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Portrait by Claude Laudius Guynier, 1716

John Covel (2 April 1638 – 19 December 1722) was a clergyman and scientist who became Master of Christ's College, Cambridge and vice-chancellor of the University.[1]


Born at Horningsheath, Suffolk, the son of William Covel, John Covel was educated at Bury St Edmunds school and Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was made a fellow in 1659.[2] In 1670 he went to Constantinople as Chaplain to the Levant Company. For two years he was in sole charge of the English Embassy there after the previous ambassador died.[3]

Travel and scholarship

Covel travelled widely in Asia Minor and described the buildings and plants which he saw. He purchased many Greek manuscripts (including codices 65, 110, 321, 322, and ℓ 150).

After his return, Covel spent the winter of 1680/1681 in Suffolk suffering with fever,[4] before becoming Chaplain to the Princess of Orange in The Hague (1681–1685). He was then elected the 15th Master of Christ's in 1688, a position he held until 1723.[5]

In his later years, Covel helped to develop the study of fossils.[6]


  1. ^ Elisabeth Leedham-Green, 'Covel , John (1638–1722)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 23 December 2007.
  2. ^ "Covel or Covill, John (CVL654J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "Electronic Enlightenment: John Covel". Retrieved 31 December 2020. Electronic Enlightenment: John Covel.
  4. ^ "Electronic Enlightenment: John Covel to John Locke". 2019. doi:10.13051/ee:doc/lockjoou0020350b1c. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Christ's College website – list of previous masters". Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  6. ^ Christ's College Magazine, No 154, Easter term 1942.

Further reading

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.