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Esther Inglis, "A Treatise of Preparation to the Holy Supper and of our only Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ", 1608 (dated)

Identifier: La.III.75

Scope and Contents

The manuscript contains a prose religious treatise, copied by Esther Inglis as a gift for Sir David Murray of Gorthy (1567-1629), her friend and companion to the Prince Henry. Sir David Murray was the recipient of three of Inglis’ manuscripts, with this being the first; the others are a Book of Psalms prepared in 1612 (now Wormsley Library, Oxfordshire, BM 1851), and a miniature illuminated manuscript of the "Quatrains of Guy du Faur" (now British Library, MS Harley 4324). The text itself was written by Esther Inglis’ husband, Bartholomew Kello, and is an English translation of a French text, a "Traitté de la préparation à la saincte Cène de Nostre seul Sauveur et Rédempteur" (1563) by Yves Rouspeau (1540-1601). Kello’s work follows two earlier English translations of the same text; a translation attributed to a ‘R.B’, was printed in 1578-1579, with a text close to Kello’s own translation. A further, anonymous English translation was published at Cambridge in 1584, entitled "Two treatises of the Lord his holie Supper". In her dedication to Sir David Murray, Esther Inglis suggests that a printed version of Kello’s translation will soon appear; she describes his work as "that the which he is myndit to dedicat to you in sign of his thankfulnes so sone as he shal cause print the same" (folio 3r). However, no printed translation of Kello’s "Treatise" is known. Instead, Esther Inglis’ manuscript is written and presented to reflect the appearance of a printed book, complete with marginal references, decorative printer’s fleurons, and scripts which imitate printed typeface. The title-page says that this book was written “By Bartholomew Kello Person of Willingale Spayne in the Countye, of Essex”. Although most of their life was spent in Edinburgh, Esther Inglis and Bartholomew Kello moved to London sometime before 1604, following the accession of James VI/I to the English throne. Between 1607 and 1614, Bartholomew was rector of the parish of Willingale Spain, a position which Sir David Murray was likely instrumental in securing. If this is the case, it may be that this manuscript was prepared by Bartholomew and Esther as an expression of sincere thanks for Murray’s assistance.

The text of Kello’s "Treatise" is divided into two parts. The first, spanning folios 4r to 24r in this manuscript, covers the central principles of the Protestant faith: its belief and its practices, the centrality of the ‘Holy Supper’ or ritual of communion, and the right ways to partake in it. The second text, at folios 25r to 35r, takes the form of a catechism, and is presented as questions from a father to a child on the nature of communion: on transubstantiation, on sin, faith and repentance.


Folio 1r: Title page
The full title, which occupies much of the written space on this folio, reads: A Treatise of preparation to the holy supper of our only saviour and redeemer Jesus Christ. Proper for all those who would worthely approch to the holy table of our Lord. Moreover a dialogue contenand the principal poynts which they who wold communicat should knowe and understand. Translated out of French in Inglishe for the benefite of all who truely love the Lord Jesus. By Bartholomew Kello Person of Willingale Spayne in the Countye, of Essex.
This is followed by a quotation from 1 Corinthians 11:28, "Let a man therefore examin himselve and so let let him eat of this bread and drinke of this Coupe."

Folios 2r-3v: Dedicatory epistle to Sir David Murray of Gorthy
Incipit: The temporall guifts of God (right honorable, and worthy to be honoured) bestowed upon man (if they be not sanctified) are given for there greater distruction
Explicit: his blessings spirituell and temporall to his glory and your everlasting confort. London this first of January 1608. Your most humble servand, ESTHER INGLIS.
Note: This epistle has been fully transcribed by David Laing; see Bibliography, below.

Folios 4r-24v
Incipit: PREFACE. To come worthilie to the holy Supper of our only Saviour and Lord IESUS CHRIST, we must try our selves, following the advertisement of the Apostle…
Explicit: right debarred from the sacred signes, by the which the faythfull ar conjoyned with Iesus Christ, and made possessours of everlasting lyfe. FINIS.
The treatise itself is divided into sections or "Articles", each with its own heading; these are:
"Of Fayth. Article .1" (fol. 4r)
"Of Repentance. Article .2." (fol. 8r)
"Of Thanksgeving. Article .3." (fol. 13r)
"Of Charitie. Article .4" (fol. 18r)
"Observations very necessarie to thois who would approch to the Table of the Lord IESUS. Article .5." (fol. 20r)
"Against thoise, who with knowledge and of deliberat purpose abstayne from the holy Supper of the Lord. Article .6." (fol. 21v)
"ANTITHESIS, OF THOSE WHO COME UNWORTHILIE TO THE HOlye Supper of the Lord, or who should not be admitted. Article .7" (fol. 22v)

Folios 25r-35r:
Incipit: The father of the familie. How should wee be prepared to cum worthily to the Supper of our Lord Iesus Christ?
Explicit: as we enjoy of the elements that he hath ordayned for one infallible witnesse of the lyf euerlasting, in the same his beloued Sonne our Lord Ies[us] Christ Amen. The child. Amen. THE END.


All the scripts used in this manuscript seem to imitate the visual aspect of a printed book.

The title-page and other headings are written in Roman majuscules, which decrease in size across successive lines. The title-page also includes writing in italic majuscules and Roman minuscule (otherwise termed "droicte").

The epistle to Sir David Murray is written in a fine Roman minuscule which closely resembles the appearance of a printed text. Quotations within the text of the epistle are written in very small Roman majuscule letters, for which the overall height is equal to the minim height of surrounding Roman minuscules.

The script of the main text, spanning folios 4r to 35r, is a neat italic with curved ascenders and descenders, with slightly filled terminals. This script is Inglis’ most widely-used variation of italic. Within the main text, headings and the opening words of each new ‘Article’ are written in a larger, weighted Roman minuscule. Commentary, scriptural references, and subheadings are written in the surrounding margins in a very small Roman minuscule.


The only decorative elements are the addition of printers fleurons within the text, on folios 4r and 8r. Inglis uses the same upright style of "quatrefoil" in her copy of David Hume’s "Vincula Unionis" (MS La.III.249).


  • Creation: 1608 (dated)


Language of Materials

English, occasional quotation in Latin.

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details

Biographical / Historical

Esther Inglis (c.1570-1624) was a Franco-Scottish Huguenot calligrapher, writer, and artist, associated with the court of King James VI/I. She was the daughter of French parents, Nicolas Langlois and Marie Presot, who emigrated as refugees from Dieppe to Britain to escape religious persecution, and settled in Edinburgh. Esther Inglis was a prolific and exceptionally skilled scribe; a corpus of over 62 manuscripts survives worldwide, and she many of these books were produced as gifts to be presented to prospective patrons. Although many of her manuscripts were made in Edinburgh, La.III.75 was produced during the years that Esther Inglis and her husband, Bartholomew Kello, lived in England. Following the accession of James VI/I to the English throne in 1693, Esther and Bartholomew relocated to London, and between 1607 and 1614, Bartholomew Kello was a rector in the parish of Willingale Spain, Essex. They had returned to Edinburgh by August 1615, where Esther Inglis was to spend the rest of her life.


1 bound MS volume : 38 folios.

Custodial History

Written for Sir David Murray of Gorthy (1567-1629).

Provenance markings in an eighteenth-century hand on folio 2r read "Mr Rob: Wonram his book". Smaller provenance marks in the same hand, appearing either as "WN" or "W", appear throughout the folios. This hand also copies the printer’s fleuron included on folio 8r. A further, larger inscription is written on the reverse of folio 35r, although this has now been pasted to a flyleaf. From the bleed-through, it appears to be the same handwriting as Wonram. The manuscript was later owned by David Laing and was given to the University in 1878 as a part of the Laing Bequest.

Previous title

Title previously used in the finding aid: "Treatise on 'Preparition to the Holy Supper,' with a cate-chism for intending communicants, translated from the French by Bartholomew Kello, parson of Willingale Spayne, in the county of Essex. Dedicated to 'the Right Honble. Sir David Murray, Kt gent of"


- Hilary Brown, Women and Early Modern Cultures of Translation: Beyond the Female Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022), pp. 60-61.
- Sarah Gwyneth-Ross, The Birth of Feminism : Woman As Intellect in Renaissance Italy and England (Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 260.
- Kirsten Inglis, Gifting Translation in Early Modern England: Women Writers and the Politics of Authorship, Gendering the Late Medieval and Early Modern World (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2023), xxi, p. 168.
- David Laing, 'Notes Relating to Mrs Esther (Langlois or) Inglis, the Celebrated Calligraphist, with an Enumeration of Manuscript Volumes Written by Her between the Years 1586 and 1624', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 6.2 (1868), 284–314, pp. 298-299.
- A. H. Scott-Elliot and Elspeth Yeo, ‘Calligraphic Manuscripts of Esther Inglis (1571-1624): A Catalogue’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 84.1 (1990), 10–86, p. 63.
- Georgianna Ziegler, ‘“More than Feminine Boldness”: The Gift Books of Esther Inglis’, in Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain, ed. by Mary Burke (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2000), pp. 19–37, p. 26.

Physical Facet

Material: Paper

Layout: Margins are ruled in brown on each folio; there is a double-ruled margin at the top of the written space, and wider margins are ruled to the left and right of the written space, for the inclusion of running commentary and scriptural references. Guidelines for writing appear as rows of very small dots; this is visible, for example, on folio 7r. Within the main text, individual words frequently run from one line to the next, to maintain the full justification of the text block within the margins. No colour.

Binding: Scott-Elliot and Yeo describe this binding as ‘Dark brown calf with large gold centre ornament and border fillets, blind and gold’. The covers are original, although the manuscript has been rebound. The front board is now detached.

Foliation: Folio numbers have been added to this manuscript by a later hand; the manuscript is now foliated as i+1-35+ii.

Collation: A leaf has been cut out between 21v and 22r.


Binding: 180 x 150 mm

Folio: 180 x 140 mm

Written space (inner margins): 120 x 80 mm

Processing Information

Catalogued by Anna-Nadine Pike in December 2023, with reference to research compiled by Jamie Reid-Baxter.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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