Richard Pococke in Oriental Costume, 1738
-- by Jean-Étienne Liotard.
|Born||19 November 1704|
|Died||25 September 1765 (aged 60)|
Charleville Castle, near Tullamore, Ireland.
|Citizenship||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|
|Genre||Travel writer and diarist.|
Richard Pococke (19 November 1704 - 25 September 1765) was an English prelate and anthropologist. He was the Bishop of Ossory (1756-65) and Meath (1765), both dioceses of the Church of Ireland. However, he is best known for his travel writings and diaries.
Pococke was born in Southampton and educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, receiving a Bachelor of Law degree. His father was the Reverend Richard Pococke and his mother was Elizabeth Milles, the daughter of Rev. Isaac Milles the younger, son of Rev. Isaac Milles (1638-1720). His parents were married on 26 April 1698. Pococke's uncle, Thomas Milles, was a professor of Greek. He was also distantly related to Edward Pococke, the English Orientalist and biblical scholar.Rev. Jeremiah II Milles (1714-1784) was a first cousin.
His family connections meant he advanced rapidly in the church, becoming vicar-general of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore.
He seems to have spent far more time travelling than attending to his duties as a churchman and from 1733 to 1741 undertook two Grand Tours with his cousin, Jeremiah Milles. The first (1733-34) was to France and Italy and the second (1736-37) was to the Low Countries, Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary. Milles was recalled in 1737 to attend his uncle, the Bishop of Waterford & Lismore, leaving Pococke to continue his voyage to the East. Detailed accounts of their travels survive in a collection of letters written to Pococke's mother and their mutual uncle, the bishop, as well as in a number of note-books (British Library, Add. Ms. 19939, 15779, 22998, etc.). The earlier manuscripts, recently edited and published by Rachel Finnegan, include probably the most detailed description of Venice's "Marriage to the Sea" ceremony as well as precious information on contemporary music, especially opera. From 1737-41 he visited the Near East, visiting Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon & Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. These travels were later published in his Description of the East of 1743 and 1745, works which were praised by Edward Gibbon. The complete collection of correspondence written to his mother from his Eastern voyage is now in print (2013), thus completing the publication of all his known travels. Among other things, he was one of the European travellers to give an account of the origins of the medieval Arabic document, the Achtiname of Muhammad, which claims that Muhammad had personally confirmed a grant of protection and other privileges to the monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt.
During the years 1747-60, Pococke made a number of tours around various parts of Ireland. The longest of these tours occurred in 1752, when he travelled to just over half of Ireland's counties. He kept a record of this tour, but did not publish it. It ended up in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Eventually, in 1891, an edited edition of Pococke's 1752 tour was published by George Thomas Stokes.
He was made bishop successively of Ossory, Elphin and of Meath in 1756. He spent many of his later years in travel throughout Britain and Ireland, publishing accounts of many of his journeys.
In a letter to Mrs. Donnellan dated Sandleford, 30 December 1750, Mrs. Montagu wrote: ... We have a loss in not having Dr. Pococke here this Christmas, as we expected. The conversation of a man of letters, and a traveller, is very agreeable in the country. Now I am out of the sphere of attraction of the great city of London, I am as well pleased to hear of some custom at Constantinople as of a new fashion in London; and the Nile is as much my thought as the Thames...