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John Covel was born at Horningsheath, Suffolk, the son of William Covel. He was educated at Bury St Edmunds school and Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was made a fellow in 1659. In 1670 he went to Constantinople as Chaplain to the Levant Company. For a time he was in sole charge of the embassy there. He travelled widely in Asia Minor and described the buildings and plants which he saw. He purchased a lot of Greek manuscripts (including codices 65, 110, 321, 322, and ℓ 150). After his return and a period as Chaplain to the Princess of Orange in The Hague (1681-1685), he was elected the 15th Master of Christ's in 1688, a position he held until 1723. In his later years he developed the study of fossils.
- Elisabeth Leedham-Green, ‘Covel , John (1638–1722)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 23 Dec 2007
- "Covel or Covill, John (CVL654J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Christ's College website – list of previous masters
- Christ's College Magazine No 154, Easter term 1942
- Jean-Pierre Grélois (Éd.): Dr John Covel, Voyages en Turquie 1675-1677. Texte établi, annoté et traduit par Jean-Piere Grélois, avec une préface de Cyril Mango (Réalités Byzantines 6). Paris 1998. ISBN 978-2-283-60456-4
- Covel, John (1893). "Extracts from the diaries of John Covel (1870-1879)". In Bent, J. Theodore. Early voyages and travels in the Levant. London: Hakluyt Society. pp. 99–287.
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