William Marsden (Biographical details)

William Marsden (collector; British; Male; 1754 - 1836)

Also known as

Marsden, William


Born in Dublin, Ireland. Joined the East India Company aged 16 years, and in 1770 set sail for Fort Marlborough (Bencoolen), the British outpost on Sumatra. Spent the five-month voyage studying languages and history of the East. Spent eight years in Sumatra (1771-79). Returned to London in 1779. Published his first work on Sumatra in 1783, on the basis of which he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1784. Received Doctor of Laws degree from Oxford in 1876. Travelled extensively in Europe 1786-194. Sought service in the Admiralty in 1795, and remained in government service unitl 1807. Married in 1807. Participated in the founding of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1823. Member of Horticultural Society of London, and the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. Buried in Kensall Green, Paddington, London. In 1834 donated his entire collection of oriental coins to the British Museum, and his library to King's College, London (subsequently transferred to the School of Oriental and African Studies). His coin collection includes specimens previously in the collection of Sir Robert Ainslie, British Ambassador to Constantinople (q.v.).


The History of Sumatra, 1811; Numismata Orientalia Illustrata, 1823 and 1825 (reprint by Attic Books, New York, 1977); Bibliotheca Marsdenia Philologica et Orientalia, 1827.
See Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; also National Register of Archives.
See Kings College London, Special Collections (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/library/collections/archivespec/collections/specialcollections.aspx)