Arabic manuscripts of Martin Lister

Scope and Content

The Arabic manuscripts of Martin Lister, 17th-18th century, including two Qu'rans.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Martin Lister (1638-1712), Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, was physician to Queen Anne, and author of the Historia Conchyliorum (1685-92). He was a considerable benefactor to the Ashmolean Museum. The University of Oxford granted him the degree of Doctor of Medicine by diploma on 5 March 1684, and his name was placed in gold letters over the door of the Library at the Museum as the chief benefactor to it next to Ashmole himself. Details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

Lister's manuscripts were transferred to the Library from the Ashmolean Museum in 1860.


The manuscripts were originally placed in the 'MS. Bodl. Or.' series. They received their present shelfmarks in 1898.

Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

Brief descriptions are located in the card catalogue in the Oriental Reading Room, and in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series, with references to the oriental and other manuscripts (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. V, nos. 25270-4.

The manuscripts are also summarily described in the card catalogue, arranged by language, located in the Oriental Reading Room.

Custodial History

Lister bequeathed all his books and copperplates to the Ashmolean Museum in 1711. Part of his correspondence, and perhaps some of his personal papers, came to the Museum by the gift of Dr Fothergill in 1769.

Related Material

The greater part of Lister's manuscripts, including his scientific manuscripts, is held by the Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts (MSS. Lister 1-32, 32*, 33-40).