Local Treasures – Peter Browne of Corke

Catalogue of Books belonging to Peter Browne of Corke

Day Shift – 15/02/2011 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

University of Newcastle Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the provenance trail of two interesting manuscripts belonging to Peter Browne (c.1665-1735) Bishop of Cork.

Broadcast Notes:

The following scans are from two manuscripts in our Collection that have always intrigued us. Both belonged to a one time Bishop of Cork and Ross, Ireland, Peter Browne who was born c.1665 and died on 25th August 1735. The first is Bishop Browne’s Library Catalogue.






[Manuscript] Catalogue of Books belong to Peter Browne of Corke (26.1 MB PDF File)


MS Arian Part II

The University of Newcastle’s MS ‘Arian Part II’ was the subject of Appendix 3 in Arthur Robert Winnett’s biography of  Browne entitled ‘Peter Browne Provost, Bishop, Metaphysician‘ (London: S.P.C.K., 1974).



The Manuscript bears the bookplates and notes of its subsequent owners. The first was Bishop Peter Browne, who was its probable author.

After Bishop Browne’s death in 1735 it passed into the custody of his relation, the Rev. Jemmett Browne of Riverstown, entered into his library, and there remained until Tuesday January 5th 1875.

On that date Dr Richard Caulfield, an antiquarian and librarian who was the first President of the of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society records in the Manuscript that it was given to him by Captain Edward Francis Browne (b.1835) of the 35th Regiment ‘in his library at Riverstown’. He was the son of the Rev. John Browne (1795-1857).

At the same time Dr Caulfield received Bishop Browne’s MS Book of Prayers (or devotions) and MS Hebrew “Book of Common Prayer”. Winnett says that both manuscripts are at held St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork.

After Dr Caulfield’s death in 1877, despite attempts to keep it together as a wonderful foundation for Cork Archive, his personal library was eventually sold at auction in 1888.

The manuscript probably passed into the hands of his colleague and friend, Robert Day, as early as 1885. Three of Robert Day’s bookplates adorn the Manuscript, as well as his seal and heraldic emblem Sic itur ad astra (from Virgil’s Aeneid Book 9.641 ‘thus we ascend to the stars’) embossed on its front.





Thanks to J. P. McCarthy’s article “Dr. Richard Caulfield: Antiquarian, Scholar and Academic Librarian” we learn that Robert Day’s manuscripts were sold in 1915, and it was there that the manuscript passed into the hands of Dean Webster.

Winnett dates the manuscript to the end of Browne’s life sometime between the years 1732 – 1735, and conjectures that it may have been written prior to attempting to write Part 1, which at the time of writing had yet to be found. Winnett says the  manuscript appears to be an un-published work in Browne’s hand, with corrections and interpolations in another hand.

This is at odds with a mysterious typed note within the manuscript apparently by the last owner just prior to its arrival at the University of Newcastle. We do not know who deposited the work here, but it might have been someone in the early University with a Trinity College connection, probably our first Vice Chancellor Professor J. J. Auchmuty, or even the late Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner, who may have been responsible for the typescript. Winnett, while acknowledging the University does not mention any individuals with regards to the Manuscript in particular, except for a Professor A.A. Luce of Trinity College, from whom he sought advice on it.



The manuscript’s last mysterious owner records:

(Browne, Bp Peter) MS
Early Eighteenth or late Seventeenth century. Given me by Dean Webster, late Dean of Ross, December 1st 1941. Chapters 11-17 of a work on the Holy Trinity. Webster says it is not in Browne’s hand, but contains interpolations by him. The refce to ideas and analogy look like B’s work; and the 2 chapters on the Blind Man typical of the age.


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