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Porter, John, fl. 1445–1485

John Porter manuscript.

England, circa 1450.
Physical Description:
1 v. (72 leaves) ; 23 cm.
Unable to reach service. Holdings currently not available
Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Related Content:
View the catalog record for William Twiti's The craft of venery
View the catalog record for Johannes de Bado Aureo's Tractatus de Armis
View the catalog record for the manuscript of Forty chess problems
Archives & Manuscripts
Not much is known about John Porter, M.P. of Worcester, England. His memorandum on leaves 67v-69v of the present manuscript states that he was elected a "fellow-burgess" for the city of Worcester on 6 February 1447 and that he arrived at the parliament of Bury six days later.
Leaves are numbered, in a later hand, from 1 to 73. Number 55 is omitted; leaves 42,43, and 73 are blank.
Provenance: John Porter copied or wrote the majority of the volume, with the significant exception of leaves 46-54. Thomas Mellynton, dyer at London (late 15th century?), has written his autograph on page 47r, along with two notes on page 49v. The autograph of Anthony Reston (mid-16th century?) appears on pages 36v and 47v. Thomas Hodgett, salter, of London, has written his name on pages 4r and 36r. Sir William Dethick (1543-1612), herald and antiquary, bought the manuscript from Hodgett in 1565 (according to his notes in Britsh Library Lansdowne MS 285). Garter king of arms until 1605, Dethick was also a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries and a collector of manuscripts relating to the history of heraldry. On the blank of 41r, Dethick has recorded some lines (in Latin, Spanish, and English) on the rise and fall of families; he has also written brief annotations on 1r, 36v, 69r, and 71r.
Provenance (continued): Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), the celebrated Lord Chief Justice and author of Coke upon Littleton, received the volume from Dethick. On 1r, Dethick offers a presentation inscription to Coke, noting that the arms of Coke and Crispin are impaled in a shield on page 13r. The manuscript is not identified in the catalog of Coke's library made in 1634. According to H.J.R. Murray's A history of chess (Oxford, 1913), the manuscript later belonged to Thomas Percy (1729-1811), Bishop of Dromore. By Percy's daughter, the manuscript was given to the historian George Baker (1781-1851), from whom it was bought (in 1844) by the antiquarian and collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872). The final owners were Lionel and Philip Robinson (booksellers), Sotheby's (sold at auction on 28 November 1967), and Paul Mellon.
Phillipps MS 12086.
The information in the present record is largely derived from Sotheby's description of the item in its catalog of the Phillipps sale on 28 November 1967.
Binding: Bound in brown half russia and purple cloth, by Bretherton, 1848.
Selected exhibitions: "Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art" (Yale Center for British Art, 18 April-29 July, 2007); "'The Compleat Horseman': Sporting Books from the Bequest of Paul Mellon" (Yale Center for British Art, 17 February-29 April, 2001).
Sotheby's (Firm). Bibliotheca Phillippica, Medieval manuscripts: new series: third part. 1967 Nov. 28, 107
Scott-Macnab, D., editor. The Middle English text of The art of hunting, 2009
Danielsson, B., editor. The art of hunting, 1977
Podeschi, J.B. Books on the horse and horsemanship, 3
Studia neophilologica, v. 43, no. 1 (1971), p. 263-265
Murray, H.J.R. A history of chess, p. 601-605
Collection of manuscript texts on a range of secular topics, predominantly copied circa 1450 by John Porter, Member of Parliament for the city of Worcester. It includes important early manuscript texts on hunting, heraldry, and chess, along with interesting texts on miscellaneous historical, biblical, and culinary subjects.
Pages 1r-36v, titled Tractatus de armis, comprise a treatise on heraldry, in Latin, by Johannes de Bado Aureo (i.e. John Trevor?), with blazons in French and nearly 200 colored shields. This is one of the earliest writings on heraldry to be composed in England, of which this is one of two surviving manuscripts. According to the other known copy (British Library, Additional MS 28791), the work was compiled in 1449, being derived partly from a similar work written at the instance of Queen Anne (1366-1394). To view a detailed catalog record for this portion of the manuscript, follow the link to Johannes de Bado Aureo's Tractatus de armis, offered herewith.
Pages 37r-40r, titled The craft of venery, comprise a treatise on hunting. This short text is one of two known Middle English translations (with alterations) of William Twiti's L'art de vénerie. As huntsman for King Edward II, Twiti wrote his treatise originally in Anglo-Norman French in the early 14th century. It is considered the first work on hunting to be written in England and an important source for later writers (parts of it appear in The boke of St. Albans, 1486). To view a detailed catalog record for this portion of the manuscript, follow the link to William Twiti's The craft of venery, offered herewith.
Pages 40v-43v are blank, except for William Dethick's brief notes on the rise and fall of families (41r).
Pages 44r-55v comprise very miscellaneous texts. These include, on pages 44r-45v, tables titled De vino deficientibus in vasis, showing the amount of liquid lacking in and contained in a tun (dolium) and a pipe of half-tun (pipa) when the liquid is so many inches below the top. Pages 46r and 46v contain two menus of city banquets, the first a Lenten breakfast (jantaculum) given by Richard Lee, one of the sheriffs of London, on 14 March 1453; the second "the sergeauntes feast" for the term of St. John Baptist in the same year. In addition to the two menus, this portion of the manuscript includes cooking recipes on pages 47r, 53r, and 54v. Pages 51r-52v contains notes in Latin of moral aphorisms from the Bible, from Proverbs to the Apocalypse. Pages 53v-54v contain a brief treatise on the preservation of health, of the Regimen Sanitatis type.
Pages 56r-60v comprise an untitled collection of forty chess problems, with a diagram for each problem and text (in English or Latin) for most. It is one of two known problem manuscripts with texts in Middle English and is believed to derive from an earlier collection with texts in Anglo-Norman. To view a detailed catalog record for the chess manuscript, follow the link offered herewith.
Pages 61r-68r comprise a brief chronicle of the history of England from 1066 to 1447, in Latin, beginning with a list of the kings of England since the Norman conquest. The entries are sparse until the final years (1431 to 1447). There are references to an insurrection of the Lollards at Ficatty Field near Tyburn in 1412, to the defeat of the Burgundian army besieging Calais in 1435, to the destruction by lightning of the bell-tower of Waltham Abbey in 1443 and of St. Paul's cathedral in 1444, and to a storm in 1446 which gave rise to the saying "wynter thonder bred muche wonder".
Pages 68r-70v consist again of very miscellaneous texts, probably in the hand of John Porter. These include a list of the counties of England (68r); a note of the number of parish churches in England (68r); lists of the ten commandments, five senses, seven mortal sins, etc. (68v); explanations of ecclesiastical ceremonies (69r-69v); and a text explaining the significance of the various parts of a church and of church furnishings (70r-70v).
The final text (pages 71r-72r) consists of a treatise on the plague, in English, ascribed to John of Bordeaux. It appears to be a summary of a longer work.
Subject Terms:
Bado Aureo, Johannes de. Tractatus de armis. Latin and French.
Baker, George, 1781-1851 -- Ownership.
Black Death -- England.
Chess -- Early works to 1800.
Chess problems -- Early works to 1800.
Coke, Edward, Sir, 1552-1634 -- Ownership.
Cooking, English -- Early works to 1800.
Dethick, William, 1543-1612 -- Ownership.
Devices (Heraldry)
Great Britain -- History -- 1066-1687 -- Early works to 1800.
Heraldry -- Great Britain.
Heraldry -- History.
Hodgett, Thomas -- Ownership.
Hunting -- England -- Early works to 1800.
Hunting customs -- England -- Early works to 1800.
Hygiene -- Early works to 1800.
Kings and rulers -- Great Britain.
Mellynton, Thomas -- Ownership.
Percy, Thomas, 1729-1811 -- Ownership.
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872 -- Ownership.
Plague -- England.
Porter, John, fl. 1445-1485.
Reston, Anthony -- Ownership.
Trevor, John, d. 1410.
Twiti, William, d. 1328. Art de venerie. English (Middle English) & (Anglo-Norman)
Worcester (England) -- History.
Worcester (England) -- Social life and customs.
Commonplace books.
Coats of arms.

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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