The Devonshire Manuscript/Textual Introduction
The Devonshire Manuscript was maintained as an “informal volume” or “courtly anthology,” most likely circulated amongst a coterie of friends for private use. This small paper volume, bound in quarto, retains its original London binding—an embossed leather capstan design—which dates its production between 1525 and 1559. Internal evidence narrows the dates of composition slightly: the contents of the manuscript suggest that the most intense period of writing and circulation was during the 1530s. The front and back covers are stamped “M.F.” and “S.E.” respectively. In its current state the manuscript contains 114 of its original leaves, nearly half of which are blank, with fragments of what may have served as flyleaves mounted on endpapers (ff.  and ) added after its acquisition by the British Museum in the mid-nineteenth century. The only visible foliation (ff. 1–96), entered in pencil, was presumably added by the British Museum. There is evidence of a rough repair and rebinding at this time. Although many editors and commentators have relied upon this modern foliation, it was only entered on pages containing text and is therefore an unreliable and inaccurate representation of the manuscript's physical state.
Paper and Watermarks
The manuscript is written on what appears to be a single stock of paper, in which two “twin” versions of a watermark design appear. These are similar to item 1457 in Briquet's catalogue: a coat of arms consisting of the shield of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519; the blazon reads “per pale, dexter gules a fess argent; sinister bendy of six Or and azure, a bordure gules”) mounted on the chest of the imperial two-headed eagle. Briquet's example comes from an Utrecht source dating between 1519 and 1521 . The only parts of this design visible in the Devonshire Manuscript are the top and the bottom, the former consisting of the imperial crown, the eagle's two heads, Maximilian's shield on the bird's chest and part of the eagle's wings, the latter of the eagle's claws and extended tail. The lower part of the eagle's body and of its lower wings and its legs are missing. These fragmented watermarks appear in the Devonshire Manuscript at the head of some leaves close to the gutter, with the top sections of the eagle upside-down. Originally the whole of the design would have been visible, bisected by folds joining the heads of the watermarked leaves. The manuscript has been cut down, however, and, in the process, the head of all the leaves, watermarked and unwatermarked--the area on either side of the fold--has been lost, and with it the middle of Maximilian's eagle.
Vertical chain lines, parallel with the shorter sides of each page, are also visible. Usually, the presence of watermark sections and vertical chain lines in the top inner corner of the leaf identifies a manuscript as an octavo, meaning that when the manuscript was assembled, sheets were folded three times (once across their longer sides, then twice along their shorter), producing eight-leaf booklets to form the basis for a larger gathering. The sequence in which the watermark sections appear in the Devonshire Manuscript, however, differs from the watermark sequences characteristic of normal octavo folding. Instead, sheets seem to have been cut in half along their longer side (the watermark appearing on just half of the sheet), and then each sheet was “quarto-folded”--folded, that is, twice along the shorter side--to produce two booklets of four leaves each. Eight-leaf gatherings were then produced by placing watermarked booklets inside unwatermarked booklets.
There appear to be five undisturbed gatherings of this type in the Devonshire Manuscript: gatherings 4 (ff. 15-22), 6 (ff.29-35), 7 (ff. 36-43), 14 (ff. 69-76), and 16 (ff. 82-88.1). One of the “twin” forms of the eagle design, henceforth designated “twin I,” appears in gathering 16, although the crown is indistinct and the eagle’s tail is squat. Twin I only appears on two of the gathering's leaves: its top on the third leaf and its bottom on the fourth leaf. Although the watermark section on each of these leaves is close to the inner margin at the head of the leaf, it does not run into the gutter, meaning that no watermark appears on its conjugate leaf: the leaf, that is, connected to it across the gutter, in this case either the fifth or sixth leaf. The other complete gatherings (4, 6, 7, and 17) contain twin II, characterised by its neater crown and etiolated tail. In each of these gatherings, the bottom part of the watermark appears on the third leaf and the top on the fourth, a reversal of the pattern for twin I. Here, the marks run into the gutter, and small bits of the eagle’s wings appear on the fifth leaf of each gathering (conjugate with the top part of the watermark), and, less consistently on the sixth leaf (conjugate with the bottom part of the watermark).
The collation which follows is based both on watermark evidence and on the evidence of chainspace patterns, the sequence of measurements between chain lines. These measurements differ from page to page and can be used to distinguish unwatermarked leaves from one other, to differentiate gatherings, and to determine which unwatermarked leaves were originally linked by a head fold.
Five gatherings have a few missing leaves: 3 (ff. 8-14 (twin I)), 5 (ff. 23-28 (twin II)), 8 (ff. 44-49 (twin I)), 15 (ff. 77-91 (twin I)) and 18 (ff. 88.5-90.1 (twin II)). Perhaps as a result of accident rather than design, gathering 3 is missing its fourth leaf between ff. 10 and 11, where the stub of the missing leaf is visible. This leaf would presumably have contained, in Hand 2, the first six stanzas of Wyatt's “Heaven and earth and all that hear me plain,” the final three stanzas of which appear, in Hand 2, on f. 11r. Gathering 5 is missing its third leaf. This leaf would have appeared between ff. 24v and 25r, bisecting Hand 3's fragmentary copy of “It was my choyse It Was my chaunce.” Perhaps Hand 3's copying went wrong and the leaf was excised. The penultimate leaf of gathering 8 is missing, , where one stub is visible between ff. 49 and 50: here Hand 5's copying of “So feble is the therd that dothe the burden staye” (which runs between ff. 49v and 50r) may have contained errors. The first two leaves of gathering 15 between ff. 76 and 77 seem to be missing, as does its final leaf between ff. 81 and 82. These gaps occur in Hand 8's section: the first does not interrupt a poem, but the second does, cutting into “Absens absenting causithe me to complaine .” As the eighth leaf is conjugate with the first, both may have been removed at the same time. Gathering 18 is missing its final leaf, between ff. 90.1 and 91, where a stub is visible. This gap appears in the middle of Hand TH2's section, immediately following a blank verso (f. 90v) and a blank leaf (f. 90.1).
Four gatherings have suffered more serious disturbances: gatherings 1 (ff. 2-5 (twin I)), 2 (ff. 6-7 (twin II)), 12 (ff. 68-68.2 (twin II)) and 19 (ff. 91-92 (twin II)). This category includes, as is often the case in early modern manuscripts, the first and the last gathering, as gatherings at both ends of a manuscript were easy prey to the ravages of use. The first gathering of the Devonshire Manuscript lacks two pairs of conjugate leaves: its first two leaves, before f. 2, and its last two leaves, between ff. 5 and 6, where two stubs remain. The fragments of paper pasted on the new leaves added to the beginning of the manuscript when it was rebound (see f. 1, for example) presumably formed part of the original opening leaves.
The two missing leaves at the end of the first gathering follow a blank verso (f. 5v) in Hand 1's section. More leaves are also missing at this point in the manuscript: possibly the first six of gathering 2, which currently contains only two leaves (ff. 6 and 7). Two leaves may also be missing from the end of the second gathering: interestingly, this lacuna occurs between two poems on facing pages clearly designed by Hand 2 to be read in parallel: “My ferefull hope from me ys fledd” (f. 7v) and “Yowre ferefull hope cannot prevayle” (f. 8r). Gathering 19, the last in the volume, currently contains only its first two leaves (ff. 91 and 92), followed by three stubs. Three other leaves are therefore also missing, all at the very end of the manuscript, although pieces of them are presumably included in the scraps stuck to the pages in new paper added to the manuscript at rebinding (see, for example, ff. 93 and 94). Gathering 12 seems to be missing five of its eight leaves: two between ff. 68 and 68.1 (where one stub is visible) and three between ff. 68.2 and 68.3. All of these lacunae occur as part of a sequence of blank pages, the first gap following a poem transcribed by Margaret Douglas on f. 67v (“the sueden ghance ded mak me mves”). The gathering that immediately precedes this point in the manuscript, number 11 (ff. 60-67 (twin II)) is anomalous as, although it contains eight leaves, all its leaves are watermarked: two half-sheets, each bearing twin II marks, nestle inside one another.
In the remainder of the manuscript, only one watermark, in a bottom section on f. 51, appears in one run of thirteen pages (ff. 51-59). This section opens with the beginning of Hand 6's work (ff. 51r-54v) and includes Mary Fitzroy's transcription of Surrey's “o happy dames that may enbrayes” (ff. 55r-v), a blank leaf (f. 56), [[The_Devonshire_Manuscript/My_hope_is_yow_for_to_obtaine,|Henry Stuart's poem (f. 57r), a blank verso and four blank leaves (ff. 57r-57.4), and a complex sequence in which poems transcribed by Margaret Douglas, Hand 7, Hand 1.1, Mary Shelton and TH2 appear together. This thirteen-page section, whose gathering structure is as yet uncertain, precedes the anomalous all-watermarked gathering 11. A stub shows that a leaf was removed between ff. 57 and 57.1, immediately following the verso of Henry Stuart's poem. Perhaps another late entry was removed at this point.
Smaller sections with indeterminate gatherings (and no watermarks) occur on ff. 68.3-68.8 (gathering 13) and on ff. 88.2088.4 (gathering 17). Both of these sections occur in the middle of runs of blank pages: the ordering of both sets of leaves may have been disturbed when the volume was rebound.
The gathering structure described above can be summarised in the following formula: 18 (-1.2, .2, .3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8) 28 (-2.1, .3, .4, .7, .8) 38 (-3.4) 48 58 (-5.3) 6-88 88 (-8.7) 9-10 (undetermined; 13 leaves; lacking 1 leaf after 7) 118 128 (-8.2, .3, .6, .7, .8) 13 (undetermined: 6 leaves) 148 158 (-15.1, .2, .8) 168 17 (undetermined: 3 leaves; lacking 1 leaf after 3) 188 198 (-19.3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8)
The Devonshire Manuscript was likely purchased blank and already bound in London during the first few of years of the 1530s, by Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond and Somerset and illegitimate son of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Blount, or perhaps by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey. Both Howard and Fitzroy accompanied Henry VIII to Calais for his meeting with François I in 1532, but the absence of French poems in the manuscript suggests that the volume was left behind. Both Fitzroy and Howard were recalled to England the following year and, on 26 November 1533, Fitzroy was married to Surrey’s sister, Mary Howard. Still in her early teens, Mary was judged too young to live with her husband and to consummate their union. Instead, she entered the household of her cousin, Anne Boleyn, as one of the Queen’s attendants. Whether she obtained the manuscript from her husband or her brother as a wedding gift, it was certainly in Mary’s possession at this time, as suggested by the initials “M.F.” (Mary Fitzroy) stamped on the front cover. Like Mary Fitzroy (née Howard), the other principal female figures responsible for the early compilation and circulation of the manuscript—Mary Shelton and Lady Margaret Douglas—were associated with the court and were at various times attendants to the current queen or to Princess Mary. Members of this circle were intimately connected, and initially focused around the court of Queen Anne Boleyn. Mary Shelton attended to her royal cousin as a lady-in-waiting, was twice rumored to have been Henry VIII’s mistress, and is supposed to have been romantically involved with Sir Thomas Clere, a gentleman with ties to the Howard family. Lady Margaret Douglas, Henry VIII’s niece and childhood companion to Princess Mary, was also a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn; it is likely in this capacity that Lady Margaret met and fell in love with Lord Thomas Howard.
1536 was an eventful year for the manuscript and those associated with it: In early 1536, Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret were contracted to wed par paroles de present. The fall of Anne Boleyn in May was swiftly followed by the death of Henry Fitzroy in July, leaving his widow, Mary Fitzroy (née Howard), to return to her family estate at Kenninghall. It is likely that the volume was entrusted to Mary Shelton at this time. The scandal surrounding Anne’s court after her trial and execution, followed by the bastardization of both princesses Mary and Elizabeth, provided the backdrop for the discovery of the clandestine marriage contract between Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret. Until Henry VIII could produce a male heir, Lady Margaret could claim precedence in the succession. Thus, when he discovered the secret betrothal in early July, the King was furious at what he perceived as an attempt at the throne on the part of Lord Thomas and promptly had the couple imprisoned in the Tower. When Lady Margaret fell ill with a recurring fever, the King allowed her to be removed to the abbey at Syon under the supervision of the abbess. An act of attainder was rushed through both houses of Parliament condemning Lord Thomas to a traitor’s death and forbidding the marriage of any member of the royal family without the King’s express permission. Lord Thomas was not executed, but remained in the Tower until his death of an ague on 31 October 1537, two days after Lady Margaret was released.
With the birth of Prince Edward on 12 October 1537, Lady Margaret ceased to be thought of as a potential threat to the throne and was allowed to return to court, becoming lady of honor to Anne of Cleves (1540) and then to Katherine Howard (1541). Lady Margaret remained in royal favor until she was discovered in yet another impolitic love affair, this time with Sir Charles Howard, the Queen’s brother; she was once again confined to Syon and then later to Kenninghall. Mary Fitzroy (née Howard) returned to court in 1540 as part of the entourage of Anne of Cleves, later serving in Katherine Howard’s court as a lady-in-waiting. She retired to Kenninghall after the fall of Katherine Howard in November 1541, and was there reunited with Lady Margaret. The pair lived together for at least a year, possibly two. In July 1543, Lady Margaret was again allowed to return to court as a bridesmaid for Henry VIII’s wedding to Katherine Parr. This was a shrewd political maneuver on Henry’s part, who, eager to enlist her father’s help to further his interests in Scotland, arranged for Lady Margaret to wed Matthew Stewart, earl of Lennox, a leading Scottish nobleman. They were married in London on 6 July 1544 and had two surviving sons, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, and Charles Stewart. It is likely that the manuscript was in the possession of Lady Margaret by this time. Her son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, later entered a poem of his own composition during the 1560s.
Darnley was murdered in February 1567 and Lennox died in September 1571, leaving Charles Stewart as earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret’s sole surviving heir. While it is unclear whether Lady Margaret passed the Devonshire Manuscript on to her son at his wedding to Elizabeth Cavendish in 1574 or whether she left him the volume after her death in 1578, that the manuscript was in their possession is suggested by the initials “S.E.” (Stewart, Elizabeth) stamped on the back covers. The couple took up residence at Chatsworth House, the traditional seat of the dukes of Devonshire, where the manuscript remained until the nineteenth century, when George Frederick Nott borrowed it in order to prepare his edition of the works of Surrey and Wyatt. Nott failed to return the volume to the Duke of Devonshire, as it was sold at auction with the rest of Nott’s library in January 1842. In 1848 it was acquired by the British Museum.
The transcription for this present edition is based on examination of both a microfilm of the Devonshire Manuscript and the original document. Microfilm of the Devonshire Manuscript was provided by the British Library, from which two paper copies were prepared. These paper copies were each transcribed in a blind process. Collation of these two transcriptions proved unfeasible by electronic means, so they were collated manually. This resultant rough transcription was resolved as far as possible using expanded paper prints and enlarged images. Remaining areas of uncertainty were resolved with manual reference to the original document itself, housed at the British Library. This final, collated transcription forms the basis for this current edition.
This edition follows Helen Baron’s attribution of hands in the Devonshire Manuscript. Where the transcribers differ from her attribution, the project's identification is noted in the underlying TEI markup. Of the roughly 20 hands, some are even and regular while others are idiosyncratic and irregular. Indeed, one major reason why more research has not been undertaken on the Devonshire Manuscript is that transcription has proven exceptionally difficult. Some 140 entries are copies of extant or contemporary works (129 attributed or attributable to Wyatt) and bear the signs of copying. The majority of the pieces may reflect the work of local amanuenses and secretaries with little professional regard for the standards we expect in a presentation-copy manuscript. A full half of the manuscript’s scribes (Hands 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and MF) dedicate themselves to copying extant pieces; another five (Hands 1.1, 2, 7, TH2, and MD) enter a mix of extant material and material that seems to be unique to the manuscript. The remaining five (Hands 12, 13, HS, MS, and TH1) enter original materials alone. The work of those ten hands entering potentially original material to the manuscript amounts to some 45 pieces (15 identified and/or attributed, 30 not).
The abundant scribal interaction within the text adds to the difficulty of attribution. For example, in addition to the instances addressed in the introduction, Margaret Douglas’s rendition of Wyatt’s “to my meshap alas I ffynd” has had “In the name of god amen” added to its beginning (42r); Mary Shelton comments on Margaret’s poem “the sueden ghance ded mak me mves” (67v), with “hape hawe bedden / my happe a vaning", while an annotator adds a stylized monogram with her own initials (“S” overwriting the middle descenders of a capital “M”). There are other instances of playful interactions between the scribes: Several poems are entered as answers to another, as when H8 enters Wyatt’s “Patiens for my devise” (71r) and adds an explicit link to the earlier entry, “Pacyence tho I have not” (13v) transcribed by H2. H8 writes “to her that saide this patiens was not for her but that the contrarye of myne was most metiste for her porposse” (71r). Evidently, H8 teasingly pays homage to a woman’s point-of-view about patience with a poem about the hardships of being unfaithful.
Punctuation and Scribal Marks
As far as is possible, this edition is intended to be a diplomatic one; there is a strong orientation towards the physical appearance of each page, including recordings of indentations, centring, brackets, and spaces. All omissions, truncations, deletions, etc. in the original are retained for this edition, and selectively displayed as described below. Possibly erroneous, idiosyncratic, or easily misunderstood text is italicized. The regularized version of the italicized text is provided to the right of each poem. Each poem has been assigned a title, based on the incipit that appears at the top of the poem; these titles do not appear in the Devonshire Manuscript itself.
Punctuation in the copy-text, although minimal, is retained. Most often, a virgule is the only punctuation used. In this present edition, half-virgules are not distinguished from full virgules. Carets (denoting a correction, often in superscript, inserted by a scribe) are included and inverse carets are marked with an editorial note. The type of script is assumed to be Tudor secretary, unless otherwise noted. The symbol that in the early Tudor secretary hand (which Petti calls a Tironian nota ‘et’ - see page 23) denotes "and" is here normalized as an ampersand. The transcription distinguishes between the individual scribe’s use of the letters "u" and "v," "i," and "j," and "vv" and "w." Unusual usages are noted; for instance the appearance of a majuscule "s" where miniscule is expected or the initial "s" in terminal position, etc. Ligatures, dropped "r," long "s," or situations in which lines are placed over words or letter combinations are not marked. Ink colour is not recorded, nor is the use of a pencil or charcoal.
Scribal marks or superscripted characters which indicate that letters have been omitted, or that are understood to be standard abbreviations for the time, as well as elided letters, wordforms, brevigraphs, and contractions are expanded and underlined in the text. Corresponding paleographic markers, which can be cross-referenced with the paleographic features, are provided in the right-hand margin of each page. As a placeholder until such time as entities to describe the forms of brevigraphs are designated or a full description is possible in Unicode, the Renaissance Electronic Text (RET) codes have been used to describe the abbreviation. They are robust, descriptive, based on scholarly evidence, and easily available and understood. It has been necessary to extend and adapt those codes, after due consideration of scribal preferences, consultation with respected authorities on early handwriting, and examination of the context in which a scribe uses a particular abbreviation. Scribes often use the same form to indicate one of several possible meanings; therefore, the expanded form is based on a study of the context. Following each poem, editorial notes further describe especially unusual scribal usages. All extant variants between witnesses have also been catalogued and listed in the notes following each poem.
British Library stamps are not recorded. The numbering system presumably applied by the library staff, which appears as a nineteenth century inked Arabic numeral on the upper right corner of the recto side of many leaves, is used. Another numbering system is visible in some places, but it is not recorded at this time. The British Library numbering system is used as the basis to identify each side of each leaf. The numbers for the verso side of each leaf are derived with reference to the recto designation. The library did not number leaves on which no writing appears. Therefore, in this present edition, a number was applied by reference to the number on the recto leaf preceding the unnumbered leaves.
Blank pages are noted with a decimal indicating their position relative to the last preceding folio bearing the British Library numerals. For example the four blank pages following folio 57 are marked 57.1r, 57.1v, 57.2r, and 57.2v.
Text which has been overwritten or rendered with a "cross-out" —a pen stroke or strokes that have been applied over text crosswise or slantwise— has been been struck through with a line in this edition. In the case of erasure, the deletion is marked by square brackets containing, if legible, the deleted text. Gaps in the text when the letters enter the spine of the book or are otherwise indecipherable are also marked by square brackets. When a line has been deleted or is a false start, the line is not given a line number. References to forms of the text found in contemporary witnesses follow each poem, with only the relevant poems included. In the case of significant difference between the Devonshire Manuscript and particular witnesses, the relevant line from the Devonshire Manuscript is reproduced. Capitalization, abbreviations, deletions, and annotations are recorded.
- Paul G. Remley, “Mary Shelton and Her Tudor Literary Milieu,” in Rethinking the Henrician Era: Essays on Early Tudor Texts and Contexts, ed. Peter C. Herman (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 40-77, at 48.
- Raymond Southall, The Courtly Maker: An Essay on the Poetry of Wyatt and His Contemporaries (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964), 15.
- C.-M. Briquet, Les filigranes: dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600. A facsimile of the 1907 edition with supplementary material contributed by a number of scholars, ed. Allan Stevenson. (Amsterdam : Paper Publications Society, 1968), 117.
- See Contributors to the Devonshire Manuscript for an overview of these interconnections.
- See David M. Head, “ ‘Beyng Ledde and Seduced by the Devyll’: The Attainder of Lord Thomas Howard and the Tudor Law of Treason,” Sixteenth Century Journal 13.4 (1982): 3-16, Kim Schutte, “ ‘Not for Matters of Treason, But for Love Matters’: Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, and Tudor Marriage Law,” in In Laudem Caroli: Renaissance and Reformation Studies for Charles G. Nauert, ed. James V. Mehl (Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 1998), 171-88, and B. J. Irish, “Gender and Politics in the Henrician Court: The Douglas-Howard Lyrics in the Devonshire Manuscript.” Renaissance Quarterly. 64.1 (2011): 79-114, 85
- This appears to be a recurring theme in Lady Margaret’s life: as Schutte notes, “she was imprisoned no less than five times for marriage-related crimes” (“ ‘Not for Matters of Treason,’” 171).
- On the origins and early history of D, see especially Richard Harrier, The Canon of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 23-54; Remley, “Mary Shelton,” 41, 47-48; and, Raymond Southall, “The Devonshire Manuscript Collection of Early Tudor Poetry, 1532–41,” RES, n.s., 15 (1964): 142-50, esp. 142-43. See also Helen Baron, “Mary (Howard) Fitzroy’s Hand in the Devonshire Manuscript,” RES n.s., 15.179 (1994): 318-35, esp. 324-29; and, Elizabeth Heale, “Women and the Courtly Love Lyric: The Devonshire MS (BL Additional 17492),” MLR 90 (1995): 296-313, esp. 297-301.
- Critiquing the "synchronic" (86) presentation of the material and intellectual content of manuscript miscellanies in many scholarly editions, Jonathan Gibson maintains that miscellanies are "texts in process [rather] than unified works of art" (86). He proposes that critical editions of manuscript miscellanies present a series of different versions of the manuscript that reflect its chronological development, as opposed to a "seriatim" copying of the manuscript in its current, supposedly complete state. See Jonathan Gibson, "Synchrony and Process: Editing Manuscript Miscellanies," Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 85-100.
- Ian Lancashire, Renaissance Electronic Texts: Encoding Guidelines (1997)
- Anthony G. Petti, English Literary Hands from Chaucer to Dryden (London: E. Arnold, 1977). Adriano Cappelli, Dizionario di Abbreviature Latine ed Italiane, 7th ed (1929; repr., Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1998).