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THE learned and industrious authors, who have hitherto investigated the antiquities of Cambridge, are all silent touching the foundation of the University Library. One of the earliest proofs of its existence occurs in the Statuta Antiqua, where, on issuing fresh orders with respect to the terms of admission, it is intimated that the Libraria Communis" had, in times anterior to the middle of the fifteenth century, been accessible to all the students. Further traces of this institution are detected in royal grants of 1438 and 1439. At the former date, King Henry VI. acceded to the prayer of the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University, who appealed to him in aid of the 'Common Library ;' granting for that and other objects the 'manor of Ruyslep, in the county of Middlesex, with a certain place called Northwode, with lands, &c. to that manor pertaining, after the death of John Somerseth, to whom it is given for life'.'
If, however, we except these incidental notices, there seems to be no documentary evidence elucidating the character of the
1 Documents relating to the University, &c., 1. 403. Lond. 1852.
* Ibid. 1. 41, 42. In 1440 six volumes were bequeathed ‘librarie Universitatis Cantibrigie,' by master Robert Alne of York, the owner of a large collection of books: see Testamenta Eborac. ii. 78, ed. Surtees Society.