The collection was assembled by William Parkhurst in the first decades of the seventeenth century, and later passed into the hands of the Finch family, at whose seat of Burley-on-the-Hill it was examined in the nineteenth century by Alfred J Horwood of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, and in the early twentieth by the scholar Logan Pearsall Smith, who caused transcripts to be made of some of the material. These were used by later scholars, the manuscript itself being believed to have been destroyed by fire. The circumstances of this fire, and of the manuscript’s mysterious survival and subsequent discovery by I A Shapiro are described, as are its disappearance once again and rediscovery by Peter Beal. The survival was still not widely publicised and, until now, no detailed study of the Burley manuscript has been published.
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