A ‘very curious Almanack’: the gift of Sir Robert Moray FRS, 1668
By Pamela Robinson
Notes and Records of the Royal Society, Vol. 62:3 (2008)
Introduction: In 1667, only seven years after its foundation, the Royal Society of London acquired the Arundel Library, the gift of Henry Howard, later 6th Duke of Norfolk. This collection originally contained both manuscripts and printed books, but in 1830–32 the Society parted with the Arundel manuscripts,1although it retained five medieval volumes, given by other donors, and shortly afterwards acquired a sixth, the gift of James Orchard Halliwell FRS, who compiled a catalogue of the Society’s manuscripts in 1840.2 They are (in the order in which they were acquired): MS 45, a small folded almanac dating from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century and given in 1668 by Sir Robert Moray, one of the Society’s founding fellows; MS 17, a fifteenth-century copy of Orosius, Historia adversus paganos, given in 1681 by a Mr Thomas Norris of Westminster;3 MS 24, an early-thirteenth-century copy of Statius, Thebais, given in 1692/3 by Nathaniel Vincent FRS;4 MSS 15 and 28, which originally formed a single late-thirteenth-century compilation containing works of arithmetic and geometry, given by Peter Le Neve FRS in 1718;5 and MS 47, Halliwell’s own donation, a late-twelfth-century or early-thirteenth-century treatise on arithmetic. The most intriguing of these manuscripts is MS 45, the almanac.