Malay Manuscripts

The first Malay manuscript entered the Bodleian Library in 1633 via Archbishop Laud, and by 1910, when a catalogue was produced by Greentree and Nicholson, there were exactly 12 items in the Malay collections. These include a number of romances, a work on geomancy, several letters, and some lexicographical material.

Two of the letters are available on Digital Bodleian: The first, MS. Douce Or. e. 4, is an original trading permit in the form of a letter dated 1602 from the Sultan of Acheh allowing a merchant, one Harry Middleton, to conduct business along the coasts of Acheh. Middleton is said to have returned to England with a cargo of pepper. The second, MS. Laud Or. Rolls b. 1, also an original letter in scroll format, is from the Sultan Perkāsa ʿĀlam Jūhan to King James I and dated 1615, recommending that trade be carried out with Acheh rather than other provinces. This letter was donated by Archbishop Laud, who may have been presented with it by the King himself.