Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2012

Adv. MS 18.2.11


Mackechnie, p.1.

17th cent. Paper. 201 ff. folio, 29 x 19.5 cms. “Pot” watermark (two varieties). The main text, the Lilium Medicinae, was written about October 1621 (f.102v.) at Duart (34v., 39r.) for Eoin (39v.), presumably John Beaton of the Pennycross family (1594-1657), father of Rev john. Also in this manuscript is the only extant piece of sustained medical writing in Rev John’s hand.

Fluctuates between single and double coloumns.


1. Chief text-hand. Appears to identify itself so “Ed: Bar” (2r), “E:B:” (41r). A good functional hand, well-rounded when formal, becoming smaller with use, always distinguishable by its “g”; generally cites Latin in an accomplished italic script. Strong similarities to chief hand of BL MS. Harley 4347 (Brian).

2. Text, ff.13-33. A dashing, angular version of the chief hand of MS.2076. Its main characteristic here is its angular “g”, which is like James Beaton’s and is an occasional feature in MS.2076 also. The two styles intermix in RIA MS. 23 G 14 (441). All three manuscripts contain the Lilium Medicinae.

3. Relieves hand 1 temporarily at ff.10v, 17, 58, 95-6, 99, 102, 128 and 132. Contains features of hands 1 and 5, with a barbarous “g”.

4. Text, f.73v.a (part). Hand of MS.2076, f.201 etc. A rough hand similar to that of Niall Mac Iomhair, Adv.MS.73.1.22.

5. Notes, ff.25r, 27r&v, 67r, 68r&v, 81r, 91v, 92r&v, 108v, 109r, 117v; text, ff.107v.b-204r. Rev John Beaton (c.1640-1715). As frequently elsewhere, he uses his Gaelic script for English, Latin and Gaelic alike. It is crude and laboured, with a distinctive tall “s”, and unruled.

From Rev John the manuscript passed, directly or indirectly, to another celebrated Episcopalian, the Edinburgh bookseller Robert Freebairn. Freebairn, for whom see SHR 15 (January 1918), p.106, was a native of Perthshire whose father became Bishop of Edinburgh. He was involved in a legal wrangle in which judgement was given on 20 January 1736 that he owed £1,200. Two months later, 18 March, the records of the Advocates’ Library (Keeper, Thomas Ruddiman, another Jacobite) show the purchase from Freebairn of a quantity of printed books and four manuscripts (F.R. 118). The manuscripts were: Adv.MS.18.2.7 (12th cent. version of St Augustine’s De Trinitate); the present one; Adv.MS.72.1.3 (another of Rev John’s); and Adv.MS.72.1.4 (also a Beaton item). Freebairn received £2.2.0 for the four. It is known that after the judgement he was obliged to dispose of his remaining stock at a disadvantage, and it seems likely that these manuscripts, all outstanding items, were from his personal collection.

“Lib. Bibl. Fac. Iur. Edin.” is inscribed at f.1r. In or after 1823 (watermark on flyleaves) the manuscript was bound in diced Russia tooled gilt, inscribed “Hippocratis Aphorismi Hibernice” on the spine. Having suffered no vicissitudes, it is in superb condition. Traces of damp are slight, and the only pages soiled from exposure are ff.1r and 171v. There is a tear at f.63. F.f.1-170 were foliated, a little carelessly, by hand 1, and the rest was paginated very carelessly by Rev John as follows: 171-6, 178-208, 109-38. Ff.43-5 were cut out, leaving a lacuna in the text. Two unnumbered leaves have now been made “a”, and the paginated section has been foliated instead. The resulting foliation is 1-32, 32a, 33-42, 46-75, 78-123, 123a, 124-204. Paginations are added below in brackets for reference.


1r.a1 (Hands 1-4). Bernard of Gordon’s LILIUM MEDICINAE, parts 2-7. Beg. Tionnsgantar in .2. pairtigeal ann so neoch tráchtus d’ uile easlaintiph na hincinni conuige na suile. Lacuna in part 3 due to excision of ff.43-5. Ends 137v “ar ttús na ar a n-adhaigh. Finis. Finit”. Cf.MS.2076. Notes and marginalia by hand 1: “Ed: Bar” (2r); “S.G.” (9v, 47r, 118r); “A Dhé foir orm” (11r); “nf bec sin anocht a nDuphard” (34v); “Fúar anocht Dupháird” (39r); “gurab slan d’fer an lephuir so .i. Eóin” (39v z); “E.B.” (41r); ?”that” (47r); “HIS MAIRIA (55v); “Sum tuirseach ar da cúis” (65r); “ní bec sin anocht” (72r); “ata sin mar sin” (82r); “Jesus Maria Deo” (83v.a z); “Jesus” (85r); “misi mé féin” (87v); “therfore to” (89r); “olc a fulang a mhná” (91r); “Tairnig ann sin an .5. p airtigeal maille re grasaibh7 tinnsgantar an. Pairtigeal. 1621 xx6. octobris 1621” (102v); “Sum currtha” (105v); “A mhic mhoir mhiorbhuiligh Mhuire dén trocaire orum” (135r.a z); “Sum tuirseach anocht” (136v.b z). There are also numerous marginal notes by hands 1 and 5 relating more closely to the text (“ní tuigim”, 10r, hand 1). At f.102v hand 5 writes “26 octob. 1621”. Ff.120v, 138-9 blank.

140r.a1 (Hand 1). On APHORISMS of Hippocrates, cf.Adv.MS.72.1.10, f.1r.a37. Beg. Utero gerentes sunt medicande &ca. .i. o do labhair Ip ocras. Last section begins 170v.a6 Sia fibre habito tumour non existente. Ends “as mar sin leighestar an escoid darap ainm sginanncia maille re grádhsaibh Dé 7 na healadhna. Finis. Finit. Amen. Finit” = Adv.MS.72.1.11, f.4r.a34. Represents book 4, no.1 – book 7, no.60. Also covered by Adv.MS.72.2.10, pp.1-56 (abridged version) and in parts by Adv.MS.72.1.21 and 72.1.11. Marginalia by hand 1: ?”then” (144r); “S.G.” (148v, 153v, 159r); “Emanuel” (159v).

170v.b1 (Hand 5 begins). Treatment for sterility, in Latin. Beg. Magna est uxoratis perturbation. Headed “Contra Sterilitatem”. Ends “ex Democrito”. Rest of column blank. There follows a series of cures for various conditions, including sterility, with the method of frightening wolves (“A chur aegil ar na Madruib alligh .i. ealdib no fíaghánta”, 171v6). The first cure is headed “Diamharacht no secret a leighiseas atta”. Those at 171r(171) are in Gaelic, those at 171v(172) mostly in Latin. F.171v is badly soiled, indicating that it was once an outside leaf. Questions of conception and sterility are taken up exclusively from 171v i, in Latin only. From 174r(178) there is a running title “Contra Sterilitatem. Cap. 1”, indicating that at some point a treatise on OBSTETRICS is considered to have begun. This has sixteen chapters, of which nos.4-6 are in English and the rest in Latin, as below. It is full of receipts and practical remedies, and is the work of a practising physician probably Rev John Beaton himself, for among the innumerable authorities of all periods cited, with references, is his contemporary Harvey (f.190). Cf.Adv.MS.72.1.2, f.145v.

26     Cap. 2. “De Suppressionem Mensium”.

4     Cap. 3. “De immoderato Fluxu Menstruum”.

38     Cap. 4. “Contra inordinate Flouing of te Munths”.

38     Cap. 5. “Ane parlouser method serving for the cure of the suppression of the Moneths”.

22     Cap. 6. “Suffocatio. Contra Stopping of the Matrix or Mother”.

25     Cap. 7. “De Morbis acutis chronicis Praegnantium”.

3     Cap. 8. “De Torminibus a Partu .i. ar gharrach 7 ar dhochoruibh eile a ndiaigh seola”.

3     Cap. 9. “De Morbis acutis Puerperarum: easlaintin gáera na mban saeola”.

19     Cap. 10. Abortu”.

26     Cap. 11. “De Suppressione Lochiorum”.

3     Cap. 12. “De Fluore Muliebri”.

13     Cap. 13. “De Furore Uterino”.

18     Cap. 14. “De Histerica Passione no do thecht a mach na Macluigh, néaltin 7 paissionnigh”.

201v(21) Cap. 15. “De Uteri Inflamatione”.

39     Cap. 16. “De Ulcere Uteri”. 204v blank.

© Ronald Black, 2011