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Adversaria. The Common-Place-Book, by Robert Courthope Sims

 Collection — Volume: 1
Call Number: MS B40


Commonplace book, or a volume created to compile knowledge, kept by Robert Courthope Sims of Essex, England.


  • Creation: approximately 1755-1769 or later


Language of Materials

English, Latin, a little Greek

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.


1 volume : Binding: Vellum with simple ruled frame. Bands (3) pass through hinge to exterior and re-enter. Foliation: leaves 1-100, pages 1-44, approximately 28 unnumbered but written on leaves. Reversed text on approximately 18 unnumbered but written on leaves. List of runes pinned to leaf 33. Ornamentation: Diagrams and sketches of microscopes, etc: leaves 4, 6, 7, 10, 20, 21, 23, 24 (flea), 25 (mite), 26, 29, 30, 38 (bandage). Drawing of pot leaf 33, of nasal anatomy in the unnumbered leaves. Some geometrical designs passim. Material: paper. ; Volume measures no taller than 20 cm.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the volume concerns medical matters: anatomy, dissection, symptoms, diseases, and prescriptions (approximately 110 leaves). Some items are attributed, some apparently original.

Around 26 leaves have varied notes drawn from his reading (mainly Chambers and Baddam's Abridgement of the Philosophical Transactions) regarding optics; directions on making apparatus (pantagraph, microscope, telescope, water lens, camera obscura, catoptric cistula, fountain pen); natural history; chemistry; anthropology; household receipts; comets; and geometry.

Four leaves contain directions for writing shorthand, and 12 leaves concern Quaker matters: Schedule of Essex General Meetings (1 leaf), extracts from the Militia Act relating to Quakers (1762?).

A list of names, occupations, and addresses in Dunmow, Stebbing, and 31 other villages in Essex, England appears on 12 leaves [possibly patients?]. There is also a drawing of Hogwood of Canterbury's inscribed wooden heirloom pot and the beginning of an Anglo-Saxon charter in Anglo-Saxon script.

Dating for the volume is based on Ellie's History of Corallines (1st edition 1755), mentioned on leaf 1. Additions to the commonplace book made from time to time: one on leaf 17 is dated 1769.

Authorship comes from the title-page: "Adversaria. The Common-Place-Book, by Rob:t Courthope Sims."

Physical Location

MS B40

Immediate Source of Acquisition


Guide to the Robert Courthope Sims Commonplace Book
Adversaria. The Common-Place-Book, by Robert Courthope Sims
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1973; revised by ksc, 2005. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Robert Courthope Sims Commonplace Book, Department of Special Collections, MS B40, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States