Ockley, Simon

Ockley, Simon an English divine and philosopher, eminent for his attainments in Oriental literature and languages, was born of a distinguished family at Exeter in 1678. He studied at Queen's College, in the University of Cambridge, from 1693, and early evinced a peculiar tendency to the study of the Eastern languages. Having entered the Church, he was appointed curate of Swavesey in 1705, through Simon Patrick, bishop of Ely, who had great regard for his talents; and in 1711 he was chosen professor of Arabic in. the University of Cambridge. He was thoroughly acquainted with the Eastern languages, and very zel in promoting their study, which he considered as of theology, declaring that no one could be a great theologian without being more or less actual with them. He died at Swavesey; Aug. 9, 1720. He wrote Introductio ad linguas orientles in qua iis discen's via munitur et earum usus ostendjitr (Cambridge, 1706, 8vo); it contains a chapter odiqihe famous discussion between Buxtorf and:Cappelif n the origin and antiquity of the vowel points in Hebrew. Ockley, who at first sided with the former, changed his opinion afterwards: The History of the present Jews throughout the World (ibid. 1707, 12mo), translated from the Italian of rabbi Leon of Modena, with the addition of a Supplement. concerning the Karaites and Samaritdns, after Richard Simon: — The Improvement of Human Reason exhibited in the Life of Hai-Ebn-Yokdhau, written above five hundred years ago by A biu Jaafar- ebn-Tophail (ibid. 1708, 8vo); the original was published by Pococke as early as 1650: — An Account of South-west Barbary, containing what is most remarkable in the Territories of the King of Fez and Morocco (ibid. 1713, 8vo, with a map): — The History of the Saracens (Lond. 1708-18, 2 vols. 8vo; 3d f.ed. Camb. 1757; 5th ed., augmented, Lond. 1848, royal 8vo; translated into German in 1745, and into French, by Jault, in 1748); this, the most important of Ockley's works, is full of curious information concerning the reigion, habits, customs, and history of the Saracens from the death of Mohammed (632) to 1705. Ockley con sulted a number of Arabic works previously but little known. It may still be read with advantage by those:who are unacquainted with the Oriental languages. Gibb made considerable use of it in his Decline and Fall, and speaks of the author in his autobiography as an original in every sense, who had opened his eyes." This work, however, does not appear to have brought Ockley much profit; for he complains, in his inaugural oration in 1711, of his straitened circumstances, and dates the second volume of his history from Cambridge Castle, where he was imprisoned for debt: — The second apocryphal Book of Esdras, translated in 1716 from an Arabic version; and some Sermons, of which one was on The Christian Priesthood, and another on The Necessity ofi Istsucting Children in the Scriptures. See Chalmers, Gen. Biog. Dict. s.v.;. Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale,38. 441; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; English Cyclop. s.v. (J. N. P.)

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