MARSDEN, William. Verval, county Wicklow, Ireland 16.11.1754 — Aldenham, Herefordshire 6.10.1836. British Pioneer of South-East Asian Studies and Numismatician. Son of John M., English merchant in Dublin, and Eleanor Bagnall. “Educated at Dublin schools, went out as a writer in the E. I. Co.’s service to Bencoolen in Sumatra, 1771, stayed eight years [till 1779]. Became Principal Secretary to the Government, devoted his time to literature and science. Established an E. I. agency business in London, 1785. Became Second Secretary, 1975, and in 1804 First secretary to the Admiralty till 1807. F.R.S.” In retirement living in Aldenham. D.C.L. 1786 Oxford. Presented his collection of coins to British Museum in 1834 and his books and Oriental manuscripts to King’s College. He married late, 1807, Elizabeth, the daughter of his friend —> Charles Wilkins, no children. Beside Malay also knew some Sanskrit.
Publications: The History of Sumatra, containing an Account of Government, Laes, Customs, and Manners of Native Inhabitants, with a Description of the Natural Productions and a Relation of the Ancient Political State of that Island. 8+375+6 p. L. 1783.
– “On the Traces of the Hindu Language and Literature, Extant among the Malays”, As.Res. 4, 1795, 8° repr. 1798, 226-234.
– A Dictionary of the Malayan Language in two parts, Malayan and English and English and Malayan. 15+589 p. L. 1812; also a grammar of Malay.
– The Travels of Marco Pol,. a Venetian, in the Thirteenth Century. 80+781 p. L. 1818, and many editions.
– Numismata Orientalia illustrata. 1–2. L. 1823–25; a few further works.
Sources: *A Brief Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Marsden, Written by Himself. L. 1838; Buckland, Dictionary; W.W., D.N.B. 36, 1893, 206f.; portrait (etching by Mrs. D. Turner from a painting by Th. Phillips) in India Office Library and Records. Report 1978; Wikipedia with drawing.
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