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Convent AutobiographyEarly Modern English Nuns in Exile$

Victoria Van Hyning

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266571

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266571.001.0001

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(p.xxi) Transcription, Naming, and Dating Conventions, and Permissions

(p.xxi) Transcription, Naming, and Dating Conventions, and Permissions

Convent Autobiography

Victoria Van Hyning

British Academy

Manuscripts quoted herein are rendered as readable as possible. Contractions have been silently expanded: wch, wn, wt, wth, ye, ym, yr, yt and yu to which, when, what, with, the, them, your, that and you. Several convent-specific terms that frequently recur in the manuscripts have also been silently expanded. These include Sr to Sister (as in a nun), Rev and Rvrnc to Reverence, Rvnd to Reverend, Fr to Father, H: to Holy or Holiness. Original spelling, capitalization and punctuation have been retained except for i/j and u/v, which have been regularized throughout. Deletions and tears are marked with strikethrough and {tear} as appropriate. Words added over or under the line are indicated with ^ ^. Missing words are supplied in square brackets. [Sic] is used to indicate that unusual spellings are as they appear in the text. Page, folio and margin boundaries (for instance when a letter-writer uses the margin of their writing paper) are marked with /#/, /fol.#/ and / m./. Where there are quotations in the main body of the book, unnumbered pages are indicated by /u./ (within the quotation), but are cited as ‘p. unnumbered’ in the footnotes. […] indicates text that I have cut out, whereas non-bracketed ellipses are as they appear in the original. Italics that have been added for emphasis are indicated in the notes. Otherwise any italics and underlined passages are as they appear in the original. Catchwords are transcribed on the page where they first appear.

The manuscript traditions of the chronicles of St Monica’s and Nazareth are worth explaining in some detail, but first a note on terminology. I use the term ‘chronicle’ to describe documents that are alternatively called chronicles, annals, records, and histories. It (p.xxii) seems that the nuns of the exile period and later cataloguers used the terms interchangeably, and while there may be generic differences observed in some fields of historical and literary study, I can detect no self-conscious deployment of these terms by the nuns themselves, so have chosen ‘chronicle(s)’ as a convenient shorthand.

The key witnesses to the ‘Chronicle of St Monica’s’ are housed in Berkshire, Douai Abbey Archive, Box W.M.L.C. The earliest is a seventeenth-century volume that appears to be a clean copy of a now lost original. MS C2 bears nineteenth- and twentieth-century interventions such as marginalia and excised pages, with new passages pasted in. The core narrative was composed sometime between 1630 and 1659, and covers events from the death of Sir Thomas More and the Dissolution, through to the convent’s fifty-year jubilee celebration. A set of five volumes catalogued as MSS C15–19 were described by an earlier cataloguer as the ‘Little Chronicles’ and will be referred to in this way hereafter. These volumes contain materials that are absent in MS C2, and appear to have been created at a later stage, containing some eighteenth-century entries in the same hand as the earliest volumes.

Three exile period manuscripts of the ‘Chronicles of Nazareth’ survive. Bruges, Nazareth, MS ‘CX Annals, vol. 1: 1629–1729’ (hereafter MS ‘CN, 1629–1729’) is an eighteenth-century copy of the now lost original. It was made by Anne Weston whose manuscripts were all written with an iron-rich ink, probably of her own making, to produce a dark, bold easy-to-read script. In the case of MS ‘CN, 1629–1729’ the iron content is too high and the text has oxidized: each side of every leaf is eating its way through to the other, making it almost entirely unreadable. Therefore, I have used an early twentieth-century transcript made by a Nazareth nun, hereafter TS ‘CN, 1629–1729’. Her principles of transcription were as follows: to preserve ye, yr, yt, yu, wch, wn, wt, wth, original spelling and punctuation and the use of capitals. I have silently expanded these brevigraphs in keeping with the conventions used elsewhere in the present volume. The transcriber notes that there is no entry for the year 1641, that the manuscript jumps from page 165 to 168 and that a hole in pages 339–40 has obscured words that she supplies in italics; finally, there are two page 396s. This transcriber uses ‘f’ to designate (p.xxiii) ‘folios’ but the manuscript is paginated, not foliated; I therefore give page numbers in quotations between forward slashes, e.g. /7/ and in footnotes just as numbers. These page references refer to the eighteenth-century manuscript and not to the typescript. The second and third exilic chronicle volumes are Bruges, Nazareth, MS CX ‘Annals, Vol. 2: 1729–1793’ (hereafter MS ‘CN, 1729–1793’) and MS CX, ‘Annals, Vol 3: 1794–1818’ (Nazareth, MS ‘CN, 1794–1818’). I am indebted to Pascal Majerus who shared his electronic transcripts of the ‘Chronicles of Nazareth’ with me. I have checked all quotations against the typescript and manuscripts. As the manuscript of my book neared its final stages, Caroline Bowden published an edition of the ‘Chronicles of Nazareth’; I also give page references to her volume, but all transcriptions herein are my own. For ease of reference I follow the editors Adam Hamilton and Alphonse Lambert (his silent partner in the printed edition of CSM) and Bowden in their naming conventions, thus ‘The Chronicle of St Monica’s’ and ‘Chronicles of Nazareth’.1 Previous publications including some of my own and Bowden’s have referred to these as the ‘Louvain Chronicle’ and ‘Bruges Chronicle’.

The naming formula and unique alphanumeric identifiers developed for the Who Were the Nuns? Project database are used to identify each named nun. Each subject is referred to by her name, her name in religion, followed by her dates of birth and death (or profession (p.xxiv) and death if her birth is unknown), and her unique code, e.g. Mary Thimelby, in religion Winefrid (1618–1690; LA261). The letters in the WWTN? code denote the city and convent where the nun professed, thus LA means Louvain Augustinians. The only exception is for nuns who first professed at Flemish or French convents, e.g. St Ursula’s in Louvain, before transferring to an English house. The numbers reflect the alphabetical order of a nun’s surname in the list of all those who professed at her convent during the exile period. Nuns who professed at one convent and later transferred to another house are identified with the convent where they first professed. In several instances nuns continued to use their given names rather than their names in religion. In those cases I refer to them as they refer to themselves in their own writing.

All dates for named individuals—other than the English nuns and monks in WWTN? and MiM—are taken from the ODNB unless otherwise stated. Individual ODNB articles are cited in the bibliography.

All photographs reproduced in the book are my own and are presented with the permission of the nuns of Nazareth (Bruges) and Dove Cottage (Kingston-near-Lewis), Abbot Geoffrey Scott of Douai Abbey (Midgham), and Gerritt vanden Bosch (Archdiocesan Archives, Mechelen). Jens Coppens created the cover image on a visit to Nazareth in December 2014. Reproduced with permission.


(1) For discussion of Hamilton and Lambert’s collaboration see V. Van Hyning, ‘Naming Names: Chroniclers, Scribes and Editors of St Monica’s Convent, Louvain, 1630–1906’, ECIE: CCI, 87–108. Here I explore how Lambert’s extensive work made possible the publication of ‘The Chronicle of St Monica’s’ in two forms: first a periodical publication of parts of the chronicle as ‘Records of the English Canonesses Regular of St Augustin’, Poor Souls Friend and St Joseph’s Monitor, published monthly between April 1901 (X/2) and November 1908 (XVI/9), followed by a more detailed and heavily researched book format: The Chronicle of the English Augustinian Canonesses Regular of the Lateran, at St. Monica’s in Louvain (now at St. Augustine’s Priory, Newton Abbot, Devon) 1548–1644, eds A. Hamilton [and A. Lambert], 2 vols (Edinburgh and London: Sands & Co., 1904–1906), I: 1548–1625, II: 1625–1644, hereafter CSM; and The Chronicles of Nazareth (The English Convent), Bruges 1629–1793, ed. C. Bowden, CRS 87 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017), hereafter CN.