Edward Pococke 1604-1691

From Book Owners Online

Edward POCOCKE 1604-1691

Biographical Note

Born at Oxford, son of Edward Pococke (d.1636). Matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford and admitted to Corpus Christi College in 1620; graduated BA in 1622, MA 1626. Admitted probationer fellow in 1628. He was appointed a chaplain of the Levant Company in 1630 and in the same year travelled to Aleppo to study Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Ethiopic and to collect manuscripts. He returned to England in 1636 and was appointed professor of Arabic at Oxford. In 1637 he left England with Thomas Greaves for Constantinople where he lived for three years with the English ambassadors Sir Peter Wyche and Sir Sackville Crow, resuming his studies and collecting further manuscripts. He returned to England in 1641 and was appointed rector of Childrey, Berkshire in 1642. Described by the ODNB at ‘the finest European Arabist of his time’, Pocoke produced numerous scholarly works in his lifetime, including the Porta Mosis (1646), a pioneering work in Judaeo-Arabic, and the Specimen historiae Arabum (1650), Pockoke’s greatest work and the first Oxford book printed with the Arabic types which William Laud had acquired for the university. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas Burdet of West Worldham, Hampshire in 1646 with whom he had six sons and three daughters.


420 oriental manuscripts from his collection were bought by the Bodleian after his death. Remainder of his library (“the theological part”) auctioned in London, 11.4.1692 (joint sale, with part of the stock of the bookseller Richard Davis).


  • Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
  • Philip, I. The Bodleian Library in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Oxford, 1983., 59-60.
  • Toomer, G. J. "Pococke, Edward (1604–1691), oriental scholar." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Benjamin Williams, The Pococke Collection, in R. Adams and C. Merchan-Hamann (eds), Jewish treasures from Oxford libraries, Oxford, 2020, 67-87.