CORYAT, Thomas (Coriate, Tom)

CORYAT, Thomas (Coriate, Tom). Odcombe (Crewkerne), Somersetshire 1577? — Surat ?.12.1617. British Traveller in India. Son of the Rev. George C., Rector of Odcombe, and Gertrude. Studies at Winchester Colleg and from 1596 at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, but left without degree and seems to have had some years of aimless life. Then he became a kind of buffoon at the court of James I and later of Prince Henry. In 1608 he made a five months’ travel in Europe, perhaps with help of his father’s inheritance: Dover–Paris–Lyon–Turin–Milan–Venice–Chur–Basel, and down the Rhine and to London. In 1612 he left for the East. From Constantinople he visited Greece and Asia Minor, from Smyrna came to Alexandria, visited Cairo and proceeded to Palaestina, Libanon, Mesopotamia and Iran, came via Kandahar and Lahore to India, arriving at Agra in October 1616. He lived in British factory there, but became ill and went to Surat for help. Died of a “flux”. An original and colourful person and author. His extensive notes, seen by Roe who met him in Ajmir, were lost.

Publications: Coryat’s Crudities. Hastily gobled up in Five Moneths Travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia… 1611.

Thomas Coriate Traveller for the English Wits: Greeting, from Court of the Great Mogul, Resident at the Towne of Asmere in Eastern India. 1616 (letters); republ. in 1776, by Purchas 1-2, and by W. Foster (ed.), Early Travels in India, 1583–1619. Oxford 1921, 234-287.

Sources: A.J. in D.N.B. 12, 1887, 259-261; *Foster 1921, 234ff. Introduction to Coryat; Oaten 1909, 162-164; Wikipedia with portrait and further references.

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