Browne 1441 Papers of John Palmer

Papers of Professor John Palmer. Arabic and English. Early 19th century.

John Palmer (1769-1840) was a Fellow of St John’s College and the Sir Thomas Adams Professor of Arabic at Cambridge.

1 box containing loose manuscript papers relating to the Arabic language and its grammar originally in a single bundle.


1. Small empty paper wrapper, addressed to the Rev’d J. Palmer, St John’s College, and marked ‘Catalogue of Dr Craven’s arabic books’.

2. Loose gathering of six folded leaves, plus a half leaf. Titled on the front in capitals ‘An exposition of the several truths of the Christian religion translated from the Arabic printed in the year 1728, to which were added an abridgement of the sacred chronology. And with the Apostle’s creed and the ten commandments and the Lord’s prayer  all published in Arabic and have been translated.  The gathering is numbered up to page 18, with 4 blank pages. The loose leaf is laid out like a title page, saying ‘An abridgement of sacred chronology, with the Apostles creed & the ten commandments of God, and the Lord’s prayer and also an Exposition of the several truths of the Christian religion. Translated from the Arabic. Printed in the year 1728.’ The verso is numbered page 1 and contains the start of “Chapter [ or Section] the first”.

3. Five bifolia sewn together to form small booklet, labelled on the front cover “Libri Orient: citat”. Contains references to page numbers within publications, mostly written on rectos only. One verso used.

4. 24 bifolia sewn together to form small booklet of 94 pages, labelled on front cover “Libri Orientakl : Med: in Bibl: Academ: Cant:”. A list of contents is written on the verso of the front cover, indicating a subject arrangement. The booklet contains bibliographical references for oriental manuscripts, together with their University Library classmarks.

5. Loose bifolia, numbered 1-4, 1-8, plus a single unnumbered bifolium. Neatly written information concerning the Arabic language.

6. Small notebook in marbled paper wrapper, containing an arabic grammar. A note on an enclosed loose leaf explains that this grammar is constructed on the basis of that of Erpenius [i.e. Thomas van Erpe (1584-1624)] with some improvements resulting from study and personal intercourse with countries in which the language is spoken. Only the first half of the notebook is used.

7. Collection of single sheets of paper, some folded, together with smaller scraps of paper, bearing notes in English, Latin, and Arabic, mostly relating to grammar and pronunciation. 10 items in all.

8. Bundle of 20 loose bifolia, enclosed in two paper wrappers, the outer of which is marked ‘Potter’ on the back, though this may simply be a re-use of an unrelated document. Contains grammatical notes on tenses, verbs, participles, etc. Mostly in ink, with some pencil corrections and some crossings out. In English with occasional Arabic examples.

9. Two folded sheets with three half-sheets enclosed. The outer sheet is labelled ‘Batten Trin.’ with other text crossed out. The second folded sheet is headed ‘Potter’ and contains a formula and trigonometric diagram. The half-sheets contain notes on grammar, some crossed out.

10. Collection of single and folded sheets of various sizes, bundled together in a blank paper wrapper. The contents vary: formulae and diagrams, notes on grammar, notes entirely in Arabic, and vocabulary lists. One folded sheet bears the address ‘William Palmer  care of Francis Wing Esq Smirma’ and the remains of a seal.

11. Three large folded sheets containing an alphabetical word list in English, with mathematical calculations on the reverse, wrapped in a similar folded sheet with mathematical calculations, along with a smaller folded sheet containing grammatical notes.

12. Loose sheet of laid paper with gold flecks bearing largeinscription in Arabic.

13. Printed copy of Elementa linguae arabicae ex erpenii rudimentis ut plurimum desumpta. Cuius praxi grammaticae novam legendi praxin addidit Leonardus Chappelow. (London, 1730). Crudely sewn, but not bound. Contains pencil annotations throughout, plus one inserted small sheet of notes in Arabic in ink.

14. Printed prospectus for a proposed publication by public subscription for a one volume Arabic grammar by the Rev. John Frederick Usko, directed to the Rev. John Palmer, Fellow of St John’s College and Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. On the blank half of the prospectus is written an autograph letter from Rev. Usko from Rectoryhouse Ossett dated 4 February 1814, requesting Palmer’s support for his project. He sends his compliments to the Master of St John’s, Mr Walker and Mr Wood. A postscript outlines the Roman characters he uses to denote certain Arabic letters and seeks Palmer’s advice on this. He also passes on an invitation from his wife to Palmer to come and visit them, and mentions a pamphlet written by John Lee in which he predicts the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France.

15. Three fragmentary notes on grammar.

16. The original paper wrappers in which the whole bundle was contained, marked ‘Oriental Mr Palmer’. The inner wrapper also bears some faded notes in Arabic.