HYDE, Thomas. Billingsley near Bridgnorth, Shropshire 29.6.1636 — Oxford 18.2.1703. English Orientalist (Arabic and Persian Scholar), a Pioneer of Zoroastrian Studies. Professor in Oxford. Son of Ralph Hyde, vicar of Billingsley, educated at Eton. In the age of 16 started Arabic studies at Cambridge under Wheelock. He also learned Persian and soon became Walton’s Assistant, transcribing the Constantinople text (printed 1546) of the Judaeo-Persian Pentateuch from Hebrew script to Arabic script for vol. 2 of the London Polyglot. In 1658 he moved to Oxford, became Reader in Hebrew and passed M.A. 1659. From 1659 underkeeper of Bodleian Library, from 1665 its Chief Librarian. From 1666 he was prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral, from 1673 Archdeacon of Gloucester. D.D. 1682 Oxford. In 1691 he succeeded Edward Pocock as Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, from 1697 also Regius Professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church. In 1701 he resigned his post in the library in order to concentrate on literary work. In 1700 he was the first to use the name “Cuneiform” for the then undeciphered script (which he himself suspected of being mere ornaments). For his magnum opus he collected all references on Zoroastrianism in classical, Syriac, Arabic and Hebrew literature and the little that was then known of the Parsis of India and brought forth a very valuable discussion. Among his other interests was the history of chess.
Publications: Catalogus impressorum librorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae. 480+172 p. Oxford 1674.
– De ludis orientalibus libri II. 184+278 p. Oxford 1689-94 (De historia Shahiludi. and Historia Nerdiludi, on chess); other works.
– Historia religionis veterum Persarum eorumque Magorum. Oxford 1700, 2nd ed. 580 p. O. 1760.
– Syntagma dissertationum quas olim auctor doctissimus Th.H. separatim edidit. 1-2. 34+22+251+ 108 & 28+308 p. Oxford 1767.
Sources: E.J.R. in D.N.B. 28, 1891, 401f.; Wikipedia.