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Mus. 337

Francis Withy's commonplace book. Printed, with an extensive supplement of manuscript additions; English, 1667-mid 1690s. The collection is built around a copy of the following publication, which is bound at the front of the volume:

Mus. 337
Simpson, Christopher, ca. 1602-1669 Grove DNB
A compendium of practical musick in five parts: teaching, by a new, and easie method, 1. The rudiments of song. 2. The principles of composition. 3. The Use of Discords. 4. The form of figurate descant. 5. The contrivance of canon. By Christopher Simpson.
London: Printed by William Godbid for Henry Brome, 1667
RISM B/VI/2 p. 784

This is preceded by an annotated stub and two annotated flyleaves, and followed by a textblock of 95 surviving folios (=190 pages), of which 116 have been used by Francis Withy (c. 1645-1727) as a musical commonplace book, largely for recording rudiments, cadence formulae, rules for canons, and other miscellaneous musical information. The composite nature of Mus. 337 (i.e. a printed book bound with an extensive textblock for manuscript additions) was probably conceived by John Withy (c. 1600-1685), whose name is written on ff. 1r and 2r of the textblock. However, no further material in John Withy's hand has been identified in Mus. 337, and it was used instead solely by his son Francis. (For a list of other music manuscripts at Christ Church copied by Francis Withy, see below.)

The textblock of 95 folios at the rear of Mus. 337 has never been paginated or foliated. Moreover, the important discussion of Withy's manuscript additions by Robert Thompson (see Bibliography below) cites pages using a number-system that refers only to pages actually used by Withy; thus Thompson's 'p. [104]' refers to the 104th page annotated by Withy, not the 104th page of the textblock. (The standard microfilm of Mus. 337 also reproduces only the pages used by Withy.) The situation may be clarified by the following concordance:

ff. 1r-18v = microfilm/Thompson pp. [1-36]
ff. 19r-20r unused
ff. 20v-46r = microfilm/Thompson pp. [37-88]
ff. 46v-47r unused
ff. 47v-50r = microfilm/Thompson pp. [89-95]
ff. 51r-84v unused
f. 85r = microfilm/Thompson p. [96]
f. 85v unused
ff. 86r-95v = microfilm/Thompson pp. [97-116]
Collation of the rear textblock: not fully researched on account of the tightness of the binding, but apparently 12 gatherings each of 4 bifolios (= A8, B8, etc.), of which leaf A4 has been excised.

Upright format, 163 x 105 mm. Late 17th-century binding of dark brown leather over boards; upper and lower covers blind-tooled with fillets, small ornaments, and the initials 'F W' (= Francis Withy). Bookplate 2. 19th-century shelfmark: I.4.49.

Subsequent provenance: possibly from the Goodson bequest. The earliest reference to Mus. 337 in the 18th-century catalogues of the Christ Church music collections is in Malchair, which refers to it (at f. 14) as 'A Compendium of practical Music Simpson / London 1667 with this book are bound up Manuscript directions for Composing'. A copy of Simpson's treatise is known to have reached Christ Church as part of the Aldrich bequest, but the entry for it in Archives 1717 (item F6) makes no mention of manuscript additions, and Aldrich died before Withy; it is therefore likely that Aldrich's copy of Simpson is now probably missing. (It is not the copy of the 4th edition of 1706 now at shelfmark Os.3.30.)

Microfilm: The printed music of Christ Church, Oxford, reel 16.
View microfilm details.


  • Robert Thompson, '"Francis Withie of Oxon" and his Commonplace Book, Christ Church, Oxford, MS 337', Chelys 20 (1991), pp. 3-27. Find in a Library
  • Robert Thompson, 'Some Late Sources of Music by John Jenkins', John Jenkins and his Time: Studies in English Consort Music, ed. Andrew Ashbee and Peter Holman (Oxford, 1996), pp. 284-5. Find in a Library
In addition to Mus. 337, the following music manuscripts at Christ Church were copied by Francis Withy:
  • Possibly Mus. 5, items 5-8: harp consorts by William Lawes, and instrumental works by John Coprario.
  • Mus. 7, Layer 1, ff. 1-76r: motets by Bonifazio Graziani.
  • Mus. 8, Layers 1-4: instrumental works by Christopher Gibbons and Matthew Locke, and motets largely by Giovanni Rovetta.
  • Mus. 49 (pp. 48-65): motets by Giovanni Felice Sances, copied collaboratively with Edward Lowe.
  • Mus. 49 (pp. 152-91): motets by Giovanni Felice Sances, copied collaboratively with Edward Lowe.
  • Mus. 409-10: Matthew Locke, suites 'For Several Friends'.
  • Mus. 1002, item 18: untexted vocal work a8.
  • Possibly parts of Mus. 1183.
  • Contributed to Mus. 1220-4.
  • Mus. 1246, item 66 only.