English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (1469-1535): Sermons and Other Writings, 1520-1535

By John Fisher; Cecilia A. Hatt | Go to book overview

Appendix 2: A Prayer to God the Father, Written in the Tower of London

The following is a transcript of Public Record Office MS SP 1/ 93, fos. 99-102. It is written in Fisher's hand and consists of a folded sheet (fos. 99, 99v, 100) and two further separate pages (fos. 101, 102). The latter two pages contain an early draft of the prayer, heavily corrected, with many marginal alterations and interpolations. The folded sheet appears to be a fair copy, which incorporates the alterations made in the earlier draft, but stops short of the final section. This fair copy, however, also has alterations and some marginal notes to be included in the text, but has the appearance of being more swiftly copied than fos. 101 and 102, which, although full of crossings out and corrections, are very neatly written. Both drafts are torn and generally mutilated, especially fos. 101 and 102, which have substantial areas of text missing from the top and right-hand sides of the pages.

In Saint John Fisher, E. E. Reynolds prints a modernized transcript of the prayer, made by the Revd J. F. McMahon, which was also printed in The Month, (Feb. 1952) with an introduction by Dr David Rogers. It does not appear from the latter article that Fr. McMahon was at that time aware of the existence of a copy of this prayer in a Bodleian MS, and in the first edition of his biography, Reynolds does not mention it, but in his revised edition of 1972 (p. 261) he suggests a provenance for MS Bodl. Lat. Th. d. 15, known as the 'Parkyn manuscript', the commonplace book of Robert Parkyn, the curate of Adwick-le-Street in Yorkshire. In that MS (fos. 115r-116v) the prayer is attributed to Sir Thomas More, and is included with other prayers genuinely by him. It is likely that Fisher sent a fair copy to More, who gave it to his son John. John More and his wife, Anne Cresacre, had a house in Barnburgh, near Adwick, and may have given a copy to the curate, who assumed that like the other writings, it had been composed by John More's father. It is a valuable resource, because it was probably copied either from Fisher's original or a first-hand transcript of it, made by someone to whom it was a precious document. The MS is in good condition and offers some assistance in cases where the reading of the original is difficult.

In compiling the following text I have used Fisher's original, mainly the fair copy, fos. 99-100, which is described as Text B. After that text ends, and where the reading is doubtful, I have used the earlier draft, fos. 101-2, (Text A). In the few cases where one or more words are either illegible or missing and cannot be supplied from A or B, the Parkyn text has been used (Text C). The latter readings are italicized within square brackets, which indicate places where there is a gap in the MS.

-421-

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