John Covel

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Portrait by Claude Laudius Guynier, 1716

John Covel (2 April 1638 – 19 December 1722) was a clergyman and scientist who became Master of Christ's College, Cambridge and vice-chancellor of the University.[1]

John Covel was born at Horningsheath, Suffolk, the son of William Covel. He was educated at Bury St Edmunds school and Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was made a fellow in 1659.[2] In 1670 he went to Constantinople as Chaplain to the Levant Company. For a time he was in sole charge of the embassy there. He travelled widely in Asia Minor and described the buildings and plants which he saw. He purchased a lot of Greek manuscripts (including codices 65, 110, 321, 322, and ℓ 150). After his return and a period as Chaplain to the Princess of Orange in The Hague (1681-1685), he was elected the 15th Master of Christ's in 1688, a position he held until 1723.[3] In his later years he developed the study of fossils.[4]


  1. ^ Elisabeth Leedham-Green, ‘Covel , John (1638–1722)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 23 Dec 2007
  2. ^ "Covel or Covill, John (CVL654J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Christ's College website – list of previous masters
  4. ^ Christ's College Magazine No 154, Easter term 1942


  • Jean-Pierre Grélois (Éd.): Dr John Covel, Voyages en Turquie 1675-1677. Texte établi, annoté et traduit par Jean-Piere Grélois, avec une préface de Cyril Mango (Réalités Byzantines 6). Paris 1998. ISBN 978-2-283-60456-4

Further reading[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Ralph Cudworth
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
William Towers