The Oriental Translation Fund was established in 1828 by a committee of the society under the Chairmanship of Sir Gore Ouseley. Its purpose was to translate and publish such "interesting and valuable works on eastern History, Science, and Belles-Lettres as are still in MS... The object proposed is, to publish, free of expense to the authors, translations of the whole or parts of such works...generally to be accompanied by the original texts printed separately." King George IV became patron of the fund. In its early years the fund was financed by subscriptions and the list of subscribers was impressive. This included: Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the Prime Minister (Wellington), the Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society, Henry Colebrook.
The Oriental Translation Committee who controlled the fund was independent to the society and an annual subsidy of 100 guineas was received from the East India Company. Various works were published throughout this period and this formed series one of the publications (1828-1879). However, operations were suspended in 1860 due to a lack of funds and the committee had disposed of most of its stock.
The council considered reviving the fund in 1888 which was mainly under the efforts of the British Orientalist Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot. He led the management of the fund and funded a lot of it himself. He was also supported by the former Viceroy of India, Lord Northbrook and a prominent Sanskrit Scholar E.T. Sturdy. This led to series 2 publications to be published and the fund is still in operation today.