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Manuscripts: Papyri, Medieval and Renaissance: Deeds & Rolls

Deeds, charters, rolls, other documents, and seals

  • The main series of charters and other documents belonging to the library are contained in the shelfmarks MSS. Ch. [Charters] and MSS. Rolls, with approximately 100 further items in MSS. Douce Ch. [Charters].
  • The numbers by which documents are calendared and cited in print (e.g. MS. Ch. Essex 612) differ from the shelfmarks of the volumes or boxes in which they are stored and fetched (e.g. MS. Ch. Essex a. 15); a concordance is kept at the Reserve Counter in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room.
  • Most of these charters are not currently catalogued online. A catalogue of medieval charters in the Bodleian is currently (March 2023) under development.
  • Items acquired prior to c. 1878 are calendared in Calendar of charters and rolls preserved in the Bodleian Library, by W.H. Turner and H.O. Coxe, (Oxford, 1878). An electronic copy of this book is available via the Internet Archive. The annotated copy in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room contains a large number of corrections. A digitized copy of the annotated volume (R.Ref.741) is available via SOLO.
  • MSS. Douce Ch. are also calendared in Catalogue of the printed books and manuscripts bequeathed by Francis Douce, Esq. to the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1840), pp. 70-74. A digitized copy is available at the Internet Archive.
  • Material acquired after c. 1878 is calendared on handwritten slips arranged by pre-1974 county and parish (SOLO) with separate indexes of personal and place names (SOLO). These slips and card indexes are also accessible in a microfiche edition published by Chadwyck-Healey in 1992, which also includes the annotated Turner & Coxe. The microfiche is available on the open shelves in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room. The slips (but not the indexes) have also been digitized and are currently (March 2023) being deposited in the Oxford Research Archive where they can be accessed as PDFs.
  • Selections from the card indexes were published as Index of persons in Oxfordshire deeds acquired by the Bodleian Library 1878-1963, Oxfordshire Record Society vol. 45, by W.O. Hassall, (1966). This covers deeds owned by the Bodleian, but not those on revocable deposit; it is continued in a separate card index.
  • Card indexes are also available of:
    • court rolls and other manorial documents arranged alphabetically by county and manor (Weston Library Gallery)
    • A select subject index of Bodleian charters (Weston Library Gallery)
  • Several of the Library's collections of Deposited Deeds (MSS. D.D.) also contain medieval material. The following collections may be mentioned in particular:
  • Unpublished catalogues or lists of these collections are available in the library.
  • Other collections including medieval deeds, charters, estate papers or similar material include:
  • Many Oxford Colleges also hold extensive medieval archives.


  • Many seals from Bodleian collections were detached from their charters and are now stored separately. If the catalogue entry for a charter refers to a seal, it may be ordered by affixing an asterisk to the shelfmark of the charter. For example, MS. Ch. Yorks. 314* is the seal from MS. Ch. Yorks. 314.
  • Alphabetical card indexes to the large parts seal collections are available in the Weston Library Gallery. These indexes also include references to the Library's collection of plaster casts of seals, which can be ordered by number. Although some of the card indexes contain very brief descriptions of the seals, the majority are index entries only.
  • Brief descriptions of a number of the seals are also available in an unpublished handlist. This can be consulted by special arrangement with library staff.
  • Some seals are only described in the handwritten "charter slips", described above.