Jón Þórðarson

London, British Library Add. 4867

London, British Library Add. 4867, colophon (f.225v). Photo: SMW.

Jón Þórðarson was, along with his father Þórður Jónsson before him, one of the most prolific scribes who worked for Magnús í Vigur. Over the course of twenty years Jón copied several manuscripts, many in their entirety, and sometimes included notes within them that give an insight into his personality as a scribe in the seventeenth century.

Unlike his father Þórður, Jón did not regularly include the place of writing in his colophons, but he did often identify himself with a signature or trademark, and these are often accompanied by dates, which confirm when and what work he was doing for his patron Magnús.

The first evidence of Jón’s work comes from the British Library manuscript Add. 4869, which he copied over the winter of 1679–80 at Strandseljar in Ögurhreppur (a farm his father Þórður also worked at); Jón identifies himself at the end of several this manuscript’s texts. He seems to have been well-educated and familiar with languages other than Icelandic. Some of his colophons are in Latin, and in one, he signed his name using Greek letters. He also worked at a couple of other farms over the course of his career. In addition to Strandseljar, Jón can also be placed at both Óshlíð (April–May 1695) and Kálfavík (early winter 1695), and he was probably also at Kálfavík in 1699–1700. There are many more of Jón’s colophons that give a precise date (even including days and months), but do not name the place of writing, but it seems likely that these copies were made at the farms just mentioned, or ones not far from Vigur.

Jón was most active towards the end of the seventeenth century and his work is well-documented more or less continuously from 1690 through 1696 when Magnús Ketilsson seems to have taken over as main scribe. The image above shows one of his colophons from this period, which includes a stylized monogram ITS (Ion ThordarSon) and the abbreviated Latin phrase Manu propria, indicating he wrote the text ‘with his own hand’. After 1696 Jón appears to have collaborated with Magnús Ketilsson in one final work in 1699, the now-lost collection of poetry that Nks 1141 fol., in Copenhagen’s Royal Library, was later copied from.

Jón contributed to the copying of the following manuscripts for Magnús í Vigur:

  1. Add. 4857
  2. Add. 4859
  3. Add. 4865
  4. Add. 4867
  5. Add. 4869
  6. Add. 11,153
  7. AM 426 fol.
  8. AM Access. 22
  9. AM Steph. 58
  10. ÍB 51 fol.
  11. Lbs 222 fol. (probably for Magnús í Vigur, although there is no mention of him in the manuscript)
  12. Lbs 235 fol.
  13. Lbs 861 4to
  14. The exemplar of Nks 1141 fol. (the original copy in the hands of Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Ketilsson is lost)


Last updated: 2018-04-26