I have recently read and reviewed Kathryn A. Smith, The Taymouth Hours: Stories and the Construction of Self in Late Medieval England
(The British Library: London, 2012).
I have often argued that the post-medieval and even modern provenance of medieval manuscripts can provide valuable clues to their medieval origins and owners, and the Taymouth Hours may be a case in point. I will consider the manuscript's provenance in two parts: here considering its post-medieval homes, working backwards from the present, and then its origin patron in a subsequent post.
The manuscript was bequeathed to the British Museum by the widow of Henry Yates Thompson in 1941. It had escaped being sold in the three Yates Thompson auctions of 1919-1921 because Yates Thompson had given it to her a few years earlier: in 1917 he inscribed its flyleaf as follows:
"This volume, one of the
choicest of my English MS.S.
I gave to my dear wife on her
birthday Jan[uar]y 10th 1917 to
mitigate her grief at the
news that I intended to sell
my collection of 100 illumi-
The first flyleaf has Yates Thompson's bookplate annotated, as usual, with the acquisition details:
"57": the number of the MS in Thompson's collection,
"nee.e.e": the price he paid, using his price-code "bryanstole", i.e. "£500 0s. 0d."
"Earl of Ashburnham May 1897": the source and date of acquisition.