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Early medical notes   [1650s?]

Location:   Bodleian Library, MS. Locke e. 4.

Description:   Miscellaneous medical notes, including prescriptions, some from Locke’s family and neighbours in Somerset; Other prescriptions date from his early years at Oxford and are attributed to Richard Lower (pages 16, 24-25, 136) and John Bathurst (page 141). Later notes reflect Locke’s reading of works from the Oxford medical curriculum.

Inside the front cover is the date[?] “52”; the first page is inscribed “Farrago | John Locke | [paraph] | Agnis Locke” (presumably Locke’s mother Agnes); the date “Feb. 6, 1654/5” appears on page 144. However, most of the material dates from 1657 or later, and probably records Locke’s initial explorations in medicine. The earliest parts are on pages 1-25 and pages 165-158 rev. (beginning from the back of the notebook).


  1. [selections:] “An Oxford medical student’s notebook, 1652-1659” / Kenneth Dewhurst. // IN: Oxford Medical School gazette. – 11 (1959):141-145. – Dewhurst’s dates are not reliable.

Discussions:   Dewhurst, publication #1 above.

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Fragment from a laboratory notebook by George Starkey   [ca. January-April 1651]

Location:   Bodleian Library, MS. Locke c. 29, ff. 115-118.

Description:   Alchemical laboratory notes in the hand of George Starkey, with some insertions and translations by Robert Boyle. The manuscript once formed part of a bound notebook (the folds and stich holes are visible). Some of the notes were made while the notebook was still bound, but others were written later, using the unfolded sheets turned 90°. Locke acquired the fragment at an unknown date; there are no clear indications of his ownership other than its presence in his papers.

Newman and Principe believe that Starkey’s notes date from ca. January-April 1651, during Starkey’s first few months in England. The date of Boyle’s contributions is uncertain, although Boyle and Starkey seem to have been in contact as early as spring 1651.

The manuscript consists of two sheets of paper, folded once to form four leaves, and quired together. Fols. 115v, 117v, and 118r are blank.


  1. “A laboratory notebook fragment.” // IN: Alchemical laboratory notebooks and correspondence / George Starkey ; edited by William R. Newman and Lawrence M. Principe. – Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2004. – pages 3-11.

Discussions:   Newman & Principe, publication #1 above, pages 3-4.

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“Now our Athenian olive spreads”   [ca. 1651]

Location:   Bodleian Library, MS. Locke c. 32, f. 10.

Description:   Draft of a poem in Locke’s hand, beginning “Now our Athenian olive spreads”. A note “Presented to Coll P” appears at the end of the poem, and the sheet is endorsed “Verses to A P” this clearly refers to Locke’s patron Alexander Popham. Probably dates from ca. 1651.
1 sheet; 142 × 95 mm.


  1. Literary and historical writings / John Locke ; edited by J. R. Milton. – Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2019. – (The Clarendon edition of the works of John Locke). Pages 197-198.

Discussions:   Milton, publication #1 above, pages 7-8, 145.

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Two Latin orations   [ca. 1652]

Location:   Bodleian Library, MS. Locke c. 25, ff. 1-2, 3-4.

Description:   Two Latin orations, probably dating from ca. 1652:
(ff. 1-2) Draft in Locke’s hand, with corrections in another hand, beginning “Post peractos aliquot annorum labores”; 1 sheet, folded to form 4 pages, 302 × 192 mm.
(ff. 3-4) Fair copy of another Latin oration, beginning “Reverendi Maecenates viri spectatissimi; 1 sheet, folded to form 4 pages, 301 × 187 mm.

Publications:   None.

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