William Bedwell

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William Bedwell (1561 – May 5, 1632 near London) was an English priest and scholar, specializing in Arabic and other "oriental" languages as well as in mathematics.

Bedwell was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. He served the Anglican Church as Rector of St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate and Vicar of Tottenham High Cross. He died at his vicarage at the age of 72.

He published in quarto an edition of the Epistles of John in Arabic, with a Latin version, printed by the heirs of Franciscus Raphelengius at Antwerp in 1612. He also left many Arabic manuscripts to the University of Cambridge and a font of type for printing them. According to McClure, it was Bedwell, and not Thomas Van Erpen, who was the first to revive the study of Arabic literature in Europe. His uncompleted preparations for an Arabic Lexicon were eclipsed by the publication of a similar work by Jacobus Golius in 1653. Bedwell's manuscripts were loaned, following his death, to the University of Cambridge, where they were consulted by Edmund Castell during the creation of the monumental Lexicon Heptaglotton (1669). Another manuscript, for a Dictionary of Persian, was in the possession of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and now resides at the Bodleian Library. Besides his Arabic Epistles of John, his most well-known published work was A Discovery of the Impostures of Mahomet and of the Koran, (1615). He was among the "First Westminster Company" charged by James I of England with the translation of the first 12 books of the King James Version of the Bible.

Bedwell also invented a ruler for geometrical purposes, similar to the Gunter's scale.


  • McClure, Alexander. (1858) The Translators Revived: A Biographical Memoir of the Authors of the English Version of the Holy Bible. Mobile, Alabama: R. E. Publications (republished by the Marantha Bible Society, 1984 ASIN B0006YJPI8 )
  • Nicolson, Adam. (2003) God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. New York: HarperCollins ISBN 0-06-095975-4

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