Oriental manuscripts of Richard Rawlinson

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Rawl. Or. 1-40, 42-5, 46-8 (R), 49, 50 (R), 51, 52 (R), 53-61
  • Dates of Creation
      15th?-18th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, Sanskrit, and Telugu.
  • Physical Description
      59 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The manuscripts, 15th?-18th century, are mainly Arabic, with some Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, Sanskrit and Telugu material. The collection contains several Qu'rans, Ottoman histories and Hebrew grammars.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) was the son of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, wine merchant, and lord mayor of London in 1706. After being educated at St. Paul's school and Eton, Rawlinson matriculated at St. John's college, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner in 1708; he proceeded BA in 1711, MA in 1713, and received the honorary degree of DCL in 1719. He was FRS and FSA, and a Bishop among the Nonjurors (1728). In 1719-26 he travelled in Holland, France, Germany and Italy, gradually amassing a foreign, classical and English library, as well as coins. Rawlinson also bought extensively at London book sales between 1715 and 1755. When his elder brother Thomas, also a great book collector, died in 1726, Rawlinson catalogued his manuscripts, and secured a large proportion of them, including oriental volumes, at the sale of 1734. In 1750 Rawlinson founded an Anglo-Saxon Professorship at Oxford. Further 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 http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk).

Acquisition Information

Rawlinson gave many printed books and a few manuscripts to the Library during his lifetime. Finally by his will, besides bequests to Hertford and St. John's Colleges and to the Ashmolean Museum, he bequeathed to the University all his manuscripts, medals, coins, matrixes and impressions of seals, prints, paintings and copperplates; and all such printed books as were on vellum or silk, or were not duplicates of books already in the Library.


Most of Rawlinson's oriental manuscripts were formerly placed in the 'MSS. Bodl. Or.' series which was begun c. 1812. They were removed to 'MS. Rawl. Or.' in the late nineteenth century.

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

Other Finding Aids

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. III, nos. 15930-87.

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

J. UriBibliothecae Bodleianae codicum manuscriptorum Orientalium catalogus pars prima (Oxford 1787). See the Arabic Christian and Arabic Mohammedan sections.

A. Nicoll Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Orientalium Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars secunda, Arabicos complectens (Oxford, 1835). See the Arabic Christian and Arabic Mohammedan sections.

E. Sachau, H. Eth and A.F.L. Beeston Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindstn, and Pusht manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1889-1953), vol. 2.

A. Neubauer and A.E. Cowley Catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian library, and in the College Libraries of Oxford, 2 vols., Catalogi Codd. MSS. Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars xii, (Oxford, 1886-1906), mainly vol. 1. More recently, a 'Supplement of Addenda and Corrigenda', which has to be used in conjunction with Neubauer's Catalogue, was published (Oxford 1994).

A. Dillmann Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae, pars vii. Codices Aethiopici (Oxford, 1848).

Related Material

Rawlinson's oriental manuscripts are section 'O' in a series A-P. All Rawlinson manuscripts, save oriental manuscripts, are held by the Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, and are described separately.