Abraham Wheelocke

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Abraham Wheelocke
Born1593 Edit this on Wikidata
DiedSeptember 1653 Edit this on Wikidata

Abraham Wheelock[1] (1593 in Whitchurch, Shropshire – 1653) was an English linguist. He was the first Adams Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge, from around 1632. According to Robert Irwin[2] he regarded it as part of his academic duty to discourage students from taking up the subject. Thomas Hyde was one of his pupils.

Wheelock was appointed librarian of the "Public Library" (i. e. Cambridge University Library) in 1629,[3] and was also Reader in Anglo-Saxon. In 1632 he oversaw the transfer of Thomas van Erpe's collection of oriental books and manuscripts to Cambridge University Library after its purchase by George Villiers, which brought with it the first book in Chinese to be added to the Library's collections.[4] He produced the editio princeps of the Old English version of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1643–1644).[5] In the same work he published an important edition – and the first in England – of Bede's Ecclesiastical History in its original Latin text,[6] opposite the Old English version, along with Anglo-Saxon laws. Many of the notes in this edition consist of the Old English homilies of Aelfric of Eynsham, which Wheelocke translated himself into Latin. In the following year (1644), London publisher Cornelius Bee put out another, enlarged edition which also included an updated version of William Lambarde's legal text "Archaionomia." This text was likely a collaboration between Wheelock and his friend Sir Roger Twysden.[7]

He graduated MA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1618, and became Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge in 1619.[8][9]

Quatuor evangeliorum domini nostri Jesu Christi versio Persica Syriacam & Arabicam suavissimè redolens[10] was a trilingual version of the Four Gospels, published in the same year as the London Polyglot, to which he also contributed.


  1. ^ There are many variations on his name, including: Wheelock, Whelocke, Whelock, or Wheloc. He himself uses the spelling of "Wheelock" unless he signs a Latin document, where he uses "Whelocus." The alternative spellings come from others.
  2. ^ Irwin, Robert (2006) For Lust of Knowing, p. 98.
  3. ^ "History of the Collections". Cambridge University Library. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Chinese Works". Cambridge Digital Library. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ Plummer, Charles (1911). "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. (Referred to as "Wheloc")
  6. ^ David C. Douglas, English Scholars (1939), p. 73.
  7. ^ Oates, JCT (1986). Cambridge University Library: A History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP. p. 167.
  8. ^ "Wheelock, Abraham (WHLK611A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  9. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  10. ^ Quatuor evangeliorum domini nostri Jesu Christi versio Persica Syriacam & Arabicam suavissimè redolens: ad verba & mentem Græci textus sideliter & venustè concinnata. Codicibus tribus manuscriptis ex Oriente in academias utrasque Anglorum perlatis, operosè invicem diligentè que collatis. Per Abrahamum Whelocum linguæ Arabicæ, & Saxonicæ, in academis Cantabrigiensi professorem, & publicum bibliothecarium. Sub auspiciis & impensis mecœnatis præcellentissimi, integerrimi virtute, historiarum optimarum notitiâ undique politissimi, D. Thomæ Adams viri patritii, nuper dni prætoris florentissimæ civitatis Londini, munificentissimi, honoratissimi. [WorldCat.org] (Latin preface, text Persian (now known as Western Farsi) and Latin in parallel columns; printed in London by James Flesher.)
Primary sources
  • Wheelock, Abraham (ed.) Historiae ecclesiasticae gentis Anglorum libri V a venerabili Beda presbytero scripti. Cambridge: Roger Daniel, 1643. Augmented edition 1644. (Texts in Latin and Old English, with notes and additional texts)
Secondary sources
  • Graham, Timothy (2001) "Anglo-Saxon Studies: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries," in A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature, eds. Phillip Pulsiano and Elaine Treharne. Oxford: Blackwell; pp. 415–433.
  • Graham, Timothy, ed. (2000) The Recovery of Old English: Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications
  • Chai-Elsholz, Raeleen (2007) "Painted with the Colour of Ancientie: two early-modern versions of Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica," in The Medieval Translator / Traduire au Moyen âge; 10; eds. Jacqueline Jenkins and Olivier Bertrand. Turnhout: Brepols; pp. 179–191.
  • Oates, J. C. T. (1986) Cambridge University Library; [Vol. 1]: From the Beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne. London: Cambridge University Press
  • Murphy, Michael (1967) "Abraham Wheloc's Edition of Bede's History in Old English," Studia Neophilologica; 39 (1967), pp. 46–59.
  • Adams, Eleanor N. (1917) Old English Scholarship in England from 1566–1800,in Yale Studies in English; 55. 1917; reprinted New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970.