BOWREY, Thomas. A dictionary English and Malayo, Malayo and English. To which is added some short grammar rules and directions for the better observation of the propriety and elegancy of this language. London, Sam. Bridge for the author, 1701.

This is a first edition copy of an English-Malay dictionary, compiled by Thomas Bowrey and published in London in 1701. Bowrey (ca. 1650-1713), was an East India Company (EIC) sea captain who spent nineteen years from 1669 sailing about the islands, seas and coastlines of the Malay Archipelago. He endured many perils during his voyages, including attacks by pirates, hidden shipwrecks and local warfare. Bowrey explains in the Preface (p. 6) the reasons for such a publication: ‘I finding so very few English Men that have attained any tollerable knowledge of the Malayo tongue, so absolutely necessary to trade in those Southern Seas, and that there is no book of this kind published in English, to help the attaining of that Language; these considerations, I say, has imboldened me to publish the insuing Dictionary…”. That such a dictionary existed so early in the 18th century, suggests that international trade in the area was significant enough for the English to learn the language of business there, i.e. Malay.

London, United Kingdom
Object size: 23.3 x 18.2 x 4.9 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Malay Heritage Centre
Rare Books