Online Encyclopedia

WILLIAM MARSDEN (1754-1836)

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 766 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM MARSDEN (1754-1836), English orientalist, the son of a Dublin merchant, was born at Verval, Co. Wicklow on the 16th of November 1754. He was educated in Dublin, and having obtained an appointment in the civil service of the East India Company arrived at Benkulen, Sumatra, in 1771. There he soon rose to the office of principal secretary to the government, and acquired a knowledge of the Malay language and country. Returning to England in 1779 with a pension, he wrote his History of Sumatra, published in 1783. Marsden was appointed in 1795 second secretary and afterwards first secretary to the admiralty. In 1807 he retired and published in 1812 his Gram-mar and Dictionary of the Malay Language, and in 1818 his translation of the Travels of Marco Polo. He was a member of many learned societies, and treasurer and vice-president of the Royal Society. In 1834 he presented his collection of oriental coins to the British Museum, and his library of books and Oriental MSS. to King's College, London. He died on the 6th of October 1836. Marsden's other works are: Numismata orientalia (London, 1823–1825) ; Catalogue of Dictionaries, Vocabularies, Grammars and Alphabets (1996); and several papers on Eastern topics in the Philosophical Transactions and the Archaelogia.
End of Article: WILLIAM MARSDEN (1754-1836)
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Additional information and Comments

The article does not say if it was this Marsden who gave his name to the modern system of dividing the globe into squares each of 10 degrees of latitude and 10 degrees of longitude and numbering them. Marsden squares are much used in meteorology and oceanography. Bearing in mind William Marsden's scientific connection with the Royal Society and his links with the Royal Navy, through the Admiralty, it seems very likely that he is their author. But does anyone know?
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