SHAKESPEAR, John (elder). 14.8.1774 — Langley Priory, Leicestershire 14.6.1858. British Oriental (Hindi/Urdu, Arabic and Persian) Scholar. Professor in Addiscombe. Son of a small farmer, who died when he was 11, educated at the parish school and privately. He studied Arabic in London in order to get an appointment in North Africa, but joined the Commissariat in 1792-96. From 1805 Professor of Oriental Languages at Royal Military College in Marlow, from 1809 Professor of Hindustani at Addiscombe. Retired in 1829. With his savings the ascetic bachelor bought a manor, Langley Priory, in Leicestershire and lived there until his death. The estate (and surname) was inherited by his nephew —> Ch. Bowles, who had been his assistant and successor at Addiscombe.
The books of Shakespear were long time used in the teaching of Hindi/Urdu in England. His great Hindustani dictionary started as a revised version of Hunter’s dictionary, but evolved and improved continuously through subsequent editions. He believed to be descended from William Shakespeare and donated in 1856 2500 £ for preservation of his home in Stratford-on-Avon. He never visited India.
Publications: A Grammar of the Hindustani Language. 191 p. L. 1813, 4th ed. to which is added a short Grammar of the Dakhanī Language. 208 p. L. 1846, 6th ed. 1855.
– A Dictionary, Hindostani and English. 834 p. 1817, 2nd ed. 1820, 3rd ed. with a copious Index, fitting the work also as a Dictionary, English and Hindustani. 2210 p. L. 1834; 4th ed. A Dictionary, Hindostani and English, English and Hindostani, the latter being entirely new. 12+2414 p. L. 1849.
– Muntakhabat-i-Hindi, or Selections in Hindoostani, with a verbal Translation and grammatical Analysis of some Part. 1-2. L. 1817-18, 6th ed. 1852.
– Introduction to the Hindustani Language. Comprising a Grammar, and a Vocabulary, English and Hindustani. 564 p. L. 1845.
– A few articles in JRAS.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; G. Dugat, Histoire des orientalistes. 2. P. 1870, 259-264; S.E.W[heeler], D.N.B. 51, 1897, 345; *JRAS 17.