Edward Pococke 1604-1691

From Book Owners Online

Edward POCOCKE or POCOCK 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.


In his will Pococke gave all his printed books to his four sons, to be divided between them, "and in case any different shall happen amongst my said sonnes touching the dividing the said bookes my will is that the said difference be referred to Mr Wallis and Mr Bernard to settle the same, and what they shall doe therein my sonnes... shall be contented with and abide by their judgements". He then goes on to say that his manuscripts "which are many and of a good value" should be sold by his executrix, and out of the money raised each of his daughters (or their children) should receive fifty pounds. 420 oriental manuscripts from his collection were bought by the Bodleian after his death. The 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).


  • Will of Edward Pocock or Pococke, Doctor in Divinity and Canon of the Cathedral Church..., The National Archives PROB 11/406/65.
  • Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
  • Catalogi variorum librorum in quavis lingua & facultate insignium, tam antiquorum quam recentium... Una cum libris theologicis instructissimæ bibliothecæ R.V. Dr. Pocockii linguæ arabicæ professoris, nuperrime defuncti..., [London, 1692], ESTC R2171.
  • 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.
  • Williams, B. "The Pococke Collection", in R. Abrams and C. Merchan-Hamann (eds), Jewish treasures from Oxford libraries, Oxford, 2020, 67-87.