Contents and Arrangement

Unknown, 1587

1 box

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of 7,935 Western European documents and other manuscript materials collected by William T. Scheide (1847-1907) and his son John Hinsdale Scheide (Princeton Class of 1896). More than half of the collection is comprised of notarial documents (contracts, wills, deeds, etc.) from Fabriano, Vicenza, Bergamo, Tirano, Caravaggio, and other northern Italian towns in the period 1200-1650. Also includes a substantial number of medieval documents from England and France; 16th-19th century family papers from France; 14th -19th century papal bulls; a few documents from the Low Countries; and miscellaneous documents from Germany, Ireland, Malta, Russia, Spain, and Wales. The collection provides source material for the localized study of Italian and French social, economic, legal, and institutional history during the late Middle Ages, Renaissance, and early modern period.

More than half of the 7,935 items in the Scheide collection are Italian notarial documents from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the bulk of them dating from about 1200 to 1650. The documents include wills, dowers, pious donations to churches, leases, business contracts, and other legal documents. They tend to document particular towns, including 500 or more documents each for Vicenza and Fabriano; 100-200 each for Bergamo, Tirano, and Caravaggio; and scattered documents for Asti, Beneventum, Ferrara, Florence, Venice, Verona, and many other northern Italian towns. Though the inventory gives the names of particular towns where the notaries practiced their trade, the documents themselves may concern the surroundingcontadoor other places. The notarial documents include: (1) the original minutes for legal documents of a contractual nature, such as land conveyances, prepared by the notaries, filed archivally for future reference by the notary, and in most cases recorded in notarial protocols or registers; (2) engrossed personal copies made by notaries for individuals and bearing later endorsements; and (3) non-contractual documents such as estate inventories and court judgments.

Perhaps the most important part of the Scheide collection is a substantial part of the archives of an Italian monastery. The Benedictine (later Silvestrine) abbey of S. Vittore delle Chiuse was founded in the 10th century on the right bank of the River Sentito, in the hills overlooking Castel Petroso (now Pierosara), near the town of Fabriano in the March of Ancona. Dating from 1007 until the beginning of the 15th century, the hundreds of S. Vittore documents now in the Scheide collection had been taken for safekeeping after 1810 by the monk Benedetto Rosei di Fabriano, whose heirs sold the material to Leo S. Olschki, who in turn sold them to William T. Scheide. The S. Vittore archives include notarial documents retained by the monastery.

French materials account for almost 2,500 items in the Scheide collection, chiefly the papers of the D'Olive family of Toulouse, whose noble lineage may be traced back to the mid-15th century. The papers were kept by members of the family for centuries and organized in the latter half of the 18th century by Joseph-Denis d'Olive (d. 1783), who served as President of the Chambre des Requêtes of the Parlement of Toulouse. In defense of its landed wealth and seigniorial rights, chiefly in the villages and manors of Esperce as well as Brugiéres and others, the D'Olive family was frequently involved in litigation and retained records of at least 26 court cases.

Other French archival materials were acquired in part from the Slade Collection along with D'Olive Family Papers, including several boxes of French documents (boxes 156-164) partially identified in Seymour De Ricci,Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada(vol. 2, pp. 1822-37) and the 1938 Parke-Bernet auction catalog's description of the Slade collection (pp. 48-50). Of particular interest in the boxes are four notarial registers kept between 1382 and 1486 by members of the Borelli family and other notaries in the small southern French town of Montech, Dèpartment de Tarn-et-Garonne, northwest of Toulouse. Also of great research value are an account roll (1476) kept in Castres, Dèpartment de Tarn-et-Garonne, by Pierre Bayard, treasurer and counselor to Charles VIII (1483-98); a 14-pagecensieror roll of quit-rents (1517) for the town of Brugiéres, near Castres; and a 78-pagerentieror rent roll (1562-69) for the manor of Quemper-Guèzennec, a village in the Dèpartment des Cotes-du-Nord, Brittany. Found in the same boxes as the D'Olive Family Papers is a smaller group of notarial documents from the village of Pont Farcy pertaining to Burguet family and the area of Avranches in Normandy, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Scheide Collection also includes a series of documents (boxes 89-97) that were originally collected around 1887 by a certain Dr. Vaunaire of Gannat, France; these materials pertain to Roches, Villars, Percenat, Tronget, and other small French towns in the Dèpartment d'Allier. Boxes 207 and 208 contain 47 documents that were originally part of the Nicolay family archives, dated 1428 to 1731. There are 11 documents in Box 207 (starting with #7017) and 36 in Box 208. (#7092 in Box 208 lacks a date; and although it was filed between 1725 and 1731, it actually belongs in the year 1614.) Although quite diverse, the contents all share a material feature: a row of small holes along the top edge (some with bits of thread remaining), suggesting they were bound at some point. Where a document had a seal, it has generally been cut off.

Finally, John Hinsdale Scheide also included in the collection various small groups of English documents, many from the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), as well as French, Italian, Flemish, and other items from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal action taken.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Unknown; John Hinsdale Scheide Collection, C0704, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
Firestone Library (hsvm): Box 129

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