Robert Ashley and the Authorship of Newberry MS 5017, The Book of Magical Charms
- Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 6, Number 2, Fall 2021
- pp. 268-299
- Additional Information
This article examines Newberry MS 5017, the Book of Magical Charms, a manuscript miscellany dated no later than 1639. The manuscript formed part of the Newberry Library's crowd-sourcing project to transcribe and translate three of the manuscripts in their exhibition, Religious Change 1450-1700. This article establishes Robert Ashley (1565-1641) as the manuscript's author. Ashley was a lawyer, translator and bibliophile whose bequest of over 5,000 books established the library at Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. The article analyses the manuscript's charms, ritual magic, medical recipes and Christian esotericism excerpts to show that they were mainly transcribed from identifiable manuscript sources, with some from printed books. The author draws conclusions, based on Ashley's Ashley’s life, translations and book collection, about the manuscript's purpose and use, situating it within Ashley's library and the information gathering networks centered around the Inns of Court in the early modern period.