De Lacy O'Leary

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De Lacy Evans O'Leary
Born 1872
Died 1957
Nationality British
Occupation Orientalist

The Reverend Doctor De Lacy Evans O'Leary (1872–1957) was a British Orientalist who lectured at the University of Bristol and wrote a number of books on the early history of Arabs and Copts.


De Lacy Evans O'Leary was born in 1872. His family was Irish Catholics of Limerick, and included one of the generals in Wellington's Peninsular Campaign.[1][a] Brought up as a Roman Catholic, he converted to the Anglican Church of Ireland in his youth. He became interested in the literature and languages of the people mentioned in the Bible. He studied and worked at the University of London and Trinity College, Dublin before becoming a minister in the church.[3]

He was special lecturer at the University of Bristol from 1908 until 1957, teaching Aramaic, Syriac, and Hellenistic Greek. He was the first chairman of the Bristol University Convocation, which represents graduates of the university, between 1910 and 1928. During World War I he was Captain-Chaplain of the university's Officer Training Corps.[3]

O'Leary was made Inspector of Schools in religious knowledge for the Diocese of Bristol and vicar of Christ Church in the poor Barton Hill district of Bristol from 1909 until his retirement in 1946.[1] Despite the large population of his parish, church attendance was poor and declined during his tenure.[3] There was controversy about his curacy of the parish, which led to questions in the House of Lords in 1952 and an appeal to the Privy council.[1] After World War II he retired from his parish and went to live in Weston-super-Mare with his sister, although he continued to visit the university occasionally. The church was closed and torn down.[3]

De Lacy O'Leary in 'Islam at the Crossroads,' London, 1923.


O'Leary published several Coptic liturgical manuscripts. These included:

  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1923). The Coptic Theotokia. London. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1924). Fragmentary Coptic Hymns from the Wadi n'Natrun. London. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1926–1928). The Difnar (Antiphonarium) of the Coptic Church (2 vols). London. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1930). The Arabic Life of St. Pisentius. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1936). The Ethiopian Church: Historical Notes on the Church of Abyssinia. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 

He wrote books about Christian and Coptic literature. These included:

He also wrote a number of books about Arabic history, including:

  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1922). Arabic Thought and Its Place in History. London. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1923). Arabic History and Culture. Routledge. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1923). Short History of the Fatimid Khalifate. London and New York. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1927). Arabia Before Muhammad. 
  • O'Leary, De Lacy (1947). How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs. London. 

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ Sir (George) De Lacy Evans (1787–1870) was a British Army general who served in four wars in which the United Kingdom's troops took part in the 19th century. He was later a long-serving Member of Parliament.[2]