Robert Huntington 1637-1701

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Robert HUNTINGTON 1637-1701

Biographical Note

Born at Deerhurst, Gloucestershire, son of Robert Huntington, Curate of Deerhurst, Gloucestershire there. BA and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford 1658, MA 1663, BD and DD 1683; he held a series of college offices in Merton during the 1660s, while studying oriental languages. Chaplain to the Levant Company at Aleppo 1670, where he resided till 1681 before returning to Oxford. Provost of Trinity College, Dublin 1683-92, where he tried to improve educational standards, completed the new chapel and created a physic garden. He disliked the Irish climate and returned to England in 1692 to be rector of Great Hallingbury, Essex. He was persuaded to return to Ireland as Bishop of Raphoe in 1701, but died shortly after being consecrated. Although his learning was highly regarded by his contemporaries, he published no books; a selection of his letters was issued posthumously in 1704.


During his time in Syria, Huntington made extensive collections of manuscripts from across the near and middle east. He also acquired manuscripts for others, including Thomas Marshall, Dean of Gloucester (d.1685). By the time of his return he had over 600 manuscripts, mainly Arabic and Hebrew. He made manuscript donations to Merton, the Bodleian Library and Trinity College, Dublin in the 1670s and 80s, but the bulk of his collection was purchased by the Bodleian for ca.£1100 in 1692, the largest accession of oriental manuscripts made by the Library during the 17th century.

Huntington’s will has no mention of books. His library of printed books was sold shortly after his death by auction in London by Edward Millington, beginning 27 January 1702. The catalogue includes 1443 lots, plus 335 law books from another (unidentified) collection, divided between Latin theology (187), Latin miscellaneous (498), and English miscellaneous (758) (some of the last category may have been part of the other collection).


  • Catalogue of the library of the reverend and learned Dr. Huntington, late Lord Bishop of Raphoe, 1702, ESTC t26213.
  • Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
  • Hamilton, Alastair. "Huntington, Robert (bap. 1637, d. 1701), orientalist and bishop of Raphoe." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Macray, W. D. Annals of the Bodleian Library. 2 nd edn, Oxford, 1890.
  • McDowell R. & D. Webb, Trinity College Dublin 1592-1952, 1982.
  • Simon Mills and César Merchan-Hamann, The Huntington Collection, in R. Adams and C. Merchan-Hamann (eds), Jewish treasures from Oxford libraries, Oxford, 2020, 89-113.
  • Philip, I. The Bodleian Library in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Oxford, 1983, 60-1.