as comprehensive as his report might suggest. Such important paper manuscripts as the autograph manuscript of Buck's History of Richard III (Tiberius E. X), a volume of Joscelin's collections (Vitellius D. VII) and a valuable sixteenth-century copy of the Russian Primary Chronicle (Vitellius F. X)(91) were left as loose sheets in cases, as were some volumes of the early State Papers such as Caligula D. IV, V, X and XI.(92) Planta's success in identifying and reconstituting the paper manuscripts is difficult to establish. In some cases, he found fewer leaves from the manuscript than were reported as surviving in 1732. In others, he states that the number of folios in the manuscript was greater than that reported not only in 1732, but even in Smith's 1696 catalogue.(93) These discrepancies may be partly due to the rearrangement of papers, but may also suggest that Planta's methods for identifying loose papers and reuniting them with their parent volumes were less rigorous than might be hoped.

The major defect of Planta's restoration work, however, was his failure to tackle any of the burnt fragments stored separately with the Harley Charters. Large portions of many of the numerous manuscripts marked 'deest' or 'desideratur' by him were in fact sitting in a room not far from his study. Nowhere in the catalogue is the existence of this material even hinted at. Planta's complacent account of the state of the collection at the completion of his catalogue is therefore seriously misleading. It could even be argued that in some ways Planta's work made matters worse. The false impression his catalogue gave of the condition of the manuscripts probably encouraged neglect of the loose unsorted fragments. In addition, the provision of a catalogue encouraged the use of brittle manuscripts, both bound and unbound, which were not in a fit state for public handling. The vulnerable edges of the manuscripts were completely unprotected, and pieces of text broke off as they were used by readers. Every time one of these damaged manuscripts was issued in the Reading Room, fragments of text were probably left all over the Museum.

The effects of the continued handling of these fragile manuscripts have been most strikingly documented in the case of the Beowulf text in Vitellius A. XV. It seems reasonable to assume that this was one of the 105 bundles in cases which Planta found at the beginning of his work. The state of the manuscript in the 1780s is recorded in the two transcripts associated with the Danish antiquary Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin,(94) which record over 1900 letters which afterwards disappeared as a result of the crumbling of the edges of the manuscript.(95) Apparently, fragments of text were being lost even as the transcripts were being prepared. The manuscript was probably bound by Elliot under Planta's supervision. Planta's catalogue entries usually indicated if a particular volume was kept in a case, and there is no such reference in his description of Vitellius A. XV.(96) Given the testimony of Ellis, Forshall and Planta himself as to the hazards of binding brittle vellum manuscripts, it seems likely that further damage to the Beowulf text occurred in the process of binding the manuscript in the 1790s. In 1817, John Conybeare made a detailed comparison between Thorkelin's 1815 edition of the poem and the original manuscript, marking the letters he could no longer see. According to Conybeare, over 900 letters had vanished by 1817.(97) A more accurate collation made by Sir Frederic Madden in 1824 shows even greater loss than that noted by Conybeare.(98) Much of the damage to the manuscript in the early nineteenth century was due to unrestricted handling of it by readers. Ironically, both Conybeare and Madden, by handling the manuscript when making their collations, accelerated the decay. The erosion of the Beowulf text continued until 1845, when the manuscript was inlaid, at last providing the fragile edges of the manuscript with some protection and preventing further loss. Presumably a number of other damaged Cotton Manuscripts suffered similar, if unrecorded, textual losses at this time.(99)

Planta's successors as Keepers of Manuscripts, Robert Nares and Francis Douce, did not undertake any further work on the Cotton Manuscripts. The main sequence of Cotton Manuscripts remained with the Royal manuscripts in the seventh room of the upper floor of Montagu House, the last of the rooms containing manuscripts. Both collections remained in their original order, the 1808 synopsis of the Museum noting apologetically that 'These two libraries are not classed in a strict scientific order'.(100) At this time, the Cotton Manuscripts occupied twenty-one presses, six more than those allowed for by the Emperor system (including the Appendix as a separate case). The use of boxes to house some burnt manuscripts presumably made it difficult to follow the system of one press per emperor.(101) This perhaps prompted the decision to write numerical pressmarks, consisting of a roman numeral for the press and a letter for the shelf, in pencil on the flyleaf of the manuscripts. Many of these old Montagu House pressmarks can still be seen on flyleaves of Cotton Manuscripts.(102)

As long as manuscripts continued to be stored as loose vellum sheets in flimsy boxes, there were endless possibilities for loss and confusion. In June 1825, Sir Henry Ellis, who succeeded Douce as Keeper of Manuscripts in 1812, reported to the Trustees a misfortune with the autograph manuscript of Sir George Buck's History of Richard III (Tiberius E. X).(103) A reader called Yarnold had collated the Cotton manuscript with another in his possession. 'Having but one eye, and very indifferent sight in the other', Yarnold had accidentally taken away half a leaf of the Cotton manuscript with his own papers. On discovering his mistake, he had returned the fragment. Sometime later, Yarnold's books were sold. One lot was described as a manuscript of Buck. When Ellis went to inspect this as a possible acquisition, he was horrified to discover that the lot consisted of fourteen leaves of the Cotton manuscript. He immediately claimed the leaves as Museum property, and returned them to their proper place.

Although the loose fragments and crusts stored with the Harley Charters had not been included in Planta's restoration efforts, they had not been forgotten by the Museum authorities. On 14 May 1825, the Standing Committee of the Trustees agreed that a small bundle of cinders and other fragments of Cotton Manuscripts should be sent to William Hyde Wollaston so that he could undertake experiments on them.(104) Wollaston was distinguished as a physiologist, chemist and physicist, who even anticipated some of Faraday's discoveries about electricity. Indeed, it was said that each of Wollaston's fifty-six papers in many different fields marked 'a distinct advance in the particular science concerned'.(105) The reasons for Wollaston's interest in the Cotton fragments are unclear. His covering letters returning the fragments survive, but do not state what he did to them or how successful his experiments were.(106) In fact, whatever his experiments, the results were disastrous. The state of the leaves treated by Wollaston was described in his diary by Sir Frederic Madden thirty years later: 'these leaves are almost like biscuit, and contracted to one third of their original size! Simply soaking them in water would have been much more effectual. Of these leaves sent to Dr. W. sixteen prove to be part of Grosthead's Works in Otho D. X, and complete the volume; while eleven others belong to the Higden, Otho D. I, and one to Vitellius E. IX'.(107) Madden later reported that he was able to counteract the effects of Wollaston's process by soaking the leaves in water, so that they expanded again to 'one half of their original size'.(108)

Despite the unpromising results of Wollaston's first experiments, Ellis proposed in June 1825 that he be sent some fragments from the Cotton Genesis.(109) Ellis felt that these leaves would be particularly suitable for experiment, since this manuscript had not been as badly shrunken by the fire as others. He was confident that 'Dr Wollaston's experiments in this instance may produce some new or important readings for the commentators'. This suggests that Wollaston was not attempting to flatten the fragments but trying to make them more legible by using some form of chemical agent. The results of his experiments on the Cotton Genesis are not known. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the affair is Ellis's statement to the Trustees that the Cotton fragments 'do not form a Part of the Collection of Manuscripts at the present time but are kept in a garret at the top of the House, perfectly useless to the Museum in every sense of the word'.(110) Ellis was shortly to be proved quite wrong.


In January 1826, a few months after Wollaston had finished his further shrivelling of Cotton fragments, Henry Petrie, Keeper of Records at the Tower, wrote to the Standing Committee of the Trustees, 'expressing a hope that some mode might be devised by which certain masses of the Fragments of the Cotton Library,...which are at present preserved in cases, may be rendered readable without the risk of losing portions of their leaves from their adhesion and brittleness whenever an attempt is made to ascertain their contents'.(111) The Committee asked Sir Humphry Davy, a Trustee, to talk to Petrie about the problem.(112) A month later the Standing Committee 'Resolved that the plan proposed by Sir Humphry Davy of submerging the burnt manuscripts on vellum belonging to the Cottonian collection which were injured in the fire of 1731 be adopted, from time to time, upon such MSS. as it may be desirable to examine: also that the edges of such manuscripts may be cut, where there is no writing, for the sake of separating the leaves'.(113) On 12 May 1826, the Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts, Josiah Forshall, informed the Trustees that 'The means recommended by the President of the Royal Society for the restoration of these MSS. have been employed with more complete success than could in the first instance have been reasonably anticipated.'(114) Tiberius D. III, a collection of saints' lives in which Petrie had expressed a particular interest, 'was first carefully divided into convenient portions, and these were severally immersed for a longer or shorter time as they appeared more or less scorched. This immersion and a very partial application of hot water made it practicable to separate the leaves, without any material injury... By making incisions between the columns and lines of writing, thus making room for an expansion of the parts most shrivelled and contracted by the fire, and by subsequently applying a gentle pressure until the moisture was evaporated, the leaves have been rendered sufficiently flat and smooth to admit of the contents being read for the most part with great facility'.(115) The process recommended by Davy was therefore to soak the manuscript to make it more pliable and then cut it open. The exact nature of the solution used to soften the manuscript is not known; Madden reported that it consisted of a solution of spirits of zinc and water.(116)

Encouraged by their success with Tiberius D. III, Ellis and Forshall were keen to try and restore some of the fragments stored in the charter garret. Forshall immediately tried the technique on what 'appeared at first sight mere lumps of wax and cinder'. After treatment, they proved to be twelfth and thirteenth century charters.(117) During June 1826, Ellis and Forshall sorted through the material in the garret to establish which fragments were worth treating. Ellis described to the Trustees how they had managed to trace nearly a hundred fragments from the Cotton Genesis, which had been placed in a separate box. Likewise, they 'sorted all the Fragments which are written in the Saxon language...; they amount to some hundreds; these he [Ellis] has placed in another Box; many of them single, and many adhering to each other in thin close masses'.(118)

Forshall bore the brunt of this difficult work,(119) which continued after he became Keeper in 1827.(120) About forty manuscripts were treated in this way.(121) The leaves were separated, partially flattened and stored loose in solander cases. Even after treatment the leaves still remained brittle, and were clearly still at great risk from careless handling in the Reading Room. Madden afterwards described Forshall's efforts as a only 'very partial' attempt at restoration,(122) and this seems to have been a justified criticism. Nevertheless, substantial progress was made.(123)

Forshall's work led to the recovery of a number of important Anglo-Saxon manuscripts which were described by Planta as being either lost or unusable. Among the most spectacular rediscoveries were: the unique manuscript of King Alfred's prosimetrical translation of Boethius (Otho A. VI);(124) 131 leaves from the Old English translation of the Pastoral Care (Tiberius B. XI), one of only two extant contemporary manuscripts of the Old English translations associated with King Alfred; an eleventh-century copy of Werferth's Old English translation of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (Otho C. I, vol. 2); the Vitellius Psalter (Vitellius E. XVIII), complete except for eleven leaves, ten of which were afterwards found by Madden; fragments of the insular gospels in Otho C. V; two eleventh-century manuscripts of Ælfric's Homilies (Vitellius C. V and Vitellius D. XVII); and a large part of Tiberius A. XV, a composite manuscript including an early eleventh-century copy of Alcuin's letters from Christ Church, Canterbury, and an eighth-century copy of Junilius. Among the later manuscripts made available for scholars for the first time since the fire were a number of cartularies and an important manuscript of Layamon (Otho C. XIII).(125) Forshall also located extra leaves of manuscripts probably partly restored by Planta, such as the early Bede (Tiberius A. XIV) to which he added five leaves, and the Worcester cartulary (Tiberius A. XIII). Most notable of all was the work on the Cotton Genesis. Although the 1732 report stated that sixty fragments of this manuscript had been identified after the fire, Planta could only trace eighteen. In July 1826, Forshall reported that 110 fragments of the volume, previously among the loose fragments in the charter garret, had been identified, unrolled and cleaned, '88 of which it had been found possible to appropriate to their respective places.' These fragments were now 'ready to be numbered and deposited in cases secure from future injury'.(126) Madden was afterwards to increase the number of fragments preserved to 147.(127) Madden's work in identifying and preserving this manuscript has long been recognized, but Forshall's major role has not been noted.

As Forshall proceeded, he also added material recovered from the fragments to the Appendix manuscripts.(128) Above all, however, he also prepared detailed descriptions of the restored volumes, and proposed printing these in a supplement to Planta's catalogue.(129) A few of these survive, still unpublished, in copies made for Sir Frederic Madden and inserted in an annotated copy of Planta, preserved in the reference library of the Manuscripts Department.(130)

Forshall is a forgotten pioneer in the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts. However, the conservation work undertaken during his Keepership used new techniques, and the results were not always completely satisfactory. Not only was the restoration incomplete, resulting in a pile of loose brittle leaves in a box, but some unnecessary damage was caused. In particular, vellum leaves were cut at the edge both to allow the fat-covered crusts to be opened and individual leaves to be flattened. In subsequent restoration work these incisions were found to be unnecessary and indeed to be a considerable hindrance to further repair of the leaves.(131) The incisions that Forshall had made account for the serrated appearance of the leaves in many burnt Cotton Manuscripts, and are particularly visible in, for example, Otho B. II, a copy of Alfred's translation of the Pastoral Care,(132) Otho C. XIII, an early copy of Layamon, and Otho C. I, volume one, an Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospels.

The greatest blot on Forshall's record in the conservation of the Cotton Manuscripts is the work on the burnt Magna Carta, Cotton Charter xiii. 31a. In May 1834, he drew the Trustees' attention to the condition of 'Magna Carta and the ancient and otherwise valuable charters in the Cottonian MS. Augustus A.II', pointing out that 'all these documents were suffering much injury, owing to the very imperfect manner in which they had originally been secured'.(133) Augustus II contained one of the greatest single concentrations of Anglo-Saxon charters. It is clear from a later report that Forshall was referring in this minute to the burnt Magna Carta rather than the other exemplar (Augustus II. 106).(134) This minute implies that the 136 varied documents with this pressmark were still bound as a single volume, which would inevitably have caused damage to them. Forshall recommended that Hogarth, the restorer who had been used in unrolling and fixing the Egyptian papyri (then kept in the Manuscripts Department), should repair and secure the charters.(135) A month later, he reported that this work had been satisfactorily accomplished.(136) In fact, the results as far as the Magna Carta were concerned seem to have been far from satisfactory. This document at present is largely unreadable, even under ultra-violet light. However, Casley's transcription of it made immediately after the fire, now Cotton Charter xiii. 31b, gives a virtually complete text.(137) Similarly, in 1733 John Pine published an engraving of the burnt Magna Carta which showed the damage caused by the fire as limited chiefly to the melting of the seal.(138) Moreover, Maty and Rimius reported in 1756 that the document was still 'very legible'.(139) This certainly could not be said of its present condition. Most of the damage to this document was, therefore, probably due to the repair work of 1834 rather than the fire, a conclusion supported by Madden's comment that this copy of Magna Carta was 'Injured in the fire of 1731 (and still more by the injudicious treatment it received from Mr Hogarth).'(140)

Forshall's restoration work received some public attention during the proceedings of a parliamentary Select Committee into the administration of the Museum in 1835-6. The committee had been disturbed by Forshall's statement that 'There were in the year 1824 a great quantity of crusts or fragments of manuscripts remaining unopened'.(141) Pressed by the committee, Forshall explained that he referred only to 'the fragments and relics left by the fire, namely, the remnants of about 130 volumes, which were damaged to a considerable extent, and perhaps much more than one half of them, being those manuscripts that were very much damaged, remained in the same condition until the year 1824...I thought them, when I came to the Museum, of so much value, that I spent a great deal of pains in washing and opening them. The operation took up much time, and occasioned some expense'.(142) Questioned as to how he knew that there were not other Cotton Manuscripts worth unrolling, Forshall emphasized that such a judgement depended on the description in Smith's catalogue, claiming that the value of a burnt crust could be 'ascertained in most cases from bare inspection', and that the crusts left unconserved were not worth the expense of unrolling.(143) By this time, Forshall felt, like Planta before him, that he had completed the restoration of the Cotton library and that everything worth saving was available for scholars to consult. He repeatedly told the Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts, Frederic Madden, that no further Cotton fragments of any value were preserved in the Museum.(144)

During the Easter week of 1827, the Manuscript collections of the Museum were transferred from Montagu House to the accommodation in the new Museum building which (until the opening of the St Pancras building) they still occupy.(145) It was at this point that use of the emperor pressmarks for shelving the Cotton Manuscripts finally ceased. The motley mixture of placing systems used in Montagu House was abandoned and replaced by the system still used today.(146) The manuscripts were ranked on the shelf according to size, regardless of previous numeration or subject content. They were then given a separate pressmark. At first, this consisted of a roman numeral for the press and a letter for the shelf; from the mid-nineteenth century, arabic numerals were used for the press. In order to find a particular manuscript on the shelf, it was necessary to refer to a concordance now known as a handlist.(147) These pressmarks were pencilled on the flyleaf. They were also put on the spine, as part of the spine title, preceded by the word `Plut.' for Pluteus or shelf.(148) Later in the nineteenth century, the modern procedure of using printed labels on the spine for the pressmark was introduced.(149)


One of the 1835-6 Select Committee's principal recommendations was that the office of Secretary of the Museum should no longer be combined with one of the Keeperships, and, by April 1837, Forshall had confided to his assistant, Sir Frederic Madden, his intention to retain the office of Secretary and resign as Keeper of Manuscripts.(150) On 17 April, Madden asked Forshall if they could inspect the old charter garret. Madden's diary records what they found:(151)

Mr Forshall...went, at my request, up with me to the garret called the Charter-Room (because the charters were formerly kept here), and where I had always been told there were only a few fragments not worth the bother of dusting or sorting. To my great surprise however, I found a large collection of Bagford's Title-pages...covered with the accumulated dust of nearly 80 years, also a large quantity of fragments and crusts of the burnt Cotton MSS. many of which appeared to me well worth the process of restoration. Mr F. had always assured me he had selected from them every thing worth preserving, but I saw enough before me to doubt the accuracy of his statement, and going on with my searches, I discovered in an old cupboard the identical Cartulary of Christ Church Twinham in Hampshire [Tiberius D. VI], which I have so often and so fruitlessly inquired after, and very little the worse for the fire, except being wrinkled up! Is not this very disgraceful of the Keepers of MSS. from the middle of the last century to the present day?...I saw enough to make me resolve in my own mind, to have the entire room cleared out, whenever it should be my lot to be Keeper of the MSS. and I resolved at once to bring down into my own room the two large bundles which formed the Christ Church Cartulary, and a third bundle which apparently contains an English Chronicle. I left up in the garret fragments of crusts of vellum enough to fill several bushel baskets, likewise a box full of receipts of Sir Robert Cotton's, and three boxes said to contain the refuse of the Hargrave collection. It is very much to the discredit of Mr F that affairs should have remained thus, and so I believe he felt, when I produced to him the long lost Christ Church Cartulary, which he had declared to me over and over again could not by any possibility exist!

Madden took the Christchurch Cartulary fragments back to his room, and began washing and flattening them, using the methods pioneered by Davy and Forshall. His personal diary for 26 April 1837 notes:

Continued the washing & pressing of the burnt Cartulary of Ch. Ch. Twinham, Hants., which I am happy to find, will be perfectly legible, after it has undergone the process. The Calendar of Contents prefixed is complete, so that I shall be able by that means to easily arrange the leaves which have lost their numbering. The account given of this Priory in the New Editn. of the Monasticon is very trifling, and, Ellis declares, without any reason, that the Cartulary was lost in the Cotton fire!(152)

In July 1837, Madden was appointed Keeper of Manuscripts. On 16 August, he began to 'make a list of all the Cotton MSS. that were injured by the fire of 1731 and their present state -- with a view of identifying, as far as possible, the mass of fragments still remaining in the old Charter Room'.(153) On his return from holiday in October 1837, Madden badgered Forshall into handing over the keys of the charter room,(154) and immediately made a further examination of its contents. He gave a detailed account of the material stored there in his work diary for 31 October 1837 (afterwards adding notes on further investigations undertaken during November):

Went up in the old Charter Room & looked out Bagford's long neglected loose collections -- also the remainder of the Cartulary of Ch[rist] Ch[urch] Twinham, Hants and many other valuable fragments which I propose to have restored. The contents of this room are at present as follows.
1. A very large box filled with fragments of burnt vellum Cotton MSS. the greater part broken and single leaves. In a dreadful state of dirt and confusion. (lock)
2. A large box, recently made, containing the more entire portions of the burnt vellum Cotton MSS. (lock)
3. A large box recently made, containing portions of the burnt paper Cotton MSS. and also bundles of Cotton bills & Accounts & c. (lock)
4. A box, locked, but found to be empty, when forced open on 23d Nov.
5. A larger box, containing Hargrave law papers (opened 23 Nov.)
6. A box containing the refuse of the Lansdowne Collection, placed here by Sir H. Ellis (Nailed down)(155)
7. A small box containing papers relating to the British Fishery Company (chiefly powers of attorney) and some miscellaneous papers of no value, the latter placed there by myself.(156)

As Madden's annotations indicate, these precious boxes of Cotton fragments were locked up again after he had examined them, but he removed some of the larger vellum fragments and on 2 November again spent most of the day personally washing and flattening the further fragments of the cartulary of Christchurch Priory he had found.(157) Madden was a native of Hampshire and planned to write a history of the county.(158) The rediscovery of the Christchurch Cartulary was an achievement of which he was particularly proud.(159)

The fact that Madden himself made the first attempts at restoring the Christchurch Cartulary indicates the limited resources for major conservation work at his disposal. He doubted whether the Museum's binder, Charles Tuckett, was equal to the intricate task of dealing with the brittle vellum fragments. Forshall had preferred to use Hogarth on more delicate work, such as unrolling the Egyptian papyri, and even he had caused great damage when working on the burnt Magna Carta. On 11 January 1838, Madden reported to the Trustees:

that he has received from Dr [Bulkeley] Bandinel, chief librarian of the Bodleian Library, and Dr [Philip] Bliss, Registrar, very strong testimonials in favour of a person named [Henry] Gough, who has been extensively employed to repair, inlay, and restore damaged manuscripts in the Bodleian and several of the College Libraries at Oxford...[He] recommends most seriously, that he should be permitted to have a trial, in the restoration of the burnt Cotton charters (now from the state in which they are in, impossible to be used), and also on a few of the most valuable MSS. such as the Greek psalter on papyrus, purchased of Dr Hogg;(160) the fragments of the burnt Cotton Genesis; the remains of the Saxon Boethius, and other Saxon fragments, which cannot at present [be] consulted without injury to them, and which require a very practiced hand to restore them. Dr Bandinel assures Sir F.M. that the terms of Gough are very moderate. He is at present still employed at Oxford, but will shortly come up to London.(161)

It is evident that Madden did not at this stage envisage using Gough for a full-scale restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts. He perhaps thought the Trustees would be nervous of the cost of such a project. Instead, he seems to have intended using Gough to protect those manuscripts of which large sections had been recovered by Forshall and which were in danger of damage as a result of the handling of loose unprotected leaves in the Reading Room. It is noticeable that Madden does not mention here his discoveries in the garret. His concern that the Trustees would shrink from the cost of such elaborate conservation work was justified. On 26 May, they refused Gough's services.(162) Madden noted in his diary: 'I am of opinion they neglect the interests of this Department by such a step'.(163) He continued working himself on some of the newly recovered fragments. In his personal diary for 17 July 1838, he wrote: 'Went up in the Old Charter Room and finished looking over the larger box containing the burnt Cotton fragments, and selecting the best portion. Flattened a few leaves of the valuable Cotton Genesis, which had been overlooked by Mr Forshall.'(164) On the following day, he 'Flattened some fragments of Saxon MSS. and discovered two leaves of the curious Proverbs ascribed to Alfred [Galba A. XIX], supposed to have been totally destroyed in the fire'.(165)

The impetus for the full restoration of the Cotton collection came not from Madden, but from that ubiquitous figure in nineteenth-century manuscript studies, Sir Thomas Phillipps. On 10 October 1838 Phillipps wrote to William Richard Hamilton, a Museum Trustee, expressing his concern about the condition of the damaged Cotton Manuscripts and suggesting that the most valuable should be transcribed before they were sent for binding.(166) The Trustees were at last persuaded of the need for action and instructed Madden to repair a report on the damaged Cotton Manuscripts, indicating which were sufficiently important to be worth the expense of transcription.

Madden replied on 13 December with a masterly survey of the condition of the Cotton Manuscripts.(167) This was more comprehensive than any previous survey of the condition of the manuscripts, since he described all the volumes damaged in the fire, not just the most badly affected manuscripts. He divided the damaged manuscripts (as distinct from the fragments) into three classes. The first comprised 'Those MSS. which by the agency of heat have been compressed and corrugated, with the edges burnt, and in many cases, broken, torn, and dirtied. These are in number 35, all of which, if skilfully flattened, inlaid and repaired, might be protected from further injury, and rendered in a comparatively good condition for general use'.(168) Madden pointed out that 'Many of these MSS. are among the most valuable of those possessed by the Museum, such for instance, as the unique Saxon poem of Beowulf [Vitellius A. XV], the Saxon Grammar of Ælfric [Julius A. II], a copy of the Saxon Chronicle [Tiberius B. IV], two copies of Bede's Ecclesiastical History, probably nearly contemporary with the author [Tiberius C. II, and presumably Tiberius A. XIV, although this was in fact stored as loose leaves at this time, and was elsewhere correctly assigned by Madden to the third class]; two exceedingly curious copies of Aratus & c., with illuminations, of the tenth and eleventh centuries [Tiberius B. V and C. I], a Psalter with a Saxon Gloss [Tiberius C. VI]; the Cartulary of Worcester with the Saxon Charters & c. [Tiberius A. XIII]'. He observed that 'None of these MSS. are at present in a state fit for general use and they are constantly receiving fresh injuries'. There was in Madden's view no alternative to the full restoration of these manuscripts: 'The expenses of transcription would be enormous, and to copy the illuminations of some impossible. Sir F.M. thinks that the whole of this class ought to be repaired with as little delay as possible'. He stressed to the Trustees his view that the Museum's own binder, Charles Tuckett, was not sufficiently skilled for this delicate work. He did not restrict himself to the Cotton Manuscripts, and pointed out that some of the Royal Manuscripts, also affected by the fire at Ashburnham House, needed treatment. He drew the Trustees' attention in particular to Royal MS. 15 C. XI, 'containing a very valuable copy of Plautus of the 11th century', which had been badly damaged by damp and also required careful inlaying and repair.

Madden's second class of damaged manuscripts consisted of 'those MSS. (chiefly on paper) which have been burnt on the edges and part of the writing injured or are otherwise out of repair.' These manuscripts were no less valuable than those in the first class, since they 'comprehend a very large portion of the original State Correspondence between England and other countries from the reign of Henry the Eighth to the reign of James the First'. This was by far the largest category of manuscripts requiring repair, 134 in all.(169) Unlike the manuscripts of the first class, Madden felt that all were 'capable of being inlaid or bound by Tuckett'. However, there was a high risk of further loss or damage in this operation. Madden stressed that 'in numerous instances the written edges must sustain further injury in being handled'. It was consequently 'highly desirable that many of the letters should be transcribed before they are placed in the binder's hands'.

The third class of damaged manuscripts consisted of those loose leaves in solander cases, chiefly the manuscripts reclaimed by Forshall but also including a number which Planta had been reluctant to have bound up. Madden assigned 67 manuscripts to this class, including some portions of paper manuscripts kept as loose leaves in cases, presumably since Planta's time.(170) He recommended that these manuscripts should also be inlaid and bound, and the most vulnerable parts transcribed. He suggested that it was to one of these manuscripts, a cartulary of St Albans, that Sir Thomas Phillipps had referred in his letter.(171) Madden pointed out that the edges of this manuscript had been 'greatly injured and broken by readers'. This was certainly a manuscript worthy of full transcription.

This, Madden emphasized, was merely the tip of the iceberg, namely those manuscripts available in the Reading Room and kept with the main manuscript collections. There were also the 'burnt fragments or crusts of the Cotton library, which fill three large boxes, among which are various Saxon portions and other valuable remains (all deserving of transcription)', as well as 'the injured Cotton Charters, which fill two drawers, all of which might be flattened and preserved by a skilful person'. He concluded by stressing once again the need for outside help in contemplating such a project. He sought to 'press on the attention of the Trustees...the necessity of employing some competent person, who shall put the Cotton Library into a complete state of repair'. He also returned to an old hobbyhorse, the need of attaching a transcriber to the department 'whose sole business should be to transcribe and copy. The utility of such a measure must soon become apparent, for many of the Royal and other autographs are wearing out from constant use, and the same is the case in regard to the Indexes to the Heraldic Visitations and collections of pedigrees'.

Madden's report provided a blueprint for the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts. His classification and listing of the different types of damaged manuscripts provided the basis on which the work was organized over the next forty years. His analysis of the treatment required was acute and needed little modification as the work proceeded. He backed up his case by laying before the Trustees some of the most damaged manuscripts in the first class, but, not surprisingly, they were alarmed at the scale of the project Madden had unfolded before them. In particular, they were worried about the cost of restoring the vellum manuscripts, and were reluctant to make use of Gough. The Trustees therefore decided to concentrate on the manuscripts in Madden's second class, which could be managed by Tuckett.

They ordered that the damaged paper manuscripts should be repaired, and on 10 January 1839, Madden presented them with a detailed list of these manuscripts.(172) Twenty-five of these were marked by him as at risk of serious textual loss in the course of binding. He described these as consisting largely 'of Original State Correspondence and Papers between England and France, 1577-1620, between England and Belgium, 1516-1586, and between England and Rome, 1509-1529'. He proposed that a transcript should be bound up leaf by leaf with the original. The remaining manuscripts in this list only required careful repairing and rebinding, so that the labour of transcribing their contents before binding was not justifiable. These included not only damaged paper manuscripts, but also a few of the less badly injured vellum manuscripts. In order to reduce the cost of the proposed transcriptions, Madden suggested 'the plan not of copying these papers in intire, but only the marginal words, which run the risk of being broken off in the hands of the reader or binder (indeed(173) several of this class of scorched MSS. have already materially so suffered), and after the transcript is made, to bind it up leaf by leaf with the original.'(174)

Madden describes the Trustees' reactions to his proposals: 'although they saw with their own eyes & confessed the necessity, yet the expense (about 300£) seemed such a bugbear in their eyes, that they would only authorise me to have one volume done in the manner I proposed'.(175) It was agreed to prepare a transcript of Caligula E. VII as a trial.(176) The experiment proved unsuccessful. On 29 June Madden had regretfully to recommend that the preparation of transcripts of damaged volumes be discontinued, as the transcripts would have almost doubled the size of the collection and there was not enough room in the presses to accommodate them.(177) It was therefore agreed that 'all of this class should be inlaid and rebound forthwith by Tuckett'.(178) On 11 July 1839, work finally began in earnest. Madden gave Tuckett the binder Caligula E. VII, as well as one of the injured Saxon charters.(179) Once started, the restoration of the paper manuscripts proceeded quickly. By the end of 1841 the bulk of the manuscripts in this category had been successfully repaired.(180)

Madden had not forgotten the damaged vellum manuscripts. His reaction to the Trustees' decision to concentrate on the paper manuscripts was to urge on them 'the propriety of placing certain restrictions on the use of the damaged Cotton MSS. until they shall have been secured against further injury'.(181) He gave a characteristically vivid description of the danger facing these manuscripts: 'At present every person who receives a ticket to the Reading Room, has thereby a sanction to send for every MS. in the collection, without regard to its condition or value, and it may be adviseable, without placing any check to the researches of persons properly qualified to examine MSS. to put these arrangements on a somewhat different footing.' Manuscripts were at this time read in the general Reading Room.(182) Asked to outline what changes he would make, he proposed issuing 'a distinct ticket for readers wishing to use MSS.'(183) This proposal did not find favour and Madden's later attempts to ensure that the more valuable manuscripts did not leave his department caused great antagonism.(184)

During 1840, although much preoccupied with the repair of the paper manuscripts, Madden nevertheless found time to make some preliminary notes on the contents of the boxes of burnt fragments and to prepare a further detailed schedule of the current condition of the damaged manuscripts.(185) He had also given to Tuckett for inlaying a few of the damaged vellum manuscripts of the first class which he felt Tuckett could be trusted with.(186)

The continued threat to the vellum manuscripts that resulted from allowing them to remain as loose leaves is illustrated by an incident involving Forshall. Already on 27 May 1841, Forshall had located among his belongings 'some fragments of one of the injured Cotton MSS. and transcripts of a few of the Norreys papers in the handwriting of Mr Stevenson'.(187) On 3 April 1843, Madden was checking a transcription of Tiberius A. X and found ff. 141-172 missing.(188) He ordered an immediate search. Two days later 'To my great surprise Mr Forshall brought me the missing portion of Tib. A X, ff. 141-172 together with some other fragments of vellum Cotton MSS. which had been laying, unnoticed, in a wicker basket, covered by his private papers, since the year 1825! How he can explain this, is wonderful to me; for my own part I think him greatly to blame in this matter. Among the fragments in this basket I found portions of the 2d text of Layamon, which I am vexed at, as I have been prevented from including the lines in my edition'.(189)

In 1841, Madden returned to the offensive on behalf of the vellum manuscripts, and on 5 May he again drew the Trustees' attention to 'the deplorable condition of the valuable Cottonian MSS. on vellum' and 'the injuries to which they are now daily subject. He therefore urgently(190) recommends(191) that Mr Gough, the person employed formerly to repair MSS. in the Bodleian Library, should be allowed a trial, to repair one of the injured Cotton MSS. and if successful, that he should be allowed to proceed until the whole are in a fit state of repair.'(192) The timing of this report was perfect. Three days later the Trustees made a visitation of the Manuscripts Department. Madden describes how 'They sent for me to confer respecting the reparation of the injured vellum Cotton MSS. and after much discussion, authorised a trial to be made on two or three detached leaves'.(193) With an evident sense of relief, Madden noted that 'The address of H. Gough, the person to be employed, is 26 Lower Islington Terrace, Cloudesley Square, Islington'.(194) Gough called on Madden and Sir Frederic 'placed in his hands three vellum leaves much injured, to flatten and inlay'.(195)

On 29 May, Gough returned to Madden the three trial leaves. As a further test, Madden gave him three more 'of a better description'.(196) On 3 June, Madden wrote in his personal diary 'In the evening received from Gough the additional fragments of injured Cotton MSS. that I placed in his hands...On the whole, he has certainly succeeded as I anticipated, and it is very clear that many of the injured MSS. may be carefully inlaid & rendered fit for use.'(197) On 9 June, Madden submitted the fragments flattened and inlaid by Gough to the Trustees and reported:(198) 'Mr Gough would be willing to employ his time in this description of work at the rate of 12s. per diem, from 9 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon. He estimates the time and labor expended on the six fragments placed in his hands to be about a day's work, but he states that if regularly employed, a much greater number of leaves, say from 10 to 16 might be taken in hand at the same time, & consequently greater progress made.(199) Sir F.M. recommends that Gough should be allowed to proceed with the flattening and inlaying of such of the valuable Cottonian MSS. as are at present in loose leaves, such as the Saxon Boethius, Otho A. VI, the interlineary Saxon Psalter, Vitell. E. XVIII, the Saxon Gospels and Gregory's Dialogues, Otho C. I, Alcuin's Letters, Tib. A. XV, the Cartulary of Christchurch Twinham, Tib. D. VI. etc. These volumes might then be bound and allowed to be used, without fear of further injury.' Thus Madden's first priority was to inlay the manuscripts separated by Forshall and preserved as loose leaves, with the addition of the Christchurch Cartulary, treated by Madden himself in the same way. Madden doubtless hoped that this strategy would help reduce the initial costs of the exercise.

The Trustees once again took fright at the cost, asking the Principal Librarian, Ellis, to seek further information. Madden was furious. 'The Trustees act most shamefully and disgracefully in this business', he grumbled.(200) His exasperation is evident in his reply of July 1 to Ellis.(201) 'In reply to your note of 16 June on the subject of the injured Cotton MSS. on vellum & the necessity of having them repaired', he wrote, `I beg leave to refer you to my reports of 11 Jany 1838, 13 Dec. 1838, 3 Jan. 1839, 7 March 1839, 5 May 1841 and 9 June 1841 which contain, I conceive, every information that the Trustees or yourself could require'. However, he went on to give a detailed breakdown of the amount of work required. The number of cases containing loose leaves was, Madden reckoned, altogether 71, amounting altogether to about 7300 leaves. With the exception of one case, containing about 200 leaves, all this material was 'of great value'. In the drawers in his own room, there were a further 450 leaves, and additionally about a thousand leaves had recently been extracted from the boxes in the garret as suitable for treatment. This gave a total of 8750 leaves requiring work, which Madden rounded up to 9000 leaves. Madden guessed that, of these, about 2900 leaves were from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Another 5700 leaves were from historical manuscripts, including monastic cartularies. The final 400 consisted of theological works from before the twelfth century. Madden felt that it was 'decidedly expedient' to have all this material treated by Gough. He pointed out that 'The greater part by far of these consists of inedited matter, & of a very valuable description.' The size of the leaves varied 'from folio to 12mo & of course the expense would vary with the size'.

Despite these detailed figures, it was still difficult to produce an accurate costing of the work, and Madden urged that, to establish this, Gough should be allowed 'to flatten and inlay three of these MSS. simultaneously'. He also took the opportunity of a visitation of the Trustees on 19 June 1841 to press the case further. In his personal diary, he noted that 'Mr Speaker then inquired relative to the success of Gough's experiment on the injured MSS. and came into my private room, accompanied by the Archbishop, Lord Ashburton, and others, and I shewed them and urged the necessity of repairing the Cotton vellum MSS. seriatim. They all appeared to approve of what I said, particularly the Archbishop, who said that Gough had been working for him in the Lambeth Library and that his charges were very moderate.'(202) Eventually, on 15 July, the Trustees authorized Madden to employ Gough to flatten and inlay three of the damaged vellum manuscripts stored as loose leaves, namely the Vitellius Psalter (Vitellius E. XVIII), the Christchurch Cartulary (Tiberius D. VI) and the volume containing a copy of Alcuin's letters (Tiberius A. XV). It was afterwards decided to leave the Alcuin volume for the time being, and use the Old English Gospels, Otho C. I, volume one, for the trial instead.(203)

It was some time before Gough was able to start work. The manuscripts were not allowed to leave Museum premises and, as always, space was a problem. In his work diary for 19 November 1841, Madden noted showing Gough the rooms beneath the Manuscripts Department and elsewhere, and discussing the subject with Ellis. 'The only room he can possibly use (before Hogarth finishes his work) is the small room underneath my own, which is very badly lighted and very damp. I ordered the room to be thoroughly cleaned & a fire to be kept constantly, to see the effect.'(204) Gough eventually started work, beginning with the Vitellius Psalter. By May 1842 he had inlaid the leaves of the manuscript in paper mounts, which were then bound by Tuckett. By November 1842, he had also inlaid Otho C. I and Tiberius D. VI, which were similarly bound up by Tuckett.(205)

On 10 November 1842, Madden laid the results of Gough's work before the Trustees:

For nearly a century none of these MSS. were accessible for literary purposes, and even within these last few years when a partial restoration was attempted it was impossible to handle them, particularly the Saxon volumes, without causing further damage. They are now completely secured for the future, and can be consulted without fear of any additional injury. In regard to the expense, the great value of the MSS. of this class, in Sir F. M.'s opinion, sufficiently authorise it and he begs leave to remark, that in the payments made to Gough, no charge is made by him for the tracing paper at 12s. per quire or isinglass at 14s per lb.; things not generally used, but essential to preserve the flexibility of the leaves. Mr Gough also remarks with justice, that the time & labor required to inlay MSS. that have previously been flattened by incisions (as is the case with those now completed) is far greater than if the leaves had remained intact. The great proportion however of the MSS. proposed to be restored and inlaid, are of the latter class. Sir F.M. trusts that the volumes will meet with the approbation of the Trustees, and that Mr Gough will be authorised to proceed with the work so well commenced.(206)

Despite Madden's reassurances, the Trustees, worried at the expense, would agree to Gough's working only on 'four or five of the more valuable MSS. which Sir F.M. is to select'.(207) Madden chose Tiberius B. V, Tiberius C. VI, Otho A. VI and 'one without a number', a household book of Edward I. Gough completed these by April 1843, then delivered what must have been a body-blow to Madden, by writing on 19 April to say that 'having made his mind to reside at Oxford, he should resign his employment at the Museum'.(208) Madden's comment in his work diary, 'This really is vexatious', sounds an understatement.(209)

Two days later, when Gough brought up to Madden the inlaid leaves of Tiberius C. VI and Otho A. VI, Madden tried to persuade him to change his mind. Madden recorded that 'He will discontinue his work here for the present, but I am in hopes that he will be able to give 3 months of his time yearly to the Museum, after he is settled in Oxford'.(210) Gough's departure put paid to further work on the vellum manuscripts in 1843, and Madden had to report to the Trustees that 'no person could be found to supply Gough's place, and until he resumes and proceeds with the work undertaken by him, Sir F. M. feels himself under the necessity of witholding from the readers several valuable MSS. too much injured to be handled'.(211)

In January 1844, Gough was able to resume the work for three months,(212) but it was not until January 1845 that Madden was able finally to settle this problem. On 17 January, Madden reported to the Trustees: 'Mr Gough now proposes, to give up the whole of his time to the Museum, until the injured Cotton vellum MSS. are entirely restored; and to facilitate this, he begs to be allowed an assistant at the rate of 5d per diem.'(213) The assistant Gough had in mind was his son Philip, who started work at the Museum in March 1845, and continued until November 1849.(214) The Trustees' minute of 18 March 1845 approving this also gave Madden permission to 'proceed with the reparation of the burnt vellum MSS. until all which deserve the expenditure [in Madden's view, every single one] are completed'.(215)

For nearly seven years Madden had been seeking authorization from the Trustees for a full programme for the restoration of the damaged Cotton Manuscripts. At last he had secured it. He interpreted the Trustees' instructions as widely as possible. Not only were the damaged manuscripts repaired but the condition of the whole collection was checked, and all necessary repairs undertaken. Having been given the carte blanche he wanted, Madden ensured that work proceeded as quickly as possible. 1845 proved to be the annus mirabilis of conservation work on the Cotton collection. Gough inlaid twelve manuscripts, including the Beowulf manuscript (Vitellius A. XV), the early Bede (Tiberius A. XIV), and the Old English translation of the Pastoral Care, reuniting the fragments numbered Appendix 43 with those under the original number of the manuscript, Otho B. III, as well as cartularies from Chertsey and Winchcombe.(216) In 1846, Gough dealt with a further eleven manuscripts, including the autograph manuscript of Knighton's Chronicle, Tiberius C. VII, and Otho B. XI, a tenth-century compilation of Old English historical works, including a translation of Bede and a version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.(217)

In the meantime, Tuckett had continued with the paper manuscripts and some of the less badly damaged vellum material. Indeed, Madden's confidence in Tuckett's ability to deal with damaged vellum manuscripts increased, and from 1847 Tuckett was allowed to inlay the leaves of some of the older vellum manuscripts.(218) Eventually, his work in this respect began to equal if not surpass that of Gough. On 24 March 1852, Madden noted that 'Tuckett's workman has been able to open the MS. of Capgrave [Otho D. IX] which Gough injured so much. I shall put the worst in his hands. Gough's work could draw to a close in another twelvemonth or so'.(219)

By 1852, the Trustees were growing anxious about the length of time the restoration was taking, and asked Madden to indicate 'which of these MSS. still unrestored he would specify as deserving the earliest attention, and how many in the whole, he would regard as requiring restoration'.(220) This was a difficult question to answer. At the beginning of his work on the Cotton Manuscripts, Madden had been able to find manuscripts from the loose fragments which were still largely intact and could be readily identified. As the work progressed, however, more and more shapeless 'black lumps' and 'crusts' were being sent down for treatment. These could not be identified until they were opened up and flattened. Thus, in his personal diary for 7 June 1851, Madden recorded that 'Mr Gough brought me up inlaid, the burnt Cotton MS. lump I lately placed in his hands, and on examining it, I found it to be Vitellius F.III, which is stated to be totally lost both by Casley and Planta. It contains the Lives of several saints & c. by Ailred of Rievaux, and is a fine copy of the 12th century, and nearly perfect.'(221)

Madden therefore laid before the Trustees a selection of the burnt lumps and crusts to show them the impossibility of ascertaining their contents 'in their present miserable state of cremation, dirt and neglect'.(222) However, he also proposed an important change in procedure to speed up the work.(223) He suggested 'that instead of taking each single lump, and fragment, and after flattening it, proceeding to inlay it, as at present, that for the present Mr Gough should be directed to confine his operations wholly to the task of cleaning, separating and flattening, until the whole have been done. By this means, very great progress could be made, and Sir F. M. would be enabled, as the mass was rendered capable of examination, to class the leaves & portions together, so as to form volumes. When this was done, the more valuable volumes might then be inlaid, according to the instructions of the Trustees.' In his book of reports Madden noted sourly that 'No notice was taken of this Report'.(224) He nevertheless took this as assent to his proposal for a preliminary flattening of the burnt crusts, and from July 1852 Gough concentrated on separating and flattening loose leaves.(225) During 1852, not only were Tiberius B. VI, Otho A. VII, Otho C. XI, part of Otho D. X, Otho E. XII and XIII, and Vitellius F. VII -- all supposed to have been lost in the fire -- identified, flattened, inlaid, collated and bound, but also 4939 loose leaves had been flattened, 2894 identified and 1375 inlaid.(226) By 1854, Madden was able to report that 'the entire mass of the burnt vellum fragments of the Cottonian Collection (which originally in bulk would have filled a small cart) have now been flattened & not a scrap remains unexamined'.(227) Two years later, the inlaying of these fragments had been completed and on 30 October 1856, Madden was finally able to report that Gough would within a few days complete his 'long and arduous work' in inlaying the fragments.(228)

Madden lost no opportunity to publicize these achievements. In 1850, a Royal Commission investigated the Museum. Madden proudly laid before them some examples of restored Cotton Manuscripts, including the Christchurch Cartulary, and described how two hundred of the damaged manuscripts had been inlaid and of the vellum alone about 7,000 leaves, of which 2,000 had been inlaid in 1849.(229) The centrepiece of the first public exhibition of manuscripts at the Museum in 1851, arranged on the occasion of the Great Exhibition, was a drawing commissioned by Gough from the miniaturist and accomplished imitator of medieval manuscripts, Caleb W. Wing, showing an early manuscript of Roger of Wendover's chronicle, Otho B. V, before and after its restoration by Gough.(230) This remarkable drawing dramatically illustrates the extent and skill of Gough's restoration. Indeed, this was more like resurrection than restoration.(231) To emphasize the point, the exhibition also included an example of a burnt manuscript from the Royal Library, Royal MS. 9 C. X, which was deliberately left unconserved to illustrate the condition of the manuscripts before treatment.(232)

The departure of Gough did not mark the end of the work on the Cotton Manuscripts. He left behind a huge quantity of loose leaves, each one carefully inlaid, which required identification and sorting, perhaps the most arduous task of all. In the early 1860s, Madden enlisted the help of a number of his brightest assistants, including the young Edward Maunde Thompson, in a final assault on the fragments.(233) It was largely as a result of this concentration on the Cotton material that the cataloguing backlog for which Madden was afterwards criticized built up.(234) By 1864, this last work on the fragments was well advanced. Madden could afford to feel, if not complacent, then at least pleased with himself for having pushed to the verge of completion one of the largest programmes of manuscript conservation ever undertaken, even if the Trustees failed to recognize its importance. On 10 March 1864, Madden recorded in his personal diary:

Gave into the hands of Mr Thompson, one of my assistants, the whole of the remaining vellum fragments of the Cottonian Collection, not yet bound, or not identified, with instructions for him and Mr Scott [Edward Scott, afterwards Keeper of Manuscripts], to go carefully over them, and arrange such as are identified, and then identify, as far as possible, the rest. I have long had this work at heart, as, when it is done, I shall be able finally to bind up in boards the whole of what now remains of the loose 'refuse' of the Cotton MSS. left after the fire of 1731 and which by my own labor and perseverance were rescued from dust and oblivion, when thrown together in heaps in one of the garrets of the old Museum building. I shall be truly glad to get this completed before I quit the Museum. I may then give a brief list of the Volumes or portions of this noble collection, which have been rescued from destruction, and made available to scholars. I have received no thanks from the Trustees, nor indeed from the Public, for the pains I have taken since 1844 to restore these missing portions of the Cottonian Collection, but I have the satisfaction of my own conscience in having undertaken and carried out a task so onerous and difficult, that I do not believe any other man living would have attempted it.(235)

When he wrote these words, Madden was unaware that the work on the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts was about to receive its greatest setback.

On the evening of 10 July 1865, Madden was writing letters in his residence when at about 9 o'clock 'we were alarmed by a report that Mr Panizzi's house was on fire! It was the work of a few moments to fly downstairs, put on my boots and overcoat, get out the Museum keys, and rush into the Court. The first thing I saw was an immense column of black smoke, followed by flames, rising apparently out of the corridor leading to Mr. P's house, but on approaching closer, I perceived that the fire was not in the corridor but in Tuckett's the binder's work shops! The sight was terrible, for I knew that many MSS. of value had lately been sent down to him!'(236) The Museum's fire drill did not prove very effective. Policemen with vital keys could not be found; the fireman was on leave, and no trained replacements could be found, so that on the first attempt to use the fire hydrants, the hose burst; Panizzi was (as usual, comments Madden) dining out, and did not return until midnight; when the fire brigade, summoned by telegram, arrived after half an hour with two fire engines, only one could be used. 'Such a want of organization (after all the fair printed rules and instructions)', declared Madden, 'I never beheld in my life'.

The fire raged for over an hour. By 10.15 pm it had been put out, and Madden sent one of his attendants, George Gatfield, to try and find out which manuscripts had been damaged. Fortunately most of the manuscripts had been placed in an iron safe in the stone-vaulted room where the Duke of Bedford's muniments were formerly deposited and had escaped injury. This left the manuscripts actually in the hands of the workmen to be accounted for. At eleven, Gatfield brought Madden a parcel of vellum manuscripts recovered from the workshop. It was burnt on the outside and saturated with water. 'I could not tell what they were, but put them away to dry. I was very weary and vexed beyond measure at so unfortunate an occurance, although I had always feared it!'

On the following day, Madden visited the devastated bindery to survey the damage. It appeared that the cause of the fire was a charcoal brazier in the finishing room, and the manuscripts left overnight in this room had been destroyed and damaged. Madden ordered one of the assistants, Richard Sims, to make a complete list of manuscripts sent down to the binder, and check it by those returned so as to ascertain the extent of the loss. 'The MSS. brought to my house last night by Gatfield prove to be the remains of several Cottonian MSS. which after having had so much labor & time expended on them, in flattening, inlaying, identifying, collating & arranging, had been finally described and sent down to be bound. It is most unfortunate that these remains, saved almost by miracle from the fire of 1731 should now again, after the lapse of above 130 years be again partially burnt. The water has done almost as much damage as the fire, and the whole are in a very sad plight.'

Madden gave his deputy, Edward Augustus Bond, instructions as to the salvage work to be undertaken on the manuscripts, and went to acquaint some of the Trustees with the bad news. He returned to the scene of the disaster in the afternoon. 'Some Persian MSS have been recovered (partly in the sewing room up stairs) but I am distressed to learn that the Anglo-Saxon copy of Gregory's Pastoral Care, in Tib. B. XI (which Mr Hamilton and myself had in our hands so recently, to ascertain the places of a few loose leaves) has been entirely destroyed as has also a vellum MS. of the Arundel Collection, No. 243.' The techniques used by Madden and his staff in trying to rescue the damaged manuscripts were much the same as those employed in 1731: 'All my Assistants, aided by Mr Bond and myself, were at work to separate the burnt & soaked leaves of vellum and paper, and then, with the help of one of C. Tuckett's men, to wash them, and hang them on lines to dry.' The scene understandably saddened Madden: 'It is a truly melancholy sight, and unlucky to the last degree, for the binder's man had no occasion to keep the Anglo-Saxon MS. out all night. It ought to have been restored to the iron safe. I met Mr. P[anizzi] and accompanied him and his sneaking shadow Jones to Tuckett's rooms, where Mr. P. behaved like a brute!'

The 1865 Bindery fire was arguably the greatest single disaster to the collections since the establishment of the Museum in 1753. In terms of the quality and importance of material destroyed, the loss was greater than the destruction of a large number of printed books by enemy action during World War II. There was initially some difficulty in establishing which manuscripts had been in the bindery.(237) One at least (Arundel MS. 152) had been taken down as a pattern without Madden's knowledge. Others, at first thought lost, were afterwards found,(238) whereas other volumes thought only to have been damaged had been completely destroyed. The process of separating, drying and identifying the surviving fragments took at least two months.(239)

The most notable loss was Tiberius B. XI, a late ninth-century copy of King Alfred's Old English translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care. Madden described the circumstances of its destruction: 'it lay on a board immediately above the bin of charcoal, and a slate slab was placed above it. The slate flew into fragments from the heat, and the MS. (a good thick folio written on vellum, bound in russia) must have fallen into the midst of the burning charcoal.'(240) Eight tiny fragments from Tiberius B. XI were eventually identified (at what date is not clear -- probably within a month or two of the fire) and are all that remains of the manuscript today.(241)

In the event, three Cotton Manuscripts were completely destroyed in the fire: Galba A. I, II and III. Galba A. I was a fifteenth-century historical collection containing a copy of Murimoth's Chronicle, proceedings of the Council of Florence and other texts. Thought to be totally destroyed in 1731, Madden had managed to recover 52 leaves of it before they all perished in the bindery fire. Galba A. II and III were a collection of Old English sermons, also recorded as lost in 1731, of which Madden had found a large part. In addition to Tiberius B. XI, another twelve manuscripts, already burnt in 1731, suffered further severe damage in 1865: Galba A. XIX, Otho A. I, IX-XII, XIV, Otho B. III-IV, IX, XII and Tiberius E. XI. Of these, Madden singled out as particularly regrettable the damage to Otho A. X, containing the unique text of Æthelweard's chronicle, and Otho A. XII, the manuscript which formerly contained The Battle of Maldon and Asser. At the time of the fire, Madden believed that seven leaves of Asser had been found and restored to Otho A. XII. In fact, these leaves were from the text of Æthelweard in Otho A. X.(242)

Apart from the Cotton Manuscripts, which bore the brunt of the effects of the fire, Arundel MS. 343 and Egerton MSS. 1961 and 1962 were completely destroyed. Arundel MS. 152 and Additional MSS. 25686 and 25805 were severely damaged. A final blow was the loss of the complete impression of the third volume of Madden's long-standing bugbear, the Catalogue of Maps and Topographical Drawings, on which Madden's former Assistant Keeper, John Holmes, had, to Madden's great annoyance, laboured for many years, which Madden himself had spent a great amount of time finally preparing for the press after Holmes' death, and for which Madden had prepared an important appendix of corrections and additions, only to see it suppressed by Panizzi and the Trustees. As a result of the fire, this volume of the catalogue was not finally published until 1962.(243)

The undoing of so much of his recent work on the Cotton Manuscripts devastated Madden. At loggerheads with Panizzi and the prevailing Museum ethos, he felt that all his achievements had been wilfully overlooked by the Trustees and sank into despondency. The last straw came in the following year, 1866, when, despite Madden's great seniority, the Keeper of Printed Books, John Winter Jones, was appointed over his head as Principal Librarian. He decided to retire. On 12 July 1866, he submitted a last memorial to the Trustees reminding them how, in the twenty-nine years since he had been appointed Keeper, the collections had doubled in size, accurate registers and inventories of the manuscripts been prepared, and many catalogues produced.(244) He then went on to describe his work on the Cotton Manuscripts: 'it is not too much for me to say, that, after the lapse of more than twenty years, I may claim, without egotism, the title of the Restorer of the Cottonian Library, for out of the number of volumes supposed to be lost or destroyed, above one hundred under my direction and superintendence have been in great measure recovered, and the whole of the damaged volumes have been repaired, and rendered accessible'.

He retired on 29 September 1866. His official diary for the previous Saturday, 22 September, describes how he took his leave of the Cotton Manuscripts:

Completed notes of Cotton MSS. and placed in Mr Thompson's hands the whole of the remaining fragments on vellum & paper of the Cotton MSS. to be prepared for the binder. I now say Finis to my long and arduous labors on this Collection during so many years, by means of which upwards of 100 volumes have been restored for use supposed to be lost or totally useless! The schedule of injured MSS. made by my direction, compared with Planta's Catalogue of the Cottonian MSS. in 1802 will prove the extent of what I have done, but for which I have neither received recompense nor thanks!!(245)


The story of Madden's forty-year struggle to restore fully the Cotton Manuscripts is a heroic one, with, perhaps, a whiff of tragedy in its conclusion. The scale of the achievement of Madden and his colleagues is even more apparent when the techniques used in recovering these burnt manuscripts are considered. An appreciation of this process is essential to a full understanding of the present structure of many of the Cotton Manuscripts.

The records of Madden's work on the Cotton Manuscripts are voluminous. Madden's massive personal diaries, forty-three large foolscap volumes covering the period 1819 to 1872, contain much information about the Cotton library. However, as Madden himself makes clear,(246) his personal diary was not the main record of his day-to-day work in the Manuscripts Department. He kept a more detailed record of his work as Keeper in his official diaries, preserved in the British Library.(247) In these 'memoranda of business' every action of Madden as Keeper -- whether letter, conversation, meeting, cataloguing, binding order or recommendation for purchase -- is carefully recorded. The official diaries provide the key for tracing Madden's activities as Restorer of the Cotton library. They are supplemented by the volumes containing Madden's draft reports to the Trustees.(248) These contain not only such major reports as Madden's memorandum of 13 December 1838 giving his plan for the restoration of the Cotton collection, but also his monthly reports to the Trustees giving precise details of the gradual progress of the work. Some assistance in tracing the main reports relating to the Cotton collection is provided by three notebooks compiled by Madden containing digests of key information from his reports and elsewhere arranged alphabetically by subject.(249) These notebooks were intended to assist Madden in giving evidence to the Royal Commission into the Museum in 1848 and 1849.

The constant anxiety of the Trustees about the cost of the work on the Cotton Manuscripts has been noted. In July 1849, Madden 'Began to make a complete list of the Cotton MSS. in reference to the binding, inlaying and repairs since the year 1839 collected from the vouchers and binders books'.(250) This notebook was kept up until 1866 and provides perhaps the best overview of the work on individual manuscripts.(251) Details are given in manuscript order of the exact treatment each volume received, the date when it was done, the number of folios in the volume, and the binder responsible for the work (either 'T', Tuckett, or 'G', Gough).(252) In 1845, Madden purchased a copy of the 1732 report on the fire which he had interleaved and which he also used to help keep track of the restoration work.(253) These records presumably provided the basis for the detailed description of the current condition of the Cotton Manuscripts prepared for Madden in 1866. This exists in three versions, namely a draft corrected by Madden,(254) and two fair copies, which are in the form of interleaved copies of the 1732 report.(255)

A number of Madden's working lists and notes on damaged Cotton Manuscripts also survive, but are difficult to use because they have been bound up in the wrong order.(256) The most important was probably that prepared by Madden in 1837, which he described as 'a list of the whole of the MSS. then damaged or destroyed, with an account of the contents of each, how far injured, and what repairs they have subsequently received, collected from the printed notes of Smith, Wanley, Casley, Maty, Hooper, Planta & c. and the MS. notes of Mr Forshall and himself'. Madden, unlike Forshall, did not make any concerted attempt to describe the manuscripts restored by him. The only exceptions were some of the State Papers, for which Madden and his Assistant Keeper, Bond, prepared detailed lists of the articles not noted in Planta. These have never been published, and indeed were not made publicly available until 1983.(257)

Of great value are the numerous annotations by Madden in the copy of Planta kept in the Keeper of Manuscripts' Room and preserved in the Departmental Reference library. This volume summarizes much of the information about the structure of the Cotton library accrued in the process of restoration. Nevertheless, it is a bewildering and patchy compilation. The rearrangement, reidentification and recovery of masses of material is recorded in a very piecemeal fashion, through a mass of scribbled notes, many of them by Madden and sometimes vitriolic in their denunciation of earlier workers on the collection. Another valuable source for the history of the restoration under Madden is the printed annual returns of progress in the British Museum, which list each of the Cotton Manuscripts restored year by year.(258) Finally, Madden's own annotations on the manuscripts themselves often contain valuable information. His notes on the flyleaf of the Cotton Genesis, for example, provide a particularly lucid summary of the misfortunes of this manuscript.

Much of this material lay hidden from public view until recently. Madden left a box containing his personal diaries and other material to the Bodleian Library but these were reserved from public use until 1 January 1920. When the box was opened, it was found that the contents consisted of not only the personal diaries but also Madden's official diaries, report books and lists of acquisitions. Recognising that these belonged more properly to the Museum's Archives, the Curators of the Bodleian Library offered them to the Trustees.(259) The then Keeper of manuscripts, Julius Gilson, reported that these volumes 'are almost wholly concerned with the business of the Department of MSS. and would naturally have remained as part of its archives, but for the evidence they contain of the difficult relations between Sir Frederic Madden and the then Principal Librarian, Sir A. Panizzi'. Gilson therefore recommended that this material should be accepted as a gift to the Museum, but proposed that 'they remain part of the archives of the department instead of being placed with collections open to the public, to whom they would be of little use'.(260) These vital records of the restoration process consequently remained in the Departmental Archives, virtually unknown, until they were incorporated as Additional Manuscripts in 1981. Similarly, Madden's notes on his restoration work, including the ledger recording the work on each manuscript, were kept in the Departmental Archives until 1983, when they were also made Additional Manuscripts.

Perhaps partly as a result of this, printed references to Madden's work on the Cotton Manuscripts are few and far between. In 1854, Gustav Waagen, in his guide to Treasures of Art in Great Britain, described how in 1835, on his first visit to the British Museum, the leaves of the Cotton Genesis were 'still quite crumpled up with the effects of the fire'. By 1854, 'they had been successfully smoothed out, and mounted on separate sheets of paper, so as to admit a due estimate being formed of their style of art'.(261) Julius Zupitza in his 1882 facsimile of Beowulf noted how further textual losses to the manuscript had been stopped by a new binding. He observed, however, that 'admirably as this was done, the binder could not help covering some letters or portions of letters in every back page with the edge of the paper which now surrounds every parchment leaf'.(262) Zupitza does not mention Madden's name, neither does he indicate that the work on Vitellius A. XV was part of a general restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts. A few other editions of texts rescued by Madden also mentioned his work.(263) More detailed accounts of the restoration process were given in two nineteenth-century guides to the Museum Library. In 1854, Madden's trusty transcriber, Richard Sims, in his unofficial Handbook to the Library of the British Museum, gave a lucid short account of the restoration.(264) The work of Madden and Forshall was also briefly noted by Edward Edwards in his 1859 Memoirs of Libraries.(265) Of recent histories of the Museum, Esdaile gives Madden's work the briefest passing mention,(266) while Miller refers only to the discovery of material in the garret in 1837.(267)

It was not until 1981 that the procedures adopted by Madden and his binders in restoring the Cotton Manuscripts were first described in detail, by Professor Kevin S. Kiernan in his groundbreaking book Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript. Kiernan describes the procedure adopted in inlaying the individual leaves of the Beowulf manuscript in the following terms:

The binder first made pencil tracings of the separate folio leaves on sheets of heavy construction paper. These tracings are usually quite visible in the MS...the binder then cut out the center of the paper, following the outline, but leaving from 1 to 2 mm. of paper within the traced line, so that the frame would be slightly smaller than the vellum leaf it was designed to hold. Paste was then applied to this marginal retaining space, and the folio was pressed into place. Finally, transparent paper strips were pasted on like Scotch tape along the edge of the vellum on the recto, thus to secure the mounted leaf from both sides.(268)

Kiernan points out the advantages of this procedure. It saves having to handle the vellum while consulting the manuscript. Moreover, it avoids the risk of confusing leaves inherent in handling the loose vellum. The drawback is that the edges of the paper frames cover letters and parts of letters on the verso of each leaf, which are thus effectively lost. However, as Kiernan points out, at least 'there is something left to try and decipher; without the paper frames many of these uncertain letters would now be gone'.(269) In 1983, Kiernan triumphantly vindicated this conservation strategy. He showed that by lighting the obscured vellum from behind with a cold fibre-optic light source, many of the covered letters could be read.(270) Recently, Kiernan has used a digital camera to record images of the obscured letters and demonstrated the use of computer imaging to restore the hidden letters to their place in the manuscript.(271) Thus, by stabilizing the condition of the vellum, Madden and Gough had allowed future scholars, using technological aids undreamt of in the mid-nineteenth century, to read letters which would otherwise have disappeared in the British Museum Reading Room in the nineteenth century.

Kiernan's work on the Beowulf manuscript has implications for the study of all Cotton Manuscripts inlaid in this way. Wherever the text on the verso of an inlaid leaf runs up to the edge of the paper frame, there is likely to be text concealed beneath the edge of the mount, which may be read with the aid of fibre-optic backlighting. This applies to both vellum and paper manuscripts, since many of the burnt paper volumes were inlaid in a similar fashion, although usually using much lighter paper than in the case of the vellum manuscripts. Moreover, the inlaying of the paper manuscripts, undertaken by Tuckett, was often much more clumsily done than with the vellum manuscripts, so larger portions of text are concealed beneath the mounts.

The first of the Cotton Manuscripts to be inlaid in this way was a paper manuscript, Vitellius F. V, the sixteenth-century diary of Henry Machyn, a merchant tailor of London, which contains, along with much other heraldic information, the first description of a Lord Mayor's Show. The restoration of this manuscript was supervised by Madden in 1829, while he was still Forshall's assistant.(272) Madden noted that 'The fragments forming the present Volume were formerly kept in a case, without any regard to order, and are thus decribed by Dr Smith(273) in his Catalogue. "Cod. chartac. in fol. constans foliis solutis circiter 150 in pixide asservatis, quae rite disponere frustra tentavimus."'(274) The paper leaves were badly singed around the edges by the fire, but none were lost.(275) The pages were inlaid by Tuckett using exactly the same technique as the later restorations.(276) Much lighter paper was used for the frames of Vitellius F. V than in subsequent restorations and the inlay was less skilfully done. Nevertheless, the result is an impressive first attempt. Just as in the Beowulf manuscript, the paper mounts conceal odd letters and words around the edges of the leaves on the verso which can now be read by the use of fibre-optic light.(277)

Madden took the inlaid leaves of Vitellius F. V and compared them with Strype, who, in Madden's words, 'made use of the MS. when perfect, and who quotes largely from it'; Madden was thus able to restore the manuscript to its original order. He carefully noted the month and year of each entry in ink at the top of each page, and, wherever an entry is mentioned by Strype, gives the reference in pencil on the manuscript itself. His comment on the work might serve as a motto for the whole restoration process: 'The curiosity and value of these fragments seemed a sufficient warrant for the labor and time consumed in arranging them in their present form'.(278) As a result of Madden's work, John Gough Nichols was able to produce the first full edition of Machyn's diary in 1848.(279)

Madden was sufficiently pleased with the results of this first experiment to have two further burnt paper manuscripts in the Vitellius press, Vitellius F. IV and VIII (which afterwards turned out to in fact be folios 1-95 of Otho D. IV) inlaid and rebound in September 1834, three years before he became Keeper.(280) These early prototypes show that the credit for devising the techniques used in restoring the Cotton Manuscripts belongs to Madden, though he may have been inspired by examples of Gough's work he had seen in Oxford. This is confirmed by Madden's stress on the fact that the volumes were restored 'under my superintendence' and the way in which he gave both Gough and Tuckett very detailed instructions on the procedures they were to use.

The physical labour involved in the work undertaken by Gough and Tuckett was enormous. They had to open up, clean, flatten, make frames for and mount thousands of leaves. Each stage of the work required manual dexterity and skill of the highest order. Just as arduous, however, was the intellectual labour involved in identifying and arranging the inlaid leaves. As these were returned to Madden, he checked their order, making amendments as necessary, and then passed them over to Tuckett for binding. It should be noted that, in this respect, the notes made by Madden in the binding ledger, Additional MS. 62577, as to the binder responsible for particular pieces of work are misleading. Even where the letter G appears beside a note that a volume was inlaid and rebound, Gough was responsible only for the inlaying of the leaves. The inlaid folios arranged by Madden were actually bound up by Tuckett. Gough's time was too valuable to be spent on such routine tasks.(281)

Madden provides little information in his diaries and elsewhere as to the exact procedures adopted by him in sorting and arranging the inlaid leaves.(282) References to work on individual manuscripts are usually frustratingly vague, but it is clear that, in establishing the order of the leaves, he relied heavily on early catalogues such as Smith and Wanley. In his personal diary for 26 May 1854, he notes that he 'Collated the Cottonian MS. Otho D. X (now inlaid) with Smith's list of contents. Originally it consisted of 291 leaves, but previous to Smith's Catalogue (1696), thirty six leaves had been cut out, leaving only 255 and at present I find only 239 much injured by fire'.(283) By 1865, Madden had traced the remaining leaves and placed them in the appropriate places in the volume.(284) In other cases, the process of arrangement was more complex. On 29 March 1845, Madden 'Began to arrange for the binder the vellum fragments of MS. Cotton Otho B. II containing Alfred's Saxon version of Gregory de Cura Pastorale. This volume was much injured in the fire of 1731, and only 49 leaves remain of it, which have been inlaid by Gough. I am enabled to place them in order by comparing each leaf with the printed Latin text of Gregory's work, a tedious and rather difficult task.'(285) Madden was still engaged on this work four months later.(286) The reconstructed Otho B. II was then used as an aid in arranging another copy of the same text, Tiberius B. XI.(287)

The complexity of the task confronting by Madden and the care with which he carried it out is evident, to take a random example, from a collection of twelfth-century historical works, Otho D. VII. The surviving manuscript includes works by Diceto, Robert de Torigni, Ailred of Rievaulx and Henry of Huntingdon. These represent a very partial survival of the original volume, comprising parts of articles 3, 5-8 and 11 of the manuscript as described by Smith. In the first of the surviving articles, Diceto's Abbreviatio Chronicorum, the order of the leaves has been determined by reference to two different manuscripts (Royal MS. 13 E. VI and Cotton MS. Claudius E. III) together with Twysden's printed edition. Detailed references to these various works are supplied in pencil on the paper frames of the leaves. On f. 10 a reference to the Royal MS. has been replaced with one from Claudius E. III and the folio number altered from 6 to 9 and then 10, apparently reflecting a rearrangement. Between ff. 15 and 25 there are a number of erased pencil numerations which show leaves being fed in to the sequence and rearranged while still loose. After f. 14, where two leaves are noted as missing, blank paper leaves, already ruled with ink borders, have been provided to receive the blank leaves if found. On ff. 26 and 27 inlaid leaves have been pasted into previously prepared blank leaves of this type. Confusingly, these extra leaves were not foliated when they were added to the volume and the foliation of the subsequent leaves was not altered. Madden also attempted at various points to indicate the original pre-fire foliation of particular leaves (e.g. ff. 62-65). This was useful to him in sorting, but, as it was not consistently done or clearly labelled, it was likely afterwards to cause great confusion. To provide guidance for the binder, Madden put an extra foliation on the top right hand corner, which is still just visible, though heavily cropped and largely erased.

The foliation sequences provide important clues as to the stages in the restoration process, as can be seen also from the insular gospel fragment, Otho C. V.(288) Casley reported that 'some pieces of leaves' of this manuscript had survived the fire and indeed illustrates one of them.(289) Nevertheless, the manuscript is described as wanting by Planta. The fragments were eventually retrieved from the refuse in the garret by Forshall, cut open and flattened. The manuscript consisted in 1841 of sixty loose leaves.(290) However, six of the fragments thought by Forshall to belong to Otho C. V were in fact from Otho A. I.(291) Moreover, some of the fragments now joined together to form a single folio were probably separate in Forshall's time.(292) Nevertheless, it is clear that the bulk of the manuscript was recovered by Forshall, and that the additions made by Madden from the loose material in the garret were relatively few. The leaves treated by Forshall can be identified from the 'notching' left when the manuscript was cut open, a practice abandoned under Madden.(293) The volume, including the six leaves from Otho A. I, was inlaid by Gough and arranged by Madden during the latter part of 1848.(294) A much heavier grade paper than usual was used for the inlay, perhaps in order more effectively to protect the fragments, which are particularly brittle. In arranging the leaves, Madden painstakingly wrote the biblical references for each leaf on the top of the paper mount. Some of the points at which identification proved particularly difficult are evident from the occasional erasure and correction of these references.(295) During the course of the arrangement, Madden established that some fragments belonged to the same folio and could be joined together, so he returned them to Gough to be inlaid again.(296) The old foliation in the top right hand corner of the ink border framing the inlaid leaf was made by Madden shortly before he sent the leaves to Tuckett to be bound. Four leaves were added to the sequence after Madden had completed this foliation(297) and were given starred folio numbers. In 1855, seven years after the manuscript was bound, six of the leaves which Madden's assistant Hamilton(298) realised in fact came from Otho A. I(299) were removed.(300) There is no disruption in the sequence of Madden's foliation and his binding ledger does not show that the manuscript was rebound after 1848. The most reasonable inference from this is that the leaves from Otho A. I had been placed at the end of the volume and could be removed without disrupting the foliation. At the same time as the leaves from Otho A. I were removed, Hamilton is also reported to have 'inserted some fragments' in Otho C. V.(301) Since the only indication of any disruption in the foliation are the four starred folios, the most likely explanation is that these are the fragments identified by Hamilton, which were presumably tipped in to the old binding. Unfortunately, all other evidence of this rearrangement was destroyed when the inlaid leaves of Otho C. V were mounted on guards and rebound in 1963.(302)

Although the various foliations are vital evidence of the restoration process, one of the weaknesses of Madden's work was the confusion he left in the referencing system of particular manuscripts. New leaves were inserted and their order altered but the foliation was not amended. Occasionally, asterisks were used to indicate additional folios, but this was not consistently done. Thus, in Vitellius C. VIII, Madden inserted new material after Planta's f. 139. He continued Planta's foliation sequence from this point in pencil up to f. 153, then used starred foliation for some further added leaves. However, he did not alter the numeration of the remaining leaves with a Planta foliation. As a result, before 1875, the manuscript contained two sets of ff. 148-153. Such a situation was clearly unsatisfactory, and was one of the reasons for the refoliation of all the Cotton Manuscripts in the 1870s and 1880s, when Madden's successors, Bond and Thompson, introduced the system of foliation still used in the Department of Manuscripts.(303)

The work performed by Madden and his team on the arrangement of the restored leaves was a bibliographical and palaeographical tour de force. Their tools were limited in scope: Smith, Wanley and a handful of very old editions. Many of the fragments were scorched and shrunk beyond recognition. Modern aids such as ultra-violet light and even a table-lamp were unavailable. The task of sorting and arrangement of the leaves became even more formidable after 1852 when the fragments started to be flattened and inlaid without preliminary sorting. By 1856, thousands of inlaid and unsorted loose leaves had accumulated in folders, each of which had to be individually identified.

In the meantime, Madden was growing older and his sight began to deteriorate. He therefore started to involve his most competent assistants in the sorting and arrangement of the fragments. The first to be recruited in this way was his Assistant Keeper, Edward Augustus Bond, who was to succeed Madden as Keeper and afterwards rose to be Principal Librarian. In 1850, Madden noted that he 'Gave Tiberius A. XV into Mr Bond's hands to arrange.'(304) Bond was also extensively involved in work on the State Papers. Some of Madden's assistants were unequal to the task. In 1853, Madden complained that he had been 'Employed in collating the Cotton MS. Otho D. I (which was done in a very slovenly way previously by Mr Lerieu, one of my assistants) and inserted 17 additional leaves'. Three years later, 'Mr Lerieu brought me the remains of MS. Cott. Calig. D. X, XI, E. I and E. II which have been in his hands ever since 1852'.(305)

More enthusiastic about the work was N.E.S.A. Hamilton, who in 1876 published the Inquisitio Comitatus Cantabrigiensis,(306) a text which came to his attention as a result of his work with the Cotton Manuscripts. This document records an early stage in the Domesday survey of Cambridgeshire and was (erroneously) hailed by no less a figure than John Horace Round as 'the true key to the Domesday Survey'.(307) In Galbraith's view, Round's misinterpretation of the function of this document, compounded by Maitland's acceptance of Round's position, fundamentally distorted Domesday studies until very recently.(308) Hamilton's edition of the Inquisitio was dedicated to the memory of Madden, 'the greatest palaeographer of the age', and in his introduction Hamilton described how he had been asked by Madden 'to arrange and where possible to restore to their proper places a considerable number of separate and damaged leaves, which were known to belong to manuscripts in the Cotton collection; and it was while thus employed that he made the discovery of the important nature of the Domesday portion of the manuscript [Tiberius A. VI].'(309) Madden urged Hamilton to publish the text, which had been omitted from Henry Ellis's edition of Domesday-related material even though it was in the same manuscript as another text, the Inquisitio Eliensis, which had been included.(310)

Hamilton did a great deal of work on the Cotton fragments, but was not wholly reliable. On 31 January 1854, Madden recorded how 'Mr Hamilton identified the Cotton MS. Append. XXXI to be Vitellius F.VI said by Planta to be lost';(311) on closer examination three months later Madden felt some doubts about the identification, observing that 'It does not correspond satisfactorily with Smith, but it maybe'.(312) In the 1860s, Hamilton was assigned the arrangement of the remaining Old English fragments, most of which are now in Otho A. VIII, Otho B. X and Otho B. XI.(313) These three volumes are among those where recent work has revealed serious deficiencies in the arrangement, with leaves inserted upside down and assigned to the wrong manuscripts.(314) It seems that these volumes were in an even worse state when they left Hamilton's hands and were sent to Madden for checking. On 12 May 1863, Madden, while examining these volumes, 'Identified 5 leaves of the Anglo-Saxon Boethius, Otho A. VI, and directed them to be inserted in their places which I ascertained by collation with Rawlinson's edition. Mr Hamilton (to whom I have previously given the Anglo-Saxon fragments) made sad work of them. Five leaves of Boethius he notes as "Colloquy. Description of Britain"!!'.(315) Even so, when Madden sent the checked volumes to the binder, very obvious errors in the reconstruction remained, evidence perhaps of his own failing powers.(316)

Madden's most important associate in the task of identifying and arranging the fragments was the young Edward Maunde Thompson. Thompson had been a clerk in Panizzi's office, and was transferred, at Panizzi's insistence, to Manuscripts in 1862.(317) Despite this unpromising start, he soon distinguished himself. In May 1863, Thompson identified article 3 of Vitellius A. III(318), located a number of fragments from Otho A. III and rearranged Vitellius A. VII.(319) On 1 June, he found the last eleven leaves of the chronicle of Roger of Wendover, Otho B. V.(320) 'This is important', Madden declared.(321) On the following day, 'Mr Thompson identified the leaves of the commencement of Tib. A. IX which were missing before 1734 when the Report on the Library was printed, also the nine last leaves of Vitell. A. VIII.'(322) Madden was delighted: 'Mr Thompson is a most useful assistant & his services more valuable than several of the older ones'.(323) However, even Thompson was not above making mistakes. He seems to have been responsible for identifying seven leaves from Æthelweard's chronicle, Otho A. X, as part of the unique manuscript of Asser, the first article of Otho A. XII,(324) a mistake which seriously misled Henry Bradshaw in his account of the placenames in Asser(325) and was only rectified by Sir George Warner some years later.(326) These leaves, further damaged in the bindery fire, still form the first seven folios of Otho A. XII. It is perhaps only when mistakes like this come to light that the modern reader becomes conscious that many of the Cotton Manuscripts are in a way replicas or reconstitutions, made from the original materials by Madden and his colleagues. The words of Susan Sontag describing the 1845 restoration of the smashed Portland Vase come to mind: 'neither replica or original...A perfect job of reconstruction, for the time'.(327)

Madden's great enterprise has been exhaustively described here, but there are still many other aspects of the work which would be worth further investigation. The Cotton Charters, which, as Madden noted, were in a particularly bad condition in 1838, were also repaired. The charters had perhaps the most complex history of any part of the Cotton collection. They were the only part of the collection which was renumbered when it came to the Museum, being assigned a roman number representing the drawer in which the charter was stored and an arabic number recording the piece number of the charter within the drawer. The original Cotton Charters only extend as far as XVI.3. The numbers from this point onwards were assigned by Samuel Ayscough to various unnumbered charters and seal impressions while he was compiling his catalogue of charters in the 1790s.(328) These included a number of Harleian charters.(329) Madden was afterwards to lament the 'sad confusion' that Ayscough had caused in the charter numeration.(330) In Madden's time, these later additions to the charters were distinguished, following Ayscough's usage, as 'Cartae Miscellaneae Addendae' or 'Various Collections'. During the Bond's Keepership (1866-78), the use of a separate designation for these charters ceased, and they have since always been referred to as Cotton Charters and Rolls. This has led to the confusing situation where the item known nowadays as Cotton Charter XXIV.17 was in fact presented to the Museum by Mr Leake of Middlewich in 1788.(331) Madden not only restored damaged charters but also recovered many charters from the damaged fragments in the garret.(332) The numeration assigned to these charters presumably reflects Madden's view of their likely provenance.

Hand in hand with the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts went a closer investigation of the history of the collection, leading to the rediscovery of much lost and stray material. Madden compiled a detailed list of lost or strayed Cotton Manuscripts.(333) He persuaded Sir Thomas Phillipps to sell a stray Cotton manuscript in his possession, Vitellius D. IX, to the Museum at a special price.(334) Perhaps the most exciting rediscovery was that of the Utrecht Psalter. On 1 December 1856, Madden 'Received a letter from Mr D. Laing giving me a description of a MS. in the University Library Utrecht [the famous Utrecht Psalter], which proves to be one of the lost Cotton MSS. Claudius C.VII which is marked Deest in Smith's Catalogue of 1696...Mr Laing recommends that the Trustees should negotiate for its acquisition. I think so too.'(335)

The second half of the nineteenth century saw a great leap forward in critical and editorial standards. Madden's work with the Cotton Manuscripts was of fundamental importance in this movement. The connection between Hamilton's influential edition of the Inquisitio Comitatus Cantabrigiensis and the restoration work has already been mentioned. Madden rescued important manuscripts of many of the key English historical sources edited in the Rolls Series and elsewhere, such as (to take two random examples) one of only two extant manuscripts of Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum (Otho B. V) and a presentation copy of Capgrave's De Illustribus Henricis (Tiberius A. VIII). Moreover, the work on the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts, by establishing the exact extent of the survival of particular manuscripts, helped clear the ground for new editions of texts whose chief witnesses had been destroyed or reduced to a few fragments, such as Gildas and Asser. Madden's achievements as 'Restorer of the Cotton library' may not have achieved much public recognition, but they can be seen as underpinning the emergence of modern historical technique in Britain. This is reflected in the prominence of those most closely associated with the work on the Cotton Manuscripts -- Thompson, Hamilton, Bond and Madden himself -- in the editing of the Rolls Series.


The two main published catalogues of the Cotton Library, those of Thomas Smith, published in 1696, and Joseph Planta, published in 1802, had both, within fifty years of their publication, ceased to be accurate guides to the collection they describe. The 1731 fire reduced Smith's catalogue overnight to the status of a historical document: an indispensable guide to the contents of the collection before the fire but no longer an up-to-date working catalogue. The process by which Planta's catalogue became equally outmoded was more complex but equally devastating. Criticisms of it had begun to be widely voiced as early as the 1830s. Most telling were those made by Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas in his Observations on the State of Historical Literature, published in 1830. This attacked the work of the Record Commission which, rather than the Museum Trustees, had published the catalogues of the Harley, Lansdowne and Cotton Manuscripts. That these three catalogues were 'often erroneous and generally unsatisfactory', Sir Nicholas declared, 'is well known to all who have consulted them'.(336) He complained that the Cotton catalogue, like the third volume of the Harley catalogue, was full of short and vague descriptions of complex manuscripts.(337) He also attacked the accuracy of the catalogue: 'The descriptions of the manuscripts are not unfrequently erroneous, and what is equally material, the general index at the end of the volume is extremely incomplete. For example, the Cottonian collection contains the highly valuable chronicle of Lanercost, but no special reference is to be found to it in the general index; and other omissions of equal consequence might easily be cited.'(338)

In giving evidence to the 1836 Select Committee on the Museum, Nicolas not only repeated the criticisms in his earlier pamphlet, but also also drew attention to the problem of the burnt manuscripts. He noted that Planta did not give any indication as to the contents of manuscripts thought to be completely lost, and offered no hint that any further fragments might still be surviving in the Museum.(339) Forshall's initial restoration work had, of course, already rendered Planta seriously out of date in this respect and it was no longer an accurate statement of those Cotton Manuscripts which were available for consultation in the Reading Room. Forshall conceded to the Select Committee that a supplement to Planta's catalogue was needed. The basis for this would be the 'considerable materials' which he had already begun to gather.(340)

Planta's inadequate treatment of the burnt and missing manuscripts was a glaring deficiency in his catalogue. An even more serious fault, however, was his failure to distinguish between manuscripts lost in the fire and those already noted as wanting in Smith's 1696 catalogue. Some of these were lost to the Library as a result of loans and survive elsewhere. Others may simply have been phantoms which never existed.(341)

As Madden's restoration work proceeded, the refrain of 'deest' and 'desideratur' which echoes through Planta's catalogue became more and more misleading. Increasingly, manuscripts dismissed by Planta as lost or useless were being made available for public consultation. Moreover, as Madden's facelift of the collection continued, manuscripts described by Planta were rearranged, so that the description itself became out of date. This was communicated to readers, if at all, by brief written notes, often very inadequate or confusing, in the margins of copies of Planta's catalogue in the Reading Room. Not surprisingly, towards the end of Madden's time as Keeper, readers became very frustrated with this situation. Madden's personal diary for 6 December 1861 contains the following entry:

Saw Mr Panizzi in his room, who shewed me a printed sheet sent to him by the post, anonymously, in which some person bearing no good will to the Dept. of MSS. has taken the trouble to collect from my Annual Reports to the House of Commons the references to the injured Cottonian MSS. which have been restored by my direction and under my superintendence, and then by way of a grievance, asking why a copy of Smith's Catalogue of 1696 has not been placed in the Reading Room, with an account of those MSS. which had been restored. My answer is thus, to this anonymous piece of spite.
1. There is a copy of Smith's Catalogue in the Reading Room & always has been.
2. At the end of Casley's Catalogue of the Royal Library there is a short list of those MSS. damaged or lost by fire in 1731.
3. A great part of the MSS. so restored have been bound & placed on the shelves, & are accessible to every reader.
4. Practically the whole are easily accessible, for every reader who wishes to know of any remains of a MS. (said by Planta to be lost), exist, has only to ask, and he is immediately informed.
5. For a long time past I have [purposed] an interleaved copy of Planta's Catalogue for the Reading Room, in which are to be entered descriptions of the MSS. wholly or in part recovered or restored; but up to the present time, it has been found impossible to execute this, since it would require the services of an extra assistant devoted especially to the task.(342)

Despite his dusty reply to this anonymous criticism, Madden was conscious of the need to provide better information about the availability of particular Cotton Manuscripts. In June 1861, he had pointed out to the Trustees that all the restored manuscripts needed to be described, and that Planta's catalogue 'requires careful revision, and additions to be made; to do which would require a good palaeographer & one well versed in English History and Middle Age literature'.(343)

As Madden approached the end of his work on the manuscripts, he had prepared a detailed account of the current condition of those reported as lost or injured by the parliamentary committee of 1732.(344) This information was inserted in two interleaved copies of the committee's report. One was retained for internal Departmental use. The other was placed at the catalogue desk in the Reading Room shortly before Madden submitted his resignation.(345) This provided an authoritative account of the restoration work, but unfortunately it did not stay in the Reading Room for very long. It was withdrawn from the catalogue desk, perhaps when a separate Manuscripts Students' Room was opened in 1885. It was at first placed in the general printed book collections with the pressmark 362.b.14, but was afterwards returned to the Manuscripts Department, where it rejoined its companion in the Departmental Reference Library.(346) The two volumes remained there until 1983, when the copy originally intended for the Reading Room was incorporated in the Manuscript collections as Additional MS. 62573. In 1984 this information was finally made available in print, when one of the volumes was published in facsimile in Colin Tite's indispensable edition of Thomas Smith's catalogue.(347)

The interleaved copy of the parliamentary report is the only convenient statement available of the work done by Madden on the Cotton Manuscripts but is nevertheless unsatisfactory in a number of ways. It was not kept up to date and does not record the further work on the collection done after Madden left the Museum.(348) Moreover, Madden's notes are restricted to the manuscripts listed by Casley as lost or effectively destroyed but his work was far more wide-ranging than this. Many leaves were added to manuscripts described by Casley as damaged but usable, and there are only indirect references to the extensive work undertaken in rearranging and sorting the manuscripts in the Appendix. Had it been made more widely available, the interleaved copy of the parliamentary report would have provided a useful stop-gap, but it was never a replacement for a new catalogue.

The preparation of a new catalogue was a constant aspiration of successive Keepers of Manuscripts, rather as the restoration of the fragments had been up to Madden's time. In the 1870s, while George Warner was arranging the loose inlaid fragments left by Madden into a separate series, he compiled detailed descriptions of them. Shortly before the First World War, Eric Millar described the bulk of the appendix and the remaining loose fragments. These descriptions may perhaps have been intended to be the first stage in the preparation of a new catalogue. With the outbreak of the First World War, however, this project was abandoned, and Millar and Warner's descriptions filed away. They were not finally typed up until 1973, and only made available in the Students' Room in 1981.(349)

In 1931, the tercentenary of Cotton's death, a special exhibition of his finest manuscripts was held in the King's Library. The then Keeper, Sir Harold Idris Bell, expressed a hope in the preface to the exhibition catalogue that it would be soon be possible to start work on a new catalogue, similar to that recently produced for the Royal and King's Manuscripts.(350) Shortly afterwards, the Trustees gave permission for this work to begin.(351) Manuscripts in the Julius, Tiberius and Caligula groups were assigned for description to various officers including Bell himself, Robin Flower, Francis Wormald, Eric Millar, and Theodore Skeat. The rules drawn up for the new catalogue still survive. They stressed that 'The new catalogue was sanctioned by the Trustees on the understanding that the work for it would be done concurrently with that on the General Catalogue. It is important that it should not interfere too much with the latter, the arrears in which, though reduced, are as yet by no means overtaken. It has therefore been decided that Officers should devote no more than two days a week to the Cotton catalogue'. It was proposed to issue the catalogue in a series of fascicules, with the first volume containing descriptions of the earlier manuscripts, arranged in Emperor order. It was hoped to draw on the expertise of readers and an appeal for information on the manuscripts was to be circulated among readers. F. M. Powicke and V. H. Galbraith were to be consulted on the treatment of chronicles and F. M. Stenton was to act as advisor on the cartularies. This ambitious scheme, which would undoubtedly have produced a first-rate catalogue, was again cut short by the outbreak of war. The dispersal of staff and collections during the war, as well as such vicissitudes as the destruction during the Blitz of the printers stock of the descriptions of the Catalogue of Additions to the Manuscripts for 1921-1925 and part of 1926-1930, meant that an arrear of publication built up which is only just being eradicated.(352)


The retirement of Madden did not mark the conclusion of work on the restoration of the Cotton Manuscripts. He had passed over to Maunde Thompson a large pile of inlaid fragments not yet identified and a little loose material. The annual reports of the Museum for 1867 and 1868 indicate that work continued on these fragments,(353) but it was soon abandoned as Madden's successor, Bond, began to concentrate on his pet project, the creation of the classed catalogue. When Maunde Thompson himself became Keeper in 1878, the decision seems to have been taken to bind up the remaining inlaid fragments in separate volumes. Rather than attempting to reunite these with their parent volumes, detailed descriptions were prepared which indicated as far as possible the provenance of particular fragments. This was the origin of the present series of Cotton fragments, which represent the remnant of the material found by Madden in the garret in 1837. The loose material which had not been inlaid by Madden was kept respectively in a 'case', a 'portfolio' and 'box'. Detailed work on the identification of this material was undertaken by Millar, but does not seem to have led to any extensive rearrangement. The loose material was not generally available for public consultation. Eventually in 1990 the decision was taken to sew the loose material into inert transparent plastic sleeves to facilitate its use in the Students' Room. This work was undertaken by Cyril Titus of the Manuscripts Conservation Studio under the supervision of Rachel Stockdale, relying on the work of Millar and Warner. The material from the former 'case' is now available as Fragments XXX. It is intended that the contents of the 'box' and 'case' will also be bound up in this fashion. The story of the restoration is not yet ended. Indeed, it may be beginning afresh. Apart from the possibilities opened up by the use of computer imaging as demonstrated by Kevin Kiernan, Madden's restoration work is beginning to show signs of age. Vellum behaves in a different way to paper. As the vellum moves in one direction, the paper moves in another. Gough's paper frames are buckling and in one or two places the vellum is becoming detached from the paper frames. Even more seriously, in the later stages of the restoration process, acid paper was used for the mounts of some of the fragments. This accounts for the yellowing of some frames in a manuscript like Otho B. X.(354) In order to stabilise the situation, some of the burnt Cotton Manuscripts have been recently encapsulated in plastic(355) but, as David Dumville has observed,(356) this makes study of the manuscripts difficult. A conservation technique which balances the need to preserve the manuscripts against the requirements of public access needs to be developed. In some respects, we are back in the time of Ellis and Forshall. Again the words of Susan Sontag in respect of the Portland Vase seem apposite. 'A perfect job of reconstruction, for its time. Until time wears it out. Transparent glue yellows and bulges, making seamless joints visible...Can something shattered, then expertly repaired, be the same, the same as it was? Yes, to the eye, yes, if one doesn't look too closely. No, to the mind'.(357)

Appendix I.
Reports of Matthew Maty and Henry Rimius on the condition
of the Cotton Library, July 1756

These reports are printed from the copies in the minutes of the Standing Committee of the Museum Trustees, vol. 1, 1754-1757 (British Museum Archives CE 3/1), 102-106, 110-114.

[The initial report]

The report of Dr Maty and Mr Rimius concerning the state in which they have found the manuscripts and medals in the Cottonian collection. According to the order given us by the Honourable Committee of the Trustees of the British Museum, Friday July 16th, 1756, we waited upon Mr Widmore at the Cottonian Repository, and examined the manuscripts, by comparing them both with the catalogue, composed by Mr Smith and printed in 1695, and with the account which was given by Mr Casley in 1732 of the state of the manuscripts after the fire. For this purpose we opened the several presses distinguished by the names of the twelve Caesars, those of Cleopatra and Faustina, and the Appendix; and having counted the number of volumes under every division, we took one or two of each and compared them with the catalogues, to be satisfied they answered to the accounts given of them. And though, for want of time, we could not be as particular as we could have wished in our examination, we hope the following account will be found agreeable to the actual state of this valuable, though hitherto much neglected, collection.

The manuscripts contained in the presses called Julius, Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Vespasianus, Titus, Domitianus, Cleopatra, Faustina, and those of the Appendix, have suffered nothing by the fire, and have been found to agree with Mr Smith's catalogue. Yet several of these being placed in presses much exposed to dampness in a cold and shady place, could hardly notwithstanding Mr Widmore's endeavours (which he has assured us to have been very assiduous) be preserved from must and mouldiness and will want to be aired and carefully dried up before they are placed in the Museum.

The condition of the manuscripts contained in the presses called Tiberius, Caligula, Galba, Otho and Vitellius, obliges us to be a little more particular, as we could not find some of the articles specified by Mr Casley, and as several of those which he declares to be entirely destroyed, may still be of some use in careful hands.

Beginning therefore with Tiberius we find the division
A. Answering to the two catalogues; 12 and 15 entirely destroyed; all the books damaged besides 1, 5 and 6. Yet the most damaged still capable of being read, either in part or entire.
B. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 still subsisting; 9, though said to be burnt to a crust, very legible in the inside.
C. Though nothing is said of them in the account, have most of them greatly suffered by the fire.
D. 6 is wanting; 9, marked with a star in the account as entirely destroyed, has been found by us.
E. Answers to the catalogue compared with the report.

A, B, C. Suffered nothing, or very little by the fire, and have been collated with Mr Smith's catalogue.
D & E. Answers to Mr Casley's account of the effect of the fire upon them.

A. 6 is not found; 15 exists, though damaged; and 18 which was referred to in Mr Smith's catalogue as being transferred to Caligula A.14 was reported to be lost by Mr Casley.
B, C, D, E. Answer to the catalogues compared one with the other.

A. According to the report consists of 18 numbers all destroyed; yet we discovered the first part of number XII being the Life of Alfred by Asser Menevensis.
B. Wants no. 9.
C. 1, 4 and 13, said to be destroyed, are in part legible. The other numbers answer to the catalogue as well as
D & E. Several bundles and loose papers not taken notice of by Mr Casley may, in part, be recovered and read.

Besides the damage done by the fire to the manuscripts in this press, it has suffered no less by the carelessness of those that have been the first employed in preserving them, as well as by the extraordinary moistness of the place. The great humidity, together with the extension of that hue, which the fire extracted from the volumes wrote on vellum, having rolled the edges of most of them, defaced the marks and afforded both lodging and food to numberless shoals of worms and other insects. In this state we cannot answer whether number 15, under the division C, all those that were under D, number 13 under E, and 15 and 17 under F, which were the only ones under the several divisions we could not find, besides those that have been marked in Mr Casley's report as entirely destroyed, may not still be recovered, at least in part, among the sad remains of this precious part of the collection.

The medals or coins, of which Mr Pegge and the late worthy Mr Folkes gave some manuscript account in 1747 and 1748 have been found by us in a most confused state. The Reverend Mr Widmore has never examined them according to these accounts, and answers only to the number, which we found to be as follows:

Pope's Heads, Seals & co


Medals or English coins


In all


The account of the charters, curiosities & co. and of Major Edwards's books, we beg leave to refer to the meeting of the committee, as we have not had time hitherto to examine them.

London. July 22 1756.

[The further report]

The charters, warrants, deeds and other records contained in the last press of the Cottonian cabinet might have been examined with more ease and in less time had we found them disposed in any order, properly endorsed, or at least regularly numbered and sufficiently described. But as nothing of all this has to our knowledge hitherto been done, and as no other assistance could be procured but the rough draft of a catalogue, which the Reverend Mr Widmore has made of them for his own use, we were obliged to look them over one by one, to pick up the late learned Keeper's loose sheets, and to affix to every one of them a number by which they could more easily be found out.

We cannot and indeed we ought not to be very particular in our account of these precious relicts, as such an account would not only be dry and tedious, but also in a manner useless, since Mr Widmore has promised to lend his notes. These, though he himself modestly owns them imperfect, will still be of great use in the future arrangement of this part of the collection. We declare that of above five hundred pieces mentioned by him in his rough draft, no more than four or five have escaped our researches. These few appeared to us to be of little consequence, to lose more time than we could spare in looking for them amidst the rubbish of bits of parchment or of paper, scorched by the fire, or consumed by old age, which Mr Widmore thought too much destroyed to be either used or described. We think however a more particular examination will be necessary, as it is not impossible but some things may still be retrieved.

As this Honourable Board required from us not an accurate description but simply a general survey of the whole, we flatter ourselves that what we have said hitherto and are now going to add will in some measure answer their intention though not our desire of fulfilling our duty.

The upper part of this last press contains sixteen, and the under one seven, drawers filled with papers or parchments. Several of them being entirely relative to the Cotton family seem to be of little use to the public, and the same may be said of many more, which only serve to swell but in our opinion by no means to enrich this collection.

Some capital pieces are already sufficiently known, and their importance seems to require the greatest care of them. Among them deserves the first rank, King John's famous grant of privileges, which though one of the sufferers by the fire, is still very legible, and would be much more so had anything been done to repair the damages done by this dreadful accident. We have put this piece by itself in a separate drawer, viz. no. 16 at bottom. The explanations of Magna Carta and of that of the Forests by Edward the First are likewise subsisting, and ought we think to be brought nearer than they now are to the preceding piece.

Amongst the public records preserved in our collection, we beg leave to mention Pope Innocent's Bull containing the cession of the weak king, Robert de Bruce's claim to the crown of Scotland as laid before Edward I in French in 1297, the Scotch Barons' submission to the English King's determination, the declaration of John, King of France, about the quarrel between the Dukes of Lancaster and Brunswick in 1352, the Archbishop of Canterbury and of York's letter to Henry VIII containing their synod's compliance with his desires in the affair of the divorce with Ann of Cleves, an instrument of the Dutch commissioners in 1585 confirming the cautionary cession of some of their towns. Some original, though not very remarkable, letters of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Maurice and co. are likewise found there.

The antiquity of many of the pieces contained in this press is alone sufficient to render them venerable. Several of them are of the ancient Saxon and Danish kings, viz. Ethelbert, Edred, Kinewolf, Canut, Alfred and co. and must be very near a thousand years old.

Historical, chronological and genealogical rolls, drawn up by monks, in the ages of ignorance and darkness, may still afford some satisfaction. Inventories of the books and effects of the several monasteries, expenses for the table of their abbots, and orders for the table of some princes, will probably likewise be examined and compared.

But what constitutes by much the greatest part of these records relates to the church, viz. Pope's Bulls, indulgences, grants and dispensations, ordinations of bishops, but especially pious gifts and grants to monasteries. Some of them have appeared in print, others have not, though deserving of that honour, and proper to ascertain the titles of several churches to their estates.

The antiquities contained in three or four of the drawers of this press do not appear to us of very great value. Some ancient little brass statues of Egyptian or other heathen gods or heroes, a few scales, instruments, and other trinkets neither remarkable for their rareness or workmanship do not deserve, at least at present, a more particular description, and we already too much fear to have abused the patience of this learned assembly by our hasty and very imperfect account.

London. July 30th 1756.

Appendix II.
Description in chronological order of the lists, etc.,
of damaged Cotton Manuscripts in Add. MS. 62576

(1) Labels from boxes containing loose fragments of Caligula D. V (f. 11) and Vitellius E. IX (f. 15).

(2) Notes of lost Cotton and Royal MSS., early 19th cent.(?). ff. 59-60.

(3) List by Forshall of 'Saxon MSS. wanting', circa 1827. ff. 52-52v.

(4) List of injured Cotton MSS., 1830. ff. 2-7.

(5) Comparative table of descriptions in Casley, Planta and annotated catalogues in the Manuscripts Department of damaged MSS. in the Tiberius press, with notes of restoration undertaken by Forshall. Afterwards dated by Madden 'about 1836'. ff. 57v-58, 55v-56, 53v-54.

(6) List of injured Cotton MSS. compiled by Madden from Smith, Casley, Maty, Hooper, Planta, etc., August 1837 (cf. Add. MS. 62001, ff. 7v-8). As follows:-
(a) Tiberius A. VIII - Caligula E. IV. ff. 36-38v;
(b) Caligula E. V - Otho D. VI. ff. 27-32v;
(c) Otho D. VII- Vitellius E. XII, arts. 1-4. ff. 21-26v;
(d) Vitellius E. XII, arts. 5-35 - Appendix XLV (additional later notes on the Appendix are inserted at ff. 18-19). ff. 16-20v.

(7) 'Damaged Cotton MSS. on paper and vellum inspected and to be given to Mr Tucket, 1838', annotated with details of the conservation work undertaken by Madden. ff. 46, 39-41.

(8) Preliminary notes by Madden on burnt Cotton vellum remains in the boxes in the charter garret and drawers in the Keeper's Room, 1840. ff. 49-49v.

(9) Table by Madden of the injured Cotton Manuscripts on vellum, showing their condition in 1841. ff. 61-62v, 47.

(10) List by Madden of volumes of loose or injured state papers, circa 1844. ff. 12-14.

(11) List in manuscript order of paper manuscripts inlaid and rebound by Tuckett. f. 41v.

(12) List in chronological order of vellum Cotton MSS. inlaid by Gough, viz:- (a) Work undertaken between 1842 and 1848. ff. 42-42v;- (b) Work undertaken between 1849-1850. f. 34.

(13) List in chronological order of vellum Cotton MSS. inlaid by Tuckett, 1849-1851. f. 35.

(14) List in manuscript order of vellum MSS. inlaid or rebound by Tuckett. ff. 33-33v.

(15) List of injured Royal MSS., circa 1851. ff. 48-48v.

(16) List in chronological order of manuscripts inlaid by Gough and Tuckett, 1854-1856. f. 35v.

(17) Lists by Madden of Saxon MSS. injured in the fire and other Saxon MSS. in the Cotton Library, n.d. ff. 51, 43.

(18) Notes by Madden on paper MSS. preserved in cases. ff. 10, 44-45v.

(19) Notes by Madden on contents of Appendix XL and XXIX. ff. 8-8v.

(20) Rough notes of apparently missing MSS. f. 50.


1. See M. Teresa Tavormina, 'Order, liturgy and laughter in A Canticle for Leibowitz' in B. Rosenthal and P. Szarmach, eds., Medievalism in American Culture (Binghamton, 1987), pp. 45-64.

2. Gentleman's Magazine I (1731), p. 451. I am grateful to Robin Alston, Janet Backhouse, Carl T. Berkhout, Michael Borrie, Michelle Brown, Tim Graham, J.R. Hall, Phillip Harris, Simon Keynes, Phillip Pulsiano, Nigel Ramsay, Colin Tite, and Elaine Treharne for many valuable discussions about the history of the Cotton library. They have saved me from many blunders. Above all, however, I am deeply indebted to Kevin S. Kiernan, whose spellbinding scholarship on the Beowulf manuscript first drew attention to many of the issues associated with the post-fire history of the Cotton collection and showed their importance for modern users.

3. Cf. E. Miller, That Noble Cabinet: A History of the British Museum (London, 1973), pp. 34-5, and S. Keynes, 'The reconstruction of a burnt Cottonian manuscript: the case of Cotton MS. Otho A. I', British Library Journal xxii (1996), pp. 113-4. I am grateful to Dr Keynes for showing me a draft of his article.

4. A Report from the Committee Appointed to View the Cottonian Library, and such of the Publick Records of this Kingdom, as they think proper... (London, 1732), hereafter cited as 1732 Report. This report was reprinted in Reports from the Committees of the House of Commons... (London, 1803), vol. i, pp. 443-535. It was reproduced in facsimile from an annotated copy in the British Library (not Add. MS. 62573 as stated by Tite in his introduction: see n. 255 below) by C.G.C. Tite in his edition of Thomas Smith, Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Cottonian Library 1696 (D.S. Brewer, 1984), hereafter cited as Smith (1984 ed.). Other copies are Add. MSS. 24932 and 62572.

5. 1732 report, pp. 11-15.

6. Cf. ibid., p. 5.

7. Ibid., pp. 15-139.

8. D. Casley, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts of the King's Library (London, 1734), pp. 313-45. Sir F. Madden, Layamon's Brut (London, 1847), vol. i, p. xxxvii, states that the original draft of Casley's report was preserved in the Museum in 1846. I have not been able to trace it.

9. 1732 report, p. 15.

10. See further below, pp. 404-22. Madden notes with regard to these figures that 'a distinction was not made between those MSS. lost and burnt, and those stated to be intirely spoilt. Most, if not the whole, of the latter class are capable of being restored': Add. MS. 62572, f. 9v.

11. The following manuscripts are listed in the departmental handlists as having been completely burnt in 1731: Galba A. VIII, Otho A. XV, XVI, XVII, Otho B. I, VIII, XV, Otho C. VI, Otho E. II, V, Vitellius D. XIV, Vitellius F. XIV. In addition, a cartulary of Lenton Priory which Smith had numbered Otho B. XIV was also destroyed. The pressmark Otho B. XIV had previously been assigned to a manuscript containg records of Sheen Priory and other houses which strayed from the Cotton library sometime between circa 1639 and 1696. The Sheen manuscript was rediscovered in 1787, purchased by the British Museum, and restored to its former pressmark in place of the lost Lenton cartulary. To add to the confusion, Planta incorrectly speculated that Otho B. I, returned as destroyed, may in fact have been the Sheen manuscript: see further G.R.C. Davis, Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain (London, 1958), nos. 551, 891, and the nineteenth-century note on this manuscript in the annotated Casley reprinted in Smith (1984 ed.).

12. See further Kevin S. Kiernan, Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript (New Brunswick, 1981) [hereafter cited as Kiernan, Beowulf], pp. 67-8.

13. N.R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957), nos. 155, 185-8; Elzbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts from 900-1066 (London, 1976), no. 100; J. Backhouse, D. H. Turner and L. Webster, eds., The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum, 1984), pp. 47, 49.

14. Cf. also the account of damaged manuscripts in the Otho press in Keynes, art. cit.

15. K. Weitzmann and H. L. Kessler, The Cotton Genesis (Princeton, 1986).

16. But see further below.

17. Ker, op. cit., nos. 171-2; H. Gneuss, 'Die Handschrift Cotton Otho A.XII', Anglia, xciv (1976), pp. 289-318; D. Scragg, The Battle of Maldon (Manchester, 1981), pp. 1-4; H. L. Rogers, 'The Battle of Maldon: David Casley's transcript', Notes and Queries ccxxx (1985), pp. 147-155; D. Scragg, The Battle of Maldon AD 991 (Oxford, 1991), pp. 15-16; Leslie Webster and Janet Backhouse, eds., The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (London, 1991) [hereafter cited as The Making of England], no. 234, and works cited there. The first seven folios in the restored Otho A. XII are in fact part of Æthelweard's Chronicle from Otho A. X, which were misidentified in 1864 as being from Asser: see further below, and E. Barker, 'The Cottonian Fragments of Æthelweard's Chronicle', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research xxiv (1951), pp. 46-62. I will deal with this incident at greater length in a forthcoming note, 'The Ghost of Asser'.

18. A. Gransden, Historical Writing in England c. 550- c. 1307 (London, 1974), p. 2 n. 4.

19. Ker, op. cit., no. 180; R.J.S. Grant, 'Laurence Nowell's Transcript of BM Cotton Otho B.XI', Anglo-Saxon England iii (1974), p. 115; A. Lutz, Die Version G der Angelsächsisen Chronik: Rekonstruktion und Edition (Munich 1981).

20. Gransden, op. cit., p. 43 n. 13.

21. See n. 5 above.

22. The Making of England, no. 241, and works cited there.

23. Ibid., no. 83, where an eighteenth-century facsimile of a page from Otho C. V made for Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, now Stowe MS. 1061, f. 36, showing the appearance of the manuscript before the fire, is also reproduced. A full study of this manuscript is forthcoming: M. Budny, R. Page and C. D. Verey, eds., The Cambridge-London Gospels: An Eighth-Century Insular Gospel-Book from Northumbria.

24. In April 1766, some fragments of letters burnt in the fire were presented to the British Museum by Charles Grey. They had been given to Grey by Sir Roger Newdigate whose brother, then at Westminster School, had picked them up after the fire: British Library, Manuscript Collections Archives, Acquisitions 1759-1836, ff. 3-4. Madden sought in vain to identify these fragments. Presumably they were added to the general stock of burnt fragments and other 'refuse' without any indication of their provenance. A fragment from Otho B. X, presumably also picked up as a keepsake, was given to Thomas Hearne by Browne Willis on 15 November 1731 and is now Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson Q.e.20: Ker, op. cit., no. 177.

25. 1732 Report, pp. 11-12.

26. Ibid., p. 12.

27. Ibid., pp. 12-15.

28. 1732 Report, pp. 12-14. Cf. the remarks of Forshall to the parliamentary Select Committee investigating the Museum in 1835: Report from the Select Committee on the Condition, Management and Affairs of the British Museum (1835) [hereafter cited as 1835 Select Committee Report], no. 1108.

29. Royal MS. 9 C. X. See also the 'before' and 'after' drawing of Otho B. V made for Henry Gough by Caleb W. Wing, now Add. MS. 18547, described further below.

30. Thomas Hearne commented that 'what the fire did not entirely destroy suffer'd very much by water, both very dangerous elements to MSS': H. E. Salter, ed., Hearne's Collections, Oxford Historical Society xi (1921), p. 8.

31. 1732 Report, pp. 12-13.

32. For all the following, see 1732 Report, pp. 13-15.

33. Ibid., pp. 13-14.

34. Cf. below. In his copy of the 1732 Report, Madden wrote `Not True' beside Whiston's comment that only a few vellum manuscripts of little value had been left untreated: Add. MS. 62572, f. 8v.

35. 1732 Report, p. 14.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid., pp. 14-15.

38. Ibid., pp. 14-15.

39. See the report of Maty and Rimius, Appendix One below.

40. 1732 Report, p. 15.

41. I owe this point to Kevin Kiernan.

42. Poems on Several Occasions (Oxford, 1781), pp. 71-4.

43. Elizabeth M. Hallam, Domesday Book Through Nine Centuries (London, 1986), pp. 135-6.

44. D. N. B.

45. A. Esdaile, The British Museum Library (London, 1946), p. 17.

46. Ibid., p. 352.

47. Ibid., p. 352. On Edwards's library, which contained about four thousand volumes, see further F.J. Hill, 'The Shelving and Classification of Printed Books' in P. Harris, ed., The Library of the British Museum (London, 1991), pp. 3-4. According to the D. N. B., he left 'pictures of King George 1st, the Czar Peter, Oliver Cromwell, and Cosimo de Medici the 1st, with his secretary Bartolomeo Concini' to be placed in the Cotton library. These are presumably items 3, 6, 46 and 88 in the list of portaits in the Mineral gallery of the British Museum in the Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (London, 1838), pp. 132-5, where they are misleadingly described as having 'belonged to the old Cottonian Library'. I owe the reference to the list of pictures to Dr. Colin Tite. The picture of Peter the Great is presumably that on the wall of the sitting room in the residence of the Director of the British Museum in 1992.

48. Hargrave MS. 304, a catalogue of the Madox collection, contains on f. 1 the following note by E. Umfreville, dated 1760: 'From the collections of Vigerus Edwards Esq. whose sister married Mr Madox...The MSS. were not sold, but Lodg'd by Mr Edwards in the Cotton Library for public use -- whence with the Cotton Library they were removed to the British Museum at Montague House in Gt Russell Street Bloomsbury.' The transfer of the Madox collections to the Museum was formalized by their bequest to the Museum by Catherine Madox in 1756: see Catalogue of Additions to the Manuscripts 1756-1782 (London, 1977), p. 181. According to the Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (London, 1808), p. 14, Catherine stated that these volumes should be treated as an addition to the Cotton library, and, while they were in Montagu House, they were kept in the same room as the Cotton MSS., under press XIX of Room VII. They are now Add. MSS. 4479-4572.

49. Colin Tite notes that in the mid-1730s, Gilbert Burnet considered depositing in the library the original manuscript of his father's History of His Own Time: The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton (British Library, 1994), p. 33.

50. Esdaile, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

51. British Museum Archives, CE 1/1, 25 (13 February 1754). The following classes of material in the British Museum Archives have been used: CE 1 (Minutes of the Trustees' General Meetings); CE 3 (Minutes of the standing committee); CE 4 (Original papers); CE 5 (Officers' reports). Some of these volumes are foliated and others paginated. References are to folio or page. I am very grateful to Miss Janet Wallace for her assistance and advice in making available material from the Museum archives. A draft of these minutes is Add. MS. 4550, ff. 43-44. See also Miller, op. cit., p. 49.

52. The catalogue of the sale of the library of Joseph Ames, the bibliographer and antiquary, on 5 May 1760 included the following as part of lot 166: 'Two bundles of MSS. presented to Mr Ames by Mrs Casley being part of the Cottonian [sic] damaged by the fire'. In the copy of the Ames sale catalogue in the British Library Manuscript Collections library, this entry has been marked with a large 'N.B.', apparently by Sir Frederic Madden. Madden declared in 1847 that he would 'like much to know the name of the purchaser & what these MSS. were': Add. MS. 62006, f. 11.

53. S. Hooper, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Cottonian Library (London, 1777), pp. xii-xiv.

54. These reports are also briefly noted in E. Miller, op. cit., pp. 60-1. They are in the British Museum Archives, CE 3/1, 102-106 (23 July 1756) and 110-114 (30 July 1756). They are printed in Appendix I below.

55. See below.

56. A copy of this catalogue is now Harl. MS. 7647, ff. 13-52. This volume also contains (ff. 2-12v) a copy of the list of charters and other items drawn up by Humfrey Wanley in 1703, on which see further Smith (1984 ed.), pp. 10-12. The transcripts in Harley 7647 were both made for Charles Morton, the first Keeper of Manuscripts. Further details are given in the following minute of the Standing Committee meeting on 5 Nov. 1756 (British Museum Archives, CE 3/1, 144-145): 'Dr Morton delivered in two catalogues of the carts contained in the Cotton Library which he had transcribed. The first of these was made by Mr Matthew Hutton, Mr John Anstis and Mr Humphrey Wanley; and transcribed from the original in Mr Wanley's handwriting, annexed to a copy of Dr Smith's catalogue of the Cottonian Library, belonging to the Lord Chancellor [Lord Hardwicke], and lent by his Lordship to the trustees for their use [the copy used by Morton is possibly that formerly owned by Sir Nathan Wright, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal 1700-5, now Printed Books, 125.l.11, which may have passed to Hardwicke with other official papers]. The other catalogue was transcribed from one drawn up by the Reverend Mr Widmore. The Committee upon inspection of the Lord Chancellor's copy, having observed a report prefixed, and marginal notes throughout the book, all in the handwriting of Mr Wanley; ordered that the said report and notes be transcribed into another of Dr Smith's catalogues, as soon as a good one be procured'. These transcripts are not in Morton's hand, but were checked and corrected by him (e.g. ff. 19v-21). They were incorporated as Add. MS. 4998, but, because of the reference to Wanley, they were mistakenly renumbered as Harl. MS. 7647 sometime between the publication of the catalogue of Harleian manuscripts in 1808-1812 and the appointment of Madden as Keeper in 1837. The 'loculi' of Widmore's list are the sixteen drawers referred to by Maty and Rimius. The numeration given here was altered when the charters were moved into new drawers at the Museum in 1758: see further p. 430 below. The notes by Morton in the Harley copy of Widmore's catalogue altering the numeration of the charters (e.g. f. 45v, 46v) were presumably made in the course of this rearrangement.

57. The Trustees had ordered that the Sloane and Cotton collections be moved to Montagu House 'with all convenient speed' on 19 June 1756: British Museum Archives, CE 1/1, 119. However, the move of the Sloane collections seems to have been undertaken first, and the completion of the move of the Cotton library was not reported to the Trustees until 12 July 1757: ibid., 185-6.

58. On the classifications adopted for the Sloane and Harley collections, see e.g. Add. MSS. 4550, f. 106; 45871, ff. 14v-15, 49, 54v, and the description of these collections in the Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (London, 1808), pp. 7-13. cf. Hill, art. cit., p. 4.

59. British Museum Archives, CE 1/1, 185-186.

60. These burnt crusts were made available in the Reading Room in the normal way: e.g. Add. MS. 46508 f. 88v (recording issue of the crust of Tiberius A. X to John Bacon, July 1764); Add. MS. 46509, f. 31v (recording issue of Vitellius E. XVIII to Richard Gough, April 1768); Kevin S. Kiernan, The Thorkelin Transcripts of Beowulf, Anglistica xxv (1986), p. 25 (recording issue of Tiberius E. I, V and VII). The reaction of these readers to being presented with this charred, fat-encrusted manuscripts is not recorded; but Bacon kept Tiberius A. X out until April 1765.

61. British Museum Archives, CE 1/1, 185-186.

62. BM, CA: CE 1/3, 743; CE 3/6, 1491.

63. British Museum Archives, CE 3/2, 338 (22 July 1757).

64. Ibid., 415 (18 Feb. 1758).

65. Ibid., 418-9 (3 Mar. 1758).

66. See Weitzmann and Kessler, op. cit, pp. 6-7, from which, unless otherwise stated, all the following is drawn.

67. 'Schedas quasdam flammis misere vitiatas, nunc vero deperditas': cited in F. W. Gotch, A Supplement to Tischendorf's Reliquae ex Incendio Ereptae Codicis Celeberrimi Cottoniani (Leipzig, 1881), p. v.

68. On Gifford, see further Miller, op. cit., p. 100, and Esdaile, op. cit., pp. 45-6.

69. Gotch, op. cit., p. vi. In 1847, Madden gave a detailed report of the circumstances of the loss of the Bristol fragments to the Museum's Trustees and urged that action should be taken for their recovery, but nothing was done: Add. MS. 62028, ff. 48v-51.

70. Gotch, op. cit.

71. Vetusta Monumenta (London, 1747), pl. I, nos. i, ii, iii, v, vi, vii and x.

72. Madden's personal diary is Bodleian Library MS. Eng. hist. c. 140-182. Extracts are printed by kind permission of the Bodleian Library. A copy is in the British Library: MS. Facs. *1012. It is hereafter cited as MJ.

73. The Tyndale Bible purchased by the British Library from the Baptist College in 1994 also came from Gifford's collection.

74. British Museum Archives, CE 3/8, 2080. Samuel Hooper states in the dedication of his subject catalogue of the Cotton Manuscripts, op. cit., that Astle had provided him with the manuscripts from which the catalogue was compiled. The precise meaning of this is unclear; perhaps Astle gave Hooper access to material in his collections, such as the seventeenth-century catalogue of cartularies, now Add. MS. 5161.

75. Hooper, op. cit.

76. Ibid., pp. xii-xiv.

77. British Museum Archives, CE 4/2, 691.

78. But cf. C.G.C. Tite, The Manuscript Library of Sir Robert Cotton (British Library, 1994), pp. 51-7.

79. British Museum Archives, CE 1/2, 708-711.

80. Ibid.

81. The indexes were still in the process of completion in 1800: Reports from the Select Committee...into the State of the Public Records (London, 1800), p. 391.

82. J. Planta, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Cottonian Library, deposited in the British Museum (London, 1802), hereafter cited as Planta. It is interesting to note, in view of some of the later criticisms of Planta's catalogue, that it is described in the 1812 report of the Record Commission as a corrected version of Smith, 'The Catalogue of the Cotton Library...corrected by Joseph Planta, Esq.': First General Report from the Commission on Public Records (London, 1812), p. 231.

83. British Museum Archives, CE 4/2, 708-711. The published version is pp. xiv-xv of Planta's catalogue.

84. This figure differs from that given by Planta in his 1793 report to the Trustees, in which he states that the Library had been reduced by the fire to 880 volumes, about 100 of which were at that time too much damaged to be bound and were therefore preserved in cases.

85. It was first correctly identified, as far as I am aware, by Kiernan, Beowulf, pp. 99-103.

86. None of the foliations or foliation notes appear to be by Planta. For an example of his hand, see Add. MS. 5015, ff. 123-145. Presumably the practice of foliation was the same in Planta's time as later: the foliation was entered by an attendant, and then checked by another attendant, who entered the foliation note.

87. E.g. Vitellius C. III, ff. 60, 61; Vitellius C. XII, ff. 159-160. Since the Planta foliation was written on the unprotected vellum leaves, the numbers occasionally crumbled away from use in the Reading Room and were replaced by new pencil numbers, written sometime before the inlaying of the leaves under Madden, most likely during the Keepership of Forshall, who seems to have been responsible for introducing the use of pencil for writing folio numbers: e.g. Tiberius A. III, ff. 21, 24, 25, 26, 57, 93; Vitellius C. III, f. 33.

88. The condition of the MSS at the end of the conservation work is described by Planta himself in his descriptions of the manuscripts.

89. British Museum Archives, CE 5/8, 1895-8.

90. 1835 Select Committee Report, no. 1105.

91. On this MS, see further R. Cleminson, The Anne Pennington Catalogue: A Union Catalogue of Cyrillic Manuscripts in British and Irish Collections (London, 1988), no. 96. A description in Russian of its condition in 1818, including a crude diagram showing the shape of the loose burnt leaves, is Add. MS. 47289 B, ff. 1-4v.

92. A slip apparently kept with Caligula D. V when it was stored loose in a case is now Add. MS. 62576, f. 11.

93. These details are conveniently summarized in Madden's notes: Add. MS. 62576, ff. 12-14.

94. Kevin S. Kiernan, The Thorkelin Transcripts of Beowulf; K. Malone, ed., The Thorkelin Transcripts of Beowulf, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile i (Copenhagen, 1951).

95. Ibid., p. 34.

96. This is confirmed by Madden's 1841 list of injured vellum Cotton MSS, Add. MS. 62576, ff. 61-62v, 47. This lists all the loose and most badly damaged material, but does not have an entry for Vitellius A. XV. Presumably this first post-fire binding of Vitellius A. XV was similar to other Elliot-Planta bindings, of which an example is Vespasian B. XXVI, a full binding in brown calf, with gold letters 'M.B.' on the front cover, and gold tooling on the spine.

97. Kiernan, op. cit., p. 150, n. 46; W.F. Bolton, 'The Conybeare Copy of Thorkelin', English Studies lv (1974), pp. 97-107. In 1994, Prof. Bolton most generously donated the Conybeare collation to the British Library to facilitate its scanning as part of the Electronic Beowulf project.

98. Kiernan, op. cit., p. 150, n. 46; idem, 'Madden, Thorkelin and MS. Vitellius/Vespasian A XV', The Library viii (1986), pp. 127-32; J.R. Hall, 'Some Additional Books at Harvard Annotated by Sir Frederic Madden', Notes and Queries ccxxx (1985), p. 315.

99. Analogous losses also occurred in Otho C. XIII, an early manuscript of Layamon. They are noted in Madden, op. cit., p. xxxviii, n. 1. Cf. also Layamon: Brut, G.L. Brook and R.F. Leslie, eds., Early English Text Society ccl, cclxxvii (1963, 1978), vol. i, p. x. Some of these 'M' readings could perhaps now be recovered with the aid of fibre-optic backlighting.

100. Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (London, 1808), pp. 13-14.

101. This may perhaps partly account for the ambiguities in references by Thorkelin and Madden to the pressmark of the Beowulf manuscript: Kevin S. Kiernan, 'Madden, Thorkelin and MS. Vitellius/Vespasian A XV', pp. 127-32.

102. The majority of the Cotton manuscripts have always, since being moved from Montagu House, been kept in roughly the same presses, namely those numbered from 16 to 27 in the Manuscript Saloon: see the various descriptions of the distribution of manuscripts in the presses in the volume of papers from Madden's Keepership labelled Miscellanea in the Manuscript Collections Archives. References to press numbers lower than sixteen on the flyleaves of Cotton manuscripts are therefore Montagu House pressmarks: e.g. Julius D. II has a Montagu House pressmark of IA on f. iv; Julius D. V a pressmark of III A on f. 1; Nero C. IX a pressmark of VI D on a flyleaf; and Tiberius C. VI a pressmark of XII F on the flyleaf. Some of these pressmarks are in ink and others in pencil.

103. British Museum Archives, CE 5/8, 1895-8.

104. British Museum Archives, CE 3/10, 2915. The story of Wollaston's experiments was drawn to my attention by Philip Harris and Nigel Ramsay.

105. D. N. B.

106. Manuscript Collections Archives, Acquisitions 1759-1836, ff. 35*, 36*.

107. MJ, 6 June 1854; cf. also Add. MS. 62010, ff. 32v-33.

108. Add. MS. 62035, f. 3.

109. British Museum Archives, CE 3/10, 2921; CE 5/8, 1895-8.

110. British Museum Archives, CE 5/8, 1880.

111. British Museum Archives, CE 3/10, 2945; CE 4/6, 2119.

112. Ibid.

113. British Museum Archives, CE 3/10, 2951.

114. British Museum Archives, CE 5/9, 2020.

115. Ibid.

116. Add. MS. 62022, f. 65v.

117. British Museum Archives, CE 5/9, 2020.

118. British Museum Archives, CE 5/9, 2027.

119. The progress of the work is described in British Museum Archives, CE 5/9, 2040, 2046, 2057, 2076-2076b, and CE 5/10, 2102b-2103, 2122, 2141.

120. This is evident from a list of missing and damaged manuscripts apparently compiled for Forshall, Add. MS. 62576, ff. 2-7. This shows a number of the manuscripts recovered by Forshall as still missing or in the process of restoration e.g. Otho A. III, Otho B. II, Otho C. V, Vitellius D. XVII, Vitellius F. XI. This list dates from 1830 at the earliest, since it states that John Holmes, who did not join the Department until that year, was working on Otho A. VI. Holmes's name was afterwards crossed out and 'Sir F. Madden' inserted in its place. Madden was knighted in 1832. All this suggests that this list must be dated 1830-1832, and restoration work was still in progress at that time.

121. The fullest guide to the manuscripts on which Forshall worked is Madden's table of the condition of the damaged vellum manuscripts in 1841, Add. MS. 62576, ff. 61-62v, 47. The manuscripts restored by Forshall are, with the exception of the Christchurch cartulary (Tiberius D. VI), those noted in Madden's table as having been described by Planta as missing or a crust but preserved in a case in 1841. This suggests that the following manuscripts were 'restored' under Forshall: Galba A. V; Otho A. II, VI; B. II; C. I, V, XIII; D. III, VII, VIII; E. I; Tiberius A. XII, XV; B. IX, XI; Tiberius D. III, IV, V, VII; E. I, II, IV-VII, XIII; Vitellius A. IX; C. V; D. XVII; E. IX, XIII, XV, XVIII; F. XI, XVI, XVII. In addition, some leaves were recovered but misidentified: e.g. six leaves of Otho A. I were mistakenly placed with Otho C. V (see further below). Further information about the restoration work is given in Ellis's and Forshall's reports for 1826-7 in the Officers' Reports for those years in the British Museum Archives, CE 5/9-10. These are very patchy in details of work on individual manuscripts, but give explicit references to treatment of the following manuscripts: Otho B. VI; C. XIII; Tiberius A. V, XV; D. III, IV; E. I, II (all the preceding are identified as having been treated by Forshall in Madden's 1841 list, whereas the work on the following is not evident from Madden's list): Caligula D. X, XI; Galba A. IX, X, XV; Tiberius A. IX, X; E. III, IX. The paper slip apparently kept with Vitellius E. IX when it was stored loose in a box is Add. MS. 62576, f. 15.

122. In Madden's resignation memorial, MJ 12 July 1866.

123. Ellis still hankered after something more dramatic than the results achieved as a result of Davy's sensible advice. On 10 February 1827, he suggested that leaves from the restored Tiberius A. XV be sent to William Wollaston for further experimentation. He advised the Trustees that 'all that can be done for it in the MS. Department has already been done, but Dr Wollaston thinks that by chemical applications he may be able to do something more for it.' The leaves to be sent to Wollaston would contain the text of letters known from other copies 'so that even if experiment was to destroy them, their contents will not have been lost': British Museum Archives, CE 5/10, 2102b-2103.

124. The description of this manuscript in F. Robinson and E. Stanley, Old English Verse Texts from Many Sources: A Comprehensive Collection, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile xxiii (1991),, refers to the inlaying of this manuscript by Gough in 1844, but not to its earlier rediscovery. A list of missing and damaged Cotton manuscripts compiled for Forshall and dating perhaps from about 1830-1832 states that this manuscript was 'Much damaged, but now being restored by [Mr Holmes deleted] Sir F. Madden': Add. MS. 62576, f. 4.

125. Edited by Madden, op. cit., and by G. Brook and R. Leslie, ed. cit. Madden notes Forshall's initial restoration of the manuscript in 'about 1827' and describes how this led to part being printed by Benjamin Thorpe, who called it 'only a bundle of fragments': op. cit., p. xxxvii. The facsimile of this manuscript in Madden's edition illustrates f. 92 before it was inlaid in 1846. It shows the top part of the initial and the pricking on the top half of the leaf, which are now largely concealed by repair. The facsimile gives a very good idea of the appearance of the manuscripts restored by Forshall, with their characteristic incisions, where the crust was cut open.

126. British Museum Archives, CE 5/9, 2020.

127. Add. MS. 62573, f. 57.

128. Details of this can be most easily reconstructed from Madden's notes in Add. MS. 62577. On f. 45, Madden notes the following as 'Cottonian Papers bound by Mr Forshall before 1832 with temporary numbers now altered. Append. xlvi. Miscell. Papers. xlvii. Do. (part of Cal. D.VIII). xlviii. do. (...Wolsey & c.). xlix. Journal to Greenland 1605. l. Camdens Pedigrees. The papers in xlvii and xlviii have been distributed in other vols. FM. Jan. 1859'. On f. 46, Madden further notes that 'Mr Forshall bound up some miscellaneous Papers and marked them Append. xlvi. Many of them were taken out and placed among charters'. The use of the Appendix as a means of temporarily numbering loose papers while they were being sorted continued under Madden. In Add. MS. 62577, f. 42, he notes that the numbers xlix to lv in the Appendix were reserved for 'MSS or Papers not identified'. On all this, see further C. Tite, 'The Cotton Appendix and the Fragments', The Library xv (1993), pp. 52-55.

129. 1836 Select Committee Report, nos. 4389, 4397.

130. Descriptions are preserved of Galba A. V, Otho A. VI; B. II, VI; Vitellius D. XVII; E. XVIII; F. XI. Phillip Pulsiano and I hope to publish samples of these.

131. See below.

132. Cf. illustration in Temple, op. cit., fig. 57.

133. British Museum Archives, CE 3/13, 3807.

134. British Museum Archives, CE 3/13, 3827.

135. British Museum Archives, CE 3/13, 3807.

136. British Museum Archives, CE 3/13, 3827.

137. According to a note by Casley on the dorse and also the 1732 Report, p. 14, words and letters completely destroyed by the fire were supplied in red. Just a few letters are given in red and the only words marked as completely destroyed are the words `De forestis' and the first part of `afforestandis' in the last line of the transcript (presumably endorsements on the original).

138. A copy of this engraving is Stowe MS. 1050, f. 55. In the legend, Casley attests that in his transcript only nineteen letters are supplied from other sources. Pine shows the damaged Magna Carta surrounded by the arms of the barons, presumably because, as Casley states, the sides of the document were the parts worst affected by the fire. Posters showing representations of Magna Carta in this way are still on sale in souvenir shops; it would be interesting to establish how far they are descendants of Pine's engraving.

139. See below.

140. MJ, 7 December 1858.

141. 1835 Select Committee Report, no. 1108.

142. Ibid., no. 1112.

143. Ibid., nos. 1117-1118.

144. See below.

145. Details are given in Ellis's report on the move: British Museum Archives, CE 5/10, 2141. See also P. Harris, 'The Move of Printed Books from Montagu House, 1838-1842', in P. Harris, ed., The Library of the British Museum (London, 1991), p. 76.

146. Ellis's report states that 'The marks of Reference to the Presses and shelves in the new Room have been inserted by the Officers in the inside of every volume, and the larger portion marked in a corresponding manner upon the outside by the Book Binder'. F.J. Hill, art. cit., p. 4, was unaware that the emperor pressmark system was abandoned, and states wrongly that 'the Old Royal and Cotton Manuscripts are still shelved by the pressmarks which they already had when received in the Museum'.

147. The clearest description of the modern placing system of the Manuscripts Department is in a draft paper by Edward Bond preserved in a volume of loose papers dating from his Keepership in the Manuscript Collections Archives, 'Memorandum of the system of Registering, Cataloguing and Labelling of MSS. in the Dept. of MSS. in the British Museum', which provides a succinct summary of the housekeeping practices of the Department, much of which is still valid today. Under 'Labelling and Pressmarking', Bond writes as follows: 'Each MS. (in addition to its own individual number) has small printed labels attached to the back, one placed at the top and the other at the bottom of the volume. The first bears the number of the press, the second the letter-mark of the shelf and the number of the volume in its order on the shelf. e.g. the Additional MS. 28816 bears the labels marked 176 and G.5., indicating that it is the fifth book on the G shelf in Press 176. The Handlists contain lists of the MSS. with their pressmarks. The Shelf-lists contain lists of the presses and shelves with the number of volumes which they contain.'

148. This can be seen on the spines of many Cotton manuscripts, e.g. Tiberius A. IX, Galba C. VIII, X; D. III, IV. The use of roman numerals for the press numbers was found to be cumbersome and from the mid-nineteenth century arabic numbers started to be used, e.g. Egerton MSS. 873, 1172, 1870. In some cases the word 'Plut.' has been put on the spine by the binder, but no pressmark has been added. Sometimes, this may indicate that the manuscript was regarded as Select and kept separately in a locked cupboard, e.g. Harley MS. 2278, Royal MS. 12 C. XIX and Cotton MS. Nero D. VII. In others, the lack of a pressmark may mean that, due to space problems as a result of Madden's failure to secure storage in the room containing the Grenville Library, the manuscript never received a final placing. The practice of incorporating the pressmark in the spine title was apparently introduced at the time of the move from Montagu House: see n. 142 above. In recent years, when manuscripts have been rebound, the new title on the spine has (quite correctly) retained the old pressmark information, so that, oddly, the new binding can preserve shelving information that is a hundred years out of date, e.g. Tiberius E. V. Madden experimented with a system whereby 'each row of volumes, as they stand in order on the shelves, should be marked with a large number in white, black or red paint, from no. 1 to the highest number on the shelf, as by this means, if a volume were missing or out of place, it could immediately be detected...': Add. MS. 62022, ff. 17-17v. Many manuscripts were numbered in this way, but the experiment was unsuccessful and the painted numbers afterwards washed off.

149. Apparently by Bond, who refers to it in his 'Memorandum of the System of registering, Cataloguing and Labelling', loc. cit. Madden had objected to the Printed Books practice on the grounds that the printed labels easily fell off the spine: Add. MS. 62022, ff. 17v-18.

150. Miller, op. cit., p. 148.

151. MJ, 17 April 1837.

152. MJ, 26 April 1837.

153. Add. MS. 62001, ff. 7v-8. This list, bound up in the wrong order, is now Add. MS. 62576, ff. 36-38v, 27-32v, 21-26v, 16-20v. The notes on the Appendix inserted at ff. 18-19 are apparently later additions.

154. Add. MS. 62001, f. 11.

155. This turned out to contain all the charters from the Lansdowne collection, 658 in number. The Lansdowne Charters were arranged and incorporated in their present form by Madden in 1839: Add. MS. 62072, f. 20. Madden raged against the negligent treatment of this material: 'The then Keeper of Manuscripts [Nares] presuming that it would give him some trouble to catalogue these charters wisely determined to NAIL them up...So much for the zeal of Messrs. Douce, Ellis and Forshall! For my part, I am determined not to suffer a scrap to be put away which I have not thoroughly examined and I am resolved to rescue from oblivion every paper of the least value': MJ, 24 November 1837, cited by Miller, op. cit., p. 151.

156. Add. MS. 62001, ff. 11v-12v.

157. Add. MS. 62001, f. 12v; Add. MS. 62072, f. 21. In February 1838, Madden reported that the cartulary had been washed and flattened and placed in a solander case: Add. MS. 62072, f. 20.

158. Madden's collections on the history of Hampshire are Add. MSS. 33278-33285 and Bodleian Library, MSS. Top. Hants. e. 1-7.

159. This was one of the restored Cotton volumes which Madden showed to the Royal Commission on the Museum in 1848, declaring that 'I myself discovered [this MS.] in 1837 in the old Charter Garret as refuse, which had never been seen from the year 1731, when the fire took place, until the time I found it': Report from the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into...the British Museum (London, 1850) [hereafter cited as 1850 Royal Commission Report], no. 3691.

160. Papyrus 37 (1-32). This papyrus was afterwards inlaid and the fragments placed between sheets of glass, although it is not known if Gough was responsible for the inlay. The surviving inlay probably dates from Madden's time; the present glass frames probably date from the late nineteenth century.

161. Madden had met Gough for the first time on 3 Nov. 1837: 'Saw Mr Gough the binder, recommended by Dr Bliss to restore our burnt MSS.': Add. MS. 62001, f. 13.

162. Add. MS. 62001, f. 38v.

163. Ibid. A despairing letter of 10 August 1839 from Gough to Phillip Bliss, thanking Bliss for his help in trying to get him work, lamenting his failure to obtain work from the British Museum and Record Commission, explaining that it was proving impossible to meet the 'daily wants' of his family, so that he had even been forced to sell his 'own little stock of books', and asking for Bliss's help in obtaining employment as an attendant or messenger in any public office, is Add. MS. 34573, ff. 113-114.

164. MJ, 17 July 1838.

165. MJ, 18 July 1838.

166. Add. MS. 62001, f. 56v.

167. The draft of the report is Add. MS. 62022, ff. 64-66v.

168. Madden listed the thirty five manuscripts of the first class in his work diary, Add. MS. 62001. f. 59v, as follows: Julius A. I, II; Tiberius A. II, III, IV, VI, VII, XIII; B. III, IV, V, XIII; C. I, II, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII; F. XII; Vitellius A. X, XI, XII, XIII, XV, XVII; C. VI, VIII, XII, XIII; F. XII; Galba E. VIII; and Royal MS. 15 C. XI.

169. In his work diary, Add. MS. 62001, ff. 59v-60, he identified them as follows: Julius B. VI, XIII; C. II, V, IX; D. XI; E. IV, VII; F. VI, VII; Claudius A. I, IV, V, VIII, XII; B. IV, V, VI, VII, IX; C. I, II, III, IX, XI; D. II, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI, XII, XIII; Caligula B. II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X; C. I, II, III, IV, VI, VIII, IX, E. VII, IX, X, XI, XII; Tiberius A. V, VI; B. I; D. II, IX; Vitellius A. IV, XVI; B. II, III, IV, V, VII, VIII, XI; C. XI; F. XVIII; Galba B. I, II, IV, V, IX, X, XII; C. V, VI (two parts), IX, X; D.V, VIII; E. VI, X; Nero A. VIII, XII; B. V, VI; C. VIII, XII; D. VI; E. VII; Otho E. II; Vespasian A. V; B. VII; C. XIII, XIV, XVI; E. XVII, XVIII; F. I, III, IV, V, IX, XIII; Titus B. I, II, IV, V, VII, XI; C. II, IV, VI, VIII, IX; Domitian I, VII; Faustina E. I, II, V, VI; Cleopatra E. I, II, III, IV, VI; F. III, V, VI; Appendix XXVII.

170. These were listed by Madden in his work diary, Add. MS. 62001, f. 60, as follows: Tiberius A. IX, X, XI, XIII, XIV, XV; B. IX, XI; D. III, IV, V, VI, X; E. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, IX, X; Otho A. II, VI; B. III, VI; C. I, XIII; D. III, VIII; E. VI; Vitellius A. VIII, IX; C. V; D. II, VII, XVII; E. IX, XIII, XV, XVII, XVIII; F. II, X, XVI, XVII; Galba A. V, X, XV; E. XIII; Caligula D. IV, V, X; Appendix XXX, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVII, XXXIX, XLI, XLII, XLIII, XLIV, XLV, XLVI; together with four cases containing portions of unidentified manuscripts on both paper and vellum. The Royal MSS. 9 B. X, 9 C. IX, X and XI were in a similar condition.

171. Madden identifies this in his draft report as Tiberius A. VI, but this is an Ely cartulary and in any case was placed by Madden in the first class of damaged MSS. Probably Madden meant to write Tiberius E. VI, which is a fourteenth-fiteenth century St Albans register.

172. Add. MS. 62022, ff. 79-79v.

173. The words 'very shamefully some' have been deleted in the draft.

174. Add. MS. 62022, ff. 75-76.

175. MJ, 2 Feb. 1839.

176. Ibid.; Add. MS. 62001, f. 67v.

177. Add. MS. 62023, ff. 9-9v.

178. Add. MS. 62001, f. 91v. Madden noted in his work diary for 10 July 1839 'Also received from the Secretary a Minute of Committee 6 July ordering that the Volumes of State Papers in the Cotton Collection, consisting of about 25 in number, and the other volumes requiring careful binding, to the number of about 100, should without delay, be inlaid, bound and repaired, in the manner recommended by me, and the progress made reported to the monthly meetings of the Trustees': Add. MS. 62001, ff. 94-94v.

179. Ibid., ff. 95-95v. The manuscript was returned on 5 September.

180. Ibid., ff. 59v-60.

181. Add. MS. 62022, ff. 77v-78 (7 Feb. 1839).

182. Cf. Esdaile, op. cit., p. 83.

183. Add. MS. 62022, ff. 89v-90 (11 Apr. 1839).

184. E.g. see Add. MS. 62013, ff. 60-60v.

185. Add. MS. 62576, ff. 49-49v; and 61-62v, 47.

186. E.g. Tiberius A. VI: Add. MS. 62023, f. 38.

187. Add. MS. 62002, ff. 84-84v.

188. MJ, 3 Apr. 1843.

189. MJ, 5 Apr. 1843.

190. The word 'strongly' has been deleted in the draft.

191. The words 'with the strongest' have been deleted in the draft.

192. Add. MS. 62024, ff. 12v-13.

193. Add. MS. 62002, f. 82.

194. Ibid.

195. Ibid., f. 83.

196. Ibid., ff. 84v-85.

197. MJ, 3 June 1841. Gough's letter accompanying the restored fragments is Eg. MS. 2842, ff. 338-339. Gough writes from Oxford, indicating that the work was done there. Gough notes that 'The Gellatine in those I have had being effectively destroy'd renders it utterly impossible to bring them to their original size and form. Those leaves of greater substance, as the one inlaid is literally baked & reduced to a horny substance. Had I been able to have kept them a little longer, to have given them a longer pressing, they would have had an improved appearance. They will however convey an idea (capable of improvement).'

198. Add. MS. 62024, ff. 20-21.

199. Gough gave this information to Madden in a letter of 8 June: Eg. MS. 2842, f. 340.

200. Add. MS. 62002, f. 87.

201. Ibid., ff. 89v-90.

202. MJ, 19 June 1841.

203. Add. MS. 62003, f. 3.

204. Ibid., ff. 19-19v. Madden's room was probably the present Manuscripts Interview Room, between the Middle Room and the corridor leading to the eastern block of official residences. Gough was in the basement area reached by the staircase leading from the north-east corner of the Middle Room: cf. Madden's complaints about Gough's accommodation, Add. MS. 62032, ff. 6-7. To make matters worse, despite Madden's entreaties, the Trustees refused to allow Gough a house key: ibid.

205. Add. MS. 62003, ff. 19-19v.

206. Add. MS. 62024, ff. 85-86.

207. Add. MS. 62003, f. 67.

208. Ibid., f. 90.

209. Ibid.

210. Add. MS. 62003, f. 90v.

211. Add. MS. 62025, ff. 24v-25v.

212. Ibid., ff. 52v, 65v. Gough returned again in November 1844: ibid., f. 88.

213. Add. MS. 62026, f. 14.

214. Add. MSS. 62004, ff. 62, 71; 62007, ff. 50v, 87.

215. Ibid., f. 62.

216. Add. MS. 62576, f. 42.

217. Ibid., f. 42v.

218. E.g. Julius A. II (Add. MS. 62028, f. 21v), Tiberius C. I, X (ibid., f. 62v), Vitellius A. XII (Add. MS. 62029, f. 36v), Vitellius A. XVIII, XX (ibid., f. 72v).

219. Add. MS. 62009, f. 65v.

220. Add. MS. 62033, f. 56v.

221. MJ, 7 June 1851.

222. Add. MS. 62033, ff. 56v-61v.

223. Ibid.

224. Ibid.

225. cf. Add. MS. 62034, ff. 70v, 78.

226. Ibid., ff. 85v-86.

227. Add. MS. 62035, ff. 3v-4.

228. Add. MS. 62036, f. 46.

229. 1850 Royal Commission Repor, nos. 3690-3692.

230. Add. MS. 18457; British Museum: List of Autograph Letters, Original Charters, Great Seals and Manuscripts exhibited to the Public in the Department of Manuscripts (London, 1851), p. 22.

231. The phrase used by Roger Ellis to describe the conservation work of the twentieth-century Keeper of Public Records, Hilary Jenkinson.

232. British Museum: List of Autograph Letters...Exhibited to the Public..., ed. cit., p. 22.

233. See further below.

234. Cf. Richard Garnett's comments in his article on Madden in the D. N. B.

235. MJ, 10 March 1864.

236. The following is based, unless otherwise stated, on MJ, 10-12 July 1865. Extracts from this account of the bindery fire have been printed from a transcription by Michael Borrie in the journal of Madden Society, The Staircase, ii (Feb. 1992), pp. 1-5.

237. The precise extent of the damage is recorded by Madden in three places: MJ, particularly entries for 11 and 12 July 1865; Add. MS. 62016, ff. 68-68v; Add. MS. 62041, ff. 36-38v. The returns of Madden's assistants as to which manuscripts were in the bindery at the time are also preserved in the Manuscript Collections archives.

238. E.g. Add. MSS. 25786, 25804, 26106.

239. Add. MS. 62041, ff. 68-68v.

240. MJ, 12 July 1865.

241. A stray leaf, found in a binding at Kassel in 1853, is Kassel, Landesbibliothek, Anhang 19: Ker, op. cit., no. 195.

242. See below.

243. M. Borrie, 'Panizzi and Madden', British Library Journal v (1979), p. 33.

244. The resignation memorial is cited from the fair copy in the personal diary, MJ, 12 July 1866.

245. Add. MS. 62017, f. 28v.

246. Madden wrote in his personal diary for 1 Nov. 1837 'Occupied with Mr Holmes arranging about the List of Additions for 1836 but for this and other occupations connected with the Department of MSS I must refer once for all to a Notebook of business of the Department I have kept since my appointment as Keeper', presumably directing the reader to his official diaries.

247. Add. MSS. 62001-62017. On the circumstances of the transfer to the British Library of these and other departmental records kept by Madden, now Add. MSS. 62001-62078, see below.

248. Add. MSS. 62022-62041.

249. Add. MS. 62072 ('Memoranda relating to the Department of MSS Brit. Musm. to be used in evidence before the Commrs. of Inquiry 1847'), ff. 21-22; Add. MS. 62075, compiled by Madden in 1847 (f. 1), but relating to the 1830s, so that the material relating to the Cotton MSS. on f. 7 mainly consists of a summary of Forshall's evidence to the 1835-6 select committee (Forshall's claim that 'The contents [of the burnt crusts are] of no great value, not worth the expense of unrolling' is marked 'Not true' by Madden); Add. MS. 62076, ff. 13-14, also apparently compiled circa 1847.

250. MJ, 24 July 1849; cf. Add. MS. 62007, f. 36.

251. Add. MS. 62577.

252. Although note that where Gough inlaid a volume, he was not generally responsible for binding it up: see below.

253. Add. MS. 62572.

254. Add. MS. 62578.

255. One was compiled for internal departmental use, and remains in the Departmental Reference library. The other was intended for the Reading Rooms and is now Add. MS. 62573. The facsimile in Smith (1984 ed.) is said (p. 12) to have been taken from Add. MS. 62573, but in fact it is a reproduction of the volume in the Departmental Library, as can be seen from the pencil annotation in the entry for Otho A. XII, which does not appear in Add. MS. 62573. On the circumstances of the compilation of these volumes, see further below.

256. Add. MS. 62574. A description of this volume in chronological order is Appendix 2.

257. Add. MS. 62575.

258. Copies are preserved in the Manuscript Collections Archives.

259. M. Clapinson and T. Roger, Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Oxford, 1991), nos. 39761-39807.

260. Manuscript Collections Archives, Minutes of Acquisitions 1914-1930, f. 160.

261.G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 4 vols. (London, 1854-7), i, p. 97.

262. Beowulf, ed. J. Zupitza, Early English Text Society, Original Series lxxvii (1882), p. vi.

263. E.g., J.G. Nichols, ed., The Diary of Henry Machy, Camden Society xlii (1848), pp. xii-xiii; H.G. Hewlett, ed., The Flowers of History by Roger Wendover, (Rolls Series, 1886), i, p. viii.

264. Richard Sims, Handbook to the Library of the British Museum (London, 1854), pp. 26-7.

265. Edward Edwards, Memoirs of Libraries including a Handbook of Library Economy vol. I (London, 1859), p. 433.

266. Esdaile, op. cit., p. 230.

267. Miller, op. cit., p. 151.

268. Kiernan, Beowulf, p. 69.

269. Ibid., p. 70.

270 Kevin S. Kiernan, 'The State of the Beowulf manuscript 1882-1983', Anglo-Saxon England xiii (1984), pp. 23-42; idem, The Thorkelin Transcripts of Beowulf, ed. cit., pp. 45-46.

271. Kevin S. Kiernan, 'The Digital Preservation, Restoration and Dissemination of Medieval Manuscripts' in A. Okersen, ed., Scholarly Publishing on the Electronic Networks (Association of Research Libraries, 1994).

272. Add. MS. 62577, ff. 24v-25, and Madden's account of the restoration of the manuscript on the flyleaf.

273. The description is actually by Planta. Madden was misled by an ambigous turn of phrase in Planta's description of the manuscript. There is no indication in Smith that the manuscript was kept loose before the fire.

274. Vitellius F. V, flyleaf.

275. The Diary of Henry Machyn, ed. cit., p. xii.

276. The manuscript was unfortunately rebound in 1958, but the inlays are still Tuckett's original work.

277. Many of these readings can be inferred from the main text, but they nevertheless illustrate the way in which fibre-optic light can be used to read concealed text. For example, on f. 102v, in the description of the funeral of Sir Anthony St Leger, in the first line the word 'day' can be made out at the beginning, while in the second line 'of the' can be read before 'garter'. In the next line, 'of' can be read before Kent, and the 'C' of Crest can be clearly seen.

278. Vitellius F. V, flyleaf.

279. Ed. cit.

280. Add. MS. 62577, ff. 24v-25. Neither of these early Madden restorations survive intact, although the inlay in both cases is the original 1834 work. Vitellius F. IV was rebound in May 1914, and the work on the so-called Vitellius E. VIII destroyed when the leaves were moved to Otho D. IV in 1865.

281. Thus, Tiberius B. V was 'inlaid by Gough and bound by Tuckett': Add. MS. 62025, f. 13v. A similar division of labour was noted for Tiberius C. VI (Add. MS. 62025, f. 24v), while Madden notes that Tiberius A. XI, E. IV , Vitellius A. XIII and D. XVII were 'inlaid by Gough and three of the number bound by Tuckett' (Add. MS. 62026, f. 80). See also Add. MS. 62006, ff. 10-10v, 34, 54-54v, 72. Kiernan, Beowulf, p. 69, attributes the binding of Vitellius A. XV to Gough, but presumably the leaves, reported as inlaid by Gough in August 1845, were also subsequently bound up by Tuckett after rearrangement of their order by Madden: Add. MSS. 62026, f. 71v; 62027, f. 2v; MJ, 7 Aug. 1845 ('Gough is getting on nicely with the restoration of the injured vellum Cotton MSS. and brought me up today the Bede of the 8th century, Tib. A. XIV, and the Beowulf and other Saxon treatises, Vitell. A. XV. both inlaid and perfectly repaired and preserved').

282. For example, on 28 Jan. 1844, Madden 'found several portions of Tiberius E. IX and gave the whole in Tuckett's hands' (Add. MS. 62004, f. 27). The leaves came back in April, and Madden spent three days arranging them, but his official diary merely states that he was 'Employed in arranging Tiberius E. IX'. His personal diary is equally uninformative.

283. MJ, 26 May 1854.

284. Add. MS. 62573, f. 81.

285. MJ, 29 Mar. 1845; cf. Add. MS. 62004, f. 71v.

286.Add. MS. 62026, f. 66v.

287. Add. MS. 62004, f. 82.

288. A full study of this manuscript is forthcoming: Budny, Page and Verey, op. cit. Much of the following is based on Timothy R. Graham's account of the restoration of this manuscript in the forthcoming volume. I am grateful to Mr Graham and Dr Simon Keynes for valuable discussions on the nineteenth-century history of this manuscript.

289. Casley, op. cit., pl. xii, no. 4.

290. Add. MS. 62576, f. 62. A question mark after this figure has been deleted, suggesting the leaves were in such a bad condition that it was difficult to establish how many there were.

291. MJ, 3 Jan. 1855; Keynes, art. cit.

292. See n. 300 below.

293. E.g. ff. 16, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 37, 39, 43, 55, 56, 59, 60, 64.

294 Add. MSS. 62577, ff. 19v-20; 62006, ff. 83-83v; 62572, f. 63.

295. E.g. ff. 37, 39, 43, 54, 55.

296. Add. MS. 62006, f. 83v; cf. the adjustments of the number of folios in the volume given by Madden in Add. MS. 62572, f. 63.

297. Ff. 3, 5, 14, 36. These were given by Madden the starred numbers 2*, 3*, 11*, 32* respectively.

298. On whom, see further below.

299. See n. 220 above.

300. Otho A. I was further damaged in the bindery fire, but it nevertheless seems likely that the six leaves placed by Forshall with Otho C. V were the present ff. 1-4 and 6-7. They all show evidence of Forshallian 'notching'.

301. Add. MS. 62035, f. 48. I owe this reference to Simon Keynes and Timothy Graham.

302. It is also possible that the starred folios were late additions made in the course of Madden's initial arrangement in 1848, and that the fragments identified by Hamilton were small pieces inserted in the existing inlays. The 1963 rebinding makes it impossible to establish the exact character of the 1855 rearrangement.

303. The refoliation of the Cotton Manuscripts was part of a general refoliation of all manuscripts in the British Museum at this time, apparently prompted by the theft of an unfoliated leaf from a manuscript: see further Bond's Memoranda in the Departmental Archives. The 'great refoliation', as Christopher Wright happily designated it in conversation, has caused endless confusion ever since, but was essential to fulfil the fundamental requirements that foliation should ensure the security of all leaves in a manuscript and provide a simple means of denoting each leaf. One refoliation that has caused particular confusion is that of Vitellius A. XV, since Zupitza's facsimile was produced before the manuscript was refoliated, and the old foliation has continued to be used: see further Kiernan, Beowulf, pp. 85-110. In this case, matters were further confused by the removal of f. 1 from Vitellius A. XV to Royal MS. 13.D.I* in 1913. Kiernan argues for the reinstatement of an amended form of the earlier foliation, but does not take account of the fact that the refoliation was not intended to represent an official view of the structure of the manuscript, but formed part of a completely new system of foliation for the entire collection, designed to improve the security of the manuscripts. In view of the interest that the refoliation of Vitellius A. XV has aroused, it is perhaps worth noting that foliation was at this time undertaken by the attendants who then performed low grade clerical duties (cf. Kiernan, Beowulf, p. 71, n. 9). The attendants who refoliated the Beowulf Manuscript in June 1884 can easily be identified from the annual return of progress for that year in the Departmental Archives. The actual foliation was done by Frederick John Mackney, the attendant who had special responsibility for keeping the register of artists copying miniatures and superintended the use of select and other manuscripts. The foliation was checked by George Gatfield. These two were responsible for refoliating many of the Cotton Manuscripts.

304. Add. MS. 62007, f. 81v.

305. Add. MS. 62011, f. 14.

306. N.E.S.A. Hamilton, Inquisitio Comitatus Cantabrigiensis (London, 1876). The manuscript is Tiberius A. VI, ff. 71-98v. Hamilton was perhaps involved in arranging the manuscript when it was rebound by Tuckett in March 1862: Add. MS. 62577, ff. 6v-7.

307. J.H. Round, Feudal England (1964 ed.), p. 17. Round showed that this document was known to Philip Carteret Webb, but nevertheless praised Hamilton's 'noble edition' which in his view represented 'an extraordinary amount of minute wearisome labour': ibid., pp. 17-18.

308. V.H. Galbraith, Domesday Book: its Place in Administrative History (Oxford, 1974), passim.

309. Hamilton, op. cit., pp. x-xi.

310. Ibid. Hamilton notes that he 'had the advantage of discussing the matter with Sir Henry Ellis himself, and was informed that the only explanation it was then possible for him to give was this:- that he (Ellis) had directed an amanuensis to trranscribe for him whatever related to the Domesday Survey from MS. Tiberius A. vi., and that the transcriber, by some strange oversight, having omitted the most important portion, Ellis must have supposed that the MS itself had by that time ceased to contain it, and deferred further inquiry into the matter to a future occasion, which, owing to accident or forgetfulness, never arrived': ibid., p. x. One of Madden's motives in encouraging Hamilton to print the newly-identified text may have been the hope that it would embarass Ellis.

311. Add. MS. 62010, f. 60v.

312. Ibid., f. 68v.

313. Add. MS. 62015, f. 42v: 'Mr Hamilton returned to me the injured leaves of the Saxon MSS. Otho A. VIII, Otho B. X, Otho B. XI arranged as far as possible' [11 Feb. 1863]. Note, however, that the final responsibility for the arrangement of the volumes was Madden's: 'Prepared Otho B.X, Otho B. XI & the Saxon fragments for the binder' [13 May 1863]: Add. MS. 62015, f. 60.

314. Ker, op. cit., nos. 168 (where the leaves of the Life of St Machutus in Otho A. VIII are described as 'quite out of order'), 168, 175, 177, 178, 180, 181; D. Yerkes, The Old English Life of St Machutus, Toronto Old English Series ix (Toronto, 1984).

315. MJ, 12 May 1863. The five leaves of Boethius misidentified by Hamilton are probably the present Otho A. VI, ff. 63-67, which were inlaid with paper from a different stock to the rest of the Boethius. The paper used to inlay these additional leaves was more acid than the older stock and is now discoloured. In Hamilton's favour, it should be noted that he corrected the error of Madden and Forshall in placing leaves from Otho A. I with Otho C. V. Moreover, the quality of the arrangement of the burnt leaves, even those undertaken by Madden, was often very uneven. Francis Hingeston in his edition of Capgrave's De Illustribus Henricis (Rolls Series, 1858), p. l n.1, notes that in Tiberius A. VIII, Capgrave's presentation copy to Henry VI, 'The binder has unfortunately misplaced many of the leaves, so as to render it no easy matter for a reader to hunt his way through the MS.' The manuscript was inlaid by Gough in 1848, but responsibility for the arrangement probably rests with Madden.

316. E.g. Otho B. X, ff.26-27, where the leaves are very obviously upside down, even under ordinary daylight. Hamilton also worked on Otho D. VII (Add. MS. 62009, f. 89v) and Vitellius A. VII (MJ, 3 Apr. 1854). Vitellius A. VII was, however, reworked by Maunde Thompson nine years later: Add. MS. 62015, ff. 62-62v.

317. Add. MS. 62014, f. 83v.

318. Add. MS. 62015, f. 59v.

319. Ibid., f. 62.

320. Ibid., f. 62v; MJ, 1 June 1863.

321. MJ, 1 June 1863.

322. MJ, 2 June 1863.

323. Ibid.

324. MJ, 30 Sep. 1864. The misidentification is not explicitly attributed to Thompson, but the diary entry makes it evident that Madden was at that time discussing the Cotton materials with Thompson.

325. Henry Bradshaw, Collected Papers (Cambridge, 1889), p. 467.

326. The note correcting the identification in the interleaved copy of Smith in the Manuscript Collections Reference Library, reproduced in Smith (1984 ed.), pointing out the misidentification is apparently in Warner's hand.

327. Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover (London, 1993), p. 347.

328.Add. MS. 43502, ff. 210v, 217.

329. In Ayscough's charter catalogue (Add. MS. 43502), Madden notes the following as Harleian: XVI. 11-16, XXIV. 25, XXIV. 28, XXVI. 1-16. XXVI. 29 is also possibly Harleian. Ayscough also managed to put Cottonian material in the Harley collection. On 23 Apr. 1855, Madden 'carried into execution what I have long contemplated, viz. the remarking of the rolls numbered by Ayscough as Harleian, EE from 1 to 21 inclusive. The whole of these are Cottonian, with the exception of three and I have had these remarked as follows: Harl. EE 1-5 made Cott. XIII. 31-35. Harl. EE. 6 made Harl. DD. 3. Harl. EE 7-19 made Cott. XIII. 36-48. Harl. EE 20, 21 made Harl. DD 4, 5.': Add. MS. 62010, f. 69v.

330. MJ, 7 April 1852. Attempts were made by Madden to improve the situation. Some charters were removed from the Cartae Miscellaneae Addendae to the main Cotton charter sequence, so that Cotton Charter XVII. 33 was renumbered XI. 63. Other renumberings correct duplication of numbers by Ayscough e.g. IV. 20, now XXIX. 41, and X. 10, now XXV. 13.

331. Add. MS. 43502, f. 243.

332. On 28 May 1855, Madden inserted in the charter catalogue notes of the following Cotton charters which had apparently been restored: X. 18-X. 21; XV. 27-XV. 52; XVI. 30-XVI. 74; and XVIII. 49, 50: Add. MS. 62010, f. 74.

333. MJ, 13 September 1859.

334. A. N. L. Munby, Portrait of An Obsession (New York, 1967), p. 190.

335. Add. MS. 62011, ff. 60-60v; cf. MJ, 6 November 1856. On 22 Jan. 1857, Madden noted that he had 'Received a minute 10 Jan. to say that the Minister at the Hague had been instructed to endeavour to recover the Cotton MSS. at Utrecht: Add. MS. 62011, f. 74.

336. Nicholas Harris Nicolas, Observations on the State of Historical Literature (London, 1830), p. 75.

337. Ibid.

338. Ibid., pp. 76-77.

339. 1836 Select Committee Report, nos. 3675-3680.

340. Ibid., nos. 4389, 4397.

341. The limitations of Planta are succinctly described in C. Tite, 'The Cotton Appendix and the Cotton Fragments', The Library xv (1993), p. 52.

342. MJ, 6 Dec. 1861.

343. MJ, 5 June 1861. Madden records that, once again, 'No notice was taken by the Trustees'.

344. The draft corrected by Madden and with an imposing calligraphic title page is Add. MS. 62578.

345. Add. MS. 62573, f. 1 and facing page.

346. Ibid., page facing f. 1.

347. Note, however, that the volume reproduced in Smith is that in the Manuscripts Collections Reference Library, not, as stated in the introduction, Add. MS. 62573: see note 255 above. There is another copy of this description of the state of the Cotton Library in the Reference library, apparently dating from the 1880s.

348. For example, it does not record the rearrangement of some volumes of State Papers in the early part of this century.

349. See further Tite, art. cit., pp. 52-55.

350. A Guide to a Select Exhibition of Cottonian Manuscripts in celebration of the Tercentenary of the Death of Sir Robert Cotton, 6 May 1931 (British Museum, 1931), p. 10.

351. All the following is based on some loose typed sheets in the Manuscripts Collections Reference Library, 'Rules for Cotton Catalogue' and 'Provisional List of Assignments for Cotton Catalogue. Julius-Caligula'.

352. Catalogue of Additions...1921-, p. xii, and Catalogue of Additions... 1926-1930, p. xiii.

353. The printed parliamentary returns of progress are in the Manuscript Collections archives. According to these, during 1866 the leaves of Tiberius A. VI, Otho B. III, IX and C. XI were arranged. In 1867, the leaves of Otho B. IV, Tiberius XI, Galba A. XIX, Otho A. IX, XI, XII were arranged. Much of the work was therefore concerned with remedying damage caused by the 1865 bindery fire.

354. E.g. f. 46, 47, 49. Other folios, e.g. ff. 33-36, are inlaid in paper from a different stock, and show no discoloration.

355. E.g. Otho A. XII, Vitellius A. VII.

356. David Dumville, Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical History of Late Anglo-Saxon England (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 79.

357. Sontag, op. cit., p. 347.